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Volume 466: debated on Monday 4 July 1949

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Berlin Air Lift


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what assistance France has given in the Berlin air lift.

The French Occupation Authorities control the unloading operations at Tegel airport, one of the three Berlin terminals of the air lift, and their assistance there has been of great value. No aircraft engaged in the air lift are based in the French zone which is geographically remote from the three air corridors leading in and out of Berlin. French aircraft have not participated in the operation because, I understand, they have had no suitable aircraft available.

Have any representations been made to France to lend one or two machines of Air France, as we have lent machines from our civil airlines?

I can only repeat that no suitable craft have been available. It does not necessarily follow that the machines of Air France would have fulfilled the qualifications required.

Is it not also a fact that France has declined to permit any of her food or other commodities to go on this Berlin expedition?

That is a quite unjustifiable assumption and is not connected with this Question.

Railway Workers, Berlin


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how much of the subvention of the wages of the railway workers by the West Berlin Magistrat is being provided from British sources.

Would it be possible for my right hon. Friend to ask the other Members of the Government to give the same support to the demands of British railwaymen as they purport to have given to the alleged demands of these railwaymen?

The question of support, or non-support, does not arise. I was asked from where the subvention came. The answer is that the authorities are not responsible at all for the subvention.

British Personnel (Vegetables)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will so amend his regulations that British personnel in Berlin will be permitted to buy fresh vegetables grown locally.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a glut of vegetables in Berlin but that British personnel in Berlin have to wait a couple of days to get vegetables from Holland? Will he look into this grievance?

I have looked into it most carefully. It is true that there is a temporary glut but it is due to the fact that buyers rushed in during the temporary suspension of the blockade. But Berlin, over a considerable period, is a deficit area in vegetables, and His Majesty's Government would not agree to place further burdens on the Berliners in this matter.

Oil-From-Coal Plants (Repairs)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what is the total expenditure he has sanctioned for repairs to oil-from-coal plants in Germany which have been now scheduled for destruction.

I am unable to confirm the reports circulated by the German firms concerned as to the amounts which they claim to have expended on their own responsibility. The specific expenditure in question was not sanctioned by Military Government which, at the request of the Land Government, merely authorised the grant of a licence for repair work.

Is the Minister aware that I was told by the president of the miners' union in the Ruhr that 17 million marks had been sanctioned for this purpose? Is he aware that this view is very generally held in the Ruhr, and is there some foundation for it?

I am aware that it is quite genuinely held, but I am also firmly aware, and have evidence, that the view and the figures are being circulated by the German firms affected.