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Autobahn Restrictions, Berlin

Volume 467: debated on Wednesday 13 July 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what restrictions are now imposed by the Soviet authorities on the use of the autobahn to Berlin; and what steps he is taking in the matter.

During the night of 8th—9th July lorries bound for Berlin were stopped at Herrnburg, a border crossing-point near Lubbecke, by the Soviet authorities and informed that they could only proceed by the Helmstedt autobahn. During the week-end similar orders appear to have reached all other border crossing-points except Helmstedt. At this latter point, the Soviet border control staff, apparently on instructions, have adopted delaying tactics which have had the effect of reducing the rate of passage to five or six vehicles per hour instead of the normal 15 or 16. This action appears to be inconsistent with the New York and Paris Agreements and it has been the subject of protests by the representatives of the Western Powers in Berlin. The Soviet authorities have not so far produced any satisfactory explanation and the representatives of the Western Powers are continuing to press for the execution of the Paris Agreement.

Since these restrictions appear to be, as my right hon. Friend has said, a deliberate breach of the New York and Paris agreements, will he say whether in the absence of a satisfactory reply His Majesty's Government will consider the re-imposition of restrictions on transit from the Western zone to Berlin?

I did not say that there were deliberate infringements because I have not got that evidence but His Majesty's Government have, if need be, retaliatory action inside their power. We will not be flabby in this matter, but I know that my right hon. Friend would deprecate any incautious attitude upon this subject.

In order that the House may be able to judge more objectively than it can at the moment whether events are a breach or not a breach of an agreement, can my right hon. Friend say how long it will now be before the promised White Paper containing the terms of the agreement and relevant matters will be published?