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Germany (Naval Vessels)

Volume 641: debated on Friday 5 May 1961

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asked the Lord Privy Seal why he has agreed through Western European Union to raising the limits on West German naval vessels from 3,000 to 6,000 tons and to their production of influence mines.


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether Her Majesty's Government supported the decision of the Council of Western European Union to lift certain restrictions upon German naval building and arms production; and whether, in particular, Her Majesty's Government approved the decision to allow the Federal Republic to build destroyers and other vessels of 6,000 tons each.


asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on further revisions of the Brussels Treaty protocols agreed upon by the Council of Western European Union to permit West Germany to construct naval vessels of a larger tonnage than hitherto.

A full statement on the recent decision of the Western European Union Council, and on the attitude adopted by Her Majesty's Government, was given in my answer of 31st May to my honourable Friend the Member for Battersea, South (Mr. Partridge). The amendments were adopted unanimously by the Council and have the support of Her Majesty's Government. They have been recommended by the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and, as my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence said on 31st May, they will enable Germany to contribute more effectively to the collective defence of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation area.

Are not these excuses unpleasantly reminiscent of the Government's step-by-step rearmament of Germany in pre-war days? Is not the truth that these bigger destroyers are to accommodate missiles? Is the Minister trying to give the House the old "guff" that the nuclear warheads will be kept separately, since it must be obvious to him that in times of emergency they will be kept on the ships, thereby giving German officers power to start World War III?

These are not excuses. These are the reasons why the steps are being taken. As Germany has been integrated into N.A.T.O. in defence of the West, they are justified.

Is the Lord Privy Seal aware that these rather radical changes in the Treaty have been carried out, or decided upon, without submission to Parliament? Did not the House and the country understand when the Treaty was originally drawn that the arms limitation of the Federal Republic was one of the cardinal points in the Treaty? Is there not growing concern in the country about turning the Federal Republic, not into one of the members making a contribution to N.A.T.O., but into the dominant Power in Europe?

Provision was made in the revised Brussels Treaty for these amendments. That procedure has been followed in this case.

In the build-up of German forces of N.A.T.O. for Western defence, can my right hon. Friend say whether this will have any effect in lightening the burden on the British taxpayer?

It is obviously quite right that all members of the N.A.T.O. alliance should play their full part in contributing towards defence.

In order that the House may have full information, will the right hon. Gentleman consider publishing in the OFFICIAL REPORT the total tonnage of the present German Navy and the proposed addition compared with the total tonnage of the British Navy and also the percentage of the German Navy's tonnage compared with that of the N.A.T.O. allies?

Is it not a fact that these vessels are primarily designed to work in the Baltic? Since the Baltic is one of the weakest places we have at the moment, should we not be pleased that in that place the position is being strengthened?