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Deconcentration Of Industry

Volume 643: debated on Wednesday 5 July 1961

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asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will now make a statement on progress made with deconcentration of German industry required by Allied High Commission Law No. 27, as announced to the House on 4th March, 1953.

The Allied deconcentration measures have been carried through to completion, in accordance with the Bonn Settlement Convention, except for the disposal under the Krupp Deconcentration Plan of the coal and steel assets incorporated in the Rheinhausen company.

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for not seeking to answer Questions Nos. 3 and 4 together, may I ask him why six weeks ago the House of Lords was given the full figures when the noble Marquess in another place said that £100 million of Krupp assets had not been disposed of and that the Krupp turnover was now £452 million a year? Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that those of us who hold a favourable view towards the Common Market will be affected by the fact that this notorious war criminal is likely to dominate our steel industry? Was the right hon. Gentleman unaware of this statement in another place five or six weeks ago? Otherwise why did he not mention it to the House of Commons today?

If the hon. Gentleman will look at my Answer in the OFFICIAL REPORT he will see that there is exactly the situation I have described. The hon. Gentleman asked for a progress report. The scheme has been carried through, as I said, except for the disposal of the Krupp assets incorporated in the Rheinhausen company. If the hon. Gentleman wants the full and detailed figures I will give them to him if he will put down another question.

Does the Lord Privy Seal not remember an undertaking that was given to this House in 1953 by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he had now embodied this agreement in the Bonn Convention Agreement No. 17. Chancellor Adenauer agreed that it would be enforced, but that it might take a year or two to enforce, but now, when the Lord Privy Seal says "with the exception of", is it not the fact that the Krupp assets were estimated at £112 million and that the amount he says he has accepted is £100 million—or about 90 per cent. of the amount for which they were going to be disposed of in 1953?

Other assets were disposed of under that plan, but the situation remains as the hon. Gentleman described. In fact, of course, the Mixed Committee of Experts was given the reponsibility of looking at this progress over the years, and it recommended another extension until 31st January, 1962. It could not have done that under its terms of reference unless there had been evidence that a genuine attempt had been made to sell the assets and than it had not proved possible to do so.