Skip to main content


Volume 178: debated on Wednesday 24 October 1990

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent meetings he has had with other Foreign Ministers regarding German reunification; and if he will make a statement.

On 12 September in Moscow, with his German, French, American and Russian colleagues, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs signed the treaty on the final settlement with respect to Germany. On 1 October in New York, they signed a declaration suspending four-power rights and responsibilities with effect from German unification on 3 October.

We welcome the unification of Germany in peace and freedom. We will be working with the united Germany as a friend, ally and partner for the peace and prosperity of Europe and the wider world.

Is the Minister aware that it will not be lost on the British people, who are suffering from high interest rates, rocketing unemployment and a massive trade deficit, that in the next two years, in order to carry out the German takeover, not reunification, this lousy Tory Government are to hand out £32 million of taxpayers' money to bail out shipyards in East Germany while shutting down shipyards in Sunderland and Birkenhead? The whole thing stinks to high heaven.

I am delighted that the hon. Gentleman's question was reached this afternoon as it enables me to offer him an apology for suggesting that his voting record in support of his party was not what it might be. Not only did he vote against the last Labour Government more than anyone else—he also had one of the highest voting records in their favour because of his consistent attendance in the House.

As I explained to the hon. Gentleman on Friday, the cost of German unification to the United Kingdom this year will be nil, and next year it will be £32 million. That is considerably less than the British taxpayer has spent subsidising the coal industry over many years. I realise that he and many of his hon. Friends are unable to give unification the welcome that we can because they still aspire to a Trabant-owning autocracy.