HC Deb 30 July 1930 vol 242 cc473-5

(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether he is in a position to make any statement as to the agenda for the Imperial Conference?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald)

The Imperial Conference will afford an opportunity for a general review and discussion of all matters, both in the political and economic spheres, of common interest to the members of the British Commonwealth under the following heads:

  1. (1) Inter-Imperial relations.
  2. (2) Foreign policy and defence.
  3. (3) Economic questions.
As regards inter-Imperial relations particular questions for consideration will be the recommendations of the recent Conference on the Operation of Dominions Legislation, including certain matters expressly mentioned in the Report of that Conference as requiring further examination, namely, nationality and the suggested tribunal for the determination of inter-Imperial disputes; also other matters of a constitutional character cognate to and arising from those discussed in the Report of the Inter-Imperial Relations Committee of the Conference of 1926. Under the head of nationality the special question of the position of married women will be included.

As regards foreign policy and defence the agenda will cover the further development of a peace and arbitration policy. This heading will include the question of the reduction and limitation of armaments, together with any specific subjects connected with foreign policy which may require examination and various aspects of defence.

On the economic side the following will be the main headings:

  1. (a) General question of the trade of the Empire, including capital investments and establishment of branch industries, the effect of successive tariff changes and the extent and effect of inter-Imperial tariff preferences, and also of other factors such as cartels, etc.;
  2. (b) bulk purchase and price stabilisation;
  3. (c) development of inter-Imperial trade by trade commissioner services, exhibition and general publicity;
  4. (d) oversea settlement;
  5. (e) the past and future work of the Imperial Economic Committee, the Empire Marketing Board and the Imperial Institute;
  6. (f) questions of co-operation in agricultural research (including cotton growing), forestry and minerals;
  7. (g) special meetings of experts on industrial research and standardisation;
  8. (h) transport and communications, including review of the work of the Imperial Shipping Committee and the Oversea Mechanical Transport Council, survey of steamship services, development of civil aviation, cable, radio, 475 broadcasting, postal and news services. Under this heading would come also the question of the proposed agreements relating to merchant shipping legislation recommended in the Report of the Conference on the Operation of Dominion Legislation.


Will the heading of bulk purchase include the consideration of schemes for the reciprocal development of British exports to the Dominions as part of the general scheme of purchase?


Everything which is raised germane to the subject will be considered.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say how he proposes that the imperial Conference can deal with questions of reciprocal preference as long as we in this country have banged, bolted and barred the door against the Dominions?