HC Deb 18 November 1930 vol 245 cc228-30
39. Mr. ALBERY

asked the President of the Board of Trade what Colonies, Protectorates, or Territories of the British Empire were especially excepted under Article 15 by the Government under the International Commercial Convention discussed at Geneva?


The United Kingdom delegate declared at the time of signing the Convention that his signa- ture did not cover any of His Britannic Majesty's Colonies, Protectorates, or Territories under suzerainty or mandate. As the Protocol to Article 15 provided that the Convention applied in relation to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man as if they were Colonies, they were also excluded at the time of signature.


Does that reply mean that none of the Dominions or Colonies shares the right hon. Gentleman's views on this Convention?


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he has now considered the communication from the Manchester Chamber of Commerce urging the Government to postpone sine die any decision in respect of the signing of the Tariff Truce; and what action he proposes to take in the matter?


I have received a communication from the chamber urging that further action to bring the Convention into force should be postponed in view of the small number of States which have ratified it. I understand, however, that there is a probability that a number of other States will take steps to ratify, and in these circumstances I am at present unable to indicate what action in the matter may prove desirable.


Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it would be wise to postpone any further steps in relation to this Convention, at least until the postponed Economic Conference of the British Empire has met and made its recommendations?


No. I have always told the House that, quite apart from our views on Free Trade or Protection, it is surely desirable to encourage every movement to reduce European tariffs. I have previously said to the right hon. Gentleman that the ratification of this Convention on our part is quite without prejudice to any steps that may he taken arising from the recent Imperial Conference, because in fact we could give notice, if necessary, at the 1st February and be out of all obligation in relation to this Convention by the 1st April.


In order that the Conference which is to continue at Ottawa in June of next year may not be prejudiced, will the right hon. Gentleman give notice on the 1st February to determine the Convention?


How could anyone promise that at the present time, when we do not yet know what will come either of the negotiations under this Convention or of the further discussion arising out of the adjourned Imperial Conference?


Does the right hon. Gentleman think it consistent with the comity that we owe to our sister Dominions to pledge this Government in advance of the discussions of the Conference, in which they agreed to take part with the Dominions, in the middle of the summer of next year?


No, I am unable, if I may say so with respect, to agree with my right hon. Friend on that point, because of the dates which I have mentioned. We can, in fact, be quite clear of this, by notice on the 1st February, by the let April, and, strictly speaking, the Imperial Conference is not prejudiced in any way.