HC Deb 09 June 1931 vol 253 cc786-7
13. Sir Kingsley WOOD

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs if he is now in a position to make a further statement concerning the forthcoming Ottawa Conference?


asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether the British representatives to the Ottawa Conference have yet been appointed; if so, what their names are; what preparation has been made in this country for the work of the conference; and whether it is the intention of the Government to propose any definite measure of imperial economic preference?


asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he has any informartion as to the intention of the various British Dominions in regard to attendance or non-attendance at the postponed Imperial Conference at Ottawa?


As the House is aware, the arrangements for the Conference have been in the hands of His Majesty's Government in Canada. As announced in the Press this morning, a statement was made yesterday in the Canadian Parliament by the Prime Minister of Canada to the effect that owing to the difficulties experienced by Australia and New Zealand in arranging for full representation in August it had become necessary for the Canadian Government to propose postponement of the Conference till 1932, and that all the other Governments concerned had accepted the proposal.


Is it not the case that the withdrawal of the Dominion Conference is due to the attitude the present Government adopted at the last Imperial Conference?


Pending the summoning of the adjourned Conference, will the Government give favourable consideration to extending the marketing order to Empire butter and other Empire produce?


Is it the case that the British Government made no definite proposals before the time when the postponement was decided?


I am glad of the opportunity of answering the question, because it is equally necessary to protect the Dominions concerned. Some of the supplementary questions reflect upon the Dominions. The British Government acquiesced in the date suggested by Mr. Bennett. Mr. Bennett then made a request to the British Government for a postponement, based upon reasons that were satisfactory to him. We had no other alternative than to accept Mr. Bennett's suggestion.


On a point of Order. Is it in order for the right hon. Gentleman to suggest that there was anything derogatory to the Dominions in my supplementary question. It did not mention the Dominions. It merely asked a definite question, whether or not the British Government have made any proposals, to which I have not had any reply.


Suggestions of that kind are always undesirable.


In view of the apparently definite postponement of the Conference, will the Government now lay before the House its own proposals for the control of imports and the better organisation of the import and export trade?