43. Miss CAZALET
asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he can give the House any further information as regards the postponed Imperial Economic Conference?
The SECRETARY of STATE for DOMINION AFFAIRS (Mr. J. H. Thomas)
As the House is aware, His Majesty's Government in Canada have renewed their invitation for the adjourned meeting of the Economic Section of the Imperial Conference to be held at Ottawa. His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom welcome the invitation and question of date is now the subject of correspondence between the Governments concerned.
§ Sir N. GRATTAN-DOYLE
Under the altered conditions, is it necessary to wait until July for the Conference?
The altered conditions make that especially necessary. I have no hesitation in saying that I interpret the feelings of the House when I say that the risk of the failure of this Conference must not be considered, and that the necessary preparation and time for the hammering out of details ought to be the first consideration to ensure its success. Incidentally, there is the question of the Dominions themselves. A Conference before July would be impossible. It would be absurd to convene a Conference if one of the Dominions, for domestic reasons, was unable to attend. All these facts must be considered.
§ Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT
May I ask whether, in view of the necessary delay in holding the Conference, the right hon. Gentleman will use his influence to see that in any changes of policy which take place in the meantime preferential arrangements with the Dominions will be the basis of such changes?
I can conceive no Government shaping any policy that was likely to prejudice in advance the situation that will arise from Imperial interests.
§ Mr. T. GRIFFITHS
Has the right hon. Gentleman altered his opinion that it would be humbug to meet these people, after his experience of the last Conference?
§ Mr. HANNON
Do the answers of the right hon. Gentleman to-day indicate that any steps towards Imperial economic unity cannot be taken before the Imperial Conference next July?
No. My answer does not imply that at all. In answer to the question put by the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Griffiths), I may say that no such construction can be placed upon any views to which I gave expression. I never altered my view, and I do not alter it to-day, that it is possible to get a sound Imperial policy. It is towards that and that I am directing my efforts at the moment. The answer that I have given about July is to ensure the representation of all the Dominions. Anything that affects the Dominions in advance of that will, naturally, not prejudice the ultimate considerations that will be borne in mind at the Conference.