HC Deb 26 March 1936 vol 310 cc1417-8

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, before concluding any agreements, whether new or revised, with foreign countries, he will submit the proposed terms in full to Empire countries which may be affected in sufficient time for reasonable modifications to be made before such agreements are ratified?

94. Mr. SANDYS

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can give an assurance that, before opening negotiations for the renewal or modification of existing trade agreements with foreign countries, he will examine with representatives of the Dominions and Colonies concerned the possibilities of supplying from Empire sources on comparable terms United Kingdom requirements at present imported from foreign countries under these agreements?


It is the practice of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom to inform Empire Governments whenever it is intended to enter upon trade negotiations with a foreign country and in this way to afford any part of the Empire, which may be interested, an opportunity of making representations. Such representations always receive most careful consideration, but it would not, I fear, be practicable to delay the conclusion of agreements with foreign countries in the way suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for King's Norton (Mr. Cartland).


Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that the Dominions will be brought into consultation during the course of negotiations and not merely invited to make representations?


Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that he will not only inform the Dominions, but actively consult with all of them?


I do not know how far my hon. Friends would go in consultation, but we are keeping in as close touch with them as we can.

93. Mr. SANDYS

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can assure the House that he will not conclude or extend trade agreements with foreign countries for a period beyond the probable date of the conclusion of a revision of the Ottawa Agreements, in order that foreign agreements may., if necessary, be adjusted in the light of such agreements as may be reached with Empire countries?


I have noted my hon. Friend's suggestion. As he will appreciate, I cannot forecast the dates on which, or the periods for which, it may be found necessary to make new or revised trade agreements with foreign countries, but representations from any part of the Empire in connection with commercial negotiations always receive the fullest consideration.


Does my right hon. Friend recognise that it is important, when we approach the next Imperial Economic Conference, that we should not go with our hands tied?

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