HC Deb 08 April 1937 vol 322 cc341-2
46. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Prime Minister whether any representations have been made by Governments in other countries to His Majesty's Government regarding the possibility of international agreement on tariffs, quotas and other matters concerning international trade; and whether it is proposed to take any action?

50. Sir P. Harris

asked the Prime Minister whether Monsieur Van Zeeland, the Belgian Prime Minister, has been approached by the British and French Governments with a view of discussing with him methods for the reduction of obstacles to international trade, and, if so, when a conference, if any, between the three countries is likely to take place?

The Prime Minister

No approach has been made to His Majesty's Government by other Governments regarding the possibility of an international agreement on trade matters, although various informal interchanges of views have taken place. His Majesty's Government and the French Government have inquired of the Belgian Prime Minister whether he would be willing to undertake preliminary informal investigations in various countries as to the possibility of securing a general relaxation of quotas and other obstacles to international trade. M. van Zeeland has been good enough to state that he is disposed to accept this invitation. No international conference is at present envisaged.

Mr. Shinwell

May we take it from that answer that the Government are fully conscious of the need for removing undesirable restrictions on international trade and will follow such a course in these discussions?

The Prime Minister

We are, of course, fully aware of it.

Sir P. Harris

Will these inquiries include an inquiry into the possibilities of lowering some of the tariff barriers, as well as dealing with quotas and other restrictions?

The Prime Minister

We do not close our minds to those matters.

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