HC Deb 05 July 1937 vol 326 cc23-5
45. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the joint statement issued by President Roosevelt and the Belgian Prime Minister in relation to the work of rebuilding international trade co-operation in monetary matters and the reduction of armaments; and whether he will offer the co-operation of His Majesty's Government with a view to the summoning of a world conference or otherwise facilitating the attainment of such objectives?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain)

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which my predecessor gave to him in reply to a question on 22nd April.

Mr. Henderson

In view of the fact that the international situation is steadily deteriorating, does not the Prime Minister consider this to be an urgent matter, and will he not approach President Roosevelt with a view to assembling such a world conference?

The Prime Minister

It is rash to assume that you can solve the difficult problems in the world merely by calling a world conference. It must be preceded by very careful preparation.

Sir A. Sinclair

Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to an article in the journal "Foreign Affairs" by the economic adviser to the Secretary of State in Washington, in which he points out that the real obstacle to an agreement of this kind is the fixed margin of preference in the Ottawa Agreements; and are the Government prepared to deal with that obstacle?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir; I have not seen the article, and I do not agree with that conclusion.

Mr. Lansbury

Are the Government taking any preparatory steps to bring about such a conference, whether it is a world conference or a more limited one?

The Prime Minister

The Government have shown their willingness to co-operate for the purposes mentioned in the question, both in entering into the Tripartite Monetary Agreement and also, in conjunction with the French Government, in asking the Belgian Prime Minister to make a series of inquiries, about which I am hoping to hear from the Belgian Prime Minister himself this afternoon.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Is it not a fact that this country in the last five years has bought £350,000,000 worth more manufactured goods from America than America bought from us?

Sir John Haslam

Will my right hon. Friend inform America that example is better than precept where tariffs are concerned?

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