HC Deb 01 March 1938 vol 332 cc903-4
47. Mr. H. G. Williams

asked the Prime Minister whether he can undertake that no decision to sign a trade agreement with the United States will be taken until it has been published in draft and discussed in Parliament?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Chamberlain)

No, Sir. It is, however, the practice of His Majesty's Government, in order to provide opportunity for Parliamentary consideration in ordinary cases, to lay treaty engagements for 21 Parliamentary days before ratification by His Majesty in all cases when the continuance of the Parliamentary Session makes this course practicable. When it does not, or when considerations of urgency require ratification without this preliminary, action would be taken accordingly and Parliament would be notified as soon as may be afterwards.

Mr. Williams

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the overwhelming majority of industrial and agricultural opinion is gravely perturbed about these negotiations, and does he realise the grave anxiety that those concerned should have some opportunity of knowing to what they are committed before His Majesty's Government sign a document which, in honour, they will be compelled to proceed to ratification?

Sir P. Harris

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the vast majority of people want a good understanding and desire the treaty to be made?

The Prime Minister

I do not think there is any foundation for the anxiety of industry and agriculture. In any case, I imagine there will be opportunities for discussion before ratification.

Mr. Williams

Is it not the case that every responsible industrial organisation in the country has made urgent representations to His Majesty's Government on this matter and up to now has received no satisfaction whatever?

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