HC Deb 06 November 1940 vol 365 cc1313-4
4. Sir Malcolm Robertson

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what general and particular instructions have been issued to the mission to South American countries headed by the Marquess of Willingdon; by which Departments of His Majesty's Government those instructions have been issued; whether the mission will proceed to Central as well as to South America; and whether he can describe the qualifications of the members of the mission?

Mr. Butler

The purpose of the mission headed by Lord Willingdon will be to study at first hand the maintenance and improvement of mutual exchanges of trade under the difficult conditions of war. The mission has been instructed to explain British economic and contraband control policy in the countries which it visits. In order to counteract the unscrupulous efforts of Axis propaganda it will show that we have been able to maintain our export trade under war conditions, and it will explain the fundamental necessities underlying our treatment of the problem of purchases and payments. The mission will be armed with instructions on the foregoing lines which have been prepared by all the De- partments concerned. Visits will be paid to all the countries of South America, with one exception, but Central America will not be visited. I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT the names and qualifications of members of the mission. The representatives of trade and industry who accompany the mission were selected by those whose interests they are to represent.

Sir Frank Sanderson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that my right hon Friend who asked this Question was not only Ambassador in the Argentine for a great number of years, but that he was regarded as an ambassador of industry, and, in view of his unique experience, was he consulted in regard to this mission?

Mr. Butler

I am not sure whether the right hon. Member was consulted, but I do know that his experience is appreciated, and no doubt we shall have the value of that experience in the House, where he will doubtless show as much zeal as he has shown in the past.

Sir Percy Harris

Can the Under-Secretary say who was consulted? What were the organisations, what sections of industry? Were they chambers of commerce, or what?

Mr. Butler

All the organisations sending representatives to South America were consulted. We have endless opportunities of consulting business interests, and all those opportunities were taken, and we also had the assistance of those who have long experience of South American countries.

Mr. Bellenger

The right hon. Member spoke of "representatives representing interests in this country." Surely this is not the time for that sort of procedure. Should they not represent one interest and one interest only, the national interest?

Mr. Butler

I am confident that they will do so.

Captain Plugge

Since the right hon. Member who put the original Question is in the House, could he say whether he was consulted?

Mr. Mander

Which is the country which is not to be visited?

Mr. Butler