§ Mr. Watkins (by Private Notice)
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is in a position to give any information about the recent discussions at Washington with a view to the conclusion of a Wheat Agreement?
§ The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Dalton)
I am glad to be able to say that the wheat discussions in Washington have been satisfactorily concluded and the text of the agreed documents is available in a White Paper which was presented yesterday.
His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom have agreed with His Majesty's Governments in Canada and Australia, the Government of the United States and the Government of Argentina, on the outline of a wheat Convention which will later be submitted to a larger conference of the countries interested.
Meanwhile, the five Governments will regard certain arrangements as in effect amongst themselves, and a Wheat Council, on which they will have equal representation and voting rights, will be set up to administer these arrangements. In the first place, a relief pool of 100,000,000 bushels of wheat, and more as may be required, will be created forthwith to ensure that supplies of wheat and flour shall be available to any territory as soon as it is liberated from enemy control. This practical measure for relief should hearten oppressed peoples everywhere. Secondly, after the cessation of hostilities certain other provisions of the Convention will be brought into effect for a period of two years, pending the conclusion of longer-term arrangements. Basic minimum and maximum export prices for wheat and flour from the four principal countries of supply will be fixed by unanimous agreement of the five Governments. The four exporting countries will guarantee wheat for export at prices not exceeding the maxima so fixed. They will also control their production, so as to provide what the Vice-President of the United States has called an "ever-normal granary," but at the same time to discourage excessive stocks. Further, they will maintain a scheme of export quotas in terms of percentages of their combined exports. These arrangements should have the effect of steadying inter- 514 national trade in wheat in the period of transition from war to peace.
It will be for the larger conference to which I have referred to decide how far these arrangements, should be embodied and extended in a wider agreement.