HC Deb 06 April 1944 vol 398 cc2160-2
28. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in the negotiations with the Free French Committee in deciding the Metropolitan French exchange rate, he will ensure that nothing is done that might disturb the unity of the French Empire and that measures will be taken to prevent an unduly high exchange rate which would favour the purchasing power of Allied troops as against the civil population.

31. Mr. Hynd

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware of the proposal to fix the exchange rate of the franc in Metropolitan France by our occupation authorities at 300 to the £; whether he is satisfied, in the light of the Italian experience, that such a rate of exchange will assist the establishment of good relations between the occupation authorities and our French Allies or the achievement of reasonably stable conditions; and whether, before any arbitrary decision is made on this question, steps will be taken to reach agreement with the French Committee of National Liberation.

32. Mr. G. Strauss

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the concern that a too low exchange value will be fixed for the French franc when that country, or part of it, is occupied by Allied troops, he can now make a definite statement about our intentions in this matter.

Sir J. Anderson

From the nature of the case the rate cannot be announced beforehand, nor can I make any statement which might be interpreted as foreshadowing the decision which in due course will have to be taken. I can, however, say that the views of the French Committee of National Liberation on this matter will be fully taken into account and all relevant factors will, no doubt, be considered.

Mr. Shinwell

In view of what happened in Italy, will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that the exchange rate is not fixed at too high a level which will miliate against the conditions of the civilian population in France? May I ask quite bluntly whether, in consultation over this matter, he will consider thoroughly and adequately the opinion of the French Committee of National Liberation instead of the opinion expressed by the United States Government.

Sir J. Anderson

I have said quite definitely that full account will be taken of the views of the French Committee of National Liberation, and I can add that the object will be to fix the rate, as far as this country is concerned, at a level which has a reasonable chance of being maintained, neither too high nor too low.

Mr. Hynd

Is the Chancellor aware that statements have already been circulated in the Press to the effect that the rate has already been fixed at 300 to the pound? Does he not consider that such statements render a grave disservice to the cause of the United Nations.

Sir J. Anderson

I quite agree that such statements are greatly to be deprecated and there is, in fact, no foundation for any rumour to the effect that the rate has been fixed.

Mr. Astor

Will particular regard be paid to the economic, social and political effects, in view of what happened in Syria and North Africa and Italy as the result of the exchange rates which were fixed, and the other measures which were taken.

Sir J. Anderson

Certainly, Sir.

Sir Frank Sanderson

Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that it is somewhat premature for this matter to be discussed.

Sir J. Anderson

It may not be premature for the matter to be discussed but it certainly is quite premature, unauthorised, and mischievous to have rumours, such as have been in circulation, without ally foundation.

Mr. Lipson

Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that in this, as in other matters, the United States and the British Government should march together.

Sir J. Anderson

That is certainly our view.

Mr. Shinwell

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that we are not responsible for those rumours which have been circulated elsewhere.

Mr. Gallacher

The "Daily Worker" is not responsible.

Sir H. Williams

No, it is irresponsible.