HC Deb 28 November 1944 vol 404 cc2398-9
55. Mr. A. Edwards

asked the Prime Minister what machinery is in operation for co-ordinating the plans from war to peace production, the personnel of committees dealing with it, and what special steps have been taken to deal with exports.

The Prime Minister

Regarding the co-ordination of plans for the transition from war-time to peace-time production, I have nothing to add to the answer I gave to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wycombe (Sir A. Knox) on 15th November last. As regards preparations for the re-expansion of our export trade, which are, of course, possible only to the very limited extent that war production allows, my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, who is responsible, is dealing with this matter, and is in close touch with the persons and interests concerned.

Mr. Edwards

Is the Prime Minister not aware that there is a great deal of confusion in the business community in view of his own statement recently? There are three Departments concerned with this transitional period, and business people do not appear to be able to get facilities from any one of them. Is he further aware that in the official publication of the American Government, they make it quite clear that post-war trade is part of their war strategy? Is there any reason why our Government should not do the same?

The Prime Minister

A great deal of work is done, and is being done, on all these matters, and every preparation that can be made is being either made or foreseen, but the resources that are left over from the war are not large. The Presi- dent of the Board of Trade has not a great volume of resources at his disposal. I wish they could be more. They will certainly be more when the victory is won in Europe, and as I say, preliminary steps are being taken. All the same, I think I must say that we are dominated and held down in these matters by the weight of the war.

Mr. Shinwell

While appreciating the grave difficulties that beset the Government in switching over instantaneously from war to peace production, may I ask, Does the Prime Minister not recognise that there are several Departments which, in the nature of the case, must deal with all these matters? In view of the present position would it not be desirable to have in this Assembly a representative of the Ministry of Reconstruction, which is primarily responsible for these matters?

The Prime Minister

We have to maintain a proper balance between the two branches of the Legislature.

Mr. De la Bère

Why not have a co-ordinating Minister for common sense?