HC Deb 29 March 1945 vol 409 cc1535-6
55. Mr. Craven-Ellis

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is now prepared to give the House detailed information of the scope and object of the discussions between Lord Keynes, a number of Members of this House and himself.

Sir J. Anderson

These were informal talks between certain hon. Members and myself arranged, so far as I am concerned, partly in order to meet requests that had been made to me and partly in order that I might have the advantage of hearing any views that those hon. Members might care to express. I do not think it would be in accordance either with the practice or with the general wish of the House that a Minister should be called upon to give an account of such proceedings on the Floor of the House. Nor do I think that the House would wish to interfere with the long-established practice of holding informal talks of this nature.

Sir Ralph Glyn

Would it not entirely destroy contact between colleagues in the House if any such statement was made?

Sir J. Anderson

That is how it seemed to me.

Mr. Buchanan

Is the Minister aware that there is a feeling that in the contacts he had he gave a certain preference to a group of Members in their approach to him? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, that is so, and it is no use saying, "No."

Sir J. Anderson

I did my best to afford facilities to all Members whom I thought might like to take advantage of my offer to see them. I had certain consultations as to whom should be invited. Some Members took the initiative in writing to me, and if my hon. Friend or anyone else who has not been included in this series of conferences likes to come, I shall be delighted.

Mr. Buchanan

Is the Minister aware that there is a feeling, which I share—and I also say this to the Leader of the House, because it applies on other issues as well—that there are certain groups of privileged Members, who are picked for these discussions? I have been in the House for a long time and never once have I been invited, and I do not think that I am less intelligent than other Members. I have never been approached in any way in these matters, on which there is a feeling that a privilege is given to certain Members.

Sir Alfred Beit

Would it not be quite useless to ask Members to interviews of this kind, unless they had some understanding of the subject under discussion?

Mr. Buchanan

How do they know? What understanding have these other hon. Members?

Mr. Craven-Ellis

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is the feeling that these meetings have been called for the purpose of endeavouring to get Members to support the Bretton Woods proposals, so that he can inform the Prime Minister that the House will be in favour of any Motion which the Government put forward on this matter?