HC Deb 01 November 1945 vol 415 cc634-5
The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Dalton)

I should like to make a statement regarding Commonwealth Telecommunications Services.

The Commonwealth Telecommunications Conference held in London this summer considered the future of Commonwealth telecommunications services on the basis of a Report prepared by Lord Reith after his mission to the Dominions and India earlier this year.

The Conference unanimously recommended:

  1. (1) A fundamental change in the organisation of Commonwealth telecommunications services.
  2. (2) The public ownership of overseas telecommunications services of all the Commonwealth Governments.
  3. (3) The replacement of the existing Commonwealth Communications Council by a New Board with wider functions, representing all the Governments of the Commonwealth.
  4. (4) Financial contributions by members of the Commonwealth for the maintenance and use of the cable system.
His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom have accepted these recommendations, so far as they affect this country. Subject to the agreement of Parliament, the overseas telecom- munications services now operated by Cable and Wireless Limited will, therefore, be transferred to public ownership. Legislation will be introduced in due course. The arrangements and terms for this transfer are under discussion.

Mr. Churchill

I presume we shall have an opportunity of discussing this matter?

Mr. Dalton

Yes, a Bill will be introduced and there will be plenty of opportunity.

Mr. Thomas Macpherson

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he realises the pleasure with which his statement on a united Empire Socialist policy will be received not only in this country but elsewhere?

Mr. William Williams

Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Postmaster-General will be the appropriate Minister to deal with this concern so far as the United Kingdom is concerned?

Mr. Dalton

I would suggest that my hon. Friend await the introduction of the Bill in which it will be made clear how the matters will be ordered.