HC Deb 13 March 1946 vol 420 cc1093-4
45 and 46. Mr. Maclay

asked the Prime Minister(1) what arrangements now exist for regular consultation between His Majesty's Government and Dominion Governments on matters of major importance affecting the Commonwealth as a whole, and

(2) What arrangements now exist for consultation and the exchange of information between the various Departments of His Majesty's Government and the equivalent Departments of Dominion Governments when subjects are under consideration, decisions on which will materially affect all or any of the Dominions.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

It would not be possible, within the limits of a reply to a Question, to give a detailed account of the system of communication and consultation with the Dominions on matters of common concern. The arrangements have been described in previous statements both in this House and in another place, and the hon. Member may be assured that there is full exchange of information and views on all questions of general policy. The normal procedure is direct communication between the Governments, but there are other valuable methods of consultation including discussion between Prime Ministers or Ministers of the respective Governments, between United Kingdom Ministers and Dominion High Commissioners in London, and between United Kingdom High Commissioners in the Dominions and Dominion Ministers. As regards individual United Kingdom Departments, there are various arrangements for liaison with corresponding Dominion Departments and in some cases standing bodies on which all the Governments are represented. In addition, where necessary, conferences are arranged on particular subjects, either in the United Kingdom or in other parts of the Commonwealth.

Mr. Maclay

While I thank the Prime Minister for his very full reply, may I ask him whether he is satisfied that these arrangements really are producing satisfactory results, and whether full advantage will be taken of the forthcoming Dominions Conference to discuss the matter in detail, in view of its very great importance?

The Prime Minister

I was myself Secretary of State for the Dominions at one time, and I am satisfied that there was very full consultation, which continues up to the present time. I am hoping that the conference with the Prime Ministers will be extremely useful in forwarding the ends the hon. Member has in view.