HC Deb 22 April 1947 vol 436 cc808-9
55. Mr. G. Sharp

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give his estimate of the extent to which British holdings of U.S. dollars will be depleted by the operation of Article 8 of the Anglo-Italian Sterling Payments Agreement; how this compares with the estimated savings of U.S. dollars caused by the proposed reduction in the purchase of U.S. tobacco; and for what reason he has permitted this allocation of British holdings of U.S. dollars.

56. Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the estimated liability in hard currencies for the current financial year occasioned through the convertibility arrangements in the AngloItalian financial agreements.

Mr. Dalton

I cannot give an estimate of our potential liability in hard currencies, since this depends not only on our own transactions with Italy, but upon Italian transactions with other countries in so far as these are settled in sterling. I agreed that net Italian sterling balances should be so available now, because the Italian Government, on their side, have agreed to hold and not to expend £10 million of these balances. Italy should be an increasingly good source of supply for this country.

Mr. Sharp

In view of the fact that the head of the Italian Financial Mission to this country described the pact as a great financial sacrifice and a great act of friendship on the part of the United Kingdom, can the Chancellor of the Exchequer say whether that sacrifice was the British holdings of dollars now made available to the Italians?

Mr. Dalton

I think that this gentleman on returning to his native land wished to give the best account he could of what he had been doing. I think that in some respects his description was a little hyperbolic. I do not regard this as a sacrifice. It was a good bargain for this country.