HC Deb 02 June 1949 vol 465 cc2314-5
69. Mr. Stokes

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will state the amount and value of gold exported from each of the British Dominions within the sterling area for the year ended 31st December, 1948.

Mr. Jay

The Government are not responsible for exports of gold by other Commonwealth countries.

Mr. Stokes

I am aware of that, but has not my hon. Friend and his Department any knowledge of this matter? They seem to be vitally interested in any materials other than gold. Apparently we are not to know anything about gold. What is all this secrecy about? Can we be told?

Mr. Jay

There is no secrecy, but it is not the responsibility of the United Kingdom Government to answer questions about exports of gold by other countries. I can tell my hon. Friend that there was a considerable export of gold, of over £100 million, from South Africa to the United States during this period.

Mr. Stokes

I have no doubt that it is not their responsibility. I asked whether my hon. Friend knew and whether he would tell the House. I was not interested in learning that it was not his responsibility. Why cannot he tell us the amount. If he does not know the figure let him say so.

Mr. Jay

We do know, and I have just told the House.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Could the hon. Gentleman say whether this is one of those cases where the gentleman in Whitehall does not know the right answers?

Mr. Mitchison

On a point of Order. Can we have questions on Ministers' knowledge as distinct from their responsibility? We might learn something useful about the Derby winner that way.

Mr. Henry Strauss

Is not the Economic Secretary impressed by this demand in the Questions of the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) for greater profits for sellers of gold?

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Emrys Hughes.

Mr. Platts-Mills

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Are you not calling Question No. 70?

Mr. Speaker

Question No. 70 was cancelled.