HC Deb 15 June 1950 vol 476 cc520-1
4. Mr. Russell

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he will consult the Governments of the Dominions as to the advisability of arranging an Empire Economic Conference similar to the Ottawa Conference of 1932 to plan Empire trade and fiscal policy in the light of post-war conditions.

Mr. Gordon-Walker

I can assure the hon. Member that His Majesty's Government have constantly before them the (importance of consultation with other Commonwealth countries on major questions of economic policy as on other matters. He will, of course, be aware that such consultation takes place as a normal matter of day to day business, and, as stated in my reply to the hon. Member on 25th May, we have already had several informal meetings with other Commonwealth representatives since the war to discuss matters of mutual interest connected with Commonwealth trade. A formal high level conference such as he contemplates is by no means the only method of securing the necessary exchange of views on matters of importance. I can assure the hon. Member that his suggestion will be borne fully and continuously in mind.

Mr. Braine

Would the Minister not agree that a high level conference, such as is suggested, would probably be the best method of dealing with questions that are likely to arise as soon as Marshall Aid comes to an end? Is this not a matter of urgency, in view of the approaching end of Marshall Aid?

Mr. Gordon-Walker

I do not know that this is the best method, though it may be. Certainly, it is not for this Government to decide what is the best method.