HC Deb 23 November 1950 vol 481 c498
39. Mr. Peter Smithers

asked the President of the Board of Trade what agreements he has made with foreign Powers which prevent his answering questions with regard to rates of Imperial Preference in the House of Commons.

Mr. H. Wilson

No such agreements have been made, but it is one of the rules of procedure for the tariff negotiations, which have been adopted by all representatives of the contracting parties to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, including the United Kingdom, that all lists of requests and offers are to be treated as secret.

Mr. Smithers

But did not the British representatives agree to these rules oft procedure, and is it not undesirable that the President of the Board of Trade should say in answer to a Question in this House that he is precluded from answering Questions by agreement with foreign Powers?

Mr. Wilson

We certainly did agree to this scheme; and I am sure it is highly desirable that while these negotiations are going on we should not have them freely aired in public. In saying that I am following the precedent set in the Anglo-American commercial negotiations of 1938.