HC Deb 05 April 1951 vol 486 cc364-5
23. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the President of the Board of Trade on what grounds the date of 9th May was selected as the date before which the decisions of the Torquay Conference would not be disclosed.

Mr. H. Wilson

As I informed the House on 22nd March, in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Wembley, South (Mr. Russell) arrangements have been made to bring the Conference at Torquay to a close on 21st April, but the results of the Conference will remain secret until 9th May. It is necessary to have a common date in order to avoid embarrassment to individual Governments by piecemeal disclosure of the results of the Conference and this date has been chosen so as to allow sufficient time for delegations to make their reports to their Governments.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the date selected up to which secrecy will be maintained will be just at the beginning of the Whit-sun Recess? In view of the possibility that the House may wish to look at these proposals, is it not possible for them to be published a week earlier, even though the gentlemen who have been at Torquay all the winter have to expedite their deliberations?

Mr. Wilson

I will do my best to get the results published earlier. I shall have no hesitation in bringing the results of the Torquay Conference before the House, but I am assured that it is not possible to get the work completed and the printing done before that time.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the ban on publication until 9th May extends to agreements like the proposed agreement with Cuba, which was strictly outside the general agreement on tariffs and trade being discussed at Torquay?

Mr. Wilson

I understand that the ban of secrecy would not apply to those discussions.