HC Deb 18 December 1952 vol 509 cc1621-3
45 and 46. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Prime Minister (1) if he will arrange for a materials, power and resources commission to be appointed to investigate, survey and report on Great Britain like the United States of America President's Materials Policy Commission;

(2) if he will consult the Commonwealth representatives with a view to arranging for a Commonwealth materials, power and resources commission to be appointed and report on the Commonwealth like the United States of America President's Materials Policy Commission.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Winston Churchill)

An investigation in this country, which would be largely speculative, would not, I am advised, repay the effort involved. Our economic position would be dominated by balance of payment difficulties and not, as in the United States, by supply difficulties. It is for each Government in the Commonwealth to decide whether a commission on its own resources is desirable.

Mr. Smith

If we can accept that the answer applies to this country, does the Prime Minister also apply it to the Commonwealth as a whole? Has not the time arrived when the Commonwealth as a whole should consider problems of this kind, and will the Prime Minister give his personal consideration to the proposal contained in the Questions so that when the Commonwealth Prime Ministers meet after the Coronation they can give joint consideration to the suggestion?

The Prime Minister

It might well be borne in mind.

Mr. Stokes

In view of the Prime Minister's reply to the first of the two Questions, may I ask him not to pay too much attention to the back-room boys of the Treasury and bear in mind that the output of tin in Cornwall could be multiplied six times if proper attention were paid to it and proper provision were made?

The Prime Minister

I think I can give a guarantee that we shall not pay more attention to the back-room boys of the Treasury than it was customary for the former Minister of Works to pay to the back-room boys at the Ministry of Works.

Mr. Stokes

Am I to understand from the Prime Minister that he intends to pay no attention whatever to the back-room boys of the Treasury?

The Prime Minister

We always endeavour to emulate the highest traditions that are available.

Mr. Gaitskell

With regard to the resources of the United Kingdom, may I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will consider the recommendations of the Westwood Committee's Report? As regards the Commonwealth, were there not discussions on this subject at the recent conference, and can we not hear something further from the Prime Minister about the prospects of the development of raw material production in the Commonwealth?

The Prime Minister

I should not be prepared, in a supplementary reply, to embark upon a considerable exposure of all the details of the large problems mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman.