HC Deb 05 May 1952 vol 500 cc29-30
45. Mr. Walter Fletcher

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the impact on textile and other industries in this country arising from the cancellation of contracts and the diminished flow of orders from members of the British Commonwealth, he will arrange for an economic and financial Empire Conference to coincide if possible with the visit of Mr. Menzies, Prime Minister of Australia, announced for the end of May.

The Prime Minister

I would invite the attention of my hon. Friend to the answer which I gave the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) on 24th March, of which I am sending him a copy. It would not be possible to arrange a conference representative of members of the Commonwealth to coincide with the visit of Mr. Menzies at the end of this month.

Mr. Fletcher

Is not the principle just enunciated by the right hon. Gentleman that prevention is better than cure, and would it not be wise at the present juncture, in view of the additional circumstances since the January meeting, to summon at least some representatives, if not all, to this country?

Mr. Hugh Gaitskell

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that there is a strong feeling in all parts of the House that there should be such an economic and financial conference summoned, and will he please reconsider the matter in consultation with the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

The Prime Minister

It will not be possible to have such a conference at the time of Mr. Menzies' visit. The general question as to when such a conference should be held is another matter.

Mr. Gaitskell

Would the right hon. Gentleman propose to the other Prime Ministers in the Commonwealth that there should be such a conference, say, in June or July if it is not possible to have it in May?

The Prime Minister

I do not consider that such a decision need be taken at this moment.