HC Deb 27 April 1953 vol 514 cc1756-8
45. Mr. Lee

asked the Prime Minister whether he will outline the type of contribution which the Government is prepared to make to the campaign against poverty suggested by the President of the United States of America and welcomed by the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister(Sir Winston Churchill)

Sir, Her Majesty's Govern ment view with keen sympathy President Eisenhower's objective. Great Britain is already making considerable contributions to the campaign against poverty, for example, under the Colombo Plan and by way of grants for colonial development. If a substantial measure of disarmament can be achieved, Her Majesty's Government will, of course, review the measure of overseas assistance which can be given by this country. But I cannot be more precise at the moment about action to be taken in political and economic circumstances which are still, unfortunately, hypothetical.

Mr. Attlee

May I ask the Prime Minister a supplementary question and also take this opportunity of congratulating him on the honour which has been bestowed upon him? The supplementary question I should like to ask is whether, as I understand that there is to be a debate on foreign affairs next week, he would take the opportunity of perhaps enlarging on the subject matter of this discussion?

The Prime Minister

Let me thank the right hon. Gentleman for the very kind words he has spoken and let me also express what is the evident feeling of everyone in the House that he has made such a swift and effective recovery from the severe operation he had to undergo. Taking a general view from here, I must say that he looks very much the better for it.

We have agreed that there should be a debate on foreign affairs on Monday and Tuesday of next week. I had wondered whether it might perhaps not be better to put it off for another week, but I should like to discuss that through the usual channels. Things are so very indeterminate at the present moment that it might be difficult. I am entirely in the hands of the House and, in this matter, of the Opposition, to whom we have given promises, but may I say that, naturally, I shall bring this matter into account, but it must be remembered that we are 50 million in this island and we have to keep alive first.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

May I ask the Prime Minister, more in sorrow than in anger, whether he will give an assurance that he is not on the slippery slope to another place and whether his title is to be Sir Winston I or Sir Winston II?

The Prime Minister

Provided the term "another place" is used in its strictly Parliamentary sense, I will gladly give the assurance required.

Mr. Lee

While apologising for bringing the House back to the Question, may I ask the Prime Minister whether he would agree that in the event of the present peace hopes becoming more concrete it would be necessary for the Government to have plans laid on well in advance of the rearmament programme having to be scaled down? Would he not therefore agree that we must go ahead immediately with alternative in dustrial projects rather than await the time when the rearmament programme will be rapidly scaled down?

The Prime Minister

I think one should always look ahead, but things are so very obscure at the present time that I think it would be unnecessary to begin specific studies of the kind suggested.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Arising out of the last words used by the Prime Minister in answer to the Leader of the Opposition, will he always bear in mind that it is a major interest of this country that supplies of raw materials and food grown in the under-developed parts of the world should be rapidly increased?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir, certainly.