HC Deb 23 October 1956 vol 558 cc464-5
17. Mr. Fenner Brockway

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what action the British representative on the Board of the World Bank has taken in relation to the negotiations between the President and the Indian Government regarding India's second five-year plan.

Mr. H. Macmillan

None, Sir. The Indian Government is in direct negotiation with the Management of the International Bank in this matter. No report on the negotiations has yet been made to the Executive Board of the Bank.

Mr. Brockway

In view of the implications of these negotiations, particularly in the letter which Mr. Eugene Black, the President of the Bank, sent to the Indian Government on 5th September, will Her Majesty's Government indicate that we are opposed to any political strings being attached to the aid given by this Bank?

Mr. Macmillan

The measure of the good will of the International Bank towards the Government of India lies in the fact that over the past seven years it has approved loans to India worth over 200 million dollars. There is no country, I think—except, perhaps, one—that has borrowed as much from the Bank during that period. The hon. Gentleman can rest assured that when this matter comes to the Board from the Executive, the British representative will play a sympathetic rôle.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Will the Chancellor of the Exchequer bear in mind that it is important for this country, as the head of the Commonwealth, in which in the near future countries will attain their independence, that we should dissociate ourselves from the statement in which political strings are attached to economic aid?

Mr. Macmillan

Yes, but it would be quite inappropriate in the case of this Bank, which is managed by the Executive, for me to instruct our director to take any line until the proper moment. The last people who would wish us to do so would be the Government of India.

Mr. Griffiths

Do I gather that at the proper moment the Government will make the view of this country clear?

Mr. Macmillan

This Bank is run on business lines—

Mr. Stokes

Not like the Government.

Mr. Macmillan

—but like the excellent capitalist business of the right hon. Gentleman opposite—and the management is now in the hands of Mr. Black and his advisers. When the matter comes to the Board, that is the moment when we shall properly state our position.