HC Deb 31 January 1957 vol 563 c1152
24. Mr. Cronin

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will now admit the other member countries of the sterling area into closer collaboration in the management of the gold and dollar reserve.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Nigel Birch)

Both policy as regards sterling and its day-to-day management must remain the ultimate responsibility of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. However, my right hon. Friend is himself in close touch with his Commonwealth colleagues in the rest of the sterling area. A continuous flow of information is also maintained through numerous Government and central bank channels. While he is always open to any suggestions for improved methods of consultation and co-operation, he has no reason to believe the present machinery for the management of the sterling exchange is unsatisfactory.

Mr. Cronin

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there has been a serious and progressive leakage of dollars from the reserve as the result of weakened exchange controls in other sterling area countries? Is he also aware that there would be considerable advantage in obtaining some advice on the management of the gold and dollar reserve, in view of the fact that the Government's management of it has fallen considerably short of the ideal?

Mr. Birch

Naturally, the question of possible leakages is a matter which is frequently discussed with other sterling area countries.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Will the right hon. Gentleman agree that, in the light of the coming independence of countries like Malaya, which are great dollar earners, it is desirable to achieve much closer collaboration between the various Governments in the Commonwealth sterling area?

Mr. Birch

We believe that the existing collaboration is as close as it can be.