HC Deb 04 July 1957 vol 572 cc1297-8
45. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Prime Minister what discussions took place at the Commonwealth conference with regard to the need for the maximum mutuality in trade and the need to maintain international standards; and what action he proposes to take in these matters.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

The discussions are not yet complete. I would ask the bon. Gentleman to await the communiqué.

Mr. Shinwell

On the completion of the discussions of this very important matter affecting the whole Commonwealth, will the Prime Minister make a report to the House to enable hon. Members to debate the issue? Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that in all quarters of the House there is great anxiety about the future of Commonwealth trade?

The Prime Minister

It would be best to wait until the discussions are complete. The conference has been very important and very valuable and I hope that the House will feel that the work done has been useful, and, more than that, constructive. Perhaps the best way of discussing a debate would be through the usual channels, which could also discuss an appropriate method.

46. Mr. Russell

asked the Prime Minister if he will support the proposal of the Prime Minister of Canada that a Commonwealth trade conference should be held with a view to increasing inter-Commonwealth trade.

The Prime Minister

This proposal is now being discussed with the Prime Minister of Canada and my other Commonwealth colleagues now gathered in London. I would ask my hon. Friend to wait until the present discussions have been completed.

Mr. Russell

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply, will he agree that in principle such a conference is highly desirable and will he do whatever he can to bring it about?

The Prime Minister

Yes, but my hon. Friend will realise that I have two duties, to represent the United Kingdom and to preside over the conference. I hope that we shall reach useful conclusions on this, as on other matters.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Is the Prime Minister aware that an increasing number of our fellow countrymen are inclined to the view put forward by the Prime Ministers of Canada and India? If the right hon. Gentleman is favourably inclined towards it, is it his intention to take the initiative for an early Commonwealth conference with a view to considering these matters?

The Prime Minister

All this is very helpful to us, and I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for what he said.