HC Deb 04 June 1957 vol 571 cc1074-5
45. Mr. Cronin

asked the Prime Minister if he will arrange during the forthcoming Commonwealth Conference for the discussion of the question of coordinating withdrawals from the sterling balances held by sterling area countries in the United Kingdom.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

No doubt financial matters will be discussed, but the agenda of the Prime Ministers' Conference is a matter for the Prime Ministers themselves and it is not customary to disclose it in detail.

Mr. Cronin

Would the Prime Minister bear in mind that the combined effect of sterling balance withdrawals and acquisition of capital from the United Kingdom puts an intolerable strain on the balance of payments? Would he, therefore, consider some form of collective Commonwealth responsibility?

The Prime Minister

All these matters, of course, lie underneath any financial discussion. I think that the reply that I have made to the original Question is a correct one, and I hope that the hon. Member will accept it as being in accordance with the customary procedure.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Would the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is planned to hold a Commonwealth Finance Ministers' meeting in the reasonably near future? One has not been held now for a very long time.

The Prime Minister

That is a Question of which I should like to have notice, but I would point out that in connection with meetings of the International Bank it has always been customary—I held one myself when I was Chancellor of the Exchequer—to have a Commonwealth Finance Ministers' meeting at the same time.