HC Deb 21 March 1961 vol 637 cc204-8
42. Mr. Donnelly

asked the Prime Minister if he will lay proposals before the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference regarding the admission of China to the United Nations.

44. Mr. Tilney

asked the Prime Minister whether, so as to encourage the transfer of fresh private capital to certain Commonwealth Territories, he has discussed with the other Commonwealth Prime Ministers the possibility of establishing a Commonwealth Capital Investment Insurance Fund to underwrite possible future risks of nationalisation, discrimination, sequestration, currency devaluation and the inability to remit profits because of exchange control.

46 and 47. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Prime Minister (1) whether the subject of restrictions imposed on Commonwealth shipping by the methods adopted by United States and other foreign shipping interests was under consideration at the Prime Ministers' Conference; and if he will make a statement;

(2) whether the subject of United Kingdom and Commonwealth defence was under consideration at the Prime Ministers' Commonwealth Conference; and if he will make a statement.

50 and 52. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Prime Minister (1) what discussions he has had with the Commonwealth Prime Ministers at present in London regarding the plan to encourage young people in the technically-advanced areas of the Commonwealth to undertake voluntary social service in the technically-underdeveloped areas of the Commonwealth;

(2) what progress has been made at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference on a point approach at the United Nations to a Commonwealth initiative on disarmament.

53. Mr. Brockway

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the conclusions of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference.

57. Mr. Grimond

asked the Prime Minister what discussions he has had with the Commonwealth Prime Ministers over the formation of a service recruited from within the Commonwealth and available for technical and administrative posts either within or outside the Commonwealth.

The Prime Minister

I would refer to the communiqués issued during and at the end of the meetings.

Mr. Donnelly

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that almost the biggest single problem in international affairs in the world today is the introduction of China to the conference table? How does he propose that we can hold realistic disarmament negotiations without them being present?

The Prime Minister

There is another Question about that on the Order Paper. Without anticipating it, I would say that, of course, I am aware of this problem, but I do not feel it right to give the kind of discussion which took place, or what questions were roamed over or dealt with at one point or another in this wide discussion, other than as stated in the communiqués.

Mr. Tilney

In any future negotiations that he has with his fellow Prime Ministers will my right hon. Friend bear in mind, in the interests of Commonwealth union, the need to consider means of providing capital investment in the Commonwealth, and the fact that at the moment people fight shy of such investment because of events in Africa and elsewhere?

The Prime Minister

I am aware of the importance of this matter. I have taken note of it.

Mr. Marquand

If he draws the attention of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers to this very important subject, will the Prime Minister also draw their attention to the large amount of work which has already been done by the Council of Europe and to its publication, "Europe and Africa" which deals with this matter in great detail?

The Prime Minister

Yes. I think it is a very remarkable and valuable publication.

Mr. Shinwell

I do not expect the Prime Minister to disclose anything which is confidential, but is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it would be interesting to know whether the subject of shipping vis-à-vis action by the United States shipping interests was under consideration? Is he aware that it would be interesting to know what happened? Would it be possible to know whether the subject of Commonwealth defence was under consideration. In general, was there any discussion?

The Prime Minister

Without going beyond what I think I ought to say, I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that not only do we have the plenary discussion but, now that quite a number of Prime Ministers are concerned, we have a number of informal discussions between groups of Prime Ministers on various subjects such as those he has mentioned.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

Although the Prime Minister does not feel able to give the House any information about the subjects discussed at the Prime Ministers' Conference, can he give an assurance that he will raise the matter referred to in Question No. 50 in his talks with President Kennedy and try to co-ordinate President Kennedy's Peace Corps with similar activities on a similarly imaginative scale in this country?

The Prime Minister

We have discussed this before. A great deal is being done by the voluntary bodies which we think it best to stimulate. I shall be interested to learn from the President the details of his idea.

Mr. Brockway

Is the Prime Minister aware that while we read with great interest, and often welcomed, the contents of the communiqués, when the Prime Ministers attending this Conference return to their Parliaments they will make fuller statements about the Conference? Could he not give to this Parliament the same opportunities to gain information about the Conference as other Prime Ministers will give?

The Prime Minister

I am not aware of what statements will be made; no doubt they will differ in the different Parliaments. We have always followed this practice, and I think it works fairly well. We are to have a debate tomorrow on one aspect.

Mr. Grimond

I am not asking the Prime Minister to say any more about the discussion, but can he say whether the Government are considering whether this is the moment for recruiting not a voluntary but a more permanent technical service from the whole Commonwealth for work both in the Commonwealth and in underdeveloped countries?

The Prime Minister

That, of course, is an important aspect of the problem and one on which I propose to make a statement after Question Time.

Mr. Healey

In view of the immense importance of seating the Peking Government during the next session of the United Nations, can the Prime Minister tell the House whether the Conference agreed that it will make common proposals regarding the future of Formosa should this occur?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

In view of the great importance of the statement on disarmament made by the Prime Ministers' Conference, will the right hon. Gentleman consider instructing the Central Office of Information to reprint the communiqué and send it to the Members of all the Legislatures of the Commonwealth?

The Prime Minister

I will certainly consider that. I think the fact that we were able to make this joint pronouncement was a great result of the Conference.

Mr. Shinwell

If the right hon. Gentleman cannot discuss the question of British shipping with me, will he discuss the matter with President Kennedy?

The Prime Minister

There is quite a long list of subjects on the agenda, but I should not be surprised if that turned up.