HC Deb 10 April 1962 vol 657 cc1134-5
Q3. Mr. Woodburn

asked the Prime Minister whether he is proposing any change in the form and purpose of the proposed Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference; to what extent he proposes that it should be purely consultative; and to what extent he proposes to ask it to assume powers of approval or veto over the actions and decisions of the countries whose Prime Ministers are taking part.

The Prime Minister

Any change in the traditional form and purpose of Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conferences would be a matter for the Prime Ministers to decide collectively. I do not myself intend to propose the changes referred to by the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Woodburn

Is there not a danger of building up the Prime Ministers' Conference in the same way as Summit Conferences were built up, and creating the impression that great decisions are to come from this Conference, and causing great disappointment when these decisions, whatever they may be, do not fit in with the expectations of those participating?

The Prime Minister

I see the right hon. Gentleman's purpose, but of course there is not really an analogy. We have for many years had a meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers. It has always been our rule to exchange views, to hold discussions, but not to reach decisions binding on the sovereign Governments of the Commonwealth, and I think that has been on the whole a valuable and salutary system for Commonwealth Prime Ministers to pursue in their Conferences

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