HC Deb 18 April 1962 vol 658 cc489-90
10. Mr. Russell

asked the Lord Privy Seal what discussions he has had recently with the United States Government about the future of Commonwealth Preference.

Mr. Heath

My discussions with the United States Government must remain confidential if they are to fulfil their purpose of providing an opportunity for a free and frank exchange of views.

Mr. Russell

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that at the Montreal Conference only three years ago Commonwealth countries agreed that Commonwealth Preference was of benefit and should not be weakened or discarded? Will he make that clear to the American Government and anybody else who asks for Commonwealth Preference to be abolished?

Mr. Heath

Yes, Sir. The United States Government are now well aware of our views.

Mr. Wise

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the destruction of Imperial Preference has been a major object of American policy ever since Mr. Cordell Hull's abortive attempt to conspire with the Japanese in 1921? Will my right hon. Friend also lose no opportunity to make absolutely clear in negotiations with the Americans that we are not yet a colonial subject of the dollar empire and, by the grace of God, never will be?

Mr. Heath

I know the views put forward by my hon. Friend are held by certain people, but I do not wish to comment upon them. These negotiations are not being carried out with the American Government. At the same time, one must recognise that if they are brought to a successful conclusion there may well be additional discrimination against American trade.