HC Deb 26 June 1962 vol 661 cc953-4
Q4. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Prime Minister on what occasions he proposed to other Commonwealth Prime Ministers that the Commonwealth Governments should severally or collectively move to modify the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or take other action, so as to allow the adaptation of the Ottawa Agreements to changed conditions and secure the continuance of effective reciprocity in Commonwealth preferential arrangements and their reconciliation with European economic arrangements.

The Prime Minister

None, Sir. But I would refer my hon. Friend to the final communiqué of the Commonwealth Economic Conference in 1952. This Conference was unable to support a proposal put forward by the United Kingdom Government to seek release from the "no new preference rule" in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

In view of all that has happened since, does my right hon. Friend not think that perhaps public opinion is now ready for such an initiative?

The Prime Minister

This is, of course, a difficult question, but I think that my hon. Friend would be right to refer again to paragraph 16 and the unanimity with which the British Government's proposal was turned down.