HC Deb 10 May 1962 vol 659 cc632-4
Q4. Dame Irene Ward

asked the Prime Minister whether he is in touch with the Government of the United States of America over the further developments by United States shipping interests against the British shipping community.

The Prime Minister

When I discussed shipping questions with President Kennedy he asked me to let him have a detailed memorandum. This I have now sent.

Dame Irene Ward

When my right hon. Friend was discussing this matter with President Kennedy, did he inform the President what the views of the general public of a mature country would really be? In other words, did he point out to him that, arising out of our long history, we were very tolerant up to a point, but that when our interests are really threatened it affects the general public's view of that great country? Does not my right hon. Friend think that, if he gave a little historical survey of our history to the President, it might help to overcome the difficulty?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for her suggestions, but we had a fairly full discussion. What I have now done is, at the President's request, to send him a detailed memorandum on the very varied aspects of this problem, which cover quite a wide field.

Mr. Mellish

Can we expect the reply from the President to be made known to the House?

The Prime Minister

No. We are in communication all the time and, apart from this, the normal diplomatic methods will be applied. I assure the House that both the United Kingdom and other countries are doing all they can to remedy what we think are things which should be put right.

Mr. P. Williams

Is my right hon. Friend aware that all of us welcome the initiative of the Parliamentary Secretary and of the Minister of Transport in bringing together the genuine maritime Powers, but that there is some urgency in trying to get the agreement of these genuine maritime Powers to presenting a strong, united and forceful front to the Americans to change their malpractices?

The Prime Minister

The object of this was to get a joint approach.

Mr. A. Lewis

Whilst welcoming the Prime Minister's reply, may I ask him to explain why, when he first answered Questions in this House after seeing President Kennedy, he could not reveal what had transpired between the President and himself, other than what was in the communiqué because the talks were private, secret and confidential, yet is now giving further information to his hon. Friends that is not in the communiqué. Why can he give private and confidential information on some things and not on others?

The Prime Minister

This was mentioned in the communiqué but, if I have gone a little beyond it, I must apologise to the House.