HC Deb 14 January 1964 vol 687 cc29-30
Q4. Mr. Swingler

asked the Prime Minister if he will propose to the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth the establishment of a standing conference on migration within the Commonwealth to evolve a long-term plan on immigration into, and emigration from. Commonwealth territories.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir.

Mr. Swingler

What is the Government's policy in this matter? Is it the view of the Prime Minister, like that of the Home Secretary, that it is impossible to arrive at Commonwealth agreement on migration matters and that, therefore, the whole question should be shelved, or does the Prime Minister agree with the Minister of Public Building and Works who made a speech only a few weeks ago saying that it was the Government's object to promote co-operation on migration, among other things, throughout the Commonwealth? Which of these views is at present the view of the Prime Minister and the Government?

The Prime Minister

I hold my own view on this matter, which is that the establishment of a standing conference—which is what the hon. Gentleman asks for—is unnecessary and that we can deal with these matters by the ordinary processes of consultation.

Mr. Renton

Is not this a matter which is very suitable to be dealt with at the Prime Ministers' Conferences which are held from time to time?

The Prime Minister

It could be, but I still thin s that we are perfectly capable of dealing with this through the ordinary consultative channels which we use every day

Mr. H. Wilson

As the right hon. Gentleman uses these channels every day, will he say how much consultation there has been with the Commonwealth on this question? Secondly, since there was no Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference last year, and since the one the previous year was an extremely unhappy affair concerned with the Government's decision to go into the Common Market, will the Prime Minister say whether there have been any discussions or soundings with the Commonwealth about a Prime Ministers' Conference to be held this year?

The Prime Minister

I will consider with my colleagues, the other Commonwealth Prime Ministers, whether a Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference should be held this year. On the other hand, I dealt with this question of migration within the Commonwealth for five years, and we tried all sorts of voluntary methods in an effort to achieve a Commonwealth policy on this, but we were unsuccessful.