HC Deb 30 January 1964 vol 688 cc508-9
2. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what action is to be taken on the material dealing with economic development and its financing, prepared in accordance with the decision of the Commonwealth Conference held at Montreal in 1958; what proposals Her Majesty's Government have for a Commonwealth policy for economic expansion and co-operation; and whether the Government will now prepare an economic policy to be put before the next conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers.

The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and for the Colonies (Mr. John Tilney)

I assume that the hon. Gentleman is referring to the reports on economic development in Commonwealth countries published by the Commonwealth Economic Committee as a result of decisions taken at the Montreal Conference. These Reports provide part of the background for decisions taken by the British Government and other Commonwealth Governments from time to time on questions of trade and financial aid.

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the statements issued by meetings of Commonwealth Trade Ministers last May and of Commonwealth Finance Ministers last September, of which I am sending him copies, and to the replies given in this House on 3rd December and on 5th December last.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Does the Minister agree with me that some very fine documents have been prepared—among the best ever—and that a tremendous amount of work must have been put into their preparation? Is it not logical, with the preparation of these documents, that we should adopt a policy in harmony with them? Does the Minister agree that the time has arrived when Ministers should be putting into the development of the Commonwealth the same energy as they put into the development of the Common Market?

Mr. Tilney

I agree that the documents and the reports are extremely good. If, in the comparatively near future, there should be a debate on Commonwealth trade, the hon. Member may be lucky enough to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, and develop the points that he wishes to make.

Mr. Fell

Does not my hon. Friend agree that the greatest disincentive to the development of trade is the breakdown in law and order in a number of Commonwealth countries? Would not it be putting first things first to call a meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers as early as possible?

Mr. Speaker

Order. That does not arise out of the Question.