HC Deb 25 June 1964 vol 697 cc618-20
Q5. Mr. Wade

asked the Prime Minister whether he will have proposals drawn up for submission to the Commonwealth Conference for setting up a Commonwealth study group which will recast the system of Commonwealth preference so that preferences are granted by developed Commonwealth countries to all developing countries, in accordance with the proposal put forward at the United Nations Trade and Development Conference.

The Prime Minister

Further international consideration of this matter will be undertaken in the United Nations Organisation. We shall then be better able to consider the form which any further Commonwealth consultation should take.

Mr. Wade

Can the Prime Minister be rather more precise? Does he agree that, to bridge the gap between the rich and poor nations of the world and to eliminate poverty, new world trading arrangements and new regional preferences are needed? Would he agree that the rôle of the Commonwealth in the new circumstances of today should be to give the lead in bringing about these new arrangements rather than to prop up preferences which have become out of date? Is that the view of Her Majesty's Government, and will it be discussed at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference?

The Prime Minister

I have no doubt that we shall be discussing all these matters at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, including the arrangements made at Geneva. But before those arrangements can be taken any further, and therefore before we can decide on any Commonwealth measures, we had better see what the next stage is at the United Nations.

Mr. P. Williams

Would my right hon. Friend agree that one of the greatest services which we could perform on behalf of the developing countries would be to come to an agreement within the Commonwealth as a basis for the stabilisation of commodity prices?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. That was one of the objectives both at Geneva and at various conferences which we have had.