HC Deb 15 April 1965 vol 710 cc1660-2
Q4. Dame Joan Vickers

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that it is proposed to discuss trade and aid at the forthcoming Commonwealth Prime Ministers' meeting, he will propose that the dependent territories should be invited to take part in sessions on this subject.

The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Bowden)

No, Sir: this would not be in accordance with practice. The hon. Lady may have in mind the 1962 meeting but that was quite exceptional.

Dame Joan Vickers

Will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider this idea? I thought that it was very advantageous to the countries which were invited to discuss the question of the Common Market at the previous Conference and I understood that the Prime Minister was keen to draw the Commonwealth together. Is not this an opportunity to do so?

Mr. Bowden

Yes, Colonial Ministers have come to previous Commonwealth conferences below Prime Minister level to deal with a specific point, as in 1962. If it is thought necessary that that sort of thing should be done on this occasion no doubt my right hon. Friend will consider it, but at the moment this is a question of a Prime Ministers' Conference at Prime Minister level.

Dame Joan Vickers

Will the right hon. Gentleman press his right hon. Friend to reconsider this? This is a specific point which is particularly advantageous, namely, trade and aid to these countries which so badly need them.

Mr. Bowden

I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend will note the hon. Lady's Question.

Q8. Mr. Wall

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a further statement on the detailed arrangements and dates for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference.

Mr. Bowden

All Commonwealth Heads of Government have agreed that the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Meeting should be held at Marlborough House from 17th to 25th June. I am not sure what detailed arrangements the hon. Member has in mind, but they will be on lines which have been found satisfactory in the past and similar to those made for the 1964 Meeting.

Mr. Wall

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether' all the Heads of Government of Commonwealth countries are expected to attend in person, and what part the newly formed Commonwealth Secretariat is likely to play in this Conference?

Mr. Bowden

I cannot give any details of final acceptances, and, of course, the Conference will be confined to fully independent countries. The second matter which the hon. Gentleman raised will be discussed, but no agenda is issued.

Mr. Hooson

Has consideration been given to the possibility of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers meeting in one of the other Commonwealth countries, that is, away from this country? Has the suggestion ever been put forward by this country?

Mr. Bowden

I am not in a position to say whether it has or has not under the previous Administration, but I myself think that it is something which should be explored.