HC Deb 19 January 1965 vol 705 cc17-8
34. Mr. Shepherd

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he is taking to expedite the setting up of an international reserve currency, with a view to taking the strain off both sterling and dollars.

Mr. Callaghan

I hope to play a full part in discussions within the International Monetary Fund, and in the Group of Ten, to find ways and means of strengthening the international monetary system. Meantime our primary objective is to strengthen our balance of payments position.

Mr. Shepherd

While admitting that, is it not a fact that for nearly 17 or 18 years we have not been making the sort of substantial progress which should have been made in the interests of the rest of the world in addition to ourselves? Is it not time that we had a real drive to achieve something definite?

Mr. Callaghan

As I think is well known, international agreement is needed on these issues, and it is very difficult, as the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) discovered two years ago, to take a public initiative in them. But I agree with the sentiments of the hon. Gentleman, and I hope that events may argue more loudly than academic discussion has done in the past.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Would the right hon. Gentleman take encouragement from the view expressed by many members of the Council of Europe that it would be very helpful to sterling if there were another international reserve currency? Will he obtain the views of the Foreign Secretary as to what recommendations are being made in the Council of Europe on the subject of another reserve currency?

Mr. Callaghan

I do not think that in answer to a Question I should like to declare policy on whether we should have an additional reserve currency to that of sterling and the dollar.