HC Deb 01 November 1966 vol 735 cc239-40
Q2. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Prime Minister what progress he has made, in consultation with other Commonwealth Prime Ministers, regarding his proposal for a specific preference in awarding contracts to Great Britain from the Commonwealth; and when he now proposes to introduce such a scheme.

The Prime Minister

Commonwealth Trade Ministers, at their meeting in June this year, agreed to consider the extent to which their Governments in their public purchases might place orders in other Commonwealth countries where commercial and other considerations made this practicable.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Would the Prime Minister agree that this is a very far cry from his original proposal? Was this idea discussed at the Commonwealth Prime Minister's conference? What steps has he taken to obtain preferential treatment of tenders from British firms for contracts in Commonwealth countries, which was his original idea?

The Prime Minister

Yes; this matter was discussed again at this year's meeting and the Commonwealth Trade Ministers have now agreed to give special consideration to other Commonwealth products, as I have said, where they meet commercial specifications and are otherwise what is required. We have also done something which I think was long overdue: we have reconstituted the Commonwealth Special Committee on Aviation which was ended in, I think, 1956, so that Commonwealth countries placing aviation orders can know what other Commonwealth countries, particularly ourselves, have available.