HC Deb 23 March 1967 vol 743 cc1915-6
Q8. Mr. Ian Lloyd

asked the Prime Minister whether he has received any representations from Commonwealth Prime Ministers on the proposals made to him by Mr. Kosygin to co-ordinate British and Russian economic planning.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir.

Mr. Lloyd

Since the Prime Minister must be well aware that the countries that he has just mentioned have trade agreements with the Soviet Union and that many other countries have trade agreements with the Soviet Union, surely there is likely to be serious conflict between the planning requirements linking the British economy and the Soviet economy and the linking of the British economy with the essentially unplanned free enterprise economies of the Commonwealth?

The Prime Minister

I was asked whether I had received any representations. The answer is that I have not received any representations. Although I was aware of some of these things before the Question was put, it does not seem that it is a matter troubling the Commonwealth Prime Ministers. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that we ourselves took the initiative with the Commonwealth countries to see how far their plans—because many of them have important development plans, even in the most laissez-faire economies of the Commonwealth—and their planning arrangements could be fitted in with ours to maximise Commonwealth trade. There has been one meeting of Commonwealth Trade Ministers on this matter and another is due to be held in the near future.

Mr. David Howell

Is the Prime Minister aware that Russian economic planning nowadays lays increasing emphasis on individual incentives? If there is to be any co-ordination, will he ensure that some emphasis is laid on incentives in this country?

The Prime Minister

I am well aware of some of the changes in the theology of Soviet economic planning. What we are talking about in this communiqué relates to the building up of capacity in this country and in the Soviet Union to meet the requirements of the other country. I think that the hon. Gentleman, despite the extravagant views of hon. Gentlemen opposite on this subject, will probably feel that incentives in this country are on the whole a great deal greater than those in the Soviet Union.