HC Deb 12 July 1976 vol 915 cc26-7
23. Mr. Arnold

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether lie will now take practical steps towards a British initiative in reforming the structure of any future UNCTAD conference.

Mr. Dell

We shall be considering, in consultation with our EEC partners and other industrialised countries, all aspects of our approach to forthcoming UNCTAD meetings, including questions related to their effective organisation and functioning. Discussions will also be held with the UNCTAD Secretariat and Commonwealth and other developing countries.

Mr. Arnold

Is it not the case that the present structure of these conferences inevitably gives them an air of confrontation? Would not progress on individual issues be easier to reach if less emphasis were placed on the opening statements, which, to say the least, are now the subject of serious misrepresentation?

Mr. Dell

It may be that the present structure of UNCTAD conferences tends in the direction of confrontation. Nevertheless, we have tried to avoid confrontation. The difficulty is to see how we can otherwise organise conferences of so many nations. After careful consideration over a number of years, the conclusion has been reached that the present structure provides the best way of conducting the conferences.

Mr. Hooley

Does my right hon. Friend agree that there is a basic conflict of interests to be resolved between developing countries and the Western industrial world, and that merely tinkering with the mechanism of UNCTAD will not resolve it?

Mr. Dell

I agree that changing the mechanism by which UNCTAD operates will not change anything of importance. We have to see whether we can come to a settlement of the conflicting interests within the world to the mutual benefit of both parties.

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