HL Deb 19 December 1960 vol 227 cc687-90

2.36 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will state the objectives, the constitution and the membership of the new Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; whether it is likely to lead to a closer association between "the Six" and "the Seven";and what proposals Her Majesty's Government intend to put before it for the efficient and imaginative exercise of its functions.]


My Lords, my right honourable friends the President of the Board of Trade and the Chancellor of the Exchequer attended a Conference in Paris on December 13 and 14 which was attended by Ministers from the eighteen members of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation and the United States of America and Canada. The purpose of the Conference was to endorse the arrangements for remodelling the O.E.E.C. The Convention establishing the successor Organisation, with the United States and Canada as full members, was duly signed by representatives of all the twenty countries, and we hope it will come into force by the autumn of next year. At the same time Ministers approved a Report from the Preparatory Committee they had set up in July on the activities and structure of the new Organisation. A White Paper containing the text of the Convention is being laid to-day and will be published to-morrow. The Report will be placed in the Library very shortly and will be published by O.E.E.C. in a few weeks' time.

The aims of O.E.C.D.—that is the new Organisation—are, briefly: to achieve the highest sustainable economic growth and employment consistent with financial stability; to contribute to sound economic expansion in countries in process of economic development; and to contribute to the expansion of world trade on a non-discriminatory basis. The main task of the new Organisation will be to strengthen and extend consultation on the economic policies of member countries and their impact on others. It will also have an important rôle in contributing to the economic expansion of the less-developed countries by consultation on ways and means of improving the flow of long-term funds. Its trade functions will include, within the framework of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, regular consideration of the trade policies of member countries, examination of specific trade problems and consideration of any outstanding problems remitted to the Committee on Trade Problems established last January, which includes relations between the Six and the Seven.

Her Majesty's Government believe that the way has now been prepared for a further important advance in economic co-operation between the countries of Western Europe and North America, which will benefit many other countries as well, and they intend to give the new Organisation their full support and to co-operate wholeheartedly in endeavouring to achieve its aims.


My Lords, while thanking the noble Earl for that detailed statement recounting the main propositions in this most important development, may I ask him whether he is aware that the origins of this development came very largely from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Parliamentarians' Conference at which your Lordships have had a number of representatives for some years past? May I also ask him whether there is a likelihood of aid being given by the new Organisation to countries outside Europe? If so, what is it likely to be?


My Lords, one of the objects of the new Organisation is to contribute to the economic expansion of the less-developed countries by consultation on ways and means of improving the flow of long-term funds.


My Lords, may I say as an individual that I very much welcome the establishment of O.E.C.D.? And may I ask the noble Earl whether he will have consultations with his colleagues in the Government to try to persuade O.E.C.D. to examine the means of stabilising world commodity prices, as I believe the main aim is to give aid to the underdeveloped countries?


My Lords, that is obviously a relevant consideration of the work of O.E.C.D., whose purpose is to contribute to sound economic expansion and to achieve the highest sustainable economic growth and employment consistent with financial stability.


My Lords, arising out of the last supplementary, may I ask the noble Earl a question of which I have not given him notice? I shall quite understand if he cannot answer it. The last supplementary referred to consultation within the Cabinet. I wonder whether he can say whether there will be further consultation with Commonwealth Prime Ministers, and if he can yet say what their attitude would be to closer co-operation between the Six and the Seven.


My Lords, I do not think we should neglect any possible means of trying to solve the problem of the Six and the Seven. It will be within the purview of this O.E.C.D., but we must not leave out other methods, too, such as the consultations we have been having with the Government of Germany.


My Lords, may I ask my noble friend a further supplementary, of which I regret I have not given prior notice, and that is whether the new organisation, O.E.C.D., will take on the framework—the committees and the machinery—which the late O.E.E.C. was using?


Yes, my Lords. I think that is so. But my noble friend will find fuller details in the White Paper to be published to-morrow.


Will the noble Earl agree that one of the most hopeful expectations of O.E.C.D. is that North America, and especially the United States, will be parties to the Organisation, which was not the case with O.E.E.C.?


Yes, my Lords, certainly.

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