HC Deb 17 February 1948 vol 447 cc212-3W
15. Mr. M. MacMillan

asked the President of the Board of Trade under what circumstances the United Kingdom Delegation expressed willingness at the Geneva Conference to dissolve all existing preferences over the course of the next few years.

Mr. H. Wilson

No such undertaking was made or offered at the Geneva Conference or elsewhere. I understand that Mr. Clayton has been reported in certain newspapers as having made a statement before a Committee of the United States Congress along the lines suggested by my hon. Friend, and I am glad to take this opportunity to put it on record that he was completely misreported. What Mr. Clayton in fact said, in speaking of the relationship between the International Trade Organisation and the European Recovery Programmes, was that he hoped that the whole system of Imperial Preference would give way to a much more liberal one, but that he did not know how long this would take. He made no suggestion that any undertaking in this sense had been given at Geneva, but simply said that the United Kingdom negotiated at Geneva, as they had agreed previously to do, and that the United States achieved a certain measure of success in getting some of the preferences eliminated and others reduced.