HC Deb 07 June 1957 vol 571 cc157-8W
Mr. Braine

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he will make a statement on the nature of the replies received from Commonwealth Governments to the Secretary of State's communication on Commonwealth economic development, arising out of the representations made to him on this score.

Mr. Alport

The Government undertook to consult Commonwealth Governments regarding suggestions made by hon. Members during the debate on Commonwealth economic development on 30th November for a Commonwealth Development Agency which would carry out research into Commonwealth development and co-ordinate schemes where possible, and for an associated Commonwealth Bank to which Commonwealth Governments would contribute, and which would invest in development schemes.

The views of Commonwealth Governments have now been received. In general, all Commonwealth Governments, while sympathetic to the motives which have inspired these suggestions, are doubtful of their value. A considerable contribution to the economic development of some Commonwealth countries has already been made by others, but having regard, in particular, to the fact that the United Kingdom is the only Commonwealth country which is a net overseas investor, most Governments point out that a Commonwealth Development Agency and a Bank would not in themselves increase the availability of capital for investment in the Commonwealth. Some replies emphasise the practical difficulty of a Commonwealth Development Agency allocating priorities and the undesirability of duplicating existing institutions and facilities for investment or for the collection and dissemination of information in this field.

The United Kingdom Government agree with the conclusions embodied in these replies. It is our intention, however, to continue to seek, in consultation with Commonwealth Governments, other practical means of furthering our common objectives in the field of Commonwealth economic development.