asked the Prime Minister (1) the date of the forthcoming World Economic Conference; and whether the agenda of the Conference has yet been prepared;
(2) if he will take an early opportunity of giving time for a discussion of the economic policy to be advocated by His Majesty's Government at the forthcoming World Economic Conference?
The Preparatory Committee of Experts have drawn up a draft annotated agenda for the World Economic Conference, which has been published by the League of Nations, which I should remind the House is in charge of the Conference. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House. The Council of the League have decided to transmit the draft agenda to all States invited to the Conference.
As regards the date of the Conference, the Council have decided that the convocation of the Conference should not be unnecessarily delayed; that it could not, in view of the necessity for further preparation and the distance to be covered by some of the delegates, take place for at least three months from the present time; and that it should be left to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, as president of the Organising Committee, to convene that committee at some suitable date during this period of three months in order to take a final decision on the eventual date of the Conference.
I have been asked by the Council of the League of Nations to act as President of the Conference. As regards the place of the Conference and the countries to be invited, I would refer to the reply given to the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) on the 18th October last (OFFICIAL REPORT: Vol. 269, No. 133, cols. 14–15). If it is desired that an opportunity should be given for a discussion of the economic policy to be advocated by His Majesty's Government at the Conference, a request will no doubt be made through the usual channels.
Do I understand from the reply that the Committee to fix the date may meet at any time in the next three months, and that a further three months must be allowed before the assembly of the Conference, so that it may be six months before the Conference can take place?
No, not that. Invitations will be issued, and three months after the invitations have been issued the Conference may meet. It is a question of travel and preparation. It is not three months after the Committee has decided the date of the Conference.
Do I not understand from the answer that the Committee may meet any time within the next three months? It may be three months before the Committee may meet to come to a decision.
That is so. Although I am not in charge of the arrangements, I certainly hope and I shall press upon the Committee at Geneva to give a warning to the Governments., when the agenda is issued to them, that they must be prepared to assemble within three months of that time, if preparations are ready.