Yes, Sir. As the House will recollect, the Lend-Lease Act provides that the terms and conditions upon which any Government receives any aid authorised under the Act shall be those which the President of the United States deems satisfactory, and the benefit to the United States may be payment or repayment in kind or property or any other direct or indirect benefit which the President deems satisfactory
An Agreement between His Majesty's Government and the United States Government has been concluded and was signed yesterday. The Preamble to this Agreement states that the final determination of the conditions upon which the United Kingdom receives lend-lease aid and of the benefits to be received by the U.S.A. in return is deferred until a later date. This therefore is a preliminary Agreement. It provides that the U.S.A. shall continue to supply the United Kingdom with such defence articles, defence services and defence information as the President shall authorise. Articles and information so supplied may not be transferred to others by His Majesty's Government without the President's consent.
The United Kingdom will continue to contribute to the defence of the U.S.A. and will provide such articles, services, facilities or information as it may be in a position to supply; full cognizance of all such supplies to the United States made after 10th March, 1941, will be taken in the final determination of the benefits to be provided by His Majesty's Government to the U.S.A.
His Majesty's Government will return to the U.S.A. at the end of the present emergency, as determined by the President, such defence articles transferred under the Agreement as shall not have been destroyed, lost or consumed, and as shall be determined by the President to be useful in the defence of the U.S.A. or of the Western Hemisphere, or to be otherwise of use to the U.S.A. In the final determination of the benefit to be provided to the U.S.A. in return for lend-lease aid, the conditions shall be such as not to burden commerce between the two countries but to promote mutually advantageous economic relations between them and the betterment of world-wide economic relations. To that end they shall include provision for agreed action by the U.S.A. and United Kingdom, open to participation by all other countries of like mind, directed to the expansion by appropriate international and domestic measures of production, employment, and the exchange and consumption of goods, which are the material foundations of the liberty and welfare of all peoples; to the elimination of all forms of discriminatory treatment in international commerce, and to the reduction of tariffs and other trade barriers; and in general to the attainment of all the economic objectives set forth in the Atlantic Charter.
At an early, convenient date conversations are to be begun between the two Governments with a view to determining, in the light of governing economic conditions, the best means of attaining these objectives by their own agreed action and of seeking the agreed action of other like-minded Governments.
The text of the Agreement is contained in a White Paper which will be available to Members immediately after Questions.
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House precisely what he means by the elimination of discriminatory treatment? Has Imperial preference been done away with altogether?
So far as the reduction of the United States tariffs and the elimination of Imperial preference arrangements are concerned, no commitments were undertaken by either party in advance of the discussions. We have undertaken to pursue jointly with the United States the general objective denned in the Charter.
That is a matter for consideration. The Noble Lord will realise that in the statement made it was laid down that an endeavour should be made to make agreements with other like minded Governments.