Economic Relations (Imperial Preference).

Oral Answers to Questions — United Kingdom and United States. – in the House of Commons on 3rd March 1942.

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Photo of Sir Patrick Donner Sir Patrick Donner , Basingstoke

asked the Prime Minister whether he will give an assurance that, in the forthcoming discussions with the Government of the United States of America for the promotion of mutually advantageous economic relations, His Majesty's Government will not disregard Article 4 of the Atlantic Charter, which refers to existing obligations?

Photo of Sir Patrick Donner Sir Patrick Donner , Basingstoke

Why did my right hon. Friend refer to the elimination of Imperial preference?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

If my hon. and gallant Friend will read the statement, he will see exactly how far it went.

Photo of Sir Patrick Donner Sir Patrick Donner , Basingstoke

asked the Prime Minister whether he will give an assurance that, in the forthcoming negotiations with the Government of the United States of America, the Imperial Preference arrangements now in force will not be eliminated or substantially reduced without the previous consent of this House?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

Yes, Sir. The legislation relating to Imperial Preference cannot in any event be altered except by further legislation.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

Is it not a fact that, in view of the status of the Dominions under the Statute of Westminster, these arrangements cannot be altered without the assent of the Dominions concerned, since the arrangements have the status of a treaty?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

The Noble Lord is perfectly right.

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

Is it not a fact that this agreement is not a treaty at all?

Photo of Mr Campbell Stephen Mr Campbell Stephen , Glasgow Camlachie

Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that what he is saying now means that the Atlantic Charter is without meaning?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

The hon. Member is entirely wrong. The Atlantic Charter lays down certain principles. The following-out of those principles has to be worked out between the Powers concerned. There is absolutely nothing in the statement I have made which runs contrary to that.

Photo of Sir Percy Harris Sir Percy Harris , Bethnal Green South West

Are the Dominions not just as anxious as we are to have friendly economic relations in future with the United States? Cannot the post-war Government be free to consider all economic questions on their merits, without prejudice?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly right.