Oral Answers to Questions — International Post-War Currency (White Paper)

– in the House of Commons on 21st April 1944.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Wakefield

(by Private Notice) asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether any statement will be published shortly explaining the discussions that have taken place between representatives of the Treasury and of the United States Treasury on post-war currency arrangements.

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

Yes, Sir. There will be published to-morrow morning a statement of principles on the establishment of an International Monetary Fund which is the result of study at the expert level and in no way commits the Governments concerned. A Debate on the matter will be arranged at the first convenient opportunity. I should, of course, have wished to communicate this document in the first instance to the House. It was necessary, however, to arrange for simultaneous publication here and in the United States and in view of arrangements in the United States this publication was necessary tomorrow when the House is not sitting. A White Paper containing the text of the joint statement by the experts will be available in the Vote Office at 10 a.m. to-morrow. I must ask the indulgence of the House for a procedure which was inevitable, in view of the Congressional time-table in the United States, and the difference of time between the two countries.

Photo of Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha , Plymouth, Devonport

Does this agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States carry the consent of the Dominions?

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

This statement of principles which has been agreed was discussed in the first instance among experts, not confined to those of the United States and this country. Dominion experts took part in the first instance. Then there were discussions between experts of the United States and this country and, subsequent to that, there were discussions between experts of the Dominions and of this country, and I believe also there were certain talks on the other side of the Atlantic with representatives of other nations. But it is definitely a technical and expert statement which does not commit any of the Governments concerned, and it is being published with a view to wider discussion.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

The right hon. Gentleman says the Government are not committed to the principles, but have they in fact accepted the principles? There is a difference. Has there been any acceptance of the principles?

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

No, there has not. I have been perfectly frank with the House at all stages. There has been no acceptance by the Government of the principles. The Government have known, of course, of the work that was being done. This is a plan which has been framed by experts, and the Government are free to examine it without any sort of commitment, and that freedom extends not only to this Government but to the Government of the United States.

Photo of Mr William Thorne Mr William Thorne , West Ham Plaistow

In consequence of the House of Commons not meeting tomorrow, will the White Paper be sent round to Members?

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

I understand that, if hon. Members ask for it, arrangements will be made to send it to them.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

Can the right hon. Gentleman give any indication what the Government propose to do, now that the principles have been agreed by experts of the United Kingdom and the United States? How do they propose to implement this agreement on principles, after consultation with the House?

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

It would be wrong to say that there is authoritative agreement on principles. There has been agreement in the drawing up of a document. I think the hon. Member will get some further light on the position of the Government when he sees the statement on principles, because a foreword has been included defining quite clearly the position that the Government take up. I have indicated that the Government would wish to provide facilities for a Debate at the earliest convenient opportunity.

Photo of Mr George Strauss Mr George Strauss , Lambeth North

Will the Government, when the Debate takes place, have come to any conclusion and will they put their views before the House; or is the Debate intended to enable the Government to know the views of the House, and then come to a conclusion?

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

Again I would ask the hon. Member to await publication and look at the carefully-drawn statement of the position of the Government in the matter.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

Is there anything in these principles of currency which will stop the hitherto uninterrupted flow of currency into the hands of the wasteful parasites of this country?

Photo of Mr Irving Albery Mr Irving Albery , Gravesend

When the moment comes when these proposals can be discussed, will the House be in possession of any information as to how they are considered by the British Dominion Ministers?

Photo of Mr James Glanville Mr James Glanville , Consett

In view of the breakdown of the World Economic Conference and the substitution of a British Commonwealth currency policy in 1933, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Dominions have been consulted or represented at all?

Photo of Sir John Anderson Sir John Anderson , Combined Scottish Universities

I have said in the clearest possible terms that at two quite definite stages in the evolution of this matter, representatives of the Dominions have been taken into consultation.