– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd March 1945.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what were the assurances given to the Birmingham group of Members of this House at his meeting with them and Lord Keynes on 6th March.
May I ask whether the reported reply on 7th March is entirely incorrect, in which it was stated that the Chancellor and Lord Keynes had met Members of the Birmingham group, who subsequently expressed complete satisfaction with the information they had received?
That refers, apparently, to explanations and not to assurances. There is no mystery about this. I have met a number of hon. Members of this House for discussion of these important matters, and, if my hon. Friend wishes, I am quite sure he can ascertain what passed without any breach of confidence.
In view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has cleared up this mystery, and has disclosed that he has met many hon. Members on the subject, will he also remove the false impression caused by some newspaper reports that he and Lord Keynes convinced those whom they met, about the propriety if accepting the Bretton Woods agreement; and will he indicate that I, at least, remained unconvinced?
I do not think I asked any of the hon. Members whether or not they were convinced.
Does the right hon. Gentleman categorically deny that he met Members of the Birmingham group on this important subject?
I appeal to you, Mr. Speaker, on this matter. When I raised this question on Business last week, the Chancellor of the Exchequer shook his head violently. On Tuesday, I asked the right hon. Gentleman a question on this very thing, in which I said—
Is it quite wrong to say that groups of Members of this House, especially the Birmingham group, have been having private conversations with Lord Keynes at the Treasury on this very important subject?
The right hon. Gentleman said—
It is quite wrong to say that."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th March, 1945; Vol. 409, C. 637.]
I appeal to you, Sir, to say if it is, in your view, a correct answer by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in view of the facts now disclosed?
I do not think I ever express views on Ministers' answers. I am not responsible for them.
May I ask the Chancellor why he should have quibbled on this matter, when the normal way, when lie is asked a Question, is to say that the hon. Member is probably referring to a meeting which has taken place in this House? The right hon. Gentleman ought not to be so smart.
I am not going to enter into a competition in smartness. I was asked a specific question whether certain hon. Members had met Lord Keynes privately at the Treasury. There was no question of privacy.
I submit, Mr. Speaker, that it is a matter of complete indifference to hon. Members whether this meeting took place at the Treasury or in this House. Of course these meetings take place privately, and the Chancellor is merely quibbling.