Colonial Territories

Oral Answers to Questions — British Army – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th July 1956.

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Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton 12:00 am, 24th July 1956

asked the President of the Board of Trade what consideration has been given to the possibility of developing reciprocal trade agreements between this country and those British Colonial Territories now approaching self-government.

Photo of Sir Toby Low Sir Toby Low , Blackpool North

We shall consider this question as each country attains self-government.

Photo of Mr Reginald Sorensen Mr Reginald Sorensen , Leyton

Does not the Minister agree that that is an inadequate reply, in view of the invaluable nature of the economic bridge between these Colonial Territories and ourselves? Cannot he indicate some overall plan which, with imagination and generosity, can help us look forward to a closer economic link between the Colonial Territories and ourselves?

Photo of Sir Toby Low Sir Toby Low , Blackpool North

I agree with the hon. Gentleman about the invaluable nature of the economic link between this country and the Colonial Territories, but I think an agreement entered into during the period of dependence might be liable, by that very fact, to be viewed critically by the Government of the Colonial Territory when it became independent. I think it much wiser to go on as we have been doing, trusting in the element of mutual interest and the maintenance of understanding and cordial relations between our countries to keep our trade at its maximum.

Photo of Mr Arthur Bottomley Mr Arthur Bottomley , Rochester and Chatham

Surely that would not mean that if a dependent territory made a request for a reciprocal agreement the President of the Board of Trade would not encourage such development?

Photo of Sir Toby Low Sir Toby Low , Blackpool North

If it was a dependent territory, there might be difficulties about that inherent in the phrase itself, but we should certainly consider such a request.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that Nigeria and the Gold Coast, which are approaching full self-government, do not at present give any Imperial Preference?