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United Nations (Post-War Policy)

Volume 387: debated on Wednesday 10 March 1943

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has received an official request from the Government of the United States of America to take part in discussions on post-war economic policy?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in reference to the United Nations' discussions on post-war policy, mentioned by Mr. Sumner Welles, the Soviet Government were consulted; and whether they expressed their readiness to participate in these discussions?

The hon. Gentleman is apparently referring to a speech by Mr. Sumner Welles and to consultation between the United States Government and the Soviet Government. This is a matter for the two Governments concerned on which it would be improper for me to give a reply.

Are we to understand that conversations on post-war policy are likely to take place between the United States Government and the Soviet Government and we are not to participate in those discussions? If an approach has been made to Mr. Sumner Welles on behalf of the United States Government to engage in post-war discussion, where do we come in?

I am in some involvement—as I think our American friends would call it—about my hon. Friend's Supplementary Question, which appears to apply to conversations between the American Government and the Soviet Government. On that matter I have no information. We are in conversation with both the American Government and the Soviet Government ourselves; I can answer for His Majesty's Government but not for foreign Governments.

I can understand the right hon. Gentleman being bewildered, perhaps because of the form of my question. Perhaps I can put it in the form of another question. Are we to understand from the reply of the right hon. Gentleman that discussions are taking place between the United States Government and the Soviet Union upon matters affecting post-war policy and that on those matters we are not now being consulted?

No, Sir. My hon. Friend should not understand anything of the kind. I say that, as to what is passing between the Soviet Government and the United States Government, it is for one of those two Governments to express views about, and not for me.

That is to say that, although we are engaged in this struggle as the United Nations, discussions of a bilateral character are taking place and we are not being consulted?

No, Sir. My hon. Friend really must not put those words into my mouth. It is perfectly legitimate diplomatic practice for two Governments who are our Allies to have conversations with each other. They will no doubt, in due course, keep us informed. I am quite confident that nothing is going on of which I am not aware, but it is for those Governments and not for me to give an account of their conversations. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]

On a point of Order. In view of the highly unsatisfactory nature of this reply—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—and particularly because of the jeers from the other side of the House—I beg to give notice that I will raise this matter on the Adjournment. We will see then what the answer is.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the speech made by Mr. Sumner Welles, United States Under-Secretary of State, at Toronto on 26th February, to the effect that the United States would at once undertake discussions with other members of the United Nations for examination of the international economic field; whether similar action is contemplated or is already in process in this country; and whether he will state the nature of the organisation created by His Majesty's Government to prosecute research and enter upon such negotiations as will arise?


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether His Majesty's Government have considered the concrete proposal of responsible United States Government spokesmen that the United Nations should forthwith set up an organisation to study post-war reconstruction problems; and with what result?

His Majesty's Government warmly welcome Mr. Sumner Welles's proposal for discussions with members of the United Nations on economic matters. His Majesty's Government for their part have been in touch for the past six months or so with the Dominions and India on various post-war financial questions of common interest and have also had a number of informal meetings with the Allied Governments in London. These consultations will be continued. In addition to the work undertaken by many of the Government Departments in their individual spheres there are a number of Interdepartmental Committees, under the general guidance of my right hon. Friend the Minister without Portfolio, engaged in studying these problems and preparing the ground for negotiations with the United Nations.

Will my right hon. Friend take the opportunity from time to time to inform the House of the progress made in these negotiations?

Is it intended at some near future date to set up an authoritative body from among the United Nations to deal with the problem more effectively than can be done, as now suggested, dispersed among several Government Departments?

When that course is thought useful I have no doubt it will be examined. My own view is that bodies can sometimes be set up without proper preparation for their work. I do not think that is very good.

In his original reply the right hon. Gentleman referred to financial policy. Can he assure the House that the Government will not enter into any arrangement with any foreign Power with regard to a new monetary system without first consulting this House?

The ordinary practice will be followed. The Government will assume their responsibility, and it is open to the hon. Gentleman to assume his usual attitude.

Can we have an assurance that the whole matter will not be cut and dried before the House has had an opportunity of dealing with it?