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Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Meeting

Volume 463: debated on Tuesday 29 March 1949

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I desire, with Mr. Speaker's permission, to make a statement. Commonwealth Prime Ministers will meet in London on 21st April. The Prime Ministers of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan and Ceylon will be able to attend. The Prime Minister of Canada is doubtful whether he will be able to come himself, but if not Mr. Pearson, Secretary of State for External Affairs, will represent Canada.

Matters not fully discussed at the October meetings of Prime Ministers, involving certain constitutional questions, will be considered at a short series of private meetings. They are expected to last a week.

I am sure the whole House will be glad to hear that so many Commonwealth Prime Ministers have been able to come to this meeting, and I am sure the House will wish a successful outcome to their talks. May I ask the Prime Minister whether, at the conclusion of the talks, a full statement will be made to this House, and whether, if any major decisions are taken, a full opportunity will be given to debate them?

Yes, certainly. I cannot state exactly what the nature of the statement will be. It will arise naturally out of the outcome of the talks. However, I shall certainly see that this House is kept informed of anything that ought to be brought before it.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the possibility of an opportunity being given to Members of all parties to meet these statesmen informally, during the course of the talks?

I should like to consider that, but I have had messages from the Prime Ministers that, in view of the shortness of the time they will be over here, and the amount of work to be done, they do not wish to have very extensive hospitality offered to them.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is proposed to discuss at this conference the growth of Communism in Asia, and the general deterioration in the situation in certain parts of Asia?

I should prefer not to add anything to the statement that I have made.