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World Assembly Of Youth (Financial Support)

Volume 526: debated on Monday 12 April 1954

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11.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware of the risk of damage to British prestige involved in his decision to withdraw financial support from the World Assembly of Youth; and whether he will reconsider this decision.

much regret that, owing to the overriding need for economy in our public finances, Her Majesty's Government are unable, for the time being, to grant further financial support to the World Assembly of Youth.

Will my hon. Friend disregard the growls on this side from below the Gangway and agree that the comparatively small sum of £4,000 involved is but a drop in the ocean compared to the vast sums which are spent behind the Iron Curtain on propaganda among youth? Will he ask his right hon. Friend to make the strongest possible representations to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this matter?

In making their decisions Her Majesty's Government have to disregard growls from all quarters of the House of Commons. It is disagreeble for us to have to do this, but Her Majesty's Government have to keep these matters under very strict review. It may be that only a small sum is involved, but these small sums do add up very quickly.

In view of the very important work which is done by the World Assembly of Youth in bringing democratic youth from all countries together, will the Government not reconsider their decision with regard to the expenditure of this trifling sum?

In the first place, it is for the British National Committee of the World Assembly of Youth to do a little more to make itself financially self-supporting. There are things it can do, and Her Majesty's Government will do everything in their power to assist in those matters.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the British contingent to this body has made a most valuable contribution to it in the past? As it is a non-Communist organisation, does not he think that it is important for us to be represented in it, in view of its influence in foreign countries?

I certainly do not deny that this body has done useful work, but it is equally true that Her Majesty's Government cannot give financial support to every conceivable existing organisation which does useful work.

Will not the hon. Gentleman pay more attention to the views of the rational Members of his own party and less to the irrational and irresponsible Members?

Opinions may differ in the House, but so far as I am concerned all Members of my party are rational.

In view of the interest which has been shown in this matter I propose to raise it on the Adjournment.