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Commonwealth Prime Ministers (Consultations)

Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 4 May 1954

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46.

asked the Prime Minister if he has considered the desirability of calling a Commonwealth conference after the termination of the Geneva Conference to deal with the possibility of common action in respect of the then world situation and also with internal Commonwealth matters affecting its present and its potential membership.

This might take its place among matters to be considered after the Geneva Conference is over.

Whilst thanking the Prime Minister for that reply, may I ask if he could be a little more positive and suggest that it will probably take place?

Can the Prime Minister say what message was sent by the Foreign Secretary to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers at Colombo regarding the part they might play in any settlement of the Indo-China dispute, and what reply was received from the Prime Ministers?

To give those detailed statements and quotations, which have nothing to do with the Question placed upon the Paper, I think I might have the advantage of notice.

I do not know why the Prime Minister should be so upset by this question. There is a great deal of speculation in the Press about an extremely important matter, namely, the part that may be played by the Asian members of the Commonwealth in the settlement of the Indo-China dispute. [An HON. MEMBER: "Put a Question down."] It follows from the Question on the Order Paper. All I am asking the Prime Minister is to tell us, first, was such a message sent by the Foreign Secretary and, secondly, could he not give us the general gist of the reply at any rate, even if he does not quote it word for word?

No, Sir. I should like to have notice on the Paper and then I can give an accurate and full reply.

Does the Prime Minister not remember that this House recently expressed itself in favour of a conference such as that indicated in the original Question, and will he not respect that expression and take steps to implement it?

I am not prejudging anything. I am only saying that we had better wait until the Conference is over and then take stock of the whole position.

Will the Prime Minister remember that all the self-governing members of the Common wealth are now intimately concerned, and have declared themselves to be concerned, in the world questions with which we are faced, and that in the past consultation with the Commonwealth Prime Ministers has always been of great advantage to all concerned?