§ 43. Sir R. Russell
asked the President of the Board of Trade what progress has been made in reconciling the difference between the Government's offer of generalised preferences to developing countries made by his predecessor in 1964, including safeguards for Commonwealth countries, and the proposal made by the United States of America for the abolition of the present system of Commonwealth preference and other preferential systems as a condition of their co-operation.
§ Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody
Discussions on this as well as other aspects of generalised preferences are continuing in the O.E.C.D.
§ Sir R. Russell
Could the hon. Lady give an assurance that the Government will continue to resist American demands for the abolition of Commonwealth preferences which do a great deal of 1549 good to the Commonwealth and no harm to Europe?
§ Mrs. Dunwoody
Obviously, I think it would be only common sense to accept that Commonwealth countries cannot be asked to give up their preferences without getting something in return. I think that the hon. Gentleman may take it that we are aware of the difficulties. We are continuing discussions. We have the interests of our Commonwealth countries very much at heart.
Mr. J. T. Price
Is my hon. Friend aware that the Ottawa Agreements going back to 1924, which favour certain countries of the old British Commonwealth, can no longer be justified in the interests of the British textile industry and other of our northern industries which have suffered very severely from the unfair treatment resulting from the agreements, which ought to be scrapped, in my submission, although I am in no way antipathetic to Commonwealth interests?
§ Mrs. Dunwoody
My hon. Friend is not taking into account the considerable changes there have been in the textile field. I myself only this afternoon have dealt with some cases in which action has been taken by the Government. What we are concerned to see is that the Commonwealth countries, which, after all, have the right to expect a certain amount of consideration from us, should not have their rights in these matters totally ignored
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins
May I express my regret, Mr. Speaker, that in a supplementary to Question No. 27 I referred to the hon. Member for Bournemouth, East and Christchurch (Mr. Cordle) when I should have referred to the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, South (Mr. Corfield)?