HC Deb 28 October 1947 vol 443 cc54-5W
100. Mr. Hollis

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether request has been made to the U.S. Administration by His Majesty's Government to be freed from the obligations of Article 9 of the Financial Agreement.

Mr. H. Wilson

I am grateful to the hon. Member for giving me the opportunity to make a short statement on this matter.

During the visit of the Eady Mission to Washington in August, discussions took place between the Mission and officials of the United States Administration about the present position as regards the nondiscrimination provisions of the American Loan Agreement. During these talks the officials of the two Governments were able to discuss and explore together in detail the practical interpretation of the provisions of Section 9 of the Loan Agreement against the background of the overseas financial position of the United Kingdom. These discussions revealed that there existed very substantial agreement between the two Governments about the meaning of these provisions relating to non-discrimination. When Mr. Snyder came to this country in September for the International Monetary Fund Meetings, these discussions continued on the official plane. At the conclusion of Mr. Snyder's visit to this country, the following statement was issued by the United States Embassy in London: In his statement to the Press on 15th September last, Mr. John W. Snyder, the United States Secretary of the Treasury, pointed out that when two Governments work out any Agreement it must be kept flexible. This was the spirit of the original Loan negotiations and it is the purpose and intention of the officials of the two Governments who are presently dealing with this problem. The framers of the Anglo-American Financial Agreement specifically recognise the existence of unusual aspects of the United Kingdom position requiring certain deviations from any inflexible rule of non-discrimination. It is basic to an understanding of Section g of the Agreement to appreciate that it was never intended to constitute a strait-jacket on British trade. In the light of the discussions which have taken place and of the above statement. His Majesty's Government are satisfied that for the present, world supplies being what they are, the provisions of Section 9 of the Loan Agreement are not operating to prevent the United Kingdom from importing any goods, including foodstuffs, which we are anxious to take and which we can afford to buy. As regards the future position, discussions are continuing.