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Friday, 28 June 1946

Mr CHIFLEY - I have not seen the statement referred to by the honorable member. It is a long story and it would only weary the House to traverse all the circumstances of the arranging of the loan to Great Britain by the United States of America. I understand that the British Government did agree, as one of the terms of the loan, to participate in a trade and employment conference. That carries us back to the famous Article 7. That conference will deal with tariffs, among other matters. The Government of the United States of America issued a formula for that conference setting out the subjects that ought to be dealt with. The British Government concurred in that formula. It was forwarded to us with the suggestion that we concur also. The Commonwealth Government decided to intimate that itwas only prepared to attend at such a conference, but was not prepared to commit itself to any formula. We shall go to the conference prepared to make and receive suggestions. That is our position in the matter of the conference. The honorable member for New England will remember that Mr. Churchill, when Prime Minister of Great Britain, gave in the House of Commons, what I think was an undertaking. He said that he had discussed the matter of Empire trade preference with the late President of the United States of America, Mr. Roosevelt. I think he rather implied that the trade proposals did not interfere with the prin ciples of Empire trade preference. However, that was merely a statement made in the House of Commons, and I do not know whether any agreement was made on that matter. As to the honorable gentleman's question, there have been certain preliminary discussions on the subject of Empire preference. I intimated in reply to a question by. the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwan) that the Government would do all it could to retain the present Empire trade preference. I do not know that we can commit the British Government and the other parties to the Ottawa agreement. I am convinced that our views on the matter are correct. All I can say is that no extensive discussions have taken place with the British Government about Empire trade preference. It is proposed that such discussions be held about next October. They will be on an official level in the first place.

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