Documents on European Recovery and Defence, March 1947-April 1949

By Royal Institute Of International Affairs | Go to book overview

SPEECH BY THE RT HON. ERNEST BEVIN, M.P., URGING
WESTERN EUROPEAN ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION
(Extract)
House of Commons, 22 January 1948

Perhaps I may now return to the subject of the organization in respect of a Western Union. That is its right description. I would emphasize that I am not concerned only with Europe as a geographical conception. Europe has extended its influence throughout the world, and we have to look further afield. In the first place, we turn our eyes to Africa, where great responsibilities are shared by us with South Africa, France, Belgium and Portugal, and equally to all overseas territories, especially of South-East Asia, with which the Dutch are closely concerned. The organization of Western Europe must be economically supported. That involves the closest possible collaboration with the Commonwealth and with overseas territories, not only British but French, Dutch, Belgian, and Portuguese.

These overseas territories are large primary producers, and their standard of life is evolving rapidly and is capable of great development. They have raw materials, food, and resources which can be turned to very great common advantage, both to the people of the territories themselves, to Europe, and to the world as a whole. The other two great world Powers, the United States and Soviet Russia, have tremendous resources. There is no need of conflict with them in this matter at all. If Western Europe is to achieve its balance of payments and to get a world equilibrium, it is essential that those resources should be developed and made available, and the exchange between them carried out in a correct and proper manner. There is no conflict between the social and economic development of those overseas territories to the advantage of their people, and their development as a source of supplies for Western Europe, as a contributor, as I have indicated, so essential to the balance of payments.

What is to be the best method of dealing with this matter? We have been considering and planning for the territories for which we are responsible so as to establish particularly out of our capital production year by year, and also out of our production of consumption goods, a proper proportion in the right order of priorities to assist this development. Coincident with that planning, welfare and cultural development are being pushed ahead with great speed.

-25-

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