HC Deb 30 October 1934 vol 293 cc11-4
23. Mr. STOREY

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will now make a statement upon the report of the commissioner who investigated the position of the distressed areas on the North East Coast?

The MINISTER of LABOUR (Mr. Oliver Stanley)

The answer to my right hon. Friend's Question will be covered by the statement which the Prime Minister proposes to make in reply to questions addressed to him dealing with the distressed areas generally. Perhaps, therefore, my hon. Friend will be good enough to wait for that statement.

45. Mr. LAWSON

asked the Prime Minister whether he is now in a position to make a statement of policy with respect to the reports of the four commissioners who have investigated conditions in Wales, Scotland, Durham, and Cumberland?


asked the Prime Minister when the Government intend to introduce legislation for the relief of distressed areas?

47. Mr. D. GRENFEL

asked the Prime Minister whether the reports of the commissioners on the derelict areas have been considered; and, if so, what action it is proposed to take?


asked the Prime Minister what special arrangements are proposed by the Government in respect of the distressed areas and, particularly, in regard to the North East Coast?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald)

The Government have examined the reports of the investigators, and have reached certain conclusions. They feel, however, that a matter of this importance cannot adequately be dealt with within the limits of Question and Answer, and they, accordingly, propose to give a day, which will be arranged through the usual channels, for discussion. As a preliminary to that discussion, the Government have decided, after consultation with, and with the consent of the investigators, to publish the reports without delay. I would, however, remind the House that an assurance was given to these gentlemen that any matters they reported to the Government would be treated as confidential, and it will be necessary that, before publication, the investigators should be given the opportunity to excise from their reports such confidential matter as, in their opinion, should not be made public.


Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance to the House that the steps proposed to be taken will be taken this Session?


I think my hon. Friend might just await the Debate. It is no use nibbling at the subject. A complete statement will be made as quickly as possible.


Will the recommendations of the Commissioners be given in full?


Oh. yes, certainly. The whole reports will be given, with the exception of the excised parts, which will not affect the recommendations.


Are the statements that have to be deleted from the reports of such a shocking character that the whole country, now unaware of the awful conditions under which people in the distressed areas live, will be shocked into realising the awful state of affairs in those areas, and is it the case that the Government are ashamed of the situation?


I hope the hon. Member will start no such hare as that. The excisions will be made by the Commissioners themselves, and the only thing that they will keep in mind is betrayal of the confidence which they were assured would be observed. There is nothing in the nature of horrors or that kind of thing which is to be searched for in order to be deleted.


While appreciating the Government's decision to publish these reports, is the Prime Minister aware that might considerably invalidate the value of the reports if parts are taken out? May I also ask if the House will have an opportunity at a very early date of discussing the matter; that is, this Session? Will the Government also publish the proposals that were made by the responsible authorities to the Commissioners?


I think that the usual channels might start communications. We desire the Debate to take place as quickly as possible. With reference to the excision of certain things, the hon. Member must know perfectly well that we said, with the knowledge of the House, that confidential information might be asked for and used in the reports. I can assure the hon. Member and the House, and they will take my word for it—I have read every word of the four documents—that the excisions will not affect the recommendations and will not affect the substance of the reports themselves. It is only am matter of references. It is simply a question of information sent in under conditions of confidence.

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