HC Deb 21 October 1937 vol 327 cc29-30
57. Mr. Lunn

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he has any information to give the House as to the position of affairs in Newfoundland?

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (Mr. Malcolm MacDonald)

Except in the areas dependent primarly on the shore fisheries there has been a general improvement in economic conditions in Newfoundland during the past summer. In the fishing industry difficulty has been experienced in finding markets for salt fish at remunerative prices, but the paper, logging, mining and other industries show considerable improvement and in some cases their activity is.above the level reached at any previous time. There are many difficulties in the situation still, but the general quickening of economic activity is reflected in the figures of the number of families in receipt of relief which was 11,044 in September, 1936, and 5,791 in September this year. A seasonal increase in the present number on relief must however be expected in the late autumn and winter months.

Mr. Lunn

Have there been any changes in the Commission of Government since we had the last report; and will the right hon. Gentleman see that we have another report on the conditions obtaining in Newfoundland?

Mr. MacDonald

I think, actually, since the last report, which came out some six months ago, there has been one change in the Commission—the new Finance Commissioner. That change has not taken place since I last answered a question on the matter in this House. I think the hon. Member knows that the arrangement now is that there shall be an annual report, so that in due course the next report will come before the House.

Mr. Leach

When the right hon. Gentleman decides to restore representative government in Newfoundland—and I hope it will not be long delayed—will he see that Government posts there are not filled by nepotism?

Mr. McGovern

Is there any desire on the part of the Government to go back to parliamentary government in Newfoundland and to abolish the financial dictatorship which-now exists?

Mr. MacDonald

When the island is once more self-supporting, then the old constitution will be reverted to.