HC Deb 05 July 1938 vol 338 cc176-7
39. Mr. Creech Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether the Commission of Government of Newfoundland spontaneously offered to bear one-sixth of the total cost of the construction of the air-bases in the island or whether any pressure was brought to bear upon the Commission to induce them to agree; and what representations were made, either by the Governor or by any member of the Commission, to the effect that the general state of the finances of the island were not such as to justify any contribution towards the cost of a project which could be of little benefit to Newfoundland?

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (Lord Stanley)

In the organisation of Empire air routes the general principle is that each Government concerned should itself provide the ground facilities required in its own territory. Special considerations arose as regards the extent to which effect could be given to this principle in the circumstances of Newfoundland. After discussion the Commission of Government concurred in the proposal that one-sixth of the construction cost of the air bases required in the island, excluding provision for wireless facilities, should be charged to the budget of Newfoundland which would own and control the bases when completed. In practice, however, as the hon. Member will appreciate, the liability of the Newfoundland Government on this account is in effect met through the annual grant-in-aid from the United Kingdom Exchequer.

Mr. Lunn

If the Commission of Government have any money to spare, should they not spend it upon food and clothing for the starving thousands of the population?

Lord Stanley

This seems to be an admirable way for money to be spent, and one hopes that it will lead to further development.