HC Deb 01 June 1938 vol 336 cc2035-6
43. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will immediately institute special inquiries, by means of a commission or otherwise, into the social and industrial condition of natives in those British colonies and mandated areas where acute disturbances have not yet occurred, in order that possible causes of distress and disaffection may be fully appreciated and steps taken to remove those causes?

Mr. M. MacDonald

This matter is constatly receiving the attention of Colonial Governments, and with regard to labour conditions in particular I would draw the hon. Member's attention to the circular despatch which my predecessor addressed to Colonial Governors on 24th August last. A copy was placed in the Library of the House at the time. In addition special inquiries have recently been held in a number of the Territories referred to in the question.

Mr. Sorensen

Does not the right hon. Member agree that it would be much better to have a systematic and comprehensive inquiry into the industrial and similar circumstances of these Colonies, with a view to preventing any further outbreaks taking place? Or does he prefer to have a series of riots before action is taken?

Mr. MacDonald

Where an inquiry is in our opinion necessary it has been held, and such inquiries as the hon. Member has in mind have been held in a number of these Colonies.

Mr. Sorensen

Does not the right hon. Member think it necessary to hold an inquiry in those Colonies where riots have broken out?

Mr. Creech Jones

Will the Secretary of State consider setting up an advisory committee at the Colonial Office in addition to the Inter-Departmental Committee so that labour problems may receive the continuous attention of the Colonial Office?

Mr. MacDonald

My predecessor appointed a special adviser on labour matters and he is giving these important questions continuous attention now, and is advising me upon them.