HC Deb 01 November 1938 vol 340 cc11-2

The following question stood on the Order Paper in the name of Mr. LUNN:

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

Mr. Lunn

In asking this question, may I say how much we regret that the right hon. Gentleman who was Secretary of State for the Dominions when I put down the question is not here to answer it?

Mr. Malcolm MacDonald

The House shares that regret, and I believe it will be given an opportunity later to express it fully.

Economic conditions in Newfoundland have been adversely affected during the present year both by increased difficulties in the export markets for codfish, and also by the prevailing depression in the newsprint industry, which has led to a severe curtailment of logging activities. The Commission of Government have endeavoured to meet this difficult situation, partly by the introduction of a special short-term programme of road and public works and partly by the adoption of certain measures of assistance to the fishing industry. It was not possible, however, by Government action to offset in full the shortage of employment in the fishing and logging industries, and I regret to say that recent relief returns are showing an increase over and above the normal seasonal fluctuation. A satisfactory feature is that the mining industry continues to operate at full capacity.

In the field of social services, the Government are making progress with a general public health campaign initiated last year, with special anti-tuberculosis activities, and with the expansion of hospital accommodation at St. John's. There has also been a considerable expansion of agricultural activity during the past season.

Mr. Lunn

When may we expect a report on the condition of affairs in Newfoundland?

Mr. MacDonald

The hon. Member knows that a regular annual report is published and I would have to make inquiries as to when the next annual report is expected to be in the hands of hon. Members.

Mr. Maxton

May I take it from the answer that the dictatorship in Newfoundland has failed to solve the essential problems of that territory?

Mr. MacDonald

I do not think any form of government in Newfoundland could have stopped the civil war in Spain or the policy of the Brazilian Government in putting up a tariff or the depression of the newsprint industry in the United States of America. All the Government have done is to make the most of the opportunities they have.

Mr. Maxton

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that his predecessor was not prepared to accept that type of excuse when a democratic government was in office?

Forward to