HC Deb 12 June 1939 vol 348 cc893-4
47. Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the recommendation of Lord Hailey that a Standing Parliamentary Committee for Colonial Affairs should be set up, and whether he will constitute such a Committee?

The Prime Minister

I have seen the reference to a Standing Parliamentary Committee in Lord Hailey's survey. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies has been for some time engaged on a comprehensive examination of the whole machinery for framing and carrying out Colonial policy, as it now exists, in order to determine what alterations and developments are necessary or advisable. The possibility of bringing Parliament into closer and more regular contact with the affairs of the Colonial Empire is not being lost sight of in this examination, but I am not in a position to make a statement about it until the Government have completed their consideration of the problem as a whole.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman has taken into consideration the expressions of opinion favourable to such a committee which were given vent to, in the Debate on the Colonies last week, from all quarters of the House, when, in fact, the Secretary of State for the Colonies showed himself not averse from such a course?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. I have taken notice of that.

Mr, Petherick

If such a committee were set up on Colonial affairs, would it not be impossible reasonably to refuse it in the case of other Departments of State, and if this became general, would it not undermine the principles of Cabinet responsibility?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. That aspect has been taken into account also.