HC Deb 08 April 1941 vol 370 cc1390-1
8. Mr. Creech Jones

asked the Undersecretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether, in view of the improved finances of Newfoundland, and her dependence no longer on a grant in aid, the Government will consider the restoration of self-government to this Dominion?

Mr. Shakespeare

I am glad to take this opportunity of expressing the high appreciation felt by His Majesty's Government for the financial assistance which Newfoundland is rendering to the common war effort by dispensing with an annual grant-an-aid from the United Kingdom Exchequer in order to meet current administrative deficits. The gap is being filled by special taxation of a war-time nature and the issue of local war savings certificates. As regards the question of a possible revision of the Constitution, it will be appreciated that other considerations besides those arising from the existence of annual administrative deficits led to the establishment of the present system of government. It would clearly not be possible to consider a change at present, but I can assure the hon. Member that the position is constantly in mind.

Mr. Creech Jones

In view of recent developments in Newfoundland, such, for instance, as the naval bases, is it not most desirable and urgent that the principle of democracy should again be applied to this Dominion?

Mr. Shakespeare

I am afraid that I cannot add to my Answer.

Mr. Shinwell

How are we to convince the people of Newfoundland that we are fighting for democracy if we refuse to restore self-government to them?

Mr. Shakespeare

By considering this question at the appropriate time.

Colonel Arthur Evans

As far as the finances of the island are concerned, has my hon. Friend's attention been drawn to the remarks published by the American representative who visited the island in connection with the new bases; and in view of that report, which has been published in the American Press and is rather detrimental to the condition of the island, will my hon. Friend make sure that the finances are not curtailed in such a way as to make it impossible to carry out the improvements which are vitally necessary?

Mr. Shakespeare

Yes, Sir.