HC Deb 03 December 1941 vol 376 cc1126-8
40. Mr. Riley

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether consultations have taken place regarding the desirability of setting up a standing joint committee of both Houses of Parliament, for the purpose of keeping under regular review questions pertaining to the development and well-being of our colonial subjects; and whether anything is being done in the matter?

Mr. George Hall

No consultations have taken place in this matter since the autumn of 1939, when the House was informed that the proposal raised issues of Parliamentary procedure and constitutional practice of a far-reaching character, which would require very careful consideration. My hon. Friend will appreciate, I feel sure, that war conditions do not provide a favourable opportunity for the consideration of such a matter.

Mr. Riley

Will the Minister bear in mind that this request has been made in every Colonial discussion in the last few years and that the Prime Minister undertook to have the matter gone into?

Mr. Hall

The matter was considered, but the war intervened, and Ministers have been so preoccupied with other very important matters that it has been impossible to give consideration to this matter.

Colonel Arthur Evans

In view of the fact that the Government have not found it possible to issue the annual Colonial Report for reasons of security, will my hon. Friend be good enough to ask his right hon. Friend to consider the matter again?

Mr. Noel-Baker

In view of the fact that war conditions greatly restrict the time available for Debate on Colonial matters in this House and of the widespread feeling expressed by Members of the House the other day, will my hon. Friend ask his Noble Friend to reconsider this matter sympathetically?

Mr. Hall

This matter is constantly before my right hon Friend, and I have no doubt that he will consider it in the light of these questions.

Mr. Lipson

Cannot a joint committee of this kind help the Minister even in wartime?

Mr. Sorensen

Does my hon. Friend appreciate that many Members of this House who would like to discuss very pertinent matters to the Colonies cannot have an opportunity in these days, and will he devise some means whereby consultations can take place from time to time?

Mr. Hall

Hon. Members can approach the Colonial Office. We are always ready and very happy to see any hon. Members who are interested in Colonial questions.