HC Deb 05 March 1941 vol 369 cc896-7
16. Mr. Creech Jones

asked the Undersecretary of State for the Colonies whether he will issue a review of the Colonial Empire during the past two years in time for the Colonial Estimates this Session?

The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. George Hall)

The previous reports circulated with the Colonial and Middle Eastern Services Estimates in 1938 and 1939 were prepared in peacetime. In view of war-time difficulties,, the preparation and the publication of such a report cannot be undertaken at present.

Mr. Creech Jones

Will my hon. Friend consider the publication of such a report, since this is the only review of the Colonial Empire issued to Members of Parliament? Will he bring to the notice of his Noble Friend the very great importance during war-time of the House being informed of what is happening in the Colonial Empire?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will my hon. Friend reconsider this question, and will he consider whether the fact that we are in war conditions does not make it more necessary that such a report should be published?

Mr. Hall

This matter has been given very serious consideration, and it was after that consideration that we arrived at our decision. A good deal of information must be collected from the various Colonies, and this means a great amount of work at the Colonial Office.

Mr. Riley

Has my hon. Friend taken into consideration opinion in the Colonies on this matter? Would it not be satisfactory to know that Parliament is not losing sight of Colonial conditions even during war-time?

Mr. Hall

I assure the hon. Member that the various matters which would be reported in the annual report have been considered, and some of the Governors of the Colonies know the position, because they have been consulted as to the advisability or otherwise of a report being published.