HC Deb 04 March 1942 vol 378 cc634-5
36. Mr. David Adams

asked the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, with a view to utilising to the full the material resources of the Colonies, the Government have reconsidered their decision not to raise special West Indian military units, and will take more energetic measures of Civil Defence and in the raising of local defence corps; and whether, in return for complete collaboration of the West Indian people, specific promises will be made as regards their future progress towards responsible government and their social advancement generally?

Mr. Harold Macmillan

As regards the first part of the Question, the resources of the West Indian Colonies are already being utilised to the fullest practicable extent. As regards the second part, I can assure my hon. Friend that the questions of Civil Defence and local military forces are being vigorously proceeded with. The third part of the Question is based on a misapprehension. The people of the British West Indies have at all times shown how eager they are to make the greatest possible contribution towards the war effort.

Mr. Adams

Are we to understand that the Government are now definitely and specifically deciding to work in close collaboration with the West Indies, which they have not done hitherto?

Mr. Macmillan

I cannot accept the suggestion of my hon. Friend, but I can assure him that we propose to work in the greatest possible collaboration.

Mr. Creech Jones

Will the hon. Gentleman give very careful attention to this problem of Civil Defence, in view of the continuous statements in the newspapers that the Government are not giving that matter the attention it should receive; and is he aware that there is a very real sense of frustration on the part of the national movements, particularly in Jamaica, that their services are not being brought into use to the extent that they desire?

Mr. Macmillan

Yes, Sir. I am obliged to my hon. Friend for bringing the matter to my notice.