HC Deb 13 February 1945 vol 408 cc13-6
21. Mr. Beverley Baxter

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs what progress has been made in carrying out the political education of the people of Newfoundland.

The Under-Secretary of State far Dominion Affairs (Mr. Emrys-Evans)

In present circumstances, it is felt that the political education of the people of Newfoundland can best be achieved by encouraging the development of local government. The Commission of Government have recently made a renewed effort to interest the people in the formation of local councils. Several new councils have recently been formed, the first to be set up in the Island outside the capital, and the two paper company towns of Grand Falls and Corner Brook, and the Commission have now appointed a local government officer whose duty it will be to maintain contact with lacol councils and, generally, to advise them and to encourage the formation of further bodies. Substantial financial assistance is available from Government funds to enable such bodies to find their feet. Apart from these activities within Newfoundland, steps have been taken to provide political education for Newfoundlanders serving in the Forces or in the Newfoundland Forestry Unit, and many lectures and talks on local and Parliamentary government procedure have been given with very satisfactory results. I should like to take this opportunity of thanking, on behalf of my noble Friend, the hon. Members who have so willingly contributed their time and experience to this end.

Mr. Riley

May I ask whether there is any demand now coming from any section in Newfoundland for the restoration of self-government?

Mr. Speaker

That is another question.

Mr. Gallacher

Does the Under-Secretary suggest that the people of Newfoundland are a backward race, or incapable of looking after their own affairs? Is that the suggestion behind this idea of political education?

Mr. Emrys-Evans

No, Sir.

22. Mr. Baxter

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, what steps have been taken to ascertain the kind of government which is desired by the people of Newfoundland.

Mr. Emrys-Evans

I would refer my hon. Friend to the statement of policy which I made on behalf of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom on 2nd December, 1943, in which it was stated that, as soon as practicable after the end of the war in Europe, machinery would be provided for enabling the Newfoundland people to examine the future of the Island, and to express their considered views as to the form of government they desire, having regard to the financial and economic conditions prevailing at the time. His Majesty's Government are, at present, engaged in framing machinery for this purpose. Three members of the Commission of Government have visited this country for the purpose of consultation with my Noble Friend, and good progress has been made, though for reasons explained in this House on 30th January, His Majesty's Government are not yet in a position to announce their detailed proposals.

Mr. Baxter

Does not my hon. Friend agree that Newfoundland has now been taxed without representation for 13 years, which is against all the pledges which we made and against the whole tradition of our race, and should not this country be treated on the same basis as small European States, which are entitled and, if necessary, required to accept self-government?

Petty-Officer Alan Herbert

May I ask my hon. Friend whether, in view of the fact that the confidential report of Lord Ammon, the former Member for North Camberwell, has now been published in pamphlet form; and as the other members of the Parliamentary Commission do not agree with him by any means on all points, would it not now be fair and wise to permit the publication of the reports of the other two members?

Mr. Emrys-Evans

No, Sir, I do not think that I can give any assurance to my hon. and gallant Friend that the other reports will be published.

Petty-Officer Herbert

Why not?

Mr. Emrys-Evans

Because, as I explained on previous occasions, these were private accounts given to my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council when he was Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs and they were not written with a view to publication.

Sir Percy Harris

May I ask my hon. Friend whether the other two private reports are entitled to the same rights and privileges as the one which has already been published?

Mr. Emrys-Evans

No, Sir, that report has not been published. A pamphlet has been published by Lord Ammon but the report has not been published.

Commander Sir Archibald Southby

May I ask my hon. Friend whether, if the other two members of the Commission publish their reports in pamphlet form, he will agree to the pamphlets being circulated?

Mr. Emrys-Evans

It is not a question for me to give any assurance with regard to pamphlets published by hon. Members, nor would I be required to circulate them.

Petty-Officer Herbert

Is not the pamphlet to which I refer, almost word for word, identical with the report of Lord Ammon?

23. Mr. Baxter

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs how many millions of dollars have been loaned to this country by the Government of Newfoundland during the war, and at what rate of interest.

Mr. Emrys-Evans

During the course of the war a total sum of 12,300,000 dollars has been loaned by Newfoundland to this country for the furtherance of the war effort. Of this figure, 10,500,000 dollars has been lent from surplus balances, whilst 1,800,000 dollars represents proceeds from the sale of War Savings Certificates. These loans have been made free of interest, and are subject to repayment as required.

Mr. Baxter

Does the Minister agree, in principle, that if this country is unable to repay that loan to Newfoundland, then Newfoundland will be entitled to close down our Parliament, and put in a provisional Government?

Mr. A. Bevan

Is it not the fact that Newfoundland lost her self-governing status in the first place because she failed to repay loans to this country; and is it not rather extraordinary that she should now continue to lose it when she herself is lending money to us?

Mr. Emrys-Evans

I do not think that that gives a fair picture of the situation. It should be remembered that during the years in which His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom have been responsible for the Government of Newfoundland, they have paid as much as 16,000,000 dollars in grants-in-aid.