HC Deb 27 January 1947 vol 432 cc597-9
47. Mr. Wilson Harris

asked the Prime Minister what is the position with regard to the £1,000,000 gift given by the people of South Africa to the people of Britain.

The Prime Minister

When Field-Marshal Smuts handed me the gift to which the hon. Member refers, he made it clear to me that it was desired that I should undertake the personal responsibility for its allocation without condition, except that the people of Natal wished their part of the gift to be applied to a hospital or similar utilitarian purpose, and I am glad to have this chance of saying again that I appreciate the honour of having been chosen to play my part in administering this welcome and generous token of friendship. It was clear that I could not by myself undertake the task of examining, or searching for, projects worthy of the gift, but' I at once gave careful thought to the possibility of finding an adequately representative body to advise me. It was not easy to find a body which would be representative and yet not unwieldy, and I eventually came to the conclusion that I could do no better man to select several Members of this House, of varying parties, and I am glad to say that the following eight Members have consented to serve:

  • The hon. Lady the Member for North East Leeds (Miss Bacon).
  • The hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown).
  • The hon. and gallant Member for Buckingham (Flight-Lieut. Crawley).
  • The hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head).
  • The hon. Lady the Member for Anglesey (Lady Megan Lloyd-George).
  • The hon. Member for Rutherglen (Mr. McAllister).
  • The hon. Member for Caernarvonshire (Mr. G. Roberts).
  • The hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. P. Thorneycroft).
I conceive it to be in the spirit of the gift that part of it, at least, should be devoted to youth, in which lies the future of the welfare of the people of this country, and it will be noticed that there are younger Members of this House among the names I have mentioned as being ready to serve on this Committee. In seeking a chairman, I looked, first, for impartiality, and I felt I could not do better than ask Mr. Speaker, who has been good enough to say that he will be ready to act as chairman of this committee, though not, of course, in his official capacity. I have issued a notice to the Press today announcing the composition of the Committee.

Mr. Wilson Harris

I do not know how far the appreciation of the House, as a House, at this signal act of generosity has been conveyed to the Union Government, but may we hope that, if there is anything of advantage to be added, the Prime Minister will add it?

The Prime Minister

Certainly, I will do that if necessary.

Mr. Stanley Prescott

Can the Prime Minister say whether the recommendations will be made public?

The Prime Minister

I will consider that, but the matter is one which has been put on my responsibility. I have an unofficial committee to advise me and as I had asked Members of the House to serve on it, I considered it only right to acquaint the House of the fact. However, I will look into that point.