HC Deb 15 December 1960 vol 632 cc580-1
15. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what facilities are available in his Department for information and consultation with Members of Parliament visiting dependant Territories.

Mr. Iain Macleod

Any Member visiting a Colonial Territory can obtain from my Department a wide range of documentary material. For many years, Sir William McLean, a former Member of this House, has acted in a voluntary capacity as Parliamentary Liaison Officer in the Information Department, and will be well known to many Members. In addition we are always ready to discuss Members' visits with them, both before they go and on their return.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many of us are very grateful to Sir William McLean for the information he gives and sends to us on the subject of the dependant Territories? But as regards consultation, does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that, when there is a state of tension in a dependent Territory, it is desirable that hon. Members should refrain from controversial comments at any rate until they return to this country?

Mr. Macleod

With respect, I do not think that that is a matter for me. I do not myself sponsor visits or have anything to do with them except for letting the governors and others know of the visits of hon. Members of this House. I think that my duty in this is confined is giving as much information as possible to hon. Members, which I like to do, and if they like to come to see me before they go I will help them in any way that I can. I am also glad to see them on their return to get impressions of their visits.

Mr. Callaghan

Is it not the case that the Government provide a subsidy to at least one institution here to facilitate visits by hon. Members to Commonwealth and Colonial Territories? Instead of private organisations financing visits on behalf of Commonwealth Governments, would it not be preferable if Her Majesty's Government were to set aside a larger allocation so that hon. Members could visit these Territories and properly acquaint themselves on issues on which votes in this Parliament will be decisive?

Mr. Macleod

That is a very different question. I welcome as many visits as possible from hon. Members to the different Territories. To whatever extent these visits were helped by Her Majesty's Government, I have no doubt that private people in different capacities would also wish to arrange for visits, and I see no reason why they should not.

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