HL Deb 02 May 1945 vol 136 cc153-5

5.5 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the two questions on the Paper in my name.

[The questions were as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government whether there is to be any constitutional change in Newfoundland to enable the people to take part in the election of the personnel of the Government of that country.

To ask His Majesty's Government whether a statement can be made as to any proposals for the future economic development of Newfoundland.]


My Lords, in the absence of my noble friend the Leader of the House, I have been asked to reply to these questions. As your Lordships will recall, my noble friend, the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, made a statement in this House on the 30th January, in reply to the noble Lord, explaining that it was the intention of His Majesty's Government to proceed as early as circumstances permitted with the constitutional policy in relation to Newfoundland which they have already announced. My noble friend further explained that the prolongation of the war in Europe to 1945 had made it necessary to defer for the time being the production of His Majesty's Government's detailed proposals, but that he would aim at making a full statement later in the year. Such a statement, he said, would deal both with the constitutional aspect and also with Newfoundland's reconstruction needs. It would in any case be made in good time before the moment came for the setting up of machinery in Newfoundland to enable Newfoundlanders to judge these questions for themselves.

Since then the matter has been under continuous consideration, but certain factors which would have to be taken into account in any detailed proposals are still uncertain, and in the opinion of His Majesty's Government the time has not yet arrived when the full statement contemplated by my noble friend could usefully be made. I can say however that His Majesty's Government are determined to press forward with their announced policy in relation to Newfoundland, and that they will lose no time in making known their full proposals as soon as the way is clear for them to do so.


My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Earl, but I hope that the Government are taking note of the fact that the temporary wave of prosperity that came to Newfoundland during the war is rapidly receding. Already the Press are talking of the difficulties arising from the long delay, which they think unnecessary delay, on the part of the Government. I hope that at any rate His Majesty's Government will see that "later in the year" is not too late in the year for anything to be done that is effective.


I will see that my noble friend's comment is con- veyed to the noble Viscount the Leader of the House as soon as he returns from San Francisco.