HC Deb 20 June 1939 vol 348 cc2035-6W
Mr. Creech Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the inquiry by the recent Commissioner for Public Utilities in Newfoundland about the affairs in that Dominion; whether in view of the fact that economically the Dominion is poorer than in 1932, and that the Commission Government has failed to make any definite progress towards rehabilitation, he will consider the restoration of some more democratic form of government and re-examine the policy being pursued at present?

Sir T. Inskip

I assume that the hon. Member refers to the recently published book by Mr. Lodge, who was Commis- sioner for Public Utilities in Newfoundland from 1934 to 1937. This book gives the author's personal view of the Newfoundland problem and does not arise from an official inquiry. Owing to adverse trade conditions a set-back has occurred in the island since the spring of 1938, up to which time a definite improvement had taken place in the economic position. This led to a re-examination by the Commission of Government of their general policy, and an extension of their reconstruction programme on the lines of Mr. Gorvin's recent proposals is now in hand. As regards the question of any constitutional change, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave him on 14th February.

Mr. Barnes

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he will consider the advisability of sending a co-operative commission to Newfoundland representative of consumer, agricultural and co-partnership forms of co-operation to study the industrial and social conditions prevailing there, and to advise whether the application of co-operative methods could contribute to the restoration of the economic prosperity of Newfoundland?

Sir T. Inskip

I will bring the hon. Member's suggestion to the notice of the Commission of Government but I may say that active steps are already being taken to promote the development of co-operative institutions in Newfoundland.

A special Co-operative Division of the Department of Rural Reconstruction has been in operation for the last three years under the direction of a Canadian expert, and as will be seen from pages 28–29 of the commission's report for 1938 (Cmd. Paper 6010), there are now in the island some 700 co-operative study groups, 22 co-operative credit societies, 25 co-operative buying clubs and a number of co-operative producer and consumer societies. Further, a new experiment in co-operative development in the fisheries is now to be initiated under the direction of Mr. Gorvin, the Commissioner-Designate for Natural Resources, who, like the retiring Commissioner, has had special experience of co-operative work.