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Newfoundland (Parliamentary Mission)

Volume 393: debated on Tuesday 9 November 1943

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51.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will arrange that the reports prepared by the members of the Parliamentary deputation which recently visited Newfoundland, be printed and made available for Members of the House; and that an opportunity be given to the House for discussing the reports and making decisions about the restoration of self-government to Newfoundland?

No, Sir. The reports in question were confidential expressions of views, and their publication would be inappropriate. An opportunity to debate Newfoundland questions is likely to occur shortly when Dominion affairs come up for discussion, and the members of the Mission will, of course, be free to give the House the benefit of their views and impressions in the course of debate. Meanwhile, I should like to add my congratulations to them on the conclusion of a notably successful tour.

If I am able to procure one or more of these reports in the black market, will I be infringing any of the Emergency Orders?

My hon. Friend is the judge of his own honour—and a good judge.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give me any indication of what would be a favourable occasion for the House to discuss Dominion affairs?

Dominion affairs, of course, can be raised on the Address, which will be debated before very long.

It would be quite proper. An Amendment even can be framed to the Address—I am not suggesting it as a course which should be adopted—on some such lines as, "But we regret that no mention appears in the Gracious Speech of the situation in Newfoundland."

Is it the case that the three Members who have made these confidential reports will not have any restriction imposed upon them in the course of any Debate which may take place?

It is not in my power to impose any restriction upon any hon. Member apart from those restrictions which are inborne upon them by the ordinary decencies of civilised life and the fairly strict Rules of Parliamentary procedure.

Has not a definite pledge been given that a day will be set aside by the Government for a Debate on Dominion affairs, apart from the Address, and regardless of Newfoundland?

There will always be an opportunity for a Debate in the course of the Session on the salary of the Dominions Secretary.

That would make a very strong case for bringing it up in the coming Session. When Supply is set up, the House decides what matters it wishes to discuss, and what Votes it wants set down. Then there are all the general occasions. My right hon. Friend under whose instructions I work in these matters has not authorised me at the moment to allocate any particular day for any particular purpose.