HC Deb 19 March 1889 vol 334 cc213-30

(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £10,500, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1889, for certain Advances to be made in Aid of the Emigration and Colonization of Crofters and Cottars of the Western Highlands and Islands of Scotland, including Expenses of Administration.


It may perhaps be convenient that I should at this point express the arrangement by which the Government propose to carry out their view expressed last year, that there should be a review of schemes of State-aided emigration. We propose to appoint a Committee to inquire into the subject, and the terms of reference we shall propose will be as follows:— That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into various schemes which have been proposed to Her Majesty's Government to facilitate emigration from the congested districts of the United Kingdom to the British colonies or elsewhere; to examine the results of any schemes which have received practical trial in recent years; and to report generally upon the means by, and the conditions under, which such emigration can best be carried out and the quarters to which it can most advantageously be directed.

MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)

In what respect does this differ from the Motion put on the Paper last year?


If the hon. Member compares the two he will see that this is considerably wider in scope than our proposal of last year; it includes emigration from congested districts not only in the crofter counties, but in other parts of Great Britain, and not only to British colonies, but to other parts of the world.


Does it include migration?


No; it does not.


Will the inquiry include the scheme under which the Government are now carrying on emigration from the Highlands?


The scheme of the Government is so far only experimental; it would be for the Committee to inquire how far it has answered, and whether it is desirable to give further effect to it.


I see that £700 have been announced as the amount subscribed by private individuals in Glasgow towards this emigration scheme; is the right hon. Gentleman in a position to say if any further sums beyond this £700 have been received up to the present time.


Yes; I believe the remainder of the amount has been subscribed.


I presume the phrase congested districts refers to rural districts, not manufacturing districts or mining districts? The term has hitherto been understood in that sense.


No; our proposal is wider than that. You might have a congested district in the East End of London. The Government are anxious that the whole question of emigration should be thoroughly thrashed out. We do not want to put forward any scheme unless it has received the countenance of the House of Commons. The subject is one which is rightly considered of great importance both by the friends and the opponents of emigration; and there are few subjects upon which it is more desirable to have a full inquiry by a competent Committee.

MR. SETON-KARR (St. Helen's)

Is it intended to appoint this Committee at once? Will a Colonization Board be constituted to administer the fund which has been raised?


Pending the Report of the Committee, is it proposed to suspend the present scheme?


I wish to ask whether, after the additional sums beyond the £700 are subscribed, the private subscribers will be allowed to appoint one of the Commissioners?


Will the fact of this Committee being appointed preclude any discussion in the House upon State-aided colonization?


I must admit that I think the subject would be better discussed after the Committee has been appointed. It is the intention of the Government to appoint the Committee at once, and it will be more satisfactory to have the whole matter threshed out upstairs before a general discussion is taken in the House. But, of course, hon. Members can take their own opportunity of raising a debate, or they will find it upon the Motion to appoint the Committee or on the terms of reference. The Government hope that in arranging this Committee they have satisfied to a certain extent those who are in favour of colonization. The £2,000, which are equal to one-fifth of the amount to be granted by the Government, having been subscribed, arrangements have been made for the Provost of Glasgow to represent the private subscribers. We do not propose to extend the present scheme for the emigration of crofters until the Committee have reported, except so far as pledges have been given to a limited number of crofters, who have made their plans, sold their stock, and whom it would be undesirable to disappoint. Otherwise we do not wish to move at all until we have the full opinion of the House upon the subject. I am glad to have this opportunity of answering these questions, and I think hon. Members will see exactly how the matter stands.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

After this announcement, I do not think there is any necessity for fighting out the question to-night. As a matter of fact, in discussing this Vote, we discuss money already spent. I, for one, desire that the question of emigration from the Highlands should be thoroughly discussed; but I do not think, under present circumstances, this is the opportunity. Under the condition that nothing further is done by the Government, I will not raise the question now.


Are the Government aware that a Colonization Committee, composed of 135 Members of this House and 30 Members of the House of Lords, has existed for the last two Sessions? These Gentlemen have thoroughly examined the subject, have taken evidence, and are prepared with a practical and sound financial scheme. I merely mention this to ask if the Government are aware of the fact, and whether that knowledge will have any bearing upon their own proposal?

MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

Have the Government considered the desirability of taking evidence from Colonists, and from inhabitants of other countries? I understand the proposal is to extend the investigation to all parts of the world. Now, it is well known that the class of people we want to get rid of—the paupers and the unemployed—are just those which foreign Governments, and even our own Colonies, will have nothing to do with. I hope, therefore, that arrangements will be made, by way of Commission or otherwise, for collecting evidence in foreign countries and the Colonies, if witnesses cannot be brought before the Committee upstairs.


Are we distinctly to understand that the Committee will inquire into emigration to all parts of the world, and not confine itself merely to British Colonies?


I distinctly read out the words "British Colonies and elsewhere." With reference to the suggestion of my hon. Friend (Mr. Seton-Karr), I am aware that there is such a Committee; but the Committee we propose will be composed not only of the friends of emigration, but of the critics of emigration. There are gentlemen in this House who have doubts as to the efficacy of emigration, and it is in order to get an authoritative decision of the House on this very important subject, which may cause considerable outlay, that we wish it thoroughly sifted both by the friends and supporters of the scheme and by the critics of it. As to the suggestion of the Member for Camborne, it would be most Utopian to lay down schemes of emigration without being fairly assured that those schemes would receive the warm support of the Colonies or countries to which the emigrants are to be sent. The agents for the Colonies in this country will be able to give valuable information with regard to the views of the Colonies they represent, and it will be important to have knowledge of the laws, say of the Dinted States, which regulate emigration into the United States, and generally of the conditions under which emigration could be carried out. We wish to place no limits to the fullness of the inquiry.

DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)

It seems to me that a most ludicrous fiasco has occurred to night. In order to avert threatened discussions the Government have been converted to the desirability of appointing Committees, and have agreed to three—one for mining royalties, another for dockyard administration, and a third for emigration. I am fur from considering the present proposal as being in advance of the proposal made by the Leader of the House at the end of last Session. I disliked that proposal, because by it the Government tried to fix responsibility for a mismanaged scheme on the shoulders of a number of private individuals; but besides, this is not a question of emigration of people from the congested districts of the United Kingdom, including East London and Ireland; it is a question of £10,000 for crofter emigration, and I think the subject would have been better considered by a Committee specially appointed for the purpose, and mainly consisting of Scottish Members.


I may remind the hon. Member that such a proposal was made by the Government last Session, but it was objected to on the ground that it was too narrow, and that we ought to consider the case of other districts besides the Highlands, and other countries besides our own Colonies.


The right hon. Gentleman is not correct in his statement of the grounds of the opposition to that proposal. The ground of opposition was that the Government had started a scheme and bungled it, and proposed to shift the responsibility for that mess on to the shoulders of a Committee. Besides, it was offered too late in the Session. I have not the smallest objection to the appointment of such a Committee at the beginning of the Session, and I believe my own friends would agree with me on that point. But we would very much prefer to have a Committee on the special proposal for the crofters. On the 11th of April, the Secretary to the Treasury wrote various letters in which he said he had got the consent of the Treasury to the scheme of crofter emigration. That scheme had been warmly advocated by Lord Lothian for months previously. Lord Lothian publicly stated, in November or December of the year before last, that he was convinced that emigration was the remedy for the woes of the crofter districts, and it was said that if his views were not accepted by the Government he would resign. By April of last year he succeeded in convincing the politico-economical Chancellor of the Exchequer of the soundness of his views so far as to induce him to allow the funds of the general taxpayers to be applied to the benefit of one particular class. When the First Lord of the Treasury was asked why this scheme was to be carried out, he said that the Government were following the proposal of the Crofter Commission. People who had read the Report of the Commission believed that what the Commission proposed was quite contrary. Their scheme was that labourers should be sent out who were to be indentured to employers, and that was a scheme for which a small sum of money would be sufficient. The second part of the scheme was that families should be emigrated by the assistance of the State. They issued a circular, stating, as indispensable conditions for the success of the scheme, that each family should at once find means of subsistence on the homestead from the day of its arrival; and, secondly, that the cost should not exceed what the family could reasonably be expected to pay back in eight or ten years; and, thirdly, that the Colonial Government should take an interest in the scheme, see that the emigrants were properly established, and look after the repayment. None of these conditions were fulfilled. Instead of being allowed time to sell their holdings the crofters were hurried out, and therefore the expense was greater. When these men landed in Canada they were not looked after by the Canadian authorities; a representative of a land company carried them off. It was proposed that the Government should advance four-fifths of any sum not exceeding £10,000, on condition that the public subscribed the remaining one-fifth. Until a few months ago only £700 was subscribed, and the Government restricted their advances. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that the full amount of £2,000 has now been subscribed, and I should like to know from the Lord Advocate if that is correct?


Perfectly correct.


I am glad to hear it. Now, as to what actually occurred, as a matter of fact, men were landed in Canada, arriving there about the middle of June. They were taken in charge, not by an agent of the Canadian Government, but by the agent of the Canada North-western Company. I believe that gentleman bestirred himself in the interests of these people, giving attention to their welfare to an extent for which they ought to be thankful. But the care he took of them was not business with which the Government could in any way identify themselves. The scheme was a tentative one, to see if emigration could be carried out on such a large scale as would relieve the congestion of the Highlands. The proposal was that the men should be emigrated to Government lands in Canada, that £120 should be given them to pay their passage-money and settle them in their homesteads, the Canadian Government giving them the land under the Homestead Rules, while the Government held a lien on their holdings and stock for the amount of their advance. Mr. Scarth, the gentleman I refer to, looked about for a good place for the emigrants to settle in, having in his mind the desirability of placing them where they could fish, and he had in view also the necessity of supplying them with machinery, implements, and everything necessary for cultivating their land. All these things were provided. But it was found that there was no Government land available to meet the conditions, so the emigrants were brought down to a patch of territory belonging to the Canada North-Western Company, land selling from 6 dollars to 8 dollars an acre. Thus they got double the value of the land which the Government intended to give them—that is to say, they got what was equivalent to a present of another £120. They were, as I say, supplied with implements and stock, and the result was that Mr. Scarth, who took them in charge, greatly over-spent the money which was to be advanced. The Canada North-Western Company, who did not share the philanthropy of Mr. Scarth their manager, gravely objected to what had taken place, and so Mr. Scarth, was compelled, on the Government refusing to pay his outlay, to threaten to take back the stock he had given to the crofters. This brought the Government to book, and they advanced some £700 beyond the sum they had given under the original arrangement. So the crofters got another haul out of the Government, the £700 in question being divided among 30 or 40 families, and, after all, the Company was a loser in the matter. Some controversy took place over this—the crofters said they had been promised several things which were not given them. They said the understanding was that they should receive homesteads of Government land where they would have the right of preemption on another quarter section, and that this understanding had not been fulfilled. They said that the officer of the Board of Supervision who had superintended their emigration had said that they should receive similar terms to those which had been given to previous emigrants, which included provisions for the winter and seed for the summer, but that they found themselves at the commencement of the present winter without food and seed. Certain gentlemen who had been connected with the matter could not afford to see the scheme come to grief, and then it was, I understand, that for sheer shame's sake the money was subscribed. If it is impossible to find in a suitable district Government land in Canada on which 30 families can be placed with advantage, how in the world are the Government going to carry out the scheme to such an extent as to deplete the population of the Highlands to any appreciable degree? The contention is utterly absurd. I have never had any confidence in the scheme of the Government. It is utterly vicious so far as it gauges the amount of money to be spent by the Government by the amount of private subscriptions to the scheme. If the Government wish to emigrate a certain number of crofters, they must find the money for it out of their own resources, and the amount which will be required will be vastly more than is likely to be forthcoming, or than has been forthcoming. Schemes to the extent of £10,000 have again and again been tried, and have again and again failed. Sir James Matheson spent £10,000 in emigrating people from Lewis, but the island is as populous as ever. No doubt information on this subject can well be obtained by a Committee, but to mix up the question of State-aided emigration from all the large towns of England with this question of crofter emigration, to my mind, would be an absurdity. I have no objection to the question being dealt with. My object in criticizing the Vote is to show that the Government rushed into this matter without proper consideration by sending out men in a great hurry at a period of the year when it was impossible to fulfil the conditions under which emigration should have been conducted, and at a time when the emigrants were unable to plant corn or lay by any provisions for their winter use. The Government sent these people out, and they made so little arrangement for them that, according to statements in the Canadian newspapers, if it had not been for the kindly homesteaders, who gave them a few acres of land planted with potatoes, they would have come to grief soon after their arrival. The way this matter is brought before the House I think deserves criticism. The proposal was made in the course of a crofter debate, the Government declaring that this was the remedy they proposed for the state of matters that existed in the Highlands and Islands. They said they were determined to carry out this policy, as it was the policy recommended by the Crofter Commission. If it were not too late an hour I would ask how it was that it was only at the fag end of this Report that the Commission dealt with the matter, and whether it was not a very different kind of emigration that was referred to by them? The crofters in Canada have no doubt fallen on their feet by obtaining more than twice as much as they bargained for, but as a piece of statesmanship the whole thing has been utterly ridiculous. I do not intend to oppose this Vote tooth and nail. But it is through a piece of simple blundering on the part of the Government that so much money has been wasted.

*MR. ANGUS SUTHERLAND (Sutherlandshire)

I agree with the hon. Member who has just sat down, that there is great danger in mixing up the case of the congested districts of England with the case of the Highlands of Scotland. The cases are entirely dissimilar, and whatever grounds there may be for emigration from the congested districts of England, these grounds do not exist in the Highlands. It seems to me that the Government simply want to continue the policy of the landlords prior to the passing of the Crofters' Act in 1886, when the landlords thought they would compel the crofters to emigrate by turning them off the good land and putting them on the bad land. I wish to ask the Lord Advocate from what part of the Highlands there has been any demand for emigration? I can give the right hon. Gentleman hundreds of instances where the people of the Highlands in public meeting assembled have passed resolutions asking for migration, but not for emigration. I have no intention of referring to the £10,000 which is asked to-night. I take it that the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a confession on the part of the Government of the failure of the scheme they originally proposed, and I hope the result of the inquiry will be that the Government will be induced to take the same view of the state of matters in the Highlands that the people themselves take, and that they will afford facilities to the crofters to give evidence themselves before the Committee. If the Government do that, I am satisfied they will be convinced that the question of the congestion of the Highlands is to be met by migration and not by emigration.

*MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

An hon. Gentleman behind me Bays that there is a Committee consisting of 125 Members of this House, and a large number of Peers, all in favour of emigration, and that, therefore, it is not necessary to have an inquiry—


I said nothing of the kind.


I am one of that Committee. We have only met once, and as yet this question of emigration and migration has not been discussed. As the question of colonization, emigration, and migration, is so important I am glad the Government are going to have a searching inquiry which may come to some sound conclusion on the matter.

MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)

I can quite understand that the Government wish to confine the inquiry within manageable limits, but I would suggest that the reference should be so drawn as to enable those who say that emigration is not desirable to put before the Committee the alternative of migration.

SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy)

I also think that the Committee ought to inquire whether a remedy for the existing congestion in the Highlands may not be found in migration, and not in emigration only. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham has said that it is impossible to make advances to enable Highlanders to stock farms in the Highlands or in other parts of Scotland, because we do not know whether we shall recover such advances. But surely there would be quite as good (or even better) security for such advances if made in Scotland as for similar advances for stocking farms in Manitoba. I can confirm the statements made by the hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow as to the scheme of emigration to Canada which has been referred to, and I think it is to be regretted that the Government should refuse to let the proposed Committee look at least into the question of what is the best remedy for the congestion of the Highlands, and whether the evil may not be met by migration to other parts of Scotland. Until that question is examined we shall not be satisfied; and though we do not oppose the Vote now, when the question for the Committee is proposed we shall move an Amendment.


Sir, the appointment of a Committee relieves the Committee of the House from considering, in any controversial or argumentative sense, the proposal of a grant of £10,000. It is desirable that the Committee should be appointed with a fair field and an open ground for inquiry, and that nothing should be prejudged before the investigation which takes place before the Committee. The Government submit, as one of the elements of inquiry by that Committee, what they justly call the experiment which is made in emigration under the present scheme, and it is because that is necessarily one of the chief subjects of inquiry that I desire to say nothing to prejudge the question as to the success of the experiment. At the same time that reticence on the part of the Government, Mr. Courtney, must not be misinterpreted as any indication of a belief that the scheme is to any extent a failure. I desire to say in a few words in what respects the experiment has been a success; and I would quote the words of its chief critic (the hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow), who has said that in the present case the crofters have fallen upon their feet. I hope that when this question is considered by those who are primarily interested—namely, the relief of these congested districts, that they will have in view in any representations made to the Committee that emphatic testimony to the success of this experiment. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy has raised a point as to the scope of the inquiry, but before I men- tion that, because it is not an unimportant point, I desire to say in reference to the general tone of the remarks of the hon. Member for the College Division, that when the result of the recent scheme is closely examined, it will be found to contain great elements of encouragement, and that it has actually achieved success. No doubt he is right in saying that the exigencies which arose from the lateness of the season at which the emigration took place may have to some extent impaired the absolutely complete and uniform success of the individual emigrations. But all that is merely an incident of the scheme, which, given fair play, is likely to form a most encouraging field for the inquiry of the Committee. I turn to what has been said by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy, who I believe approaches the subject, as I believe hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the Gangway opposite desire, in a spirit of perfect candour. This is a subject in which all classes of the community are vastly, and vitally interested, and it is of importance, that the Committee, in its action, should have an entirely open mind as to the resources which the Queen's dominions present for obtaining the happiness of any class of her subjects. But, Sir, he will allow me to remind him that there are two subjects which are inextricably confused in the combination which he proposed. Hon. Gentlemen on the other side very properly emphasized the necessity of the Government exercising care as to the financial results of their experiments. One of the encouraging features in such emigration as has been experimented upon in the recent scheme is that there are Government lands available from the Colonial Government, and that these can be placed at the disposal of the emigrants. But when we come to the Mother Country, we are not in the position of having Government lands, and, accordingly, any scheme of migration is handicapped wih the enormous pecuniary burden upon the State of expropriation. It is a most serious question, and a most delicate social and economic problem, that of expropriation, The hon. Gentleman, on reflection, will see that the subject which he suggests stands in a different category from that of emigration, and is attended with difficulties of a most momentous kind. It is greatly to be feared that the Committee of Inquiry would find their usefulness largely hampered if they had to deal with a subject which might really lead to the embarrassment of more accessible scheme of emigration to Government lands which are available in the Colonies. As to emigration, there are a number of competing schemes; various experiments have been made, and materials are already to hand. Accordingly, the Committee of Inquiry into the subject will have the various interests placed before them. The scope of the inquiry proposed by my right hon. Friend is one most likely to lead to practical results. I hope I have conformed to the moderation of statement which is appropriate on this occasion, when we are on the threshold of an inquiry. I desire to impress upon the Committee this, that had this been the right occasion I was prepared to vindicate the success of the present experiment. But I think it is better to reserve the judgment of the Committee of this House on that subject, as there is prospect of an inquiry by a tribunal which will not only be completely impartial, but thorough.

*DR. MCDONALD (Ross and Cromarty)

In reference to what the Lord Advocate has said, I would recommend to the House that which was recommended by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. The First Lord of the Treasury told us the other night that he was most willing and anxious to do anything of the kind. And what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham suggested was this—that you should migrate those crofters who are willing and able to stock farms The Lord Advocate has spoken of the difficulties of expropriation, but I can assure the House that there are no such difficulties in the Highlands at all. There are hundreds, nay thousands, of farmers in the Highlands who have been groaning under high rents for the last 19 years, and who would be glad to pay for the chance of throwing up their leases. When the right hon. Gentleman says there is very considerable difficulty in emigration, I ask him why not migrate to Mr. Winan's forest? Does he think it very wrong to cause communities of crofters to be set up in the forest? The crofters have already been the subject of legislation, and under the Crofters' Act we have had the right to have a farm of 300 acres broken up, half of it to be divided among those crofters. Unfortunately the Government of the day, assisted by Gentlemen on the other side of the House, so hedged it about with rules and regulations, that only one crofter has so far benefited out of the many hundreds and thousands of crofters that have been already dealt with. The right hon. Gentleman says he is prepared to prove to this House that the emigration experiment has been a success. I do not deny that for a moment. I allow that success as far as concerns the 900 out of every thousand crofters who have gone to foreign lands. But that is no benefit to the people who are left behind; and it is with people who are left behind that we have to deal. Then, Sir, as has been pointed out, if the Government asked for 10, aye, 20 times the amount for emigration, the increase of the population is such that we would still have the same number of people left behind that we had at the beginning of the experiment, and the congested districts would be in just the same condition as they were before. If the Government are willing to adopt the advice given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, they will introduce a Bill to amend the Crofters Act, so that land which farmers are willing to give up will be taken by crofters who can pay for stocking the farm and erecting buildings upon it. Surely, that is not an experiment which would involve serious cost. There are thousands of crofters who are able to stock the land and build houses, or they can get friends to help them to do so. If the Government can effect an amendment of the Crofters Act to that extent, we shall be able to show the country that there is a good number of crofters who are able and willing to take up the crofts without costing the country a single sixpence.

MR. LYELL (Orkney and Shetland)

I did not gather from the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he had a sufficient number of intending emigrants to absorb the whole of the £10,000. If there is not a sufficient number, it would be decidedly needless to vote the whole sum, because it might not be actually needed by the Government. I ask the question of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—


Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to answer the question. The number proposed to be emigrated this season would, according to the same proportion of expenditure as last year, nearly absorb £10,000. The hon. Member is probably aware that certain families were emigrated during last year, and the number proposed to be sent out this year is 40.


Has the Government calculated how much money would be likely to be required for the purpose of emigrating a sufficient number of these unfortunate people to produce the slightest impression on what we call the congestion of these Highland districts? The Government emigrated a certain number of families last year; they were a mere drop in the ocean. They are going to emigrate a certain number this year; they will be a mere drop in the ocean. In order to produce the slightest impression in the congested districts throughout the whole United Kingdom, including Connemara, and the slums of the East end of London, you would want not £10,000, but ten thousand thousands of pounds, millions, for the purpose of expatriating the bone and sinew of our country. Before this Vote passes, I take leave to protest against the whole system of emigrating the working classes. You have ample lands in this country for the wants of the whole population. You have got, I believe I am right in saying, nearly two acres of land for every individual of the population of the United Kingdom. It is all very well complaining of the congestion of the population, but I hold you have no right to make such complaints as long as you have your deer forests and your extensive rabbit warrens, and your extensive fox covers. It is, then, nonsense to talk of migrating and emigrating the population. What you ought to do is not to emigrate the working classes who produce the wealth of the country, but those who have no visible means of existence. The sooner the Government propose to emigrate whole shiploads of Dukes and Marquesses the better will it be for all concerned.


We are speaking of the Highland crofters and not of the slums of London, and we have a right to press on the Government that they should consider in the Committee proposed the question of migration from one part of Scotland to another. If the Government consider the whole cost of emigrating a family—the cost to them, the cost to the Government of Canada, and the amount to be raised by private subscription—they will see that it would be sufficient to cover the cost of migration from one part of Scotland to another, which would do more good than emigration. I think this is a question that ought to be referred to the Committee, and I would further say that if the Committee have no power to consider such a matter it will fail to fulfil what should be one of its principal objects.


The right hon. Gentleman opposite has stated that the cost of emigration per family would be £121.


It is obvious the Government must exercise caution in the number sent out, so as to keep within the money at their disposal, and I spoke of the emigration of 40 families.


Then, in that case, if you have £2,000 in subscriptions, you are asking for too much, as the sum you say you need would have a large surplus. That sum, amounting to £12,000, would emigrate 70 families, at £171 per family, which is £50 more than you say is necessary per family. It is unwise, as has been shown in many instances, to have more than is wanted, and it is found that excesses are often applied to other purposes than were intended.


In the case of a Civil Service Vote the amount cannot be transferred to another head of expenditure, but must, if in excess, simply be returned to the Exchequer.


I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman that if he asked for £3,900 only, that sum, in addition to the subscribed £2,000, would be more than is needed for the 40 families spoken of; and I only ask for an undertaking that any surplus shall not be applied to some other purpose. I would also suggest that the revival of the Committee of last year, if it is intended to deal with the subjects of emigration and migration, would be of more utility than the Committee now suggested. In fact, the cause of the Highland crofters would be simply lost if referred to the Committee proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which would prove to be only a convenient way of shunting a question which certain Members of the Government, especially political economists like the Chancellor of the Exchequer, are not at all enamoured of.

MR. CALDWELL (St. Rollox)

I desire to point out that the population of the congested districts of the Western Highlands is put down at 27,000; and taking the number of families to be emigrated at 70, with an averge of five per family, the total number of persons emigrated would be only 350, which would not provide for the removal of the natural increase of the population, so that the district would in the future continue to be quite as much congested as it is now. Emigration on a large scale might do much to remedy the congestion now complained of, especially if it went beyond the natural increase of the population; but the proposal as it now stands would practically leave the state of things in the Highlands pretty much as at present.

*DR. MACDONALD (ROSS and Cromarty)

I should like to know whether the £2,000 spoken of has been provided?


Yes; I stated so earlier in the evening.

Vote agreed to.