§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. Hewins)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
There has been a great deal of interest manifested in this Bill, and perhaps I should explain briefly how it stands in relation to the policy which it is proposed to adopt. Even before the War it was beginning to be recognised that the methods hitherto employed in connection with emigration from the United Kingdom were susceptible of very great improvement. We had the Emigrants' Information Office, which had been in existence for a number of years and had performed most valuable service, to which I should like to pay a tribute, in giving information to those desirous of emigrating, but its functions were purely those of furnishing information, and it had no executive or administrative powers. There is a great deal of statistical information available which enables us to trace the directions in which emigration 1134 takes place. That has been examined and studied very considerably. Facts and figures as to the volume of immigration into and emigration from the United Kingdom are set forth, but emigration has grown up in this country in a very unregulated manner. There has not been, strictly speaking, any policy about it, and people have come and gone very much as they liked and without reference to what must be a question of fundamental importance in the future, namely, the man-power of the United Kingdom and the Empire. We are considering all kinds of measures of reconstruction for after the War, but I venture to think one of the most important of all questions to consider is the regulation and direction of the movement of the man-power of the Empire so as to get the best possible results from the point of view of the Empire as a whole. So far emigration has been left unregulated, and it might well happen, and, in fact, did happen, that the men and women of those classes and ages which the overseas Dominions were most anxious to attract were the very ones which we could least of all afford to lose. There are, of course, two sides to the question. I suppose people have been emigrating from the United Kingdom ever since the days of Elizabeth.
§ Mr. HEWINS
Coming and going, yes, and with admirable results! It is quite obvious that the stream of emigration is to a certain extent likely to be kept up, partly from economic motives, partly from other and various motives, partly because people may not find it possible to live at home, as they would like, and partly from the adventurous spirit which founded our great communities over the seas. So that we may be perfectly certain that that emigration will remain. That is so, and the movement is one in which we have great obligations and great responsibilities. Some people may think that it would be better that emigration should be discouraged rather than encouraged. As a matter of fact, we cannot afford on behalf of the Empire to run in that direction, and, in view of the prospective stream of emigration, it is of the highest importance that British institutions and British methods should be available in this great matter. And that is why and where we should on general grounds encourage by advice. There is also the other side of the question. That is the side of the 1135 United Kingdom. I am sure hon. Members have given a good deal of consideration as to what is likely to be the position of affairs after the War. Before the War the strain of administrative and practical difficulties of the United Kingdom was exceedingly great. All these problems have received a new impetus by the War. At present we cannot measure what would be the exact nature of that pressure. The effect of the wastage of war on the general economic question, and on the labour position throughout the Empire, is bound to be of a very important character. For some time we have been considering this Bill, and hon. Members will realise, I think, that it is really quite impossible, in the interests of the United Kingdom and in the interests of the Empire, to leave the question of emigration in the entirely unregulated position in which it has been in the past. That is the origin of this Bill.
The question, fortunately, has been inquired into, by two thoroughly representative bodies, on whose advice we have depended. First of all, the whole subject of Imperial migration, one of the most important, was inquired into by the Dominion's Royal Commission, under the chairmanship of Lord D'Abernon. In its final report, which was issued in 1917, the Commission dealt at great length with the existing statistical and administrative position in regard to migration, and made recommendations in considerable detail as to the measures of reform which seemed to be required. These recommendations were based on inquiries made by the Commission, not only in the United Kingdom, but in all the self-governing Dominions, and therefore have a peculiar weight. The second representative body, to whose inquiries we are deeply indebted, is the Empire Settlement Committee, which was appointed last year, and sat under the chairmanship of Lord Tennyson, to inquire into the facilities offering to ex-Service men to settle in the Oversea Dominions after the War. That Committee endorsed, with slight variations, all the administrative reforms recommended by the Royal Commission, only differing from the latter as to the exact constitution of the authority to whose control the matter should be entrusted. We have had the reports of these two bodies for our consideration. In addition to the work which they have done, I should like to point out that we have had 1136 great and close consultation with all the separate Departments of State who are interested, from one standpoint or another in this emigration question, and the Bill, whose Second Reading I am now moving, is the result of these deliberations. We have given long and careful inquiry to every aspect of the subject, and we have gone as thoroughly as possible into every question with which the Bill deals. In its entirety the Bill may be said to be based upon the recommendations of these bodies, the Dominions Royal Commission and the Empire Settlement Committee. It has two main objects.
The first is to constitute a central authority which will have what has been shown at present to be lacking—certain executive powers in connection with emigration from the United Kingdom. Its second object is to control those who are actively occupied with emigration, and who in the past have been very little supervised—passage brokers, passage brokers' agents, and emigration societies. Perhaps it would be most convenient now if I were to deal seriatum with the Clauses of the Bill. The first Clause provides for the constitution of an authority to be called the Central Emigration Authority. After much consideration it has been decided that this authority should be set up in accordance with Regulations to be made by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The Clause does not specifically lay down the composition of the authority, but it is intended substantially to follow the recommendations made by the Empire Settlement Committee last year—that is to say, the new authority will be constituted as a Board of perhaps seventeen or eighteen members. It is proposed that the Secretary of State for the Colonies shall be the chairman, and that a vice-chairman shall be appointed who will be able to give his whole time to the work, and that the other members shall be representative of the various Government Departments in the United Kingdom interested in emigration matters. It is also proposed that on the authority there will he the four High Commissioners of the self-governing Dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa, the two Agents-General representing respectively the Canadian Provinces and the Australian States, and a limited number of unofficial members, of whom one or more shall be ladies. The authority 1137 will thus represent all parts of the Empire more particularly concerned in emigration.
Clause 2 deals with the main functions which it is proposed to confer upon the authority. The first duty specified is to collect information in relation to emigration and to publish and distribute information in such a way as to make it available to intending emigrants. This work will be substantially that already performed by the Emigrants' Information Office, whoso functions will be taken over by the new authority. The second duty is to advise and assist intending emigrants, and in particular such past or present members of the Naval, Military and Air Forces, their wives, widows, and dependants who may desire to emigrate after the War to our Overseas Dominions.
The reason for the special reference to ex-Service men is obvious and it is quite unnecessary to dilate upon it. I have used the phrase in the Bill "advise and assist." It is purposely left wide. It is intended that the authorities shall have a wide discretion and a large opportunity for consideration in the different schemes which have to be considered. I do not think we could define the nature of the assistance very exactly at present, because when the authority is set up I trust it will make a survey of the whole problem, and we want to have everything done on the broadest lines of statesmanship with the least possible expense and friction. The authority so set up is to act in accordance with recommendations made by the Secretary of State for the purpose. Clearly these recommendations will be very important. They will raise questions of policy, and we think it is clearly desirable, in view of their importance, that they should be laid before both Houses of Parliament. The third duty of the authority is to give advice and assistance to the various Government Departments in the United Kingdom which are specially concerned with emigration. In this capacity the authority will be able to advise the Board of Trade on matters such as the accommodation on emigrant ships and the health of emigrants during the voyage. It will be able to assist the Local Government Board in connection with the emigration of Poor Law children and the Home Office as to the emigration of children from industrial and reformatory schools.
Clauses 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 give the central authority administrative functions in con- 1138 nection with passage brokers and those mainly concerned with the selling of passages to intending emigrants. Hitherto such control as has existed has been exercised under the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Acts and has been extremely limited in character. Passage brokers have been licensed annually by certain local authorities and are required to enter into a bond to the Crown in the sum of £1,000. Passage brokers' agents have not been licensed at all. It has only been necessary for their appointments to be countersigned by an emigration officer of the Board of Trade, for lists of agents to be posted in a conspicuous place in the broker's office, and for copies of these lists to be furnished monthly to the Board of Trade. Under the Bill every passage broker will have to be licensed by the central emigration authority, and the appointment of every passage broker's agent will have to be approved by the authority. The licences will be granted and the appointments approved only after such inquiry as the authority thinks fit. It is proposed that the bond into which passage brokers must enter shall be increased to £2,500, while a fee not exceeding £5 is required in respect of each appointment of a passage broker's agent. Under Clause 7 the authority has power after inquiry to order the licence of any passage broker or the appointment of any passage broker's agent to be cancelled or suspended.
Clauses 8 and 9 contain further restrictions on passage brokers and their agents which are designed to assist the emigrant. Clause 8 forbids a broker or agent to receive a commission or other remuneration from an intending emigrant, and also gives the authority power to require brokers and agents to exhibit in their place of business any publications, warnings, or notices which the authority may issue. Clause 9, amongst other things, empowers the authority to make regulations controlling the distribution of emigration literature relating to any country or place outside the British Empire which the authority may think undesirable as a field for emigration. The same Clause empowers the authority to obtain information from brokers and agents as to any commission which they may receive on account of the provision of passages to emigrants. This I am sure the House will realise is a very valuable power. Clause 10 deals with the control of emigration societies, and provides that 1139 no person or society shall carry on any propaganda in connection with emigration or assistance to intending emigrants without the approval of the central emigration authority. This power is clearly necessary as a corollary to the provisions controlling the work of passage brokers and passage brokers' agents. The remaining Clauses of the Bill do not call for special notice, as they are mainly supplementary to the previous Clauses. It should, however, be noted that it is proposed to repeal various sections of the Merchant Shipping Acts of 1894 and 1906. This course has been adopted so that the measures of control which are now thought necessary should be clearly set out in a single Act. While the proposed legislation involves, of course, the formation of a new central office in London, it is not contemplated to set up elaborate new machinery in other parts of the United Kingdom. On the contrary, it is intended, and I think it is practicable, to make all possible use of existing machinery, such as the employment exchanges of the Ministry of Labour and local authorities generally. On the other hand the creation of a central emigration authority will naturally bring with it the disappearance as a separate entity of the Emigrants' Information Office, and it would not be fitting to omit a reference to the utility of that office in the past and the value of the work done by its managing committee. Its scope being limited by its lack of administrative functions, its duties have been practically confined to the preparation and distribution of information. But a House of Commons Select Committee reported in 1891 thatprobably no more valuable and efficient work was ever done at so small a cost to the public, and that this satisfactory result is mainly due to the businesslike character and the direction and philanthropic spirit which animates its members.This testimony, given nearly thirty years ago, applies equally to the work carried on since that time by the managing committee under its successive chairmen.
These are the outlines of the Bill. We have to regard the whole question as part of the reconstructive policy which will be necessary to deal with problems which have been brought upon us by the War. Apart from that there was a strong case for bringing the whole subject of emigration under closer direction, so that we could make it minister more directly to the stability and prosperity of the United 1140 Kingdom and the Empire. But I am of opinion that, in view of the very grave problems concerning man-power which will have to be considered after the War, it will be almost hopeless to try to arrive at a correct solution without an authority such as I have described. The authority by its very constitution will be in the closest possible touch with the experience and the knowledge of several of the great Departments of State. In that way it will be able to draw upon all the experience of the country for dealing with the problems which arise. Then we have to keep closely in view that we can no longer act as though we were a separate isolated community in the United Kingdom, arranging for the convenience and prosperity of such people as might emigrate wherever they want to emigrate in other parts of the world being outside our purview. It is, on the contrary, the centre of a great aggregation of communities, representing all kinds of social organisations, and one of the main objects we have to keep in view in this, as in all other questions, is to see that the steps we adopt will bring the British Empire into closer cohesion, and that those young nations and condominions, which have rendered most magnificent service together in the War, will be able to cooperate more together, and with us, in economising and making the best possible use of the man-power of the Empire after the War.
§ Mr. L. JONES
The Under-Secretary for the Colonies has made a speech of exceedingly great interest, and I am sure he will agree with me that it is a speech which raises a subject of the very greatest importance, and of surprisingly great importance considering the way in which the Bill has been brought before the House. It was put down unexpectedly. We were not certain whether the House was going to sit on Friday, and the programme for Friday was left uncertain until Wednesday. Then we find this very important Bill being brought forward in this empty House. I think it is impossible to overstate the importance of this Bill to the future development of the British Empire and the future movements of British people throughout the world. My hon. Friend has made a very large claim in this Bill. He claims for the Government of this country, through this body which is about to be set up, the power to take full control of the movements of people from this country to our Colonies. I am not 1141 quite sure whether the same body is going to control the movements of those emigrants who wish to go outside the British Empire and not to any of our Colonies. That is a point which was left vaguely in his speech, and on which I should like enlightenment. He tells us that this Bill is part of a large scheme for the control of the man-power of this country. It is quite true that during the War the people of this country have had to submit to control by Government Departments of their freedom of action, but my hon. Friend makes a great mistake if he thinks that the people of this country are prepared after the War to submit to the same control at the hands of the Government that they have had to endure during recent years. The strong pressure of the War has made us willing to put up with all the inconvenience and failings of Government control, but if he thinks that the result of our experience during the War is that this country desires to substitute Government control for the old freedom of action which has been enjoyed by the British people, I can assure him that the Government are living in a fool's paradise in this matter. The country, so far as I know it, is submitting unwillingly to all these restrictions.
I am aware that the hon. Gentleman calls it advice and assistance, but his assistance involves great restrictions of liberty. He has paid a well-deserved tribute to the work of the Emigrants' Information Office. I happen to know, from investigations I have made and the help I have received from it, that the Emigrants' Information Office has for a long period rendered every possible assistance to people in the way of statistical and other information, the demands for emigrants in different parts of the world, and explanations as to the conditions of life in those parts of the world; and they have issued publications which give authentic information as against those too favourable views which are put forward by districts which, being short of population, desire to attract people. The Emigrants' Information Office has given reliable, authentic, and thorough information as to the conditions of population and the conditions of life in most parts of the world to which the emigrants wish to go. That body is to be brushed on one side. Its work, admirable and up-to-date, as the hon. Gentleman says, its first-rate work, is going to be destroyed and a new body, without experience, is to take its place. I am well aware that in making 1142 progress old stepping-stones have to be destroyed sometimes, but my hon. Friend makes a bad start with his new organisation when the first thing he does is to scrap the admirable work of the Emigrants' Information Office. What is his criticism of that Office? That it has no executive power. I quite agree. But it has not been regarded as part of the duty of the Government of this country to control the movements of its citizens outside this country.
The hon. Member used a somewhat ominous phrase. He talked of the possibility of a conflict of interests between the Mother Country and the Colonies.
§ Mr. JONES
I do not wish to misrepresent the hon. Member, but he implied that there might be a conflict of interests in that the Colonies might desire to have those people from this country who are the very people we wish to retain in this country. I did not take down his words, but he used some phrase of that kind. At any rate, that is a situation which is quite likely to arise. Desirable emigrants are equally desirable as immigrants, and the country which loses this class of people loses an asset. I think one of the difficulties about the colonising of the Empire is that Australia, Canada, and other parts want the class of people who can very ill be spared from this country. I submit that the way to prevent desirable persons from leaving the country and from turning themselves into emigrants is to make the conditions of life such that people would rather desire to remain in a. country and flock to it than to go away from it. The whole story of Irish emigration lies in those words. People have left Ireland because the conditions of life in Ireland have been such that they have not cared to stay there. Ireland is bereft of young people, because the strong young people have gone to all parts of the world where they have found greater scope and opportunities than they had in their own country. There is the disastrous story of Ireland. There is no need for the Government to set up a new Department to assist emigration from Ireland. Let them solve the problem of making the condition of Ireland such that the people of Ireland will want to stay there rather than emigrate.
The hon. Gentleman glories in the British Empire. Does he not realise that 1143 the wealth and strength of that Empire has been in the fact that the British people were free to go wherever they chose, free of Government interference. They have been free to go wherever they like and to adapt themselves to the new conditions of the places where they have settled and to build up there new conditions and new governments somewhat on the lines of the old Government at home. That is really the history of the British Empire. It is its strength and glory, and I look with suspicion on this new proposal, savouring too much of Continental methods, of German methods and notions of colonising. Are you going to say to our people, "Do you want to leave this country. You ought not to go; there is work at home. If you insist upon going, we shall assist you. We shall give you a passage not to where you want to go, where you are not required, but to some other place which is in greater need of you. There is Australia which would like to have you." And if the man says "I prefer to go to the United States," are you going to stop him? The first Clause of this Bill sets up the new central emigration authority. This is another instance of the centralising tendency of the Government at the present time, a tendency which I watch with a great anxiety and suspicion. Over and over again the hon. Gentleman used the phrase, "We are going to make the best use of the resources of this country." It is well that the people of this country should make the best use, but I deny that the Government of the country will make the best use. A Government Department is not the way to get the best out of people. That heresy runs through the whole of the hon. Gentleman's speech.
The new authority is to advise and assist intending emigrants. The hon. Gentleman explained that the word "assist" was a wide word. It covers everything apparently. Are they going to provide funds for the emigration of people to different parts of the world? Is it confined to finding funds for emigrating people to British Colonies, or does it include emigrating people to friendly countries like the United States, or the French Colonies, or our Allies, like Japan, or to China? Is the new Government Department going in any way to assist persons who do not wish to go to one of our Colonies, but do wish to go to 1144 some distant part of the world? I do not think that my hon. Friend can answer that question, but it is a very vital one. If assistance means only assisting people to go to parts of the British Empire, it is establishing a preference in the direction of the stream of emigration which I regard with apprehension. I have always regarded the perfect freedom of movement into and out of the British Empire as one of its greatest assets. If you are going to employ Government funds to turn the free stream of movement from foreign countries, where our people can carry British ideas with them, and give assisted passages only to selected British Colonies, the Government will be doing not a good but a very bad thing. I would press the hon. Gentleman, to tell us, Is the assistance to be limited to assisting people to go to different parts of the Empire, and, if so, docs he not see that he is raising difficulties with other countries who may desire to attract British emigration to themselves, and is it desirable, especially at the present time, to set up what may conceivably be a cause of friction between ourselves and friendly countries? Is the form of assistance to be confined to the paying of passages, or to assist in the paying of passages, and is this assistance to be given to all who desire it, or are you going to say to one man, "We do not think it is desirable that you should go. We want you here at home." While to another man you would say, "We shall be glad to send you to Canada or Australia or New Zealand"? When you embark on this matter of giving assistance and making a selection, and these other executive functions, as against the giving of information, all these difficulties arise, and many of them will be quite serious when it comes to a matter of practice. If cotton operatives desire to emigrate, are the Government going to assist them or restrict them? Are you going to do with the cotton industry what the French Government did with the Huguenots— drive them out to other countries to carry their industry with them? This assisted emigration does carry with it all those objections. This Bill was quite new to me when I came down to the House to-day. I had not expected it and had not realised what grave issues were raised, but as it has come on quite unexpectedly I venture to present to the House my thoughts as they occur to me.
1145 The greater part of the Bill is taken up with various prohibitions and restrictions. There is a prohibition on the sale of steerage passages except by licensed passage brokers. The whole issue of these steerage tickets is to be taken over by this Government Department. I do not deny that there have been considerable evils in connection with the advertising and the issue of these tickets, but surely it is a very strong step for the Government to prohibit the issue of tickets except by their licensed brokers. There is no interference with the movement of people who pay their own fares, provided that they go first or second class. The interference is to be limited to those for whom the Government think that they can think more profitably than these people can think for themselves. There is a startling provision in Clause 9, that the issue of literature about the Colonies is to be prevented. It says:A passage broker shall not issue, or otherwise bring to the notice of any intending emigrant to any country or place to which this Section applies.That is, I presume, exclusively the British Empire. No publishing agent may issue an unauthorised publication in regard to any part of the British Empire. That surely is a sweeping power. I am familiar with the rosy pictures of our Colonies which have been painted by ingenious persons out there, who depict the great advantages of going to Australia or South Africa. So attractive are these advertisements that many times I have been almost tempted to remove bag and baggage to the countries they describe. These announcements are exceedingly attractive, but I have been to some of those places, and I should not have described them in quite the same terms as do the bills and leaflets which are issued on behalf of the Governments of those countries. But while I say that I think it is a very strong step to curb the imagination of our colonists in this direction, I cannot think that it is really necessary; and, after all, there is a remedy against persons who, by false information or false descriptions, cause personal expense and loss to other people. By this Bill you take power of a restrictive character, and it is that, unless license or sanction is given by the Government Department, people are not to enter upon this kind of propaganda. That seems to me to be a great inroad upon the freedom of the people of this country, and, 1146 whatever else you may do in this Bill, I am quite confident that the hon. Gentleman will have to modify that Clause of his Bill.
Then I come to Clause 10, which says that no society at home shall publish any literature or work of propaganda for the purpose of promoting emigration—again, I suppose, to the British Colonies. And here criticism becomes rather important. Is my hon. Friend going to prevent a society from inviting emigrants to go to the United States? Clause 10 provides that a person or association is not to publish any literature, or to carry on any work of propaganda, for the purpose of promoting emigration, unless the person or society or association complies with the Regulations laid down by the authority. Does that really mean that no society in this country is to be allowed to invite people to the Western States of America, for example, where people could open up a successful life if good workers? Is this new authority to prohibit that from being done in the case of the Western States or other countries? If that is so, is not that an interference not only with the freedom of the people of this country, but an entrenching upon the freedom of other countries, in regard to what has already been permitted in this land—a privilege which I think has been very advantageously bestowed under the freedom allowed in this country? We do not want to prevent free movement in and out of the Empire. By all means furnish information and facilities, but I am bound to say that while the subject is one which requires explanation— and, indeed, consideration—still I think that my hon. Friend has not made out a good case for the tremendous powers proposed to be given by this Bill, which would appear to be part of a general scheme of the Government to take control of the manpower of the country and control the movements of the people. I would point out that whatever restrictions the people are willing to accept during the War, and that are helpful to the War, they are not going to allow the state of affairs necessary during war to govern their lives when peace comes. When the War is won, or when the War is over, the people, while thankful for the help given in the emergency of this War, will insist upon the right to manage their own affairs and their own lives in their own way, and the best thing you can do is to leave them alone and trouble them no further.
§ Mr. C. HARMSWORTH
My right hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. L. Jones) addressed himself to the question of the movement of the people in and out of the Empire, and he made some observations, also, on the drastic Clauses of this Bill with regard to the publication of literature relating to emigration. I am aware, as he is, that a good deal of the emigration literature published in this country errs on the side of gross exaggeration. I have myself visited almost every part of the British Empire, and I can well see that there are parts of that Empire to which it would be in the interests of the people themselves that emigration should not be promoted. The chief fault in the speech of the Under-Secretary of State—and it is the first occasion in this House that I feel inclined to make the criticism—is that it was unduly short. As my right hon. Friend opposite has said, this very important Bill—and it is a measure which in ordinary times we should regard with some enmity—is brought forward in a thin House on a Friday. I do not in the least complain of that, but I think the Bill has not been sufficiently notified to the House as a very important measure. I am not, however, complaining of that, because in these times important measures must be got through somehow or another, even though there be a thin attendance in the House. This is, indeed, a very important measure, and I wish that the Under-Secretary had trespassed upon our patience some time longer, and had explained to us some of its more important Clauses. A considerable portion of the Bill deals with passage, passage brokers, brokers' agents, and people of that kind. My hon. Friend might have told us what the abuses are against which this Bill is directed. I am aware that there are great abuses. We now leave emigration to people wholly uncontrolled, who are making their livelihood by emigrating people, and it stands to reason, I think, that abuses are likely to arise. I personally lack information on that subject, and I should have been very grateful if my hon. Friend had informed us in regard to it. Perhaps when he comes to reply he will deal with it at more length. There are some parts of the Empire to which white people have been sent which are, in point of fact, from their climate, and perhaps for other reasons, wholly unsuited to white civilisation and the growth of white communities. But there, again, I am not sure whether I 1148 gathered from my hon. Friend that this bureau is to have absolute power to direct the stream of emigration in whatsoever direction it pleases. If they have that power, although I should like to see it exercised in some instances, it is obviously a power which requires great tact and judgment in its exercise, because, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Leif Jones) has pointed out, it will be quite easy to excite the resentment of some of our own colonial Governments, or, again, of the Governments of countries friendly and at present in alliance with ours. From what I have seen of our people in distant parts of our Empire I am disposed to think that my hon. Friend will be able to make out a good case for some kind of centralised control of emigration. I should like to hear him refer, if he will, to the subject raised by my right hon. Friend as to whether this bureau will have power to prevent people from migrating from this country. I do not suppose they would have a direct power of that kind, but they may acquire it in the course of their administration. That is a power which this House would be very reluctant indeed to give to any authority. Personally— I hope I shall not be out of order in referring to it— I should like to think that, instead of making elaborate plans for the emigration of people from this country, we were making generous plans for the colonisation of this country. I am afraid if I were to dilate on that, Mr. Speaker, you would put me out of order, but that would be my ambition, for, although I have seen our people farming and carrying on their avocations in every one of the white colonies of the Crown, I have seen no country in the Empire, and God forbid that I should disparage any of them, that offers so good a prospect of livelihood and comfort as this country would if it were developed on the lines which some of us hope will be taken in hand by this Government before the end of the War.
§ Mr. R. McNEILL
Like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rushcliffe, I came down to the House without having made any proper study of the Bill, and as I listened to the right hon. Gentleman I was filled with a growing alarm as to the terrible consequences that are going to result to the liberties of the people of this country through the action of my right hon. Friend opposite in carrying through the House a Bill under which any one of us might be sent 1149 to Botany Bay. It seemed that the horrors of transportation were to be revived and none of us were to go to any part of the world without getting the sanction of my hon. Friend opposite, and the liberties of the country were to be a thing of the past. I quite agree in one respect with my right hon. Friend. I am as opposed as any person in this House can be to the idea of prolonging after the War the restrictions upon our liberties which we have willingly put up with during the War and for the sake of winning the War, and for no other reason. I look forward to the complete restoration of all the liberties we have enjoyed in the past. That is the state of mind to which I was driven with great perturbation while listening to the right hon. Gentleman, but I am very largely reassured, and I have reassured myself by a very simple process —by the process of looking at the Bill. The hon. Gentleman opposite who has just spoken was evidently taken by surprise even more completely than the right hon. Gentleman below me, or myself, for ho evidently thought my hon. Friend was asking leave to introduce a Bill instead of moving the Second Reading. He asked my hon. Friend if he had this power or that power, which he could have ascertained for himself by looking at the Bill. I want to see where these terrible invasions of our liberties are to come from which have so perturbed the right hon. Gentleman. I look at Clause 2, which lays down the actual powers of the central authority which is such a bogey. First of all, they are to acquire information. Is that any very real and serious invasion of the liberties of this country? Does the power to acquire information justify the eloquent fears of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rushcliffe?
§ Mr. McNEILL
That does not alter the case in the least, but I am glad now to learn that my right hon. Friend is not afraid of this authority collecting information. Is he afraid of them having the power to advise and assist? Now we have it! It is the power to advise and assist which is the real centre of the destruction of the liberties of the country. The third power of this authority is to give advice and assistance to the Board of Trade and 1150 other Government Departments. I do not suppose the right hon. Gentleman would have any great objection to that. I do not suppose he will say it is a very dangerous thing for one Government Department to give advice and assistance to another. Then we arrive by a process of exhaustion at the real source of the right hon. Gentleman's fear. He did not tell us, though the general tone of his speech was to cause very grave disquiet among those who heard it and who value our liberties as much as himself. It is this power to advise and assist intending emigrants. I think myself it it a most beneficial power for a central Government authority to get. We have had in the past far too much fraud and misguidance of people who want to leave this country for different parts of the world—a great number of people who have committed themselves and all they have to setting up life in some new country without that guidance, assistance, or advice which they, I think, have a right to expect from some duly authorised authority in this country. I quite agree the work has been done by voluntary societies in past, and I dare say in many cases you may rely on voluntary societies doing it in the future. But the Government has no control over these societies. They are very likely to increase in scope and operations after the War. I do not know whether there are not many societies engaged in this work who have a very good way of looking after their own interests rather than than those of the people they assist. And the very limited powers, I am inclined to think the too limited powers, this central authority is going to possess will be a very great advantage to people in this country who wish to start life in different parts of the world.
I presume it is the assistance and not the advice that the right hon. Gentleman fears. He fears, and the fear may be entertained by others, that the use of this authority is to compel British subjects, if they want to leave this country, to go to some particular part of the world. I am not at the moment dealing with the fear of the right hon. Gentleman that they may be prevented from going, say, to the Western States of America. Where he gets the power to prohibit from this Bill I cannot imagine. I can see no trace of it. There is a power of influence undoubtedly, and I think that power of influence is most beneficial. What happens in the actual working of these things is this: Very often the people who 1151 wish to emigrate are extremely ignorant of the conditions obtaining in different parts of the world—Western Canada, Western America, New Zealand, or South America. They are all mere names to a great many people. Those who are ordinarily very well informed know comparatively little about the conditions of life in the Argentine, Patagonia, New Zealand, the Western States of America, or Canada, and still less do they know whether the particular conditions in any particular part of the world offer an opening to their particular abilities, or whether it is possible to make a start in that particular case with their amount of capital.
That is the sort of direction and information for which I think we should have a central Government bureau, whose business it should be to give that information and advice, so that if a man has decided to emigrate—we will say he is a blacksmith, and has a small amount of capital—he goes to the Government bureau and says, "I see an advertisement that you can get a splendid stretch of fine country in the Argentine, where you can fatten bullocks and send home tinned beef to this country. Do you advise me to go there?" Of course, he finds out that the conditions would be absolutely ruinous to him. A large capital is required, and everything would be against him. The bureau may say, "We know Montreal, Wellington, Sydney, or wherever the case may be; there are openings for men of your trade with your amount of capital, and we should strongly recommend you, as you want to go to the Colonies, to go to one of the places we have named." There is nothing there except assistance, help, and advice. There is no direction. If that man says, "No; I am not going to any of the places you advise me to go to. I prefer to raise bullocks in Patagonia"—if he chooses to go there to his own ruin, he cannot be prevented. But, at any rate, he will have the opportunity of learning from the Government where he is most likely to succeed, and that is what I think the British emigrating citizen has a right to look to from the Government. He will get that in this case, and he will get nothing else.
So far as I can see in this Bill, to talk about any enforcing of emigration in any one direction, still less of preventing people going where they want to go, is all moonshine. There is nothing in the Bill. 1152 [An Hon. Member: "Clause 9!"] I have looked at Clause 9 and also Clause 10. With regard to Clause 10, I am not certain that I entirely disagree with the right hon. Gentleman, but with regard to Clause 9 I certainly do. Clause 9 is entirely limited to what passage brokers may do, and all the Sub-sections of that Clause are restrictions on the operations of passage brokers or their agents. I think it is quite right that these people should not be allowed to mislead, as they too often have in the past, intending emigrants by rosy-coloured pictures of parts of the world about which the emigrants know nothing, and without any discrimination as to the particular circumstances of the individual. Numbers of people have been led—I will not say by actual fraud, although I know there are cases of fraud—to emigrate under such circumstances. This Clause says that a Government Department is going to make itself responsible for the giving of information which will be accurate, and will not allow other people to come in who are interested in getting people to go to different parts of the world for no other reason, perhaps, than that a line of ships is going there. I think it is very desirable that a stop should be put to that.
Clause 10 is rather different. It does impose limitations upon societies or associations of persons, and I am inclined to think that that does go unnecessarily far. I think it is quite possible there might be societies or associations of persons publishing books about different parts of the world which might not be directly intended to promote emigration at all, and it is quite possible that that Clause might make it almost impossible to publish without sanction books about travel or giving descriptions of various parts of the world. Therefore, all I say at the present moment is that if an Amendment to that Clause is put down, it is one to which I shall listen with interest, and I think it is quite possible that the Government might feel it was right to make some modification of that Clause. But that is a very different thing indeed from the wholesale attack upon the Bill made just now by my right hon. Friend, although he admitted he did it on a very cursory study of the Bill. For my own part, so far from agreeing with him that the Bill is such as he described it, being quite as great a lover of liberty as he himself is, I shall be pleased to give it my support.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken states that this Bill is really a Bill to set up an information bureau. If that is the whole purpose of this Bill, this is really a terrific mountain to produce so small a result, and I do feel very substantial issues are raised in this Bill. It does seem to me rather a matter of comment that the Second Reading should be taken during the rather languid Debate of a Friday afternoon. I have read the Bill, not as carefully and as closely as I shall do, and I also listened to the speech of the Under-Secretary, and I am bound to say I am still left largely in the dark as to what this Bill really does mean, and how wide and how far-reaching its powers are going to be. I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. C. Harms-worth) when he stated that the Undersecretary ought to have given us more definite and precise information as to the powers the Government are going to have under this proposed legislation. It does seem to me to be a further instalment in the new bureaucracy, and I take, as an example of that, the Clause to which reference has been made—Clause 10. That Clause states:A person, or a society or association of persons (by whatever name called) shall not publish any literature or carry on any work or propaganda for the purpose of or in connection with the promotion of emigration or the furnishing of information or assistance to intending emigrants, unless the person, society or associationcomplies with certain conditions. Take the one sentence about the "furnishing of information or assistance to intending emigrants." Those who know about labour conditions in Australia might write a book, or a tract or pamphlet, about those conditions, and that might be held to be giving information to intending emigrants and have to be submitted to a kind of Press Bureau before publication. The powers are very wide and very vague. I understand from the Under-Secretary that practically the whole of this authority is going to be governed by Regulations drafted and passed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. What we all would like to know, including even the last speaker, is how wide those Regulations are going to be and what points are going to be covered by the Regulations? I am not quite sure what will happen once the Bill is passed and these vague powers have been conferred on the Department. For example, how far will the Department have power to restrict or discourage emigration; how far is the Department to 1154 have power to try to divert the stream of emigration from one Colony to another Colony; what means it is going to employ to that end; will any restriction or discouragement operate in exactly the same way as between rich and poor; will the man who has money be free to go anywhere—
§ Mr. ANDERSON
I was putting that point to the Under-Secretary with the object of getting the fullest possible information in regard to the matter. The whole operation of this Bill will apply not to the case of people who are well off, but to the case of those who are poor and upon whom pressure can be brought to induce them to go to one place in preference to another or indeed to stay at home altogether. It is necessary that we should have the fullest information as to how wide the powers are to be and how they will be applied. Frankly, I do not in the least object to a reliable bureau which is to supply accurate information to those who intend to go abroad. In many ways that would be a good thing. I entirely agree with those who have said that certain of the least desirable passage brokers have resorted to very undesirable practices. I am afraid that they have held out false hopes to intending emigrants, who have been misled by allurements into going to certain countries. I do not think that any passage broker ought to be allowed to hold out elusive hopes to emigrants. Anything that is done to deal with that kind of thing is entirely right and desirable and I should give it my hearty support. Is this Bill intended to encourage emigration? Is it intended to give financial encouragement to fit men to leave this country and go to other countries? That raises in itself a very big issue. The Under-Secretary said this was an instalment in reconstruction. If that is so, it is beginning at the wrong end. It is not a wise experiment in reconstruction to send our best and most adventurous blood out of the country when we shall be needing every fit man after the War is over. Who are the men who will go away under these conditions? We shall have at home, when this War is over, many maimed and many unfit men. The country will have a very real responsibility towards them to see that they get a chance, and it 1155 will have to do the best possible for them. Those unfit men are not the men who will emigrate. The men who will go away will be the very best men, the fittest men. If this Bill is intended to encourage them to go away, then I say that it is a wrong thing to do.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
I am glad the Undersecretary agrees with that. I do not agree that we should be out of order in putting an alternative to the policy of encouraging emigration. Where the Government ought to begin is by rebuilding life at home and improving the conditions of life at home. Let the Colonies, by all means, compete with the conditions at home, but let us also compete with the conditions in the Colonies. In regard to Ireland or Scotland—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That does not arise on this Bill. This is a small Bill setting up machinery for affording information and assistance in regard to emigration when it takes place—that is all.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
Perhaps I did go too far, and, if so, I apologise. This Bill sets up machinery by which certain things will be done. I take it that, amongst those things, will be the question whether men cannot be assisted financially and otherwise to leave this country. All I am putting against that is that we ought to create the best conditions at home in order to keep them here. However, I will leave that for the present. "When this Bill comes into Committee we ought to examine very carefully, Clause by Clause, the various provisions which are contained in it, and we ought to, and will, put down Amendments to meet the various dangers that may arise. If the Under-Secretary replies this afternoon I hope he will tell us more precisely than he has yet done what are the limits of the powers under this Bill, what exactly they will be, and what precisely they will not be. If we knew that and knew that the Bill was merely intended to set up a bureau to give reliable information to intending emigrants, not one of us would have the slightest opposition to offer to it.
§ Mr. HOLT
I should like to try to throw a little more light on this Bill. The first two Clauses deal with the establishment of a central emigration authority which is to give information. I do not 1156 believe very much in that. I believe it is a waste of public money, like so many other of the forms of reconstruction to which this Government is attaching itself, which seem more designed to find places for persons than to be of useful service to the public. Personally I do not believe in assisting emigration. It is a very absurd thing. I have constantly been asked to-assist people to emigrate or immigrate, and have nearly always found they were people who said they wished to go from a place where they had no friends to another place where they had friends, but when I have inquired of the friends they have said that they did not desire the intending emigrant to be brought to the same place as themselves. As to the Clauses dealing with passage brokers and agents, I cannot understand why, having regard to the existing law, any one of them is necessary at all. May I draw the attention of the House to the law as it stands at present in regard to passage brokers and agents? The control of them is about as complete as anything which could possibly be required. The Statute says:Any person who sells or lets or agrees to sell or let, or is anywise concerned in the sale or letting of steerage passages in any ship proceeding from the British Islands to any place out of Europe not within the Mediterranean Sea shall for the purposes of this Part of this Act be a passage broker.Therefore a ticket can only be sold to a steerage passenger going to a place outside Europe by a passage broker. The Statute proceeds:(1)"A person shall not act directly or indirectly as a passage broker, unless he—(a) has entered, with two good and sufficient sureties approved by the emigration officer nearest to his place of business, into a joint and several bond to the Crown, in the sum of one thousand pounds; and (b) holds a licence for the time being in force to act as a passage broker.There are also provisions about the renewing of bonds. Another Section in the same Act provides:
- "(1) Application for a licence to act as passage broker shall be made to the licensing authority for the place in which the applicant has his place of business.
- (2) The licensing authority upon the applicant proving to their satisfaction that he,
- (a) has entered into and deposited one part of such bond as is required by this Act; and
- (b) has given to the Board of Trade at least fourteen days clear notice of his intention to apply for a licence
- may grant the licence and shall forthwith send to the Board of Trade notice of such Grant.
1157 (3) The licensing authority shall beߞ
I submit to the House that the provisions of the Statute are really quite ample to secure that the passenger broker shall be a respectable man. I really cannot see what the object of this Clause is, unless it be to take from the Board of Trade, which is a comparatively impartial authority, and transfer to the Colonial Office the duty of licensing passage brokers. That apparently is the only thing it does. There is another point with regard to the existing law which it is very necessary hon. Members should have clearly in mind if they are to understand the scope of the measure, and that is, what is the meaning of the words "steerage passengers." Unless they do know that they will not understand the effect of this Bill. The expression "steerage passenger" usually covers all passengers except cabin passengers.
- (a) in the administrative County of London, the Justices of the Peace at Petty Sessions;
- (b) elsewhere in England, the council of a county borough or county district;
- (c)in Scotland the sheriff; and
- (d) in Ireland, the Justices in Petty Sessions."Persons shall not be deemed to be cabin passengers unless
It will, therefore, be obvious that this Bill applies to every person who is not a first-class passenger. Let us see what is to happen. This Bill provides that
- (a) the space allotted to their exclusive use is in the proportion of at least thirty-six clear superficial feet to each Statute adult; and
- (b) they are messed throughout the voyage at the same table with the master or first officer of the ship; and
- (c) the fare contracted to be paid by them is in the proportion of every week of the length of the voyage.… of thirty shillings if the voyage of the ship is from the British Islands to a port south of the equator and twenty shillings if the voyage of the ship is from the British Islands to a point north of the equator."A person shall not at any place in the British Islands sell or agree to sell, or be in any wise concerned in the sale of, or represent directly or by implication that he is authorised or prepared to sell any steerage passage from any place in Europe to any country or place out of Europe, unless he is the holder of a passage broker's licence granted under this Act and for the time being in force.And later on in Clause 9 it is provided thatA passage broker or passage broker's agent(a) before issuing to. any person a ticket for a steerage passage to any country or place to which this Section applies shall give not less than seven clear days' notice to the authority, which notice shall specify 1158 correctly the name, present address and proposed destination of the person to whom it is proposed to issue the ticket.That goes far beyond emigration. A person is not to travel third class or second class to any place out of Europe unless his name, present address, and proposed destination has been supplied to the authorities seven days previously. They cannot visit friends in Australia or South America or North America unless they travel first class, without submitting to the authority seven days beforehand their names and addresses and other information, and apparently the authority may, if it chooses, forbid the issue of the ticket. In fact, a man may not travel at all unless he can scrape together enough money to pay a first-class fare. That seems to me an outrageous proposal to put before the people of this country on a Friday afternoon, or indeed on any other afternoon, and I hope the opposition to this Bill will therefore be pressed to a Division. There really is nothing in this Bill that is of any use to anybody that is otherwise than tyrannous, with the exception of the first two Clauses, which provide for the dissemination of- information. I do not believe the stories that gain currency with regard to grave abuses in connection with emigration. If people have been deceived at all, it has been by the glowing accounts given of the prospects offered by various British Colonies, and often given unintentionally. People have been informed there is a boom in trade in a certain Colony, and they have at once gone to that Colony in the hope of benefiting thereby. But in the natural course of events the boom is followed by a slump, and when that takes place the information regarding it is not circulated quite so quickly. The result is that very often the emigrant only arrives in the Colony when the slump has set in. He is disappointed, and says he has been defrauded. I cannot see how you can stop it. You cannot prevent people going out to a Colony in the belief they are going to make a fortune. You cannot prevent their hopes being falsified; you cannot prevent Colonies publishing unduly glowing pictures of the country in which they are interested. I submit that the law as it stands is quite ample for protection against reasonable abuse, and this Bill, in so far as it amends the existing law, will only lead to unnecessary expenditure and impose tyrannous regulations.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
I intervene in this Debate with, an advantage not possessed by some Members who have preceded me, because I have had considerable practical experience as regards emigration. I have listened attentively to the speeches which have been delivered, and I venture to suggest that the only one which has had any really practical bearing on the Bill itself is that which we have just heard from the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Holt). The hon. Member has put very clearly the case for the passenger agent. I am going to put the case in my capacity as chairman of an emigration board. I am not a passenger agent, but I have some responsibility in that direction as chairman of my board, which has been in existence twelve years, and which was formed to bring about legislation such as we have now proposed to us. As chairman of the board I come under the tenth Clause of the Bill—that is to say, I am chairman of a voluntary society. I may, therefore, claim to speak with some experience of the matters referred to in this Bill. I am afraid I shall have to detain the House rather long, but if I find there is any desire for me to stop I will sit down immediately, although i may have at the back of my mind some ideas which I think might well be listened to by the Committee. The hon. Gentleman who last spoke raised an important question with regard to steerage passengers. The Bill does not tell us what an emigrant is; it only refers to steerage passengers. But every steerage passenger is not an emigrant, neither is every emigrant a steerage passenger. The hon. Gentleman seemed to be under the impression that all emigrants were steerage passengers, but I have sent out a great number of emigrants as second-class passengers. Many, indeed, going out to the Dominions wish to travel as second-class passengers rather than as steerage passengers. I fully agree with the hon. Gentleman that everything is clone in these ships that can be done for the benefit of the emigrants. And I do not think that the new authority will have very much difficulty with the great shipping lines in regard to the accommodation provided for emigrants. That might have been the case several years ago, and, indeed, it was in the rush ten years ago, but it is not so now. Just to tell the House one little story about this. I was talking the matter over with the late Lord Strathcona, who, after all, 1160 was a great friend of emigration, and he said he had gone over in one of these so-called emigration ships, and all he could say was that the provision made was far better in the emigration ship than when he first went over to Canada many years ago. I also am sorry to see that this Bill has been brought in on a Friday, because the House is necessarily very thin on a Friday, and this is a most important Bill. It ought to have been brought in when at any rate a large number of Members were present to take part in the Debate, because it is one of the most important Bills that has been brought into the House during the War. It has a great bearing upon reconstruction after the War, as the right hon. Gentleman said in his opening remarks, which, unfortunately, I was not present to hear.
At any rate, although the House is thin, it gives some of us an opportunity of talking about this most important matter of emigration. I have tried for the last ten years to talk about emigration in this House. I have never yet had the opportunity to do so. I cannot say that it has always been the fault of myself, because on every possible occasion I have endeavoured to bring forward emigration. I remember twice putting it down as an Amendment to the Address, but when I went to Mr. Speaker and asked when I was going to be called, he said he did not propose to call me at all. I asked why, and was told, "You are the only person who has put down this Amendment, and we cannot possibly take up time discussing a matter which is purely personal." Then I tried to raise it on the Local Government Board Vote, but I was told, "This has nothing to do with the Local Government Board; you should put it down on the Colonial Office Vote." I had to sit down, after collecting a great many facts for what might have been a long speech. Disappointed, I rose again with my powder all dry, and hoping to fire off a very excellent oration on the Colonial Office Vote. Not at all. I was stopped, because I was told that this had nothing to do with the Colonial Office, but ought to be discussed on the Local Government Vote. As that had already gone by, there was not much chance on that occasion, it gives me considerable satisfaction to know that at last of all we have some opportunity of discussing this very important subject. I would like to congratulate the Government and the right hon. Gentleman that at last we are to have an emigration 1161 policy. We have gone on for years and years with no policy, but last of all we have really come to a point where we are outlining an emigration policy. I think that the Bill leaves much to be done. That goes without saying, and if I were to give expression to all the things which I think are left out of the Bill, I am afraid I should be talking the whole of the afternoon. It also leaves very much to the imagination. Everything will depend upon the Regulations. I think I am right there. Everything depends upon these Regulations, but if they are as I hope they will be, then, I think, the Bill will be a very excellent one, and when it becomes an Act it will be a great advantage not only to this country, but to the Empire. Much, however, will depend on whether the Bill is intended to be an Imperial movement or whether it is intended to be only an insular movement. I use the word "Imperial" here not in its ordinary official sense, but in the wider sense of Empire. Will the authority, by the nature of its composition, be an Empire authority or is it intended merely to deal with the question of migration from the domestic standpoint? That is the first question.
§ Mr. HEWINS
The hon. Gentleman was not here when I made my opening statement, but I explained all that.
§ 2.0 p.m.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
I am very sorry I missed that. It was not my fault, I assure the hon. Gentleman, I made great efforts to get here, but I had important engagements which I could not put off. Perhaps when he winds up the Debate he will answer that point again. We have had a great deal of delay in regard to bringing in this Bill. That is not the fault of the hon. Gentleman opposite, but we were told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on more than one occasion that the delay was owing to the necessity of consulting with the Overseas Dominions. I should like to know whether the Governments of the Overseas Dominions have been consulted, and whether their views are embodied in this Bill, because I fail, myself, to see any mention whatever of any Overseas opinion or anything to do with Overseas Governments. I was discussing the subject of this Bill with a very high official in regard to Canada only the other day, and I asked him what he thought of the Bill. "Oh," he said, "the Bill itself is a domestic Bill, I suppose—a Bill for this country." I do not see any 1162 mention of Canada, Australia, or any Oversea Dominion whatever in the Bill, but I will look through it again. Of course, the idea of the central authority is a very good one, but I should like to see that central authority include representatives of the Overseas Dominions.
§ Mr. HEWINS
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman again, but I dealt with all that in my statement.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
I should like not only to see it include the Overseas Dominions, but that they should have some kind of executive power. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman dealt with that point. I spoke to the High Commissioner for Australia on the subject, and he seemed to be very favourably disposed towards the idea, although he had not yet had time to discuss it. I should like to know, before the Debate is closed, whether the right hon. Gentleman is certain that in this Bill he has faithfully represented the wishes of all the Overseas Dominions. I have myself had a great deal of opportunity in the last twenty years, of which I have taken full advantage, to discuss the question of emigration. I think I have discussed it with every Overseas statesman of any importance who has been in this country for the last twenty years, and they were all of the opinion that it was necessary to set up some central authority in this country equally from the standpoints of defence, development, political economy, and, of course, since the Welt, from the standpoint of the discharged soldiers and sailors. I think that every Overseas statesman that I have had the privilege of discussing the matter with was agreed that a central authority of some kind should be set up in this country, but that that authority should be an Imperial authority in the sense in which I have outlined it this afternoon. Among statesmen on this side I have not found the same sympathy or desire. The speeches that we have heard this afternoon opposed to the Bill clearly represent the views expressed by different statesmen with whom I have discussed the question of emigration. They do not see, or have not seen, the importance of securing that our people who leave this country should as far as possible be guided in their direction, and that the guidance should be in the direction of the Dominions Overseas. Even Mr. Chamberlain himself who, after 1163 all, was one of our greatest Imperial statesmen, had no policy of emigration based on Empire lines. The only statesmen of any importance—they are of great importance at the present time—who had Imperial ideas with regard to emigration are the present Chancellor of the Exchequer and the present Colonial Secretary. These two statesmen have always been in favour of emigration being based upon Imperial lines. I remember talking over with the present Colonial Secretary the question of emigration on these lines some fifteen years ago, and he was very keen then upon emigration, and I am sure to-day he is as keen as ever.
Why is it necessary that this central authority should be set up? The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has talked a great deal about freedom, and he said he was desirous of seeing our emigrants left free to go where they liked. This Bill does not give any executive power to prevent emigrants going where they like, but it does give power to guide and assist, and it gives authority to use public money for the purpose of assisting emigrants to settle in our Dominions overseas. That will be an inducement to them to settle there rather than to go to places like the United States. Up to 1905 emigration to the United States exceeded that to the British Colonies, and yet for twenty years the Emigrants' Information Office, which was originally intended to give information and guidance to persons going to British Colonies, has been carrying on its propaganda, and still the ratio of emigration to the United States continued to be as high as ever. No wonder that in 1907 Mr. Deakin, who was Prime Minister of the Australian Commonwealth, thought the time had arrived to place on the agenda paper of the Imperial Conference a motion to the effect that it was desirable to encourage British emigrants to proceed to British Colonies rather than to foreign countries. He said:We look upon emigration to foreign countries as draining the life blood of the Empire.I take it that this central body will at any rate see that the life-blood of the Empire is not drained in that way. We cannot consent to see people pass away from the British flag who ought to remain upholding that flag. The late President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Burns), who held the Government brief on that occasion, said that with regard to the 1164 direction and guidance of intending settlers in new countries from the Motherland, that that had been the policy and line of action taken by the Government for the last twenty years. I must say that I am unable to see the correctness of that statement, because the Emigrants' Information Office was only empowered to disseminate literature, and to a certain extent to guide emigrants by means of pamphlets. At that time the Emigrants' Information Office did not personally see would-be emigrants; that is quite a recent movement. The whole business of emigration was done by that office merely and solely through the dissemination of literature. The central authority will have far greater powers, both to advise and assist, and I take it will be an executive authority. If the late President of the Local Government Board had thought fit on that occasion when he was replying to Mr. Deakin he might have told him what the late Colonial Secretary (Lord Harcourt) told me across the floor of this House, that while the information given by the Emigrants' Information Office might be taken as reliable, it was in no sense to be regarded as official. I would Like to ask what is the use of carrying on an office if the information given is not official. This central authority will do away at any rate with that distinction.
Another part of Mr. Deakins' Resolution on that occasion was to the effect that the Imperial Government be requested to co-operate with any colony desiring emigrants and to assist people to emigrate. On this subject Sir Wilfred Laurier said that if the Imperial Government were prepared to assist, and assist financially, Canada would be only too glad to co-operate with them. That was the opportunity we had of co-operating with Canada, and it was not taken advantage of. We know now that Canada at any rate is willing and ready to assist financially if we are willing to do the same in regard to emigrants proceeding to Canada, and we have always known that Australia is willing to assist financially in the same way. The whole thing depends upon the question of selection of emigrants, and in that selection the overseas Dominions must have a very active voice on an equality with other members of this central authority. If that is the case, there can be no two opinions about it that the overseas Dominions will be very glad to see an executive authority set up, and hon. Members who think otherwise are 1165 entirely in error if they say that the Dominions would not agree to a central authority, for they want it just as much as we do. All they say is that they wish to be represented on it in an authoritative manner.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea told the Conference and Mr. Deakin and Sir Wilfred Laurier, in the hearing of the Colonial Secretary, that the Government were considering in 1907 the reorganisation of the Emigrants' Information Office, and he also said that the Government had under consideration the recommendation of the Settlements Committee that a State Grant for five years of Imperial funds should be applied to assisting the funds of approved voluntary societies. That was in 1907. At that time the Government had under consideration, first of all, the reorganisation of the Emigrants' Information Office, and, secondly, a recommendation to assist the funds from the State voluntary societies, and yet here we are in 1918 and nothing has been done up to the present moment. At last we are seeing some light out of the darkness, and we have a Bill before us, although I cannot say it has been received with that enthusiasm I should like to have seen. This Bill, however, does propose to assist, and to do what the right hon. Gentlemen, who represented the Government at the Imperial Conference in 1907, told the Prime Ministers of the Dominions what the Government then had under consideration. Again, at the Imperial Conference in 1911, Mr. Fisher, who was then the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia, and who is now the High Commissioner for Australia in this country, moved the same Resolution, and he added these important words:That the Secretary of State for the Colonies be requested to nominate representatives of the Dominions to the Committee of the Emigrants' Information Office.I need hardly say that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea sat silent on that occasion, but afterwards, according to Lord Harcourt, he made the mistake of saying that he had the power to do what he had not the power to do. It was a very unfortunate remark to make, because it was intended to satisfy and did satisfy the Overseas Dominions for five or six years. In 1911 we were asked by the representative of the Commonwealth of Australia to place upon the Committee of the Emigrants' Information Office representatives of the Dominions, 1166 and, of course, it was naturally expected that this would be done. On the contrary, Lord Harcourt would do nothing of the kind. He would not have them there at all, with the result that they have never been placed upon the Committee, and to this day the Dominions are not represented in any way upon the Committee of the Emigrants' Information Office. It was partly for that reason that in 1905 I set up the Central Emigration Board, on which I have representatives of the Overseas. Dominions, the late Prime Ministers of the Dominion of Australia and the Dominion of New Zealand, and men who have served a long time in the Overseas Dominions, and others who have great knowledge of local government in this country. For twelve years my board has been doing for the State the very business for which this Bill is introduced now. Before the War we had emigrated 2,500 or 3,000 selected people. We assisted many of them, though not all of them, but we selected them and found them places and positions in the Dominions, and with the exception of 1 or 2 per cent. everyone of them is doing well, and some of them have come back to fight in this War. If that could be done by an individual society in twelve years, what can be done in twelve years by an authority like this which is to be set up by the State and which will have power to use the State money?
I was asked to give evidence before the Dominions Royal Commission in 1912. I gave them a great deal of my own personal experience, and I laid stress upon two points as essential to the formation of a sound and efficient emigration policy. First, I urged that every effort should be made to bring about an Imperial policy of emigration and immigration affecting adults and children alike conducted and financed by the Home Government in conjunction with the Governments of the British Dominions overseas. I have some little doubt whether this Board is going to have any financial assistance from the Overseas Governments. So far as I can see, the only money will come out of the funds of this country, and to that extent the Dominions, although they will be represented, will have very little executive power. Secondly, I urged that the Emigrants' Information Office should be replaced by a Board of Emigration having executive and administrative powers and being directly responsible to some Department of the State, preferably 1167 the Colonial Office. I think this Bill does do that. It replaces the Emigrants' Information Office by a constitutional authority responsible to a Department of the State and ultimately responsible to Parliament. With regard to the new authority, the suggestion that I made at that time was that we should have an Imperial Board with Commissioners, and that we should have Advisory Committees composed of the Agents-General, representatives of voluntary societies and boards of guardians, individuals who take a special interest in emigration work, and, of course, passenger agents. I wished to see these committees meet and discuss matters, but the ultimate decision to rest with the Board itself. In this way we should have emigration work consolidated, and we should be brought into close touch with the immigration work in the Dominions Overseas. For unless you are brought into close touch with immigration work it is no use carrying on your emigration work. Emigration and immigration are not two policies but one policy. It is one problem that you have to solve, and if you try, as the Government here have tried, to solve one side of the question only, you will fail just as the Dominions have failed in their one-sided policy of immigration. I trust that we shall have both questions, emigration and immigration, discussed, and that some solution "will be found for this single problem.
Two years afterwards the Royal Commission reported, and, as the House knows, they reported pretty well on the same lines with regard to the central authority as I had outlined in the evidence which I gave on that occasion. Early last year the Secretary of State for the Colonies appointed the Empire Settlement Committee "to consider the measures to be taken for settling within the Empire ex-Service men who may desire to migrate after the War and to make recommendations." As the House knows, the emigration problem has somewhat shifted since the War started. Before the War, although men who had served their time—pensioners—were migrating to a certain extent, the majority of the persons who migrated were men of a civilian capacity. After the War a very large number of those who will want to migrate will be people who have served in some sort of military capacity and who have relatives wishing to migrate with them, 1168 most of whom may or may not have served in this country as munition workers or in some home service At any rate, there has been a great change, and you have to remember that you will be dealing with a large number of persons who will. want to migrate and who will want information and assistance and someone to tell them exactly the best thing to do. It is quite right and proper that everyone should think for himself and should be free to go when and where he likes, but I am. a little doubtful about too much freedom. I do not care to see so much freedom. We have seen freedom restricted in very many quarters. The right hon. Gentleman sitting below me (Mr. Gulland) smiles, but there has been no Government in my time that has restricted freedom so much as the Government of which he was a very important representative. Who compelled people to insure but the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was so important a member? It is necessary sometimes to restrict freedom. But this body is not to be set up to restrict freedom, but to advise people and to assist them to follow out that advice in a manner which will allow them to proceed to some other portion of the Empire and there set up for themselves and live their lives. The Empire Settlement Committee reported in August, and, after emphasising the view that a new departure in our emigration system is needed if emigration is to be looked at, as it ought to be looked at, from the standpoint of the Empire as a whole, they went on to say:While agreeing in the main with the recommendations of the Dominions Royal Commission, in our opinion the representatives of the Overseas Dominions and others should be connected with the new authority not in an advisory but in an executive capacity; in fact, whatever machinery is set up for controlling emigration from the United Kingdom, a Minister of the United Kingdom who can answer to Parliament for it must ultimately be responsible for the work.They recommended what I have no doubt the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies said in his opening speech; I feel sure he gave the House the recommendations of the Empire Settlement Committee. These recommendations are almost identical with the evidence I gave before the Dominions Royal Commission in 1912, and they coincide almost directly with the findings of that Royal Commission two years later, with the exception that the Settlement Committee advised that the Board should 1169 be an executive Board. I feel certain that it is intended that the Bill should carry out these findings. Clause 1 states "that such number of persons, appointed in such manner as may be specified in the Regulations." I feel sure when the Regulations are promulgated that they will specify that these Dominion representatives are to be members of the central authority. I hope and trust that the central authority will have the power to set up advisory committees, and that these latter will include passenger agents, voluntary societies, and boards of guardians or their successors. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman said anything about the work of the boards of guardians. That is a very important part of the emigration business. A great deal of emigration has been carried out by these and by assisted emigration in this country; and by voluntary societies, by societies like the one of which I am chairman. These are the people who have done the emigration work in this country, not the State. The State has done nothing. The Emigrants' Information Office has done nothing whatever. It has all been done by the voluntary societies. The passenger agents, as the right hon. Gentleman who sits below me said, have played a very important part. Some of them have done very well. Others have done very badly. But they are making a business of it. It is true that some of the voluntary societies made a certain amount, which they added to their funds, upon conditions which I understand under this Bill are to be done away with. I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman whether it is proposed in every case to do away with the commissions which are at the present time—or which were before the War—given not only by the railways or the shippers, but also by the Government overseas? Is it intended to take away all that assistance? Are the Overseas Governments not to be allowed to give a bonus for emigrants which are provided by this country, because that will have a very important bearing upon the finances of emigration societies? Although a great number of people have in the past put their hands into their pockets, on the other hand these societies and others have derived a fair proportion of their income from bonuses given, by the railways and the shipping companies, as well as from the bonuses of the Overseas Governments.
1170 To return to the matter of rate-aided emigration. Does this Bill include rate-aided emigration? Is the central authority to take over that emigration in this country? Is it to take over child emigration? The hon. Gentleman knows, as well as do other Members of this House, that child emigration has only been carried on by boards of guardians. They say they will emigrate a child, and they select a certain society to which they give 5s. per week for the child for about six months, and after six months the child is emigrated overseas. Is it intended that all that emigration shall come under the central authority? That is a very important point, and one which I am very strong upon. I think that emigration of any kind should come under the central authority. There is no mention made of the Local Government Board in this Bill. Authorities are mentioned. This may include the Local Government Board. Special mention is made of the Board of Trade.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
After all, I think it was Mr. Chamberlain who said that a thing had to be mentioned three times before it was understood. The hon. Gentleman has only mentioned the thing once. Is rate-aided emigration going to be taken over by this Board? We have been told in this House that emigration is a matter of doubtful necessity, and of doubtful importance. We have been told that there are a great number of people who rather regard emigration as a mistake. The right hon. Gentleman below me said just now—and I shall refer to it again before I sit down— he talked of "the emigration of the best." So long ago as 1874 the late Lord Randolph Churchill said—I believe it was in his election address at Woodstock:The Colonial Empire of Great Britain, offering as it does a field of development for the latent energies and labour of the sons of our over-burdened islands, will continually demand the attention of the legislature. I will support all efforts which would tend to facilitate the means of emigration, and at the same time strengthen and consolidate the ties which unite the Colonies to the Mother Country.Thirty years later the late Prime Minister said at the Imperial Conference:Emigration is a most important matter, and a matter in which there should be consistent cooperation between the Imperial authorities and the different local communities.1171 The present Chancellor of the Exchequer readily admits that after the War there will be emigration. He has told us what no other Member of the Cabinet has had the courage to tell us, except the Colonial Secretary, that "We must give to the men who are fighting our battles the best chance of the widest outlook which is available for them." That is another aspect of emigration which has not been touched upon this afternoon, and which I have not time to go into, but it is an aspect of emigration which is a very important one. You cannot say to an individual: "You shall not emigrate; you must remain in this country." If that person is going to emigrate and wants to go to the Dominions, it is our duty to that would-be emigrant who has fought in the War to see that he is assisted, and that everything possible is done that can be done to get him settled in the Dominions overseas. Nor does the Chancellor of the Exchequer let the matter rest where I have said. He has forged another link in our Imperial chain. In his opinion —he gave it openly and without reserve at a public speech:Much blame will attach to the Government, whatever it is, if two things are not made certain—that whatever emigration does take place shall be within the British Empire, and shall not lessen the strength of the Empire as a whole, and that whatever emigration there is to be shall take place under the best conditions for the men who have fought our battles.Here we have the true Imperial idea. These words breathe the true spirit of Empire. I believe that this authority will carry out these views, but, unless this authority is set up, and set up soon, these views cannot be carried out. Hon. Members will see, without this authority, the men who have fought for us going to the United States, to the Argentine, and to other countries, not because they want to go there, but because there is no one here to tell them of the advantages awaiting them in the Dominions. That is one of the things that the central authority will do, and the sooner it is set up the better. The opponents of emigration are a great number. We know them pretty well, we who have had intimate knowledge of emigration for many years. We know the line of argument, and I do not think any of the four speakers who have preceded me trotted out any new arguments. They were the old ideas brought up to date and served up under 1172 new conditions, but it was the old story over again. The hon. Member (Mr. Harmsworth) very rightly and properly is desirous that this country should be developed to its fullest extent, and that as many as possible of our people should be kept here. I am quite in agreement with him. I do not want to promote emigration. I want to see this country developed as far as it can be, but when you come to compare the opportunities which are open to a man who takes up a small holding in this country and the opportunities given to a man who takes up a small holding in a favourable position, say, in Australia or Canada, if he has a family there is no comparison at all. You will first have to alter the whole of our fiscal arrangements if you want to place the two on anything like an equality. Then there is the freehold. The small Bill which was brought in here did not give any possibility of acquiring the freehold.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Whitley)
Mr. Speaker has already drawn attention to that. It is not in order.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
The hon. Member (Mr. Anderson) went back to the old idea about sending out our best. That takes us back a long time. Before he came into the House, before I remember him even connected with the Labour movement, when I was connected with the Labour movement some eighteen years ago I remember that most of the Labour leaders were opposed to emigration. There is not a single Member on that bench who was a Labour leader in those days or in the ten years which followed who ever had a good word to say for emigration. Even at the Trade Union Congress year after year a resolution used to be put up— a hardy annual—against emigration. It was unpopular, and no one wanted it, the idea being that we wanted to get rid of people from this country so as to lower wages, and that we were trying to assist the capitalists.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
It is just that part of the hon. Member's speech which caused Mr. Speaker to intervene, and say it was not relevant.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
When the hon. Member (Mr. Anderson) was speaking the Speaker did not intervene. It was when the hon. Member (Mr. Harmsworth) was speaking on the land policy that lie intervened.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
Though we may emigrate our best we shall only emigrate them if they come within the purview of the central authority. The central authority will have power to say whether it is advisable for a man to go or not. It can only say he had better stay in this country or he had better go to one of the Colonies. I congratulate the Government again on bringing in a Bill which is so necessary and which carries out the wishes both of the Oversea Dominions and of the people of this country who desire to see the Empire one.
§ Mr. GULLAND
I do not profess to be an expert on the subject, like the hon. Gentleman, but I should like to put one or two questions to the Under-Secretary. I think he said the authority which was to be set up would have on it representatives of the Departments which are interested. I think he said there were seven. Perhaps he would tell us what Departments they are, so that we may really know what is the composition of the Board. I imagine there will be a representative of the Scottish Office, but that is one of the points one would like to know. I presume the Bill is to come into operation at once. There is no indication that it is to wait until after the War, but I should like to know what the hon. Gentleman says about that. There is the inevitable money Clause in Clause 1. Could he give us any idea what the total cost of the Bill is going to be, not only the salaries and remuneration which are specifically mentioned, but to what extent the assistance of these emigrants is to go and what is the maximum sum per annum which is to be allowed for assistance to emigration? The Bill is mostly machinery, but, to my mind, the really important point is paragraph (b) in Clause 2. That seems to embody the policy of the Bill and of the Government in regard to emigration. Apparently, all the regulations and the amount and quality of the assistance are to be left entirely to the Secretary of State, without any reference to Parliament, and it is to be left to him to do exactly as he pleases. I should be very glad to hear what the hon. Gentleman has to say about that. A good deal of discussion has taken place with regard to the supposed competition between the Dominions and various 1174 friendly countries for the emigrants. The thing I am afraid of is competition between the Dominions and Scotland. The census of 1911 disclosed a terrible and unexpected drop in population. It was the result, on the one hand, of very persistent advertising. At every railway station there were the most beautiful pictures of every Dominion. I am afraid it was not so much that but because there was a want of attractiveness in the life of this country. Whatever advertisement you may have and however you may encourage emigrants, it will not have the effect unless the economic and social conditions of this country are such as to drive people away. It seems to me that our duty is to make the life here sufficiently attractive to keep our people at home. Clause 2 is to advise and assist intending emigrants. What does "assist" mean? The Under-Secretary has been asked and will perhaps tell us what that means. Is it only to help with the passages, in paying the fares, or does it mean setting up people in the different Colonies. If so, will the Government agree to do for people who want to stay in this country the same as they propose to do for people who are going away to the Dominions? That is the real point that everybody wants to know about.
I am glad to see the Secretary for Scotland in his place because if this Bill comes into operation during the War there are various kinds of expenditure for Scotland which have been suspended during the War to which attention must be called. There is the small holding Grant of £200,000 a year which has been suspended. If we are going to give men money to induce them to go to Canada to cultivate the land why should not that Grant of £200,000 per year be resumed for Scotland? I am sure I shall have the Secretary for Scotland with me in that matter. If you are going to pay men to go out of the country to cultivate land in the Colonies, you are just as much entitled to resume the payment of the moneys that were paid before the War for encouraging smallholdings in Scotland. I know there is a small holding colonies scheme which the right hon. Gentleman has in hand but he admitted the other day that it was going very slow. He said not a single man was working on the land under that policy. Another great occupation for which you will send men abroad will be in connection with timber and afforestation. You have the curious anomaly in Scotland 1175 of Canadians actually cutting down the timber of Scotland, and doing extremely well. If money is to be paid to send people to Canada to do timber work, the Government ought to be willing to spend money on the same work in Scotland. The Secretary for Scotland knows quite well that though a committee has been appointed practically nothing has been done. In answer to a question the other day—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I am afraid Mr. Speaker's ruling, already given, covers this point. These questions cannot be answered on this Bill. The Undersecretary for the Colonies cannot answer for other Departments of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman is quite within his rights in asking what amount of assistance or money will be given under Clause 2.
§ Mr. L. JONES
Is it not a perfectly legitimate argument on the Second Reading of any Bill that the Bill is untimely because other measures of a similar character ought to be taken first? It seems to me a perfectly legitimate argument against this Ball that, before undertaking a Bill of this kind, which may possibly mean a grant of public money for settling people on the land in Australia, that such money ought first to be expended in settling people on the land in Scotland, and afterwards in the Colonies.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman was in the House when Mr. Speaker gave the ruling.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I am trying, whilst temporarily in the Chair, to uphold what Mr. Speaker has ruled.
§ Mr. GULLAND
I was not in the House to hear Mr. Speaker's ruling. However, I depart from that line of argument. I have said enough to put my point, and I am obliged for your indulgence in allowing me to go as far as I did. On the general point of emigration, it is of great advantage to the Dominions that Britishers, especially Scotsmen, should go there. I remember some years ago that a friend of mine who had settled in Winnipeg said to me, "Do not think of Scotland as the little rugged bit of the map that you know. That is not Scotland. Scotland is wherever a Scotsman goes with his industry, his education, his democratic principles, and his religion."
§ Mr. GULLAND
I am sorry that my hon. Friend objects to my upholding the advantages of Scotsmen settling within the Empire, but everybody else will agree that it is a good thing. My friend said that Scotland was wherever a Scotsman took all the things that were characteristically Scottish. Wherever he went with these things, there he made Scotland. That is right. I believe in that, so long as you do not too much denude Scotland. That is what I am afraid of. I do not know whether that is going to happen under this Bill. I do not know whether it is intended to encourage emigration or to restrict it. This very sparse paragraph (b) in Clause 2 is so vague that one cannot tell what is meant—whether it is meant to encourage or discourage emigration. What I want to insist on is that emigration shall not be encouraged from Scotland to such an extent as to carry on further the denudation of Scotland that has been going on. I know that the Secretary for Scotland has been working at this matter in a variety of ways, for which we are greatly indebted, and I know he will do what he can so to arrange that there shall be an encouragement to stay at home instead of going overseas. Let us have the same privileges and the same access to the land and the same number of new houses in Scotland that you would have in the Dominions, and let us take care that if some men do want to go, that those at any rate who remain shall have proper and decent opportunity to stay in their own country and live their own lives.
Having regard to the lateness of the hour and the wish that the other Bill shall come on in its proper order, I am afraid that I must sacrifice a good deal of what I have been asked to say by people connected with emigration. The Bill has one great merit, and that is that the drafting is very clear. The language is so simple that anyone can understand it. That answers the remark of the hon. Member for Hexham, who said that this Bill was unnecessary, because, after reading Clauses of the Merchant Shipping Act, he said that it was already law. If it is unnecessary it is because these Clauses 1177 are put into the Bill in full instead of being put in by reference. Therefore the hon. Gentleman objects to the Merchant Shipping Act as it exists already.
§ Mr. HOLT
I do not object to the Merchant Shipping Act. I said that you have all these provisions in the Merchant Shipping Act, and it is unnecessary to insert similar provisions in this Bill to be carried out by a different authority.
It puts into this Act the principles of the Merchant Shipping Act. That is the explanation of that. The object of this Bill is, I believe, neither to encourage nor discourage emigration unduly. The object is to regulate it, and regulation is very much required. What we want is that the right sort of man shall go to the right sort of place. There might be two or three places which require the same sort of man. That will be a very serious question after the War, because there will be an enormous number of intending emigrants, and if they are not properly sorted we may have square pegs in round holes. The object of the Bill is really to give advice and assistance, so as to guide the right people to the right place. After the South African War about 230,000 people came back from South Africa and 220,000 of them emigrated, nearly all to a foreign country, with the result that we lost all their great productive power. What we want, shortly stated, is, as far as possible, to keep the British Empire British, not by any undue pressure, but by being able to give information and assistance to those people, and to show them the value of colonising within the Empire. The Bill is founded on the Report of the Empire Settlement Committee, and it is for Empire settlement that this Bill is to a great extent designed. The Bill divides itself into two parts. The first consists of Clauses 1 and 2, with which I have dealt briefly. Nobody could object to those. With regard to the second part, Clauses 3 to 9 contain very drastic provisions indeed.
There is in this country a number of associations which have up to now rendered yeoman service to emigration. The British Passengers' Agents' Association, which has branches all over the country, and I think its head office is in Liverpool, has always been conducted in a worthy manner, and has done an enormous amount of Empire-building in regulating the emigration of people to our Colonies, and is always prepared to do the right 1178 thing in the right way at the right time. It has ample accommodation, and is always receiving information from agents all over the world, and members travel to various parts of the world and get information, which is given to intending emigrants. It is thoroughly well organised, and I hope that my hon. Friend will tell us that he will make use of associations of this kind which are thoroughly respectable and well organised. If he gives me that assurance it will smooth the way a great deal in Committee in reference to various Amendments which one is likely to put on the Paper. He kindly promised to receive a deputation on the subject, but this Bill has come in so suddenly that we have not had the opportunity of benefiting by the remarks and advice which he would have given if we had seen him earlier on this subject. The Bill itself, if carried out according to the literal significance of the words, will create a huge monopoly in the Government, because no passage broker can be appointed except with the permission of this new body, and they need not appoint any passage broker. They may only appoint a few or they might only appoint one—a Government official. The result would be a very serious interference with all that has been done in regard to emigration in the past. The passage broker has the absolute monopoly of agents. He may sweat agents as much as he likes because of his hold over them. There is no other occupation in life for them, and if he withdraws his countenance from them they cannot carry on their business at all. Then, vested interests have probably grown up alongside this industry. There is no provision whatever in the Bill for protecting those interests or making use of them in any way. I was rather alarmed to hear the Under-Secretary say that he intended to have no new machinery, and that they were going to give this to Labour Exchanges and local administration. I hope that he will give us some assurance that the very drastic provisions in the Bill will not mean that he will not make use of existing organisations or that he will destroy any vested interest which is worthy to exist and has served the public in the past and will serve it in the future.
§ Mr. HEWINS
I would like to assure my hon. and learned Friend that the object of the organisation of the central authority is to introduce order into con- 1179 ditions which are at present chaotic. In reply to the question put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dumfries, the Government Departments represented on the central authority are the Colonial Office, the War Office, the Ministry of Labour, the Local Government Board, and the Board of Trade. The central authority as designed at present is extremely large, and it is rather difficult to make it larger. I would like to point out to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rushcliffe that none of the objections which he indicates are likely to arise. We are not controlling emigration. We are controlling the machinery. This is a very important distinction. If you were going to control emigration I really do not know what vast questions might arise, but the problem which we are up against is a simplification of the Regulation of the emigration which takes place.
§ Mr. HEWINS
If my right hon. Friend would read the Bill he would see that no such power is given. In fact, I was going to make the general observation that I thought his observations were rather irrelevant to the actual terms of the Bill. He made a most interesting speech, but the Bill does not do a great many of the things which the right hon. Gentleman talks about. It really is a very simple affair. Clause 1 and Clause 2 set up the central authority. If we can achieve these ends, the rest of the provisions follow. There is no desire to introduce a vast revolution in the control of emigration. Where emigration takes place, the only object of this Bill is to give proper advice, where possible. All that the Bill does is to confer power on the authority in general terms. The central authority has got to draw up a scheme in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Bill.
§ Mr. HEWINS
The provisions of this Bill do not necessarily involve the payment of a single fare. Another point which was raised had reference to the encouragement of emigration. This measure neither encourages nor discourages emigration; what it does is to 1180 regulate the emigration which takes place, and to obtain the co-ordination of the machinery for the Regulation of emigration, and we hope that by the power we obtain under this Bill we shall be able to give very definite encouragement to the emigration which takes place, and to build up the strength and the prosperity of the Empire. I do not wish to say any word that would in the least suggest any unfriendly feeling to foreign countries, but, after all, the British Empire is our business, and we sincerely hope that those who decide to emigrate may be induced by our advice to emigrate to parts within the British Empire, rather than to go outside of it. We have seen in the War the enormous advantage of the Colonies in the contributions they have made to our forces during most critical times. The general remark I have to make on the criticisms that have been offered is that they proceed on the hypothesis that we really have an intention to control emigration, whereas, in fact, what we are doing is to improve and organise the machinery for the regulation of emigration as far as we possibly can.
§ Mr. JONES
May I point out that Clause 9 (a) provides that before a passage broker can deal with any person, and issue a ticket to secure his passage to any country, he must give not less than seven clear days' notice to the authorities? Does that give the authority power to forbid the issue of a ticket by the broker to the person?
§ Mr. HEWINS
The authority can only use the powers conferred by the Bill, and there is nothing of that kind in the Bill.
§ Mr. HEWINS
No; I do not say that. Under this measure the powers to be used are for the purpose of directing the stream of emigration into different channels that we think are desirable, and will help to build up and make more prosperous the Empire. What is sought is the regulation of emigration, and that is the general policy with regard to it.
§ Mr. HEWINS
A scheme will be drawn up, and Regulations will be framed, in consultation with the Department concerned, and I cannot now say what will be the Regulations which will be deemed desirable. But when we remember that the authority represents the Government itself, the High Commissioners, as well as other representative persons, it does seem to me that we are not likely to get recommendations or regulations that are improper. The observations of my hon. Friend the Member for Epsom really flowed from, and were consequential upon the setting up of the central authority. Some hon. Members spoke of the possibility of a conflict of interests within the Empire. I do not think there is any such possibility, but the fact remains that, in dealing with this question of emigration there are considerations to which we ought properly to have regard, namely, the difference of conditions which exist in various districts and localities that are being developed. So far from this Bill being a cause of conflict, its machinery will be a means of preventing such conflict. The point was raised about the censorship of literature, if you like to call it so, and hon. Members seemed to imagine that it was intended to stop the work of propaganda which already exists, but there is no such intention. We have got to make Regulations, and when these have been brought up and approved, of course they will have to be observed. Once you have set up the central authority in Clauses 1 and 2, I think that the rest of the Clauses of the Bill are consequential. The central authority will have to organise emigration and make regulations to be carried out by those persons and those bodies who are concerned in emigration. I am sure that the House will welcome this departure in our policy. It is a great thing to see a beginning made on an important subject which has so long required to be dealt with, and to get it under way, and I feel certain that when the new authority meets and sets to work, it will be surprising how very much more manageable it will be found that many of these problems are.
Mr. DUNDAS WHITE
I have listened with close attention to the two speeches which have fallen from the Undersecretary for the Colonies on this Bill, and I am bound to say that I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for the Rushcliffe Division that he has not succeeded in making out a case for the. 1182 drastic proposal it contains. He said a few minutes ago that if we accept the-principle of having a central authority, then we should accept the Bill as a whole. It does not seem that that follows in the least. There are features in the Bill which we need not accept at all, even though we think a central authority desirable. A central authority may be desirable; it undoubtedly is desirable. My hon. Friend and various other Members who have supported the Bill have said a good deal about the desirability of emigrants having satisfactory and accurate information, and also about the need of regulating passage brokers' licences. So far as the first of these is concerned, I quite agree that we want intending emigrants to have the best possible information, and that has been afforded, as I know from personal experience, from the Emigrants' Information Office. It is desirable that there should be an office to which emigrants may go for reliable information. My hon. Friend the Member for Devonport made some complaint that certain information, though reliable, was not official. For myself I would prefer reliable information to official information, and I am bound to say that the information which the Emigrants' Information Department gives has been thoroughly good for a long time, because I have been following it closely. Any proposal to put them in a position to develop that would meet with support from every quarter of the House.
Another matter about which complaint has been made is that passage brokers, having a personal interest in getting passages taken, have held out misleading hopes and expectations to intending emigrants. That, I entirely agree with my hon. Friend, is a matter which ought to be dealt with in the severest possible-way. There are, I believe, fairly strict provisions against it in existing legislation, and any attempt to make that an offence severely dealt with, more severely than now, would also have the support of every part of the House. The central authority is doubtless desirable in itself, because there ought, I think, to be some co-ordination between the Information Office., the passage brokers' authorities, and various other agencies. But I join issue when we come to the machinery of the Bill. I understood my hon. Friend to say that the Bill did not regulate emigration, but it regulated the machinery of emigration. 1183 That is a distinction, but it is a distinction which, in practice, may not have very much difference, because those who regulate the machinery not only regulate the machinery, but have power to control the sources of information and to a great extent regulate emigration. A good deal has been made by the Member for Devonport about the desirability of sending people where the British flag flies. On that I would say that no one is more desirous than myself for the full development of the British Empire for the British race in every possible way, but our policy in emigration ought to be to give the most fair and unprejudiced information and enable our people to seek their fortunes wherever they can do so to their best advantage in any part of the world. The way to bring them to the British Dominions is to make the position in those British Dominions better than in any other part of the world.
My hon. Friend the Member for Devonport quoted a phrase attributed to Mr. Deakin that when people went from this country to other countries not under the British flag it was draining the lifeblood of the Empire. I do not accept that view for a moment. Only a few days ago—and we have all had similar experiences—I happened to see a good deal of a very gallant officer who had gone out to settle in Argentina, but when War broke out threw up his ranch and came back to this country. He had the 1914 ribbon, and he had distinguished himself in many ways, and here he is engaged with His Majesty's Forces. Was that draining the life-blood of the Empire? There are many other places from which people have come back as much as if they had been under the British flag. I put that not only from the military point of view, but from another standpoint, namely, that it is one of the most important features in maintaining the British prestige and the British name throughout the world that people have gone out from this country, not only to settle under the British flag, but to settle under other flags, to countries where they have taken British ideas, British thoughts, British blood, and British liberty.
§ Notice taken that forty Members were not present; House counted, and forty Members being found present—
(resuming): Therefore, on these grounds, I maintain that our true 1184 course is to give fair and unprejudiced information about any part of the world which offers the greatest advantages, to let our people seek their own fortunes in that country or elsewhere wherever best they can, and for the British Dominions to induce British emigrants to go there by offering them better opportunities than they get elsewhere. That principle, while it may meet with general acceptance, does not appear to be the principle which is going to guide administration under the Bill. I quite agree that the Bill itself is not clear upon this point, but I understood the hon. Gentleman to say that when this Committee or advisory body was formed it was going to contain representatives of various British Dominions whom I am sure we should all welcome there, but, if my memory served me, he made no mention whatever of representatives of any other State.
Yes, and of the British Dominions generally; but there does not appear to have been invited on this body any representative of any other State, and I would put it to him that a very large number of our emigrants have gone, and have found very satisfactory results from going, to the United States. A large number have gone from Scotland to the United States and also to the Argentina and various other places. I mention this particular feature, because it seems to me that if the Committee is to be constituted along these lines, it will practically be designed not merely to regulate emigration, but to divert emigration to British Possessions and British Colonies more than would otherwise be the case, and my contention is that the proper course would be for the emigrants to go wherever they could do best for themselves, under whatever flag they might be, and that they should be attracted rather than regulated in the direction mentioned. That view is borne out by several observations that were made along the same lines, and that is another instance of the way in which this machinery may be worked with a view to attaining certain ends, instead of simply with a view to providing people rather with the best possible opportunities.
There is one other feature of the Bill which is of very great importance. I would just say a word about the passage brokers' arrangements in Clause 9, and 1185 the question of the supply of literature and information in Clause 10. Of course, we know that under the Merchant Shipping Act passage brokers are already regulated very strictly. But those powers are very much increased under Clause 9, under which the Government may practically control emigration, because steerage passengers can only emigrate through the agency of passage brokers, and the passage broker is placed absolutely under this new Department, and is put under very much stricter rules than he has hitherto been. Still more serious is the position in Clause 10. It has been said there is no intention unduly to restrict the literature that may be issued on the subject of the advantages of various foreign countries; but if we look at Clause 10, we see that it is not merely that the Department is to have power to restrict the literature. The provision is that no person, or society, or association of persons shall publish any literature without leave. That is a very serious matter. After all, it is very important that, if in various parts of the world considerable opportunities do offer, there should be ordinary means of bringing these advantages home to the public, but, under this Section, that would be absolutely prohibited, unless the now authority expressly gave permission for it to be done. That does not seem to be a satisfactory state of things at all. I would be as severe as anyone on any person who gave any false information, or any association of persons who gave any false information, but to say that no information is to be given at all of this kind, unless authorised by a Government Department, seems to me to be, a step in the wrong direction, of the disadvantages of which in other spheres we have had some experience. I. would like to appeal to the hon. Gentleman to consider whether, when this reaches the Committee stage, he would not accept an Amendment to put the provision in Clause 10 the other way round, and, instead of preventing this literature being issued unless authorised, he would allow it to be authorised unless forbidden, with, of course, any penalties he likes to put for misleading information. I think that might very well be considered.
It seems to me rather tragic that at this stage we should be considering an emigration Bill which has for its objects the improvement and development of machinery of emigration really with a view to very considerable emigration after the War, and 1186 to emigration of a class to which the hon. Gentleman especially referred—the class of ex-Service men. I have suggested that the true course is that our people should do the best they can for themselves anywhere, and I put it that it is the first duty of the Government to offer the opportunities here as much as they possibly can. Hon. Members will remember that at an i early stage in the War, among our most j effective posters was one of a gallant man going off to fight, and looking back over a stretch of his native land and saying, "Is not this worth fighting for?" Yes, Sir, worth fighting for indeed, if it is to be the people's land, but the Government have so far failed to deal with that fundamental question. I do ask them while they promote legislation of this sort, not to overlook the far larger question of opening the country here to ex-Service men and to others. Monopoly has been far too much strengthened during the War, and I could wish that it were broken down. After all, there are no men more deserving of the opportunities of their native land than those men, and I say that, before we attempt to develop the emigration system, we ought to follow the advice of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman and colonise our own country, and prepare the way for that by going far deeper than we have yet done into fundamental questions of the rights of the people to their native land.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
I think if anybody in future years looks to the records of this House to see what Parliament was doing in, I suppose, the most perilous hour of the War, he will be rather surprised to find that we have been legislating for the emigration and transportation from this country of the survivors of the battlefield, for that is really what this Bill is for. The hon. Gentleman shakes his head. Being naturally interested in this question of emigration, I do know something of what has been going on behind the scenes. Some hon. Members here said the Bill has been sprung upon the House, but I heard of its production coming forward months ago, because I know those interested in the question of land settlement both here and in the Colonies, and especially the question of the discharged soldier, and I know perfectly well when the Government was approached on behalf of the discharged soldiers for the getting of land for them here, that they were informed that an Emigration Bill was going to be brought forward that was going to solve the problem of the dis- 1187 charged soldier, and, what is more, this Bill is going, as the right hon. Gentleman said, to settle other questions. The last sentence he uttered gives the key to this Bill. He said that when this question of emigration is settled, other problems will become more manageable. This Bill has been produced by men who fear that, after the War, in the discharge of millions of men the conditions of rebellion will come about here. They know and have been told by so great an authority as Lord Northcliffe, writing from the front in the columns of the "Times," that the soldiers are saying that when they return they will have their own land, and, as Lord Northcliffe said, there will be a strange time coming for both the landowners and the capitalists of this country. There are those who are afraid these times will come. They may well be afraid. This Bill is a safety valve against those conditions arising. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh, but perhaps they have not quite so much knowledge as I have of what is in the minds of those who are promoting this Bill. I say that that is the main purpose of this Bill.
When the hon. Gentleman said that the Bill is going to be operated through the existing organisations—the Employment Exchanges and the local authorities—that is all on the lines of what I am saying. When the unemployed man goes to the Unemployment Exchange he will be told, "You want work, or you want land? Here is the emigration authority. We will ship you to the uttermost ends of the world to give you the opportunity we cannot give you here," and this objectionable, clamouring man is got rid of and is no more trouble. Those are the men whom the hon. Member for the Tradeston Division (Mr. D. White) said were told to go and fight for their country, but when they come back they are going to be sent out of their country as fast as you can get them away. History repeats itself in this matter. One hundred years ago, after the last great continental War, they did not call it emigration, they called it transportation to get rid of objectionable characters—those who were demanding what they were told they would receive when they offered the sacrifice of themselves in war. The Under-Secretary is very subtle in his arguments, but I do not think they will succeed. He said that this is a Bill not to control emigration but only 1188 to control the machinery of emigration. How can you have emigration without the machinery? Part of the machinery of emigration is shipping, which the Government can and does control. The fact of the matter is that nobody will be able to leave this country except for that part of the world to which this authority set up by the Bill decides he may go. That is the bald truth of the matter.
I can see the very great possibilities in this Bill for the development of the British Empire. Let me say, in passing, that I do not believe you can develop the British Empire by simply sending men wherever the British flag flies. Quite the reverse is historically true. If you send men where the British flag does not fly you raise some great cry of freedom and in the end the British flag does fly there. However, let that pass for the moment. Although this Bill is certainly a machinery Bill, there are very interesting possibilities in it as regards the development of the British Empire. I believe the hon. Gentleman is interested, at any rate, many Members of the Administration are interested, in the British Empire Development League, which has been established with great funds behind it. Our old friends the Jameson raiders are in it. I believe the associates of Lord Milner are in it. I believe Lord Milner himself is in it. This organisation has for its object the promotion of a great Imperial scheme on the old South African lines. They are going to do great things. They are going to induce men to emigrate and they are going to send up the value of the land, while the British Government is going to get some value from the land of the Empire which. the British Empire Development League is going to obtain. This League, having been under virtual official sanction and promotion, will be able, through this new authority, the head of which will very likely be a member of the League, to have control of the emigration from this country. They will go to this authority and say that the British Empire League is to have every man who leaves this country go to the lands of the League, and try to divert the stream of emigration to those lands, the development of which will bring money into the British Exchequer. The Emigration Control Board can tell its official passage brokers that passages are only to be offered to the lands of the British Empire Development League. It will operate the Employment Exchanges in 1189 the same way and also the organisation of the local government authorities. There is a great deal in this Bill which does not meet the eye. Through the operation of its machinery great things can be effected in the way of the development of the British Empire and also those interests associated with its development now as they have been in the past.
The important thing as regards this Bill is that there is only one class of immigrant that the Dominions require. References have been made to the association of the Overseas Dominions with this Bill. Australia has been mentioned by more than one speaker. I know something about Australia from the point of view of the people of Australia—at any rate, those who govern Australia—with regard to the question of immigration. Immigrants they will have, as they have had them in the past, but they must be of one class and one class only, as the hon. Gentleman knows, and that class consists of men who have worked upon the land. You are not going to get rid of your discharged soldier who was an industrial worker by shipping him to Australia or Canada—I do not know so much about Canada—or to New-Zealand. You will not be able to do that, because New Zealand and Australia will lock the door. They do not want an unemployed man in their streets, if they can help it. The Labour party in Australia dominates the politics of Australia. They have an immigration policy, a simple policy introduced by Mr. Hughes—that is by drastic and confiscatory land value duties to break down the monopoly of land in Australia. I see that the hon. Gentleman looks towards Mr. Speaker as if I were out of order. I only mention this to show that the Australian Government has an immigration policy which is, concurrently with immigration, to break the monopoly of the soil, and the only men they will have are land workers. Therefore, so far as this Bill can be operative. it will be for the sending out from this country of the very men we require in this country, the men who can till the soil. It is just because they know that there will be a great demand on the part of discharged soldiers for a right to a foothold in these Islands that the Government are bringing forward this Transportation Bill, as I call it. I hold very strongly that the first object of the Government should be to give these men an opportunity in their own country. But they will not do it; 1190 they dare not do it; the very constitution of the Government is such that no one will believe they will attempt to do it.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
I thought it was in order to point out that this Bill was not needed, and that the money which it is proposed to spend under it need not be so spent, because the Bill is only being introduced to deal with particular views of the Government, and not because of the economic conditions which are likely to arise out of the War. I say that this Bill is not an essential Bill, and in so far as it is the only way in which an opportunity can be afforded for finding employment for discharged soldiers—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
This is not a Bill to find employment for discharged soldiers. Its object is to set up a Committee to advise and assist those who desire to emigrate.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
Of course, I must bow to your ruling. But I want to say a word on the question of the methods of control. It seems to me that the Government do take absolute control over the whole emigration policy of this country. They can prohibit any broker, unless he has a licence from the authority, from advertising passages and giving information to men as to how they can go to any other part of the world. The Government are likely for some time after the War to continue to have control of shipping, and it seems to me it will inevitably follow that no man will be able to leave this country, or to gain knowledge as to his prospects in any other part of the world, except with the assent of or through the channel which this Bill provides. Remember, only official publications are to be allowed. Thus is censorship extended in a new direction. People are to learn nothing about the outside world except through this authority, and all literature regarding it will be tinged and flavoured with the views of this particular authority. The Bill embodies a most extraordinary policy, one which I am quite confident, had it been adopted fifty or sixty years ago, would not have led to the creation of our Overseas Dominions as they exist to-day. All this brings me in full agreement with the right hon. Gentleman's closing sentences in which he said that when this Bill becomes law and this emigration authority is set up, many 1191 other problems will be capable of easier solution. The more I look at the Bill the more I think of its possibilities, the more I am convinced that that is the object with which it has been brought forward. I regret that, before doing anything to assist emigration, before bringing in a Bill to send ex-soldiers out of this country, no attempts were made to render such a policy unnecessary. The Bill can only be read in conjunction with the fact that eighteen months' operation of another Act has only resulted in putting some thirty-six soldiers on the land.
§ Mr. ACLAND ALLEN
I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say it is proposed that the new authority shall deal with the emigration of children from industrial and reformatory schools. In so far as that is going to be done, I am is favour of the Bill. I think it can be made useful in that direction. Undoubtedly there are considerable numbers of children in these categories whose homes are thoroughly unsatisfactory and unsuitable, and there are some at any rate who have no homes to which they can be returned. It certainly would be much better for these children if they could be established in a new land and have a chance of making their way there. The emigration of such children, so far as it has been carried out, has been very successful indeed, and I think it might be carried still further than in the past. To that extent, therefore, I am inclined to approve the action which is going to be taken by this new authority. With regard to some other aspects of the matter I am not quite so satisfied. I view with a good deal of misgiving the, suggestion that it is necessary to divert emigration to the British Empire and even to divert it from the United States of America. Such a course of action requires the greatest possible care. There is considerable emigration to the United States of America from various parts of Europe, and it is essential we should preserve the emigration there of people of the Anglo-Saxon race. We have during this present War found what an enormous advantage it has been to us to have the friendship of the United States of America, and if we are going to keep the same close touch between what is, after all, the Mother Country and the United States, nothing must be done to prevent the free flow of Anglo-Saxon blood into the United States. 1192 I hope, therefore, the greatest care will be taken not to prevent in any way the emigration of our people in that direction.
With regard to the machinery of the Bill, I also have a certain amount of misgiving as to the complete control which is being taken by this new authority. Although the Under-Secretary said no powers were taken to control emigration, yet he admitted quite frankly that by taking powers under Regulations to control the machinery of emigration they did in fact get control over emigration itself. Various Members who have spoken to-day have referred to the genius of our people abroad, to their genius for spreading all over the world—a genius which they have exercised with the utmost possible freedom, and which has resulted in our trade being carried into all quarters of the world. I have in my time travelled through North and South America, and through various other countries, and everywhere in those distant lands I have found British people keeping up the Anglo-Saxon spirit. Anything that is done in any way to prevent our free flow to those countries will, I believe, so far diminish our power throughout the world. Therefore, I do regard that part of the Bill with the very greatest misgiving, and I hope we shall look into it very closely in Committee and see that no great power is given to the central authority without the House of Commons retaining power of revision from time to time.
The two speeches delivered by the Minister in charge of the Bill increase my support of the proposal often made in this House that Bills introduced should contain on the face of them a statement not only of the machinery contained in them, but of the policy which that machinery is designed to serve, and the relation between that policy and the general outlook of the Government on national affairs. The Minister told us that this Bill does not control emigration, but only controls the machinery of emigration. As previous speakers have pointed out, machinery is a piece of inoperative and useless scrap iron unless you know what you are going to use it for. After all, it is policy which is the motive power of machinery of any kind, and the Minister in charge of the Bill himself showed in every argument that he used that he was deeply conscious of that fact, for running through his whole argument was a constant suggestion of policy rather 1193 than an open description of it. Owing to the rulings which have been given more than once during the course of this Debate it is somewhat difficult to discuss the real meaning of the Bill Without trenching on subjects which are apparently out of order, but in view of what has been said by many previous speakers it is very obvious by now that in certain circumstances this Bill will be entirely inoperative, and that in other circumstances it might be made the engine of a very large development of Imperial policy. One speaker told us that the Bill was designed to secure that the right man should go to the right place. Very well. If that is the motive of the Bill then it means that this is a part of the whole economic policy of the Government, and that we ought to have the argument in favour of this Bill so presented to the House as to show where it fits into their general economic policy. We are going to have an Imports and Exports Bill, too. This Bill is in the nature of an Exports Bill, probably a very important Exports Bill dealing with the one form of export over which we should exercise the most jealous control.
As one looks through the Clauses of the Bill one can see, for instance in Clause 9. Sub-section (3), that a very wide power is taken by the Government for diverting the right man to the right place or the wrong man to the right place, and when we consider what the Government can do by the power exercised by the new central emigration authority one is very conscious that the one outstanding requirement of this country in relation to the future manpower, not merely for the conduct of the War but for the whole economic position, is that this country, which is the centre of the Empire, should have its full economic resources developed to the utmost possible extent. There, I am aware I am trenching on ground which, on the strict reading of Parliamentary procedure, is not quite relevant to the material of the Bill, but since it is relevant to the thoughts of all those who read the Bill I cannot sit down without emphasising what has been said by previous speakers, namely, that if the Government, in producing this Bill, speak of developing the resources of the Empire, of using the man-power of the Empire in the best possible way, surely it is obvious to them before all others that this country itself will have such a crying need of its own man-power that if only the resources at present available in this 1194 country were properly developed by Government encouragement and a freely progressive policy there would be probably no emigration from this country for a generation to come—except in one particular. One of the most disastrous effects of this War will have been to remove the most productive and most valuable section of our man-power, and to increase disproportionately our woman-power in the country. I hope that if this Bill is to be used for any sagacious purpose they will see that those Dominions in which there is a great shortage of woman-power should be encouraged to attract women there where they are most needed.
I am quite sure that is not the main motive in the minds of the framers of the measure, and that the measure has not been designed by those who have taken a wide outlook of the present needs of the nation at the moment. I would plead with the Government rather to devote their attention to the development of the still large undeveloped resources of this country, so that every man who returns from fighting for his country in France will find there is an opening to his hand which he may enter freely and without any undue interference. It will be clear that you may have in this country, in the confusion created by the restoration of man-power from military sources to economic resources, an attraction of the open spaces in the outlying places of the world which will outweigh the still undeveloped attractions of this country. Naturally for a time there will be a moment when it will seem as though the Dominions have greater attractions to offer than the Home Country, but I am quite sure if the Government will set their hands to the plough of a progressive economic policy for the Home Country the attractions of the good old Home Country will prove the greater in the end.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Sir J. SPEAR
I am in sympathy with much that has fallen from the hon. Member who has just sat down (Mr. Whyte), but I support this Bill heartily, because it seems to me only a reasonable step to show our gratitude to our soldiers when they return by providing machinery that will enable them to make the best selection, if they wish to leave this country, and to emigrate under the best possible circumstances and with the best possible hope and prospect of success. It seems to me 1195 that everybody is anxious to do well for the soldiers out of gratitude for their magnificent services, but we should fail in taking reasonable steps if we did not provide this machinery, whereby, if they prefer to emigrate, they may do so under the best possible conditions and with the best possible opportunity for success. I sympathise largely, however, with the desire to afford useful and remunerative occupation for returned soldiers in our homeland to its greatest possible capabilities. If the Government were making provision to promote emigration, and neglected to develop our home resources, both agricultural and industrial, to afford to returned soldiers the greatest possible opportunity for prosperous occupation in the homeland our country is capable of providing, then I should object to the Bill; but it seems to me that the Government have shown a desire in providing the smallholdings for the returned soldiers in this country, and that they are fully alive to the importance of affording every reasonable encouragement for men to settle here. For the sake of the maintenance of the physique of the nation we want to retain as many of these men at home as we can possibly do, having regard to their possibilities. I see no contradiction in the two proposals. By all means let the Government do what they can to make it worth while for men to remain and settle in this country. On the other hand, any who wish to emigrate ought to have provided for them direction and machinery such as this Bill provides as will enable them to emigrate with the best possible conditions of success to the country which they deem most likely will promote their welfare. I heartily support this Bill, which I should not do if I thought it was aimed at unduly inducing returned soldiers to neglect to settle in the Home country. I am confident there is room for this operation in both directions. The Government have shown the importance of this proposal, and I look with no jealousy whatever on a measure which affords facilities for emigration.
§ Mr. KING
I am afraid that the cursory examination which I have been able to give to this measure with a view to obvious Amendments in Committee has convinced me that the hon. Member who has last addressed the House has taken but a very imperfect, and I think mis- 1196 judged, view of this Bill. In the first place, I object to it because it is an attempt to do what I expect would be attempted by a number of Departments to continue after the War those large restrictions on civil, personal, and political liberty which the country has given up willingly as part of its sacrifice during the War. From the point of view of personal individual liberty to go where a man wishes to carve out his own fortune, this Bill from first to last is an attempt to restrict citizens' liberty as to where, when, and how he shall go, and that is a very dangerous thing to begin with.
We are going to have a great Imperial Conference, and the Prime Ministers of our various self-governing Dominions are now approaching these shores with the object of taking part in a Conference. To bring in a Bill such as this before they have met seems to me to be altogether wrong. A Conference has not been held, and a Bill like this, even when worked out in consultation with the Crown agents who represent the Dominions here, ought to be put before the Imperial Conference before it is presented to this House. The fact that it is brought in at this time in this way gives me ground for suspicion. Let us look for a moment at Clause 9, where we find the restrictions. First of all, if you want to take a passage you must give seven days' notice. No doubt this is because adequate inquiries are going to be made as to character, antecedents, and all the rest of it. Suppose a man wants to join a party which is leaving in a few days, and he wishes to join up with friends. If he has not given his seven days' notice he has no chance. The vessel may be empty. His presence with a certain party may be essential, but seven days notice not having been given the matter is turned down and he is not able to go. That is the sort of petty, miserable, officious, red-tape restriction upon the liberty of the subject that makes one really indignant, and doubtful of the intelligence of Ministers of the Crown. When a man applies for his passage as an emigrant he must have certain official publications brought to his notice. Apparently, he must sign a paper saying that they have been brought to his notice. If at the same time notice is given to him by the passage broker of other publications which are not authorised, then that passage broker is liable to be fined. If a new book comes out or a new set of leaflets is sent from the 1197 Colonies or from some society interested in these movements, then, if it has not been officially recognised with all the red tape of Whitehall and the Colonial Office, it will be an actual offence on the part of the passage broker to call the emigrant's attention to it. The mere statement of these Regulations and provisions shows how extraordinarily suspicious and jealous of the liberties of the people the framers of this Bill are.
I pass to another aspect of the matter. You can control emigration from this country in the ships of this country, but can you control emigration from these shores in the ships of another nation or Power which sail from Holland, Belgium, France, Norway, Denmark, or Sweden? I have crossed the Atlantic not infrequently, and I know the ports of Liverpool and Southampton particularly well. One of the remarkable things that one notices again and again in crossing the Atlantic, or in frequenting these ports, is the large number of emigrants from France, Germany, especially from the Scandinavian countries, and from the East of Europe, including Bulgarians, Serbians, Czechs, Slovaks, and Greeks. I have Been all the nationalities on the ships on which I have crossed the Atlantic. Although obviously it would be far easier for emigrants from the Baltic to America to ship from there, yet, owing to competition and the good rates for railway transport which they manage to secure for emigrants, an immense amount of emigrant traffic came through Liverpool and Southampton from the far distant parts of Europe. What does that fact, which is well known to every shipping man, suggest? It shows this, that the policy which has been of Such advantage to our shipping in the past may be used against us in times to come, and that people, by booking a passage from Scandinavia or elsewhere, can avoid all these restrictions, and are perfectly free to go where they like and at any moment they like. What will be the result? There will be a large amount of emigrant traffic which will be diverted from our shores. I think that is very undesirable. It is very possible that the 1198 emigrant traffic at the end of the War will be of a very much diminished volume from every point of Europe. I have heard people declare that at the end of the War the tide of emigration will not be from Europe to the New World and to Australia and distant parts, but that those who have gone abroad ten or twelve years ago will come back to the Mother Country. That may be or it may not. At any rate, it is suggestive of this question—here you are making a great machinery for emigration. Do you know what will be the current or the amount or the class of emigration with which you are going to deal? I do not believe you know. This is an illiberal, ill-timed, ill-considered, and entirely premature measure, and on that account, if there is a Division, I shall certainly go into the Lobby against the Second Reading.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a second time, and committed to a Standing Committee.