HC Deb 12 May 1924 vol 173 cc975-8

Not amended (in the Standing Committee), considered.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

Lieut.-Colonel Sir JOHN GILMOUR

Before this Bill is read a Third time, I should like, in a few words, to draw attention to an aspect which, I am afraid, was not, perhaps, very fully realised by some of us when the Bill was in Committee. This Bill, as I understand it, gives the parish councils of Scotland the power of employing certain moneys provided by Parliament for emigration purposes. This Bill is drafted on the principle that if, as an alternative to relief in this country, the parish council think fit to use these moneys for emigration, they should do so. I heard an hon. Member in Committee put the point of view that emigration should be limited within the Empire. These are monies which are to be used for the purposes specified, and under these circumstances we might well limit the migration within the Empire.

But I want to raise this further question—I do desire very earnestly that this House should not allow this Measure to go from it here without some word of advice to the parish councils as to the administration of an Act of this kind. It may not be thought desirable by the House, but it may be a great temptation in the use of the money, not entirely to limit migration within the Empire. Speaking from the point of view of one who is greatly interested in the hopes and possibilities of these emigration schemes, it dons seem to me very desirable that the parish council should consider very carefully what provisions and hopes are held out to the individual they wish to assist. If the matter is looked at from that point of view, I can conceive of no undertaking which can be better supported by the parish councils. I think that this House will realise, and I hope, too, the parish council concerned, who have to deal with this Measure, will realise that to-day there are extensive steps being taken on the responsibility of the Dominion Governments, and that on the authority of the representatives of the Governments of our Dominions a guarantee and undertaking will be given to the authorities here at home that those individuals who do emigrate within the Dominions and Empire are properly looked after and given a reasonable hope of making good. I wish to emphasise this, because I think these are the moneys which are being used as an alternative to relief in this country, and on this ground there is a great deal to be said for some direction being given to the local authorities by the Government Department concerned in their handling of these moneys. That is the sole purpose for which I rose. I am not in the least unfriendly to the Bill, nor am I against the relief and the encouragement which is given to people under this scheme.


I should like to say something in regard to the assistance being given to help emigration to our Dominions. Young men have gone—many of them from my constituency—having taken advantage of assisted passages. When they got to Australia, what happened? They were herded into sheds on the quay. They were given some coffee and bread, and then around came various overseers from distant parts, shouting along the row, "Jobs at 15s. a week." "Jobs at £1 a week." The result was that some of those young men, high spirited as they were, refused to take the 15s. or the £1. They went out upon their own. After travelling the greater part of Australia—I observe hon. Gentlemen opposite smiling—but I mean the greater part of Australia as we know it, from place to place and doing orra work—some hon. Members know what that means—and working their way back again to the coast, they found it impossible, after all, to come back to this country What followed? Three of them came back as stowaways. They are now in Glasgow. They are being pursued in order that they may repay the money included in the passage money.

There is no need to point out the necessity of keeping within the Empire if this is the kind of treatment that is going to be given in our Dominions and in our so-called Empire. I hope those in charge of the Bill will make it perfectly clear that whatever powers are given to the parish councils, that one of those powers shall—whatever the system of emigration—carry with it a guarantee that the kind of treatment I have related will stop. It is not impossible to have a proper system, given men who tell the truth in other parts about trade conditions and about the numbers required. There is nothing insuperable in having the information as to the kind of work wanted, the type of workman and the wages wanted. This matter has been referred to in this House for the last 18 months, to my knowledge, in relation to those going to Canada and Australia and other parts, and their treatment when they arrived there. I hope that the Secretary for Scotland will see to it that whatever is done, some security will be given in the direction I have indicated.

The SECRETARY for SCOTLAND (Mr. Adamson)

The points raised by the hon. and gallant Member for the Pollok Division (Lieut.-Colonel Sir J. Gilmour) and the hon. Member for the Springburn Division (Mr. Hardie) were raised and fairly discussed on Second Reading. Hon. Gentlemen were present when I moved the Second Reading of the Bill, and they will remember that I pointed out that in this Amending Bill we were taking powers, on behalf of the parish councils in Scotland, exactly similar to those possessed by boards of guardians in England, namely, to assist able-bodied unemployed persons who desired to emigrate. If this Bill becomes law, the parish councils for Scotland will be enabled to assist these people. Prior to the introduction of this Bill, the attention of the Scottish Board of Health had been drawn, on numerous occasions, by the parish councils in Scotland to the desirability of them having the same power as the boards of guardians in England in relation to this particular point. That is to say, being able to assist people who desired to emigrate. I pointed out the provision made in Clause 1 of the Bill for this assistance, and I said that it was proposed, if the Bill became an Act, to recommend to the parish councils to work in close touch with the Overseas Settlement Committee. In view of this I do not know that I need go further into the matter, and I trust the House will allow me to get the Bill.

Question, "That the Bill he now read the Third time," put, and agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.

Forward to