§ Sir VICTOR WARRENDER
I beg to move to leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the wordsthis House, having regard to the serious economic conditions prevailing in this country, urges the Government to consider every means of increasing the economic prosperity of the Empire and, in particular, to facilitate emigration in co-operation with the Dominions, and to encourage the development of the natural resources of the Crown Colonies and other Dependencies.4.0 P.M.
I have drawn this Amendment as widely as I could in order that the discussion might be as general as possible, but in the observations which I propose to make I am going to devote myself entirely to the subject of emigration, and leave others to deal with other points connected with this subject. When I was fortunate enough to win the place in the Ballot which gave me this opportunity, I chose this subject of Empire emigration, not from any reason of personal experience or knowledge of the Empire, but because for a long time I have thought that this is far away the most important subject with which any Government of this country has to deal, and, while I wish the House clearly to understand that I do not in any way pose as an expert in this subject, I do claim to represent in a sense the feelings of a large number of people in this country who follow with interest the fortunes of our great Empire, and who are sincerely desirous of seeing those interests furthered as far as possible. In a word, I represent what I might call the opinion of the man in the street.
A great deal of attention in recent times has been given to this subject, and it has figured very prominently in recent 1570 pronouncements of policy coming from the party which is now responsible for the Government of the country. This was given a prominent place in the last King's Speech, and it is an undoubted fact that it is to the Conservative party the people of this country and indeed of the Empire as a whole look for a more rapid development of Imperial policy. I do not wish to infer that the other two parties are indifferent to this great cause, but, having regard to certain Divisions which took place in this House during the last Parliament, I think perhaps it is only natural that the Dominions, at any rate, should consider that the Conservative party is the party to which they must look for material development upon a wider basis. Not only that, but the younger Conservative element in the country which, to my mind, by reason of its great enthusiasm and great sincerity is no mean factor in present day political thought, is very desirous that this subject should be pursued more vigorously than has been the case hitherto.
When one considers the importance that has been laid upon this subject, it is most deplorable that the numbers of migrants who have left this country since the War are as low as they are. No only that, but the amount of money that is being spent on the encouragement of emigration and in facilitating emigration is far too low. In 1913, the number of emigrants who left this country to settle in various parts of the Dominions was 285,000. Last year, the number was less than half, being only 132,000. Strangely enough, the greatest decline is shown in the Continent of British North America. In 1913, 190,000 migrants left this country and went there, and in 1924 there were only 63,000, or, roughly, one-third of the pre-War number. I see from the Estimates which have been brought forward this year that there is a decrease of no less than £345,000 on last year's Estimates, and last year's Estimates were low enough in all conscience. As a matter of fact, only £500,000 has been spent in the last three years to carry out the provisions of the Empire Settlement Act of 1922 Only £500,000 has been spent out of a total of nearly £2,500,000 voted. I am not suggesting that it is entirely the fault of the Government that these figures are as bad as they are; I am not suggesting that it is entirely the fault 1571 of the Dominions, but the fact remains that they are extraordinarily low, and something must be done to get these figures higher, and to encourage general migration from this country to the Dominions. Our need in this country to-day may be briefly summarised as a need for a greater outlet for our surplus population and an outlet for our manufactured goods. The demand in our Dominions may be summarised in three words. They want men, money, and markets. In this country, you have a greater percentage of population to the square mile than in almost any other country in the world.
§ Sir V. WARRENDER
Well, almost any country in the world. In the Dominions you have large tracts of land wholly uncultivated which is capable of good cultivation and of yielding a profitable return. In other words, if we can marry these two conditions, we shall then have a sound basis on which to develop an efficient emigration scheme. Here we have somewhere about 1,250,000 unemployed men. Worse than that, we have over 2,000,000 of our people living in dwellings—if such hovels can be classed as dwellings—and under conditions of which every single Member in this House must be thoroughly ashamed, and which we all want to see remedied at the earliest possible moment. One might almost say that Great Britain is the centre of unemployed souls, and that the Dominions are centres of unemployed land. It is upon that basis we must look for our scheme for any general form of emigration. If we could enable, say, at least 200,000 of those of our people who to-day are living under such distressed conditions and to-day exist on a bare subsistence allowance, who are daily becoming more and more demoralised by the conditions under which they live, losing more and more of their self-respect through no fault of their own, to leave this country and to go and settle overseas in our Dominions, where, instead of being unproductive unemployed, they could become productive colonists, we should at least be doing something to improve the social conditions of this country. So far as I can see, if we continue along the 1572 lines which we are now following, nothing substantial in this direction can possibly be done. We have got to review the whole question. It has got to be built upon a different foundation altogether, and it has got to be approached from an entirely different point of view.
The figures which I gave the House a minute or two ago are sufficient proof of the fact that emigration at the moment is anything but a success, and we have to try and find the reason for its failure. I think one of the reasons for the failure up to date of our emigration scheme is that the man who is on his beam end—the man who is down and out—has not the facility to emigrate. Under nearly all the schemes that are in existence to-day, a man can only emigrate if he can provide a certain sum of money for himself over and above the assistance which is provided by the Government. What on earth is the use of saying to an unemployed man in this country who wants to emigrate and who, we will presume, is acceptable to the Dominion authorities: "Very well, we will assist you to go overseas, but you must provide for yourself somewhere about 40 or 50 before you can go." The thing is an absurdity. The man cannot do it, and it is very little wonder that under such conditions emigration is as unpopular in the country to-day as, unfortunately, it is.
If by some means or other we could take the financial side of this problem more into our own hands than we do at the moment and more out of the hands of the Dominion authorities, I believe we could get over that difficulty. If the Dominions would supply us, or, if they will not supply us, then sell us, large tracts of partially—I say partially—reclaimed land, and leave us to do the financial business, not only would we be able to settle more men of the kind we desire to settle by this scheme, but there would be a less rigid control from the Dominions themselves. They would raise less objection to the class of men going overseas. I believe we can get this land if we do it upon that basis. We could then send our people overseas, and let them understand that, even when they got there, they would still be under the care of their home Government, and that they would not be immediately transferred to the 1573 care of different authorities altogether. A man is naturally suspicious and distrustful of changing, mot only his venue and mode of life, but also the form of Government under which he has been accustomed to live.
I have only sketched, very briefly, the ideas which have been running through my own mind, and they may be entirely wrong and inadequate. I do not propose to elaborate them too much this afternoon, because I do not wish to take up too much time, but something on these lines must be done. It is no use going on in the way that we have done hitherto. If we look at it for a moment from this point of view, we see that last year we spent nearly £50,000,000 upon unemployment insurance. The total cost was, roughly, £50,000,000 last year. I am perfectly aware of the fact that it does not all come out of the pockets of the taxpayer; two-thirds of it is contributed by the employers and the employed, but the fact remains that the whole £50,000,000 is a burden upon the industries of this country, and therefore is a clog on the wheels of social progress.
Not only that, but over and above all this, enormous sums of money have been spent in purely unproductive relief works. I know the work has to be done and it is better than nothing, but it cannot be called productive work. I think it is no exaggeration to say that the unemployed to-day are costing £100,000,000 a year, two-thirds of which comes out of the pockets of the taxpayers. If we are to place any reliance at all on the figures given by the Minister of Labour under the late Government we must not expect any great reduction in the number of the unemployed for several years to come, and he anticipated that there would be 300,000 unemployed for the next few years. Upon that basis we are going to continue paying £100,000,000 per annum for the unemployed, or roughly £100 per head for every unemployed man. Would it not be more economical in the long run to spend £400 or £500 per head on the unemployed men in getting them out of the country and settling them overseas? Would that not be a more economical means of providing these men with a healthier existence and prospects than they have got to-day, instead of leaving them in the 1574 condition in which they find themselves in this country, each costing £100 a year?
I know there is another difficulty, to which I will allude. The class of unemployed men is unfortunately not particularly acceptable to the Dominions, who do not seem to quite realise the quality and character of the average workman, and they are naturally keen to get the best men they can. I know that the Dominions want the trained agriculturist and the man with a little money of his own. Really they want the best of our manhood, but my point is that the best of our manhood is 90 per cent., and the proportion of wasters is very small, or, at least, that is my experience. I think the Government would be rendering a very useful service if they impressed upon the Dominion Governments that the average Englishman has a great genius for adaptability, and has got an even greater genius for making good and pulling through. So long as the Dominions continue to be so strict in their demand for qualifications of suitable settlers I am afraid there is little chance of any substantial progress in emigration.
Perhaps I have suggested rather a bold and broad scheme and one that means more expense to the nation, but any scheme to be of any use has got to be a big and a broad one, and it is only natural that it will cost a good deal of money at the beginning. I would like to point out, however, that every citizen enabled to emigrate at all in time becomes a market for British goods, and his children increase that market. Here I would like to mention that instead of sending out young men to settle in the colonies, I should have thought that the ideal type of emigrant was the married man between 40 and 50, who has a family, as many boys as possible, a man of good reputation and good character who knows how to bring up the boys. That is the type of man who is likely to be turned into a far more useful settler than the younger and less responsible young men which the Dominions seem to demand.
Such a type of married man has got an anchorage, and his wife looks after that. He is less restless and requires less of the gaiety and the hum and hustle of town life, which, unfortunately, is so much demanded by the country young man. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I 1575 seem to carry the House with me in that argument. Having once acquired the land, it would then be necessary for the Government to set up offices in various districts of the country where people desirous of learning the conditions in our Dominions could go for advice, and where they could learn exactly what is going to happen to them when they get out there. Unfortunately, the ignorance of the British people in regard to our Dominions is prodigious, and many of them think that Australia is a country which you can only reach if you bore a hole through the floor of your cottage, and that it is a country not much bigger than England, or, at any rate, only a little bigger than France. They have no conception of the enormous tracts of land ruled over by the English-speaking people. They have no idea of the distance and the enormous limits which our great Empire possesses.
Not only do I think that would be a good means of making emigration a little more popular than it is now, but I think it would help to dispel the sort of suspicion aroused somehow in the minds of the people of this country about leaving their own homes and settling overseas. I think very largely this is due to the fact that men go out and settle and make a success of it, and when they come back, out of sheer bravado they tell us of the great hardships they have had to go through, and they make out what fine fellows they are. We have all done that in our time. It is no use hanging up in railway stations glowing pictures of Colonial life and bright blue skies and waving corn, because the settler is only disappointed if he does not find the actual conditions tally with the conditions drawn by those beautiful posters, and that is the worst possible effect you can produce upon any settler. He should not look back upon what he saw before he met this country, and be able to compare the two in any unfavourable manner at all.
There is one better way by which, I think, the Government could attain the object which I am trying to put before the House. There is in this country to-day a party of Australian schoolboys numbering about 120, of the public school type. I know that those boys are sent over here under the auspices of the Young 1576 Australian League, and their personal expenses are paid for by their parents. They are taken out and looked after by unpaid officers of the League, and they are given cheap transport facilities, and everything possible is done to reduce the cost of their tour. I suggest that that is an idea: which the Government might very well copy. Of course, in this country it should not be limited to public school boys, and it would be far better to have the council school boys, though I would not exclude public school boys.
I should have thought that something could be done to organise similar tours to the one I have mentioned which would enable a small body of the boys to go out and see the Dominions for themselves. After all, it is when we have seen things that we appreciate them. The boys should be sent out on trips varying in range according to the distance they have to travel in conjunction with training ships on which they could travel as passengers, and then they would be able to see for themselves exactly what the Dominions are tike. What is more important still is that the Dominions would be able to see what the British boys are like, and the two together would prove a very valuable advertisement, although I do not like the word, of the possibilities of emigration. That is a suggestion which I throw out for the consideration of the Government. I do not think it would be a very expensive thing to do, and in any case it is one which, if desirable, would attract very considerable voluntary contributions from the public.
Let me, in conclusion, give the House a suitable analogy. If we compare our conditions at home to-day with the condition of a sick man, and if we compare the right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench to a body of eminent physicians, all specialists in their own branch, I think it would be true to say—I am not speaking of the present Government only—that hitherto these eminent doctors have been prescribing for the patient nothing but sedative drugs, which are very good in their way, but they are not a permanent cure. What I want them to do is to try a new line, being careful to avoid the quack remedies of the learned physicians who sit opposite, and give to this unfortunate patient a course of stimulating and invigorating tonics, and then I am sure the patient will be 1577 restored to a measure of health by such means, and will not suffer any longer from the disastrous results which invariably follow the direct application of dangerous and lowering narcotics.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ANGUS McDONNELL
I beg to second the Amendment.
It is with considerable diffidence that I rise to second the Amendment which my hon. Friend has proposed, and I would crave the indulgence of the House for a maiden speech, as although I have had twenty years practical experience in our Overseas Empire in every kind of capacity as man and master, I have had little experience in public speaking. Still, I am emboldened to face the ordeal of a maiden speech on the subject of Empire Development, as my experience, first as a wage-earner and later as a wage-payer on railway construction in our Overseas Empire, has convinced me that the solution of our troubles in this country is bound up with the development of our Overseas Empire. During the present Session I have heard many suggestions with regard to finding a solution of the various problems of this country, but I do not think I have heard a single suggestion that took in the idea of mobilising the whole Empire in order to find a solution of our problems at home. Most of the suggestions that I have heard sounded to me more like a palliative than a cure. I fully believe that if we in this country have only one-half the courage and vision in developing our Empire overseas that our forefathers showed in providing that Empire as a heritage for us, we shall cure, at any rate, some of the troubles from which this country is suffering at the present moment. I do not wish to mention any controversial subject, because any programme for the development of the Empire must have the unqualified support of all political parties in all parts of the Empire. Unless a programme free from party prejudice is adopted, it is bound to be without continuity, and upon continuity alone the success of any programme must entirely depend.
In order to appreciate properly the difficulties that confront us, it is necessary to realise that the Empire geographically and climatically—I leave out India, because it is really neither a Colony nor a Dominion—is divided into 1578 three sections, namely, this country, the self-governing Dominions, and the Crown Colonies and Protectorates. The problems facing these three sections of the Empire are all entirely different, but if each section has a reasonable and tolerant appreciation of the difficulties facing the other two, if they will only work together in a reasonable spirit of reciprocal co-operation, I am sure they can do a great deal to solve the problems of all three. The main difficulty, of course, that faces this country is, as my hon. Friend has said, that of the surplus population, largely represented by unemployed craftsmen in our skilled trades, coal miners, and others. There is also the necessity of finding fresh markets for our produce. The great difficulty of the Dominions is shortage of population, and particularly of people with agricultural knowledge capable of developing raw land. I would point out to the Committee that the self-governing Dominions comprise the whole of that portion of our Empire which is really fit for settlement, in the true sense of the term, by people from this country. The two chief problems facing the Crown Colonies are the necessity for providing increased and cheapened transportation, and the improvement of sanitation in the broadest sense of the word, as affecting man, beast and plant. I would point out, also, that our Crown Colonies and Protectorates are mostly tropical or sub-tropical, and, therefore, they are not fit, in the true sense of the word, for settlement by people from this country. Moreover, they have in most cases large native populations, and in any case they do not suffer from any particular shortage or surplus of labour.
Any movement to bring these three sections of the Empire closer together must of necessity be initiated by this country, as the senior partner in the firm. But there is a difficulty in the way, and it is, to my mind, chiefly this, that the organisation which we set up in the Colonial Office, some 25 years ago, for dealing with the affairs of the Empire, has become obsolete because the Empire has outgrown it. Consequently, I think that the Colonial Office is failing, through no fault of its personnel, in one of its very important functions, namely, the co-ordination of the Empire. I wish to emphasise at once that none of my remarks are made in any spirit of criti- 1579 cism of any of the personnel of any Government Department, because I am convinced that, with the machinery at hand, they have done a great deal more than could possibly have been expected. But if we are going to develop our Empire to the full, the first thing is to develop our organisation for dealing with it, and to bring that organisation up to date. The organisation at the Colonial Office to-day is practically the same as it was 25 years ago, with the exception of a considerable increase in personnel. That increase in personnel, however, is largely among the subordinate staff. It is true that three new Departments have been created, for dealing respectively with the Middle East, the Irish Free State, and Overseas Settlement. Nevertheless, the actual organisation is practically the same as it was 25 years ago.
If one turns to Class II of the Estimates—Salaries and Expenses of the Colonial Office—I think it will be found that this Service is probably one of the cheapest, if not the cheapest, of any of the great Departments of State in this country, while the responsibilities of the Department are as great as, if not greater than, those of many of the others. Class V of these Estimates really represents our national contribution towards the expenses of our overseas Empire, and it will be found, in the Estimates for the current year, that the expenditure under this heading—excluding Overseas Settlement and the Middle Fast, which cannot be compared with previous years—is only £1,216,000. If we compare this with the same Estimate under the same heading twenty years ago—namely, for the year 1905–6, we have to deduct £586,000, which represents loans to Tanganyika, Nyasaland, and Northern Rhodesia, and certain expenses in connection with the Irish Free State, leaving our net contribution towards the expenses of our Overseas Empire at only £630,000. If one turns to page 52 of the Estimates, one finds that there are estimated credits amounting to some £261,000, and, if we take that from the £630,000, we find that our total net contribution to the expenditure of our overseas Empire for this year amounts in all only to £370,000.
Under the same heading in the Estimates for 1905–06, the net expenditure was estimated at some £1,260,000. The 1580 point I wish to make is that, when our Export trade to our Colonial Overseas Empire twenty years ago was worth only some £71,000,000, we were prepared to contribute towards the expenses of our Overseas Empire, under Class (5), some £1,250,000; but that at present, when our Exports to our Colonial Overseas Empire total about £200,000,000 our contribution under Class (5) in the Estimates is only £630,000; or, if the credits be deducted, some £370,000.
I submit that in our overseas Empire we have, not only the greatest heritage in the world, but the greatest trust. With the permission of the House, I should like just to outline the organisation that we have for dealing with it, and to make three suggestions to the Government—firstly, with regard to getting a greater spirit of reciprocal cooperation between the three sections of the Empire; secondly, with regard to stimulating emigration to our overseas Dominions; and, thirdly, with regard to developing our Crown Colonies and Protectorates. In the first place, I would point out that the Colonial Office, as at present organised, is divided into two groups of Departments, the one dealing exclusively with the affairs of the self-governing Dominions, and the other being directly responsible for the administration of government in our Crown Colonies. There is, however, absolutely no connection between these two groups of Departments except in the person of the Secretary of State, the Permanent Under-Secretary, and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary, and it is not surprising to find that, just as there is little or no connection between these two groups in the Colonial Office, so there is practically no connection between the Dominions and the Crown Colonies. Of course there are exceptions, like the Agreement between Canada and the West Indies, or the Pacific Islands, which have been handed over to the Commonwealth of Australia for administration but, broadly speaking and in the main, there is little or no connection between the two.
I cannot emphasize too strongly that in the main, as far as the Dominions are concerned, the Crown Colonies might belong to a foreign Power, and that in the Crown Colonies the peoples of the Dominions are regarded, both officially and unofficially as "Colonials." That, I 1581 submit, is a state of affairs which should not be allowed to exist. It is the organisation—certainly not the personnel—of the Colonial Office that is really responsible for it. I submit, further, that, unless we can bring these two great sections of our overseas Empire closer together, we shall never be able to get Britishers who have been born overseas to realise the value, and also the responsibility, of their Imperial heritage. I believe the problem of holding the Empire together in future years is not going to be an easy one. The only way in which it can be done is by making every Britisher, in whatever part of the British Empire he may have been born, realise both the responsibility and the value of that heritage which has been handed down to us by our forefathers.
I suggest, therefore, for the consideration of the Government, that the first step towards promoting a better understanding between all three sections of the Empire would be for the Colonial Office. to follow the example of the Foreign Office in relation to the terms of engagement of personnel for the Service, so that in future all new appointments to the Colonial Service should be made for service either at home or abroad, and that, when the present officials of the Colonial Office have completed their service—and I fully realise that their terms of engagement must, above all things, be respected—no new appointments should be made to senior positions in the Colonial Office, unless the officials to be appointed have had actual experience in Crown Colonies, whether such appointments be in the Crown Colonies Department or in the self-governing Dominions Department of the Colonial Office. All such officials should have had five years' service in the Crown Colonies, and have had experience in the self-governing Dominions. I prefer, if it could be arranged, that they should be seconded to the Civil Service of one of the self-governing Dominions for a period of two years. I quite agree that it is most important that the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary should be given every opportunity of visiting the Colonies whenever that be possible, so that they can get first-hand knowledge of the problems with which they have to deal. But, after all, these gentlemen are only transitory, migratory beings. The Secretary of State 1582 for the Colonies of yesterday is either the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the head of a great trade union to-day and, if it he important—and I agree that it is most important—that these gentlemen should have an opportunity of visiting our overseas countries, and getting first-hand information, surely it is far more important that equal opportunities should be given to the permanent officials of the Colonial Office, whom nothing but death or time can remove. If such a procedure were adopted, it would also go a very long way to do away with the feeling which exists in the minds of those in the Colonial Service overseas in the Crown Colonies that the general staff officers, as the senior officials in the Colonial Office may be called, have no actual knowledge of the conditions under which the front-line troops in the Colonies themselves have to carry out their duties, often on the very outskirts of civilisation. From my own short experience in the tropics. I can fully realise the meaning of the clause in the old Scottish litanyFrom ghosties and ghoulies and long-leggety beasties, and all things that go 'bang' in the night, Good Lord, deliver us.That clause has a very real meaning to the solitary white man on the outskirts of civilisation in Africa, although it may not have the slightest meaning to the man who has spent the whole of his life in Whitehall.
The next suggestion that I would make for the consideration of the Government, for the purpose of promoting better feeling throughout the Empire, is that real effect should be given to Section (2) of the third Resolution agreed to at the Imperial Economic Conference in 1923, relating to Imperial Preference and public contracts. That Resolution reads as follows(1) That this Imperial Economic' Conference re-affirms the principle that in all Government contracts effective preference be given to goods made and materials produced within the Empire, except where undertakings entered into prior to this Conference preclude such a course or special circumstances render it undesirable or unnecessary.(2) That so far as practicable efforts be made to ensure that the materials used in carrying out contracts be of Empire production.(3) That State, provincial and local government authorities should be en- 1583 couraged to take note of the foregoing Resolutions.This Resolution could be put into effect without legislation, and would go a very long way to overcome the feeling which exists—I am not prepared to say whether it is justified or not, but it does exist—in at least one of the self-governing Dominions, that the Crown Colonies and Protectorates are 113t as the preserve of this country, and that the producers of goods in our own Dominions overseas are not only not getting equal opportunities for competing with the manufacturers in this country in regard to goods purchased on Government account, but that there is actual discrimination against them. I believe that this impression would be entirely wiped out if the practice of calling for tenders by private invitation were discontinued, and if, when goods were purchased on Government account, invitations for tenders were advertised publicly throughout the whole Empire. I submit that this procedure should be followed, in any case, in relation to goods purchased by the Crown Agents for the Crown Colonies with money derived from taxation in the Crown Colonies themselves. This would give our self-governing Dominions a very real preference as full partners in the commonwealth of British nations, and would go a long way to offset the fact that in our markets we can give them only a very small preference in return for the very considerable preference which they give us in their markets. I am told that the cash value of the preference which they gave us in the Dominion markets in 1924 amounted to £12,000,000. Unless we adopt some such procedure as this, we have little right to complain when the Dominions place orders in foreign countries for the goods that they want, though when this is done it is always the subject of adverse comment in the newspapers of this country.
To turn to my second point, with regard to assisting emigration to our self-governing Dominions, I do not want to repeat what my hon. Friend has said, but only to endorse whole-heartedly every word of it. I speak as an emigrant. I believe it would be very much cheaper for this country to hear the whole financial responsibility of paying a man's passage to the Colonies, giving him subsistence, and helping him to purchase a farm on a 1584 20 years' purchase basis, or something of that sort, than it is to give him unemployment benefit, which at the best only gives him the bare necessities of life, and does not give his children a chance in the world. I believe any money spent in assisting people from this country to our Dominions can be looked upon as an Imperial and a national investment, whereas any money spent in giving merely unemployment benefit must be looked upon in the nature of absolutely dead expenditure. I think the figures of trade and population in our overseas Dominions prove that. In 1904 the population of Canada, New Zealand and Australia, I believe, was 10,600,000, at which time we exported to those countries goods of British manufacture amounting only to ½35,000,000. With a population in the same countries of between 17,000,000 and 18,000,000, we exported in 1924 goods to the value of £111,000,000. The value of the Dominions is again borne out by the amount per head purchased in the Dominions of goods of British manufacture. Speaking from memory, I think it is £16 per head in New Zealand, £12 in Australia, £3 in Canada, and when you come to another of our best customers, a foreign country, the United estates, it is about 5s. per head, so the man who goes to our own countries overseas is worth far more to us than a man who goes to a foreign country. He is an investment.
Turning to our Crown Colonies and Protectorates, it is here more than anywhere else that I think the need for reorganisation of the Colonial Office is becoming most apparent, and it is in this connection I submit that our national contribution towards the expenses of our overseas Empire is neither commensurate with our responsibility nor sufficient to safeguard our commercial interests in those countries. I do not believe it is generally realised in this country that the Secretary of State is responsible not only for the proper administration of government in the ordinary political sense, but also for the running of all the public utilities and public services in most of our Crown Colonies which services ordinarily speaking, in a white man's country do not come under Government control. With the exception of British Honduras, Bermuda, the Bahamas and British Guiana, in most of the local legislatures there is an official majority, the unofficial members 1585 of which are appointed as a rule not elected. In any case the Crown has reserved the right to legislate in those Colonies by Orders in Council. So the responsibility of the Secretary of State is absolutely direct for all forms of administration.
Another thing, I do not believe the average man realises is that these Crown Colonies, which do not include India, Burma, Egypt or the Sudan, have an area of 2,600,000 square miles, a population of 48,000,000, and purchased goods of British manufacture last year amounting to £50,000,000. It is especially with regard to research work, improving the health of man, beast and plant—because they all count in those countries—that I claim that we are not living up to our national responsibilities, It is true that, as guardians of those Colonies and of the native races, we authorise them, at their own expense, to do research work of all kinds. But our national contributions for the purpose of collating the results of their efforts, so that all the Colonies can profit by the mistakes and successes of their sister Colonies, is absolutely ridiculous. In the present Estimate the whole sum amounts to 119,500, only £1,500 more than was voted 20 years ago for the same purpose, when the importance of this work was not so generally realised, especially with regard to tropical diseases. This £19,500 is subdivided as follows: £300 for the University of Hong Kong, £12,500 for the Imperial Institute and Mineral -Resources Bureau, which is I believe in England. £1,000 for the Tropical Diseases Bureau, £1,000 for the Bureau of Entomology, £2,000 for scientific research in connection with the development of the economic resources of our Colonies and Protectorates, £2,000 for the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in the West Indies, and £1,000 for the National Council for Combating Venereal Diseases, in all, only £7,000 as our national contribution in connection with medical, veterinary and agricultural research. This is actually £12,500 less than was voted 20 years ago to aid agricultural research work in the West Indies alone.
During the last 20 years, where real progress has been made in tropical countries, the chief factor has been that the pioneer has been able to take advantage of what the scientists have 1586 found out by research work for him. I believe not only the future development of our trade in the Crown Colonies, but the maintenance of existing trade depends upon us giving adequate, support to research of this kind. My complaint is that, though successive Governments have apparently realised the necessity of allowing the Crown Colony Governments at their own expense to run public utilities and public services, and to do a, certain amount of research work, they have entirely failed to provide any organisation to act as technical advisers in these matters to the Secretary of State or the officials responsible for the administration of the Colonies to the Secretary of State. Just as there is no co-ordination between the two groups of Departments in the Colonial Office—dealing with the affairs of the Dominions on the one side and the administration of the Crown Colonies on the other—so there is no co-ordination between the various Departments directly responsible for the administration of groups of Crown Colonies or the individual Colonies.
The Colonial Office, as at present organised, is endeavouring to do the biggest wholesale technical business the world has ever seen through a number of non-technical, watertight retail compartments. The senior official responsible to the Secretary of State for one or a group of Crown Colonies has to make recommendations with regard to proposals emanating from the Colonies dealing with political administration, sanitation, education, research work and all the public services and utilities. It is simply beyond the power of any one man to do the work properly. Furthermore, I do not think it is fair to put that burden on any one man's shoulders. To ask a man to do all this is to put him in the position of the giraffe in the circus, which the farmer looked at for 10 minutes and then said, "There is no such animal." In a circular issued in February, 1904, by Mr. Alfred Lyttleton, defining the duties of Crown Agents, it is laid down that when important harbour works, railway works, or water or drainage schemes are projected, the Crown Agents are authorised, as the agents of the Colonies, and at the Colonies' expense, to engage consulting engineers and to place contracts for the purpose of carrying out those works. In other words, they are authorised to 1587 engage specialists for the construction of certain works of a civil engineering character. Still there is no provision in the Colonial Office itself for any organisation from which the Colonial Office officials, responsible for the whole administration of a Crown Colony or a group of Colonies, can turn to get advice, as from a general practitioner as opposed to the highly expensive consulting specialist, upon matters of routine dealing with the administration of these many Government run public utilities and services.
The functions of the Crown Agents are quite definite. They are the financial and purchasing agents of the Colonies in this country, paid by the Crown Colonies, and as such cannot give advice to the Colonial Office on questions of policy referred to the Secretary of State by their masters who are paying them. If the Colonial Office is going to take advice from the Crown Agent on technical policies, it is the equivalent to the Secretary of State giving authority to the tail to wag the dog. Therefore I submit it is necessary to provide in the Colonial Office departments to correspond with the various technical departments in the Crown Colonies to deal with everyday questions regarding the administration of medical and sanitary work, transportation, and public utilities and services generally. The officials in charge of these departments should be responsible for the inspection of the services they represent in the Colonies, for the selection and interchange of personnel, and act as advisers to the senior officials and Secretary of State. Half their time should be spent in visiting the Colonies and making themselves conversant with the problems to be met on the spot. They should also be given opportunities of visiting the Dominions and foreign countries, because many problems which have to be met in the Colonies have been solved elsewhere.
The growth of our export trade to the Crown Colonies would more than justify the expense. It has grown in 20 years from £17,000,000 to £56,000,000. There is plenty of work for such departments in the Colonial Office manned by whole-time experts, and I am firmly convinced that the future development of these Colonies depends on the cheapening of transportation and the 1588 fighting of tropical diseases, inimical to life of all kinds, and I believe the desired result can best be reached by installing such technical departments as I suggest in the Colonial Office for the purpose of co-ordination and advising in connection with administration. With regard to medical research, I do not believe the average man realises that the native inhabitants of our tropical Crown Colonies suffer to a very great extent from the very same diseases that make those Colonies really unsuitable for settlement by the people of this country. If we can improve the health of the people in those countries it is going to increase the amount of exportable goods they produce, which is in direct relation to the amount of imports they buy from this country. Therefore, I submit to the Government that they should appoint two Select Committees, one to see if further powers cannot be given to the Overseas Settlement Board with regard to the spending of further funds or advancing the whole of the cost of emigration, especially in relation to the cost of unemployment, and the other to go into the question of the reorganisation of the Colonial Office with regard to establishing technical departments or subsidising existing institutions for research with a view to rendering more efficient the technical services and improving the conditions of health obtaining in our tropical possessions upon which the prosperity and the development of those possessions absolutely depends.
§ 5.0. P.M.
§ Mr. SIDNEY WEBB
This Amendment has been drawn in very wide terms and covers a great deal of ground, but the hon. Member who moved it confined himself almost entirely to an attempt to encourage emigration to distant parts of the Empire, and in a speech of charm and distinction he certainly put before the House very significant facts and very suggestive figures with regard to emigration. The hon. Member who followed him dealt rather with the other side of the question covered in the very wide Amendment, but, I think, concurred in the suggestion. The hon. Member drew the attention of the House in very considerable detail to the imperfections of the Colonial Office. I am not sure whether the Overseas Dominions would or would not agree to that criticism of the Colonial Office. I think 1589 they would be quite disposed to agree—at least, they were when I had anything to do with them—to the criticism, though not exactly from the point of view of the hon. Member, because I do not think the suggestion that has been made would be likely to produce harmony amongst all parts of the Empire, because, after all, even in the Crown Colonies, there is a public opinion, and a sense that they are paying by their own taxation for whatever work is carried on. My experience, which was a long time ago, is that they are more apt to be critical of the Colonial Office for endeavouring to instruct them and keep them right. I was glad the hon. Member gave his opinion that the Colonial Office was the cheapest of all our Government Departments and at the same time the one charged with the greatest responsibilities.
There were two suggestions with which the hon. Member concluded which seemed to me of the greatest possible value, and I venture to hope the Government will give them very serious consideration. It was suggested that two committees should be appointed, one to consider why we are not getting on better with regard to migration within the Empire, and to see whether something more cannot be done; and the other to see whether something cannot be done to increase the amount of scientific research that is being conducted, and which might be conducted to a very much greater extent if the Colonial Office could only get the necessary support from the Treasury. I venture to suggest that those two committees are a very useful suggestion, and I hope they may be favourably considered. Of course, in dealing with either of these committees, it is necessary to remember that we must not set one part of the Empire against another. Both those Committees would have to include within their scope the whole of the British Commonwealth of Nations, not even excluding India, and the committee on technical information and scientific research would necessarily have to include in its purview the whole range of the subject, and be representative, not of one part of the Empire only, but of all parts.
Let me go back to something I wanted to bring before the House about emigration. The hon. and gallant Member for Dartford (Lieut.-Colonel McDonnell) said something to which I want to emphasise. He said this must be a matter of 1590 agreement among all political parties. I feel that we ought to pay great regard to that in connection with emigration. No greater disservice could be done than to put forward any emigration policy as a party matter. The hon. Member for Grantham (Sir V. Warrender) carefully avoided that. He did not make any claim on behalf of the party to which he belongs, and rightly, if I may venture to say so, because if we want this thing to go, we must have the whole country behind us. It is sometimes said that we on this side of the House are not very keen on emigration. I think it is worth while considering exactly what we mean. Speaking for myself, I hope to see the time come when it will be as easy, and as much a matter of course, for a man or woman, or a family, to move from Middlesex to Australia, Canada or South Africa as from here to Yorkshire or from here to Cornwall. We must not overlook the fact that it is not so easy at present, for all sorts of reasons; but that ought to be our ideal, and I do not want it to be assumed that we have any objection to people moving to better themselves, not merely materially, but to get into an environment which is more suitable, to give them wider opportunity, whether in one part of the British Empire or another. That is what we have got to aim at.
What we feel on this side of the House is a very strong objection to anyone in any sense being forced to emigrate. No one suggests at the present time that there should be any legal compulsion, but there is sometimes an economic compulsion to emigrate, which is very objectionable. You cannot give an actual definition of it. You cannot take any steps to prevent it, perhaps, but the emigrant who feels that he is forced out by economic compulsion, does not go in any sense willingly, does not carry away a very good impression of the country from which he is extruded, and does not become a contented settler in the country to which he goes. I do not want to go back to the past, but you cannot believe that what has happened in the Highlands of Scotland in past generations, whereby so many people have gone to North America, is a good process. I am not blaming anyone, but tens of thousands of families felt they had no chance of living in the Highlands, and that they were driven out against their will. That 1591 is not the kind of thing we want to see repeated in this century.
If you can have your emigration voluntary, in the right sense of the word, then I am in favour of the largest possible amount of freedom of movement in the country, and if anyone wants to go—and I can believe it is very much better for various classes of people that they should get a chance in a new country with less impediments—then the Government ought to give them every possible assistance to enable them to go. But the method of assistance involves consideration. I am afraid the bright idea of the hon. Member that we should bring the landless man to the manless land, when you come to look into it, tends to vanish. The hon. and gallant Member for Dartford quite rightly said that what was wanted was people of agricultural knowledge. How many among the 1,200,000 of our unemployed have got that agricultural knowledge, or would make good in Australia or Canada? As a matter of fact, to begin with, a very large proportion of these men are in the engineering and shipbuilding trades. They are skilled artificers. The same is the case in the cotton mills. You are not going to suggest to these skilled artificers that they would be wise to go to Australia or Canada, even if you enabled them to do so. Every winter in Toronto and Montreal the pressure of the unemployed is comparable in acuteness to that in this country, and the trouble is—the Dominions know it too well—that, save in very exceptional cases, you cannot hope to transfer the skilled artificer and the urban person to these new countries, settle them on the land and be at all sure that they will make good upon that land.
There are exceptional cases, and I do not want to stand in the way of those exceptional cases; but the programme mapped out by the hon. Member for Dartford on this subject would involve heavy expenditure. It would involve acquiring the land and clearing the land, and it would involve maintenance not only over the first harvest, but, I am afraid, generally speaking, longer than that. It would involve working capital to a considerable amount, and we know, from experience in this matter, that it costs somewhere in the region of £1,000 to set up a smallholder with his family. If you are going to spend 1592 anything in the nature of £1,000 to transfer one family and set up that family in Australia, the question immediately arises, why should you exile that family from this country? Why not set them up in this country, if you are ready to put them on the land? I am not at all sure that the proportion of smallholders who have made good in this country is not as large as the proportion of smallholders who have settled in Queensland, or one of those places, and made good there. If you are prepared to spend anything like £1,000 a family to settle them on the land, why not settle them in this country, at any rate, to a much greater extent than you have done hitherto?
Even if we were prepared, is the Chancellor of the Exchequer prepared to agree to the proposal? Then, do we want our agricultural labourers to go abroad, because, quite clearly, they would have the very best right to be applicants. And if we do not want the agriculturists to go abroad, is it suggested that it would be wise to spend all that money in setting up the engineer, the shipwright, or the cotton spinner on an Australian farm or a Canadian small holding? I am afraid we should be exposing them to very considerable hardship and disappointment in the majority of cases. We should also be letting the British Government in for a very considerable loss, and you would find the Dominion Governments objecting, because, even if you propose to pay the whole expense, those Dominion Governments would necessarily want to be assured that we were not sending people who would be likely to become a charge on their resources in the near future.
For that reason, I want to suggest that, whatever we can do in the way of encouraging people to settle on the land in this country or in Australia, the money cannot be taken out of the Unemployment Benefit Fund. It is a little delusive to say we are spending a million pounds a week on what hon. Members shortly call "the dole," and then suggest how very much better that could be spent in this other way. I have no doubt a good deal of it could be better spent in this way and in other ways, but you cannot withdraw any part of that without leaving the people who would otherwise receive it outside. Therefore, that financial resource fades away. Emigration on anything like a large scale, and in 1593 anything like a proper proportion, means an expensive operation, and the cost must be a new charge on the Exchequer.
§ Sir V. WARRENDER
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman understood my argument; perhaps I did not make it clear. What I intended to put to the House was this. By sending overseas a large number of the surplus population you will be able to economise in another direction. I never suggested spending the Unemployment Fund in placing settlers overseas. What I suggested was that if you could settle in the Dominions 200,000 souls from among the unemployed of this country, you would be able to save at the rate of £100 per annum that their maintenance to-day is costing.
§ Mr. WEBB
I was coming to that point. I am prepared to admit that if you do make large expenditure, capital expenditure, you may expect that there would be a diminution in the future charge on your unemployment fund, but it would be necessary to explain to the Treasury that, in the meantime, the amount spent on emigration would be an additional expense It would, no doubt, he wise to incur the expenditure, but I am afraid that it does constitute a difficulty that you impose a very considerable increased expenditure. I am in favour of that increased expenditure. It would pay this country thoroughly, quite apart from any of the points in dispute, to give an opportunity to individuals or families who want. to go out, and who are Prevented because they cannot see their way on account of the cost. It would pay the country to send them out; but I should probably select them in a different order from the selection that would be favoured by the two hon. Members who have spoken. I am not sure that I should not send out the women first. If we are to talk about surplus population—it is not a phrase that I like to use—we can more accurately say that there is a surplus of women in the country, and, certainly, there is more need for women in domestic service in Australia and Canada. Therefore, I would, first, have a scheme for women to go.
Secondly, I am inclined to think that 40 or 50 sounds a great age. I would send the newly married man, with the children still in the making so that they could actually grow up in their childhood in the new country. Then I would put in a word 1594 for the young men: the young men with their adventurous spirit. I would prefer that they should be adventurous in a new land than be adventurous in this country. However the emigrants may be selected, so long as you give an opportunity to people who, bona fide, want to go, the Government would be very wise to extend much more generosity in the way of grants to enable these people to go. But it will be necessary to look after them when they have gone. The journey of the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Wignall) to the Overseas settlements in Australia, and of Miss Bondfield to Canada, have shown that whilst, on the whole, the emigration has been well-conducted and is producing satisfactory results, there are evils and great possibilities of evil which require to be looked into. Therefore, it will not be enough for the Treasury to pay the initial cost. There must be some way of securing supervision over the settlers, without too much leading strings. Consequently a committee could do very useful work in that direction.
I should like to say something as to what has very often been called the backwardness of Australia or the failure of Australia to live up to the responsibilities imposed upon it by those millions upon millions of acres, the figures of which we cannot keep in our heads and can seldom appreciate because of the smallness of our maps. It is often said that, on the whole, it is not creditable to Australia that they have only something like 7,000,000 people there, after all these generations. I want the House to remember that the populations of Australia and the United States of America have increased and are increasing at much the same rate in geometrical proportions. No one can complain of the United States not having a big population. The population now is something like 125,000,000. On looking up the figures to-day, I found that 100 years ago the population of the United States was about 8,000,000. That is to say, the population of the United States 100 years ago was only what the population of what Australia is now.
The whole of the advance in the population of the United States from 8,000,000 to 125,000,000 has taken place in 100 years. That moans that the population has doubled itself four times. The population of Australia is doubling itself at 1595 about the same rate as has the population of the United States. Australia has been settled for only 100 years, and it has advanced during that time in population at about as big a rate as did the United States at the corresponding stage in its growth. The United States was doubling its population about every 25 years, 200 years ago. It went up from 1,000,000 to 2,000,000, then from 2,000,000 to 4,000,000, and from 4,000,000 to 8,000,000. That is what Australia has been doing at a corresponding stage in its growth.
If you are going to try to prophecy from figures, which is always very rash, you might say that in the next 100 years Australia may have as big a population as the United States has now. That is to say, that the past history of Australia would warrant, an extension of the curve. Consequently, I do not think we have any reason to reproach Australia with slackness in regard to the increase in population. As a matter of fact, its population has increased at quite a satisfactory rate, and it will increase still more if we help Australia by sending more people out there. Just as it took the United States a century to get from 1,000,000 to 8,000,000, so it has taken Australia a century to get from 1,000,000 to 8,000,000, and the United States has taken another century to get from 8,000,000 to 125,000,000. I hope that Australia will go in the same direction.
There is another point with which this Amendment deals. It asks for the development of the Empire as well as emigration. In view of some recent criticism I should like to say that I do not know any part of the Empire in which so much development has take place, relatively, and at so progressive and so satisfactory a rate as in our West African Colonies. I knew something about them 40 years ago. The West African Colonies, the Gold Coast and Nigeria are exhibiting most remarkable development. In my time, the Gold Coast produced no cocoa whatsoever. Even 20 years ago the Gold Coast produced no cocoa, whereas at the present time it produces one-half or two-thirds of the whole cocoa of the world. It has done that in 20 years. My point is that that has grown up entirely by native production, production on a small scale. I do not believe you can hurry 1596 the development of these places by large capital exploitation. When we look at our own industrial system in this country, we realise that, undoubtedly, we increased our production greatly from 1750 to 1850, but at what a cost? At what a cost of ruin to the rural section of the community, and at the expense of millions of operatives?
I hope there will be no attempt at that sort of development in any of our Crown Colonies. I would rather see the Gold Coast and Nigeria go on as they are now doing, than that there should be any attempt to introduce the factory system. with all the horrors of an unregulated factory system, as there would be. I do not like the Hut tax, or any similar legislation which deliberately seeks to drive the native to sell his labour for wages. There ought not to be any compulsory labour, even as a quick cut to profit. I suggest that in our haste for the development of the Empire, while we must pursue a wise policy of emigration, and while we want voluntary and individual development of industry, we ought not to attempt to supersede what I might call the native system of industry by any introduction of the factory system or large capital expenditure for which the country may not be fit.
I would ask the Under-Secretary to see whether he cannot consider favourably the setting up of two committees, one to consider what step forward can be made in emigration, and the other to consider what step forward can be made in scientific research.
§ Captain HOLT
It is with some trepidation that I rise to address the House for the first time, especially on this very important matter. I would not have ventured to intervene but for the fact that. I am Dominion-born, and that I hope any observations I may make will help forward the objects set out in the Resolution. I do not think that anybody can have listened to the discussion that took place on unemployment last week without realising, if they had not realised it before, that this question of unemployment is the most serious question that faces the country at the present time. Anyone who listened to the discussion must have come to the conclusion that it is essential that we should have new markets if we are to resume our position in world trade, and get back to the times 1597 of prosperity which we formerly enjoyed. Day by day the markets of the world are being more and more shut against us, and there remain the markets of our Dominions, and possibly the markets of South America, which can be developed to our advantage.
While I do not think that, in a general way, Government interference can do a great deal to help things along, yet I do think that within the Empire assistance from His Majesty's Government can do a good deal. I would ask the House to remember, that in these matters we must look at it from both points of view. There is, first of all, the viewpoint of ourselves, and secondly, the viewpoint of the Dominions. The right hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Webb) has made a good many remarks with which I entirely agree; but it is certain that the increase of emigration which both sides of the House wish to see is not something that can be undertaken lightly, and it is not something that can be easily attained. On the other hand, from my own personal experience, both at home and abroad, and from inquiries which I have made, I have come to the conclusion that there are, undoubtedly, a very large number of people in this country who will be glad to go out to our Dominions and set up there new homes for themselves. From the Dominions point of view, if we are to develop markets there, it is apparent that they must get very much larger populations. With the population they have, they provide very good markets for us. They take an enormous amount of our goods, quite out of all proportion to anything that foreign countries do. As the hon. and gallant Member for Dartford (Lieut.-Colonel McDonnell) said, the increase in their consumption has gone up very rapidly with the increase in their population.
The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken pointed out that, on the whole, there is not a very great number of agricultural labourers or agriculturists in this country who can be spared, and I agree with him. But I cannot agree with him when he says that the other people in this country, artisans and so on, are no use to the Dominions. I think that it will be found that a great many people without agricultural experience have gone out to the Dominions and have, been very successful. On the other hand, I think 1598 that it is very necessary that these people should be looked after when they have gone out. If the Government are going to take a very largely increased number of people for settlement in the Dominions it is essential that these people should be settled on their own land. It is essential that they should really advantage themselves by going out. It is essential that they should have a really good opportunity of making a success in their new country.
In the past on many occasions—personally I have known a good many cases—people have gone out in the rather haphazard way in which we have developed our Empire, and have been what I may call dumped on the land, unsuited and untrained. They have failed there, and have drifted into the towns or, in many instances, drifted home, and there is no worse advertisement for the Empire as a whole than for these people to come back feeling that they have been unjustly treated and that they have not had a fair chance, and saying that is no good for people to go to the Dominions, because they are worse off there than they are at home. For that reason, I would advocate, if the Committee is set up, that it should go very carefully into what is known as the group system of settlement. This group system has many obvious advantages. Under that system the people are taken out, they are either put to work with settlers who are already there, or else they are put in their own homes, which they will finally acquire, and while they are gaining experience and working up their own land they will be under the supervision of instructors and of the Government.
It is essential that they should have supervision until they become accustomed to the, strangeness of their surroundings and find out what the new customs are, and what is the best way to work their new land. People who go out from home and settle haphazard in a new country are oppressed in the first place with a very great loneliness and a very great feeling of homesickness. Under the group system they have at least the advantage of having around them people who come from their own home, or adjoining districts, people who have roughly the same customs, who speak their own language, and who are willing to help them on in every way. It has been my experience 1599 that a great many emigrants fail in the Dominions absolutely through that feeling of loneliness, that feeling it may be of being a stranger in a strange land, and the feeling that they are not altogether wanted. I think that if this group system were carried out—I know that it has been carried out in a small way in various Dominions—on a large scale, it would be the finest and best way of settling emigrants.
I know that there would be the objection that this is all going to be very costly. I am afraid that it is. I know that it is extremely unpopular to advocate any further expenditure at the present time, but I would submit that on this occasion the expenditure is in the nature of a terminal charge. I submit that, by removing from the Unemployment Fund large numbers in this country, you create an asset for the Dominions, and you provide a potential buyer of goods which you produce in this country. I cannot think of any greater asset to the Empire as a whole than a contented, prosperous, happy settler. I submit that it would be well worth the while of the Government to make a very careful investigation into this matter. Our Empire has been developed and built up by people who took long views ahead. I think that we shall continue to build it up in the same degree if the Government in this case take a long view. There is room for a great expansion of population in all the Dominions. All the Dominions are very rich. They have all got large quantities of land, which is not settled, and all the Dominions want settlers on that land. It is vital for them to increase their population, and if we in this country do not take advantage of the heritage which we have to our hand there, in the end I am very much afraid that there will be an influx of foreigners into the Dominions which, to my mind, would have a very undesirable effect on the Empire as a whole.
I would ask the Government again to listen to the suggestions of setting up an inquiry. I realise that this is not a matter which can be done in a day. It is not a matter which should be hurried too rapidly, but I think that the time has come when we might take a forward step in this matter. As the hon. Member who moved the Motion said, the drop in the number of emigrants from this country 1600 has been very marked since the close of the War. Before the War there were many people who regarded the Dominions as a place to which they could go themselves, but in present circumstances it is often practically impossible for any of those people to go out to-day. I submit that it is worth our while, from the point of view of building up the Empire, to have a very careful investigation into this matter to see whether it would not pay us financially, as well as morally, to advance this money.
There is another point which, I am afraid, raises a matter of controversy. That is the question of Empire preference. Speaking from my knowledge of at least one Dominion I think that there was a distinct feeling of soreness in the Empire last year when the four resolutions were defeated in this House. I am sure the fact that these four resolutions are going to be brought in this year will have a very good effect. I would ask the Government to take every opportunity of extending this preference so far as they can. We all know that the Prime Minister has given definite pledges that there shall be no taxation of food, but I believe that there are still various products which come from the Empire which are taxed in this country, and the Government might—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)
The hon. and gallant Member is now referring to a matter which might involve legislation, and I am afraid that this is not the opportune time for raising it.
§ Captain HOLT
I must apologise if I have transgressed. May I turn for a minute to a question which I do not think has been touched on here to-night. That is the question of inter-communication in the Empire and the question of transport. I am glad that the Government are carrying out the airship policy which they have announced. It is vital that we should get more into touch with our Dominions and he drawn more together. Certain parts of the Dominions have suffered because the means of inter-communication have been very had and in some parts of the Empire news which has come from home has arrived there very much tainted by foreign views owing to having to pass through foreign countries. I would suggest that a fruitful field in 1601 the future is the development of transport and inter-communication between the countries of the British Empire. I am convinced that the real prosperity of this country is bound up in the development of the Empire, but I would submit that the first measure to take is the redistribution of the population of the Empire and then the redistribution of the trade. What I would like to see is a British family of nations, prosperous, happy, contented, on good terms with all the world, but perhaps on a little better terms with one another. I am convinced that if we can obtain that it may right all our troubles.
§ Sir ROBERT HAMILTON
It is a pleasant duty to congratulate the hon. and gallant Member for Upton (Captain Holt) on having contributed a speech which, I think, the House appreciates from one who comes from the Dominions, and whose remarks are based on personal knowledge of Empire development. We all look forward to hearing him again on similar matters. We all owe a debt to the hon. Member for Grantham (Sir V. Warrender) who brought forward this Motion. It is very desirable that we should from time to time take stock of what is done, and what we think should be done, for the better development of the Empire. I am not going to enter into any argument as to which party in the House has deserved most in this matter. I think that that had better be left aside. We are all concerned here in doing the best we can for the Empire as a whole. When one part of the Empire suffers the whole Empire suffers. At the present time that part of the Empire which has suffered most during the War has been our own country. We were hit hardest and suffered most, and as we suffer so the whole of the Empire suffers with us.
I may make one slight criticism of the Motion which says, "having regard to the serious economic conditions in this country," as though we were looking to the development of the Empire because we were in difficulties ourselves. That is not so. We are looking to the improvement and betterment of the Empire as a whole, whatever part of the Empire may be suffering for the time being. I will tell the House a little story which shows how very much the Empire became united during the War. A friend of mine who 1602 was in Australia at the time of the outbreak of the War said to the Australians how splendid it was that they were coming to the assistance of the Old Country. The answer he got was, "It is our War." Australia recognised that it was the War of the Empire, and did not take the view that they were merely coming to the assistance of the Old Country, and I do not think that we can lay too much stress on the fact that, when we speak of the Empire, we do not speak of part of the Empire, we do not exclude any part of the Empire, but we think of the Empire as a whole including ourselves.
The hon. Member for Grantham referred in his opening remarks to the lack of knowledge of the Empire which costs very largely in this country. I am afraid that we all know it and deplore it. I shall refer to one small point in which I think improvement can be made. I have all my life been trying to unlearn the wrong ideas which I got into my head as a schoolboy by seeing a map of Australia and a map of England in incorrect proportion and relation to each other. I would like to see in every school in this country an absolute Regulation that the maps, not only of the Empire but of the different parts of the world, should bear a strict relation to one another as regards size, and that they should not be like the figures in Noah's Ark, where the monkey and the elephant and Mr. Noah are all about the same size. I admit that when you get to a place and an area like Australia or Canada it might be necessary to have a very large map if you started with the British Isles on a large scale. I suggest having a good scale, map of Australia, and always alongside it a map of Great Britain on the same scale showing the relative difference between them. It is a small point, but an important one, which might, be kept in mind when we are thinking of educating our children as regards the relative importance and size of the different parts of the Empire. As regards the spread of knowledge generally, I would like to refer to the very important work that has been done, in the exchange of information and knowledge between the different Parliaments of the Empire, by the Empire Parliamentary Association, in connection with the very important declaration made by the. Prime Minister 1603 the other day that he hopes a conference will be held next year in Australia. The value of the exchange of information that is informally acquired between members of the different Parliaments of the Empire cannot be exaggerated. I think we have already seen the grafting on the old constitutional stock of a new graft which may bear very rich and important fruit.
I wish to refer to the matters under discussion from a somewhat different angle from that which has been adopted by previous speakers. As I have said, the part of the Empire that has suffered most is our own country, and, therefore, if we want to get the Empire as a whole improved as best we may in the shortest possible time, we should begin by putting our own house in order. What we are suffering from at the present time most largely is overspending. We are not exercising the economy that we ought to be exercising. If we want to recover our power as a world market, we have to cut down all unnecessary expenditure, and the particular point which I wish to make there is this: If we can cheapen money, it means a great deal more to our Dominions to be able to save ½ per cent. or per cent. in borrowing from us than the millions that we may be spending in trying to help on development in other ways, because they get the enormous capital that is required for development of the outlying parts of the Empire. It is a somewhat disturbing thought that to-day our communications in different parts of the Empire are so bad. They are a great deal worse in many respects than they were 25 or 30 years ago. Our mail ships do not go so frequently or so fast. Fares for passengers are very much higher; freights for goods are very much higher. Our postage between the different parts of the Empire is not yet back to the penny rate. A great deal can be done in cutting down the cost of communication by post and cable, but in order to do that we must have economy, we must be able to save money and reduce our taxation at home, and by that means improve our communications with the Colonies. Improvement, of the communications between different parts of the Empire I regard as one of the most important matters that can be taken in hand. The nearer we can bring the 1604 different parts of the Empire together, either by cable or by wireless, or by aeroplane, or by ship communication overseas, the better it is for the Empire, because it makes the whole foundation firmer and stronger.
I would like to make another little criticism of a word that has been used in the Amendment. That is the word "emigration." "Migration" is the more desirable word to use when we are talking about moving about in our own Empire. With regard to what has been said on the question of emigration, which I call migration, I would like to emphasise the point that too much reliance is often placed in some quarters upon migration being a cure for unemployment. I do not think that we are in any way entitled to look to migration as a cure for our present unemployment. On that subject I would quote from the Report of the Overseas Settlement Committee of 1923:State-aided Empire settlement is not a means of securing the immediate relief of unemployment … The true aims of Empire settlement are to ensure that the fresh population acquired by the Dominions should as far as possible be British in sympathy, in spirit, and in origin, and at the same time to remedy fluctuations of trade by developing this country's markets and increasing the numbers of its customers, thus permanently minimising the risk of unemployment here and overseas.After all, our unemployment, severe though it is, I do not regard in itself as a disease. It is a symptom of the disease, just in the same way as the irregular exchanges are a symptom of the disease. It is a symptom of the upsetting of the whole of the commercial body in Europe, and in fact, in all the world. We are not going to cure that until we get back to the adjustment of internal price levels to world price levels, and generally get back to a footing of normal trade. We cannot cure the trouble by endeavouring to push people out of this country into other parts of the Empire. I would like hon. Members to get out of their minds altogether the idea that migration is a cure for unemployment. I am not speaking in any way against migration, for I believe that a great deal can be done and has to be done in that direction. If the Committee that has been spoken of is set up, it will have a great deal of very important work to do. We cannot but feel somewhat dis- 1605 appointed at what has been achieved under the Act of 1922. Under that Act the total number of persons who have been assisted to date is 88,000, and out of the £7,500,000 that might have been spent, less than £1,000,000 has been spent up to date. There is a variety of reasons for this, and the Dominions, naturally, are very particular as to whom they will take, and are most anxious that any scheme which is started may be a success. They have found in the course of experience that some of their estimates were wrong and had to be altered, and, consequently, the schemes that were put in hand have not gone as fast as they might have done. But there is this very interesting fact to be remembered in connection with that. Before the War the total number of persons who left this country was 285,000 in 1913, whereas in 1024, in spite of all this extra assistance that was being given for migration, the number was only 132,000. So it is to be thoroughly well understood that, although we are ready and providing the money for the purpose of assisting migration, the actual total results effected under the Act are almost insignificant when compared with what was achieved by people who were moving on their own account and without such assistance before the War.
§ Sir H. CROFT
Do not the figures the hon. Member has quoted convey to all of us the thought that if migration had gone on at the pre-War rate, we should have had something like 2,000,000 fewer people in this country now, and that that must have contributed greatly to a solution of our unemployment problem?
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
The point I was going to make was that one result which has followed on the reducing of the quota by the United States has been that, while only one-third of the people who left our shores previously went to the British Empire, now more than one-half of those who leave our shores find their new homes within the Empire. In order that migration may be the success that we all desire, there must be ample and thorough cooperation with our efforts on the part of the Dominions. As I have said, the schemes in hand have moved disappointingly slowly, but I think that if we let the Dominions understand how anxious we are to help in the scheme, and, further, that the success of the scheme must 1606 depend upon their co-operation, we shall see in the course of the next year or two that much greater progress will be made than has been made during the last two or three years. I think there is a great opportunity for labour, not only in this country, but in Australia and in other parts of the Empire, to raise a very clear note and say that there is nothing in these schemes for moving populations within the Empire, from a congested part to a part where there is no congestion, which should give any cause for labour to have any apprehension for the future of its earning capacity.
I would say a word or two with regard to the development of Crown Colonies and Dependencies. There, again, one of the most important assistances that we can give to develop the Crown Colonies is by means of our credit and by improving communications. The right hon. Gentleman who spoke from the front Opposition Bench (Mr. Webb) referred to the remarkable progress that has been made in recent years in the Gold Coast. In connection with the remarks which he made, I should like to stress the fact that it is not only on the Gold Coast, but in other parts of Africa, that a remarkable advance has been made by the native proprietor growing his own crops. We are a little inclined, in speaking of our tropical Crown Colonies and Dependencies, to think only of our own brethren there. While I would not desire to say anything that would interfere with the proper development of European plantations in our Crown Colonies, I think our first duty is to see that the inhabitants of those countries are encouraged to grow useful crops as proprietors and to see that they are not bound to work only for wages on the plantations of Europeans. Past experience has shown wonderful results under this system in both West and East Africa with regard to cocoa and cotton and it has been shown also that coffee and rubber can be grown by the native proprietor. We owe a duty to the inhabitants of our Crown Colonies and Dependencies to see that they are made secure in the power to work the land of those Colonies and to enjoy the fruits of their labour. Along with that, in order to get the best results of development by means of native proprietors' work, we should do what we can to educate them in growing in the best possible style what is necessary for 1607 the world market. A great deal of criticism is levelled at what is termed our failure to educate the natives of Africa, but hon. Members who wish to raise criticisms on that point should be referred to the new methods of education, details of which may be found in the Report of the Advisory Committee on Native Education in the British African Dependencies recently presented. A study of that Report will show that the educational system envisaged for the future will have a marked result in the development of the African Colonies and Dependencies by the energy of the native people themselves. In conclusion I desire to urge two points. If we desire to see the Empire developed, as soon as may be, we must practice economy at home wherever we can practice it and, at the same time, we must encourage the inhabitants of out Crown Colonies to get the best out of the land by working for themselves as well as for planters.
§ Mr. RAMSDEN
In rising for the first time to speak in this House I ask for, and am certain I shall receive, that indulgence and kindness which is always extended to a new Member. I should like to deal with the position of some of the poorer and perhaps weaker members of the great British Empire, particularly those known as Crown Colonies and Protectorates. The larger Dominions, such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the others, have now reached manhood and are able, to a very large extent, to look after themselves, but I feel that in the smaller Colonies we have a great field for development. We require at the present moment two most important things: fresh markets, and fresh supplies of raw material which will enable us to carry on our manufactures in this country. There is no better place in which to look for these two things than within the borders of our own Empire and among the less developed countries which form part of it. I propose to mention one or two countries by way of illustrating what I mean. In the first place, I refer to the only Colony which we have in South America, namely, British Guiana. That is a Colony of considerable size. It is somewhere about three times the size of Scotland, and has a population of round about 300,000. It produces many of the raw materials which we require. Sugar is one of its most 1608 important exports, and there are many other things which could be grown in that part of the world. I believe it is quite possible, for instance, to produce cotton there in large quantities, and the amount of sugar at present grown in British Guiana. is very small in comparison with the production of which it is capable. I am also informed that there are lands lying near the coast where something like 10 times the present output of sugar could be grown. British Guiana is crying out for development, but it is severely handicapped by the fact that it only possesses about 100 miles of railway. If we found some means to facilitate the transport system, whether by new railways, or roadways which would carry motor transport, or by more easy navigation of the rivers, we should be doing the best thing to help this Colony.
That is one instance, and quite neat to it, relatively speaking, we have the colony of British Honduras, which is somewhere about the size of Wales. In this colony there are only between 20 and 25 miles of railway. In this case also, if the country could be developed and opened up, very great things would follow. We should be able to import front there many of the things which we require, and we should be able to sell them considerably snore manufactured goods. I have myself been in the tropics, and after visiting a number of our colonial possessions, I find it easy to realise how important is the question of transport It has been my misfortune to be stuck on a sandbank in a river for a couple of clays, not able to move, watching a family of alligators on the bank. It is very interesting experience for the first 10 minutes, but after a time it palls. Some thing very different from that is required if we are to develop these Colonies. I have been struck by the fact that in a small island in the West Indies belonging to our American cousins—I refer to Porto Rico—very great things have been done. This Island was taken over from the Spanish after the American War with that nation in 1898, and the Americans have tried to open up the country to the fullest possible extent. They have been very successful in doing so, because it appears that at present the exports and imports of this small island equal those of six Central American republics, although those six republics represent 60 times its size and four times 1609 its population. The reason why Porto Rico has gone ahead so quickly under American rule is that they have built highways and made it possible for the people to develop the country and to produce all the articles which it is capable of producing. It is now easy for land owners in Porto Rico to send their produce to the nearest port and have it shipped out of the country.
It does not matter how rich any of these countries may be or how fertile may be the soil unless the soil is accessible to the people and unless the produce of the soil can be sent easily to some port for shipment abroad. I suggest there should be some method by which the smaller Colonies could be helped to increase their transport facilities, because by doing so we should be giving a great help to the whole Empire. I should like to see a fund established, which might be called the Empire Development Fund, by means of which money can be lent at cheap rates for this purpose. It might be necessary for the Government to lend the money or to guarantee the interest or to provide some inducement for the investor, but whatever means were adopted I do not think there could be a better investment. Many benefits are to be obtained in this way. In the first place, the mere development of any of these Colonies by the building of railways or roads or the opening of ports will provide employment in this country. It will involve orders for steel rails and engines thus doing much for a trade which has suffered and is still suffering. When these countries are developed they can produce more goods such as cotton, and Lancashire needs a supply of cotton independent of that which conies from foreign countries. The more raw cotton we get the cheaper the price and the easier to sell the manufactured goods. Furthermore, when these Colonies are developed they will become year by year bigger buyers of goods manufactured in this country. There are so many benefits obtainable from the development of these countries that I hope the question will receive consideration from all parties. As other speakers have said we have a great heritage; I hope posterity will not be able to say that we failed in our generation to understand its need and failed to carry out our duty with regard to it.
§ Mr. HADEN GUEST
I fear I cannot join in the chorus of congratulation which has been sounded in connection with the Empire policy of this country. If it be really true, as the Mover and Seconder have suggested, that the amount of our expenditure in this respect now is little more than it was twenty years ago, that does not seem to square with the pæan of praise which the Mover sung regarding the Conservative party. I know that during those twenty years another party had for a time charge of the affairs of this country, but for a considerable part of that period the Conservative party was responsible, and I frankly confess that the more one looks into the Empire question, the less one can be genuinely satisfied with what has been done by this country.
To begin with, the whole question of Empire is very little understood in this country. You ask people about Australia, and they tell you that they like Australians immensely, and they probably say afterwards that they come from New Zealand, or some equally absurd remark of that description. Literally, a great many people do not know where the different parts of our Empire are. The hon. Member who moved this Amendment complacently referred to the effect of Preference, but he must know as well as anyone in this House that, whether or not Preference would have an effect of an advantageous kind to the Dominions and ourselves—and for my part I think its effect would be advantageous—that effect must necessarily be only very small, and would only affect a very small area of the problem.
I could not help thinking, when listening to some of the speeches this afternoon, that perhaps Imperialism and Empire in this country are something in the nature of an after-dinner reverie, an after-dinner ideal, in which people indulge when they have been nicely fed and pleasantly wined, and they are just beginning to let their expansive emotions go, without any serious intention of doing anything very much about it. What about the question of migration? Money was voted for migration and is at the disposal of the Government, and has been at the disposal of Governments before this one, and that money has not been spent, because the arrangements could not be made. For one reason, there was a lack of understanding between ourselves and the Dominions, and steps were not taken 1611 to get the understanding necessary before a real policy could be carried out. The suggestions that have been put before us, with some of which I agree, especially those put forward by the Mover and Seconder of this Amendment, both of whom have made excellent contributions to the Debate, have on the whole not been complete enough, or big enough, or urgent enough. In my own way, I have come to regard this question of the solution of the Empire problem as one of the three big things that face this country. We are in a condition of acute economic distress, and some way out of that will be found, I feel sure, by means of making use of our Imperial resources—not all the way out by a great deal. It is not a question of waiting for a long time, but of doing something very quickly indeed if the policy is to have any real effect.
The Mover of the Amendment stressed the connection between migration and unemployment, and I must frankly say to him that, much as I like what he said, I did not like that aspect of the subject, because I do not believe you ought to regard migration as a cure for unemployment or that you should connect migration directly with unemployment. The indirect effect, I agree, will be a good one on unemployment, but you ought not to say that you are going to persuade or give opportunities to your unemployed to go overseas when they are unemployed. I would rather see men who are employed at the present time go overseas, and let the unemployed be absorbed in the trades and industries of this country, than I would regard sending people overseas as a direct cure for unemployment. When one comes to look at the question of migration, what is the real obstacle in the way? If you go to the Dominions and ask their opinions, they will tell you simply and clearly that what they want are, on the one hand, agricultural labourers and, on the other hand, domestic servants. The career of an agricultural labourer or of a domestic servant is honourable and useful, but you cannot exactly call it the most attractive thing to offer to people as the only way of going to the Dominions, good as they are. And when do you ask people to go to the Dominions? When they are unemployed, through the avenue of the Employment Exchanges, and that again is not 1612 exactly the most attractive way. If a man is absolutely down and out and takes refuge in a Salvation Army or a Church Army shelter, he will learn more about the facilities for emigration than ever he has learned before.
That is not the right spirit. We ought to have the Dominions regarded as a career, exactly as the Indian Civil Service and other great Services are regarded, and if hon. Members will make inquiry, as I have, they will find that not one of our great public schools takes cognisance of the Dominions as a career. There are certain schools that do that, and with regard to the elementary and secondary schools, obviously they are out of consideration. If you begin to ask the educationist whether he is preparing men and women for that spacious life of the Dominions and of our Empire, about which one hears in after-dinner speeches, he scratches his head, because he does not know quite what you are talking about. They are not being prepared for the spacious life of the Dominions, because the majority of the people in this country do not believe in the spacious life of the Dominions. They are very doubtful about it, and rightly so. Why should a man go from this country when he is unemployed if he is going to be unemployed in Canada or Australia? What is the use of it? Unless you can show him definitely that you are going to give him more opportunities there than he has here, he will quite rightly say, "I am not going to move."
What we have to do, if nothing more can be done—and I hope the two Committees which have been suggested will be set up, but we want something much more than that—is to get all the constituent parts of our Empire together, really to go into this question of migration and tell us whether or not they want men and women, and on what terms they are prepared to have them, and, secondly, whether they are willing to take steps themselves to get at the land, which is tied up at the present time, suitable for close settlement, and use that land to endow the men and the women who go out from this country with their share in the Dominions to which I, myself, believe they are entitled. I believe, in fact, that we ought to have an Imperial Conference to deal with this subject of the use of the land of the Dominions. In 1613 certain of the Dominions, in certain parts of Australia, there are people holding land there by the hundred thousand and the million acres, for periods of 20 years, on a purely nominal rental of 15s. per thousand acres, holding up land which is very suitable indeed for close settlement and for farming of a very much better kind than the purely pastoral farming; and I think that we ought to ask the Dominions whether they are willing to set free that land to help our people who, in this country, are in such urgent need. You are not going to get at that without a conference of all the Dominions, and you are not going to get at another important question.
We have not only got men in this country, but we have also got immense resources of money and credit, and I should like to see this country be prepared to back up, let us say, agricultural banks in the different Dominions, which would lend to the men put on the land—the land freed, in the way I suggest, by the Dominion itself—all the money which they required for a period of 15 years to set them up. That is being done at the present time by an agricultural bank in Western Australia, and that could be done on a very much bigger scale, and would enable us to settle a very large number of people on the land, without, of course, incurring for ourselves a very large amount of financial responsibility. May I suggest that when you want people to take a journey you should make the beginning of the journey rather more attractive than it is at the present time? You should set up in this country a number of training centres where people can go and be trained, and where they can be shown how they will be living when they go abroad and what kind of work they will have to do. You can do it. The difficulties exist, and they exist to be surmounted, but unless we take bold steps, we are not going to get out of the impasse into which we have come.
I take a very pessimistic view of our present situation unless very bold steps are taken. I should like to see this Empire Conference, on land, on the settlement of men, on the giving of credit, and on the training of men, get together and evolve a very bold policy indeed for the settling, not of tens and hundreds, but of thousands of men. I 1614 would like to see the same policy which was used during the War in the organisation of armies used now in the organisation of battalions of migration, and I believe that you could, by doing that, get a very long way towards the solution of your Empire problem. March out your battalions, your brigades, and your divisions to the Dominions, with an organisation that really means business and is prepared to support them, and the party which does that can begin to congratulate itself on its Empire policy. At the present time our Empire policy is really a very polite after-dinner affair, which does not really amount to very much, and I confess I do not feel very polite about it.
One final word. May I suggest that the real reason why Empire policy has not been backed by the Labour party in this country is because Empire policy has never taken the democracy of this country into its confidence? It has been a policy very largely dictated by the interests of exporters, of merchants, and of manufacturers, but not by the interests of the man who is himself going to be a worker, who is himself going to dig the land, work in the mill, or work in the factory, and if we can take the democracy of this country, the workers of this country, into our confidence in a real Empire policy, I believe there will be no doubt whatsoever of its success, but it must be a policy of a bold kind, for nothing less than a bold policy can possibly help us out of our present difficulty.
§ Sir NEWTON MOORE
The speech of the hon. Member for Southwark North (Mr. Haden Guest) has brought into this Debate a certain amount of enthusiasm, and I quite agree with him that we should march out the men in their battalions and divisions, and I only hope that in this respect he will be an apostle in his party. I was very gratified indeed to hear from the right hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Webb) his views on emigration, expressing as he did, I take it, the considered view of the Labour party, and it must have been gratifying to many of those of us who had the opportunity of listening to the Prime Minister of Western Australia the other afternoon at the Empire Parliamentary Room to know that, as far as he was concerned, as a leader of the Labour party in that State, he was prepared to do all that he possibly could to assist migration, realising as 1615 he did his responsibility as the head of a State which is possessed of a territory of a million square miles with only something like 350,000 people. The right hon. Gentleman thought Australia had done fairly well in comparison with what strides had been made by America during the list 100 years, but I do not think we can look forward to Australia being peopled at anything like the same rate as the United States. First of all, they are within a week's journey of the teeming millions of Europe, and until the last few years immigration was encouraged, before they had certain restrictive measures introduced whereby the various nationals were admitted on a percentage basis. On the other hand, you have to realise that Australia, rightly or wrongly, has decided for a "White Australia policy," and that she, instead of being surrounded by teaming millions of Europeans, is surrounded by teaming millions of Asiatics whom she does not propose to admit. So that I do not think that we can contemplate at all that the realisation of the hon. Member in this respect will be satisfied.
May I take this opportunity of congratulating my overseas colleague in the person of the Member for West Ham (Captain Holt) on his maiden speech I think it is very gratifying indeed to find in this Debate that there are so many of the younger members of the Conservative party who are realising their Empire responsibilities. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Zetland (Sir R. Hamilton), pointed out that he did not think that emigration was going to do much in the way of solving the unemployment problem. I should like, however, to draw his attention to what is rather a startling answer to that remark, and that is that, within the last week, the Dominion Government has placed in this country an order for £5,000,000 of shipping. Of this 65 percent. will be spent in wages. Surely that is going to have some effect upon unemployment here? I would remind hon. Members that at the same time people in this country have placed their orders for shipping in Germany, which is rather inconsistent, as it seems to me. I would like to point out that this question of emigration is not one of a fleeting character. It is a permanent question. To it we have got to give consideration. We have to realise, as was pointed out 1616 the other day by the right hon. Gentleman the late Colonial Secretary (Mr. J. H. Thomas) that at the present time we have as many people actually employed in this country as in 1914, and that, rot-withstanding our heavy taxation and burdens following the War, at the present time the unemployed represents something like a million and a quarter.
It is very evident to me that we must tackle this thing in a different way from that which we have up to the present time. Generally speaking, this House of Commons does give greater consideration to the question of emigration than it used to do years ago. At one time one spoke with bated breath, as if it were a crime to induce people to leave this country and to go overseas. So far as the Labour party is concerned, we know now where they stand. I believe they honestly realise that at present we have got too many people in this country. There is no question about it, we cannot carry a population greater than we have, at the present time. Every man who leaves this country is a potential customer, in the case of Australia, of £12 per head, and in the case of New Zealand, of £14 per head. They are, only moving from one part of the Empire to another, just as you move from Clydebank to Westminster. They have the same hopes, the same aspirations as we have, and we have to realise that when they go, they are not lost to the Empire. They are still defenders of the Empire as well as producers in it.
In conclusion, I would only like to say that I regret very much that out of £14,000,000 that has been apportioned for migration within the Empire, only something like 10 per cent. has been expended. That, I think, is scandalous. I agree with the last speaker that something should be done. I did not hear the suggestion made that a Committee should be appointed with the object of going into this question, but I am certainly desirous of doing all I can in a humble capacity, and as a private Member, to assist in this very important question, realising what it means for the future of the British Empire. In Australia, one realises what it means, for in that continent there are 14,000 miles of coastline, and only six million people. In the interests of the British Empire, we must populate Australia, and the other great Dominions.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Ormsby-Gore)
I understand that there has been an arrangement made that this Amendment shall be disposed of in reasonable time in order that another subject may be introduced before you, Mr. Speaker, leave the Chair. The House will, therefore, forgive me if I do not reply to some of the points raised. I regret that we have not had longer time than we have had to discuss the very important subject which has been introduced to-day. In the course of the Debate, we have listened to no less than three maiden speeches. I should like to take this early opportunity of congratulating those three hon. Members on the manner in which for the first time they have addressed the House. The Debate has ranged really about three main subjects—that of migration, that of Crown Colony and Protectorate development, and the third—introduced by the hon. Member for Dartford (Lieut.-Colonel McDonnell)—dealing with scientific research and the importance of organisation in the Colonial Office. I will not say much on this occasion in regard to the second subject, because, very shortly, the Report of the Commission of which I had the honour to be Chairman on East Africa will be available to the House, and that raises generally, not only questions relatting to East Africa, but the whole question of transportation, and what is necessary for the development of our tropical possessions in Africa. I think my principal duty is to say something in regard to migration.
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
I presume the Report to which the right hon. Gentleman refers will be laid on the Table, and that no effect will be given to it until the house has had an opportunity of discussing it.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
Certainly, what I may call current needs will be dealt with, and not "held up," but no big question of policy will be dealt with until an opportunity has been given for discussion. Let me, then, deal first with the subject of migration. I entirely agree with all those hon. Members who have spoken, that we must do everything we possibly can to speed up this matter, that we must do everything we can to increase the number of voluntary migrants who are anxious and ready to develop the Empire, and to proceed overseas. Let me assure 1618 the House that there is to-day no question of forcing anybody to go, for, in fact, the number of people who are anxious to go far exceeds the number who at present can go. It is entirely a question of cost in the first instance, and in the second of arrangements for the necessary work, necessary developments, and necessary arrangements for the reception of these people and their training and starting in the Dominions.
The policy of the Empire Settlement Act, I believe, is absolutely sound, namely, that the migration problem is essentially one of a partnership between this country and the self-governing Dominions. It would be quite impossible, let me say quite frankly, for us to set up a committee here in London to inquire into the working of the Overseas Settlement Act unless we could get on that committee full representation of the self-governing Dominions. My own view is that the time has not yet come for that, because it does take a considerable amount of time to get the machinery of that Act put into working order; for this reason, that this matter is on a "fifty-fifty" basis, that is to say, on a basis that we defray 50 per cent, of any expenses under that Act in connection with settlement, and the receiving Dominions, or the State—as the case be—contribute the other half. There is also the case of the voluntary societies, without whose help and co-operation we could do nothing—valuable bodies who for a long time have interested themselves in migration. We have to consider them, and we are doing so.
Let me, in order that hon. Members may get a true perspective of this problem, and the difficulties inherent in it, say exactly what is the position. Ever since the War, the volume of migration from this country has been very much larger than it was before the War. Migration always, it must be remembered, goes where the trade is, and migration is difficult when trade is bad. That is the first thing to remember. The second thing to remember is the enormous increase of cost of the passages, and, still more, the cost of the various other things, building materials and the rest, which are necessary for the successful carrying out of any settlement scheme. But for the help of the Empire Settlement Act there is, I think, no doubt 1619 that, so far from the figures being, it may be, disappointing to-day, we should have had very little migration, at all events, to Australia and New Zealand. It is a remarkable thing that of the total number of migrants who went from this country to Australia in 1923, 70 per cent., approximately, were assisted out. When you remember that earlier there was no such thing as assisted passages—that it is a comparatively new policy—you will see what important work is being done.
Last year, under the Empire Settlement Act, the number of assisted migrants did show a substantial increase on the year before. The number was 24,449 to Australia, 7,737 to New Zealand, and 9,379 to Canada—a total of 41,565 assisted migrants. But that is not the total migration. The bulk of the migrants who go to Canada go without any assistance whatever, owing to its being nearer, cheaper, and also owing to the fact that schemes for assistance are in the main arranged quite definitely on the basis of land settlement. We have the co-operation of the Canadian Government, and a new Land Settlement Scheme has gone through. The scheme was initiated by the hon. Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn) when he was on this side of the House, and was Chairman of the Oversea Settlement Committee during the period of the Labour Government. He showed in all these migration proposals, if I may say so, zeal and enthusiasm, and we owe a great deal to him in respect of the scheme to which I have alluded. Canada agreed with the Labour Government under the new scheme to take 3,000 British families during the present and the two ensuing years, and to settle them upon farms—a matter most expensive and most difficult to arrange. That is the first big one of its kind, the scheme for settling 3,000 families in Canada.
The principal scheme, which is now under consideration, is a much larger Australian scheme. We found, when I was on the Oversea Settlement Committee, and it was also found by my predecessors in the late Government, that one of the first things to be done was to secure effective co-operation between the Australian States, which own the land, and the Commonwealth Government, which controls migration. It is only in the last few weeks that real and effective progress has been made. There were 1620 conferences, in January this year, between the Commonwealth Government and the representatives of the various States, and they have put up to us for our consideration a very much bigger project than we have had hitherto. The negotiations, the final detailed negotiations in regard to that scheme, are still proceeding, but when I tell the House I cannot give further details now, it is because the financial scale of it is so very much bigger than we have hitherto contemplated, that it requires a good deal of consideration and going into actual detail. It will involve, spread over a period of years, an expenditure by the Commonwealth and the States of Australia of, approximately, £20,000,000, in addition to £14,000,000 on existing schemes.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I am afraid I cannot give the hon. Gentleman any such assurance, because the voluntary principle of the scheme is the essential thing. It would be fatal to the whole of this Empire-migration if we were to give it out from this country that we prohibited any man from any rural area going to the Dominions if he wished to do so. To say we will assist such-and-such men and we will not assist another class would be to wreck the whole thing from the start.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
The question of training has been raised; but this question of restriction has had such a disastrous effect in the past that I am bound to make it quite clear, seeing that the hon. Gentleman has interrupted me, that His Majesty's Government cannot undertake to consider for one moment any restriction of that kind, which would be most unfavourably received in the Dominions and in this country. We have had a good many discussions in regard to training. It has been discussed with many of the Dominion representatives, and they all express the same opinion when the subject is gone into, namely, that the best place for the training of 1621 these people on the land is on the other side, in the country to which they are going. Though there is a certain similarity between all agricultural work all over the world, it is absolutely essential, especially in Australia, that the conditions of life in Australia, the conditions of climate, the whole economic circumstances of the agricultural development there, should be envisaged, and if we are spending any money on training at all, and we desire to do so, it should be spent on the people out there.
The Government entirely agree with those speakers who have emphasised the fact that migration schemes and assistance to migration are not designed to take a man who is now unemployed in this country and put him down in some other country. The idea of migration is to prevent people becoming unemployed, and, still worse, becoming unemployable, by giving them a chance in the wider surroundings and the greater opportunities of the lands across the seas. For that reason we attach enormous importance to what is called juvenile migration, to taking the boy and the girl of school age and giving them, under the best possible and most carefully safeguarded conditions, a chance to develop in those new countries, whether on the land or otherwise, before they become unemployable in this country through following blind alley occupations in an overcrowded labour market between the time of leaving school and full manhood.
Time is getting on, and I will turn to the question of cost. We are very hopeful of reducing the tremendous cost of migration. According to the figure given to me, it costs to start a family—a man and his wife and two children, say—to send him from this country and to start him as a farmer in Australia costs at least £1,500. That, of course, is tremendous, and it does prevent us from getting the battalions and divisions which were suggested by one hon. Member. We have got to go into this question of cost all along the line. In reply to what the hon. Member for North Southwark (Dr. Haden Guest) said, I would tell him quite frankly that the land problem is not an acute problem. The Australian authorities assure us that where it is necessary to re-acquire land for closer settlement, it is not a great difficulty, and the price is not high; that 1622 there is still a good deal of land in the possession of the Government that can be rendered available, and that is not really a serious part of the problem.
One of the principal difficulties has been the enormously high cost of fares. I am glad to be able to announce to the House that we have just concluded a new agreement in regard to passage rates to Australia and New Zealand which effects very considerable reductions. A person accepted under the new scheme, which, so far as Australia. is concerned, will come into operation on the 1st of June this year, accepted as a suitable settler by the Australian authorities, can obtain a passage at less than half the ordinary fare, i.e, at £16 10s., and the whole of this amount may be advanced as a loan. In addition to that, free passages will be granted to children under 12 years of age in the case of Australia, and under 19 years of age in the case of New Zealand. The effect of these new rates is that a family with three children can now go to Australia for £55, which may be loaned, and to New Zealand for as low as £22. The minimum rate for a single man to New Zealand is brought down, under the new agreement, to £13 15s., which is, of course, immeasurably less than anything we have had since before the War.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
A good deal of information will shortly be set out definitely in the Report of the Overseas Settlement Committee, but I thought I would give some instances just to show examples of the proposals. Now I want to take up one or two points mentioned in the Debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Sir V. Warrender), in his extremely valuable speech in moving the Amendment, talked, and quite rightly talked, about the fact that there is still such terrible ignorance of the Empire, still such ignorance of the opportunities which it contains, not merely for migration, but the opportunities in its trades and its industries and its resources. He suggested that just as Australian school boys have been coming here as a part of their school life, as a very important incident in their whole education, so something ought to be done in this country to organise for boys in this country a similar 1623 return tour to different parts of the Empire. My Noble Friend the President of the Board of Education welcomed the idea yesterday, and his co-operation is assured. I think we must look to securing the co-operation of local education authorities and of voluntary associations.
The idea is one which is well worth encouraging, and as Under-Secretary of the Colonies I can say that I know it will be singularly welcome to the Dominions if we organise a tour of that kind. It might be possible to organise, literally, a world tour. A party of boys selected from, preferably, our secondary schools—our secondary school boys, who would require some financial assistance—as part of their school life, might go, possibly, right across Canada, across the Pacific to New Zealand and Australia, and back by South Africa to this country. If we can only get boys who will spread the gospel when they come home, who will pass on to all their neighbours what they have learned, if we get the right type of secondary school boy, it will not only be a great opportunity for them, but a great help to us in bringing home to the democracy the opportunities the Dominions offer. I rather agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Southwark, who said it is essential that this question of migration should be kept out of party politics, that we should all go forward, in the spirit of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham (Mr. Webb), to solve it together, and, above all, that we should get the ordinary wage-earner of this country as interested as those of us who have had the opportunity of seeing the Empire ourselves, which they have not had.
I must allude to one or two very important new developments where we look for help, and one in particular has to do with the activity of the Churches. I dare say those who take an interest in this subject saw that at the Session last November of the National Assembly of the Church of England a resolution was unanimously adopted to the effect that migration ought to be dealt with on a higher level of ideals than heretofore, and they have set up a Board for overseas settlement. Everyone knows what splendid work has been done by the Salvation Army, and by other Churches in this matter; and where you have a religious organisation, such as the Church of 1624 England, spread all over the Empire, you can, by the Government co-operating with them, secure almost ideal conditions for ensuring that the migrant gets a fair chance, and good conditions. Having said that, it should always be said that the success of migration depends upon the individual. In the long run, it does depend upon the grit and determination of the individual to make good in the new country.
I must pass on from migration to one or two other points which were raised in the Debate. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Dartford (Lieut.-Colenel McDonnell) referred to the vast importance of scientific research, nor only with reference to Dominion development, but to Colonial Government. The more I see of the work the more convinced I am of the urgent importance of this question and of the lee-way that has to be made up. It is only now that we have got an Imperial college of tropical agriculture where we can train cur staff for the agricultural work in the great tropical Empire. We have had no institute of research into mycology. We have a bureau over here dealing with these problems, but I entirely agree with him in saying that I think my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer next year will have to be pressed very hard by the Colonial Office to do a little more in that direction, because I have seen how much lee-way we have to make up. The total amount spent on research of all kinds up to the present, is about £19,000 by this country and about £24,000 in addition by the Colonies and Protectorates themselves. That is to say, they subsidise bureaux here, and in fact these self-governing Dependencies at the present time are spending more than we are on research without which we shall never get a real move on in the direction of development.
He alluded to this question in connection with the organisation of the Colonial Office. Well, here again the Colonial Office has expanded in this sense, that we are getting the co-operation of a large number of volunteers in the more technical aspect of our work. Since the War there has been set up a colonial research committee, since the War there has been set up an advisory committee on medical services and sanitation, and 1625 two years ago an advisory committee on native education. That has enabled the Colonial Office to bring into the administration of the Service, not merely the individuals who are there and who have acquaintance with the particular technical subjects, but to associate with the work of the Colonial Office—the day to day work—some of the best experts available in this country, and, as Chairman, I cannot say how big is the debt we owe to such men as Sir Michael Sadler, the Master of Rugby, and others who are ready to place their time at the disposal of the Colonial Office in going through all the reports and of the school work that is going on. In that way the work of the Colonial Office is being immensely assisted. I entirely agree with my hon. and gallant. Friend that as the Empire develops—and it is developing tremendously rapidly—we require an increase of specialised knowledge. Every year it is growing.
We now have under the ultimate control of the Colonial Office an ever-increasing State railway system scattered throughout the globe—[An HON. MEMBER: "And running very well!"]—and running very well. But it requires the assistance of knowledge which no administrative staff permanently in this country can ever provide, and consequently the Colonial Office has to keep calling in to its aid the assistance, both of committees and individuals for the supervision of this kind of work. I feel very strongly in the matter that as the agricultural development takes place in the Crown Colonies and Settlements, it requires strengthening at the Colonial Office.
I agree with what he said about the possibilities of an interchange where it affects the contracts of the existing staff. The existing staff at the Colonial Office have been recruited on the understanding that they should not go for service overseas, but this may require consideration in regard to future recruits. It is a matter which is being gone into at present. I feel strongly that not only should no opportunity be lost for Members of this House, through the means of the Empire Parliamentary Association and other means, to travel, going about our Dominions and Colonies, but also that no opportunity should be lost of giving the permanent civil servant 1626 at the Colonial Office an equal chance to see the other end. Certainly, on the trips I have taken both to the West Indies and East Africa, I am glad I was assisted by the very able help of a permanent official from the Colonial Office. I am quite sure it is most needed, and what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Seaham (Mr. Webb) said is perfectly true, namely, that Colonies do not like being over-governed from Whitehall, especially if they think those people have never seen what the tropical sun is like, and do not know what it is to be up against the strange Scottish apparition which he quoted to us. In all these things I can assure the House that the Colonial Office at this moment is fully alive to its opportunities.
The only thing I will refer to in connection with the Crown Colonies and Protectorates raised to-day, and as it has been referred to, and has also been the subject of very sarcastic and hostile criticism by a well-known Liberal Peer, Lord Leverhulme lately, I must say one word. Lord Leverhulme has given the public of this country to understand that Nigeria is badly governed and overtaxed, and that its progress is altogether poor. Let us see some of the facts. There are few parts of the British Empire making more rapid progress to-day than Nigeria. The total trade of Nigeria in the year before the War, 1913, was £13,429,000. In 1923, it was £21,156,000, and in 1924, £25,090,000. Nigeria is one of the newest countries as a British dependency. 1900 is the year when you may say Northern Nigeria, not then united and federated into Nigeria—there were three Colonies, the Colony of Lagos, Southern Nigeria, and Northern Nigeria—was the starting point of the present administration throughout the country. In that year, the export of ground nuts from Nigeria, in which Lord Leverhulme is particularly interested, was 210 tons. Last year in round numbers it was 78,000 tons. In the first year, 1901, the export of cocoa was 206 tons. Last year it was 37,000 tons. In 1901 the export of cotton lint was three tons. Last year it was 4,600 tons. That is not bad progress in that short space of time in tropical Africa. The revenue the year before the War, 1913, was £3,462,000; last year it was £6,340,000, in spite of the reduction of the export duties and the loss of a considerable quantity of pre-War revenue 1627 which obtained from trade in spirits which has now been stopped. Now what does that mean? It means that at the present moment Nigeria ha, developed and is developing fast.
The railway system runs everywhere, and there are great works and great undertakings, and the taxation to-day is only 5s. per head which is, I believe, lower than that of any other portion of the British Empire. Nigeria to-day has surplus assets, that is to say, revenue over expenditure, to its credit of three and a half millions cash, or two and a quarter millions more than at the end of the War. The railway mileage open for traffic is 1,126 miles, and we have only 15 miles to complete the new Great Eastern Railway. That will be through in a few months, when the whole of the construction staff will be able to go on with more railways in the North-West of Nigeria. So far from Nigeria being a Colony which should be scrapped, it is a Colony of which any British Administration and any Colonial Office, and any Colonial Secretary can justly be proud.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I would just ask the hon. Gentleman, in fairness to Sir Hugh Clifford, to inform the House that Lord Leverhulme's complaint is due to the refusal of the Colonial Office, both of the previous Government and myself, to allow indentured labour there, because we feel we have a trust and obligation to the native.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
I am not aware of the reason for Lord Leverhulme's discomfort. Since his return from West Africa, Lord Leverhulme has made a renewed attack on the Nigerian administration, and the Home Government, so I thought it only necessary to say to the House what I said this afternoon in regard to the very remarkable progress of that part of Africa. As I say, there will be further opportunity of discussing that particular question. One word about another point. We listened to a particularly well-informed speech of the hon. Member for North Bradford (Mr. Ramsden), and I wish to make a reference to the point he made with regard to doing more for British Guiana and British Honduras.
I would like to say, of course, that there are great difficulties, especially in 1628 British Guiana. It is large and full of resources, but its population is not large. I particularly refer to this to-night, because it is no use building railways and making developments unless you see whether you are going to get the population.
§ Mr. RAMSDEN
May I point out that I only quoted British Guiana and British Honduras as illustrations. I believe they are examples of what can be done in other countries.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
It is clear that climatic conditions prevent British Guiana being suitable for white settlement. The sole function of the white man there is really that of an overseer. The one chance is to get a tropical population, and the whole of our efforts ought to be devoted to securing that end. If you get a tropical population in British Guiana there are enormous possibilities. The authority I have quoted asserted that there were enormous possibilities with regard to rice growing, sugar growing, forestry development, the discovery of new minerals, including precious stones, and all these are waiting for a population. It would not be right to compare that vast and mighty country with the conditions which prevail in Africa. There we have the population and the production.
Everywhere I went in Africa I found that state of things. The capacity of the people to produce is there, and the population is there, but there are so few railways and roads, and the harbours are all chockablock, and you cannot get the stuff away, and what is really wanted within the next few years in West and East Africa is a big effort to steadily increase the transport facilities. I entirely agree with those hon. Members who have pointed out that this would not only mean orders to the British engineering trade for bridge materials, locomotives and the like, but as you get the development you must get further production, which means further purchasing power for goods made in this country. I regard the development of the Dominions by migration, and the Crown Colonies and Protectorates by further transport facilities and scientific research, as the finest investment, not only for the British investor, but for the people of this country as a whole. Let us concentrate upon developing our Imperial 1629 heritage, and in proportion as we do so, we shall find relief from the social and economic troubles which bear so heavily upon us at this moment.
§ Question again proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."