HC Deb 23 March 1927 vol 204 cc482-530

Captain EDEN: I beg to move, That this House observes that over a period of widespread depression in trade? the proportion of our trade with the Empire has increased and continues to increase; and is of opinion that, in order to benefit the people of this country by developing our beet and most productive markets, and' in order to assist those Dominions winch so desire it further to increase the British population within their territories, no effort should be spared, in co-operation with the Governments of the Dominions, to initiate new proposals' and to increase the existing facilities for settlement in the Empire overseas. Hon. Members will observe that the Motion is very widely drawn. I have done that of set purpose, because 1 wanted, in the first place, to allow of as useful a discussion as possible, and also to enable Members of all parties, who have recently been in touch with this problem in the Dominions, to give the House, if they so wish, the benefit of their advice and experience. I have also drawn it wide because I wish carefully to avoid anything which might tend to make this Debate of a partisan nature. I think the whole House will agree that this is far too big a subject for us to derogate and make of it a shuttlecock of party warfare, and I hope anything I say to-night will not have that effect. Perhaps I might add, that one of the most encouraging features, one which makes us hope that we are making real progress in this work, is that in recent years it has become increasingly evident that all parties are united in the endeavour to devote to that work the result of their combined studies. This is, obviously, too vast and intricate a subject into which to enter deeply in the short time at disposal, and as I know many hon. Members want to speak, J shall be as brief as I possibly can. But, large as this subject is, I think that, in the course of this Debate, it might be that Members of all parties in the House could contribute some suggestions, which might. perhaps, make the working of migration smoother, and even a little more rapid. than it is to-day.

It is true, I think, to say that there-is in the minds of many of those who have watched the progress of migration since the War, a sense of disappointment that the figures, when compared with those before the War, are not more encouraging. With the single exception of new Zealand, the comparison is detrimental to the post-War years. It may be because we set our hopes a little too high. It may be because we are inclined to place too much confidence in what the various Dominion Governments and the Home Government can do. It is true, I think, that progress as affected by Governments can only be limited. The powers of the Government of any Dominion or of the home Government in this work are strictly limited. Migration cannot be entirely stemmed, nor can its flow be turned into a torrent. All that Governments can do is, in a measure, to regulate it. I think if we confine ourselves to those limitations to-night, we shall not be raising hopes which are only docmed to disappointment.

There are various influences which, obviously, affect the course of migration. It is only when the "rode of this country is good that the flow of emigration is satisfactory, and we may, therefore, hope, perhaps, that in this year the results will be better than they were in 1926. There is another influence which certainly does affect the flow of migration, and over which we have some control, and that is the percentage of failures. I think all hon. Members who have studied this subject in our overseas Dominions will agree that nothing is more detrimental to the advancement of migration than an anduly high percentage of failures. One failure, perhaps, may have more influence than 10 successes, if it be only for the reason that a failure in itself calls for explanation, and gives rise to public controversy, argument and publicity, whereas the men who are actually successful arc- too busy promoting that success to explain to the world at large how that success has been achieved. So I do think that any time we can devote to-night to try to discover some of the causes which have led to failure and disappointment will be time well spent.

I believe one of those causes is due to the fact that only too often the migrant when he sets out from this country for any one of our Dominions, has not got as full and accurate a knowledge as he should have of the conditions that await him in the Dominions. Of course, at first sight, it would seem to be the duty of the representatives of the Dominions in this country to afford him that knowledge, but I think the difficulty lies even deeper than that. It is not that sometimes, perhaps. the foreground of the picture which is filled in by the Dominion representatives here is not as complete or as accurate as might be wished, but the fact we have to face is that, to a large extent, the great majority of people of this country have very little knowledge of the conditions of life and work in the Dominions, and unless we can begin by removing that ignorance, then we can hardly expect that the information which, at the last minute, may be given to them, will be put in the truest perspective.

I would suggest to the Government that this education cannot begin too soon, and that the earlier we begin to give our people education as to the life and conditions of our Dominions, the better. I should like to see it begin very extensively in the schools. I think, for instance, it would be a great advantage to the education of this country if more time could be devoted to a study of the rapid progress of New Zealand and the development of Australia, and rather less time, say, to the hunting habits of William Rufus, or the passion for shell-fish of our Norman kings. Equally, I think it would be found an advantage if we could give more time in our schools to studying the exploits of Captain Cook, and rather less to the efforts made by King John to retrieve his baggage from the Wash. I believe in that sphere there is room for much important work, and I suggest to my right hon. Friend that he should convey to the President of the Board of Education our nope that this most important side of successful migration should be more closely studied.

The House may feel I have exaggerated the importance of that, but I do not think I have, because I believe lack of knowledge is one of the main causes of lack of progress in migration. If there were in this country as much knowledge of the conditions in Australia as there is of our home conditions, or of those of France and Belgium, the problem would very largely solve itself. I hope the time will not be far distant when a voyage to Australia or New Zealand will seem no more difficult or troublesome, and even no more adventurous, than a journey from Edinburgh to London. I am certain it is no greater adventure now than was a journey from Edinburgh to London 200 years ago. The improvements going on will gradually result in easier communication between the various parts of the Empire, but knowledge is fax more effective in spanning giant distances than are any mechanical contrivances, however admirable they may be; and any efforts we make to inculcate knowledge of Imperial matters through our schools will be well spent.

Considerable reductions in the fares to cur Dominions have been made recently, largely owing to the work of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and his predecessor, but I suggest he might go a little further still. Though the fares to Canada are very low, those to New Zealand and Australia are still very formidable. I hesitate to advise any departure from the 50-50 system, and I do not know how far my right hon. Friend considers those fares check the flow of migration to those Dominions; but if they do, it should be worth while taking a more adventurous course and further reducing fares. I would ask also whether he can give us any new information as to the progress in regard to the migration of women to our Dominions. In the Dominions from time to time we have all of us come across complaints—not complaints, perhaps, but questions—as to how it is that the proportion of women coming out to the Dominions is not higher. Though we need to be careful as to the conditions of migration in the case of men, obviously we need to be more careful still in the case of the fair sex, and it would be interesting if my right hon. Friend would give us some idea as to whether there are any schemes or proposals under consideration which would facilitate that migration. I do not mean migration of domestic servants, but the migration of women apart from domestic servants.

It must be admitted that in some of our Dominions there is a sense of suspicion—I will not put it higher than that —as to what exactly are the motives of this country in wishing to push forward schemes of migration. I am quite certain that that feeling does exist in Australia, and I think it is based upon the fear that migration would produce too large a flow of labour into that Continent and, in consequence, a depreciation in the standard of living. That is quite a reasonable fear, but I also think it is an unfounded one, because in this 20th century no one has any other motive than to try to raise the standard of living in every part of the Empire. We have left behind the days of Whig rule, just as we have got empty Whig benches to-night. Since the doctrine of laissez faire was put on one side, I do not think that fear can be justified. I do not think any body or any organisation could work more usefully than hon. Members on the benches opposite to remove this suspicion. If they would follow up the admirable work which they did in Australia recently and the speeches they made they could do more than anybody else to remove the last lingering suspicion which may exist in the minds of the Australian Labour party or any other similar organisations. If they will take up that task as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Burnley (Mr. A. Henderson) has done they can do an untold service. Much of the trouble and much of the suspicion is due to looking at this problem from one side only, from the point of view either of this country or of the Dominions, whereas the only way to get a true perspective is to look upon it as an Imperial problem as a whole. If we shut one eye or the other we get a wrong perspective, and suspicions are aroused.

Recently the Prime Minister of Australia initiated a most interesting Migration and Development Commission. From that we have heard of the work of that Commission it has been most successful, and I suggest to my right hon. Friend that it might be worth while to try to work out something upon the same lines in this country. I think that Commission is a very small one—it is none the worse for that—and devotes its whole time to the study of this problem; and without wishing to show any disrespect to the valuable work of the Oversea Settlement Committee I think that if we could have a similar body here it could do equally valuable work. It could collect information as to people who want to migrate, as to their age and sex and other particulars, and armed with this information—a kind of catalogue as it were— they could visit the Dominions and coordinate their knowledge with the knowledge which the Dominions would be able to give them.

Before I sit down, I want to say a word about training. There are in this country a great many different organisations for training, most of them very good, but not all of them, I believe, following the same methods. There is the training centre at Catterick, and institutions are working under the Ministry of Labour; and so forth. It might be worth while to set up some small Commission to go round to these various bodies to see the work they are doing, and to decide which form of training is the best. Having coordinated that information we could then push on with the training as fast as possible. It may be that it would cost money to do this, but I think it would be well spent. As we have got the credit, it is just as well to make use of it.

It is impossible to divorce this question from the question of trade. The two are Siamese twins and if we try to cut them asunder neither can live. Unless we find markets for the Dominions, they cannot take our population. The Empire Marketing Board, young as it is, is producing most valuable results, not only through research work but through advertisements of various forms and propaganda in our schools and elsewhere, and I hope it will not be starved by my right hon. Friend at the Treasury. I have only one criticism to make about it. I hope the Empire Marketing Board will not copy some of the posters which occasionally confront us. I saw one the other day which depicted a tempestuous sea and a liner doing its utmost to weather them, and at the same time exuberantly invited whoever might see it to visit one of the Dominions—apparently under similar titanic conditions. In my own case, the moment I saw that poster I thought what a brave man I had been ever to leave this island; and those who prepare the illustrated posters designed to persuade us to visit the Dominions might remember that there are some Englishmen who like myself only feel secure from the undulations of the ocean when they are on a 20,000-ton liner in the Suez Canal!

At times we have criticism that this country is over-populated. That is only a half truth. It may be there are more people in these small islands than we can at present comfortably support with any hope of raising the standard of our people as fast as we would wish; but the British Empire as a whole is underpopulated—there is a shortage rather than an excess of the British race in the world as a whole. And so the problem of migration is urgent. Though our Empire may be under-populated, there are many countries that are not, and the economic and geographical pressure to-day is all in favour of expansion. If anything, there is a land famine in the world to-day. Therefore, the world has a right to ask us as an Empire to discharge the responsibility which we have taken upon ourselves in this vast territory which is under our control. I do not know whether the House will accept my apology for this Motion or not, but I chose it because I believe there is no problem to-day which is more urgent, certainly none which will have in its future developments more far-reaching effects upon the future of the world,, and none which if we can solve it will more certainly contribute to the increased happiness of our people and to a richer measure of their prosperity.


I beg to second the Motion.

There are so many hon. Members who desire to take part in this Debate that i have undertaken to limit my remarks to 15 minutes. In that time I desire to put forward a plea for a more vigorous direction of our Empire development policy. If I say little of those aspects of this problem which are met with overseas it will be because of the limitation of my time, and I hope other hon. Members will be able to deal with some of those aspects. I approach this problem to-night from the point of view of the needs of our people at home. That their needs are serious can be gathered from a study of our trading returns. I could weary the House by numberless statistics, but I will spare hon. Members, and I will only draw attention to certain views regarding our trade with the Empire. The first one is this: As is stated in the opening sentence of this Motion, the proportion of our trade with the Empire has increased and continues to increase. I will give one or two figures in this connection. The percentage of British exports to the whole of the Empire has risen from 37.1 in 1913 to 40.1 in 1925. I take the year 1925 instead of 1926 because the latter was an abnormal year. The percentage of 40.1 in 1925 is considerably greater than the percentage of our exports taken by Europe, although Europe has a population larger by 30,000,000. I know many hon. Members are interested in Australia and New Zealand, and the same rise in the percentage is visible with regard to the trade of those two countries. The percentage of our exports to those two countries has risen from 86 in 1913 to 11.3 in 1925. I ask the House to compare 11.3 in 1925 with the percentage which was taken in that year by the whole of South America. In that year South America only took 8.8 of our exports. I may point out that the population of South America numbers 67,000,000 as compared with a population of 7,000,000 in Australia and New Zealand. Therefore it is obvious that our Empire markets have become of greater value to us since the War.

The second feature I would ask the House to observe with regard to our Empire trade is the higher proportion of manufactured goods which the Empire takes from us as compared with other countries. I will give one or two examples. Of our exports to the three southern Dominions no less than 92 per cent. consisted of manufactured goods while of our exports to Europe only 60 per cent. were manufactured goods. The third feature I ask the House to observe is that in Australia and New Zealand there is a high standard of living, and a comparatively equitable distribution of wealth. This renders those countries of particular importance to us because of the high quality of the products they require. An examination of their trade returns reveals item after item of highly finished goods in which Australia and New Zealand purchase from us annually more than any other country, and in many instances more than all the other countries put together. I could give sheets of examples but I will only take one or two. Take Axminster carpets. Of the total exports from this country Australia and New Zealand took 61 per cent. Take another very striking example, that of newsprint. Of our total exports those two Dominions took no less than 92 per cent. Take motor cars. Of those below 28 cwts. the percentage was 83 per cent. and above that weight, 52 per cent. I could multiply those cases from steel girders to writing paper, from electric wires to girls' costumes. All those articles and many others require several different processes of manufacture. They employ our skilled workers at higher rates of pay and consequently the markets for these articles are of the greatest importance to us.

These different features about our Empire markets show the increasing importance they are to us. When we remember the fact that large parts of the Empire are young countries, capable of immense development, surely that ought to cause us to pay greater attention to the development of our Empire markets for the sake of our own people at home.

At this point we are confronted by a formidable oligarchy of classical economists to whom the idea of special action with regard to any portion of our trade activities is abhorrent, to whom Australian trade is of no greater significance than the trade of any other country, and whose maxim is:"Let us leave well alone; our trade will find its own level, and will flourish as it has done in the past. "It must be very comfortable to live in such a complacent mood, but, J. would ask, are they justified in a mood of that kind? To me the outlook is far from reassuring. The Economic Section of the League of Nations recently made a survey of world trade, and, in the Memorandum which they have published, they come to this conclusion, that since 1913 both the population of the world and the volume of world trade have increased by 5 per cent.; and the question I would like to ask is, have we taken our share of that 5 per cent. increase? Let the Board of Trade answer. From the Board of Trade Journal we learn that in 1925— again I do not take the year 1926, because the figure would be too discouraging—in 1925 the volume of our trade was only 76 per cent. of what it was in 1913. Those two figures, the one showing the upward curve of world trade, and the other showing the decline of British trade, with its accompanying tale of idle ships, damped-down furnaces, and smokeless chimneys— those two figures side by side are full of menace to our own people. They mean that gone for ever is the day of our facile supremacy, that, instead of being the universal provider, we have to meet formidable competition from every country. Surely it means that, if we are to get employment for our people at home, we have to pursue a much more vigorous policy of Empire development than we are pursuing at present.

Before asking for a more vigorous policy, it is right to remember what has already been done, and it is right to recognise that there are conditions which place a limit on our own action. My hon. and gallant Friend has already referred to the Empire Marketing Board. I would only add to what he said that I hope that that great experiment will receive a full and fair run. It is too early yet, and it may be several years before striking Jesuits can be obtained from it, but it would be a disaster if, because of the absence of those results, that great experiment were brought to a premature end. Then I would ask the House to recognise that I do realise that it is not only what we do here that matters in this question of the development of the Empire. Obviously, there are limitations upon any action which we can take, imposed by conditions overseas. I was one of those who had the good fortune and high privilege of going to Australia last year as a guest of the Australian Government. I came back from that tour, as I believe we all did, with a profound belief in the future of that great Dominion, and convinced that ultimately she will be able to carry a greatly increased population But I also came back with some disappointment that the immediate outlook was not more promising than it is. I have not the time to develop or go into that subject to-night, but I would say that that is no excuse for us at our end postponing action, or not setting our own house in order, for we found in Australia that there was a very large and strong public opinion which realised the necessity for increased population in the Dominion, and we also found, as my hon. and gallant Friend has mentioned, that the Commonwealth Government had set up the Development and Migration Commission, and that, at any rate, was a promise that the problem is going to be tackled. Therefore, I would say that we should not rely upon the outlook in Australia never changing. I, for one, hope that it will soon change, and, at any rate, I would ask, are not the prospects for development in Canada surely much brighter?

I come now to the question of our own policy, and I would ask the House this question: How is our present policy conducted? I would ask the House to observe that it is spread over a number of different Departments. There is in one place the Ministry of Labour, responsible for certain training schemes. I understand that some 360 men have already been trained, and that that scheme, so far as it goes, is regarded as a success; but when we remember the extent of our problem, and the fact that in some of our northern cities half of the boys who leave school every year are unable to find permanent employment, and that it is just that age of youth that is required by Australia, as well as by other Dominions to-day, can we say that those two schemes, producing only 360 men, are a real attempt to grapple with that part of the problem? Then there is the Department of Overseas Trade, which maintains, I believe, two, or possibly three, trade Commissioners in Australia. We found in Australia not only a fiscal preference for British goods that is of great value, but also a voluntary preference that is of even greater value. People in Australia seemed to me to be anxious to buy British goods wherever they could; they frequently complained that they were unable to do so. Can we say that the Department of Overseas Trade is giving a sufficient lead to our traders in that market? I would only ask the House to think what would have happened if those two advantages of fiscal and voluntary preference had been laid at the feet of the American Department of Commerce under Mr. Hoover. Would not the whole Dominion have been swamped long ago by American goods?

And then there is the Treasury. I hesitate to speak on financial matters, about which I know very little, but I would ask, is our credit never to be used for the Empire? I would point to Western Australia, where there is, I think, a completely unanimous desire to proceed as swiftly and as strongly as possible in a policy of development of that State; but how long can that State, with its very limited resources, bear the burden of a great scheme like that which they are undertaking in their group settlement area? Is not the time already approaching when they will be unable to continue with that scheme? I would ask, cannot the Treasury have some vision in this matter, and at any rate help that State? Can they not at least consider whether it would not be possible to alter the 50-50 rule under the Empire Settlement Act.

Then there is the Colonial Office. Everyone knows the keenness with which the Secretary of State regards these matters, but he has to boar the burden of a vast and varied dependent Empire, coupled with the responsibility of looking after our Imperial relations. I do not wonder that he finds but little time to impart a vigorous direction to our policy of Empire development. The Oversea Settlement Committee, to which is delegated the supervision of Empire settlement schemes, may do the most necessary and admirable work in haggling over details of various settlement schemes, and they produce an annual report which must give satisfaction at any rate to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for we read year after year that of the total amount they are allowed to spend on settlement schemes the sum they do not spend far exceeds the sum they do spend. All these Departments and fractions of Departments are only toying with this great issue, and it is all the more disappointing when we remember the great faith which used to reside, and I believe still resides, in the breast of everyone, at any rate on these benches. I recall the speeches in 1924 of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, models of argument and inspiration to everyone who has a faith in Empire development. I would ask where has that faith gone. Scarcely has there been a passing reference in the last two years from his lips. I do not accuse him of losing his faith. I know that is not the case. What has happened is that it has been blurred by the cares and details of Departmental work, and what is required is that there should be a Minister, or at any rate an individual, quite free from other duties whose job it would be to give directive energy to this great policy, who should recapture the faith before it fades, and who should coordinate the scattered fragments of these Departments and inspire their activities with the energy which at present is lacking.

I must not be thought to believe that this alone will solve the problem. I recognise that there are difficulties all round the problem. If I do not mention them it is because I have already exceeded my time. But if these difficulties are there they are there to be surmounted, and they will not be surmounted unless we are prepared at this end to put a vigorous driving power behind this policy. Therefore I ask, as the first step? that it should be considered whether it would not be possible to place some Minister in charge of all these scattered fragments of Departments and infuse new life into them. Where there is no vision, the people perish. 9.0.p.m.

That is a very hackneyed phrase, but was it ever more literally true than in this case? Our people are bound to perish if we lack the vigour and the vision for a strong Empire development policy. The results which beckon us to action are so bright and so alluring, to those who are prepared to go out, a hard life—do not let us conceal that—but fresh chances in the new world, to those who remain at home fresh markets for the products of their activities, and all the time we are helping to abolish the great dangers which overhang our commonwealth of nations, the danger of over-population on this side and the danger of rich but empty spaces overseas. It is because of the need we feel and the results we foresee that I say to the Government that the pursuit of a more vigorous policy of Empire development will receive the overwhelming assent, I believe, of all parties in the House.


I have no desire to disturb the harmony of this discussion and hinder the most favourable development for an impartial and friendly consideration of this very important problem. I had put an Amendment on the Paper, not for the purpose of opposing the object of the Mover of the Resolution but for the purpose, as we thought, of strengthening the policy of settlement as a solution of the problem at which this Motion is aimed. But in order that there should be no misunderstanding as to our sympathy with the Resolution, we have withdrawn the Amendment. At the same time, I want to express a point of view which may not be perhaps widely expressed. I may possibly be the only one to express it. The Mover of the Resolu- tion said, very correctly, that although no one questions the immense importance in the days in which we are living of securing an extension of our relationship with the Dominions, both with a view to finding suitable dwelling-places for many people in this country who find it difficult to obtain an adequate living here but also for the purpose of inter-Dominion and home trade, there is widespread suspicion that behind this enthusiasm, on the part of perhaps some Members on all sides of the House, to push the question of emigration and Empire settlement there are motives which are not entirely free from self-interest. There can be no doubt that amongst large sections of the working classes of this country there is a feeling that the proposals with regard to emigration and Dominion settlement are mooted with the desire to get rid from this country of people who are regarded as being superfluous. There is that suspicion, and the feeling that they are not considered worth while to be organised for or to be provided for and that, therefore, this is a method of getting rid of unemployed for whom we have no normal use. I am not saying that there is adequate ground for that suspicion, although it is widespread. There is a similar feeling in the Dominions. The suspicion in the Dominions is that what we are concerned about and what our Government are concerned about is to dump there our surplus population.

The Government would be wise and this House would be wise to visualise this problem of emigration and Empire trade not simply upon one line alone, but to regard the question of land settlement in so far as it is concerned with the development of inter-British and Dominion trade as one to be pursued upon parallel lines. In order to get the co-operation and good will of all sections of the community, political and social, in connection with facilities to further the object in view, the Government ought to show the same enthusiasm and the same interest in regard to land settlement in England that they show in regard to overseas settlement. If they were to do that, it would clear away a good deal of the suspicion that what we really want is to get rid of our surplus population. I want to urge the Government to look upon this question in that light. I am very glad to see the Prime Minister in his place. While I would suggest that every encouragement should be given to, and increased facilities provided for those who desire to go from this country to the Dominions, that all essential training should be provided and that they should not be simply dumped down without training, I would like the problem at home to be visualised in the same way.

What are the facts? From 1908 to 1914 we actually settled in England and Wales 14,000 people upon the land. Under the Smallholders Act, 1908, we settled, under the county councils, 14,000 people upon the land in this country. What is more important, we settled those 14,000 people in those six years with practically no expense to the State. The Act of 1908 was a self-supporting Act administered by the county councils. I should certainly be within the mark in saying that, as far as the State was concerned, beyond some small amount for administration, there was no expense whatever. The Land Settlement Act, 1919, was a specialised Act. for ex-service men. Under that Act we have settled 16,000 men upon land in this country, making a total of 30,000 altogether and accounting for a population of 130,000. It will be said, as it has been said often, with great misrepresentation, that our schemes of settlement in this country have been enormously expensive. I suggest to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for the Dominions, that an examination of the costs will reveal an exactly opposite point of view.

We have had it stated by a representative from the Australian Commonwealth at a meeting in this House to-day, that it costs in West Australia £2,600 to settle one ex-soldier. In another State of Australia it costs £1,000 to settle a person. He also stated that under the present proposals—which I say we should encourage by all means and get them put upon the best basis—even in the most favourable circumstances under the scheme visualised in the Motion before the House, it will cost in West Australia £1,800 per settler. The Government would do well to give consideration on two parallel lines to the question of providing for settlement both in the Dominions and at home. They should say to the British working classes, whether agricultural labourers, miners or any other classes suitable for and desirous of making land settlement their careers: "We will give them, under a well organised scheme, a chance either in England or in the Dominions." If that could be done, it would be a wise course. What are the facts in regard to parallel costs? What are the facts given this afternoon by the representative of the Australian Government? In 1908, we settled 14,000 without any cost to the State. Under the 1919 Act, which was expressly for ex-service men, many of whom were not suitable for settlement, and who were dealt with from the point of view of war recompense—


On a point of Order. We are dealing with the question of migration to the Colonies and Dominions, but the hon. Member is dealing now entirely with England on the argument that he is describing parallel lines of action.

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)

There must be limits within which the hon. Member must keep in describing what is being done in England, for the purpose of his general argument. If the hon. Member keeps within those limits in describing what has been done in this country by way of assisting settlement on the land, he is not out of order, but it is not possible for him to go into detail.


I was going on to suggest that what has been carried out in regard to Empire settlement should be extended to Great Britain, and that we should pursue the policy upon parallel lines. If we do that, we could get the maximum support from all parties in the work of settlement and mutual co-operation between the Dominions and the Mother Country. Under the Act of 1919, the total cost is estimated to be £8,000,000. That £8,000,000 is for ex-service men and spread over six years it works out at £500 per person settled, a much less figure than is the case now in regard to settlement under the Empire scheme. A further reason for urging that these two sides of the same problem should be pursued concurrently is the interesting fact alluded to earlier in the Debate, that whilst we are asking for further facilities for Empire settlement, we have had for the last four or five years 20,000 men in this country who have applied and are waiting for settlement here at home. Therefore, I suggest to the Government and those who are specially interested in the promotion of Empire settlement, that if they desire to get the maximum support for the worthy purpose they have in view, they can best obtain that by showing the same interest in England as they do in the Dominions.


In view of the recent warnings against long speeches, I only wish to say a few words on this subject. In spite of the disappointment at the slow development of Empire settlement, I think the discussions in the recent Imperial Conference did much to give us new assurances that we are increasingly able to move populations successfully. The Prime Minister of Australia, speaking on this subject, used the metaphor of a snowball. The way, he said, would be prepared so that in a few years Australia would be able to take a large number of people. He appeared to think that in his country the old prejudices were disappearing. In this country, too, I believe such prejudices have diminished. Surely. nothing could do more to make such prejudices and suspicions evaporate as the establishment of the fact that, schemes for settlement were working out satisfactorily and that the new settlers were being absorbed successfully, from their own point of view and from the point of view of the Dominions themselves. The Oversea Settlement Sub-Committee of the Imperial Conference held the view that progress could only be made by scientific and well-considered schemes, and I have no doubt that this is true. But the question still remains to what extent these schemes will induce would-be settlers from this country.

One hears it said that if there were better facilities for removing families from England to the Dominions, there would be many applicants. That may be so. But one must recognise that the mind of the young man or woman who is out of employment, or who is in uncongenial employment, does not consider as readily as might be the possibility of new opportunities overseas. The problem appears to be largely psychological; consequently, one is inclined to look around for any psychological forces which have not been enlisted in this cause. The only one I can think of is the call of civic patriotism. The House will remember the adoption by cities in this country of towns and villages in the devastated areas in France. I should be very slow to suggest the creation of any new organisation without some very particular purpose, but surely it is conceivable that some of the great cities or groups of cities in Great Britain might see their way, if openings were assured, to accept a measure of responsibility for peopling and keeping in touch with districts overseas—districts which possibly might even bear their name. The scale of such an undertaking, the measure of responsibility, would of course be governed by the zeal and ability with which the municipality took up the idea.

It is scarcely necessary to observe that, quite apart from Imperial sympathies, every ratepayer would have a direct interest in the solution of this problem, related as it is to the problem of unemployment. Under such a scheme, presumably the Dominiors would be responsible for the cost of improvements on the farms, but perhaps something could be done at this end to meet, or help to meet, the temporary cost of new settlers, such as training, which the hon. Member opposite suggested should be done. Whether this assistance be practicable or not, I submit that the general idea of such a scheme might reasonably be expected to offer a considerable inducement, a real encouragement, to those who might be considering going overseas. They would go out in the company of fellow-citizens to a district where they would find at any rate some of their own traditions being carried on, and the feeling of being exiled into the unknown and under the operations of a remote Government Department would to a great extent be overcome. Many towns, I have no doubt, would very soon spring up and form themselves into one locality. I believe a great deal of this would apply also to county associations. They too, I think, would supply an incentive of their own, possibly less strong than that of the cities, but they could at any rate offer many facilities. I know something of the good work done by the Kent Migration Committee. If. as I believe, this is largely a scientific question, I can imagine no better system under which great intimacy of action, a more lively interest between the Dominions and England, could be established and maintained.


At the outset I desire to say that I agree with the Mover of the Resolution, when he said that what is needed is more confidence in the Dominions, that any action this House might take, or the people of this country might take, is not with a desire of lowering the standard of life of the people in Canada or Australia. I say with the greatest confidence that the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues did a lot when they were in Australia to remove that misapprehension There is no doubt the apprehension exists, but it is not well founded, because anyone who has gone into the question of migration knows that it is impossible to dump down even a few thousand migrants, because the money cost would be too great. We had the advantage this afternoon of hearing Mr. Angwin, recently Minister of Land and Immigration in Western Australia, and he stated that even in the States most favourable to immigration it would cost at least £1,800 per family. I am afraid if we arc going to dump down our surplus of one and a quarter millions of unemployed at a cost of £1,800 per family, it is going to cost more money than either Western Australia or the whole of Australia can afford. This I do say, that there is a country which is crying out for people and they are crying out for British people. The thing which struck us most in Western Australia and Australia generally was the intense, shall I say, pride of race which these people possess. [An HON. MEMBER: "What race?"] Pride of race, whether Scotch, Welsh or Irish. We met a lot of Scotsmen and a few Englishmen, too. As I was saying, these people out there are very proud that 08 per cent of the total population of Australia is British.

I feel that unless these places are populated by British people they will be populated by some other people, because the world will not allow a Continent like that to remain almost empty while people are crying out to go there. Therefore I am very strongly of opinion that we cannot solve the unemployment problem in Great Britain by emigration. I am one of those who think it is not fair or right to ask anybody to leave their homeland—because after all, bad as this homeland has been for some of us, it is our homeland and we do not want to leave it if it is possible to get a living here. I would welcome nothing more than the proposition put up by the hon. Member for Dewsbury that we should settle people on the land here. I wish it could be done, but for reasons over which we have no control, it is not being done and the land of England is not being settled. The country which we visited is crying out for people and I am interested in a proposition which I happened to get hold of while I was in Australia. It was put before me as an example of what Australia can do for people with capital, and I shall be pleased to let anybody look at it. It is a proposition put by a co-operative society in Western Australia called Westralian Farmers, Limited, a form of society which has been of great use to the co-operators there and to the co-operators in this country by selling goods collected from their members. It is a district 11 miles north of the railway station and comprises 3,216 acres, with 17 inches of rainfall; 1,748 acres are cleared; it has 19 paddocks and a four-roomed house, five out-buildings, 90 sheep, 14 horses, three cattle, and 18 agricultural implements, and the total price of the whole, including sheep, the house, cattle and the rest, is £2 17s. 6d. per acre. I am inclined to think that there are farmers in this country who, if they had an idea of the opportunity which is awaiting them if they have capital, would avail themselves of the opportunity of going to that land of promise.

We had many experiences while out there. The quaintest experience I had was reading an article in a newspaper at a place called Bundaburg. The leading article in this particular newspaper said that Australia did not want any more hewers of wood or drawers of water —otherwise land workers. It said they had all the land workers they wanted, and what they really wanted was a few Bradfords and Sheffields—a few, not one. When you remember that Bradford can supply one-quarter of the requirements of the whole of this globe and this particular town wants a few, I should imagine that is rather a big proposition. I would not like any words of mine,, either written or spoken, to be taken as inducing people to leave this country to settle in the towns in Australia. I believe there is not only an abundance of people in the towns and cities, but there is a superabundance, but I believe, also, that there are thousands of men in this country who have got a land hunger here. When I am asked what kind of individual I would attract to Australia, I say, in the first place, I would not try to attract the agricultural worker here to go to be an agricultural worker abroad, because I am convinced that the average agricultural labourer in this country is anxious for the opportunity to live in the towns. I am rather of the opinion that if we were to transfer such men to Australia they would take the first opportunity of going to the towns. If I am asked what kind of man should go to Australia, I say the type of man Australia needs is typified in every large manufacturing town and every colliery district of Great Britain.

He is the man who, after working a 43 or 50 or 56 hours, is cultivating, with such intensity and love of the land, a small allotment. He is exploring what can be done by growing things, and if I were given the opportunity of taking a thousand people to Australia I would search the villages, towns and mining districts where men will spend 20 and 30 hours a week on their allotments after performing really heavy manual work— not for the profit they make out of agriculture but for the love and joy of producing some of the necessities of life. I believe if these men were given an opportunity of expressing what they can get out of the land—not out of a 100 square yards, for I suggest to the Secretary of State for the Dominions that such men need the opportunity of expressing their love for the land in 100 acres instead of a 100 square yards—I do think they would be able to prove that while there is the hunger of the countryman to go into the towns, there is, on the other hand, equally the hunger of the town worker to get back to the land.

I would also offer another suggestion: that the men who go out ought to have an opportunity of training. I, along with others, spoke to the ex-soldiers who had come from Catterick Camp and I asked one of them: "What is your opinion of the training you received at Catterick?" I think other members of the delegation will agree that every man who was spoken to was enthusiastic of the training that was given to them there and its value, but there was a proviso. One of them said very regretfully, "Yes, it was a fine training, but it is going to be five years before we can utilise that training." When asked how that was, they said: "Here we are with 125 acres of uncleared bush land." Bush land might suggest plantations four or five feet high, but these were up to 150 feet high and often 30 feet in girth. They said this was bush land, and by the time they had got the 125 acres cleared they were of opinion that the knowledge they had gained at Catterick would very largely have been forgotten.

I would suggest to this House—and I ought to say that the Secretary of State for the Dominions has taken the suggestion very very kindly indeed—that the men and women from the towns who go over there to settle expect they are going to be farmers and, in the words of one of them, they turn out to be "amateur bush-whackers." If they could have just a few acres of land ideated, it would be a great incentive to these people who leave the town expecting to be farmers and do not turn out to be farmers, to have the ground which is provided by the State of Western Australia, and here I would give credit to that State for doing all that is possible to induce the right type of people to go out to Australia.

No doubt other members of the delegation want to have an opportunity of speaking, but there is one point on which I would like to touch, and that is with regard to trade. I do not think we ought to talk entirely about migration, but also about trade. We motored some 5,000 to 6,000 miles, and therefore we had an excellent opportunity of judging the roads of Australia and of trying to judge the type of motor vehicle: that the Australians need. Several times we were laid flat on the road while our wheels were digging a hole deeper and net moving any further. We were struck, particularly in the towns, by the enormous number of foreign motor cars in use. It appeared to me that there was only about one British car in 20. I am told that that figure is not correct. At all events it was very seldom that we saw a British car. I am a firm believer in the motor car of Great Britain, and so I wrote to one of the large motor manufacturers of this country saying that I had been to Australia, that I had had an opportunity of judging the roads there and testing the feeling of the people as to what kind of car they needed—a lower geared car, a car of greater horse power than our foolish tax in this country induces the manufacturer to build; and I suggested that I would be very pleased to come down and meet this firm at my own expense and talk to them about the kind of car that I thought Australia needed.

I tried to give this firm the idea that if they spoke with members of the delegation we might be able to put them on the right track as to the kind of car that Australia wanted. I got a very polite letter in reply. The firm stated what they were doing and hoped to do, and said that under the circumstances no useful purpose would be served by granting such an interview. To my mind that is the very acme of stupidity. I do suggest that, although we did not know very much, at least we have been on the spot and have obtained an idea of what Australia needs. As I said, I received a polite refusal. It was not a curt refusal, but a polite refusal, two pages of politeness; but the fact remains that the British manufacturer did not want to know from someone who had been on the spot what kind of motor car Australia needed. The opinion that I was going to express to that firm was not only an individual opinion, but the collective opinion of almost the whole of the members of the delegation. It was regrettable to us to see the enormous number of motor cars from other countries being used in Australia.

Finally, I would say that if one good thing has been done by the generous invitation of the Australian Government to members of the British delegation, it is that instead of these places being merely names on the maps and people being merely names on paper, they are now places that we have seen and men whom we have got to know and whom we respect. It has strengthened the bond between the Governments over there and the Government here. I hope very sincerely that our Government some day will extend a similar invitation to the people of Australia to come over here and to see what our people can do. We have seen Australia, and a beautiful country it is. I hope that at an early date they will have an opportunity of coming to see our country. Then, with regard to the great controversy that is going on between the Dominions and ourselves as to the tariff walls they are putting up against us, I think that some day, when we get that British Commonwealth of nations cemented, we may be able to get a real Imperial Conference which will sit down and discuss which particular part of the Commonwealth can produce an article in the most economical manner.

I do not want the Australian, New Zealand or Canadian people to be hewers of wood and drawers of water all their lives, but I do say that there is a great granary there which ought to be thoroughly exploited for the benefit of the people at home, and if we can take away the fear of people in those other countries that their wages conditions will be lowered or their standard of life reduced, and if we can see that people are not migrated in a haphazard fashion, but that every person is migrated under good conditions and that a genuine opportunity will be provided for him when he gets there, and that some of the land now locked will be unlocked—if a movement of that description can be supported by such a Resolution as this, the desire expressed by the Mover will be happily fulfilled.

Lieut.-Colonel GAULT

In rising to support the Motion so ably moved by the hon. and gallant Member for Warwick and Leamington (Captain Eden), I wish to say at the outset that in my opinion this subject of migration and of the redistribution of the British peoples among the component parts of the British Commonwealth is one which, seeing that it is of vital concern not only to England but to the overseas Dominions, should be kept as far as possible outside the stormy arena of party politics. From what I have seen in the House this evening, I am certain that the principle at which the Motion aims will be supported by all parties, although I see only one hon. Member of the Liberal party here at the moment. When one stops to view the increase in our population from the days of Elizabeth, when the total was only some 4,000,000 or 5,000,000, to 100 years ago, when it had reached a total of about 15,000,000, and compares it with the very rapid growth which has resulted since then, bringing our population at the present time to about 43,000,000, one cannot contemplate without a certain degree of alarm, if not of dread, a continuation of the normal increase of our population unless we are able to find for them an outlet through migration to the younger lands of our Empire, with their vast opportunities and their untold wealth.

I think that most of us will agree with the French economist of the seventeenth century who said that all wealth originally comes from the land. Certain it is that wealth in its elementary form orginates from this source. It is only by the development of raw materials that our standard of civilisation can be maintained to-day. If this is accepted I think we can have no difficulty in realising the needs of the Overseas Dominions, needs which mean added man-power, coupled with capital, with which to develop their unlimited natural resources. Any scheme into which we may enter with reference to the Overseas Dominions must be worked out very carefully. For instance, we must not regard the Dominions as dumping grounds for our surplus population. It would be manifestly unfair for us to encourage the migration of those who might become a charge upon the rates in those Dominions. On the other hand. we want to see that all the best of our skilled labour is not induced by bright promises held out by the Dominions to leave these shores where they are so greatly in demand. This question involves close attention, but I am convinced that these matters of detail can well be left to the representatives of the Governments concerned and that a working scheme can be attained, to the mutual advantage of all concerned. As the representative of an ' agricultural division I agree with the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley) in his remark that everything possible should be done to create openings for as many of our people as possible on the land in the home country. But I would remind him that we have a population of 43,000,000, that our acreage is only 38,000,000 and that the available acreage of arable and pasture land and rough pasture land only amounts to some 30,000,000.


May I remind the hon. and gallant Member on that point that we had 4,000,000 acre3 more under cultivation 50 years ago than we have now.

Lieut.-Colonel GAULT

That is a figure of which I am aware, and I am glad to be reminded of it, because it help?, me in making my point. It is true that in the last 5 years our rural population has most regrettably declined and, as I have said, we ought to do everything in our power to encourage settlement on the-land. But even if we got back to four million or five million people on the land, we still have an increasing population, based upon the increase of the last hundred years, to look after, and I cannot but feel, when one compares the density of population in the United Kingdom with the density of population in the Dominions —it is 467 to the square mile in this country, in New Zealand it is only 12, and in Australia and in Canada only two— that we must agree that, from an Empire point of view, we may be over-populated here and under-populated overseas. I have referred to the difficulty in arranging a proper quota for migration out of England and, again, speaking as a Member for an agricultural division, I take this opportunity of voicing a complaint which I have heard from many of my constituents, farmers and others, as to the propaganda and advertisements put forward by transportation companies to secure agricultural workers for migration overseas. With the hon. Member for Dewsbury I feel this is a matter which ought to be closely considered and we ought to be most careful not to denude our agricultural districts of the people who live there at this time. To my mind, the solution can be found, perhaps, in training our surplus townspeople for the development of the undeveloped districts overseas.

We have many examples of successful settlers who have gone abroad within the Empire and have made good upon the land. I do not wish to weary the House with anecdotes, but there are many cases of those who have gone forth from the home land and gained distinction in the Dominions. The story of a Prime Minister of Saskatchewan typifies the spirit of migration within the Empire. He left England as a boy. I think he had an appointment as office boy in some firm in this country, and in the course of a comparatively few years he became Prime Minister of a country which, if developed, could easily supply the home land with all the grain it might require. During one of his visits to the Motherland he met one who had also gone forth but who had returned and who, when asked about his experiences in Canada, replied that he had gone there with enthusiasm, full of belief in what he would be able to achieve but that he had not been fortunate. He said he had gone out believing it to be "a land flowing with milk and honey." So the Prime Minister of Saskatchewan asked him whether, believing Canada to be a land flowing with milk and honey, he had, by any chance, kept bees there; and if he had not kept bees whether he had kept cows. The individual in question admitted that he had not done so, and the Prime Minister replied, "How can you expect to find a land flowing with milk and honey if you have not the iniative and skill to keep bees and cows?" I think that pretty well describes the spirit of success in migration. A senior member of this House remarked to me in conversation not long ago that one of our chief difficulties in regard to migration and also in regard to finance, arose from the fact that we so frequently sent out money overseas for investment without men to look after it, and sent men overseas without any capital behind them. I do not want to go into the question of finance, but I think this remark was right as regards successful migration. There is no doubt it is a great help to the migrant if he has something behind him to help him in his initial endeavours to make good in a new country. It is therefore with the greatest pleasure that I support the Motion.

I should like to allude to the existing machinery for overseas settlement which has been acting smoothly and efficiently heretofore but which, in my opinion, is perhaps insufficient to cope with the ever increasing number of our population. The fault, if fault there be, I should think, lies not with the home authorities, but with perhaps a very natural disinclination on the part of the overseas Governments after the War to add the problem of immigration to their post-War burdens, but I am glad to note that there is every sign that this is changing, if that point of view has not already changed. I am perfectly satisfied with the figures which, I see, are the immigration figures of Canada for 1926, which show that, as some 86,000 Europeans and Americans have been absorbed into the country, while only 48,000 of our own people have gone out, that country, at any rate, should be able to absorb a larger proportion of the English race. I sincerely trust that the Government will lose no opportunity of doing everything in their power to co-operate with the overseas Governments, to enlarge the power of absorbing British people by the Dominions, and to stimulate the pioneer spirit of our people at home to go forth, not only to create new wealth and develop new lands, but to build up a greater Britain overseas, fit for the habitation of the millions of British people yet unborn.


It has been a great pleasure to experience the spirit in which this discussion has been carried on to-night. It is extremely important that, on a subject of this kind, we should be as free as possible from party considerations. We have a very broad simple problem, as regards its statement, in the fact that we have a densely crowded country at home, and a number of Dominions overseas which are very sparsely populated. Something has been said to-night about the difficulty of coordinating these two factors. It is true that we have, in the first place, suspicion at home. We have the suspicion that the authorities here will be glad to encourage emigration with a view to reducing unemployment and the pressure of the large population here, and it is im-po7-tant. I think, that the working people in this country, and especially trade unions and other bodies of that kind, should get a different idea of what the Empire stands for than what is expressed in that conception. Undoubtedly, also, there is some suspicion in our Dominions in regard to the possibility of the dumping of our unemployed on them, and it is very important that this should be removed, because, if it is not removed, it means that the immigrant is unwelcome, has rather a difficult time, and does not act as a recruiter, but sends home word which deters others from going out.

10.0 p.m.

The last speaker, the hon. and gallant Member for Taunton (Lieut.-Colonel Gault), referred to Canada and to a point which struck me during the short time I was there, and that is the number of Central European emigrants who go to Canada compared with the number of British, and I think that is a very serious thing indeed. I believe myself to be a good Internationalist, but I would prefer to see Canada peopled by our own race, especially for one reason, and that is because I am suspicious of the fact that these Central Europeans go there, and are welcomed in certain quarters there, because they have a lower standard of life than we have. It seems to me that this is one of the matters which the Canadian Government will require to look into. There have been numerous complaints about emigrants going to Canada and having to put up with a great deal of unemployment. There is considerable unemployment in Canada in the towns during the winter. We must sympathise, of course, with the difficulties of the problem. The great severity of the winter and the amount of seasonal employment there make the problem certainly a difficult one, but it must, I think, be tackled before we can expect Canada to receive as many of our people as certainly she could contain. Belated to that problem is the tremendous drain from Canada into the United States every year, especially of the second generation of immigrants, which keeps Canada from accumulating that population with which we would like to see her.

Australia has been already dealt with. I did not see very much of New Zealand, but I understand that most of the good land there is already taken up, and that there is not much opportunity for new migrants going on Crown lands in New Zealand. Unless they have capital with which to purchase good land, they have not very much chance of success as farmers. In Australia, we have the land difficulty again. In New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, to get land is practically an impossibility for anyone without a considerable amount of capital, and it is only in Queensland and West Australia that a migrant without capital has really any chance of success at all as a small farmer. The problem in Australia and Canada is the same, to some extent, as we have here, and it is a very remarkable thing to find it so. You have in Canada, with its great empty spaces, and also in Australia, tremendous towns, towns with over a million inhabitants. It always struck me as being very strange, if there were all those opportunities and all those wonderful potentialities on the land, if it were all that was said, why it was that so many people, some of them not too happy in their circumstances, not too well off, stayed in these big towns of a million inhabitants, and did not go out to the wilds and take those advantages which are pictured to our people here.

It seems to me that we are up against the difficulty all over the world of making the countryside attractive. There is no doubt that, with the development of modern civilisation, with the multiplication of the means of amusement and pleasure in the towns there is great difficulty in keeping people in the country. There is also the question of making the country attractive from the economic point of view, and? think there is no doubt that in most places the country life, whether it is that of a farmer or a farm worker, has represented the Cinderella of the occupations in which people may indulge. For that reason, towns become populous. and I think their tremendous growth and development are undesirable and are a menace to the success of the country as a whole.

I would like, in closing, to say a word in favour of the training at home. I think that, while we are expecting the Dominions, like Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, to look into the conditions of the migrants who go there, we ought to tackle it also at our end, and see that the migrants are in a position to make good in those countries. It is quite ridiculous to send people, as we have done, to West Australia, to these group settlements, which are mainly for dairy farming, and to have some of these unfortunate people not knowing one end of a cow from the other. That is a very awkward situation when you have to milk a cow, and there are many other points like that which make the lot of these people difficult. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Mackinder) in saying that people who have had a training at Catterick find a pleasure in their work. Everyone finds a pleasure in his work when he feels he knows something about it, and he finds a pleasure in it which these other unfortunate people, who are struggling along with town ideas, never have. I think the development of the Ministry of Labour training colonies in this country would be a very useful and desirable effort.

It is a terrible tragedy that since the War we have spent £380,000,000 in public relief, largely for unemployment, and yet we have nothing at all to show for it. If we spent that kind of money now in some big scheme of this kind, both at home and in the Dominions, it would be a real asset not only to our country bur, to the Empire. I do hope that as a result of this discussion something will be clone to enlarge these Training Centres. We have any number of people who are eager to go to them and, while we do not want to force people out of the country, yet we want to give those who have the old adventurous spirit of our race and who can be happy in the Dominions, every opportunity to go with the best equipment possible.


One is used, at other times and in other places, to hear other members of the party opposite speaking of the British Empire as if it were a sort of dodge of the capitalists to undo the proletariat. I only mention that in order to express the appreciation which one feels upon an occasion such as this to hear speeches delivered from those benches with real knowledge and understanding of Imperial problems. I think that nobody has spoken to-night who does not prescribe to our article of belief that the British Empire, under Providence, is the greatest force for good in the modern world, not only from the point of view of the outside world as a keeper of the peace but as the promoter of prosperity at home. Hon. Members opposite have referred to suspicions, which they said they did not share, about the objects of the propaganda for Imperial migration. Let us implore them to join us in clearing those suspicions away and in making this movement a success. If there is anything which calls for criticism in the speeches delivered from the benches opposite, it is the tendency to treat this great question too much as a question affecting only the relief of unemployment in this country. It affects all the members of our great family of nations equally. It must be looked at as a question which has sidelights corning from all around, and not from a single country. It should not be dealt with as a cure for abnormal unemployment. But it is a method for the prevention of unemployment by the creation of fresh supplies of cheap food and raw materials for this country and by the creation of fresh markets for this country. To look upon it too much from the point of view of the relief of unemployment would be perhaps an error. Nevertheless, that applies only to abnormal unemployment, but when you find that in one great member of the family of nations unemployment is becoming practically normal,, then another aspect is presented. We are told by the Blanesburgh Committee that 750,000 is to be the average number of unemployed in this country, clear proof that there is need of a shifting of the white population from this country to other less populated countries. Let us not, in this high matter, be too anxious to count the cost. What is the proportion in regard to this matter? Two little sets of figures will show what the proportion is. The first big work for the proper distribution of our white population is the development scheme in Australia. That is to cost us £6,000,000 out of £34,000,000, under which, in the course of 10 years, we are to get 450,000 persons settled in Australia and great development works carried out as well. £6,000,000! What did unemployment cost us last year? Counting the burden upon the wage earners and the employers and the State, and taking into account the rates as well as the taxes, it cost us £60,000,000. Compare the two sums and see whether more courage is not needed in spending money to save money, spending on emigration rather than on relief.

Take the other big work that is being done for Imperial migration at the moment to Canada. What are we spending? We are lending to enterprising and hard-working families £300 a piece against another £300 lent by the Canadian Government in order to settle 3,000 families producing upon the land; £300 a head for 3,000 families. What is the cost of maintaining an unemployed man in this country? I estimate, if you calculate that unemployment is to be wiped out in ten years, that the present value of the cost of keeping an unemployed man in this country is at least £300. It is probably more like £500. Which is the more beneficial, from the point of view of business, lending £300 to go and produce or giving a man £300 as maintenance in this country for no production at all? If a sense of proportion might grow from those figures, I think it would point towards a more courageous policy in expenditure on this subject, because on the one hand the money spent is spent for the moral welfare of the people involved and, on the other, the unemployment dole is money spent for their moral degradation.

The problem now is much larger than it used to be. You cannot just take the unemployed man and toss him out without equipment or capital and count on his falling upon his feet. It is not as it was 150 or 200 years ago, when you had awaiting your surplus population unoccupied lands with no community upon them. Now there has been great development, and to put a man or a woman in that developed country needs two things— training and capital. These new communities are developed on different lines from our own. They are not like our own industrial communities, but they are agricultural communities, so that to take our folk and send them there you have to provide for conversion of our surplus population from industrial to agricultural. That points to drawing this moral; that where the courage is needed in spending money is in training.

The most profitable way in which you can spend that money at present is in the development of the training institutions for making our surplus population suitable for employment in the great overseas Dominions. Three chief needs will be fulfilled by that policy—an Imperial need in the Dominions as well as in the home country—the home country's need in the special circumstances in which it finds itself after the War—and, last but by no means least, the need for a way out into a life of adventure for our young and active folk.


There are one or two points to which I would like to direct the attention of the House in connection with this matter, and more particularly in relation to Canada. I have here figures taken for December, the latest figures figures available of the migration into Canada. The migrants amounted to 5,415, of which 1,275 were British, 1,058 came from the United States and 3,032 from other countries. In relation to the number of newcomers in the nine months from April to December last, the total was 114,035, and of that number 60,818 were adult males and 29,351 wore adult females. You have to put those: figures against the figures which show that Canada has about 300,000 more men than women in her population, whereas we have about 2,000,000 more women than men in our population. I think it is one of the points that cannot be too strongly emphasised, that very special provisions are necessary to assist women to settle overseas.

It is a constant. source of annoyance and irritation to many women who would like to take up a life of adventure and go out to those wide spaces, to be told that the only avenue through which they can go is that of domestic service, and I think the sooner we drop that title the better. The opportunity for household help is, undoubtedly. the great avenue of employment, but I think it ought to be clearly understood, and statistics show, that women who go out very soon marry, and they are very specially the people who are going to make or mar the whole problem of migration. I have been more impressed by that since I had the opportunity of visiting the settlements under the 3.000 family scheme. I am convinced that women on the whole are badly overworked. The settler's wife is, perhaps, the most overworked person. It is quite obvious that we ought to do everything we can to assist the younger women who go out under the family settlement scheme to assist in connection with the multifarious duties that fall to the women in the new lands, and in order that they may be properly equipped to do the work that has to be done, they ought to have far more extended training than at present exists.

I welcome most heartily the scheme, which, I hope, the Secretary of State for the Dominions- will be in a position to tell us is really settled for Australia, for starting a residential training scheme for women on broader lines than anything we have at present under the Ministry of Labour. It is going to include, I hope, the keeping of poultry and the growing of vegetables. It is, of course, of vital importance that we should remember that women going to those countries require to learn such things as baking bread, about which many women in this country know nothing. In many ways it is necessary to emphasise that the beginning of the success of the scheme depends in very large degree upon the amount of training provided in this country. I want to quote figures to show how alarming the situation is, and how difficult it is to make Government Departments realise the urgency of this particular problem. Since the training scheme for women started, 36,093 women passed through the classes. Whereas in previous years the numbers were 6,377 and 3,466, for the coming year the grant only provides places for 2,500. The very time we are striving to develop this scheme is chosen to cut down places in the training scheme. ' It is the most lamentable example of economy that I can imagine. I make a special plea that it should be regarded as vital that, side by side with the migration of men, the migration of women shall be made possible, at least in equal numbers, if not in greater numbers. That can only be done—and I say it deliberately, having had a great deal of experience in this matter—by a very large extension of training work in this country.

I wish to mention also the development of special arrangements for taking over large numbers of people for casual work. An advertisement for 14,000 farm workers for Canada is now in the Press. When I was in Canada I made inquiries as to the previous experiment about which we heard so much in this country. The facts were astounding. Between 14,000 and 15,000 people were taken over at short notice for harvest work; a few weeks after the advertisement was out they were over there. About 3,000 of those people came more or less to shipwreck. They were landed in Winnipeg and elsewhere. We heard about their cases, and had personal interviews with a number of them. Many were most tragic cases, because they had been taken out without plan and without anybody thinking what was to happen when the harvest work was over. But while the misfortunes of these 3,000 cases could have been prevented by proper planning and forethought, the astounding fact is that 10,000 of those people who went out on that experiment were absorbed in Canada.

It was suggested to me quite seriously by a prominent statesman in Canada— this sort of thing requires great imagination and much courage to do it on a big scale—that whenever opportunities occur for occasional work for large numbers, we should consider the possibility of guaranteeing a return passage to the people who go out—under certain conditions, of course, under conditions as to doing a certain amount of work or staying a certain period. The idea was that it would encourage people to go out and see the country for themselves, to find out what they would be expected to do; that it would be worth this country's while to guarantee a return passage after, say, two years or three years. That was submitted quite seriously as a means by which another 14,000 might go out, of whom probably 10,000 would settle themselves without any expense whatever for settlement schemes.

There are some irritating points in connection with the present methods which might easily be removed. There is the case of the splendid type of emigrant who pays his own passage. Probably he has saved up for years, has got a little nest-egg and then ventures his all in Canada. There is a record of no less than 700 of these men in Canada at the present time. The difficulty they find themselves in is this: They expect to be able to settle down and send for their wives and families, but find it difficult to send money back to England to keep up the home, to pay for their own lodging in Canada and at the same time save the money required to bring out their wives and families. It is absurd that they should not be able to take advantage of the nomination system for their wives. It is not merely a bad bit of red tape, but it is a foolish restriction from the point of view of both countries. Through the medium of the Women's Advisory Committee we have raised a fund of £7,000 which has been loaned to 360 men to enable them to get their wives out. We have another 360 wives waiting to go out and join their husbands, but have not the funds to enable us to loan them the money. The cheap passage scheme does not apply to the wives of men who paid their own passages out and who are settled in Canada. This sort of irritation could easily be removed, and that would make a tremendous difference.

Another point is in connection with Australia. Here they have an age limit that nobody may go there over 65 years of age. Supposing you have in this country a family desiring to go out to Australia and there is in that family an elderly father or mother. The only choice of that family is to leave the old people in the workhouse with a chance of them going out to Australia later on, but the probability is that they do not see each other any more. Why should family ties be torn asunder in that way, because matters might easily be arranged to avoid that. There are only a few of such cases, but surely an instance like that ought to be provided for.

With regard to the whole question of the speeding up of group settlements a reference has been made to the men who went out to those settlements. They felt competent to run a farm and to raise stock, but it turned out that for over 18 months they had to spend the whole of their time doing navvying work clearing the bush. Surely arrangements could be made for sending out the proper type of men who are more fitted for doing that kind of work. Men who are accustomed to doing that sort of work should be sent out with a guarantee of employment for a period of years. If that policy were adopted then the trained settlers who went out specially to do farming would be able to take up their job immediately they go there. Of course I know that is merely a question of organisation, but I think what I have suggested would be of immense value to the settlement.

Then there is the question of the larger acreage that could be put under cultivation in relation to petty trades. I was immensely impressed when I went to the Rouge River to see those six small factories all belonging to a system of mass production. They had all the different parts to be manufactured grouped in small factories in the countryside as a subsidiary industry to agriculture itself. In this country I suppose we are too old and too traditional to adopt a modern idea like that, but in these new countries with these new schemes where there is a possibility of electrical power and of carrying out the kind of thing I have referred to, is it not possible by foresight and enterprise to prevent the springing up of the hideous-ness of the great industrial towns in this country. Take for example the manufacture of cars. There is no reason why all the parts should be made under one roof, and It is quite possible to make arrangements for small parts to be made by a separate plant in connection with agriculture.

Instead of treating this merely as a land settlement for farmers we should extend that idea and try to find out to what extent it is possible, e.g., in Northern Ontario, to develop mines so that there may be alternative forms of work for the people in those countries to fall back npon I know that all this cannot be done in five minutes or by Debates in this House, but if the suggestion put forward by the Mover and Seconder of this. Motion to form a small development committee to investigate and co-ordinate these matters could be considered then all these larger views might be brought down to actual practical realities. We do require to have a very wide view of the situation in order that these new countries can be successfully developed so as to avoid the horrible problems which the older civilisations present to us. There are other matters on which I ought not to take up time, but which, on occasions like this, would really require to be dealt with if we were exhausting the subject. There is, however, one other point that I should like to mention. I am sure we were all very pleased to sees that the Minister of Labour in Canada has undertaken to introduce an Old Age Pensions Bill for Canada. One of the things that I think would be immensely helpful in connection with the redistribution of population would be if we could have some form of inter-Dominion social legislation of a similar and interchangeable character. That, I am sure, is one of the means by which we can help in getting rid of some of the grievances which now exist. I feel that this subject has only been touched upon to-night; there is so much more that many people would want to say; and I would make an appeal to the Government as to whether they could not give a day for further discussion of this extremely important problem, which offers a solution for many other problems which vex us at the present time, but which, if they are to be dealt with, require to be dealt with with the all-round vision that has been referred to to-night.

With regard to the attitude of Labour on this question of migration—and there is a great deal of misrepresentation— what Labour has protested against and will continue to protest against, is the exploitation of the unfortunate individual who has been brought down to destitution. We know that one of the reasons why we are throwing ourselves into this newer form of migration is because some of the old abuses have disappeared, that there is now some form of Governmental protection against the exploitation of those who go abroad as migrants. We still, however, have the bad old tradition, that has not died out, based on the facts in existence before the Empire Settlement Act was passed at all, and before there was any Government guarantee that the migrant would get fair play in the land of his adoption; and I think it is very important to remember that, in great groups like the British Trade Union Congress and the Canadian Trade Union Congress, the policy is absolutely identical on this question of the necessity of extending the Act to settlement in their own countries. Canada feels just the same about her unemployed in Winnipeg, Toronto or any other big city. They say: "If you are prepared to spend this amount of money to help men with no capital to come out from England to settle in Saskatchewan, why cannot you help men living in Winnipeg or Montreal to settle in Saskatchewan?" In reply it is said: "The Act says you cannot do it except in places where a 50–50 arrangement has been entered into between the Governments." I believe it would clear up a great deal of mistrust and difficulty if it? were made clear that the form of land settlement did not exclude land settlement on the land in your own country. There, also, you will get your training ground extended for the people who will go overseas. I have very great pleasure in supporting the Resolution that has been moved, and particularly urge that we should have a day to explore the subject still further.


One or two previous speakers have referred to the possible disappointment that I and others may have felt at the comparatively small results of the Empire Settlement Act in the first few years of its operation. I will say frankly that I never had any illusions as to the many practical difficulties which stood in the way of the rapid expansion of the policy upon which we have been embarking; nor have I ever imagined—and I agree entirely on this point with what was very well said by the Mover of this Resolution in his admirable speech—that the range of what Government can do on this question is, after all, limited and only a part of a wider problem. What I did always hope was that, in bringing this matter within the sphere of legislation, in bringing it year by year on the Estimates of this House and having it discussed in this House, we should have a steady increase of interest in and knowledge of a subject of paramount importance. From that point of view I, certainly, have not been disappointed. Every successive Debate on this subject has shown a keener interest, a greater knowledge, more valuable practical contributions to the debate and also a greater measure of unanimity. To-night's Debate has to me at any rate been full of encouragement. It has been on a high level and on a practical note throughout, a Debate, not of disputation, but of co-operation in which everyone has contributed his share of knowledge and ideas towards the moulding of a great policy which is entirely above party and which we all feel to be vital to the life of the nation. It is only typical of the spirit of this Debate that the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Riley) and others withdrew an Amendment which while it embodied a point of view which is widely held on the benches opposite, and I might add on these benches too, and certainly by myself, would have diverted the course of a discussion for which the time has been too brief in any case.

The hon. Member for Dewsbury referred, as did the hon. Lady who has just spoken, to the necessity of clearing up misunderstandings both here and overseas as to what it is we have in mind on both sides of the House. I think we have done a good deal to clear up those misunderstandings. We want to make it absolutely clear that we are not concerned in this policy of Empire development through a better diffusion of our population with trying to rid ourselves of our responsibility towards a single citizen of this country. Our people, whether they are employed or unemployed, have to look to this House in the first instance and we have no right to shift our responsibility for them or to think we can get rid of it by pushing them overseas. On the contrary, the only point of view we can rightly take in this matter is that our responsibility towards them as our fellow citizens is not limited within these shores. If one of them wishes to go overseas it-is our duty to protect him against exploitation by individual interests, to give him every chance of making good on the other side and to reduce the risk of failure to a minimum. That is our responsibility towards the individual.

From the wider point of view, this policy is not one of trying to do something for people because they are unemployed. That is a problem we have to face here at home. But it is, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Norwich (Mr. Hilton Young) pointed out, a policy of employment, of enlarging the opportunities both for the individual who goes out and for the trade of the country, and, therefore, for the individual who remains at home, a policy of strengthening the whole fabric of our national life, helping the development of the British Empire, and, incidentally, helping our fellow citizens, whether they happen to be at any particular moment employed or unemployed, who wish to find better opportunities overseas and who are entitled to our help and to our care. From the point of view of the Dominions, on the other hand, there has been a suspicion that we were only concerned in getting rid of our own people and were indifferent to the economic consequences of what happened on the other side, and, again, that there are people in the Dominions concerned only with the immediate advantage to themselves of getting a surplus of cheaper labour in order to depress the local standard of Living. I think that, again is entirely remote from the point of view that we hold. We do not wish to encourage people to go out who are not going to succeed on the other side. We do not wish them to go out unless they can succeed on a high standard of living, on the standard of living which they have built up there. We want them to go out, not in order to make profit for an individual, but in order to strengthen the great young nations whose strength is ours. From that point of view, we believe that the policy of migration, wisely carried out, and carried out in regard to the circumstances of each particular situation and in constant and close co-operation with the Governments and peoples overseas, can only raise the standard of living as it contributes to the volume of the development and the utilisation of the resources of nature in their territories.

My hon. and gallant Friend who introduced the Motion spoke of the need for more information. Undoubtedly, it is essential for success, in this matter that people should not leave these shores with any misunderstanding as to the conditions on the other side. We want to give them a true picture and a fair picture of the prospects on the other side, to show to them the great opportunities, and also make clear to them the hard work and possibly the hardships which have to be undergone before those opportunities can be fully realised. I would not minimise even the possible discomforts at sea on the way, or any of the possible discomforts at the early stages of pioneer work. In this respect, at the Oversea Settlement Office we are doing a good deal to help in this work. In the last 12 months we have started a monthly periodical called the "Oversea Settler," which is distributed to societies and individuals interested in this subject, and which we are endeavouring, as we get experience, to make fuller and more interesting every month. We have started courses of lectures, in the first instance in the various Army Commands, under the auspices of the War Office, and we hone to extend the system a good deal further. Not only at Wembley, but in the various Empire shopping weeks which are now being held we hope to take a part by having a representative there and taking a stall and setting out the actual facts in connection with settlement in different parts of the Empire.

We certainly hope in this matter to enlist the willing and keen co-operation of the education authorities. We have recently had some very hopeful discussions at a conference of educational associations, and I think something will come from that. In this connection, I entirely agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Dover (Major Astor) who suggested that the county associations and the local associations could give an immense amount of help by encouraging the migrant to go where he will find friends from his own countryside, and give him opportunities of getting information which is far more real if it comes from people about whom he knows something. A clear account of what farming life is in Canada means much more to a man in Kent if it comes from someone who originally came from the next village, than if it came from someone who had started from another part of the United Kingdom. That is one point to which the hon. Member referred.

Another point to which he drew attention was the importance of securing a substantial reduction in fares. We are working at that all the time. At the Imperial Conference we secured an agreement with Canada by which the special reduced fare was still further brought down from £3 to £2, and it is now possible for a settler to get to Winnipeg for £4 10s. and to Vancouver for £8. We have also arranged for the assistance given to juveniles proceeding to Western Canada to be increased from 80 to 100 dollars. This is one of the most helpful ways in which settlement can be promoted. In the case of Australia, we have also improved on a not ungenerous scheme of assistance, at any rate in respect of women going to domestic service. Previously they paid £11 towards their fare, now they get a free passage. New Zealand has always taken a leading part in this matter and all boys under 19 years of age and all girls and women under 40 years of age can go to New Zealand free if qualified for assisted passages. Previously single men paid a contribution to their fares, and that has now been reduced from £13 15s. to £11.

These are signs that we are moving steadily, and not the least significant is the free passages for all women up to 40 years of age to New Zealand, because I agree most profoundly with what the hon. Member for Wallsend (Miss Bond-field) said about the vital importance of encouraging the migration of women to the Dominions. At present the figure is, roughly speaking, five men to four women, excluding children, and this leaves a deficit in the migration of women which, added to the fact of the excess of men in the Dominions and the excess of women here, shows that there is still a case for doing a good deal more to encourage the migration of women. I agree that one of the points which certainly require to be dealt with is that of the facilities to enable a wife and family to rejoin the husband who has already gone out, whether at his own expense or as an assisted settler. In all these matters we are steadily improving the machinery of co-operation, but I beg to remember that in all these matters we are dealing not with one Government which has complete control of the situation, but with two Governments,' each with its own difficulties and problems and its own administrative machinery.

It is only month by month and year by year as we get working together and into more active and closer touch, with each other, as the representatives of the migration department here visit the various Dominions and the representatives of the migration departments in the Dominions come over here and discuss matters, by discussions at. the Imperial Conferences, gradually getting to understand each other's point of view, getting rid of the various anomalies and irritating restrictions and the misinterpretation of rules, that we shall gradually get the machinery of co-operation working smoothly and in time get one considered scheme in operation. Reference has been made by more than one hon. Member to the success of the 3,000 families scheme. We are closely considering, with the Canadian Government, and with the great railway Companies and the Hudson Bay Company, the possibility of further schemes based broadly on the same principle which will enable that success to be implemented by further successes on the same lines.

There is one subject in this connection to which more than one speaker has drawn attention, that is, the question of training on this side—training not in the sense of attempting to create a skilled agricultural worker but training in the sense, first, of eliminating the man who is going to be a failure in any case and whom it would be folly and a crime to send overseas, and, secondly, training which will give a man, when he lands at the other end with all the novelty of the conditions there, a fair chance. Think of the position of the man who, after several weeks of travelling, lands in a strange place under conditions very different from those at home, being driven out, perhaps, at four or five in the morning to a farm, and being told by the farmer to do some job, which no doubt from the farmer's point of view is quite elementary, but which the man may be perfectly incapable of doing. If only the man had had a few weeks in which to learn that elementary job, he would have been able to tackle it and the farmer would have felt that here was a willing man who knows one or two things and can learn more. All the experience we have had from Catterick and now also from the training establishments started under the Ministry of Labour, as well as from some of the private training establishments, such as the Salvation Army and other organisations, does lead us to believe that we can help enormously the whole business of successful settlement and the elimination of waste by preliminary testing and training over here.

We did enter into this matter very closely at the Imperial Conference and as the result of that we have shortened the time for training from six months to 17 weeks in the case of one of the Ministry of Labour establishments and to ten weeks in the case of another and we hope very soon to be getting information as to what is really the right length of the period for training. We also discussed with the Dominions the question whether, under the Empire Settlement Act, they would be willing to co-operate in the expense of a great enlargement of the scheme for training in this country. That they felt at present unable to do, though all the Dominions concerned were willing to provide equipment as used in their own country and also possibly the services of instructors. I might add— and this bears upon the question of women—that the Government of the Australian Commonwealth has declared its readiness to co-operate with us financially in the scheme for the training of women. I am not yet in a position to be able to say that it is all fixed up, but I hope most sincerely that we shall be able to carry that scheme out and without undue delay. In the financial position of this country, while we are still testing what is the right length of training and while we arc still hoping that the importance of this may be recognised somewhat more fully by the Dominions in co-operation, we have felt it somewhat difficult to embark on an immediate extension of the training scheme. But I entirely agree with the view expressed from every part of the House that this is an essential element not only in the success of the scheme but from the broader social point of view.

The hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Mackinder) said this evening very truly that it is not our skilled agricultural workers that we wish to send out of this country. They are needed here and they are by no means always the men who make the greatest successes on the other side. The type to whom the hon. Member referred was the keen young man who may work in factories or mines but who has a love of the land in him to such an extent that when he has a chance, even if it is only a hundred square yards, he cultivates that land and spends many hours every week on it—the man who has such a love of the land that it makes him ready to go overseas. That is the man whom not only we must wish to send but who does, as a matter of fact, habitually make a success. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Taunton referred to one Prime Minister of a Canadian Province who started as a clerk in this country and became a successful farmer. There is another Premier of a Canadian Province who started in the same way, not as a man on the land, and became one of the most successful farmers in Canada, now here in London. Both in Canada and Australia I again and again met successful farmers who learnt their farming out there. In one instance the most successful farmer in his district was a man who had been a pastry-cook in the East End of London and had never seen a green field until he was in the train that took him to Liverpool. The experience of Lord Clarendon, when he went to Canada last summer, was that the miners who were working on the land there under the various land settlement schemes were at least as successful as any other class of the community that had gone out.

There is one point to which several hon. Members have drawn attention, and that is the need of improving our machinery at this end to meet the machinery which has been set up by the Australian Government in the shape of the Development and Migration Commission over there. I think that we are meeting it. As far as the administration of actual migration is concerned we are improving our organisation at the overseas settlement office all the time. But we have other functions, other organisations of Government, which are assisting in other parts of that work. The Empire Marketing Board is helping all the time, not only in the greater diffusion of knowledge about the Empire, but in all those problems of research, of marketing, of creating a voluntary preference here. All contribute materially to the success of settlement, and even if we do not find it necessary to set up something precisely equivalent and parallel to the Development and Migration Commission in Australia, wo have got the new and flexible organisation of the Committee of Civil Research here, which, through its various Committees and Sub-committees, is already coping with a great many problems of Imperial interest which bear on this question.

I do believe in what underlies the wording of this Motion and what has underlain many of the speeches to-night, namely, that you cannot take this problem of migration in isolation. From our point of view it has an immense bearing upon the development of our trade. The trade of the Empire, which is certainly not the least important part of Imperial trade, the trade which we do with these Dominions with a small population, can by a successful policy of migration be enormously increased. Nor can you divorce this question from the question of research. Population in any of the great Dominions depends intimately upon research into its resources and the capacities of its soil, and research into the methods of bringing its products to this country. So does our whole trade policy enter into it. The question of voluntary preference at this end, the question of other preferences, all enter into it. All are parts of one great policy which, as has been said, we ought to tackle with courage and conviction.

Resolved, That this House observes that over a period of widespread depression in trade the proportion of our trade with the Empire has increased and continues to increase; and is of opinion that, in order to benefit the people of this country by developing our best and mo6t productive markets, and in order to assist those Dominions which so desire it further to increase the British population within their territories, no effort should be spared, in co-operation with the Governments of the Dominions, to initiate new proposals and to increase the existing facilities for settlement in the Empire overseas.