§ Lieut.-Colonel PAGE CROFT
My hon. and gallant Friend will forgive me if I am unable to reply to what he has said, because I think it is understood on this occasion that one group of discussion has gone by, and I must turn to another subject, although I would have liked to have crossed a lance with my hon. and gallant Friend on that particular subject. These two questions do to a very great extent hang together, and the House will agree that the speeches which have come from the benches opposite this evening, and more especially from the right hon. Member for Camber-well (Dr. Macnamara) have caused us to realise that we must leave no stone unturned to try to alleviate the great sufferings of which we have heard to-night.
When I raised this subject of Empire Settlement last year, I found that it is a question which really is regarded as a non-party question. There are, of course, different interpretations, and we may hear of criticisms of this aspect or the other, but, generally speaking, it is a non-party question, and since last year no fewer than 180 Members of Parliament of different parties have expressed to me personally their great interest in this question and their desire to see the matter thrashed out. Therefore, I make no apology for again raising the matter this year. May I very briefly ask the House to consider what are the facts of the case at the present time We have 1,300,000 unemployed people in this country. We have another 1,000,000 378 persons, young persons, between the ages of 14 and 18 years who will very shortly be entering the labour market; many of them are desiring to enter the labour market now. That brings the total to 2,300,000. In addition to that, the excess of births over deaths is no less than 300,000 per annum. This constitutes a problem which I submit is the greatest internal problem that we have ever had to consider.
As my hon. and gallant Friend says, it is a question which he makes no apology for discussing three or four times in one Session, and which ought to be discussed every day. From my point of view, I can only say that my sincerity is equal to his, great as his is, on this subject. I submit that when you add up these figures it is the primary reason why the Labour party's fears are so great, namely, that you have many men after every job, because we have a number of unemployed in this country such as we have never had before, and the volume of which it is impossible to argue you can absorb under any system, capitalist or social. The consequence is that we have to look at it from a different point of view. Three years before the War emigration from this country had reached a very high figure. I am not sure that it was not rather too high. The fact remains that in those three years 1,380,000 persons left our shores to try their luck in countries new. It is perfectly obvious that had this flow of emigration gone on we should have had no problem of this gravity at the present time to consider, but emigration practically ceased from this country, and that cessation is primarily responsible for the unemployment position, and consequently for the terrible congestion of housing in this country. I believe the Chancellor of the Exchequer is the gentleman to whom, in the long run, we shall have to talk on these subjects. I am sure he will be the first to admit that unemployment and housing are the two great problems demanding the greatest financial attention at the present moment, and are likely to continue so for many years to come.
I ask him to consider this all-important question. Unless we are going to act with unprecedented vigour in regard to it, my own view is—I hope I am not a trembler on these questions—that we are approach- 379 ing a menace of unemployment finance and also of housing which will force a crisis, the gravity of which no man can measure. I cannot conceive how you are going to grapple with this question if the plain figure facts I have given to the House are correct. On the other hand, if normal emigration were likely to start again, this problem would be largely settled in something like five years. Let us face facts, however. There is no sign of that normal emigration recovering for some years to come. There is nothing more cruel than to go round this country and to encourage people to emigrate to the Dominions unless there is a job for them at the other end. It is fatal, for it defeats the whole object in view. Let us face the fact that at the present time, in all the great cities and towns in the Dominions, there is a glut in the labour market. That is why I submit, with all the sincerity I possess, that we really must go all out for the establishment of new settlements within the Dominions in order that we may develop new territories under the British flag.
What is being done, and what can be done? At the present time emigration to Canada has practically ceased. I have been trying very hard to get one or two fellows out to Canada lately. One of them happened to fight in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He lost an eye fighting for the British Empire. He had the promise of a job in Toronto, but he was not allowed to go out—although I had managed to provide him with the money —because of the health certificate of his wife. I do not say that Canada is unwise to make very strong emigrant regulations as long as she has a glut on her labour market, but I do say that that is no reason whatever why the development of new settlements should not take place. It can only be an advantage to the Dominions overseas if we are to cooperate with them in building up new communities of civilisation in undeveloped territory within those Dominions. Australia—I think hon. Members will agree who recently have had an opportunity of meeting the Prime Ministers of two or three of the States of Australia—although it is not a very largo movement, is actively engaged in creating new settlements to assist us in solving our problems, and at the same 380 time to enrich those States to which they are welcoming the settlers. Although it is not a very large matter, it is only fair to say that it is really a considerable financial undertaking on the part of those States. We have heard of these definite plans for settlement in New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia, and certainly, in regard to the first two, I am convinced that they are on sound foundations.
I want to ask the Government a direct question. I am very glad to be able to address the question to my hon. and gallant Friend the Secretary of the Department of Overseas Trade, because I know that he is sympathetic in all questions concerning the British Empire; although, I rather regret, as I shall show in a minute or two, that I cannot ask the question of the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies. Are we co-operating in this matter with the State schemes in the States of Australia that I have mentioned? Are we prepared to undertake to contribute that financial assistance for which they have asked us, in what I can only describe, and I think hon. Members will agree with me, as the generous proposals they have made? The second question is, in view of the pledges which were made at the time of the General Election by every one returned on this side of the House, in answer to the clarion call of our leaders, what steps are the Government taking for a real big scheme of Empire settlement? Have they a cut and dried plan ready, or are they drafting such a plan to lay before the Imperial Economic Conference, when it is held, as I hope it is going to be held, later in the year? They may have some great scheme, and very likely we have not been told; but the fact remains that, unless such a scheme is worked upon, it will mean a year's or two years' delay after the Imperial Conference is held. I have very briefly referred to the schemes in Victoria, New South Wales and elsewhere, and I ask His Majesty's Government this question. Have they endeavoured to approach the other States of the British Empire with a view to having similar settlements in those parts? I believe that it could be done. I believe that it is good business. I do not, for one moment, want to oppose any sane and sensible proposal, such as came from the Labour 381 Benches to-night that we should spend more money on afforestation. It is far better to spend it on that than on unnecessary public works if you have to choose between the two. After all, the trees will mature in days to come, and you will get some of the money back. The advantage of all schemes of Empire settlement is the fact that in every case, if you have the will power, the driving power, and the finance, all your money will come back in the long run.
I suggest, first of all, that His Majesty's Government should send a Commissioner or Commissioners, with pretty wide powers, to every State in Australia, to every Province in Canada, to New Zealand, and to South Africa— although I admit that the chances in South Africa of getting a move on just now are rather smaller. Will they not send a Commissioner to those countries, in order to consult on the spot, and see if we can speed up our plans by discussing schemes, giving those Commissioners power to approve, subject to the financial sanction of Parliament, certain definite schemes? I submit that they should set out with a definite end in view. That is, that in every State and Province of the two great Dominions, and in New Zealand, we should go for a definite policy of 10,000 settlers. If you take New Zealand as a unit, and the Provinces of Canada, and the States of Australia, that makes in all 13 units, amounting to something like a definite plan of 130,000 new settlers. It would require, first of all, organisation on a very large scale at the other end, but it has been done in Victoria and New South Wales, and why cannot it be done in the other States and Provinces? It also would require organisation at this end. For that reason I am convinced that if you are going to organise on these lines, far and away the best method is to do it on a territorial basis, so that you will not be asking the people of this country to go out into the blue, away from their friends. You should organise it on the, county basis, so that the men in Hertfordshire, Middlesex, Yorkshire, or Lancashire can go out together, in companies, as comrades and pals, in order to make new homes surrounded by their friends.
I also suggest that these settlements must be segregated from the existing interests. Otherwise, you are going to 382 have great hostility from the labour and vested interests in the Dominions. You must see that you are entirely free from the land speculators, who, in many cases — I hope there are no representatives of the Dominions in the House at this present moment, so I only whisper it in bated breath—might quite conceivably destroy any chance of your scheme if they once-got themselves connected with it. I want to say a word or two with regard to the finance of this question. I am going to speak very moderately, because I know-that the House is easily frightened on this question, although I believe that if we took a big paint brush we could do a very wonderful thing, if we had the courage, with this question, and could save a great deal of money. In those schemes to which I have specifically referred—in the irrigated areas and the Murray River district in Australia—the figure was indicated to us that £1,000 per head per settler was required. In approaching all the other States and Dominions, I suggest that the Imperial Government should pay one-third of the cost, the Dominion and the Commonwealth Government one-third, and the States and Provinces one-third.
This money, let it always be remembered, would be a loan against the the security of the land, which I suggest, in all these cases, we ought to try to arrange should be gift territory from the Dominions concerned. If you take the figure I suggested just now, of 130,000 settlers, it would really moan that we should have to find in this country one-third of the proportion of the expenses of building houses, preparing the land, and starting the settler. That would amount to something like £33,000,000, which would probably be spread over three years. Interest at 5 per cent, on that sum of money would amount to £1,600,000 per annum. Supposing that with 130,000 settlers you immediately caused employment—I do not think that it is an exaggerated claim—for, say, 100,000 people in this country who are at present receiving relief, that would be an approximate saving to the nation of something like £5,000,000 per annum which would be a net gain in annual charges of £3,400,000. It must be clear that from the point of view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer alone in the long run he is going to gain, for he is going to get his capital expenditure back in addition.
383 Many of my hon. Friends are anxious to know why the Empire Settlement Act has been taken from its natural parent the Colonial Office and placed in the hands of the Overseas Trade Department. A great many hon. Members have realised this fact with astonishment, because it seems to us that the Overseas Trade Department, which is specially intended for extending British trade in every part of the world from Iceland to China, is a Department which must be fully occupied on the lines of its work, and it is difficult to understand how that Department could have been chosen to deal with the great specific question of Empire settlement. We think that the problem is so vital and so big that it deserves better consideration than that. We submit that it is so big a question that if possible it ought to have a Ministry of its own. We realise the hostility to forming new Ministries, on the grounds of economy, but we say that even if that is so surely we can have a representative at the Colonial Office to look after the affairs of Empire settlement in this House and look after administration. I say this without the smallest criticism of my hon. and gallant Friend (Lieut.-Colonel Buckley) the head of the Department, because if we wanted someone to fill that place obviously we would look for him, but if he is doing this other job it is hardly to be expected that he can deal also with the equally great problem of Empire settlement.
The view of a great number of Members of this House it that a large proportion of our population have got to decide whether they are going to emigrate or, I will not say starve, because that is impossible so long as we have the present system of relief, but lead what is really a hopeless life. At present you have a large portion of our people, the flower of our race, some 300,000 ex-service men under 30 years of age, who have seen no work for two years. Those men are bound to deteriorate. They are losing hope. Their pride is sinking, and even if it was not a good investment I believe that everyone would agree that we ought to do everything in our power to assist them. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Camberwell (Dr. Macnamara) said, there are two things to be considered. On the one hand there is this hopeless despair. On the other hand you 384 have a chance of bringing relief. There is no question of trying to persuade any man or woman to go against his will, or any mother or father to send his children away against his will, but if they think that the future is hopeless then we do say let us give the citizens of this country a chance.
It is a question of throwing a life-belt to our fellow-countrymen who are drowning in a sea of tribulation, and are likely to be overwhelmed. If the facts are as we have indicated, is it too much to hope that the Labour party will join with us in this great movement I An hon. Gentleman shakes his head. I am inclined that from his point of view it might be a bad business. His principles might not find such great favour if the unemployed people found a chance of employment overseas, but from the point of view of the Labour party, who have said that the whole condition of the workers is being kept down, because there are two men applying for every job in this country, are they satisfied that the country will be able to absorb the unemployed labour at present in this country, and, if rot, will they join with us in a great national non-party schema of reconstruction?
I rise for the first time to contribute, though only in a humble way, to the important Debates in this House. I hope that hon. Members will be sympathetic and not too severe in their criticisms, because I realise that my faults and imperfections may be many, and that my good qualities, in the eyes of hon. Members, may be few. Let me at the outset assure the House that I do not lay any special claim to statesmanship. I believe that it was Napoleon who said that to be a great statesman you must have your heart in your head, and I believe, at least so my doctors tell me, that my heart is still in its right place. I do not make any claim to great wisdom. There is a proverb which says, "Wise men rarely talk." I hope that hon. Members, after giving me their indulgence of listening to me, will not consider that I have departed from the path of wisdom. Above all, let me assure the House that I make no claim to greatness, because I believe that it was Emerson who said that to be great is to be misunderstood.
It was a very short time ago that I heard the fair and Noble Lady the 385 Member for Plymouth say that if ever she was grateful to the Lord for having been created a woman it was during her first two years in this House, because, said this Noble Viscountess, whenever she got up to speak she was thankful that hon. Members could not see how her knees were trembling. If I may, I would like to add that I too am grateful to the Lord for having been created, be it only, of course, just an ordinary man, but I am still more grateful for the privileges and custom of this house in not compelling some of us, at Lily rate, to appear here in our national characteristic tartans and kilts, because I can assure the House, if it is not already apparent, that my knees, too, are very shaky at the moment.
I know that we are deeply absorbed at present in the grave problems of Europe, and in the many serious problems at home. But during my short time in this House I have often asked myself have we as yet rally faced the most difficult problem at home, and are we not at times inclined to rely on somewhat temporary and small measures for the solution of our greatest problem of unemployment and Empire development. One appreciates that the markets of Europe, in consequence of the War have been very much disorganised, and in some cases indeed they have been completely destroyed, while the manufactures of some of our largest industries at home are being excluded by certain of our great Allied nations by the introduction and enforcement of prohibitive tariffs, tariffs, I submit, infinitely higher than were ever in existence before this great War. Our own Empire markets, too, have been greatly reduced, not only owing to the heavy war expenditure, but to my mind more so by the cessation of the desirable inflow of British capital and settlers from our Mother Country.
Our emigration before the War—and I believe that these figures are accurate—to our overseas Dominions and abroad numbered about 350,000 people per year From the years 1914 to 1920 inclusive our total emigration to our overseas Dominions did not exceed 340,000 people, instead of 2,100,000 which it would have been at the old rate. The result, I submit, is obvious. Allowing as we must for the 750,000 people who have made the greatest sacrifice of which humanity is capable for the sake of human liberty and justice, we nevertheless 386 have a surplus for those six years alone of over 1,000,000 people in this country, and that surplus is being augmented yearly by an addition of some 400,000. It is indeed a very grave problem. I would like to ask the Secretary or State for the Colonies and the Leader of the Labour party, who I am sorry is not in his place, what is there in the state of our markets to-day and in the state of Europe to make us believe that we can absorb that large unemployable surplus population within the near future?
The question of unemployment was discussed to-day, and one hears it discussed on every occasion in this House. The problem of Empire settlement must at the best of times, apart from the natural geographical and industrial conditions of a country, depend upon the wise and proper distribution of the people in a country. The population of the British Empire to-day, I submit, is badly distributed, and I make this submission on two fundamental grounds. First of all, I say it is wrongly distributed at home, as between our industries and our land and agriculture. Secondly, it is wrongly distributed as between the Mother Country and our overseas Dominions. If we take the statistical returns, hon. Members will see that in Great Britain to-day we have a population of 460 people and over to the square mile. What have we in our overseas Dominions? If you take Canada, we have 2.7 people to a square mile; if you take Newfoundland, we have 1.5 persons; if you take the great Commonwealth of Australia, we have 1.8 persons, and the Dominion of New Zealand has 11.6. We know, and great statisticians, great writers, and economists tell us—even Sir Rider Haggard points out very rightly, I think —that the Commonwealth of Australia alone can readily absorb and maintain a population of at least 50 millions of people, and Canada a number equally as great, if not, indeed, greater. To find, therefore, a solution, we must come to a more equitable and just distribution of our population. In other words, the master key to the solution of Empire settlement, and unemployment rests first of all on the transfer of a certain section of our industrial population at home from our industry to our agriculture; secondly, the transfer of a large number of our unemployable surplus population from this country to our overseas Dominions. 387 [An HON. MEMBER: "Why don't you go? "] The hon. Member asks me why I do not go. Perhaps I may be allowed to tell him that I was brought up there. [An HON. MEMBER: "You came back! "] I am always proud to come back to the Mother Country.
I would like to draw the attention of the House to a very able speech by the Prime Minister of Western Australia, which he delivered last year. He said that his country consisted of 624,000,000 acres of land, and yet the total population to-day is no greater than 330,000 people—a population almost equal to that of the City of Hull. His country, he said, could, if even reasonably populated, supply sufficient wheat to feed the whole population of Great Britain, and yet to-day we are one of the largest purchasers of that commodity from the United States and from some of the South American Republics. His country, in addition, he said, had large deposits of tin, lead, copper, gold, and many other materials. Yet, with all these attractions, his country was practically empty. The 330,000 people that are populating Western Australia to-day, he said, could produce no more, because they already worked to the utmost of their capacity. What was needed in Western Australia—and I am repeating the words of the Prime Minister—was a steady inflow of British settlers and capital, so that within the next few years the population of that country, he hoped, would number 2,000,000 people. "Come to us, where men exist as equals," and while there are no capitalists to speak about, they equally have very low taxation, because they have no unemployed or poor people to maintain in Western Australia— [An HON. LABOUR MEMBER: "I have a brother there! "] Perhaps the hon. Member may follow his brother's example and go there, too. [HON. LABOUR MEMBERS: "And come back like you did! "] And why not! What is needed to cure unemployment in this country—and I hope hon. Members will take it seriously—what is needed to bring about. Empire development, is a real policy of Empire settlement and migration on a large scale. Both of these must be worked simultaneously, because hon. Members will appreciate that the capacity of the Oversea Dominions, speaking generally, to absorb large industrial populations, must of necessity depend upon their own industrial 388 and agricultural developments, so as to overcome any possible objection that may be raised by their own industrial community against the possible inflow of competitive labour from any other country.
Let me, as briefly as I can, within the short time allotted me, illustrate how wise and proper it would be for us to concentrate to a much greater extent than we have done hitherto, on Empire development and settlement. If you take the matter from the economic point of view—and I am taking the figures of 1913, as being the year before the War—you will find that the exports of British manufactures from this country to our Oversea Dominions and the rest of the Empire amounted to £195,000,000. If you take for the same year British manufactures exported to Spain, to Italy, to France, to the whole of the Scandinavian countries, to Germany, to Russia, and even to the great United States of America, the total came only to £157,000,000. If you take the figures for 1921, you will find that our exports of British manufacture to the whole of the British Empire came to £298,750,000, while our exports to the countries I have just enumerated for the same year came only to £173,000,000. There is a great difference in favour of the British Empire as against foreign countries, including the United States and Germany.
The population of our Oversea Dominions to-day is barely 16,000,000, and yet those 16,000,000 people have purchased more in total and per capita than the combined populations of 200,000,000 people in Europe. Hon. Members on the Labour Benches were advocating with a great deal of energy the resumption of trade with Russia. In pre-War days, let me tell you, our total trade with Russia did not exceed 2s. 2d. per head. That was in 1913. In 1921 our total trade with Russia was 3d. per head, against the British Dominions £6 15s. per head, and in some cases even more. Hon. Members say, "Why concentrate on the British Empire, when you have Europe at your door?" Let me assure the House that there is a great future for trade within the Empire to-day. It is waiting for us, if we are wise enough to take it. I do not say that we should not trade with Europe. By all means do all the trade you can, but let us above all hold 389 on to what we have, and develop it in the Way in which it is possible, so as to make us self-supporting.
Let me give you as an illustration the United States. In 1865 America had barely a population of 33,000,000 people, a population at that time almost equal to the population of Great Britain and our Overseas Colonies. America was recovering from four and a half years of a great Civil War, her financial indebtedness was colossal, but she faced the future bravely, and in barely 55 years America undisputably became one of the greatest industrial and commercial countries in the world, with a population of 110,000,000 people. I say very frankly to this House that in wealth, in potentiality, in natural resources, in lumber, in agriculture, in water power, there is as much within the British Empire, if not more, as there is in the, United States of America, and yet what do we find? America has prospered on British capital, and up to the present time, to a great extent on British settlers. Why? Because America concentrated upon her resources. America formulated a sound industrial policy, and we in Great Britain and our Dominions were drifting. Thank God, we have plenty of oceans to drift upon!
The difference between the two countries, to my mind, is this. America has a definitely-formulated, well-decided industrial policy. Great Britain has not. If you take our Oversea Dominions, you will find that until quite recently, and even to-day, some of our Overseas Dominions are running policies, in a point, one differentiating from another. I would like to say that perhaps a great deal of credit is due to the Dominion of Canada for initiating, as it did quite recently, an economic agreement with Australia, whereby a greater preferential treatment and a greater exchange of commodities will take place between those two great Empire Sister Nations. If our Imperial Government at home would concentrate and bring the policies of our four great Oversea Dominions in still closer co-operation; if the surplus products of our Oversea Dominions could find a more appreciable ready market within our own home, and if, indeed, some of the surplus of one Dominion could be brought to another in a much greater quantity than is the case 390 at present, then I say the Imperial Government would have achieved a great Measure. One hears a great deal about what we intend to do, but may I point out the greatness of the resources in our Overseas Dominions and how much backward we are? In very name, even, we are backward. We have a Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who deals with foreign countries. We have a Secretary of State for Home Affairs, who deals with the Home country. What have we got for our Dominions? We have a Secretary of State for the Colonies, although we are no longer Colonials. Our Colonies have become great Dominions. May I humbly submit to the House, and to the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, whether it would not be wiser, instead of having a Colonial Secretary, to create a Secretary for Empire Affairs, so as to bring him into collaboration with the other Secretaries of State?
A great deal was said a few weeks ago by the hon. Member for Maryhill (Mr. Muir). He said it was diabolical and damnable of the Government to introduce any policy which would help migration from this country of children between the ages of 11 and 17. [HON. MEMBERS "Hear, hear. ".] I would like to say this to the hon. Labour Members who so proudly say "Hear, hear." There is more danger of the happy homes in this country being broken up for the lack of proper incomes with which to pay the heavy rates and taxes; there is more danger of the happy homes of this country being broken up, in so far as the youths are concerned, because you are unable to give them the huge spaces and the healthy surroundings that they require, than by sending them overseas, not to strange countries, but to your own land, to people of your own blood, and under your own flag. Hon. Members have said that there is no spiritual provision made for these children. I have too much respect for the hon. Members on the Labour Benches to criticise them too severely, but I will say this much. If any of the Labour Members will take the trouble to go across the Dominion of Canada, or the Commonwealth of Australia—[HON. MEMBERS: "We have been there."] That accounts for at least a few of the good manners they still have. Hon. Members perhaps, will listen, and see how they could have improved themselves if they had gone there as youths. 391 If they had gone there at an early age I am certain they would have had a different opinion from that of those hon. Members who say in this House that there is no spiritual or other provision made there for children. Children in the Oversea. Dominions are being taken care of in the highest degree possible, whether it be from a spiritual point of view, or whether it be from a humanitarian point of view. Let me point out to the hon. Members on the Labour Benches that only last week the Deputy Minister of Emigration of Canada made a speech in the City of London, in which he stated that, out of 25 Barnado boys who went recently to Canada, no fewer than five of them had their own motorcars. I should like to ask the Labour Members whether in this country youths of the Barnado Homes can afford Ito travel in their own cars, even when they come to maturity. I do not, however, propose to be dragged into an argument of this kind in my maiden speech.
Have we so short a memory as to forget that, in time of need, our people from the Oversea Dominions came forth in very large numbers unflinchingly and unsolicited. Who of those who served with them can be hold enough to deny their splendid physique, their natural resourcefulness, their devotion to duty and their love for the Mother country? They did their duty unhesitatingly. They laid clown their lives unsparingly. Yet hon. Members are afraid to migrate because, they say, it means to go forth into exile. If those are the men who came from exile to fight for us, then the more exiles we have the prouder we ought to be.
I humbly submit that the total sum in connection with the Empire Settlement Act ought to be greatly increased. The sum of £3,000,000 set aside under that Act is entirely inadequate. It cannot do full justice to the measure by which it is intended to carry on emigration and Empire Settlement. We are spending to-day in relief work and unemployment pay about £100,000,000 per year. The whole of that sum is merely, I submit, a temporary remedy. It is, if I may say so, a local anæsthetic. It is a dangerous drug, which, if you will, may have the effect of temporarily killing the pain, but it does not really cure the malady. On the contrary, it imposes a heavy additional burden upon our already heavily taxed 392 capital. It undermines that self-reliance, that self-respect, that desire for work, and that pride in work, which is so essential to every worker in this country. It. saps the marrow from the very bone of industry.
I knows the policy I am advocating must, of necessity, mean a considerable expenditure of money, but I submit to this House that, whatever that expenditure might be—whether it be £15,000,000, £20,000,000 or £25,000,000 per year, whether it be by way of direct, loans to the Oversea. Dominions, or by way of direct contribution to the emigration policy of the country—it would be an expenditure which would more than fully justify itself, because it would permanently alleviate the suffering of the unemployed in this country. It would bring about the development of the British Empire and the development of trade within the British Empire. And it would do more than that. It would prevent at any future time a repetition of unemployment, on so large a scale as we have at present.
I would beseech this House to support this Government, or any other Government, which is ready to bring in a Measure, or which is ready to increase the Measure, of the Empire Settlement Act. The policy I am advocating is not a selfish policy. It is not a party policy. It is not even a Government policy. It is an inter-Empire policy which, if carried out, must have the effect of permanently improving the condition of the people of this country, and of further cementing the unity within the whole of our Empire. Alone, or almost alone, the Mother Country stands out to-day as a mighty rock amidst the drifting and stormy waters of the universe. No one, looking over the British race as it spreads itself before our mental can have any single doubt but what the greatest acts of statesmanship have already been achieved; and the monuments to those acts are to be found in the very pillars of the structure of our Empire. We cannot afford to ignore that great structure. We cannot afford to be satisfied with a policy of tranquility—a policy which, I submit, has been so much unnecessarily abused of late. Europe has emerged from a Great War. She may-recover her natural resources some day. She may even recover her wealth at some future time, but I doubt very much if she 393 will ever recover her unity and solidarity. The British nation has emerged from this War though still suffering, and heavily taxed as we are at the moment, yet solidly united what a commonwealth of younger communities proud of their great traditions, and loyal to the core to their King and to the Crown. I beseech this House not to forget, however, that, as a result of the Great War, the very pillars upon which this huge structure rests have been badly shaken. They need re-strengthening, and I say it is our duty—indeed, it is our obligation—as the Parliament of the Empire, to recement those pillars with British capital, with British labour, and with British initiative, for the good of the British race, nay, for the good of humanity at large. I believe the words of Cicero may well be applied to our great nation: "Our country is the common Parent of them all." By our exertions we have saved Europe. By our example we have made civilisation safe. Let us unite both, and make our Empire safe. Let our future objective, irrespective of Party, he our Country, our Nation, our Empire.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Major Viscount SANDON
I feel sure I shall have the usual indulgence shown me from the House on addressing it for the first time, and I may say, my diffidence is not minimised by the knowledge that six direct generations of my forebears, in succession, have addressed this House before me. I must confess that when I listened to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for South-East Southwark (Colonel Alexander) I was impressed by the fact that those of us who have had the advantage of visiting the different parts of the Empire must come away with a very great conception of its resources. I felt considerable disappointment when I heard the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) give vent to the sentiment that the Conservative party and employers generally throughout the country were not deeply committed to every possible effort to cure permanently and temporarily this menace of unemployment, which is a menace to every section of the community. They will not accept it that our efforts on this side of the House to solve that problem are sincere 394 or genuine. I think we should be given every opportunity of pushing forward our ideals as to migration, as at least one direction in which we can contribute to the solution of this problem. I must say that one of the objections urged to our policy is the statement which was once made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), that after the War we were to have a land fit for heroes to live in. I do not in any way want to utter a taunt at any idealism which is expressed in these unidcalist days. When I say we have not realised that wonderful land, I do not mean in any sense to level it as a taunt at the right hon. Gentleman, but none the less we have to face facts, and half the trouble in our country is due to our failure in facing facts as they are. It is of no use to say that a man who fought in the War is entitled to have the best possible life in this country if the fact remains that he has not got it and sees no possibility of getting it.
We are faced with appalling distress and misery in this country, and both from the point of view of the man himself and from the point of view of the country as a whole, we must look for every means of increasing the happiness and utility of each individual man. To my mind, we are very much entitled to look in the direction of migration for a partial cure, at any rate, of these ills. When you have great bodies like the Y.M.C.A. and the Salvation Army taking up this work, then it cannot he said to be undemocratic. There is, as a result of the War, a tremendous consciousness among the men who fought that they want more elbow-room, that they are crowded out and cramped in every direction so long as they stay in a country where the competition is so severe, that only relatively a few can survive the struggle. Personally, I was brought up on the creed of the greatest happiness to the greatest number. We want to look at this question in that way and think out for ourselves whether or not emigration fits into that phrase, and whether or not by going out to the Dominions men will have more chances, higher wages, and healthier life and better conditions.
I hear it often said that there are many cases where people have found themselves in as serious a plight in oversea 395 Dominions as in this country, and I believe there are cases of that kind. But I, for one, would never countenance any form of promiscuous migration of people going out for no reason except that they were not satisfied with the way things were going on at home, and it is this promiscuous emigration which has caused the trouble. I believe every safeguard is, and should be taken by the Government to see that trades in which there is serious unemployment overseas are not further overstocked by having people of the same trade sent out from here. It. is a common thing in these days to quote the phrase, "the rich Australian uncle." But if you meet the people of your own acquaintance who have left this country 10 or 15 years ago you find that, relatively to the existence of their friends who have remained in the old country, they have become "the rich Australian uncle." It may be that I differ from the large majority of people who are keenly interested in this question of emigration in that I welcome the statement made by Lord Haig a few months ago. There is no one in this country who has contributed so much to the welfare of the ex-service men as the gallant Field-Marshal under whom we had the honour to serve during the War. I consider that, far from rendering a disservice, he rendered a great service to the Empire as a whole in calling attention to the present conditions of emigration. It is my belief that he was primarily responsible for the fact that the Government are now alive to the consideration that things arc not what they should be in this question of emigration and that there is a great deal more in it than putting down a certain sum of money and seeing that a certain number of people are sent out. I welcome this Committee of Inquiry which has been appointed by the Oversea Settlement Committee, and I agree that it is of the utmost importance to give them the fullest powers to make recommendations and see that they are carried into effect.
If we are to make emigration palatable to the people of this country, we must convince them that all proper steps are taken for their reception and distribution at the other end. Nothing could be more damning—if such a word is permitted in this House—to the cause of emigration than the many things that go on, lack of 396 a hot cup of tea, or a bun, or whatever it is, on arrival at the port. I do regard with a certain amount of alarm the fact that the authority which makes all the arrangements for emigrants proceeding overseas is not the same authority which carries out these arrangements at the other end, because, when you have divided authorities of that sort it makes it impossible to be absolutely sure that various things which are wrong will be put right. I am perfectly aware that there is a very considerable force in the argument that town-bred people are net the kind of people who are likely to make the best settlers in Canada, Australia, and so forth, but that is the problem we have to face. It is my belief that, it we can secure young men full of the spirit of adventure, which everyone has before they have seen too much of the world, and if we can send young married couples out with families to settle there and make good, we are putting emigration on the most hopeful basis possible. If we are going to send out people who have had to submit for many years to the grimness of life which exists largely in the big industrial centres of this country, they are not imbued with the hope and the happy outlook calculated to make the, best settlers under the some chat arduous conditions overseas.
I believe the emigration of children is not an aspect of this question which is palatable on the other side of the House, but I am convinced that if we send out children under such a scheme as that of the Child Emigration Society under which all their needs, physical, moral, educational and technical, are carefully attended to—I believe on these lines it is possible for us to proceed With absolute safety in emigration. I feel very strongly, also, that when we send out grown people to the Dominions we should not merely dump them out in the Bush and say to them. "Here are 100 acres; do the lest you can with them." That may be all very w ell for people who have been born and bred in that atmosphere and have lived in it all their lives. But for the English emigrant who is accustomed to closely-populated areas, the only hope is that he shall he surrounded as far as possible by congenial circumstances, that he shall have his club and his opportunities for recreation, his cinema and his dances, and, in fact, everything that we mean by group settlement. I believe that 397 that is a policy which is largely advocated now. Not only from the point of view of the man himself, but from the point of view of the highest Imperial considerations, it is necessary that we maintain ample communication, so as to bring the Dominion or Colony and the Home Country as closely together as possible, and make the 13,000 miles seem less than they are. I would have no enthusiasm for emigration if we were to send out only the man whom we might consider—quite wrongly in my opinion—to be most suitable for working in the Dominions, namely, the agricultural labourer. That is a class of people whom we want to increase rather than decrease in this country. We ought not to adopt a wholesale policy for the emigration of such people.
I hold that the Government might be even more enthusiastic than they are in making use of voluntary societies. In any event, so long as the State takes upon itself the main burden of emigration, from the point of view of organisation, we shall always come in contact with that most frightful of all gentlemen—I am not speaking from the personal point of view —the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that difficulty will remain, whatever Government is in power, and whatever our circumstances, whether we are living in days of wealth or in days of darkness. The voluntary societies have the will, the enthusiasm and the knowledge, and if they had more money they could extend the scheme of emigration in a way of which we have never dreamed hitherto. I would urge the Government to consider larger and larger grants to such organisations as Dr. Barnardo's Homes, the Young Men's Christian Association, the Church Army, the Salvation Army, and so on, which regard it as a personal affront of the most serious kind if they have to record any failure among their emigrants.
The other day I visited a London Employment, Exchange at which there were 7,000 to 8,000 registered. Believing that the Government made use of the Exchanges in working out the State's scheme of emigration, I inquired what the position was, and I was told with much rejoicing that it was really believed that eight or nine men had been selected to go overseas! I am afraid that I did not show the enthusiasm that was expected of me. When we have facts of that 398 kind put before us we are entitled to say that the scheme has not got the backing that it ought to have, and that it is not working quite as smoothly as it should in the interests of this country and the Empire. I would echo the words used by the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Lieut.-Colonel Croft), when he complained of the transfer of the overseas settlement work to the Department of Overseas Trade. It is not in the direction of progress to have the work taken away from the Colonial Office and transferred to a Department whose main head is the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. At the same time I must give some qualification to my enthusiasm for the Colonial Office as the managers of the scheme. An hon. Member raised the question of the name of the Colonial Office. I have no wish to see the Colonial Office play any part in the affairs of the Dominions. It has already an enormous job in dealing with what are wrongly called the Crown Colonies, and that job is enough to occupy all its time. In my experience all that it is able to contribute is donkey work for the Dominions, work which does not arouse enthusiasm.
The kernel of the problem is the question of finance. Although I know that practically every Member of this House has been returned pledged to the strictest economy, yet I would not be afraid to return to my constituents and to say that I voted for increased expenditure on emigration. When one is dealing with a question of profit and loss, it is fundamental that one should draw a clear and distinct line between waste and economy. Waste is waste all the world over, just as much in prosperous times as in other times. But when you have an expenditure of money which must very soon show a large financial credit to this country and the Empire, you are entitled to regard it as a thoroughly sound financial proposition. That is the aspect of the case which would put before the Treasury. Here you would have productive money—productive in the sense that the people you send overseas will become more prosperous there than they are in the old country. They will then be able to make more use of British goods. We are already the chief suppliers of goods to the Dominions, and if we were able to double the population of the Dominions by sending out people who would eventually become comparatively well-to-do, we 399 should be doing great good, not only to those people and to the Dominions, but to the manufacturers and workers of this country.
If we could put that point of view before the Treasury, it might be persuaded to look beyond its nose—the next Budget—and foresee the enormous addition which would be made to the prosperity of this country 10 years hence; it might be persuaded to look to the fact that, although now there is a hubbub in Europe because the French are making mistakes as some of us believe on the Ruhr and our industries are severely affected, yet we can make a permanent and growing maket for our goods in the Dominions, and if we look at it in that light we are bound to be convinced that the money which we are now spending on emigration will repay itself in the near future. I was very glad to see in the Overseas Settlement Report an expression of the hope and expectation that the big Corporations and the counties would take up this question of emigration. I should like heartily to re-echo the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth when he put before us the great advantagé of people from one locality going out together on the principle of the territorial battalions during the War. If cities like Manchester and Birmingham could have their own schemes and send out their own batches of settlers it would greatly add to the prospects of success. It is urged sometimes that by inviting the people of this country to proceed to the Dominions we are derogating from their liberties. I do not believe anyone who has visited the great Dominions will deny that the liberty and the freedom enjoyed in those Dominions is as great as the liberty and freedom which we know in this country. I consider there are two distinct sorts of freedom. There is the sort which expresses itself in the cry of "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternté," and ends at that—that is the last one hears of it. There is another sort of freedom which is not talked about and which does not wave flags, but which gives the maximum amount of individual right and privilege to the rank and file of the people. I have seen many countries of all sorts including republics and monarchies, but nowhere does one find that genuine liberty to which I refer in a more marked 400 degree than in this country and in the Dominions.
If we look at this matter from the broader point of view of colonisation, consider what has been the contribution of the English speaking race in comparison with other races. Look at the Spanish attempt to colonise South America; they put their people there, but those countries have been developed entirely by the resource, individuality and initiative of British and other capitalists. On the other hand, look at the United States of America and our great. Dominions. These countries have worked out their own salvation. Their greatness have been achieved by their own effort, and they have not had to call in Spaniards or Dutchmen or anyone else to develop their resources. That marks the great difference—a difference which will commend itself to every Britisher—betweem the Latin civilisation and the British civilisation. But I believe the Empire cannot exist merely because of the fact that it happens to be ours. We can only maintain the countries which are under the flag whether Dominions or Crown Colonies by making it transparently clear to the public conscience of this country and the peoples of the world that these regions shall be devloped in the highest public interest to the utmost of their capacity, for the benefit and advantage of civilisation and also that not only shall the rights of the indigenous populations be maintained but that they shall receive the full benefit of the advance of civilisation. To my mind when the British Empire cm no longer fulfil that condition, when it can be said that a country would be better looked after by others than ourselves and the wealth of that country and the innate richness of the soil better developed, then we shall have no further claim or title to remain there. I do not advocate Empire Settlement from selfish motives by any means. I do not advocate it merely as a means of getting over our unemployment and other difficulties. In that connection I should like to quote from the Oversea Settlement Report:It is regarded rather as a means of remedying fluctuations of trade by developing the best markets of this country and permanently minimising the risk of unemployment here.In spite of that consideration we are entitled to look at this matter in a much 401 wider aspect. If we do not populate our Dominions other people will in the future, and we are conferring a great privilege on the world by creating great communities imbued with British ideals of justice—those ideals which are so very distinct from the ideals advanced by other European countries. It was on the basis of those ideals, n my belief, that the League of Nations was founded. The League of Nations is essentially a British product. I was in Paris during the Peace Conference and I know it was, outstandingly, the work of the British Empire delegation—particularly, perhaps, the South African representatives—which made the League of Nations possible. That is the British Empire in a nutshell. It is contributions of that kind which we have made in the past, and which we are making at the present time, to the solution of the world's difficulties and by helping this emigration scheme we are bringing an increasingly large body of people under the influence of those ideals and propagating them throughout the length and breadth of the world.
One scarcely knows how best to address the House on a subject like this, when one has been newly transferred to the atmosphere of the House from the streets and the market places. I cannot for the life of me understand the type of mind which has been expressing itself during the last hour and a half on oversea settlement and emigration from this country. I have yet to be convinced that this country is too small or too undeveloped to carry its own population, and I am certainly convinced that millions of these people do not desire to leave it.
Why are you talking so much about emigration, and about sending people overseas for settlement purposes, if you do not want them to leave the country? That is what I cannot understand. [Interruption.] As one who may have been in some respects a nuisance during the last 18 months' period of unemployment that I passed through before getting this job, I can understand certain people wanting to transport nuisances of the character of myself. Also, as a member of the unemployed organisation that has been 402 maligned so much in this House by hon. and distinguished Members of the House, I want to say that if you do not begin to adopt different means and methods from those which you have been trying in the past for the relief or the complete abolition of unemployment in this country, you are likely to find yourselves in a much more serious predicament than you have been in in the past. As one who has never been out of the country, and has never had any call to leave the shores of the finest country I know of, I want to say that this Government, if it wants to treat the subject of unemployment, wants to go about it by mobilising all its national resources. What to-day are its national resources? We have been told that there are 1,300,000 unemployed adult persons at present registered in this country. To me, they are a national resource that needs mobilising, and, in my judgment, it can he mobilised only by the representatives of itself, and that is the Government.
The Government, in 1914 and the following years of the disastrous War that we passed through, could mobilise all its forces with a view to accomplishing a certain object. Most of the gentlemen representatives in this House have uttered sentiments of great sympathy with the unemployed, but the Government itself positively refuses to organise them with a view to using them to produce the things that we all need. As one who had some experience during the period of the War of the organisation or mobilisation of the resources of the country, namely, the people, I say you could mobilise and organise, for the purpose of producing destroying things, munitions and implements of destruction, and to my sorrow I was for sonic years engaged in the manufacture of them, as an engineer working in the national factories, so that I know what is capable of being done by this organising ability that we have in our ranks. I know that the production of munitions was accelerated during the War by the mobilisation of the resources, the people, men and women, nationally, and provision being made for their producing the things that you were then wanting. Why cannot you do it now, instead of talking about emigration and that kind of thing? Is there not just as much need for you to organise the people to do the things that are staring you in the face to be done, and not only doing those things but many 403 other things that all of us could thoroughly enjoy?
We were promised during 1916–17 that you would so something, and you set up committees with a view to making arrangements for the after-War period, but all I ever saw out of those committees with all their fine schemes, was the issuing of a few pamphlets. In the investigations that were made, however, there were hints of possibilities of organising the resources of the Empire at home. For instance, there was great talk of huge electrical schemes throughout the country, and if you had gone forward, or if the present Government would go forward, with the development of the idea of electrifying this country and producing power, they might achieve wonderful results. If they would organise the resources of the Empire, both people and natural resources, they could produce electrical power cheaply, and what an advantgae and benefit it would be. You have dirty, filthy, murky streets in your huge towns that could be transformed by these electrification schemes and the using of the power that could be generated in a cleaner and better manner than is the case at present, and if you would go forward with schemes of that kind you would be able to employ hundreds of thousands of willing, skilful, capable men, who are idle and unemployed to-day, and whom we are having to keep for doing no work at all. That to me is a very foolish policy indeed. I want to see it altered and remedied. What did the ex-Prime Minister say on this question of emigration? Let me quote:Walking around the principal streets of our great cities you will see displayed advertisements calling attention to the allurements of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand for British labour. There you will see the picture of a nice house with most beautiful surroundings. There you will see a large tract of land just before the harvest, thick with corn, blowing gracefully in the wind. There you will find cattle grazing on rich pastures, and there, again, you will see an orchard laden with fruit. You will not see a landlord anywhere.
As my hon. Friend says, nor a gamekeeper.During recent years these advertisements have attracted scores, nay, hundreds of thousands of our best labourers to find 404 a home across the sea. Point has been given to it by contrasting their experiences and the difficulties in the way of a decent livelihood for those at home.These are not my words. Hon. Members are listening carefully and very patiently to them, and I hope they are sinking in, as they have sunk into some of our minds on these benches.Do you know when the land question will be settled in England; Scotland, and Wales? It will be settled when similar advertisements setting forth the attractions of settlement on British soil are displayed in some of the most prominent windows of the streets of every city and town in the land. Then you will have a picture and print assuring the British workman that he need not fly across oceans and continents in order to find food, freedom, contentment and plenty for himself, his wife, and his little children. They will be able to find it in the old homeland we love so well.These words were spoken on 11th October, 1913. In September, 1914, other words were delivered by the right hon. Gentleman. Hon. Members will recollect what happened in August, 1914?
The right hon. Gentleman the ex-Prime Minister, in September, 1914, at Queen's Hall, I believe, said:The peoples will gain more by this struggle in all lands than they comprehend at the present moment.Do hon. Members comprehend? They are appealing to us to leave our country. They could plead with us and our sons and brothers to defend that country because it was our country. Now they, and the Government itself, are trying to make us deny the country we love so, well, and to flee from it! We are not made of that kind of material. I am here to ask the Government to-night to develop the national and natural resources of this our own country by the organisation of industry on right and proper lines. We will help them to so organise for the good of the communities in the Empire. We are not enemies of-our country. We are riot traitors to it, that we should be threatened with being driven from our country by either this or any other Government. I want this Government to realise that the problem of unemployment is one that has made some of us keen and angry men because of the experience we have had of it.
405 Eighteen months of my life I tramped the streets of this country as recently as jus before I was sent to this job, and I am here to make the question of the unemployed one that shall have to be listened to. Thousands of the unemployed of Gateshead sent me here. They voted for me because I was one of them. Hon. Members looking at the Gateshead returns will know what that means. Defeated in the Khaki Election of 1918 by a 10,000 majority, I have come here with a 5,000 majority. That is a portent that hon. Gentlemen opposite, this Government, and hon. Members below the Gangway will have to consider. I hope the Government is going to take warning of what has been said again and again from these benches on the unemployed question, are prepared to take hold of it, and tackle it with the intention of remedying it.
§ Sir ALFRED MOND
The hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Brotherton), who has just made such a very eloquent and interesting speech, has taken us rather far away from the subject under discussion. I rather regret that he adopts the attitude that there is antagonism between Empire emigration and intensive work in the development of this country. I wonder how he thinks the British Empire was ever created, and has ever grown up? How is it that the huge Dominions of Canada, New Zealand or Australia have grown up?
Sir A. MONO
I will deal with that in a moment. I understand that now my hon. and gallant Friend, who is the leader of the Socialists, objects to State emigration. The hon. Member spoke as if the Government were driving people out of this country. Not at all. What the Government are doing, and what the late Government did under this Act, was to assist people who wanted to go to the Dominions to live an organised and better existence there than voluntary people could possibly find. That may be a food or a had policy, but there is no difference in the essential features, and all these rhetorics about driving people out of the finest country in the world, and all the attempts to contrast land settlement here, which is urgently required, and the development of electric 406 power in this country, of which I have often spoken, and which is now, I am glad to see, progressing, with the effect of putting our unemployed population to work here, are all beside the mark in dealing with this question. No one recognises that better than the chief leader of the Labour party himself, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes), whom I am glad to see in his place. In the Second Heading Debate on the 26th April, 1922, when the present First Lord of the Admiralty introduced the Empire Settlement Bill, the working of which we are discussing, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting said:I hope that all of us recognise that within the Empire there are millions and millions of acres lying in a state of waste for want of population, and that, on the other hand, in this part of the Empire we have conditions of overcrowding which cannot be for the good health of millions of people, or in any sense serviceable as tending to improve the social and economic good of very large sections of the population. Therefore, I conclude that we all agree that it is very desirable to devise some plan for a wiser and fairer distribution of the population within parts of the British Empire." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th April, 1922: col. 592, Vol. 153.]That is the leader of the Labour party, and the hon. and gallant Member had better discuss the matter with him. I would really ask hon. Members to look at the Empire as one great country. If Canada and Australia were not divided by the sea, but were attached to this country, would the hon. Member say that a man who was going from here to Canada was being driven out? Not at all. It is merely because of the water between, which possibly the hon. Member has never crossed. If he had, he would finally have got to Canada, and would have found it, not a strange land, but a land very much like this, with people speaking the same language. In reality these attempts to divide the British Empire are quite out of date. The world is too big now. When you can fly from here to Australia in six days, which we shall probably he able to do in the reasonably near future, you will be much nearer to Australia then than 100 years ago you were to Edinburgh. When you see the Empire in that sense, what is the use of hon. Members saying—
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Sir A. MOND
I daresay they will fly, but that is really beside the point which we arc discussing, and with which I want to deal. We are really contrasting two things which have no real contrast. Hon. Members who wish to develop this country will find no one more anxious to help them than I am, but on the other hand I am very anxious to help the Empire. The two things hang together. For good or for evil, England is an industrial country. England could not, and no one can pretend that it could, support a population of 43,000,000 people on its own area unless it had a huge export trade in manufactured goods. No economist has ever denied that fact, and our unemployment is largely due to the fact that the people who used to buy British goods can no longer afford to do so. What is the obvious thing to do? The obvious thing is to create markets for our goods, and the best market for British goods is the British Empire. The engineers of this country would be more fully employed if they could exchange their engineering work with people in our Dominions who are growing fond under more favourable conditions than are possible here. That is a better method than any other which could possibly be devised, and I do not see that anyone who thinks seriously about the matter can come to any different conclusion.
That being so, the whole point that we are discussing to-day is how the Government are doing the organisation. The hon. Member has said that they are not organising well in regard to unemployment in this country. Let us see whether they are organising this question properly. I want to ask, and no doubt we shall be told on behalf of the Government, how far the money which Parliament has voted is being spent, and with what rapidity progress is being made. It is most important that progress should be made as speedily as possible. We have in this country a large youthful population, very largely owing to the War, who are more or less untrained to any particular industry, and who, unfortunately, are largely numbered in the ranks of the, unemployed. They form excellent raw material for the wider and freer life which the Dominions offer them. What is being done to train them? It is very important that training centres for agricultural work should be set up, either here or in the 408 Dominions, in which an intensive training can be given, which no doubt will be quickly responded to. How much are we doing in that direction, and how much money is being spent on that object?
In a very interesting report made by the Under-Secretary for the Colonies, which was published in February, 1922, quite a number of schemes were stated to be under discussion by the different Dominions, some were in progress, and some were the subject of negotiation. Could we be told how many of those schemes have been concluded? When I was taking an interest in the matter as a Member of the Government, I always found that there were many schemes under discussion but what, never seemed to happen was that schemes were actually being settled. I do hope that the red tape which continually entangles the footsteps of the progress that we all want to make, is being cut with a big pair of scissors, that the Treasury is not being allowed to make about with every scheme that is being put forward by our Dominions for weeks and months, haggling about the proportion we are to pay and the proportion they are to pay, while nothing is being done. This House voted this money in a fairly generous spirit in order to gel something done, and it is really intolerable that we have perpetual delay through trying to do this bargaining, which I know is popular in certain quarters, when all the time, as hon. Members have pointed out more than once, we are spending vast sums in keeping people unemployed in this country doing nothing. I hope we shall have something satisfactory on that.
A further question which is very important is the use which is being made of voluntary societies. Negotiations have been pending with several of them. I think that on a previous occasion I raised the question how far the Salvation Army, for instance, was being used, I mention that body because it has undoubtedly a great experience in emigration, it has very able practical officers doing very good work in all these places, and would be a very useful society to use. It would, should think, administer economically, and would enable a great deal of work to he done. It is in these directions that I hope we shall have some account of satisfactory progress. I should like to know how the Ontario scheme is getting on, the Western Australian Land Settle- 409 ment, the Victoria Land Settlement and the still larger scheme of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia. These were never originally intended to assist emigration. What was intended was that the money was to be used in conjunction with the money of the Dominions and the interest on the loans to be raised was to be spent in developing those countries to enable emigrants to work when they got there. People must have railways in order to get to the land. Australia requires a good deal of railway development and indirectly this leads to the question of employment in this country. I have advocated Empire development as a two-barrelled gun—a right and a left—the right being the development of the land, the left barrel being intended to hit the bird of unemployment in our industries here. Those are really the two lines on which you want to develop, and the sooner we get on and the more active we are the quicker you will have the remedy—it is only one of many remedies —aid the sooner you will be able to diminish the number of unemployed. I can assure the hon. Member for Gateshead that this baffling problem is exercising mind and thought of every thinking person in his country and for years has been occupying the brains of the ablest men and the solution is still not of a final or definite or absolute character. I had hoped that the Department of Overseas Trade might have had someone of Ministerial rank at its head, because it is so important that it is almost a one man job to be properly looked after. I hope he will give it that attention which the problem deserves. The proposal made by the hon. Member for Bournemouth (Lieut.-Colonel Croft) of sending someone out to discuss these questions on the spot, is a practical proposition. At one time it was contemplated to send the present First Lord of the Admiralty on a, kind of Empire tour to get the details settled and to get some of these points which take so long in correspondence cleared up. Something of that kind should really be done, and if some authority was given to someone to really settle something, I am sure progress could be made. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman can succeed in getting that done he will have earned a deep debt of gratitude from all of us.
§ Sir NEWTON MOORE
I am fully in accord with the views expressed by the right hon. Baronet. The hon. Member 410 for Gateshead (Mr. Brotherton) considered this was practically an endeavour to induce people to leave this country, and he implied that he would prefer to remain unemployed here than go to a country where he had a better chance. I think that is a very bad policy. He must know it is absolutely essential that the British Empire should be developed. If we are to hold what we have and develop it, we must have population. In Australia you have a huge continent with 14,000 miles of coast line and 3,000,000 square miles of territory. Within three or four days' sail we have a coloured population of something like 60,000,000, and if we do not develop that country, it stands to reason we shall not be allowed to hold it. It is a certainty, therefore, that we must do our best to develop it. Labour generally in Australia, though there are exceptions, has generally been in favour of helping emigration. Out of seven Prime Ministers, four or five have been Labour leaders, and four of them come from the old country. As far as labour is concerned, it is one of the best parts of the world they can possibly go to. They have a democratic franchise. An opportunity is given to every man to select his own land. He is given 160 free acres, and every possible assistance is rendered. Advances are made through the agricultural banks the land is cleared, and he is given thirty years to repay the advance. Consequently, be has an opportunity to obtain a freehold if he is prepared to comply with the conditions. One is that the land must be improved. That is essential before he obtains his title. Reference has been made to the schemes which have been propounded by various Prime Ministers. The Prime Ministers for Western Australia and South Australia were here last year. One had a scheme for settling boys on the land with farmers which has proved eminently successful, while the Prime Minister of Western Australia was responsible for founding a scheme, which, if carried out in accordance with the proposals laid down, would provide for the settlement of something like 25,000 people. I should be the last man in the world to advise a man to leave this country if there is a possibility of his getting a job, but to a man who can see nothing ahead of him, and who has no prospects here, I would say, "Why not go 411 out there? "I am Australian born and the son of a man who went out 90 years ago. In those days when settlers landed they were faced with dangers and difficulties sometimes from the blacks, hut they met them because they were of the right stuff to develop the Empire. I believe there are some of the old stock left in this country. Surely you are not going to deter a man who is desirous of making a home for himself across the sea. If he has a job, let him stay, and good luck to him, but every man who goes over there is a potential customer for your workshops here.
The hon. Member spoke as an engineer. Le me give him an example of how his trade is affected. In 1910, I was Premier of Western Australia and I came here in connection with our policy of developing that country which provided for laying down agricultural railways. In that country railways can be put down cheaper than roads. We put them down at a cost of £1,200 per mile. Those railways required rails. Where did we go to for them? To this country. They required locomotives and where did we go? We went to Glasgow and placed orders for 100 locomotives. The Lord Mayor regretted that my visit synchronised with the fact that 500 good Scotch citizens were leaving Glasgow, but I was able to reply that as the result of those men going out there, we were able to employ 600 Glasgow citizens for 12 months in constructing locomotives. The people who go there are going to white men and they will be looked after by white men who are proud to be associated with this country. Surely we have some obligation to these people to help them to defend their land. They came to this country when the occasion arose, not in their hundreds, but in their hundreds of thousands, to fight for this country. Surely we should support any reasonable scheme, built on sound lines, so that people from this country may go out to Australia and assist in the great work of development. Hon. Members are reasonable, and if they can only be satisfied that these schemes are on practical lines, and that they are examined by people here who have sound knowledge, they will support them. One hon. Member spoke about Commissions. I do not take any notice of that. We have done with Commissions. I sat for 12 months on a Royal Commission on 412 emigration, and we got no further. The action of the Government quite recently in sending out people competent to make inquiries, including a Member of the Labour party, is sound. These people can go there and satisfy themselves whether there is unemployment. They can satisfy themselves whether the schemes put forward by the Government are sound, practical schemes. They can see the Labour leaders out there. The Labour party will not support any scheme which means that there is going to be unemployment in that country. I know what I am speaking about. I represented in this country, as Agent-General, a Labour Government for three years, and their policy was to encourage emigration by every possible means, so long as it did not result in unemployment.
§ Sir N. MOORE
We listened to the hon. Member with a considerable amount of interest, and I was very disappointed at the attitude he took as an engineer. I cannot understand an engineer looking for a job for 18 months in this country, when he has an opportunity of going somewhere else and getting a job. As a rule, engineers are pretty active people, and very handy men wherever they go. Some reference has been made to training in this country. I can speak as a practical Australian, as a surveyor who went into the bush when I was 16, in charge of a survey party. A man out there, if he has a heart, and is able to swing an axe, dig a post hole, and use a mattock, can do very well. That is the training that he wants. He must be prepared to rough it. As to the question of training in this country, I do not place much importance on that, because the conditions in this country and in Australia are entirely dissimilar. You see a man here driving a single furrow plough, with a single horse, but out in Australia you may see a man driving six horses and ploughing six or seven acres a day. An engineer is a very useful and handy man out there, because the Australians use a great deal of machinery. I have a farm in one of the States which is being run by a man whom I assisted to emigrate from this country—a Scotsman. That man is able to farm one thousand acres, with the assistance of two or three men at harvest time or when the plough- 413 ing and seeding is going on. We have very wide areas, and it is imperative, if you are going to make a success of it, that you use machinery extensively.
I should like to refer hon. Members to the scheme that the Premier of Western Australia proposes. He has prepared one which will appeal to a large number of hon. Members. It is a group system scheme. He says that, provided they can get a guarantee of 1,000 per man, they will go into the group system and reserve the blocks of land necessary for the scheme. For that £1,000 these men are to be guaranteed 12 months' employment they are to work under a boss of their own selection, who will have an opportunity of directing their operations. They will have the advice of the experts of the Agricultural Department, who will give them all the practical advice that is necessary. A large number of people in this country lay very great stress on the advisability, as far as possible, of encouraging these more or less community settlements; but we, have to realise that these schemes cannot be accepted as if they were on chess-board lines. We have to realise that each Dominion is a separate proposition. It is no use sending, as suggested, say, 10,000 people to each Dominion or State. One may be able to absorb 50,000, while another cannot absorb 10,000. Therefore, it is not simply a question of dividing up one large prairie which you can lay out like a chess-board. Each country has its separate problems and difficulties. You have in some cases to provide proper roads and railways and you have to classify the land. In some places 100 acres will give a good living for a man, while in another place it may mean 2,000 acres, with only 150 acres of first-class land, and perhaps 500 acres of second-class land. We must beware of these chess-board schemes, and we must have them examined by competent people who can tell us whether they arc practical propositions or not.
§ Mr. NEIL MACLEAN
The, House has listened with interest to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for North Islington (Sir N. Moore). He has praised the benefits that are going to flow to the working men of this country who are unemployed and who are prepared to emigrate; but it is peculiar that with all the blessings of Australia, of 414 which he has spoken, he has left them behind him and come back to this country. I think the unemployed man in this country will have the same point of view, and will prefer to remain in the old country and, possibly, to take the scat of the hon. Member at the next election.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
That is no reason why we should ask our people to emigrate. We cannot all be Prime Ministers in Australia. That is, perhaps, one of the reasons why the hon. Member for North Islington has come back. The Government in bringing forward this scheme of Empire settlement and for sending out our people to the Dominions, at a cost of £150, are breaking one of the most solemn pledges that was made to the people of this country during the War. There is no occasion for any man being sent out from this country. There is ample opportunity in this country for anyone who desires to have it; but industry and initiative are stifled in this country because of certain conditions that circumscribe the activities of people who want to go on the land. We spend £150 on putting people out of the country, when for half that sum we could pat people on the land in this country.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
The hon. Member for Silvertown anticipates the future of the landlords. If the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Blundell) will allow me to develop my point, I will answer him. The people of this country desire to go on the land. The Secretary for Scotland has had thousands of applications from ex-service men who desire to settle upon the land in Scotland, and he could find land for them. They were promised some of this land to settle upon prior to the War. During the War the land promised to them was bought up, and they were refused it. So they had to go to the extent of seizing it, and were put in prison for doing so. There is ample opportunity for settling in this country. 415 There is no need to colonise the world until we have colonised the land.
§ Mr. BLUNDELL
I am sorry to interrupt, but the point to which I called attention was that the hon. Member had said you could put the men on the land for one half of, £150. I admit that many people could be put on the land, but not at the price the hon. Member says.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
The hon. Member is perhaps correct, if he is looking at the price of land as it is to-day, under private ownership.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
Make the land of this country Government land, and you can do it more cheaply than in Australia.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
Does the hon. Member suggest that this country is developed? Has he travelled through some parts of the country? There are miles upon miles of land in this country that await development. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where?"] There are miles upon miles of land in this country that are being taken from development—land that has been ploughed, farmland. The farms have been taken in and added to game preserves. [HON. MEMBERS; Where?"] In Perthshire, in Sutherlandshire, in Ross-shire, and in Inverness-shire. If any hon. Member cares to conic with me to Scotland, I will show him acre after acre that has been taken from farmland and put into game preserves.
Colonel Sir CHARLES YATE
I can give the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. N. Maclean) the case of the large amount of land taken by the Duke of Sutherland and reclaimed, out of which the men on it could not make a living.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
I can also give an instance where land was taken by an ancestor of the Duke of Sutherland, and 15,000 people were turned off that land—driven off by fire and sword. You have never heard of the Sutherland clearance. The whole of the situation that arises is due to this: First of all, you can have certain conditions in this country under which, during a war with other countries, you have no unemployment. You can find employment in this country when you are at war for every man. There is no unemployment problem then.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
And you brought Chinamen in to take the places of the dockers at Cardiff. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense! "] It may be nonsense to you, but it is not to the men walking the streets unemployed to-day.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
Exactly, and you cannot find a job for them now, when they have saved the country for you.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
Here is a Circular issued by the Ministry of Labour, for the emigration of children from 14 to 17 years of age.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
You take away our children at 14, but you keep your children at school until they are 24 years of age, and then set them racing on the Thames. You talk about emigrating children at 14; you ought to be ashamed of yourselves!
§ Mr. MACLEAN
This Circular deals with children from 14 to 17 years of age. 417 It suggests that, owing to the fact that there are 200,000 children leaving school every year, they should be emigrated and be grained in the colonies. It is laid down that applicants interviewed have to be classified in three classes—as suitable, doubtful, or unsuitable. We are getting back to the A 1, B 2, and C 3 classes of the War period. This is to be placed before the boys from the ordinary schools of the country, not from the public schools or the universities. It is for the boys from the ordinary schools, the elementary schools, the schools to which children of the working classes go. These are the individuals who are to be taken out there, and who have to be shepherded by the Salvation Army, if you agree to let them take them out, or by voluntary agencies, if the Government agrees to the proposal of the right hon. Member for West Swansea (Sir A. Mond) to subsidise them. These children are to be taken out and handed over to farmers.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
And you came back also, like the hon. Member for North Islington (Sir Newton Moore). You did not wait out there, you came back.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
The hon. Member for Kingston (Mr. Penny) is a fine-looking Member, I admit that. He also, like the other two hon. Members who have given their testimony, has come back. The old country is more to him than Australia.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
There are other men who have come back both from Australia and Canada who did not make their fortunes.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
I do not object to barracking, but I object entirely to individuals interrupting in that manner. Many of the men have been compelled to come back. I know seine who have come back, and there are others out in the Colonies who cannot raise the money to come back, and who have not got employment.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
I do not understand that interruption. There are in Canada, at the present time, thousands of people who are unemployed. There are thousands of people unemployed in Australia. You are neither salving the unemployment problem there or here by sending unemployed people out to other places where there is unemployment. Only a year ago, in Canada, I was speaking to the Labour Minister, Senator Robertson, prior to the last General Election there. He told me he would have to pay the fare of thousands of men, from Toronto, Montreal, acid Winnipeg, up into the prairies to assist on the farms with the harvest. After six weeks or two months had passed, those men would drift hack again into the towns. There was no work for them in the towns, and there was no work longer than six weeks or two months, at the outside, to keep them on. the prairies. The Government talk about sending children out to the Dominions to be trained. We are told that this is a good idea. Empire settlement! Empire development! Why cannot you develop your own country first, before you talk about developing other lands?
When you get a Liverpool soapboiler buying up a large portion of Scotland, and keeping the land out of cultivation, you call it development. That is not development in the sense in which we understand development. If you wish this country to become merely a pleasure ground for those who can afford to purchase the country, that is all very well from your point of view, but the men who have fought for the country, who have been born and brought up in the country, who were enticed into the Army under the promise that there were to be 419 better conditions when the War ended, the men whom you have deceived and you have robbed, are told that you can find them no employment in this country which they have saved, and you give them £150 to get out of it. The whole system of Empire settlement starting from that basis is absurd. When the Empire Settlement Act went through this House I said the same things that I am saying now. I protested against it, and I tried to have amendments made.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Ormsby-Gore)
Your own leader supported it.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
This is no new position for me to take up. The hon. Member opposite has said many things about the men who are sitting side by side with him. Has he swallowed his words now? He has changed his opinions? I do not attribute to that the fact that he is sitting on that bench now, but if my leader has said something a year ago different from what he says to-day regarding this point, he is not the only man in this House who has changed his opinion. I hope that the Government, whatever attitude they are going to take up, will at least withdraw this infamous Circular issued by the Ministry of Labour. No matter how we got it, it is marked "confidential." This is one of the documents which the Minister of Labour no doubt had in mind when, in answer to a question asking for all the Regulations and documents sent out to officials of the Ministry of Labour and unemployment committees, he said that he could not give them as they were confidential documents. It is a scandalous document, and I hope that the Government will withdraw it, and the terms contained in it for the emigration of young children.
It may be that Dr. Barnardo's Homes send children out. No one wants to say a word against those homes or the children sent out by them in England or the Quarriers' Homes in Scotland, but they are orphan children, and the children proposed to be taken out under this Circular are children living with their parents who must have their parents' consent before they are sent out. Is there any free choice to a parent who is unemployed, who is on the gap with no money coming into the home, whose children 420 are starving? Undoubtedly the man will try to do the best he can for the family. The best he can do is to keep them in his house if he can do it.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
If the hon. Member will continue to interrupt, I cannot help my rejoinders. The children sent out from Dr. Barnardo's Homes are orphans, but these children are not. I hope that the Government will withdraw this document, and I hope further that those questions of Empire settlement are going to be debated more on the lines of settling our own people upon the land of our own country.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
You do not starve, and you are neither on the land nor in industry. We want the people to be placed on the land of the country. We want the land of this country to be colonised. We are told that every emigrant from this country becomes a potential customer for this country, but every man employed in this country is not a potential but an actual customer in this country. He cannot purchase outside this country, while the Australian and the Canadian can. First develop and settle our own country, and with all the agricultural implements we have, and with our knowledge of science, we shall find that this country can grow considerably more than will support a larger population than we have got to-day. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] It is absurd to say that there are too many people in this country. There are not. This country will support more than live on it at the present time, if properly cultivated, with private ownership in land destroyed, and until we colonise our own country there is no occasion for Empire settlement, or for the emigration of British children under the age of 17.
Lieut.-Colonel BUCKLEY (Secretary, Overseas Trade Department)
The hon. Member who has just sat down has given us a very forcible and interesting speech, ranging over a large number of subjects. I am sure that he will forgive me if I do not follow him in all the points which he has raised. My business here to-night is to discuss the Empire Settlement Act, which it is my duty to administer, though 421 I will endeavour in the course of my speech to answer, as well as I can, the points which the hon. Member has raised. The House has listened to a number of very interesting speeches delivered for the most part more with an idea of helpfulness than anything else. We have all been very much struck, I am sure, with the sincerity and deep purpose of the speeches, and if I may be forgiven for saying so I am very grateful for the whole tone of this Debate. I feel that I ought to begin by making some sort of apology for myself. It is only a few days since I was appointed and with the best will in the world it has been impossible for me to make myself completely master of the whole of a very difficult and very intricate subject. If I fail to deal with it to-night as completely as I ought and to answer all the questions and points which have been raised, I hope hon. Members will forgive me if I ask for their indulgence and assure them that it will not be for want of zeal.
I should like to say at once that I welcome this discussion for three reasons. The Empire Settlement Act passed its Third Reading on the 22nd May last year without a Division. That is nearly a year ago, and it is only natural and right, as the right hon. Member for West Swansea (Sir A. Mond) reminded us, that the House should have some account of the stewardship of that Act. My second reason is that I find already after my short acquaintance with this work that there is much ignorance of the aims and nature of the problems with which we are attempting to deal, and I think I have noticed a good deal of that ignorance in the speeches delivered to-night. If there is ignorance with regard to the aims and nature of the problem, there is also ignorance with regard to its practical difficulties. The best way to dissipate these misunderstandings is by discussion in this House. I hope, and we all hope, that this project will ultimately prove to be a great commercial success and of material benefit, not merely to the people of this country, but to the whole Empire. Let me emphasise this point from the very beginning, that we must not look at it solely and primarily from the material point of view. It must not be looked at as a solution of the problem of unemployment. That is a special problem and an immediate problem. The dislocation of trade brought about by the War have pre- 422 sented that problem not merely to this country but to the Dominions. It is still with them in an acute form, and to talk of using them as a means of curing something from which we are suffering in a peculiar degree is a great political mistake. No, it is not from that point of view that we have to look upon it. We must not look at it, either, merely as an opportunity of getting rid of a number of people we do not want, and here I want to correct the misapprehension that seems to exist on the benches opposite. The whole aim of this policy is not to get rid of people but to reverse the spirit in which people used to leave this country in years gone by. Then they left it with bitterness, with hatred, and with rancour in their hearts against a country which could not help them, and which did nothing for them. Three-quarters of them went not to British Dominions but to foreign countries. We want to reverse the whole process, and to send them with affection and with gratitude, not to foreign countries, but to British Dominions, to remain and to be citizens of the British Empire, and to help us to people our great Empire as it ought to be peopled, with British people with British aims, British ideals, British thoughts and British aspirations. If we are ever going to get at the heart of this matter and to look at it from the right point of view, let us realise once and for all that at the very basis of it is a great ideal, the ideal of a solid, united, prosperous, peaceful, and beneficent British Empire.
I have said that I do not look upon Empire migration from the point of getting rid of our surplus population, and I should like to say a few words with regard to population. I have seen various estimates with regard to the extent to which we are said to be overpopulated. A few days ago I heard we had 4,000,000 people too many in this country, and to-night the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Lieut.-Colonel Croft) put his estimate rather lower, at about 2,500,000. I do not think it is a question so much of whether we have too many people in this country or whether we have not. The total volume of our foreign trade is about 30 per cent. less than in 1913. We have 1,500,000 people out of work, and it is reasonable to assume that if that trade could be 423 restored we should return to a greater measure of prosperity.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has mentioned that our foreign trade was 30 per cent. less. Is that in quantity or value?
Equivalent value. No, what we have to do now is to restore that foreign trade to its pre-War dimensions, and what we have to remember in considering this question of population and migration is that, if we are going to maintain the same number of people in these islands, it will only be by the maintenance and expansion of our foreign trade, and that at the moment Empire development offers the best prospects for stimulating the demand for British products overseas. Everything points in that direction. The British Empire has a position of unequalled advantage. Its undeveloped resources are vast and of great extent, and there is no doubt that its population is unequally distributed. The hon. Member for South-East Southwark (Colonel Alexander) in his maiden speech gave figures with which I did not quite agree, but which were accurate enough for the purposes of his argument. The population per square mile of Great Britain is 480.5 persons. In Canada, excluding the North West, Territory and the Yukon, it is four persons; in Australia 1.8; in New Zealand 11.7. It is obvious at once that if we are going to develop the resources of the British Empire with British people there is vast room for a readjustment of the population. The second indication in the direction of Empire development is that in the future the whole trend of our export trade is almost bound to be towards the Dominions. Australia already is our second largest customer, and as time goes on, with the difficulties that encompass and threaten Europe with the drawbacks in trading with people who speak a different tongue and with different forms of thought, the whole trend of our trade will be more in the direction of people of our own ideas, who speak our language, who are citizens of our Empire and our best customers. The whole course of migration tends in the direction of the British Empire. What is the course of migration 2 In 1890 to 1894 three-quarters of the movement of migration was to destinations outside the Em- 424 pire. Twenty years later there was a complete change, and three-quarters of the migrants gent to Empire destinations. Down to the end of the 19th century the United States attracted more than all parts of the Empire together. The new century sees the tendency reversed, the United States almost fully settled, and railway development in the Dominions has given ample access to their fertile lands. It is no use being in a hurry over this matter. I shall presently quote figures which will show that the number of people who have been migrated under this Bill is not sufficiently large to go into ecstacies about, but which will show that considering the difficulties which have been very considerable and arduous a great deal has been accomplished in paving the way.
For the first time in the history of this country the Empire has a definite policy of development. That is the first thing given us by the Empire Settlement Act. The British Emipre, loosely-knit as it is, misunderstood, and often mismanaged as it has been, withstood a great shock in 1934. We then learned it was a source of strength and not a source of weakness, and that it had what is the absolute requisite for the foundation of the ideal State, settlement, or Empire, namely, goodwill. In approaching this matter, may I ask my hon. Friends to believe that the first thing we have to do is to take every possible care that we do not dissipate that goodwill. The second thing we have to do is to work for co-operation and co-ordination. That is not always easy. It is not easy to hurry schemes of migration when those schemes have to be negotiated between Parliaments which are separated by several thousands of miles.
Lastly, there is the question of organisation. The organisation on this side is a comparatively easy matter, but it is difficult at the other end. It is comparatively easy for us to collect the people, but it is far more difficult for those on the other side to receive them, as they want to receive them, in the best possible way. I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend (Major Viscount Sandon), who made his maiden speech, that the bun and cup of tea is not lacking when these people land in Canada or Australia. It must be borne in mind that migration must not get ahead of development, and that there is 425 a strong need of harmony between the two.
In answer to the very natural request of may right hon. Friend the Member for West Swansea, I will now try to state what has been done. In the first place, the House knows, we have this Oversea Settlement Office, which has been in existence for four years. For the first three years of its existence it dealt with the settlement of ex-service men, who were granted free passages, and since this Act came into force it has had the duty of working and operating this Act. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Wandsworth (Sir J. Norton-Griffiths) asked me why this Office had been transferred to the Department of Overseas Trade. It has not been transferred to that Department. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister told the House yesterday that the Department would be still under the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
Lieut. - Colonel Sir J. NORTON-GRIFFITHS
That was in answer to a question I put. The intention of it was to indicate that my right hon. Friend is already overburdened with work in connection with trade development, and yet on top of those arduous duties he has suddenly put upon him the work of this migration scheme, which could occupy the whole time of the biggest statesman which the country has ever had.
I am afraid I am not the only Under-Secretary who is overburdened with work. My hon. and gallant Friend whom I followed is far more overburdened with work than I am. After all, the Department of Overseas Trade is not a bad Department in which to have an office of this character, because sooner or later it is coming down to a commercial proposition. If it is the duty of my Department to watch the progress of, and to assist in the advancement of, the commerce of this country, surely, if we agree that the main trend of the future development of our commerce is towards the Empire, then this Office is not very badly housed where it is. The Overseas Settlement Office is working in the closest touch with the Dominion Governments through their representatives in London, and it also has the assistance of the organisation of the Ministry of Labour. Since the Act came into force it has arranged the following 426 schemes: A general passage agreement to Australia, a small scheme with Dr. Barnardo's Homes, a scheme with Western Australia, a passage agreement with New Zealand, and a small scheme with Ontario. Under these schemes 11,038 people have already been migrated. The Australian schemes are in course of negotiation, although they are not yet in operation, with the exception of the Victoria Settlement Scheme, which has definitely been approved. There is a scheme under consideration with New South Wales, a scheme with the Australian Farmers, Limited, a scheme with the Child Emigration Society, a scheme with the Government of Canada, a scheme with the British Dominions Emigration Society, and a scheme with the Salvation Army. Under all those schemes, if they come to fruition, as I trust they will, we hope to create a migration in the course of the next 12 months of 75,000 people, or at the rate of 1,500 a week.
The migrants, the people who are going to migrate, are divided into three classes. There are, first, the single men and women. There are, secondly, the children and juveniles, and there are, thirdly, the married men with families. I shall have a few words to say shortly with regard to the order in which we shall deal with those categories and our policy with regard to them; but I want to say this now. I want the House to remember that every individual case has got to he dealt with on its own, and on its merits, and that every individual case goes to the representatives of the Dominion Governments in London, with whom the final selection rests. We are also, by way of experiment, setting up, or are about to set up, a Migration Committee in the County of Kent; but until the whole policy of the scheme of emigration is developed, we do not propose to proceed very much further in that direction. The Kent committee would rather be something by way of experiment.
What is our policy going to be? Because that, after all, is what the House really wants to know. The first thing we have got to do is to complete the arrangements and to ensure that these schemes are working in cordial co-operation. I should like to say at once that, so far as I understand it, although 427 we have not always been able to agree on points of detail with the Dominions overseas, we have met on all hands the most active and the most cordial desire to co-operate in this great movement. The second thing we have to do is to get the right people to migrate. Sometimes the charge is made that we are migrating the best. The only thing I need say in answer to that is that we need the best. We need all the character, ability, initiative and enterprise there is in the people of this country to go out and face the difficulties of new positions abroad. I am not the least afraid of that. There are plenty more coming on. The inherent qualities of the race are not dead. They are only a little bit cramped, and if we made more room at the top it would merely mean a better opportunity for those who, at the moment, are underneath.
What is the policy with regard to the migration of children? And here I must cross swords with my hon. Friend the Member for Govan (Mr. N. Maclean). In the categories of migrants, we place children and juveniles first. I will tell the House why I say that. It is not a question of carrying people away from their homes. There is not the smallest intention or desire to do anything of the sort. As a matter of fact the great majority of children who go abroad are children who are destitute and who are orphans, and whose outlook in this country is hopelessly black. We hope to give them a better outlook and a better chance in a new country. They are mostly in the care of the Poor Law guardians, or well-known and well-recognised societies in this country. When I first heard of emigration of children I was a little horrified. It seemed a terrible thing to take a small child abroad among strange people and new surroundings, but when I came to inquire into it I found there was nothing to be alarmed at. In Canada we migrate children down to eight years of age. There seems to be for some reason or another a great number of married people in Canada who are childless, and they are glad to adopt these little orphans. On this side suitable children have to be selected to be sent out. They go across the sea in charge of an officer of the society or some other responsible person. They are kindly and well received on the 428 other side. The Canadian Government exercises the very greatest care in the selection of the people who are to adopt them, and when they are finally adopted it has one of the most complete systems of inspection I have ever heard of. Government inspectors visit these children from time to time in the farms or homes or wherever they may be. They give no notice of their visits. They first make a careful inspection of the home and full inquiries as to the general treatment of the child. Then they have a talk with the child alone, and if the inspector is not satisfied that the child is being adequately looked after he takes the child away there and then. That is about as sensible and humane and kind a system as one could have. Australia is not so keen on child emigration or juvenile emigration. But there is a certain amount of it, and at the present time we have a Commission on the seas which is to visit Australia. They sailed last Saturday, and included among them is a Member of the Labour party who is known and respected in all quarters of the House, the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Wignall).
The second category is that of women. We have 1,700,000 more women in this country than men. Although in certain portions of the Dominions it is true that there are more women than men, taking them as a whole, the balance in the Dominions is the other way, and it stands to reason that an adjustment of the balance is a right and proper policy and in the interests of the nation as a whole. The next category is that of single men, and if they are not too old they are not a very difficult problem provided they are not unsuited to the life. I am rather inclined to the view that the people who go abroad should be given some training in this country as that would enable us to weed out the unsuitable, but there is no doubt that the Australians at least do not want them to be trained here. They want the raw material to bring them up in their own way. There is a good deal to be said for that, but I believe we shall have to consider the question of establishing in the future some system of training in this country. The last class is the married men with families, and here you have the ideal person to settle in a new country. The husband and wife take the children out with memories of the old country and look after them and bring them up not so much as citizens of the new Dominion, 429 but with a closer feeling towards the old country than orphan children and other young people would have. But they are a difficult problem to deal with because the question of sustenance while the man [...]s finding his feet is not an easy one. It is not desirable to send the man ahead and leave the family to follow, and it is not desirable to send the man to a new country unless he has the chance of making a living straight away. The burden of sustaining the men while they are finding their feet is rather too heavy a burden for the Dominions, but if these settlement schemes mature there will be a great deal more done in the migration of married men and families. Here I will refer again to the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth. If he will allow me to say so, I think the greater portion of it should have been addressed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Our means are limited, and we have not the means at our disposal to go in for large schemes. That is a question for the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
That is not his fault. In transferring this scheme to me and to my Department, I am quite certain the Government; have no intention of letting this matter drop. It is a matter of high policy and of first-class importance. I look upon the Empire Settlement Act as one of the most important and far-reaching Acts of Parliament that have been passed for many years. I have listened to-night to two most interesting maiden speeches, and I have felt too as if I were making a maiden speech. The office which I have had the honour of holding for the last two years has kept me a silent but interested spectator of the proceedings of this House. And thinking of maiden speeches has made me think of my early days in Parliament, of the high hopes with which we started in 1919 and of how many of us have lived to be a great deal disillusioned, but I see in this Act something which, in my opinion, is a first step to the new England we all want to see. I believe it will be a step also towards the making of a new Empire an Empire which will be a tower of strength, and not a source of weakness, a security and not an anxiety, and it may be that in the years to come it will be a great factor for 430 peace in a world which far too frequently has been ravaged and devastated by the cruelties and wickedness and follies of war.