HC Deb 03 December 1930 vol 245 cc2224-6
62 and 63. Major GLYN

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (1) whether he will inquire of the Government of Victoria, Australia, when it is in-tended that the commission that Government has stated will be set up to inquire into the circumstances under which British migrants were placed on agricultural holdings evacuated by Australian ex-service men, and the conditions under which these families now exist, will begin their inquiries, and by what date the report will be submitted;

(2) whether he will make inquiries of the Federal Government of Australia as to the condition and whereabouts of 400 out of the 741 settlers who went to Victoria, having been selected by a representative of the Government of Victoria and assisted in their passages under the terms of the Empire Settlement Act, 1922?


Since I replied to the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. A. A. Somerville) on this subject on 25th November, I have personally seen the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia, with a view to expediting the commencement of the inquiry of the Victorian Royal Commission. I have no doubt that the Royal Commission will investigate the condition of the 400 settlers referred to.

Major GLYN

Does the right hon. Gentleman know that five members of the 800 who formed the original party sent out by the Oversea Settlement Committee are now in this country as a deputation from the men, and will he see them?


I should have no objection to seeing them if any useful purpose would be served. I know the tremendous hardships and difficulties of these people, and I spoke personally to the Prime Minister of Australia, who promised me that he would expedite the investigation. It will not help matters for me to see them when an investigation is taking place elsewhere; but I do not want it to be taken from that answer that I am unsympathetic to them.

Major GLYN

May I ask whether the British Government do not recognise some responsibility towards men who go out officially under schemes approved by the home Government?


I hope the acquiescence with which that question has been received does not indicate the general view of the House. If an agreement is made with a Dominion and circumstances arise which make it difficult, for whatever reason, to fulfil that agreement, it would be a very dangerous precedent for the British Government to be held responsible; but again I say that I am not minimising the hardships of those people in giving that warning.


We were not able to hear the original answer. Did I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that he is now satisfied that dire necessity no longer exists among these settlers


No, I did not say anything of the kind. The question put to me was whether there would be an investigation, and I answered by saying "Yes," and I have taken all the steps necessary to expedite it; but so far as the Government are concerned we cannot prejudge the issue.