HC Deb 18 November 1930 vol 245 cc232-4
22 and 23. Major GLYN

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (1) whether he is aware that some British families sent out to Victoria, Australia, under the auspices of the Overseas Settlement Act are reduced to receiving sup-plies of food and clothing from the Salvation Army and similar organisations; and, since these British settlers have lost all their capital which was invested in Australia as a condition of assistance from the home Government, will he make inquiries of the Government of Australia in order that action may be taken to assist the settlers;

(2) whether the Overseas Settlement Committee have any recent information concerning the condition and prospects of British settlers placed on blocks of land in the State of Victoria, on which they have been incapable of making a living; and, in view of the fact that these blocks of land had been previously abandoned by Australian ex-soldier settlers owing to the poverty of the soil and difficulties of communication and marketing what steps does he propose to take to help these British settlers?


I am sorry to say that it is a fact that there are a number of settlers from the United Kingdom now in Victoria who are in distress, and that it is contended on behalf of these settlers that the conditions on which they were led to go out to Victoria and to take up land there have not been fulfilled. The Government of Victoria decided in July last to set up a Royal Commission in order to inquire into the position of these settlers but the latest information in my possession is that the Commission has not yet begun its inquiries. So far as His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom are concerned, the agreement bearing on this matter is one with His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia and I am taking up the matter with the latter Government.

Major GLYN

Will the right hon. Gentleman permit me to see him and give him certain information I have from ex-service men so that the matter can be expedited? They are in great distress and have neither food nor clothing?


I shall be pleased to have any information that the hon. and gallant Member gives me. The answer I have given to the question ought to bring home to the House the difficulty which I have frequently explained when it was being assumed that it was an easy matter to send people to the Dominions. I have taken the view that it would be unwise to attempt to force that issue in the present position in the Dominions, and these and many other cases unfortunately only emphasise the position.

Colonel ASHLEY

Cannot something be done to meet the pressing needs of these people by the Government of Victoria or the home Government?


When the right hon. and gallant Member talks about the Government of this country he must have in mind the position of his own Government in this matter. Surely when an obligation or contract is entered into between two Governments there is a moral obligation on both. It is not necessary for me to say that I sympathise with these people. I know their terrible distress, but the matter is far too delicate and difficult for me to give an answer across the Floor of the House.