§ 24. Mr. ANNESLEY SOMERVILLE
asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he can give the House any information regarding the progress of the Royal Commission inquiring into migrant settlers' affairs in Australia?
Mr. H. THOMAS
I understand that the Royal Commission is at present taking the evidence of the settlers, which should be completed by the end of January. The evidence of the official witnesses is expected to be taken in February.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
In view of the deplorable position of these settlers, will the right hon. Gentleman ask the States and the Commonwealth Governments to fulfil their pledges to the men?
It would be unwise to make any overtures when an inquiry is taking place, because it would possibly be misunderstood.
I gave precisely the same reply that I gave to my hon. Friend last week, that it would be unwise to interfere.
§ 26. Mr. KIRKWOOD
asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he is aware that over 1,000 unemployed emigrants from this country to Western Australia are living under conditions of hardship; that work is impossible to obtain; and that refusal to come to relief camps renders them liable to a charge of vagrancy; and what action he proposes to take to help these fellow countrymen?
I fear that it is undoubtedly the case that there are a number of migrants from the United Kingdom in Western Australia who are unemployed, but I have no reason to believe that the steps which have been taken to assist the unemployed there differentiate in any way between the unemployed who are migrants and those who are native born. The Government of Western Australia have taken steps to cope with the problem of unemployment there, and it is for them to decide what is the best way of dealing with it.
I have first to ascertain the accuracy of my hon. Friend's statement. I do not doubt it, but I have not had it confirmed yet. When I get the information, I will consider it in the light of the answer.
§ Mr. MAXTON
The right hon. Gentleman says that there is no difference between migrants and native-born, but is not there a difference in responsibility to these two classes?
None; I have emphasised clearly on many occasions that if this Government, or indeed any Government, accepted a responsibility which rightly belongs to the Dominions, it would be a profound mistake and would lead to considerable misunderstanding.