§ 1. Mr. TURTON
asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs how many of the Victorian settlers have elected to accept the compensation offered by the Victorian Government; how many of the settlers have not yet received the compensation; and whether he will press upon the Victorian Government that the compensation should be paid without delay?
The SECRETARY of STATE for DOMINION AFFAIRS (Mr. J. H. Thomas)
My latest information is that 225 of the Victorian settlers have elected to accept the compensation offered by the Victorian Government, and that 203 of these have been paid in full and nine have received payment on account. I should be glad to inquire into any cases where there is any reason to think that there has been delay.
§ Mr. HANNON
Can the right hon. Gentleman do anything to dispel the bitter feeling which exists regarding this Victorian scheme either in consultation with the Victorian Government or the Federal Government of Australia?
The constant effort of the British Government made in very exceptional circumstances shows that that is our desire, and my hon. Friend will be glad to know that it is generally recognised that we have done our best.
§ Mr. LESLIE BOYCE
Is it not a fact that these few delays have been occasioned by the necessity of making certain adjustments which it has not yet been possible to complete?
That is not only true, but I frankly admit that it has been a deplorable case. I have had each case individually examined, but it is only fair to say that, while there has been great hardship in many cases, certain people have tried to exploit the situation, and I have had to look at that side of it.
§ 2. Mr. TURTON
asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether Mr. Hay, the assessor appointed by the Victorian Government, has yet made any recommendation as to either the allocation of the money provided for the payment of the debts of the Victorian settlers or the land to be allotted to the settlers who have elected to remain on holdings provided by the Victorian Government?
My latest information is that, as regards the debts of the settlers, the assessor is approaching the stage when it will be possible to consider the allocation of the fund, and that as regards those settlers who desire resettlement on the land, he is carrying out the necessary investigations as rapidly as possible.
§ Mr. TURTON
Is my right hon. Friend aware that until the allocation of debt is made many of these settlers cannot return to the mother country, and will he represent to the Victoria Government that it is an urgent matter of Imperial importance?
Yes, Sir, that I have already done. But there are two questions involved. The first is that there are not only those who desire to return here, but there are those who want to settle out there. Both questions have to be considered on an entirely different basis.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he considers that the Victoria Government have played the game with those settlers?
§ 4. Sir ROBERT HAMILTON
asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he is aware that the combined Empire societies advisory committee in Victoria has been disbanded; and what the present position is of those settlers in Victoria who have not applied for cash compensation but have either applied for re-settlement or have put in no application?
I am informed that the committee referred to has not been dis- 728 banded.I understand that the cases of those settlers who have not exercised the option of accepting cash compensation are being inquired into by the assessor.
§ Mr. TURTON
Is the right hon. Gentleman obtaining any information as to whether the committee is disbanding although it has not been disbanded?
No, and I understand that on all sides it is recognised that Mr. Hay, the assessor, is not only fair and impartial, but he is doing good work, and I have no reason to believe that the committee is intending to disband.
§ 5. Sir R. HAMILTON
asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he is aware that the claims of creditors on the compensation money awarded by the Victorian Government to British ex-service settlers in Victoria have resulted in one man being sent to prison and the destitution of another; that others of the settlers have returned to this country without means; and what action he is taking to help these persons to meet their immediate necessities and obtain a fresh start in life?
If the hon. Member will be good enough to give me the names of the settlers referred to in the first part of his question, I will cause inquiry to be made and will communicate with him further. As regards the remainder of the question I would remind the hon. Member that the compensation granted by the Victorian Government was provided with the object of enabling the settlers to obtain a fresh start.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many of these settlers are arriving back to this country in a state of destitution? The object of my question was to ask whether his Office was doing anything to enable those people to get a re-start in life in this country?
I assumed that the question referred to a re-start on the other side, but I will have inquiries made. My hon. Friend knows that I will certainly consider any personal suggestions that can be made on this side.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
May I ask if the people who are arriving home in this state may be advised to apply to the Dominions Office for assistance and advice?