HC Deb 19 January 1937 vol 319 cc45-92

Considered in Committee, under Standing Order No. 69.

[Sir DENNIS HERBERT in the Chair.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That it is expedient to amend the Empire Settlement Act, 1922, as follows: —

  1. (a) by prolonging by fifteen years the period beyond which the liability of the Secretary of State to make contributions under schemes agreed under the said Act is not to extend, so, however, that in any financial year after the current financial year the aggregate amount expended by the Secretary of State under any such scheme or schemes shall not exceed one million five hundred thousand pounds, exclusive of the interest of any sums received by way of interest on or repayment of advances previously made;
  2. (b) by providing that the limit on the contributions of the Secretary of State towards the expenses of any such scheme shall be increased from one-half to three-quarters of those expenses, except in the ease of—
    1. (i) a development or land settlement scheme; or
    2. (ii) a scheme towards the expenses of which the government of a part of His Majesty's oversea dominions have agreed to contribute."—[King's Recommendation signified.]—[Mr. M. MacDonald.]

4.0 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (Mr. Malcolm MacDonald)

The question of Empire migration is one which interests greatly many Members of the Committee. I understand, however, that the time during which we shall have to debate the question this afternoon is somewhat limited as another Debate on a certain and perhaps undesirable form of migration which is going on in another part of the world is to take place a little later on. But if the Committee would accept this Resolution, if they would give it to the Government as the first of its New Year's gifts so that I may get leave to introduce the Bill which is to be founded upon it, they will have another opportunity to roam over the whole field of this important question on the Second Reading of that Bill.

What is the purpose of this Financial Resolution? At the present moment there is on the Statute Book an Empire Settlement Act which was introduced 15 years ago by my right hon. Friend and predecessor, the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery). That Act expires on the last day of May of this year. Despite the celebrated economic blizzard which overwhelmed us a few years ago, and, among other things, crushed almost every bit of activity which was going on under that Act, certain migration schemes survived. Those schemes have been in operation ever since; they are still being operated and are developing to-day. Right through the period the Government have supported those schemes financially, and they are supporting them to-day. They are such schemes as the 1820 Settler's scheme, under which young men go to take up farming in South Africa; such schemes as the Barnardo Home arrangement, by which children go out to Australia and become good Australians; schemes also like the Fairbridge Farm School scheme, by which boys and girls go to Australia, and now to Canada, with every prospect of satisfactory settlement and good careers in those countries.

Mr. Maxton

Were the schemes referred to initiated by the Empire Settlement Act —the Barnardo scheme and the 1820 scheme?

Mr. MacDonald

The only point I am making is that those schemes have been and are still to-day assisted under the Empire Settlement Act by the Government, and unless we can amend the Act to continue its operation beyond the last day of May of this year, it will be impossible for the Government to continue that financial assistance. The Government wish to continue that assistance, and therefore the first Amendment which we have in mind to make in the Act would be to continue its operation beyond the end of May, 1937, for another 15 years. That is the first reason why we have moved this Financial Resolution. But there are other reasons still. When we considered it desirable to suggest an Amendment of that nature in the Act we naturally examined the provisions of the Act to see whether there were any other Amendments which present conditions would make desirable. I would like to make this point at this moment: The fact that we are proposing amending legislation is not a signal that the United Kingdom Government proposes of its own initiative and by its own action to start immediately again pumping more migrants into the Dominions. This is a question on which other Governments besides the Government of this country have a say; it is a question on which the Dominion Governments must have a say also.

A policy of Empire migration must be a policy in which Dominion Governments and this Government co-operate fully as partners. Therefore, as I say, the fact that we propose amending legislation now does not mean that we are contemplating unilateral action by ourselves. We know that there are economic difficulties and possibly other difficulties in the Dominions. We understand those difficulties. It is true that there are other circumstances and that in many parts of the Dominions the problem of unemployment has not yet been reduced to what might be called normal again after the depression. We must wait on conditions in the Dominions; we must wait on opinion in the Dominions. We may have our preparations ready here, but it is for the Dominions to say the word "Go!" I hope the day is perhaps not far distant when we can make some beginning again in co-operation with Dominion authorities to expand above the present volume of the movement of migration. I have always maintained, and it is the policy of the Government, that we should not wait until that day arrives before we begin to think about this problem, that we should not wait until that day arrives before we begin to prepare our plans. We should use this period of lull to do some further thinking, to do what planning may be necessary, so that we are ready, when the opportunity comes, to seize it and take advantage of it at once.

Therefore, the policy of the Government has been to make the plans, to get the plans ready. The examination of the problem by the Inter-Departmental Committee and the report which it made two years ago are part of that process of preparation. The appointment of the Overseas Settlement Board a year ago was another step in that process, and the amending legislation which we have in mind is a further step in the process of getting ready for a resumption of migration on a larger scale when conditions in the Dominions will permit it. Then we came towards the period when the Empire Settlement Act was to expire. We therefore considered what other Amendments might be necessary besides a mere Amendment extending the life of the Act. I asked the Overseas Settlement Board to examine the question. They have examined it. They have made certain recommendations to me and the proposals which we have in mind are based on the recommendations of the Board.

Let me say a few words about the other two Amendments which we have in mind. They are both referred to in the terms of the Resolution. The first of them is this: At present under the Act the maximum aggregate sum which the United Kingdom Government can expend in any one year on migration schemes is £3,000,000. We have it in mind to reduce that maximum to £1,500,000 in any one year, and the reason for that is explained in the Memorandum which was issued in connection with the Resolution. The reduction of the figure by one-half does not mean that the Government are now only half as enthusiastic as they were about migration. It does not mean that the Government, who previously were whole-hearted, are now half-hearted. I am still one who believes that a movement of migration to a judicious extent is going to be a very great need of the Empire before much more time has passed. The explanation of these reductions is something different.

Mr. Maxton

What is "judicious?"

Mr. MacDonald

I am not sure whether I would be in order if I started to explain that. I must stick closely to the Amendments which we contemplate in the Empire Settlement Act. The reason for the reduction in the maximum figure which the Government can expend in any one year is this: When the figure of £3,000,000 was put into the Act 15 years ago, no one knew quite how it was going to work out; but since then we have had a great deal of experience. The Overseas Settlement Board has been examining that experience and the Government have been examining it; we have been looking at the facts. For instance, the years 1926, 1927 and 1928 were the peak years of migration, the years which migration enthusiasts hold up to us as models now. In 1926, 132,000 people left this country to settle in the Dominions, of whom 66,000 were assisted emigrants; in 1927, 123,000 people left this country to settle in the Dominions, of whom 61,000 were assisted emigrants; and in 1928 the figures were respectively 109,000 and 48,000. Those were the peak figures of migration during the period when there was a considerable movement of migration in the 10 years after the war. What was the actual expenditure of the Government during those years, which were the best years that we had? In 1926 it amounted to £1,129,000, in 1927 to £1.282,000, and in 1928 to £1,139,000. Therefore, the figure which we would propose to put into the amending Act conforms much more closely with realities, with experience, with prospects, and yet at the same time, according to that experience, allows a reasonable margin over and above the actual figures which we have experienced in the past. That is the reason why we would contemplate the second of the amendments which are referred to in the Resolution.

I am well aware that there are some Members of the Committee, who have given a great deal of study to this question for a great many years and to whose views we all listen with care and with respect, who would urge that, even when the conditions are favourable, we shall not be able to stimulate migration adequately unless we are ready to spend large sums of money on great schemes of development and land settlement; and those hon. Members will perhaps frown at this reduced provision and say that it cannot possibly allow of great expenditure on schemes of that nature. I confess that I still do not share their faith in those large schemes of land settlement. Land settlement schemes generally only made a tiny contribution—something like 3 per cent. I think it was—to the great movement of migration which took place in the 10 years after the War, and I believe that that will be our experience also in the years which are ahead. Nevertheless, I would like to assure those hon. Members that the Government have not a completely closed mind on this question. The Overseas Settlement Board are free to examine all schemes for development or for land settlement, they are free to recommend any of those schemes to the Government, and the Government will consider those schemes strictly on their merits; and if the Government, having examined a scheme recommended to them, find that that scheme is in their view desirable and wish to participate in the scheme, and if they find that the new provision which we propose under the amending Act is inadequate to allow them to do so, then I can give an undertaking that the Government would introduce amending legislation at the earliest convenient moment in order that they might have the funds to finance their share of the scheme. But for the reason which I have given, the reason of practical experience, we propose, so far as these Amendments of the Act are concerned, to reduce the maximum figure from £3,000,000 a year to £1,500,000 a year.

With regard to the other Amendment which we have it in mind to introduce, in the present Act the maximum percentage grant which the Government can give to any migration scheme is a 50 per cent. grant, and we propose to introduce an Amendment enabling the Government in certain cases to increase that grant from 50 per cent. to 75 per cent. For instance, in many schemes the Government's partner is a voluntary society, and voluntary societies are essential in any humane policy of assisted migration. The help and advice which these societies have given to intending migrants, the help which they have given sometimes on the passage, the reception which they have given to newcomers in the countries overseas, and, above all perhaps, their aftercare work, have been a great boon to tens of thousands of British men and women who have left the Old Country in order to establish new homes in the young countries of the Empire. The experience of migration is that often it is still a rather uncertain adventure; there are, unfortunately, casualties to be recorded; but the voluntary societies have saved the new generation of pioneers many of the harshest experiences which afflicted the old generation. Those societies have performed a very great service to countless individuals and to the Empire as a whole. But it was inevitable in the recent past that the sources from which those voluntary societies used to draw their funds for migration work have tended somewhat to dry up, and the power of these societies to give their invaluable help to migrants has, therefore, tended to be limited; and yet these societies are essential agents in any proper policy of migration. Therefore, we propose so to alter the Act that the Government in future, in the case of an efficient society, can give up to a 75 per cent. grant for its migration work.

Then there is the other case of the schemes in which the Government's partner, or one of the Government's partners, is the Government of one of the Dominions. In those cases we would not propose to alter the terms of the Act at all; we would propose still to limit the grant which this Government can give towards such schemes to a 50 per cent. grant. Sometimes it is suggested that in those cases also the United Kingdom Government ought to be able to give a bigger grant. It is sometimes urged upon me that I should be bold and persuasive, and should persuade the powers that be in the Treasury to allow the United Kingdom Government to give a 100 per cent. grant in those cases; and there are some schemes which are being canvassed which are based on the assumption that the United Kingdom Government will give a 100 per cent. grant. I believe that the adoption of that principle would be very bad from the point of view of migration itself. I believe that the practical result of this Government adopting that policy would be something like this, that criticism, suspicion and hostility against migration would be encouraged in the Dominions, that people in the Dominions would say, "Our Dominion Government are not spending a penny on bringing these settlers out to this country; obviously they do not think that this country is getting any benefit from this migration. It is the United Kingdom Government which is footing the whole bill, paying every penny of the expense, giving 100 per cent. grants. Clearly it is the United Kingdom which is getting all the benefit of this movement. The United Kingdom Government is getting rid of its surplus population; it is dumping its unemployed and its unemployables on us in the Dominions; it is getting rid of the people whom it wants to get rid of at any cost." That kind of impression, that migration is simply a device to help the United Kingdom out of some of its difficulties, has done great harm to the migration movement in the Dominions in the past; it is unfair to the new settlers; it is unfair to migration generally; and yet I believe that this damaging impression would grow very swiftly if we were to accept the principle and the practice of this Government paying the whole of the expenditure while the partner Government in the Dominion concerned pays no expenses at all.

Brigadier-General Sir Henry Croft

May I interrupt the right hon. Gentleman for a moment? In case he is referring to the scheme in which some of us are interested, may I say that a very great contribution is made from the Dominions by way of grants of free land, assistance in the matter of local taxation, and so on?

Mr. MacDonald

As a matter of fact, I was not at the moment thinking of the particular scheme to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers, but there are other schemes which try to assume that this principle is practical politics, and, of course, I should be quite willing that the sort of matters which my hon. and gallant Friend has mentioned should be taken into account. Of course, however, on the other side, there are various expenses to which this country has been put, in educating and training migrants, which should also come into the scale if these matters are to be considered. I only want to make the point that a sound migration policy, when conditions are favourable, is a thing which benefits both the receiving country to which the migrant goes and the mother country which he leaves. The Dominions gain new citizens, who, be it remembered, are specially selected, and who are capable of giving a hand in the building up of the new country. The mother country, on the other hand, in the long run gains by the development of these young countries, which are steadily adding to the strength and authority of the Empire of which this country is the centre. Both benefit, and a proper migration policy should be one in which both Governments co-operate as full partners. That seems to me to be the cardinal principle of a sound policy, and I think it would be disastrous if we gave away the principle that the contribution of this Government in those cases should not be more than 50 per cent.

Those are the principles upon which we should seek to amend the Act. We propose to introduce this legislation at this moment partly because, if we do not do something, the existing Act will come to an end completely next May, and partly because we want to have our plans ready for the day when migration can start again. By introducing, and I hope passing, legislation, we are not seeking by an act of our own to release a great flood of migration again. Our action would have to be supplemented by Dominion action. It is for the Dominions themselves to decide when the time and the conditions are ripe for that supplementary action by them. I hope and believe that the time is not far distant when we can make a beginning. On the question of migration generally there is a great deal that can be said both from the point of view of the population needs of the Dominions and also of this country, but I think that discussion on the general question and the prospects would far more appropriately take place on the Second Reading of the Bill which I hope to get leave to introduce, and I have confined myself strictly to the actual Amendments that we have in mind and an explanation of the reasons for those Amendments. I believe that the beginning of a greater migration movement is going to be a need of the Empire as a whole in the not very distant future and, as a step towards achieving that desirable object, I hope the Committee will accept this Money Resolution.

4.34 p.m.

Mr. Lunn

This Resolution is to be the financial basis of a new Empire Settlement Bill. I think I have rarely heard a Minister put forward a case in which he showed so little faith. I agree with a good deal of what he has said. He has said, in a great many more words, what the late Secretary of State used to say in very few, that until we could see the prospects of a livelihood for those who go to the Dominions, he was not prepared to encourage migration. The right hon. Gentleman has said he is a believer in judicious migration. Perhaps he will explain on the Second Reading what he means by a judicious system of migration. He has told us that there is no prospect whatever of any immediate migration to the Dominions, and I agree entirely with him. In fact, I think it is largely a waste of our time to be discussing the subject at this moment. The Empire Settlement Act terminates on 31st May next, and my own view is that it would have been far better if we could have got through the Imperial Conference and then discussed the possibilities of migration when he knew how far the Governments of the Dominions were going to co-operate. The right hon. Gentleman has said very definitely that there must be co-operation, and we ought to know what is in the mind of the Governments of the Dominions and of the Mother country before we settle it completely.

Further, the right hon. Gentleman shows that he has lost faith in the possibilities of migration when he says in the Resolution that, instead of some £3,000,000, we shall only have up to £1,500,000 during the next 15 years. I remember the Empire Settlement Act, 1922, and I remember the enthusiasm of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery), who at that time believed that £3,000,000 would be totally inadequate for what we should need for assisted migration in the 15 years to follow. We have seen that since that time there has never been a year in which we have spent more than £1,500,000. But, if there are going to be developments and schemes in the future, why not retain the £3,000,000 for the purpose of taking advantage of schemes during that period if they arise? I think the right hon. Gentleman will find a great deal of criticism in the House upon that point of halving the figure. In the Act of 1922 it is laid down that on all schemes, whether with a Government or with a private company or a voluntary society, should be on a fifty-fifty basis. That means that we should provide half the cost of all assisted schemes and that the other side, by the provision either of money or farms or land or other services, should provide the other half. That has operated for the last 15 years. The right hon. Gentleman now proposes to depart from that, and he suggests that we should increase the amount in certain cases to 75 per cent. In fact he has not shown much opposition even to going to 100 per cent. in certain cases. I wish the United Kingdom were in the Empire for the purposes of the Bill, because we have plenty of land and large numbers of unemployed, and we could settle our own people in our own country. I think that would be much better than taking this line.

I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has given us sufficient explanation of this increase to 75 per cent. I shall want to know a great deal more about what is intended to be done with it. I am satisfied that the best schemes of assisted migration have been those between this Government and the Governments overseas. I am satisfied that you must have Government regulation and co-operation if you are to have successful migration. Whenever it starts again it must be understood that there will have to be co-operation between the Governments. The right hon. Gentleman stops at 1928. He did not give us the position since that time. I agree that it has been a very sad one with regard to migration, and with regard to the economic conditions not only in this country but in the Dominions. Since 1930 scores of thousands more have come back than have left the country. That means that there are scores of thousands there who would be anxious to come back.

Mr. Beverley Baxter

Does the hon. Gentleman say that scores of thousands more came back than went out?

Mr. Lunn

Since 1930 scores of thousands more have come back to the United Kingdom than have left our shores for the Dominions. That is what I said and that is what I mean, and there is no prospect at all of any migration to any of the Dominions at present. There is a large amount of unemployment in each of the Dominions to-day. There is no statesman in any of the Dominions who supports the idea of migration at this moment. There is no Labour organisation and no trade union which will welcome migrants in the Dominions. The Prime Minister of New Zealand the other day said: If people come here from Great Britain, jobs for them must come with them. That is the attitude of all the Dominions. I wish conditions were better than they are and I wish there were the opportunities. I have always been satisfied, since I took up this question, that there are many people who, if there were an opportunity of a livelihood and decent conditions, would be willing to go overseas, but I know that conditions are such that there is no possibility of anyone going and finding the prospects as bright as they are at home. We must be careful not to let it be understood that we desire to shovel our people overseas, and I think there must be a real guarantee of a proper livelihood for those who go. Then I have no objection, if there is full and complete publicity as to conditions overseas, to people, who desire to go on their own, taking the step. We have not had much information from the right hon. Gentleman. The White Paper is very vague indeed upon these proposals. I know that the Overseas Settlement Board has a difficult job with economic conditions as they are here and overseas, but they say in their interim report that the United Kingdom Government should not in any circumstances contribute more than an equitable share. Why do they recommend that we should spend 75 per cent. and ask only 25 per cent., I take it, from voluntary organisations or private companies in the Dominions? I cannot understand why they should make this recommendation, which is accepted by the Secretary of State. I may be wrong but the purpose of this increase as I see it is very objectionable. With Government co-operation it is to be only fifty-fifty, but with voluntary organisation, I suppose that it is to be up to 75 per cent.

Migration, in my view, can be successful only if it is subject to arrangement between the Government of our own country and Governments overseas. We are dealing with human beings and with human feelings in this question of migration, and we should take every factor into consideration when dealing with migrants, and not simply be concerned with getting them out of this country. There should be publicity given to the conditions so that we may know where we are sending our people and the conditions under which they are to live. We are not living in pre-War days, and cannot take the steps that were taken in those days. We all know the hardships and suffering that many migrants underwent in those days, and I hope that such conditions will never be repeated.

I hope that when we get the Bill, which the right hon. Gentleman will have to introduce if this Resolution is passed, he will tell us more of the intentions of the Government with regard to migration. I have no desire on this occasion to go into the report of the Inter-Departmental Committee which sat two years ago, except to say that I want the doubts as to the intention of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the 75 per cent. cleared up. That Inter-Departmental Committee, which was presided over by the right hon. Gentleman, recommended the restarting of child migration to Canada. I hope that it may never be restarted. We had child migration to Canada for many years up to 1924, when a delegation went out to Canada, and, as a result of their report, the migration of children under school-leaving age was closed entirely, both the Government of the United Kingdom and the Canadian Government agreeing that it should cease. I do not say that every child that went to Canada was made the subject of cheap labour, but there was a good number of cases personally investigated by the delegation, cases in which the children were found to be little drudges. I have spent a good many years in fighting mui-tsai in Hong Kong, and I do not want to see anything resembling it established in any British Dominion.

I hope that we shall be told very plainly by the right hon. Gentleman whether or not it is intended to restart child migration to Canada, or to seek from the Canadian Government their approval for the restarting of the system. I hope that our Government will never approve of it, and that the Canadian Government will not take steps with the object of restarting it. I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that he will meet with the bitterest opposition if that is to be one of the things recommended. I would prefer that our people should be settled at home, but if they wish to go to the Dominions, it must be with the co-operation of the Governments overseas. People should not be left in the hands of voluntary societies, however estimable they may be. We must have regard to the fate of these people when they go overseas. If we allow this Resolution to go through, we do not promise that the Bill will be allowed to do so without opposition, unless we have a very clear statement from the right hon. Gentleman upon the main points which I have mentioned. When he introduces his Bill, he must tell us the Government's policy on migration. It is not for the Board to tell us what the Government's policy shall be, but for the Government themselves and the Minister. If the Minister does not do so clearly and distinctly, I promise him that he will have opposition to the Bill when he brings it forward for a Second Reading.

4.51 p.m.

Sir H. Croft

I am aware that many Members desire to speak, and that the proceedings are to end early, so that there may be an important Debate later in the evening. Therefore, I propose to detain the Committee for only a few minutes. I must enter a caveat with regard to one or two remarks which fell from the lips of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn), because I think that he is probably under a misapprehension when he suggests that the Prime Ministers of all the Dominions have indicated that they are opposed to the reopening of migration. I have watched this subject very closely, and I believe that I am right in saying that, possibly with the exception of South Africa, where there have been neither negative nor positive statements with regard to British migrants, every Prime Minister has shown a readiness to consider the reopening of the question in the near future. That is my impression. I think it is also true of practically every provincial Prime Minister in Canada. Some of them have most urgently advocated that the best way of restarting recovery in Canada would be to see a reflow of migration, which in itself would start new jobs going.

There was one other remark which the hon. Member made, with regard to the 75 per cent. contribution, to which I understand the Secretary of State, if necessary, is prepared to go. For my part, and in the opinion of those friends who have worked with me on this subject for some years, we most cordially welcome this enlightened display. Where the hon. Gentleman who spoke for the Socialist party was under a slight misapprehension was that he was thinking solely of schemes of migration. As far as I understand it, it is the desire of the Government to show readiness for ordinary infiltration in respect of 75 per cent., and that thereafter it is a question for consideration in regard to these schemes. I think it is in the transit of the migrants, where the principle is advocated, that we should not stick literally to 50–50, but should go up to 75 per cent. I am absolutely convinced that it is to our advantage, in these next 10 years particularly, to give opportunities to men who desire to migrate, to get to the Dominions under the easiest possible terms. If it is what it is called infiltration when they have relations out there ready to give them a job, the Dominions may not see the perfect advantage, as the hon. Gentleman does, but, at the same time, there can be no doubt whatever that it is going to be an advantage which this country will find remunerative, certainly within three years of the time the migrants leave. Therefore, I think that the right hon. Gentleman will find that there is no difficulty in getting support from the vast majority of the Committee for the 75 per cent. basis. We made a mistake in days gone by in trying to make a rigid bargain of 50–50. Generally speaking, most of those who have their heart in this great question of migration, which is greater than party politics altogether, desire to give to men the dignity of labour, of which they have been deprived for many years, and will give support to the right hon. Gentleman on that point.

I am distressed that the proposal has been made—and I understand that it emanates from the Dominions Office itself—that the figure should be limited to £1,500,000. After all, the figure before the depression came along was the worthy one of £3,000,000 sterling, and was accepted by all parties in this House. Everybody knows that if the money is not expended, it goes back into the pot, and nobody suffers. For the life of me I cannot understand why the National Government, which, I believe, desires to build up the British Empire by helping to redistribute its population, should display its wares by announcing that it has cut down this possible grant, to which even the Opposition agreed very readily in the past, by one half. I know that if one was to resist this proposal to-day, he could only vote against the whole sum, and that would be ludicrous. But I ask the right hon. Gentleman seriously to consider whether there cannot be some more easy method of expansion, if necessary, than that which he indicates. When he says, "Oh, yes, if there is some big scheme to set going, we will come down to the House of Commons for legislation," we all know what that means. He may come down with the best will in the world, but he will find his colleagues so occupied with the problems of Geneva and with settling the affairs of the world, that they will not have time to settle this question, and it will be delayed until another Session.

I hope that something will be done when the Bill comes before the House so that there will be some easier proceeding than that which has been indicated, by which the amount can be expended if necessary. I fully realise that very likely we should not expend that sum. Suppose that the Government are converted and get out of the rhythmic lethargy which has beset authorities with regard to migration all these years, and decide to try out a really big scheme, it might conceivably be that for one or two years, in order to get the scheme going, it would be necessary to increase the amount. If my right hon. Friend could get His Majesty's Government as a whole interested in the question, we might rest satisfied that they would put such a scheme through if necessary. I ask my right hon. Friend to realise that those of us who have pressed for big schemes have done so because infiltration has come to a complete cessation. Otherwise, we would not have worried very much. It is because of that cessation that we have urged some really big plans in this direction.

It may be that my right hon. Friend may say that such a scheme as I and some of my hon. Friends have advocated for some time, is too big altogether. The State is not asked to pay £50,000,000 of money. It is asked to give credit facilities to some big corporation. Why not contemplate some real scheme of settlement whereby some corporation will see settlers right through, instead of making arrangements between two Governments whereby some men may be put upon land which is undesirable and left to their fate? The success of settlement of this kind, which in the long run will give real hope to settlers, is the determination to see it through, and, if the thing is a failure, to bring the men home again.

It is deplorable that we do not get a move on. When a majority of this House supported a Motion which I tabled three years ago, we thought that His Majesty's Government would realise that it was a widespread feeling. The Secretary of State for the Dominions at that time told us to come back in eight or NI years. He said, "Things are so bad that we really cannot get on with the business. The Dominions will not have it." The Dominions were never asked, and I am convinced that the time to plan and get ahead with all these schemes is before full prosperity has returned. If my right hon. Friend had really explored all these avenues he would have found that, if there was a real scheme whereby the Dominions were to have proved to them that the migrants were not going to be a charge upon the Dominions themselves, and that corporations in this country, backed up by Government credit, would see them through, there was not a single Dominion which would not have welcomed some initial attempt in that direction.

I know that my right hon. Friend's heart is in the right place on this subject and that he appreciates as much as anyone that we do desire to see a move once more to the Dominions. I beg of him not to allow thoughts of the past to deter him, but to strike out a line for himself. He has a wonderful opportunity to prove that he is a man of great imagination. If he carried through one or two experimental schemes, not on a vast but even on a small scale, of the kind that we have indicated, I believe that his name would go down in history as a man who carried out some big pioneering work for the British Empire.

5.1 p.m.

Mr. Baxter

I share with my hon. and gallant Friend very great personal disappointment at the speech which the Secretary of State has made. I think this is the first full-dress speech since he was made Secretary of State for the Dominions, and on such an occasion he chooses as his theme that this House shall consent to the cutting down by 50 per cent. of the sum formerly allocated to assist migration to the Dominions. What is his fear? Is it that we may spend the £3,000,000? If it were possible to spend £3,000,000, then to-day he ought to be suggesting twice that amount and not one half of it. His speech is a message that is deterrent, a warning, that the migration movement may spread, and therefore he warns everybody connected with it. He says, in effect, "Do not let the movement spread, because we are setting a limit upon it."

It is a most unhappy thing that the right hon. Gentleman has done to-day, and it is not pleasant for those of us who support the Government to find ourselves so completely in disagreement with the spirit of something that they are doing. The second Amendment will carry automatically with us, not only in the Lobby but in our hearts, but I can find no means of opposing the first Amendment, otherwise I would willingly go into the Lobby against the Government. I find in the remarks of the hon. Member for the Rothwell Division (Mr. Lunn) the same lack of the spirit of imagination which, I say with respect, as a new Member, characterises the entire House. One has only to compare the empty benches now with the scene that will take place at seven o'clock to-night when we begin to discuss the affairs of another country—Spain. The blame which I offer applies to all parties. Until recently the Liberal bench was empty, but now two stalwarts have arrived. In our own party and on the Opposition side the very thought of Empire seems to chill all enthusiasm. The hon. Member for Rothwell wants to make certain that no one who goes to the Dominions will have to undergo undue hardship.

Mr. Lunn

In assisted schemes.

Mr. Baxter

I agree that we want to reduce hardship and to give to everybody who goes to the Dominions a reasonable chance, but which is best, to go out to one of the Dominions, say, to Canada, and to struggle, with hope, or to walk the streets of South Wales, without hope? Where is character born? Not by the hopeless day after day looking for employment which does not exist in our distressed areas, but by going out to the Dominions and battling with the wind, the snow, and the rain. Those are the things which make character. Those are the things which, in conflict with them, produce character for yourself and your children. The hon. Member for Rothwell said that there was no Dominion in favour of migration at the present time. Mr. Bennett, who was Prime Minister of Canada until recently, sailed the other day from this country, after a tour of the Empire, and his words were these: The urgent need of the Empire at this hour is emigration. I talked with him last year, and also with many Ministers from the Dominions, and they repeated categorically the same words that were voiced by Mr. Bennett. I urge the right hon. Gentleman not to believe that the Dominions do not want emigration.

Mr. Lunn

Mr. Bennett is the ex-Prime Minister. I would advise the hon. Member to consult Mr. Mackenzie King, the present Prime Minister of Canada. I spoke to him when he was over here in the last few weeks.

Mr. Baxter

The hon. Member referred to Dominion Prime Ministers or responsible statesmen. He will not deny that Mr. Bennett is a responsible statesman. Where we are going wrong on this subject is that the Secretary of State comes here with a discouraging and heart-breaking reduction of an inconsiderable and unimportant sum in relation to the whole problem. We can have emigration on a proper scale only when we create opportunities for employment. When the opportunity for employment is made the demand for man-power is automatic. What we must do is to bring the great industrialists of the Empire together. We must say to the leaders of the textile industry here: "As leaders of the parent industry you must get into touch with your industry in Canada, in Australia, and South Africa, and you must use in the development of the Empire the same common sense and shrewdness that you use in your own business. You have sources of supply of raw materials, and markets. How much can you manufacture, say, in Canada by working along with your industry there? If you will do that, then your industry must be made responsible for the migration of 10,000, 20,000 or 50,000 workers, or whatever the number may be, and the Government must be certain that the markets are established for the goods when they are made." The problem is not so very difficult or too vast. We know what Australia produces, and we know what we can consume. Once we have entered into a deal we must make sure that it is fair on both sides. The British Government has probably shown more fairness than the Dominions. As one who comes from the Dominions I am sorry to have to admit that fact. These deals can be made and they can be done on a vast scale.

I say in all sincerity that unless we can organise and populate our Dominions and Colonies we have no right to hold the amount of the earth's surface that we do to-day. There is a danger that the time may come when our wrong way of holding these undeveloped areas will come as a crushing blow to us and may be the beginning of the disintegration of this country. I would urge the Opposition, as I would urge my own colleagues on this side, not to treat this subject as a small thing. Time is passing. We have had this opportunity now for some generations. If we go on concentrating our minds purely on Europe, emptying the House whenever the Empire is mentioned, and emptying the Front Bench, we may be preparing ourselves for a future in which our children and their children will call us to account when they look back.

5.12 p.m.

Sir Percy Harris

I should like to support the appeal just made by the hon. Member opposite, who, I understand, has been associated with Canada. For two or three generations my family has been associated with the Dominion of New Zealand. My grandfather on my mother's side was one of the earliest settlers there, and my son, I will not say unfortunately, is an emigrant. Therefore, I have connections at both ends. We all know what a difficult and delicate problem this is. It is not a matter for this country alone. It is a question of partnership, co-operation and understanding. The right hon. Gentleman was perfectly right when he said that the Dominions are very sensitive about our dumping people that we want to get rid of. There is a suspicion, a wrong suspicion, that we do not send our best out to the Dominions, but rather our failures. The Dominions, the Colonies as they used to be called, were built up by the courage, the initiative and the spirit of adventure of our people.

Mr. A. Bevan

And by criminals.

Sir P. Harris

That was only a very small section. They were built up by the enterprise and the courage of our forefathers. I admit that there was the bar sinister, but that did not build up Australia, Canada or New Zealand. The Dominion with which I have connections and the Dominion of Canada, with which the hon. Member opposite is associated, were free from that taint; but let the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) remember that in those days, under bad laws, many fine citizens, many fine men and women, were sent out to Australia, although designated criminals.

Mr. Bevan

Most of them were driven out from this country.

Sir P. Harris

Driven out, and very often they were not of the criminal class but were regarded as such because our laws were so severe.

Mr. Bevan

When I used the word "criminals," I did not mean to suggest that we sent out criminals. We sent out very good men.

Sir P. Harris

We must not forget that the Dominions have been built up by the spirit of adventure; and it is the duty of the Government to see that this spirit of adventure is not handicapped by want of means; that the men who want to go out and seek their fortunes in other parts of the world are not prevented from doing so by lack of means. I am glad the Secretary of State is going to use the excellent organisations which have done so much in recent years by increasing the percentage grant. I quite accept the policy of equal partnership. It is right that the Governments of the Dominions should show their good faith and their desire to have the people who are going to be sent out by standing in close partnership with ourselves. On the other hand, I am sorry that the total sum is limited. I agree that it is not likely to be spent, but it would be a pity that the impression should go out that we are losing heart and faith in the possibility of making use of the vast territories which are crying out for development. There is a good deal of jealousy and suspicion on the Continent and in other foreign countries, which is justified so long as we are not utilising this vast and magnificent heritage.

There was a time when emigrants were welcomed, but in the present time of serious economic problems which Australia, New Zealand and Canada have had to face, they have had to put very severe restrictions on emigrants, which, however, apply much less to the people of this country than to those of foreign countries. Let us show that we appreciate this to the extent that we are not going to limit our liabilities by reducing the total sum we are prepared to find when a case is made out. That the money will not be badly spent is assured by the fact that 50 per cent. is to be found by the Dominion which receives the immigrants. As we shall have another opportunity on which to discuss this problem I will reserve any further remarks for that occasion.

5.19 p.m.

Mr. Annesley Somerville

The two papers which are immediately relevant to our discussion are the interim report of the Overseas Settlement Board and the memorandum on the Financial Resolution. The interim report is a very interesting document. It shows glimpses that the committee do realise the possibilities of large developments, and that then they seem to be afraid of themselves. They recommend raising the percentage grant to 75 per cent. of the expenditure on certain occasions, and then they miserably proceed to suggest that the recommendation of £3,000,000 a year provided by the 1922 Act should be reduced to £1,500,000. Then they seem to repent, and in the next paragraph say that the expenditure might reach £3,000,000, or even more. Let me urge this consideration upon the Secretary of State. His own committee has had before it the possibility of an expenditure reaching £3,000,000 or more, but in the Financial Resolution no power is given to the Secretary of State to increase the £1,500,000. I would urge him to amend the Resolution in order that he might have power to increase the grant.

The hon. Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn) made a speech which I have heard him make two or three times before, and if he is expressing the policy of his party then I can only describe it as the policy of the muck-rake. They keep their eyes upon the ground when they should look up and see the enormous possibilities of development in the Empire. In that case they would be only too anxious to support a policy which presses for a large-scale development of the Empire. The hon. Member committed himself to the statement that all the Dominions were opposed to emigration at the present time. Has he read the resolution which was passed by the Saskatchewan Legislature on the 27th February last year? It was to this effect: That this Assembly is of the opinion that the time has now come when the Canadian Government should get in touch with His Majesty's Government of Great Britain with a view to putting forward a scheme for the voluntary redistribution of the white peoples of the Empire and thereby creating a stimulation of shipping and trade under the flag. That resolution was passed by 42 votes against five in a House of 55.

Mr. Lunn

I have the whole of the speeches made in the Legislature in Saskatchewan, and if the hon. Member will read the speech of the Leader of the Opposition he will find that the Legislature in Saskatchewan was not so united on the question.

Mr. Somerville

The resolution was passed by 42 votes to five, and there is no getting away from that fact. Mr. Bennett, the Leader of the Conservative party in Canada, has recently been travelling through the Empire, and has said that nothing struck him more than the danger in which the Dominions stood, and that they cannot hope indefinitely to keep their great spaces empty. A German writer who has been travelling in Canada says that while it may be considered that these spaces belong to the Dominions, nothing in this world can be considered certain. That is said frequently in Germany, and it is for the Government and the Governments of the Dominions to get together and draw up schemes which will meet this danger. It is not merely a question of migration or of employment, it is a question of the development of the Empire.

The Prime Minister of Australia has recently introduced the subject, and the Prime Minister of South Australia has been in conference with Sir Percy Everett, who is on the executive of the Boy Scouts, with reference to recommencing migration of Boy Scouts, one of the best forms of migration. In Queensland the New Settlers' League has been discussing the subject, and in New Zealand the Settlement Association has been meeting. The chairman of this association said that this question is not, as many people might think, an academic question but a question of life and death and citizenship under the British flag. In 1935 a conference was summoned by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, at which many bodies interested in migration were represented. A strong resolution in favour of migration was passed, and a delegation sent to the predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman. We have had many assurances, but time has been lost and is being lost. Surely the British Empire is big enough not to wait upon circumstances but to compel them. It may be that we are dreamers, but Sir Robert Hadfield is not a dreamer. He is one of the most practical men of business in the country, and in his book, published about a year ago, on Empire development, he reminds us that an Imperial Commission considered the question of Empire development from 1912 to 1917. That Commission was the result of the Imperial Conference of 1911, and the most important recommendation of the Commission was that an Empire Development Board should be set up. We have been asking for this for years. Sir Robert Hadfield says: The British Empire has vast resources and opportunities not yet utilised but no body or organisation charged with their systematic exploration and with the helping on of their development. The activities of a nonpolitical non-fiscal Empire Development Board would benefit every citizen of the Empire by bringing about additional employment, building up fresh wealth, and improving conditions in all parts of the Empire. The magnitude of the task is simply the measure of our opportunity. If we do not arrive at the best basis in the first instance let us at least make a start. With regard to the board he says: The complete organisation should be fully representative of all parts of the Empire, with a permanent organisation and secretariat in each country and a main board travelling frequently to all parts of the Empire. That is what a practical man of business and of wide outlook says as to the way in which we should regard this great question. The hon. Member for Rothwell said that if we want to get jobs in the Empire for other people we must take the jobs with us. That is exactly what Sir Robert Hadfield recommends. We do not want to dump our unemployed on the Empire; we want to develop the Empire so that there will be work for all the workless for generations to come. And who will say that this Empire does not possess the resources and possibilities to accomplish such an achievement? If we are in any doubt as to the kind of objects to be aimed at, we find some enumerated in this book. There is, for example, Improving methods of transport by helping on the construction of railways, tramways, roads and canals. One of the chief obstacles to the development of Australia is the continual need for changing trains owing to different railway gauges. The unification of railway gauges throughout Australia is an object for which British capital might well be used, and on which thousands of men might be employed. Further objects are: Assisting in plans for the construction and equipment of harbours, docks and aerodromes, in conjunction with plans for improved services from and to all parts; Development of schemes for dams, irrigation and drainage; Co-ordination of power generation, transmission and utilisation projects for both hydroelectric and thermal power stations; Assisting in the establishment of new industries, with special reference to the above developments; Co-operation in the opening of new districts for farming; Co-ordination from the Empire development standpoint of works of afforestation and the utilisation of timber and timber product. Those are some of the schemes that might be started by the Development Board. I put it to the hon. Member for Rothwell, who did not think it worth while to employ the workless in such schemes, that they would produce wealth and a greater flow of citizens between this country and the Dominions. Would not those projects be well worth while? Sir Robert Hadfield goes on to say that The first effect of the establishment of an Empire Development Board would be a rapid increase in employment, with a demand for trained engineers of all kinds and other professional men, as well as skilled and unskilled manual workers, in all parts of the Empire. There are very many things I would like to say, but I do not wish to trespass upon the time of other hon. Members. I look upon the matter in the following way: Here is the British Empire, which stands for justice and freedom—that is why it does stand. I would make a great company and call it "British Dominions Unlimited"; the board of that company would be the Empire Development Board and its object would be to develop the resources of the Empire. I want the Secretary of State to look out and look up, to see what are the possibilities, to take advantage of the great opportunities at the Imperial Conference, and to have as the keynote of his policy not "I dare not," but "I will."

5.35 p.m.

Mr. Bevan

When this subject was last discussed in the House, I said a word or two about the opinions expressd by hon. Members opposite. After listening to the whole of this Debate, I am sorry to note that, as usual, hon. Members have disregarded what I said. I had hoped to hear from hon. Members opposite some argument justifying the speeches they had made, but I am bound to say that the House has surpassed itself this evening in the sententiousness, the meaninglessness and the platitudinousness of the speeches delivered by hon. Members. Not a single argument has been advanced by any hon. Member opposite to justify the moth-eaten generalisations they have trotted out. The hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. A. Somerville) read long quotations from a book written by a very hard-headed English business man. I have rarely found anyone so sentimental as a hard-headed business man when he steps out of his business, and I trust his generalisations much less than those of anybody else.

Mr. A. Somerville

May I point out that the gentleman in question is a famous engineer and that he recommends, among other things, engineering schemes?

Mr. Bevan

He was talking about emigration as a policy and not about engineering, and I distrust his generalisations quite as much as I distrust the generalisations of hon. Members opposite. Some time ago the late Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs made at Geneva a speech which hon. Members opposite ought to read, for it won the Genera, Election for them. They should read that speech and find out what the right hon. Gentleman said about the British Empire. He suggested that if the complaint of other nations, such as Germany, Italy and Japan, was that Imperial possessions were denied to them and that for that reason they had not sufficient opportunities for expansion, he was prepared to discuss with them the only thing that he thought was up for discussion, namely, the equitable distribution of raw materials. The right hon. Gentleman did not suggest then, as has been suggested this evening in speech after speech, that, as a consequence of our Imperial possessions—the empty acres in New Zealand, Australia and Canada—we are furnished with an opportunity which will help us to solve the unemployment problem in this country.

Mr. Baxter

I think the feeling of most hon. Members is that we should organise emigration from this country, but not shut out emigration from Europe, although there should be a considerably lesser flow of emigration from Europe.

Mr. Bevan

The hon. Member gives his case away at once when he says there should be "a considerably lesser flow." If the speeches that have been made by hon. Members this evening are quoted in the German, Italian and Japanese Press, they will have complete justification for all the demands of those countries that they should be given places in which to expand. Never in the whole of my political experience have I heard more utter rubbish. The House has been treated to this sort of nonsense every time there has been an industrial depression. Every time there has been an industrial depression speeches such as those to which we have listened this evening have been made from the Government Bench in this House, suggesting that one of the ways to solve unemployment and at the same time to expand the Empire is the artificial stimulation of emigration.

If hon. Members will look at the history of emigration and Imperial development, they will see that it proves most conclusively that only a negligible proportion of the Empire has been developed by Government-assisted schemes. As a matter of fact, millions of pounds have been lost to the Imperial Exchequer by the foolish artificial stimulation of emigration. When people went to Canada, to Australia and to New Zealand, they went as a consequence of industrial and agricultural development, freely stimulated, and the normal movement of population. There never has been an example in Imperial development of the artificial stimulation of emigration preceding industrial development having had any other than an impeding effect upon the development of the country. I challenge hon. Members opposite to give any illustration to the contrary. An attempt was made in the case of New Zealand in the early days. The history of New Zealand is very interesting. I am sorry the hon. Baronet the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) is not in his place. He spoke about adventure. New Zealand was added to the British Empire because the British Fleet got lost in a fog. If it had not been for the fog, the Fleet that went out to acquire New Zealand for the Empire would have been brought back.

The point I wish to emphasise is that it is a very bad thing for this House to vote money to encourage young people to leave Great Britain and to go to Canada, New Zealand or Australia in advance of employment being provided for them, and it is particularly undesirable that they should undertake the adventure of settling in a new world in a romantic mood. Anyone who suggests that public funds should be used to encourage Boy Scouts to emigrate ought to be ashamed of himself. There could be nothing worse than taking young boys and inflaming their minds with all sorts of meaningless romanticism, and then, having thus captured their imagination, encouraging them to settle down in the Dominions; for the reality is bound to be so far removed from the mood in which the adventure is undertaken, that the reaction will be disastrous.

Mr. Baxter

Would the hon. Member keep them in South Wales?

Mr. Bevan

I will deal with the hon. Member's speech in a moment or two. The trouble with the hon. Member is that he has not given any attention to the problem; all he has done has been to trot out generalisations which have been the stock-in-trade of Imperialist tub-thumpers for 150 years, without investigating realities at all.

Mr. Levy

Are we to understand that if an arrangement is come to between the Dominions Governments and the Government of this country whereby schemes are inaugurated, it is pure rubbish to say that these young people shall go out and find employment under those schemes?

Mr. Bevan

The hon. Member obviously has not followed the Debate or he would not have made such a statement. As a matter of fact, the Secretary of State's confidence in the Dominions Governments coming forward as partners in the schemes is to be found in the Memorandum, where there is a reference to £1,500,000 a year. The hon. Member knows very well that there is not the slightest possibility of Australia, Canada, or New Zealand adding to their own unemployment by any such schemes. All hon. Members opposite are able to do is to quote speeches made in provincial Parliaments and at banquets, but when they are asked to furnish concrete schemes that will bear examination, they are not able to submit any.

Mr. A. Somerville

I certainly could do so, but not now.

Mr. Bevan

The hon. Member spoke about railway gauges and such things. One would think that we suffer from a shortage of ideas as to how to put men into work, and that the business man in question has really made an important contribution to the problem of Imperial development by saying that there are a few engineering jobs to be done in Australia. There are plenty of jobs of that kind to be done in South Wales. There is no shortage in that connection. For 10 or 15 years the Government have been bombarded from all parts of the House with schemes of work. If all business men can do is to suggest such things, then there are 615 business men in this House, for we are full of schemes of that sort.

The question hon. Members have to answer is, How does the migration of an unemployed man from Great Britain to Canada do good to Canada, whereas if he remains unemployed in Great Britain he does harm to Great Britain? If it were profitable to employ the men in Canada, the normal movement of capital would bring about the migration. It has always done so. The American continent was populated by free migration from Europe following the movement of free capital, and there would be no need to spend any Government money on this matter if industrial expansion were taking place in the Dominions as it did in America during the nineteenth century. The stories of friends, the assistance of relatives, the normal means of information available to people here would, of themselves, be sufficient to stimulate migration from Great Britain if employment were available in the Dominions. That has always been the case, and whenever that employment has not been available then, of course, migration has stopped, as it ought to stop at that point, because that is the point at which the new country fails to absorb the unemployed of the old world, and any attempt artificially to stimulate the movement of population is bound to have unfortunate results.

In 1934 I spent some months in Canada. I visited practically all the great industrial cities and everywhere I met friends of my boyhood walking about the streets—in Vancouver, in Calgary, in Winnipeg, in Toronto. They had been walking about those streets for over a year. There are only 10,000,000 people in Canada and only 2,400,000 of them are engaged in industry and 1,200,000 have been unemployed for nearly four years. How can hon. Members suggest, as the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) suggested, that if you send a few more unemployed men to join that 1,200,000 unemployed in Canada, by some strange alchemy more opportunities of employment will be created in Canada? It may sound academic but I would say that the normal machinery of capitalist expansion has stopped, and is failing to exploit the physical resources of Canada. It has stopped there and it has stopped here, and until you find some way of investing capital in Canada profitably—because it has to be invested profitably under your system—you cannot expect the movement of population from Europe to be resumed. Therefore, all the speeches that we have had on this matter have been in my judgment, and I say so with great respect to the Committee, entirely irrelevant.

I would like hon. Members to show me why emigration should be regarded as self-evidently desirable. Everybody has started off in this Debate with the premise, as if it were self-evident, that emigration of itself is desirable, that it is a good thing that we should export some of our best manhood from Great Britain to the Dominions. Why should it be regarded as a good thing? Why is it better that a man should be in Canada than that he should be in South Wales? It cannot be said that it is because he would get employment in Canada. He will not get employment there. Therefore, the first condition of the argument is not satisfied. I suggest that hon. Members opposite should look up the vital statistics bearing on this matter. They talk as though we were always going to have a surplus population in Great Britain available for export, whereas according to statistics, unless our productivity is enormously increased in the next 25 years our population will shrink from 46,000,000 to 14,000,000 in less than 60 years. Those figures have not been challenged. Why then is it considered desirable that you should fill empty spaces in Canada and make empty spaces in Great Britain?

Mr. Baxter

You can send them back here.

Mr. Bevan

And that is what the hon. Gentleman calls a forward-looking Imperial policy—a sort of human escalator moving both ways. Really hon. Members ought first to convince the Committee that emigration per se is desirable, and, having done that, they ought then to show how emigration can most advantageously take place. They have done neither of these things, and I wish to enter my caveat against any suggestion that we ought to encourage more young men to leave Great Britain to walk the streets of the industrial cities of the Dominions. I have more than once taken part in meetings at which young men were encouraged to leave Great Britain and go abroad, and, as I have said on a previous occasion, I am heartily ashamed of the part which I played at that time. I presided at several meetings at which officials of the Ministry of Labour spoke and painted the attractions of the new world in glowing colours, with the result that many of our young people were encouraged to go out there. Since then, over and over again, I have had letters from those young people describing the pitiful plight in which they found themselves—unable to get employment, unable to obtain relief and unable to come home.

Those are the realities which lie behind hon. Members' roseate dreams of Empire. Those are the concrete, grim realities and they cannot be covered up by generalisations drawn from the books of Henty and Ballantyne. We have to face the facts of the twentieth century and one of the facts of the twentieth century is that migration from Europe has stopped because the movement of capital from Europe has stopped. When you find a way of moving capital from Europe, migration in Europe will be resumed, but it is idle to spend public money in an attempt to stimulate an artificial movement of unfortunate people from Great Britain to countries which are no longer hospitable, because they can no longer afford those people the livelihood which they go there to seek.

5.52 p.m.

Mr. Louis Smith

We have just listened to a speech from the benches opposite which might be considered humorous if it had not been delivered on what is, to most of us, a very serious and important matter. The hon. Member while condemning my hon. Friends who spoke from this side, on the ground that their speeches were irrelevant, has contributed nothing to the Debate on the question of Empire settlement. He has given us a purely destructive speech and if it represents the make-up of hon. Members opposite, I take it to be unlikely that we shall find many representatives of that type in our Dominions as pioneers, building up the British Empire.

Mr. Bevan

I have on more than one occasion offered constructive suggestions —and I shall be very happy to furnish the hon. Member with them—as to how employment can be found in Great Britain. At present I am trying to prevent hon. Members wasting £1,500,000.

Mr. Smith

One would naturally assume that if we were not to be given the advantage of hearing the hon. Member's proposals, he might have held his peace on this occasion instead of seeking to destroy the efforts which hon. Members on this side are making in the cause of Empire development. Before learning what the Government's intentions in this matter were, I, supported by Members on all sides of the House, including enterprising Members of the Opposition, had introduced a Private Member's Bill to amend in certain respects the Empire Settlement Act of 1922 and that Bill has been put down for consideration on Friday next, if time permits. I notice from the Financial Memorandum which is now before hon. Members, that one of the Amendments suggested in that Bill has been adopted by the Government, but I sincerely deplore the proposal of the Government to reduce the amount which is to be devoted to this purpose. The statement of the Minister was extremely lucid and he gave us a very clear presentation of the Amendments which it is proposed to make in the Act of 1922. But, having regard to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman is one of the youngest Members of the Cabinet, I had hoped to hear from him this afternoon, not so much relative to the past, not so much about the difficulties which have arisen since the 1922 Act was put in operation, but rather something about that vision of the future, of which we might expect to hear from younger Members of the Government.

I cannot think that it is the Chancellor of the Exchequer alone who has considered it necessary or advisable to reduce this £3,000,000 to £1,500,000. We know, in connection with the agricultural industry in this country, that owing to the increased price of wheat, the amount required for the wheat scheme will not be anything like the full amount for which provision has been made. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, therefore, has the money ready to hand for this purpose and I would ask the Minister to consider very carefully the possibility of amending this decision to reduce the amount to £1,500,000. Surely this country is not without money at the present time. We have any amount of money in the banks on deposits earning very little, and I fully believe—and I emphasise this point—that not only would the Dominions benefit if we developed new industries in certain directions, but we at home would benefit equally.

A great deal of work has been done under the 1922 Act. I do not agree with those who say that the Act has failed, because 400,000 persons have been settled overseas during the intervening period and only one-seventh of the amount of capital provided for under that Act has been spent £6,000,000 instead of rather over £42,000,000. A great deal of valuable information has been obtained and is now in the hands of the Dominion Secretary. Attempts are frequently made to turn this into a political matter, but I would stress the fact that it is not a political matter at all and should not be looked upon as such. I remember hearing in 1929, the then Dominion Secretary under a Labour Government, the present Lord Ponsonby, saying that it was not a political but a scientific question. I deprecate very much the question of migration being dragged into politics at all. Why should we be so fearful in providing an odd million or two on an enterprise which without doubt, if carried out efficiently, must provide a return for this country in the long run? It has been said in this Debate that the Dominions are not interested in this subject to-day, but the Premier of New South Wales, addressing the Royal Empire Society in London in May last, said: I am going to take the risk of suggesting that the problem, which I would not call migration, but would rather describe as Imperial development, is much bigger than any of these schemes ever can be. If it is a question of capital investment, where else is there a safer field for investment than in the Dominions? When, as I say, so much money is lying in the banks at 1 per cent. or less, is not this a time when we could show rather more courage than by reducing the amount available from £3,000,000 to £1,500,000?

Another point that I would like to make is that in these anxious days, internationally, our vast British possessions tend to excite the envy of the hard pressed dictators of some over-populated countries, and we should be unwise to delay the further development of our sparsely populated Dominions, where only two or three people live to the square mile as compared with nearly 700 living to the square mile in this country. The Dominions, I believe, are equally wishful at this juncture to go ahead with schemes of development and to co-operate with this country in bringing the right sort of people from England. We have a very large number of research associations that have given us a tremendous lead in this direction. The scheme for Manitoba advocated by the Emigration Settlement Group, the recent Memorandum sent by the Premier of New South Wales, the Fairbridge Farm Schools in Western Australia and British Columbia, and Doctor Barnardo's Farm School in New South Wales are only illustrations of the work which is being done. I asked a question in this House on this subject a little before Christmas, and I take it that a letter was addressed to me on that account from General Hornby, referring to the Fairbridge Farm Schools. I would like to ask the indulgence of the Committee to read a sentence or two from that letter, in which General Hornby says: Is there not a danger of the overseas settlement authorities becoming obsessed by the Fairbridge Farm School scheme to the exclusion of schemes of family settlement? Judging by reports appearing in the Press during the last 12 months, it would appear that some people have lost their sense of proportion. The Fairbridge School is an excellent means of fostering child migration; but it cannot do anything appreciable to meet the immediate population requirements of the Dominions. It is but a very small drop in a very big bucket. It is costly too in comparison with family settlement. I agree that though schemes such as the Fairbridge Farm Schools have done excellent work, they are only one way of tackling this problem, and all methods should be adopted. The argument which the Minister used, that the highest expenditure in any year was only £1,250,000, does not appeal to me. Greater success could have been achieved if we had tackled the problem in a much more embracing way and not made merely piecemeal attempts. I believe that the people in the Dominions are expecting this country to do something in a big way, and I trust that at the Imperial Conference our Dominions Secretary, with his usual vigour, will bring forward something that will be ahead of anything that has been done previously. The Dominions Secretary, the present Secretary's predecessor, said only in 1935: Since the economic depression set in three years ago, notwithstanding all the talk about people not desiring to migrate and of their losing interest in migration, there have never been fewer than 50,000 people ready, anxious, and willing to take their chance. As I have said before, the ground has been definitely broken, and we have a tremendous amount of information in the hands of the Dominions Secretary. May we not ask him more boldly to attack this problem, to allot at least the £3,000,000 previously agreed to, and, learning from those mistakes that have been made in the past, now that the world trade depression is fast ebbing, show the world that as in past days this country has still that colonising instinct that has made it great?

6.6 p.m.

Sir John Withers

I do not propose to deal with the large issues raised in this very important Debate, but simply with one small matter of detail. We all agree that it is a very great pity to reduce the available money—not necessarily the money spent — from £3,000,000 to 1,500,000, for that will cause a great deal of depression in the Dominions and have a very bad effect. I have been wondering why the reduction has been made, because we have not spent all that we could in the past. It is because we have to have these sums included in the Estimates, and, therefore, they have to be budgeted for, and the amount that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has to budget for is increased by that amount.

The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) made a suggestion which, I think, is a very proper one. He asked the Dominions Secretary whether he could not evolve some short procedure to deal with this matter rather than having to come back to the House, if he wanted more money than £1,500,000, and ask for the passage of a Bill. Could he not reorganise this Financial Resolution and the Bill which we understand is to be introduced by putting in some machinery by which, if necessary, if the money was really available and could usefully be spent, it could be raised by a simpler means than by a Bill which has to go through all its stages? Could not something be put in the Resolution and the Bill simply saying that the money could be increased from £1,500,000 to £3,000,000 or vice versa reduced from £3,000,000 to £1,500,000, by a Resolution of this House? It is simply a matter of machinery, and I think a very great deal of advantage could be gained if something of that kind were done.

6.9 p.m.

Mr. Sandys

I should like to say a word or two about the speech of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan), who, unfortunately, after making his rather petulant explosion, has left the Chamber.

Mr. Gordon Macdonald

He has been called away.

Mr. Sandys

I understand. It was, however, evident that he was entirely out of sympathy with the whole migration movement, and as such he represents a section of opinion in this country with which unfortunately we have to reckon. He was out to discourage and to throw cold water on all the efforts which have been made in this direction. Moreover he made some very curious remarks for one who shares the views of those who sit on the Benches opposite. He said that State assistance in the form of £1,500,000 offered by the Government was quite unnecessary, because, he said, the ordinary movement of capital would achieve migration if it were necessary and desirable. To have it put to us from those Benches opposite that all these matters must be left to the natural movement of capital really comes as a surprise to us on this side. Furthermore, he said that the matter should not be done by State assistance, but should be left to the assistance given by the relatives of those who propose to emigrate overseas. Some of us remember that only a very short time ago we heard an argument of a very different kind put forward by the hon. Member when the means test came to be discussed in this House. The idea that public policy should depend upon the assistance given by relatives is now being advocated by hon. Members opposite, and it strikes us as very curious. Lastly, he said that this Amendment for the reduction of the Vote from £3,000,000 to half that sum reflected the Government's want of confidence in the support which was forthcoming from the Dominions for the policy of Empire migration. I am quite sure that nothing was further from my right hon. Friend's thoughts when he introduced this Amendment this afternoon.

I had not intended to speak in this Debate, but I was frankly so disappointed with the speech made by my right hon. Friend that I felt I must say a few words. I had hoped that he would have been able to tell us that while perhaps in his opinion there was no immediate prospect of a revival of emigration, nevertheless he expected to see this revival in the very near future. Unfortunately, he cast a feeling of gloom on this House in so far as the question of migration was concerned. The Memorandum which we have been given refers to the "probable requirements." On page 3, in paragraph (6), it says: It is intended to bring the amount which Parliament is asked to authorise into closer relation with probable requirements as indicated by past experience. A line or two above it says: This does not, therefore, mark a change of policy. It may not mark a change of policy, but it does surely imply an acceptance by the Government of the failure of their policy in the past and of the fact that the miserable rate of Empire migration in past years is going to be stabilised. There is evidently not, in their mind, any hope that a marked improvement is going to take place, and that, in my opinion, shows the serious nature of this reduction. It is a grave discouragement to all the efforts which are being made and which have been made not only by Governments here and in the Dominions, but by countless voluntary organisations and individuals who are doing their best to further this great Empire movement. It shows quite clearly—and I deeply regret it—that the Government expect no revival in the immediate future. I consider that it is a serious thing for the Government by action of this kind to publish abroad that they do not expect any improvement in the present unsatisfactory position of migration.

I believe, as previous speakers do, that the moment is opportune for the revival of migration and that we may look forward, if a serious and determined effort is made, to a revival of migration in the British Empire not only by agricultural settlement but also by industrial settlement, which has been little referred to to-day. I think that the hon. Member from the Front Opposition Bench who referred to the attitude of the Dominion Ministers was entirely at fault. Ministers in all parts of the Empire have declared with greater or lesser emphasis that they believed the moment was opportune for a revival of migration throughout the Empire. I remember a distinguished Dominion Minister giving an address to the Empire Parliamentary Association in St. Stephen's Hall, when the hon. Member was present, in which he declared that the time was coming in the near future when the whole migration movement could profitably and usefully be revived. This distinguished Australian Minister said categorically that in his opinion, and in the opinion of the Governments in Australia, the time had come for a change of policy. I have always felt from the speeches which the Secretary of State has made from time to time that he has the policy of migration and Empire settlement very much at heart. I am sure we all agree that he has shown himself as keen an Imperialist as any who has filled his post for many years past. I therefore appeal to him in all sincerity to reconsider his decision to reduce this grant, which will otherwise inevitably result in a serious and grave discouragement to the whole migration movement throughout the British Empire.

6.18 p.m.

Mr. Petherick

I do not think that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Dominions can feel very encouraged by the response that this Financial Resolution has received from his own side of the Committee. Every Member who has spoken has expressed disquiet that the total amount to be allotted to Empire migration under the forthcoming Bill is to be reduced from £3,000,000, as it was under the old Act, to £1,500,000. I will give two or three reasons in a moment why I join with all the Members who have spoken on this side of the Committee in expressing disapproval of his action. I should like, first, to say one or two things about the speech of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan). The hon. Member, in the course of his somewhat excitable oration, referred to the fact that New Zealand was discovered in a fog. My knowledge does not go far enough back to know in what condition Wales was discovered, but it seems to me that some of the inhabitants of that country are still living in a fog because the hon. Member made a great harangue to try to prove that not only were the Government ill-advised to cut down the vote, but that there ought not to be any vote for Empire migration at all. Most of the hon. Member's speech was devoted to a defence of capitalism, and he pointed to the fact that the vast spaces of the United States and Canada during the last century and the beginning of this were brought to their high state of prosperity by the infiltration of migrants and the sending thither of large sums of capital, and that all this was done under capitalist and individualist enterprise.

Mr. Bevan

Go on with the job.

Mr. Petherick

The hon. Member cannot have it both ways. We hear impassioned speeches about Socialist State interference and State enterprise from those benches, of which the hon. Member is a notable Member, and now he comes to the Committee and says, "Socialism, in fact, is no good in this case; what you must do is to carry on the old laissez faire system and hope for the best."

Mr. Bevan

Perhaps the hon. Member will devote his acute intelligence to the question why it was possible for capitalism to do that in the nineteenth century and why it is unable to exploit the physical resources of Canada in the twentieth century.

Mr. Petherick

The hon. Member now appears to be changing his argument—

Mr. Bevan

It is exactly what I said.

Mr. Petherick

What he is trying to say now is that we must go on in the old way under the capitalist system, to allow migration by infiltration and to leave the great countries beyond the seas to take care of themselves so far as capitalist enterprise is concerned. I am very surprised to hear such support of our general thesis on this side of the Committee. The hon. Member's real motives for taking up the line he does is clear. We used to hear a great deal about the Little Englander before the War, but mercifully we do not hear so much now. I would not insult the hon. Member by calling him a Little Englander, because be comes from Wales, but if I used the adjective which would be suitable because he comes from Wales I should use an expression which was so grossly unparliamentary that I should be called to order. He stated that when he went to Canada he found a number of his earlier associates walking the streets with nothing to do. Are there not, unfortunately, a large number of men in South Wales in the same position? Would the hon. Member maintain that if a scheme of State assistance for emigration were brought into being with Government help, and Government money if necessary, he would object to the unemployed man being taken from South Wales and sent to Canada with the certainty of getting a decent job?

Mr. Bevan

No, but I should say that the hon. Member should first start by providing employment for those who have already gone to Canada. When he has clone that, and if there is employment left over, I should be only too anxious to help our people to get there.

Mr. Petherick

I was coming to that point. The hon. Member and others on that side of the Committee are always saying that we must be progressive and look to the future. What he said to-day was that, because there is unemployment in the great countries of the Empire, we must not look to the future and must not make plans for the time when unemployment will be reduced to the normal, and when, indeed, they will cry out as they have cried out in the past, for men because there are more jobs available than men to fill them. I do not wish to continue crossing swords with the hon. Member. I have done it on various occasions. It is unfortunate that we should frequently get the impression from the benches opposite, although we know that they contain some excellent Imperialists, that the hon. Members opposite have no interest in the Empire and that they are only interested in their own small sections of the country. I should like to look upon the Empire, as far as possible, as a unit in which we can all work together for a common end. I should like to feel that in years to come a man will feel as much at home from this country in Launceston in Tasmania as in Launceston in this country, and that we are all one big family.

I should like to give three reasons why I deplore the action of the Government in reducing the amount to be at the disposal of Empire migration. One is practical, namely, that although at the present time it may not he possible to resume emigra1 ion on a great scale, yet, when unemployment goes down to normal in the Dominions, it may well be possible to introduce Empire migration schemes on a considerably larger scale than we have been trying hitherto. The second reason is psychological. It is a mistake, when we have the Coronation coming this year and the great Imperial Conference to be started in June, to kick off by reducing by half the amount we propose to devote to the Empire migration scheme. My third reason is a purely technical one connected with the House. In a year or two's time my right hon. Friend may change his mind and there may be some schemes he would like to carry out, but he would find that this Financial Resolution made it possible to devote only £1,500,000 for the purpose. If he wanted to get another £1,500,000 in two years' time he could not do it unless he came to the House again for a Financial Resolution and a new Bill, with all the resultant delay and waste of Government time. As my right hon. Friend said, it may be that we do not need at the moment more than £1,500,000, but there is nothing to show that we shall not need it in future. Would it not, therefore, be more advisable to allow the figure to remain at £3,000,000, even if, after perhaps a year or two, we shall not need the full sum?

It is rather a pity that under paragraph (b) of the Resolution, where the Secretary of State is required to increase the grants for schemes from one-half to three-quarters, land settlement is excluded. Some of us have worked for a considerable time on land settlement schemes. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft), whom I see sitting opposite, was chairman of a committee on which I had the privilege to serve and which brought out a number of detailed recommendations. I think a part of that scheme is going to be feasible after a comparatively short space of time, and therefore I feel that it is a pity not to allow the full three-quarters increase to become available for land settlement schemes. I suppose it is too late to ask my right hon. Friend to reconsider his decision to reduce the amount, but I earnestly hope that he will think the matter over carefully, especially in view of the almost complete unanimity of feeling on this side of the Committee, so far as the back benchers are concerned.

6.31 p.m.

Mr. Levy

I am one of those who have always felt that it is essential that the Empire should be developed and that it should be developed from a population point of view. Like most hon. Members, I have listened from time to time to Prime Ministers and other men of authority from our Colonies and Dominions, and they have always stated that those Colonies and Dominions cannot become prosperous in the true sense of the word until their populations have increased, and that increase to the extent which is desirable will not come about by the ordinary processes. Their populations must be increased by migration.

Mr. E. J. Williams

Can the hon. Member account for the poverty of India? Is that due to lack of population?

Mr. Levy

I did not mention India. I am referring to the Dominions which are sparsely populated, such as New Zealand and Australia. It may be that we have different views. It may be that hon. Members opposite think that we can retain our Empire, which we all hope to retain, by simply allowing it to go on as it is without any help. I am one of those who think that if, at the Imperial Conference, conferences are set up between the Prime Ministers of the Colonies and Dominions and this Government, it will not' be beyond the wit of man to provide schemes which shall be beneficial both to this country and to the Colonies. When we talk of migration we invariably visualise primary production, but we fail to see that the primary products require the services of machinery, transport, engineering and the hundred and one different ancillary trades and industries which have to be called in to help in development. In my view the development of these territories will help to solve the unemployment question. I do not think there can be any doubt about that in the mind of anybody who takes the trouble to study the economic position of the Colonies and the Dominions. It is obvious that we cannot go on indefinitely allowing large tracts of land in our Dominions to be uninhabited.

Mr. MacLaren

And in England.

Mr. Levy

We are dealing with the question of migration. I fail to see how anyone can say there are large open spaces in this country unpopulated when we have 700 people to the square mile.

Mr. Bevan

But they do not live on every square mile.

Mr. Levy

I am not going into particulars so far as that is concerned. I have noticed about the speeches of hon. Members opposite that one listens in vain for constructive contributions to any proposition put forward from this side of the House. We hear nothing but destructive criticisms and I want to hear something constructive.

Mr. Gallacher

Can the hon. Member tell us why it is that Canada is the only great country that has no heavy or shipbuilding industry?

Mr. Levy

I think the hon. Member must ask the Canadian authorities. He must not ask me that question. What I am suggesting is that with the help of this Government and of those Overseas Governments which desire emigration to go into their great open spaces—

Mr. E. J. Williams

Why do you not go, for instance?

Mr. Levy

I do not think that observation is relevant. The hon. Member is doing himself an injustice by saying that. As Members of Parliament w e are here to do what we think is best in the interests not only of the population of this country but of the Empire as a whole, and I have always held that if we are to maintain our great Empire it is essential that we should help to populate it. There are thousands of young people in this country who would be only too anxious to go to the Colonies if there were proper schemes under which they would be looked after when they arrive and looked after until they can get upon their feet. I am not one of those who believe that it is impossible for a scheme to be arranged by the various Governments concerned which will be in the interest of the British Empire. Here we are, to-day, discussing a reduction in the sum which is to be allocated for migration purposes. My right hon. Friend the Minister, one of those virile young men who should always be looking ahead, is now dealing with the past instead of with the future. We are always hearing about "the old gang." We want young men on our front benches, and when we get them there we hope they will do something in the interests of the Empire.

Mr. MacLaren

And population?

Mr. Levy

And with regard to the population. I do not know whether that applies to my right hon. Friend or not. He comes to the Committee and tells us that the Government are going to reduce by £1,500,000 the sum available, thereby restricting the possibilities of Empire settlement in the future. But I sincerely hope that in this Coronation year, when there is to be an Imperial Conference, he will take the opportunity of conferring with the Prime Ministers and the other authoritative people who will be over here to try to devise a scheme whereby we can start migration again and populate some of those open spaces which it is so necessary that we should people.

6.40 p.m.

Mr. M. MacDonald

The discussion this afternoon has been rather in the nature of a preliminary canter. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) got an assurance from the Prime Minister at Question Time that we should be permitted a full field day on the next occasion, the Second Reading of the Bill which this Resolution foreshadows, and hon. Members have to some extent this afternoon been raising in a preliminary manner points which they wish to have thrashed out more thoroughly on that occasion. They have been anxious to ensure that when that other Debate takes place I shall not be able to shield myself against awkward questions by saying that I must have notice of them. They have mentioned some of their questions to-day, and I certainly propose to deal with them on the Second Reading of the Bill.

This Resolution deals with three points, three Amendments which we have it in mind to introduce into the Empire Settlement Act. The first is the proposal to extend the life of the Act For another 15 years. That suggestion has met with no criticism but has received, I think, the full approval of the Committee. The second suggestion is that there should be some alteration in the provisions with regard to percentage grants, an alteration which would permit the Government in certain cases to make a grant up to 75 per cent. In this case, again, the speeches show that the proposal has not met with any opposition. My hon. Friend on the Front Bench opposite who, I think, would naturally feel that he must oppose, did express a certain amount of scepticism and a good deal of mistrust of the Government's decision, but I do not think his attitude amounted to anything more hostile than that, and other speakers have welcomed that provision unanimously.

The only proposal which has not met with such a warm reception is the third one, which envisages a cut by one-half in the maximum figure which the Government can spend on schemes, reducing the sum from £3,000,000 to £1,500,000. As one hon. Member truly said, there has been universal disapproval among my own hon. Friends in regard to that proposal; and the motive behind it has been described in two ways. One hon. Member said that it expressed a loss of confidence on the part of the Government in the willingness of Dominion Governments to welcome migration again. That suggestion is quite untrue. It never entered my head at all. I have complete confidence that, when economic conditions in the Dominions permit, the Dominions will be ready and anxious to welcome new settlers to develop those countries. Someone was critical because I was not more optimistic in my statement as to the prospects of a resumption of migration in the near future. Possibly I am rather too cautious a Scotsman, and do not count my chickens before they are hatched, but I do believe that there is a prospect, in the comparatively near future, of a beginning being made, in the case at any rate of one Dominion.

Mr. Sandys

I think the right hon. Gentleman is referring to my speech. The point of my complaint was not that he had counted his chickens before they were hatched, but that he provided nothing with which to feed them if they were hatched.

Mr. MacDonald

Judging by the standard of 1926 we are providing sufficient for 132,000 of this particular kind of chicken. That is a commentary on the second motive which was attributed to the Government in making this suggestion. That motive was described as something in the nature of a loss of interest in migration. I repeat that there is no loss of interest whatever. As I said in my introductory remarks, there is another perfectly proper and practical explanation of the alterations we seek to make. The figure of £3,000,000 was put into the Empire Settlement Act 15 years ago, when we had no experience of assisted migration. There is nothing sacrosanct about that. In a way, it was an arbitrary figure. It was experimental. No one could know how it was going to work out. I think the hon. Member for Roth-well (Mr. Lunn) pointed out that in the discussion 15 years ago some people said enthusiastically, "You can spend much more." Others took the opposite view. It was a purely experimental figure, so to speak.

Now, in coming forward with fresh legislation, we need not be so much in the dark. We have had 15 years' experience, and the figure which we propose is based upon it. We have taken years when migration was at its greatest since the War. To someone who said that that was a confession of the failure of our previous migration efforts, let me point out that, in 1926, 132,000 people left this country in that 12 months and settled in the Dominions, and that there were 123,00o in 1927. I do not think that is failure, or a bad figure. To my hon. Friends, to whose sincerity and enthusiasm I willingly pay tribute, I hold those up as model figures and figures to which we must try to get back. In order to assist that enormous volume of migration the Government spent £1,250,000. In the light of that experience we now provide that the Government may spend £1,500,000 in any 12 months, under this renewed Empire Settlement Act. I admit the force of some speeches which made the point: "Why be governed by the past? Why not be bold and go to the larger figure, because you may do better in future than you have done in the past?" We have to make our plans as closely as possible to what we think are the actual prospects, and I think we have done that in setting up the limit, so far as this legislation is concerned, of the figure of £1,500,000, which allows a good margin over the best that we have done in any year in the past.

There is some point in the argument that we may be able to do something better if prosperity comes back in a future year. The Government have had that point in mind. Therefore, I said quite literally, speaking on behalf of the Government, when introducing this Resolution, that this is not necessarily a maximum figure. It is a maximum so far as this legislation is concerned, but we have not closed our minds to the possibility of more money being wanted. Hon. Members have said: "Why cannot you introduce something into this legislation to enable you to get that amount of money by an easier process than going through the business of introducing and passing another Bill?" I considered that possibility very carefully, but the suggestion that the House should be able to increase this sum merely by passing a Resolution would be an extremely difficult precedent to create. Being, perhaps, a little more revolutionary than my hon. Friends, I considered that, but I believe that it would be a very dangerous precedent. After careful consideration, the Government came to the conclusion that the only way in which it would be proper to ask for the increased sum would be by fresh legislation. I give an undertaking that if that should prove necessary, we should introduce the legislation at the earliest convenient moment. I assure the Committee that we regard this problem of migration as one of very great importance, and we should do everything to present the legislation to the House at an early moment.

Sir H. Croft

Could the right hon. Gentleman give some reason why the figure could not be left at the point where it now stands?

Mr. MacDonald

A great many reasons could be offered. I think that this Debate is an illustration of one reason. The figure of £3,000,000 was put into the Act many years ago, but it proved to be one that we did not get up to, or even to half of it, in one year. The result of that has been that hon. Member after hon. Member has got up and said that the Government have been half-hearted about migration, and that to show how half-hearted they have been we needed only to see how short the Government had fallen of spending the maximum sum which they could have spent. To put in a figure which you think you would not reach would be misleading and would create only misunderstanding and unjustifiable hopes. It would lead in the end to the same sort of perfectly sincere and genuine criticism against the Government. It is much more practical to accept this reduced figure, having in mind that, if in practice it turns out that some great scheme is desirable which would require greater expenditure by the Government, we have in office a Government which would be willing to introduce legislation to that end. The spirit in which the Government have put down this Financial Resolution is the desire to play their part in whatever may be the maximum of migration which is good for this country and for the Dominions when times get better. That is the spirit which I believe almost the whole House is anxious that the Government should have, and I therefore hope that we may now get this Resolution.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow.