§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (Mr. Malcolm MacDonald)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
In the course of its business this House discusses a multitude of subjects, but I doubt whether any is of greater importance than that of Empire migration. I think that the question does not receive the attention from the general public which it deserves. It is true that when the movement of migration was at its height, it did enlist the interest of considerable numbers of patriotic citizens. There were some 30 voluntary societies operating, supported by a great host of helpers and subscribers, and I hope that that may be the same again when migration can be resumed on a more considerable scale than we know it to-day. Nevertheless, I am sometimes amazed at the comparative indifference with which this great Imperial problem is regarded by the country as a whole. Many other questions attract a keener and more alert interest. Every man-in-the-street was an authority on the Italian-Abyssinian dispute. Every schoolboy has his views as to the rights and wrongs of what is now occurring in Spain, and in almost every household in the land there is keen discussion on every fresh speech made by the German or the Italian dictator. Our newspapers are full of these topics, and I certainly do not seek to minimise for one moment their importance. They are compelling and urgent matters. It is absolutely right that they should be studied carefully and conscientiously by the electors in this democratic country, but I would only observe that, from the point of view of the British people, the question of Empire migration is at least of equal importance.
Canada, Australia and New Zealand are, comparatively speaking, undeveloped countries. If we do not develop them, somebody else will develop them. From the point of view of maintaining the British characteristics of these countries and of maintaining the strength and 596 harmony of the British Commonwealth of Nations, this development of the Dominions further, when conditions permit, with settlers in goodly proportions of British stock, is a matter of vast importance. Having said that, one has to say straight away that it is not a simple problem. There are some people who believe that it is simple. They are inclined to say, "Here in this busy, crowded island there are hundreds of thousands of British men and women who cannot find a job. Out there, in those undeveloped half-filled British countries, there are great spaces waiting for population. Why not take these people and just transfer the surplus population from Great Britain and put them into these spaces awaiting development? "But the problem is not the simple and easy problem of physical transport. It has to be inquired into a little further. When these settlers get to these new countries, how are they to make a living? What are they to produce, and when they have produced it what prospect is there of their selling it? It is at this stage of the inquiry that one begins to come up against some of the difficulties.
Consider, for instance, our practical experience of this matter during the last 20 years. From the close of the War until about 1930 the development of the Dominions was going ahead, and to help in that development British peoples out in Canada, Australia and New Zealand were being reinforced every year by considerable numbers of ingoing migrants. Then, suddenly, the world economic crisis intervened and temporarily destroyed all prospect of satisfactory settlement in those countries. Since 1930, except for certain categories of migrants, migration has completely ceased. Why did that happen? Because of some of the difficulties to which I have already referred. A settler going to these countries might do one of two things. He might go on the land, but already during the depression people settled on the land in those countries who tried to make a living out of the land, were getting uneconomic prices for their meat, their wheat and their dairy produce, and so on. Therefore, it would have been foolish to assist new migrants to go out there to settle on the land, to produce still more of those commodities and to drive prices lower still. The second alternative is for newcomers to go into industry, but in the 597 Dominions the well-being of industry depends very largely on the well-being of the primary producers. The primary producers are the market very largely for Dominion industries. Therefore, during the depression when the purchasing power of the primary producers was very severely limited, industry in the Dominions was temporarily crippled. The numbers of the industrial unemployed were increasing steadily there as they increased steadily here. Again, it would have been foolish to assist people during those years to go to the Dominions to search for jobs in industry which were not there, with the result that the newcomers would merely have aggravated the unemployment problem.
Because of these hard facts, the problems which faced anyone who has had to deal with this matter during recent years, migration has practically ceased. On the other hand, times are changing. The depression is lifting. In every one of the Dominions there has been in recent years a very considerable measure of recovery. The products in which agriculturists are principally interested are fetching better prices again and the primary producer is better off. As a result, industry in the Dominions is beginning to revive, and the numbers of the unemployed are steadily falling. That movement of recovery has been maintained so well during the latest period in the Dominions that we would venture to hope that it is going to continue, that the new movement of development in the Dominions will proceed at a steady pace, and that the time is not far distant when the Dominions will be ready to accept fresh reinforcements of British migrants from this country.
But if we are agreed upon that, about the desirability of this movement starting as soon as conditions in the Dominions permit, I believe we shall also be agreed that the people who must decide when conditions in the Dominions are ripe for a new migration movement are the Dominion Governments themselves. The responsibility is theirs. If migration were to start before conditions were ripe, if new migrants who had been assisted to go to these Dominions only found themselves stranded on arrival, or if they found themselves only temporarily employed and shortly afterwards thrown out of work again, or if they were able to get employment of a permanent nature but 598 only at the expense of keeping out of employment people already settled there who were qualified for those jobs—if any of those things happened, if the movement started too soon, it would be the Dominion Government concerned that would be blamed for the mistakes which had been made, that would have to stand the racket, so to speak, and would have to tackle the local problem that had been created. The responsibility is theirs.
Therefore, the decision as to when the time is proper and the conditions are ready for migration to start again, must be theirs also, and we must await that decision. That does not mean to say that in the meantime we can do nothing at all. We can have our plans ready. We can make our preparations and get them far advanced. We can see that we are equipped with the powers which will enable us, as soon as migration can start again, to play our part fully and to assist any effective measure financially; and this Bill is a part, as I have said over and over again, of that process of preparation here. We have studied the existing Empire Settlement Act to see whether it requires any alteration in the light of present-day conditions and prospects, and, having studied it with the very great assistance of the Oversea Settlement Board, we have decided that three Amendments are necessary. I spoke about those Amendments and the reasons for them at considerable length on the Financial Resolution, and I do not propose to weary the House by going in detail into those matters again. I would only sum up the reasons for the Amendments very briefly. The first one is this: The existing Empire Settlement Act will come to an end on the last day of May this year. The Government could take no action under it after that date unless something was done to renew it. Therefore, the first Amendment which we propose is that the life of the Act should be extended for a further 15 years.
The second Amendment is this: We have been inquiring closely into the expenditure actually incurred by the Government on assisted migration during the years following the War. We found that even when migration was at its highest peak the cost of the schemes did not come to more than about £1,250,000 a year; and therefore, in the light of that experience, we propose to alter what was really an experimental figure put into 599 the existing Act, and to insert the figure of £1,500,000 as the maximum which the Government can spend on migration schemes in any one year; and, attached to what I have already said with regard to that Amendment, is the assurance I gave on the Financial Resolution, that if schemes come forward which we desire to participate in, schemes of development or land settlement which would require more money than is provided under the amended Act, then we will take the first opportunity of introducing amending legislation so that we can assist in those fresh schemes.
The third Amendment is this: At present the Government cannot give a larger percentage grant towards any scheme than 50 per cent. It has been our experience that the voluntary societies which play an extremely important part in schemes of assisted migration, have found the sources from which they used to draw their funds running a bit dry, for obvious reasons. Because those societies do play a vital part, and must continue to play a vital part, in any schemes of assisted migration, we propose to amend the Act so that we can come to the aid of efficient societies with anything up to a 75 per cent, instead of a 50 per cent, grant.
§ Mr. Bellenger
Can the right hon. Gentleman say what proportion of the money that has been given to these societies has been spent in the past?
§ Mr. MacDonald
I should have to look up the figures. I shall say something on the subject before the Debate is over. That is a brief summary of the purposes of the Amendments which we are suggesting. With regard to the increase of the grant from 50 to 75 per cent, in certain cases, the hon. Member for Roth-well (Mr. Lunn) expressed some uneasiness in the discussion on the Financial Resolution. He strongly condemned a particular scheme of migration which operated in the past, that by which children have been boarded out with families in one of the Dominions. He pointed out that in the past that system led in some cases to very unsatisfactory results, and he was nervous lest the Government should use this new power to give increased grants to those societies which took part in that system, so that that system might be revived. The hon. 600 Member was inclined to indicate the other day that unless I could give him an assurance that the Government would not encourage the revival of that system of boarding out children he would have to consider whether he would not vote against the whole of this proposed legislation.
The position is this: I cannot say whether the Government will wish to participate in or to encourage that boarding-out system or not. The question has not arisen; it is not a matter of practical politics at the present time. Before I could make up my mind upon it I should want to know what was the view of the Oversea Settlement Board upon it. Therefore, I cannot say whether or not that proposal would come forward again. But I can give this assurance: If the Government were to contemplate the revival of such a system it would only be with adequate safeguards for the well-being of the children, such as were proposed in the report of the Inter-Departmental Committee. We should certainly insist on those safeguards being inserted in any scheme. But beyond that I cannot go to-day. I hope that that will not lead the hon. Member into wholesale opposition to the Bill. If I may say so with respect, it would seem to me to be a very short-sighted policy, just because you do not like one scheme which there is the possibility of the Government adopting though there is an equal possibility that the Government will never adopt it, to prevent the Government going ahead with any other schemes of which you heartily approve.
Therefore, I urge that anyone who is interested in migration generally, who supports migration generally, should support this Bill. This is simply legislation which is going to enable us to be ready when the day comes, when Dominion Governments say that they are ready to welcome assisted migrants again. What are the prospects of an assisted migration movement starting again at any time in the near future? Sometimes it is suggested that the peoples of the Dominions are even now longing to welcome new migrants, and that it is only the half hearted and close-fisted United Kingdom Government which is preventing refreshing showers of new settlers falling upon those places in the Dominions and causing industry and agriculture to grow there.
601 Lest there is any misapprehension on that point I would make the position perfectly clear. The Canadian Government is not yet ready to welcome assisted migrants. The New Zealand Government is not yet ready to welcome assisted migrants. The Australian Government hitherto has not been ready to welcome assisted migrants; but the Australian Government has recently been making certain inquiries. The Federal Commonwealth Government sent a Memorandum a short while ago to the various State Governments. It asked each of them what was its view about the possibility of reviving assisted migration for certain special types of migrants, for boys to engage in farm work for instance, for women who would take up domestic service, for relations of families or individuals already settled in Australia. The Commonwealth Government issued an inquiry to State Governments on those points and the replies of the State Governments have now come in. Four of the six Governments have replied negatively. In their view conditions in their State would not permit of assisted migration of those types of settlers starting again.
The other two States, Queensland and South Australia, have sent replies expressing the view that in their States there is room for a resumption, in limited numbers, of one or two of those types of migrants. Those replies came in quite recently and are now being considered, I understand, by the Australian Government. I am not able to give any further information on them at the moment, but I hope that there is a prospect of assisted migration on a somewhat larger scale than at present, and that new categories of migrants may start before very much longer.
§ Brigadier-General Sir Henry Croft
May I ask whether any Dominion has been asked if it would refuse to consider a proposal for organised settlement provided there was a guarantee that the settler would not fall on the labour market?
§ Mr. MacDonald
No, but the Government would be absolutely ready to put that question to the Dominion Governments if they were satisfied that such a scheme existed. So far the Oversea Settlement Board has examined a number of schemes, turned one of them down— 602 the Manitoba scheme—and is still considering other schemes now before it. But the Government in this country, so far, have not had brought to their attention by the Oversea Settlement Board any scheme which would answer the description of the hon. and gallant Member.
§ Mr. Mabane
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the South Australian Government indicated in what part of South Australia they would be prepared to accept assisted migrants?
§ Mr. MacDonald
Speaking from memory, I do not think they indicated any part. The South Australian answer said that the Government thought there was a possibility for women who were going into domestic service, that they would not oppose the assisted passage of relatives of settlers already in South Australia, but that they did not think there was room yet for the other types of migrants mentioned in the Commonwealth Government inquiry. They did not express any view as to the parts of South Australia where migrants might be satisfactorily settled. There the position rests at the moment.
I should like to make one or two observations on the migration question generally. In the first place, if the Dominions are one day to have larger thriving populations, which ultimately they are capable of supporting, I think it is not going to be simply, or even mainly, by the development of their agricultural and pastoral industries. It cannot be achieved by the mere extension of the cattle ranches which stretch from horizon to horizon, of those parks which are populated chiefly by millions of sheep, or of the prairies, which in summer and autumn disappear under a great sea of wheat. It is not going to be achieved chiefly by the multiplication of dairy farms or mixed farms. Agricultural and pastoral industries in these times with the introduction of machinery and modern methods of cultivation are not capable of supporting large additional populations. If large additional populations are to be supported, it is only going to be by the steady development of manufacturing industries, secondary industries, which are capable of giving work and wages to additional millions of people in the course of time.
If we believe it is important that the Dominions should in due course be able 603 to support much larger populations than to-day, we must bear in mind that the steady development of secondary industries in the Dominions is desirable. In Canada and Australia very many of these industries are already established. In the Ottawa Treaties we agreed that the establishment of economic secondary industries should be encouraged in the Dominions, and we have to recognise that as time goes on secondary production will more and more become economic. Instead of standing in the way of that development, we should encourage it and help it to the best of our power.
The second general observation I have to make is this. In considering this extremely important subject we must keep in mind our own population requirements. As our workshops and factories and shipbuilding yards become busier, we can spare fewer of our industrial workers and skilled men to go overseas. As our agriculture develops, there is less need for our agricultural population to go overseas. We must keep our eyes on those figures which indicate population trend, figures which are prophesying that in a few years' time the total population of this country will begin to decline, and that the total population of the employed people in this country will decline still further. We must keep in mind the population needs of this island which, after all, is the centre and heart of the Empire. We have to try to balance the population needs of this country and the population needs of the Dominions, and I still believe that when we take both these considerations into account we shall decide that the movement of assisted migration ought to be encouraged as soon as conditions in the Dominions permit.
Travelling through the Dominions one sees how half-populated and quarter-populated they are, and as long as that state of affairs continues they are weak links in the chain of Imperial defence. That is an important consideration, but there is a consideration which I think is of still greater importance. In the world generally to-day there is a conflict between different political philosophies. There are those who maintain that efficient government in the twentieth century requires a severe limitation on the freedom of the individual—requires that representative institutions should be stripped of much of their power, and that 604 some form of dictatorship should be established. That view is being put forward by able and powerful advocates, and it is a view which has many attractions and which is making many converts. As far as we are concerned, other peoples are perfectly free, without interference from us, to choose what form of government and political philosophy they like, but, for ourselves, we reject that point of view, and the peoples in the Dominions also reject it.
We believe in the freedom of the individual and the democratic institutions of government. The constitutions in this country and in the Dominions equally are built up on those principles. Our British Commonwealth of Nations is a Commonwealth of free nations, and we want that spirit of freedom to continue to run right through the Commonwealth of Nations wherever His Majesty's Government runs. The best guarantee we can have that this freedom is going to continue throughout the British Commonwealth of Nations is that as the Dominions are developed a good proportion of those who go out to the Dominions to help in that development should be people of the British race. For that reason, and believing that this problem of Empire migration is one of the most important that this House has to consider, I move the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ 4.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Lunn
I beg to move, to leave out the word "now" and, at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day six months."
I cannot understand the haste there is to pass this Bill into law. We have devoted the greater part of three days in the week after coming back from a five weeks' Recess to the discussion of this subject. Nothing useful will come out of the Bill for a long time to come, and if I wanted any evidence in support, I have the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who, apart from his first few words and his last few words, has been more depressing than usual on the subject of Empire migration. He said that industry in this country is beginning to revive. I agree, and I hope it will continue to revive. Then he said that there could be no Empire migration until conditions are ripe for migrants, and that the decision to start migration is a matter for the Dominions. When he says that 605 this is one of the most important matters the House has to discuss he has not said anything to justify that statement. I believe there are far more important questions for this House to discuss than this Bill. Nothing can come out of it for some time to come. We have many domestic questions which we should be discussing, and upon which something useful could be done.
§ Mr. Sandys
Does the hon. Member think that we shall be making better use of our time to-morrow when we are to discuss a Vote of Censure than we are in discussing Empire settlement?
§ Mr. Lunn
That is an important matter concerning the rights of workmen in industry. I demand equal rights for any section of the community. But when I refer to other important matters I mean matters of domestic interest. We have been told that there is no time for legislation which is very much needed. We want a Factories Bill which we were promised in the King's Speech. Cannot we find time to discuss that question father than this Bill? These are matters for the Government; the Opposition does not decide them. I am not personally opposed to migration on proper conditions, but I will not be a party to our people going overseas when there is no prospect of their being welcomed by the Dominions or of work or wages being provided for them.
It is for that reason that I oppose this matter being taken at this particular time. The Act does not expire until the end of May, and the subject might well have been left for three months, at which time we could, perhaps, have discussed it with more information than we have at the present time. Ever since 1924, I have been either a member or chairman of the Overseas Settlement Committee. I have taken part in arranging schemes of migration, and I do not regret my work in that connection. I hope to continue it some day when conditions encourage it. I took some part in the scheme for sending 3,000 families to Canada—I believe family migration to be by far the best form of migration—and I had a hand in breaking up the migration of young children to Canada, which I hope will never be started again.
It is wrong of hon. Members opposite to say that hon. Members on this side 606 take no interest in Empire questions, for we are deeply concerned with the welfare of the people who are in the Dominions. They are workers as we are, they are our brothers and sisters, and we are most anxious to consider from every point of view all questions that concern this country and the people in the Dominions. Let me say further that we have in this House to-day the best Labour Empire organisation that there has ever been for the consideration of Dominions' questions. It is the Labour Commonwealth Group, which meets practically every week and which is an important information bureau on Empire questions for members of the Labour party. Moreover, the Labour party has supported the Empire Settlement Act as it is to-day. It has done so because this Act established for the first time real cooperation between the Governments of the Dominions and this country in assisted migration, and we are anxious to continue that co-operation in every way. If Empire migration is to continue, something very extraordinary must happen in the near future. We are not likely to have again the experience we had from 1910 to 1913, a period during which no fewer than 1,250,000 persons migrated from this country. At the present time, instead of that outward flow, the inward flow has been, and is, in excess of those going out. Moreover, it is unlikely that in the future there will be the need for the same amount of human labour as in the past. In all forms of agriculture, mechanisation is developing so rapidly that there will not be the need for such numbers of people as a generation ago.
We must see to it that never again is there established a scheme such as that which ended in fiasco in Victoria, and which was a tragic business for the people who went out with money, and lost their money and their opportunities for the future. I know that people would rather go out with money of their own than be assisted by anybody, but it is our duty to see that their interests are safeguarded. Even if we have ceased to be the Mother Country, we have a duty to these people, and the fact that they have attained a status of free and equal partnership with us has not, I hope, destroyed the bond of unity which exists between us, although it may have weakened the chain. I hope conditions will develop to such an extent that both sides will be able to take advantage of 607 whatever opportunities there may be for their welfare. Until that happens, we cannot expect any migration scheme to be established in the case of any of the Dominions.
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs touched on the Inter-Departmental Committee which sat two years ago. He was Chairman of that Committee, but I am not sure that he has interpreted its decisions and report as correctly as he might have done. The Committee said that they were against spending any public money unless it could produce satisfactory settlement, and by that they meant settlement which would enable the settler to produce enough to keep himself and his dependants. In order to achieve such a state of affairs, trade, exchange and markets must not only be considered, but created for Dominion produce. Those are difficulties which cannot be dissociated from future migration. I know that is out of the question to-day, and this Bill will create no facilities for it to be restarted. If the economic conditions in the Dominions are improved, there will be no need for a Bill of this kind. For instance, in 1851 the population of Australia was 400,000, but with the gold rush, the population increased to 1,250,000. If we could have such a development in Australia, we should not need an Empire Settlement Act.
In no circumstances must be encourage our people to go to the Dominions unless the Dominions express their anxiety to receive them. Nobody who has considered the subject and knows the difficulties would recommend that there should be any mass migration or group settlements. Very little has been done up to now in that direction, and there is little or no prospect of anything being done in the future. The Inter-Departmental Committee was very decisive on that matter, for it said that no special assistance should be given to any group settlement scheme. I believe, with the Committee, that the better way is by nomination from people who are already overseas or by infiltration. Having so far accepted and supported the Inter-Departmental Committee, which published a very long report on this matter, I must part company with it when it comes to the question of control by voluntary associations 608 and the migration of young children. I cannot agree to either of those recommendations. I have no enthusiasm for voluntary organisations in this work, although I admit that they have done some good work. Whatever schemes may be adopted, it may be necessary to have some kind of voluntary assistance, but I think Government money should be spent by the Government or under their control, and the best co-operation will be between the Governments. Immediately one begins to encourage outsiders and tells them there is money to be had, one will have happening what happened before—they will clamour for all they will get and there will be a great deal of overlapping in the work. Without doubt, it will not be possible to get careful, capable and reliable administration if it is to be left absolutely in the hands of voluntary societies.
My most serious objection to this Bill has reference to child migration. I am opposed to child migration being restarted. I do not wish to encourage the shovelling of little children overseas. If that is to be done, I can quite understand the necessity for increasing our contribution to 75 per cent. We shall have to pay the expenses—the passage, the upbringing and what is called inspection and after-care. Even if that is not carried out properly, as before 1924, it will have to be paid for, and we shall have to pay. These Poor Law children are of equal importance as human beings as our own children, and we ought to take as much care of them. The so-called safeguards will be of no use whatever, and I hope the Canadian Government, even if this suggestion is made to them, will immediately turn it down. In many cases these children will not be treated as members of the family. All the women's organisations of which I know in this country are opposed to any such idea. I am strongly of the opinion that it is a detestable and inhuman suggestion. Although the right hon. Gentleman was chairman of the Committee which brought forward that suggestion, he has expressed great doubts to-day, and I hope his doubts will grow so that the scheme will never be started. I have voted against such a possibility on every occasion.
I am not satisfied with the right hon. Gentleman's answer to-day. Policy should not be left to any board, but 609 should be in the hands of the Government, and the Minister concerned should tell us definitely what is to be the position and not leave it to outsiders, whoever they may happen to be. The right hon. Gentleman has not done that, and until he does it, I feel I am justified in asking hon. Members of the party to which I belong to vote against this Bill on that particular ground. I voted for and have worked in support of the Empire Settlement Act as it has been, and I would have supported its continuance under the same conditions; but with such a recommendation as that to which I have been referring, and with the doubts in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman as to what is to happen in future, I am bound to ask hon. Members on these benches to vote against any such possibility until we have received some enlightenment as to what is in the mind of the Government. I do not believe these young children under school-leaving age should be carried overseas and left to the mercies of people there. I do not say all of them are badly treated—indeed I know different from that—but many of them are mere drudges, and I do not intend that a vote of mine shall be given on any occasion to enable such a thing to be undertaken again.
In conclusion, until there is an improvement in conditions overseas there is no object in thinking of future migration to the Dominions. It is sentimental humbug—we had a good deal of it last Tuesday from people who know the facts as well as the right hon. Gentleman knows them and I know them—to talk of the possibilities of it taking place at an early date; but I hope that conditions will so improve long before the end of the 15 years that it may be possible to encourage people to go to the Dominions with opportunities for having better conditions that they have in this country. The last thing I would say is that if the example of this Government is to be followed, there will not be much improvement overseas. The last thing the Government consider at any time is the provision of work for the millions of people who are out of work and in poverty in this country at the present time. I cannot see any possibility of the Government providing money to settle those people overseas. They will talk about it, but they will do nothing as a Government, and they will place no proposals before 610 the House which are likely to make conditions any better in this country—and that ought to be our first duty.
§ 4.47 p.m.
§ Mr. de Rothschild
I do not wish to follow the example of the hon. Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn) in opposing the Bill. I propose to give it my support, and I hope that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who sit with me on these benches will do the same thing. One thing I wish to say at once. I deplore, in common with many other Members of this House, the fact that there should be a reduction of £1,500,000 a year in the amount of the Government assistance to emigration from this country. I know that a recommendation to this effect was contained in the interim report of the Overseas Settlement Board, but I am reminded that the committee of the Board which sat at that time was headed by the right hon. Gentleman the present Under-Secretary, that the committee included several other representatives of the Ministry, and, further, that it was through the initiative of the Dominions Office—such at least is the impression left by the report—that this curtailment was recommended. I submit, therefore, that the Government must bear the entire responsibility not only for carrying out but for initiating this policy.
What explanation is offered on behalf of the Government? We heard what the Minister said to-day. On Tuesday last he made what I considered to be a most damaging statement when he said that not to make the reduction would be misleading and would create unjustifiable hopes. We are legislating for a period of 15 years on the expectation that the Government will be prepared to spend £1,500,000 a year for this purpose. The right hon. Gentleman based his hopes for the future on the figures for 1927. That has, so far, proved to be the peak year of migration. In that year 123,000 emigrants left these shores, but I should like to point out that only 61,000 of these were assisted by the Government. The Government in that year expended £1,280,000 and, calculating on that basis, the £1,500,000 which the Government, under this Bill, propose to provide annually, cannot assist more than 72,000 emigrants. The right hon. Gentleman may, of course, 611 hope for more unassisted migration, but even when economic conditions begin to favour migration, I suggest to him that it is unlikely that spontaneous emigration will take place immediately. There is another factor which will influence unassisted migration in the next few years, and that is the dreary and sorrowful experience of so many emigrants from this country during the economic crisis which followed the peak years of emigration. Let us not forget the number who returned to these shores broken and disheartened whether from Australia or from Canada. That is bound to have a strong deterrent effect on future emigration. In view of these considerations, the proposed expenditure will probably not produce the same results as the expenditure in 1927, even should the economic conditions become more favourable.
Yet if spontaneous migration is to revive at all, there must be an improvement in economic conditions. That fact has been pointed out by the Minister himself this afternoon. But what are the Government doing at present to revive inter-Imperial and international trade and bring it back to the figures of 1927? We have had a long and melancholy disquisition from the right hon. Gentleman on the future of our commercial and industrial relations with the Dominions. What he has said to-day is in effect what he said on Tuesday, namely, that we must "wait upon conditions in the Dominions." Yet in the report of the Inter-Departmental Committee, 1934, of which he was Chairman, and in his own speeches, it is made clear that the key to future emigration lies in markets. The Committee said that the Government could give the greatest stimulus to emigration by creating markets for Dominion produce in this country and elsewhere. Beyond uttering a pious wish, as the Minister did to-day, the Government have done nothing except to cut down imports from the Dominions and to inflict tariffs, quotas and restrictions as it has done in every branch of international and inter-Imperial trade. Ottawa, so far, has not proved the blessing which the Government expected it to be, and it is not surprising that the President of the Board of Trade should have to go to Canada now to try to put matters right.
612 I would like to say a few words about the policy of the Opposition. It is a perfectly nugatory policy and reveals a complete misunderstanding of the motives of those who recommend migration. The hon. Member for Rothwell made a speech to-day which is slightly different from his speech of last Tuesday. He says that his main opposition to the Bill is because of his objection to certain kinds of migration such as child migration. What did he say last Tuesday? He said that he would rather see these people stay at home, and he suggested that the advocates of migration were only concerned with getting rid of them. It is rather surprising that an advocate of the Socialist theory should accuse a capitalist Government and a capitalist society of trying to reduce the supply of competitive labour. But the most damaging speech made from the Labour benches— damaging to the party itself and not to the Bill—was that of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan). He delivered one of those vehement and ebullient utterances which often mark the short periods he occasionally spends in this House. On this occasion he asked hon. Members to show him why emigration should be regarded as self-evidently desirable. He said:Everybody has started off in this Debate with the premise 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?"— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th January, 1937; col. 74, Vol. 319.]I submit that the hon. Member's question was answered in 1931, when there was a Labour Government sitting on the benches opposite and when the hon. Member for Rothwell was at the Dominions Office under Lord Passfield. The answer was given by Mr. G. D. H. Cole, whom no one in this House or anywhere else I am sure, would suspect of being other than a true Socialist. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Anyhow if he is not regarded as such to-day, it is probably because he realised as many other people did, how incapable the Labour Government proved itself to be in 1929 to 1931. But he was then the apostle of the Labour party and the Labour Government, and he was a member of the Economic Advisory Council which inquired into the emigration problem and reported in July, 1931, 613 though the report was not published until 1932. The Committee concluded:It is of great importance that a steady flow of British migrants to the Dominions should be maintained.Mr. Cole did not dissent from that conclusion. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale apparently would not agree with Mr. Cole on that—
§ Mr. de Rothschild
The hon. Members I have quoted assume that the sole motive of migration is to rid ourselves of surplus population. That is a misguided view. We do not consider that unemployment is caused by over population. We do not think that migration can be even a palliative for unemployment. But we believe that it may provide a welcome opportunity for many to escape from the thraldom of imposed leisure and from the misery of the slums. The emigration of types who are likely to succeed in the Dominions may, indeed, be a real loss to this country especially as our population is expected to decline seriously in the next 30 or 40 years. Nor will emigration help British industry, which would undoubtedly suffer from the loss of capable and enterprising men and women. Migration, I agree, cannot give us any immediate economic relief or gain, especially if we consider the Dominions and the countries to which the migrants go, as markets for the produce and manufacturers of this country. There is no doubt that a man is worth much more at home than he is in the Dominions until such time at least as he has increased his productive capacity and his purchasing power.
These considerations, to my mind, should at all events dispel the view which has been adopted by the Opposition that our motive in encouraging and fostering emigration is to rid ourselves of the unemployed men in our own country, but the motives that we Liberals are so keen about in desiring emigration from this country to the Dominions are such, we believe, as no Labour party could really 614 cavil at. They are mainly those which were so eloquently adumbrated by the Minister in the last part of his speech. We firmly believe that emigration of British stock to the Dominions is, and will be, of inestimable value, and that, not only because of the security of the Dominions, which depends on increased population, not only because of those vast areas which are still sparsely inhabited and a source of danger, not only because the Dominions are undoubtedly our best customers, owing to similar tastes, sympathies, and standard of living, but chiefly because such emigration will help to establish a firmer measure of world peace by peopling the Dominions with men faithfully and soundly grounded in democratic traditions, thus strengthening free democracy over a great part of the globe.
What other country could do this? Can you imagine France, with a declining population and no urge to migration? Can you think of America, which is still a potential absorbent of migrants herhelf? Can you think of the Scandinavian countries, which to-day are revelling in stable economic conditions under a paternal, democratic Government and have no longer that great urge to migrate which they had in the last century? From what countries, I ask, is emigration really possible? From Germany, from Italy, from Japan, from Poland, possibly from Russia, and from the States of Central and Eastern Europe? I have no wish whatever to deny to those countries every possibility of emigration. The territories of our Dominions are not and must not be a British reserve, but if ideas of democracy are to predominate, if they are to be preponderant, there must be a constant stream, and not a trickle, of British emigration. I was impressed on that point by what was said on Tuesday by the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Baxter). There is no one in this House whose opinion on Dominion questions we respect more. We know not only his political affiliations but his close association with the Dominion of Canada. He pointed outthat we should organise emigration from this country, but not shut out emigration from Europeand he added thatthere should be a considerably lesser flow of emigration from Europe.615 He also said: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."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th January, 1937; cols. 64 and 71, Vol. 319.]Those are the words that were used the other day by the hon. Member for Wood Green, and I particularly noted the phrase "the disintegration of this country." He did not say the disintegration of the Empire. Possibly with his wisdom and his experience of the West, he thought, and he may be right, that the time may well come to call in the new worlds to redress the balance of the old. Do we wish to see the political creeds of Germany, Italy, Russia or Central Europe obtaining influence in the Empire? If not, it is time we looked to it. Think of the Nazi influence and of the Fascist influence that are being displayed in South America; think of the Nazi, Fascist, and Communist cells doing their best to upset the democracies of South America. Only the other day, in one of our own great Dominions, the Consul-General for the Third Reich had pamphlets and propaganda urging the people to adopt the principles of the totalitarian States and bringing out the soi-disant benefits of the Nazi régime, and he had the great tact and delicacy to send this propagandist literature, as no doubt the right hon. Gentleman knows, to all the highest officials in the land. If there are emigrants from those totalitarian States, they will be energetic missionaries for totalitarianism, they will be picked fanatics, bearing true allegiance to the rulers of their native land. They will not be men and women shaking themselves thankfully free from the bondage of the totalitarian States. Those, no doubt, would be welcome, but men and women broken on the wheel of the dictators are not likely to find either money or support for emigration.
I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to ponder this matter. He has mentioned the dangers which he sees of totalitarian or foreign political infiltration into our Dominions, but if Germany, Italy, or Japan were offered several million square miles of Dominion territory, would they leave it undeveloped? I feel that Hitler's 616 policy in this matter, whatever his methods—and those, no doubt, would be wrong—would be the right ones. These considerations lead me to one conclusion, namely, the necessity for immediate steps to people the Dominions with British stock. Let us aim to return as soon as possible to the figures of 1927. After all, we are in a period of rising prices, for as the right hon. Gentleman reported on the Inter-Departmental Committee, wheat has risen, wool has risen, and the positions are altering at the present time. Do not let us continually hang on the words of the Dominions. Let us urge them to collaborate and co-operate with us. The right hon. Gentleman must have all the data in the Dominions Office. There has been Commission after Commission; there have been Ministers of the Crown, he himself, the President of the Board of Trade, the right hon. Gentleman's junior Minister at the present time, and there have been representatives of the Oversea Settlement Board travelling in the Dominions for the last few years on several occasions. The data are there, and it is not for me, in my ignorance, which is obvious, to give the right hon. Gentleman any advice, but may I suggest that on the whole two important considerations have to be borne in mind?
Since the present downward trend of population does not favour emigration— that is admitted—cannot we seek in this matter the co-operation of the Irish Free State? We know that the United States are no longer open to Irish emigrants, and we know that they are coming into this country in great numbers. With a view to assisting emigration from that country to other Dominions, could not the right hon. Gentleman take some initiative? Only the other day I read in the papers that he met Mr. de Valera in order to settle difficulties that had arisen between the Free State and ourselves. I can imagine no greater bond between the two countries than our both trying to collaborate in the same effort of sending men of British stock to populate the Dominions across the seas, and I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he should be generous and possibly extend some of the financial benefits of this Bill to the citizens of the Free State if they are anxious to migrate to other Dominions.
Secondly, I want to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the 617 balance of sexes both in the Dominions and at home and to suggest that this balance should be equalised. In 1931— they are the last figures that I have— the women in Great Britain outnumbered the men by over 1,000,000, whereas in Canada the men outnumbered the women by 372,000, in Australia by 120,000, and in New Zealand by 29,000. In the Dominions the men outnumber the women and in this country the women outnumber the men, and I suggest that an efflux of potential mothers from this country to the Dominions would be of definite social advantage. I support this Bill as an encouragement of emigration, because I am concerned for the maintenance of the British Empire, and I am equally concerned with the establishment of world peace. Whatever the future history of the Empire may be, let us see to it that the main body of its population is composed of men and women bred in the traditions of freedom, liberty, and democracy; let us see to it that, whatever elements may strive to sow seeds of dissension and corruption in those territories, those seeds can never possibly flourish.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Sir Malcolm Barclay-Harvey
We have listened to two extremely interesting speeches from the hon. Members for Roth-well (Mr. Lunn) and the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild), and I should first like to say that I did not notice quite so much brotherly feeling in the views expressed by the Liberal party and the Labour party as I would have expected from two wings of what not long ago attempted to form a popular front in this country. The Liberal party, at any rate on this subject, are taking what, to my mind, is the sane point of view, and I welcome the support of the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely in so far as he is endeavouring to encourage migration throughout the Empire. He said that this Government had done nothing to encourage markets for Dominion produce in this country. That is entirely against the facts, because from 1932 till 1935 the increase in the purchases of this country from the Dominions was something like £37,000,000. That does not look as if we had done nothing. We are doing, and should do everything to encourage purchases from the Empire, providing we do not at the same time damage our own home producers. There is this point 618 about which I would remind the hon. Member when he talks of quotas. It is true that there has been an upward limit on the importation of meat from Australia, but it was only put on when the importation of meat from that Dominion reached the highest that has ever been known. If we had not done something of that sort we should definitely have sacrificed the interests of our own home producers, which we cannot do, even for the benefit of the Dominions producers.
The hon. Member for Rothwell said he had not listened to a more depressing statement on migration than that delivered by my right hon. Friend the Dominions Secretary. The hon. Member had not at that moment heard his own speech, which was very much more depressing than anything that fell from the Secretary of State. He wished to postpone this Bill for six months because there was no urgency for it at the present time. I will give him two cogent reasons why we should pass the Bill now. The first is that the existing Act will expire in a short time, and if we do not get on with the business we shall have a hiatus, and there will be no legislation dealing with this subject. The second reason is that we shall shortly have another Imperial Conference. This question of inter-Empire migration, or, as I prefer to call it, the better distribution of the British peoples within the Empire, is not merely a question for this country or any individual Dominion, but for the Empire as a whole, and, surely, if we were to allow the Act to expire, the Dominions, when they came to the Imperial Conference, might turn to us and say, "That is all the interest you take in this question." If, however, we follow the wise procedure of the Secretary of State and do all we can to put our house in order so as to be ready to take advantage of the opportunity when emigration can begin again, then at least we shall give them a lead in what I believe is the most important work in which any of us can take part at the present moment.
I agree with the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely that it is a pity we have had to reduce the sum from £3,000,000 to £1,500,000. It shows a degree of pessimism, if not for the immediate future, certainly for the more remote future. I should have liked to see the figure maintained because, as my hon. 619 and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) said, even if the money is not expended it will have been voted and no harm would have been done. I welcome the provision for giving a 75 per cent, grant in certain circumstances. My only regret is that it has not gone further and been made 75 per cent, all round. The argument is that if we do more for the Dominions than we expect them to do it looks as if we are trying to shift some of our unwanted people on to the Dominions. I do not look upon it in that light at all. There are definite reasons why it may be at certain times more to our advantage than to the advantage of the Dominions to resettle the Empire, and I believe that there are conditions under which our trade may benefit more than theirs by migration. If that is so, there is a clear case for our paying a larger share than the Dominions for the settlement of our people.
We have been asked by hon. Members opposite why we should go in for any policy of Empire settlement at all. The hon. Member for Rothwell is not one of these, for he requires no convincing. There is an overpowering reason, and in giving it I must cover some of the ground so admirably covered by the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely. Do we or do we not believe in the ideals for which the British Empire, and more particularly the British people in the Empire, stand? If we do we must believe in the better distribution of and the increase in the population of the Empire. It is difficult to give an exact estimate of the number of British people in our Empire, but, on the figures I have, I should put it at something like 66,000,000. That is the same number as that of the Germans in Germany. It is about half the number of Americans in the United States, and it is a small proportion of the numbers in such nations as Russia and China. The point I want to make—and it is, in part, a plea for an increase in our birth rate—is that if we are to maintain those ideals of democracy and freedom to which we attach so much importance, we have to maintain our relative numerical position in the world; and the only way to do that is by developing the present more or less undeveloped parts of the Empire. We have 46,000,000 people in this country, and I join issue with those who would 620 like to see the British race for ever cribbed, cabined and confined within these islands. We have already reached saturation point, and we must make better use of the other parts of the Empire. While I appreciate the figures mentioned by my right hon. Friend and appreciate that, in the main, it is a question for the Dominions to settle when migration should start, and not for us, at the same time we ought to be doing all we can to prepare for it. It is of immense importance, not only to the Empire but to the world at large, for the British people have a great part to play in the preservation of peace and of the ideals of democracy and freedom for which they have always stood.
The hon. Member for Rothwell made a great point of the fact that he disliked child migration. I do not know whether he was referring to the Fairbridge Farm schools—
§ Sir M. Barclay-Harvey
I am glad to see that he was not, because there is no doubt that the Fairbridge Farm schools are doing work of great national importance. Last September I had the opportunity of visiting the most recently established school, that at Vancouver, and I want to pay my tribute to the way they are doing their work. The houses in which the children live are very good. The children are put in charge of what they call the house-mother; the whole school is under a most competent and sympathetic individual and people in the neighbourhood take a keen interest in the children. They have an Englishman to help in the games, and I have never seen a happier and healthier looking lot of children. I could not help feeling how much happier they were there than they would be in some of the towns of this country. While I appreciate the difficulties of putting children into private homes, I think that the younger we can get people to go out to the countries in which they will live, the more hope there will be of their becoming useful and happy members of the community to which they go.
The whole question of the settlement of British population throughout the spaces of the Empire is of particular importance just now because, although we have got the opportunity now, we shall 621 not have it for ever. We cannot stand in the way of increasing world population and keep vast portions of the globe unoccupied because we are not energetic enough to occupy them. We or the Dominions have to see that these spaces are filled in a reasonable time by British people, or we shall have Hitler, Mussolini, and other foreign dictators saying, "We are going to send our people there." I want to see British people given first chance and we have to take that chance before it is too late, so that we can build up in the wider spaces of Empire that type of British people who are needed to maintain our traditions of domocracy and freedom.
§ 5.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Bellenger
The sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild) and the last speaker are, no doubt, admirable, but I want to put this point to them. Do they think that it is possible for this country to retain the wonderful Empire about which they speak so much at a cost of the £1,500,000 per year which has been put into this Bill? Do they think it is possible that dictators such as Mussolini and Hitler will be influenced by the admirable sentiments that were expressed by the hon. Member who spoke last? When I listened to the Minister speaking to-day and on Tuesday I was aghast. It used to be said that the Liberal party were the chief exponents of laissez faire, but now the mantle seems to have fallen on to the shoulders of the Dominions Secretary. When I came to the House to-day I received a pamphlet which bears on the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman. He said something about populating the Dominions with good British stock. Is not that lovely, wonderful! Let us, however, examine the truth. Let us not deal only with words. I will give the figures for the six months to 30th June, 1936. I have no reason to doubt their authenticity. I will give the figures and compare them with the right hon. Gentleman's sentiments. These show that 5,252 migrants went into Canada, of which 912 consisted of that good honest British stock of which the right hon. Gentleman talks. Then he comes to the House and tells us that we are going to improve these figures with a paltry £1,500,000 per year.
§ Mr. Bellenger
I will give the reasons why I shall vote against this milk-and-water Bill. We in the Labour party have just as much interest in populating the Commonwealth as any hon. Member opposite. The mass of people that have gone out are our own flesh and blood and mostly come from the working class. We have every reason for wishing to see the Commonwealth populated. We have no wish to see those ideologies, to which reference has been made, that are common in certain countries of Europe spreading to our Dominions, because we know only too well that if they spread there they will come sooner or later to this country. Candidly, we fear those philosophies. Let us compare the prewar situation. We must study this 'subject from an objective point of view if we are to reach any solution. I do not want to indulge in mere debating points, but to give the reasons why I shall vote against this Bill, and why I ask hon. Members in other parts of the House, if they have the courage of their convictions, also to vote against it.
In the 60 years which preceded the War some 50,000,000 emigrants, not British alone, went to countries overseas. It is a remarkable fact, in view of the financial terms of this Bill, that the majority of those emigrants were not assisted by Government schemes such as are suggested by the right hon. Gentleman to-night as the main solution for our Empire settlement problem. Why did they emigrate? They left their countries in Europe to go overseas because they were attracted by the better conditions offered in those countries. Vast tracts of land were being opened up, communications were being improved, and the industrialisation of those countries was taking place at a rapid rate. Those countries were mainly North and South America, Australia and New Zealand. Before the War nearly 630,000 Italian emigrants left their country, but 40 per cent, went no farther than the industrialised European countries; the larger 623 proportion of the balance went to North America. In the middle of the nineteenth century Germany was sending large numbers of her people abroad, but as Germany began to increase her industrialisation, towards the end of the nineteenth century, the number of her emigrants steadily declined.
I think that bears out what I say, that emigration depends not so much on Government schemes of this nature, or the work of voluntary societies, however useful they may be, as upon there being better economic conditions abroad; and I say that if the Government were really interested in this matter, if the right hon. Gentleman himself, who has seen something of this Empire, of which he talks, were keenly interested, he would do something to persuade his colleagues to alter the policy they have been following for the past five years. Let me give one or two more illustrations. In Eritrea, in the 50 years before the Italian conquest of Abyssinia, there were only about 4,500 Italians, of whom the majority were Government officials and their families. Of this number fewer than 100 families were engaged in earning their living there from agriculture. The same tale applies to Libya, another Italian Colony, In 1934 all that Italy sent to Libya was 90 Italian families. And that year 20,000 more British people returned from British overseas territories than went there to seek work, and yet in 1934 we had double the sum of money at our disposal, under the Act of 1922, than is advocated by the right hon. Gentleman in his Bill to-day.
I suggest seriously that this problem of migration cannot be settled in the way the right hon. Gentleman has advocated. The root causes of the cessation of migration, some of which the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely has touched upon, go far deeper and are more profound. I say, and not only do I say it, but economic experts are agreed upon it, that the cessation of migration is due to the cessation of international lending and of the flow of international funds between country and country, because by this Government's policy of tariffs and quotas the volume of trade has been reduced. It is a well known fact that the volume of trade has decreased by something like two-thirds in the last five years.
§ Mr. Bellenger
No, I do not think that import boards would have the same effect as tariffs and quotas. If the hon. Member really understood that subject he would know that it is one of the remedies which the Socialist party put forward for properly controlling and planning trade on an expansive basis, not on the restrictive basis of tariffs and protection and the other measures introduced by this Government.
§ Sir H. Croft
Would the hon. Member justify his statement about the tremendous decline in the volume of trade between this country and. the Dominions in the last five years?
§ Mr. Bellenger
I have already given the reasons. The restriction in the flow of international lending, and international trade consequent thereupon, has resulted in that restriction in the volume of trade.
§ Mr. Bellenger
Oh, no, it has not. The volume of trade has undoubtedly decreased, and hon. Members know that.
§ Mr. Bellenger
I maintain that that is the real reason for the cessation of emigration. There is no question as to whether it is right that British people should have the first choice of settling in our Dominions. I think I am just as patriotic a Britisher as any hon. Gentleman sitting opposite. After all, I did fight for my King and country in days gone post; whatever the misguided motives I fought for, I did it; and, therefore, I think I can make some claim to patriotism, and say that it is not a monopoly of hon. Members opposite. But I say that the world is changing, and changing fast, and I do not think it will be possible for this country, which owns something like a quarter of the world's surface, to continue its old Imperialistic ideas for ever. I think the solution of the migration problem does not depend only on British infiltration into our Dominions, much as I would desire it, and I would encourage venturesome young men to go there, but I know only too well that if we are to shut out countries like Germany and Italy 625 —and they have virile races, in spite of their ideologies, with which I disagree —from our Dominions and Colonies, there is going to be one result only. Hon. Members know it, and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has warned this House what it will end in—one thing only, and that is war. When it comes to populating our Dominions, I would prefer, if it is at all possible, and I believe it is, to see some co-operation between other countries and this country. We know that in Australia, for example, there are large colonies of Italians, and I have listened to speakers before the Empire Parliamentary Association who have told us that those men are excellent workmen and good Australian citizens, and I have no doubt that in time they will become as good British stock as was mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman.
Another failing about this Bill is that it seems impossible for the right hon. Gentleman to give us any constructive ideas. He is sterile when it comes to the production of virile ideas, either for Empire settlement or any other problem of this nature; he is certainly lacking in the fertile imagination for which this immense problem calls if it is to be properly tackled. He and the Government are barren of any form of initiative in discussing with the Dominions a policy which could be presented to this House and would be a really live policy. The Government and the right hon. Gentleman are apathetic in this matter. They take it for granted that nothing can be done under this Bill, and that we must wait on the Dominions to give us a lead. The right hon. Gentleman's own words last week were:We must wait on conditions in the Dominions; we must wait on opinion in the Dominions. We may have our preparations ready here"—which I rather doubt—but it is for the Dominions to say the word 'go'."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th Jan., 1937; col. 47, Vol. 319.]To-day he has emphasised that by saying the responsibility is theirs. Is it? Is the responsibility entirely that of the Dominions, when hon. and right hon. Members opposite boast about this wonderful Empire which they say is our birthright? I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman could do something far more effective to settle this problem if he would take the initiative in discussions with the 626 Dominions. In considering this problem have hon. Members reflected upon Palestine? There was a country which was absolutely depopulated, if you like. At any rate, there were few members of the Jewish race there, but as a result of the Balfour Declaration, and of making that a new home for the Jews, Palestine has flourished in the last few years. Palestine seems to have settled this problem in a much more effective manner than the right hon. Gentleman is proposing that we should settle our Empire problems. I feel that to-day we are witnessing, in both home and foreign affairs, the steady deterioration of this country, and I put that down to the existence of this Government. It is the price we have to pay for a Coalition Government.
This Bill is, in effect, merely a subsidy to the voluntary organisations which are carrying on this work of inducing people to go to the Dominions. I do not suggest that the work of these societies is negligible, or that it is of no use whatever, but I do say that it is lamentable that the Government cannot propose something which would be more effective than the efforts of any number of voluntary societies with land settlement schemes. I do not think it is possible that we shall be able to do it in the future with subsidies. The right hon. Gentleman himself has told us that in the last 10 years only 3 per cent, of land settlement schemes accounted for any large number of settlers. What I say to hon. Members who are constantly pressing on the Government the need for the increased production of food in this country, so that we may be safe in time of danger, is this: It seems strange that you should want to send overseas so many of our best people, either our best industrialists or our best agriculturists. I have listened to speakers before the Empire Parliamentary Association, who have told us what a wonderful place Kenya is, what an equitable climate it has and how suitable for agriculture, but why should we send our agriculturists to Kenya when hon. Members are constantly telling the Government that we need as many of them as we can get in this country in order to increase our own home food supplies?
The White Paper which was offered to us in explanation of the Financial Resolution is an insult to the intelligence of the 627 House. Just think of it. On this subject, which the right hon. Gentleman told us is so vitally important to this country, he brings us a White Paper of a sheet and a half, explaining what? Explaining that he reduces the sum the Government is providing under the Act of 1922 for Empire settlement from £3,000,000 to £1,500,000. He goes on to say in this White Paper that the average cost of assistance under agreed schemes of all kinds was estimated at aproximately £11 per assisted migrant—£11 per head to send part of our population abroad to those wonderful lands which form our Empire. I wonder whether hon. Members have thought for one moment what it costs to keep a man in enforced idleness in this country. Considerably more than £11, I should have thought. I should have thought also that if the Government really intended a policy of sending good British stock to our Dominions they would have been able to place at disposal for that purpose a sum better than £11 per assisted migrant. The White Paper is a series of platitudes, such as the right hon. Gentleman indulged in to-night and on Tuesday of last week.
If Germany and Italy want any justification for their demands for a place in the sun and the right to colonise some of those empty spaces, this White Paper is ample evidence of the validity of their demands. The right hon. Gentleman told us that he has been advised to adopt bold measures. I doubt very much whether the right hon. Gentleman is capable of any bold measures. The only time in his political career that I remember his adopting a measure which might be called bold was in 1935 when he sought re-election for the Bassetlaw constituency of Nottinghamshire; but he met with very little success in his venture on that occasion. Then what did he do? He migrated to more northern latitudes; and he met with more success. I must say one thing in the right hon. Gentleman's favour which cannot be said for many of those who have gone beyond the seas, is that since he sat for Ross and Cromarty he has certainly been able to keep himself in very good employment.
I shall vote against the Bill to-night because it is a milk-and-water affair. It is not something of which Britishers can be proud when they talk about their 628 Empire. But before resuming my seat I would utter one word of warning in all sincerity to this House. I know the German people, and I read a lot about the Italian nation. As I have informed this House, their political ideas, and even some of their economic ideas, are entirely opposed to mine and those of the party to which I belong, but there is one thing which I must say about those peoples, led by their present leaders. They are determined upon a certain policy and they have told you that they are determined to have colonies, by negotiation if possible, and if not by negotiation by more drastic measures. How do you think you will be able to stop those virile nations when they are determined to force the pace? Will you be able to stop them by voting for this Bill to-night? Will you be able to stop them at the cost of £1,500,000 per annum? I think not. Where will your Empire be then? Where will be this wonderful British Empire which we won at the point of the sword, and which, it seems from the utterances of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, we are not prepared to defend, if necessary, by the sword?
Finally, I would state my own opinions quite briefly in this matter of Empire settlement, because I want the House to be under no misapprehension. I believe in it. If I were a young man without any encumbrances or domestic ties, I would like to go to some of those countries overseas where they take a man at his worth and his character, and at his moral value, and where they do not ask who his father was or what school he attended in his younger days. I would be glad to go, as many more of my countrymen have gone, with nothing else but their hands or their brains with which to win their livelihood or their fortune. I should be only too glad to be in those countries where they have elbow room and plenty of fresh air, and where, so far, they have no slums or such depressing problems as we in this older country have, with all our traditions and our class privileges. I should be glad to go to some of those Dominions and try my luck there, but I should not be prepared to go with the backing of the right hon. Gentleman and his Bill to amend the Empire Settlement Act of 1922.
§ 5.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Mabane
The hon. Member has treated the House in his speech to a 629 succession of inconsistencies, and it seemed to me that he had his eye upon the political platform outside. First, the hon. Member said that he did not believe that migration would be developed by assisted schemes on the part of the Government. Then, although so far as I am aware, it is not the habit of Labour speakers in the country to recommend their supporters to accept assistance to enable them to migrate to the Colonies, the hon. Member desired to attack the Government for this "milk-and-water Bill" and said that this proposal was not likely to help to develop the population of the Dominions in such ways that those countries looking for fresh lands would be induced to keep away. His arguments were utterly inconsistent, and of very little value as a contribution to a solution of the problem. He referred to the migration of my right hon. Friend from Bassetlaw. It occurred to me, after listening to the two speeches, that that migration might have been rather unfortunate for Bassetlaw.
I welcome the Bill because it reduces the amount which the Government may spend on Empire. Settlement from £3,000,000 to a limit of £1,500,000. The only part of the Bill which causes me misgiving is that which enables the Government to increase from 50 to 75 per cent, the amount which they may give to certain schemes. Anyone who has made a study of this problem must agree that the history of migration since the War has been unfortunate. To read the successive annual reports of the Overseas Settlement Board is to read not a record of success but a record of failure. The efforts that have been made to develop migration since the War have resulted in the creation of a succession of difficulties for the Government of this country and the Governments of the Dominions. Those Governments, and particularly the Government of this country, have discovered that when they assist migration they assume a liability which is not ended when the migrant lands at the other end. These difficulties (of which we have heard a great deal from time to time in the House) are properly laid at the door of the Governments concerned. It is not the fault of the stubborn people who refuse to emigrate, or of those who, having emigrated, have failed to make good, that migration has not been more successful since the 630 War. It is entirely the fault of the policy of the Governments concerned.
When I hear some of the advocates of Empire development and migration speak in this House, I am filled with the fear that if the Government attempt in the future to develop migration by assisted schemes they will be led into the old bad ways. I am sometimes sorry that those who advocate migration in this country from the right wing of the Conservative party are so obviously sincere, because it makes it more difficult to attack them with the vigour they deserve. Views are expressed on the problem of migration which render the greatest possible disservice to the cause of migration, and which have an influence on action which is almost wholly bad. I entirely agreed with the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) when he said that were he a young man without any easy opportunity before him for advancement in this country he would pack his bag and go to the Dominions. I should do the same. I am entirely convinced that for every young man and woman of ability the Dominions offer opportunities far greater than any which exist in this country. I should not need any assisted passage to a Dominion to set me on my way. I should know, however, that I was not going to a soft option but to something that was extremely tough. Yet most young men and women in this country do not look upon the Dominions in that way. They do not look upon them as lands of great opportunity. I attribute that mainly to the manner in which migration has been advocated in this country, both in this House and outside, and, secondly, to the methods which have been adopted since the War by home and Dominions Governments to stimulate migration.
The cardinal error—I think it is almost a crime—has been, and in some cases still is, to relate the problem of migration to the problem of unemployment. It is the worst possible thing to do to create the impression, either here or abroad, that we are interested in migration only as a convenient way of getting rid of our unemployed and of lessening our own difficulties. In recent debates on this subject I notice that there has not been so much mention of that aspect of the matter but I thought I heard the hon. Member for Elland (Mr. Levy) make one 631 or two comments which seemed to indicate that he had in mind a kind of equation between migration and unemployment in this country. Surely it is the worst of all possible appeals to the unemployed to tell them, or to imply, that we want to get rid of them. They naturally will take the view that they do not want to be got rid of.
§ Mr. Mabane
I gather from the hon. Member's disclaimer that he does not regard it as a proper appeal that we should advocate migration as a means of reducing our own figure of unemployment. I am very glad to hear it and I hope that, in future, he will make no suggestion that that is his view. I am very glad to have that disclaimer. My second reason is that it is the worst of all possible appeals because it undoubtedly creates bitter resentment in the Dominions. The Dominions, hearing suggestions that we want to get rid of our unemployed in this country, immediately translate the word "unemployed" into "unemployable" and then imagine that we wish to send them our unemployables. They naturally resent being used as a dumping ground. The third and best reason of all is that the problem of migration and the problem of unemployment have nothing in common at all. It is a fallacy to suppose that if we can persuade our unemployed to emigrate we shall destroy the problem of unemployment. Nothing could be more fantastically untrue.
In this connection, I hope I am not misquoting or misinterpreting the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft). I seem to remember that, in a speech he made either in this House or out of it a year or two ago, he produced an interesting equation, something like this: He took the normal figure of migration before the War, and he observed a deficiency in post-war years as compared with that pre-war normal figure. He then added up the annual figures and found that the total of that deficiency was roughly equal to the number of unemployed, and from that he drew the inference that, if the pre-war rate of migration had continued, our unemployment problem would have 632 been virtually non-existent to-day. He does not deny that, and so I take it that that is the view that he desired to express. I think that it is too fantastic to merit refutation.
§ Sir H. Croft
I cannot allow the hon. Gentleman to get away with it in that way. I stated, the relevant fact that 2,000,000 men left this country during those years of migration, and that is why I said that, if that rate of migration had been maintained, our unemployment problem would have been practically wiped out.
§ Mr. Mabane
The first fact stated by the hon. and gallant Gentleman is, as to figures, quite true. The second suggested alleged fact is utterly without foundation, namely, that if the normal pre-war figure of migration had been continued there would be no problem of unemployment to-day, because, in so far as you are emigrating men, you are emigrating demand, and you are transferring your economic problem to another part of the country or to another section of the working population. I am rather surprised to learn that the hon. and gallant Baronet continues to argue that there is a relation between unemployment and the problem of migration, but, whether there is a relation or not, it ought not to be referred to if we do not want to annoy Dominion Governments. Unfortunately those who have argued in this way have done their work so well, and created an impression so deep, that it is going to be difficult to obliterate it and get migration back on a rational basis. I think there is a further unfortunate consequence—It has tended to make migration in this country into a political issue. In my view it is most unfortunate that migration should have become a political issue, and that there should appear to be in this country one section who are saying to another section "Get out of the country," whereas the other section quite naturally replies "We are blest if we will." Unfortunately, that is the kind of argument that has often been heard, and it has not helped the problem of migration. In the Dominions the attitude in regard to this argument is expressed in many ways. I found it expressed very soberly in an illuminating volume, "The Peopling of Australia," by Mr. G. L. Wood, who is Senior Economic Lecturer at Melbourne. He said: 633The attention now focused upon the problems is undoubtedly due to the protracted period of industrial depression in Great Britain, and migration is regarded as the best means of relieving the severe unemployment.That may or may not be true, but it is there expressed by an Australian of standing. It is expressed less soberly by Australians who were born there, the "Dinkum Aussies," when they speak of each fresh batch of migrants—"Pommies," they call them—as competitors for their jobs. Moreover, this view of the problem of migration pays very little attention to the social and economic outlook in the Dominions. The social and economic outlook is in many respects different from our own. In Australia they have quite different views on population, and quite different views on the standard of life, from those held in this country. The hon. Member for Kincardine (Sir M. Barclay-Harvey) submitted the argument for "more population." He seemed to wish the House to believe that at any given moment it is better to have an increasing population. The Australians refuse to subscribe to that view. They say they have a great country, and they have to discover what is the "optimum population" for that land, as the phrase goes. They want, in other words, to discover what population they can accommodate so that all can have the highest possible standard of living. The Australians are not in the least impressed by the argument for more migrants, and, moreover, they are jealous of their standard of life.
In Canada the attitude is similar in some respects, different in others. The Canadians also have a high standard, and they wish to protect it. But, on the other hand, curiously enough, there is often a complaint that those who go into Canada from this country will not accept low enough wages. That is one of the explanations why the migration to Canada is so heavy from countries in Central and Eastern Europe. I would ask the Minister to take up with the Canadian Government this matter of assisted emigration encouraged by the great transport companies particularly from Central and Eastern Europe, which is resulting in so many migrants into Canada being of non-British origin. However, I feel it is important that those who talk about migration should bear in mind the different 634 social and economic outlook of the Dominions.
No less disastrous than this peculiar attitude of mind, I believe, are the methods that have been adopted by the Governments to stimulate the flow of migration since the War. I can claim to have studied this problem on the spot. I went out to Australia with one of the last batches of assisted migrants, I followed their fortunes for some time after they reached Australia, I visited settlers under almost every scheme in Australia and, perhaps less comprehensively, in Canada. After my experience of studying at first hand the conditions under which migrants went out, I found myself, after it all, in a white heat of indignation at the reckless manner in which migration had been managed since the War. I would except from that general indictment most of the voluntary societies that have been assisting in the work. Most of the societies are concerned with special classes of migration, and are a little more careful. I found that most of the assisted schemes had come to grief, and that most of them had originally been presented in a manner that almost asked for failure. What stimulated my anger more than anything else was to find the manner in which the migrants had been attracted.
If we are going to begin again to consider this problem of migration, it is time enough now for someone to implore the Government not to make the mistakes that were committed in those years before 1931. I have a fairly extensive collection of the publicity matter that was used at that time to attract migrants to the Dominions. Most of it is terrible. Most of it ought never to have been issued at all. I found that my views on it were shared by our own officials. After all they have the job of reconciling the dreams of the high-speed salesmen of migration with the business of assisting the migrants to settle when they get to the Dominions. They were anxious that the Government publicity should correspond a good deal more closely with the truth than was the case in those early years. Last week the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Baxter) grew lyrical on this matter of migration. He asked:Where is character born? Not by the hopeless looking from day to day 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 635 rain."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th January, 1937; col. 62, Vol. 319.]Exactly. He is from one of the great Dominions, and he ought to know what builds character in the Dominions. But is that the appeal made to the intending emigrant? I have a few samples. Let us see what they say. Here is one:NEW SOUTH WALES, THE LAND OF SUNSHINE AND OPPORTUNITY.It is,I read,briefly, a land with all the elements that make for human happiness, and full with those golden opportunities that enable the humblest and the poorest to achieve distinction and to acquire wealth by the application of their energy and talents.Then here is another, entitled "Boy Settlement in Canada." I read this counsel to the boy:Why should one select farming in Canada as a life pursuit? Because it offers all the advantages which have already been set down as contributing to real success. There is first the prospect of a good financial return from the very beginning. It must not be supposed that farming in Canada involves a life of hardship and isolation. It is true there is hard physical work at certain seasons of the year, but with modern labour-saving machinery there is little drudgery. And isolation has disappeared with good roads, the universal use of the motor car and the equally universal radio and rural telephone.At the end the compiler permits himself this sentence about life on the farm:It is also quite likely that there is an automobile on which the boy may ride on business or pleasure,and the page is decorated with a picture ofOne of Nova Scotia's many beautiful ocean beaches.Where are the wind and the rain and the snow? Certainly, in one pamphlet, I found the snow. I found it under the heading:The Promised Land.
§ Mr. Mabane
I think this publication very well deserves that remark. The snow is referred to in this way:And when winter comes it comes with snow that covers the hills with beauty for the whole of December to March.That, I think, is one of the most amazing phrases that I have every found in any piece of publicity about migration. That is the only reference, perhaps, that the 636 migrant has the opportunity of reading to the striking climatic changes which he has to face when he goes to Canada, and to face with shock and surprise, that period, when for five or six months of the year the land is locked up, frozen, when there is no farming, and when, if the farm worker has an all-the-year-round contract, wages are very low in winter, while if he has not an all-the-year-round contract he has to make the best living he can by lumbering, railroad track work, or snow shifting. That is the sort of publicity which was issued in the years before the assisted migration scheme came to an end, and which, in my view, was substantially responsible for many of the difficulties that befell the Governments here and in the Dominions. When one spoke to the migrants about it, it was not so much that they minded the conditions they had to face, but that the facts about those conditions had not been put before them at all accurately.
Further, I think it is most important that, if we are going to engage in any form of assisted migration in the future, we should not merely give to intending migrants information about the physical conditions that they will have to face, but also information about the different attitude to life which is to be found in the Dominions. It is bad enough for a boy to go to Queensland not knowing that Queensland is tropical, but it is worse still for migrants to go to the Dominions not knowing the ruthless hardness of the attitude to life in the Dominions, in not knowing there is no paternalism, that a man must sink or swim and that, if he sinks, then, on the whole no one much cares, that it is the rule in the Dominions, or has been until fairly lately, that if a man fails to make good he is a waster, because up to the present it has been pretty well true. Let them know, if they go, that there is no great network of social insurance to support the industrial casualty. The great majority of migrants under these assisted schemes did not know these elementary facts. They did not know that there was no unemployment insurance, nor national health insurance.
I implore the right hon. Gentleman, if he intends once more to assist any form of migration, to insist that there shall be no chance of any connection between unemployment and migration, and that nothing but the plain, bald, rough truth 637 shall be told. I am satisfied that the facts about the Dominions are so good that, if they are told accurately, not fewer but more people would be attracted to migration, and more of the right kind of person.
I should like to see the appeal of the Dominions made an appeal, not to those who are doing badly to escape, but to those who are doing well to go and do better. The Dominions provide the opportunities for those who are doing well to do better, and the record of successful settlers is sufficient proof of that. There is a record of successful settlers which has even survived the schemes of assisted migration which I have on the whole been condemning, but I am sure those successful settlers have succeeded in spite of, rather than because of, the schemes that were inaugurated by the Government. I have come to the conclusion, after as careful a study as I can make of the problem, that on the whole assisted migration is bad migration. I should like to see migration spontaneous.
§ Mr. Mabane
Clearly the Government needs considerable money even to finance the schemes that are already in being. I should oppose any proposal to increase the amount, if that is the answer that the hon. Member wants. I would ask the Government, if it means to engage in any further schemes, to apply two tests. Is migration to the advantage of the migrant and is it to the advantage of the community to which the migrant is going? They are the only two tests that are relevant to the problem. One test that never appeals to me is whether the migration proposed is for the advantage of the community that the migrant is leaving. It seems to me to be an argument that we ought never to use, because it is bound to get us into trouble with the Dominions.
I have been interested to observe the reaction of the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. A. Somerville) to a proposed migration into his constituency at White Waltham. In this House he is a stalwart advocate of migration, yet in this matter of White Waltham he is somewhat in the position of a Dominion. He has vast open spaces at White Waltham. It is proposed that there shall be a migration 638 into those vast open spaces. He himself is commonly an advocate of filling up open spaces in the Dominions, but in this instance he is in opposition. He will, no doubt, now be able to appreciate the attitude of the Dominions. He does not want migration into his area. I think that might assist him to appreciate that the tests I have suggested are the only tests that could be applied. It appears to me that there are three good reasons why we ought to be very careful about developing schemes of assisted migration at the moment. The first is that the Dominions want, not our worst but our best men. At this time of day we can barely spare our best men. Second, they want agricultural workers. That is the population that we can least happily lose. Third, the Dominions want youths and maidens. Already there is almost a dearth of labour of that kind in the country. Those are the people we can least well spare. With the prospect ahead of us of a declining population, before long the position may be reversed, and people who are now taking one point of view may well be taking another. There may be a Debate not long hence when Members in this House will be resisting the demands of the Dominions for us to send them population because we shall say that in face of the prospective decline we cannot spare the men. Therefore, I urge the right hon. Gentleman both to persist in his present course and to be extremely cautious in considering any schemes of assisted migration, and I ask him, if he must engage in such schemes, to bear in mind the catastrophes, and indeed the tragedies, that occurred in those years up to 1929 and 1930.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ Sir H. Croft
I think the House will be a little disappointed with the jeremiad to which we have listened, because we have heard from the hon. Gentleman, who always leads his party on this question, a speech of great sympathy for this problem. It is rather sad that a discordant note has come across the Debate in what was otherwise a most happy reunion of all parties. The only two reasons that I could gather why the hon. Gentleman has tabled his Amendment are that possibly in the future there may be some possibility of child migration and that he is sorry that this is brought on so early in the Session. I hope that, after he has 639 dined, he will reconsider his decision to go into the Lobby against the Bill. The hon. Member who spoke last read out a great number of tracts, all of which we must deplore, but he spoke as if it was the fault of some Government in this country—the Government of to-day or a Government of yesterday which had published those pamphlets.
§ Mr. Mabane
If the hon. Member really likes, I can give him examples of publications by this Government which almost put those to shame.
§ Sir H. Croft
The hon. Member took me severely to task because of a phrase that I used some time ago when I said that there was very great migration from this country in the 10 years prior to the War. He said I ought not to use that argument as if it had any relation to the fact that, had there been a similar movement of migration since the War, it would have greatly helped the unemployment position. I said that, supposing that figure had gone on, it would have rendered our unemployment problem practically negligible. May I ask the hon. Gentleman this question? Had those 2,000,000 not migrated in those years, does he deny that the unemployment figures before the War would have been very much greater?
§ Sir H. Croft
I must leave it to the House to decide whether the hon. Member's logic is better than mine. I should like to say, one word in regard to the speech of the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger). He used some very interesting phrases, but I was a little disappointed at his descending from a high level of a general attack to back-chat with regard to his experiences in a certain constituency. I am grateful to him for the packets of ginger that he handed out to the Government in other parts of his speech. It was difficult for anyone listening carefully quite to decide what he meant. First of all, he criticised the Government for introducing this puny Measure and asked whether Mussolini and Hitler—he almost assumed the attitude of those two great men—would tolerate an expenditure of £1,500,000. Yet later on he suggested that he did not 640 want to encourage people to go to the Dominions.
§ Mr. Bellenger
The hon. and gallant Gentleman misunderstood me. I should not discourage people going to the Dominions if there were suitable opportunities.
§ Sir H. Croft
That is what I was going to say. At the end of his speech he came back to his original theme and apparently, when he sat down, he was in favour of migration and would like to see it encouraged. It was difficult to follow what he meant. He said that the reason emigration had ceased was the economic policy of the Government, which had shut out so much trade from the Empire overseas. It may comfort him to know that, since Ottawa, our exports to the Empire overseas increased in the last year, compared with 1931, when the party above the Gangway were responsible, by £34,000,000, and our imports from the Empire by £39,000,000. The House should not be deflected from the main purpose of migration owing to what the hon. Member said in that respect. I welcome the Bill, not because it satisfies me. It is, indeed, but a little one but, if it was not brought in at all, the position would be that the Dominion Prime Ministers would be sailing for the conference with no knowledge of what the Government was going to do and it would have been intolerable not to continue the existing Measure and to allow them no opportunity of discussing with their Cabinets before they crossed the ocean to hear the possibilities in the future under the old Act.
§ Mr. Lunn
I should have supported the continuance of the Empire Settlement Act as it is to-day, but I object to the idea of increasing to 75 per cent, the grant from the United Kingdom to give more to the voluntary societies and to restart the migration of young children to Canada.
§ Sir H. Croft
The fact remains that the hon. Gentleman complained of the Government reducing the total sum and he objects to the fact that the Government takes power to increase the grant from 50 to 75 per cent, in certain cases. Those objections are not sufficient to take his party into the Lobby against a Measure without which the Dominions could not come here with any definite proposals 641 whatever. The fact remains that it is not the actual amount in the amending Bill—I made my protest about that—but the spirit in which the Government are to work which is the matter of vital concern. The Cabinets of successive Governments have never put this question forward as a first-class political issue. It has always been treated as a side issue. It has never had its real merits recognised, and I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for the fact that he expressly said in his speech to-day that it was a subject of immense importance. I do not think that I am exaggerating what he said when I say that it ought to be kept in the forefront of our political life. If His Majesty's Government are prepared to go forward in the spirit which was indicated in the words of the right hon. Gentleman, I think they will find that this subject will cause interest throughout the country and they will receive support from all parties.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild) delivered a speech with a great deal of which I personally agree. It was one of the rare occasions on which I have ever had that felicity, but he stated a great many truths in remarkably felicitous language. Whatever the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Mabane) may say, it is going to be extraordinarily difficult for us under whatever scheme, to employ at least 1,000,000 of the balance of our unemployed. I think that that will be generally agreed. In spite of the great progress since 1931, and of our hopes for an improvement in the position in the near future, it must be clear that there is still going to be quite 1,000,000 people unemployed, and it may be true that of that number some 500,000 will be unemployable. It is for that other 500,000, perhaps 750,000, for whom I am pleading. It is true that the indications are that our population may be static, and may possibly go down in a few years' time. Is not that all the more reason why we should give this generation a chance? For 10 years we have talked about this subject, and a large number of our people (many of whom I know from personal experience and from pitiful letters) who have desired to try their fortunes overseas, have been precluded from that opportunity. For another 10 years at any rate, we could do a great service to this 642 section of our countrymen, if we could get some big migration movement going.
The second consideration which I want to put briefly before the House is that of the Dominions themselves. I rather gathered that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Huddersfield said that he did not think that Australia thought much in terms of increasing their population. They will have to do so. I believe that the friendship between the Dominions and ourselves is much greater than some people imagine. It is sometimes right to talk straight to fellow citizens overseas. They will have to consider their population. All Dominions will have to consider it; otherwise they will have the moral censure of the, world as a whole against them, while hungry nations are demanding an exit for their populations, if they do not take steps to develop. I know something of the British Empire also. There are signs that the world is recovering. I do not believe in this pessimism of always saying that "Nothing is going to get right again; come back in 10 or 20 years, and then we will talk about this question," as the predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman did. It was said, "What is the good of talking about migration when wheat is at its present price?" Have we not been told over and over again that the price of wheat goes in cycles? We lost a great opportunity of planning for new production in the Empire when we could have bought land for a song, and to-day, would we not be thankful indeed if the number of wheat producers in the Empire were increased? The population of Australia within the next 50 years might quite easily be increased by 12,000,000 and that of Canada by 20,000,000. I do not think that that is an exaggeration, if you take the history of the United States of America, and provided the world comes back into full swing of production, and of buying and selling.
The right hon. Gentleman, I am sure is wrong, when he suggests that we must wait for the proposals to come from the Dominions. The lead must come from this country. You are not going to get any real answre to this question until you have put forward definite suggestions for restarting migration. We thank him for the information he has given us in regard to the Governments of the Dominions, but I think we would find the population in the Dominions would 643 be much stronger on this subject than is contemplated. I was severely taken to task by the hon. Member for Hudders-field for the plan I propounded, which my friends helped to work out, and he said that great harm had been done in the Dominions by those proposals. I took the trouble not long ago to ascertain what sort of criticism was drawn up against that scheme. It was rather interesting to find that there were over 573 references to that scheme in the various Dominions overseas, and there, were only seven hostile criticisms. Therefore, I am not one who believes that the old idea of reopening migration is one which is disapproved of in the Dominions, and I believe that if the Government of this country were to give a lead, as they have always done in big questions in the Empire in the past, we should find a very real response.
The hon. Gentleman mentioned the migration to Canada, and this is the other point to which I wish to refer. When we say that no migration is possible, I want the House to realise that other countries take the trouble to have their reception organisation in Canada, and also their organisations in their own country. They link up the settlers in Canada with their home countries in Europe. We do hardly anything in this respect. It is true that in the first six months of last year our migrants entering Canada numbered something like 911, and the total of migrants from foreign countries was over 2,000, and there were 2,000, of origin unknown, who probably came over the border from the United States of America. It is quite right that we should not preclude Germans and Italians from coming within the British Empire. We never have done so, except perhaps in the case of Australia, where they are very determined to remain British, 97 per cent, of the population being British. And New Zealand is the same. In Canada there is an enormous German population. I cannot remember the figures for last year offhand, but I think I shall probably be right in saying that some 150 Germans, 150 Italians and 150 Poles.—small numbers, I know— went into Canada, probably twice as many Ukrainians, as they are described, and 200 Continental Hebrews, as they are called, and you find that there are 15 Welshmen.—[An HON. MEMBER: 644 "That is worse than any."]—However, the fact remains that there is this very small proportion of people coming from our country at the moment, and it is causing the gravest concern among all people who are the particular defenders of that spirit of British democracy to which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bassetlaw referred. In 1912 I was taken on a Saturday evening round Winnipeg to see the Forum, a kind of Hyde Park where various meetings were held. I was taken to 20 different platforms where different languages were being spoken, and during that time 600,000 foreigners went into the prairie provinces of Canada and the British population of migrants was being swamped. The figures which the hon. Gentleman quoted to-day are only a trickle. The fact remains that the balance against British migration has gone still further, and it is most vital that we should do everything in our power to try and turn that balance the other way.
There is only one other matter that I desire to mention to the House this evening. I know that the right hon. Gentleman has been very reluctant to listen to any schemes of definite settlement, and I am also aware that some of these settlements to which the hon. Gentleman alluded were indeed disastrous. My honest belief is that Governments are not best suited for establishing settlements of this character. If a settlement is to be established on a community basis, some organisation ought to be responsible, and success should depend upon the success of the individual settlers. No Government will give that thought to after care. A Government arranges with another Government to settle 3,000 people. They get hold of some land. They are not really concerned very much whether the land is the best suited for the purpose. They want to get them settled, and the job done quickly.
I beg of the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether it would not be wise to make something in the nature of an experiment. The committee of which I was a Member prepared the report which has been mentioned. It is not concerned with any financial company. We know that no such company exists, and we suggest that it would be in the interests of the solution of the whole of this problem if His Majesty's Government would state that they were ready to encourage 645 some great company, with the best brains thereon, who would undertake to start experimental settlement schemes in various parts of the Empire. It has not been suggested that His Majesty's Government should put up the whole of the money, but only that they should pay, perhaps, the cost of training in this country. I think that all Members of the House would agree that, if you could put a large number of people into agricultural training, if only for a short period, in this country, it might help some men to get back their physique and morale. They might be very useful for British agriculture thereafter, or it might be that they would prove most desirable migrants. The Government might consider the cost of training as, I think, they are doing in a similar way with regard to the Special Areas, and paying the cost of transit to the Dominions.
Thereafter the only suggestion which we made was that the Government should give credit facilities to such an organisation which established these settlements, equal to the amount of land bought, cleared and developed by that corporation; or, in other words, not a gamble, but a national investment. Since the Great War, we in this House have been responsible for a condition of affairs under which we have spent £1,300,000,000 sterling in order to keep alive our unemployed. It is such a staggering and awful thing that I cannot help asking why it is that we are not ready to risk just a little in helping to build up settlement in the Dominions overseas. I believe that I am not far wrong if I suggest that we have lent something like £300,000,000 to foreign countries since the War in order to put them on their feet. A large part of that capital and interest is in default, and a very large amount of that money we must now admit has gone into building up armaments, possibly to the increased expenditure of the taxpayers of this country. Cannot we deflect our minds from all this turmoil in Europe—I admit that we have to do our duty and try to assist in squaring up difficulties—and cannot we have as a major purpose the development of the Empire overseas and attempt to establish settlements, in the building of communication roads, railways, aircraft, in the building of houses and ultimately in the marketing of the produce of these 646 settlements? That is something that is really worth doing.
Hon. Members on the Opposition benches above the Gangway are always saying that they want something constructive. They know that we have in this country a problem which it is most difficult to solve. Not the most imaginative scheme of Socialism, Communism or any other ism, can solve it. We shall never absorb the whole of our people. Let us act while there is time, in order to strengthen our Dominions overseas and to help the British Empire to remain —as hon. Members from all quarters have indicated their strong desire, that it should remain—the last great bulwark of freedom and liberty in the world.
§ 6.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacMillan
I intend to devote most of the short time at my disposal to discussing this Measure in relation to the Highlands and Isles of Scotland. I take the liberty of invading the constituency of the Secretary of State for the Dominions for my evidence because 45 per cent, of the population of his division is in the Isle of Lewis, in the Western Isles. The reason why I desire to talk about the North of Scotland is that in the Islands and Highlands of Scotland we have a concrete example of what emigration on a large scale has done. Emigration and neglect by the Government are the chief causes of depopulation in the Islands and Highlands of Scotland. That is one of the reasons why I am opposing the Bill. The people who naturally and logically are the potential emigrants are the unemployed, because people who have jobs and are comfortably placed are not likely to emigrate. Therefore, the people who may be expected to emigrate are people who have no jobs. To-day, from different quarters of the House, we have heard expressed, ardently and sincerely in some parts, cynically in others, views about populating the Dominions with "good British stock"; but since we are more or less limited to considering as potential candidates for emigration, the unemployed, we can for the purposes of this discussion describe as "the good British stock" referred to our unemployed population.
I think the right hon. Gentleman glossed over much too easily the effect of sending these people away from this country. One hon. Member said that that 647 is not a relevant consideration, but I think it is. Can we afford to send these people? So many people, including different Governments, seem to think that emigration is the best that can be done for these people. The Government seem to say, in effect, to the human surplus, "We cannot kill you; it would be better if you were dead, but we will send you to Canada, Australia or New Zealand," and therefore the right hon. Gentleman is to help in providing the tickets to send them. We have heard a great deal in the Islands and Highlands about recruiting for the Army and the Territorial Force. How are you to recruit if you send the people away? Governments have been guilty of causing depopulation in the North of Scotland through their neglect, through their support of vested interests in the Islands and Highlands, and through deliberately preventing their development on behalf of these interests, or neglecting to provide measures for ameliorating the conditions of the people.
I resent the idea of sending people away from an area which is already so scantily populated, and packing them off to Australia and Canada, whence they are not likely to return as long as the conditions in the Islands and Highlands remain what the Government have allowed them to become. We hear a great deal about shortage of agricultural labour and of shortage of labour in the building trade in this country. Cannot some of our people be absorbed in those directions, or are we to confess that there is no prospect of absorbing them? Is this Bill the last shameless confession on the part of the Government in regard to the unemployed that they must throw them out of the country by one method or another? In my opinion it is a confession that there is nothing else the Government are able to do with them. If there was something better, in the opinion of the Government, surely we should keep them here.
In the North of Scotland I see men quite a number of whom have returned from the Dominions. They are as good British stock as ever went to the War or to build the Empire abroad, or to any part of the world. They have come back from Australia and Canada and they are disillusioned. Many of them have come back during the last two or three years while Britain was supposed to be recover- 648 ing 80 per cent, of her prosperity, but they would go back again if they saw a job oversea, because they see no prospect here. Many of them, however, are so disillusioned that they prefer to drift back into unemployment in the North of Scotland and to make the most of a little croft in a part of the country badly developed and not assisted by the Government as it ought to be, and yet the Government are prepared to vote money to assist emigration. If you make people desperate enough, they will emigrate. The right hon. Member for West Stirling (Mr. Johnston) said that if the present neglect of the Islands and Highlands continues, we shall make Scotland an excellent place for kicking off from Scotland.
If emigration is to be effective, and the right hon. Gentleman desires it to be so, it must be on a fairly large and wide scale. If it is to be on a wide scale it will cause further depopulation of areas already badly depopulated. We hear a great deal of talk about developing the Empire overseas. Are we to take it that we have reached the final saturation point of development in the Islands and Highlands of Scotland and other areas of Scotland? If emigration is not to be on a large scale, it will not be effective over the great area of the Empire. Therefore either way I do not see that this Measure is going to benefit us at home or overseas. The dangers of further depopulation in Scotland are well known to the right hon. Gentleman. At the present rate of depopulation, as I warned the House a month ago, in four generations there will be no constituency of Ross and Cromarty. The electorate will have disappeared. Taking the whole of Northern Scotland, the present rate of depopulation in four or five, or, at most, six generations will mean that we shall find that area entirely depopulated and barren. In the past it was the policy of the supporters of the party opposite to depopulate large areas in the North of Scotland in order to consecrate them to deer and grouse and their various pleasures. I cannot believe that the right hon. Gentleman in the last resort is going to depopulate his own constituency. From purely selfish motives he might consider the application of this Measure to the North of Scotland in order to prevent the danger of depopulation in Ross and Cromarty.
649 The people of the Islands and Highlands as a whole, I think, will view with dismay this confession of the Government that they have no other plan for dealing with the position, and that there is no further development to be expected from this Government which will absorb the unemployed, who are the only potential emigrants. The must either remain unemployed here, without any prospect, or they must face up to what at present is the "prospectless prospect" of going out to the Dominions. They do not want to go there. They want jobs, but they want jobs in their own country. They see large tracts of Scotland undeveloped; they see great areas where hydro-electric power might be generated which could supply all the new industries which might with mutual advantage go there. One such scheme is the proposed Caledonian power scheme. There may be other Measures of that kind. There are vast possibilities of development in these Scottish areas. Are we going to depopulate those further before we have offered the people the opportunity of work within the boundaries of their own country and then have labour shortages and other avoidable difficulties.
These people do not want to go to Canada or Australia. They have gone in the past, but it was through sheer desperation and the fact that there was nobody to help them here; though in better times many have done well. The only help that they could get in those days from the Government were two or three miserable pounds to take them away from bothering the Government, and many of them have regretted the fact that they ever went to Canada, especially those workless among the snow and ice of winter time of which hon. Members have made so much. I have already said that many of them have come back, and the only reason why they would be prepared to go back again to Canada and elsewhere is that there seems to be no prospect for them here. It is a shameful confession for the right hon. Gentleman to say that the Government have no other way of dealing with these people except to emigrate them from their own homes. In view of the great possibilities of development in the Islands and Highlands of Scotland it would be a cowardly dodging the issue and a suicidal thing further to depopulate those areas when we could make use of those people to improve and 650 maintain our own British stock at home and develop our own land first.
Depopulation is not a problem that we can neglect. We cannot afford to shut our eyes to the dangers that such problems present. We cannot afford to send the best of our manhood, especially the younger generation, to the Dominions or anywhere else. The danger is that we shall be left in the Islands and Highlands with a population of very old people and very young people. The same sort of condition will develop all over Great Britain if we send the younger generation of our people abroad. They are the people we can least afford to send from Scotland, because they are the people we need most for our present and future productive work.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Sir Patrick Hannon
I would like to begin by congratulating the Secretary of State on the continuation of the Act. It is unfortunate, perhaps, that the provision made in the Bill is a substantial reduction on the provision already made. One can foresee, however, that under no properly developed scheme of migration would it be possible to exceed in the next few years the sum which the right hon. Gentleman has included. Having said that, I would like to emphasise the point made by the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) that during a long period—certainly all the time I have been in this House—there has been no consistent policy on the part of any Government in relation to the development of migration. There were spasmodic efforts from time to time, there have been a number of failures, but there has been no continuity of policy, no real desire on the part of any members of any administration to continue emigration to the available open spaces in the Dominions and Colonies on lines which would make for the betterment of the Empire as a whole.
The hon. and gallant Member referred to the admirable provision made here for the increased proportion which the Government can advance to intending settlers. I have already submitted to my right hon. Friend that there are cases in which migration could effectively take place, in parts of the Dominions which are already prepared to receive migrants, with all the facilities for immediate settlement and all the amenities for successful settlement, were the support 651 given by the Government greater than that provided. My hon. and gallant Friend referred to the differences between migration possibilities in different parts of the Empire. There are places where settlement must be begun by first developing the raw country, but there are other parts where the local government, both Federal and Provincial, has expended large sums in the development of all the machinery that makes for the happiness and welfare of a community. I have recently visited Canada. I went there to attend a conference at Saskatchewan. At that convention, which was brought together for the purpose of considering a scheme of land settlement, there were representatives from every corner of the Province and from the neighbouring Provinces of Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia.
While it is true that the whole atmosphere of the conference was that the initial step should be taken in this country in any large process of settlement, and that the financial burden should be borne by the people of this country, there was evidence of the immense opportunities, both from the economic and social standpoints, that await some large scheme of settlement at the instance of the British Government. One of the most impressive facts brought out at that conference, and one of the strangest experiences I had during the 2,000 miles tour I made, was the steady infiltration of people of foreign origin into that easily developed and habitable country. The hon. Member who has just spoken would be glad to see the happy situations in which some of his people have established themselves in Canada. But they have established themselves in immediate contact with what is commonly called the Ukranian population, people of every conceivable origin in Europe. During the first six months of 1936 representatives of no fewer than 48 nationalities came into Saskatchewan, making serious inroads into the possibilities of further British settlement in that Province. At the end of last year 53 per cent, of the population were people of foreign origin.
There have been great failures in settlement schemes. We saw the old, famous Barr colonists' scheme of 1903. It is astonishing how many of them have survived in spite of the sad circumstances in 652 which they found themselves. It is an economic mystery how they managed to get through the difficulties that faced them. Then we had the 3,000 families, and the soldier settlement schemes but they were all somehow conceived and organised in too great a hurry, and sufficient care was not taken in the selection of the settlers. If we are to succeed in settlement in any parts of the Dominions, and particularly Canada there must be a careful process of selection, and the settlers should have some opportunity of becoming acquainted with the conditions under which they must live when they get there. There must be some kind of supervision exercised over these families to ensure that they will have the correct methods of agriculture, that they will get the correct seeds, that they will not be exploited by moneylenders or financial institutions, and that will bring them into that neighbourly contact with people in the locality which makes so much for successful settlement.
I suggest to the Secretary of State that he should do a little more active propaganda in this country to cultivate knowledge of the Dominions and Colonies among our own people. We have tried from time to time in schools to make the children familiar with conditions in the Dominions and oversea territories. When I was Secretary of the Navy League we put a map of the Dominions in every principal school in the country. One of the most interesting facts I can recall was that every school in New Zealand was supplied with one of these Empire maps, and it was one of the essential parts of elementary teaching in New Zealand—as it was also in South Africa, where I was Director of Agriculture for some time. We could do something of the same kind in this country. The Secretary of State could get in touch with all those committees which operated the 1922 Act. There are committees in all towns prepared to co-operate with the Department in developing some large scheme of migration if the right hon. Gentleman and his staff will get into touch with them. We have come to the time when we should treat our Empire with more consideration, more thought and more regard for its development than has been the case in the past.
When I was in Canada I met the larger organisations in trade and agriculture 653 and I found a deep-seated feeling for further enlargement of the British population in the Dominions. But everybody said, "What is the British Government at home doing to develop this?" There was a general feeling that we desired to throw the responsibility on Canada. While it is essential, as the Secretary of State has said, to have co-operation with the Dominions, we should give the lead, show how far we are prepared to go and show our determination to have as far as possible British blood and British stock throughout the whole of British territory. This extension of the Act of 1922 will not, I fear, have its full effect unless the Government are prepared to indicate to the Dominions how much more they are prepared now to develop a large scheme of migration than has been the case in the past. I know how anxious the Secretary of State is that there should be continuous settlement of our own people under our own flag. He is perhaps not familiar with the extent to which our exploitable territory, where people could settle almost at once, is being utilised for the introduction of persons of foreign origin.
In the first six months of 1936, 2,000 people commonly called Ukrainians came into Canada; 2,000 Americans, original nationality unknown; and 912 British people. These figures show that we have been wanting in our duty in the development of our own Dominions in the various emigration schemes for which we have been responsible. I hope my right hon. Friend, having entered into this extension of the original Act, will lose no opportunity, not merely of continuing the dribbling method by which the process of migration has been carried on up to the present, but of embarking on some large and generous policy, it may be on the plan submitted by the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth, or by the Emigration and Settlement Committee of Saskatchewan, which has received the endorsement of the Government of the Province and is under consideration by the Federal Government at Ottawa. Whatever scheme he adopts, let him try to make it something big and attractive which will deal with this question in a large way. A mere touching of the surface of this great problem can never lay the foundation of a broader and wider distribution of the British population within the Empire. I congratulate him 654 on the step he has taken, and I hope he will take advantage of his great position as a member of a Cabinet, which has given evidence to the whole world of its great qualities, which is making its mark on the history of our time, and which, from every point of view, possesses great progressive striking power which will raise this Empire and this country higher and higher, to strike a great blow for the permanence of a British population in the British Empire.
§ 7.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Markham
I must decline to adopt the view of the hon. Member for Moseley (Sir P. Hannon), who hoped that every Government will take the opportunity to widen the scheme of emigration. I hope that this will be the last scheme of the kind to be placed before the House by any Government. I find myself curiously in complete agreement with the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. M. MacMillan) that full consideration has not been given to population trend in this country in post-war years. Before the War our population was expanding at a rate at which it could be justly said that it was overtaking national development, but to-day the reverse is the case, and national development is proceeding at a faster rate than the increase in the population. The population figures, judged by the Registrar-General's review for 1935, show that from 1947 onwards, unless we are careful we shall have actually a declining population. Let me draw the attention of the House to the figures in that report. If you take the three age groups from 10 years to 30 years you find the following figures: Between 20 and 30 the total population of the country is 6,870,000; between 10 and 20 years, 6,500,000; and under the age of 10 years, 5,840,000. At that rate we shall see not only a declining population by 1947 but a population declining so seriously that by i960 there will be only 24,000,000 or 25,000,000 people in these islands.
The whole trend of this policy, which may be termed birth control or family limitation, is getting more and more severe, and we shall have to watch it very closely indeed, or we shall find ourselves in the position of a country at the head of a great Empire with a population of under 30,000,000 opposed by the evergrowing numbers of Eastern European 655 countries and other foreign countries. That, in itself, is an unanswerable argument for shutting down emigration in the near future, and to say that no longer shall we allow this country to be weakened by sending overseas, not the less desirable of its numbers, but some of the best. One thing that has struck me in the Debate has been the insistence which has been placed on the necessity of sending our best stock overseas, sending the ablest and fittest, and leaving as it were in this country those who have had to suffer, through no fault of their own, long periods of unemployment. No country can afford such a strain as that. We cannot afford to send our best sons overseas in great numbers without a serious loss of national prestige and efficiency.
And we must consider the men themselves. Anyone who makes a careful analysis of the position must be forced to this conclusion, that there is no part of the Empire which offers such magnificent opportunities for young men and women as our own islands. There is no part of the Empire with a lower unemployment rate, with the possible exception of New Zealand, and no part which offers greater opportunities and greater freedom. For the sake of these young men in our own land we should endeavour to give them better opportunities here rather than send them overseas. It must be remembered that every young man we send overseas reduces the market in this country; it reduces consumption, which adds indirectly to the consequent volume of unemployment. The so-called method of reducing our unemployed by sending our employed abroad, of which we have heard a great deal, is simply a measure to make our own unemployment greater.
Let me refer, finally, to the question of defence which has been stressed by some hon. Members, who say that there is an urgent necessity for Australia, New Zealand and Canada to build up populations of twice their present size in order to free themselves from any threat by any adjacent and antagonistic country. Everyone will agree that we have not the slightest chance of building up the population of the Dominions to that extent from this country. Australia, to be safe from Japan, must have a population nearly as large as Japan. The population of Australia is 7,000,000 and of 656 Japan 67,000,000. We should have to emigrate the whole population of these islands to make up the difference between the population of Australia and Japan— an absolutely fantastic suggestion. If the Empire is to be defended, we must have the defence at its heart. History tells us that the only comparable Empire in the world to the British Empire, the Roman Empire, withstood every conceivable invasion until under Constantine the Great she weakened herself by migrating in great numbers from Rome to Constantinople. We must be careful as a nation that we do not follow the decline of the Roman Empire. I realise that there have been reasons for introducing the Bill. It is a logical consequence of the Act of 1922 and implements promises which must obviously be fulfilled. I hope that in any future consideration of the emigration problem the Government will put the interests of Great Britain before any other considerations whatever.
§ 7.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Pilkington
I do not believe that the problem of the falling population of this country is going to be solved by emigration one way or the other. It can only be solved by a growing birth rate in this country. Nor can I believe that the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. M. MacMillan) was speaking for a united Scotland when he pleaded against any further migration from Scotland. There is hardly a foreign country which has not seen Scotsmen rise to positions of eminence, and even in this foreign country, even in this House, Scotsmen do not play an unimportant part.
I cannot resist referring to a speech made in this House on Tuesday by an hon. Member of undoubted vocal abilities who condemned the whole question of emigration. I refer to the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), who dragged in his customary attack upon the capitalist system, very much in the same way as the Pole who, when asked to write what he knew of the life and customs of the elephant, entitled his treatise "The Elephant and the Polish Question." However, I was encouraged by the fact that the hon. Member said that, as usual, his remarks would be disregarded by hon. Members as they had always been in the past. History in this case is, I think, going to repeat itself.
657 Personally, I believe that emigration is one of the few vital and hitherto unsolved problems before the British Commonwealth, and that an immediate and considerable increase in emigration is necessary for the continued maintenance of the Empire. In the world as it is to-day it is no small thing that one-quarter of the world should be kept at peace and should believe in and practise the ideals of political freedom, of racial equality, and of the development of self-governing institutions. It was people of British stock who brought these vast lands into the Commonwealth, and unless the descendants of these people can enter into their inheritance and justify it in the eyes of the world, it will be a very sad and grievous thing. Only the other day in Germany General Goering, by a most peculiar exercise in higher or Aryan mathematics, produced some most remarkable figures, at complete variance, as the "Times" correspondent pointed out, even with German books of reference. He said that the density of population in Germany and in this country was practically the same, but that this country owned one-third of the world, whereas Germany, outside Germany herself, owned nothing. General Goering will get very few marks in this country either for accuracy or indeed for veracity. In actual fact the density of population in this country is considerably greater than in Germany, and the British Empire is spread not over one-third of the world but a quarter of the world, and in that quarter of the world there is also a quarter of the world's population. This last fact, without any qualification, may be misleading, because the majority of the population of the Empire is crowded into this country and India, while the Dominions, in comparison, are practically empty. In Canada, which is about the same size as Europe, there are only 10,000,000 people, not 550,000,000. In Australia, very little smaller than Europe, there are only 7,000,000. And in New Zealand, about the same size as the British Isles, there are only 1,500,000. Even taking into consideration that large areas of Canada and Australia are uninhabitable, these figures are sufficiently startling. They are facts which are continually present to the minds of foreign observers. I think it is high time that not only these figures, but their implications and the responsibilities which go 658 with them, were present in the minds of more people in this country.
There is to-day the beginning of a great awakening to the fact that it is essential that these empty spaces shall be filled by people who have been brought up in a liberal outlook rather than in the aggressively nationalist outlook of the dictator-ruled States. I think that some eminent public figures in this country have done a great deal towards that awakening. As long ago as 1922, when Lord Northdiffe—who was by no means right on all things, but I think he was right about this—visited Australia, he told the Australians that only numbers would save them. I think the activities of the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) have done a great deal to stimulate public interest here, and I think the lead given by such people as the Mayor of Newcastle has also done a great deal towards rousing interest generally. And this awakening is happening not only in this country but in the Dominions, for an increasing proportion of people out there are also coming to the conclusion that this problem is one of immediate and urgent necessity.
It is only natural that both here and elsewhere in the Empire everybody should turn for a lead to the Government of this country. What have the Government done? I think it is a most discouraging and depressing thing that they have decided to halve the grant for assisting emigration. It is a most discouraging and depressing thing that in this year of all years, the year of returning prosperity, the year of the Coronation, the year of the Imperial Conference, when all eyes are turned towards this country as the centre of a world-wide Empire with worldwide responsibilities, the Government should have found it necessary to decrease by half the amount of money it is ready to spend on Empire settlement. Can we imagine the scorn felt, and rightly felt, by those young nations whose vigour and courage, whatever we may think of their politics, are beyond dispute?
I know the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs has said that in the so-called peak years of emigration only half the amount was spent, but surely the answer to that is that the other half should have been spent, and that more people should have been assisted to 659 emigrate, or that some of the many schemes which have been brought forward should have been tried out in the Dominions. I know the right hon. Gentleman has said that if new schemes are put forward, it will be possible for more money to be found, but in a matter such as emigration it is the psychological factor that is of chief importance. I know the right hon. Gentleman has said that we have to wait for the Dominions to say the word "Go," but cannot this Government give them a lead at the Imperial Conference? Cannot this Government get together with the Dominion Governments and have a joint tackling of the problem and a joint shouldering of the responsibilities of Imperial development? I know the right hon. Gentleman has said that he is convinced that a time is coming when this will be a matter of supreme urgency. I suggest, as do many other hon. Members, that that time is now. It has already become an urgent question, and if we go on waiting, it will be too late.
I know, finally, that the right hon. Gentleman also said that we must wait until economic conditions permit the resumption of emigration. I think it is worth noting that in almost every case it has been the Provincial Governments of Canada or Australia which have raised the chief objections to the resumption of emigration and not the Central Government. That is only natural, for we can all understand that in any locality the settlers and the workers of that locality will object to the coming of outside intruders who will be competitors. But is it for one moment disputed that a country such as Canada, a country of 7,000,000 square miles, can support a population of more than 10,000,000? Is it for one moment disputed that if you doubled or trebled the population of Canada, you would very speedily double or treble the mineral and arable wealth of a country so rich in natural resources. I know that the economic arguments are favourite ones of the Opposition, but surely hon. Members opposite, who have so much vision in domestic affairs—so much indeed that only too often I am afraid the zeal of ambition completely outstrips the discretion of finance—are woefully lacking in imagination on this question. I suggest that they are like people in a house who concentrate on 660 cleaning out only one small corner of that house and ignore the fact that the whole structure of the house is in urgent need of strengthening and repair.
On the other hand, I do not deny that these economic obstacles do in fact exist. But I do say with all the force that I can that they should not be regarded as insurmountable barriers to further action. These economic obstacles call for adjustments in policy, yes, but not the virtual abandonment of that policy until the economic obstacles have been removed of themselves. In conclusion, then may I add my voice to those who have regretted that the right hon. Gentleman has thought it necessary to halve the amount of money for Empire settlement, and may I express the hope that he will in future deal with this whole problem of Empire settlement with the vision which we know he has got, and initiate a policy of vigour and energy which will carry with it the enthusiasm of the whole country.
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Lyons
I am sure the whole House will commend the Government for having chosen this early opportunity for the re-introduction of this matter. May I first of all refer to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs in introducing the Money Resolution last week, and ask him whether he will kindly clarify some of the matters dealt with by him in that speech which may give rise to some misunderstanding? My right hon. Friend said last week:A policy of Empire migration must be a policy in which Dominion Governments and this Government co-operate fully as partners.Those are observations to which we can all subscribe, but the opportunity for cooperation is coming when the statesmen of the whole Empire will meet together at the Imperial Conference after the Coronation. The question I wish to ask my right hon. Friend is whether the Government are going to take the lead in asking the various partners of the Empire to co-operate in some really concrete proposal for the better distribution of the white population of the Empire. Platitudes will not help in this connection. My right hon. Friend went on to say:We understand those difficulties. It is true that there are other circumstances and that in many parts of the Dominions the 661 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!'.May I ask for what conditions we are waiting? Conditions of opportunity, conditions of space, conditions of settlement now exist, as I hope to show in a few moments, in every one of the self-governing Dominions. I have heard it represented, both in public speeches and personally to me, by many great statesmen in various parts of the Dominion of Canada that now is the time for opening up migration; not a haphazard, detached system of unorganised migration, but some organised mass migration in a way which will be acceptable to all parts of the Empire and which will have certain safeguards. Only recently, Sir Edward Beatty, the President of the Canadian Pacific Railway who has himself, and through his organisation, done so much to make Canada what she is to-day, said that in his view the time had approached when this question should be looked at seriously and migration opened up. Later on in his speech my right hon. Friend went on to say: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.I would like to know when he thinks that need will become imminent. Is it not now that steps ought to be taken? Is it not now that we ought to say to the Dominions that the time has arrived when the word "Go" shall be said? Many of us believe so; many of us believe that the question of the distribution of the white population of the Empire is one of the most pressing questions of the day for the proper protection and maintenance of the Empire as we know it. The right hon. Gentleman then said: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 662 finance their share of the scheme."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th January, 1937; cols. 47–50, Vol. 319.]In view of that undertaking, I think we need have no misgivings as to the reduction of the amount provided for in this Bill; but may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he has any definite scheme in mind which he proposes to put before the Empire partners in a few months time at the Imperial Conference? We well know that in 1932, at the last Imperial Conference, for reasons which I quite agree might be sufficient, the whole question of migration in the Empire was shelved, but happily the conditions that then existed do not exist to-day; and I would like my right hon. Friend to tell us whether we can have the assurance that so much is thought of the importance of the topic of migration by the Government that the question of the movement of people in the Empire will be in a prominent position on the agenda of the forthcoming Imperial Conference to be discussed with the Empire partners. I do not believe that this matter must be shelved and put off year after year. I believe the time has now come when it ought to be tackled, vigorously and resolutely, and a lead given by this country to the other countries of the Empire. From conversations which I have had with leaders of all parties in Canada, I am satisfied that, on a suitable and properly-safeguarded proposition, that country, both from a Dominion and provincial standpoint, will be ready and willing to take its share in any charge that may be incurred in carrying out mass migration and settlement.
The hon. Gentleman who led the opposition to the Bill referred to his responsibility for the scheme which was known as the "3,000 families scheme" carried out some years ago. That is looked upon in Canada as the most successful migration scheme of modern time. I am not concerned as to which party provided the brains to work out that scheme and bring it to fruition, but it has been recognised, by those who watched its operation in Canada, as an overwhelming success, as an experiment in mass migration. I wish to know whether anything of that nature is in contemplation now? Is it intended that some such scheme should be discussed when the representatives of the Empire meet a few months hence. In the Press this 663 morning there is a letter from General Hornby, who has done so much in bringing forward for discussion schemes of this kind. He makes these observations, which are worthy of attention:All the factors necessary for organising an effective and successful Empire migration and settlement movement are available; the need of the Dominions for more people; the readiness of people in the United Kingdom to migrate if they are afforded a fair chance of success overseas; the development already carried out in oversea Dominions affording new immigrants an opportunity of earning a good livelihood without the pioneering hardships of former times; the finance necessary to give them a fair start; the ships to transport them across the' ocean; the railways to carry them to their destinations after disembarkation, the readiness of communities in the Dominions to welcome them, provided they are established in such a way as to become self supporting—a help and not a burden.Those are the words of a great authority, and I submit that in those observations is to be found the basis on which the Empire representatives when they come together could thresh out a practical scheme capable of being put into immediate operation. What more is needed to make this a practical proposition? I can conceive of nothing more futile than to embark upon any haphazard schemes of migration. I had the opportunity some years ago of talking to a number of people in the middle-west of Canada who had gone out there as State-assisted migrants, and who were then awaiting what they termed "deportation." They were waiting to be returned here as persons who had proved failures in the new country. From a personal investigation I came to the conclusion that their failure was due to the futile methods of selection employed. They were not the people who ought to have been sent out there as settlers. They were entirely unfitted to go out from the industrial life of this country to become settlers in Canada. I hope, therefore, that the Government will consider the establishment of a board composed of people who are not only acquainted with conditions here in the country from which the migrants are going, but are also intimate with the conditions in the countries to which those migrants are being sent. In this way a great many so-called failures can be avoided. Selection is of fundamental importance, and I trust 664 that, as a result of the forthcoming consultations, some better system of selection will be found than that which has existed hitherto.
I would refer next to the undertaking given by my right hon. Friend when he said that if this grant proved to be insufficient in future, when a good scheme was available, he would produce legislation to make the necessary addition to it. An earlier speaker referred to the network of social services which we have here and which is non-existent in other parts of the Empire. I cannot help thinking that that fact has a great deal to do with the lack of proper migration from this country to the other parts of the Empire. I believe that my right hon. Friend's predecessor in office introduced a system whereby an Old-Age pensioner in this country who went overseas to a British Dominion, did not lose his right to the pension. We want to encourage the migration of people other than the unemployed. Emigration to Canada or Southern Rhodesia, or New Zealand or other parts of the Empire is not to be regarded as a quick and easy method of hiding our own unemployment problem. No, we want to encourage migration for the development of those countries in the Empire and for the general betterment and prosperity of our Empire, and I wish to ask whether the Government have ever considered the possibility of a scheme giving the insured man in this country—who has made, and whose employer has made, substantial contributions to the social services—some commuted benefit which he could take with him if he decided to emigrate to a new country.
I am not suggesting that he should be given a cash payment which might not be to his advantage, but that a commuted benefit, representing his actuarial right under our insurance scheme, should be administered on his behalf by the Government of the country to which he is going on condition that that country should add some substantial amount to it. That man would be welcomed in the new country as a capitalist, and the fund thus created could be administered both in the interests of the migrants and of the country itself. I do not think it is right to say to a workman in this country, "If you emigrate, if you take advantage of the great opportunity which exists overseas, you and your wife and family will lose for all time the rights for which you have 665 paid and for which your employer has paid in this country." I see no reason why some arrangement should not be made for those rights to be transferred to the new country in the form of capitalised benefit. My investigations show that a scheme of that nature would be well received by overseas Governments, who would welcome people coming from this country who were capitalists and who had some stake in the country, and I believe that those Governments would be willing to undertake the responsibility of administration in such cases.
I want to raise one other query. Some years ago there were supposed to be voluntary county migration committees operating in every county. The committee in Newcastle has, as we know, done very good work. It has met regularly and constantly and has been in close touch with the population of the district. That committee has deserved the many tributes which have been paid to it. On the other hand, I know of one county committee which has not held a meeting for seven years, and I would like to know whether that is the basis upon which all these committee except the Newcastle committee are working. In one case, the failure of the committee, in my view, was. due to the fact that the honorary organising secretary had his headquarters at the local employment exchange. It is necessary to disconnect this question of migration from unemployment, and as long as you have an official of the employment exchange as secretary of the committee or the headquarters of the committee at the employment exchange, a county committee cannot succeed. Perhaps as a matter of interest my right hon. Friend would tell us whether any of these committees, except that mentioned, have met in the last three or four years. They are composed of men and women of each locality, and are not sectional or partisan bodies. They are purely voluntary organisations intended to help and guide any persons who wish to emigrate. Perhaps my right hon. Friend would also say whether in every case the committee headquarters are at employment exchanges. If there is a more futile way of attempting to start such work, I cannot imagine it.
There is another important question with which, I hope, my right hon. 666 Friend will deal. Is there to be any discussion at the forthcoming Imperial Conference on the subject of the transfer of capital, apart from the migration of persons—capital which will provide employment for those persons? I found when I was in Southern Rhodesia some time ago a country which is calling out for British stock, a country which is offering to migrants not the isolation of the wilderness, but the modern opportunities provided in a well-developed community with ideals and conditions very similar to our own. The people in that country will say to my right hon. Friend, "What are you doing for us in our special industry?" and it is right that we should ask ourselves, "What are we doing in each of these overseas Dominions to encourage capital from this country to go there, to encourage the products of those countries to come here in return for some economic partnership and mutually beneficial arrangement which would include the transfer of population?"
In the British Empire we have not merely a quarter of the world's surface and a great volume of the world's population. We have opportunities for the growth or manufacture of every article of foodstuffs or merchandise which human needs demand. We have the greatest opportunity that has ever been known. Distances are becoming less every day as the result of modern and perfected means of transport. What are we doing to encourage the movement over these great new highways of people, of capital, of products? It has been pointed out by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft)—and no individual has done more than he to bring before the public mind the importance of this question—that the Ottawa Agreements have brought about a great result in inter-Imperial trade. They have, but is my right hon. Friend going to regard those agreements, which deal only with trade and of which migration forms no part, as an end or as a beginning? If the Government consider, as I hope they will, that the Ottawa Agreements represent only the beginning of the march of Imperial unity, then let them carry the march a stage further by considering at the Imperial1 Conference this year, not only the extension of inter-Imperial trade, but the extension of facilities for general migration within the 667 Empire. I believe that the Imperial Conference can take such steps that the migration we all want to see, will become an accomplished fact.
The hon. Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn) criticised the Bill, first on the ground that the proposed amount was too puny; secondly, because he thought its proposals were premature and thirdly, on the ground that it would encourage child migration. I suggest that if the Bill has been introduced in time to bring about such an arrangement as I have indicated between different parts of the Empire, then we ought to be glad that it has been introduced. With my right hon. Friend's undertaking it cannot be categorised as too puny—no other scheme need be barred. And if child migration is not separate and divided from family settlement, there need be no misgivings on that ground.
Need anything hold back the development of our Empire? United in ideals of peace, progress, justice, and liberty, it can lead the world to prosperity and be the greatest one factor ever known. Let us then get together with our resources and set a new seal on Imperial progress and unity—a fresh and greater appreciation of our Imperial destiny.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Mr. R. J. Taylor
I am going to oppose this Bill. I have listened to-day to several statements with the greatest possible surprise. The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) said that the Government were not doing their best to populate the Empire. I was absolutely staggered to hear him say that, because during elections in the country before I got into this House, I always thought the Empire consisted of the people who sat on the other side of the House, and I always understood that the Empire was the sole right and property of the Members who comprised the Government side. At least it is always the flag and the Empire that they speak about so loudly. In my view, the people who have made the Empire are the men and women who have gone out from this country and done the hard and thankless tasks and very often reaped but a very poor reward. When we are discussing the question of getting more migrants to flow, so that we can strengthen the Empire, as we have 668 heard, with British stock, the last Member who spoke suggested to my mind that it was British stockings with capital, with something in them, that you wanted to go out to the Empire, not British stock; it was capital that you were very anxious to have. If I understood the last speaker correctly, he said that it would be a help if an intending emigrant could be encouraged by the Government by having that amount of money which was lying to his credit, as it were in the Insurance Fund.
§ Mr. Taylor
I noticed that the hon. and learned Member was very anxious that he should not have it in cash. Was he afraid he would spend it on the way out? However let us examine that proposal for a minute. What kind of British stock do you want to go out? Do you want old British stock or young British stock? If you want young British stock, it seems to me that he will not have very much lying to his credit. If it is old British stock, bordering on the age of 65, it will not pay him to go because he will not get the old age pension in Australia unless he has been resident there for a certain number of years; and in addition to that, that is not just the stock they want in the Empire. The hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild) said he was surprised to find the Opposition objecting to the Government in their endeavours to get surplus population out of the country. Why should we not object? I say this without fear of contradiction, because I have been in the Colonies, that I am not going to be a party to assisting anybody to go to the Colonies under false pretences. Let us give them a fair deal. It is all very well leading them up the garden, because your voluntary societies, like the shipping agents did when they were in operation, would be quite satisfied when they got the premium out of the Insurance Fund and when they got a man safely landed there. That would be sufficient for them.
When we talk about the stream of emigration having died down, it has done so for two reasons. The first and the most important reason is that they do not want emigrants out there at the moment. They have a problem of their own, and 669 they have had for some considerable time. I remember a financial gentleman being sent out to Australia to put their finances right. I do not know whether the present boom that they are supposed to be experiencing is due to the financial adjustments that he made, but whether or not this boom is due to that, I can say that the tremendous reduction in wages which the working men in Australia suffered, and the inhuman cuts in unemployment benefit, have had a very bad effect on emigration. We have most of us got friends in Australia, and they write home to us and tell us about the terrible conditions which existed there. When we compare those conditions with the conditions that we have here, even if they are 50–50, we would far rather stop where we are known.
§ Lieut.-Commander Agnew
Does the hon. Member consider that wages in Australia compare unfavourably with wages here?
§ Mr. Taylor
Wages in Australia are higher than they are here, but whether real wages are higher there than here is another matter. I believe that the only way in which you will get a continuous stream of emigrants to the Colonies will be when labour conditions, hours of labour, and wages are such that letters will come back over the water saying, "Come on here; we have got a job for you." We have heard a lot about the wide open spaces. I have seen the wide open spaces. I was reading a book to my friends coming down in the train to-day, a book which I had presented to me when I was in Australia. I was reading about the wide open spaces, where a young man married a selector's daughter, who had made good, and they went on to a new selection of 160 acres, four of which were clear and the other 156 prickly pear and scrub. That is the wide open spaces. If we are going to send our people out there, we must give them a reasonable chance, because you do not eat your potatoes the first week after you put them in. You have to wait, because nature takes time. Nature is very good to us and will supply all we want if we give her a chance. In fact, she has been supplying us lately with so much that we have no use for it all, and in Canada, where we have been growing wheat, I wonder how many Canadian farmers have been in the hands 670 of the bankers because there was too much wheat. It looks as though Providence was going to give us a bad time, but Providence has a way of hitting back when men do foolish things, and you cannot blame Providence for that.
Let me suggest that I think we might get an increasing stream of emigrants to New Zealand. There has been a Labour Government appointed there, and they have shortened hours of labour and raised rates of pay. If we give them a guarantee that they can get a price that is equitable and fair for the increased production that their work produces in New Zealand, then I have not the slightest doubt we shall get more emigrants there. But, after all, this Empire problem is an economic problem, and when we talk about shaking off the shackles of capitalism, it is a remarkable thing that when we go and work in the coal mines we find nearly the same boss. If he is not the same boss, he acts in the same way, and, therefore, we come to the conclusion that when there is no trade or when profits are bad, they have no further use for us, and we can go on the road with a billy can on our back.
I am not prepared to support this Bill, because if the Government are proposing to help emigrants, I want them to have a fair opportunity. This Bill will allow young children to go out there, and I will not be a party to that under any consideration. I knew a woman who, with her husband, took a selection on the borders between New South Wales and Queensland. When she went there she was young and virile, with her hair black as a raven's. When she had been there not many years, her hair was as white as snow. I am not going into the details, because I do not want anybody to get the impression that I am against Australia. I like Australia, and as a matter of fact I would go back to-morrow if I could afford it, though I think this is the best country if you have money. This is a grand country for those who have money.
We hear people talking sometimes, as I heard a woman talking on the wireless on Saturday, about being born in Australia and always wanting to come home. Fancy, she was born in Australia and wanted to come home! When these people have a bit of money they find this is the best place in the world in 671 which to spend it. This is a grand country if you have money, but not so good if you have not. Still, it is better than many other countries. I like Australia. I like its people. I resented a remark made by an hon. Member that there was no altruism among the Australians. When I was there they were absolutely altruistic. They would help any pal who was down, but there was not then so much unemployment as there has been since the mechanisation of industry. Men could always get help from one another to tide them over lean times. The Australian is a grand fellow. The ideal emigrant is the young man with a child or two who goes out there and is willing to go. I do not believe that the best emigrants are people who have persauded themselves that they have adopted the country. You get the best emigrant when the country takes such a hold of a man that he believes it is the place he likes to live in. The men who persuade themselves that they are adopting the country have a nasty habit of changing their minds. The man who goes because he wants to is the ideal emigrant, and I am only prepared to vote for any Bill that deals with children going to the Dominions if they go in the care of their parents.
§ 8.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Bull
The hon. Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn) devoted a certain part of his speeches to-day and on Tuesday to saying that it was waste of time for the House to consider this matter at the present time. I appreciate what he meant by saying that, but, at the same time, it seems to me that it would be a still greater waste of time if we were found to be unprepared when later on conditions were such in this country and the Dominions that emigration might once more take place on the large scale on which it did in past years like 1926 and 1927. I therefore heartily agreed with the Secretary of State when he said in his speech on Tuesday that it was not necessary and not a good thing to wait until this time arrived before we made our plans. The British Isles are obviously vastly more important as the heart of a great Empire than they could possibly be without the Dominions and the Colonies. That is a fact, and scoffing at it does not make it any the less true. There is no place where you can have too many good 672 citizens. In olden times the Lord proclaimed that he would save Sodom if there were 50 good citizens, and eventually he had to reduce it to 10. I have yet to hear of a country in which the introduction of British blood has ever proved harmful to that country. It is also largely due to the existence of the British Empire, a great Commonwealth of Nations which are able to live at peace with one another and to trade in a friendly way with one another, that peace and democracy prevail to-day over such a wide area of the globe.
From personal observations of conditions in Europe and in the East I think that while we leave such large tracts in some of our more sparsely populated Dominions empty, they undoubtedly form a temptation to other nations. We all wish to see our own people in the enjoyment of the lands which our fathers developed and won and pioneered. I do not think that this should necessarily be tried again by a system of group settlement under Government control. This, as we have heard and as some of us have seen, has not always been successful, but I do think that we should be prepared to assist infiltration when emigration is able to go on again at the rate of a few years ago. I should like to ask the Minister what are the plans to which he referred in the early part of his speech on Tuesday; he spoke several times in three or four consecutive sentences of plans. What are those plans and when may we expect to hear more about them? I am certain that there can be no opposition in any part of the House to the idea that plans should be prepared and that we should be ready for a resumption of emigration when the time comes for it. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Rothwell, who said it was a pity to waste time in discussing this question, happens to be a Boy Scout, as I am; if so, he will possibly be aware of their well known motto "Be prepared." Therefore, I would ask him to think over again his point of view on this matter.
I would also have thought that hon. Gentlemen opposite, even those who hold extreme Left wing views, would have been prepared to encourage emigration, even if it were only from the point of view of spreading Socialism throughout the Empire. I know the problem of unemployment exists in the Dominions, but 673 I think that if people emigrate there, even now when there is not work, they are apt to come to a great deal less harm than those who emigrate to Spain, as some of them have done recently. I wanted to say a word to the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), but as he is not in his place I will try and put it a little more gently. He told us he had been in Canada in 1934 and had seen numbers of his boyhood friends who had been walking the streets for a year. It is extraordinary that the hon. Member and the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. M. MacMillan), who spoke this evening, heard only of people who were in hard circumstances and that neither of them saw one man from Canada or Australia who had found a job and was happy. I would assure these hon. Members that there are some people in the Dominions who have work. I think those two hon. Members must have been a little unlucky in not meeting any of them, or, on the other hand, those who were in employment may have realised that their stories would be of no value to the hon. Members. If we look at this problem with a proper attitude of mind, remembering always that migration is purely a voluntary matter, and if we take into account the ability of the Government Front Bench and the gentle guidance of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, I feel sure that the intelligent and helpful lead which this country could undoubtedly give in this matter would be received by the Dominions and Colonies with open arms.
§ 8.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Croom-Johnson
I have waited a long time in order to say a very few words on what is, I think, the most important topic we have discussed for a very long time. I have had the opportunity during the last three years of discussing this question in each of the nine Provinces of Canada, and with the Prime Ministers of some of those Provinces, and I agree with a good deal that has been said here to-day, which I can put in my own words in this way: that the very last thing we ought to do in the British House of Commons is to discuss this matter from a selfish point of view. I am satisfied from all that I have learned in the great Dominion of Canada in my frequent visits there—and it is the only Dominion I know—that they will suspect 674 us on this topic unless we make it perfectly clear that we are not regarding Canada, at least, as the dumping-ground for those people whom we are not able, unfortunately, to employ ourselves. And when one goes through the large spaces in that great Dominion, and hears so much about their own problems of unemployment, can one be surprised at the feeling of so many of their working people that at least their own jobs should be secured before their Government proceeds to permit our unemployed people to go in? If I ever had any doubt on the subject, I resolved it for myself finally and completely last autumn, when I spent a miserable afternoon in two of the relieving stations in Winnipeg, long before the winter had begun, when the bad season is about, and when I could see for myself some of their graver problems by looking at the human element which was suffering under them.
In the last three years—I have spent a part of each of the last three summers in various parts of Canada—I have, on the other hand, noticed a change in the attitude of a great many of those who are responsible for the Government, particularly in British Columbia. I have a feeling that the great difficulty is really not the economic difficulty in this country but the economic difficulty in the Dominions themselves. They are not going to embark upon a policy of encouraging a large influx of new people, unused to conditions in their particular Dominion, until they have at least got on level terms with the problems which depression in their own countries—and, particularly in Canada, the depression which has spread to them as the result of conditions in the United States—have been got out of the way.
We all hope that there are brighter times coming to the Dominions. There are certainly indications that brighter times are coming to Canada, and in those circumstances, observing as carefully as I could the public utterances of public men, and the Prime Ministers of some Provinces, I did come to the conclusion that now there was at least a better opportunity for us to put forward—to representatives of Canada, at least—the possibility of achieving something in the way of starting a programme, small though the beginning might be. In considering this question we are apt, I think, 675 to look at it as though it were one essentially of the over-populated areas in Europe. When one stands on the far side of the great Dominion of Canada and looks at the Pacific, and realises how close they are to the over-populated areas of the East, while we are so far away, one realises that the problem of these over-populated regions, knocking at the door, as it were, of the Empire, is a much graver problem than we, with our European view-points, have apprehended.
After a long Debate, and after what has been for me a long day, I want to touch on only one other topic. I have listened to most of this Debate, and have heard a great deal about the necessity for increasing populations, but when I have looked around for my fellow Members who are of the feminine persuasion, I have been disappointed. I waited to hear something said on the subject of emigration for women, but there has not been a syllable. Here are we, an assembly of men, talking all the time about the necessity for increasing populations and we do not even discuss that question. And we do not even think of one other thing. Send your people to South Africa and what will you be told? If your Englishmen go to South Africa, with whom are they to mate? Are there sufficient English women for them to mate with? Nothing of the sort. As to this country, while I am far from saying that we can ever have too many women, we certainly have enough, and I should like to ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State what is being done about the emigration of women. I shall be told, of course, that we cannot emigrate women, because safeguard this and safeguard that must be provided in their case. Shades of the mid-Victorians. The modern girl is perfectly able to go anywhere and do anything. She is certainly well able to look after herself. The Englishwoman can be trusted in any part of the Dominions.
That is another aspect of this problem which needs elucidation and examination, and we shall make a great mistake if, in our enthusiasm, and because we realise the difficulty of answering over-populated countries, we forget that, after all, our great self-governing Dominions not only have the right, which was conferred by legislation from this House, but have 676 also the undoubted duty, to consider the problem from their own point of view first, and possibly from the point of view of the general welfare of all the States. Bearing this in mind, and being particularly careful to see that we do not look at the problem through selfish spectacles, we may be able to do some good. I should like to conclude with one other point. It is not true that the people who populated Canada were the down-and-outs who went there in times past. It is not true that we shall do any good in the future if that is the type of person whom we send to the Dominions.
In the days immediately before the War, and from the city where I started, Bristol, there was a line of steamships that went to Canada. It was run by the Canadian Northern Railway, which took young people from the West country. But whom did they take? Not the down-and-outs. They took some of the best people from the West of England during that time. On my journeys through Canada nothing gave me greater pleasure, all through from East to West and as far North as I have been able to go, to find people from my own West-country who went out in those times, knowing that it was a hard life. It is a hard life; you have only to look at it to find that out for yourself. If you have made good, not only in pounds in the bank but often in something that is far better, in the building of character, you have realised that you are living your life and doing a man's work.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Mr. De Chair
The speech of the Secretary of State this afternoon has rather focused attention on migration to Australia, because he said definitely that Canada, New Zealand and South Africa were not prepared, at the present time, to consider a resumption of emigration. Most hon. Gentlemen who have spoken have seemed reluctant to accept that position. A considerable number of Members have spoken at length about Canada as though the time were coming, if it had not arrived, when a resumption of emigration to Canada should take place. The hon. Member for Moseley (Sir P. Hannon) pointed out that whereas some 900 English people had migrated to Canada, something like 2,000 Ukrainians had migrated at the same time. Surely the Canadian Government cannot view 677 the immigration of the Ukrainian population, elements from the United States, as more satisfactory than emigrants from this country. It may be that they work more cheaply, but that may be a very short-sighted policy in the long run.
As I listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman I could not help thinking that here was a great opportunity, and that this great subject affected probably 400,000,000 human beings; yet he seemed to harp more upon the difficulties. He seemed to acquiesce in the difficulties which lay in the path. Surely if there are difficulties, and if the Dominion Governments seem reluctant at the present time to accept emigrants from this country, that matter should engage the primary attention of the Government of this country. As the hon. Member for East Leicester (Mr. Lyons) stated, the Dominions representatives will shortly be gathering here for the Coronation, and that should be a golden opportunity for discussing a great Imperial issue like this. As far as we know, no constructive plan has been provided yet by the Dominions Office. None at least was announced in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. As far as I could make out from that speech, he accepted the hesitancy of the Dominions as a reason for not going into the question of the resumption of migration to Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. It seems a great pity that all the statesmanship should be taken up with consideration of the international situation. Day after day there are Cabinet meetings where, for an hour or two, the problem of some epistle to Herr Hitler is considered at length, when, in point of fact, that energy of mind should be going into this problem of Imperial development.
I welcome the possibility suggested in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman of a resumption of migration to Australia. There again, I shrink from accepting his verdict that four of the States in Australia are reluctant to consider the question. I believe that with firm leadership from this country, the whole of the Australian population would be willing to consider the resumption of migration from Great Britain. The speeches of Dr. Earle Page and Mr. Stevens, when they were over here, definitely showed that there is an awakening in Australia to the urgency of repopulation of that country. They know that they stand isolated from the 678 rest of the Empire and that between them and us are the teeming millions of Asia. They have adopted a "White Australia" policy because they realise that if they once opened the door to coloured immigration, above all to the immigration of the Chinese, they would be completely swamped. They have recognised that the "White Australia" policy is the only alternative, to racial extinction. That carries with it the other alternative that, if they are reluctant to accept European emigrants and if they altogether bar coloured emigrants, they look eagerly to the time when Australia will be peopled largely with English emigrants. It is quite wrong to say that the attitude in Australia is hostile to English immigration. I spent five years in Australia, and I have therefore been disappointed with some of the speeches this afternoon by hon. Members who have been there also. They had not drawn such a magnificent picture as I should have liked of that beautiful country.
People out there realise at the bottom of their hearts that they have that enormous territory, larger than the United States of America which harbours 120,000,000 of people. Australia has only 6,500,000. They realise that that is bound to be dangerous, and that sooner or later they have to face the question of emigration to Australia on a large scale. Parallel with that feeling, that underlying instinct of the necessity of resumption of emigration other, although minor, considerations creep in. There is the consideration relating to party politics. Labour and Capitalism in Australia regard each other with suspicion when immigration is discussed. Labour is inclined to feel that an attempt is going to be made to dump a large working population of cheap labour upon the Australian market. The result has been that every Government in Australia approaches the question of immigration with a certain nervousness. They want the country populated, and they know that the natural process of the increasing birthrate will not be sufficient to fill the country in time. At the same time, they are reluctant to consider an immediate influx of immigrants. They fear opposition from the Labour party in Australia.
Surely these are matters which can be properly adjusted at the Imperial Conference. They can be overcome if there is any statesmanship left in the Empire. 679 We have in this country nearly 1,000,000 persons permanently idle, and at the same time there are 2,000,000 square miles in Australia of largely unpeopled territory. Surely there must be some means of welding that population with the barren acres in the Southern Hemisphere. The issue hinges upon the possibility of Australia not absorbing the emigrants. I have been into this question as carefully as I can, and have ascertained that one might reasonably expect Australia to absorb more emigration.
If we look back over the various decades during which the figures of immigration have been recorded in Australia, we find that in the period of the gold boom, when there was a tremendous rush to Australia, and during the years 1851–1860, the net increase of population was 600,000 people. That was an average of 60,000 a year, and as at that time Australia was thinly populated, having only a population of 800,000, this represented an increase from immigration of about 75 per 1,000 of the population. When the gold boom was over—and we must bear in mind that nine out of every 10 who went out there during the gold rush probably failed to strike any gold, probably failed to get even a decent standard of life, and encountered terrible hardships—we do not find that there was a sudden drop in the emigration figures to Australia. On the contrary, we find that they were fairly well maintained. In the following decade, 1881–1890, there was a net increase from immigration of 383,741, representing 15.8 per 1,000 of the population. That figure is important, because we find that later on, for no apparent reason, the figures dwindled almost to nothing. In the decade after that, 1891–1900, we find that there was in the whole 10 years only an increase of 24,000 from immigration, or only 07 per 1,000 of the population, as compared with the figures I have just quoted, namely, 15.8 per 1,000 in the previous decade and 75 per 1,000 in the decade before that. The story is almost the same in the decade at the beginning of the century, 1901–1910, when again there was only an infinitesimal increase from immigration—.09 per 1,000 of the population. In 1911, again almost for no apparent reason, there was a sudden expansion in the 680 emigration to Australia, and the figure, after having been down to 09, rose again to 13.2 per 1,000. In the four years 1911–1914, there was an increase of 250,000 immigrants into Australia.
One is prompted to ask what are the underlying influences which affect this stream of emigration. We see that it is like a river—at times a rushing torrent, at other times dwindling to an almost imperceptible trickle. It seems on investigation that emigration has coincided with periods of good trade, of prosperity in industry, and has tended to dwindle at times of depression and unemployment. There is no doubt that the conditions of life in the country to which the emigrant is considering going must affect him. If he hears that it is depressed, if letters come home saying that the conditions of life are bad and it is difficult to make a living, naturally he will not be inclined to go. But from the other point of view, that of how much emigration to a country affects unemployment out there, it is instructive to notice that, as a rule, high immigration has coincided with low unemployment, and that is probably a point which might be considered by the Dominions. The history of emigration has not shown that periods when there has been a great influx of immigrants have coincided with periods of bad unemployment. I have figures to show that, but I will not weary the House with them. I will only quote the remarks of Professor Copland, who was Dean of the Faculty of Commerce in the University of Melbourne when I was out there. In a report on unemployment to the Development and Migration Commission he said:What seems to emerge from a consideration of the question is that immigration is not a fundamental cause of unemployment.If that is true, it should go far to dispel the idea which is prevalent in the Dominions that a large emigration from this country is necessarily going to increase their unemployment problem. In point of fact, the ratio seems to be that, when there are about 7 per 1,000 of the population coming into the country every year, the unemployment is in the neighbourhood of 7 per 100. In Australia the figures for 1927 were 6.9 trade unionists out of every 100 unemployed, while there were only 7.9 immigrants per 1,000 of the population. Therefore, it seems to me very unlikely that, if migration were resumed on a 681 substantial scale, it would affect the unemployment problem in Australia. I have been trying to get out an estimate of what is the probable absorption capacity of Australia for immigration, and I have come to the conclusion, from an examination of the figures I have given to the House, that Australia can probably absorb to-day an immigration of approximately 15 per 1,000 of the population. That represents, on a population in Australia of 6,500,000, a possible annual emigration to that country of about 100,000 people. I should like the right hon. Gentleman, when he comes to reply to-night, to say whether he thinks that this amendment of the Empire Settlement Act is going to provide anything like an emigration of 100,000 a year to Australia—whether he thinks it possible.
When we look back over the history of the Empire Settlement Act, we cannot conceal our disappointment that, when there was £15,000,000 available in the first six years, only £2,000,000 was actually spent, and it was spent on a total number who went to Australia in those six years of 178,000, or at the rate of approximately £10 per head. That means that emigrants going to Australia in the first six years of the Empire Settlement Act cost this country approximately £10 per head. The Commonwealth Government, after the War, when they wanted to settle soldiers on the land and adopted a Soldiers' Settlement Scheme, spent £35,000,000 to settle 35,000 men. That represents a capital expenditure of £1,000 per head, and it is very unlikely that land settlement at any figure much less than this will prove successful. In this country we are spending millions of pounds a year on the dole, while these young men in the distressed areas would probably enjoy life far more in the sunny spaces of the Dominions if they could be substantially helped to start life there. If we could capitalise some of the money which is spent annually out of revenue on the dole to give these fellows a fair chance in the Dominions, we might have some chance of making Empire settlement really successful, but, if we are not go lag to set them up properly with sufficient capital, it is waste of time to expect young men to go out there provided with only £10 per head, which is what happened in the first six years of the Empire Settlement scheme.
682 I would only like to add one last point, and that is that there is a change of feeling in the Dominions with regard to the nature of the work that an immigrant is expected to do. Dr. Earle Page, when he was over here, pointed out that young Englishmen from industrial areas were going out to Australia and were expected to fight the almost primaeval conditions of life in the bush when they could not. really be expected to have the necessary physique or understanding of life under those conditions. Young men here are accustomed, on the whole, to industrial conditions, and therefore, he said, the Government of Australia were considering a change of attitude in that respect; they were considering the idea of settling more Australians on the land and allowing immigrants from England to work in conditions with which they were already familiar—industrial conditions, mining conditions, and so forth. That is a problem for statesmanship which surely could be solved. I only wish we could look forward to a real expansion of emigration, so that there would be some chance of Australia filling up. The empty spaces of the Empire stand as a challenge to us, while nations like Germany and Italy are complaining that they have no territory at all in which to expand. It is true that we developed those countries, and, therefore, our pioneering spirit is to a certain extent rewarded by holding on to them, but they remain as a challenge to us. I should like to see the right hon. Gentleman take up this question of Empire migration with the Prime Ministers of the Dominions when they are over here, and evolve some really practical and constructive plan so that people may be settled in the Dominions.
§ 8.55 pm.
§ Mr. Emmott
The House has just listened to a very interesting speech, and I hope the Government will be encouraged by the considerations advanced by the hon. Member to press the policy of migration with the utmost possible energy. I was pleased, and I think the House was pleased, by the tone that characterised the remarks of the Minister in moving the Second Reading of this Bill. It seemed to me, if I may say so, that the tone of his arguments was as robust and sensible as it was enthusiastic. Indeed, I thought it the most enthusiastic and encouraging official pronouncement on the topic of emigration to which the 683 House has listened for a long time. He stressed, both at the beginning and at the end of his remarks, the necessity for maintaining a high proportion of British stock among the peoples of our Dominions. Now it may be worth while to quote from the report of the Interdepartmental Committee a phrase in which they justify this policy, because it is not accepted without question by everyone. They say:The Dominions should be peopled as far as possible with those who have been brought up in the ideas, and are likely to cherish the beliefs on which the British Commonwealth of Nations is founded.The idea could not have been better expressed, and in that sentence, I believe, is contained the whole philosophy of the policy of encouraging British migration in the Empire. In dealing with the types of industry in the Dominions which may be expected in the future to absorb migrants, the right hon. Gentleman considered first agriculture, and then went on to consider manufacturing industry. He remarked that manufacturing industry in the Dominions is dependent upon agriculture. I quite agree, but the Dominions are not the only countries in which manufacturing industry is dependent upon agriculture. In all countries manufacturing industry is fundamentally dependent upon agriculture. But it seems to me that it is worth while noticing at this point of time that the present revival of agriculture in many of the Dominions seems, by its effect on manufacturing industry, to open up great possibilities of migration in the Empire, because it is certainly quite true that one cannot look forward—there is no reason why one should look forward—to an indefinitely expanding migration from this country of agricultural workers, but that one should anticipate a considerable migration of industrial workers.
The Minister said he hoped that the time was not far distant when the Dominions would be able to receive fresh reinforcements of British stock. But he went on to make a remark which has been a good deal commented upon in the subsequent Debate, and which caused me some concern. He said that the authorities who are to decide when the time for resumption of migration has arrived are the Governments in the Dominions, and that it is their decision that we must 684 await. That is a position which many of us find it impossible to accept. Why should we wait upon the decision of the Dominion Governments? Of course there must be co-operation with those Governments, but the right hon. Gentleman seemed to limit the function of the Imperial Government to that of the mere preparation of plans to be put into action when the moment determined by other authorities was seen to have arrived. Surely, we should not confine our functions within those limits. We are not to be confined merely to making plans to be put into operation when the moment, determined by others, has arrived. The initiative should surely come no less from us than from the Dominions Governments, and I should say rather from us than from them. There seemed to me in the right hon. Gentleman's attitude far too much emphasis on the necessity of our waiting upon others for decisions to be taken by them. We are in a position very much to influence those decisions, and I believe we should do our utmost to influence them. I wholly associate myself with the remarks of the hon. Member for Basset-law (Mr. Bellenger), who very much complained of this view that was presented to the House by the Minister.
The right hon. Gentleman said that Canada and New Zealand are in this position in regard to the possibility of the immediate reception of assisted migrants, that at this moment they are not ready to welcome them. I think that is not the end of the story, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider very carefully the extremely interesting and pertinent remarks which have been addressed to the House by the hon. Member who has just resumed his seat. Opinion is moving, I believe, in Canada and New Zealand, and I do not think we should rest upon the purely negative opinion on the question of the immediate reception of assisted migrants which was presented to the House by the right hon. Gentleman. Mr. Barnard, the Speaker of the House of Representatives in New Zealand, made a very remarkable speech on 16th December of last year in which he pointed out that the birth rate of New Zealand was showing a tendency to decline. He went on to say that the right of the people of New Zealand to occupy their country and to keep others out of it was in the last resort dependent upon the strength 685 of the British Navy, and that New Zealand might not always in all circumstances be able to count upon the support of the British Navy. He was not, of course, envisaging any failure on our part to fulfil our Imperial responsibilities, but military and naval demands in Europe might prevent us from lending the full strength of the British Navy to support New Zealand in case of attack. He asserted that they could not regard their country as being safe without a sufficient population. So he considers this subject of migration, so far as it affects New Zealand, not only from the point of view of economics, but also from the point of view of defence—quite a right ground on which to put it. He said that the new Government were much concerned about defence, and he was confident that they would tackle immigration and would welcome proposals—this is very different in its tendency and nature from the view which the right hon. Gentleman gave to the House—since the policy of emigration was imperative and urgent—I would ask the House to note this—in order to bring about economic stability, not to increase unemployment, not to disorganise the economic stability of the country, but precisely in order to bring about economic stability. He said that with proper schemes there need be no increase in the number of unemployed persons. Immigrants, of course, he pointed out, are consumers of the products of New Zealand, and he concluded with the certainly unexceptionable sentiment:No nation has ever been permanently prosperous if it has ignored the injunction, 'be prosperous and multiply.'The position, so far as Australia is concerned, the Minister admitted to be quite different from that which he asserted to exist in Canada and New Zealand; but I should like to ask him a question about the negative replies, which, he said, had been returned by four of the State Governments to the inquiry addressed to them by the Federal Government. Do I understand him to say that this negative reply made by the four State Governments to the inquiry of the Federal Government merely refers to the present time, or whether it is to be taken as representing the view which the State Governments hold, and which they anticipate no reason to contradict in any period of time for which we have to legislate? If that 686 is so, then certainly prospects of the advance of this policy in those States are bleak indeed.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that we must anticipate the development of secondary industries in the Dominions. Certainly we must expect that development. He described it as desirable—by no means too strong an epithet. There has been a curious tendency in much of the discussion that has ranged round this topic in this country, to assume that migration to the Dominions must for the greater part take the form of migration of persons who are interested only in agriculture. Many persons seem to deplore that migration which, on the one hand, may deprive the British Isles of some of her industrial workers, and may, at the same time, contribute to the development of secondary industries in the Dominions. That I believe to be a false view. I entirely agree with the description which the right hon. Gentleman applied to the development of secondary industries in those Dominions. The whole process of economic development is one by which countries emerge and develop from the pastoral, through the agricultural stage, to the state in which they have a flourishing agriculture, and a flourishing industrial economy. That is not a development which we should at all deplore or for any reason fear. I am very glad to observe that those irrational fears are not present to the mind of the right hon. Gentleman. We might also for a moment consider the effect upon ourselves—because it has been the subject of comment in the Debate this evening—of the possible removal from this country of some of our industrial workers. I do not think that that is a prospect that ought too much to alarm us. It is true that the nature of the migration of industrial workers requires to be extremely carefully watched in order to prevent the dangerous or disadvantageous removal from our industries of men who are sometimes described in official language as key men; that is men who are in such a position that great processes of manufacture and the instruction, possibly, of other men, depend upon them, and who are in fact irreplaceable. The Government may well be trusted to take measures to prevent any such thing from happening. But apart from such a possibility, we 687 should not be much alarmed by the possible migration from our islands of men whose ordinary avocation is that of industrial manufacture. If migration takes place upon any scale, they certainly will make their contribution to the establishment and development of manufacturing industries in the Dominions. Is that a result which we should deplore? Surely not. The development of manufacturing industries in the Dominions would mean the development of the wealth of those Dominions, and consequently an exchange across the national frontiers with goods that we ourselves manufacture in the British Isles. We need not at all regard the manufacture of industrial goods in the Dominions as of necessity disadvantageously competitive with our own manufactures. The whole of economic history shows that with the increasing diversification of industrial manufacture, industrial goods tend to be exchanged in increasingly greater quantities across the State frontiers.
I am sorry to say that I must join with those who have expressed regret on account of the reduction in this Bill of the money that can be spent by the Government upon migration. This is a topic which has been pretty fully examined by hon. Members who have taken part in the Debate. Therefore, I do not dwell upon it at any length, but content myself with a few remarks. Surely, this subject is one which requires to be treated with imagination, and with vision. I avoid the use of that grossly overworked word "psychological." But I say that it is a question of the effect which the reduction of the money available must have upon the minds of the people, who concern themselves with the policy of migration. Surely, we ought to do everything to encourage and nothing to discourage Imperial migration. There is no denying the fact that the diminution of the sum available for expenditure by the Government cannot possibly encourage migration, but must discourage it and depress those who are interested in it. The answer suggested by the right hon. Gentleman that the Government can always come to Parliament for further authority for the expenditure of money if this sum should prove insufficient is unsatisfactory. It is not so much a question of Parliamentary time; it is the fact that this reduction of 688 the sum available for expenditure must be taken by those interested in the subject at home and abroad as a measure of the activity of the Government in the question. We must view this whole matter not as something isolated, but as part of a system of Imperial economics. The movement of men within the Empire is quite as important as the movement of money, which is capital investment, or as the movement of goods, which is trade. Migration should not be left to take its own course, but should be the object of the direct and conscious activity of Governments.
A good deal of the argument to which the House has listened to-day, and certainly the argument of those who are opposed on various grounds to migration, seems to be based upon a false economic idea. The hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) attempted to convict of inconsistency those who at the same time sing the praises of Kenya, and urge the retention at home of farmers and those interested in agriculture. I think the answer to the opposition of the hon. Member and all those who range themselves with him is to be found in a single sentence which I quote from the report of the Departmental Committee:This question of migration should be regarded not merely as one of facilitating and regulating the flow of population from an over-populated United Kingdom into under-populated Dominions, but as one of redistributing the total available population of the Empire, so as to serve as closely as possible the political, social and economic needs of each part as well as of the whole.It seems to me that much of the argument of those who are opposed to migration upon some kind of principle, and to whose arguments we have listened this evening, is based upon a perfectly false conception of economics; that is that migration should not be encouraged unless it can be proved that there is a post vacant for, or a task not performed and waiting to be performed by the individual who migrates. That is a false notion, and it belongs to the old, childish idea, which has, nevertheless, found very firm lodgment in many minds, that of labour and wealth there is a fixed quantity, which is divided among those who make it, and that what is given to one is taken from another. Wealth is not a fixed thing, but a flowing stream, which is augmented or diminished in response to 689 a number of influences. Where the laws of a State are such as to encourage labour and the economic condition of the State is healthy, there are the conditions which are favourable to migration: then where there are energy, enterprise and ability, which are the true capital of man, the most valuable form of capital of all, there are the qualities which produce migration, and that migration must enrich the new country, because those who possess those qualities must inevitably increase its wealth.
As has been mentioned by other hon. Members, this is the year of the Imperial Conference, a year of tremendous importance in the development of our Imperial relations, and I urge the Government to use this great opportunity to press the policy of migration with determination, to take the initiative and not always to be waiting upon others. I do not think that it is an isolated experience, but it is an experience that I have frequently had; that when I discuss the prospects of the British Empire with intelligent foreigners, who admire it and are deeply interested in its future, I find that they are apt to pose this question, "Can your Empire survive? There are many ominous symptoms which seem to indicate that it cannot survive long into the future." That is not a view which I accept. I am sure that our Empire will survive: but only if we use it and strengthen it. As for this Bill, there is one feature in it, which as I have said I regret, but for its potential utility I accept it and I welcome it.
§ 9.24 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Commander Agnew
I was not able to be in my place when the Secretary of State moved the Second Reading of the Bill, but if his speech followed at all on the lines of that which he delivered on the Money Resolution, upon which the Bill is founded, I feel sure that he cannot have held up this Bill as a great landmark in the history of migration, and nobody who thinks about the problem of migration can have done so. Migration is not a one-sided matter. There may come a day, and I hope it will be soon, when the Secretary of State can come to the House and announce some Measure that he proposes to place before it which will bring into effect some adequate scheme of migration, but he will not be able to do 690 that unless previously he has had the opportunity of concluding a working arrangement and agreement with the particular Dominion concerned.
Recently, I have had the opportunity of paying a visit to a portion of one of the Dominions, namely, Western Australia. A certain amount has been said about conditions in Australia, and perhaps it has had attention focused on it more than any other Dominion because of the almost encouraging remarks which the Secretary of State made in moving the Second Reading of the Bill. One of the problems which Western Australia has to face is that there is among some of the younger people a tendency not to desire to earn their living by working on the land but instead to gravitate towards the city, Perth, and adopt some occupation there. I think the reason for that is not that the conditions or the chances of obtaining a livelihood on the land are so precarious, but rather that young people to-day are very gregarious individuals and like to be within easy reach of lighter amusements when they are not working. We have exactly the same tendency here in our own country, and therefore, when it is said that conditions out in Australia or any other Dominion are not good, it is really only part of this tendency to-day to dislike working on the land. But that tendency, bad as it is for the future welfare of any country, is one that in time will find its own correction. More modern days have brought wireless, and in the Dominions now they are bringing such things as regular aeroplane services, run at moderate rates, by which the people who work on the land can get into the city perhaps once a month, stay a week-end there and have their amusements.
As regards the various types of settlement which might once again be adopted, everything that I saw during the short five weeks I was in Western Australia, confirmed me in agreeing with the Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Migration when the bias of that report was definitely against any schemes of group settlement. It was easy to see that group settlement had failed. The blame must rest partly on the home Government, which did not take care—perhaps it could not—to see that the right type of man was sent out, and when once the man had arrived there was some fault 691 to be attached to the Dominion Government, which in the first place did not select carefully enough the land on which he was going to work and, having put him on the land, did not supervise him and assist him as efficiently as it might have done. But the lessons of these mistakes have certainly been learnt in Western Australia, and I do not doubt that if there was any blame attached to the home Government I believe there was—certainly they have learnt their lesson too. For emigration to be successful again, it will not be in the form of group settlement, because a group settlement creates that great difficulty of virtually a new community planted down on a comparatively large strip of land and having to make its own marketing arrangements for disposal of its produce.
Rather will success lie in individual men or, far better still, a man and his wife going out and joining some community or village which is already comparatively well established. If they do that, not only will they not have that economic difficulty which arises under group settlement, but they will find that the Australians or settlers already there will give them a kindly welcome and will be only too pleased to assist the Englishman or the man of any other nationality who shows a desire to settle on the land and earn his living. Apropos the remarks of the hon. Member for South-West Norfolk (Mr. De Chair) I do not think that any time is envisaged, at any rate for a large number of years, when Australia could absorb as many as 100,000 immigrants a year. That figure may come one day but it will not be in the time of anyone present in the House.
I would like to say a word about one experiment which is wholly good and ought to be supported and made known. That is the Fairbridge Farm School Scheme. I had an opportunity of staying a day and a night there and of seeing the activities of the children. I welcome, therefore, the provision in the Bill which will enable the British Government to contribute on a larger scale than it has hitherto done, towards schemes of that kind. But there is one good point about the Fairbridge scheme which is not often sufficiently stressed. Not only are you training there boys to take their place as Australian citizens, but you are training also girls, and therefore you are keep- 692 ing the balance of the population on the right side, which is a very important matter in a young State.
Migration depends fundamentally, not on the alleged lack of energy of any one Government on one side or the other, but almost entirely on the economic conditions. But there is another urge. Australians are becoming more and more conscious of their inter-dependence with the British Empire as a whole. They realise that they exercise sovereignty in their particular part, but they realise more than ever that, separated from the other members of it, they would be extinguished by some Power almost in a night. They listen to the remarks which are made in the eastern part of China and countries in that part of the Pacific, that "If you British do not fill up the land you have taken, then somebody else will." It matters not to any foreign Power whether it is this Government here which has the decision as to whether these territories are filled up. A foreign Power will only look at all that part of the world which, as he would describe it, is painted red, and will consider, if that is not filled up, whether it will not do it.
The occasion of the forthcoming Imperial Conference will be one when these matters can be discussed freely and frankly between the representatives of all the Dominion Governments and the Home Government. Certainly I think the Home Government will be in a position to urge the Dominion Governments to persuade their people to advance the necessary sums of money towards assisting migrants who go out with assistance from this country. Unless such assistance is forthcoming from both sides it will be idle and futile to renew the Empire Settlement Act as we are doing this evening. Of one thing I feel certain, and that is that the conditions are becoming more favourable again in Australia for a resumption of migration. The people of Australia are now beginning to desire others to come out and join in the great work which lies before them. If we cooperate with them, discuss these arrangements with them, then, when economic conditions justify a resumption of migration, we shall be able indeed to make a further step forward in peopling in the right way these lands of the British Empire.
§ 9.37 p.m.
§ Sir Robert Young
I congratulate hon. Members opposite on the long run they have had in discussing this Bill. I am afraid that I am going to strike a somewhat jarring note. We have been talking a good deal about migration, about the necessity for schemes of migration and about the vacant spaces of the Empire, but we have forgotten to talk about the persons who will be affected by migration in the future if the schemes materialise. We shall all agree that to-day and last Tuesday we have had very interesting and informative discussions on a very important matter affecting the industrial and economic conditions of the people of this country as well as of the people in other parts of the British Empire. The question of migration has taken up a good deal of time and has received much consideration in days gone before, not only in the British House of Commons, but in the Parliaments of the Dominions. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) was one of the principal exponents and advocates of migration. If I remember correctly he was responsible for the Empire Settlement Act, 1922. He visualised a much greater response to the facilities afforded by that Act for easy migration than actually took place.
The problem of migration contains industrial and economic factors not easily handled, yet I sometimes wonder why there is a problem of migration at all, and why the vacant spaces of the Empire have not been as rapidly filled up as was America many years ago. It is not because there is a want of people to fill them. There are thousands of refugees from Germany, from Poland, from Russia and from other dictator countries, who might find homes in liberty-loving lands within the British Empire, where freedom of conscience, liberty of speech and citizenship will not be denied them. Why do the agencies concerned with the welfare of refugees not use their revenues to settle them there? For instance, why do not the Jewish people find homes for their co-religionists, say, in Australia? Let me say here that I have every sympathy with the Jewish people in the protests against the persecution they are experiencing from autocratic and tyrannical rulers in various parts of the world, a sympathy perhaps only excelled by my horror and detestation of their persecu- 694 tors. In view of what is occurring in Palestine, a trouble not likely to be easily smoothed out, a trouble which may flare up again in the near future and create political unrest in many parts of the British Empire as well as in other parts of the world, why should not the Jewish people use a large portion of their vast wealth to find new homes for their coreligionists in Australia? I am sure they would be just as happy, contented and successful there as in other parts of the world.
We are here to-day re-enacting the Empire Settlement Act, 1922, which expires in May of this year, but we are doing it with certain important modifications. The main ground of complaint coming from political supporters of the right hon. Gentleman is against a reduction of the expenditure to be incurred for migration purposes in any one year by this country from £3,000,000 to £1,500,000. Why should they object to that reduction? It is based on the experience of the past. In the peak year of migration, namely, 1926, that amount of expenditure was not reached. With all the enthusiastic work of the voluntary organisations, with all the clamant demands and requests from the Dominions for migrants, and with the generous financial support of the British Government, there were not sufficient men, women and young people in this country willing to leave their homeland and settle overseas to use up half the amount allocated by this country to encourage them to do so.
Neither can hon. Members opposite argue that there was the possibility of an increase in the number of people leaving this country for the Dominions had no industrial depression fallen upon us in the succeeding years. The peak year of 1926 was still a long way from the industrial slump of 1930–31, yet from that year the number of migrants from this country rapidly fell. The right hon. Gentleman himself has given us the figures; 66,000 assisted persons in 1926 fell to 48,000 in 1928, a decrease of 18,000 in two years. There is no justification for assuming that in the near future, say within the next five or six years, the numbers of those who emigrated and the expense incurred in 1926 will be in any way within reach. It would be pertinent to ask now why the number of assisted persons slightly fell in 1927 and steeply 695 declined in 1928. Has the right hon. Gentleman made any inquiries to find out? It may be it arose from circumstances not discoverable. It may be that the law of diminishing returns was working in an unexpected way, and that, having in the most favourable conditions exported 66,000 of our workers, we could not expect to continue the process to the same extent. Perhaps there is something in that point of view, but we should not forget that even then we had over 1,000,000 unemployed.
I think there were other reasons for the decline. I say this, not as an argument against migration, for I am in favour of it under proper conditions, but as a warning to the right hon. Gentleman to make sure that in any future schemes he may arrange the industrial and economic position of the migrant shall be such that he shall have a good chance from the very beginning to make good in his new environment. The fact is that rumours were reaching this country from those who had emigrated which did not encourage others to follow them. Emigrants are not travellers seeking new experiences of scenery and climate; they are seeking in the main more permanent employment, they are seeking a safer and surer livelihood and ultimately—do not forget it—an easier way of obtaining and maintaining it than they had in the old country. Otherwise, why should they think of going? The fact remains that very many of them started on very insecure foundations. I hope that those who take great interest in the voluntary organisations will attend to what I am going to say.
What did the people who emigrated find? They found that there were large numbers of unemployed in the towns and cities. We in the trade union movement could have told them that before they went, but the voluntary organisations did not. It was found that labour was plentiful and that many of the promises that had been made to them were not being carried out. The agricultural conditions were harsh, bad and uneconomic, and some of the migrants were doomed to failure from the very outset of their new life. That is the reason there was a diminishing number of people emigrating from this country. That is the reason—and a very just reason too—for their refusing to leave their homes.
696 Now these statements may have been exaggeration of actual facts but they were very far from being untrue. Perhaps the House will permit me to read a portion of a letter I received from a lady visitor to Australia. She went out in 1935 to visit her daughter in Fremantle, Western Australia. What she writes is written in the truest spirit of Imperial patriotism. In fairness to the right hon. Gentleman, I will read the commendations as well as the condemnations. She writes:It is a grand country and I pray that it may be given to Britain to realise its responsibility in sending the right type of men to be settlers. I have met all types of emigrants and heard their tales, sometimes sad, sometimes humorous, and several very fine people I have met had come out to the group settlements. It was very thrilling to hear their story, and I am sure any true Briton would blush with shame, as I did, to hear of the treatment they received. They were just dumped down in some sort of shelter and expected to become farmers, without an implement of any kind or the means of securing it. Those people left home with high hopes after hearing of the possibilities of making a living in a beautiful climate; they were promised this, that and the other, only to find that the only beautiful thing was the climate. I met a couple from London in Perth who came out on the group settlements plan. They said they were taken up the country to a building and put down there. There were just four walls, lately occupied by cattle, and left there. The lady inquired "But where is the house?" and was told, "This is it, and there is the land." There they were left. After a very hard struggle they eventually arrived at Perth, where the father is now a transport driver and the eldest son is a shop assistant.Who is going to be a partner to sending our people, even unemployed people, out to anything of that kind? These are not isolated cases. The right hon. Gentleman has heard the letter I have read, and I ask him to make sure that in whatever other arrangements he may make that shall be an impossibility in the future. I also received another letter just before Christmas about a case in Newcastle, New South Wales. It is a letter complaining bitterly of the treatment of ex-service British soldiers in Australia, written from an ex-servicemen's centre. I sent a copy of that letter to the Minister of Pensions in relation to war pensions, but there were two paragraphs copies of which I sent to the right hon. Gentleman whom I thank for the reply he sent to me. I think it will interest the House to hear what is said in the last two paragraphs of this some- 697 what long letter. These facts are important if you are going to spend even £1,500,000 on filling up the vacant spaces of the Empire. I am all for that if you do it under proper conditions. Had I lost both my parents when I was a. youngster, I should probably have been out there myself, but as my mother was alive I was not allowed to go. I would be sorry indeed if I had gone out there, and found myself compelled to send back reports such as this:Things here are in a sorry plight. It is a case of the blind leading the blind. There are wonderful chances to establish thousands on the land, but it does not seem to be anyone's intention to start the ball rolling. A beautiful country, miles and miles of good ground waiting to be settled on, and no one to start a sane, settlement scheme going. I am sorry to say that the only people at present out here doing anything of that nature are the Italians.That is rather ominous—One will get a few thousand acres of land and in a few weeks dozens of his mates are with him. How do they get the £ s. d.? Well, they get it. We ought to do the same thing, but no one has any interest in us.That is from an ex-serviceman of this country. I make no comment on it other than to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether these Italians who can get these thousands of acres of land are under any necessity to get certificates of naturalisation? If they are not, then I say there is danger here of Fascist activity in the days that lie ahead. It is well to have the other side of the tale when we are dealing with a question of this kind which affects the lives, the consciences, the souls of men and women of our country who, some of them, willy-nilly and as a result of sheer necessity, have to go there. We have heard how the declining emigration figures, even with Government assistance, fell to zero. As the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) told us infiltration came to a complete cessation. He explained that infiltration meant that people in the Dominions were prepared to find jobs for relatives from this country. That process has come to an end. Even increased grants to voluntary organisations will not help those people abroad to find jobs for their friends here.
The fact is that migration came to an end, as has been said by the right hon. Gentleman, owing to the celebrated economic blizzard. I noted the word "celebrated" because I think it is aptly 698 correct. The economic blizzard overwhelmed the Dominions as well as ourselves; it overwhelmed America and the Continent of Europe, and the Conservative party celebrated it in this country by overwhelming the Labour party because that party was unable to bear the brunt of the economic blizzard of the whole world on its shoulders. We do not object to the right hon. Gentleman making arrangements now for the proper organisation of judicious schemes of migration when the time comes for such schemes to be put into operation with economic benefit to this country, to the Dominions, and above all to the migrants—and instead of taking third place they ought to take first place. But that time is not yet. Meanwhile, there has been placed at the right hon. Gentleman's disposal, or at all events promised to him by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, £1,500,000 for instant use, should these judicious schemes materialise to-morrow. Why not use that sum now for home development? Surely, it ought to be easier to put men on the land here than to put them on the land in Australia or anywhere else beyond our shores. The need for doing so is not only urgent but imperative.
Some of the right hon. Gentleman's friends are not wise counsellors. They want to spend millions for migration purposes, and to people the open spaces of the Empire with our surplus population. They want to develop those lands, but as and when those lands are developed, as soon as the food products of that development come to these shores, they clamour for import duties against the very people whom we have assisted to go out and develop the Empire. They make the old country pay twice over to enrich those who find it a profitable business to laud the Dominions while they stay at home in safety themselves. It is interesting to remark that while 66,000 persons were assisted to emigrate in 1926, that number of agricultural workers have ceased to work on the land in this country within the last three years. Surely, our own land ought to be our first concern. Surely we ought to use it for the purpose of food production. Surely our own workers ought to be kept on the land. When all is said and done this migration problem is an employment problem. No country wants to shed its employed workers. With these 699 66,000 back on the land, our unemployed would be reduced at a cheaper cost, and with more benefit to this country than if they migrated abroad. In view of the international situation, in view of the need for fully stocked granaries in our country, in view of the need for an ever increasing supply of home-grown food, the Government would be politically mad to encourage any one of these 66,000 to leave our shores. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister for the Co ordination of Defence should resist such a policy with all his might. The food grown in this country would need no naval convoys to protect it during war.
I will not repeat the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn). We think home settlement should come first; we think this Bill will be very much a dead letter for many years to come; we think the voluntary organisations should be more strictly controlled; we think the arrangements between Governments can be made to ensure the welfare of the migrants much better than they have been in the past; we think that if that were done, Government schemes could receive greater financial assistance without increasing the total expenditure. We object to the export of young people as a supply of cheap labour, to our own Dominions as well as to anywhere else. They should be placed under the care of an authority which will take pains to see that they are properly apprenticed and adequately remunerated, so that in the days that are ahead of them they may find themselves self-supporting men and women in the country which they have not adopted, but which has adopted them. We therefore pray that the right hon. Gentleman, whatever may be done in the near future about these schemes, will take care that nothing shall occur such as has occurred in the past relating to the shameful treatment of migrants from this country.
§ 10.8 p.m.
§ Mr. M. MacDonald
I can, of course, only intervene in this Debate again by leave of the House. I had my say on this Measure some six hours ago, but I think the House will expect me to deal with some of the questions and points which have been raised during the discussion, and I shall do so as briefly as I can. Three or four direct questions were asked of me. For instance, the hon. Member 700 who succeeded me in the representation of Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger), asked what proportion of the moneys expended by the Government on assisted migration since the War went in grants to voluntary societies. I have had the figures looked up, and I find that out of a total of £6,700,000 spent on assisted migration, just over £700,000 went to voluntary societies. Then my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Croom-Johnson) asked what about the migration of women and argued strongly in favour of it from the point of view of populating the under-developed Dominions. He will be interested to know that one of the few societies to which the Government have been able to continue giving financial assistance right through the depression, because of the actual migration work which it continued to do, was the Society for the Oversea Settlement of British Women, and the migration of women, in small numbers, it is true—something like 400 or 500 every year—has continued without a break. As I said at the beginning of the Debate, the question of receiving women for domestic service is one of the particular questions which is being considered in Australia at the present moment.
The hon. and learned Member for East Leicester (Mr. Lyons) asked whether the voluntary county committees were functioning. There are, I believe, something like 30 or 40 such committees still in existence, but scarcely any of them are functioning at the present time. They gave up their activities at about the time when migration came practically to a standstill. They did not see any purpose in meeting and having theoretical discussions on the matter, but they are in being. I agree with him that in some cases their constitution is not satisfactory, and the proper constitution, the establishment, of these committees is one of the which we must have in mind as soon as we have definite indications that emigration is going to start again on a larger scale. The hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Emmott) asked whether the negative replies which have come from four of the State Governments in Australia meant that those Govenments thought that assisted migration on a larger scale was impracticable at the present time or whether it meant that they thought it would continue to be impracticable for an 701 indefinite period in the future. As I understand it, they were merely making that comment on the present situation, and greater significance must not be attached to those replies than that. Finally, the hon. Member for Newton (Sir R. Young) asked whether the Italians who have been going into Australia are required to become naturalised Australians. I understand that they are not required to become naturalised Australians necessarily at all.
With regard to the general discussion itself: I have sat through quite a number of Debates on Empire migration during the last two or three Parliaments, and—I say this sincerely—I think that this has been by far the most interesting and the most pertinent discussion which I have listened to on the subject in this House. A great many interesting and important points have been made and some valuable suggestions have been put forward. I shall look forward, as many Ministers do, to studying those points and those proposals when they are printed in the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow, and to giving them very careful consideration. The hon. Member for Newton read one or two extracts from letters which gave an account of alleged bad treatment of particular migrants arising in some parts of the Dominions., I should not, of course, like to make any comment on those particular cases without having an opportunity to go into them fully. It is undoubtedly true—and we all know it and have to admit it—that some migrants arriving overseas do not meet the satisfactory conditions which we all hope they will meet. There are undoubtedly bad cases, and those are the cases we hear about. I believe, however, the hon. Member will agree that for one bad case there are probably scores of good cases, and we do not hear so much about them. I agree with him that the ideal should be no bad cases at all, and the responsible authorities ought to do everything in their power to eliminate bad cases. So far as the Government are concerned, when migration schemes start again we shall, of course, do everything that we can to see that migrants whom we assist receive good treatment and get a good start in their new environment.
I think that there is really a good deal of agreement in the House between all 702 parties on this question. With very few exceptions—scarcely any exceptions—we have been agreed that when conditions improve again migration will be a good thing for the Commonwealth as a whole. It is, therefore, perhaps surprising to be told that the Labour party are going to divide on this matter. The hon. Member for Rothwell gave two reasons why his friends would divide against the Bill. The first was that the Bill was being brought forward with undue haste, and he thought that it might be considered six months hence, to use the conventional phrase. I do not think that it is being brought forward with undue haste because, as has been pointed out again and again, something is going to happen even before the six months period is up. The existing Empire Settlement Act will come to an end four months from now, at the end of May, and unless we bring forward amending legislation the Government will be unable to give any assistance at all to any scheme connected with Empire migration.
The hon. Member was asked by one of my hon. Friends behind me whether he approved of the Fairbridge Farm School scheme of migration, and the hon. Member nodded his assent. That is one of the schemes we are assisting to-day. It is one of the schemes of which he approves and which it would be impossible for us to go on assisting unless we got legislation amending the Act in the very near future. Therefore, I would urge upon him that we are not bringing forward this amending legislation with undue haste. It is necessary so that such migration as is going on can go on without interruption and enjoy the financial assistance of the Government.
Then the hon. Member came to the second reason why he was advising his friends to vote against this Measure. He said that he was in favour of migration when conditions improved. He thought that the great majority of schemes were good. He reminded us of a fact, which the House readily acknowledges, that he himself played a very conspicuous part from 1924 onwards in assisting the migration movement by his work in the Dominions Office and first as Chairman, and afterwards as a member, of the Oversea Settlement Committee. He approved the great majority of the schemes that have been operated in the past and which we contemplate starting again as soon as 703 we can, but there is one scheme which he does not like, and opposition to that scheme is the reason for his opposing this Measure to-day. He does not like the old system of boarding out young children with families in the Dominions, and because he does not like that he is going to vote against the Bill. That particular question does not arise on this Measure. There is no proposal that that particular scheme should be started again.
§ Mr. Lunn
Is it not a fact that the Inter-Departmental Committee recommended that it should be restarted, and that largely as a result of that recommendation we have a separate Clause in this Bill increasing the grant which is to be given by this country from 50 to 75 per cent., and that this is not to go to the Government, but only to such people as he himself and his Committee recommend in that report?
§ Mr. MacDonald
It is true that the Inter-Departmental Committee's Report recommended that on certain conditions and with certain specific safeguards the scheme of boarding-out children should be continued, but because that was recommended by an Inter-Departmental Committee, even by a Committee over which I had the honour to preside, that does not mean to say that this Government is going to accept that recommendation. The question simply has not arisen at all, but because there is a possibility some day of the Government agreeing to join in such a scheme the hon. Member is going to vote not only against that possibility but against the possibility of the Government assisting in any of the other schemes of which he does heartily approve. I suggest that if the hon. Member really does in principle approve of migration, and really does, as I know he does, approve of the great majority of schemes, he should let this Measure, which is likely to be of such great assistance, go through, and then see whether that one scheme which he objects to is adopted by the Government; and if and when that occasion does come he is free to raise the matter in this House and to fight against it to the very best of his ability. Therefore, I suggest that no adequate reason has been put forward why Members in any part of the House who are in favour of a resumption of migration in principle should go into the Lobby against this Measure.
704 The hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. de Rothschild) was somewhat critical of the speech I made earlier. He said that I had talked a great deal about waiting until conditions were better in the Dominions, and that it was not satisfactory that the Government should sit with folded arms waiting for conditions to improve; could not they do something towards improving conditions in the Dominions? I agree with him, but we have done something, and have been doing it for some years past. The hon. Member said that what we were doing was imposing quotas and making "cuts" in Dominion produce coming into this country. It simply is not true. We have been doing exactly the opposite. It was this Government which, at the time of the Ottawa Agreements, for the first time gave Dominion products coming to this country very considerable preferences, either tariff preferences or preferences secured by means of quantitative regulation. I have a great list of those preferences, and if it were not so late I should read them out in order to prove my point.
The action of the Government has not stopped there. We did not simply give the Dominions these very valuable preferences. Having given those preferences, we welcomed the enormous expansion in the volume of their goods sent into this country. As a matter of fact, it is very largely as a result of our contribution, made at the time of the Ottawa Conference, that conditions in the Dominions have improved to a point at which we can seriously consider that migration may start again in the fairly near future.
There is only one other point which I would make, and then I will finish. Some hon. Members quarrelled with something I said about leaving the initiative to the Dominions. I have said once or twice that we must wait upon opinion in the Dominions and that we must wait for them to say the word "Go"; various other phrases of that nature I have used in my speeches. I certainly agree with hon. Members that we should not lie low and say nothing, and wait for the Dominions to do the talking. I am glad of the opportunity of correcting that misunderstanding. We ought to take every opportunity that comes to us of expressing our views to the Dominions, whatever the views we may have on the 705 matter, of persuading them when we think they ought to be persuaded, and of urging them when we think they ought to be urged. When Dominion representatives, either State or provincial, are here, we lose no opportunity of expressing our views to them on these questions. That is usually done informally, because you can very often make your point in informal discussion better than by formal representation. I agree that we should present our views to our colleagues in the Dominions, but we ought not to proceed—we cannot proceed—to carry our views into practice unless we get the assent and the co-operation of the Dominions in those views. It is in that sense that we must wait for their word "Go." I certainly hope that when the Dominion Ministers come here later in the year for the Imperial Conference there will be an opportunity of discussing these important matters with Dominion Prime Ministers
§ and other Ministers, in order that we may have a thorough exchange of views. It will not be our fault if the opportunity is lost of a full and either formal or informal discussion upon them.
§ Several hon. Members have declared that the Government should show its interest in this matter and should take the initiative in it. I have had an opportunity of showing this evening that we are taking some initiative. Putting forward this legislation is an initiative, and I hope that the House will show interest and take initiative by passing the Second Reading, if not unanimously and without a Division, at any rate by a very big majority.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 193; Noes, 87.707
|Division No. 52.]||AYES.||[10.30 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke||Dunglass, Lord||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Dunne, P. R. R.||Leckie, J. A.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Apsley, Lord||Ellis, Sir G.||Lees-Jones, J.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Assheton, R.||Elmley, Viscount||Liddall, W. S.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.|
|Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Loftus, P. C.|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Entwistle, C. F.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Lyons, A. M.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)||Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)|
|Blindell, Sir J.||Everard, W. L.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Fleming, E. L.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Scot. U.)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Foot, D. M.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Fox, Sir G. W. G||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Fremantle, Sir F. E.||McKie, J. H.|
|Bull, B. B.||Furness, S. N.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Fyfe, D. P. M.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. B.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Ganzoni, Sir J.||Markham, S. F.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.|
|Cary, R. A.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. HOP Sir J.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Gluckstein, L. H.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)||Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)|
|Channon, H.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Mitcheson, Sir G. G.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.)|
|Christie, J. A.||Grimston, R. V.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Clarke, Lt.-Col. R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Guy, J. C. M.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A J.|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Hanbury, Sir C.||Munro, P.|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Hannah, I. C.||Nall, Sir J.|
|Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle)||Owen, Major G.|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Patrick, C. M.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Peake, O.|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan||Peat, C. U.|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Petherick, M.|
|Crooke, J. S.||Holmes, J. S.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Pilkington, R.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Hopkinson, A.||Plugge, Capt. L. F.|
|Cross, R. H.||Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Porritt, R. W.|
|Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|De Chair, S. S.||Hunter, T.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Denville, Alfred||Keeling, E. H.||Rankin, R.|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)|
|Duggan, H. J.||Kimball, L.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Rayner, Major R. H.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Remer, J. R.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'lf'st)||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Smith. Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Rothschild, J. A. de||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Rowlands, G.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)||Spens, W. P.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Salmon, Sir I.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Salt, E. W.||Storey, S.||Wright, Squadron-Leader J. A. C.|
|Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Seely, Sir H. M.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Selley, H. R.||Sutcliffe, H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Shakespeare, G. H.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert|
|Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)||Touche, G. C.||Ward and Dr. Morris-Jones.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Potts, J.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Barnes, A. J.||Hollins, A.||Ridley, G.|
|Batey, J.||Hopkin, D.||Riley, B.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Jagger, J.||Ritson, J.|
|Benson, G.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Rowson, G.|
|Bevan, A.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Broad, F. A.||Kelly, W. T.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Bromfield, W.||Lathan, G.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Lawson, J. J.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Burke, W. A.||Leach, W.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Cassells, T.||Lee, F.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Leslie, J. R.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Cove, W. G.||Logan, D. G.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Lunn, W.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Day, H.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Dobbie, W.||McEntee, V. La T.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||McGhee, H. G.||Viant, S. P.|
|Ede, J. C.||MacMillan, M (Western Isles)||Walkden, A. G.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Walker, J.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Maxton, J.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Frankel, D.||Messer, F.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Oliver, G. H.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Paling, W.|
|Groves, T. E.||Parker, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Parkinson, J. A.||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Charleton.|
Bill read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House, for To-morrow.—[Captain Margesson.]