§ Again considered in Committee.
§ [SIR CYRIL ENTWISTLE in the Chair.]
Postponed Proceeding resumed on Question.
That a sum, not exceeding £38,830, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1941, for the salaries and expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs.
§ 7.31 p.m.
When Mr. Speaker took his place in the Chair just now, I was expressing the hope that care committees would be set up in the different places to which the children are going, and I feel that such committees will be welcomed by the Dominions and by the United States, and may be able to help to co-ordinate the efforts there for the good of the children. Those who regard this scheme as a policy of defeatism are quite wrong, and those who feel that America may come to regard it as her full contribution to the war are also wrong, in my opinion. I am satisfied that the children who are going to American homes, whose mothers and fathers are over here fighting for our country, will bring the vivid realities of what we are doing here more closely home to the American people and bring their war effort closer to us. We shall 761 also, through this scheme, build up strong ties of friendship which will be invaluable in the future. We shall bring to our own island here a knowledge of life overseas which should be of great value in our Empire-building after the war is over.
Finally, I think this scheme will make for the better carrying out of our military duties here, in that it will relieve men and women here of anxiety about their children. I can only speak from personal experience, but, as I told the House on the last occasion when this subject was discussed, my own children are with relatives in the United States, and we feel comparatively free to go about our war work and have been able to tackle things in a way which would not have been possible if we had had the feeling that danger might overtake the children at times when we might not be with them. I join with my hon. Friend opposite in wishing a happy time to all the children who go overseas, a time which, I hope, they will use to the best possible advantage. I hope they will go out as little ambassadors from this country, promoting good will and fellowship and making a substantial contribution to the feelings that others have for us. We can and we shall win this war if determination is shown. Therefore, do not let us tackle the problem on pettifogging lines. Let us deal with it broadly and in a big way, so that it may make the biggest contribution possible to our great war effort.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ Miss Rathbone (Combined English Universities)
I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Buckrose (Major Braithwaite), who, I know, has given great thought to this question, that one of the great advantages of the scheme is the relief which it will bring to the minds of parents. I sometimes think that that aspect of the matter has not been sufficiently stressed; that we have thought of the scheme too much as for the benefit of the children and of the value they will be as ambassadors and representatives of our race in America. To my mind one of the great uses of the scheme is that it will keep up the vitality of the fighting Forces in this country by relieving the minds of the fighting men and fighting women of pressing anxiety about the safety of their children. In passing, I hope the hon. and gallant Member will give up the habit, which does not belong 762 to his generation, of always referring to "women and children." It is a phrase which sets every woman's teeth on edge. Let the women accompany their children if it is necessary for the welfare of the children, but if women are not needed for that purpose their place is here with their men, fighting in every way that is open to them.
If I agree in admiring the energy and enthusiasm which the Under-Secretary has put into his task, I am disappointed with the scale of the scheme and his apparent satisfaction with its scale. The sending of 20,000 children is a much smaller effort than I had hoped might be possible. He may say that that is the maximum number that is possible in view of the shipping services, but I wonder whether the shipping position has been explored in a sufficiently original spirit. He quite rightly deprecated our looking upon the evacuation of these children as though it were a repetition of the evacuation from Dunkirk. Of course, the whole circumstances are quite different. For one thing there is no reason for frantic haste. All the same, I should like to see the spirit of Dunkirk brought into the scheme in the sense that the Dunkirk effort was distinguished by the extraordinary scale of our improvisation. We did not wait until all the ships ordinarily used for evacuating soldiers could get to Dunkirk, but used everything that was to hand. Have all the possibilities of using our ships been inquired into? For example, there are ships which have brought cargo to this country which could take children back, even though in small numbers only. Why concentrate only on big ships to be used exclusively for large-scale evacuation?
I agree with one speaker who said that we ought not to despair of getting the United States to make a contribution by sending ships to this country for the evacuation. It would mean a considerable departure from their present policy, but they sent ships to evacuate their own citizens from Europe and they might be persuaded, consistently with their policy of friendly neutrality, to send ships to take our children over there. Another point to which I wish particularly to draw attention is the position of the parent who desires to send his children to Canada—especially to Canada, because it is in the case of Canada that the difficulty particularly arises—entirely 763 at his own expense. The Parliamentary Secretary told us that he was against sending children in that way except under the limited scheme of sending schools as units, and that only because Canada had particularly asked for it. In that case they were making arrangements by which parents could pay for the sending of their children by passing a certain sum into their banks. That credit would be frozen, and there would be an adjustment at the end of the war.
I never have been satisfied with the reply given in this House as to why the plan could not be extended to other parents who want to send their children individually. I should be the last to urge that wealthy parents should have a preference that would crowd out poorer parents, if it is impossible to allow those arrangements on a big scale without taking up shipping space which is needed for the larger scheme, but I do not think this is the reason. A considerable number of parents have managed to send their children abroad, in most cases the mothers accompanying the children, because they have had friends in Canada who were ready to give the family hospitality. I have heard of many cases of people who have friends in Canada willing to take the children, and although they themselves could amply afford to pay the whole cost they were held back because they were not allowed to send funds to Canada, and because they would not let their children go there and live on the charity of their friends.
I know that the conventional answer is that it could not be allowed because of exchange difficulties, but I regard that answer as nothing but an excuse. It is obvious that the difficulty can be got over by the plan suggested for the schools, by frozen credits or by the method which I suggested the other day in a Parliamentary Question, the creation of a special trust fund so arranged that parents could pay whatever was considered the full cost—there might have to be an upward limit—of the maintenance of their children, their schooling, etc., in Canada. The money would be paid into the trust fund in this country until some arrangement could be made with the Canadian Government to advance money which could be repaid at the end of hostilities; or there might be some kind of barter arrangement. I am sure there is some way out 764 of the difficulty, and I do not believe that this is the difficulty which is stopping the Government.
Is the difficulty related to shipping? If so, does not what I have said also apply? Are there not ways in which families can make their own arrangements for getting their children into ships which are not taking part in the larger scheme? Is the difficulty shyness of approaching the Canadian Government on the subject? If so, there are ways of putting matters to a friendly Government, and especially to one which is so interested in the matter, without exactly asking favours. It is obvious that parents who do not want to be a burden upon the general scheme should be allowed to make their own arrangements. If you can send only 60,000 children—I think the figures given by the Parliamentary Secretary were 48 plus 12—
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education (Mr. Ede)
It is 42 plus 12.
§ Miss Rathbone
It is clear that that is only a minority of the children for whom application has been made. If the well-to-do parents can take themselves out of this scheme, why not let them do so? Why should people who want to send their children to particular friends in Canada, and are prepared to send them, be allowed to take up places in the general scheme which are badly needed for other children?. I cannot see the sense of that. The currency difficulty is an excuse which can be got over in the same way. If the difficulty is in regard to shipping, is the Under-Secretary sure that that cannot be got over too? I beg those who are concerned in this matter to go more fully into the question to find a way round.
Many people have written to me on this subject, and some of the letters have really touched me. They have put forward an extraordinarily strong case. One man, doing very important military work, said that he had managed to send his children to Canada because he had friends there on whose kindness he could rely. He said he did not like the idea that his children were going to be guests all the time, but that he had done it, and that it was extraordinary what a difference it had made to him. He had been able to give to his work a much freer mind now 765 that he thought his children were safe. I had another letter only this morning from a lady who began by saying that she had heard a week or two ago that her husband was missing and believed killed. She, too, wanted to send her children abroad. Why should she not be able to do so? Has she not suffered enough and given enough already? The difficulty which held her up was that of not wanting to be a burden on her relations in Canada. I beg the Government to give a little more consideration to this class of applicant.
I have only two very small points further to put before the Committee. I asked the Parliamentary Secretary some time ago whether he could assure me in his speech about the children of serving soldiers. There must be some very simple answer to the point, and I hope that the Government will be able to give me an answer. The last point is in regard to the principle of selection. I agree that it is most important that the right sort of children should be selected. I hope that priority of application will not give the right to come first. Preference should be given to the evacuated children, for two reasons. Parents who took advantage of the Government's evacuation scheme have, to a certain extent, a prior claim, because they have shown that they were willing to do something and did not merely ignore the warning which was given There is a more practical reason. If you want to be sure of excluding the wrong kind of child and to be sure that the children you select have not nasty habits of body or mind, or are not intolerably troublesome and likely to be a discredit to us in the Dominions, preference should be given to the evacuated children. If the selection is made wisely, this will be a very valuable scheme, but I urge the Government to enlarge it and to approach the matter in a more generous and exploratory spirit, if possible.
§ 7.48 p.m.
§ Sir Annesley Somerville (Windsor)
My hon. Friend who introduced this Debate is to be congratulated upon the expedition and efficiency with which he has brought this scheme into operation. It is a scheme full of great possibilities. There are some points which one might criticise. For instance, I find in the report that the Advisory Council was to consist of representatives who had had 766 experience in the care and education of children. Nevertheless, those who have had most experience in that direction are conspicuous by their absence from the Advisory Council. I refer to the teachers. There are members of local education authorities—
§ Sir A. Somerville
Possibly the Advisory Council may be strengthened to some degree. There are two points I would put, in particular. One is in regard to schools going as units. There are invitations from certain Canadian schools to schools of this side to go as units, and I hope that those invitations will be widely accepted, so far as is possible. I have had some experience of Canadian schooling. It is wide and spacious. They live a spacious life. Contact between English schools going as units and Canadian schools would be all to the good. For instance, in Canadian schools there is an assembly every morning. There these great schools assemble, perhaps some thousands of pupils and teachers. On the platform are the Union Jack and the Canadian flag crossed, and the schools sing the Canadian and the National Anthems. Sometimes there is a short address before school begins. That is how school begins every morning in the Canadian schools. The results of intercourse between an English school and a Canadian school working together would be of immense value to both countries. It has been said that allowing the schools to go as units might savour of panic. It savours no more of panic than evacuating schools as units from one part of this country to another. A condition might be made that no teacher of military age should go with these schools. With those conditions I hope it will be possible to accept the Canadian invitation to the fullest extent. I understand that there are shipping difficulties, but I hope those may be overcome. There is an invitation from Canadian universities to members of the universities of this country to send their children over, the Canadian universities being responsible for the children. I hope that that invitation will be accepted and aided.
767 Another point that I would like to mention is this. In the past we have seen many schemes of settlement overseas go wrong because of the lack of suitable after-care. This scheme, which is excellently organised and well planned this side, seems to fail in one respect, and that is in suitable after-care. A great deal depends on proper after-care in working such a scheme. I hope that that point will be fully borne in mind, and that arrangements will be made, both with the Dominions and with our friends in the United States, who have made such a generous offer, to see that the after-care of the children we send is efficient and continuous for a considerable time. I am glad to hear from my hon. Friend that financial arrangements in the shape of the sterling pool are being set on foot in order to enable schools that are invited, or individuals, to take advantage of the offer from Canada. The establishment of that pool will be of advantage to us.
I would only add that the possibilities of this scheme are great and promising. In the future it may well be that this scheme will develop to such a great and fruitful extent that the brotherhood of high ideals and love of freedom will have brought closer together the peoples of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I appeal to my hon. Friend and this Committee to go forward in hope and courage. I believe that this scheme will be of the greatest value to this country and to the Commonwealth of Nations.
§ 7.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Hubert Beaumont (Batley and Morley)
I am sure that the Under-Secretary for Dominion Affairs will be very gratified by the reception that has been accorded to the scheme to-day. However, in the chorus of praise and approval there has been a certain amount of what I think has been to some extent carping criticism. Generally the scheme has met with the unqualified approval of all Members of the Committee. It is to be regretted that this scheme was not conceived of many months ago. Not only should we have a large number of our children in the safety and security of the Dominions, but the scheme would have been working under conditions much more favourable, and the whole operation might be very much larger than it can now possibly be. Despite that fact, it is 768 good to think that even now, at this late hour, something is to be done, and I would like to add my congratulations to the Minister on the organisation which has been created in so rapid a time and for its enterprise and energy. The Under-Secretary must be congratulated on having cut away a good deal of what might have been dead wood in a departmental organisation. The scheme demonstrates that it is possible, even during war-time, not only to make rapid decisions, but to take effective action at once.
There are two or three points I wish to bring to the notice of the hon. Member who is to reply, and I would like him to deal with them. The hon. and gallant Member for Buckrose (Major Braithwaite) made an admirable suggestion that the parents of the children who are going to be sent overseas should be afforded an opportunity of seeing their children before they go. That is only humane. It would, however, be unwise if these children were brought back to their homes, for it would be bringing them into areas of danger. It would be equally unwise for the parents to go and see the children off at the port of embarkation. That would be disastrous. It would be upsetting to the children and might occasion great difficulty to those who have charge of the children. Therefore, I hope arrangements can be made for parents of all children who are going overseas to see their children where they are at the present time. The question of finance may come in, and it would be very undesirable that any parents should not be able to see their children because they had not the necessary money to pay the railway fares. I hope it will be arranged that the parents of those children going overseas shall receive free travelling vouchers to the places where their children are at the present time.
There is another point which is more for the future than for the present, but I have been asked questions about it. Some parents have said, "What guarantee shall we have of the return of the children as soon as possible after the cessation of hostilities? We may not be able to pay their railway and boat fares to come back." I pointed out to them that obviously it would be the responsibility of the State and the Government, having taken their children over, to bring them back to the homes of the parents at 769 the earliest possible time. It might be valuable if the reassurance were given that the children would be brought back without the parents having to incur any additional expense.
Criticism has been made in this Committee with regard to the size of the scheme. We all agree that it would be much more desirable if, instead of sending 7,000 children a month, we could send 70,000. However, gathering from what the Minister has said, the Department has been so organised that, on the basis of the scheme laid down, it can deal with an unknown quantity of children, with the proviso, of course, that there are in the Dominions and the United States of America the offers of hospitality and suitable homes for the children to go to. The question of the suitability of the homes is obviously one which this Committee cannot debate, but there are two points which should be borne in mind. We know not how long this conflict will go on. Not only are we unaware of the bitter form it may take in this country, but also of its length, although we are determined, that, long or short, it will be carried on until victory has been won. But these children may be away for some considerable time. Although they leave here as school children, they may before they return reach an age at which they would normally go to work. That will create big problems. First, there is the question of the age at which they should go to work. Some may prefer to start work at the age of 14, although in this country their parents would, perhaps, keep them at school until they were 17 or 18. Then there is the question of a definite supervision of the character of the work in which they will be engaged. Organisations should be set up in Canada for that purpose, and parents afforded the opportunity of expressing their views as to the kind of employment that they would like their children to undertake.
It is good that there should be a cross-section of the child community of this land sent abroad. That means that there will be a fair representation of the standard of intelligence, and, we hope, an excellent representation of the standard of health of the children of this country. Those children will take with them some of the traditions of the Old Country, and enrich the Dominions as the early settlers did. It is quite conceivable that these young 770 people, going out of the strife and turmoil of these unhappy days, will take a new vision and new hope even to the Dominions, and that as a result of the contact of these young lives with the people of our Dominions there will be—if such a thing is possible—a closer welding of the common interests of the people of this country and of the Dominions.
I was extremely pleased to note that such adequate provision was being made for people to go over with the children. That means that every child will be able to secure individual supervision on board ship. It is essential that in the choice of these helpers there must be a mixture of the mother and the teacher. The teacher may be especially valuable in preparing the children for the life of the new Dominion, but not so useful if the child is suffering from sea-sickness or other illness or even home-sickness. On every ship there should be at least one person who has a knowledge—if possible, a personal knowledge—of the Dominion to which the ship is going. Such a person will be able to instruct the children on the nature of the country and the story of its growth, so that the children may perhaps have a greater knowledge of that Dominion when they arrive than some of the people living there.
People are saying that to send children away is an act of defeatism. It is nothing of the sort. It is a wise policy that we should have adopted long ago. If we could get rid of all the aged people, the sick people and the young people, we could defend this country much better. We want to free men and women from anxiety as to what is to happen to their children. Obviously, it will be a great trial to them to part with their children, but they will undergo that in order to ensure the safety of those children. By sacrificing themselves in that way they become free to undertake work which at present they cannot do. I am sure that those children who go to the Dominions will in days to come thank their parents and those who have initiated the scheme. We have been told that we have to do this in order to make the children safe. That is true, but we want to do more than make the children safe. We want to make this country safe for the future; safe against invasion; safe so that in the days to come, in the very near future, we hope, these children may come back from the lands they have visited to their own 771 homeland, to be received with joy after an experience that will have enriched them and will have enriched the Empire as a whole.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Hannah (Wolverhampton, Bilston)
Despite the rather unpleasant associations of the word "evacuation," I look at this scheme with great enthusiasm. I believe it may help us, materially, to solve one of our most difficult Imperial problems. I should like to say a few words from the point of view of one who has lived long years across the seas, both in the Dominions and in the United States. We stand between two worlds, the Old and the New. On one side we have Europe; on the other, the new Dominions, scattered throughout the world. We have two positions among the nations of the world. We are, and must remain, a European Power; but, far more important, we are a member of a sisterhood of free nations scattered over the world. It is inevitable that our own education should be mainly European. Europe is near; the Dominions are, geographically, far off. We have to teach our children, in the first place, something of the European background, which is, after all, the background of this country. We cannot help asking: Can any good thing come out of post-war Europe? Earnestly, we hope that it can; but, I think, nothing can compare with the enormous benefits which we may gain from our Dominions. Some of the Dominions, politically, tend towards the Right, that is, Canada and South Africa; others, rather towards the Left politically, are Australia and New Zealand. That is unimportant, comparatively speaking. They all mean very much the same. Everywhere there is that splendid opportunity open to all, the common school where the children of rich and poor sit together on the same benches, the buoyant optimism and the abounding hope of what the New World means for humanity.
I agree most emphatically with those Members who have emphasised the point that our children must be taught something about the Dominions to which they are going. They must be adaptable and able to take their part in a social and economic atmosphere completely different from ours. Education in the Dominions is naturally quite different from ours in very many ways. Some years ago when 772 I was a professor in the Middle West, I happened to find that of my class of 21, all college graduates, only one had ever heard of Monte Carlo. I do not say for a moment that they were any the worse off for that. Very likely it was all the better, but it seemed to illustrate in a very remarkable way the completely different background of New World children from that of people in any part of Europe. These boys and girls who are going to find new homes, if temporarily, in the New World must be told before they embark that they have to be adaptable and that they have to live as Canadians, South Africans, Australians or New Zealanders, for the time being. Above everything else, I hope that they will leave behind any idea that the English are superior. I hope that we have got rid for ever of the old, rather common Victorian view—soiled goods for the Colonies.
I do not think that anybody has emphasised the fact that these children will inevitably help in the homes to which they are to be sent. They will be expected, and I hope that they will be extremely willing, to help to get in the crops, to mow the lawn, to black their own boots, to make their own beds and to do their share of housework and those things, which, in practically every Dominion home, the guest who stays for more than a few days is expected to do. In that way our children can get an extremely valuable experience and I hope, considering the inevitable difficulty in most Dominions of getting in the harvest, that this will be something in which they will be extremely anxious to help. The picking of apples and the small fruits is ideal work for children, and I know from my own experience that there is often very great difficulty in the Dominions in getting that kind of work done. I do not think that it matters very much from what homes our children come, but they must realise that, in the New World, it makes very little difference. They will go to the same schools and have the same opportunity. Heredity is believed in very little indeed.
I can imagine no greater benefit to this country than that we should have a large number of citizens who have lived during the most formative period of their lives in the Dominions and have thoroughly got the Dominion point of view. It will 773 help us to do what we all realise to be extraordinarily desirable—to bind together the scattered Dominions of the King under whatever sky they may be. I think that this scheme, if properly used, and if the children are definitely told that they are going to new lands and not to a little new England, may be a colossal advantage to the children themselves, to the community, to our war effort and to the whole future of our work in the world. It is more than a hundred years ago since George Canning in this House said something about being compelled to bring in the New World to redress the balance of the Old. We are called upon to bring in the buoyant optimism of the New World to rebuild the ruins of Europe, and this scheme may make an extremely important contribution towards that end. But we must avoid sending out children who cannot look at things from any other point of view than that of the Old Country. They must not assume any kind of superiority because they come from this land. We need more and more to realise that we do not regard our children beyond the seas in the old way, but look for their advice and help, because we feel that in many ways they have a better way of life than our own. After all, it must be remembered that some of the Dominion statesmen are among the most learned in the whole Empire, and so I hope this scheme will be of enormous benefit, not merely temporarily, but for the ages.
§ 8.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Owen Evans (Cardigan)
I would like to join in the expressions of gratitude of Members of this Committee for the generous spirit which has been shown by the Dominions in regard to this matter. I know that they are extremely anxious to help us, and will go very far indeed to help us, in taking more of our children. I happen to be connected very closely, perhaps more closely than most Members of this Committee, with one of the greatest industrial undertakings in the Dominion of Canada, and I have had plenty of evidence from there of the desire of individuals to help individual families in this country to send their children overseas in order to be taken good care of in their education and their general lives during the war. I believe that in the industrial areas in Canada they could easily take a hundred or two hundred 774 children of their associates from this country, and they join in the appeal which has already been made to the Minister and to the Government that some arrangement might be made in order to assist these people, who in such circumstances could send their children over, to contribute towards their maintenance. It is extremely difficult indeed to persuade parents in this country to send their children over to be entirely dependent upon the charity, good will and kindness of their friends in Canada. I know that the answer will probably be given—and it has been indicated already—that there are difficulties in the way of doing that. I hardly think that any shipping difficulty would be in the way, because the number who would avail themselves of the opportunity would not be so very great. But in any case they would still be entitled to come within the Government scheme and make their application in the ordinary way, so that the extra number who would be a tax on shipping would not be very large.
With regard to the exchange problem, we have been informed to-night that it is a difficulty which looms very large in the minds of the Government and still more in the minds of the Treasury. However stringent the question may be to-day, I hope that now that the Government have appointed a well-known Scotsman—Lord Catto—to be Financial Adviser to the Treasury the question will be reconsidered. Lord Catto is a man who is greatly respected and who knows the dollar question through and through, and I suggest that this matter should be seriously taken up by the Government in order to see whether the arrangements made in regard to schools cannot also be made with regard to individual families who desire to send their children to Canada.
The hon. and gallant Member for Buck-rose (Major Braithwaite) mentioned in the course of the Debate that his children were already in America. I know there are others, and I would like to know how they are getting over this financial difficulty. I know there are distinguished relatives of Members of this House, and even Members of the Government, who are sending, or proposing to send, their children to America, even with their mothers, or to Canada or some other Dominion. How are they getting over this financial difficulty, because others 775 who would like to do the same would be glad to know? I can hardly credit that these people are relying on the charity and good will of their friends for an indefinite period which may be for years. How can it be done if there is frozen credit here? Surely if our Canadian friends are prepared to advance money on the other side, and rely on credit of sterling which would only be met after the war, that cannot possibly injure the financial credit of this country during the war. In view of what has been said to-night, I would like the Minister to reconsider this matter.
I want to draw special attention to the question of the selection of the children, particularly in relation to the Principality. In the Principality there is at the moment a very active movement which was initiated from the other side of the Atlantic. Welsh communities in Canada and America have been in touch with Welsh people in Wales and are prepared to organise the reception of Welsh children in their countries. I know that this scheme might very well be worked in with the Government scheme, although I have no doubt it will be said that Welsh Dominion settlers can go to a reception committee in Canada, get into touch, and designate children to go from Wales into their Welsh families. But Wales is the only country in this island, with the exception of part of Scotland, which has a language of its own, and I want to draw the attention of the Government to this fact, that in America and Canada there are Welsh communities who preserve their language and have done so for the last 100 years. They have their Welsh churches and Welsh schools, their Eisteddfods, their national festivals and concerts, and it would be easy to establish contact with those communities in Canada so that the children from Wales who may be sent away might feel more at home there.
I want, also, to protest to the Minister against this constant neglect of the peculiar conditions which apply to Wales. I know the Minister has appointed an Executive Board and an Advisory Council, and my recollection is that he has two members from Wales on that Council and that there is a note with special reference to Welsh conditions. One of the members is a very well-known and distinguished educationist who certainly 776 knows the conditions in Wales. This is shown by the figures we have had this afternoon from the Minister. He said that a quota of 75 per cent. of children in England and Wales would be given to those who have been, and are being, educated in State-aided schools and the remaining 25 per cent. to those from other schools. But, on the other hand, in Scotland, the quota is 98 per cent., compared with this 75 per cent. May I point out the ridiculous position in which Wales is placed by coupling up with England? We ought to be, and would like to be, coupled with Scotland. From 90 to 95 per cent. of Welsh children do not go to private or public schools; they are educated in secondary schools and intermediate schools which are State-aided, and in selecting children it is quite wrong that you should allocate to Wales the same percentage as you do to England. I would ask the Minister to bear in mind that in allocating the quota the proportion should be considerably altered so as to approximate to the position of Scotland.
We are informed by the Minister, and it has been stated in this Debate, that priority or selection is to be given to those children from vulnerable areas and also to those children who have been evacuated from vulnerable areas to reception areas. How does the Minister regard South Wales to-day? Is South Wales a vulnerable area? Children have been evacuated to South Wales, which has been regarded as a reception area, but I am not disclosing any secret—for it has been published daily in the Press—when I say that South Wales is to-day one of the most vulnerable areas in any part of the Kingdom. It will be a very serious thing for the country and the production of munitions unless the Government wake up to the fact that changes have taken place, and that South Wales, which was a reception area, is now one of the most vulnerable areas in the country. What sense is there in selecting children on the basis of some territorial arrangement in which one area is vulnerable and the other is not? There is no safe area in this island any more. A great deal has been said about the extent of this scheme. Of course, as far as it is disclosed, it is infinitesimal. It is so small that it will not do anything from the point of view of making this country a fortress. One hon. Member has referred to the figure of 7,000 children a 777 month going to the Dominions. I do not know from where the hon. Member gets that figure. Is there a Government scheme by which 7,000 children a month are to be evacuated to the Dominions? What I understood the Minister to say in his speech was that the Dominions as a whole had indicated their readiness to take 20,000 children. Is it a fact that at the moment no indication has come from the Dominions as a whole of any figure higher than 20,000?
§ Mr. Ede
I would prefer to deal with this matter in a connected statement. The hon. Member will realise that these matters are still under negotiation with the Dominions, and that the Dominions are sovereign states. We cannot send a shipload of children off to the Dominions as we might send them off to the Isle of Man. These negotiations with the Dominions are very delicate. We have had offers in a good spirit which we are trying to expand. If I gave a definite answer to-night which might appear to indicate some limit to our ambitions, it might not secure the end which the hon. Member and I both have of trying to get away as large a number as the Dominions are willing to take and as the ships will carry.
§ Mr. Evans
Then I am quite right in saying that at the moment negotiations are proceeding. The Dominions may express the wish and desire to have many more, but at the moment 20,000 is the number which they are prepared to take, and I should be glad if, in the course of his reply, the Parliamentary Secretary would break up that number into figures for the different Dominions. I should like to know how many will go to Canada, to Australia, and so on? I should like also to know whether the hon. Gentleman can give us the proportion of boys to girls in the applications that have been made. I understand that already applications have been received in respect of 42,000 from grant-aided schools and 12,000 from other schools.
§ Mr. Ede
On that point I shall not be able to satisfy the hon. Member. He will realise that the application forms were first in the hands of the local authorities on Saturday, 22nd June. The local authorities have had to get the application forms to the schools. The children have had to take them home. The parents have considered them, and the forms have been brought back. Where the parents have signed the form asking for the child to be accepted, a medical inspection has had to be arranged, and the forms have been then sent back from the school to the local education authority. To my knowledge of one great local education authority with which I am connected, a voluntary staff has been working night and day in order that these forms might be sent back as speedily as possible. It has not been possible up to the moment to make any exhaustive analysis of these forms. We have given the House the numbers, but in the circumstances it has not been administratively possible, with our own staff working to very late hours at night and the local authorities' staffs working night and day for 24 hours continuously, to do more than supply the Committee with bulk figures at the moment.
§ Mr. Evans
I was not making any complaint. The hon. Gentleman is unable to give the figures at the moment, but it would be interesting to know as soon as possible the number of boys and the number of girls who will be allowed to go. It seems to me to make a great deal of difference to the value of the contact with the Dominions. The Minister said that accompanying these children on the ships there will always be a doctor, a nurse and a chaplain.
§ Mr. Evans
I bow to the hon. Gentleman's superior knowledge in that respect. Another point I want to make is that I 779 very much doubt whether the age should be 16. I feel that it would be better if no child over, say, 12 or 14 years of age were sent to the Dominions. I want the Minister to give some sound reasons why children up to the age of 16, when they are in many instances about to earn their living, should be sent to the Dominions. I suggest that there should be reconsideration of the question of the age of the children. There is a good deal to be said in favour of limiting the age to 12 years. I do not look upon this scheme as a sign of defeatism, but I do say that it is on such a small scale and that with the two conditions laid down, firstly, the limitation of shipping space, and, secondly, the limitation of the absorption capacity of the Dominions, it can never be on a large scale unless there is a good deal more enthusiasm behind it. There should be a much greater effort to make the Dominions realise, by people who know something about them, how much help they could be in this direction. I regret to say that many people in this country who wish to go away favour sending youngish women with their children. I think that is evidence of some defeatist spirit. All young women with children between the ages of 5 and 16 should remain and do some work, and I hope the Government will discourage at all times sending young mothers away with their children.
§ 8.42 p.m.
§ Rear-Admiral Beamish (Lewes)
I do not wish to follow the last speaker, except to say that in my experience I have come into contact with Welsh colonists, a very large number of them being in the Continent of South America. I should like to pay my respects to them for all that they did for us, and to say what good Colonists they were. I would remind the Committee of something about which they probably know already, namely, that when it came to a Welshman being asked to learn a second language, and subject himself to compulsory military service, that was too much for him. They appealed to the British Government, and the present Prime Minister saved the situation and transferred them to Canada. I have the highest regard for them as hosts and also as Colonists. I hate to strike what may appear to be a discordant note, but, after all, our Debates in this House are 780 intended to display the various differing views. One might suppose by the atmosphere in this Committee—and it is to our credit in many respects—that we were not within 30 minutes of many thousands of enemy bombers which would be in a position to blow this place into dust and rubble if it were not for our own defence forces.
I cannot help feeling that this Debate has taken place more in an atmosphere of peace which is quite unjustifiable. The difficulties which face the Ministers who have to deal with these problems are brushed on one side in the most cavalier way, although these difficulties are very real and very serious. I should not like anyone to say that the hon. and gallant Member, a naval man, ought to have known better, because he has travelled about the world, than to oppose the idea of transferring our children to the Dominions. That is not my view at all. On the contrary, I have always been staggered while I have been in the House that practically nothing has been done during the 16 years I have been here to add to the British population of the Dominions. But now, under the stress of war, do not let us forget what the impulse is at the present time. It is not an Imperial impulse, but an impulse of quite a different kind, and one which is quite understandable, although it is not quite so worthy. Do not let us make any mistake about that. I venture to say that it was not by such methods of sending people abroad to people the Dominions that this British Empire which is now in peril was built up.
Unfortunately, I was unable to be here for the whole of the afternoon, because I was attending to at least two other subjects which have for their prime object the preservation of this country and of the Empire and world, and not the avoidance of danger either for ourselves or for our women-folk or for our children. I cannot help saying also that a good many Members who have spoken this afternoon appear to be fathers without children and bachelors. If this Debate had been conducted by women and the mothers of families, we should find a very different note struck. During the last few days I have come into contact with a good many mothers who are debating with their hearts and with their husbands whether their children ought to be sent 781 away, and I do not find any of them viewing the prospect of having their children taken from them with anything but sorrow and dismay. Let us make no mistake about that.
I now wish to refer to something which seems to me to have been lightly brushed on one side. I have been a captain of a ship—many of us have been captains of ships—and for a man who commands a thousand men there is never a minute during his waking periods when he does not remember his grave responsibility for the safety of the people on board. Can anyone imagine a more precious cargo than, let us say, 2,000 or 3,000 children, which a passenger liner could quite easily accommodate? That ship, either in convoy or without convoy—it is not for me to say—is going to run incredible risks by mine, torpedo and aircraft, and also the perils of the sea. Is anyone going to suggest that that is an easy or nice prospect for the Government who have to face this thing? We should all be deeply distressed if such a precious cargo was to come to grief, and I am glad to see that the Government are pausing to remember that aspect, and realise the terrible dangers from the violence of the enemy as well as the dangers of the sea.
I have already hinted that in all these years that have passed nothing has been done to send children and families abroad, and that this does seem to me to be a queer time to be doing it. Some Members may say that what the hon. and gallant Admiral is saying has no bearing on the subject, but I consider that it has. We have a right to be interested, and perhaps even to inquire whether the enemy which we are going utterly to defeat and annihilate are evacuating their mothers and children. Some people may say there is nowhere for them to send their mothers and children, but that is not true; there is Sweden, for example. To the best of my knowledge, they are not evacuating them. Therefore I ask that people should realise what all this means. Someone has said these ships will all be lighted up, the children will be perfectly safe, and we should use some marvellous signal to say, "This is a cargo of children. Keep off." Someone else remarked that the people who are prepared to machine-gun refugees and have done the actions of which we are all aware are not likely to be deterred, 782 but rather to be attracted by the illumination. I would not for a second trust them in that respect. Further than that, I almost hesitate to remind hon. Members that we are at war and that an enemy is justified in saying, "You shall not evacuate your people. You are evacuating in order to make the problem easier for you. Our ambition is to make it as difficult as we can. You are in the position of a beleaguered island—an invested city." Everyone knows in history that when an invested city has said, "We wish to evacuate our women and children," the reply of the enemy in 99 cases out of 100 is, "No. Let your difficulties get greater. We are not going to help you."
We have to realise again that grave risks attend sending these people overseas. There is a moral aspect which I hope I shall be forgiven for mentioning, but I do not know that I want any forgiveness. What is a young man or woman going to say when in the years to come, when we have won the war, he is asked, "How did you come to be in New Zealand or South Africa?" "I was sent there because the Government, under pressure of the people and because they were nervous of what might happen to me and my small brothers and sisters, sent us here." I am sure no children of mine would like to have to say that. We are running the risk of implanting in the minds of the charming youngsters of whom we are all so fond an ineradicable memory of something that I wish we could avoid, and I feel confident that they will feel the same. I profoundly disagree with any large measure of evacuating the children of the country. I do not think that the small, carefully-thought-out, step-by-step scheme which has been put before us to-day is seriously wrong. On the contrary, some very good things will no doubt come from it. But anything in the nature of encouraging what I have permitted myself to call the refugee spirit is something to be most studiously avoided. Everyone must know—I have known at first hand—what has occurred on the Continent during the recent German advance, where it was clear that certain nations, if not all the crushed nations, were refugee nations, and every piece of evidence that I have been able to get together has shown me quite clearly, what I already knew from certain experiences of my own in other parts of the world, 783 that a refugee nation is a defeated nation, and therefore anything which tends to promote the restless spirit of the refugee is something that we British people should most carefully avoid.
I must refer to two things said by the hon. and gallant Member for Buckrose (Major Braithwaite). He remarked what a wonderful place the United States is for children. I know it is. I also know that there is a very good apple grown in this country known as the American Mother. The reason it is called the American Mother is that it has only one Pip.
I do not think that is the sort of thing that ought to be said in the Committee at this time. America has shown herself our friend and is willing to give us all the armaments she can, and to cast any aspersion in that direction is something that I bitterly resent.
§ Rear-Admiral Beamish
If my hon. and gallant Friend feels that I have hurt his feelings or said anything likely to upset the susceptibilities of friends in the United States, I am sorry, but none the less what I have said is a fact, and they must have very thin skins if they could not put up with that. My hon. and gallant Friend also said something to the effect that the United States might come to the rescue of this country. I permitted myself to say we were not in want of rescue.
§ Rear-Admiral Beamish
I am of the opinion that we cannot do anything likely to get less help from the United States than to let them think that this country is either down or out or in want of rescue. I have a pride in the feeling that we are the keystone of the world and that we shall carry our own burdens and solve our own problems. While I should be the first to accept, and do accept, the suggestion of aid coming from the United States, I am certainly not going to cry craven. I apologise if I have hurt anyone's feelings, but I think we ought to be realists in the matter of the evacuation of children. I welcome the small, thoughtful, progressive scheme which the Government have provided, but I urge them with all the capacity at my command to see that they are not carried away on a wave of 784 national emotion and that the refugee spirit is not encouraged.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Parker (Romford)
It is with some diffidence that I rise after the last speaker, being a bachelor. I strongly disagree with most of what he has said. It seems to me that it is not displaying the refugee spirit at all to take precautions to see that people who might be refugees are moved out of harm's way so that we can concentrate on the job we have in hand. In the early months of the war the Germans evacuated the Ruhr and the Rhineland, a very large territory, which they thought was within raiding distance from France, and they have only recently sent women and children back there. We have settled our various Dominions in different ways at different times. We have sent convicts to Australia, and I do not see any reason at all why the sending of children at the present juncture to the Dominions should not, in the long run, prove part of a policy of settling those areas. I do not agree fully with the Leader of the House that this is solely a war-time measure. I agree that it is important that it should be looked upon primarily as a war-time measure, but many war-time measures have results which last after the war and, if it happens that part of the result of this scheme will be the permanent settlement of children in the Dominions, it is only right and proper, in looking at the scheme now, that we should bear that point in mind.
With regard to the question of looking at it from the war-time point of view, it is important that we should regard it strategically. When we bear in mind the experience of France recently, it is important that we should consider a number of points which have not so far been examined. I notice that when General Mittelhauser in Syria decided that he would submit to the armistice agreed to by the French Government, he was governed largely by the fact that, in Syria, the officers of the French Army had their wives with them but the men had their wives and children in France, and they knew that if the Government of Syria did not keep in line with Petain's Government no money would be forth-coming for the wives and children in France. I do not suggest that in every case it is possible to move the wives and 785 children of people who are serving, but I suggest that where it is possible to do so, it would be wise. In cases where serving men want their wives and children sent overseas, every effort should be made to assist them, especially in the case of sailors. Other people who might be given assistance in sending their wives and children overseas are instructors who are going out to train airmen in Canada, people who are going out on specialist work in armament and aeroplane factories there, and Colonial officials and other people who live in places where the climate is suitable for European people.
We have a difficult position now with a number of French and other sailors in this country, whose wives and children are in countries in enemy occupation. None of us expects this country to be conquered even if it is invaded, but we have to provide against all eventualities, and if sailors have their families overseas it would be an advantage, in case we have to reconquer this country at a later stage. There are other groups of people, in addition to wives of serving men, who might be evacuated overseas. I think we ought to try to send non-combatants generally, in order to avoid demands on food that is wanted for other people. We ought to consider whether people cannot be assisted to go overseas if they happen to have friends or relations there who can put them up and look after them. Such people might be old folk, women with young children, invalids and so on. Free or assisted passages should be given to such people when shipping space is available. I agree that the Government scheme should have the first call on shipping. Then there is the case of widows with young children. The Australian and New Zealand Governments are anxious to have war widows with young children. Would it not be possible to encourage them to take, not only war widows, but other widows and children?
§ Mr. Parker
I think that a scheme was suggested on those lines in Australia. The New Zealand Government certainly has put forward such a scheme. Other groups of people who might be affected as soon as we have shipping space available are—
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Colonel Clifton Brown)
The hon. Gentleman is dealing with other groups who might be affected. That has nothing to do with this country; it is the concern of the Dominions over whom we have no control. The discussion of other groups, therefore, must be, out of order.
§ Mr. Parker
I should have thought it possible to put up a case to the Dominions and America to show why they should take certain groups of people.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
Not on this Vote. We are discussing arrangements which have already been made between His Majesty's Government and the Dominions.
§ Mr. Parker
The Government scheme definitely mentions Allied refugee children who, it suggests, should be given certain rights under these schemes.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
Yes, but that refers to children, and I have heard the hon. Member talk about wives and mothers and others who are not children.
§ Mr. Parker
I hope that the refugee children will not be overlooked, and I hope also that the term "Allied refugee children" will not be interpreted too narrowly. I think anyone who is on our side in this war should be counted as an Ally. France has now gone out of the war, but we should treat the French children as Allies, and also treat the children of German and Austrian refugees as Allies for this purpose. I am certain that in the United States the people of German origin would be quite prepared to take the children of German refugees who have come here, so also would the Jewish community, Jewish children and the Czechs and Poles, their children. I understand that in this country at the present time there are 1,500 German children who are on the American quota, but have not yet gone to America, out of a total of 10,000 children of German and Austrian refugees in this country. We should give every assistance to all of them to go to America or elsewhere if people are willing to receive them there. It would be most unfortunate if we cut them out of the scheme. As far as food is concerned, they are eating food as much as anybody else; and that is apart from any question of treating them with common humanity.
787 Next, I should like to take the actual scheme of the Government and deal with it in some detail. One point which has been brought to my attention by a number of constituents concerns children of 14 to 15 who have left school. A number of people say that the present scheme is unfair because it gives an advantage to middle-class people who can afford to keep their children at school until 16 as against those who have to let them go to work at 14. The question has been put to me whether it would not be possible to allow children between 14 and 15 to go to the Dominions if people are willing to have them when they get there and provided they attend school there. In a particular case which was brought to my notice a boy who had been brought up in Australia came over to this country two years ago, and recently, because his father was unemployed, he had to leave school at 14. His parents are anxious to send him to Australia again if arrangements can be made and are willing that he should attend school there.
Then there is the question of orphanages. I strongly disapprove of much that has been said about orphanages in this Debate. It seems to me that if we are taking a cross-section of the population, then orphans are as much a part of that cross-section as anybody else, and I feel if there are orphanages in the Dominions or elsewhere which are willing to give hospitality to orphanage schools from this country, that they should be treated as if they were a school willing to receive a school from this country. With regard to individual orphans, I think that the Fairbridge scheme needs some consideration. I understand that the Fairbridge people are willing to take another 300 children straight away and fill their existing schools to capacity, and they would like a certain amount of assistance in setting up a school which would take another 300 children immediately.
Many local authorities in this country, including the London County Council, are keenly interested in this question of orphan children. Far more orphan children are in the care of local authorities than in private orphanages. In many cases those local authorities have evacuated those children to different parts 788 of the country. Why should they not be allowed to evacuate them overseas if they wish to do so? Why should they not be entitled to make a payment to keep the children overseas just as they pay for them to be kept here? I understand that in the past the Ministry of Health have always forbidden any payment to keep a child overseas. Would it not be possible at the present juncture to abolish that rule, because it seems unreasonable to stick to such a hard-and-fast regulation? Therefore, if local authorities want to send overseas under the scheme children who are in their care, they should be entitled to do so, if they are willing to make the necessary payment to maintain the children there. I hope that it will be possible to go into that point and to see whether anything can be done about it.
I wish to refer further to the refugee children. Will it not be possible not merely to deal with the sending of German and other children overseas, but to arrange with the representatives in this country of the French who support us, the Norwegians and other Allies, to take their children to suitable places overseas? For example, Dutch children might go to South Africa, which would, perhaps, ease some of the shipping space to Canada. Belgian children might go to some of the more salubrious highlands in the Congo, and French children might go to the healthy districts of Madagascar. That is a matter for discussion with the Governments concerned, and if they are interested they could be asked to cooperate in a scheme of that kind. In regard to German refugee children, I would observe that, under the Government scheme, Czechs definitely count as Allied refugees; but, I would ask, what is the position of Sudeten Germans? The Sudetens organised a settlement in Canada last summer. Are we to allow more of them to go out to Canada as Czechs? Why should they be treated differently from Austrians and Germans? There is also the question of the Basque children, who are not, technically speaking, Allies. I do not know what the position of Spain may be at any time, but it would be a disaster if we insisted upon sending back there all the Basque children. If people in Mexico and America are willing to have them, surely it would be better for them to go, even though they are not, technically, children of Allies.
789 I believe it will be possible to extend the Government scheme, and I hope we shall use all the means we can to carry the scheme into effect. My view is that, if we make our needs known, plenty of offers will come forward to provide for those needs. I do not think that we should bother because there has not yet been all the demand that may come in the future. I hope the question of how to get the shipping to take the children over will be thoroughly gone into. I believe that we shall be able to take far more even under the present Government scheme. If you are taking children to Australia and New Zealand, you need very good accommodation on the ships for such a long voyage, but the journey across the Atlantic to North America is quite short, and it should be possible to see that all cargo ships going out there take a certain quota of children.
I think we all agree that the Government have started very well with the job, and that we wish them luck.
§ 9.14 p.m.
§ Mr. David Adams (Consett)
I hope to occupy not more than a minute or two at this late stage of the Debate, but as one keenly interested in this subject I desire to congratulate the Under-Secretary and the Government upon the action which they have taken. I very much deprecate the speech which was delivered by an hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, who struck a note of defiance which is not justified in the present situation. This departure is intended not as a method of expanding the Empire or of creating some grand scheme, but as a temporary expedient, generally agreed to by the country, for taking a certain number of our children—a limited number, to begin with—and perhaps increasing the number subsequently, out of what may prove to be the most bitter and warlike battlefield which has ever been witnessed in the experience of nations, and which this country may ultimately become. The parents, of course, are fully apprised of this matter. To say that the perils of the sea, the submarine and the mine would prove to be a deterrent seems to me rather an extravagant statement in view of the fact that we know that during this war and in the last war it was quite easy for the Royal Navy, with the assistance perhaps of other nationalities, to convey 790 large numbers of troops and munitions across the infested seas of the world in perfect safety. I see no reason to believe that the children, conveyed in the great troopships, and properly protected, as they can be, would run more than an elementary risk.
The hon. and gallant Member rather took the line which I see was taken by Dr. Spencer Leeson, the headmaster of Winchester College, in a letter which he wrote to the "Times" last week. The doctor's views may be summed up under two or three heads. First, he disagreed with the notion that children between the ages of 14 and 16 should leave this country, because their services might be invaluable in the industrial field. That is to say, they should jeopardise life and limb in order to continue working, presumably in the factories or in the field. Then he contended that by this method of emigration overseas, we would break up the family life of this country, as in the evacuation at home. I should like to know what factor is greater than the public schools of this country in breaking up family life. The children go to a relic of the early ages; they are away from their families until the age of 17 or 18, after which they spend about three years at college. They have most successfully broken up all notions of family life in this country as I know it. For a man who is employed in breaking up family life, for very good reasons, to argue on those lines is somewhat extraordinary. Then he says—and the hon. and gallant Member did the same—that it is not right to encourage boys and girls to think of their own safety; that if we did so and they were evacuated, we would become a refugee nation in effect, or at all events in spirit, which is contrary to the spirit which has animated British people down the ages. Then he says that children of that age are surely not to be entrusted with what is, after all, their own future.
We are deeply indebted to the Dominions for the generous offer they have made. I believe that this effort can be amplified very substantially, that the movement will grow rapidly, and that provision will be made for much larger numbers. The Minister has not been able to advise us as to what is likely to ensue from the efforts in the United States, but it is very gratifying that the first lady in the great western republic should be employing her great ability and high stand- 791 ing in this task. I notice that Americans are asked to subscribe £1,250,000 for this purpose. That is a small sum for Americans, and I believe that it will be but the beginning of a great American effort to meet the liabilities which I am sure they all, from the President downwards, fully realise are theirs in connection with the effort to save modern democracy. The children certainly must be indiscriminately drawn from groups of normal children. I dislike the suggestion, which has been made by several Members, that we must be very discreet, in sending only the choicest specimens to the United States and the Dominions. I do not believe that other than normal children will be expected or desired.
With regard to the sterling question, I believe that large numbers of parents, non-combatants, and women with their children, would be only too glad to go to these countries, but are debarred by the difficulty of taking currency from this country. It should be possible for the Government to get rid of the currency difficulties. I have a wide knowledge of American family life. I have lived in America for considerable periods, have travelled from Florida to California, and have visited the different parts of the country. The family life of the United States is as near a parallel to our own family life as can be found, There is for the evacuees unquestionably a great adventure which cannot fail to benefit physically, mentally and socially the fortunate children who are able to participate in it. The United States are a great, thoughtful and vigorous, independent people. You certainly breathe a freer atmosphere there than is possible in this country. They have a country which is unspoiled by traditions of class worship, which is encouraged here, particularly in our public schools, and there is a greater sense of equality among all classes of citizens, and that is encouraged in the Government and throughout the scholastic organisations of the country. There is a much freer use by the general public of the mountains, streams, rivers, lakes and woods, and there are greater travel facilities than are available in this country. We used to believe that the sole ambition of the American was the gathering of the dollars. My recent experience of the States is that the education of the country is passing from dollar 792 worship to that of the highest form of culture generally. For that reason, I believe that our young evacuees under the scheme, and in the manner in which it is handled, will be likely in increasing numbers to form lifelong associations in the countries to which they go which will have not only an individual, but an invaluable national advantage.
§ 9.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Tinker (Leigh)
This is a question of very great importance. It is so big a venture that I did not want to express an opinion, but, having heard the explanation, I agree with what the Government are doing. No one objected to evacuees going from one part of this country to the other. We all expected that as something to be done in war time. In the early part of the war we agreed that it was far better to take the children away and give them a better chance of safety. Now that the whole of the country is practically one bombing area, the question arises of the best method of saving the children. An offer has come from Canada that they are prepared to provide homes for children of this land, and I agree that it is the right course to adopt to try to take the children away from these shores. We have to realise what happened in France. I believe that France has been broken largely because of what has happened to the women and children there. Realising the horrors that took place when the crowds were on the roads and the Germans were pursuing them, and they were beaten down by their tanks, and what might happen to the rest of the population, it caused the French to give in. I think that after hearing from returned soldiers of what they witnessed over there, one could readily see that the same kind of terror might easily happen here. If bombing raids take place and women and children are smashed and desolation comes, it will even break down men, and that is why I welcome any scheme which will take children from these shores.
I have a letter in my hand from a head teacher, who asks me to raise in Parliament the question of not giving too much publicity to the evacuation of children. She points out that when children are being removed the fact is broadcast, and everybody knows about it, and she asks me to draw the attention of the Government to the necessity of the utmost 793 secrecy when they are evacuating children from this country to another country. I believe the Government will see to that, but I draw attention to this point, so that every attempt will be made to prevent the enemy from knowing what is taking place. It is not a question of thinking that because vessels are loaded with children the enemy will not take advantage of the position. They will not scruple to do anything which will drive greater terror into the people of this land. I am backing this scheme for its immediate effect, although I realise that it may be far-reaching. Later on, when the war is over, I believe it will lead to a stronger bond between this country and the Dominions. It is merely for the purpose of protecting the innocent from dangers which may beset them that I support the scheme.
§ 9.33 p.m.
§ Mr. G. Griffiths (Hemsworth)
I did not intend to speak to-night, and I will not detain the Committee for more than a few moments, but candidly I have been disgusted with the statements which have been made by the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Rear-Admiral Beamish). If there is anything that will "get the backs up" of American women, it is a speech such as he has just made, and I protest, as a Member of this House, against some of his statements. When he said American women were "one-pip" women, that is a disgusting thing for a man of the education which he possesses to say in this House. We require all the help we can get from all democracies to win this conflict, and we shall not get it if we have men in the Committee, who have been in the Service and on the sea, making such statements as he made to-night. He said also that American children were the bosses of their parents. I do not think they are any more the bosses of their parents than are British children. In fact, I think American children are more akin to British children, with the exception of our own Empire, than any other children in the world. I do not know where the hon. and gallant Gentleman gets the idea that bachelors or spinsters know nothing about children because they have not had any themselves. I want to put it on record that I protest against such an idea.
I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education and 794 the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to see that in sending the first batch of children out of the country they will not confine it to one particular part of the British Isles. I do not want them to take all London youngsters, or all Yorkshire or Lancashire youngsters. I think it would be in the interests of the whole country if the first batch could be spread over the entire country, so that everybody would feel that his part of the country was having a share in the scheme. I have been knocking about among miners' wives and miners this week-end, and I know that, although they may feel the wrench for a few months, it may be for a couple of years, or even more, the attitude they take up is that they would rather not see their children for three years and then have them come back again than keep them and perhaps never see them again. We have to face the fact that many of these boys and girls, unless they do get away, will not be with us in the future. I shall give my full support to this scheme, which I hope will be spread all over the country as far as possible. In conclusion, I want to say again that I feel that for the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes, who has been at sea for years, to have made the statement which he did make against the American race is a disgrace as far as the British House of Commons is concerned.
§ 9.37 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education (Mr. Ede)
I think my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs can feel reasonably satisfied with the reception which his scheme has had to-day. Had he received nothing but unstinted praise, he could at least have been sure of this, that the scheme was beyond the comprehension of the Committee. Inasmuch as the scheme has received, except for three speeches, a tempered criticism and on the whole a favourable reception, I think my hon. Friend can feel that he has got as near success as mere humanity can in these difficult times. I was very interested to find that the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Rear-Admiral Beamish) wound up his speech by giving his blessing to what he called this small, thoughtful and progressive scheme, and that, although he attacked the scheme fairly liberally during the whole of his remarks, somewhat consoled me for the description applied to it 795 by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), who called it trivial, valueless and a disappointment. We do not put this scheme forward at the moment as a big scheme, but we are certain that it is a scheme that is as large as we can make it at the moment, and if the Dominions and the United States of America will afford us the opportunities, we can make it as large as their generosity will allow us. [Interruption.] The problems of shipping are being sympathetically handled by the Ministry of Shipping. We have not been refused anything for which we have asked, and I am sure that, while military necessities have to come first, we have the active support of the Minister of Shipping and his Department.
§ Mr. Ede
Clearly, the amount of shipping must be a limiting factor. I repeat what I have said. We have not asked for anything and been refused. The hon. Member knows only too well the difficulties which arise in collecting returns. The local authorities have had eight or nine days in which to canvass the school population of this country, and the figure the Minister gave, to-night, represents the first week's return. In answer to the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. O. Evans), at an earlier stage, I described what I knew was happening in a great local education authority's office, where 12 teachers, who have volunteered, are working after school hours, by day and night getting these forms tabulated as they are returned. That it should be necessary to put in 24 hours, working day and night in relays, to do this indicates the kind of difficulty confronting the Minister in obtaining a return at this stage which could be given with any finality. The figure he gave of 42,000, for scheme A, and 12,000, for scheme B represents the first week's return. It may be of interest to say that the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland has told me that the applications received by the Scottish Department up to date, total 14,750. Again, that is for the first week's return.
§ Mr. Ede
Yes, that is in addition. The hon. Member knows better than anyone else how careful one has to be not to impinge on Scottish administration. He, as a Scottish Member, was appointed to govern education in England, but one of the advantages of the new Government is that for education, England has at last Home Rule. I would say to the hon. Member for North Camberwell (Mr. Ammon) that the organisation which is represented on our Advisory Council is not the organisation with which Miss Mary Allen is connected. If that organisation with which she was previously connected has been absorbed—and I am not sure on that point—it certainly has not absorbed her.
§ Miss Cazalet (Islington, East)
I do know as a fact, that that organisation is no longer affiliated to the Women's Voluntary Service.
§ Mr. Ede
I hope that will completely satisfy my hon. Friend. We were asked to explain the proportions of 75 per cent. and 25 per cent. for England and Wales. Those were based on the fact that of the 6,500,000 children of the proper ages in schools in England and Wales, approximately 5,000,000 are in grant-aided schools and 1,500,000 are in non-grant-aided schools. The percentages therefore are not very disproportionate.
§ Mr. Ede
I have not got the figures separately, but I have no doubt that those responsible for selecting the various categories of children will bear the hon. Member's remark in mind. I will undertake that their attention shall be brought to his estimate of the proportion in Wales, and we will endeavour to get it checked. My hon. Friend the Member for North Camberwell also asked about the position of children for whom the local authorities are responsible. The point was also made by the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Parker). I do not think it is likely that many children in approved schools will be selected, because the Dominions have made it quite clear that they do not want problem children. One might have some difficulty in persuading them that a child in an approved school was other than a problem child. There may be cases in which that would not be true, but I think they would want a good deal of convincing. Apart from that, all the children for 797 whom local authorities are responsible, either by adoption or in any other way, will be eligible to come into the scheme on an individual basis.
Our scheme is one for individual children and not for groups or institutions of children. I think the remark of the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) answered the question put by the hon. Member for North Camberwell, with regard to the date on which the children will sail. Clearly, it would be very wrong in the present state of the world to advertise the date or the place or the time, or even the destination, of any ships which may sail under the scheme. While preparations are in progress on this side, we are in constant communication with our friends in the Dominions to get the scheme well started on the other side.
§ Mr. Ede
I am a very bad sailor and I know that you can get the most disastrous weather on any day in the year. I have been terribly seasick, in June, crossing from Southsea to Ryde. We realise that time is of the very essence of the question and I think it ought to be said, in view of some of the remarks of the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor)—who is unlikely to favour us with her presence while any reply is being made to her—that the moment there was an inkling of an invitation from the Dominions for these children, my hon. Friend got to work. The fact that we are as far advanced as we are, is due to the fact that a Departmental Committee commenced working at once and, as we sat from day to day, my hon. Friend was able to report on his negotiations with the various High Commissioners. At no stage have we allowed anything that could be avoided to cause the loss of a single day.
§ Major Milner (Leeds, South-East)
My hon. Friend has spoken of individual children. Does that mean that if 200 children are selected from an area, it would not be possible for them to go together?
§ Mr. Ede
No. The selection will be by individuals. We shall not say, "We have 199 from Leeds and we will have 798 another to make a round 200." Clearly, if we had 200 children from Leeds, there would be considerable advantages on the journey, and quite possibly on the other side of the water, in having such a group, but they will not be taken as a group. Each of the 200 will be selected individually because their individual claims are such as to entitle them to inclusion in the scheme. There is another point made by my hon. Friend the Member for North Camberwell which I should make clear. There will be no financial contacts between the home in this country and the home in the Dominions. The money collected from the parents in this country will be paid into a central fund and the amount received in the Dominions by anyone there, will not depend upon the amount paid by a parent in this country. I know from the interest which my hon. Friend took in the English evacuation scheme that he will realise the fundamental importance of preserving that principle.
§ Mr. Ede
We shall give these children a free passage across and will pay their passage hack to their homes at the end. The average payment now being made by parents is 2s. gd. a week for the children evacuated under the English scheme. For the children from the grant-aided schools we are applying the same scale, and I see no reason for thinking that the average will be higher for the overseas scheme. I do not think that, either immediately or in the near future, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will find the surplus in this fund of great help towards meeting the expenses of the war. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) made a speech which, I am bound to say, I found difficulty in following. I want to make plain that I am not speaking from this Box with my tongue in my cheek. I am only advocating policies in which I believe. If a policy were forced on my Department which I could not advocate in the House I would not come here to advocate it. I am not sure from the hon. Member's references to compulsion whether he is in favour of it or not.
§ Mr. Ede
This is not a compulsory scheme. It is a scheme that is being 799 offered to the parents. They must consider it, and if they avail themselves of it, I, personally, think they will be wise. The responsibility, however, is theirs and they must weigh up the risks of this scheme and the risks of remaining at home. The two represent two separate gambles, and they must make up their minds which of the two they are inclined to take.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
Does my hon. Friend mean that the State has no interest in this scheme, from the point of view of the prosecution of the war?
§ Mr. Ede
It has every interest from that point of view, but I know from my personal contact in the last nine months with parents in the original evacuation scheme, that there are some parents who will work and fight better when their children are away from home and that there are other parents who will work and fight better because their children are at home. It is one of the illogicalities of human nature that that is so. Even in my own house, where we are usually reasonably united, my wife and I take entirely opposite views on this question. My wife says, "If my home and family are to be blown up, I want to be blown up with them." I take the view, having seen some blowing up in the last war, that if there is any blowing up to be done I hope that mercifully I may not be there at the precise moment when it takes place. We believe there are some people who will be better citizens and better warriors if they accept this offer, and it is open to them, but we are not prepared to apply compulsion to make people accept it.
§ Colonel Wedgwood
I always was against compulsion and I hope I am; but I was asking my hon. Friend whether he thought that the only question to be put before the parents was "Do you think it safer to send your children away or safer to keep them here?" I say that is not the only question to be put before the parents. There is the question of whether it is easier to conduct this war without our having to feed the children and without having them dependent upon their parents, and so the State has a direct interest in getting parents to accept evacuation.
§ Mr. Ede
In my case. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock also expressed himself in favour of the proposal for "marrying" the preparatory schools, where suitable arrangements can be made. My hon. Friend explained the extent to which the Government can allow such an arrangement. Of course, any large evacuation of children from preparatory schools would probably so cut into the shipping space that difficulties might arise. Generally, on the question of evacuating schools or institutions, which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Romford, the Dominions themselves have expressed 801 the strongest preference for the evacuation of individual children into individual family homes in the Dominions, and both from the point of view of the child here and in the Dominions I think it is a sound and healthy policy; and, further, if children from institutions are put forward for evacuation the probability is that when they get to the other side they will be billeted with private families.
The hon. Member for Kilmarnock, my hon. Friend the Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn) and some other Members have raised the question of the supervision on the other side. We recognise that we have a heavy responsibility in that matter and we do not shirk it, but we must remember that we are dealing with self-governing States who have made an offer. I certainly shall not do what the hon. Member for Kilmarnock suggested—attempt to exercise any supervision over the educational system of the Dominions. He said that I was to see that proper educational facilities were provided in the Dominions. We have the assurance from the Dominions that there shall be available for these children the same education that is available for their own. In the great majority of cases that will probably mean, especially towards the end of the school career and for elementary school children, something more extended than is at present available for them in this country.
We intend—and negotiations are going on from hour to hour—to have available in the Dominions, in conjunction with and under the control of the Dominion Governments, a scheme for supervising these children and keeping in contact with them in their homes that shall be an assurance to their parents, to this House and to all other people who are interested in them. We recognise that it is essential that there shall be, not merely a body of people to meet the children on arrival, but daily contact with each child that shall make him feel that the people in this country still have memories of him and still hope that he is coming back to them, while they are watching his interests all the time that he is in the Dominions.
§ Mr. Ede
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will realise that we started our Departmental Committee before the offers were really firm. We have been building up this organisation all along. We are in touch with the Dominions. They are self-governing countries. I must ask the Committee to realise that we are not dealing with the Isle of Wight but with States which are as much Sovereign States as is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Unless we are prepared to recognise that status and to accept the offer of the Dominions in the spirit in which it has been tendered, by States of equal power with ourselves, we may land ourselves into very serious difficulties. We have, from the first, endeavoured to make the Dominions understand that, in this matter we recognise them as hosts. One of our poets said of the Dominions:Daughters are we in our mother's house,But mistress in our own.Nevertheless, the Dominions are no longer daughters; or, at any rate, they are daughters so grown-up as to be entitled to talk to their mother on equal terms. We shall endeavour to preserve that status in all our relationships.
I was disappointed to hear the noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth refer continually to these self-governing States as Colonies. I suppose she can never get over her Virginian associations, and has not yet heard that George III is really dead. I am sure that I carry the whole Committee with me when I say that we welcomed the intervention, with a maiden speech, of the hon. Member for Spen Valley (Mr. Woolley). He used a phrase which, I hope, will be one of the distinguishing features of this scheme: "the ambassadorial value of the child." If we can send to the Dominions and the United States a real cross-section of our population they will be the very best ambassadors we can send, in assuring the peoples of those countries that this country still remains the home of a decent standard of life and that the ideals for which we have stood in the past, are worthily represented in the sturdy youths that we shall be sending to them.
§ Mr. Ede
With regard to the speech of the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton, he made one point of considerable interest, and that was: What is to happen in the case of a child whose parents withdraw their permission for him to go? Parents will not accompany their children to the port of embarkation. They will part company at some collecting point near the child's home unless the child lives at the port of embarkation. The child will then be taken from the collecting point to the port of embarkation where he will spend the whole day. [An HON. MEMBER: "Or her."] Yes. I hope I shall not have to say "or her" every time. In any case, I object to referring to a child as "it." The children will be taken to a hostel at the port of embarkation where there will be a final medical examination. We have been promised by the Dominions that if the child passes that examination, he will not be rejected on the other side of the water. We regard that as of the very highest importance. The medical examination that is now being conducted by the school medical officers is one that has been agreed by the Dominions, and it is very unlikely that there will be any large number of rejections at the port. A child may have contracted an infectious disease between the collecting point and the hostel, but it is unlikely that there will be any large number of rejections at the hostel at the port of embarkation.
§ Mr. Ede
No. There will be a medical examination at the school to which the parents will be invited and, from my knowledge, I think that nearly every child will be accompanied by a parent at that stage. We believe that that examination should be satisfactory, but anyone who has had any connection with moving children about, knows that as you move them about, some children have illnesses which were not revealed at an earlier stage. Therefore, a final examination will take place at the hostel. The parents will not be at the hostel. They will have left the children at the collecting point. A teacher will have taken the children from the collecting point to the hostel. If the child is rejected, and is not suffering from an infectious disease but is rejected for another reason, presumably the teacher will bring the child back to the parents' home.
§ Mr. Mander
My point was this. If a parent, having got to the collecting point, says, "I have changed my mind and I do not want the child to go," what happens?
§ Mr. Ede
Then the child will not go. We are arranging that there will be at the hostel on each occasion rather more children than will be required for that particular shipment. They will be arranged in an order of priority, and if a child drops out, another child who would not have gone till the next ship will move into his place. I do not think we can do more than that to ensure that the shipping space is fully used and that the children go in what may be a very arbitrary order of priority, but what the competent people have decided is the right order of priority.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall (Colne Valley)
How are you going to guard against some children being excessively homesick? Can you sort them out a little before they actually embark?
§ Mr. Ede
I do not think we can deal with that. The parent has said that the child is to go, and we have said that the parent is to have the final word. If the child develops homesickness, one can only hope that it will get over it on the journey. I have had some experience in 805 handling children. I recollect a woman once bringing her grandchild to me, and saying, "This child may go with you on your ramble if you will undertake to hold his hand all the time." [An HON. MEMBER: "Did he hold your hand?"] I did not hold his. If the parent says that the child may go, the child will go. We are sending with these children people who have had great experience of handling children on this kind of journey. I have no doubt that they will prove equal to the occasion, and that there will he other children who will take very good care if they see other children feeling homesick to make them feel at home.
§ Mr. Mander
If the hon. Member is now dealing with my speech—or what he believes to have been my speech—will he deal with my question regarding the paragraph on page 3 of the report, recommendingthat in future parents who are able to make their own arrangements for the evacuation of their children overseas should be required to obtain the permission of the Executive Body referred to at 3 (a) before they are allowed to leave the country.Is that so?
§ Mr. Ede
I was going to deal with that. The answer is that that particular recommendation was not accepted by the Government. It was believed that it would be administratively impracticable, and therefore those words have no effect. I should like to say to my hon. Friend the Member for Rothwell, with regard to nominations, that we have asked every parent to indicate on the form the name of any relative or friend in the Dominion who will be willing to accept the child. That is the first phase. That information will be passed on to the selected Dominion, and we are assured that they will make every effort to ensure that that wish shall be gratified. Of course, we on this side can give no absolute guarantee. Here, again, we are dealing with self-governing Dominions, but I have no doubt that if the nomination is known on the other side—and we hope that every effort will be made to make it known there—the receiving relative or friend will ask the Dominion Government that they may be given this child.
§ Mr. Lindsay
In respect of how many children up to date have such nominations 806 been made, and is there any machinery for bringing the contents of those forms to the attention of the authorities on the other side?
§ Mr. Ede
I had to explain to the hon. Member for Cardigan earlier that these forms have come in during the last two or three days in such huge numbers that it has been impossible to analyse them at all, and, frankly, we do not know at the moment how many such nominations there are. The question of machinery is governed by my previous answer. We are building up as we go along, in negotiation with the Dominions, the necessary machinery to deal with all the issues that are raised. This undoubtedly will be a matter to which we shall ask the Dominions to give very special attention. We cannot have it both ways. We can wait and produce a perfect scheme, and then what my hon. Friend the Member for North Camberwell (Mr. Ammon) says will happen—the bad weather will have arrived—or we can say that this is a scheme where we believe good will exists on both sides and we can get a sound working scheme made at the same time as we are selecting and collecting the children. We believe, and I think the general tenor of opinion in the Committee this evening is, that it is desirable to get on with the job, rather than that we should produce the perfect scheme some month ahead when it might be altogether too late.
Several hon. Members, including the hon. Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone), raised the difficult problem of the exchange restriction in the dollar countries. That is a Treasury matter upon which the Government have reached a decision. The same difficulties do not apply to the other Dominions. Children can go to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand without any of these difficulties. Payments can be made for these children monthly or quarterly or annually, as the case may be, without any problem of exchange arising. It is not possible for my hon. Friend or myself this evening, to say anything that would indicate that the Government are weakening on the embargo that they have imposed, with regard to those countries to which the dollar exchange applies.
§ Miss Rathbone
Can the hon. Gentleman say whether, if the Treasury were satisfied that some arrangement could be made that met the dollar difficulty in the case of Canada, they had any other scheme, on the ground of shipping or anything else? Is it really the dollar difficulty that stands in the way?
§ Mr. Ede
This is the first time I have spoken from this Box. I do not know how other people get away with their speeches at this Box, but I seem to be an abject failure. I am trying to be as outspoken and explicit as I can, and that perhaps may be the reason for my failure. Surely the fact that we raise no objection in regard to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa is an indication that the Treasury embargo prevents us from doing what the hon. Lady would like, and that that is the only reason that we have against any proposal she has put forward this evening. I hope that is sufficiently explicit.
I should like to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Batley and Morley (Mr. H. Beaumont) for the very helpful speech he made. He showed not only a complete sense of the difficulties that confront us but also some sense of the efforts we have made to overcome these difficulties. We are exceedingly alive to the importance of one of the points he raised, namely, what is to happen to those children who reach the age when they could go into employment? Of course, that will not arise in the Dominions until some months have elapsed, but we recognise that it may very well present exceedingly delicate questions of adjustment as between the home supply of labour and this temporarily imported supply. We have already mentioned it to the High Commissioners and we believe that by the time it becomes a practical question, we shall in facing it be able to present a solution that will not be harmful to the children concerned. But I should be misleading the Committee if I did not make it quite plain that we do regard it as one of the most difficult and delicate questions that will arise in the course of the stay of the children in the Dominions.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cardigan made one remark which I completely failed to understand. He said he had heard that some members of the Government were sending their children 808 and women relatives to the United States and Canada and asked were they hampered by the same problems of exchange restrictions. I do not know what information the hon. Gentleman has, but I do not know of any such member myself. I am quite sure that no member of this Government will apply to himself a different ruling from that which will apply to the ordinary citizen of the country, and I hope the hon. Gentleman will not make any suggestion that there is some way by which a member of the Government could "wangle" it while ordinary citizens could not.
§ Mr. O. Evans
I did not make any suggestion against any member of the Government. I only asked how it is that certain people, including, as I understand, relatives of members of the Government, were able to do this, unless they were dependent entirely upon the charity of their relatives and friends.
§ Mr. Ede
Although I would not exactly describe it as charity I understand it may depend upon the wealth of one's father-in-law on the other side of the water. There are some people who are able to stand the strain of entertaining their daughters, and the offspring of their daughters, more easily than others.
§ Mr. Hammersley (Willesden, East)
Is not that a little unfair? Is it not a fact that there are many charitable people in America who, to my knowledge, are offering to be completely responsible for children from this country? Is it not due to us to pay some kind of tribute to the great kindness which has been shown?
§ Mr. Ede
I think the hon. Member was in the Committee when the hon. Member for Cardigan made his speech. I was replying to a specific point, and I have said nothing this evening which could indicate that the Government do not regard with the utmost gratitude the generous gestures which are being made by individuals in the Dominions and the United States. I was making reference to a limited number of people and I do not think my remarks will be regarded by the Committee as being generally applicable to the United States. I have every reason to believe that a number of people there have offered most generously to take children whom they have never 809 seen before. I was dealing with a suggestion that these were people who were merely taking in relatives.
§ Mr. O. Evans
My hon. Friend has been interrupted so much that I do not wish to interrupt him again, but—!
§ Mr. Evans
May I point out that I do know of a considerable number of cases where offers to take children have been received from friends in Canada and the U.S.A.? There are people who have received such offers and have hesitated to accept them because they did not want to burden the people who have made the offers. I suggest that the Government might give some facilities to enable money to be transferred in such cases.
§ Mr. Ede
I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member for the English Universities. It is for the Treasury and the Government to take a decision on those matters, and neither my hon. Friend nor I can do more than announce what that decision is. I hope the Committee will feel that, faced with a very difficult and delicate situation, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs has produced a scheme which has evoked a very considerable response in this country, and that that response will itself be some evidence to the Dominions of the gratitude which this country feels to them. We hope it will encourage them to expand it on reasonable lines, and I want to say that, as far as we are concerned, we are thankful to the Committee for the way in which it has received the scheme to-day. We can assure hon. Members that we have listened with interest and great attention to the various criticisms and suggestions that have been made, and that we will bear them in mind in our negotiations with the Dominions and in the further framing of our scheme. We sincerely hope that the scheme will have two results; first, that it will enable both adults and children in this country or in the Dominions to play their part more appropriately in the war, and secondly, that it may have, as has been said by several hon. Members, a lasting effect on the relationships between this country and the great Dominions, and that in sharing the anxieties of this present time, we 810 may be laying the foundations of something that is happier and better than we have known before.
§ Mr. Ede
With regard to vaccination, South Africa insists on it; the other Dominions do not. With regard to spectacles, I cannot give a definite answer, but I will have inquiries made. I do know that included in the medical test is an eyesight test, but whether that means that a child who wears spectacles will be excluded, I cannot say at the moment. I will let the hon. Member know.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again," put, and agreed to.—[Mr. Boulton.]
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.