HC Deb 22 February 1945 vol 408 cc955-6
48. Sir W. Brass

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to a recent announcement in Australia to the effect that the Commonwealth aims to increase its population to 20,000,000; and, in view of the opportunities for settlement which exist in all the self-governing Dominions, if he will consider setting up a special Department with a Minister or Under-Secretary in charge to prepare plans in collaboration with the Dominion Governments for a properly worked out scheme of Empire settlement after the war.

The Prime Minister

I have seen reports of the speech in Australia to which my hon. and gallant Friend refers. The House has already been informed that the question of post-war migration has been taken up with Dominion Governments. As at present advised, I see no need for setting up a separate Department to deal with this important issue, but His Majesty's Government are always open to consider any additional machinery, should their consultations with Dominion Governments indicate that such machinery is required.

Sir W. Brass

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that plans are now being prepared for Empire settlement after the war between the Governments of the Dominions and the home Government?

The Prune Minister

I think the wording which I used covers that point. The matter is under discussion with the Dominion Governments. I do not, however, wish it to be supposed that we have any large reserve of man-power which we can spare from this Island, especially if we have succeeded in making it a home for all its people.

Miss Rathbone

In view of the impending steep decline in our own population, can we afford to consider schemes for exporting large numbers of our citizens, and should we not rather consider how we can encourage our own birth-rate?

The Prime Minister

I entirely agree with the hon. Lady.

Mr. Shinwell

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether, in spite of his views about the shortage of man-power after the war, there will not be a demand in certain quarters for emigration? Is it not desirable that some machinery should be devised in order to organise that emigration so as to provide some measure of security for those who wish to go to the Dominions; and can he say whether the Dominions Office is now dealing with this matter and, if so, whether we can have a progress report?

The Prime Minister

I entirely agree about a careful and refined organisation being prepared to facilitate the wishes which may be felt by people to go out into those great lands, and that is all being done. The question should be put to the Dominions Office on the point, if more detailed information is required.

Captain Duncan

Will the Prime Minister confirm what he said before, that there are too many Ministers already, and, that so far from increasing them, as suggested in the Question, their number should be reduced?

Mr. Edgar Granville

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the very serious mistakes made after the last war with regard to unlimited and unsponsored emigration from this country to the Dominions; and will he make the facts contained in his reply to-day known to those members of the Forces, of both sexes, who are very anxious to know the details of any Government emigration scheme at the end of the war?