HC Deb 03 March 1947 vol 434 cc22-4
46. Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

asked the Prime Minister how many British citizens have applied for, and how many have been granted, emigration facilities since the end of the war; and into what age groups do they fall.

Mr. Arthur Greenwood

I have been asked to reply. There are no full official statistics of the number of prospective migrants. Since September, 1945, persons leaving this country have not been required to obtain exit permits. A statement is being prepared for publication giving particulars as to persons who left the United Kingdom after 1st January, 1946, for long-distance destinations. So far as Government-assisted migration is concerned, 484 single ex-Servicemen were granted free passage to Australia in December and February last. The age-groups were five under 21, 463 between 21 and 39, and 16 of 40 years and over.

Mr. Nicholson

Is there not a Treasury committee which deals with applications from people who wish to migrate and to take a certain limited amount of capital with them, and cannot the right hon. Gentleman give the House the numbers of people who have applied to that committee?

Mr. Greenwood

I will do my best, but I do not think there can be any complete statement. I said that we would give the particulars for long-distance migration. It may well he that for the Continent, where no visas are required, the particulars are not available if money is not required.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is freely reported that as many as 500,000 persons have registered with the shipping companies, and other bodies involved, for emigration facilities, and if that is the case, is it not something of a political problem which is worthy of the attention of the Government?

Mr. Greenwood

I am not sure we ought always to accept free reports.

60. Mr. King

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs when it is likely that the schemes for assisted migration to Australia will be brought into operation.

The Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (Mr. Bottomley)

The Governments of the United Kingdom and of the Commonwealth of Australia have now agreed that the two schemes of assisted migration to Australia which were announced in March, 1946, shall be opened on 31st March to applicants who have been personally nominated by friends or relatives in Australia and to persons employed in certain industries and occupations. The general shortage of shipping will restrict the number of passages to be made available to assisted migrants during 1947 and no applications should be made under these arrangements until 31st March. Detailed information of the procedure to be followed by intending applicants under both schemes and the occupational categories in respect of which applications can be considered will be announced in due course. As the House will be a ware, it is the view of His Majesty's Government that the advantages of migration within the British Commonwealth considerably outweigh the small loss of manpower to this country and the agreed arrangements will avoid an undue proportion of the selected settlers being men and women possessing certain qualifications who are in short supply here and urgently needed in the interests of the United Kingdom.

Mr. King

Would my hon. Friend amplify the phrase "certain industries and occupations," since while I welcome his statement I should, nevertheless, like to be assured that the drain on manpower will be overall and not confined to skilled men?

Mr. Bottomley

That is the idea of the arrangement, to avoid the drain on the craftsmen and other people required here. This scheme will enable plans to be made whereby all kinds of people will go.

Mr. Medlicott

Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to a recent statement in the Press, to the effect that, apart from the normal movement of Service personnel, more people have left Australia than have gone there since the war, and since if this statement is correct it would appear to disclose a most serious state of affairs, will the Minister do all he can to speed up emigration to Australia?

Mr. Bottomley

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to my statement this afternoon.