HC Deb 22 April 1948 vol 449 cc1997-9
45 and 46. Major Tufton Beamish

asked the Prime Minister (1) what consideration is being given to the planned disperal of the industrial potential of the United Kingdom throughout the Commonwealth and whether there is an identity of views in these matters between His Majesty's Government, the Dominions Governments and the Colonial Administrations;

(2) if he will state the policy of the Government regarding the encouragement and facilitating of large-scale emigration to the Dominions and Colonies; and whether there is an identity of views between His Majesty's Government, Dominions Governments and the Colonial administrations concerning the desirability of greatly increased emigration from the United Kingdom.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

I assume that these two Questions are related, and that they both refer to the suggestion that a large section of the industry and population of the United Kingdom should be removed to other parts of the Commonwealth. No consultations have been held between the Governments of Commonwealth countries on this subject, and I am not in a position to make any statement on the matter.

Major Beamish

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his non-committal replies seem to indicate that far too little consideration is being given to these questions? Does he not think that a long-overdue Commonwealth Conference should be called at the highest level to discuss this and other matters?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir, I do not think so. The question of Commonwealth meetings on the highest level is one of very great difficulty at the present time. One has to make arrangements with the Prime Ministers of the Dominions. I do not think it is possible to hold one at the present time.

Mr. Gammans

Will the Prime Minister attempt to reconcile emigration of British subjects, on the one hand, with the immigration of European refugees into this country, on the other? Will he explain the Government's policy on this matter?

The Prime Minister

That is a different question, but I should not have thought it difficult to reconcile that.

Major Beamish

Does the Prime Minister's reply mean that it is more difficult to call a Commonwealth Conference than a conference of 16 European nations, which reached agreement?

The Prime Minister

I have explained that we have been considering this question, but there are difficulties at the present time.

Major Legge-Bourke

Will the Prime Minister say whether the Economic Advisory Committee for the Colonies has considered the matter of dispersal of industry at all?

The Prime Minister

I could not say without notice.

Mr. Gallacher

Is the Prime Minister aware that the idea conveyed here is that Britain should become an aircraft carrier for America, and that all the people of this country would have to be cleared out if a war started.

The Prime Minister

I did not gather that from the Question.