HC Deb 04 May 1948 vol 450 cc1069-71
2. Major Beamish

asked the Minister of Labour what is his policy in regard to assisted passages for persons desiring to emigrate; and what effect he estimates that emigration will have on the total insured population one year hence, and five years hence.

Mr. Isaacs

Where such arrangements are desired by Commonwealth countries and conditions favourable to settlement exist, assisted passages are granted to persons accepted by Commonwealth Governments as suitable settlers. Arrangements of this kind have been made with the Australian and New Zealand Governments. Apart from these schemes, emigrants proceeding overseas do not receive Government assisted passages. In reply to the second part of the Question it is estimated that during 1948 the effect of emigration (assisted and unassisted) on the size of the total insured population will be more or less cancelled out by immigration. I am unable to say what effect emigration will have on the total insured population five years hence.

Major Beamish

Does not the answer indicate that a great deal more thought should be given to this question? How can there be Socialist planning without there being any idea of what will be the size of the insured population five years hence?

Mr. Isaacs

How can anyone know the numbers who will want to take advantage of this scheme between now and five years hence?

Mr. Gallacher

If there should be the unfortunate necessity, is it not better that the workers should strike for better conditions here than that they should emigrate for better conditions elsewhere?

Mr. Isaacs

There are many other factors to take into consideration. First, there is the desire of our people to live in another part of the British Commonwealth. Secondly, there is the need for populating the British Commonwealth with British citizens as much as possible.

Vice-Admiral Taylor

Are there any arrangements to make public to the people of this country what emigration schemes are available?

Mr. Isaacs

The matter has been published, but I do not think it has been sufficiently publicised. I will, therefore, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT the actual terms of the arrangements with New Zealand and Australia.

Mr. Ronald Chamberlain

Is care being taken to see that adequate housing accommodation is available for these people?

Mr. Isaacs

I think it is safe to say that the Dominions take the greatest possible care to see that those who go under their assisted schemes are provided with accommodation and work when they get there.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Have the Australian and New Zealand Governments agreed to take families of emigrants as well as the emigrants?

Mr. Isaacs

I would not like to pledge myself definitely, but I think that is so

Mr. Vane

The right hon. Gentleman said that emigration and immigration would approximately cancel out each other. Can he tell us how many thousands of emigrants he expects next year, as asked in the Question?

Mr. Isaacs

It depends on the circumstances. I answered in a modest phrase because we are taking a great number of volunteer workers into this country, and their number is likely to be much larger than the number of people who emigrate.

Following is the statement:

Under the arrangements with the Australian Government (a) free passages are given to ex-Service men and women who served in the recent war and their dependants. The cost of passages under the Free Passages Scheme is borne by the United Kingdom Government. (b) Assisted passages are given to other suitable British subjects normally resident in the United Kingdom. The cost of this scheme is shared betwen the two Governments and the emigrant.

Similar schemes have been arranged by the New Zealand Government who bear the whole cost of both schemes.