§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 4.22 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. John Foster)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
This is a Bill intended to continue the Empire Settlement Act, 1922, which itself was continued by the Empire Settlement Act, 1937. It provides in Clause 1 that the Empire Settlement Acts shall be continued for another five years.
I think it might be useful to the House if I recall, as shortly as I can, the history of this legislation. Up to 1914, migration from the United Kingdom was carried on without any assistance from the United Kingdom Government, and it is interesting to note that in 1913, the peak year, emigration amounted to about 285,000. Then, in 1917 and 1918, there was the general feeling that the Government of the United Kingdom should take a more direct interest in migration than hitherto. The only interest which had been taken was an emigration office which existed up to 1914.
In 1917, the first of many committees and commissions on migration suggested that there should be a central migration authority. In 1918 a Government Emigration Committee, which was renamed the Overseas Settlement Committee, was established and the first Government assistance to migration consisted in giving assistance to ex-Service men. In the result, in the three years during which the scheme operated, some 86,000 ex-Service men were assisted with free passages to migrate to parts of the Commonwealth.
The Overseas Settlement Committee, which had been established, made general recommendations, as was its duty, and recommendedThat the migration of population from the United Kingdom to other parts of the Empire was calculated to promote the economic strength and the well-being of the Empire as a whole, and of the United Kingdom in particular, provided that the flow at any time was not in excess of what the industries of the United Kingdom could afford to spare or in excess of what the Dominions could conveniently absorb.I think the House will find that the same two principles run through the reports 54 and recommendations of the various committees, commissions and conferences of Empire Prime Ministers or officials.
The next conference of importance with regard to this legislation was the Conference on State-Aided Empire Settlement held in 1921 between the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. That Conference recommended that effective co-operation between the United Kingdom and the overseas Governments in a comprehensive policy of Empire land settlement and Empire-directed migration should take place. Later in the same year, 1921, the Conference of Prime Ministers and representatives of the United Kingdom, the Dominions and India took place, and it was the results of that Conference which led to the original Empire Settlement Act, 1922.
The recommendations of this Conference were as follows. The Conference declared itself satisfied that the proposals embodied in the previous recommendation to which I have alluded—namely, the Conference on State-Aided Empire Settlement—were in accordance with their views and were sound in principle, and the Conference of Prime Ministers declared that the several Dominions were prepared,subject to Parliamentary sanction and to the necessary financial arrangements being made, to co-operate effectively with the United Kingdom in the development of schemes based on these proposals, but adapted to the particular circumstances and conditions of each Dominion.This Conference expressed the hope that the Government of the United Kingdom would at the earliest possible moment secure the necessary powers to enable it to carry out its part in any schemes of co-operation which might subsequently be agreed on. Finally, the Conference recommended to the Governments of the several Dominionsthat they should consider how far their existing legislation on the subject of land settlement, soldier settlement and immigration, may require any modification or expansion in order to secure effective co-operation,which the Conference wished, and asked the Dominion Governments to work out, for discussion with the Government of the United Kingdom,such proposals as may appear to them most practicable and best suited to their interests and circumstances.55 The result was the first Empire Settlement Act, 1922. That Act was extended in 1937, and it is the object of this Bill to extend that for yet another five years.
Under the original Act of 1922 the Secretary of State was empowered to co-operate with any overseas Government, or with public authorities or public or private organisations, either in the United Kingdom or in any part of the Commonwealth and Dominions, in carrying out agreed schemes for affording joint assistance to suitable persons in the United Kingdom who intended to settle in any part of Her Majesty's Dominions. Agreed schemes might be either land settlement schemes or schemes for assisted passages, training and the like. Under the original Act, the Secretary of State could contribute up to 50 per cent. and not more than £3 million a year. In the result, between 1919 and 1922, which is the background against which the original Act was passed, the 86,000 ex-Service men had been the only assisted migrants, and they were part of a total of some 484,000 migrants who had left the United Kingdom for other parts of the Empire.
After the Act was passed, the Imperial Economic Conference of 1923 again emphasised the importance of migration. In 1926 the Imperial Conference adopted a resolution which, I think, might interest the House. The resolution said:The Conference is of opinion that the problem of oversea settlement, which is that of a re-distribution of the white population of the Empire in the best interests of the whole British Commonwealth, is one of paramount importance, especially as between Great Britain on the one hand and Canada, Australia and New Zealand on the other. The Conference notes with satisfaction that the desired re-distribution of population is being accelerated by the policy which has been consistently pursued since its acceptance by the Resolution of the Conference of Prime Ministers in 1921. It endorses the view expressed at that Conference that the policy should be a permanent one. It recognises that it would be impracticable, owing to financial, economic, and political considerations, to promote mass movements of population, but it is satisfied that, by continuous adherence to the present policy, it should be possible steadily to increase the flow of population to those parts of the British Commonwealth where it is most needed for development and general security, and where it will find the greatest opportunities.As a result of the policy under the original Act of 1922 and the endorsements given to this policy by this and the 56 other conferences, various schemes operated from 1922 to 1929. I shall not take up the time of the House by going into the schemes in detail. It is sufficient to remind the House that they dealt with testing, training, child migration, Fairbridge farms, and so on. It was in the minds of people at the time that land settlement would play a much bigger part than it in fact did play. The emphasis at that time was on land settlement schemes, but in the result, owing to the very large capital investment required and other difficulties, only 7½ per cent. of the assisted migrants were connected with land settlement and, of the total migrants to the Commonwealth, that proportion amounted only to 3 per cent. I am not drawing any special conclusions on that, but I thought that it would be of interest to the House.
In 1929–30 migration came virtually to an end, not because there was any increase in the inflow into the United Kingdom, but because the outflow—the emigration—dwindled until the inflow was greater than the outflow, so that there was a net intake into the United Kingdom from 1930 up till 1939. In spite of that, the Imperial Conference of 1930 adopted a resolution re-affirming its belief in the general principles and the advantage of migration inside the Commonwealth. They said that they hoped that a considerable flow of migrants from the United Kingdom would come to pass when the economic conditions which were preventing that migration had disappeared.
The House will recall that the 1922 Act was for 15 years, so that by 1937 it was coming to an end. First of all an interdepartmental committee was set up, and then, in February, 1936, the Overseas Settlement Board was appointed. Its terms of reference were:To consider and advise the Secretary of State upon specific proposals for schemes of migration within the Empire and upon any matter relating to oversea settlement which may be referred to it by him.The Overseas Settlement Board, as did the inter-departmental committee, recommended the continuance of the Empire Settlement Act. As the expenditure under the 1922 Act of £3 million had never been reached, it was decided that the limit to be put into the 1937 Act should be £1½ million instead of £3 million.
57 The peak year was 1927, and in that year a total of £1,280,000 was attained; but, if my memory serves me right, during the years when migration was a minus quantity—after 1930—the sums expended were of the order of only £30,000 or £60,000. The Overseas Settlement Board issued a comprehensive report in June, 1938. This report is of interest to those who are concerned with the question of Empire migration. It dealt with the problem of how to strengthen the Empire. It said that it was both difficult and urgent and that its solution depended upon the wholehearted co-operation of the Governments and peoples concerned. It was also of importance, in view of the interest shown throughout the world in the development of the less closely settled countries, that migration should be studied by the countries concerned.
The report went on to state that the position of the overseas Dominions, with relatively thinly populated areas facing a highly competitive world, demanded that the natural increase of population should be supplemented by immigration and that early action should be taken while the United Kingdom was still able to supply migrants. The House will remember that this was against a background of the view of many people that there would be a sharply declining population in the United Kingdom in future. The report noticed this and said that it could no longer be assumed as axiomatic that the migration of large numbers of persons from the United Kingdom to the Dominions was in the interests of the United Kingdom, if those interests could be considered in isolation from those of the Dominions.
The report did not consider them in isolation and added that, in the Board's opinion, no merely theoretical calculations of population movements should be allowed to affect migration policy. We can also notice that the one thing that forecasting of population trends cannot do is to estimate with any degree of accuracy whether there will be a change in the habits of population—such as earlier marriages, increased families and so on—and whatever the position may be with regard to the trends of population, I think we should get universal agreement in saying that the considerations which this House should adopt in considering the problem of migration are the advantages, the well-being and the strength of the Commonwealth as a whole. They 58 are the considerations which we should apply, and it is in that spirit that the Government recommends this Bill to the House for Second Reading.
Hon. Members may also remember the statement issued in June, 1945, Command Paper 6658 on Migration within the Commonwealth, which starts off by giving various quotations from members of the Coalition Government as to their attitude towards migration. I think I need only remind the House of the statement made on 24th May, 1944, by my noble Friend when he was Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, when he said:We have made it abundantly clear that, notwithstanding the fact that our own population in these islands is tending, perhaps, rather to decrease than to increase, yet, on broad Imperial grounds, we do feel that we should encourage and assist, as far as is practicable, inter-Imperial migration if that is desired by the Dominion Governments themselves; and, of course, on the assumption—the very necessary assumption—that those Governments and the other Empire countries are prepared to make their own contribution to schemes of assisted migration.At that time the United Kingdom had put forward proposals for free passage schemes for ex-Service men, rather similar to the 1919 and 1922 schemes. However, as appeared in the White Paper statement, the overseas Governments were—I am sure the House will agree, quite rightly—preoccupied with their difficulties and with the problems of settling and rehabilitating their own ex-Service men and of getting them back on the scarce shipping to their own countries. In the statements on pages 3, 4 and 5 of the White Paper, where the views of the individual Commonwealth countries are set out, it is said that immediate large-scale migration was not possible because of those overriding problems, but that they all looked forward to the resumption of migration when these problems had been got out of the way.
Since the war, the net migration to the Commonwealth has averaged about 70,000 persons a year. I have the details for each year from 1946 to 1951. Taking, say, 1951 and 1950 as two rather different yet typical years: in 1950, the emigration—migration to the Commonwealth countries—was 112,900 and the inflow, which to me was surprisingly large, was 56,000. In 1951, 132,000 people migrated to the Commonwealth and, again, 56,000 came in. Again, that figure was surprisingly large, and—
§ Mr. M. Follick (Loughborough)
When the hon. and learned Gentleman said "came in," does he include migrants who came back?
§ Mr. Foster
Yes. The statistics do not distinguish between new migrants to this country of, say, original Commonwealth origin and those who came back.
§ Mr. A. Edward Davies (Stoke-on-Trent, North)
Where did they come back horn? From the Commonwealth or other parts of the world?
§ Mr. Foster
These figures relate only to the same countries as those for which I have given figures and to which people have migrated.
§ Mr. Foster
Yes, some. Although the figures have not been separated, the hon. Member probably would agree with my pleasure that a large number of people living in the Commonwealth like to migrate to the Mother country. As we are, perhaps, the most thickly populated Commonwealth country, it is very valuable that we should get a substantial contribution from the members of the Commonwealth to our population. We also know that we and the House have benefited from very prominent members of the Commonwealth. We have, I have just read, six Canadians at present in the House.
It should not be assumed that there is anything but a very small proportion of dissatisfied immigrants. Some, of course, have to return because of a change in family circumstances, and so on, but any snap studies which have been made do not show any large proportion of dissatisfaction. Sometimes a case of dissatisfaction is blown up in the newspapers, but I hope that hon. Members will not deduce that there is any large volume of it.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
Do not those figures also include persons entering this country from the Dominions with the intention of an extended stay but not of permanent settlement here, of which there must be quite a large number?
§ Mr. Foster
Yes, but if they were here for a year exactly, I do not know on which side they would come.
Probably the House would agree on the general principle that in order to have successful conditions for emigration, it is necessary that we should have a stable and solvent financial condition and that the sterling area as a whole should be financially healthy and in balance, and that the rate of emigration into the overseas Commonwealth countries should be compatible with their financial resources.
It is important to remember in any discussion on emigration the obvious truism that we do not want, and do not intend, to force anyone out of this country and, equally, we do not intend or wish to bring any pressure on any Commonwealth country to receive people whom they do not want.
§ Mr. Follick
Do the figures which the Minister has given of immigration into this country include only white people?
§ Mr. Foster
No; no distinction is made.
Again, in this useful debate on emigration, it is obviously a truism also that every immigrant requires a considerable capital investment in the country of receipt. It is very necessary in these times that emigrants to the Commonwealth countries should be assured of employment and decent living standards on arrival. Therefore, in the present state of the sterling area finances, it must be our primary concern to achieve a suitable balance of payments and to concentrate our financial efforts on increasing the productive resources of the Empire. At the same time, suitable emigration may be one of the most efficient methods of increasing that productive capacity and of developing resources which are at our disposal in the Commonwealth. It cannot, however, be unlimited emigration in the sense of disregarding the limitations of the resources of the receiving country. The Government's policy is to encourage and assist inter-Commonwealth migration.
61 I have said that financial assistance is, obviously, limited by our present circumstances. For instance, the suggestion is often made that we should ease the limitations on the transfer of capital to Canada for would-be migrants. In the present state of our dollar resources, it is, obviously, impossible to give such easement. It would not affect many people, but it would affect a lot of dollars. In other words, 10,000 extra people with 10,000 extra dollars each would amount, if my arithmetic is correct, to 100 million dollars—a large amount of dollars—while adding a comparatively small number of people to Canada.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Labour will speak at the close of the debate and tell the House what his Ministry are doing in the way of publicity and of assisting overseas Governments in recruitment. Her Majesty's Government will continue to make efforts to meet requests from overseas Governments for the provision of shipping for migrants. The position is now better, but if there are any such requests the Government will do their best to see that any shipping requirements are met.
Her Majesty's Government have also been in touch, both under the previous Administration and now, with the Commonwealth Governments regarding reciprocity in the social services. The right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) will be aware of the negotiations which were taking place during his time in office. At present, negotiation on the exchange of social services and the crediting of the various payments is going on with Australia and New Zealand.
My noble Friend the Secretary of State is prepared to examine any proposals from societies specialising in child migration, and generally speaking, of course, my noble Friend is in close touch with representatives of the Commonwealth countries on the whole subject of migration. Therefore, the policy of Her Majesty's Government is, as I have said, to encourage and promote inter-Commonwealth migration.
Having quoted the remarks of my noble Friend in 1944, I should also like to quote the statement of policy of the right hon. Member for Smethwick when he held the post of Secretary of State 62 for Commonwealth Relations. On 13th June, 1950, the right hon. Gentleman said:The solidarity and increasing strength of the Commonwealth depends on the increasing migration of people from this country to those countries who wish to receive our migrants. We must take account of the fact that countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada will in any case be receiving migrants from other than British sources, and it is all the more important that there should be an adequate flow of British migrants to those countries, if they will have them. Our firm policy is to facilitate and to encourage the outflow of all those people who wish to leave these islands, although we cannot compel them to go to the countries who wish to receive them."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th June, 1950; Vol. 476, c. 99.]The Government regard migration as a valuable means of maintaining and strengthening the bonds between the members of the Commonwealth, and, with this object in view, are anxious to foster such migration. Our only stipulation is that a fair cross-section of the population should go—not always the youngest and the most skilled: no undue encroachments should be made on the industries where we are short in manpower. The falling off in emigration, on the other hand, would have serious effects in the long run on the Commonwealth.
Since the 17th century the overseas migration of the British people has been greater than that of any other people in the history of the world. It built up the Commonwealth; it established the United States of America. We believe that this continued emigration is vital to maintain the strength and solidarity of the Commonwealth.The sense of unity which animates, and is the main connecting link between, the self-governing parts of the British Commonwealth is largely dependent on the preponderance of British stock in the population of the Dominions, and it is of the utmost importance, if the sentiment is to be maintained and the political character of the British Empire is to remain what it has been, that the fresh accessions to the population of the Dominions which take place in future years should contain a large proportion of persons of British origin.The House will notice that those are words taken from the Empire Migration Committee of the Economic Advisory Committee reporting in 1932. Those words remain true today, and the Government subscribe fully to those sentiments. To develop the vast resources of the Commonwealth, we need a healthy economy with substantial savings of 63 capital to invest in such development. We also need a vigorous, balanced and enterprising emigration of our own people. It is on this basis that I ask the House to give this Bill a Second Reading.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Langford-Holt (Shrewsbury)
I beg to move, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:this House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which is wholly inadequate in its scope and urges Her Majesty's Government to take imaginative and decisive measures to set in motion a large scheme of Empire migration on which the economic and political stability of the Commonwealth depends.The atmosphere in which the House finds itself today cannot be called calm; but I hope that this debate, at least, may prove to be an oasis for us in the desert which we are crossing. Let me say this to my hon. Friends and to hon. Gentlemen opposite, whether they have put their names to this Amendment or whether they have not: I plead that this matter above all else shall not be made an opportunity to beat either this Government, as a Government, or any previous Government as such. This is surely a matter in which we can use the House of Commons in its proper way—that is, as a means of giving advice and expressing our feelings to the Government of the day, pointing out, without fear or favour, shortcomings where we consider them to be.
The first point I wish to make is that certainly I, and, I believe, my hon. Friends, too, have no desire whatever to introduce into this question of migration any form of compulsion. I expect my hon. Friends, as I have, when they have discussed this matter with other people, have had said to them, "Oh, you are the sort of people who want to compel 15 million of us to go to the Commonwealth." That is not true. It will be noted, too, that my hon. and learned Friend the Under-Secretary has drawn a distinction between migration and emigration. In the wording of the Amendment he will see that we have carefully used the word "migration" and not "emigration," because the future of the Commonwealth lies in an interchange of the population, and not a flow in any one given direction.
64 The second point I wish to make is that in this scheme, which, we hope, will develop more and more as the years go on, we are discussing migration only with those whose interests are the same—only with those members of the Commonwealth who desire that migration shall be increased and who desire that its influence shall be extended. The strength of the Commonwealth, of course, lies in the fact that it is extended throughout the four corners of the earth. It is world wide. It is world wide in its conception and it is world wide in its extent. The weakness, of course, is the fact that we have 75 per cent. of our population of all these areas congregated in these islands, which form only just over 1 per cent. of the area.
One has only to look at the density of the population of the various countries to grasp the significance of the immensity of this problem. In Australia the population is about four per square mile—throughout the country; in Canada the density is nine to the square mile; in New Zealand it is 19. One would expect that in the United Kingdom it would be more; it is 540 persons per square mile.
The potentialities not only of Australia and New Zealand but of all other parts of the Commonwealth are enormous. It is with some hesitation that I do so, but I commend hon. Gentlemen opposite to read the editorial in the "Evening Standard" tonight, in which a glimpse of the potential of the Dominion of Canada can be obtained. In that great Dominion, at a time when we are talking about restrictions and closing things down, they are in the process of building a pipeline for oil right across the Commonwealth from the oil fields of Alberta to the Great Lakes. At a time when we are closing the branch lines of our railways they are building a railway from the St. Lawrence to Labrador. All these things are taking place today.
What is the influence of migration as generally planned upon the economy of this country and upon our defence? I do not propose to go into this at all deeply. Many people of varying views and political opinions have expressed themselves as to the economic effect of emigration from this country. We are approximately in these islands about 50 million people. We are able to supply about 50 per cent. of the food which feeds us. The 65 rest we are obliged to import, and it is the import of that food, and of those other things which go to make our standard of life possible that faces us as an enormous problem—the enormous import-export problem which confronts us today.
So far as defence is concerned, there was, in 1946, a recommendation of the Chiefs of Staff that some form of migration, solely on the grounds of defence, was vital because this country is, above all others in Europe, the most vulnerable. I have listened with great interest to the speech of my hon. and learned Friend; at some moments I was more pleased than at others; but let me say to the House that I am conscious that there are enormous difficulties facing us in this problem. I do not think that any of my hon. Friends would attempt to minimise them.
There seems to be, at present, at any rate, a tendency for the figures of migration to decrease. My hon. and learned Friend did not give any figures other than those which we have at present. I appreciate that they are the last figures available, but I should be grateful if the Minister of Labour could give us an idea of the trends.
§ Mr. Langford-Holt
I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend. I feared that as the money was decreasing and as the cost of migration was presumably increasing, it meant that there was a vast decrease in the numbers migrating.
Frequently, one hears the expression "mass migration." Obviously, mass migration within a short time is both unrealistic and impossible. We do not seek, and nobody would try—we have not the right to do so—to thrust sections of our population, be they desirable or not so desirable, on to an unwilling member of the Commonwealth. What we seek, and what we ask the Government to do, is to find out the basis of common aim between ourselves and the various Dominions of the Commonwealth, who are seeking the whole time to increase their populations for reasons of their own.
What we want to know is how long are we in this country to tolerate a situation, and how long can we afford 66 a situation, in which we have an annual increase of population of something over 300,000 and, at the same time, a decrease in the agricultural land available of something over 50,000 acres a year. This is a matter to which the Government would do well to direct their attention. How long is that process to be allowed to continue?
I still have a feeling that the Government have not fully made up their minds, and I would ask them seriously to decide exactly what they intend to achieve. For example, have they decided—and it is not for us to decide without the available figures—how many people it is desirable, for purely economic and administrative reasons, should migrate, and within what period. What size of population is most suited to this island? All these are matters which I and my hon. Friends feel should be discussed by the Government with the Commonwealth Governments as a matter of urgency and at the highest level possible.
The White Paper on migration which the Under-Secretary reintroduced to the House, Cmd. 6658, was either the last document that the Coalition Government produced or it may have been produced—there is no indication on the document—as a result of the Coalition Government but actually by the Caretaker Government. I found that this document was most unenlightening and not very helpful on the subject. It gave no indication of exactly what the present Government seek or what the previous Government or, indeed, the one before that, sought.
The Commonwealth countries of the Empire have stated—it has been said by their leaders and also by less distinguished members of their communities—that, above all else, what they want is people. I think we in this country should remember that those countries, by the very forces of nature, must get people. I suppose it is a truism to say that it is very easy to poison a thirsty horse, and those parts of the Commonwealth are extremely thirsty for population at the moment. None should understand better than we in this country the difficulties which those countries are going through in order to achieve an increase in population. One of the most important principles in migration which my hon. and learned Friend mentioned is the fact that it must be by cross-section. It is not 67 good enough to export or allow to drift away from these shores all the best and youngest in the land. Such a policy would be disastrous to this country. We must realise exactly where we stand at the moment in this respect.
What I consider to be the first shortcoming of this Bill is the fact that it facilitates the very thing we do not wish to happen. It facilitates those who are prepared to overcome obstacles to get abroad, to migrate, while it does not envisage a whole plan of migration to the countries of the Commonwealth. It also does a thing which appeals to me, although it may not appeal to the Government: it gives Governments a sense of achievement to which I do not think they are entitled. There is that feeling that whenever this question of migration comes up, a Minister may say, "Oh, but we have got the Empire Settlement Act on the Statute Book and everything is going nicely." But we should go a little deeper than that.
Thirdly, the Bill does not in any way fire the imagination of Governments of this country or of the Commonwealth or of people who are seeking to migrate. What this Bill does is to say, "If you want to migrate, whoever you may be, if you know where you want to migrate and if you are prepared to overcome any number of obstacles and frustrations, then the Government may, in certain circumstances, pay up to 50 per cent. of the expenses of your passage." My hon. and learned Friend mentioned the fact that the money available was cut down in 1937 from £3 million to £1½ million. He mentioned that this sum has never yet been reached. I do not think that is a matter on which the Government can congratulate themselves.
I think the Government can be censured for the fact that they have not brought properly before the people who might be interested the ideals and objects for which the Bill provides. The Amendment does not propose any large scheme of mass migration in a short period. What we wish is that the Government shall be seized of a sense of urgency in this matter and shall be conscious of the vast importance which we attach to it.
As to those of us who have put our names to the Amendment, we have asked first that Her Majesty's Government 68 should speak with one voice, and clearly. It has been very difficult for anybody to understand exactly what is the Government's view. Only a few weeks ago I asked my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister whether he would appoint a Royal Commission to study this question, and his reply was that he thought this matter should be dealt with by families and groups of families.
With that I entirely agree, but my right hon. Friend then added a phrase which I did not at the time understand, and I am not quite sure what it means now. He said that he thought it better that we should all stay and fight it out together. I hope that the Prime Minister will take the earliest opportunity of clarifying his personal position on this whole question, because it is most ambiguous at the moment. I hope that the Government will speak with one voice.
If we are, as a Commonwealth, to accept the fact that slowly, as the years go on, we are to drift further and further apart, then I think we are quite right to say, "We must all stay in this island together and we will put up the best show possible"; but if, as I believe, it must be the object of each one of us to see that the whole Commonwealth draws itself closer and closer together, then I think we must think not of being one island or unit inside the Commonwealth but must regard the whole Commonwealth as a single unit.
If one may make any further recommendation to Her Majesty's Government, it is this: I suppose that at present there are at least four partners of State—the Home Office, Commonwealth Relations, the Ministry of Labour and, I suspect, somewhere in the background, the Colonial Office—all interested in the subject of migration and rightly interested in it. I would ask the Government whether they would consider having one Minister responsible for the whole question. It has been put forward as desirable that there should be a Commonwealth conference on this matter; though I do not myself press the Government to accept that view. What I said earlier, and I repeat, is that I hope that Her Majesty's Government will put this matter on a very much higher level than it appears to have been for a great many years.
69 Finally, there is the question of information. Hon. and right hon. Members will probably have received inquiries from constituents as to how they should go about migration. I have had these inquiries. It is an astonishing fact that people who do inquire think that they might like to emigrate, but are not quite sure whether they are doing right or wrong, who to ask, where to ask, or how to go about it. It is this question that I am asking the Government to help us, in our own interests and the interests of the Commonwealth, to solve. I think that it is most important that Her Majesty's Government should, on behalf of themselves and those Governments that preceded them, show a change of heart in their approach to this matter.
Our forefathers handed down to us a heritage which we would do well to keep and preserve, and we are responsible for what we pass on to our children and grandchildren. One thing is certain: we can either go forward or sink back into disintegration, and if we sink back we shall not be given the opportunity to start again.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey de Freitas (Lincoln)
I beg to second the Amendment.
I ask the Government either to ask the Governments of Canada, Australia and New Zealand to join with us in a searching inquiry into the whole question of migration, considering its political, economic and social aspects, or, if they feel they cannot do that, to have bilateral discussions on this matter.
I think we should admit that only too often when we talk about migration the general public believe that the speaker has a feeling that this country is no longer fit to live in. What nonsense that point of view is. I am in favour of emigration and the study of emigration because I believe it is right that we should help our sister countries of the Commonwealth to develop their resources and develop them quickly.
Let us realise that very big political decisions are involved—political decisions that have to be made not only by us here at Westminster but by our colleagues in the Parliaments of the Dominions. Before we make these decisions, we have to have the facts on which to make them. That is why I want a study made of this problem.
70 Too often we hear pleas for a Royal Commission on a subject, or an inquiry of the status of a Royal Commission when all the facts are well known and what is needed is a policy decision. What I am asking for is something different. Very few of the facts are known to us, and we and our colleagues in the Parliaments overseas are in danger of making pronouncements and decisions entirely on emotional grounds. Nothing is more useless than some half-baked scheme which sounds well after a good lunch at a Chamber of Commerce. Even more dangerous are those who do not think at all about this matter and are content to talk in slogans.
We have had one extreme, as the hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Mr. Langford-Holt) pointed out—the "Let us stay here and fight it out" school. The prime offender in this is the Prime Minister His emotional approach was valuable in 1940—let us stay in this "tight little island" and "up with the drawbridge." But today this implies that an emigrant is no more than a deserter. That is the kind of emotional approach that is wrong and gets us nowhere. At the other extreme, we have people who say, "We are overcrowded; we must migrate to our Colonies." These slogans harm our Commonwealth relations. "We" in this country are overcrowded and therefore "our" Colonies must do something about it. The choice of words alone is enough to undo decades of good work at the Commonwealth Relations Office. It is rather like what was heard so often in a magistrates court before the war, when the chairman would say to a young offender in the dock, "There must be some good in you; why don't you join the Army or go to the Colonies."
I submit that we must not look at this matter primarily as a United Kingdom problem, either of over-population affecting our standard of living, or of over-concentration of people in a small island in the atomic age. I would have nothing to do with this if I thought that it was merely a "Let us get away from the atomic bomb" attitude. I am sure that other hon. Members share that view. As it is, there is no conceivable scale of migration which could make any substantial difference to the fact that this island has 50 million people on it in a small area.
71 We cannot, however, ignore two facts. One was mentioned by the hon. Member for Shrewsbury—the advice of the Chiefs of Staff in 1946 to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers, as published in "The Times"; and the other, that the United Kingdom carries a population supportable, as many people think, only in conditions of her holding almost world industrial monopoly. As Sir John Russell said at the British Association meeting in October, 1948,Gone are the days when it was possible to exchange one or two hours of industrial labour for a hundred or more of agricultural labour.I am asking that this matter be considered primarily from the point of view of our duty—that is to say, the duty of the white race as a whole and particularly the British community of nations—to make the best use of the areas of the world that we control. We have been given great advantages, and it is our duty to develop to the best of our ability the resources that we control.
In recent times in Western countries the political struggle has broadly been between the "haves" and the "have-nots." In the international field it is still that struggle, and it is still unresolved. Let us not forget that the disparity between the "haves" and the "have-nots" is even greater internationally than it is in the nation itself in Western countries. Not long ago on the Adjournment I advocated, as I do now, discussions between Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and deliberately omitted the three Asiatic Dominions.
§ Sir Ian Fraser (Morecambe and Lonsdale)
I am sure the hon. Member does not mean to leave out South Africa.
§ Mr. de Freitas
I do mean to leave out South Africa. Perhaps I might explain why. I believe that, as history has shown, until we are all as Christian as we would like others to be, the settlement of different races together has not worked smoothly enough.
§ Mr. de Freitas
There are at least two different peoples in South Africa, the Africans and the white people. I am deliberately not mentioning South Africa.
§ Mr. de Freitas
I chose my words rather carefully. I am not advocating discussions with South Africa because I believe that until—these are the words I used—we are all as Christian as we would like others to be, it has been proved that the settlement of two races alongside each other has great difficulties. I will not put it higher or lower than that. I do not want to get into an argument with the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) about the policy of South Africa.
§ Mr. Peter Smithers (Winchester)
This is of great importance. Is the hon. Gentleman saying that people should emigrate from this country only to a territory which is exclusively or nearly exclusively white in its population?
§ Mr. de Freitas
I hope not to be controversial about this. I have had opportunities in other forms for being so. I am saying that we in the United Kingdom should have discussions with Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which I hope to show are the three countries which need people to develop them and which can get people from this country to do so, and they are also countries of white settlement.
§ Mr. de Freitas
If I may develop my point I might answer what is in the mind of my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Mr. Follick). I was saying that on the Adjournment I had advocated discussions with these three countries. It was pointed out to me afterwards that this emphasis on migration to those countries from this country and not from the Asiatic countries might be one of the steps inducing the three Asiatic countries to leave the Commonwealth because they felt that they were out of it. I do not share that view. I have talked with people from the three new Dominions, and I find that that view is not held by them.
§ Mr. Follick
Turning again to the question of South Africa, does not my hon. Friend agree that an influx of people from the United Kingdom into South Africa would counterbalance the Boer influence in that part of the world?
§ Mr. de Freitas
We could have a most interesting debate on that, and I have views on the subject, but I am anxious to concentrate upon advocating discussions with Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and I hope my hon. Friend will excuse me if I try to take the House along on that point.
In spite of what has been mentioned to me about the three Asiatic Dominions, certainly should not be here advocating discussions with the three other countries only if I thought for a moment that it would lead along the road towards having the three Asiatic countries out of the Commonwealth. I regard their presence in the Commonwealth as the greatest possible link between the East and the West and a force which may shape the destiny of this country and of Europe in the decades to come.
Nor would I advocate migration on any scale from this country if I thought that by de-population we should so weaken ourselves as the leading power in the Commonwealth and the second leading power in the free world that our influence would in any way be diminished. I regard sudden changes of influence as difficult for the nations of the world to balance. For example, the sudden great wealth and power of the United States today makes it hard to adjust her into the political organisation of the world.
Incidentally, the development of the United States, the rise in her production and the increase in her wealth, have been directly due to her policy of large-scale immigration. Raw materials were there, but they would have been useless without the millions of men and women who went there to work. I do not know whether hon. Members realise that at the end of the Civil War there were only 30 million people in the United States and the Confederate States together. Yet people alive at that time lived to be citizens of a country of 150 million people. The immigration was gigantic. At some stages it reached a million people a year. We can compare that with the figures for 1950 for Canada, with a population of 14 million, of an immigration of 74,000; Australia, with 8 million population, 180,000 immigration; and New Zealand, 2 million population, 18,000 immigration.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
I am sure that my hon. Friend does not wish to mislead the House. He has been making 74 a comparison with Australia. One-third of Australia's area is total desert and two-thirds of it has an annual rainfall of less than 10 inches. It is hardly fair to compare an immigration of over 100 million people into the U.S.A. with immigration into a country like Australia.
§ Mr. de Freitas
I assumed that all hon. Members knew that. I did not think it necessary to point out that Australia has vast barren areas, although I shall have something to say even about that in a moment.
I have stressed the need for a study of the problems because so little work has been done in this field. But we do not need any study to know that raw materials are lying undeveloped in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and that there are millions of people in the United Kingdom who are ready and willing to emigrate, are adventurous, skilled and industrious, and would make good citizens.
Although I have travelled to many parts of the world, I have never visited Australia. But I have read about it. I was recently reading a book by Mr. R. G. Casey, "Double or Quit," in which he gives two striking examples of the natural resources at present undeveloped in Australia. One was the Burdekin River, which drains an area larger than England and Wales; typical of rivers and countries of that climate, the valley is sometimes barren and is then in enormous flood. Mr. Casey estimated that if a scheme could be devised for harnessing the water—it would be gigantically expensive, as all such schemes are—instead of periods of drought and flood there would be 250,000 acres of irrigated pasture which could be used for fattening cattle as well as tens of thousands of acres of irrigated land for growing cotton. Mr. Casey also gave the illustration of the Blair Atholl coal seam of 200 million tons of first-class coal in the same State, the seam being between 50 and 90 feet thick, and not buried in the bowels of the earth but lying on top of the earth ready to be dug up by any modern excavating machinery. If the British community of nations do not develop those resources, others will do so.
My hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) referred to the barren areas of Australia. They are huge. But we must not forget that many 75 parts of the areas that we call barren would support Asiatics at a higher standard of life than they have in Asia today. We must not forget that every day the world population increases by 60,000 to 70,000 people, approximately the population of my constituency, and nearly all this increase is of Asiatics. Incidentally, I believe the average annual increase of population in Australia has been just about that figure for the last 50 years.
Let us recognise this. On what moral basis can we deny the development of these resources if the white races do not do it themselves? We have reached a stage in most civilised countries where private property must now be used in the public interest. The public conscience demands it. It is not a long step before the public conscience within a nation becomes also the public conscience within a community of nations. Already no one in this country thinks of allowing the law of supply and demand to operate as it did not long ago, so that rice could be brought from countries liable to famine and thrown at a wedding reception and washed away down the drain.
I have already spoken of Australia. New Zealand differs from Canada and Australia. Although it needs immigrants, as far as I have been able to study the problem, it has not the same abundant natural resources as have Canada and Australia which need people to develop them. As for Canada, I see the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Aitken) here, and I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, Central (Mr. Ian Winterbottom) will want to speak on that, and therefore I shall leave that subject.
There is a point which can properly be put to us constitutionally. What right have we in this Parliament to discuss the economic development of these sovereign countries, even though they are our sister nations in the Commonwealth? I was careful to base my argument on the need for the development of these overseas countries. However, this country is still the centre of the Commonwealth, and I believe that it is our duty as Members of Parliament to discuss matters which we believe will strengthen the Commonmealth as a whole. Many matters of Commonwealth concern are debatable in 76 the sense that men of good-will agreeing with nine-tenths of another's views can disagree—for instance, whether the Union of South Africa being in the Commonwealth is an asset or a liability. But it is certainly not debatable that the strengthening of the Commonwealth by developing the resources of the overseas Dominions is of itself a great advantage to the free world.
§ Mr. Beverley Baxter (Southgate)
We are listening with very great interest to the hon. Member, but I hope he will not bring South Africa in again. I know that he raises it hypothetically, but we ought not—
§ Mr. Baxter
The hon. Gentleman said that it could be argued whether or not South Africa was a country which it was wise to have in the Commonwealth. I urge him to think what this will read like in the South African newspapers.
§ Mr. de Freitas
I am so sorry. I was careful not to do it, but the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale brought in the subject of South Africa. I was most reluctant to be drawn into a discussion of it. It will be within the memory of the House that I chose my words carefully and tried hard not to bring South Africa into the discussion. I mentioned it only because I thought that the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale was about to intervene again. I was trying to ask him not to bring it into the discussion because I wanted to concentrate on what we all agree upon.
§ Sir I. Fraser
This seems to me vitally important. If the hon. Member takes a personal view in this matter and feels so deeply about it that he must point to South Africa by excluding it—that is what he did in the early part of his speech—might one not at least ask that it be made clear from the Opposition that any policy of excluding South Africa from discussions of Empire, Commonwealth or migration matters would not be the policy of Her Majesty's Opposition?
§ Mr. de Freitas
What I will make clear is this. Certain hon. Members interested in the subject of emigration to the Commonwealth got together and decided to try to have a non-party debate on the subject. It was also decided, in some cases tacitly and in some expressly, that 77 we would do everything we could to make this a debate without reference to South Africa, because controversy on South Africa might easily have arisen in view of recent decisions and discussions in this House. For that reason I did not venture to express any opinion. It was only the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale who ventured one. I have said that for various reasons I do not want to discuss it, and I now say it is a debatable point. What is not debatable is that a strengthening of the Commonwealth itself would be in the interests of the free world.
§ Mr. de Freitas
I have been a little longer than I meant to be through no fault of my own. I will conclude by asking the Under-Secretary of State to consider having the inquiry for which I have asked, because there are so many things on which we have no information and of which no study has been made. The very fact that I have to mention these items for the agenda shows how little work has been done. The most elementary fact which should be worked out is where the money is to come from. I have mentioned gigantic dams. Who will pay for them? Again, is it not a fact that the emigration from this country of one skilled man represents at least £1,000 of investment going abroad?
Another point arises where overseas countries are recruiting for agricultural work. Is it really right for them to choose only agricultural workers? I have seen areas in Africa, and have had pointed out to me areas in North America, which are like Australia, where it is claimed that soil erosion has come about because men worked the soil in the same way as they worked it in the very different soil and climate of this country. Therefore, might it not be better for men here who know nothing about agriculture to go there and be taught the job in that new country?
Again, I have in my hand a telegram from Australia which reads as follows:Your action urging increased migration from Britain as reported Melbourne Herald has strong public support here. Suggest you follow up British textile manufacturers with view them transporting Australia entire plants with employees.What are the economics of that? An important body of Australians sent me 78 that telegram but, as far as I know, there has been no study of the economics, apart from anything else, of such a migration.
In the earlier discussion on statistics our import of brains was mentioned, but have we not also to look at the problem of the export of brains? Are Canada, Australia and New Zealand large enough to keep at home most of their outstanding young citizens? Does not the fact that they have smaller populations allow the United States and the United Kingdom to attract disproportionate numbers?
So many facts are completely unknown that we are in grave danger of deciding this matter and making pronouncements upon it on emotional grounds. We need a careful study of it. One thing alone is clear, that it is only by making the best use of the people and the land of the Commonwealth that we can develop our strength so that the Commonwealth can assert its great influence for good in the world.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Nicolson (Bournemouth, East and Christchurch)
In rising to address the House for the first time, I should like to express my appreciation of the warm welcome and help which is given by hon. Members on both sides of the House to the new Parliamentary recruit. I was told, and I suppose we all were, that joining Parliament is like one's first term at school, but that seemed to me to be most inexact analogy, for it is surely a strange school where the masters and prefects get all the bullying and the new boys all the privileges.
I have sat in this Chamber through many hours during my period of incubation, and I heard things said in public which would never be repeated outside in private. In that habit the House, to its credit, seems to differ from any other community of human beings I have ever experienced. But the tolerance and the indulgence which it habitually extends to all those who are making their maiden speeches without malice or conceit arouses my gratitude, and it gives me the confidence I so badly need on this formidable occasion. I trust that I shall not abuse it.
The subject which we are debating this afternoon seemed to me very suitable for a maiden speech, for it is one 79 in which I have long been interested and one which is not likely to arouse great antagonisms between myself and hon. Members opposite. Nobody would dispute the advantages of a British Commonwealth in which all resources and land were fully developed and utilised for the benefit of all mankind. If, as I believe, we should do our utmost to see this brought about primarily by a British population, then I think no time is better than the present to set on foot those long-term plans which are so necessary, and no persons are better suited to do it than my right hon. Friends who form Her Majesty's present Government.
The shortage of manpower in the Dominions, and particularly the two larger Dominions, has never been greater than now. Since the end of the war we have had constant appeals from the Dominions to expand their population and expressions of their desire to draw their new blood primarily from these islands. That is not happening. What we are seeing, for instance, in Australia, which is proud to have 96 per cent. of her population of British stock, is that she has taken in 600,000 immigrants since the end of the war and only one-third of them are of British extraction.
At the same time we have seen in this country a great upsurge in the willingness of our own people to emigrate. A recent Gallup Poll came to the remarkable conclusion that one British family in three are willing and eager to take up their roots from this country and replant them in the overseas Dominions. From the small seaport of Christchurch, in my own constituency, three young men departed last year in a 28-foot boat to make their way to Tasmania, and they have successfully arrived there. Hon. Members on both sides of the House will no doubt be able to add to that example from their own experience.
It is not necessity or land hunger which drives these people overseas. They are not going now, as they did once, as refugees, as charity children or even as colonists. They are going because they see overseas new opportunities which perhaps do not exist here, and because they already feel an instinctive sense of kinship with those who have gone in the past and laid the foundations of the populations in the Dominions today.
80 These two naturally converging aims, the desire to emigrate and the desire for emigrants have been kept apart not so much by the physical difficulties of transport and housing, for we have seen in the example I have quoted from Australia that foreigners have been able to overcome these difficulties, and surely we can equally well overcome them if we have the will behind us. I believe that these converging aims have been kept apart by the apparent indifference of recent Governments at home, and by the lack of any common Commonwealth policy which is apparent to the world at large.
I am not asking for any mass-emigration policy. I do not believe that any policy of emigration should be founded upon something which appeals more to the dramatic than to one's own good sense. It would be very foolish to try to export whole communities of people together with their factories, and on no account should anybody be forced to go, as any hon. Member will readily agree if he can envisage the disappearance almost overnight of his entire constituency. In any case, emigration on such a scale would fall as an intolerable strain on our economy and the economy of the Dominion. Perhaps 500 years of British history can be crammed into 100 years of Dominion history, but it cannot be crammed into 10 years.
The rate of emigration I have in mind, and which is supported by many outside groups such as the Migration Council, is the migration of 10 million or 15 million people spread over the next 50 years, or about double the rate of emigration over the past century. That is a rate of loss which we in this country could afford to lose with advantage, and a rate of gain which the Dominions could easily absorb.
Nor should we press for any great increase in the grants from State funds to intending emigrants. Emigration aided by the State is in many ways the worst type, for in times of stress such an emigrant will look to his old or to his new Government for further help. The man who uproots himself and his family and transplants himself is starting with a capital of determination which is much better than any grant which we may be able to give him from State funds. Indeed, it is not necessary for us to ask 81 for any more funds than those already allowed under the Empire Settlement Act, and I suggest that that money should be used more for propaganda and, perhaps, for assisted passages than for any attempt to settle migrants upon the lands of our dominions.
When this subject was first discussed, those who framed the Act and first operated it were thinking very largely in terms of land settlement—the most expensive form of migration yet known; but now we have passed beyond that phase. We have passed beyond the stage of pioneering into a stage when we should think of the possibilities of developing the resources and raw materials of this great Empire. Surely, it should be left, if I may use the expression from these benches in a maiden speech, to private enterprise, not aided by State funds, but relying upon their own initiative and determination, to develop these resources. The State should act as the lubricant and the stimulant to these private operations, but no more.
I therefore ask the Government to encourage by every means possible a policy of emigration. In the past, their attitude has been one of a lukewarm divorce. "We do not want to lose you," they have said, in effect, "and we think you should not go. If you must go we cannot stop you, but we will not give you any further assistance beyond as small a grant of alimony as we decently can." Such lack of encouragement amounts to strong discouragement.
It has been left to the propaganda of small societies and the distant pull of the magnets within the Dominions themselves to move the inertia of the great mass of people who could be induced to go if only they saw the opportunity and if the Government at home would encourage them to go. An idea can be sown or it can be planted. At present, the idea is broadcast with little chance of germination. Only the British Government can plant this idea in the minds both of our own people and of the Dominions overseas. They alone have the authority and the position to inaugurate an emigration policy which is a national and an Imperial policy. They alone have the power and the authority to provide a service by which they could collect, sift and then disseminate information through a recognisable Government Department. At the moment it does not exist.
82 The British Government alone have the power to break through the bottleneck of transport and accommodation by, for instance—I throw out this suggestion—providing each migrant family with a prefabricated house to take with them. Finally they alone have the power to induce, perhaps, by preferential treatment, British industry to set up or to expand within the Dominions and so absorb the new population as it arrives.
As a first step, I suggest that the Government should call another Dominions conference to discuss all these matters. I am well aware that many hon. Members on both sides of the House are against such a full and general discussion and would like to see these matters talked out individually and bilaterally between the United Kingdom Government and the different Governments of the Dominions interested. I object to this, however, and for two reasons.
First, it is necessary that the general principles of priorities, quotas, transport, accommodation and reciprocal social service benefits should be settled first at this general conference; and then we can work out the details individually between the United Kingdom and the separate Dominion Governments. The second reason is even more important. By adopting hole-in-the-corner methods, we should lose the value of the publicity which would be given if the whole Commonwealth, or those parts of it that are interested in receiving migrants, get together and put into practice the suggestion that there has been a change of heart, which the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) talked about, and emphasise that we intend to realise the full value of what we are now embarking upon. There is no question whatever that if we fail to take action now, the time may come, perhaps, in 50 years or fewer when, faced, perhaps, by national insolvency or another war, we shall regret the day when we did not see the importance of this subject.
I remind the House that the Empire Settlement Act arose originally from the Dominions Conference of 1921, and that that conference was, in turn, gathered from all the corners of the Empire to discuss these matters in the same way as I am suggesting that they should be recalled to discuss them now. They look to the United Kingdom, both as the leader 83 of the Commonwealth and also as the home of the bulk of the people whom they wished to attract, for a lead and for an example.
In 1917 the Dominions Royal Commission, which did so much by way of founding the ideas upon which the Act was based, gave it as their opinion that:Of all the problems which lie before Imperial statesmanship, none is more important and none more fascinating than that of migration. Its successful organisation lies at the root of the problem of Empire development, and largely upon it depends the progress of the immense territories of the Dominions and the increase of power of the Empire as a whole.Have we been worthy of, or have we lived up to, those high aspirations of 35 years ago? I do not think that we have and for that reason I trust that on this occasion, which is the second renewal of the Empire Settlement Act, we will seize these opportunities and not live to regret another wasted chance.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)
I am sure that I speak for all Members when I say that we have listened to a very competent and very interesting speech by a new boy who has certainly well earned the extraordinary privileges which, he says, are paid to new boys. The hon. Member for Bournemouth, East and Christchurch (Mr. N. Nicolson) has shown that he has already admirably got the manner which is much liked by the House of Commons and that he can marshal his facts and his arguments. He has spoken in a manner worthy of his very distinguished father, and I assure him that the House will want to hear from him very often in the future.
I express my gratitude to the hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Mr. Langford-Holt) and to my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) and others who have tabled the Amendment, not that I agree with it—in fact, I disagree with it and will give my reasons—but because it gives an opportunity to discuss in a general way a matter of very great importance, to which I gave a great deal of attention when I was in office, but which would not otherwise be in order. I assume that the Amendment will be withdrawn, because we certainly will want to support the Bill.
84 I should like to start with one or two remarks about the general problem of migration, which is a much more difficult problem than is often thought, and to express my disagreement with the two basic arguments which are often used on this matter and which seem to me to underlie the Amendment and which certainly were used by the hon. Member for Shrewsbury, and both of which seem to me to be dangerous and misleading arguments.
First—the hon. Member for Shrewsbury did not put a great deal of stress upon this, but it is often used—is the argument that we must for strategic reasons disperse everything from these islands—men, machines, factories and everything else.
§ Mr. Langford-Holt
I purposely laid very little stress upon that. I referred only in one sentence in passing to the representations of the Chiefs of Staff, and I left it at that.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
The Chiefs of Staff, of course, are very important people, and I know this argument. I prefaced my remarks by saying that the hon. Member did not lay much stress on the point. The strategic argument, although there is some weight in it, cuts both ways. If we had a sudden and drastic weakening of democratic power in the West, there would be a great danger to peace and to the Commonwealth. We must cling to the position that a strong Britain is essential for the welfare and safety of the Commonwealth.
But there was another argument, and on this the hon. Member did lay rather more stress—the argument which I might call that of emptying Britain—that we have so many people and are so densely populated here that we must distribute them in less densely populated parts overseas. I do not think, as my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) said some people seem to, that a migrant is a traitor. Of course, a migrant to any part of the Commonwealth is in no sense lost to us; he in any case remains one of the family.
However, the United Kingdom is itself a part of the Commonwealth, and it also needs population. Its population needs must be regarded as much as those of any other part of the Commonwealth, and we need all our hands and skill to earn our living today. If this country is well 85 run its great problem will be a shortage of labour, not a surplus. I am not ashamed to say that I think the British in Britain are very good Britons and there are not enough of them in the world.
Many people who argue for large scale migration seem to be thinking much more of other people migrating than themselves, which is a certain comment on their policy. It seems to me that if we were not a member of the Commonwealth but a country all on our own in the world, we should not want any emigration at all. If we were an isolated country we would want an increased population, and it is only because we are a member of the Commonwealth that we have a duty to encourage emigration from this to other parts of the Commonwealth.
I start from the assumption that migration is vital because we are a part of the Commonwealth and it is essential to the prosperity, the trade, the strength of the Commonwealth and the spiritual ties of the Commonwealth. But we must consider in this matter the Commonwealth as a whole, including the United Kingdom which too often is excluded from these considerations. Therefore, there must be some limit and we should not vaguely ask for a maximum migration, as I think the Amendment does, but an optimum migration in the general interests of the Commonwealth as a whole.
There is no more annoying talk for British ears—and one hears a certain amount of it—than that to the effect that taking people from this country to other countries is a kindness to this country. This is a joint Commonwealth activity, that imposes burdens on all, and it is for the benefit of us all. When I say that it is a joint Commonwealth undertaking, I do not mean that it is a common one, and I must disagree with the hon. Member for Bournemouth, East, and Christchurch who in his maiden speech advocated the holding of a conference on this matter. Different Commonwealth countries have very different views about it.
I doubt very much if Canada would want to discuss its problem of migration from this country with others, and in South Africa it is to some extent a question of internal politics. Migration in the Commonwealth is by no means limited to these islands. There are great problems of migration in other parts of the 86 Commonwealth, for example Indians going to Ceylon, and very elaborate and complex problems of migration, and it would lead to great confusion if we tried to solve them all by a conference.
The right way, not a hole in the corner way, is by two-sided talks between ourselves and the Commonwealth countries concerned. I think that many of the criticisms levelled at the present Government, and by implication at the previous Government, on this matter are ill-founded and unjust. The main impediment to emigration since the war has been at the other end—lack of housing—something over which we have no control. The only impediment we have imposed is on the Canadian dollars, which was much criticised by the Opposition when we were in office. Not so much is heard of it now, although it was restated by the Under-Secretary. I think it is an impediment and very unfortunate. It would be much easier for migrants if they had a lump sum. I can say this now, but I could not say it in office in public. I can never understand why Canada cannot make an advance in dollars with a given security and charging interest against repayment over four years. They would be giving a lump sum to start with.
§ Brigadier O. L. Prior-Palmer (Worthing)
Is it not a fact that in certain cases the £1,000 allowed for a period of four years can be taken as a lump sum?
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
That is by permission of the Treasury here, but in the remaining cases, at the Canadian end, it could be advanced in dollars against repayment to the Canadian authorities over four years.
§ Mr. Baxter
When I was in Canada two or three years ago and was talking to some Ministers of the Government, they were very much in favour of that. I think that if it had been pressed when the right hon. Gentleman was in power he would have found them much more receptive than he thinks.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
It would be most improper to put pressure on the Canadian authorities, although I did not miss opportunities to put forward views. One puts forward views and they are either listened to or not.
87 I think that some criticism can be made of British Governments, and I must frankly admit that this applied to the Government of which I was a member. We need a much more careful and consistent study of this problem than we have had the time to give to it. As the hon. Member for Shrewsbury pointed out, there is no single Minister responsible. Commonwealth Relations, the Board of Trade, the Ministry of Labour and the Home Office are all concerned. I suggest that the Minister in charge ought to be the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations in order to make it clear that we are putting our whole emphasis on emigration to and within the Commonwealth. Statistics we have to deal with are excessively defective.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman who replies will give his mind to this matter, although obviously he cannot give undertakings straight away. For example, we only record emigration by sea and not by air, and some Commonwealth countries are not distinguished but lumped together with others, and we have no real attempt made to get at net migration. Commonwealth visitors who come to this country and go back count as migrants from this country, completely confusing the whole picture. There is no way of knowing how many are returned emigrants and how many original citizens of the country from which they have come.
It would be useful to have some figures of ages in order to consider the question of the cross-section of the population going out of the country. I well know, because I tried a lot of these things, that there are many difficulties and objections and one cannot get perfection, but I have no doubt that we could get more effective statistics which would help the Government to form opinion and get a clearer picture.
The Government ought to get a clearer picture of the objectives. I spoke of the need for an optimum migration, and that means some attempt to get a figure. Unless we get a figure at which we are aiming, we cannot really have a sensible discussion about this matter. It is no use having airy generalisations. We can only fix the figure if we fix the need here and the need at the receiving end. 88 The countries wanting British people, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, have a rate of increase which is nothing like as great as many people think. Everyone gets exaggerated ideas about migration. The intake of migrants involves a very large intake of capital expenditure. For instance, Southern Rhodesia has just had to reduce the amount of money spent on immigrants because of the capital investment problem in that country.
It seems that about 2 per cent. per annum increase for a country which is increasing its population is about as great as it can bear. That was stated by the Royal Commission on Population. Those countries want about 230,000 immigrants a year to keep up a rate of 2 per cent. per annum. Against that we have to set what the United Kingdom can afford and expect to send, and people must bear in mind the consequences of the things they advocate. If we met a third of that need—75,000—it would be one-tenth of all people reaching 20 every year in this country. I think we could send rather more than 75,000, because we shall not only send people under 20 but a cross-section. I agree that it is important that it should be a cross-section. I also agree that it is not enough of a cross-section, but that there is too much selective emigration. We must insist on this very much more strongly in the discussions with the Commonwealth countries.
It is the net figure which counts. Against the figure of out-flow we must set the counter-flow coming in, and the intake of foreigners. A lot of people think it odd that we should be taking foreigners into this country and sending British people out to the Commonwealth countries. But in fact it is a sensible policy. We can absorb a larger number of foreigners into a population of 50 million more easily and safely than can Commonwealth countries with smaller populations.
The right figure for a net out-flow, taking into account all the considerations possible, is the figure of about 100,000 or a little more, which is given in the report of the Royal Commission on Population. I do not know whether the Government would agree with that figure as a rough estimate. That would mean quite a considerable reduction of population 89 in this country. It does not sound an immense amount compared with the sort of figure which bodies of this sort talk about, but if we send 100,000 or so steadily out of this country it will mean, on the most reasonable assumption about the birth rate and so on, a population in 1973 of up to 7 per cent. less than today.
§ Mr. Follick
My right hon. Friend referred to a 7 per cent. reduction. What proportion of new births does that represent?
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
It depends entirely on the ages at which people go out. That is set out at considerable length in the Report of the Royal Commission. It would mean an increasingly large number of old people if the emigration were evenly distributed over the population.
We must face up to what this means. The Commonwealth countries I have mentioned need something like 230,000, which means that we could send about half of their needs. Therefore, immigration cannot be used to maintain the British balance in the Commonwealth unchanged as it is today. There is a slow change going on. The actual balance of population in the Commonwealth will get an increasing non-British element in it, and we must not, because it is quite impossible to keep it static, try to use migration as a way of maintaining the present balance of British people in the Commonwealth absolutely unchanged.
These arguments lead to the conclusion that we must have some idea of the total figure going, and also some idea of the direction in which we would like it to go. We need to concentrate more on the Commonwealth. There is quite a considerable migration to foreign countries. There was a sharp increase in 1951, and it is running now, or it was last year, at about 19,000. That is a considerable number of people, and many of them would be valuable in the Commonwealth. We should concentrate the available migration into Commonwealth channels and also consider, so far as possible, the best distribution of these people within the Commonwealth itself.
There are two examples which I wish to give, which are not often considered. Southern Rhodesia is a small country to which people from South Africa are 90 going at the rate of two-to-one compared with Britain. It is important that the British element should be kept up, as was stated in the Victoria Falls Communique. I am very glad that the Southern Rhodesian Government has a quota system and assisted passages.
Another point which is never mentioned at all is that of the British in India, Pakistan and Ceylon. This is not migration in the true sense of the term, because most of the British going there do not settle and bring up their families. But they do spend their working lives in those countries, and it is important that the number of British people doing so should be as high as possible. I believe that today there are more British people in India than before India received her independence. When I was in office I started a check of the figures of British in these three countries. I hope that the present Government is keeping that up, because these things cause a little trouble to officials and may sometimes tend to drop away.
If we have agreement on objectives the next question is how to attain them. We have very limited means, because we are discussing human beings and not cattle, and human beings can be very cussed people. Immigration and migration fluctuate enormously. From 1871 until 1931 there was a net outflow from this country, but in the decade, from 1931 to 1941, there was a net inflow into this country of over 650,000, largely from the Commonwealth. There are enormous fluctuations which are not within the control of Governments, because nobody wishes to impose compulsion one way or the other.
One way is by assisted passages, which is what the Bill deals with. I am not altogether enamoured of the idea of paying people to migrate. I think it is an outmoded and rather repugnant idea. From what he said about charity and so on, I gather that the hon. Member for Bournemouth, East and Christchurch agreed with me. I do not think that the policy of assisted passages has been very successful. The figures given by the Under-Secretary show they have not been very successful, and I think it wrong and an old-fashioned idea.
The cost to us of migration from this country is getting greater every year. The cost of raising children to the age of 16 involves a bigger and bigger capital 91 investment. There is the cost of schooling, health and housing, and the receiving country reaps the entire benefit of that capital investment. We are entitled to maintain that migration to the Commonwealth is in itself imposing an increasing burden upon us.
We must watch the expenditure of our own country, because even a half million is not to be sneezed at. Our contribution to Australia, which incidentally is the only country with which we have an agreement under the Empire Settlement Act, is dropping. The agreement has to run for three years. There is not, and there should not be, any question of stopping this at once. There are a number of political considerations involved, but I think that when the three years comes to an end we may have to consider carefully whether this particular way is suitable and proper.
If it is necessary to have assisted passages in order to equalise different distances by sea and air, I feel it should be done by the receiving country—as is in fact done by Canada, New Zealand and Southern Rhodesia. There are much better ways of achieving these objectives, and we must achieve them in conjunction with the Commonwealth countries concerned. We must assert our right to share with them in discussing all sorts of problems which arise out of migration. That will not be a right which they will concede to us very willingly, but where they are taking our people we have a right—partly to watch the interests of those people and get effective statistics and so forth—to assert our right to discuss the matter with the Dominion countries concerned.
There are two things in particular which the United Kingdom can do. One is publicity. I bitterly regret the cuts which the Government have been making in information expenditure, and particularly in the C.O.I. lectures on the Commonwealth. That was one of the best ways of spreading knowledge and one of the most suitable ways of encouraging migration. For a Government to say it is in favour of migration and then for them to cut one of the main means at their disposal for helping migration is a great contradiction.
We can use direct publicity by the Government to create a spirit which will favour the optimum out-flow from this 92 country and give co-operation to Commonwealth Governments advertising themselves in this country. It is necessary to avoid competition. Various Commonwealth Governments compete one with another for the same sort of people, and they sometimes compete with our Government when we are trying to recruit scarce labour.
All these are things which must be sorted out in the common interest. We could give much help through the employment exchanges, and, indeed, we already do, but we could do a great deal more by proper advertising in the exchanges and in advice given to people who are seeking jobs. We can do more in conjunction with the Commonwealth Governments than we are doing now, and that sort of help would be very much more important than the relatively small sums that go towards assisted passages. However, we are prepared to support this Bill, which arises out of our own policy.
If I might summarise what I have been saying, I would say that we want optimum, and not maximum, migration; we want much better co-ordination in the Government machine and a much more realistic approach. Population is a rare and precious thing, which we must use with care and not under broad generalisations; and we must assert that this is a joint undertaking between ourselves and each of the Commonwealth Governments concerned. If we approach the problem in that spirit, we can all agree that migration is vitally important to the Commonwealth, but only if we tackle it in this realistic and proper spirit, and not regard it as a vague set of generalisations, as too often has been the case.
§ 6.21 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Carson (Isle of Thanet)
We, who have put our names to the Amendment on the Order Paper, feel that this is a matter of extreme importance and we hope that the Government will feel the same way about it. My hon. and learned Friend the Under-Secretary, who moved the Second Reading of the Bill, made some of the right noises, but did not do it very convincingly. I am not sure that, in fact, he believes in increasing emigration.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) who has just sat down, was quite honest although, I think, rather muddled about 93 the whole thing. He seemed to arrive, with complacency, at the conclusion that the present population of this country was very satisfactory and about the right size, and, furthermore, that if we had not got an Empire we should need a far larger population than we have at the present time.
He might have said that if we had not got a Commonwealth, our standard of living, whatever our population, would be far lower than it is now. However, I think he does not believe that any substantial decrease in the population of this country is either possible or desirable. I do not agree with him.
My hon. Friends and myself who have put down the Amendment believe it is very important because, in fact, it contains a long-term policy. We are not Members of Parliament sent here to legislate only for the present, but we must look also to the future, and we believe that this proposal contains the long-term answer to many of the problems which we have to face as well as the answer to many of the problems facing the Dominions.
I do not want to do what the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) said no one must do, destroy decades of work at the Colonial Office by trying to make out that we are only trying to do ourselves good, but, surely there is nothing wrong in a little mutual good doing between ourselves and the Empire. I disagree entirely with the right hon. Member for Smethwick, and I believe that it is impossible and will become increasingly impossible in the years to come to continue to have a population of the size that we now have in these islands, and to keep and increase our standard of living at the same time. I do not believe, either, that it is possible or right to leave the Dominions under-populated and under-developed, which would be the actual result, because, if we do not develop them—and the Government would do well to remember this—other people will do so, and we shall be left out in the cold.
We in the United Kingdom have always lived as an exporting nation, and we have lived because we have always been able to find world markets in which to sell what we produce. That must go on, because, from the nature of our geographical situation, we are bound to continue 94 to have to do it, but I do not believe that we shall be able to go on finding markets to sell the necessary amount of goods for our present population and, at the same time, keep our standard of living where it is. In this country, we are already experiencing the beginning of these difficulties.
The right hon. Gentleman opposite spoke rather glibly about full employment—
§ Mr. Carson
Yes, of course, we should need all our hands, if there was full employment, but I do not believe that, with the population which we have now, we shall be able to maintain full employment without some form of redistribution of our population in the Dominions.
May I give two examples? Southern Rhodesia has found that it is good business to establish a cotton textile industry, and Australia is in the process of producing motor cars. I realise that the motor car industry in Australia is very small, and that Southern Rhodesia cannot even supply her own demand for cotton textiles, but we must look ahead. These industries will grow, whether we like it or not, and I believe that it is right and proper that people from this country should be in on this development from the beginning; otherwise, other people will take advantage of the opportunity, and perhaps American capital and also American people will take our places there. If that happens, where shall we be?
It has been quite rightly said that we cannot afford to have the cream skimmed from the population of this country, and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said that he is in favour of family migration. Well, of course, we entirely agree, but it is planned migration that is necessary to produce that. If the Government are merely to allow the thing to drift on in the carefree way in which it is going at present, we shall not get the balance we want, and we will be left with all the older age groups and other unsuitable people. This is recognised to some extent by Australia, but not by all the Dominions. Australia is doing much to help family migration by means of subsidised passages.
95 Here, I must mention the distressing rumours which I have heard from Australia. I should like to know what is the actual position. If I followed the right hon. Gentleman opposite correctly when he talked about assisted passages, I understood him to say that there had been a reduction in what we were prepared to do, and that he expressed the hope that in the years to come it would not be necessary for us to give any financial aid because he did not think it was a good way of doing it. Here, again, this is simply a question of a disagreement between the right hon. Gentleman and myself; we do not agree in principle and I know that the Australian Government do not agree at all.
I want to quote from the "Sydney Morning Herald" of 3rd April, 1952, on this subject. As the right hon. Gentleman will know, the original agreement drawn up in 1946 was to the effect that the emigrant himself paid £10 for his passage, the Australian Government paid £37 10s., and the Government of the United Kingdom paid a like amount. Mr. Holt, the Minister for Immigration, said a short time ago, in Canberra, that the financing of the scheme was now being reviewed, and that latterly, because of the need for economy, the United Kingdom Government had reduced its contribution to £25. The point with which I am concerned is that I understand that the Government are considering whether to make any contribution at all, but in view of the success of the scheme I hope that the United Kingdom contribution will be maintained, especially as Mr. Holt went on to say that since the war Australia had received 294,900 British emigrants.
I want to ask the Minister whether there is any truth at all in this rumour. It is causing grave concern at Australia House, and in my view it would be a stupid action to take at the present time. Indeed, if I thought it was really going to be done, I would find myself quite unable to support this Bill as it stands. In my view it was a retrograde step to cut down the allowance to £25, but I think it is far more retrograde for the present Government to abolish it altogether.
We realise, of course, the immediate difficulties, but we are not doing a service either to this country or to the Commonwealth 96 by continually stressing those difficulties. We must consider them, of course, but, having stated them, let us leave it at that and see what we can do to produce a long-term plan. I would like to know what the Government are doing in that way.
I read a very good book on the subject of emigration in which the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) wrote a foreword. He said:I consider that the broad argument for redistribution of population is quite unanswerable.He obviously does not agree with his right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick—On the other hand, the details need more study and discussion.Are these details getting more study and is there being more discussion. If there has to be more discussion, what sort is wanted? When is discussion likely to finish and when is some concrete plan likely to be produced?
I do not accept the view that as a long-term policy a reduction of population in this country is either undesirable or impossible. All Governments are apt to pretend that things are impossible because it is generally easier to say so and it gives them an excuse for taking no action. I am quite certain that if it is agreed that it is vital and necessary both for this country and for the Commonwealth as a whole, then ways will be found round all the difficulties that exist. They will not, of course, be found at once, but they will be found in time.
We are told that one of the main difficulties is shipping. I see that so far as Australia is concerned there were 10 ships in 1949 with a total tonnage of 169,953 tons wholly devoted to the carriage of free and assisted passengers to Australia. No doubt many more ships will be needed, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite said that the Government should do all they could to help in this way. I quite agree.
I saw in my daily paper a few days ago that the "Empress of Australia," which has a gross tonnage of, I suppose, 23,000 tons, was sailing on her last voyage, at the end of which she was due to be scrapped. Is that the right thing to do at the present time? I think that the ship is being used by the Government 97 at the moment, and I suggest that they should step in and see what they can do in the matter. It is a fine ship. I have travelled in her on a journey to Canada. She may be old, but there are such things as refits.
Then, of course, there is another difficulty. A great many of the other countries in the Commonwealth are not so generous as Australia about taking family groups. Southern Rhodesia, for example, will not allow an aged relative or dependant—that means anybody of 65 years or over—to go with a family migrating to Rhodesia until the family have been established there for three years. This is an insuperable difficulty for some of the lower income groups who entirely look after and maintain their parents, and who must take them with them if they are to start life afresh in another country.
This is the sort of problem that should be taken up by Her Majesty's Government with the Dominions concerned. I do not think it matters whether we have a Commonwealth conference to discuss it or whether it is discussed bilaterally with one Dominion after another. The important thing is that it should be discussed, and Her Majesty's Government should get together with the Dominions.
Finally, I will return to my first point. The salient fact remains that migration to the Empire and the Dominions will go on whether this Government help or not or whether they try to prevent or assist it. But if they do not help, if they do not produce a concrete and coherent plan, then we shall find that we are losing our place in our own Commonwealth and that people in enormous numbers are coming in from elsewhere.
The figures for Southern Rhodesia are particularly disturbing. In 1950, for example, 4,481 persons emigrated there from the United Kingdom; 10,422 emigrated from South Africa, and 1,342 from elsewhere. That is a ratio of about one in four. In 1951 the position was better. There were 6,200 from the United Kingdom and 9,700 from the Union of South Africa. I find that situation extremely disturbing. Even the most recent Australian figures show that only 55 per cent. of the people going to Australia are of British extraction—in 1950 it was completely the other way round—105,000 non-British as compared with 68,000 British. This situation will not even be 98 maintained, I suggest at the 1951 level unless the British Government produce a coherent policy.
I suppose that this Bill is useful and unless, as I say, we are told that the Government are cutting down drastically on assisted passages to Australia, it must be supported. But it would be a good deal more useful if we spent a little more of the money we are allowed to spend under the Bill as it stands. I would remind the House that when it was first introduced in 1922 and when the £ was worth considerably more than it is today, the original figure was £3 million as compared with £1,500,000 now.
During the Second Reading debate of the first Empire Settlement Bill, Mr. L. S. Amery, the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty, said of that £3 million a year:I believe that before very long we shall regard the amount now proposed as quite inadequate for so great and so remunerative a task."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th April, 1922; Vol. 153, c. 584.]Not only has the amount then proposed been halved, but even that half is not really being used yearly by the Government.
We believe that a policy along the lines of the Amendment is the only policy that will make our survival possible. I do not believe that any party in the House has a complete answer to the difficulties—which I posed at the beginning of my speech—first, of finding world markets and second, of maintaining full employment. We believe that migration is the only possible answer and Her Majesty's Government will be doing a great disservice to the Empire and failing in their duty to their own people if they brush this opportunity aside and allow us to go on drifting.
I hope that they will give it urgent consideration, because upon it depends so much of the future of so many of our people. I sincerely hope that when the Minister of Labour comes to reply he will allay some of our fears and will let us see that the Government will really take a lead in this matter.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian Winterbottom (Nottingham, Central)
I am glad to have the opportunity of following the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Carson) because like him I treat this subject of migration 99 within the Commonwealth as a problem of the development of the economic system of the Commonwealth as a whole. That is the framework within which it must be discussed.
One of the key factors we are facing today is that power depends upon access to raw materials and food. Any major industrial country can set up a factory system these days but unless those factories have raw materials to fabricate they are completely useless.
Every speaker in this debate has touched upon the fascination of this subject of the migration of human beings to new countries. Few of us can study the history of some of the earliest migrants, the Pilgrim Fathers, without being moved by their struggle and final success, which has resulted in English being the language of North America. But this enthusiasm has the unfortunate result of tending to cause us to think somewhat imprecisely on the subject of migration.
There are very difficult and complex subjects which must be considered and no final agreement has been reached on them. However, in spite of the fact that we do not know quite how much migration we should have and where it should go no one will deny that the result of the migration of British people during the last two or three centuries has been important; and future migrations will have important results provided that their direction or flow is wisely guided.
History shows that up to now the most successful method of migration has been by the initiative of the individual. Attempts have been made in the past to plan migration but they have not been particularly or markedly successful. Nevertheless, I feel that at the moment we should not discard the idea of directed migration for that reason. None of us, of course, wants compulsion. Since our resources of manpower and capital are extremely limited, however, since the demands upon our resources are very great, we must consider whether or not we should attempt to direct the flow of men and capital from this country in the interest of the Commonwealth as a whole.
There is no doubt—and I think the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations will probably agree 100 with me—that the present Bill is extremely limited. The Empire Settlement Act has worked out in practice to be a kind of Australia Settlement Act and not very much more.
We should discuss whether or not we want something more. I argue that we do because the world today is not the world that existed in 1922. The difference, of course, is that whereas our problems and responsibilities today are as great if not greater than they were then our resources are more limited, and for that reason we must husband them.
There are many other factors as well. Free movement within the Commonwealth is virtually impossible for exchange and other reasons. There are many limiting factors that did not exist in 1922. We are experiencing a chronic lack of balance between the trade of the old and the new worlds, and the demands on our heavy industries today are very great indeed, not only because of the re-armament programme but because of the ambitions and the hopes of new Commonwealth members who look to us to supply their economic needs.
We have accepted under the Colombo Plan very great responsibilities. Those responsibilities must be considered within the framework of our policy on the economic development of the Commonwealth as a whole; and we must not forget the political implications of population pressures in Asia and Europe.
We are facing problems of our own economic survival and the problems of Asia's economic development, which we must accept if Asian peoples are to march with us of the West. There is the problem created by the need to out-produce Russia and thus enable us to keep her in check and to help those people whose discontent might be utilised by her.
Our problems might seem daunting but we must face them and succeed in solving them. We are not alone. We must not forget that we have good and strong friends within the Commonwealth and outside and that they and we have resources which are the envy of the world. In fact the envy of the world of the resources which lie within the control of our economic system is so great that it could be dangerous to us.
If we are to succeed in our concept of the Colombo plan we must use to the 101 full the resources of the West. And the counter-part of the Colombo Plan is a Commonwealth development plan for the Commonwealth as a whole. In all this I feel that directed or guided migration has an important part to play. We have limited resources and therefore we must have priorities.
The old system of assisted passages and infiltration upon arrival is not sufficient. What we are succeeding in doing in Australia is to increase the urban population in that country and that urban population is now eating a proportion of the food that used to come here. We should attempt to concentrate our resources, shooting with a rifle, as it were, rather than with a sten gun.
We should think not in terms of pure economics but in terms of security economics. The weakness of this Bill is that it is a stop-gap. It will tide us over the next five years but it should be followed by a Commonwealth Development Bill in which migration is treated as one of the essential elements of Commonwealth development.
I agree that the subject of how much migration we can afford is extremely complex and difficult but that does not mean it is unimportant. I urge the Government to undertake a study of the implications of migration from this country to the Commonwealth as a whole. I hope that when the Government spokesman replies to the debate he will indicate to what extent this possibility of directed migration is being considered by the two committees the appointment of which was forecast by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his speech on the financial economic situation on 24th January.
The one committee, under the chairmanship of the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, is studying Commonwealth development. The other, under the chairmanship of the Minister of State for Economic Affairs, is studying problems surrounding sterling convertibility. I should very much appreciate it if the Government spokesman would indicate whether migration is one of the factors which is receiving consideration by those two committees.
On the question of sterling convertibility, I shall be grateful if I may be allowed to make a small digression and mention a subject which has already been referred to by my hon. Friend the Member 102 for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas). One of the least satisfactory facts in our relations with the rest of the Commonwealth is the fact that we are steadily being cut off from the development of Canada.
I have just seen a quotation from a Canadian newspaper, the "Toronto Globe and Mail," which points out that last year out of 194,000 immigrants to Canada only 32,000 came from the United Kingdom. I think that figure is worse than any which has been quoted so far.
§ Mr. Winterbottom
Yes, 17 per cent. This must be compared with 1914, when over 50 per cent. of the immigrants came from this country. The "Toronto Globe and Mail" is extremely concerned at this fact, and states:Many will ask whether this is the consequence of any particular plan or policy. If it is the policy of Ottawa to build up the country on the 'melting pot' system the people of Canada should know about it. If, on the other hand, the policy is to preserve the essential character of the Canadian people, then … the Minister of Immigration is clearly failing to carry it out.That is an important newspaper expressing that the British contribution to Canada's population is failing, and I urge upon the Government to take action to assist the Minister of Immigration in Canada to maintain the British element in Canada's population.
There is another point which we should not forget. The development of Canada's economic system is, from the Canadian point of view, inherently unhealthy. At the moment the development of Canada's vast natural resources is being undertaken by United States industry for its own purposes. The great American firms—steel, oil and so on—faced with the possibility of using up all their own natural resources, are turning to Canada to supply the raw materials that they require. Canada is simply becoming, for this reason, a sort of economic colony of America.
That is something which many Canadians do not like. They want a balanced industry of their own, and the only country to which they can turn to provide the flow of capital, men and techniques which will give her that balanced industry is this country. There is, I believe, in Saskatchewan a very considerable battle by the local Government to ensure that the natural gas of that 103 State should be developed by a British undertaking and not by and American one.
I think hon. Members will agree that it is most desirable that the vast untapped as those of the United States, should be developed in conjunction with this country. I hope that the Government spokesman will consider that.
I want to make a second point which has been touched on earlier by my right hon. Friend the former Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. If Her Majesty's Government are proposing to have a more positive policy on the subject of migration, as I hope they are, we must have one Minister responsible for migration as a whole.
There is a migration officer at the Commonwealth Relations Office. We want more than an officer; we want a department. We had one at the old Colonial Office—the Overseas Settlement Department of the Colonial Office—but that has died a natural death, and one officer has replaced it. We want a Minister who can co-ordinate the activities of other Departments, which must be concerned but which must not have anything to say in the making or control of policy.
In addition, I feel that the old Overseas Settlement Board should be reconstituted in some form or another. It died at the outbreak of war, or rather, it slept and it has never awakened again. I feel that some independent body watching development throughout the Commonwealth would produce valuable information for our use.
Further, many speakers have stressed the need for study and research into the exact limits of migration, and into what is really an optimum migration policy. The economics of migration are extremely complex, as anyone who has read the books on the subject will probably know. But I think a general answer could be reached fairly rapidly if careful study was given to the various factors concerned.
All of us agree that the receiving countries are grossly under-populated, but there is considerable divergence at home on the subject of what is actually an optimum population for this country. I hold the view that we are probably 104 over-populated, but there are various points of view on that subject. There is no doubt that study is necessary, and in the course of the Committee stage of this Bill my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln and I propose to move and Amendment enabling the Government to spend some of the money voted under the Empire Settlement Bill for the purposes of research. I think research is necessary, and a comparatively small sum should be available for it.
I have been concerned in some negotiations with the Nuffield Foundation for the purpose of obtaining money for research of this type, and indeed the Nuffield Foundation did agree in principle to a pilot study being carried out in an area of Australia, subject to the agreement of the Australian counterpart body. Unfortunately Australia's counterpart of the Nuffield Foundation did not agree to research taking place. I am certain if a certain amount money had been available from Government sources in this country to be added to the money put forward by the Nuffield Foundation, the scheme would have found favour and would have produced a very valuable piece of independent research into the possibilities of opening up an area of Australia.
There has also been considerable discussion on the possibilities of some sort of Commonwealth study of migration within the Commonwealth. I think the case against a Commonwealth conference on migration has been pretty strongly stated, but the Royal Commission on Population, whose Report has also been quoted, does come out in favour of a technical study of the optimum rate of migration.
Paragraph 343 of that Commission's Report says:It seems to us necessary to accept the fact that, assuming Great Britain's economic position does not deteriorate, the flow of emigrants from Great Britain, even if fertility in Great Britain were maintained at replacement level or a little over, is unlikely to be more than about a third of the number of immigrants which the other Commonwealth countries would need if they wanted to maintain even an annual rate of growth of 2 per cent.We could only provide a third of their needs. The Royal Commission urges that the problem presented should be studied jointly by the Government of Great Britain and other countries. I 105 think a study should take place, in spite of views expressed to the contrary, within the framework laid down by the Royal Commission on Population.
One further point arises. The Royal Commission points out that this country can provide only one-third of the migrants required by various members of the Commonwealth to develop their own resources to the full. For this reason I feel that we should turn to the surplus populations which exist in Western Europe to help us out of this dilemma. America grew and developed because she took in millions of people from Western Europe who were under-privileged and who wanted a wider life. Such people exist in Western Europe today and in the present situation they are a political liability, because discontented people are a breeding ground for Communism.
There are 8 million refugees in Western Germany who could very easily turn to some sort of national fuehrer. There are the excess population of Italy and Holland. There are many thousands of Czech refugees in Western Germany. Above all, there are the Maltese, who are our responsibility, and who are suffering very considerably from population pressure.
All these men are potentially useful citizens, and I feel that when the Government consider migration policy as a whole they should weigh up that proportion of these people we should bring into this country and into the Commonwealth as a whole, using them as an asset and causing them to cause being a liability. The machinery for helping them does exist, at the moment, in an extraordinary body known as the Provisional Inter-Governmental Committee for Migration, which is a sickly child of the old International Refugee Organisation. That is keeping alive the movement organisation and fleet of the I.R.O. but it is only a provisional organisation.
This year its budget is £10 million, of which America is paying £5 million. I urge Her Majesty's Government to make a substantial contribution to that body and try to create a permanent organisation in place of the existing provisional one. Our problem is that we have great responsibilities without the economic power we require to discharge them, and we must create that economic power by 106 developing the Commonwealth's resources as a whole.
We must put an end to the situation in which Canada's resources are being developed for the benefit of the United States, or such cases as that of the Blair Atholl coalfield, where the situation might arise that Australian coal is developed by the United States for the benefit of the Japanese. This situation can be altered only by the movement of machines, men and capital from this country. We have limited resources and for that reason I argue that we must concentrate those resources, and that directed migration must be the machinery by which we guide those resources to the end which will bring the greatest return.
§ 7.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Johnson (Manchester, Blackley)
I am very glad to have the opportunity of following the hon. Member for Nottingham, Central (Mr. Winter-bottom), because I should like to develop a little more what he said about settlement in Canada. I happen to know something of the great undeveloped resources of that country. Indeed, I should go so far as to say that British Columbia, in particular, in potentially one of the richest regions in the world and, what I think is so important to this debate, is one well suited for settlement by people of our own race.
The attitude of Canada towards immigration from this country is much more favourable today than it has sometimes been in the past; but Canada lacks capital as well as people, and the king of immigrants she wants are not only those who seek skilled or unskilled work for wages but people who will bring their money as well as their energy and use both for the development of the country. Many Canadians think that the most useful contribution the Treasury can make to Empire settlement is not so much by assisted passages as by allowing people to take more of their own money out of this country when they go to Canada to settle.
We all know that the present allowance is totally inadequate for anyone who wants to set up a business of his own, on however small a scale. My hon. And learned Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations has told us this afternoon that it is quite out of the question to increase this allowance; 107 we have not got enough dollars. But I am wondering whether we are spending our scarce dollars to the best advantage at the moment, and whether we are making enough effort to earn more dollars by increasing our trade with Canada.
As to the former point, it is a fact that between 1946 and 1951 emigrants to Canada took with them remittances to the extent of £27,300,000; but during that same period we spent £61,900,000 on American films, and I question the wisdom of that form of expenditure. If we take the question of sales to Canada, between 1947 and 1951 we sold machinery to Canada worth £36 million; but during that same period we sold to the Soviet Union, to Poland and Czechoslovakia, machinery worth £51 million. I wonder if that was a wise thing to do. I do not believe it was because we could not have got orders. I am very glad to say that in the last year—1951—the position has changed considerably. We have sold more machinery to Canada than at any other time and, at £13 million, our sales are double those to the other countries I mentioned. But could we not have done something about getting those orders earlier? I believe we could.
I suppose that the majority of people who want to settle in Canada are those with little or no capital of their own. What they are wondering is what are the chances of a job and a house when they get there. That the chances of a job are good is, I think, shown by a speech made last month by Mr. Winters, the Minister of Resources and Development in Canada. If I may quote two short sentences, he said:Records of production that have been achieved by the present programme of development of our national resources are merely a step along the way to realising our vast potential. Some of the most spectacular projects are still in what might be described as the tooling up stage as we lay solid foundations for the future.In British Columbia there is a colossal amount of development going on, some of it, I am very glad to say, by Canadian companies, although there is a good deal of American capital. If I may give one very striking example, there is the 500 million dollar Kittimat project of the Aluminium Company of Canada. Its purpose is to dam a very sizeable river, 108 reverse its course and send it through a 10 mile tunnel through a mountain, giving it a fall of 2,000 feet and so developing hydro-electric power which will operate what may well turn out to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, aluminium plants in the world.
I mention that because although there are only some 3,200 people working on the project in the tooling up stage, this little village of Kittimat—a little Indian village which no one had heard of two years ago—will be a town with some 50,000 inhabitants in a very short time. That is not in the least surprising when we reflect that hydro-electric power brought growth and development to the Pacific North-West of the United States which has enabled that region, a far smaller region than British Columbia, to absorb quite easily a million new inhabitants since 1940. I do not think there is any fear of a shortage of jobs. As for houses, although the position is undoubtedly difficult around the cities, that does not apply to anything like the same extent in the interior, where much the best opportunities exist for new and energetic settlers.
I recently conducted some correspondence with a Member of Parliament for the part of Canada in which I used to live, and perhaps I may quote a rather interesting sentence from a letter which he wrote to me. He said:It is plain to me that we could place white populations in the North-West regions of the Continent where there are the natural resources to support them. Obviously we should endeavour to bring in at least a majority from the British Isles.As the hon. Member for Nottingham, Central, so rightly pointed out, when be quoted from the "Toronto Globe and Star," this is not happening at the moment. Perhaps I may enlarge on his figures. During the four years between 1948 and 1951, in round figures, 110,000 emigrants went to Canada from the United Kingdom, 30,000 from the United States and 316,000 from other countries. I say nothing against people who go from Southern and Central and Northern Europe. They make very good settlers and they are very hard working people. I know many of them very well. But I wonder, and many Canadians wonder, whether they are so reliable at a time of crisis as people who come from British stock. Have they the same interest in 109 the difficulties and the dangers which beset the old country?
Turning to what we could do to help migration, I am inclined to agree with those who think that bilateral discussion is the better policy. We might see what each Dominion wants, what sort of people it wants, what sort of opportunities it would offer them, where it would put them; and we must insist on the Dominions taking family groups—people of all ages. I believe they are now thinking much more favourably along those lines in Canada.
The migration might fall under two headings. The first is settlement by the family, and here I repeat that they must be allowed to take more of their own money with them. Second, in connection with this, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) said, we must give a great deal more publicity to the scheme. People do not know anything like enough about what is offered, what are the opportunities, how they will go out there, and so on.
It is up to Her Majesty's Government to help them to get where they are needed, and it is very much up to the country or the province of their choice, to which they are going, to receive them and to see that they are given a full chance to make use of those opportunities which induced them to emigrate. We do not want people to come back here disgruntled and disappointed.
In the second category I would put the movement of factories or the starting of new factories by British firms. Here, I suggest, the first step would be to allow business men to go over to the Commonwealth country they choose, to allow them to examine the prospects on the spot, to choose a site for their factory, to make up their minds how much they want to invest and then to return and to put a proposition to the Governments concerned so that financial arrangements can be made. We might send out an advance party, as it were, to erect the factory, instal the machinery and perhaps start building the houses. They could be followed as soon as possible by those who were going to work there, and their families.
These schemes will all cost a great deal of money, but I believe that they will also be the means of our earning 110 a great deal more through increased exports, because I think those people who go from this country to their new country will want to use some of those goods to which they have been accustomed at home. They will create, in fact, a considerable demand for our goods and thereby greatly enlarge our export market.
For my part, I cannot understand why successive Governments have made such little use of the last two Acts. I believe it to be a fact that up to 1936 we spent only £6 million out of the £43½ million which had been authorised. I realise that in the inter-war years the Dominions had their difficulties. They had their unemployment. But that situation certainly does not exist today, and I believe that what may have been good enough in 1937 is nothing like good enough in 1952.
With all respect, and although I shall, naturally, support the Bill, this is really a miserable little Bill. It may be suggested that it is better than nothing, but I am not altogether sure that I agree. If we do not believe in Empire settlement, why authorise the Government to spend even £1½ million for the purpose? If we do believe in it, then let us stop playing about with the idea and get down to doing the job properly. I am quite sure that my hon. and learned Friend realises full well the immense importance of developing the resources of the Empire. He knows, as we all know, that the best way of doing it is with our own people and our own money.
I am sure he will not insist that this Bill is the best we can do, nor will he tell us that to a Government—any Government—which spends money, sometimes with a lavish hand, on prospects or for purposes of very doubtful value at home, £1½ million is all they can afford to settle the Empire. I appeal to him to see whether he can do better and to produce a bold and imaginative policy which is worthy of the great cause we seek to promote.
§ 7.18 p.m.
§ Mr. M. Follick (Loughborough)
I am very glad to have this opportunity of intervening in the debate because I have long taken an interest in this question of Imperial integration. I dislike terms like "Empire settlement plan," or "Empire migration," and for that reason I have coined the phrase "Imperial integration." 111 What we have to do is to integrate the Empire, to make the Empire a concern which interests all the nations, all the States, within it, equally.
I agree with what was said by the hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Mr. Langford-Holt) and the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Carson), and I entirely disagree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), because there is quite plainly an important strategic question involved in Imperial integration. In addition, and in spite of what has been said, I believe our Islands are overcrowded.
I have made several speeches on this question in the House. Indeed, I made two in 1947, and I then came to the conclusion which others have reached now—that if we were to reduce the population of these Islands to about 35 million by Imperial integration, we could feed that number of people from our own produce.
Equally, by encouraging people to integrate the Empire overseas, by sending our own stock overseas, we should be building up markets in those countries—reliable markets—for our industries. It is complementary because, after all is said and done, the Commonwealth nations are our only reliable markets overseas. There are other markets, such as the United States, which take our goods in a time of emergency, but when they find they can manufacture the goods themselves, then they put up tariffs to keep British goods out. We are having that trouble even now. With the Commonwealth we have a natural bond of relationship. That bond we have to develop. We have to make the Empire not a dependency of the United Kingdom but an integrated whole which includes the United Kingdom as well.
We have now approaching a population of 51 million in these islands, and our population is increasing at the rate of 250,000 a year, so that every four years our population goes up by a million.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
Is that correct? Today it is increasing by 250,000 every year, but that is a falling figure, and at the end of four years that increase will be very much less.
§ Mr. Follick
My hon. and learned Friend may know a lot about the law, 112 but does not appear to know much about arithmetic. If the population increases by 250,000 a year that increase is breeding as well, so the population goes on increasing; so at the end of four years the population is increased by a million and by the end of 10 years it is increased by 2,500,000. There will come a time when we cannot house or feed these people.
§ Mr. Donald Chapman (Birmingham, Northfield)
Surely my hon. Friend agrees with the Royal Commission on Population that the increase is not going to go on, and that the population will in fact have fallen after about 1965 or 1970?
§ Mr. Follick
I have never heard of an increasing population falling.
Before the First World War I had an opportunity of studying the question of immigration in Australia. As many hon. Members on both sides of the House have said here today, we have to publicise this question of migration much more than we do. Before the First World War the shipping companies advertised and publicised emigration to the different parts of the Empire, and they produced all sorts of beautiful pictures and attracted people to go out there.
In Australia, as the immigrants arrived, they were taken care of. There were no restrictions on Europeans except for health. Once one passed the health test one was accepted if one was a European. If one had not a job to go to, the Government of Australia, before the First World War, found a job at a minimum wage, so that one was taken care of from the very moment one landed.
That is not the case in Canada today. A family from Loughborough went to Canada on the Ontario Plan, and when they got there they were left to fend for themselves. That sort of thing will have to be altered. As people go in there will have to be committees to look after them, and to direct them not only to the places where they may be wanted but to the sorts of jobs they are capable of doing, and to take care of them. The head of this family from Loughborough was an engineer. He had been an engineer at the Brush works. He had passed his examinations at Loughborough college. The best job he could 113 get on landing, however, was as a piano-tuner. [Laughter.] There is no joke about this.
§ Mr. Baxter
I was in the piano business. Does the hon. Gentleman infer that an engineer can leave his bench and tune a piano?
§ Mr. Follick
The hon. Gentleman says he was in the piano business. He ought to know if he was in the piano business.
At the present moment, while we have this tremendous population in this country of over 50 million—approaching 51 million—we are exporting the things that we really need ourselves, in this country, in order to import the food and the raw products that we require. So the very things we need, we have to export to bring in our food.
By the policy of Imperial integration the population would be on a level which we could feed ourselves, and we should export our industrial products only after serving our own needs, because we should not have to bring and pay for such large quantities of food as we have to bring in, and pay for, at the present, and we should have markets for the industrial products within Imperial integration. Thus we should be raising the standard of living in those other countries and raising the standard of living in this country as well.
There has been the suggestion about taking populations in sections. I do not know that that is a very important question, because I have seen in the different parts of the world where I have been—and I know a good many parts of the Empire—the younger people, after they have arrived in their new country, bring in their sweethearts, get married, rear families, and then bring over their parents or their aunts and uncles, because the older people have a use in these new countries as well, for they look after the house, they look after the children, and they do the other jobs that the younger people do not want to do.
It is the natural thing for the younger people to bring out their relatives and their friends afterwards, to make their homes out there for good. If they do not do so, then, generally speaking, they are the ones who become disgruntled and return to this country, where they find the surroundings more congenial to them.
114 Another question was that of the selection of the kind of migrants wanted. Well, it does not make a lot of difference. I have noticed, especially in Sydney, that about 90 per cent. of the migrants remain in the large cities, and not a sufficient number go out on to the land. The peculiar thing is that it is the second generation—the generation which is born in Australia—that goes out on to the land.
If the migrants go to live in Australia, and population is thus got into the country, then their children and their grandchildren make the farmers and the woodsmen who are required.
§ Mr. Follick
It does apply to New Zealand. I cannot say to what extent it applies to Canada. One of my hon. Friends was wondering what was the proportion of land in Australia suitable for settlement. Well, Queensland alone could take 20 million inhabitants. Western Australia has a million square miles of territory—[An HON. MEMBER: "Desert."]—not desert. Western Australia has plenty of fertile land.
We are talking now only of a small proportion of people going from one part of the Empire to another, and they are not all going to Australia.
§ Mr. J. Johnson
If my hon. Friend will not accept my testimony, will he listen to a gentleman called Griffith Taylor, perhaps the finest geographer Australia has produced. We have just heard that Queensland alone, 80 per cent. of it north of the Tropic of Capricorn, could support some 20 million people. Griffith Taylor, as an Australian, sets the ultimate population for the whole of Australia, all its 3 million square miles, at not more than 22 to 25 million. Will my hon. Friend comment on that?
§ Mr. Follick
I have given my comment. I know Australia. I have written books on Australia which sell well in Australia.
§ Mr. Follick
When all these things are put together we see that there can be a valuable Imperial integration, which will be substantial in its results not only for this country but also for the whole world, 115 because we shall be an intermediate Power in the world, something between the United States and Russia, which is important. We shall be a balancing Power.
In order to get that we have to watch Australia with the greatest care. This is the reason why I disagree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker). It is of the greatest strategic importance that the population of Australia should increase rapidly. When I was first in Australia before the First World War there was great apprehension as a result of the war between Russia and Japan and the following Anglo-Japanese alliance. The Australians were afraid of what would happen to their country.
After that we had the increasing menace of Japan to Australia. In the last few months Mr. Casey has said that the ultimate destiny of Japan will be on the Asiatic mainland. But we shall then have not the menace of 60 million Japanese to Australia but the menace of 500 million Orientals looking at an empty Continent from their own overcrowded territory.
I believe that in the last war a Japanese submarine actually penetrated Sydney Harbour. We can guess what will happen unless something can be done to strengthen the population of Australia, and if we do not do that, Australia will have to turn to the United States for the protection which her own population cannot give her.
I disagree with what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) about not taking South Africa into consideration. Unless there is a fair amount of immigration into South Africa from this country there will be an overwhelming predominance of Boer influence there which will totally wipe out the whole of the British influence in South Africa and break one of the most important connecting links in Imperial integration. In influx into Rhodesia the Boers are two to one. There are whole villages in the southern part of Southern Rhodesia where not a word of English is spoken and only Afrikaans is heard. We must help to move populations for the sake of maintaining these countries as an integrated part of our own Imperial integration.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Lipton
Am I right in thinking that what my hon. Friend has just said does not apply in Northern Rhodesia?
§ Mr. Follick
That is true. Northern Rhodesia is a little further away from South Africa and the Boer influence.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
There is very considerable immigration into Northern Rhodesia, far more than into Southern Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Follick
I am merely stating that there are whole villages in Southern Rhodesia where one hears Afrikaans all the time and not a word of English. The language in the churches and the schools is Afrikaans.
When I first went out to Cape Town before the first World War not a word of Afrikaans was heard there, but today most people in Cape Town speak Afrikaans, and that is evidence of the spread of Boer influence. Our only way of counteracting that influence is by ensuring that the influx of people from this country becomes larger than it is at present.
These are the few matters that I wish to bring before the House today. We can maintain ourselves only by maintaining the Commonwealth and being a part of the whole. We must belong to the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth must belong to all of us. A permanent council—not a department or a Ministry, but a permanent council—ought to be set up to be continually in session studying the needs of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and distributing the population according to the offers and the needs.
It could have a session in this country and then move for another year to Toronto, another year to Sydney, another year to Dunedin or some other town in New Zealand and then another year to South Africa. Distances are not what they were before the first World War. In those days Sacramento, in California, was further from New York, in time, than Sydney is from London today.
Time has shortened distances and there is now nothing to prevent a permanent council being located year after year in different parts of the Empire. That would promote ideas and produce the necessary research, and it would also 117 make the interchange of population from one part of the Commonwealth to another much simpler to carry out.
§ 7.37 p.m.
§ Mr. W. T. Aitken (Bury St. Edmunds)
I feel a good deal more reassured at this stage of the debate than I did at the beginning. It is quite clear there has not been anything like the hysterical over-simplification of this very complex problem which one might have expected. I also take some comfort from the fact that my hon. and learned Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations seems to see no insuperable objections to the swelling numbers of Canadian immigrants into this House. I do not think that we can discuss this subject without referring to Canada.
I do not know, and I do not think that the wisest and best informed among us can really say for certain, how many people ought to leave this country or how many foreigners ought to come into it. All I know is that this country would be in a rather desperate position if the Commonwealth and the Empire did not exist. If we can do anything to increase the unity and economic strength of the Commonwealth we would benefit enormously. So the thing for which the Government can have no excuse whatever is inaction. When I read the Bill I felt it was as masterly a piece of inactivity as I have seen in that form, but I am a little more assured now.
I want to make one or two particular points about Canada. One hon. Member pointed out that about 17 per cent. of the 194,000 people who went into Canada last year were British. I think it is a great pity that, whatever limitation there may be on the numbers of people who are able to leave this country to go to the Dominions, one Dominion that does not really need such a large proportion of British immigrants should get much the largest proportion. Canada is vital to this country, because there we find a unique position. It is only an overnight journey from here and there are 3½ million square miles of it; and it is the largest in area of the Dominions with the highest standard of life of any country in the world, with the possible exception of the United States. But Canada is a country which offers more opportunities to Great Britain than any other of our 118 Dominions, particularly at the present time, because there we find an almost unlimited—unlimited within the terms we have been discussing this afternoon—capacity to absorb large numbers of British people. The dollar shortage is one of the principal obstacles to the immigration into Canada of people and industries.
I should like to speak for a moment of the most valuable kind of emigration that we can get today, and that is the migration of business and industry to Canada. The businessman who sets up in Canada earns dollars. He usually takes a proportion of his equipment from this country and when he sets up a selling organisation it often happens that he will not only sell his own line of goods but also several lines of goods from this country. His employees will often bring with them their wives and children, and sometimes the old folk as well. That is very good for Canada and very good for Great Britain.
The Treasury, I know, are co-operative and fully aware of the value of this kind of migration. It is the Board of Trade that is the biggest hazard, particularly for the small businessman who wants to set up in Canada. Some of these smaller businesses manage to find a good proportion of the finance that they need in Canada, and then they must come here to seek the approval of the Treasury and the Board of Trade to get the dollars, often a very small amount, that they need for equity in the enterprise which they are starting up.
I have been to Canada many times in the course of the last few years and one thing I am quite certain of is that there is a great opportunity for us to explore much more thoroughly than appears to have been done ways and means of getting more Canadian finances for industry that want to start up there. I have had some practical experience of how this can be done, and I believe that we might well find a very favourable reaction from certain lending institutions in Canada if they are approached in the right way.
Within the next decade ships from this country will be able to sail right into the heart of Canada. Every single mile of the long St. Lawrence waterway will benefit by this development. Most of the route passes through the richest, most thickly populated parts of Canada and 119 the United States. The proximity not only to markets but to a great variety of natural resources and the hydro-electric development which must go with it will make this whole area an industrialist's paradise. The Quebec and Labrador iron-ore project will result very soon in the United States having to buy most of the iron-ore supplies from those regions instead of in Minnesota, which, in the next 10 years, will be out of the more profitable runs of iron ore.
The oil pipeline has already been mentioned, but it should be noted that last year Canada was the biggest producer of oil in the Commonwealth, the second biggest producer of gold and will soon be the biggest producer of uranium. All these things will combine to strengthen the Canadian dollar and maintain it as one of the strongest currencies in the world. These are important things for us to consider, because the more we can investigate and attack the fundamental problem of how to get to know that country and assist in this unbelievable development the better it will be. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world.
§ Mr. J. Johnson
We have heard some nonsense talked on this side of the House about the future development and population of Australia. Will the hon. Gentleman tell us what, in his view, the optimum population of Canada will be in the next two or three decades?
§ Mr. Aitken
There are all sorts of speculations of anything between 50 million and 100 million. I do not know which is right and I do not know whether 10 million or 20 million people in Australia is right. All I know is that we ought to do something about it.
§ Mr. Aitken
At the moment they are well able to receive at least 200,000 a year; but I am not sure of the demographic position. That is clear from the figure of 194,000 for last year of new emigrants going into Canada. Constant study is going on. In Canada they 120 appear to be more interested in demographic problems than we in this country, and more serious research and investigation is going on there than anywhere else in the world. In the last few years I had an opportunity of visiting Australia, New Zealand, most of our Asiatic Colonies, India, Pakistan, South Africa and the Rhodesias and it seems to me that whatever we do or say about emigration we have to consider that from our point of view emigration from this country should be rather more selective a process than perhaps has been mentioned here today.
We ought to encourage as many people as we can to go to Canada for economic reasons and to Southern Rhodesia for political reasons, and perhaps not quite so many to Australia which can assimilate a larger number of foreigners. If we take this line the numbers that go become less important than where they go. It is much more important for them to go to a place which can benefit this country most and they will benefit themselves, too.
The Report of the Royal Commission on Population has been mentioned several times, and it is but right that it should be mentioned. Many of the problems with which we are concerned are set out there with great clarity. This Report indicates that if we could be certain that our export programme is not enough to produce the materials we need, then the question of the reduction of the population in this country becomes one of supreme relevance and the necessity will arise for planned emigration to the Dominions. The whole point is that we must plan and make our arrangements now.
I was glad to hear my hon. and learned Friend the Under-Secretary's statement about the Government's intention about encouraging emigration, and there are two points I should like to make. I shall be able to contain astonishment if the Government do not accept them right away. The first point I make is that we might well follow the wise example of Canada and Australia and appoint a Minister for Commonwealth Settlement and Development to work under the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. I say this for one particular reason, that if one Minister were responsible for the planning and controlling of 121 migration, both of industry and of people such a step would not only be warmly welcomed as an earnest of the Government's intentions but I think the Government themselves might be surprised to see how much importance would be attached to this Bill and how well it would be received in Canada and Australia. If we are to visualise the organisation of emigration on realistic lines it is not necessary to think of this in terms of getting up to 750,000 people out of this country a year, as has been mentioned. What matters is how we do it and where they go. Properly carried out, even 100,000 a year would produce desirable results.
I do not think that £1½ million is nearly enough. If we are to do this job as it should be done, we ought to talk in terms of £5 million. That is not an excessive figure in view of the importance of this kind of emigration to us all. Too often we think of migration in terms of assisted passages, but there is much more to it than that. It would not matter very much if such a sum were fully expended in one year or not, but its allocation, plus the appointment of a Minister, would be the clearest indication we could give to the Commonwealth that we really mean business.
Besides assisted migration there is the question of financial help to industry. All kinds of things can be done to help the small businessman who wants to set up in the Dominions, particularly in Canada. There is great scope for careful investigation by the Government into the possibilities of financing and starting businesses in Canada, perhaps with Canadian help.
The key to successful migration everywhere in the world is the provision of communications—I will refrain from using the controversial word "transport." The moment the railroad appears, the moment the roads are built, things start to happen—
Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hopkin Morris)
That is not a point of order. I do not know what the Patronage Secretary is doing.
§ Mr. Aitken
Reference has been made many times this afternoon to the question of cross-sections of the community in any migration scheme. We all agree upon that, but we must realise that cheap passages outward are not the only thing. I am certain that there would be a good psychological effect upon people who might be reluctant to leave this country if they knew that they could get a passage back at the same rate as the outward one. The knowledge that they could come back when they liked, would appeal to elderly people and might result in the settlement of a lot of non-productive people in some of the pleasant places of the Commonwealth as well as the Dominions. That is perhaps worth investigating when one remembers the enormous improvement in living and medical conditions in some of the more delightful places in the Empire.
I am only too conscious of the small amount of time we have been given this afternoon for this debate. I wish we had much more. I came along prepared to hold forth at some length on these matters, but I have thrown away about half of my speech. There are many things I should like to deal with but I will only say this: it is high time that the people in this House and outside stopped thinking of Great Britain as an island unto itself. We are the centre of a Commonwealth with the sea and the air as a highway to our own lands. Communications are so swift, far-reaching, universal and intimate that a community of destiny is inexorably forced on British people all over the world. Let us boldly choose our destiny while we still can, and let us see that there is a great going and coming and mixing up together to the lasting advantage of us all.
§ 7.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Donald Chapman (Birmingham, Northfield)
This is a subject which attracts a great deal of woolly thinking, woolly writing and woolly talking. I shall be bold enough to stir up controversy by saying that I have heard a lot of woolly talking in the Chamber on this subject this afternoon.
Apart from the question of the strategic dispersal of the Commonwealth, the problem involved in the Bill and in the Amendment is an economic one. At every turn this afternoon speakers ran up to the economic problem and then ran 123 right away from it. It happened in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas), and it happened even more in the speech of the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Carson). The economic problem is fundamental to the entire discussion; and it is the question of the economic future of the sterling area of which the Commonwealth is the greater part. So it is ridiculous to be talking all the sentiment we have had this afternoon without looking at the economic problem which is more basic.
Let me give two examples of things we have heard said in the House today. I am sorry the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet is not here now. He said that if we did not get on with the development of the Commonwealth, we should find American capital going in there. He spoke of that with horror. Yet one of the problems facing the Commonwealth today is that of attracting American capital, not freezing it out. Then my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln read, with obvious approval, a telegram suggesting that our textile industries should be taken out to Australia. Whatever good would that do? It would mean dislocation, the impossibility of housing them when they got there, and having to wait five years before seeing any results. Even then, what good would it do?
Let us look at the Australian position at the moment. My hon. Friend obviously had in mind the fact that the Australian Government have had to cut imports of goods from this country, and therefore he thought it would solve the problem if we sent the industries to that country. Nothing is further from the truth. Why is Australia cutting its imports from Great Britain? Mainly because the balance of payments position at present shows that it is not exporting enough to this country and to other members of the Commonwealth to have goods from us in return. If my hon. Friend would look up the facts, he would find that one big reason is the falling agricultural production in Australia.
A few days ago "The Times" had an article on Australian food supplies which said:Food production has remained almost at pre-war levels and vital industries such as wheat, meat, and butter production have all been heading for lower output, particularly at 124 a time when the seasons were, for the most part, favourable …It goes even further and says:The Government must play its part. Some things it can do are essential. More men must be placed on farms. No significant increase in production can be secure unless more labour is available.In other words, the problem affecting Australia and Britain in this context is that if Australia could export more agricultural production, we would be only too happy to send the textiles. But whatever good would it do to send the textile industry to Australia? It would not solve the problem in any way. It was a pure piece of sentiment. It would not help Australia to feed any more people; it can hardly feed its own population now. What Australia is needing is not a textile industry but people to develop its basic resources, such as food and raw materials. It does no good at all to speak in such sentimental terms.
I want to come to what I believe is the fundamental economic problem that we have to solve, partly through migration. We have to judge where it is best to have our population and to be producing goods. The usual idea about emigration to the Dominions is that if we could spread our population, and perhaps our industries, we should then have Britain not so vulnerable to movements in world trade.
It is said, for example, that because we have 50 million people here and are highly specialised, when there is a movement in world trade that affects other countries' imports of our goods, a highly concentrated population like ours will very easily suffer. This is not a problem just of Great Britain alone. It is a problem that faces the whole sterling area of which we are a part, and we must look at it in that context.
The main problem that will face us is not merely something on which we cannot put our finger; it is the movements in the United States economy. What we shall be facing in the next five, 10 or 20 years is the impact of the United States on the sterling area and the Commonwealth. As I said last November, if there is a slight movement in the American economy, we quite easily have a very deep recession, with a balance of payments crisis, in this country; we lose gold and are subject to the present kind of import cuts.
125 This is the question, therefore, I want to pose. What kind of migration do we need to help the sterling area to preserve its immunity from the movements in world trade, of which the United States will be the main source? That is the problem, and that is the only real reason for altering the present balance of population inside the Commonwealth. We need to know whether our policy will help us to meet our trading problems with the rest of the world. When that is analysed, it comes down to the problem of the American impact on the rest of the world and how we can adjust ourselves to it.
Let me give a few background facts before I say what effect this has upon our migration policy. The size of the United States can be judged by comparing its gross national product—its national income—with that of other countries. In 1938, for example, in comparison with the whole of Western Europe plus Canada—I do not have the figures for the sterling area—the size of the United States was about double. By 1951, it is three times as great. The gross national income of the United States is now 330 billion dollars, and that of Western Europe 104 billion dollars. By compound interest and at the present rates of expansion, the United States will soon have advanced to four time the size of Western Europe and Canada, and in the 1960s to five times, and even six times as great.
We have seen by our own unfortunate experiences the impact that the United States movements can have on the whole of the rest of the world. Take an American recession like the one which occurred in 1931. The result of that recession was that American imports from the sterling area dropped to 20 per cent. of their former level. The result of the 1938 recession in the United States was a fall to something like 50 per cent. of their imports from the sterling area. Even a minor recession like that of 1949, when there was a falling off in purchasing by the United States, meant a drop of 20 per cent. in purchases from the sterling area. That is the kind of impact that American movements can have upon us.
In 1950 and 1951, exactly the same thing happened. In 1950 we had a boom in the sterling area. Our products were selling at high prices as the result of post-Korean re-armament. We were reaping the advantages of devaluation and we 126 cut our dollar imports. It was a boom year for sterling's trading position. But in 1951 the reverse happened. The situation was reversed with the cessation of American stockpiling and the consequent slump in prices of sterling raw materials; then in addition we had a carry-over from 1950—a hangover, it might be called—of too high a volume of purchasing by the Australian Government, and by ourselves also, from the rest of the world. But the same lesson is present: that if there is a movement mainly in the American economy, we suffer very greatly indeed. In 1951, we lost £600 million worth of gold and we had to make the panic cuts in our imports.
In these circumstances, what is the temptation that faces us? Is it to say that what we have to do through migration policy in the British Commonwealth is to make it into a self-sufficient bloc in the rest of the world in order to isolate ourselves, to immunise ourselves, from American recession; that the whole essence of our migration policy should be to get ourselves into a full employment bloc as the sterling area, as the British Commonwealth, so that we are then quite immunised from these movements in the American economy. That would be the only justification we can see for the kind of migration that is talked about sentimentally on both sides of the House.
When hon. Members say that a high population in this country is too precarious, what is meant is that, at bottom, the problem facing us is to get ourselves in protection against movements in world trade that inflict themselves on this country from time to time with disastrous consequences. To take the argument to its next stage, I repeat that it means that we then have to envisage trying to make the sterling area immune from these movements.
That temptation is very strong indeed. It might mean that we have to start depopulating this country in such a way that we develop in the Commonwealth resources which will help to feed this country and to supply it with raw materials now bought outside the Commonwealth. On the other hand, we should be de-populating the country of industries which are mainly dependent on sales to the dollar area and areas where the fluctuations in trade would start.
What the sentimentalists are trying to tell us is that in effect we ought to cut 127 the numbers of textile workers here and send them to grow food in Australia, which would be the way of immunising the sterling area from movements in world trade; or that we should send highly productive workers of various kinds to Australia, Canada and New Zealand to produce basic raw materials—primary products—which we need and which the sterling area needs to develop for itself so that its economy can be complementary and less reliant upon outside countries.
To break down the problem in this way exposes how shallow are some of the thoughts which we hear expressed, because we really cannot envisage the kind of movements in population that are involved. It does not help to take a whole industry to Australia. It would only help us in our trading relationships in the world if we develop the kind of things which would make us independent of the dollar area.
In view of this, can we in fact, apart from the difficulties even of transferring the right sort of labour to do the right sort of production, try to make the British Commonwealth into a self-sufficient area, and is that a good thing to do? I do not think it is. I think that what we need at this stage of history is not what has been suggested this evening, an Empire conference on the problem, or an Empire economic conference which would embrace also the problem of migration and the best dispersal of population, but a Western conference on the whole subject. I am not enamoured of conferences generally; and perhaps the time is not yet ripe for such a particular conference.
The essential problem is to get American investors, privately or through their Government, sufficiently interested in coming into the sterling area so that we can develop the whole area together. Then it will be in the interests of American capital and the American nation as a whole to prevent slump situations hitting the sterling area at every stage. If we could have integration between the sterling area and the dollar area the United States would be keen to prevent the kind of recession which in 1949—a very minor one—hit us to the extent of a fall of 20 per cent. in purchases by the United States from the overseas sterling area.
128 I am sure that is the right way of going about it. If we can get the sort of economic study which will show how the Commonwealth is to be developed with American capital and partly with British capital, we can get an interest in the totality of the problem involved and match the effort to that kind of development. But to talk sentimentally in the meantime will not do any good at all. I do not think it would be any good to try to make the sterling area into a full employment bloc cutting off its trading relationship with the rest of the world, because that inevitably will involve us in cutting highly productive labour in industry in this country and sending it to produce, at a lower productive level, raw materials and food in order to make the whole area self-sufficient. In a sense, it would be suicidal and not helping our standard of living to increase at the rate at which it would increase if we could keep the benefits of specialisation we have built up in the British Isles.
I think this is all the more possible at this stage of history because of the political development of the Commonwealth which has been going on since 1945. None of this idea of a co-ordinated development of the Commonwealth and getting American interest in it could have been possible in, say, 1945, 1946, or 1947 for two reasons. The first reason is that at that time we did not even know whether the Commonwealth and the sterling area were likely to survive at all.
At the end of the war we were in a position in which it looked very likely that India and the Asiatic members of the Commonwealth would disappear. We had not had an Imperial conference for many years, and it was not until the historic occasion in May, 1946, that the present Leader of the Opposition called a meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers that we began to get this new form of British Commonwealth which is now more closely knit and more unified than ever we thought would emerge from the difficulties of the war.
Finally, of course, it was helped to survive by those very great statesmanlike decisions of freedom within the Commonwealth for India and Ceylon, and the freedom to leave the Commonwealth—but to remain associated—as in the case of Burma. We have assured the political survival of the Commonwealth which was in great doubt at the end of the war. Now 129 we are at a stage when we can begin to look at the problem of developing it further, and we have the political foundations to enable us to do so.
Secondly, we have come to the stage where the American Government and the American nation as a whole have over the past five years developed an extraordinary interest in making their resources available to the rest of the world for development. Nobody dreamed in 1945—and here I do not want to be guilty of exaggeration, because we want the American nation to go much further in its programmes, such as under Point Four—that we would have five years of extraordinary progress in American realisation of her obligations as the biggest nation in the world.
If we can now clinch the double advantage we have reached of a good political foundation of the Commonwealth and American interest in world development and treat the whole question in terms of economic development of the Commonwealth with American help, we can begin to get a migration pattern which suits economic facts and not just the sentiment that has been so glibly expressed in the House this afternoon.
If we do it that way we will be solving the main problem which I tried to pose at the beginning of my speech. My hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas), the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Carson) and the hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Mr. Langford-Holt) were employing the old argument, that automatic dispersal means automatic freedom from the risks of world trade. It does not mean anything of the sort if we are not solving the whole sterling area problem of the impact on it of the dollar area.
If we get American capital interested in this development and a Western diplomatic conference in which America is committed to help in the whole process of development, we shall be getting the dollar area anxious to be a stable factor in world economic affairs, and to that extent we shall be taking away the necessity for thinking of the sterling area as a full employment, isolated, immune bloc from the rest of the world.
I believe that is the underlying economic problem which is being skirted 130 throughout the whole debate, interesting although it has been. We have to face the really basic problem of what in the end will be the good or bad economic results of our policy, or to look at it the other way round, we have to decide what economic policy we are trying to achieve and then fit our migration policy to it.
In the meantime, I hope we can stop sentimental talk in this House and in the whole country and get down to economic discussions. The best job the British Government could do at this juncture is to have an economic study of the problem in its basic essentials and, at a later date—when we can get the dollar interest in the problem—have a Western economic conference so that we can see what is to be the future of the whole sterling area. Then, please, let us have a thoroughly good migration policy if—but only if—it fits the economic facts of the situation.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Archer Baldwin (Leominster)
The hon. Member for Northfield (Mr. Chapman) appears to think the whole of this debate has been based on sentiment. I consider the debate has been an excellent one, but not quite so forthcoming as it might have been. Neither my hon. and learned Friend nor the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) treated this problem with the urgency that many of us feel is due to it.
The hon. Member for Northfield talked about sentiment, but so far as I can see he was talking in terms of the 19th century. He seemed to think we were still in the age when all the world was waiting to send us food at something under the cost of production and was awaiting our manufactured goods in exchange.
The hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) spoke about the setting up of a cotton factory in Australia. That appeared to me to be a very true picture of what is happening. The Australians are producing cotton and they are not prepared to send their raw materials for us to process and to send back to them the processed article. If we do not go to some of these countries which have the raw material and process it on the spot someone else will, and our own factories will stand idle.
§ Mr. Chapman
Would not the hon. Member agree that the position I was endeavouring to outline as that Australia needs to grow food. Australia cannot feed her own population, let alone any more. How would it help either the population or the country to send textile workers to Australia? What Australia needs is people to develop her basic resources and food.
§ Mr. Baldwin
I think that the hon. Member is quite wrong. Australia can produce more food than she is producing at the present time, but is not prepared to send it to us in exchange for cotton materials which she herself can make. If we send out industries to these countries they will produce the food for the people.
We must have regard to our export trade which, although a record, is not sufficient to buy the food and raw material necessary to keep this country going; with the result that we are at present sending abroad gold to make up the balance. That cannot continue and the sooner this country faces up to the fact that we have to spread our population right throughout the Commonwealth the better it will be.
We cannot maintain 50 million people in this country. We have too many people at the moment planning the lives of other people, and not enough engaged in productive work. If we could take a couple of million people out of offices and put them into production it would be better for the country. When I see the underground railways spewing out crowds of people every morning I wonder whether one in every 20 will be doing a productive job. The sight horrifies me, and the sooner we wake up to the fact that we have to spread our population the better it will be.
I am not suggesting mass migration. I do not believe in that. I believe in planned migration and the Migration Council is endeavouring to bring that about. Out of a total population of about 74 million white people spread over seven million square miles of the British Commonwealth we have 50 million in this little country of 98,000 square miles, which is a completely unbalanced state of affairs.
Several hon. Members have put the position regarding Australia and Canada very fairly. I would say to the hon. Member for Northfield that it is wrong 132 to say that we are trying to set up a sterling bloc. The Government want to break down blocs so that we can get freedom of exchange, and trade freely one with another.
I wish to refer to a part of the world which has not been mentioned, East and Central Africa. There is a vast country which has mineral wealth almost equal to that of the United States, except in the case of oil. We have assumed a great responsibility for the African native. We have brought him along the road to civilisation and it is our duty to continue to take him along that road. He is increasing in numbers, his population is doubling every 25 years; and unless industry is further developed the African native will not be able to maintain himself on the land, and starvation will result.
I want to see the integration of all the African States and the development of the raw materials which exist there in such abundance. Such a policy will not only help the African, but will enable us to spread our population and to disperse some of our armament industry. We should remember that we are very vulnerable in the matter of industry as well as population.
We should take a lesson from the Russians and get our armament industry as far away from the sphere of the atom bomb as possible. There is nowhere better than the middle of Africa. I hope, therefore, that the Government will come out with something much more forthright than is represented by this Bill, which does not represent a sufficient answer to the problems of migration. If the Bill were shelved for 12 months and something better conceived during that time, I am sure that the Government would win the approval of hon. Members on both sides of the House.
We must spread out in the world, as our forefathers did before us. In the "Daily Telegraph" today I read of two boys from Stepney who had been existing in various London parks for something like a week. They collected empty bottles and sold them for sufficient to buy food for themselves. They slept in a lorry. Those boys were showing that spirit of enterprise and adventure which I believe is still in existence but is latent. I believe that that spirit will enable some of our young people to go out into the 133 world, if they get an opportunity, as their forefathers did before them.
I should like to see the Government set up some board similar to those created under the first Empire Settlement Act in order to make possible bilateral conversations with the countries which want to take our emigrants. That is a much better way of doing it than by having an Empire Council, on which the representative of every country has a different viewpoint. I therefore hope that some such board will be set up with power to get in touch with the receiving end—the countries which want our emigrants—and which will have the power to take the necessary action.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
Like so many hon. Members who enter this Chamber, I had, when I came in, no intention of speaking. I was impelled to do so by observing the Patronage Secretary patrolling the Benches on the other side asking people either not to speak at all or to speak quite briefly. I wish to speak quite briefly, bearing in mind, as always, the views of the Patronage Secretary.
I want to refer to some remarks made from both sides of the House, but more particularly from this side, and to say what I think about them. We have heard some talk about a newly-coined phrase—"Imperial integration." I would be much happier to see this question regarded as a two-way job, for after all. South Africa did give us H. G. Owen Smith as full back for our England rugby team.
I should prefer to talk of Commonwealth co-operation, and I should like to get away from this term "Imperial integration" or from the attitude of mind which regards this Bill as an Imperial settlement Bill. Why can it not be called a Commonwealth Settlement Bill? The Amendment which has been put forward speaks specifically, not of Northern or Southern Rhodesia and whether the people speak Afrikaans, but in geographical terms of New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
Reference has been made to the achievements of the Elizabethan age, and I hope we are now entering a similar Elizabethan age. At any rate, according to the hon. Member for Leominster 134 (Mr. Baldwin), we have many youngsters in Stepney who possess the same characteristics as Sir John Hawkins. In the former Elizabethan age, we had only seven million people on these islands living in an agricultural society, but, in the last two and a half or three centuries, we have become an advanced industrialised society and our population has increased.
I am now speaking only of the English-speaking peoples, which have now increased to 140 million. No other race has multiplied so much or so quickly, and this is the process which some person once described as "this Diaspora spreading about the world." I believe that its influence upon the world today and in the future will have more effect than the dispersion of the Jews in Biblical and medieval times. So we have seen all these changes occur.
If it is said that the chief exports of Norway and Scotland in the past have been their men and some of their women, because of the economic conditions in that bleak northern climate, our chief export in future will need to be not men, but families, and it is upon this new basis that people must go to the Commonwealth to populate the wide open spaces.
May I now say a word or two about these alleged wide open spaces, about keeping them open and whether they are so inviting an area for people from the United Kingdom to go to? I wish to pick up one or two of the woolly comments that have been made in the last hour or two. I heard—and I could not believe my own ears—the astonishing statement that Queensland could support 20 million people. Most of the area of Queensland is well within the tropics, and no Australian, such as Griffith Taylor their eminent geographer, would subscribe to that view.
I do beg of hon. Members, when it is intended we shall have a solid and valuable debate, to look at the Commonwealth as a whole and see where we can place people, without making comments of that kind. Again, I once asked for an optimum figure for the population of Canada. The Canadian Dominion has many waste areas of snow and pine, and, when it is suggested that an oil pipeline between the lakes of the East and 135 British Columbia in the West would provide an opportunity for Lancashire industrialists to invest their money, we really ought to have a look at the country which it would serve. Let us think carefully of the optimum population of areas of that kind, and do not let us talk glibly of the enormous spaces which are, so to speak, simply inviting people to go to them.
We have heard once or twice this evening that in Australia population is shifting from the bush towards the coast. The five capital cities of Australia contain over one-third of the population of that continent. Let us look at this matter sensibly and do not let us beguile or gull ourselves into believing that there are these potentialities. It has also been said that Australia's food output has been declining. It is important, therefore, that before sending people there we should give them a true picture of all the difficulties.
It is no good telling me that because in 1870 my grandfather went out to the Blue Mountains or to the Pacific seaboard, today I shall find it equally easy to go there. Since those days we in England have become a much more sophisticated urban society, and if we went to Australia many of us would not want to go to the upper waters of the Burdekin River or even beyond the Blue Mountains. Many of us would wish to stay in the cities and do the jobs which we have done in the past. Let us pick our settlers and our future pioneers in these Dominion territories with great care. I repeat, let us not give them a false picture of life overseas before they leave these shores.
Without wishing to be personal, I wish to take up a comment made by the hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Mr. Langford-Holt). He was speaking, I thought somewhat emotionally, about the question of populating specific areas of Australia, and he said that we should not "poison the thirsty horse." I take it that the horse to which he referred was Australia and that it was thirsty for population. I did not quite understand what he meant when he spoke about poisoning it.
§ Mr. Langford-Holt
I want, first of all, to make it perfectly clear that in no instance did I specifically refer to 136 Australia. What specific remarks I made in my speech were made about Canada. I was referring to the whole question. I said that these open spaces were thirsty for men, and I drew an analogy by saying that if they could not get the type of people they wanted they would have to accept what types they could get.
§ Mr. Johnson
I am glad the hon. Member has now got what I think is the correct view of the matter, which is that if we cannot send people to these Dominions ourselves we have no moral basis at all for denying entry to Western Europeans. I would go even further, and say that in those circumstances we have no moral basis for denying entry to people of any colour at all. Without going into the matter of the white-Australia policy, if we do not populate these Northern territories ourselves then I maintain we have no moral basis at all for denying entry to other people in our multi-racial Commonwealth about which we have heard so much from both sides of the House.
One word about the Commonwealth conference which has been suggested. I am not in favour of having such a conference for the consideration of this matter. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), I think it is fraught with many difficulties. In the case of Canada alone, there is a large bloc of French-speaking Canadians who might not, perhaps, see eye to eye with us on this matter of emigration to the Canadian Dominion. With regard to South Africa, there might be difficulties regarding how many went and who actually did go. Let us then not talk in high-sounding terms about Commonwealth conferences. We had them in 1931 and in other years. They begin with a lot of ballyhoo and lead in the end to nothing at all.
Let us have bilateral talks, without high-sounding publicity, between men who know their job. Let us talk with people on the spot. Let us ask how many immigrants they want, where they want them and what kind of Anglo-Saxons they want. Let us make a co-operative Commonwealth and not talk so much about integrating parts of the Empire into the hub or metropolitan centre over here.
137 I have been staggered by some of the figures given today. I was amazed to find that in 1931, for example, there were more people coming into the United Kingdom than were going out to the 25 million square miles that we and our kith and kin possess overseas. We need to populate those areas and those areas need our help, economic and otherwise, as we need theirs.
It is absolutely vital to peace that we populate those areas, whether they lie near monsoon Asia or whether they lie south of the Sahara desert near South Africa. We should populate these areas with Anglo-Saxons who have our ideas of what the future of the world should be. It is vital for the future of the world that peoples in Western Europe who have a high outlook and high moral basis for international dealing should go out to these lands beyond the seas.
§ 8.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacMillan (Western Isles)
If the right hon. and learned Gentleman will pardon me for intervening for a moment, I should like to say, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that no voice has been heard at all throughout the debate in opposition to the Amendment. I am at least one person who intended to speak, but no one who is opposed to the Amendment has had the opportunity.
Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hopkin Morris)
The Amendment was moved. I cannot say what is in the minds of hon. Members.
§ Mr. MacMillan
Before you came to the Chair, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I was told I would have an opportunity later on. Do I understand that the debate is not closed by the Minister?
There is no Closure Motion at all. I am merely calling upon the Minister to speak.
§ Sir W. Monckton
No one occupying my present position could complain of the tone and temper of this debate. Indeed, many who have spoken have emphasised that they desire to approach this problem as a Commonwealth problem and not on a party or partisan basis. Before I address myself to the Bill and the Amendment, I should like to 138 congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, East, and Christchurch (Mr. N. Nicolson)—the son of an old friend of mine and my master for some time when he was in Office—on this his first appearance in our debates.
As the House will have heard from my hon. and learned Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, the position in relation to this problem of migration is that during the 30 years of the operation of these Empire and Commonwealth Settlement Acts the policy of encouraging migration from the United Kingdom to the other Commonwealth countries has been constantly reaffirmed by the various Governments in power. That desire to encourage and assist inter-Commonwealth migration is still the policy of Her Majesty's Government today. As the House has heard from my hon. and learned Friend, from time to time, between 1930 and 1937 and during the Second World War, there have been periods during which it was impossible to give effect in any way to that policy. Indeed, the flow was not merely stayed but reversed. But the policy has remained the same, and is still so today.
I think one of the advantages of the debate and the very full discussion which has ranged over a wide field is that a great deal of publicity will be attracted to the importance of the subject of the discussion—and publicity, I hope, attracted to the determination of Her Majesty's Government to do their best to further this inter-Commonwealth migration.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
I do not think the right hon. and learned Gentleman should seek to leave that impression. So far, one of the sources from which migration has flowed freely in the past has been Scotland, and the point of view of Scotland, which does not accord exactly with what the Minister has just said, has not yet been expressed in this debate.
§ Sir W. Monckton
I think that so far as the debate has gone up to the present, it will be of advantage that publicity 139 should be given to the determination of Her Majesty's Government to which I have referred.
One word about the Bill itself. It has been treated as though it were something wholly insufficient. Of course, whatever may be the future course on which the Government's intent may carry them it is at least essential that these Acts which have been in force for 30 years should be carried on for this other five years. I think it was my hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury (Mr. Langford-Holt) who asked for figures about the five main receiving Commonwealth countries—Canada. New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Southern Rhodesia—and the trend of the figures. I think that if I took the last five years the gross figure would be more than 90,000 per annum and the net figure about 70,000. I have taken the years 1946 to 1951. If my hon. Friend wants further details I will give them to him; but at least the figures were not going down. They went up, if anything, during 1951. That is the general trend of migration during those five years.
It is not without interest to observe that net figure of 70,000, in the light of the figure of 100,000 to which the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) referred as the sort of figure which at the best we could hope to allow to go from this country. That, I think, is the objective to which he referred. I shall seek to show, as I come to deal with the suggestions relating to the optimum, that it would not be very helpful if I were to attempt now to give an optimum figure for this migration. I say that for this reason. In order to give one, quite apart from the necessity for study which has been obvious not only to the present Government but to its predecessor in office, there are so many assumptions which have to be made—assumptions about defence, the strategic position, trade and food.
Science does not stand still, and the problem of food in 50 years' time—and that is one of the periods which was mentioned—may differ greatly from the problem as we find it today. Therefore, rather than commit oneself to a policy involving, as one of my hon. Friends said, 10 million to 15 million, over a period of 50 years, I think it is better to adhere to the position as it is now and the facts as 140 we now know them. I shall endeavour to deal with them later on.
I have said how much migration—not all of it, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, under this Bill, but certainly under this Bill so far as Australia is concerned—has gone forward in these last years. The Amendment calls for a much larger and more imaginative scheme. I have said that I hesitate, in spite of all that I have heard, to commit myself to what the Government might now think will eventually prove to be desirable, because I think that would be trying to plan economy too much in the air.
If one is going to indulge in a migration scheme of the order of 10 million to 15 million persons, there are a great many questions which have to be posed and answered. There are vital problems; problems of defence and political problems—as to what line should be taken and what attitude can be taken about the future of this country if its population is dropped by 15 million. There are also the economic problems into which some hon. Members have gone in the course of the debate.
There are two such problems about which I should like to say a few words. The first is with regard to agriculture. It seems to me that one can over-simplify these problems and think of emigrants as though they are all consumers, and immigrants as though they are all producers. It is not as easy as that. If we did have a very large-scale system of emigration we should not be able to keep the same agricultural force as we have now. Even if it were assumed that we should be able to do so, although we should then no doubt be nearer feeding the population which remained and would not have to import so much for that purpose, we should still have to produce and export to obtain the raw materials which would still be needed for the industry in the country of the depleted population. So one must not over-simplify the problem by making the casual assumption that all emigrants are consumers and all immigrants are producers.
The second matter is that we already have our problem of an ageing population. When one has an ageing population it makes it all the more difficult to send overseas those sorts of men whom the receiving countries particularly want 141 —the skilled men and single workers in productive industry. That element of selection is a very important fact which must be taken into account in considering the possibilities for the future. If we postulate a very large-scale emigration, I would say that it is necessary to take into account the fact that the problem of taking a selection from an ageing population will be greatly accentuated.
I am only saying this in order to lay before the House the dangers which seem to me to lie in trying at too early a stage to lay down a plan as to exactly how many we mean to go in the changing circumstances of the years which lie before us. I do not intend to detain the House to any extent with the social aspect of the problem. We do not want to see towns left derelict because the population has gone away, and the amenities which we have been brought up to expect thrown away, without serious consideration.
Those are broad questions, and it is all to the good that they should have been discussed in this House. I can assure hon. Members who have taken part in the discussion that the views which they have expressed will be carefully considered in the appropriate quarters above my level; but I do not think it would be right that I should offer a cut and dried optimum figure for this discussion. I want to turn to the question of an energetic pursuit on the lines of present policy rather than turn aside to these rather uncertain figures for the future. First of all we have to see what are the facts of the immediate position.
As was pointed out by the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas), the problem of migration is not a matter for the United Kingdom alone, or any other unit in the family of the Commonwealth alone, but for the Commonwealth as a whole. It is a problem which is not to be decided by any one of us in isolation. What we have to do is to take into account the interests of the United Kingdom, the interests of the receiving countries and the interests of the migrants themselves. From my own point of view, I hope that I shall be forgiven if I say that one of the problems is that of manpower. I seek to approach the manpower element in the migration problem not from the narrow viewpoint of the United Kingdom 142 interest alone, but from that of the interest of the Commonwealth as a whole.
I have already mentioned the problem which arises through the desire of the receiving country to select. If we start by looking at the matter from the point of the United Kingdom, we should naturally expect the receiving country to try to get skilled men for preference. In the case of Australia, however—and here is the first concrete example of the advantages which flow from the powers under these Acts—under an agreement dated 1946 and renewed thereafter, it has been possible, by co-operation, to try to persuade them—and not without success, as the House will hear—to take a cross-section of the people when they take immigrants into Australia from this country.
Perhaps I may give the figures at this stage. Of course, if they said, "We want miners and only miners," or "We want skilled engineers only," we should be severely hurt by losing that very important element, of which we ourselves are short. Instead, this is what they have done. I have taken the figures from 16th May, 1951, to 29th February, 1952; and I find, if I may give round figures, that the number who sailed under the assisted scheme was just under 37,000. Of them, 13,900 were wage earners, so that their dependants accounted for nearly 23,000. That is a reasonable start to taking a fair cross-section.
But that is not all. These people were not all selected from particular trades. In fact, they were drawn from 163 different trades, and from none in excessive numbers, so that that example illustrates how, if we have the powers under the Bill and an agreement in pursuance of it, we have an opportunity in this country to influence the Dominions in the selection which they make. In fact, that selection has been fairly made.
There is one other aspect of this matter on which I should like to say a few words. I have said that we are short of skilled men, and I think our duty is not to look at the matter from the United Kingdom angle alone. If we did that we should say, "We do not want to let any of the skilled men go." But if we take the example of 100,000 workers—I am thinking of both skilled and unskilled workers—out of our 23,500,000 working population, and look at the 143 matter from the angle of the Commonwealth as a whole, this is what we see.
If they go to productive work in Australia, we can say that they will be an extra 100,000 in a working population of 3,500,000, so that the impact of that addition to the Dominion's strength is several times greater than the loss which we suffer here if we look at it from the angle of our total working population. I am not saying that that is the final, conclusive approach, but it shows the importance of the contribution which we can make to those who have a smaller working population.
Perhaps I may stop there in my remarks from the United Kingdom point of view, because I want to say a word or two, if I may, about the attitude of the receiving countries. If we are looking at all the facts, then in order to complete the study we should not overlook what are the difficulties in some of the receiving countries—and these are not matters for criticism but are largely inevitable. One of the difficulties in the case of Australia, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, is that they have a very acute housing shortage so that they cannot take an unlimited number of new immigrants. Secondly, they apprehend inflationary results if they have large-scale immigration at a time when their policy is disinflationary.
Those are two elements which create difficulties in the way of sending large numbers to Australia. Nevertheless, we find about 50,000 per annum going there in spite of the difficulties. We cannot send them faster than they can be absorbed economically into Australia. It is true that not only we but other people are sending migrants there, but that is due to the fact that the Dutch, for instance, or the Italians, who go there are agricultural workers, whilst we are not sending agricultural workers at present. So we should not expect all the migrants to be British. However, what I am pointing out is that 50,000 per annum are going, and that we cannot get them over there faster than they can be properly absorbed, but that, subject to these limitations, we do everything we can to encourage them, and I would tell the House a little of what we do to encourage and help migration.
§ Sir W. Monckton
It is the large numbers of immigrants that worries them. If large numbers of immigrants go in, the claim on the capital resources increases. That is the contention. It may be right or wrong. I am merely saying that that is one of the things they say. It creates difficulties for them if too many people go. But under these powers efforts really are made to encourage people to go, and I should like to tell the House a little—very shortly—of what is done in my own Department in this regard.
First of all, as to publicity. Australia House supplies leaflets and application forms which are taken to all the local offices of my Department throughout the country, and there displayed. Then there are tours which the representatives of Australia House undertake for recruitment and selection in the regions outside London, and those tours are arranged by the Ministry of Labour. I happen to have the 1950 figures here, and I find that there were 50 in that year—public tours, which meant that there were public meetings at which the prospects under the assisted passage scheme were explained; and there were selection tours at which individuals were interviewed on 1,444 days in that year—separate days in separate places—at 1,000 centres at which 12,900-odd applicants were interviewed and selected, apart from their women folk and dependants.
Of course, on the other side of the picture of the assistance which we are only too ready to give in the promotion of this migration—on the other side of the picture we are consulted in our turn about advertisements, so that they do not advertise for men of whom we are particularly short, and also about the areas of recruitment; for instance, in places where there is a shortage of miners they do not, by our persuasion, appeal to them to emigrate.
I suggest that what I have put before the House now shows that in the case of Australia, where the powers of this Act have been used, they are being energetically used to a proper purpose. It is quite true that it is the only Dominion, the only 145 part of the Commonwealth, in whose case these powers have been used. But I do not for a moment want to minimise the Government's appreciation of the importance of the potentialities of Canada, of which, indeed, I am very well aware; and we would do all we could, in combination with the Canadian authorities, to promote immigration into Canada from here, but there are difficulties, and one must face them as well as seeing the possibilities that lie in front of us.
Since 1951 the Canadian Government have been advancing loans to selected candidates drawn from the United Kingdom and Western Europe, but there are difficulties in this. First of all, there is the difficulty, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, about dollar liabilities which have to be incurred when we send people over there. But, perhaps, even more difficult still is the fact that the assisted scheme of which I am speaking applies to wage earners only, so that what they are trying to get, and are getting by this method, are wage earners and not their dependants over there. That creates considerable difficulties. It is a decision which they make for reasons which satisfy them, but it makes it difficult to get the cross-section principle applied in full. A selection rather than a cross-section results when the powers of the Act are not used.
The right hon. Gentleman said that one ought not to use pressure. I agree with that, but if one refrains from pressure it is very difficult to ensure that a fair cross-section is taken. One can try to persuade, but there is no method, as there is in the case where there is an agreement, by which one can do more than that. Both the Department and the Government are willing and anxious to co-operate with Canada. We know the potentials of Canada, but in the difficulties which exist at the moment we do not see a likelihood of very large numbers migrating there.
§ Mr. Carson
My right hon. and learned Friend seems to have left the subject of Australia. Does he propose to say a word about assisted passages to Australia and what Her Majesty's Government's proposals are for the future and what they will pay?
§ Sir W. Monckton
I certainly intended to do that. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that the figure of contribution 146 towards the assisted passage schemes had been reduced. All I can say to my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Carson) is that at the moment the actual figure is under discussion between the two Governments and no decision has been reached.
§ Mr. Carson
Can we have an assurance that there is no foundation for the rumour that the contribution of Her Majesty's Government is to be cut out altogether?
§ Sir W. Monckton
When I referred to "the figure," I meant that there will be a figure. I think that will satisfy my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
There is one other point about Canada and cross-section migration. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman seriously consider having discussions with the Canadian Government about the real importance of getting not a selective migration of this sort but a cross-section migration?
§ Sir W. Monckton
It is very much in the minds of the Government that every effort should be made, if possible, to obtain that by persuasion. I fully appreciate the importance of the matter.
§ Mr. Baxter
Before my right hon. and learned Friend leaves the subject of Canada, a country in which he should linger when he gets a chance, may I ask him if he intends to get in touch with the Canadian Government, especially the Finance Minister, about allowing migrants from here to take out their money? I assure my right hon. and learned Friend that the Government at Ottawa are ready to discuss that point.
§ Sir W. Monckton
I will certainly bring that matter to the notice of my noble Friend and also my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which is the best way to deal with it.
I just want to mention some of the other Dominions concerned, for we shall otherwise not have the facts about all the various receiving countries. New Zealand has not been mentioned a great deal. New Zealand has something like 9,000 immigrants a year. She is not a place which can absorb a large number of additional people. The selection is very carefully done, and New Zealand 147 does not feel able to contemplate taking more. She does not want to take middle-aged persons, so there is no question in this instance of large quantities.
Southern Rhodesia has been mentioned. I only wish to say about Southern Rhodesia that there are housing difficulties there, and at the moment there is the added difficulty that she does not feel able to encourage immediate additional migration because of her financial position and her efforts to defend the pound. Looking over the whole field, one can fairly say that there are practical and real limitations which will have to be taken into account when one gets towards the stage of working out at any one moment an optimum figure.
The hon. Member for Nottingham, Central (Mr. Ian Winterbottom), asked whether directed immigration was before the two committees of which he spoke. I will get him fuller information about this. I understand that it is not directly before them but that it will come before them in the course of their work. If I find any more information I will let him have it.
There was mention of a Dominion conference or bilateral talks, and a number of those interested in this matter take the view that there is much to be said, as I see there is, for bilateral talks. They avoid a great deal of difficulty and embarrassment. My noble Friend, the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations will engage in such talks when the opportunity offers. I was asked about a Minister for Emigration, and the House will appreciate that I can hardly answer that one. The suggestion has been made and no doubt it will be observed in other more important quarters.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick asked me a question about statistics, of which I appreciate the importance. He did not expect me to deal with it here and now, but I will not overlook the importance of the distinction between emigrants by air and emigrants by sea.
I have sought to cover in a short compass the practical matters which ought to be taken into account by anyone who tries to deal with this matter. I suggest that I have shown enough to encourage the House to feel that the Bill ought to 148 go forward and that there is no need for the Amendment. Without indulging in the sentiment which has been decried by one or two hon. Members, I appreciate that a great deal of the strength and solidarity of the British Commonwealth has been due to large-scale emmigration in earlier centuries, and the sense of unity which has come from the common stock is something which seems to me to be of great importance.
I recommend this Bill to the House, because although modest it is a real contribution and a realistic approach to the whole problem and it enables one to carry forward the idea and the intention that a steady stream of emigrants should be maintained, and that every opportunity which offers for increasing the flow of that stream should be taken. I can assure the House that in my Ministry we shall go on with our contacts with any of the Commonwealth countries which choose to work with us, and I am sure that upon a different level my noble Friend will take the same course. I can only say that I am grateful to the House for the suggestions that have been made, and if I have not replied to them individually I shall not overlook them.
§ 9.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacMillan (Western Isles)
I should like to say a few words on the other side of the argument. The Minister has satisfied a good many of the points of objection which I should have put against the Amendment. I feel we are always in danger of discussing emigration, especially the emigration contemplated in the Amendment, in something of a panic atmosphere as seen against the rising tide of unemployment. It is certainly an emotional atmosphere. In times of full employment the question of mass emigration is not taken up with such enthusiasm in the House, but only when unemployment begins to increase. I feel that the advice to emigrate is something of a counsel of despair, with which I am glad the Minister shows no too eager signs of associating himself.
§ Mr. de Freitas
One of the points I tried to make clear—and I hope I succeeded—was that I was looking at emigration as a method of helping the Dominions to develop, and was not concerned in any way with the points that my hon. Friend has in mind. I mention 149 that to make it quite clear that there are many who advocate emigration for reasons other than those which he has stated.
§ Mr. MacMillan
I appreciate the motives of my hon. Friend. I was not suggesting that he personally was guilty of advocating it purely from the point of view I have mentioned. Indeed, I have never heard it advocated as a substitute for a full employment policy from this side of the House. But I must say that I have felt the emotional atmosphere in which emigration is being related directly to heavy unemployment, for the solution of which there is no policy.
Because of past experience under Tory Governments, not only is my constituency opposed to emigration historically, but I have myself during the last 16 or 17 years in this House, on the occasions when emigration has been discussed, found myself almost instinctively opposed to it—to some extent, I confess, emotionally because of the experience of my constituents during the years of unemployment and forced emigration.
We are suffering from severe, prolonged unemployment in that area now. I know that the Minister is concerned about it, but he is also concerned about bigger problems in the rest of the country. I do not expect him to give more attention to my constituency than to any other, but I do expect him to give equal attention to it, especially when that unemployment is to a large degree in a textile producing industry.
With full employment in this country emigration has been almost irrelevant, at least, short term, and it is in the atmosphere of rising unemployment that people begin to offer this counsel of despair and think of mass emigration as the solution as it were in advance of a greater measure of unemployment than has yet, fortunately, hit this country, a sort of evasive action.
§ Mr. Langford-Holt
Will the hon. Gentleman excuse me for interrupting? Having moved the Amendment, I think I am entitled to make the comment that I drew the attention of the House to the fact that I myself, and, I hoped, others, would avoid using the phrase "mass emigration."
§ Mr. MacMillan
The hon. Member may have sought to avoid it, but it was 150 obviously in the minds of hon. Members who have spoken today. We can agree to differ even on the interpretation of his Amendment; but I must pay attention to the speeches of hon. Members who referred to mass emigration. Who are the people who are expected to emigrate? It is an extremely important thing to know. I do not think that the comfortable citizens of the country are expected to emigrate. There is no particular inducement for them to do so unless they will be even more comfortable somewhere else. I do not think that the average skilled worker in a good job, with prospects of security, is likely to be induced to leave that job and the security he has been enjoying, in the last few years, possibly for the first time in his life.
Therefore to whom are we to turn to find our emigrants, especially on a large scale? It comes down to the people who are not enjoying a decent standard either of security in employment or living. Though the Minister did not say he was prepared to introduce any large scale short-term plan, we are entitled to know where people are to be drawn from, how the selection is to be made, and what the inducements are to be once planned migration is undertaken as proposed.
The question arises not only what is the optimum for Canada, Australia and New Zealand but, also, what is the optimum for this country. The Minister was right in saying that because this is a country with an ageing population, there is an increasing liability for the maintenance of a pensionable population. We shall be faced not only with that problem, but we shall have added to it another one if we withdraw the people who could be providing both the reproduction of the population and the increased production of consumer and other goods, especially as labour wastage, owing to increasingly ageing character of the population, grows. It is an immense problem and a very difficult one.
One of my hon. Friends spoke about avoiding sentimentality and of getting down to the purely economic aspects of the subject. But one simply cannot do that with emigration. In the last analysis, emigration is an intimate, personal, human thing—even a sentimental thing, if you like. It is immediately 151 associated with the whole psychological background and the nature and environment of every person affected. My experience of emigrants, in the main, is that they are usually reluctant people, not by any means always drawn by incentives, but driven by hardships and lack of prospects, to a hopeful Utopia somewhere else.
In the main, those are the people who are to be expected to contribute to this stream—some hon. Members hoped for an ever-increasing stream—of emigration. There are some at least in the House who must be visualising more and more people becoming more and more discontented in this country and more willing and ready to break all these associations from their native environment—their jobs, their homes and the people around them—and to go off because there is no prospect for them in this country.
There is a danger from mass emigration in certain areas of the country more than in others. If emigration were not planned, if we embarked on it in present circumstances or as a possible anticipation of a greater unemployment problem than that which is now arising, we would land ourselves in very great difficulty from the strategic, the economic, the social and every point of view. At present we have already with us the evil effects of the depletion of population from certain regions of the country, including the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. The effects in these areas are far more acute than in the rest of Britain simply because emigration was greater in proportion to population and at all times that from any other part of Great Britain.
The people were driven out by two things: the direct action of the landlords, with evictions and all the rest, and, second, the lack of prospects and a low standard of living which made almost any job anywhere throughout the world attractive for them away from the desperate poverty of their own country. These are poor incentives indeed and, surely, it is the wrong method of encouraging emigration. I am alarmed at the prospects of having a mass egress from my constituency and from many parts of the Highlands and Islands. New Zealand, particularly, and to a large extent Australia and Canada, obviously 152 prefer the people who are most likely to be most useful to them in the productive work that they accomplish: in other words, they are carefully selective of our younger and most skilled men and women.
We know something of the mobility of labour problems of this country and we know more as it goes on about the psychological difficulties and the physical difficulties, such as housing and the rest, connected with the mobility of labour. Probably no industrial population is more reluctant in this mobility than Great Britain. It may be because its people are more conservative in outlook and for many other reasons—I am not talking politically; they showed at the last Election that they were not; and they will show it increasingly as time goes on. But they are more reluctant than are the people in the United States, which have a heterogeneous population which is drawn from all parts of the world; and traditionally mobile. Here, we have a largely homogeneous population which has its own certain ways set through the centuries.
The mobility of labour is directly affected by this reluctance, as the Minister of Labour will know at the cost of a good many headaches at this time of diversion of labour from less essential industries to the more important ones from the point of view of exports and armaments production.
I happen to be the Chairman of a Government body known as the Highlands and Islands Advisory Panel. It is drawn from Members on all sides of the House and includes representatives of the seven Highland county councils and other bodies in Scotland. One of our chief problems is to prevent any further de-population of the Highlands and Islands, not only to sustain the population and especially to keep the young, but to bring in new blood and new industries to sustain them.
I see that the Secretary of State for Scotland, who is directly connected with this work and the problem of the Highlands and Islands, is here today. He must personally, and I know will immediately, acknowledge that one of the main problems we face in the Highlands and Islands is the problem of de-population and the increasingly ageing population. The 153 views and needs of an area like mine simply could not be represented except by opposition to this proposal and to any migration on a large scale. But we cannot be so parochial as not to recognise that, in greater or lesser degree, the same problem and the dangers connected with it affects the whole country.
I am very concerned with the danger of making emigration a substitute for a solution for unemployment, for, after all, we have to consider how far it lies within our power through policy and planning to overcome unemployment. We must try to probe how far present factors causing unemployment and tending to make emigration popular with some people opposite are permanent or caused by world factors outside; and to what extent they can be cured by a change of policy here. I hope that decisions will not be taken in panic, emotionally, or in fear of rising unemployment and result in mass emigration, when we know that that unemployment is caused by various policy moves by the Government.
While the Highlands and Islands have sent men and women to Canada, Australia, the United States and many parts of the world and while many have done well there, yet they have always gone reluctantly and as the last possible recourse. They would not go if they could help it. If 10 Highlanders go to Glasgow the first thing they do is to get together as 10 Highlanders acheing to have someone who can speak Gaelic. It is one of the extraordinary things that one of the results of that very clanishness and reluctance to leave their own homes is that, rather than be separated by going by ones and twos to Glasgow, or Edinburgh—my hon. Friend says "perhaps Edinburgh is not so bad"—they go in colonies to Canada or Australia.
But while that is the case there is also a deep reluctance and they prefer far, if possible at all, to stay at home. Half the songs of the Western Isles are songs about eviction, exile and separation from their native land and I believe the people in those areas will be more resistant to the idea of using migration to solve the problem of unemployment and a low standard of living—a problem caused by Government neglect by this and previous Governments in past generations—than anyone else in this country.
§ 9.29 p.m.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
I want to say how appalled I am at some of the speeches made today, particularly by hon. Members who have been supporting the Amendment. While it is all very well for hon. Members to say that they are not pleading for mass emigration anyone who, on reading the Amendment, suggests that mass emigration is something we just dreamed of had better pay attention to what it puts forward. People who take the attitude that mass emigration should be encouraged at present have both feet firmly implanted in the clouds. We get the Minister of Labour pleading for aged workers to delay their retirement, because every man is needed to work for the welfare of this country, which, I suppose, is still the heart of the Empire. Then, next, we find hon. Gentlemen, who probably applauded the Minister, suggesting that what we need is mass migration, in the words of the Amendmentto take imaginative and decisive measuresin order that a smaller population should be able to be supported by the food supplies of this country.
I do not wish anyone to imagine that as a Scot, I am entirely opposed to migration. My hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles (Mr. M. MacMillan) desired to make the point, and I wish to underline it, that Scots have in the past resorted to migration. If I took up any completely opposing side I would be opposing the national bard of Scotland who rushed to the defence of Scots who wished to migrate in probably one of the greatest satires ever written, "Address of Beelzebub," to Lord Glengarry:They and be d—d! what right hae theyTo meat or sleep, or light o' day!Far less to riches, pow'r, or freedom,But what your lordship likes to gie them?The problem that was more or less the beginning of emigration in Scotland was the pursuit of freedom, the pursuit of the right to live which was denied them in this country. I am surprised my hon. Friend did not develop the point about how the Highlands were cleared and how those people about whom my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) spoke so nobly, how that export of men from Scotland was achieved. It was a very reluctant export. We may go to New Zealand, Canada or Australia, and probably throughout the world, and find 155 that the Scottish accents of the descendants of those Scots is still as broad as ever. I think there are as many people of Scottish descent outside the country as inside Scotland.
§ Mr. Ross
That is probably why London prospers.
There may yet be in Scotland and in England people who are restless and call for adventure. In opposing not only this Amendment but this Bill I do not suggest that the bar should be put up against these people. But I do object to the suggestion that there should be encouragement, exhortation and even planning for them to emigrate to the Colonies.
When we talk about the wide open spaces of Canada and Australia let us remember the problems of the Secretary of State for Scotland. There are wide open spaces in Scotland which have been created by the forced emigration of Scotsmen. If we want to find deserted villages, and clachans which once supported men, instead of spending £25 on a trip to the Continent we should spend it on touring through the Highlands of Scotland.
If one goes to Scotland, one will come to the silent glens, the glens of memory. This is the time to re-people these glens. The work has already been started; only in the past five years have we been able to stay the population drift from Scotland. This is no time for a new mass emigration scheme for the very people we need in Scotland, because we should remember that the people that are wanted in the Colonies and the Dominions are the very people whom we can least afford to send. The Colonies and Dominions do not want the aged and infirm. Are we in Scotland, then, with a population already unbalanced because of past migration, to be left with a still further ageing population because of the desire of some people to boost Colonial and Empire migration at the present time?
This Bill suggests that we can spend up to £1,500,000 a year on developing emigration. I would rather see that £1,500,000 spent in getting some of the Scots back into Scotland, and particularly into the Highlands of Scotland. I should like to persuade the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), whose 156 interest in the Highlands we all know, to emigrate.
§ Mr. Gerald Nabarro (Kidderminster)
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I devote a substantial part of my limited income to going to the Highlands for a holiday every year?
§ Mr. Ross
I hope that the next time the hon. Gentleman goes into Scotland, he will not make plain that he is the hon. Member for Kidderminster who objected so much to the hydro-electric scheme, or he might find himself rather unwelcome in certain parts of the Highlands.
I hope that the people who have been suggesting this migration will think again. Much as I dislike the Amendment, I also dislike the Bill, but the approach of the Minister of Labour was eminently sensible. After all, he is the man who is faced with the task of finding the manpower for all the innumerable industries of the day, and the suggestion that has been put forward about an imaginative and large-scale scheme will not help in the slightest. Let us forget all the suggestions about a Minister for Migration, and let those people who have been attending to this problem attend a little more to the possibilities of building up the food supplies of Britain in Britain itself.
I am perfectly sure that the Secretary of State for Scotland wants to see beef production being developed in the Highlands of Scotland. Surely we do not need the Americans to do that for us, or even the Canadians, as some have been suggesting. Let us develop all the resources we have in our own country for our own country first. This is not just charity beginning at home, but essential work which must be done here in this country. Scotland offers a particular example of the way in which money can be well spent and in which imaginative and decisive schemes applied to the Highlands of Scotland might well be put into operation.
We have made a start with hydroelectricity. The power is there, and the wealth is there in the form of the land. All that is needed is the organisation and power of the State to develop, if private industry will not develop, the latent resources of the Highlands of Scotland.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.157
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
I think the Minister of Labour deflated a great deal of hot air which is so often talked upon this subject. One so often finds when emigration is mentioned a passionate desire to depopulate these islands, a desire based upon that curious idea which I think the right hon. Gentleman expressed extremely well, that all emigrants are consumers and all immigrants are producers.
We talk about over-population. What in the world does over-population mean? Humanity lives in groups. As against the neighbouring field, the local village is over-populated, and so it is in the world. Here we have a population of some 50 odd million, and this country provides better and more comfortable conditions in which to live for that 50 odd million than is provided almost anywhere else in the world. Why, therefore, should we talk of there being over-population in this country?
It used often to be said that emigration was the cure for unemployment. That is an old fallacy, but this time it is in reverse. Everybody who emigrates leaves vacant a job for somebody else to fill, but in the context of unemployment everybody forgets the emigrant's function as a consumer and his function as somebody who creates a job for other people. I think that was brought home very forcibly during the fuel crisis. There were not enough people in the mines with the result that there was not enough coal, and therefore the whole industry of the country came to a standstill for a time.
Remembering that, I think we ought to realise that we do not solve unemployment by reducing our population. In fact, each person who is here is creating jobs for other people. Again, emigration is suggested as a solution for the housing problem. The one thing which is absolutely certain is that everybody who emigrates from this country emigrates from a country with more houses to a country with less houses, because this country has more houses per head of the population than any other country in the world with, I think, the doubtful exception of Sweden, which is not generally discussed in connection with emigration schemes.
158 Again, there is the suggestion that we need a vast emigration policy for strategic reasons. This seems to me to be one of the quaintest reasons of all to be advanced, because what happens if we go to war? The very first thing we do is to put every bit of transport we have into action to bring more people here. More men and women are always wanted in this country in the event of war. The assumption that in war-time most of our people are not even worth their keep seems, in a sense, the maddest point of view. I do not think it works out that way. Indeed, all experience shows that in war-time there is a more tremendous need for the services of everybody even than in peacetime. Therefore, the idea that for strategic reasons one should reduce populations seems to me to be certainly contrary to any experience.
Over and above all this, one has also to consider the problem of an ageing population. I congratulate the Minister upon one of the most satisfactory aspects of the scheme covered by this Bill—that it has not been exclusively concerned with the export of the most desirably aged groups. It has been concerned with a cross-section of the population, though that has not been a perfect cross-section and it never will be.
Any large-scale emigration would always tend to leave more old people behind and take more young people away if only because it is the younger people who are less set in their ways and who have the inclination to emigrate. Therefore, any emigration standing by itself must aggravate the problem created by an ageing population.
There is also the question which the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Minister of Labour did not deal with at any length—the dislocation of an industrial economic organisation which has been designed for an existing population if one suddenly reduces that population, a dislocation the ramifications of which are difficult to anticipate precisely but which one can well imagine. Again one has to consider this matter not merely from the point of view of Britain, which is the giving end, but from the point of view of the Dominion, which is the receiving end.
The bland assumption is always made that here are vast areas waiting to be 159 occupied and developed and that here, if only people could go out, are a great many new acres which will come into production. That is a form of thinking which, if I may put it that way, we learned a little better of as a result of the groundnuts scheme. The idea is that one looks at a map and one sees a large bit of red and one says, "That is splendid, look how big this is, quite as big as Britain and therefore it can grow as much as Britain does. It can produce as much as Britain does if only we can get the people there." But that does not work out in practice.
There may be 100 or 1,000 acres available for a man in Central Australia, but that 100 or 1,000 acres very often do not provide him with as good a living as half an acre would do in England. One has to consider not merely housing and industrial equipment available for him to work the land, but the actual growing capacity of the land itself. In many of these areas that growing capacity has been greatly exaggerated. We are all developed by our environment. We are most suited in the environment where we have been developed, and to assume that any man will be not merely as useful but more useful in a new environment, with new techniques, new companions, new ways and habits, seems to me to be an assumption which is difficult to support. None the less I support this Bill, and I believe that in spite of all these elements, an emigration policy is highly important for this country, but I believe that it must be combined with an immigration policy into this country.
Today we are faced with the problem of the expelees in Germany, and I believe that this is the gravest of all the problems which face Europe today. There are some 6 million to 7 million people who are genuinely surplus population, people who are in an area where they are not provided with the opportunity of making a living for themselves, people with a desperate desire to return to their homes, that desperate desire being one which can only be achieved in war. Where we have 6 million or 7 million virile, capable people with a vested interest in the prospect of war, that is a danger in any community, and I believe that the peace of Europe depends very largely on our providing a solution for those 6 million or 7 million expelees at present in Germany.
160 The various nations—Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada—are areas with populations relatively small compared with ours. Any number of people who emigrate to them represent a far higher proportion of the population in their new homes than they do in England. That is what we have got to consider. I think that we should release restrictions upon people coming into this country and that we should provide more homes for these people who desperately need homes.
I believe that a successful community requires some circulation of population. Constantly in our history we have received into our population foreign emigrants, and every time we have profited from their arrival. There are the Huguenots, the Flemish weavers and the Normans. I believe we are already profiting from the arrival of the Balts whom we received after the last war. I believe this sort of policy should be continued, and I think also that it is an aspect of full employment.
I do not know whether hon. Members opposite still believe in full employment; they seem at times to be a little doubtful about it, but if we believe in full employment then we necessarily believe that every man shall have a choice of job, and if every man has a choice of job the result will be that there will always be some jobs which not enough people choose. That has already been our experience. We shall not solve that problem merely by raising the wages of the most unpleasant jobs. As one's system becomes more successful there will be a greater tendency for people to adopt the attitude that there are jobs which they will not take at any price.
The problem can only be solved by bringing into the community people from areas less fortunate than these islands—people who will be pleased to come and form part of our community—on condition that they enter into certain undermanned industries for a certain number of years. We have had that experience already. The trade unions will have gradually to bring their members to accept that fact, and the fact that a full employment policy will only be operated upon the basis of an immigration at one end and an emigration at the other. We shall have done much for the peace of the world; we shall have done much for many desperately unhappy frustrated 161 lives; we shall have done much for human happiness, and I think we shall have done much for our own community as well, if we can help to solve the problem of the expelees, which is both a threat and a blight to Europe.
Here we have an opportunity. The International Governmental Committee has been formed. It has taken over I.R.O. If I may have the attention of the Minister for a moment I should like to ask him this question: What subscription are we going to make to the International Governmental Committee, whose purpose it is to deal with these expelees? Can the Minister give an answer? The Committee's budget at present is £10 million. The Americans have provided half of that. What are we going to do about it? Here is the problem of the disposal of these homeless people, which is a vital problem for us. Are we only going to get a sneer from the Minister? This is a question of vital importance. What are we going to do about this?
I am ready to give way at any moment if the Minister will reply. Are we not to get any sort of reply to this question? Does the Minister regard this problem as a trifling one? Does he regard it as irrelevant to the purposes of this Bill? Is it not vital to the purposes of this Bill? Or does the Patronage Secretary's imposition of silence apply to his Ministers as well as to his back benchers?
I think this is quite a new experience. I have never before in this House found a Minister in charge of a Bill solemnly refusing to give any kind of answer during a final speech. It is not a question of his waiting for his speech. It is something quite new and something which does not seem to me to be wholly respectful to this House. Are we really not going to get an answer? Will not the Minister ask the Chief Whip to give him permission to open his mouth? This artificially silenced party opposite—
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. P. G. T. Buchan-Hepburn)
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.
§ Question put accordingly, and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.162
§ Committed to a Committee of the whole House—[Mr. Redmayne.]
§ Committee tomorrow.