HC Deb 30 October 1952 vol 505 cc2085-6
15. Mr. A. Evans

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations the number of assisted emigrants to Australia during the last four years; and the number of these who returned to this country before two years had elapsed.

The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. John Foster)

During the period 1st January, 1949, to 7th October, 1952, 147,666 men, women and children were granted assisted passages to Australia. No statistics are available to show how many left Australia within two years of their arrival there.

Mr. Evans

Will the Minister take the trouble to obtain the statistics of those returning and present them to the House, because I understand that many of these people go out there on assisted passages and are forced to return because of inadequate housing accommodation?

Mr. Foster

I do not think that that is the case. The only estimate we can make of the number of people coming back is by the number of refunds that are given, and between March, 1947, and June, 1951, the number was 1,058, which is 1,058 cases out of 80,000 persons. If a few more are added to that total for dependents it looks like a figure of about 2½ per cent.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will the Minister ensure that we work closely with the Australian Government and the refugee organisations in Geneva, which is now dealing with emigration troubles of a similar kind?

Mr. Foster

I will take note of the right hon. Member's question.

Mr. M. MacPherson

Does the Minister recall a case to which considerable publicity in the Press was given a few weeks ago concerning people who went to Australia on a firm promise of employment there? When they got there there was no employment and they decided to come back. Can he do anything to improve the relationships between our end and the Australian end in matters like that, because cases of that sort do a great deal of harm?

Mr. Foster

That should be the subject of another Question. I remember something about it.