HC Deb 12 November 1953 vol 520 cc1113-5
5. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what representations have been made to the Australian Government in respect of the housing and treatment of British emigrants; and if present conditions in this respect are now satisfactory.

Mr. J. Foster

No such representations have been made and I have no reason to suppose that present conditions are unsatisfactory.

Mr. Sorensen

Is the Minister aware that at one time there were many complaints, some of them, apparently, of substance? Do I understand that he has had no consultations with the Australian representatives on this matter? What arrangements are made to see that emigrants from this country have the accommodation and treatment that they require?

Mr. Foster

That is a large question. The Australian Government instituted an independent inquiry. As the hon. Member is aware, the complaints affected only a small minority of what was itself a small minority—27,000 of the total of 350,000 British migrants under the assisted passages scheme. The Committee's inquiries showed as was accepted by the Australian Government, that, by and large, there was no ground for these complaints. When Mr. Holt was over here I had the opportunity of speaking to him informally about migration and the various arrangements in the various States. I satisfied myself that proper arrangements are made for informing British migrants about the facts in Australia; before they go, a pamphlet is issued to them. There was no ground for these complaints, which, it must be admitted, were fostered by the Communists.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that I have recently had letters from Australia from sons of constituents stating that earlier this year a considerable number of British immigrants were evicted from some of the hostels? Will the Minister make further inquiries?

Mr. Foster

A few have been evicted, but that was on the ground that they refused to pay the tariffs, which the Committee found were fair in comparison with the general run of Australian tariffs. If the hon. Member would like to talk to me about it at any time, I should be pleased to give him other facts.

9. Mr. Hale

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations the present policy of Her Majesty's Government with reference to emigration to the Dominions of Canada, Australia and South Africa; and what was the number of emigrants to, and immigrants from, these Dominions in 1951 and 1952, respectively.

Mr. J. Foster

I would invite the hon. Member's attention to the statement which I made on 21st April, 1952. This statement still holds good.

As the answer to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's Question involves a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate them in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Figures are only available of immigrants going by sea.

Mr. Hale

I am obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman. Will he confirm that there is no restriction now on free emigration or on the number of emigrants who want to go to two, at least, of these territories?

Mr. Foster

I am not certain, but I believe that to be the case.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Have the Government yet decided to join the inter-governmental committee on European migration, to which Australia and Canada belong and in which they take a great interest?

Mr. Foster

I am not in a position to say that.

Mr. I. O. Thomas

In advising those who are proposing to emigrate to any of these territories, will the Minister provide full information about the policy of apartheid, which, it is stated, is being put forward by responsible or irresponsible political leaders in the Central African Federation?

Mr. Foster

That is nothing to do with the Question. Information is given to migrants about conditions in the country and the offices of the Ministry of Labour and of the High Commissioner are at the disposal of emigrants.

Following are the figures:

Outward Inward Net Movement
1951 27,544 5,024 22,520 outward
1952 37,500 7,500 30,000 outward
1951 56,724 9,988 46,736 outward
1952 51,900 10,700 41,200 outward
South Africa:
1951 6,975 4,665 2,310 outward
1952 8,600 4,200 4,400 outward