HC Deb 24 January 1957 vol 563 cc386-7
36. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations how many British applicants for admission to Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, respectively, are waiting for permission to proceed to those countries.

Mr. Alport

As my reply contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Shinwell

Meanwhile, will the hon. Gentleman and his Department enter into consultation with the High Commissioners of the countries concerned in order to expedite the flow of emigrants to those countries? Is he aware that there is a very long waiting list—very many, far too many, in the queue—and will he provide facilities to enable them to proceed?

Mr. Alport

In the case of the majority of these countries, it depends largely on their absorptive capacity, which is essentially a policy to be decided by the Governments of the countries concerned.

Following is the reply: I understand from the High Commissioner or Australia that there are about 23,000 applications for assisted passages covering about 55,500 persons. Of these, some 6,000 applications covering about 15,500 persons are being actively considered. The remaining 17,000 applications relate for the most part to persons who have not yet obtained nominations from persons in Australia guaranteeing accommodation and are therefore not at present accepted for assisted passages. The High Commissioner for New Zealand informs me that the number of applications for free passages at present under consideration is 1,830. In addition there are 2,592 persons who have been selected under the New Zealand free passage scheme and are awaiting transport In the case of Canada, I understand that there are no records of waiting migrants as permission to proceed to Canada is not required.
37. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he will initiate discussions with the Governments of the Commonwealth regarding the increase in the applications of citizens of the United Kingdom to emigrate to the Commonwealth.

Mr. Alport

The admission of immigrants is a matter for the Commonwealth Governments concerned; and no restriction is placed on the emigration of residents of the United Kingdom. Her Majesty's Government are in close touch with Commonwealth Governments on migration matters generally.

Mr. Thomson

Is the Minister aware that there is very deep concern, particularly in Scotland, at the great increase in the number of emigrants to the Commonwealth countries that has taken place since the Suez crisis, and does not he think that the Government, in association with the Commonwealth Governments, ought to give this House the fullest possible information about this increase in emigration so that we can decide properly what our attitude should be towards it?

Mr. Alport

This matter will be discussed when the Second Reading of the Empire Settlement Bill is moved tomorrow, and I think that would be a better occasion on which to go into the details.

Mr. Bottomley

Would the hon. Gentleman consider increasing the powers of the Overseas Emigration Board as a means of helping in this affair?