§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 11.11 a.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. C. J. M. Alport)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
This Bill is intended to carry on for another five years the policy which was enshrined in its predecessor, the Empire Settlement Act, 1952, which, in its turn, was preceded by two similar Statutes with similar titles, of 1937 and 1922. It gives the Government the necessary financial authority to enter into agreements with other Commonwealth Governments or with private organisations to encourage emigration from the United Kingdom to the Commonwealth.
Let me emphasise that we intend that this policy should be a positive and constructive one, since Her Majesty's Government consider that it is in the interests of the United Kingdom and of the Commonwealth that people from these islands should continue to play a proper part in the expansion of those parts of the Commonwealth to whose populations we have already made such a significant contribution.
It is sometimes suggested that we cannot afford to lose young, vigorous and skilled men and women from this country lest we stand in danger of being left in due time with an unsupportable residue of the aged and infirm. It is certainly the wish of Her Majesty's Government that emigration should be based upon a cross-section of the population. This happens naturally in many cases. A young man or a young couple are usually the first to face boldly the adventure of making a future for themselves across the seas. Once established in their new homes they send for parents or relations to join them. I feel that most people would accept that this type of migration by cross-section is, at any rate, in part, an answer to those who fear that Britain may be denuded of its most vigorous and promising people.
Indeed, the Commonwealth Governments are well aware that we cannot allow them to make too extensive 542 inroads upon the labour forces of any particular industry or of any particular area of this country. Their migration organisations work closely with the Department of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, and any dangers of over-recruitment can be, and up to now have been, successfully avoided.
Of the 140,000 persons who emigrated to Australia on the assisted or free passage schemes between 1951 and 1956, 56,000 were wage earners and 84,000 were dependants. Of the wage earners, 46,000 were men and 10,000 were women. On an age group basis, it has been calculated that about one-sixth were over the age of 45. It is perfectly true that in the case of Canada the proportion on an age group basis is not quite as satisfactory. It is about one-tenth. Even so, there is a substantial proportion in the case of Canada of the more elderly of us who are going over to that Commonwealth country.
When the previous Bill was debated, about five years ago, the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) asked whether it would be possible to arrive at an optimum figure for emigration. He himself seemed to be inclined to the figure put forward in the Report of the Royal Commission on Population, in 1949–a net figure of about 100,000. The Oversea Migration Board comes tentatively to the conclusion that the figure should be between 150,000 and 200,000 persons each year—that is, if we are to meet the requirements of the countries who are seeking British migrants.
Between 1948 and 1956 the average gross emigration from this country to the Commonwealth was about 125,000 people annually. Although these have included a large number of valuable citizens, I think it would be getting the problem completely out of proportion if we thought that their departure from this country was a dead loss to Britain or that there was not a compensating flow of migrants from Commonwealth countries to the United Kingdom. Indeed, there are in this House, as I know well, a significant number of hon. Members who are immigrants into the United Kingdom from Commonwealth countries.
I do not believe that the emigration from the United Kingdom of 150,000 people annually, who form a reasonable 543 cross-section of the age groups here, would produce an appreciable social or economic problem for us in the future. I am quite certain, on the other hand, that the emigration of that number would be a substantial and invaluable investment in the progress of the countries of the Commonwealth to which they go.
I must confess to the House that the figures which I have used are the best I can obtain in the circumstances, but one of the great difficulties about any study or discussion of migration problems is that accurate statistics are not easy to obtain. One of the recommendations in the Second Report of the Oversea Migration Board isthat continued efforts should be made to improve the quantity and quality of statistical information available on migration from and to this country.There are formidable administrative difficulties in the path of obtaining the information we want, and I am sure that no one in the House would be anxious to clutter up the always tedious routine of reception and departure at the ports and air terminals of Britain with questionnaires probing into the private affairs and intentions of those who pass through. But the Oversea Migration Board, which, under the chairmanship of my predecessors, has done such invaluable work on this and which has the advantage of the advice and, if I may say so, the enthusiasm of hon. Members on both sides of the House, is now considering how it will be possible to improve the statistics which are available, and I have no doubt that we shall be able to find means of doing so without introducing any unnecessary inconvenience to travellers or unnecessary red tape.
I hope that the House will agree with me when I say that the problems of migration are essentially human ones and that it is a wrong approach to the subject to suppose that we can or should move large sections of the population from one country to another merely to fulfil a theoretical dictate of State policy. Almost exactly a hundred years ago my grandfather, as a lad of 17, with a few pounds in his pocket, went to Canada to try his luck, as hundreds of thousands have done before him and since. Perhaps I should add that he did not have very much luck in Canada and went elsewhere. But the last thing that we in this 544 country should do is to try to damp down in any way the enthusiasm and the spirit of self-reliance which is the motive power behind the migration movement and which, I believe, will produce for the new and expanding countries the best type of citizen, which is the most adaptable type, in their present circumstances.
Assuming, therefore, that the men or women who leave here to spend their lives overseas must do so as a result of a decision taken voluntarily, I believe that the House as a whole will agree that the scope for expanding the volume who go must necessarily be subject to certain limitations. Those limitations are not such as can be overcome by the expenditure of large sums of money under this or any other scheme. As was found as early as the days of Gibbon Wakefield, an attempt meticulously to plan an essentially human process is fraught with the very greatest difficulty.
What we can do and must do—and here I use the words of my hon. Friend the Member for East Bournemouth and Christchurch (Mr. N. Nicolson) in a striking maiden speech, about five years ago—is to use the powers of the State to act as a "lubricant and stimulant" to the process which, over the last century, and more, has brought great advantages to this country. Let us remember this—and I think it can never be said too often: we should not be a world Power today if our people had always stayed at home. We would not be enjoying our present standard of living and we would not, I am certain, have survived as a free and famous country if we had not been able, in the wars of this century, to look to the newer countries of the Commonwealth to help to redress the balance of the old.
I have read, and I am sure that the House has, the speech of Mr. Holt, Commonwealth Minister of Labour, which he delivered earlier this week. I can assure the House that no one can be more eager than the Government in general and my noble Friend in particular to find new and practical means of speeding, in conjunction with our joint members of the Commonwealth, the development of its great resources. The Secretary of State, in accordance with a promise given by my predecessor in the debate on 30th November, 1956, is now seeking the views of Commonwealth 545 Governments, in relation particularly to the provision of sources and deployment of capital investment.
However, the best form of capital investment in many ways in the case of many Commonwealth countries is people. We must not forget that over these many years, not least since the war, we have made a very considerable capital investment in their progress in the shape of men and women, with their skill and knowledge, who have gone from these shores to make their working lives in Commonwealth countries. If, as I hope, the House gives the Bill its support, we will be able to consider any practical suggestions that may come from overseas or from here, suggestions which I am sure will be made by hon. Members during the course of the debate. We will thereby be able to decide how best to make use of such resources for this purpose that the Bill makes available.
We propose to repeat the existing financial limit of £1,500,000 annually. I do not pretend that we have spent up to that figure during the last five years. We want to leave ourselves free to ask Parliament for up to that sum, if occasion arises, for joining with other Commonwealth Governments in any scheme of mutual advantage which would require larger financial contributions from this country. We are asking for it to operate for five years, for it would be wise to keep the whole matter under review at relatively short intervals, rather than, as has been the practice previously, to let it run for fifteen years.
I sometimes think that those who speak on Commonwealth migration tend to ignore the fact that the controlling factor in any migration policy is the absorptive capacity and attitude of the receiving countries. It is also well to remember that the arrival of large numbers of immigrants very often creates an acute inflationary problem in the countries concerned.
It perhaps may be of some interest to the House if I give very shortly the general views, as we understand them, of the main receiving countries. Canada, for instance, does not impose any numerical limit on the number of immigrants from this country, but operates very efficiently its own selection scheme. The Canadian Government lend passage 546 money to any prospective immigrants whom they regard as suitable and who, otherwise, would not be able to afford to pay for their passage themselves.
Canada wants immigrants and appears to be getting them. One of the problems—a purely practical problem in her case—is the fact that shipping is always tight on the North Atlantic route. There is obviously always an optimum time for the arrival of immigrants, and the middle of a Canadian winter is not that time. There were, I must confess, restrictions on the amount of money which immigrants could transfer to Canada and which was regarded by some hon. Members here as a considerable obstacle to the proper flow of immigrants from here to Canada. I am glad to say that these restrictions have been gradually relaxed.
Since 1954 an immigrant to Canada, on leaving the United Kingdom, has been able to transfer at the official rate of exchange what is called a settling-in allowance of £1,000 plus £250 for each dependent up to a total of four. He may also, at any time during his first three years in Canada, buy United Kingdom goods within the Canadian definition of settlers' effects, for export to Canada, to a maximum of £1,000 per family. He may sell his remaining sterling assets for Canadian dollars for security sterling which is at a slight discount on the official rate of exchange. I hope that in due course we can afford to remove even these residual restrictions, but our information is that most would-be emigrants to Canada do not possess more capital than they can transfer at the official rate of exchange under the existing arrangements.
The Australian Government do all in their power to attract immigrants from the British Isles and are now filling every available berth on commercial shipping lines serving Australia. At present, they aim to take about 115,000 immigrants from all sources and up to date about one-third of those have come from this country.
New Zealand has had some difficulties over absorbing large numbers of immigrants since the war. The New Zealand Government operate a free passage scheme of their own, but at present limit it to single men and in the case of married 547 men to building workers, agricultural workers and seamen. The present immigrant target is about 10,000 a year and of those about 5,000 travel under the existing free passage scheme.
The Union of South Africa is not in favour of State-aided immigration. It wants a certain number of skilled immigrants and the rate from this country is about 2,000 a year. The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland has grown immensely since the war, as you, Mr. Speaker, will know. Immigration has been at the rate of about 20,000 a year. Several thousand come from this country, but it is not easy to keep track of the actual numbers who go indirectly to the Federation from the Union, but a total of about 6,000 is a fair estimate.
§ Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)
Can the hon. Member say under what Clause of the Bill assistance can be given to emigrants to Southern Rhodesia, because the Bill is limited to Dominions? Is Southern Rhodesia defined as a Dominion under the Bill?
§ Mr. Alport
Assistance has not, up to the present, been sought to be given under the Bill. I stand subject to correction, but I think that up to the present assistance has not been given in that case under the previous Measures. For the moment I am merely stating the attitude of the various receiving countries to British migrants in various forms of passage, the majority of which remains people buying their own passage to the Dominion or overseas country concerned.
§ Mr. A. G. Bottomley (Rochester and Chatham)
I want to get this point clear. I believe that it would be possible by an Order in Council to give this assistance if the Government so decided.
§ Mr. Alport
I think it would be possible to do that. All I have said that is that up to date it has not been given, but I will look into that point and if I am wrong I will certainly tell the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) before the end of the debate.
I now turn to what the Government are doing. First, there is the Assisted Passage Agreement with Australia. This will run out at the end of March, but we have already heard that the Australian 548 Government would like to renew it, and if the Bill is passed we should at once enter upon discussions with them. Briefly, the Agreement provides that any would-be immigrant to Australia who is accepted by the Australian Government and approved by the Secretary of State can get to Australia by sea for the payment of £10—which is a very modest sum—if he is 19 years of age or over. If lie is between the ages of 14 and 19 the fare is £5, and for children under the age of 14 travel is free. Under this scheme nearly 200,000 emigrants have gone to Australia from this country since the war, and about 150,000 have gone at their own expense.
As prices go these days, the passage money to Australia under the scheme represents no more than a token contribution from the emigrants, and it cannot be said that the cost of the passage is an obstacle to emigration. Most of the cost falls upon the Australian Government, and we must acknowledge with gratitude the generous facilities which they have given to our people to enable them to live in Australia. We realise that Australia benefits very greatly from this movement of population—as Mr. Holt, the Minister for Immigration in Australia has said recently—otherwise, they would not promote it as generously as they do. Nevertheless, we are extremely grateful to them. It means that if anybody wants to go to Australia, and a passage can be supplied, he can do so at very little cost to himself.
We are ready to consider making similar agreements with other Commonwealth countries who desire them. One reason we have not yet made any such similar agreements is that we have not yet had any express wish to that end from any other Commonwealth countries.
Then there are agreements for reciprocity in social services. This matter is of particular interest to the Migration Council. We made comprehensive reciprocal agreements with Australia in 1953. Reciprocity with New Zealand in family allowances has existed since 1948, and comprehensive reciprocal agreement was made in April, 1956. These agreements mean that anybody who is thinking of emigrating to Australia or New Zealand need not be deterred by the thought that he will lose benefit to which he would have been entitled if he had stayed in this country. We have not yet made 549 similar agreements with Canada because the system of social benefits there is rather different from that which exists here, but we are examining the possibility, and if it appears that there is a basis for an agreement of this type we shall certainly be willing to do what we can to make a reciprocal agreement for the benefit of emigrants to Canada.
Then we have agreements with the voluntary societies, who sponsor child migration, especially to Australia. There are eight of these societies, and they have been operating for a long time. On an average they have sent about 250 children each year to homes and schools in Australia. The children have the benefit of a free passage under the Assisted Passage Scheme, and we make a small contribution towards their outfitting and maintenance, until they reach the age of 16. The Australian Commonwealth and State Governments also make contributions to their maintenance when they arrive there and, on the whole, the schemes have been successful.
The arrangements are of very great benefit to many families in this country and to many organisations, who can thus give the children in their care a chance of what might appear to be a better life than they would have if they stayed in Britain. It stands to reason that children cannot be sent to Australia unaccompanied, or without their parents, except under the auspices of an organisation which can look after the arrangements both at this end and the other, and also see that the children are properly looked after and brought up when they arrive. I should like to pay a tribute to the kindness and devotion of the many people who have operated these organisations and worked with them for a very long time.
There have recently been some criticisms of the arrangements at some of the homes in Australia. These have been brought to the attention of the Australian authorities, who are arranging for all the homes to be reviewed. We shall, naturally, pay attention to the results of this review before making fresh agreements with the organisations here. Moreover, the organisations have voluntarily undertaken to supply us with fuller information than has been the case in the past about the arrangements which they are able to make, and to allow the 550 Children's Branch of the Home Office to inspect all their arrangements in this country. I cannot entirely accept the criticisms which have been made recently about these various organisations, but if any of them is justified I am sure that the steps which are being taken both here and at the other end will remove the grounds for these criticisms quickly and reasonably.
There are two other organisations to which I should like to make reference. One is the Big Brother Movement, which caters for boys in their teens, who are placed in jobs in Australia under the aegis of an older man, to whom they can turn and who can give them help and advice and keep an eye on them. We do not pay the maintenance costs in these cases, but we make a grant to the administrative headquarters in this country. Then there is the Society for the Oversea Settlement of British Women, which gives advice to women who wish to emigrate overseas. To this organisation, which is also a valuable one, we make an annual grant towards the central expenses.
I do not pretend that there are not other things which we should consider, or that we have spent anything like the full £1½ million annually during the last five years upon this subject. I should like to emphasise that the spending of money does not, in itself, make a migration policy. During the period of operation of the last Empire Settlement Act about 500,000 people left these shores to be permanent residents in Commonwealth countries. The education and training which they have had here, and the contributions made by our welfare services during childhood and adolescence, represent perhaps the finest investment which we could make in the Commonwealth in the future.
Estimating this very conservatively at about £2,500 per emigrant, on an average—I do not pretend that these figures are absolutely accurate—it means that we invested about £1,250 million in the Commonwealth countries at a time when there was in this country a considerable labour shortage and when many of our industries were lacking sufficient skilled men. This is by no means a small achievement, and it is a great tribute to the vitality of the British people. If such money as can be made available under 551 the Bill can ease and facilitate the process in the future, so much the better. Its introduction to the House today is an indication of the significance which Her Majesty's Government attach to this subject, and I hope that it will have the support of the whole House.
§ 11.39 a.m.
§ Mr. A. G. Bottomley (Rochester and Chatham)
It has already afforded me pleasure to congratulate the Minister upon his appointment to the Commonwealth Relations Office. I know that he will enjoy it, because I had a short stay in that Office myself. It was during my all too brief period there that I have had the pleasure of assisting in changing the name from the Dominions Office to the Commonwealth Office. I also recall the great knowledge and experience of the hon. Member being used upon another occasion with those of us who were on the Parliamentary Mission to Kenya. That Mission brought back a unanimous Parliamentary Report.
I think I can say that my hon. Friends agree with the main purpose of the Bill, although there will be varying views upon certain aspects. During the course of my speech I hope that I shall be able to show where we in the Labour Party, although supporting migration, will have some reservations—and I hope that the Government will be able to share them with us. Whereas we might feel that the word "Empire" has a special significance, we ought not to forget that the term is offensive in many parts of the Commonwealth. I would have preferred to have seen the Bill called the Commonwealth Settlement Bill instead of Empire Settlement Bill, and I would ask the Under-Secretary of State whether it is not possible to give consideration to that suggestion.
As the Under-Secretary has said, this Bill springs from the Empire Settlement Act, 1922, which gives the Secretary of State, in association with the Government of any part of another Commonwealth country, authority to bring about migration, or to join with public or private organisations in affording facilities for migration from this country to other parts of the Commonwealth. As was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway), it does 552 not include the Mandated Territories and the Protectorates, but the 1922 Act as it applies today provides that Orders in Council may extend the operation of the Act to territories outside those territories to which I have referred.
Therefore, it would be right to say that we could have agreed schemes either of development or land settlement, or schemes for facilitating settlement in or migration to the Dominions and certain territories within the terms of this Bill by assisting with passage costs, initial allowances, training, or any other method. This is the basis of this Bill, which we are, in fact, bringing forward following the lines contained in the 1922 Act, the 1937 Act and the 1952 Act.
The Second Reading of the 1922 Bill was moved by the then Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty, the late Mr. L. S. Amery. He was not moving it because of his Ministerial position, because we all know of his tremendous knowledge of and interest in the Commonwealth and in Empire affairs. It is significant that I should be speaking at this Box today, representing a naval constituency. I wish I had been here to see him holding forth. I can, however, imagine the way in which he spread himself in saying how essential it was to bring about a right distribution of population in the Empire. Three-quarters of the people are "penned, confined and congested" in this little corner of the Empire, while there are millions of acres of the richest lands in the world, with boundless plains and forests without end and water and power beyond computation. This should be the purpose of migration—to develop fully the rosources of the Commonwealth.
On that occasion, the Labour Party, as today, supported the Bill, but on reading through the debate in the OFFICIAL REPORT, I saw that the spokesman from this side said, "Yes, but that is not good enough; economic planning is required." I can only reflect that if, at the time when we were thinking about these things, instead of propaganda there had been some thought and application of real endeavour to try to build up the Commonwealth on sound economic lines, it might have been possible for us to be speaking more hopefully today about the Measure before us than we are able to do.
553 We have to face the fact that today, whatever we feel about it, that there is the growth of nationalism in the Commonwealth countries. It would be wrong to give the impression that there is the same outlook today as there was in the past. Today, the Commonwealth has changed completely. It is now multiracial—and I am not only thinking in terms of India, Pakistan and Ceylon, but also of South African and Canada. Indeed, as far as Canada is concerned, there are fewer people of British stock in that country than there are in the United States of America.
Nevertheless, there are two countries which we can look upon in that way, as we always have done, and they are Australia and New Zealand. There, over 90 per cent. of the people have come from British stock, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that there is as much common interest between the people of Australia and New Zealand and as much similarity of behaviour and outlook as there is between Londoners and those who come from Clydeside.
We have to recognise that each of these Commonwealth countries today looks upon itself as the guardian of its own values and ideas, and that this is one way of recognising the need for strengthening the Commonwealth. It has been badly shaken by recent events. I do not want to develop thdt theme, but I think I ought to make one comment. One man inside the Cabinet who should have been able to see that what happened recently should not have happened is the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. There have been times when Ministers have resigned on issues like that; but I do not want to go further into the matter.
We have to rebuild the Commonwealth and make it strong. Everybody in the Commonwealth, however much it has been shaken, recognises that one self-interest is paramount, and that is remaining in the Commonwealth of Nations. I think we all realise that nothing is to be gained by resigning, that if any one of us inside the Commonwealth left it we should be isolated and have much less influence in the counsels of the world than we have today.
May I now comment on the Bill and say that, in accepting the Bill and in saying that we are in favour of migration to 554 Commonwealth countries, we want to emphasise that this applies where it is the wish of the people in the territory concerned, one that is expressed through a democratically-elected Government. That could perhaps better be put in this way. We are in favour of migration to territories like Canada and New Zealand, but I think we would have extreme reservations in the case of the Union of South Africa and even more in the case of Southern Rhodesia. Indeed, we have published a policy document on the subject, and I should like to quote from it so that I can express more clearly and the House will better understand what the Labour Party, when it becomes the Government, would do and what the policy to be followed by that Government would be. The document says this:Whatever immigration continues, it must be made absolutely clear that the basis of society is the idea of full racial equality and that the object is to build a nation in which there will be no privileged classes and no group separatism.It goes on to say:In some territories, it may be that settler immigration must be completely halted for the time being. Such a ban may, of course, slow down the pace of economic development. If in doing so it ensures that more indigenous trainees become skilled workers, the sacrifice will be worth while. Until the indigenous peoples have attained equality, most of the immigrants must be people who can teach and train them in the skills, crafts and organisation of modern life.The Government must give more thought than they have done to this question of migration. The Under-Secretary himself has recognised that there are many weaknesses. I think we have to try to define a clearer policy. The United Kingdom is the only Commonwealth country which accepts unlimited numbers and sends overseas the greatest numbers. I pose this question to the Under-Secretary. Can we afford to continue this policy? I know that there are two views on this subject. One is that if we are to get the full benefits of large-scale production, we cannot afford to lose manpower. The other is that the country is over-populated, and that an increase in population reduces efficiency and increases the vulnerability of our national economy. My own personal view is that we ought still to be concerned with migration as a self-interest.
555 If we really do believe that atomic energy will provide the power, and that automation will revolutionise our economic system, which I think it will, then, clearly, we shall be over-populated. We ought to encourage migration. Originally, Commonwealth countries wanted labour from this country for agricultural purposes, but now they want people for skilled and semi-skilled work. To the extent that they take our craftsmen and skilled workers which really impinges upon our own industrial efficiency, it does not enable us to use our manpower for the benefit of the Commonwealth as a whole.
After all, Europe is still important in the councils of the world. It is the cradle of western civilisation. It is good for the Commonwealth that the United Kingdom is the strongest Power in Europe. It brings great strength to the Commonwealth. Although it is natural for the Commonwealth countries to want to industrialise themselves, many of them are carrying it a little too far. I am afraid that if they push ahead to become industrial Powers, they will, in time, find themselves in much the same position as the United Kingdom finds itself today. In other words, the primary goods will be at a premium, and, in due course, the food and the raw materials will become the scarce commodities if we all concentrate on industrial production.
This being so, there is a lot to be said for Commonwealth countries, who have the ability so to do, to make sure that their economy is in such a state that they are never put into the position of the United Kingdom, where they are so dependent on food and raw materials from other countries that they have to pay far more for them than for industrial goods. I believe that we must talk about these things and consider how we can prevent excessive numbers of our skilled and semiskilled workers from going overseas and bring about balanced economies.
The best method of emigration is, of course, that of the family unit. There are many illustrations of this, but I immediately call to mind the Avro Air Company's scheme, under which 1,000 families went to Ontario. But things do not happen just like that. Much consideration must be given to bringing about that kind of migration.
556 There is much talk of emigration today. There are many newspaper reports on the subject and photographs have been published showing people lining up to go overseas. I suppose that a good many of them are going because of the Suez aftermath, petrol rationing, dearer food, rising fares and the threat of unemployment. They feel that they are going to be better off overseas. Although many of them may do well abroad, I do not think that some of them will be of great benefit to the countries to which they are going. They will certainly not be the best ambassadors for this country. As was said by a friend of mine, many of those who go overseas are most anxious to demonstrate that they no longer have connections with Britain. Indeed, they are most desirous to show that they are good Australians or Canadians and try to be more Australian and Canadian than even the nationals of those countries.
People who go overseas because they have a sense of grievance do not make the best emigrants. They will not do much good to the Commonwealth. There are many people who profess their patriotism, but I recall, in particular, Noel Coward, who says that he loves his England but cannot afford to live here these days. I love my country and want to improve it, and anyone who does not share that desire is not a fit citizen for any country.
It is well to draw attention to the fact that those going overseas are leaving the finest country in the world. In this island we have culture, museums, theatres, and everything is centred—I see that the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. B. Harrison) is shaking his head in disapproval. It would be unnatural if the hon. Gentleman did not put Australia first. However, I will not argue with him at this stage. We in this country have all the beneficial things which ought to keep here people who are not fired with the spirit of adventure. They ought not to think that they will find all these things overseas.
I have, perhaps, had the opportunity of travelling abroad more than most people, and I can assure those discontented people who are leaving the country without any real thought of why they are emigrating that there is no place like Kent, in which my constituency is 557 situated. It is a wonderful county in the spring. What about the Lake district in the spring, and autumn in the Highlands. Again, where else can one see international events like we have in this country?
Emigration is a good thing, but we want to see it carried out on the basis of the family unit. In particular, we must give serious consideration to whether we can afford to let too many of our scientists and technical workers emigrate. Far too many of them are going at present. There must be some economic adjustment in this direction. I was interested to read the other day that in our universities we turn out, on average, between 10 and 20 honours students a year in chemistry, physics and engineering. An alarming number of them are going overseas. At one United States laboratory there was a cricket eleven composed of Cambridge graduates which played an Oxford eleven from another laboratory. Some of these men originally went to Canada, and then on to the United States. Serious thought must be given to considering how we can encourage such people to stay here.
I wish to pay tribute to the Overseas Migration Board, to which the Undersecretary of State referred. I do not think that the Board has enough power. It has done an excellent job, but some of the work which it is called upon to undertake cannot be done unless it is given extended powers. Upon one of the Board's recommendations I have some reservations. I do not think that we can afford to go on giving aid to those organisations which help to send children overseas. I am thinking of the psychological approach. The organisations are wonderful institutions, and have done a grand job, but we cannot afford to send our child population overseas. Those who are getting old represent the greatest numbers of our population and this is a matter to which we must give serious consideration, and we should consider whether we can afford to let children go overseas alone. We should give more consideration to whether this is the right policy.
Migration is not a one way affair. We must not lose sight of the fact that many people come into this country from abroad and that, on balance, we may perhaps gain in numbers more than we lose.
558 But, having said that, we must ask ourselves what is the purpose of migration. A mutual friend of the Under-Secretary of State and myself asked whether it is a policy which seeks to benefit the country that is sending the emigrants, whether it is a policy which seeks to benefit the country receiving the emigrants, or whether it is to benefit the Commonwealth or the individual. I can only give my personal view. To my mind, the aim should be, first, to benefit the individual and, secondly, I hope, the Commonwealth. Indeed, the two things go together. But, if we accept that, let us not forget the implications. I recall the words of Byron, and, if I may, I will bring them up to date:Far as the breeze can bear the billows' foamSurvey our Commonwealth and behold our home.I hope that, in accepting the Bill today, we recognise that whatever the colour, creed or religion of the individual, all will have freedom to travel in this great Commonwealth of ours.
§ 12.0 noon.
§ Mr. Archer Baldwin (Leominster)
It is my pleasant duty to congratulate my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations on moving into an office for which, I think, he is particularly adapted, My hon. Friend has taken a great interest in Commonwealth affairs since he has been a Member of this House, and I am sure that those of us who take a similar interest are glad to sec him in his present post. My hon. Friend has today made a speech upon which I also wish to congratulate him. It was a little more forthcoming than anything we have heard from the Government Front Bench on Commonwealth affairs for some time. But I warn my hon. Friend that, having made that speech, which is now on record, there are those of us who will endeavour to keep him up to the sentiments he has expressed.
From what he said, I am not sure whether the right hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Bottomley) is in favour of emigration or not. At one point he seemed to advise that it was right and at another he questioned whether we can afford emigration. I shall probably touch on one or two of the points made by the right hon. Gentleman. About two months ago we had a debate on a Motion moved by my hon. 559 Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Sir A. Braithwaite) calling attention to the importance of investing capital in the Commonwealth. This debate is linked with the former debate because, in my view, migration of capital and people are interlinked, and both are equally important. I think that our debate today will result in general approval of this Bill, just as the previous debate gave general approval to the idea advanced by my hon. Friend.
One of the questions asked in the world today is: Can the British Commonwealth survive? I wish to call attention to something said by prominent men who have given a great deal of consideration to Commonwealth affairs during the last few years. I refer first to an article written by, as he then was, Mr. Arthur Bryant, who is now Sir Arthur Bryant. He used these words:Through a lack of faith during the past generation of the British people the Empire and Commonwealth are showing unmistakable signs of disintegration.More recently Sir Oliver Franks, who was British Ambassador at Washington, in a B.B.C. lecture, said:Without the Commonwealth, Great Britain cannot continue as a great Power. Shorn of her partners and Colonies she would become either a satellite of the United States, an offshore island of a European Federation or a has-been in a most unenviable plight, very possibly an industrial slum.Those are weighty words uttered by men of great ability who have given a great deal of thought to this subject. The events of the last few months have added emphasis to those sentiments. It is true, and it is no use disguising the fact, that the question is asked in this country and abroad: Is the British Commonwealth on the way out?
Even Hitler realised the importance of the British Empire. Although we would not agree with many things he said, he made this statement, or at least he is reported to have done so:If the British Empire"—he used a word which has gone a little out of fashion today; even in this debate it is apparently unfashionable to call this Bill the "Empire Settlement Bill." Hitler said:If the British Empire were to disintegrate, the world would receive a shock from which it might never recover.560 I think that Hitler spoke true words. Personally, I have no fear of such disintegration, provided that we in this country, and hon. Members of this House, no matter on which side they sit, take steps to help forward a vigorous emigration policy.
I know that older men—I suppose it has been so all through the ages—say, "It was not like that when I was a boy." We tend to denigrate the younger generation. But I do not propose to adopt that line. I think that the heart of this country is sound and that the young people still have the same spirit of adventure as their forefathers had when they founded the British Empire. All they need is an opportunity to do something. Many of them express their high spirits in the form of "rock 'n roll" and activities of that kind. Such high spirits would be better expressed by taking advantage of an opportunity, were it offered, to go abroad. I hope, therefore, and I am encouraged by the speech of the Under-Secretary, that this country will go in for a vigorous emigration policy.
Although figures have been given showing the large number of emigrants from this country to the Commonwealth in the past few years, the fact remains—it is one which we must face—that the percentage of British blood throughout the Commonwealth is tending to decrease; in other words, the intake countries are taking an increasing flow of emigrants other than of British blood. Some countries are very disturbed about this, but the only Commonwealth country I can think of which is taking a strong line on the point is New Zealand. There a big percentage of the people are of British blood. I think I am right in saying that New Zealand is composed of nearly 75 per cent. of people of British blood.
In Canada, I am sorry to say, there is a tendency for the percentage of British blood to decline too rapidly. I know that those countries will do all they can to increase emigration from this country. I want to ensure that we help them. The right hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham voiced the opinion of some opponents of emigration and asked whether we can afford it. We cannot afford to forget that emigration is the only thing which will hold this country to the Commonwealth and 561 keep this country great. Without the Commonwealth, we are a very small and over-populated agricultural country with practically no mineral wealth left, except coal, which is getting more and more difficult to extract.
I know it is said that we cannot afford to allow our people to go in these times of full employment. I have never looked upon our present state as that of full employment. If we face facts, we shall realise that this is a period of misemployment. We have too many people in this country doing unproductive work. They should be doing something more useful for the country and the Commonwealth. We have too many people planning and too many people with academic knowledge. We want more people with technical ability, both for our own country and for the Commonwealth countries. I am only too glad to think that I congratulated the former Minister of Education on the fact that during his term of office he paid attention to the need for increasing facilities for technical training for our young people. I must be careful what I say—I do not want it to sound like "sour grapes"—but people with technical ability matter much more than people with academic qualifications.
One must look ahead in these matters and not wait until a crisis arises. I am delighted to see that we are going in for a pretty substantial reduction in armaments. I hope that will means there will be a reduction in the period of National Service, if not its abolition. That must mean that there will be an increasing number of men and women available for the labour market. That, plus the fact that in certain industries there is a reduction in production, must mean that we may have to face a certain amount of unemployment. I hope that we will not wait until that arrives and will not then attempt to persuade our unemployed to emigrate, because if we do we shall find a certain amount of resistance in the receiving countries.
As has been mentioned, we have recently seen photographs of queues of young people, probably most of them skilled workers, lining up to go to Canada. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rochester and Chatham rather denigrated those young people and gave the impression that probably they 562 were not very worth-while citizens, that they were getting away in order to forget that this country exists. I do not believe that. Many of these people who are endeavouring to go abroad are young people who are looking forward not only to their own future but to the future of the families which they hope to raise.
They want to go to a country where the prospects for young people are, in my opinion, better than they are here.
§ Mr. Bottomley
Naturally, it would be wrong to give the impression that this applied generally; I said "some." Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would explain why there has been a rush within the last few weeks.
§ Mr. Baldwin
I agree that there has been a rush within the last few weeks. I was under the impression that the right hon. Gentleman said that these people who were rushing to go abroad were not the best of our citizens but rather that they were—to use a phrase used some years ago—rats leaving a sinking ship. I do not agree with that.
If we can help it, we should not allow the loss of these young skilled people who when they go leave behind the elderly and the infirm. It is for that reason that I advocate an entirely fresh outlook on the part of this country towards emigration. There should be bilateral meetings with the intake countries so that arrangements may be made for them to receive a cross-section of our people, both old and young. I am glad to be able to reinforce the statement of the Under-Secretary of State. There is a very great difference now in the elderly people emigrating to Australia and New Zealand because they have the benefits, which have recently been reinforced, of pensions and a health service, and so on. It makes a great deal of difference to the outlook of those who go to these Commonwealth countries.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
Does the hon. Gentleman accept the argument of the Minister that the total number of United Kingdom citizens who go to the Commonwealth is determined by the capacity of the Dominions to absorb them? If at the moment there is saturation, how can the hon. Gentleman plead for an extension of migration when the Dominions are taking all they can?
§ Mr. Baldwin
I am afraid that I am a little deaf. I did not get the point of the hon. Member's question. I am sorry. I will discuss the matter with him later.
I should like to see the formation of a committee which would discuss with representatives from overseas future migration policy. At the moment the Migration Board has the advantage of meeting the High Commissioners of the various countries, together with their representatives, when an exchange of views takes place; but it goes no further than that. Not only should meetings be held, not only should there be an exchange of views, but some action should be taken as a result. That applies not only to the migration of bodies but to capital investment as well.
We are apt to forget that the British Commonwealth was formed by our forefathers largely because they were in advance of most countries in their industrial knowledge. They neglected agriculture in this country, especially in Scotland, and drove men and women off the land and they went to form the British Empire. They went out very largely as primary producers and eventually became a market for the industrial products of Great Britain. That state of affairs obtained throughout the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century, but we must face the fact that the Commonwealth is not prepared to remain simply a collection of primary producers in order to enable the United Kingdom to live on cheap food.
The Commonwealth is determined to expand its own industries in the various countries, and it is taking all possible steps to that end. We must wake up to that fact. If we are not careful we shall find that the Commonwealth is producing the goods it formerly bought from us. The result will be that if it is not prepared to buy goods from us we shall not be in a position to buy the food necessary to keep our population alive.
There is another feature which I want to emphasise. Australia is so certain that it can industrialise to the fullest extent that it is giving protection to its industries, and saying that even if they are high-cost industries they intend to develop them. Canada wants skilled or unskilled people. She does not want capital assistance. She is a thriving, go-ahead, rich country which can look after 564 all the immigrants that she receives. In fact, a representative of Canada has recently been in this country recruiting a lot of the Hungarian people who are using Great Britain as a transit camp on their way to the North American continent.
Australia wants bodies. She realises to the full, especially since the last war, the danger which lies on the coasts of her northern territories. She realises that she is a vast continent only partly inhabited and only partly explored, whereas on her threshhold are teeming masses of Asiatics numbering about 1,200 million and increasing in number very rapidly. Australia sees her danger. She is determined to increase her population as quickly as possible.
I commend to the notice of anyone who is interested a report drawn up by Mr. Holt when he was Minister for Immigration. I believe that now he is Minister for Labour. In this most interesting document it is stated that the Australian Citizenship Convention has adopted a resolution part of which says:We have reached a point in our history of acceptance of the migration programme at which we are looking at this problem not so much in terms of an economic balance sheet as in terms of our long-term nationhood and of human beings coming here to join us in the making of our history.That is true. Mention has been made of children going to Australia and, as my hon. Friend said, there are some most excellent societies which look after them. Attention has been drawn to the expense of sending children abroad, but we should remember that the expense of keeping them here is also quite heavy. I think that the Children Act, 1948 needs some reorganisation.
At present, children taken from filthy homes or from unworthy parents are not allowed to be taken to any of those excellent associations in Australia unless with the parents' consent. It is about time we did away with this proviso. Why should parents who cannot look after their young children, and have them taken away, be able to prevent those children from becoming citizens in parts of the Commonwealth where they would be happy? I attach very little importance to the report by a visiting committee, which has been mentioned, condemning some of the activities of those 565 associations. Many of the things said in that report were completely wrong.
The right hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham rather minimised the idea of emigration to the Central African Federation, yet we should do all we can to encourage skilled migrants with plenty of know-how to bring that Federation into a position possibly comparable with that of the United States of America. The Federation has vast mineral wealth and a huge labour population. It has a vast market for its own produce if only it can train Africans to their proper jobs. I am not one of the critics of what the Federation is doing. It is doing marvellous things, especially in education, technical and otherwise. It is teaching Africans to do things, and to have ambition for a bigger and better standard of living.
I hope that we shall give the Federation every assistance to develop its wonderful country. It will certainly go ahead, and if it does not get assistance from us it may recruit from the continent of Europe and other parts of the world where skilled labour is available. Quite recently, a representative of industry from Rhodesia was here to recruit industry into the Federation, and he was reasonably successful.
On the subject of spreading our population, I recall that about ten years ago the Chiefs of Staff advised the Prime Ministers' Conference of the importance of the dispersal of population and industrial plant. If that advice was right ten years ago, how much more right it is today. Let us not deceive ourselves by thinking that we can spend vast sums of money on the defence of this country and so protect ourselves from attack. We are quite helpless, and if we were cut off from oil we could not survive for many weeks. The idea that we have a life-line through the Mediterranean has been rather debunked recently. It is now more like a death-trap than a life-line.
These matters should be looked into. In view of the vast expenditure upon undersea craft by those who are supposed to be our potential enemies, how long do we think we could survive in this country if our foodships were sent to the bottom of the sea? This is a matter to which we should give a great deal of attention.
Where is the money to come from? Much of our budgetary surplus of the 566 last two years has been spent upon nonproductive work. I am not suggesting that if we had nothing else to do such work would be unnecessary, but I do not believe in spending vast sums of money on autobalmen or upon pulling down buildings and re-erecting new ones in their place when it is of no economic advantage.
I want to see budgetary surpluses expended throughout the Commonwealth. It has been said that we cannot afford to spend money abroad because of our adverse balance of payments, but I do not understand that argument. If we want to restore a balance of payments, I suggest we adopt the methods of our forefathers of investing money abroad, because that will give us invisible exports such as have sustained us so much in the past. We should reduce extravagant expenditure in central and local government and use the money on things which are more worthwhile.
I know that we cannot reduce taxation to any large extent because it would create inflation, but the State should issue bonds to taxpayers who are paying vast taxes. The money represented by those bonds should be given as a credit to the taxpayers much in the same way as were post-war credits, without the disadvantage which attaches to them. If the money were credited to the taxpayers upon an interest-bearing basis and were repayable after a period of years, we should be doing much more good with the money that we are extracting from the taxpayers than we are doing with it at the present time.
The choice which awaits immediate action is the deployment of our resources throughout the Commonwealth, or disintegration. As a united Commonwealth we can still remain a great world force. I am not one of those who think that we are on the way out. Never in the world's history has there been greater need. We must not take a short-term, parochial view. No matter what controversies exist in our domestic sphere we must, in our external affairs, be a united country. Nothing short of dynamic action can save this country.
§ 12.27 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
The hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) has travelled far and wide. It seems to me that if he had focussed attention on 567 the subject under review rather than looking all round the wicket—in other words, if he had kept his eye on the ball—it might have been to our advantage. I doubt whether any benefit is to be derived from elevating this debate into an academic disquisition. We have to inject a note of realism into it, and not to repeat all the old arguments and remind ourselves of what we all understand very well already. We must try to put into proper perspective this vital matter of Commonwealth relations. I will try to speak in the most forthright fashion about it and I hope that hon. Members will forgive me if I do.
The first thing I say is that the best friends of the British people are to be found in Australia and New Zealand. That is the impression I got on the visit I paid to those territories on behalf of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. I would not dispute for a moment that we have many friends in other parts of the Commonwealth, for example, in Canada. It may be that we have some in India, although the evidence is not always ready to hand. I have no doubt that we have friends in Central Africa and in the adjoining territories but I have never seen, in all my travels, such manifestations of almost exuberant loyalty and affection as were exhibited during my visit. Of course, it had nothing to do with my visit; it was their natural sentiment. As we know, they speak of the "old country" as their home.
I must confess that to my detriment I have taken a casual interest in Commonwealth affairs in the past, but perhaps not so casual as that of many other hon. Members. I recall that during the war we had a debate in this House when we were dealing with the possibilities of post-war reconstruction. As it happened, I was at that time the chairman of the Labour Party's Post-war Reconstruction Committee, which, I should not be surprised, led to that fabulous programme we developed after 1945, and for which we offer no apology.
In the course of a debate on post-war reconstruction, I ventured to offer the opinion that after the war, in the interests of our economy and of Commonwealth relations and, of course, in the interests of the Commonwealth countries, we must 568 create adequate machinery for consultation and for injecting into this sentimental attachment among the Commonwealth partners a note of economic realism. Without economic realism all the talk we have had so far today will make very little difference.
I come at once to what I regard as the kernel of the problem. It was stated, it seemed to me, almost incidentally by the Under Secretary. Hon. Members will recall that the Under Secretary said that Australia had absorbed last year—he will correct me if my figures are wrong—115,000 immigrants, and of that number only one-third had come from the United Kingdom. That is the crux of the problem. Over in Australia and New Zealand, particularly in the Australian States, while they do not resent the incursion of what, for want of a better term, but not a derogatory term, are regarded as foreign migrants—that is to say, migrants from countries other than the United Kingdom—they prefer all the while that the migrants should come from this country. Everywhere, consulting a cross-section of opinion—Premiers of the various States, opposition leaders, Ministers, sheep farmers, industrialists—people I met in the course of my travels said the same. "Send us your people; we want them."
We have disposed, it seems to me, in this day and age of all the old-fashioned arguments about emigration. I read the debate which took place in this House in 1922 and which has been referred to by my right hon. Friend, when the Empire Settlement Act was initiated. The arguments adduced against emigration at that time were that we ought not to use the lash of unemployment to force people to go overseas and that we must not lose our best people—as if, by the way, we have only a minority of the best people. I think that that is denigrating the people of this country. We have many good people. We have a lot of talent and people of high quality in this country. Otherwise, we would never have survived against the hostility of our enemies and the indifference of many of our friends. Those arguments have gone, and I think they have gone forever.
Now we have to consider this question of migration in its proper context. The hon. Member for Leominster was right, at any rate in one of the passages of his 569 speech, as indeed was the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Sir A. Braithwaite) in the excellent speech he made on 30th November. I did not hear that speech, but I read it on my return to this country. Both hon. Members said, as other hon. Members have said, that we must synchronise all the elements of Commonwealth relations. Capital investment cannot be considered in a watertight compartment any more than migration can. They have to be synchronised. There is no use herding a lot of people together, putting them aboard a ship and sending them to Australia. New Zealand, Canada, Rhodesia, or any other country, unless there are industries and agricultural facilities in those countries capable of absorbing them.
What does that denote? It denotes a whole series of problems, the problem of irrigation, which is one of the principal problems confronting people in Australia, but which, in my judgment, is not an insurmountable problem. Someone said that migration is not a matter of finance. Is it not? Irrigation is. The more irrigation we can have the more fertile will soils be, the less difficult will agricultural problems be and the more people will countries be able to absorb. There is something more. What is the use of sending people overseas unless the housing problem there is more satisfactory than it is now? We must synchronise these three elements—capital investment, manpower ready to go and be absorbed, and housing accommodation. We cannot treat these three elements in isolation.
I listened with great interest to the speech of the Under-Secretary, which travelled over a wide field, the speech of my right hon. Friend and the speech of the hon. Member for Leominster. The question is: what is to be done? First, do we believe that our people should go? I will deal with that for a moment. I say, "Yes. As many as want to go." Is that fair? We have no right to keep them.
We can pride ourselves on our high quality in this country. What a fine country it is, what culture, though we have to be careful about that, for, of course, occasionally it is not as cultural as some of us would like it to be. There are black spots, but do not let us say too much about that. This is a fine 570 country, but if people want to go, why should they not go, for adventurous reasons, for economic reasons, for family reasons, or because they have come to the conclusion that they do not want to live here and that conclusion develops from something occasional to something permanent?
The question is whether, if there are people in our country who want to go to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, or the Rhodesias, or elsewhere, we ought to allow them to go in an unplanned, higgledy-piggledy way, left to their own devices and with very limited resources, or whether we ought to plan their going in consultation with the countries concerned as equal partners. There, I come to another element in this situation. Are we equal partners?
I confessed a moment ago that I have exhibited a casual interest in Commonwealth affairs, but it seems to me that that is typical of this country. Overseas they are interested in Commonwealth affairs and, what is more, interested in what is going on in this country far more than we are interested in what is going on over there. It was touching to hear them ask, "How are you getting on over there?" They even asked me questions about the Labour Party and, of course, I gave them very satisfactory answers, as the House may suppose.
Let hon. Members consider this debate. The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations makes a speech. It is very well delivered, as I admit, and I am an authority on the delivery of speeches, but it seemed to me a very Departmental speech. If the hon. Gentleman had said, "Let us forget about the past, our mistakes, our indifference, our casual attitude and the rest. Now we are going to make a job of Commonwealth relations. We mean business. We shall do something about it," it would have been better.
What are we to do? We must establish adequate machinery either in London, Canberra, or wherever one likes, for adequate consultation and not a perfunctory and spasmodic consultation such as we have now. I have attended Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conferences. Although I give no detailed secrets away, I must confess that I have heard more "blah" at those conferences 571 than I have heard even in the House of Commons. There are probably other reasons, but that is the primary reason why people go to these conferences.
That is not what we want. We want a permanent organisation, established in a part of the Commonwealth where all matters relating to Commonwealth affairs of mutual interest are under review. Let us bring in the High Commissioners, the industrialists, members of the Governments concerned with these matters, hon. Members of this House, people from outside, people who are interested in these matters, to offer advice and guidance to a body charged with responsibility for injecting economic and manpower realism into our Commonwealth relations.
I know that even that appears to be a little nebulous. It must be analysed and broken down into its proper parts and proper machinery must be devised and, when it is devised, it must work satisfactorily and all the time. I understand that that is the view of Mr. Holt, and I believe it is the view, though perhaps I have no right to quote him, of Sir Eric Harrison, the new High Commissioner from Australia. It certainly was the view expressed to me by many prominent people in Australia and New Zealand. Our best friends are there. Let us use them. We have not too many friends throughout the world. Let us use them as they are entitled to use us. That is the kind of attitude that we must adopt.
There are difficulties. I admit. I saw them. Let me take one or two examples. I hope that I am not saying what I ought not to say, but I am saying what I believe is right and is the truth. In New South Wales, particularly in Sydney, it occurred to me that Americanisation was creeping in. I saw a great deal of Americanisation there, in architecture, in the appearance of people and their demeanour and general behaviour, in the shops, in the things that one could buy if one had the money—and prices were somewhat high. But there is also British sentiment, and I do not believe that Americanisation and British sentiment will mix too well. We must be careful about that.
In Victoria, it was not quite so obvious and in South Australia not at all and, of course, people in New Zealand are almost exclusively British in outlook 572 and character. In Western Australia the Americans have bought up millions and millions of acres of land at rock-bottom prices. It is not clear what for. I heard that they propose to grow groundnuts, if I may be forgiven for mentioning it. I have no reliable evidence of that. I heard that they intended to grow rice. It may be that they are searching for oil or minerals, but they are after something. The Americans—I mean American industrialists—usually are. If we are not prepared to come in and invest and infiltrate we cannot object to the Americans doing it and, of course, the Australians do not object. They will take capital from any source, naturally, though they prefer it from the United Kingdom.
I know that there is a reply to this single point. I know that at least 65 per cent, of investment in Australia over the past five years came from this country. That is a good percentage, but it could be better still. The Australians like the infiltration of British industrial undertakings with their technical staffs, if at all possible. It is not always easy. For example, we have nothing to do with the motor car industry in Australia. It is under the exclusive control of American firms. I am told that our cars are not always suitable, but I travelled in some of their cars and I did not think that some of them were very suitable either.
We are allowing ourselves to be pushed out of the way. We ought not to allow ourselves to be pushed out. In the interests of our own economy we cannot afford to allow ourselves to be set aside. Something must be done about that. Private interests may be able to find the capital. They can find the capital for many things. I am inclined to think that they are more disposed to find capital for Latin-America occasionally than the capital required in Australia and New Zealand, although, as I admit, a great deal is being done there.
Then there is the question of housing for the migrants. I visited a hostel in Adelaide. I was not invited to go there, but I asked to see it. I was far from happy about it. I spoke to a number of people there and not a single one of them said that he or she disliked Australia. They all liked Australia very much, and no wonder. Who could not? It is a wonderful country with such 573 potentialities and amenities and such fine people, for the most part.
They liked it, but they did not like the accommodation. I was told that it is not desirable to make the hostel accommodation too satisfactory because, otherwise, the migrants would never leave it. I refused to accept that argument. I pointed out that if they wanted the migrants to go, they could eject them if they could find other accommodation. Something must be done about that accommodation and I hope it will be a matter for consultation between the United Kingdom Government, which is one of the partners of the Commonwealth, and the other Governments concerned.
There is so much to say about this matter that perhaps there can be another occasion when we can debate it more fully and deal with it more constructively. Today, I finish on this note. In some parts of Australia I discovered that new colonies are being formed, colonies not of British migrants but of foreign migrants. For instance, there are Italian colonies. As I have said, the Australians have no resentment against Italians coming there but—I do not want to make too much of this—they prefer the British for obvious reasons.
There are also Maltese coming there in large numbers because they are British subjects. Nevertheless, they prefer people from the United Kingdom. There are other foreign migrants coming there, such as the Dutch, in fairly large numbers. They are very tidy, very clean, very industrious. Nevertheless, the Australians prefer British migrants. Now Hungarians are coming there, for reasons we understand. They have come from this country and we have to do something about it. I will tell hon. Members why. Unless we do, I do not believe that the Commonwealth can survive; nor do I think it is possible for this United Kingdom of ours to survive as a great Power in the world.
I am not speaking in a military sense when I say that our survival as a great Power in the economic sphere, in the moral sphere, rests largely on our capacity to inject reality—economic and manpower—into the British Commonwealth of Nations. I think it will be good for us and it will he good for them. There 574 are many reasons why I say that, in particular, the reason given by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leominster, that on the perimeter of the Northern Territory there are hundreds of millions of Asiatics who, one day, may be encouraged to take possession of much of Australian territory and there will be no means of defence, in spite of the linkup with the United States in that sphere.
Speaking with a little knowledge, and quite modestly, of military strategy which I learned as a result of my association with the Ministry of Defence over a period of years, I would go so far as to say that what is called the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact is not worth, for the purpose of the defence of Australia, two pennyworth of gin. I say that quite sincerely. What Australia requires, if ever it should be faced with difficulties such as I have mentioned, and which I am sure must be apparent to the minds of many hon. Members, is population, and a white population if at all possible.
That is how I feel about this matter. I have spoken in the most forthright fashion. There is a great deal more to be said about it. I have said these things because I feel that now is our opportunity. Give us the right machinery, give us adequate consultation, make us feel that we, as a partner in the Commonwealth, are as earnest and as enthusiastic and as loyal to the principles that underlie the British Commonwealth of Nations as any of our partners. Make a beginning in that fashion and I think we have a great opportunity to show tile world that this Commonwealth of Nations is really worth while.
§ 12.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Brian Harrison (Maldon)
Until today I had always thought that I was the great advocate of Australia in this House, but after hearing the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) I realise now that I come a poor second in my desire to put the interests of Australia and the interests of the Commonwealth to the fore. I only hope that when the next Test match series is on I shall get the right hon. Gentleman to give me a little moral support. I agree most emphatically with everything that he has said about the great importance of our setting up an 575 authority or organisation which can attempt to plan the movement of people and capital into the Commonwealth.
I was interested to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Bottomley) being so diffident about the way we could afford to export good people, trained craftsmen, or university trained scientists to the Commonwealth. Surely we must be able to afford to do it, otherwise we have no right to try to remain as the head of the Commonwealth. If we cannot build it up by providing a reservoir of trained people and experts to go out there, then we may as well pack up as a nation here at home.
Although the right hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham is not here now, I want to draw his attention to what his right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), who was previously Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, said in an earlier debate on this subject:We do not regard a person who goes to the Commonwealth as a loss in any sense."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th June, 1950, Vol. 476. c. 99.]I fancy that he said that partly from the experience he gained as he travelled round the Commonwealth, especially in Australia and in New Zealand. As a matter of fact the right hon. Gentleman visited one of the stations in Australia on which I was working with migrants just before I reached it.
We cannot blame the Australian Government or other Commonwealth Governments for wondering rather cynically just how enthusiastic we are on the subject of migration. Periodically, we vote £1½ million to encourage migration and then we spend only about one-tenth of that money each year, or slightly more in one year. They cannot think that we are really sincere in wanting to people the Commonwealth when they see that kind of half-hearted—no, it is only tenth-hearted—enthusiasm and effort from this country.
I am sure that the Australian Government are grateful for the contribution of £150,000 under the previous Act which they received towards the assisted passage scheme, but it is infinitesimal compared with the amount required. To give an example, the rise in shipping costs caused 576 by the upheavals of the Middle East will cost the Australian Government in one year more than the total contribution of the British Government towards that scheme.
Then, when we hear from the Government that they are asking in a desultory fashion whether any Commonwealth Governments have any schemes, we wonder whether this country is meant to be leading the Commonwealth or not. If we are the senior partner, surely it is up to the Government here to take an active lead in this matter, to develop schemes to help the Commonwealth with its population problems, because, I repeat, the people who leave Britain to go out to the Commonwealth are not a loss to this country.
They all help to strengthen the ties between this country and the other parts of the Commonwealth, and, consequently, to increase there sentiment for this country and the markets for this country. I hope that very serious consideration will be given to the scheme for a secretariat, or some such body, to encourage the movement of British migrants into the Commonwealth. The right hon. Gentleman said that Australia preferred British migrants. I can confirm just how correct that is, yet in the first ten years after the war only 48 per cent. of the migrants who went to Australia were British, and in the first nine months of last year the proportion fell to 41 per cent.
Thus, there will gradually grow in Australia those Italian, Dutch and even American colonies. They arc, and they have been, particularly in the northern parts of Queensland, sowing the seeds of future problems in the cane growing areas, where there have been people of other European countries all living together, all speaking their own languages. Unless we are able to provide people to counteract this quiet colonising that is going on, we shall help to sow the seeds of all sorts of future problems there.
I should like for a moment to look at the defence aspect. Only last week there were reports in the paper of what N.A.T.O. thinks could happen to this country in the event of a nuclear war. I know that, traditionally, the British people never waver while any danger grows; they never face the realities of a situation when it is going badly. If they did, anyone who was logical would, 577 I think, have surrendered after Dunkirk. Here, in this country, we are living in the most vulnerable target in nuclear war in the Western Hemisphere, and probably the world.
Although I do not for a moment suggest that we should have mass migration from this country, or that we should encourage people to leave this country through cowardice, I do believe that it is essential that we disperse not only our people but our industrial know-how throughout the Commonwealth, so that should this island suffer grievously in nuclear warfare we shall still have offshoots throughout the Commonwealth of the parent companies. I should like my hon. Friend to consider whether this Bill can be used to assist the dispersal of industry throughout the Commonwealth.
I cite one example of what has been done. A firm called Allied Ironfounders sent out key men to establish a foundry in Victoria, and they have built one which is now producing the products which were previously produced here. They have the most modern foundry in Australia, in the Southern Hemisphere, probably one of the most advanced in the world. I cannot believe that it is a loss to this country that the experts should have volunteered to go out from among the staff of Allied Ironfounders in this country to settle in Australia and set up that foundry. It must be of benefit not only to this country ultimately, but also to the Commonwealth. That is an example of the co-ordination of capital and people which we want to see on a much larger scale, as was suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington.
A word or two has been said about child migration. Without doubt, that is one of the most economic and best ways of providing British settlers throughout the Commonwealth. I can understand that there is natural reluctance amongst people to send children 10,000 or 12,000 miles away from their homes, but I would draw attention to a report on child migration to Australia which was made in 1953 by Mr. John Moss, who was a member at the time of the Care of Children Committee, the Curtis Committee. He said:If members and officers of the Children's Committees had had the same opportunities as my wife and I had of seeing the conditions 578 under which the children were being cared for, the arrangements for their education and further education and placing out for after care, I am sure that they would have no hesitation in helping to fill the vacancies.We should look to the Government to help those voluntary organisations which are at present trying to send children to Australia. But what happens? A fact finding mission was sent out, and it produced a report, which has recently been published. Even the Oversea Migration Board saw fit to condemn the report. I am not surprised, because those people, who, I have no doubt, are very competent in their own sphere, decided, after studying the problems of child migration to Australia, that theydid not regard the measure of success in after life as having a direct bearingon theirconsideration of arrangements for the reception and upbringing of migrant children.Surely that is the key to child migration. I hope that the Government will not pay undue attention to that report, although where there are improvements for the children that could be suggested I hope that care will be taken to see that the Australian Government are fully aware of them.
I welcome the reference which the Under-Secretary of State made to the Big Brotherhood Movement, because when I was working with migrants in an area where there was a number of youths who had left this country when they were between 16 and 18 years of age I heard the success stories of some of those boys, and some of them are quite extraordinary. A number of them who have been sent out since the end of the war are now farming on their own properties or are share-farming, which is the Australian form of tenant farming. I think that that is a form of child migration which will do well and should be assisted to the absolute maximum.
There has been a call for a really bold and positive policy about this problem, and I hope that everything possible will be done so that when this debate is over Her Majesty's Government will give a lead to encourage the Commonwealth to take more of our citizens and to encourage the movement of both people and capital. I hope that encouragement will be given, including financial 579 assistance or tax concessions, to industry to go with the people, and I hope that everything possible will be done, as positively as possible, to help the voluntary societies with their child migration.
This Bill is in itself a sound Measure, but its effectiveness will depend on how it is administered and on other Measures which the Government introduce to further the cause of migration. I hope that it will be administered with drive and imagination, because it was said a long time ago in this House that a great Empire—we have used the word "Commonwealth"—and little minds go ill together. Now is the time when we need some imaginative co-ordination in the efforts to set the Commonwealth along a new path.
§ 1.12 p.m.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
I should like, first, to add my congratulations to the Under-Secretary of State on having been translated from the Post Office to the Commonwealth. He will have immense opportunities in his new job for exercising his talents. The hon. Gentleman should welcome this discussion, because it shows that we are all interested in one of the tasks which he has to perform—the task of helping to forward a bold policy of emigration. If, in the course of my remarks, I say one or two things which give rise to a little doubt here and there, I hope he will realise that they are made only with a view to making any plans which we may have a little more definite and ensuring that they do not go awry.
Let us consider, first, the type of emigrant. My right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) said, "As many as want to go should go." There I am inclined to agree with him, but we want to be certain that they know what they are going to. One subject which we must consider, even if it is rather a painful subject, is the number of those who have gone out to the Dominions, have found things there not as they expected, and have returned. I hope that if the Minister is to reply to the debate he will tell us the number who have returned, so that we know the net emigration figures.
It is of the utmost importance that people should know what they are going 580 to. Everything should be explained to them in advance. They should not subsequently have a feeling of frustration, which many may have had when they arrived and found that all was not as they had expected. This is no disrespect to any of the Dominions, but simply arises from the fact that people go out to the Commonwealth with too rosy a picture. Even if the country is a very fine country it may not be as fine as they expected, or there may not be the opportunities for them which they had expected to find.
In spite of what has been said by some hon. Members, I think we should also look carefully at the people we are sending out in order to make certain that we do not send only the best. I agree that there are a large number of people we can send out and that there are many best "in this country, but, at the same time, we do not want to send only the youngest, the best and the most trained, leaving at home a nation composed largely of old-age pensioners. I agree that the numbers which we are considering today obviously would not bring about any result remotely like that, but I think we should say to the countries in the Commonwealth which are receiving our emigrants that we should like them if possible, to take a fairly good cross-section of people of all ages and skills. Naturally, they want the most skilled and the youngest, but it is up to us to plan together and to see that we have a balanced emigration and not an emigration of only one particular type.
I agree with hon. Members who have said that when these people emigrate it is not our loss but our gain in so far as they help to develop the Commonwealth, but it will be our gain in the future only if emigration is properly planned, and I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington made this point so thoughtfully in his speech. We have not only to send people, but we have also to see that finance is available for the development to take place when they get out to the countries of the Commonwealth.
I can speak with a "vast" knowledge of Australia, because I was once there for two days. One thing that impressed me in my short stay was this: not unnaturally, I spent a considerable amount of that time in Sydney, and when I thought of the call for people to go to 581 the wide open spaces, I looked at the wide open spaces of Sydney. I have seen the wide open spaces of Montreal, and there are wide open spaces I have not seen in Auckland. We should appeal to the Governments to whom the emigrants are going to do their utmost, as I know they would like to do, to spread them further from these very small and densely populated areas and to see that they help to develop the land to which they have emigrated.
If this is to be done, we must help with finance. A short time ago we considered a Bill to lend money to certain Colonies. We considered whether or not it was desirable that the Colonial Development Corporation should be expanded in some way so that it could lend money to the free Dominions of the Commonwealth as well as to the Colonies or whether some other organisation should be set up to do this. It is of the greatest importance that we should plan some financial development so that as these people emigrate to the Commonwealth resources are available with which they can be met. We do not want to send them out only to factories. We want to see them, above all, go out to develop the land.
I think it was the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. B. Harrison) who said that the Americans were developing a large part of Western Australia. Obviously, it is better that it should be developed by somebody than not developed at all, but how very much better still would it be if we could say that we were doing it and were undertaking the necessary surveys into the land and into the geology which are so badly needed in many parts of the Commonwealth. The record of surveying in the Commonwealth is far below that in the United States, let alone that in this country, and it is of the utmost importance that surveys of water, land and minerals should be made.
We must do our part in carrying these out, but this can be done only if we are willing to put aside some of our resources for this development. As hon. Members know, the Labour Party has proposed that we should set aside a definite sum of money each year for the development of areas outside this country which need development and which have not been developed. We were thinking, in the main, of the poorer countries, such as India and Pakistan, but the same thing 582 applies to development in the richer countries, such as Australia. New Zealand and Canada.
I hope that we shall provide the finance for this development, and that, at the same time, we shall at last begin to have some kind of plan and shall not leave it all to chance. I hope that we shall not merely say, "We are a great nation who send people out to build up the Commonwealth." Of course we have fine people who emigrate and do very fine work, and we are very proud of them; but we want to help them and not merely to praise them. We can do that only by having a co-ordinated plan with the rest of the Commonwealth countries concerned.
This is a small Bill, but it is a Bill which we all welcome. It will give to many people a new and a fruitful life and, in addition, it will help to spread the British way of life throughout the Commonwealth.
§ 1.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Fisher (Surbiton)
I am very glad indeed to have the opportunity of following the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) and still more glad that we have his influential support as a former Minister of State who had a two days' stay in Australia. I am also glad that we have the weighty and influential support of the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) after his much longer stay there.
It is a very good thing that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite should visit different parts of the Commonwealth. I have always had the impression that on this side of the House we are instinctively Empire-minded, but it is more important that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, who do not have that instinct about the Empire, have, nevertheless, returned from visits to it as most enthusiastic supporters and advocates.
We all feel that Britain has had much reason to be grateful in two world wars to the pioneers who went out generations ago, mostly completely voluntarily, and whose descendants returned in our times of need to defend not only our own shores, but the European civilisation from which they sprang. Indeed, the whole world should be grateful to the British Empire—as I still like to call it—for the really remarkable development 583 of great natural resources which has come about through the efforts, enterprise and, indeed, sacrifice of men and women of British stock.
Those resources are, of course, still only partially developed and the potential in most Commonwealth territories is still amazing. Who would have believed, 200 years ago, that the United States of America, then a small and relatively unimportant Colony, could, in that period of time, become the leader of the free world and possess the enormous wealth and influence in the world which she has today? In Canada and Australia, that same potential exists today.
We are today considering whether, and, if so, how, we are to play our proper part in the great development which is certain to take place in those countries over the years. How are we, who are still the leaders of this Empire, from this densely populated and very vulnerable motherland, to help our great overseas partners to fulfil their own destiny? That is what they want us to do and that is what we want to do. They must have men and women, and, above all, they want men and women of British stock—if they can possibly get them. From their point of view, men and women of British blood are the most valuable import they can possibly receive from these islands.
Many people want to go. Literally hundreds of thousands of inquiries are received every day and, as the newspapers have told us, there are queues outside immigration offices. That is the position as we debate this topic this afternoon. The Commonwealth wants, needs, and, indeed, must have people of British stock. We have the people here who want to go.
I am very glad that the strategic point of view of this topic has been developed, because from that standpoint, also, emigration should be encouraged. In Britain, we are dangerously over-centralised in this nuclear age. Our industry is over-centralised. This centralisation, which, a hundred years ago, may have been an asset, is today a danger. If nuclear war should ever come, it would be too late then to think about evacuating British industry and British people, because any form of evacuation, any migration, must necessarily be gradual; it must be planned and put into practice well beforehand.
584 The very survival of our Empire might depend upon a degree of redistribution of its population. Not only are we extremely vulnerable because of our large numbers in a small area, but many Commonwealth countries are equally vulnerable because of their small numbers in a large area. The strategic insecurity of an enormous coastline, such as in Australia, coupled with a vast, uninhabited interior, was much felt in Australia in the last war.
History has often shown us that large areas of undeveloped and potentially fertile land can be a quite sinister temptation to possibly hostile States, themselves perhaps over-populated and somewhat aggressively inclined. Migration on any scale, of course, means an economic sacrifice for the United Kingdom. That must be agreed, but it may be the economic and the strategic salvation of the rest of the Commonwealth. With their enormous natural resources, Canada and Australia have to develop their own great industrial future and we should help them to do that.
Since the war individuals and families have emigrated, but there has been no major Government scheme, no real migration of industry. The Government could and should help to encourage that much more than they have done in the past. It may be that the right method would be by tax concessions and inducements of various kinds. It is certain that an imaginative policy of capital investment in the Commonwealth is absolutely essential, and perhaps a combination of both these methods would be best.
It is essential that we should play our part in the production of new wealth in our own Empire. I absolutely agree with the right hon. Member for Easington. I do not want to see America reap the rewards of the much needed capital investment which will be provided by others if we do not provide it ourselves. By all means let America help. We are all very anxious that she should. Our own resources are limited, but we must make our contribution, not only a contribution of British men and women to go out to these countries to work, but a contribution which I think is more important—of work creators, the money to build new businesses and the men of enterprise who will build them. That, 585 above all else, is the contribution we want to make.
It has been said again and again in this debate that the flow of migrants and capital at any one particular time must not exceed what we can afford to spare at that time, or what the Commonwealth countries can conveniently absorb. However, at present only about 120,000 people a year are emigrating from Great Britain. I judge that we could afford to lose, and the Commonwealth could conveniently absorb, a good many more than that—200,000 a year would not be unreasonable. And if we can increase the number going from this country, the Commonwealth would also take a large number of other Europeans, whom they could much more readily absorb if there was a sound and solid British base from which to expand.
Canada has already generously agreed to take 5,000 Hungarian refugees. If Australia can get 60,000 or 70,000 British people every year, she will take as many again from other European countries; and many of these unhappy, unwanted refugees, these miserable people from Europe, will be able to build a new life in a free and prosperous land. In the United Kingdom, if we send out those of our own blood, we can take in more Europeans and West Indians. Of course, there are many difficulties. The needs and views of the different receiving Governments are widely divergent.
Bilateral arrangements between the United Kingdom and the individual Commonwealth countries is probably the only way of making progress. Another difficulty is lack of shipping, which is one of the bottle-necks, especially now because of Suez. There are several difficulties about shipping, because from the shipping point of view the best time is in the winter, which is the non-tourist season, but that is the worst time of the year for immigrants to arrive in Canada. Hungarian refugees accepted for Canada cannot proceed there until the spring, because until then there will not be sufficient employment for them.
As the right hon. Member for Easing-ton said, there are also serious housing difficulties, particularly in Australia and New Zealand, but I am sure that this and other mechanical difficulties can be overcome. 586 There is an identity of view among hon. Members on both sides of the House in this matter; we all have the same objects in view, and it should not be beyond the wit and wisdom of statesmanship to devise the means if we are all agreed as to the end.
There is one important point of policy upon which I should like to touch very briefly, namely, the age group issue, which has already been referred to. Clearly, we cannot unbalance our own population by exporting only the young, fit and active. In theory, at least, the Commonwealth countries reailse that. In theory, at any rate, they agree to take a cross-section of ages and occupations in family units. But in practice, up to now, as I understand, too large a proportion of our young people is going out, probably because of the rather haphazard way in which migration has been allowed to develop so far.
I should like to see the Government take the initiative to secure full agreement—if agreement is lacking at present—upon this rather important aspect of the matter and, having done so, to do everything possible to implement a real migration policy by means of tax inducements and capital investments. We are still the leading nation of the Commonwealth, and we must give the lead in migration as well as in other things. I cannot help having the uncomfortable feeling that, so far, we have scarcely been more than spectators of this policy. Our attitude has been one of benevolent neutrality.
I should like the Government to show much more enthusiasm. Lip-service to the idea is very different from executive action to implement it. I do not suggest that the spending of more money upon assisted passages would be a solution. Canada. South Africa and New Zealand finance their own Assisted Passage Schemes, and the £150,000 a year that we provide is, in effect, simply a gift from the United Kingdom Government to the Australian Government. It would seem to make very little difference to the individual migrant going out, or to the numbers going out, whether we give that money or not. I would much sooner spend the £1½ million each year that we hope to spend—and much more, if it were possible—upon capital investment and tax concessions. I believe that we 587 should get far more worthwhile results from a policy developed upon those lines.
We all know that there are very serious difficulties; we have discussed them today. But when all those difficulties and obstacles have been stated and argued there remains the one salient fact that we, in this small island, are over-industrialised and over-populated, whereas the Commonwealth countries are under-industrialised and under-populated. We have the same ideals, the same blood and the same way of life, and if those ideals and that way of life are to survive we must help each other to redress this unbalance which exists. We must build, upon new and imaginative lines, a more secure and a greater Empire than even we have yet created.
§ 1.34 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)
By now the Minister must be almost weary of the congratulations which have been showered upon him. I should like to add to them, however, because although he and I, being upon opposite sides of the House, have often been in vigorous opposition to each other—and I have not the least doubt that that situation will continue—I recognise that there are few people upon the Conservative benches who, by the devotion they have given to the subject of Commonwealth relations, more deserve the honour which he has received than does the Minister.
First, I should like to join with my right hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Bottomley) in urging the Government to reconsider the Title of the Bill. Such a Title was appropriate to the period when the first Bill was introduced, but it is quite inappropriate today. Its main purpose is to assist the Dominions and the nations of the Commonwealth, and in almost every one of those nations today there would be resentment at being regarded as part of the British Empire, in contrast to the equal partnership which exists in the Commonwealth. I imagine that the Title is retained merely out of tradition, and I would ask the Minister to consider whether he cannot change it so that it may be brought into accord with the circumstances of the present time.
588 Hon. Members on both sides of the House have referred to the limited scope of the Bill. It is limited not merely in scope; it is very limited in practice. The total amount which the Bill allows to be expended in any one year is the small sum of £1½ million. Yet, from the Financial and Explanatory Memorandum, we see that in the last five years the sum allowed for one year has not yet been reached. The total spent over five years is only £862,618. I join with other hon. Members in urging that the full possibilities of the Bill should be utilised.
The main purpose of the Bill is to assist emigration to the Dominions; principally to Australia, Canada and New Zealand. There is the greatest desire among hon. Members on both sides of the House to develop British and European migration to those territories, but I hope that even there thought will continue to be given to the original inhabitants—the aborigines of Australia, the Red Indians of Canada; and the Maoris of New Zealand—although we recognise that they are now large white-governing Dominions.
The Bill has also been utilised in the case of Southern Rhodesia as I stated in an earlier intervention.
§ Mr. Alport
As I promised the hon. Member to look into this point, perhaps I may intervene now. I think that both the hon. Member and I could claim to be morally right upon the matter. The previous Act extends to Southern Rhodesia, but it has not been used for assisted passages, although a grant has been made to the Fairbridge Society for the migration of children to Southern Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Brockway
I did not intend to score a debating point over the hon. Member; I appreciate that he has only recently come to office. Before the debate, however, I took the trouble to contact the Commonwealth Relations Office, and I have since referred the matter again to that Office, and the library has been good enough to send me a mountain of volumes. I warn hon. Members as they leave the House to be careful not to trip over it. I think he will find from these volumes that this Bill has been used for Southern Rhodesia even to a greater extent that his reply now indicates. He will 589 find Civil Estimates from the year 1949 to last year, and I would draw his attention to them.
I take one example—1952–53—where he will find, in page 69 of the Estimates for Overseas Services, the heading "Empire Settlement Acts, 1922 and 1937", and he will see underneath that heading, "Assisted Passage Settlement and Migration." In the following page, he will find details of these schemes, and he will see there that the countries which received help are listed. He will find from these particulars that it is not only a matter of settlement schemes, but that it is also a matter of assistance to migrants. For example, in the volume which I now hold in my hand, I find reference to grants payable under schemes of voluntary assistance in connection with the reception, maintenance, and settlement of children in Canada. Australia and Southern Rhodesia amounting to £33.000.
I am not wishing to make a great point of that. The matter which I want particularly to raise is this. What power has been used under this Act for this purpose? Has Southern Rhodesia been regarded as an overseas Dominion, or has the power of the Order in Council been used to extend the Act to Southern Rhodesia? Perhaps the Under-Secretary can give me a reply to that, because it is exceedingly important from a constitutional standpoint that in a Bill dealing with overseas Dominions, Southern Rhodesia should not be included while it it is not recognised in other matters as a Dominion overseas.
There is in Section 2 of the original Act a power to extend grants to any territory under Her Majesty's protection or mandate, and it is with that power particularly that I want to deal. This Clause enormously extends the scope of this Measure. It means that this Bill could apply to any Colony, any Protectorate or any Trusteeship territories. A previous speaker from the Government benches, I think the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin), drew attention to a speech by Mr. Holt, and I think that the Minister did as well.
In that speech great emphasis is laid on the need to extend migration to the Rhodesias and Kenya, and under Clause 2 of this Bill the Minister would have the right to do that if an Order in Council 590 is introduced. I recognise that that would be valuable in certain cases, but I also want to emphasise that it might be a danger in other cases, because British settlements in Central and East Africa are now becoming a very controversial issue. There is already enough race feeling there, and I hope that this Bill will not be utilised to encourage a form of settlement which may extend the conflict between the black and white races.
Broadly, the Europeans of Rhodesia, and Kenya want an extension of European migration. The African and indigenous populations want a limitation of it. How serious that issue is was illustrated in the attention given to it by the East African Royal Commission, which made certain recommendations which I hope the Minister will bear in mind before he utilises this Bill for this purpose. They were that control should be governed by the interests of the territory as a whole and not designed to protect sectional interests, and that the financial provisions governing emigration should be reviewed so as not to exclude men of skill and men of enterprise.
The opposition which comes in these territories to British migration is largely in relation to land ownership, but also to the proportion of Europeans who are now being engaged in industry. It is very extraordinary that, despite the apartheid policy in the Union of South Africa, the proportion of Europeans to Africans in the Copperbelt and in other industries in the Rhodesias is actually larger than it is in Johannesburg itself. There is a good deal of feeling on that matter, and I do urge the Minister to be very cautious indeed before he encourages a British migration which might cause resentment among the African population.
The Minister has the advantage of being familiar with the situation in Kenya, and particularly with the problem of the White Highlands. I say to him that it would be absolutely disastrous to good feeling in Kenya if this Bill were to be used under Section 2 of the original Act to encourage further European landowning settlers in Kenya. The Minister is aware of the depth of this controversy. On the great spacious farms of the white settlers, even including the African labourers, the average population is only between 30 and 40 per square mile, while 591 across the road in the Kikuyu Reserve there is overcrowding and land hunger and between 600 and 1,000 people per square mile. I beg of him not to use this Bill in order to encourage European settlement for landowning purposes in that Colony.
§ Major Patrick Wall (Hull, Haltemprice)
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that the European settlers he is now denigrating have done more to improve the economy and the standard of living of all the Colony than any other section of the population?
§ Mr. Brockway
I was not arguing that point. I was arguing very definitely that it would be a great mistake to use this Bill at this stage for extending the landowning European population either in East or Central Africa, because the effect will be disastrous on race relations there.
The last point I want to make is that I recognise that even in these territories this Bill could be usefully used. They are in urgent need of technicians, and they are in urgent need of teachers. There is the possibility of the development of the co-operative movement there, with technical advice from those who have been engaged in the co-operative movement here; the possibilities of the development of trade unionism in the African population, with some help and advice from those who have had experience here. All these things are tremendously important.
I should like to endorse the plea which was made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Chatham that, if British and European migration is to take place within these territories, it should be with the consent of the people of those territories. When one speaks of the people one is not speaking merely of the numerically insignificant European population. One is speaking of the consent of all the peoples of those territories, where the great mass of the people is the African community. I would say from my knowledge that they would welcome technicians, teachers and those who would assist them in the development of the co-operative and trade union movements if such persons would come to their territory without the feeling of racial superiority and in a spirit of service. I hope that the Minister will utilise this 592 Bill to enable that contribution to he made to the territories.
None of us who has any knowledge of East and Central Africa today can have his mind completely clear of fear of the danger of race antagonisms arising. The Secretary of State for the Colonies has just visited Central Africa and must have become very much aware of the attitude of the African populations in Nyasaland and in Northern Rhodesia, where a black nationalism is arising. The Minister must be careful not to use this Bill in a way that is going to feed racial antagonisms.
Those of us who speak in this way are often criticised as being pro-African and as able to see only the African side of these issues. I ask right hon. and hon. Members opposite to believe that we are not pro-African; we are pro-human. If there is to be a human society in Africa in which there is racial co-operation, it must be based on justice and on human equality, and must not be based upon European domination, either political or economic.
In order to prevent disaster from coming to East and Central Africa, I ask the Minister to be careful not to use the Bill in a way which will intensify opposition from the great African populations or which will strengthen the economic power of the settlers and of the European communities there.
§ 1.53 p.m.
§ Mr. W. T. Aitken (Bury St. Edmunds)
I do not think that either of the hon. 'Members who have been here during most of the debate and who, like myself have had the privilege of serving on the Overseas Migration Board has any doubts of the importance and urgency of this whole question of migration. I wonder if people realise just exactly what is happening. Since the end of the war more people have left this country than are represented by the whole population of Sheffield and Manchester.
Some 1,300,000 new Canadians have entered Canada since the war. One in every dozen new Canadians one meets in the streets of Canada is a new Canadian. In Australia, one in every, nine Australians one meets is a new Australian. Every one of these people is pretty well hand picked, although in many ways there is, perhaps, more of a cross-section than we generally realise. 593 But, by and large, every one of these new citizens of Canada, Australia and New Zealand and other Commonwealth territories are pretty well hand-picked people.
It does not take very much imagination to realise what a tremendous impact 1,300,000 people can have on a place like Canada and 1 million people, half of them British, can have on a place like Australia. So important is this impact that the Australian and Canadian Governments have put one of their Ministers in charge of migration and citizenship. In fact, they have made them Cabinet Ministers. The result is that a very great deal is known about migration, the kind of people who are coming to Canada and Australia, what they do when they get there, what sort of lives they lead and what is their background in this country. The whole sociological effect of this is pretty thoroughly understood in these countries.
One of the things that has come out of this debate—and those of us who have served on the Overseas Migration Board certainly realise this—is that we here do not know very much about it. The immense human problem involved and the effects which this emigration may be having and could have on this country are really not as yet very clearly appreciated. One of the reasons for this is, of course, that almost as many people have come into Britain since the end of the war as have left it. That has pretty well masked the effect of this exodus. But one thing which I think we can assume is that the intake is certainly not of as high a quality as that represented by the outgoing people.
There is plenty of room for argument and discussion about over and under-population, about child emigration and about what the Home Office should do concerning it, and so on. What is needed is a much better statistical and sociological survey of these things. That is one of the reasons why the Overseas Migration Board was set up, and one of the things it sets out to do. One thing is quite clear, and I think everyone would agree with it. It is our duty in Britain today to do the very best we can to meet the requirements of the Commonwealth for British migrants in so far as the overall position and the general situation permits.
594 The Overseas Migration Board has put forward some recommendations which I hope and believe—knowing my right hon. Friend and his knowledge and understanding of these things—will be accepted, but I hope they will only be accepted as the very beginning of a much more dynamic and constructive attitude towards migration.
It is clear that the things we are now discussing only concern the countries who are pursuing an active immigration policy and to whom most of our emigrants will go in the next few years. As far as the Overseas Emigration Board has been able to assess these things on past records, and so on, it is anticipated that this country can afford to consent to the emigration of between 150,000 and 200,000 people a year. That is a good deal more than the number that has been going since the end of the war. The gross emigration figures show an average of 124,000 since 1948, and the average requirements of the Commonwealth will probably be about 50,000 more than that year by year. This country can afford to encourage that extra number of people to emigrate and assist in the development of the other Commonwealth countries because this is a country of immigration as well as a country of emigration, so it all looks pretty cosy. The Commonwealth countries want up to 200,000 people a year and the Overseas Migration Board says that this country ought to be able to meet that demand. Although I hope that the Government will accept these recommendations—and I take my share of responsibility for making them—I do not think there is anything very cosy about it. If they are really to get down to this business, which is of such immense importance to this country in the future as well as now, the Government must regard this as the beginning of a real policy of overseas settlement.
There are two kinds of emigrants from this country. There is the kind referred to by my hon. Friend when he mentioned his grandfather. My grandfather was one of that kind too. In places like Canada or Australia their main capital was their hands, brains and skill; and most of them made good use of it. But there is the kind of emigrant who takes something in addition to that. I think—I am weighing my words fairly carefully—that under present conditions there is a limit to the numbers of the first kind 595 of emigrant that this country can spare; the figure may be more than 200,000, it may be less. But there is no such limit to the second kind. I propose to elaborate a little the nature of this second kind of emigrant.
Let me give a not entirely hypothetical example of three young men who left this country for Canada not long ago. They went out to start a business which was financed by their friends and associates in this country. They started the business all right. It was a sound business and it was a good idea. Last year they did something which it is possible to do in Canada, but it cannot be done so easily in India or Pakistan or other parts of the Commonwealth; it is something which we should consider carefully when thinking about this second kind of emigrant. They raised part of their finance in Canada. Let us take the figure of £300,000, which is, roughly, the figure they required. They raised over half of that money in bonds issued in Canada.
Investors in Canada are partial to first charges. In fact, the Canadian Government were concerned about that a few years ago and had to give special Income Tax inducements to get people to go into equities. In this case the equity was provided from this country, the ordinary share capital. Last year the company earned a profit on the 120,000 dollars of ordinary share capital. After payment of bond interest and amortisation, it earned 30,000 dollars, that is about 25 per cent., on the share capital invested in Canada by people in this country—with, of course. Treasury consent.
What are those three young men doing in Canada? First, they are earning salaries for themselves. They took their families to Canada, and in one case their parents as well. In addition to earning their salaries, they earned for this country 25 per cent. on the British capital invested in their business. Is this kind of emigration bad for Britain? Should there be any limit—keeping in mind our financial resources—to this kind of emigration? Most assuredly not. These men not only earn salaries and provide dividends for the investors in their business, but they have helped to relieve the housing problem here by vacating some houses. They have relieved our schools or a tiny bit of extra pressure. They do 596 not use petrol in this country; our roads are not so crowded and there are at least two old-age pensioners who are no longer a charge on the resources of this country, and they are making a handsome contribution toward solving our dollar problems.
These men did a bit of good for Canada too, because they started a new business there. They created jobs for Canadians. I picked up a cutting, quite by accident, before I came into this debate. It is from the Financial Post in Canada and gives an example of this sort of thing. The heading is, "U.K. emigrants-cum-plants in Milton, Ontario." It describes another type of investment, where a whole factory has moved out to Milton, Ontario, with a number of British employees, and will require an even larger number of Canadian employees. This is a real example of how a group of emigrants have provided a stimulus to Canada.
They are doing more. They are contributing something to the economy of this country as well. There is plenty of land, coal, electricity and fuel in Canada, and everyone desires to encourage the consumption of those things. In this country we do not encourage the consumption of too much coal or electricity, and I think the Government would like to see some reduction in the importation of food into this country. What we want, therefore, is the highest proportion of possible emigrants from this country in that second category.
I was interested when the Minister said that if by any lubricant and stimulus this could be done, he would be receptive to the idea. What is the first and most important incentive? It has been referred to twice by hon. Friends of mine who have spoken; it is the tax incentive. The first Minister for Commonwealth Relations with enough "fire in his belly" and stoutness of heart to tackle the Treasury on this issue will do a great job for Britain. The question of taxation has been a great stumbling block for years. I made a suggestion about it in my maiden speech some years ago, and I was not entirely astonished or surprised at receiving the answer that it was administratively impossible to do anything about it.
I do not believe that it is impossible to provide the kind of tax incentive 597 necessary to stimulate an increase in the numbers of this second category of emigrants. I would say to our friends in the Commonwealth that we, too, have an emigration policy; that we have a policy which is not, as at present, a negative one of saying that we are not going to hinder anybody from emigrating, but a positive one of deliberately encouraging anyone who wishes to expand his business overseas and who is willing to take a good proportion of British emigrants with him. He will get every possible encouragement and incentive from this Government.
How can this be done? The basic thing is tax concession. The great incentive is that one gets a bit of tax taken off. That is the basic thing which must be achieved first. Then there is the vital question of money. We know perfectly well how limited are our resources for overseas investment. I am not too far wrong perhaps if I say that there may he something around £150 million available for overseas investment in the next year and the year after.
Of course, a great deal of this must go to very deserving projects that we already have; C.D.C. schemes and other schemes in the under-developed parts of the Commonwealth. But some of it, for reasons which I will give, should be earmarked for this kind of Commonwealth development. This combination of men and money is the finest investment combination in the world. It is much better than just money. But there is another reason why this kind of investment is the most fruitful one today in the particular parts of the Commonwealth which I have in mind.
Let us take Australia and Canada as examples. In both those countries they are creating new capital. There is not much available for investment overseas, because they have so many things of their own in which to invest their money. But they are often only too delighted to invest in new projects brought to their country, and therefore, the money of the overseas investors can he made to work two or three times as hard if it is geared up in this way. This is a common practice which those of us in business overseas are quite familiar with. People borrow part of the money in the country in which they are investing to the great advantage of lender and borrower alike.
598 That could be explored at inter-Commonwealth Government level—I think with great advantage to everybody concerned. I could not agree more with what was said by the right hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Bottomley) when he advocated a plan. If ever there was a case for planning it is here. We are not so afraid of the word "planning" as some people might think. This presents a good case for a concerted plan between Governments. I am quite sure that it is in the interests of these countries to do that. A joint plan for the pumping in of men and money would, I am sure, be very well received indeed, because there is certainly no form of investment more to the advantage of places like Canada than this.
The Bill we are debating authorises the Commonwealth Relations Office to spend up to £1½ million a year on assisting migration. We are renewing a previous Bill. The only word that I can find to describe that previous Measure is that it was completely "phoney". Already it has been pointed out that only just over 10 per cent. of the money available for that five years was actually spent, and some of that in my view was misspent.
I refer to the £150,000 a year contribution to the assisted passage scheme to Australia. In some ways it was a good gesture. It was a token of goodwill to Australia, who was spending many times that amount on like assisted passages, but I do not think that it was a very productive way of spending that money. I should like that £150,000 to be withdrawn this year, or perhaps next year; but I should like to see the sum of £150,000 earmarked for Australia in other ways.
The annual £1,500,000 we are voting in this bill could finance a nice little pilot scheme for Commonwealth development policy involving both men and money. Lots of things can be done to help migrants which would be profitable to this country. The Dutch make a practice of financing the purchase of houses for their migrants overseas. Why cannot we consider financing, or assisting or encouraging the finance of, a building society? There are no building societies in Canada. The financing of housing is done mainly through the banks.
599 Why cannot we do something like that and help migrants to buy their own houses, lending them the money so that the interest comes back here and eventually the principal too? Why cannot we find a way of encouraging our own building societies to get going on this, perhaps in co-operation with some of the British construction companies which are already working overseas? Messrs. Wimpey and some of the other big firms like Taylor Woodrow are building factories and houses in Canada. Why cannot we help them to get some of this business? Over the next five years this sum of £½ million for overseas settlement is quite a respectable one, especially if it is geared up, which can be done in countries like New Zealand, Australia and Canada. That would not only help overseas settlement it would be profitable too!
There is nothing very radical about this suggestion that we should, as a matter of deliberate policy, promote the deployment of men and money overseas. It has been done by enterprising people in this country for generations and a fine job they made of it. All I am asking the Government to do is to speed up the process so that the highest possible percentage of our emigrants will be people whose going will not only benefit the country receiving them but their own Motherland as well. There is a very large lacuna in all this business of migration; there is a lot that we do not yet know. The Royal Commission on population produced some most interesting figures, but that was 10 years ago and the facts have not quite borne out its estimate on emigration. It is time for us again to make a careful examination of the whole of our population problem.
I am sure that if that is done people will realise just how important migration is both in and out of the House of Commons, here as it is in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. When we get the facts in our minds we will evolve a policy, and one which we can all agree on.
There is no need for me to expatiate on the immense possibilities for development in these countries. They are known to every hon. Member. I believe that we must expand beyond our borders or die. I do not believe that we can go on as we are doing, unless we adopt some 600 policy to accelerate this rate of expansion. We must expand. I believe that dynamic forward thinking policy for migration could make a major contribution not only to the economic problems of this country as well as to our strategic and world Power position.
I have some reason to believe that the Minister is receptive to these ideas and that we can get down to it and, over the next year, perhaps, we can hammer out a really virile programme of migration of men, money and machinery to our great Commonwealth.
§ 2.15 p.m.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
I think that I shall be about the fifth successive speaker from this side of the House to congratulate the Under-Secretary on his appointment and to wish him, within the limits of party warfare, good luck in his new office. I have a personal reason for congratulating, because we were together on a Kenya mission some years ago and I know how close his heart is to all these questions of Empire and Commonwealth development. I hope, however, that he will give us in future some less dusty answers than those he gave yesterday at Question Time.
Much of what I wanted to say has been said already. Therefore, I propose merely to pick up three or four points made by previous speakers and comment on them. Like the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Aitken), I am a member of the Oversea Migration Board. I think I am the only member from this side of the House, and I should like to comment on what he said. If we cast our minds back to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway), about the great need for safeguarding the interests of Africans in East and Central Africa in this matter, I think the hon. Gentleman will agree that, as watch dogs on this Board, we should see that the interests of the African peoples are safeguarded.
I do not believe for one moment that the Bill is intended to subsidise the emigration and settlement of white African farmers in, say, Nyasaland. If there were any suggestion of that I should be at the Minister immediately. I want to support what my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough said about this danger of extensive land settlement by 601 Europeans in Africa. We know that 50 per cent. of Southern Rhodesia has been alienated to Europeans for farming, but if this Bill were used in any way—and I do not think it will be—to subsidise settlers in Nyasaland where there are about 4,000 Europeans and perhaps 240 white farmers, it would be dynamite to inject into that supercharged atmosphere a further migration. I utter this caveat in the matter, because I think that there is sufficient land already alienated and there are sufficient farmers there at the moment to maintain a happy balance regarding food production.
I also wish to refer to something else said by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds. I do not think he used the word "meaningless", but I think he meant that when speaking of the Bill. It is a farce to vote £1½ million per year for X years when we spend only £186,000 in the best year. Why do we not spend more? It is no use saying that there is not goodwill in Australia or Canada or even here.
Who are the niggers in the woodpile? I refer hon. Members to page 15 of the Annual Report of the Oversea Migration Board. The Committee of which I have the honour to be a member said that we were spending only £186,000, but of this £150,000 was a token sum to signify the goodwill, the enthusiasm and the intentions of our society here in the United Kingdom to assist in emigration to Australia.
What does this really mean? We shall get as many going out with or without this token sum of £150,000. One may care to ask whether more money can be spent, say £1½ million. We find on page 15 in the second paragraph of the Report these words:In the existing financial circumstances it was impracticable to suggest that any substantial increase in this contribution should be made. In the event of Her Majesty's Government accepting our recommendation their contribution of £150,000 should be continued.Here we are talking lightly not only about £1½ million but about thousands of millions of £s which we would like to see invested overseas.
Here we have a Bill which is somewhat of a sham. We have heard academic talk about £x million being spent when we cannot even get more than £150,000 per annum. We shall have to do some hard 602 thinking and hard pushing and shoving of some financial gentleman somewhere if more money is to be spent. We are literally spending nothing here from Parliamentary funds, yet there are 22,000 people being handled per week by Mr. Cumming and his officials at the Canadian High Commissioner's Office. It is staggering to remember how many people wish to go and will go if they are given the possibility. Australia and New Zealand are taking all they can.
It is not fast a matter of money. An hon. Member has spoken about housing, the social services and schools and hospitals. At the moment, Australia, New Zealand and Canada are taking as many immigrants as they physically can. It is not a question of money but of the physical capacity of the Dominions to absorb 20,000, 50,000 or 250,000. People have talked to me about spending £30 million, but I have said that the money would make little or no difference in helping the Canadians, the Australians and, particularly, the New Zealanders, who will take 20,000 people this year, because they have many jobs for them in the pits. People talk about miners, but we must realise that they have powerful unions. The New Zealand pits have a certain capacity as we have. It is not a matter of money, but of capacity to absorb the number of people here who wish to go.
It is not only a matter of economics or of capital investment, but even more of the psychological climate, so to speak, of industry here. Will firms in the United Kingdom be willing to go to Melbourne with a car factory? The Americans go. We can export factories like the Holden Car Company to Lame in Northern Ireland, but can we export them to New South Wales or to the South Island of New Zealand? That is the best way not merely of getting capital investment but of getting bodies in the technical sense, getting a cross-section over there of our population. I have heard speakers talk about sending a better class, meaning possibly physically, mentally and technically better, but if the young go and leave behind the aged people there will be a further burden upon our social services.
What is left? If we wish to have 500,000 or a million people go to the Dominions, how can they go otherwise than by assistance? There is only one 603 other way. Italy did it. It is to subsidise heavily and to take people out to work in the Dominions as Italy did in Northern Africa. Our people will not do it. They are too well off here because of the Welfare State. People are quite happy to stay in Newcastle or in Essex because they never had a better time. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am talking in the past, present and future. Do not let us be niggling and partisan about this matter. There was a cheap shout from the Government Benches, but there is no doubt that since the war the vast majority of people, including myself, are quite willing to stay in this country and help to make it better. I am only saying that it is difficult to get people to leave full employment by saying what their grandfathers did eighty or ninety years ago. They will not do it. It could be done with peasant populations like that of Ireland in 1840, but today it is difficult to get these large numbers to move. It is not a question of arguing in academic fashion about getting more money to spend, but a much more personal, physical and mechanical matter than just voting money in this House.
I would end by a comment about the Overseas Migration Board. I do not want to be too sophisticated about it. It has a lot more work to do. It feels that it can do much more than it is doing, and in a much bigger way. I sometimes feel it is a bit of a farce to have on the Board men of the calibre of Mr. Roy Harrod, the economist, and Mr. Hulton, the well-known newspaper owner. Men of the highest calibre come along, including a past chairman of the T.U.C. In the past year, much of our time has been given to the laudable work of sending orphans and other youngsters to Australia and elsewhere, but we want to improve on that.
The Minister is our incoming chairman, and I wish him luck when he comes amongst us, I hope with a new mind. I know his interest in the Commonwealth. I hope he will come in and give us more work to do in this connection. I hope that before he gets among us he will consult his Government colleague and particularly those on the Treasury Bench to find out what policy the Government has and what they want us to do. No one seems to know. I hope that the 604 Minister will do some home work among his colleagues in thinking about this policy of exporting 200,000, 250,000 or half a million.
The Minister mentioned "schemes to our mutual advantage". Before he comes among us, will he explore this matter of schemes of mutual advantage with New Zealand, Australia and Canada? There is plenty of good will in this House and in the Commonwealth and Empire. The Minister will be coming among us and we shall wish him well. We hope he will give us some new work in the coming year.
§ 2.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Nicolson (Bournemouth, East and Christchurch)
Both the two last speeches came from members of the Overseas Migration Board. It is interesting to those who are not on the Board to have had an insight into its work.
What surprised me was the enthusiasm of individuals like my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Aitken) and the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson). That enthusiasm does not seem to have spilled over into the Board's report.
I was rather surprised by the passage in the speech of the hon. Member for Rugby, in which he invited the Minister to tell the Board what to do. The Board is an advisory body. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Bottomley) suggested that it should be given more power, but in my view it does not need power because it already has power to influence and advise. If it were possible for the Board, in its next report, to suggest uses to which the money which we are now voting might be put, it would do a service to the country and to the Minister.
§ Mr. J. Johnson
The question I put was: what were these schemes of mutual advantage on which we could get together and talk? I do not know what they are, but, with the inhibitions and terms of reference of the Overseas Migration Board, we cannot discuss them. I am merely asking what ideas the hon. Member has. The Treasury will not give us money: it holds us back.
§ Mr. Nicolson
I am sure that the hon. Member would not suggest that the terms of reference of the Board prohibit it from 605 volunteering suggestions of this nature. I wish to go into the problem, which he also mentioned, of the optimum rate of immigration to the old Dominions and Colonies. That is the central problem we have to face. The purpose of this Bill, I understand, is to establish the maximum sum which this House can be asked to vote during the next five years in the annual Estimates.
What we have not yet been told by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary is how we are to spend, during the next five years, more money than we have spent in the last five years. It would be wrong to part with the Bill until we have a rather clearer indication of what my hon. Friend has in mind. It seems to me that there is no such thing as a migration policy for the Commonwealth. There is an immigration policy for New Zealand, for Australia, South Africa, and for Canada. They are separate and, as it were, form part of the domestic policy of those Dominions, but there is no emigration policy for Britain and no migration policy for the Commonwealth as a whole.
That is rather a pity. I think it is due to an excessive sense of tact. The Commonwealth is being killed by tact, although I can quite understand that a measure of tact is very necessary. It would be wrong to tell these independent countries what number of migrants they should admit in any given year, or what standards of housing they should have, but, from what I have heard and frequently read, they themselves would welcome a lead from this country in establishing a policy which would apply to the Commonwealth as a whole.
I will quote from the First Report of the Overseas Migration Board the following very outspoken expression of opinion, and preface it by saying that the Board interviewed a large number of those spokesmen for the Commonwealth who were in this country at the time of the Coronation. The Report then says:We heard a great deal of frank speaking, especially from Australians, who said that there was an impression that the United Kingdom was not anxious to encourage emigration to the Commonwealth; that the United Kingdom Government, while they did not want to put any obstacle in the way of those who were prepared to go, regarded them, particularly skilled workers, almost as deserters from the home country while she was in difficulties.606 In a later passage the Report made this comment:The Board had assumed that the initiative in migration policy must come from the countries of reception, and that it would be wrong for the United Kingdom to attempt to influence their immigration policies. This was not the view of some of the more influential Ministers with whom we spoke … We should like to place on record their view that for the formulation and execution of migration policies the United Kingdom should be more than a sleeping partner.Is that criticism fair or not? Are we nothing more than a sleeping partner? I fear that unless we soon get down to the business of discussing—of course, as equals—with our partners in the Commonwealth what is the best distribution of our joint populations throughout our territories they will look elsewhere for the new blood that they so urgently need. That is the purport of what Mr. Holt said earlier this week. His speech has been referred to and I wish to quote one sentence from it. He was responding to a call which our Prime Minister made in his broadcast a few days after taking office.
Mr. Holt said:We, the British people,…That is a remarkable phrase with which to open his remarks—cannot plead that we lack the resources for greatness … the fundamental weakness arises from the unbalance which existed because so great a proportion of British manpower and industry was concentrated in a small, highly vulnerable, island.That I take to be yet another indication to our Government to call a conference of those interested in the three main Dominions to discuss what our common migration policy should be. The subject of that conference should be, first, the capacity of each country to absorb migrants and the optimum populations of those different territories.
Many estimates have been made of the ultimate population which Canada. Australia and New Zealand might one day sustain. I will give the House the best estimate on which I have been able to lay my hands. It is that Australia might one day support a population of 25 million, Canada the same and New Zealand 5 million. Those figures, when first I heard of them from an authoritative source, seemed to me rather low. I was surprised, but we should not think in terms of the United States before the 607 days of the great westward treks and in terms of vast continents only awaiting settlers.
We should remember that in Australia there is only a habitable crescent along the east and south-east coast, an "island" around Perth, another around Darwen and the proper island of Tasmania. Even in New Zealand, which most closely reproduces the conditions of the homeland, there are still large areas which are unexplored. In South Africa, apart from the problem of the coloured working class, which forbids immigrants of that type, there is the danger of the constant erosion and advance of the desert. In Canada, even—potentially one of the richest and greatest of all territories in the world—there is really only a habitable band along the United States frontier, which is 3,000 miles long but only 100 miles broad.
According to expert evidence, these territories, even in the long run, cannot support more than the populations I have quoted. Those figures mean, in all, an increase of about 28 million in those four territories over and above existing populations. If it is assumed that 2½ million of those 28 million would come from the natural increase of births over deaths and two-thirds of the remainder were of British stock, that leaves 17 million by which the population of those Dominions jointly should be increased from these islands.
Is that an impossible figure to attain? If not, how quickly can it be attained? I think that it will be attained, whether we play our part or not, by the end of this century. It is not unreasonable to say that we could afford to lose in the next fifty years up to 15 million people from these islands. That does not mean to say, of course, that the population of these islands will be reduced by 15 million. It simply means that the gross outflow of British stock would he that figure, counter-balanced by immigration into this country from different parts of the Commonwealth and from foreign countries.
Similarly, the evidence suggests that each of the countries of the Commonwealth would be able to digest such a rate of inflow. We have had examples in world history of a far greater inflow being easily absorbed. Who would have 608 said in 1800 that England could have supported the great increase in population which occurred during the next seventy years and which brought us, in 1870, almost to the pinnacle of our prosperity and power? The same surely is true of each of these younger countries in our Commonwealth.
If it is objected that there are difficulties already in coping with the numbers of those who come in and that, therefore, doubling the number—which is virtually what I am suggesting—would be impossible, I say that the difficulty could be overcome if it were approached imaginatively. An emigrant is not only another mouth to feed. He is also another pair of hands to work. He is a consumer, but he is also a producer and given the same skill and capacity to work, his work is twice as valuable in one of these less developed countries as it is at home. And if there is a danger of slump there is much greater danger of slump in a country that is underdeveloped and underpopulated than in one that is fully developed and populated. The laws of economics apply on a large scale as well as on the small.
I have a practical suggestion or two to make which would facilitate this process. One is that we should suggest that there should be a voluntary lowering of standards in housing and even in transport to get the first wave of migrants out on the ground. We have too easily accepted that the older Dominions have already turned their backs on a mainly agricultural and pioneering past and are already fully absorbed in a mainly industrial future. That is not necessarily so.
Why should it be assumed that the destination of a man who lives in a suburb of Edinburgh or Glasgow should be a suburb of Sydney or Toronto? Why should there not be an appeal for volunteers—and one would find thousands in this country—to go out and accept conditions, higher than those of the original pioneers but lower than those in this country, to make a contribution to breaking in the large stretches of land which exist overseas? We should send, not skilled engineers, but farmers and agriculturists, trained and untrained, as the Dutch do in their Dominions.
The hon. Member for Rugby intervened in the speech of my hon. Friend 609 the Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) and put a pertinent question to my hon. Friend. He said, "Do you agree with the Under-Secretary that Australia is already being sent all the migrants she can absorb, and, if so, how can you plead for increased migration when the receiving countries are unable to take them?" The answer to that question is the crucial point of the debate. It is simply that they are not taking immigrants of British stock, but are taking them of continental stock.
The second table in the Second Report of the Overseas Migration Board contains interesting figures in this connection. In 1955, the total immigration into Australia amounted to 130,000 people. Of these, only 50,000 were of British stock. The remainder, over half, were of mainly Western European stock. Details are given. There were 30,000 Dutchmen, nearly 11,000 Greeks, and 27,000 Italians. If this process goes on, we will discover in comparatively few years that Australia is no longer mainly a British country, with all the advantages in terms of politics, economics and strategy that that means.
The answer to the hon. Member for Rugby is that if it is possible for these continental migrants to go, surely it is possible for the Australians to say that they want to take in their place an equivalent number of British settlers. We must see whether we cannot adjust our national policy in this matter so that a large proportion of these Greeks, Dutch and Italians are replaced by Englishmen.
Is that possible or not? In other words, is it possible for the Commonwealth Relations Office to embark upon a far more dynamic policy on emigration? All my hon. Friends have pleaded for that, and so has practically every hon. Member opposite, although it is certainly true that the right hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham did not appear to be a very great enthusiast for migration. Practically everybody else said, "We are missing an opportunity. Let us take it now, because probably we will not have even a debate on the subject for another five years."
I have two suggestions to make by which such a more dynamic policy might be initiated. The first point, and I am glad to see the Minister of Labour present, is that we should go out of our 610 way to encourage our own people to make use of this opportunity to go overseas. Deliberately, as an act of policy, we should promote propaganda on the advantages to the individual and to the nation of an increased rate of emigration. The Ministry of Labour, if that is the correct Department, should set up inquiry bureaux and information offices open to the public in two or three of the main cities of these islands.
I know that the Ministry of Labour's officers are available, to give information on this subject when they are approached in the employment exchanges. I also know that no member of the public who directly applied to the Commonwealth Relations Office would be turned away without being given assistance and advice but, by and large, those who emigrate from this country are inspired by no Governmental encouragement whatever. They go under their own steam, physically and spiritually. They traipse around the offices of the Dominions in London, they pick up pamphlets describing the advantages of this and that territory, and they make their choice between them. They are not discouraged, but they are not given the positive guidance and encouragement which is needed.
It is really a matter of presenting the case. We should not let these people imagine that this country is so strategically vulnerable that it is safer to get out of it before another war starts. There is no need to scare people into thinking that, economically, we shall not be able to pay our way. There is no need to minimise the great opportunities in this country for those who wish to stay. But let us also positively argue the case for the advantages of developing the Commonwealth and let us argue it in human terms. Let us argue it in terms of the family, because it is the family which is the unit of emigration, from the baby to the grandmother.
These methods of overt propaganda would cost very little. They could easily come out of the funds which we vote annually for this purpose. The Dutch, who have no natural connections with the British Commonwealth, spend fifteen times more than does the United Kingdom upon encouraging and settling their emigrants in different parts of the British 611 Commonwealth, and we see the results in the figures I have just read out.
Finally, I touch upon a subject upon which I have really no right to speak because I know little about it. I wholly support the plea advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds to make it possible, by tax concessions, to let the money go with the migrant and the factory with the family, so that, when he arrives, he is ready and armed to play his part in the economy of the country. What I am pleading for is a loosening of the tourniquet round the veins of our British Commonwealth so that the blood can flow a little more freely between the various limbs of the Commonwealth, which extend to the furthermost parts of the earth.
§ 2.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Clifford Kenyon (Chorley)
The most eloquent speech of the hon. Member for East Bournemouth and Christchurch (Mr. N. Nicolson) will appeal to most of us. There are only one or two points in it with which I want to deal. The first is that we must recognise that this emigration policy is voluntary. Unless we can appeal to the emigrant by showing him that there are greater advantages for him in the Dominions or Colonies than there are here, it will fail. The difficulty now facing this country is that over the last ten years the opportunities for young men here have been definitely greater than the opportunities for them in the Dominions or the Colonies. What often appeals to the emigrant is the spirit of adventure because he does not know just what conditions and circumstances face him in our Dominions.
The second point I want to refer to is that made by the hon. Gentleman about taking men from cities, such as Glasgow, to Australia and settling them as farmers. It cannot be done. Agriculture requires trained men everywhere, men who have their hearts and their spirits in the soil. All countries today are faced with the problem of men and women leaving the land. America, Australia. New Zealand, Britain—in every country men are leaving the land, and the difficulty of the Dominions is not to get farmers to take over land there, but to keep their own farmers on it. We are in the same position here. So we must face this realistically. We cannot just 612 take men and women out of our cities and put them on the land in Australia or elsewhere and expect them to develop it as farmers. I will deal with that point more fully later.
We have been speaking about our emigration policy and the British Commonwealth. In most of the speeches that have been made today, the emigrants referred to were white emigrants. Do not hon. Members realise that the British Commonwealth of Nations has a far greater proportion of coloured people than of white ones? I support this Bill in every respect, and I hope that it will be more successful than the Measures which have preceded it. I hope we can develop an emigration policy, but let us not forget that a country such as Australia is tropical in many respects, and that when we are talking about emigration we should not forget the effect of climate upon people who go there. We should not forget the reactions of nature upon those going to tropical countries.
Do these Dominions discriminate in any way against coloured immigrants? I hope that the Minister will answer that question when he replies to the debate, for the following reason. We have been speaking about British citizens. The West Indians who come to this country are British citizens in every respect of the word. When they come here from the West Indies, they have equal rights with every citizen of this country. When they settle here they can vote, they can become tenants. This country has been noted for its freedom for the coloured people. It is within the recollection of many older Members of this House that there was an Indian Member of this House representing a British constituency.
§ Mr. Kenyon
I am glad that I am receiving so much support from my hon. and right hon. Friends. I raise this question because I have long understood that Australia has what is known as a white Australian policy. That is in a country all of which is not naturally suited to white people.
613 I will prove my point by reference to the Australian Immigration Act. While it is not laid down in law that a coloured person is barred, the conditions which are laid down do bar a coloured person from entering. I quote The Australian Constitution by H. S. Nicholas:The Immigration Act, 1912–1940, in Section 3, enumerates the classes of persons who may be prohibited from entering Australia. The list includes persons who fail to pass a dictation test of not less than 50 words in any European language dictated by an officer …Mr. Justice Evatt, speaking of that Section in a case, made this statement:Certainly, the history of section 3 (a) is one of extraordinary interest. It is quite clear that, by executive action, there has been a remarkable turning or twisting of the original scheme of the Commonwealth Parliament in prescribing a failure to pass the dictation test as itself making the person"—
§ Mr. Speaker
I regret to have to interrupt the hon. Member, but this is a matter of Australian domestic legislation. Australia is a self-governing country within the Commonwealth, and it does not behove us in this House to criticise or argue about laws it passes for itself.
§ Mr. Kenyon
I was afraid of that, Mr. Speaker. I was travelling as fast as possible. There is a question I would put to you for your guidance. I was asking the Government, are coloured people who are resident in this country qualified to apply under that Immigration Act and, therefore, to become immigrants into Australia? If they are, then this operates against them. I should like to know whether I should be in order in proceeding with that question.
§ Mr. Speaker
The question seems to depend upon legislation in the Commonwealth of Australia. Has the hon. Member concluded his speech?
§ Mr. Kenyon
No, Sir I have not concluded the other parts of my speech, although I am compelled to conclude that part.
The argument I want to put forward is that British citizens, whether they are white or coloured, if they are residents and citizens of this country, should be allowed to participate in the emigration scheme put forward by this House. One of the reasons why I raise the matter is what must be of concern to both Governments, indeed, to all Commonwealth 614 Governments, and that is the slow rate of increase in the population of these Dominions.
From 1933 to 1955 the population of Australia increased by 2,683,452. That number includes natural increase by birth as well as increase by immigration. I do not think that that increase can be considered satisfactory from any point of view. The figures in New Zealand are also interesting. From 1936 to 1956, a period of twenty years, there has been an increase of 604,000. That number also includes births as well as immigrants.
A disturbing feature in both countries is the number of people who leave them annually. I feel sure that there is sonic responsibility on the Dominion Governments for this loss. If people leave these Dominions in large numbers after they have been assisted to go there and have taken up residence there, something is at fault. I accept what the Under-Secretary of State said in his opening remarks about the difficulty of obtaining accurate statistics on this point, but I understand that in 1955 arrivals in Australia totalled 237,237, while departures were 139,982, which is a loss of more than 50 per cent. That occurs every year. For the same year, in New Zealand, the arrivals were 66,083 and the departures were 56,882.
§ Mr. B. Harrison
I am very interested in this point. I wonder whether the hon. Member could confirm whether the figures which he gave for arrivals in those countries were for migrants and whether the other figures were for migrants or merely for people who were out of those countries for a short time and who, when they returned to Australia or New Zealand, were not included in the larger figure.
§ Mr. Kenyon
That was the reason I made the comment about statistics which the Under-Secretary made in his opening speech. The figures balance each other. Every year a number of people leave Australia for visits abroad and a number return, and, on the whole, taking it over the years. I should think that one set of figures balances the other and leaves the residue as migrants. We know that a number of migrants return disappointed from both those countries.
§ Mr. Baldwin
I can give the hon. Gentleman the figures from the migration report for Australia if he wishes. The 615 net figure for 1955–56 was 94,000, which is the highest figure for the last five years.
§ Mr. Kenyon
I am glad to have that correction. I have a figure of 96,000. I am not saying that there is an absolute loss on those who enter the country, but I am saying that of the number who enter the country far too few remain and become citizens of Australia.
Why is it? Perhaps I might refer to a letter which I received only last week from a young man who has been out there for three years. He is working on a farm. He said, in effect:We have just finished ploughing 2,000 acres. When the four of us came to this farm, six months ago, we started our work. Owing to the conditions—he was speaking not of the home or the farm conditions but of the climatic conditions—three out of the four have left. I am the only one of the original four who has remained and I am leaving in about three months. We have been ploughing the last 2,000 acres and the heat has ranged from 91 degrees to 116 degrees.We all know what it is like to plough with a tractor in this country on a hot day. To plough in the heat which he describes must be appalling. That is one of the reasons that people leave Australia. Because of the climatic con ditions under which they have to work, they drift from these farms, although every facility is given to them to remain.
§ Mr. Harrison
I apologise to the hon. Member for interrupting a second time, but, again, he is not comparing like with like. I have worked with a pick and shovel in Australia at a temperature of up to 110 degrees. I would prefer to do it on a hot day there than on a summer's day here, because the climatic conditions are completely different. The hon. Member is not painting a fair picture.
§ Mr. Kenyon
I am beginning to understand why the hon. Member has come to Britain. Some years ago I, too, worked in Australia and I know that what I am stating is accurate. Climatic conditions are very difficult for white people working there, which is why I suggested—I must not refer to it again—that coloured people can tackle this job better than white people.
616 Australia is a tremendous continent. The population density is only 3 persons per square mile, while in New Zealand it is 21, and in this country about 560. I recognise that there are many parts of Australia which for white people are uninhabitable, but, nevertheless, the figure is exceptionally low. There is no doubt that it can be very greatly increased. The Dominions have tremendous natural resources which require developing with all possible speed. They need, as we have heard today, both capital and population at a much greater flow than they are or have been receiving and no obstacles whatsoever should be put in their way.
That brings me to my final point, on which most hon. Members will disagree with me. By the Bill we are striving in a small way to build up the Dominions with British men and women. It is a very great ideal, but, frankly, I do not believe that it can be done. The British way of life, the British social way of life, has been developed over many centuries. It cannot be taken and placed in a country like Australia, New Zealand, or Canada and expected to develop again as the British way of life. There are factors which are altogether against it.
I have been surprised this afternoon to hear so many hon. Members objecting to the European migration to Australia and saying that there ought to be more British. Who are we, the British, to object to Europeans? We are partly Europeans ourselves. There are many hon. Members who come from a certain Principality who will insist on telling me that only in Wales are there Britons. When the Romans came, they built a wall to separate us from the indigenous tribes north of the Border. The British stock is derived from the Britons who were here, from the Dutch, the Danes, the Germans and people who fled from other countries because of persecution and who merged into the British stock.
It is a good thing that men and women of different races should unite to form the population of a country such as Australia. America is a great country but it has received population from all over the world. I am not afraid of the British influence being reduced because people of other nations come into this country. They will merge as a race with us. The British stock and the British 617 way of life and influence are so great that they will master other influences, physically and mentally, and these people of other nationalities will unite with us. We shall not sink beneath them. I therefore have no fear about the mixed immigration into the other Dominions.
It is natural that the Dominions, which pride themselves upon their British roots, should desire to take our emigrants, but time will not wait for them, and there are factors which operate against that sort of build-up. The whole experience of life is different in the Dominions. That is why many people leave and return home or go to other countries. We Britons do not realise this until we ourselves try to settle in young countries, especially in Australia—if the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. B. Harrison) will allow me to refer to that country once again. We do not realise how much our customs and traditions—which are so deeply ingrained into the character of British life—mean to us until we go into a young country where there are no such customs and traditions.
The Briton who has taken an interest in our social and political life and who then goes into a Dominion such as Canada, Australia or New Zealand, feels that he has lost his roots. Until he can adjust himself—and this takes some time —he does not settle down and become a proper citizen of that country. There is a subconsciousness of these characteristics which is unrecognised until a person has had some experience of living in a country where, because of its youth, they have not developed.
Only those persons who have the will to overcome this problem, and are capable of building their lives in association with others in a new land, can make successful citizens. The Dominions will have to develop their own peculiar life. They cannot create another Britain, for our way of life has grown out of a long historical development, with an agriculture, an industry and a cultural and social life peculiarly our own. It cannot be redeveloped in Australia, New Zealand or Canada, for it has taken long, leisurely centuries to mature here—and speed is the vital force today in the development of our Dominions.
We must take into consideration the geographical situation; the climatic conditions 618 obtaining in a country; the effect which its land, soil, vegetation and whole conformation has upon the physical and mental character of the people who try to populate it. Where we find tropical conditions and intense heat it is only natural that such races as can adjust themselves to such conditions should have the opportunity to do so.
The white people of Australia have drifted naturally towards the coast in that country, and they will continue to do so, because that is where their natural environment lies. Others who are coloured should have the opportunity to enter and join in the development in the interior, but the climate of the country, older and more tenacious than life itself, will inevitably be the final arbiter of the type of people who will inhabit and master these Dominions.
§ 3.21 p.m.
§ Mr. R. P. Hornby (Tonbridge)
I want to take up very few minutes, as we have covered a great deal of ground already in this debate. I think that hon. Members in all parts of the House have been in agreement in stressing the importance of this subject, and the need which they have felt for what several speakers have described as a realistic emigration policy.
The hon. Member for Chorley (Mr. Kenyon) struck one of the most realistic notes in the debate when he suggested in his opening words, that we should recognise the limits of what that policy can do, and remember, in talking of migration, that we are talking about the voluntary movement of people. One or two of my hon. Friends were talking about trying to move very large numbers of people from these over-populated islands to the under-populated countries in the world, but we ought to remember that we are talking in terms of trying to persuade these people to move and to offer them some inducement to move. We cannot direct them from one part of the Commonwealth to another.
Likewise, we should remember that, as the right hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Bottomley) suggested, there are some people whom we can ill afford to lose; perhaps the right hon. Gentleman was thinking of scientists and technicians whom we could not spare. We have to recognise that if some people are to 619 move to other parts of the Commonwealth, and there is freedom of movement, that right cannot be denied to certain other people.
I should like to refer to certain figures which my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State mentioned in opening the debate, as I think that they are the nub of this problem. He mentioned that the Commonwealth was wanting about 150,000 to 200,000 people from this country. He also mentioned that we were sending about 120.000. It seems to me that the gap between these two figures is, in fact, the problem that we are discussing, and I want to raise three questions relating to it.
First, is that target figure of between 150.000 and 200,000 people the right one; secondly, can we afford to maintain this quota which is being asked from us: thirdly, if we feel that we can and should afford it, how are we to set about doing so? As to the size of the target, I feel that in this matter we have to accept the word of the receiving countries. There has been a good deal of talk, and many suggestions have come from hon. Members, about a general Commonwealth migration plan or a Commonwealth population plan. I believe that a better way of looking at it, as I think some of my hon. Friends suggested earlier, is that we have to think very much more in bilateral terms.
The real guide is the capacity of the receiving end to absorb the people. We have to talk and think in terms of each country, whether it be Australia, New Zealand or Canada, see how many that country can absorb, and also think in terms of how far we can meet them. In that capacity, we should remember, when thinking about finance, that immigration is a costly business to the receiving country, just as it may be a financial loss to ourselves.
It has been stated that immigration could cost Australia anything up to £3,000 per person simply in terms of capital requirements. It is an interesting comparison, because I think I am right in saying that the figure mentioned by my hon. Friend in opening the debate, when he spoke of our real investment in this migration problem as being very often the contribution which we have made in the education of and upbringing 620 of these people, was about £2,500 per person. That is very near the figure of capital cost that one finds on the other side, too.
The second point I wish to touch on is whether we can afford to increase our quota to meet the gap between the 120,000 whom we are sending and the target of 200,000 which has been mentioned. In economic terms, that is a difficult question to answer because, as many hon. Members have stressed, we do not know very much about who exactly is going, and we should very much like to know more. I think that, as far as one can guess at the answer, it is that we can probably still afford to do it. The net loss of people is not as great as the gross emigration figure would suggest. There are, in fact, many people immigrating into this country.
One fact which has not so far been mentioned in the debate is that in 1951 the Royal Commission on Population estimated that we could probably afford to lose about 80,000 people a year without doing ourselves any serious economic harm. At the time the Commission reported, we were losing about 20,000 people a year. Therefore, if the Commission's estimate was correct, we are nowhere near danger point in terms of numbers. In terms of quality and skill that is a question about which we should like to know more. We have not the figures.
On the point as to whether we can afford it, if it turns out that there is an economic loss, we should remember that there can be and will be, I am certain—and this has been the background of the whole debate, in which we have all agreed —a great political gain. At a time when member States of the Commonwealth are thinking and acting, economically and politically, more and more independently one of the very real ties that hold us together is the community of history and background which is, and will be, represented by the percentage of British stock that remains in these various countries.
The third point on which I wish to touch is the extent to which we can help in this way, and here I refer to the financial provisions proposed in the Bill. What, in fact, can we do? As many hon. Members have suggested, it is not just a matter of sending people out of the country with a free passage. It is 621 much more than that. As many of my hon. Friends mentioned earlier, this debate is closely linked with the debate on economic development which we had a short time ago. The ability of any country to absorb people will depend on the state of its industries and its development. Therefore, when we are thinking of helping in this matter, we have to relate it very closely to the money that is going into these countries, particularly in terms of the development prospects and the extent to which they are being taken advantage of by British firms operating in Commonwealth territories.
Further, as I have already said, I think that more information about who is going, who is coming back, what sort of people are wanted, is vital. This information would be of vital importance in making certain that there was no waste, in human and economic terms, through people going to the wrong place, finding they had not got the job they thought they would get and subsequently wanting to move on or come back. All that represents waste in human and economic terms, and it is a bad advertisement for this country when an unsatisfactory emigrant goes out.
I suggest that one of the things which might be considered in an attempt to improve the pattern of emigration to the Commonwealth is an examination of the possibility—I do not know whether this can be done under the terms of the present Bill—of some of the money devoted far this purpose being used, by agreement with the Commonwealth countries, for research into the problems which confront us. I also suggest that if we wish to take up the full quota for which the Commonwealth countries are asking —and I think we do—one of the things we must do is to give the maximum amount of information to people in this country about their prospects if they emigrate.
This point was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for East Bournemouth and Christchurch (Mr. N. Nicolson) and I entirely agree with what he said. If we can present a picture to them in understandable terms of the sort of life to be led in the country to which they propose to go; their prospects in terms of such things as housing and wages, and the kinds of employment, and advertise those attractions clearly, I 622 believe that a great deal of waste could be avoided and the flow of emigrants increased. We should then contribute to the economy of the receiving countries, and the emigrants would be good representatives of the mother country.
It seems to me that the purpose behind this Measure is to provide a link, through the maximum number of British people, with the Commonwealth countries. So far as I can understand from the figures which we have heard, there are people willing to go overseas. If we bring their attention to the places where they will be well received and can settle, they will go. It appears largely a matter of statistical information about what we can afford and whether we can help and inform the prospective emigrants.
§ 3.33 p.m.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
I am grateful to the hon. Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby) and to the Minister, for curtailing their speeches and allowing me to take part in the debate. I wish to emphasise a point which I do not think has been mentioned. Quite properly, most speakers dealt with the needs of the Commonwealth countries in terms of migration. I wish to draw attention to our problems as an exporting country. In Scotland, there is real concern that we are hearing an unduly heavy share of the emigration programme. The Canadian emigration offices in Glasgow are now dealing with applications at the rate of 42,000 a year. That sort of thing is causing anxiety throughout Scotland.
I know that, as a Scot, I shall be acquitted of the charge of not being interested in Commonwealth development, because there are six Scots in the Commonwealth for every Scot left in Scotland. In planning the emigration programme, however, I think it necessary to see that it is a balanced programme in relation to the United Kingdom as a whole. To me it is astonishing that during the whole of this debate we have not had exact information about the increase in emigration in the last month or two.
I wish to take up a point made by the Minister regarding the inadequacy of statistical and other information about emigration. He said that the Overseas Migration Board had made a recommendation about this. These issues are of immense importance particularly in 623 Scotland. I think it would be useful if we could have fuller information about the kind of people emigrating; the parts of the country from which they come; their reasons for going and their ages, occupations, and so on. Then we should know more about what is going on in this sphere of emigration and be able to plan, balancing the interests of various parts of the United Kingdom as well as the interests of the Commonwealth countries.
One hon. Member said the trouble was that Britain is overcrowded and over-industrialised and that the Commonwealth is not crowded and is under-industrialised. There are, of course, many areas of Scotland which for a considerable period have been becoming increasingly under-industrialised and increasingly depopulated. We have our own serious problems there, and I hope that they will be borne in mind in connection with United Kingdom emigration policy.
§ 3.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Alport
If I may have the permission of the House to speak again, I should be grateful to have the opportunity to reply to some of the points which have been raised in what has been a full and extremely interesting debate. I should like to start by saying how grateful I am to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Bottomley) and to other hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House for their courtesy to me personally. I assure them that I am well aware of the opportunity which I have been given, and I only hope that I may have the ability and the vision to make the best advantage of it.
The right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) raised the point early on in the debate about the application of the new Bill and the previous Acts. I think I can explain it in this way. The 1922 Act, upon which all subsequent Acts were based, applied to the King's Dominions the Dominions of the Crown. In that sense, Dominions meant not Dominions in the technical sense which they took after the Balfour Declaration of 1926, but in the older sense dominions, so to speak, with a small "d". Therefore, it applies not only to the great self-governing countries of the Commonwealth 624 as we know them now, but also to Colonial Territories, and could, by Order in Council, be extended to Protectorates and to what were at that time Mandated Territories, which became more recently Trusteeship Territories.
Therefore, the fear which I think was at the back of the hon. Gentleman's question—that it might indicate some change in the status of the Federation which he had not been aware of—is unfounded.
§ Mr. Brockway
I hesitate to interrupt, because the hon. Gentleman has only a short time in which to reply, but may I ask whether this matter has been put right since? Has the inaccurate reference to Dominions, and indeed the inaccurate reference to Mandated Territories and Protectorates, been put right, or may we have an opportunity to put it right in Committee?
§ Mr. Alport
I do not think there is any need to put it right. In fact, the application is perfectly clear. I was merely trying to correct a misconception of the meaning of the word "Dominion" which, I think, had crept in during the early part of the debate.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rochester and Chatham referred to the loss of scientists and technicians to this country. Other hon. Gentlemen referred to the same point. We realise that we are losing a number of valuable people who are urgently required by our own industry. At the same time, this is essentially a way in which we can make a contribution to the development of the Commonwealth. My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Aitken) said that it was important that we should send manpower and money together, and he is perfectly correct. It is no good our thinking in terms of a great development of Commonwealth territories if we are not prepared not only to make financial sacrifices from our savings but also to make sacrifices from our skill and technical ability which go to make the financial investment worthwhile.
I remind the House that there was a period only very recently—indeed it may still exist—when there was concern in Australia and, particularly, in New Zealand at the number of their Rhodes scholars coming to this country and 625 remaining here, being lost to the future of these two great territories.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rochester and Chatham also asked me a question about the Title of the Bill. The reason for continuing this Title is to give the Bill continuity. We are, in fact, carrying on to a very large extent the provisions of the Acts of 1922, 1927 and 1952, which also had this Title. It should be remembered in this House, which has to think in terms not only of particular groups within the Commonwealth but of the Commonwealth as a whole, that a great many people value and reverence the traditional title "Empire". Those people are not confined to this country, but are to be found in very large numbers in great countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
I turn to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster. He commented on child migration. It is a difficult problem to organise effectively and humanely the migration of children of relatively tender age from this country to far-off countries, separated by great distances from all that they have been familiar with. It is a problem for the Home Office, and I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department is keeping in very close touch with developments in that sphere.
My hon. Friend also asked for bilateral discussion. We are always prepared to have discussion and are constantly in contact with individual Commonwealth Governments with regard to migration policy. If there is any wish to have anything more formal or anything which would bring the results which we all desire, I am sure there will be no difficulty in making the necessary arrangements.
We had, as the right hon. Member himself described it, a very forthright speech from the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell). When one thinks of his more recent speeches, made in equally forthright terms, which caused the ears of some of his colleagues to burn a bit during the last few weeks, we expected something of the sort from him today.
The point which immensely concerned him was a problem of detail connected with hostels in Australia. This is a matter 626 entirely for the Australian Government, although we are naturally interested in the sort of conditions to which emigrants from this country go when settling in Commonwealth countries. I know that the previous Minister for Immigration in Australia, Mr. Holt, and the present Minister, are greatly concerned to see that the best possible is done for immigrants by a satisfactory hostel system. We all recognise, from our experience in this country of hostels in various forms, that a hostel can never provide a satisfactory alternative to a family home.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds pressed the importance of housing as a means of facilitating a satisfactory movement of population from this country to Australia, Canada and elsewhere. He had an extremely interesting idea about housing associations which, he pointed out, would not only be an investment from the emigration point of view, but would produce a return for the economy of this country. It is an interesting point, and we know that it is being worked with a certain amount of success in other countries. We will look into the matter. I hope that the Overseas Migration Board will continue to study that particular proposition.
My hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr. B. Harrison) asked for central machinery for migration planning. If there is need for it, I have no doubt that it is one of the expedients which could easily be considered and implemented. To be quite fair, let me say that we have not had any indication from the majority of the countries concerned with migration problems that they want central machinery. Indeed, we should realise that we are in partnership with a number of individual partners who, among themselves, are in some degree of competition with each other for obtaining people from this country for the expansion of their populations. In the great majority of cases, as my hon. Friend the Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) said, they would prefer to deal with it on a bilateral basis.
There have been many references—I made one myself—to the inadequacy of the statistics which are available. I repeat that the lack of adequate statistics is a continuing drawback to migration 627 policy and the proper study and understanding of these problems. I hope and very fully believe that we shall be able to make some effective progress with the advice of the Overseas Migration Board, which already has done such extremely good work in this matter.
§ Mr. Dugdale
Is the hon. Gentleman able to answer the question I asked? Have we any figures showing the number of people who have emigrated and since returned?
§ Mr. Alport
I could not give the right hon. Member accurate figures—I am doubtful whether they exist—but if I can find any figures which I think might help him in his search, I will certainly let him have them. I cannot give them to him at present.
The question of tax incentives is a matter for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is a subject in which I have been extremely interested in the past. One is always apt to wonder about what one wrote on the subject in earlier days and to hope that too many of the birds then set in flight will not come home to roost. If I remember rightly, when considering this matter at the time of the last Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer showed, great interest in and sympathy for it.
I should like to make clear to my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, East and Christchurch (Mr. N. Nicolson) that the Ministry of Labour at present gives very considerable help to a number of migration departments of the various High Commissioner offices in regard to recruiting arrangements in this country. For instance, in particular in association with the staff of the Australian High Commissioner the Department of my right hon. Friend arranges for publicity and selection tours which help to provide the accommodation which is necessary to interview recruits as they become available on behalf of that office. Information is available at the employment exchanges for those who wish to inquire about emigration.
We would be wrong, however, to suppose that any organisation or machinery we can create in this country can be a real substitute for the High Commissioners' offices. I am certain they wish to take the responsibility for interviewing, 628 selecting and informing would-be immigrants to their countries of the facilities and the sort of life they will lead out there. They alone can be fully apprised of latest developments in industrial conditions, employment conditions, housing conditions and so on in their individual countries. The Department of my right hon. Friend helps very considerably, but in the end the responsibility is quite rightly on the shoulders of the High Commissioners' departments, and that would be the wish of the Governments concerned.
The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) referred to the particular problems of Scotland. I would remind him that Scottish emigration is not only a question of leaving the shores of the British Isles, but also of the emigration from Scotland to south of the Border. Mr. Speaker is not here, but we know what a great advantage it is to us and a great loss no doubt to Scotland that that emigration is on the scale that it is. And we have my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour here. The fact is that the net loss of population through emigration in Scotland, according to the Registrar-General's Report, is still, I am glad to say, below the natural increase of population in recent years, although the figure is a marginal one. It is estimated that the average net loss is 12,700 to other parts of the United Kingdom and that the total net loss is about 24,000 from Scotland and the average natural increase is 33,000.
The hon. Member for Dundee, East referred particularly to the recent increase of applications for emigration to Canada, but he is well aware that Scotland and Canada have always been very close in this matter. A very large number of Scottish men and women have gone over to Canada to make their lives over a period not of recent months, or even recent decades, but over a period of generations.
It is perfectly natural, and indeed in some degree the explanation of what has been happening in recent weeks, that as the numbers of emigrants from this country of recent years who have settled happily in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere increases, the momentum increases with it and others wish to join them. It is quite natural 629 in times of uncertainty such as the present that the destination which particularly interests Scottish applications for emigration should be the great country of Canada.
I am sure that the hon. Member for Dundee, East and Scottish people as a whole need not be unduly worried about this trend. Nothing could be greater than the contribution which Scotland as a whole has made through her people all over the world in the development of the Commonwealth. We only hope that that contribution will continue to be made.
It has been suggested that we are simply sleeping partners in this whole matter of migration. That cannot be true. We are a major source of skilled and trained emigrants for the Commonwealth countries generally. Over the last years, since 1945, we have played a major part in providing them with the increase of population that they require. That we should continue to do so I think is generally agreed in the House.
I am grateful to hon. Members for the support that they have given to the Bill on Second Reading. I hope, therefore, that not only will this be an index to other countries of our interest in this matter but that, through the Bill, we shall be able to continue the constructive and positive policies which are necessary in the future in order to ensure that we continue to play a part in populating a great part of the world which has made such an immense contribution to the preservation of peace and the progress of mankind.
§ Mr. Brockway
Since there is still time before the debate ends, would the Minister say something about the need for care in the utilisation of the Bill in Central and East Africa, to which reference has been made by more than one speaker?
§ Mr. Alport
Reference, indeed, has been made to it, and to the other aspect of the problem, that of foreign emigration as opposed to British emigration. I would say very generally on this point that I believe the European communities 630 in Central and East Africa have played, and are playing, a great part in the development of those territories, just as the French and British communities have played a great part in Canada and just as, for instance, in Essex there has been over a period of history a community of Dutch who have played a great part in our life.
It would be totally against the interests of any part of Africa that it should deprive itself of the great advantages which the technical skill and initiative of the European immigrant can bring, without which I have not the slightest doubt that the progress of that part of Africa would be greatly retarded.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Legh.]
§ Committee upon Monday next.