§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 13, at the end to insert:Provided that in the case of each scheme in territories other than Canada, Australia and New Zealand the consent of elected representatives of the indigenous peoples in the territories concerned has been secured.The Amendment embodies certain suggestions made in speeches during the Second Reading debate. It recognises the value of the Bill so far as it serves the interest of settlers in the white Dominions of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but it would add to the Clause a proviso that in other territories the consent of the elected representaives of the indigenous people should be secured.
Those of us who are associated with the Amendment wish to be sure that the British immigrants who will be assisted under the Bill will be welcomed by the majority of the populations in the territories to which they go. There is no doubt of their welcome in Canada, Australia and New Zealand; those countries have dominantly white populations, and their Governments are eager that British immigrants should go there. But there is grave doubt whether a majority of the populations in certain Colonies would welcome settlers from this country. That is particularly true of territories in East and Central Africa.
1089 As all those who are familiar with conditions in those territories know, the African populations of Uganda, Kenya, Tanganyika, Nyasaland and the Rhodesias are very concerned about increasing British settlement, and will remain so unless there are limitations upon the conditions in which that immigration takes place. Undoubtedly the desirable solution of the problem would be that consent should be secured from the Governments of those territories for the assistance of immigration from this country.
The Labour Party takes the view that in these territories there should be democratic Legislatures and Governments. During the past year it has adopted a policy statement urging that in Colonial Territories, which are often described as multi-racial, the vote should be given to a human being irrespective of colour and race, and that as an immediate step towards that end there should be parity of franchise and of representation between the races. That would be the ideal solution, but that is not the position in many of these Colonial Territories at the moment. It would be true to say that in the West Indies, Malaya and West Africa the majority of the indigenous populations control the Legislatures, but that is emphatically not true in the case of the East and Central African Colonies.
Let me indicate the degree to which the majority African populations of those Colonies now have representation in the Legislatures. According to the latest figures, of a total population of 6,048,200 in Kenya, 5.815,000 are Africans, and yet there are only three Africans in the Council of Ministers numbering 18. At this moment, also, there are only six—shortly to be increased to eight—in the Legislative Council of 56 members. In those circumstances the sponsors of the Amendment have not felt able to take what would be the ordinary course of asking that the Legislatures should give their consent. We have felt it desirable to ask that the elected representatives of the indigenous peoples should do so.
Nyasaland is another example. There, the total population is about 2,575,000, of whom the Africans number about 2,560,000. There are 15,700 non-Africans in that territory. Yet in the Legislative Council numbering 23 members there are only five African representatives, once again indicating that it would not be 1090 enough to secure the consent of the Legislature. If one is to have the view of the majority of the population one should have the consent of the African representatives.
Another instance is afforded by Northern Rhodesia. The total population there is 2,156,600. Of those, 2,085,000 are Africans. Yet there are only four Africans in the Legislative Council of 27 members. In the Federal Assembly for the whole of Nyasaland and the Rhodesias, although there are 6 million Africans and 200,000 Europeans, there are only six African representatives out of a membership of 35.
It is for those reasons that we take the view that if British settlers in those countries are to be encouraged and helped by the Bill it should be with the consent of the majority of the indigenous populations. This is especially important because, as everyone who is familiar with these territories knows, there is a danger that the controversy which is now raging about this issue of the immigration of a settler population will turn to conflict.
There is no subject which causes more intense feeling in East and Central Africa and holds greater potentiality for racial animosity than the encouragement of white settlers to those territories. Broadly speaking, the small European minority open their arms to an increased British and European settler community while the majority African populations oppose, and have great fears. The problem is complicated because in those territories there are also Asian communities, and while the European representatives are eager that more Europeans should enter those territories, those same Europeans frown on any encouragement of Asian immigration.
In Uganda there is a limitation on land ownership by European and British settlers, but even in that Colony at the moment there is great fear of European and British settlement. They have been told that Uganda shall become primarily an African State. They fear immigration, and we do not, under this Bill, want British immigration to take place to a Colony where the settlers will find that there is opposition and antagonism to their arrival. In Kenya this problem is still more intense. The Mau Mau has been defeated and from the first I have 1091 been one of those who hoped that it would be. But the land problem remains, and among the African population there is an intense opposition to British and European immigration which will have land settlement rights.
Mau Mau has been defeated on the physical plane, but unless there is a policy adopted which will win the approval of the great majority African population the intensities which have been expressed in Mau Mau may take a different form. I am one who greatly desires that in these circumstances a basis of agreement with the African population shall be provided.
Even in Tanganyika Africans are asking that it shall be regarded primarily as an African State, as is Uganda. In Nyasaland the Secretary of State for the Colonies is finding that the African population desires a breakaway from the Federation because of their opposition to European domination. There is not the least doubt about the attitude of the African population there towards increased European settlement. Even in Northern Rhodesia the Secretary of State has found the same point of view being expressed by representatives of the African Congress.
It would be unwise for this House to pass a Bill which would encourage any settlement of Europeans and British citizens to which the representatives of the vast majority of the African populations would be opposed. They would not oppose the coming of technicians, teachers or doctors; they would not oppose the coming of British immigrants who came in a spirit of racial equality, without racial superiority, and in a spirit of service. There is a wonderful experiment now proceeding in Southern Rhodesia under the supervision of my friend, Mr. Clutton Brock, at St. Faiths; where there is a community of racial equality, and experiments in education and agricultural development and even the beginning of light industry. Those who go to these territories in that spirit will receive a welcome from the African population.
I do not want to see racial exclusiveness, but in Kenya and the Rhodesias Europeans and Asians who seek certain political and economic privileges and dominations will arouse racial antagonism. I appreciate that in those territories there 1092 are British settlers who have lived there for two or three generations, and who regard these countries as their homes. I would only say, so far as they are concerned, that it is of the utmost necessity that they should reach an agreement with the African populations and their representatives on these problems.
We look forward to inter-racial cooperation, but inter-racial co-operation will be poisoned if there is assistance to the settlement of European and British citizens who will have privileges of land, privileges in economic circumstances, and privileges in political power. It is to prevent that happening that I am moving this Amendment.
§ Mr. Archer Baldwin (Leominster)
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) has made this point, because what he said, if it is reported, will still further increase the growing feeling between African and European in the East and Central African territories.
This Bill does nothing more than allow what has been going on for a great many years, and I want to ask the hon. Gentleman what would be the position of the Africans today if there had been no migration of Europeans to that part of the world during the last sixty years. During that time, the Africans have progressed from a very primitive state, in which they had been living for thousands of years, to a state which is now evolving in which the two nations are living together in peace and amity, provided that we do not stir up trouble from this side of the world. The development and evolution that has gone on there in the last sixty years is unbelievable, and to raise the point that the European has not done a great deal of service to the Africans is not being realistic.
The hon. Gentleman spoke of the indigenous populations, but who are the indigenous populations? All the African natives who are there today have gradually migrated from the North. The indigenous people have been pushed out by various tribes which have migrated downwards from the North, and it is not right to say that the present black populations of East and Central Africa are the indigenous populations; they are not.
I want to call attention to the fact that if anybody wants to know what has 1093 been going on in these countries, helped by the Europeans, he should go there with an open mind and see what has been done by Europeans. Let him have a look at some of the hospitals, which are comparable with the very best that we have in this country. Let him realise that the first African barrister has lately been called to the Bar in Rhodesia. Surely this is a great advance. An African would never have been called to the Bar without the assistance of the white population. These are the sort of things that are now going on in Africa. The African is being assisted in the cultivation of his land. Those who have been out there to see the great strides made by Africans in the cultivation of their land, with the assistance of Europeans, will realise that a tremendous amount of good has been done.
Further, it is suggested that the people of the Rhodesias want to take into their country a wholesale influx of immigrants. That is not so. They are selective, and they want to be selective. They want immigrants who possess the know-how, not the ordinary labouring people— people who will go there and assist the natives to develop and to acquire technical knowledge.
Broadly speaking, in both the Rhodesias, there is tremendous mineral wealth which should be processed, as far as possible, on the spot. If that is done, it will enable the African to raise his standard of living by the wealth that ensues. If it is not done, and we do not go to the help of the Africans, that mineral wealth will be exported in its primary state for the benefit of the rest of the world. I do not want to see that. I want to see primary industries started in the Rhodesias, where there is an immense labour force. That labour force will then be able to improve its standard of living even more than it is doing at the moment.
If anybody does not believe that, I suggest that they should go to the Copperbelt and examine the houses which the mine owners have erected for the benefit of Africans. An immense amount of building has gone on there. Hospitals have been built. Whereas, at one time, the African hesitated to go to hospital because he thought that he was going to a mausoleum, he now forms a queue 1094 waiting for admission. He gets a tremendous amount of service from them.
It is wrong that it should go out from this Committee that there is criticism which has not been countered by some of us on this side. I want to see migration to that part of the world—the migration of technicians and people with knowledge of how to work industry. The African is the first to benefit from that kind of migration. I hope that it will not go out to the Rhodesias that we are against them in their desire to get good settlers into those countries, because that is not so.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
I should not have intervened except for the last remarks of the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin). The hon. Gentleman said that it was a good thing for the African that settlers should go out to Africa. All of us will agree that the best type of settler can do a lot of good, but we must realise that there are varying types of settler. Some are not at all desirable.
What my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) says is that if the Africans desire it then these people should go there. If all these things are as suggested by the hon. Member for Leominster, why should the Africans not desire it? There must be something which stops the Africans from desiring to have immigrants. I suggest that it is because some of the immigrants are not as desirable as the hon. Member for Leominster would suppose.
We must look at this matter most carefully. We are not against all emigration but we think that, especially in the Rhodesias, there are people there, such as Lord Malvern himself, who are anxious to see that the white population is increased so that they may continue the campaign which they have started, saying, "We are a free people. We are like America. We are white people here. We think that if you do anything to stop us getting our freedom to rule the country as we think fit you are doing something such as was done against the American people in the eighteenth century". That was the line taken by Lord Malvern, and it is a very dangerous line indeed.
The noble Lord said that if there was any attempt by the British people to impose their will upon them, that small group 1095 of white people would fight back—and fight back with arms. That was a very dangerous thing to have said. We do not want immigrants of that kind there. We want the good type, and we should encourage them, and we must be very careful to see that we get them.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
Lord Malvern has perhaps made some silly speeches. I know him personally and I must say that he has made some better ones, too.
This would be a foolish and mischievous debate if it developed into a slanging match as to whether black men are good and white men are bad or vice versa. The hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin) invited us to go out and see for ourselves. Some of us have been in Africa more than once with, I hope, minds as honest as those of hon. Gentlemen opposite. We hope to go again in the future to see how things are getting on. We shall go with minds at least as fair and honest as those of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and with an endeavour to work for the future of that plural society.
This would be a sterile debate if it developed into an ethnological dispute as to who are the indigenous peoples. One could argue about whether the Masai pushed out the Kikuyu in Kenya; or whether the Zulu pushed out the Matabele or Mashona in Rhodesia; or whether Jan Van Riebeck went to the Cape in the seventeenth century; but this gets us nowhere. We want the best type of immigrants working together for the better future of that plural society. It is a most difficult situation, and tension is high. It would help us little to argue the merits or demerits of whatever people live in the area. I stand by all I said about the land question and white settlement in the Second Reading debate; and I agree with 99 per cent. of what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) a few minutes ago.
I would ask the Minister a couple of questions about the Bill and the purpose for which the money is being spent. As I said last week, I happen to be on the Overseas Migration Board. I hope that the Minister will confirm that none of the moneys voted has been spent for the 1096 specific purpose of settling white farmers on the lands of East and Central Africa. I want to be quite firm about this, because it is fearfully important that the right answer should go out. In the past, this has not happened. We have spent some of the money to send out scores of fine young boys to homes in Southern Rhodesia. Perhaps the Minister will confirm what I say. I am the last person to wish to spend money on subsidising a Yorkshire or a Devon farmer to go out there, but we hope that many technicians, doctors, veterinary surgeons, entomologists and teachers will go out to help the Africans in fitting themselves for the difficult task of governing themselves in the future.
I want the Minister to be quite specific and to say what the money has been used for. Not much of it has been spent; a few tens of thousands of pounds. I ask the Minister to give an assurance that, as it has not been spent in the past, so it is not the intention of the Government to use the money in the future to help to settle white farmers in the territories of East and Central Africa.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
Not for the first time has my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) directed our attention to disquieting features in central and other parts of Africa. I appreciate the motives which have inspired him to put this Amendment forward. It raises questions of democracy in those territories but, after all, this is not a debate on that precise subject. My hon. Friend has very ingeniously injected that subject into the debate, and I am not blaming him for it.
I would remind my hon. Friends and the Committee generally of what was said during the Second Reading debate. If anything of value then emerged it was the opinion expressed in all quarters of the House that in Commonwealth migration and settlement there should be complete co-ordination. By that we mean that the Governments concerned, excluding none of them, not even in the African territories, should help to create adequate machinery of a co-ordinating character for determining, first, the statistics to be made available to the Governments concerned to enable them to form a rational judgment on the situation, on the finance required, and on all 1097 the paraphernalia associated with migration.
That was the view expressed on the occasion of the Second Reading debate. We hope that that view will receive practical application in due course. I note, by the way, that some of my hon. Friends have put a Motion on the Order Paper in which they ask for the creation of co-ordinating machinery, following what was said in the course of the Second Reading debate. No doubt we shall have a further debate on that subject—I hope very soon, because it is a vital matter concerning the whole of the Commonwealth. In view of that, it seems to me that it would be wrong at this stage to inject an Amendment, even if the Government accepted it, which might create the impression that concerning certain parts of the Commonwealth territories we want to contract out of the co-ordinating machinery which we regard as essential in the circumstances.
I wish to put another point. Whilst appreciating all that my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough said, I think there is a great deal that has to be said about the conditions in the African territories and the somewhat half-baked democracy that exists there. All these matters have to be corrected and no doubt will be corrected in due course—the sooner the better—but it seems to me that if we are to inject into the Empire Settlement Bill—the Act as it will become—a provision that no person can go from this country to any of the African territories without the consent of the elected representatives in those territories, there must be complete reciprocity.
That, of course, implies that no person in any of those African territories should be permitted to come to the United Kingdom without the consent of the elected representatives in this country. That would hardly do. I do not suppose that my hon. Friend cares to suggest that. In the absence of that reciprocity it would be somewhat unfair. After all, a principle—if it is acceptable, if it is desirable, if it is just, if it is honest—should apply all round, but this Amendment would apply only to one section and not to the other.
Moreover, how is it to be applied? Are the elected representatives in any of the African territories to sit in solemn conclave and consider the application by some person from the United Kingdom 1098 who wishes to settle in any of those African territories? That is very complicated machinery and would scarcely be suitable in the circumstances.
It seems to me that we must rest our case on the principle which was at any rate mentioned in the Second Reading debate, and which I hope before long will be fully established, namely, the creation of the co-ordinating machinery which is required. If that is done my hon. Friend will have gained a great deal, but, much as I should like to support my hon. Friend—I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) in 99 per cent. of what he said but somehow boggle at the other 1 per cent.—I beg him not to press this Amendment to a Division, because it might prove somewhat embarrassing to those of us who want to be almost excessively loyal to our Colonies.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. C. J. M. Alport)
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell). I can assure him that any proposals for improving the machinery of consultation in the Commonwealth are matters which are regarded by my right hon. Friend and by the Government as of the greatest importance. I hope that on another occasion we shall have the opportunity of debating the ideas which may be put forward by right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the Committee who are interested in that subject.
I turn to the terms of the Amendment which the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) has moved. The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) was, I think, very wise when he warned his hon. Friend of the dangers in which we might find ourselves in trying to define the indigenous population of any particular part of Africa and, not least, of the Rhodesias. Arguments about the Matabele might lead us into great ethnological and historical complexity.
§ Mr. J. Johnson
I was warning the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leominster (Mr. Baldwin), not my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway).
§ Mr. Brockway
I was using the word "indigenous" exactly as it was used by a 1099 great Conservative Secretary of State for the Colonies, in 1923. I refer to the Devonshire Declaration, which declared that the interests of the indigenous population should be paramount and meant by "indigenous" exactly what is meant in the Amendment.
§ Mr. Alport
Even so, there would be considerable argument about the interpretation of that phrase.
I will, if I may, answer some questions which have been raised about the practical implications of the Amendment and the argument put forward by the hon. Member. If I may say so, I know from some experience what is in his mind. He will not expect me to accept the premises upon which many of his arguments are founded, nor will he, I hope, expect me to comment on the constitutional matters which he raised and which are more properly in the sphere of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, but, in passing, I should say that I do not think that Her Majesty's present Government can be accused of being slow in grasping opportunities for constitutional progress in Africa.
The example of the Lyttelton Constitution, an experiment, as indeed it was, is an example of the good will and progressive thought which has animated my right hon. Friend and his predecessor throughout their period of office, and the example of the progress which is being made in Ghana and which will be carried still further in a very significant way within a matter of weeks is further evidence of our attitude to this problem.
The real objective behind the Amendment, as I see it, is to deal with the application of the Bill to the Central African Federation. I think the hon. Member will realise that were there any intention of extending its provisions to Colonial Territories in the strict sense of the word, that would be very carefully considered by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies with a view to ensuring that the proper interests of all sections of the community, and, naturally, of what he would term the indigenous section of the community, were safeguarded.
If I may, I will narrow it down to the point which was raised on Second Reading and which, I think, is one of the main 1100 problems which the hon. Member has in mind. The hon. Member for Rugby asked me how much money had been spent during the last few years, from the moneys voted under the previous Acts, for emigration to the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The moneys spent are very small. The purpose is very limited. In 1949, which is the year in which most money was spent, the figure was £9,835, and the number of children who went to the Federation, or what was in those days Southern Rhodesia, was only 22. They went to the Rhodesia Fairbridge Memorial College to be looked after, educated and brought up in that territory. The figures subsequently have varied, but have never been more than in 1951—£5,250. In 1956, they were £2,694. The number of migrants and the amount of money involved are, therefore, very small.
The hon. Gentleman asked me for an assurance about future intentions. We have not yet been asked by the Government of the Federation for any assistance under the existing Act or, anticipating the passing of this Bill, under the Act which is to succeed it. But I think that the Committee would generally agree that we are anxious to see useful migrants of British origin go to the Federation to assist in the development of that part of Africa.
Supposing that the Amendment were accepted by the Committee, it would not, of course, prevent European migration to the Federation. What it would do, in fact, is to put an obstacle, perhaps a small obstacle but an obstacle nevertheless, in the way of the movement of European population from this country to the Federation, with the result that any lack of balance that there might be in respect of migration from the Union into the Federation would be further enhanced. I will not argue whether that is a good or a bad thing, but I would guess, from my knowledge of the hon. Gentleman's views on this matter, that that is not the sort of purpose he had in mind.
Indeed, I think that it is right that the Committee should always remember the fears that exist—and I accept that they do exist—in the African mind about certain aspects of land settlement, but I am sure that right hon. and hon. Members 1101 opposite were absolutely right in pointing out that settlement is not merely a question of land settlement at present, but also involves the migration into the countries concerned of a large number of extremely useful people with technical and professional skills and attributes which are essential to the development of Africa and the raising of the standard of living of peoples of all races. I believe that this question of land policy is one which must be settled on the spot. We should be mistaken in introducing that matter into our consideration of emigration policy under this Bill.
I would point out one further fact, that a great many people who may go out to the Rhodesias or other parts of Africa as doctors, veterinary surgeons, agricultural officers, or whoever they may be, might eventually, and quite reasonably, feel when the time came that they would like to have a stake in the country and do something to become the form of settlers to which the hon. Gentleman referred, the settlers in land. Therefore, the Amendment would not achieve the purpose that he has in mind. In fact, I would suggest to him that it would do the opposite, damage some of the interests he has in mind, and I hope that in these circumstances he will not feel it necessary to press for the acceptance of the Amendment.
§ Mr. A. G. Bottomley (Rochester and Chatham)
I think that the Under-Secretary of State has indicated that he is not out of sympathy with the spirit of the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway). He said that we have disagreements about how we interpret the word "indigenous", but in the case of the Rhodesias he gave an assurance that the wishes of the indigenous peoples would be taken fully into account. My hon. Friend is rather wary of this kind of assurance because past experience has shown that, however good the intentions of the Minister, there have been other influences at work which have stopped the implementation of the wish.
The hon. Gentleman made reference to Kenya and the multi-racial society that we hope to create, and how this Government should bring about a multi-racial group of Ministers to work together. He will be aware that the intention was to go further, and the fact that we have not 1102 been able to push on with the development of multi-racial Government has resulted in white settlers becoming more reactionary.
I venture to suggest that the prospect of making a success of multi-racial Government is more dismal today than at the time since we started talking about this development. I pay tribute to the statesmanlike way in which the Minister concerned tried to bring it about; but we have to push more energetically and bring pressure on the settlers in the territories to recognise that their own rights are best sustained by recognising that ultimately all these countries, by democratic elections, will be ruled by the majority, and the majority will not be those who come from Europe or elsewhere.
I suggest to my hon. Friend that he should not press the Amendment. There are various methods by which in these days we have to decide who is to take part in an election—either on an educational or a property basis—and if a number of the indigenous people are not consulted democracy is not given full play. While my hon. Friend deserves credit for raising this matter for discussion, I suggest that he should now withdraw his Amendment.
§ Mr. Fenner Brockway
I prefer to withdraw the Amendment, though not for the reasons stated by my right hon. Friends the Members for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) and for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Bottomley). As I am satisfied on this occasion to have expressed my views, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.
§ Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)
I and other of my hon. Friends had hoped, Sir Gordon, that you would have called the Amendment in page 1, line 13, at the end insert:Provided that the Secretary of State shall take such steps as will ensure that he is adequately informed on the numbers, ages and skills of the intending emigrants and operates the scheme in such manner as will safeguard any one part of the United Kingdom from losing a disproportionately large part of its people.
§ Mr. Lawson
The ruling from the Chair must be accepted, but had that Amendment been called we had hoped to stress the importance of taking the steps therein suggested. I am sure that the Committee will agree that the Amendment contains a most reasonable request. It might be argued that such was already the duty of the Minister concerned. If that is so, then I would certainly put it to the Committee that that duty is not being, and cannot be, fulfilled as the scheme would seem to be operated now.
I had not the advantage of hearing the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations speaking in the Second Reading debate, but I have read his speech very carefully. There he says—and it seemed to me that this was the kernel of the Government's policy:… the Commonwealth Governments are well aware that we cannot allow them to make too extensive inroads upon the labour forces of any particular industry or of any particular area of this country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th January. 1957; Vol. 563, c. 545–61What we feel is that the hon. Gentleman has certainly not provided himself with the means of enabling him to act in this way. If we are to be sure that we are avoiding… too extensive inroads upon the labour forces of any particular industry or of any particular area of this countrythe Government must be adequately informed of what is happening in this process of emigration and immigration.
As I see it, the Government are certainly not informed as to what is happening in those matters. In its reference to the matter yesterday, the Manchester Guardian said:In the discussion about the skilled men the country is losing, there is an almost complete lack of statistics. Nobody knows exactly who is leaving. Even the Prime Minister, when he was asked how many scientists had emigrated, could only reply that there were no figures to show"—
§ The Deputy-Chairman
What the hon. Gentleman is now discussing is very far removed from the Clause.
§ Mr. Lawson
I understood, Sir Gordon, that Clause 1 was, in fact, the Bill. I understand that the Bill concerns the powers of the Government to stimulate, among other things, emigration from this country to the Commonwealth. I understand, too, from what the Under-Secretary 1104 has said, that we have a certain policy in this matter, and I am trying to argue that this policy cannot be carried out without the required information.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
During the Committee stage of the Bill, the hon. Gentleman must confine himself to what is in the Clause.
§ Mr. Lawson
But Clause 1 covers the Bill, Sir Gordon, and that is what I am speaking about. It refers to the previous Acts and, presumably, in doing so it embraces all that those previous Acts contained, and they contained this matter.
I was trying to put the point—and I will endeavour to keep it as narrow as I can—that unless we have the information as to what, in fact, is happening, we cannot carry out this purpose. If, of course, the Under-Secretary tells me that this purpose of ensuring that there are not too serious inroads into the labour force of any of our industries or into the population of any part of the country, and if he says that it is not the concern of the Government, then, presumably, I should be out of order. However, in view of what the Under-Secretary said, I am putting the point that we must surely have this information.
In the course of the Second Reading debate the Under-Secretary said: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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th January, 1957; Vol. 563, c. 547.]It would seem that we not only lack statistics about the movement of people with particular skills from the country, but that we appear to lack statistics about many things in this matter. For example, we appear not to know the actual number of emigrants from the country. I am talking of gross figures. We find it exceedingly difficult—if we have the figure I have yet to learn it—to get to know the number of people who return to this country. We seem to be in great doubt as to the ages of the people. We must surely be in doubt about ages if we are not sure about the number of people who leave or come back to the country. We certainly do not appear to have very much information about the parts of the country from which the people come and no information at all, apparently, of the reasons for their leaving the country.
1105 It is very important not merely that we should have the net figures of the loss of people—
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman again, but I think he is trying to discuss the Amendment which was not selected. The debate is now confined to the Clause.
§ Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)
Surely it is in order to discuss the effects of Clause 1 on particular parts of the country, Sir Gordon. In Clause 1 we are approving of the expenditure of money to promote certain schemes of emigration. Surely it is in order to discuss whether it is desirable in certain cases to promote this and what effect it is likely to have.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
It is not in order to use the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," to discuss an Amendment which has not been selected.
§ Mr. Lawson
I fail to understand, Sir Gordon, what can be discussed on this Question if I cannot discuss the purposes of the Clause which, I understand, are to stimulate, encourage and induce emigration from this country. I am referring to access to the facts about it.
If I may resume on this point about the part of the country with which I am specially concerned, namely, Scotland, may I say that all the information I have been able to obtain on the question of emigration or immigration in connection with Scotland relates to the net figures? The gross figures are also important, and I make the point to the Under-Secretary of State that we ought to have them. For example, we ought to know how many natives of Scotland are leaving that country.
I do not suggest that the people we get in return are not as good because I do not know, nobody knows. We all recognise that there are people coming to Scotland, not Scotsmen, and if there is an excessive movement of people out of a country then the character of that country will be in serious danger of being submerged, or perhaps so damaged or altered that the natives of the country will be seriously concerned.
§ Mr. Brian Harrison (Maldon)
To clear our minds, could the hon. Gentleman 1106 distinguish between indigenous people and native people?
§ Mr. Lawson
The Chair is already concerned with this matter and I do not want to enter into that point. When we are dealing with Scottish people who were born several generations ago, that is good enough for me. Such people, who regard themselves as Scottish people, are indigenous as far as I am concerned.
I put the point, then, that it is important for us to keep in mind not only the net figures but also the gross figures of loss, since in this connection we can see a transformation of the culture of a country, and some of us might not want to see such a transformation. Some of us who may not be regarded as conservative are so conservative in our ideas that there are things we regard as good, and want to see maintained. If our population is swamped by other people, we are in serious danger of losing the things we value.
Turning briefly to the net figures, which are the only ones we can obtain, and again referring to the Second Reading debate, my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) indicated how seriously perturbed many people of Scotland were that Scotland might be carrying much more than her due share in this emigration programme. In replying, the Under-Secretary of State was good enough to say many kind things about Scottish people. The hon. Gentleman indicated that he, at least, had no fear for the future of Scotland. May I say that some of us do not quite share his absence of fear? The hon. Gentleman said: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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th January, 1957; Vol. 563, c. 632.1The figure which the hon. Gentleman gave was 24,000. He was taking an average figure over a number of years as the estimated loss of people from Scotland. He gave the average natural increase of the Scottish population as 33,000 a year.
We ought to be concerned with whether or not Scotland is losing a disproportionately large part of its population. Perhaps I might say, as an aside, that I am not one of those who think that every 1107 person who goes to Australia, New Zealand or Canada is a gain. That may be so, but I feel that the people who leave our country should, by and large, be regarded as losses. After a generation or two they cease to be Scottish and become Canadians, New Zealanders, or Australians.
As to whether or not Scotland is losing a disproportionately large part of its population, the increase in the Scottish population between 1939 and 1955, according to the Digest of Statistics, was 126,000 or 2.5 per cent. Over the same period the Northern Ireland population increased by 7.6 per cent. In England and Wales, taken together—the figure for Wales separately would be very different—the population increased by 7.2 per cent., and the total United Kingdom population increased by 6.7 per cent.
Had the Scottish population increased at the rate, not of Northern Ireland or England and Wales, but of the United Kingdom population, which is the lowest rate, we should have had an additional 210,000 people in our country today. It means that had our net loss been on the same basis as that for the other parts of the United Kingdom, we should have had nearly a quarter of a million more people in the country today. From a population of 5 million, we are sending out every year 24,000. Although that is the figure that we are given, I have serious doubts about it, but on that basis we find that the Scottish population is barely increasing at all.
Had I time—I gather that I have trespassed long enough—I could show that the process is going on in Scotland in many ways which I consider to be injurious, although I am not seeking to argue that we should try to stop Scotland from participating in emigration schemes. I say that we ought to have accurate information about what is happening. On the basis of that accurate information, we can then conduct these schemes in a way which will not induce Scottish people to leave their country in a much greater proportion than does the population of the rest of the United Kingdom.
It is a question not of trying to stop from emigrating those people who wish to emigrate, but of people being induced to emigrate. That is happening day 1108 after day, especially in Scotland. I am concerned that we should know more about what is happening. If that is the job of the Under-Secretary, it has not been done up to the present and cannot be done without this information. We must have the fullest and most accurate information available.
§ Mr. Ronald Russell (Wembley, South)
I hope that the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) will forgive me if I do not deal with his statistics about the United Kingdom. I want to mention a practical example of stimulating emigration which is being tried by a friend of mine who, paradoxically, emigrated from Australia to this country about thirty years ago: I hope that my hon. Friend will give his support to it. My friend's idea is to stimulate between a local authority in this country and a local authority in Western Australia—as the arrangements have not been completed, I will not reveal the names of the local authorities—a method by which Australia will take people from the housing waiting list of the local authority in this country and house them in Australia.
I hasten to add that this does not mean a subsidy from this country for the building of houses in Australia. They will be for owner-occupiers, and all that will be asked is possibly some facilities granted under the Small Dwellings Acquisition Acts. My hon. Friend will be relieved to hear that it is not a matter of a subsidy. This is a very practical example of helping emigration. This friend of mine, Mr. William Mosey of Radlett, Hertfordshire, is prepared to start the scheme by buying a plot of land on which houses can be built. As there has been so much talk over the last fifty years about emigration and as, on the whole, it has led to comparatively little action—I am not blaming anybody for that, because this is a difficult and complicated subject—when one gets a practical example of someone trying to stimulate emigration in this way, it is worth putting on the record, and I hope that my hon. Friend will be able to give his support to it.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Willis
I should like to follow the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson). It is very relevant to ask ourselves what is 1109 happening when we spend this money. Certainly in Scotland there is much public concern about what is going on. It is very difficult to get an accurate picture. I am one of those who like to see younger people displaying enterprise, initiative and the spirit of adventure. I am all for people going about the world and establishing themselves and doing the things they want to do when they are young. Certainly the older one gets, the less one is inclined to do them.
The position in Scotland is causing much concern. Attention has been drawn to it by a most authoritative source. Last May, in the Scottish Council of Industries monthly magazine, Scotland, there was a most thought-provoking article by the former Registrar-General for Scotland. It was headed:Scotland's creeping paralysis.I should like to give the Committee certain facts from that article. The writer deals with the question of emigration from Scotland, and the first point he makes is that during the first half of this century, for each person lost to England and Wales by migration Scotland lost 16 of her inhabitants, proportionately. That is a staggering figure.
He goes on to point out that this rate of emigration from Scotland seems to he maintained at a very high level. There is no evidence that it is diminishing in any respect. My hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) pointed out that it is very difficult to obtain the exact figures, but the picture certainly calls for some thought. The article points out that this emigration from Scotland is most seriously affecting what the writer calls the most vital cohort of the nation, namely, the age groups between 5 and 34 years of age.
It says that although the population has increased by about 250,000 since 1931 the number of people in Scotland between the ages of 5 and 34 was 250,000 fewer than it was in 1931, the reduction being almost equally divided between men and women. About 30,000 of this loss was due to deaths in the Second World War, but that does not diminish the still serious aspect that there were almost 250,000 fewer people in Scotland in those age groups, in spite of the increase in the population.
At the present time, when we are agreeing to spend this money, the rate 1110 of emigration seems to be continuing, and it appears that over 90 per cent. of the emigrants from Scotland are under the age of 45. It is still the younger people who are leaving Scotland. The article says:Not only do the younger age-groups provide most of the emigrants, but those are drawn from the most important industrial groups.In other words, as we would expect—and as we have been trying to encourage to a great extent—the emigrants come from the engineering, building, contracting and transport industries, and the professional, managerial and clerical occupations. The articles continues:Scotland is fast losing the trained young personnel which is so necessary for the future prosperity of her industrial system.The writer ends with this note—and it is a point to remember when considering the Bill:If the drift away from Scotland continues in the second half of the twentieth century at the same rate as was experienced in the last 50 years—and there is so far no evidence that it will not—Scotland will be a country of aged and infirm inhabitants, unsupported by an adequate industrial system, which requires youth and vigour for its operation.The Under-Secretary of State laughs, but this is no laughing matter. This is not some propagandist writing a scare-mongering article in the weekend Press. This is a very responsible publication by the Scottish Council, and this is the former Registrar-General of Scotland, Mr. Kyd, writing it.
§ Mr. Alport
I was in no way laughing at the importance of the subject; indeed, I paid a very considerable tribute to the Scottish nation when we last discussed the matter. My feeling is that I could hardly accept the prospect of Scotland ever becoming the region of decadence which the writer has forecast for it. Knowing the vitality of the Scots, I do not believe that anything like that could happen.
§ Mr. Willis
We are quite prepared to accept that little tribute, but it does not detract from the seriousness of these figures and this position, about which there has been a great deal of public controversy.
It would not be in order now to discuss in detail what should be done about it, but it lends weight to the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for 1111 Motherwell that the position should be watched. The answer briefly is that we are not providing sufficient inducements in Scotland, and here the Government have a serious responsibility—I notice that a Scottish junior Minister has just crept into the Chamber very modestly, as usual. But the fault lies with the Government. We should have as much information as possible in order to determine where we are going; to decide whether we are doing what is right in Scotland; to aid us in fulfilling our obligations to the world, and to give our youth a chance.
§ Mr. W. T. Aitken (Bury St. Edmunds)
I did not intend to intervene in this debate, but this question of information is an important and vital aspect of emigration. Those of us who take some interest in emigration will agree that the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) has done a service in raising this matter. The one thing we need is information.
One bit of information about Scotland I am able to give. I do not know whether it is of advantage to Scotland, but it is certainly of advantage to people who emigrate from Scotland. One need only look at the list of bank presidents, chairmen of universities, heads of insurance companies, and various other office holders in Canada or Australia to see that they nearly all have Scottish names. In Canada, if one has even a trace of a Scottish accent, one can dispense with a letter of recommendation or references.
There is no doubt that information of the kind described by the hon. Member is absolutely essential if we are to obtain any idea about how emigration is affected not only in this country, but in the receiving country. As a member of the Overseas Migration Board I can say that we encounter this difficulty continually. How much do we know? What kind of people emigrate? What makes them go? From what part of the country do they come, and what industries are affected? No one seems to have that information. My hon. Friend apprehends this very well. It was pointed out in some detail during the Second Reading debate.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacPherson (Stirling and Falkirk Burghs)
I wish to join with the 1112 hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Aitken) in supporting the plea of my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) for further information. We are in the dark about several things. I suggest that we need more information about the skills possessed by the people leaving this country. The most striking example given by my hon. Friend was that of the scientists, which shows how relevant is this information to present problems.
We require information also about those who return, and that has never been available. It seems to me to be an important element in estimating the success of the policy. We should try to understand what makes people come back from the country to which they had emigrated, and see whether that would help us to overcome some of the obstacles.
There is one further piece of rather more restricted information for which there is some justification in asking, and that is the distinction between people leaving Scotland for England and Wales and for overseas. That may not perhaps sound important to hon. Members who represent English, Welsh and Northern Irish constituencies, but it is a matter of considerable interest, and a quite legitimate and justifiable interest, to people in Scotland. I think that my hon. Friend is on very sound ground when he asks for a good deal more information about the people who are leaving this country, but I am not so sure that he is on such sound ground in respect of the remainder of his argument.
I am bound to say that I find a certain degree of difficulty in agreeing with a number of the things which he said, but I find even greater difficulty perhaps in relation to one of the things which the Under-Secretary of State said in his Second Reading speech in some remarks which have already been quoted by my hon. Friend:Indeed, the Commonwealth Governments are well aware that we cannot allow them to make too extensive inroads upon the labour forces of any particular industry or of any particular area of this country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th January, 1957; Vol. 563, c. 545–6.]I do not know what the hon. Gentleman meant by that. He said that we cannot allow them. What do we do if we want to stop them? We can perhaps refrain from giving what assistance we now give, but surely there is nothing we can do 1113 that will actually prevent the Commonwealth Governments making such inroads, if they are successful in attracting our people?
Beyond that point, my main quarrel is with my hon. Friend. He is quite right in putting forward the view, in which my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) supported him, that there is a certain amount of anxiety in Scotland about the apparently disproportionate number, judged by those migrating from England and Wales, of migrants from Scotland, but it does not seem to me that there is any widespread anxiety. There is a certain amount of perturbation expressed in restricted and limited quarters. One of them, curiously enough, is the authoritative quarter which has been quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East, but that quarter is authoritative on figures, rather than on the policies, feelings and interests behind them.
I do not think, so far as I can understand the Scottish people, that there is any serious worry among Scottish people generally about the fact that so many of our people have emigrated. We always have emigrated in very large numbers, and we have always taken very great pride in the fact that we have done so and in what we have done after migrating.
I certainly cannot reconcile myself to the use of the word "lost" in this connection at all. I do not think that there is any point or any sense in talking about people who are —I am sorry to put it so strongly to my hon. Friend—"lost" to Scotland. In this case, surely, what is lost on the swings is gained on the roundabouts, and what is lost to Scotland is a gain to another part of the Commonwealth. I think that probably the loss is in most cases actually a gain to humanity in general. I think it is probably true to say that most emigrants who go from Scotland, for instance to Canada, work in Canada with a bigger proportion of capital and power behind them, so that they are able to produce more there than if they had remained in Scotland, and the gain, not only to the Commonwealth but to humanity in general, seems to lie with the encouragement of emigration from Scotland.
1114 This arguing about a possible figure of 210,000 being added to the number of people in Scotland seems to me to be going into far too much detail about a matter that really is of no great significance. I am afraid that there is a certain amount of emotion in Scotland which one can only call the "Little Scotlander" attitude—the tendency to feel that Scotland should have a wall built round it and that everyone should stay inside. Though I am not accusing my hon. Friend of that, I am suggesting that some of the things that he has been saying are of a sort that might well encourage that kind of feeling, and I should not like the hon. Gentleman, the Committee, or indeed the country in general to feel that Scotland is in any great danger of taking that point of view as a nation and as a people.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
Will my hon. Friend clarify his argument a little? One might accept the general trend. Is he leading us to believe that he will ignore these figures completely? Does not he think that they represent a tendency which would be injurious to Scotland?
§ Mr. MacPherson
I do not think that they represent a tendency which we have any justification for saying would be injurious to Scotland. We do not know exactly who are going. We have no possible way of making an economic analysis of the effects on Scotland or, what is more important, a wider analysis of the political and sociological type. I should say that if we were in a position to do that we should almost certainly find that the loss to Scotland was far more than counterbalanced by the gain elsewhere.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Nicolson (Bournemouth, East and Christchurch)
I wish to make two points, both of which concern the Overseas Migration Board. We are now saying goodbye, after five years, to the Empire Settlement Act of 1952. If precedent is followed we shall not have another general discussion on the subject of migration until 1962. In the interval, responsibility for forming general policy on migration falls upon the Overseas Migration Board.
My first point is this: does my hon. Friend consider that its terms of reference are wide enough to give it the opportunity 1115 adequately to survey the whole field of migration and all the implications of a migration policy in terms of such things as strategy, Commonwealth relations, and economics, or does he consider, as I personally do, that it might be advisable to extend the terms of reference of the Board to enable it to carry out that proper survey?
The second point is a rather more delicate one. Does my hon. Friend intend to follow the example of his predecessors by taking the chair of this Board himself? Nobody could wonder for a moment about his suitability to take the chair of any board, especially this one, but he has one great disadvantage, which is that he himself is the Under-Secretary of State whom the Board is supposed to be advising. In other words, as chairman of the Board he would be advising himself. Would not it give him a great deal more freedom if he were not chairman of the Board—a great deal more freedom to reject its recommendations?
§ Mr. Nicolson
This is a one-Clause Bill. I could have made this speech upon Third Reading, Sir Charles.
§ Mr. Nicolson
I was under the impression that this was a discussion on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Chairman
Yes, and on that Question one can talk only about what is in the Clause. The hon. Gentleman is going into details which are not in the Clause. If he does not want the money to be given, he can give his reasons for that, but I do not think that the question of the chairman of the Board can be brought in.
§ Mr. Nicolson
This is a one-Clause Bill, and when we are discussing the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill" we are discussing the Bill. I submit that it is in order to raise any subject which concerns the operation of the Bill as a whole, as has been done by hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the Committee up to now.
§ The Chairman
Since I have been in the Chair the point has been made that Scotsmen do not want the money to be given, because it takes too many people away from my country.
§ Mr. Nicolson
As I cannot more directly relate my observations to Clause 1, I will resume my seat, Sir Charles. I think that I have made the two points which I wished to make.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)
I shall not take any part in the differences of opinion evinced by my hon. Friends, although I am more in agreement with the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) than with those of my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson).
Before I am ready to agree to the Clause I ask for clarification and assurance on a matter of the greatest importance not only to Scotland but to the United Kingdom. We are asked to allow money to be used to help emigrants from this country to go to certain parts of the Commonwealth. I am not opposed to that generally, but one matter perturbs me greatly. I have come across it in my own constituency and I know that it happens in other parts of the country.
My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) gave figures of the age group that has emigrated from Scotland. I imagine that the figures will apply to the whole United Kingdom. They do not mean that only people of that age group want to migrate but that only people of that age group will benefit under the Clause. The Minister ought to give close attention to this matter. I may be able to illustrate the point by giving him an instance in my constituency.
Two young men in one family wanted to emigrate to New Zealand. It was a very close family, as many Scottish and, I expect, United Kingdom families are, and the young men did not want to go without their parents and younger brothers and sisters. When they made application to be considered under the assisted-passage scheme it was found that the young men could be assisted, but not the parents, who were over the qualifying age. The result was that first one son and then the second son went, while the mother and father were left at home with the school children. The family was 1117 thereby broken up with great hardship not only to the two young men but to the rest of the family left at home. Government assistance is bad if it does not take into account the desires of the family as a whole.
I know that the parents and the younger children may get to New Zealand later, but only if the two sons are willing to sacrifice and save in order to send money home to pay their passage. The young people in that family may be willing to do that, but in some cases I think the sacrifice is too great. Even if they are willing to do it, they have to give certain guarantees that they will be responsible if it should turn out that their parents are not fit to take care of themselves when they arrive.
Any emigration scheme which allows that to happen is not, in my opinion, a good emigration scheme. It is not a good scheme from the point of view of the family and what the family can mean to every individual in it, the parents, the young people and the children. It is not a good thing from the point of view of the United Kingdom. Figures quoted for Scotland show clearly that if emigration from that part of the United Kingdom continues at its present rate, in Scotland we shall be left with a population which is very unbalanced, a population which has far too many old people and too few people between 20 and 40 years of age.
I ask the Minister tonight for an assurance that he will have this matter examined and ascertain whether it is possible, through this money which the British Government give, to ensure that there will not be this rigidly selective emigration from our country, but that everything possible will be done to ensure that families as a whole can emigrate and so give young people in the country of their choice all the benefits that good parents and a good home can give them.
§ Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)
I hesitate to intervene in a Scottish debate. I have never done so before, but I waited five hours during the Second Reading debate to get in the few words that I want to put to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary.
We are legislating, under Clause 1, to spend £1½ million a year on emigration. Since 1937 we have thought it worth voting that amount of money each year, 1118 but we have never spent it. We have spent 12 per cent. of it on an average each year. I think I can go further and say that we have deliberately restricted expenditure to that 12 per cent. I entirely understand the difficulties of the receiving countries in assimilating a great number of immigrants into their economy.
That is well set out in the Report of the Overseas Migration Board, which shows how difficult it is to provide the services for incoming migrants. That Report states, in page 9:Immigrants require housing, work-places, machines and materials to work with, consumer goods and services, etc.I should hope that in spending the £1½ million a year we should have a policy which would take into account the fact that priority should be given to what I might call those who go to service the coming immigrants—the administrators, the doctors, the distributors of consumer goods and services.
If our policy of emigration were definitely connected with specific development schemes, if in Australia, Canada and New Zealand it were found that in a particular place it was right to build a reservoir, to erect an atomic energy station, to build a bridge, construct a harbour or whatever it might be, and that X number of men were needed to do that work, those men would require Y number of men in the neighbouring town to provide the services. We should recruit from this country the Y number of men and see that that was treated with priority, before going on to the second stage, the development project.
That is the only commonsense way of treating emigration, but as I understand there is no such commonsense policy at present. I understand the policy to be merely that a list goes from some Government Department to the immigration officers of the High Commissioners saying, "Please do not accept nurses," or "Please do not accept stenographers."
I should like to ask the Minister: what is this system of lists from Government Departments? Do they come from the separate Government Departments direct to the High Commissioners, or do they pass through the Commonwealth Relations Office? Is there an organisation in the Commonwealth Relations Office 1119 which keeps track of this sort of direction as to who shall and who shall not be accepted for emigration? If there is not, and if the organisation is not within the grasp of the Commonwealth Relations Office, then it certainly ought to be if we are to vote under the Bill £1½ million a year for emigration.
I should like to see a policy worked out for the planned expenditure of this money instead of it being spent, as it has been spent in the past, only upon assisted passages. The name itself condemns it. We do not want merely assisted passages; we want assisted settlement, assisted development and assisted expansion, and we shall get that only by a policy within the grasp of the Commonwealth Relations Office and not interfered with by other Government Departments.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
I listened with interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page). Such a plea for a planned policy more often comes from this side of the Committee. It is not merely a question of planning the way the money is spent on emigrants sent, for instance, to Canada; it is a question of planning on a very much wider scale, taking the Commonwealth as a whole.
I do not think that anyone on this side of the Committee wishes to discourage emigration from Scotland, provided that it is for the right reasons. My hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) warned some of us not to be labelled as little Scotlanders. I warn him that he must be careful not to become a junior imperialist.
The fact which concerns many of us on this side of the Committee is that the figures from the 1951 Census, as analysed by the man most capable of doing it—the ex-Registrar-General of Scotland—show the effect of emigration from Scotland over the fifty years from the beginning of the century to 1951 and show a net loss of population of 1,100,000 people. Considering the kind of people who have left Scotland, this is a very serious matter for the future of Scotland.
The figures given by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) should be studied and we should 1120 consider what will happen if they continue. We have complacency here and even joy in the heart of one hon. Member opposite, but if these figures continue the future for Scotland is very serious indeed. Every young man who is driven to pack his bag and leave Scotland for Canada, Australia, or anywhere else, is a menace to the future of Scottish industry.
We must recognise that Scotsmen do not leave their country for trivial reasons. This is something which my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs forgot: the first great exodus from Scotland was caused by the Highland clearances, and in the last thirty years, certainly in the years between the wars, it was the ravages of unemployment which drove the people away. I am sorry to tell the Government that today the queues of people inquiring about emigration in Glasgow, Edinburgh and the other cities of Scotland are greater than they have been for many years. This is something that should give the Government cause for thought.
I expected an intervention tonight by the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland. In fact I had hoped that the new link-up between the Colonial Office and the new Secretary of State for Scotland, who has had charge of certain affairs there, might have resulted in his gracing our debate today and giving us the benefit of his feelings on this matter. That is the reason why I stressed at the beginning of my remarks that I did not want to discourage emigration, provided it was for good reasons—that restlessness which has taken all over the world, quite apart from economic reasons, Scotsmen who have done considerable service for our Commonwealth and other countries where they have landed.
We see again today the worst kind of reasons which are driving the people of Scotland to accept the inducements which will be given under this Clause. It may well be that because of economic circumstances that we shall spend more than the £186,000 that we spent last year. We may touch the £1½ million mark in order to cope with the rush of people who want to emigrate. I hope that when the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland intervenes, he will tell us exactly how the Scottish Office is concerned about this continual drain of the best of our people from Scotland, who are so urgently needed there.
1121 It is all very well to say that it is a gain for the places to which they go, but when we see the depopulation in the Highlands of Scotland today and the frantic efforts of the Scottish Office in voting money to try to get people back or to stay in the crofting areas, it is fantastic to see these divergent policies of the Government. They should make up their minds to do what they can to ensure that people will have freedom of choice in this matter of whether they are going to stay in Scotland or emigrate, and that the economic future of Scotland will be as assured as that of Canada, so that people can decide on some other basis than that of economic necessity.
§ Mr. Bottomley
I think that the debate on the Motion, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," has clearly shown that we need a migration policy. My hon. Friends representing Scottish constituencies who have spoken have shown quite clearly that there is a disproportionately large number of migrants from Scotland. The Overseas Migration Board, which has been looking at this matter, has not been able to give us statistics as reliable as we would wish, but there is no reason to doubt that Scottish representatives have shown clearly that it is a mater that ought to be looked at more fully.
My hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) referred to the fact that we ought to encourage migration in family units. That idea was expressed before. I was interested to hear the hon. Member for Wembley, South (Mr. Russell) suggest that we might do it on a family basis through the medium of the local authorities taking those people off their housing lists. That is very revealing because we on this side of the Committee have been saying that the Rent Bill, far from solving the housing problem, will create a greater one, and the hon. Gentleman has given us evidence to support that.
Already the Government have it in their power to do something about this. If the hon. Gentleman will look back on the records he will see that there was a scheme, when the Government were interested in developing migration, the 3,000 families scheme of people who went to Canada. I wonder whether that cannot be looked at again in order that the family basis in underdeveloped territories 1122 occupied by the Crown may be further exploited, by families being sent as units to develop those territories or unoccupied private land suitable for farming. When we talk about the spirit of adventure, that is the kind of opportunity that we want to create. I recommend that to the Under-Secretary.
I could say more about this but we are anxious to hear what the hon. Gentleman has to say, particularly in reply to those hon. Members who represent constituencies north of the Border. I hope that he will be in a position to say that there will be more consideration given to this matter and a decided policy put forward. I am interested to know that the hon. Member for Bournemouth, East and Christchurch (Mr. N. Nicolson) has joined me in suggesting that the Overseas Migration Board needs greater power. I am glad to have made a convert of him, and I make that suggestion to the Under-Secretary.
§ Mr. Alport
Perhaps I may now reply to the many interesting points that have been raised in this debate. First, I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Wembley, South (Mr. Russell) will send in details of the scheme to which he referred, because I am sure that that would be of great interest, not only to my Department but to the Overseas Migration Board. Again, I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, East and Christchurch (Mr. N. Nicolson) that the points which he has raised will be considered.
I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) was basing his remarks in some degree upon a recent article in the Manchester Guardian, but that article does not entirely represent the present practice. It is true that, from time to time, the Ministry of Labour—which is naturally the Department concerned with this information—informs the High Commissioners' offices of those skills, trades and industries which we feel should not be over-recruited at any particular time. I understand that it is not true that there is at present any embargo on the recruitment of stenographers to go overseas.
Admittedly this is not a cut-and-dried, hard-and-fast system, but it is a very effective one and, if I may say so, a very British system. It means that the Department of my right hon. Friend the Minister 1123 of Labour and the High Commissioners' offices work closely together to ensure that, whilst there is as much elasticity as possible in the appeal to migrants from this country, there is, at the same time, sufficient control to ensure that the interests of any area or industry are not unduly hampered.
I feel some diffidence in the responsibility which falls to me to speak up for Scotland, because I feel that many of the remarks made about the present and future position of that great country do less than justice to the Scottish tradition, and to the contribution which Scotsmen have made over many centuries when the wanderlust has taken them to civilisations overseas. From the days of the Darien Company onwards there has always been a strong interest in Scotland in overseas expansion in its various forms.
The point raised by the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) and by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Aitken) is one which I accept as being extremely important. We are most concerned to ensure that the information available upon which to base an approach to migration policy is as full as circumstances permit, but we must, I think, keep a sense of proportion. As I said in the Second Reading debate, and as I hope I may now say again, we do not want to clutter up the routine of arrival in and departure from this country with unnecessary questionnaires and red tape, and if we can find means of achieving the sort of information which we want, particularly the type of sociological information which was referred to, we should take steps to that end.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
Would the hon. Gentleman get the Chancellor of the Duchy to do this job as well as his other?
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Alport
We shall take every step to see that knowledge of this important subject is improved. I can also give an undertaking on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland that the interests of Scotland in this matter will be carefully borne in mind.
May I say to the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) 1124 that the scheme to which she referred was a New Zealand Government scheme and not a United Kingdom scheme. The conditions under which that scheme operates are laid down by the New Zealand Government, and we are not able, apart from putting our views forward, of course, to decide or govern the conditions which may concern it. I thought, and I am sure the Committee did, that the point made by the hon. Lady was an extremely human and interesting one, and, in so far as it concerns schemes in which we are associated with any Commonwealth Government, we shall certainly pay attention to the advice and the views which she expressed.
To turn now to the problems of Scotland, I do not think that the fears which have been expressed are fully justified. The amount of emigration from this country which is accountable to Scotland is about 12 per cent., and on a basis of population that is not far out. From the point of view of assisted passages, it is 12 per cent. of the breadwinners, and, on average, every breadwinner will take with him two dependants. Therefore, there is at any rate a cross-section by sexes and by ages, although I accept the point made earlier that there may be, and is sometimes, a discrepancy between those under 45 years of age and those over that age. On Second Reading I gave some statistics with regard to the age groups both in respect of Australia and Canada.
§ Mr. Lawson
I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. How can he be so accurate when it is admitted that we are so vague and so ill-informed on the question of the migration of people from and to this country?
§ Mr. Alport
I hope I made it clear that I was referring to assisted passages. The assisted passage scheme to Australia plays a very big part and enables us to get information which I do not say reflects completely the whole field of migration, but which, at any rate, gives us a pretty good indication of how migration is spread over the various sections.
It is not true that we do not have information about certain important aspects of this matter. For instance, we have information about those who are returning to this country from Commonwealth countries. That information is 1125 required and processed by the Board of Trade. Although it is inclined to be considerably post-dated, at the same time it gives us an indication over a period of what sort of people are coming back to this country from Commonwealth territories.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
On the matter of the statistics about assisted passages, can the hon. Gentleman give us any indication whether the importing authorities select skilled men, with the result that Scotland is left with an unbalance of skilled men, because that is one of our problems?
§ Mr. Alport
I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's point and, indeed, it is a point that has been made elsewhere. Our general information is that although, naturally, in many circumstances the recruiting country is anxious to bring over skilled migrants, it does not by any means follow that every emigrant who goes from this country is skilled, or indeed that they are making what, from our point of view, are unhealthy inroads into the skilled and technical resources of this country.
The real reason, so far as we can estimate at the present time, why there has been increased concern over this point is that with the increase in migration generally, which has undoubtedly taken place in recent months, a larger number of skilled men have gone with the general body of migrants. But we have no indication at present that the proportion of skilled men to unskilled men and to dependants is any different from what it was in the earlier days when the total volume of migration was less.
I have tried to reassure the Scottish Members who have spoken that I do not believe the present process provides any long-term danger to Scottish prosperity or to the future of Scotland. I am sure they will be the first to recognise that, as we have said earlier, irrespective of any economic conditions that may in any specific era exist in Scotland, migration from that country is a characteristic of the Scottish race.
I say this also to those hon. Members. Supposing things were getting out of balance, would they propose to this House that Scotland should be treated differently from the rest of the United Kingdom? Should we apply restrictions to the movements of our Scottish friends 1126 which we would not apply to the English or Welsh or anyone else? I am certain that is not their intention. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Why suggest it"?] Because that was the logical conclusion from the arguments put forward.
In these circumstances I believe that hon. Members have not entirely followed the direct interests of Scotland in this matter. I speak as one who is half Scots. I do not think it is right to portray Scotland as being unable or unlikely in the future to play her real part in the contribution which this country is making, through migration, to the development of the great Commonwealth, and to those countries with which Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom have had long associations of population, race and culture.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
Before the hon. Gentleman sits down, would he deal with this point? He mentioned the figure of 12 per cent. of the assisted passages scheme. Were those assisted passages to Australia? Or were they to Canada, which is mainly the place that is causing concern to Scotland?
§ Mr. Alport
To Australia. It is true, however, and I made the point during the Second Reading debate, that a great deal of the movement of population is between Scotland and Canada. The fact is, however, that there is no reason to suppose that the proportion of overall migration is different, according to the figures available at present. In fact we believe it to be the same figure of 12 per cent. so far as the Scottish contribution is concerned.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.