§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (EARL STANHOPE)
My Lords, this is a very short Bill with really only one operative clause, but it is of considerable importance and, we hope, likely to be of more importance in the near future than at the present day. The main object of the Bill is to extend for a further fifteen years the Empire Settlement Act of 1922, which comes to an end on the 31st of May next. If nothing were done it means that the Government would be unable to provide any arrangements for the Fairbridge Farm Schools. Emigration as a whole has come to a stop, apart from one or two movements of that kind and the union of families which is still going on in some parts of His Majesty's Dominions. That is the main object of the Bill, to allow the Secretary of State to continue to assist emigration for a further fifteen years.
451 There are two other points in the Bill. The first is that under the previous Act of 1922 the Secretary of State was not allowed to expend more than 50 per cent, of any contribution which was made on behalf of emigration. The remainder had to be found either by a private society or private organisation or by a Government in one of His Majesty's Dominions. Now, under subsection (2), the Secretary of State is given the power to contribute up to 75 per cent, instead of 50 per cent., primarily to private organisations and voluntary societies. As your Lordships will see, there is a proviso to that to say that he shall not be allowed to contribute more than 50 per cent., instead of 75 per cent., in regard to a land settlement scheme, or "a scheme towards the expenses of which the Government of a part of His Majesty's oversea Dominions have agreed to contribute." The reason for these two provisions is that we felt that a development scheme is quite as much a benefit to the country where that development takes place as it is to us here in sending our people to them, and therefore we felt it only right that at least 50 per cent, should be contributed by the country concerned. Similarly, in regard to schemes in which a Dominion or a State Government takes a share, I think your Lordships will all agree that the very last impression we wish to give is that of desiring to push people out to the Dominions if the Dominions do not wish to have them, and therefore the principle is maintained that the Government concerned in the Dominion shall contribute at least 50 per cent, of the cost.
One further point, which was taken a good deal of notice of in another place, is that under the previous Act of 1922 the Secretary of State was allowed to contribute up to £3,000,000 sterling a year. Under the present Bill it is proposed that that sum should be reduced to £1,500,000, half of what it was before. That does not mean, as my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Dominions made quite clear, that we have half the keenness that we used to have in regard to emigration. It is merely bringing the contribution that the State is asked to make somewhere more in accordance with the fact. The fact is that even in 1926, 1927 and 1928, the peak 452 years of emigration, the expenditure never exceeded £1,282,000. That was the peak figure in 1927. In 1926 and 1928 it was slightly less. The Government feel that a sum of £1,500,000 is ample to cover the expenditure that is likely to be incurred. At the same time my right honourable friend made it clear in another place that if a really suitable land settlement scheme was brought forward which we and the Dominion Government concerned thought should be supported, he would not hesitate to come forward and ask for a grant from Parliament to cover such a scheme.
He said also that he had not a great belief in these land settlement schemes. Nor indeed have I, particularly after reading what has happened in the past. Not many of them have been a success. In fact some of them have been a bad failure and actually the number of emigrants who went out on land settlement schemes in the ten years before 1931 was only 3 per cent, of the whole. The then Secretary of State, Mr. Amery, expected that out of £3,000,000 at least £2,000,000 would be spent on land settlement and only £1,000,000 on assisted emigration. In point of fact the figures have worked out almost exactly the other way round. Therefore it does not seem very likely that a land settlement scheme would be brought forward. Should such an expenditure be asked for, the Government hold themselves free to recommend it to Parliament if it is thought a wise measure.
I think there is little further I need say to your Lordships at the moment. Inquiries have been made from the Dominions whether there was a likelihood of emigration being started in the near future. There is some slight hope from Australia but very little hope from the other Dominions. Even from Australia only two of the six States thought emigration was at all possible and they were asking chiefly for young farm students such as the Fairbridge Farm School boys or for women to go into domestic employment. So that at present it does not look as if there was a likelihood of any emigration starting again. My right honourable friend felt, however, not only that he ought to be empowered to continue these fine schemes such as we all approve of, like the Fairbridge Farm Schools, but that at any rate we in this country should have everything ready so that, once emigration 453 starts, there should be no delay whatever in assisting any scheme which may be brought forward. I hope therefore that your Lordships will approve this Bill and will give it a Second Reading.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Earl Stanhope)
§ LORD MARLEY
My Lords, I intend to say a word or two only on this Bill, but if I might venture to widen the scope of the discussion for two or three minutes I do not think it would be by any means a waste of time. We have reached a stage in the world situation when the question of oversea settlement of unoccupied areas is of very great importance. It is of great importance in view of the very debate which has been occupying your Lordships' House during the last three days, because one at least of the claims of certain of the powers is that we are not making use of the unoccupied spaces of the British Empire, that we do actually have areas such as Australia, which is greater in area than the United States of America, or Canada, which is equally greater in area than the United States of America, both of which have only two or three people to the square mile, compared with a hundred or more in the United States. There is a feeling—whether it is justified or not, it is very difficult to say—that the Dominions are not altogether helpful in this matter, and their present lack of population may be used as a weapon by other countries who claim that they are over-populated and that we are not making use of the lands within the British Empire. This is a serious matter. We have in the past done things to remedy the situation. The noble Earl referred to the failure of certain land settlement schemes, and everybody will have in mind the Victoria settlers' experiment, which was a ghastly failure and which evidently was undertaken with insufficient inquiry beforehand as to the possibilities of success.
I do not think that the claim of the over-populated countries is quite as real as some speakers imagine. In the first place it is a fact that the rate of increase of the population of these over-populated countries is diminishing; Japan, for example, will have a stationary population somewhere about 1960. The rate of increase of the Japanese population is diminishing so rapidly, by reason I suppose of the use of birth control appliances 454 or from voluntary abstinence or other reasons, that though Japan may be said to be anxious at present for a population outlet, the necessity will diminish as the years go by. But it is the immediate problem that has to be faced, the problem of the next few years. I would therefore suggest that it might be worth the consideration of the Government that rather more energy should be put into this question, and perhaps a broader examination made of the whole problem of the density of population in the various Dominions. We know that the claim by Germany for Colonies has been put forward for three reasons. I need not go into the reasons of raw materials and markets, but the claim has been put forward for Colonies for population reasons, and we cannot deny that full use is perhaps not being made of the land which is under our jurisdiction. I gather that the attempts made to increase the population both in Germany and in Italy have not been a great success in spite of the propaganda efforts of the Governments. Nevertheless the actual increase of population, even at a diminishing rate, is sufficient to give some force to the claim of those countries for more land for their peoples.
Then we come to the question, which I do not think has ever been clear in our own minds, as to whether in fact we want young men and women to emigrate from Great Britain. Somehow it always seems to me that there is a contradiction in our own minds. We want the best of our people—the finest workers, the most energetic, and the strongest of these young men and women—to remain in our own country, and yet we have a responsibility to the Dominions to send our best to help them in their development. I cannot help thinking that we ought really to think out a little more what we really want. Perhaps the noble Earl would say that we do not press this too much because we do not want to lose these fine young men and women. At the same time we do not want to stop them going if they wish to do; we desire, in fact, to give them some help. But that is not quite enough. I cannot help thinking that the matter is worth consideration from a broader point of view than that of Great Britain. The Empire is vitally concerned in this question of the redistribution of our population, and I would like to see it made much more easy, if possible, for 455 people to move about the Empire in order to try out whether they like the conditions, say in Australia or Canada. I am convinced that if this matter were treated on rather broader lines, we should find that the possibilities of Empire settlement are diminishing every year. They are diminishing because our population is increasing at a very diminishing rate. There is less and less possibility of a surplus population. I am not speaking about the unemployed, because that is not the core of this problem. It is not a question of unemployed or unemployable people, it is a question of the young, fit, fine men and women, and I am inclined to think that we shall find that it is increasingly impossible to take any large part in the population of those parts of the Empire which have not been adequately populated.
The inquiry which I have suggested might help us to meet one other problem which is facing the world—a problem which personally I have very much at heart because I am interested in minorities—and that is the possibility of settlement in various parts of the Empire of those Eastern European Jews who are good workers and good citizens but who, owing to economic conditions, are utterly unable to get a living in places like Poland, where the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister have recently told us that they have a surplus population of something like seven or eight million, Jews and non-Jews. Some of these at least might make valuable citizens under the influence of the leadership of those who are governing so well our oversea Dominions. I am inclined to think that this would be worth some inquiry in connection with the matter we are discussing.
That brings me to my final point. Your Lordships will know that we are facing considerable difficulties in one of the British Mandated Territories—Palestine—and one of the problems there has been the enormous pressure on Palestine to take more and more of these Eastern European Jews who do not know where to go and cannot live in their own country. If we could relieve the pressure on these people of Palestine by finding for them some other area within the Empire it would diminish the difficulty we are having owing to the Arabs' resistance to the increase of immigration into that country. We might thus be 456 able to make a valuable contribution to a solution of the difficulties which this House has been debating for three days, in helping a large number of human beings in their great difficulties in Eastern Europe, in helping our own Dominions to find, a valuable source of new population and new workers, and in helping to deal to some extent at any rate with the Palestinian problem which is of increasing and not diminishing difficulty among the problems facing Great Britain to-day.
§ LORD STONEHAVEN
My Lords, I seldom enjoy the luxury of agreeing with so much of what noble Lords on the other side of the House say. Indeed, I was getting quite nervous until I comforted myself with a quotation from a speech made by the very able Premier of New South Wales when he was discussing this question of migration before the Empire Parliamentary Association. This is what he said:I am going to take the risk of suggesting that the problem, which I would not call migration, but would rather describe as Imperial development, is much bigger than any one of these schemes ever can be.That, I think, is thoroughly endorsed by the noble Lord opposite, and I fancy it is also endorsed by all your Lordships; but I am bound to say I was disappointed in two things in the speeches of the Secretary of State in another place and in the speech of my noble friend who moved the Second Reading of the Bill.
My noble friend referred solely to land settlement. The title of the Bill is "Empire Settlement," and I agree wholly with what the noble Lord opposite said, not merely as to the desirability, but the vital and imperative necessity, of attacking this great Imperial question from a much wider standpoint than it is dealt with in this little Bill. We ought to notice that the reduction in the sum which is made available for assisting migration is am indication of the failure of the system of assisted migration. What I was disappointed at in the speech of the Secretary of State in another place—and a similar speech was made by my noble friend—was that the Government seem content to sit down under that failure, and show no indication of realising the seriousness of that state of affairs and the appalling need in the Imperial interest—for reasons given by the noble Lord opposite and for other reasons as well—of finding a solution of this vital question.
457 I am not impressed with the complaint of Germany that we have got too much land and she has got too little, because the Germans are excellent colonists in countries which are not ruled by Germany, and there are some places that we all know in Australia where there are most striving German communities who are not only very good Australians who did extremely well in the War, but who are doing equally well in peace. Indeed, so good are these communities that you almost know when you get into one of them because of the state of the housing and the land which they farm. But that is only by the way. The question is how are we going to get not so much migration as the redistribution of the white people of the Empire which is so badly wanted. That must be the result of a process of attraction. It cannot be the result of propulsion. This Bill is mainly propulsion—that is, you endeavour to persuade somebody to go oversea on the understanding that it will cost him nothing and he can try his hand.
The first limitation you must get rid of is the idea that land settlement is the only way to redistribute population. The noble Lord opposite, if he will forgive me for saying so, fell into an error very common in respect to Australia. Australia, it is true, is very nearly 3,000 square miles in extent, but one-third of that is not inhabitable. It always has been uninhabitable, and it always will be, because of the great irregularity of the rainfall. Another third also suffers from such irregular rainfall that it never will be thickly inhabited. I remember asking a man in that area what he considered a living area for a settlement. He said, "40,000 acres." And it was true, because in that district bad seasons were the normal, and a man had to have a sufficient area to get over five or six bad seasons running. Then he would have a boom year and a carry-over. You have also to take into account that 40 per cent. of Australia is inside the Tropics. But you have got 650,000 or 750,000 square miles of magnificent country and glorious climate obviously capable of holding a very much larger population than that country now possesses.
It was agreed, and wisely agreed, at Ottawa that secondary industries must be encouraged in the Dominions, and it is quite clear that by merely increasing the number of people who are producing 458 either agricultural or pastoral products you are going to make the situation worse rather than better. Each of these great Dominions—I can only speak with any slight authority about Australia—is determined to be a real nation, a perfectly legitimate ambition and one which all are capable of achieving. But does not that mean that we ought to consider rationalising Imperial industry as a whole? Even agriculture is capable of being rationalised. We are wisely, I think, concentrating—this is not a Party question, all sections of the community are concentrating—on improving nutrition in this country. As one example out of many, we could produce here all the liquid milk and all the manufactured milk that we require, and we could get from Australia and New Zealand all the butter that we require. It is easy to give an example of that kind. It may be quite impracticable, but it is a suggestion worth going into. Secondary industries are far more important because you can absorb far more people in secondary industries than in primary industries, and by increasing the number of people engaged in them you are going to increase your number of customers. There again the question of rationalisation comes in. We here, with our long experience and large amount of capital and wonderful equipment, can produce the more complicated articles of secondary manufacture. There are many things that Australia, with her great resources in ores, coal, water power, and so forth, can produce, but it is necessary that we should agree what we will produce and what Australia will produce.
In that way you will induce people to go overseas, by the only inducement that ever is effective—namely, the knowledge that they are going to enjoy the kind of life that they will like. Things are quite different from the old days when the "gold rush" attracted so many people from this country, because no man can leave this country now without forfeiting a tremendous amount of rights in the way of social services, and, quite rightly, they are not inclined to forfeit these rights. But for the reasons given by the noble Lord, and for many other reasons, it is not sufficient to leave these great Dominions so thinly populated as they are now. My only complaint, so far as the Government are concerned, is that I have not seen any indication in the speeches either 459 of the Secretary of State or of my noble friend of their taking advantage of the failure of these Empire settlement schemes to put all their energy into devising something that is likely to be more successful.
In the year 1926, after the Imperial Conference, the very able Prime Minister of Australia, the present High Commissioner here, took great pains to collect a Commission of four business men of very high standing to go out to Australia and report to him. These were the terms of reference:To confer with the Commonwealth and State Governments, with the Development and Migration Commission and the leaders of industry and commerce in Australia, on the development of Australian resources, and on any other matters of mutual economic interest to Great Britain and the Commonwealth, which may tend to the promotion of trade between the two countries and the increase of settlement in Australia.I think the time has come when that work requires to be done over again, and if your Lordships will bear with me for a minute I should like to read an extract from the General Conclusions of this highly qualified Commission, which consisted of the late Sir Arthur Duckham, Lord Hirst, Sir Ernest Clark, who is now Governor of Tasmania, and Mr. D. O. Malcolm, whom many of us know.
The General Conclusions were as follows:Our terms of reference, it will be observed, lay emphasis on the problems of the promotion of trade and commerce between Great Britain and Australia and of the increase of settlement in Australia.All these are things of vital interest to the Empire to-day.
It early became clear to us that these problems should be approached from the point of view of what is best for Australia herself in the belief that the increase of Australia's prosperity and productivity is an essential condition of increased trade with Great Britain. Given the maximum possible prosperity and wealth production in Australia, the ties between Australia and Great Britain are sufficiently close and the sentiments of common loyalty which bind the one to the other are sufficiently strong to secure that the maximum commercial intercourse will follow. Given the maximum possible power of absorbing population in Australia her determination to remain the most British community in the world is sufficiently strong to secure that it will be from Great Britain that the flow of immigration will come. But if the desired conditions of Australian prosperity and power to absorb population are not present, artificial means of promoting trade with and migration from Great Britain must fail.460 That was written in the peak year of assisted emigration into Australia. It only amounted to 31,000 even then. That is quite inadequate.
I wish that I had much more influence with your Lordships and with the Government than I can possibly claim, but I suggest that now is the moment when they ought to put their best men on to examining the very questions that we were examining in 1926, here in this country, not in Australia so much. We have got this Report on Australia, and it is quite easy to get into touch with Australia. What is necessary is that our great manufacturers here should get a clear idea of what it is that they can profitably make and what it is that Australia can profitably make, and thus rationalise the resources of the two great countries. No doubt the same is equally true of New Zealand, of Canada and of South Africa. I think it is very important that the whole problem should be treated as one Imperial problem, not playing one Dominion off against another. Of course, nobody would do that deliberately, but it might appear to be done. It should be treated as one great Imperial problem. I suggest that there is no time to waste and that the question ought to be discussed at the forthcoming Imperial Conference. There can be nothing more important, and everybody knows that a Conference for which inadequate preparation has been made had much better not meet at all, for it is bound to end in failure and misunderstanding and may even produce very grave results. I suggest, therefore, with all the energy I command, that nothing is more urgent than that the Government, in the short time which intervenes between now and the meeting of the Imperial Conference after the Coronation, should take advantage of the strong Imperial spirit which will pervade the country and the Empire at that time, to try really to get something which will prevent them ever again coming to Parliament with so inadequate a measure as this, which is such a confession of failure, not of their efforts but of the efforts of the country as a whole to tackle our most important problem.
There is more than that. Yesterday one of your Lordships asked what was really meant by collective security, and everybody's face and the back of everybody's head that I could see on this side of the House indicated complete 461 blank and ignorance. Nobody could describe what was meant by collective security. If you have collective development of the Empire collective security will follow with it, and I believe that is the only form of collective security which it is possible to achieve. Every other form is merely a phrase. By achieving collective security of the Empire you are going to contribute more to the peace of the world than by any other single step you can take. I trust, therefore, that His Majesty's Government will find it possible to put in hand this inquiry. The time is short, but it is better to take full advantage of a short time than not to do it at all. I believe that if they approach the Dominions in this sense and put their best men on to the job, there is a prospect of getting more advantage out of the forthcoming Imperial Conference than has been got out of any Conference that has been held hitherto.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LONDON
My Lords, I do not often intrude myself upon your Lordships' attention, but I take such a deep interest in this question that I should like to add a few words to what has been said. This is a burning and vital question, much more so than most people imagine. In the first place, I quite agree with my noble friend Lord Marley, that from the point of view of the world it is a most dangerous thing to have an empty Empire in the midst of land-hungry peoples. This dog-in-the-manger policy of keeping the land and failing to fill it with people is a most dangerous one. I do not see any answer to that argument. I regard this question of Empire settlement as a way out of our difficulties at home, not as a way out of our unemployment difficulties but as a check to that miserable propaganda of birth control which I believe to be doing a tremendous amount of mischief. When we came away from the Lambeth Conference with that really misunderstood resolution the Bishop of Athabasca said to me: "We want more children in Athabasca; we want them all the time." The idea that we are to have less and less population here is all wrong, and we are beginning to find out the mischief of it. We shall presently see that our deaths will be greater than our births. This birth control propaganda, which has been carried on for so many years now, is the greatest possible mistake.
462 I have just come from Canada. In Canada—and those who know that Dominion will agree with this—their overhead charges are so great that they cannot pay their way. The railways cannot pay their way because they are fitted for 25,000,000 people and there are only about 10,000,000. If they had a greater population the railways would pay and their industries would pay. A leading railway man said to me: "What we want is 10,000,000 more Britishers here." When I was speaking at the Press Conference at Toronto this summer a speaker said they wanted to bring more American money into Canada and make Canada a playground. I burned with indignation at the idea that our great Dominion of Canada should be turned into a playground for the United States. So I stood up and put the other side. I said: "What you want are 10,000,000 more Britishers." I am glad to say I got a rousing cheer.
The great danger is that the Empire may not remain British. In Edmonton thirty languages are spoken. I do not want to prevent people coming in from other nations but we must not have the Empire swamped by foreigners. Of course there are enormous difficulties. My old host in Australia, who spoke before me and gave me such a kind reception, will remember the labour position. Men who had £4 10s. wages were mortally afraid of more people corning in to lower the standard of wages. Mr. Lang, who was then in power, said to me: "We want no more interference from another island ten thousand miles away." I asked him: "Who keeps you safe day and night from the Japanese Fleet?" He had no answer to give. There is that strong labour position. Even in New Zealand, where you get such a wonderfully cordial reception, a man said something to me which was rather disquieting. I had been speaking about their great open spaces and he replied: "Are there no open spaces in England? What about the great parks of your noblemen? Are they all filled up? "Another man said that they had a very nice bit of the world's surface and meant to keep it to themselves. In 1881 when a woman went out with her family to Australia she was hissed in the streets and told that they had quite enough people already. Therefore there is the double difficulty of the fear of wages going down 463 and the feeling that, having a nice place, they do not want any more people in it.
There is a further difficulty that there is a certain amount of unemployment although it is very small as compared with unemployment in England. What is still worse is the want of markets. As my train left Melbourne they shouted after me: "We will have your people if you will have our plums" I had been round the irrigated land. The more you irrigate the land the more fruitful it becomes; but who is to buy the fruit? That is an important point to realise. There are two more difficulties I want to mention before I make an appeal to the Government. There is the steady opposition at present of the Dominions to taking more people. Of course we cannot do anything about that. They are self governing, and they are suffering from misfits in the past. It was distressing to see in Canada in 1907 the notice: "No Englishman need apply." That is the result of sending out the wrong people. We are suffering now from what has happened in the past and from the wicked system of steamship companies dumping people of all sorts into Canada.
The appeal I would make to the Government is for a more sympathetic attitude. I had a two-hour interview with the Minister for Migration in Australia—a very good man—and he said: "You must realise, Bishop, that development of the country must go hand in hand with migration." Of course that is so. It is no good having a lot of people unless you develop the land. What I cannot help feeling is that we are spending about £100,000,000 on keeping people alive in England and that part of that sum might well be devoted to giving them a happy life overseas. In Canada, New Zealand and Australia, I met a number of people who, when I asked if they would go back to England, replied: "Oh, we would like to see the old place again but we would not go back to stay." I have sent thirty-five nephews and nieces to Canada and four to Australia, and I think we all ought to send our young people out in the spirit of adventure. If the representatives of the Home Government and the Dominion Governments would talk the whole matter over, they might find a way of spending money in developing the country and getting people settled in the Dominions. I hope the Government 464 will approach this question in a more hopeful spirit in order to make the Empire more than ever the brightest jewel of the British Crown.
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, I listened with keen attention to the speech made by the noble Earl in moving the Second Reading of this Bill here and also to the speech of the Secretary of State for the Dominions in another place. We are all familiar with the great difficulty when approaching this problem of avoiding attaching one's remarks to any particular Dominon; but it is very difficult to get any view which is general to all the Dominions. Your Lordships will be familiar with the Report issued by the Inter-Departmental Committee on Migration Policy and with other reports which have been issued by various bodies since. There is no lack of recognition of the importance of this problem. It is fortunate that the present Secretary of State for the Dominions has himself made a world tour and that the Under-Secretary has recently paid a visit to two of the leading Dominions. The Government, therefore, have access to full information as to the current position.
I think there is little in the speech of the noble Earl with which one could disagree, but it seemed to me to display a lack of imagination and a lack of realisation of the widespread and intense feeling that here is a problem that demands immediate close examination by the Government. I regret that the opportunity was not seized to give to your Lordships some encouragement to believe and hope that the Government are going to address themselves more energetically to this problem. I also regret that the proposals include a suggestion to reduce the amount of the Vote. On that point, however, it would be not easy to say for what purpose we should keep on the Estimates an amount which in no circumstances, as the mover has said, could possibly be used even in a peak year of emigration; and he gave the additional safeguard that in the event of further sums being needed the Government would undertake to make the necessary provision. But at the moment when this question of the redistribution of the white population of the Empire is receiving so wide an attention, is it not a little unfortunate that the Government should give opportunity to the Press throughout the world to suggest that the British Government, in a counsel of despair, are ad- 465 mitting that there is no hope of employing so meagre a sum as £2,000,000 sterling for this purpose? The figures are immaterial; the principle is the thing to which I wish to draw your Lordships' attention.
We are indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Marley, for suggesting that the scope of the debate might with profit be enlarged. I am sure that your Lordships will agree that we are fortunate in the intervention of the noble Lord, a former Governor of Australia, who spoke with great authority and knowledge particularly with regard to Australia, with which he is so well fitted to deal. The right reverend Prelate who intervened just now drew attention to Canada. He reminded your Lordships of what you have all heard, those of you who travel: how much the financial stability of Canada requires additional population. Look at the railroad system, which was built for twice the population that uses it to-day. I lived in the United States for the greater part of six or eight years before the War; I lived on the Eastern seaboard, and saw the inflow, ship after ship, and realised what immigration meant. Your Lord ships will remember that the average figures for the four years before the War were between 800,000 and 900,000 immigrants a year into the United States. Can it be denied that this immense inflow gave a tremendous impetus to the plant expansion which was required for the service of so rapidly growing a population, in addition to the enormous growth of prosperity which it brought to the population?
You know how rapidly the population of the United States grows now. I mention this because it has been suggested by the noble Lord opposite that the territory of Australia, for instance, is greater than that of the United States, and he was very rightly reminded by the noble Lord the former Governor-General of Australia that if you apply the same rainfall area to Australia as you have in the reasonably populated parts of the United States, it is only equivalent to one-third and not to three-thirds. Therefore in the United States and in Canada we see, as in Australia, how great would be the development of secondary production if one could assist the inflow of immigrants. That is a point which needs to be emphasised. To-day emigration contemplates not only primary production 466 but more particularly secondary production, the development of which ensures the consumption of primary produce. If one remembers that in Australia to-day about two out of every three head of cattle and three out of every five head of sheep which are killed in Australia are consumed locally, one realises the intensity of that problem. But I return to the United States. That great inflow of population into the United States to-day means that if you deduct deaths from births, emigration from immigration, you have a net increase of one every thirty-seven seconds. That Continent to begin with obviously had a small population, but it has grown.
The question of defence is one which comes very properly into this debate. Surely the defence value of the people of the Dominions is obvious. One should always remember, also, that Britishers oversea are bigger potential consumers than if they remained in the United Kingdom, because in most of the Dominions the standard of living is higher. Reference has also been made to the demand from other nations for a bigger proportion under their jurisdiction of the more thinly settled parts of the world. That demand is not absent from the minds of those who feel that this question is emphatically one which needs to be dealt with, and I refer to the hope that there will be less lack of imagination in the Government.
Let us just think for a moment of the question of cost. It is always said that schemes that have been attempted in the past have been failures, have been costly, and that no attempt ought to be made to repeat them. I turned up to-day, as nearly as I could find it, the amount which this country has spent in the distribution of unemployment relief benefits under the contributory scheme—in more homely language, what we have paid in the last eight years to enable people to do nothing. The figures which I was given, and which I think are approximately accurate, amount to over £600,000,000 since 1928, to say nothing of what we spent before. It is hard to believe that Imperial statesmanship could not have devised some means of providing that some of the inescapable developments which have taken place in our Colonial Empire should absorb some of the people who have received that money. It must be admitted that the money spent in the 467 United Kingdom on the "dole" all goes into circulation and is spent in various ways to the advantage of this country, but if one regards the Empire as one family one realises that, to take shipping services alone, the carriage of emigrants would materially contribute to lessening unemployment in the shipping industry.
I should like the noble Earl who has moved the Second Reading of this Bill to give, if he can, some indication of whether there is any current examination of the possibility of compounding and making transferable to the different British Dominions where social service legislation already exists the benefits which have accrued, or ought to accrue, to those who have paid contributions under the social service schemes in this country. It is perfectly obvious that unless and until some provision is made for the transfer of the individual with retention of the benefits which accrue from the payments that are made, the inclination of people of the right kind to emigrate will be slowed down unless they can be positively assured of their living in the Dominion of their choice.
In speaking of Canada there is a point which is puzzling that was relatively small. A part of the capital available for the development of industry in Canada has been provided by the United Kingdom. I do not refer to transportation—the railroads, which are so lavish—but in industry itself it would seem that the fact that so large a part of the activities of Canada are carried on by capital provided outside the Empire is a thing which deserves attention. We see appeals for capital for industrial purposes regularly in South Africa. They come rarely from Australia or New Zealand, but that question of Canada is something it is difficult to understand. Perhaps the freer investment of British funds in the Dominions would help. Mr. Bruce has already called attention to that on more than one occasion and has emphasised how important it is.
Of the various industries the noble Lord, Lord Stonehaven, referred to the primary productions in Australia. We realise, as is frequently said, that Australia travels on a sheep's back. We can see that the sheep population of Australia to-day is above where it was in 1891 but the wool production is just 468 about doubled. The moral to be drawn from that is that increased and improved husbandry can increase the value of land. The same applies to a larger part of the territory of Australia where, by planned improvement, that is the improvement of herbage and much denser sheep or cattle, population can be carried, and that is the real point of closer settlement. Closer land settlement will come best from the Australian authorities rather than from those abroad. The secondary industries would be better developed by immigrants from this country. I realise that in the case of Australia the big pastoral companies, which represent so large an amount of British capital, have done a great deal in the development of Australia. It seems unfortunate that when there is this machinery of the big pastoral companies, more imagination could not have been used by those directing such funds to collaborate and take a part in this closer settlement. They have access to information, they have the staffs with knowledge and they have the past records and experience. It would have seemed that if instead of working individually they could have studied the collective interests of the Empire they could, without any great sacrifice on their part, have shown the Dominion Governments and the United Kingdom Government what could be done to develop more rapidly what is agreed to be of so much importance.
Remembering that in the case of Australia initiation must come from the States, endorsements must be given by the Federal Governments and a conference mist take place with the Imperial Government, it will be realised that the machinery is very complicated. There are all sorts of by-roads which may be used and give reason for neglect of doing anything, but it is to be hoped that the Government will not take cover in these various by-roads. Would it not be possible to apply to Empire migration the principle of private enterprise? By that I mean that private gain would not be excluded. It is right to assume that some machinery could be used which would be based on private enterprise. I am loth to suggest as examples the great chartered companies and corporations which in the past received grants and subsidies or concessions, but they were al based on the idea of personal gain. Is it wrong that the same thing should 469 be applied to Empire migration? In each Dominion there could be some corporation which would charge itself under privileged conditions with the problem of the redistribution of the population as regards that Dominion. I know that proper safeguards would be required and they would be accepted—safeguards that not more than a certain amount of profit should be made. It is often suggested: "Oh, but such an idea of private enterprise could not be allowed"; but is there very much difference between the composure and resignation of the moment to the generous current profits on armaments—profits conceded to individual shareholders out of the necessities of the nation—and the fact that private profits might be made by those who assisted, under proper safeguards I repeat, in the proper redistribution and migration of population? The Overseas Settlement Board has been an official recommendation of various Committees that have sat. The various recommendations of that Board cover a very large part of the ground. There has been no lack of examination of the problem.
In conclusion I would again appeal to the Government to recognise that there is this widespread interest in the need of something being done. To suggest nothing more than is suggested in this Bill seems to be an implied admission of failure. If one compares the figures quoted and the object with the lavish generosity and resolution of the current armaments problem, one would think that more could be suggested. What better rearmament than a flash throughout the world that Britain's intensified development of her family and her Imperial possessions is determined on? We have the intense patriotism of the Dominion leaders, we have the loyalty to the Throne, we have for instance in New Zealand, where there is a Labour Government for the first time, the fervent faith of Mr. Savage in the Empire heritage. Surely we want to refute the suggestion that there is no desire to emigrate. There is still a spirit of adventure, adventure in business and in emigration. That is what we must maintain, and because of that I am willing to hope that His Majesty's Government will realise that an opportunity still exists for acting on the clear suggestion of my noble friend the former Governor-General of Australia, that there is time between now and the 470 assembly here of so many Dominion authorities in connection with the Coronation, for something really to be done.
§ EARL STANHOPE
My Lords, on this occasion at any rate my sins have been those of omission rather than of commission, because apparently I did not make clear to some of your Lordships matters that have been raised by other noble Lords during the debate. May I set at rest at any rate the fears expressed by more than one speaker that nothing is being done in this matter? The Overseas Settlement Board has the problem under the most serious consideration and is examining every aspect of it. His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom are at any rate doing all they can at this end.
That brings me to the point I desire to make. I was amazed to find that in almost every speech, with the exception of that of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, this matter was treated as if it were one for the Government in the United Kingdom. Of course, it is nothing of the kind. Everybody in this House knows that His Majesty's Governments in the Dominions are the people who are responsible. It is no good our shipping the best of our people off to the far ends of the earth, only to find that when they arrive in Australia or New Zealand or other parts of the Empire they are not admitted. The reason was given by the Bishop of London when he said that at any rate a good deal of the opposition arises from the fact that there is already a certain amount of unemployment in the Dominions, and the trade unions in particular are anxious that their wages, which are extremely high, should not be under-cut by the existence of a surplus of labour. That does not mean that the Governments there do not realise the necessity for emigration, still less does it mean that His Majesty's Government in this country do not. It is quite clear that there is a danger to the Empire by having wide open spaces with so thin a population. That is a matter which we are taking up, and have been taking up, with the Dominions consistently, but it is for them to say when the moment has arrived when they can take more people without increasing their unemployment and the difficulties which exist there. The noble Lord, Lord Barnby, referred to the amount spent on unemployment 471 pay in this country, but if you put a man on board ship and send him to Australia, he does not thereby become employed. He may equally be unemployed when he arrives in Australia.
That brings me to the question of markets. The whole of this question of the re-allocation of the population of the Empire is so immense that in view of other matters coming before your Lordships I must be brief. But if we could extend the markets between this country and the Dominions, and still more between the Dominions and this country, we should go a long way towards solving that problem. But the problem is not quite so simple as that. Noble Lords know—those who are interested in agriculture know it only too well—that the amount of produce sent to the home country from the Dominions has increased by an enormous tonnage and percentage during the last few years, largely as a result of the Ottawa Agreements. The question of markets has to be very carefully watched. If a flood of produce comes to this country greater than we can consume, down goes the price, and not only does the home producer suffer, but so also does the producer in the Dominions. And that is, in fact, what has largely happened. One of the reasons why there has been unemployment and difficulty in the Dominions is that the cost of primary products has fallen so materially in the past few years. That is beginning to right itself, and prosperity is beginning to reappear in the Dominions, as it is here. There is a bigger consumption, and therefore a bigger market, both here and in the Dominions.
That of course reacts on the secondary industries, to which the noble Lord, Lord Stonehaven, referred, and the Government in this country have more than once stated their cordial agreement with the view that to strengthen the Dominions it is essential not only to get population there and to employ that population on primary products, but also largely to increase their secondary industries as well. One of the difficulties with regard to increasing the population of the Dominions is the improved methods of agriculture, which have enabled a much larger production to be made on the same acreage, and unfortunately with less labour than was previously required. Therefore you 472 are faced with the difficulty of a steadily rising amount of primary products, and a smaller number of men being required to produce them. That reacts on the secondary industries, as the smaller number of producers require less of the products of the secondary industries. Thus, the question of markets enters into this matter very closely and largely complicates the question.
I have briefly indicated some of the difficulties. It does not mean that we think they are insuperable, it does not mean that the Government are not extremely anxious to get a better distribution of the population, or that we are any less keen than members of your Lordships' House in pushing forward emigration to the utmost possible extent compatible with the benefit of the individual as, well as of the country to which he goes. I should like to question a remark made by the noble Lord, Lord Marley, who suggested that we ought to show much more energy in pressing young people to go out.
§ EARL STANHOPE
I have got a note that the Government do not press young people as much as they ought to do.
§ LORD MARLEY
I did not say that. What I said was that we must not press them to go out, but we must make it possible and easy for them to go out if they want to do so.
§ EARL STANHOPE
I beg the noble Lord's pardon, I entirely agree with the noble Lord. I have been connected with an emigration society for a great many years, and what we have done consistently is rather to emphasise the hardness of conditions in the Dominions, and to tell young people that if they go there they will have to put their backs into it and work extremely hard. We have thus tried to eliminate those who are not really keen and suitable, and the proof of the practice is that we have had very few failures. We have sent them out to Canada and to other parts of the Empire and, with very few exceptions, they have done extremely well. We are proud of them and we think that is the right method. We have sent only the best and most suitable emigrants, and if the best only are sent, you get rid of the cry referred to by the Bishop of London, who said that notices were put up stating that no Englishman need apply.
473 That brings me to the question of emigrants from Eastern Europe, raised by Lord Marley. This raises an extraordinarily difficult question, particularly in regard to Australia and Nov Zealand, where, as the noble Lord knows, the standard of living is very high, and where they are very sensitive to the danger of its being lowered by people coming in who have been accustomed to much lower wages than have long prevailed in those two Dominions. Also, I think most of us would agree that, so far as possible, the more we can keep the Dominions British by sending out a big proportion of British subjects, rather than the subjects of other countries, the better it will be for the Empire, and probably for the general security of the world.
The noble Lord, Lord Barnby, asked a question as regards the compounding of social service schemes. I may tell him that for some time the contributory widows' and orphans' and old age pensions scheme has been carried overseas to other parts of the Empire, but as regards other schemes there are so many differences in the social schemes in force in different parts of the Dominions that so far it has not been found possible to do anything of the kind. The noble Lord realises that the contributions as a rule do not amount to a very great deal, because, speaking generally, they are mostly young people who go out to the Dominions, and therefore the number of contributions they would have made would not be very great. Thus the amount that would be taken by them to the Dominions in support of any social scheme would obviously not be a very large one.
§ LORD BARNBY
Among those who migrate would be men of the artisan class who are the kind of skilled workers who would be needed in Canada and the other Dominions if we were to send out workers for secondary industries and use them as consumers of primary products in their new country. Unless they have some means of maintaining the advantage which should accrue to them in the way of benefits for contributions they have made, they would be more reluctant to migrate, and it all depends on the development of the social services organisation in the Dominions. That is why I would like to know whether there has been any attempt to arrange for an interdepartmental examination of this question.
§ EARL STANHOPE
So far it has only been found possible in respect of contributory old age pensions. That, I think the noble Lord will agree, is what a man would think about most. He is, at any rate, justified in thinking he will not require anything to cover him in respect of unemployment, because he will hope to be employed permanently and without intermission overseas. I am glad to find that every noble Lord here warmly approves of this Bill so far as it goes. What happened in another place was rather the opposite. There the Government were being criticised for spending Government time in bringing in a Bill of this character at this time. A great deal of criticism was directed at my right honourable friend from that point of view, and I am glad to find it is not shared in your Lordships' House. It only goes to show once again how much superior this House is to another place.
§ LORD STONEHAVEN
May I ask whether there is any prospect of this matter being taken up energetically at the Imperial Conference and if adequate preparations are being made for it?
§ EARL STANHOPE
The whole matter is being gone into very thoroughly. I am not able to say whether it is one of the many matters down for discussion fully. I know it is one of the subjects down for consideration, but whether it is one of the main subjects I cannot at the moment say.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.