HL Deb 27 July 1938 vol 110 cc1206-49

THE LORD BISHOP OF CHICHESTER had the following Notice on the Paper: To call attention to the serious international problems created by the plight of post-War refugees, and to ask for information as to the outcome of the Evian Conference, and the policy of His Majesty's Government with regard to the refugee question generally; and to move for Papers. The right reverend Prelate said: My Lords, I have asked leave to call attention to the serious international problems created by the plight of post-War refugees, for two reasons: first, the increasing gravity and importance of the subject; and secondly, the recent holding of the Evian Conference, which is to be resumed next week. My Motion deals with refugees in general terms. The scale of the post-War refugee problem, including refugees from Russia, Turkey, Armenia, Syria, Spain and many other places, is one of the most extraordinary phenomena of post-War years. The whole subject, including the great work of Dr. Nansen, has been brilliantly and most thoroughly treated by the Report, the preliminary Report of Sir John Hope Simpson, which was published by Chatham House. Sir John Hope Simpson points out that amongst other causes or concomitants of the refugee situation is the pandemic national exclusiveness now current, as both causing expulsion from a territory and militating against absorption in any other territory. He also calls attention to the general exchange of rigidity of population for the pre-War fluidity, and of a closed economy within the nation for a comparatively free economy.

But, while we recognise the immense variety of refugees, and the complications and difficulties which that variety causes, there is a particular department of the problem which, by common consent, is more urgent than any other at the present time. It is that which was caused by the inauguration of the National-Socialist State in 1933 and its extension to Austria last March. I wish to avoid rhetorical language in speaking of the actual facts and the overriding cause of the German refugee problem, but it is necessary to call attention to the basic element—namely, the figment of an Aryan race. The word "Aryan" has some relation to language but has no relation to biology, and it is a pure fantasy for which there is no scientific justification whatever. But the result of this fantasy is that those who are called non-Aryan, especially those of the Jewish race, cannot be counted as Germans, cannot be members of the German State, and must be deprived of every part in the German State and in many cases expelled.

I think your Lordships will agree that there is something terrifying in this attack on a tiny minority of non-Aryan people in the country. The total population of Germany is 66,000,000. Taking the Jews only, for the moment: at the beginning of 1933 there were just over half a million of Jews—that is, less than 1 per cent. of the whole population. It is not denied, of course, that, as in any section of any population, there were some unsatisfactory elements, but for the most part the Jew was a healthy, industrious and wealth-producing partner in the common life. It is, however, important to notice that the question is not only a Jewish question. There are and will be religious and political refugees, and in particular I wish to emphasize the importance of what are called the non-Aryan Christians—that is to say, the Christians who, according to this racial theory, lack German blood. They are of various categories. Those Christians with three Jewish grandparents or one Jewish parent are disqualified as though they were Jews. There are other categories which are less disqualified, but for some posts it is required that a man be possessed of full German blood back to 1800.

The non-Aryan Christians are worse sufferers than the Jews. While the Jews have the great Jewish community behind them, the non-Aryan Christians are neither German nor Jews from this point of view, and their claims on their fellow-Christians throughout the world have not, I am sorry to say, been brought home in the way they should be brought home to the Christian Churches. Their number is large, but there are no full statistics and accuracy is therefore impossible. I am told, however, that 500,000 is a modest estimate.

The persecution of the non-Aryans of all kinds has become increasingly severe. It began with a disorderly victimisation in 1933; it was continued in a kind of codification in the Nuremberg laws of 1935. But, since the Anschluss with Austria, the events of five years in Germany have been concentrated into five weeks in that country, and it would be difficult to exaggerate the terror for racial and political nonconformists in Vienna during the last few months. I know and have seen those who have lately lived in Vienna as well as those who have been there as visitors, and the situation is so cruel that it is commonly said, not by S.S. and S.A. men but by Governors and Ministers of State, that all must go and go at once, that if non-Aryans cannot find a country that will receive them there is always the Danube, and there are plenty of cemeteries to be filled by December.

I do not argue that this is against the spirit of Christianity, because such an argument would presuppose some sympathy with the Christian religion; but I speak as an Anglo-Saxon simply, and in terms of the ideals of honour and courage which are held in common by Northern people. I cannot understand—and I know many Germans—how our own kinsmen of the German race can lower themselves to such a level of dishonour and cowardice as to attack a defenceless people in the way that the National Socialists have attacked the non-Aryans. I do not think there is any period in civilised German history where German rulers have acted in such a spirit. Such conduct must remain a blot on the honour of the German race.

I happened to be staying in Germany in 1935 when the Nuremberg laws were passed, and National Socialist friends told me that they would not work out quite as badly as I feared, for under the Nuremberg laws the non-Aryans would become a minority, with the rights of a minority, and as a minority would be entitled to protection. I would only say, in comment on that, that it is strange that a nation which oppresses a minority within its own territories in this way should be so zealous in claiming rights for a minority in another State—namely, in Czechoslovakia, which could not by any stretch of imagination be thought to have grievances comparable with the grievances of the non-Aryans in Germany.

I have already said that the question is a limited one, and it is limited in my mind, at this moment, as an urgent question of the existing or potential refugees from Germany and Austria, that is to say, those German or Austrian refugees, whatever their religion, to whom residence in Austria or Germany has become impossible or intolerable. The question which we have to ask is, what can we do to help them? The League of Nations has, as your Lordships know, taken an active interest in the welfare of the refugees all these years, and the two High Commissioners, Mr. James McDonald and Mr. Malcolm, have done excellent work for which everyone is grateful, but the High Commissioners and the League of Nations are powerless to deal with the source of the problem, and the functions of the High Commissioner have been lately defined as mainly juridical. There have also been, and there are, private organisations, the Society of Friends, the Academic Assistance Committee, and some smaller committees, and I would especially speak of the unparalleled generosity of the Jews. But the plight of the refugees in Austria and Germany is quite beyond the resources of private organisations, especially now that Austria has been added.

It is vital that the Governments of the world should act, and act together, if the work is to be done. That is why the initiative of President Roosevelt and the American Government is so welcome, and it is expected that the Permanent Organisation which commences next week in London will have the full support of the Governments. The Evian Conference was a beginning, and there are certain tangible gains already manifested. First, the United States is publicly committed to an active part in international work for the care of refugees. Secondly, the Inter-Governmental Committee is competent to deal with the refugees before they have left Germany and Austria, and therefore is in a position to convert the exodus from a disorderly flight into a planned migration. Thirdly, Inter-Governmental machinery has been set up with a specific task, whereas previously, for the most part, the refugees service was incidental to the general work of the League of Nations, and the direct responsibility of the Governments was not immediately engaged.

But this beginning must surely be vigorously followed up, if the gains are to be of use, by positive and energetic action by the Governments concerned. Those who have given the deepest and longest thought to the refugee problem are of one mind on the point that there must be German collaboration, that there must be, naturally, a willingness to allow machinery to work in Germany for all grades of refugees, the non-Jewish as well as the Jewish. The fundamental point may be put in this way, that the refugee problem of Austria and Germany cannot be solved unless the non-German Governments can secure some concessions from the German Government, by which the refugees can take a proportion of their property with them into emigration. At present the German Government both expels its unwanted subjects and robs them of their goods. That is an action that cannot be justified on any ground of morality or honour. Thirty nations came together at Evian to try to devise plans by which the "involuntary migrants from Germany" can establish themselves elsewhere. It is surely asking little of Germany that she should co-operate in these plans, to the extent of allowing those migrants to take with them some property which will give them a fair chance of starting life anew in a fresh country.

I would ask for the very particular attention of His Majesty's Government to this point. I would ask that His Majesty's Government should declare at the proper time in unmistakable terms that it regards this as one of the items calling for settlement in any plan of general appeasement in Europe, and I would make an emphatic point of German co-operation here. The American initiative was responsible for the Conference at Evian. The French Government offered hospitality to the Conference and has already sheltered an immense number of refugees. The Committee meets in London next week. It is not too much to say that on the constructive and practical co-operation of the British Government at this stage the future of the Austrian and Germany refugees in a very large measure depends.

Everyone is grateful to the Government for what they have already done and for the concessions or arrangements announced by Lord Winterton at Evian. I note especially (1) the decision of the Government to ratify the Convention of 1938 defining the juridical position of the refugees; (2) the promise to endeavour to absorb the refugees already in England; (3) the promise to allow a limited number of fresh refugees from Austria; and (4) the promise of consideration for settlement of refugees on the land in certain East African Colonies. I also take the opportunity of expressing gratitude for the notably humane and sympathetic administration of the laws regarding aliens by the Home Office officials. But by themselves these things only touch the fringe. Something more ample is required, something to indicate what new things the British Government are prepared to do. It is not an exaggeration to say that in this particular department all eyes are on Britain. If the British Government give a generous lead and show that they really mean to find a solution, the British Government will get far more from America than America has yet offered, and many other countries of Europe will respond accordingly.

What does giving a lead involve? There are two points on which I hope the Government will be ready to declare their willingness to go further on present lines: first, increasing facilities for training and apprenticeship of younger Germans and Austrians in this country; and, second, more precision regarding the distance to which the British Government are prepared to go in opening the door in Colonial territory, something more than a purely general statement about Kenya or Northern Rhodesia. Are the Government prepared to facilitate the settlement, not of a few hundreds but—what I am told on excellent authority, Northern Rhodesia is able to bear in the way of European settlers—a considerable number of thousands—50,000 or 100,000? The question of Palestine is a different question and a very difficult question, no doubt. That also comes into the picture.

But there is another point, which I believe to be a very important point for non-German Governments generally. In my humble opinion the passing out of Germany of an appreciable stream of industrious, intelligent, able-bodied Germans ought to be a great positive gain to other countries. They could bring in new wealth and new work, and they could help to check the alarming fall in the net reproduction rate from which the principal countries of Western and Northern Europe are suffering, as also the United States, Australia and New Zealand. The refugees can be considered as a special kind of migration. I should like to quote a passage from a leading economist who has written upon population trends and international migration. He says: There are, of course, only two ways of increasing the population in a given area. People may move in, or those already there may have large families. We know, however, that even in the New World, where the opportunities for additional workers are undoubtedly most promising (if we take a fairly long view), the population is already barely reproducing itself. Using the measure suggested by Dr. Kuczynski in the present volume, we know that mothers in Australia and New Zealand are not producing enough girl children to keep up the number of future mothers, and that they are barely doing so in the United States, and that in Canada only those of French extraction are reproducing themselves at that rate. Unless the trend of the birth-rate is reversed, migration alone will make possible the development—in so far as it depends upon a larger labour force —of these regions which offer the human race—both those who settle and those who trade with them—a better life.

The noble Duke who represents the Dominions in this House last Wednesday called attention to the serious fall in the birth-rate of this country, and he said that unless the present tendencies are reversed there must be a sharp drop in the total population. And I quote from the Report of the Oversea Settlement Board: Both in the United Kingdom and the Dominions the birth-rate of the British stock shows a downward trend, and the population is growing older in its composition. The seriousness of this situation is obvious from the point of view of the social and economic life of the community and of defence. That, I suggest, is a good reason in itself for facilitating migration into this country of suitable younger men and women of an assimilable stock, and I do not hesitate to say that a reinforcement of our population from younger able-bodied refugees of both sexes from Germany and Austria on a pretty large scale would be to the great advantage of this country. The argument that the number of immigrants necessarily increases unemployment is not to be sustained. A well known economist says that: The notion that a bare reduction of the number of residents would serve to reduce the number of unemployed, and an increase to increase unemployment has always been regarded as crude in the extreme by those who have given any thought to the problem involved. And I am informed on excellent authority that the existing German refugees in this country have provided employment for a number of British workmen at least quite as large as the number of refugees.

I realise that the manner of bringing them in needs care, and that there must be a proportion between the Jewish and non-Jewish sections, but there is no reason, I suggest, why a real opening of the doors should not be welcomed by the public provided it is made clear by the Government that it is part of a farsighted and therefore patriotic policy. After all, these Germans are good men and good women—they are not vagabonds. I would also point out that a reinforcement of British stock by foreigners has been part of the tradition of British policy until comparatively recent years, and I hope we shall not yield to any racial heresy which may prevent us from renewing it. Any one who will take the trouble to read such a work as Cunningham's History of Alien Immigrants into England, knows how great is the British debt. He says: It is clear that for the whole of our textile manufactures, for our shipping, for numberless improvements in mining, in the hardware trades, and in agriculture, and for everything connected with the organisation of business we are deeply indebted to the alien immigrants. Their influence on other sides of life is less easy to assess and trace; but it is none the less real. And may I add as regards the origin and character of the non-Aryans, when we remember that the largest part of European civilisation is derived from non-Aryan sources, it is impossible to pretend that the so-called non-Aryans are not a part of European humanity.

My last request to the Government concerns consultation with the Dominions. I realise that the whole responsibility for migration into the Dominions is a matter for each self-governing Dominion itself, but the change in the centres of pressure of population throughout the world is of deepest significance for the British Commonwealth. Russia's population is growing rapidly—175,000,000—and the net reproduction rate is enormous. Other countries in Southern Europe are growing, and there is pressure from Asia. But the birth-rate in the Dominions is falling rapidly. The population composition is steadily ageing, and if the position is to be strengthened by migration from suitable stock—I quote the Report of the Oversea Settlement Board—there is no time to be lost. Last Wednesday, several members of your Lordships' House recalled an extract from that Report dealing with reinforcement by foreign settlers, not as separate colonies—that would be hopeless—but by absorption: The incorporation of assimilable settlers, whether of Northern or other European extraction, would itself be not only a source of permanent enrichment to the life of the Dominions, but would at the same time increase their capacity for absorbing migrants from this country. It should, moreover, lead to increased trade between the countries from which the migrants go and the countries in which they settle, and should thereby make a contribution towards what we regard as the urgent need of the world to-day, the more open door to trade and population.

Whatever may be thought of certain sweeping statements concerning great empty spaces, it is commonly agreed that each of the overseas Dominions is capable of supporting a substantially larger popu- lation than at present. Professor Carr-Saunders, a specialist in world population, estimates a population based on corresponding rainfall areas in the Western States of America of 29,000,000 in Australia. I may be told that this is quite unreasonable. The present population is 6,500,000. It may well take a century (and why not?) to quadruple it. But the population of England and Wales was quadrupled in little over a century. It was 9,000,000 in 1801. If anyone living then had been told that it would be 41,000,000 in 1938, he would have said it was incredible. I should like to quote from the present Prime Minister, who as Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his Budget speech in another place in 1935, referring to the birth-rate, said: I have a feeling that the time will not be far distant when the countries of the British Empire will be crying out for more citizens of the right breed and when we in this country will not be able to supply the demand.

Finally, there was a dinner at the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House on June 21 at which the noble Viscount, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, made an important speech. He was followed by a very distinguished Cabinet Minister from Australia, the Right Hon. R. G. Menzies. In his speech Mr. Menzies spoke of the importance of the representatives of the Dominions keeping in constant touch with one another, and said that the Foreign Secretary is the guiding hand in foreign policy for the British Commonwealth. He said that foreign affairs were not European but world affairs, and there should be one voice of the British people and not six voices. I call special attention to these words in his speech: From time to time there is a great deal to be said for the English statesman who said, many years ago, that he had 'called the New World in to redress the balance of the Old.' I should like to think the people in these islands more frequently turned their eyes outward to that New World and said to themselves more frequently, 'What is the consequence in the affairs of the world of this new British world which is to be found in all the Seven Seas?' I suggest that one great world matter in which this new British world, found in all the Seven Seas, may redress the balance of the Old World is this problem of the refugees.

Accordingly my request to the Government is to ask whether they will announce at the proper time that they have decided to call the Evian representatives into consultation, either before or at the next meeting of the Inter-Governmental Committee in London, so that the Committee can be informed in some detail as to what share the British Empire will take in receiving refugees from Germany and Austria. The whole problem of refugee work is vast and difficult, and I realise that its handling requires immense care and immense patience, but I claim that it may be solved if the Governments of the world will act. On the British Government, in particular, because of its position in the world, lies a great responsibility. I beg to move the Motion which stands in my name.


My Lords, the right reverend Prelate in his sympathetic and cogent speech has taken a comprehensive survey of this wide question. For my own part I propose to limit myself to only a section of it. During the last two or three years I have been closely connected with one of the voluntary organisations which have been endeavouring to cope with this problem, and I will offer to your Lordships a few observations based upon that experience. I think, however, I shall be speaking in the name of all the voluntary organisations in this country and elsewhere when I express the gratitude which we all feel to the President of the United States for his initiative in summoning the Conference at Evian, and also to Mr. Myron Taylor, the principal American delegate, for the energy and efficiency with which he conveyed that initiative at Evian. Further, we feel a great debt to Lord Winterton, the principal Government delegate, for his efficient and useful service.

The chief value of the Evian Conference perhaps is this, that it has brought out clearly before all the world the fact that this question of the refugees is not merely a matter of domestic moment to Germany, but is also of importance to all countries which may be directly or indirectly affected by the flood of humanity that has been poured out from Central Europe. At the beginning, when the persecution started in Germany five years ago, there was a headlong flight of about 50,000 people who threw themselves upon the hospitality of the neighbouring countries, and since then there has been a more gradual emigration of about 100,000 people from Germany. Now the events in Vienna have pressed out a further great body of people. Indeed, the German administrators in Vienna seem to have deliberately endeavoured to create a feeling of panic and terror among the Jewish population in Vienna and the smaller population in the Provinces, in order to compel a speedy emigration and to arouse such feelings of sympathy in the rest of the world that the emigrants will be accepted. Hundreds, indeed thousands, of arrests have been made in the last few weeks, quite indiscriminately, amongst the Jewish population of Vienna. People have been in prison for short periods or sent to concentration camps, and pledges have been extracted from them that they will leave Austria within a fixed number of months, or even of weeks. The Consulates of Britain, the United States and other countries have been surrounded by crowds of hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of people in the streets clamouring for visas to enable them to escape from this terror.

This, as I say, and indeed it is obvious, constitutes not merely a local problem but affects all the countries of the world that may be countries to which these people would go, for they are placed in this dilemma: are they to harden their hearts and shut their doors against these people who are seeking refuge, which will be contrary to their own feelings of humanity; or, on the other hand, are they to throw open widely their doors and allow in perhaps a great flood of indiscriminate emigration, numbering tens or hundreds of thousands, with perhaps serious effects upon the economic situation of their own people? It is quite true, as the right reverend Prelate has said, that emigration, if it is gradual and if it is of persons carefully selected, would not embarrass but would enrich the country which accepted it. It may not cause increased unemployment, but may diminish existing unemployment. As the right reverend Prelate has said, here in England this present emigration has unquestionably given fresh employment in certain trades to British people. Exact statistics are difficult to obtain, but an answer given by the Government in another place some time ago shows that undoubtedly immigrants from Germany have succeeded in founding a number of new industries that have employed British people certainly to the extent of thousands, though how many thousands it is difficult to ascertain. And similar information points to a like result in Holland, where some statistics have been obtained.

Furthermore, among these refugees are a number of men of eminence in science, in medicine and in other walks of life who are of value to the countries to which they go. There has been some discussion recently whether this country would be wise to open its doors to doctors from Vienna. Well, it is well known that some of these men have world-wide reputations. People from all over the world go to specialists, sometimes in Germany or Austria or Switzerland. Many of these belong to the Jewish race, and if we can attract some of these people to London surely that is not a disadvantage to London. Rather it will be of value to our population in improving the facilities given here for the highest skill in medical and surgical science. Do not let us, out of excessive patriotism, he like the character in the play who said that he had so much confidence in his own doctor that he would rather die under his care than be cured by anyone else.

And, indeed, all through history there are many examples of countries deriving great advantage from immigration of this character. One of the chief dates in the history of European civilisation is 1453, when Constantinople was captured by the Turks, with the result that men of learning and of science were driven out of the Byzantine Empire to other countries, to give an immense stimulus to the progress of human thought and human activity. To-day, by a strange coincidence, some of those who are now being driven out of Germany have gone back to Turkey, where they have been welcomed in the universities and in the professions. And so we have the converse of the movement of five centuries ago. To India also, and other parts of the British Empire, individuals have gone, and to the advantage of those countries. Here, also, a number of emigrants have come who will be of great service to this community. I would endorse what has been said by the right reverend Prelate as to the sympathetic attitude that has been adopted by the present Home Secretary, and by the Home Office generally, in dealing with the difficult problems that arise in this connection.

But after all, my Lords, those who can be accepted in these various categories in European countries are only a fraction of the whole body who are being driven out from Central Europe. We must consider in addition other ways of handling the problem. Of course the principal and simplest remedy would be if the persecution were to be stopped, but that perhaps is too much to hope for. Germany in this matter has quite deliberately and consciously stepped down to a lower level of civilisation. We have the strange phenomenon of the publication of that newspaper Der Stürmer, which brings so much disgrace, not upon the Jews, but upon Germany, the publication of which is not only permitted but is officially encouraged, special frames being placed in the various towns for its exhibition in order that the public may read it freely. The publisher, Herr Streicher, has been given the place of honour at the right hand of Herr Hitler at important public ceremonies in Germany. Indeed, it is not only the Jewish community in Germany and Austria which is subject to persecution. As the right reverend Prelate said, there are the so-called non-Aryans who number some hundreds of thousands, and there are those like Pastor Niemöller who stand up for religious liberty and free expression of the faith which they hold, who also are subject to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment.

I have been reading lately a book which some of your Lordships may have seen, called Germany Speaks, which contains statements, by many of the leaders of different departments of the German State, of the Nazi point of view. While it has a section in which it points out that Germany under the new régime has respect for the principle of law, and that courts function and are bound by the Statutes of the country, it does not mention, it says no word of the concentration camps and of the arbitrary arrests and imprisonment without trial. Pastor Niemöller, for example, having been acquitted and released by the court of law to which he was subjected and before which he had open trial, was immediately re-arrested without charge and without trial and has been in prison ever since. In those circumstances we cannot hope or expect that persecution will stop at the source. The only remedy is emigration, so far as that can be effectively organised. About forty thousand of the Jews who have left Germany have gone to Palestine, but in Palestine now, owing to events with which we are all too unhappily familiar, there is a refuge for only an exceedingly small number.

This is not the occasion on which your Lordships would desire a general discussion of the Palestine situation. Perhaps such a discussion might be desirable a little later in the year, when the Report of the Boundary Commission has been published and the political situation has thereby been clarified. May I be permitted, however, to make a very few observations with regard to the present situation in Palestine? I revisited that country last March and came away with a somewhat pessimistic impression. I felt it my duty to communicate to the Secretary of State for the Colonies my view that the situation there was very bad—which was obvious—and that it was not likely to show improvement but more likely to deteriorate. That, unhappily, has proved to be the case in recent months. I fear that the present situation offers little prospect of early improvement. When this matter was debated in your Lordships' House a year ago on the Report of the Peel Commission, I ventured to express my view that the main recommendation of that Commission for partition was a wrong one and would not bring peace to Palestine. I very much regret that it should have been precipitately adopted by the Government without any opportunity being given for either of the two great communities concerned to express their views and say whether they were prepared to accept or reject that solution. The results during the past year have been most lamentable.

For my own part, I am still convinced that the present policy is not one that will be successful, and I still adhere to the alternative which I ventured to lay before your Lordships' House in some detail a year ago. I am convinced that it is essential that both sides should make some sacrifice—that the Jews should realise that in the presence of Arab opposition they cannot obtain 100 per cent. of their demands, and that the Arabs must realise that they cannot stop the movement to establish a Jewish home in Palestine, but may be able and are entitled to safeguard their own legitimate position. An accommodation therefore is called for between the two sides. Mean- time there is great loss and great suffering in that country. British soldiers and policemen are called upon to sacrifice their lives and abominable crimes bring death and mutilation to many innocent people. The whole situation in the Eastern Mediterranean is adversely affected by the present situation. In this connection the result has been almost, though not entirely, to close that outlet for the persecuted Jews from Germany and Austria.

I have had opportunities of seeing many of these persons—manufacturers, merchants, shopkeepers, doctors, architects, scientists, men of irreproachable character, intelligent, efficient, who had added to the resources and welfare of the community to which they belonged. Now their families are broken up, their sources of livelihood are closed, an honourable existence is denied to them, and they are cast upon the world, forced out indiscriminately. In the endeavour to cope with this situation, the Committee with which I am connected and its allied organisations have raised in this country by voluntary subscription a sum which now exceeds £1,000,000. In other countries similar organisations and other sources have collected further sums, the combined total being estimated at more than £5,000,000 during the past five years. In addition to that sum these people have been able to bring out some of their own resources, and many of them have received financial help from friends and relatives in America or in other countries, so that in general the sum that has been raised is very considerable. All this has been done during the last five years.

These moneys, so far as voluntary organisations are concerned, have been devoted, first, to urgent questions of relief in Germany, in Austria or in countries of immediate refuge; to retraining people for other occupations where they belong to professions already crowded in which there is no demand for their services, and to the expenses of emigration, and of settlement on the land or in industry in other countries. Many people ask why an effort should not be made to bring out the people wholesale by the hundred thousand and plant them in some one country. Many countries have been suggested in different parts of the world. No doubt here and there some measure of collective emigration might be permitted, but our experience is that the cost of such measures is enormous and renders these schemes impracticable. To settle a family on the land in a country which is not already prepared for colonisation costs on the average at least £700 per family and even more than that. Consequently, if you have £1,000,000 you can only settle fourteen hundred families or thereabouts. No doubt something can be done in this direction. The right reverend Prelate mentioned Kenya and Northern Rhodesia. These schemes have been and are being carefully explored, and I believe something can be done in that direction; but I fear his estimate that it may be a matter of fifty thousand or of one hundred thousand is, on account of the cost, excessive. You would need many, many millions for an undertaking of that character.

At the most the immigration into countries of Europe or land settlement in other countries can only deal with hundreds of cases, whereas our problem is a question of hundreds of thousands of cases. Consequently the conclusion to which those of us who have been devoting our time and attention to the problem in the last few years have come is that the main resource must be found in the possessions of these people themselves. A good many of them fortunately have been in fairly comfortable circumstances. They are eager now to find new lives in other countries. If only they were allowed to take with them the property that belongs to them, they would be able to make homes and new livelihoods for themselves in other countries. The poorer classes could be helped partly by them and partly also by voluntary organisations in other lands. The main difficulty of the situation arises from the fact that in Germany that is precisely what has been stopped.

At first people who left the country were permitted to take 75 per cent. of their property, leaving behind 25 per cent. as a special tax. Then the proportion that they were allowed to take out was reduced to 30 per cent., and then to 10 per cent., and now in effect it is reduced to nothing at all. First they are stripped of their possessions, and then, in effect, they are ejected from the country. Those countries to which the emigrants may go are surely entitled to protest against a policy such as this. Indeed, the Conference at Evian, in its final act there, included this paragraph: Considering that if countries of refuge or settlement are to co-operate in finding an orderly solution of the problem before the Committee they should have the collaboration of the country of origin, and are therefore persuaded that it will make its contribution by enabling involuntary emigrants to take with them their property and possessions and emigrate in an orderly manner. That at least may be demanded. If persecution is not to be stopped, at all events let the conditions be such as to enable people to leave in an orderly fashion and with some prospect of being able to be accepted in other countries and to make a livelihood there.

The matter was well summed up in a sentence in a leading article in The Times a few days ago: A policy of merciless confiscation is unworthy of a great country, and the unloading of forced migrants in a destitute condition is an offence against humanity and the community of nations. If that concession should be made by Germany, then perhaps this problem can be solved. If it is not made, I am bound to say that in my judgment the problem is absolutely insoluble. The Evian Conference, I think, came to a wise conclusion in providing for the establishment of an organisation to be set up here in London to continue its work and to give it practical application. I should have preferred that this organisation should have been under the auspices of the League of Nations had it been practicable; but in view of the fact that America is supplying the initiative and driving-power in this matter, and that Germany is the country with which it will be necessary to have negotiations, and in view of the fact that neither America nor Germany is a Member of the League, it must reluctantly be admitted that some fresh organisation is necessary. I think that all of us who are concerned in this matter are glad to know that the new organisation will have a distinguished American as its chairman, and an American, also of experience and capacity, as its director.

That is all that I wish to address to your Lordships. Strangely and unexpectedly in this modern age, the spirit of persecution has again lifted its monstrous head. Governments and peoples of nations where justice is still regarded as a supreme principle, and good will among men as an object worthy of pursuit, if they cannot stop the persecution that is now proceeding, may at least do much to soften and palliate its most cruel effects.


My Lords, I have asked permission to be included in the list of those who address your Lordships on this subject this afternoon for a quite specific reason, which I will explain in one moment. But first I think it worth while noting the significance of the fact that this debate on the Motion of the right reverend Prelate precedes a debate on the wider issues of foreign policy. I for one believe that this subject of the persecution of the Jews in particular and the problem of refugees in general may well turn out to be one of the most influential topics governing the whole subject of the pacification of Europe. It is quite right and proper that the debate should be used for the purpose of submitting to His Majesty's Government constructive proposals, both with regard to finance and with regard to the technique of migration, so far as these unhappy refugees are concerned. But I venture to hope that it will not be thought unseemly if I use the occasion of this debate for a slightly different purpose.

The Evian Conference, as was quoted by the noble Viscount who has just sat down, referred to the necessity of some collaboration in this matter from what are called the countries of origin. I venture to hope that it will not be thought improper if I use the debate in your Lordships' House to make an appeal to the German Government that they will consider to what extent it is possible to modify their procedure in this matter and to collaborate so far as the solution of this terrible problem is concerned. I venture to make that appeal, because I happen to be among those in this country who for nearly thirty years have been under the indictment of being pro-German. I make the appeal not merely on humanitarian grounds; I make it for reasons of political wisdom. I believe that this issue will have repercussions in the very near future upon the negotiations towards a new peace settlement that are taking place in Europe. If this country and Germany should ever drift apart again and should ever find themselves upon the brink of war, I personally do not believe it will be due to some breach of contract or breach of law. It will be due to our discovery in the course of the negotiations that there is a disparity of outlook between our two countries, so far as humanity and cruelty are concerned, and because of the discovery of that disparity of outlook there will be an absence of confidence which will make it exceedingly difficult to carry through to success those negotiations which both Germany and this country so ardently desire.

It is for that reason, the reason of political wisdom, that I venture to urge the German Government to respond to the Evian Conference, and become a collaborator in solving this terrible problem. One has no right, when appealing to Germany, to forget that this problem of the post-War refugee is by no manner of means confined to troubles which have originated in Germany. Russia, a country which we believed was building up a new social order, based upon social idealism, has been the country which has been foremost in bringing back into Europe the evils of persecution and has been one of the principal obstructors of attempts to deal with the problem of refugees.

I look back to the various stages of Anglo-German relationships. I can remember that before the War some of us were admiring and extolling the culture and achievements of the German people. I can remember that we pointed to the geographical position of Germany, situated as she was in the very centre of Europe, and we realised that that geographical disability had affected her history in the past, and must affect it in the future. We realised that Britain, situated as she was, protected by the sea, had been able, because of that security, early to achieve mature political wisdom, and to gather round herself a commonwealth of free peoples. We realised that Germany had desired what we in this country had desired, but had faded in that achievement. Consequently, when the War came I can well remember that under the leadership of Mr. Ramsay MacDonald some of us protested against the proposition that the sole responsibility for that War rested upon the German nation. In 1916 we pleaded for a peace by negotiation, rather than a peace by a knock-out blow, and at the time of the Versailles Treaty we protested, not merely against the terms included in the Treaty, but against the manner in which the Treaty was being negotiated, for we realised that you could not build up the peace of Europe upon the foundation of a humiliated nation. Thereafter when the War was over we pleaded for the inclusion of Germany from the beginning in the family of the League of Nations, instead of five years afterwards, as was the case; and at stage after stage of the Disarmament Conference, in your Lordships' House, some of us begged most earnestly for the end of the discrimination and of the inequalities that were imposed upon the German people. Finally, even when Herr Hitler introduced into Germany a régime which some of us found difficult to understand, and which if I may say so was contrary to our British way of looking at the art of government, we have continued to plead for good will and understanding between Germany and this country.

I have ventured to say these few words about the past, simply in order that I may shape my contentions with regard to appealing to Germany about the present. I believe that if Germany continues the policy which she is now pursuing with regard to the Jews and other refugees she will bring about an impediment to that peace which we all desire to see established. The moment at which she is carrying on that policy is strangely unfortunate. During the last few years there has grown up amongst every grade of opinion in this country a longing for conciliation with Germany. The British people have realised, and realised with some measure of shame, their part in the responsibility for the last few tragic years, and just at that moment, when good will was apparent, Germany has seen fit to impede that growing good will by this new barrier of misunderstanding. America was the principal agent in bringing about the calling of the Evian Conference. That reveals the attitude of American opinion, and it will be indeed a misfortune if American and British opinion should be driven away again from Germany.

Germany is not only impeding friendship but bringing dishonour upon herself. Perhaps there I should check myself, because no country has a record, so far as minorities are concerned, which is entirely a clean one. Even our own nation, not in the remote past but as recently as the period of the Black and Tans in Ireland, has upon its record incidents of which it is ashamed, and I have already referred to Russia as the country standing for social idealism which again has a record much to be deplored. It does seem to me infinitely tragic that Germany should start upon a course of persecution which is dishonourable. Why do I venture to use that word "honour"? It is because it is a word which to a German means a very great deal. Germany is peculiarly sensitive in her conception of honour, but the persecution which she is now carrying on has a peculiar quality of wickedness about it. We all understand that every Government, every nation, will at times impose suffering and persecution upon its political opponents, particularly upon opponents who may seem to it to be guilty of a violent and seditious policy. Persecution of political opponents is something common to all countries. I have myself known what it is to be the guest of His Majesty's Government in this country for quite a considerable period of my life, and therefore I have reason to understand that all Governments see fit at a certain time to consider certain members of the community to be out of order. But the persecution which is being carried on in Germany is not that of persecuting opinion, but of persecuting blood.

I have known myself, as a guest of the German Government, what it is to be taken through the lovely countryside in Germany, and then to feel the profound discomfort which comes from seeing those placards of hatred against the Jews which encounter you as you pass through that country. Some of us have known in Germany, even when we have been the guests of the German Government, what it is to have in our hands the hand of a little German child, a child which in school has been compelled to sit upon benches separate from its school-fellows, an object of contempt, for no other reason than that it is the child of its Jewish parents. I cannot conceive anything more cruel than to try to stir up hatred between child and parent. That is not a persecution of opinion, that is not an attempt to put down sedition, that is persecution of blood, from which there is no escape; and, for a child to be brought under that form of persecution, I think must stir the heart of anyone who has passed through that experience in Germany.

Germany has said that British democracy is degenerate. Well, I for one was never more proud of British democracy than when Professor Freud, that great scientist, aged and infirm, became an exile from his country and was welcomed within our shores. There was taken to him as an invalid the register of the Royal Society in order that he might inscribe his name therein, an act which I believe has never been carried through in this country except for members of our Royal Family; and thus degenerate democracy linked an exiled and distinguished Jewish scientist with members of our own Royal Family. That seemed to me a cause of pride, and not a sign of degeneracy. I hope I have not spoken too unrestraintedly, but this whole attitude of the Germans, with whom we are so longing to see a peace settlement, is affecting issue after issue which comes directly within the purview of any settlement that will have to be made.

Take the question of German Colonies. I think most British people realise that when those Colonies were taken from Germany they were taken not strictly in accordance either with the spirit or the letter of the Fourteen Points of President Wilson. I believe that most schools of thought would be eager and anxious to bring about some readjustment of the Colonial problem as part of an all-round peace settlement. But do not our German friends realise that just as we have become conscious of an old wrong they now confront us with the dilemma of facing a new wrong, and that we cannot overlook the consequences upon native populations in those Colonial areas when we see the tragic evils which are being perpetrated in Germany so far as German minorities like the Jews are concerned. And so I have ventured to use this debate to plead that there may be some response from Germany to the desire of the Evian Conference for collaboration.

May I say, in conclusion, one word so far as our own Government are concerned? I join in the words of gratitude which have been addressed to the Government, not only for their efforts at the Evian Conference, but for the humanity of administration which all of us who have had contact with the Home Office know to exist under the guidance of the present Home Secretary. I feel quite confident of this, that this new problem of our time, the refugee problem, is going to grow in scale rather than to diminish. I have my doubts—and I hope that the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, will forgive my expressing them to one who is so much more experienced than myself—as to whether so vast a problem is likely to be solved by what is called infiltration. I believe that we are going to be faced not only with the problem of refugees from Germany and Austria, as we have been in the past from Russia, but possibly by a problem extending into other countries in South-East and Central-Eastern Europe, and the scale may become immense. I cannot therefore but feel that it will have to be dealt with as a problem of resettlement rather than as a problem of infiltration, and that there will have to be set up a conference or committee representing the Governments of many nations, who will deal with this subject from the point of view of settlement rather than from the point of view of infiltration.

But whatever may be the rights and wrongs of that complicated issue, the British Empire is vitally involved. We cannot avoid our history. We are the owners, directly and indirectly, in this Commonwealth of ours of one quarter of the whole of the earth's surface, and we cannot continue to talk about law and the protection of law and of law-abiding procedure and remain in possession of a quarter of the earth's surface, unless we begin to think of how we can collaborate internationally to use that vast area to meet a problem such as that which we are discussing this afternoon. It must impose sacrifice upon us in some shape or form. We, the British Commonwealth, will be compelled, as I think, to share some part of the suffering which at present rests upon the shoulders of the unhappy Jews and other minorities. The Jewish people are returning right back to the centre of the world stage, and I believe that that problem of the Jew is going to affect the geography of the British Empire, the economic prosperity of the Empire, and also the morality of our Empire.

The Jewish people are a people to whom civilisation owes an enormous debt of gratitude. They are a people who can bring, with their genius, great gifts in return for great understanding; and I feel that, far from our losing as an Empire, we should gain in the end by restoring to the Jew the dignity which he ought to possess by liberating his spirit with some measure of happiness after these centuries of persecution. And I believe that if the Empire will respond, despite all the difficulties, we shall have cast our bread upon the waters and it will be returned to us a thousandfold. I hope I have not spoken too unrestrainedly in making that appeal both to the Government of Germany and to our own Government.


My Lords, I should have hesitated to follow in this debate my noble friend Lord Samuel who has given so much time, experience and wisdom to seeking a solution of this problem, if it had not been that perhaps I too in a different way have had contacts which may enable me to make some small contribution to your Lordships' debate. In any event, I confess that I should have found it difficult to be silent in a debate upon this particular topic. For, after all, the reason why this problem of refugees is occupying your Lordships' minds to-day is to found in the propagation of a doctrine, systematically conceived and ruthlessly applied, which seeks to degrade Jews without distinction below the status of citizens of their country, and almost to expel them from the category of human beings. The Jewish community in this country has, as my noble friend has pointed out, striven to make its own contribution to the work of alleviation, and it has been my task to be Chairman of the special appeal which was made earlier in this year on behalf of Austrian Jewry. Ever since that fact became known in such little as survives of the Jewish Press in Germany and Austria, I am not exaggerating when I say that it has been with dread that I have turned at each post to my letters, knowing as I do that infallibly there will be amongst them appeals as poignant as they are genuine, to most of which, unfortunately, we are impotent to reply.

I do not propose to harrow your Lordships or take up time by giving individual instances. As to the circumstances which have produced this situation I say no more than this, that an ancient, proud, and gifted community such as was that of Vienna does not clamour to be uprooted in a state bordering upon destitution from what has been its home for generations unless conditions of life in that country have been made intolerable. Further than that, if perhaps Jews may claim one virtue for themselves, it is that they have a strong sense of family life. Yet you have now the spectacle of parents begging that their children may be taken away from them, realising that they themselves cannot get out of the country, begging that their children may be taken away, that their family life may be shattered, so that at least their children may be enabled to start a fresh life, albeit in a strange land where they will lack the guidance and protection of their parents just at the age when they are most in need of them.

Your Lordships will not perhaps wonder if those of us who are intimately concerned with this problem feel sometimes that it is, perhaps to a disproportionate extent, over-clouding and obsessing our lives. But there are brighter spots. Reference has been made to the attitude of the Home Office in this matter, and I only desire from my own personal experience to add a word of gratitude. Realising as we do that the paramount duty of that Office is to preserve the interests of the people of this country, at the same time we deeply appreciate their efforts, consistent with that duty, to adopt a sympathetic attitude to those who apply to them. May I also, in all sincerity and humility, say that we have been deeply and gratefully moved by the action of the most reverend Primate in setting aside a recent Sunday, with a gesture transcending all barriers of creed, to be a day of intercession for those who are persecuted? Memory of action of that kind does not quickly pass.

And then there is Evian itself, and the humanity and idealism which promoted its calling together. May I say one word—and it will be a very brief one—on one aspect of Evian? There were not a few countries, largely South American ones, which laid emphasis upon their willingness only to take such immigrants as were prepared to work upon the land, and there may have been some amongst your Lordships who thought that that restriction would operate largely to exclude those who were Jews. If illustration were required of the inaccuracy of that view, it would not be necessary to look further than Palestine, where some 25,000 Jews are actively working on the land and, together with their dependants, constitute an aggregate of 56,000 persons directly dependent on the land for their livelihood, or almost one in seven of the Jewish population of that country. Nor is it confined to Palestine. In addition to agricultural communities in Poland, Rumania, and Czechoslovakia, there have been established by a body with which I happen to be connected, acting as trustees and administrators of a large sum of money left now many years ago by a Jewish philanthropist, seven colonies in the Argentine Republic where there are now some 15,000 persons—Jewish immigrants into the Argentine—working on the land, and some 10,000 engaged in supplying the needs of these colonies, staffing the co-operatives, and generally indirectly connected with that work. Something like half of the colonists have, in the course of years, purchased their own land and are independent landowners to-day.

With the repayment that they have made it has been possible to establish other persons on the land, and it is not too much to say that these colonies, established as they were in remote and virgin territory, have been a striking success and give no little hope and promise for the application of such schemes as we have had adumbrated for Kenya or Northern Rhodesia. We have striven with all our power to see that there should come out from Germany and from Austria, not untrained and haphazard refugees, but trained and organised emigrants. But the cost of establishing families upon the land is enormous. In the Argentine experiment to which I have just referred the cost of one family is little under £800—half for the purchase of the land and half for the provision of the necessary livestock and implements. These figures are, as has been pointed out already, obviously far beyond the sphere of any private benevolence; nor can we in fairness ask those Powers who were represented at Evian themselves to furnish the necessary funds.

Therefore I come back to the only solution that presents itself again to me, the solution of persuading, even now, the German Government to reverse their policy of confiscation, and thereby to withdraw the officially authorised presumption upon which that confiscation is based—namely, that any money in Jewish hands must have been criminally acquired. It is perhaps singular that during past generations the taint upon that money has escaped all those non-Jews in Germany and Austria who have worked happily for Jewish employers and who have benefited from Jewish charity. Evian has in my view realised all but the most extravagant hopes. It was admittedly only a beginning; it could be nothing else; but it has already had the result of establishing this permament Committee in London. It has, I believe, built enduring foundations of hope in many countries, and it has at least demonstrated that the conscience of mankind neither slumbers nor sleeps.


My Lords, I speak with some discomfort this afternoon because I am aware chat a great many of your Lordships are anxious to get to the further stage in this afternoon's proceedings which has been arranged by those in authority. I am not unaware of the difficulties of arranging business in your Lordships' House, but I am inclined to think that we are supercharged, so to speak, this afternoon in those aspects of international affairs which we are assembled to consider. It is only my knowledge that the discomfort of the refugees is greater even than our discomfort this afternoon that leads me to intervene in this debate. I shall, however, confine myself entirely to the subject of the Motion and not stray into other international matters which will be dealt with subsequently in this House. The Lord Bishop of Chichester, I think, does deserve gratitude for the very moving way in which he spoke this afternoon in bringing forward his Motion, and I would join with those who have thanked him as well as with those who have expressed gratitude to President Roosevelt for yet another humanitarian move in a distracted world.

The reason for my intervention is that I happen to be the only member of your Lordships' House who attended the Evian Conference. I propose to confine myself, therefore, mainly to the actual occurences in that Conference in order that we may see what the Government have done in co-operation with other Governments, and what they still might do to further the problem before us. That Conference, as has already been pointed out, was attended by representatives of about thirty Governments, and, in addition, a large number of private organisations sent delegations. The object of the Conference was to deal with Jews and non-Aryans who are still in Germany and Austria but who are being compelled to leave. The attempt was made to secure that that should be the only consideration of the Conference, and that those who have already left Germany and the other types of refugees who have been referred to should continue to be the object of the organisations already in existence, such as the Nansen Office dealing with Russians and Assyrians and Armenian refugees, and the League High Commissioner for refugees who deals with non-Jews and Jews who have left Germany.

That High Commissioner's work, which was referred to by the Bishop of Chichester, has been done with very limited resources, and has consequently not been as great a success as we should have hoped. Many of your Lordships will recall the retiring letter of Mr. James G. McDonald, the first High Commissioner. He said his task was hopeless because he had no resources. The Nansen Office, dealing as we have been reminded, with Russians, Assyrians, Armenians and others, has itself deteriorated very seriously since the death of Nansen. There was a very interesting letter by Major Johnson in The Times of July 14. Major Johnson was the League Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees and the Secretary-General of the Nansen International Office for Refugees. He pointed out that after Nansen's death political considerations were allowed to dominate the refugee work, and refugee factions controlled the direction and even the day-to-day administration of the Nansen Office, with the result that Governments antagonistic to those elements insisted on the liquidation of the Office. Now the fact of the matter is that that has gone on, and there has been considerable friction. There is now a proposal to amalgamate the High Commissioner and the Nansen Office.

I am particularly anxious that the noble Earl, Lord Plymouth, should deal for a moment or two in his reply with the proposals for this amalgamation. What is needed is a person of the outstanding personality of Dr. Nansen, a person of international authority who will command the respect of the whole world. Secondly, we want to avoid this refugee control in future; I mean avoid the putting in of the refugees themselves into the various offices in different cities and countries, so that we shall avoid this antagonism which has been referred to by certain Governments who are involved. I think it is most desirable also that we should recognise the temporary character of the work of the High Commissioner and of the Nansen Office, because in the course of nature many of these refugees die, and many of them become absorbed, and, particularly in the countries where most of these refugees are, their children no longer are refugees because they take up the nationality of the country in which they are born. That then is the position with regard to other refugees.

As regards the Evian Conference the difficulty it had to face was that it had to avoid giving support to suggestions or decisions which might encourage a growing pressure on Jews in Poland and Rumania, who might be forced out of those countries if too great ease were shown in receiving masses of refugees. That was one of the factors behind all the deliberations, and it is very necessary to realise in this country the pressure of what I might call potential refugees who will burst out if it is too easy to find a place for mass or large-scale settlement. The other factor that has to be watched is the possibility of such large-scale settlement causing a rise in anti-Semitic feeling in the countries for which the suggestion of settlement is made. There is no secret of the fact that many people are perturbed by the rise of anti-Semitic feeling in a large number of countries at the present moment, and nothing should be done in my opinion to exacerbate or cause a rise in that very dangerous state of mind.

The speeches of most of the delegates were very guarded. They were not exactly optimistic, yet I am inclined to agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, that the mere existence of the Conference did raise hopes of increased efforts. The British Government are to be congratulated, I think, on being the only Government which sent a full-fledged Minister as head of their delegation, certainly the only Government that sent a Cabinet Minister, and I believe he was the only actual Minister who attended. That gave the British delegation a position of considerable advantage in dealing with the problem. Lord Winterton made a very good survey of the general position, and I thought that if it was not exactly constructive at least it was sympathetic. His reference to East Africa was valuable. Perhaps I might remind a previous speaker in this debate that Britain does not own a quarter of the world. It is a common mistake to imagine that we own the Dominions. We do not. The Dominions are autonomous regions of precisely equal sovereignty with Great Britain. We do not own a quarter of the world, and therefore we are not in a position to dictate to the Dominions what they shall do as regards those they desire to receive or not to receive inside their areas.

The problem was first of all the countries immediately bounding on Germany and Austria, what I would christen "transit" countries—countries where a very large number of refugees come in, not for the purpose of settling, but for the purpose of being translated, so to speak, into another country. Particularly, of course, France, Switzerland and Holland are in that category. The next type of country was the highly industrialised country, rather like Great Britain, which is clearly not a country of large-scale immigration, and of course the third category was the countries of settlement, such as the largely undeveloped countries of South America and other parts of the world.

I attended this Conference not for the purpose of supporting quantitative settlement, of large numbers, but of what I may call "qualitative" settlement, which means what has already been referred to by a number of speakers in this debate: the raising of the quality of the refugees so that, instead of being useless persons coming into a country unable to do anything, they shall have been trained and shall be fully capable of contributing something to the industrialisation or the agricultural development of their country. This type of work has another effect, because if these training schools, industrial and agricultural—in which I am particularly interested—are established in large numbers in the countries of what I might call potential emigration, such as Poland and Rumania, they will have the effect of dealing with the refugee problem at its foundation—namely, of preventing people from becoming refugees. That, after all, is a most important factor, because Poland and Rumania together have some 4,000,000 potential refugees as compared with the mere 500,000 which we have heard is the total in Germany. Therefore the training of these people in the industrialisation which is growing in these countries should, I think, be encouraged by the Government in every way possible by doing what they can to secure support for the organisations which are doing that work, because it kills at the base this potential refugeeism, which will add so enormously to the problem in the world and, in fact, make its solution, as the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, said, impossible.

Then, of course, these training schools must be established in countries where the emigrants go—training schools in industry, training schools in agriculture in transit countries such as France, where they have already been established; training schools in the countries to which the refugees will go, such as the Argentine, and training schools, in so far as is possible, in Germany and Austria. Already one such school is doing excellent work in Germany, training in industry these young boys so that they will become welcome immigrants wherever they may end. Sir Neill Malcolm, the High Commissioner, made a very masterly survey to the Evian Conference, and in the course of his remarks he used these words. He said it would be far easier for both the Dominions and other countries to receive considerable numbers of aliens if they were introduced as individuals capable of finding occupation and becoming affiliated. Infiltration was therefore likely to produce better results than a mass migration. That means that the quality of these immigrants is more important than the consideration of quantity, because good quality diminishes the opposition to the immigration of future refugees after the earlier refugees have become valuable settlers in the country.

Finally, in this connection let me say that I consider that the mere existence of the Conference was an indictment of what is going on in Germany and Austria. The human problem has already been referred to, and we were particularly moved by the stories told to us by the representatives from Vienna, particularly Professor Heinrich von Neumann, that famous specialist, who had himself undergone a suffering almost incredible if he had not told us of it. The problem in these countries has been made worse by the thousands upon thousands who are applying for visas to get out of the country. The American, the British, the French Consulates are overrun with these applicants for visas; so much so that it is interesting to know that the authorities in Vienna have established offices for the issue of forged visas to France for which the refugees are being asked to pay. I do not know whether there are forged visas for this country, but certainly that has been done as regards France.

What can the Government do in this matter? In the first place I should like to ask Lord Plymouth whether it is possible to do anything in connection with the Oversea Settlement Board. I see that the Board, which was appointed in February, 1936, was asked to consider and advise on any matter relating to oversea settlement which may be referred to it by the Secretary of State. Is there any reason why this Oversea Settlement Board should not have referred to it some of the aspects of the problem which we are discussing this afternoon? I hope that we may have some sort of assurance on that matter. Earl Winterton in his speech said that the Government intended to ratify the 1938 Convention. I should just like to ask Lord Plymouth to confirm that that Convention, the gist of which is in Command Paper 5780, will be ratified at the earliest possible date—namely, August 9. One other point: I turn to page 30 of that document and I see this recommendation: The Conference recommends that countries which have not yet taken any steps of this kind, should consider the institution of an advisory committee to examine the situation of refugees, or should put into practice an appropriate method of co-operation with private organisations assisting refugees. I should particularly welcome a statement from the noble Earl, Lord Plymouth, as to whether in fact such an advisory committee has been set up or will be set up, and, if so, who will be in charge.

Another point which Lord Winterton raised was in these words. In his speech to the Conference he said: Facilities have been freely given to young persons to undertake a course of education or enter industrial enterprises for training or retraining. I should like to ask the noble Earl, Lord Plymouth, if the Government, considering this country as a transit country, will in future increase these facilities, and particularly will the Government allow training in agriculture? We heard from Lord Reading a few moments ago that some of the South American countries wanted their recruits to be trained in agriculture. Will the Government do something to ensure the possibility of the training in agriculture in this country of these transit refugees who will arrive here and then leave to settle in some other country?

I should also be interested to have from Lord Plymouth some information as regards the attitude of the Government to certain problems facing the new Inter-Governmental Committee. I would like to know whether the Government have any ideas with regard to the measure of co-operation between that Committee and the League of Nations. I should also like to know whether the Government are consulting with the United States Government so that they may have a common policy on the Inter-Governmental Committee. I believe that to be very important. I quite agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, that a separate Committee was inevitable, for the reasons which he gave, and I also agree with him with regard to the possibility of bringing some capital out of Germany.

Let me remind your Lordships of a very touching letter written by a Conservative Member, Commander Locker-Lampson, which appeared in The times a day or two ago. He said: The exiles have been stripped and despoiled of their possessions by a policy of plunder. But there is one form of capital of which even Nazi extortion has been unable to rob them—the capital of the creative mind. That is the capital which makes it advisable and necessary that this country should do all in its power to aid the refugees. Earl Winterton recognised this in his speech when he said the traditional policy of Great Britain has been to offer asylum to persons who for political, racial or religious reasons have had to leave their own countries. And he went on to say: The United Kingdom has never yet had cause to regret this policy, and refugees have often enriched the life and contributed to the prosperity of the British people. Bearing this in mind, I hope the Government will make a far greater contribution in the future than was outlined at the Evian Conference. I am certain that, if the Government are able to do rather more on these lines, it will not only be a help to the refugees but will have far-reaching results as an example to other countries in the world who may be persuaded by that means to do more in this matter.


My Lords, the subject which has been raised by the right reverend Prelate is one in which we know he takes the very deepest interest. It is a matter of the very greatest and immediate importance. At all times the people of this country have shown a very great concern in regard to it. I think it will also be admitted that His Majesty's Government have always approached this problem of post-War refugees with the very greatest sympathy and with a whole-hearted desire to do everything they could to assist in its solution within the limits of what appeared to be possible. The difficulties that stand in the way are only too obvious and have been referred to by a number of speakers. I wish to say this before I go any further, that I do not think that anybody who had the privilege of listening to the speeches we have heard this afternoon, could have failed to be very deeply moved by them. Because we feel that this is a difficult problem, and at the same time one with regard to which the people of this country feel very deeply, I can assure your Lordships that His Majesty's Government will give the very closest attention to what has been said by various speakers this afternoon in a desire to help to solve it.

I had thought it possible, after having perused the actual terms of the right reverend Prelate's Resolution, that he might have referred in greater detail to the more general question of the post-War refugees than he actually did. He did make a passing reference to the work of Dr. Nansen in this direction, and quite rightly paid a warm tribute to him with which I, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, would wish to associate myself very closely indeed. The noble Lord opposite, Lord Marley, made reference to the work that was being done by the League of Nations on this matter and he asked me if I could confirm what he understood to be the position there. I can most certainly do so. The position at present is that both the Nansen Office and the mandate of the High Commissioner for Refugees from Germany and Austria will terminate at the end of this year. As a result of the Soviet Government withdrawing a difficulty which they raised at one time—action which we certainly appreciate—the Council of the League of Nations have proposed that one single organisation should be constituted after the end of this year in order to take the place of the two existing organisations. That matter will come before the Assembly in September, and it will be for the Assembly to reach a final decision and to make final proposals.

But in view of the fact that this aspect of the question has only been lightly touched upon, I feel I can perhaps more profitably make use of the comparatively limited time which I consider to be at my disposal, by referring to the more immediate aspects of the situation and the situation which has been created as the result of what has developed in Germany and Austria mainly in recent months. I think, therefore, that being so, I had better, in the first place, give His Majesty's Government's version of what actually occurred at Evian. I do not think there is much misconception about it, but I think for clarity's sake it would be advisable that I should do that. Your Lordships naturally know that the meeting was called by President Roosevelt to consider the question of emigration from both Germany and Austria. When he made this proposal His Majestys' Government very warmly welcomed the initiative that he had made and expressed themselves as desirous of co-operating most wholeheartedly and fully with work to give effect to that proposal. I think it might be as well if I remind your Lordships of this point.

This invitation to a meeting at Evian was given on three separate conditions. First of all, it was made clear that, as the result, the countries who participated in that meeting should not be asked to modify their existing legislation in regard to the question of immigration. Then there was a second understanding, and that was that the finance of any new action that was taken—that really requires qualification: financing any new schemes, I think, puts it more correctly—should remain the concern of private organisations, as I think it was almost entirely in the past. Thirdly, the United States Government wished to make it quite clear that it was not their intention or desire to interfere in any way with the work of existing agencies, such as those referred to, who were concerning themselves, under the auspices of the League of Nations, with aspects of this problem. There were actually present represented at this meeting thirty-two delegates from different countries. The Chairman, as we know, was Mr. Myron Taylor from the United States, to whom tribute has already been paid to-day for the extremely sympathetic and efficient way in which he carried out his duties. His Majesty's Government were represented, very ably, as I think it will be recognised, by the Chancellor of the Duchy, Lord Winterton, and Sir M. Palairet. Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland sent delegates to the meeting. The Government of the Union of South Africa sent an observer.

The meeting ended on July 15, and, as your Lordships now know, complete agreement was reached on the subjects under discussion. The meeting had two principal objects in view. The first was to put in motion machinery which would in the long run alleviate the gravity of this problem, and it arranged for the regular meeting in the future of representatives from those countries who had sent delegates to Evian. The second object was to enlarge the facilities for the admission of emigrants from Germany and Austria to countries of permanent refuge and settlement. May I be allowed to say a word about the second point first? The meeting appointed a technical sub-committee to exchange in confidence statements on the immigration laws and practices of participating Governments, and to consider statements of the number and types of immigrants which it was prepared to receive and the question of administration. As a result of the deliberation of this committee, the meeting was able to adopt a resolution which noted with satisfaction that the report held out prospects for increased reception of refugees qualifying for admission under the immigration laws and practices of receiving countries; that certain countries had indicated their desire to consider plans for settlement of refugees in their territories when such plans were presented by an official or private organisations; and that countries bordering on Germany, while unable, in existing circumstances, to make any substantial addition to their present efforts, might continue to make an important contribution to the solution of the problem by affording facilities for vocational, technical, or agricultural training to refugees to whom temporary asylum had been given. The committee recommended that the Governments should continue to study, in a generous spirit, the problems raised in their sub-committee's report.

Then, as Lord Samuel has already pointed out, a general resolution adopted by the Committee, after drawing attention to the serious problem created by involuntary emigration of large numbers from their countries, laid down the principle that if the countries of refuge were to find orderly solution of this problem, they should have the collaboration of the country of origin, and that involuntary emigrants should be enabled to take with them their property and possessions. The right reverend Prelate, as well as other speakers, has laid particular emphasis on this question, and I admit that I am not surprised that he has done so. I think it is quite obvious that unless collaboration in this direction is forthcoming, the problem, already difficult, becomes immeasurably complicated and is possibly rendered insoluble. It is perfectly clear that no thickly-populated country can be expected to accept persons who are deprived of their means of subsistence before they arrive; nor can resources of private societies be expected to make good losses of emigrants. We therefore greatly hope that countries of origin will assist in creating conditions in which emigrants can start life in other countries with some prospect of success. I can assure your Lordships that this particular aspect of the matter will be one which will be constantly kept in mind in dealing with the whole problem by His Majesty's Government.

The resolution then made a series of recommendations. In the first place, it recommended that the persons coming within the scope of the activity of the Committee should be persons who had not yet left their country of origin—Germany, including Austria—but who must emigrate on account of their political opinions, religious beliefs, or racial origin, and persons so defined who had already left their country of origin but who had not yet established themselves permanently elsewhere. That is a point of importance, because it enlarges the scope of similar activities beyond what they had been before. A second recommendation was to the effect that the Governments participating in the Inter-Governmental Committee should continue to furnish it, for its strictly confidential information, with details regarding such immigrants as each Government might be prepared to receive under its existing laws and practices, and details of these laws and practices. Thirdly, that the Governments of the countries of refuge and settlement should not assume any obligations for the financing of involuntary emigration. A recommendation was also made in regard to the provision of documents for persons desiring to emigrate.

The Committee also recommended the establishment in London of an Inter-Governmental Committee consisting of representatives of Governments who sent delegates to Evian. Broadly speaking, the function of this Committee was to continue and to develop as quickly as possible the work that had been commenced at Evian. This Committee is to have a Director, a man of standing and authority, whose chief duties will be, first of all, to undertake negotiations to improve present conditions of emigration and to replace them by a system of orderly emigration; and, secondly, to approach the Governments of the countries of refuge and settlement with a view to developing opportunities of permanent settlement. It was further laid down that the Committee should co-operate with the refugee services of the League of Nations and the International Labour Office, whose work His Majesty's Government recognise as having been so valuable in the past. As your Lordships know, this Committee is to meet on August 3 here in London.

I would merely like to say, after this short review of what occurred at Evian, that His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom accept the recommendations of the Evian meeting, which your Lordships may take to imply an obligation felt by them fully to co-operate and to assist the work of this Committee in the future. I ought now to add that in the course of the meeting the United Kingdom delegate gave some indication of the contribution which His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom might be able to make, both in respect of the United Kingdom and of the Colonies, to the solution of the problem before the Committee. In regard to the Colonies, he referred in particular to the possibilities which might exist in certain of the East African territories for the settlement of a limited number of refugee families. He mentioned the case of Kenya, where plans for the acquisition of land for the purpose of small-scale settlement are actually under consideration at the present time. He made it clear that, whatever plans might ultimately take shape, the process of settlement must in any event be a gradual one, and that there could be no question of mass immigration or of disturbing land allotted for native occupation.

I cannot go into these matters in any detail, but I may say in general terms that the United Kingdom delegate made it quite plain that there was every desire on the part of His Majesty's Government and of the Colonial authorities concerned to render any assistance that might be found practicable. I am not at the moment in a position to give more precise information in regard to the prospects of settlement in East Africa, but, as I said, the matter is under active consideration, not only in regard to Kenya but also in regard to Northern Rhodesia. I think your Lordships, however, will agree that reasonable time must be allowed for the consideration of what obviously is a complicated problem, and one that means very much to the inhabitants of those particular countries.

Then, as the noble Viscount said, the United Kingdom delegate also referred to the question of Jewish immigration into Palestine, and explained why in the opinion of His Majesty's Government that question stood upon a footing of its own and could not usefully be taken into account at the present stage in connection with the general problems before the Evian meeting.

The right reverend Prelate made reference to the position of the Dominions, and laid stress on the importance of the closest co-operation between His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the Governments of the Dominions. As the right reverend Prelate himself admitted, the question of the admission of immigrants into the Dominions and of their subsequent employment there is entirely a matter for the Governments of the Dominions concerned, to be considered in the light of the circumstances prevailing at the time in the community for which they may be responsible. But I can certainly assure your Lordships that, both in the preparations for the Evian meeting and at the meeting itself, His Majesty's Government have acted in the closest consultation with the Dominion Governments. This close consultation will certainly be continued in regard to the Committee which is to meet shortly in London. I might add that the four Dominion Governments who were represented at the Evian meeting will be asked to send representatives to the London Committee.

Then again, the right reverend Prelate referred to other matters, such as the facilities which are provided for training emigrants in this country, and also the effect upon the general problem of the falling birth-rate in this country and elsewhere. During the course of the discussion of these problems a tribute was paid to the liberal attitude which had been adopted by the Secretary of State for Home Affairs in regard to the administration of the immigration laws, and therefore I think it is only right that I should be guarded in my statement in regard to these particular aspects of the problem, which are chiefly the concern of the Secretary of State for Home Affairs. I can say, though, that His Majesty's Government are anxious to do everything within their power to assist refugees from Germany, including Austria, who come to this country to enter factories, workshops and business enterprises for the purpose of receiving technical or business training to fit them for emigration to some other country where they can be permanently settled. The noble Lord opposite raised specifically the question of training in agriculture, but I am afraid that at the moment I am not able to say whether facilities of that kind can be provided or not. I will note the point and inquire into it.

A considerable number of refugees have already had a course of training of this kind, and have been successful in finding openings overseas, and His Majesty's Government will continue to afford facilities to refugees of this type. His Majesty's Government are also prepared to agree to the employment of suitable refugees in this country, but owing to the unemployment situation it is obvious that the number of such persons who can be placed must be limited. I do not wish to pursue that question further. The right reverend Prelate has expressed certain views which for my part I can only say that I accept with a good many reservations, but it is an aspect of the problem which clearly has to be taken into full account in formulating a final policy. The extent to which refugees can find employment must, in the first instance, depend upon the work of the Co-ordinating Committee for Refugees, whose constituent committees must find places in industrial and commercial enterprises which are not already overcrowded and competitive.

The policy of the open door is not one which would commend itself to His Majesty's Government, and I understand that even the voluntary organisations are opposed to the unrestricted admission of refugees from Germany, including Austria. It was with the object of substituting an orderly for a disorderly exodus from Germany and Austria to the United Kingdom that His Majesty's Government set up in May last a system of visa control whereby persons who, for political, racial, or religious reasons wish to come to this country from Germany and Austria, can be admitted in such numbers as circumstances permit and within the ability of the voluntary organisations to deal with the persons so admitted. The number of visas granted in Vienna during May and June reached a total of approximately 2,800, and the most recent advices from the Passport Control Officer in Vienna indicate that the number of visas granted in July has been maintained at the same level as in May and June.

The question of the falling birth-rate and the possible need of encouraging immigration to meet the situation of a smaller population, which the right reverend Prelate raised, is obviously a very large and very complicated one. It certainly raises issues of a much wider character than are contemplated in the terms of the actual Motion, and would, if pursued, undoubtedly carry the debate into fields which are not perhaps immediately relevant to this refugee problem. In the circumstances I merely feel unable to say anything on that aspect of the situation at the present stage.

There are, however, one or two points I wish to emphasize in my closing remarks. First of all, I should like to draw attention to the harmony and good will in which the proceedings at Evian were conducted. There was a complete identity of views and purpose on the part of the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and indeed all other delegations as well. I want also to point out a matter which I know the right reverend Prelate feels is of importance. That is that the meeting concerned itself not only with Jewish refugees, but of course with all refugees, both actual and potential, from Germany and Austria. Then great emphasis was laid during the meeting on the fact that, if an orderly solution was to be found, it was essential that the country of origin should enable intending emigrants to take their property and possessions so that they could start life in another country with some prospect of success. It was specifically laid down that there should be the fullest cooperation between the London Committee and its Director on the one hand, and the refugee services of the League of Nations on the other.

I should like to sum up by saying that the Evian meeting was not only able to lay down a method of inter-governmental action which promises practical results, but also was able to record a general willingness on the part of the participating Governments to place a liberal interpretation on their immigration practice with the object of admitting a greater number of refugees from Germany and Austria than they have been prepared to do in the past. This problem of involuntary emigration, even in the case of Austria and Germany, is not one that can be solved in a few days or indeed in a few weeks, but I venture to claim that the results of Evian are a good augury for the future. Undoubtedly the collaboration of the United States Government will lend incalculable prestige and authority to the work of the London Committee. This work, while breaking fresh ground, will at the same time reinforce and supplement the work which the League of Nations has done and intends to continue to do in regard to this problem. I can assure the House that His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom will, as far as circumstances permit, continue to promote and encourage both in London and in Geneva inter-governmental action to mitigate the sufferings and unhappiness to which this problem inevitably gives rise.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Earl for the sympathetic answer he has given and for the careful consideration which his speech shows of the various aspects of the refugee problem. I am very grateful to him indeed, and I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.