HL Deb 25 May 1943 vol 127 cc619-43

LORD BARNBY rose to call the attention of His Majesty's Government to the requirement of provision for transfer within the British Commonwealth of social security contributions of intending migrants as indicated in the Beveridge Report; and to move for Papers.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Motion standing in my name comes at a happy moment, after Empire Day, when it is fitting that a subject of this kind should be discussed in your Lordships' House. It is with particular pleasure that I see in his place my noble friend Lord Bledisloe, who has given such a generous amount of his time and energy to heading the Empire Day movement. The object of the Motion is to follow up a question which I asked in this House in July last. About the same time there was a question in the House of Commons by Sir Arthur Evans. I was very grateful on that occasion for the reply which my noble friend Lord Snell was good enough to give me, but I thought at the time that it did not go far enough. I am indebted to the Dominions Office for the opportunity of several conversations on this matter, and I will say at the outset that I fully realize that the Dominions Office takes a sympathetic attitude towards the question. The reply which Lord Snell was good enough to give me, however, suggested that the difficulties therein outlined were such that, to put it bluntly, nothing could be done for the time being. It is because I am not satisfied with that attitude that, taking everything into consideration, I thought it opportune to raise the matter again.

As a member of the Oversea Settlement Board, which has gone into cold storage for the duration of the war, I had the opportunity to become familiar with the machinery which then existed for examining and canalizing thought and action in regard to this matter. I realized, too, that the problem was one which was receiving the consideration of the appropriate Government Departments. The point I want to make now is that the view that it is inopportune to do anything at the present time is not necessarily acceptable. I repeat that as a member of the Oversea Settlement Board one had the opportunity of becoming familiar with the different contacts. Moreover, I have made a practice for many years of studying this question and have made visits to the Dominions, with which I think I can claim considerable familiarity. The Report of the Oversea Settlement Board issued in May, 1938, states in paragraph 99: The problem before us is how to strengthen the Empire by means of migration from the United Kingdom to the oversea Dominions,… and it can only be solved if the Governments and people concerned realize its importance and are prepared to co-operate whole-heartedly in the measures necessary for its solution. in the Beveridge Report it is stated definitely that the subject which I raise to-day is one which must, at the appropriate moment, receive consideration.

May I therefore briefly state what the problem is? Unless some means are bound to effect a transfer of the benefits accruing from the contributions to the different social security schemes, it is very difficult to get people in the United Kingdom to consider transfer to the Dominions. I put it in that way because I approach the subject with the belief that there is a widespread desire that the aims of the Oversea Settlement Board to which I have referred should still be possible in the future. To quote again the Report of that Board, it is stated in paragraph 116: The effect of social insurance schemes on migration-mindedness is of the utmost importance and as soon as any Dominion Government adopt a scheme of social insurance comparable with that in operation in the United Kingdom we think that the United Kingdom Government and the Government of the Dominion concerned should at once explore the possibility of establishing forthwith the utmost reciprocity of which the schemes permit. The noble Lord, Lord Snell, in the answer given to me to which I have referred, laid emphasis on the question of pensions. I fully realize that we have a contributory pensions scheme and the Dominions have not, and that that fact produces difficulties. But I had in mind particularly the other social security schemes which are widespread in this country and are considerably developed in Australia and New Zealand. My noble friend Lord Bennett himself aimed to put such legislation on the Statute Book in Canada, but unfortunately was not successful, though I believe that considerable progress has since been made in that direction by the present Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Mackenzie King.

The position therefore on which I base my Motion is that we cannot look forward to migration unless something is done in this matter. It is on that ground that I have urged upon the Dominions Office that the moment has already arrived when there should be an examination by officials from the various Dominions, in conjunction with our own Government, in order to attempt to arrive at some mechanism by which this could be achieved. It will take many months to examine it and work out a solution. Therefore it would be better to take time by the forelock and work out such a solution now rather than wait till a later date. The view quite frankly taken by the Dominions Office is that it is not opportune to have such examination now, and that is why I desire to press on my noble friend who will reply to-day that he should look with favour on an exchange of views with the Dominions on the point. Last year I took the opportunity of speaking with Mr. Peter Fraser, Prime Minister of New Zealand, and with Mr. Mackenzie King when I was in Ottawa on this question of mechanism, and I gathered that they both looked with favour on the idea that the matter should be examined. I have spoken with various Australian statesmen and found them sympathetic also. In moving this Motion to-day I desire to urge that the matter of Empire migration is of such importance as to justify some research. We hear of the importance of research in many directions as justifying generous expenditure of time and effort, and I want to urge on my noble friend that this also is a subject which might well be the subject of research.

Another point I want to refer to is the question of training centres, but before I pass to that may I give one example to show why I suggest that it is better to act now rather than after the war? I do not see how this differs very much from the question of civilian air transport. The first two debates in your Lordships' House rather gave the impression that the Government felt this was a matter that should properly be postponed until we had got much further along the road to winning the war, but under great pressure from this House and the other place the Government accepted the view that energetic action was justified. No doubt that had been going on under the surface all the time; perhaps that should be admitted in fairness to the Government. But the argument was that it was politically inexpedient and inconvenient. The whole question of world migration—not Empire migration only—must fall under similar heads as those which have been considered by the National Labour Office in its voluminous report on migration and settlement. I should just like to quote from yesterday's Daily Mail: If we neglect civil aviation we shall cease to exist as a great Power. The Dominions will inevitably drift away from the Empire and become associated with other systems. Air communications are vital, but if we state the thing so strongly in regard to them we must have confidence that the Dominions will continue to receive increases to their population from overseas.

Without wishing to draw too much on the time of the House, I would ask indulgence to remind your Lordships that many matters of inescapable consideration after the war cannot leave out of account migration. Take the rebuilding of Britain itself. Take the devastated areas south of the Thames, take Hull, take many other cities. Is it to be assumed that the industries which existed in those places before are going to justify their moving back to those centres of population? Are they going to be dispersed in the United Kingdom, or are they going to be moved partly overseas? When I say "partly overseas" I refer to migration on a comprehensive scale. I find that many people in Canada think we should move not only the people but the capital, machinery, and so on, involving arrangements for removal and preparations for reception. This involves our export policy. How are we to know what our necessary food imports are to be unless we know what the future population is going to be? What is going to be the result of the normal drift of births and deaths? Are we going to base our policy consciously on the expectation that the population will be appreciably and progressively reduced by accelerated migration? That involves domestic agricultural development, which has been discussed at great length in this House. The Minister in charge of reconstruction has to consider all these points, and I urge that plans for Empire migration are, inescapably, one of the problems that justify consideration during the war and which should not be put into cold storage until later on.

I recognize that if we are going to do anything about migration it must be done with the concurrence of the Dominions; it is not a matter only for the United Kingdom. But from this point of view I would suggest that the outlook in Australia and New Zealand has changed very much during the war. There is a wide recognition in those countries that they would have been better to receive a more generous flow of immigrants before the war, which would have put them in a better position to meet the existing war situation in the Pacific. I have been further encouraged to observe, as your Lordships will also have noticed, that in their speeches the members of the Empire Parliamentary delegation now in this country, including prominent Parliamentarians from Australia and New Zealand, have emphasized the changed outlook in those countries on migration questions and have recognized the need for an increased inflow.

We know that before the war the real difficulty as regards emigration to Australia was the outlook of organized labour. In that connexion I remember that the Oversea Settlement Board emphasized that matters would be helped by the encouragement of visits from representative United Kingdom workers to the Dominions. We have been encouraged to hope that this outlook on the part of organized labour is going to remove many of the difficulties because, if we may so interpret the authoritative pronouncements of the labour members of the National Cabinet, there is a conviction that, in the post-war period, Empire defence must be one of the obligations which the citizen must shoulder. Before leaving this question let me quote from the Report of the Oversea Settlement Board, paragraph 112: In our view the growth of secondary industries in the Dominions should have an important effect on the capacity of the Dominions to absorb migrants from the united Kingdom, not only because such development should enable the Dominions to support a larger population, but also because it provides a wider and more attractive occupational field for migrants from this country, thereby foreshadowing that migrants in future may be just as suitable for secondary industries as for primary industries.

I would ask your Lordships' indulgence to quote from the Manchester Guardian with regard to India. I am not suggesting that India has anything to do with migration, but it has a great deal to do with British exports. In emphasizing what India is now producing under the stimulus of war and the efforts of the Eastern Supplies Council, the Manchester Guardian says: If the war continues for a few years Indian industries should have sufficient momentum to proceed inexorably towards making the country one of the world's greatest industrial nations. Special schools are training thousands of highly skilled workmen. That is an angle that has to be considered in connexion with post-war plans for reconstruction in this country.

The point really is this. Is a move to be made by the United Kingdom or is it to be made by the Dominions? I would ask the indulgence of the House to remind your Lordships of the theory that the inflow of migrants can develop a country, and that the inflow into the United States from all directions in the early part of the century, particularly the years from 1909 to 1913, averaged over 900,000 per annum. I admit that the problem for the Dominions is quite different, because the inflow there is not likely on a scale of that kind. While I do not wish to prejudge the possibilities of the future, I hope that the subject will be approached by the Dominions Office without any prejudice.

I would like to take the opportunity now to refer to a movement which is being planned to facilitate post-war travel within the Empire. It is sponsored by Mr. George Gibson, a past president of the Trades Union Congress, and it indicates how much he is convinced of the change of outlook in this matter among all sections of the community in this country. He is giving his time, ability and reputation to launching and seeking support for a movement which has so lofty an aim that he is enlisting for it the support of the State in order to facilitate assisted visits from the United Kingdom to different parts of the Empire. There has been much criticism because education in this country lacks what it should have in order to make the children of this country Empire-minded. The Report of the Oversea Settlement Board, in paragraph 118, urges that everything possible should be done to familiarize the population of this country with the conditions of life overseas; for example, by giving greater prominence to Empire subjects in the curricula of school.… I am glad to learn from the President of the Board of Education that as a result of his efforts and the support they have received in many directions there is already an encouraging and even surprising receptiveness on the part of the official teaching bodies concerned with vocational teaching to recognize the need for implementing what has been said in that Report.

I want to refer briefly to the Fairbridge Farm School. In this House no words are needed from me to commend it to your Lordships. Its success in the past has been acknowledged and it is accepted as an established means whereby children and juveniles can be drafted into life in the Dominions. There are other organizations dealing with the young which aim at the same target, including the Salvation Army, and great good has been done by them. I am in this connexion going to urge my noble friend the Leader of the House to arrange that consideration shall be given to a method whereby training centres at Government cost, or anyhow generously supported by Government contributions and assisted possibly by private contributions, may be established, and centres set up where children could be received at an early age, in a way similar to that adopted in the case of the Fair-bridge Farm School and prepared for a life in the Dominions. The Ministry of Labour Training Schools suggest a precedent. This I think justifies taking steps now to provide a flow which may help the type of migration that is generally considered in the Dominions to be the best type. I do not want to enlarge upon that matter. I only put it forward in the hope that my noble friend will accept the principle that this subject merits research by a body which should be set up to apply itself to it.

There is, of course, the wider subject of what may be done with regard to the reception later of children from the devastated countries. I merely mention that because in paragraph 109 of the Report of the Oversea Settlement Board—and I ask the indulgence of the House to quote again—it is stated: We recognize that, having regard to the nature of population trends, both in the United Kingdom and in the Dominions, it may be desirable that the growth of British stock in the Dominions from natural increase and migration should be supplemented by a carefully regulated flow of other immigrants of assimilable types. I do not know what the findings of the Bermuda Conference may be, but doubtless that angle will have been considered. There is in this country among civil servants and in the Dominions a wealth of experience available and it ought to be made use of. The population problems in the United Kingdom and estimates of the population prospects over a long period are inescapably scrutinized in dealing with the problems arising from long-range population estimates, including the social security schemes. I urge that this question of migration should be included. There was available before it was put into cold storage on account of the war a fund voted annually by Parliament, amounting, I think, to £1,500,000 sterling, available for various purposes approved by the Board in connexion with migration. It seemed even then a niggardly enough sum for so lofty a purpose. Nevertheless Parliament did provide for the machinery.

There are so many matters involved when considering migration that any one addressing your Lordships' House upon the subject, even if he touched upon each only briefly, must occupy more time than would be appropriate. My last words therefore are to recapitulate my appeal to my noble friend who is to reply for the Government that he will urge the setting up of machinery for effecting the transfer of the accumulated contributions of the social security schemes; that he will support the idea of setting up some body concerned with research on this problem which is so vital to the future of the Empire, if that Empire, as we believe is going to have a continuing stabilizing effect on the world; and that he will consider the question of training centres. I suggest that post-war credits to ex-Service men will naturally in the ordinary course of things become available and could be optionally attached to migration facilities, which is an additional reason why at this stage there is justification for an adequate examination of this question. I beg to move for Papers.


My Lords, my noble friend Lord Barnby asked me to be present to-day with a view to my supporting his Motion. Quite frankly I did not know what his Motion meant, and although I am further enlightened by what he has said, I am not sure that I would travel the whole way with him in stressing to so great an extent what I may call the social security element in the problem of migration. He opened his speech by a reference to Empire Day and on that opening I cannot resist the temptation to use his remarks as a peg in commenting upon the observance of Empire Day in this country, and particularly in this metropolis, as contrasted with its observance in other parts of the world. I particularly stress the expression "in other parts of the world" because it is remarkable and significant that, to judge by Press reports, Empire Day was recognized to a greater extent this year in the United States, which is not an Empire country, than in any part of this homeland of the Empire.

In any case I have yet to be satisfied that this old country is sufficiently Empire-minded, is sufficiently interested in our Imperial heritage, has sufficient knowledge, particularly among the young, of the opportunities which our overseas territories possess for successful migration, before I can, with great enthusiasm, attempt to put pressure upon the Government to encourage on a large scale migration to various parts of the Empire—or of the British Commonwealth if you like—for which apparently the greater part of the population of this country is not ready or about which it is not keen. I am perfectly satisfied in my own mind that there is great scope for migration, even Government-assisted migration, to certain parts of the overseas Empire if only on the ground of providing a profitable vocational outlet for a large section of our population, which, even if the Beveridge Report be adopted in its entirety, might find itself after the war with a considerable problem of unemployment to be solved.

Although I fully recognize that a large number of persons might be tempted to migrate overseas if they were confident that they would receive the same social service benefits in the country of their adoption as they would look for in this country, I would like to suggest that if there is a Government investigation it should be one of very much wider scope; indeed, a reinvestigation in the light of war-time conditions and post-war probabilities of the whole problem of overseas settlement. I do not know that I should have risen to-day but for a certain conversation—it was in no way confidential —which took place in my hearing a fortnight or three weeks ago, when the New Zealand Minister of Defence was over here and Made a most interesting speech on New Zealand's war effort before the Empire Parliamentary Association. Prior to that speech some of us were in conversation together, including a Minister of the Crown. I will not mention his name. The New Zealand Defence Minister said: "We are hoping that you are going to send us some useful migrants after the war," and the answer that the Minister gave was this: "I have grave doubts whether we shall be able to spare our own nationals when this war is over." That seems to me to go to the bottom of the problem: whether you want to settle the overseas Empire, or whether, because there appear to be at any rate war-time arguments in favour of maintaining in the old land the largest possible proportion of your male population of working age and physical capacity, that consideration does, or does not, damp clown, at any rate for some years to come, the whole problem of the advisability of overseas settlement.

I do not think I am exaggerating if I suggest that other countries have, for many years past, looked with hungry eyes upon many of the fairer lands of the British. Empire, blatantly arguing that we are "dogs in the manger" and that we have large areas of profitable exploitation where a considerable population—at any rate a considerable industrious population—could find a good living, which we are not occupying ourselves and which we are, so to speak, holding out of the hands of other nations whose territories may be even more over-populated than our own. How are we going to answer this suggestion that we are "dogs in the manger" so far as the overseas areas of the British Empire are concerned? Are we going to say there is no scope, at any rate for many years to come, for any large proportion of our surplus population—perhaps I ought not to use the word "surplus"—any large proportion of our working population, to go overseas and find a livelihood for themselves under the British Crown and with all the favourable opportunities which these territories open out to them, or are we going to admit that our Dominions and certain of our Colonies, although fair fields and promising fields for settlement, are not going to be available for the purpose and that such settlement is not going to be encouraged by our Government at home?

In that connexion I should like to say that as regards New Zealand, of which naturally I have larger knowledge than of any other Dominion, there is scope not merely for the population of 1,500,000 which exists there to-day but for at least 5,000,000 people within the next ten years, and at least 10,000,000 within the next generation. When I say there is scope for them, I mean, of course, without throwing out of employment any of New Zealand's own nationals. If only industries, and particularly agriculture and its ancillary industries, are properly developed there is scope for them. If they are men of enterprise, traditional British adventure and a reasonable amount of energy, there is scope for them to earn at least as good a living as they would get by remaining in this country. New Zealand badly needs an infiltration of fresh British blood, and New Zealanders themselves fully recognize that fact to-day. I am told that exactly the same is the case in Canada. I cannot speak with such confidence with regard to Australia, but I have good reason to believe that, at least in parts of Australia, there is a strong feeling, indeed a conviction, that the progress of the Commonwealth would be materially accelerated if there was more of British blood and British business capacity available in that country.

The capacity for population absorption is not to be judged by the area of a country. I venture to say, for instance, that New Zealand possesses, for its area, a higher capacity for human absorption than any other part of the British Empire. The land is extremely fertile, and it is replete with undeveloped mineral wealth in great variety. It sadly needs additional capital, particularly British capital which has been lacking to a woeful extent during the last thirty years. Most of the capital that has been going into New Zealand for the development of its mineral wealth and its secondary industries has come, to a limited extent, from Australia, and, to a larger extent, from the United States. So far as the agricultural land of New Zealand is concerned it is capable of much more intensive development than has so far taken place. There are districts in the volcanic area of the North Island and also large areas in Southland, the most southerly province of the South Island, where farms might, in the main, quite usefully be divided up, at least into two and probably into three, with the same amount of capital available and a prospect of much larger financial return. It would be absurd to say, in regard to such a country as that, that there is no scope for its further economic development even from an agricultural point of view; and if secondary industries are being set up in these overseas countries, as they are, and their establishment is being accelerated by war conditions, the very fact of their being established means that you have got a much larger outlet for the agricultural produce of those countries in the operatives in the secondary industries, in loco, than you had in the past. These war-time industrial efforts involve the setting up overseas of plant and buildings, which, like much plant and many buildings put up in this country during the war, will, no doubt, be adapted for peace-time industrial purposes after the war is over. All that seems to strengthen the argument in favour of encouraging migration with a good chance of profitable employment for the migrant.

I have already said more than I wanted to say, but I do wish to emphasize again this fact: that although social security, as we call it, now is, undoubtedly, an important factor in the encouragement of migration from this country to other parts of the Empire, it is even more important for the Government, if they are going to investigate this problem, to make up their minds whether or not migration on a large scale from this country to the Dominions overseas is desirable, and whether, if it is, it is going to receive the stimulus of Government support, financial or otherwise. My noble friend Lord Barnby referred to the Fairbridge Farm Schools. A scheme which was developed in New Zealand immediately after the last war was an even greater success than the Fairbridge Farm School has ever yet proved to be. It was called the Flock House scheme, and no one should know more about that than Lord Barnby. The Flock House scheme—I see no reason why it should not be an example for other schemes of a similar character—was established as a mark of gratitude, with the help of £4,000,000 or £5,000,000, if I remember rightly, on the part of the flockowners of New Zealand to the merchant seamen for the services which they performed in the interests of the woollen industry during the last war. Under that Flock House scheme, a most useful practical education was provided for the sons and daughters of those merchant seamen who had lost their lives on the high seas during the war.

I watched that scheme in operation, and I saw many young men trained there for work on New Zealand farms. They were given a most excellent practical training, as well as to a small extent a scientific training—and more importance is attached to science as applied to agriculture in New Zealand than has been the case hitherto in this country. Those boys, after receiving that instruction from thoroughly qualified sources, were passed on to farms as employees, but on the footing that at least half of what they earned—and wages in New Zealand are high—should be set aside as farming capital for them to use on their own holdings when their period of service was over. Before I left New Zealand, I saw a considerable number of those young men settled upon their own holdings, with the mortgage debt upon them partially paid off, and with every prospect of the whole of it being paid off before long, earning an extremely good living in the favourable conditions obtaining in that Dominion, although they went out from this country without a penny in their pockets and with no more than the prospect of a good agricultural education. If that could be done following the last war, cannot something of the same kind be done following this war, not only in New Zealand but in other favourable parts of the British Dominions overseas?


My Lords, in the years immediately preceding this war the subject which is before your Lordships to-day was debated on a number of occasions. In several of those debates I participated, and one of them at least I initiated. Those of us who take a deep interest in this subject were gravely disheartened by the lethargic and timid attitude assumed by His Majesty's Government at that time, and I am afraid that at least some members of the present Government must be suffering from a similar complaint, in view of what the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, has said about the (rightly, for his own safety) anonymous Minister who said that we might not be able to spare men to send overseas to the Empire after the war. Nothing is calculated to do greater harm to the whole question of inter-Imperial migration, or to do more, and with justification, to annoy the Dominions, than the suggestion that such migration should be dependent on, and should be considered by His Majesty's Government as dependent on, the ebb and flow of employment in this country. To suggest that nothing should be done merely because we may be able to find sufficient employment for all our own people at home, if indeed that happy state of affairs does come to pass, or that we may even have a surplus of work and too little labour in this country, and that, on the other hand, if unemployment prevails in this country the time would be very suitable for sending to our Dominions a large number of unemployed men, who would obviously in many cases be the less employable of our citizens, does not go a long way towards cementing good relations between this country and our kinsmen overseas.

It is essential, I think, that the population of the Dominions should be increased at the earliest possible moment, at least as much in their own interests as in ours. Reference has already been made in this debate to how very much better it would have been for the Allied cause had Canada and Australia in particular possessed greater resources in man-power, and therefore, of course, in industry, at the beginning of this war than was in fact the case. The noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, has stated that the population of New Zealand could very rapidly rise to 5,000,000, and later to 10,000,000. Those who are well acquainted with Canada, including that great exponent of migration who was known to many of your Lordships before the war, General Hornby, have assured me that it is vital that the population of Canada, now, I think, in the neighbourhood of 11,000,000, should be doubled at the earliest feasible moment, and should rise as soon as possible thereafter to a still larger figure. There can be little doubt that Australia also can take in without difficulty a considerable number of immigrants, although their number will probably in the years to come be very much greater than is practicable now or in the near future, because once enormous, and admittedly difficult, schemes of irrigation bring into profitable cultivation much land which at present is little better than desert, but which eventually will be of great use, immigration into Australia can be increased considerably.

In these circumstances, it must be apparent to all that the future of the whole Empire, its prosperity and its safety, must be very largely dependent upon the development of our Dominions as far as population is concerned, and to some extent on the development of certain of our Colonies. I use the word "Empire" and not "Commonwealth" advisedly, because "Commonwealth" when applied to the British Empire does not mean anything to me, or to many others; and, at least as far as this country is concerned, the word has now, unfortunately, somewhat unsavoury associations, owing to the emergence of an ephemeral and mushroom-like political Party. Let us therefore stick to the good old term "Empire," which is understood and, I believe, respected virtually by everyone.

It is very greatly to be hoped that His Majesty's Government do not regard this problem as one of those the consideration of which can be deferred until after the war. Everyone is agreed that the winning of the war must be the first consideration of us all, but at the same time there are many problems—the Government themselves have shown that this is so—in a variety of directions which will not bear deferment until after the war, at least as far as preliminary consideration is concerned. It is for that reason that I hope that not only will the Government be willing to investigate the possibly rather slender peg upon which the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, has hung a decidedly further-reaching and extremely interesting debate, but that they will also go to the extent of frank and full conversations with all our Dominions, and with suitable Colonies, on those measures which are necessary in the interests of the Empire as a whole to bring inter-Imperial migration into being again to the largest possible extent, and under the best possible conditions.

It is true, of course, that should there be any recurrence of those unfortunate incidents which, in more than one of our Dominions, cast a severe blot upon the whole idea of migration, the position will be very different, but, if sufficient consideration is given to the matter before there is any question of the resumption of migration, such misfortunes should not occur again. It is therefore particularly important that attention should be given to the question at the earliest possible date, and not only your Lordships but the whole Empire should be grateful to Lord Barnby for raising it here this afternoon.


My Lords, the debate in your Lordships' House this afternoon, as is not uncommon, has ranged rather wider than the Motion and has been expanded, principally by my noble friend Lord Bledisloe and afterwards by my noble friend Lord Mansfield, into a general discussion on the question of oversea settlement after the war. On this wider question, which, as I say, goes rather beyond the scope of the Motion, I would only say quite briefly this. I agree most warmly with everything that has fallen from the lips of Lord Bledisloe. I believe that Imperial oversea settlement and the interchange of populations between one part of the British, Commonwealth and the others is essential to the future happiness and prosperity, and even for the survival, of the British Empire. Whatever impression my noble friend may have gained from some words by an anonymous colleague of mine—and I was a little sorry that he used here in this House what must have been an unconsidered remark, which is liable I think to raise, both here and in other parts of the Empire, unfounded suspicions—I would like this afternoon definitely to assure him that it is the policy of His Majesty's Government to encourage migration for those who desire to go to the Dominions.

What the returning soldiers of our great Army will want when they come back nobody as yet knows. Having seen the world, and seen the world perhaps not under the most favourable conditions and circumstances, they may prefer to stay at home. On the other hand, they may recognize—I think a good many of them will recognize, especially those who have been round the Cape and up to the Middle East—that there are immense openings for them in the great Dominions overseas—the sort of openings which Lord Bledisloe described this afternoon in talking about New Zealand, of which he has an experience unrivalled in this House. Now if that is their view, if they feel the spirit of adventure and they want to try new openings, I can assure the House that His Majesty's Government will certainly put no hindrance in their way but, on the contrary, will give them every assistance. No doubt this is a matter which, as my noble friend Lord Mansfield said, must be given consideration in consultation with the Dominions. Sometimes I think there is a tendency in this country to talk about Empire migration as if it were merely a matter that concerns us—do we want them to go, or do we not want them to go? But there is also the question, do the Dominions want them or not? And until we have a common front on that matter migration is not going to make very great progress.

This wider question, to which I have referred very briefly, has of course a bearing on the most limited point which is raised in Lord Barnby's Motion. Lord Barnby, as he said this afternoon, is a member of the Oversea Settlement Board, and he therefore, of course, speaks with great authority on the subject of migration, to which he has given especial study. The point he raised in his Motion is clearly an extremely important one for the future of migration within the Empire. Obviously it must be a main aim of any Government in this country to give the working people of the United Kingdom the greatest possible measure of social security. And equally it is important, I should have thought, that any Government should seek to facilitate in any way possible the movement of workers from one part of the Commonwealth to another. For clearly the more links there are between us—not only closer links, but more numerous links—the better we shall all be, and the more coherent will be the future structure of the British Commonwealth.

This question of the relationship of social security to migration was, as I think Lord Barnby himself said, mentioned in paragraph 39 of the Beveridge Report. I should like to quote what Sir William said: There will, it may be hoped, come a season when it is profitable to consider the practical relations of social insurance in Britain and of schemes for the same purpose in the Dominions, in the Colonies and in other countries of the world. On the assumption that once again it will be possible for men to move from one country to another to find the best use for their powers, it will be desirable to consider the making of reciprocal arrangements between the schemes of different countries facilitating transfer from one to the other, that is to say, arrangements enabling men on migration to avoid forfeiting security and allowing them to carry with them some of the rights that they have acquired in their former country. That should, in due course, become a practical problem. It is not possible to-clay to do more than mention the problem to show that it has not been forgotten. I do not suppose there is anyone in this House who would disagree with those words of Sir William Beveridge.

I should have thought, in spite of some words spoken by my noble friend Lord Bledisloe, that the linking of social security with migration was an aim which must be to everybody eminently desirable. But admittedly—and I think I must say this—the transfer of contributions, which is the specific point made by Lord Barnby, does present very considerable difficulties, and it would be wrong for the House to ignore them. We here in the United Kingdom have a very advanced system of Social Services, and so have the Dominions overseas. But the bases of these schemes differ widely between the various Darts of the British Commonwealth. The United Kingdom schemes of social insurance and welfare are, in the fullest sense, insurance schemes, that is to say, they are on a contributory basis, with a definite statutory relationship between contribution and benefit. That is the basis of the Beveridge scheme, which is not merely concerned with pensions. I think Lord Barnby said he was not merely concerned with pensions. Nor was Sir William Beveridge, and it is true of the whole complex of British insurance schemes that they are genuine insurance schemes.

In the Dominions, the financial basis is quite different. It is non-contributory. The benefits are paid out of State funds. For instance, as my noble friend Lord Bledisloe himself well knows, in New Zealand, under their social security scheme—and it is an admirable social security scheme of its type; I am not criticizing it in any way—there is no definite relationship between contribution and benefit. The scheme is financed by a special Income Tax, and the benefits are subject to a means test. In the other Dominions too the pension schemes are non-contributory in character. In fact, they are on a completely different basis from the British scheme; and up to now the wide difference of principle which exists between these various schemes has precluded the formation of any general arrangement such as Lord Barnby had in mind for the transfer of contributions, made before migration between the United Kingdom and the Dominions.


If I might interrupt may I ask my noble friend will be consider the question of capitalization after transfer?


I am coming to that. What His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom have in the past been able to arrange is that a person who has been insured under a United Kingdom contributory pensions scheme, and who migrates to other parts of the Empire, can maintain his contributions to the United Kingdom scheme and eventually qualify for a United Kingdom pension as a voluntary contributor. That has been arranged. Moreover, if he is already in receipt of a pension before he migrates, arrangements can be made for him to continue this pension in that part of the Empire to which he migrates. These arrangements are in existence and in force now, and they are no mean contribution to the mobility of British workers. Clearly they are not the same as the comprehensive, completely interlocking schemes that Lord Barnby has in mind. I can assure the House that His Majesty's Government fully recognize the importance of trying to formulate a general comprehensive scheme something on the lines which Lord Barnby has suggested and which, as I understood him to say, was recommended by the latest Report of the Oversea Settlement Board. They are giving the matter their fullest attention in considering the question of pest-war Empire migration.

I cannot say more to-day. I can assure my noble friend that the question of capitalization and all the other possibilities will be borne in mind as will the main scheme he has put forward. But I would emphasize that the difficulties involved are formidable, involving, as they do, the basic principles of the various schemes both here and in the Dominions. These difficulties are not to be easily surmounted, and it would be quite wrong if we under-estimated them. We have to see whether it is possible to devise machinery to get over them. Machinery, after all, is only machinery, and difficulties of that kind are surely not insurmountable. We must just face our difficulties, and see if we can find a way through them. Lord Mansfield rather suggested that in all these matters there has been undue delay and timidity, and that that was the reason why more progress had not been made with all these schemes in the past. That is not so. With regard to this particular question of social security your Lordships are presumably aware that our own social security machinery is at present undergoing a considerable overhaul. At any rate I can assure the House that we intend to explore this question with the Dominions as soon as the conditions governing social security in this country make it possible for us to put forward definite suggestions. In this consideration, which obviously must take place as soon as possible, I am certain His Majesty's Government and the Ministers principally concerned will take full account of what has been said in this House to-day.

There remains one other point raised by Lord Barnby, and that is the question of training institutions, to which Lord Bledisloe also made reference. The value of institutions conducted on Fairbridge lines in connexion with migration is very fully appreciated by the Government. Indeed, it must be appreciated by anyone who has knowledge of these schemes. No doubt, the value of the Fairbridge institutions arises partly from the fact that the training takes place in the country of settlement, and therefore the young people grow up in the country in which they are going to live. That advantage is lacking in the proposal Lord Hamby has put forward. He, as I understand it, intends to train the children here and to take them out to the Dominions afterwards.


Purely as a war measure.


I can assure my noble friend the Government will give full consideration to that proposal along with the others which have been put forward. I do not think there is anything I can add. Clearly these matters are of great importance. If I may strike a personal note, I warmly welcome any discussion on the Empire in your Lordships' House. This is an assembly which is particularly well-fitted to deal with these very wide questions. Whenever they are discussed we have a useful, valuable, and educative debate. To-day's debate has been no exception to that general rule, and the Government and your Lordships' House owe a real debt of gratitude to Lord Barnby for raising this subject.


My Lords, I regret I was unavoidably detained and was not present when the debate was initiated. Reading the Motion as it stands, I was about to suggest, before the noble Viscount the Leader of the House made his observations, that the matter had already been considered. If the files of one of the Departments, at least, are closely examined it will be found that an effort—a very earnest effort—was made to deal with the problem. It is not at all a simple problem, for though on the face of it it looks very simple, in practice it has been found very difficult. For instance, in Canada—we raised the question officially and at one of the Imperial Conferences—old age pensions are paid partly by the Dominion Government and partly by the Provinces. At the present time the Dominion Government pay 75 per cent, and the Provinces 25 per cent. Obviously the payment of old age pensions depends on two factors, if not three. First, there is the number of years the applicant has resided in the Province or Dominion. That is the first qualification. The second is the amount that might be payable, which is a matter of political controversy. As to the first, settlers came to Canada at, we will say, thirty years of age and resided in Canada until they reached the age of sixty-five or seventy—not the requisite number of years to qualify them for old age pensions. Therefore they were not legal applicants for the pension in Canada, and they had given up their right to the pension here by reason of having removed from this country

As the files would disclose, the Government of the day were very sensible in their approach to the problem, but there was a distinctive difference because one was a voluntary system and the other was a real insurance scheme, contributions being made by the applicant. That was true with respect to other social security benefits that come to those who lived here and who, having left this country, could no longer make a claim on the Government here. Some progress was made, but if for a moment your Lordships would pause to consider, you can see how difficult the whole problem is for the reasons given by the noble Viscount who has just addressed the House and for other reasons as well. I am perfectly certain that the problem of migration was greatly affected by the considerations to which attention has been directed with respect to benefits of social security. I believe that proposals will be found for a wider application of a more general principle than that which did obtain with respect to matters to some extent solved by good will and agreement between the Governments of this country and the oversea Dominions.

I see no reason—it would be a matter for close agreement—why this country should not make reciprocal arrangements with the oversea Dominions with respect to the payment of these benefits. Under the Canadian Constitution it has been held that it is the function of the Provincial Legislatures to deal with these matters and that the contributions made by the Federal Parliament are contributions made to the Provinces for the work they are doing in connexion with old age pensions. In recent years, after the decision of the Courts that the Federal Parliament had no power to deal with the problem of unemployment insurance, the British North America Act was amended, and there is now a contributory scheme just as the noble Lord mentioned is the case in this country. It is an insurance scheme, and now the Government of this country will be able to deal with the Federal Government direct with respect to it. But I never thought that was a matter of such tremendous importance because unemployment would arise in Canada in any event, and the claim would be against the fund in Canada and this country would not be concerned about it.

With respect to the question of old age pensions, that does acutely arise because of difficulties in connexion with residence and the differing ages in different countries before a claim can be made. These difficulties would have to be overcome, and questions of exchange and many other questions of a rather formidable character would have to be met before the problem could be adequately solved. But I do welcome the opportunity that has been afforded by the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, to direct attention to the subject at this time, because I cannot but think that one of the very few problems that can to some extent be considered before the end of the war is the problem in regard to migration and with it the attendant problems in connexion with social security.


My Lords, it is natural that a debate on this subject in this House should be enriched by contributions from Lord Bennett and Lord Bledisloe. I expected a ready acceptance by my noble friend the Leader of the House of the propriety of this subject being discussed at this time, and I hasten to express my appreciation of the readiness with which he concurred in that. And further, I welcome his emphatic dissent from objections that the time was not ripe or appropriate for this matter to be considered. I appreciate very much the manner in which my noble friend received the suggestions I ventured to put forward. I think I can say without hesitation that the House will feel happy that, speaking with the authority he does, he has seen fit to give support to the principle that a movement of migration from one part of the Commonwealth to another is something that we hope to see achieved and that it is right that there should be formulated now a general interlocking scheme of transfer between the different units of the Empire.


If possible.


If possible, naturally. My words were intended to suggest that he was giving support to the exploration of that matter and I do not think he would dissent from my hopes of achieving the desired end if it should be found possible. I would remind the House that Lord Bennett, with his customary modesty, refrained from stating that it was he who put through in Canada farseeing and progressive legislation of a social security nature, which was then overridden but has now, as he has told us, come once again into practical application. I hope I may have the indulgence of the House if I emphasize what I said with regard to bringing about Empire consciousness in this country by means of education. That surely is a matter that may properly be referred to in a debate on the subject we are now discussing. Lord Rothermere reminded us that while three chairs of Imperial history exist at universities, there is no centre of study for the Empire of to-day or to-morrow. Prewar France, he stated, had a school of imperial studies, Holland had no fewer than twenty university chairs devoted to teaching concerning its oversea Empire, and even Belgium did more than Great Britain. What a reproach, he said, to the Mother Country of the world's greatest Empire!

May I urge once more that this question should be the subject of research in whatever form may be considered appropriate? My noble friend Lord Bledisloe urged the consideration of it in its widest aspects and I am glad to know that Lord Bennett supported the idea that this practical problem justifies examination. I hope such examination may be found possible in spite of the practical mechanical difficulties which my noble friend has emphasized. They are not the only difficulties that confront us in dealing with post-war problems and I urge the examination of this particular subject by means of research. With regard to training centres, as I see Lord Geddes in his place I cannot refrain from reminding the House that he pointed out how war experiences had proved that among the evacuees in our population there was no training of this kind. The sort of training which I visualize might be possible in these reception training centres purely as a war measure in order to take the youngest elements of the population and guide them into a sense of citizenship.

My noble friend Lord Mansfield referred to the movement of troops. The air training scheme is taking our people all over the Empire and bringing people from the Empire here; a great number of Canadians are married to British girls, and all these factors are contributing towards a wider consciousness of Empire migration. I am perfectly certain that the spirit of adventure which actuated as a motive force in peopling the Empire in the past still exists. I hope it may be possible within a few months for the noble Lord to tell us that some progress has been made along the lines I have indicated. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.