HL Deb 22 September 1943 vol 129 cc66-87

THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH had the following Notice on the Paper: To ask His Majesty's Government, whether it is possible to make any further statement regarding facilities for ex-Service men and women to settle overseas after the war; and whether the Oversea Settlement Board or some special ad hoc Committee on the lines of the Empire Settlement Committee, 1917, could be instructed to consider th e provision of authoritative information for inquiries; and to move for Papers.

The noble Earl said: My Lords, some four months ago, at the end of May, my noble friend Lord Barnby initiated a debate on the subject of oversea settlement, but as he limited his Motion to the sole, though very important, question of the transferability of social security contributions, I hope I require to make no apology for raising the subject again in a general way in your Lordships' House. Though the Motion was limited in the way I have explained by my noble friend, the Leader of the House in replying for the Government made some very important general observations on the whole subject, and as it is on those statements by my noble friend the Leader of the House that my questions are based, I should like, if I may, to remind your Lordships very briefly what it was that the Leader of the House said. He said that he "believed 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." My noble friend went on to say: It is the policy of His Majesty's Government to encourage migration for those who desire to go to the Dominions. He added that if returning soldiers "want to try new openings, His Majesty's Government will give them every assistance." He referred to the necessity of a "common front" between ourselves and the Dominions on this matter, and wound up his speech by warmly welcoming any discussion of this kind in your Lordships' House, which he described as peculiarly well fitted to deal with these very wide questions.

My noble friend's statement was, I think, particularly welcome, as I believe it was the first statement that has been made on behalf of His Majesty's Government since post-war problems have been considered. As some months have now passed since that statement was made I hope very much that the noble Duke (the Duke of Devonshire), who I believe is to reply on this Motion, will be able to give some further information—I hope even information of a detailed character—on general matters of policy with which the Leader of the House dealt on that occasion. As my noble friend himself specifically referred to the importance of a "common front" I cannot refrain from asking whether any progress has been made in this direction in the interval in consultation with His Majesty's Governments in the Dominions. But, apart from this question of the "common front," the points I wish to raise are limited to matters within the competence of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom alone. I wish to make it quite plain from the outset that my remarks are based on full recognition of the fact that whether or no settlers from any other parts of the Empire are admitted to Canada or any other Dominion is a matter resting entirely within the competence of His Majesty's Governments in those respective countries. In asking what facilities His Majesty's Government here are prepared to grant to those who may wish to settle overseas, I am assuming that such persons are suitable as settlers, and that there are Dominions prepared to receive and welcome them. It would be very unfortunate if there were any impression in any of the Dominions that any of us desired to see any but the most suitable settlers admitted to make his or her useful contribution to the progress of the proposed country of adoption.

As the war proceeds to what we all hope is a no longer distant victorious end, more and more people, inside Parliament and out, are busy discussing what is to be the shape of things to come afterwards, and incidentally, hazarding opinions as to what men and women now engaged in the Forces or on other national work will look for when they return to civil life and are confronted with the problems of the post-war world. After the last war, as your Lordships will remember, on various grounds which I suggest may very well recur, some of them desired not to return to their previous avocations here but to settle overseas. Indeed, I have been informed recently by more than one of the most important voluntary agencies that they are constantly receiving inquiries showing, as they tell me, that there is a great demand amongst Service men and women for information with regard to settling overseas when they are demobilized. Only two days ago I received a letter from an officer serving in the Mediterranean, enclosing a Press cutting of the statement made in the previous debate by my noble friend the Leader of the House, and in that letter the officer says: I can assure you that many of all ranks here are anxious to know something definite about the Government's policy in this matter. In view of the noble Viscount's statement that the Government will give assistance in these casts, I desire to ask the noble Duke whether any proposals are being considered now as to what that assistance should be.

In the last war the Empire Settlement Committee, appointed by the Minister concerned, had already made very detailed recommendations by the summer of 1917. I take it that we are fully entitled to hope that the end of this war is not further distant to-day than the end of the 1914–18 war was in the summer of 1917. That Committee which reported in 1917 had been asked amongst other things to collect the necessary information as to facilities that would be granted by the Dominion Governments and to advise how this information should be communicated to the troops. The Committee, I may add, consisted of members not only from the United Kingdom, but from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Rhodesia. It is really extraordinarily interesting to read this Report now, for much of it might have been written to-day. For example, the Committee considered that emigration should be looked at in the interest of the Empire as a whole, and that individual interests should be subordinated. They pointed out that there would be opposition to, the influx of immigrants on a scale that would disorganize local labour conditions.

It is interesting to read these remarks, made by a responsible Committee over twenty-five years ago, in the light of a speech made only a few months ago by an Imperial statesman, Dr. Evatt, the Australian Minister for External Affairs. I should like to quote a few words of that speech. Speaking here in this country, Dr. Evatt said that one of the great post-war problems that would face the British peoples was that of increasing the populations of the Dominions, including Australia. And, he went on: Remembering the great difficulties caused by our limited man-power, we look forward to welcoming Britishers among us. But we must understand clearly what we are aiming at, and we must plan migration schemes most carefully and scientifically. We do not want people from Britain to be forced to migrate by sheer economic necessity. We want the countries from which migrants come—and we especially want the people of Britain—to enjoy full employment. Equally, we in Australia are resolved that our people shall have full employment so far as that is humanly possible. Upon a common foundation of full employment, migration would be truly voluntary. That was, your Lordships will agree, a very important contribution from Australia.

If I may go back for a moment to the Committee of 1917, I should like to say, incidentally, that the Committee stated in their Report how much they were impressed by the work done by the voluntary agencies in making arrangements, for example, for wives and families to join their men in the Dominions, and they recommended that these voluntary agencies were best fitted for doing such work. I know from personal experience that these great voluntary organizations are equally ready and anxious to help again after this war, and I suggest to your Lordships that they can once more perform very valuable service. These societies believe that schemes on this occasion should not be confined to agricultural pursuits, but that consideration should be given to other industries, having regard to the present industrialization in Canada and in the other Dominions, which it is thought will have a marked effect upon any future population problem. These societies also urge that encouragement should be given to those who were trained under the Empire air training scheme to join, should they wish to do so, friends they have made overseas. I am told that many of them found sweethearts at these places, and are anxious to return to where they were trained to marry and to settle in the Dominion concerned.

There was another problem in the last war—that of the wives and fiancées of men in the overseas forces. We all know that that problem exists at least to the same extent in this war. I read a newspaper statement the other day—I do not vouch for the figure—that in one English county alone 5,000 Canadian officers and men have married English girls. Whatever the figure may be, we all, I am sure, welcome the cementing of ties between our two countries created by marriage between Canadian soldiers and girls in this country. But is it not desirable—and here I would again quote the 1917 Committee—that arrangements should be made for them to be sent out as soon as their new homes can be made ready for them? Here again, I suggest that some of the voluntary societies are specially suited for dealing with this kind of case.

In the last war arose the question of the proper time for the dissemination of information to ex-Servicemen and women who wished to go overseas. Here the Committee stated that the War Office and the Ministry of Labour were both of opinion that the proper time was after the cessation of hostilities and before the men were demobilized; such information to state the opportunities offered to ex-Servicemen in the various Dominions. Therefore, it was considered, during the last war, that the matter required to be considered and studied before hostilities ceased. Ought it not, then, to be taken up now? It was said in the previous debate that the Oversea Settlement Board is now in cold storage. Is there any reason why the Oversea Settlement Board, which has done such good work in the past, should not be revived? I know not. There may be such reasons, but if there are reasons for not reviving that Board I would like to suggest that a Committee similar to the one set up in the last war should now be appointed to collect and then to provide authoritative information to inquirers. I hope that His Majesty's Government will take this suggestion into sympathetic consideration and that the noble Duke may be able to give me some detailed information such as I have asked for on this very important matter. I beg to move for Papers.


My Lords, when I heard about this debate I immediately asked myself the question, what do the Dominions want? I feel that that is the crux of the whole matter and I am sure it is a consideration which must have been carefully considered by His Majesty's Government. In the past, as Lord Bessborough has said, it was rather assumed that a migrant from this country would be settled in agricultural pursuits. But with the very greatly changed conditions prevailing to-day that is by no means certainly the case, and it may be that what the Dominions want are electricians, fitters, coppersmiths, plumbers or riveters. There is no doubt that the problem is an even more complex one than it was after the last war. It means also that the individual selection of migrants is even more important now. I think that that individual selection can only be made by the voluntary organizations which take care that the right type of young man or young woman is selected and which give the personal touch throughout.

The Big Brother movement, on the committee of which I have the honour to serve, has brought that personal touch to a fine art. A very large percentage of the young men sent overseas have been boys with a secondary school education and some have had a public school education. The Big Brother movement also does another very important work—namely, looking after the migrant when he has reached the Dominions and keeping in personal touch with him. He is known as a little brother and each little brother has a big brother to look after him. The success of this scheme has been proved by the number of serving men from the Dominions who have called and seen our secretary at Australia House in London. I feel, as Lord Bessborough said, that this personal touch will be greatly helped by the friendships made among men in the Forces. There must have been many fine friendships made in the Middle East and, as Lord Bessborough said, under the air training scheme. Many of these friends will be only too glad to act as big brothers and to help these young men who go out to the Dominions after the war. Therefore I do hope we shall hear from His Majesty's Government that this subject is being given their earnest consideration and that contact will be made, if it has not already been made, with the Dominion Governments, without which of course nothing can be done.


My Lords, in the words of this Motion the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, has covered the matter so fully that there is realty no need of my supporting it, but I have received letters from so many voluntary organizations expressing the strength of feeling that prevails about this matter that I feel justified in taking part in this debate. Lord Bessborough referred to the fact that this matter was discussed in May on a Resolution moved by myself. On that occasion the Leader of the House was good enough to deal with the matter. He gave the assurance that the Government intended to explore the question energetically and also other assurances which my noble friend recounted in the early part of his remarks. It therefore might appear to be undue haste on my part if I were to ask now for more than the promise then made. Lord Bessborough has made a strong case for the early consideration of this matter and I hope it may be possible to go further to-day than the Leader of the House was able to go on the former occasion. An additional reason for saying that is this. After the Leader of the House spoke on 25th May, Lord Bennett made a contribution to the debate which was not answered. He pointed out that the situation as regards migration in Canada had changed in this respect, that the social security scheme which he and his progressive Government put forward and which subsequently was called into Question by an interpretation of the British North America Act, had since then become law. That made possible the bringing into operation of machinery which did not previously exist.

May I remind the House that when our last discussion took place I called attention particularly to the possibility of transferring accumulations of contribution under the various social security schemes? Lord Bessborough has put that matter very clearly to-day and has also approached the subject from a much wider angle. So well did he put the case that I am sure the House will have been impressed by the merits of my noble friend's scheme and will agree that what he has said justifies a further early indication from the Government of the result of their examination of this question. Those members of the House who heard Dr. Evatt and the Parliamentary Delegation from Australia and New Zealand will not require to be convinced of the great service which is being done by representatives from the Dominions in insisting upon the need for immigration to increase the population of the Dominions. Surely His Majesty's Government must take a prominent part in giving guidance as to how this can best be done.

Subsequent to our last discussion I approached the Dominions Office and met with that attentive and considerate attitude which one always finds there. I had the opportunity to discuss the point that I made particularly on the 25th May when the Leader of the House was good enough to say it was worthy of attention. That point was that there should be some system of training instituted now, if it were only an emergency measure, to train juveniles with a view to their migration, the idea being that there would be young members of "blitzed" families and young people orphaned in various ways who could be taken in hand and trained with a view to their increasing the population of the Dominions. I am bound to confess that I came away from the Dominions Office very much discouraged, not because of anything that was denied, but because of the fact that there seemed to exist in the Dominions Office an attitude of mind that was not forward looking enough to lead one to hope that the matter would be sympathetically approached. That interview was followed by some correspondence and I have here a letter the effect of which was to draw my attention to the Report of an Inter-Departmental Committee on migration policy published in 1934. The letter suggested that the war did not justify some new procedure and pointed out that in such and such paragraphs of this Report issued in 1934 such and such recommendations were made.

Even if thought in official channels is still bound by what was recommended in the circumstances existing in 1034 I hope your Lordships may feel justified in taking a somewhat more progressive line. Doubtless many of your Lordships have read that Report. I have taken the trouble to read it through again. I was impressed, as I think anyone reading it must be impressed, by the fact that the evidence received and the conclusions arrived at by that Committee were based upon the belief that primary production was the only field in which migrants were expected to be received. My noble friend Lord Gifford has just made very forcibly the point that modern conditions have changed the situation to the extent that secondary industry is now the more likely field in which migrants would be welcomed and useful. When I was in Australia at the height of the depression I found evidence that new arrivals were going into secondary industry and that expansion of primary production was mainly confined to old hands, residents in Australia who knew their way about and were likely to be received more readily by their neighbours when they went into the country to work. The financial side of the problem is one which perhaps limits the outlook of the Dominions Office. But surely these training centres which I have suggested, or the Fairbridge scheme or other schemes which the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, so properly eulogized when this matter was last debated, should receive contributions on a scale which would justify progress.

Reverting for a moment to the question of the mechanics of the social security services contribution, which is an essential precedent to anything being done as far as migrants from this country are concerned, may I put forward the thought inspired by one of the remarks of the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, that the demobilized soldier's credit might very properly be taken into consideration by the Committees who will advise on this matter? I have just returned from Southern Ireland and I think there is a problem to be dealt with there. Credits will be paid to very large numbers of men—I have heard the figure put variously at from 130,000 to 160,000— who have nationality registered in Southern Ireland and who are now serving in His Majesty's Forces. These men will receive demobilization grants. Is it not proper that that should be taken into account?

Whatever the view taken of these matters, I want emphatically to support the suggestion of my noble friend who introduced this Motion. On the other hand, I fully realize the Government view that it is difficult at this stage to give an indication of policy on migration when that policy must dovetail into the general question of reconstruction. I see three members of the Government present who are familiar and sympathetic with the question of migration. There is the noble Lord, Lord Croft, who has given long study and made most helpful contributions to the problem; there is the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, who with his long administrative experience has great familiarity with this problem, and there is the noble Duke who will reply to this debate on behalf of the Government. Your Lordships will remember his chairmanship of the Oversea Settlement Board. I most earnestly hope that the Government have put him in a position, or will soon put him or some other spokesman in a position, to give an encouraging reply to the eloquent appeal made by the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough.


My Lords, I think you will agree that although my noble friend and relative, the Leader of the House, recently gave a full statement of the Government's policy on migration, the House is under a debt to the noble Earl for raising this Motion. The subject is one of gigantic importance and we really cannot think too much about it. I can assure my noble friend at once that the Government fully realize the importance of the question raised by his Motion. I do not suppose he can find anyone—certainly no one in the ranks of the Government—who would dispute the value, in building up the strength and influence of the British Empire in the difficult days that must lie ahead, of the maximum possible movement of population from the United Kingdom to other parts of the British Commonwealth.

The Government also realize that one of the results of the war has been to stimulate the interest of the inhabitants of various countries in the Empire in other countries of the Empire and to increase the desire among the population of the United Kingdom to settle in other British Empire countries. War has many horrible and disastrous results but it also produces, I think, the beneficial result that many thousands of young men who normally would have grown up with a circumscribed outlook have seen vast tracts of the world's surface and their horizon has been almost infinitely enlarged. Nothing can be more certain than that before the end of the war the horizons of many of them will be still further enlarged. It is not for me to prophesy, but I suppose it is tolerably certain that many thousands of Service men and women—I was glad to see my noble friend included women in his Motion—will in all probability serve in Australia. As a result of that their future life may be profoundly modified.

The question raised by the Motion is whether the Government can give facilities for such a movement of population as I have assumed we are all agreed is desirable. So far as the United Kingdom is concerned the Government cannot altogether ignore the question of future population trends in this country. That was discussed in the Report of the Oversea Settlement Board in 1938, and has quite recently been debated in your Lordships' House. But I am in a position to say that, having regard to the desirability, from the general point of view, of encouraging free movement within the British Commonwealth of people wishing for greater opportunities for self-development, the Government support in principle the view expressed by the Oversea Settlement Board that no merely theoretical calculations as to the future consequences of such movements ought to stand in the way of the migration of individuals. I can give the noble Lord the assurance that the Government are definitely in favour of assisting migration within the Empire.

But it is necessary to bear in mind— I think my noble friend showed clearly that he realized it—that migration is not a matter which concerns only the Government of the migrant's own country. It is also very closely (and perhaps even more closely) the concern of the Government of the country to which he desires to emigrate. It is quite clearly for any country to decide on what terms persons from other countries are to enter and to settle in its territories. Moreover, no Government can be expected to encourage, and still less to assist, migration to another country, unless they are satisfied that conditions in that country are likely to be such that the migrant has a good prospect of establishing himself successfully there. The view which has been held by the Government of the United Kingdom, as embodied in the Report of the Oversea Settlement Board in 1938, is, therefore, that while they are ready to give whatever help is practicable, any policy of assisted migration requires not merely the passive acquiescence but the active participation and cooperation of the oversea country concerned. I do not know that I can go very much further at this moment on the general aspects of the problem.

The Motion refers only to the settlement of ex-Service men and women, and it is clearly necessary to concentrate on that aspect of the question which will arise immediately on the conclusion of hostilities, and will necessarily have to be dealt with in advance of the problem of post-war migration generally. Nevertheless, many of the considerations which apply to migration generally apply equally to this particular problem, and in particular the importance of securing that any action taken is acceptable to the Governments of the Dominions. They will themselves be faced at the end of the war with difficult questions arising from the demobilization of their own ex-Service men, and I think it is quite clear that this subject is one about which they will have to think very deeply before they can give us a definite reply.

The United Kingdom Government realizing the importance of early consideration of these problems have already taken up the matter with the Dominion Governments, but so far the latter have not formulated definite views and have not given us any definite reply. I think that we need not be surprised at that for we must bear in mind that all these Governments are very heavily occupied with the prosecution of the war, and that in three of the Dominions General Elections have taken place very recently or are just about to take place. It is therefore quite clear that the Dominion Governments cannot reasonably be expected to give an answer too speedily to the questions which we have put to them.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Duke for one moment? Does what he has just said apply to the general question of migration, or does it also include the specific question of departmental mechanics relating to the interchange between different countries of the Empire and the matter of the accumulated contributions?


My Lords, I am speaking of the whole question of migration in general. We believe that it is a subject of vast importance, and we have approached the Dominions Governments with a view to getting together. My noble friend the mover of the Motion referred to the importance of a "common front." We have approached the Dominions Governments with a view to making the question of oversee, migration one which we can tackle from the point of view of a "common front." My noble friend referred to the matter of a policy Committee. I think he will probably agree that that is hardly necessary because the Government's policy is formed. In 1917 they required their policy to be formed. Machinery was set up and the Government came to a certain decision. The policy of the Government being formed, we, therefore, require no assistance now in formulating a policy. At the present time we are in process of dealing with the mechanics of the matter, and although, as I have said, we have had no definite reply yet from any of the Dominions Governments which have been approached, there is no doubt that great interest is being taken in this question not only in the Dominions but also in this country. The United Kingdom Government hope that it will not be long before we have some more definite indication of the views of the Dominions Governments particularly on this question of the settlement of ex-Service men and women. I am sorry that I cannot make a more definite statement to-day, but I can give my noble friend the assurance that the Government will miss no opportunity which may present itself of discussing this matter with the Dominions Governments. In the circumstances, until we know what is the policy of the Dominions Governments, it is hardly possible to get down to the details of machinery whether in the form of a revival of the Oversea Settlement Board or of the setting up of a special Committee.

Clearly, if a policy of assisted migration, either general or limited to ex-Service personnel, is to be adopted, the provision of first-class authoritative information to inquirers on up-to-date conditions in any particular class of employment overseas must be most important. Such information must be equally important for unassisted migrants. That authoritative and up-to-date information can be secured, however, only through the use of the resources at the disposal of the oversea country concerned, and would be dependent on the policy of that country as regards the future trends of trade and as regards the reception of immigrants and so on. Without such co-operation, the bare provision of machinery by the United Kingdom Government would not facilitate the giving of such information to prospective migrants. I doubt whether the Oversea Settlement Board would be the best vehicle for conveying that information to prospective migrants. I fully agree that it is of the utmost importance that such information should be available for migrants, and I have every confidence, that the Government will, in conjunction with the Dominion Governments, see to it that it is available; but I do not think that the Oversea Settlement Board would be the best machinery for making such information available. it is a Board of highly qualified persons, set up to advise the Government on policy, and could hardly adopt as one of its functions the very necessary one of providing information to individual migrants. I believe that that can best be done by the combination which existed before of the voluntary socicties—and I would pay one more tribute to the invaluable work which they have done—and of the Dominion Governments themselves.

I can, however, give the noble Earl this definite assurance, that as soon as any conclusion has been reached, in conjunction with the Dominion Governments and as the result of the necessary consultation with those Governments, as to the policy on migration generally, the United Kingdom Government will forthwith consider the best form of organization for giving effect to that policy. I hope that my noble friend does not think that I have been too indefinite. I have tried to give him as definite an answer as I can. He began by asking whether any further statement regarding facilities can be made. To my regret, I cannot go very much further than my noble relative went four months ago. He was able to assure the House then that the Dominion Governments would be consulted, and I can give the assurance that they have been consulted. On the question of policy, I can give him the definite assurance that the Government believe migration to be a sound policy, and it is their intention to do everything in their power to help to facilitate it.


My Lords, I had not intended to participate in the debate, but, in view of the observations which have been made by the noble Duke, I should like to express my very deep approval of two things which are quite apparent, and which reaffirm what was said by the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, some months ago. The first is that His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom will assist migration. There is a general view in many parts of the King's Dominions that this country would be very much better off if a large number of its people made their home in another part of the world; in other words, there are too many people in this country. That view prevails very largely in many parts of the world. The statistician has been able to show—or he thinks that he has—that it is a very dangerous thing for people to leave this country in large numbers, that we are now on the down-grade, and that our population will not be more than twenty millions within a reasonable time. The noble Duke has dealt with this point, however, by reaffirming that there will be assisted migration; that is, that there will be a reservoir from which people may be moved to some other part of the world with the assistance of the Government.

That covers permission by the Government of this country to its citizens to leave it; but then comes the more important question, from the point of view of the settler himself—namely, whether he will receive permission to enter the country to which he desires to go. That involves Governmental understanding, or at least' agreements and arrangements between the Governments of the two countries, the one permitting the migrants to leave and the other permitting them to settle. I have had some little experience in connexion with that matter. During the period of the great depression, when it was at its worst, settlers who came to Canada from this country were asking us to make an order for their deportation, because they said that they had certain social advantages and benefits in this country which were not available for them in Canada. We now have in Australia, however, as in the other Dominions of His Majesty, including Canada, an Unemployment Insurance Act and some general scheme of social legislation, and this means that' there should be an arrangement between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of Canada and the Government of Australia with regard to matters of that kind. That is regarded by the people concerned as being of very great importance.

In the next place, it is important that there should be "selected" migration. I use that word with great deliberation. In a very few cases—I am happy to say very few—settlers were sent to the Dominions who were wholly unsuited to take up life in a new country, and some of them were not desirable in any event. That is bound to happen, of course. Sometimes great emphasis was laid on it —improperly, in my judgment—because there was a disposition to get rid of an unsavoury character and, if he went to Canada or Australia, he was a long way away and caused no more trouble here. Happily, as I have said, those cases were very few. I suggest to the noble Duke that when he is dealing with this matter it is important to ascertain, in the various communities of this Kingdom, who desire to leave it and for what purpose. That can be done very readily in this country. They should be asked whether they desire to go to Australia, to New Zealand or to Canada, and whether they desire to follow agricultural activities or to be employed in industrial life. In the last war it was part of my duty in the office which I then held, to send a card to every one of our troops. These cards were distributed to every single man, and he was asked whether or not he desired to take up agricultural pursuits when he came back from the war, and what capital he might have. The response enabled us to have a very clear conception of what might be done in the way of land settlement by these men when they came back from the war. This country lends itself so easily to obtaining information that in the first: instance it would be easy to ascertain who wanted to leave Britain, where they wished to go to, and what they desired to do when they went there.

It is quite true, as has been said, that a great many people think that it is only agricultural pursuits in which the receiving countries are interested. That has been true to a large extent in the past, but, as the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, has said, conditions have changed with regard to secondary industries. In Australia and in Canada, for example, these have attained very formidable proportions for countries with such small populations— there are fewer than twelve million people in the whole of Canada—and it is quite clear that, if these countries are to continue to be successful in their effort at nation-building, they must have more people. In Canada, for instance, we have facilities for a population of at least twenty-five millions, and in Australia much the same state of affairs prevails, although perhaps the figure would not be quite so high, having regard to the conditions in the centre of that great Continent. It is quite clear, however, that the envious eyes of others are looking upon these countries as countries which are unsettled and in the development of which we are not discharging our full duty. That is one of the problems which we must consider.

The matter can be settled only by an Imperial Conference. It has been the subject-matter of discussion at Imperial Conferences, and it will continue to be; but, inasmuch as it is certain that there must be an Imperial Conference within a reasonable time, if it is not settled before it will certainly be necessary to settle then what is the attitude of the receiving countries towards this country as the reservoir that provides the settlers. I suggest to the noble Duke that, having ascertained the names of those who desire to take up their homes in new countries, it is of the utmost importance that there should be a planned settlement. It is no use merely dumping people at the port and leaving them there. There must be a very clear arrangement made by which supervision is exercised as they go on farms for a period of at least two or three years. It is quite evident from what is said by those who have come that they are very lonesome in a new country, and if possible something should be done towards making a community settlement of those who come from the same locality. Thus the people who come from one shire might settle in a particular section of the country where there are vacant lands.

Then there is another class which does not come within the category that I have mentioned—those who have some capital and growing families for which they desire to provide, believing that opportunities are greater in a new country than they would be here in England. I have pointed out on more than one occasion that in the old Provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and in Ontario to a very considerable extent, there are abandoned farms, most excellent farms, but abandoned because the young men went west or, in the lower part of the Provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, they went to the United States. Places are available now, and there are first-rate educational facilities in these Provinces, including universities. Their children could grow up, obtain an excellent education and understand the conditions of life in the new country, whether it be Canada or Australia—although there are not the abandoned farms in Australia that you will find in Canada, for reasons that are apparent. These people with some small capital could make their home, having about them the facilities I have mentioned, and they could give their boys and girls an adequate education. They would then fit into the life of the country and make for themselves a place in the life of the nation.

I think that is a matter that can only be studied by the voluntary organizations, but—and I say this with very great deliberation—there must be the most careful planning with respect to these matters. I have seen great hardships come upon people who have settled, both in Canada and in Australia, and I have seen very great difficulties arise through their having gone there under what they conceived to be misrepresentation, or misunderstanding at least, with respect to what their future would be. And no words that I can add to what has been said by the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, will strengthen what he has so fittingly said—namely, that we do require these British settlers in these oversea Dominions. We require them for many reasons—I will not take up time by reviewing those reasons now—and unless we do get them I feel that there is a very difficult time ahead for these Dominions. The ability to care for themselves of some of the people who have gone from this country and succeeded is very marked. Every now and then, if you take the trouble to ask a man where he came from, you will be told that he came from one of the English counties. He may be in industry or on the railway. Frequently it is a man who has made a great success of his farming operations, who went into the western part of Canada and settled on a homestead, where he would get a free gift of 160 acres of land if he had resided upon it and cultivated portions of it for three years. You will find them everywhere.

But those days are not these days. Great changes have taken place, the homestead lands have been taken up. There are vacant lands still near railways. One of the difficulties that these Dominions have to meet is due to the fact of the lands near the railways being held by private individuals or corporations for speculative purposes. The Governments of the countries concerned must deal with that phase of it, in order that land may be available for settlement, because it is impossible for settlement to take place remote from centres of population, involving the provision of new transportation facilities in countries already more than well provided with such facilities. That is true of Canada and of some parts of Australia. It is less true perhaps of New Zealand, but the day of large holdings in those countries is past. That is quite apparent from what we see is going on, and with the breaking up of these large ranches and holdings there is a greater opportunity for reasonable, planned settlement of settlers from this island, who will make their home there and whose children will exercise a profound influence on these Dominions, Canada and Australia. There is this to be said about Australia and New Zealand, they are very much farther away than Canada, and once settlers get there it is not easy to get back. But in Canada, owing to the social services of this country, there was an urgent demand from many of them to come back, and as a matter of fact they did come back, sometimes asking to be deported. Certainly the noble Earl, Lord Bess-borough, will tell you that, because he was an Englishman and Governor-General, he was receiving letters from time to time from British settlers complaining of the conditions in which they found themselves at that time.

If we are to maintain the ascendancy of the British spirit—I put it on that basis: not British, but the British spirit —in this British Empire, let us try scientifically and with great care to settle in these far-off Dominions men and women who have not only a love of Empire and of British institutions and traditions, but who also are determined to remain there, that their children may be able to benefit from what, after all, was secured for them by the sacrifice of the blood and treasure of the people of this Kingdom. I for one am never unmindful of the fact that the great Crown lands of Canada, the great mines, the riches of forest and stream, were given to us by the free act of the people of this island and of the Crown, to which they belonged, without compensation—a gift without price. You will perhaps recall that Lord Durham said that one of the three things that could not be dealt with by the new Colony was the Crown lands, that they must be dealt with from here because they were the property of the Crown. And yet you handed them over to Canada. You have never received a brass farthing for them, and they cost you much treasure and many lives. I think if that thought could be kept in the mind of all our people, both at home and in the Dominions, it would have a profound effect. I remember recalling it in Australia to a group of people there, who said they had never thought of it in just that way.

I like to think that these boys who leave this country and make their home in Canada or Australia are going to a land in. which they have some interest, even as I and others who are citizens of the British Empire feel that we have an equal interest in the great traditions; and the ancient buildings and monuments and achievements of the people of this island. And I do think that if we do it scientifically and plan it carefully we may be able to achieve success. There is a long record of mistakes and failures in the past and surely from those mistakes and failures we can derive great profit. That is one of the real benefits of experience in connexion with settlement. I do not intend to trespass further on your Lordships' time, but in view of what was said as to the settlement policy of the Government I desire to direct attention to the necessity of that policy being worked out with most careful planning so that the mistakes of the past will not recur.


My Lords, it was not my intention to intervene in this debate, but I should like to remind your Lordships of the part that could be played to a small extent—a smaller extent, perhaps, than the Dominions—by the territories administered by the Colonial Office. I think they could help, and though their contribution would not be so great, possibly, as that of the Dominions, nevertheless it would not be negligible. Possibly with the assistance of development by the Government, they could play an even larger part in this question of migration. I hope that the Government will bear that in mind, especially in connexion with territories administered by the Colonial Office. In their case other Governments have not to be consulted, and there is no necessity therefore for spending time in that way. I would like to suggest that some scheme of Colonial migration should be considered by the Government now, quite apart from any-schemes relating to the Dominions.


My Lords, I desire to thank the noble Duke for the sympathetic nature of his reply. We all know my noble friend's deep and sympathetic interest in the whole of this most important problem, and we feel that he also expressed the very full sympathy of His Majesty's Government as a whole I am sure the House will welcome his statement, which goes further than that made on the last occasion by the Leader of the House. The Leader of the House stated that a common front was necessary, and to-day we heard that the Government are now endeavouring to build that common front in consultation with the Dominions. I can only hope that the result of these consultations, having regard to the position we have reached in the war, will not be unduly delayed. I gathered that the noble Duke does not favour my suggestions either for the revival of the Oversea Settlement Board or for a Committee on the lines of the Empire Settlement Committee; but in view of the fact that he says that as soon as information is available machinery will be set up, I can only express satisfaction with that undertaking and ask permission to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.