HL Deb 17 April 1947 vol 146 cc1054-83

4.6 p.m.

Lord TWEEDSMUIR rose to ask His Majesty's Government whether they can make any statement of policy on the question of emigration from Great Britain to the countries of the British Commonwealth; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Motion that stands in my name has been on the Paper for some time past. Since I first put it down, His Majesty's Ministers in another place have made various statements of policy, to the effect that His Majesty's Government are prepared to encourage emigration from this country to the Commonwealth countries in spite of the somewhat discouraging state of affairs in which we find ourselves. That was the policy of the Coalition Government, and one with which I think the great majority of your Lordships will find yourselves in agreement. This is not a Party matter at all. It affects in the most significant way, as I believe, the future of the whole British Commonwealth. It is a matter which not only transcends Party; it is, to reverse a famous dictum, a calling in of the Old World to redress the balance of the New.

The economic sellers' market of to-day may well be coming to an end, but there is one article which seems to be in just as steady demand as it ever has been, and that is the demand for settlers of British stock. I do not think we shall lose that sellers market so long as we stick to our historic standards, by which quality is the only measure of value and quantity is a mere measure of volume. The whole question of emigration is one of those things that can be very easily over-simplified. I have known many people who, with the help of a map and one or two theories, can leap into the grossest of over-simplifications. The other day I heard somebody say of a certain country that all it needed was a better water supply and a better type of settler. That, after all, is all they need in the infernal regions!

It may seem a rather doubtful step at this time to encourage a great exodus of population from this country, when one of our chief difficulties is the shortage of trained manpower. To my mind that is to look at this whole matter in an entirely wrong light; it is to look at the matter as though it affected ourselves, and ourselves alone. In the first instance it is a matter of concern for the Commonwealth Governments, and when they have made known their wishes and the wishes of their people, as in most cases they have, it is then the responsibility of His Majesty's Government to decide whether we are. to be a willing seller to these willing buyers. It is only natural that they should want the best we have; it is only natural that they should want our skilled artisans and our skilled professional men. Of course, to let these people go is something of a sacrifice, for every child that grows up in this country represents a certain investment of the country's capital in public and social services—an investment which the child begins to repay when he reaches working age. If, when he reaches that age, he leaves this country, then he takes with him a fraction of our national wealth. There is, again, the consideration that m any country it is more or less true to say that those who are not of working age—those who have not reached it or those who have passed it—are in great measure supported by those who are producing. If, therefore, there is a great exodus of our producers, more and more people who arc not of working age will begin to be supported by fewer and fewer who are.

Apart from our skilled artisans and our skilled professional men, I understand that the majority of the Commonwealth countries have expressed themselves in general terms as willing to take child emigrants. The state of affairs that was revealed by the Curtis Report shows how many there are in this country who have not much in life to which they can look forward in it. To sum up, if the Commonwealth do want our best, it is only natural; and it would create an exceedingly poor impression if we were to say that we were not prepared to release our best, but only our second, or perhaps our third best. It is idle to deny that such an exodus is something of a sacrifice to us, but the sacrifice is by no means one-sided. Every one of the Commonwealth countries is making sacrifices at this moment to help this country, either by loans or princely gifts, or by rationing themselves and making themselves short of something that they badly need in order that we may have it.

Perhaps I may sketch very briefly the history of emigration in this century. The year before the First World War was the high-tide mark. A century of peace was just coming to an end, although many people did not realize it. The world seemed full of glittering prizes, and there were bright swords in plenty to seek them. In that year 223,000 people left this country for the Dominions. Then came the First World War. The year 1920 was the flood mark between the wars; 134,000 people left our shores. But that flow began to dwindle, and between 1925 and 1929 the flood was down to 80,000 per year. In the meantime, in 1922, the Empire Settlement Act had been passed and £3,000,000 a year was to be devoted to assisted emigration on the basis of pound for pound between His Majesty's Government and the Governments of the Dominions. That Act was modified later on, and it went into abeyance in the year 1931. When the 1930's came in, the depression proceeded to fasten itself not only on this country, but on every country of the Commonwealth. An ebb tide set in. In the year 1931, 26,000 people came from Commonwealth countries to settle in Britain. The next year was the high mark of the ebb tide mark; the figure was 33,000. By 1936, when things were beginning to improve again, it had fallen to only 13,000.

That had its effect in many ways. When the war started in 1939, more than one-quarter of the Royal Air Force was Canadian, and every Commonwealth country was represented in that same Force. During the grave period of depression the Commonwealth countries narrowed their entry to British settlers. Their own labour markets were depressed and flooded by applicants; and they did not wish to add to them. To say that between the wars emigration was a failure is not true. It is perfectly true to say that among the vast numbers who went, there were quite a number of failures; quite a number of the people failed to make good. They left this country without the slightest idea of what the country of their adoption was like, and without the slightest idea of whether or not they had the qualifications to succeed in it. There was no reason why that should have happened, and there is no reason for it ever happening again.

Times have changed once more, and in a war of movement thousands of our Forces have travelled the world. They have seen that the world is a wider place than they had ever dreamed. It is not surprising that their thoughts turn to the Commonwealth, where they feel they would get that wider world, in an atmosphere of the institutions to which they are used, and among people who speak their own tongue. Commonwealth countries represent seventy-seven times the size of Britain, but have a population little more than twice that of Greater London. They have felt the effects of two wars just as bitterly as we have. The convulsions of 1914 and 1939 have shown them that vast countries with tiny populations are chilly places to be in when the world is at war.

Then there is the economic side. In the main, their economy is keyed on the produce of the soil, in spite of the fact that they have very large urban populations. If your economy is so keyed, you are not only the sport of price fluctuations of every country, but also the prey of great cataclysms of nature. The drought of the 1930's caused havoc on the Canadian prairies; the drought of 1944 and 1945 cut the Australian wheat crop to one-third and killed no fewer than 11,000,000 sheep. It is not s surprising that they now seek to diversify their economy. For an expanding home market they must have an expanding population. They possess services of Government, as well as ports, docks and railways, capable of catering for far larger populations whose presence would have the effect of easing the burden of their maintenance and spreading taxation somewhat more thinly. When man becomes a migratory animal no artificial barriers will hold him back. An ebb-tide has set in in this country. I will not go into figures, but I think no one will disagree with me when I say that the offices of the shipping companies and the Dominion High Commissioners have been virtually besieged during the last few months by would-be emigrants. There is nothing that I know of to prevent the settler who is prepared to pay his way, and put down as security a deposit in the country of his adoption, from emigrating immediately.

All the Commonwealth countries, I understand, have expressed themselves in general terms as being prepared to take emigrants of British stock. There is in force between His Majesty's Government and the Government of Australia a scheme for assisting emigration, which falls into two parts. The first part is for ex-Service men and women, and the second scheme is for those who are not ex-Service. I would therefore ask the noble Viscount who is to reply to this Motion the first of the questions of which I have given notice. Can the noble Viscount inform us as to the stage which negotiations have reached with Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Southern Rhodesia under this head, and what arrangements for assisting emigration have been reached, or are under discussion, between His Majesty's Government and the Governments of these countries? There are two further questions, which are really riders to the first. Are intending emigrants, either assisted or unassisted, to be limited in the amount of money they may take with them to the country of their adoption? Secondly, can the noble Viscount tell us whether the provisions of the National Service Bill, now before another place, will be applied to those who would normally come within its provisions, but who wish to emigrate immediately?

There is another question of which unfortunately I did not have an opportunity of giving notice, although I would greatly appreciate an answer if the noble Viscount can give me one. Is it proposed to resume the grants-in-aid to the voluntary societies which deal with Empire settlement? I may seem to have treated the position of this country with regard to emigration rather too lightly. There is no doubt that an exodus at this moment would be extremely embarrassing to our country. After all, emigration ideally proceeds from the surplus of a prosperous country, and not from the insufficiency of a highly embarrassed one. There are those who maintain that 5f necessary we can patch up our economy for a long period by the work of Italians or Germans. I cannot see that replacing those who fought for us by those who fought against us can be any real answer. This human tide of emigration flows; it occasionally has an ebb but never a corresponding inflow, and the void which will remain in this country can be filled only from one quarter. by a policy, one might say, of circulation of peoples.

Emigrants are not coin or chattels. No emigration or re-settlement scheme can rest alone on a cold economic basis. It must have a solid humanitarian foundation, and I believe that we must redress the balance of our population from those now in distressing circumstances in the refugee camps in the British Zone of Germany. At the end of the seventeenth century we took in the Huguenots fleeing from persecution in France. At that time they were a race more disliked and distrusted by the people of these islands than any in Europe. They eventually achieved a numerical ratio of one to seventy of our then population. We have never lost by it. Nor did we lose by bringing in the Flemish weavers. The countries of the Commonwealth have ever been a refuge for those who, through honourable reasons, ware exiles from their own countries. It is one of the distressing results of war that we find it easier to bear the sufferings of others with greater fortitude. In those refugee camps there are thousands and thousands of the most skilled, in the trades and professions, of the population of Europe. No country will help them unless we give a lead. A certain small number have already been accepted in this country. What of the rest? Are they to rot there without hope at all? I know the difficulties of bringing them in are great, 'but they are not insurmountable. France has already recruited nigh on 1,000,000 foreign labourers. Food is short and houses are short in this country, but life here for those people would be paradise compared with their present condition. We cannot absorb them all, but we can show the way.

As a nation we are still looked to for leadership—the leadership of example and the leadership of ideas. If we face this problem boldly, and bring in people in substantial numbers on one basis of selection only—the likelihood of their becoming good citizens—I believe that one day they may be counted as a source of great strength to us. If we take that step and give that leadership and make a success of it, I am convinced that other countries will follow our example, both those outside and those within the Commonwealth. We have made great sacrifices in the last few years, in going to help free men in misfortune. It would be a great pity if we were to leave that work half done. I would like to ask the noble Viscount one last question under this head. What consideration have the Government given, and what plans are they now making, to give a lead to other nations of the world by receiving in substantial numbers suitable displaced persons from the British Zone of Germany to work in this country?

So much for immigration. As it stands it is a matter for discussion between His Majesty's Government and the Governments of the Commonwealth. I would like to raise one last point, and that is on the resettlement of population within the Colonial Empire. There are certain parts of our colonial dependencies where the density of population has risen to such heights that it is becoming increasingly difficult for a man and his family to reach an adequate standard of livelihood. I would like to ask His Majesty's Government the question of which I have given notice. Has consideration been given to this question of inter-colonial migration? I instance in this respect Malta, Mauritius, the islands of the West Indies and certain districts of West Africa. This is, of course, one of those cases where it is only too easy to make an over-simplification by looking at the empty parts of the map and asking: "Why don't you put them there?" This is a problem that will not cease to be a problem because we happen to turn our backs on it. It might be that the Government of Southern Rhodesia would be prepared to take a substantial number from Malta to help in the tobacco growing industries; and whereas the West Indies' two islands are grossly over-populated, there are great stretches of suitable territory which might be used in British Guiana and British Honduras.

If I read the policy of His Majesty's Government aright and they are prepared to encourage emigration on broad Imperial grounds at what appears to be a somewhat discouraging time, I think they are absolutely right. They are taking a long and correct view which was also the view of their predecessors in office. Now is the time for greatness, and in dwelling on the question of arrangements with sovereign Governments I make no apology for bringing in this matter of overcrowding in the colonial dependencies because that is our own affair. It is a state of affairs that will not get better by being disregarded.

I beg to move for Papers.

4.26 p.m.


My Lords, I hope your Lordships will excuse my intervening thus early in the discussion, but I thought I might be able to acid to our deliberations same material which would be useful to subsequent speakers. I should like to say in the first place how much I appreciate the matter and temper of the noble Lord's speech. He raised this great issue in an entirely worthy fashion. I do not think he has ventured on any consideration at all which has not been present in our minds during the last few months and which has not been in fact very carefully examined. I should like to say, in the first instance, that we have had and are having discussions with representatives of the Dominions, with the utmost good will on both parts, with a view to seeing the other side of the difficulties and trying to work out a practical scheme. The noble Lord mentioned some of the considerations and I will mention two or three others which we have to bear in mind, and afterwards I will tell your Lordships what has been done so far and what we are now doing.

As he said truly, we cannot lose sight of our own manpower position, and we know how grave that is. Nor can we afford to lose the pick of our skilled artisans in large numbers; we are bound to take into account our own grave situation. At the same time, we have to have longer views as well, and it is a matter of balance between the two as to what can be done in the immediate future. We are entirely sympathetic to the obvious necessity to increase, so far as is humanly possible, British stock in the Dominions and other parts of the Commonwealth. That, in the long view, is clearly a policy to be encouraged. Whilst we cannot turn our backs or blind ourselves to our own immediate necessities, I would like to assure the noble Lord that every Department of the Government that has participated in these discussions has been fully alive to the necessity of doing whatever can be done, within limitations to which I will refer directly, to meet this necessity of the overseas Dominions.

I know that he is correct when he says that the High Commissioners' offices in London have on their books great numbers of applications, and some are from persons of very high quality indeed. It might be that if you were to examine them you would find some names on more than one list. This may have helped to swell the numbers a little more than we previously anticipated. But, when you have allowed for that, there is a long list of suitable applicants for emigration to each territory of the British Commonwealth. That is unquestionable. At the same time we are all fully aware—and when I say "we" I mean riot only ourselves but also those of the Commonwealth countries which have discussed these matters with us—of the necessity of avoiding mistakes which occurred in times past. Neither we nor they wish to precipitate overseas men and women who have little knowledge of, or in some cases, perhaps, little aptitude for, the life of the country to which they are proposing to go. Further, neither we nor they wish to encourage large-scale emigration to places which are not able, conveniently, to receive the would-be immigrants. Everywhere—for it seems that this is the case practically, all over the world—there is a housing problem to be considered, and that, of course, has to be taken into account.

There is another limitation not to our desires but to what we can practically do; and it is a limitation of a very grave character. I refer to the shipping situation. In this connexion, we have to face the fact that something like 40 per cent., I believe, of our pre-war shipping is at the bottom of the sea, and the demands for embarkation all over the world are very urgent indeed. Moreover, we are not by any means, as yet, clear of the 'post-war resettlement movement. In fact, there are very large numbers of people all over the world still waiting to get back to their homes. In some cases they are waiting here to get back to their homes in Commonwealth countries, and in other cases they are waiting in Commonwealth countries to get back to their homes here. I am sorry to say that every High Commissioner's office, and certainly my own Department, can show large budgets of quite poignant stories relating to people who have been waiting for a long time to get passages. We have to take that seriously into account before we can give preference to others. The pressure on shipping is very great indeed.

I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, is fully aware of the necessity for dealing with emigration in a prac- tical fashion, both at the overseas end and at this end, and I will cite as examples machinery that has been set up between ourselves and the Commonwealth of Australia—machinery that is now, shall we say, in working order, and other arrangements that will very soon be in working order. But before I come to them I think I ought to remind the House of a rather large-scale emigration to which the noble Lord did not refer, and which has already taken place. We have, for example, sent to Canada 39,000 young British women and 19,000 children. They have already gone. That is emigration on a very large scale, for it means that no fewer than 58,000 souls in the aggregate have already gone to Canada. Again, 3,350 British wives and 1,100 children have gone to Australia. To New Zealand 2,600 British wives have gone—at the moment I have not particulars as to the number of children who accompanied them. That, too, is a very large migration and I emphasize that it has already taken place.

Having seen something of this at first hand, notably in the case of Canada, I should like to pay tribute to the care which has been taken to look after those young women and their children both on their journey and on arrival overseas. As I say, I have first-hand knowledge with regard to Canada, but I have no doubt this applies also to the other countries concerned. The women and their children were looked after almost like babies in arms on the ships, and when they arrived on the other side they were met, individually, by one or two soldiers who were detailed specially for the purpose. I remember seeing one young woman who, with her two children, crossed the Atlantic on the "Aquitania." She was going to be taken by a couple of Tommies as far as Saskatchewan. She seemed to think that she was going to be rather bored before she got to her destination because the journey from the port is a very long one. These emigrants were all met at the ports, and taken off the ships, and all arrangements were made for their journeys to their destinations and for their reception when they got there. It was a fine piece of organization. And may I remind your Lordships that in the case of Canada that applies to 58,000 British emigrants. That is a very substantial contribution and it should not be over-looked.

Now let me cite as a further example arrangements which have already been worked out and are now in operation with regard to Australia. This is the first scheme to be worked out in detail. The arrangements are that the applicants are dealt with by a combined body representing the Australian Government and the Ministry of Labour, and they are finally classified as what are described as "approved emigrants." The Australian Government, in concert with ourselves, have made arrangements to ensure continuation of the social benefits that belong to them in this country. That means that they will receive not less good benefits when they get out there than they would receive if they remained here. The whole of the arrangements have been worked out in an exceedingly practical fashion in all details relating to such matters as the destination of the emigrants, housing and chances of work in the Commonwealth countries. With regard to the chances of work, as a matter of fact, at the present time, the demand for labour is much greater than the supply.

Then we come to the question of how many emigrants we can deal with. The noble Lord, knowing what he does, will recognize that the numbers we can deal with this year are very many fewer than the numbers of applicants. We have arranged, in concert with the Australian Government, that three troopships, the "Ranchi," the "Chitral" and the "Ormonde," will be devoted entirely to this service. These vessels require some re-equipment, but they will be made available almost immediately and will be employed—for the next whole year, at any rate—entirely on this service. I am not quite sure how many emigrants we shall be able to move in this way in the first year because a good deal of time must necessarily be taken up in refitting the ships and getting them ready. The numbers dealt with this year by this service will probably be in the neighbourhood of 6,000 to 6,900, or something like that. The numbers will, however, be more than doubled next year.

A practical programme is being worked out, and, as the noble Lord has indicated, there is a scheme based on a two-sided agreement whereby the ex-Serviceman will have his passage paid by the United Kingdom Government. That applies to former members of the United Kingdom Forces. In the case of other persons, the two Governments share the cost of the passage less £10 which the emigrant himself provides. In the case of New Zealand, arrangements are not so far forward as in the case of Australia. We are, however, at the present time discussing a similar scheme with the New Zealand authorities and also with the authorities of Southern Rhodesia. They are offering somewhat similar terms, and the general basis of the Australian working arrangements has been accepted. We are going into the matter con amore with those two Governments, and already the discussions are well advanced.

The South African Government have decided not to adopt the same method. They do not make any contribution towards the emigrants' fares, but, nevertheless, there is no lack of applications by people who wish to go to South Africa, and the South African Government, with the assistance of our Minister of Transport, are arranging to take over two ships for the South African emigrant service. They are the "Winchester' Castle" and the "Carnarvon Castle," and arrangements are already in hand. These ships were lent for the service of moving the emigrants forthwith. With regard to Canada, at the present time tile Canadian Government have not formulated any definite scheme, although we have to remember they have already taken 58,000 emigrants. We are approaching their problems with them with just the same good will and the, same point of view as we have the others, but the limitation at present is shipping accommodation, and there is no doubt that this limitation will exist for some time to come. That is the practical limiting factor. We see the necessity for safeguarding our own manpower, but, at the same time, the numbers that it will be practicable to move within the immediate or near future are small compared with our working population. We are quite prepared, as things develop, to do the best we can to meet the Imperial or Empire necessities in this matter. I may say, frankly, that in each one of these cases we have made a very practical start, and it has been limited only by the shipping that can be made available.

I will now turn to two of the questions asked by the noble Lord. There is no limitation placed on an emigrant in regard to taking his capital with him, but there are one or two qualifications I ought to mention. An emigrant going to a dollar country—Canada or Newfoundland—is allowed to draw up to £5,000 from his assets, in annual instalments, during the first four years. If his total assets arc less than £2,000, he will transfer it at the rate of £500 a year. That is to dollar countries, but to non-dollar countries there is no restriction on his moving whatever capital he posseses. With regard to military service, it is agreed between us that migration must not be used as a means of avoiding military service. Therefore, the Dominions, in agreement with us, are not prepared in general to accept as emigrants men who are liable to military service under the law of this country, although special consideration may be given in exceptional circumstances. I think that is a sufficient answer on that point.

Now may I turn to the questions asked by the noble Lord in regard to the Colonies? Of course he had it in mind that we are dealing with human beings, and one cannot move them about like pawns on a chess board. They are human beings, and they have all their affinities and their homelands, and many other considerations, prominent in their minds. But it is true, as he said, that, for example, in Mauritius there is an overpopulation problem, and the same applies to Barbados and some places in the West Indies. So far as the willingness of the Dominion countries to receive migrants is concerned, they are, of course, masters in their own house. It is for them to prescribe their own policy, but so far as the West Indies are concerned (taking account of what the noble Lord mentioned, the available land, apparently of very suitable character for settlement, both in British Guiana and Honduras) my right honourable friend the Colonial Secretary has already appointed a Commission to go into this matter under Sir Geoffrey Evans, and they will be leaving in the Autumn. They are to have regard to the recommendations of the West India Conference of 1944 concerning the need for a study of British Guiana and British Honduras as an aid to the solution of the problem of over-population in the West Indian territory; and further. to the need to assist in solving the problem of persons displaced as a result of the world war; and to have regard particularly to the possibilities in these two great countries. They are to take account of the future needs of the population of these territories, the need to provide outlets for the surplus population of the British West Indies, the needs of the surplus populations in other West Indian Islands, and the need to provide for re-settlement and rehabilitation of persons displaced from their homes in European countries so far as opportunities may be available in these places. This is a fairly comprehensive instruction, and I have no doubt that in due course some practical suggestions will emerge. We shall approach them in the same spirit as we approached the others.

With regard to the noble Lord's remarks concerning persons from the refugee camps in Europe, that subject, I believe, will be coming up again, and will probably come up for discussion several times, in your Lordships' House. But I want to point out to the noble Lord that this dear old country has done its bit pretty well. We provided an asylum in the most distressful days of the war to large numbers of people, and we also have a large number of Poles in these Islands. I am not quite sure of the total number, but it is a very large one—I believe well over 200,000. I think we ought to see that Great Britain gets some of the credit which is due to her. I find a large number of well-meaning people all over the world are willing to give us instructions, but they do not always bear in mind what we have already done. We have made a very practical contribution to providing homes for desolate and distressed people. We would like to do more, and I am not in any way deprecating the importance of what the noble Lord said. He knows that these considerations cannot be absent from our minds because they force themselves upon us almost every day, but, after all, there are practical limits to the extent to which we can deal with these persons who are in a very distressed condition. Therefore, I must plead that the noble Lord will not expect this country to do more than is humanly and reasonably possible in this respect.

I should mention here that our Canadian colleagues have arranged to take 4,000 Poles, and they have already taken 2,900. They have been carefully selected, and I am sure we all hope that the experiment will be a success. No doubt it will be an encouragement to do more. These things should be done not only carefully; they must also be done wisely, otherwise the reaction may be unfortunate. However, on that matter I can only say that we are well aware of the grim facts of the case. But there are limits to what this country can do, because we ought to remember that, unless those people are capable of earning a living for themselves, everybody we bring in is being maintained at the expense of the British taxpayer. This is a factor which, as a balanced, practical people, we have to bear in mind. So far as migration to the Dominions is concerned, we are thoroughly sympathetic with the spirit of the noble Lord's Motion. We are doing as much as is practicable in the immediate future, and if the scheme succeeds in practical working—as no doubt it will—by being a success at that end as well as this (because that is very important) it will lead to a much greater development in the near future.

4.55 p.m.


My Lords, it is a very convenient arrangement that the noble Viscount, Lord Addison, should have spoken at once on the Motion which my noble friend has moved. This is an important subject which it is right should be discussed, and there could be no better place to discuss it than your Lordships' House. I know that on this subject—which affects so many people—the official record is very closely scanned, and any encouragement from these pronouncements to those who are considering migration is very widely read, and carries great weight. As has been said, there is nothing partisan or controversial in this subject; therefore it is a happy subject to discuss. And I am sure that in the speech which we have just heard from the noble Viscount my noble friend Lord Tweedsmuir will feel that he has received sympathetic consideration for the general theme of his reasoning.

I should like to interject here that, while this matter was the subject of many discussions in your Lordships' House during the war, this is certainly a more timely moment to have another debate on it. I feel particularly pleased that this cause should now be championed by my noble friend, with his youth and energy. He brings to it the prestige which the first bearer of his name had, both in action and in writing, strengthened by a notable war record on his own part. While I know that he dislikes publicity, I would remind your Lordships that this is a matter which calls for the expression of an adventurous spirit; and no one could be a better advocate of such a subject than someone like my noble friend, the mover of the Motion, who, to prove his theme, was prepared to isolate himself for over a year in the most distant part of the territories of the Hudson Bay Company, and to live with the Esquimaux so that he might know what real adventure is. He speaks with authority.

I associate myself with everything he said in the urgings which he made. Nothing could have been more effective than the noble Lord's review of past history, from the beginning of the century up to the present time. The urgings about the need for something to be done have been many. In practice, there is no purpose in looking backwards on what might have been done. We must examine what practically and constructively can be suggested now. As I said, I think my noble friend will feel satisfied to some degree with the reply he has received, but I should like now to raise a few points mentioned by the noble Viscount, Lord Addison, because some clarification may be necessary, and it may be possible, before the end of the debate, to deal with them. The noble Viscount emphasized that the shipping problem is perhaps the main difficulty, but he suggested that in Australia some plan was in working order and he foreshadowed that others will come into effect. He mentioned that women emigrants had already gone out in large numbers, but that they had been balanced to some extent by what had come in from Canada and the United States.

Referring to the exchange control position with regard to dollar countries, however, I would point out that it seems rather niggardly that only £2,000 of capital can be transferred over four years. I hope that the noble Viscount's representations to the Treasury will result in some modification. With regard to military service, he stated that no man liable for military service would be allowed to leave this country. I trust that that refers only to the years when he would serve, and not to all the years up to the age when he would be liable for military service. That, of course, would exclude all adolescent people and even orphans. The noble Viscount mentioned the question of Poles going to Canada, and that leads me to refer to the position of New Zealand, to which he made little reference. It would certainly scorn that if some persuasion were applied to the Dominion of New Zealand, it might encourage them to be more receptive of the Poles now in this country, because they would be agricultural workers, and therefore very good settlers. That brings me to the subject of Australia, to which the noble Viscount made some considerable reference. It is satisfacory to recognize that Australia has at last appreciated the fact that a 7,000,000 white population cannot for long continue to resist a perimeter with 450,000,000 Asiatics; so at last the fallacious belief of the Labour unions in the Dominion that more immegration means less employment has been finally exploded, and I am sure that the noble Viscount will be the first to subscribe to the fact—with the example of the United States in mind—that a big flow of immigrants makes for continually expanding employment.

I pass then to Canada. I should like to refer to the energetic campaign carried on by Colonel George Drew, the Premier of Ontario, who has been outstanding in the Empire in urging action by the Dominion in which he lives to receive immigrants. And it is because of that, because of the mention made of exchange control, and the fact that the noble Viscount made no particular reference to any arrangements that had been made for Canada, that I hope His Majesty's Government will find it possible to collaborate with Canada so that she may do more herself for the transfer of emigrants—artisans rather than agriculturists—to Canada. Under the North America Act, I believe, the Provincial Governments have themselves considerable scope, so that the urgings of the Premier of Ontario have a considerable bearing on this—although it may well be said that the policy of Mr. Mackenzie King of giving bonuses for babies may still be regarded by Canadians as the best method of getting immigrants.

The noble Viscount emphasized that we can ill spare people from this country, and my noble friend in moving his Motion referred to that fact. I hope the Government will give further encouragement to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to do even more than he did yesterday in respect of children's allowances, and that in addition to bonuses on every kind of acreage in the country, there will be greater encouragement to increase the population here. In that way there will be available stock for that bold policy of my noble friend, for British stock to people the Dominion countries and so raise the proportion of British people in the populations of the British Commonwealth in comparison with the proportion of people from other countries.

No reference was made to the Fair-bridge Farm Schools. No debate in your Lordships— House would be complete without reference being made to that institution. I am sure the noble Viscount will be the very first to admit the most valuable work being done in the different Dominions where they have their branches established. I was hoping that the noble Viscount would be able to give the House some indication that contributions would be made by His Majesty's Government to that institution. I do not doubt that my noble friend when he comes to speak later will ask for some further information on the grants to voluntary institutions, in regard to which he urged action. On the question of the Fairbridge Farm schools, those of your Lordships—and there are no doubt many—who have familiarized yourselves with them will know the valuable work they have done.

It is important to know whether it is the intention of the Government to do something in the way of training schools for juvenile war orphans, and others. We have a number of training schools of all kinds, so why should we not have some training scheme for juveniles who go through the various institutions, who could be equipped by the excellent bodies who deal with the care of the young, so that the adventurous minded among them could have an opportunity of being received into training schools to qualify them for an effective life in the Dominions? I say that, having more in mind the agricultural side of the question. In New Zealand and Canada that is important. As to Australia, my own conviction, having travelled through that country during the height of the depression, is that the best settlers there are Australians, and emigrants should be of the artisan character. The emigrant from the agricultural school has great difficulty in making headway in Australia.

The noble Viscount referred quite briefly to the social service contributions. This matter has been urged, but no official pronouncement has been made as to what has been done with regard to the compounding of the social service contributions and their transfer to the country of reception. That is a matter which must loom largely in the mind of an intending migrant. As to war gratuities, more could be done to give supplementary grants to intending migrants when they are ex-Servicemen. I would urge that that matter should be considered, since there has been a clear indication by the noble Viscount that the policy of His Majesty's Government is now definitely sympathetic to emigration. The principle is accepted. What is the volume which can be achieved? It is limited now by shipping, but that is only a transitory phase. There is certainly a necessity for His Majesty's Government to give a better indication of what is their long-range policy, because—to repeat the appeal which my noble friend, Lord Tweedsmuir, made in moving this Motion—the finest contribution we can make to the progress of the world is by a vigorous, expanding series of Commonwealth countries, by a redistribution of the population within the Empire and by facilitating the best as well as some of the less good to go out to the Dominions. After all, the settlers in the Dominions and the Colonies in the early days were the most adventurous and the most vigorous. Let these people go, because they can contribute most to the development of the Empire. It is for that reason that I hope the noble Viscount will, at the conclusion of this discussion, feel the conviction, which I am sure succeeding speakers will have, that the volume should be increased.


My Lords, I am afraid I shall not be able to speak on this subject as I had intended, as my voice has gone.

5.08 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure your Lordships very much regret not having the privilege of hearing the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, in this debate, and sympathize with him in his misfortune, which I hope will be only a temporary indisposition. In every other respect it would seem a most satisfactory debate, and we feel very well contented with the statement that has been made by the noble Viscount, Lord Addison. I am glad that the noble Viscount expressed no sympathy with the point of view that was very briefly outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, that a subject of this Realm is to be regarded as a unit in whom an investment has been made and from whom a dividend of service to the State must be exacted. That view would be wholly contrary to a proper appreciation of the dignity of the human personality. If a child to whom we have given an education and upbringing chooses, in the exercise of his free discretion, to fortify by his presence the Empire rather than the Mother Country, we should, I am sure, receive that decision and congratulate him on the adventurous spirit, if it is a truly adventurous spirit, in which it is made. It is well, too, that we should turn occasionally from the subject that usually engages us, the future of the British Isles, to the even more important subject, the future of the British race. On that question we shall be able to speak with greater wisdom when the Royal Commission on the birth rate has reported. I look forward to further debates on this subject after that report has been received.

There is another matter which may affect the amount of Government encouragement that should be given to emigration, and that is the power resources of this country. They are, alas, dwindling. There is still a vast amount of coal in this country but its availability seems continually to lessen. There is not very much hydroelectric power, although we may look forward to the development of Scottish resources, and the future of atomic power is highly uncertain. It may well be that in future years we shall be discussing the very hard necessity of permitting, and even encouraging, the emigration to the Dominions of those industries which employ an exceptionally large amount of power; and they will, I hope, emigrate then with a substantial proportion of their workpeople. That is, of course, very far in the future, but it is not too early to inform ourselves as to trends of population within the Empire, and to gain the clearest possible view of the economic facts which must guide any large-scale planning policy.

We know there are certain countries which appear, on the face of it, to be under-populated and that there are others whose over-population as my noble friend pointed out, is exceedingly obvious. There is, however, a great need for more information than we have at present with re- gard to population trends in general throughout the Empire. Only recently I received certain documents from a friend in Kenya which illustrate the great uncertainty regarding the population trend among Africans in that country. It appears that there is a very considerable—and indeed a somewhat menacing—rise in the African population there. I say "menacing" with deliberation—it is not a word that I like to use in connexion with population trends—because the documents stress that the children who are being born in increasing numbers to the African population of that colony are not of a particularly healthy type, and that they may, by their very numbers and by the low condition of their health, menace the future of the race. it would be very desirable that some fact-finding Commission—perhaps a number of Commissions would be better—should be appointed to consider such matters throughout the whole of the Empire. I trust that when the next Imperial Conference meets, the possibility of establishing some such fact-finding Commission or Commissions may be considered.

I would join with my noble friend Lord Barnby in expressing the hope that the noble Viscount, when he replies, will be able to tell us more of the Government's intentions regarding child migration. The passage on this subject in the Curtis Report is very brief, but exceedingly weighty, and I trust the House will permit me to read it. Paragraph 515 of the Curtis Report reads: We understand that organizations for sending deprived children to the Dominions may resume their work in the near future. We have heard evidence as to the arrangements for selecting children for migration, and it is clear to us that their effect is that this opportunity is given only to children of fine physique and good mental equipment. These are precisely the children for whom satisfactory openings could be found in this country, and in present day conditions this particular method of providing for the deprived children is not one we specially wish to see extended. On the other hand, a fresh start in a new country may, for children with an unfortunate background, be the foundation of a happy life, and the opportunity should therefore in our view remain open to suitable children who express a desire for it. We should however strongly deprecate their setting out in life under less thorough care and supervision than they would, have at home, and we recommend that it should be a condition of consenting to the emigration of deprived children that the arrangements made by the Government of the receiving country for their welfare and aftercare should be comparable with those that we have proposed in this report for deprived children remaining in this country. The accommodation that is provided in the Fairbridge Schools is, of course, far better than anything that is given to deprived children in this country, and I very strongly welcome the remarks which have been made by my noble friends on the subject of the Fairbridge Schools. I would add, however, that they do not stand quite alone; in Australia there is a school of a similar character which bears the name of my family and which was founded by a legacy of my late aunt. I very much hope that arrangements may be made with the Dominion Governments by which the foundation of similar institutions for young people will be permitted. There are obvious dangers in encouraging the emigration of children and young persons. I recall that before the last war there was a very regrettable episode in which a number of young persons were placed as apprentices on farms in a certain Dominion under conditions that were wholly unsuitable. The result of that unhappy experiment set back the whole subject of child migration. I am confident, however, that the noble Viscount, in his present capacity, will avoid making such mistakes. I would also express the hope that he will be in a strong enough position, since he is exporting so precious a thing as British blood, to ask the Dominions to accept a fair average sample of our deprived child population and to waive any insistence that they may at present be making upon an excessively high physical standard for all the children. I am not suggesting that really unfortunate children who are in poor health, or who are in any way physically handicapped, should be encouraged to emigrate, but it appears to me to be reasonable at this present juncture to ask the Dominions to accept the average of our deprived child population.

5.18 p.m.


My Lords, we on these Benches have profited so much from the knowledge of the Empire and the good sense of my noble friend Viscount Elibank that I must say how sorry I am that we have been deprived of the opportunity of listening to what he wanted to say this afternoon.

I come from a country, as does my noble friend, Lord Tweedsmuir, which, not for generations but for centuries, has exported, and made a rule of exporting, the best of its population. I would like to say that we have never lost by it in Scotland, and that it is a very good principle on which to proceed. I very much welcomed, therefore, the friendly and sympathetic reception which the noble Viscount, Lord Addison, gave to my noble friend's Motion. But there is one point into which he did not, perhaps, go sufficiently fully, and on which I should like a little further information. He said—and we probably all sympathized and agreed with him—that liability for military service would be a bar to emigration. Of course we all agree with that because there is another period, the period when a man has finished his service with the Forces and is liable for his Territorial service. I would very much like to know if the bar extends to that time as well as to time when he is liable for his service with the Forces.

Having said that, I will now come to another point, a point on which perhaps I was not quite so much in sympathy with His Majesty's Government as I ought to be. I do want to raise my voice in a plea for the displaced persons of Europe. It is not an answer to say that we have already taken a certain number of Poles. There are a large number of people among the displaced persons in Europe who are of the highest character and of the highest racial qualities. There are those unfortunate inhabitants of Lithuania who, having been purged once, were then re-conquered. Faced with the possibility of being purged once more they receded into Germany and now inhabit the camps. They are people of whom I have had some knowledge in my time. There are other nations as well. There are Serbs who dare not venture back to their own country, who are possibly banned characters, but none the worse for that. and there may be some Ukranians or Russians. I have had some traffic with all these people, and they are much more the slow-blooded northern type, much better stocks for us to amalgamate with than almost any others in Europe.

Further, these people are very largely people of good character and conduct. I know that there are a lot of crimes laid charged to displaced persons in Europe, but your Lordships must reflect that these people have been kept for years in these horrible camps. If they are guilty of crimes they have no one to shelter them, and they are almost bound to be discovered. Therefore, they tend to be held up as criminals because they are always found out. Even taking that into account, I am told that these statistics are really very low, and that the vast majority of these displaced persons are of very good character and would be useful members of any society in which they worked. There is another point on this matter to which I would like to refer. I very much hope that when the Government talk about people being of use to this country they do not exclude people of brains. I say that, because on one occasion I went to the Ministry of Labour to try and find a place for a wounded officer who had been invalided out. I thought there would be a promising career for such an intelligent person. I was told, "We have no use for brains; all we want is thews." I do suggest that we could use brains as well as thews.


Who made this extraordinary statement?


It was only an official with whom I was conversing, but perhaps I should not repeat a private conversation. At any rate, there is one thing I would like to say on a point to which the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, referred, and it is this. I think it is far more important to get these people to come and live and work amongst us than it is to get our enemies to do so. I know we are commanded to forgive our enemies, and I trust I do my best to do so, but I must say it goes against the grain when I read in the papers that a number of Italians are brought into the country for industrial purposes, when we have people whom we cannot reckon as enemies in these displaced camps, who might very well come here to undertake similar tasks. I certainly think that they should have preference over members of enemy races. My noble friend Lord Gifford has given me some interesting information, showing how much has been done already. He pointed out that nearly 3,000 British sailors have stayed in Australia during the war, and over 1,000 Australian brides have been brought back to this country. That is merely a small portion of the movement upon which the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House congratulated him- self. I only hope that the noble Viscount will give some sympathetic encouragement with regard to these good displaced persons.

5.27 p.m.


My Lords, I interevene for only a moment or two to congratulate my noble friend, not only on the successful speech with which he introduced this Motion, but on the success he achieved in drawing the speech from the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House in reply. It was far more satisfactory and encouraging than many we have drawn from that quarter, and if I have been critical on some occasions I do not wish, to let this one pass without acknowledging to the full how much we are in accord with what he has said, and how much we appreciate what he has done. Arrangements as satisfactory as those which he announced do not take place by themselves, and I am perfectly certain that a great deal has been done by the Secretary of State for the Dominions and his staff, as by those in the High Commissioners' Offices with whom he has worked. I am very glad, too, that the Government, not always notable for taking long-term views, have taken a long-term view about migration.

We must, of course, have a sense of balance in this matter. There is what in the jargon of to-day is called a temporary shortage of manpower"—by which we mean that workers are rather scarce for the moment. We shall do better by breeding more people now—which is supposed to be the ultimate solution, and to which again the Treasury Bench have certainly made their contribution. That is also a rather long-term view to take. The immediate short-term remedy is, if I may venture to say so, that we should all work a little harder, and that will give immediate results. But because we are a bit short at the moment it would be extraordinarily short-sighted to say, "Now we must shut down on migration altogether." It is one of those things which ought never to stop, because the flow of migration is the life-blood of the British Commonwealth—this Commonwealth knit together not only by the great things which unite us, but knit together like chain mail, with thousands of small links, and those links are the movement of people from one part of the Empire to another.

I deliberately use the word "migration" and not emigration because though the larger part will come from this country (we have the larger population in the balance, and there will be more exports than imports), there should always be a two-way traffic. Not only should we send our people out to the Dominions, but their people should come here. Someone said once—I forget who it was—" The Empire is my country, England is my home." That is the natural and right attitude for every citizen of the Commonwealth towards his own country and towards the Commonwealth of which he is a member. In that two-way traffic the best form, I agree, is marriage; and it was one of the few good results of the war—apart from our maintained freedom—that happy marriages took place. The next best form is perhaps the migration of children. It is difficult, I know, and I am not surprised that sometimes there have been failures. What surprises me more is the extraordinary success that has been achieved, and on the balance the work done by the Fairbridge Schools is the most hopeful of all forms of migration. The child or young person going out is much more likely to grow into and live in his environment than somebody who is older, unless the latter knows a good deal about the country to which he is going. That is the form of migration which I am delighted to hear is steadily to be encouraged.

I think it is not irrelevant that the questions of displaced persons and the movement of persons within the Empire have been introduced into this debate. I agree with noble Lords who have spoken that we must not be too exclusive and too eclectic in this matter of our own population. We have throughout history absorbed emigrants from other countries with great success. After all, we are something of an amalgam ourselves. Norman, Saxon and Dane are we, and a few other ingredients as well.


The Celts.


They were there to start with, right at the beginning, but, fortunately for us, they have been somewhat diluted. If we look back upon our origin and consider the fine stock which has been raised out of it, then I think we must not have too much Aryan exclusiveness in our outlook. Let us take up this question of Empire migration and of encouraging people of the right kind to find an asylum here. We are big enough still to absorb a great many. Also we can always benefit by what we absorb if it is of the right kind. I would much rather absorb sound stock than unsound ideologies, and I think there is a great opportunity of embracing the one and excluding the other. Upon that note I will close.


With the permission of the House I might perhaps reply to some of the questions raised. In the first place I would like to say I was delighted to hear that charming aphorism of the noble Viscount, and I am wondering whether he invented it on the spot. I shall certainly look it up in Hansard.


It was on the spot.


It was very charmingly expressed. It will be worth remembering and I shall take advantage of the reporter's note to get it verbally correct. I thank him for it. I am sure that what he said about the advantage of a mixed stock is unassailable in history. We ourselves are the most conspicuous example in the world of the value of that process over the centuries. The noble Viscount is well aware of the difficulties with which this country has been confronted by the sudden emergence of a mass of people in distressed conditions. I think it can be fairly said that so far as is humanly possible we are doing our best, and I have no doubt the process will continue.

I will say a word about another observation of the noble Viscount—the importance of two-way traffic. It does not much concern the particular Motion on the Order Paper but it has very vital ingredients. While working at the office of the appointment which I hold, I have found that the amount of ignorance in this country of some of the territories of the Commonwealth is appalling and shocking. It does not speak well for our efforts as politicians and educationalists. I therefore would surmise that it is quite likely that there is a similar lack of appreciation of us in some of the other countries. I am perfectly certain that the importance of a two-way traffic is immense, and the more we encourage it the better it is going to be for all of us.

There were a number of set questions to which the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, and others referred. I have mentioned them and I will revert to them now. With regard to assistance for the various organizations connected with emigration schemes, I must say that we have already made arrangements for giving financial assistance to some of the special bodies, although we shall not be able, of course, to find shipping space for some time to come. That applies to the Overseas Settlement of British Women and the Committee of the Fairbridge Memorial College, particularly in Southern Rhodesia. We are discussing some kind of scheme with regard to the Fairbridge School in British Columbia. There is also another organization with which we are in conference—the 1820 Memorial Settlers' Association—which is concerned with people wishing to settle in South Africa. In some cases arrangements have already been concluded; in others they are being discussed. We shall be willing to facilitate or cooperate in well-planned and properly organized schemes which assist child migration, and in other cases. But it must be thoroughly understood that they must be under responsible and good direction, and that nothing can be done until the shipping space is available.

At the moment applications in the High Commissioners' offices are so numerous that it is not to be anticipated that in the near future there will be any room for those selected by others to find passages. However, we have concluded the arrangements to which I have referred, and we are in friendly discussion with other bodies. Now I would like to thank the noble Lord once again for having initiated so valuable a discussion.


I beg the noble Viscount's pardon, but could he answer a specific question which I put to him as to whether liability for Territorial service or liability to military service is a barrier to emigration?


I am afraid that that is a question of which I should require notice. The present agreement with the Dominions, which I quoted deliberately, is that we do not include in the scheme any men who are liable to be called up for national service unless there are special reasons for including them. Beyond that, at the moment, I am afraid I am unable to go. I cannot answer the noble Lord's question fully until I have been further advised.


My Lords, I appreciate that the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, cannot give us a comprehensive answer now. But the whole point, as I understood it, of the provision to which reference has been made was that a man who is due to be called up in a few months— time ought not to be allowed to emigrate until he has done his military service. The point which my noble friend Lord Saltoun raised, I think (and in my view it is a sound point), is that under the Military Service Regulations he will serve eighteen months—I beg your Lordships' pardon, not eighteen months, but a year; these things change so rapidly—and that after that he is to be liable for "X" years, I had better say, of Territorial service. Everybody agrees that he should not evade doing his full time in the Forces, but it would be carrying things rather far if a man having served his year or eighteen months in one of the Regular Services should not be allowed to emigrate until he had completed the four, five or six years for which he was liable for Territorial service.


I am afraid I am not in a position to give a definite reply, except with regard to the first class of young men who will be liable to be called up. As to the position of the men who have to serve a certain number of years in the Reserve I cannot now make a statement. I will, at some future time, acquaint the noble Lord with the answer but I cannot give it now off-hand.

5.42 p.m.


My Lords, I think most of us will agree that to-day's debate has been well worth while. I am deeply obliged to the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, for the rain of facts which he has released in reply to all my questions. I derive a tremendous amount of comfort from the answers which he has given me on a great number of points. I am extremely sorry, as I am sure are all your Lordships, that the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, was not able to speak. We have listened, however, to some very interesting speeches by noble Lords who have studied diligently the matters about which they spoke—including Lord Barnby, the Earl of Iddesleigh, and Lord Saltoun. I may be wrong, but I thought I detected in the noble Viscount's reply a slight, tentative suggestion that if we bring in the refugees they may, at least temporarily, be a liability. One or two other noble Lords raised the question of the strict relevance of such a matter in a debate of this kind. I believe in the absolute relevance of this matter of the refugees. I believe that if we select these people on that one single satisfactory basis—the likelihood of their becoming good citizens of this country—they will be assets instead of liabilities, and we shall be accounted by future generations to have been right. I have received an extremely satisfactory reply to the questions I have raised, and in the circumstances I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.