HL Deb 13 July 1948 vol 157 cc757-9

My Lords, I beg to ask the question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

[The question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government, whether they are yet able to report arrangements with Australia, New Zealand and Canada for the capitalisation and transfer of accumulated contributions to the social services in the United Kingdom made by intending migrants to those Dominions; if not with all, with which of the Dominions, if any, arrangements have been concluded.]


My Lords, as the noble Lord will be aware, a conference of officials from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Eire and Southern Rhodesia was held in May, 1947, to examine the principles on which reciprocal arrangements in the field of social insurance might be based. The report of the conference, which was unanimous, has been under consideration by the Governments concerned, and there have in addition been discussions with some of the countries represented as to the arrangements which might be made for reciprocity between schemes of social insurance in those countries and the new National Insurance schemes which came into force in this country on July 5 last. These arrangements, however, would not necessarily take the form of the capitalisation and transfer of accumulated contributions.

In particular, good progress has been made in discussions with New Zealand with a view to a reciprocal arrangement between the scheme of family benefits in that country and the scheme of family allowances in Great Britain. It is also hoped shortly to approach the Governments of other Commonwealth countries whose schemes are such as to afford a possible basis for reciprocity.


Arising out of that answer—which, it will be noticed, shows relatively little progress since the conference was held in the spring of last year—can the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, in view of his familiarity with and sympathy for this question, and also in view of an indication in his reply to a recent debate in your Lordships' House, give some assurance of his readiness to make representations in the right quarter that there should be more rapid progress? Secondly, will advantage be taken of the presence in this country of the Prime Minister of Australia to seek assurance that at the Civil Service level Australia will, so far as he can bring it about, assist in expediting the solution of this problem?


I can assure the noble Lord that the Prime Minister of Australia is fully aware of these matters which are immensely complicated and diverse. I should have thought that in view of these immense complexities, everyone concerned would have felt that progress so far was very satisfactory.


May I ask whether it is not possible for His Majesty's Government to treat this as a matter of real urgency, especially having regard to the project for increasing migration between this country and New Zealand and Australia in particular? Social security which is not reciprocal is, I suggest, one of the barriers to the movement which most people want. May I express the hope that the Government will be able to treat this matter as one of urgency and not merely as something that might be done at some time?


I am sure that we are fully conscious of the urgency of these matters, but nobody knows better than the noble Lord how immensely complicated they are.