HL Deb 21 March 1951 vol 170 cc1250-90

3.4 p.m.

LORD TWEEDSMUIR rose to call attention to problems of emigration within the British Commonwealth; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have ventured to put down this Motion to-day because I believe the subject of emigration within the British Commonwealth to be one of the first importance. Although I have restricted the Motion to the British Commonwealth, I well realise that to some extent this is a world problem. We are warned by many voices that the unbalance between populations and these territories may well one day lead us to the explosion of what I have heard called the "biological bomb." I am not going to refer to the subject in its global entirety to-day, but to narrow my remarks to those countries of the British Commonwealth which have European populations.

On this whole subject of emigration, it always seems to me that certain important misconceptions exist as to exactly what kind of human flow it is. Only too often people see it as being a river of humanity which flows from Britain to the Dominions. But if one looks into the history of the movement of the white populations of the British Commonwealth, one sees that it is not the flowing of a river, it is the interplay of tides—a tide running very strongly from Britain to those great new countries in the last hundred years. Millions went from Britain— sometimes hundreds of thousands in a single year. When the depression came in 1931 the flood ceased; the ebb tide set in, and more people were coming to Britain from other Commonwealth countries than were leaving Britain for these distant destinations. That explains why, when the war started, one-third of the crews of the Royal Air Force were Canadians. I have the honour to be President of the Canadian Veterans of the United Kingdom. There are 20,000 men that we know of who wore Canada's uniform in the last two wars. In addition, we know of 30,000 ex-Canadian civilians. So, in this interplay of tides, large pools are often left behind. The flood tide is now running strongly, but, to my mind, not freely enough. This is not a mathematical question of so many thousands of people leaving Britain, and leaving a "minus" account behind them. I imagine that, in 1940, when the Canadian Division, in which I had the honour to serve, was almost the only equipped division left to resist the Germans if they landed, the people must indeed have felt extremely grateful that no kind of restriction or bar existed to prevent the emigration of the progenitors of those men to Canada.

I firmly believe—and I am sure a great number of your Lordships will agree with me—that we could have the strongest possible Armed Forces in Britain, and enjoy the most abundant prosperity; but only if strength, security and prosperity reign in our sister nations of the British Com- monwealth would or could they rest on any sure foundation. The whole crux of the question of emigration is: Do the people of these other Commonwealth countries want our citizens? And, secondly, are there people, in this country, who want to go abroad and make new lives in these distant lands? The answer to both these questions is plainly, Yes. So badly, indeed, do the people of Canada want settlers from Britain that the Hollinger iron ore workings, on the Labrador border, which may well prove to be a powerful factor for the strength and economy of Canada, are recruiting workers directly in Britain. As to the second question, whether there are people who want to go, I am credibly informed that there are, in Britain, 500,000 people whose names are registered for emigration as and when transport can be found for them.

I believe that the redistribution of the white British people is one of the most important problems with which we are faced; and our survival may well depend on its solution. It is a subject in which economic and strategic considerations are closely interwoven. We are too centralised; there is a grave unbalance in the population of the British Commonwealth through the heavy centralisation in these Islands. We must learn to decentralise throughout the Commonwealth. The whole question of migration is frequently debated with some vigour in the popular Press. If your Lordships read these correspondences—as I always do with great interest—you will find many remarkable misconceptions on the whole subject. You will find those who raise their voices in anxiety about our producers and our workers and our skilled men who, it is said, are flowing out of this country, leaving more and more people, who are too old to work, to be supported by fewer and fewer who can work. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have made it clear that we desire to send—and, so far as I know, the Commonwealth countries have agreed to take—a cross-section of our people by age and by occupation.

Then there is that curiously flimsy argument, so flimsy as to require no specific refuting, that in this atomic age either these Islands are defensible or they are not. It is argued that if the Islands are defensible, not a man should leave; that if they are not defensible we should all leave in a body. I think that is too foolish to attract even an argument. There is also what I regard as the very dangerous misconception of those who, while opposing migration in general terms in the normal flow, believe that it may be possible if we are threatened with an atomic war to evacuate at short notice a large part of our population almost overnight. That is the most appalling rubbish. It would take four years for the "Queen Mary," loaded to the gunwales with humanity on the short run to Canada and back, to take 1,000,000 people there. Migration is no panacea for populations like those of so many Eastern countries which are increasing by leaps and bounds. To stabilise the population of India, we should have to find shipping space for 15,000 people per day, which would be an impossibility. Then, of course, there are those who have the purely selfish outlook—those who say: "Let us not lose a single productive man or woman from these Islands. Let us make our house comfortable." It might make the house comfortable, but the house would be built on sand. Nothing that I am going to suggest carries the slightest innuendo of sending anybody anywhere, or of coercing anyone to go anywhere, but merely allows those who wish to go to do so.

The position in the United Kingdom is roughly this, as I see it, in terms of population. Something between 65 and 70 per cent. of the white British race live in these Islands. That great concentration of population had great advantages to us at certain periods of the last hundred years but, as we all know, changes have taken place, and will never be reversed. Gone are the days when, as a well-known publicist said: "A few hours' work of industry in Britain could be exchanged for hundreds of hours of work in agriculture in some distant land." At different times in the last hundred years we possessed what was practically a world industrial monopoly. That is something we shall never see again. The world has changed. That centralisation of population which was once an advantage is now in many ways a great source of danger. We are the biggest food importing nation in the world, a world whose climate is extremely adverse to food importing nations. We have in these Islands no fewer than 547 people to every square mile of land We are, as none of us needs any reminding, a terribly vulnerable target in an atomic ago.

If that is Britain's position let me draw your Lordships' attention to the position of two of the Commonwealth countries. Other noble Lords may speak about other countries, but I wish to draw your Lordships' attention to some of the problems connected with Canada and Australia. Both of those countries want our people. Both have agreed to take a cross-section of our population. They need them for strength. They realised in the last war what a chilly place a vast country with a tiny population can be. They need our people to build up their economies. They are no longer nations of primary producers. Canada is to-day the fourth biggest manufacturing country in the world. Any man in the year 1800 who could have persuaded himself that by 1950 the United States would have be-come a giant in men, in strength and in wealth, in view of the fact that she was in those days so tiny and so unimportant, would have been a man of considerable vision. These countries such as Canada and Australia feel that it is not unreasonable to hope that they may one day, in a different degree, go some way down the path that the United States has travelled so successfully.

Specifically, the Australian emigration scheme has been in force for five years. There is absolutely no diminution in the keenness of the people who wish to go to Australia. Australia, I understand, wants 80.000 British migrants this year. She now has a fleet of eleven migrant carriers. I understand, too, that His Majesty's Government have reduced their contribution in this matter. For that I am sorry. We are all aware of the difficulties of shipping and of housing in Australia itself, but as I see it we have now reached with Australia the end of the first phase, and it is up to us to face the implications of the second one. Since 1945, large numbers of migrants have gone to Australia. I believe that was the first phase, when migrants went as families, by themselves. The second phase which we must face is that, not only must those people continue to go, if possible in an increasing flow, but we must seriously address ourselves also to the question of the migration of industry in that direction. When I talk of migration of industry, I do not mean uprooting great industries here in this country, leaving behind a mere vacancy; not taking industries from here and depriving them of valuable Continental markets for their products; not removing the tree, but encouraging the tree to plant a cutting abroad, which may one day grow as big as the tree itself. I should therefore like to ask His Majesty's Government a question of which I have given them prior notice: Have they explored the possibility of the migration of industry? This is not a matter of pressure on industry. This is a matter of the Government giving wise and helpful encouragement to industry to migrate.

Then there is Canada. I was recently there. I know that country fairly well. More than one half of my adult life has been spent in Canada or in the Canadian Army. I met a great many offshoots of British business over there. I met many migrants, some of whom had not long since come from Britain. There has been a terrible decline in migration from Britain to Canada during the last few years. I know that the price of fares across the Atlantic has risen, and risen steeply. But what is acting like a blight on the wheatfield is this currency restriction which prevents the settler from taking more than £1,000—and that in instalments of only £250 per year. That restriction came into force, as I think your Lordships will all recollect, on April 9, 1948. It was to be reviewed by the Treasury at the end of the year. In 1948, rather more than 46,000 people went from Britain to settle in Canada. By the following year the number had fallen to just over 22,000. By 1950, last year, it was down to 13,427. That restriction has entirely wrecked the concept of a crosssection. It debars the skilled men whose savings exceed £1,000. It debars the tradesmen and the craftsmen who wish to set up businesses of their own. It debars, too, the small family unit who want to go there and buy a house. It debars parents who have families in Canada from joining them, if their savings exceed £1,000. It completely and entirely prevents any man from becoming a farmer, because he will not be able to buy a farm for £250. When he has extracted from that sum all he needs to live on.

Many of your Lordships here beside me know the country of Canada. You know that emigration to Canada takes place in the spring, because the migrant must have time to get himself settled in before the long hard winter comes along. He can take with him £250; but that will not buy him a farm, or a house, or allow him to set up in a business.


In case the noble Lord, by reason of his very interesting speech, should mislead other noble Lords, may I intervene to say that in fact in good cases the Treasury will allow £1,000 to be taken out in a lump sum?


I am delighted to hear that; that is news to me. I hope that when the noble Lord comes to reply he will explain in what cases that is allowed, because I cannot feel that they are very frequent.


They are not very frequent, but it is done in good cases.


Perhaps the noble Lord will elaborate on that matter. My point is that in a great number of cases many first-class British citizens have been thrown on public assistance, simply because they have been forced, by some illness or emergency, to expend their pathetically limited funds. From Canada's point of view the difference is this: that if there are currency restrictions like this people may go there to do jobs, but the job creator—the man who would start a small business or farm—cannot go. We hear a good deal—and we are pleased to hear it—of the betterment of our dollar position. Surely this would be a way of doing something to reflect that improvement.

I do not know whether the Canadian Government have made specific approaches to His Majesty's Government on this point. I should not be surprised if they had not. It would not be unreasonable for them to expect His Majesty's Government to take the first step. But I should like to ask the noble Lord who is to reply a question, of which I have given prior notice—namely, what were the total amounts transferred to the Canadian dollar account as a result of allowances to emigrants in the years 1948, 1949 and 1950? I do not expect him to find an answer for this question out of his head, but I should like to know the Treasury estimate of the additional dollars which would be required if the limit were increased to £5,000, and assuming that 35,000 emigrants went in one year. My belief is that the amount would no: be very great. As one who knows Canada well, I put forward the strongest plea for a return to the £5,000 allowance, allowing £2,000 in the first year and £1,000 in each of the remaining years. Before we in this country stress our own hardships, let us remember just how much Canada., and indeed all the other Commonwealth countries, have done for us. It was not from expediency, it is not from self-interest, that 14,000,000 Canadians take more of our exports than 152,000,000 citizens of the United States. Surely, we can help them to get more of one of our exports which they want above all others—namely, our own citizens.

Finally, we in this country are beset with many problems. I would not seek to minimise them for one moment. But when you find yourself having to take each step with care, it is fatally easy to overlook the destination to which your steps will eventually lead you. I believe that our whole survival as a Commonwealth depends upon the solution of the redistribution of the white races. No one can deny—and I am sure the noble Lord who is to answer to-day will not try to deny— the supreme importance of rectifying the dangerous unbalance we have in the Commonwealth at the moment. No one can deny that it merits the most careful investigation, not merely talks separately with one interested Commonwealth country after another when they make the first approach, but all together. Perhaps something on the lines of the Overseas Settlement Board should be recreated, or there may be a strong argument for a Commonwealth Migration Board. Whatever form it takes, to my mind the strongest argument exists for giving the priority it deserves to this problem; not waiting for the Commonwealth countries to act first, but for Britain to take the lead and get all those countries to examine the problem together, and examine it soon. I want to hear from His Majesty's Government in unmistakable terms that they realise this problem is urgent. I want to hear from them that they are acting and not waiting for the Commonwealth countries to act first. And most of all I want to hear that they are ceasing to fulfil the negative role of benevolent spectator, and, instead, are taking the leadership in this matter. I beg to move for Papers.

3.27 p.m.


My Lords, we have listened to an extremely eloquent, clearly stated and convincing speech on the part of my noble friend. I am going to confess, quite frankly, that, although I agree with every word that he has said, unfortunately owing to a physical disability I cannot spend more than three or four minutes in supporting his request to the Government, the main purport of which, so far as I can see, is that Britain should take the lead in consultation with the overseas Commonwealth countries in threshing out this all-important question of migration between one part of the British Commonwealth and another.

I should not attempt to speak at all in this debate but for the fact that when I went to New Zealand as Governor-General, now twenty-one years ago, I formed the opinion that this matter of migration was an all-important question, and one to which the Old Country and New Zealand herself ought to give far more attention than we here were then prepared to give. When I left New Zealand sixteen years ago, I consented, with the approval of the then Government and my own successor, to remain, as I have been ever since, the patron of the Dominion Population and Settlement Association, whose strength has been increasing by leaps and bounds during the last ten years and whose influence upon the Government is, as I believe, bound to result in far greater activity in encouraging immigration into that delightful part of the British Empire, well called by one of her recent Prime Ministers God's own country, and in developing a greater population of that country from British sources. What I really want to emphasise more than anything else is this. Recent history has proved that you cannot have large areas of fertile or potentially fertile: land undeveloped and unoccupied in any part of the world without overpopulated, ambitious and greedy countries looking at them with envy and developing within themselves a spirit of aggression which would not be nearly so vehement or insistent if only it were possible for the authorities in control of those areas to develop them with an English-speaking population drawn mainly from the British race.

In the presence of so eminent a statesman as Lord Bruce, I will refer only superficially, if at all, to what I found in Australia four years ago, when I went as a good will missionary from the Royal Agricultural Society of England to the six Royal Agricultural Societies there— one in each State of the Commonwealth— and to their various agricultural research stations. That country, of course, is only partially developed, and in my judgment the reason for that is that a very large area of it is, inevitably, drought-stricken from time to time. A certain portion of it, even with scientific development—particularly in the matter of irrigation—can never come to be populated to the extent that, let us say, New Zealand can, with her ideally fertile soil and her relatively ideal climate.

To-day Australia is enjoying abounding prosperity (as also, of course, is New Zealand) as the result of the very high prices she is obtaining for her wool. But there is one factor which we have all to remember: though to an ever-increasing extent we must look to our overseas Dominions for the supplies of our essential foods, more especially meat, it is nevertheless the fact that as a population become more prosperous they become much greater consumers of their own food products and, very particularly, of meat. From what I could gather after studying conditions in Melbourne and Sydney when I was there four years ago, owing' to the increasing prosperity, which was manifest even then, the consumption of meat had gone up enormously. I am told that it has increased considerably since, and that we shall not be able to look to Australia—and possibly the same may toe said also to some extent of New Zealand—for any large surplus of her meat output, at any rate for some time. This is the result of the inhabitants of the country, in consequence of increased prosperity, absorbing to so large an extent their own food output.

With regard, particularly, to New Zealand—and I can speak with perhaps greater knowledge and authority of that country than of any other part of the British Commonwealth—I am certain that within, say, five years New Zealand could, with due encouragement, increase her present-day population of less than 2,000,000 by at least 50 per cent., and that the output of her land, fertile and potentially fertile, could quite easily be increased 100 per cent. in the course of the next ten years if full use were made of the land, and mechanisation and fertilisation developed much more than they have been in the past. May I say, incidentally, that we can look to the Maori people—that delightfully attractive coloured race—through improvement in their own agricultural methods, to contribute a much larger proportion of food from their holdings than it was ever attempted to produce, even ten years ago.

I should like to take up another point which my noble friend has mentioned— that is, the migration of industry. It may not be generally realised that the population of New Zealand is only to the extent of 45 per cent. agricultural. I do not know the figure for Australia, but I can well believe that non-agricultural industry is developed to a similar degree there. A noble Lord sitting in front of me tells me that it is developed much more. What I suggest—and the Government can help in this connection—is that instead of leaving it to those countries, and still less, perhaps, to the United States, to initiate, to capitalise and to subsidise new industries, we should do all that lies in our power to have branches of our own well-established British industries set up and developed in those countries. I may say, in passing, that there are three notable instances in New Zealand in which branches of British industries have been established during the last twenty years, and these are now amongst the most flourishing and most stable industries in that land.

As I have said, I am prevented by temporary physical disability from saying all I should like to say upon this subject, but there is one final point I wish to make. We have in this country all too few really competent farmers. Far too large a proportion of those who have, in effect, fixity of tenure on the land in this country are actually not sufficiently efficient, under existing conditions, to justify their tenure of English land. By curious contrast, we have an immense number of capable young men who have been and are being trained in our colleges. I speak for the oldest and greatest of our agricultural colleges—namely, the Royal Agricultural College—of which I believe I am the oldest surviving student and gold medallist. A large number of young men are coming from those colleges, having obtained then-diplomas and, in some cases, their gold medals with much good practical training behind them; but to-day they have no prospect whatever of being able to settle on the land in this country. Overseas, on the other hand, in many parts of Australia and in most parts of New Zealand, there is fertile land awaiting occupation and needing far more intensive cultivation than it has had in the past. If only facilities could be granted by our Government to some of these young men, well trained in the processes of agriculture, and if those facilities could include the lending on easy terms of capital to enable them to initiate their agricultural activities overseas, real good would be done. Fresh hope would be implanted in the hearts of many young potential farmers in this country. Much would be accomplished also in the matter of developing the present undeveloped fertile areas overseas. I ask your Lordships to forgive me for participating in this debate. I am not really physically fit to do so, but I could not remain silent when this all-important subject of migration was brought to the front in this House.

3.40 p.m.


My Lords, my noble friend Lord Tweedsmuir has surely done service in raising this matter to-day, and I think we are all grateful to him for the manner in which he presented the question. This matter is one which has been discussed in your Lordships' House fairly often during the last few years, and looking back over those debates I think that the results have been singularly small. The noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, reviewed the general aspects of the matter so eloquently that anyone who speaks after him can only underline his views. He speaks not only as a keen student of Commonwealth affairs over a long time but as one who has first-hand knowledge. We were certainly glad of the intervention by the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, who, on Imperial matters, always makes a contribution to which we listen with attention and respect. With regard to New Zealand he speaks with an intimate knowledge. He has made plain what what New Zealand can do, and I can say only that it is a matter of regret that in the past years the New Zealand Government have not followed his advice more actively.

The noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, showed that a steady course of migration from this country was desirable. I want to emphasise my amazement that we should hear people discussing whether migration from the United Kingdom to the Dominions is a good or bad thing. How can it be anything but a good thing? The suggestion that we want to discourage people from leaving these shores is surely preposterous. I say that provocatively, in the hope of stirring other noble Lords to challenge it. Over the past 200 years what has built up the Commonwealth but the best who went out from this country —adventurous, bold, confident of their British origin, determined to plant the best principles of British character and enterprise in the distance parts of the Commonwealth. I resent tremendously the suggestion that we are to-day any less in a position to make the contribution which this country has made in the past simply because we may not increase our population fast enough. Let the girls of this country get busy, if we have not enough population. A few thousand Britishers in distant parts of the Commonwealth will do more for the security of the world, and for building up the trade of the world, than they will do sitting in this country, which offers less opportunity than the broad expanses of Australia, as the noble Viscount, Lord Bruce of Melbourne, can confirm, apart from what my noble friend Lord Tweedsmuir has said about Canada.

Having delivered myself of that matter, about which I feel strongly, I will turn to another question—namely, whether it is a good thing for the receiving countries to have an inflow of migrants. I think Australia in the past was a better illustration than Canada. Organised labour in Australia had been opposed to an inflow of migrants, on the ground that more bodies meant more competition for jobs. To some extent that has been the attitude of organised labour in Canada. No debate of this character is real without reference to such an incredible fallacy. What built up the United States but the inflow of people? As a young man I lived in the States, and I remember well that during the three years before the First World War over 900,000 people a year poured into the United States. That is what built up the prosperity which contributed to the great power of the United States to-day, a size which we hope in a hundred years may then be exceeded by both Australia and Canada.

My noble friend referred to the funds taken out of this country by migrants to Canada. That is a matter which has been repeatedly raised in this House, both in debate and by Question. I myself have put down several Questions on this matter. Apart from equity, the grounds of logic which my noble friend advanced are surely such as to place the noble Lord who is to reply in a position to give encouragement to the belief that the preposterously rigid restrictions which exists to-day will be relaxed, I hope to the extent my noble friend asked, but, if not, then at least to something appreciably more generous than exists now. Whenever this matter has been raised, I have been the recipient, as doubtless many other noble Lords have been, of a spate of correspondence exhibiting all sorts of hardship cases. One case was so justifiable that it brought a reply of no less length than the letter which I have in my hand from the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, replying for the Government. It would seem that the Treasury were satisfied that there was a good deal of justification for the case put. forward. I repeat that I hope that the hardship which exists under this head can be reduced.

There is another angle to this question which I hope the noble Lord who replies may be able to make some reference— namely, the transfer of compounded contributions to the social services paid by people in this country to the country to which they intend to go. This has been raised many times. I realise that with regard to Canada it falls under the currency restriction, and there is complication. In Australia and New Zealand, apparently, there is a distinct chance of securing this, and although I have not give him any notice of this question, I hope the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, may be able to give us the latest facts in regard to this matter. I should like to revert to a matter affecting Canada, of which I have given the noble Lord notice. In addition to his reply with regard to the actual funds of migrants, and what is proposed to be done about them, can he given an indication of the total amount of capital which the Treasury have permitted to go to Canada during the last two years for the purpose of setting up businesses there? That flow of capital must have a distinct bearing on the point raised by my noble friend.

May I now make one reference to South Africa? I have been there twice recently, and South Africa is generally overlooked in debates on emigration. After my recent visits I am more satisfied than before that South Africa offers a field for migration, particularly for skilled artisans to go out there and find a good living.


And Southern Rhodesia.


I have not been there, but I am sure that what I have just said applies equally to Southern Rhodesia.

My noble friend, in opening this debate, referred to the migration of industry. Surely, where it is permitted, industry is migrating all the time. In Australia, British businesses are constantly establishing subsidiary concerns. With regard to Canada, much will depend upon the reply which the noble Lord opposite gives to the question of which I have given him notice. My noble friend Lord Tweedsmuir suggested that the whole mechanism merited a central body which would study the problems and assist matters under this heading, in so far as they affect this country. I should like to support that view. It was recognised before the late war that a central body was justified. I had the honour and privilege of sitting on the Overseas Settlement Board for a good many years. Looking back on its work, I am satisfied that it must have been helpful.


Is the noble Lord now referring to the Board that was set up in this country, consisting of people who were advising the Government? I did not understand that to be the suggestion made by the noble Lord. Lord Tweedsmuir.


I do not remember that my noble friend specified exactly what he wanted, and I may have misinterpreted his words. My conception is that there would be advantage in a body somewhat similar to the Overseas Settlement Board. Whatever its character may be, I leave with the noble Lord the thought that the proposal is worthy of study.

I should like to refer again to Canada. I am satisfied that the emphasis which my noble friend laid upon the opportunities in Canada was not misplaced. I spend a great deal of time in Canada, and I have just come back after being there for three months. I believe that it is timely to remind the House, in supporting the figures which my noble friend gave in relation to emigration from this country, that the Canadian Government are at last seriously urging a policy of immigration; and, according to a speech of the Minister of Immigration, made in Winnipeg in the early part of this year, they have set a target of 150,000 immigrants in 1951. I would call your Lordships' attention to the fact that Holland, with a population of 10,000,000. is the same size as Vancouver Island, which has a population of 250,000; that Sweden supports 7,000.000 people at a high standard of living in half the area of British Columbia; and that Britain has 50,000,000 people in an area a little larger than Southern Ontario. It is as well to keep these areas in mind. The head of the Canadian Manufacturers' Association recently said that there was nothing unreasonable in Canada having a population of 50,000,000 in measurable time.

I should also like to quote from a prominent financial paper, which says: These potential Canadian immigrants might have sufficient capital to buy and equip a home here, set up in business for themselves, and meet other expenses of getting established, but their savings and investments in Britain are largely frozen. That point was made by my noble friend Lord Tweedsmuir. In speaking of Canada I have an interest, because businesses of which I am the head have several mills in Canada. We are now engaged in building another substantial mill, and I am gratified to be able to say, in response to the urgings of the Dollar Export Board, that it will be the first cotton spinning mill on the North American Continent having 100 per cent. British machinery. My interests in Canada bring me continually in touch with the practical problems of this question of immigration, particularly in regard to skilled overlookers (we all believe that British craftsmen are the best); and these we hope to get from England. The carrying out of this intention is hampered by to-day's currency restrictions. Moreover, devaluation has cut off by one-third or more the buying power of the resources that were impounded in this country. I hope that even if in the noble Lord's reply no definite promise can be given to-day, he will strongly recommend relaxation to the Treasury, so that this debate may have had some success.

3.58 p.m.


My Lords, after the speeches to which we have listened on this portentous subject of emigration, I rise for a few moments to discuss the question in relation to another part of the Empire of which I have had experience—namely, the Crown Colonies of East Africa. I first went out there in 1924, and I finished up at the end of the last war in 1945, with a period of absence of about three or four years between a civilian period and a military period. Therefore, I have experience from two sides of the picture. The first point to which I should like to draw attention concerns Government help to the proposed settler, and the type of person who should be sent out there. Africa, as we all know, is an extremely difficult country, particularly East Africa, where the areas for the white population are scattered and widely divergent, through lack of communication. Then there is the question of rainfall, and also the question of power. Before any large migration scheme is allowed for these areas it is the business of the Governments of both countries—this country and East Africa—to increase considerably the present power system, the road and rail systems and the water supply. We all know that the agricultural possibilities of these countries have rot yet been developed to the full, but we cannot expect a hard-working, will-trained and vigorous population to go out to these places unless they have the necessary means and power to do their job to the utmost. Africa—and especially East Africa—is a continent which shows no mercy.

I finished my civilian life in East Africa in 1929, and I spent a very long time and a great deal of money trying to improve two estates. The things which finally finished me were the lack of power, the lack of adequate communications—the only communications consisted of a single-track railway running from the coast 400 miles inland—and lack of water. If in peace time a sufficiency of those essential things cannot be obtained, how can we expect, in a strategic area like that, to run military or naval forces, or to establish supply dumps and food centres? I beg the Government, in view of the present world situation, to consider that matter very seriously. We have not much time to develop our Crown Colonies to the extent to which they should be developed, not from an industrial but from an agricultural-point of view, because we need every ounce of food we can get. To induce the people best able to do the job to go out there, we must assure them of the basic necessities, which I have already mentioned. The other thing which is most necessary is Government financial help, possibly not in direct loans but in direct help in acquiring agricultural machinery. I will not ask your Lordships to listen much longer to me, especially as we have heard many speeches this afternoon about larger parts of the Empire. The noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, has recently visited East Africa, and I am sure that he will bear with me when I say that the necessary migration scheme, to be a real success in these tortuous times, is dependent upon the basic requirements being given by both Governments concerned the attention which they deserve—and that attention is not yet being given.

4.3 p.m.


My Lords, I wish to intervene in this debate for only a short while to make one important point arising from this debate and previous debates on the same subject. Since the war we have had a number of debates on this subject, in the course of which the matter of migration has been gone into very thoroughly indeed, and many constructive suggestions have been made. One would have thought that there would have been some Government action as a result of those suggestions. Unfortunately, it seems to me that there has been very little response on the part of His Majesty's Government to the debates which have taken place. They seem to have had little effect in awakening the interest of His Majesty's Government in this matter. Indeed, the reverse seems almost to have happened, because, contrary to assisting the migrants to go to the Dominions, His Majesty's Government have cut down the dollar allowance that migrants may take when they go to Canada. Reference has already been made to that point. I believe that after the war the allowance was something like £4,000 or £5,000 and now it is only £1,000. As announced in the debate upon this subject last year, the Government have also cut down their contribution to the assisted passages scheme to Australia. Moreover, there is still a big shortage of shipping facilities for migrants going abroad, particularly to Australia, and I do not believe that His Majesty's Government have done much or tried very hard to improve that situation.

On the occasion of every debate which we have had on this subject His Majesty's Government have said that they support migration to the Dominions and want to encourage it. I do not believe that it is enough just to say that one supports migration and then do nothing about it. To carry any conviction at all, the statement must be backed up by action. At the moment, the attitude of His Majesty's Government to this matter is extremely obscure. One does not know whether they would be much happier if there were no migration at all, and would become quietly relieved if people stopped going and stopped pressing the subject, or whether their words are right when they say that they want to see it happen. I feel that they would be doing a great service this afternoon if they could genuinely make their attitude clear, and if they are not in favour of migration say so. It is much better that we should know if they do not approve of it, rather than go floundering on, having debates, making suggestions and getting absolutely no action at all from the Government.

I believe that the desirability of migration from this country to the Dominions is now generally accepted throughout this country as well as overseas, but a small group of people in this country—to which it is possible that His Majesty's Government may belong—oppose migration on the grounds that it will weaken the United Kingdom. The noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, referred to that in his opening speech. They say that migration would only accentuate the man-power shortage which we already have in this country. That would be true if the people going abroad consisted only of the young, productive men and women— people between, I suppose, the ages of eighteen and forty. But no such thing as that is envisaged by those who support migration. The desire is to see a representative cross-section of people going. With migrants consisting of a true cross-section of the people of this country, there would be no danger of upsetting the balance between the productive and unproductive people here, and no damage would be done. I believe that that is not quite the case at present. I believe there are rather too many young and productive people going, and that there is not quite the cross-section which could be desired, although I do not consider that the situation is very serious. If, however, it continued for a long period of time, un-checked, as it is now, it might one day upset the balance between the productive and unproductive people of this country. That, to my mind, is the fault of only His Majesty's Government for not having tackled this problem, and for having allowed migration to carry on in a haphazard way without any agreement as to proportions.

I shall try to explain what I mean. One cannot blame the Dominion Governments for wanting to take only the productive people. They have said that they would be willing to take others as well. But it is for His Majesty's Government to obtain an agreement from them that they will take a fair quota of the old and unproductive people. At the moment, no one over forty-five years of age can qualify under the assisted passages scheme to Australia. There are many people over forty-five years of age who can be extraordinarily useful in Australia and who should bring a good deal of experience and knowledge which young people do not possess. Such an agreement, whereby Dominion Governments would take a reasonable quota of the older people, would be quite reasonable, and it is something to which I am quite certain they would agree. I believe, however, that at present there is no sign that any such agreement does exist.

In addition to this there are also the shipping and housing problems which have still to be overcome. They limit the number of people who can go abroad. These matters are the joint responsibility of the various Dominion Governments and the United Kingdom Government, and not the responsibility of the Dominion Governments alone. This is very much a Commonwealth matter; and it is as much our affair as that of the Dominion Governments to see that means exist for getting people to these countries.

I should like to ask His Majesty's Government whether they will put the matter of emigration on the agenda of the next Prime Ministers' Conference, with a view to two things being discussed: first, ways in which the United Kingdom Government and the Dominion Governments can co-operate to overcome some of the obstacles standing in the way of emigration; and secondly—and this is most important—to obtain an agreement whereby the Dominion Governments will take a fair cross-section of the people of this country and not any one particular section only. I am not saying that they are taking only the young people now; but I believe that they are taking too many, as opposed to people over forty-five. I should like to see some of these people over forty-five included in the assisted passages scheme. But that is a matter which can be discussed only by the Prime Ministers at their Conference.

Reference has been made in this debate (as it was in a debate last year) to the possibility of setting up a. Commonwealth Migration Board. I believe that such a board should be composed of representatives from the various Dominions and not merely from the United Kingdom. That is important, for it would lead to getting the views of the Dominions—which, indeed, would be the main object in having such a board. There is another question which I wish to ask. Can the Government spokesman tell us why the subsidy to the Big Brother Movement was cut off, as I believe it was, just after the war? I feel strongly about this question of migration. It is a matter which affects not merely one country, as a recipient country or otherwise; it is not simply a benefit to one country and a loss to another. It is wrong to regard migration within the Commonwealth in terms of gain or loss to a particular member of the Commonwealth. If we strengthen the Dominions, particularly Australia, we are strengthening ourselves. By putting people where the raw materials and resources are, we can, I believe, gradually increase our chances of outlasting our adversaries in the difficult times which may lie ahead. The Chiefs of Staff in 1946 advocated a certain measure of dispersal of people and of industry throughout the Commonwealth, but their advice has not been taken.

I believe that His Majesty's Government have adopted an insular attitude towards this question of emigration; I do not think they have much confidence in it. I believe that they would rather see the scheme die a natural death. If that is so, it would be better if they were to tell us. On the other hand, if they do believe in migration and are prepared to take the necessary steps without which it cannot succeed as a long-term policy, and give it whole-hearted support, then, so far from making their task more difficult it will make it very much easier.

4.15 p.m.


My Lords, it is surely a good thing that this question should be debated from time to time in your Lordships' House, for it is a most important question and also a most complicated one, bristling with difficulties and full of misunderstandings; and any debate which can elicit from the Government a statement which helps to throw light on some of the difficulties and clear up some of the misunderstandings surely justifies itself.

If he will allow me to say so, I think the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, stated the facts very clearly. Much of what he said was valuable and all of it was interesting. But, as I listened, I confess that I did not feel I was gathering from him any very clear proposals for the solution of the difficulties which he put before your Lordships. In his closing passage he asked the Government to take a lead in this matter. I sometimes get dizzy about the number of matters concerning which the Government are asked to take a lead. It seems to me that nothing can happen in any quarter of the globe without the Government being asked to take a lead. Perhaps if they were to take more of a lead in some of our domestic problems we should get on faster and better. The noble Lord asked them to take a lead and to get together the countries concerned to examine the problems. But surely that must have been done over and over again. I wonder how many times those concerned in this subject have been called into conference or have in some way or other discussed the matter. Surely that can be no very new approach to this problem. I should think the archives of the Colonial Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office must be groaning with the documents which have accumulated from the various discussions on this matter. In the debate to-day, no fewer than four speakers made proposals which would involve Government expenditure. I have no doubt they were worthy proposals and that Government assistance to some of them would be well justified. But I notice that hardly a debate takes place in either House of Parliament without the Government being pressed to reduce their expenditure. Yet they are frequently being asked to find means for various schemes, some of them doubtless very worthy.

The noble Lord, Lord Fairfax of Cameron, spoke of the problem of man-power and of our ability to spare some of our own population. The crux of the matter is this: we are over populated in this country, but at the same time we are short of man-power— and not only of skilled man-power. Even before our rearmament programme was embarked upon we were short of man-power in essential industries such as textiles, agriculture, cotton and so forth. We were very hard put to it indeed for man-power. Now we have to consider not only our export trade but our re-armament programme, the demand for man-power has in the past two months become greater than ever. If we were short of man-power before the rearmament programme began, surely we must be still shorter to-day. I noticed that Lord Fairfax spoke about the desirability of the Commonwealth countries being prepared to receive people over forty-five years of age. From what I have seen, we can to-day find very good use here for people over forty-five years of age. Indeed, I believe I saw in the Press the other day that people of sixty-five ought to be thinking about what they can do to assist the country in its present needs.

The noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir said that half a milion people are registered as wishing to emigrate. I would not for a moment wish to interfere with or in any way fetter the liberty of people to do as they wish, but I ask, can we at this juncture spare half a million people, supposing it were possible for those half a million people to go to-morrow? I should like to ask those who have to put this rearmament programme through, whilst keeping up the export drive, whether or not they could view with equanimity the departure of half a million people from these shores. I do not know. I should be interested to hear something on that subject. If that should be the case, I should like to ask the question: Have we really these vast numbers to spare for emigration at the present moment? I merely put the question. I do not know. We have a proverb in the North Country which runs: My skin is nearer than my shirt. There is one other aspect of this question. I realise that in saying what I have said I have spoken about our needs, but not for one moment because I am in the least unsympathetic to the idea of people from this country going to the Commonwealth countries. Take the case of Australia and New Zealand alone. The people there are essentially our own kith and kin, blood of our blood, flesh of our flesh. They want population, and it would be a matter of deep regret if they had to look for that population in any other direction than to this country.


May I interrupt to say that that is the point? If we can get an adequate number of people of British origin into those Dominions, they can then absorb into the Commonwealth a much larger white population that is now redundant elsewhere, and so raise the economic standard of the Commonwealth and make it stronger.


I appreciate the noble Lord's point perfectly and have great sympathy with it. I am endeavouring to state only what seems to me to be the crux of the problem. Whilst I have great sympathy and a great wish that those countries in need of population should draw their immigrants from this country, I am only asking the question whether, at the present juncture, in view of the rearmament programme and the export drive, we can spare the man-power in the number; that they require, and at the same time fulfil our duties to our own people and preserve the security of our own country. The answer may well be, Yes"—I do not know. I am only endeavouring to put the question.

For my part, with such knowledge as I have of the question, I must confess that I am doubtful if there is a short-term solution of this problem. It seems to me sometimes almost insoluble. So many Governments have tried to solve it. So many men, so many wise men, have put forward proposed solutions. Many have tried to solve the problem, but I must confess, from what I have read, that there seems little that is hopeful in the way of a short-term solution. I can see only a very long-term solution—not the long-term solution of the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, about the girls "getting busy." That may be very praiseworthy on their part, but it would be a little time before they matured into anything of any use in the Commonwealth countries.


They cannot do it by themselves, anyhow!


I think there can be only a very long-term solution to this problem. If we are over-populated but at the same time are short of man-power for our industries, surely the explanation is that we have over-industrialised, that we have built up too much industry in a very small space. Suppose we had to begin again to-day in the light of what we know of modern weapons, should we dream of packing such an enormous industry, requiring so great a man-power, into such a small space—and a small space which is also so vulnerable? Our security depends upon our being able to put through this rearmament programme, but it is difficult to separate what I will call civil industry from industry which is devoted to rearmament. They interlock at so many points. Her; we have this highly vulnerable and very small island possessing so few natural advantages, with this enormous industry and this great need for man-power. I feel sure that, as speakers who have preceded me have either said or hinted at this afternoon, eventually we shall be driven to decentralise many of our industries into the Commonwealth countries. This will settle their under-population problems at the same time as settling our over-population problems. The vulnerability of this island, the fact that so much of our industry is packed into this small space, is a source of weakness. It is a great weakness that one country of the Commonwealth is so vulnerable, as the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, rightly and emphatically pointed out in the course of his speech.

One realises what is involved in decentralising our industry into the Commonwealth countries. To tear up old ties is very painful indeed, but sometimes old ties are like the ivy, which destroys the building that it covers. We are over-industrialised and over-populated; the Commonwealth countries are under-industrialised and under-populated. Also, they have an agriculture capable of great development. Bearing those things in mind, need we view with such dismay or trepidation the idea of decentralising from this country into the Commonwealth countries? After all, what matters is not so much old personal ties, but that the ideals for which we and the Commonwealth countries stand should survive. If survival depends upon a shift of base and a removal of the headquarters of the business from one spot to another, need we repine if that is the price we have to pay for preserving the way of life in which we and the Commonwealth countries believe?

4.29 p.m.


My Lords, I do not intend to keep the House long, but there is one problem which I wish particularly to raise. It arises, as I think the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander, will realise, from my having been recently to New Zealand and Australia. Before I come to that, I should like to say that I agreed with a great part of the speech of the noble Lord who has just sat down, although with another part I did not find myself in such agreement. It crossed my mind that he composed one part of his speech one day, and the other part another day, because they did not seem to "tie up." The noble Lord first of all complained that everybody was pressing the Government to give a lead. That is what the Government are there for. They are elected to give a lead. If we are still going to be a leading nation in the world, as I have no doubt the noble Lord, Lord Winster, wishes us to be, then they must give a lead in world affairs. If, too, we are still going to be the leading nation of the Commonwealth and Empire, as I have no doubt Lord Winster, as well as myself wishes, then they must give a lead in that field as well. There is no escaping whatever from those few sentences which I have just delivered.


If the noble Lord will allow me, all I said was that I often felt bewildered at the number of matters in which the Government are invited to give the lead.


They sometimes look a bit bewildered themselves; but certainly the noble Lord is not alone.

The noble Lord asked whether, if we were to begin again, we should build a Britain as it is now built, with all our huge industrial potential and factory output here, centralised in a very small area. I think the answer is that we should not. The noble Lord said that he thought that eventually that situation had better be rectified. I am one of those who think that you cannot change over populations all in a night, but that you had better go on doing it gradually and all the time. That is what I hope will continue to be done. I am not one who feels that a Britisher is lost to us if he goes to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or anywhere else in the Commonwealth and Empire. He still remains a British subject. It is most attractive, of course, to find nearly all these people, even though they were not born in this country, still talking about this country as home. So long as that attitude remains, they are certainly not lost to the British race. If one looks round and sees the tremendous effort to which this country is committed at the present moment, one may be inclined to say that we cannot spare anyone. But it is no good our offering people to the Dominions during a slump period, when they do not want people and when we find that we have a surplus population, and perhaps some unemployed. That is not the time when one wants to press on the Dominions to take more migrants. We ought to do it all the time, consistently encouraging those who want to go, and doing it alike in good times and in bad. That, I believe, is the only way in which we get a migration policy satisfactory at the same time to this country and to the Dominions.

I am one of those people who think that there are too many people in this Island. I may be coloured in my view by the fact that I was Minister of Food, and knowing that since our own countryside can provide only about half the food for the people, it will always be a constant struggle—and the struggle is going to get worse. The more the people insist upon having—as they are fully justified in doing—the more difficult will it be for us to export to countries overseas in order to pay for the food that we cannot grow here but which we must get for our population. We have in our minds—and we have talked of it to-day—the question of the dollar gap. One of these days we shall be faced with the Australian pound gap. and the New Zealand pound gap, because at the present moment there are accruing very large sterling balances in London and elsewhere in the sterling area. I look upon the situation in this way: first, that we are overpopulated; and, secondly, that if we were unfortunate enough to be landed in another war. we have too many eggs in a bombable basket. Just as it is important, and is so recognised by all Parties in the country, to disperse our factories, so I think it is equally important in the long run to carry out a moderate amount of dispersal of he British race.

My Lords, I come now to the particular problems of New Zealand and Australia. I did not find that New Zealand was pressing very strongly for more migrants. She is taking about 7,000 or so a year. There is a considerable amount of land in New Zealand which can still be cultivated— land which, is not in cultivation now, and land which can be more intensively cultivated than is being done at the moment. That does not apply to some of the best farms, which are farmed just as well as, if not better than, the best farms in this country; I am not referring to this land, I am referring to some of the other lands—


May I remind my noble friend that the average standard of husbandry in New Zealand is undoubtedly higher than the average standard in this country? It is true that we in this country may have more outstanding fanners, but the fact remains (and it has never been contradicted, so far as I know), that the average standard of both animal husbandry and pastoral industry in New Zealand is relatively higher than it is here.


My Lords, I do not think I was saying anything in contradiction of that. I think the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, will agree with me that there are still parts of New Zealand which are not cultivated to-day but which can be cultivated; and that there are other parts which are now cultivated but which can be more intensively cultivated than they are.


Hear, hear.


One of the things from which they are suffering is a shortage of labour, and if they could get more labour they might be able still further to cultivate their land. I assure the noble Lord that I was casting no reflection upon the good New Zealand farmers.

In regard to Australia, one realises that the position in 1951 is quite different from that obtaining when I had the honour to be there in 1938. Then there was an antipathy towards the entry into the country of a large number of immigrants. For better or for worse a number of the trade unions were then against it. Now, however, in Australia every political party, and the trade unions as well, are in favour of much greater immigration. They have all realised how very naked they were when, because we were occupied elsewhere, they were left not so well supported as we should have liked them to be when the Japanese came sweeping down through Malaya, Burma and other places. They want to keep Australia what I may term a white man's country. They do not want to fall into the difficult problem that faces different parts of the British Commonwealth in South Africa. They explained that point fully at the Conference to our friends from India, Pakistan and Ceylon. But they also realise that they cannot do that with a land that is empty. The policy of the Australian Government is to try to get another 200,000 immigrants a year. They would like at least half that number to be British. If they could take them all British they would like that, but they want to have at least half British.

Last year, they took 80,000 from this country "and 100,000 from other parts of Europe. They are taking, and properly taking, a large number of displaced persons, whom we are all delighted to see going, after all their travels and tribulations, to settle in such a place as Australia. But the Australian authorities still wish to keep a big British element. I think we ought to go hand in hand with the Australian Government, and, so far as we can, try to help them to achieve their aim. I am not suggesting that we should send people out there compulsorily; I am urging that we should give help to those who want to go. I believe that the understanding, or the agreement, or whatever it is, by which we have paid a part of the passage money of migrants, is shortly to be reviewed. We have, I believe, been paying £27 or £27 10s., and the Australian Government have been paying £75 of the passage money of the migrant. We were told that there have been some indications—I will not put it higher than that—that the British Government might be reluctant to continue their contribution. I very much hope that that is not the case. We are paying only about a quarter, and I think we ought to continue paying that. The Australian authorities themselves—so the responsible Minister told me—are quite prepared to take family units. I think if we go on paying our part of the fares, as we should do, and also secure the agreement of the Australian Government to take family units, even though these include people who are over forty-five years of age, that will be all to the good.

The great advantage of having a family unit is that the young migrant does not get homesick after he or she has gone abroad. If migrants go abroad alone, it may be that a fond mother or father may write saying how very much they are missed, and how much those at home wish they were back to take part in the Christmas rejoicings. Perhaps the letter states that at the next party there will be so-and-so present, and that "You are the only one of the family away, and it causes us all such distress." A person receiving such a letter may, not unnaturally, feel sad at being away from home at such a time, and may say to himself: "I have saved up enough to pay my passage back, and I will go home again." But if the father and mother are in Australia, that kind of letter will not be written at all. The members of the family will all gather round at Christmas out in Australia just as happily and comfortably as they could in this country. I hope that we shall try, not only for economic reasons but for the commonsense reason of keeping families together, to encourage this family migration; and I trust that when our Government and the Australian Government get together we shall continue to play our part in helping this good migration scheme, which I am certain—taking the long view —is as good for this country as it is for the whole of the rest of the Commonwealth.

4.45 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure we all agree that we owe a debt of gratitude to Lord Tweedsmuir for having initiated this debate to-day. It has brought forth a number of interesting suggestions which the Government will study with care. It also seems to me to have brought to light the fact that there is some misunderstanding in the minds of certain noble Lords as to the policy of His Majesty's Government. This found its most extreme expression in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Fairfax of Cameron, who intimated that we wished emigration from this country to die. In these circumstances I am glad to have the opportunity of explaining to the House exactly what our policy is. First of all, may I say that the overseas migration of the British people for the last 300 years has been a factor of utmost importance in world history? It is the largest migration of its type that has ever been known. It has been mainly voluntary; not always entirely voluntary, of course, but mainly so. It has formed and built up the British Commonwealth and Empire, and it has established the United States of America as an English-speaking nation originally of British stock. These two factors are factors which have the most profound significance in our life to-day.

Not only was there the original migration, but there has been continuous migration over the years, and that affords the interplay of relationships of which the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, has spoken. It has also done a great deal to maintain the strength and solidarity of the Commonwealth, and to maintain the ties and the sympathy which have for so long existed between us and the United States. Our general policy is this. First, we have always maintained, and will maintain, a great interest in Commonwealth migration. We think, with the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, and other noble Lords who have spoken, that migration should consist of a reasonable cross-section of the community. We realise, of course, that this cross-section will naturally be weighted in favour of young men, though strangely enough—no doubt as a result of the outflow of war brides—just after the war more women than men were emigrating. But I think that was only a temporary phenomenon. Normally, there will be more young men than young women going overseas. As Lord Winster has pointed out, the position in this country to-day is very different from the position in which the country found itself between the two wars. Then there was heavy and apparently permanent unemployment —all the nostrums of the sages were quite unable to reduce it, and suggestions made by the Party now occupying these Benches were not only overlooked but often derided. To-day the position is entirely different. As Lord Winster pointed out, we have a large rearmament programme to undertake, on top of the economic difficulties with which the country finds itself faced. Therefore, the position is not the same as it was between the two wars. And we have to look at it continually from the point of view of current events and the strain upon our own resources, always realising that we shall do our utmost to continue this flow of migration which we recognise has played such a great part in world history.

The policy of the United Kingdom has, in fact, been unchanged since 1943. And it was summed up in the statement made by the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations in another place on June 13 last. I think I had better quote his words; they represent the latest statement from an authoritative source summing up the Government's position. Mr. Gordon-Walker said: The solidarity and increasing strength of the Commonwealth depends on the increasing migration of people from this country to those countries who wish to receive our migrants. We must take account of the fact that countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada will in any case be receiving migrants from other than British sources, and it is all the more important that there should be an adequate flow of British migrants to those countries, if they will have them. Our firm policy is to facilitate and to encourage the outflow of all those people who wish to leave these islands, although we cannot compel them to go to the countries who wish to receive them. That is not just a formal policy which we state and re-state. We have in fact been carrying it out with vigour. When I went into this question it seemed to me exceedingly interesting that the migration is two-way—a fact mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir. Although the weightage is in the outward direction from the United Kingdom, there is a surprisingly large migration to this country from Commonwealth countries. We welcome that, for reasons which the noble Lord gave. As he said, it is an interplay of tides.

Migration must depend on the circum-stances prevailing at any time. The Report of the Royal Commission on Population states that a net outflow of 100,000 people has comparatively unimportant effects on the distribution of United Kingdom population. But it depends on the birth rate. If there is a poor replacement rate, emigration tends to aggravate the distortion of the age position. Too many young people leaving the country will leave too many old people here, with a consequent disproportion of age groups, although the emigration of a fairly large number of young men has not so serious an effect on the proportion of age groups as one would think. It was a surprise to me, though it may not be to noble Lords who are better informed, to learn that more male children than female children are born. The only reason we hear of the so-called "surplus" of women is because the male population is reduced by wars, emigration and the need of men to go to Colonial Services in unhealthy regions; but that is not normal. In the presumably unlikely event of there being no more wars in future, the male population would naturally exceed the female population. We think that in existing circumstances the maintenance of a flow of migrants of about 100,000 a year would have no substantial effect upon the proportion of age groups in this country, and this is a figure which this country could well afford.

What is the attitude of the Commonwealth Governments towards migration? From their point of view immigration has to be well-balanced. The migrants have to be integrated with their economic systems. The Commonwealth Governments have housing problems, agricultural settlement problems, and the like, all of which have to be considered by them when they are deciding on the maximum number of immigrants they can encourage to enter their territories. The Australian Government, attach the greatest importance to building up Australia's population, and they have set a population target of 10,000,000 in 1960, as compared with their present population of just over 8,000,000. As the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, said, the programme aims at an intake of 200,000 a year, and of this total they hope that some 80,000 will come from this country. Since the war the Australian and New Zealand Governments have co-operated in promoting migration, and free and assisted passage schemes came into operation in 1947. This agreement expires on the 30th of this month, and the question of its renewal or extension, or even of its non-renewal, is now under discussion with the Australian Government, The figure which the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, gave, of the amount of assistance given to emigrants, was not quite right: we pay £25 a head. So far, the net number of people who have gone from the United Kingdom to Australia has risen from 4,460 in 1946 to 47,083 in 1950, with a total over the five years of 137,459. That represents a steep rise during the post-war years.

New Zealand has a traditional preference for migrants from this country, as the noble Lord has said. Since July, 1947, New Zealand has operated, at her own expense, free and assisted passage schemes for young single men and women. The average intake has been 2,500 a year, but the programme has been enlarged in recent months, and a minimum target of 10,000 immigrants per annum has been set. All migrants selected here are to receive free passages, and a proportion of married applicants up to 45 years of age will be taken. Recruitment also takes place in certain Continental countries. The net annual number who went from the United Kingdom to New Zealand rose from 3,983 in 1946 to 7,479 in 1950, there being a total of 25,607 for five years.

The flow of emigrants to Canada is declining. Undoubtedly at the end of the war there was a rush of war brides, and a number of ex-Service men who were stationed in Canada decided to return or remain there. I am told that this is the real reason for the decline, and not that given by the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, who attributed it to the fact that emigrants could take a maximum capital of £1,000, transferable only, except by permission of the Treasury, in four annual instalments. I am told on good authority that this restriction has not made an appreciable difference to the number of emigrants who seek to go to Canada.


I do not want unnecessarily to interrupt the noble Lord, but I should like to point out that in 1948, 46,000 people went to Canada, and in 1949 only 22,000 went—a drop of 24,000. The war had been over quite a long time by then.


But it took a long time to send all the war brides and their children to Canada after the end of the war. The shipping difficulties immediately after the war meant that two or three years elapsed before there was a clearance of war brides. I am informed that the £1,000 restriction has not stopped many people from going to Canada. The average emigrant is lucky to have as much as £1,000 capital. Usually he does not possess that amount.


I raised that point in Ottawa with the Minister of Immigration. He said that there had been few applications because those who would be subject to that restriction, knowing the regulations, did not apply. I am convinced from our information that it has affected the migration of a large number of people.


That may be so; that is a hypothesis on which no one can say either "yea" or "nay." The restriction has meant that some emigrants have not gone to Canada, but it has not made all that difference to the flow of the type of emigrant that Canada would like. The noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, asked what difference there would be in the number of migrants if a larger sum of capital were allowed. It is calculated that if the limit were raised to £2,000, it would involve an annual liability of £5,500,000, plus an additional non-recurrent payment of £6,500,000 to those who had gone out in previous years. The total sum estimated would be of the order of £12,000,000. If, contrary to expectation, the concession led to an increase in the number of migrants the liability would be proportionately greater. This is a matter of detail, and perhaps we may take it up later, if it is so desired, as I do not want to spend too much time on it now.

The Canadian Minister of whom the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, has just spoken has mentioned a target for 1951 of 150,000 immigrants from all sources, and the possibility that of this number 30,000 might come from this country. My figures are not quite the same as those of the noble Lord, but there is not much in it. In 1946, 43,414 went out from this country to Canada; in 1950, the number was down to 6,613; and the total is 105,821 over the five years. The noble Lord asked me how much has been transferred as emigrants' funds to the Canadian dollar account. I am told that the total amount transferred for the three years 1948, 1949 and 1950 was £16,500,000. As to a further question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, I regret to say that I cannot obtain from the Treasury the amount of general capital transferred since the war. They inform me that a quite disproportionate amount of work would be entailed in ascertaining that sum, and that, in any case, they have not had time to go into it since the noble Lord spoke to me.

The Union of South Africa shows the most steeply graded decline of all. Since the termination of the State-sponsored scheme there has been a very heavy fall indeed, and in 1950 only 600 emigrants net went. There is a substantial outward movement from the Union to Southern Rhodesia and to the British Colonies in East Africa.


Only 600 from the United Kingdom to the Union?


That is a net figure. All these figures are net figures: there is an inflow as well as an outflow.


Has the noble Lord any up-to-date figures with regard to Southern Rhodesia?


I am going to give those. The net annual movement to the Union from the United Kingdom for 1948 was 24,329; in 1949 it fell to 5,944; and in 1950 it was only 601. Your Lordships will see that there is a steep fall there. The noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe—to whom we were all delighted to listen; he seemed to be in extraordinarily good form, in spite of the fact that he said he was not feeling very well —asked about Southern Rhodesia. Since the war, Southern Rhodesia has absorbed over 60,000 settlers. The Colony's population has been raised from about 75,000 to 135,000, and as a result considerable strain has been imposed upon the Colony's resources—I feel sure that the noble Viscount, Lord Portman, will agree. In 1948 they raised the capital sums required before an immigrant could enter (this is an interesting variation from the Canadian position) from £1,000 to £1,500 per immigrant, but the flow has continued. Recently, a greater part of the flow has been from the Union of South Africa, and more than one-quarter of those who have gone into Southern Rhodesia from South Africa have been Afrikaans-speaking. This position has given the Southern Rhodesian Government some cause for concern, and in September, 1950, they slated as follows: Whereas in 1948 50 per cent. of our immigrants had been domiciled in the United Kingdom, 38 per cent. in the Union of South Africa and 12 per cent. elsewhere, during the first six months of 1950 less than 22 per cent. came from the United Kingdom whilst almost 69 per cent. came from the Union of South Africa. When I went into these figures I noticed another interesting fact—namely, that no fewer than 66 per cent. of the immigrants went to two towns, Salisbury or Bulawayo. It may be that they went there and stayed for a short time and then went out to the farms. But it seemed to me that a striking proportion of those whom one would normally expect to go to the rural areas were going to those two towns; because they are not great industrial centres. I do not know what is the explanation of that, but it is a curious fact to see in statistics.


Probably a good deal of the reason for their remaining in the towns of Salisbury and Bulawayo was due to the time of the year at which they arrived. It must be remembered (I went through it myself in 1924) that if you arrive in those two areas in about the month of October, until the following February or March you may receive anything up to sixty inches of rain. It is not encouraging, with the state of roads and rivers in that country, to move very far out of urban districts.


Is it not also partly due to the fact that there is a serious lack of accommodation in rural areas, which is now, however, gradually being made up, and that in the towns there is more adequate accommodation?


I am sure that both of those suggestions are likely to be true, and provide an explanation of the situation. It simply struck me as being rather extraordinary. I hope that it does not mean that the people we want to go to these places—that is to say, people who are used to working on the land—are not going, and that too many town dwellers are. At all events, the net figure of migrants of British nationality to Southern Rhodesia in 1948 was 4,094, and in 1950 it had fallen to 1,317: for the three years 1948–50 there was a total of 8,209.

We do encourage emigration from this country. We encourage it by the publicity undertaken by the Commonwealth Governments themselves in this country. We assist them in various ways, by making the Commonwealth better known and by distributing material; and the Ministry of Labour provide the Australian, New Zealand and Southern Rhodesian authorities with facilities at the labour exchanges which I am sure they find valuable. I said that I would give the total flow, as the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, called it, and I think the figures are rather striking. The total figures of the movement to and from the other parts of the Commonwealth for the five years 1946 to 1950 are as follows: outward from the United Kingdom, 579,307; inward, 263,469. The net movement was, therefore, 315,838. Noble Lords will see that there is considerable migration to this country, which is as we should desire, because we like having our fellow citizens from overseas coming here. These figures, I may say, cover migration anywhere in the Commonwealth, and not merely to the old Dominions. Since the war, 1,000 children have gone to Australia for training at approved institutions; 180 children are undergoing training at the Fairbridge Memorial College in Southern Rhodesia, and there are 76 children at the Fairbridge Farm School in Canada.

I was asked by the noble Lord, Lord Fairfax, about the Big Brother Movement. Over 500 youths between sixteen and seventeen years of age have been accepted for farm and other work in Australia. Both Governments ceased contributing to this scheme. It was felt that the Government should not assist a voluntary organisation of this kind. It is not that this is not the best of objects, or that it is not run in a perfectly satisfactory way, but simply that it is felt that Government funds should not be used for a voluntary purpose.


I believe that before the war the subsidy used to be paid out of the Empire Settlemen Fund. I understand that there is £3,000,000 available to be spent yearly and that none of it has been spent.


I will look into that question and see what the position is. There is one matter to which I should like to refer, although no noble Lord has mentioned it. It is a matter in which I have a great personal interest, and it is the teachers' exchange scheme. Before the war there used to be nearly 200 teachers passing each way, and only recently—indeed, a few weeks ago—I received ninety-six teachers who were over here from the Commonwealth countries. They had a short course in London, and I could not help being struck by the wonderful work that the League of Commonwealth and Empire (who organise the transfer of teachers) does in this field. All the people I spoke to were most enthusiastic about the opportunity they had of seeing our country. Of course, most of them are ladies, because it is difficult for married men teachers to go abroad for a year or two. When these teachers go back I am quite sure that the impact they make on their communities is of the utmost value to us and to them.

The noble Lord, Lord Barnby, asked about social services for migrants. This is a very important matter indeed, which has a greater impact upon the minds of intending settlers than almost anything else. Generally speaking, the immigrant does qualify for social services, subject to certain conditions. Obviously, he is not going to qualify for old age pension when he gets to the country. In the case of Australia, I think he has to have lived there for twenty years, or something of that kind. Therefore, the social service that he requires may not always be open to him immediately, although it may be open to him if he has lived there for a certain number of years. Generally speaking, however, the social services that are there and which a young person would require—hospital services and the like— are available to him as if he were a resident or one who had been born in the country. But this is a matter which is somewhat complicated, and if the noble Lord wishes I should be pleased to go into it with him. The noble Lord, Lord Fairfax of Cameron, asked me a question about shipping. I am advised that all the ships for Australia and New Zealand are heavily booked, and that there is a waiting list. Canada, South Africa, and Southern Rhodesia do not make special arrangements for migrant shipping. They believe that the existing lines can take care of the position quite satisfactorily.


Would the noble Lord use his influence to see that the ships going direct to Canada stop at Halifax?


I will look into that point. The question of industrial migration was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, and the noble Lord, Lord Barnby. There are difficulties here. The Government do not feel that this is a field in which they can properly use their influence or exert pressure. In these days the movement of industries must be subject to exchange and export controls. It is a wide and an important field. As has already been said by the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, a large number of firms in this country have already established branches in Commonwealth countries. Finally, may I say that a large number of suggestions have been made in this debate. We shall examine them carefully. We shall go into them to see whether there is any way in which we can meet your Lordships' desires. If there are points which, owing to the time, I have not been able to clear up, I will write to the noble Lords who raised them and will do my best to see that they have a full, compete and satisfactory answer.

5.15 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to thank all those who have spoken in this debate to-day, and I think most noble Lords will agree with me that we are very grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, who disobeyed his doctor to come here. There has been a large measure of agreement, and I should like to thank the noble Lord who replied for the Government for a careful reply, into which he had obviously put a great deal of thought. I should lice to point out to him two things. From a certain amount of experience in Canada, I entirely disagree with his interpretation of the reduction of the figures for Canadian emigration. I would dissociate myself from any suggestion of pressure for the migration of industry. It is for the Government to devise a scheme of encouragement, not coercion. We have had an interesting debate, and I have gathered some few crumbs of comfort. I think most noble Lords who have listened to it will agree that our discussion has been of fairly considerable value, and in view of that I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

House adjourned during pleasure.

House resumed.