§ 3.30 p.m.
§ Mr. LEVY
I beg to move,That this House notes with satisfaction that the question of migration and settlement within the Empire is being carefully examined by a departmental committee and, in view of the importance of the problem, urges that the committee's report should be laid upon the Table of the House at the earliest possible moment.I hope the House will agree that this matter is one of profound importance. Just as mal-distribution and the lack of co-ordination and of development of our natural resources created the water problem, so that simile can be applied to this problem. May I first examine the position as we find it at home? The National Government, I consider, has done marvellous work in reducing unemployment, but I am convinced that we shall all admit that, even under the most favourable conditions, we shall have 1,000,000 or 1,500,000 as a permanent unemployment figure in this country, especially when one takes into consideration the fact that approximately from 400,000 to 450,000 children of the age of 14 leave school and are put upon the labour market.
I am convinced that the inherited British characteristic of adventure in hundreds of thousands of young men and women in this country is not dead. One does not suggest that one ought to focus their minds particularly upon unemployment when thinking of emigration, but there is no doubt that a number of young men and young women who are now in employment, but who feel that they cannot make sufficient advance, would be quite prepared to go abroad, provided that the opportunities were available, in the hope of seeking their fortune in the same way as many of their forebears have done. Therefore, this problem becomes still more important. I know I shall be told that in the Colonies and Dominions there is still unemployment; I know I shall be told that nothing can be done until conditions improve very considerably out there. But in spite of that I venture to raise this question of oversea settlement, because, with great respect, I want to make a suggestion to the House and to the Inter-Departmental Committee which is now considering this matter.
In reviewing the various schemes of oversea settlement, it seems to me that 1118 they have rather lacked what I might call the business quality. That is not intended to be any reflection upon those who have helped to devise the schemes, but politics and business do not mix well as a rule, and it is not easy to eliminate or subordinate politics in considering any problem which has hitherto been handled by politicians. That, again, is not intended to be any reflection upon politicians; I suppose I am one myself; but, while I have a high regard for the competent statesman and his statecraft, I do not believe that he is necessarily the best man to direct, for instance, a jam factory. He may be able to make a verbal sweetness with outstanding success, but the material jam for the pot, for the table, and for the family, something you can feel and flavour in the mouth, and not an intangible verbal sweetness—that is another matter. As one who is not without a little business training and experience, I would invite the House to view the British Commonwealth as a great business enterprise, in which each of the Dominions is a working partner. There are possibilities of enormous development. New lands are waiting to be opened up and cultivated, agriculturally and industrially; in short, the business can be greatly expanded. We have the territories and the natural resources, we have good human material, we have the money for initial development. What use have we made of them so far? Very little. What use are we going to make of them?
The argument which I respectfully submit to the House, and to the Committee which is dealing with oversea settlement, is that the problem should be approached and examined from an Imperial business point of view. I want to suggest that Imperial commissions should be appointed to prospect on the spot as to the possibilities of each Dominion or Dependency. Each commission should consist, not of politicians, but of business men—farmers, surveyors, financiers, transport experts, and so on—and should investigate the potentialities of every area thought to be suitable from the point of view of produce, marketing, transport, building, finance, communal amenities and so on, and report to the Governments concerned. Each commission should prepare a scheme of settlement for the Dominion or any part of 1119 a Dominion which it investigated. There is no reason why two or three commissions—they might be sub-commissions of a main commission—should not be got to work simultaneously in various parts of the Empire.
I do not know how the Committee which is now sitting is doing its work, but it is essential that the problems of oversea settlement should be studied at first hand on the spot, and that such examination should be done by competent and experienced people, who would frame schemes based on first-hand knowledge and facts, and not on second-hand knowledge or theory. The cost of these commissions would be a matter of arrangement between our own Government and the Government or State concerned on the other side, but in any case it would be a minute fraction in relation to the valuable progress that should follow from such an impartial and exhaustive investigation. Recently my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary for the Dominions said in this House that it was not the policy of the Government to hand out cut-and-dried schemes of settlement to the Dominions, and I agree that such a course would prejudice any scheme from the start; but that is really an argument for practical examination on the spot. Two or three travelling commissions would, I submit, help enormously in removing local difficulties, and would add greatly to the knowledge of all concerned. They would do their work free from political atmosphere, and on a basis of making the development of these great lands a good economic proposition, a means to the happiness of thousands of families, and thereby a mighty contribution to the stability and prosperity of the Empire.
The Agent-General for South Australia, Mr. Lionel Hill, made a statement a few weeks ago which I think reinforces my argument. He said that in Australia the administration of the migration laws rested first with the Commonwealth in the matter of immigration to Australia, and secondly, and by far the most important, the question of settlement rested with the Governments of the States. I do not know if the State Governments have been adequately consulted in previous discussions on settlement, but it is obvious that they ought to be. Is it not time that we genuinely got down to this problem, not by the methods of 1120 cumbersome Government negotiations—that would have to come later, of course, on broad principles—but by some such means as I have described, with personal examination of each problem in the areas reviewed. The world is hungry for expansion. It is weary of the suffering of restriction. If we do not try to develop speedily the resources of the Empire, other countries will want to do it. There is already jealousy in the world of the broad and potentially rich lands within the British Empire which await the transforming work of the settler. We must do it in order to safeguard our Imperial future. At present there is what I might call an ebb tide in migration. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade stated a few days ago that during last year the number of British immigrants into the United Kingdom from other parts of the British Empire exceeded the number of British migrants to those countries by nearly 24,000. That is reversing with a vengeance what ought to be the normal and proper process.
Under the Empire Settlement Act the Government is authorised to spend up to £3,000,000 a year on migration. It seems indeed a critical commentary on Imperial statesmanship that, when we are ready to spend the money, while we have these great virgin lands awaiting development and while we have a formidable surplus of population, we should be able to do little or nothing in the direction of co-ordinating all three for the common good. An immense reward awaits the British Commonwealth when this has been accomplished. Let us, therefore, examine the problem in detail as it is in every part of the Empire, for it is not a common problem. It varies. Above all, let us do it now and not be afraid to invest time, energy and capital in it for it is a gilt-edged security in which all the partners and the shareholders of the British Commonwealth Trust can participate.
§ Mr. HENDERSON STEWART
Will the hon. Member develop the concrete suggestion that he made about commissions. Who is to appoint them and to whom would they be responsible?
§ 3.49 p.m.
§ Mr. LYONS
I beg to second the Motion.
This is the third time within the last three or four weeks that this matter has 1121 been discussed, and I think my hon. Friend need offer no apology for directing his Motion towards the considerations of this all transcending topic. Upon the proper distribution of the peoples of the Empire must depend the future prosperity of the Empire itself. The great problem which awaits us all, and to which consideration must be directed, is that of reconciling the possession of great congested cities with great open spaces; reconciling those vast opportunities in the far flung possessions of the Empire, all under the same flag, with the tremendous amount of energy which is now lying idle in great multitudes of our people, employed as well as unemployed. It is a very important matter which should not be regarded exclusively with the question of unemployment.
The settlement of our people in this country and in the Empire is a matter not only connected with unemployment, and we do not regard this and the way we seek to discuss our various schemes of settlement merely as a matter whereby we can divest ourselves of any of the unemployed problem as such. There is not the slightest doubt that the question which is now happily engaging the attention of the Government in this connection is one of the most vitally important of all the Empire problems which have to be considered. The peopling of gigantic empty territories containing hundreds of thousands of square miles, offering colossal opportunities to those who go on that great adventure, is a matter which must be worthy of the greatest care and the greatest discussion which this House and the Government can give it, because the solid fact is that those vast possibilities to all sections of the community are now going untapped for lack of population. Not one Dominion has the population that it needs to carry on its own overhead establishment and its own political, social and material institutions. It is not a question of the flow of British people going out. The tragedy to-day lies in the flow of people back to this country. In 1913, which was the last real emigration year, something like 285,000 people of British nationality went to various parts of the British Empire. It is an outflow such as this, and the growth of the self-governing parts of the Empire which justifies this country being called the "nursery of new nations."
1122 Many opinions are put forward, for social or economic reasons, why migration has gone down. We have to face the fact that the longer the lapse, the more urgent becomes the problem. I remember hearing it said by various people in authority at Ottawa last summer that the numerical preponderance of British stock, gauged by every piece of available evidence, is now steadily shrinking. When we think of the pioneer work that has been done by British people in British Dominions in years gone by and think of the state of affairs disclosed by that observation, it makes many of us think that for too long this very great and important question has been shelved by those who are responsible.
We are not dealing with an ordinary political assembly. We are dealing with an Empire the like of which has never been known before, an Empire flung all over the world, with illimitable territories, embracing a population of more than a quarter of the world's people under one flag. In those territories you have, for instance, the great empty North of Australia which various nations are watching with jealous eyes and teeming millions. We have opportunities for expansion in every one of the Empires which make our Commonwealth of British nations. We see a nation like New Zealand, one of our smallest Dominions. Its area is twice that of England. Yet it had a population at the last census of about 1,500,000 souls. The Dominion of Canada, territorially as big as, or bigger than, the United States of America, has a population of about that of Greater London. When we realise that fact, and how essential it is for the purposes of Empire trade and Empire unity, we see how necessary it is to keep the British Empire peopled with our own stock. I express the fervent hope that the Committee which has been set up, or is about to be set up by the present Government, will explore every avenue and examine with real endeavour every means of approach to embarking upon this great problem in a large and courageous way.
It is said that the time is not ripe for migration. I hope that this House will remember the statement which was made a short time ago by Mr. Beattie, President of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, an organisation which is the very backbone of the Dominion of 1123 Canada, and which has perhaps done more to develop that Dominion than any other institution has done anywhere else in the world. Mr. Beattie, with all the knowledge and authority he possesses, recently expressed the view that the time is now ripe for a policy of moderate, well-planned migration in the Dominion of Canada. Let us remember that Canada consists of a number of provinces each one having industrial and agricultural work. The Dominion has recently started upon a new main arterial road from the Atlantic to the Pacific. These are institutions with which we could associate ourselves, our people and our capital, if we could only probe into this matter and find out what it is that stops the migration of people from this country to this land of great promise. The first thing to remember is that if we get British stock into a new country that new population does not bring a liability to the country, but becomes an asset. Settlers of British stock in a British Dominion become consumers and producers and bring purchasing power into the country and increase the opportunity of that country to spend money with us.
There are many organisations which have done very good work in the cause of migration. My hon. Friend sitting below me just now asked whether my hon. Friend who moved the Motion would introduce one or two concrete schemes into the discussion this afternoon. Each one of those voluntary societies has had, in a comparatively small but successful way, a great deal to do with successful settlement. It is not long since we saw a scheme outlined by the Salvation Army, an organisation to whom we are glad to pay our tribute for the work it has done in other parts of the British Empire as well as at home. There is a movement known as the Big Brother movement which has been extremely useful in a small but efficient way. It has been circumscribed by circumstances, and has not been able to enjoy the scope which we should like for such a movement which has all the ideas, material and plant available to enjoy. No one claims to have an exclusive solution of the matter, but all those voluntary societies have done excellent work. We had a scheme superintended by the Overseas Settlement Board some years ago—the 3,000 family scheme. I believe that in Canada 1124 it has proved to be the most successful scheme of voluntary settlement the Dominion has ever known. One of the successes of that scheme was the settlement by families after really careful, prudent, rational selection by the board.
Another scheme of migration which was started with a great flourish of trumpets some years ago was known as the Quarter Section scheme in which the Government of this country and the Dominion Government in Canada took certain parts. It was a good scheme. It meant that each quarter section in Canada, inhabited by families, four forming a section, made a little township which began with four homesteads, and which invited the establishment of a little store, a post office, and a little filling station. I have been right through Canada and have seen how those little centres have grown into successful trading concerns. That alas is now at an end, and you do not come to any family quarter section settlement for a long time. To mention a few other schemes which have been universally successful, I would say a word about the Hudson Bay scheme whereby each man was trained, and, when considered efficient for Canadian purposes and work, was put on to his own holding in Alberta. The Canadian Pacific Railway had a similar scheme, and there was a scheme started for juveniles in Nova Scotia by two or three gentlemen of England who were full of public spirit. They had a farm on which they trained young boys who had gone there from blind-alley occupations in this country. They trained a few at a time under first-class conditions and with every care, and they became good Canadian citizens. I look back with pleasant recollections to the time when I stayed with those boys on the farm in Nova Scotia and visited two or three farms of men who had come from that training farm and had become good successful Canadian citizens. Those are examples of what can be done.
We ask ourselves what is the position? Why is it not done now? One of the reasons why I think there has been this lag in migration is the complete lack of social services in the Dominions as we know them in this country to-day. We can take pride in the fact that, having negotiated the most unexampled crisis that this country has ever known in its finances, we have continued at a higher social level than any other nation in the 1125 world. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Dominions was instrumental some years ago in an arrangement whereby certain pensions payable to British subjects in this country should remain payable to those persons if they chose to go with their families overseas. As far as I know—and I hope that my hon. Friend on the Front Bench will stop me if I am incorrect—the system obtains to-day whereby a pensioner may receive his pension if he is living with his family in one of the Dominions.
I shall never tire of saying, until it is proved to be impossible, that it is a thousand pities that some scheme cannot be effected whereby every insured man in this country, whether in work or out of work, who desires to go to the Dominions would be examined by a properly constituted board, with the personnel of which I will deal in a moment, and have the right to take with him a capitation or capitalised value of the benefit he surrenders when he leaves these shores. It is a very easy matter actuarially to settle in regard to the amount of his contribution and the amount which he has not drawn out to his general benefit, and to let the Treasury have a scheme on which the amount due to the man can be based. I do not suggest that it should be paid in cash to be lost perhaps the night before embarkation, but, if such capitalisation be made, and if the commutation be had of the benefits which he would be entitled to take with him, I have not the slightest doubt that the Canadian Government, in the case of an approved person would give some contribution themselves. The whole of the money, the Canadian grant as well as the amount from this country, could be taken to the Dominion, capitalised in value and administered by the Canadian Government, who would at once have him received as a capitalist in the new country. If so administered, and with the knowledge that those settlers would be properly looked after, you would have a very successful venture.
I indicate that as a scheme which I would like to see examined and criticised. I think that it is wrong to expect the most zealous in this country, whether employed or unemployed, knowing the responsibility of family ties and so on, knowing the benefits to which they can become eligible in days of difficulties, to give up all those rights and take the re- 1126 sponsibility of a gamble by going overseas where they know that no similar rights exist and where there are not the social services that we have in this country. It is a risk we cannot expect them to take, whatever the chance of success may be in the country to which they go. I do believe that if we could adopt some such principle, we should find that one of our great difficulties would be overcome.
The next thing we have to realise—and I want to repeat that, in my respectful submission, no part of this problem can be gauged from the one angle of unemployment—is that if you have a man with some such grant behind him, and some such opportunity awaiting him, you must not let him think, merely because he takes a trip across the Atlantic, that he will make a successful agricultural settler in a Dominion. That is a fallacy through which a great deal of money has been wasted and a great deal of misfortune caused. Perhaps I may be allowed for a moment to refer to a personal experience three or four years ago in the middle West of Canada. One of the most unfortunate and sad experiences I have ever had was when I had talks with a number of men who were in the migration hostel in Winnipeg awaiting deportation to England—men who had gone out with their families full of hope, ideas and ambition, ready and willing to work, having cost this country and the country to which they had gone, under the scheme then in existence, a good deal of money. And there they were waiting to return to this country. They had failed through no fault of theirs, and through no lack of opportunity, but because they were men who were never fitted for the work to which they had been sent. Those men would come back and spread among their friends in this country stories of failure in Canada, and of condemnation of the Middle West which were not justified. I tell that experience to my hon. Friends in order to make clear this point that, with the best will in the world, with the best scheme in the world, it is of no use unless you have a really good method of selection by somebody competent to select the right persons going to the right work in a Dominion.
I remember some years ago the Overseas Settlement Board started county 1127 migration committees under the county councils. I was asked to serve, and did serve on one of those committees. We did not get very far; I do not think they have had a meeting for the last two, three or four years. A body of men more incapable of making a selection of settlers for the Dominions I could not conceive. I would like to see, arising out of the Motion, an Empire Economic Council always in session, with a special committee charged only with the question of selection of migrants, with men on the committee who know the areas to which the proposed settlers would go and whence they came, and the kind of work in each one of those various Dominions, because when you are dealing with our Dominions you are dealing not with a small, compressed country like the North or South of England, or England itself, but you are dealing with large provinces in another country. There is as much difference between the West or the East of Canada as there is between any two other countries thousands of miles apart. It is not a bit of good unless you have proper selection, and I would urge that one part of the work of the committee now considering the whole of this scheme should be the maintenance of a committee charged exclusively with the very difficult question of selectivity. I believe that you could get proper support from steamship companies and from the Dominions, and I believe that you could get a small committee with expert knowledge to examine with the most meticulous care every person who, with or without any benefit, sought to become a settler in a Dominion, and so put an end once and for all to the idea that a trip across the Atlantic will make a first-class settler. That kind of idea does a tremendous amount of harm to migration as a whole.
Let me refer for a moment to the great work which most of us in this House know has been done in recent months by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft). No one has been more sincere, no one more zealous in his research in this great question of Empire settlement than my hon. and gallant Friend. A scheme has been submitted by him, and, those who have the privilege of being associated with him, for a chain of community settlements, and I do believe that, in addition to whatever may be the success of in- 1128 dividual migration, some chain of territorial or community settlements on the basis of the 3,000 family scheme to which I have referred must be a cardinal factor in any successful scheme of migration. There must be no chance of isolation. There is no life in the wilderness to which we point. In Canada science and invention have taken away the desolation of the wilderness. To assist people who come in mass migration there should be no suspicion of strangeness in a country with different habits from their own. That can be done. I believe that the Canadian system of after-care treatment is the most perfected in the world. The help given there by great organisations and by the Dominion Government is, and will be, of enormous use to anybody settling in that country. Once you do get families, sections and townships reestablished in those open spaces you will have solved the whole question of homesickness and strangeness which come to the new settlers and cause hesitation in their decisions.
I want to say one or two things from another angle. It is no good thinking of this as an agricultural matter only. It is not. There is not the slightest doubt that the Dominion of Canada, including that very part of Canada I have before mentioned—Manitoba, the stupendous farm of Empire, is opening up a new and industrial era. I believe that very much interwoven with this problem is the problem of British capital going to Canada. There was floated in this country recently a huge Canadian loan. It was a tremendous success, and it came after a period of years when Canada had not for a long time been connected with the City of London in a direct financial way. I would like to see in some of these secondary industrial institutions in the Dominion where they do not profess to lead in that particular industrial line, a great co-operation with finance and industry in this country, and I would like to see British capital go into Canadian organisations on the understanding, not merely implied but expressed, that this British capital will be taking with it so many Britishers straight to work, straight into industry to develop there Empire trade over a greater area. I believe that that is possible, and that the financial institutions of this country will never again be unwilling to go into Canada as an investment. There are tremendous 1129 opportunities in Canada already. It is said that it is over-railroaded. I do not know. It is a fact that a great deal of work can be done in the development of railways which men and capital from this country could greatly assist in executing. Financially and by man-power, I think we could have co-operated in the new arterial road from Atlantic to Pacific.
It is a fact that even in recent years large settlements of foreign stock in both industrial organisations and agricultural enterprises have sprung up in Canada, while we have remained stationary. It is, I think, very unfortunate that the replenishment of British stock in the British Dominions should have failed. I believe that in those countries with the same appreciation of liberty, freedom and loyalty, as we have, the greatest asset to those countries is an adequacy of British stock to carry on those inherent British characteristics. It is necessary from their standpoint that our union should be cemented. It is essential from the point of view of this country that we should be united with our Dominions by something more than a mere bond of sentiment. As long as they get a great development of population and capital from this country, so long will the bond which joins this country and the Dominions be strengthened.
I saw again last year some of the foreign settlements. I never desire to deny the great value of the Nordic races in the West of Canada. You see their work on every hand—good citizens, with good work for themselves and the country. Recently there has been a tremendous settlement in the far West of Canada—in British Columbia—of foreign stock. I believe that British Columbia has potentialities which are enormous. I expect that the great city of Vancouver will in a few years' time be at the cross-roads of the world's trade. Those foreign settlements are getting bigger in the far West of Canada. You see there the Nordic race settling in large numbers and doing very good work indeed in the Middle West of Canada, while our own numbers are in this lamentable position. It is not a question of who is going to be the author of a scheme which will be successful. This is a matter which transcends all other matters of Empire development at the present moment.
I believe that in this country and the Dominions we have the wit, the wisdom 1130 and the resources to carry out a scheme which is going to be satisfactory, which is going to swell the Empire and populate its open spaces. I believe that the spirit of our people is as great as ever it was in the days of early pioneering in the Dominions. What we have to do is to pull together on both sides of the Atlantic wherever the flag flies, by ranging ourselves side by side, considering every scheme that may have for its object the better population of the best part of the world, and in the treatment of those men we have to remember one thing. I do not know the terms of reference of the committee referred to in the Motion, but the Motion includes, according to my reading of it, a redistribution of people in this country as well. A great deal can be done by way of settlement and re-settlement in England. In the new orientation of industry trade, in my opinion, is no longer fixed in the North, but has a general trend to the South. Much, however, can be done in the direction of settlement in satellite towns, with new organisations to house the people who come from the North, where industry cannot, for economic and scientific reasons, now support the mass of people there. I believe that something could be done by way of resettlement in other parts of the country where industry is more attracted.
I welcome the width of the reference to the committee mentioned in the Motion. I am glad that my hon. Friend thought fit to bring the Motion forward for discussion, because I believe it is a matter upon which nothing can divide our minds. This is a matter far and away beyond any ordinary question of political controversy. It is political in the highest order. It is a matter not merely of first class national importance but of first class imperial importance. It is not to be passed over because you do not like this scheme or that scheme. It must be broadened and extended to take in its stride the best ideas, the best schemes, the best contributions of all sections of people on each side of the great oceans, which do not divide our Empire but unite it.
§ 4.17 p.m.
§ Mr. MACLAY
It seems to me that one of the main problems of this country in dealing with a question like this is the 1131 difficulty of persuading the Governments of the Dominions to agree with our ideals. We know what we want and we can see what is the ideal, but to-day when one travels in the Dominions one finds a very different type of mind on this question than we should like to see. It would be very easy to lecture the Dominions on what they should do, but I appeal to any hon. Member who may speak to-day not to do that, or, if he does that, to do it very carefully, because if there is one thing that causes resentment in the Dominions it is that we are lecturing them as to how they should oblige us in disposing of our unemployed. That is how it appears to them. On the occasion when Canada tried to help us out of our difficulties, unfortunately, we sent over an enormous number of men totally unfitted for Canadian country life. That caused a bad impression, which still remains.
I should like the Under-Secretary of State or the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to try during the coming year to get the restrictions on migration eased a little. To-day no man is allowed to go from this country to Canada to take work there, although we are told that anyone from the Dominions and Colonies can come into this country without the slightest difficulty and take jobs here. If Empire means anything at all, why cannot we step out into our great Empire? This sort of thing is very difficult to understand. I think it would be wise to ease the restrictions in order to help some of the schemes which the Department are trying to bring forward along the lines that have been mentioned.
I should like to give one specific case of how the restrictions operate in Canada. It is the case of an orphanage in this country which for many years sent out 20 or 30 boys per annum to Canada. Those boys have made good citizens but, owing to the agricultural depression, the sending out of boys has been stopped. I happen to be connected with that institution. Last year we had 20 boys waiting to go to Canada and the farmers had told us that they would take them. We stated that we would look after the boys if they became unemployed, up to the age of 21, and if need be we would bring them home again. Even in those circumstances Canada re- 1132 fused entry to the boys. I think that our Government ought to make some appeal to Canada to try and help us out. What is the good of our discussing these vaster schemes if in a very small case we can get no help at all, and not even one boy is allowed in? I think it is unwise on the part of the Canadian authorities. If they could help a little just now they would win the affection of this country, but I am afraid they are making us rather wonder whether the Empire is worth troubling about.
§ Mr. MACLAY
It applied to the whole of Canada. They were refused entrance to the whole of Canada. The reason given was that there was depression in Canada and that by sending boys out from Great Britain they would be taking away work from boys who were unemployed in Canadian towns. We pressed our argument and pointed out that the Canadian farmers were willing to take these British boys, and that they had been taking boys for 20 or 30 years and had found them satisfactory, but, owing to the Government restrictions, they were not allowed to take them now. My principal object in rising was to give this specific instance of the difficulties met with in trying to encourage normal emigration. I appeal to the Under-Secretary to make representations as early as possible to the Dominions to help on such schemes as those which have been mentioned by the Proposer and Seconder of the Motion.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ Mr. DAGGAR
The Motion is evidence that the question of migration is attracting a considerable amount of interest. Whatever hon. Members opposite may say, we are bound to have regard in a discussion of this Motion to the question of unemployment in this country. Many hon. Members are taking a considerable interest in the question of migration. There is nothing new in the problem. It is the over-population myth in another form. Speaking for myself, I object either to wholesale or compulsory migration of our unemployed, because the alleged need for such a movement ignores 1133 the possibilities of this country and also the importance of creating a home market. It is not a new argument that we have heard to-day. We heard it in much more forcible language at a time when the facts referred to by the hon. Member opposite were not so much in his favour as they were when the observations were made by the Lord President of the Council. As far back as November, 1927, observations were made to the effect that new industries were doing well, more men and women were employed in the industries of this country than before the War, but in the opinion of the Lord President of the Council the increase of population had for the moment beaten us. The same argument in different language has been used to-day but coming from persons who are not to be considered as reliable authorities as the right hon. Gentleman.
That the population of this country has beaten us is to our standing disgrace and discredit. The argument that it need have done so is absolutely absurd. We have not heard this afternoon the very familiar argument as to the density of population in this country compared with other countries. I have been at some pains to ascertain reliable figures of the density of population from a small book written by a person whose views are shared by hon. Members opposite, entitled: "Is Britain over-populated?" The statistics in that publication are based upon figures to be found in the Statesman's Year Book, and I propose to use a few of them. The author says that the number of persons per square mile in Japan is 392, in the United Kingdom 481, and in England 701. Why he differentiates one part of Great Britain in making his calculation is a question that requires some consideration. I find from an article written by such an authority as Sir John Marriott, in the "British Empire Review" for September of last year, that the population of Japan per square mile is 320, in England 701 and in the United Kingdom 487. It will be rioted that the figures given by two different authorities agree with regard to the population of England per square mile.
There are scores of other countries in which the density of population is greater than ours, and they have precisely the same problem that we have in this country. There is no desire on the part of 1134 the Mover of the Motion that there should be emigration to foreign countries whether the density of population is either lesser or greater than in this country. Belgium has a population of 702 per square mile, or 221 more persons per square mile than in the United Kingdom. No one in this House would say that the conditions are any worse in Belgium than they are in this country because of that particular fact. In the United States of America the density of the population is considerably less than in Great Britain, and yet no hon. Member would assert that the Americans have not precisely the same problem to face that we have.
Reference has been made to the report of the Committee over which the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) presides. That Committee is known as the Imperial Development and Settlement Research Committee. It has recently issued its report, a study of which would prove of considerable value in a discussion of the subject before us to-day. In that report reference is made to the fact that since the War over £1,000,000,000 has been spent in keeping life in our unemployed—a very proper term to use, although we have not done that very well. In stating the case for migration the members of that Committee do not take into consideration all the facts necessary before arriving at their conclusion. They deliberately ignore essential facts in making out a case for migration. The report says that:In all over £200,000,000 has been expended in this manner"—That is in providing schemes for giving employment to the unemployed—between 1920 and 1932. Had this vast sum of money been spent in mass settlement, 200,000 settlers with families of three, (wife and two children) or 800,000 souls, could have been settled permanently overseas with every hope that the total expenditure of £200,000,000 would have been paid back over a period of 30 years and that the whole, or nearly the whole, of this expenditure could have been provided by private enterprise.I submit that in making this comparison all the facts have not been taken into consideration. It is easy to assert that you could provide employment in the Colonies for 800,000 of our unemployed at a cost of £200,000,000 and that the provision of works schemes for the un- 1135 employed would have cost £1,000,000,000, but the economic waste involved in maintaining such a large army of unemployed in this country has been ignored, it ought to have been taken into consideration in determining the difference between the cost of maintaining the unemployed and the amount of money necessary to settle people on the land in other countries. Since 1920 we have spent in unemployment benefit alone over £522,000,000. This Army of unemployed has averaged since 1920 1,500,000 and if we assume that the product of a man's labour is worth £200 a year we have lost during that period no less than £2,700,000,000. These are facts which should also be taken into consideration in determining the amount of money necessary to maintain the unemployed in this country and the cost of schemes to provide work for them in the Colonies.
There has been a lot of talk about the cost involved in providing employment for our people. Obviously it means money; and so does the settlement of our people in other parts of the Empire. I object to supporting any scheme to provide employment for the unemployed in other parts of the Empire when it is obvious that work could be provided for them in this country. It has been pointed out by many reliable authorities that to find work for the unemployed is a costlier business in direct and immediate outlay than to keep them in idleness. They would have to be paid more if they were at work, and there is the additional cost of the materials upon which they would have to work. On this principle it is always costlier to produce anything than not to produce it. It is a calculation which totally ignores the value of the product. But is it impossible to provide work for those who it is now proposed should be assisted to leave this country? I hold that it is not, and that an investment in this country is preferable to an investment in any other part of the Empire. That is not a statement that cannot be proved. An hon. Member opposite, the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Viscount Lymington) said on one occasion:By uniting livestock production with mechanisation of their food production Britain could find work for another 500,000 men on the land.1136 That is much more economic and would be much more satisfactory to the unemployed than any scheme prepared by the hon. Member who moved this Motion or by the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth. It may seem strange for one who has always been a miner and who still has the honour of representing a mining constituency to assert that we have been so anxious to industrialise this country that we have neglected the basic industry of agriculture. Although I am a miner I have always interested myself in agricultural problems, because I hold that view; and it is amazing to find hon. Members advocating a scheme for migration when every reliable agricultural authority holds precisely the same opinion as the hon. Member for Basingstoke. There is not a single agricultural authority in this country who does not agree that it is possible to produce most of the products which are permitted to come into this country; all they disagree about it whether it is possible to place 400,000 man on the land or 2,000,000, the figure mentioned by Sir Charles Fielding, a man whose opinion deserves every respect. I object to assisting men to go out to any part of the Empire to cultivate the land when land is available at home. As to the question why people migrate, I propose to give a clear and, I think, satisfactory answer.
§ Mr. DAGGAR
I do not propose to give way to anyone. I have been in this House long enough to know that while on many occasions humble back benchers on this side of the House give way to hon. Members opposite, that courtesy is rarely reciprocated. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I submit that I know as much about that matter as hon. Members who divide their activities between this House and outside. On one occasion I was interrupted 11 times by hon. Members on the Front Bench, and when I got up to make an interjection I was told that the hon. Member had no time to give way and was anxious to conclude his speech. Sir Charles Fielding says that in his view it is possible to produce from the land food and raw materials to the value of £479,000,000 and manufactured goods to the value of over £200,000,000, which gives a total of £679,000,000. These authorities do not disagree on the ques- 1137 tion as to whether it is possible to put 500,000 people on the land, but as to whether it is possible to put at least 2,000,000 people on the land. The amount of money necessary to do it is considerably less than the figure of £200,000,000 suggested by the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth as being necessary to settle 800,000 people on the land in other parts of the Empire.
We are sometimes disposed unduly to emphasise the importance of our export trade. I realise that it is important and it is not my intention to under-estimate it, but there is a danger of exaggerating its importance to the exclusion of a consideration of the home market. A person who was a Member of this House at one time, and who is still regarded as a notable and reliable economist, Sir Leo Chiozza Money, has asserted that in 1930 the number of persons working for export, apart from transport and agency, was perhaps 2,500,000 or 12 per cent., and he says:I am quite sure that the general impression is otherwise. It is widely believed that a very large part, if not, the majority, of our people work for export.It may be that hon. Members will question the accuracy of that statement. In that case, I would ask them to read the pamphlet written by Professor John Hilton who makes this statement:The declined fortunes of the export trade are repeated in the known or estimated facts of the distribution of the labour of our workpeople between the home and the export trade. Of all the workers in the 'productive' industries (whose products are for the most part capable of being transported to any market), the bulk are now engaged in working for the home market. Of the 8 million in such industries, the numbers working for export (including the transport and distributive workers engaged in handling goods for export) were in 1929 some 2,200,000. In the autumn of 1932, this figure touched a low record of 1,300,000, and is now about 1,450,000. This latter figure is about 18 per cent. of the 8 million engaged in the productive industries. It is only 8 per cent. of all persons 'gainfully occupied.' It is little more than 5 per cent. of all those, including the home-tenders, by whose labours we live.There are enormous possibilities in the home market of this country. I will give one or two figures based upon the statement of Sir Leo Chiozza Money. He says that in 1930 we produced woollen goods in this country to the value of £112,000,000, of which £37,000,000 worth 1138 was exported. During the same period we imported foreign woollen stuff to the value of £14,000,000 and, therefore, the British consumption was only £89,000,000 worth. That is only equal to 40s. per head per year of the population. If you assume that there are 11,000,000 families in this country and that every family purchased £30 worth of woollen goods per year, we should get a home market for that article alone of no less than £330,000,000. He also points out that if you take the production of furniture of all kinds in this country, furniture for offices and for every conceivable purpose, it was only valued at £30,000,000 at place of production prices in 1930; that is equal to 54s. per home for the 11,000,000 homes in the country. If these 11,000,000 homes could absorb, each of them £300 worth of furniture, we should have a home market of £3,300,000,000. Take the question of coal which naturally interests me.
§ Mr. DAGGAR
It is obvious that the hon. Member was not present when I commenced my speech because I pointed out that there was danger in emphasising the importance of our export market to the detriment of realising the importance of the home market, and that instead of subscribing to a scheme of wholesale migration——
§ Mr. McGOVERN
On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. For my guidance, I want to ask you on whose authority numbers of the public are being deprived of access to this House to-day, why various unemployed men who are desirous of interviewing Members of Parliament are being kept outside the House in the snow, while well-dressed members of the general public are being admitted? I want to know for my guidance who is responsible for this unfair treatment of the unemployed.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not know exactly to what the hon. Member refers. As far as I am aware, there is no change in the ordinary rules that govern admission to the House. At any rate, whatever the rules are, at the moment I am entirely responsible for them.
§ Mr. ANEURIN BEVAN
May I call attention to a precedent for this matter? In the course of the last Budget Debate 1139 the Co-operative Society sent very large numbers of persons to this House and they were all admitted to the Outer Lobby without any difficulty. To-day, although there is plenty of room in the Committee Rooms upstairs and in the Outer Lobby, all these men, who are poorly dressed and underfed, are being kept in a long queue in the open air and snow. Is it not possible for them to be admitted into the Outer Lobby and there await the attendance of Members?
§ Mr. BEVAN
Further to the point of Order. I am very anxious not to offend your Ruling. Are we not entitled to ask why the rules are different for poorly-dressed people as against well-dressed people? Why are these men being kept outside the House when well-dressed people are being admitted The Co-operative deputation was admitted, and ordinary people now presenting themselves at the entrance are being admitted.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I am sure that there is no difference made in the application of the rules because of dress.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
I have been outside and know what is taking place. Every well-dressed person is being admitted to the House without question, but every one who is deemed even to look like an unemployed person is put in a queue which is standing outside in the rain and sleet. I certainly think that, if you have the power to order it, these men ought to be admitted. Surely if the men are not admitted to interview Members of the Government at least they are entitled to the ordinary decency and rights extended to the average person, to interview a Member of Parliament. I myself have had to go out with the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) and attempt to pick out certain people whom we had invited to tea in the House this afternoon. I think it is most unfair and a damnable outrage that these men should be asked to stand in the street.
§ Mr. BEVAN
May I prevail upon you, Mr. Speaker? Last night the Prime Minister said, on the Motion for the Adjournment, that it was competent for any unemployed person to interview his Member of Parliament. If an ordinary member of the public presents himself at the strangers' entrance and says that he wishes to interview his Member, he is immediately given ingress. Why is ingress refused to the men who are standing in the queue? Why are they not permitted to come into the Outer Lobby and send green cards in to Members in the ordinary way? Because these men are being stopped the House of Commons is exposing itself, as I am sure you are not anxious it should be exposed, to the charge that poor persons are treated differently from persons who are apparently well off.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I have already dealt with that point. There are certain rules that have to be enforced regarding admission to the House. Those rules have not been altered, and I do not propose to alter them.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
I want to put a new point to you. You say that there are certain rules applicable to persons who seek admission to the House, and as to that there might be general agreement. If the House was closed to the general public because of a thought or fear that something untoward might happen, one could understand it, but when we see discrimination taking place at the entrance to the House, so that well-dressed persons are being admitted and poor people are not admitted, we are entitled to expect that they should get ordinary decency.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
I want to demand their admission to the House. I think you have power to admit these people.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member must not use language of that kind; otherwise, I shall have to deal with him severely.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
I am not asking to be dealt with severely. I am asking for the admission of people who, I consider, have a right to be admitted, and I shall certainly not deviate from that view. I demand their admission.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I have given my Ruling. I repeat that there are certain rules which govern the admission of people to this House, and those rules have to be enforced. There is certainly no distinction made between one person and another.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
But I am advancing reasons. I want to get admission for people who live in my division and who are here. They are unemployed. I want them to be admitted in order that they may see me. I am demanding that.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
I will not sit down. Leave me alone. I am demanding admission to this House of constituents of mine who are entitled to come within the precincts of the House.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
If these people are not fit to be admitted I may as well leave the House—if they are to have no opportunity of coming in to see me as their Member.
§ Mr. LUNN
Further to the point of Order, Mr. Speaker. You say there is no distinction whatever made either because of dress or the appearance of a person who desires to enter the House. If it is the fact that ordinary citizens are outside in a queue and are not allowed in, and if it is the fact that there is no distinction made between one person and another, as you happen to be the guardian and the caretaker of the interests of citizens, will you tell us why it is that these people are not allowed to enter?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I really do not know what are the circumstances to which the hon. Member refers. I have no reason to suppose that any but the ordinary rules of the House are being enforced. If a large number of people seek admission there must, of course, be some limit to the number admitted.
§ Mr. BEVAN
I was informed quite casually in the House that certain of my constituents were outside waiting to see me. I had to walk out in the rain and along a large queue in order to find the people who wanted to interview me. Should I be subject to conditions of that sort? Ought not my constituents to have access to me? There was only one man from my own town there, and yet he was not allowed inside the door. I had to fetch him in. Why is it that these men are not given access to the Members of the House?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I have told the hon. Member that I do not know what the conditions are; but what rules there are must be enforced, and I am sure there has been no change in the existing rules.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
These questions cannot go on for ever. There is nothing more to be said. I have given my Ruling. Mr. Daggar.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
I am asking you a very necessary question. I am asking what are the rules that govern to the extent of excluding people who are poorly dressed and admitting people who are well dressed? That is obviously taking place. It is a discrimination that should not be allowed.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
But it is taking place and I have seen it taking place. I only ask you to get the evidence of it.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If the hon. Member has any fault to find with my Ruling he must put a Motion on the Paper. That is the proper way to do it.
§ Mr. DAGGAR
I was endeavouring, when interrupted, to emphasise the importance of the home market. Let me give one more illustration of the point I was making. It is as to the small amount of coal consumed. We are producing now something like 200,000,000 tons of coal a year. We are exporting 30,000,000 tons. For home consumption there is the small amount of 157,000,000 tons. If the 11,000,000 households in this country were in a position to purchase only two tons of coal per month we should have a demand for home consumption of no less than 264,000,000 tons, as against 157,000,000. Finally, let us assume that the population of this country, or the surplus population, is redistributed over the Empire. The object then becomes one of trade and commerce, the exchange of products between the people of this country and those who have made a home in other parts of the Empire. But by securing contact between the unemployed and the raw materials in this country you secure precisely the same economic condition.
An hon. Member asked why people do not emigrate. The reply is very simple. Why should they emigrate? This country is the country they know best, and they are obviously anxious to remain here, and there is no reason why they should not be provided for in accordance with the suggestions I have made. Reference 1144 has been made to the report for which the hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth is more or less responsible. The paragraph of that report to which I would direct attention is as follows:Settlers in each village will so far as is possible be drawn from the same locality and the village named after their borne town, for instance New Salford, New Oldham, New Derby, New Leicester with New Manchester as the centre.The names given to settlements in those parts of the Empire will not be a sufficient attraction to induce people to leave this country. I look forward to another edition of the report when, probably in anticipation of the chairman of that committee migrating, one of these settlements will be called New Bournemouth. There is nothing in this scheme to which I personally am prepared to subscribe. I know that although the business of this House commences each day with the Lord's Prayer this is the last place in the world in which I should expect to find any consideration being given to the Biblical injunction, "Do to others as you would they should do to you." I suggest however to the Mover and the Seconder of this Motion that there is, after all, a possibility of example being more powerful than precept. If they are anxious to relieve an alleged excess of population in this country, those who are here ought to set an example by emigrating themselves in the first instance. If they are not prepared to set such an example, Members are not entitled to support schemes for the wholesale emigration of the unemployed or any other section from this country. Transportation, no more than sterilisation or pauperisation, will cure the economic evils of this country. Until every effort has been made to settle the people on the land in this country I shall be no party to any scheme of the sort indicated in the Motion now under discussion.
§ 5.3 p.m.
§ Mr. HANNON
May I bring the House back to the substance of the Motion which is before us. I congratulate the Mover and the Seconder on the admirable speeches in which they have presented their case. With reference to the speech of the hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Daggar), may I say that his interest in agriculture is shared by everybody on this side of the House. Indeed for years 1145 we have been advocating that progressive policy in agriculture to which he has called attention, but we did not receive very much help from the party to which the hon. Member belongs. On the contrary every proposition submitted to this House for the last two generations which aimed at putting the agriculture of the country on a sounder economic basis was regularly and systematically opposed by that party.
The real object of the Motion is to ascertain from the Government what has been done in the last 12 or 18 months in connection with this great Imperial problem. On 7th December, 1932, my hon. Friend the Member for the Park Division of Sheffield (Sir A. Shirley Benn) submitted a similar Motion to the House. On that occasion the Secretary of State for the Dominions, apparently much impressed by the arguments submitted in favour of the Motion, undertook that the whole policy on this question would be investigated and the results of that investigation submitted to the House at, as we assumed, a reasonably early date. I wish to ask the Under-Secretary of State when that report will be presented and whether the committee which was charged with the consideration of all the elements entering into the preparation of that report, are doing something substantial towards the solution of this far-reaching Imperial problem. That objective was clearly and fully indicated by the Mover of the Motion. As has been stated, an admirable and comprehensive report on this subject has been prepared by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft) and a number of other gentlemen many of whom have direct personal experience of migration problems. I commend that report to the careful consideration and sympathy of hon. Members. I believe that a copy of that interesting document is already in the hands of the Government and I hope the Under-Secretary will see his way to give expression to the views entertained by His Majesty's Government on the constructive proposals which are embodied in it.
There can be no sadder reflection, in considering this problem, than that over 600,000 persons of foreign nationality have settled in the Dominion of Canada since the end of the War, while during that period we in this country have had to 1146 deal with an increasing and expanding problem of unemployment among our own people. Is it beyond the resources of statesmanship to arrange with our Dominions so that such a state of affairs should not recur? Is it not possible to come to some understanding on this matter with the people of Canada? Could we not, as has been suggested this afternoon, have some arrangement in connection with the flotation of Dominion or Colonial loans on the London market and that schemes affording opportunities for the settlement of our people overseas would have special consideration from the borrowing Dominion or Colonial Governments in order to help us with the solution of our grave difficulties in this country? I wish to ask the Under-Secretary therefore what is actually being done by the committee to which I have referred and what has it accomplished. Has it examined witnesses; has it sent commissions abroad, and has it taken into consideration the various questions which were discussed at the Ottawa Conference?
Can the hon. Gentleman tell us exactly what has been achieved by the Government since the Ottawa Conference? This question of the distribution of the population of the Empire must have been present to the minds of all the statesmen at that momentous convocation. We all appreciate that the National Government has had a vast array of exacting problems to deal with but surely the question of immediate and practical steps for better distributing the population of the Empire and at the same time helping to reduce the burden of unemployment in this country, ought to have a foremost place in their continuous consideration. I also wish to know whether the Under-Secretary can say anything of a Bill which was introduced in the Canadian Legislature over a year ago——
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
On a point of Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member who is addressing the House, but I wish to ask you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, whether we can have any guidance from you in this matter. Some of us have visitors here, and those visitors are being kept outside because they are poor people, while other well-dressed people are being admitted. I wish to ask you, as Deputy-Speaker, whether there is any possible way in which we can ensure that these 1147 people shall receive equal treatment with other visitors of the House.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir Dennis Herbert)
I have had inquiries made recently as to this matter, and my information is to the effect that nothing is being done beyond what is ordinarily done under the regular rules carried out by the police; that no discrimination at all is being exercised, but that they are, in accordance with their usual rules, preventing the entry of any further numbers into the passages and Lobbies so long as the passages and Lobbies are as full as the police allow. I am informed that there is no room for further people to be admitted until some of those who are now in leave.
§ Mr. HANNON
I do not in the least object to the interruption of the bon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). I was asking the Under-Secretary whether he could tell us something of a Bill introduced in Canada over a year ago which contemplated further concessions to schemes of migration from this country. Can he say whether that Bill has become law and whether arrangements for new schemes enabling people from this country to enter Canada have since been completed? On the last occasion when the Prime Minister of Canada was in this country very interesting discussions took place on the future relations between Canada and ourselves, involving very large financial responsibilities on the part of this country. We should like to know whether the exchange of view covered the question of schemes for the settlement of large areas in Canada by people from this country? The hon. and learned Member for Leicester (Mr. Lyons) referred to the 3,000 families scheme, a most interesting and encouraging project of settlement in Canada. I hope the Under-Secretary will be able to give us some information as to how that scheme stands, whether it has been a success, and, if it has not been a complete success, to what extent have there been limitations and whether the Government in consultation with the Canadian Government are considering how it might be improved?
In view of the improvement in the economic situation in Australia I think we should be told whether there is not 1148 some hope of a practical exchange of views between the Government of this country and the Government of Australia on further schemes of settlement. It would be interesting to know whether the claims to repatriation which were so frequent in Australia some years ago have now ceased and whether the improvement in the industrial outlook in Australia is now such as to encourage people to remain there? I shall not refer to the lamentable schemes in relation to settlement in Victoria because they are a blot upon the statesmanship of the Empire, further than to express the hope that in further projects of migration some practical and businesslike elements will be introduced which will distinguish them from that deplorable example. If conditions in Australia are improving, as is indicated by the gratifying news which we get from Australia from day to day, what steps are the Government taking to put the question of migration to Australia on a different footing from that on which it has been in the last few years? I hope the Government are keeping that aspect of the subject constantly in mind.
Perhaps the Under-Secretary will also be able to tell the House something about the Victoria Colony Settlement in the Argentine. Has it been a success, and did its effective management enter into the recent negotiations with the Argentine Government when we were arranging the terms of our trade agreement?
Last year His Majesty's representative in the Commonwealth of Australia, Mr. Crutchley, came to this country and was in constant consultation with the Dominions Office on schemes of migration. Will the Under-Secretary of State tell us whether anything has happened since the return of Mr. Crutchley to Australia which would be useful to us in the consideration of further schemes of migration in this country? May I ask the Under-Secretary of State also whether he will tell us something about the Empire School Committee's work? That was a new feature introduced into the consideration of migration schemes, and it was referred to in the last report of the Oversea Settlement Department and I hope the hon. Member will tell the House what has happened to that important movement, which was calculated to do a great deal to awaken interest in our younger people in the possibilities of oversea development.
1149 Finally, is the Dominions Office, in co-operation with the Board of Education, taking active measures to bring before our elementary and secondary schools the possibilities of our Empire? Again and again in this House those of us who are concerned with Imperial questions and who have taken some part in Imperial development have impressed upon the Minister of Education and the Colonial and Dominions Offices the necessity of paying more attention, in our educational system in this country, to the meaning of our Imperial structure, its variety, possibilities, constitution, and its vast outlook for development. I hope the Dominions Office, which is particularly charged with the larger self-governing parts of our Empire, as well as the Colonial Office, is giving continuous attention to this great question.
I am grieved to think that a question of such great importance to us in this country in relation to the employment of our people, a question of such vital importance in the development of our Empire and the placing of our people overseas, is being discussed in this House with such a comparatively few Members present. It is a sad reflection on the interest which hon. Members of this House take in these momentous Imperial questions to find only a dozen of us sitting here during the Debate. I support the Motion, and I hope the Government will take it into serious consideration, and that this Debate will have some positive result, in contrast with what happened after the Debate at the close of the year 1932.
§ 5.18 p.m.
§ Mr. MABANE
I think the hon. Member for Abertillery (Dr. Daggar) took exactly the wrong view on this Motion. He connected this problem of migration with the problem of unemployment, in the first place, and, in the second place, throughout his speech he spoke of migration as a kind of penalty which someone desired to impose upon people in this country. Surely that is exactly the wrong way of looking at it, and I would like to reinforce what was said by the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Maclay) to the effect that it is important that we in this country should try to look at this problem of migration from the point of view of the Dominions. The hon. Member for the Moseley Division (Mr. Hannon) 1150 said, and rightly, that every Member in this House who is interested in the development of the Empire must be waiting anxiously to hear what the Under-Secretary of State will tell us about the proposals of the Dominions Office. Everyone who knows anything about migration must sympathise with the Dominions Office in the extremely difficult task which is before it of deciding how to approach the problem.
I spent a year, after being defeated in the 1929 election, going to have a look at the Dominions in order to study this problem of migration on the spot, and I was reluctantly forced to the conclusion that the schemes which have been put into force since the War have unfortunately been almost exclusively failures. That was not due to any lack of good intentions, but to the fact that the problem had been approached from the same sort of angle as that of the hon. Member for Abertillery. It is so easy in this country to look upon migration as a way of solving our own particular difficulties. A specious appeal can be made on the following lines, and often has been made: We have 2,000,000 unemployed in this country; if we could only persuade 2,000,000 people to go to the Dominions, then, by a simple process of subtraction, we should have no unemployed at all. However attractive that might be as an argument, I think we ought in this country to remember that that is an argument which, even if it were true, and it is not, makes no sort of appeal whatever to the Dominions.
The Dominions have the utmost objection to being treated as an outlet for those who cannot find work here. It seems to me, therefore, that the problem before the Dominions Office takes the form of a dilemma. The Dominions want our best, and we do not want, in the ordinary way, to send them our best. That is particularly true of Australia, because Australia is conducting a most interesting social experiment. Australia is determined above all things to maintain the standard of living of the people of Australia. They approach the problem of wages not so much from the point of view of what the employer can pay as from that of what the employé needs in order to live, and anyone who has been to Australia must have recognised that the general desire in that Dominion is that above all things the standard of liv- 1151 ing of the Australian people shall be protected. Australia is not at all attracted by the argument of more population and is not interested by the question of whether or not Australia could support 100,000,000 people. She is more interested in securing that such population as she has is able to be maintained by the produce of that country on an ever-increasing scale of material well being. The Australians are in consequence tending to adopt the point of view that their population requirements can be fulfilled by the natural increase of those who are now there.
Let us be under no misapprehension. I would say that in no part of the Empire is there a more intense loyalty than in Australia, and I am satisfied that when the visit of a member of the Royal Family is made to Australia, people will come from all corners of the Dominion, at enormous cost and trouble, to pay their tribute to the Royal visitor, but although that may be so, the Australians do not like the British migrant, who is coming, in their view, to take their job. It is no use cloaking the fact that the British migrant who goes to Australia and drifts backs to the towns is often subjected to rather hostile treatment by the Australians. Indeed, there is a common phrase in Sydney that the only chance of employment for the Australian engineer is that he should act as labourer to the Scottish engineer who has come out from home. Therefore, we have to be very careful to appreciate that point of view in approaching this problem.
In Canada the attitude is somewhat different. Australia objects to cheap labour, but Canada rather likes it. The near example of the United States is there. I would in that respect ask a specific question of the Under-Secretary of State, because, in agreement with the last speaker, I have observed that since the War there has been a regrettable increase in the number of migrants into Canada from countries other than this country. It is, perhaps, true to say that Canada, desiring cheap labour, has been a little too much inclined to attract migrants from Central or Eastern Europe at the expense of migrants from this country, and I would like to ask the Under-Secretary of State if he will make representations to the Canadian Govern- 1152 ment to secure that the operations of that very powerful and principal recruiting agency, the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, do not have the effect of recruiting too many migrants from Central and Eastern Europe at the expense of migrants from this country.
The two principal problems connected with migration are, of course, how to find employment for the people when they get out, and how to assist them to go out in the first place. In conclusion, I should like to say a word on the subject of assisted migration. It has been the practice of this country in the past to endeavour to induce the Dominions to take migrants from this country by a process of assistance to the migrants directly. In so far as I have had practical, direct experience of assisted migration, I am not impressed by the method. I do not think, in the long run, it produces the results that we want it to produce. In Australia I have seen people who have been induced to go there by forms of advertisement that can only be described as exaggerated, and who, when they get there, are bitterly disappointed at the results that they can achieve. In our efforts to induce people to go to the Dominions, not, as the hon. Member for Abertillery says, in order to get rid of them, but in order to induce them to adopt a form of life that is better in many respects than life in this country, we ought at all times to be careful in the methods that we employ. I have come across exaggerated forms of advertisement in connection with Australian migration, and equally in connection with Canadian migration. I have in my hand a booklet entitled "Boy Settlement in Canada," issued in order to induce boys to go to Canada, in which these words are used:It must not be supposed that farming in Canada involves a life of hardship and isolation. It is true there is hard physical work at certain seasons of the year, but with modern labour-saving machinery there is little drudgery. And isolation has disappeared with good roads, the universal use of the motor car, and the equally universal radio and rural telephone.I hope the Under-Secretary of State will assure the House that that sort of propaganda will not be used in future to induce people, and particularly young people, to go to the Dominions. Let us tell the story truly and tell it carefully. 1153 I am satisfied that if we represent the advantages of the Dominions, not in words of that kind, but in their true colours, we shall be representing a real attraction, and I ask too that we should, instead of assisting migrants individually and directly, induce emigration by development in the Dominion itself, in the hope that when the Dominions are developing and becoming more prosperous, then people will go out from this country, not as an escape from something which they do not like, but as an adventure into a new life that will almost certainly be a better one.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ Mr. BARCLAY-HARVEY
I have listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Mabane) with very great interest, because, like him, I have taken a recent opportunity of visiting some of the Dominions to learn at first hand some of their problems, and I can bear out almost exactly what he has said, with this slight modification: I think I was in Australia after he was, and I found a little more tendency to realise the urgency of filling up some of the great spaces in Australia by people such as they want, people of British stock—because there is no part of the world that prides itself more on the British nature of its stock than does Australia. If they want to maintain the purity of their blood, I think they have got to take steps to increase the number of British people in the large open spaces that still exist there, but I do not want to over-stress that point, because there is no doubt that in Australia there is a very strong feeling that the most important thing is that they should maintain the standard of living of the people who are there already. Anything that will threaten that will find no welcome there.
That brings me to the centre of what I want to say and the question I want to put to the Under-Secretary. Are the Committee and the Dominions Office consulting at every step they take with the overseas Dominions in order that it shall not appear that we are producing a cut-and-dried scheme for migration from this side but in order to show that we are realising the difficulties with which they are faced in the far parts of the world? One of the things that struck me most in 1154 my recent tour was the extraordinary similarity of some of the problems that they have to face in the Dominions with some of the problems that we have to face. There is exactly the same trend of people from the country districts into the great cities. Undoubtedly, one of the fears they have over there is that if we send some people out from this country they will not go and fill up the vacant spaces but will drift back to join the ranks of the unemployed in the cities. I was told in Australia that one of the difficulties they found was that when people arrive they go to one of the great cities like Melbourne or Sydney and are so struck by the possibilities of those places that they stay in the towns where they land. I am certain that is not what we want to see. I should like to see all British people in all parts of the Empire look upon the Empire as a great estate and realise that it is up to them to do what they can to develop it. That is an essential.
We must not look upon migration as a method of getting rid of people whom we cannot employ in this country. If we start on those lines it is fated that we shall fail. We want to look upon the development of the Empire from the point of view of the people in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa, and to realise their difficulties as well as ours. There is another difficulty which I think we must at all times keep before us. I do not want to exaggerate the amount of room there is in the Dominions to be filled up. Many people in this country make a mistake about that because there are vast areas both in Australia and New Zealand which are not fitted for inhabitants at all. We have to get out of our heads the idea that we have of these vast spaces. There is no doubt, however, that they can hold more people than they have, and, if we send people out, we have to be sure that they are not merely going to produce things of which there is already a glut in the markets of the world and for which there will be no market when they are produced. Therefore, if we are to deal with migration on a satisfactory basis, we shall have to cover it with some very well-thought-out planning of the Empire.
We cannot take one side of the development of the Empire and pursue it without at the same time considering the equally 1155 important problem of how to co-ordinate the products of the different parts of the Empire. The Empire might have to decide that the secondary industries in New Zealand or Australia or Canada can produce certain of their requirements and will look to this country for the rest. I am not laying down any law, but a carefully co-ordinated scheme will have to be prepared if we are going to make the fullest use of the resources of this country primarily and of the resources of the Dominions from the point of view of everybody who lives in the Empire. I was interested to hear the hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Daggar) stress the importance of increasing agricultural produce at home. No Member of the House is more anxious that we should do that than I am. The right co-ordination between the two sides of production at home and overseas is one of the most difficult problems we have to face, but face it we must, and I hope that when we hear from the Under-Secretary what steps are being taken, he will be able to tell us that that point of view is being considered in the problem of how to take people from one part of the Empire and put them down in another.
I would like to call attention to what I might call the human point of view. I believe that one of the reasons why previous schemes of migration have not been so successful as they might have been is that we have not always remembered that we are dealing with individual human beings. Conditions in this country are no longer what they were 80 years ago. It is no use asking people who have got accustomed to the conveniences which they find in Great Britain to-day to go out into the more sparsely-populated countries where they will not find the conveniences and comforts that they have in this country in the way that we could have expected people to go out 80 years ago from a land that did not contain those conveniences. In any scheme that is put forward—and it must be put forward in the closest consultation with the Dominions—that must be realised. The woman's point of view must also be realised. We cannot expect women to go out from a country where they have been accustomed to living in close neighbourhood with others of their sex, where they have every convenience, medical service, maternity 1156 welfare, insurance, amusements and all the other things to which they are accustomed in this country, and to settle in the remoter parts of the world where they will have none of them. Therefore, we must send people under a co-ordinated scheme in such a way that we can ensure to them some of the things to which they have been accustomed in this country. Unless we are willing to do that and to remember this very human side of the question, we shall not make a success of the scheme of resettlement of the populations of the Empire.
We must also remember that individuals in the Dominions have grown up in their own countries and that they have seen all round them a civilisation which they themselves have created out of nothing. I saw the other day a picture of a site on which a man not more than 70 years ago said that a convenient village could be put. That convenient village to-day is the city of Melbourne. Naturally, therefore, there is in the Dominions, where they have made enormous strides by their own exertions and endeavours in such a short space of time, a very proper local and national pride in what they have done and in the sort of civilisation which they have built up for themselves. It is for the people who go out there to respect those feelings. It is for the people out there to respect the feelings of the people who go out there and who have been accustomed to our own kind of civilisation. In the Empire we find great loyalty and affection for the old country just as we find great love of the Dominions in this country. We also find a certain difference of angle, a difference of point of view which sometimes makes for a lack of smooth working. Let us warn the people we send to respect the attitude they find overseas, and we expect the people out there to respect the attitude of the people who go to join them and who only want to help them in the work they have to do. This is one of the most important questions which we have to face.
I am not urging that we should send people abroad or encourage people to go abroad to-day. I should like to withdraw the word "send," because there are thousands of people in this country who are only too anxious to go if the opportunity is there. It is not a question of sending. I entirely disagree with the hon. Member for Abertillery when he 1157 speaks as if all we want to do is to get rid of people. We do not. We want to give them opportunities which exist abroad now and which exist owing to the efforts very largely of the people who went out from this country. We want to give them a right to the benefits which exist to-day and a prior right over many other nations which did not go and do the pioneer work. At the same time, if we are going to ensure those opportunities to these people, now is the time when we, in consultation with the Dominions, should get on with the work. We should get on with the job now of preparing a scheme, so that when the time comes people who want to go shall have a free access to the opportunities that exist overseas, and so that we shall be able, in consultation with our fellows out there, to produce a plan which will not fail, but will be a greater success than anything we have achieved before.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ Dr. WILLIAM McLEAN
Having had the privilege of speaking in the recent Debate on this subject, I intervene to supplement what I said on that occasion. As the hon. Member for Kincardine and Western (Mr. Barclay-Harvey) said in discussing the subject, we are very apt to forget the question of markets. They are the foundation of the whole structure of Empire development, and of the consequential question of labour requirements which may involve migration. Let us consider how markets may be extended and created. The present situation appears to be that the Dominions have industrialised themselves, so that it is no longer a question of complementary trade between us in which they supply us with raw material and we send them manufactured articles in return. The situation, I believe, is gradually becoming worse and a solution more difficult. Industries which were started during the War and have been developed since, but are not really economic in a particular Dominion, owing largely to the limited market, are being continued behind high tariff barriers. The result is, of course, that the purchasing power of the overseas market for such a Dominion is reduced, and this has produced a very serious situation in several cases.
Fortunately, to counter-balance this, we have a great Colonial Empire, which provides complementary trade not only 1158 with us but also with the Dominions. It provides the system of triangular trade of which the House is already aware; it creates markets and stimulates development. For example, as the result of preferences and agreements we send sugar machinery to the West Indies; the West Indies, as the result of similar arrangements, send the sugar to Canada; and we, as the result of other arrangements, take wheat from Canada—which completes the triangle. The Ottawa Agreements and the change in our fiscal system have made it possible for our Government to assist in making trade agreements with Empire Governments. It is obvious that the initiative must come from the business men of the Empire. They will need to organise on an Empire basis. By this I mean that they will need to come to some understanding as to the lines of production and development in commodities and manufactures which are best suited to, and most economic in, each Empire country, so that the maximum inter-Empire trade may be the result. If it is agreed that the creation and expansion of markets is the necessary foundation for economic development and settlement overseas, then I submit that this can only be done by the business men getting together in the future more than they have done in the past. No democratic Government can take the lead and do everything in this matter. Let the business men of the Empire take the initiative, therefore, and give guidance to such Government action as may be necessary. Without this I believe there can be no Empire Development Plan of economic expansion and consequent re-distribution of the population.
§ 5.49 p.m.
§ Captain CUNNINGHAM-REID
I should like to approach this Debate at first from a somewhat different angle. I suppose that war and emigration would at first sight be regarded as two subjects which are the poles apart, but it so happens that they are connected in a very close manner. Germany, Italy and Japan are at this very moment crying out for lands to which to send their surplus populations. Their narrowing gaze is in our direction, is towards the British Empire, and that gaze is intensifying. We who have more places for this purpose than we need, and presumably—that is to say, presumably from the 1159 foreigner's point of view—are taking no advantage of it, are considered, to put it mildly, to be dogs-in-the-manger. This is the stuff of which wars are made, and this is the fundamental reason why, eventually, we may require real air defence instead of the air defence that we have at the moment, which is nothing more or less than a mockery.
I presume that it is a platitude to say that the two evils most dreaded by any nation are, first, war and, second, unemployment. The cessation of emigration has assisted in creating unemployment—I only use the word "assisted"—but its continuance is nothing more or less than a war incentive. In fact, the question of the redistribution of our population is at the root of all our troubles. It is a most vital subject, and yet it is a subject which, to all intents and purposes, is ignored and overlooked, except by very small sections of the community. One has only to look at the interest taken in this subject in this House to-day. Why, even the public in the Galleries take more interest in it than Members of Parliament. What enthusiasm can this subject raise on a public platform, or, for that matter, in the Press? None whatsoever. Why is it that a question of such importance as this is ignored? Can it be that politicians are frightened of this subject? The fact is that Empire settlement is an unpopular subject and, as is shown by the lack of interest on the Opposition benches and on the Liberal benches, it is not a vote-catching subject. If anything, it is a vote-losing subject; and it has no news value.
Naturally it is unpopular to suggest that men or women should leave their homes, however humble, leave the districts in which they have lived all their lives, and go overseas to some unknown place that may be anywhere within one third of the world's surface. "Why do you not emigrate yourself?" is the retort that one sometimes receives if one advocates this at public meetings, and though the answer to that is, "I happen to have a job, and you have not," one does not like to put it in that way. This is the first stumbling block we are up against when considering this matter, and the second stumbling block is that the Dominions do not desire those whom we desire to send. This was put in an excellent manner by the hon. Member 1160 for Paisley (Mr. Maclay) a short time ago.
Like several other Members who have taken part in this Debate, I have recently visited the Dominions, and I studied this question. In spite of anything that is said to the contrary, there are only two classes of immigrants that are required by the Dominions to-day. The first is the settler who comes over with at least £1,000 of capital—at least; and the second are those women who are prepared to go over there for domestic service. I believe there is also a category in which are included those women who are prepossessing enough to be marriageable. But these are all people whom we want in this country. We desire members of the community who have £1,000; any country would welcome a man or woman with that amount of capital. We certainly require domestic servants, and we also desire ladies who are marriageable. Therefore, we come to a dead-end, and it is no good putting forward schemes at this juncture, because until conditions improve within the Empire very little headway can be made, unless of course we can prove to the Dominions that our proposals are not the spasmodic, happy-go-lucky proposals which some have been in the past, but are of such an economic character that they would definitely be of advantage to the Dominions.
Presuming that, sooner or later, the Dominions will require settlers, we are now confronted with a new fact. There is a growing suspicion in this country, created to a great extent by the miserable fate of those Australian settlers whom we have again heard about in the Debate this afternoon. It has also been created by the ominous lull there has been in emigration during the last few years. It is being said with some reason "Why with an excellent system of unemployment relief in this country and no equivalent security overseas"—because there is no unemployment relief in any of our Dominions except, I believe, to some slight degree in the State of Queensland, in Australia—"Why," they say, "should we go out there to something that is uncertain and leave a certainty—especially when we remember the fate of those Australian settlers only a short while ago?" This suspicion is growing—I have met it all over the country—and if it becomes chronic I believe there will 1161 only be one thing for us to do in order to overcome it, and that is for this country to guarantee for future new settlers overseas the same unemployment benefit as they are entitled to here. It strikes me that that question is full of complications, but, nevertheless, I think it will have to be tackled if we hope to persuade likely settlers to go overseas. Anyhow, at present the whole system of emigration is far too vague, too far away, for the ordinary man in the street to be able to appreciate or comprehend it.
For this and other reasons I am inclined to believe that the plan most likely to succeed eventually—and we must have a plan ready—would be group settlement, combined later on with a system of nomination. This is also the opinion of General Hornby, that pioneer of post-War migration; if anyone's opinion is worth while it is General Hornby's. I understand that the Government have a committee who are dealing with this matter. I shall be most interested in their findings. No doubt they will put forward some excellent scheme, but until we know what that is I am inclined to lean towards group settlement. By "group settlement" I mean that the migrant can look forward to joining people who have come from his own district at home.
I was interested in such a scheme in 1922, and my recent visit to Canada, Australia and New Zealand—I was fortunate enough also to be able to visit most of the Colonies and Mandated Territories—fortified me with the belief that the group settlement scheme was best, considering, among other things, what different conditions exist now from what existed before the War. The most successful emigration has undoubtedly been that of the Irish to America. After the first Irish settlers had arrived in America, it was generally found that assistance for the passage of others came from those who were already in America rather than from any body or Government at home. The Irish emigrants had not the same reluctance in leaving their country. They knew that they were going to join friends. I understand that their reluctance of late—during the last year or so—has been diminished even more. The same system of group settlement was applied to the old Scottish settlements in the Maritime Provinces. Theirs were practically the original settle- 1162 ments in Canada; they have been most successful and are still in existence and flourishing.
I would like to make it clear at this juncture that I am not one of those who claim that if our emigration had kept up to pre-War standard we should to-day, by a simple sum in mathematics, have no unemployment. I do not subscribe to that, because it is ridiculous. If we had sent our people out at the same rate as we sent them before the War, it stands to reason, considering the times, that the majority of them would have come back, and that we should be no further. But had migration been continued during the last few years, the situation would undoubtedly be easier to-day. I do claim though that our most urgent task is to get that flow of emigration going again; otherwise our great efforts for national recovery will be crushed by a deadweight of surplus population.
At one time or another, most Ministers of this Government have stressed the importance of the redistribution of our population, and some have been brave enough to admit that our future economic stability will largely depend upon the successful solution of that problem. If they mean what they have said, and if they were not just giving lip-service, why is it that the solution of this problem, which they admit is one of the most important, is not put at the forefront of their programme? If only the Government and the Press would co-operate in a crusade! The popular Press are more patriotic than some of us give them credit for being. It is a mistake for the powers-that-be always to take the assistance of the popular Press for granted in times of crisis, and during the intervals to ignore those organs of the Press altogether. Everybody is human, and I submit that that is a definite strategic mistake.
A great campaign is necessary to educate the nation to the importance of providing an outlet for the dangerously bulging sides of the mother country. I was in Russia five months ago, and I found that in that country they had a very simple system of dealing with their surplus population. They allow them to starve to death. If anyone doubts my word, I would point out that I went into this question very carefully while I was there. I was able to obtain information 1163 from all quarters, and I discovered—this was a conservative estimate—that during last year it was claimed that at least 3,500,000 people in Russia died of starvation. By starvation I also mean the various diseases that can be brought about by insufficient nourishment. We in this country are perhaps a little old-fashioned, and, so far as this problem is concerned, we still cling to the solution known as Empire settlement, but it is rather ironic that, in spite of the realisation of the Russian way, Empire settlement is not popular in this country. A campaign, therefore, is doubly essential in order to allay suspicion here, and in the Dominions in particular.
At one time, neither we nor the Dominions liked the idea of Empire economic unity, but both of us have been taught. This country did not like the idea of tariffs, we set our face against tariffs for generations, but we have now been converted. Tariffs and Empire economic unity have only come to stay if they rest upon a sound economic basis. There can be no sound economic basis until we get our population adjusted. Surely if this is the case, this is a real national policy appropriate for a National Government. Would it not be possible for us to concentrate our efforts, and a considerable amount of our finances, on this momentous question?
§ 6.9 p.m.
§ Mr. LUNN
This is the third Debate we have had upon Empire migration within the last month, and in another place within the last week they have had one lasting for the greater part of a day. I have not heard one practical suggestion that could be put into immediate application, in the speeches in any of the Debates, although I have heard every Debate and every speech. Interest in this question is shown by the attendance in the present House. There are 550 supporters of the Government, and there are more hon. Members in the House, although their number is not 30, than there have been in any of the Debates. That shows the interest that there is in this question. There is a danger to the overseas Dominions and to our own country in having too many Debates on this subject at this time. There is a danger of creating the false impression in the Dominions that this House is in a 1164 panic to shovel its people into the various Dominions, and that it is enthusiastic on the subject.
The speeches are becoming a little wild. I could have agreed with almost every word of the first part of the speech to which we have just listened from the hon. and gallant Member for St. Marylebone (Captain Cunningham-Reid), but the second half of the speech was a change and represented a different opinion altogether. One remark made by the hon. and gallant Member will, I hope, be taken note of in the Debate to-morrow. It had nothing to do with overseas settlement, so far as the British Empire was concerned, but contained a statement that the surplus population in Russia are allowed to die. I do not know whether that is a fact or not, but it is a very daring statement for an hon. Member to make in a Debate of this sort, and I hope that it will not pass unnoticed.
There is a danger in this country, from this Debate. We have more than 2,000,000 unemployed people. We have had a diversion in this House since this Debate commenced, because there are hundreds of unemployed men at the door. We are debating a subject in which nobody can make a practical suggestion as to what can be done, and the unemployed men will carry away from London into the country an impression of the waste of time that is going on in this matter, when there are, or ought to be, far more important and vital subjects for us to discuss, concerning the welfare of our people. They will be propagandists even against the continuance of this House, after they have heard a Debate of this sort that has no practical value.
I say that as one who is interested in Empire migration, has been concerned with it for 10 years, and is as anxious as any other hon. Member that schemes should be adopted and that co-operation should be established with the Dominions. In the speech of the Mover of this Motion it was stated that the Empire Settlement Act and the application of that Act had no business qualities. I make the challenge to those who have their pet schemes of migration that not one suggestion has yet been made which would carry out such schemes as efficiently and as carefully, and at so little cost, as the schemes are carried out under the Empire Settlement Act.
§ Mr. LEVY
Will the hon. Gentleman pardon me for interrupting? I am sure that he does not want to misrepresent me. I did not mention the £3,000,000 at the beginning of my speech. The only remark that I made with regard to it was that the Empire Settlement Act provided up to £3,000,000 per annum for this purpose.
§ Mr. LUNN
Some of us have been here a long time, and I cannot say that we carry away a good impression of those who have wanted business Governments and business men in the House. With that, I think, all sides of the House will agree. We have not seen much to encourage us in that idea. Then the hon. Member suggested that we should start a number of commissions roaming over the Dominions to make inquiries as to what should be done. Last week, however, we listened to a very strong speech against commissions being appointed at all. I admit that commissions can do good work, and even in Australia there was a development commission, presided over by, I think, Sir Herbert Jack, which did remarkably good work in producing information regarding possible developments in Australia. I agree that there will have to be co-operation of some sort, but the hon. Gentleman wants business men on these commissions. I do not know where they are. He does not want Governments to interfere at all. Who is to find the money; to whom are these commissions to report; and what responsibility are they to have?
The Seconder of the Motion took up quite a new attitude—that we should be able to commute all the benefits that we give to people in our social services, and that that amount should be carried overseas for the purpose of settling them there. But, if you take the Unemployment Insurance Fund, there is nothing in it. We cannot take anything from that; it owes £115,000,000, and the House has decided that those who are to contribute 1166 for the next 40 years have to pay it back. Therefore, there is not much there. Moreover, there are many people who are not insured, and the type of people who, it is suggested, would make the best settlers overseas, are the people who are not in unemployment insurance. That, therefore, is a very ridiculous proposition, which I think examination by any responsible committee would show at this moment to be impossible. Unfortunately, in the Dominions there are no social services similar to what we have here, and, although hon. Members may agree with the idea that a widow's pension should be paid to her if she goes to any of the Dominions, I do not think that many of them would agree that all the social services should be capitalised to the individual concerned, and that he should carry the amount with him overseas. When this question was being debated a week or two ago, and a committee was suggested and a scheme put before the House, I said, and I stand by it:I am not opposing this Motion"—I am not opposing the present one; it is a very harmless, pious Resolution, even more so than the last one—for one reason because I want the committees that are in existence or which may be called into existence to consider migration and co-operation between this country and the Dominions, and I hope that whenever the opportunity for migration does come advantage will be taken of it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st January, 1934; col. 490, Vol. 285.]I said also that I agreed with the Secretary of State for the Dominions that there must be an opportunity for a livelihood for those who go, but there must be no compulsion, there must be no shovelling them over. The impression is being produced, however, as a result of these continued Debates, that that is what is in the minds of some Members.
I would ask hon. Members, where are the opportunities for our people to go overseas at the present time? Which is the Dominion that wants miners? In 1932 as has been stated in this Debate, 33,000 more people came from the Dominions than went to the Dominions. Last year the number was 24,700, and, from a statement in the speech of the Under-Secretary in the last Debate on migration, it would seem likely that there will be many more coming back this year. 1167 In that speech, on the 31st January, the hon. Gentleman said:We know that for reasons of policy, into which I will not go now, we are asking Dominion agricultural producers to restrict their supplies of certain kinds of agricultural commodities, and it would be quite unfair for us even to ask Dominion Governments, at a moment when they are being invited to ask their existing population to restrict supplies, to accept new migrants producing exactly the same things which their existing producers are being asked to restrict."-[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st January, 1934; col. 499, Vol. 285.]I think that that quotation, if it be the fact—and the hon. Gentleman would know quite well before he made the statement—that we are restricting supplies from the Dominions as he says, through the Ministry of Agriculture, shows that we may expect a much larger number of people to return as a result of that policy than has been the case during the last two years. As a result of these continued Debates, the Prime Minister of Australia has declared within the last few days that Australia does not want migrants of this kind, that she has plenty of her own difficulties.
The hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon) called attention to the case of the Victorian settlers. This morning I had a telegram from these people in which they urged that the question of a British Government grant to augment the Victorian Government's grant should be decided and settled now, because they are being pressed unduly to accept what they feel is not satisfactory. I think it is time we came to some satisfactory decision on this matter, because the problem of these unfortunate people, as long as it exists, will be a discouragement to any scheme of migration to Australia. It is a sore in the whole question at this moment so far as any migration between this country and Australia is concerned. We know also that there is no possibility of migration to Canada. They have an unemployment problem which, if not in numbers equal to ours, is quite as vital to them as ours is to us, and they would resent anything in the way of migration to Canada.
§ Mr. LUNN
In another place last week this question was Debated, and the Mover 1168 of the Resolution there—a man whom I know very well as an enthusiast on this subject—said that he had no desire to send people overseas at the present time, and that if we did it should only be in co-operation with the Dominion Governments. They, he said, have their difficulties, but we should see to it that when an opportunity came advantage should be taken of it. That is where I stand. When there is the possibility, and our people choose on their own account to go, I have no objection whatever, but I do not want to give any impression, or to see any impression carried into the country, that this House desires them to go as a result of any scheme whatever. We are dealing with human beings, not with cattle. We ought to be very much concerned about their welfare, their maintenance and their care, and there is need for a good deal of co-operation with the Dominions before we take any steps. I do not know that I should object to co-operation with the Dominions at any time now, or to discussing the matter. I think it is a matter that might be considered by the Secretary of State for the Dominions, and that there should be discussions between this country and the Dominions, so that we should understand each other's position. If we are to be practical in this matter, we must be able to understand their point of view, and they must be able to understand ours.
But why is so little said in these Debates about settlement at home? My hon. Friend the Member for Abertillery (Mr. Daggar) made a striking speech this afternoon, in which he dealt with the possibilities of settlement at home, putting forward very good arguments as to the importance of home supplies and home industry, and the possibility of doing a great deal more in this country in the way of settlement than we are doing at the present time. If we have millions to spare, either to back up a scheme like the one placed before the House a few days ago, or any other scheme for sending thousands of our people overseas, why should we not spend that money for the purpose of settling them in this country on the land? I should like to call attention to a speech made the other day at Preston by the Lord President of the Council. In the "Times" report of the 15th February I noticed these words: 1169The reason we have brought forward as yet no fresh legislation with regard to settling people on the land is that we want to develop first of all our existing agricultural policy until we are satisfied that a man can get a living out of the land.I agree that a man should have the opportunity of getting a livelihood if he is to do work, but I had no knowledge that the Government had such a policy, that they were intending to settle people on the land, and I should like to ask if we are going to hear something about that scheme of land settlement at home, because this country is a part of the Empire, and ought to be considered in these discussions. Now that the right hon. Gentleman has suggested that this is possible, and that the Government have it in view, I want to know if there is anything in the suggestion, and this House has a right to know. With regard to the request contained in the Motion that the Committee's Report should be published as early as possible, I am afraid, knowing as I do the circumstances, that hon. Members will be disappointed when they get the report. How could it be otherwise, with economic conditions as they are in the Dominions and in this country? But we could begin at home, and I think we ought to begin at home. The Labour party will welcome an opportunity, which has not been provided yet, of discussing settlement on the land at home. If the Government have a scheme, as is suggested in the speech of the Lord President of the Council, for settling people on the land at home where they can earn a livelihood, I would urge that that scheme should be brought before the House as something in the nature of a practical programme, rather than the unpractical programme to which we have been listening this afternoon. If we can give our people the certainty of earning a livelihood, that is what millions of people are wanting to do, and, if there are these opportunities of settling them either here or in the Dominions, my support would be given to it under those conditions.
We do not object to the Motion at all, and we do not object to inquiries, because we believe that nothing can be done unless there is co-operation between us and the Dominions, but I object to these suggestions that they should be done outside the House by private enterprise. I know that they will not be done by private enterprise. Again to-day, as in the 1170 last Debate, the only scheme which is praised, as the best at all events, is the 3,000 family scheme which was arranged between the Governments of this country and of Canada and carried out by them. I am convinced that, in considering migration or the resettlement of our people on the land, or, as the Motion says, distribution, we should distribute our population at home on the land and we should never discuss this matter separately from that when it comes before the House.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for DOMINION AFFAIRS (Mr. Malcolm MacDonald)
We all know what a keen supporter of the idea of Empire migration the hon. Gentleman is, and, therefore, the cautious speech that he has just made is all the more significant and with, at any rate, a great deal of what he said as regards the present situation I am certain that the whole House would agree. I have been asked a very large number of questions in the course of the Debate. Indeed the hon. Member for Moseley (Mr. Hannon) treated it almost as a question time all to himself. He is not in the House at the moment but, no doubt, he will scan the columns of the OFFICIAL REPORT very keenly to-morrow, so I will do my best to answer his questions. He asked whether I could say anything about a Bill introduced into the Canadian Parliament about a year ago to encourage new migrants to go to Canada. No such Bill was introduced so far as I know. I think that the Bill to which he is referring must be one introduced to relieve existing settlers in Canada of some of the burden of debt that hangs upon them during this grave economic crisis. The news about that Bill is that it was passed through the Canadian Parliament and its provisions, which are giving some relief to existing settlers, are in force to-day, but no measure inviting new migrants to Canada has been discussed in the Canadian Parliament at all. He asked whether we had had any discussions with the Canadian Prime Minister on this question of migration when he was over here recently. We did not discuss the question with him while he was here, because the time for the discussion of migration between us and the Dominion Governments will come a little later.
1171 The hon. Member asked what had happened to the families who had gone out to Canada under the 3,000 family scheme, a scheme which has been much commended by many speakers in these Debates, quite rightly, because on the whole, having regard to the fact that the economic depression hit a good many of those settlers before they got properly established, it has not been unsuccessful. The facts are that 3,346 families went, and about 2,000 of them are remaining on their settlements. Emergency assistance has been given where necessary, and all the settlers have enjoyed the amount of relief that has been given to all settlers in Canada under the Act to which I have referred. The hon. Member asked about the school Empire tours. The Government does not give any financial assistance to those tours, but we are represented on the committee which organises them. We regard them as doing exceedingly valuable work in bringing some of the younger generation into touch with conditions in the Dominions. The position with regard to those tours is that already about ten have taken place. I think that all the Dominions have been visited now on one or more occasions by these tours of schoolboys.
The hon. Member also asked whether we were doing anything in co-operation with the Board of Education to improve knowledge concerning the Empire among students in elementary schools. We do what we can. Among other things we arranged, and very largely financed, the first tour of headmasters, and afterwards of headmistresses, to Canada, so that they will certainly come back to their schools with a very vivid and first-hand impression of conditions in one of our great Dominions. Finally the hon. Member asked whether I could say anything about the Victoria settlement in the Argentine. We have no official connection with that settlement. We are watching the experiment that is being made with very great interest, but it has not been established long enough for any final judgment to be reached as to what lessons it may teach regarding settlement on the land. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Mabane) pointed out that some, at any rate, of the propaganda that has been issued to possible migrants in the past has been very misleading, and he asked whether the Government in 1172 future would do anything they could to prevent misleading propaganda being issued. Certainly we shall do everything we can to achieve that end, because we have no doubt that propaganda like that has led to false hopes in many cases, which have resulted in disillusionment and failure.
In regard to the Motion in general, I should like to thank the Mover for the friendly terms in which it is couched. He made certain proposals and raised a number of points, and I can assure him that they will be borne in mind by the Departmental Committee which is examining the whole question. A great many questions have been asked about that Committee and I will repeat what I said when we discussed the matter a month ago. We are practically all agreed that conditions in the Dominions now are such that the Governments cannot be expected to welcome new migrants at present. But that does not mean to say that we expect that state of affairs to continue for ever and, therefore, my right hon. Friend considered that during this period of lull we should be using our time very profitably if we examined the experience of the past, looked into the whole question of migration very carefully, and made up our minds as to the best principles and the best machinery for promoting migration again when it becomes a practical proposition. With that purpose in view, he appointed some 12 months ago this informal Committee to examine the whole question and to advise him as to the principles and the machinery which would be best for encouraging and promoting migration within the Empire when that starts again. I think I had better say, because of one or two remarks that have been made, that the Committee has nothing to do with land settlement at home here, and, if my hon. Friend wants to know what are the Government's plans with regard to that proposition, he must address a question to the Minister of Agriculture.
This informal Committee is simply devising a policy for the settlement of migrants from this country in the Empire, and the inquiry is simply the first stage in the working out of the policy. As soon as the Committee has finished its work, it is the intention of my right hon. Friend to circulate its report among representatives of voluntary societies and 1173 other experts, so that they may make their observations and comments upon it, because my right hon. Friend is naturally exceedingly anxious to know the views of those people before he makes up his own mind as to policy. The report would have to be discussed with the Dominion Governments before any policy was finally concluded. The Committee has held eight more meetings since we last discussed the question a month ago. I think it will not require more than six or seven further meetings to complete its work altogether, and the report should be in my right hon. Friend's hands within a few weeks. It will immediately be circulated to the voluntary societies and experts and people interested, and their comments will be invited and, after that, we shall get into discussion with the Dominion Governments concerned.
To-day I can only say, as I said a month ago, that I am not in a position to discuss proposals or recommendations which will be contained in a report which is not yet itself completed, nor can I make any definite promise as to when the report or Government proposals will be laid on the Table of the House. It might be desirable, for instance, not to publish anything until we have got into discussion with the Dominion authorities concerned, but there will be no unnecessary delay in laying the report or proposals before the House so that hon. Members may see what it is proposed to do, and have an opportunity of discussing the proposals. I can assure the House that we are anxious to press ahead as quickly as we can with the drawing up, the discussion and the conclusion of an agreement upon a policy for promoting migration from this country to the Dominions as soon as that becomes a practical proposition once more.
I would like to emphasise this point because my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Mabane) and other hon. Members have emphasised it. I would like to make it clear that in drawing up our proposals we are not attempting to arrive at suggestions which will lay down the law in this matter of migration. We are simply drawing up at this stage a series of proposals for discussion with the Dominion Governments. It will be open for alterations to be made in those proposals in the course of those discussions, because we have to get the 1174 point of view of the Dominions, and we have to get their minds. We have to recognise the conditions which they have to face in their own countries, and what we are seeking is an agreed policy between them and us. It is obvious that no migration is going to be a success unless it is a co-operative effort entered into with good will between the Dominion authorities and the authorities at home.
We believe in migration, and we urge it not simply because a certain redistribution of the wide population of the Empire will be of benefit to us in the United Kingdom, but also because we believe that such a redistribution, when economic conditions make it possible, will be of economic and political advantage to the Dominions themselves, and also to the Empire as a whole. It is in that spirit that we are examining the whole question. We are as anxious as any Member of this House that, when conditions improve again, the numbers of migrants shall be large, and that as many people shall go to the Dominions as can be satisfactorily settled there. How are we to promote that migration of people who can be absorbed in the Dominions? That is the problem which we have to face. What can we do as a Government to facilitate that natural flow of migrants who have the prospect, and, indeed, a strong likelihood, of satisfactory settlement in the Dominions.
When we discussed this problem a month ago I ventured to express some personal views upon that question of method. I said that, in my view, in the future as in the past, the great majority of migrants going out would not consist of people in organised groups going to settle in brand new communities, but would consist of individual families, individual men, individual women, or individual juveniles, going in hundreds or in thousands, but as individual families or individuals, and settling here, there and everywhere wherever they can fit in, by a process of what I called infiltration in already existing communities. I think that the emphasis which I laid on that last time led, no doubt entirely due to my own fault, to a certain amount of misunderstanding, and I should like to make it quite clear that when I said that I thought that settlement by infiltration was going to be the greatest part of the work, I did not intend to exclude com- 1175 munity settlement or the possibility of community settlement. If a case can be made out for any particular plan for a new community, and if it can be shown that that will allow for efficient and economic and satisfactory settlement, then let us have that settlement as well as settlement by infiltration. The one method is not necessarily exclusive of the other, but I express it as my own personal view that the great bulk of migration is going to be migration not to community settlements in the sense that we usually understand community settlements, but to settlement by infiltration.
I have been the subject of a certain amount of criticism on that account. It was even suggested in another place that it would not be inappropriate if I were put across the parental knee and chastised for having thrown that douche of cold water upon migration. But it is not a douche of cold water at all. It has been said, for instance, that the people who have been putting their faith chiefly in settlement by infiltration are contemplating only "a thin trickle" of migration, but that is not so. Let us get to the facts in this way. For instance, my hon. Friend the Member for Moseley asked me whether I could say what the Government thought of the scheme which had been drawn up and published by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft). I do not want to enter into the merits of that scheme this afternoon, because the scheme was only presented to us about 10 days or a fortnight ago. It is being examined very carefully by the Inter-Departmental Committee, and it is much too early to pronounce a judgment on the scheme. But I should like to refer to one feature of the scheme in order to illustrate my point that people who advocate settlement by infiltration are not advocating a slowing down or "a thin trickle" of migration.
What are the comparative prospects of community settlement and the other kind of settlement as regards placing large numbers of people in the Dominions? My hon. and gallant Friend gives certain figures in his proposal for community settlement. He suggests that it will be possible to settle 40,000 families in 10 years under this proposal. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the cost?"] The cost is another matter. I do not want to 1176 be drawn into the merits of the cost this afternoon. The facts are being considered very carefully. He contemplates that the scheme of community settlement will settle something like 40,000 families in 10 years. That works out at about 160,000 individuals in 10 years, as a contribution towards migration by this community settlement proposal. What is the comparison between the figure of 160,000 persons in 10 years and the actual figure of the people who have been settled by infiltration in practice in two sets of 10 years?
Take the 10 years immediately before the War. During those 10 years not 160,000 persons but 2,168,507 persons proceeded from this country to Dominions overseas, and practically all of those were settled by what can be called the infiltration process. Take the 10 years immediately following the passing of the Empire Settlement Act after the War. The figure is 1,801,924, scarcely any of those being settled in brand new communities. Practically all of them went out as individual families or individual men or women and settled here and there, wherever they could fit in in existing communities. Therefore, I would urge hon. Members to disabuse themselves of the idea that people who advocate Empire settlement by infiltration are lukewarm about the idea of migration and are going to encourage only a very thin trickle of people from this country to the countries overseas. I believe that by far the most important thing that we can do, if we are to contemplate considerable migration movements in the future, is to decide what facilities we can give in order to encourage the flow of individual families and individual men and women going out to settle under that kind of condition.
There is one other point which has been raised again during the Debate this afternoon, and for referring to which again I make no apology, because it is extremely important. It is the question of markets. It is true that in some parts of the Empire the conditions may make possible the establishment of small, self-supporting communities, but, apart from that possibility, the vast majority of migrants going out, when migration can start again, whether they settle in communities, or groups, or as individuals, will require some market external to 1177 their own community in which to sell their produce. The question of markets is fundamental to the whole question of migration. If the demand for Empire goods can be increased, it will be the excuse far encouraging more producers to go to the Dominions to satisfy the demand.
Those hon. Members who say that the Government have done nothing about migration during the last few years forget the fact that the Government went to Ottawa in 1932 in order to try to do something about the problem of markets, and that at Ottawa we were tackling one of the problems which is fundamental to the whole migration problem. That is why before we started to talk about migration seriously we went to Ottawa in order to try to get agreements, and create conditions which would encourage a greater demand for Empire goods in Empire markets. The efforts which were made by our delegates and the delegates of the Dominions there to increase the sale of Empire goods in Empire markets was not unsuccessful. For instance, in the year 1933 we increased our imports from the Dominions over our imports in 1932 by the value of more than £7,500,000, or 13.7 per cent. The Dominions in 1933, compared with 1932, increased their purchases of goods from us by the value of over £8,000,000, or 14.4 per cent. That is one of the signs that it may be not in the very distant future, but in the comparatively near future, that migration from this country to the Dominions will once again become a practical proposition. At any rate, the Government will keep the whole question very closely in mind, and will pursue their examination and their discussions of the question as rapidly as they can, and, on behalf of the Government, therefore, I very gladly accept the Motion.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Sir FRANCIS FREMANTLE
May I ask the hon. Member, before he sits down, one point which seems to be germane to the discussion but which has not been very clearly mentioned? He talked about the infiltration method, with which he has proved his case, but he stressed its value in facilitating the movement outward of the people. Is it not equally important to facilitate the movement backward as well as the movement outward, and, in considering it, to consider 1178 not simply a system for that movement, but also whether it is not possible to provide a King's Highway of absolute free passage under certain conditions, so that people may be able to migrate forwards and backwards? It is essential to all parts of the Empire; that is the way in which filtration has taken place between Scotland and England during the last 200 years. We should have some system corresponding to that all over the Empire, and in that way we should provide some kind of means which would involve a subsidy to tramp shipping and be at the same time of value to the shipping of the Empire. I want to know whether that is being considered a possibility: the driving of a free highway over the Empire.
§ Mr. M. MacDONALD
The question of passage rates is one of the matters being considered by this Committee, and which certainly has not escaped notice.
§ Sir F. FREMANTLE
I do not simply mean reduction of passage rates, but I ask whether it is possible to consider a free highway.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Mr. ANNESLEY SOMERVILLE
I was particularly glad to hear my hon. Friend deprecate the idea that migration by infiltration and migration by community settlement are mutually exclusive. Before the War there was no State-aided migration; the Dominions were prosperous, and in prosperous times there is always a much better flow of migration. After the War there was still prosperity; there was State-aided infiltration and infiltration that was not State-aided. The present position is that all the infiltration has ceased, and those of us who look to community settlements for the re-start of migration do so hoping that this country, when forming a community scheme, will supply the capital for that scheme. If we supply the Dominions with capital and with the right kind of migrants, and if we include a repatriation clause in the scheme, then I venture to think that everybody will be ready to welcome such a scheme. That is the point with regard to community settlements: you can, if you have a well-supported, well-thought-out community scheme, begin almost at once. The Dominions are against infiltration at the present time, but, of course, infiltration 1179 and community settlement will help one another, and an infiltration scheme may be the means of starting a number of community settlements.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
That this House notes with satisfaction that the question of migration and settlement within the Empire is being carefully examined by a Departmental Committee, and, in view of the importance of the problem, urges that the Committee's Report should be laid upon the Table of the House at the earliest possible moment.