I beg to move "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
Before dealing with the actual provisions of the Measure now before the House, it may be convenient if I summarise the successive steps which have led to its introduction and refer briefly to the record of three years of work and practical experience upon which it is based. The need for a more direct interest on the part of the Government of this country in the movement of its citizens overseas was strongly urged both by the Dominions Royal Commission appointed as the outcome of the Imperial Conference of 1911 and by the Committee under Lord Tennyson's chairmanship, which in 1917 investigated the problem from the point of view of the interests of ex-service men.
In compliance with their recommendations the present Lord Long, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, set up shortly after the Armistice the Government Emigration Committee, a designation subsequently changed to the Oversea Settlement Committee. This Committee, of which I have continued to act as chairman almost since its inception, is composed of representatives of the Government Departments chiefly concerned and of certain vitally affected interests, such as shipping and labour, together with a few individuals of special experience in various aspects of overseas settlement, among which I might perhaps single out the very important aspect of the oversea settlement of women. It acts under the general authority and control of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and the Oversea Settlement Office, which carries out the actual administration of the Government's policy in these matters, is for financial and staff purposes a branch of the Colonial Office.
Our first duty, and up to the present our main administrative task, was to deal with the ex-service men. A very large proportion of these would, in the ordinary course, have gone overseas but for the War, but they found themselves after the Armistice precluded by loss of means and by the greatly increased cost of passages from taking advantage of opportunities which presented themselves under Dominion soldier settlement schemes and otherwise. We felt that these men had fought for the Empire as a whole, and that they ought not to be denied access to any good opportunity which the Empire had to offer, and we accordingly persuaded the Cabinet to include among the facilities given to ex-service men—and here I may say to ex-service women as well—a free passage for themselves and their families to any part of the British Empire. But this offer was subject to certain very important conditions—important from the point of view both of the ex-service men themselves and from the point of view of the Dominions to which they went. One was that they should have assured employment in prospect. We did not wish our gift to be a mere temptation to their own possible undoing. Another was that, from the point of view of the Oversea Governments themselves, they should be in every respect, both personally and in regard to the local economic situation, desirable immigrants. We have in fact entrusted the whole responsibility of selection in this respect to the representatives of the Oversea Governments, and no voucher for a free passage has been issued except upon the express recommendation of these representatives.
As several of the Governments have, in view of their own industrial difficulties, practically confined their endorsement to men willing to go upon the land, or to women prepared to enter domestic service, the numbers who might have availed themselves of this scheme have been very much limited. Those who have actually been passed have been less than one-third of the applications, while the numbers of those applying have, of course, been kept down by a knowledge of the conditions laid down. Even so, the numbers who have actually gone are not inconsiderable. The total, up to the time when the applications still pending have been dealt with—the scheme itself was closed at the end of last year—will amount to about 50,000 ex-service men, making, with their families, a total of 100,000 persons. Thanks, to the precautions taken, only a very small percentage of these actually have failed, while quite a considerable number are well on their way to substantial prosperity. We have encouraged
all those who received free passages to write to us, and while we have received some letters of complaint and disappointment, we have received a very large number expressing in the most enthusiastic language the gratitude of the writers for the chance in life we have given them. I have taken a few extracts, almost at random, from the last few batches of letters received. The first is from Canada:
I wish to thank you for granting me a free passage to Canada. … Since my arrival I have done very well and am getting together a fair amount of cash which will be used to place me on a good farm of my own in a few years. If you had refused to give me the passage I expect I should have still been one of England's unemployed. I can assure you the chance you gave me to make good will not be wasted.
Here is another:
There is plenty of work out here on the land. I have the offer of five jobs for Spring but I have not decided which one I shall accept, not until my wife comes out. There is plenty of work out here for anybody that wants to work but lazy people are not wanted. They have no time for them.
Here is one from Australia:
My chum and I are going to apply for 2,000 acres between us and we hope to be settled soon after Christmas. At present I am up in the hush clearing virgin land for the plough. It is hard work at first but I am enjoying good health and having plenty to eat which makes it all the lighter.
Here is one from New Zealand:
This is God's own country, and I only wish more people at home knew it. The wife and I have been away in the back blocks for nearly twelve months and we shall soon be able to start a farm of our own, and, mind you, I came out here with £2. I have a lot to thank the wife for as it was really through her that we got our start as she is a good cook and that means everything. … This twelve months has taught me a lot, for I can now milk, shear, and do a hundred odd jobs that I never dreamt of before, and so would anyone who cares to come and try.
Here is the last I will quote:
I have succeeded in my new home, and have not lost a day's work, but there is something else I am wanting you to do. A girl wants to come to me, and as I have promised to marry her, I trust you will grant her a passage.
[HON. MEMBERS: "Have you?"] As she is not a member of his family, nor an ex-service woman, the young lovers will have to wait until the House pass the Bill now before it, before she can secure an assisted passage. [HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed!"] I have read these extracts because I wanted hon. Members to
realise something of the very human and personal character of this work upon which we have been engaged, and which I am now asking the House to extend. It certainly is the side of the work that appeals most to me, and has made me feel that, if ever any work I have taken up has been worth while, it has been this. It certainly has been worth while from the point of view of these ex-service men. But it has been worth while from the point of view of the nation as well. The free passages were, of course, open to all who served, without question of their private means, but in fact we estimate that fully 80 per cent. if not 90 per cent. of those who went were unemployed, or would have come on the unemployment funds. These free passages by the time the ex-service scheme is wound up will have cost something like £2,700,000. The same people would have cost the community in various forms of relief up to the end of the year, about £3,000,000. I admit there is not much difference between these two figures. The real difference lies in the fact that in the one case you would have them still with you, still unemployed, increasingly less employable, a permanent drain on your purse and a weakness to the nation. As it is, they are today productive workers, many of them well on the way to becoming their own masters, supplying us with goods that we need, and buying our goods and helping our trade under laws which give those goods a preference over the goods of foreign countries. Our expense is finished with the last passage booked. The profit will continue to come back to us in ever-increasing measure.
The ex-service free passage scheme has been, I believe, money well spent from the point of view of the British Government, even though it has paid the whole cost of the passages itself. That was a natural arrangement while the resources of the Dominions were completely taken up with the problems of the repatriation and resettlement of their own soldiers. But this obviously could only be a temporary arrangement. Any permanent scheme for Empire migration and settlement must clearly be based on the full co-operation of the Dominions concerned, whose need for population to develop their resources, sustain their defence, and build up their
standard of progress, is at least as great as our need for the transfer of surplus population. That was the view of the Dominions as well, and in February of last year a special Conference took place at which the whole problem was fully discussed. The proceedings of that Conference are summarised in Appendix 5 to the Bluebook on the subsequent Conference of Prime Ministers (Cmd. 1474). This latter Conference, after full investigation, formally by resolution approved the proposals of the special Conference, the Dominions undertaking to co-operate effectively with the United Kingdom in developing schemes based on those proposals, though South Africa made it clear that the limited field for white labour in the Union would preclude co-operation on the lines contemplated by the other Dominions. The resolution went on to express the hope
That the Government of the United Kingdom will at the earliest possible moment secure the necessary powers to enable it to carry out its part in any scheme of cooperation which may be agreed upon, preferably in the form of an Act which will make it clear that the policy of co-operation now adopted is intended to be permanent.
The Bill now before the House gives effect to that Resolution, and empowers the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Oversea Settlement Committee to co-operate effectively with oversea Governments or with responsible private organisations, up to the limit of the funds placed at their disposal, in any schemes that may be approved of. These schemes naturally fall into two main categories—schemes of assisted migration, and schemes of land settlement and development. The former category represents the natural extension to general migration of the existing ex-service scheme, with certain modifications due to the altered conditions and to the experience gained under that scheme. For one thing, we are now of opinion that not more than one-third of the passage money, at any rate in the case of adults, should actually be given as a free grant, though another one-third, or in special cases even two-thirds, will be advanced as a loan. Again, our experience has led us to assign very special importance to juvenile migration, to the migration of women, to hostels for the women, and arrangements for reception generally, and to the preliminary testing and training, both here and over-
seas, of those who intend to go on the land. In this last connection, I should like to remind the House of the very valuable experiment carried out before the War by my Noble Friend the Member for Southend (Viscount Elveden) at his training farm at Woking, where he proved that a very short test is quite sufficient to weed out the men who will never make farmers, and to teach the rest at any rate enough to save them from feeling and from being thought fools when they come up against the most elementary operations of farm work on the other side. A valuable complement to such farms here would be training farms or base camps on the other side, to which newcomers would go straight, without the risk of being intercepted and diverted to urban pursuits in the great cities while waiting, and where they can learn something of local methods and conditions before being placed out among local farmers. Even with every training facility, however—and I do consider that in this respect we are still a long way from an adequate co-ordination throughout the Empire—it is doubtful whether, with an adult population of which over 90 per cent. is industrial, we shall ever get enough men to meet the needs of the Dominions for workers to open up their land. But we have here a vast juvenile population not yet definitely settled down to industrialism. To rescue these from overcrowded professions and industries, and from even more soul-killing blind-alley occupations, is one of the most hopeful tasks to which we can put our hand. A wonderful and still insufficiently appreciated work has been done in this respect by the child migration and settlement work of Dr. Barnardo's Homes and other similar institutions, and I am glad to think that, largely at the instigation of our Committee, Dr. Barnardo's Homes have now begun to extend their sphere of activities to Australia as well as to Canada. A similar and no less hopeful experiment is now being initiated by the South Australian Government, which is proposing to invite out some 6,000 boys between 15 and 18, and start them in life under selected farmers, with special arrangements for looking after their welfare and prospects.
Another even more important aspect of this problem is that of the migration of women. There is to-day a surplus in this country of 1,700,000 women. In the Dominions there is a small deficit of women, measured simply by the standard of the arithmetical equality of sexes. But measured by the standard of the social need for the services of women in household work, there is a far greater deficit, and one that in every direction is having a most prejudicial effect upon the social life of the Dominions. Here, too, much can be done by training, both here and overseas, to enable those without any experience to enter successfully upon domestic work overseas. In all questions dealing with the migration of women, the Oversea Settlement Committee has received invaluable help from the Society for the Oversea Settlement of British Women, a body formed by the amalgamation of a number of other societies interested in this work, and has, in fact, felt that the work of giving information, advice and assistance to women going abroad, and more particularly those travelling alone, can be far more effectively and sympathetically given through a voluntary organisation than through any Government Department.
I have indicated the general nature of the field which has to be covered by the schemes which fall within the category of assisted migration. But our experience, and that of all the Dominions, as voiced at the special Conference, convinced us that the capacity of the Dominions to absorb additional industrial and urban population, and, in fact, to deal with any immigration on a really large scale, is strictly conditioned by the opening up of their agricultural resources. The direct settlement of men on the land as primary producers must be the foundation of any broad policy of economic regeneration in the Empire. Consequently, we attach even greater importance to the second category of schemes—those that deal with land settlement and development. These will naturally be of very varying kinds, according to the very various conditions which they may have to meet, but, broadly speaking, they will fall either into individual settlement schemes under which men without sufficient capital will receive advances to enable them to set up as farmers overseas, always, as I hope, after a necessary preliminary period for gaining local farming experience; or else development schemes for opening up large new areas to cultivation by the clearing of forests, building roads and railways, and works of irrigation. Schemes of this latter type are in many respects the most hopeful from the point of view of dealing with large numbers of men without capital and without experience. They afford abundant local opportunity for wage-earning while the men are being acclimatised to local conditions. They facilitate settlement in groups and communities. A last but not least important consideration is that they ought to be relatively cheap.
For the carrying out of all these various schemes we propose to rely upon existing Government and private organisations. We have no intention of setting up any elaborate new administrative machinery, either here or overseas. The power to grant or withhold our financial assistance will be sufficient to secure that both the initial conditions and the actual arrangements for carrying out schemes will be such as to satisfy our requirements. The actual administration is far better left to the Oversea Governments, all of which have existing machinery which can be adapted or expanded to meet new developments or else to private organisations, whether of a business or philanthropic character. The House is, of course, well aware of the valuable work which has been done, in this connection by such bodies as the Salvation Army, the, Church Army, and the Young Men's Christian Association, to name only one or two among a great number, and the House can rest assured that the policy of the Oversea Settlement Committee, in carrying this Bill into effect, will be to co-operate with, and to rely upon, these voluntary organisations wherever we can. The Bill has, in fact, been so framed as to secure the utmost elasticity in operation in order to meet the wide variety of local conditions and personal requirements, and to test the possibilities of new departures and experiments, while in every case retaining the power to insist upon sound financial and administrative methods, and definitely to limit the extent of our commitment. At the same time, by making provision for 15 years ahead, it also provides that element of permanence and continuity in general policy upon which the Dominions insisted so strongly at the recent Conference, and which is so essential if there is to be true efficiency and economy in such very important items as shipping, and, indeed, in the whole administration of Government schemes of settlement.
Let me turn now to the actual finance of the Measure. It is not proposed to spend in the present year more than £1,500,000, and in view of the full investigation and discussion which will be required into every scheme that is put before us, I doubt if we shall be in a position to spend even the whole of that sum in the present year. The normal expenditure is fixed at £3,000,000. Of this total I estimate that about £1,000,000 will be required for schemes within the category of assisted migration. The basis of contribution for schemes in this category will normally be half and half, so that the total amount available both from the Dominions and the United Kingdom for this purpose will be about £2,000,000 a year. I reckon that the average cost per adult of passages is about £26, though I hope that figure will gradually come down. While the whole of this will not necessarily have to be furnished in every case there will, on the other hand, be many instances where we shall have to spend money on initial training and advances of landing money, and so on. I reckon that a figure somewhere between £25 and £30 will probably represent fairly the average cost per head of a migrant. On that basis £2,000,000 would make possible an annual assisted migration of something between 60,000 and 80,000 persons a year to begin with, and a considerably larger figure eventually if the repayment of advances is added to the fund for fresh assistance.
The remaining £2,000,000 of United Kingdom money would be available for assistance to land settlement and development schemes. Any estimate of the numbers which should be settled under these schemes depends on the particular kind of scheme adopted. It was agreed at the special Conference that the British contribution to schemes of individual settlement should not exceed an advance of £300 a settler, roughly speaking, about one-third of the minimum total amount required. On that basis it would be possible to settle about 3,000 heads of families as farmers for an expenditure of £1,000,000. On the other hand, block settlement schemes may yield larger results for a smaller immediate contribution. We are, for instance, considering at this moment a scheme, already agreed upon between the Australian Commonwealth and the Government of Western Australia, under which the latter undertakes to settle 75,000 persons for an expenditure of £6,000,000, provided that the Commonwealth and the United Kingdom each contribute a sum equivalent to one-third of the interest for five years on the successive instalments raised. This would cost us altogether, over a period of seven or eight years, £600,000, in other words, 10 per cent. of the total expenditure, or only about £8 per settler. These figures are, of course, not strictly comparable. In the one case we are dealing with individual owners of farms and with money advanced, which would be recoverable. In the other case we are dealing with the total population which would be settled in consequence of a scheme of development, and with an outright contribution. Still they suggest that where favourable local conditions exist these larger development schemes may offer the most substantial immediate result for a relatively small contribution.
I think the figures I have given are sufficient to indicate that the amount provided under the Bill will enable the problem to be taken in hand seriously, more particularly if, as was recommended by the special conference, the amount is in later years increased by the sums recovered from the repayment of advances. I believe before very long we shall regard the amount now proposed as quite inadequate for so great and so remunerative a task. But in view of the difficulties of our financial situation, and of the need of gaining experience as we proceed, I am prepared to be well content with the present Measure as a substantial instalment of the larger policy of the future. In any case, our expenditure under this Bill will be strictly conditioned and strictly contingent upon at least equal, and, as far as land settlement schemes are concerned, considerably larger, expenditure on the part of the Dominions. The House will very naturally wish to know how far these Governments show any willingness to co-operate. There is, I think, in all the Dominions a very keen sense of the need of additional human, as well as material capital, in order to develop their resources and strengthen their national life. Where there is local or sectional opposition to immigration, it is based upon the fear of an influx of unemployed industrial workers into urban centres where there is often serious tem- porary unemployment. There is nowhere any opposition to the policy of land settlement and development, which is the main object of this Bill, and which can only increase employment. If the Dominion Governments have not already moved more actively in this matter, it has been owing to the very heavy burden which the War has left upon them, and which has been increased by the task of their own soldier settlement schemes, a task which has, however, in many ways prepared the ground for new settlement schemes. The prospect of some measure of co-operation by the United Kingdom means, I believe, that every Dominion will have an opportunity of tiding over the gap between the immediate cost of such schemes and their certain ultimate benefits. That was the view expressed at the Empire Conference by the Dominions and it was from this point of view that the Dominions so strongly urged upon us the need that we should give a lead by passing our own Act and by letting them know clearly to what extent we were prepared to co-operate. As a matter of fact, apart from the general pledge of effective co-operation contained in the Conference Resolution, several Oversea Dominion Governments are only waiting for the passage of this Bill to enter into definite negotiations. The Prime Minister of Australia has declared himself as prepared in principle to consider schemes involving—of course over a considerable number of years—an expenditure of £50,000,000, subject to securing satisfactory arrangements with the State Governments who own the land and would actually administer any schemes. The Western Australian scheme to which I referred just now would, if we could see our way to join in it under the provisions of this Bill, be only an instalment of a far-reaching policy of Australian development. The Commonwealth is equally ready to join at once in a scheme for assisted passages to any extent that Australia's requirements for population may demand. Mr. Massey, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, expressed, at the time of the Conference, his own readiness and that of his Dominion to co-operate both in schemes of settlement and migration on a scale proportioned to the smaller size and limited area of his Dominion. The case of South Africa, of course, is exceptional, owing to the fact that there is no opening there for white unskilled or semi-skilled labour. That precludes any idea of large development schemes or of a large volume of assisted migration.
Yes, I think a certain amount can be done in Rhodesia for individual land settlement, but, even there, the opening is somewhat limited. The South African legislation, and the Rhodesian legislation too, is in that respect very generous in its terms, and offers a fruitful, though, I must repeat, a limited field for co-operation. As regards Canada, perhaps the greatest and certainly the nearest field for settlement, Mr. Meighen was not able, at the Conference, in view of the imminence of the General Election, to give any assurance beyond his conviction that Canada would be certain to co-operate effectively in any such policy of Imperial development. The new Canadian Government has, I understand, been giving very serious consideration to the whole subject, and will, I have no doubt, take full advantage of the co-operation which we shall be in a position to offer if this Bill passes into law.
But for the full success of this policy we shall want something more than the co-operation of the Dominion Governments. We shall need the whole-hearted co-operation and sympathy of the great public in the Dominions. This business of Empire settlement is, as I have said already, a very human business. Against all possible future advantages of the change of home have to be set the sense of pulling up one's roots, the loss of familiar and friendly scenes and faces. The immigrant lands with some of the shyness and awkwardness, often, too, with something of the touchiness, of a new boy at a strange school. The glad hand on arrival, the kindly word of welcome, the little bit of friendly advice or help in an unforeseen difficulty are worth anything at that moment. These things cannot be embodied even in the most perfect Government scheme. They must come from the hearts of the people. There must be many men and women overseas who may remember kindness that they themselves, or their sons and brothers, met with over here in the days of the War. It is to them especially, if my voice can reach them, that I appeal to make a success of this policy by treating the new arrivals not merely as fresh, and often unskilled, hands for field or factory, but as fellow citizens and fellow soldiers who have come to help them to win the conquests of peace and to strengthen their defence if ever the hour of danger should return.
Let me say something now of the objects which our policy has in view. I have already, in dealing with the ex-service scheme, shown what valuable help assisted migration, if properly safeguarded, can be to the individual, and what an economy, even from the immediate point of view, it offers to the nation as compared with the policy of doles and stop-gaps on which we are at this moment, in one way or another, spending £100,000,000 a year. But I want to avoid the possibility of any misunderstanding in this connection. I am not recommending this policy of Empire settlement as a panacea for the immediate crisis of unemployment with which we are confronted. Except within certain limits it cannot at once take the place of the special emergency measures of relief which, however unsound in principle or uneconomic in themselves, are yet to a large extent inevitable in such a crisis. Settlement undoubtedly does relieve the immediate situation to the extent to which the men who go out as settlers are unemployed themselves or create vacancies which others may fill. But we can only encourage these men to go in so far as they are themselves suitable settlers and in so far as there is assured employment awaiting them. To attempt to solve unemployment here by taking the unemployed, as such, and dumping them down in the Dominions without regard to the conditions there, without regard to their own fitness, would be a policy cruel to the unemployed themselves and in any case impossible because the Dominions would never consent to it. What we are aiming at is only incidentally the relief of the immediate crisis; our main object is to find a permanent constructive remedy for the enduring problem of the economic situation which the War has left behind it.
That problem is often discussed in language which would suggest that the whole, or, at any rate, the main cause of our difficulty is the state of Europe, and that the creation of a more peaceful atmosphere in Europe or the re-habilitation of the European exchanges would bring back prosperity and employment to this country. Those are things well worth while doing for their own sake, and I should be the last to under-rate the importance of the great and difficult task to which the Prime Minister is at this moment bending his unrivalled powers. But when we are discussing the industrial situation here we are bound to face certain facts. One of these is the fact, so clearly brought out in the Debate on the Genoa Conference by my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Glasgow (Mr. Bonar Law), that the European market never was our most important market. He pointed out that our exports of manufactures to these countries where the exchange has gone to pieces was, even before the War, only 14 per cent. of our total exports, less than half our exports to the Empire. Another fact is the evident determination of all the European Governments to see to it that, whether their own trade improves or not, our trade is kept out of their markets by tariffs infinitely higher than any in force before the War. The recovery of Europe will, of course, help matters, but I say frankly it is a delusion to imagine that we can look to the markets of Europe to find work for the millions of our unemployed.
Our best and most expanding markets before the War were those of the Dominions. Let me point out to the House what the effect of the War has been upon those markets. It has severely checked the normal expansion of those markets, partly owing to direct loss of life and to war indebtedness, but far more owing to the cessation of the normal inflow of population and capital from this country. On the basis of the average figures for the five years before the War, our normal emigration would have been over 2,100,000 for the seven years 1914–1920 inclusive. The Dominions would have received the great bulk of that flow as well as a very considerable immigration from foreign countries. In consequence of the War the actual migration from this country was only 340,000, while practically nothing came to the Dominions from Europe. But that is only half the story. The converse of that stoppage of migration is that in this country, even after allowing for all the terrible losses of the War, we have at this moment an excess of over 1,000,000 above the normal increase of population for the period, an increase which is itself proceeding at the rate of 600,000 a year. A shortage below the normal of at least 2,000,000 in our best markets, and an excess above the normal of over 1,000,000 at home—is not that in itself sufficient to account, in large measure, for the present unemployment in this country? And, if so, what more direct or more effective remedy can be devised than a policy which will gradually rectify that abnormal distribution and convert those who are to-day an unwilling burden upon the community here into producers who will be a source of wealth and strength alike to their new home and to the old? The transfer of population to the Dominions before the War strengthened the forward impulse of trade at the same moment as it eased the pressure on employment. It acted like a great fly-wheel steadying the whole industrial process. That fly-wheel has been stopped by the War. I ask the House by passing this Bill to enable us to overcome the deadweight of its inertia, and to give it a new momentum sufficient for the magnitude of the economic task before us.
That task, as I conceive it, is essentially the task of securing a right distribution of our population in the Empire. Given adequate resources and a right distribution of population between the areas in which those resources exist, and between primary production and industry, there can be no reason or excuse for permanent under-employment or for a standing policy of doles. But when we have three-quarters of our people penned, confined, and congested in this little corner of the Empire, and millions of square miles of the richest lands in the world—boundless plains, forests without end, water and coal power beyond computation; I wish I could bring before the eyes of hon. Members the vision of what I have seen—waiting for the homesteads and great cities which they could so easily support, when we have so completely lost the true balance of our economic system that we have over 90 per cent. of city workers here, and fewer white agriculturalists in the British Empire than there are in France alone, is there any wonder that unemployment is an ever haunting spectre, and that the combined burden of our external responsibilities and of an ever-growing social problem threatens to overwhelm us?
I have commended this Bill to the House as the first step forward on the right road to economic recovery. I would also commend it as a measure of Imperial defence—the most economical, the least provocative, and the surest. The House knows what an invaluable part the Dominions played in the War. They were in it from the moment war was declared, not merely technically, but heart and soul. When the last shot was fired their armies of matchless veterans were everywhere in the front line of victory from Dunkirk to Basra. What would we not have given if only a more far-sighted policy in the past had doubled or trebled, as it easily might, the men and resources which they contributed to the common cause. We are looking forward to-day with hope, and, indeed, with reasonable confidence, to an era of peace and of freedom from the burden of competitive armaments. But if ever a new menace should arise, it is to the resources not of this country alone but of the whole British Commonwealth that we shall have to look alike for the preparation to avert it and for the embattled strength, if need be, to overcome it. Nor should we forget that the dangers of the future may well arise in regions far remote from this old fortress of Empire. If so, it is not by ever-increasing expenditure on armaments here that they can best be averted, but by building up new centres of British power where the potential menace may be greatest, and where that power can be most effectively and promptly summoned to the task of defence from its normal pursuits of peace.
In conclusion, I commend this Bill to the House as a Measure happily outside our party controversies and at the same time in the true line of our national tradition and of our historic Imperial policy. The spirit of adventure, of exploration, of home-seeking across the seas is inextinguishable in our blood. That spirit for centuries enjoyed the support of the nation and of the Government. The guiding idea of our Imperial policy has always been not domination, but expansion. Ours is, if I may use a phrase employed by Harrington in his "Oceana," nearly 300 years ago, "A Commonwealth for Increase." It is to conscious acts of statecraft in the past, to deliberate and systematic measures of colonisation, and not to mere absence of mind, that every one of the great Dominions owes its existence as a British nation to-day. We shall do well, I believe, if in the face of unexampled difficulties we now revert, even after long intermission, to the wise policy of our forefathers. We shall not overcome these difficulties if our eyes are for ever riveted upon this teeming little patch of ground under our feet, and if we think of our problems only in terms of commerce, waiting to sell our wares and starving if we lack customers.
We must think of our problems in terms of conquest and creation—the creation of new wealth to replace the wastage of the old, the fruitful conquest over Nature to make good the terrible cost of conquering our fellow men. For the one conquest, we sent out and sacrificed the best of our manhood. For the other, the nobler conquest, the only conquest where full reparation is assured, we must now send forth again of our manhood and of our womanhood, not to be blown to pieces or maimed, but to win in wider fields, in the trenches of peace, for themselves and their children, what matters more than any wage, health of body and mind—the bodily health that comes of abundant space and sunshine, the confidence and content that follow freedom and opportunity. And winning these things for themselves they will win them no less for those who remain here, sending the life blood of new trade, of new hope, of a new-vision of Empire pulsing through the veins of this old Mother-country.
There is no misgiving of fond belief in the virtues and far-reaching consequences of this Bill exhibited by the speech to which the House has just listened. I cannot recall any recent occasion on which a Bill has been commended to the House by any Minister in terms of more convincing good feeling than the hon. Member has shown, and I want to give him every credit for a wish to fulfil the ambitious purpose of the small Measure of one Clause which is now before us. But I think he is stretching expectation too far if he expects that, upon the foundation of this Bill of one Clause we are to be called upon to search for a solution of the great ultimate problems of Imperial defence, and an ultimate solution, by gradual processes, of the very serious social and economic difficulties which oppress us to-day. Therefore, while I congratulate my hon. Friend upon his belief in the virtues of this Measure and upon the real human feeling which he has shown in commending it to the House, I fear he may be disappointed in the ultimate consequences of its general working.
I do not quarrel with my hon. Friend on the general object in view or an the principle of this one-Clause Measure. I hope that all of us recognise that within the Empire there are millions and millions of acres lying in a state of waste for want of population, and that, on the other hand, in this part of the Empire, we have conditions of overcrowding which cannot be for the good health of millions of people, or in any sense serviceable as tending to improve the social and economic good of very large sections of the population. Therefore, I conclude that we all agree that it is very desirable to devise some plan for a wiser and fairer distribution of the population within parts of the British Empire. I think there is a serious gap in the speech of my hon. Friend. He might at least have uttered some word of sympathy with the old country on the state in which he finds it, and for having to draw from many parts of the old country certainly the best of its population if the purposes of this Measure are to be fulfilled. The worst of the population, the least skilled, the least healthy, the least efficient, are not desired by those who have the general good conditions of other parts of the Empire in their keeping. If they want anything, they want the best.
It is right from their point of view; I am not quarrelling with their point of view. It is a natural point of view. The question is, can we afford to get rid of the best? Have we got them in such an abundance from the standpoint of our own well-being as to be able to afford any large margin in response to the attractions of this Measure? Nor can I follow my hon. Friend in his general conclusions as to the future economic and trade benefits to flow to the population of this Kingdom from the neglect—I took that to be his inference—of opportunities of trade with various parts of Europe in order that we might more effectively cultivate closer economic and trade relations with the Dominions of the Empire. Viewed even in the light of percentages, I think it is true to say that it is because of a considerable decrease in the percentage of overseas trade as between various parts of Europe and this country that we now have in this country masses of unemployed. A little loss in the margin of overseas trade with Europe means a very great increase in the figures of unemployment in this country.
While we are all wishful to cultivate greater and improved trade relations with the Dominions I do not see that we can find any complete solution, or any appreciable solution, of our state of unemployment unless we do more effectively compete with our rivals in the larger markets of Europe. In other words, to limit ourselves to trading relations with our Dominion population would be at the most to try to maintain or expand trade conditions with a population of some 12 or 15 millions. It will not do to seek to improve trade with that number and neglect trade with a population approaching 300,000,000. The larger the population the greater should be the attention given to trade with that community. At any rate, I trust the Government will not in any sense strengthen the tendency to leave our rivals in other countries almost a free market within those larger areas of trade opportunities in the continent of Europe. That does not mean that I have not a very great deal of sympathy with the main purposes of this Measure. I have myself received at times letters somewhat similar to those which my hon. Friend read; but I am not altogether deceived by those letters. Just as you have letters intimating successes of that kind there are letters telling the story of lamentable failures to settle in conditions unsuitable to the capacity, the temperament and outlook of those who have been sent in past years to the land.
I agree with the statement that this is a first step in the direction of establishing a system for a distribution of population within the Empire, and of sending from our shores large numbers to those unpeopled territories in the remote parts of the Empire. But I think an even more satisfactory beginning might-have been made than is expressed in this Bill I accept the view that this Bill does not purport to be a solution of our unemployment troubles in this kingdom. On the other hand, it is found that some support is given to a Bill of this sort for the reason that it is believed that emigration can appreciably relieve the burden of unemployment. Incidentally it has been pointed out that what we are spending on sending people abroad, by way of paying their fares as passengers, we will even more than save, taking a long view, in not having to pay continual unemployment benefits or grants to those who are no longer within this kingdom. But no matter how many we might send out of this country under a scheme of this sort, that would not touch the root cause of our unemployment difficulties, and no hon. Member should mislead himself to the extent of thinking that we are solving economic problems or supplying a real remedy for root troubles of this kind in paying the expenses of certain of our unemployed or our ex-soldiers to the Dominions overseas.
I would like to hear more fully what is meant by approval private organisations. Is the meaning in this Bill the outcome of an arrangement partly entered into, but more to be entered into should it become law, between this Government and the Governments of the Dominions? How far is it the purpose of the Dominions or of the home Government to work through private organisations, and what kind or organisation is deemed to be an approved private organisation? In the past there has been a great deal of emigration, in many instances with painful consequences, because people were lured to leave this country by the representations of advertisements and by the promise and prospect of improved conditions when they landed in another country.
By shipping companies and by emigration agents. I am not finding fault with these societies which have had beneficent purposes in view. I believe that many societies have done good in the absence of legislation of this kind in giving advice and assistance to people who have wished to change their home, but even on the. Second Beading of this Bill the House would welcome some information as to what kind of society or private organisation would be deemed to be an approved private organisation within the meaning of this particular Bill. I hope that it is not intended in any sense to subsidise or support out of taxes private agencies like shipping companies which in the past have had no concern with the future of the emigrant, and whose sole interest has been with the present with securing for the moment the gain to be derived from payment of the passage money. In one part of this Bill there is reference to initial allowances to be arranged as between the Home Government and the Governments of the Dominions in respect to those who go from this country to any part of the Dominions. What precisely is meant by the term "initial allowances"? I understand, of course, that there is passage money. I understand that there have to be funds provided for training centres. That I think an extremely serviceable arrangement. Would these allowances be the making over of a sum to those who emigrate on terms that they on their part will gradually repay the money? Is it to be a gift, a loan, or a subsidy? In what way are these allowances to be arranged, to induce people to leave these shores?
Another feature of this subject which has not been mentioned is to what extent, if any, labour organisations in the Dominions have been consulted or considered in this general problem of the distribution of population. This is by no means unimportant. Much of the success of this Measure must depend upon securing the good will of labour both in its organised and non-organised aspects, as labour exists in the Dominions of the Empire. So far as I see, the different parts of the Dominion are at present suffering from the general economic dislocation which exists throughout the world. They have their unemployment. So far as I know, their unemployment is centred in the various large towns and cities. At the same time there is the very natural suspicion on the part of those who are unemployed in the large towns and cities, that to send to the Dominions great drafts of unemployed from this country will only intensify the economic situation, and will make worse the degree of unemployment from which they are now suffering. I do not argue that that will necessarily follow, but I do say, judging by the newspapers as I have seen them and by letters sent to labour organisations in this country, that that is so. Therefore I think it is of the highest importance that labour should be not merely consulted in the Dominions, but should be taken into the confidence of the Dominion Governments, and that the co-operation and goodwill of labour should be sought in order that as soon as the emigrants arrive in any part of the Dominions they should be properly trained for the general purposes to which they are going to apply themselves, and that they should have the sympathy, good will, help and co-operation of organised labour as organised labour may exist in the different parts of the Dominions.
I understand that it is intended that the labour of the men who are conveyed from these shores to the Dominions is to be employed solely on land service, and, of course, such occupations as relate immediately to working the land. There would not, to my mind, be either sense or justice in transferring populations from this country to the Dominions unless that were, I will not say the primary, but the sole purpose of this particular class of legislation, yet we have heard nothing as to what is to happen in the case of those who have begun work under all the arrangements and preparations laid down in this Bill, and, having succeeded for some time as an experiment, have never settled. Settlement is one condition, and an attempt or trial is another, and I think that in the large centres of populations in many parts of the Dominions a considerable number of unemployed is made up of those who have tried on the land and have found that they could not succeed. I am not at the moment certain of what may be the varying causes of their want of success, but that is the fact, and some general provision should be made to meet one of the greatest difficulties that may arise from sending either the wrong people or people who may change their minds after a time, and after experience of the new life which they have thought of trying.
Many of those who may go to the Dominions now may find themselves totally unable—landed in remote centres or in some rural part of the Dominion—to forget their earlier life, town life, the amenities and the social surroundings, such as they are, which have become part of their nature. Therefore, the question is, what provisions, if any, are being made, in furtherance of the object of increasing population in these rural centres, to meet such natural desires of masses of people who may be sent from this country? We shall never secure any satisfactory distribution of population unless it be upon the basis of meeting the natural aspirations, inclinations for enjoyment, social life, recreation, entertainment, concerts, the theatre, and so forth. In short, unless the human craving for change and entertainment is catered for, you cannot expect to keep the people permanently on the land, even after you have been able to induce them to go there by free passages and by other inducements. This may be a Bill upon which we can all agree in principle, and it is therefore more important that its details will have to be thrashed out fully in Committee. I shall be interested to find out what is in the minds of those who have authority in the various parts of our Dominions in relation to the natural, human side of this particular problem of emigration. May I express the view that, in thinking of this matter, hon. Members should not keep in mind conditions as they are just at this moment or even during this generation. For these lands to which we are thinking of sending those people will last throughout the ages, and it is a bad thing for any country or any people to sanction any scheme which means giving away, in our generation, that form of property which, in my judgment, ought to be the common property of the people collectively throughout the ages.
I am dealing with what possibly may happen. In our case this was done centuries ago. We came too late for our share in this particular property, which was given away by those who preceded us generations or centuries ago. We are now dealing with a new country, and, whilst very, generous terms must be arranged in order to attract people to work and live on the land, those terms should fall short of actually giving away to people of this age a form of property, which should be retained by all Governments, as the rightful property of the people collectively throughout the centuries. I am certain that that opinion is shared by organised labour in other lands, and I utter it here in order to claim that the view must be considered for what it is worth, and that Labour opinion, particularly in Australia and Canada, must be taken into account by the Governments of the Dominions, which are wishful to act with the Government of the home country. In the main I go a long way, if not all the way, with my hon. and gallant Friend who moved the Second Beading of the Bill as to the purpose of the Measure and particularly as to the objects which he wishes to serve, but I would like throughout the Committee stage of the Bill to have absolute frankness and the fullest possible information on the various points I have raised.
I rise to support this Bill because I feel it is designed to deal with the most pressing problem before the Mother Country at the present time, not only from a national but from an Imperial point of view. This Bill is long overdue. In the past we have been too content at home with talking about our Colonies and oversea Dominions, while we have done very little indeed towards helping them and cementing them to us as part and parcel of the Empire. We may not have had the money to spare in the past, but we might have shown more good will than we have shown. We have been too content to leave our Dominions to get their future citizens from foreign countries. Thus we have run the great risk of forming in those Dominions what one might call a heterogeneous population similar to that of the United States. In the past we have left the question of emigration entirely in the hands of paid agents of shipping companies and railways. They may have been good, bad or indifferent persons, but they have looked upon the question purely from the point of view of pounds, shillings and pence, and apart altogether from the wider Imperial standpoint.
If we are to believe the newspapers of the various Dominions, that is to say, the thinking newspapers, and the letters that are sent to the papers here from the various Dominions, every one of the Colonies and Dominions is crying out for the right type of men and women, and it is up to us to back this Bill and see that they get the type they want. For several centuries British men have been the pioneers of the world. Surely we are not going to lose that proud heritage. The pioneers of the past have been nobly and ably backed up by their wives. I do not think that we as a nation have yet realised what a debt we owe to our early settlers and their wonderful wives. If ever it had been possible for these women to have looked down upon the blood-stained battlefield of Anzac or on Hill 60 and the Vimy Ridge, they would have seen that the hardships they suffered in the early settlement days had been amply repaid, because their spirits had been born anew on those battlefields of the late War. It is very gratifying to think that the dangers which were faced by the early settlers have been mitigated to a great extent. As far as the women are concerned, the trail has been somewhat blazed, and although there is now not any actual danger for them, they will have to face something quite different from what they have at home, and that is loneliness.
The decision as to what men and women should be sent out calls, therefore, for very careful and judicious examination. I would suggest to the hon. and gallant Gentleman in charge of the Bill that a joint Committee should be set up, consisting of business men and women at home and of the participating Dominions, people thoroughly conversant with the industries in the Dominions and at home. Also, there should be an official of the home Government and of the Dominion Governments to go into the whole question. I would suggest, however, that those who have the deciding of the question should be as free as possible from Government control, so that there would be no fear of the scheme being wrecked through interference by successive Governments. I can quits understand the agitation in the minds of many at the thought of sending men away from their own country. I have already had put into my hands a printed pamphlet against this Bill. The pamphlet mentions "driving men from the land" and "ruining agriculture." I am certain that many of my political opponents will agree with me that we are getting too thickly populated at home, both from a feeding and an industrial point of view. It is rather strange to find that the people who come out with the old parrot cry of driving the men from the land of their birth are in the ranks of those who did not think this land worth fighting for during the late War.
It is a pity that the money available for the scheme is so limited. Instead ef its being £3,000,000 a year, I think we ought to make it £20,000,000 a year, and I am looking forward to the time when we can do so. It is a form of State insurance and a gilt-edged security. By backing this Bill and getting a white population in Australia and in Canada we are helping to do away with the bogey of the yellow peril. Not that I am at all afraid of that bogey. People talk glibly of it, but I would remind the House that there was not a single transport bearing our comrades-in-arms from "down-under" during the War that left Australian shores without a Japanese cruiser as escort. We may forget that, but those who were escorted will not forget it. I am not frightened of the Japanese peril. I hope the House will back this Bill unanimously in order that the Governments overseas may realise that the problem is to be settled upon a sound footing, and that emigration is no longer to be haphazard, but is to be dealt with in a scientific way.
No doubt the House will have observed that it is a rather unusual procedure for a Minister responsible in this House for the Admiralty to move the Second Reading of a Bill which would usually be associated with the Colonial Office. But the circumstances were unusual in that my hon. and gallant Friend, who moved the Second Reading in so admirable a speech, has for many years associated himself with this particular subject with an ability and an enthusiasm and an amount of human sympathy which entitle him, perhaps above all other Members of this House, to speak for the object which the Bill has in view. I was glad to hear that my hon. and gallant Friend did not claim for one moment that the provisions of the Bill sought to fulfil the Government promises at the last election or sought to be a palliative or cure for the present condition of unemployment. Indeed, had he suggested that the homes for heroes were to be found in the Dominions and not within these shores, he would have found a large number of people quite ready to contradict him It is clear that there are conditions at home, particularly with regard to the land, which if remedied would mitigate the need for such a Measure as this. I mention one report which has come before the House to-day, the report on the deer forests in the Highlands of Scotland. The only comment I make on that is that those were areas where colonists have been raised, and that if we want to extend the Empire on sound lines the more men and women we raise in the Highlands the better it will be for the Empire and for this country.
At the close of his speech my hon. and gallant Friend said that emigration was no new departure, and he used the right word in describing it as a part of the traditions of this country. Of course it is. If it had not been for emigration from those shores there would now be nothing of what we call the British Empire—I prefer to call it the British Commonwealth of Nations. It is an integral part of our existence as a world-power that there should be emigration from these shores, particularly to our Dominions. It is obvious that there is over-population on these islands at the moment. That cannot be disputed. You have a population here of nearly 394 persons per square mile. In Canada there are only 2.5 per square mile; in Australia 1.8 per square mile; and even in the most densely populated of our self-governing Dominions, New Zealand, it approaches to only 11.7 per square mile. It is therefore perfectly obvious that having the tradition, having the results of the tradition, and having a state of over-population here, there is an unquestioned case for the Bill which the Government has submitted to the House this afternoon. It is the first time that we have had a Government Measure dealing with this great question on anything approaching comprehensive lines, and I for one welcome the not too elaborate but very thorough manner in which my hon. Friend laid the case for the Bill before the House to-day. There are one or two points upon which I should like to have information. I notice with regret that the time during which ex-service men and women can apply for free passages has come to an end. I understand it came to an end on 31st December last. T suggest to my hon. Friend and to the Government that that time might be re- opened, for a short period, at any rate, and for this reason. The conditions which have developed during the past 12 months in this country of severe unemployment and of industrial and social uncertainty have unfairly handicapped ex-service men and women in arriving at a decision so important as that of leaving these shores and going to places so far distant as our Dominions beyond the seas. Taking into account the exceptional circumstances of the case, the Government might very well re-open that period and allow certainly another 12 months to elapse before the time is definitely and finally closed. There is a real case in the entirely exceptional circumstances which have arisen, and there is, of course, the overwhelming case of the debt which we owe to the ex-service men and women for their services to us and to the whole of the British Empire. I hope this matter will be brought up in Committee, because it is well within the scope of the Bill, that it will receive sympathetic attention, and that it will be considered with the intention on the part of the Government of doing something in connection with it. There are three points which should be carefully considered in Committee, and which may be mentioned in connection with the Second Reading of this Bill. First, every precaution should be taken to ensure that in or through these approved organisations no measure of compulsion is allowed to creep into the scheme. Such a thing might be done, and might have serious results. It is a danger to be most carefully safeguarded against, for if anyone leaves under this scheme with a sense of injustice or with a sense of being forced to undertake the new career, a very large amount of the benefit will be lost.
I can only speak in perfectly general terms, and what I mean is that there should be no user in or through these approved organisations of any methods of so putting the choice to any man or woman who comes before them that it is not a real choice at all, but is, in fact, compulsion. It is a matter which could easily arise, and I mention it now as a danger to be guarded against. It is the voluntary element which we wish to preserve. I suggest that this is a point for careful consideration in Committee, and I merely give a broad warning now on the Second Reading. Another point is this. We have here a large or, at any rate, a comprehensive Government scheme. It is essential that there should be Governmental co-operation, linked with efficient voluntary aid, and I am glad to know from the reports which I have read of speeches made by distinguished representatives of the Dominions in this country, particularly those from Australia, that there is not only the intention to co-operate, but that schemes are already in operation or are being formed for efficient co-operation. I do not wish to select any one particular State in any invidious manner, but I have been very much impressed by the scheme laid before various Members of this House by the Prime Minister of Western Australia. There is a working model which might be applied to all the Dominions overseas. There is first of all a man who has got his heart in the business in the person of the Prime Minister of that State, and then there is a really efficient machine for bringing the emigrant into touch with the actual position in which he may be expected most beneficially to operate. That is not only done through the official channel, but there is linked up with it an efficient and sympathetic voluntary organisation.
Another point and a most important one is that care should be taken—very special care—in the cases of women and girls. I am glad to notice in the report of the Overseas Settlement Committee which I have before me, that two or three pages are specially devoted to this matter. I hope not only will the work which is being done by the Society for the Overseas Settlement of British Women continue, but that it will be very much enlarged and developed on broader and more substantial lines. No one can contemplate without horror the idea of women and girls leaving this country, especially under a Government scheme, without the most complete protection which can possibly be afforded to them. I was very glad indeed to hear the tribute which my hon. Friend paid to the voluntary associations which have already done such splendid work in connection with this scheme, including Dr. Barnado's Homes. I entirely endorse what has been said as to the need for arranging for the emigration of persons sufficiently young. If you get a youth or a young girl to go out, he or she is much more likely to make an efficient citizen in the Dominions, than those who have reached an age of 25 or 30 years. These have home ties and home associations which often make it very difficult for them to settle down and become an integral part of the Dominion of which they have elected to be citizens. This calls for careful safeguarding and I am glad to know the point is fully in the minds of my hon. Friend and of those who work with and assist him in this important matter.
There is one further point, on which I shall conclude. We ought to take long views on a subject of this kind. It is very easy indeed to make political capital in connection with such a scheme as this by saying: "You are trying to evade your obligations by exporting to distant countries men who ought to have com fortable and well-paid positions at home." That is a very simple and very easy way of getting a certain amount of notoriety and cheap applause, but after all—and I emphasise this once again—this is a traditional part of the existence of the British Commonwealth of nations, and this Government scheme is only another step and a step in the right direction, towards seeing that abuses, such as those to which reference has been made, are suppressed. I hope the result will be to sweep away once and for all the fraudulent emigration agent—not all emigration agents at all, but those men who have from time to time preyed upon people not able to protect themselves and easily led away, as people always will be as long as human nature is what it is, by fancy pictures of conditions which do not actually exist. Let us never forget that every new asset in citizenship in the Dominions beyond the seas, creates employment within these shores. It cannot affect of course the situation for the next two or three years, but the long view is the right view for such an Assembly as this to take. Our forefathers legislated, looking forward to centuries ahead of their own time and it is our business to do the same thing. I am glad once again to express my gratification at the broad, statesmanlike, human and sympathetic way in which the matter has been introduced to-day.
I join with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) in his tribute to the hon. Gentleman who introduced this Measure on his very admirable speech. I would like to congratulate the hon. Gentleman on having induced the Cabinet to give effect to the policy of co-operation in so far as settlement in the overseas Dominions is concerned. At the same time, I must confess to a feeling of grave disappointment at the limitation contained in the provision which restricts expenditure in this year to something like one and a half million pounds. That, in my opinion, is totally inadequate, when it is considered that a small State like Victoria alone has spent within the last two years something like two million pounds in the settlement of 10,000 settlers. However, I suppose we must be satisfied with small mercies, and I hope, after the admirable reception which the House has given to this Measure, the hon. Gentleman may be encouraged to induce the Government to bring in a further Measure later on, of a more comprehensive character, enabling us to give more effect than the present Bill does to the scheme of the policy which it proposes to support. The question of inter-Empire migration has received a great amount of prominence during the last few months, and, personally, I think this has been very largely due to the fact that we have had a very distinguished gentleman, who is a Member in another place, visiting Australia and New Zealand, and he has been able to give publicity to his views on the question of the necessity of population in these two great Dominions. I, in common with other Australians, feel that we are under an obligation to that gentleman for the publicity that has been given. No one can go to Australia and travel there without coming away impressed with the magnitude of the task of this small handful of people of something like 5,500,000, who are endeavouring to develop and hold this great continent of 3,000,000 square miles, with a coastline of something like 14,000 miles.
Secondly, I think the dearth of employment in this country has impressed upon us all that there is not sufficient work to go round, and the taxpayer especially has been impressed by the fact that we are at the present time paying employment allowances to no fewer than 1,700,000 people. That means an expenditure at the present time of something like £1,000,000 a day, I was informed by an official in the Ministry of Labour during the Recess. I feel sure that those of us who have listened to the speech made by the hon. Member will realise that, if this policy be given effect to, it will improve those conditions in regard to employment very considerably, and the fact that there are two Prime Ministers here from Australia, who have practical schemes to lay before the Government, makes the question one which should be dealt with while they are on the spot I notice that one of our economic writers has recently stated that the over-population in England cannot possibly be solved or its evils be appreciably mitigated by any scheme of emigration. No one can argue that it is going to do anything in a very large way, but if we can take 100,000 over this year, it will certainly be a considerable help. I join issue with the writer when he says that the interests of the Dominions in this matter are not identical with the interests of the Home Country, because it must be realised that every shipload of emigrants from this country provides potential employers for many of our workmen in this homeland. I have given the House before an example where simultaneously with a number of emigrants leaving from Glasgow orders were placed in that city, providing work there for something like 500 men on locomotive construction. We have got to realise what oversea development means to the trade of this country. Only the other day New Zealand raised £5,000,000 in this country, and £3,000,000 of that loan is being expended here, thus providing employment in this homeland. Surely that is one of the best evidences that we can have of the necessity of doing all that we can to encourage the development of our Oversea Dominions.
I do not speak without some knowledge on the subject of emigration. It is a matter in which I have been very much interested, and during the time that I was Agent-General for Western Australia —and, by the way, I was representing a Labour Government—I sent out from 30,000 to 40,000 emigrants from this country, and I am not aware of half-a-dozen failures. That is practical evidence of the success of a properly organised system of emigration. From a perusal of the Bill, it will be agreed that practical advantage can be taken of it only by those portions of the Dominions that have some ready-made scheme prepared to deal with the problem at the present time. Western Australia, Victoria, and South Australia have such schemes which the Government will be able to take into consideration. Canada is in an entirely different position from Australia. She is within comparatively easy distance of this country, and consequently is better able to attract a good class of settlers. She has, adjacent to that 4,200 miles of ungarrisoned frontier, a population of 100,000,000 to draw from, most of whom are of Anglo-Saxon descent. having the same ideals and aspirations, people with capital, men who are well acquainted with modern agricultural methods and have wide agricultural experience. One can quite understand that with her the problem is not nearly so pressing as it is with some of the Southern Dominions. Yet, as has been pointed out by the hon. Gentleman, the Canadian Cabinet have appointed a Special Committee to formulate a more active policy of emigration from this country. So far as South Africa is concerned, there are men in this House who can speak from a closer knowledge of the conditions there, but anyone who has given any consideration to the question at all must be convinced that it is essential that the comparatively small garrison of white people in the Union of South Africa and also Rhodesia should be reinforced.
I wish to confine myself to the Dominions under the Southern Cross, one of which, Australia, I am proud to claim as my birthplace, and I would say that three States have now formulated practical schemes that I believe will bear the closest investigation. I am more particularly interested in the scheme for Western Australia, because I was Prime Minister of Western Australia for five years, and this scheme is the proposal of my right-hand man who was associated in connection with me in the various development schemes during my term of officer. I do not think, so far as Labour is concerned, that they need anticipate that here is going to be much objection from Australia. A man who goes on the land under the Western Australian scheme, which is practically a land settle- ment scheme, is not going to do any man out of a job. He is going to make work for others. Sir James Mitchell, in connection with the scheme which he has submitted, desires this Government to guarantee the interest on £3,000,000 for five years. During three years of that period he will settle something like 75,000 people on the land. The half-interest on that amounts to £750,000 over the five years. Therefore, it is only going to cost this country £750,000 for those five years, or £10 for each man taken out and settled on the land. These 75,000 men are part of the 2,000,000 unemployed here at the present time. You are going to place them on the land at a cost of £10 per head, whereas it is costing you £26 per year per head in doles here. Consequently you are relieving the Exchequer and effecting a saving. You pay £750,000 towards the scheme, whereas, if these 75,000 remained unemployed, you would spend almost £2,000,000. Therefore, from that point of view it is in the best interests of the taxpayer that these people should be given the opportunity of participating in this proposal and becoming citizens of no mean country having an area of a million square miles extending from latitude 15 to latitude 35 from the tropical to the temperate climate. In the south-west, where it is suggested the people should be settled, it is a very temperate climate indeed, with a steady, unfailing rainfall of from 20 to 40 inches. Each man is given 160 acres of land, of which it is guaranteed that at least 100 acres are cultivable, and an allowance of £750 will be advanced to him by the Agricultural Bank. Of that sum, £200 will be allotted to provide him with a house, £300 for clearing, £100 for stock, £50 for fencing, and another £50 for horse and cart and other necessary equipment. Those men going out are not going to interfere with the labour market in any way, because each man is going out to his own 160 acres and is going to work for himself. The advance he gets from the Agricultural Bank is to provide and maintain he and his family for two years. He has no rent to pay, and no repayment commences until five years after he is settled on the land and after the land becomes a reproductive proposition. Consequently at that time he will owe something like £750, but will be in possession of a vastly improved holding of 160 acres, with a house and a cer- tain amount of land cleared. The period for repayment is spread over something like 30 years. The more successful he is, the sooner he is able to pay off the loan. This is the scheme which Sir James considers will provide for something like 75,000 people, not 75,000 individual workers, but, taking an average family of a man and wife; with three or four children, it will provide for, say, 15,000 workers.
We consider that on a goldfield or in any industry in Australia employing 100 men you can reckon that there will be a township of at least 600 people established in the vicinity. Therefore, when we send out a man to work and develop a country he will create not only employment for the people in the surrounding districts, but also employment for people here, as the land is developed, so you must give the necessary transport facilities, which means that you must lay down light agricultural railways, provide locomotives and rolling stock, and all that comes from this country. The money is expended here, and consequently gives employment here. We have settled, as a result of that Agricultural Bank policy, something like 15,000 settlers, and I know of but very few failures. While we are making this paltry contribution, the State where the people go to has to provide transport facilities, put down railway lines, provide post offices, agricultural halls, and educational facilities. The House will therefore realise the obligations that are imposed on the State itself. What was the result of that agricultural development policy? In 1905, we were in (hat State importing wheat; in 1906, the output of wheat was something like 2,600,000 bushels, and seven years later it went up to no less than 18,236,000 bushels, or nearly 700 per cent. increase, as a, result of this enlightened policy of agricultural development.
I do not wish to say too much about my own State. I can only say that equal opportunities exist in others. Victoria has a proposal for settlement which is entirely different from that in Western Australia. A man is put on irrigated areas of from 10 to 15 acres, where he is assisted by the State. In South Australia, as has been pointed out, the Premier, Mr. Barwell, has a scheme for taking out boys, under which they are allotted to the various farmers and paid a certain wage, a certain amount being retained and made available for them at the expiration of their term, when, therefore, they will be in possession of a certain amount of money and have that experience which is necessary in order to make successful settlers. Surely there is no country in the world which can appeal more to the democrat than Australia. Out of seven Prime Ministers four have been trade union leaders, and, of those four, three have been immigrants, one from Scotland, one from England, and one from that little country which apparently is making an industry of providing Prime Ministers for the British Empire. Therefore, as I say, every citizen of the State has the right to aspire to becoming the first citizen of the country, and I do not think that we need anticipate that there will be any opposition to speak of from the Labour party.
It is 22 years ago that Mr. Chamberlain introduced the Australian Commonwealth Constitution Bill, and, in the course of his speech, that great statesman said:
Irrespective of party, we rejoice at the proposal, and welcome the birth of this new nation, and anticipate for the Commonwealth a future even more prosperous than their past, and an honourable and important position in the history of the Anglo-Saxon race.
I think it will be agreed that the most sanguine anticipations have been realised, and that the Dominions have indeed played their part.
In conclusion, may I say I personally look upon the Bill simply as an evidence of goodwill on the part of Parliament and the people of this country towards their own kith and kin beyond the seas, and an endorsement of their faith that the prosperity of the Empire depends upon the cordial co-operation of the Mother Country with the different Dominions and Colonies that go to make up that wonderful entity the British Empire. I trust, therefore, that it is but an instalment of a comprehensive policy which, while relieving to some extent a certain amount of unemployment in this country, will assist in the development of the Empire, and, at the same time, give the individual a better chance of making good.
I do not think that we could have listened to a more complete exposition of the case than we have had to-day from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty. I am surprised, interested, and very pleased to see a House so large as that to-day for the purpose of discussing the question of migration. There are speakers who have already taken part in the Debate who have never taken part before. I remember when I first came into the House I used to put down an Amendment to the Address calling attention to the question of migration and suggesting an Imperial scheme. I was not called, so I went to the Speaker after the second time, and I said, "Mr. Speaker, you did not call me. Is not the subject interesting to the House?" "Oh," he said, "a subject may be interesting, but you have got no supporters." And he was right. I had no supporters, and I never had any supporters in this House on migration until a few years ago, when some Members came into the House who understood the question, and who took an interest in it. I am therefore very pleased and gratified to see so large a number of Members to-day actively interested and taking part in the Debate.
The Parliamentary Secretary's speech was so complete that it leaves very little to be said other than by way of criticism. I have not come here for the purpose of criticising, and therefore I do not propose to criticise. At the same time, I should like to say a word or two about the speech of the right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes). I was very pleased, indeed, to see him rise. This is the second time he has risen when Debates on emigration have taken place, and the second time he has given useful counsel to the House. Some of us do not altogether agree with his views. At the same time, we want to hear these views, because unless we know the views of Labour, we cannot discuss, much less solve, the question of migration. He was rather anxious to know how the money was going to the approved societies, and I should like very much to know how much of this £1,500,000 is going to the approved societies. What part of it is to be allocated, say, to the Salvation Army, and what part to the Church Army? Are these societies to be supported by the State, and by the taxpayers' money? I should like information on these things, and I think the right hon. Member for Platting was quite right in asking the question.
Then the right hon. Gentleman referred to the initial allowances. That is also a very important matter. Are these to be by way of loan or gift? I suggest that they should always be made by way of loan. In the case of the Central Emigration Board, it was done by loan, with the result that we repeatedly turned over money received from private individuals, and were able to emigrate over 3,000 people to the Dominions. The right hon. Member was also anxious about labour organisations in the Dominions, and said they should be consulted. They are always consulted, because, as the hon. Member who has just sat down said, so many of the Prime Ministers in Australia are members of trade unions, and are always in touch with the trade unions there. In Canada, the Government is equally in touch with the labour unions, and knows perfectly well what views those unions take. Labour organisations are not always anxious to see this migration to the other side, and it will take a considerable amount of persuasion to induce any large number of organisations of labour, either in Canada or Australia, to accept a very wide scheme of migration. But I think, if the proper lines are taken, they will no doubt come into the Government scheme.
The right hon. Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) quite astonished me, because I never before heard a speech from the right hon. Member on this subject either inside or outside the House. This, I take it, was his maiden effort, and I am afraid I cannot congratulate him upon it. It was a very poor effort. When he introduced the subject of land, and I made an interjection, he appeared to suppose that I thought land had nothing whatever to do with migration. But whenever I have dealt with the subject, as I have for many years, I have always talked about land. Land settlement is a very important matter in connection with migration, and, therefore, of course, it comes into it. Then the right hon. Gentleman said he wanted the soldiers' and sailors' settlement scheme to be continued. Of course, soldiers and sailors will come in under this scheme, just as anyone else. Apparently a man who has been Chairman of the Central Emigration Board for 14 years, as I have been, and has sent 3,000 emigrants oversea, is, in the opinion of the right hon. Member, a perfectly incompetent person. That may be his opinion, and I bow to it. He is also anxious about women and girls. He appeared to suppose that this was the first time they were ever migrated from this country. The migration of women and girls has been going on from this country for years and years. Look at the women's emigration societies, who have done splendid work. And is it to be supposed that these societies are not as anxious about women and girls as the right hon. Gentleman is? Of course they are, and proper matrons and people have been sent out to take charge of the women and girls, who have been very well placed, on the other side. Nothing much has gone wrong with them, and I do not suppose much will go wrong with the women and girls under the State scheme.
The hon. Gentleman who introduced the Bill told us he was anxious about child emigration. My first experience was in advocating child emigration. I well recollect the meeting of the London boards of guardians 23 years ago, in which the London boards of guardians were unanimous on the question of child emigration, and the scheme was accepted by the Colonial Institute. I submit we ought to utilise more the boards of guardians for the migration of children. They have special funds for the purpose, and have an enormous number of children under their charge—children who can be emigrated, and are now emigrated through Barnardo's Homes and other societies of that kind. They should be emigrated direct, and the guardians should pay a certain portion of the money towards the cost on the other side. If this were done, it would relieve the State of a certain amount of money from the public purse, and also provide Canada and Australia with a very large number of juvenile emigrants.
There was another matter to which the hon. Gentleman called attention. He suggested that people in Canada and Australia should hold out the right hand of fellowship to the new arrivals. That is a very necessary thing in migration work, and in our Board we had a Settlers Information League. Men and women on this side prepared to help and on the
other side to act as "friends" to anyone we sent out. I see that system is now being taken up by the Commonwealth of Australia. I suggest that it should also be adopted in Canada, and I hope the hon. Gentleman who introduced the Debate will take a note of this, and will, so far as he possibly can, endeavour to persuade the Overseas Dominions to adopt this system generally. I think there is a general consensus of opinion that the Bill should be passed, but there is also an element in the House—and I have no doubt we shall hear it—who do not regard the matter Imperially. I regard the whole British race as one people with one destiny, possessing the same glorious heritage, and subjects of the same illustrious Sovereign. One might almost quote the words of Byron:
Far as the breeze can bear, the billows foam,
Survey our Empire, and behold our home.
That is the keynote. You must always think of the Overseas Dominions as your home, just as you think of the United Kingdom as your home. That is what they do over there. They always talk about homo when they are coming here, and when you are going over there, you should talk about going home. Looking back, I confess to a feeling of disappointment at the progress of development in this matter. Everyone remembers the story of Sir Arthur Helps. Thank God! those days have gone by. Perhaps hon. Members do not remember the story I told in this House of Mr. Fronde, who, when I was writing an article in the Pacific about Samoa, said, "What is the good of writing about that place? No one is going to read it." I said, "Perhaps some of our statesmen at home may read it." He replied, "They will never read anything about that." That was the view of Mr. Froude, an historian of very great importance. Since then we have made a great advance, but, although we have made a great advance, we have failed in one duty, and that is, we have never had an Imperial migration and colonisation policy. To-day we have got that, but it has taken a long time to get it. Twice Mr. Deakin, when Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia, proposed a joint scheme at the Imperial Conference. He was supported by Sir Wilfred Laurier on both occasions. All that they asked was that
this country should assist financially. The reply they got from the spokesman of the British Cabinet was: "State-aided emigration is not favourably regarded here: Votes of Imperial money for migration purposes are opposed to settled policy of Parliament." Unfortunately that was the case for many, many years. I am glad to say it is so no longer. Parliament is now willing to vote as much money as it can towards migration purposes. Hitherto we have had neither financial assistance from the State nor guidance. The difficulty has been to find a unified platform and an associated programme. I congratulate the hon. Gentleman who introduced the Debate upon having found that unified platform and that associated programme. The difficulty arose mainly because while Canada has always offered free land and other facilities, while Australia has offered certain facilities and in some cases free land and assisted passages, this country has always regarded migration as being a domestic matter, and has always refused State funds. The consequence is that millions have left these shores for America there to help in building up tariff walls against this country, when by the aid of State assistance and State guidance they might have remained citizens of the British Empire. An American once said to me, "You British people are a very singular lot. You annex half the world and then take no interest in its development." There was a good deal in that remark. It is inconceivable that any other Power would have adopted the suicidal policy the British Government has adopted in the matter of migration. No man of business would have treated his property in the way we have treated the property of the Empire. We have lands still untilled, lands awaiting cultivation, and also, it must not be forgotten, that some of our shores, especially the shores of Australia, are open at any moment to foreign invasion, particularly in the Northern quarter. President Roosevelt said:
Beware of keeping your Northern country empty; an unarmed nation invites disaster.
Lord Kitchener said almost the same thing. Others have said it, and no attempt has been made on our side to help to fill up the empty spaces. All we have done in this country is to cut down
the Navy to the bone, disband regiments that have taken centuries to build up, and have left the Empire, so far as its defence is concerned in the Northern part of Australia, to take its chance. That is not a proper conception of Empire. What a tradition to hand down to posterity! The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting said very properly— and doubtless he will be supported by a number of speakers—that we were emigrating our best, and he further said we could not afford to emigrate our best. He was interrupted by an hon. Member who asked: "Why not?" I say: "Why not?"
If you try to keep all the best here the result will be that the best will not get any work, and a great many people who ought to be employed will not be employed. I submit that if you send some of the best to Australia and Canada they will be able to work out their own salvation, and they will help to build up the outside portions of the Empire, and this will help those who are left at home. If we are to consider the requirements of this country alone, well, then, I say it is "goodbye to Empire." An insular policy is not compatible with an Empire policy. The late Mr. Chamberlain told us that we were to think Imperially. Therefore we ought to act Imperially. If we are out to be Empire builders we cannot at the same time be Little Englanders. No Empire, no State was built up by the halt, the lame, and the blind. Therefore I say that the Overseas Dominions are perfectly right when they say, send us of your best. I may also say that in doing so we are only following the advice given to us by the King when as Prince of Wales he told us the Dominions asked for suitable emigrants. Obviously they must be of the best of our people!
Some figures were given to us by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles of the population and of the area of this country and of the Overseas Dominions. These are accurate, and I do not think that one can say anything on that except to emphasise the fact that it is an important factor in the discussion that we have 370 people to the square mile in this country against hardly two in Canada and Australia. We are overcrowded. Some hon. Members will remember the Poor Law Commission, and its Report, and especially the labour aspect of it, because in that Report it wits said unemployment in this country was constant and increasing. Let us never forget that! It is not only unemployment to-day; there is always unemployment with us. That was the evidence of the Poor Law Commission, on which many eminent Labour representatives sat. I remember, too, that the late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, a long time ago, told us—I forget the number—that some millions of people were always on the verge of starvation in this country. Where would some people be to-day without the dole? On the verge of starvation! Of course they would! The War has not made us richer; it has made us poorer. I think that the time has come when we must have a redistribution of the peoples of this Empire. It is necessary for the welfare of England. Here is a point I would like to impress on Labour Members opposite. Many of their advocates on the platform have some idea that we want to send these people away, not for their good, but for the good of somebody else. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] That is not the case at all. We want to send them away for their own good. [An HON. MEMBER: "And bring them back again!"] They came back in the War. What would you have done without them? If we had fostered our reserves of men by encouraging settlement within the Empire instead of allowing our surplus population to drift into the United States of America, how different would have been the situation to-day! The untitled lands of Canada and Australia would not now be crying aloud for spade and ploughshare. The demand for preferential treatment would never have arisen, there would have been Free Trade within "he Empire. That, I say, would have been the result if we had sent our surplus population to Australia and Canada.
Just one word about the land. I see the hon. and gallant Member for New-castle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) is anxious to speak on the land. I hope he will listen to me, and perhaps there may be one or two points upon which he may subsequently comment. I have here some figures as to council schemes of land settlement. The present total capital commitments of county councils and councils of county boroughs for land settlement schemes in England and Wales is estimated, in round figures, at £15,000,000. This expenditure has been advanced by way of loan repayable by the councils. Since December of 1918, the date of the inception of the Land Settlement Scheme, a little over 17,000 applicants have been settled by the councils. Three thousand more have been accepted on completion of certain adaptations and equipments. The average annual loss per holding, after making provision for the repayment of loans and the expenses of the council are £28 16s. 0d., just £1 more than the sum the hon. Gentleman said it would cost to migrate one person under the Government scheme, and this not to place him out for a year or two, but to give him permanent employment, and probably a competency for life. The average capital cost for settling people on the land in this country is £824. Just listen to the particulars of the Small Holdings Act, 1916. Here the Government acquired 25,000 acres. 12,000 acres were purchased outright. 8,600 acres were got in consideration of a rent charge of £17,000, rising to £20,000. The remainder on an annual rent of £6,500. The net outlay on the land has been £433,000, and what is the yield? The yield is 2 per cent. How many persons have been benefited? 600 odd, and there are a few more to come. The cost to the State in capital has been £730 per head. This, adding £27,000 paid in rent, means nearly £1,200 per head, and in this you must remember among these persons there are 123 who are only wage-earners.
You have only to contrast that with the schemes in Western Australia. I do not want to go into them. Some have already been touched upon in this Debate, but there you will find that a very much smaller sum is involved. In fact, we are told that the total cost of a holding in Western Australia stocking, pasturing, &c., is only about £700, and here not only can any man who may go out make a living for his wife and family, but he has a freehold farm and can look forward to a competence and rest in his old age. Hero our leasehold small holdings cost about £1,200. They only bring into the State 2 per cent., and the men can hardly get a living out of them. No wonder then that the Government have decided to suspend the scheme in view of the waste of money.
When I was on the London (Central) Unemployed Body we went into the question of relief work. Excluding Hollesley Bay, and taking the period from the time the Central Body began operations to 31st May, 1910, 23,000 men were given work in London at the expense of the State. After deducting recoupments from gross outlay the net amount expended in round figures was £222,000. The average employment of each man was 9.66 weeks in the year. So that the actual cost to the State per man worked out at about £1 per week. Compare that with the emigration figures of the London (Central) Unemployed Body. The Central Body migrated 9,140 persons, men, women, and children, between 23rd November, 1905, and 31st May, 1910, at a cost of £69,594 provided out of the rates. Of this sum emigrants promised to repay £24,300, and about 27 per cent. of this was received up to the date of the body dissolving, leaving the net cost of migration at £62,831, or £6 15s. per head compared with £9 10s. per year expended on relief work in London for an average period of nine weeks. Hon. Members must not leave out of account that in one case permanent good was done and in the other temporary relief only was afforded. Then we have been reminded to-day of the Soldiers' Settlement Scheme and how-it has worked out. We have heard that some 100,000 ex-service men and their families have migrated to Canada, Australia, and South Africa, at a cost to the taxpayer of £2,700,000, or about £27 per head. Adding contributions from the National Relief Fund it comes to £28 per head. If these people had stayed at home probably all would have been out of employment to day, and would have been costing the taxpayer not less than £3,000,000. But that is not the only point of view. What of the future of these people? Assuming that work has been found, the presence of these people who have gone would have been a continual handicap to their fellow workers, with the peril of unemployment always hanging over their heads, accompanied by its deteriorating conditions. All these people overseas are now mostly well employed, are earning good wages, with the prospect of becoming owners of their own farms; and I think we may say in many cases of very substantial farms. If you keep them here there is no opportunity for them to develop their natural abilities. Of course here and there the best get on. There may be from 10 to 20 per cent. but in Australia and Canada they all get on. I am aware that there is unemployment there, but we have that everywhere, and the people unemployed there may be unemployed because of the particular economic position of those countries at the present day. But neither in Canada nor Australia is there any permanent large amount of unemployment, at any rate it was not the case when I was there, and I do not think it is row.
My view has always been that emigration must be regarded as an Empire matter, you cannot deal with it as it has been dealt with in the past from the standpoint of emigration on the one side and immigration on the other. Migration is an entity possessing an interest which is common alike to the Governments and peoples of the Dominions and the Motherland. It is for this reason that for some years now, when referring to emigration or immigration I have used the phrase, "Migration within the Empire," and I am glad to see that that phrase has now become familiar in almost every speech and with almost every writer. Migration work is surrounded with great difficulties, and it has many pitfalls. It must not be supposed that because we have got a scheme which has been very elaborately worked out and explained that it is going to work very easily. The wheels will have to be greased. Not the least disconcerting difficulty in the migration problem are the political issues. These issues arise not only here but also in the Oversea Dominions. The main points we have to consider are the social, the economic and the Imperial aspects of the problem, and unless these are considered and carefully probed to the bottom and minutely examined in every way—as they affect both the Motherland and the Dominions—you will never find a satisfactory solution of the migration problem.
I think I have now addressed the House long enough, and it is very considerate of hon. Members to have been so patient. My only excuse is that I have made a special study of migration matters for over 25 years. I have been 15 years chairman of the Central Migration Board, and I have taken a great interest and spent much time in trying to work up this question of migration. I have tried to impress an Imperial scheme not only upon Members of Parliament but upon many of the statesmen of this country, and I do not think I have missed an opportunity of impressing it upon the Prime Ministers of any Province or State who have visited this country. I am glad at last to sec that we have secured from the Government a recognition of Imperial migration.
The House may congratulate itself to-day upon the discussion of new phase of migration, and that the discussion has been introduced in a speech by the Secretary to the Admiralty, who brings to bear on this subject a well-known enthusiasm, an Empire knowledge, and keen Imperial sense. It is quite true that migration is not new, but it is equally true that to-day marks a unique step and that in this Bill we have a proposal for the Government of this country to interest itself in a coordinated Empire scheme, and as such I am pleased to note a general welcome in most quarters of the House. It is truly an Empire subject. The Secretary to the Admiralty has dwelt upon the overcrowded condition of this country, and he has given us the other side of the picture, showing the enormous areas of unoccupied, unfilled country throughout the Empire. He has also dwelt upon the great value of citizens in the Dominions oversea as potential customers to this country. He has touched upon their value as individual units in the defence of the Empire, and I would like to urge the further enormous value arising from a constant stream from this country to the Dominions continually reconstituting those silken threads which so firmly bind the Empire together.
These vast resources are blessed with suitable climates, and the people already there have adapted the country to new methods which all make for the profitable exploitation of those resources, and the one needful element is population. That is the great essential required in almost every part of our Dominions oversea. Look where you will, speaking of the older Dominions, I think we should be correct in saying that the existing populations have more or less reached the limit of achievement in dealing with the huge areas which are committed to their charge, and if development there is to be extended further, population is absolutely essential, leaving alone the question of defending the unoccupied areas in certain parts of the Dominions where there are certain menaces, which we all have in our minds. It is an Empire task to fill up those spaces, and this country can supply that one needful essential, that is population, not only without injury to itself, but with great benefit to itself.
With regard to capital, I think that is one thing which the Dominions should always acknowledge as something which they have received abundantly from this country from the earliest days. I do not join with those who say the Dominions have been entirely neglected in this respect because I think they have been most favoured people as regards money from this country, and that has led to a great deal of the success which they have achieved up to date. Some speakers, including the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes), have dwelt on the fact that migration means taking the best people from this country. I think that is a phrase which is very much overdone, because I do not believe that it is the best people who go. I have been a Minister of Immigration in one of the States of Australia, and my experience is that we get quite an average class of people, and with the help of some of the emigration agents we even get a certain percentage which might very well have been left behind. We do not simply pick out the best of the people here for emigration, but we take quite the average citizen.
The position to-day as regards migration is very different to what it was many years ago. In the early days, apart from the fact that a certain percentage were perhaps no good to any country, I believe the Dominions did receive a very remarkable type of citizen. With the difficulties surrounding migration in those days, it was only the man of venturesome spirit and initiative who went forth to people the new countries, but to-day most of the Dominions have developed, and the facts concerning them are well placed before the people. In addition the standard of life is quite established, and in some of them it may be said to be better than the standard in the home country. The new Dominions do not necessarily to-day attract only the venturesome, but they attract the men who find a difficulty in making a satisfactory living here and who wish to go to a country about which they know a great deal. Whilst this Empire settlement scheme will, in so far as it is successful, contribute something towards a solution of the temporary acute unemployment position in this country, I agree with other speakers that it is only a slight contribution to the problem, and it is not an answer or a means of escape. The unemployment issue in this country is one which must be dealt with as a definite and independent problem of itself, and the remedies for it must be looked for elsewhere than merely in migration. Migration is a factor in helping the immediate position and a greater factor towards solving unemployment in the distant future, taking a long view.
One form has a special value in relation to unemployment, which I am pleased to note has received general commendation to-day, and that is the emigration of boys. Personally I am interested greatly in this form of emigration. I think I was responsible for the first Act in the British Dominions which dealt with the emigration of young boys. I notice that the South Australian Premier to-day is proposing to take out 6,000 boy emigrants. His proposal is not quite an imitation of the idea, but it is carrying out under that Act a proposal which was suspended during the War. The Act was passed in 1913, and we only had the opportunity of carrying out a small experiment under it. As a matter of fact, owing to our having a certain number of berths unfilled in an emigrant ship, I had to cable home on one occasion to send enough boys to fill the vacant berths, and in 12 days they had to get together 85 boys. They took a certain number from the Boy Scouts, the Church Lads' Brigade, and similar bodies.
It was a very interesting and successful experiment, and there are certain sides of it which suggests different methods of handling. The ship on which these boys went out fortunately had a captain who was interested in the boys, and he was made a scout master. The boys on board became scouts, and they did drill during the voyage, and in that way were kept out of mischief. A suggestion has been made that the boys should be trained in the State. It would be a mistake to put them on training farms—it is better for them to go out directly to the farms, particularly where there is a housewife, where the people can be made interested in a young child, and the boys under those conditions will more readily adapt themselves to a practical life, and in addition they will be earning wages from the start. Under such schemes most of the wages are saved in order to form a fund until the boys attain the age of 21, when they will have that fund to enable them, to take the first step to become farmers on their own account. Boys put out on the farms individually will prosper much more than if they are put on a training farm. I believe there is an old saying that a boy is a boy, that two boys are only half a boy, and that three boys are none at all. There is a good deal of truth in it when you have them at that age, and I really believe that the wisest course is to place boys on individual farms, choosing them after a limited period of training in this country so as to eliminate, as far as possible, those not likely to make a success. When you get your boys, put them in a position to learn the practical side of the life they are to lead.
This form of emigration lends itself to the solution of the unemployment question in the future. Chronic unemployment in this country is caused more by blind-alley occupations than by anything else. Blind-alley occupations lead to inefficiency—to young fellows being thrown into life without a training in any particular work, with the result that they become inefficient and a burden on the country. Emigration would do a great deal towards minimising that blind-alley occupation, and in so far as there are occupations of that sort, I would suggest that they be filled by older men, by men too old for ordinary work, or by disabled men, and by men from classes which otherwise cannot be usefully employed. It is a form of occupation for which one need not trouble to supply the best possible class of labour. I am pleased that this Bill recognises that this Empire-settlement emigration requires the expenditure of capital, or at any rate assistance from this country in the provision of capital for developing the country as an accompaniment to emigration. I am pleased that as part and parcel of this co-ordinated scheme the Government is willing to share the responsibility of finding that capital, or the interest upon it for a given period. That is a most useful proposal. In the main, of course, the capital should be found by the Dominion which receives the emigrants, but if during the period while the emigrants are learning the conditions of the country, and the farm is being brought into the stage of productiveness—if during that period the interest bill of the Dominion can be lightened by a contribution from this country it is, I think, a very legitimate form of assistance from this country which would be very helpful to the Dominions concerned.
I can only speak with knowledge of Australia. There are great opportunities out there for men and women to become settlers to-day. It is a mistake, in considering this subject, to talk of emigration only in terms of absolute guarantee. It is impossible to guarantee success to every person who goes out, but if you can guarantee a certain percentage of success, you have done a splendid thing for the Dominion and for the great bulk of the individuals who go out. A guarantee cannot be given to every man who goes out as an emigrant. He must take his chance in the new country as, indeed, he has to take it in the old country. The only thing is by schemes well thought out by the Mother Country and the Dominion to minimise the difficulties confronting the emigrant and to soften the conditions of life in a new country. To that extent only can we guarantee assistance and support to the emigrant himself. But in these new countries you cannot have a stream of people coming there unless at the same time there is another stream of money to provide for the building of railways, to open up land, and to construct irrigation works. Without that it will be merely town emigration, and that, is not of much use to any of the parties concerned. With regard to the money that this Government is proposing to contribute in some form or another to the development of these lands, I hope and assume care will be taken that the settlement schemes put forward shall be closely scrutinised and that money only will be provided for those schemes which legitimately offer scope of livelihood for the people who go out from this country.
The hon. and gallant Member for North Islington (Sir Newton Moore) and others have brought forward proposals in respect to Western Australia. In the south-west corner of it there is an immense area of land with a most perfect climate, an abundant rainfall, and very rich soil. I should think that area would lend itself admirably to the scheme put forward by the Prime Minister of Western Australia, and would provide a splendid settlement for people from this country. Queensland also offers a splendid chance for men to engage in dairying which can there be carried on at a satisfactory profit. Queensland, I think, is the State which has the greatest potentialities in this matter. There is also the river Murray where the possibilities of productive settlement are almost unlimited because of the great reservoirs that are being constructed and which will supply water for irrigation purposes. I should like to say with reference to irrigation settlements that it should be a matter for very careful consideration by this Government, in conjunction with the Governments in Australia interested in the river Murray basin, as to where markets are to be found for the natural products of the irrigation lands. With regard to other products marketing gives rise to little difficulty. Wheat, wool, butter and dairy produce generally readily find a market here, but in the irrigation settlements when you come to deal with the fruit produced, markets for it abroad are not so established. Hitherto Australia has more or less absorbed the produce of the irrigation lands in its home market and the proportion exported has been comparatively small, but you must remember always that the home market is highly protected and success there must be considered only in the light of that fact. If you have an extensive emigration of people to irrigation settlements the export side of the question is going to become the important side, and the home consumption will prove of lesser importance. The marketing abroad of the particular products of this area is going to be a problem of immense importance to the settlers we place there. If it is not solved, then the settlement will have every chance of being unsuccessful, and we shall not have done a good turn to the people we place there.
The proper course is to think ahead in these matters of emigration generally, and it would be wise for the Governments concerned to put their heads together and try to solve this marketing problem, so as, if possible, to get an assured market for the products of the lands upon which you are going to place people. In these irrigation areas a common product is oranges, which command a fair market, but you have also to consider the dried fruits and the bottled and canned fruits. There you are likely to meet with great difficulties, for you come down to the economic side of the question, which must be solved before you get at the root of the matter whether these settlements are going to be a real success to the people we place upon them. Currants and raisins find home markets at good prices, but when they come here, good as they are—and they are very perfect in themselves—they have to compete with currants and raisins produced in very cheap countries in Europe and Asia. I hope the Government will bear that fact in mind and not merely leave the problem to be solved when it becomes acute. Every settler put there will become a valuable citizen of the Empire in all respects, and therefore the Government can well do something to assure a market for their produce in the way of some slight preference to enable them to get this market for their fruits. That would be a most profitable transaction for the Empire as a whole. It is fair to remember in respect of that proposition that on the other side of the world they are only too anxious to, and indeed do, give us very substantial preference for the manufactures of this country. I have occupied the time of the House at some length, and there are others who wish to speak, but I wish to join other hon. Members in expressing appreciation of the step the Government have taken to-day by introducing this Bill. It is a step full of promise in many directions, and I wish the movement every success.
I am sure the House will realise one of the advantages of Empire migration in the speech to which we have just listened. I only regret that the ex-Minister for South Australia cannot migrate occasionally to his own country in order to preach there those doctrines of Free Trade which I am quite certain he sees are necessary to the success of intensive cultivation in the basin of the Darling River. The successful cultivation and export of tinned or bottled fruits from Australia is affected by the heavy tariff on the tins and crockery in which the fruit is put, and that is, I am afraid, one of the problems which Australia, sooner or later, will have to face. I think this Bill is, if I may so put it, a confession of failure on the part of the Government. Only three years ago we were going to make this a land fit for heroes to live in. Now it is not this country, but Western Australia and the valley of the Darling that is going to be made fit for heroes to live in. Heroes are to go from here to the valley of the Darling at our expense. Three millions a year——
If the hon. Member will read the Bill, he will see that it is £1,500,000 now, but for next year, when we shall be more hard up, and thereafter, £3,000,000 is the figure. Let us clear our minds of cant on this matter. It is quite possible to be kind to people, and to get pleasant letters from people whom you have settled, whether in this country or in Australia, when you spend sufficient money on them. But when you are spending public money it is impossible to spend it without having regard to the people who are finding the money. Over and over again in this House we have been told that there is no money for providing unemployment benefit sufficient to keep body and soul together. £3,000,000 can be found for emigration, but not for unemployment. We are told over and over again that it is impossible to find more money for building houses in this country, but the money that might be applied to building—at the expense of the taxpayer, I admit—houses in this country, is found to send selected emigrants to the other side of the world. Do let us understand that this scheme is no solution whatever for the unemployment problem, that the people who have to find this money would spend the money in this country if it were not taken by the Government, and that, in so spending it, they would find employment for people in this country. In so far as this £3,000,000 is taken from the taxpayers' pocket, it produces just as much unemployment as if that sum were spent on building unprofitable houses or in giving doles to out-of-work people. So far as this country is concerned, unemployment is not touched. In so far as money is wastefully spent by the hon. Gentleman under this scheme, more unemployment is created than would be the case if the scheme had not been introduced. The hon. Gentleman made it almost the principal point of his speech that there was plenty of work on the land to be found in Australia, or where-ever these emigrants are to be sent. That is quite true; but may I ask him, first of all, why there is plenty of work on the land in Australia? Why is it that there is plenty of work on the land in Queensland and Western Australia? Because in both cases the land is still owned by the State. They have the control of the land. It has not been appropriated by private persons, and therefore there is still land for our people to go to.
It applies to the two schemes that are before us to-day. If it did not, I should be more opposed to them than I am. If our money were going to be spent in buying up land from squatters in Australia in order to put our settlers on the land, not only myself, but many others in this House, would be opposed to bolstering up the price of those squatters' land. It is because that land is stall national property that we on these Benches are prepared to give this Bill a Second Reading. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear hear!"] I am quite aware that hon. Members are only too glad to bolster up any scheme which will put money into the pockets of their friends, but fortunately, this scheme is exempt from that particular vice. I would, however, ask the House whether there is not plenty of land in this country? [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] In that case, may I just quote the facts as to the growth of deer forests the object of which is amusement? In 1883, according to the Report which has been issued to-day, the deer forests in Scotland covered 1,975,000 acres. In 1912 that figure, after 30 years, had grown to 3,584,000 acres. That is a development of a form of cultivation which inevitably results not only in driving sheep and cattle off the land, but in driving away human beings as well. That is in the Highlands of Scotland. We have heard a great deal about the advantages of this emigration scheme for the Empire for war purposes. These men who have gone from the Highlands of Scotland were our best soldiers. In parish after parish in Scotland every man fit for war had gone to fight for this country long before there was any need for compulsion, and yet the Government come forward and tell us now that the people of the country are to go to Western Australia, to go to the other side of the world, instead of going back to the land in Scotland which bred such heroes in the past.
Because it is so cheap. It can be bought for a mere song, and it can be made valuable by the work of Scotsmen. If they had a chance of getting their land, they would make the land of Scotland worth what it was before. Exactly the same argument applies in England. Here, too, we have had schemes of land settlement. Possibly the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty may be ignorant of those schemes, but in this country under the Smallholdings Act, the Allotments Act, and even the Defence of the Realm Act, people have been able to get access to the land, I admit on quite unsound lines, by the expenditure of public money to bribe the landlords to part with their land. A sum of £433,000 was spent in buying land from the landlords of England—a price which it may be practically impossible for the smallholdings to pay— but at any rate there have been these schemes for putting English people on the land in England, and per head they are going to cost, in the long run, less than the schemes that are before us to-day. Every speech that I have heard has assumed that this money is going to be recoverable. May I ask the hon. Gentleman what percentage he really thinks will be recoverable or recovered? What percentage of failure is there likely to be, and how much is this scheme likely to cost per settler sent out to Australia?
That may be possible, but those are not the advances that we are considering under the principal one of these schemes which are before us. I understand that under the scheme referring to Western Australia £600 is to be advanced to each settler, partly to acquire his farm, partly to build his house, and to support him in the first few years of his settlement. That has been in operation already, I understand, in Western Australia for some time. What percentage has been found to be recoverable, and what percentage do we estimate here will be found to be recoverable? Whether it be large or small, I think that, on analysing it, it will be found that the cost per settler will be more in Australia than it would be under the admittedly inefficient smallholding schemes in this country.
The information that was given to me this afternoon by one of the Prime Ministers was that it was under 20 per cent. I must leave it to the Australian Members to deal with their own Prime Ministers.
What I want to know is, why should the people of this country be sent at the expense of the people of this country to Australia if it is cheaper to put them on the land in this country? We are an English House of Commons—[HON. MEMBERS: "British."]—a British House of Commons. We have to look at this question from the point of view of the people of this country, and not from the point of view of the people of Australia. I can quite understand the point of view of -the three hon. Members who have spoken for Australia. If I were an Australian, I should try to get as many British people to that country as possible.
Inevitably the people of Australia look upon this in regard to the way in which it affects Australia, and I do not think they can complain if we regard the way in which it affects Great Britain. We have to consider the people of this country. What do they want from the point of view of the general building up of a British Commonwealth of nations, of which I am entirely in favour? I think the scheme is a good one, but we have to look at it from the point of view of the people who find the money. I do not think anyone can say that any of those who will be dealt with under this scheme, or at any rate the large proportion of them, would not prefer to settle in this country rather than in another country across the seas. Australia is an admirable country, and I should think that probably the second generation would prefer Australia, but the people who are now between 20 and 30 years of age in this country would prefer to remain near their own relatives in their own country, rather than go to the other side of the world.
I think they would, if they could get the land back in Scotland or the North of England. I apologise for having been drawn into conversation with the hon. Members below the Gangway who think in terms of Empire, but I want the House to think, not only in terms of Empire, but in terms of the family life of the people of this country, for they, I should say, would undoubtedly prefer to have access to the land in this country rather than in Australia. So far as public money is to be spent on providing opportunities for life and work for the unemployed people of this country, I would sooner see that money spent in giving them a chance here than in giving them a chance at the other end of the world. Australia is a long way off, and this country is near by.
Exactly the same amount of money spent on building houses here would provide work, probably for more people than we shall get to emigrate to Australia, and it would be absolutely as useful for the bulk of the people of this country. We have to look at the question from the point of view of the maximum utility of the money spent. I admit all the attractiveness of painting the map red, but the British Empire has grown by voluntary effort, and I think that State-directed effort may very likely find itself sooner or later directed into the wrong channels. We may find that the Pilgrim Fathers builded better in America than the hon. Gentleman is going to build, in the 20th century, for his Commonwealth of the British nations. [Interruption.] I notice hon. Members are always in favour of the State when the State is going to put money into their pockets, but against it when it is working for the welfare of the community. Assisted migration involves two dangers. The first is that if you assist migration and assist people to purchase land at the other end the people who own the land at the other end benefit, but I think that danger is ruled out in this ease because in most cases, I hope in every case, the land acquired for the settlers will be land that belongs to the Crown and not to private persons. I should like to have some confirmation of that before the Debate closes. But there is another danger, and that is that any assisted emigration tends rather to benefit the steamship companies and to keep up fares and so to make it more difficult for ordinary private citizens to get out to these different countries. If you have a bonus given by the State to assist one particular form of emigrant, it may make it more difficult for other emigrants. One of the great protests from this House against the building programme of the Ministry of Health was that it killed any opportunity for private enterprise. Are we quite certain that this State-aided emigration will not interfere with emigration which would take place anyway, but would be directed into one particular channel only and that the emigrants will go in other directions?
When I saw the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty bring in the Bill, I hoped for a moment that he was going to show the connection of the Admiralty with this question of migration. I should certainly like to see the Admiralty helping in the job. Why that problem of showing the flag, which plays such a large part in our naval operations, could not be connected in some way with the actual transport of some of these emigrants, I do not quite know. I know the Admiralty are always against it because it would interfere with their accommodation, but it must be possible for the Admiralty to help in these years of peace in migrating some of these people in their own boats instead of sending them by passenger lines. Moreover, I should have said the-Admiralty might make some effort to discover whether there are not other virgin fields for migration in some of these other islands under the British flag. Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman know anything about the experiment of sending settlers to those islands north of Vancouver—the Queen Charlotte Islands? I understand there has recently been a protest in Canada against sending settlers to the Queen Charlotte Islands. I think the settlers sent there were ex-service men, and we might be told something about that, whether there is any truth in it and what chance there is of making use of these islands. I should imagine virgin fields like that might be very well developed. I hope there is a chance of making a success of that experiment. The Queen Charlotte Islands are also Government property and are within-the British Empire.
I must leave it to the hon. and gallant Gentleman to tell us what is the condition of the Islands, why men have been sent there, whether any protest has been raised, and what prospect there is of successful settlement. I hope there are quite good prospects of success there, and if so, there might be elsewhere as well. In one of his most impassioned passages the hon. and gallant Gentleman begged for continuity in this policy, and I was very glad to hear him advocate continuity, because it has not been what we might call the long suite of the Government. Agricultural policy has not found exactly that continuity that is wanted. I can only hope that continuity will be more visible here than in other branches of the Government policy, but if there is to be continuity we must have the certainty that the money is not being wasted, and that the costs of administration are not excessive. When I see practically a new Department being built up by like this for overseas emigration, I look at it with considerable caution and suspicion. We do not want to have these £3,000,000, which I think are being spent extremely riskily, frittered away in expenses for staff, expenses for subsidies, expenses for all manner of red tape, forms, and all the rest of it. Let the money go for the purpose for which it is intended. There ought not to be greater waste in administering this scheme than there is in connection with the Small Holdings Act, and I hope the hon. and gallant Gentleman, now he is building tip this new Department, will bear in mind that the continuity he so much wants depends entirely on keeping down expense. It would be far wiser if they confined expenditure, not only this year but next year, when our finances are likely to be in a much more difficult position, to £1,500,000 rather than rushing into £3,000,000 in a year when the position, financially, will be at its worst. In all these cases continuity really depends upon the modesty of the demands of the Department. I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman is overdoing it. We shall find two years hence exactly the same protests against this form of expenditure as we had against the housing scheme or against the dole for keeping up the prices of wheat and oats. If continuity is to come, keep the price down. Above all, do not anticipate that the Labour party can ever be enthusiastic advocates of putting their own people back to the land in Australia, when they could, by suitable legislation, be put back to the land in their own country.
Until the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman I thought this Bill was exposed to a rather serious danger, namely, that it might be smothered in kindness, but he has effectively dissipated that danger. With the general tenor of his remarks I am in the heartiest disagreement, but there is one point on which I have a certain amount of sympathy with him. The Bill at first sight runs counter to two principles to which I—I think in common with the hon. and gallant Gentleman—attach very considerable importance. One is that it proposes to spend public money. I am always opposed to that. In the second place, it invokes the assistance of the State in a sphere which might perhaps be left to private enterprise and to the operations of individual self-interest. Speaking generally, I am always opposed to the interference of the State if it can possibly be avoided. Nevertheless, I feel able to give a very cordial support to the Bill, not only from the Imperial point of view, but also from the point of view of a rigid economist and from the point of view of a very convinced individualist. Let me say one or two words from the economic point of view. It seems to me that from that point of view this Bill is very good business. It is a sound and legitimate investment of public money. The greater part of the Debate has been concentrated on the question as to how far the Bill will provide a remedy for unemployment. I was very glad to hear the Financial Secretary disclaim the intention of bringing the Bill forward as a panacea for unemployment. It seems to me, important as that is as a subsidiary consequence, it is not and should not be regarded as the primary purpose of the Bill. We have been told over and over again that we are spending at the rate of about £100,000,000 a year on the provision of funds for the relief of unemployment, and this Bill, when it reaches its maximum, only proposes an expenditure of £3,000,000 a year.
I cannot agree. I think on the contrary it will provide not, I admit, a panacea but a palliative for unemployment at home. It is infinitely preferable to spend these £3,000,000 in a way which gives a real promise of hope to the recipient than to provide doles, which are wholly depressing to the recipient and entirely unfruitful to the community which has to find the money. This scheme is to be commended on the ground that it is full of hopefulness from the point of view of the recipient, and at the same time it promises a very ample and very safe return for the investment of public money. I agree to this extent with the hon. and gallant Gentleman that everything in the working of this scheme depends on the details of its administration, but given wise administration, we have the possibility and the opportunity of a sound
and legitimate investment for I believe, individualist as I am, and I hope consistent individualist, that migration within the Empire is one of the few things which calls for some strictly limited assistance from the State. When you come to the question of migration the direction of the migration is of importance. The old fashioned economists advocated assisted emigration but without any reference at all to the destination of the emigrant. It seemed to the professors of the Manchester School that it mattered nothing whether the emigrants who left these shores went to live under the British flag or under an alien flag. My own sentiments in that regard are totally opposed to the professors of the Manchester School, and I look upon this scheme as an essential part of the whole well-ordered scheme of Imperial policy. It seems to me that if people could be induced to regard this question more from the point of view of an essential part of our Imperial policy and less from, I hope, the temporary point of view of the mitigation of the hardship of unemployment, many of the objections which we feel, and which have been expressed by hon. Members opposite would really fall to the ground. I listened with a good deal of pain and regret to the speech which fell from the right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes). What was the gist of that speech? I hope I do him no injustice. He said that we cannot afford to get rid of our best citizens from this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Yes, I was quite prepared for that cheer. I knew that that sentiment would be applauded, but I deplore it none the less. I know it represents, and I am sorry that it does, the view of a good many hon. Gentlemen opposite. What was said the other day by a distinguished member of the party, who is not now a Member of this House?
I do not like the idea of the best going, and leaving the worst here.
Another hon. Member, who site, I think, for the Govan Division of Glasgow (Mr. Neil Maclean), spoke of the whole of this scheme, I so understood him, as a callous and inhuman expedient. Callous and inhuman! I disagree! Is it a callous and inhuman expedient to ask British citizens to go to another part of the British Empire? What is there callous——
I do not want to break up families. Why break up families because you ask those families to emigrate to another part of this Empire? I see no point at all in the interruption of the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite. No, I am very glad to think that there are many people in this country who regard the Empire as an indivisible whole, and who are equally glad to live under the British flag in Australia, in South Africa, or in Canada as they are in England. I was not long ago among some of the miners down in Cornwall, and I was going to say I was surprised, but I was much more delighted to find that among the miners of Cornwall they regarded it as a far more serious business to emigrate to Northumberland than to South Africa. Yes, it is actually the case. They regard London as a good deal more distant from Cornwall than Cape Town, and that is the true spirit of an Imperial citizen, the citizen of a great Empire. So long as he remains under the British flag it matters very little to him, and, in my opinion, should matter very little to him whether he does his work in Plymouth or in Sydney, in Bristol or in Melbourne. Why does the Member for Govan regard this as a callous and inhuman expedient 1 Is it callous or inhuman for the Oxford tutor, for example, to recommend one of his pupils to go in for the Indian Civil Service rather than for the English Civil Service? If it is, I am afraid that Oxford tutors in the past have been guilty of very callous and inhuman treatment of their miserable pupils. I agree there is some objection to that advice being given to-day, but it certainly has been given in the past without any suspicion, that it was callous and inhuman to recommend men to take service in the lands beyond the seas. No, this ought to be a question, and I should hope in time to come, even hon. Gentlemen opposite will treat it as a question, of where a man can do the best work for his country.
I was very interested only last night to read some words spoken or written by one who has played a very honourable part among Army chaplains in the War, the Reverend P. B. Clayton, the founder of the institutions known as "Toc.H.". He has just come back to this country
from Canada, and he used these words:
Could we only spare to Canada a tithe of those we gave to Flanders, all posterity would wonder at our wisdom. As it is, we are apparently content to let the British stock bide on high stools in big cities, and leave Canada and the States to be flooded by Central and Eastern Europe. They are trying hard, as some punster put it, to refuse the refuse, but we must give them better material to choose from.
That is the true temper of Imperial expansion, and in my opinion we ought to give the Dominions the best material we can. Just look at the position from the purely economic view of our Dominions and Colonies as compared with the lands of Eastern Europe. At the present moment we are attempting to set up vast and elaborate apparatus for the recovery of trade in Eastern Europe. I hope that trade may be recovered, but I regard colonial trade as of infinitely greater importance. In the three years before the War—these figures were given officially in the House a few weeks ago—in 1911, 1912, and 1913, the average of British exports classified as wholly or mainly manufactured amounted to about £386,000,000. What did Russia take of those exports from this country? Of the £386,000,000 Russia took less than £9,000,000 or something just over 2 per cent. But what did our Dominions take? The Dominions in 1913, with barely 15,000,000 of people, bought from us £90,000,000 worth of goods, while the United States, with a population six time as big, took of British exports £29,000,000.
I ask the House to consider, not the aggregates, but what I think is even more impressive, the per capita consumption of British produce in British Dominions and Colonies. Let me confine myself to the Dominions. I find that New Zealand takes of British products £12 4s. 5d. worth per head of the population as compared with 13s. 3d. taken, for example, by Spain; Australia takes £8 7s. 4d. worth as compared with £1 12s. 11d. taken, for example, by probably the most prosperous of Scandinavian countries, Sweden; Canada, with its invisible line of frontier dividing it from the United States, takes of British goods £2 4s. 4d. worth as compared with 8s. 2d. worth on the other side of the invisible line; South Africa takes £4 5s. 11d. per head compared with £1 8s. 6d. taken by a European country like Switzerland. I beg the House to consider what it would mean to the trade of this country, what it would mean to employment in this country, what it would mean to the prosperity of our people who remain at home, if the Dominions to-day were peopled not by 15,000,000 but by 150,000,000, which they could very easily carry. To-day there are vast stretches of almost empty desert, particularly, of course, in the case of Australia. There is, as we have been eloquently reminded in more than one speech this afternoon, a very strong political reason for migration as well as the economic reason. I have fortunately come into very close contact with a great many Australian statesmen, and I find among those statesmen only one sentiment prevailing, namely, that Australia is to be the land of the white man, and the white man only, in the future. You cannot permanently keep vast continents unpeopled. Either you have to people them with white men or they will be peopled with men who are not white. I do not want to enlarge upon that topic, nor upon any topic, but I desire to emphasise the hint that this is a question of prime political moment as well as of prime economic moment to Australia in the future. Let me say in one sentence in conclusion that on every ground, political, social, and economic, I hold that this Bill is entitled to the hearty support of the House.
Mr. GIDEON MURRAY:
I should like, with other hon. Members who have spoken on the Bill, to say how glad I am that this Measure has been brought before the House this afternoon for its Second Reading. I think that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty is to be very greatly congratulated upon having brought to fruition a work with which he has been occupied for at least two or three years to my knowledge, a work which, I believe, and I think it is the general opinion of this House, will be not only of great benefit to Great Britain, but also to the Empire at large. There are one or two points in this Bill of which I would like to ask elucidation before I give the various reasons why I am supporting it. In the Bill itself I observe that the Secretary of State shall not agree to any scheme without the consent of the Treasury. What does this exactly mean? Does it mean that the Treasury must agree to any details of the scheme, or only to the financial side of the scheme? I think that is a point which the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty in his reply might elucidate. It seems to me rather important, because if it means that the Treasury is to agree not only to the financial side of any scheme, but also to its details that may signify that any particular scheme may be held up for an indefinite time, because the Treasury is not a Department which is known for particular celerity in agreeing to details of any scheme. Sub-section (4) provides that any expenses of the Secretary of State under this Act shall be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament. I have no doubt that that does not mean that the provision of money for every scheme must be brought to this House, but we ought to have an assurance on this point. It is also provided that the aggregate, amount expended shall not exceed £1,500,000 in the financial year current at the date of the passing of the Act, or £3,000,000 in any subsequent year. I should also like to know whether, if any part of the £3,000,000 to be expended in any subsequent financial year is not expended in that one year, it will lapse to the Treasury or may be spent in the following year. This may make a considerable difference in the financial aspect of the Bill, because under the Bill as it stands £45,000,000 may be spent within 15 years if £3,000,000 is expended in each year.
We have heard from various hon. Members of the size and extent of the territory in the various Dominions. There are 669 persons per square mile in England, compared with 2 per square mile in Canada and 1.7 in Australia. The square miles of the British Isles amount to 122,000, containing 47,000,000 people, while the aggregate square mileage of the Dominions is 7,000,000—I am excluding South Africa, for the reasons mentioned by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty this afternoon—containing only 14,000,000 of people. This Bill is warranted by these figures alone. The overseas Dominions are 55 times as large as the British Isles, with about one-third of the population. The hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Marriott) took exception, as I do, to certain statements which had been made from the Labour Benches that individuals going to the Dominions from this country were going to what they almost described as strange lands. I listened to a speech made by the Agent-General for Victoria at the Royal Colonial Institute a few weeks ago, and he said that 97 per cent. of the people of Australia were of British stock and origin. That being so, how can Labour Members suggest that there is any question of individuals going from this country to Australia particularly, to Canada or New Zealand, and finding themselves in strange lands and among strange people with whom they cannot settle down?
I agree that the right hon. Member for Platting did suggest that perhaps they would not have cinema theatres and certain other amenities which they can get more easily in this country, but the general point which has been made this afternoon by Labour Members is that people from Great Britain will not find their situation in the Dominions of a character which they will understand, and will not find the people there of a race with which they are in sympathy.
If there is any individual in this country who feels that by migrating to a Dominion he is going to better his position and that he is going to find conditions which will be more suitable to him, he has every right to go, and under this scheme he will be enabled to go to the Oversea Settlement Committee and obtain the assistance which he requires for that purpose. How much would the Empire have gained if the 9,000,000 or 10,000,000 of people who migrated during the past century to the United States had gone to our Empire? What a different position there would have been in the War! We received the most valuable help from the Dominions during the recent War, but how much greater help we should have obtained if the millions of people who went out to the United States had gone to the Dominions of the British Empire instead! The happenings of the last few weeks in a town in the North of Italy make it more important, so far as I can see, that the Dominions should be filled with people of British origin. Thirty or forty years hence, perhaps even sooner, our children may have to go through an even more terrible war than that which we have experienced in the last few years. In the recent War we went to our Dominions for assistance, and we may have to go to them for greater assistance at some future time.
Another point raised in the Debate is the question of the arrangements to be made in Australia in connection with any schemes that may be entered into. The less this House tries to control schemes which may be entered into by the Australian Governments, the better it will be for the schemes and the better for the people who take part in them. From my knowledge of the Dominions, I know how touchy they are in regard to any control or any suggested control from this House. We can rely upon the Australian Prime Ministers to take every possible precaution to see that the people who migrate from this country to Australia will be properly looked after when they arrive there, and that that treatment will continue. That point was raised recently at the inter-Parliamentary Association, and Mr. Barlow, the Prime Minister of South Australia, said, "You can leave these people to us when we have received them in Australia." The same point was put to Sir James Mitchell, Prime Minister of West Australia, in a Committee Room upstairs a few weeks ago, and he said that we could rest content that the 75,000 people who were to be settled there under this scheme would be looked after, and that there would be no question of those people being unemployed or starved. Is it not to the interests of Australia or Canada, or any other Dominion which takes these settlers, to see that they are well looked after? Would they take them if they knew that they were going to be added to the number of unemployed in the Dominion? Of course they would not. They are not fools. They are just as sensible as we are, and they know a great deal more about the conditions of their country than we do in this House. The less we have to do with that side of the question the more smoothly the schemes will come into operation, the more smoothly they will be worked, and the better it will be for those who take part in them.
References to the land have been made by the right hon. Member for Platting and the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood). It was obvious from their remarks that they did not know that practically all the land that has ever been settled in Australia has been settled upon a freehold basis. If you were to suggest to the Australians that they were not to receive their land on a freehold basis they would not give you twopence for it; they would not give you a "Thank you" for it.
That does not alter the fact that land is granted on a freehold basis. It would be very unwise if the Imperial Government were in any way to dictate or to make any suggestion of control of the manner in which the land is to be alienated upon which any settler is to be settled. The right hon. Member for Platting raised the question of labour organisation in Australia, and said that the labour organisations should be consulted by our Government. We have been told by the hon. Member for Islington North (Sir Newton Moore), who was a Prime Minister in Australia, that many of the Prime Ministers in Australia are Labour men themselves.
In Australia Labour apparently is fit to govern. Whether it is the change of climate or soil I do not know, but the fact remains that Labour does govern in Australia, and, if it does, why should the right hon. Gentleman be so concerned about the conditions under which the settler shall arrive in Australia, or that the Labour organisations in Australia have not been sufficiently consulted to know what their particular wishes are? I cannot understand the criticisms which are being levelled against this Bill. They are levelled either through ignorance or they constitute a sort of charge against a Bill which its critics really believe will be for the good of the country. May I refer to what has happened in Canada at a place called Prince Rupert? The record is a most interesting story of a town which grew up in a few years on the Pacific coast. I have found it in an article written by Admiral Campbell, who has a great knowledge of Canada, and it shows what can be done and is being done at present in a country like Canada. In 1908, wilderness. In 1909, tented town. In 1910, incorporated city. In 1914, Pacific terminus of Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. In 1915 raised a battalion for overseas service. In 1916 dry-docked and repaired three 22,000-ton war vessels; captured deep-sea fishing trade of the Pacific. In 1918, shipping aeroplane spruce to the front; shipping copper, fish and lumber to the world's markets. In 1919, building two 8,100-ton steel ships; handled 46,000,000 feet of lumber and $4,500,000 of fish products; and built $500,000 of buildings.
That is what we find in our Dominions. That is why this Bill is welcomed by the House. Trade and overseas settlement are bound up intimately with one another, and while settlement is proceeding, trade is growing within the Empire. As was stated a short time ago by the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Marriott), the trading point of view is as important as that of overseas settlement. I think that the two, so far as possible, ought to run concurrently. I would suggest that the Government should appoint, or invite the Dominions to appoint as soon as possible, together with them, an expert conference of members from the Dominions, a Customs official, or a Board of Trade official, assisted by two or three business men, in order to go into the whole question of trade within the Empire, and to see what can be done to extend trade as fast as possible. The Imperial Conferences which have sat, and also the Royal Commission which visited the Dominions five or six years ago, have provided most valuable material upon which the conference could build. I make that suggestion with some deference, because of the importance of keeping alive the trade point of view as well as the overseas settlement point of view. I give the most cordial support to this Bill, and I hope that it will operate and continue to expand in its operations for many years.
I do not think that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty, who introduced this Bill, has any reason to complain of the reception which has been accorded to it. With one exception, to which I may refer in a moment, there has been an almost universal chorus of generous appreciation tempered in all cases by valuable suggestions and criticisms. I think that my hon. Friend would be the first to admit that in this Bill we have an example of the degree to which the policy of our Government can be helped, and in the early stages shaped and fostered and encouraged by direct action on the part of a group of convinced Members of this House inside this House. I remember very well that last autumn it fell to my lot, in the absence of my hon. Friend on other business, to have to introduce an Estimate in connection with this work. On that occasion the only criticism with which I was confronted was the same, in effect, as that which has been made to-day, that the work and the policy are so good that it was to be regretted that the House had not been invited to tike larger action with regard to this.
Coming to various points which have been raised in the Debate, I may refer shortly, in the first instance, to two or three points which have been raised by the hon. Member for the St. Rollox Division of Glasgow (Mr. G. Murray). In reference to the Clause of the Bill which relates to the consent of the Treasury, he asked whether that consent was required only for the financial side of the proposal, or whether it extended to what might be termed the general policy of the proposals. The answer, of course, is that it would relate to the 'business side of the proposal from the financial point of view, and in all these matters the Treasury, as my hon. Friend will expect, have been entirely prepared with a reasonable and helpful policy. It would not, of course, be necessary to obtain separate sanction from this House for the scheme, but the House would be asked to vote the Estimate at the beginning of the financial year, and subsequently my hon. Friend, on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, would be in a position to proceed with the scheme up to the financial limit authorised. With regard to balances, the money voted but not spent will be, in accordance with the usual financial practice that prevails and, in my judgment, ought to prevail, surrendered to the Treasury, and will be subject to re-Vote in the new Estimate, but I think that my hon. Friend perhaps had in mind what the situation would be with regard to the balance built up by the repayment of advances. If he had that in mind that is an entirely separate point. That the entire balance so created should remain to the credit of the fund was recommended by the special conference which dealt with this matter last year, and also by the Empire Conference last summer, and I understand from my hon. Friend that it will be carefully considered in the Committee discussion. My right hon. Friend the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) opened the Debate with one observation which furnished a text on which several of his successors have dwelt. I have listened to the whole of the Debate, and I have been struck by the references to what has been called sending people overseas or asking families to migrate. The right hon. Gentleman rather proceeded on similar lines, which might have left the impression that there was in this Bill some element of compulsion by which contented Britishers in England were to be forced against their will to go and live in Australia.
I would like with all the force at my command to say that that is an entirely wrong impression. My right hon. Friend the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) had, I am sure, the entire sympathy of the House when he said quite properly that there should be no element of compulsion in a Bill of this kind. I agree entirely with him and hope that he will use his influence with those behind him in order to make it plain to them and invite them to make plain to their constituents that——
Is it not a fact that the greatest difficulty with which the authorities are confronted at the present time is not getting the people to go but finding accommodation for the number of people who want to go?
That is true and I was proceeding to make the same point. It has been possible to grant facilities to only one out of every three people who have made applications and want to go. In other words, all that this Bill does is, not to deny to any citizens of this country a right that they now enjoy, but merely to grant them an opportunity if they wish to avail themselves of it. My right hon. Friend also inquired about the meaning of "through private organisations." In his mind apparently there were some implications of approved societies. It is impossible for me or anyone to say categorically what societies will or will not fall within the category of being able to secure this measure of approval. They will vary in a great many different cases and in different places, according to the circumstances of the colony and the work required to be done. The only test that can be applied is the broad one and on the whole the simple one of whether my hon. Friend in charge of the Bill and those who work with him are satisfied that the object of the society in question is to assist and encourage the intending emigrant. Societies, one might imagine, whose duty or ambition it would be to exploit and make money out of the intending settler would surely not merit or obtain the measure of approval. The only test can be whether a society or organisation is endeavouring honestly to assist the work in hand.
I shared the surprise of my hon. Friend the Member for St. Rollox (Mr. G. Murray) at the suggestion of the light hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) that it was the duty of the Government in any sense to direct the policy of oversea governments in the management of their internal affairs. No more can I conceive it our duty to advise the oversea governments on their policy in the management of their own land. If I followed the right hon. Member for Peebles correctly, he thinks we should find enough difficulty in managing our own land question without going overseas to help the Australians to manage theirs. If it be not impertinent I would say that the only flaw in the otherwise almost perfect speech of the right hon. Member for Peebles was the reference to deer forests, which to me seemed reminiscent of an earlier and less good age. The right hon. Member for Platting had a good deal to say about the possibility of failures under any system of assisted emigration. I do not suppose it would ever be possible to devise a scheme under which you can be absolutely safeguarded against failures. The hon. Member for Swindon (Sir F. Young) spoke with great experience in this matter, and I think he was right in stating that the utmost you can do is to secure as perfect a measure of organisation and machinery as is possible all along the line, from the time the man is selected here to the time he is put aboard ship and lands at his destination and then finally finds his way on the farm. Having made the machinery as good as it can be made, do not flatter yourself that you have made it secure against the possibility of failure. The utmost you have done is to diminish, as far as you can hope to do by wise plans, the proportion of failures. My right hon. Friend made a suggestion as to the possible, extension of the period of operation of the scheme for ex-service men. He will not forget that that scheme, expiring, as it did, at the end of last year, had already been extended for one-year. The ex-service men, moreover, can come in under this scheme. I think—and I understand my hon. Friend in charge of the Bill will be prepared to take the same view—that in the Committee stage it should be a matter for very careful consideration whether or not it would be right or reasonable to consider making the, terms under which this scheme should apply to ex-service men rather more favourable than they are to other classes of emigrants.
I was aware of that, but my answer is that the ex-service man can come in under this scheme, for which there is no time limit. The ex-service man can come in under this scheme as much as anyone else. He is not excluded, and he cannot be debarred by not having made his application hitherto.
He cannot come in under this scheme under the same favourable conditions that were available within the time given him, up to the end of December of last year? He cannot get under this scheme the free passage to the Dominions which was granted to him within that limited time? My wish is that an extension be granted for 9 or 12 months of the conditions which were open to the ex-service man up to the end of December of last year.
Obviously, I am not in a position to give that undertaking, but my right hon. Friend may be assured that his view will not be overlooked. I need not refer to all the points raised to-day, because many will obviously be raised again in the Committee stage. I must make an exception, however, for some of the observations of the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood). I confess I was somewhat astonished at his speech, and I was left in a position of some, uncertainty as to who was really the official spokesman of the Labour party, whether it was he or the right hon. Member for Platting. I gather that, whoever be the official spokesman, the upshot of their joint wisdom is that the Labour party are prepared to support the Second Reading, and I have no doubt that having done that they will render assistance to improve a Bill in Committee, and they will be equally forward in supporting the policy of the Bill in the country. I was a little confused by one observation of my hon. and gallant Friend. If I understood him correctly he said that the reason why he did not oppose the Bill was that it did not suggest buying up the land at present held under freehold tenure in the Dominions. He said with a great show of public righteousness that if that had been the proposal he would have felt compelled to resist the plan, for it must have meant an enhancement of the profits of the squatters. He condemned the Government for not applying this system of land settlement to this country, where every acre of land is, as he complained bitterly in his next sentence, held entirely in private hands. That appears to me to be an inconsistent argument at every stage.
I complained that under this scheme, where you are not paying any price at all for the land, it is costing more to put a settler on the ground than it costs in this country, where you have to buy land at exaggerated prices. We do not approve of buying land at exaggerated prices, and we hold that land ought to come into the market at cheap prices for people who want to settle on it.
I do not think my hon. and gallant Friend is correct, but it is not necessary to pursue the point. He was arguing abstract principles, and, as I think, arguing them quite inconsistently. His judgment, like that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Peebles, was totally warped by the report upon the deer forests of Scotland, which has always a most damaging effect on his judgment. If he wants to know why people do not settle as happily on the deer forests of Scotland as in Western Australia, he has the answer, if he will give it to himself, that the land in Scotland is worthless and would be given to anyone for a song, and the reason why a great deal of land would be given to anyone for a song is that most people would have great difficulty in making a living out of it. I am not generalising about all land. I have one further complaint to make about the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme. He appealed to Members to regard this matter from the point of view of the United Kingdom, and he said it was the duty of the Australians to regard this matter purely from the Australian point of view. With great respect and with a desire to appreciate the point of view of my hon. and gallant Friend, I cannot conceive, on those principles of self-determination for every part of the Empire, how we could ever have built up an Empire, or, having built it up, how we could ever maintain it. The only explanation of our having built up the Empire is that at every stage every portion of it has been willing in great measure to subordinate its own immediate advantages for the benefit of the whole.
If we departed from that policy we would be lacking a great deal of support now. The reason why this Bill has won a general measure of support is that it has recognised the subject of emigration as an Imperial concern. In other words, the Bill recognises, as the hon. Member for Woolwich (Captain Gee) said, that it is of importance to every community in the Empire as far as possible to secure that its population should be made up of homogeneous elements, that that can be achieved only by the co-operation of all concerned at every stage, and that it is worth doing only if it can be carried out on a basis which is reasonably permanent. That, this Bill does. Therefore I think the House as a whole shares the feeling of my hon. Friend who spoke last—a feeling of great hopefulness as to the result of the Bill being passed into law. No one need suggest, indeed everybody has disclaimed the idea of suggesting, that this is a panacea for all our ills at home. Those ills have resulted from hosts of causes and will not be removed by any single factor. The utmost that the most enthusiastic advocate of this policy can claim is that it is a move in the right direction and in the long run will tend inevitably to ease the situation for many of our people here by affording opportunities to those who wish to avail themselves of those opportunities, of re-making their lives elsewhere and in remaking their lives elsewhere to produce a reflex action of advantage to our commerce and trade. I have no more to add except to remind the House that our business will be interrupted at 8.15 o'clock. We have had an extremely instructive, interesting and hopeful Debate, and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty is, I need hardly say, most anxious to enlist the co-operation of all those who have this subject at heart in so far as improving the Bill in the Committee stage is concerned. After that, of course, it will return to the House, and I would ask my hon. Friends to allow us to have this Bill by 8.15 o'clock in view of the very full discussion which has taken place.
I only propose to occupy a few minutes of the remaining time, as I understand other hon. Members are desirous of addressing the House, and I will confine myself to two points. The first is a drafting point, but I think it is important in view of the Financial Resolution which will come before the House in the course of the next few days. I refer to the point of which the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies spoke just now, and that is the return of loans. The repayment of loans is a very important matter in connection with this Bill. What is to be the destiny of the money which comes back? The italicised portion of Clause 1 is drawn very strictly, it says:
Any expenses … shall be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament: Provided that the aggregate amount ex-
pended … shall not exceed one million five hundred thousand pounds in the financial year current at the date of the passing of this Act.
I draw special attention to the words
the aggregate amount shall not exceed.
I imagine this money will be repaid in large quantities. I think all experience tends to show that there will be comparatively few bad debts and we shall begin to receive money back in the course of four or five years. At the end of eight or nine years we shall, it is likely, receive a handsome revenue in the return of this money, and it will go on growing until at the end of 15 years it will have become a sum larger than the grant annually made by Parliament That situation will be extraordinarily helpful and hopeful if we are entitled to retain the money which comes back. I speak in your presence, Mr. Speaker, but I think it is well to be cautious, and looking at the extremely stringent wording of this italicised portion of the Bill, I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty that between now and the introduction of the Financial Resolution, careful consideration should be given to the drafting of that Resolution lest the Committee should find itself in this unfortunate position, that whereas the Government are willing to meet views that may be expressed in regard to the application of loans, yet the Committee is stopped, because of the terms of the Resolution, from proceeding in that direction. Nothing could be greater in the matter of finance than that at the end of 15 years this country should be in possession of a fund of £40,000,000 or £50,000,000. We might charge a little interest, not to be paid annually, but adding a little at the end of the payments and thus we might have a sum of £40,000,000 or £50,000,000, and I assume there would be equivalent sums, not perhaps so large, in the various Dominions, so that the whole Empire would find itself in possession of a sum which might run up to even £100,000,000 under the control of the various Parliaments for the purpose of re-distributing population in the Empire, while looking to the desires of the individuals and getting over the economic difficulties.
The other point I wish to put is a very difficult point to present briefly. I am chairman of the Imperial Shipping Committee, which is a sister Committee to the Committee for Overseas Settlement. On the Imperial Shipping Committee we have the advantage of the presence of High Commissioners and other representatives of the Dominions and of India, and also of very experienced shipping experts. We are constantly considering the question of emigration. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) has said that we should take a long view. I agree absolutely with that, but, at the same time, when the word "retrenchment" is on everybody's lips, it is desirable, if one can do so, to defend a measure like this also from the point of short view. We cannot put British shipping right until we re-establish British emigration. The position before the War was that we received into this country bulky cargoes of food and raw materials, and we sent out of this, country cargoes in small space of manufactured articles, and the balance of the trade was made up by emigration—some 200,000 people every year—and by cargoes of coal. When dealing with distant portions of the world, and with voyages which cross the Atlantic or go through the Suez Canal, coal, except in the single case of South America, is not a very important element in the exports. The balance of the trade was established before the War by means of emigration. At the present moment the bulk of the exports from this country to Australia and New Zealand is just about one-third of the bulk of the imports, and the result is that, roughly speaking, three-quarters of the cost of the round voyage has to be thrown on to the freights for bringing food and raw material to this country. This is causing great discontent at the present moment in Australia and New Zealand, and my Committee had to investigate a case brought before them by the New Zealand Government. Fortunately we got unanimity in replying to the New Zealand Government that the British shipowners were not exacting freights which were not justified from the producers in New Zealand, but the mere fact that a complaint was brought to our notice, and was investigated, shows that there is irritation in regard to these freights.
There is more than that. There is serious difficulty in portions of Australia because of the High freights charged on produce coming to this country. The result is that produce is not coming to this country in the quantity it should come in, and this acts to the detriment of the consumer in this country as well as to the detriment of the producer in Australia. Anything that can be done to restore the former balance will immediately have its effect in cheapening food and raw material—wool and so forth—in this country. Even taking the short view, my belief is that every penny spent in this way will have results. The money for which we are providing in the Bill will have an immediate effect in giving relief as regards trading conditions between the Dominions and this country. The effect will be very marked in removing the irritation that exists in Australia, and also it will be a matter of the greatest importance to this country. Those are two important points, one of which arises out of my own experience, and I hope that both will receive careful consideration.
In the few minutes remaining, I shall refer to only one aspect of this subject. I am afraid a great deal of misapprehension will arise from the statement which appears to have been made that the Labour party is opposed to this Measure. Criticism is not opposition. An attempt to safeguard a scheme does not show a desire to destroy that scheme. Endeavouring to eliminate some of the evils which existed under the old emigration laws does not mean that there is a desire to cripple or injure the development of this scheme, and the fact that the Labour party have elected a representative to sit on this Committee, not to obstruct but to assist, proves that the party is not opposed to the scheme. On the contrary, we desire to see it becoming a real power for good. It struck me during the Debate that the scheme itself has been very much magnified and a good deal more importance has been attached to it than it really deserves. We have heard about the development of Australia and the other Dominions. The scheme will not do that. We have heard about the solving of the problem of unemployment in this country. The scheme will not do that either, but every little bit of good that comes out of it and every little benefit it gives to the Dominions and to this country make it worth doing, however small it may be. When we exaggerate and seek to make it appear that all the evils of to-day are going to be removed by the passage into law of this Bill, we are indulging in a false conception. I know that good work has been done and is being done and that there is no compulsion. If there were compulsion in it, I would not have anything at all to do with it, but there is nothing of that kind. Indeed, I understand there are over 30,000 applications to be decided upon now, and the difficulty is to sift out of the applications the right persons and the right places to which to send them. Australia is an ideal country for development, and I am sure this scheme, small as it appears now, will contribute something to their welfare of that country, and it may become an important factor for good as it develops further.