Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £366,000, he granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1929, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Ministry of Labour and Subordinate Departments, including the Exchequer Contribution to the Unemployment Fund, Grants to Associations, Local Education Authorities and others under the Unemployment Insurance, Labour Exchanges, and other Acts; Expenses of the Industrial Court; Contribution towards the Expenses of the International Labour Organisation (League of Nations); Expenses of Training and Transference of Workpeople within Great Britain and Oversea: and sundry services, including services arising out of the war.
The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of LABOUR (Mr. Bettertor):
The Estimate which I beg to commend to the Committee is a Supplementary Estimate of the net amount of £366,000. My right hon. Friend will be here shortly and will deal with any criticisms or observations which may be made in the course of the Debate, at the end of the discussion, or such time as may be convenient for the Committee. The first item is a sum of £500,000, which is required for salaries, wages, and allowances. This is due to the fact that unemployment was unfortunately greater during last year than had been estimated. The amount is required for the Employment Exchanges generally, and is also due, to some extent, to the additional work which was thrown upon the officials and upon the whole service by reason of the development of our policies of training and transference. The second item is one of £172,000 under the heading, "Loans and Grants to facilitate the transference of workpeople." I shall deal with that in greater detail later. Next is an item of £300,000 for training young unemployed men with which I will also deal later.
There is an anticipated saving of £150,000 under the heading, "Courts of Referees." The reason for that is that when the original Estimate was presented the Act of 1927 was not yet in operation, and, indeed, when the Estimate was prepared it was not even passed. It was not known how far the Courts of Referees would require to interview in the cases under review. We now find that the number of cases in which the courts have decided to interview has not been as large as was expected, and there is this saving. The next item of saving is "Contribution to the Unemployment Fund" £304,000. Although it may appear at first sight as anomalous, this saving is due to the fact that the number of those unemployed was unfortunately greater than was estimated. As the State's contribution is dependent on the contributions of employers and employed, it follows that if the number of unemployed is greater, the State contribution under this heading is less. The last item is Appropriations-in-aid," and that represents a sum of £152,000. The increased estimate represents a larger appropriation from the fund for administration expenses than was provided originally. As there was more unemployment the appropriation-in-aid became larger.
Having briefly indicated the various items, I think the Committee would expect me to say a word or two upon two of them, namely, training and transference. I shall deal with training first. In all the Debates in this House on unemployment, there is one matter on which we have all been agreed, and that is the importance, from every point of view, of giving, so far as we can, training to those who are unemployed. It has been pointed out over and over again that training prevents, so far as it can be prevented, the demoralisation and deterioration which are inevitable from a prolonged period of idleness. In saying that I am on common ground. With regard to this item I do not think there will be any quarrel on any side of the Committee. When the Estimates were presented in July or at the end of June of last year, there was at our training centres, for employment at home, a capacity at one time of something like 1,300, with an annual output, if I may use the term, of something like 3,250. As the Committee may recollect, the centres were at Wall-send; at Garrison Lane, Birmingham; at Dudley, and at Bristol. Since last July we have made very considerable extensions both at Bristol and at Dudley. We have opened a new centre at Glasgow, and are about to open a new centre in London. At this moment the full capacity is not 1,300 but 2,500, and the annual output has just about doubled, from 3,250 to 6,250.
I want to say a few words about training for overseas. When the Estimates were presented last year we had two residential centres for the training of persons going overseas. The number of places at these two centres was about 500, with an annual output of 2,000 a year. I said at that time that these two residential centres were in the nature of an experiment, and that before developing them we wanted to satisfy ourselves that there was justification for increasing the money spent on them. We are already satisfied that the experiments have been justified. Accordingly we have increased very largely the capacity for training persons who wish to proceed overseas. We have opened another centre at Carstairs, in Scotland. We have taken a portion oF Chiseldon, near Didcot, where we shall be training some 200 persons who wish to go overseas, and that number we may increase. Whereas last year 2,024 persons went from cur training centres to Canada and Australia—about 1,000 to each country—we have now a training output of not less than 6,000 persons for Canada alone, and we are prepared to train as many as it is anticipated the Australian Government will take.
By arrangement with the Canadian Government—this arrangement has only just been made—the position is that any single man in any part of the country, if considered suitable by the Canadian authorities, can get into a training centre almost immediately. At the present time 1,200 men are in, or are about to enter, the centres, and there are vacancies for another 1,300. About half of these vacancies will probably be filled by men who have already applied. We can take an additional 600 or 700 men into the centres between now and the end of the month. During March and April we can take another 3,600, and we are prepared, if necessary, to extend the centres to even greater capacity than that. This is an opportunity which cannot be too widely known both here and outside. All that the young single unemployed man of 35 or under has to do is to apply, either to the nearest Employment Exchange, or to a shipping agency. The Ministry of Labour arid the Canadian Government will do the rest. When his training is over, and after a short period at home, he will sail for Canada, where immediate employment is guaranteed by the Canadian Government. From the time he leaves his home to enter the training centre, until he reaches his final destination in Canada, he will not have to spend a single penny.
We have, also, I am glad to say, been able to do something for a certain number of married men who desire to proceed overseas. When the married man is at the centre, he will be given an extra allowance to enable him to send money to his family each week, and when he gets to Canada with his wife and family the Canadian Government will see that he gets immediate employment. The opportunities, of course, for married men are much fewer and more difficult to obtain than they are for single men; but I think it is a considerable advantage that we have been able to make this arrangement for the married men and that we have been able to open our training centres to married men, although to a somewhat limited degree as yet. That, I think, explains fully the reasons why we require this further Vote of £300,000 for training young unemployed men.
Quite so. Therefore, I will ask my right hon. Friend the Minister to deal with that point later. I do not think that there are any sums which the Committee could be asked to find, as to which there will be more readiness or more general agreement than sums for the training of young unemployed men. The other item, to which I ask the Committee's attention is an item of £172,000 to facilitate the transference of workpeople. I do not propose—because it is quite unnecessary—to refer again to the conditions and the position in soma of the mining areas of this country which make this policy necessary. What the Committee will desire to know is, why this policy was adopted, and how we are carrying it out.
It is a significant fact that during the last 12.months the position of these men in the depressed areas, particularly in the mining districts, has been examined by three separate and independent bodies, and on the question of the necessity of migration all three have come to exactly the same conclusion. The Labour party examined the question and in their pamphlet "Labour and the Nation" they pointed out that migration from these depressed areas was absolutely necessary in the interests of the men themselves. The Liberal party examined it, and in the Yellow Book they come to exactly the same conclusion, namely, that everything that could be done should be done to facilitate the migration of these men from the hopeless surroundings of the depressed areas. Last of all, the Industrial Transference Board which was appointed for this very purpose, after visiting these areas, came to exactly the same conclusion. I shall read a paragraph from the summary of the Board's Report because it exactly summarises the position and states what, in their view, the policy ought to be. On page 24 of the Report is the following passage:
that is, unemployment in the depressed areas—
is of a special character; it is concentrated in areas where almost the whole community has depended on one or two industries, and whole communities therefore are involved in the slow paralysis it brings' with it. It is not susceptible of solution by localised measures of relief. It is no longer a ques-
tion of tiding over the unemployment in these areas until the crisis passes. A new policy is needed, directed to the permanent removal of as many workers as possible away from the depressed industries and areas to other areas where the prospect of employment—notwithstanding a certain amount of unemploypinent—is more favourable.
What the Committee will desire to know is how we have applied this policy to ascertained and existing facts. Before I deal with that question may I point out one ascertained and existing fact which is often forgotten, which is very relevant to this discussion, and which ought to he in the minds of everyone before they attempt to form a decided conclusion. It is the fact that during the last five years—and I know not for how long before because I have only the figures for five years—there has been a most remarkable passage of labour, from the North and the North Midlands, to the South, South-West and South-East. I will illustrate what I mean. In our North-Eastern District the insured population during the last five years has increased by about 31 per cent. In our North-Western District it has increased by about the same percentage. In Scotland, the insured population figure is almost stationary. As a matter of fact I think it is up by about 1 per cent. In Wales there has been an actual diminution in the number of insured persons in the last five years. I ask the Committee to compare that tendency with what has happened in London, in the South-Eastern and South-Western areas, and the Midlands. In the Midlands during that time the insured population has increased by 7 per cent. In Greater London it has increased by no less than 10 per cent. In the South-Western area it has increased by 10 per cent., and in the South-Eastern area it has increased by 18 per cent. What is, perhaps, more remarkable is that in all these cases where the insured population has increased you will find that the ratio—the peroentage—of unemployment has gone down. In London, for instance, unemployment in five years has gone down from just over 9 per cent. to just over 5 per cent.
Mr. B ETTERTON:
Yes, Greater London. In some of the towns outside
London the figures are even more remarkable. In Bedford, for instance, the insured population between 1923 and 1928 has increased by 17 per cent. It has gone up from 12,000 to 14,000, whereas unemployment in the same time has gone down from 8 to 6 per cent. In Coventry, the insured population in five years has increased by no less than 20 per cent. It has gone up from 60,000 to well over 70,000, whereas unemployment has gone down from 6 to 3 per cent. In Oxford—this is perhaps the most remarkable of all—the insured population has gone up from 14,800 to 21,000 in 1928—an increase of 49 per cent., while unemployment during the same time has gone down from 5½ to 3 per cent., which means, of course, that in that very fortunate town there is practically no unemployment at all. In Slough—this is the last instance with which I will weary the Committee—the insured population has gone up from 5,400 to 9,000, an increase of over 60 per cent., while the percentage of unemployment has gone down from 4½to2½per cent. That shows, I submit, that the Transference Board was perfectly right when in a later paragraph of their Report they said:
The elasticity of the employment market makes practicable the absorption in ordinary industry of a large part of the surplus without permanent prejudice to other workers.
The transference policy as we mean it, is simply this: It is an effort on our part, in accordance with the recommendation of the Report of the Transference Board, to ensure that a certain number of men and their families, who live at present amidst hopeless surroundings in depressed areas shall, at any rate, have a chance of joining in this stream which is always moving to those areas I have described, and it does seem to us that, to some extent under our direction and with our help, it is to their advantage and the advantage of the whole community that they should have a chance of sharing in a movement which, as I say, has Leen going on for the last five years. The Committee will ask: "If that be your policy, how are you carrying this transference policy into effect?" First of all—and this applies principally to young single men—we are very largely increasing the whole of our training opportuni-
ties both for those who wish to remain at home and those who wish to go abroad. With regard to young single men, we are also, as the Committee knows, making advances of fares, and in many cases the Employment Exchanges have not only advanced the fares but also found the men lodgings when they got to the other end.
But, as all of us who have had to deal with this problem know, much the most difficult, and, from many points of view, much the most tragic of the cases with which we have to deal, are cases of married men, often with families, situated in these depressed areas, where, as the Transference Board point out, there is no hope of employment. I am glad to be able to tell the Committee that, in accordance with the promise which my tight hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave just before Christmas, we have been able to offer opportunities and facilities for the transfer of the married men and their families, which, I venture to think, when they are known, will be widely used. I am now about to read a few words from the leaflet in which this scheme is set out:
In order to help genuinely unemployed married men to move from the depressed mining areas to approved employment in another area which has been found for thorn by an Employment Exchange or which they have found for themselves, the Government are prepared, at the discretion of the Ministry of Labour, to pay both
Payment of Grant A:
Under Grant A a man whose wife is living with him or who has one dependant in respect of whom dependants' benefit would be payable under the Unemployment Insurance Acts can obtain £6 in all, and £1 for every such additional dependant, up to a limit of £12 in all.
Yes, this is an Estimate which we think will meet the expens3. if more is required, we shall have to ask for more. The pamphlet continues:
If the dependants accompany the workman to the new area, the grant can lie paid in a lump sum as soon as the workman takes up his employment, but if he comes up before his family, it will be paid as lodging allowance at a rate not exceeding 12s. per week for a limited period, while he seeks accommodation for his family, the balance being paid ever in a lump sum immediately upon the removal of the household effects.
If the hon. Member will look at the Estimate he will see how much we are asking for. If it turns out that we want more, no doubt we shall come with another Estimate to get it.
The hon. Member is doing me rather an injustice, I am sure unintentionally. The proposal I have just outlined with regard to married men was promised by the Prime Minister immediately before Christmas. Immediately after Christmas it was put into effect, and this leaflet was issued, I think, about the second week in January. That is all I have to say upon this last item in the Supplementary Estimate, and I would just say one word in conclusion.
We want to be very clear about this. Do I understand on that item that the whole cost which the hon. Gentleman has been describing is covered by the Estimate for which the Government are asking or whether the hon. Gentleman is using voluntary funds for any part?
I can answer that at once. There is no question whatever of voluntary funds. It is all coming out of the Vote. If more money afterwards is required, undoubtedly we shall come to the House for it, but there is no question of voluntary funds whatsoever.
Before the hon. Gentleman sits down, will he give an explanation of this method of finding work in Canada, or see that it is explained to us, or refer us to some document which gives an explanation of it, because, obviously, if we have not that explanation, we are in the dark on the whole matter.
The Estimate tells us what amount is required for the purpose of industrial transference. Will the hon. Gentleman state what amount, has been actually expended since the document to which he referred was issued in January?
That I cannot say, because, as I have already told the Committee, this has only just come into operation, and I cannot tell the Committee how much has already been expended under this particular document.
Is it not accurate to say that there has been some transference of married men and their families since the document was first issued, and, if so, has there been no expenditure incurred; and if there has been expenditure, is it borne on this Vote?
I cannot. The grant which would be properly applicable to this transference of married men has been so short a time in operation that I cannot at present give the Committee the figures.
The conditions referred to in this leaflet date from the time the leaflet was issued. The precise date I can give on inquiry, but it was some time in the middle of January, and it is not, of course, retrospective. I do not know whether there is anything else I can say on this question of transfer at the present moment.
Strictly speaking, it is a matter which comes under the Dominions Office, but I can tell the hon. Gentleman that we do not consider that our efforts with regard to these harvesters last year were on the whole unsuccessful. At least 2,000 of them are still there, and, as far as we know, they have settled down permanently in Canada. But what is more significant is that of those who came home we have already had applications from a very large number to be included next year, when we have every reason to think many more will take advantage of the facilities to be provided, and will settle in Canada. That, I think, is all I need say at present on this question, except, perhaps, that I might say we have had during the last few weeks a remarkable manifestation on the part both of organisations and of individuals who live in more fortunately situated areas, of a desire to help those who live in depressed surroundings in some of the areas to which I have referred. I do suggest to them that there is a real opportunity of helping, both by bringing to the notice of miners and their families vacancies which may exist, and of arranging, as far as possible, with employers for these men to be employed; and also helping locally in obtaining, as far as they can, accommodation for these men when they arrive from the depressed areas. That is a real link between the areas where employment is to be had and those which need help, and I think this is a real constructive proposal on the only lines on which it is possible to help many of these people who live under the conditions which we all know so well and which we all deplore so much.
I want to be quite clear on the question of the accommodation for men transferred. Take the case of men coming to London. Before they arrive, is accommodation found for them, or are any of these men allowed to come from a crowded area without accommodation being already secured for them? I press that point, because if they come from overcrowded places to London and are planted down here without having accommodation provided beforehand, it is bad for them and bad for London as well.
The right hon. Gentleman wants to know the nature of the employment, and by whom it is found, for the trainees when they go to Canada. The trainees have already previously been passed by the Canadian Government, and when they go out there they go out with the Canadian Government's approval. They go to work that is found for them by the central Canadian Government, and the work is the ordinary kind of work with farmers. It is, in the nature of it, what can be called a permanent job. There is no absolute guarantee, of course, of the permanence of any job, but the trainees get work with farmers at the usual rates of pay. If a man is discontented and gives up the first job for a good reason, then he has the services of the Canadian Government Department at his back to try and find him another job.
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by 2100.
I am afraid that those who are unemployed will get very cold comfort out of the statement to which we have just listened. I do not for a moment minimise the advantage that is likely to accrue as a result of the transference of some of these men from some of these stagnant pools of unemployment, as they were described on one occasion by the Prime Minister, but when we realise the magnitude of this problem and the number of men who have been dealt with as a result of transference, we can quite see that we have not touched the fringe of the difficulty. I welcome the scheme with regard to the, transference of married men, although much more could he done, and I think a real scheme of transference should very largely confine itself to single men, before the married men are dealt with. One only has to look at the Transference Board's Report to see how totally inadequate the work done by the Govern- went has been up to now. In their Report, on page 9, the Transference Board deal with the 130,000 cases examined of wholly unemployed miners, and then they give the different age groups of those miners, and they say that there are 1,300 of them under 18 years of age; but when you come to the group between 18 and 25, there are 30,000 men in that one group.
I believe I am right in saying that up till the present time, as a result of the right hon. Gentleman's transference scheme, there have been less than 5,000 men transferred. As far as I understood from a reply given by the right hon. Gentleman last week, between 3,000 and 4,000 Dave been transferred as a result of the scheme, but even if it is 5,000, it will be seen that we have not yet touched what I regard as the most important group in connection with this question of transference. While not minimising the advantages of the scheme with regard to married men from the industrial districts, and especially from the coalfields, if we are to have transference, and if it is to be, as the Government say it is, one of the most important parts of their scheme in dealing with this question of the distressed areas, I think they should concentrate more upon the young single men than proceed to the transference of married men. When we realise that in the coal areas of the country we have 250,000 men unemployed, and when we realise what is being done by the Government, we can only refer to it as totally inadequate.
This morning, I saw the manager of one of the largest Employment Exchanges in South Wales, and I asked him whether there was any difficulty in getting men to leave the distressed areas. He said he had not yet failed to fill a vacancy, that every vacancy that had been notified had been filled, and that there was quite a number of young single men who, seeing that their prospects in the coal, industry are not what they would like them to be, would prefer to get out of the distressed areas, provided there was a reasonable opportunity for employment elsewhere. When men have been transferred, there have been considerable difficulties both in London and in other towns, but I am not going to deal with individual cases to-day, because I think they can best be dealt with between hon. Members and the Department concerned. What I do impress upon the Government, however, is that they should realise that, notwithstanding the advantages of this scheme of transference, it will not touch the fringe of the difficulties with which we are confronted.
I understand that some reference has been made to the question of the harvesters. The hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary, in his closing remarks, said the scheme was in some way successful, seeing that some 2,000 men are remaining in Canada and that a number of others have expressed a desire to return to Canada some time this year. I do not know that the fact that less than 25 per cent. of the men who were sent to Canada are remaining there can be said to make the scheme a success. I happened to be a member, with several of my colleagues, of the Empire Parliamentary delegation which visited Canada during the autumn of last year, and we were able to see conditions on the spot. It was very difficult to ascertain from the Canadian authorities who it was who, first of all asked that this scheme should he put into operation. I am not altogether opposed to the scheme, but I still think that it could have been made very much better than it was if sufficient time for its consideration had only been given to it instead of its being rushed as it was.
Let us look at the position as it was. It was reported that Canada was likely to have what was called a record harvest. A review was taken in July, and I think it was admitted that there would have to be a large number of men brought into the prairie provinces of Canada for the purpose of reaping the harvest, but, as far as we were able to understand, it was not until early in August that anything in the way of a definite suggestion was made with regard to men being taken from this country. The result was that the Canadian Federal Government themselves were rather doubtful as to whether they should agree to the scheme, but after consulting with the railway companies and getting them to agree to the placement of these men for harvest work and for winter work, they agreed to the scheme. I think it was early in August—;on 4th August, as matter of fact—that an order was first of all given in this country for the obtaining of the necessary 10,000 harvesters to fill the vacancies which the Canadian Government and the other authorities thought were available. The 10,000 were subsequently reduced to about 8.500.
The Canadian railway companies, which act, after all, as employment agents in Canada, undertook to give reduced fares both outwards and inwards and to place the men in work, and the Canadian Government agreed to co-operate. It appears that some 25,000 men offered themselves for service and were examined. On 6th August and following days some 8,500 men were accepted, and they sailed on or before 18th August. The scheme, to say the best of it, was rushed, and everyone admits that the selection of those men was very bad. Some men were not fitted, either by physical strength or by temperament, to stand up to the strain of the unaccustomed and arduous work, and the sights that some of us saw at Winnipeg when we arrived were such that it shocked us to think that any person in this country would send the type of men who really were sent there.
Let me give one or two instances. At Winnipeg, I saw a man—I have his name and address, if the right hon. Gentleman cares to have it, and the exchange from which he was sent—who admitted to me that he was discharged from the Navy as medically unfit on 6th August, 1924. He was suffering from epileptic fits. He had fits right up until three weeks before he sailed for Canada, and almost as soon as he arrived there he again had fits. I saw another man, who had not worked for several years, yet he was sent to Canada, and there were three men from my own Division, one of whom I know had not worked since he was discharged from the Army in 1918 or 1919. When I arrived at Winnipeg I saw Mr. Jelly, who was very helpful in almost everything and assisted us considerably, and he told me that there was a man of the name of Evans, from South Wales, who was in serious trouble with the police, having lost all his papers. I went to inquire about this man Evans, and I found out that he was a man who lived within a mile and a-half of my home. I know that that man was suffering from loss of memory, and had it not been for the fact that some of us who knew him were on the spot at that time, there is no doubt that he would have been imprisoned for some time for assaulting the police or something of that kind. I think it is right to say that it is borne out by a correspondent in one of the Canadian papers that something like 25 per cent. of the men who were sent to Canada were quite unfitted for the work they were sent out to do, and that a very large percentage of them had to be returned without having done more than a very few days' work.
Then there is another aspect of the scheme which, I think, should be dealt with, and that is that we were very surprised to find that something like 18 per cent. of the men who were sent to Canada were married men and had declared that they were married. It is suggested that a very much larger percentage than that of married men was sent out, but a number of them, I suppose, did not make the declaration that they were married, and simply got, there in that way. We did not oppose married men going to Canada, but, before they were accepted at the employment exchanges, they had to sign a document to the effect that, while they were in Canada, their wives and families should not ask for or receive relief from the Poor Law or any other authority. Ninety-eight per cent. of the men sent to Canada had been unemployed for from six to 18 months; they were dependent on unemployment benefit, and, even under the most favourable conditions after arriving in Canada, it would have been six weeks before any of them could have sent any money to their wives and families. As soon as the delegation heard that these conditions had been applied, they got into touch with the Colonial Office through Lord Peel, the chairman of the delegation, but the Colonial Office refused to do anything. This had some effect in making these men very discontented, as they were under the impression that their wives and families were in need long before they were able to send them money. I received a letter of protest from the Pontypridd Board of Guardians complaining that the Colonial Office and the Ministry of Labour had made this condition.
Another difficulty was the question of indicating to these men that a large amount of this money would have to be repaid. Most of the men had to accept the advance of £10 to enable them to go out; they were told that they would have to refund it, and that if they desired to return it would cost them something like£12. Some money was given to them at Quebec and some at Winnipeg, but all that they were told was that they would get a minimum of 30 days' work and that the average wage would be from to £5 a week. I am not suggesting that there was a guarantee that this wage would be paid, but all the men were under the impression that that was the condition under which they went to Canada. In harvesters' schemes and in migration generally, one thing a Government Department ought not to do is to lead people to think that they are going to get something which they will not get. The men became discontented, and on more than one occasion, in travelling across Canada, we heard prime ministers of provincial parliaments saying that a good deal of harm was done to migration by promises that conditions were better than they really were.
When the men got to Canada, they expected the wage which they were told was the average wage paid for the work. Everything went very well until the men arrived at Winnipeg. We found, however, that nothing had been done by the Ministry of Labour or the Colonial Office in any way to give the men information as to what the conditions were likely to be when they arrived in Canada. I am not posing as an expert on Canadian conditions, but, taking a casual view such as we took, one is bound to admit that the conditions are very different from those in this country. These men made Winnipeg their centre. Distances in Canada are not like distances in this country. A man can travel 150 miles in this country and think it is a long way, hut some of these harvesters had to travel from 500 to 800 miles from the centre. When they arrived at the places where they were told they could expect work, they found difficulties with regard to the placing; they found also that the harvest was not yet ready, and that the farmers were not prepared to pay anything like the harvest wages to the men who had been sent. In a number of instances the placements were very bad.
Notwithstanding the fact that wages had been referred to as from £3 to £5 per week, there was no organisation, either on the part of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Canadian National Railway, or even the Canadian Government Employment Service, to fix arrangements with regard to wages between the men and the employers. Every man placed on a farm had to make his own arrangements for wages arid other conditions between himself and the person who employed him. I found a reluctance on the part of a number of farmers to disclose the amount of wages which they would pay. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. J. Hudson) went to one place and saw a harvester giving every possible satisfaction; he asked the farmer how much he was going to pay, and he said that he had not made up his mind. That was after some 30 days work. Then he told us that he would pay between two and two and a half dollars a day, and that, if the man would stay on for the winter, there was a possibility of his paying from 10 to 15 dollars a month.
These men should have been instructed not only as to wages, but as to the length of the hours which they would have to work. There is no question of an eight or ten hour day in Canada; the men have to be up at daybreak and work until dark. It should be understood that most of the men had been unemployed for a considerable time, and it was admitted that the kind of work which had to be done was very hard. The result was that these men in a very few days found difficulties with their hands, because they had not been used to the kind of work. Some of the harvesters were fortunate in striking very good farmers, and the majority of the farmers treated the men very well and reasonably. But there was the trek back to Winnipeg of men who were disgruntled, and they were allowed to accumulate. Although the Parliamentary Secretary may say that this scheme was partially successful, I am satisfied that, had the Ministry of Labour or the Colonial Office given more consideration to the selection and instruction of the men, the scheme would certainly have been much more successful than it was.
I want to deal with the question of migration generally, because I understand that this Vote covers the transference of men from this country to Canada. I wish that, instead of painting glowing pictures of the conditions in Canada to the men who go there, they were told exactly what to expect. The real difficulty is that they are led to believe that things are so much better than they really are. We are faced with this difficulty at almost every point. Although there is a certain amount of extra work during harvest time, the greatest difficulty is to place the men during the winter months. Thousands of men are unemployed owing to climatic conditions in Canada during the winter months, and on most farms work is not available unless the men are prepared to work for mere board and lodging, or for something like five or 10 dollars, or, in the best eases, 15 dollars a month. A number of the harvesters who returned had been anxious to find suitable work in Canada during the winter, but they could not maintain their wives and families upon the small wages which were paid.
Let me deal with one or two difficulties with regard to sending men from the industrial areas, especially coal-mining districts, to Canada. We ought not to attempt to mislead miners with the idea that there is work for miners in Canada. It is not possible to send hundreds or thousands of miners to Canada and expect them to find work as coalminers in that country. Less than 30,000 miners are employed throughout the whole of Canada, and we have more than that number employed in the Rhondda Valley alone. The isolated individual miner who goes to Canada has to face a real difficulty. You can send one of our best miners, a man who has spent 25 years at the coal face, and who is able to cut coal in almost any coalfield in the world to Nova Scotia, but he will not be able to obtain work as a coal getter until he has received a certificate of proficiency. That certificate is not issued until he has been in residence for something like two years in the province of Nova Scotia. He would find the same difficulty in Alberta or British Columbia, although the residence is not so long. Mr. Peter Heenan, the Minister of Labour in the Federal Parliament, said that there was no work for coalminers in Canada, because in every coalfield there were coalminers unemployed. Mr. Heenan not only made that statement in private, but in public, and I have here a newspaper report of his statement.
No industry in Canada, with perhaps the exception of agriculture, can take large numbers of men from this country. We can send isolated individuals, but from what we saw of the conditions, and from what we were told, it is almost impossible to think of transferring men from industries in this country to industries in Canada and expect them to find work. One would have thought that there would be work for a large number of men on the railways. West of Winnipeg most of the permanent way work is done by Orientals or Central Europeans; very few English-speaking people are employed on the permanent way work of the two great railways, the Canadian Pacific and the Canadian National. [An HON. MEMBER: "'Chinks' are cheaper!"] I do not know whether it is a question of "chinks" being cheaper, but "chinks" are employed. We took the matter up with Lord Lovat, and he informed us that he had mentioned the fact to the Presidents of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian National Railway. Still there is this difficulty of getting British-speaking people to work with foreigners on these railways.
With regard to the question of agricultural work, as far as we are concerned we do not want to put anything at all in the way of the man who is anxious to go to Canada. We would rather encourage it, but at the same time I must emphasise the point that it is useless misleading these people by saying that there is an abundance of work available. Let me give the experience of a relative of mine who had the courage to take his wife and eight children to Canada two years ago. He went farming. I saw him when I was in Canada and, not only was he looking miserable, but he informed me that he was poorer then than he had been at any time in his life. The.£150 which he had when he went to Canada had all been spent; his wife and children were almost barefooted and without clothes. Unfortunately for him, the crop upon which he had depended failed, and this man and his wife and family have to be maintained during the present winter by moneys sent from relatives in this country. He went out under the 3,000 families scheme. He had a considerable amount of had luck, but he says he is going to stick it and pull through, and his son, who is now 16 years of age, is also going to stick it. That man was not properly instructed as to the conditions in Canada. When he arrived there, he was not advised as to what he ought to do to protect himself, and for two years he has experienced poverty which he never would have experienced in this country.
I do not know whether any report has been presented by Lord Lovat as a result of the investigations he made in Canada. We were told in July last year, almost immediately on the presentation of the Report of the Transference Board that Lord Lovat was to be sent to Canada to see whether arrangements could be made between the British Government and the Federal and Provincial Governments with regard to settling people on the land. I have waited for that report, but have not yet seen it. I have just been informed by an hon. Friend that unfortunately Lord Lovat is seriously ill. I am sorry to hear that, and under the circumstances I do not complain. Anyone who has studied the question of the settlement of persons overseas will admit that you cannot take people from the industrial areas of this country and dump them on the land in Canada and imagine that you are going to make them Canadian farmers at once. There must be a period of training and instruction. Farming in this country is difficult enough, but farming in Canada, I think, is perhaps even more difficult for the inexperienced person. I hope the Government will consider these difficulties, although I do not imagine that the transference of men overseas is going to deal with the problem of unemployment in this country.
The conditions overseas are not all that they might be. I have here a very important statement made by Mr. E. C. Drury, the ex-Minister of Emigration. He has dealt with the question in a series of articles published in MacLean's Magazine. Dealing with the difficulty of transferring men from this country to Canada, Mr. Drury sums up the position very well, and, with the permission of the Committee, I will quote what he says. Dealing with the Western Provinces he says:
Farmers and potential farmers flowed into it from everywhere—from Eastern Canada, from the 'United States, from Britain, from the countries of Continental Europe. But the thing that drew this vast tide of settlement was free land, to be had for the taking; land, too, that was ready for cropping after merely ploughing and back-setting. Here the man of small capital,
or none, might go and expect to have something of real value in a very few years, not only through the crops he expected to raise, but through the inevitable rise in the value of his land. Good land, free for the taking, this was the lodestone that drew the settler, that made hint willing to hear the hardships and privations of pioneering. But "—
says Mr. Drury—
conditions have changed. Free land no longer beckons. There is plenty of it yet, it is tree, but it is either so far from transportation as to be undesirable, or is what is left after the best has been taken-the culls. There is plenty of idle land, good land, close to the railways, but it is held by private owners, and at prices ranging from $14 to $15 per acre. It is no longer possible for the settler without capital to acquire desirable land. Sir George MacMunn of the Church of England Council of Empire Settlement in a recent interview put the case very clearly: 'The real trouble is that Canada is not able at the present moment to offer opportunities to the British settlers without capital.' And the farmer without capital won't come. He is quite well off where lie is.
The representative of the Government shakes his head. He must not quarrel with me, he must quarrel with Mr. Drury, who ought to know something about the question of emigration. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will smile at some of the statistics which Mr. Drury gives in the course of these articles. Dealing with he economic conditions of the farmers in Canada, he points out that the individual farmer is not as prosperous as some people imagine and give statistics of the rural population in some of the provinces. He says:
Under these unfavourable conditions it is to be expected, not only that the farms should fad to attract immigrants, but that they should not hold our own rural population.
He points out that in Ontario, which is certainly not less favourably situated than the West, the rural population, which was 1,295,000 in 1891, had shrunk to 1,226,000 in 1921. In 30 years, there had been a reduction in the rural population of Ontario, notwithstanding the opening up of Northern Ontario, of about 70,000 persons. He says that during the last 30 years the rural population of Prince Edward's Island has shrunk from 94,800 to 69,500; Nova Scotia, from 373,000 to 296,000; and that even Quebec, with its high birth-rate and the home-loving character of the rural population, which might have been ex-
pected to counteract this tendency, showed a slight decrease during the last census period. If you take the three great prairie provinces, you will find, according to the figures given by Mr. Drury, that the rural population of Manitoba during the five years 1921 to 1926 increased a mere 3.36 per cent., Saskatchewan by 7 per cent., and Alberta by 2.24 per cent. He then gives three reasons why Canadian conditions are unable to attract migrants from this country, and refers to a movement on foot in Canada, among some of the large landowners, to induce people from Central Europe to emigrate, not people from Anglo-Saxon countries, because their standard of life is so much lower than the standard of life in Anglo-Saxon countries.
I have here a quotation—if the hon. and gallant Member will allow me to read it; it is from the articles written by Mr. Drury—
Still another solution of the problem of farm settlement may be found in following the policy put forward by Sir Clifford Sifton and Mr. C. W. Peterson—abandoning as hopeless the ideal of settling our farm lands mainly with those of Anglo-Saxon extraction, or with settlers from Northern and Western Europe, and seeking the peasant of Eastern Europe, the man with the sheepskin coat,' as our main reliance. We can get him and in numbers.
And because his standard of life is so much lower than that of the people of this country.
No, but I can give the hon. and gallant Member an instance which came under my notice. We were at Cologna, and a farmer was sitting next to me. He owned a very large farm and was asked by a representative of one of the railway companies whether he would divide his farm into small farms. He agreed that he could settle 15 families on his farm. Unfortunately, he was taken ill and went to California, but when he came back, instead of finding 15 British families settled upon his land, he found 15 German families, and the tendency, he said, was to settle these people in preference to British families because their standard of life is so much lower. They did not stay on the farm very long; 12 of the families left in a very short time. I mention this case because when we were in Canada we were told not to mislead the people here when we came back to this country by advising them that all they have to do is to go to Canada and everything will be smooth and easy for them.
The people who go to Canada should be those who are willing to go; those who are prepared to put up with the difficulties and hardships which they will have to face. Even in that case, I still think you will have a number of people who will want to go to Canada. The man who is sent to Canada under a misapprehension, who is driven there against his will, will do more harm to the movement from this country than one can really describe. It is a matter which the Colonial Office and the Ministry of Labour should take up. I do not think we can send out anything like a sufficient number of men really to touch the fringe of our unemployment difficulty in this country.
We shall have to tackle this problem courageously. Schemes of transference, either in this country or overseas, will not touch it. We talk about coal and the land, and about afforestation, but for some reason or other we seem to forget and neglect developments in our own country, although we are quite prepared to spend £10,000, £20,000, £100,000, to send people abroad in order to cultivate other land. Our largest market, after all, is our home market; and I appeal to the Government to tackle this question, realising that unemployment is one of the things that we must face ourselves.
I think hon. Members on this side of the Committee will find it possible to agree to a considerable extent with the remarks which have been made by the hon. Gentleman opposite. There are those among us who are interested in this important question of overseas settlement, and we realise the danger of too great an enthusiasm in boosting this scheme. But I do not see eye to eye with the hon. Member when he belittles, as I thought, not so much what has actually happened or is likely to happen in the immediate future as to transference, but the principle underlying it. I believe the principle is a sound one. I believe that the objection which is commonly made that it only takes work out of the mouths of other people is not only to a large extent inaccurate, but that it is also based on a misapprehension.
I took the opportunity of having a glimpse, and I do not pretend that it was more than a glimpse, of what was going on in one of those districts where the trouble mainly arises, during the recent Recess. I do not pretend that I made the examination of those districts in anything like the thorough manner in which it has been done by the Prince of Wales. Everyone on all sides of the House, everyone who is conscientiously-minded, must be impressed by the tremendous advantage which has followed to the people and to the nation by that inspection which was carried out by the heir to the Throne. I think it is safe, to say that those who feel otherwise are too negligible for any attention to be paid to them, and, though they do exist, they should be treated with the contempt which all of us will feel for them. There is one thing which must impress everyone who has seen the smallest bit of the situation in the distressed districts, such as Durham, and that is the tremendous courage with which a difficult situation is being borne, and which I am confident will be borne as such difficulties are always borne by British people, so long as it is necessary to do so. When we consider the times through which they have been passing, it is a great tribute to our race; it is a great tribute, perhaps, to those same qualities which received art impetus from the War, that self-respect has always been maintained. One thing which all of us must always strive to do in this country, and which no sacrifice should be too great to attain, is to prevent our people losing their own self-respect.
It is not without interest to notice that in those districts there has grown up, to a degree which we might regard as surprising, a real fear lest the Lord Mayor's Fund should concentrate attention, shall I say too largely, on the aspect of relief, and to too small an extent on what I should call the major aspect, that of employment. People who may be assumed to share the views of hon. Members opposite entertain this feeling just as strongly as other people. They are aware of the danger, and some of them do not hesitate to express it, which we are incurring by the undue concentration, both in fact and in sentiment, on the sums of money which are available from the Lord Mayor's Relief Fund. Although it is impossible to ignore the importance of the relief aspect in its most narrow interpretation, I think it is not an unhealthy sign that there should be this feeling in districts of that character, where it would be most natural to lay stress on relief.
I will not say any more about the relief fund. All I wanted to do was to draw attention to it in order to mark the importance of the non-relief aspect of this question. I have had some opportunity of seeing the results of these transference schemes, and of seeing what the effect has been on men who have been brought down from such areas as Durham to other parts. They have impressed the people in the districts to which they have gone by the way in which they have worked hard and held their own in spite of the physical difficulties which must have been the natural result of their prolonged unemployment. I feel that it might still be an advantage—I will make but one passing allusion to the fund—if the money could be used more for the transference scheme than for relief. Some people are in a position, perhaps, to give £1,000 or £100 that might be far better represented in terms of employment of labour. It would be well if the Government were to suggest that if people, far rather than giving relief in the form of subscriptions, would spend the equivalent sums in giving wages and keeping such people from these areas in healthy occupations; they would be doing a still bigger thing, and possibly useful work into the bargain. I believe there has been a certain element of danger arising out of the enthusiasm of the public being drawn away to a large extent from the importance of giving work, which is of overriding importance, in the direction of subscriptions. The money is spent, and then it is all over.
There is another aspect which has its interest, and perhaps I had better tell hon. Members opposite that I am saying this as a result of my experience, not as being my opinion, and it is, I believe, a general experience. During the last three months, when public interest has been directed so much to the miners, my eyes have been opened—and the opportunities which I have had of learning of the feeling in other sections of the working-class community are probably as good as other hon. Members—my eyes have been opened to the intense feeling, I might almost say the hate felt by people in other walks of life, people of the wage-earning classes, towards the mining community. That is not my own feeling; but it is a point in connection with this trouble which has to he borne in mind. Among people in other walks of life there has been a tremendous fury, which I have never been aware of myself, but I am recording what I have heard from other people. People of the working classes feel it to an extent which I have never realised. I do not say that it is natural, or unnatural, Christian or un-Christian or anything else; but I believe that feeling is there, and it is confirmed by people who have done their best to try to get a move on in this question. The views of these other workers are based on what happened in 1926; but I personally have never myself attributed any large or important share of the blame to the working miner himself. Nevertheless, there is that feeling in the country, and I think it is wise and for the general good that it should be recognised. Hon. Members opposite should not shut their eyes to the feeling of the other wage-earners in this country. I could give a case which I was told about where a very large collection was made in church in a place where there had been great hostility to the proposed advent of miners, and the only reason for that remarkable result was because the parson had preached his sermon on the text of the prodigal son.
To come back to the distressed areas, I think the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour deserves the utmost credit for the work he is doing in the juvenile training centres. Many of the young men who attend these centres do find work, and there is a demand for work of the kind which they are doing. I was tremendously impressed when I saw them as to their moral, their keenness, and the obvious interest that they showed, and by the fact that, even in their holidays when the training centres were normally closed, when they had an opportunity of reassembling again before the fixed time for opening, they unanimously and voluntarily took advantage of it. That shows the kind of spirit which we want to encourage. I think that any employer who wanted labour, if he were to see the young fellows in some of the juvenile training centres, would be tremendously impressed with the material he would find there, and would be likely to make use of it.
Another interesting thing which has been communicated to me—I believe it to be a fact, which hon. Members may be able to confirm—is that a difficulty has been experienced in connection with moving unemployed miners which does not apply to the same extent to the unemployed of other classes in the same district. It has been noticeable in many instances that unemployed iron and steel workers have been ready to go to other districts and have been found remunerative employment elsewhere, whereas difficulties have been encountered through the rank conservatism of the miners. For some reason, about which I have not been able altogether to satisfy myself, this difficulty does appear to exist as to migration, and especially in the case of moving to other mines elsewhere; it is not so much a question of getting them to go to another area, because people who are desperate will go anywhere, but there have been many cases where they have gone, but afterwards they have come back. I am not saying this in a controversial sense, but it is an experience which the people who run the Employment Exchanges in those districts will tell you about.
Another aspect, the most important aspect of all, was that touched upon by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare when he spoke of migration. Personally I have a very great belief in the value of the work along those lines. I do not pretend that it would be a solution of all our difficulties, but I do believe it would go a very long way to meeting them, and it would have the added advantage of doing something big both for the Empire and for the people themselves. You may transfer a man to more remunerative employment in the South of England, you may give him work in clearing woodland, as I have seen it in Staffordshire; he will get the standard wage, such as it is, and his condition will be vastly preferable to remaining idle in his mining village month after month, but there is no doubt that he will not get those opportunities which await the man who goes out to the Dominions, certainly as the hon. Member for Aberdare said, willingly, and keen and with his British spirit behind him. Perhaps it was natural after his tour in Canada—it is a good many years since I was in Canada and perhaps I have lost touch with things there—but I think my hon. Friend was rather too apt to forget the other Dominions. I feel that be may quite legitimately say both to Canada and to Australia that if they take the miner they are not taking him as a charity but they are taking him for the fundamental needs of themselves, and helping in the solution of many of their own problems. They have had experience of miners in the past and have found that they have made good settlers. Miners have a high reputation as settlers in the Dominions.
These great Dominions may raise economic difficulties about settlement, but I will put this one point which I think it necessary they should hear in mind: No one knows better than hon. Members opposite that throughout the whole world there is growing up a tendency to treat the world as one entity, to regard the problems of the world as one common problem, and it may be interesting to speculate on what may be the attitude of the League of Nations in future when many countries may be represented on it by Labour or Socialist nominees—who knows but what it, may not conceivably come in the future!—and with an International Labour Office with a similar point of view. They may want to take a world view of certain things. They, with their problems of overcrowding in many countries, may see Canada and Australia as countries where on the map the populated area represents only a tiny speck of their territories, and may say, "Is this land to be closed merely because of the policy of the country itself or the creed of the British Empire?" What is going to happen in those Dominions when there is this tendency to look on population and open spaces from a world point of view? Canada and Australia may think it wise in the meantime to fill up their land with good stock, stock which I have seen, perhaps at its best, in the ranks during the War, a people showing all the grit and determination with which we now see them facing up to the difficulties which exist in the mining areas in Durham and other parts of the country.
The Noble Lord has shown such praiseworthy determination not to be provocative in any way that I think he ought to be met in the same spirit, but at the same time I would like to know where exactly these workers are to be found who are animated by this intense hostility towards the miners. Those to whom I have talked in a distressed area rather tend to regard the miners and their sufferings as representative of the whole of the working class, and the miners cause as their cause, and I do not think my experience has been at all unique; and certainly if the miners are only welcomed in the spirit of the Prodigal Son, I should feel rather inclined to cast the Government which the Noble Lord would support for the part of the fatted calf. The hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall) has dealt so thoroughly, and with such first hand knowledge, with the question of Canadian migration, that I do not need to follow him on that topic, but the figure of 2,000 out of 10,000 who found permanent work in Canada may he regarded from two aspects. That 2,000 should remain out of 10,000 who went there is, in one respect, a very satisfactory figure, having regard to the fact that the men were sent out to do harvesting work, but if that figure of 2,000 be compared with the 300,000 who, according to the report of the Industrial Transference Board, are permanently out of work in this country, one sees how very small a relation it bears to the whole problem. We are not going to solve very much along those lines. It may well be that this first experiment, rushed though it was, succeeded in settling more people than subsequent experiments may do. There may have been vacancies at first, but it does not follow that there will be vacancies for 2,000 in every succeeding year. It is not every class of unemployed worker who can find employment in Canada. The agricultural worker has the best opportunity, and it is not every steel worker or coal miner who can settle down to agricultural work; and in any case the numbers who can be absorbed in this way are small indeed compared with the totality of the problem.
It is to home transference that we have to look if transference is to justify itself as a means of dealing with unemployment. In the speech which introduced this Supplementary Estimate, it was pointed out that both the Labour party's policy and the Liberal Yellow Book had recommended transference. That is true, but at any rate in the case of the Yellow Book, for which I can speak, and I think it is the same with the Labour party, this policy of transference does not stand alone, it is part of a very much larger scheme. In the case of the Industrial Transference Board, however, this proposal stands more or less in isolation; afforestation on a mild scale is about all they can suggest in the provision of new work. It makes all the difference to any transference scheme whether you are going to consider it only in relation to existing opportunities of work or in relation to all the work which can be created and is not being created at the present time. If we consider it along the lines, the limited lines, of the Transference Board's Report we may very justly doubt whether the 5,000 or so who have already been transferred from one part of the country to another have not, as a matter of fact, taken places which would have gone to other men if there had been no transference. It is very natural we should fear that that is what has happened. Speaking as a representative of a distressed area, I am glad that people from Middlesbrough should find employment in any part of the country, and it is perhaps for hon. Members in the districts to which they have been transferred to see what the eventual result is upon their own population. But we have to look at this problem from the point of view of the whole and merely to wheel people about from one part of the country to another is not solving the problem.
The figures given with regard to the comparative increases of population in the South and East as compared with Wales and the North East are not really convincing. It may be that the number of insured workers in those districts is increasing and the number of unemployed falling, but that was from a natural transference. At the period when those figures were taken work was calling for the men and the men were arriving in response to the call of work. It is an altogether different thing when you have artificial population transference, and when you are trying deliberately to accelerate the process, which is what this policy of the Government means. When you are artificially accelerating the process and moving people from one part of the country to another faster than they would otherwise have gone, we must have every reason to fear that it is merely a matter of one man being employed rather than another, without any increase in the total number of jobs, and as long as that is the total extent and scope of this scheme it is only dealing with unemployment in a very superficial manner.
The Noble Lord says this work is being created specially for these people. I should like to find the employers who have been in a position during these years of stress to find work for men but who have been so stupid and so blind to their own businesses, their own opportunities of creating work, that it was not until we got a speech from the Prime Minister that they thought of setting these people to work. It sounds to me an extraordinary proposition, and from my own experience I do not believe it is the case. I am not saying this transference has no value at all, because it does enable the employers to get the pick of the best men, to get men from the coal and iron and steel districts who, I believe, are the best workers in the world, arid it is a very good thing that they should have an even chance; my point is that that does not increase the total amount of work, and unless you couple up this scheme of transference with larger schemes for creating work and thus providing an object for the industrial training which is being provided you have only half a policy. It is like running a series of excursion trains to a football match that is not there. You hope it is there. You bring the people there, but they must see if they can find the game for themselves. The thing is to find the game first and then to run your excursion trains. I am quite convinced that on its present scale this industrial transference policy of the Government is only nibbling at the edge of the problem. It is only a suggestion of what it might become. Link it up with an active scheme for the provision of work, and it may play its part in solving the problem.
What the Government are proposing to do by this Vote will not touch the problem at all. It is no use telling us that all is being done that can be done. Neither is it sufficient that the, supporters of the Government should form themselves into a mutual admiration society—
I do not think that up to the present I have transgressed your ruling, Mr. Herbert. The scheme we are discussing seems to me to have about as much constructiveness as a single brick in relation to the building of a house. The transference scheme adopted by the Government is like dealing with a broken leg with sticking plaster. We have heard a good deal from the Government supporters about constructiveness, but I think an impartial listener to this Debate would come to the conclusion that the lack of perspicuity blinds them to the perspicacity in the Opposition. Certain factors have to be tackled when you consider the statement made by the Parliamentary Secretary in relation to the drifting southward of the uninsured population, and I was very interested in his figures as applied to Scotland. The Parliamentary Secretary made a statement to the effect that in the last five years the insured population of Scotland has remained practically stationary. The hon. Member must know that the insured population of Scotland is gradually getting less, and if the hon. Gentleman takes his own figures for the last 12 months, he will find that in every county in Scotland, with the exception of Perth there has been a reduction in the number of insured persons, and there has also been a corresponding increase in the number of unemployed persons.
I would like to refresh the memory of the Parliamentary Secretary on this point. At Aberdeen, in 1927, there were 68,810 insured persons, and in 1928 there were 65,510; but the unemployed in that county in those two years numbered 6,055 in 1927 and 6,748 in 1928. In the county of Angus there has been a decrease in the number of insured persons of 3,950 in one year, but the number of unemployed persons rose in that county from 6,905 to 10,690. The only county that shows an increase in the number of insured persons is Perth, and the increase there has been only 1,730, although the increase in the number of unemployed in that county has risen from 1,205 in 1927 to 1,706 in 1928. In Lanarkshire, in 1927, there were 522,980 insured persons, and in 1928, 496,590.
When yon come to examine the figures relating to unemployed persons, in Lanarkshire there was an increase from 60,143 in 1927 to 77,468 in 1928. Fife, which is the other industrial county, shows a decrease of insured persons in the same two years of 5,790, and the number of unemployed persons in the same county has gone up from 6,850 in 1927 to 8,586 in 1928. In every other county in Scotland you will find the same state of things. The Parliamentary Secretary said the drift was all towards the south and tile south-west, and I suppose the hon. Member would include South Wales in the south-west district. The facts are somewhat different in Wales, although the industrial counties are pretty similar. If you take Carmarthen, there were 38,340 insured persons in 1927, and in 1928 the total fell to 37,820.
I want to take Wales and compare it with the state of things in Scotland. Denbigh is the only county in South Wales that shows a decrease in the number of insured persons, but it also shows a huge increase in the number of unemployed persons. Every other county in South Wales shows a decrease in the number of insured persons, but, apart from Denbigh, they also show a decrease in the number of unemployed persons, which is opposite to the position of things in Scotland. These are factors which cannot be dealt with under schemes like those put forward by the Government, and it is not sufficient to tackle the problem in that way. It is not enough to indulge in spectacular schemes of transferring men to Canada, although it has been found that about 2,000 out of 10,000 men sent to Canada have remained there as permanent inhabitants.
What is the cause of this decrease in the number of insured persons in Scotland and Wales, and the increase in the number of unemployed persons? It will be found that the unemployed persons do not correspond in number with the great decrease in the number of insured persons. That would seem to indicate that many insured persons in 1927 were either being driven into uninsured occupations, or else they were being driven to the parish councils to accept out-door relief. This process may show some sort of advantage when the Government desire to put up a case to show that unemployment is getting less and is being dealt with by practical measures. We are often twitted and told that we do not present any constructive proposals, but this is not the time for us to bring forward such proposals.
No good can be done in the direction of solving this unemployment problem unless it is tackled by organising the whole resources of the country. Until we get a pooling of the common sense of the nation in order to administer the proposals that we have suggested, there can be no alleviation of this particular problem. I am ready to give the Government credit for any scheme that will transfer men from depressed areas to any district where jobs can be found for them. There is no Member on the Labour benches who would not gladly welcome to-morrow any suggestion which the Government might make to transfer men in order to provide them with jobs, provided they were paid decent wages and were able to have a decent standard of life without cutting other men out of their jobs. On these benches we are prepared to do all we can to co-operate with the Government if they can find jobs for the unemployed, and we are ready to help to get the unemployed men to jobs if the men are guaranteed a decent standard of life.
It may help the hon. Member if I tell him that I think the Parliamentary Secretary confined his speech within the limits he did because he knew he could only deal with matters coming under this Supplementary Estimate.
I will try to obey your Ruling, Mr. Herbert. The Parliamentary Secretary seemed to imply that the whole field of unemployment was covered by 200,000 miners. Only last week we were informed that there were 1,400,000 persons on the live register of the unemployed. It is quite true that hon. Members on this side of the Committee are ready to support the policy of transference if the only difficulty we had to meet was 200,000 men on the live register. The real problem is that there are over 1,200,000 men on the live register, and something like 1,750,000 unemployed in other parts of the country in addition to the miners. What did the hon. Gentleman tell us? He told us that. there were 2 or 3 per cent. out of work in Oxford, and I think he said the population was about 14,000—
In 1923 the insured population was 14,850, and in 1928 21,040, an increase of 6,190, or 29 per cent. The percentage of unemployment in 1923 was 5.3, and that percentage had decreased in 1928 to 2.3.
That was about the best instance, and it shows that there were about 21,000 people employed now, while in other cases he gave figures showing that there were something like 10,000.
Would the hon. Member like the figures for Coventry? In 1923, the insured population was 60,000, and in 1928 it was nearly 72,000, having increased by 20 per cent.; while the unemployment in Coventry in 1923 was 6 per cent., and in 1928 had decreased to 3 per cent.
While there are something like 2,000,000 people unemployed, the number of unemployed miners is 200,000; and he brings them into districts whose absorptive power over a period of five years is only something like 12,000, and in the case of Oxfordshire something like 7,000. How long does he think it is going to take, on that scale, to transfer even the 200,000 miners?
The hon. Gentleman knows very well, and the House of Commons knows very well, that transference is not touching even the edge of the mining problem. People have gone from my district, but only about one in a thousand, and they come back, not for the reasons stated by the Noble Lord the Member for Shrewsbury (Viscount Sandon), but because, when they get there, they only get temporary work and have to return because there is no work for them. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that that is a fact. I know a case in which a man went from my district into Yorkshire, and, when he got there, got about one day's work, so there was nothing for him to do but to return. It is quite true, as the Noble Lord the Member for Shrewsbury said, that the average miner has a very great affection for his own particular place, and I think that that is to his credit. The same can be said of most people engaged in the various walks of life in this country, but it can also be said that unemployment is such a painful thing to the average miner that he would go almost anywhere to get employment if he were in any way sure that it was more than a temporary thing.
The real problem which the country has to race, as hon. Members opposite know quite well, is to find work for the great mass of the people in every industry in every part of the country who are now unemployed. I asked the Prime Minister the other day what he was going to do about it. If that problem were faced, transference to other parts of the country, and absorption in other industries, would be comparatively easy while the works that I had in mind were in operation. If the problem is not going to be faced in that way, transference is a mere bagatelle, scarcely worth a second thought. I live in a very difficult area, and I do not care what Government does it, or from what source the proposal comes, if it is going to find decent work
for any number of men; but I am not going to advise my people or to use my influence to help them, to move from an area where at least they are sure of something to eat, into an area where they are practically certain to supplant other men, and where at the same time they are not sure what is going to happen to them when they get there. I have placed in the hands of the Ministry a long list of names of men who have been brought down under the transference scheme, and have given instance after instance of the uncertainty which these men—decent young men who are keen on work—are finding as to whether the work that they get is going to last more than a week, or even more than a day or two. I put that proposition to the Prime Minister in a question the other day, when I asked him:
whether his attention has been called to the conditions of overcrowding and poverty prevailing in the mining areas of Durham and Northumberland; whether lie is aware that similar conditions prevail in many other great industrial centres; and whether, ill the face of these conditions, he is now prepared to respond to the appeal made to him by the Opposition some time ago that a non-party committee of this House be appointed to consider and prepare schemes of national work and social service, such as land drainage, slum clearance, road making, and other works which have been proposed, in order to give useful employment to those who are now unemployed?—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th February, 1929; col. 1933, Vol. 224.]
The Prime Minister's reply was that the Government were relying partly on transference, and partly on the De-rating Bill, which we cannot now discuss. The Noble Lord the Member for Shrewsbury talked about facing this problem in the War-time spirit. Everyone knows that, if war were declared to-day, we should be employing the great mass of the unemployed either in making explosives and other destructive materials or in destroying other people in other countries. I do not think it is beyond the wit of man or beyond the power of the people of this country to employ those people now if we face the problem in the same spirit. We proposed a non-party Committee to deal with this matter, but when we made that proposal we were simply jeered at. There is land drainage, there is road making, there is a number of constructive proposals that have been made, and a great mass of work that needs to be done.
It would be to the credit of this country if we could use the men who are now unemployed for the clearance of the great slums which are a subject of shame to the people of this country, for the making of the roads that are so necessary, for the clearing and draining of land, and for doing other useful work, instead of condemning them to suffer the pain of unemployment.
The Noble Lord the Member for Shrewsbury definitely made this statement, that great numbers of men were not prepared to move. I say of miners, as of other workers in other parts of the country, that they will go north, east, south, or west, and will be delighted if we can give them an opportunity of doing useful work. If transference is to be brought abort, it must be while constructive work is being done in that way. It is not a thing that can be done, or is even desirable, as long as masses of men are unemployed in other parts of the country. The Government, of course, are doing a certain amount of training, and I want to congratulate them in so far as they are developing that training. The Parliamentary Secretary gave figures showing that they are training something like 6,000 men per annum for Canada, but should like to know how many training centres there are now. I see that there are certain training centres in addition to those at Brandon and other places—where people are trained for about two months—where men are trained for a week or two at a time, and I should like to know how many centres of this description there are, and whether they are included in the figures which the hon. Gentleman gave with regard to the numbers being trained for Canada.
Those places, of course, are doing spendid work. To see Brandon or any of those various places is an inspiration to those who live in large areas where unemployment is so prevalent, and they also give one an indication—
I think I can answer the hon. Member's question now. The places where what he rightly describes as short courses are given, are situated at Bourne (Lincolnshire), Fermyn Woods (Kettering), Melton Constable, Shobden (Herefordshire), and Presteign (Radnorshire).
I happen to have seen the one at Kettering this morning. It is not in operation yet, but it is quite clear that, as far as the arrangements for the men are concerned, they give ground for hope, and are an indication of what might be done both for adult men and also, on the educational side, for adolescents. I was also pleased to hear the hon. Gentleman say that there are about 200 families at Chiseldon, under the Ministry of Labour. There the experience is, as I believe is the case in many other places, that those who are training these men find that they have to give them about a month's decent feeding before they can do any useful work. I think that, much as the harvesting scheme has been boosted, it will be discovered that a great proportion of the failures among those who went to Canada was due to the fact that these men had been unemployed for so long, and were not decently and properly fed for a long period before then went. If the training establishments did nothing more than build up the men physically before they were offered work, either in this country or abroad, they would be doing a good work in that respect.
One does not like to dwell upon the gloomier side of unemployment all the time, and I am not going to do it; I live too close to it to desire to dwell upon it. The adolescent side of the training—the training of youths of 16 to 18—which one has seen in seine of these places, is a delightful and inspiring thing to see, as well as the zest of the young people and their desire to make the best of their physical and mental powers and to fit themselves for life, and the keeness of those who are training them. If the House of Commons could go over one of these centres and see the men at work, the people who are training them, and particularly the adolescent training, the House and the country would look at this problem in a very different spirit from that which prevails at present. The present spirit is one of drift, hoping that something will turn up, but knowing that nothing will turn up. By the ruling of the Chair, we are not able to deal with the matter in a larger and constructive manner on this occasion. The fact of the matter is that, as the Prime Minister has said, we are at the very beginning of a new industrial revolution. We have a large surplus of men, and that surplus will continue to increase unless constructive means are found of employing those men in a useful way.
We say, therefore, to the hon. Gentleman, that it is no use the Government dealing with this problem as though it were only a question of dealing with 200,000 miners who have to be transferred. They must deal with the 1,400,000 unemployed who are on the live register, and, indeed, they must deal with something like 2,000,000 who are actually unemployed; and, when they face that problem, it will be a question of doing constructive work of a very real character. But when the British Legion propose that constructive work should be done, they are refused. I should like to know what the hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Ellis) thinks about this matter. It is not very long ago that I heard him proposing a committee similar to the one I propose. It is not very long since I heard the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Captain Macmillan) propose the same thing. The Government know very well that there are behind them many Members who in their hearts know that extraordinary means have to be taken to face this problem, and, when they come dealing with the matter in the way of transfer, the suggestion of my hon. Friend behind me that it is like putting sticking plaster on a wooden leg is a very mild one. When we have suggestions, we must give them as an alternative to the transfer system. We suggest that they should use the great mass of the unemployed for remaking the country, making it a place worthy to live in, as well as giving the men useful work to do for the country as a whole.
It is always a difficulty, in Debates of this description, that we are precluded from offering constructive proposals for the solution of the unemployed problem. The difficulty that confronts Members on these benches applies equally to the Government, for in this Debate the Government can do no more than deal with the points the representative of the Ministry has dealt with in his speech. But, as I understand it, the primary policy of the Government in respect of unemployment at this time is to transfer our unemployment problem from this country to the Dominions. That is an entirely new policy. It is true that for a long time emigration has proceeded on its normal course. Those of an adventurous and pioneering spirit have gone to the Dominions and many of them have made good, but it is only within recent years that any Government has found it necessary to make emigration an important policy in respect of unemployment or any other industrial matter. I object to the Government transferring to the Dominions any burden which rightly belongs to this country. We have no right to ask the Dominions to accept our unemployed until we have exhausted every possible step in order to dispose of the problem ourselves. It cannot be urged by the apologists for the Government that we have reached exhaustion in respect of possible remedies, if not for the complete solution of the unemployed Problem, at all events as a means or mitigating the harsh details of unemployment. There are innumerable remedies, at least of a partial character, that could be applied, and not until the Government avail themselves of these possibilities are they entitled to ask the Dominions, already overburdened with problems, to accept some of ours. In any event, is it not clearly demonstrated by this time that emigration, however much you might accelerate its progress, cannot solve the problem for you? You may send 10,000 harvesters every year to Canada, and Canada may retain 50 per cent. of them. That is a figure that is hardly anticipated by the Government. At the very most they only expect about 25 per cent, retained. If Canada retained every year 50 per cent. of the harvesters who are despatched there, it would still not lead to a solution of the problem with which we are confronted. So, whatever importance the Government attach to the policy of emigration, we at least can say, on the facts as presented by the Government over a period of years, that it is of very little use as a means of dealing effectively with this problem.
The hon. Gentleman gave the Committee a series of figures which were very interesting, and they related, as I understand, to the transfer of our industrial population and of our industries from the North, speaking broadly, to the South. He told us of the elimination of unemployment in certain industrial areas in the South. Has it never occurred to him and his friends that one of the reasons why industry is more prosperous in the South is because in recent years there has been a continual development in our luxury trades? It is true that in Oxford unemployment is very small, but it is due to the development of what is in part a luxury trade, the production of vehicles which are intended for private use. I do not say the production of motor cars is entirely a luxury trade but in parts it is What applies to Oxford applies in some measure to Coventry. Take another example of this change in the industrial position. Quite contiguous to the London area there is a hive of industry. One witnesses it when travelling to the west country from Paddington. There are gramophone concerns and industrial undertakings of a like character, and they have given employment to very many people. Similarly with the artificial silk industry in the South of England. All these in the main are luxury trades and are subject, to fashions and changes that arise from whim or caprice on the part of the consuming public. Surely the hon. Gentleman is not prepared to say the establishment of these luxury trades, even if it means the elimination of unemployment in these areas, is an advantage compared with the impoverishment of our basic industries in the North. Surely the policy of the Government should be consistently and persistently directed to putting our basic industries of the North on their economic legs.
It is true that that involves constructive proposals and legislation, but it is quite within the compass of the Government to deal with a matter of that kind in a constructive fashion if they so desire. It is not sufficient to say, because there has been such a transfer of industry, and the personnel of industry, from the north to the south, that is of any value to the country as a whole. For example, there might be a change in the course of the next few years in respect of the public's desire to hear music from some kind of machine. At present they are content with gramophones. Television and its development, may drive the gramophone industry out of existence, or reduce it to a very small quantity. What is to happen there? We shall have the problem of unemployment in the south, to which very many persons have been transferred, as a result of that change. Therefore, I suggest that the Government should not concentrate their attention on the transfer of the population from the north to the south, and should not take a delight in the expansion of certain luxury industries, but should concentrate their attention on the development of our basic industries. These proposals of the Government as far as emigration is concerned are a tacit confession that this country is played out. We cannot shoulder our burdens, therefore the Dominions have to accept some of them. That is a confession of impotence and despair. I do not share that view. I do not believe the country is played out. I believe capitalism is played out. I believe it cannot function in the interests of investors, as we see in the drastic reorganisation of Armstrong, Whitworth and Company. What occurred there has occurred in many other cases, It is idle, therefore, to pretend that you have to transfer your burden to some other nation, or even to the Dominions. We can find a remedy if we so desire, though I am not at the moment allowed to dwell upon it.
There is one other aspect of the matter to which I would like to draw attention. The hon. Gentleman's views are shared by many others in this assembly. Indeed there are Members on this side who share them, or so it has appeared to me, from statements that have occasionally been made. The hon. Gentleman's view is that there is no hope for the unemployed miner. It is felt, as I understand the argument, that the diminution in the production and consumption of coal and the unemployment in the mining industry is static and that there is no likelihood of any improvement in the situation. I do not share that view at all. It is based on the ill-founded assumption that for ever and ever we are going on consuming coal in its present raw state. Experi- ments are now proceeding, some of which have reached a commercial stage, which will enable coal to be used in a much more effective, efficient and scientific fashion in the near future than it is used to-day. That is going to lead to an expansion of industry in the north. Suppose, for example, that some great discovery is made by those associated with low temperature carbonisation, or distillation of oil from coal, or any of those processes which are the subject of consideration, discussion and controversy in the coal and cognate industries. Surely, it is not suggested that we are going to bring these industries to the south, and establish them here. The proper place in which to establish those new industries is contiguous to our mineral resources. We must establish those processes, whether on a large or a, small scale, whether as co-ordinated or as isolated units, as near the coal resources of the country as is convenient.
That means that an entirely new coal industry, not the coal industry as we know it, not merely a coal-producing industry, but a coal-treating industry, an oil industry, a gas industry, a chemical industry, all based on coal production and coal consumption will he established in the northern part of the country, and as a result a great deal of employment will be found for many of those who, at the present time, are unfortunately situated. I am not suggesting that that can be done rapidly, but I do suggest that our whole attention should be directed to bringing about such a desirable state of affairs, instead of which the Government are dilly-dallying with this problem and find themselves no nearer a solution or a partial solution than when they came into office. This is a very big subject and ought to be dwelt upon to a very much greater extent than it is, if we are anxious to find a real solution of the problem. I am about to make an observation which expresses a personal opinion and in respect of which I cannot speak for hon. and right hon. Members on this side. I do not believe that, as things are, we can solve the unemployment problem in the sense of absorbing all the unemployed into productive labour. The problem is too vast, and its ramifications are not merely national hut international. At the best, all that we can hope to do is to set going some of the older industries and to revive them, to create some new industries, and, in addition, to provide relief on lines of ameliorative proposals, some of which have been referred to in the House on innumerable occasions, for those who are suffering from the ill-effects of unemployment.
The problem of unemployment is not so much a problem of finding work for the unemployed in existing circumstances as it is a problem of finding some means of relieving the sufferings of the unemployed. Work can be found in many directions, but surely our first duty and the primary purpose of the Government, this or any other Government, should be to mitigate the hard details of unemployment by providing for those who are unfortunately situated. I have expressed what is a personal view, but I have no doubt that it is shared by others. There are many who think that unemployment can be solved very rapidly, but in my view that is a long way ahead. Meanwhile, something should be done to find work for the unemployed.
There are two points with which I should like to deal. The first is the question of training. I was, at one time, a member of the Glasgow Corporation and was associated with the distressed committee under the old Unemployed Workmen's Act. The Minister of Labour is fully conversant with all the details of the legislation associated with the committees for unemployed workmen. I was immensely impressed by the fact that in the labour colonies that were established by the Glasgow Corporation and other important corporations, men who were regarded as unemployable, social outcasts, were put upon their feet, not by training—it was not called training at that time—but by giving them healthful work in healthy surroundings. They were put upon the land to do reclamation work and farm work on a large scale, and after six months of that kind of work they were entirely different men. In the beginning, they were men who were hardly fit to take any employment, but at the end of the process they were able to enter into industrial life. I should like to see the right hon. Gentleman extending the training schemes so that the so-called unemployables can be reclaimed.
I had a very unfortunate experience some weeks ago when I was asked to meet a deputation of unemployed men in my constituency. I was appalled by the appearance of the men. Seventy-five per cent. of them would not have been taken on by any responsible foreman or manager of any factory or works. They did not look as if they could do a job, and I should not have been at all surprised to find that they could not undertake any proper employment. The thing to do is to put them on their feet, to give them proper training, to give them a chance to recuperate. Send them to a convalescent institution of an industrial character, so that they can enter the industrial life of this country on the same footing as the ordinary healthy labourer or artisan.
My second point refers to my constituency, and it comes within the Estimate. The right hon. Gentleman has seen fit to exclude Broxburn, which is the shale oil area, from the arrangement for industrial transference. I do not believe that industrial transference as an expedient deserves very much consideration, but if it is to be applied in one place, why not apply it in another? The right hon. Gentleman said, some time ago, in reply to a question which I put, that Broxburn was not a distressed area because the volume of unemployment was not considerable. I have seen the figures and I find that about 800 men are unemployed in a very small area and that, taking the shale oil area as a whole, the amount of employment has diminished over the past four years by 50 per cent. This is a very impoverished industry and it is a very depressed area, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to include the area in the category for the purpose of industrial transference.
Finally, however desirable emigration may be, it cannot solve the problem However desirable industrial transference may be, it cannot solve the problem, and it is a mistake to suppose that the normal flow of industry from the north to the south is of great advantage. The duty of the Government, by such means as are in their power—we cannot discuss that now—should concentrate on the development and expansion of our primary national industries. Do not trouble so much about the luxury industries which provide pro- fits for capitalist concerns and investors, which are the subject of acute controversy on the Stock Exchanges and in such circles. It is our duty to put the coal industry on its feet, to put the steel and iron industry, the cotton industry, the shipbuilding and engineering industry upon their feet. If the Government mean business, they should get down to the problem in a constructive fashion, and by that means provide employment for a large number of those who are unemployed at the present time.
The hon. Member who has just spoken seemed to infer that emigration was an effort on the part of this Government to transfer the unemployment problem from this country to our Dominions. That is not only a very inaccurate thing to say but a very dangerous thing, because such words are often copied into the Dominion newspapers. Although it is quite impossible for us to send anyone to Canada, by assisted emigration, unless the Canadian Government agree, such a statement as that of the hon. Member does harm to the Britisher who goes to that country in good faith to work. People out there may say when a man arrives: "He has been transferred, because he is not wanted at home." That is not true. Canada has a perfectly autonomous Government, and we can no more send people to Canada against the wish of Canada than we can do anything else in Canada against the wishes of Canada. It is most dangerous for hon. Members to make such statements as the one to which I have referred.
A good deal has been said about the harvesting scheme. The hon. Member who moved the reduction of the Vote spoke very well on that subject, to a certain extent. I was in agreement with a good many things that he said. The scheme was put through in a hurry, but I do not think that was the fault of anybody. The selection was necessarily hurriedly done, and many people who went were physically unfit. Probably the most harm was done by a good many people who were mentally unfit, and who went there trying to crab the whole scheme and to make it a failure. There was one particular person, who went from Glasgow, who started preaching whenever he could against the scheme. He said that the scheme was no good, that it was a conspiracy between the British Government and the Canadian Government to send them out to Canada and to get rid of them from home, and that it was the capitalist trying to "down" the working man. When the men arrived in Winnipeg after having such statements dinned into their ears on the voyage it was not surprising that even some of the perfectly good fellows were affected. Another unfortunate thing happened. The hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall), who has spoken, went out on the delegation to Canada. I wish some of his colleagues had been as temperate as he was. They met some of the men who protested at their treatment and, like a camel at an oasis in the desert, they rushed at it, instead of making proper inquiries. They accepted the grievance for all it was worth. I will do them the credit of saying that they withdrew their allegations later, but the allegations certainly did harm to the man who was working out there and trying to make good. It hurt him, and it did not help the other fellow. People ought to be very careful what they say on these matters. They should listen to bath sides before they make statements and allegations which are broadcast throughout the Empire.
I have had a good deal of experience in Western Canada, and I say that the harvesting scheme was a good one. I wish it could have had a little more time to be worked out properly, and I wish people who had more knowledge of the conditions in Western Canada had had the opportunity of testing certain offers and suggestions that were held out to the men. One poster was issued which stated that harvest work would be guaranteed at £3 to £5 a week. Everyone who knows anything about harvesting knows that the wages are for the day and not for the week. The men could not get harvesting wages until the harvest started. The harvest was not as good as was expected, because there has been early frosts and the corn had not ripened as quickly as was hoped. The men were offered wages at current rates until the harvest began. The men were looked after. I know, in particular, something about the men who were handled by the Canadian Pacific Railway. All the agents at the stations throughout the West were asked to can- vass the farmers and to find out who wanted men, and what the current rates of wages were in the district. In the great majority of cases the farmers came to the stations, met the men and took them to their farms. A very great majority of the men were treated well by their employers. Of course, just as there were some bad hats amongst the harvesters there were some bad hats amongst the employers, but when men who were badly treated reported that they were not getting a fair deal, everything was done to find them a good job with a farmer who would look after them. Twenty-five per cent. of them stuck it and have made good, and of the remainder the majority were not disappointed with the scheme.
A large proportion of the men have expressed their willingness to go back this year, which is more than creditable to the scheme as a whole. Even the remarks that were made in Winnipeg by some rather tactless people, have done some good. They drew the attention of the people in Canada to the necessity if getting a big proportion of British migrants into Canada. It was brought home to them that a very large proportion of the migration within their borders was of foreigners. After the 20 years that I have known Canada, I noticed last year a tremendous growth of feeling in favour of giving jobs to the British. It is not a question of transferring the unemployed in this country and their becoming the employed in Canada, but rather that the Canadians say: "Where we can see that a man is a Britisher, let us give him a job."
Then as to migration generally. The selection must be careful and the man who is going out should he trained. The only criticism of the scheme that I have heard is that it is not big enough and will not solve the unemployment problem of this country. If we crab every proposal because it is not big enough to solve the whole problem, we shall never get any further. This scheme is a big step towards helping a certain number of people. It does not end there. The man who goes out from this country must be very carefully selected. He must be willing to sacrifice a certain amount of security for greater oportunity. It is not certain that he is going to succeed. There is no Poor Law in Canada. But if a man goes out with a great heart and is willing to work hard, there is an opportunity which he will not have in this country, though he may have two years of very hard times. He should understand that before he leaves this country.
As to the story of the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment, of a man who had a bad time owing to the failure of the crops and is in great poverty now, let me say that I have seen a lot of fellows like that. I would add that, although that man has had a bad time, he has the guts to "stick to it" and he will make good eventually. People like that always do make good. The man with a, grievance, the shirker, gets no help at all, but the man who will put his hack into it will have everyone rallying to his help in time to come. There is plenty of opportunity of getting land in Canada. Regarding the "assisted" emigrant who goes to Canada, there is one other thing that I wish to rub in. If he is "assisted." do not let anyone think that that relieves him of the responsibility of fighting his own battle. If he adopts that attitude he is not going to be a success. If he has been a trade union man of the kind who has always looked to his trade union leader to tell him what he should do—
I have seen one or two of them. The man who is always looking to his shop master to tell him what to do, is not going to make a success. In Canada a man must he prepared to stand on his own feet entirely. When a man of that kind goes out, after having been carefully selected and trained, if he has his heart in the right place and is willing to work, he will get all the backing and help that is possible. I have been through it myself and I know. But someone may say, "There is no opportunity. Small wages in the winter and not very big wages for a short time in the summer." Let me say that there is no place in the prairie Provinces where they sell a farm for cash down. Everyone knows that it is necessary to farm smaller units than has been the ease in the past in order to get full benefit from the land. If a man works for another on a farm and he makes good, in 18 months or two years, if the employer sees that he really puts his back into his job and understands it, someone will come along and offer to give that man a bit of land on crop payment. You give him a farm; he goes in for nothing at all, and he pays half the profits he gets in payment for the farm. If a man has any luck he ought to get out of debt in four or five years and own his farm outright; but if he has bad luck the period may be 10 or 15 years. If he does not stick to the bargain and ploughs up the land or "jumps," it grows into weeds and the farm will never be got right again. The terms offered must be fair or a man will not "stick."
Canada is willing to absorb Britishers, out-of-work people or employed, as long as they are going to put their backs into their work. I ask hon. Members not to forget that every man who goes out and takes up a farm of his own and develops it, no matter whether he is British or a foreigner, creates a job for at least two good men in secondary industries in the town. So that the business does not end with the number of men that we take from this country and put on the land. The man in the secondary industry finds his own way out there, and when he migrates from this country, makes a home for someone else to fit into. Do not let hon. Members opposite crab this scheme merely because they think it is not doing enough. It is opening an opportunity for the young man with a big heart to make good. The people of Canada want the British stock in their country because they value British customs and traditions and the administration of British law, and they know that, they can be assured of these things only if they get a proper influx of Britishers into their country.
I agree with the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken in saying that we cannot criticise this scheme because it does not at one step solve the whole of the unemployment problem. It cannot be expected to do so. But one must test the efficacy of the scheme on the basis of the Estimate presented. I rose more particularly to ask the Minister of Labour a few questions with regard to the Estimate. We are asked to vote an additional sum of £366,000, and the Estimate before us shows that in respect of salaries and wages and allowances we are asked for £500,000; in respect of loans for transference, £172,000; and in respect of training young unemployed men, £300,000. On these Estimates the position is than, out of every pound that the Committee votes, 15s. 10d. is paid in respect of salaries and wages, 1s. 6d. only goes in respect of loans and grants for the transfer of workpeople, and 2s. 8d. goes for training young unemployed people. Therefore the great bulk of every pound voted is in respect of salaries and wages. Of the additional amount asked for, 10s. 3d. of every pound goes in respect of wages and salaries, 2s. 6d. in respect of loans for transference, and 7s. 3d. in respect of training. It may be said that the first item, salaries and wages, includes the whole of the salaries and wages of the Ministry of Labour and not merely that part which is allocated for the purpose of the transference scheme. That may be so, and I ask the Minister what the proportionate figures are. On the surface it would appear that of the total amount voted the proportion voted to transference and training is practically negligible.
I saw the right hon. Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw) diligently taking notes, and I hoped that he was taking them for the purpose of rebuking the hon. Gentleman who spoke from the benches behind him. That function has, however, been performed, and admirably performed, by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Dartford (Lieut.- Colonel McDonnell). It would he sheer impertinence for one who has had only a passing glimpse of Canada, to say that he desires to substantiate every word spoken by the hon. and gallant Member for Dartford, whose experience extends over a large number of years. But it did happen that I went out last summer on the same boat as some of the harvesters, and I returned with a considerable number of them. Every word that has been said by my hon. and gallant Friend I can most amply confirm. I resent very strongly indeed, and I think that the right hon. Member for Preston would resent, the suggestion that the harvester experiment was in itself a failure. I believe it to have been a very striking success. I admit that the scheme was over-hastily prepared, but it is necessary to improvise schemes for emergencies which arise. The emergency in this case was that there was a demand for labour on the fields of Canada, and it was necessary to improvise a scheme to meet that sudden emergency. It was not primarily devised to employ our own unemployed. Although there may have been a good deal to criticise in the details of the scheme, I think the Ministry of Labour are to be warmly congratulated on the measure of success which attended the experiment—a measure which I believe will be immensely increased when that experiment is repeated in the coming summer.
I should not, however, have risen but for the remarks of the former Secretary for Mines, the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Shinwell). On one point, indeed, I unexpectedly agreed with him. He said that it was our primary business to concentrate on the basic industries, and that we, were only diverting attention from that primary business by this transference scheme. Unless I entirely misunderstand the main plans of the Government, that is precisely what they are proposing to do. We have been discussing for months a great scheme of de-rating, the whole purpose of which is to put, on their feet again those great basic industries. But the point in the hon. Member's speech to which I want once more to direct attention is this: He said that the whole purpose of the scheme of the Industrial Transference Board was to transfer the burden of unemployment from our own shoulders to those of the Dominions.
I am sure the hon. Member does not desire to misrepresent me. I said that I understood the main point of the Government's policy to be migration abroad. That I condemned and I also condemned industrial transference because I said I did not believe it could solve unemployment.
I think the hon. Member will not deny that he used the words that the main purpose, or at all events one of the large purposes, of the migration scheme was to transfer the burden of unemployment from our own shoulders to those of the Dominions. It was that expression which, I had hoped, would elicit from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Preston rebuke and correction because I heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Preston make a number of very eloquent speeches last summer in Canada, and I do not think he made a single speech there without emphasising the point that it was no part of our migration policy to transfer the burden of unemployment to the shoulders of the Dominions. The right hon. Gentleman again and again made that point, as did every member of the British delegation who spoke in Canada. Yet here we have an hon. Member who has occupied a responsible position in the Socialist Government and whose words may, on that account—I do not say not on other accounts—be largely quoted in the Dominions rising in his place in this Committee and making the statement that one of the purposes of the Government is to transfer the burden of unemployment to the Dominions. That is a mischievous statement. I do riot say that the intention is mischievous, but, if the statement were for a moment accepted in the Dominions, its effect would he mischievous to the last degree. The very last thing that we in this country desire to do is to plant unemployables on our Dominions. [An HON. MEMBER: "They will not have them."] In the first place the Dominions will not have them, but it is no part of our policy to ask the Dominions to have them and that ought to be made abundanty clear by every responsible speaker in this Committee.
I cordially support the main policy embodied in the Vote. As far as I have been able to follow it, I think the work of transference has been very carefully supervised. But, once again, I agree unexpectedly with the hon. Member for Linlithgow in thinking that it would be a mistake to concentrate too largely on the transference of labour from the great industrial districts to other districts. We ought not to lose sight of the even more important point of establishing new industries in the old industrial districts. I think the hon. Member for Linlithgow has done a service in calling attention to that aspect of the matter. As to the main point of his speech, however—the suggestion that we are seeking to transfer the solution of our social problems to the Dominions—I consider that his words are likely to have a very unfortunate effect in the Dominions if they are accepted as expressing the opinion of the House of Commons Of even the opinion of the Labour party. We are not attempting to do anything of the kind. For that reason, I. hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Preston—and no one is in a better position to do it than he—will rise in his place to rebuke the hon. Member for that statement, and to repudiate any such idea.
What hon. Members opposite either cannot or will not understand is that there is no desire on the part of Members on this side of the Committee to crab any scheme for transferring unemployed to Canada, or anywhere else, provided it is for the good of the unemployed. What gives us pause is the fact that on our very doorsteps there is abundant work waiting to be done and it fills some of us with suspicion to find that hon. Gentlemen who always wax eloquent about sending the unemployed thousands of miles away—the further the better—do not appear able or willing to do anything for them in our own country. The hon. Member for York (Sir J. Marriott) has sharply rebuked the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Shinwell) for a statement which he thinks may be mischievous, in regard to transferring the unemployment problem from this country to the Dominions. I wish to raise, a question which is causing great anxiety among ordinary people—not learned people, but ordinary men in the street. It is as to whether the policy of the Government, in transferring men from one necessitous area to another, is not merely shifting the burden and spreading the disease instead of doing any good.
When the Prime Minister issued his letter a few months ago, the opinion was held by many that it would not do a great deal of good, but I think the right hon. Gentleman the Minister will agree that a good deal of the transference now taking place is, directly, the result of the Prime Minister's appeal to employers. Unfortunately, certain unscrupulous employers are, I understand, taking advantage of the Prime Minister's scheme and discharging their own people in order to employ miners from the distressed areas at lower wages. The hon. and gallant Member for Dartford (Lieut.- Colonel McDonnell), when referring to the Canadian scheme of last autumn, mentioned that men went out there at guaranteed wages. I wish to ask the Minister whether miners who leave Northumberland, Durham, or South Wales to take jobs, say in the Metropolis, do so on a guarantee of wages. Is it known what mages they are going to receive? As I say, over a considerable part of North London we are now hearing of employers discharging men and engaging miners to do the jobs for less.
I am about to go into details. The wages that are being paid in North London, to miners from the industrial districts, are, as far as I can ascertain, from 9½d. to 1s. per hour. [HON. MEMBERS: "What kind of work?"] It is unskilled work. We do not want miners in North London to work at their trade. They come in to do labouring and unskilled work of all kinds. They are getting 9½d. to 1s. per hour, which, for a 48-hour week, means from £1 18s. to £2 8s. per week, less insurance. Many of them are married men. When they have paid for insurance and lodgings, taking into account the cost of living in London, they have not much left for their wives and families in the coalfields. These men are doing work in factories for which higher wages than the wages they are now receiving have been paid previously. I do not say that it is so in all cases. Indeed I will say than, the majority of employers—
I have no authority to, and I do not wish to use the names of firms, publicly, but, if the right hon. Gentleman wishes, I shall be pleased to give him the names of firms privately. I wish to know from the right hon. Gentleman what instructions have been issued to Employment Exchanges in this matter. When the manager of a local Exchange is instructed to find places for miners from necessitcus areas, is he also instructed to see that they receive the wages ordinarily obtaining in the places where jobs are available; or is the machinery of the Employment Exchanges being used to enable employers to take on men at a lower rate than that hitherto payable? The next point which I would put to the Minister is: Has each Employment Exchange to find places for a certain quota of these men each week, and, if so, is any regard paid to the number of people already out of work in that particular locality?
I wish to give a typical example of how the scheme is working. Time after time we have heard speeches by members of the Government, and in particular by the President of the Board of Trade, stating that if it were not for the depression in the basic trades of coal, cotton, agriculture and iron and steel, the country would be in a fairly prosperous condition. In the part of Greater London which I represent, we have none of these basic industries, but, in spite of repeated protests to the right hon. Gentleman by the local authorities, miners are being brought into these districts of North London week by week. I mention that to show the result of the scheme. One must, leave it to the Members of the Committee and the public to judge of what good industrial transference is doing in North London. While miners have been coming in steadily for a good ninny weeks, the local unemployed are still signing on, but there are no jobs for them. In the Tottenham Exchange-which covers the districts of Tottenham and Edmonton—for the week ended 7th January, 3,159 men signed on. The figures do not include women. During January, as I say, mixers have been coming in steadily under this scheme, and what is the result? For the week ended 4th February the number of men signing on has gone up to 3,262—an increase of 143 at one Exchange in the month. It cannot be argued that that result is due to depression in coal, cotton, iron and steel or agriculture.
We have a great many luxury trades and are supposed to be prosperous, yet we have this increase in unemployment. The board of guardians in that district is the Edmonton Board of Guardians, which has a Conservative majority and which, in accordance with a resolution which they have applied for six or seven years, grants no relief to able-bodied single men. Taking the figures of their relief for the first five weeks of this year, one finds that in the first week they granted £935 in relief to able-bodied married men and £978, £1,000, £1,014 and £1,059, respectively, for the other weeks. That shows a steady increase, amounting in five weeks to £124 a week. To bring miners into this district, which is in itself a distressed area, is not a remedy, but is merely scattering the disease. We are sorry for the miners, and we did our best for them by gifts of money and by sending boots and clothes at a time when Members of the party opposite were sneering and circulating lies about them. Only a few months ago, the Press of this country said that there was no real distress among the miners, and the Prime Minister himself wrote that to America. We are continuing to help them. Even to-day, faced with this problem of the miners being brought into an area like Tottenham and Edmonton where thousands are out of work, the man in the street does not know what to make of it. He has no bitterness against the miners, who are being used as a lever by unscrupulous employers to take his job at low wages. He has, however, bitterness against the Government who are doing this, and that bitterness will find expression at the first opportunity.
The course of to-day's Debate is suggestive of the truth of an idea that has often occurred to one, and that is that it is a pity that the great question of imperial migration should ever be looked upon simply in the light of the unemployment problem. How much better it would be if we could manage to look upon those two questions as each standing solely upon its own merits. There is, of course, very great benefit to be obtained to our unemployment position from a wide policy of migration, but some of us would think that that is not the chief benefit to be gained from it. The chief benefit to be gained from the promotion of migration among our younger folk is that of extending to our fellow countrymen a wide field of glorious opportunity in the Dominions overseas. It is this aspect of it that seems to be the wiser one to put forward when we approach the Dominions on the subject, and not merely out of policy, but because it is that which we think most important. It is the most important benefit that we as a nation derive from migration, and it is that which they will most readily apprehend. It is obviously to be deprecated that we should look upon the possibility of migration simply as a means of relief for our unemployment. It must necessarily throw the Dominions who are to receive the migrants into an attitude of suspicion.
A certain point of view has emerged in the course of this afternoon's Debate from the speeches of the hon. Members opposite, and it seems to me to be more than worth while to try and explain the opposite point of view. In explaining our relative points of view, we need not despair of arriving at some policy on this matter common to all parties in the State. There are misunderstandings to be cleared away, and there are differences to be settled. It is one of the great issues of national policy on which ultimate agreement might not be unobtainable. To make a humble personal contribution, I shall try and explain why some of us so sharply differ from the view put forward by the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Shinwell). He appears to us to make one great misjudgment as to the facts of the case, and that is to suppose that there is any natural opposition of interest between the Dominions and the Mother country in connection with the reception by the Dominions of a- part or our surplus population. Undoubtedly, in Australia, in the Union of South Africa, and in Canada, there are small areas of employment which those Dominions feel that they must protect against undue competition. We may have our own opinions as to whether they are wise or not in exercising that protection. Of course, all that we have to say about this question is that it is entirely for them to decide what is best for themselves.
Apart from those issues, in all those three great Dominions the statesmen of the Dominions themselves have no doubt that there are wide areas of employment in which the great need of the Dominions is more man power, and particularly more man power of the race to which the Dominions owe their start forward and their rise to civilisation. It is their policy to obtain well selected migrants from this country. We have heard the position described by one of the hon. Members for Essex, with regard to the Dominion of Canada. What he has said about Canada is equally true of Australia and most of all true of the Union of South Africa. I believe it to be one of the tragedies of our home country of the United Kingdom at the present time that there is there in the Union this great opening, this great demand for properly qualified settlers, and that that demand is being met, not from this country where it should be according to our Imperial traditions, but from other countries of the world who are rushing in and seizing the opportunities which we are missing. The first point is then that there is no natural opposition between the interests of the Union and the interests of the home country. The second point is the measures to be taken if our views are to be brought closely together. The observations made in some of the speeches opposite seemed to me to show a certain failure to realise what has been the policy of our Government in the last 10 years and what must be the policy of every British Government in this matter of Imperial migration, whether it be a, Government drawn from these benches, from the benches opposite, or from the benches below the gangway.
The essential of that policy is that no policy of migration can be carried out in future except by free, deliberate, and absolutely mutual agreement between the Mother Country and the Dominions. That is how is actually proceeds, and without that nothing can be done. There can be no question of opposition of interests. We are beginning to understand the principle which must underlie such agreements for the shifting of surplus population from one part of the Empire to another. They are largely conditioned by this fact, that in the great, opulent insurgent youth of the Empire, when those great territories were absolutely unoccupied by any civilised community, it was simply necessary for white men to go out without capital, and they could make a living. Now that there are civilised communities established there the procedure must be more deliberate. Migrants cannot be accepted unless they have the training to enable them to make a living and the small or great amount of capital necessary to enable them to make a start. Now, arrangements have to be made, not between civilisation and the wild, but between two civilised states and to fit a migrant into a civilised state is a very much more complicated operation than to fit him into a native wild. These are the principles which are being actually applied and which are contributing, as a by-product, a very great though certainly not a direct relief, to our unemployment question. I am confident that more and more it will be found that those who can be offered to and accepted by the Dominions will not be those who have already become unemployed, but the youth who can be trained to start in a new career and have the energy and vitality for that start.
Lastly, the proposition which seems to us to be the most dangerous and most misrepresenting the true policy, or what should be the true policy, for both the Dominions and the borne country in the future is the proposition which one seems to perceive in some of the speeches opposite to-day, that in some countries a policy of migration is a confession of failure on the part of the country which is promoting migration, a confession of the failure of the civilisation of that country and of its government to organise that country properly in the interests of its inhabitants. Nothing could be further from the truth than such 'a proposition. If one appeals to history, surely it has always been at the most vigorous period of a nation, when it was most forward looking, when its energies were at their highest, that that nation has had most to show in the way of the development of overseas territory. So it is at the present time. The efforts may have been mistaken, but the drive towards migration was a sign of superfluous energy on the part: of the migrating nation. If there be any sign at the present time of languor, it is shown, not by the desire of the Government to promote migration, but by whatever signs one sees on the part of the young people of the country to fail to realise the great and glorious opportunities it affords.
The one part of the Supplementary Estimate which we are discussing to-day is the provision of £172,000 for loans and grants for the transference of workpeople, and I do not suppose there is any Member of the House, whatever may be said by individual Members, who is opposed to a policy of transference of people to places where there is the opportunity for employment which is going to guarantee a livelihood. There is always a policy of transference in operation. Every week men are leaving their employment in one part and going to work in some other part of the country, and I suppose that if any one of us examined the list of names of the boys with whom he went to school, and looked for those individuals to-day, he would have a difficulty in finding them near at hand. He would find, perhaps, that most of them have migrated from the place of their birth to somewhere else, either near or distant. In the mining districts a transference is always going on, to a degree, and I have not the least doubt that had we plenty of houses in the country, there would be more migration than there is. I know large numbers of men who to-day are travelling 10, 20 and 30 miles a day to their employment because there is no housing accommodation there to which they could transfer themselves and their families.
We are now considering the outcome of the Report of the Industrial Transference Board, which was presented in July last, and there was no doubt in the minds of those who were upon that Board, and especially of the very able Secretary who drafted this Report, as to the gravity of the situation. At that moment there were 1,100,000 persons registered as unemployed in this country, and there were 250,000 miners unemployed, and there is not a word in the Report, from the beginning, to the end, which in any way suggests a job for an individual man. They make the suggestion, regarding the mining industry, that it needs drastic reorganisation, with which employment could be found for many thousands who are unemployed in that industry. If hon. Members will look carefully at what is said by the Board in their Report, they will see that they have not very much hope of what can come out of this business. They say, at the end of paragraph 36:
Our considered opinion is that from now onwards the first aim of policy should be the dispersal of the heavy concentrations of unemployment by the active encouragement of movement from the depressed areas to other areas, both in this country and overseas. This, it seems to us, will provide the only natural and permanent solution of the present unemployment problem in the areas now dependent on the heavy industries.
In paragraph 40, they say:
A transference policy must rest upon three factors: (a) The personal will to move
of a man who, looking out soberly at what is before him in his own area, is prepared to take some risks.
Men are prepared to take same risks at all times, but a man ought to know that if he is to take the risk of transferring from the area in which he lives to some other area, there is going to he some opportunity of employment provided for him. The policy in this Report seems to be that if we could only decrease the number of unemployed from 50 or 60 per cent. in a given area to, say, 25 per cent., and increase it in some area where there is only 5, 6 or 7 per cent., to 20 or 40 per cent., we would have done something to solve the unemployment problem. That seems to be all that is in the mind of the Government on this question, but it does not solve it in any way whatever; nor is there a paragraph in this Report—if there is. I should like to be shown it—where there is any idea of anybody going to be found employment in any part of the country. There are hundreds and thousands more unemployed to-day than there were in July last, and the only transference that has taken place is of somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 men. I think the Minister said between 3,000 and 4,000 men.
What is even the figure of 13,000 going to do in helping on the business in this country of finding work for the unemployed? There is really something more to be done and some other policy to be put forward than the wasteful effort of discussing this question from day to day in this House on the policy of transference, when there are no jobs to offer to the men who are unemployed. I, personally, have a view that there will have to be something done in regard to the reorganisation of industry, and all industries, in the light of the improvements of machinery and various other things that have come about during the lifetime of even those who are present at the moment. I cannot, therefore, see anything in the Report or in the policy of transference, as outlined either by the Board or by the Government, that is going to provide any work whatever.
A good deal has been said with regard to migration overseas, and I am one of those who are very interested in the subject, and are taking a very active interest in it. I had perhaps as big a hand as any man in the policy that was adopted with regard to the movement of harvesters to Canada, and I was urging the necessity for a scheme of that sort, and anxious to give an opportunity to those who desired to find work. I know, and I have said many times in this House, that there is no cure for unemployment except work, and if work could be provided, I was prepared to take the step of encouraging that scheme. A telegram was received from the Canadian Government, after we had heard there was to be a heavy harvest in Canada, that they were prepared to find work for 10,000 men, but it was laid down that they must be men used to heavy, hard work and prepared to go to that hard work.
The scheme was put into operation, and its failure, if it was a failure—and I am not going to agree that it was—was due to the speed with which the work had to be done. We had no definite knowledge before the 4th August that these men could be selected. Had we known six weeks before, those things that the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall) referred to to-day might have been avoided. He said that he saw in Canada large numbers of men who were unfitted for hard work. If men had been selected in that way, it was the fault, not of those concerned with trying to find them employment, hut of those representing Canada in this country who had made the selection. There are 2,000 men who went out for that harvesting who have settled in Canada, and if there were many misfits, and many employers who were not good employers, as I believe there would be in Canada, just as there is in this country, that is a reason which accounts for many of the defects of the scheme. I feel that if we can have more time to arrange such a scheme, a larger opportunity, those misfits might be avoided, and we might be able to do something to have a better understanding with the Canadian Government in regard to those who are going than we can arrive at in 24 hours when it has to be done so rapidly.
I would go further, and say that I think something more than a harvesting scheme might be considered. I think a scheme of seasonal employment might be considered, wherein men might go out if there was work to do and employment could be found. I am not anxious to send men to a country where there is much unemployment already; but where there is work to be found, and there are not enough men to do it there, say, in Canada, and seasonal employment can be offered to our men, why do we not send them? It was a wonderful trip for those who took it, though it has cost money. I do not know a better tonic than a trip across the Atlantic and back, and if men can do that and even not work at all, they get a wonderful trip at the expense of the Government. At the same time, I would rather the trip had been far more successful, that good employment could have been found, at good wages, and that men would have been happy and contented in the employment which they obtained in Canada as a result of the scheme.
Migration to-day is not in the happy position that the right hon. Member for Norwich (Sir Hilton Young), who spoke last, imagines. There is no use hiding the fact that there are tens of thousands of people in this country to-day who are willing and anxious to go to the Dominions, who are known as being anxious to go. There is no need for active propaganda to urge our people to go, because they are wanting to go, but unfortunately, conditions are such in Australia to-day that very little movement is taking place or is likely to take place; while in Canada at this moment they are not so happy and our relations are not so good as to encourage large numbers to go there. I wish it were possible, because I am a believer in the Empire Settlement Act and in the idea of making arrangements with the Dominions for the reception and settlement of our people who desire to go, but I am bound to say that very little is being done or is likely to be done in that direction except what is being done by the Ministry of Labour in its training schemes.
Migration overseas, however, is not going to settle our unemployment question. It is no cure, nor has it any relation whatever to a cure, of the unemployment problem in this country. So few can go, so little can be arranged, that anybody is living under a delusion who feels that that will really aid us in settling this business. The Government must get to something more fundamental than that. Whatever we are able to do, in the way of either transference at home or transference overseas, as is known by the Members of the Government, is not likely to bring about that solution which we should like to see. Those of us who love our own country would like to see our men in employment, earning good wages, and we would like to see those who are past employment taken out of employment and their old age revered more than is the case to-day. A solution will have to be on lines of re-organisation, which will have regard to the old and the young, and will provide for the virile, the young and the healthy, and I am one of those who favour a change of that sort.
I rise only for a very few moments in order to associate myself with what has fallen from the hon. Member for Roth-well (Mr. Lunn) on the subject of migration in its relation to the problem of unemployment. I entirely agree with him that we cannot treat migration as in any sense a complete cure for the immediate unemployment problem with which we are faced. Indeed I would go further, and, in answer to what fell from the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Shin-well), say very definitely that it is not the policy of His Majesty's Government to try and devolve the unemployment problem from our shoulders to the shoulders of the Dominions. We do not wish to shirk our burden or our responsibility; least of all, do we wish that those who are faced with the problem of unemployment here should be confronted with the same problem overseas, and create a fresh problem for other Governments of the Empire. No such policy is, in fact, possible. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Norwich (Sir H. Young) pointed out, in these days any policy of migration must be a policy of co-operation between ourselves and the Dominion Government. We believe that a policy of migration steadily and persistently carried out in co-operation with the Dominion Governments will help forward the growth of the Dominions, and the trade and welfare of the whole Empire. It will, incidentally, help forward the labour situation in this country, whether those who go are unemployed or employed.
We do not wish to make unemployment our test of the suitability for migration. The only test which we wish to put forward is the test of fitness to succeed. If a man be likely to succeed overseas, and he wishes to go, our policy must be to help him. If he be unfitted and unlikely to succeed, our policy should be to discourage him. That, and not unemployment, should be the test of our interest in the matter. It is also the case, other things being equal, that the man in employment may make a better migrant than the man who has lost his job. But there are times when, through circumstances beyond control, there are out of employment large blocks of men who are thoroughly fitted as men to succeed, and some of whom—as, for instance, the miners—are of a type well suited for hard manual work and living in country areas, are more likely to make a success on land overseas than many sections of urban workers. Under these circumstances, We do not wish to deny to that class any opportunity which we can afford, even if it involve a greater measure of public assistance than is given to other classes, to enable them to make good.
It was from that point of view that the harvester experiment was initiated. We hoped that a considerable proportion of these men might find permanent new opportunities overseas that they did not get here. We did not expect a very large proportion to do that straight away, but we did expect a considerable proportion; and of the rest we expected that they would at any rate be carried over for a short period, during which they would have been doing little here but wasting out their spirits in idleness, and that they would have been given some opportunity of work and of earning some money. From that point of view, we do not regard the experiment as a failure. It is true that in some cases men met farmers who were not altogether considerate or reasonable in their treatment. It is also true that there were farmers who complained that the men who came to them were not only unfit to work, but unwilling. Let us make a deduction for that. Let us say that there were 500 failures from one reason or another. There were 2,000 who found regular employment throughout the winter in Canada, and many of them, I hope, will become prosperous citizens of that great Dominion. I have heard of not a few instances already of men who went out as harvesters, and are already earning substantial sums. Another 2,000 or more came home paying the whole of their fires, while others paid a small proportion. A great many more could have stayed, but they chose for one reason or another to come back. Possibly, the opportunity of a cheap or free passage back may have influenced a good many in that direction.
The information which we had from the railway companies, that there were certainly a great many more openings available than were actually made use of. Be that as it may, the fact remains that, if the men remained at home, most of them would have been without employment, losing much of manhood and hope in the process. Those who went out did work for a good number of weeks; no one has ever complained that they were not abundantly fed while they did their work, and they came back better and stronger men than they went out. Therefore, I entirely agree that there is no reason, because of some incidental difficulties in connection with the scheme, which had to be improvised in an emergency, to regard the scheme as a failure, or not to consider whether we cannot develop it under improved conditions and for longer periods in future years. That is really all that I wish to say in order to associate myself with the hon. Member in his temperate and well-balanced appreciation of the measure of success or failure of the harvester scheme, and also to associate myself with him in his general view of migration as something to help the whole growth and strength of the nation, not as a confession of failure, but as part of the life of a virile, expanding nation; not in any sense as a device for devolving from ourselves our primary responsibility for our unemployment, bit as a measure in which we can, in co-operation with the Dominions, give some assistance in a great problem which cannot be solved by any one solution, but has to be approached along every line that can offer some hope of help.
I listened with great interest to the statement of the Colonial Secretary. I entirely agree with him as to the contribution which properly organised migration can make to the well-being, not only of Great Britain, but of the Dominions. If I were a young person of either sex with no ties in this country, I am certain that the opportunity for my advancement in life would be far greater, for instance, in the Dominion of Canada, than in this country. The criticism which I have to offer of the harvester scheme is not made with a view to crabbing migration, but rather with the hope that we shall in future avoid unwise experiments of the kind in which the Government indulged last year. I consider that the scheme of the Government was a failure, and that the amount of public money expended for the return that was obtained from the scheme amounts to a positive scandal. Some figures have been given to-day showing what happened to those who went out under the scheme. I would like to ask the Colonial Secretary why there is such a discrepancy in the figures which he gave me in answer to a question to-day, as compared with those which he gave on the 19th January. According to the figures which were given to-day, out of 8,449 men who went out under the scheme, up to the 19th January 6,144 had returned. That number is considerably less than the figure he gave a short time ago, although it is known that a number of men have been dribbling home since that date. According to to-day's figures, 4,311, or more than a half the total number of men who went to Canada under the scheme, had to be given a loan or grant before they could pay their passage back. That does not look as though the scheme had been very successful.
Anybody who happened to be in Canada when these harvesters were pouring into Winnipeg, and for a month or six weeks later, when they were cooling back, would have realised the almost complete absence of proper organisation on the other side to deal with them. I am told by Members of the Canadian Parliament that the responsible authorities in Canada, that is to say, the representatives of the Provincial Governments of Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, with the Federal authorities and representatives of the two railway companies and the farmers, had in a conference at Winnipeg early in July definitely come to the conclusion that no importations of labour from Great Britain were necessary to deal with the Canadian harvest. It is a fact that the importation of these harvesters from Great Britain led to the cancellation of the second series of harvest excursions which normally convey Canadian workers, fishermen and miners from the maritime provinces of eastern Canada to the west for the harvest. These men, of course, rather resent the intrusion of a large number of Britishers, especially when it results in the cancellation of cheap facilities which convey them to the harvest fields.
The Government, and particularly the Colonial Secretary in view of the facts within his knowledge, are open to substantial criticism and blame for holding out to these men conditions of employment which were not justified by the situation in Canada. It is all very well to say that there was no Government pledge, that the Employment Exchanges never guaranteed a definite rate of wages or period of employment, but when the Colonial Secretary makes a statement in this House it may be presumed, that it is one which is honestly intended to guide those who desire to take advantage of this scheme. On the 1st August, the Colonial Secretary said:
The average rate of wages for harvest work in Canada is about £3 to £5 per week, with keep.
In answer to a supplementary question he said that after eight weeks work these men could expect to earn over and above their keep from £24 to £40. In view of what transpired at the conference in Winnipeg which deals with the supply of labour for the harvest it was entirely wrong to hold out the expectation to these men that they were going to earn sums of this amount. I do not blame the Canadian farmer. There are a large number of them who find it difficult to make ends meet. They are relatively poor men, and have to work very hard. They are not too affluent, and in the case of a Canadian worker, who is used to the conditions, I have no doubt they pay him the rate stated by the Colonial Secretary in this House, but to expect them to pay the rate to a man who is not familiar with the work or conditions, or employ such a man in competition with efficient labour, is perfectly ridiculous. It is a great mistake to mislead
people as to the conditions they are likely to have to face in Canada. In the advertisements of shipping companies and railway companies we see great attractions held out of the Golden West, beautiful pictures are drawn of the wonderful prosperity which exists if people will only go to Canada. That is not the kind of appeal that should be made. People should be told plainly and definitely that they must be willing to work hard and for long hours, that all their grit and courage will be needed to face the conditions which exist. It is just as well that people should understand the actual position before they go out.
I am sure there must have been something radically wrong with this harvester scheme, and I am fortified in that belief not merely by what I saw myself and the inquiries I made but by the leader of the Conservative party in the Saskatchewan Provincial Government, who stated last August in Saskatoon that the treatment of British harvesters was a disgrace to Canadian civilisation. I hope that ill-considered and hasty movements of this kind will be avoided in the future. It gives the Canadian people a wrong impression of the worker of this country. Men were sent to Canada who were physically unfit to do a hard day's work in this country let alone in Canada, and I hope we shall be more careful in future. Not only does it give the Canadians an unfortunate impression of our people but these men, who were willing to work, who were bandied about from township to township, short of food and who suffered considerable hardships, when they come back into their own districts at home spread an opinion of Canada which is limited to their own unfortunate personal experience, which is very often an exceedingly unfortunate impression and does a good deal of damage to migration.
I should like the Parliamentary Secretary, if he can, to tell us what proportion of the £172,000, which we are now asked to vote, is to meet the deficit in connection with this harvesters scheme. I understood the Colonial Secretary to say that about £110,000 represented loans and grants given to men to enable them to return to Great Britain and that of that amount only £350 had been repaid up to the present. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will inform us what proportion of this sum is to meet the costs of the Canadian experiment and whether any money is included in this Vote for the purpose of training men at the various centres which the Ministry of Labour has established with a view to land settlement in. Great Britain. It is an extraordinary thing that we should be always considering sending men thousands of miles overseas when at the same time we have hundreds and thousands of acres of arable land going out of cultivation. During the lifetime of this Parliament the number of people employed on the land in Great Britain has decreased by 30,000, and many thousands of acres have gone out of cultivation. If the Ministry of Labour is going to train men at the expense of the State, then every effort ought to be made to establish these men for land culivation, not only in the Colonies but in our own country as well. We have here a great market at our doors if we could extend our agricultural production. We have land which is not being put to the best use, and I hope the Minister of Labour and his colleagues in the Cabinet will explore seriously the possibility of making a real contribution to the solution of unemployment by land settlement at home as well as abroad.
The hon. Member who has just sat down has made an interesting suggestion, not for the first time from the Labour Benches, regarding land settlement in this country, and there would be a large number of people connected with agriculture in this country who, if they were permitted to give the answer, would say that the possibility of which the hon. Member speaks might be realised if there was a change in the fiscal policy of the country, which would make it possible for the farmer to grow produce at a profit. I do not, however, desire to enter upon that question, but it is quite clear that that must be the answer to the hon. Member. With regard to the harvesters' scheme, although there may have been mistakes and difficulties, they were dealt with by the real point made by the hon. Member for Rothwell (Mr. Lunn), who pointed out that in a scheme of this kind, put into operation almost at a moment's notice, it would not be possible to expect complete success or that better results would not have accrued if more time had been given to the choice of the men going out.
I was interested very much in one point which the hon. Member for Rotherham made. He said that it was clear that emigration could not be a remedy for unemployment. The matter has already been dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. At the same time, I should like to ask hon. Members whether they have ever taken the trouble to look at the figures of emigration previous to the War and the figures of emigration since the War. If they have they will notice the change that has taken place. Add together the deficiency of the six or eight years since the War as against the figures for six or eight years previous to the War, and they will find, if they allow for the difference in the way the unemployment figures are now brought together, including women, that, in fact, the deficiency in emigration has a great deal to do with the large number of our people unemployed. It is too sweeping to say that emigration is no cure. It is not a complete cure, as no one thing can be a complete cure, but the falling off in emigration has perhaps more to do with the increased figures of unemployment than many people in this country imagine.
In connection with the transference of men at home I should like to draw the attention of the Minister of Labour to the importance of the problem of housing. The hon. Member for Rothwell said that men in many cases had to walk 10 or 12 miles to their work and that the transference of labour would be considerably facilitated if the housing problem was not so difficult. That is another aspect of the same point which I wish to put before the Minister of Labour. I know of actual instances in which men could be employed, not in substitution of those already employed—I deprecate very much such statements being made unless actual facts can be given; there may be such employers, but I doubt if there are many—but instances where men could have been given new employment, in safeguarded industries in many cases, if housing accommodation could have been arranged. I have already given to the Minister of Health, privately, cases in which I think something could be done, and I suggest to the Minister of Labour that there should be some coordination between the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Health to ensure that where labour could be employed in new industries or in expanding industry every effort will be made to provide suitable housing. I do think that in certain cases—perhaps isolated cases, but in cases of which I know—it would be possible to secure further employment if it were not for the difficulty of finding houses. I know it will be said, of course, that this is a matter for the local authorities, and I appreciate that point, but I suggest that it might be possible by co-ordination between the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Health to bring pressure to bear upon, or to put a few inducements before, the local authorities to enable them to hasten the work of providing houses and thus help to relieve unemployment to some small extent.
I rose really to put that special point before the Minister of Labour, but there is one last item to which I should like to refer. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Rothwell said, I think—I am speaking from memory; I am not quoting his actual words—that if the coal industry were put upon its feet there would be no unemployment in it at all.
No, the hon. Gentleman is mistaken. I said that, if the industry were reorganised on proper lines, I was satisfied that employment could be found for many more men than are employed in that industry as it is now.
Of course, I accept the hon. Gentleman's statement at once. It might be possible to find employment for many more men, but I would remind the lion. Gentleman that those Members most intimately connected with the Parliamentary Labour party have made it clear that all the men who have been employed in that industry in the past will not be able to be employed again. My main point is that, in this transference scheme, we should try if we possibly can to avoid the difficulties of housing. There are difficulties in connection with the men who come from long distances in order to get to their work, and this has hindered the employment of men coming into new industries. I would ask the Minister of Labour to try and co-ordinate the work in that connection between his Department and the Ministry of Health.
I was glad, when the Colonial Secretary addressed the Committee, that he prefaced his remarks by stating that he was not going to outline the policy of the Government. That was somewhat of a relief, because some of us have been greatly puzzled as to what was the policy of the Government on unemployment. I think that puzzled feeling has moved somewhat to the constituencies, if the result of the recent by-elections has anything to do with it at all. We are all more or less particularly interested in the position of unemployment in this country, but some of us have not the sweet but delusive hope which the hon. Gentleman who last addressed the Committee appeared to have when he was dealing with the various Departments, and spoke of the need for developing some cohesion among them in attempting to tackle the problem. There would appear to have been very little, if any, cohesion between the various Ministries and Government Departments on this particular problem.
I want, more especially, to detain the Committee for a few minutes with regard to the transference of labour in this country, and I want to suggest that this is one of the most abject gestures that the Government have made. Some of us have not forgotten the pledges which they gave to this nation prior to the election of 1924. I remember the Conservative party issuing in their "Record," I think they call it—possibly it is a better record than the record of their four years' government of the country—a promise to deal with unemployment. They had a solution for unemployment. The Prime Minister, in his election address—which was not only his personal address but was also an outline of the policy of the party which he now leads—professed to be able, and I believe practically undertook, to find work for all men who were willing to work. We have had four years of this particular Government, and I believe the latest figures show over 200,000 more people unemployed in this country, on the live register, than there were when the present Government took office. Those figures may deceive some of the people of this country, but they will not deceive those who know that the greater part of the energy of the Department of the Minister of Labour has been directed towards striking people who were entitled to benefit off the live register, at least so far as their willingness to work is concerned. The figures now given of the amount. of unemployment in this country, and the 200,000 odd increase during the past four years of Tory Government, are fallacious, so far as the actual number of unemployed is concerned, or the number of the increase. We have, at this late hour, this almost childish gesture of transferring people unemployed in one area of the country to other areas where people are also unemployed. Statesmanship! Why, it would be impossible in any respectable company, much less in this Committee, to express real fervent opinion about such statesmanship. If a farmer had a farm of very poor land, and his animals were starving for the want of fodder, how he would be ridiculed if he transferred some of his starving animals from one part of his farm to another, where stock were already starving for the want of provender. That is what this transference scheme means. I say emphatically that it will not provide work for one additional other person in this country. To transfer people from one part to another where there are already people who are willing to work and are not able to get work is not only ones of the most helpless and abject attempts to solve the problem, but it is also the turning down of the promises made to the nation when their votes were sought by the present Government.
I am of opinion that this gesture, which has special reference to the miners, is possibly an attempt to throw dust in the eyes of the public as to the amount of unemployment in this country. The tragedy of the position of the miners is that if the attention of the people is focussed on that, and if some gesture of some imaginary help is made in this way, some easily deluded people among the electorate may say that, at least, the Government are trying to grapple with the problem. Some of us do not forget that there is very serious unemployment in other industries. Take the North East coast, for example. I believe the latest official figures of employment in our great shipbuilding industry there shows that there are 46 per cent unemployed in the North Eastern area of England. I think the figure for the mine fields in Northumberland and Durham is about 19.1 per cent. In that shipbuild- ing industry, prior to 1914, there were roughly—I am speaking from memory—362,000 people employed. At present, there are 202,000 employed, and of that number 30.3 per cent. are unemployed as compared with the year 1914, taking the country as a whole in Great Britain and Ireland. If you segregate the North Eastern section, you have 46 per cent. unemployed. Again, in the North Eastern area in the engineering trade generally, you have over 14 per cent. unemployed. Let hon. Members look at our cotton trade. While I have not in my mind at the moment the percentage of unemployed in the cotton industry, the short time and the unemployment in that industry is as appalling as it is in many other industries. In my opinion, this gesture, this spending of what will amount to practically half-a-million of money by the time this Estimate—which I shall vote against—is obtained in order to transfer people from one industry to the other is hopeless.
The Minister of Labour is held in great respect by many of us on this side of the House, and I would be the last to say things which appear hard to him unless I were perfectly sure of them. But he is responsible, and I repeat: I believe that this gesture is made because certain happenings recently have focussed the attention of the nation on the mine fields, and that this is an attempt to make people believe that the Government are really trying to do something, and it is drawing people's attention from the amount of unemployment in this country. If the Government were able to transfer every unemployed man from one part of the country to another, if they were able to transfer unemployed men from East to West and from West to East, they would not. have found employment for one individual. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Norwich (Sir H. Young), in his speech, said that we considered migration as an admission of the failure of the Government. He suggested that it was only a failure of reorganisation which was in our minds. I have brought before the Committee for three years on the Naval Estimates a matter which I think is of interest to the House, and particularly to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Norwich, who was a very able officer. We have this regrettable position; a position that the Government have never attempted to tackle. It has been brought about by the lack of reorganisation and by the want of a broader vision which would put the interests of this country before the interests of some of the wealthy capitalists and financiers that are represented on the other side of the Committee. They are not very largely represented at the moment; nor is anyone else, for that matter. We have our British mine fields empty, or largely empty of employment, and yet we have the British Navy burning foreign oil. I have raised this question of pulverised coal as a fuel—
Possibly, the right hon. Gentleman himself is not responsible for the misdeeds of other Ministers, but I was rather arguing in this way. He is the representative of the Government, and he is attempting to solve the problem in this ineffective and, with all respect to the right hon. Gentleman, childish fashion of removing unemployed from one part to another. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Norwich has been trying to point out that there was no lack of reorganisation that might cause migration of the miners. I was endeavouring to suggest—of course, Mr. Hope, I shall always bow to your ruling—that if there had been organisation by this Government and, as I pointed out, had coal from the British mine fields been used in a certain way instead of a foreign product, there would have been more employment in the mine fields and less necessity for the miners to migrate. I repeat, finally, that after the promises and pledges made, we have had the elimination of suffering men and women from the live register and from the benefits of the unemployment finances and funds in this country. Every possible device has been adopted to thin out the figures—figures do not feed men and women or find them employment—and then the Government comes before the country with increased unemployment figures, after that elimination, of over 200,000—
I do not want to interrupt the hon. Gentleman unduly, but I would ask him if he could give me a single instance where any endeavours have been made to lessen the number of people on the live register by eliminating persons and by depriving them of benefit?
I think everyone knows that the tightening up of conditions regarding the payment of benefit at Employment Exchanges has—legally, possibly, I will give the right hon. Gentleman that—eliminating people from the unemployment register and put them on to the guardians, making what we regard as a national responsibility a local responsibility, and punishing the people in the poorer industrial areas while those in well-to-do residential areas rode away with the spoil. While this tightening up has reduced the returns of unemployed people, it has not eliminated unemployment, and I shall be compelled to vote against this Supplementary Estimate, which is put forward to assist in the transference of unemployed people from one part of the country to another, because though I may seem to be using hard words I think it is right to say that it is a gesture of ineffectiveness, a gesture of failure, it fulfils no pledges and will not give employment to one additional man or woman. Had there been that cohesion which the last speaker from the opposite side desired, there might have been a possibility of grappling with this subject. As it is, to vote for the spending of £500,000 in an ineffective gesture which will not find employment for anyone is something which I certainly shall not do.
I want to deal first with the training of young unemployed men. I understand from the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary that the Department has endeavoured to develop a scheme for training men whose ages range from 21 to 35, and that certain training centres have been established to train them in the agricultural industry with a view to enabling them to become efficient emigrants. Side by side with that there are establishments to train men to become what is described in the Estimate as handy men, and I understand that in the main they are receiving training in trades associated with the building industry. I have been making some in- quiries into this matter, and if I am wrong in what I state I hope the Minister will correct me, and, at any rate, I hope he will develop the points I am raising in order to give the House more information. I am told that the men are first put to work for a month at bricklaying, then a month at carpentering and then a month at plastering. Then they are asked to choose which of these trades they would prefer to follow, and for the remaining three or four months they concentrate upon the trade which they select. At the end of that time they are offered to employers.
I view this system with a considerable amount of concern. It is generally understood that apprentices in the building trade have to serve for five to seven years, and then efficiency is not always guaranteed. I suggest to the Minister that if the officials of his Department are of the opinion that these young men should be taught a trade they should be taught thoroughly, for under the present system they are neither craftsmen nor labourers. What is being done is only playing with the thing, and it is not fair to the men themselves to lead them to believe that they can be taught to become craftsman in so short a time. Further, I suggest that this is causing considerable antagonism among the operatives m the building industry itself, because after their six months' training these men are being offered to employers at rates of wages from 3d. to 4d. or 5d. per hour below the district rate of wages for operatives in the industry. That has a tendency to depress the standard of living among building trade workers. It is unfair competition, and a Government Department ought not to lend its assistance in that direction. The Minister ought, if I may use the term with all due respect, to treat the men more honourably than to lead them to believe that after six months' training they can go on to the market and claim wages which they should claim as building trade operatives.
There is worse even than that, far worse, because under the transference scheme the Ministry of Labour are transferring building trade operatives from depressed areas into such areas as London. Within the last month I have had occasion to take up this subject with the Department. I will give an instance. Not long ago a dozen men were informed in Newport Employment Exchange that carpenters were required at Hayes in Middlesex. According to the rule of the Woodworkers' Union, these men have to go to the district organisers in the Newport area. They did so, and they told the District Organiser what had taken place at the Employment Exchange. The organiser got on the telephone to London, and he found out that there were thousands of carpenters available in the London area, and, in fact, there were unemployed carpenters available at Uxbridge and Southall in the immediate vicinity. According to the general rule of the trade union, those men are forbidden to leave Newport, because other men are unemployed on the spot to which they have been told to apply for employment, Immediately that fact is reported to the Employment Exchange in Newport, the men are informed that no unemployment benefit will be paid to them. I suggest to the Minister of Labour that in the light of those facts he cannot defend sending men from Newport to Hayes while there are unemployed men in Hayes capable of doing the work.
There is even a worse aspect than that. I have in mind an instance where three carpenters were sent from Cardiff for employment at Sudbury in Middlesex. They brought their tools and started on the job there. After being employed for four hours, the employer told them that they were not suitable for his job. At the same time, at the Harrow and the Wembley branches in close proximity to Sudbury there were a number of unemployed carpenters. Those men had to seek other employment or pay their own fares back to Cardiff. They sought employment in the Harrow and Sudbury areas, but eventually they came back to Cardiff. I think that was grossly unfair and inhuman, because those men could have used their railways fares to much better advantage with their families in their own homes. I have some other instances.
At the present time industry is becoming highly specialised. Men are being sent from the Provinces to London, and they start work in the areas to which they have been sent. After working a few hours, they are informed by the foreman that the tools which they have brought with them are not suitable to enable them to carry out the type of work required on the job. I do not blame the officials in the Employment Exchanges, because they have no idea or conception of the various types of work which might be put before a craftsman. A man cannot be expected to bring a huge chest of tools with him when he goes away, and he simply brings what is known as a flying kit. Such a kit may be all right on the building, but, if a man happens to be given a first class job in the joiners' shop, he has not a kit capable of doing the work. All these points should be taken into consideration by the responsible department.
It has been suggested that the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Health should endeavour to co-operate in these matters, and I have made that suggestion before. The Minister of Health is adopting the policy which is intensifying unemployment in the building industry, and the Minister of Labour is seeking to find employment for building trade operatives by drafting them from one part of the country to the other. I think hon. Members should face the position as we see it actually operating in industry, and we must be prepared to give consideration to the necessity for better organisation and more efficient machinery. Great inventions are being introduced into industry, and this mean that we shall get greater production with a less amount of labour. We have also to face the fact that a few years ago there were 14,000 Super-tax payers in this country while to-day there are 98,000. We must all recognise that simply transferring labour from one district to another is no remedy for this grave problem. We want a better distribution of the results of labour for those who are responsible for the production of the wealth of this country, and until we face that problem we shall neither eliminate nor alleviate the unemployment problem.
It seems to me that the statement which has been made by the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs was put in a much more modest tone than usual, especially when dealing with the question of the transference of labour to the Dominions. At best, as the right hon. Gentleman very modestly put it, transference is only one of the ways for dealing with the problem. I want to go a little further, and I wish to examine the economics of this question of the transference of labour to the Dominions. I suggest that we may actually intensify the problem of unemployment by removing men from Britain to the Dominions. I know that it is always a dangerous economic argument to put a certain set of facts into a compartment and draw conclusions from them without reference to other economic facts that are excluded from that compartment. It is interesting, however, to note the amount of trade which the Dominions are doing with this country at the present time on the basis per head of population. New Zealand, which is the best of our Dominions in this respect, does about £18 or £20 of trade per head of her population with the Home Country, and all the other Dominions in a decreasing proportion fall below New Zealand in the amount of trade done with this country.
If a man is engaged at home in Britain taking his part in our economic system, on the average 70 per cent. of what he requires is produced for him in this country and only 30 per cent, is produced overseas. I arrived at that percentage from the general understanding of the way in which the home and foreign markets are made up; 70 per cent. of our trade is done at home, and 30 per cent. beyond the seas. Therefore, if a place can be found for our workers at home, they become potentially better demanders of British goods than if they were sent abroad. In New Zealand they are the best demanders of our goods, taking our Dominions, but, if they go to Canada, it is not at all improbable that they will demand more goods from the United States than they will demand of goods produced here at home. Take the case of the 2,000 men who, under the scheme we are discussing, stayed in Canada last year. If they become prosperous enough—let me take a very ordinary example—if they are able to save up enough to buy a motor bicycle, it is highly likely that that motor bicycle will be one of United States manufacture. If they are prosperous enough to get married, it is highly likely that the furniture that they will buy will not be British furniture, but United States furniture. These men whom we are settling in Canada become better demanders of Canadian and United States goods than they would be for our goods if only we could settle them here.
I realise the objection that some hon. Members opposite might put forward at this point. It might be urged that the man here who is now unemployed is demanding practically no goods at all, except in so far as it is made possible for him by unemployment benefit or by other means to buy British commodities, and I an not suggesting that that is the way out of the difficulty. What I am trying to prove is that, if the Government would lay themselves out to secure a place for the British working man in our economic system here at home, rather than to secure a place for him in Canada or any of the other Dominions, that man would be more the cause of creating new employment here than he would be if transferred to the Dominions. I always feel that that argument is very much lost sight of in the demands that are made in regard to the migration of labour abroad.
Having put that point of view, I frankly admit that there is in Canada and the other Dominions a great opening for men of adventurous spirit, and that it ought to be the duty of the Empire, it ought to be the duty of this nation, to meet the desires of those who feel that in the Dominions is there is more scope for a better acid fuller life, from their own individual point of view, than would be possible if they stayed here. I was one of those who had the good fortune to go to Canada with the Empire Parliamentary Delegation last year, and I can never forget the multitude of opportunities that should enable a healthy, active man to achieve his desire to a far greater extent than would be possible if he stayed in this country. I am, therefore, always glad to see arrangements by which those who desire to go out to Canada may be helped to do so. But, instead of providing facilities for the healthy adventurous spirit that is the type of man who will most make good in Canada, what has been the result of the scheme which the Government were operating last year?
They sent out 8,000 men, and it is claimed that 2,000 of them have got into some sort of permanent employment in Canada. I would, however, say in passing that the Government have no evidence whatever that 2,000 of them are in permanent employment in Canada. Certainly, we have evidence that 6,000 of them have come home, but, of the 2,000 who have stayed, I have not heard it said—I shall be very glad to be corrected on this point if I am wrong—that the Government know where all those 2,000 men are. Some of them, perhaps, are dead, starved out in the cold Canadian winter. Some who left Alberta, for example, and went out into the Okanagan Valley, when they had worked for a period on the fruit farms of the Okanagan Valley, made their way further West, in the hope of something turning up in British Columbia, and possibly, as they got down to Vancouver and New Westminster, found themselves still further removed from the opportunities of returning home that the other 5,000 or 6,000 actually took.
I suggest to the Minister of Labour that, of these 2,000 men who have actually remained in Canada, a considerable number are living in particularly hard circumstances at the present time. Indeed, I had a letter not very long ago from a person not far from Manchester, begging me to see whether something could be done in the way of searching for one of these men, whom I had met personally on a fruit farm in the Okanagan Valley. He had been writing home regularly, but his work had come to an end, he had pressed off westward, and his people did not know in what direction he had gone, for suddenly, although he had been regularly communicating with his home, all news of him was lost. If his parents do not know what has become of him, I shall be very much surprised if the Government can say exactly what has happened to that one out of the 2,000 men to whom I am referring.
Even, however, if the whole 2,000 were placed and are getting through the hard Canadian winter, is it really anything to be proud of, considering the amount of money that was spent on this scheme? It is assumed that much of the money will he repaid, but the Colonial Secretary at Question Time to-day, very rightly as I thought, expressed his doubts about getting much of it back again. It has been advanced as a loan. If none of it be repaid, these harvesters have cost on an average about £20 per man. At the best, I do not believe that the repayments will be sufficient to make the cost per man for the whole scheme less than about £15. I would ask the Minister whether, supposing that this money had been carefully spent with a proper organisation to get men placed on land here in Britain, there would not have been better results for them in England, and, in the long run, for the demand that they would express for other articles in British trade? Would not the results have been better than those obtained by this scheme?
I know that what happened was that the Government got into a state of panic about their own utter failure to do anything effective with the problem of unemployment. They felt the General Election approaching. There was only one complete year left in which to act and at the last minute they scampered madly into this scheme and rushed 8,000 men across the Atlantic. It was a tragedy. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare (Mr. G. Hall) has described some of the things he saw. May I add my word to what he said. I saw in Winnipeg men who had been for months, some of them for years, unemployed put suddenly on to the job of harvesting under the blazing hot sun where their work lasted, not 10 or 12, but 14 or 15 hours a day. Some of the officials of the Canadian Pacific Railway, when I visited the depot there, begged of me, as a British Member of Parliament, to use my influence with some of the men passing through, to try to get them to take jobs that were again being offered by farmers who were there seeking for new workers.
I have no complaint to make about the general attitude of the Canadian farmer. I saw decent farmers there wanting labour badly, and some of them willing to give four or five dollars or more a day to secure efficient labour. The Canadian Pacific Railway officials begged me to press upon these men, who had given up the struggle and wanted to get home, to go out and try again, but I looked at their hands. The skin was worn off. I looked at their faces. I could see by their whole mien that they were worn out and broken by the tremendous labour that had been imposed upon them in the beginning of this scheme. I am not blaming the farmers for this. I realise that the farmer, with his short Canadian summer, has to get the crops in and use all the hours that God sends him in order to harvest the grain. He has a special problem. But I am blaming the Government, which had an opportunity for years to deal with this problem, for collecting, after an inefficient medical examination, poor unemployed fellows, who were utterly unadapted to the heavy work that was being placed upon them, and for pretending that they were doing something for the unemployment problem by rushing these 8,000 men off in the unorganised way that they were rushed off. If any further repetition, or half repetition, of last year's scheme is to happen in the future, I believe the Government will make it more and more difficult for the many people in Canada who 'are willing to co-operate with us if we have a sensible scheme in which we really give a chance to the active and best spirits of our land to go to Canada to co-operate with us, and that we shall be asking the Canadians to bang the door in our faces if we embark upon new schemes anything like that of last year.
Although I have criticised the Government for the attitude they have taken in regard to this migration of labour to Canada I know there are other very serious difficulties, however right the Government here have been, which will continue to face the Canadian authorities themselves. Canada has an unemployment problem, not merely emerging from Canada alone, but from America. The unemployed of America easily pass over the frontier. Canada in the past has been using its unemployed at harvest-time by giving them special travelling facilities—some 50,000 of them in 1927—to go to Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta to deal with the heavy harvests. When I was in Canada, I read more than once of protests from trade unions at the cutting off of opportunities that have been in existence in the past for unemployed people in Montreal and Toronto, and further east still, in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, to get to the harvest fields, and naturally Canadian politicians have to take account of the opinions of Canadian workers. If you adopt an unorganised scheme to run men in, apparently 8,000, 10,000 or 20,000 men, without having worked out with the Canadian authorities a scheme which continues to give to their people also the maximum opportunity for work, you will create a new political problem in Canada which will make it increasingly difficult for anything of this sort to be done. I plead with the Government that, if there is any further development of the Canadian harvester scheme, it should be begun only after very much more careful training, and with a better guarantee from the Canadians themselves as to the method that will be adopted with the men when they arrive in Canada.
I would like to refer to a case I came across n Manitoba. I travelled 50 miles with a motor which had been provided by one of the Government Departments to see an agent acting for the Canadian public authorities, who was, I suppose, to be responsible for the placing of these new British harvesters. The men had arrived at the agents, and the agent presumably had placed them, but though I received a list of the farms on which the men were supposed to have gone when I visited them no trace whatever was to be found of the men whom the agent was supposed to have placed there. In that case the Canadian authorities had no real knowledge or responsibility for the men whom we had sent out. I know that there are better examples than that. I travelled with another public official, who gave us the whole of a day travelling across those lumpy prairie roads, a journey of 200 miles or more, taking us from farm to farm and showing us where men had been placed and where new opportunities offered. He was the type of public official, like many others, who for the love of his country and the love of the possibilities of his country, had made himself thoroughly acquainted with Canadian potentialities and could indicate many ways in which there were openings for British harvesters and those who ultimately might go to Canada. But, if we are to make the best in future of such facilities as exist, there should be a much more complete understanding with the Canadian authorities than anything we tried last year. It is only in that way that we should be justified in continuing this experiment.
One would imagine from the way this discussion has continued that one of the solutions for this terrible evil of unemployment is that of migrating our people to Canada. I am sure anyone listening to the Debate would imagine that we are likely to find some way out in that direction. I am intensely sorry the Government have brought this migration problem into touch with the unemployment problem instead of keeping them separate. I am not opposed to migration, but I am opposed to it when it means that you are using it, not for the purpose of assisting people with that adventurous spirit that we have heard of, but for the purpose of taking away from this country those who are out of work by reason of the system operating in our various industries. I do not regard it as an advantage to the country that we should look in that direction for an easement of the problem. It would be foolish to think that with 1,500,000 people unemployed and a great number under-employed, we shall solve our problem by getting rid of hundreds of thousands of them by migration. That is a fantastic idea and one to which no Government ought to be committed.
In consequence of the discussion on what happened last year when the harvesters were sent out to Canada, other sides of the Estimate have not been dealt with. The Parliamentary Secretary glided very quickly over Item A in regard to salaries, and why it is that we have to find £500,000 for that particular account. I hope we shall have some clearer explanation from the right hon. Gentleman. I should like to know whether the item for training young unemployed men relates only to training from the age of 18 years. If so, I hope we shall hear something of the intentions of the Government in the direction of giving training to a greater number than at the present time, and also something about the type of the training. Is it the intention of the Government merely to keep these people occupied during the period of unemployment, or is it intended to train them so that they may fit into some other occupation, in order to prevent the demoralisation which we know has set in in the case of so many who have been unemployed for long periods.
I notice an item in regard to saving. We are told that we shall save £150,000 en the Estimate given in connection with the Court of Referees. May we have some explanation how the original Estimate was arrived at? I wish that a great deal more than £150,000 could be paid back. I have such little respect—1 am sorry to have to say this to the House of Commons and the country—for the Court of Referees and the methods which they adopt, that I am glad to note that some money is coming back. Perhaps in that way we may prevent the chairmen and the Courts of Referees from carrying on in the way that they are doing with their decisions at the present time. It may be that the Minister of Labour is to blame. It may be that he has given instructions under which the chairmen and the Courts of Referees act. They are acting with what appears to be the sole intent not of administering benefit to those who are unemployed, but seemingly with the sole intention of depriving as many people as possible of the benefit for which they have paid. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us the interpretation of "not genuinely seeking work"? Why is it that the Court of Referees, upon whose administration £150,000 is being saved, are insisting upon unemployed people tramping from gate to gate, from shop to shop asking for employment, and why are they wasting the time of foremen, managers and other people by insisting upon signatures being obtained? In this matter, the Court of Referees are acting quite differently from any other Court in the land. I am told that in the Law Courts the word of a witness is taken in evidence.
I did not wish to interrupt the hon. Member, hut I would point out that every witness in any Court is subject to cross-examination and the amount of credence attached to the evidence of such witness, according to the decision of the tribunal, depends upon the credibility and value of the evidence.
The whole procedure of the Court of Referees cannot be discussed upon this one item. The hon. Member can discuss tile saving, and if an extra amount of money were taken he could ask why the extra money was required for the Court of Referees, but he cannot now discuss the whole procedure of that court.
There is a saving on the Estimate that was presented to us a few months ago, and I am asking how the saving has been arrived at, in view of the right hon. Gentleman having very clearly, with his staff, made up his mind as to the number of people to be examined with regard to their benefit. I am endeavouring to find out, perhaps by a curious and crude method, how it is that he was £150,000 wrong in his Estimate. As you have some doubt as to my being in order, I will not pursue the matter further, but it does look as if the right hon. Gentleman intended a great deal more time to be spent on the examination of these people as to their entitlement to benefit. He would save a great deal more money if he would spend less of the time of the insurance officers in finding out how much money can be withheld from the people who claim benefit.
I should like information with respect to the transference of unemployed people from the distressed areas. If the right hon. Gentleman considers that those people who have been unemployed for a considerable period in distressed areas should be moved from those districts, that argument would apply to other areas where unemployment in certain trades has been rife for a considerable time, such as shipbuilding and engineering, which have suffered very much. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us to what occupations the transferred people are being taken? Is it true that the people who are being sent to London, Manchester and other districts are filling places that would not he filled by people normally resident in the locality. No, this is simply a covering up of the whole problem; it is moving it away from the districts where so many are out of work to districts where there is a smaller number of unemployed. That is all that can be said for it. We have had figures given for Oxford, Coventry and other districts, showing how prosperous those districts are. I do not know what was the intention of the Parliamentary Secretary—whether it was an inducement to people to rush to Oxford and Coventry and Slough. A great deal was made of Slough, as though it was a district that could be separated from the area round about in order to show how prosperous it was. If that is the best that the Minister has to say in order to secure our support for this Estimate, all I can say is that the Government are not tackling the problem of unemployment, and that the sooner the country realises that fact the better.
I want to ask the Minister whether he will give consideration to one point which is of some importance to Londoners. Everyone must sympathise with the Government's difficulties, and must realise that it is a service to the community generally and to those who are in these unfortunate areas, that efforts should be made to remove them to areas where they have a better chance. But everyone must sympathise too with those in more prosperous areas who naturally feel that their opportunities, greater though they may be than the opportunities of those in the depressed areas, are lessened by the infiltration of these distressed cases from outside. We in London are extremely sympathetic to the miners in their difficulties. We do not hark back and ask whose fault it Was. We are simply sympathetic and are willing to help in every conceivable way. But it is a little hard that jobs which are difficult enough for the Londoner to find, should be taken by men from outside. I ask the Minister to give an undertaking that where there is a man in the London district capable of doing a job it will be offered to him first.
I want also to say a few words to hon. Members of the Labour party. In mining districts they applaud the policy of transference. The Labour party at its National Conference recommended transference as one of its policies. The Liberal party too, are tied to the policy by statements in, their Yellow Book and at their Conferences. But when hon. Members go to other districts, on their platforms they are not tied-to the policy of transfer. They make political capital out of the fact that the Government are carrying out a policy which they themselves have advocated. I put it to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen that that is not playing the game. Either this policy is one on which we are all agreed or it is one with which we do not agree. If we do not agree with it, let us be consistent and say that we do not agree all over the country; but if we do agree I suggest that the proper thing to do is not to make political capital out of the matter by going around the more prosperous constituencies and denouncing the Government for carrying out the policy.
Let me make some observations upon the subject of the speech of the hon. Member who moved the Amendment. This is a time when this country and everyone in it require encouragement, and not the kind of depression which the hon. Gentleman poured upon this Committee for about 40 minutes. We must face facts, but the Labour party seem to have a faculty for putting forward always only the most dismal facts. There are more cheering facts that can be found. There is in migration something that can be of benefit to young and vigorous men. I suggest that national harm is being done by people going about and always pointing out the difficulties. We have heard of the case of the men who went to Canada. They had not someone going round with them to arrange their wages, and they did not have everything smoothed for them. There were difficulties here and there when they got on to the farm. Perhaps they were there a little sooner than the actual harvest time, and did not earn the wages that some of them expected. There were difficulties. But there are always difficulties if you go to a new country. Britain and the Empire were not made great by crying stinking fish about difficulties.
My suggestion is that a better service will be rendered if hon. Gentlemen at least look at the rosier side of things in our great Dominions, and if they do not obscure it by always looking for something evil or bad which they can say about England or the Empire. There are opportunities in the Dominions which men who have initiative, or who can be encouraged to have initiative, may take, and I ask hon. Members whether, in the general interest, they would try to turn their minds a little out of the morbid, miserable, melancholy groove along which they now seem to be travelling, and try to encourage our people to go out and seek new opportunities in places that offer better chances than can be found here. Undoubtedly very great harm is done to the cause of migration by Members of the Labour party constantly going up and down the country accusing us of trying to get rid of these men for some bad motive, when our sole object is to help them and to help our Dominions.
It is rather surprising to listen to a speech like that delivered by the hon. and gallant Member. Probably it would be more accurate to describe it as a lecture. The hon. and gallant Member seems to suggest that because what the Government does is not exactly the right thing no one has any right to complain. I should be the last in the world to suggest that the effort made by the Government was the effort that should have been made, but instead of blaming the Members of the Labour party for crying stinking fish he should remember that what we complain about is the stupidity of the Government. I do not want to express any very strong views about Canada. It is true that I have been there, and that I was there at the time the harvesters were there. I did not meet any of the men, but I was present at the Trade Unions Congress in Canada, and I heard the delegates express their opinion about the business. It looked to me as though someone in the Government had had a brainstorm and that, seeing some possibility of sending a very considerable number of men over to Canada for the harvest, decided that here was a great chance to unship the load to some extent from this country and to put it on to Canada. There can be no doubt that if the Government had foreseen the possibility of a demand for labour in Canada when the harvest came round—there is a demand every year—the whole matter could have been thought out and arrangements could have been made with the Canadian Government. The Canadian Government would have shown no disinclination.
It is obvious that the hon. and gallant Member has not had very much experience of this House. It he should come back to this House after the Election and his party is then in opposition, he will realise what Members of his party in opposition can do. They will do exactly what he complains of the Labour party doing on the present occasion. This kind of thing is very entertaining, but it does not help to a solution of our difficulties. It has been admitted by the Secretary of State for the Dominions that the scheme for sending these men to Canada was prepared in haste. Now the Government are repenting at leisure. That is what it all amounts to. I have had conversations with many men who have been in Canada and the story which they told me was this: There are plenty of opportunities in Canada. Nobody having the slightest idea of the immensity of the country and its crude condition, apart from the big cities, can fail to realise that there are wonderful opportunities in Canada as also in America; Canada is a great country, and obviously there are, and must be for many years to come, opportunities for tens of thousands if industrial development will absorb that number of people. At the same time—as we heard earlier in this Debate from an hon. Member who said he had been doing business with Canada, I think, for 20 years—the men who go to Canada must be prepared to face conditions and circumstances which they would not tolerate for five seconds in this country.
These men have themselves told me that they have been starved, that they have been almost knocked out, but that, eventually, a turn for the better has come and they have survived the ordeal. It is an ordeal in Canada and no mistake. The winters in Canada are not to be sniffed at, and there is not a very large amount of employment in the winter. Men who cannot find employment and who have neither money, food nor clothes are in a very baa corner indeed in that country. I admit, as I say, that the opportunities are there, but it is only reasonable to point out that it is no use sending men to Canada unless they are men of physique and full of vigour and healthy in the highest degree—men who can stand punishment. Men of that kind do well in Canada or anywhere else in the world. They would do well here if they had any opportunity.
I do not say that the whole of this effort is completely wasted. I know there are some of these men who have not come back but nobody can tell me whether those who have remained are in employment or not. Some of them may have employment. I do not suggest they are all unemployed, but, just as I know that there are unemployed in all the big cities of Canada, so I know that a certain proportion of those who remain will be unemployed and they will not have a merry time. I understand this scheme has cost about £170,000. I suggest that had the scheme been properly thought out, had negotiations been opened with the Canadian Government, and, had the scheme been put into operation on common-sense, business-like lines, there would have been an infinitely greater return for the money than that which we have to What surprises me in this Debate is the assumption that the transference of men from one part of the country to another is a solution of the unemployment problem. Could anything be more fantastic? It seems to he ridiculous in the highest degree to suggest that the transference of men from one district to another is going to solve the problem. There is surely no hon. Member who is not sensible that such an assumption is too silly for words.
I remember that there was a great deal of complaint in Coventry because, as a result of stories in the Press, thousands of men drifted there in search of work and could not find jobs. If any information appeared in the newspapers of improved chances of employment in any district in this country, you would have thousands and tens of thousands of men wearing the boots off their feet to get to that district. There would not need to be any transference of the kind we are discussing. The men's legs would transfer them to where the employment was to be found. I am not uttering a word of criticism against the effort of the Ministry of Labour in helping men where chances occur. What is the business of the Employment Exchanges? What were they created for? The reason for their existence is to find jobs for men, but the only business of
the Exchanges to-day seems to be that of finding excuses for not paying the men their State unemployment benefit. I was in the House of Commons when the Act was passed creating the Exchanges and the object of creating them was to prevent men going about the country and tramping the boots off their feet looking for work. Now the system is being used as an excuse for preventing the men getting unemployment benefit. If this proposal is put forward as a remedy for unemployment it is fantastic. I am not saying, however that good cannot be done. I am not saying that the training schools are not good in their way, but, there again, the immensity of the problem is something from which we cannot get away and it is no use our trying to make ourselves believe that:
All is for the hest in the best of all possible worlds.
Each spring for the last, few years the newspapers have been announcing that at last there is a turn for the better, that unemployment is diminishing, and, that orders are coming into the country. Yet during last year we have seen the figures of unemployment go up steadily week by week. What has been done? Any man who cares to think must realise that the only policy of the Government has been a policy of drift and despair and that no real effort is being put into the business. One of the great cries during the War was that Germany's object was to get a railway from Berlin to Baghdad. Has anything been done along those lines? The question of the Channel Tunnel has been before this country for 30 or 40 years. Again, nothing has been done.
I know it is out of Order, and I was just leaving the point. Apart from political considerations, need one be surprised at the great amount of unemployment in this country. What great world project is there that is receiving attention from the Government?
I think I ought to point out to the hon. Member who is rather appreciative on these matters, that this is a Supplementary Estimate for the Ministry of Labour for certain specified sums. The subject which the hon. Member has mentioned is not a matter for consideration on this Vote.
The point with which I was endeavouring to deal was perhaps wider than the point which we were debating. It seems strange to me that, in spite of all the toils and tribulations which this country has to-day and after all the expenditure of men and treasure, the country is left in a period of stagnation which there seems to be no means of overcoming. The mind that is brought to bear on this question of unemployment is the retail mind, whereas the problem is a wholesale problem. That is at the bottom of our mishandling of the question. Unless we can get a broader and deeper attention given to the problem we are facing and unless a different outlook is brought to bear upon it, this question will get the country absolutely down. Complete stagnation is facing us. Our own newspapers have told the world about the dole. One of the greatest disservices that can be rendered to a country is to create the impression throughout the world that so many hundreds of thousands of people are on the dole. The implication is that they are all paupers. That is one of the things which has done harm to the credit of the country throughout the world. I hope we shall see some change in the policy of the Government or rather that they may get a policy. They have no policy at all. They have simply allowed the matter to drift in the hope, like Micawber, that something would turn up. When you get into that frame of mind nothing turns up but trouble. Until we face this problem with greater determination, energy, and persistence than has hitherto been shown, it remains with us, and, if not faced courageously, will get the country down.
For nearly five years we on these benches have been pleading with the Government to do something for the assistance of the distressed mining areas. We have been reminding them of the huge number of unemployed miners. At last, the Government come down here and say, "Here is something; here are two T's: transference and training. You will find in them assistance for your unemployed miners, and a cure for the terrible distress in the mining areas." I apply those two T's to my own county of Durham. We have there out of employment some 60,000 miners who are right down in the gutter of distress. What will transference and training do for them? One is bound to confess that transference will only touch the fringe, while training will only deal with a small number of the younger men. To tell those 60,000 men that transference and training will help them is only mocking them. This, the new and only policy of the Government, is as useless to help our people as if I went down to the Terrace and spat in the Thames to swell the water in the river.
I would ask the Minister of Labour from what section he is going to take these men for transfer. In my constituency, the men can be divided into three groups. The first consists of those who are receiving benefit from the unemployment fund. Secondly, there are those who are receiving relief from the Poor Law. With regard to them, the Minister informed me, in reply to a question, that the number of persons classified as unemployed and their dependants in Durham receiving relief, was 45,158 on the 31st December. There is also a third group of men who neither get benefit from the Unemployment Fund nor relief from the Poor Law. They form a large group and consist mostly of young men. From which group is the Minister of Labour going to take men for transference? My impression is that he will not take the men on Poor Law relief or the men who are receiving neither relief nor benefit, but that he will merely transfer the men who are receiving benefit from the Unemployment Fund. If that be the object of the Government, then what is the Government's policy for the huge number of men who have to exist on Poor Law relief and for those who have neither benefit nor relief?
The Prime Minister told us on 17th December that for the previous four months 15,000 men had been moved into other occupations. I hope the Minister will tell us to-night the number of men who have been transferred to the present date. In the coal mining industry, we have some 300,000 men unemployed. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman to explain a little more fully than
did the Parliamentary Secretary another statement of the Prime Minister, made on the 20th December, when he said:
It has been much easier hitherto to remove single men than married men, and yet it is of equal, if not of greater importance that such facilities as can be obtained in getting work should be obtained by the placing of a whole family in an area where there is hope, rather than a single member of it, and we are examining various schemes now that may help to give employment."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th December, 1928, col. 3274; Vol. 223.]
I should like the Minister of Labour to tell us whether those schemes have been examined, and what they are. The Parliamentary Secretary to-day rather led us to believe that they had tried only one scheme as a result of that statement of the Prime Minister, and that that scheme was the giving of money to men who had been transferred, for lodgings and for removals; and if I understood the Parliamentary Secretary aright, that is the end of what the Prime Minister was proposing and the end of this scheme. If that be all, it is not going to help us very much, and one would like to know whether there was anything else in the Prime Minister's mind when he mentioned "various schemes." It seems to me that the number of men who have been transferred is extremely small. Only this week-end I saw in a weekly paper that circulates in Durham this statement:
In the area covered by the Labour Exchange in Durham city, which extends over a radius of six miles, there is an insured population of 13,500, Of that total, no fewer than 3,500 men, women, boys, and girls are on the unemployment register, or about 26 per cent. During the past six months 200 men, married and single, have been provided with work in other parts of the country.
That is an extremely small number-200 out of 3,500. There is also this other aspect of the question to consider. I was rather impressed by a remark made by an hon. Member below the Gangway who asked the Minister of Labour to give a guarantee that miners would not be brought into his district to do any of the men there out of a job. I agree with him in that. It is most unfair to transfer miners to any part of the country to do other men out of a job, and if I know miners—and I think I do—they hate it themselves. They have been trained in that school that makes them not believe
in doing other men out of a job, and I am certain that they do not want to be transferred to any part of the country if it means that they are doing some men there out of a job.
Transference and training, in principle, are good under normal conditions, but we are considering here transference, not under normal conditions, but under abnormal conditions, and when the hon. Member below the gangway asked if we condemned the Government for transference, I will go to Wansbeck to-morrow night, and I will condemn the Government as hard as I can for their transference schemes, and when I have done that I shall have the Northumberland miners with me. I hope they will not vote for either the Liberal or the Tory candidate in the Wansbeck Division. The Government should remember that miners have been born into a colliery village, that they have grown up there, that they have been married there, that they have had their children there, and that to those men that colliery village is the most important part of the world. Some hon. Members may tell us that Canada and Australia are wonderful and beautiful places, but they are not to these men. The colliery villages in Durham are the best places in the world to these men, far better than Canada or Australia, and what ought to be done by the Government is not to spend money in transferring men either over the seas or to any other part of the country, but to set themselves to get the collieries back to work, to get the pits re-started, and to find these men employment in the places where they live.
In conclusion, I want to ask if there is any overlapping so far as this transference and training are concerned. I put a question the other day to the Noble Lord, the President of the Board of Education, and he told me that there was being paid out of the Lord Mayor's Fund something like £19,000 for transference, training, and maintenance. I should like to know if the Minister of Labour is going to tell us the number of men who have been transferred, trained, and maintained out of that sum, because it seems to me that there is some overlapping between the two funds. We desire to know how many men are being transferred, so that we may be able to judge how much it is helping us to solve this problem.
May I congratulate the Minister of Labour on having had, on this occasion, no fewer than three or four Members of his own party speaking in favour of his policy? It must be very refreshing to him to find that that is the case. I think one or two hon. Members of the party opposite were rather mistaken about the policy of my party. One hon. Member seemed to think that we are a group of dismal Desmonds. On the contrary, we are a fairly optimistic body of people, who realise that our opponents are making our case and that every development is proving that the unemployment problem is due to what we say it is due to, and that the only remedy for it is the remedy that we would apply—[HON MEMBERS: "What is that?"]—the remedy of the people of the nation owning the nation and managing the nation in the interests of the nation.
I am sorry that my readiness to give information led me to be out of order. Another hon. Gentleman said that we were like camels. [An HON. MEMBER: "Rabbits!"] I would get a new joke if I were the hon. Gentleman; "rats" would be better in his mouth. He said that we were like camels and have a grievance, and that when we saw an oasis we made for it. Is it not a sensible thing to make for an oasis when we see it in the desert? Would he prefer us to be like his party, like ostriches hiding our heads in the sand? Why should we give paeans of praise to the work of the Government when we see the condition of things in the country becoming slowly worse? Why should we not tell the truth? Why should we not face circumstances as they are? This Estimate is for the work of the Labour Ministry as a whole in tackling the problem of unemployment. It is the only work that has been done. There are tipsters who say that in future, when the Government have gone out of office, something that has been done will bring us benefit. They are very bad tipsters, for the work for which the Estimate provides is the only result of nearly five years of Tory Government.
Let us see what it is. We are told that a great work has been done in train- ing and in transferring. The Prime Minister, in a speech made recently, assumed that the work of transference had done a great deal to cure unemployment and was bound to do a great deal more. Let us see from the actual results of the Government's work whether what the Prime Minister said is justified, or whether what we say, namely, that things have become worse, is justified. We claim that the work of the Government, which is covered by this Estimate, is no cure for the problem which the method adopted by the Ministry of Labour are aimed to cure. Take the highest possible figure, as given by the Parliamentary Secretary this afternoon, that could possibly be hoped from the development of the scheme of transferring men to Canada. The most optimistic estimate could not go above 3,000 men and it would take over 500 years of that scheme to cure the problem. Simple figures do not need any argument to a man who understands figures.
This fact stands out: whatever number may be going, or whatever the Government are doing, unemployment is going up, and the full effects of the Government's work are shown by the fact that things get gradually worse. Optimistic statements are made, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman for North St. Pancras (Captain Fraser) wanted us to be optimistic, bright and cheery. How can we be bright and cheery in face of the facts? It is a foolish thing to adopt a smile and pretend that things do not exist when you know that they do exist.
Very well, we will please the hon. and gallant Gentleman by smiling, but we cannot please him by pretending that things are not as they are. We must take things as they are, and not make a pretence that they are different. In regard to internal transference, there are not sufficient new jobs being found to solve the problem in 5,000 years. We know that some thousands of men have been transferred from one part of the country to another, but they were transferred in thousands before the War. It was a natural part of the work of the Employment Exchanges to transfer workers from one part of the country to another, and up to now we have had no proof of any large number of new jobs being provided by the Government's action for the people who have been transferred.
The hon. Member for North Tottenham (Mr. It. Morrison) made a statement which, if true, is very serious. He said that a local authority and a board of guardians were complaining that these men are being sent to their area where they already have a considerable amount of unemployment. What a stupid thing it is to waste the country's money merely to take people from a district where there is 50 per cent. unemployment, to another where there is 10 per cent., until the two districts are finally balanced with 30 per cent. If the policy were one of transferring men to new jobs, one could appreciate and favour it, but there is no proof at all of any large number of new jobs being found. The figures of the registered unemployed prove my point up to the hilt. The fact of the matter is that, after nearly five years of the work of this Government, we are infinitely worse than when the Government came into office, not only in unemployment, but in wages.
The Parliamentary Secretary described what had been done by the Ministry in training. I should be the last man to decry training or to pretend that it was not a good thing. I believe that it is a good thing, and that the worst thing that can happen to a working man is to be about the streets with his pockets empty, with no work, becoming very dejected, and degenerating day by day. Lack of work is bad for anybody, and I would apply that as much to the duke's son as to the dustman's son. I would start at the top and see that every man in the country did a fair share of honest work, whoever he was. I do not complain about the training; I believe that it is some of the best work that the Minister is doing, but it is good in a moral sense rather than in an economic sense. When men are trained, unquestionably they will be better, because they will be able to use their hands and brains better, but the fact that they have been trained gives no guarantee of a reduction in the unemployment figures, because it is the highly skilled workers who are out of work. Men and women with most skill in handicraft are suffering most as a result of unemployment. Of course, training is good physically and mentally, and because it is good we certainly shall not raise any objection to its being carried on. We would help its development rather than attempt to cripple it in any way.
May I turn now to the question of the transference to the Dominions. I will begin by saying that personally I would do everything I could to develop the Empire. I am a confirmed believer in the Empire. I believe the British Empire can be made the greatest guarantee on earth, the greatest individual guarantee by virtue of its extent for the peace and prosperity of the world, and because I believe that I am keen on seeing that every step we take shall bind the different peoples together in the bonds of good fellowship and avoid anything which would in any way injure the Imperial feeling that binds the different parts of the Empire together. Canada, in itself, is a very wonderful country, and I reiterate the statement made by the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Taylor) that if I were a young man I should be tempted to go to Canada and take the risks. Having said that, what I have now to say in criticism of what has been done will, I hope, be taken as the expressions of a man who is criticising not out of any desire to hurt the Empire but out of a fervent and deep-seated desire to help it.
The truth of the matter is that we have to look certain facts in the face when we consider Canada. The only line on which we can really help to develop Canada is the line of people willing to go to people who are willing to receive them. On no other line and in no other way can we make the policy of emigration to Canada successful. If we try to transport to Canada large numbers of what are generally called skilled men we shall find the keenest opposition at once from Canada herself, not merely from the workers of Canada, who are afraid of being displaced, but from the Minister of Labour himself and official circles. Apparently, Canada has as many skilled men as she can absorb, and to talk of sending skilled men to Canada is worse than talking of sending coals to Newcastle he would do injury rather than good if we attempted it. Do not let us assume that because a Canadian belongs to the British Empire he is likely to fall on the emigrant's neck and kiss him. I have had the opportunity of talking with a large number of Canadian men and with numbers of people from my own little part of the country in the North of England, where we have always had the adventurous type of man and woman who has gone to Canada. From that small corner I have found some of my own people whom I can trust.
It is just as well to understand this, that in dealing with Canada we have to make a bargain, a friendly bargain, just as we should have to do with any other country. The greatest mistake is to let Canadians think that in some way we are trying to push on to them people we do not want here. We ought to be too proud to try to do it with anybody; and it is not merely a question of pride, it is a question of common sense. In dealing with Canada the last thing we should do is to give her the impression that we are trying to force our people upon her. We should realise this, that in our dealings with Canada we ought to expect, as we ought to give, a fair deal. In our present economic relations Canada does not come off at all badly. Roughly, for every pound a Canadian spends with us we spend £3 with him. Economically he is not doing very badly. I hope to see the time when that £3 will be made £6 on both sides, and anything that could be done to develop commercial intercourse between Canada and this country ought to be done. We ought to go much further out of our way to do it than we have up to the present. But in Canada itself the individual emigrant is asked to do things which the Canadian himself has either left or will not do. This fact ought never to be forgotten. The farms that our men are invited to go to in Nova Scotia are very largely farms that are left derelict by the Canadians themselves. The hon. and gallant Member for Dartford (Lieut.-Colonel McDonnell) pointed out the difference between the days of the old pioneers and the present time. He showed very eloquently the difference between the days when the pioneer moved in and took what he wanted and made the best of it and the present, when a man has to take what he can get. There is a great difference, and it is advisable that we should know the best way of dealing with the present position of affairs.
The Labour party believe that this country is just as much a part of the Empire as Canada. That fact very often seems to be forgotten. There are thousands of acres of water-logged land in this country which could be developed. There are any number of things in this country that could be developed. The imperialist whose only idea is how to develop the distant parts of the Empire and leave his own country uncultivated is a very curious imperialist. When we have developed our own land, when everything has been done, there will still be room, particularly in Canada, for a development which every party in this House ought to help. We are too apt in considering the question of imperial policy, to think that whatever one party proposes must be opposed by the other. It is the greatest mistake in the world, and I for one will welcome the day when a kind of House of Commons Committee will sit and consider, as far apart from party politics as it is possible to get, the best way of developing the Empire in the best interests of all the peoples of the Empire. Why not face a bigger scheme than we have ever dreamt of yet? What is the use of working on this piecemeal system?
Let me take, if I may-and I am not trying to criticise from the point of view of making party capital, because it seems to me that this is definitely above party polities—the harvester scheme and its result, 8,500 men went out; 6,414 returned, and the worst of it is that 3,000 of those who returned, instead of returning with savings, as they expected, returned with debts. I hope that those debts will not be allowed to hang round their necks like millstones. If a mistake was made, and it evidently was made; if the work was hurried and consequently spoiled, as unquestionably it was, I hope that these men will have these debts taken off their shoulders, and will not be allowed to remain unemployed and, at the same time, have a burden of debts hanging over them, making their lives worse than they are now.
I say that the thing has been hurried and has been imperfectly carried out. One or two examples will show what I mean. We were informed by a responsible member of one of the Provincial Governments that the men had actually arrived in his province before he knew anything about them, and he had to put in hand arrangements for getting them into work after they had arrived in his province. We had, over and over again in Winnipeg, cases where men had been sent to jobs, only to find that the jobs were not there. Obviously, the thing had been hurried. Is it not possible to think of a new method of developing Canada? I want, in the few minutes at my disposal, to put before the Committee one or two ideas that I think are worthy of consideration. Take the case of a possible Peace River Settlement in Canada. Would it not be possible, by an arrangement between the two Governments, to try to develop that part of Canada, not by individual settlers going out, one or two at a time, but in another way? With the present state of unemployment in our country there must be thousands of sturdy, strong men, willing to go out. Would it not be possible to develop such a big area as that which I have mentioned on such lines that men would live close together, so that one might help the other, and, by virtue of the numbers sent out, would have the advantages of machinery co-operatively owned by the men, and, in addition, the possibility of making use of transport in quite a different way from that in use in the case of individual settlers? Also, there would be some degree of social life which would be quite impossible under the old scheme. A scheme of that kind, if possible, would be well worth the money that this country would spend on it. It would be a common-sense way of developing Canada, and it would do infinitely more good than any piecemeal system arranged to take individual men on "spec" to problematical jobs.
After all, as far as I could gain information from the people I met, it is a very large speculation on the part of any man to go out to Canada—even the best and strongest of men. The Canadian winters are very rigorous, and I would not advise any working man friend of mine to go out to Canada, unless, first of all, he knew to what he was going out, or unless he had enough money and sufficient clothing to carry him through one winter. I would not advise any friend of mine to go out and take up a lot or a part of a lot and try himself to farm at once. I would advise any young man, however, fond of an open air life and beautiful country, to go out and take up work with a farmer until he learns the work he is going to do. He would be able afterwards to branch out himself. We ought to adopt a system of emigration on such a scale that a wide area could be developed in a co-operative way, because, by co-operative methods only can the best results be obtained. I do not want to weary the Committee with an example which I have given on former occasions, but when one considers the question of agriculture in this country, and sees what can be done in another country not many hours away by men on the land co-operating and helping each other, one can see the difference.
We want to try to branch out in emigration. There are thousands of men who want to go. There is no better way in which the country can spend its money than by an experiment on this large scale, and there is no better way of developing Canada than in this way. After all, ours is a very highly industrialised country. We have, willy-nilly, to find our raw materials and nearly all our food from other parts of the world. Most of us—I think all of us—would prefer to find these things as far as we can from the people we know best, from the people of our own Empire. Why not? The man who is not proud of his own country, and does not want to see his own country and Empire flourish, must be a very curious man. How best can we attain the end which we all have in view? I suggest that we can best attain it by big scale work and the closest co-operation between the Governments. The worst thing that could happen would be that the idea should get abroad in Canada that there are a number of people in this country not particularly fond of work who want to go out there and be a burden on that country. It is no use denying the fact that there are parts of Canada where one hears language that is not English and not French either. There are places in the prairie Provinces where you can hear more Polish than you can hear English. We have to face these facts and how best to deal with them. I suggest that the bigger the way we deal with them the better we are likely to succeed.
Having said that, let me turn to the principal reason for our opposing this Estimate and the reason why we shall go into the Lobby against it. The Labour Ministry and its work must be judged, not on what it says but on what it does. We find that the position of affairs is gradually getting worse and not better. We find that any estimate we may take, even the most favourable estimate, on the statements of the Minister himself, merely touches the question of unemployment with a feather duster. There is no hope at all in the schemes under this Estimate of diminishing our unemployment problem, and consequently we must go into the Lobby against the Estimate.
I am sure there is no one in this Committee, whether he agrees with the right hon. Gentleman or not in other respects, who does not appreciate the spirit in which he has spoken this evening as regards the possibility of the development of our connection with the Dominions Overseas by the transference of population overseas, endeavouring to do so in harmony with the Government of the Dominion to which they may be going. As regards that, I would be the first to say that on this, as on a previous occasion, we on this side of the Committee are very sensible of the spirit in which the right hon. Gentleman has spoken, and we agree with him. On the other hand—I will deal with the question of migration in a moment—he says that he and the party behind him are bound to go into the Lobby to-night against this Estimate, because they do not consider that it represents in any way a serious attempt to deal with the unemployment problem. That would be a perfectly possible attitude to take up it in this Estimate which we are putting forward were the whole of the Government's policy with regard to unemployment. [AN HON. MEMBER: "What else have you got?"] The hon. Member must have been absent during the whole of the Debate before Christmas, or he would have known that what we are discussing to-night, as has been shown in rulings from the Chair, is not the whole of the unemployment problem. On three particular points of the Government's policy with regard to unemployment, it has been necessary to come to the Committee for more money, and therefore what the Committee have to judge to-night is not whether those three particular points by themselves are adequate or not, because no one on either side of the Committee would ever pretend that they were, but whether those three points taken in themselves are matters on which we as the Government have the confidence of the Committee and of the country.
Let me take the three points in order, because it is on the merits of them that we shall stand to be judged to-night. The first is the movement of harvesters to Canada last summer. Let me deal with this question briefly and, I trust, accurately, and put before the Committee the broad outline of what the harvester problem really was, so that they may judge how it was tackled. What are the conditions out there? Those hon. Members who went out there last summer, and other hon. Members who, like myself, have been in Canada on previous occasions, know quite well what the growing of crops is like in all that great prairie country in the west of Canada. You cannot tell a long time in advance whether the crop is going to be a good one or a bad one. It varies very greatly from year to year. You cannot tell very long in advance at what date labour will be wanted for it. You have to be able to get your labour rapidly; and, even when it gets upon the spot, it may be that bad weather or a frost may defer the date of harvest for some days after the date on which the farmer himself, only a week before, may have thought harvest would begin. Those are the conditions under which a crop is harvested in the west of Canada, and those are the conditions which have to be met if labour is sent there to help in the harvesting.
Anyone who knows that country knows that the work of stooking, particularly, is exceedingly hard work, with long hours. It must be so, under the conditions ruling out there. Many members of the population out West, professional men, ministers and others, have done stooking in their time. During the War all of them took a hand. They all tell you that, especially to men who have not been continually at work in agriculture, it is back-breaking work for the first two or three days; but that if people were able to stick it out for the first two, three, or four days, they got accustomed to it. The feeding was good, it was work in the open-air, and, after a comparatively short time—this is what they say themselves— they laughed at the memory of the first two or three hard days. Those are the conditions, and I must ask the Committee to look at the situation from a practical point of view. It is not really possible to place each man in a precise job beforehand, in his actual niche, as it is in a country like this, where in the transference of miners we do find the precise job into which a man goes before transferring him. Obviously, that is not possible and everyone who knows the country knows that it is rot possible in Canada. All that can be done is to determine as nearly as possible beforehand the particular district, railhead, or station where a number of men will be wanted, and to get them to go there. The work of harvesting may be delayed, and perhaps during a day or two the men will be given standby wages until the actual work of harvesting and stooking begins. Those are roughly the conditions.
What happened last year? First of all, I would like to pay my own tribute to the Imperial spirit, the sympathy and in fact the generosity of spirit shown by the Canadian Government in collaborating with us in a scheme to bring British citizens out to work in the harvest in Canada. There was no obligation on the Canadian Government to do that, and they could have got labour without having to send for it across the ocean. They could have got it from the Eastern States or across the border. We all know what happens during the hop-picking season in Kent. The hop-pickers wait until the hops are ready, and then there is a sudden outflow of people from all parts. In Scotland, they wait until the raspberries are ripe, and then you get an outflow of those people who are ready to do the work. The Canadian Government could have acted in a similar way if they had wished to do so, but they desired to have British citizens, because they might find among them good settlers who would be willing to stay in the West. I am glad that they want to get people of British blood to stay in Canada. It must not be forgotten that, in adopting this attitude, the Canadian Government were running the risk of criticism from within their own country, and that shows something of the spirit in which the Canadian Government have met us.
I have heard a number of hard words to-night as to the arrangements for send- ing out these men to Canada being hurried and muddled, and it has been said that we should have taken the matter in hand earlier and that all the arrangements should have been made in good time. I quite agree with that statement. My Department made inquiries as much as four and five weeks before the word to go was given to us, and before we were allowed to make any arrangements. The word to go was not given to us until 4th August, and that was the Saturday before Bank Holiday. Up to that time, we did not know whether the people would be wanted, and we could not proceed to select them. I do not blame the Canadian Government a bit—far from it. It was a venturesome thing for them to do, and it must have been extraordinarily difficult for them to arrange matters; and, if I may say so, to criticise the delay in this case, as was done by the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. J. Hudson), and by the hon. Member for Clay Cross (Mr. Duncan), was extraordinarily ungenerous towards the Canadian Government after the way in which they acted.
So far as we were concerned, we had made inquiries for the previous five weeks, which would have been ample time. As it was, the word "Go" was given to us on the 4th August, and the last ship left for Canada on the 18th August. I put it to anyone in this Committee, is it conceivable that you should not get some misfits? I myself was away at the time ill, but I say here again that it was an extremely fine performance—the selection and the organising of 8,500 men in only 14 days, including Sundays and the Bank Holiday. Notice was given on the Saturday, and there were only 14 days in all between the day on which notice was given to us that we could act and the day on which the last ship sailed with the last of the 8,500 men.
We have been criticised because some of the men were unsuitable. So they were. There was a small percentage—about 5 per cent. I think it would be—who were thoroughly unsuitable. A certain small percentage never went out meaning to make good at all; they were thoroughly unsuitable. All I can say is that those cases which were brought up to me were cases of men who physically were not fit. They were passed by the Canadian medical officers, but, again, I do not complain for a moment. The Canadian medical officers were pressed beyond endurance in testing the men, and to criticise them too much seems to me, again, not to show very great generosity in response to the opportunity that was given to this country. I do say that in these circumstances, if anyone makes a charge against the way in which the organisation was carried on in this country, they have not a leg to stand on when it comes to the point of proof. [Interruption.] No man went out there pledged to permanency; it was a harvesting scheme. A quarter of them, of their own good will, stayed in the country. A large proportion more are anxious to go out again, and those have nothing but good to say of the reception which they were given by everyone out there. A certain proportion came back. Some of them, no doubt, failed. Some of them, I quite agree, did not make good, and a very considerable proportion, I know, asked to be given their passages back, but also had money at the same time, which had been earned but which was not disclosed. Those are the actual facts of the case. I admit at once that it is perfectly clear that, if this thing has been once done, it will be done better on the second occasion—
Any human being knows that, when you have to organise a very large body of men in ten days, obviously the second time you do the same thing it will be possible to do it better. I know there are some parts of it that were not perfect, and those parts of it might be improved. People would understand better, to start with, how hard the first two or three days' work was. For that to be clearly understood would be a good thing. They would go out prepared for it. They would go out knowing that it would be very hard for two or three days, but knowing that after they had stuck it for those two or three days things would be better. They would know quite well that it would not be like going into a job where the employment would be ready at a given moment. In those respects, an improvement can quite well be made another time. You have 8,500 men at ten days' notice sent out organised for a temporary job and a quarter of them stay behind of their own will and another large proportion is ready to go out again. It is said that is not a testimony of decent organisation. If ever a Labour Government comes into power I should like to see it equalled by anything that it can do.
The other point that appears in this Estimate on which there has been criticism is with regard to training centres. I hear from some hon. Members opposite criticism and from others praise of these centres. I do not know on what ground hon. Members opposite are going into the Lobby, whether they disapprove of the training centres for home work or for going overseas. One hon. Member who spoke earlier said men from these institutional centres were used to cut rates for work in the locality. There is no truth whatsoever in any assertion of that kind, which they are so ready to make.
I will give instances from replies to questions put by myself. The right hon. Gentleman has given one instance, if not more, where men from these institutional training centres were placed at rates of wages threepence an hour less than the district rate.
I am now dealing with training centres. The hon. Member has said two things. He now says rates are cut. He said a little earlier that men who are sent out from training centres are not handicraftmen and, therefore, do not properly belong to the trade, for example, with which he is most familiar. I have never said for a moment that, if we get a person who has been out of work for two or three years, we can turn him into a skilled craftsman in any of the more skilled trades in four or five months. I agree at once that you can turn him out a handyman. There is an entire difference between jobs of work for a skilled man and jobs for an ordinary handy-man. Again, if you do not theorise but get down to the facts of life there are all sorts of jobs of work which are not jobs for a skilled man, which would never be done if it had to be done by a skilled man, and for which an ordinary handyman is perfectly suitable. To that extent, it makes employment where employment would not be given before. Once a man is skilled enough to be taken on as a skilled man—
I desire that the right hon. Gentleman should quote me correctly. I said that it had a tendency to depress wages amongst the other operatives. That is the net effect of it.
It cannot be the net effect when there is a difference between skilled work and non-skilled work. That is the whole point that I made. On the other hand, the moment that the hon. Member will accept these men as skilled workmen, I am the best pleased. I never wish to cut the rates of skilled workmen. We are told that it is not fair to the trainee. All I can say in answer to that statement is this, and it is quite conclusive, that we have men out of work who are waiting for every vacancy in the training institutions and ready to fill them as soon as they become vacant. As regards the good that it does to them the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
That witty remark of the hon. Member has a great deal more truth in it than he imagines. Here are men, most of whom had been out of work for a long period before they came to be trained. I have taken the records of the whole of the men who have passed through the training institutions, and at any one moment there are always from 87 to 92 per cent. at work: men who had been out of work for a year, 18 months or two years previously. Therefore, it is a case, as the hon. Member for Clay Cross says, of giving them pudding. It is giving from 87 to 92 per cent. of men work regularly, whereas they had not had work regularly for two years before. These are the results of the training institutions and these are the reasons why we come to the Committee to-night to ask for more money, in order that we may extend them. We have been extending them rapidly both for home work and for overseas. For home work in the last two years the capacity of the output has increased from 2,000 a year to 6,000 a year. For work overseas the places have increased from about 500 to about 2,800. That shows the development of the work that we have performed, and I would claim that on either count, both for work at home and in respect of training for agricultural work in the Dominions, the service that we have done and that we are continuing to do, is one certain way of meeting the unemployment problem.
The right hon. Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw) took a very easy line of criticism. He took one particular item, and then he treated it as though we intended to cure the whole unemployment problem by means of that one part of Government action. It is a very easy and a very fallacious method of treatment. What I wish to put before the Committee is the ordinary common sense view, which is that you cannot treat unemployment, even to mitigate it, by any one method. You have to attack it from many sides. You can mitigate the effects of it and lessen it by your training institutions for home employment. You can mitigate it by the system of transference. You can also mitigate it by training which enables you to place more men quickly in the best possible way overseas. Let me pass to the problem of transference. It has been attacked to-day as I imagined it would be. I ask the Committee once again to get away from prejudice and to consider the whole facts of the case openly. If they are considered openly it is found that they are absolutely and overwhelmingly in favour of the policy of transference. On the one hand you have the great mining areas, where, we are all agreed, there will be a minimum of from 200,000 to 250,000 miners and other people whose living is dependent on mining prosperity, permanently surplus.
I will have the quotation produced. I ask everyone else in the Committee except the hon. Member to realise that there are from 200,000 to 250,000 men in the mining districts for whom there is no reasonable likelihood that mining work will ever be available again.
There is a consensus of opinion that for those people provision must be found. As against that surplus of 200,000 to 250,000, what do we find in other districts of the country? An important feature about unemployment is that it is not uniform. It is an overwhelmingly heavy burden in the mining district, and is a heavy burden in other districts, but there are portions of the country in which unemployment is light and districts which enjoy a marked degree of prosperity.
There are districts where unemployment is light and districts which enjoy a marked degree of prosperity—districts into which there is an inflow of population taking place in any case. The hon. Member doubtless was not here when the Parliamentary Secretary gave the instances of certain towns, in opening this Debate. I shall refer once again to Greater London as the special instance. During the last five years there has been an increase in the insured population in Greater London of 200,000 persons. The great majority of these are the inflow from outside which is taking place in any case. During those five years the unemployment percentage in London has gone down steadily from 9½ per cent., first to 8½ per cent., then to a little under 8 per cent., then to something over 6 per cent., until the last figure for the last year was 5½ per cent. Unemployment has been practically halved during these five years while the insured population of comparable ages has increased by 200,000—a number, in itself, very nearly equal to the whole of the surplus population in the mining districts. These facts are indisputable.
If hon. Members opposite do not accept the official figures they will accept nothing that is true. [Interruption.] These are published figures which are beyond dispute, and to anyone who wishes to treat this problem not merely by using it for debating purposes—[HON. MEMBERS: "You are!"]—but as an administrative problem, the inference is obvious. Here you have 200,000 men for whom provision has to be made. Here you have great areas where the present degree of unemployment is infinitely small compared with what it is in the mining districts—areas into which an inflow is taking place in any event. Is it not common sense as well as common humanity to canalise the inflow, to see that the inflow which will come there anyhow, shall be so directed as to afford the greatest relief to the districts which are most in need? It seems to me that the case is so clear that anyone who is willing to keep his eyes open to the real needs of the situation must admit it. It was admitted by the Industrial Transference Board and by the Labour party in their official publication. [HON. MEMBERS: "Quote!"] I have the document here, and I find that among their methods of dealing with unemployment is transference and the migration of unemployed persons. It also says:
The pressure of unemployment on the coalfields must be relieved, among other items by assisting the migration of miners into other districts and other suitable occupations.
Any responsible body of men who really want to deal with this problem must know perfectly well that this is the commonsense way of relieving the situation. I am told that I am dealing with it for party or debating purposes. The mining Members opposite know quite well that if either I, as a Member of the Government, or the Government wished to bring forward something which would not excite opposition, which could not be easily distorted, which could not be used against them by unscrupulous people, we would not have brought forward this scheme. We know quite well the use that might obviously be made of it although the justice of it cannot be questioned. Our motive for doing it can only be the motive of helping the mining districts.
I must ask the hon. Member not to remain standing while I am standing. It is against the Rules of the House for an hon. Member, stating that he is raising a point of Order, to address a question to the Minister either directly or to the Chair. It is not a point of Order.
Is the right hon. Gentleman in order in stating that the trade unions shall have the opportunity of saying what is or what is not reasonable work when he has never consulted any of them?
May I resume on the question of the transference of miners? The position is a very serious one. The case for transference is absolutely dear and overwhelming. There is a population coming into the southern districts where unemployment is light for the most part. There is an equal number of miners who need to be transferred and many of whom wish to be transferred. [Interruption.]
I can reassure hon. Members opposite in two respects. In no case whatever in the Midlands and Southern districts to which they are transferred, are any men turned out to make room for miners. In no case, do we do that. In every case, we get a job, and we offer men the work at the current rate of the job, and not less. If any unscrupulous employer brings in a man to do it for less, I do not abet or aid or encourage it. In no circumstances do I offer less than the current rate of the job; so that from both those points of view the case is properly dealt with, as well as being overwhelming in principle. What I ask the miners' Members is this. The justice of it is beyond question. This is the way recommended by all responsible people for giving relief to large numbers, and I ask the miners' Members on that side what their attitude will be. We are doing this to help the people for whom they speak and whom they say they represent. Are they going to help us, or are they not? If they do not, I am trying to do a work which I know quite well is—
In the last two minutes that remain, I once again put this case before those who represent the miners, and I ask them whether they will help us in contradicting the misrepresentations that take place, in helping their own men, in helping us to carry out an administrative work undertaken purely and simply in the interests of the men in the areas from which they come. There is nothing else which can help them to the same extent. It is a policy in itself, for which, as I say, there is an absolutely overwhelming case, and I am quite sure that their own faithfulness to the men they claim to represent will be shown more clearly than by anything else by the way in which they will take courage and help us to pursue a policy meant for no other purpose than to help the men in the districts from which they come.
I want to ask the Minister of Labour whether he does not recognise the responsibility of the Government for more than half the unemployment in the mining areas, which was prophesied would be the result of a return to the eight hours day. They are guilty, and these are their victims. It is cant and
|Division No. 190.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Batey, Joseph||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Scurr, John|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Bellamy, A.||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Shinwell, E.|
|Benn, Wedgwood||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Broad, F. A.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Bromley, J.||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Kennedy, T.||Snell, Harry|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Lawrence, Susan||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Lawson, John James||Strauss, E. A.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lee, F.||Taylor, R. A.|
|Clark, A. B.||Lindley, F. W.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lowth, T.||Tomilnson, R. P.|
|Day, Harry||Lunn, William||Townend, A. E.|
|Duncan, C.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon)||Viant, S. P.|
|Edge, Sir William||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Gillett, George M.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Welsh, J. C.|
|Groves, T.||Mosley, Sir Oswald||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanten)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Potts, John S.||Wright, W.|
|Hardie, George D.||Purcell, A. A.|
|Hayes, John Henry||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hirst, G. H.||Sakiatvaia, Shapurji||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Paling.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Cooper, A. Duff||Hills, Major John Walter|
|Albery, Irving James||Cope, Major Sir William||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman||Couper, J. B.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Hopkins, J W. W.|
|Apsley, Lord||Crookshank,Cpt.H.(Lindsey,Gainsbro)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Atkinson, C.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset,Yeovil)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney,N.)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Balniel, Lord||Dixey, A. C.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer|
|Barclay Harvey, C. M.||Eden, Captain Anthony||Hurst, Gerald B.|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Bennett, A. J.||Ellis, R. G.||Jones, Sir G. W. H.(Stoke New'gton)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||King, Commodore Henry Douglas|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Bevan, S. J.||Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Fermoy, Lord||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Locker-Lampson, Com.O. (Handsw'th)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Fraser, Captain Ian||Loder, J. de V.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Frece, Sir Walter de||Long, Major Eric|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Looker, Herbert William|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Ganzoni, Sir John||Lougher, Lewis|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Gates, Percy||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Herman|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Lumlay, L. R.|
|Brawn, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Gower, Sir Robert||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen|
|Buchan, John||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)|
|Barman, J. B.||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus|
|Campbell, E. T.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Maclntyre, Ian|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Greenwood, Rt.Hn.Sir H. (W'th's'w, E)||McLean, Major A.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Granfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-|
|Christie, J. A.||Hacking, Douglas H.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hanbury, C.||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Harland, A.||Marriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totaes)||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Sandeman, N. Stewart||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Moore, Sir Newton J.||Sanders, Sir Robert A.||Waddington, R.|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Ward, Lt.-Col.A.L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Sandon, Lord||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Neville, Sir Reginald J.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Savery, S. S.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Skelton, A N.||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)||Wells, S. R.|
|O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dlne, C.)||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple-|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Willlams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Smithers, Waldron||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Philipson, Mabel||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Plicher, G.||Storry-Deans, R.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Pownall, Sir Assheton||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Raine, Sir Walter||Streatfelld, Captain S. R.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Reid, Cap. Cunningham(Warrington)||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Remer, J. R.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C|
|Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)|
|Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Tasker, R. Inigo|
|Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Rye, F. G.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-||Captain Bowyer and Mr. Penny.|
|Salmon, Major I.||Tinne, J. A.|
Original Question put, and agreed to.