asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he is aware that Mr. J. Smith, residing at Cathcart Road, Glasgow, about 18 months ago paid to Messrs. Moses Buchanan and Company, shipping agents, Glasgow, the full passage money for the return of his son John to this country from Australia; that, despite this payment and the fact that his son has a first-class character, he has been refused permission to return; whether he has made inquiry as to the reason, seeing that this man went out under a Government scheme; and whether he will take steps to see that he is allowed to return home to Glasgow and his parents?
The SECRETARY of STATE for DOMINION AFFAIRS (Mr. J. H. Thomas):
The facts stated in the first and second parts of the question are, I understand, correct. As regards the remainder of the question, one of the conditions on which Mr. Smith, junior, was assisted to go to Australia in 1926 was that he should in due course refund the sum of £11 which had been advanced to him towards the cost of his reduced passage rate. I am informed by the Commonwealth authorities that, although he has been in Government employment in Australia for the last seven years and should have been in a position to repay this sum, he has as yet only repaid £1, and that, in the circumstances, they are not prepared to waive their claim and to grant a clearance certificate before the outstanding amount of £10 has been refunded.
Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that this man was unemployed for some considerable time and had to be helped by members of his family at home and that that is the reason why the fare was paid; and will he again make inquiry to see whether the man is in constant employment and, if so, why the authorities do not take action as they do in the ordinary course against other debtors and sue him in the courts in Australia?
I will Make inquiries with regard to other questions put by my hon. Friend, but there is no doubt that the man was employed for seven years by the Government and it seems a strange circumstance that in that seven years he could not pay back the £11.