(1) It shall be lawful for the Secretary of State, in association with the Government of any part of His Majesty's Dominions, or with public authorities or public or private organisations either in the United Kingdom or in any part of such Dominions, to formulate and co-operate in carrying out agreed schemes for affording joint assistance to suitable persons in the United Kingdom who intend to settle in any part of His Majesty's Oversea Dominions.
(a) the Secretary of State shall not agree to any scheme without the consent of the Treasury, who shall be satisfied that the contributions of the Government, authority, or organisation with whom the scheme is agreed towards the expenses of the scheme bear a proper relation to the contribution of the Secretary of State; and (b) the contribution of the Secretary of State shall not in any case exceed half the expenses of the scheme; and (c) the liability of the Secretary of State to make contributions under the scheme shall not extend beyond a period of fifteen years after the passing of this Act.
(4) Any expenses of the Secretary of State under this Act shall be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament:
Provided that the aggregate amount expended by the Secretary of State under any scheme or schemes under this Act shall not exceed one million five hundred thousand pounds in the financial year current at the date of the passing of this Act, or three million pounds in any subsequent financial year, exclusive of the amount of any sums received by way of interest on or repayment of advances previously made.
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words
The Bill, as it stands at present, provides that"or private."
The Government, if this Amendment be adopted, will still be free to co-operate with foreign Governments or public organisations or public authorities, but will not be able to deal with private organisations. It is true that in this Bill there are £3,000,000 a year to spend, but I think that that money will be quite easily spent in connection with schemes where the co-operation is with public authorities or public organisations, without spending money on co-operation—and a somewhat dangerous co-operation —with private organisations, Over and over again we have seen, particularly in connection with emigration, the actual effect of some of these private organisations dealing with emigration. After the War there was a great scheme for emigrating ex-officers to Kenya. Many of these officers bitterly regret that they were sent out to East Africa. In that case there was, I think, co-operation between the Colonial authority and with a private organisation. There are worse cases than this, too. There are many cases of land settlement where the land to be settled was either derelict or marshy or utterly unsuitable for settlement. People who have gone in for speculation on the other side would be delighted if they could get the co-operation of the Government in planting unfortunate settlers upon that particular sort of land. There is the standard case of Martin Chuzzlewit, who picked up a "back section," somewhere in the United States, which was not worth the money. We do want to see that the schemes brought forward are started with the best possible chance for the community, and not as a speculative chance for some private organisation. So long as you allow private profit to come in in connection with these schemes, it is undoubtedly true you get an undesirable element introduced. My principal desire in this Amendment is to prevent any opportunity of private profit coming in in connection with these emigration schemes."It shall be lawful for the Secretary of State, in association with the Government of any part of His Majesty's Dominions, or with public authorities or public or private organisations either in the United Kingdom or in any part of such Dominions, to formulate and co-operate."
I beg to second the Amendment.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman said one thing with which I am in entire agreement, and that is that the object of any scheme in which we co-operate should be to give the best possible chance to the settler, and not to act merely as an opportunity for the enrichment of private interests. In every scheme that may be put forward that is the whole object, and we shall judge the scheme as to whether or not it will offer a settler from this country a fair chance of making good. Will the terms be such as from the settler's point of view will not overload him with heavy capital expenditure and will give him a fair chance? Apart from that I think it would be undesirable to restrict the liberty of the Government in dealing with these matters to act in co-operation only with Governments or public organisations. There may be very useful and helpful private organisations with whom or through whom we may co-operate. Still, I may flay as a general rule, what we contemplate is certainly not participation directly in commercial companies or in any form of commercial development. This we may, broadly speaking, rule out. It may, and I think it very often will happen, however, that there will be cases in which a Dominion or provincial Government or public authority may say that there are certain schemes which a private organisation is willing to work, and if all the conditions of such schemes are favourable to the settler we might agree to utilise such a body as the best administrative organisation through which assistance can be given both by ourselves and other public authorities. I have in my mind at this moment a very admirable private organisation in Australia, which is run on business lines but whose sole object is to promote settlement in Australia. The scheme under which it works is one by which the very best is done for the settlers. We should be very foolish if we precluded ourselves from dealing with organisations of that sort and thus preventing them from securing assistance from the local State Government, say, in Australia on the understanding that we should co-operate to some extent in the work. It would be dangerous to the interests of the settlers that we should tie our hands to such an extent. Whenever a Government or public authority comes forward with good schemes they would naturally be the ones with which we should deal first of all; nor should we take up any settlement scheme with any private organisation which had not the approval and guarantee of its Government, which must know more about the conditions out there, both as to the reputability of its promoters, the character of the land, and the whole scheme of settlement. There, again, as with regard to the previous Amendment, I would ask the House to extend, at any rate, some measure of confidence to those who are going to administer the scheme.
I beg to move, in Sub-section (3), after the word"that" ["Provided that"] to insert the words
Among the provisos which the Secretary of State shall consider, I wish to see this one. It may, at first sight, seem to be similar to the Amendment we have just discussed, but it is not entirely so, however, because there are some colonies, both Crown colonies and self-governing colonies, which are able to put forward schemes under which the land is open to the settler without any private owner having to be compensated in connection with them. At the present moment the schemes principally before the House have been the scheme in Western Australia, and the irrigation scheme, the Darling Valley in New South Wales. There are also prospects of a scheme in the Northern Territory. In all these cases the land is either already, or is going to become, the property of the Government of the State, or the Government of Australia. Under all these schemes, therefore, this proviso would be met. The settler would not have to pay for the land upon which he was settled. He might have to pay an annual rent for the cost of the water supply under the irrigation scheme in the Darling Valley, but under normal circumstances he would not be saddled with rent for his new land. The same applies to Rhodesia and some of the African colonies, such as Nyassaland. There you have state land, public land, available for the settler. It is true that the settler might, in some cases, have to pay a rent, but whatever he did pay would go to the State and not to a private individual. If you are going to keep these schemes clear altogether of private profit you must see that the principal element in them, the land, is not acquired to the enormous advantage of certain private profiteers. We do not want emigration schemes mixed up anywhere with private land speculation. It may be said that if this Amendment were carried it would be quite impossible to have any scheme of land settlement in Canada. That is not so. If the Amendment were carried, any scheme in Canada would have to be in connection either with alternate blocks on the Northern Pacific which have not been taken up, or in connection with the land which has been acquired by the Canadian Government, and which the Canadian Government would then pass on to the emigration scheme. The proposed proviso is an admirable one because the Canadian Government would then itself be dealing with the private landowners in Canada, and would not leave it to the Colonial Office in this country or to the private organisations with which the Colonial Office might be working, to go into the open market and make a purchase of land at prices which would often be far from remunerative to the settlement scheme. It is very well known that the Canadian Government, in dealing with land such as this or with railways, have driven bargains which the owners of the property thought were very hard. The harder the bargain the better for the settler, and I would far rather see the bargain driven by the Canadian Government, even though it were similar to that driven with the Grand Trunk Railway, than leave it to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty and the experts to go into the market and buy up land, paying a price that would strangle a scheme at its inception instead of allowing a profit to be made by the settler."(a) the Secretary of State shall not agree to any scheme which involves the purchase or leasing of land from private persons."
I beg to second the Amendment.
The hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne (Colonel Wedgwood) who moved this Amendment appears to be unconscious that, if it, were carried, its effect would be to prevent the attainment of the objects which he desires to see achieved. If he will look at the Bill, he will see that an agreed scheme may be made with the Government of any part of His Majesty's Dominions, and it is quite possible that if these words were inserted they would prevent the Secretary of State for the Colonies obtaining, in cooperation with and under the advice of the Government of one of the Dominions, from acquiring suitable land for settlers, simply because that land happened to be private property. All these limitations which are proposed, though most excellent, will hamper the hands of the Secretary of State. If we cast our minds forward for 15 years, it is impossible to say what developments may take place and what the position may be here or in the Dominions. If this scheme is to have a chance of success, we ought to give the Secretary of State for the Colonies as free a hand as possible, in order that he may not be tripped up here and there by limiting words. Therefore, I hope the Government will not agree to this Amendment which, although I quite sympathise with the excellent objects of its Mover, will prove a pitfall in the long run.
My hon. Friend who has just spoken has supplied one very strong objection to this Amendment. It is an Amendment which ties not so much our hands as the hands of any Dominion Government with which we may have to do business. I would say, with regard to this Amendment, exactly what I said about previous ones. What we are con- cerned with is the success of the settler, and that success depends upon two things. One is that land should be reasonably cheap, and the second is that the settler should have reasonably easy access to his market. The latter is, from the point of view of most people who have anything to do with settlement, even more important than the price of the land itself. I remember years ago in Canada being told by a. man of great experience in settlement that there is no land in Canada so dear as free land which is many miles from the railway. It is no kindness to the settler to preclude him from getting a piece of land, even if he has to pay some small consideration for it, within a few miles of the railway, and to ask him to takegratis a piece of land 50 miles away. Even with regard to free land, it is not free by the time it has been cleared. A piece of prairie land at £;2 or £;3an acre is far cheaper than a free gift of the same area standing under thick timber, which may have to be cleared at great expense before it becomes productive. I agree with the hon. Member for the Kirkdale Division of Liverpool (Mr. Pennefather) that you must leave the matter to the judgment of the Government concerned. What did the Canadian Government do when they were dealing with men whom they were particularly anxious to benefit—the Canadian ex-service men, for whom the entire people of Canada were very anxious to get the best possible settlement? The Canadian Government did not settle them on the uninhabited back lands. To a very large extent these men were placed in more settled parts of the country, wherever a suitable farm happened to be vacant or was not utilised. The Government went as far as to pay up to £1,000 for farms for ex-service men, knowing that a man settled under good conditions would be far more capable of repaying that £1,000 in a few years than a man who was settled in a place where he could not get access to a market would be of repaying £100.
Supposing a man has not got £1,000?
It depends on the Government policy if they will advance the money. Surely, in this matter, we cannot drag in all our prejudices against anybody ever making a private profit. It is not only a question of land; the settler will want a house, agricultural implements, cattle and stock. Are you going to preclude him from ever having a house built by a private contractor or from buying ploughs from a private firm? What is the final object of this Measure? It is to enable the settler to make private profits himself. I think really, looking at it under present conditions and not from the point of view of theoretical objections to all private profit, that it would be most unwise to accept this Amendment.
It seems to me that the hon. Member for Kirkdale (Mr. Pennefather) as well as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty has not altogether read the Bill aright. The hon. Member for Kirkdale said that the Government were under an obligation to act with the Dominion Governments. I do not see that in the Bill.
I did not say that. What I did say was that an agreed scheme might be made with a Dominion Government.
It might be agreed between the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty and a private corporation in Australia or Canada. I take it that this Amendment is to prevent that, and to impose on the hon. Gentleman, or whoever acts in this case, an obligation to act with the Dominion Government. That is a safeguard for the settler.
This Amendment is intended to prevent these people making profits out of the taxpayers' money. One of the cases coining forward will be schemes drawn up in connection with the Canadian Pacific Railway. We want to put the settlers in those countries on a sound footing, and not start them handicapped by a heavy purchase in favour of some public company which would do its best to make profit out of the taxpayer.
With the permission of the House, I should like to deal with that point. The Amendment would preclude co-operation with Dominion Governments or public authorities in dealing with any land bought by them. It is quite true that under the Bill we are authorised to deal with a private organisation, but we should not do that unless we had satisfied ourselves that such a course had the approval of the public authorities in the Dominion concerned, and that it was wholly and directly in the interests of the settlers concerned. On these grounds, I hope the Amendment will not be pressed.
I beg to move, in Sub-section (3,c), to leave out the word "fifteen," and to insert instead thereof the word "five."Under this scheme the Secretary of State may make contributions up to 15 years from now. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty 15 years hence may not be in charge, and other people may take his place, and, therefore, I do not think we are wise in tying the hands of his successors to continue these schemes for 15 years. Under these schemes the hon Gentle-Man is going to make considerable advances for a period of years. There is no reason why the repayments should not be spread over a long period, but what we may justly fear is that at the end of 15 years we may find ourselves carrying on schemes involving the people of this country with a very heavy burden and not resulting in the satisfactory settlement of these people in the Dominions across the seas. We shall want to revise these schemes very care-fully. Over and over again we may support schemes and start them. They may be failures, and for these reasons I think it is unwise to tie our hands for 15 years before the schemes may be thoroughly revised. The hon. Gentleman knows quite well that he has rushed this scheme, and he got his £3,000,000 a year before the House and the country saw clearly what was being done. The sum of £3,000,000 a year for 15 years means £45,000,000 to be spent upon taking people from this country and settling them in other countries. The same amount of money spent in this country would put far more people on the land than the hon. Gentleman is ever likely to get on the land in Australia and Canada. He has got his scheme through, but I am certain that long before the 15 years are exhausted the people of this country will resent the idea of spending £45,000,000 of their money in planting people in another country. No other country would spend even £1,500,000 a year in sending their citizens away from their own country.
They have no Empire.
There are many other countries that have more land under their control than we have. In my view, this country would be best defended by the satisfied people at home rather than by a population scattered throughout the world. You cannot help the Empire by spending the taxpayers' money on wild-cat schemes. I am certain that if you really want to develop the Empire, it would be better to attempt to solve the unemployment problem here rather than deport your population abroad.
I beg to second this Amendment, but not for the same reasons as the mover. The best way of maintaining the Empire seems to me to be to send out a moderate stream of people from the mother country, and they should be the best men we can find, who are intellectually equal to the men in the country to which they propose to proceed. A period of 15 years seems to me to be really too long to contemplate, even in the interests of the men you propose to settle. I am, on the other hand, inclined to think that five years is too short. I think you should have a period under which you can help and assist the men whom you send out. That is necessary for many reasons. One is, that they feel that they are not entirely cut-off from the interest and care of those who sent them out, and that is an important matter. It is a great wrench for a young man to leave his country and all his associations of early days, but it is a much greater wrench for a man with a family. In this connection I should like to express my personal thanks to the hon. and gallant Gentleman for the great interest he has taken in this question. The settlers, under the most favourable circumstances, will meet with experiences which will try the fibre of the people you are sending out, especially at a time when there is a large surplus of labour in those respective countries, and this will be found to be so all the more when they realise that your great objective is the land and land settlement.That means you are sending men from this country to cultivate the land, and in that connection I am glad my hon. and gallant Friend withdrew his former Amendment, because it is necessary that these men should be placed under the most favourable circumstances, and as a great deal of the land must already have come into the hands of private persons if his Amendment had been carried, it might even have precluded a relative from bringing out his friends. So far as Governments are concerned, this term of 15 years means nothing. You laid down in your Agriculture Bill that it could not be repealed or amended or interfered with for four years, but you discarded that provision during the life of your own Government, and when you are talking about the future it is apparent that the hon. and gallant Gentleman cannot bind any Government for 15 years, and he could not hind his own Government even for 15 minutes. Therefore a period of 15 years is quite out of the question, and unless he can have given to me some good reason for retaining 15 years I should rather favour my hon. Friend's Amendment to insert five years.
I think I am not very far apart from my lion Friend who has just sat down, and I can supply him at the outset with one good reason in favour of the figure contained in the Bill. May I remind the hon. Member and the House that the whole Bill is the outcome of a discussion at the Imperial Conference where a Resolution was adopted in which the Dominion Governments expressly asked this country to introduce legislation showing that we intend to adopt the policy of co-operation with the Dominions as a permanent policy. While one would not like to pass any legislation in perpetuity, I think the period of 15 years is a sufficient guarantee to the Dominions that we mean to pursue a permanent policy, and we in that way lay down our intention to co-operate for a period of at least 15 years, so that they will not be afraid of making schemes which will not be hurried, but may begin on a small scale and gradually develop.I want to clear up one other point. We are not committed to spending the whole of the £3,000,000 for the whole of the 15 years. If the various schemes that are tried do not turn out well no Government would go on with that policy, nor are we compelled under this Bill to make individual schemes for 15 years' duration. We might make a scheme for five years, and at the end of that time we could do exactly what the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggested, that is, revise this scheme. The period of 15 years would not bind this House in any way in regard to its freedom in dealing with the money as to the amount it shall spend later on. All we do is to show that our intention is to co-operate with the Dominions for a long period of years. There is one other point in which in one sense I am in agreement and in another sense I am in profound disagreement. I agree that we should not encourage our people to go to foreign countries, and I agree that the best thing for our future strength and prosperity is that our people should be settled at home. Where I differ with the hon. and gallant Gentleman is with regard to the meaning of the phrases, "foreign country" and "at home." The British Dominions are with us and form part of one great world Commonwealth, and every British citizen is at home in every part of the Dominions
I beg to move, in Sub-section (4), to leave out the words "or three million pounds in any subsequent financial year."That would leave the amount which the hon. and gallant Gentleman can spend at £1,500,000 and not £3,000,000. Although I do not think it will be in the least useful to press such an Amendment to a Division, I would like to point out to the House that this is money out of the taxpayers' pocket and when everybody is being urged to reduce expenditure I think to save £1,500,000 a year for 15 years is worth thinking about. It is quite possible to do a great deal of kindness in this country with £1,500,000 a year. It is useless for the hon. and gallant Gentleman to pretend that by spending this money he is not going to get a great deal of gratitude from the people who will benefit out of it. I hope my constituents will also benefit under it. I have a good many people in my constituency who have been out of work now for nearly two years. The iron mills were shut down and these people are driven by necessity of unemployment to seek emigration beyond the seas. They are being forced over to Australia or Canada or New Zealand not by the law, but by economic necessity. Under this scheme £1,500,000 will no doubt provide an opportunity of escape to possibly thousands of people. It will enable them to escape from England. I wonder how many will be helped. I wonder whether before voting this money we ought not first to have asked how much money was going to be spent per head in order to give these enormous benefits to people who are being driven out of the country. There must be some sort of estimate at the Colonial Office. It is quite true schemes will differ and in some cases the cost will only be £12 per head while in other cases it may run up to £200 or £300 per head. If we are going to spend £300 in settling a man in Australia, we are going to do that man a great deal of good. We could all do with £300, even although expended by a Government Department for our benefit, and those who get the money will no doubt be very grateful for it. But there is something which ought also to be remembered and that is that the money will have to come out of the taxpayers' pocket.
But it will come back again.
The hon. Member must be aware that these schemes will not all be self-supporting. If they were going to be that, the Government would not be in them at all. They are bound to cost money, so much per head, and we want to know how much per head is going to be expended. We also want it to be realised that whatever the cost, the sum is coming out of the taxpayers' pockets, and the British taxpayer consequently will have so much less money with which to buy the things he wants, while the people who might be employed in making those things will be thrown out of work, so that what may be gained by the expenditure of money in sending people abroad, will be lost to some extent by the creation of unemployment, at home. At a time when every Member of this House is giving lip service to economy, we should be paying quite enough for this scheme, in the complete absence of any information as to the cost per head, and we shall be doing justice to the scheme and to the country, if we limited the expenditure to £1,500,000 per year instead of £3,000,000, as proposed.
Amendment not seconded.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
I shall divide against the Bill if there is any sign in the House of that anxiety for economy which one might expect. I rise to get from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty some kind of estimate of what the cost per head is going to be of sending people to, say, Western Australia under the Darling scheme, or under the Canadian scheme or under the Rhodesian scheme. There must have been some estimate prepared in connection with these schemes, and surely we ought to be told what is going to be spent per head or per family in sending settlers out. Is this going to be a bonus on all emigration, or only on some emigration? Who is going to select the settlers? Is the hon. Gentleman going to take them from his own constituency or will they he drawn from other constituencies? Will adequate justice be done to all applicants, or are only a few going to benefit by this scheme?
I am almost sorry that my hon. and gallant Friend could not find a Seconder for his Amendment just now, because if that Amendment had been carried, it would have removed the restriction of £3,000,000 expenditure laid down in the Bill, and would have empowered the Government to spend up to any amount they chose. It would have given us more money and not less. I am sorry that the effort I made in the Debate on the Second Reading to explain how the Bill would work out and what it would cost to send people to the Dominions fell on unheeding ears, so far as the hon. Gentleman is concerned.
You gave no figures.
I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman will find that I gave fairly detailed figures. I will give one or two now by way of illustration. Under the ex-service men's scheme, under which we paid the whole of the passage out, those passages cost on an average £26 per head. Under the scheme which we are now entering upon, at least one half of the expenditure will be borne by the Governments of the Dominions to which the settlers are going. At a special conference on this question, which was held in February of last year, the attitude taken up by the Dominion Governments was that it was desirable that part of the passage money should be given by way of advance, and not by way of grant. The general scheme then provisionally agreed upon was that one-third of the passage money should be by way of grant, and one-third, or possibly two-thirds, by way of advance. Take the case of a passage to Australia, which perhaps is the most expensive. It is hoped that the cost will come down to £36, and, in that case, we should contribute a sum of £6 by way of grant in respect of one-third of the passage, and we should also advance £12 by way of loan to the settler in respect of two-thirds of the passage, the Commonwealth Government taking an equal burden with ourselves in this case. It is hoped that with the general fall in prices the cost of passages also will fall.As regards land settlement, the view pressed by myself on behalf of the British Government at the special Conference, to which I have referred, was that whatever the cost, the amount we should be prepared to advance to the settler should not be more than £300, although, as a matter of fact, the cost of settlement might well be over double that amount. That, as a general rule, is a proposal I shall be inclined to adhere to, and, if I were not so inclined, I rather think the Treasury would insist upon my adhering to it. Of course, we shall try to get people settled on the land on the most economical basis, but in co-operation with the Dominion Governments we shall not advance more than £300 per settler, and we reckon that, in the greater number of cases, we shall get our money back. There will, of course, be a certain number of failures, and where there is a failure, we and the Dominion Government concerned will sharepro rata in the loss. But, roughly speaking, we hope in nearly all cases to get our money back. Then there is a third item in the settlement scheme, which I illustrated in the House the other day, in reference to West Australia. Under that scheme it was suggested—and of course the matter will have to be gone into much more fully than it has been so far—that we should give no advance towards the total cost of the settlement, but that we should make a contribution towards the interest on the cost of the settlement for the first five years, to cover any loss and to cover also the initial period before the settler could repay. In such a case, it would be a grant, so far as we are concerned, and not a loan, but it would be a very much smaller amount. In the Second Reading Debate I pointed out that under the scheme we had had before us the Western Australian Government undertook to settle 75,000 persons, men, women and children, at a cost of some £6,000,000, provided that the Commonwealth and the United Kingdom made a contribution of one-third of the interest for five years on the successive instalments raised. This, spread over a period of seven or eight years, would cost us something like £600,000, or £8 per settler. Personally, I think these figures are too low. I do not think quite so many people could be settled there for so low an expenditure. But, given suitable areas, it may be possible, by means of a contribution to the interest on the scheme, to settle men even more cheaply than in any other way. I hope I have given my hon. and gallant Friend sufficient indication as to the expense likely to be involved.
The hon. Gentleman has not answered one question. As far as I can make out, under the most expensive of these schemes, the average cost would be about £150 per family. I want to know what measures will be taken to select the settlers, and by whom it will be decided who shall get that £150 from among the enormous number of applicants there is sure to be. What steps are to be taken to prevent any idea of injustice arising because some people are selected and others are turned down.
I was really going to deal with that point. I thought my hon. and gallant Friend was intervening to raise another point. On this matter of selection the only test must be the suitability of the applicant himself and the prospect of his succeeding. We had exactly the same problem to face in connection with the free passages for ex-service men. The numbers selected represented only one third of those who applied. In every case we refused to give a free passage to a man if the Dominion Government con- cerned informed us that in their opinion he was not a likely individual to make a suitable settler or by reason of his class or occupation would not have an assured chance of employment under the economic conditions prevailing in the Dominion at the time. I am quite sure that many of those who did not get free passages were very disappointed.
Does that mean that only agricultural people will be selected?
Oh, no. It depends on the Dominions. Some of them are taking men from a variety of trades. Canada is closing her door very narrowly. Naturally the Dominions are anxious to get suitable agricultural workers. If under the ex-service men's scheme we had given free passages to all the men that applied, the whole scheme would have been an utter failure and we should have brought to misery tens of thousands of unhappy men, while we should have damned the whole idea of co-operation in oversea settlement in the Dominions. It was essential that we should narrow down those who received this assistance. We want those who go to be people who are suitable and likely to do well overseas. The selection naturally and properly rests with the Dominions concerned, who will be responsible for them from the time when they land on the other side. I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that there is no possibility of this matter being settled by any kind of favouritism or arbitrary selection. The Dominions are very anxious to get only suitable settlers. Indeed, they are inclined to be overcautious as to what may be a suitable settler. We prefer to err, with them, on the side of over-caution, rather than to involve any man who sells up his home here; and roots himself up from old friends and old associations, in the risk of going out there and doing worse than he would have done in this country. I should like to express my appreciation of the sympathetic and understanding reception which this Measure has received from every section of the House.
Do I understand that the settlers in connection with these land settlement schemes will be selected by the Dominion Governments as men suitable for land settlement? If that is so, will it not be the case that the industrial unemployed of the country will get no assistance whatever in connection with these passages?
No, Sir. That is not quite the way in which it will work out. We ourselves are primarily concerned in easing the industrial situation in the long run, and we realise that at the present moment the Dominions are not in a position to take a large number of industrial workers until they have filled up their land somewhat more fully. Therefore, in the main, they give preference to men who either have had some experience on the land or who, being physically fit, are willing to try work on the land. The latter category is one that we are specially anxious to assist. Still more are we anxious to assist boys and lads for whom nothing but blind-alley occupations are waiting in this country to take to the land before they become hopelessly wedded to urban life. I think we must be actuated all through by the desire that we, on our part, shall do the best we can for our people, and that the Dominions, on their part, shall do the best they can for the future development of their territory. We do not want to off-load on to them men who will be failures. We do not desire, that, either in the interests of the Dominions or of the men themselves. On the other hand, the Dominions know quite well that they cannot fill up the whole of their vast spaces from the, far too depleted margin of agricultural workers in this country, and that, if they want to develop, they will have to tap a much wider source of supply than that of the shires of this country.
Let them take more from the towns.
They are getting a few from there, and I hope they will get more. This Measure, which has had a very considerate reception in the House, is necessarily an experimental Measure. If the Dominions cannot co-operate in suitable schemes, if it is difficult to frame schemes which will really be in the interest of the settlers, no Government would persist in a policy which clearly is going to prove a failure. I do believe, however, that this policy can be made a great success if it is begun moderately and carried on with caution and prudence in the interests of those for whom it is initiated. There is no question of wishing to send people out of this country. It is simply a question of properly organised facilities for the great stream of human beings that always has left these shores, and always will, and of giving them a better chance of succeeding on the other side than they have had before. There is no desire to get rid of our best men. We do not want to send anyone out who will fail; but, on the other hand, we believe that the average of this country, given a fair chance in life, is a good average, and will make good, and that if, where you have conditions of congestion and overcrowding, you give one man a good chance overseas, you will be making a better chance for his neighbour at home to become a better man than he was.
While appreciating the desire of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) to save the taxpayer from being fleeced by the land speculator, I am sorry that my hon. and gallant Friend is going to take a vote on this occasion.
I am not—only my own.
I welcome this Bill, because, in the first place, it seems to me to be calculated to weave bonds of mutual interest and sympathy between ourselves and the territories overseas I agree with the definition "commonwealth of nations," which has been given by an hon. Member, rather than the term "empire." We have now reached the stage when each of the overseas Dominions is a self-governing country, and can manage its own affairs as it likes, and from that point of view it is necessary that we should come into more cordial contact, by way of bonds of interest as well as of sympathy, with the Dominions; and something of the nature of a Bill of this character is necessary in order that we may discuss and settle matters of mutual interest and concern. This Bill is an effort—the first, so far as I know—to regularise emigration, so that the man who goes from this country will go to the country of his adoption with some chance of success. We have too long left these people, under the pressure of poverty, somehow or another to get to Canada, very often the United States—where they are lost to us —or some other overseas country, and have left them to their own resources there in a foreign environment, under conditions to which they are not accustomed. When I have been to overseas countries I have seen these people, very often, walking about out of work and just as badly off in their new home as they were here. This Bill is for the purpose of lessening that evil by co-operation between the mother country and the Dominions overseas. I should have liked to have seen it limited to co-operation between the Dominion Governments overseas, but still it is an attempt, by cooperation between the Home country and the Dominions overseas, to place these people there in a regular manner to their own advantage, and, as I think, to the advantage of the mother country as well as of the overseas Dominions.It seems to me to be of supreme importance that we should get work for our unemployed people. The hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme considered that we ought to get them employment in this country. I wish we could, but he knows as we all know that that has been a matter of discussion for generations. It might be possible, under some better land system in this country, to find employment for all our men, but have we not been talking about that for generations without getting much forrader? It seems to me that the only possible way in which we could get a large number more men on the land would be by some system of intensive cultivation, and that is a very difficult matter. It is all very well to say that if we adopted intensive cultivation we could employ a great many more men on the land. That is quite true, but it is very difficult to tilt human material into a way that is against its own will.
This is the Third Reading. It is a time for discussing the Bill, but not for discussing schemes that might have been.
I thought. I was justified in using that argument in favour of.the Bill, as against those advanced on the other side.
I looked to my left with some apprehension, because the right hon. Gentleman was apparently beginning to deal with the whole land question.
I am in favour of this Bill because it provides a means by which we can lessen industrial unemployment. The hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme said that the men placed on the land in Canada and elsewhere must necessarily be men accustomed to work on the land in this country. It seems to me that we might have gone a little further and have done something in the way of training men in this country who are not now suitable to go on the land, but who might be made suitable. That, I agree, involves a, further cost, but I do not agree with the hon. and gallant Member that it is all going to come out of the taxpayers' pocket without return. I think the return here will be increased many-fold, because, by increasing the population of those overseas Dominions, which in the first place are agricultural populations—that is a necessary factor in the circumstances—
If you increase the population of Scotland you will be doing more useful work.
That raises a large question, upon which much might be said, but at all events it does tend to get men placed in a country outside their own under conditions where there is a chance of their making a living and increasing the demand for our commodities.
I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman one question upon a point which I do not think has yet been referred to. I had a letter this afternoon from the Overseas Settlement Office telling me that after the passing of this Bill it would take some considerable time before any approved scheme of assisted passages could be arranged. In view of the fact that many people are waiting anxiously for these passages, could the lion. Gentleman give us any idea as to how long it will take for the scheme to come into operation so that these passages may be obtained?
With the permission of the House, I will reply to my Noble Friend. He will understand that when this Bill becomes law we shall be in a position to negotiate with the Overseas Governments for schemes in which we can co-operate with them, and I hope it may not be very long before we have at any rate a passage scheme agreed with Australia. From information that I have had from the Australian authorities, they are very anxious to conclude a passage scheme as soon as the Bill becomes law. Settlement schemes will, of course, require very close and careful investigation. It would be a great disaster if we embarked on schemes too rashly. I hope it may not be many weeks after the passing of the Bill before we agree to some passage scheme, and before we have agreed with some private organisations for schemes for preliminary training on the land here, such as my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. G. Barnes) referred to, and which are certainly a matter of the greatest importance. In all these matters we depend upon the co-operation of ethers. We are not going to organise the schemes overseas. It is only if the Dominion Governments are, as they expressed themselves at the Conference to be, eager to develop Imperial settlement and bring forward schemes, that then we shall he most anxious to co-operate with them within the limits of the Bill.
I hope that those of my hon. Friends who seem rather inclined to express a dissentient note will not do so at this stage, because intending emigrants will need all their courage and resources and high spirits to achieve success, as I am sure we all hope they will. If I were disposed to reply to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Gorbals, I should say that the argument against this Bill, from an agricultural standpoint was that you are sending these men across the seas to cultivate land which in all probability is not so good as that which we have at home, and, at the same time, making them competitors in practically their only market with the already too adversely affected agricultural conditions in this country. That is an argument that might be used against the Bill, but, on the other hand, the arguments in favour of it are very much better. I myself have seen at least three separate schemes of land settlement, and in each case the amount of tribulation which the settlers have gone through has been very great. There is no question about the difficulties that face people in a new country, especially when you take them out in any quantities to settle them. The diffi- culties are tremendous, and they require all the fatherly care and kindly interest of the hon. Gentleman to stimulate and help the people when they reach their destination and face the trials which are inevitable in settlement in the new country where they have to provide everything; where, no matter what kind of supervision is made and what arrangements are made to ensure comfort and welcome on arrival, the fact remains that it will rest with the settlers themselves to achieve success. They can achieve it, but it will take time. I hope the Bill will receive its Third Reading without anything from this House except the expression of the best and warmest wishes that the emigrants will be successful in the land to which they go, and will retain their kindly interest in the country whence they went, and that, like a good many others who have been out, they will prove a good investment, because although they come into competition with our agriculturists here, they will have needs and requirements in other directions which will more than compensate for any difficulty we may experience in that respect. We shall meet their competition with a good deal of assurance, and we shall he only too grateful to receive the orders for the many industrial articles they will need in the course of their lives in the country to which they go.
I do not want to suggest that the Empire should not be developed. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill says that we are not driving people out of this country. There is no desire to drive them out. of this country, but the whole policy of the Government has given these people absolutely no alternative but to seek an outlet and to do work in other countries, when the same amount of money spent at home might have found them more lucrative, employment and retained the very best men in this country to the benefit of the country and of the Empire. The hon. Gentleman suggests that in Western Australia they welcome emigrants, but it is a remarkable commentary that we should assist them to the extent of £600,000 a year, when only three years ago they forecasted the possibility of an expansion from this country to Western Australia without a charge upon the taxpayers of this country, and they wanted a loan. We found that the finances of the country would not give them a loan of £9,000,000 in order that they might do the very work we ought to set about to do at home—open up the country so that land might be accessible for cultivation. They could not get a penny. The financiers of this country said they were not going to finance Labour Governments in Australia to open up the Empire. What security had they? Although we turned down the request of the Prime Minister of Queensland and his Government, the same Ministers who criticised that proposal say to-day that this is a very benevolent scheme which we ought to support. Men in my division have gone there and found things very precarious, but when they went they saw that our policy was so niggardly and parsimonious that there was no possibility of the Government ear-marking money to develop our resources in the homeland. There are hundreds of thousands of square miles undeveloped in the Colonies, but although we are, perhaps, the most intensely organised industrial country in the world, yet there are parts of our country where, with the same amount of money and with well-considered plans, we could find work for all the men who are out of work. You have the Overseas Department, the Board of Trade, and the Ministry of Transport. Time and time again they have inquired into the possibility of making provision whereby our surplus labour could be utilised. They have got them in dockets in the various Departments. There are the findings of the Commission that there are enormous possibilities of utilising all our man-power within our own soil to great advantage. Where are those now? Three years age, to avoid this kind of thing, a great Bill known as the Ways and Communications Bill was introduced.
This is a speech suitable for the Second Reading, but not for the Third Reading. On the Second Reading of a Bill we discuss alternatives—quite rightly—to the Bill. Having come to the Third Reading, we deal with what is in the Bill itself, and not with alternatives.
We regret that such a Bill is possible. We hope there will be a little more co-ordination in the various Government Departments and that they will see the possibilities at our own door, and that they will spend money wisely for the development of our resources and the utilising of our man power.
When this Bill was introduced I gave notice of a number of Amendments to it for the purpose of bringing in those alternative suggestions which, as you, Mr. Speaker, say we can only debate on the Second Reading. As I was not a member of the Committee which considered the Bill, I wish to take this opportunity to put a point of view before the hon. Gentleman which I hope he will take note of in carrying out the Bill. The main objection to it seems to be with regard to what is likely to happen in Australia. The Bill deals not merely with Australia, but with any of our Colonies to which any prospective emigrants desire to go, and it provides them with certain facilities for getting there, and also with certain opportunities for going upon the land. I traversed a good portion of Canada last year. I went as far as Vancouver, and in all the places I went to I found out as much as I possibly could about the resources of the country and the possibilities for emigrants. One thing struck me very forcibly, and various people to whom I remarked upon it agreed entirely with me, that Canada has got out of balance. The bulk of her population is now in the very large towns, and if this Bill is going to send out men who, after spending a few months upon the land, throw the whole situation up as hopeless for making a living upon the land and go into the 'big towns, you are going to increase the very grave unemployment problem which Canada has at present and which she had last autumn and winter. The Minister of Labour, Senator Robertson, gave me figures of the numbers of unemployed in the various towns and districts. When I asked him about the likelihood of employment for he said he expected there would be employment for six weeks or two months at harvest time and that the various provincial Governments were going to pay their fares, but that was not helping the unemployed problem because, when the six weeks' or two months' work was finished, the men would either be left stranded in the prairie provinces or the prairie provincial Government would require to send them 'back to the provinces they had left. Some condition should be laid down that these men must remain upon the land for a particular period, otherwise they may go there and after six months find the whole scheme unsuitable. They have been brought up in towns and have town associations. The loneliness of the prairie or the loneliness of farm life may not appeal to them. They may have a craving for companionship and may want to get to the towns. If you do not do something to keep these men upon the land or insist that if they do not remain upon the land for a certain period they must come back to this country, it means that you are giving them financial facilities to clear out of the country and you do not care a hang what happens to them after that, and the whole Bill is merely a method of getting rid of them.I am certain those who have framed the Bill do not look upon it from that point of view. It has been introduced really with the object of doing the best that possibly can be done for men who find themselves unable to make headway in this country and who believe that an almost virgin country opens up wide possibilities and that there is ample scope to develop any industry they possess, but unless you are going to have some saving clause which will prevent some individuals—I do not say all—who take advantage of this to get out of this country and find when they get there that the life is unsuitable and go into the big towns, I am afraid the purpose of the Bill will not be fulfilled in any degree with regard to some of these people. My reason for rising was not to take exception to the Bill. I am all for colonisation. So great am I for colonisation that I want to see my own country colonised. That was the object of the Amendments I put down. There is ample scope within our own boundaries for colonisation, but at this stage we have no power to discuss the colonisation of the homeland. I hope that something will be done under this Bill to see that the men affected have not only an opportunity of getting out of this country, but that safeguards will be entered into with the Dominions Governments so that when the men have arrived there, if they find that conditions are not as suitable as they desire, they will not remain as a menace and a competition to the overwhelming population in the big towns. I have been out there and have met workmates of my own who have worked with me in the same shops, and who had gone out there desiring to take up land, and to follow what they thought would be an ideal life; but Canada does not want men in her big towns. They want men with the old pioneering spirit, men who can hack and hew and carve a way for themselves. If you are simply going to send out men who are accustomed to work in industrial shops, and who, when the day's work is over, wander about the streets and meet their cronies, you will fail in the object you have in view, because these men will drift into the towns and will augment the very large numbers of unemployed who are there. If I could see the wildernesses of Canada populated I should be glad, because all the things that can minister to human life can be taken from the land there—grain and fruits and other things. If this Bill is going to give the men with a pioneering spirit an opportunity, and if it will imbue them with that spirit, and put them there to start life afresh, to build up a home of their own, and to become independent in their own little way, it will, at. least, perform some useful purpose, but if it is only going to get rid of men from this country who, a few months later, will drift into the big towns of Australia or Canada, it will fail in its purpose. The Minister in charge of the Bill might, with the assistance of the Dominion Governments, devise some scheme of safeguards whereby the things that I have indicated will be prevented.
Question, "That the Bill be now read the Third time," put, and agreed to.
Bill read the Third time, and passed.