30 JULY 1948, Page 2

Emigration Policy

In the palt few weeks this country has had the pleasure of welcoming both the Australian Prime Minister, Mr. Chifley, and his Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Evatt. It would be a mistake to search for some undeclared reason which has brought two such statesmen here in quick succession ; there are many matters of Commonwealth and world interest which can only be settled by personal discussion, and even if we ever developed a Commonwealth Secretariat along the lines suggested recently by Lord Bruce it would be no substitute for visits of this nature. There is, however, one question of vital concern both to us and to Australians about which there has been much thought, some talk, but little information, and this is emigration. Mr. Chifley said at a press conference in London that " the fullest understanding exists between the British and Australian Governments on this matter," and the Government's attitude was later defined by Mr. Gordon-Walker as being " to encourage and facilitate the flow of emigration from this island to the various parts of the Commonwealth," provided only that we do not lose too many skilled workers in certain categories. But this benevolent attitude can only act as substitute for a policy as long as the shortage of shipping makes any more ambitious plan impossible. The Australian Minister for Immigration, less hesitant, looks ahead to the settling of 20 million newcomers within the next two genera- tions, most of whom are expected to be provided by the British Isles. Presumably we, on our side, agree that our island is overpopulated, or we would not allow the present exodus of about 75,000 emigrants a year. But sooner or later we have got to make up our minds to what extent we are overpopulated and to what extent our capacity to keep our heads above water is going to be improved by allowing many of our most enterprising young men and women to leave us for good. What sort of an island population do we look for at the end of the century ? A few aged remittance-men ? Or something a bit more vigorous? We must decide without any delay not only whom we can spare, but on what grounds we can spare them.