[To THR EDITOR 07 THE " SPECTATOR."]
true Imperialists will heartily welcome the illumina- ting article on " Emigration and Common Sense" in last week's Spectator. The British public need to be taught to think Imperially before they lose most of the obsessions with which they now are possessed, such as the one to which you refer, viz., the " theory that the population of every portion of the kingdom ought always to be increasing." A century ago removal from Yorkshire to London or from one place to another in Great Britain was called "emigration," and the difficulties, dangers, and expense of the undertaking were far greater than those now involved in such Imperial transfers as from Edinburgh to Dunedin, or from London (England) to London (Ontario), to quote but two examples of place name- sakes.
It may be that the white population of the Empire is not sufficient for its needs, but that surely is no reason for suggesting that seventy-five per cent. thereof should be kept concentrated on one corner of that Empire, so that the density in England is over one per acre, whilst overseas there are only two persons to the square mile. A certain' number of short-sighted manufacturers recognise that a reduction in applicants for their situations would result in some increase in wages, and that if boys become fewer they might have to employ as messengers, lift attendants, and unskilled workers some of the old men whom they now help to support in the workhouses. These employers fail to realize that the demand for British manufactures would increase with the growth of population of the overseas Dominions. The necessity for migration within the Empire is essential on Imperial, political, and economic grounds.
A Japanese officer recently stated that no nation had a right to claim dominion over more territory than they could settle ; and colonisation is the only effective means of defence for our vast, world-wide Dominions. Had more Britishers been settled in South Africa the late war would probably have been averted, but now settlement is needed to keep British both Canada and Australasia, otherwise the peaceful American invasion of the former and the Mongolian occupation of the latter will make the British flag an object of curiosity and not of reverence to future generations, just as are the totems and other relics of the aborigines of these Dominions to those of the present day. The whole of Canada will be taken up within the next fifty years—whether by Americans or by the British will depend on whether or no: a common-sense view of population prevails in our attitude towards Imperial migration.
Not everyone wishes to migrate, nor are all applicants suitable for migration. If the manufacturers do not wish their skilled artisans to go to the Dominions with their savings, or if landlords desire to provide the farms of the Empire with labour without depopulating the countryside, they cannot do better than assist the movement for placing town lads on Imperial farms, under the direction of the Colonial Government Departments—for population these countries will have, and, if possible, British. Migration is an economic force, whether it be confined to this country or to the Empire, or widened in its operation to include foreign countries, when the word "emigration" more properly applies. As the pressure on the labour market is relieved by migration and the consequent increase in our exports, the boom in migration will tend to decline.
Under the 1848-9 Poor Relief Acts the Guardians have power to spend not more than half the average poor rate of the last three years on the emigration of poor persons who might otherwise become chargeable. This is one of the few preventive measures on the Statute Book, but its adoption is permissive, and where Guardians are aware of their powers they are disinclined to use them. Consequently they only spend an average sum of £10,000 a year on the migration of less than a thousand persons, over half of whom are children. At the same time the number of paupers on Lady Day 1912 was 780,329 (or 21'6 per 1,000, the percentage in London being 28.4 per 1,000), including 120,217 able-bodied men and women. These cost upwards of £15,000,000 per annum, in addition to £12,600,000 per annum for old-age pensions. The numbers of pensioners and paupers would decrease at home as that of the Imperial farmers overseas increased. Some Guardians are not fully aware of their powers in Imperial migration, but it appears to me that others fear that a reduction in poverty would lead to corresponding reductions in their own import- ance, in the number of attractive situations as workhouse masters, overseers, and superintendents, which are often held by their relatives and friends, in the value of the contracts in which they often have a similar interest, and in the supply of cheap labour for their own businesses.
The matter is more fully discussed in a pamphlet by myself entitled " Town Lads on Imperial Farms," which has just been published by P. S. King and Son, and contains notes on such other phases of Imperial migration as female and child migration, and official assistance in this work of Empire-building.—I am, Sir, &c., THOS. E. SEDGWICK. 33 Oriental Street, Poplar, B. June 3rd, 1913.