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Nor, even if the farmers of the United Kingdom were satisfied with the terms of the proposed bargain, is the problem of our daily bread solved. We import at present about four-fifths of our wheat. The utmost exertions of our farmers in the current year will hardly decrease that proportion below three-fifths, and even if so much is accomplished it will be partly at the cost of a reduced home production of meat and milk. There remains the vast stock of wheat we must import -three-fifths, or for simplicity let us say half our consumption. At what price is that to be imported ? Doubtless the Board of Agriculture has looked ahead and tried to make satisfactory bargains with Canadian and other farmers abroad, but so far as these bargains tend to depress prices, they have the very effect which a wise Government would above all things avoid —they check supply. The very best means of assuring the food supply of the United Kingdom in the difficult months that lie ahead of us is to allow prices to soar as high as they will so that the whole world will be tempted to grow as much wheat as possible and to risk the new perils of the deep in order to bring it to our shores.
This does not mean that the Government can do nothing. It can do, and already is doing, much. The scheme of the Board of Agriculture for hiring out motor tractors to farmers is an admirable example of State enterprise, and offers great possibilities of a reduction in the cost of tillage. Much also can be done by the Government to help farmers by organising the employment of German prisoners and of British soldiers not immediately wanted by the Army. In addition the Board of Agriculture can through its influence and organisation greatly facilitate the employment of more women upon the land. That Board can also with the aid of parliament take measures for preventing the destruction of good food caused by foxes and pheasants and other beasts and birds who are allowed to multiply for the sake of sport. If, while taking such measures as these to increase the supply of home-grown food, the Government, by means of heavy taxation, cuts down the demand both for food and for other commodities that use up labour or tonnage, it can greatly help the nation to surmount the coming crisis.
No. 460 will be published in April.
The Edinburgh Review
MIGRATION WITHIN THE EMPIRE
1. Dominions Royal Commission : Final Report. Chapter 8:
Migration.' 1917. 2. The After-War Settlement and Employment of Ex-Service Men
in the Oversea Dominions. Report to the Royal Colonial
Institute by Sir RIDER HAGGARD. 1916. 3. Report of the Conference of the Australian Governments on the
Settlement of Returned Soldiers. Melbourne. 1916. 4. Official Report of the Emigration Conference of the Royal
Colonial Institute. 1910. 5. An Untamed Territory: the Northern Territory of Australia.
By ELSIE R. MASSON. 1915.
HE report of the Dominions Royal Commission on
migration within the Empire summarises and in some respects controverts the conclusions which have been arrived at by those who have examined the question afresh during the last ten, and more particularly during the last two years. It is an authoritative examination of a problem which can, from its nature, never be finally solved ; and its value lies less perhaps in the actual recommendations—many of which have in fact been anticipated by expert opinion--than in the collection of a body of evidence and detailed statistics which furnish the basis for its conclusions. This evidence, it is true, deals almost entirely with the position as it was before the
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VOL. 225. NO, 460,
war; but unless that is taken into account no general statement of the question as it now stands can be adequate.
During the forty years before the war there was a steady exodus of population from the United Kingdom, a large and increasing proportion of which found its way to the Dominions. This exodus grew larger after 1899, when Canada had begun her immigration policy; it fell again in 1908, when the American crisis checked the development of the West, but it was still larger in that year of depression than in an average year a decade before ; and from that time onwards it increased very rapidly, owing to Australia as well as Canada encouraging immigration. The outward stream of population reached its maximum in 1912, but there was no perceptible decline in its volume until the outbreak of war.
But despite this growth of emigration, which in Scotland and in parts of rural England excited some natural alarm when it was found that the population of certain districts was actually declining, the increased emigration by no means checked the general increase of population in the United Kingdom. Although the bulk of emigrants were young men in the prime of life, and either married or of marriageable age, and although this movement reached its height in the decennial period 1901-II, the total increase of population during that period was greater than at any previous time in our history. Taken as a whole, emigration during the last forty years has absorbed only 27 per cent. of the natural increase of the male population, and less than 22 per cent. of the increase of the female population : figures which should effectually silence those who complain that emigration is gradually depopulating these islands.
During the war this wave of emigration was first checked, then suspended, and finally the tide turned the other way; but it is clear that the check is only a temporary one.
The toll which death has taken of our people in battle has indeed been heavy, and it has necessarily increased since we took the offensive against the enemy. But in spite of that distressing sacrifice, and a slight increase in the normal death-rate of adult civilians, there is every indication that the population of the British Isles will be larger at the conclusion of peace than at the outbreak of war. If therefore the abnormal circumstances which we had come to look upon as normal in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were exactly restored—I mean an expanding industrial and a diminishing agricultural population—we could not look for any diminution in their constant accompaniment, an emigration that declines indeed in good times and increases in bad, but which in the most prosperous periods carries off only some thousands and in times of bad trade some hundreds of thousands a year.
But normal circumstances will not return. We have made up for the drain of war on our adult manhood by employing female labour and juvenile or adolescent male labour on a large scale. The former has been generally satisfactory and seldom overpaid, the latter-if we may judge by the testimony of employers and the police courts generally unsatisfactory and overpaid. The tendency of employers will therefore be to refuse peremptorily, as soon as they can, to pay inefficient boys of seventeen a man's wages, but to continue to employ women in cases where they have done their work properly. And this extension of female labour into new trades will be in many ways to the national advantage. It will add to the producing power of the country, it will increase many household budgets, and it will give a very large number of idle women an occupation and an independence which they have hitherto lacked. Many women indeed who took up work for patriotic reasons will continue to work for personal reasons, because they like it, or at least because they like the money which it brings; and where employers and employed are at one in a matter of this kind the path is plain. As compared with the actual war period there will be a large exodus of women from industry when demobilisation brings men back to civil life, but as compared with the pre-war period there will certainly be a large increase of women in industry.
A considerable number of men who are now in the Army are assured of their situations when they return to civil life ; most large employers of labour have acted in this way towards their staff. A number too will step naturally and easily into the first job that comes along. But it is clear that this will by no means account for every returned soldier. A few whose situations were guaranteed to them on their return will find that their firms have disappeared in the interval, by one of the ordinary casualties of commercial warfare; more perhaps will find a changed management, uncongenial conditions, and prospects of promotion less bright than before. Some definitely cut the painter when they enlisted—there were unpatriotic firms that kept men back and dismissed those who did their duty-and others had no definite employment when they joined and have no settled prospects when they leave the Army. There are also undoubtedly large numbers of men who have been thoroughly unsettled by active service, and who do not desire to return to their previous sedentary or monotonous employment, even though it be permanent and well paid. If wages fall, as they are likely to in some trades, the impulse to emigrate may well become still greater. Even if no account were taken of altered social conditions at home-alterations which must be profound and may possibly become permanent—the mental unsettlement and physical excitement engendered by the conflict would alone be sufficient to produce the unrest which in these islands always takes the form of an exodus. We must therefore facilitate emigration for those who wish to emigrate, in order to see that the men who are lost to England are not lost to the Empire.
After the Napoleonic Wars it is known that more than half of those who crossed the Atlantic went directly to the United States; and of those who went to Canada about half also crossed the international frontier a few years later. Again, of the quarter of a million men who left Great Britain in the year following the Boer War, about half went to the United States. Now we do not want to people the United States with Englishmen while Canada is invaded by Americans. But the only way to prevent these things is to foresee the problem, and to prepare the remedy in advance. Those who oppose emigration as a policy will not succeed in stopping it as a practice; they will at most succeed in ensuring that the British Empire loses some of the emigrants.
It does not seem to be everywhere understood that those who are discussing the whole question of organised emigration and systematic colonisation do so, not with the intention of urging men to go who do not want to go, but with the intention of seeing that the right men go, and that they have a place to go to. That is the modern attitude towards emigration, and it is admittedly a changed attitude. In the past we deported our failures and left our successes to look after themselves, with the singular result that the State populated