Chamberlain Dashes Mass Settlement Hopes; Reports Limited Possibilities in Colonies
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Chamberlain Dashes Mass Settlement Hopes; Reports Limited Possibilities in Colonies

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Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain today threw cold water on hopes that Britain would propose a spectacular colonization scheme to solve the German refugee problem when he told the House of Commons that there was no place in the colonial empire for immediate large-scale settlement. “However great might be our desire and that of other countries to assist in dealing with a grave situation, the possibilities of settlement are strictly limited,” the Prime Minister declared.

There are possibilities that 50,000 acres in Tanganyika and 10,000 square miles in British Guiana are available for development by responsible Jewish organizations, Mr. Chamber Lain said. Guiana has offered to make room for 25,000 refugees, and Tanganyika has indicated it will invite representatives of charitable organizations to go there and survey the possibilities. He also referred to possibilities of small-scale settlement in other colonies.

Regarding the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister stated that the number of refugees to be temporarily and permanently admitted was limited to the capacity of voluntary organizations to undertake the responsibility for selecting, receiving and maintaining the exiles. He reported that 11,000 had been admitted since 1933. Touching on Palestine, he said it was generally recognized that this small country could not in any case provide a solution of the Jewish refugee problem, but was making its contribution.

A summary of the immigration prospects offered by Mr. Chamberlain follows:

Tanganyika — 50,000 acres in the southern highlands of this former German colony, as well as acreage in its western province, may be suitable for settlement. Charitable and other emigration bodies have been invited to survey this territory with a view to possible ultimate placing of emigres.

Rhodesia and Nybaland — Small scale settlement in both these colonies seems possible.

Kenya Clony — A private settlement scheme is already under way for settlement of emigre farmers, specially trained and selected.

Palestine — Many refugees may have been admitted to the Holy Land but immigration here will solve a small part of the refugee problem.

Mr. Chamberlain asserted that in carrying out colonizing schemes for refugees, in which the Colonial Office intends to participate to the largest extent possible, the Government would have to keep in mind the rights and prerogatives of native populations. Asked by

F. Seymour Cocks, Laborite, whether he could say anything about the position of the dominions in the matter, Mr. Chamberlain replied: “I am dealing only with those things with which we can deal ourselves.” Replying to other questions, he declared it premature to discuss the possibility of a loan to private organizations to maintain refugees. Admission of refugee children to be trained for overseas emigration will be discussed during the ensuing debate.

Mr. Chamberlain and Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax will hold consultations with the French Government on the refugee problem when they go to Paris on Wednesday. The political correspondent of the Daily Mail reported that settlement of German-Jewish refugees will replace appeasement plans when Mr. Chamberlain and Premier Edouard Daladier begin their discussions.


The Prime Minister began his declaration by saying that his Government, in conformity with the recommendations of the Evian conference, had been studying ways and means of finding an asylum for the emigres. He asserted the Government “also had in mind the views expressed by the Evian countries that the country of origin of the involuntary emigrants should make its contribution to this problem of migration by enabling the intending emigrants to take with them property and possessions. The extent to which countries can be expected to receive emigrants must depend very largely upon conditions in which they are able to leave their country of origin.”

The Prime Minister went on:

“The Government have been greatly impressed by the urgency of the problem created by the anxiety to migrate overseas of sections of the population in Germany, and of individuals who in consequence of the recent events in that country have found temporary asylum in countries of first refuge.

“In the light of these circumstances and the recommendations of the Evian meeting, His Majesty’s Government have again reviewed the situation. Regarding the United Kingdom, the number of refugees which Great Britain can agree to admit, either for a temporary stay or for permanent settlement, is limited by the capacity of the voluntary organizations dealing with the refugee problem to undertake the responsibility for selecting, receiving and maintaining a further number of refugees.

“His Majesty’s Government is keeping in close touch with the committee set up to coordinate the activities of the voluntary organizations engaged in this task. The United Kingdom has since 1933 permitted about 11,000 men, women and children to land in this country in addition to some 4,000 or 5,000 other who have since emigrated overseas.


“Regarding the colonial empire it must be remembered that although covering a great extent of territory it is not necessarily capable of immediate absorption of large numbers of refugees. Many of our colonies and protectorates and our mandated territories of East and West Africa contain native populations, many millions, for whom we are the trustees and whose interests must not be prejudiced by settlement of any large areas which at present are sparsely populated and unsuitable either climatically or economically for European settlement.

“The colonial governments could only cooperate in any schemes of large or small scale settlement provided the schemes were formulated and carried out by responsible organizations. As was indicated by Lord Harlech (former Colonial Secretary W.G.A. Ormsby-Gore) on March 30th, and as subsequently made clear by the United Kingdom representative at the Evian meeting, His Majesty’s Government consider there is no territory in the colonial empire where suitable land is available for immediate settlement of a large number of refugees although small scale settlement might prove practicable.

“The Governors of Tanganyika and British Guiana have, however, been asked to state whether without detriment to the native interests the land could be made available for leasing on generous terms, for the purpose of large-scale settlement, to voluntary organizations concerned with refugees, provided they undertake full responsibility for the cost of preparing the land and of settling refugees of suitable types as the land is made available. The Governor of Tanganyika replied expressing his readiness to cooperate in any schemes for settlement of refugees so far as existing obligations will permit. While he has not yet had the opportunity of consulting the Legislative Council, the Governor has expressed the view that the only suitable areas for large scale settlement are likely to be found in the southern highlands and in part of the western province, but thorough investigations will be required before definite indication is available that the areas can be given. He would welcome a mission of refugee organizations and would readily give all facilities for inspecting the areas and forming an opinion of the possibilities. The area that might be available comprises about 50,000 acres of land. Additionally, a scheme of small-scale settlement up to 200 settlers is being considered.


“A small experimental private scheme in Kenya, devised by one of the Jewish organizations in London, has been approved by the Governor after consultation with the Legislative Council, and young men who have undergone a course of training at one of the agricultural training centers established by Jewish organizations in Germany already have been selected for this scheme. These men will be settled on farms purchased by Jewish organizations after a further period of training in the colony, and if the scheme proves successful they will be joined by other members of their families.

“Inquiries have been made of the Governors of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland as to possible small-scale settlement in those territories also, and I am glad to say the replies received from both Governors indicates this may be possible.

“I turn now to British Guiana. In the interior of this colony there are extensive tracts of sparsely occupied land consisting mainly of forest and savannah. These areas include certain Indian reservations, but the Governor states there is ample space available to provide fully for all possible needs of the Indian tribes and still leave large areas worthy of examination as to their suitability for refugee settlement.

“The agricultural development of these areas hitherto been prevented by unfavorable conditions and lack of communications. It would therefore be essential that careful surveys by experts should be made before any definite scheme can be formulated, and His Majesty’s government propose to invite voluntary organizations to send out their own representatives as early as possible to conduct such surveys on the spot. They will be given all facilities for this purpose by the Colonial Government, and His Majesty’s Government would also be ready to send out some experienced official to advise and cooperate with them. Provided the survey is satisfactory, His Majesty’s Government contemplate to lease large areas of land on generous terms under conditions to be settled hereafter. It is not possible at this stage to give exact figures of the total area which could be made available to be leased for this purpose, but it would certainly not be less than 10,000 square miles, and possibly more.

“Finally I must mention Palestine. It is generally recognized that a small country could not in any case provide a solution for the Jewish refugee problem, but Palestine has been making its contribution. Not less than 40 per cent of the Jewish immigrants entering that country during the last 12 months come from Germany.


“His Majesty’s Government hope that other countries represented on the Intergovernmental (refugee) Committee to continue and develop the work of the Evian meeting will also endeavor to make what contribution they can to the urgent need for facilitating emigration from Germany and from the countries of first refuge. In conclusion I must emphasize that however great may be our desire and that of other countries to assist in dealing with this grave situation, the possibilities of settlement are strictly limited.”

Sources in close touch with dominion affairs today denied that replies had already been received on the refugee question, but asserted these would be forthcoming shortly. Canada and Australia are held to be the dominions most likely to be able to settle the most refugees. New Zealand also is considering the problem, but within narrower limits, it was said.

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