The attraction of Empire migration and settlement as part of a greater imperial economic and welfare strategy remained self-evident to many commentators in the United Kingdom between the wars. Optimism largely evaporated in economic depression, which as in the past demonstrated that most migrants could be pulled in only by prosperity overseas and would not be expelled merely by distress at home. The lack of harmony between social provision in the United Kingdom and in the overseas Empire made migration risky. The disappointment demanded a more circumspect study of that natural harmony which was supposedly sufficient, with a nudge from assisted passages and land settlement schemes, to send a flow of British migrants overseas. In the 1880s and 1890s less than one-third of British emigrants had sailed to Empire destinations; most of the rest had headed for the USA.
The growth in the size of New Zealand's population and labour force had never been allowed to be entirely dependent on either natural increase or on uncontrolled free-market immigration. Manufacturers looked to immigration, however, to satisfy more than their need for labour. New Zealand manufacturers were therefore keen to see their potential customers increased by immigration and population growth. Farmers' representatives were particularly interested in encouraging juvenile immigration. The Immigration Department in 1920 asked local Farmers' Unions if they would welcome a proposal to bring in British lads aged seventeen to twenty as farm labourers. The Otago Expansion League, the Canterbury Progress League and the Nelson Progress League added their propaganda to the arguments of local Chambers of Commerce and employers' associations. New Zealand governments between the wars were subjected to very considerable pressures in the formulation and execution of immigration policy.
The Empire Marketing Board and imperial propaganda, 1926–33
This chapter explains imperialism between the wars as forming part of the dominant ideology of the day. To begin with, the Empire Marketing Board's (EMB) establishment in 1926 does suggest that imperialism was in the 1920s a central preoccupation of major sections of the dominant class. From its inception in 1926 to its closure in 1933, the EMB was rapidly and rightly identified in public and political eyes as a propaganda organisation. The EMB's expectation that propaganda might have a sufficiently powerful impact reflects the remarkable development and extension of the range of media available for communications and persuasion since the end of the previous century. Even the well-established techniques of paper-making and printing had experienced technical changes as to substantially cheapen the cost and ease the process of producing large runs of printed books, and other printed materials.
Interpreting a migrant’s letters from Australia, 1926–67
Archived letter collections written by migrants from the British Isles, often reflecting on journeys, reception and experiences tend to be limited to the nineteenth century. The collection adds up to 74 pieces, running from 18 April 1926 to 13 July 1967. This chapter presents the letters to Emiline Mary Viccars, nee Dawes, usually known as Maidie by her sister Grace. There are only four letters to Maidie, all from Grace, and all in 1945. The letters of these years are indicative of the tough economic times suffered by most of the new settlers, with low prices for their produce. But there is a further problem when the historian of migration endeavours to employ extracts from letters to answer large issues concerning, in this case, settlement, assimilation, Englishness and Australian identity. These letters appear to show an English migrant woman navigating between her past and her present, as all migrants do.
Professor Drummond's two pioneering studies, British Economic Policy and the Empire 1919-1939, 1972, and Imperial Economic Policy 1917-1939, 1974, helped to revive interest in Empire migration and other aspects of inter-war imperial economic history. This book concentrates upon the attempts to promote state-assisted migration in the post-First World War period particularly associated with the Empire Settlement Act of 1922. It examines the background to these new emigration experiments, the development of plans for both individual and family migration, as well as the specific schemes for the settlement of ex-servicemen and of women. Varying degrees of encouragement, acquiescence and resistance with which they were received in the dominions, are discussed. After the First World War there was a striking reorientation of state policy on emigration from the United Kingdom. A state-assisted emigration scheme for ex-servicemen and ex-servicewomen, operating from 1919 to 1922, was followed by an Empire Settlement Act, passed in 1922. This made significant British state funding available for assisted emigration and overseas land settlement in British Empire countries. Foremost amongst the achievements of the high-minded imperial projects was the free-passage scheme for ex-servicemen and women which operated between 1919 and 1922 under the auspices of the Oversea Settlement Committee. Cheap passages were considered as one of the prime factors in stimulating the flow of migration, particularly in the case of single women. The research represented here makes a significant contribution to the social histories of these states as well as of the United Kingdom.