SEVERAL prominent leaders of opinion in the British Commonwealth are convinced that a mass transfer of population and industries from Britain to the Dominions is desirable on economic as well as strategic grounds. On the one hand, it is held that Britain's stamina has been so weakened by two world wars that she can no longer support a population of 50,000,000 at anything like the prewar standard of living. On the other hand, it is argued that, even if the island could look forward to renewed prosperity, its security has been completely undermined by the grim possibilities of atomic attack.
One of the leading advocates of strategic dispersal is Mr. Calwell, Australia's Minister of Immigration, who would like to see as many as 20,000,000 people moved from England to other parts of the Commonwealth. Some of the military planners in London are thinking along similar lines. When the Prime Ministers of Britain and the Dominions met in April and May 1946, they had before them a memorandum by the British Chiefs of Staff suggesting a radical redistribution of the manpower and the military and industrial resources of the Commonwealth. Since then the international situation has become critical; and at the Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers held in London in October 1948 there seems to have been a new emphasis on the regional responsibility of each member of the Commonwealth to maintain adequate armed strength within its own geographical sphere.
In considering the problem of emigration we must distinguish between the economic and the strategic aspects. The first question is whether, on strictly economic grounds, Britain must now become a country of emigration. Has she reached a phase of her economic evolution in which an overflow of population is both necessary and desirable? Secondly, we must inquire whether the necessities of defense in an atomic age dictate a mass transfer of British manpower to less vulnerable parts of the Commonwealth. To phrase it bluntly, is Great Britain facing a supreme dilemma, a fundamental conflict between Defense
Loading, please wait...