Report from the Department of Emigration for the year 1948-49.
Department of Emigration
1. I have the honour to submit my annual report on emigration for the year 1948-1949.
2. Since this report is also intended for publication, I have tried to include in it a brief reference to the Island's economy, stating facts which are generally well known, but which cannot be left out from any account bearing on the emigration needs of the Island.
3. With full employment during the six years of war, and with a reconstruc-tion programme extending over eight to ten years thereafter, the economic position of the Island has been reasonably satisfactory, the standard of living has been raised and, in spite of a big decrease in the birth rate during the worst years of the war, the population increased from 250,000 in 1939 to 305,000 in 1948. The net natural increase in population in 1948. The net natural increase in population in 1949 was 8,000.
4. The density of population in these Islands is 2,511 to the square mile. The working population is 92,956 and well over one-third are employed in the Services including the Imperial Service. Manufactures absorb only one-fifth of the working population and agriculture only one-eighth. The building trade accounts for one-tenth. It will thus be seen that industry and agriculture, which are the principal resources on which the economy of any country is normally built, account for only one-third of the working population. The remaining two-thirds depend on entirely fortuitous circumstances, namely, employment with the Services, reconstruction and trade - the first rising and falling with the international political barometer of time, the second rapidly coming to an end, and the third largely depending on the fate of the first two.
5. The solution to an economic situation of this kind would normally be found in an expansion of industry and of agriculture - but the lack of natural resources in Malta makes such an expansion difficult. The drive that has been initiated in a few industries will, it is hoped, help to absorb quite a few men, but compared with the disproportion in the unstable openings for employment existing on the Island, the effect will hardly be perceptible.
6. It should be realized that during the next ten years no fewer than 30,000 boys will have attained the age of nineteen years, and nearly 10,000 men will have been laid off the various branches of reconstruction. Even if the present rate were to be maintained in other employment, the absorptiive rate for replacing outgoing workers is not likely to exceed 1,000 a year. So that out of 40,000 workers that will be seeking employment only 10,000 are likely to find it.
7. The balance of thirty-thousand unemployed wage earners is almost equivalent to the present number of workers in employment with the Services, or to a third of the working population. On an average of three dependents to each worker it will be found that in ten years' time we shall, except for a bigger and vigorously sustained emigration drive, have a population of 120,000 unprovided for, with terrible consequences to the standard of living, the life and the economy of the Island.
8. Even before the publication of the 1948 Census, which enables us to look so revealingly into the future, there was general agreement that emigration was our only salvation, but there was never adequate appreciation of the problem in the way the Census has placed it before us. On the above basis it is necessary for our people to emigrate at a minimum rate of 12,000 a year, and the magnitude of this foremost problem of the Islanresent emigration figures.
9. The net emigration gain for the eighteen years preceding World War II averaged only 910 a year. In 1947-48 the gain was 2,592 and in 1948-49 it rose to 2,991. The postwar increase shows important progress but it falls dismally short of our requirements.
10. In pre-war years emigration was left to find its own level dictated by the personal means of the migrants and the restrictions imposed. There were no agreements with the countries of immigration and there was no passage assistance worth speaking of. Under such conditions it was not possible to make much headway.
11. It was only with the unprecedented drive initiated since the election of Ministers in November 1947 that the problem of emigration was for the first time realistically approached. It was realized that the average working class man could not afford the cost of a paceiving countries.
12. A ministerial mission of goodwill, headed by yourself, proceeded to Canada, the U.S.A. and Australia in September 1948. Important contacts were made in those countries and valuable concessions were obtained for Malta. A first-hand knowledge was obtained of the settlement possibilities in those countries, and great enthusiasm was roused amongst thousands of Maltese settlers to assist in the settlement of as many new migrants from Malta as possible.
13. The immediate results of the mission were that Canada provisionally agreed to the sending of another large contingent of migrants from Malta as early as possible; that the U.S.A. was speeding up facilities for the issue of visas in Malta; and that Australia agreed (a)migrants to child institutions in Australia. Nominations from Maltese settlers in Australia, the U.S.A. and Canada were also substantially increased.
14. The undersigned in his capacity of Director of Emigration formed part of the mission and thus also gained first hand experience of the countries of immig-ration for the benefit of his Department.
15. It was too early for the effects of the results achieved to become apparent in the migration figures for the year under review, though that year constituted an all time record in the number of departures, but even at the time of writing this report it has become evident that migration will be steadily stepped up.
16. The mission showed that there was a wealth of goodwill and co-operation in the receiving countries towards our ptacts, the closest relations with the other members of the Common-wealth and the U.S.A. not only to maintain our legitimate place within the Commonwealth but as a necessary condition for the promotion of migration.
17. An expansion in our representation abroad would also help in the maintenance of these relations and, among other things, would enable us better to watch openiindependent or Government, and generally to look after the interests of our settlers, old or new, since it is on their success and contentment that a continued movement from Malta will always largely depend.
18. By far the most successful form of migration is that whereby the migrant goes forward independently at the call of relatives or friends. This method has accounted for all pre-war migration and accounts for the bulk of the present movement. The Government-sponsored form of migration, whereby a number of migrants are selected to proceed to employment arranged by the Government concerned, though sychological effect on the migrants resulting from the curtailment of the initiative and of the responsibility that usually characterize the independent effort so very well marked in the early pioneers.
19. Because of the housing shortage and other difficulties in the receiving countries, individual sponsorship has, however, its limitations, and if migration is to be increased to anything like the target above mentioned, it is necessary not only to stimulate and facilitate this method, but also to have full recourse to special schemes the Government may find it possible to negotiate with the countries of immigration.
20. During the year under review, Governmwnt-sponsored migration accounted for 720 of the 1,958 men (as distinct from women and children) who permanently left th island: 500 proceeded to Canada in May and June of 1948.
21. The adverse psychological effect above referred to became apparent a few weeks after the 500 men had arrived in Canada. The country was practically new to Maltese immigration. There were no friends or relatives to receive and help them as there were in Australia and the U.S.A., and the difficulties of finding hous-ing accommodation for their families appeared insurmountable. As a result, a number of them felt an urge to change a few places before settling down while a few others - men who had probably over-rated their capabilities or who had been carried away by the enthusiasm and rush that followed the announcement in Malta of this movement rather than by any proper understanding of the step they were taking - returned to Malta. This weeding out could not be helpal of 772 persons against 90 who returned during the same period. The nucleus of settlers thus formed in Canada have been able to inform their relatives and friends in Malta of settlement prospects in that country and an independent, though as yet small, flow of migrants has been maintained. In accordance with the provisional agreement reached in Ottawa in the course of the Ministerial Mission, the second contingent of Government-sponsored migrants will be spread over a number of months in order to facilitate settlement.
22. The Government-sponsored movement to Australia also met with serious initial difficulties. A number of the migrants left the employment allotted to them in Canberra for which they had been specially selected before departure from Malta. and it became necee them.
23. As in the case of Canada, this special shipment to Australia was soon to be followed by a gradually increasing flow of relatives and friends whom the men found possible to nominate after arrival, and this is exactly the great value of the Government-sponsored movement which, though initially less satisfactory, yet opens up new and ever widening possibilities for independent settlement.
24. In the face of a world shipping shortage and the displacement of millions of people as a result of the war, it became necessary for the Government to arrange special shipping for the migrants. Shipping was arranged for Canada, the U.S.A. and Australia, but the provision of shipping itself was dependent on the availability of migrants who could d that to Australia by the housing shortage in that country and by the fact that the Passage Assistance Agreement, which was signed on the 31st May 1948, did not come into operation before the 1st January 1949.
25. Passages to Australia are the most expensive not only because of the longer distance but because there is no passenger load for most of the ships on the return voyage. To meet the situation the Australian Government obtained, at very high cost, special ships from the Ministry of Transport for the carrying of United Kingdom migrants, but the shipping was inadequate. In signing the Agree-ment with Malta, the Australian Government made it clear that with the exception of a few allocations on the "Asturias" they could not spare any shipping for migrants from Malta and that shipping for such migrants was to be arranged betweenis but, unlike Australia, Malta could not go to the expense of from Stg 100,000 to Stg 200,000 for the mere fitting out of a single ship plus the expense and great risks involved in running such a ship, when, for the reasons stated above, it was extremely unlikely that the ship would be filled with nominated migrants every time she sailed for Australia.
26.There is a widespread impression that displaced persons have been finding shipping easily enough. What is not probably realised is that these persons travel under the auspices of the International Refugee Organization whose funds are contributed by international agreement by the various countries concerned. The I.R.O. have chartered several ships, including ships of the Ministry of Transport, obtained on the same basis on which they were offered to Malta, first because they had the funds and second because they could count on a definite number of passengers. The actual cost of running these ships, both to the Australian Government and I.R.O., was however in excess of the cost at which commercial shipping often became available.
27. It should be emphasised that under the Stg for Stg Passage Assistance Agreement with Australia, the migrant receives assistance from both Government up to Stg 60 and that even at say Stg 110, which is not considered a high fare, he still has to contribute Stg 50. This may be beyond the means of an average worker especially if he is travelling with his family.
28. Under these circumstances it became necessary to strike a balance between the best tonnage and comfort and the lowest fares that could be obtained. This has worked out reasonably satisfactorily and, as stated above, departures have not been restricted by the shipping shortage so much as by the lack of nominations.
29. The shipments arranged by the Government since November 1947 are given hereunder:
30. Seventy-two migrants left for Australia by ships of the Aberdeen & Commonwealth Line also from Malta.
31. A registration system is in operation in the Department and the migrants are given shipping priority in agreement with the Australian Government in strict rotation within three sepae requirements governing their departure.
32. The three separate categories are made up of:
33. This system is obviously the simplest and fairest arot relevant to the determination of his priority which, as stated above, is based on the date of registration and the category to which the migrant belongs.
34. The number of prospective migrants on the Register of the Department as on the 31st March 1949, was 42,120 made up as follows:
35. The question of equipping, as far as possible, prospective migrants to enable them to fit into the industrial life of the countries of their choice was very carefully gone into immediately Ministers were elected in November 1947.
36. Conferences were held between the Ministry of Emigration and Labour and the Ministry of Education and a scheme was evolved intended to give the emigrants short but intensive courses very much on Army lines as a short term policy in contrast with the long term preparations that were also initiated and that would later produce the highly skilled artisan who is so much in demand in all countries of immigration.
37. In response to an announcement inviting applications from prospective migrants to take any of the short courses mentioned, over 1,000 prospective migrants registered with the Department of Emigration in the first five days. Gradually courses were started as follows:
38. In just over one year these classes have turned out over 1,000 trainees most of whom have emigrated. Four hundred are now under training and six hundred are on the waiting list.
39. In Canada, the U.S.A. and Australia those of our men who had the necessaryct is that especially in Australia skilled employment is largely controlled by trade unions, and only after the migrants can demonstrate that their standard of skill in their trade is equivalent to that of union members will they be allowed to be employed at their trade and receive wages as tradesmen.
40. Owing to the housing shortage in these countries the demand at present is mainly for carpenters, painters, plumbers, electrical fitters and electricians. Brick-layers, concrete workers and plasterers are also in great demand.
41. What is now needed is an intensification of training of pated that with a return to normality in those countries immigration may well be restricted to skilled workers.
42. The figures showing permanent departures against permanent arrivals during the year under review, as compared with those for the previous year, are given hereunder:
43. These figures show a considerable increase over the previous year in the number of departures to Australia and Canada, but a decrease in the number of departures to South Africa, the Unite
44. In my report for the previous year I stated that for the highly skilled worker South Africa has proved to be a very suitable country. During that year a regular movement had been initiated which enabled over 100 migrants to settle successfully in that country. Technical difficulties had however led to a temporary stoppage in the movement to South Africa. Eventually a new Government was elected which did not favour immigration.
45. Migration to the United Kingdom came down from an average of 133 a month during the first six months to an average of 66 per month during the second six months of the previous year. The latter rate has been maintained and 747 left for that country during 1948-49.
46. The United Kingdom offers good opportunities for employment particu-larly to the skilled worker.
47. Departures to the U.S.A. are restricted not by a lack of quota visas or a lack of applicants, but by the lack of a Consular Officer in Malta to issue the visas. It may seem strange that hundreds of people anxious to join their relatives or friends in the U.S.A. should be held back for no other reason than this - yet that is the position.
48. The question was taken up in Washington during the Ministerial Mission. The Department of State was highly sympathetic and it is expected that a Consular Officer may be posted to Malta in the course of next year.
49. During the year under review no Consular Officers visited Malta and this accounts for the small number of visas issued, namely, 323 as compared with 723 during the previous year when two Consular visits were paid. Every applicant had to incur the expenses of flying to the American Consulate in Tunis for the visa and the number issued was restricted to the limitations imposed on the Consular Officer concerned.
50. An analysis of the ages of the migrants who left Malta during the year under review shows that 73% were under 30 years of age, 18% between 30 and 40 and 9% over 40. Fifty-three per cent were in the marriageable groups of from 20 to 35 years, representing the transfer of an important potential in the population increase. Over 20% were children under 15 years of age who thus correspond-ingly eased up the problem of child upbringing and their future employment.
51. The migration of this young blood not only results in far-reaching benefits to our population problem: it makes for far easier assimilation in the new country, which is essential for successful settlement.
52. The following percentages show in greater detail how the movement was made up:
53. A total of Stg 48,586 was spent on assisted passages during the year under review made up as follows:
54. With the coming into operation of the Passage Assistance Agreement with Australia on the 1st January, 1949, the figure for Australia will considerably increase next year.
55. Assisted migrants who return to Malta are made to refund the amounts received.
56. The increase in the number of departures for Australia and Canada from 359 in 1947-48 to 2,037 in 1948-49 put a terrific strain on the small staff at my disposal. The processing of migrants for these two particular countmust be performed with meticulous care. The staff was increased by three officers, including an additional medical officer, but it is still inadequate and must be further increased in order to be able to deal with the much larger volume of migrants expected to go through the Department during the coming years. The number of persons who called during the year averaged 200 to 300 a day as shown hereunder:
57. Appendices "A" to "H" show in detail the migratory movement from and to these Islands and give also information regarding other phases of the work of the Department.
I have the honour to be,
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