No. 47 NAI DFA 318/14

Minute from Frederick H. Boland to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Dublin, 5 December 1945

Please see the foregoing note of a conversation I had with Mr. Archer.1 From the practical point of view, there is a great deal to be said for the idea of having a Branch British Permit Office in the west, but from the political point of view it is another matter. It is a question what the public reaction would be to such a visible proof of the fact that we are likely to lose a lot more of our man-power.

To my mind, this new British suggestion bears out the view which I expressed in a minute to you the other day that far from emigration to Britain ceasing or slackening off, it is likely to be stepped up to such a point as to create a serious national question from our point of view. I believe recent Government decisions have been based on a mistaken view of the immediate prospects. To my mind, it is becoming increasingly plain that Britain, faced with the problems of maintaining larger armed forces, providing for a higher standard of living and an increased civilian consumption at home, and expanding her exports by the 50% necessary to maintain her foreign payments position, realizes that she is faced with a man-power question herself and has decided that one of the easiest and cheapest methods of solving the difficulty is to draw the increased labour supplies which she requires from this country. As a result of her experience during the war, Britain has learnt a lesson which we have to learn yet - that manpower is as valuable and important a national asset as native raw materials or fixed capital equipment. It is really the height of folly for this country, with its progressively ageing population, to be investing effort in the rearing and maintaining of citizens until they are 20 or 21 years of age and then to be presenting Britain with the fruits of all this accumulated effort just at the time when they should be starting to add to our own national wealth.

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