Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 207 - 219)




207—Good morning, colleagues, can I welcome everyone to this morning's session of the Committee and particularly thank our witnesses today, first of all, for their very helpful written evidence and for their willingness to come along and give oral evidence to us. I am aware that Mr Singleton from Barnardo's has been delayed but he will be coming later, probably around 11 o'clock. Could I first of all ask each of the witnesses to briefly introduce yourselves and say a little about the work of your agency in respect of the Child Migrant scheme, both historically and in terms of contemporary policy issues. Canon Fisher, would you like to begin?

(Canon Fisher) My name is Canon Chris Fisher. I am chairman of the Catholic Child Welfare Council of England and Wales. As you know, a number of our member agencies were sending agencies in migration both to Canada, in the previous history and, more recently, Australia. We have identified approximately 1,150 former migrants who went to Australia, and that is our particular focus at the moment. We believe we have been responding very pro-actively, including visits to Australia ourselves and encouraging visits to England of former migrants, and have done a lot of tracing work and introductions to family in what I would say is a very professional manner. That is the way we see ourselves. I may state at this stage that we feel grossly under-funded and taking a very single line approach ourselves, and that we are having to finance that virtually without help.

(Mr Lovell) I am David Lovell, I am Social Work Director with the Children's Society, a national and voluntary child care charity working in England and Wales. The society was established in 1881 and in its early years was involved in child migration. The details of that are that between 1883, two years after the society was established, and 1937, some 3,940 children were emigrated to Canada through the Children's Society. Then, between 1925 and the early 1950s, some 400 children were emigrated to Australia and the former Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. So that principally the society was involved largely, in terms of numbers, in the emigration of children to Canada and only latterly, and with fewer numbers, involved in the emigration of children to Australia and Rhodesia. After 1909, all of the children sent to Canada were aged over 14, and the children sent to Australia and Zimbabwe were younger. The children emigrated to Canada were received in Canada in one of five receiving homes that were the responsibility of the Children's Society, and the children emigrated to Australia and Zimbabwe were received by receiving homes run by other organisations. So the main principal activity of the society was to Canada. Since then, and currently, we have established in the last six or eight years a post-adoption and care service which deals with all aftercare matters, not just child migration, and any enquiries around child migration are dealt with by that service which was set up and is run by us, and costs somewhere in the region of a quarter of a million pounds a year to run.

(Mr Haynes) Perhaps I could reverse the order. Fairbridge currently, today, is a national charity which offers long-term personal development to young people aged 14 to 25 in inner cities. We equip them with the skills they need to meet the opportunities in life, and we work from 11 inner city centres, with some 3,000 young people referred to us by probation officers, social services, drug and rehabilitation agencies. We have a residential centre funded by the Home Office in Applecross, providing residential courses and a schooner. Our current expenditure budget is £4.3 million a year. Previously, the Fairbridge Society, which ceased in 1982 and is now under a constitution and re-shifting of goals approved by the Charity Commissioners, operated a process of child emigration to farm schools in Australia, Canada and Rhodesia. Fairbridge's policy currently towards the former Child Migrants is primarily focused on their access to personal records, to its archives now held and administered by the University of Liverpool. Fairbridge cannot provide the aftercare and counselling required but advises applicants on the strong need for such services to take place. What I am trying to tell you is that our constitution has changed and I have had to acquire a lot of knowledge about the past in a very short period of time to come before the Select Committee.

(Mrs McGrogan) My name is Patricia McGrogan, I am chief officer of the Family Care Society, which is a voluntary adoption agency operating throughout Northern Ireland. There were 100 children who went from Northern Ireland throughout the scheme, so the number is relatively small, and we endeavour, when we get enquiries—most of them would come from the CCWC—to respond to them. We work with the sending agencies in getting information, in tracing families and providing counselling and arranging for reunion work. The service which is provided is within our aftercare service for all children we have been associated with who were in care, so it is very much based on professional social work principles. We also offer help to any enquiries which arise when the original families of the migrants might have come from the South of Ireland, we can liaise with agencies there, so we do have extra work in that area. We do not have any direct funding for the work, hence our service is often based on what we can actually do as opposed to what is needed. In many of the enquiries, while there may be one named migrant, there can be anything up to six, eight or 10 family members associated with that person, and a lot of work is often needed to provide all the migrants would like. We are not able to give as much as we feel would be professionally acceptable. Also, perhaps, as we do the work today we are learning about the background information on why the migrants went from a family point of view, which is very sad, as well as the actual circumstances of what the migrant experienced when they were away, so it is very labour intensive work. Historically, it is difficult to always get the sort of information and get the responses which migrants would like, because of the historical distance but also there is the distance working with them if they are not able to come to Ireland if they are in Australia. We are very committed to helping but it is the old story, we are very limited. We work closely with the CCWC in terms of trying to be as effective and efficient as we can because there can be a lot of duplication, and the more agencies there are the easier it is.

(Ms Abrahams) I am Caroline Abrahams and I am head of public policy at NCH Action for Children, which was founded in 1869 as the National Children's Home by a Methodist Minister. We were then and remain now constitutionally part of the Methodist Church. Most of our involvement in child migration took place in the years leading up to the First World War. Up to 1931 from our foundation, we sent about 3,600 children to Canada, and that was really under the auspices of the links within the international Methodist Church. So what happened was that they went to Methodist Children's Homes in Canada via a reception centre and there was somebody there also to supervise placements and try to make sure that the children's welfare was adequately cared for. After the First World War, child migration for us never achieved the levels it had before. In the 1930s, between 1937 and 1939, we sent 39 children via the Fairbridge operation, which you have already heard about, and then after the Second World War, in the years 1950 to 1951, we sent 90 children to Australia. All but 12 of them went in 1950 on one boat. Again, on that occasion, two of our sisterhood—we operated a sisterhood of Christian women with a vocation to care—accompanied the children to a reception centre before the children were then sent again largely to Methodist Children's Homes, except for 15 who went to a Barnardo's establishment. Today we acknowledge our continuing responsibility to those children, those former migrants, and indeed to their families, and our efforts to date really are concentrated on ensuring that they should have appropriate access, full access, to the records so they can piece together the details of their lives, but we think it is very important that that should be supported access because of the understandable trauma which can ensue to them when that process is undertaken. We have also from time to time co-operated with the Child Migrants' Trust if people wish to use their services, and again we are very keen to continue to do so.

(Major Oakley) Ray Oakley from the Salvation Army. I am director for social services development. I will try to keep the comments relevant to the subject. The Salvation Army was founded in 1878, formerly as the Christian Mission. Its social work was really based on a book by William Booth called Darkest England and the Way Out, published in 1890. The principles of that have spread throughout the Salvation Army's work in over 100 countries. The Salvation Army very early on, because of the concepts that William Booth had about the importance of environment in helping people, were enthusiasts for migration and formed a migration policy very early, but the object of that was to assist people, particularly families, to move from this country principally to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. By 1930 something like 250,000 people had used those services, and the services, which were to arrange the voyage, helping find jobs, accommodation, advising on skills, were the main bulk of the work. There were additional schemes which were particularly aimed at young boys when they left school at 14, if they went into dead-end jobs or they could not find any work they went to one of the Salvation Army's training farms at Hadleigh which sought to prepare them for farming particularly in Australia and New Zealand. There was great concern in these receiving countries that the Salvation Army would be bringing in the waifs and strays from England and dumping them on their doorstep and therefore the Salvation Army had to vet their health, the moral quality of their character and even then obtain the approval in the main of their parents. I have to say that in this country our records are greatly hampered by the fact our headquarters were bombed in the Second World War but the receiving countries have very detailed records and those are available. This information is in my submission and this includes details of the children who went to New Zealand, (also our heritage centre has details of the NZ people) taken from the UK. So there is difficulty here in obtaining that information but it is held in the relevant territories. Right from the start, in fact from 1885, the Salvation Army had a missing persons' bureau and that still exists in virtually every country the Salvation Army operates. In this country it is called the family tracing service and it is very much used as a link to try and link young people or any relative who has been separated by war or for whatever reason including the Child Migrant schemes. We successfully unite about 4,000 people with their families each year. That is about 85 per cent of the enquiries we get. Sadly, we have never kept separately the number of Child Migrants in that number. It has always been brought into the investigation. We had discussions with the Child Migrants' Trust way back in 1989, two years after their foundation, as to how we might help and we do very much support any efforts to re-unite children or any other relatives with their families and that is an integral part of our work. Like my colleagues, I do rely on information which is historical. Most of the Salvation Army migration schemes were in the 1920s, particularly relating to boys who went for training on farms, but I do have the agreements between the Governments and the Salvation Army in Australia about this and they set out the standards which were required, both in terms of their placements, their training, and the placement on the farms and the support and how they should be monitored, and removed if it was not successful. So there is some information which is specific but a lot of it is quite general. I am very happy to answer any questions I can as to how we can help now and in the future.208 Do you as agencies have any kind of collective organisation that brings you together to discuss common areas of concern in respect of the former migrants and the issues that many of you have raised already?
(Canon Fisher) Yes, we have a sending agencies group which meet regularly to discuss policy and how the current needs of former migrants can be met.209 Does that offer a collective view of relationships, for example, with the Child Migrants' Trust?
(Canon Fisher) I think all of us have a healthy relationship now with the Child Migrants' Trust. They were invited to join our group but are reluctant to do so, for whatever reason; I am not sure why. Our remit is to give the former migrants choice but as sending agencies we feel we have a responsibility for our clients ourselves, that part of their history is tied up with our history. Whether that has been a good experience or a negative experience we still feel that the relationship needs to be established at that level.
(Mr Haynes) We also agree there needs to be consideration of a clearing shop or an agency which has, if you like, the powers and authority to enable the process. The voluntary sector itself, however committed it is to the work it does, does not actually have the enabling powers to be able to work between governments, and in this case you are aware we are working between Canada, Australia and this Government. Also, if you take into account the aspect of access to records and, more important than that perhaps, recognition and identity of former migrants which comes into the business of owning passports, you are looking at, I suggest, some sort of agency which has government authority.210 One of the questions I put to the other witnesses in the two previous sessions has been a personal concern, that as somebody who personally worked in your area of work, social work, for many years, it is frankly amazing to me that I knew absolutely nothing about this scheme, which ran until 1967, until 1992 when I was a Member of Parliament. Why is it that so little is known about this issue?
(Mr Haynes) I put it to you, was it an issue or has it become one? If you look at primarily Fairbridge's records, and we are dealing with some 3,770 so a potential of 6,000 people who went through the processes, the main concerns at that time were access of information and the processes which needed to be in place to establish the access of information; that was the important aspect. It was not, as it has become, re-unification.211 So what you are saying is that it has become an issue in more recent times?
(Mr Haynes) I think it has been brought to the attention of a large number of agencies and people in more recent times, yes.212 Can I put to you, not just you, Mr Haynes but the other witnesses, what has been put to me by one or two people, that there has been a positive attempt to cover up this scheme in the contemporary interests of the agencies? I accept, and some of you were very clear in your evidence, that you are faced with difficulties in dealing with the matter now as a consequence of financial pressures, and if you work with former migrants now that would be resources which will not be used in your day-to-work, very valuable work, which I am sure we all accept is being done with children, young people or others who come within your remit. Is this an issue that it is fair to say there is some concern about, that there has been a cover up?
(Mr Haynes) If I may deal with the first point from Fairbridge's perspective. There has never been any need to cover up. If you take the whole of Fairbridge's associations which are healthy organisations and representative organisations which exist in Australia and Canada, if you take the establishment of the records for Fairbridge in Liverpool, and if you take our response to the press going back to the films which sensationalised it, like The Leaving of Liverpool, I cannot find any indication of a cover up, nor can I really understand why there needed to be one.

Mr Austin
213 Can I ask you why you used the word "sensationalised"?
(Mr Haynes) If you take the context of the film, which was a drama, which actually provoked a large amount of press enquiry into this matter, it was not based on fact.

214 I think it is fair to say as a Committee are dealing with fact and evidence and, as you appreciate, we had before us last week people who had been placed by various agencies in Australia, who felt very aggrieved about this matter. It is people like that who feel there has been a deliberate attempt to suppress information by some of the agencies for various reasons. You have answered that, Mr Haynes. Does anybody else wish to respond? Canon Fisher, do you wish to respond to that?
(Canon Fisher) I would like, first of all, to say that we do not believe there has been a cover up, certainly speaking on behalf of the Catholic agencies. The matter was covered quite fully in The Times on 19 April 1938 and, since then up until 1992, our agencies dealt with some 171 enquiries from individuals who were former Child Migrants some 30 enquiries specifically from Australia. These were dealt with in the normal professional way of being referred from the Catholic Child Welfare Council to the sending agency, the sending agency then used their current procedures of follow up and aftercare they would normally invoke. So we felt from the earliest days we were being slightly castigated by some of the accusations made in the press. I must say that I think the media hype has been less than accurate in terms of numbers, in terms, for instance, only last week talking about migration to Canada and showing children arriving in Perth as the film background. I think there has been an inconsistency in the press coverage. None of us, I think, in light of hindsight and in terms of present day understanding of abuse, would want to cover up any of the abusive things which happened to young people in their transition from England to Australia or while they were there. We are not in the business of cover-up at all. We would like particularly to focus on present day help which can be offered to people in Australia who are trying to trace their roots. You may recall we met when you were a member of the Opposition in this House, when we pressed very heavily for a Government inquiry both here and in Australia. Thankfully, this one is now taking place, but it has taken a long time since the first time we met in order to overcome this idea of cover up. Within our agencies we certainly have had no cover up, from the roots of our agencies, right up the hierarchy in the church. I was speaking to Cardinal Hulme just a few weeks ago when a group of visitors came from Australia and he immediately was trying to express his personal feeling for the experiences that people had had in Australia which they had no choice about. What we are keen about now is that the former migrants do have choice in coming back either to ourselves or via a clearing house which would be able to offer them advice on where to go. We do feel the sending agencies have a specific role in that insofar as, as I said, we are part of the history. Since 1946 and up to 1998 we have dealt with 343 enquiries involving some 1,500 to 2,000 people. The Catholic Child Welfare Council is only a federation, as you may know, and its total income is subscriptions from its member agencies, so our funds are very limited. We have been helped in our funding of this to a small degree by donations from the Christian Brothers in Australia and from the Sisters of Nazareth who, between them, were the main receiving agencies in Australia, but we have had no support or help at all in England.215 On this issue of a cover up, and I say this as somebody who has a great deal of respect for the agencies within your remit and as you know have worked with them. One of the witnesses last week, and I have got the transcript here, talks of the response from one particular institution in respect of why it was not possible to access records, and that was a Catholic institution, and the term he used was, "How can you deal with a former child migrant and explain why he or she was in the position they were in because their father was a priest?" That was one witness last week that put that to us, and that is why certain people believe there has been a certain degree of cover up not, I would hasten to add, just by your organisation or organisations but by the agencies in general because of a concern about some very difficult parts of our history.
(Canon Fisher) I cannot answer obviously for that particular enquiry.216 Of course.
(Canon Fisher) If I could give evidence from a more representative range of witnesses, I visited Australia myself in 1995 and I visited every single institution either past or present to which those former migrants went and I visited heads of homes, staff, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, everybody involved there, and I interviewed approximately 100 former migrants out of our 1,147 which I think was fairly representative. I would suggest to you, and I do not want to mitigate in any way the abuse that some of those former migrants experienced, that I met far more people who were happy with that migration than were unhappy with it in order to get what I would call an unbiased opinion of the whole thing. In hindsight, and I speak for myself but I probably represent everyone here, I do not think any of us would support such a scheme today. You know what I mean? We would all consider that it was misguided but we would not take, as voluntary agencies, responsibility for that misguidance. I think that has to be shared with the governments of the various nations that were involved.
(Mr Lovell) On your point about the fact that for a long time this was an issue you were unaware of and why, I think you need to remember that all of us in the agencies we represent are dealing with something that we were not personally involved in.216 Of course, we appreciate that.
(Mr Lovell) So we come into our agencies and deal with contemporary and current issues around children and young people, and this is something that we accept the responsibility for in the past, and there has been a developing and growing awareness of this. I think the question you may have is, how pro-active have we been, why has it taken so long for some of us to get into this and recognise it. That is not a cover up but it may be an issue about what we have been doing and what we are doing. I certainly, from my agency, would categorically deny there has ever been such. The emigration scheme we were involved in has been in a lot of our literature that is public, enquirers have had access to reports. Certainly in my experience over the last decade or so there would not have been cases where people would have been denied access to the records we hold. The other thing you may wish to consider is that over the last decade or so, there has been, not in the area of child migration but in the area of adoption, a growing development of the issue about people tracing their past. In adoption, we now have the notion of open adoption. So I think there has also been a growing issue and awareness of how important links with the past are. I think that has been developing. I would certainly deny that we have been involved in any cover up, either ourselves or with others.
(Ms Abrahams) I think it is important I say from the NCH Action for Children point of view that we too categorically deny that we have been involved in any kind of cover up. We have not received any accusations of abuse concerning any of the children who migrated under our scheme, but that is not to say we are complacent about that, it does not mean to say there will not be one tomorrow or next week or next month, because it takes people a long time before they have the courage to be able to express that. Also I would like to say that no one in their right mind today would seek to justify child migration. It is frankly incomprehensible to people today and I think one of the great tragedies of this situation is that during the lifetime, say, of people who migrated from our establishment in 1950, we have had two different time spans. We have the time span of the person's life and we have the revolution in social work understanding about what children need. Sadly, in those days, in many ways a good thing, there was lots of emphasis on children's prospects and doing well and what we now understand is that many of those people who made a material success of their life in Australia or Canada still feel a deep sense of loss because of what happened to them and the way they went. What we feel now is that they should have the right, not only to have full, supported access to their records—that is a start but it is not enough—but very often what they are seeking is to be re-united with relatives. Whilst we feel Governments in Australia, Canada and Britain must play the lead there, we have a part to play too and we would be the first to acknowledge that.
(Mrs McGrogan) I would like to support the view that perhaps we were not aware in the earlier days of the effects of child migration on children, in the same way we were not aware of the effects of adoption on young people, and as we now know it has become much easier to get access to information. There was never any question of a cover up. There may have been indications of people making enquiries and there may have been passive responses like, "We are unable to help you because we do not know where to find it", but now there is a much more pro-active approach and more expertise in dealing with that. So what could be construed as a cover up is perhaps lack of awareness.

(Major Oakley) I would like to say in support of colleagues that as far as the Salvation Army is concerned, there is no policy of a cover up. When you have a huge organisation and many individuals, I cannot put my hand on my heart and say that when someone criticises an individual in an organisation there is not a defensive reaction, it is quite natural. I can see the cumulative effect of that could be construed as a policy cover up but can certainly say there has not been one. There is in every land in which the Salvation Army operate published procedures for complaints of sexual and other abuse and those are published and followed. In terms of supplying information, when we first met the Migrants' Trust in 1989, and I am not aware—and I could be corrected—of more recent contact, we made two offers. One was that we would certainly try and help the migrants trace their families and relatives and, secondly, if there were Salvation Army children who went out and were not happy about using the Salvation Army, we would be quite happy to fund another agency to do it for them. I would like to say that in my view the Salvation Army have to come to the enormous conclusion that we are not the answer to everybody's prayers, and in terms of helping child migrants in the future in tracing families, they do need options. I read very recently a book published in Australia, Orphans of the Empire by Alan Gill. There are four complaints of abuse, mainly physical abuse, in some orphanages, which were actually reformatories at the time, and it was said they were not followed down, but they have not been followed down because they have never made a formal complaint to us. It does say that there is a view in trying to trace their relatives that if one organisation takes control of the information and releases it to them, there is the same kind of concern about somebody having power over them which they had originally. So I do feel in this age in which we live it is important to have very clear guidance about how people can get help, whether it is counselling, whether it is family tracing, whatever, that there are a number of ways in which that can be given because I do feel if it is all channelled in one single agency, whoever that is, we may be creating the same kind of feelings which were in the child migrants when decisions were made on their behalf. I say that, having reflected on some of the issues relating to that particular point.218 Before I bring in some of my colleagues, can I welcome Mr Singleton. I appreciate you have had some difficulties this morning. Would you like to introduce yourself and could I specifically say that I was particularly interested in your evidence where you indicated that your organisation was constrained from apologising by the requirements of your insurers. I would be interested in a little more information about that and whether any of the other agencies have felt the need to consider this area of apology which, of course, is something which has been raised with us by a number of other witnesses.
(Mr Singleton) Thank you very much. I do apologise on behalf of London Underground. Very briefly, Barnardo's current policy is to seek to mitigate as far as possible the heavily adverse impacts of being migrated on people individually. Very briefly, we have a section which is committed not only to work with people who were migrated but other people who were in the care of Barnardo's, and that is constantly providing antecedent information, helping tracing relatives, organising reunions, picking up the pieces when those reunions do not work out in the way one hopes they will—photographs, birth certificates, personal ephemeral, and so on. That is done face to face, either in our offices or in the migrants' own homes if they are resident in this country. In Australia it is done by our sister organisation, Barnardo's Australia, whom we grant-aid to the tune of £50,000 a year to do this work on our behalf. It has to be done largely by post in relation to the pre-war migrants to Canada, where we do not have an operation, but where some work is done on our behalf by voluntary organisations, and I believe Mr Lorente has already given evidence to the Committee. Also we have a programme of annual visits by our staff to Canada. May I comment on the cover up point, Chairman, because I was just coming in as that point was being addressed? I think I stand in the same stream as my colleagues on this. We have spent months going through files to prepare for this inquiry and we can find not one shred of evidence that Barnardo's colluded with either the fact that migration was occurring when it was occurring, or that in fact it happened retrospectively. On the contrary, the evidence points in the opposite direction. I am a little ashamed, I am very ashamed, to have to say that if you look at the promotion literature at the time, if you look at the collecting devices, if you look at the annual reports, the promotional films the organisation made by itself, it was actually rather proud to be participating in child migration. The BBC films that feature the history have, some of them, referred to the migration programme and the organisation's official history, published in 1987 and which was independently written, contains a highly critical chapter on migration. As someone who worked in local government services in the 1960s I can understand the puzzlement about why many of us have not heard of child migration, but I have to say, having looked at it more carefully from the perspective of voluntary organisations, I do not think the conclusion logically follows that that is because the organisations participated in a cover up. I think there are other explanations. On the insurance matter, we are here acting on legal advice. You will be familiar with the fact that risks are insured. The present position of our insurers is ultra cautious, to put it mildly, on anything which would remotely resemble making a public apology, and I do not think we need to dwell on speculating on why that is so. We have taken legal advice on the position of our insurers and the legal advice to Barnardo's and its trustees is that we should continue to be cautious although we are continuing to press our insurers to try and ease their attitude where it is absolutely clear that by the standards of the time a particular migrant had a rough and difficult time. We want actually to be able to formally say sorry on behalf of the organisation. The only resources that the organisation would have to be able to meet, for example, any compensation claims which flow from that would be in relation to money donated for today's work, and that does mean that the trustees have to take very careful account of the legal advice they receive.
(Canon Fisher) Ditto.

Mr Gunnell
219 I would just like to add a comment on the whole cover up issue which we have discussed. It seems to me that Ms Abrahams actually pinpointed one of the reasons for the way in which we perceive things differently, and that is the whole way in which we perceive the relationship between parent and child is now so different from the time in which these migrations occurred. We find it very hard to take what we know at present out of our thinking when we think about the sort of evidence which we received last week, because we did receive very dramatic evidence. We now have the view that separating a child from its birth family and breaking those relationships is enormously damaging in a variety of ways which perhaps were not seen at the time, therefore we do take, in a sense, a much more negative attitude of the work of the agencies now when we look back at that with hindsight than perhaps people did at the time at which these separations occurred. I think it is very difficult when you hear evidence from people who speak about their personal pain, and one of the pieces of evidence from someone last week who went on to achieve a great deal as a migrant in Australia was that he would give up all that he had achieved for ten minutes with his mother. It was something which clearly he felt very deeply. One could not help looking at it in the light of what we now know about those sorts of relationships, and we actually tend to feel the whole work of migration, which you were all part of—or which your organisations were part of—was totally misguided and a wholly inappropriate way in which to treat children. For that reason, and because the current view of child care is so much that present view, therefore the activities which your organisations took part in at the turn of the century into the 1960s are activities which now we feel extremely negative about and so do those who in a sense have experienced the pain as a result of it. I do not think we can put that easily out of our minds when we come to look at the present situation, which is why we perhaps judge you rather more harshly today than might have been the case in the past. When one comes to the question of cover up, again to quote a bit of evidence from last week which comes a bit further in the same evidence that the Chairman quoted to you a little while ago but I think puts it perhaps even more dramatically, and this is one of the people who is working for the Child Migrants' Trust: "How can you explain if you work for an agency to a former Child Migrant that you have spent 30 years deceiving members of their family who have enquired about their whereabouts by telling them they had been adopted," when clearly they had not. We had people last week who were explaining why they were not able to trust the sending agency, because the question was one of trust, and that was why they felt they were unable to go to what one thought was desirable in terms of a one-stop shop to find out about the past, because they thought there were some members of that one-stop shop who would be people who were part of the sending agencies and therefore had an interest in not telling them the truth because there were up-to-date examples of them not being told the truth. So we have in a sense a burden from the past which makes it difficult to proceed with the focus of the work now in the present and in the future which I understand you quite rightly want to focus on, but that is why it is very hard to focus on the future for people particularly who have suffered the pain they have suffered. Let me move on to a different issue. The evidence which you as agencies gave was that the Government played a very active part in establishing the migration schemes, and I wanted to ask you as agencies what evidence you have that successive British Governments actively instigated child migration as opposed to simply providing a legislative framework in which you could operate that policy? Did your organisations lobby strongly after the Second World War for the continuation of child migration? It clearly was a Government policy to support the process of child migration, and some of your evidence suggests that was the most important factor in terms of your policies as sending agencies. Can you comment on that?
(Canon Fisher) Certainly the Government departments funded the actual departure of children, they picked up the tab for the boats which were loaded with children to Australia. So I would see that as rather more than tacit approval. Today the Government would not be financing something they were not in favour of, so clearly the Government here was involved. As far as the receiving governments were concerned, they actually paid the weekly maintenance charge for the children in the homes that received them, so I would say that they were more than tacitly involved in the reception. I would suggest that in the 1930s and 1940s the majority of residential child care in England was carried out by voluntary organisations anyway, so that the sending agencies at the time were bound to be the voluntaries; it could not have been anybody else. The child care system in England was largely run by voluntary organisations and we were the ones with bulging, inadequately-provided for children's homes. With the greatest respect for the Government at the time—and I am not sure what colour they were—the funding of child care in England was not of a high amount and I would suspect that at the time it was seen to be quite a good financial decision to actually unload some children elsewhere into another responsibility. I may be speaking out of turn, but that would be my considered opinion, that we were all involved in this, that it was not just the voluntary organisations or a matter of our policy, but that it was the understood social care policy at the time and was seen to be in the child's best interests. I think the bottom line of the professional decisions that were made at the time is still the bottom line that we use today, whether it is in the child's best interests, and I rest my case there.

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