Board of Deputies of British Jews.

I. A defence of the alien immigrant : II. Objections to the aliens bill online

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IN view of the fact that the agitation which has
led to the new Alien Bill has been directed
primarily against the Russians and Poles (who
are Jews), and of the fact that certain provisions in
the Bdl are calculated to inflict on these people in-
calculable and unnecessary harm, the London Com-
mittee of Deputies of the British Jews beg to present,
in concise form, a series of facts which shew the utility
of these Russian and Polish refugres to the State, and
disprove the most serious charges made against the
immigrants generally.

Fact 1. — The average annual increase in the foreign
population of this country is considerably
under 8,000 souls.

21 06124

The statement in the House of Commons of the
Home Secretary in introducing the Bill, that the
number of new settlers in 1901 was 81,000, and in
1902, 82,000, is entirely misleading, as is shown by the
following figures extracted from the Board of Trade
statistics which the Home Secretary purported to
quote : —

Board of Trade
Statistics of
and Immigra-
tion for the
vears referred


18!) 7

Net increase in foreign
population of this coun-
try as result of Emi-
gration & Immigration.







Total in 8 years ... 56,508
being an average increase of 7,000 per annum.

This figure is supported by the 1901 census,
which shewed an increase of 70,000 Aliens in the
last ten years.

Page L'l Report Fact 2. — The foreigners in the United Kingdom
mission ° om " °"h' constitute -69% of the total population.

Fact 3. — So far as is known the only European
countries which have a smaller percentage of
foreigners than this country are Sweden and

Report of Com-

England has ...

•69 %

mission page I'l


1-03 %


.. 1-04 o/

German y

.. 1-38 %


.. 1-98 o/ c


2-66 o/


.. 2 82 o/ c


.. 3-05 %


3-26 o/


.. 9-58 %

The United States has 1371 % of foreigners.


London Census
Eeport, 1901.

Fact 4. — The only congestion of foreigners takes
place in very limited areas in the Borough of
London boroughs Aliens constitute less than I %

of the population.
In 8 more they constitute less than 2 % „


In 5
In 2
In 2

In Westminster
In Holborn*
In Stepney



average 2 - 98 %.
In the East

3 o/ c

4 %

r> %

they constitute 6:4 %

9'6 %

ii 18-18 o/ c

A very small borough,
the whole of London



they only

End Boroughs they constitute, not

Minutes of
Evidence of
the Alien Com-

Minutes of the

50 % as popularly imagined, but <S ,( .) %.

Dissemination from the congested area has been
most marked during the last few years, owing to the
erection of Jewish factories in Tottenham and other
outlying districts.

Fact 5. —The charge that the Alien ousts the
native workman from his home met a strik-
ing rejoiner in the fact that although all
London was scoured for anti-alien evidence,
not a single one of the so called " Ousted "
(stated to be some 20,0<>0 in number) could
be found to give evidence at the Com-
mission. Yet members of the working-
classes came forward to testify on other
points quite freely.

Fact 6. —Undeniable evidence was given by the
Chairman of the Whitechapel Board of
Guardians, himself a life-long resident in
the East End, and a large employer of
labour there, that the native moved out of
the district because the old staple trades, at
which he was formerly employed, had, from
causes quite distinct from Alien Immigration,
deserted the district, and that the native was far
better off, physically and pecuniarily, as a
result of his removal to the suburbs.



The trades which are now centred in the East
End are those introduced by foreign labour. They
employ not only foreigners living in the district, but
a considerable number of natives who likewise are
able to find housing-room in the district.

Fact 7. — There are districts in London far more
overcrowded than the East End. Such dis-
tricts have no appreciable Alien population.
Th.3 Alien is only a contributory cause of
overcrowding, every resident in an over-
crowded district, be he native or foreigner,
being of necessity a contributory cause to
the local problem.

or. Hamer's The following was the result of an investigation

i62 dence page made by the assistant medical officer of health of the

No. of instances
of overcrowding

per Kid houses.

Mile End Old Town 507 ... 2

Whitechapel ... 4!»7 ... !>

Lambeth 796 ... 26

St. Pancras ... ... 567 ... .'51

Kensington ... 444 ... 14

The principal causes of the present overcrowding
problem were shewn in evidence by the L.C.C. wit-
nesses to be

(a) The gross neglect of the Vestries in the past
to apply their powers for preventing and
abating the evil.

(/>) The huge demolitions, particularly in the East
End. of residential houses for railway ex-
tensions, factories, workshops, breweries,

(t') The necessity of persons to live near their

(d) Insufficient means of locomotion to enable
the surplus to live out of the district.

(e) Immigrations from other parts into a full area,
often consequent on re-housing schemes in
neighbouring districts.

Far "worse overcrowding than in modern times
existed in London, in numerous districts, as far back
as J84(S. Modern overcrowding generally means one
or two children too many in a room. In former days
it often meant twenty to thirty adults too many in
the same space.

Minutes of
Evidence of
the Alien Com-

Fact 8. — The Russian and Polish Jews in the East
End practically accept no workhouse relief.
In Whitechapel, lor example, the figures pro-
duced by the Chairman of the, Whitechapel
Hoard of Guardians proved that while one
native in twelve received workhouse relief,
only one Jew in 1,500 received similar relief,
and that out of 30,000 Jews, only one, in ten
years, had entered the Casual Ward. The
only relief the} 7 accept is medical relief,
which is as much a test of destitution as the
use of a Free Librarv.

Report of Com
page 19.

Fact 9m — The Aliens have introduced a useful system
of sub-division of labour : also a system of
piece-work wages, which means that they are
paid according to the actual amount of work
they turn out.

It is ignorance of this method of labour which
has caused credence to be given to statements of low
wages accepted by these Aliens. By working at one
sub-division of a trade only, such skill is attained that
a large number of articles can be turned out per hour
per workman, and thus, working normal hours at a
small wage per article, the Alien can and does earn
more than the native working at a fixed weekly wage.


Fact lO. — The result of these methods in the boot-
making, ready-made clothing ami cabinet-
making trades has been the production of a
new and cheaper article to the benefit of the

working classes.


Keportof Com
page 19.

Fact 11. — The statement of the Home Secretary
that these Aliens have caused a displacement
of native labour is not born out by the report
of the Commission, which, on the contrary,
states : —

tk The development of the three main
" industries — tailoring, cabinet-making and
" shoe-making— in which the Aliens engage
"has undoubtedly been beneficial in various
'"ways; it has increased the demand for
" the manufacture of not only goods made
" in this country (which were formerly im-
" ported from abroad), but of the materials
" used in them, thus indirectly giving em-
"ployment to native workers.""

Fact 12. — Had the Alien been otherwise than
beneficial to native workers and to the trade
of the country, there must have been found :

(a) A decrease in wages.

(b) An increase in unemployed.

(c) An increase in pauperism.

(d) A decrease in trade.

It is a striking fact that on the contrary the more
the Aliens have increased in number, the more

(a) Wages have increased.

(b) Unemployed have decreased.

(c) Pauperism has decreased.

(d) Trade has increased.

Page l^ Appen-
dix to evidence
of Alien Com-

The proof of these four assertions is in the follow-

mg statistic

;S : —




in Wages.

... 100*

of unem-

... 49 .

Mean rate
of Pauper-
ism per
10,000 of

. 208 ..


changes in

value of our



. 100°


... L08-8

... 3-5 .

. 24<; ..

. 108-5


... 119-3

... 2-9 .

* 1888 - 100.

. 235 ..

. 126-6


1901 Report of Fact 13. — The reduction in poverty has been far
the white- more marked in the foreigners' district than

chapel Guar- , , • t* i i

diana. elsewhere in England.

Decrease in Poor Law Relief between 1870 and 1900.

Decrease throughout England and Wales 23%

Decrease throughout the Metropolis ... 19*5 %

Decrease in Whitechapel* ... ... 60 "8%

5 Whitechapel contains Spitalfields, which is the very heart of
the so-called Alien and overcrowding problem.

e\ P idence S of° Fact 14.— The value to this country of the trades
Alien Commis- introduced by or mainly engaging the work

mission page 2i n.i ,.. ^ ° ° °

or these aliens is enormous.

Exports of Exports of

Apparel and Slops Boots and Shoes.
f cheap clothing.)

Value. Dozen Pairs.

1888 ... £4,658,000 ... 661,000

11)00 ... £5,286,000 ... 6:50,000

*1902 ... £6,297,000 ... 789,000

;: One of the years of general depression.

ib. page lo. Fact 15. — In spite of Major Evans-Gordon's state-
ment (debate on the first reading of the Bill)
that the emigration of British from this
country is carefully selected, practically the
same proportion of British as of foreign
immigrants was rejected by the United States
in 1902, namely -7% of British and 8% of

'g ■

Board of Trade Fact 16. — An enormous pecuniary advantage accrues
statis ica ^ ^j g coun t r y^ especially to its Shipping

Companies, as a result of the huge trans-
migration traffic of foreigners: e.g, the
8,800 immigrants who were added to our
foreign population in 1902 was the balance of
a total traffic of over 200,0<K) Aliens. Presume
that each of these on average spends £4 on his
passage hence in a British ship and on his
maintenance when here, the traffic means
£1,000,000 brought each year into this country
and spent.


Evidence of c. F&Ot 17. -This huge transmigration traffic only
h.l. Emanuei passes through England because there is, for

and Hermann li <• • i • 1 . • • .

Landau. the foreigner, a slight pecuniary advantage in

going to his ultimate destination via this
country. Disturb this traffic by making
stringent regulations, particularly such as
directly or indirectly entail the raising of
fares (e.g., to guard against the expense of re-
turning unnecessarily rejected Aliens) and the
whole traffic will be diverted to Continental
Steamship Companies.

Fact 18. — It is admitted that the criminality among
the foreigners generally in this country is
greater than that among the native popula-
tion, a fact greatly to be deplored. It has,
however, been proved that the cause of this is
not the real Immigrant, the Russian and Pole,
but American and German swindlers and pro-
fessional burglars, classes which do not enter
the country by the same channel as the
Immigrants, and entirely distinct from them.

The Commission gave figures in its report which
showed as follows : —
Report of Com- That had the Americans contained criminals in

mission, page proportion to their numbers, they would have provided
10% of the total foreign criminals. They actually
produced no less than 23^%. Had the Russians and
Poles contributed criminals in proportion to their
numbers they would have provided 33% of the total.
Had they contributed them on the same scale as the
Americans they would have provided 7G%. They
actually produced 17% only.

Bearing in mind thai it has thus been shewn that
the only real causes of complaint against the Alien are
his congestion in a small portion of one district in one
City of the United Kingdom, and that a worthless class
of Alien, criminal and dissipated and absolutely dis-
tinct from the industrious working class immigrant
does undoubtedly enter in excessive numbers, it re-
mains to examine the Bill, which proposes to deal with
these evils, and shew how it fails in its purpose.





Objection A. Clause 1 of the Bill empowers the Secretary of

State to make regulations providing for the production
by the Aliens of such proofs of character and ante-
cedents as may be prescribed, and in default of such
proofs the Alien may be refused admission.

Should the regulations so made entail the produc-
tion of an official certificate of character or a passport,
they will be certain to constitute a great hardship in
the case of Russian. Polish, and Roumanian Jews. At
their best, Police Certificates of character in Russia are
a farce. In many cases they can be purchased for about
10 roubles. Except by these means no workman, however
good his character, who has been involved in a trade
strike, or who is suspected of progressive views, can
obtain his certificate, while the keeper of a disorderly
house and the fraudulent bankrupt get theirs as a
matter of course. The Passport itself is granted on the
production <>f the certificate of character and the total
cost averages (with moderate bribes) about £3 10s.


The likelihood of the Jew getting a certificate of
character and a passport in Russia is entirely proble-
matical. The methods which they use, at present, to
escape their persecutors, were described to the Commis-
sion and need not be repeated. Once make these docu-
ments essential, and their chance of escape merely
depends on the mood of the series of functionaries
through whom their application passes, and at best will
simply depend on the extent of the rapacity of such
officials. This process of extortion must have an
adverse effect on the alien's small savings, which should
form their capital on arriving here, and the English
regulations will throw these hapless people still further
into the hands of their oppressors.

With regard to the Roumanian Jews the same diffi-
culty exists and in an exaggerated form, entirely pre-
venting them from obtaining the proofs which have
been referred to.

The same Clause enables the Secretary of State
Objection B. to limit his requirements to special classes of pas-
sengers and to special ports and routes. It is a matter
of physical impossibility to subject the whole passenger
traffic to inspection owing to its bulk and other causes,
and it is only too likely therefore, that the regulations
will be confined to steerage passengers arriving by the
ordinary immigrant routes.

If this be done the whole of the provisions
for keeping out criminals and disorderly persons
will be so much waste paper. These people do not
enter with the ordinary immigrant, and even were this
not so, they would obviously in future enter by a route
or by a class to which the inspection did not apply.

The Clause further seeks to impose on the Aliens
the necessity of registering every change of address
during any prescribed period (not to exceed 2 years
from arrival). During such period these foreigners
will be in a position little better than that of persons
found guilty of crime and released on ticket-of-leave.
The monstrous penalty of 1 month's hard labour
(Clause {\) may be imposed for any breach of this


Objection C Clause 2 provides (inter alia) for the rejection on

arrival of criminals, prostitutes, and diseased and
mentally afflicted persons. No objection can be taken
to the exclusion of these classes. The Clause also
provides for the rejection of persons having no visible
or probable means of support, a provision open to
serious objection and misinterpretation.

It also (sub-section 3) enables the Secretary of
State at the request of any common informer, made
within 2 years after the landing of any Alien, to banish
such Alien if it be shewn that he had, previous to his
arrival, been convicted of crime or had, subsequent to
his arrival, become a bad character or accepted
parochial relief. As regards the banishment
of an Alien who has received pauper relief, this Com-
mittee views with intense repugnance and alarm the
provision which enables the information to be given
as late as one year after the relief has ceased. It will be
open to any trade rival at a time when the Alien has
long passed the necessity for charity to thus secure his

Clause 3 enables banishment to be decreed as an
additional punishment to a foreigner who becomes a

Objection D. Having these enormous powers of selection, Clause

2 gives another power of so extraordinary a nature
that, had not its effect been pointed out in anticipation
by the Committee's witness at the Commission, its
insertion might have been attributed to an error.

The provisions already referred to aim at ensuring
that none but the desirable should enter, and that those
who subsequently become undesirable should be
banished. Clause 2 gives a further power to any in-
specting officer to object to the entry of any Alien on the
mere ground that he is a person " likely to become a
public charge." This power is given to a mere petty
officer, invested for the purpose by Statute with a
faculty of prophesy. Even were the officer a person
endowed with an absolutely accurate power of fore-
sight, seeing that there is no means of differentiating
between the transmigrant and the settler, and that,

consequently, the number of persons to be dealt with is
over 200,000 per annum, it is obvious that he would
have to prognosticate each man's future at a glance.
To render the regulation still more absurd, the officer
is probably ignorant even of the language of the persons
with whom he has to deal. He is, moreover, as likely
as anyone else to be affected by religious and other
prejudices. It is the Secretary of State who
finally decides whether or not the Alien whose entry
is objected to is to be admitted or not, but so far as can
be seen, the Bill does not even give the Alien a right to
appear before his judge and state his own case. The
Commissioners, in their suggestions, were at least in
favour of giving the Alien a definite right of appeal.

Clause 4 contains a clause ecpially hard, but
affecting, be it noted, not the new arrival, but the
old settler of perhaps 30 or 40 years' standing. The
Commission recommended that if an area became
overfull, and it was shewn that Aliens had contributed
to its condition, power should be given to clcse it
against new Alien arrivals.

Clause 4, however, allows in similar circumstances
not only new Aliens to be kept out, but provides that
old settlers, possibly persons who have acquired local
business connections of considerable value may for no
reason at all, and absolutely without any compensation,
be ordered to leave the district.

There are other objections which could be raised
to the Bill but the Committee believe that they have
already shewn that its main provisions are sufficiently
objectionable and unworkable.

19, Finsbury Circus, E.C.,
April, 1904.

Philip Johns iS. Co., Ltd., 6, Worship Street, E.C.



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Online LibraryBoard of Deputies of British JewsI. A defence of the alien immigrant : II. Objections to the aliens bill → online text (page 1 of 1)