Gordon Brown is to offer a formal apology for the UK’s role in sending tens of thousands of children to a new life in Commonwealth countries during the 20th century, many without the consent of their families.
Government records show that at least 150,000 children aged between three and 14 were taken abroad, mainly to Australia and Canada, in a programme that began in 1920 and did not stop until 1967.
The children, almost invariably from deprived backgrounds and already in some form of social or charitable care, were cut off from their families or even informed, falsely, that they were orphans.
While their parents were told the child migrants had gone to a better life, in many cases they remained in institutions or were sent to farming families and treated as unpaid labour. A key subtext to the programme, particularly in relation to Australia, was an aim to supply Commonwealth nations with sufficient new white settlers.
A spokeswoman for the prime minister said…”We will undertake a period of dialogue with those affected, prior to a formal apology. We plan to make a more detailed announcement early in the new year.”
The announcement comes a day before Australia’s prime minister, Kevin Rudd, is due to make a wider apology to the estimated 500,000 children, many from overseas, who were held in orphanages and other institutions around the country between 1930 and 1970.
The habits of governments who provide White Settlers are consistently racist, cruel and self-serving.
The fact that they decide to apologize 50 or 90 years later means something to a few folks. I guess. The equation becomes tenuous as the connection is stretched further. I figure they’ll get round to dealing with, say, the Highland Clearances about a century after I’m dead and gone.
I’d rather hear that these creeps are finally pressing their political peers for a change of policies – not just apologies well after the deeds.