HC Deb 09 March 1950 vol 472 cc443-5
9. Mr. Blackburn

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will give an assurance that it remains the policy of His Majesty's Government to give asylum to political refugees from oppression in appropriate cases, in spite of recent revelations in the courts as to the abuse of this privilege.

17. Sir Jocelyn Lucas

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what increased security measures are now being taken with regard to the screening of unauthorised immigrants claiming to be political refugees; and if he will give an assurance that the right of temporary asylum for such refugees will still be granted if the cases appear to be genuine.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede)

His Majesty's Government have no intention of surrendering their sovereign right to grant asylum in appropriate cases. Persons who seek asylum are subjected to a security check, but it would not be in the public interest to give any details of the security measures which are taken.

Mr. Blackburn

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this country has gained immeasurably, both morally and practically, by having given asylum to political refugees? Further, in view of unfortunate deductions drawn from certain observations of the Lord Chief Justice, and in the recent case about which he was asked a question earlier today, will he make it quite clear that we shall be just as generous in future as we have been in the past?

Mr. Ede

History reveals that we have gained by the admission of political refugees, but this country owes a debt to itself to see that its hospitality is not abused. With regard to the second part of my hon. Friend's question, I think I should be precluded by the Rules of the House from giving my views about the views expressed by His Majesty's judges.

Earl Winterton

On a point of Order. May I call your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that the hon. Member opposite has broken the Rule, which was so frequently broken in the last Parliament, by calling attention to a statement made by one of His Majesty's judges in his judicial capacity?

Mr. Blackburn

Further to that point of Order. May I point out, Mr. Speaker, that if the noble Lord had listened to what I said he would realise that I referred to unfortunate deductions which had been drawn in some quarters from certain observations of the Lord Chief Justice?

Earl Winterton

I submit that it is out of order for an hon. Member to refer to a statement made by one of His Majesty's judges, and that that is the view also taken by the Home Secretary in his judicial capacity. I would like a Ruling on that point, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

If a judge makes a statement, that can be referred to. It is not a matter which may never be mentioned in this House.

Earl Winterton

If I may say so, with respect, this is a very important matter. Do I understand you, Sir, to rule that a judge's statement given in a judgment can be commented upon in this House?

Mr. Speaker

I said it could be referred to; I did not say it could be criticised in any way. A judge's statement can certainly be referred to, though it may be that one cannot controvert what a judge says.

Sir J. Lucas

Does not the Minister realise that while strict security measures are essential, the public conscience is shocked at the idea of sending political refugees back to certain death?

Mr. Ede

I have repeatedly stated in this House that it is my policy not to send people back who are, in the true sense, political refugees. That remains my policy. There are later Questions on the Paper today dealing with the matter, and I will reserve any further comment on that point until they are reached.

Mr. S. Silverman

In view of the judicial observations that were made on this matter, and the frequency with which such observations now seem to be made on other matters, would my right hon. Friend take some suitable opportunity of explaining that legislation is the function of Parliament and not of His Majesty's judges?

Major Guy Lloyd

Would the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is proposed to offer asylum to Seretse Khama on the grounds that he comes within the category of a political refugee from oppression?

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