HC Deb 15 December 1954 vol 535 cc1767-8
41. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is now able to announce the result of his examination of the problems arising from the emigration of British subjects from Jamaica to the United Kingdom.

Mr. Hopkinson

My right hon. Friend is still in urgent consultation with the other Ministers concerned, and regrets that he is not yet able to make a statement.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the longer this matter is allowed to drift the more difficult it will be to find a solution satisfactory to the increasing number of immigrants to this country and to local authorities which are very much concerned, and whose resources are considerably strained?

Mr. Hopkinson

I can assure the hon. and gallant Member and the House that the Government are very conscious of the urgency of this matter and are doing their best to deal with it as rapidly as possible.

Mr. S. Silverman

Among the matters which the Government are considering urgently in this connection, can the right hon. Gentleman say how much priority is given to the question of making conditions of life for people in Jamaica sufficiently attractive to persuade them not to run away from them to conditions elsewhere?

Mr. Hopkinson

Yes. We are pushing on with the development plan there, but I would remind the hon. Member that in the past it has always been the custom for inhabitants of Jamaica to emigrate very largely to the United States, and those possibilities of emigrating are now cut off.

Mr. Benn

Will the right hon. Gentleman remember, when bringing in his report, that it will give an extremely bad impression if in that report it appears that this country is only interested in the poverty of Colonies when that poverty has an adverse effect on the people of this country?

Mr. Hopkinson

I do not think there is any suggestion of that at all.

Mr. Alport

Is not one of the reasons why so many Jamaicans are able to come to this country is the increasing prosperity of their country, which has enabled them to pay heavy fares?

Mr. Hopkinson

It is a fact that a very large proportion of the Jamaicans who come to this country have ample means.

Mr. Hobson

Can the right hon. Gentleman let us have the report before Christmas, because there is urgent necessity to limit this immigration?

Mr. J. Griffiths

Whilst not pressing the right hon. Gentleman for any reply until he has fully considered all the important issues, may I ask him to bear in mind that any decision on this matter is of importance, not only to our country and to Jamaica, but to all the Colonial Territories?

Mr. Hopkinson

Yes, my right hon. Friend is well aware of that.