HC Deb 16 April 1959 vol 603 cc1116-7
12. Mr. N. Pannell

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress he has made in his consultations with Commonwealth and colonial countries regarding the deportation of immigrants from such countries convicted of serious crimes.

18. Mr. Osborne

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is now in a position to make a statement on his negotiations with the Commonwealth Governments regarding the deportation of all Commonwealth citizens, irrespective of race, colour or creed, who are convicted of criminal offences in this country.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I regret that I am not in a position to add to the reply which I gave on 26th February to the Question on this subject by my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne).

Mr. Pannell

In view of the further increase in the crime of living on immoral earnings, convictions for which were 136 in the Metropolitan Police area in 1958 compared with 130 for the previous year, and of the continued rise in the number of colonial immigrants who were responsible for 77 out of the 136 in 1958, does not my right hon. Friend think he can do something to accelerate these discussions. Which many of us think are quite unnecessary?

Mr. Butler

I understand my hon. Friend to say that the discussions—by which, I presume, he means those with overseas Governments—are unnecessary. In my opinion, they are necessary. It is important that consultations with the Governments concerned should take place. I am sorry that they are not quicker. There is a great deal in what my hon. Friend says. We have not full information from overseas Governments, but owing to the spirit in which we run our British family of nations I would rather give an opportunity to those Governments to express their view before we took our final decision.

Mr. Osborne

What possible objection can there be to sending these proved criminals home—unless my right hon. Friend wants to put them on the Front Opposition Bench?

Mr. Butler

I would simply say that the only objection is that we should be taking a step contrary to the whole tradition and experience of this nation if we took this action against nationals from the British Commonwealth and Colonial Territories. It would be a complete and absolute novelty in our tradition. I do not preclude it; I have made statements saying there are advantages in it. I draw the attention of the House to the fact that it would be a complete novelty.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the point of view which has been expressed from behind him today was wholly rejected by the Standing Committee which was recently discussing the matter? Is he also aware that his view that there should be the fullest consultation with Commonwealth and Colonial Territories has the entire support of the Opposition?

Mr. Short

On a point of order. Is there not a rule, Mr. Speaker, against anything unparliamentarily being said, not only about an individual but about a small and clearly defined group? If so, was the remark of the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) about the Front Opposition Bench in order?

Mr. Speaker

I did not take the observation seriously. I thought it was intended as a joke, but whether it is a joke or not depends upon one's sense of humor.