HC Deb 05 November 1959 vol 612 cc1199-201
34. Mr. N. Pannell

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action has been taken regarding the 37 Indians who recently entered this country without valid passports.

Mr. Renton

As a result of inquiries into the identity and nationality of these people, made with the help of representatives of the Office of the High Commissioner for India, it was established that one was a citizen of India and one a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies: these two were released from custody. It was not possible for the Office of the High Commissioner, on the information available, to regard the others as citizens of India; they were therefore required to leave the country under the Aliens Order, and did so on Tuesday.

Mr. Pannell

Is the implication of that reply that in future proof of Commonwealth citizenship will in itself justify immigration without the need for a valid passport? If that is so, will not that vitiate all the measures taken by the Indian Government to limit migration from India to Great Britain?

Mr. Renton

Under the present law, Commonwealth citizenship certainly enables a person to come to this country, but he has to prove that citizenship by producing a valid passport or other valid document. In this case, like several re- cent cases of batches coming from India, the trouble was that a number of people tried to avoid the control which the Indian Government have themselves established.

36. Mr. Osborne

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now make a statement as promised some months ago regarding his negotiations with the other Commonwealth Governments for similar restriction and control of immigration into the United Kingdom as applies in nearly every other part of the Commonwealth; and if he will introduce legislation which requires all immigrants to have a certificate of good health, a job to come to, a home to live in, and adequate financial resources.

Mr. R. A. Butler

The consultations with other Commonwealth Governments related only to the question of deportation. They are nearly complete, but I am not yet in a position to make a statement. Her Majesty's Government have no proposals to make at present for a general control of immigration from the Commonwealth.

Mr. Osborne

Does my right hon. Friend not think that the four conditions mentioned in my Question are reasonable? Does he not think that the people in this country are entitled to have safeguards against immigration, just as the people of the Commonwealth are entitled to have safeguards in relation to their countries? Why should not British people have the same right to safeguard the position as people in the Colonies demand for themselves?

Mr. Butler

The Mother Country has always had a special attitude towards immigration and, up to now, we have never had power of deportation. I have stated publicly that there is something to be said for power of deportation, but our consultations reveal that there is not unanimity on the matter and, therefore, it is a matter on which further consultation is necessary.

Mr. N. Pannell

Is it not a fact that two immigrants from the Commonwealth have recently been admitted to this country without a valid passport? Is it the intention of the Department to continue this practice in connection with other illegal immigrants?

Mr. Butler

I should want details of the case to which my hon. Friend refers.

Mr. Osborne

Since my right hon. Friend told me months ago that he was considering this problem, is it not time that something was done, especially in view of the fact that he has said that there is something to be said for it? Why should we not protect our people?

Mr. Butler

I have stated my personal view, which I did a year ago, and therefore I have beaten my hon. Friend by six months. I have caused inquiries to be made. We are dealing with other Governments within the Commonwealth family. Replies from one or two of the territories most directly concerned are still awaited, and not all the replies received so far are in favour of the proposal. Therefore, I am obliged to take this matter more slowly than perhaps I might have wished.