§ 32. Mr. C. Osborne
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in view of the fact that Her Majesty's Government have recently urged the West Indian Government to maintain and, if necessary, strengthen their efforts to reduce immigration into the United Kingdom, whether he will now reconsider his policy regarding immigration and insist upon all immigrants, irrespective of colour and race, being in good health, having no criminal record, and possessing sufficient money not to become a burden on the British social services; and if he will make a statement.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. R. A. Butler)
I have nothing to add to the statement which I made in reply to my hon. Friend's Question on 5th November last.
§ Mr. Osborne
The fact that nothing has happened since last November and that no further statement can be made prompts me to ask my right hon. Friend this: in view of the mounting disquiet and deep anxiety by great numbers of the general public at the flood of West Indian immigrants into this country, does not he think that this Government ought to do what he is asking the West Indian Governments to do—control and restrict immigration into this country? Or are we to take it that, whatever happens, no matter how many come to this country, my right hon. Friend has no intention of taking any action?
§ Mr. Butler
No, Sir. This latter part of that question should not be taken as 689 representing the truth. We are watching the situation very anxiously and carefully. The fact that I cannot make another statement today does not mean that I underestimate the importance of my hon. Friend's question. It is very unlikely that this country will turn away from her traditional policy of allowing free entry. Equally, we shall look, as he has said, to these Governments to try to help us with a voluntary restriction of migration to this country.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) did not hear what I said. I called on Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux
Does my right hon. Friend realise that our old-age pensioners feel a real sense of grievance when they are told that their pensions cannot be raised, while at the same time they see people coming here from other Commonwealth countries and getting National Assistance as soon as they arrive? Will he consult the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance to suggest the introduction of some system whereby such National Assistance payments can be repaid at a suitable weekly rate by such immigrants as soon as they obtain work?
§ Mr. Butler
This is governed by discussions with the Governments concerned. They have always taken into account the need for migrants to realise that they should try to come here when there is work for them to come to. I am certainly ready to discuss any aspect, but I am chiefly in contact with my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary.
§ Mr. C. Royle
Will the right hon. Gentleman refer his hon. Friends to the parable of the Good Samaritan?
§ Mr. Osborne
In view of the fact that I put this Question last November and was then asked to wait because the Government were investigating the position and I am told today to do the same thing, and in view of this enormous flood of people coming into this country, am I not entitled to ask for some action to be taken?
§ Mr. Butler
My hon. Friend is not correct in saying that. He is making an exaggerated statement himself. This matter is being most carefully watched, but while this country has been a free country and an island, it has always been a feature of its policy to provide free entry for British subjects. If anyone wishes to overturn this classical policy, we must approach it with deep caution and care. There is hope in the responsible attitude being adopted by the Governments of the Colonies concerned.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there will be general support on both sides of the House for the principles he has stated and the policy which he is following?