§ The Chairman
The first Amendment selected is that in the name of the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton). It will be possible to discuss with it the Amendments in page 2, line 21, to leave out subsection (2); in Clause 3, page 3, line 15, to leave out "refusal of admission or"; in Clause 4, page 4, line 3, to leave out paragraph (a), and in Clause 4, page 4, line IL to leave out from first "offence" to the end of the subsection. However, only the Amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton will be moved on which there can be a Division.
§ Mr. Turton
I beg to move, in page 2, to leave out line 16.
The leader in The Times of Monday, 4th December, described this Amendment as an attempt to drive a coach and horses through the Bill. May I make it absolutely clear at the beginning that that is not the intention of the Amendment. So far as I know, the only vehicle which anyone has attempted to use in this Bill is the Irish jaunting car which the Government have been trying to drive in and out and round about the Bill's Clauses. The Amendment is an attempt to improve the Bill and to make it less unpalatable.
All of us, on both sides, attach great importance to the Commonwealth right of free entry of persons—and, I might add, goods. On Second Reading, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made that clear, because he saidthe right of Commonwealth free entry has been a cherished tradition of the Mother Country and … an important link binding the Commonwealth together."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1961; Vol. 649, c. 687.]If so, why now try to destroy it?
The Amendment preserves that right. It gives the Government power to curb immigration under subsection (1, b) and also under subsection (3). In other words. it would give an immigration 270 officer power to set a limit on the time for which an immigrant comes here and the right to refuse admittance on grounds of health, security or previous convictions.
The only reason for the consequential Amendment to delete subsection (2) is that it deals with the question of refusal of admission; and if there is no power to refuse admission, the subsection would fall. I do not, however, attach importance and I am not directing my argument to that subsection, because I agree that under subsection (1, b), dealing with conditions of entry, the factors contained in subsection (2) could be relevant.
It is true that since we last dealt with the Bill, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has put down Amendments limiting the powers of refusal of the Commonwealth right of free entry and preventing existing Commonwealth residents, their children and students from being refused admission under subsection (1, a). Those Amendments, however, do not go far enough. They do not cover the right of a Commonwealth citizen to come to this country as his Mother Country and as his home, whether as a visitor, as somebody returning after an interval or somebody coming, not as a full-time student, but as a part-time student, as many people do, both from the West Indies and from West Africa. My right hon. Friend's Amendments do not effectively heal the wound which the destruction of the Commonwealth right of free entry will cause to the links which, he admits, bind the Commonwealth together.
Whatever we do in this country, which is described by many Commonwealth countries and Colonies as the Mother Country of the Commonwealth, we must set a standard in the Bill that is not less hospitable than that practised in other Commonwealth countries and Colonial Territories. In that respect, I remind the Committee that India gives the right of free entry to Commonwealth subjects and that in the case of Jamaica, whilst 271 that country gives a six-month period to British subjects and allows permits for all visitors and temporary residents who provide evidence of mean—as we are doing under subsection (2, b), by resolution of the Executive Council it does not require British subjects to provide that evidence. In other words, Jamaica and India are giving to Commonwealth citizens the right of Commonwealth free entry that the Bill destroys.
To consider some of the other Colonial Territories, the Bahamas gives British subjects the right to stay for eight months. Barbados, Bermuda, British Honduras and Kenya give the right to stay for six months. In the Bill, we do not give that right at all. I beg the Government, whatever they do with the Amendment, to repair that gap.
Like myself, other right hon. and hon. Members constantly have visitors from the Commonwealth coming to meet them and to admire the Mother Country. It is quite wrong that these visitors should be retarded in any way at the whim of immigration officers. There is a considerable two-way traffic. Many figures were given to us in the debate on Clause 1, but I should like to put before my right hon. Friend certain figures that I have obtained from the West Indies Migration Services Board of the two-way traffic with the West Indies.
In July, 1961, 6,982 visitors came to this country and 828, or one in eight left. The August figures were 8,713 coming in and 983, or one in nine, going out. In September, the figures were 8,180 and 1,175, or one in seven, going out.
Visitors sometimes come to see their relations and stay for a while before returning. Sometimes Commonwealth visitors take a short period of work or training. We know of the number who work in our hospitals. My right hon. Friend has stated that the nurses will be looked after. What he does not realise is that many untrained girls from the West Indies come as trainees in our hospitals without any training or skill and after a short period they go back to the West Indies. During the time they are here, we ought to be able to 272 say to them, "You will be allowed to come here for, say, eight months"—which is the time given by the Bahamas—"without question, as of right. You are a Commonwealth citizen. Here, you are welcome." Although distasteful to many of us, the Bill could be so worked that by the deletion of line 16, it would be an acceptable Measure. When one realises the real problems that we face, this would be a happy way out.
What is the objection to doing away with line 16? What will be the Government's answer? They will say, of course, that it adds to the administrative difficulties. They will ask what happens if after eight months the immigrant does not return. They will have to institute a search to find out where he is. But that will have to happen already under the Government's own measure in Clause 2 (1, b). Therefore, if that argument is applied it is an attack on the Government's own system of working the Bill. If they do not have this system of keeping track on immigrants the Bill will be inoperable, as may well be the case.
It may well be that all this provision under Clause 2 (1, b) is too complicated to operate. Just as my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary found it was too complicated to operate any control against the Irish, so he may well find that under this subsection the administrative difficulties are greater than his Department had bargained for. But if we are to have that system, let us have it the same for all. In other words, let us do away with this refusal of entry.
Why do I object to that particularly? Quite apart from the principle of the Commonwealth right of free entry, there is the grave disadvantage that we should be putting the selection of immigrants into the determination of an immigration officer. I say nothing at all about the personal esteem in which these officers are held. I make no attack on them, but this is a matter which Parliament should decide and which should not be left to a bureaucratic official at a court. I beg the Government to take a fresh look at this problem. The Amendment is not an attempt to murder their Bill. It is an attempt to improve it. It is an attempt to deal with the problem of the visitor and to keep in 273 the hands of Parliament the power which it should exercise to lay down who should remain and for how long.
§ Mr. Ede (South Shields)
I support the Amendment. There was too much in the debate on the previous Clause which indicated that there are some people who are willing to abdicate from providing a metropolis for the British Commonwealth. I regard the Amendment as a deliberate effort to preserve the position of this country as the metropolis of the British Commonwealth. I believe that that would be of inestimable value in keeping together the various peoples within the Commonwealth. I believe that there is yet a chance that if we can preserve a comradeship among all the diverse races who are now in the British Commonwealth and who, during the next few years, will increasingly become independent nations, we shall be able to act as a unified force in a world where there are all too many signs that extreme narrow nationalism will have a very good run during the next few years. I believe that on the lines advocated by the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) the adoption of the Amendment would tend to strengthen that position.
The right hon. Member said that this was not an effort to murder the Bill but an effort to improve it. I am not sure that there are not some things that would be best improved by being murdered, but the Amendment will not do that to the Bill. The House has given the Bill a Second Reading and we have had a long discussion on Clause 1 and a decision has been taken on it. I hope that the Government will feel that the arguments adduced by the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton were sufficient to justify the Amendment being made.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
I wish to add a few words in support of the Amendment moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) and eloquently supported by the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). I feel grateful, and I expect that the Committee feels grateful, for the self-denying ordinance which hon. Members opposite imposed on their oratory when we were discussing the Motion, "That Clause 1 stand part of 274 the Bill." We welcome very much their eagerness to get to this Amendment, and I only hope that their meritorious action will not be taken as support for the principle of a timetable for a Bill of this character. I suppose it could be said that if one is to be guillotined in an hour it concentrates the mind wonderfully.
We are a sovereign nation and, clearly, immigration policy is for the individual members of the Commonwealth, ourselves included, to decide. As my right hon. Friend has said, the Amendment is not designed to wreck the Bill. It would preserve the right of our authorities here in the United Kingdom to control immigration, and it is not unreasonable that the Government should wish to strengthen their powers of control. In my constituency we have little or no problem as a result of immigration from the Commonwealth. My constituents have reason to be grateful for the presence of so many oversee Commonwealth citizens and Irish men and Irish women, who, incidentally, are non-aliens, Who fill jobs which it is very difficult to fill. But this is a small island, and we sympathise with the difficulties of some hon. Members in their constituencies.
One cannot say, therefore, that it is unreasonable that the authorities in this country should be armed with certain powers in relation to health and housing, public health and public security. Nor would it be a service to the Commonwealth if this country became unreasonably flooded with immigrants without jobs or homes, or hopes or roots. It would embitter immigrants against the Mother Country and the Commonwealth itself.
But Britain has a special position as the first among equals. As hon. Members opposite have said, we are the heart of the Commonwealth. That is why, while conceding powers of control to the Executive, we desire in the Amendment to maintain the cherished principle of free entry for Commonwealth citizens. Even if I could say that I liked this Bill, I would still say that it is monstrously ill-timed. People nowadays seem to be obsessed by colour and by race. I deplore that, but it is a fact, and people are tremendously sensitive on these matters.
275 Secondly, the Government at this moment are negotiating with the European Economic Community to see how the interests of the rest of the Commonwealth can be reconciled with British adherence to the Common Market, and to the suspicions of colour prejudice which arise on the Bill is added the suspicion that perhaps the British Government are trying to exclude Commonwealth immigrants in order to make room for immigrants from Continental Europe, according to the Rome Treaty, which provides for the free movement of persons as well as of goods and of capital.
I believe in the economic unity of Europe, and in the association of the nations of the Commonwealth with the nations of Europe. But I also believe that we must maintain the principle that we cannot agree that it should be easier for a foreigner from a continental country, however friendly or neighbourly, to come here than for one of our own fellow-citizens from the Commonwealth. I hope that the Government will accept the Amendment with the full support of the Committee, because I believe that then our fellow subjects and fellow citizens from oversea, when we welcome them to our shores, will still be able to say, with pride, "I am a Commonwealth citizen."
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I want to support the Amendment very briefly, and for three major reasons. The first is because, if it were accepted, it would make the Bill less objectionable, for it would no longer have enshrined within it the principle that the normal view of this country was that immigration from the Commonwealth was not permitted. It would enable us to put a rather better face, at any rate, on the position I would, at the least, like to take up, which is that normally we welcome the free movement of people from the Commonwealth and that we depart from it with great reluctance for stated reasons and not as a general principle.
Secondly, there is the position of those people who want to come here for a short period. There are those who want to train, as mentioned by the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton). There are a great many 276 students. It may be said that they will he discussed later in the Bill and that the Government have no intention of preventing their entry. But I maintain that they should have unequivocal free entry and that it should not be left to someone to give them entry as an act of grace. We shall do a great deal of unnecessary damage, even by the Government's standards, if we do not write that principle into the Bill.
Thirdly, I do not accept that it is altogether desirable that the only means of getting into this country for those who want to take up permanent employment here should be by obtaining a voucher. This may lead to certain undesirable practices. There is no doubt that we need a great many immigrants to man our various services, and that it will be in our interests to let them in, possibly under conditions, to see if they can get these jobs.
The right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton looked at the possible objections to the Amendment. The obvious one is that of administrative difficulty, but I hope that the Government will tell us how they are to administer Clause 2 (1, b) and what additional difficulties would be thrown in the way if the Amendment were accepted, for they must keep some contact, under that provision, with those who are admitted even if the Bill goes through as it stands.
Finally, I return to the point, mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman, that this country cannot afford to be less liberal, less generous and less humane in this matter than other countries of the Commonwealth. Our position vis-à-vis the West Indies—as the parent of the West Indies—our position as the richest member of the Commonwealth, our traditions, and the expression of views throughout the debates on this Bill from both sides of the House, make it imperative that, by the time the Bill reaches the Statute Book, it should at least be as generous as the regulations which are in force in other parts of the British Commonwealth.
§ Miss Jennie Lee (Cannock)
I am wholly opposed to the Bill, but I do not see why there should not be an honourable alliance in support of the Amendment between those of us who are wholly 277 opposed to the Bill and the other hon. Members who believe that certain restrictions should be imposed. But I hope that the so-called "tough lads" around do not take too cynical a view of the Amendment as being full of sound and fury and meaning nothing, because I do not believe that anyone is fit to take part in great public affairs if they think that great issues can all be reduced to tangible elements.
There are intangible elements as well as tangible, and in this subject the intangibles have to be kept in mind very much indeed. In British law one is declared innocent until one is proved guilty. That being so, then please let us at least keep Commonwealth citizenship. There may be some very special reason for wanting to exclude an individual, but that cannot be applied to a community.
I believe that the Bill is bad economics and bad politics. I do not see why we should add to both these wrongs by a third wrong which is plainly bad manners. After all, we want the right to enter this country to be a right and not a privilege for Commonwealth citizens. That is the simple point behind the Amendment. I do not feel optimistic enough to believe that the Government will accept the Amendment, but, seriously, I do not see why they should not. I am glad that throughout the Commonwealth publicity has been given to the fact that the whole of the Labour and Liberal Parties, distinguished members of the Conservative Party, and leaders of many religious and other organisations are embarrassed by and wholly hostile to the Bill. The Government owe it not only to Commonwealth citizens but to the extent and depth of feeling against the Bill in the country at least to make this small but important Amendment.
§ Sir Fitzroy Maclean (Bute and North Ayrshire)
I am not happy about the Bill, for three main reasons, all of which are particularly relevant at the present time and in the present circumstances. First, the Bill impairs—one might almost say destroys—the principle, which is a very important one, of Commonwealth free entry. I thought that the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) put his finger on the spot very aptly when he said that the Bill implied 278 that the Government were not prepared to provide a metropolis for the Commonwealth. I think it is most important that we should provide a metropolis for the Commonwealth at this time when we are preparing to enter the Common Market.
Secondly, it implies—and this is equally serious—the suggestion of racial prejudice, and that no Bill passed by the House of Commons should do.
Thirdly, it appears to give, and in practice certainly will give, better treatment to aliens in some respects than to Commonwealth citizens and British subjects. If we go into the Common Market, that will undoubtedly apply to many other aliens as well.
Everyone has to recognise that there is a problem. I do not think that the Bill approaches it in the right way, or entirely in the right spirit. But the great virtue of the Amendment and the reason why I shall support it and hope that the Government will find it in their power to accept it is that it meets most of my three objections while continuing to recognise the existence of a problem.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I should like to explain that my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) and I put this Amendment on the Notice Paper independently, although it happened to be in the same terms and to the same effect as an Amendment which had been put down immediately before. This is not a question of adding names on one side or the other. I thought that that explanation might be of some interest to the Committee, because all sorts of fun is, no doubt innocently, poked about strange alliances from time to time. This is not a question of strange alliances but of independent minds looking at a question in a commonsense way and coming to a common conclusion independently of one another. That explains why the name of my hon. Friend and my own name appear on the list of names to the Amendment, headed by that of the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton).
Our reasons for putting down the Amendment were very much those which have already been given in various speeches. I would not think it right to take up the limited time of a guillotined debate to repeat the arguments, good though they were, or perhaps especially because they were so 279 good. However, I want to add one comment which has not been made.
I am not quite sure what the Clause means. It begins by saying that, subject to certain provisions, the immigration officer "may" do something or other. What does "may" mean in this connection? Does it mean "shall", as normally in such a connotation it would mean? If it means "shall", the interpretation of the Clause is not difficult. It means that once he is satisfied that the immigrant in front of him is someone to whom the Bill applies, the immigration officer can do one of two things and only one of two things. He may refuse admission altogether, or he may admit the immigrant subject to conditions about the length of his stay and about what he will do while he is here.
If the word means "shall" and the immigration officer applies the first of his two alternatives, he will refuse admission to the United Kingdom to any Commonwealth citizen to whom Clause 1 applies. We have passed Clause 1 and we have heard what the Home Secretary has had to say about it. It includes subsection (4), which makes it perfectly clear that the Clause is to apply to a citizen of the Republic of Ireland. It then follows that if someone presents himself at one of our ports and admits to being a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, the immigration officer shall refuse him admission. That is what the Bill means.
But we all heard the Home Secretary say that he was not going to do that but was going to preserve the power to do so. Perhaps he would use it and perhaps he would not. If that is the Government's position and if that is a correct interpretation of the Clause and if it is seen in connection with the Home Secretary's declaration of intention, what the Home Secretary has declared and what the Government will be supporting is an intention to breach the Petition of Right.
It will be remembered that the Petition of Right provides in one of its section that the Executive shall not suspend the operation of any Act of Parliament. Even if the word "may" means strictly "may" and not "shall", the immigration officer would have to apply an individual discretion in each indi- 280 vidual case. But it is just that that the Home Secretary said that he was not going to do. He said that he was not going to apply the Clause to one whole category of persons. I asked him under what power he proposed to do that, and I do not even remember his answer, so little did it seem to have to do with the question asked. Perhaps the Attorney-General will deal with it more specifically
I am not making a technical or legalistic or debating point. This is a constitutional Bill which will have to be administered by Ministers in accordance with the law of the land, of which the Petition of Right is part. I remember, for illustrative purposes, an occasion in 1948 when the House of Commons added to the Criminal Justice Bill a Clause suspending the operation of the death penalty for five years. My right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), who was then Home Secretary, did what we all thought was something very sensible. He declared in public that until the House of Lords had dealt with the matter—after all, it might have accepted it—he would advise the prerogative of mercy to be exercised in every capital case. There immediately started a bitter attack upon him under the Petition of Right. A subsequent Conservative Attorney-General wrote a letter to The Times, a most impressive letter, saying that the Labour Home Secretary for the first time was arrogating to himself a right to suspend the law of the land. My right hon. Friend's answer was simple because he was dealing not with the law of the land, but with the exercise of the Royal Prerogative of mercy, which is quite different.
The cases are not parallel, and I have cited that example only to illustrate the kind of argument which I am applying here. In this case there is no question of any kind of the Royal Prerogative or any Ministerial or administrative right to hold the law of the land in reserve and to apply it if one wants to apply it, or not to apply it if one does not want to apply it, or to use it if it is found convenient, or not to use it if that is found convenient.
§ Mr. John Hobson (Warwick and Leamington)
I understood that the answer which my right hon. Friend the 281 Home Secretary gave to the hon. Member was that there were special provisions in the Bill which enabled exemptions to be made. He will find that in Clause 17 (3). Interesting as his argument is, it does not seem to carry the matter much further.
§ Mr. Silverman
That subsection says:The Secretary of State may by order extend any exemption conferred by subsection (1) or subsection (2) of this section to persons of such additional classes as may be specified in the order.6.0 p.m.
Does the hon. and learned Gentleman seriously argue that that means that he can cut out any one country? If it does, my argument is more serious than I thought, because it means that what was proposed in the series of Amendments which the Committee was denied the opportunity of dividing on, and which caused such an enormous amount of public confusion, is to be done by Order in Council at some subsequent date. He will perhaps have an Order exempting Australia or Canada or New Zealand. He will have power to do that, and in the end we may be left with an Act of Parliament which specifically covers all immigrants from any part of the Commonwealth, and including the Republic of Ireland, but which might be applied only to the West Indies. That is what the hon. and learned Gentleman has given as an answer to my point.
This is a serious matter. As has been said repeatedly, we are dealing with the metropolis of a Commonwealth of Nations founded on law and renouncing any kind of discrimination by colour, by origin, by race, by language, or in any other way. I hope that the Attorney-General will explain this mystery to us, because it seems to me that it goes to the root of the whole matter of this Bill.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller)
I think that perhaps it would be to the convenience of the Committee, particularly as there are so many other Amendments on the Order Paper in relation to this Clause, if I replied now to the debate which has taken place on my right hon. Friend's Amendment.
I have listened with great interest to what he said in support of it. He made 282 it quite clear that he dislikes, as we all do, interference with the unfettered right of a Commonwealth citizen to enter this country. I agreed with the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) when he said that he welcomed free movement into this country and that we departed from this principle with great reluctance.
From what my right hon. Friend has said today, and indeed from what he said on Second Reading, I gather that he is prepared to agree to the imposition of conditions on Commonwealth immigrants; conditions as to their period of stay, their employment or occupation, and, it may be—it has been suggested by some, but I do not know my right hon. Friend's views with regard to it—conditions as to their residence. My right hon. Friend made it clear that in his view it would be sufficient if the immigration officers retained the powers given to them by subsection (1, b). Indeed, I think he recognised that the position could not, and should not, be left as it is today, and that there was a case for the Government taking powers which they did not at the moment possess to deal with the situation which is developing.
I think, therefore, that the real difference between what my right hon. Friend proposes and what is in the Bill comes to this. He thinks that it will suffice to impose conditions on Commonwealth immigrants when they come here; conditions regulating how long they stay, and what they might do, and the attraction of this is that it appears to leave the right of entry unaffected. I assure my right hon. Friend, and those hon. Members who have spoken in support of the Amendment, that we have naturally carefully considered this suggestion, but I must regretfully tell my right hon. Friend that we do not think his proposals would work, or be at all satisfactory either from our point of view or from that of the Commonwealth citizen.
For the reasons that we advanced on Second Reading—and I do not want to take up time stating them again—we are satisfied that the Government would be failing in their duty if they did not by this Bill seek power to control immigration. If we are to control immigration, it follows as night follows day that someone must have power to 283 refuse admission into the United Kingdom. If that power is not available, we cannot, whatever else we may do, control immigration.
Where I thought I found a fallacy in my right hon. Friend's argument was his contention that the mere imposition of conditions amounted to a curb on immigration. As I shall seek to show, this will not amount to any curb at all.
§ Mr. David Weitzman (Stoke Newington and Hackney, North)
The Government have power under subsection (1, b) to admit subject to conditions, and they will have power under subsection (3, a) to refuse entry on the grounds therein set out. How will the Government's powers be added to by keeping in paragraph (a), and refusing the Amendment?
§ The Attorney-General
I will deal with that in due course.
I was saying in answer to my right hon. Friend that we dislike having to interfere with the right of free entry. It is unpalatable, but it is inevitable if immigration is to be controlled. I put this before the Committee, because there should be no misconception about it. We do this with reluctance, but if there is to be power to control immigration, it is essential that someone somewhere should have power to refuse admission, and we have given immigration officers the power to do this because the right place to exercise this control is at the port of entry.
I should like to make clear to my right hon. Friend a point which I think may not be appreciated by the Committee. We propose to control immigration, but we do not propose to make general use of the power to impose conditions as to the length of stay and occupation. In the vast majority of cases the immigrant will be free to live his life as he wishes once he has entered, and to stay as long as he likes. I will explain later why in subsection (1) we are taking power to impose conditions, although, as I say, it is not the Government's intention that that should be generally done.
My right hon. Friend suggests that the Commonwealth citizen should be free to enter, but that he should be subject to control while in this country, and he 284 would apply this quite generally. This is quite different from control of immigration. As my right hon. Friend recognised, it is no use imposing conditions on every Commonwealth immigrant unless there is machinery for enforcement, machinery to see that the conditions are complied with. If my right hon. Friend's suggestion were adopted, I think it would be inevitable that Commonwealth citizens would have to be required to report to the police and to register their movements, like aliens. I feel sure that this would be much objected to.
§ Mr. Turton
Is my right hon. and learned Friend suggesting, in all seriousness, that that is the Government's intention, under subsection (1, b)? All that I suggested was that we should allow a Commonwealth citizen to come here for eight months. My right hon. and learned Friend is making a lot of fuss about it.
§ The Attorney-General
I understand what it is that my right hon. Friend is suggesting. I want to point out to him what I am afraid he has not appreciated, namely, that it is one thing to impose conditions upon a small number of persons and to see that they are enforced, and quite a different thing to impose conditions of the kind that he suggests on every Commonwealth visitor. People may disagree with me, but I do not see how it would be possible to supervise and enforce the general imposition of conditions which applied to every Commonwealth immigrant without making it necessary for him to report to the police and register his movements like an alien.
§ Mr. Chapman rose—
§ The Attorney-General
I should like to be allowed to finish my argument, and if I am allowed to do so the hon. Member may not find it necessary to interrupt me. He may disagree with me, but that is the view that I am putting forward.
§ Mr. Fletcher
Part of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument is that it would be necessary to impose conditions on every immigrant. Why would it be necessary to do so? Surely it would be possible for the Government to take powers to impose conditions but 285 to do so only in a limited number of cases, where they thought it necessary.
§ The Attorney-General
My right hon. Friend put forward, as an alternative to the power to refuse admission, a power to impose a limitation of eight months upon the stay of a Commonwealth immigrant. Applying my argument to that suggestion, it seems to me that those conditions would have to be applied to every Commonwealth citizen.
§ The Attorney-General
Although he disagrees with me, I think that that follows from my right hon. Friend's argument.
Perhaps I can put it in another way. I do not want to be controversial. I want to deal with the argument on its merits. If a large number of Commonwealth immigrants are subjected to conditions—even if they are not all subjected to them—it will be necessary to enforce those conditions, and I ask my right hon. Friend to face the fact that those to whom the conditions are applied would be required to register and report to the police, like aliens. If that were done I am certain that it would be much objected to. I do not know what it would cost to supervise all the immigrants who were made subject to these conditions, in order to make sure that they were complying with them, but I am sure that it would cost a very great deal.
As for the suggestion that conditions should be imposed restricting the immigrant's rights to work in specific localities—and that suggestion is contained in some of the Amendments, and has been made—I would point out that that would go far beyond anything contemplated in peace time for the control of aliens, and it would not be tolerable to treat Commonwealth citizens worse than aliens.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean) said that in certain respects the Bill contemplated providing worse treatment for Commonwealth citizens than for aliens. That is not the case, dealing with aliens generally, but if we applied the system suggested their conditions would be comparable. If all that was done was to impose a limit of eight months upon the period for which a Commonwealth 286 visitor could stay here, instead of there being power to refuse admission, the visitor would merely leave the country at the end of eight months and return the next day, thereby achieving permanent residence.
The imposition of such conditions upon a large number of Commonwealth immigrants will not control immigration, or curb it. Under the Government's proposals, once a Commonwealth citizen satisfies the immigration officer that he is entitled to enter, under the provisions of subsection (2)—which I appreciate my right hon. Friend wanted to have taken away merely as a consequential Amendment—or can properly be admitted, it will be seldom that any need will arise to impose any condition upon him.
We think it much better to face the fact that the control of immigration involves the imposition of power to refuse admission rather than to preserve the traditional right of free entry in name while imposing conditions on the immigrant which he would find irritating and tiresome, which would involve the establishment of administrative machinery in order to see that these conditions were complied with; which would be expensive for the taxpayer, and which would not operate as any control over the number of immigrants entering the country.
Our attitude will remain what it has always been—one of welcome to the genuine visitor who comes here on holiday, or for social, family, cultural or business reasons. That fact will be emphasised in the instructions to be given to immigration officers. They will be concerned to see that persons coming here for employment do not evade the voucher system by posing as visitors, and also to see that persons are not admitted if they are destitute and clearly liable to become a public charge.
§ The Attorney-General
With their considerable experience I do not think that they will have much difficulty in reaching the right conclusion, but if the immigration officer feels some doubt about the bona fides of the professing visitor he can attach a condition, under subsection (1, b), limiting his period of 287 stay and, in appropriate cases, restricting him from taking employment. If, for instance, the visitor says that he is coming for a six months' visit, and there is reason to doubt that that is true, the visitor can hardly object if a condition is imposed limiting his stay to six months and preventing him from taking employment during that time. It will be open to him to apply to the Home Secretary to remove the condition imposed, and I want to emphasise that there is no intention of imposing conditions, under the power taken in subsection (1), as a matter of routine. It will be done only where the immigration officer feels some doubt.
I appreciate the reasons why my right hon. Friend has moved these Amendments, and why his suggestion has met with such support, but I hope that in the light of what I have said my right hon. Friend will be satisfied that there are valid objections to the course which he proposes. I feel bound to advise the Committee not to accept the Amendments, which would defeat the object of the Bill. Although he does not describe them as such, the Amendments are of a wrecking character. The object of the Bill is to give the Government power to control immigration into this country, and the effect of what he proposes would be to remove that power.
§ Mr. S. Silverman rose—
§ The Attorney-General
I am coming to the speech of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman). I have not forgotten what he said, but I wanted to reply to the main arguments which have been advanced before coming to important questions of construction.
§ Mrs. Castle
The Attorney-General has said that in the normal course of events the Government will not apply the provisions of subsection (1, b) save in very exceptional circumstances, because there cannot be a follow-through. If that is the case, what kind of check does be visualise imposing in order to ensure that the person entering the country with a labour voucher does not, on arrival, either cease to be in the employment or in the situation which provided the grounds upon which he was originally admitted?
§ The Attorney-General
I have tried to put my arguments as shortly as possible, and I have sought to show the difference between the imposition of conditions and the enforcement of the follow-up procedure in respect of a small number of immigrants and of doing the same thing in the case of a large number. In the small number of cases in which the condition may be imposed by the immigration officer under the Government's proposal there will not be need for much in the way of enforcement machinery. It will be fairly easy to keep track of the person who says he is coming here as a student, to study at a certain university, and to see whether that has in fact happened. That power of imposing conditions—of course, the conditions may be removed by the Home Secretary—is to prevent abuse.
Now may I come to the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne to whose argument I listened with close attention. He asked whether the word "may" in subsection (1) meant "shall". I can give him an emphatic answer. I have no doubt that "may" in this provision would be interpreted by the courts as "may" and not as "shall". I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will follow the argument. Here we have to give an express power to the immigration officer to do something which he would not otherwise have power to do. We have to give him express power to refuse admittance. We have to give him an express power to impose conditions on admission. But there is no need to make a statutory provision to enable the immigration officer to allow in persons without the imposition of conditions. That power is there quite normally. But there are those three steps.
We are here concerned with what the immigration officer does and does not do. Those are the three things which he can do. He can admit purely and simply, and if it comes within the provisions of subsection (2) or relates to one of the exempted classes, it is open to him to admit. Where it does not, he has a discretion and will be guided by the instructions in his discharge of that discretion. In the exercise of that discretion he can either refuse admittance, admit subject to conditions, or admit without conditions.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I am obliged to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his explanation, but I should like it to go a little further. Under the corresponding provisions relating to aliens, only the Home Secretary has this power. It is true that the right hon. Gentleman exercises it through the immigration officers. But an officer has no power of his own, it must be the discretion of the Home Secretary.
The Attorney-General is saying that, by this subsection, the immigration officer is given a complete, unfettered discretion to allow immigrants in or to keep them out, as he decides. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman really means that, what is the purpose of this Bill? This power could be exercised purely on a colour basis without the immigration officer doing anything wrong.
§ The Attorney-General
I have said more than once that the immigration officer would act in accordance with the instructions of the Home Secretary.
§ The Attorney-General
It is in the Bill. In Clause 16 (3), there is a statutory provisionIn the exercise of their functions under this Act, immigration officers shall"—may I point out to the hon. Gentleman that there "shall" means "shall", and not "may"—act in accordance with such instructions as may be given by the Secretary of State …I do not think that the hon. Gentleman need have any fear on that account.
I am afraid that I have taken longer than I intended, but I hope that I have made the position of the Government clear both with regard to this Amendment and to the operation of the provisions in Clause 2 (1, b). I intervened at this stage because I feel that when we consider subsections (2) and (3) and particularly the Government Amendments thereto, the whole picture of the operation of this Clause will be clearer to the Committee. I cannot deal with that in detail now without going out of order. But when the Committee sees the whole picture, hon. Members will realise that, while it is necessary to take power to refuse admittance to the 290 United Kingdom, this subsection is sensibly and properly constructed.
§ Mr. Fletcher
This has been an important debate, but I do not think that many hon. Members would agree with the Attorney-General in his hope that he has made the position of the Government clear. He has left the position more confused, at least to me, and I hope that he has not satisfied his right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton).
Listening to the argument of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, it seemed to me that on more than one count he exposed the hollowness of the whole of the Government's case. At one time he argued that one reason why he could not accept the Amendment of his right hon. Friend, to delete the power to refuse admission, was that the result would be that the Government would have to rely entirely on the powers in Clause 2 (1, b) which would involve them in the task of imposing conditions on all persons from the Commonwealth entering this country. In order to ensure that those conditions were observed by everyone coming into the country, the Government would have to make all British citizens from the Commonwealth, whether visitors for a long or a short period, report to the police. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that to effect that, the administrative machinery would be so complicated and expensive that the Government could not contemplate it. For those reasons, he said that the Government must have power to refuse admission.
That was the argument of the Attorney-General but it is full of fallacies, and it has left me in doubt about a lot of other things. As Clause 2 (1, b) is drafted, is it contemplated that Commonwealth arrivals, whether as immigrants or visitors, can in any circumstances be compelled to report to the police? As I read it, that is not one of the conditions which can he imposed by an immigration officer.
§ The Attorney-General
The hon. Gentleman says that. What I said was perfectly clear. If the hon. Gentleman likes to parody my argument, he can.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am glad to know that it is not contemplated that any immigrant from the Commonwealth should 291 be required to report to the police. At any rate we have got that concession from the Government as a result of this debate.
Why, therefore, is it necessary to introduce such a novelty in the Bill? If we accept the argument of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, the object is to protect the rights of those who come to this country. Thousands of people come here every year from Canada, Australia, the West Indies, and from Asia, India and Pakistan as of right, as visitors. A great many come for short periods and then return to their homes. One of the troubles about the statistics with which we are continuously confused by the Home Secretary is that they include large numbers of people who come here for short periods only. It is notorious that a lot of Irishmen come for seasonal work and then return to their own country. That is why I have never assumed that the argument about figures in the abstract of visitors is at all convincing, or carries the Government anywhere.
I agree with the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton. The refusal of the Government to accept the Amendment seems to me the acid test of their sincerity. By refusing this Amendment they are taking power to deny the right of admission as visitors to people from any part of the Commonwealth; a power which cannot possibly be required if there is a desire to control the number of immigrants. Hitherto, we have been told that that is what the Government want. They desire some numerical control to ensure that in no year is there such a flood of immigrants that we cannot deal with them—not that I think that is likely to occur.
This argument about having to report to the police if visitors of whatever colour come from Canada, Australia or Jamaica, is totally different. If they come as visitors for a few months they are to be treated equally. It is not suggested that people are to be treated differently on the grounds of colour. That suggestion has been repudiated, although whether everyone on the Tory back benches agrees I do not know. What does the argument put forward by the Attorney-General mean? If the Committee accepts the Amendment and 292 grants the right of free entry to Commonwealth visitors, conceding to the Government in Clause 2 (1, b) the right to impose conditions, it would mean, the Attorney-General says, that they would have to insist on Canadians, Australians and Jamaicans reporting to the police.
§ The Attorney-General
The hon. Member again completely misrepresents the argument I advanced. I do not think he does it deliberately, but I made it clear that I was dealing with the suggestion of my right hon. Friend that conditions should be imposed on an eight months' stay and that sort of thing on all immigrants to this country.
§ Mr. Fletcher
Every year a large number of immigrants from the Commonwealth come here for a few months' stay. Some may come for three months and some for six months or more. Originally some may come for three months. If they want to stay for another six months, why should they not do so? Generally we trust Commonwealth immigrants who want to stay for a longer period than they originally intended.
§ Mr. John Harvey (Walthamstow, East)
I am not unsympathetic to the argument of the hon. Member. We want those immigrants to be free to come here, but does not the next subsection of the Clause cover the precise point he is making? It says that there would be no power to prevent any Commonwealth citizen coming here provided he could satisfy an immigration officer that he is in a position to support himself and his dependants while in the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Fletcher
As I understand from one of the subsections, all they have to do is to satisfy the immigration officer that they can support themselves. They might want to come for three months. Surely they are entitled to extend their stay without the permission of the Home Secretary. Are we to say to immigrants from Commonwealth territories that if they come here for two or three months and friends and relatives want them to extend their stay, they cannot do so without the permission of the Home Secretary? Is that what is being said? We are dealing with a large group of people 293 who might quite rightly want to come as visitors and then wish to stay here for a longer time. There is nothing to prevent someone from Australia intending to come for a short time and then extending his stay. There ought not to be any provision against that.
The other fallacy in the argument of the Attorney-General was that he said that there were administrative objections to enforcement and so on. One of my hon. Friends pointed out that the Government will not be able to operate Clauses 2 and 3 unless they have a great deal of administrative machinery. That argument will not work. If the argument about administrative expense is used against the argument of the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton it means that there will be no expense involved in setting up administrative machinery to ensure that people who come here legitimately—for example to take up some employment for which they have a voucher—shall continue to take up that work or, if they come as students, shall pursue some study and continue to pursue that course of study. On the argument of the Attorney-General they will be trusted to do what they come here to do, and they ought to be so trusted. If the argument of the Attorney-General is right, that powers of that kind are required at all, they are equally required to operate Clause 2 as it stands.
I do not want to delay the proceedings in view of other important Amendments on the Notice Paper, but this seems so serious a matter that I am sure that the Committee will wish to divide upon it.
§ Mr. Grimond
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member, but I think that the only method of pursuing this matter is through him and there seems to be a misconception. As I understand it he Attorney-General, he is under the impression that the Amendment moved by the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) would mean that all immigrants would be subject to conditions. As I understand it, that is not the case. A great number of immigrants will be admitted free of any condition and only a small number, for some reason or other, will be subject to conditions, as indeed they are now. I wonder if that could be cleared up.
§ Mr. Fletcher
That is my understanding. We do not know how the Government will operate the Measure. All we know from the speeches we have heard from the Government is that they are in complete confusion about how to administer it, whether in regard to Irish immigrants, Commonwealth immigrants or students. Now we have the extraordinary admission that they are resisting this Amendment because it would involve setting up machinery which they do not intend to set up for control under subsection (2). I should not have thought it necessary to resist the Amendment, because I should have thought that we could trust visitors from overseas to come and stay here and that we could continue the principle of free entry while giving the Government the powers which they want in the rest of the Clause.
§ The Attorney-General
Perhaps I may be allowed to speak again on this matter, briefly because hon. Members want to get on with the business. I was dealing with the case and the alternative put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton). I paid a great deal of attention to what he said about control of entry—which involves a power to refuse admission to those who enter, with the exception of those who come with vouchers—and with conditions.
Although the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) has sought to parody my argument, I addressed myself to the argument advanced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton. One reason why we have to resist the Amendment is that if we had anything like a large number of Commonwealth immigrants subject to conditions, it would follow that there would be the consequences which I suggested—I shall not repeat them now—for securing enforcement.
The point I made—which I make again because the hon. Member for Islington, East has perhaps not appreciated it—is that although my right hon. Friend has described this not as a wrecking Amendment or an Amendment seeking to drive a coach-and-four through the Bill, it would in fact make this Bill cease to be one which contains any power to curb immigration. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Indeed it would. The 295 mere imposition of conditions is no curb on the numbers coming to this country.
§ Mr. Turton
Before my right hon. and learned Friend continues to parody the argument, may I ask him to answer the case which I put? Under the Bill an immigration officer has power to refuse admission, or to admit, or to admit subject to conditions. My Amendment would delete from that the power to refuse admission. Instead of refusing admission in those cases the immigration officer would say, "We are not going to allow you the right to stay". I suggest that eight months could be the limit. That would meet the case and preserve the right of free entry. In all the long intervention made by my right hon. and learned Friend, I have not heard him adduce one argument to meet that point.
§ The Attorney-General
I am sorry, but I think my right hon. Friend must be suffering from a remarkable degree of deafness. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I pointed out at some length—and I repeat it quite shortly—that to do that would be to take away the power to curb immigration because, if we accept the principle that There must be control of immigration it follows—I am repeating what I said—that we must have power to refuse admission.
Although my right hon. Friend does not put it forward as a wrecking Amendment, if it were accepted by the Committee this Amendment would mean that the Bill no longer contained power to control immigration.
§ Sir Barnett Janner (Leicester, North-West)
I listened very carefully to the Attorney-General's explanation. I do not think that he appreciates the anxiety which exists on this side of the Committee and amongst many hon. Members opposite about the provisions of the Bill and the need to make it perfectly obvious, if it is to come into force, that there is no intention on the part of the Government to do what the Attorney-General says they do not intend to do. It is all very well for the Attorney-General to say what is the intention of the Government, but he knows as well as everybody else in the Committee that, whatever may be the Government's intention, the Act will prevail against any present intention of the Government, and any 296 future Government will be free to put any interpretation they wish on the Measure.
Therefore, in the view of those hon. Members who feel as I do about the Bill, the right hon. and learned Gentleman must be particularly cautious and ensure that there is no provision in the Bill which can be abused or interpreted as containing something contrary to the declared intention of the Government.
What right hon. and hon. Members object to is paragraph (a), which places the right of refusal in the hands of an immigration officer. It is not, as the Attorney-General said, a right that is entirely curbed. On the contrary, it is a right bestowed on the immigration officer, subject to certain considerations. He is entitled to use his discretion. This is the important point. He is entitled to use his discretion as to the interpretation of the provisions and as to the facts of the case.
In other words, the immigration officer still has the power to refuse admission. He may be entirely wrong. He may be using his discretion honestly, but the unfortunate person against whom the discretion is used has no right whatsoever of appeal against the use of his discretion. The unfortunate person can be turned away from our shores without any consultation with the Home Office or anyone connected with it.
That is the precise position. If the Attorney-General is honest in his desire to limit and curb the kind of action he wants to take, he certainly must use different words from those contained in paragraph (a). He knows as well as I do that paragraph (a) does not cover what he said it covers.
If the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not prepared to accept the Amendment, I hope that he will be prepared to say at this stage that he will introduce some Amendment which will indicate that the advice and opinion of the Home Office will be taken in every case where an immigration officer attempts to use his discretion but in which the potential immigrant feels that he is suffering from an injustice. I do not propose to pursue the other arguments. I want to pin the Attorney-General down on this point. Is he prepared to tell the Committee now what 297 he intends to do to protect the individual who seeks entry and who in our opinion should be entitled to entry in any circumstances? He has told the Committee that he does not think that the provision will cause any injustice. I ask him to tell us how he intends to ensure that it does not.
§ Mr. Chapman
I want to put one simple point in a few sentences to the Attorney-General. He says that the power to admit subject to three or six months' residence would not allow the Home Office to curb immigration. That was the core of his answer. I submit that it would, because it would mean that those who would normally seek entry at the ports would be told, "You can stay three months or six months and then you must go". That would act as a deterrent, because the word would go back to places like Pakistan and the West Indies, "Do not turn up and hope to put one across the immigration officer. You will be allowed to stay only for three or six months and then you will have to go home again". The mere fact of using the powers suggested by the right hon. Gentleman would amount to a curb on entry, which is exactly what the Attorney-General wants. In these circumstances we are all confused and cannot understand why the Attorney-General will not accept the simple Amendment.
§ Mr. J. Harvey
I have listened carefully to the debate and have come to the conclusion that there are two main streams of thought in support of the Amendment and one main argument against it. The two main streams in support of the Amendment, as I understand them to be and certainly in order of their importance, are, first, that if the Amendment were accepted we should be preserving the right of Commonwealth free entry, to which I should have throught that all hon. Members on both sides of the Committee must attach enormous importance. The second stream—I confess to some concern here—relates to how far we should vest so much power and authority in one fallible human being, the immigration officer. I do not intend any disrespect towards the people who perform these important duties at the ports when I say that all of us must at different times have had 298 representations about the treatment meted out even now to people coming to this country. These are the two main arguments in favour of the Amendment.
The argument against it is that, if people could come here freely, without being subject to the limitations contained in subsection (2), that is to say, that they must have an employment voucher or be able to show that they can support themselves, there might still be a temptation for people without an employment voucher or without the means of supporting themselves to try to come here in the hope that, if they arrived destitute and with no means of going back, something would be done to save them once they got here.
Those of us who have given thought to this problem have been much concerned about the degree of exploitation which has gone on in the West Indies by Italian shipping companies and in Pakistan by certain airline operators who bring people here, not worrying about the social consequences to them or to us. Therefore, there is a legitimate worry here. I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will think again about paragraph (b), which, after all, gives power to admit subject to regulations. The regulations could limit the period. The period does not have to be eight months or even three months. The immigration officer could admit someone and specify a fortnight if he thought it was a flagrant case of abuse. A fortnight would give sufficient time for an appeal to be made on behalf of a person who might be the victim of a wrong decision. If a few people found that, having tried to get round the regulations, they were on their way out again in a week or a fortnight, the abuse would jolly soon stop.
I ask the Attorney-General, without necessarily going further at this stage, if he will undertake between now and Third Reading to look again at the sort of possibilities that I have suggested to him in the hope that he will be able to see some ground for conceding the argument that has been put. If he could do that, I think that he would be helping the House and the country enormously because he would still be enshrining in the Bill the principle of Commonwealth free entry.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)
I hope that the Attorney-General will not accede to the argument which I know was put forward with the utmost good faith and sincerity by my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, East (Mr. J. Harvey). I cannot imagine that the Bill, if it becomes an Act, can be operated in any reasonable way whatever without the power to refuse admission. Let us try to see how that would operate. Here I think that my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) has not understood the argument that has been addressed to him. If we had no power to say, "No, you shall not come in", and yet the object of the Bill is to limit immigration to an extent unspecified—the Home Secretary said today that he could not possibly give a figure, and I think that is reasonable enough—and not limit it by some marginal degree, because we would not go through all this controversial Bill to have have some tightening up and marginal limit, but to limit it by a substantial amount in relation to what the immigration would be were it not for the Bill, how should we set about implementing it by imposing periods on people who come in?
§ Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas
What does the hon. Member mean by immigration? Does he mean by immigration permanent settlement or coming into the country? If he means coming into the country, his argument is absolutely obvious, but that is not the argument in support of the Amendment.
§ Mr. Bell
I should have thought that it would have been clear that I meant by immigration coming into the country to settle here. I never imagined for a moment that anyone coming into this country for a holiday was an immigrant. [Interruption.] It is extraordinary how obtuse some hon. Gentlemen can be, in a very simple matter. It has been made perfectly clear at every stage of the Bill that no one has the slightest wish to limit the number of people coming here for holidays or temporary visits of any kind. That has been said by the Home Secretary and others and it is perfectly obvious.
The object of the Bill is to limit immigration, by which I mean people coming into the country to settle here. That is 300 perfectly plain. The suggestion which my right hon. Friend has made is that this object could be achieved by putting time limits on people when they come here and attempting to turn them into visitors.
If that is what we are trying to do it is obvious that we must impose that sort of limitation on a very large number of people because, without the Bill, we should have very large numbers coming here as immigrants. That seems obvious, and I am surprised that it is not, apparently, appreciated by hon. Members opposite that it must be so. If we impose on people a condition that they must not stay in this country for more than eight months, or a year, or two years, or whatever the period may be, there must exist some machinery to enforce that condition. That inevitably implies registration of those immigrants. It implies their reporting to the police, and being tracked down on a quite for midible scale to ensure compliance with the condition. Is that a desirable state of affairs?
I have sought to answer my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, East because, although I think that his object is the same as mine in supporting the Bill, I do not think that to be a good way to treat Commonwealth immigrants. I believe that it is very much better to say quite frankly that the object of the Bill is to reduce by an appreciable amount the number of immigrants. We should do that openly and clearly, by saying "No" to some rather than by imposing on the great majority of those coming in either as immigrants or visitors—and, of course, the condition would have to be imposed on visitors as well as on immigrants—a condition that would put them under supervision and scrutiny for the whole of their stay.
That being so, I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will not even give an undertaking that might deceive anyone into thinking that this was a possible, acceptable way of carrying out the Bill's purpose. There are hon. Members opposite, and, perhaps, some of my hon. Friends, who do not dike the purpose of this Measure but, at least, accepting its purpose, it should be our common endeavour to find a reasonable, sensible and practicable—and, indeed, civil—way of carrying out that purpose. 301 As I do not think that my right hon. Friend's Amendment would provide any of those things, I hope that the Committee will reject it.
§ Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas
Looking at the Bill. I very much doubt whether there is power to admit without condition at all. My hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) referred to the question of "may" and "shall" in relation to subsection (1), but that subsection provides a power either to refuse admission or to admit subject to conditions. That can be read as an alternative of either refusing, or admitting subject to conditions.
Perhaps the right hon. and learned Attorney-General will bear in mind that by Clause 2 (2, a) everybody who can support himself is entitled to come in as of right. There is, therefore, no need at all to rely on the power to admit without condition in order to get in this category of visitors, and the like. Therefore, what the right hon. and learned Gentleman is doing is to rely on what he says exists, namely, a power to admit without condition, in order to let in the Irish, but that was not in contemplation when the Bill was drawn up. It is obviously intended that the Irish should be within the Bill.
When we look at what categories are dealt with in this Measure we find that Clause 17 (3) provides that categories
§ are to be excluded from the Bill's provisions by Statutory Instrument, but here we have a whole category of Irish being excluded without any Statutory Instrument at all but merely on the instructions of the Home Secretary to the immigration officer. This, apparently, can be carried on indefinitely. Therefore, according to the Attorney-General, it can go on by excluding Irish, by excluding Indians, by excluding Pakistanis and by excluding everyone we like merely on instructions that do not come before this House at any stage, whereas, if we want to exclude some limited category of people under Clause 17, such as some members of forces, we must have a Statutory Instrument and the approval of the House to its being done.
§ It seems to me, in other words, that the whole interpretation which the Attorney-General is placing upon this Clause to which the Amendment refers, looks as though it might be very much with an eye on the Irish and not at all on the intention of the draftsman when the Bill was drafted. This really is a matter that needs very careful consideration and, without being reconsidered, it should certainly he done by means of the Amendment.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 249, Noes 185.305
|Division No. 64.]||AYES||[7.0 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Buck, Antony||de Ferranti, Basil|
|Aitken, W. T.||Bullard, Denys||Digby, Simon Wingfield|
|Allason, James||Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Burden, F. A.||Doughty, Charles|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Drayson, G. B.|
|Barber, Anthony||Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A.(Saffron Walden)||du Cann, Edward|
|Barlow, Sir John||Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Duncan, Sir James|
|Barter, John||Cary, Sir Robert||Eden, John|
|Batsford, Brian||Channon, H. P. G.||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Chataway, Christopher||Elliott, R.W. (Nwcstle-upon-Tyne, N.)|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Chichester-Clark, R.||Emery, Peter|
|Bell, Ronald||Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Errington, Sir Eric|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Erroll, Rt. Hon. F. J.|
|Biffen, John||Cleaver, Leonard||Farey-Jones, F. W.|
|Bingham, R. M.||Cole, Norman||Finlay, Graeme|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Collard, Richard||Fletcher-Cooks, Charles|
|Bishop, F. P.||Cooke, Robert||Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|Bossom, Clive||Corfield, F. V.||Freeth, Denzil|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Costain, A. P.||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.|
|Box, Donald||Coulson, Michael||Gammans, Lady|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J.||Craddock, Sir Beresford||Gardner, Edward|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Critchley, Julian||Gilmour, Sir John|
|Braine, Bernard||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Glover, Sir Douglas|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Curran, Charles||Godber, J. B.|
|Brooman-White, R.||Dance, James||Goodhart, Philip|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Goodhew, Victor|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Deedes, W. F.||Gough, Frederick|
|Grant, Rt Hon. William||Maginnis, John E.||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R.||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Seymour, Leslie|
|Green, Alan||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Sharples, Richard|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Maples, Rt. Hon. Ernest||Shaw, M.|
|Gurden, Harold||Marshall, Douglas||Shepherd, William|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Marten, Neil||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir Jocelyn|
|Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Hare, Rt. Hon. John||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Mawby, Ray||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Mills, Stratton||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Hastings, Stephen||Montgomery, Fergus||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Hay, John||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Morgan, William||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Hiley, Joseph||Nabarro, Gerald||Talbot, John E.|
|Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Tapsell, Peter|
|Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)|
|Hobson, John||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie||Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)|
|Holland, Philip||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Teeling, Sir William|
|Hollingworth, John||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Temple, John M.|
|Hope. Rt. Hon. Lord John||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Hopkins, Alan||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Hornby, R. P.||Page, John (Harrow, West)||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Partridge, E.||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Hughes-Young, Michael||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Hulbert, Sir Norman||Peel, John||Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Percival, Ian||Turner, Colin|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Peyton, John||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pike, Miss Mervyn||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Jackson, John||Pilkington, Sir Richard||Vane, W. M. F.|
|James, David||Pitman, Sir James||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Pitt, Miss Edith||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Pott, Percivall||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch||Walder, David|
|Joseph, Sir Keith||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Wall, Patrick|
|Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Prior, J. M. L.||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Proudfoot, Wilfred||Webster, David|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Pym, Francis||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Leavey, J. A.||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Whitelaw, William|
|Leburn, Gilmour||Ramsden, James||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Rawlinson, Peter||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Linstead, Sir Hugh||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin||Wise, A. R.|
|Litchfield, Capt. John||Rees, Hugh||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Longbottom, Charles||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Loveys, Walter H.||Renton, David||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas||Woollam, John|
|MacArthur, Ian||Robinson, Rt Hn Sir R.(B'pool, S.)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Macleod, Rt Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Robson-Brown, Sir William||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Roots, William|
|McMaster, Stanley R.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Russell, Ronald||Mr. Gordon Campbell and|
|Abse, Leo||Crosland, Anthony||George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Crmrthn)|
|Ainsley, William||Darling, George||Ginsburg, David|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Gooch, E. G.|
|Awbery, Stan||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Gourlay, Harry|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Grey, Charles|
|Beaney, Alan||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)|
|Bence, Cyril||Deer, George||Griffiths, W. (Exchange)|
|Bennett, J. (Clasgow, Bridgeton)||Dempsey, James||Grimond, Rt. Hon. J,|
|Benson, Sir George||Diamond, John||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Dodds, Norman||Hamilton, William (West Fife)|
|Blyton, William||Ede, Rt. Hon. C.||Hannan, William|
|Boardman, H.||Edelman, Maurice||Hart, Mrs. Judith|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics, S. W.)||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Hayman, F. H.|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Healey, Denis|
|Bowles, Frank||Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis)|
|Boyden, James||Evans, Albert||Hewitson, Capt. M.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Fernyhough, E.||Hill, J. (Midlothian)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Finch, Harold||Hilton, A. V.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Fletcher, Eric||Holman, Percy|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)||Holt, Arthur|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Howell, Charles A. (Perry Barr)|
|Callaghan, James||Forman, J. C.||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Hoy, James H.|
|Chapman, Donald||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Galpern, Sir Myer||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Moody, A. S.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Hunter, A. E.||Morris, John||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Mort, D. L.||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Moyle, Arthur||Steele, Thomas|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Neal, Harold||Stones, William|
|Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|Janner. Sir Barnett||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Jeger, George||Oliver, G. H.||Swingler, Stephen|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Oswald, Thomas||Symonds, J. B.|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Owen, Well||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Padley, W. E.||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Jones, J, Idwal (Wrexham)||Paget, R. T.||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Pargiter, G. A.||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Kelley, Richard||Parker, John||Timmons, John|
|Kenyon, Clifford||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Peart, Frederick||Wade, Donald|
|King, Dr. Horace||Pentland, Norman||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Lawson, George||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Warbey, William|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Carmock)||Popplewell, Ernest||Watkins, Tudor|
|Lewis, Arthur (west Ham, N.)||Prentice, R. E.||Weitzman, David|
|Lipton, Marcus||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Louglin, Charles||Probert, Arthur||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Randall, Harry||Whitlock, William|
|McCann, John||Rankin, John||Wilkins, W. A.|
|MacColl, James||Redhead, E. C.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|McInnes, James||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Williams, LI. (Abertillery)|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Robert, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute & N. Ayrs.)||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|McLeavy, Frank||Roes, William||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Manuel, A. C.||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Mapp, Charles||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Marsh, Richard||Skeffington, Arthur||Woof, Robert|
|Mason, Roy||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Mendelson, J. J.||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Milne, Edward||Small, William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mitchison, G. B.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Mr. Turton and Mr. Biggs-Davison.|
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. David Renton)
I beg to move in page 2, line 17, to leave out from "to" to "for" in line 19 and to insert:a condition restricting the period for which he may remain there, with or without conditions.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. F. Blackburn)
During the discussion of this Amendment reference may also be made to the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Nelson and Come (Mr. S. Silverman) in page 2, line 18, leave out from "conditions" to "for" in line 19, and that in the name of the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) in page 2, line 19, leave out from "there" to end of line 20, although they are not selected for Division.
§ Mr. Renton
This is a rather technical Amendment and the clue to it is the replacement of the word "or" by the words "with or without". The effect of making this simple Amendment is that a time condition could still be imposed by itself but an employment condition could be imposed only if there was a time condition. The employment condition could be imposed only as an adjunct to a time condition.
§ Mrs. Castle
On a point of order. It is difficult to hear what the Minister is saying. Could he perhaps repeat his last words more loudly?
§ Mr. Renton
I do not think my voice lacked clarity, Mr. Blackburn. There was a general hubbub in the Chamber. I thank the hon. Lady for raising the point. Perhaps I shall not have to speak so loudly now. I was saying that the effect of the Amendment is that a time condition could still be imposed by itself but that an employment condition could not be imposed by itself but only in conjunction with a time condition.
We have decided that we could do without the power to attach employment conditions only because we are content that the whole-time employment should be governed by the voucher system and the Committee will recognise that the possession of a voucher gives unrestricted right of entry. This new wording emphasises our policy; that conditions are to be used only in doubtful cases and not as a normal routine to cover all temporary visits. This point 307 has already been dealt with at some length.
Conditions will not be used to support the voucher system, when people are coming obviously only for a visit, in the case of returning residents or when it is clear that whole-time study is all that is intended. The conditions may be found necessary and may be imposed when the true reason for coming here appears to be to obtain employment without any voucher, and so to circumvent the voucher system, although the person claims to be a visitor or student. Conditions will be imposed especially when there is doubt about the intended purpose of the visit or where the person coming may be a charge on public funds if he stayed longer than a certain time. In those cases the only alternative to refusing admission would be to admit, subject to conditions. In other words, this power to attach conditions will enable many people to come here for a limited time who might otherwise have to be turned away.
I do not propose, at this stage, to comment on the two other Amendments which you stated, Mr. Blackburn, could be referred to along with this one. I would, naturally, wish to hear what hon. Gentlemen opposite have to say about them before commenting. I hope that now that I have explained our policy with regard to conditions and the very limited use we intend to make of them, any fears hon. Gentlemen opposite may have had about this matter have, to a great extent, been met.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Donald Wade (Huddersfield, West)
We are now considering the case of immigrants on whom conditions are to be imposed. We have been told that there may not be many cases, but we are really in a state of very great doubt. We do not know how this provision will operate over a period of time, and I would draw the attention of the Committee to the words at the end of Clause 2 (1, b) which state… for regulating his employment or occupation there.The object of the Amendment in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) is to delete those words. It was tabled partly to draw attention to 308 that wording but also to express some concern about the possible operation of the Clause.
I understand that these conditions are to be coupled with conditions affecting the period for which the immigrant will be allowed to remain here. That is the intention of the Government's Amendment and I appreciate that that makes some difference to the effect of the Clause—but it does not altogether remove my feelings of concern about the possible outcome of these words. After all, we must presume—since the words are there—that they are to be used.
The condition of employment is not merely designed to ensure that there is a reasonable opportunity for employment. It goes further than that and imposes a condition for the whole of the period that the immigrant is in this country. I should have thought that that introduced a somewhat dangerous principle, for there are two possible consequences. We may have a new kind of direction of labour. We also, I think, will have two kinds of Commonwealth citizens. One might call them first-class and second-class citizens—the first-class citizens being those who can follow such employment as they think fit and the others being those who are subject to this control over their employment during the whole of the time they are resident in Britain.
I understand that this goes further than making entry conditional on proof of a job being available, and surely, if that is so, we are entitled to ask what will happen, for instance, in the case of an immigrant changing his employment or in the event of his being temporarily unemployed. Will this involve a risk of deportation? Exactly how will the Government's proposals operate? Is there to be a duty on the manager or official of a labour exchange in the case of an immigrant who is subject to this condition to inform the Home Office immediately the immigrant moves from one job to another or is temporarily unemployed?
I am well aware that fears exist in certain parts of the country about the danger of immigrants swelling the numbers of unemployed. There is a certain amount of prejudice—whether there be any basis for it I do not know—that immigrants may come into the country 309 and live merely on unemployment pay. I have endeavoured to ascertain the facts in my own area of the West Riding of Yorkshire. A considerable number of Pakistanis and West Indians come into my own borough of Huddersfield and other parts of the West Riding.
I spent quite a long time discussing this matter with the manager of the Huddersfield Employment Exchange. I was interested to find that there was no evidence at all to show that any immigrants came here in order to enjoy unemployment pay. They came here with the very clear desire and object of obtaining work. Speaking very generally, I think that some of the West Indians come here with the idea of settling, others with the idea of working for a number of years and then going back to the West Indies. As regards the Pakistanis, in the main—I am not talking about students but those who come to work—they come here to save from their earnings and return later to their own country, gaining thereby some advancement in their position in life and the possibility, perhaps, of buying a small plot of land, and enjoying the benefits of the money they have earned while over here. Quite definitely, I could not find any evidence of immigrants coming here, as is sometimes said, merely to get the benefits of the Welfare State.
How is the Clause to operate? Although, if what I have said is right, as I believe it is, immigrants do not come here merely to swell the numbers of unemployed, it is true in my own area at least that, during the last year, the flow of immigrants was greater than the number of jobs becoming available, and this has tended to increase, perhaps temporarily, the number of unemployed. As I understand it, the wording of the Bill at this point is not intended to deal with the problem of the flow of immigrants and the effect on unemployment but to deal with certain individuals upon whom conditions as to employment are to be imposed. I should have thought that the whole question of flow and the kind of work which immigrants tend to take up when they come here was clearly a matter for consultation between this Government and the Governments of the other Commonwealth countries rather than for regulation by officials.
310 Further, I should feel that the Clause will put too great a power in the hands of immigration officers, however anxious they may be to carry out their duties properly and fairly. As I understand it, an immigration officer is not only to be directed as to whom he shall or shall not allow in but he is to be given directions also as to what kind of employment an immigrant is to follow during the whole of his time in this country.
Although I do not wish in any way to exaggerate the dangers, and I do not think that I do exaggerate, I fear that another danger is inherent in the Clause. An employer might say to an immigrant employed by him, "Unless you do as you are told, you will run the risk of deportation". I do not suggest that many employers will do that, but the possibility is there. I do not know what the attitude of trade unions will be to this principle. It is something new which we should consider very carefully.
Another consequence is that the Clause may limit the type of employment available for immigrants. Indeed, the situation may be almost comparable in its potentialities to what we know occurs in South Africa. Generally speaking, immigrants from the West Indies tend to take unskilled jobs, but one of the advantages to the West Indies of immigration being allowed is that some West Indians learn skilled jobs here and then return to their own country with the advantage of having gained some knowledge of skilled work. This should be encouraged. The danger is that the Clause may——
§ The Temporary Chairman
The hon. Gentleman will cause me less anxiety if he stops referring to the Clause and refers to the subsection or to the Amendment.
§ Mr. Wade
I am obliged, Mr. Blackburn. The danger is that the subsection may be used—this may not be the Home Secretary's intention—in such a way that we shall introduce the principle of direction of labour. Until we know a great deal more about the regulations which are to be laid, we cannot feel satisfied with the subsection as at present worded.
§ Mr. Renton
Perhaps I should reply briefly at once to the hon. Gentleman 311 the Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade) because his speech was based on a complete misunderstanding. We have never proposed that there shall be any detailed control of labour under or in connection with the Bill. What we have put forward in the Bill and have made clear in speeches is that those who wish to enter employment in this country will normally be required to have employment vouchers, but there will be no conditions attached to employment vouchers. There is no power taken in the Bill to attach conditions to employment vouchers, and, once a person comes here on an employment voucher, he will be entitled to stop here as long as he likes unless recommended for deportation.
§ Mr. Renton
No restriction on his getting another job. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, if he has not already made that clear, will do so at a later stage, if we reach it today.
The one point which remains for consideration is the effect of the word "regulating" here. I say candidly that I should like to consider it once more because it may well be that something indicating prohibition would be more appropriate. It is certainly not intended to use this provision for purposes of detailed employment control. Lest the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West should have any fear that it might do that, I should like to consider it again.
§ Mrs. Castle
I heard with some alarm the hon. and learned Gentleman's statement that conditions would not be applied to people with vouchers, to obvious visitors and to whole-time students. Presumably, this means that they will be applied to the large number of students who come over here——
§ The Temporary Chairman
I think that the hon. Lady will receive an answer to that on another Amendment.
§ Mrs. Castle
I think we should have it clear now, Mr. Blackburn, because it 312 arises from the statement of the Minister of State in this connection and it affects our attitude to the imposition of conditions. I feel that we should know what is covered by it.
As the hon. and learned Gentleman knows, many people come here and take a job in order to maintain themselves while they stay. They cannot get scholarships from their own countries because their own countries are too poor to give them. Are we to take it that persons of that kind who will not have an employment voucher will be subjected to these conditions and might indeed be regarded as people who would be allowed to stay here only for——
§ The Temporary Chairman
I am sorry to stop the hon. Lady, but I think I must do so. There are later Amendments dealing with this very point, and the whole matter can be dealt with at that time.
§ Mrs. Castle
I am sorry, but the Secretary of State's later Amendment deals with a different aspect from the one with which I am now concerned. The Minister of State has referred to a certain category of student. In those circumstances, I wish to ask him whether, he having gone out of his way to mention this category, it means that the type of student to which I referred will be subject to the employment conditions which he mentioned.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
I may be extremely obtuse, but the other possibility is that the Clause is very obscure. I do not understand the situation or what difference the Government's Amendment to the subsection makes, and I have not been enlightened on the point by what the Minister of State has said. As I say, it may be my natural obtuseness, but I cannot understand the position and I do not know how many other hon. Members understand it.
The Minister of State said that all those who come into this country under the voucher system will not have any conditions applied to them. They will be able to move from one job to another. If they lose a job they will be able to remain out of work for a period. In other words, they will be completely free citizens here without any conditions 313 imposed on them. They will have all the rights which Commonwealth citizens in this country have at present. But what happens about the people who come in under subsection (1)? The hon. and learned Gentleman referred to some of the people who would not be dealt with by subsection (1, b) which he wishes to amend and which some of us wish to amend in a different sense. Who will be dealt with under this subsection? What is the reason for it?
The Minister of State may say that if this provision were not in the Bill then some people would be more stringently dealt with than others and, therefore, the subsection gives the immigration officers greater freedom than they otherwise would have to let in more people. If that is the purpose, then everything depends on the instructions given to the immigration officers about how they should act under the subsection. We have not been told anything about those instructions. I am not sure at what point in the Bill we are to be told the instructions which will be given to immigration officers.
In an earlier debate, the Home Secretary came along very late in the proceedings and told us that at some point we should be told the instructions which would be given to immigration officers under the Bill. I want to know whether we are to be told the instructions to be given to immigration officers under subsection (1). If instructions under the subsection to immigration officers are to be included among those which we have been promised we should be told about, why do not the Government tell us what those instructions will be now? What is the use of discussing the subsection if we are not told how the instructions will be applied?
I do not see how we can be very enthusiastic about the Clause if we are not told what instructions will be given to immigration officers under subsection (1). The situation described by the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade) is perfectly correct. We shall have two different kinds of citizen of the Commonwealth in different categories in the country. One Commonwealth citizen will be able to say to another, "I am a voucher man. What about you? Are you under different conditions?" What happens to the 314 citizen of the Commonwealth who comes in under this Clause under which the immigration officer retains the power, even with the Government's Amendment, of being able to say to him, "You can come in for only three or six months"? Will he be asked to report to the police?
We had a long debate in which the Attorney-General told us that this subsection will not be very extensively used. But that does not alter the principle of the matter. Even if it is not extensively used, presumably there will have to be some instrument for carrying it into effect when it is used. The Attorney-General's argument was that if we are to make this Clause effective we must have some means to carry it out. He hinted that in order to carry it out there might have to be some sort of surveillance by the police or some kind of report to the police. Will those members of the Commonwealth admitted under subsection (1) have to go through the procedure of reporting to the police?
§ Mr. Foot
Then how can the subsection be carried out? What the Attorney-General told us previously—I know that we cannot go back to that—goes down the drain, and it is too late to remedy it. If someone disregards an immigration officer's condition that he is entitled to stay for three months, what law has he broken? If he has not broken a law, presumably he can stay here.
I do not see how it is possible to escape the difficulty which was pointed out by the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West, namely, that we shall have two categories of immigrant. I hope that the Government will not be content with the very confused situation left by the introduction of their own Amendment but will consider all the Amendments tabled to this subsection and will look at the whole question again.
§ Mr. Renton
A great deal of what the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) says goes much further than these Amendments, but may I answer his perfectly fair question as to what is the sanction behind the procedure for attaching conditions. If anyone is in breach of a condition laid upon him, he commits at offence under Clause 4 and will attract 315 the penalties laid down in a later Clause. The hon. Gentleman asked how we should know whether people were in breach of the conditions laid upon them. The answer is that a note will be taken of that comparatively small number of cases in which conditions are imposed and we shall have a means of finding out whether people are in breach of the conditions laid upon them without any question of reporting to the police.
§ Mr. Renton
I do not think that I need to reveal all the detailed administrative arrangements which we make for occasions like this. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh".] It is entirely a question of administration. Statutory provision is not needed to support it.
All that I need to say to the Committee is this. By taking a note of cases in which conditions are attached and by noting whether people with those conditions have left the country in time, we shall know whether there has been a breach. If there has been a breach, the case will be recorded. The sanction lies in the fact that a penalty will be attracted.
§ Mr. Renton
We shall have our means of finding out, but it does not involve any question of registration or of reporting to the police. The sanction will be there.
§ Miss Lee
Suppose that a gay young Australian comes over here with a temporary permit, works for six months and earns reasonably well and spends reasonably well. At the end of that time his duty is to return to Australia. Suppose that he is broke. Will his passage back to Australia be paid, or what arrangements will be made for him?
§ Mr. Renton
To be candid, that is a hypothetical case of a very detailed kind. I do not see how any useful purpose is served by discussing exactly 316 how the machinery will work in a case such as that. All that I would ask the hon. Lady to accept is that we do not anticipate any serious difficulty in this matter.
§ Mrs. Castle
Will the Minister of State please answer my questions, which arose from his speech on the Clause? An attempt was made to imply that I was out of order because I referred to students. The question of students was clearly raised by the Minister. I asked him questions which might influence my voting on the Clause. I should like him to reply because, under the Guillotine, there is no guarantee that we shall reach the later Clauses. We are therefore entitled to answers to specific questions.
§ Mr. D. Howell
There was a disposition on this side to support the Amendment until we heard it explained. I appreciate the magnanimity of the Minister of State in moving it, because he clearly wanted the Committee to understand that the Amendment represented a liberalisation of the Bill. We are all concerned with what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said.
Subsection (2, b), as it will be amended, will give powers to an immigration officer toadmit him into the United Kingdom subject to a condition restricting the period for which he may remain there, with or without conditions for regulating his employment or occupation there.That is as wide open as the barn door. As the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade) said, in certain circumstances it means a direction of labour.
The Minister of State is asking us to take on trust the good intentions of the Government. The Bill might be in force for a long time and under another Government. No Minister is entitled to say, "We are asking you to put this on the Statute Book, but as long as we are in power we shall interpret it liberally", when later there might be a different Home Secretary or Government who interpret the Bill entirely differently. If the Government want this provision now to deal with specific cases, I do not see why they should not write the specific types of case into the Bill.
Secondly, the Minister said that this provision would be used only for borderline cases. Even if we jump the constitutional point which I have just raised, 317 we are entitled to know what the borderline cases are likely to be. They will not be people who come in with vouchers. Presumably, they will not be people who come in under the quota system. Therefore, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) has hinted, they are more likely to be people who arrive from the older parts of the Commonwealth and present themselves at the ports or airports for admission. These are the people to whom conditions are likely to apply. We are entitled to know in what circumstances the conditions would be laid down, what they are likely to be and what redress the Government will have if they are broken. A great responsibility is being placed upon immigration officers who ought not to have to bear it.
Thirdly, what steps will the Government take to find out whether the conditions are broken? It is not a bit of good the Minister saying, "You cannot expect us to tell you what steps we are taking. We have our means and we shall implement them." This takes us into a serious situation. The Home Secretary is a great custodian of our civil liberties and would be loath to have anything that would detract from them. That being so, we are entitled to know what machinery the Government would use to find out how people break the conditions laid down by the subsection. Parliament is entitled to know.
These are not great matters of State secrecy in which MI 5 would be used. They are matters affecting ordinary human beings. Whatever views we have about the Bill, we are entitled to know what method the Government would use to ascertain how people break the conditions that are imposed. The Minister of State has not tried to give us any information about this, but has completely evaded the issue. Some of us who were predisposed to support the Amendment because we considered it an improvement might have to think again if we do not get a better interpretation of the Clause than we have had hitherto.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
I beg to move, in page 2, line 20, at the end, to insert:(1A) The power to refuse admission or admit subject to conditions under this section shall 318 not be exercised, except as provided by subsection (3A), in the case of any person who satisfies an immigration officer that he or she—I understand, Mr. Arbuthnot, that it is agreeable for us to discuss at the same time the Amendment in line 21, leave out from beginning to "in" in line 22, and insert:
- (a) is ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom or was so resident at any time within the past two years; or
- (b) is the wife, or a child under sixteen years of age, of a Commonwealth citizen who is resident in the United Kingdom or of a Commonwealth citizen (not being a person who is on that occasion refused admission into the United Kingdom) with whom she or he enters or seeks to enter the United Kingdom.Without prejudice to subsection (1A) of this section, the power to refuse admission under this section shall not be exercised, except as provided by subsections (3) and (3A)".
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. John Arbuthnot) indicated assent.
§ Mr. Butler
These Amendments deal with the admission of returning residents' wives and children and there is a separate Amendment in my name—in line 30, at end insert:(b) that he wishes to enter the United Kingdom for the purpose of attending a course of study at any university, college, school or other institution in the United Kingdom, being a course which will occupy the whole or a substantial part of his time; or—which deals with students. It may be convenient if I explain briefly what the Government have tried to do in these Amendments. There has never been any doubt in our minds that returning residents, wives and dependent children ought to be admitted. I hope, therefore, that we can discuss the Amendment without undue controversy.
A desire has been expressed, on both sides of the Committee, that our intentions in these matters should be made clear in the terms of the Bill and should not be left to be framed in administrative instructions to immigration officers. Although it was not our original idea in drafting the Bill, the Amendments have been put down with a view to meeting the wishes of the Committee in our previous discussions.
There are difficulties about trying to define groups of people in immigration Statutes, because the very person who wants to make such a definition often runs into undue rigidity, which might, 319 for example, as I shall explain later about children, prevent the admission of children who might legitimately be brought in. In the earlier parts of our discussion, I used the expression that all we would get was a basic statutory wording. That is what we have here.
I want, however, to supplement that. I have already undertaken that the general lines of instructions to immigration officers will be made available to the House and to the public. This is the first time it has been done. I therefore inform the Committee that a White Paper containing this information will be published before the Report stage. The reason why it is not published now is that I want to take into consideration for the final draft for immigration officers the sort of arguments that were made on the last Amendment. We shall take into account points made in Committee in publishing the final draft, which I have already prepared. That, I hope, will be convenient.
The present Amendments, following the existing lines of Clause 2, are framed in terms of classes of person about whose status the immigration officer has to be satisfied. Once the immigration officer is satisfied, the result follows automatically. The first group in the Amendment are those who are ordinarily resident or who have been so resident in the past two years previous to their seeking entry. The only exception to the guarantee of entry is the obvious one that a resident who has been deported naturally, I suppose, loses his right to return.
This part of the Amendment meets the anxiety expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and (Mahon (Mr. Turton) about the Commonwealth citizen who has settled here but goes home for a holiday. He would be covered. It is not unreasonable that I should tell the Committee that after two years' absence an immigrant should lose his automatic right to return, but the liberal attitude with which we regard the Amendment would still give immigration officers, as will appear in the instructions, ample discretion to admit people who have been away for more than two years. They will be told that in exercising that discretion they should have regard Ito the length of previous residence in the United Kingdom.
320 The next point deals with wives and children under 16. In earlier debates it was suggested that the Government's assurances about the admission of wives were not enough, since the immigration officer would retain a discretion to refuse entry on certain specified grounds. The Amendment which I am moving, I hope, meets these anxieties. It has the effect, as promised by the Attorney-General in a previous discussion, that wives cannot be refused entry on medical grounds or on grounds of criminal record. Nor can their stay be made subject to conditions. That amply meets what my right hon. and learned Friend undertook. The Amendment gives a total guarantee of entry to a person who satisfies the immigration officer that her husband is resident here, and to a wife accompanying her husband, if he is admitted. The words in brackets in the Amendment are necessary to meet the situation in which the head of the family is refused admission. They give power to the immigration officer in such circumstances also to refuse entry to his wife.
The Amendment does not deal with the case of a woman who is living in permanent association with a man but is not legally married to him—a situation which I understand frequently obtains among West Indians. It is impossible to put this in statutory form, and that is why we have not done so, because there are degrees of permanence in such associations which would be difficult, despite the skill of parliamentary counsel, to write into the Statute. Therefore, we have to rely here, whether we like it or not, on the discretionary element, that is on the action of the immigration officer acting on the instructions which I shall give him. I can, however, give the Committee an unqualified assurance that the instructions to immigration officers will make clear that where they have reason to suppose that the association is really firm and permanent the woman will be admitted in the same way as a legal wife.
As to the right of admission to children under 16, either or both of whose parents are resident here, or to a child seeking admission with either or both of his parents, the Government Amendment in page 3, line 7 gives a liberal definition 321 of a child so as to include stepchild, adopted child and, in the case of the mother, illegitimate child. The age limit which we are proposing in the Amendment is only a statutory minimum and the children of 16 or 17 forming part of a family unit, and in some circumstances older children, will be admissible at discretion. But we think that the inherent right of entry should apply roughly speaking to children of school age.
It is relevant to remember that 16 is the age below which children can be included on their parents' passports. There will be discretion to the immigration officer to let in children up to the age of l8 if necessary, but we cannot make this a further discretion, for example, up to 21, because by that time that person should come in on his or her own merits, obtaining a voucher or coming in in the ordinary way. I shall be publishing before the Report stage instructions to immigration officers on this point. I hope that the Amendments express the Government's readiness to meet the wishes of the Committee wherever possible. Provided that we retain the general basis of the control which the Government feel to be essential, we are anxious to make this a sensible and humane Measure, which I hope the Amendments make it.
§ Mr. A. R. Wise (Rugby)
Did I hear my right hon. Friend aright? Did he say that admission could not be refused to a wife on medical grounds?
§ Mr. Butler
That is the understanding which the Attorney-General gave the Committee earlier and it is included in the Bill.
§ The Temporary Chairman
I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee if we also discussed the Amendments in page 2, line 38, and in page 3, line 7.
§ Mr. Fletcher
We certainly welcome the fact that the Home Secretary has moved the Amendment which, as he said, was in response to a number of suggestions made by some of my hon. Friends during earlier stages of the Bill. This Amendment protects the position of those citizens of the Commonwealth who at some past time and up to two years before their entry have been resident in this country. I would have hoped that the period of two years might 322 have been longer, but from what the Home Secretary has said I think that we can take it that his instructions to immigration officers will be so phrased as to enable them to give the same kind of facilities to people who have been resident in this country at even a more remote period in the past.
We also appreciate that these instructions to immigration officers are to be published and made available to hon. Members before Report stage, because that would give us an opportunity of examining them and dealing with them. As has appeared already from our earlier debates, the tenor of these instructions to the immigration officers will be something to which we shall attach great importance as indicating the spirit in which the Bill will be administered. Will the Home Secretary make sure that these instructions are made as explicit as possible, that they are free from ambiguity and are worded in such a way as to ensure that wherever doubt may arise the intending immigrant shall be given the benefit of that doubt?
As I read it, paragraph (b) of the proposed new subsection is limited to the wife who comes into the United Kingdom with her husband. Is it necessary that she should have this protection only when she accompanies her husband? Would it not be equally right and proper for her to have the same right if she came at a subsequent stage?
Secondly, we attach great importance to ensuring that a woman who lives in association with an immigrant as his spouse but does not have the status of a wife should have the same rights of entry as are given to a wife. It is well known that in some parts of the Commonwealth it is the practice for marriage to be postponed until after the birth of one child and sometimes of two children. That is the custom and practice in some parts of the West Indies, do doubt for reasons which the people there find appropriate. It is important, therefore, that the rights of these women should be respected in the same way as if they were already married under our system. With these words, I hope that the Committee will accept the Amendments.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Turton
I thank my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary for the very great improvement he has made to the 323 Bill by the Amendment. I attach great importance to the right of a Commonwealth citizen, who has lived here for some time but who has returned to the West Indies or to Australia, or wherever it may be, to come back again as of right. That wish has been respected, and I think that two years is a very reasonable period.
I did not follow the complaint of the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) about paragraph (b) of the Amendment, because I understand that it covers the position of the wife of a Commonwealth citizen who is already here. One is dealing with two possibilities. Either the wife comes with her husband, in which case she comes under (b), or the husband is already here, in which case she comes under (a). That seems completely to cover the point.
I should certainly like to see the draft which the hon. Gentleman made to cover tests in the cases of women who are single at the moment but who might later become spouses. It cannot have been easy to draft. I do not want to interrupt the debate, which is guillotined, but if he wishes to show me the draft in the Lobby afterwards I should be extremely interested. I think that it would be wiser, in the present form, to retain the definition of a wife as known by English law.
§ Mr. Turton
I put down an Amendment which has not been called but to which I can refer. This was, in line 9, at end insert:orIt would have covered a great gap which is left in this Clause. It may be said that a visitor is covered by Clause 2 (2, b), which stipulates that he must be in a position to support himself. He has to adduce evidence of means. I believe that that is the wrong way to treat a visitor.
- (c) holds a return ticket to his or her country of origin;
- (d) holds a through ticket to a country to which his or her entry is assured".
Many Commonwealth citizens come her and stay with friends. I hope that they will not be asked to produce evidence of their means or the means of 324 their friends. This is something which I hope my right hon. Friend, who has been extremely helpful at this stage of the Bill, will try to deal with. It is an offence of this Bill that it does not deal with a visitor as well as a visitor is dealt with in colonial legislation. In my Amendment, I merely repeated words which are used either in the Bahaman or Bermudan or West Indian code of legislation, which means that everybody holding a return ticket would be admitted as a right. I think that that would be reasonable.
There is also the person who may hold a through-ticket to another place. A number of Commonwealth citizens come here and then go on to France and Belgium. If we are to join the Common Market, and if we want the Commonwealth to associate with Europe, there will surely be more such cases. It is not sufficient answer to say, "We can leave this to the immigration officer." We are all trying to speak briefly to save time, and I ask my right hon. Friend to think about whether he could amend this provision to include visitors by adopting my form of words or some other form.
I remind him that many Commonwealth visitors would object to having to show that they have enough means to support themselves. How can one tell? It depends on how one is going to live and with whom. I hope that my right hon. Friend will try to meet this point as well as the others which he has so kindly met.
§ Miss Lee
I want to ask for clarification. The Home Secretary said at one point that where someone was returning to this country after two years' absence he could not have automatic re-entrance and that the decision would be left to the discretion of the immigration officers. Later on he said that he is to publish the instructions that he is to give to immigration officers. In other words, he knows of the anxiety on this side of the Committee and, I think, on his own benches that we should have law and not caprice in this matter. Those two statements of his are to a certain extent in conflict. He says at one point that the position will be left to the discretion of the immigration officers and, at another, that he is to issue specific instructions to these officers.
325 We in this country are proud of the fact that there is a very high level of integrity in our public servants. The last thing in the world any of us would like to suggest would be that any immigration officer or public servant could be subject either to bribery, blackmail or anything else. But it is a very serious matter if, after one has been absent from the country for more than two years, one has to arrive back here in an atmosphere of uncertainty.
Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that a former Commonwealth resident who has been away for more than two years might literally pay his fare back to our shores while still being in some doubt as to whether or not the immigration officer will allow him through? It is surely better that such a person should arrive at our shores knowing whether he is to be admitted or not, and whether he is to be admitted or not must surely be a matter of specific regulation and not something left to the discretion of an immigration officer because, as we are all human, one officer might give one judgment, and a colleague of his might make quite a different judgment, in similar cases.
§ Mr. Harold Gurden (Birmingham, Selly Oak)
In reply to a question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. Wise), I understood my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to say that wives would be allowed in without medical check no matter what the medical situation was. That is a rather strange in view of the serious smallpox epidemic we have just experienced. No qualification was made by my right hon. Friend when he replied to the question.
As many of us know, most hon. Members support some control by medical check on immigrants, no matter from whence they come. I have not heard anyone say that people should be allowed in if they are, for instance, contacts in cases of such serious diseases as smallpox. These people may refuse vaccination, and if the situation is as my right hon. Friend said, then such persons refusing vaccination and known to be contacts of such diseases could create a very serious and dangerous situation.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
If a British subject arrives at a British port suffering from smallpox, what does the hon. Gentleman say should be done about him?
§ Mr. Gurden
I should certainly think that a person ought to be vaccinated and to go into quarantine in exactly the same way as many Pakistanis have done—much to their credit, for they did not refuse. That would be a fair and satisfactory way of dealing with it.
§ Mr. Stan Awbery (Bristol, Central)
There is one point which has been brought to my attention and which I should like the Home Secretary to clear up. It is concerned with the refusal of an immigration officer to allow a man to enter this country. Will the refusal be made in the country of origin, or when the man arrives in this country?
§ Mrs. Judith Hart (Lanark)
I was surprised that the Home Secretary did not mention his reason for applying sex discrimination as well as racial discrimination in the Bill. In his Amendment he has stipulated that he will make certain provisions for a wife to seek to enter the country along with her husband. He will have observed an Amendment to the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) and others of my hon. Friends, seeking to change the word "wife" into "spouse". That would have the effect of making the conditions which the Home Secretary has provided in his Amendment apply not only to the wives of husbands, but to the husbands of wives.
That Amendment would clearly be a sensible way to approach the matter if sex discrimination were not being deliberately applied, but we know that sex discrimination is still rampant in our society. There was mention in the House of Commons only last week of an example of our archaic laws, namely, selection for jury service. That showed how much there is still to be done in this matter. However, it is one thing to recognise the failure of Parliament to have removed sex discrimination from its ancient Statutes, and quite another deliberately to introduce sex discrimination into a new Statute.
327 I have cast around to think of possible reasons which the Home Secretary might have had in mind. As a number of his hon. Friends are worried about the employment position if immigrants come into the country, it may be thought by some hon. Members opposite that husbands who come in with wives are more likely to constitute a danger to the employment situation than wives entering with husbands; but wives coming with husbands are as likely to seek employment as would be the case the other way round. The monstrous injustice of this provision can be easily seen.
Let me quote a short example. Let us suppose that there is a West Indian nurse in one of our hospitals, doing an essential job in the National Health Service, and she is engaged to marry someone at home, and that after she has been in this country for two or three years, rendering all the service which is involved in nursing, she goes home on holiday and marries her fiancé and seeks to come back to her job in the hospital bringing her husband with her, the husband not being able at once to secure an employment voucher on his own account. Is the position then to be that the husband will be kept out of the country simply because a job is not at once provided for him, with the result that the wife might give up her essential nursing position, or is the new husband-wife relationship to be split up? What is to happen in such circumstances?
There is a very strong case for the Home Secretary studying this matter again, and I hope that he will do so carefully before Report and bring in a provision to deal with it.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Chapman
I draw the Home Secretary's attention to the fact that the Minister of State gave an absolute assurance on the latter point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart) in a debate on 5th December, when he said:As to people who want to marry, we propose to instruct the immigration officers to allow people in for this purpose when one of the intended spouses is already here"—the word is "spouses" so that there is no sex discrimination there—provided that there is evidence that the parties are personally known to each other.328
§ Mr. Chapman
It happens. There are career wives who come from the Commonwealth to work here, and it would be quite wrong to keep the family artificially separated if a man could not prove immediately that he was coming here for a specific job.
I think that the Home Secretary has made an omission in his Amendment in page 3, line 7, leave out from "security" to end of line 9 and add:(3A) Nothing in this section shall prevent an immigration officer from refusing admission into the United Kingdom in the case of any person in respect of whom a deportation order under Part II of this Act is in force.(3B) In this section "child" includes a stepchild and an adopted child and, in relation to the mother, an illegitimate child; and for the purposes of this section a person shall be deemed not to be ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom at any time when a condition restricting the period for which he may remain there is in force under this section, whether that period has expired or not.Why is it only the mother who can bring in an illegitimate child? An illegitimate child can come here to join its mother, but not its father. In West Indian practice, it often happens that children born out of wedlock, either the children of common law marriages or simply illegitimate children, are brought up by the grandparents for much of their lives, until either of the spouses, the one who happens to be most attached to the children, takes them over and cares for them later in life.
This is an important matter because it would be open for a man over here to want to bring his illegitimate children to this country, the wife he had subsequently married over here being prepared to accept the children which he had had in the West Indies. It would be quite proper for the wife here to say, "I would be glad to bring up your children; I realise that it is your duty to bring them here and I want to make it your family in every sense. Let us 329 have your children over here and bring them up." Why are fathers denied that right when illegitimate children are allowed to come here to join their mothers? I do not understand why that differentiation should be made.
§ Dame Irene Ward
I want merely to add my support to the suggestion of the hon. Lady the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart). I am in some difficulty about this because I understand that the hon. Lady's Amendment has not been selected and that seems almost to pre-ordain that my right hon. Friend will not accept her proposal, which would be regrettable. I do not want to waste the Committee's time, but it would be in the interests of her suggestion for an hon. Member from this side of the Committee to support her proposal.
Another example of the circumstances which might arise would be in the case of a Commonwealth woman doctor working over here. As the National Health Service seems to be about to run into difficulties because of the shortage of doctors, it seems only reasonable for the hon. Lady's proposal to be embodied in the Bill, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will see his way to accepting it.
§ Mr. Renton
My right hon. Friend's Amendment has received the general approval of both sides of the Committee. It is necessary to bear in mind the clear distinction between what my right hon. Friend earlier called the basic statutory minimum which would give an unrestricted right of entry and those other cases of a more twilight character which could be dealt with by the instructions to the immigration officers. I think that every single example which has been put in the course of this interesting discussion is an example of the kind of case which would be let in under the instructions to the immigration officers.
The hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) referred to 330 engaged couples, who are covered by my assurance which he quoted. I think it best that such cases should be covered by instructions to the immigration officers. The circumstances are all somewhat complicated and we do not want to have a great deal of drafting. However, I give the assurance that the instructions will cover that.
There is the interesting case of the career wife who is here. Normally, her husband will be let in, but we have strong reasons for not treating husbands and wives in exactly the same way in the granting of unrestricted right of entry. In the Bill, as in our nationality law, we have assumed that the husband is the head of the family and that the wife acquires his domicile.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)
My hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) and my hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart) do not accept that.
§ Mr. Renton
Strangely enough, in the context of this Bill that may turn out to prove to be of value to the wife and discrimination in her favour.
May I give an example which springs to mind? Suppose that a husband and wife were living in a Commonwealth country, the husband ill-treated the wife, and finally deserted her and failed to maintain her. She would then have to support herself. Suppose that she manages to get a voucher under our voucher scheme and comes here to work. The husband may hear that she is here, that she has a good job, and decide to follow her to batten on to her, Should we say that that husband should have an unrestricted right of entry into this country? We feel that in a case like this it might be better to make it a matter of discretion.
The hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) asked what would happen in the case of a returning resident who had been away for more than two years. The instruction to the immigration officers will enable such a case to be treated appropriately and liberally.
I think that my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) put the hon. Gentleman right about whether wives and children of those both here and accompanying 331 would be admitted. The answer is that under the terms of the Amendment they would be.
The question of illegitimate children is a difficult one, because, as the hon. Gentleman knows, under our law there is no legal relationship between the illegitimate child and the putative father. It is complicated, and therefore perhaps better dealt with by instructions.
I am not sure whether I am in order in replying to the point about return tickets and through tickets raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton, but they will provide no real safeguard if somebody wishes to circumvent the voucher system, because it is possible to get a refund on a return ticket, and a through ticket may be only as far as, say, Amsterdam.
As to visitors, those who prove means have an unrestricted right of entry. It will be our policy to continue to welcome visitors, as I said on an earlier Amendment.
The hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) raised an interesting point about the possibility of people being uncertain about whether they would be allowed to enter, and therefore not wanting to leave their own countries. This anticipates another Amendment on which I think my right hon. Friend may have something sympathetic to say.
§ Miss Lee
The hon. and learned Gentleman said that if someone had been out of the country for more than two years the immigration officer would act under definite rules and instructions. I take it that that eliminates what the Home Secretary said earlier, that in some of these cases this would be left to the discretion of the immigration officer.
§ Mr. Renton
There are two sets of circumstances. One is the statutory minimum which gives an unrestricted right of entry. In relation to this Amendment, it is a person who satisfies the immigration officer that he or she is ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom, or was resident within the past two years. In the other case it is the wife or child under 16 of a person here, or an accompanying wife or child under 16. Once the immigration officer has had proved to 332 him those facts, there is a right of unrestricted entry even by the contents of what will become subsection (4) of this Clause. But in all other cases it will be a question of the immigration officer acting in accordance with instructions from my right hon. Friend. These instructions will some times be very specific and manadatory, but in other cases, of necessity, because the circumstances vary so much, they will leave the immigration officer with something of a discretion. I think that that answers the hon. Lady's point.
I hope that with that explanation these various interesting points which have been raised have now become clear.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give us a further explanation about putative fathers? It may well be that for certain purposes our law does not admit any relationship between the putative father and an illegitimate child. I know what the hon. and learned Gentleman means, and so far I respectfully agree with him. But there is one obligation which our law fastens, and rightly so, on the putative father, and that is the duty to maintain his illegitimate children. What better way is there of maintaining them than allowing him to bring them along?
How in the world can the Government, because of some academic reference to other aspects of the law of fathers and children, say that a father who has taken the trouble and accepted the obligation of looking after his illegitimate children as he ought to do, and brought them here, is himself exhypothesi entitled to enter, but that his children must be sent back?
§ Mr. Renton
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman, who has made an interesting and fair point, will accept it from me that my right hon. Friend wants to deal with this matter in a humane and sensible way. The only point with which we are concerned in the Amendment is whether there should be an unrestricted right of entry, bearing in mind the rather unusual legal position, and we feel that the matter is best dealt with not by giving an unrestricted right of entry—because these are often matters of controversy and the immigration officer may have to make inquiries—but by clear instructions to the immigration officer.
§ Mrs. Slater
Reverting to the point about wives or spouses, a debate like this shows how little we have progressed on the question of the equality of women. Men still regard women almost as chattels.
The Minister said that the term "wife" rather than "spouse" might protect a wife who had come here. But could not it also protect a husband whose wife might want to come here and land herself if he had a good job?
We are looking at it not from that point of view, but from the point of view of a woman in my constituency who is doing a full-time teaching job, and doing it very well. Her husband wants to join her. Should not the immigration officer be able to protect her by asking her whether she wants her husband to join her? Regulations could be made to ensure that a man could not land himself on his wife who was here, and vice versa. We are living in 1962, and we ought to have a modern approach to the problem.
§ Mr. M. Foot
Will the instructions to immigration officers on this point be phrased as follows: "Whom God hath joined together our immigration officers shall keep asunder"?
§ Mr. Renton
I am sure that the Committee will agree that it is our desire to keep husband and wife together so far as possible. I will once more remind the Committee of the terms of the Amendment. We are here giving a wife the unrestricted right of entry to come here with her husband, or to join her husband. I have explained why we do not think that the husband should have an unrestricted right of entry to joint the wile, and why there should be power to refuse him admission. In effect, the hon. Lady is inviting us to consider whether, for the sake of the husband, there should also be power to refuse admission to the wife if the husband has already come here. I will willingly consider anything the hon. Lady wants me to, but she should be clear that that is what she is asking me to do.
§ Mrs. Hart
Does not the hon. and learned Member agree that in normal circumstances our laws are found to be adequate to protect the wife and husband from each other, if the occasion should arise? If husbands are permitted 334 to enter there need be no anxiety about the wife upon whom he wishes to impose himself. The wife has our courts available to her for her protection.
§ Mr. Gurden
I take it that my hon. and learned Friend has forgotten to answer my question about health. No matter how serious a disease one of these persons may have, he or she will be admitted. Is that correct?
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Renton
Yes. The Amendment is quite clear in its terms. I need only say, once more, that once a person covered by the Amendment—in this case the wife—has proved that she is within the terms of the Amendment she has the right to come in, and she cannot be excluded on any of the grounds mentioned elsewhere in the Clause. That is the position. If my hon. Friend wishes to know why we have done that, the answer is that we think it more important to keep families together, when possible, than to exclude the occasional individual on health grounds—who, incidentally, can generally be treated in this country.
§ Mr. Ede
I want to deal with only one point arising from what the hon. and learned Member has said. During our earlier proceedings I mentioned the difficulty arising in the West Indies in connection with men and women living together and being recognised in their community as husband and wife, and then separating. I explained what then happened to the children. When I was in the West Indies presenting a Mace from this House to the Federation—I do not know who will get it now—the Governor-General, who was formerly the Tory Chief Whip in this House, drew my attention to a custom which dealt with this problem.
It goes right back to the days of slavery, and is really the introduction to what is a custom under laws now closely related to British laws, and which has survived although slavery has ended. My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman), who is well acquainted with the customs of the West Indies, will confirm that when the break-up of such a family occurs the general custom is for the grandfather to take the boys 335 which may have been produced by the cohabitation and the grandmother to take the girls.
I hope that where we have to rely on some of these ancient customs—not British in any way; there is no suggestion that they have anything to do with the Christian religion—an effort will be made to reach a reasonably human solution that is understood by the family concerned.
§ Mr. Renton
We are willing to instruct the immigration officers to bear all such things in mind, but there is no question of writing them into the Bill.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
By the time these instructions have dealt with all the various matters so far discussed, and all the others that will be discussed later, how many volumes will the immigration officers have to read?
§ Mr. Renton
What the hon. Member says is an argument in favour of leaving some matters to the discretion of the immigration officers.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Further Amendment made: In page 2, line 21, leave out from beginning to "in" in line 22 and insert:
Without prejudice to subsection (1A) of this section, the power to refuse admission under this section shall not be exercised, except as provided by subsections (3) and (3A)".[Mr. Renton.]
§ Mr. Fletcher
I beg to move, in page 2, line 24, after "officer", to insert:or on appeal from him the Commonwealth Immigrants Appeal Tribunal".
§ The Temporary Chairman
With this Amendment may be discussed the following Amendments and proposed New Clause, which will not be voted upon: In page 2, line 43; the last two Amendments in page 3, line 9, and in page 3, line 44; and the New Clause (Commonwealth Immigrants Appeal Tribunal).
§ Mr. Chapman
On a point of order, Mr. Arbuthnot. In the case of any of the other Amendments being accepted by the Government, would they be put to the Committee? The real difficulty will be if the Government accept one.
§ The Temporary Chairman
The Amendments have not been selected. 336 The Amendment selected is the Amendment which has been moved by the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher).
§ Mr. Fletcher
This Amendment, and the series of Amendments to be discussed with it, have one thing in common. It is that an immigrant should have the right of appeal from a decision made against him by an immigration officer to a tribunal to be set up and to be known as the Commonwealth Immigrants Appeal Tribunal. It is true that some of the Amendments indicate an appeal to some other tribunal, or an appeal of a somewhat different type. But I feel that the common aim is to provide some machinery whereby an intending immigrant from the Commonwealth, who is aggrieved by the decision of an immigration officer, may have his case heard by the appeal tribunal.
We have reached a point in relation to Clause 2 at which, on the assumption that some subsequent Amendment relating to students, either the one in the names of my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself or the one in the name of the Home Secretary is accepted, we shall find that by virtue of the Clause there are three classes of immigrant with the right to come to this country, provided they can satisfy the immigration officer of the conditions under which they are entitled to come. Those conditions are, first, that the person is coming here to take up employment and has a voucher from the Ministry of Labour which identifies him. Secondly, there are those who can show that they can support themselves, and thirdly, there are bona fide students. We shall have a discussion later about whether that term should include part-time students, as we think it should, as well as full-time students.
Any person in those three categories can be rejected on certain overriding grounds by the immigration officer. They are medical grounds, because of a transmissible or infectious disease—we shall have a debate to consider the precise terms—secondly, the possession of a criminal record, and thirdly, because the person concerned is a security risk. Therefore, there is a large area within which a person has the right of entry, but the decisions about whether 337 he can come into this country will depend on the exercise of his discretion by an immigration officer.
We have heard, and we welcome the fact, that detailed instructions will be given to immigration officers. We shall have an opportunity to consider those instructions before the Report stage. But it is apparent from the debates on this and on earlier points that there will be such a variety of circumstances arising that, however explicit and precise may be the code of instructions to the immigration officers, there will still be a large number of cases where decisions must be made by individuals. I am not suggesting that those decisions will ever be arbitrary or capricious. We know that immigration officers are conscientious people who will do their duty to the best of their ability. But there will obviously be a number of cases in which they will make mistakes and in which they will think it their duty to refuse admission.
The liberty of the subject being involved and the inherent rights of British subjects coming from other parts of the Commonwealth, they should not in any event have to take the decision of an immigration officer as final. They should have the right, if his decision is against them, to have their case put before this tribunal. We propose that that right of appeal should obtain where they seek admission because they have employment and a voucher but the immigration officer disputes their identity; if they maintain that they can support themselves but do not satisfy the officer about that, or they claim to be bona fide students and the officer is not satisfied about that.
We can all imagine marginal cases in which there could be room for doubt. In those cases we do not want anyone to have a grievance. We want them to be able to go to a tribunal set up for the purpose. If a man is rejected by a medical inspector on medical grounds, we do not want the decision of one medical inspector to be final. We want the man to be able to go to a medical division of this tribunal to argue his appeal. We all know that the decisions of doctors vary a great deal. It would not be right for an individual to be refused admission merely because one doctor says so and there is no possibility of appeal.
338 The only case in which we do not suggest an appeal is that in which the Secretary of State decides to refuse admission on security grounds. We recognise that in those cases an appeal would not be appropriate. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Come (Mr. S. Silverman) may think differently, but we have an Amendment on the Notice Paper dealing with that part of the Clause which we think will give an individual in those circumstances the security of knowing that his case has been personally considered by the Secretary of State because his written warrant is required.
In the terms of the constitution of the appeal tribunal as set out in the new Clause we do not, of course, insist on the details we have suggested. The purpose of these Amendments is to assert the principle that there should be an appeal. We think it would be of advantage that an appellate tribunal should be constituted roughly in the form suggested in the new Clause. We certainly think it desirable that general grounds of appeal—that is to say, a person's bona fides and grounds for coming here—should be decided by a general division consisting of no fewer than three persons, one of whom should have legal qualifications. We think that there should be a medical division of the tribunal to hear an appeal put forward on medical grounds.
In view of the short time in which we can discuss this Amendment, I do not propose to do more than to observe that in the leading article in The Times of 4th December regarding this Bill under the heading "Deep Unease", to which reference was made by the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), one of the specific Amendments which was cordially commended was this Amendment.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
The purpose of this whole group of Amendments and the new Clause is to establish in one form or another, whichever the Committee may ultimately find the best of the various proposals, some right of appeal. It will be remembered that this question of a right of appeal against more or less arbitrary or discretionary decisions by immigration officers has been the subject of debate before in another connection; I mean in connection with the 339 aliens registration. After a fairly long and gallant resistance over many years by the Home Office, we succeeded in breaking in in one small quarter by giving a right of appeal to an alien resident here against deportation. It is a limited right. It is an advisory right. At any rate, to this small extent the principle is conceded in the case of aliens. It is not conceded anywhere in the Bill in the case of British subjects. This is an anomaly which ought to be corrected.
I shall bear in mind what my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) said about the shortness of time. I do not want to make a long speech, but the more our discussions proceed the more obvious it becomes that there will be the most haphazard and chaotic series of decisions unless there is some other authority to whom an appeal can be made against decisions of immigration officers.
One of our troubles in all of these discussions is that we never have the same people on the Government Front Bench to argue with. When the Attorney-General is here, the Home Secretary is absent. When the Home Secretary is here, the Attorney-General is absent. This would not matter in the least if only they took some trouble behind the Chair or in some other place to co-ordinate their views on the Bill, but they do not. We receive different answers on quite important matters. For instance, when in an earlier debate I challenged the Attorney-General saying what an immigration officer had a right to do and suggested that the Clause as drafted——
§ Mr. Silverman
If you will indulge me sufficiently to hear the end of my sentence, Mr. Arbuthnot, you will see the relevance of what I am saying. The point I am now on is the question of a right of appeal against a decision of an immigration officer. It is very important to know whether the immigration officer in making his decision has an unfettered discretion of his own or whether he is limited by the instructions which the Home Secretary says he will give him. 340 The point I am making is that, whereas the Home Secretary told me that the immigration officer would have no discretion and that his decision would have to be in accordance with the instructions the Home Secretary gave him, less than ten minutes ago the Minister of State told me how advisable it was to leave something to the discretion of the immigration officer so that the list of instructions would not run into too many volumes and he would have some hope of keeping in touch with what the Home Office desired him to do.
This is one of our difficulties, because the Committee may very well be of opinion that there ought to be a right of appeal if the decision is an arbitrary—that is to say, a discretionary—decision by the immigration officer, whereas there would be little for any appeal tribunal to do if the immigration officer's decision was circumscribed by instructions given him by the Home Office. All that the immigration officer would have to show then would be that his decision was in accordance with those instructions, whereas if he were exercising his discretion he would have to show a much more arbitrable point, namely, that his decision was reasonable in all the circumstances and within the spirit of the legislation.
Therefore, it is a great embarrassment to the Committee that we do not know at this moment whether the immigration officer is limited or unlimited, whether he has a discretion or whether he has no discretion. In any event, it would be safer for the Committe to accept the principle that there should be some kind of third party judgment, particularly as there are so many different things which the immigration officer may have to take into account, as they may conflict with one another, and as it may be a very difficult exercise of judgment to know whether he is to follow one of the instructions, whether he is to follow another of the instructions, or whether he is to do what he himself thinks right. In these circumstances, there should be some appeal.
I should have preferred a simple, direct appeal to a high court judge, appealable if necessary to the Court of Appeal. That would be much better than to set up some elaborate, special tribunal that would need to have a lot of regulations, 341 orders and rules, unless it is to be merely rough and ready decisions like the immigration officer's own decisions. I should prefer, therefore, an appeal to a judge of the High Court, but I would accept any kind of appeal rather than no appeal at all, and I hope that the Government will accept at least the principle of the Amendment.
§ Mr. Arthur Holt (Bolton, West)
I agree with the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) that there should be some appeal. I leave the form of the appeal to my legal colleagues. I would ask the Government to look again at this because my own experience of the Home Office in dealing with aliens is that the Home Office is extremely reasonable and usually very expeditious in the way it deals with them. Immigrants from the Commonwealth are in far greater numbers, and I should have thought that the Home Office for its own protection, in order not to get bogged down with a lot of questions by Members of Parliament as to why so and so has not been allowed to come in or not and as to why a certain decision has been made by an immigrant officer, would have welcomed some fairly simple but separate tribunal to which complaints of this nature could be sent.
I hope, therefore, that the Minister will look at this very reasonable request again, which I think is both in the interests of the immigrants and in the interests of the immigration officers, who must sometimes have very difficult decisions to make. If they felt that they ought to stand on the letter of their instructions when as human beings they would perhaps like to allow a person to come in, they would know that this person had the right of appeal to a tribunal and they could pass the responsibility on to it. The situation would then be dealt with in the human way in which a few minutes ago the Home Secretary said he wished to deal with these people. I hope, therefore, that the Attorney-General will be able to say something rather more favourable to us on this matter.
§ Miss Lee
If any Member of the Government Front Bench had been able to tell the Committee specifically that instructions given to the immigration officers would be definite, clear, and the 342 same for every person, the Government would have a case for rejecting machinery, however simple, that gave a right of appeal.
I agree that contrary replies have been given by the Government, but I do not think that any hon. Member or, for that matter, any Minister, would deny that there will be circumstances in which a Commonwealth citizen's fate will be decided by the judgment of one immigration officer. If discretion is to be exercised, there cannot possibly be any case at all against the suggestion in the Amendment that there should be a right of appeal.
The need for appeal in the case of disease, criminal record or poverty may arise from some misunderstanding or confusion, and the immigration officer may not have been properly seized of the facts, but another type of case altogether arises when the immigration officer believes that a Commonwealth citizen is a bad security risk. I agree that the appeal machinery in such a case may have to be different from that for other cases, but I believe that in all circumstances where it is a matter of discretion, it is absolutely essential that there should be a right of appeal.
We all know perfectly well that what are called security risks very often involve our whole attitude to life; issues on which we feel very passionately. As Tom Paine said, looked at from one angle a man may be regarded as a great patriot while, from another angle, he may be looked on as a scoundrel. I was very proud when, at one time, this country held high the banner of the right of asylum, but I have recently been ashamed by some of the judgments given. I will not speak at any length about them, but they have related to Portuguese friends and others. I ask the Committee to insist that where, as the Government have admitted, it will be a matter of private judgment, private caprice or the discretion of one fallible human being, some machinery should be set up to give the right of appeal.
§ Mr. Dingle Foot (Ipswich)
Everyone will agree that we are dealing here with one of the most important aspects of the Bill. On any view, this is an extreme case of putting the individual at the absolute mercy of the official, without 343 redress and without appeal. The power that is being given to the immigration officer is a tremendous power. The immigration officer takes the decision as to whether a man can come here and make his livelihood—maybe, join his friends and family here—or whether he is to be, it may be for ever, kept out. That is to say, that man's whole future and livelihood may depend on the decision of an official who gives no reasons and who is not accountable to anyone.
We on this side, therefore, certainly support the principle of an appeal tribunal. Personally, I am rather disposed to agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) that it would be simpler just to have an appeal to a High Court judge, but we are not here concerned with a particular form of tribunal but with whether there should be any appeal at all against administrative discretion.
We are taking a group of Amendments together, Mr. Arbuthnot, and, if I may, I want to deal with two of them that deal not so much with the right of appeal but with the right to be heard at all. They are the Amendments standing in the names of myself and some of my hon. Friends, in page 3, line 9. The first is directed in particular to the matter to which my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) has just referred.
Clause 2 (3, c) provides that a man may be refused admission:… if his admission would, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, be contrary to the interests of national security …Even if it be thought that this is not an appropriate matter for an appeal, we are suggesting that, at any rate, a man in those circumstances has a right to be heard, and it is extremely important that he should have some indications of the reasons on which it is proposed to arrive at the decision.
We are here in the realm of security, a realm with which some of us were familiar in war time. We all know that the Secretary of State—which means, of course, an officer in his Department—must in such cases act on a report that is laid before him; a report, perhaps, from all kinds of sources. It is quite possible that the report may be misinformed. It sometimes happens that it 344 is wrong. It may completely misrepresent the activities of the individual concerned.
He will have no means of putting the matter right under the procedure of the Bill because he can never know what is in the dossier or what it is that is alleged against him. That is why my hon. Friends and I propose that, in any such case where it is proposed to operate this provision and exclude the man on grounds of national security, he should be notified and the grounds specified on which the Secretary of State has decided that… his admission … would … be contrary to the interests of national security …Surely that is not an unreasonable demand in such a case? We are simply asking the Government to apply the ordinary concepts of natural justice; audi alterem partem—hear the other party. Surely any man is entitled to be heard in his own defence. That is why the Amendment was tabled.
I wish also to refer to the Amendment in the names of myself and several of my hon. Friends which is designed to give a man who is to be excluded from entering this country an opportunity of being heard. We propose that, in any case where an objection is taken to the decision, the man concerned shall have the opportunity of making representations to the Secretary of State and that the Secretary of State shall then appoint someone—not a police officer or an employee of a Government Department but an independent person—to interview the man concerned, hear what he has to say and report back to the Secretary of State.
This particular piece of machinery has most respectable antecedents, for I have lifted it direct from the legislation of a former Conservative Government. In the early months of 1939 there was a good deal of alarm in this country about the activities of various members of the Irish Republican Army. There were explosions at depots, railway stations and in other public places and the Government decided—rightly or wrongly—that they had to legislate. They also assumed at that time an arbitrary power for exclusion. They proposed to take the power, only temporarily, to exclude anyone of Irish origin or with Irish connections 345 and send him back to what was them the Irish Free State and to do so without and kind of judicial process. In those days many Opposition hon. Members felt that that should not be left to the arbitrary whim of a Government official, and we said that there should be some kind of appeal—just as is being said today.
The then Government did not entirely meet what we suggested. Nevertheless, they proposed the procedure which is set out in this Clause, and they went some way to meet the arguments which we were then putting forward. I believe that the Government of today should at least show themselves equally as enlightened as did that Chamberlain Government of 1939.
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)
I shall be very interested, for I am waiting anxiously, to hear what the Attorney-General has to say about the Amendment. On Second Reading, I asked the Home Secretary whether or not there would be any right of appeal by an immigrant who had either been refused entry or had been told that his entry was subject to conditions. The Home Secretary, in his inimitable style, assured me that the matter would be carefully borne in mind, and I am now interested to see whether that process has produced any tangible results.
I consider that the immigration officer is being given a very wide discretion indeed, and that it is somewhat unfair to leave him with the completely unfettered decision as to whether or not an immigrant should be allowed to come into this country. I wish to refresh the memory of the Committee about some of the regulations which we had during the war.
It is true that the circumstances in which an alien had an order made against him under Regulation 18B of the 1939 Defence Regulations are not strictly in pari materia with the position of an immigrant wishing to enter the country today, but the provisions then give an indication of the sort of legal rights we were prepared at the height of the war to accord to persons who were aliens and suspected enemies of this country.
§ Mr. Thorpe
As the hon. Member says, some were British subjects. Many were not, and it is even more remarkable, on that ground, that we should have made the arrangements we did.
I know a little about what was done. The advisory committees had as their chairmen men of long standing in the law. They were usually silks. My father was one of them. Lord Morris of Borth-y-Gest—he, of course, is now a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary—was another. By and large, the chairmen of the committees were people of at least 15 to 20 years' standing at the Bar, and for the most part they were silks.
Pursuant to subsection (3) of Regulation 18B, the Secretary of State could set up one or more advisory committees. The purpose of the committees was to hear appeals by any person who was either dissatisfied with the making of an order against him or with any conditions relating to such order. He was able to make representations before the committee. It is a tribute to the libertarian traditions of the House that an aggrieved person was to be provided in writing with the reasons which had prompted the Secretary of State to make the order. Nat only that. Once a month the Secretary of State had to report to the House the number of representations which had been made to him by the advisory committees and the number of cases in which he had not felt able to follow the advice.
Putting it shortly, I suggest that it is an amazing tribute to the principles of natural justice that, during the height of the war, this country was prepared to go into the individual case of any person against whom an order was made under Regulation 18B. It was very remarkable that, day in and day out, the committees used to sit and hear cases at that time.
In this Bill we are not dealing with wartime conditions. We are dealing with these matters in times of peace. We are not even dealing with aliens. [Interruption.] If the Labour Front Bench will keep quiet, perhaps I shall have more success in addressing my remarks to the Attorney-General. We are dealing with citizens of the British Commonwelath who wish to come to this country, many of them seeking to do so in order to find work, 347 being unable to find work in their country of origin. Very often, they come from a country for which we have been responsible for 200 or 300 years. What the Government will say, if they do not accept this Amendment, is that those people shall have no right of appeal at all if they are refused entry at the gates of this country.
By the Bill and by giving this power to immigration officers we are taking powers which no other European colonial Power has sought to arrogate to itself. The Portuguese do not ask for this right to exclude, nor do the French, the Belgians or the Dutch. This is a radical departure from the colonial practice, at any rate, of European Powers. Is it unreasonable to ask the Government to accord the same legal rights in time of peace to British subjects and members of the Commonwealth as were accorded at the height of the war to persons who were aliens under orders made under 18B the Emergency regulations?
§ Mr. Weitzman
I wish to say a few words in support of the Amendment. By this Bill we are taking away the free right of entry of a British citizen into the Mother Country. In those circumstances, it surely behoves us to scrutinise the action which is taken as much as possible to see that no mistake is made.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) said that the instructions to immigration officers were not definite and precise and suggested that if they were definite and precise matters might be different. We know perfectly well that the immigration officer must exercise his discretion in many cases in coming to a decision. There are bound to be many differences in the various cases which come before him. Surely it is an elementary principle that justice should not only be done but should appear to be done. What, then, is the objection to an appeal tribunal of some kind? Unless the Government put forward some overriding reason which destroys the idea of a right of appeal, I cannot see that objection can be made to this suggestion.
I do not care in what way the appeal tribunal plays its part. The appeal may 348 be to a High Court judge or it may be in the way suggested in the Amendment which we are considering or in the way suggested by the first Amendment in the name of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. D. Foot) in page 3, line 9. As I say, unless the Government put forward an overriding reason to the contrary, there should be some right of appeal.
I wish to say something in support of what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich said about his second Amendment in page 3, line 9. I regard this as a serious matter. As he said, under subsection (3, c) admission may be refused to an immigrant if his admission would becontrary to the interests of national security".As he rightly pointed out, it is a real hardship for an individual not to know the grounds on which admission has been refused and not to be able to put forward a case to refute something which may be quite wrong, misleading and untruthful. It is, therefore, suggested by the Amendment that a person should have the right to make representations so that the decision can be reviewed by the Secretary of State and perhaps altered in some way. This is a matter of great importance, and I hope that we shall have a favourable reply from the Government to it.
§ Mr. Roderic Bowen (Cardigan)
I support the plea for some form of review of the decision of an immigration officer in cases of this kind. I should have thought that immigration officers generally would welcome a check on the correctness or otherwise of their decisions in what might well be complicated and difficult cases. I do not wish to go through all of the arguments advanced in support of some form of review of these cases by a court or tribunal. I wish to make only one additional point.
It seems to me that there is a remarkable distinction between the machinery provided for keeping a Commonwealth citizen out of this country and the machinery provided under the Bill for deporting Commonwealth citizens from this country. I can see no logical reason for that distinction.
349 9.15 p.m.
In Part II of the Bill, one sees that a person who is likely to become the subject matter of a recommendation for deportation is given substantial rights, particularly under Clause 8. Not only is the final decision to be made by a court, but before that decision is given, a procedure has to be followed which gives him substantial rights in relation to that matter.
If that degree of protection—which, in my view, is rightly given—is extended to a person before a court is to determine whether a deportation order is to be made in respect of him, why should there not be substantially similar rights in the case of a person who is arbitrarily—at least, on the decision of one executive officer—excluded from entry to the country? It seems to me utterly illogical that one should rightly go to the extent that we do in Part II of the Bill to protect Commonwealth citizens in respect of deportation orders but give them no similar protection concerning the decision of immigration officers.
It may be said that there could be a large number of frivolous appeals and that the whole of the machinery would be blocked. It should be relatively easy to devise a system whereby frivolous appeals could be discouraged. It might well be that a person who wished to appeal would be required to have leave to appeal. There could be an initial sifting out on the question of whether there was any point of merit to be considered by the appropriate tribunal or court.
We are taking a grave step if we leave this important decision to the immigration officer with no conceivable possibility of review. It would be far better if we provided machinery whereby there should be a safeguard against possible grave miscarriage of justice unwittingly caused by an immigration officer. One of the matters which he has to determine is whether there is reason to believe that an immigrant has been convicted in any country of any crime. There could easily he a genuine misunderstanding or mistake by an immigration officer in that regard. Is a person who is excluded on that basis to have no right to have his position reviewed? To my mind, it is very much in the interests of immigration officers that an appeal tribunal should be provided.
§ Sir B. Janner
Naturally, I support what has been said on the Clause. I am anxious not to keep the Committee long, but I ask the Attorney-General to realise that this is a very unusual Measure to those living in the countries concerned. The right hon. Gentleman has to take into account that people who will be affected by the Bill are men and women who hitherto have considered that they had inherent rights as British subjects to come to this country and to go when they pleased. Therefore, he should take every possible precaution to ensure that when restrictive measures are placed upon their entry, the onus of proof that they are not desirable people should be upon us and not upon them.
The Attorney-General has admitted openly that an immigration officer, subject to his being satisfied and according to his opinion that certain matters have arisen, may of his own accord tell an individual who always thought he had a right of entry, "You have no right to come here." I do not say that immigration officers are not fair. I believe they are and that in many cases they refer to the Home Office for advice. But in some cases they do not. They consider that their own ability to weigh the position is sufficient to enable them to make a decision.
§ Mr. A. P. Costain (Folkestone and Hythe)
I am privileged to have immigration officers in my constituency. I have watched them work. Can the hon. Member give any example where an immigration officer has turned an application down without reference to his superior or to the Home Office?
§ Sir B. Janner
I do not think that the Attorney-General or the Home Office would deny that in a large number of cases immigration officers, in whom they rightly have confidence, have turned away people on their own accord when they have attempted to come into the country. One knows of cases where an immigration officer has turned a person away even after he has received a visa to enter the country.
The Bill provides that an individual—I agree with the best intentions—has the power to turn away a person who hitherto has been a British citizen at his own discretion and on the basis of certain particulars provided to him. Is 351 it not reasonable that the person who is refused entry should have someone to turn to? If he is turned away he has to go back to the country from which he came. He cannot demand that somebody else should decide his case, no matter how decent a fellow he may be or that he knows that he has complied with the regulations. All we ask is that such a person should not be turned away without the right to tell someone, "I have been misunderstood. The matter alleged against me is not correct". As things stand he may not even know what is alleged against him. The Attorney-General ought to indicate that he is prepared to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell
One has a good deal of sympathy with the hon. Member's point of view, but this is a question of practicability. Has he any knowledge of other countries where such an appeal procedure from the immigration officer is allowed?
§ Sir B. Janner
A list has already been given in the course of the debate of countries where nothing of this nature prevails. I cannot tell the hon. Member off-hand whether there are any where it does prevail, but in view of our record in our judicial system and in the preservation of human rights, we should not have to turn for examples to other countries. If anything, we should lead other countries in these matters as we have done in the past.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I may be mistaken, but I think that in the United States, where sometimes there is a right to withdraw a United States citizen's passport, there is a right of appeal to a tribunal.
§ Sir B. Janner
Does anyone imagine that when the Bill becomes an Act persons will not be told, in the countries affected, that certain restrictions have been put on immigration into this country? Does anyone believe that a man setting out thousands of miles to this country will not be told about these things and about the grounds on which he may be refused admission? Surely the Secretary of State will ask authorities of these countries what they intend to do about these provisions. I am certain that they will make available full explanations of the Bill. If a man, 352 knowing what the position is, comes here, do not the Government think, prima facie at least, that that man believes he is entitled to come into this country in spite of the restrictions?
Nevertheless, the Government say that the immigration officer can tell a man who has come all that way, "You will not be admitted." Such cases may be exceptional, but the Government should not deny the persons involved the right of appeal to some tribunal on the ground that "I have not been justly dealt with and I demand an inquiry so that I may prove my case." In present conditions, when we are all trying to establish human rights, it is a gross attack on the rights of the individual not to be allowed the right to have his case properly heard.
§ The Attorney-General
The hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Sir B. Janner) chided me for having sat for so long without saying anything about the Amendment. Having listened to so many speeches it is right that I should now reply, particularly as other Amendments fall for consideration on this Clause in the time left for its disposal.
I recognise that the question raised by the Amendment is of major importance. I can say at once that it is one to which serious consideration was given before the Bill was ever printed. In approaching this question, I want first to put on one side one or two matters, raised during the debate, which are not really relevant to what we are considering. We are concerned here with an appeal from a decision of an immigration officer made at the port of entry about someone seeking to enter the country. That is very different from a decision made about a person who is already within the country.
The hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) treated us to an interesting disquisition, reminiscent as it was, on Regulation 18B. There, of course, we had machinery for dealing with aliens in war time. In passing, may I say, in protection of the Labour Front Bench and of the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), that I do not think the hon. Gentleman was fair in reproving that Front Bench for talking, because I thought that they were singularly quiet. Despite his fears, I could hear every word he said, and I understood him to 353 emphasise what I already knew—that the Bill deals with Commonwealth citizens. We must put on one side the 18B cases and indeed the cases referred to by the hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Mr. D. Foot) when he spoke of the Prevention of Violence (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1939. That, again, was dealing with questions which fell to be decided in relation to persons already in this country, and there is no parallel or lesson to be drawn from that in relation to what could happen or what should be done in connection with persons seeking to enter the country.
The real question is whether there should be an appeal from the decision of an immigration officer to an independent tribunal. There are differences among the various Amendments but, apart from those in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Ipswich, they all raise the question of whether there should be an appeal to an independent tribunal or court. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) says, as his Amendment does, that the appeal should go straight to the judges, with a right of appeal to the Court of Appeal. I am sure that that is the question with which the Committee would like me to deal instead of spending time dissecting the differences among the Amendments.
§ The Attorney-General
I am glad to have the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) with me on this occasion.
This is a question of principle which to any lawyer, on whichever side of the Committee he sits, has considerable attractions, for more than one reason but primarily because our approach to all questions of the exercise of judgment is that of considering the ventilation of the issues before some kind of independent tribunal. I spent much time considering this, but I do not think that that is a practical proposal in this instance.
There are two appellate channels in this country and they do not blend. One is the appeal machinery to a tribunal, or court and the other is the appeal machinery to the House of Commons and the Ministers who are 354 responsible. The present procedure for dealing with aliens entering the country—I am not talking about those who are resident—is that the immigration officer makes the decision. In case of doubt or difficulty, he no doubt refers it to his superiors, and they in turn can quickly refer it to the Home Office and, believe it or not, I am reliably assured by my right hon. Friends that a very prompt answer to these inquiries is given.
Using that channel of referring to higher authority if there is a case of doubt and difficulty, it is astonishing how speedily the matter is ventilated and raised in the House of Commons with the Home Secretary, who answers at this Box. That is one system and the question is not whether the decision should be left just to the immigration officer without any possibility of review, but whether this is the best system to be adopted for use in this problem.
All lawyers will agree that one thing is inevitable. It is that an appellate system to a tribunal is bound to involve delay. After all, anyone who is refused admission will have nothing to lose by seeking to appeal one way or the other. If there is an appellate system, delay is bound to occur. In many cases admission may be refused not on account of any personal idiosyncrasies of the individual, but because sufficient numbers have already been admitted to the country for that particular time.
That may well be the case, and if so, there is no question at issue except what are the numbers? Having considered this very carefully, inclined as I was originally to the view that we should have some system of appeals, which appeals to lawyers, bearing in mind the delays which would be involved and the practical difficulties that would follow on the delays—I will enlarge on that in a moment—I believe that it is better not to design machinery such as has been suggested, but to leave it as it is left in the case of aliens, for matters to be raised in the House of Commons.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Although the right hon. and learned Gentleman has not dealt with this, I am sure he realises the fundamental difference between the two processes he described. In the one case there is an individual hearing before a 355 tribunal which is independent—thirdparty judgment in the true sense. The procedure which he prefers cannot begin to be set in motion unless some Member of the House of Commons happens to hear about it and raises it, and when it is raised it is done so in an atmosphere and on a footing where even the fate of the Government may be involved, and the decision is not according to the merits of the individual case, but according to the interests of the Government or the Opposition as the case may be.
§ The Attorney-General
I agree that there is something in which the hon. Gentleman says, but I do not go the whole way with him, for this reason. The approach I put is the approach which operates now. Immigration officers will not be prejudiced against Commonwealth citizens who seek to enter this country.
§ The Attorney-General
If the hon. Gentleman had listened to the earlier debate, he would have heard it made clear that members of the Commonwealth will be welcomed as visitors to this country.
The purpose of the Bill is to have some control over immigration. The question at issue is the choice of method by which a decision of an immigration officer can best be reviewed. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne thinks, and I have no doubt many hon. Members agree with him, that the best way of doing it is to have a tribunal of the kind he advocates, or access to the courts. I think that many others will think that the best way is by the application of the existing system which applies in relation to entry by aliens. I do not go with the hon. Gentleman in saying that no one can raise it; that it cannot be raised with the Home Office unless it is brought to the notice of some hon. Member, because these Commonwealth citizens have their representatives in this country.
May I come to what I think is an important factor in this, and that is the practical difficulty in relation to an appeal. An appeal must inevitably take some time to come on. One would hope that if we had this system the delay 356 would not be very long, but the percentage of appeals from those who were refused admission would be likely to be large because they would have nothing to lose. One thing that is surely out of the question is detention at the ports of entry of the persons who are seeking entry and are refused it pending the hearing of the appeal. The detention rooms there are small and quite unsuitable for lengthy detention. Police cells are no better, and to use our overcrowded prisons for this purpose is un thinkable. There would be great pressure to allow the would-be immigrant to proceed to his intended destination and be at liberty pending the outcome of his appeal.
The choice lies between the appellate tribunal and what can be a very prompt reference to the Home Secretary and, as a last resort, a very prompt raising of the matter in the House. At any rate there can be a reference to the Home Secretary, either by the immigrant or by the immigration officer, or his superiors in oases of difficulty, and the machinery can work very quickly indeed. I think that it will prove far more satisfactory than the appellate tribunal machinery, Which must involve detention of the would-be immigrant at some place in this country, pending the hearing of his appeal. I do not think that that is desirable, and it is on that ground that I come down in favour of applying the procedure which is applied to the entry of aliens, which I understand has worked satisfactorily so far and Which is quite distinct from the procedure for dealing with those who are resident in the country.
I do not want to speak any longer on this matter. I can assure the Committee that we have given it the most careful consideration. The case for the tribunal has been excellently put. The case for the non-tribunal may not have been put so well, but there is force and substance in it. If we are to have a system of reference to an independent person, such as was suggested by the hon. and learned Member for Ipswich we again have delay, coupled with detention which is the one thing that must be avoided.
§ Mr. George Brown (Belper)
One of our objections to the guillotine procedure is that we are all conscious of the 357 fact that we are working against time and cannot give to issues of tremendous importance the attention that they deserve. Every hon. Member who has spoken tonight on an issue of tremendous importance to the libently of the individual has said that he is conscious that he must not speak for very long. Since we shall have coming before us issues which concern students, the health of immigrants, the security of the State, and control over numbers, and since all these matters have to be dealt with before we reach the next stage of the Guillotine, we must all hurry on.
The Attorney-General is very lucky that we are hurrying on. I have never heard anybody put a case for denying the individual the protection that we all thought he had under our system as the right hon. and learned Gentleman has just put it. As I understood him, he said that if we give individuals the right to appeal, so many will do so that we shall not be able to deal with them administratively, and that it is far better to deny them the right of appeal. I could not see anything else in his argument.
He said that the detention rooms at the points of entry are so small that we could not handle detained immigrants. We can always build bigger detention rooms. Surely we can do something to deal with the problem. Does the Attorney-General, in his legal capacity, really believe that the right answer, in relation to the right of a man to be properly judged, is to ask whether there is anywhere to put him while he is waiting to be judged? Does the Attorney-General mean that? I know that he said it, but I cannot believe that he meant it.
At the end of his speech he said that, as against the appellate system, he preferred to rely upon the right of the immigration officer or of the immigrant to appeal to the Home Secretary.
Where is the right of an immigrant to appeal to the Home Secretary? Where does the immigrant get that right of appeal? I take it that the Attorney-General is listening to me. In subsection (2) of this Clause the right goes with the immigration officer. It is he who decides. I repeat, where does the immigrant get the right to appeal to the Home Secretary? Since the detention 358 rooms are so small, where does he stay while he is exercising that right? With very great respect, may I say that the Attorney-General was saying something which is not provided for in the Bill. He just introduced a sentence of his own.
The immigrant has no right of appeal, and it is a right of appeal that we are here seeking to introduce. It is a right of appeal that the Attorney-General is denying. Why, therefore, does the right hon. and learned Gentleman introduce something which he must know to be quite untrue, and outwith the Bill and the position of the immigrant? If one can be the Attorney-General of this great country on the basis of inventing law like that, when we are making law, there ought to be a very great future for some of us. One could write it as one goes along.
There is no right of appeal for the immigrant to the Home Secretary. The Attorney-General knows it and does not need me to point it out to him. The purpose of these Amendments is to provide some form of appeal. Although we have so little time to discuss this, everyone wishes to hurry on—that is a by-product of the imposition of the guillotine Motion on this important issue—I hope that some hon. Members opposite will feel rather shocked that people are to be turned away by immigration officers without it being possible to refer the matter to anyone else. An immigration officer may refer it, but will he? Do they? The answer is that they do not and they will not. This will be done purely as an administrative operation and there will be no appeal to anybody at all.
§ Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth (Hendon, South)
Having been an Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, may I assure the right hon. Gentleman that an Under-Secretary of State may expect a telephone call at almost any hour of the day or night asking for advice on these matters?
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Will my right hon. Friend also remember that the procedure in the case of aliens arises directly from the fact that under the law relating to aliens an immigration officer, as agent 359 of the Home Secretary, exercises the Home Secretary's discretion? That is not the case under the provisions of this Bill.
§ Mr. Brown
I listened to the Attorney-General trying to deal with the question of 18B internees. I have never heard anyone get an argument so wrong. The point of my hon, Friends was that if we provided for an appeal in the 18B cases, in those circumstances for such people at that time, what case is there for not making a similar provision for those people who are our fellow-citizens, in these circumstances at this time? If we could provide it for people detained under 18B, people considered to be of such a kind and with such an outlook that we could not allow them to be free, at a time of grave danger to the nation, what case is there for not giving a right of appeal to our fellow Commonwealth citizens at a time when we are not in danger and they are not threatening us with danger?
I say again to the Attorney-General, with respect, what case is there? The right hon. and learned Gentleman completely misconceived the point which was being put to him. We provided such a right in the case of the 18B cases, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman is refusing to provide it now. All the pettifogging, little administrative points upon which he has relied, such as the size of the detention rooms, must have applied on that earlier occasion. But we did it as a matter of principle then, because we thought that the reputation of our country required us to do so. To that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has given no answer at all.
Another thing he said which staggered me, as I am not a lawyer, was that he thought it was much better to get a prompt answer from the administrative authority than to have an appellate system. I repeat that I am not a lawyer. This was a distinguished lawyer speaking. I repeat his proposition that it is much better to have a prompt answer given by the administrative authority than to have an appellate system. He went on to say that if we had an appellate system delays would be bound to occur. He must be the first distinguished lawyer charged with defending our legal system to advance the principle that if 360 we have an appellate system we shall have delays and it is better to have simple decisions made by administrative authority.
I can think of a number of systems of government which will be grateful to the Attorney-General for those words. This, I should think, would appear very quickly in any Communist or fascist book about the kind of system to have.
§ Mr. Brown
In Angola. I presume that the Attorney-General meant it. I presume that he had considered it. He told us that he had spent many days considering this. He read from an obviously well prepared manuscript. On behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends, I must say that we would never have expected to have heard from the Attorney-General, whoever he was, at any time that it was better to have a prompt administrative decision than to run the risk of delay by having an appellate system.
Like everyone else in the Committee, I must not go on for too long. Therefore, the issue is not examined. Therefore, there is no contribution from hon. Members opposite. Therefore, we are making a mockery of the whole business of democratic decision and discussion. Here we are dealing with the right of men and women not to be finally judged unless they have been heard. We have had a legal argument from the Attorney-General which no lawyer opposite would defend. We cannot go on with the argument because there are other things we wish to discuss. I share the disgust and unhappiness which the hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Crowder), the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) and others feel about that argument. There is not one of them who in their ordinary way of business would defend the case put by the Attorney-General.
It is a shameful thing that Commonwealth fellow citizens should suffer for a legal dictum offered here which could not stand up by reference to anything this country has done in the proud centuries that lie behind us. We have always said that the right of the individual is more important than the convenience of the administrative authority. Tonight the 361 Attorney-General has reversed that. He has said that the convenience of the Executive stands out and the rights of the individual must be subservient to it. This is a very sad night for this House and for the country. I hope that some hon. Members opposite will have the grace to vote with us on this Amendment.
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)
I wonder if at this eleventh hour the Attorney-General can be persuaded to change his mind. This is an outrageous refusal of an elementary right. This Bill is a mean Bill in spirit, in mind and in heart. The Amendment affords a chance to put an element of justice into it. The learned Attorney-General has preferred on this occasion to rely upon the procedure of a chance reference to the House of Commons, through channels which are by no means clear, of a complaint by a rejected immigrant. The procedure of review has now become a part of the whole pattern of our administration of justice. Almost every encroachment of a property right gives rise to a right of appeal to some tribunal. The principle justifying the procedure is clear. It is because of the possibility of error, the possibility of human fallibility which arises in the case of every person exercising authority, be it administrative or otherwise.
By the Bill we are depriving the citizens of the Commonwealth of a right of entry to this country which they have enjoyed for centuries. It has shocked me to see the casual way in which the
§ learned Attorney-General has so willingly cast aside this right which his forebears have defended at the Dispatch Box and in the courts through the centuries. This is a chance to give back an elementary right of appeal. I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman in the last moments of this debate to do honour to his office and its traditions and to do something about these reasonable Amendments.
§ Mr. Wade
I endorse that plea. I think I can state my argument in two or three sentences. The Attorney-General has submitted to the Committee that we have to make a choice between an administrative decision and an appeal to a tribunal. In practice that is not so. To use the words contained in the Amendment to page 3, line 44:Where any person is dissatisfied with any decision of the immigration officerthe immigration officer will in the ordinary case no doubt refer the matter to the Home Office. Only in the last resort, when the Home Office decision is unfavourable and the immigrant feels that he has been unjustly or unfairly treated or that there has been a mistake, will he wish to appeal to an independent tribunal. Our plea is that there should be some method of appealing in the last resort.
§ Question put, That those words be there inserted:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 171, Noes 242.365
|Division No. 65.]||AYES||[9.58 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)|
|Ainsley, William||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Halt, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Deer, George||Hamilton, William (West Fife)|
|Awbery, Stan||Delargy, Hugh||Hannan, William|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Dempsey, James||Hart, Mrs. Judith|
|Beaney, Alan||Diamond, John||Hayman, F. H.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Dodds, Norman||Healey, Denis|
|Bence, Cyril||Ede, Rt. Hon. C.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis)|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Edelman, Maurice||Herbison, Mitt Margaret|
|Benson, Sir George||Edwards, Rt Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Hewitson, Capt. M.|
|Blyton, William||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Hill, J. (Midlothian)|
|Boardman, H.||Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Hilton, A. V.|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics. S.W.)||Evans, Albert||Holman, Percy|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Fernyhough, E.||Holt, Arthur|
|Bowles, Frank||Finch, Harold||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)|
|Boyden, James||Fletcher, Eric||Hoy, James H.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Forman, J. C.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Hunter, A. E.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Galpern, Sir Myer||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Cattle, Mrs. Barbara||George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Crmrthn)||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)|
|Chapman, Donald||Ginsburg, David||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)|
|Cliffe, Michael||Gourlay, Harry||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Grey, Charles||Janner, Sir Barnett|
|Darling, George||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Jeger, George|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.||Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)|
|Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Owen, Will||Steele, Thomas|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Padley, W. E.||Stonehouse, John|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Pargiter, G. A.||Stones, William|
|Kettey, Diehard||Parker, John||Swingler, Stephen|
|Kenyon, Clifford||Pavitt, Laurence||Symonds, J. B.|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|King, Dr. Horace||Peart, Frederick||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Lawson, George||Pentland, Norman||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Prentice, R. E.||Timmons, John|
|Loughlin, Charles||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Probert, Arthur||Wade, Donald|
|MacColl, James||Randall, Harry||Wainwright, Edwin|
|McInnes, James||Rankin, John||Warbey, William|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Redhead, E. C.||Watkins, Tudor|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Weitzman, David|
|Manuel, A. C.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Mapp, Charles||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Whitlock, William|
|Mason, Roy||Rose, William||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Mendelson, J. J.||Short, Edward||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Millan, Bruce||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Williams, LI. (Abertillery)|
|Milne, Edward||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Skeffington, Arthur||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Monslow, Walter||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Moody, A. S.||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Morris, John||Small, William||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Moyle, Arthur||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Woof, Robert|
|Neal, Harold||Snow, Julian||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Sorernsen, R. W.|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Oswald, Thomas||Spriggs, Leslie||Mr. Charles A. Howell and|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Critchley, Julian||Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col, Sir Oliver||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)|
|Allason, James||Crowder, F. P.||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Curran, Charles||Hobson, John|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Dance, James||Hocking, Philip N.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Deedes, W. F.||Holland, Philip|
|Barter, John||de Ferranti, Basil||Hollingworth, John|
|Batsford, Brian||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Hopkins, Alan|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Doughty, Charles||Hornby, R. P.|
|Bell, Donald||Dray son, G. B.||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John|
|Berkeley, Humphry||du Cann, Edward||Hughes-Young, Michael|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Duncan, Sir James||Hulbert, Sir Norman|
|Biffen, John||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Hutchison, Michael Clark|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Elliott, R.W.(Nwcastle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Bingham, R. M.||Emery, Peter||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Errington, Sir Eric||James, David|
|Bishop, F. P.||Finlay, Graeme||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Fisher, Nigel||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Bossom, Clive||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)||Joseph, Sir Keith|
|Box, Donald||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Kaberry, Sir Donald|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J.||Freeth, Denzil||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Kerby, Capt. Henry|
|Braine, Bernard||Gammans, Lady||Kerr, Sir Hamilton|
|Brewis, John||Gardner, Edward||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Gibson-Watt, David||Kirk, Peter|
|Brooman-White, R.||Gilmour, Sir John||Kitson, Timothy|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Glover, Sir Douglas||Leavey, J. A.|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Godber, J. B.||Leburn, Gilmour|
|Buck, Antony||Goodhart, Philip||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Billiard, Denys||Goodhew, Victor||Linstead, Sir Hugh|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Gough, Frederick||Litchfield, Capt. John|
|Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A.(Saffron Walden)||Grant, Rt. Hon. William||Longbottom, Charles|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R.||Loveys, Walter H.|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Green, Alan||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Gresham Cooke, R.||MacArthur, Ian|
|Chataway, Christopher||Gurden, Harold||McLaren, Martin|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hall, John (Wycombe)||McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Hare, Rt. Hon. John||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Harris, Reader (Heston)||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||McMaster, Stanley R.|
|Cole, Norman||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Collard, Richard||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Maginnis, John E.|
|Cooke, Robert||Hastings, Stephen||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.|
|Cordeaux, Lt-Col. J. K.||Hay, John||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Corfield, F. V.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Marshall, Douglas|
|Costain, A. P.||Hendry, Forbes||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)|
|Coulson, Michael||Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford||Hiley, Joseph||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter|
|Montgomery, Fergus||Rees, Hugh||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Tiley, Arhur (Bradford, W.)|
|Morgan, William||Renton, David||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Robinson, Rt Hn Sir R. (B'pool, S.)||Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Nabarro, Gerald||Roots, William||Turner, Colin|
|Neave, Airey||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Russell, Ronald||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Scott-Hopkins, James||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard||Sharples, Richard||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Oakshott, Sir Hendrie||Shaw, M.||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Osborn, John (Hallam)||Shepherd, William||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir Jocelyn||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Page, Graham (Crosby)||Skeet, T. H. H.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Page, John (Harrow, West)||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)||Walder, David|
|Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)||Wall, Patrick|
|Partridge, E.||Spearman, Sir Alexander||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Stanley, Hon. Richard||Webster, David|
|Peel, John||Stevens, Geoffrey||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Percival, Ian||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Pike, Miss Mervyn||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Pitt, Miss Edith||Storey, Sir Samuel||Wise, A. R.|
|Pott, Percivall||Studholme, Sir Henry||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Powell, Rt Hon. J. Enoch||Talbot, John E.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Price, David (Eastleigh)||Tapsell, Peter||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Prior, J. M. L.||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho||Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)||Woollam, John|
|Proudfoot, Wilfred||Teeling, Sir William||Worsley, Marcus|
|Pym, Francis||Temple, John M.|
|Quennell, Miss J. M.||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Ramsden, James||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)||Mr. Whitelaw and|
|Rawlinson, Peter||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)||Mr. Michael Hamilton.|
§ The Chairman
The next Amendment selected is that in page 2, line 26, leave out from "there" to "or" in line 30. With it, may be taken the Amendment in page 2, line 27, after "issued", insert "to him"; that in line 30, after "Ireland", insert:or by the High Commissioner in any part of the Commonwealthand that in line 30, at end insert:(b) that employment has been offered to him in the United Kingdom and that he intends to take up such employment; or.but those Amendments have not been selected for a Division.
§ Mr. Fletcher
At this time in the evening, Sir William, I do not propose to move any of those Amendments, important as they are, as the Guillotine will fall shortly and we want to start, at any rate, the important discussion on the admission of students. We, therefore, propose not to move those Amendments and to leave discussion of them to the Report stage.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
I beg to move, in page 2, line 30, at end to insert:(b) that he wishes to enter the United Kingdom for the purpose of attending a course of study at any university, college, school or other institution in the United Kingdom, being a course which will occupy the whole or a substantial part of his time; or.In view of the hour I shall move this Amendment briefly, although it is important. This is the second of the two 366 main Government Amendments which specify additional categories who may be assured of admission to this country.
§ The Chairman
It will be in order for hon. Members also to discuss, although they have not been selected for Division, the Amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), in page 2, line 24, at end insert:(a) that he is a bona fide student as defined in section twenty-one of this Act; or.the Amendment in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), in page 2, line 34, at end insert:or(c) that he is a bona fide studentthe Amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for Smethwick, in Clause 21, page 14, line 4, at end insert:a bona fide student" includes any person who has been admitted to any course of study at any university, technical college, polytechnic or education establishment supported in whole or in part by Her Majesty's Government or any local authority or who genuinely intends to enroll for a course of study either whole-time or part-time at any such university, technical college or institution or who intends to take a correspondence course for an examination at any educational institution recognised as such by the Minister of Education.and the new Clause—Admission of students—in the name of the right hon. Member for Smethwick.
§ Mr. Butler
I was saying that this Amendment was supplementary to another Government Amendment concerning certain categories which I moved earlier in the day relating to wives and children of returning residents. This Amendment is important and concerns the situation of students. The Bill as drafted left the question of students to be determined by administrative instructions and the Amendment gives effect to what has been the intention of the Government.
The drafting, however, has not been easy and it will be necessary for the details to be set out in the administrative instructions to immigration officers which, as I said earlier, will be published before the Report stage. I will take into account any points made on this when drafting the final instructions to the immigration officers.
The principle to which we wish to give expression in the Amendment and also in the detailed instructions to immigration officers is that no Commonwealth citizen should be hindered from coming to this country for the purpose of a genuine course of study. We also consider that if study is the student's main concern he should not be required to get and employment voucher, even if he needs to spend part if his time working—and that is a concession we wish to make.
We wish to welcome students from all parts of the Commonwealth and we do not wish the Bill to place any restrictions on such people. At the same time, we cannot allow any exception for genuine students to be used by those coming to this country if they are coming here only to obtain employment when, of course, they should come under the voucher system. Hence it is not enough that immigrants should possess the general desire to study. There must be a specific intention of them taking a definite course of study. It is not enough for them to say that they intend to study on their own. A student must, in coming here, have a course of study at an institution.
It is not enough for a student to say that he will take evening classes for a few hours a week or undertake a correspondence course. He must devote a substantial part of his time to study. 368 Thus the Amendment includes the phrase… a substantial part of his time …The immigration officer will be told in the first instance that the intending student should propose to devote, say, fifteen hours a week, to study. Clearly the officer must sometimes be unable to satisfy himself, on the information available to him, as to the precise amount of time the students will devote to study and he will have the discretion—even if there is doubt about the exact time—to admit the individual provided that he is satisfied that study is the basic purpose for which the student is coming to this country.
Therefore, there will be a liberal instruction to the immigration officer to give the benefit of the doubt to the student provided he is satisfied that the study is genuine. That is why I read those words, because we propose to use words of that sort in the instructions to immigration officers. We must retain a certain amount of flexibility in dealing with questions of students.
We intend to make arrangements by which people who wish to come here for study but who are not sure that they can demonstrate this to the immigration officer at the port of entry will be able to apply beforehand for an entry certificate or visa certificate. I am glad to fit this statement in before we close tonight because I do not think that we shall reach the Amendment put down by the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) and his hon. Friends, to add a new Schedule, namely: