HC Deb 20 November 1963 vol 684 cc990-2
Mrs. Hart

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why he has refused a visa to enter this country to General Delgado and if he will reconsider his decision.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Henry Brooke)

In the light of General Delgado's activities in this country during his last visit, when he came for the stated purpose ofa lecture tour but, in the event, advocated armed insurrection against the Government of his own country, I decided that I would not be justified in authorising a fresh visa.

Mrs. Hart

Does not the Home Secretary agree that it is totally in conflict withBritish tradition and practice to refuse permission to enter this country to a distinguished foreign opposition leader such as General Delgado, who holds the C.B.E.? Has he considered the effects of this on African opinion, since I understand that various heads of Commonwealth African Governments are to see him in Africa? Was this reason given to General Delgado himself when our Ambassador in Brazil talked to him recently?

Mr. Brooke

Naturally, I took everything into consideration, but I would say to the hon. Lady that hospitality imposes on the recipient of that hospitality an obligation not to indulge in political activity which will embarrass his host. That is what he did last time, and that appeared to me to be a compelling reason for me not to offer him a new visa.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that this decision is causing, and will cause, a great deal of concern—concern which will not be allayed by reports that the Prime Minister made this decision personally? May I ask whether the general is asking for a transfer visa to pass on to other places? Will he bear in mind that this decision is bound to create the impression that we are worried about attacking or appearing to criticise Portuguese colonial policy and that it will have, and is having, a deplorable effect upon Commonwealth opinion in a number of very important Commonwealth countries?

Mr. Brooke

First, this was my decision, for which I take full responsibility. I have given the reasons for it. General Delgado is a self-declared rebel against a Government with which we are allied. There is no reason why he should not travel to Africa or any other part of the world, but I decided that it would not be right to offer him a fresh visa to come here in the light of what he did when he was here last time.

Mr. Brockway

Even if Portugal is an ally of this country, is it not a dictatorship? When a country is a dictatorship, is not a political expression against it justifiable in our democracy when it would not be justifiable against another democracy?

Mr. Brooke

It does not seem to me right for me to give visas to come to this country to people who when they have come before have, despite their ostensible reason for coming, advocated armed insurrection against their own Governments.

Mr. A. Henderson

Did General Delgado make a speech advocating some violent action against his Government or was he seeking to purchase arms? Are there not many instances of people in this country advocating armed insurrection against Her Majesty's Government without it being regarded as anything more than a political extravagance?

Mr. Brooke

That may be a domestic matter, but in this case it was a foreigner who came to this country. I do not know whether he sought to purchase arms, but he certainly made inflammatory speeches advocating armed action against the Government of his own country, and in those circumstances I do not think that it is right to offer the same person a second opportunity.

Mr. Doughty

Does the Home Secretary realise that his very correct decision will give great satisfaction to the vast majority of the people of this country, who do not wish to see this country used for the purpose of inflammatory propaganda against friendly nations?

Mr. S. Silverman

May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that in recent months he made a very strong stand in order to persuade this House that questions of political asylum concern foreigners and foreigners alone? That was the whole point, was it not, in the case of Chief Enahoro, and the objections which we made? Does he not appreciate that the practice of political asylum of which this country has rightly been proud for a very long time would be utterly unworkable on the right hon. Gentleman's principle that political asylum cannot be granted and a foreigner cannot be admitted if he is in revolt against the Government of his own country?

Mr. Brooke

The hon. Member is wholly astray. The question of political asylum does not arise. General Delgado is in Brazil and there is no risk to him in Brazil whatever.

Mr. H. Wilson

May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman consulted the Foreign Office in this matter and what advice he got from them? Is he aware that because of the Government's very long record of appearing to support Portugal against those of the Portuguese colonies in Africa which seek freedom and independence, this further decision, taken against that background, will have a very serious effect on Britain's name with a large number of African countries and a large number of members of the United Nations?

Mr. Brooke

Nevertheless, I have no doubt whatever that the decision was right.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. We have a lot to do and we cannot continue on this subject.

Mrs. Hart

On a point of order. May Igive notice that I shall seek to raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.