HC Deb 21 April 1964 vol 693 cc1087-9
Q3. Mrs. Hart

asked the Prime Minister if he will set up an inter-departmental inquiry into the need for the revision of procedures for granting work permits and immigration visas, issued by the Ministry of Labour and the Home Office, respectively, which govern the admission to this country of South Africans seeking to work and live here.

The Prime Minister (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)

No, Sir. South African nationals holding valid passports do not require United Kingdom visas in order to enter this country. They are, however, subject to the normal aliens control arrangements governing the grant of work permits or eligibility for residence here. I have no reason to think that any change in these arrangements is called for.

Mrs. Hart

Is the Prime Minister satisfied that in the space of two or three hours at Southampton or at London Airport proper and careful consideration can be given to the many factors that may arise in particular cases? Is it not necessary, so that we shall be clearly seen to be doing justice to people who come here from South Africa, that a little more time should be given for proper consideration of all the factors in the case? Will he look at this kind of procedure again?

The Prime Minister

I think that the procedure is working fairly well. More than 45,000 South Africans arrived here in 1963, and in only 20 cases were they refused permission to land. Therefore, it seems as though the procedure is working fairly well. If notice comes from the other end, it assists us here. We cannot have a lot of people arriving at British ports without permits for employment, because it simply makes confusion.

Mr. Brockway

Would the right hon. Gentleman consult the Home Secretary on this matter? Is he aware that on a number of occasions recently, when persons have been refused admission to this country and have communicated with me from the airport within a few hours of their being expelled from the country, when I have got on to the Home Office there has been a revision of the decision? Does not this suggest that there is some necessity for a new procedure?

The Prime Minister

I am always willing to discuss this and look into it, but it does not seem that there is such necessity on the figures I have given. If people from Commonwealth or other countries overseas or foreign countries want to come here, they must have a permit which shows that they will be able to get work. It is necessary, to protect the position of our own people in this country, to enforce this requirement.

Sir C. Osborne

On the general question of issuing work permits and immigration visas, in view of the enormous problems that are being created, one of which was exemplified in the discussion on Question No. 30, is not my right hon. Friend aware that the vast majority of the people in this country would like the granting of immigration permits to be tightened up and fewer to be issued? Will he look at this matter from the Englishman's point of view?

The Prime Minister

I have been doing my best to express the point of view of the British citizen here. I am looking at the figures again—only 100 applications for work permits have been refused since South Africa became a foreign country, and about half of those were refused because British labour was available to do the job.

Miss Lee

In view of the relatively small number refused, is it not all the more easy administratively for the few who are refused to have some second tribunal? All of them do not know the advisability of contacting my hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Mr. Brockway). Some who did not do so may have suffered injustice, and even one injustice can go all round the world and bring no credit to this country.

The Prime Minister

Our procedure is perfectly well known abroad, and it is only necessary for prospective immigrants to get a work permit and arrange for that. It is possible that many hundreds of thousands may want to come and work in this country, and we must haw order in the procedure.