HC Deb 01 December 1964 vol 703 cc226-8
Q1. Mr. Shepherd

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the reactions caused by the present volume of immigration, he will appoint a committee to report upon the present situation, having special regard to the problems of assimilation, housing, education and employment.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

No, Sir. We already have the Commonwealth Immigrants Advisory Council, which advises on the integration of Commonwealth immigrants into the community; and the issues involved are, of course, kept in regular review by the responsible Ministers.

Mr. Shepherd

Is it not a fact that a great deal of prejudice surrounds this subject? Would not much of it be dissipated advantageously if a large and objective review of all these considerations were made? Would it not serve the purpose of dispelling much of the prejudice?

The Prime Minister

I think that, whatever differences there are on this matter in the parties and in the country, everyone will agree on the importance of positive action in the areas where this problem is greatest. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Council which I have mentioned has already submitted three reports in the time of the previous Government on housing, education and employment for immigrant school leavers.

Mr. Taverne

Has the Prime Minister had any representation from the Home Secretary, or the Law Officers, concerning a proposal put forward by a group of lawyers to set up a citizens council for a rather different purpose—to investigate any alleged cases of discrimination on grounds of race or religion?

The Prime Minister

I have seen reports of this suggestion, but I have not had a report on it from the Home Secretary or the Attorney-General.

Mr. Lipton

In order to lift the problems arising from immigration out of the party dog fight, will the Prime Minister consider setting up a standing committee on which Members on both sides of the House would be represented, working in conjunction with representatives of the Government Departments concerned, which would be a much more effective body than the well-meaning people who are serving on the Commonwealth Immigrants Advisory Council?

The Prime Minister

The urgent thing is to try to take special action in the areas where the problem is greatest. Of course it is not the custom ever to say what committees of Ministers there are examining these subjects, but I said that this matter, with particular reference to the positive side which I have just mentioned, was under continuous review.