HC Deb 04 June 1964 vol 695 cc1225-6
5. Sir C. Osborne

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in view of the fact that 300,000 Indians and Pakistanis who have no work permit, voucher or money are wanting to emigrate to Great Britain and of the difficulties of deciding how many people from overseas to admit, what recent communications he has had with Commonwealth governments regarding the maximum figure; what action he proposes to take when it has been reached; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Brooke

We are in touch with other Commonwealth Governments about the working of the control, but it is for us to decide the rate at which Ministry of Labour vouchers should be issued. As has been made clear on previous occasions, this is determined by what we consider to be the rate at which the United Kingdom can absorb immigrants. It is not affected by the number of applications pending.

Sir C. Osborne

Can my right hon. Friend say, first, what is the maximum number of Commonwealth immigrants the Government consider this country can safely absorb and, secondly, since it is the working class people in the poorer districts of our great cities who must put up with the social consequences of this invasion, and since overwhelmingly they want it stopped, will not my right hon. Friend heed their cry and do something for them?

Mr. Brooke

I want to make one thing absolutely clear. The Government were fully justified in bringing in the Commonwealth Immigrants Act when they did, despite the vigorous opposition of both the other parties. At the same time, my hon. Friend should bear in mind the fact that the number of Commonwealth immigrants unemployed is less than one-third of the number who were unemployed when the control came into force two years ago. I hope that he will trust my right hon. Friends and myself to administer in a wise way these powers of control which Parliament has now given us.

Mr. N. Pannell

Does not my right hon. Friend realise that if these 300,000 outstanding applicants and their dependants were allowed in in the next few years it would create a calamitous situation? If my right hon. Friend does not intend to allow them in, should he not state frankly that he will not do so and also state that those without jobs to come to or without special skills will not be considered as applicants until further notice?

Mr. Brooke

The issue of vouchers is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and not for myself. My hon. Friend has done right in drawing attention to the fact that there are now 300,000 people who have made application for vouchers to come to this country and that vouchers have not been issued to them. Had the Act not been passed I cannot see anything that could have stood in the way of all of them coming here.