HC Deb 01 February 1965 vol 705 cc712-3
29. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Minister of Health what further action he intends to take to ensure that intending immigrants are effectively and adequately screened before entry into this country.

Mr. K. Robinson

I intend to study the effect of the arrangements recently announced for improving the health safeguards on and after entry to this country before I decide whether further measures are needed.

Mrs. Short

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he will give consideration to two suggestions which I should like to make to him while he is making the review? First, will he consider the possibility of having mass X-ray units at the ports, including airports, so that all intending immigrants can be X-rayed immediately on arrival in this country and can then be followed up if found to be tuberculosis positive? Secondly, may I suggest that if he finds that not to be a practical suggestion, he should consider the advisability of requesting an X-ray certificate before the voucher is given allowing an immigrant to enter this country, these X-ray certificates to be obtained at approved centres in the country of origin?

Mr. Robinson

I must tell my hon. Friend that there are considerable difficulties in the way of any comprehensive or reliable health check in the country of origin. Further, the Commonwealth Immigrants Act makes no provision for any such check. As for the first suggestion, an X-ray unit is being established and will soon be in operation at London Airport, where about 60 per cent. of all immigrants arrive. I would like to see how this functions before considering its extension. There would be difficulties in the way of setting up X-ray units at every possible port of entry.

Lord Balniel

I feel that there should be a strengthening of health checks on immigrants to this country, but does not the Minister agree that this is not only an administrative problem but a humane problem of returning immigrants long distances to their points of emigration? Will he give serious consideration to the possibility of sending British doctors to the main points of emigration of immigrants to this country, so as to institute checks at those points?

Mr. Robinson

There are so many points of possible departure that this also presents formidable difficulties. I have announced some new measures, and I want to see how they work out. I would also remind the House that there is no provision for the medical examination of certain quite considerable categories of Commonwealth immigrants into this country.

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