HC Deb 13 July 1965 vol 716 cc278-80
Q6. Captain Walter Elliot

asked the Prime Minister if he will seek the agreement of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers to the publication of the Lord Mountbatten Report on immigration.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir.

Captain Elliot

Would the Prime Minister reconsider his Answer? Is he aware that it seems to indicate that, whereas the Commonwealth Prime Ministers might agree to the publication of this Report, the British Government would not? Has not he himself paid tribute to the Report? Does he not feel that it would be highly valuable for the rest of us to have a look at it?

The Prime Minister

There is no warrant at all for the hon. and gallant Gentleman's suggestion that there is any desire on the part of Commonwealth Prime Ministers that this Report should be published. The whole basis of this Mission was that Lord Mountbatten and his colleagues could speak completely frankly to all Commonwealth Prime Ministers and that they, in turn, could speak frankly, with the idea of getting a really effective immigration policy for this country. I am sure that if there had been any suggestion at the beginning of the Mission that what was said by Commonwealth Prime Ministers to Lord Mountbatten would be published we could not have had the degree of co-operation we have had.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The Prime Minister has told us that he will produce a White Paper or make a statement. Will he confirm that this will be based on Lord Mountbatten's Report? Does not all the Prime Minister's recent experience in the months since October confirm how foolish and wrong it was for him and his party to vote against the Commonwealth Immigrants Act?

The Prime Minister

The White Paper, when it is finalised, will certainly take full account of Lord Mountbatten's Report and of his recommendations, though in the last resort it is for the Goverment to take responsibility. My predecessor as Leader of the Labour Party in Opposition made plain when we voted against the Act that what we were voting against was, first, the degree of colour prejudice in it—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—secondly, the fact that it did not represent the result of consultations with Commonwealth countries, and, thirdly, that at that time the then Government were considering allowing freedom of movement for Europeans in this country when they would have denied it to Commonwealth citizens. However, when we got into power we certainly found that the Act was not working as right hon. Members opposite pretended that it was.

Mr. Ennals

Will my right hon. Friend resist the pressure from the Opposition to impose limitations which would prevent members of a family joining an immigrant, because this has been suggested by hon. Members opposite?

The Prime Minister

It is not my job to co-ordinate the Opposition Front Bench, but I am doing my best to reconcile the sensible recommendation of the Leader of the Opposition that dependants should be allowed to join their families in this country with the statement by the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd), which seems to be totally opposed to it.

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Lubbock, Private Notice Question.

Mr. Hector Hughes

On a point of order. In view of the very unfortunate interruption of Questions today, and as there are only three more Questions left for my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to answer, would you, Mr. Speaker, consider asking the House to agree to extra time so that those three Questions may be answered?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. and learned Gentleman is so persuasive that I am afraid that if I once did that somebody would propose it again.