HC Deb 02 March 1965 vol 707 cc1132-40

3.30 p.m.

Sir Cyril Osborne (Louth)

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision for the fixing of periodic and precise limits on immigration into the United Kingdom (until local authorities have dealt with the urgent problems arising from previous immigration); to stop the widespread avoidance of existing regulations; to provide for the repatriation of immigrants who enter the United Kingdom illegally; to make further provision regarding deportation of immigrants who have been convicted of offences punishable with imprisonment; to provide for assisted passages for immigrants who wish to return to their own country; and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid. I realise the deep and sincere feelings of hon. Members on both sides of the House on this very difficult, complicated and important issue. I shall state my case with the greatest moderation and hope that hon. Members will give me a fair hearing.

I would like to make a few brief points. First, I think that we are all agreed that the immigrants who are already in this country are entitled to the full protection of the law, and that anyone who stirs up racial hatred should be punished to the uttermost of the law. Secondly, I believe that all hon. Members, on both sides of the House, would agree that everything possible should be done to integrate into our society the immigrants who are already here, and to help them to adjust themselves to our way of life. Thirdly, the more immigrants we admit, the greater will be the difficulty of integrating them. The fewer we admit, the easier the problem of absorbing them.

With these preliminary remarks, I would say this to hon. Members. My Bill would provide for a definite small quota, greater health checks, a clean criminal record, a working knowledge of the English language, the repatriation of immigrants found guilty of crimes in this country—with the exemption raised from five to 15 years—the prevention of illegal entrance to the United Kingdom and the provision of assisted passages for immigrants who want to return to their native country. I should like to make it clear that all genuine students and businessmen would be exempted, provided that, when they have finished their training, they go back to their own countries.

Britain is already the most densely populated country in the Commonwealth and, I think hon. Members on both sides will agree, cannot accommodate unlimited numbers of immigrants. The density of population per sq. mile in England and Wales is 790; in India, it is 344; in Pakistan, 257; and in Ghana, 53.

Mr. Archie Manuel (Central Ayrshire)

What about taking Scotland into account?

Sir C. Osborne

The very affluence of this country naturally attracts immigrants who are living in poverty overseas. For example, Pakistan's annual income per capita is £19 and in India it is £24. In the United Kingdom it is £405. Naturally, our wealth attracts them to come from their poverty. But, with the best will in the world, we cannot accept the 15 million per annum population increase from these two countries alone, let alone absorb the increase in population throughout the Commonwealth.

I think that I will carry hon. Members opposite with me in saying that the great shortage of housing in this country, created by our own population explosion which is necessitating the building of newer and fresher cities, makes further restriction of immigration vital. Those who object to my proposals often say to me that the immigrant labour is necessary in this country to do the menial and disagreeable jobs which we will not do for ourselves.

That is treating the immigrants as second-class citizens, which I reject. Futhermore, if their children in turn refuse to do these jobs for us, are we to keep bringing in men for ever to do the jobs which we will not do for ourselves?

The Minister of Labour tacitly supports my plea, for this reason. He has in his office at present about 300,000 applications for C vouchers and, as I understand, he has not issued one for a very long time; and I understand that he has no intention of issuing any for a long time to come.

Hon. Members opposite must surely support my plea because during the passage in 1961 of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill through the House they voted no fewer than 46 times against the Bill. That was at a time when 135,000 immigrants a year were coming into this country. They voted that they would repeal the Act. But subsequently they have been forced by circumstances silently to reimpose it, and not one has protested.

The Home Secretary, whom I am glad to see here, must tacitly support my plea for two reasons. One is that he has publicly admitted that there is widespread evasion, and has determined to end that evasion. Secondly, he is on record as saying that the Government are firmly convinced that an effective control is indispensable. The Home Secretary said, "That policy we accept, and we have always accepted it". He must, therefore, give me his support in what I am seeking.

I am convinced from the hundreds of thousands of letters which I get from all over the country, many of them from Labour supporters. [HON. MEMBERS: "How many?"] I said hundreds and thousands of letters. If I did not say that, it is what I meant to say. I am convinced by these letters that the majority of the British people, irrespective of party, support my plea, not because they hate other races but because they love their own country and they want to leave the heritage to their children as they found it.

I beg hon. Members to give me permission to introduce the Bill, because the subject is so serious that it merits further and longer discussion.

3.43 p.m.

Mrs. Shirley Williams (Hitchin)

In begging your leave, Mr. Speaker, to oppose the Bill, may I begin by saying that I found the arithmetic of the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) a little confusing. He said that at present there were 300,000 applicants for C vouchers and that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour would not grant them. It therefore seemed strange to me that the hon. Member's Bill should be required at all. Surely, if this sort of problem is to be dealt with effectively, it cannot be dealt with effectively by a Bill of the kind that he has outlined.

Let me look a little more closely at the terms of the proposed Bill. It suggests fixing periodically precise limits on immigration into the United Kingdom. As he and hon. Members on both sides of the House know, that is already within the power of the Government; they can fix the number of vouchers. The hon. Gentleman must, therefore, mean that the Government should now move to restrict the right of residents in this country to return to this country and also to restrict even more closely than at present the right of dependent children and of legal spouses to join people working in this country.

I am speaking for many on this side of the House when I say that an attempt to draw a line between children and their parents, between husband and wife, would, I believe, be quite unacceptable to all liberal-minded hon. Members on both sides of the House.

The hon. Member suggests that there is widespread avoidance of the existing legislation, but my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, speaking in the House on 4th February, indicated a very wide range of measures to deal with the illegal avoidance of existing legislation.

The hon. Member suggests that there should be further penalties for illegal entry into this country, but, as he must be aware, anyone who makes a false statement to an immigration officer, anyone who uses a false passport or other document or anyone who fails to obey the conditions imposed on his entry into this country is subject to imprisonment and, therefore, to deportation.

The hon. Member suggests that the existing provisions for deportation should be extended. I am not quite sure what the hon. Member means by this, unless he means that they should be extended to those who have been residents in this country and accepted as such for more than five years. The position is that if someone lives in this country for five years he can qualify as a citizen of this country. Is the hon. Member suggesting that we should hold an axe over those citizens who were born elsewhere than in this country for the whole of their lives, and that in some sense of the word they are not citizens as fully as are the rest of us? If so, I believe that most hon. Members on both sides of the House would find this an unacceptable principle.

Finally, the hon. Member suggests the provision of assisted passages for those immigrants wishing to return to their own country. There may be a case for this, but already provision exists in the sense that their own Governments, and in certain cases of hardship the National Assistance Board, can provide for such financial assistance.

I have dealt, only briefly, with the terms of the proposed Bill, but I want to say two more things. One is that the great weakness of the Bill is that it would be entirely negative. If we have learned anything in the last few years it surely is that no social problem can ever be dealt with by a combination of restriction and repression.

I speak for many hon. Members on both sides of the House when I say that we should very much welcome an early statement by the Government, the only body which can effectively deal with the problem, that they are considering measures to integrate our existing immigrant community much more fully into the British community by such measures as greater control over the overcrowding of houses and over bad landlords of all races, by greater attempts to educate immigrants in the English language, by adult literacy classes, and by full attention to fair employment practices and the like. This, surely, is what is required, side by side with the additional security over obedience of the law which my right hon. and learned Friend laid down on 4th February.

It seems to me perfectly fair for this House to discuss reasonably and intelligently the actual numbers of immigrants we can afford. That is a legitimate subject for debate. But what is not a legitimate subject for debate is anything which might lead to distinguishing between our citizens, to treating one group differently from another group, to treating one group as first-class and another group as second-class.

I commend to hon. Members opposite, in particular, a saying made in a different situation by one of their own distinguished members. I refer to Edmund Burke, when he said of the American revolutionaries: Deny them this participation of freedom, and you break that sole bond which originally made, and must still preserve, the unity of the empire. Today, we speak not about an Empire, but about a Commonwealth. But I commend those words to hon. Members on both sides of the House—"deny them … participation of freedom …"

Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 13 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and nomination of Select Committees at commencement of Public Business):—

The House divided: Ayes 162, Noes 261.

Division No. 67.] AYES [3.48 p.m.
Ailason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Godher, Rt. Hn. J. B. Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Goodhart, Philip Page, R.Graham (Crosby)
Astor, John Goodhew, Victor Pearson, SirFrank (Clitheroe)
Baker, W. H. K. Grant, Anthony Peel, John
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Grant-Ferris, R. Peyton, John
Batsford, Brian Gresham-Cooke, R. Pitt, Dame Edith
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick) Pounder, Rafton
Bell, Ronald Gurden, Harold Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh) price, David (Eastlcigh)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm) Hamilton, M. (Salisbury) Pym, Francis
Berry, Hn.Anthony Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Biggs-Davison, John Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Blaker, Peter Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Maccles'd) Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin
Bossom, Hn. Clive Hastings, Stephen Rees-Davies, W. R.
Box, Donald Hay, John Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J. Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Braine, Bernard Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Ridsdale, Julian
Brewis, John Hiley, Joseph Hobson Brown, Sir William
Brinton, Sir Tatton Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Roots, William
Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col.SirWalter Hirst, Geoffrey Russell, Sir Ronald
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Hordern, Peter Scott-Hopkins, James
Buck, Antony Hutchison, MichaelClark Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Bullus, Sir Eric lrvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Smyth, Rt. Hn. Brig. Sir John
Butcher, Sir Herbert Jennings, J. C. Speir, Sir Rupert
Channon, H. P. G. Kaberry, Sir Donald Stainton, Keith
Chichester-Clark, R. Kerby, Capt. Henry Stanley, Hn. Richard
Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) Kerthaw, Anthony Stoddart-Scott, Col .Sir Malcolm
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Kimball, Marcus Studholme, Sir Henry
Cooke, Robert Lambton, Viscount Talbot, John E.
Cordle, John Lancaster, Col. C. G. Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Corfield, F. V. Langford-Holt, Sir John Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow,Cathcart)
Costain, A. P. Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Temple, John M.
Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Litchfield, Capt. John Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Lloyd, lan (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)
Crawley, Aidan Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral) Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon,8.)
Cunningham, Sir Knox Longden, Gilbert Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter
Curran, Charles McLaren, Martin Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Dance, James Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr) McMaster, Stanley Wall, Patrick
Deedes, Rt. Hn. w. F. McNair-Wilson, Patrick Ward, Dame Irene
Digby, Simon Wingfield Maitland, Sir John Webster, David
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Mathew, Robert Wells, John (Maidstone)
Doughty, Charles Mawby, Ray Whitelaw, William
Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)
Eden, Sir John Miscampbell, Norman Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Monro, Hector Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Fell, Anthony More, Jasper Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Foster, Sir John Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Fraser, Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'ffrord & Stone) Murton, Oscar Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Fraser, lan (Plymouth, Sutton) Nicholis, Sir Harmar Wylie, N. R.
Gibson-Watt, David Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Glover, Sir Douglas Orr-Ewing, Sir lan TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Glyn, Sir Richard Osborn, John (Hallam) Sir John Barlow and
Sir Cyril Osborne.
Abse, Leo Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J. Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W.(LeicsS.W.)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Bence, Cyril Boyden, James
Alldritt, W. H. Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Braddock, Mrs. E. M.
Allen, Scholefleld (Crewe) Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Bray, Dr. Jeremy
Armstrong, Ernest Berkeley, Humphry Brown, Hugh D.(Glasgow, Provan)
Atkinson, Norman Bessell, Peter Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & Fbury)
Bacon, Miss Alice Binns, John Buchanan, Richard
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Bishop, E. S. Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)
Barnett, Joel Black burn, F. Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)
Baxter, William Blenkinsop, Arthur Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James
Beaney, Alan Boston, T. G. Carmichael, Neil
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hunter, Adam (Dunfarmline) Parker, John
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Hynd, H. (Accrington) Parkin, B. T.
Chapman, Donald Hynd, John (Attercliffe) Pavitt, Laurence
Coleman, Donald Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Conlan, Bernard Jackson, Colin Pentland, Norman
Cousins, Rt. Hn. Frank Janner, Sir Barnett Perry, Ernest G.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Popplewell, Ernest
Crawshaw, Richard Jeger, George (Goole) Prentice, R. E.
Crosland, Anthony Jeger, Mrs.Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras, 8.) Probert, Arthur
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Dalyell, Tam Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, 8.) Rankin, John
Darling, George Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Redhead, Edward
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Reynolds, G. W.
Davies, Harold (Leek) Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green) Rhodes, Geoffrey
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Richard, lvor
Davies, 8. O. (Merthyr) Jones, J. ldwal (Wrexham) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Dell, Edmund Kelley, Richard Robertson, John (Paisley)
Doig, Peter Kenyon, Clifford Robinson, Rt.Hn. K. (St.Pancras, N.
Donnelly, Desmond Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Drlberg, Tom Lawson, George Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Duffy, Dr. A. E. P. Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Dunn, James A. Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) St.John-Stevas, Norman
Dunnett, Jack Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Sheldon, Robert
Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Shore, Peter (Stepney)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Lomas, Kenneth Short,Rt. Hn.E.(N'c'tle-on-Tyne, C.)
English, Michael Lubbock, Eric Short, Mrs.Renee (W'hampton.N.E.
Ennals, David Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Silkin, John (Deptford)
Ensor, David McBride, Nell Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) McCann, J. Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Fernyhough, E. MacColl, James Silverman Sydney (Nelson)
Finch, Harold (Bedwellty) MacDermot, Nlall Skeffington, Arthur
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) McGuire, Michael Slater, Mrs.Harrietc (Stoke, N.)
Fletcher, Sir Eric (lslington, E.) Mcinnes, James Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Fletcher, Ted(Darlington) Mackenzie, Alasdair (Rose & Crom'ty) Small, William
Fletcher, Raymond (llkeston) Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Foley, Maurice Mackie, George Y.(C'ness & S'land) Snow, Julian
Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich) Mackie, John(Enfleld, E.) Solomons, Henry
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) MacMillan, Malcolm Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton) MacPherson, Malcolm Spriggs, Leslie
Freeson, Reginald Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Steele, Thomas
Galpern, Sir Myer Mahon, Simon (Bootle) stones,William
Garrett, W. E. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)
Ginsburg, David Mallalieu, J.P.W.(Huddersfield, E.) Summerskill, Dr. Shirley
Gourlay, Harry Manuel, Archie Symonds, J. B.
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Mapp, Charies Taverne, Dick
Gregory, Arnold Mason, Roy Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Grey, Charles Maxwell, Robert Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mellish, Robert Thornton, Ernest
Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Mendelson, J. J. Tinn, James
Griffiths, Wil l(M'chester Exchange) Millan, Bruce Tuck, Raphael
Grimond, Ht. Hn. J. Miller, Dr. M. S. Urwin, T.W.
Hale, Leslie Milnr, Edward (Blyth) Varley, Eric G.
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Molloy, william Vickers, Dame Joan
Hamilton, William (West Fife) Monslow, Walter Wainwright, Edwin
Hamling, William (Woolwich, W.) Monslow, Walter Walden, Brian (All Saints)
Hannan, William Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Harper, Joseph Morris, Charles (Openshaw) Wallace, George
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Morris, John (Aberavon) Warhey, William
Hart, Mrs. Judith Mulley, Rt.Hn.Frederick(SheffieldPk) Watkins, Tudor
Hayman, F. H. Murray, Albert White, Mrs, Eirene
Hazell, Bert Neal, Harold Whitlock, William
Heffer, Eric S. Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Wilkins, W. A.
Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Noel-Baker, Rt.Hn.Phillp(Derby, S.) Williams, Alan (Swanea, W.)
Higgins, Terence L. Norwood, Christopher Williams, Mrs.Shirley (Hitchin)
Hill, J. (Midlothian) Oakes, Gordon Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town) Ogden, Eris Wilson, William(Coventry, S.)
Holman, Percy O'Malley, Brian Winterbottom, R. E.
Homer, John Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham S.) Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Houghton, Rt .Hn. Douglas Orbach, Maurice Woof, Robert
Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Oswald, Thomas Wyatt, Woodrow
Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Owen, Will Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Howie, W. Paget, R. T. Zilliacus, K.
Hoy, James Palmer, Arthur
Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Pargiter, G. A. Mr. Thorpe and Mr.Hattersley.
Hunt, John (Bromley)