§ Question again proposed, That this House do now adjourn.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Sir J. Smyth
I would only say, in conclusion, that I am glad to have had the opportunity to take part in what I consider to have been an important and constructive debate. If all hon. Members cannot find a solution to this difficult problem—a solution which takes into account the years ahead, at least 10 years ahead, and the way in which this matter will affect future generations of present and immigrant residents—we will have failed in our duty. The debate so far augers extremely well for the future all-party approach which we would like to see on this difficult and important problem of immigration.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)
I hope that the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) and the right hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) will not regard it as an impertinence if I say how much I welcomed the tone and spirit of their remarks. Many years ago an hon. Member said in the House to the then Prime Minister that flattery and congratulations were welcome no matter how insignificant the source from which they came. I hope that they will accept my congratulations and flattery rather in his words than in his spirit.
That is not intended to imply that I agreed with every sentence and syllable that they expressed. It does not seem to me to be the job of the House of Commons, when this subject is being debated, to consider the minute differences between points of view as much as the overall agreement which now exists across party frontiers. We are all in favour of some sort of limitation. We all wholeheartedly oppose any sort of discrimination. We are all wholeheartedly agreed that there 379 should be assimilation or adjustment, whichever word one prefers to use. Those three points of view characterise the view and principles of both major parties.
Because of this agreement, rather than any potential disagreement, some weeks ago attempts were made to elevate, to use a controversial word, this matter out of the arena of party politics. It seemed to me then that there were same facets of public life which because aspects of civil liberties were involved, were best not discerned in the heat of political controversy. A parallel case has always been the all-party agreement over the daily religious life of the nation. The civil liberty element in immigration law and policy is parallel to that.
It was never our intention or hope to sweep the problems of immigration under an all-party carpet. Indeed, to my surprise for eight breathless days we attracted more publicity to the problems of immigration than was attracted during the lifetime of the previous Parliament. Although that made a serious political problem for some of us, none of us regretted it. It seemed to us at the time to be our task to concentrate on the objective study and remedies of the immigration problem rather than to avoid issues which we all freely and frankly agreed existed.
I say, without qualification, that we knew—all of us who fought the election in and around Birmingham—that every candidate of both major parties was presented, in some cases, with an irresistable temptation in regard to immigration policies. It was not a temptation confined to one party. It was a temptation in October, 1964, to reply to the allegation that a Labour Government would continue to allow immigrants into this country by saying that the Conservative Government had let them in in the first place.
I believe that this temptation was shared by all candidates in 1964 and might well have been shared by them all in the forthcoming election. I believe sincerely that the marginal vote they might have won, the trivial support they might have attracted would have done unbelievable harm to the peace and security of this country and put back the cause of good race relations by 50 or 100 years. 380 For that reason some felt that we should come together to emphasise the great area of agreement existing between both parties.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Reigate (Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan) spoke of this new attitude and hoped that Members on this side would make apologies for things said and done in the past. I believe that in some other quarters of the nation there is the need not so much for apology as atonement. If it is possible to allay some of the fears of Members of the Opposition with a voice as insignificant as mine I am prepared to say today that, looking back on the original Act, which limited the entry of Commonwealth citizens into this country, I feel that the Labour Party of that time should have supported it.
I make that point with no great joy for I was myself a passionate opponent of the Act. It is never easy for anyone in politics to suggest that he and his party have been even marginally wrong. I was a passionate opponent of that Act and the opposition was led by the then Leader of the Labour Party, a man for whom I had, and still have unqualified admiration and to whom I gave unqualified support. But, not withstanding those things, in the light of time and with the advantages of hindsight, I suspect that we were wrong to oppose that Act.
§ Mr. Hattersley
I do not know that the hon. Gentleman has anything to thank me for, as I hope he will discover by the time I have concluded my remarks.
I believe that we opposed that Act for a strange combination of rational reasons and high principles. It seemed to us then as it seems to me now that there is not the slightest economic case for limiting immigration into this country. All the economic argument require more rather than less immigration. Believing the economic arguments to be overwhelming, I felt it would be immoral of me to accept pressure from people whose point of view I believed to be less elevated than my own.
I feared that I would be compromising my own principles if I disregarded economic arguments and said that some limitation was necessary. I now believe that there are social as well as economic arguments and I believe that unrestricted 381 immigration can only produce additional problems, additional suffering and additional hardship unless some kind of limitation is imposed and continued.
I have no doubt that over the next year or two the actual number of immigrants coming into this country will decline. Like other hon. and right hon. Members who have spoken, I do not believe that it is possible to stipulate a figure to which or by which they will decline, but I think that the continual tightening of regulations which in the past have been sufficiently slack to allow immigrants to eater the country illegally will result in an overall net decline.
I come to the melancholy view that we are fast approaching the time when, as well as imposing other qualifications on immigrants into this country, we must impose a test which tries to analyse which immigrants, as well as having jobs or special skills, are most likely to be assimilated into our national life. It is painful to say that, because one must face squarely the facts that any such test will fall most severely on the immigrant from Pakistan whose willingness and ability to be integrated is a good deal less than those from other parts of the Commonwealth, since they have not the advantage enjoyed by West Indians of speaking English from birth and who create in our major towns problems a good deal more severe than West Indian immigrants. That is a melancholy conclusion. but I am led to think that such a test must in the near future be applied.
I must say a brief word about the legislation that is proposed to make illegal in this country discrimination in public places and incitement to racial violence. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Monmouth referred to a man drinking a glass of beer. It is always easy to emphasise the difficulty of putting into operation a law making such discrimination illegal if one takes marginal cases. All such laws are difficult to define and apply and it is difficult to prosecute successfully the most marginal cases but we know that there are many cases of overt and obvious, almost proud discrimination. These are cases which can be easily identified and analysed and it is these which the law is basically intended to do something about.
The law will also help to create the right kind of climate in this country. I 382 flatter myself and other right hon. and hon. Members that the opinion of this House still counts for something and if we say corporately, as I believe we will in the not distant future, that there is universal abhorrence of any act which in itself is based on racial or religious discrimination that will have enormous effect in this country. It is something of a public relations exercise which we are in a unique position to undertake and I believe that we have the obligation to do so.
Obviously, none of the right principles, none of the right points of view, mean much unless they are accompanied by positive action and the positive action must be carried out by the local authorities. I do not know what are the intentions of the Government in relation to the form of grants and assistance to be given to the local and county councils of this country, but I hope that such assistance as will be forthcoming will not be paid as part of the block grant which already finances most local authority work.
If somewhere in the complicated formula by which finance committees are given that money an extra increment, a sign or symbol, is included for additional payments to be made for areas with a high immigrant population, then I have no doubt that the leaders of the councils of this country will say, as I would have said a year ago, when I had some influence in and certainly some concern with local government matters, "And about time, too. We have been spending money on immigrants for years and at last the Government is beginning to pay ".
The grants must be devoted for specific purposes and jobs under two heads. The first is housing. Housing must be helped in two positive ways. First, the Government must do something about the twilight areas. I regret not having brought today the speech I meant to launch on the House yesterday. In the Milner Holland Report reference was made to the fact that life in multi-occupation is now probably more grievously destructive than life in the slums. Today, in many great areas of once fine property, life is as sad, as desperate and as pathetic as it can be in any areas scheduled for demolition.
It is into these areas that immigrants have come in ever-increasing numbers. 383 In my own area, large houses, the inhabitants of which once voted for the father of the right hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery), have now been allowed to decay, to run down, to be broken into units for 10, 15, or 20 people, and because there is a superficial appearance of solidarity, and because they appear to be all right structurally, there are no positive proposals to do anything there to help the immigrant housing problem.
We must, first, do something about the twilight areas—a term which seems to me to be one of the great misnomers of town and country planning. It implies the point of the divisions between good and bad, but in part of the area I know it is sometimes more like dead of night. If we can do something to help the general problem of multi-occupation and speed up the institution of improvements and renovations, we shall do something for immigrant housing.
Secondly, we must promote housing associations in areas where immigrants have not congregated before. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Gurden) asked my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) what he was doing to promote this sort of thing. There is probably no one in the House who has done more than my hon. Friend the Member for Northfield to help assimilate immigrants into this country.
I can say to the hon. Member for Selly Oak that I, at least, am a vice-president of an organisation that takes some interest in immigrant housing and housing associations. I promise him that, before long, property is to be bought in his division. Immigrants are to be exported to his division, and I hope that the hon. Member will welcome them, and express to them his gratitude that they are getting better housing conditions. I hope that he will treat them with the tolerance and understanding that I know my hon. Friend the Member for Northfield would show them were they to be exported to his division.
The other great area of activity must be education. In the great cities where immigrants congregate there are, as has been already stated today, classes that have more than 50 percent. of immigrant children. A small band of peripatetic teachers is trying to teach English to these 384 children on two or three days of the week, in temporary class rooms and in conditions that are a disgrace to the nation. In the areas into which the immigrants come there are all the social evils—bad schools as well as bad housing—and the children as well as being taught an alien language, are also required to be taught under some of the worst educational conditions in the country.
In my division there is a slight ray of hope which I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science will commend to the entire country during the coming year. The headmaster of one school has pioneered a new text-book for teaching English which no longer concentrates on the traditional formula of the "nannie" wheeling the pram in St. James"s Park, the titled child feeding the swans, and all the other pictures that I am sure all of us can remember from the days when we learned to read.
The text book—"Living Together" and that is the spirit of the book—is the story of five children in the Sparkbrook division, two of them being English and three being immigrants. It shows their daily lives, their daily habits and practices. As well as teaching the children to read, it teaches them to realise that the little West Indian girl, the Pakistani girl and the Indian boy behave in the same way as the ethnic Birmingham children; that their habits are not all that different; that there is a great similarity, a great community of interest and a great human bond between them. It is the object of that headmaster and his devoted staff to produce a race of children who, in 15 or 20 years" time, will still remember that we are all basically the same, and that we should, and can, live together in harmony and tranquillity.
The real division in the House today is between those who want to see the object of this book come about and those who do not; those who look forward to a general and genuine assimilation in education, and those who reject it because, despite what I hope have been conciliatory remarks this afternoon, I cannot forget that there are hon. Members who have specifically rejected the idea of integration and who have said—and I think that I quote with some accuracy—"I do not want to live in a coffee-coloured society." 385 The great division here this afternoon is not between those who sit on one side of this Chamber or the other, but between those who, accepting the problem, and accepting the need to take practical and physical steps to remedy it, look forward to a solution confined to the people born in this "tight little, right little island," and those who accept the necessity for a greater bond of friendship and understanding between us and our Commonwealth partners. I hope that I come in the second category, and I believe most sincerely that the vast majority of hon. Members come into it, too.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Fisher (Surbiton)
I am very glad indeed to be able to follow the hon. Member for Birmingham, Spark-brook (Mr. Hattersley), because I agree with very much of what he has said and I liked very much, if I may say so, the way in which he said it. He is playing a very knowledgeable and constructive role in this difficult problem and, in doing so, he is putting the House of Commons very much in his debt. I was one of those who, in company with hon. Members opposite, opposed the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill. I have no doubt, in retrospect, that I was wrong to do so, and I publicly recanted, if that is the right word, and explained why when we debated the subject in November last.
I am myself a believer in a bipartisan approach to the problem. I think that as far as possible it should be taken out of party politics, but I must say that it would be easier to achieve this if the Government were prepared to wipe the slate clean; if they were prepared to say that they were wrong to have opposed the 1962 Bill.
It is a very difficult thing for a Government to have to say—perhaps my right hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan) was asking a little too much—but the hon. Member for Sparkbrook has this afternoon made the most generous personal acknowledgment which will, I think, make it much easier for some of my hon. Friends to discuss the subject in a constructive and non-party spirit, which I am sure we should all try to do.
For myself, I do not mind in the least whether or not hon. Members opposite recant, because I think it important to look forward to the future in this matter 386 and not backward to the past. I appreciate, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) said, that this is an immensely important political issue, but does it really suit any party to make it a party political issue, and does it suit Britain and the Commonwealth to do so? I believe not.
In the short term, it would probably suit any party to adopt a very touch, very restrictive anti-immigrant policy. It would be popular, and I am sure that either party could win an election on it—one election. But I am sure that it would be a short-term electoral advantage. I may be wrong, but I have always believed that the way to win an election is to obtain the support of the middle-of-the-road, uncommitted voter. If I am right in that belief, I am sure that the electoral advantage would be short lived. In the end, it would lose support, and would deserve to lose it, because it would be wrong, and because the policy would actually have encouraged and perpetuated racial prejudice in Britain by tacitly accepting it as part of a party"s philosophy.
As long as Colin Jordan is the only advocate of prejudice in Britain it does not worry me very much, but if one of our great political parties, by making this an election issue, gave respectability to prejudice, we should be sowing a bitter seed of racial hatred and strife for future generations to reap. I am sure that we shall not do that.
This does not mean that we should be inhibited from putting forward a party policy on immigration. I agree entirely with my right hon. Friend who made such a brilliant opening speech, on this matter. Of course we should do that. The Government must do it, and the Conservative Party is under a duty also to do it as the alternative Government of this country. What it does mean is that this policy should not be merely negative and should not pander to prejudice. It should be positive and constructive and liberal-minded. If all parties are working along those lines—I am greatly encouraged by this debate to believe that we are very much ad idem in this approach to the problem—there is much upon which we can agree.
I noticed with interest that last week the Daily Mail National Opinion Poll 387 gave a fairly substantial majority of the country as being in favour of keeping this issue out of party politics; 55 percent. were in favour of that course and 33 percent. were against it.
As my right hon. Friend said, any solution of the problem must fall into two parts—the control upon entry and the more postive aspect of the assimilation or absorption, as I think my right hon. Friend very aptly phrased it, of migrants already here. They are two distinct problems, but they are inter-connected and we should always talk about both at the same time and not select one or the other.
I want, first, to say something about the control of entry. There are about 45,000 or 50,000 Commonwealth immigrants now entering Britain every year. Until we can make some progress with assimilation and until, above all, we can do something about housing, I think that this is probably too many. However, I hope that we shall not get into an arid discussion about some arbitrary number to fix upon. We should look, rather, at the categories. I think I am right in saying that no C voucher holders have been admitted since the Government took office last October. As to the A"s and the B"s, I agree very much with the hon. Member for Birmingham. Northfield (Mr. Chapman), who gave the House some very interesting statistics. The hon. Gentleman always does his homework. I believe that only 14,000 voucher holders of all types were admitted in1964. If I am wrong, I shall be corrected.
There could of course be an immigration pause on A and B voucher holders, as there is at the moment on C voucher holders: but it would be a "cutting off your nose to spite your face" sort of policy and it would make things very difficult indeed for London Transport and for our hospitals, in particular. Moreover—and this is more important—it would deal with what is now only a relatively minor aspect of the problem, because of the 45,000 entrants last year I understand that 37,000 were not workers at all. They were dependants.
Therefore, the question arises—we must face it—whether we should 388 dramatically curtail the entry of dependants. I myself do not think that we should because, as my right hon. Friend said, to do so would be to perpetuate social problems which carry their own dangers. I think that we should tighten up on dependants and interpret what we mean by "dependants" much more strictly than we are doing at present. In my view, dependants should be limited to one wife and to young children with perhaps, in addition, a special what I might call compassionate classification, to admit special cases of other dependants after investigation. "Dependants" should not normally include other relations, sometimes not very closely related and sometimes not very young.
I believe that we should also have positive checks on cheating. I was very glad to hear what the Leader of the House said about this. Evasion, mainly I suppose by students, is running at the rate of about 5,000 a year.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir Frank Soskice)
Between 9,000 and 10,000 in 1964 and about 900 in 1963, so far as we can judge. They were not all students.
§ Mr. Fisher
I was perhaps oversimplifying it and getting it wrong when I said 5,000 a year, but the figures the Home Secretary gave, if spread over the two years, would give that aggregate result.
As the Leader of the House told us, many students who come here for courses of study are staying on and taking jobs. This adds to our problem, but it is also inimical to the best interests of the countries of origin, which desperately want these young people back as soon as they are qualified. If there are loopholes, as I believe that there are, I believe that they should be closed if necessary by amending legislation if it cannot be done by administrative action.
As to health, I am one of those who advocate health checks in the country of origin rather than at the port of entry in Britain. To be effective, these would have to be carried out by health teams sent out from Britain to the principal exporting countries of the Commonwealth.
389 I turn now to the assimilation of those already here. I warmly welcome the Prime Minister"s appointment of a ministerial co-ordinating committee, and in particular, the personal appointment of the hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Foley), because I know how well the hon. Gentleman will do it. This was needed, and I am sure that the Committee will do very useful work. I was very glad to hear from the Leader of the House that the hon. Gentleman is to go to Holland to study the problem there and what the Dutch have done about it. This is exactly the sort of approach he should make.
I hope that one of the things that the hon. Gentleman will study in this country is a point made by the hon. Member for Northfield. I believe that he should look at the possibility of recruiting more immigrants into the public service and into jobs which are in the public eye. After all, bus and underground workers here have had a great success and have been very well received by the public. I believe that we should extend recruiting to such categories as postmen and—I hope very much policemen in the public service and to shop assistants and others in he private sector, people who come into contact with the public. It has been said already that for immigrants, particularly from the Asian countries of the Commonwealth, there is clearly a need for more teachers trained to teach English.
In a different category of action is the racial discrimination Bill which is being prepared. I remember that in the old days, when it was not so fashionable from my side of the House to say nice things on this subject, I was at one time a sponsor of Lord Brockway"s original Private Member"s Bill, so I naturally welcome the idea of the Government Bill on this subject. Legislation to change people"s prejudices is a very difficult thing to introduce and a very difficult type of legislation to enforce, but it may have come psychological value, and, subject to what the Bill may contain, I hope very much that my party will support it on Second Reading.
I agree very much with my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) that its purpose should he not to punish, but to influence and alter discriminatory conduct. I do not think that breaches of it should be 390 the subject of criminal prosecution. I should have thought that the matter might best be dealt with by a statutory tribunal which could inquire into complaints and mediate privately between the parties concerned. As hon. Members know, this has been done in America and Canada very successfully, where the great majority of such cases are settled amicably and privately without reference to the courts and without even being heard in public.
There are some positive steps which could be taken in the local authority field. I am thinking especially of the provision of more council welfare officers. Willesden has always been one of the most successful of the London boroughs in dealing with immigrant problems. One of the reasons for this is that the Willesden Council employs a full-time West Indian welfare officer. There is no doubt that other areas with large migrant populations should do the same, but this all adds to the cost and of course to the rates. I believe that central Government funds should be made available to councils in whose boroughs immigrants have settled, in order to encourage and make possible a positive approach to this aspect of integration.
All these measures, although helpful in themselves, are really of minor importance compared with the central problem of housing. I do not think that boroughs with large migrant populations can fairly be expected to rehouse overcrowded immigrants solely from their own rate resources. In addition to the provision of hostels for single immigrants, there is need for extra finance from central Government funds for areas of large immigrant concentration. This, in my view, should be for housing generally, for additional houses for British people as well as for Commonwealth immigrants, and for the modernisation and improvement of houses as well as for new building.
But it is, I confess, a great deal easier to talk about providing new houses than actually to do it. We all know of the shortage of labour and materials, quite apart from the financial side, and until we can make physically some progress with the housing difficulty we must, in fairness to those already here, limit more effectively the influx of new arrivals.
391 I therefore come back, finally, to the crucial question of control of entry. If we can agree upon an entry policy I am sure that we can agree about the rest, and I am sure that it is in the interests of the immigrants, of Britain and of the Commonwealth that we should agree on these matters wherever we can. This issue is a challenge to our tolerance as a people and to our statesmanship in this House. I pray that we shall be wise enough to meet and surmount it.
§ 6.51 p.m.
§ Mr. David Ennals (Dover)
It is a privilege to follow the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher). Both in this Chamber and in his work outside he has made over the years a very notable contribution to the cause of racial co-operation and the integration of immigrants in this country. All of us on this side of the House would want to pay tribute to what he said and what he has done. I would find it difficult to disagree with much of what the hon. Member said. When he spoke of the importance of trying to take a bipartisan approach and searching to see how far we can speak as a House of Commons rather than as parties, I go with him the whole way.
There are, of course, points on which we disagree, but we are dealing here with a subject which appeals to intense emotions that, if we allow them, can lead to intense antagonism and deep feeling. I am glad that we have gone a long way from the mood of the hustings and that we are able to deal with this subject with great reason and moderation.
I hope that the House will not object if, for a moment, I set the debate within the context of the world situation. The debate is taking place at a time when the world is watching the struggle for equal rights of all peoples in the United States. The march from Selma is half-way through its course, and I think that we all in the House and in the country have admired the courage and forthrightness of the stand taken by President Johnson. It would not be inappropriate to refer to two sentences from his speech last week, because they have some lessons for us.
The President said:Rarely are we met with a challenge, not to our own growth or abundance, our welfare or security—but to the values and purpose and 392 meaning of our nation. The issue of equal rights for the American negro is such an issue, and should we defeat every enemy, double our wealth and conquer the stars and still be unequal to this issue then we shall have failed as a people and as a nation.I believe that those words are as true for us as they are for the people of the United States, although we recognise that we are living here in a different situation. But we are living in a world in which racial issues are becoming more divisive than ever before.
I welcome the speech made yesterday by Mr. Arnold Smith, foreign affairs spokesman for Canada, when he spoke of the dangers of the division of humanity on sharp racial lines and of the tremendous constructive rôle of the Commonwealth in bridging this gap. I believe that there is a tremendously constructive rôle for the Commonwealth to play, but Britain is not fitted to lead this movement for racial harmony if we do not ourselves show courage and imagination in tackling immigration problems within our country.
While conscious of the problems that exist in 30 or 40 towns in this country—and my constituency is not one of them —we should not exaggerate them in comparison with the size of the country. About 1.5 percent. of the population is coloured. The problem is manageable.
The problem is twofold. First, it is by what means and to what extent we can control immigration, and by what means we can assure complete equality for all citizens, whatever their colour, once they are here. In facing both these problems we must be guided by our principles. There are some people, not of this House, who speak with anger and some prejudice and who wish to stimulate the prejudices of others. It is no harm for us to speak up here as elsewhere for the things in which we believe, for the basic qualities of mankind, whatever their colour, creed or race and for the right of all to freedom and equality whatever their background may be. Unless we start from these principles and unless, as one of my hon. Friends has said, we ourselves believe in these principles we cannot find a way to a genuine solution.
The first question is: have we the right to control immigration into Britain? I believe that we have the 393 right and that we must use it, on economic grounds, on employment grounds, for reasons of our housing problems, and for reasons of an excessive population. Each of these is a reason for restricting immigration into the country, but I would not believe that race is one of those reasons. As we have recognised, the inflow has already been greatly reduced by the bringing into operation of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act.
If we look at the net inflow, using a different set of figures, subtracting the migrants who have left from the immigrants, we get an interesting picture. In 1959, the net inflow was 44,000; in 1960, it was 82,000; in 1961, it was 170,000; in 1962, it was 136,000, and, in 1963, only 10,000. We have come down to a very small figure in terms of our total population.
As already said by my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council, the Government have admitted only those with vouchers A and B and their dependants. No holders of C vouchers have been admitted. As my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) said, last year only 14,000 A and B voucher holders were admitted. There are some people still who say that we must stop the flow altogether. The right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) used the term "drastically reduce". We must question him, not in terms of figures, on what he really means and what would be the effect on us if this were done.
In 1963, and again I look at people who left as well as people who came in, 2,813 teachers left for other parts of the world from Britain and 1,659 teachers arrived as immigrants. That is about half the gap. The gap would have been twice as big had we not had those teachers coming in. In 1963, 3,159 nurses left Britain to go to work in other parts of the world and 1,428 came in. Nearly half the gap was filled by new immigrants. In 1963, there were 1,012 professional engineers who left this country to work elsewhere and 544 came in. Again, more than half the gap was filled. The same is true of chemists; 335 left and 151 came in.
To those who say that we should stop all people of skill and knowledge coming into this country I put the question: do 394 they also say that we must stop people of skill and knowledge going out? If we do the one without doing the other, we shall have a brain drain without any flow of brains coming back to fill a vital place in this country. As my hon. Friends have said and as is, I think, recognised on both sides of the House, it would be a bad day for the Health Service if, suddenly, there were no Commonwealth immigrants here to help us. It would be a bad day for our transport services, too, and for many industries in various parts of the country.
We must not totally stop the movement of skilled people. I agree with the hon. Member who suggested that we might give priority to special occupations, and I agree, also, that we should encourage those who come over here and work for a period without necessarily intending to stay to return to their own countries with the skills which they have gained. But to stop or, I believe, drastically to reduce the flow in an area in which there is small room for manoeuvre would be most unwise.
I very much welcome, on the other hand, the strong line taken by the right hon. Member for Monmouth about dependants. Dependants, wives and families, must be allowed to join their menfolk. If wives and children are separated from husbands and fathers, great social and human problems are created. I give one example. The statistics show that the number of cases of venereal disease among coloured immigrants falls as soon as families start to arrive. Much the same sort of thing is true in several other aspects of our social life.
I agree that we must consider carefully who are members of families. I do not believe that second cousins should come, but I am not certain that I go so far as the hon. Member for Surbiton when he almost suggests, as I understand him, that he would not have "grannies" coming in. In some societies, "grannies" have a very useful place, and I should not myself draw the line at useful "grannies" coming in as part of the family team.
What we have to do is to stop all forms of evasion. I welcome the announcements already made by the Government about the ways in which this is to be done. It affects students. We have all heard of examples of so-called students who have managed to get a letter from a college 395 saying that they would be welcomed, but who, having come here, have never reported for their studies but have simply settled down in some part of the country unknown and undetected. I am glad that we are tightening the control and accepting only genuine students, not bogus ones.
I was glad to hear the Leader of the House say that we shall grant students entry for a limited period, because it is vital that those who come over here from the Commonwealth to study must be given every inducement to return to their own countries. We cannot afford a brain drain, but neither can those Commonwealth countries send people here who then do not return to give their homelands the benefit of the experience which they have gained. I welcome the decisions which the Government have taken in this matter.
I warmly welcome, as many right hon. and hon. Members have, the decision that Earl Mountbatten of Burma is to lead the mission to the Commonwealth. No better man could have been chosen for the purpose. As is well known, it has always been our feeling on this side that it was most urgent and important to try to secure as much agreement with the Commonwealth countries as we possibly could, not only on ways in which they could limit the flood, but in preparing the way for those who do come. I agree with the suggestion that we ought to try to ensure that health checks are conducted before departure rather than after arrival. The announcement that immigration officers are to be posted at some of our offices overseas is excellent.
A few words now on the second aspect, the stress which must be laid on the need for an active policy on assimilation. Many proposals have been put forward by hon. Members from both sides, and I shall not repeat them. I endorse the welcome given to the new job for my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State, Department of Economic Affairs. It is a new job on top of the other jobs which he has, but I know from personal experience, as other hon. Members do, that the service which he has rendered in these matters and the knowledge which he has gained makes him quite the most suitable person for the task. His appointment has been welcomed on both sides of the House.
396 As my hon. Friend the Member for Northfield said, there are jobs to be done by almost every Ministry. There is responsibility as regards housing, there is that need for special help for authorities with special problems in terms of housing—I agree with the hon. Member for Surbiton on this—there is the importance of establishing liaison officers and welfare officers working with local councils, the need to give special attention to health problems, among immigrants, and there are the education problems.
I pay tribute to the work of the many voluntary organisations which have played their part in the establishment of welfare and racial integration councils up and down the country. I hope that my hon. Friend, in his new assignment, will do everything he can to help these integration councils. All of us, whatever our religion, whatever our politics and whatever our other associations, must find ways of bringing the work of these voluntary organisations into even greater life and activity. I pay a tribute also to the Commonwealth Immigrants Advisory Council which has set a very fine lead by its work.
Like other hon. Members, I await with great interest the Bill to make illegal racial discrimination in public places and incitement to racial hatred. We must be vigilant. The force of the law is necessary to stop the growth of dangerous racial tendencies which could worsen the situation in this country. But the problem can be dealt with ultimately not by negative restrictive means, but by positive action, and it is this which will decide whether we can win the battle against racial discrimination.
I welcome all that has been said in the debate to bring into it a mood of reason and harmony and to take the sting out of the party battle. For me, this has been one of the most fruitful and constructive debates in which it has been my privilege to take part.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ Sir Cyril Osborne (Louth)
I shall follow the hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Ennals) in looking at the situation in its world context. So far, this has not been done. First, however, I wish, if it is not out of place, to congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) on his brilliant speech—I wish that I could make one 397 like it—and for the moderate and temperate way in which he put the case. When we get back to power, he will make a very good Home Secretary.
What worried me was the statement by the Leader of the House that there were a great number—I estimated over 500,000, and he agreed tentatively, though there may well be as many as a million—who are entitled to come here but over whom we have no control. The right hon. Gentleman agreed that there were 500,000, perhaps more. The Government do not know how many there are. This is what terrifies me and has terrified me for very many years.
I hope that the House will forgive me if I try to put the problem from the point of view of the English working-class people who live in the industrial centres and who have had to bear the social consequences of this terribly difficult problem. So far, only the point of view of the immigrants has been put. I shall try, as I have done over the past ten years, to put the point of view of the English family who have had to put up with the consequences of this intractable, almost insoluble problem. My right hon. Friend began by quoting from The Times of a fortnight ago. I hope that the House will allow me to quote from The Times of ten years ago.
I wrote to The Times on 10th February, 1955. I commend what I said to hon. Members on both sides of the House who are now appealing for an all-party approach. I wish that we had been given that approach ten years ago when I appealed for it. My letter concluded:This difficult and many-sided problem will not be solved by being ignored. Surely it is of such far reaching magnitude that Parliament should turn itself into a Council of State and fashion a policy to deal with it which will have the support not only of the official Opposition and the Government but also of responsible trade union leaders.I did not get any support then. I was called a Fascist in the House for saying those things. I think that I am entitled now to justify what I have done in the last ten years. On 5th December, 1958, I introduced a Motion calling for the control of immigration. I said that we should restrict immigration of all persons, irrespective of race, colour or creed. I said: 398I should like, first, to stress what is stated very clearly in the Motion, that this restriction shall apply irrespective of race, colour or creed. I recognise that this subject is political dynamite"—That was in 1958, and I was called a Fascist for saying it.
§ Sir C. Osborne
I will give the HANSARD quotation. I went on, in 1958—and therefore I shall try to handle it with the same care and sense of responsibility that I should observe if it were real dynamite. I also recognise that this country is engaged in trying to build a multi-racial association which, if it succeeds, will be a pattern for the whole world."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th December, 1958; Vol. 596, c. 1552.]I could not have made a more moderate or more responsible approach, and for this I was shouted down in the House more than once and I had to appeal to the then Leader of the Opposition for a fair hearing. I am entitled now to say something about these things. For more than ten years I have begged this House—my own side as well as the party opposite—to face this problem, which haunted me, as it still haunts me, because I could see the social evils.
§ Sir C. Osborne
Let me make my speech. I could see the social evils that the ordinary working-class man and woman and their family would have to bear. Therefore, I support strongly the proposal of my right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth that we should tighten up the controls and that we should drastically reduce the numbers who are coming in. I would like some control of that 500,000 to 1 million people over whom at present we have no control—and, indeed, of whom we have no real knowledge of their number.
I would like to refer to the general principles I have stated in the last ten years. The first is that everybody irrespective of race, colour or creed, is equal before the law and is entitled to be protected and respected by the law. Secondly, I have said time and again that those who stir up racial hatred, whether it be on ground of colour or anti-semitism or anything else, should be punished with the utmost severity of the law. Thirdly, I have said that those already here must be helped to live in the community and 399 to integrate into the community. These things I have said time and again.
But, having said these things, we must face the real issues which have so far not been touched. These lie in the problems of race, colour and religion allied to the startling growth in world population plus the terrible poverty in Afro-Asian countries. Unless these problems are fully overcome they will tear the human race apart. They will cause a war that will make other wars look like child"s play.
So far we have to admit to ourselves that good men and women throughout the world who have tried to solve these problems have so far been defeated and that the problems are not merely a matter of black versus white. We have these problems in Kashmir, with Hindu versus Moslem. We have them in the new East African states, with Asian versus African. We have them in Ceylon—perhaps worse there than in any other part of the world—with the Ceylonese versus the Tamils. We have them in South Africa and in the Southern United States—black versus white.
I have pleaded for so long and have asked, "Why should we bring these problems that good men everywhere have so far failed to solve unnecessarily into our country?" I would like to give the House a few figures that will show the size of the overall problem as I see it. The immigration problem is only one tiny aspect of the great world problem. The United Nations recently published figures of what we call the population explosion.
It is estimated that the human race first touched about 1,000 million people in 1840. It took 80 years—to 1920—to double to 2,000 million. In the next 40 years, to 1960, it reached 3,000 million. By the year 2000 there will be 6,000 million and in the year 2030 there will be 12,000 million souls on this planet. This is an enormous pressure which will come partly on our own country and with which we must deal.
The United Nations estimates that the general world population is increasing at about 2 percent. per annum. With geometric progression, this means doubling the population every 35 years. In the Indian Peninsula there are 550 mil- 400 lion people and it is estimated that, by the end of this century, it will contain over 1,000 million people. In 70 years" time there will be over 2,000 million people in the Indian Peninsula alone—and under the old rule they all would have been entitled to come to this country.
§ Sir C. Osborne
These are the facts. The hon. Gentleman laughed ten years ago. It is not a funny problem but the most serious problem facing the world. Britain today has a population of 55 million people. It is true that our population is not increasing so rapidly as the Asian and African populations but, within the lifetime of children now living there will be 100 million people in these islands.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Mr. Maurice Foley)
Do the United Nations figures say that Great Britain will have a population of 100 million by the end of the year? Will this be the total population?
§ Sir C. Osborne
I said, this century. I think that I might be given a fair hearing. I said, carefully, that the rate of population growth is not so great in this country as in African and Asian countries. What we must face, however, is that the immigrant population will increase more rapidly than the native English. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman will deny that. It is already happening.
The United Nations gives other figures. The increase of population in African is 2½ percent. per annum; in India it is just over 2½ percent.; in Latin America it is 3 percent. and in China, the biggest nation, with a population of 700 million, the rate is feared to be even higher, although we have no idea as to the actual figure. That is the immense pressure of population facing the world.
The United Nations fears that at the end of the century there could well be 10,000 million people on this earth. 401 Under the old regulations, a fair proportion of those would be allowed to come here freely. [Laughter.] It is no good smiling at this. I have a quotation of Labour Party policy on this issue according to which the Labour Party has no intention of stopping them. This is the size of the problem which I want hon. Members to consider.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation estimated in the early part of the year that with a world population of more than 6,000 million, food production would have to be increased five-fold to provide a reasonable standard of living, but in the last few years world food production has fallen and not increased. One day, in the lifetime of our grandchildren, the problem will be whether there is enough to eat and whether there is enough room, and yet we are unnecessarily bringing this acute problem into our country. [Laughter.] This is no laughing matter.
§ Sir C. Osborne
I hope that hon. Gentleman are not laughing at the problem. Only a lunatic would laugh at this problem.
We often talk about the population explosion as though it were an act of God, or some freak of nature. It is nothing of the kind. It largely results from man"s control of medicine. In the last 50 years, we have largely conquered the old killer diseases of smallpox, cholera, typhoid and malaria which used to take millions of people. In addition, medical science has reduced infant mortality which at one time in Bombay reached the figure of 500 per 1,000 live births and where it is now down to 135 compared with 23 in this country. As other countries reach our standards of social hygiene, the growth in their populations will be something which even a halfwit would not laugh at. It is something so terrifying that it does not bear thinking about.
These vast numbers, with their immense poverty, their deep and deepening poverty, under the old rule were entitled to come here, and I would not blame them for coming here if they could get something to eat. When he wrote his thesis 150 years ago, Malthus said that the world population was kept 402 down by famines, disease, wars and floods. Now we have conquered those things and the Malthusian law no longer operates and the world faces such a terrible problem that anyone who thinks about it must have nightmares. Unless there is some gigantic control of world population, birth control, I do not see any answer. I am stating the world case and giving the problem its world setting from which we cannot escape.
Of course these people come here because of their intense and deepening poverty. The income per capita for Pakistan is £19 per annum, for India, £24 and for this country more than £400—again these are United Nations figures. I have preached this gospel for so long that I know the figures. If I were living in any of those countries, I would come here like a shot, and while these circumstances remain, the honey pot will attract them. If their deepening poverty and great numbers keep driving them here, the only way to preserve our way of life is to have some regulations, for which I have appealed time after time.
Hon. Members on both sides of the House have objected that we could not manage without immigrant labour. Let us face that issue. During the war, this country had nearly 6 million men and women in uniform, fighting. We were also the arsenal of the Western world making armaments for all the free countries. Our hospitals were filled with men who had been wounded in the fighting. And yet we managed without immigrant labour. Why? Because we worked. [Laughter.] Those are the facts.
§ Sir C. Osborne
I do not like to regard the Irish as immigrants. I regard the Irish as British as I am. When I fought in the First World War, I was glad to have a good Irishman at my side. All I am saying is that we managed without immigrant labour then and we could manage now.
But there is another issue which hon. Members must face. If hon. Members opposite say that we cannot manage without immigrant labour, when the children of these families become well educated, 403 as they are entitled to be, they will say that they will not do these dirty and disagreeable jobs and that they want good jobs. What do we do then? Do we bring in more and more uneducated immigrants to do the jobs for us? Is there to be an endless stream? A nation which will not provide its own services in a Welfare State.
Yesterday, the House discussed the country"s terrible housing problem, which is a disgrace to all of us, on whichever side of the House we sit. But it is undeniable that a million immigrants have made that housing problem worse, and if we bring in more it will make it even more so. [HON. MEMBERS: "Appalling."] Hon. Members say that that is appalling. As I am nagged at in this way, I will quote a letter which ought at least to quieten hon. Members. It is on House of Commons paper and is headed "Parliamentary Labour Party, House of Commons", and is dated 2nd June, 1961. It says:Mr. Gaitskell has asked me as Secretary of the Parliamentary Labour Party to thank you for your letter of 23rd May. The Labour Party is opposed to the restriction of immigration as every Commonwealth citizen has the right as a British subject to enter this country at will. This has been the right of subjects of the Crown for many centuries and the Labour Party has always maintained it should be unconditional.On that hon. Members opposite voted 46 times against the immigration Bill. I am entitled to ask them when this Gaitskell policy was changed. When did you change it? When did you announce that this change was to be made? When did you run away from this statement by Mr. Gaitskell?
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Observations must be addressed to the Chair. I have not run away from anything.
§ Sir C. Osborne
I am sorry Mr. Speaker. I meant to refer to hon. Members opposite. I had not intended to quote this letter, but I had it up my sleeve in case I was attacked. Hon. Members opposite say that we ought to have a non-party approach to this problem, but who brought in the party approach? Who is responsible for it?
We face a terrible, difficult and tragic problem. We will not overcome it either 404 by laughing at it or ignoring it. I beg hon. Members to look at the world facts which press on us, for if we do not our children and our grandchildren will curse us for our moral cowardice.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Dr. M. S. Miller (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
There has been an aura of cooperation and peaceful tranquillity in most of today"s speeches. We began with that of the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft), in whose mellifluous voice was sweet, cool reason. There were, however, one or two bites in what he said. He asked for drastic reductions to be made in the scale of immigration. We are perhaps entitled to know what he means by "drastic". Does he mean that immigration should be stopped altogether? His speech was a curious blend of tolerance and a certain amount of antipathy, but I think that there were miscalculations on his part about certain aspects of the problem. But, like my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), I, too, from my own unexalted position, welcome the speech which he made.
The right hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) made some remarks about the necessity for changing the atmosphere of any debate associated with racial discrimination. Very gallantly, he gave words of advice to a Jewish ex-Service men"s organisation about, as he put it, rude remarks which might be made. No one really worries very much about rude remarks. What people do worry about, what matters and what probably these ex-Service men wanted to do was to put a stop, not to rude remarks, but to incitement to racial hatred and violence, which is a different story.
I should like to say a few words about some of the things which my hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook said. He talked about integration and assimilation as though he meant the same thing. I would agree that integration is absolutely essential, but I would not agree that it should necessarily go as far as assimilation, making people like each other to such an extent that they lose their own identity. I do not think that our immigrants wish this, nor do I think we consider it desirable.
405 In my experience—I say this honestly and deliberately—I have found no difference between the various groups in the way in which they settle down and integrate in the community. I have not found the difference between West Indians, Indians, Pakistanis and other groups which other people seem to have found. I have been associated with all these groups for a long time both in medical practice and in my constituency. I have found that each of them brings to the country to which he has emigrated something which enriches our society. I thought at one time that the opposite to what was said about West Indian immigrants applied—that their colourful flamboyance was something which people did not like. I like all the differences which these people bring to our society.
Everyone agrees that we have two problems. The first concerns the physical capacity of our small country to support a large increase in population, and the second concerns the integration into this community of those immigrants who are here and those who will come. But the trouble is that a third factor enters into our deliberations and, to a greater or lesser extent, prevents an objective appraisal. This factor is prejudice, which is an attitude of mind leading, perhaps, to discrimination, which is action against individuals or groups.
I should like to bring a little scientific theory and fact into the debate. According to Professor Robb, prejudice is defined asnot a negative concept, an absence of knowledge, but rather something positive, the fulfilment of a need".Another authority, Dr. Michael Banton, says that the cause of prejudiceis in the subject, not in the object of prejudice. It is an irrational, pathological phenomenon, rising from the individual"s own inadequacies and resulting in displaced aggression".This is using the word "prejudice" in its strongest sense. I agree that words have shades of meaning and that it often depends on the context in which they are used.
I believe that to a very great extent the word "Prejudice" does not apply today as it applied in the past. Perhaps "anti- 406 pathy", which is the opposite of sympathy, would be a better word in many respects. Nevertheless, there are people who, in the face of much evidence to the contrary, believe in white superiority, even in potential. It has been established that the result of intelligence quotient testing among people of different environments depends to a considerable extent on the environments and the established conventions of the people being tested. It is amazing how often people become prejudiced only when it is pointed out to them that they should be prejudiced. One often finds two children, one coloured and the other white, playing very happily and it is only when someone tells the white child that he should not be playing with the other child because of its colour that prejudice begins to build up.
In the United States, white American children and American Indian children were subjected, in a series of experiments, to certain tests. In one they were asked to draw a man and a horse. The Indian children did very well in drawing a horse and not so well—at least not as well as the white children—in drawing a man. The Indian children drew a much better horse because in their environment they were much more used to dealing with horses than the white children.
In another test children were shown pictures and were asked to indicate what was missing. When they were shown a picture of a house without a chimney, the children from the northern States could pick out the fact that there was no chimney, but children from sub-tropical America found it much more difficult to decide what was missing because their dwellings do not have chimneys.
In Scotland, children in the Hebrides —and I say this without casting any doubts on the intelligence of the people whom my hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan) represents—were found to be slower than children from industrial cities in completing certain tests. This was not because of inferior intelligence, but because in the areas from which they came there was no premium on speed. It did not matter whether things were done a little bit later or not. In the United States, in certain Indian tribes the parading of knowledge is considered bad taste when other people are present who do 407 not know the answer, and therefore children there often refuse, on this ground, to answer questions to which they know the answer.
In New York, Peterson and Lanier were able to demonstrate that there was no average difference in intelligence between white and negro children whom they examined. In 1950, in New York, T. W. Adorno and others tried to define the characteristics of the personality which absorbs impressions, distorts them, and then becomes a believer in discrimination. There are nine of them I shall not weary the House with the complete list, but here are some of them. First, conventionalism—rigid adherence to middle class values. Secondly, authoritarian submission—submissive, uncritical attitude towards idealised moral authorities of the in-group. Thirdly, authoritarian aggression—a tendancy to be on the lookout for, and to condemn, reject, and punish people who violate conventional values. Fourthly, power toughness—preoccupation with the dominance-submission, strong-weak, leader-follower dimension. So much for my little incursion into the realm of science.
No one wishes to sweep problems under the carpet, even delicate matters such as immigration and racial discrimination, but to parade, for all the world to see, ideas of white superiority on the flimsy, contrived, and prejudiced evidence which is all that the white supremacists can offer, is no tribute to the intelligence of the British people, and the less it is publicised the better.
I return to the two problems: first, our physical ability to accept a large number of immigrants, and, secondly, the integration of those whom we do accept. Regretfully, I must accept the proposition that a quart cannot go into a pint, and that completely unrestricted immigration is a practical impossibility, in spite of an outlook on my part which could not be more sympathetic. But this is the only ground on which I concede the necessity for limitation—no other ground—and I will not accept that merely because someone cooks with ghee he should not be allowed into this country.
When I visit an Indian ship, I make a point of having a meal with some of my Indian friends, who all speak perfect English, and who are all British orien- 408 tated as though they considered that were the best thing in the world to be. They cook in ghee, and I enjoy the meals that I have with them. My only reason for supporting limitation is the fact that this island is too small to take in everybody who wishes to come here
There is, I submit, a vast difference between the intentions of the Government and those of many Members on the benches opposite. One cannot get away from the feeling that the actions of some hon. Gentlemen opposite when they were in power were influenced by colour prejudice, or at least by colour antipathy. In Emerson"s immortal sentence:What you are stands over you and thunders, so that I cannot hear what you say.Can we integrate our immigrants into our community? I believe that we can, if by integration we mean, as I said previously, the completion of a whole by bringing together its component parts. It does not mean loss of identity of the various groups. Indeed, I am sure that many Scottish groups have integrated perfectly into Canadian society, into American society, and into Australian and New Zealand society without losing their specific identities, because the Caledonian societies in these countries are flourishing entities and are flourishing parts of the old country.
I believe that these people should be encouraged to keep alive their cultures and their arts to enrich our society. We have done this before. This nation of Britain has taken in and integrated to a considerable extent, and indeed assimilated to a considerable extent Celtic, Roman, Norman and Nordic Norse races, and in the United States they have integrated and assimilated British, Central and Eastern European and many other nations.
I believe that in these very difficult days, days which are difficult for mankind, a multi-racial society has a very much better chance of survival than one which considers itself so superior that it tries to insulate and isolate itself and prevent the mixing to which nature does not object. I am thinking of the little country of Switzerland, which is an almost perfect example of a multi-racial society. It is a country in which there are four different languages, and several different religions and cultures, yet it is prosperous and happy.
409 I agree that there should be dispersal of immigrants in the country. In Committee upstairs we are discussing Highland redevelopment. The population of Scotland today is about the same as it was 25 years ago. Scottish people are moving from Scotland at the rate of 25,000 to 30,000 a year. With the establishing of more industry in Scotland, and the strengthening of communications, not only can this drift South be halted, but repopulation can take place on a multiracial basis. This would be positive action.
I think that many of the difficulties of integration are more an indication of our failure than failure on the part of immigrants. The Government have a duty to make available to their people housing, employment, and social services. The latest position is a challenge to which the Government are responding, and in so doing will go far to overcome the problems which have arisen.
§ 7.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas (Chelmsford)
In common with so many other hon. and right hon. Members who have spoken, I welcome the broad area of agreement on this question which has emerged over the last few weeks, an area of agreement which is found within my party, and which has spread across the Chamber. I think that we are all agreed on the framework of principle within which the immigration problem must be solved. There will be differences of emphasis within this general framework, and so there should be, because this is the House of Commons. We are not parrots, all repeating the same things and the same sentiments.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) on his splendid speech. I do not say that I agree with everything he said, but I am in broad agreement with the spirit of his speech. I venture to say that in an oratorical career which has had an almost alpine range, this speech will rank as one of the highest peaks.
I am deeply appreciative of the restraint of hon. Members. It would be so easy to score off each other, and doubtless we would enjoy doing so. But the casualty in such an exchange would be the nation itself. The positions of 410 both sides of the House have shifted in regard to this problem. The Labour Party strenuously opposed the Commonwealth Immigrants Act in 1962. It may have been mistaken to do so, but at any rate it was an honourable mistake, made in what was thought to be the interests of the Commonwealth.
What my right hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan) was objecting to was not the opposition to the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, but the manner in which that Act was resisted. He was objecting to certain aspects of the campaign at that time. This is a serious point. In the efforts that I have been able to make to promote some kind of inter-party agreement on this subject I have found a great deal of resentment among my hon. Friends, dating back to that period, and to the debates in this House.
§ Mr. St. John-Stevas
Just a minute; I can make my own speech. I am grateful for my hon. Friend"s offer, but I am in no need of his help.
During the course of that campaign Members with impeccable records of social service, such as my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd), were ludicrously accused of being racialists—and there has just been a reference—on my left—to the unfortunate intervention of the Prime Minister early this Session. If this feeling could be cleared away it would be of the utmost help in preparing the way for a really wide measure of agreement between the parties, in both principle and practice.
I do not think that we should ask for a recantation. The word "recant" is an unfortunate one to use, because it has Marian undertones which do not commend themselves to this House or to this country. But if we can have the kind of helpful statement we have had from the hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), made at a slightly higher level, it would facilitate the task of those who are trying to remove party acrimony from the debate.
There has been a change from the acrimony which existed at the beginning of the Session. The initiative has been 411 taken into the moderate and humane hands of the Home Secretary. There is a need for magnanimity on this issue among hon. Members on this side of the House. In this one respect it would be a great mistake for us to imitate the Irish by adopting their elephantine memories. We should not concentrate on the past, because the danger of that is that we may lose the future. I believe that it is the wish of the nation as a whole that we should practise restraint from the party point of view and strive by all the means in our power to find solutions to the extremely difficult problems which are raised by immigration.
I now want to make a non-controversial suggestion. We should be greatly helped if we could have some initiative from the Churches in this respect. The Council of Christians and Jews, on which I am happy to serve as a member, has played a most important part in forestalling the rise of any kind of racial or religious hatred in this country.
In these days of the ecumenical movement what could be more appropriate than some kind of initiative, taken at the highest level, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, and the Moderator of the Free Church Council, so that all the leaders of the Churches could get together and make an agreed statement on this subject?
They could also encourage their members to do work in voluntary service. However much the State may intervene in this sphere the scone for voluntary service remains large and important. It is my view that a moral initiative of the Churches would do much to arouse the conscience of the nation. It would have many of the merits one would hope to see flowing from a law penalising racial discrimination, without having any of its disadvantages.
We are all agreed on the need for strict control. I am in complete agreement with the sentiments expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth on this point. Further, if we are to have control it must be effective and fair. Therefore, we must get rid of evasion, as far as possible. At the moment, there is some confusion about the degree of evasion that exists. We should all be grateful to the Home 412 Secretary if he would deal with this question in some detail and give the House some clear figures on the matter. I am slightly confused by the rather conflicting information that we have had on the point.
I also agree with my right hon. Friend on the need for checks on students. They must be stringent. We must see that these people return to their own countries after completing their studies, not least because their countries urgently need their services. Bogus dependants must be checked and weeded out. Having said that, however, I want to welcome the humanitarian and warm approach of my right hon. Friend, especially on the question of dependants. He has set his face against any separation of families, and I am 100 percent. behind him in that. It represents a notable advance in tackling the whole problem that we should have had that firm declaration today.
The separation of families is intolerable on both compassionate and humanitarian grounds. Is is equally intolerable on social grounds for married men to be separated from their families, and for single men to have no chance of marrying among their own people. The existence of groups of such people constitutes a grave social liability. This is the answer to the argument tentatively put forward by my right hon. Friend the Member for Reigate, that immigrant workers might be allowed here without their dependants on a temporary basis, and with temporary work permits. The great objection to such a course is that such people would have no stake in the country and no social connection with it, and would be a constant source of social instability.
The great need in immigration policy is to preserve the family pattern of the immigrants, and here I would be so bold as to differ slightly from my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher), who spoke on this point. I think that we need the older members of immigrant families as well as the younger members. We need the grandparents as well as the young children, because the older people, in the cultures from which the majority of our immigrants are coming, are, in a very real sense, the guardians of morality and the preservers of ethical standards. Although their economic contribution may be small, their social contribution is very great indeed.
413 There is a backlog of dependants. owing to the number of immigrants who have arrived in this country in the last decade, but that will reduce over the course of time. I do not think that the figure given by the Leader of the House was a very helpful one. It could not have been based on research; it was a guess, and it was the sort of guess which is best avoided. It only creates unnecessary concern, whereas we know that if one were ever to make a graph of this problem over the years, one would see that the graph of the numbers of dependents—provided that the present strict controls are maintained—would go down.
On the question of control, I want to say a word about this vexing phrase, "A drastic reduction". With the greatest respect and with much tentativeness, I would slightly differ from my right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth on this point. I think that it is a question of emphasis, that it stems back to basic economic attitudes, in that my views are basically expansionist and I think that my right hon. Friend has earned a deserved reputation as the guardian of public expenditure. He, therefore, does not see economic expansion as quite such a high priority as I do.
I would join with the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) in questioning—I hope, a little less astringently—the scope for further limitation of vouchers. It is true that the granting of vouchers has already been drastically reduced. Those taken up have fallen from 30,000 in 1963 to under 15,000 in 1964. As the hon. Member pointed out, that over half of those are vouchers in category B, issued to those with special skills—doctors, nurses, graduates of all kinds and engineers—and the other half are issued to those with jobs to go to. As the Leader of the House has told us, the present Government have issued no vouchers at all in category C. Nobody suggests that we should cut out the doctors and nurses whom we desperately need and this leaves us with about 8,000 unskilled people going to jobs which need to be done. Surely we can absorb this?
If I may quote one statistic to attempt to put the question in to some sort of proportion, against that rate of 8,000 a year of unskilled workers coming in, we have 17,000 children born here every 414 week. I should have thought, therefore, that it was within our scope to deal with this problem.
The Leader of the House mentioned the question of reviewing the control of the system of granting vouchers. I should like to put a question to the Home Secretary, because there is a wide sphere of ignorance here. We do not know the principles on which these vouchers are granted and I wonder whether, perhaps, when he comes to reply to the debate, he could say something about that, as to how the Minister of Labour allocates these vouchers and what are the criteria which are used within the Ministry for granting or refusing them.
Having said that about control, I very much welcome the fact that my right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth has made it quite clear that he is not in favour of suspending immigration altogether, that he is not in favour of a morotorium or a pause. I think that that is a most important statement of principle, because, however strict the control is, there is a great difference between strictness of control and a complete denial to Commonwealth immigrants of the right to enter the country at all. There is a great gulf between those two positions and I am very delighted to find my right hon. Friend on what I consider to be the right side of that gulf.
I agree with my right hon. Friend and other speakers that this is an extremely grave problem. It is because I consider it grave that I have interested myself in the problem at all. However, we should get the whole matter into proportion. We should not panic; we should not exaggerate. There is no need for my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) to be terrified. I must say that the prospect of such a redoubtable hon. Member being terrified by anything rather staggers me.
If one looks at the figures, one sees that the proportion of the white population of the country remains at 98.5 percent. and the coloured percentage at 1.5 percent. With strict control, as we have now, surely this is a problem which it is well within our powers to solve? If we cannot solve it, there is something wrong with us. Of course, I know that the problem is greater in some areas because 415 of the greater concentration, but this is precisely why we need a Government-sponsored programme of dispersal to deal with the problem.
But dispersal is only one aspect of tackling the problem. We need urgent social action in such matters as housing, education, employment and health. In common with other hon. Members, I warmly welcome the appointment of the hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Foley) as co-ordinator in this matter, an idea which was put forward some time ago by hon. Members on this side of the House. I am delighted to hear that he will go to Holland to see what the Dutch are doing. If he needs any assistance on the journey from a batman or a valet, I would be very happy to offer my services during that visit. I should very much like to have the opportunity to see for myself what is being done in Holland for immigrants.
Housing has rightly been singled out as a subject of great discord. The central Government must intervene. There is a necessity for special grants of a nondiscriminatory character to those areas which are bearing more than their fair share of the burden of immigration. It is only by such measures that the existing powers against multi-occupation can be made a reality. There are plenty of powers and they are adequate powers, under the Acts of 1961, and 1964, but local authorities will not exercise these powers if the alternative to reducing multi-occupation is to render people homeless. This is the actual situation.
Education is certainly another top priority. I am deeply concerned about the danger of an educational apartheid growing up here, with black neighbourhood schools. We must look very carefully at what I may call the threshold of danger. When there is over a certain proportion of black pupils at a school, the whites take fright and remove their children. That is a subject which the Department of Education and Science should be considering, to see what is the threshold of danger and how we can avoid going over it.
In employment, the real and most crying need is for opportunity to get better jobs. The majority of immigrants at present do menial tasks or manual labour. I think that it is tolerable pro- 416 vided they know that there will be better opportunities for their children. The Minister of Labour, who has such an unrivalled knowledge of the trade union movement, could play a very positive rôle here in making sure that apprenticeship schemes are open to the children of present immigrants. He could also do all in his power to see that the present immigrants get a fair share of the white collar jobs if they are fitted to do them.
I wish to make a point about health. I see no reason why we should not have compulsory medical examinations and compulsory X-ray examinations of all immigrants entering the country, both those with vouchers and those who come as dependants.
All the measures that I have mentioned, these positive measures, are designed to contribute to the assimilation or integration of immigrants into the community but we should be reasonably clear about what we mean by these terms. What I mean is that I should like to see a situation where immigrants enjoy, in practice as well as in theory, full civil rights; a situation in which they play their full part in civic and public life and in all the activities of the community. There is nothing incompatible between that and the preservation of their own domestic culture in the home.
We should not be afraid of diversity of custom. After all it is only a primitive society which needs a high degree of conformity. An essence of the advanced or liberal society is that it can afford a wide degree of dissent. It is precisely this possibility of dissent which makes living in Western liberal society so agreeable to myself and, I am sure, to many other hon. Members on both sides of the House.
I wish to say a word about how our society is being enriched by the immigrants. We are not being undermined, nor is the value of our society being depleted. I attach great importance to this point for the following reason. There is a way of speaking going on—fortunately, not in this House, but outside—which seems to assume that in Britain we have a perfect society on to which these Commonwealth immigrants come and batten. This is a very dangerous frame of discourse within which to carry on a debate. It is right, therefore, to reiterate 417 the importance of the contribution made by Commonwealth immigrants.
I am not going to make a sentimental, ritual genuflection to the nurses, but face the facts and state them as they are. They are quite simple. The National Health Service would collapse were it not for the Commonwealth doctors and nurses working within it. A total of 40 percent. of our doctors up to consultant level come from the Commonwealth, and 40 percent. of the junior hospital staff also come from the Commonwealth. The whole of the Health Service, unsatisfactory though it may be and creaking though it may be, is preserved in being by their services. Furthermore, the whole policy of economic expansion would be slowed down without their help.
More generally, although the immigrants have much to learn from us, we also have something to learn from them. We have something to learn from the cheerfulness of the West Indians which is a real and major contribution to our culture. We have something to learn, also, from the hard work of the Pakistanis and surely we have something to learn about the care of the family from these immigrants. They accept the burden of aged parents as part of a duty which should be discharged by the family as a whole. Surely we can learn something here, where the problem of our older people is loneliness and neglect by their families.
Last of all, we have something to learn from the immigrants" deep religious sense, something which, alas, is weakening in Britain. Many a nineteenth-century Gothic church in the centre or in the suburbs of our great cities has survived for years with a handful of worshippers, but, now thanks to the immigrants, the parsons find that they have congregations once again.
Above all, we must be positive and helpful in our approach. Our attitude should not be, "We are your brothers, but we really wish that you had not come." We should view this problem not in terms of a burden only, although this is a legitimate aspect of the whole problem but as affording an opportunity for help and service. There is a danger that we may so concentrate on the difficulties of the burden that our own moral attitudes will be subtly affected. Let us, for example, not be so concerned with the danger of being 418 infected with tuberculosis that we forget that there is an opportunity to relieve those who are sick and suffering.
Of course, we cannot, by immigration, solve the economic problems of the Commonwealth. That can be done only by capital investment on a scale greater than even this country can support. We can, however, make a small contribution to a very grave world problem, something which is more than a token, because it is a symbol and I believe that a symbol has transforming power. Our attitude to our coloured fellow citizens reflects and mirrors our own moral attitudes. If our attitude is positive and helpful, it can play a part out of all proportion to the numbers involved in finding a just solution to the coloured problem everywhere. Our attitude at home can, therefore, be—and I believe it will be—a major contribution to solving this greatest problem of our times, how men of different colour but of the same human family can work out their destinies in friendship, peace and good will.
§ 8.19 p.m.
§ Dr. Shirley Summerskill (Halifax)
It gives me great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas). With most of his speech I am in agreement, and I hope that in future debates we may find the hon. Member on this side of the House instead of on the benches opposite. In a great deal of the discussion in this debate ideas and extremely worthy sentiments have been aired, but I think we must examine also the facts and figures relating to areas where there is a great deal of immigration and where this problem, if there is a problem, does exist.
My constituency of Halifax, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, is listed among those areas in Britain which have an abnormally high coloured population. It is called an immigration area, so I think that it would be profitable to examine the situation as it is in Halifax, which, I think, may be regarded as a typical Northern Yorkshire town, containing a large number of immigrants. Recently, a Leeds University lecturer undertook a study of immigration in Yorkshire. In Halifax, since 1958, when the Pakistanis first settled there, we have had approximately 1,000 Pakistanis and, according to the 1961 census, we have 2,281 Irish, 419 328 from the sub-Continent of India and 58 West Indians as well as Ukrainian, Polish and Italian immigrants. We are an extremely cosmopolitan town, and all the better for that.
The total number of immigrants in Halifax is 6,354 so we can look at Halifax to see whether integration is taking place and how successful it is. From the point of view of jobs, 90 percent. of our resident hospital doctors are immigrants and, as the hon. Member for Chelmsford said, the National Health Service would collapse completely if these immigrants were not running it. That is certainly true of Halifax"s hospitals.
In Halifax, we have a declining population, along with many towns in the West Riding, where industries, many of which thrived in the past, are declining and where the new growth industries are not coming up. Therefore, we can afford to have people coming in to the town. Indeed, we need them if we are to thrive and prosper. It will be seen, therefore, that we welcome an increasing population if we can obtain it.
At the same time, the overall number of jobs in Halifax has increased by nearly 4,000 since 1960. Again, there is plenty of work for any immigrant to do. The sentiment that they are taking away jobs from resident British people is untrue in Halifax. Indeed, most of Halifax"s Pakistanis are employed in unskilled or semi-skilled jobs in the textile industry and their labour is badly needed. They are not taking up the skilled jobs in the engineering industry, which is the second largest industry in the town.
When considering the housing question, we can look at the facts in Halifax in contrast to the eccentric speech of the somewhat eccentric hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne), who has left the Chamber. He said that the housing position had been made worse as a result of immigrants. This has been shown to be completely untrue in Halifax, which certainly has a housing problem. Almost all the Pakistanis who live in Halifax live away from the town centre. It has been shown that they are housed in places destined for slum clearance and that they are living in the worst houses in the town. Within the immigrant settlement area the houses are mainly back-to-back, stone 420 built dwellings, about 80 to 100 years old. These are the houses which not many other people would wish to occupy. In one part of the town where they live 76 percent. of their houses have no fixed baths, while water lavatories are usually in the yard or at the end of the block.
Among the houses in which the immigrants are living—in 400 of them—there are 292 shared outside toilets and 80 percent. of their houses show signs of dampness. It is obvious from these figures that most of the Pakistanis are living in houses which are scheduled for slum clearance within the next 10 to 15 years. At the same time, Pakistanis who want houses and who have the money to pay for them say that they find it quite easy to obtain them in the town. There is no shortage and they are not taking houses from other people. In fact, they show a preference for owning their own houses and in the town, at the time when the report was issued, only one Pakistani lived on a corporation housing estate and no Pakistanis were on the waiting list for corporation houses. This, again, refutes the idea that immigrants are taking houses away from resident British people.
It was found that the rent they paid varied from 10s. to £2 10s., but there was no evidence of Rachmanism either among the immigrants themselves who are landlords or among the resident Halifax people. Hon. Members may think that I am painting a rosy picture. What I am doing is giving the facts and figures in a town which is regarded as an immigrant town. It is as well to judge from these facts and figures and not from the ideas and suggestions that are sometimes put forward.
There is one problem which we face, which is that many of the beds in Halifax"s hospitals contain immigrants suffering from T.B., but they are not only immigrants to Halifax from abroad, but immigrants from Bradford who have overflowed into our hospitals. The suggestion of the hon. Member for Chelmsford that there should be compulsory X-rays of immigrants to this country would be difficult to enforce because it is hard to ensure at every airport and seaport that immigrants are X-rayed and that they wait for them to be developed because they leave and it is extremely difficult to trace them and ensure that they report back.
421 I urge my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health not to be content with having simply one X-ray machine at London Airport, put there in the hope that immigrants will use it. There should be far more X-ray machines at seaports and airports and more encouragement given to people to use them. In the sphere of health generally, we have a great deal further to go because although immigrants do sometimes bring T.B. in, a great deal of it—indeed, the majority of it—is probably contracted here because of the bad living conditions with which they must put up after they arrive.
From the point of view of social integration in Halifax, we have been extremely successful compared with many other towns. The Pakistanis and other immigrants nearly all have their own social centres which, I understand, are quite good since they do not lead to isolation but give the immigrants the feeling that they have somewhere to go where they can meet people, enjoy themselves and have their own customs around them. The Pakistanis" social life include five coffee bars in the immigrant area and six Pakistani shops have been established for immigrants. I understand that these shops are well used. They also visit "pubs" in the immigrant area and there is no evidence to show that this is not working out well. They go to the cinema and to wrestling shows and have special films in Urdu.
I recommend all these things to local authorities and other towns, because this is the way to get integration of your immigrants without trouble, with friendliness and success. We have in the town four societies which are dedicated to establishing and promoting better international relations. These societies are thriving. Their membership has been increasing and they get particular support from young people in the town, I believe, because young people are extremely internationalist-minded these days and this is the kind of thing which appeals to them as social work and as a way in which they can help other people.
If hon. Members wish to see how integration can work, although we have not found all the answers in Halifax, recommend that they look at a town like Halifax to see the possibilities, to see 422 how this approach is succeeding and can succeed in other towns.
§ 8.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Bernard Braine (Essex, South-East)
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas), with whose sensitive and civilised approach to this matter I believe we all appreciated that out of this helpful and constructive debate a very wide measure of agreement is now beginning to emerge. It is high time that we saw this difficult problem in perspective. Everyone must now be aware that there are certain urban communities which are confronted by an insuperable social problem. Halifax does not appear to be one of them, but it is quite clear that there are some communities which are faced with an almost insoluble problem. This does not mean, however, that if the problem is viewed and tackled on a national basis with a firm lead from the central Government it is beyond our capacity to deal with it.
Some people have talked of immigration into Britain as if it were a new phenomenon; it is not. Even in the 19th century when millions of our countrymen were going overseas—and some 20 million emigrated between 1815 and 1930—we absorbed very large numbers of immigrants from Eastern Europe. Indeed, by the 1930s the trend was reversed and a net outflow became a net inflow. Not only were large numbers of Britons returning to this country but we provided sanctuary here for some quarter of a million refugees from Nazi persecution. When the war came to an end tens of thousands of Poles, Ukrainians and other Eastern Europeans preferred to make their home in this country rather than return to Communist oppression. Such movements of population have always produced local tensions and difficulties, but, in general, these were only temporary and are seen to be of little consequence when viewed against the contribution made by these various groups of immigrants to the economy and to the enrichment of our national life.
What is new about immigration in recent years is that an overwhelming proportion of the newcomers have been coloured. White immigrants are not conspicuously different; coloured immigrants are. From this stems a great 423 deal of the difficulty. Several hon. Members have said that the problem is not a large one and that only 2 percent. of the total population is coloured. There is a danger here in trying to minimise the problem. If the 2 percent. were spread over the country there would be no problem at all, but the peculiar difficulty here arises from the fact that almost the whole of our coloured population is concentrated in some 33 towns and cities and, in some cases, number more than 20 percent. of the population, not 2 percent.
It is inevitable that such a concentration should take place, because immigrants go where they can find work and friends and where it is possible for them to find a roof under which to shelter. But it is precisely because they are immigrants, particularly coloured immigrants, that they have no residential qualifications; no one wants to house them. It is a question of their colour. The Milner Holland Report on Housing in Greater London makes clear that, as far as London is concerned, coloured immigrants encounter greater difficulty than they would if they were white, and often have to pay higher rents on that account. Overcrowding is inevitable. I will quote a passage from the Report:64 percent. of coloured households were overcrowded"—in one area—compared with 29 percent. of the whole estate. … A strict enforcement of overcrowding legislation by local authorities would only add to difficulties and tend to increase the numbers of homeless; rehousing at the expense of those with long standing on a housing list could only lead to dissatisfaction and protest.It is bad enough for our own people living in these areas, and on the fringes of them, to see this happening, to see already bad housing fast deteriorating. It is far worse for them to feel that there is no end to the problem; to feel that black people are taking over, and that the rest of the nation is indifferent to their plight.
I have had, and many hon. Members must also have had, despairing letters from people living in these areas. Such bitterness and frustration, if not dealt with, could engender a highly dangerous and explosive situation, and could blow sky high our national reputation for fair play and tolerance. We therefore have 424 no right to ignore the growing distress of our own people at the continuing influx of newcomers into their own areas.
It could, of course, be argued that a nation has a right to prevent a problem like this arising and that we should have foreseen this difficulty years ago and stopped immigration years ago. But this ignores three basic considerations. First, it has long been a tradition of this country—a noble and an honourable tradition —that Commonwealth citizens were free to come and go without let or hindrance, precisely because we regarded them as British, and not as foreigners. That was a tradition we could not lightly cast aside.
The second consideration is that immigrants do not come here as a result of any organised movement but simply because of a natural desire to escape from the poverty of their own homelands coinciding with an acute shortage of labour in this country. It was, after all, this combination of ambition and opportunity that motivated millions of our own countrymen in the past, and which still motivates emigrants all over the world today.
The third consideration, as has been stated in speech after speech, is that in present conditions—and I stress "in present conditions"—immigrants are meeting a real economic need here. As has been said, without immigrant labour many of our transport services would come to a halt, many night shifts would stop, and many heavy jobs in industry could not be manned. As the hon. Lady the Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill) said, we would have acute difficulty in running our hospitals.
I remember being questioned during the election by a young man who wanted to know whether, if elected, I would demand in Parliament that "the blacks"—which was the term he used—should be sent back home. I noticed that beside him was an attractive young woman in an interesting condition. I said to him, "Let us assume that you are married, that your wife is about to have her first baby and will be going into our local hospital in a fortnight"s time. Is is an important and exciting moment in your life. Tell me—do you want me to press for the black nurses 425 to be sent home now—straight away—or may we leave it until after the baby is born?" Of course, the point was taken at once.
In short, the immigrants are doing jobs here that our own people either cannot or will not do—the difficult jobs, the dirty jobs. Doubtless, these are better paid jobs than the immigrants would ever get at home. Doubtless, in many cases they lack the capacity, the skills and the education to do much better. Not that there is anything strange in this stratification of labour; it has been a feature of migratory movements throughout history. What would be new, and highly dangerous for a country such as ours, would be if we made it impossible for newcomers to improve their positions by ability, diligence and thrift, and for their children to be denied equality of opportunity.
I think the House recognises that there is clearly a limit to the number of newcomers we can take in. I believe that that limit has now been reached. Obviously it makes good social sense to continue to admit wives and small dependent children. I have seen some of the evils of migratory male labour in Africa. It obviously makes good economic sense in present circumstances to bring in people whose skills are in short supply. But more than this we cannot have.
There are two compelling reasons for stopping immigration now, subject to the two qualifications I have made. First, within a decade, perhaps much sooner, we are likely to be faced with a major problem of adjustment to large-scale automation with all its challenging and disturbing effects on patterns of work and leisure. It is possible to argue that, but for immigration, persistent shortage of labour in this country would have forced the pace of automation and would have brought its benefits here much sooner.
This is not idle speculation. I beg hon. Members to consider what has been happening in the United States, where automation is already seriously affecting employment. A combination of computers and automised self-regulating methods of production in industry, opening up prospects of almost unlimited productive capacity, needing less and less labour, is already a fact in the United States. This 426 is the prospect in a country where surplus capacity already co-exists with chronic unemployment.
In the last few years productivity in the United States has consistently risen. Yet unemployment has persistently remained at above 5 percent. Unemployment among teenagers has been rising and now stands, in that great land of opportunity across the Atlantic, at 15 percent. Significantly, unemployment among coloured teenagers is twice as high. I am told that these figures take no account whatsoever of considerable under-employment, and the real wastage of human resources in the American economy is far greater than official figures admit. It is known, however, that both unemployment and under-employment are most marked among the young, the old and the nonwhite. At the same time, automation is gathering momentum very fast.
I want to draw the attention of hon. Members to the warning which the United States Secretary of Labour gave to his fellow countrymen last year:The confluence of surging population and driving technology is splitting the American labour force into tens of millions of "have"s "and millions of "have-nots". In our economy of 69 million jobs, those with wanted skills enjoy opportunity and earning power. But the others face a new and stark problem—exclusion on a permanent basis, both as producers and consumers, from economic life. This division of people threatens to create a human slag-heap. We cannot tolerate the development of a separate nation of the poor, the unskilled, the jobless, living within another nation of the well-off, the trained and the employed.The House should bear in mind that the negroes" struggle for civil rights in the United States is also a struggle for equality in job opportunity. In short, the terrifying problem of race relations in that country is bound up with the still larger problem of how to adjust human beings, whatever their colour, to rapid and sometimes bewildering technological change.
No doubt it can be argued that this is Britain and not the United States, that we ought to be able, out of our superior wisdom, to devise means of utilising the new abundance which automation will bring in a way which will ensure a full life for all, and that the machines will be harnessed to serve man. I would merely say that it is not all that easy, as American experience is showing. I 427 suggest that this should be a warning to us in Britain. We have no right to add to the army of the unskilled, and when we have immigrants here we have no right to debar them from acquiring new skills.
This brings me to my second reason for stopping immigration now. We dare not and must not tolerate for one moment the idea that immigrants who have made their homes here for themselves and their children are second-class citizens whose labour is useful for the time being but whose presence is unwelcome. We have a solemn duty to constructively assist newcomers to adjust themselves to our way of life and we have to face squarely what that means.
It requires something more than speeches and declarations of intent. It means, first of all, a major housing drive in the areas affected, not merely to help the immigrants but to help our own people who were enduring bad housing before the immigrants arrived. It means switching resources to those areas. It means helping the thrifty immigrant who wants to acquire his own house to compete, as he cannot at the moment, on level terms with the rest.
It means dispersal to avoid ghettoes, and this means far more effective cooperation between local authorities than we have seen up to now. It means spreading children over a larger number of schools to avoid segregation in education. It means a crash programme to teach English to immigrants for whom English is not their mother tongue. It means much more stringent health checks at the ports—at the ports of departure not of entry. It means a much more vigorous programme of health education, since we know that because of their lower immunity a very large number of immigrants contract diseases like tuberculosis not in their country of origin but here after arrival. It means practical help to promote understanding within the immigrant areas. It means reinforcement of the wonderful inspiring work carried out by voluntary agencies in those areas now.
I should like to see the suggestion made by the Slough Council of Social Service put into effect in all the immigrant areas. This was that in Slough a community relations officer for immigrants should be 428 appointed without delay. This person would deal personally with family and group problems experienced by immigrants, act as liaison between voluntary organisations, statutory offices, local authority services and the immigrants, and attempt to develop better communications between host and immigrant populations.
We should have the imagination to see that all these tasks cannot be left to the local authorities in the immigrant areas. They did not create these problems in the first instance, and they have not the resources to solve them now. What is needed is an immediate effort by the central Government. We have been given a glimpse today and we are to hear more later of what the Government propose. We await the details with interest.
The situation requires something else —an immense effort of will to overcome prejudice and to ensure fair treatment. This is a psychological problem just as much as it is an economic and social one. A firm stand taken on immigration now by the Government and a declaration by them that they will help people in immigrant areas will do an enormous amount to ease the situation and to prepare for the adjustments which must be made.
I think that some people have tended to over-simplify the issue when they talk about integration. Words like "integration" and "assimilation" are often used in this context without people knowing really what they mean. It will take generations to secure the complete assimilation of the "dark strangers" within our gates. Immigrants differ. Some will be assimilated more easily than others, but it should not be beyond the wit of man to accomplish an adjustment which enables the immigrant who makes his home here and contributes to the economy to feel that he is a citizen with the same rights and duties as the rest and that he is fully accepted as a person. The Government have indicated that they will bring in legislation to outlaw discrimination in public places. As we are on the Adjournment is would be quite improper if I made any comment now on that Bill. We must reserve our judgment anyway until we see what sort of Bill is brought in.
But legislation is not likely to change people"s hearts. What will determine the 429 pace of adjustment is much more likely to be, if I may hazard a view, a combination of various factors: first, the readiness of communities outside the areas of immigrant concentration to accept the idea of dispersal. My impression is that a good many communities are ready, provided that not too many immigrants are dispersed to their areas at the outset. Second, a readiness on the part of employers to give a chance to the really able immigrant and the coloured school leaver. Third, the readiness of the trade unions to treat the coloured worker fairly and help him acquire new skills.
In essence, I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford. This is a moral problem. It is no good saying that we should have avoided it. One might as well say that our forbears should never have founded an Empire, should never have brought alien races within the protection of the British Crown. They did so. We are the people we are today because they took the flag across every sea and traded with every continent. The problem is here. It exists. It concerns us all. It concerns everyone in this country who cares about the health and vitality of our society. We cannot ignore it and we cannot escape from the consequences of its neglect.
I agree, therefore, with all those who say that it presents us with one of the greatest challenges in our history, a challenge which cuts right across all our other differences in the House. If we have the capacity to tackle this admittedly difficult human problem on a truly national basis with firmness and humanity, we shall succeed in overcoming the greatest challenge which has ever confronted us. I believe that we can succeed.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Ivor Richard (Barons Court)
I had not originally intended to intervene in the debate, but, having heard some of the speeches from the benches opposite, I thought that I might make one or two observations.
If I may say so, it is difficult to follow the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine). With a very large part of the sentiment contained in his speech those of us on this side who have thought about this issue and tried in a small way to deal with it would almost certainly 430 agree. With some of his economic arguments, on the other hand, I find myself in great disagreement. There is no economic evidence or argument whatever, as I see it—the United States is not analogous and, if I had more time, I could tell the hon. Gentleman why—for stopping immigrants coming into this country, particularly when the immigrants coming in are skilled people capable of doing the sort of jobs which are available here and for which there is clearly a demand.
The short point is that, if these jobs were not performed by immigrants, they would either not be performed at all or they would be performed by labour drawn from other sections within our community. I know not which. But I am certain that the economic argument which the hon. Gentleman advanced is not a good one.
The debate has been characterised by one great feature. The issue is plainly no longer a party-political one. I am sorry that I did not hear the speech of the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft). I should very much liked to have done so, but I have only had the opportunity of reading it on the tape. But what the right hon. Gentleman said and what other hon. Members opposite have said —I have heard almost the whole of the debate—shows that this is not now a party-political issue. It is the sort of issue on which I would hope that party feelings would not run high.
I made my maiden speech in the House on this issue about six months ago. I confess that, in the course of it, I used intemperate language, language of a sort which, I am told, one should not use in a maiden speech. I said one or two rather unpleasant things about the right hon. Member for Sutton Celdfield (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd). I am sorry that he is not in his place tonight, because, having risen to my feet now, I should have liked in his presence to say that I feel that my language on that occasion was intemperate and went a little too far. I also said one or two things about certain other hon. Members opposite who sit for Birmingham constituencies. I wish that I could withdraw those remarks, too. Unfortunately, I do not find myself able to do so.
We have heard, particularly from the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. 431 St. John-Stevas), what seems to me to be a sensitive and human approach to the problem; we have heard the other half of the approach from the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne). One point raised by the hon. Member for Louth with which I should like to deal, and which it is particularly apposite for me to comment upon, since I represent a London constituency, is the suggestion that immigration has, somehow or other, caused or aggravated the housing shortage.
I invite hon. Members opposite to read the Milner Holland Report. On the face of it, that Report may apply only to London, but I am convinced that the lessons to be drawn from it are also applicable to any of the other great conurbations in England. One of the great things that the Milner Holland Committee did was to prove not that immigration had caused the housing problem but that precisely the opposite had taken place.
The hon. Member for Essex, South-East quoted part of the Report and perhaps I might be allowed to quote another part. In analysing the effect of immigration on the housing problem in the Metropolis, the Report starts by dealing with the housing situation as it is faced by immigrants when they arrive in London and are trying to find accommodation. The first conclusion is a fairly obvious one—that immigrants are low on the list for council housing. Clearly, having just arrived, they have not the residential qualifications and have a low place in the points scheme.
Secondly, the Milner Holland Committee found that it is extremely difficult for immigrants to get private rented accommodation. The Report quotes a figure of 1,258 units of accommodation advertised and included in a survey in August. It was found that 27 percent. —I invite the House to note this in the England of 1965—of the landlords concerned clearly and openly barred coloured people.
Whatever we may think about the merits or demerits of the number of people who ought to be allowed into the country in 1965, the fact that 27 per cent. of the landlords covered by the survey openly operated a colour bar is something of which, as a nation, we should 432 be thoroughly ashamed. I am sure that hon. Members will be ashamed of that figure.
The third point made by the Milner Holland Report is that, faced with the incredible difficulty of finding housing accommodation, the immigrant is driven to buy. What happens then? The Report comments:Unfortunately, these immigrants are all too often the victims not only of their own inexperience and ignorance of the traps which the London housing market lays for the unwary, but also of exploitation by a disreputable fringe of persons making quick profits out of their difficulties, such as the self-styled but quite unqualified "estate agent", the unscrupulous mortgage broker and the providers of loans on mortgage at high rates of interest.Of course, the immigrant is forced into this position. He must have somewhere to live and house his family. Not being able to find a council flat or private rented accommodation—availability of which has gone down, as the Report shows, particularly in London—he must buy. What is the result in human terms in London?
It cannot be said that the immigrants have caused the housing problem. The Report says, on page 202:… immigrants come to London in search of work—and find it, for we have seen no evidence that they are more frequently unemployed or dependent on National Assistance than others in similar occupations.I hope that that statement nails the myth that we heard so much about during the General Election.
The Report went on:If they did not come, either their places would be taken by migrants from other parts of the country, or a large number of essential jobs would remain unfilled.That is something we should remember,The plight of the immigrant is the out-come, and too often an extreme example, of London"s housing difficulties; it is not their cause.I represent a London constituency with a high immigrant population. I say in all seriousness to the Government that, although the immigrant population in London is not the cause of London"s housing difficulties, in terms of dealing with the problem of a coloured immigrant population in Central London I am convinced that housing is the key. People in my constituency are looking 433 to the Government to provide special and quick assistance for these twilight areas, as they have been called, although I believe that to be a bad description. My constituency is the sort of area that must be dealt with. It is the sort of area in which immigrants tend to accumulate.
I hope that the Government can give us some practical assurance tonight of their determination, which we know they have, to deal with this problem and to deal with it urgently. I hope that in 10 years" time another housing report such as the Milner Holland Report will not find 27 percent. of landlords refusing accommodation to coloured tenants in London.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Sir George Sinclair (Dorking)
I find myself in a somewhat unaccustomed position. From my proper place I can look down with some detachment on the Government Front Bench. Speaking from the Opposition Front Bench for the first time, I am glad to do so when the matter is of such deep concern to people all over Britain. For this if for no other reason I believe that we were right to bring this important problem to the House of Commons for public debate and public examination.
I pay a warm tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft), for it was he who took the initiative to seek this debate. All the speeches I have heard today have welcomed the opportunity for bringing this deep emotional problem out into the open and to expose it to the responsibility and restraint and the sense of history of the House.
I would like also to pay tribute to the Leader of the House for the way in which he helped to get the debate under way with a tone which was acceptable to both sides of the House. We wanted to judge this issue in the long term as a moral as well as a practical issue and we are all grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for helping to set the tone of the debate. He also gave us some very valuable figures, if we have had to argue about figures for some of the time.
I also welcome the appointment of the Joint Under-Secretary of State, Department of Economic Affairs, the hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Foley). I saw him smiling when the question of Irish immigrants came up and acknow- 434 ledging that he may have a special contribution to make in this matter.
Every hon. Member who mentioned it also welcomed the appointment of Earl Mountbatten of Burma to head up the commission announced by the Prime Minister on 9th March. Here, I issue one note of warning. More consultation with Commonwealth Governments can be no substitute for a firm policy from the Government of this country, and I hope that the lines of that policy will be made clear before Earl Mountbatten goes out out his trek round the Commonwealth.
All 14 hon. Members who have spoken in the debate have made distinctive contributions. I believe that when HANSARD is read in the years to come the tone of the debate and almost the watershed of the change of attitudes and the coming together of attitudes which the debate has marked will be greatly to the credit of the House. On both sides of the House we are coming closer together on perhaps two main objectives, both of them necessary if we are to have a balanced policy towards immigration and the immigrant communities in our midst— control and adjustment. Of course, there are variations, but I believe that, by and large, we are coming very much closer together. We on this side at least are at one, and I believe that many hon. Members opposite are with us.
First, we on this side seek a great reduction in the inflow of immigrants to give this country time to deal with the problem in a practical and humane way. We must give a clear reassurance on control if we are to expect our own people to tackle the other part of the problem with confidence and good will. Secondly, I think that we are all seeking how best to help immigrants to adjust themselves—and I do not say more than adjust themselves because they, too, have their lives—to life in our community; and how best we may adjust ourselves to the new communities which have recently come to live in our midst. This is a two-way traffic—for these communities bring with them customs which are at first utterly different from ours, and a period of adjustment is essential. I do not believe that it will be half as important when their children come out of the schools which they shared with our children.
435 I am sure that all parties are agreed on one other matter; it came out of the debate today. While stating in clear and forthright terms the policies for which we stand, we are all determined not to seek party political advantage by playing on racial antagonisms. Declarations to this effect by Members on both sides have been a great gain in the debate. We have declared this to be, if I may use the word, taboo.
Today we are dealing with one of the great issues of our time. It is not only a problem of racial differences, although colour and race are very important factors. It is the deeper problem of compatibility between communities with differing and long-established customs, finding themselves, rather suddenly, living together, working together and becoming interdependent. The great differences in customs and outlook are at the heart of this matter. This may be temporary, but it is something which we must face here and now. The process of adjustment is bound to take time, but, as I said, I do not believe that this will be so with the children of immigrants who are educated here.
If these misunderstandings are not resolved, they will lead to tension and conflict. We can all read the frightful warnings from outside of the danger of allowing intolerance and frustration to grow. There have been some warnings in this country. I welcome this debate, because I believe that it will make a contribution to stopping extremism and avoiding those tensions being allowed to develop.
Many of us, having read recent news from the United States, would, I believe, wish to pay a real, deep tribute to President Kennedy and now to President Johnson for their imagination and courage in dealing with their own difficult problem of civil rights. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] But because our own problem is so recent, and because in our country basic political and legal rights are not at issue—and we are fortunate in this—we have, for a short time, an opportunity to get the immigrant communities and our own people moving forward in a concerted effort towards adjustment. This, I believe, describes the process of getting used to each other and mixing our labour and our play. 436 This is bound to be a long haul, and it will make great calls on patience and toleration on both sides. For these reasons, we, on this side of the House, welcome the broad measure of agreement which has emerged during the debate.
I now turn to one of the two other problems on which I wish to speak. That is controls. It is the more urgent side of the problem, but it is less difficult as it involves only Government action. The other part, adjustment, is more difficult, and even more important, because it involves human relationships.
On the tightening up of controls, I believe that we should be firm and clear. We have already heard the figures of arrivals of Commonwealth immigrants over the last few years, and we are very grateful to the Leader of the House for enlarging on what was already known to the House. For the time being—and I emphasise that—we should reduce still further new admissions under the three main categories for whom vouchers are issued.
For that action I would give three main reasons. First, because we need to adjust ourselves to the social problem in our midst. This is an over-riding need. Second, and this is an arguable case, because we already have a hidden surplus of manpower. Both the public and the private sectors of industry are carrying considerable surpluses of underemployed manpower. There will, I think, be no dispute that for the health of both sectors of industry, and for our capacity to compete successfully, both in home and in overseas markets, we need to strip for action, if we are to survive.
This is the opportunity, when new equipment is becoming available, to set more manpower free. Now is the opportunity to retrain and redeploy. [Interruption.] I have said that this is an arguable case. I am making the case on the one side. No doubt if the Home Secretary does not believe in this case he will meet it when he winds up the debate. I believe that we can no longer afford the easy short-term solution of importing additional manpower, which often has the effect of slowing down the healthy process of change. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] I know that some hon. Gentlemen opposite do not agree with me, but I propose to continue my speech. There is another side to that and I shall deal with it when I come to it.
437 We have enjoyed some important advantages by receiving help from our Commonwealth. I listened to the hon. Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill)— and I thought that her speech had a great impact—speaking of the reliance of her town on immigrant doctors. We have been glad to have the help of doctors and nurses, of men and women who work on our public transport, and in some of our factories, but I ask some of the hon. Members who object to this argument to consider also the needs of those countries from whom we are drawing nurses and doctors. I ask them to consult some of the high commissioners of some of the exporting countries.
We should now take further steps to reduce our reliance on continuing reinforcements of Commonwealth immigrants. This is a gradual process. I doubt whether our economy will founder because of a substantial reduction in the number of 14,000 voucher holders who came in last year.
§ Sir G. Sinclair
If it is chicken-feed our economy will not founder because of it. In the longer term this reduction should be a factor in forcing us to make better use of the manpower we already have, including the immigrants who are part of our community.
The third reason is that additional manpower from outside, combined with the results of our own rising birth rate, is putting extra burdens on our already overstretched resources in housing, transport, health and education in an island that is already overcrowded. That, if I remember, the hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) gave this as his main reason for subscribing to the doctrine of control.
§ Mr. Hattersley
The reason I gave, as I hope the record will show tomorrow, is that there is an economic necessity to have a certain amount of immigration but a social reason for control. My reference to a "right little, tight little island" comes from W. H. Auden, and was intended to be a criticism of our attitude, and not be in praise of it.
§ Sir G. Sinclair
I am sorry to have mistaken the purport of part of the hon. Member"s speech, because throughout it I found myself in agreement with him, as 438 I have been in many discussions I have had with him. I do not believe that we are divided on this.
Additional immigrants add to the social problem that we are facing, and which we recognise is a difficult one. We must not go on adding to it by allowing substantial numbers to come in if we are to get the best results in adjustment. When we have absorbed the problem and adjusted it we shall be in a better position to decide how many more immigrants should be invited in.
Further, ought we lightly to add to the burden that this country will have to carry if ever again we have to face a serious recession and rising unemployment? I put this as a question. I hope that it may never happen, but it does happen. This is an urgent matter which Government, management and organised labour must tackle together.
I now turn to the question of those immigrants who have already settled here. I agree that we must make reasonable provision for wives and young dependent children to join their menfolk over here. There is a special case for "grannies", as my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) pointed out. The process of adjustment which we are all aiming at will be helped by the establishment of family units. On the other hand, imbalance between the sexes in immigrant communities produces difficult social problems—including V.D.—which tend to increase social antagonisms. I stand four-square behind my right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth in saying that we must not divide families, and must provide for their coming here.
But in granting permission, even for wives and other dependants, we must make accommodation an important factor. I understand that in some areas accommodation is not a problem. The hon. Member for Halifax mentioned that it was not a problem in her area. In some crowded areas, however, it will not be easy.
I now turn to the question of the evasion of control. As the Home Secretary told the House on 4th February, this is becoming fairly large-scale. He gave a figure, I think, of 10,000 over two years, which was the best guess he could arrive at. The Prime Minister promised, 439 on 9th March, to take vigorous measures to tackle this problem and his announcement was welcomed from this side. The problem of evasion is an urgent and disturbing matter. It undermines public confidence in controls, and this is one of the most important parts of it. We hope that the Government will be successful in securing the active collaboration of the Governments of the countries of origin.
We would all, I think, wish to see continuing the longstanding tradition of students from overseas countries, especially from the Commonwealth, coming to our universities, even though the pressure on these and other institutions of higher education is already great. I would join with my right hon. friend the Member for Monmouth in paying a tribute to the much-maligned race of landladies who have provided, since the beginning of this century, a great deal of hospitality and friendship to hundreds of thousands of students.
It is important, however—I think that we all agree on this—that the length of their stay here for study should be laid down and should be enforced. Their own countries need them and they come for a set purpose, for a set time. I believe that that is as it should be. Since these stays are temporary, it should be possible to limit admissions of dependants to very special cases, for the senior and post-graduate students.
Among Commonwealth immigrants there will always be those who, for one reason or another, wish to return to their country of origin. If any of our immigrants and their dependants wish to go back and are in difficulties in finding the money for their passages, I believe that we should he prepared to help with the fares. This is nothing new. Seven to 8 percent. of our own countrymen who emigrate to Australia come back because they find that the conditions there are different from what they expected. They are helped by the Australian Government to return here if necessary.
Before leaving the subject of controls, I should like to make one other point. I am sure that, in tightening up existing controls and perhaps introducing new ones, we should like to see the Government retaining enough flexibility to be able to meet special needs. There 440 are special skills which we require from outside and there are special cases in which we need, and ought to be able, to help, and sometimes at very short notice.
§ Sir G. Sinclair
I said that I believed that there are special cases for which we ought to provide. Every responsible administrator would agree with that.
There are also some other problems with our small remaining dependencies which wish to remain close to Britain. I believe that they should have special consideration. Gibraltar is obviously a case in point.
I should like now to turn to the perhaps rather more congenial problem of adjustment. The most important contribution to adjustment which we can make is to ensure that immigrants are given equal opportunities with others to make the best use of their talents. This is absolutely basic. This is part of making the best use of our manpower and giving people the right to enjoy their talents, both in the interests of our own economy and of the immigrants own satisfaction in their work. We have heard, during the debate, some of the outstanding work done by the National Advisory Committee on Commonwealth Immigration, chaired by Lady Reading, by local authorities, local consultative committees, the Churches, independent organisations, voluntary bodies and individuals, work which is done to help with this problem of adjustment.
I should like to join in those tributes and to pay a special one to the Institute of Race Relations and its staff, who have done invaluable work in gathering and assessing facts, and putting out guideposts on which public action can be based.
All who have spoken in the debate well understand that whatever we may say here, and whatever action the central Government may take to help the process of adjustment, the main task lies with the local authorities—I know that many are helped by Members of Parliament—and with those who work and live in areas of the greatest immigrant settlement. There are four ways in which we can help. I wrote about them recently, but I will touch on them briefly now.
441 They are housing, health, education, and equal treatment. The subject of housing has been well covered during the debate. Hon. Members on this side of the House are strongly in favour of additional help from the central Government to local authorities to enable them to tackle their general housing problems without discrimination or favour to any particular community.
On health we are in favour of sending medical teams from this country to the countries of origin of the immigrants to do thorough medical checks there before the immigrants come to this country. I know that there are difficulties about doing that in this country, when people have already arrived. There are difficulties in checking and in keeping track.
There are two important points which I should like to make on education. One is that education in our own schools is the best possible opportunity that we can give the immigrant children to adjust themselves to take a full part in our community. That will not be done if the schools are peopled largely by immigrants. There must be a preponderance of our own people in every school. We must aim at achieving that for the sake of the immigrants. The other thing for which we ask is great attention to be given to the teaching of English. I have set out these ideas rather more fully in the Press. There is room for research in this matter. We hope that the Government will be able to persuade the universities to play a full part.
The last problem is perhaps the most difficult, that of equal treatment. I understand that, in a debate on the Motion for the Adjournment, we are precluded from discussing Bills in prospect, but I hope that, if a Bill is introduced, one of the main provisions will be for statutory conciliation machinery to deal with any cases of infringement by conciliation, allowing them to go to the courts only as a last resort.
By and large, I think it most difficult for immigrants to get employment in the middle sector. They get into the professions and into unskilled and semi-skilled employment. It is in the middle sector that the progress is slowest and resistance to the employment of immigrants is often highest. Reasonable access to these 442 middle ranges of employment by way of apprenticeship and training schemes and to opportunities for promotion are of the greatest importance to a great number of our immigrants. We hope that the Minister of Labour will look into this matter. I am sure that, in this matter, he will need the help of the trade unions and of management in industry.
I should like to make a final point about fair treatment. There are various spheres in which discrimination against coloured immigrants is claimed to be widespread. Some have been mentioned in the debate. In respect of insurance, housing mortgages, rent and housing generally, immigrants claim that they have to pay a sort of colour tax. Surely the first job is to get the facts and to air them in public and then let us get on with the remedies.
It has been a privilege to take part in a debate on a subject of such great moment, not only to the people of this country but also to the people of the Commonwealth. I have omitted to mention in detail the various contributions made by other hon. Members who have raised the standard of this debate to the heights that it has reached. I ask forgiveness of them. It has been a great privilege to wind up this debate on behalf of the Opposition and I welcome particularly the fact that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary, who is known to have such a careful and humane approach to these problems, will now wind up for the Government.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir Frank Soskice)
The debate has been wound up for the Opposition in a most interesting and informative speech by the hon. Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair), and it behoves me, speaking from the Government Front Bench, to welcome him on this his first appearance on the Opposition Front Bench.
The House is apt to feel slightly selfconscious when we terminate a debate in too self-congratulatory a mood. Perhaps I may venture to do so, because at least I as the last speaker run no risk whatever of being congratulated, even if I deserve it, which I am sure I will not. But, having been in the House for nearly 443 20 years, I cannot often remember a debate of which one can say with complete lack of reserve that every speaker has made his own distinctive and valuable contribution to our thinking on this broad social problem with which we as a nation are now confronted.
Nobody suggests that the Opposition should in any way be inhibited in future from their complete right of criticism of the Government"s policy. Nevertheless, there has been disclosed in the course of the debate a very great degree of unanimity on the broad aspects of the problem with which we are faced. We can divide it into two separate aspects, and I will make it my task, in reply to the debate, to state the Government"s policy on the various aspects which have been canvassed.
First is the question of numbers, and the Government accept that there must be—simply because of the scale of possible immigration—effective control of numbers. That we have said, and it is broadly accepted in all parts of the House and throughout the country. Second is the more interesting and constructive approach to the problem, which is how to make the new citizens of the country feel completely at home among us.
Some hon. Members have said that we cannot expect immigrants from other countries, with their different cultures, to forswear their traditions, religions and cultures and merge completely into our community. Others have said that they should simply be as everybody else. The common factor in our thinking is that people wish to retain their own habits, beliefs and individual sphere of choice but that what we want to achieve by our social policies in our approach to the problem is that there should be no suspicion whatever that there is any difference in treatment between one person and another.
The thing which we absolutely abjure and abhor is the idea that there should be first and second-class citizens. Whatever our individual method of approach, our aim should be to see that there is only one class of citizen, each with equal rights, each with equal respect, each with equal opportunity and each with an equal career of happiness and fulfilment in his life in 444 the community. We all agree that we should aim that.
That being our common objective, to achieve it co-operation among a great many Departments, local authorities, voluntary associations and an enormous amount of goodwill from individuals is indispensable. Acts of Parliament cannot do it. Tolerance and goodwill can play by far the biggest part. No Department, by its individual policy—in housing, education, health or the social services—can achieve it. All must co-operate, and they must be assisted by the trade unions, who have been mentioned, by voluntary associations, by the Churches and by individual persons who possess a fund of determined good will to see that they achieve their objective.
Therefore, the Government"s policy has been this: as this is such a widespread responsibility we have thought it right, as the Prime Minister announced, that there should be a co-ordinating Committee to bring all that effort together into one single endeavour. That is why my hon. Friend who has been congratulated on having been invited to undertake this task has been here all day listening with such avidity to the extremely valuable proposals that have been made with regard to improving the housing position and generally to bringing to an end any semblance of discrimination in the factual sense between the immigrant community and the indigenous community within our shores. That is the Government"s first line of approach. There must be adequate co-ordination, and there must be a Minister whose task it is to see that every field of endeavour is brought together so as to achieve the objective. I put that before the House as being an extremely important aspect of the Government"s approach to this matter.
Secondly, on the question of figures, I have listened carefully to the whole of this debate and have sought to pick out those positive proposals on what practical steps the Government should take. It has been said by some hon. Members that we must drastically curtail the numbers, though I do not think anybody has gone so far as to say that we must completely suspend immigration. I would like to spend a few moments considering what drastic curtailment of the numbers involves. In order to get hold of the measure of the problem one should have 445 certain figures in mind. It has been said that the number of coloured immigrants at the moment in this country is round about the 800,000 mark; it may be more and is sometimes said to be nearer 1 million. The Leader of the House was asked how many dependants there were still in overseas countries who, under Section 2 of the Commonwealth Immigration 1962, were entitled as a matter of right to come to these shores in order to join their husbands or fathers. He gave a very tentative figure. It must be very tentative because, of course, it is impossible to estimate except in broad terms. It may be not less than ½ million.
§ Sir C. Osborne
This is a very important figure. I believe the right hon. Gentleman said it was not less than ½million.
§ Sir F. Soskice
I believe the actual words used by my right hon. Friend were "may be as high as", but it is impossible to give anything except the most vague estimate. We have tried to assess the figure, but of necessity if one considers the problem only the vaguest estimate is possible. But, roughly speaking, if one assumes that this is the kind of figure with which we have to deal, it is a working basis on which we can proceed.
Starting from that, it may be useful to consider what is meant by a curtailment of the figures by comparing the figures for 1963 and 1964. As the House knows, the 1962 Act began to operate in July 1962, so that we have two complete years —1963 and 1964—by reference to which we can test the figures. We have tried to estimate the increase to our population from immigration by taking what we call the "net intake", calculating for each of the two years 1963 and 1964 by how much the total of those who have arrived at our shores exceeded the total of those who have left.
We call that, for the sake of convenience, the net intake. In 1963—and I am speaking in round figures of 1,000—it was 57,000, and in 1964 it was 62,000. That is a very rough estimate, because the student, for example, may come in 1963 and leave in 1967. That is the best estimate we can give. If one tests against that net intake, if I may so put it, how many immigrants from Commonwealth countries were admitted on a permanent basis, one gets some measure of the problem, and by doing that one can get some measure 446 of the scope by which one can, if one wishes to do so, reduce the numbers.
In 1963, as I have said, the net intake was 57,000, and 29,000 A, B and C voucher holders were admitted for permanent settlement. Apart from that, 27,000, who were mainly dependants, were also admitted for permanent settlement. Therefore, broadly speaking, the net intake in 1963 was some thousand or so more than the numbers admitted for permanent settlement. That was the figure in 1963. I would call attention to the figure of 27,000 dependants. When one contrasts that with 1964—and, as I have told the House, the net intake for 1964 was 62,000—voucher holders had dropped in 1964 from 29,000 to 14,000—they were under half—but the dependants had gone up from 27,000 in 1963 to nearly 39,000 in 1964.
Broadly speaking, if we look at the scheme of the 1962 Act, those who are admitted on a permanent settlement basis owe voucher holders and their dependants—I leave out of account for the moment returning residents, and I leave out of account some other categories, but, broadly speaking, those are the relevant figures.
I think that nearly every hon. and right hon. Member who has spoken today has said that one cannot, in a civilised country, say to people whom one affects to treat as fellow citizens with oneself, "You are not to bring your wives and families here". It would be inhuman to do so. It is in the public interest, as well as in his own interest, that if a man has come here and settled here and has a claim to be regarded as a citizen here, and if we really mean with any sincerity that we propose to treat him as such, that we should not say to him, "Your wife is in Karachi —she shall stay in Karachi", or "Your children under 16 are in the West Indies —they must stay there". It is a matter of common humanity and elementary decency, to say, "If you are settled here and are one of our fellow citizens you certainly have the right, as the Act says you have the right, to bring here your wife and your children" or, at least "your children under 16".
My predecessor, the right hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Brooke), and I since I have filled the office of Home Secretary, have followed the practice of 447 not being too strict in our adherence to Section 2 of the Act. We have admitted dependants here who were not wives or children under 16. We have gone a little outside Section 2, as I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree, for reasons, I think, of absolutely compelling humanity. We have said that if an old and aging father wished to join his son here he should be allowed to do so.
There has been a discretionary basis on which we have allowed some other members of a family to come here, and I am sure that no hon. Member would wish to say that we were wrong, or would wish us, as a result, to curtail these discretionary admissions. I am sure that if I had to curtail on an absolutely inhuman basis I could reduce the numbers only by about 3,000 a year, and I certainly would not wish to keep an ageing father or mother away from their son here. Therefore, I would hope that the House would think that, at any rate as to that 39,000, there is no possibility of reduction.
Then where is the possibility of reduction? It is, first, by reducing the number of evasions. I accept that at once. Comparing the total number admitted on a permanent settlement basis in 1964 with the total net intake—that is, the 62,000 net intake with the 52,000 or 53,000 admitted as voucher holders, dependants, and so on—there is an unaccounted surplus of some 10,000. We assume—this is the only way we can get at the figure—that as to a considerable proportion of that unaccounted surplus it must be evasions—students who stayed, visitors who stayed on and prolonged their visit to an inordinately long degree, persons who came on forged passports or other false pretences. They would probably be included in that 10,000.
The Government accept that those must be stopped. Nobody sympathises with those who obtain entry here by fraud, if for no other reason than that it is extremely unfair on the other unfortunate immigrants who wait their turn. Therefore, we accept that we must try to stop those. On 4th February I announced measures designed to deal with these people. The 62,000 must be reduced by the elimination of those persons, so far as we can do so. When I 448 made my Statement, I made it clear that I wished to see what the numerical result of that would be over a period of time before I considered whether fresh measures were necessary.
Fresh measures would be very drastic and unpleasant measures. They would be measures which involved registration with the police. They would be measures which involved my being given a power of deportation without a court order, which I have not now got. I say "my"; I mean, as the House will understand, the Home Secretary of the day being given the power of deportation without an order by a court, which I at present have not got. If the Government were to ask the House to give the Home Secretary such powers, he would have to apply them in the case of immigrants from the older Commonwealth countries—against Australians, against Canadians, against New Zealanders, against all members of the old Commonwealth countries as well as against the new. They would have to be operated against the visitors and students from those countries with complete impartiality.
Obviously one has to state the problem, and do no more than state the problem, to induce, I hope, assent from the House as a whole that any Home Secretary in any Government would be reluctant to feel that he had to ask the House for such powers. At the moment I have announced on behalf of the Government measures to tighten up the existing control. I hope that the House will think that the Government are acting rightly in waiting to see what the effect of this tightening up is in terms of numbers before contemplating any other measures which would be inherently repugnant to the whole concept of the Commonwealth.
After all, the Commonwealth is a real and valuable thing. It consists of 750 million people of different races belonging to huge, large, small, tiny countries, all gathered together in a voluntary association. That is a tradition, as the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) reminded us, which we should not lightly cast aside. It is a tremendous association of free peoples in the interests of peace. In my belief, it has a greater influence for peace than the United Nations itself. It has grown over the 449 years. It has not been imposed or created; it has developed by common consent. It is an association of peoples of all races, all colours, all outlooks, which is capable of inestimable good in the future of the world. I am sure that the House will agree with me that I have not overstated the position.
Therefore, where is the room for the drastic reduction? My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) gave the House what I thought was an extremely valuable analysis of the figures. We could reduce the number of vouchers. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House announced, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour is considering his whole system of issuing vouchers. Fourteen thousand voucher holders arrived in the whole of 1964. Could we cut down on those? If we cut down on those, would it make any significant reduction in the intake of immigrants?
My hon. Friend looked at the figures from 1963 to 1964. I should like to supplement that by looking at the figures of 1964. I ask the House to consider the 8,000 B vouchers issued. They in-cluded about 2,000 teachers, 400 nurses, 1,700 doctors, 2,200 other graduates and professions, 38 craftsmen, 500 building workers and 800 shorthand typists. In any case, the doctors to a considerable extent go home after they have served here for a number of years. Some come here and settle but many go back to their own countries after serving several years in our own National Health Service. We shall lose a good many of them and it is good that we should lose them because they are capable of doing great good in their own countries. Their own countries cannot easily afford to export them to us. We enjoy their services when they are here but they can render valuable services in their own countries at the end of their professional careers here.
The rate of unemployment among immigrants as a whole is something like 2.4 percent. now. It has been pointed out over and over again in debate that they render invaluable service to our National Health Service, the transport system and various branches of our economy. That is the position at the moment.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman realise that if he wants more powers to stop evasion we shall be very slow to object to it from this side of the House? We regard it as absolutely vital that these powers be properly enforced. Surely the one thing that is clear from listening to the figures which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has given is that we must take a large number of relatives, in any event, and that they are the natural consequence of the admission of the male immigrant worker. In those circumstances, surely the right hon. and learned Gentleman must ponder very carefully on any case where he gives new authority for more male immigrant workers. He may make out a case for 14,000. He may say that that is a very small number, but if one takes 14,000 plus another 5,000 evasions, with their relatives, it mounts very quickly to 60,000 a year. [HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."] May I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman this question? I will be quicker if I am not interrupted. Is he really contending to the House of Commons that this economy is hanging on the flow into this country of 14,000 immigrant workers?
§ Sir F. Soskice
I counter that by the question: is our economy really likely to be very much affected and our immigration intake so completely altered by our forgoing the services of some 14,000 people who are useful to us? If it were a question of reducing the 62,000 net intake to 6,000 net intake, that would be one thing. But if one accepts, as one must, that dependents may come in, that the 14,000 are extremely useful to us, and that a great many of them will go back in any event, one is really discussing such small figures that one is neither helping us nor helping them. If we simply say, "For the sake of reducing the figures, we shall cut off that 14,000", we reduce it to what?—no more doctors, no more nurses——
§ Sir F. Soskice
The 8,000 people with B vouchers are all extremely useful people. When the right hon. Gentleman refers to evasion, I am with him. Evasion must be stopped. But I am reluctant, and I hope he will agree that 451 I am right to be reluctant, to ask the House to give me the sort of powers which I have been outlining. To take the example of Australians coming here to visit, they would be required to register. They would not like it. Other people would not like it any more than the coloured immigrants would like it. It is contrary to our whole tradition which we have practised with pride for so long of regarding the flow between Commonwealth countries as something free and unfettered at least so far as we are concerned.
That is a tradition which we should hesitate very much to interrupt. We have had to interrupt it for the purposes of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act. That is now accepted and we are not in controversy about it. To go further would be to do something which we should be most reluctant toy contemplate. If it must be done, in due course we shall have to consider it. All I am saying is that, at the moment, the Government"s view is that we have introduced stringent measures which we believe will be effective. They often produce unkind results, of course. People who had hoped to be able to come here are told that they have to go back. In itself, this is a harsh thing to do in any case, but, if it must be done in the case of evasion or dishonesty of some sort, it must be done and we accept it.
But we want to see the result of our actions before we even contemplate harsher measures still which would be thoroughly repugnant to both the newer Commonwealth countries and the older Commonwealth countries. That is the Government"s view about it, and those are my comments on the Government"s policy on the question of numbers.
§ Sir C. Osborne
How many immigrant does the right hon. and learned Gentleman estimate that the 500,000 dependants cover? How many dependants has each immigrant got?
§ Sir F. Soskice
I wish I had longer to explain, but may I say, in a few words, that what we have tried to do is to look at the 800,000 here and estimate what percentage of them are likely still to have dependants overseas. That is, so to 452 speak, a shorthand answer which I hope the hon. Gentleman will be content with because I wish to turn to the other aspects of our policy before I conclude.
First, the mission led by Lord Mountbatten. We take the view that, as the Commonwealth is such a living entity to us, we ought to have the reactions of Commonwealth countries to any broad steps which we might propose for dealing with immigration. It is a domestic matter for us to decide in the long run, of course, but we feel that great utility is to be achieved by a mission of persons led by Lord Mountbatten, with his very high standing and authority throughout the Commonwealth, to find out the facts and see what is possible.
Finally, a few words about the Bill which we propose to introduce and which has been frequently referred to today. I cannot, of course, discuss the details of coming legislation, but I should like to make a few observations about it. One of my hon. Friends—I forget who it was—reminded us that children do not have these antagonisms towards one and another. Anyone can see children playing perfectly happily together, never mind the colour of their skins. It is when they grow older that they may come into contact with sinister influences which breed prejudice and the possibility of racial hate or dislike. We want to get in first and stop, so far as we can, their being subjected to these unpleasant and anti-social influences.
We could leave a Measure of this sort until such racial antagonisms as might develop had developed and then try to come in when it was too late to stop the evil which was already rampant. We think that that would be the wrong policy. We want to get in first and make sure that, so far as legislation can, we do something about it. I quite agree with the right hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) that men"s hearts are not changed by legislation. But they can be prevented from embarking upon a course of conduct which influences other people"s hearts in the wrong direction. That is what we want to do with our legislation.
That completes my brief run-through of Government policy. I hope that the House will think that it is a constructive policy. This is a problem which evolves. It changes from time to time and also has 453 to adjust itself, just as our points of view have to adjust themselves. I could spend much longer going into much more detailed analysis of the figures but time is short and that brings me to the end of my remarks, concluding what has been a really valuable debate on a subject which closely affects all of us—namely, the one-fiftieth of the population of this country who are our fellow citizens.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.