§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (St. Marylebone)
I beg to move, in page 2, to leave out lines 7 and 8.
I wonder whether, with this Amendment, Sir Eric, we can discuss the Amendment to leave out lines 16 and 17. If I may raise a short point of order before I embark on my speech, last year the Committee found it convenient, and the Chair approved, to consider together the two Amendments in my name—which were identical with the two in my name on the Notice Paper today—to give rise to a general debate. I would prefer to follow this course today, and I am glad to notice that the Home Secretary approves.
§ The Chairman
That can be done if it is the unanimous wish of the House. As no objection has been raised, so be it.
§ Mr. Hogg
I am much obliged to you, Sir Eric.
When we had this debate last year, one of my hon. Friends observed that a fairly wide consensus of opinion existed between the two sides of the Committee, and in particular, between the two Front Benches. I hope that that consensus remains. I think that great public advantage derives from the fact that as matters stand at the moment, neither side of the Committee, in the main, feels disposed to exploit what is potentially an emotionally charged atmosphere.
I am certain that there would be considerable danger to public order, as well as to the decencies of public debate in public life, if we were to depart from that rule, and I would like to renew my assurance to the right hon. Gentleman that I shall seek to retain that consensus which, it will be remembered, depended on two propositions: first, that it was desirable to restrict immigration to this country; and, secondly, that persons lawfully within this country should be treated on the basis of the universal declaration of human rights, that one person should be treated in the same way as another in respect of dignity and human rights. As long as that is so, we can be assured that we are agreed about the ends and the only discussion that remains to take place is a discussion of means.
I would not wish to repeat the general remarks which I made when I spoke this time last year. I would like to say only two things. First, we should remember that what we are discussing is fundamentally not a function of race, but a function of world poverty. Of course, there are disagreeable racial overtones, but men do not leave their countries to go elsewhere, in a strange and not always friendly environment, unless they are persecuted or unless they are poor. It behoves us to approach this subject with humility and compassion—humility, because the subject is a function not merely of the poverty of others but of our own relative well-being, which we owe partly to historical accident and partly to the skill and courage of our forebears.
In viewing this subject, therefore, let us remember that the only permanent solution of the problem that we are discussing, under an enactment which provides for the annual renewal of makeshift 442 legislation—one example of which, the first on the list, has been in operation since 1919—would be, and will be one day, to see that standards of life elsewhere in the world are raised to a level at least comparable with our own. Until that day we shall have to deal with the makeshift and, at best, the second-best.
At the same time, the most considerable contribution which this country can make to the solution of the problem of world poverty, which is the cause of immigration, is probably, first, to set its own economic house in order and then so to use its stability as to enable the countries from which immigrants come to raise the general standard of life of their populations in their place of residence. It is neither obviously nor necessarily true that the most significant contribution that we can make is to allow unrestricted entry to persons, of whatever origin, who, numerically speaking from the point of view of the populations concerned, are relatively insignificant proportions of the persons who are exposed to poverty and under-nourishment.
I should have thought that it was not obviously true that this island was under-populated at present. I maintain a certain agnosticism about optimum levels of population in any country—over-population or under-population. People have been habitually wrong in such estimates since the subject began to be discussed, and I doubt whether we have the scientific knowledge, as yet, to have got beyond the era of hunch and commonsense. But it is not obviously true that we are under-populated. The burden of proof rests upon those who would shift the population in an upward direction to show what they propose is either necessary or desirable at present.
I say that in full consciousness of the fact that we are and have been, from the earliest times, a mongrel race, and that in the past this country has owed a great deal to the various waves of immigration to which we have been subjected from time to time, and not least to the recent arrivals.
I now move from the general to the particular. Since last year a great deal has happened. One of the prime purposes which I hope this debate will serve is to discuss some of the events which have taken place in that period. Before 443 I do anything else I want to refer to the relevant figures, which should be known and which I hope the Minister will confirm. He has let me see some of them privately. The debate takes place when the complete figures for the current year are not available and therefore the figures on which I propose to talk are those for the first nine months—from January to September of this year.
I am sure that I shall be corrected by one or other of the Ministers if I say something which is in any way inaccurate. This may be the case, although I shall try to be as accurate as I can. I am hampered by the fact that I am dealing only with a nine-months' period. The first figure to which I want to refer relates to what is called the old Commonwealth. I think I am right in saying that, on net balance, there has been a considerable efflux of the citizens of the old Commonwealth—14,000 from Canada, nearly 3,000 from Australia and nearly 2,000 from New Zealand, if my figures are correct.
In addition, if we want to see the balance of movement in these countries we have to add what is not included in these statistics—the emigration of persons from this island to those countries. I wonder what the right hon. Gentleman thinks is the value of retaining an elaborate system of vouchers, supported by fundamentally penal provisions, when the net flow of population between us and those countries is an outflow and not an inflow on this scale.
I have a constituency case in respect of which I have corresponded with the right hon. Gentleman. It concerns a young Australian actress whose permit had expired and who wanted to take an acting job in the North of England. I wonder what advantage exists in saying that she has outstayed her permission and must go home. At the moment, there is the case, which I will not seek to identify because part of it is sub judice, of a young Australian man, aged 20, who was held for 36 days in custody but against whom nothing was alleged except that he had broken the regulations.
I wonder whether there is any advantage, when there is no social problem, in putting in our prisons people of otherwise good reputation coming from those 444 sources. Although I am sure that if there were a social problem the House of Commons would wish to act, I wonder whether the House wishes the Minister to act in cases where we are dealing with people belonging to countries with whom we have the warmest ties and beside whom we fought in the greatest of our wars. I would like the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether, in the light of these circumstances, there is any real justification for operating the Act in quite such a restrictive fashion.
I recognise that the Government of which I was a member started this practice. We did it because we wished to make it clear that the Act would be operated equally between the inhabitants of one country and another. That is a highly desirable object. However, I think that the time has come, to quote The Times in a slightly different context, to take a fresh look at the relationships of ourselves and the various Commonwealth countries.
As a member of that Government, and having been present at some of the discussions, I think I may say that had we, in 1958 and onwards, been faced with an influx of Frenchmen, Germans or Italians on the scale of the influx with which we were faced from the Commonwealth, we would have acted more quickly and more drastically than we did. It was precisely because we did not wish to raise a racial issue that we wished, if anything, to err on the side of delay rather than to arouse antagonism in our Commonwealth partners.
The second set of figures to which I want to refer are those from the West Indies. I understand that the remarkable situation is as follows. As to Jamaica, there has been a net outflow of male persons of nearly 400. The figures are practically static for Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago—an inflow of 29 from the first and an inflow of 64 for the other two. These would include aged fathers who are dependants in addition to workers coming in under voucher.
If that is so, even though the figure for other dependants, to which I will come, is more substantial, we should allow these facts to be generally known. The policy is working and the alarmist letters that we receive from time to time are not based entirely on statistical truth. 445 The figures for Pakistan and India are much higher, over 5,000 in each case for male entrants and another 15,000 or 16,000 in each case for women and children.
We cannot view these figures entirely with equanimity and complacency. However, I fancy from reading some of the correspondence that I receive my correspondents do not fully realise the extent to which the Act is already producing results and to which the figures have been dwindling from year to year since it has been in operation.
The third figure, which is perhaps the most important of all, is that for entrants holding vouchers, from January to September. Unless I am mistaken, this figure is 3,504 for nine months, not a very high figure. Although the figures I have been given do not break down as between holders of B vouchers and holders of A vouchers, last year, when we were talking in terms of 6,000 holders for a slightly earlier period, because the complete figures were not available, they broke down as to 4,000 B voucher holders to 2,000 A voucher holders—in other words, 4,000 skilled workers to 2,000 unskilled workers, in effect. Would the Home Secretary agree that the breakdown of the 3,500 would be rather similar this year?
Last year, there was a good deal of discussion about the desirability of permitting B voucher holders to enter. Some people, for markedly opposite reasons opposed their entry. I thought that the Home Secretary effectively disposed of those arguments. They serve an invaluable social purpose when they come to this country, although the countries of their origin can probably ill spare them. I should be sorry to see B vouchers curtailed, unless there was good reason for doing so. I ask the Ministers to comment upon this reflection and to tell me whether my general line of comment is correct on this point.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Roy Jenkins)
Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman mean it the other way round? Does he not mean that last year the desirability of permitting A voucher holders to enter was questioned, that it was suggested that their entry should be curtailed, that we dealt with that argument last year, and 446 that he would like our comments on this issue this year?
§ Mr. Hogg
I mean that the debate revolved round the skilled entrants. Several hon. Members, for one reason or another, thought that the entry of skilled workers should be curtailed, because the countries of origin could ill spare them. I think I was right in referring to those as B voucher holders, although my general standard of accuracy in letters and figures is such that I am not prepared to be dogmatic. I believe that this is a category of entrant that we should encourage, for the reasons the Home Secretary gave last year.
Having said that, which should allay public anxieties to some extent, I want to raise two questions which are rather closely allied with the figures. I am bound to ask, if these be the figures for the first nine months of the year, how far they are reliable in showing the real degree of entrants. The first question which obviously arises is that of evasion. We know that there is a certain amount of evasion. There is forgery of documents. There is impersonation. There is, no doubt on a small scale, the smuggling in of living persons at unauthorised points of entry. In the nature of things, if evasion succeeds, the Government do not know about it. Therefore, it is perhaps unfair of me to ask the Home Secretary to say on what scale he believes evasion exists. Any answer he gave might well be wrong, and I should not complain if it were.
However, I think the the Home Secretary can be pressed to say whether his powers to deal with evasion are adequate. My information is that there is a relatively short period during which the evader of the law, the illegal entrant, can remain at large and then become free from the danger of deportation. Is this so? If it is so, it is wrong. Those who break the law should be subject to deportation whenever' they are found out. No doubt they should be dealt with with compassion and generously, and mitigating factors should be taken into account; but they should not be free to flout the law and then say, like the lunatic at large in the novel of my childhoood, "I have been abroad for 24 hours and now I can flout the Home Secretary". We have far too much respect for the right hon. Gentleman for that.
§ Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Southall)
If I did not have an enormous constituency interest, I should not have the temerity to interrupt the right hon. and learned Gentleman at this stage. A little while ago he referred to the old Commonwealth and then cited the case of an Australian actress. He had some feeling towards changing the law, which would mean, I think he meant, a loosening up. Now he is arguing, if anything, for a tightening up. I have been waiting for him to relate his spirit of compassion to the new Commonwealth, as well.
§ Mr. Hogg
I have done so, and thought I was doing so. My point about Australia and the old Commonwealth generally was this: there is no social problem attached to those, because there is a net outflow. If there was a permanent balance or a net outflow in respect of any other territory, I would say the same. I am talking now of countries of any kind where the balance is not a net outflow but a substantial inflow. It is precisely the extent of the social problem, of which we must take notice based upon the net figures and not upon any prejudice, that leads me to say that illegal entry should render a person liable to deportation. The Press has been saying that the Ministers have been considering this. I should like official confirmation or denial—
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ The Chairman
Before the right hon. and learned Gentleman pursues that point and invites the Minister to deal with it, I think that I should point out that in this debate we are dealing only with the question of continuing in existence for another year the existing legislation. Technically, it is out of order in this debate to debate Amendments, however desirable, to Acts that are being continued.
§ Mr. Hogg
I was not seeking to do that, Sir Eric. What I was seeking to do was to say that my attitude towards the continuance of this legislation must inevitably be influenced by its adequacy. I was asking the Home Secretary what his powers are under it and how he proposes to use them. Certainly, I think that I can say this in a sentence without incurring your displeasure, Sir Eric, that we would give the right hon. Gentleman 448 support in anything that he might think fit to do in order to acquire new powers or use the powers which he thinks he has.
The second comment upon the figures which inevitably arises in the light of events in recent Press discussion is what I might describe as the Sword of Damocles. All over the world, and particularly in East Africa, there are people of various origins, some with and some without roots in this country. They can, I understand, come to this country otherwise than under the Act. They have an absolute right of entry because they have, for historical reasons of one sort or another, a British passport. Quite obviously, like the customers of a bank, if they all entered and asked the bank for payment of their outstanding balances at the same time, they would cause a run on the bank.
What is the situation? Have the Government been in touch, and, if so, with what results, with countries where they may be residing at the present time? In East Africa alone, I understand, about 150,000 persons might be affected. What do the Government think about it? Have the Government impressed upon the countries where these people now reside that they, too, have a responsibility in this matter? Do the Government propose to act? I feel that they cannot leave this open-ended commitment completely undiscussed. In this, I certainly have the support of The Times, which spoke in warm terms of the need for a reappraisal of this situation.
I now move to a number of cognate questions. The first is that of dependants. These were discussed last year in various terms, and the Home Secretary said—it appears to be borne out by the subsequent figures—that this is an essentially dwindling number of persons, since the number of vouchers is dwindling too, and that gradually the dependants will come here. I was persuaded on his arguments when he replied to various criticisms from different quarters in the House to the effect that it would be both imprudent and inhumane to bar dependants.
I have nothing but approval for a man who builds up a home here lawfully, after a lawful entry, and who wishes to take care of either or both of his aged parents or wishes to bring in his wife 449 and young children. I believe that, on the whole, the House was persuaded that quite apart from considerations of humanity, considerations of enlightened self-interest would lead to that conclusion since the separation of a family between the male member and the dependants—certainly of the wife and children—might give rise to social problems far more serious than the importation of wife and children. However, I would prefer to put the argument on humanitarian lines.
On the other hand, I would have considerably less sympathy—and I have some reason to think that I am speaking of circumstances which sometimes exist—with a man who was content to leave his young children abroad when they were in need of parental care, but who, when the time came when he could exploit their labour, brought them into this country without a labour voucher, on the basis that they were dependants. I would have thought that some control over the nature and number of dependants was both desirable and necessary in the interests of good management and in order to prevent evasion. I wonder what the right hon. Gentleman has to say about the last year's administration of the Act on these lines.
In our General Election programme there was a demand that dependants should be declared at the time of original entry. I understand that this is now the Government's policy in some form. How has that been going on, and to what extent is it enforced or enforceable? I would think, too, that it is arguable that, at any rate as regards children, the dependency should be declared and the entry should take place within a certain number of years of the original entry, for the reason that I have given, and that afterwards entry should be subject to a labour voucher.
I want to deal now with a rather cognate question but of a slightly different order, and that is the actual treatment of entrants, whether dependants or others, at the port of entry in this country. A good many of the hard cases which have excited sympathy have, in fact, done so because of this, and, indeed, the right hon. Gentleman some time ago set up the Committee under Sir Roy Wilson—it reported in August—which made various recommendations on the whole subject. I want o know what is the attitude of 450 the right hon. Gentleman and of the Government to that Report.
There is one general proposition to which I would give whole-hearted endorsement. I am sure that the administration of this Act would give much less cause for complaint if the documentation of the entrant, whether he be a voucher holder or a dependant, could be moved from the point of entry when he arrives sometimes tired, sometimes bewildered and sometimes with an inadequate command of intelligible English, to the place of embarkation. It seems to me that much of the hardship which is undoubtedly involved and sometimes gives rise to complaint could be avoided if that were done, and possibly done universally. I believe that many of the individual cases that one has come across would not have arisen had this been possible at the time.
On the other hand, I should tell the right hon. Gentleman that I felt a good deal more doubt about the elaborate judicial or quasi-judicial structure which Sir Roy Wilson recommended in his Report. I think that this is an administrative problem on which the House should fundamentally keep its control. It can only keep its control if a Minister is responsible. If there is set up a quasi-judicial structure of appeal in which the Minister loses his control of entry—
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
What does the right hon. and learned Gentleman mean by "quasi-judicial"?
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman exclude every possibility of judicial machinery set up to determine whether a man has a right to come here or not?
§ Mr. Hogg
No. I was about to continue with my own thoughts upon this matter. I think that it is an administrative function for which a Minister should be responsible. I believe that there is insufficient machinery for questioning the decisions of the immigration officers, good as they often and nearly always are.
I have in mind a particular case which I raised with the right hon. Gentleman 451 some time ago. I should, in passing, like to express my gratitude to the staff of the right hon. Gentleman, who was not, I think, personally concerned, for the sympathetic hearing that I got. I had an elderly relative, a Christian Scientist, who was crippled with arthritis and who had brought from Zurich a Swiss Christian Scientist to live with her. This old lady, unable to speak much English, was being turned back at Heathrow because her age had been misstated on her application form. I received a panic message on a Sunday afternoon, and I rang up the duty officer at the Home Office.
That old lady was able to enter this country because she was coming to visit the nephew of a Member of Parliament who knew how to use the ropes. It was right that she should come in. The case was treated humanely and with sympathy. But these matters should not depend on whether one is visiting the aunt of a Member of Parliament. Machinery of that kind should be available to immigrants generally, and they should be made aware of how to use the ropes.
To come now to the answer to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman), I do not consider that a legal structure is appropriate to the case. At least, I require to be persuaded that that is so. But what I am quite sure of is that there must be recourse, and recourse to senior officers at a relatively high level, if an injustice or an emergency is likely to a rise.
With some experience of the Home Office, I know that, if one knows how to operate the machine, one is always treated very well. But these people do not know how to operate the machine. If I had not come back that Sunday afternoon and intervened, or if the lady in this country had not been related to me, the outcome might well have been different. The person concerned was already being incarcerated and was to be put, in a matter of an hour and a half, on her return journey to Zurich. I hope that the Home Secretary will give us his views on this matter and the whole question of recourse at the point of entry.
I come now to the other branch of the subject, and, again, Sir Eric, I shall try 452 to keep strictly within the theoretical bounds of order. The two main branches of the subject are closely connected: first, how we control entry; and, second, how we treat people who have lawfully come here and who dwell in our midst. Here, too, a great deal has happened in the last year. There has been the first Report of the Race Relations Board. There has been the P.E.P. Report on Racial Discrimination in certain spheres. More recently, there has been the Report of the Street Committee, on which our former colleague Mr. Geoffrey Howe played a notable part. Without arguing the case at this point, I put one or two observations to the Home Secretary about it.
It is important that we retain, so far as we can, a consensus of opinion on these matters. The right hon. Gentleman has announced, and will, no doubt, produce in detail, a prospective Bill to be introduced some time this Session. I tell the right hon. Gentleman plainly that, originally, I was very critical of fresh legislation on this subject so soon after the last. But I was immensely impressed by the quality of some of the documents to which I have referred. In at least some of the fields which he has mentioned, I consider that there is a strong case for Government action of one sort or another, and I should myself be prepared to support that in general.
On the other hand, I should always oppose an extension of the criminal law. I hope that it would be done within the bounds of civil procedure. I hope, also, that a distinction can be drawn between the haphazard expression of individual prejudice, which may be undesirable but which has no social consequences, and the widespread effect of mass prejudice which, though it may be intelligible, has serious social consequences. I assure the Home Secretary that, although we shall wish to examine his proposals in detail when they come—we cannot discuss them today—we on this side will give them a sympathetic, if critical, reception.
I have one further topic to discuss, namely, the position of children of immigrants who are here. I differed from the P.E.P. Report on the pessimistic prognosis which it gave regarding discrimination towards the children of immigrants 453 who had been educated in British schools. People tend to judge superficially. So long as a coloured face tends to be associated with a sub-standard education abroad, an imperfect command of the English language, and, perhaps, inferior professional qualifications, people will judge by appearance.
But a new generation is arising, as all of us who attend school prize givings in our constituencies know. In this new situation, when the interviewer will have been a t school with a number of fellow pupils of immigrant origin, and when those being interviewed for employment are people who speak standard English of one sort or another acquired in our English, Welsh or Scottish schools, when they have acquired British G.C.E.s, British professional qualifications or British degrees, the whole atmosphere will be different.
Of that I am absolutely sure. I have been vastly encouraged by the sight of our schools bringing up boys and girls of quite different origin to common standards of education. One of the rather humbling factors in the case is how much more attention some parents of immigrant origin pay to the importance of education than do some of our native-born parents.
This is a whole new batch of subjects, and I want the Committee to believe that we on this side, no less than hon. Members opposite, want those who come here to enjoy their life in this country. We believe in the Declaration of Human Rights. We believe that human beings were born equal in dignity and rights. We do not regard this as simply a piece of starry-eyed idealism. We accept it as a rule of conduct not for tomorrow, but for today, and we do not think that, after years of a consensus of opinion, we need be unduly pessimistic that these people will not be proud of their British nationality.
§ Mr. Roy Jenkins
I am most grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) for both the tone and the content of his speech this afternoon. By choosing to speak as he has, with the authority he commands by virtue of both his position and his personal qualities, the right hon. and learned Gentleman has made a notable contribution to good race rela- 454 tions in this country at a crucial time from this point of view.
I say at once that the two main propositions which the right hon. and learned Gentleman set forth at the beginning of his speech; that it is necessary and desirable to continue to restrict immigration into this country, and that those who are here must be treated in every way the same as the indigenous people of this country, both command my support. No doubt, we could argue exactly how they are to be interpreted, but, on the broad question, I confirm that I agree with him.
In what I have to say, I hope to be able to deal with a good number of the points which the right hon. and learned Gentleman raised, though some of them I shall leave to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, particularly detailed comments on figures and the like. My hon. Friend will reply to the debate and deal also with other points made by hon. Members on both sides.
I should, however, make it clear at the outset that I do not propose this afternoon to add anything to what I have already said about the scope of the Race Relations Bill, except to confirm that we shall lay it before Parliament and hope to pass it into law during the course of this Session. We are currently working on the details, and it will be presented to Parliament as soon as it is ready.
I can say at least something on many other matters raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman. I should like to begin, although here my view differs somewhat from his, with the Committee on Immigration Appeals, commonly called the Wilson Committee. I received and published during the Recess the Report of the Committee, which sat under the chairmanship of Sir Roy Wilson. There has been no comparable inquiry into the administration of immigration control since it was instituted in its modern form by the Aliens Act, 1905. I would like to pay tribute to Sir Roy Wilson and his colleagues on the Committee for conducting so thorough an inquiry and producing what I found to be a most valuable study of a complex and important problem.
What the Committee said in its Report bears directly on the issues we have been discussing in these annual debates for 455 many years. Many hon. Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman), have participated in them for many more years than I have. This seems to me to be the right occasion on which to inform the Committee of the general conclusions the Government have reached after careful study of the Report over the eight or nine weeks since it has been available to us. The Committee formed the impression… that, generally speaking, immigration officers act with fairness and respect for the rights and feelings of the people with whom they have to deal.It added its belief that… the great majority of cases which arise at the ports are fairly and properly decided…That opinion corresponds with my own and, I believe, with that of right hon. and hon. Members who have served in either Administration as Home Office Ministers and have thus been brought into touch with the administration of immigration control. As the Secretary of State responsible for the immigration service, I am glad that it has won this commendation from an independent committee which had opportunities to see a good deal of its work.
The Committee nevertheless recommended the establishment of a system of appeal, mainly on the ground that under the existing system it was not always apparent to immigrants, their relatives and friends and the public generally that justice was done. I am glad to be able to say—and I hope that this will command majority support, despite the slight sceptism about quasi-judicial procedures which the right hon. and learned Gentleman expressed—that the Government accept the Committee's recommendation that there should be a system of immigration appeals on the general lines that it proposed. We recognise that a system of effective control over immigration, which we all want to see applied, will be acceptable to those directly affected by it and to public opinion generally only if its fair and impartial application is guaranteed by the existence of a procedure for resolving disputed cases which measures up to present-day standards of administrative justice.
456 I should point out that a price must be paid for the advantages, which I believe are real, of having an appeal system. In its literal sense, the price will be measurable and substantial, being about £500,000 a year. Considerable numbers of staff—not vast, but considerable—will have to be found for the new system. There will also be a loss of capacity for swift and decisive action, which can generally be achieved with a service wholly under Executive control. From time to time there are also bound to be more Commonwealth citizens and aliens temporarily in this country awaiting a final decision on their application for admission or continued stay.
Under an appeal system, I, as Home Secretary, or my successors, shall no longer have the final word on the disposal of individual cases in the normal course, but I assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that I shall retain full responsibility for general policy and the efficiency of the system as a whole, and I shall, of course, continue to be answerable to the House on those matters. But I do not consider that the factors I have mentioned, taken together, constitute an exorbitant price for the advantages of having a system of appeal.
§ Mr. J. T. Price (Westhoughton)
I am in no way raising an objection to the proposed method of dealing with appeals, but could my right hon. Friend tell us if, having decided upon this course, he has any indication that we shall receive reciprocity from receiving authorities in other countries with whom we have friendly relations?
§ Mr. Jenkins
Some countries, including those which have generally operated a fairly strict degree of immigration control, such as the United States and Canada, have had appeal systems for a long time and, on the whole, have found that they have worked well and satisfactorily. I should greatly welcome it if there were reciprocity throughout the world, but if we were to wait for reciprocity we should never make any progress on this subject. I do not think that we can wait until everybody is willing to do what we do before we do what we believe to be right in the circumstances.
There are one or two points of some importance on which we do not find 457 ourselves fully in agreement with the Committee's conclusions. The first concerns the treatment of security cases, which is discussed in paragraph 144 of the Report and which I have now been able to consider in somewhat more detail. Disclosure to a security appellant of the evidence on which his presence in this country might be considered dangerous to national security, as envisaged in the Report, would in many instances inevitably compromise valuable and confidential sources of information. It might also make it worth while for someone to come here not in real hope of getting in, but to find out for intelligence purposes what was known against him. Moreover, in my view it would not be right for the Home Secretary entirely to abdicate his present responsibility for decisions which in some cases may vitally affect our national interests.
On the other hand, I would not wish to take the security cases entirely outside the ambit of the proposed appeal system and continue to deal with them at my sole discretion. I am reluctant to do this in future even with cases of a political character, which are dealt with in paragraph 143 of the Report, where the Committee recommended that they should remain within the sole discretion of the Home Secretary. I find it a little difficult to draw a valid and useful distinction between security and political cases here. What I have in mind to propose is that the Home Secretary should have power, whenever a case seemed to him inappropriate for the ordinary appeal machinery, because it raised political issues or affected national security, or both, to refer it to a special panel of members of the immigration appeal tribunal. I would reserve to myself, or future Home Secretaries, the power of final decision, but the applicant would have the advantage of having his case considered by independent and judicially-minded people to whose advice I would give full weight. Clearly, in the majority of cases, it would be decisive weight.
Another point on which we think it may t e necessary to depart from the Committee's recommendations concerns the powers of the courts to recommend offenders for deportation. I am sure that hon. Members will agree with me 458 that we ought carefully to scrutinise any proposals to transfer questions affecting the liberty of the subject from the ordinary courts of law to administrative tribunals. The arguments for and against a change in the law seem to me finely balanced, and those in favour of the Committee's recommendations are set out in paragraphs 132–135 of its Report.
On the other side, I believe that it is of great advantage to any Home Secretary deciding a question of deportation following a criminal conviction to have before him a recommendation from the judge or magistrates who have heard at first hand evidence about the circumstances of the offence and whatever can be said by way of mitigation on the offender's behalf.
The Committee was anxious to ensure that an offender had no less opportunity to put the case against his deportation than he has under the present law, and for this purpose—this is an important point—it felt bound to recommend in paragraph 178 that free legal aid should be available against proposals for deportation made on grounds other than breach of conditions of entry. Such an extension of the legal aid scheme to a particular class of proceedings before a particular administrative tribunal would, however, be very hard to justify when free legal aid is not generally available in proceedings in this country before administrative tribunals. It would be very difficult to make a special exception with regard to legal aid here. We therefore concluded that the best course is to leave the courts with their present powers to recommend offenders for deportation and provide for appeals against such recommendations to continue to be heard within the ordinary judicial system.
Legislation will, of course, be needed to give effect to the decisions which I have just announced. We have already got a fairly full programme of legislation for this Session, including a very full programme of Home Office Measures. I cannot, therefore, promise that time will be found this Session for legislation on immigration appeals, though I do not rule it out completely. But I undertake that we shall bring forward a Bill on this subject as soon as Parliamentary time can be found. I have, indeed, already set in hand work 459 for the complete recasting on a permanent basis of the whole of our immigrant control legislation for both aliens and Commonwealth citizens. I hope that, whether we can do this at the same time as the specific Wilson recommendations or not, we shall not in any event have for much longer to obtain powers from year to year by the unsatisfactory method—I think that this is widely agreed—of an Expiring Laws Continuance Bill.
What we propose in any event, however, is to take the opportunity provided by legislation on immigration appeals—on the Wilson Committee recommendations—to close a number of loopholes which have shown themselves in the Commonwealth Immigrants Act. This will not be a matter of altering the basic principle of our control over Commonwealth immigration. It will be only to remedy certain defects which have shown themselves in the Act, which we inherited and which we have been administering over the past three years. I do not at the moment propose to go into the details of the loopholes, but they will cover some of the points mentioned by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I think that this will commend itself in most parts of the Committee. The loopholes are mostly small, but the fact that they exist at all impairs not only the effectiveness but also the fairness of the immigration control.
§ Mr. Antony Buck (Colchester)
Just to clear up the position finally on the Wilson Committee's Report, do we understand that the right hon. Gentleman is accepting the Report in toto, subject to the two matters that he has just raised? If so, would he reconsider his attitude to the suggestions made in paragraph 70—I would not agree with the Report there—where the Report discards the idea of making entry certificates issued in the country of origin necessary for people to come into this country?
§ Mr. Jenkins
I shall have something to say about entry certificates a little later. The hon. Gentleman and the Committee should not assume that anything that I have said at this stage necessarily ties us to every detail of the Report which I have not mentioned. What I thought it desirable to do as early as I could was to tell the House, first, that 460 we propose to accept the general recommendations of the Report; secondly, that in two respects which I thought worth drawing to the attention of the Committee it at present appears to us that we should be right to deviate somewhat from the recommendations of the Report; and, thirdly, that accompanying this legislation will be legislation closing up loopholes.
That does not mean that when the Bill is finally worked out in detail there might not be a few other respects in which, with full consideration, we might wish to take a different view from that of this very valuable and useful Committee.
§ Mr. David Winnick (Croydon, South)
Can my right hon. Friend tell us whether the recommendation in the Wilson Report on the question of a welfare organisation at London Airport and the ports is likely to be accepted by the Government?
§ Mr. Jenkins
Yes, Sir. I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend for so neatly introducing my next paragraph.
The Committee on immigration appeals said that it would like to see established a new organisation which would provide welfare services to advise and assist Commonwealth citizens and aliens who were in difficulty with the immigration control. We accept the case for such an organisation as a useful adjunct to a system of appeal. The Committee recommended that the organisation should be set up by the combined efforts of voluntary bodies concerned with the welfare of immigrants and that the Home Office should take the initiative in promoting co-operation to this end.
That initiative has already been taken by my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State, who, last month, convened a meeting of a number of voluntary bodies to discuss the Committee's proposal. That meeting is to be followed up by further discussions with a view to working out an agreed scheme for the structure and functions of an advisory welfare organisation that measures up to the standards set by the Committee and which would qualify for support from public funds. I hope that in this way it will be possible to work out plans for an organisation which will put to good use the enthusiasm and experience that exists among those who have already been active in this field. 461 I turn generally from the recommendations of the Wilson Committee—though, as the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Buck) pointed out, this is not entirely separated from them—to say a word about entry certificates. While the Report of the Wilson Committee was being awaited no major change was carried through in the Commonwealth immigration control. That, I think, was certainly sensible. But the Government have increasingly sought to give emphasis to the importance of the entry certificate scheme as a means of reducing inconvenience and distress caused at the ports of entry when people arrive who may not be entitled to enter and who have not clarified their position in advance.
In July, my hon. Friend sent a letter to a wide range of bodies active in the immigrant field, in particular to the editors of journals which circulate widely in immigrant circles, asking them to do all they could to impress on Commonwealth citizens the great value, to them as well as to us, of the entry certificate scheme.
The Wilson Committee reaffirmed the value of entry certificates, saying:The right course in our opinion is to make it clear to all concerned by every possible means of publicity that the entry certificate is a facility offered to immigrants in their ova interests which they would be foolish not to use.It remains a matter of disappointment to the Home Office, as it was to the Committee, that only one Commonwealth citizen in five coming to the United Kingdom has an entry certificate.
The Wilson Report included a recommendation that the instructions issued to immigration officers should be clarified so as to enhance the value of an entry certificate as a virtual guarantee of admission. We have already acted on that recommendation. I announced in a Written Answer on 23rd October that I was issuing a revised instruction to immigration officers, and this has been published as a White Paper. The new instructions are not so much a departure of policy; they are more a clarification and a re-emphasis of the existing position.
An entry certificate is not a visa. The possession of one is not a necessary condition of admission. It will normally serve almost as a guarantee of admission, but there may be limited circumstances in which an entry certificate holder is refused 462 admission. Nevertheless, in future it can be clearly understood that the possession of such an entry certificate will establish a prima facie claim to admission and remove from the immigrant at the port the burden of proving that he is acceptable. The immigration officer will still have to satisfy himself that the entry cerficate was propertly obtained and that there has not been a change in circumstances since it was issued which would invalidate it. For this purpose he may still have to ask the immigrant some questions. But unless he is in doubt on these two points, he will admit the holder of the certificate.
In 1966, only 47 entry certificate holders were refused admission out of a total of 91,000 certificates issued, though, let me assure the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne), who sometimes gets a little excited about these figures, many of those who received those certificates were short-term visitors. So far this year only 38 holders out of 80,000 certificates issued have been refused. The entry certificate has already become a very substantial approach to a guarantee of admission. These new instructions serve to reinforce its value, and if that encourages more people to apply for entry certificates, it is very much the better for everybody concerned. Those who arrive without such certificates have only themselves to blame if they have to submit to a prolonged examination at the port and are eventually refused admission.
I turn to the question of the scale of immigration. The figures of Commonwealth immigration are regularly made available to the House of Commons, but it is becoming customary in these annual debates to make a statement on the broad position revealed by the latest figures that we have. This is perhaps all the more necessary in view of the expressions of opinion which we have had recently that an excessive inflow is going on.
The figures for the whole of 1966, which were published in Command Paper 3258, were significant because they gave the first indication of the effect of the Government's 1965 measures to tighten up the control. As a result, the number of voucher holders coming to work here dropped in 1966 to 5,461. That was a consequence of the Government's decision to limit the annual rate of issue of these 463 vouchers to a maximum of 8,500. The discrepancy between that figure and 8,500 was due to the fact that they were not all taken up. The figure compares with 12,880 for 1965 and 14,705 for 1964.
The reduction in the number of voucher holders arriving has continued for the first nine months of 1967. I confirm what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said. Up to the end of September, according to my figures, only 3,703 had arrived, and it seems probable that the final figures for the year will be somewhat lower than the figure for 1966.
The immigration of workers on this scale cannot possibly be of any significant effect on our current employment situation. All holders of employment vouchers either come here with jobs waiting for them—those are the holders of category A vouchers; and I apologise to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for doubting the level of his accuracy for a moment, for he was quite right and I was mistaken—or else they have obtained a category B voucher because they possess a skill which is in short supply in this country—and a skill which remains in short supply even with the current level of unemployment. Neither of these categories comes in to swell the ranks of the unemployed.
This figure of voucher holders is, in my view, of crucial importance, because it is the essential regulator of the rate of growth in the future of the immigrant population here. I shall have more to say about the voucher scheme in a moment, but the essential point about numbers is that the controlled rate is already very low indeed.
Before I leave the numerical position, however, I must deal with the major component of those coming in—the dependants of the men working here. At present, by far the largest number of Commonwealth citizens coming for settlement here—as opposed to a short-term stay—consist of dependent relatives of those already settled here. That was not the case a few years ago. Then the majority coming were people coming here to work. At present, dependants are roughly ten times the number of those coming with vouchers. 464 But that does not mean—and I hope that every hon. Member will understand this clearly—that one voucher holder produces an average of ten dependants or anything like that. What we are dealing with at present is the influx of the families of the men who have been here for several years, who entered either before 1962 when admission was unrestricted or after 1962 when vouchers were much more freely available, and who have now established themselves sufficiently to be able to send for their families to join them. Their wives and children have a statutory right of admission.
§ Sir Cyril Osborne (Louth)
Is the Home Secretary suggesting that the number of dependants in coming years is likely to fall substantially? Can he break down the composition of the dependants? How many are young children who will come into the labour force in five, six or seven years' time?
§ Mr. Jenkins
I shall have something to say about young children, and particularly about boys, very shortly, if the hon. Member will allow me to come to it in due course.
On the whole, I incline to the view that the numbers of dependants coming in—provided that we maintain the number of voucher holders permitted to come in at approximately the present level—will begin to fall in the future. But there is always an element of uncertainty about any prediction. Nevertheless, I believe that that is very likely to be the case, although, it has not yet become the case.
In my view, to separate families cannot be in the best interests of integration or of good race relations, or of the avoidance, which we have so far achieved in this country, of any significant link between race and crime. As Home Secretary, I attach very great importance to the last point. In saying that, I am to a large exent repeating more briefly what I said last year. Those who call for a shut-down on immigration must be clear what it is they are asking for—the cutting off of a very small flow of workers, many of whom make an important contribution to our economy, and the barring of wives and children from joining the head of the family.
The Government made it clear in the 1965 White Paper that it was their intention to keep the rate of immigration 465 within limits which this country had the economic and social capacity to absorb. The strategy is necessarily a medium-term one and the effect of changes in the control take time to emerge. It is not realistic to regard the flow of immigration as something which can be turned on or off at will, as the economic siutation fluctuates here. I do not think that anyone who advocates that we should block it completely, if there is any seasonal unemployment, would advocate that, if we moved back into a situation in which there were 150,000 or 200,000 more vacancies than jobs, we should put the labour voucher ratio up that year to 150,000 or 200,000. That would be the logical corollary of taking that point of view.
We are now having to live with the consequences of the rate of immigration that went on before 1965 and, because of the continued flow of dependants, the total figure of those admitted for settlement in 1967 is likely by the end of the year to be quite substantially higher than that for 1966, perhaps by one-fifth or even one-quarter. Most of the increase is due to a very steep rise in the number of boys under 16 coming from Pakistan—a large part of the increase at any rate. I would ask my hon. Friend to check, I am not sure whether "most" is accurate as "most" clearly means over 50 per cent. A large part of the increase is accounted for by this.
Large numbers also come from India and the West Indies, but the most marked increase has been in the numbers from Pakistan. This worries me quite considerably. Many of the boys are very nearly 16. If they go to school for a short time they present a great problem of absorbtion in the schools. In any event, they soon find their way on to the labour market and they do so with very little United Kingdom background, educationally or in other ways. They come at almost the worst age from the point of view of successful integration, and furthermore they come, to a large extent, to join only a single parent, almost invariably the father, while the mother stays in Pakistan or India. This does not result in full reunion of a family, only in splitting it in a different way. Frequently, in consequence, they come to live in all-male households, and the welfare aspects of this, apart from other considerations, 466 cause me considerable concern. I am not in a position to announce measures to deal with it, but I shall certainly keep this problem under very close review.
§ Mr. J. T. Price
On this particular aspect of immigration from Pakistan, has the Home Secretary any information about how many of these young people are coming in quite voluntarily, without prompting, and how many are being recruited by agencies known to exist on the Indian sub-continent for bringing them in for various reasons? This concerns not my constituency, but part of the West Riding of Yorkshire. Are these immigrants coming in of their own volition, or recruited by some agency set up in India?
§ Mr. Jenkins
It is necessarily very difficult to be clearly aware of what is the position. They certainly come voluntarily in the sense that they get on to the plane and get off the plane without duress. They come to join their parents, although in some cases there is an element of suspicion as to whether the man is the parent. This aspect presents immigration officers with some of their most difficult jobs, deciding what is and what is not a right case to admit.
While we are on this subject I should refer to the position of the Asian communities in East Africa, as the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone asked me. There is a great deal of misunderstanding about this.
Mr. Richard Sharpies (Sutton and Cheam)
Would the right hon. Gentleman deal with the point about the registration of families, particularly with the question of these boys coming in from Pakistan? Would registration at the time of entry make a contribution to solving the problem?
§ Mr. Jenkins
I am by no means convinced that this is a solution to the problem. My hon. Friend has it specifically in mind to deal with this in a little detail in his winding-up speech, and, as I have a number of points to cover, and wish to do so without wearying the Committee, perhaps I could leave this point with him.
I was referring to the position of the Asian communities in East Africa. These people are citizens of the United Kingdom 467 and Colonies. This is the starting point which we must accept. Because of uneasiness about their position under African Governments in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania they may wish to come to this country. These people are mainly of Indian and Pakistan stock, though they or their forebears have mostly not been in India or Pakistan for a number of generations. They form an important community in the East African territories, and have done so for many years, providing many of the professional and commercial services of these communities. They have a rôle to play in the economy of the newly-emerging African countries of East Africa, and they have a large stake in these countries.
Most of them have never lived anywhere else. It is understandable that at present some of them may feel uncertain about their future, but nothing approaching an exodus has occurred. Members of these communities have been coming to the United Kingdom for several years, at an annual rate of about 6,000. There has been a regular seasonal peak of arrivals in the third quarter of the year. This year it is clear that the numbers arriving will be substantially higher than in previous years, and, by the end of October, 10,286 had arrived. The seasonal peak was higher, but the figure still does not amount to anything approaching a mass exodus.
It must be borne in mind that these people are not exploiting a loophole in our control. They are exercising a right which they acquired at the time the countries in which they lived became independent—1963 in the case of Kenya, 1962 in that of Uganda and 1964 in that of Tanzania—as a result of decisions reached in consultation between the new Governments of these territories, and the United Kingdom Government of those years.
These people enjoyed at that time the status of citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies by reason of their connection with a colonial territory. They nearly all possess at present United Kingdom and Colonies passports. These were not acquired by accident, but, if I may say so, with the compliments of the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys), who was Commonwealth Secretary at the time that the independence arrangements
468 were negotiated. The arrangements reached at independence provided that if they did not acquire the citizenship of the new Commonwealth country they would retain their existing status as citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies. If this had not been provided they would have become Stateless.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman
What legal authority defines who becomes a citizen of a new country such as Kenya?
§ Mr. Jenkins
It depends on the enactments made by the new country on achieving independence which, in these cases, were a matter of agreement with the United Kingdom Government of the day which negotiated the independence agreement.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman
Is it possible then, in certain cases, for a man not to know whether he is a citizen of this country or not?
§ Mr. Jenkins
I think it possible in a whole variety of cases throughout the world for a man not to be certain of which country he is a citizen. This arises on the borderline. I hope that my hon. Friend will forgive me if I move on. It is certainly possible for this borderline situation to arise in a great number of cases.
§ Mr. Jenkins
The right hon. and learned Gentleman is right. They had the right to opt for United Kingdom and Colonies citizenship if they did not feel that their future would be secure, and a substantial number of them did so opt. This does not present a problem. We take the view that these people have a great deal to contribute in the countries in which they are living and in which they have their roots. We have pointed this out to the Governments of the countries concerned. I believe that those countries would be poorer without the benefit of these people who have played such a very substantial part in the development of our Colonies for a long time past.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)
Could the right hon. Gentleman tell us what the national status is of the children of the holders of these passports?
§ Mr. Jenkins
I had better ask my hon. Friend to provide a detailed answer to that. Nationality questions are extremely complicated, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows.
§ Mr. Sandys (Streatham)
Would the right hon. Gentleman give the number of those who are eligible to hold or already hold British passports in this category?
§ Mr. Jenkins
The nearest figure which I can give is about 190,000 from the three territories, of whom the great majority have British passports in their possession, so we believe. Under the law, the others are entitled to British passports, but we believe that the overwhelming majority already have British passports.
I turn to a slightly different aspect, and that is the question of evasion of immigration control, which must give rise to some concern and which took a somewhat spectacular turn this summer with the episode of the much publicised Sandwich Bay landing. On 22nd August, a party of eight Pakistanis were detected landing from a small boat. As a result of prompt information given by a member of the public and prompt action by the police and immigration authorities, they were taken almost immediately into custody, refused admission and held in Canterbury Prison while arrangements were made for their repatriation. They had no documents of any kind. It was necessary for them to be held for a period while the Pakistani authorities arranged for the issue of fresh documents so that they could be returned. During the interval, they were closely questioned about the methods by which they had arrived here, and a great deal of very useful information came into the hands of the police as a result. They were returned to Pakistan by air on 10th September.
This episode understandably attracted a great deal of public attention and interest, and subsequent comment may have left the impression that a great deal of evasion by this method is taking place. In fact, the Government know of only 470 one other instance of a landing from a small boat. During proceedings taken before the Bradford magistrates in October against another citizen of Pakistan for an offence under the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, evidence was produced that he had arrived in May with a party of 18 others in such a boat. The information which he gave was added to the evidence about this traffic, and inquiries are in progress here and in other countries.
I do not think that we can assume that there have been no other landings of this kind, but we have no information about them and certainly no evidence at all to support the assumption that a large number of illegal immigrants have found their way into the country by this method. Entry illegally by this method is numerically a small problem, but, nonetheless, a problem which should be dealt with, and we shall endeavour to deal with it as vigorously as possible.
§ Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)
Would the right hon. Gentleman comment on the point which is often raised about the loophole or evasion of immigrants coming through Ireland?
§ Mr. Jenkins
This implies that the people have got through the Irish control, because once one is through it there is no control between the two islands. I cannot guarantee that there is no evasion in this way, but we think that this is a very small problem and that the Irish control, broadly speaking, operates effectively.
It has been suggested that our powers to deal with this type of evasion—what I might roughly call the Sandwich Bay type of evasion—are handicapped by a provision in the 1962 Act which has the effect that immigrants who enter by this means can remain at large in this country without committing any offence if they succeed in remaining here undetected for the first 24 hours. There is certainly a case for stopping up this loophole and it is among the points which I have in mind for strengthening the control when further legislation is introduced. But it has not so far given rise to any practical difficulty. The Sandwich Bay evaders were dealt with effectively well within the 24-hour limit.
Of much greater consequence numerically is the possibility of evasion by 471 those who arrive through the immigration control, but try to base a claim to admission on a false age, or a false relationship, or a false intention to leave the country again after a short period. These are the cases which cause so much difficulty for immigration officers and which often lead to refusal of admission. So far as is consistent with the proper and reasonable exercise of their powers, and so far as the evidence available to them permits, immigration officers do their best to detect attempted evasion by this means and to deal with it.
This problem leads to most difficult cases for the immigration officers. The public and the Press are, I believe, on their side in general in working an effective immigration control, but by no means always in particular. When hard cases arise, sympathy tends to go the other way, and it is very difficult indeed to operate any effective immigration control without some hard cases arising. In my view, this is an argument for having an immigration appeal system to give the feeling that hard cases are considered properly.
I should like to make one other point on this form of evasion by giving false particulars. It is different in one important respect from what I describe as the Sandwich Bay type of evasion. That type of evasion, which I believe to be numerically very small, does not show in the immigration figures; this type of evasion does show in the immigration figures. These people should not be here on their merits, as it were, but they are not additional to the figures of the people whom we know about as coming here. There is a significant difference between the effect of the two forms of evasion.
Apart from that, there is the problem of the visitor who is admitted for a short period and ignores the conditions of his admission or over-stays his time. Allegations have been made that a very large number of people resident here have evaded the control in this way, but they cannot be proved; no fully reliable figures are available. From time to time, attempts have been made to estimate the scale of this evasion, and the total of 10,000—sometimes I have seen the figure of 10,000 a year mentioned—tends to crop up.
472 The origin of that figure is possibly to be found in a statement made by my predecessor, my noble Friend Lord Stow Hill, as he now is, in 1964, that the difference between the numbers of immigrants admitted for settlement up to that date and the number known still to be in the country showed a figure of 10,000 unaccounted for. That was a total of 10,000, and certainly not 10,000 a year. But experience since then leads us to suppose that this particular calculation is no reliable indicator of the extent of evasion.
The number of people in the country at any moment of time—that is to say, the excess of arrivals over departures—will include large numbers of people who are here for visits, business or study and will shortly depart. It will also include any people who have evaded the control by one means or another, but, although the number of these is not exactly measurable—if we knew more about them we could deal with them—we have no reason to suppose that the number is high. In this field, as in some others connected with immigration, exaggerated figures get about, and I believe that many of the figures quoted are greatly exaggerated.
That brings me to the end of the main points on which I wish to give the Committee information about the position and our intentions. This is a subject of vital importance to the House of Commons and to the country, to the social cohesion of the country and to a number of other considerations.
It is vitally important that we approach this subject in a cool and calm way—not pushing it under the carpet, but discussing it rationally; not whipping up prejudice one way or the other, but proceeding on the basis of the facts and looking at solutions both from the point of view of keeping immigration within what we can absorb and making absolutely sure that, for those who are here and for those who are entitled to come here in future, we give them the full protection of British law and ensure that they do not become a submerged and ill-treated minority.
These debates on the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill have assumed a pattern in the House of Commons for many years. There have been requests that they should not be continued and that, instead, 473 we should have permanent legislation because, it is said, it is unsatisfactory to proceed on this year-to-year basis. I hope that, as a result of what I have been able to announce this afternoon—while I certainly cannot say that there will not be another such debate—there will be very few more of these debates. I believe that that would be generally welcome, not because it would avoid our discussing the subject but because it would mean that we were able to put our legislation on a more permanent and rational basis.
§ Mr. Sandys
Can the right hon. Gentleman say when we might expect this further legislation? Will it be during the present Session? Is he proposing to take any action to reduce the possible flow of immigrants from East Africa, following his remarks?
§ Mr. Jenkins
I dealt with both of those points. The right hon. Gentleman looked as though he was listening on both occasions when I mentioned them. I have nothing to add to what I said in my speech on both topics.
§ Sir David Renton (Huntingdonshire)
The whole House will, I am sure, agree with the Home Secretary's peroration, when he laid aside his notes and described what he considered to be the good purpose of these debates. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) pointed out that a wide consensus has been reached between both sides of the Committee—but, of course, consensus does not mean complete agreement and there would be no need for a debate of this sort if there were complete agreement. However, I hope that those who happen to disagree with any of the points that I make will still wish to join with me in keeping the temperature of the debate nice and cool.
In commenting on some of the detailed points mentioned by the Home Secretary, I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will not mind my referring, first, to the Wilson Report. I am sure that the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman) will wish me to point out that there is no system of immigration appeal in Canada. There is only a system whereby, if the immigration officer is in doubt, he may refer to somebody called a special inquiry officer, who is on the spot. But 474 there is no right of appeal, and I believe that their practice would fall short of our requirements.
I take the line of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone rather than the line of the Home Secretary in my attitude towards the recommendations of the Wilson Committee. If we carried out those recommendations in their entirety, they might to some extent defeat their own purpose; but we shall have legislation on this subject one day and I do not wish to say any more about it now.
I wish again to pay tribute to the immigration officers whose task has not been any easier since we debated this matter last year. I saw some Press reports a few weeks ago to the effect that they were sending a delegation to see the Home Secretary to explain their difficulties to him. I hope that the Under-Secretary will tell the House what has resulted from that approach.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone referred to his agnosticism about the population problem, but he went so far as to say—I thought that this was being extremely venturesome for him, knowing his views, privately of course, as I do—that this country was not under-populated. I hope that before long we shall have a full debate on the population problem. After all, it is one of the reasons for our immigration controls and must be in the background of our minds when discussing them.
My right hon. and learned Friend may care to remember something which is often overlooked; that the United Kingdom is the fifth most densely populated country in the world, if we leave aside the small island and city states. England itself, taken as a separate territory, rivals Holland and Formosa—now Taiwan—as the most densely populated areas of the globe, each having a population of more than 900 to the square mile. The population of the United Kingdom is now about 55 million. We are told that by the end of the century, if present trends continue, it will be 73 million. Many people already consider England to be over-populated, and I believe that within a few years almost everyone will hold that view. We are told that we shall have 25 million cars on our roads 475 by 1980, which is not far off. When our children and grandchildren are grappling with this problem, perhaps in despair, they will wonder why on earth we added to it by allowing a steady increase of foreigners and Commonwealth immigrants each year.
Let us consider first the inflow of foreigners. There is a large annual increase of our foreign population each year. It is often overlooked, partly because it is not easy to measure. One way of measuring it is to take the numbers who land each year and to deduct both those who leave and those who are naturalised. That will obviously not give a perfect picture, however, if we take one year at a time, but I have with me the figures for the nine-year period from the beginning of 1958 until the end of 1966, and we find that in that period the average permanent net increase of foreigners here was 17,585 a year.
If the Under-Secretary can correct that figure, make it more precise, argue with my calculation or suggest a better way of measuring the annual increase of foreigners, he should do so because it should not escape our attention when we are dealing with these immigration problems. I do not accept as the yardstick the number of foreigners listed in the figures as merely having come here for 12 months or more because if we take that then it will not give a truly accurate picture. It is because of that increase of 17,585 per year on average over that nine year period that, in my opinion, there is an unnecessary permanent annual addition to our problem through aliens alone.
§ Mr. Paul B. Rose (Manchester, Blackley)
Would not the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree, however, that if one looks at the figures covering recent years one sees that, by and large, the increase to which he has referred is more than compensated for by the number of people who emigrate from this country to various parts of the globe?
§ Sir D. Renton
I agree. Emigration, which I regard as a very good thing, and immigration have almost cancelled each other out in the last few years, but we must remember that throughout the whole of the last century and right up to 1914 a large proportion of our popula- 476 tion emigrated every year; and I would prefer to see a very large scale net figure for emigration. However, so long as we have a permanent addition of aliens and Commonwealth immigrants each year, we will not get that.
§ Sir D. Renton
I will not give way. I am trying to cover almost as much ground as that covered by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone and the Home Secretary. If I give way any further, I will not make the progress I must to cover these points.
I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will tell us what policy reasons justify this regular increase in the alien population, especially with our large number of unemployed and the shortage of houses?
As to Commonwealth immigrants, now that the 1962 Act has been in operation for five years, I suggest that this is a good moment to consider its overall results and the trends it has established. Remembering that it was intended to limit the flow of immigrants to our capacity to absorb them, it is interesting to find that between 1st July, 1962, when the control started, and 30th September this year, the last date we had, the total net increase from all Commonwealth countries was 294,230 people.
Of those, it is interesting to find, 73,640 were men, 101,294 were women, and 119,296 were children under 16, very much the largest proportion. We know there are some reasons for that. Of course, to these figures there must be added a marginal figure for evasions. I join with the Home Secretary in that, although I deplore evasions, one should not exaggerate them. But there is one figure which Lord Stow Hill gave, and which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned just now, which is really evasion due to people staying after their time condition has expired. It may be that the Government have managed to tighten up that type of evasion. It may be that it is still impossible to measure it, but if the Under-Secretary of State could say something about that I think he would be giving useful information to the Committee.
There has been a considerable reduction in the number of vouchers issued. 477 There has therefore been a smaller net increase in the number of men immigrants in the last 24 months. But, as I shall mention later, I think it should and could be reduced further.
As to the net increase in the number of women, it, too, has steadily declined in the past 36 months, and, indeed, it is a surprisingly modest figure for the first nine months of this year, but, strangely enough, in the past two and three-quarter years the net increase of children under 16 has grown steadily and considerably, contrary, I think, to what my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone suggested. I am sorry he is not in the Chamber; I will apologise to him later, but I was rather mystified by the figure which he got. I am using only figures published by the Government, and I will give them in a moment.
In the comparable debate to this, on 17th November, 1964, the Minister of Labour said, on this question of children, which is the question to which I wish to devote most of my remarks from now on:Let us not shrink from the problems of education. The right hon. Gentleman"—that was my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle), who was Minister of Education—used a figure which we have come to accept as true. He said that when there are more than 30 per cent. the problems in the schools mount.That means more than 30 per cent. of immigrants in any one school. The Minister added:Let no one in this Committee shrink from the fact that, if our own children's education is going to be affected because there are more than 30 per cent., we do something."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th November, 1964; Vol. 702, c. 383.]What he went on to suggest that we do was to take "remedial measures". I suppose that could mean more teachers, more schools, or fewer immigrants, but that is what the Minister of Labour then said, and that I understand still to be Government policy.
What position has now been reached with regard to this 30 per cent.? In answer to a Question put last week by my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall), the Minister of State 478 for Education said that in January this year there were no fewer than 444 schools spread over 40 local education authority areas in which the number of immigrant pupils exceeded 30 per cent. of the school roll. This state of affairs is hardly surprising—here I come back to the figures—because between 1st January, 1965, and 31st December, 1966, there was a net increase of immigrant children under 16 of over 51,000, and now this year, in the first nine months, 26,780 more must be added. So the position with regard to the 30 per cent. must be even more acute now than it was in January.
I should mention that, on the figures which I have given, roughly three out of five of the children in the totals of net increase have come from India and Pakistan, and, as we know, many of them do not speak English and cannot read or write any language. I was reassured to hear the Home Secretary say that to some extent the figures from Pakistan are explained by the fact that there are a number of boys aged 15 who in the first nine months of this year have come in, but it would need to be a very considerable number of boys aged 15 to make those figures look reassuring, and I wonder if the Under-Secretary of State could tell us how many such boys the Home Secretary had in mind when he mentioned this to the Committee.
I therefore say, with sincere reluctance but without hesitation, that the flow of children must somehow be reduced, because, as the Minister of Labour said, "if our own children's education is going to be affected … we do something." The latest figures published show that in January we still had 11.9 per cent. of classes in primary schools over-size and no less than 37.7 per cent. in secondary schools. We have a high birth-rate with a great many of our own children coming forward into the schools; we have the prospect—we hoped it would be a bright prospect—of the school leaving age being raised; we have a shortage of teachers. I do not think that it would be fair, to immigrant children already here or fair to the children who will be coming into the schools whatever the origin of their parents in the years to come, to let the numbers of immigrant children go on increasing. I hope I am as good a family man as anybody else; I have three children of my own; and I certainly do not 479 like seeing families split. Therefore I say we should try to reduce the intake of children without splitting families if we can possibly do so.
Now what can we do? The Home Secretary has mentioned legislation, but I do not think that all the things that might be done require legislation. The first thing I should have thought could be done administratively under the present system—to say quietly but firmly to men already here, "We give you three months to state once and for all what dependants you want to bring in", and if that is done their claims can be checked and entry certificates granted if the claims are valid.
While speaking about entry certificates, I would say that I welcome what the Home Secretary said about the proposed extension of the practice. At the time when the Commonwealth Immigrants Act was passed we really did think that the entry certificate method would eventually become the usual method, but, speaking for myself, I have been disappointed that it has not been used as extensively as it might have been. There, at any rate, is an opportunity of reducing numbers—by extension of the entry certificates. I think that the Government probably agree with this suggestion. The only point at issue is whether it can be done administratively or whether it needs legislation, and then we would just have to wait.
Secondly, I think that, in spite of what the Home Secretary said, we should reduce the A vouchers still further. Those are the vouchers given to those who are supposed to have a job to come to. He puts this forward as a very small thing, but there are more than 8,500 of the Class A certificates a year available, of which 5,000 are taken up.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Ennals)
If the right hon. and learned Gentleman is talking about A vouchers, the figure is about 2,000 a year. The figure for B vouchers is about 5,500.
§ Sir D. Renton
I am very much obliged for the hon. Gentleman's intervention. I do not suggest that the B vouchers should be interfered with, but I cannot see the need for any further A vouchers. Even if the figure is only 2,000 and, on aver- 480 age, a man brings in one wife and two children, in any one year that represents a total net increase of 8,000 immigrants. It may be that that is marginal in relation to the total problem, but in my opinion the total problem is considerable. We undertook to limit the numbers to the country's capacity to absorb them, and we have to look at all the possibilities. The Government intend to tighten up on evasions, and that should reduce still further the number of children coming into the education system.
In addition, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) suggested, we can say that if men wish to be reunited with their families they can rejoin them in their own countries. My right hon. Friend wrote that in a newspaper article which attracted a lot of attention. I should have thought that, if necessary, they could be repatriated at public expense in order to do so. Repatriation is what many families here would like, I understand, but they cannot afford it. We should offer it generously to them in the name of humanity. Not all these people wanted to come, and by no means all of them want to stay. The public expense would not be great, because the cost of fares would be offset by the saving of the sums involved in educating and housing them and in welfare services.
I have re-read the Home Secretary's interesting speech of last year, in which he said that the only substantial impact which could be made would be by going back on policies regarding dependants. As one of those originally responsible for those policies, I say that owing to the way in which they have worked out we ought to ensure that they do not conflict with the even more important aim of limiting the numbers to our capacity to absorb them socially and economically. With unemployment rising, acute housing shortages continuing, with the education difficulties which I have mentioned and the certainty ahead of a problem of overpopulation, we shall be failing the electorate if we allow further large numbers of children to enter. I hope that the Government will do something about it.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Southall)
I did not intend originally to follow many of 481 the arguments put forward by the right hon. and learned Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton). How-ever, feel that I should make some comment upon them since I have a quite considerable constituency interest and, of course, a considerable constituency experience, as the House will probably remember.
In Southall at present there is one primary school where as many as 60 per cent. of its pupils are immigrant children. There is another school with a percentage as high as 40. I visited those schools recently and I found them working very well. In the classes which have been put aside for special problem children, immigrant children represent no higher a proportion than those who come from the aboriginal population.
However, I accept readily that it is a problem, and certainly it has been one for all those involved in the local authority, though I put it to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that it is not a problem arising from the overall presence of children of immigrant parents. Statistically, I understand that an immigrant child is one born of immigrant parents who have not resided in the United Kingdom for more than ten years.
One can see the difficulty of concerning oneself exclusively with figures. Hon. Members may have heard the old story about figures being liars. They are rather like bikinis: what they reveal is interesting, but what they conceal is vital. Dealing exclusively in figures can land one up a gum tree.
The natural reaction of anyone who puts forward views such as those of the right hon. and learned Gentleman is to go to the opposite extreme, plead compassion and be unrealistic about the total problem. I do not intend to do that, because I have a duty to my constituents to be as realistic as I can.
Just as I have no overall sympathy with the views of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, which I have heard expressed from time to time both in contributions to our debates and in Questions in the House, so I have criticisms of those who tend to say that only 2 per cent. of our population can be classified as immigrant people. The trouble is that they all appear to be in Southall. I know that that is an exaggera- 482 tion, but it is true to say that they are quartered in particular areas of the country, and I know that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State is as concerned about the position as those on the spot.
That brings me to consider wider questions than the effect upon education, by which I mean such matters as employment and housing. In the first place, we take the economic base. That is the provision of a job. Where the job is situated determines where the man has his home and family and where his children are likely to be educated.
In Southall, an attempt is made to reduce the percentage of immigrant children in schools by taking them on a coach ride to other schools within the London Borough of Ealing. However, that does not always succeed, because, in what was the old Hambrough Ward of Southall, one sees the growth towards an Indian-only community, and it is Indian-only rather than an immigrant community because there are few other immigrants. Although the word is bandied around loosely, there are few Pakistanis, and there are few West Indians and others who were not born in the British Isles. It is essentially an Indian assimilation problem, and it would be less than honest if I did not inform the House that it is a continuing and running problem.
The presence of Indian people living with other kinds of people in my constituency is an uneasy association all the time. There are natural barriers to free association, one of the greatest in this case being that of language. As has already been pointed out, it is made worse by the fact that more wives are coming and more single women are coming to marry here. Then again, children are coming who are just under the age of 16 and within the regulation age limit.
This language difficulty affects the women in particular, because their failure to communicate with their neighbours is a real barrier indeed. What do we do about it? I find more than an element of contradiction in the right hon. and learned Gentleman's approach to the problem. He really let it out during his speech that, as opposed to his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) who led for the 483 Opposition, he was not wildly enthusiastic about an extension of the Race Relations Act, which was in the Queen's Speech and is likely to be—
§ Sir D. Renton
I did not mention that part of the subject and I did not mention anything to do with the Race Relations Act.
§ Mr. Bidwell
All right. I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman, his hon. Friends and those who feel and think as he does, to review their thinking from time to time. A change from the present concentrated position can only come if better job and housing opportunities are open.
We can take as a case point the situation which exists in Southall Constituency, which includes Hanwell, which is almost the whole of the W.7 postal area of London. A third of those on the electoral register actually reside on the other side of the Brent. At the risk of boring the House I want to dwell on this, because it is of considerable significance in looking at the problem as a whole and on the national scale. There is an accumulation of oldish Victorian property mostly freely available on the market and, therefore, available for purchase, which is what the Indian people tend to wish to do rather than to become members of the queue for local authority houses. I must dwell on this for a moment, because when the local authority, the London Borough of Ealing, was trying to grapple with this problem of how it was to include immigrant people in the local authority housing application queue, the Conservative minority on the council proposed a change to a scheme along the lines of not admitting anyone who had not been born in the United Kingdom unless they had been resident for 15 years as opposed to and as compared with the normal five years.
I ask hon. Gentlemen who are associated with this discriminatory proposal to think coolly of the illogicality of this situation. There were a few Labour dissidents, who were ultimately expelled from the Labour group on the council 484 in consequence of their clamouring to support the proposition of the Tory minority. It was a most disgraceful and a totally illogical proposal, because it would have meant that there could have been no local authority mitigation of the considerable pressure on housing accomodation in this neighbourhood.
At the same time, I accept that this is a considerable problem and I accept, therefore, some of the critical observations that have been made. I share the attitude of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary towards the leading spokesman for the Opposition in this debate. He has set the tone right, although those Members who have been here longer will remember that I did pick him up when he seemed to be showing greater compassion towards an Australian immigrant than he would probably to a West Indian in similar circumstances, or his actress friend or his Swiss associate. I submit that there can be no distinction in any regulation concerning the intake of immigrants as to whether one is born in the West Indies or in Australia. Otherwise, one is subscribing to the view that all we are interested in is the old Commonwealth and not in equal standing so far as the whole of the British Commonwealth is concerned.
§ Mr. John Page
We have been listening with great interest to what the hon. Gentleman has been saying. In view of the very high proportion of Commonwealth immigrants in his constituency and the problems which he admitted that produces, does he consider it desirable that more immigrants should come into Southall and live there? If he thinks that, how many more should be absorbed, or would he like to say that now is about the limit?
§ Mr. Bidwell
I do not think that one can put a figure on it. Idealistically, I would like to see less people who could be classified as immigrants in my constituency. All our immigrant people realise this. It was because of my forthrightness in the General Election that I think I had the general support of not only the old working class population but also the Indian population. I went to leaders of the Indian community and put my cards on the table immediately. I had always thought that it was unrealistic 485 not to accept that there should be control and that there should be absolute equality of opportunities once people are in this country, and I have stuck rigidly by that point of view.
It will come as no surprise to the local Indian people in Southall when they read my speech, as they will be entitled to do, that I think there are too many Indian people concentrated in a particular quarter inside my constituency. I have in fact discussed this problem, and the intellectuals in the Indian community freely accept that it does not make for the best harmonious conditions and future development if we have a heavy concentration of immigrant people in this way.
This has come about as a result of this kind of island of oldish property. I was born and went to school in this area. I am an unusual Member of the House of Commons in that respect, though there may be a few others who were born in the constituencies that they represent in this House. I am proud to say that I have a daughter, and now a grandchild, residing there.
I put this point of view, because I think it stems from a realism of an acute situation of immigrant concentration, and I freely accept the point just made by the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. John Page).
I am constantly involved with the problems of Indian immigrant people as distinct from any other kind. As a result of my anxiety to understand the kind of background from which these people came, it was suggested that I make a visit to India. The Indian Government very kindly arranged that in January of this year and agreed to meet the expenses of my wife and myself on a trip to India concentrating on Northern India, Jullundur City and its surrounding villages, from which most of our people come. I had formed a view before going to India about the problem of the intake of Indian people and their assimilation into the British way of life, and nothing that I saw on that two weeks trip countermanded or set aside any of the general conclusions at which I had previously arrived. It was a very rich experience indeed.
But the local authority and our local people generally are concerned about the prospects of the consolidation, for want 486 of a better term, of the ghetto in my constituency. The ghetto, I think, literally applies to a concentration of a Jewish community, but it is a word which is now freely used and often appears without the inverted commas. However, I think we all know what we are driving at. Indeed, some people and some Tories have in the past advocated that we should have Asian-only communities. Prior to the General Election of 1966 one extremist in our locality actually proposed that immigrant people, Commonwealth people, should not be allowed to vote until they had resided here for three years. I submit that that would have been a retrograde step, because if we expect immigrant people to adapt themselves to the British way of life we must not give them second-class citizen treatment. If we expect them to rise to the first-class citizen opportunities which are available for them here we must give them first-class treatment and there must be no back-pedalling.
At the Labour Party conference at Scarborough this year I asked the chairman to call me if the subject of race relations was discussed. He did not do so. I thought that I had a secret agreement with him because he visited my constituency a fortnight before that date to open a district office of the A.E.U., but that is by the way. I was disappointed at not being called, not because the resolution concerning the necessity to extend the Race Relations Act was not excellently moved by the young man who was called on to move it, but because the second part of the resolution which dealt with the need to give greater assistance to local authorities involved with the problems of resettling immigrants was not discussed.
The Motion referred to the need to extend the Race Relations Act to ensure that immigrants had equal opportunities with their British counterparts in jobs, in housing, in insurance, and so on. It also dealt with the heavy burden laid on the shoulders of the local authorities concerned, and although a plea has been made tonight that we should avoid this annual discussion of the problem, I submit that it is a continuing one for the local people, and that one discerns racialists battening on to the situation in, for example, Southall. In fact a local organisation which is linked with wider 487 racialist implications will be fighting for seats at next year's local authority elections.
Time marches on, and there have been some rather interesting developments in my constituency. For some time I have suggested that the Indian people in my constituency should play their full part in the British way of life. This is what it is suggested they should do before they leave India. This means joining not only the Labour Party but the Conservative Party, and others, too. In fact, it turns out that the local Conservative Party has been the first to take my advice and has adopted an Indian as one of its local authority candidates for the elections next spring. The Labour Party, too, has adopted a local Indian as a candidate. He has an advantage in that he resides in the ward which he will contest as distinct from the Tory Indian, if I may so call him, who does not. The Labour candidate therefore has an edge on his opponent, and one must remember, too, that this is a Labour stronghold anyway.
§ Mr. Robert Howarth (Bolton, East)
Would my hon. Friend care to suggest how the concentration of immigrants in his constituency and in certain others might be dispersed? He mentioned this as a special problem. How does he think it can be solved?
§ Mr. Bidwell
I am obliged to my hon. Friend for that intervention. I do not advocate the machine-gun method of moving people out. I think that it must be done gradually. The concentration has come about largely because of job and housing circumstances, but it will move on. There is nothing so constant as change, and it is therefore important that young people should be given the maximum job opportunities consistent with their experience and educational qualifications. No bar should be placed in their way. It is only by voluntary assimilation that the problem can be solved. It can be dealt with in no other way.
It has to be recognised that those who give blanket descriptions of about 2 per cent. of our population do not do the local situation one little bit of good.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Wilson (Truro)
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman has gone 488 into the problem deeply enough. The objection to immigrants is not confined to people from overseas. In Cornwall we object to the immigrant English, and I have heard serious objections to London's overspill coming to our part of the world.
§ Mr. Bidwell
I have enjoyed many holidays in Cornwall. I have found that although they enjoy receiving a monetary advantage from visitors, they are a little parochial.
The tone of the debate was set in the right key by the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) when he described the British as a mongrel race. I accept that as a fact of life. No doubt some people do not like it, but when the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that, I thought that he had been making a proposal on this question, and doing so as the Home Secretary—and looking round the Chamber I find that I have a lot of sympathy with his point of view—his statement would have been headlined in the newspapers. No doubt the same thing would have happened if my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary had allowed himself to use this somewhat extravagant language. It seems to me that if we are mongrel race we have no right to call ourselves a race at all, and the whole question is, what is race?
I think that there is a place for national pride, and for patriotism, but there is no place for chauvinism. When we look at the world, we realise that we are in the process of cutting ourselves down to size, and this is one way of doing it, although the right hon. and learned Gentleman used a great big chopper when he described us as a mongrel race.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman
Does my hon. Friend realise that the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) did not invent that phrase? It was invented by a man called Daniel Defoe who, in a long poem entitled "The True-Born Englishman" which he wrote at the beginning of the 18th century, described the various factors which went into the formation of this mongrel race.
§ Mr. Bidwell
I accept that. I remember when I was a trade union education officer, reading some material put out by U.N.E.S.C.O. on the subject of what is race. I think that there was held to be 489 some validity in it if one alluded to the Hottentots, or to some North American tribes. Apart from them, there was not sufficient evidence available to enable other people to be defined as a race.
As I said a moment ago, there is a place for national pride. There is, therefore, a place for some of the feeling which working class communities such as mine have in not liking the coming of immigrant peoples 10 this country, specially when they come from one country in such large numbers. One feels that there is far more crude racialist feeling outside the constituency than in it.
I do not know whether hon. Members will recollect it, but I was involved in a case under the Race Relations Act. I do not wish to dwell upon it. It was a most unfortunate experience. I was not responsible for bringing that case, but it revealed the weaknesses of the present legislation. It certainly revealed weaknesses when I was asked by the court if I were a member of the National Socialist movement, and whether the fact that I was handed a leaflet talking about keeping the blacks out really stimulated anti-black feelings on my part. This showed me that there are certainly some weaknesses about the present legislation.
That is now history, and I mention it only because, arising out of it, I received many abusive letters showing me that the case had helped to stimulate racialist feelings throughout the British Isles.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. Arthur Probert)
Order The hon. Member will agree that I have been fairly tolerant during the last few minutes. I hope that he will now cease to discuss the question of race relations. I speak as a Welshman.
§ Mr. Bidwell
I am coming to the end of my speech, Mr. Probert. I have tried to reflect the local feelings about the difficulties and problems which exist in my constituency, which is an extreme case. Southall has the heaviest concentration of immigrant people—mostly Indian—of all constituencies. This matter excited some attention at the last general election, together with the happenings in Slough and Smethwick.
There are real problems of overcrowding and education, and I plead with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and the Parliamentary Secretary—I 490 realise that this may not be their department—always to give the most sympathetic consideration to any overture and representations made to them by local authorities, including education authorities, and to give them all possible assistance in line with the decisions taken at the Labour Party conference. I plead with them to adopt this attitude in future, because the problem has not ended; it is a continuing one. I have faith in the warm-hearted nature of the working people of my constituency who have risen to the test and will continue to do so in the future.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Gurden (Birmingham, Selly Oak)
I cannot ignore some of the statements and comments made by the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell). I hope to refer to some of them later. We have come a long way since 1961, when we first debated these matters. If my memory serves me correctly the Home Secretary's speech today would have been shouted down by his party as disgraceful if he had made it then. I also take issue with some of the statements made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg). I claim that he does not speak for the whole of our party. Some of us would prefer stricter controls, and have always held the view that the Act is too generous.
I also take issue with my right hon. and learned Friend on the question of evasions. Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have referred to it as a small-scale problem, but nobody can give any figures which would allow us to make any sort of estimate of the number of evasions involved. Some guesses have been made, but every time they are qualified by the statement: "We do not know". Therefore, we do not know what is the size of the problem.
§ Mr. Gurden
I accept that, but my right hon. and learned Friend said that it was a small-scale problem. In my view that is a matter of doubt.
On the question of evasions, we have to take into account other things than 491 the mere landing of a small party by boat on the South Coast. This picture does not represent the many evasions that take place. There is the question of false documents, and the entry of children supposedly under the age of 17. Some of the children who come here as dependants look older than 16, or even 26. Some of the immigrant children who are going to school with other children of the age of 12 or 14 have beards which would do credit to men of 36. There is no doubt that many of the children who come into this country as dependent children are over the age of 16. The Home Office would probably agree, that nobody can check the ages of the children. They do not know their age and their parents have told me that even they do not know. There are many forms of evasion.
I was disturbed by the Home Secretary's statement that when immigrants have been here undetected for more than 24 hours, having come here without permission, they cannot be turned back. I should like to know the position of people who are supposed to have come here for a short stay, or as students. Can they be sent home? As I understood him, the Home Secretary said that once they had been here for 24 hours they could not be turned back.
§ Mr. Ennals
I can answer that question straight away. Those people who are admitted on conditions—that means that they are visitors or students—are obliged to leave when their term expires, unless they can obtain an extension. They can be prosecuted if they stay over that period and a court can recommend their deportation. The point about the period of 24 hours applies to those who arrive by clandestine means without obtaining the permission of the immigration authorities.
§ Mr. Gurden
That is of some help. I wonder whether all these people are deported if the courts so recommend. We have been told that the Home Secretary does not always follow the recommendations of the courts.
More and more hon. Members believe that the immigration policy is too soft. We believe that for the moment, at any rate—perhaps for a few years—all immigration should cease. There are exceptions, but, in the main, this large influx should be stopped.
492 There are many sound reasons in logic for stopping this influx. The various facets of unemployment which have been recently discussed justified our having a stricter control over immigration. Even the Home Secretary figures of those who come here to take up employment or of children just under employable age should disturb the Government in view of the present level of unemployment.
How can we ever provide decent housing for those who live here when we are faced with the present figures of immigration? The number on the housing waiting list in Birmingham almost equals the number of immigrants in Birmingham. I know that it is not a logical calculation, but it could be argued that, if there had been stricter control over immigration in the last 10 years, there would have been practically no housing problem in Birmingham today.
I agree with the hon. Member for Southall that there is a heavy concentration of immigrants in certain areas. I criticise the hon. Gentleman because, even though he will not agree with me that immigration should be stopped, he does not want any more immigrants to go to Southall.
§ Mr. Bidwell
In the light of my experience, I could not be a party to the statement that there could never be one human being coming to our shores at any given moment. I am much too involved in the compassionate side of it, in pressures to allow people to come in under the present regulations who are a little removed from the specifically defined close relationship, to be a party to say what the hon. Gentleman is trying to make me say.
§ Mr. Gurden
I will content myself with repeating that the hon. Gentleman contended that there should be a dispersal of immigrants. I take it that he does not want any more to come to Southall. I certainly do not want any more to come to my constituency. It is already overcrowded. We already have an unemployment problem there. There is already a serious housing problem there. Those conditions alone justify my attitude.
The Government should realise that the many thousands of immigrants who will come to Britain during the next 12 months will come to places like Southall, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester, 493 where there are already heavy concentrations of immigrants. It is not just a question of 2 per cent. on our population. In one Birmingham ward there are already more children being born to immigrants than are born to the original English population. Thus there is a higher concentration of immigrants in one ward than English people. It is safe to assume that probably over 90 per cent. of the immigrants who will arrive here in the next twelve months will also go to the overcrowded areas of concentration.
I wish that some of them would go to Chelmsford, Bromley and Worthing and the other places, where the people—at least where the Members of Parliament representing those places—do not understand what the problem is.
You, Mr. Probert, rightly ruled that we are not entitled to go into matters of racial discrimination. Some of us cannot help remembering, however, what Sir Robert Menzies said in a television interview, that if we do not deal with this problem as we should deal with it—strongly, boldly—we shall be laying in store for ourselves a very serious racial problem for the future. Sir Robert made quite a good case for what Australia did and what it does today. Australia is avoiding the problems which we are already thinking in terms of legislating about.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Howarth
I compliment my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) on the tenor of their speeches. It would be in the national interest and in the interests of our immigrant population if the discussion could be kept at that level.
There are real problems arising from large-scale immigration from Asia in the last 10 years. I am prompted to intervene as a result of observations and experiences in my constituency, particularly in the last 12 months. It is not a new problem, but certain events have given me cause for concern. It is a concern which I think is shared by an increasing number of my hon. Friends who, I think, are inhibited from giving voice to their worries in the Chamber because they are afraid of being categorised with such people as the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Gurden), who has a rather notorious reputation on this subject.
494 This is a problem which is increasing in severity in the areas where these visitors are concentrated. If the numbers of Indian and Pakistan immigrants were evenly spread throughout the country, there well might be no necessity for this debate. Unfortunately, these people have tended, for obvious reasons, to gravitate towards the older industrial towns and cities. This compounds the problem immeasurably. There is a further concentration in the older areas of such towns and cities. These immigrants live in old houses, unfortunately often in overcrowded conditions, and their children go to old schools which are equally overcrowded.
During the last 12 months I have received many representations from my constituents. I have been to meetings. I have discussed with people exactly what is worrying them. It can be summed up in this way. If the unfortunate racial prejudice which exists—it is no use our denying it; some people are prejudiced because of a different colour of skin—is put aside, there are some valid reasons for people's agitation. The reasons come under the headings of housing, employment and education.
In my constituency the housing problem heads the list. Bolton has a long tradition and a good one, and one which I would wish to see encouraged, of owner-occupation. People of modest means set out to buy their own homes. They spurn the idea of renting property. Even people with quite low incomes buy the older type of terrace property which exists in old Lancashire towns. These houses are often converted into very attractive little homes. In effect, the result represents the whole of a life's effort and savings.
When I meet these people and they tell me that it only needs the entry of one or two immigrant families into a street of these older type houses for the value of the property to decrease, very often by several hundred pounds, even the most liberal-minded person tends to take a somewhat different view about the entry of immigrant families into their district. While I have tried to suggest a more liberal attitude to my fellow citizens, I am often met with the riposte, "It is all right for those of you who live in more salubrious quarters of the town. You are not affected, but we are." I 495 live in my constituency, so it may be that that reply from my constituents is only to be expected.
This is a real problem and I confess that it is one to which I cannot honestly find a solution. I can tell my constituents about the need for these immigrants, once they are here, to be treated as first-class citizens without any discrimination, but one cannot get round the fact that if a person with very limited means finds that his lifetime effort—the only expression of the whole of his working life, and very often that of his wife as well—is devalued within six months, possibly by several hundreds of pounds, one cannot be surprised if he takes a very jaundiced view of this matter.
Let me say straight away that this applies to only a small minority of the population. My constituency does not have the sort of concentration of immigrants that apparently my hon. Friend the Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell) has in his constituency, although they are concentrated in certain wards of the town. Nevertheless, this is a growing problem because of the numbers of dependants who are now entering the country.
On the question of employment, I have attended meetings where people have expressed concern at the situation which might arise if the employment position were to continue to worsen, particularly this winter, and at the prospects of discrimination not against the immigrants but against the indigenous population if the unemployment figures should continue to climb steeply. On this, I feel that there is a much easier case to make in reply, and this I attempted to do when my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Oakes) and I spoke. There is not a serious unemployment situation in the constituency, but I think there is a need for legislation to ensure that people are protected against discrimination, certainly in their employment. If there is a tendency for people to be paid less because of the colour of their skin, clearly this might be an inducement to a certain type of employer to dispense with the services of the higher-paid employees and to keep on any immigrants he might be employing. On this score, to a limited extent, I think that we have been able to satisfy those who have been agitating.
496 On the question of education, I must say that there are some genuine fears and real problems. I was interested in the case mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Southall, about a school where, I think he said, 60 per cent. of the pupils were immigrant children. He said that the teaching staff had expressed great concern to him about this situation. I certainly would have thought that if 60 per cent. of the scholars at a school are immigrant children, it is a most undesirable situation. What effect this is having on the educational efforts of all the children in the school, heaven knows.
My experience of a few schools where the figure is nowhere near 60 per cent., but where there is a substantial number of immigrant children, is that it poses great problems to the teachers and all the pupils in the school. I believe that the Government have made great efforts to overcome this problem, and I hope that they will continue to do so. Nevertheless, this reinforces the concern of some of my constituents because they live in areas where their efforts to buy their own houses have been affected by the entry of immigrant families, and in addition the education of their children is possibly suffering because of the attempt to bring the standard of the immigrant children up to that of the children of the indigenous population.
I hasten to point out that the local authority in Bolton has made great efforts to overcome this problem by setting up special classes to teach English and elementary subjects to the new children who have come into the country, and this is having an effect. Nevertheless, one cannot burke the fact that a real problem is developing in the older areas of my constituency which is not conducive to good race relations.
This leads me to the observations that I want to make on the problem as a whole. First of all, there are some encouraging features. I was encouraged by the remark of the Home Secretary that so far there is no significant link between race and crime in this country. One hopes that this will continue to be the case. This is a fact that we should constantly reiterate to those who are bitter racially prejudiced and who cast around for any sort of argument against people who have a different coloured skin. As I say, this is encouraging and I hope 497 that we shall continue with our efforts to make sure that there does not develop an economically under-privileged section of the community, namely the immigrant section.
I am, however, disturbed on two counts. First, there is a continuing increase in the number of dependants coming into this country. My right hon. Friend suggested that the number should eventually start to dwindle, but it is evident from the figures that he gave that this has not yet begun. In addition, there is cause for great concern at the numbers of young Pakistani boys coming into this country to live with their fathers. I know that we fixed an age limit of 16. I understand from correspondence that I have had with my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State that it is very difficult to prove the age of these boys. It must give the authorities in India and Pakistan quite a headache.
Nevertheless, the problem exists, and it is exceedingly difficult when a boy who is claimed to be 14 years of age, and cannot even speak English, enters one of our schools and it is expected that in 12 months it is possible to make the boy suitable for the employment market when he is 15. These are not problems which are easy of solution if we are to retain a humane and liberal outlook I incline to the view that we could further lower the age at which dependants are allowed to join their parents in this country.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman
Is there not an element of class legislation in what my hon. Friend suggests? How many people in this country of middle-class or superior-class emoluments regard their children under 16 as not dependent upon them? In a great many cases, their children will remain dependent up to 20 or 25 years of age.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman
I am pointing out that a good many people who have been responsible for their children since birth would be entitled to bring them in as dependants even over 16 years of age.
§ Mr. Howarth
I am not sure that I understand the point of my hon. Friend 498 the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Sydney Silverman), though, obviously, I respect his views. If I understand matters aright, we have already fixed an age limit under which dependants may come and over which they may not come. I see my hon. Friend shaking his head. Perhaps the Government Front Bench will put me right if I have misunderstood, but I thought that we had fixed an age limit to which dependants were subject.
I do not see how, on liberal and humane grounds, one can argue that the age should be 16 as opposed to 12. I do not know, but I suggest that, at the present level, real problems are being caused in certain areas, and that we ought to look at it. I sincerely suggest to my hon. Friends that they look at it, especially in view of the Home Secretary's admission that there is a significant number of young boys coming from Pakistan very close to the school-leaving age—or it is suggested that they are very close to the school-leaving age—and these boys present an education problem which makes things exceedingly difficult for some of our older secondary schools.
I incline to the view—I say it with regret, though I think that we may be faced with having to take action in the future, even if we get through this year—that by lowering the age one would tend to reduce the problem. I put that forward for what it is worth, and, in doing so, I think that I speak on behalf of many hon. Members who tend to restrain themselves on this subject for fear of being classed with some hon. Members opposite.
The second matter which concerns me considerably is the question of the numbers who might come to this country, or who are eligible to come, from East Africa. I was taken aback by what I thought the rather complacent attitude of the Home Secretary here. He seemed to express a pious hope when he said that we were pointing out to the countries of East Africa that these people, usually of Indian origin, had made a great economic contribution to those countries and that we hoped, therefore, that they would keep them.
We can see what is happening. For several years, the number has run at an average of 6,000 per annum, but it looks as though it will be over 10,000 this 499 year. Plainly, a rise of 40 per cent. in 12 months cannot be viewed with equanimity. I had hoped that my right hon. Friend would go on from there to say that steps were proposed, or would be taken, to ensure that we were not faced with the sort of unrestricted entry which we had in the late 1950s and early 1960s from India and Pakistan.
§ Mr. Rose
Will my hon. Friend explain why he cannot view with equanimity a net rise of 4,000 immigrants, all of whom are already British nationals, from an area in respect of which there is not, as there was in the case of India and Pakistan because of the large population, the possibility of an almost bottomless pit in this respect?
§ Mr. Howarth
We were given a figure of about 200,000. I was assuming that this did not include dependants, or certainly did not include children. Again, this is something which my hon. Friend on the Front Bench can clarify. Mistakenly, perhaps, I assumed that the children were not included in that figure. If, on the other hand, we are talking in terms of the figures which have been suggested for dependants who might come with voucher holders, that is, about four times the number of voucher holders, we approach potentially—I agree that it is only potential—a total approaching 1 million extra immigrants who could come into this country.
I suggest to hon. Members, particularly on this side, that this is not a problem which can be overlooked. It is necessary to take action now if we are not to be faced with a problem a few years hence. It is no good leaving it till the end of this decade and then taking action. We can see a 40 per cent. increase this year, and, with the disturbed state of affairs in East Africa, it is a reasonable assumption that the number is likely to rise in the next few years.
Again, I urge my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to give attention to this problem and to bring forward legislation, if necessary, to ensure that we do not face the sort of problem on which action had to be taken earlier in the decade because of growing immigration particularly from India and Pakistan.
I conclude by paying a tribute to the efforts which this Government, and indi- 500 vidual hon. Members, too, have made both to integrate the immigrants already here into the community and to try to lessen racial tensions. I hope that they will continue these efforts, in which they have my support. At the same time, I ask them to look closely at what I believe are serious practical problems facing our constituents, for which, in my view, further action must be taken to ensure that the problem which we have is not increased.
I recently had the privilege of visiting the United States of America, where there is an acute racial problem. I do not for a moment suggest that ours is in any way comparable, but I am certain that, unless we take action in the next few years, the potential problem I have outlined may well develop from East Africa, and, perhaps, from other territories. I do not know whether it is a problem of dual nationality which arises in all newly independent territories. Action ought to be taken to ensure that the problem of integrating the present immigrant community remain manageable, as I believe it is now. The Government are tackling things in the right way. I want all the problems to be solved, to the benefit of our indigenous population and those who have recently joined us.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Sandys
We have all listened with interest to the sincere speech of the hon. Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Robert Howarth) on this difficult subject. The Home Secretary rightly asked us to approach this emotive issue, as he called it, in a calm and cool way. I shall certainly not seek to raise the temperature of the debate. It is true that it is an emotive issue. But the reason is that many people feel very strongly about it. The hon. Member for Bolton, East has told us of his own experience in his constituency. Clearly, it is our duty to voice here in Parliament the anxieties of those whom we represent.
Since we discussed the question of immigration a year ago, in this same context, public concern has greatly increased throughout the country. There has been a growing realisation of the trouble we are building up for ourselves in the years ahead, and that anxiety has undoubtedly been intensified by the tragic race riots in the United States.
501 This problem is not peculiar to white countries with a minority of black citizens. During recent years we have witnessed acute tension and in some cases violent clashes between peoples of different races in countries all over the world. It will be said that conditions are different here. Of course they are. But they were different in each of those countries. Why should we take it for granted that Britain will be the one exception?
There are some who think that by passing laws against discrimination we can ensure that what has happened elsewhere will not happen here. Like my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), who initiated this debate with a very noteworthy speech, I shall study with an open mind the Government's Bill which was foreshadowed in the Queen's Speech. But most people will agree that legislation by itself will not solve this problem.
Everyone living in our country must be treated equally. Nobody wants to establish first- and second-class citizens. Nobody wants to see people penalised on grounds of race or religion. We must deal severely with anyone who tries to foment hatred. But we must be careful that, in combatting discrimination, we do not stimulate it. I say this to the Government in all earnestness.
The Government have laid down that a proportion of the police force and the magistrates' bench must be coloured.
§ Mr. Ennals
It is not so. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has said that he would welcome the appointment of suitably qualified coloured people as police officers and magistrates. There is no suggestion whatsoever that there should be any proportion. I think that that would be a very wrong thing to do.
§ Mr. Sandys
I think that the general impression—I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has corrected it—is that in choosing persons for the bench and for the police force an effort will be made to ensure that a proportion of them are coloured. I do not think that that is unfair, is it?
§ Mr. Ennals
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept my assurance that in discussions between my right hon. Friend and chief constables my right hon. Friend has said that he is anxious to see suitable persons from coloured communities as police officers, but that it would be absolutely wrong ever to appoint a man because of his colour unless in every other way he was qualified for such a post. There has been no suggestion of a quota or a proportion.
§ Mr. Sandys
Of course, I am not suggesting that any Home Secretary would issue instructions that people who were not qualified should be appointed to posts. But despite what the hon. Gentleman has said, I still believe that these instructions imply that an attempt should be made to try to find coloured people who have the necessary qualifications. If not, they mean nothing at all. If it means that, it means that they are not being chosen exclusively on the grounds of merit.
§ Mr. Ennals
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way again. I very much regret that he has not accepted my assurance. It has been made absolutely clear by my right hon. Friend, myself and others in conversations with chief constables that there should never be any question of not appointing a man as a result of his merits, but that if suitable coloured people come forward they should be accepted, and, of course, there is an encouragement to suitable people to apply for such posts.
§ Mr. Sandys
I have not the slightest prejudice against coloured policemen. But I should like to feel that when making appointments the police forces not only choose people with the necessary qualifications, but also choose the best man available for the job irrespective of colour. If that is the position, I am very glad to know it.
§ Mr. Sandys
I am afraid that if we go down this road the next step will be to require or encourage schools to maintain a prescribed mixture of white and coloured pupils. We have not got there yet, but I am drawing attention to where this policy might lead us. We have seen it happen in America. In some American towns bus-loads of white children are driven to 503 schools in predominantly coloured districts and coloured children are driven back to take their places.
I am not suggesting that the Government have this in mind. But we must be careful. In approaching this kind of legislation and the problem as a whole, we must foresee the possible dangers which lie ahead. We must take care not to accentuate race consciousness and breed the bitterness and mutual suspicion which we all wish to avoid.
We must have the courage to tackle the problem at its source. We must recognise that it is not so much a question of race as of numbers. It is largely a matter of arithmetic. Wherever they may be, the indigenous population tend to resent any large influx of outsiders. This applies to people of all races. Where the newcomers are of the same racial stock, it is not too difficult to absorb them into the life of the community. But when the colour of their skin is different, and they have a different religion, and different habits of life, it is virtually impossible to integrate them completely.
In fact, some of them, like those from India and Pakistan, have no wish to be integrated. They are justifiably proud of their race and religion. They wish to live in separate groups and to preserve their separate identity. If they are numerous and concentrated in certain areas, they inevitably create a nation within a nation and become a source of tension and unrest.
The fact is that we have already admitted more immigrants of non-European stock than we can possibly assimilate, and they continue to come in at the rate of over 40,000 a year. The number of people of other races living in Britain today is already around 1 million. That is about 2 per cent. of our population. Whatever we do, this percentage will increase, owing to the higher birth rate among the immigrants.
All kinds of estimates for the future have been worked out. They vary according to the assumptions we make. But if no further action is taken it seems quite possible that in the lifetime of the present generation the proportion of coloured people in Britain will be as high as it is in the United States today.
§ Mr. Sandys
These estimates are very difficult to make. I am leaving myself a very wide margin, because it is difficult to know what precise assumptions to make. There is no reason to suppose that this will not lead to the same troubles and difficulties as in America.
If we are serious in our wish to avoid racial trouble and over-population, our first duty is to prevent the problem from getting bigger than it already is. That means imposing a further severe reduction on the number of immigrants we admit. In our debate last year I made an exception of the dependants of those immigrants who are already here, because I realised that their exclusion would be bound to cause personal distress. I am still much concerned about this, as everybody must be. But, after reflection, I have very reluctantly been forced to the conclusion that, if we allow the influx of dependants to continue as at present, we shall make no real impact upon this problem.
Nearly 90 per cent. of the immigrants now coming in under the Commonwealth Immigrants Act are, as the Home Secretary told us, in the category of dependants. I was interested to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that he proposes to restrict the entry of certain categories of dependants. He mentioned, in particular, boys approaching the age of 16. That is correct, is it not?
§ Mr. Ennals
My right hon. Friend did not say that. He said that he was looking very seriously at the problem and how to deal with it, but he did not indicate a line of action.
§ Mr. Sandys
When a Minister stands at the Dispatch Box and recognises that there is a serious problem and tells the House of Commons that he intends to see what should be done, it leaves a general expectation that he contemplates some action to restrict the entry of these boys. I assume that that will require legislation. I was, therefore, surprised when the right 505 hon. Gentleman said that he did not intend to introduce legislation this Session.
Perhaps the Under-Secretary will say something about this later, because it is an urgent matter. If there is a problem, it ought to be dealt with quickly, because once one gives notice that one is going to take action, one stimulates a flow of the people who think that they may be excluded.
Since the immigrants who are here were led to expect that their dependants would be allowed to follow them, we have a clear duty—there is no doubt about it—to alleviate as far as possible the consequences of any change of policy. If they wish to return to their homelands to rejoin their families, we should not only pay their passage but give them generous grants to help them resettle. We should also examine the resettlement scheme which has been tentatively put forward by the Government of Guyana, which would, of course, also involve grants from Britain.
All this would cost money, but, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) said, it would cost a good deal less than the provision of all the additional houses, schools and services which a further large increase in the immigrant population would otherwise necessitate. As I freely recognise, this will inevitably cause unhappiness to the immigrants concerned, but I believe that it is nothing to the future unhappiness which the coloured population of Britain will suffer if we allow a racial problem to grow to uncontrollable proportions.
It may be thought that this is bolting the stable door after the horse has escaped. There is some truth in that. As I have said, far too many immigrants have already been admitted. But even if it is too late to remove the dangers and difficulties altogether, we have a duty to do all in our power at this stage to reduce them.
Reference has been made to the fact that there are about 200,000 Asians in East Africa who either hold or are eligible for United Kingdom passports. These people, as has been explained, are exempt from the controls of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act and enjoy a legal right to come here without any restriction whatsoever. With few exceptions, these people have no connection of any kind 506 with this country and have never set foot in these islands.
§ Mr. Rose
Is it not true that many of those people went there precisely to serve the British Empire at that time, that many of them have given devoted service to this country in East Africa and that we have an obligation to them because they would not have been there in the first place had it not been for this country?
§ Mr. Sandys
As the Home Secretary said, quite a number of these people were born there. We cannot go back into history. We cannot let in all who had any connection with the British Empire, through their parents and grandparents. We just have not got room in this small island.
I was saying that these people are exempt from the immigration control and entitled, as things now stand, to United Kingdom passports. As the Home Secretary explained, the reason why they were given this status was to ensure that they did not become Stateless. Many of them had the opportunity, as was said by my right hon. and learned Friend, to take on Kenya citizenship—after all, that is the country to which they belong more than any other—and they decided not to do so—and I can quite understand it. These same nationality arrangements apply to many other countries and not just to East Africa, but the problem has arisen at the moment in this area.
However, it was certainly never intended that this arrangement should provide a privileged back-door entry into the United Kingdom. So long as these people did not come here in any appreciable numbers, this raised no practical issue. But, as the Home Secretary has told the Committee, the number of Asians arriving from East Africa has risen steeply in recent months, and that is why we are all concerned about this problem.
§ Mr. Ennals
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman, since he was the chairman of the conference at which these arrangements were negotiated, whether he did not at the time anticipate precisely the problem to which he is now referring?
§ Mr. Sandys
We were hopeful that these people would be well-treated, and I have no evidence that they are being ill-treated. I think that it is anxiety rather 507 than ill-treatment that is leading them to consider coming here. What we did in the case of East Africa was by and large to apply the same arrangements as were applied to other Colonies when they became indpendent. It would have been a little invidious if we had said, "We think that there will be trouble in East Africa, and, therefore, we propose to introduce different nationality and citizenship arrangements".
Because of the situation which has arisen I feel that we must press the Government, by administrative action—I do not believe that it requires legislation—to close without further delay what I call—I know that the Home Secretary does not like the expression—this loophole in our immigration control. As the hon. Member for Bolton, East said, I think that the Government are rather too complacent, or, let us say, dilatory in grappling with this problem before it gets out of hand. Over the whole field of Commonwealth immigration, we have, all of us—I emphasise "all of us"—been very slow in waking up to the future danger.
§ Mr. Sandys
My hon. Friend may be an exception. I take my share of responsibility for having been slow off the mark.
We must recognise frankly that we have made a mistake. We must try to put it right. We must not be afraid to be accused of inconsistency. The Chancellor of the Exchequer every year introduces various new measures to plug loopholes in the law and I see no reason why we should not do the same in regard to immigration.
Both sides of the House of Commons bear their share of responsibility. The Conservatives are to blame for doing too little too late. The Labour Party is to blame for fighting the Commonwealth Immigrants Act tooth and nail when we introduced it. Admittedly, now that they are the Government, they have greatly changed their tune. However, if they do not take the further steps that are now needed, they will be held accountable by future generations for the misery and bitterness which will result if the racial problem in Britain is allowed to get out of hand.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Winnick
Up to six o'clock I was in my place, but at that point I had a constituency commitment which necessitated my leaving the Chamber. I explained that to the Deputy Chairman, but I was, therefore, not in my place to hear all of the speech of the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys). I wish to apologise to the right hon. Gentleman at this stage for having missed some of his remarks.
These debates provide the Committee with an opportunity to discuss various aspects of immigrant control and related matters, including the position of Commonwealth immigrants who are already living in this country. To an extent, it is useful for us to have these debates—although I gather from the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary that he has in mind a change in the law in this respect.
One of the snags is that, by constantly raising the question whether or not we want more Commonwealth immigrants here, we tend to make it all the more difficult to integrate those immigrants who have been in our country for some years. The two matters are connected, because if we keep harping on about this issue—that, somehow, these people from the new Commonwealth countries are undesirable, that we should restrict them or that we should allow in fewer and fewer of them—there is bound to be more resistance and hostility in Britain to our saying that those already here should be allowed to lead their lives without any form of discrimination because they will be looked upon by the host community as being undesirable. This being the position, there is a connection between these two matters.
It would be foolish for me to deny that the right hon. Member for Streatham represents a point of view in Britain. For all I know, he may represent the majority point of view. It would, therefore, be foolish for those of us who disagree with him to pretend otherwise. Indeed, those who support my point of view may be in the minority. But that is no reason why the point of view which I wish to put should not be put to the Committee.
During the 20 months that I have been a Member of Parliament I have received 509 a host of letters. I have them with me. They have arisen as a result of various comments which I have made on the racial position in Britain. Some of the letters are unfortunate; for example, this one which I have in my hand states:This is my wife and twin daughters"—shown in a photograph accompanying the letter—… no blacks are going to get their animal hands on them, that's for certain.Another letter reads:Dear nigger lover, A filthy swine like you is not fit to breath the same air as white people.I am aware of the view that is held by some people and I assure the Committee that I have no illusions on this score. It does not give me any satisfaction when I receive letters of that kind.
Ten days ago I wrote a letter to the Daily Telegraph—I would call it a moderately worded one—arguing the case for integration and stating that it was unfair that anyone should be discriminated against when he went to buy a house. Arising from that letter, I received 20 to 30 letters. I admit at once that they were not like the ones from which I have quoted. However, they did take me to task about what I had written.
Perhaps it would not be a bad thing if the editor of the Daily Telegraph tried to educate some of his readers—no doubt the minority—into the positive virtues of race relations. That minority of readership certainly needs some lessons in race relations.
§ Mr. Iremonger
Having followed this matter in the newspaper in question—and I have followed it very closely; perhaps more closely than the hon. Gentleman—I suggest that it is only fair to say that the editor, and those with editorial responsibility on the Daily Telegraph, are beyond reproach in this matter, and that if its readers followed that newspaper's advice they would not be so paranoid.
§ Mr. Winnick
My letter to the Daily Telegraph arose from an article written by the newspaper's property correspondent. I considered his article to be very complacent indeed about discrimination in housing. However, the newspaper was kind enough to publish my letter. I do not want at this stage to start an argu- 510 ment over the editorial staff or its responsibility.
Some hon. Gentlemen opposite hold strong views about immigration. That is fair enough and that is not the trouble. I hold strong views and, like some of my hon. Friends, I do not conceal them. However—and without in any way wishing to be misunderstood—some hon. Gentlemen opposite present their arguments in such a way that they seem to lend fire and ammunition to the most prejudiced and bigotted sections in our society.
The right hon. Member for Streatham made a statement just before the Summer Recess—I informed the right hon. Gentleman that I intended to refer to him and to quote some of his words—on this matter. It gave a tremendous amount of offence to many non-white people. The right hon. Gentleman was quoted as saying:The breeding of millions of half-caste children would merely produce a generation of misfits and create increased tensions".He was also reported as having said:All further entries should be stopped, including the relatives of those who are already here".I am pleased that the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) made it clear, in a reasoned and moderate speech, that he does not hold with refusing permission of entry to the relatives of those already here. I am pleased to say, without wishing to show a dividing line on the benches opposite, that there is a great deal of difference between some of the speeches made by some hon. Gentlemen opposite, including those made by the right hon. Member for Streatham and some of his hon. and right hon. Friends.
§ Mr. Gurden
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman wishes to be fair. Would he admit that, in addition to the unpleasant letters he has received, an equal number of people exist to put the other side of the argument and send an equal number of letters to him stressing the other point of view?
§ Mr. Winnick
If the hon. Gentleman is referring to black power, I am coming to that. I am dealing with the letters I have received, and I assure him that they are not very pleasant. If he would care to read them I would be delighted 511 to show them to him later. I assure him that I have not manufactured them.
One difficulty is that in speaking about restrictions on Commonwealth immigrants—and I accept that there must be some degree of restriction or control—and in putting forward views about why there should be certain restrictions, those who clamour for restriction are never satisfied when controls are imposed. There was a great deal of controversy in the Labour Party and in the House of Commons when the Labour Government introduced restrictions arising from the 1965 Act. Those who had been demanding more and more controls did not then say, "We have won our victory. We are satisfied and we will not put forward more demands".
On the contrary. New demands immediately went up, even to the point of our hearing that there should be a total stop on immigration, with no further Commonwealth immigrants being allowed to come to Britain. If we were to agree to even this restriction, would the clamouring for control cease? No. There would be further agitation—even to the point of the agitators saying that the non-whites already here should be sent back to their countries of origin. That demand would, no doubt, be followed by demands for steps to be taken to place restrictions on those who, for one reason or another, could not be sent back.
In all of this there is—to use a modern political phrase—a sort of escalation going on. One cannot satisfy the racialists. It would not do any harm if we in the Labour Party, on both the front and back benches, recognised the existence of this escalation of demand. A section in our community is completely hostile to non-whites and will always say that, whatever further measures we take, more and more should be taken.
§ Mr. Ennals
I would like to give my hon. Friend the assurance now rather than ask him to wait till later. The Government would not be in the least bit influenced by any sort of pressure from any racialist channel whatsoever.
§ Mr. Winnick
I am pleased to hear that and I accept my hon. Friend's words. We are all aware of the excellent work which he is doing in his present job. 512 Whenever we discuss this topic we always hear statements about the undesirability of more and more Commonwealth citizens. It would do no harm if we, on both sides of the House of Commons, took the opportunity to pay tribute to those immigrants already in Britain who are doing a first-class job in the community.
When people talk about sending them back home I wonder how our hospital and transport services would survive without these people. I do not understand the hostility to non-white people. Why do we not accept and recognise that the vast majority of them who have come over for economic reasons are doing excellent work? They will remain in this country and their children and grandchildren will be as British as we are. I wish that even those hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who are keen to stop further immigration would go out of their way, not only here but outside, to pay tribute to those non-whites living here who are doing a first-class job.
One right hon. Gentleman opposite, not the right hon. Member for Streatham, said that immigrants who come over here should declare their number of dependants. I see no reason why this should not be done, and I think that such a measure would be approved by the House as a whole. I am very pleased that the Home Secretary has said that the Wilson Committee's recommendations are to be accepted and that a Bill will be brought in in due course. The system outlined in the recommendation, of having adjudicators and appeals machinery, is very sensible. The Committee went out of its way to say that it was not to inquire about how many immigrants should be allowed into Britain. It was completely outside of its terms of reference, but it felt that there should be some kind of appeals machinery and its report, Cmnd. 3387 was a very reasoned one.
I am also pleased that the Home Secretary has made it clear that the other recommendation, of a welfare service at ports and at London Airport, will be accepted, because there is a need for immigrants and aliens who do not understand the customs or the language to have some kind of voluntary or paid welfare service helping them.
513 I want to say a word or two about Commonwealth citizens living in Britain. There has been a great deal of controversy during the last 12 months about the position of non-whites. We have already had two reports, one of them—the P.E.P. Report is a very important document—dealing with race discrimination. When I had an Adjournment debate last December about coloured school-leavers I had the feeling that some Members in the House, not on my own Front Bench, thought that I was exaggerating and that there was not this degree of colour discrimination in Britain.
Any hon. Member who reads the P.E.P. Report on Racial Discrimination in Britain will have to accept that there is a large degree of discrimination against non-whites, particularly when it comes to employment in the category of non-manual occupations. This is why I was very pleased that before the Recess my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said that the Race Relations Act would be extended to include housing and employment. This is now included in the Queen's Speech.
A controversial position has arisen over the position of non-whites and the black power or black Muslim movement. I was extremely pleased with the remarks made by the Minister when he condemned racialism, black or white. I have no doubt that racialism—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)
Order. The hon. Gentleman is getting a little wide of the Schedule and the Amendment. Black power is not the subject tonight. It is the question of immigration. He must relate his remarks to the Schedule.
§ Mr. Winnick
Thank you for bringing me back to order, Mr. Irving.
I was trying to deal with the position arising from the question of how many immigrants should come into Britain and the position of Commonwealth immigrants already here. It is unfortunate that there are some who want to stir up trouble from a different side. I condemn this sort of nonsense. I do not accept the view of those who say that black people look down upon white people, or should not look upon them as allies. It seems that the propaganda of some troublemakers, who in this case happen to be 514 non-white, will fall on barren ground if we have a situation where no one is penalised or discriminated against because of his colour.
If we have a situation where non-whites are treated like anyone else and there are those who come along and say, "Look down on Whitey", and all the rest of it, the non-whites will say that this is rubbish, because in Britain they are treated like anyone else. This is why, in combating discrimination, it is important to undermine those who want to create trouble in this direction.
I remain optimistic about the position of those immigrants in Britain. I said at my own party conference, not long ago, that we have managed to solve the problem of immigrants in the past—those which arose at the beginning of the century. I see no reason why, given fairness and respect for those with a different colour to ours, we will not be able to solve this problem. The nation is capable of doing it, but we will not do so by being complacent or stirring up trouble against non-whites. We will do it by accepting these people as our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens who have a right to live in our country, without being penalised or discriminated against in any shape or form.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Sir C. Osborne
Older Members of the House will remember that I first raised this problem in 1954, not as one of my hon. Friends said in 1961. There is no pleasure or profit in saying, "I told you so". One striking thing about the debate compared to that which took place 13 years ago is the responsible and stern speeches made by the hon. Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Robert Howarth) and the Home Secretary. They were much sterner than I made in 1954, when I was howled down for saying what I did. I am delighted that there has been to change towards realism.
The hon. Member for Bolton, East said that we should fight against racial discrimination. We should recognise that racial discrimination and tension is not merely a problem of black versus white, and that it is not always the whites who are at fault. It exists between Arab and Jew, Asian and African, between the Pakistani and the Indian, between the people of Ceylon and the Tamils. Good men and women throughout the world 515 have struggled for the last 100 years to solve this very difficult problem. No one has yet found an answer to it.
All these years I have argued the unwisdom of bringing this problem unnecessarily into our own country. Now we have got it. We should follow the advice of the Home Secretary and of the hon. Member for Bolton, East and not increase this problem if we can avoid doing so. Men and women of goodwill have sought a solution to this terrible racial problem but as yet have not found one.
I am sorry that the Home Secretary is not present. I wanted to remind him about two things he said. First, he said that he hoped that this annual review of the 1962 Act would come to an end, that we would not have to face this every year. It was the Labour Party in opposition which insisted vehemently that this review should take place. It is remarkable how responsibility has altered right hon. and hon. Members opposite. They opposed bitterly the Act which they now find so useful and without which they could not operate and called those who had asked for it names which I was ashamed to have thrown at me. [Laughter.] Hon Members may laugh, but this is not a funny matter. The hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Marquand) had better go back to his constituents and tell them that he is jeering at this. I will come with him to his constituency—even his majority will not be sufficient. This is a problem which does not stand jeering at. It is far too serious.
It has been said that this is too explosive a situation to be exploited by anyone. I agree with that. But it is too difficult a situation to ignore the basic and underlying facts.
I should like to bring the Committee back to the problems which lie behind this question. All the points which have been made have been from the immigrants' point of view. No one has sufficiently stressed the Englishman's point of view in his own country. I was shocked when the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell) called me an aboriginal. It is the first time that I have been called that. It may be true, but I did not realise it.
On 22nd June, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health 516 answered a Question of mine which appears in column 338 of HANSARD. I asked him: assuming the rate of present immigration under the Act, and assuming the known birth rate, what is the size of the coloured population now, what will it be in 1975 and what it will be in 1985. The answer which I received was not a wild guess by irresponsible people; it came from the Parliamentary Secretary. The answer was startling. It was that, as far as the Government could estimate, at the end of 1966 there were one million coloured people in this country, that by 1975 there would be 1¾ million and by 1985 there would be 3¾ million. These are not my guesses. This is what the Government say.
§ Mr. Ennals
But the assumptions on which that forecast was made were the hon. Gentleman's assumptions that the rate of entry of immigrants would remain unchanged and that the rate of fertility would remain unchanged. The answer was given on the basis of his assumptions and, therefore, it is not necessarily what is likely to happen in future. I may touch on this matter if I catch the Deputy Chairman's eye.
§ Sir C. Osborne
That is a dodge. If my assumptions were wrong, why did not the Parliamentary Secretary refute them? If the law remains as it is today, we are entitled to assume that immigrants will continue to come here at the old rate. That is a reasonable assumption to make. On what grounds does the hon. Gentleman assume that the birth rate of the immigrant population will fall? What evidence has he for believing that? None whatever.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Mr. Julian Snow)
I have not intervened before because this is not my Bill. However, when a Question is asked incorporating certain assumptions, it is not for the Minister responsible for answering to change those assumptions. Furthermore, that is not the only criticism which can be made of the use to which the hon. Gentleman has put that information, but that will be dealt with clearly and fully by my hon. Friend later.
§ Sir C. Osborne
I am much obliged. It does not alter the position in the 517 slightest. I asked, if the rate of immigration continues, which it will if the Bill remains the same, because the pressure outside will grow—[Interruption.] It is no good the hon. Gentleman shaking his head. When I tabled the Question, it was not known that the 200,000 people in East Africa who have British passports would be wanting to come to this country. If they are entitled to come, as the Home Secretary admitted, then the pressure will grow. Therefore, the rate of immigration will increase and not decrease.
As for their birth rate, I should have thought that once they came here and the immigrant women had the benefit of our excellent medical facilities it would tend to increase and not decrease. This is the answer given to me. On this assumption, in the lifetime of our grandchildren, in 70 years' time, at this rate of progress, there will be more coloured people in this country than white. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Absolute nonsense."] This is my speech, and I am going to make it.
I cannot believe that any hon. Member would want to see that happen. I cannot believe that anybody would want to see Britain with a greater number of coloured inhabitants than white. That is why I not only support the continuance of this Act but would like to see increased restrictions imposed, which I am sure the Home Secretary will do in due course. [Interruption.] Perhaps my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone would not talk. I listened to him patiently.
§ Sir C. Osborne
I expect to be interrupted by hon. Members opposite but not by my own Front Bench.
On the basis of the monthly figures which the Home Office kindly sends to me, I calculate that in the first nine months of this year 91,000 new immigrants arrived in this country from India, Pakistan and Jamaica alone. It is true that a large number of them have returned to their countries, but 91,000 new immigrants came here to establish a right to live in this country permanently.
§ Mr. Ennals
I know that the hon. Gentleman does not want to mislead the Committee or those who have read the letter which he wrote to the Daily Telegraph on the same subject, but he is well aware from replies to Questions which he has put in the House that the figures from which he is quoting are for all arrivals during that period, including those here on holiday, on business, as visitors on conditions and as students on conditions. If he asked for the number of those who came for settlement, he would find that it is about a quarter of the figure he is giving. I therefore hope he will withdraw the inferences he is drawing from the figures.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Sir C. Osborne
But the Home Secretary himself said that many people who came here with temporary permits never went back. He said that he could not trace them.
§ Sir C. Osborne
I am answering the point made by the Minister in defending his own chief, who this afternoon said that many people who came here with temporary permits did not honour their promise to return.
§ Mr. Ennals rose—
§ Mr. Ennals
I am beginning to think that the hon. Member does want to mislead the House. This is not what the Home Secretary said. He was indicating a number of types of evasion, and he said that it was possible that some who came here on conditions did not return. He did not say that this was a large number, and we have no reason to believe that it is a large number.
§ Sir C. Osborne
He did not say that it was a small number—he said that he did not know, any more than the hon. Member knows. I am making quite an honest and reasonable case.
On previous occasions during the last fourteen years when we have argued this problem, it has been said that immigrants would not come to this country if there were no jobs for them and we did not need them. It was said that 519 once employment ceased to be excessive, as it was under the Tories, with too many jobs for too few people—what a difference today!—immigrants would cease to come. Today we have 600,000 people totally unemployed and about 1 million extra who are either under-employed or have lost their overtime work—and still the immigrants come. The argument does not hold water.
I now turn to the most important problem of all. Yesterday a most moderate coloured leader from America—Dr. Martin Luther King—received an honorary degree from Newcastle University. Apropos of what we are discussing, he said,All our troubles could soon be yours.He said that we had the makings of a Selma or a Watts situation in this country. This is the thing that should worry hon. Members on both sides of the Committee. Let me quote exactly what Dr. Martin Luther King said about this problem. He said:Britain is in the same situation as many of the northern cities of America were at the turn of the century. They did not have legal segregation, but there were latent prejudices in the white community.What has caused the explosion in the northern cities of America that produced these terrible and regrettable riots? It was the fact that people had moved from the deep South to the northern cities. The problem became acute.
I beg the Government to place greater restrictions on immigration because otherwise it will automatically cause the situation to arise that has occurred in America and which no one there seems to be able to solve at the moment.
§ Mr. Winnick
Does not the hon. Member agree that to a large extent the trouble in America has been caused by years or even centuries of discrimination against non-whites, and that this is part of the trouble at the moment? Only now are the negroes in America beginning to get their legitimate legal rights as human beings.
§ Sir C. Osborne
I do not deny that. All I say is that we should not pretend that the problem of colour does not exist. It is regrettable, but it exists and we must face it. The more colour that is 520 brought into the country, with its poverty and its background, the greater the danger that the tragedies that did so much harm in America will be repeated here. It is because of this that I have pleaded all these years for some restriction. Hon. Members who giggle at what I say should read what I said in the House ten, twelve and fourteen years ago.
My right hon. and learned Friend touched upon one problem to which I want to refer. Why do these immigrants come here? The United Nations estimates the income per capita in this country at 1,680 dollars a year. In India it is 89 dollars and in Pakistan it is 84. This is the honeypot to which these immigrants want to come. If I were a coloured man I should come here like a shot.
But we are concerned not only with the problem of poverty; there is the immense population problem that is tied up with it. My right hon. and learned Friend said that we must help these people out of their poverty, but at the moment India's population is growing by 1 million per month, and there is nothing that we can do to rescue the Indian people from their deep poverty unless we can also help them to solve their population problem. We cannot solve one problem without solving the other.
If we really want to get rid of their poverty, we must realise what is involved. Few people in the House or in the country realise that if we did what some hon. Members suggest and had international fair shares, with international Socialism, under which the Indian worker and the English worker shared the same amount from one pool, wages here would be less than 30s. a week. Are the British people prepared to face that? Of course not. But that is the size of the problem. It is a terrifying problem and there is no easy solution.
About four years ago Mr. Nehru, then Prime Minister of India, was challenged in his own Parliament in relation to this problem. He was told that there were 270 million Indians living on 3½d. a day. My right hon. and learned Friend talked glibly about helping them. We could not help to solve such a problem. All I say is that whilst the poverty of 521 these countries runs so deep, and will run deeper because of the increasing population, the pressure to come here will naturally increase. That is why it is important that the Bill should be continued and, in my opinion, strengthened.
In Rome recently, the Food and Agriculture Organisation issued a statement to the effect that in the last year for which figures were available—1965–66—food production in the three great centres of world population, namely, Latin America, Africa and Asia, had fallen by 2 per cent. whereas population had increased by 70 million. In other words, there were 70 million more mouths to feed with 2 per cent. less food. It is in those areas that the greatest pressure to come to this country arises.
§ Mr. John Fraser (Norwood)
The hon. Member talks about poverty. He knows that the present immigration restriction relates to people usually with very high skills and standards of living—although he is concerned only with coloured people. I do not see how the restriction on immigration affects his argument about poverty.
§ Sir C. Osborne
But that does not arise. It is untrue that they have a high standard of living elsewhere. If they had a high standard of living and high skills they would not want to come here. It is their poverty which drives them here. This is undeniable. It is no use hon. Members opposite tittering. These are the facts of life.
§ Mr. Ennals
I am grateful to the hon. Member for giving way. We have been talking about the number of people who come here on vouchers, and he well knows that the majority—two-thirds—of those admitted for employment are those with high skills, and they are not admitted unless they have high skills. That is the whole nature of the B voucher system.
§ Sir C. Osborne
This is true, and the situation is better than it was ten years ago, when anyone came and everyone came, but still, if they are men of high skills and high prosperity, would the hon. Gentleman like to say why they come here, if not to improve themselves.
§ Mr. Ennals
Yes. Many doctors, in fact, the majority of doctors, who come to this country on vouchers eventually 522 return to their own countries, very much improved as doctors, to benefit their own people.
§ Sir C. Osborne
But we are not arguing about them. The problem is not at the doctor level, at the level of the doctors who come and go, and students are welcome here. We are talking of people who come here to stay permanently.
§ Mr. Ennals
I am grateful to the hon. Member for giving way again. We are talking about voucher holders. Apart from Malta, of 7,500 vouchers that are issued 5,500 are for those with special skills, and 37 per cent. of those are doctors, and about 10 per cent. are nurses, and the rest are technological graduates, teachers and others, with special skills which our country needs.
§ Sir C. Osborne
And what about those boys of 15 years of age the hon. Gentleman's chief admitted are coming from Pakistan and who can neither speak English nor write their own language?
§ Sir C. Osborne
Of course they are not people with high skills or a high standard of living, and that is why they come.
I was taking the case, as I have always done, from the point of view of the English people in their own country, and, as I say, we have now got as many immigrants here as we can comfortably contain. When hon. Members talk about our absorbing them, taking them, as it were, into our way of life, again let us be honest with ourselves and say that the Indians, the Pakistanis, have their own language, their own culture, their own religion, their own literature, of which they are justifiably proud. They have no desire to be integrated. They are going to remain here as an alien race in our midst for ever.
§ Sir C. Osborne
It is true. One hon. Member opposite spoke about his two years as a Member of the House and the letters he has had. I have had thousands of letters over these years from 523 ordinary English people who are hectored by this problem and who want this Government to do something to protect their way of life.
§ Sir C. Osborne
That is what they want. That is what they ask from the Government. So I support the continuance of the Act, and I hope that ultimately the Government will increase the restrictions which are already there because I think they are necessary.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Rose
When I came into this debate I had no intention of speaking, although I have followed this subject very closely since my entry to the House, and I had the honour of serving on the Committee on the Race Relations Bill in 1964, but having heard some of the remarks from hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite I do not think that any civilised person in this Committee, listening to them, could fail to be moved to reply to them.
What is particularly significant is that throughout the tirades we have had about the size of the immigration not one of those hon. Gentlemen has referred to the most important problem of all, which is, what we do in a positive manner to ensure harmony between the different communities which are here. That is very significant.
§ Mr. Ennals
Further to that point of order. A number of hon. Gentlemen have referred to the educational problem, they have referred to the housing problem, they have referred to labour problems. I think that it would be a little difficult at this stage of the debate if questions relating to integration were to be ruled out.
§ Mr. Hogg
Further to that point of order. Is a whole side of this Committee to be castigated for keeping the direction of the Chair? I do not want to control the limits of the debate at all, but it 524 really is not, in my submission, either in order or just, that, when we have done our best to keep our remarks within the rules made by your predecessor in the Chair, Mr. Irving, we should now be castigated for having done so.
The Deputy Chairman
I did not hear the remarks which the Chairman made when he was occupying the Chair, but the remarks made by any hon. Member must be relevant to the Schedule to the Bill and the Amendments. I will listen with great care to ensure that they are.
§ Mr. Rose
I am sure that is true, and I would exempt the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), who was so quick to get up on that point of order, from that criticism. I listened with great attention to his speech, and was most impressed by the very statesmanlike and moderate way in which he addressed the Committee, and the way in which he took this admittedly murky subject out of the arena of party politics. I am not for one moment levelling any criticism at the right hon. and learned Gentleman, but, unfortunately, the right hon. and learned Gentleman was not in his place when certain of his hon. and right hon. Friends addressed the Committee and addressed to the Committee remarks with which I am sure he would not have been in sympathy.
What I am saying is that what we have heard from hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite was merely an echo of old platitudes. We have heard them over very many years, but now they are based on outmoded facts and outmoded figures. What my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Winnick) said was correct, that one can never placate the racialists.
As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) said, this is an emotive subject. An emotive subject is not susceptible to reason, and the arguments which hon. Members opposite have put forward, in particular, the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne), are not susceptible to reasonable argument and reasonable reply, because however many times he was told there were only 5,000 people who came into this country during this year with permits to work he seemed still to imagine that we were 525 facing the kind of situation we faced some years ago, and no amount of reiteration of the facts seemed to have any effect upon him. It must be reaffirmed that in Al these cases they were people who came to a job or people who had particular skills to offer to this country.
The hon. Member for Louth talked about importing the problem of discrimination, as if in this country discrimination had been born with the importation of coloured immigrants. If the hon. Member would do me the favour of looking at the speeches in this Chamber at the turn of the century he would find equally antediluvian speeches as his own by hon. Members of that time. If he reads, as I have been reading over the last year in connection with some research, the way in which Irish immigrants 100 years ago were spoken of he will find exactly the same kind of comments as those which we have heard from him—a hundred years ago on Irish immigrants. No doubt, if we went back to the Norman times we should find we had singularly antediluvian Normans talking about the Saxons in that way, and Saxons talking about Normans in exactly the same way.
§ Sir C. Osborne
The hon. Member has described my speeches as antediluvian. Could he explain why it is that his Government have now accepted the policy which I advocated in those antediluvian speeches?
§ Mr. Rose
I am sure that if they had had a Bill of this nature, and which we are to enact this Session, the Saxons would also have been represented. However, I will deal with the hon. Gentleman's point. It is precisely because of antediluvian speeches by those who work on the racial susceptibilities of people that hon. Members are able to talk about coloured people as if, somehow, they were different from us and were not entitled to the same consideration and respect as human beings as we accord to one another.
If prejudice has been spread which has necessitated certain action, it is thanks to people like the hon. Gentleman. But it does him no credit—[Interruption.]— 526 and perhaps he would do me the courtesy of listening to my reply to his question.
§ Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)
The hon. Gentleman has referred to speeches made 100 years ago concerning Irish immigrants. Is that not just the point? The trouble went on until they were assimilated, and the problem is the same today.
§ Mr. Rose
But what I am saying is that we have faced the problems before, and we ought to be proud as a nation of the way in which we have overcome them in the past. It is sad that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have so little faith in the country's ability to deal with the problems created by this new type of immigration. The only difference between these problems and those of earlier days is that the people involved have coloured skins.
We have heard one right hon. Gentleman say that we shall soon have the same population level as that in the United States. However, he cannot possibly have examined the figures properly, and in what he said we have yet another example of a deliberate attempt to alarm people about the number of immigrants who are coming here, in addition to those already here.
The right hon. Gentleman talked about trouble building up. What I find strange is that he and so many of his right hon. and hon. Friends are not prepared to face the fact that we live in a world in which the majority of people are coloured and, whether we like it or not, we have to live with other people. Trouble will brew up, but our task is to try and find measures whereby we can avoid the kind of racial tensions experienced in other countries and learn precisely from the experience of a country like the United States.
Not very long ago I was talking to a leading civil rights worker—by no means a black power man—who said that, in addition to the legislation on discrimination which we have, if we had what the Government intend to bring in this Session in the context of employment and housing, we should be able to go some way to avoid the tensions which have been built up in urban areas of the United States. It is precisely because we want to avoid them that we shall support the legislation which is to come from the Government.
527 I agree with those right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite who say that legislation is not enough and of itself will not deal with prejudice. The fact is that not one of them has done anything to condemn racialism and explain to people why it is dangerous, illogical and can only damage the racialists themselves. They have been prepared to ride on the tide of racialism rather than trying to combat it, as is their duty as hon. Members of the House.
I go on now to a matter which I am sure is not outside the terms of the Amendment, because it is directly relevant to the number of immigrants and coloured persons whom we can integrate over a given period. I should like to see far more done in the way of education and a greater effort made in our schools not only to help with educating immigrant children, but with educating our own children about race relations. So many of us are lamentably gauche when we try to deal with people from another country, especially when they are coloured. We are unsure in our attitudes and much needs to be done to instil in children a fundamental feeling of the one-ness of humanity.
During the course of the debate, great play has been made with the word "assimilation". What we are trying to do with immigrants is not to assimilate them but to integrate them. No one expects an Irishman, a Jew, a Catholic, or anyone else with a particular creed or history—certainly, the Scots and Welsh have shown their nationalistic sentiments recently—to forget his identity, culture and traditions. No one suggests that a Pakistani should forget the heritage of his culture and language. However, that does not mean that people should not be able to live together in mutual respect in a community and be part of a larger nation.
The whole history of this country is one based on the integration of different cultures, and many of the traditions in different parts of the country have stayed with us in no small measure. The elementary and fundamental mistake of the right hon. Member for Streatham about assimilation and integration can be of the utmost importance. No one suggests that Indians or Pakistanis should forget the heritages which they enjoy, but, as 528 there is a coming together of populations, new situations and cultural patterns are created.
That is the way in which humanity has always moved, and it is rather saddening, when movement was so free in the past, that we should get to the stage where not only do we want to limit the numbers of immigrants coming in, but where right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite say that it is going too far to take in 2,000 or 3,000 people on work vouchers.
When one boils down the argument, the point is reached where a lot of noise is made because a total of 5,000 people have been allowed into the country this year on work vouchers. Fundamentally, that is all that the argument is about, and the large figures quoted by the hon. Member for Louth ignore the numbers who have swollen the figure in the shape of dependants of those already here. We are limiting the number allowed in on vouchers, and the hypothesis on which he bases his question is invalidated, because he assumes that we shall go on for ever bringing in the same number of dependants. However, that cannot be possible now that the number of workers coming in on work permits has been restricted.
§ Mr. Rose
At the beginning of the debate, the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone said that we have arrived at a consensus. In ideal circumstances, it is not one which I should prefer, and in that connection, the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Buck) may care to read my speech on the subject three years ago. But it is a consensus, and I do not think that it is a subject which ought to be kicked about by the parties because of the enormous dangers to which the use of racial feelings in a political struggle can lead. For that reason, I am prepared to play my part in the consensus, so long as right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite are, too.
I want to comment on the assumption made throughout some of the speeches which we have heard from them that, 529 somehow, these people are a drag on us, that they have come here and are damaging our social services and housing efforts. Anyone holding that view should pay a visit to some of the Common Market countries and see the enormous economic miracle which has been made possible in countries like Germany and France, with far more workers coming into the countries from overseas, and the part that they have played in reconstructing those economies.
For every immigrant who occupies a hospital bed or a house or who seeks assistance from the social services—and their proportion is no higher than that of the rest of the population, though it is a common fallacy that it is—there is another building a house, tending someone in hospital, or paying his contribution to our social security funds for other people to draw. We did not allow them here for their benefit. They came because at a particular time in our history their particular type of labour was necessary in the state of the economy at that time.
It is a popular and an accepted myth these days on the part of some hon. Gentlemen opposite that somehow these people are a burden and a drag on the economy. If one looks at the history of past immigrant communities, they have also created job opportunities. How many industries in this country were founded by people who at some time or other were immigrants? Immigrants not only take jobs, but they also create jobs. This is one of the rather emotional fallacies of those who have been arguing for further restrictions. To reduce the 5,000 that already exists to a level where no immigrants could come in would take us to the final stage where we would have to put up all barriers to all kinds of immigrants.
Now that my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Robert Howarth) has come in I will deal with his point about the number of British citizens—it should be stressed that they are British citizens, because they have British passports—in East Africa. He mentioned a figure of 1 million. I do not know why he should join the Opposition with these alarmist fantasies about numbers and why he should add fuel to the fires of those who are deliberately playing upon this for political aims, because he will learn to his cost what other people have learned 530 in the past, namely, that one cannot have racialism. The only way to deal with it in one's own constituency is to fight it. This is something that one learns by bitter experience.
§ Mr. Robert Howarth
I am not trying to compete with racialism. I thought I made that clear at the beginning. I hope my hon. Friend will give me the benefit of the doubt on this. What I was trying to extract from my hon. Friend, and it would be interesting to hear his reply, was the actual numbers. We had this figure of 190,000 from the Home Secretary. Did this or did this not include dependants?
§ Mr. Rose
The figure of 190,000 having been quoted by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, I find it rather odd that an hon. Friend of mine should then quote a swollen figure of 1 million. Having heard the figure given by my right hon. Friend, whom we on this side of the House respect and admire, I do not see why it should have been necessary in any way to inflate the figure that was given. I find this very strange. It may not have included children, but there would seem to be little excuse to quote a figure of 1 million when the figure of 190,000 was quoted. I say to my hon. Friend, in the best of terms and in the friendliest of ways, that this is a very dangerous trap into which to fall.
We found that there had been a net increase of 4,000. That was why I asked my hon. Friend that question. We have a net increase of 4,000 persons because of this peculiar problem in East Africa. I realise that it would be impossible to accept a sudden influx of 200,000 or 190,000 all at once from a given territory, but that is not the situation that we are facing. I ask my hon. Friend not to be alarmist about it and to rely on the good sense of the Home Secretary to deal with this in a pragmatic way. The problem facing us today is that we have had 4,000 more people, British subjects, coming into this country.
I address these remarks not to my hon. Friend, but to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Streatham. I wonder how he would feel if these 200,000 people, instead of being coloured British citizens who served the British Commonwealth and Empire in the past in East Africa, happened to be white 531 Rhodesians. I wonder what his attitude would then be to the influx of 200,000 people. If his attitude is somewhat different, then the claims that he has made regarding racialism would need a little more scrutiny.
It is necessary in this sort of atmosphere that at least some voices are heard on this side of the House to combat the kind of assumptions that are made by so many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen and the tide that may be swelling behind the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for St. Marylebone. I would end by paying tribute to his speech, which I believe has done a great deal to take the heat out of this debate. It is unfortunate that some of his hon. and right hon. Friends did not emulate his performance and realise the very dangerous ground upon which they are treading and the kind of fires that could so easily be lighted in this country if encouragement is given by supposedly responsible people to the kind of elements to which my hon. Friend referred whose letters I receive and who show not a political opinion, but rather a psychopathic state of mind.
The dangers which exist from these people should not be under-estimated. I therefore appeal to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, when they address their minds to this subject in future, to bear in mind the dangers which may come from the extravagant claims that they make and the alarmist figures that they quote, none of which were in accordance with the facts quoted by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.
§ Mr. Philip Goodhart (Beckenham)
Like most of the speakers who have taken part in this debate so far, but unlike the last speaker, I believe that the rate at which this country can absorb immigrants from the Commonwealth or from anywhere else must be related to the number of jobs and the kind of housing available and the number of places available in our schools without producing conditions of strain. It is plain to me that on every one of these counts the present level of immigration is too high.
Like the hon. Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Robert Howarth) and many other hon. Members who have spoken, I, too, am concerned about the problem of the 532 East African passport holders and the great influx that can suddenly descend upon these shores.
I contrast the comparative ease with which 86,957 passports have been handed out by the High Commissioner in Nairobi with the difficulties that a constituent of mine has had in the last two weeks, who has been resident in this country for 49 years, having been born in Canada. He has been asked to check on the birth place of his grandfather in this country. Fortunately he had the time and energy to do so and was able to trace his grandfather's birth 130 years ago in Gloucestershire. When one compares the pernickity arrangements which the passport office here insists upon from people who have been resident—in this case for 49 years—with the comparative ease with which these 80,000 passports have gone out from Nairobi, one wonders whether the balance is quite fair.
I want to see the machinery of immigration made as humane and painless as possible. I have the highest admiration for our immigration officers, but the job that they are now asked to undertake is an impossible one. The pressures that exist at London Airport, where the majority of immigrants to this country now land, make it almost impossible for them to give the immigrants a thorough examination.
Only 0.3 per cent. of the Commonwealth visitors to this country were refused entry in the course of last year. I believe that only a very small proportion of immigrants is given a thorough interrogation on arrival. Even if one leaves aside the language problem, one is faced with perhaps 100 visitors from India stepping out of a Boeing 707, and 15 minutes after that another 100 or more passengers stepping out of a VC10 or a VC9. One cannot possibly have time to inquire into the background of those who are queuing up and holding out their passports.
But even if it were possible under the present system to give every immigrant a thorough interrogation on arrival, I do not believe that a port, or an airport, is the place at which it should be done. I agree wholeheartedly with the Wilson Committee when it says in paragraph 61 of its Report that even the simplest interrogation can be an immense strain 533 on many visitors after a long journey. Very often these immigrants are unable to speak English, they are in strange surroundings, they may not have been out of their villages before, and suddenly they find themselves confronted with an immigration officer. This is a considerable strain on them, even if everything else is in perfect order. I believe that the real work of assessing whether a person is entitled to come to this country should be done in the country of origin, rather than at the point of entry.
Paragraph 61 of the Wilson Report talks about the number of people who are refused entry, and says:Exclusion at this stage, when the person concerned may have invested all his property and savings in hopes (however ill-founded) of entering the United Kingdom, can be a crushing blow and a bitter disappointment.It goes on to say in paragraph 63:We have been greatly impressed with the desirability of establishing a person's admissibility to this country before he starts on his journey …".I am sure that that is right, and I hope that when the whole system of control is overhauled, as the Minister has promised, the certificate of entry will be an essential part of any scheme. Unless it is, this element of inhumanity is bound to be present.
I have been shocked at the treatment which has been meted out to some immigrants, and potential immigrants, about whose qualifications there is some doubt. Recently I have had brought to my notice by a constituent of mine the case of Mr. Mohan Singh. He came here to try to join his son. He claimed that he was over 60, and his age was challenged when he arrived at London Airport. One knows that the onus of proof is on the immigrant to prove that his age is what he says it is. I do not know whether he was over 60, as he claimed, but I know that he was taken to Brixton Prison on 9th September, and held there until 24th October, when he was deported.
Quite understandably, Mr. Mohan Singh was terrified by what happened. He had never been out of his village before. Nobody in Brixton could understand his language, and he had no idea of what was going on. It may be that he should never have hoped to enter this country. Perhaps he is not over 60 as he claims. I do not know, and I have 534 no way of finding out, but I understand that the case has been referred to the Parliamentary Commissioner.
I do not see why those about whom there is some doubt, and who have to go through a lengthy period of interrogation, should be sent to a prison or to a remand home. Surely we, as a nation, are well enough off to be able to provide a centre without bars, and without barbed wire round it, where people about whose credentials there is some doubt can be held for a matter of days in comfort and in decent surroundings while their cases are being investigated, rather than put them behind bars and treat them as criminals. After all, it may at this moment be irrational to wish to come and live in this country, but, thank heavens, it is no crime.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. David Marquand (Ashfield)
I apologise to the House for intervening in the debate as I have not been here to hear it all, but I do so because it is important that those who believe that the whole subject should be taken out of politics and that the concensus to which my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) referred should flourish, should make their voices heard.
We must discuss this whole question in the context of the fact that there are now about one million coloured people in this country, representing about 2 per cent. of the population. Some people may not like this. Personally, I do. I think that the coloured population has an enormous lot to contribute, not only directly, but indirectly because of the cultural contribution which they can bring to broaden and diversify our native culture.
But even if we do not like it, we have to accept that Britain is now a multiracial society, that there is in this country a sizeable coloured community, and that it will remain here. The children of this community will grow up here, and will be as British as the rest of us, the only difference between them and the host community being that their skins are coloured. This is the context in which we ought to discuss this question. If the coloured British community comes to believe that it is in some sense second- 535 class, if it comes to believe that there is on the part of the rest of the population a deep-seated racial animus against it, we will build up the kind of attitude in the coloured community which has caused such terrible tension in the United States. That is the crux of the issue.
It is therefore vital that two things should happen. In the first place, it is vital that the immigration system should not only be fair but should be seen by the coloured community who are already here to be fair. If the coloured people who are already here believe, rightly or wrongly, that the immigration system is being operated along racialist lines, they will come to only one conclusion—that they are being regarded as second-class citizens, and if they come to this conclusion the end consequences to which I have referred will follow. I therefore welcome the assurance given by the Home Secretary that, on the whole, the recommendations of the Wilson Committee will be taken up by the Government. That is the right way to demonstrate not only that the immigration system is fair but that it shall be demonstrated to be fair.
At the same time, if we are to avoid the coloured community who are already in this country coming to believe that there exists an unshakable racial prejudice on the part of the majority, to which their only answer would be a response of the kind that has been made by the coloured population in the United States, it is essential that all of us in this House should display a responsible attitude when we are discussing this issue. I am bound to say, however, that some of the speeches from the Conservative benches in the course of this debate have not been particularly responsible.
We are talking about a very tiny trickle of people with work vouchers—an infinitesimally small trickle. It is true that the number of dependants coming in is a great deal larger than that, but before they start to clamour for the exclusion of dependants, hon. Members opposite should consider carefully whether that would help race relations in this country. I do not thing there can be any other answer than that it would not. It would damage it in two ways. It would mean that part of the coloured community 536 would be that much closer to being an all-male community than it is already, with all the social problems that would involve.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Sir Beres-ford Craddock)
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member but I should be grateful if he would speak up a little more so that we can be sure that his interesting speech can be heard in the Press Gallery.
§ Mr. Marquand
Usually I speak too loudly, and I was trying to counteract that tendency. To adopt a policy of restricting the number of dependants would damage race relations in this country, not only because of its direct effect but also because of its indirect effect on the attitude of the coloured community who are already here. I ask hon. Members opposite to beware of this before they start to ride this racialist tiger which some of them have tried to ride this evening.
I listened with a good deal of disquiet to the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys). I am sorry that he is not here, because I have not been able to give him notice that I should refer to his speech. I was sorry to hear his quite extraordinary remarks about East Africans with United Kingdom passports. It would be a very large step in British law if we said that some people who hold a United Kingdom passport were to be treated differently from the way in which other holders of United Kingdom passports were treated. It would be even more damaging if those against who we discriminated ali happened to be coloured—and that would happen if the implications of the right hon. Gentleman's speech were adopted. Even if every single holder of one of those passports came to this country the damage done to race relations in Britain would be far less than it would be if we were to decide that coloured holders of United Kingdom passports, for whatever reason they held them should be discriminated against. The consequences would be very serious. Such a decision would help to destroy the hope of building up harmonious race relations in Britain.
I said that I would speak briefly, and I will keep my promise. We are discussing only the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, and we are not discussing possible future legislation, but I should like to say how much I hope that the responsible and restrained tone of the 537 speech of the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) rather than the irresponsible and rather xenophobic tone of the right hon. Member for Streatham, will be adopted by the Opposition when we consider that legislation. If it is not, the damage done to race relations in Britain will be very great indeed.
§ Mr. Buck
During the course of my speech I shall take up some of the points which the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Marquand) has made so interestingly.
A little while ago the Home Secretary said that our aim in this country must be for all our people, of whatever racial origin, to have equal opportunity, accompanied by cultural diversity in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance. It seems to me that that puts very succinctly what we are aiming for, and I entirely agree with it. Indeed, the speeches from both Front Benches and virtually all the other speeches that we have heard today indicate that it is the unanimous view of the Committee that that is the end to be attained.
I also believe that to attain this much-desired state it is necessary for us strictly to limit immigration to this country. Here, I may possibly part company from some hon. Members opposite, although no hon. Member opposite today has said that he opposes the tight control of immigation into this country, and I am glad of that because of the general consensus which we have heard. I have always taken that view, and I am glad that on the whole it is a view now accepted by both sides of the House.
The situation was very different when I first came to the House in 1961. The speeches which we have heard today by the Home Secretary and others were then being made from the Conservative benches. They were being howled down by Socialist Members, and accusations of racialism were being bandied about. I am glad that those days are past, but hon. Members opposite from time to time must remember that there has been a tremendous alteration in the attitude of their Front Bench speakers and others to the view that to attain the state at which we are aiming, of living harmoniously together in this country, it is necessary that we have some limitation 538 of immigration. Unless we have a strict limitation, we shall do a great disservice to the country and to those people of different racial origins whom we are very glad to have living here as entirely equal citizens. It is right that they should be regarded as equal citizens in every way possible.
A certain amount of progress has been made towards securing equality for them in Britain, with no discrimination. I am devoutly glad of this. This is something we must watch, especially in the context of mounting unemployment. I am very pleased that we have not had a repetition of what happend in Notting Hill some years ago. I only hope that, with increasing unemployment, we shall have nothing like it again. One of the reasons why we do not have anything like it is the basic tolerance of the British people and the basic good humour of those who have come from abroad, plus the fact that the vast majority of them are making an extremely useful contribution to the whole of Britain's welfare and economy.
Having said that we are all agreed on the need for equality and on the need for close control, it is a good thing to turn for a moment to the figures which have been mentioned tonight. Last year, 5,431 people entered as voucher holders. So far this year the figure is about 3,700. I do not think that there is much scope for cutting down here, although there may be some.
I am disappointed that the Minister who is to reply to the debate is not present. He has two admirable people who, if they will pay attention, will no doubt pass on to him the points which I wish to be cleared up. What I would like to know about the voucher holders who are coming here is whether it has been possible to get from each voucher holder as he enters a statement of the number of dependants whom he may wish to bring in later. This was at one stage intended. I know that it has been tried. Where dependants are brought by voucher holders, it would be interesting to know whether they are regarded as dependants and are included in the total of dependants coming in in any one year. I imagine that this is the case.
In particular, the registration point is interesting so that we may know the sort 539 of problem we are creating for ourselves in futuro by allowing this number of voucher holders into the country. How many dependants are there? Are the Government insisting upon the registration of dependants of voucher holders as they enter?
I turn now to the major question of the influx of dependants. It was right in the original legislation to say that a man who was allowed to enter freely and to be, as we have all emphasised, a citizen, should equally have the right to bring his dependants with him. I broadly agree with that. I agree with it for the reasons stated by the Under-Secretary fairly recently in a letter which he circularised to all those who deal with immigration matters. He said this:I believe that family unity is fundamental to good community relations. If a man is living and working here, it is desirable for his family to join him.… Divided families lead to unhappiness, both for the husband here and for the wife and children left fatherless abroad. It is happy family groups who can best be integrated into British life.I entirely agree.
Does this mean, in view of what the Home Secretary said tonight, that we should let in as many as 40,000 dependants, as we did last year? The Home Secretary said tonight—I knew this and I should have mentioned it if he had not done so—that an increasing number of the dependants coming here are those who are very near 16 and who are being brought here to join their fathers alone, leaving their mothers and the remainder of their family in the country of origin.
If this is what is happening, as many of us suspect, this is defeating the object which we all supported of having united families and keeping families united in Britain when they come here. If this is happening, I believe that the criteria could legitimately be altered. The Home Secretary said that he would look at this. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) said, it is often the case when Ministers say that they are looking at a matter and are worried about it that they probably intend to take action about it. I should have thought that it would have been legitimate to take action. It has been suggested that this should be done merely by lowering the age limit of 16. I do not think that that would be right.
Mr. Eric S. Heller (Liverpool, Walton)
This is a very interesting point. Surely the position is that the father comes here first. We have agreed that he should come. The family is left at home. The father has to earn money. The children grow up at home and, when they are at the age when they can earn money, they come here. They help to earn the money necessary to bring the entire family here. This has gone on for generations with immigrants all over the world. It is not new. It is acceptable and is fundamental to this question.
§ Mr. Buck
I shall be interested to hear what the Minister says when he replies. I share the concern of the Government Front Bench about this matter. I would hope that the father would want to try to reunite the whole family rather than just to bring an elder son here, who will have a very difficult time going to school for a short time until he becomes 16 and then have to go into the labour force. Then, he having come here, the problem presumably accumulates, and I doubt whether families are reunited in this way.
There is a problem here and the criterion could well be altered. I have no doubt from what the Home Secretary said earlier that he is considering doing that. The purpose of allowing dependants into this country is to reunite the family. If we allow young people in just before they reach the age of 16, it seems to me that a situation is created which is bound to cause concern, as I am sure it does to the Home Secretary and as it certainly does to me.
§ Dr. Hugh Gray (Yarmouth)
Would the hon. Gentleman say what he means by "family"? Is he thinking of the family simply in the Western sense, the nuclear family—husband, wife and children—or is he referring to the extended family which is more common in Asia?
§ Mr. Buck
I was referring to the more restricted variety of family—what might be regarded as the statutory family under the original immigration law—and not including common law wives or cousins of which there can be any number.
The hon. Gentleman has colourfully led me to the next question that I wish to ask, namely, how dependants are checked at the moment. I have gathered 541 from earlier answers to questions that an immigrant is restricted to one wife. It is on a monogamous basis. However, I am interested to hear whether it is proposed in present circumstances to assess the state of true dependence as laid down in the Commonwealth Immigrants Act—namely, one wife, and children under 16 as of right.
I should also like to know what inquiries are made into whether there is adequate housing and accommodation for families when they come here. It would seem that no such inquiries are made at the moment, and it is probably outside the ambit of the Act as it is at present drafted. Therefore, there would appear to be a case for an amendment of the Act. I think that it would be cruel to allow dependants to come here when there is no proper, housing and accommodation for them.
It would seem that the nature of the problem which will confront us in the future is not known. This is a point that was made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton). We should try to get to grips with the problem and find out how many dependants are likely to wish to come here in the future. At the moment, there are in the country a large number of people who have a right to bring their dependants here under the legislation as it is at present drafted. We know that at the moment between 35,000 and 40,000 are coming in each year.
How long this sort of flow will continue and what sort of numbers are involved is a matter of mere speculation. I do not think that it would be inhumane or wrong to say to those who have already come here, "Over the next nine months"—or whatever period is considered appropriate—"You must tell us what dependants you are likely to wish to be brought over to this country." A register should be established, and only those who are registered—over a very generous period of time—should be allowed to come to this country. This seems legitimate and sensible. There would, of course, be a saving provision covering cases of extreme hardship and so on.
We ought to know how many people have the right to come to this country under present legislation. Time is going on, and we are gaining no better knowledge of the situation. I urge the Gov- 542 ernment to consider introducing some such system of registration. They ought to be in pretty soon.
I turn now to the Wilson Report on Immigration Appeals. My hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart) referred to the Wilson Committee's recommendations regarding entry certificates. I agree with everything he said, and I go a little further. Like all hon. and right hon. Members, I believe that our immigration control, which I regard as necessary, must be operated in the most humane way possible. What concerns me is that, every year, a substantial number of immigrants are turned back to their country of origin. This happened to 1,339 last year. The number may be miniscule in proportion to the large number of Commonwealth people who are admitted—as has been said, it is about 0.3 per cent.—but in terms of human suffering it is large. Last year, for instance, 1,339 people came, many of them an immense distance, and then, on arrival in this country, they were pitched back. There ought to be a system to eliminate this sort of thing as far as is humanly possible.
I welcome the Wilson Committee's comments about the need to use, as far as possible, the entry certificate system, under which a certificate is granted in the country of origin which is, virtually, a passport to enter this country. This applies save in certain specified cases, namely, where there has been fraudulent misrepresentation, a fundamental change in circumstances or a criminal record is revealed.
I part company from the Wilson Committee, however, when it says, in paragraph 70:But general use of the entry certificate system is what we should like to see. The question is by what means this ideal can be more nearly approached. After careful consideration we have come to the conclusion that it would not be right to make the use of entry certificates compulsory. As the great majority of aliens who come to the United Kingdom are free from the visa requirement, we consider that it would be out of the question to impose on Commonwealth citizens the same requirement under another name.I do not agree with that. In my view, in the majority of cases possession of an entry certificate should be a prerequisite of entry into this country.
§ Mr. Brian Harrison (Maldon)
Is my hon. Friend advocating discrimination against Commonwealth migrants as opposed to aliens coming into this country?
§ Mr. Buck
If my hon. Friend, neighbour and constituent will bear with me for a moment, the next part of my argument will, I think, meet that point. I was about to say that I found attractive the argument of the Wilson Committee that, because aliens do not have to have visas, we should not impose the same requirement under another name on Commonwealth citizens. In my view, it should be made compulsory for certain categories of people coming here from the Commonwealth—those who come to take up employment, those intending to take up permanent residence, and students.
At present, to get here they must have, as it were, clearance of some sort, as do aliens. An alien cannot come here to get a job unless he has a labour permit or to study unless he has proof of entry into a university or other regular establishment for students, nor can he take up permanent residence except on proof that he can support himself. Therefore, if it is made compulsory for those categories of people in the Commonwealth nothing is being done which puts them at a disadvantage vis-à-vis aliens.
I do not think that an entry certificate should be necessary for the person coming here on holiday, but if it is made necessary in other cases for a person to have an entry certificate before coming here then we shall achieve exactly what the Government Front Bench and the Wilson Committee want—we shall preclude in 99 per cent. of cases the awful agony imposed on a person of arriving here and having to be sent back from the port or airport.
§ Mr. Ennals
Is the hon. Gentleman really saying that a mother and children who arrive to join an immigrant already settled here, and who at present have a legal entitlement to come, would automatically have to be sent home if they arrived without an entry certificate?
§ Mr. Buck
Until the system was well known there would have to be a saving clause on humanitarian grounds. But as the hon. Gentleman knows, probably better than I, certain countries at present 544 require an entry certificate before emigration is allowed from the country of origin. As soon as that system is made obligatory here in the majority of cases, save for some exceptions concerning human hardship, all countries abroad would have to adopt it. Universality would build up, and most cases of people having to be sent back would be eliminated. It is clear that the Wilson Committee gave this careful thought, and some of its members thought that it was the right solution. I think that it is probably the right solution to have such a system universal and compulsory, except for a saving clause on humanitarian grounds.
Those are all the remarks I wish to make on the subject. I hope that the considerable number of matters I raised earlier as points of detail will be passed on to the Minister who is to reply. I am glad that there has been broad agreement on both sides of the Committee, but I hope that the possibility of further cutting the numbers of immigrants in the way I have indicated will be given careful consideration by the Government.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Miss Joan Lestor (Eton and Slough)
The main tone of the debate has been of people seeking to find ways and means to improve the quality of race relations in the country generally. Coming from a constituency like Eton and Slough, which has a high percentage of coloured immigrants, I should be very foolish if I pretended that there was not a tremendous need for an improvement in the quality of race relations and for a great examination of the way in which we deal with, and help, people coming to this country who have different cultural backgrounds and who can be clearly distinguished because of the colour of their skin.
The difference between hon. Members, with the exceptions of the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) and the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys), is on whether by further restricting the 5,000 work vouchers issued and the 40,000-odd dependants allowed in we should contribute to improving the quality of race relations and ironing out some of the problems in this country. The hon. Members for Louth and Colchester (Mr. Buck) said that we must 545 not forget that the Labour Party changed its attitude on the whole question of controlling immigration when it came to power. The hon. Members made great play of this, and said that the Labour Party could be very liberal about this matter until it was in office.
But this must be followed up, because it is enormously important. One of the reasons why it was strongly argued by certain hon. Members that it would be unwise artificially to control immigration was that once one starts controlling immigration one upsets the natural flow of people into the country. That is what happened. In the past the figures of immigration into this country ebbed and flowed according to the economic situation here, and most of those who came in were rapidly absorbed into jobs and the social pattern of the community. But once we began controlling them we created certain difficulties. The reason why it is now not possible to go back to the earlier situation is that the pattern of control and of people coming in has changed very rapidly.
Reference has been made to the fact that the biggest category of immigrants is now dependants of those already here. The right hon. Member for Streatham ought not to be allowed to get away with what he put in a benign and benevolent fashion. It was the most pernicious piece of propaganda dressed up as benevolence that I have ever heard. He said that we should pay the passage back for those of the coloured Commonwealth who would like to go home and give them money to help in resettlement, and then he said that we should restrict the children coming into the country not from the age of 16 but down to 12. If one takes those two things together, the right hon. Gentleman was saying that if we stop the children of coloured immigrants coming into the country we shall force their parents to go back home. This is a very dangerous piece of propaganda.
§ Mr. John Page
Is the hon. Lady saying that both the fathers and mothers of immigrant families have come here leaving their children in their native country? If so, that is rather surprising. One can imagine just one parent of a family coming here. But apparently the hon. Lady's suggestion is that in many cases both parents are here and the family will suffer 546 unless the children are allowed to join them.
§ Miss Lestor
The suggestion was made not by me but by the right hon. Member for Streatham, who advocated that the age of dependants coming here should be cut down to 12. The right hon. Gentleman also spoke of passage and settlement money being given to those who wished to go home. My interpretation of that is that the right hon. Gentleman was suggesting that by stopping the children coming here we should force the parents to go home.
In some cases both parents are in this country and have left their children at home. In other cases one parent is here hoping that the other parent will come in the future with the children. A great deal of hardship and misery will be created if we start to legislate that, say, a wife can join her husband here but their children over 12 years of age will not be allowed in.
Questions have been asked about who should be restricted and how further cuts can be made. The hon. Member for Louth seemed unable to take the point put to him that skilled and professional people are the main categories coming to this country. Dependants form a very large category. Hon. Members have rightly asked what estimate can be made of dependants coming here in future. I am sure that my hon. Friend will deal with the point.
It seems logical to assume that if the number of people entering the country is cut by a restriction on the issue of vouchers—and the number of vouchers allowed is not being taken up—the number of dependants of those people coming in will also fall. It is, therefore, equally reasonable to assume that, since people will want to have their dependants here, the number of dependants—which I agree reached a certain peak—will decline in future.
It is important to remember that a certain pattern is created. This has not been realised by those who have agitated for more restrictions. In my constituency more non-English-speaking children have come in since the restrictions were introduced. This means that remarks like those uttered by the right hon. Member for Streatham accelerate the rate at which dependants come here, simply 547 because people fear, as many Asian immigrants have, that if the age of a dependent child is reduced to 16, it might be reduced to 10 or even less in future. This is why the restriction argument can create a false pattern.
§ Mr. Robert Howarth
My hon. Friend is adducing an interesting theory. However, I should have thought that the more likely explanation is that the large-scale immigration of Asians in the last 10 years or so has meant that most of them are now more settled and have built up the means to make it more possible for them to send for their children, which they might not have been in a position to do several years ago.
§ Miss Lestor
In Southall and Eton and Slough we have had Asian immigrants for far longer than many other constituencies. I agree that there is some substance in my hon. Friend's argument; that they are now able to send for their dependants. However, the speed with which many immigrants have sent for their children and other dependants has been accelerated because of their fear that they might not be able to get them in if they delay sending for them. That is why I say that the Minister should deal effectively with the sort of propaganda put out by the right hon. Member for Streatham.
Hon. Members have again spoken of the question of dispersal. It has been pointed out that although the percentage of coloured people in our community is small, difficulties have arisen because they are concentrated in certain areas. People who constantly speak about dispersing immigrants throughout the community usually argue from the wrong end of the theory. Coloured immigrants settled in certain areas because economic development took place in those areas. Jobs were available for them and while there might have been a housing shortage, employers in those areas were crying out for labour. It was only natural that the immigrants should head for those places.
It is difficult now to talk in terms of dispersal within the community—of moving whole communities of people to other parts of the country—even if we had good economic development. However, when we have more regional development, people generally will want to move to 548 the developing areas, and that will be of considerable help.
If there is discrimination in employment, as there undoubtedly is, and if that discrimination extends to housing, it is bound to reflect itself in the education pattern in our schools. Indeed, this is happening. Talk of "bus-ing"—moving children in and out of areas—arises only because we have allowed a situation to develop in which there is discrimination in employment extending to discrimination in housing and leading to a detrimental effect in the education pattern. In other words, children have language difficulties and we are confronted with the whole problem about which we are speaking, coupled with these additional difficulties. Had legislation been introduced earlier to solve some of these problems, we would not have created barriers in housing and employment and many of the difficulties which we now face would have begun to solve themselves.
They did not, because we looked at this rather too late. As someone from a constituency with a large immigrant population, and as one who has lived in such an area, I do not think that further restriction, even if we could do it, which I doubt, upon the figures given to us for voucher holders and dependants would contribute anything towards improving race relations.
Once one begins implying, by word or deed, that there is something undesirable about a person because he is black, then from that point of view one makes race relations worse. One has to look at it from the other point of view and deal with the existing problems of race relations and people with different cultures. It is my view, and I may be one of the few people who hold this view, that we have restricted too soon and legislated too late. I hope that now we will make that up and go ahead with legislation and try to deal with the problem of immigration and cultural differences by improving the quality of life in this country.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. John Page
Having heard every speech made in this Committee on this subject, I feel that everyone from the opposite benches, with the notable exception of the Home Secretary, has declared that hon. Members on this side who do not agree with the policies of the speaker are racialists and are tarnished with the 549 scars of colour prejudice. This was said even in a courageous speech by the hon. Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Robert Howarth).
I want to state clearly at the beginning of my speech, in which I shall recommend further restrictions, that my sole object in doing so is to improve the relationship between those who have already immigrated and settled here and avoid the very real danger, unless further steps are taken soon, of there growing a belief in the minds of the native population that immigrants are a nuisance. There is a danger that they may achieve the second-class status which all of us so desperately want to avoid.
On the other hand, there was a real note of complacency in the Home Secretary's speech. It was a well-ordered and convincing speech, but he gave the impression that everything that needed to be done had been done. He said there have only been 3,500 voucher holders admitted so far this year and that we are well on the way to getting out of our difficulties. This is a complacent view and the numbers of immigrants still entering the country are really dangerous in the context of future years.
We must look at the official figures for voucher holders, dependants and settlers from 1963 until today. In 1963, the total was 60,000, in 1964, 56,000, 1965, 57,000, in 1966, 50,000 and by forecasting this present year by three months remaining I think we will arrive at a figure of 60,000, made up of 50,000 voucher holders and dependants and 100,000 arrivals from East Africa, which the Home Secretary gave in a separate category. To that number must be added, although it does not form part of my argument, the 17,000 aliens and families who will be arriving. Therefore, we are still dealing with a problem not of 3,500 skilled workers but of 60,000 immigrants in general.
In addition to the 220,000 immigrants who have arrived since 1963, a further 60,000 this year—and I see no reason why there should not be a further 60,000 or more next year—constitutes too large a number for this country to absorb in three ma in fields: housing, schooling and jobs. These 60,000 new immigrants will need 20,000 homes. All of us who have experience and knowledge of the areas 550 in which immigrants like to settle realise that overcrowding in housing is already a major worry. It must be a great worry in Eton and Slough and in every other part of the country where large numbers of immigrants live.
There is a recent report about a terrace of houses near High Wycombe with people in the terrace hearing strange noises at night. It was discovered from one house which had been purchased by an immigrant that all through the attics above the other houses immigrant families were living. It is shocking that such conditions should be allowed. In view of the building figures and the home-providing figures, it is too much of a burden to put on top of those already in need a requirement for another 20,000 homes.
§ Mr. Ennals
I do not want to demolish the hon. Gentleman's argument, but perhaps he would think it relevant that almost three times as many people emigrate from Britain to other parts of the world as immigrants who come here.
§ Mr. Page
Then it was made by another member of the Government Front Bench. But emigration from this country is traditional. It is accepted. The new figures are arrived at after taking into consideration the number of emigrants which one can normally be led to expect.
The hon. Lady the Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) mentioned her dislike—and I have the same dislike—of what she called discrimination in housing. There is a fear—it has been mentioned by the hon. Member for Bolton, East and others—among British property owners, of immigrant families buying houses next door to them or in their area. This is a fear which we should like to believe did not exist and should not exist. I am sure that most ordinary British families would not object to having the Maharajah of Cooch Behar living in the house next door.
I have had pointed out to me that the condition of a house very near my constituency bought by an immigrant family has been allowed to deteriorate. It is overcrowded. The garden is overgrown. 551 But what creates the prejudice, which I believe all hon. Members feel that we must try to avoid, is the fact that at weekends and other times live birds are pegged out in the garden in a ritual method of slaughter which can be seen from the windows of the houses next door. I do not say that it is not right and natural for the immigrants to wish to follow those means of eating, which probably have a religious background, but it is not surprising that people who live next door do not enjoy it. That is why I feel so strongly that we must try to control the extra number of immigrants coming here until those who are already here have had an opportunity of being assimilated by the local population with whom they live.
I should like to turn to the problem of jobs, from two points of view. First, the Home Secretary said that voucher holders were skilled men with a technical background. I have said again and again that it is a shame that we in this country allow ourselves to be the recipients of the brain drain from the under-developed countries. For example, some of the doctors may come here for further study, but others remain here, living in this country and serving us, when the need in the developing countries is so much greater than our need. We should not be complacent about that. I am prepared to accept that it may be necessary to receive unskilled people, but for us to take away from the developing countries the men they most need to help them to improve themselves is a shame on our community.
The Home Secretary said that immigration does not cause unemployment and that there are no United Kingdom citizens to take the jobs given to those who receive labour vouchers. That is only half the story. I believe that immigration, especially taking account of its effect over the years, must result in fewer jobs being available for British nationals. I am confident that if there had been no immigration from the Commonwealth into this country in the last ten years, there would be no location of industry problem for us to overcome. If the immigrant workers had not come into the already overcrowded, prosperous 552 areas in the South-East and the Midlands, companies in those areas would have been compelled to move out to the areas with pockets of high unemployment and to set up plant to mnaufacture their products in those areas.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
Is the hon. Member really suggesting that Birmingham Corporation would have moved its buses out to the areas where workers are being unemployed?
§ The Temporary Chairman (Sir Beresford Craddock)
Order. I know we have had fairly wide latitude, but I feel that the hon. Member is going just a little too wide, and I hope that he will get back to the point at issue.
§ Mr. Page
I was led astray, and I must apologise to the Committee for having succumbed to the red herring which was drawn across the lucid and objective path I was trying to follow.
I should like to see the immigration laws changed so that it would be made absolutely clear to future immigrants to this country on any kind of permit that, for as far as could be envisaged into the foreseeable future, they would not be able to bring their families with them. This would mean that single men would come to this country, and that would probably be advantageous for them and for this country.
Secondly, the proposition put forward by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) and endorsed by the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Winnick), which has dramatic overtones, that there should be a declaration by existing immigrants of the number of their families whom they might at some time wish to bring into this country is one which I think should be followed up forthwith, and I hope that the Under-Secretary will examine that and consider it very seriously.
Thirdly, the Home Secretary has said that he is examining the problem of the 553 East Africans who have United Kingdom citizenship and United Kingdom passports. I t is a very difficult problem and one I can see a lot of difficulties in solving. On the other hand, to leave for 250,000 people who have that kind of passport an open door through which they can have free entry at any time in the future would be something which the public would not be prepared to stand.
Lastly, I also think that there should be a plan to help with the repatriation of any immigrants who wish to return to their own homes. As the Home Secretary said in his speech today, we want those who come here to enjoy their lives. And so do I. This is what we have really got to try to achieve. The British people are the most tolerant in the world, but I believe that if too great a pressure of numbers of immigrants is placed on them they will find the burden becomes intolerable. I hope that steps will be taken to see that the numbers are restricted so that absorption and complete unity with the British natives will be possible for future immigrants.
§ Mr. Heffer
I want to make one or two remarks about some of the speeches which I have heard this evening and relate them to past discussions in the House.
First of all, I shall take up one or two of the points made by the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. John Page), who spoke about the problems which immigrant families, with their different cultural backgrounds, cause to those whom he terms the natives of this country.
The street in which I live in Liverpool is a very good example of multiracialism. We have coloured families, families from the Continent and families from other parts of the world. The only family with whom we ever had difficulty was that of a white painter who got drunk on Saturday nights and beat his wife, and it greatly distressed the coloured family who lived opposite. Every Saturday there was a terrible row in the street which we had to go and sort out. I put that forward to indicate that it is not necessarily immigrant families who cause difficulties in neighbourhoods. Some of our own people are pretty good at it.
I come from a city which has a record in race relations which is second to none. At the time of the trouble in places like 554 Notting Hill and Nottingham, there were no difficulties in Liverpool. We have had immigrants coming into Liverpool since the first brick was laid in the city. Indeed, Liverpool was built by Irish immigrants, from the north and the south. When one talks about mixed marriages in Liverpool one does not mean marriages between white and coloured people but between Catholics and Protestants. That is where trouble arises in our city, not between the coloured and white populations, who have learned to live with each other.
Obviously there are tensions between individuals at times, particularly when a coloured man finds difficulty in getting a job. The fact has to be faced that if a white man and a coloured man go for the same job, sometimes the white man gets it simply because he is white. That is a situation which is bound to create tension in the coloured community. However, it is not a question of whether we should have more immigrants in. It is much more a matter of sorting out the problems between the races.
We have had problems of overcrowding in Liverpool ever since the city was built. Reading the history of the city, one finds reports of Irish families coming in their thousands to live in the cellars of the city where all sorts of diseases abounded, resulting ultimately in the first glimmerings of a municipal health service. But it sorted itself out. We are all Liverpudlians, whether we are coloured or white. We live with each other, and that is something which our people have to learn.
Some of the speeches which we have heard from right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have been excellent. Others did not help matters, because they raised unnecessary issues. We have heard about birds being pegged out on lines. However, we must accept that there are different traditions and cultural backgrounds. There always are when there is an influx of immigrants from another part of the world. Things take time to adjust themselves.
It is important to ensure that we do not develop ghettoes in our cities. Unfortunately, that is the present tendency. The Liverpool, 8, area, for example, is almost wholly coloured. Overcrowding goes on there. We have to make certain that these people are given the same 555 opportunity as other sections of the community of taking council houses and moving into other estates. This is our responsibility and this is the important thing that we have to deal with in relation to this question.
The hon. Member for Harrow, West said that if we had not had all these immigrants in we would not have the unemployment problems which we have in areas like Liverpool and so on. I would point out that if we had not had the Italian immigrants we would not have had a brickmaking industry in Bedford. Certain sections of our industry exist because of the immigrant workers from all parts of the world. Our transport system, whether it is the underground in London or the Liverpool buses, could not operate without the immigrants, most of them coloured.
Our hospital service is in the same category. Does anyone when he goes to hospital, say, "This fellow is coloured. I do not want him." Of course not. He is only too delighted to receive help, especially if he is at death's door. He does not care who it is; he just wants to get better.
When we analyse the problem these are extraneous questions, but let us come to the serious question about immigrants coming in. What is the actual position? We have had the figures before, but we might as well have them again, because the whole world should know time and time again what the real situation is. In 1966 there were 5,461 of both categories. The argument will be: what about the 40,000 dependants? My hon. Friend made it clear that there are three times as many people emigrating every year to various parts of the world than there are immigrants coming in. It is not a great number of people; it is a reasonable number. My opinion is that we were a bit too restrictive. I was not in favour of the Act when it was introduced, because it seemed to be a bit of backsliding from the firm and courageous decisions which the Labour Party always took in relation to Commonwealth immigration into this country.
I do not want to take up the time of the House further on this question. I have made most of the points that I wanted to make, but I felt I ought to intervene because of some of the points that were made.
556 I conclude by reiterating what has been said in relation to immigrants coming in and what we have to do. First, it is essential that they have equal opportunities, irrespective of their colour, race or religion. This is a tenet which every civilised human being ought to accept. We cannot ask people coming into have less than what we have. I am sorry that we do not have a few coloured immigrants on benches on both sides of the House. I long to see the day when this happens.
Secondly, we must recognise that they have cultural diversity. Not only does the odd individual peg out a few birds on a line, but they give us magnificent enjoyment with their different types of music. In Liverpool I enjoy going to parties run by immigrants from various parts of the world and listening to music different from that which I normally hear. Food, too, is very important, and the more restaurants there are to provide us with Indian and Pakistani food, the better.
We must be tolerant with each other. This is an essential part of our modern civilisation, but I hope that when people talk about tolerance, they will mean it, because I often hear people saying that they want to be tolerant, that they believe in tolerance, but the next sentence destroys what has just been said, and there is no reality about it at all.
We must keep before us the aims which have been outlined today. I hope that this discussion will be a small contribution to making Britain more tolerant, to making certain that we do not get the kind of tensions which have been created in the United States, resulting in race riots and that sort of thing. At all costs we must take every possible step to ensure that that does not happen here. We must do it, not by further restrictions on immigration, but by learning to live with each other as equal partners in an equal world.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Iremonger
The Committee always appreciates the down-to-earth sincerity of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) I thought that he made a very hopeful, helpful and sensible speech. I hope that I shall succeed in striking the right balance between tolerance and intolerance, as he advocated.
557 I thought, however, that the hon. Gentleman was a little unfair to my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. John Page), who could not possibly have been less aggressive or objectionable in what he said in expressing feelings and anxieties which, however unfortunate, are deep and genuine.
I would like to follow the hon. Gentleman on one point, because, as he frankly said at the beginning of his speech, he was originally opposed to the Commonwealth Immigrants Act. He was one of the many hon. Gentlemen opposite who wished the Labour Party to reverse the policy of the Conservative Government, but what I have never understood about those who took that position, and I have never had a fair answer from any of them, is whether they did then, and do now, advocate absolute unrestricted entry? If they do not, what degree of restriction do they advocate? I have never been able to see where they would have drawn the line, or, if they would themselves have drawn a line anywhere, why they were so adamant in not wanting us to draw one where we did.
I was enormously heartened, as other hon. Members were, by the memorable speech of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg). I thought that, as so often, he expressed the feelings of the heart and soul of the Conservative Party—robust and sanguine, practical and humane; and I only hope that it will be recognised by his supporters, and throughout the country, that it is his voice, and not the voice of everyone who purports to speak for the Conservative Party, which represents our attitude and what should be our policy.
It might not be considered out of place if I said in this Committee, as I have said repeatedly elsewhere, that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the party specifically said during the last General Election that he was utterly opposed to racialism. I think that his words were, "I will not have anyone who has anything to do with it in my party". This should be on record as the unequivocal statement of the Conservative Party's position.
The control of immigrants under the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, which the Committee is asked to continue for a further 12 months, must obviously be 558 maintained, but it is equally obvious—I am glad that the Home Secretary acknowledged this—that the Act itself is far from perfect and requires tightening up in certain respects. There is much public disquiet about the possible evasion of immigrant control by adults and also through the abuse of the right of entry for dependants. It is somewhat reassuring to know that the Home Secretary has future permanent legislation in mind and that such loopholes will be stopped up when he introduces it.
I hope that when the time comes he will adopt the suggestion put forward from this side of the Committee that every immigrant, upon entry, should be obliged to register the dependants whom he will ask to be permitted to join him later. I would also like the right hon. Gentleman to consider the desirability of making the grant of vouchers dependent upon the number of dependants in the pipeline, and our community's ability to absorb them, assuming that the influx of immigrants is to continue in future.
I was disappointed at some omissions from the Home Secretary's speech. First, in my opinion there must be provision for compulsory health checks of dependants on arrival, such as now operate for voucher holders, and also proper provision for the following up of those health checks by the medical officers of health of local authorities. Secondly, provision should be made to require deposits from immigrants in respect of themselves and their dependants, in order to relieve the public of this country from the expense of immigrants' return passages in the event of their deportation.
Thirdly, I should like it to be made compulsory for any immigrant who is convicted of incitement to racial hatred to be deported. The recent developments in the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination and the reports of Black Muslim speeches made in this country indicate the potential for mischief which exists in Britain today. If we natives so behave as to deserve the hatred of immigrants, no attempts at bottling it up by law or punishing individual cases will save us or serve us—but unjustified mischief can and should be nipped in the bud.
I say this without any fear of accusations of undue partisanship from hon. 559 Members opposite, because it was I who introduced—with absolutely no support from my Government—a Public Order (Amendment) Bill in 1962, the provisions of which subsequently were incorporated in the Race Relations Act. My Bill would have made it a statutory offence, as it had already been an offence in case law, to incite to racial hatred in such a way as to cause a breach of public order. It is only right that this part of our law should be seen to operate both ways, and to demonstrate that incitement to hatred against one community is no better than incitement to hatred against another.
One point referred to by the Home Secretary—and I assume that he was in order in mentioning it—rather concerned me. I found it far from satisfactory to know that anything from 6,000 to 10,000 immigrants from East Africa may be expected to come here every year, totally exempt from control, and that there are about 150,000 such United Kingdom citizens who may eventually come here from East Africa.
Far from envisaging the discontinuance of the Act, which one understood was the desire and object of the party opposite when they were in opposition, I want it improved. I want it made more strict in form and operated with greater strictness. I should like to go further, for reasons which I hope to explain and which are not inhumane but realistic, and attuned to the needs and anxieties of the people whom I represent.
I think that there should now be, for an indefinite period, a total stop to the entry of Commonwealth citizens. It really is time now to cry, "Enough". [AN HON. MEMBER: "Doctors?"] Yes, doctors and all. It is time to cry enough, with one saving reservation. I accept what my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone and the Home Secretary said in this regard: I would not include in this embargo the entry of the dependants of those who are already here.
I say this because it is, I believe, the necessary prerequisite of the prime objective which we all should pursue, namely, the achievement and the maintenance of social harmony among all sections of the people of Britain. As my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West said, our people 560 are as decent, as tolerant and as kind as any to be found on this wicked planet. The sense of justice and fair play on which we pride ourselves is such that xenophobia and racial hatred do not readily flourish among us.
However, I think that we in the House of Commons should recognise frankly the profound anxiety and sense of shock which the sudden precipitation of a vast influx of people of alien stock and culture has had on our people. Do not let us fool ourselves that this sense of anxiety and shock is confined to the unbalanced sort of person who writes rude letters to the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Winnick). It affects many millions of normal, decent, kindly people who are not racialists or anything like it, who would be outraged at the suggestion that they were, and whose only peculiarity is that they fancy that they have their heads screwed on the right way and can tell a hawk from a handsaw.
I say this to the Government. In the interests of the maintenance of racial harmony, do not push these people too far. Our history and traditions are very different from those in the United States. Therefore, I do not think that the immigrants here now or their descendants need necessarily develop into the sort of problem posed by the negro in America. But, even taking the most optimistic view, I think that the Government and all of us in our constituencies have an immense task of public education and leadership if we are to maintain and achieve social harmony in Britain in the years to come.
I do not think that this task is possible of fulfilment if the numbers of immigrants grow appreciably more than at present and in fact are not seen to be consciously kept down to the level at which they are now. Unless the Government are seen to call a halt, they will forfeit the public confidence they need and so make their task of public education and leadership quite impossible.
To be more constructive, continuing the Act, as we must, and applying it wisely and strictly, as I hope that we will, it is up to us to give support, sympathy and encouragement to the immigrants who are here now, and especially to their hosts our fellow countrymen, the ordinary people of Britain, who are faced 561 with a psychological crisis such as this nation has not had to face in its history.
I have always been concerned and interested in this, but now I am becoming personally involved, because there is an increasing number of West Indians, Indians and other immigrants coming into my constituency. I want to try to help them to feel welcome among the people that I represent. I want my own people, whom I have represented in Parliament for 13½ years, to feel welcoming towards them. If they do not feel it, the whole community will go sour—and quite soon, too—because we cannot pretend about this sort of thing. It is no use our saying what people ought to feel. It is what they really feel that matters. Their feelings will to some extent be influenced by the attitude the Government and we in Parliament take in our dealings with the public.
Assuming that the Act is continued, as I wish it to be, and stringently operated, as I think that it should be, the question arises of what one ought to do and what hope there is of assisting any Government in their task of public reconciliation.
I must say that in seeking advice and guidance from my own constituents and leading members of the community in my constituency I have found very little constructive response, although there is some public awareness of this problem. I was asked a little while ago to speak at a seminar of sixth form young men and women from local grammar schools on the subject of "You and Your Neighbour", organised by a rabbi of the Reformed Synagogue in my constituency—a man of great insight and imagination, as may be exemplified by a very remarkable action that he took in trying to reconcile his own Jewish community to the place in the world which a new Germany, one hopes, has taken.
The rabbi conceived the bold project of bringing over a large number of children of German parents to stay in Jewish homes in the hope that those who felt such implacable bitterness might be reconciled by making contact with the new generation whose innoncence might be presumed. I thought that was a very bold and imaginative thing to do. It is not insignificant that this man who had that kind of insight and boldness conceived the idea of bringing to my con- 562 stituents' attention the psychological crisis with which they were faced in trying to deal with the influx of immigrants.
I said to those young people, the most intelligent children of my constituents, that I would be very glad to have their views and their outlook and to same some idea of their attitude and any comments they might offer. I said to them that they were perhaps the most privileged people in the world, and they received that observation with derisive disbelief. I suppose they thought that one could not be privileged unless one had been to Eton. I merely asked them to compare their breakfast with what they would have had if they had been Indians.
I pointed out to them that it is a tradition of any civilisation, let alone a Christian civilisation, that strangers and people in less powerful positions than oneself should be given every possible assistance. I pointed out that the people who came to this country as immigrants from overseas are not inferior people with a lower standard of culture necessarily; that, in fact, these are people who are embarking on a very great adventure. They are people who have taken a great plunge in life. They are the very best men and the best families from their communities. They are coming to a country which is, to put it at the very least, rather cold. They are coming among a community which, however warmhearted, is not always very demonstrative, particularly in comparison with the sort of people they live with in their own communities. I said it was up to us in this country to consider what we were going to do about making them feel welcome, which they do not automatically feel, especially in the face of hostility which many people manifest towards them.
I got absolutely no response whatsoever, although I specifically invited all those who listened to my submissions to let me have their views and suggestions. I am afraid, therefore, that the task that I have referred to, the Government's task of public education and the stimulating of awareness and sympathy, is not very easy; and even the most imaginative and receptive of the people we have to deal with, those who are just completing their education, are not altogether alive to the 563 difficulty or the possibilities of help that they can give.
I have observed in my constituency people who are reacting constructively to this problem. We have a very fine Indian association. The elected members of the local council have very good relations with the leading members of the Indian community. I am glad to see that the Conservative Party has made constructive and positive efforts to make contact with the leaders of local immigrant communities, and the local Rotary is actively interesting itself in the problem.
None the less, I fear that those of us who are concerned about this matter, as all in this Committee must be, are somewhat ahead of public opinion. The great bulk of ordinary, decent British people are filled with misgiving and anxiety, totally without guidance and leadership, and, if we are not very careful, public opinion will go sour.
One ought, therefore, to ask oneself what it is that we should be trying to do, assuming that the Act is continued and its machinery strictly operated. First, we should recognise that talk of integration is totally misconceived and absolute rot. I myself, if I were a stranger in a strange country, being the English mongrel that I am, and proud of it, would not want to be integrated with anybody. I am proud of myself, my heritage, my traditions, and my background. I want to be on good terms with my neighbours, but I do not want to be integrated. The only people I want to be integrated with are my wife and family.
So far as integration is concerned, I am perfectly satisfied with myself as I am. I believe that this applies—it would be an insult to say otherwise—to the Pakistanis, with their great religion, history and culture. It applies to the Hindus. It applies very largely to the West Indians, who also, though they are a Christian people, and are proud of their British connection, are very much a distinct community.
We ought not to hold out the will-o'-the-wisp of integration. We should try, on the contrary, to encourage immigrant people to maintain their pride in their individuality and their culture, assuring them not of any desire on our part to integrate anyone against his will, but 564 assuring them rather of our respect and good will.
Secondly, we ought far more seriously to recognise the reality of the fears of our own people. There are fears in respect of schools, fears in respect of the standard of education to be given to the children of ratepayers who are bound to wonder whether their children are really getting the best possible chance in life if they have to learn with others who, perhaps, are not masters even of our native language. We ought to recognise the anxieties in respect of housing, both local authority and private, especially anxieties about the fall in the value of houses which takes place when immigrants come into a district.
I ask hon. Members to envisage themselves in the position of one who has put his life savings, £1,000 or so, into a house on mortgage and who then sees the value of that house fall to an extent which pretty well represents all he has put into it, leaving just the mortgaged value. It is not funny. It is all very well to talk Pharisaically and sanctimoniously. Say that sort of thing to my constituents and they will soon tell one of the responsibility which they have to their wives and families, who are the ones for whom they have prime concern. And so they should. It is perfectly right. It is a sign not of their hostility to immigrant communities, but of their sense of responsibility towards their own people.
We ought also to recognise that there is a great basis of justification in the objections which people have to the different ideas which many in immigrant communities have concerning nuisances, public and private, noise, sanitation, and so on. These are real objections. It is all very well for hon. Members who do not have to put up with that sort of thing to say that it does not matter, or that, if they had to put up with it, they would not mind. They have got to come to terms with the people whom they represent, who do mind. It is no good telling them that they ought not to.
There is another real problem which I have not heard mentioned in the debate, though I should have expected the Home Secretary and the Under-Secretary of State to be very much aware of it. I am greatly worried about the problem of children in the care of local authorities who are coloured or "half-caste", as my 565 right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) put it, rather unfortunately, I thought, with respect. It is quite appalling, when one goes to any local authority establishment which has children in care, to see the large number of coloured children there in care, mostly West Indian, some African and many of mixed race. I cannot help feeling that the classic sociological background calculated to produce the psychopathic misfit must be the background of a child of a mixed marriage or other union brought up in a local authority home and separated from parents.
I am sorry that my right hon. Friend for Streatham is not in his place. What he said about half-caste children might have been interpreted as sounding a little heartless, but I do not think that he meant it like that. With all the heart, sympathy and insight in the world, though, if one looks behind what he said, one sees a very real social and psychological problem for a whole generation of children, who may number thousands. That is an aspect of the difficulty of reconciling the immigrant communities with the host community which we should frankly recognise, and try to deal with as a genuine anxiety.
§ Mr. Heffer
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Israeli authorities had, and still have, the same problem over their children from immigrant families? There is a real problem in Israel of the maladjusted children from immigrant families, and it has nothing to do with colour. The problem exists in all countries where there is an influx of immigrants.
§ Mr. Iremonger
I am absolutely with the hon. Gentleman. I only indicated the existence of colour because it helps one to recognise that these children were of immigrant parents. What I said about the children of immigrant parents in care applies equally to many other children in care. It is the problem of the deprived child who is not brought up in a loving family relationship. There seems to me to be a distressing and depressingly large proportion of such children of obviously immigrant origin.
§ Mr. Iremonger
That may well be so, but it is a diagnosis rather than a prescription for treatment. Since the hon. Gentleman has such an interest in, and an insight into, this matter perhaps he would agree that very largely these are the children of students. This is particularly difficult, because they would not want them adopted. Often through ignorance rather than callousness they are apt to get rid of their children while doing their studies and while their wives are working, not realising that before bringing them back into family life irreparable harm may have been done to their development.
§ Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)
With regard to what the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) said about the position in Israel, the most difficult problem there was when a ship arrived from India under Israel's open immigration system and 600 people who were very dark-skinned and had the traditions of the Indian Continent got off. I think that every Israeli Minister would say that they have been the most difficult community to integrate into the economic and social life of Israel out of all the immigrants from all over the world. Israel really has a problem there.
§ Mr. Iremonger
My hon. Friend has usefully drawn the Committee's attention to the underlying reality that the problem is not a matter of race or colour. It is a matter of different culture and the difficulty of mixing which has been the same all over the world and all through history. The human being is a very slow-developing animal, and the problem is likely to be with us for some time.
We should recognise that integration is not really the right way to look at our objectives, and the reality of the home population's fears. We should try further to see that local authorities are more active in the personal involvement of elected members and responsible officers in the affairs and difficulties of the immigrant communities. I hope that the Home Secretary will think that this would be a useful thing for him to promote, possibly through the Race Relations Board. I should like to see the 567 alien communities in close touch with their elected representatives, going to them and holding them responsible for the difficulties they encounter in their relationships with the host community.
If the responsibility were put more roundly on local authorities by the Home Secretary it would be very helpful in getting active participation. After all, once people start trying to help with something they usually take a very much less prejudiced and biased view of the difficulties than if they are merely standing by criticising.
§ It being Ten o'clock The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.
§ Committee report Progress.