HC Deb 09 April 1968 vol 762 cc1055-6
6. Mr. Archer

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs what is the result of his discussions with other Commonwealth Governments on the question of the admission of Asian immigrants from Kenya who hold passports of the United Kingdom and Colonies; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Whitlock

As my right hon. Friend stated in his reply to a Question from my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. William Price) on 28th March, we are maintaining close contact with the Commonwealth Governments principally concerned with arrangements for the admission of United Kingdom passports holders of Asian origin from Kenya.

Mr. Archer

Has my hon. Friend made it clear that, while Britain accepts the major responsibility, if the Commonwealth means anything this is just the kind of question on which responsibility should be shared by other Commonwealth members?

Mr. Whitlock

It would be very helpful if other countries accepted these immigrants from Kenya. This is a matter for Commonwealth Governments themselves, and they would not need to refer to Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Fisher

If large numbers of Kenyan Asians arrive this summer from India, what is the Government's policy to be? Will they admit them, in which case it makes nonsense of the recent Act of Parliament, or will they reject them, in which case what is to become of these people? Are they to be in perpetual orbit between England and India or India and Kenya?

Mr. Whitlock

We shall have to face that situation when it comes, but the Government of India have already admitted several hundred Kenyans for a temporary period. All the indications are at the moment that those ready to leave Kenya left in the panic exodus before the recent Act was introduced. The expected cancellation of residence permits has not yet reached significant proportions.

Mr. Braine

Does the Under-Secretary realise that this is quite intolerable since his statement leaves in doubt and uncertainty large numbers of British subjects in Kenya? If he cannot give a clear answer now, will he undertake that a clear answer on this subject will be given?

Mr. Whitlock

There is every reason to hope that the Kenyan immigrant legislation which the House recently passed will be administered in such a way as to cause no difficulty.