§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. R. H. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
I beg to move, Amendment No. 5, in page 1, line 12, leave out from ' he ' to end of line 13 and insert:' or one of his parents or grandparents '.
§ The Chairman
I think that it would be convenient if we were also to discuss Amendment No. 7, in page 1, line 12, leave out ' or '; Amendment No. 8, in line 13, after father ', insert:' or his mother or his mother's mother or his mother's father or his father's mother '.and Amendment No. 9, in line 13, at end insert:' his father's mother, his mother, his mother's father or his mother's mother '.
§ Mr. Angus Maude (Stratford-on-Avon)
On a point of order, Sir Eric. I would call your attention to the fact that this afternoon we are dealing with a Bill which includes a great many references to the main Act, that of 1962, and today there is apparently a shortage in the Vote Office of copies of that Act. It is almost impossible to understand what some of the Amendments mean unless one can refer to the original Act. I gather that the Vote Office is doing its best to get more copies later today, but would it be possible for Mr. Speaker to make representations that some preparations are made for an event of this kind?
§ The Chairman
I am much obliged to the hon. Member, and I sympathise with him. I agree that it is very difficult to follow the Bill without reference to the 1962 Act. I was not aware of a shortage of conies of the Act in the Vote Office, but in view of what the lion. Gentleman has said, I will do my best to ensure that every effort is made to obtain additional copies of the 1962 1422 Act; and that they are placed in the Vote Office.
§ Mr. David Winnick (Croydon, South)
On a point of order, Sir Eric. Could the non-selection of Amendment 2, in page 1, line 6, leave out from beginning to end of line 10 on page 2 and add' subsection (2)(b) is hereby repealed '.be reconsidered? This is an extremely important Amendment. It seeks to remove what most of us consider to be rather an offensive term in the Bill, and I see no reason why it has not been selected.
§ The Chairman
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there were very good reasons why that Amendment was not selected.
§ Mr. Turton
I make it quite clear at once that I appreciate perfectly well that when the Home Secretary was drafting the Bill in a hurry he put in the words…his father or his father's father…so keeping it to the patriarchal parent. This was the line adopted in the British Nationality Act, 1948, when we were considering who was or who was not to get British citizenship, but I submit that the present case is entirely different.
In the present case we are dealing with a group of people who want to go home, and "home" to them is this country, whether it was their mother or their father who was born there. Whatever argument may be made as was made yesterday, about pledges that had been given in 1962 or 1963, what is abundantly clear is that the majority of these people have been given a clear and definite pledge by successive British Governments that if their land was taken from them, or if they had to sell their land, they could come home to England. This is particularly true of the European Settlement Board farmers. I therefore ask the Home Secretary to consider whether it would not be fairer to use the words suggested in the Amendment.
Even if we do this, we will still be dividing this group, because in it there are many whose parents and grandparents were not born in the United Kingdom. A great many of them are second generation Kenyans. I therefore fear that there may be difficulties, but it is quite clear that there will be much greater hardship if the Amendment is not 1423 accepted. At a guess, I would say that some 75 per cent. of the people we wish to cover would come under the Bill as it is at present drafted. Probably another 20 per cent. would be covered by this Amendment, because a great many of these U.K. citizens in Kenya come from Service families, their parents having been born, not in the United Kingdom but on Service stations. As I have travelled around Kenya, I have also found a great many English girls married to Australians and New Zealanders. They and their husbands regard the United Kingdom as home but, as the Bill is drafted, they would not be covered.
I speak briefly because we have a lot of business to discuss, but I press on the Home Secretary that this is a reasonable Amendment. It will not involve very many persons, but it will give an even sense of justice to all those people affected by this part of the Clause.
§ Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)
I support the Amendment, which is very similar to Amendments we have tabled and which are discussable with it. Although I do not approve the principle of selection contained in the Bill—and whether or not it is the Government's intention, the effect of the provision is to allow those of the right colour to be admitted to this country—if that principle is to remain at all, there can be no justification for saying that the place of birth of a person's grandfather is more important than the place of birth of his mother, which is what the Bill states.
That is not right in logic. From my knowledge of the European community in Kenya, I believe that in it there will be a good number who through the female line have close connections with this country which may be absent through the father's line. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) therefore has the force of logic and consistency on his side, and I hope that the Government will accept his Amendment.
§ Mrs. Lena Jeger (Holborn and St. Pancras, South)
I, too, support the Amendment, but I must be forgiven if I am prejudiced in favour of Amendment No. 8, which you, Sir Eric, have said can also be discussed. Amendment No. 8 1424 seeks to insert after ' father ' in page 1, line 13,' or his mother or his mother's mother or his mother's father or his father's mother '.I submit that the Amendment contains what is only a logical proposition. I cannot see any precedent in British law for a prejudice in favour of the patrilineal as against the matrilineal side. We must bear in mind that many of the people concerned will be coming from societies in which matrilineal predominance is more important, and that fact should, if anything, tend more favourably to this consideration—
§ Mrs. Jeger
I must confess to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) that I had not particularly in mind the wishes of the Asian population of America who might want to come to this country.
I urge on the Government that this is an absurd prejudice. Why should it matter more who one's grandfather is than who one's mother is? It is easier to know who one's mother is than to know who one's grandfather is. If there is any doubt in the minds of hon. Members as to their lineage, it is easier for them to trace their mother's lineage than their grandfather's. That applies the world over. If the Clause stays unamended it will create grave injustice. I am particularly concerned about women who have been divorced, about unmarried mothers and about children who are unsure of their lineage back to their grandparent-hood. All sorts of complicated questions of custody and guardianship are involved.
I had the honour, successfully, to bring before the House a British Nationality Act in 1965. It was particularly concerned with the status of alien women married to persons of certain denominations, and I tried to bring forward the complicated problem of the nationality of married women. The present Bill emphasises a great deal of prejudice in status against married women. I had the honour to be the United Kingdom delegate to the Status of Women Commission of the United Nations in 1967. We drew up a draft declaration on elimination of discrimination against women in human rights. This Government have signed that 1425 declaration. I therefore find it most extraordinary that this Clause seems to be a direct contradiction of Article 5 of the Declaration which says:Women shall have the same rights as men to acquire, change or retain their nationality. Marriage to an alien shall not automatically affect the nationality of the wife either by rendering her stateless or by forcing on her the nationality of her husband.That may not be thought strictly relevant to this Amendment, but the provision must affect the issue of a woman who marries in these circumstances. It is quite intolerable, particularly in this Year of Human Rights, that this House of Commons should say that it matters more who one's grandfather is than who one's grandmother is. We are proposing to give special rights to people who happen to have a white grandfather but not a white mother. I am prepared to be told that there is some esoteric reason for this but it seems an extraordinary distinction. Unless I am strongly persuaded that my right hon. Friend has not some inexplicable prejudice against his grandmother I shall feel completely dissatisfied with this Clause. But I know that he is a logical and a kindly man and I am sure that he loves both his grandmothers. I therefore hope he will adopt a grandmotherly affectionate attitude towards this Amendment.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ The Solicitor-General (Sir Arthur Irvine)
The Government have listened with careful attention to the representations made on this point. If I have the opportunity shortly, I will indicate to the Committee what I think may well be the best explicit manner in which this can be dealt with. Before I reach that point I should like to indicate, because I think it puts the matter in proper context, the kind of consideration which has been in our minds in putting forward the Bill in the form in which it is at present before the Committee.
The effect of these Amendments in one form or another is to provide that a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies with a United Kingdom passport should be exempt from the extended operation of the control if he is connected with the United Kingdom by female ancestry. The Bill as drafted provides for exemption based only on male ancestry. Before the Committee 1426 comes to a conclusion on this point, it will want to recognise clearly what is the scope of the matter at stake.
The object of this Clause is to provide that the exemptions from control enjoyed under the 1962 Act by citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies holding United Kingdom passports shall extend only to such persons as have, or whose fathers or paternal grandfathers had, specific connections with the United Kingdom. So we start with the comparatively narrow base of citizens holding United Kingdom passports. The Committee will recognise that in most cases the ancestral connection with the United Kingdom between such people and this country will be in the vast majority of cases through the paternal line.
§ Mrs. Jeger
It simply is not good enough to tell the House that this is one of the facts of the matter. Cannot we have some information on which my right hon. and learned Friend bases this extraordinary conclusion?
§ The Solicitor-General
I am not in a position to give to my hon. Friend or to the Committee a statistical answer to the question which is now put to me. I invite the Committee to draw the inference—which is not conclusive to the argument—that in most cases where someone in this way is himself holding a United Kingdom passport or a passport for a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies it is a reasonable inference—I do not put it higher than that—that in most cases the connection with this country will be through the paternal line, through the father.
§ Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, North)
Can the Solicitor-General explain the situation arising in a former German colony in East Africa when an English woman married a man of German descent who retained German citizenship because of the events of the 1914–18 war, but retained British citizenship?
§ The Solicitor-General
I should think a child of that line would be unlikely to 1427 be the holder of a United Kingdom and Colonies passport. This is the kind of practical factor which I invite the Committee to conclude will normally operate.
The child of such a union as that to which my hon. Friend has referred would, in my view, be likely to have the passport of the father's nationality and citizenship.
§ Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)
Surely, the hon. and learned Gentleman does not have the story right. Take a practical case. Before the 1914–18 war, Tanganyika was a German colony. All the people in that country would therefore have German passports. After the First World War, it became a British colony and, therefore, the people of that colony then got British passports. The grandfathers of applicants, therefore, were paternal not to this country, but to Germany.
§ The Solicitor-General
It is the nationality of the child which decides whether he comes within the provisions of the Bill. Under the scheme of the Bill, an applicant is someone who holds a passport of the United Kingdom and Colonies.
§ Mr. Peter Tapsell(Horncastle)rose—
§ The Solicitor-General
Perhaps I have pursued that matter sufficiently. In saying that, what I put to the Committee is that in our belief, in most cases, a person who is possessed of a United Kingdom passport will have his connection with this country through the father. If it is contested, that is the matter in issue. [Interruption.]
The case which hon. Members have in mind is, presumably, that of a child born overseas, the mother being a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies and the father being an alien or Commonwealth citizen. The child would probably acquire the nationality of the country of birth or the father's nationality, if they were not the same, or both.
The point which was in our mind when the Bill took its original shape was that under British law, in the normal case, one has regard as a matter of law to the father of any subject whose citizenship is in question. The effect of the British Nationality Act is that any person who 1428 was, or is deemed to have been, a British subject immediately before 1st January, 1949, became on that date a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies and so remained a British subject if at the time of his birth his father was a British subject. Under the British Nationality Act, therefore, as a matter of law and practice one goes straight to find who was the father of the person in question. Those were the considerations which were in our minds.
§ The Solicitor-General
I am sorry, no. I have dealt as fully as I can with what we thought were the appropriate inferences to draw from the facts. I have indicated that as a matter of law, if one was concerned with the issue of nationality purely and simply, there would be a great deal to be said in favour of adhering to the matter of paternal connection.
I appreciate, however—and this was the point which the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) brought home to us—that this is not in simple terms a matter of nationality as such. It is a matter fundamentally of connection with the United Kingdom. We are conscious of the undesirability, or what could be argued to be the undesirability, in that wider context of the kind of differentiation which the Bill in its original form involved.
The disposition of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, if this is agreeable to the Committee, is to accept the terms of Amendment No. 5, which appears in the name of the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton and which is regarded as the most satisfactory of the group of Amendments.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
The Solicitor-General could have saved the Committee not only a great deal of time, but a great deal of bewilderment, had he said at the outset that he would accept the Amendment. If the rest of the Bill is to be conducted by excursions into what the Home Office have dreamt up overnight about facts of which they know nothing, we are likely to be here for two or three days. However, we are grateful to the hon. and 1429 learned Gentleman—although I leave it to the mover of the Amendment to say so—for accepting it.
In the light of what has emerged about the lack of knowledge in the Home Office concerning the situation, I should like to know what inquiries the Department has made about whether the proposed conditions are workable and how the truth will be checked of statements concerning people's parents and grandparents. Presumably, that is the sort of thing which is to be investigated by the two itinerant barristers. If that causes the difficulty which it obviously causes within the highly skilled Government, it will result in the greatest difficulty in Kenya and other places.
I hope that without going down too many byways the Solicitor-General will give a word of reassurance that he is certain that this matter can be fairly and expeditiously dealt with and will give an idea of how statements will be checked and examined and what evidence will be accepted.
§ Mr. Frank Hooley (Sheffield, Heeley)
The Government's intention to accept the Amendment makes the Clause, in a sense, even more repulsive, because while it makes clear that every effort will be made to accommodate people who are of European parentage in Kenya—in short, those who are white—there does not appear to be any evidence that similar concessions will be made to those who are brown. This is a concession in the racist sense, in the sense to which I and many of my hon. Friends object fundamentally to the Bill. It does not improve what is now before the Committee.
§ Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)
I would like, first, as one of the sponsors of the Amendment, to thank the Solicitor-General and, secondly, to say that it does not carry the implications that the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) suggested. It is a genuine multi-racial Amendment which will have multi-racial beneficiaries.
Thirdly, I should like to add a postscript in support of what was said by my right hon. Friend who sits on the bench below me. [Interruption.] I refer, of course, to the right hon. Member the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), and I use the word "below" 1430 in a strictly geographical sense. He cannot have been the only member of the Committee who was a little disturbed at the Solicitor-General's reference to the facts when the hon. and learned Gentleman said, "These are considered to be the facts" and gave no further substantiation.
While it is true that in the House of Commons we do not expect quite the strict proof of fact that we require in the courts, it is a little disturbing to think that quite so much ignorance is apparent concerning the factual situation in regard to these fundamental matters. It is another sign of the difficulties of introducing legislation on these complex and difficult matters with the haste with which the Bill has been brought forward. I therefore echo what was said by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland, hoping that the Government will be able to cope with the problems and that they have made a proper factual prognosis of the logistics involved in these questions.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Stanley Henig (Lancaster)
I support the reservation entered by my hon. Friend the Member for Heeley (Mr. Hooley). Quite apart from the question whether acceptance of Amendment No. 5 makes the Bill more racialist, in a sense, more biased towards Europeans and against Asians and Africans who may happen to hold British passports, there is another consideration. When someone with a United Kingdom passport wishes to enter this country, it is profoundly distasteful to make one of the qualifications, perhaps the chief qualification, on which he may or may not come, who happened to be one of his four grandparents. In my view, the true qualification ought to depend on the person himself and on his need.
I make a second point with reference to my right hon. Friend's acceptance of the Amendment. Since it appears, from what we are saying, that nationality, this mystical characteristic which comes from race, can come from any one of four people, it seems possible—I put it no higher—that a person given the right to enter under the amended Clause could have a claim to four different nationalities. Perhaps my right hon. Friend 1431 will confirm or deny that now, by accepting the Amendment, the Government are agreeing to the proposition that someone who has a claim to four nationalities will be allowed to enter this country while someone who has a claim only to British nationality and none other must still be excluded.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)
I beg to move Amendment No. 10, in page 1, line 14, at end insert ' Commonwealth or '.
§ The Chairman
I suggest, that the Committee might conveniently consider at the same time the following two Amendments: Amendment No. 11, in page 1, line, 15, at end insert ' Commonwealth or '.
Amendment No. 12, in page 1, line 15, at end insert or a British colonial territory '.
§ Mr. Thorpe
Amendment No. 11 is a wide-ranging Amendment with wide-ranging effects. I hope that it will enable the Commitee to have a wide-ranging debate, enabling the Government to deal with certain questions which were not dealt with yesterday, particularly certain questions which they undertook to deal with but which were not dealt with by the Minister who wound up last night.
The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor-General will correct me if I am wrong, but, as I see it, in order to be excluded from the effect of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, it was not sufficient merely to be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies; one had to be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies holding a United Kingdom passport which was either issued within the United Kingdom or abroad by officers on behalf of the United Kingdom. If that is so, what we are doing here is still further to restrict the category of those who may be allowed to enter this country without being affected by the operation of either the Commonwealth Immigrants Act or this Bill.
The effect of the Amendment would be that Commonwealth parentage would give a sufficient claim to facilitate free entry. I appreciate that this could lead to an enormous number of persons being 1432 covered, and I shall deal with that point later. The first question, which I ask rhetorically, is: what was the effect of the 1963 Kenya Constitution? If there was one person who did not know what the effect was, it was the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys). I took part in the Second Reading debate on the Kenya Independence Bill in November, 1963. I asked, first, the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, then the hon. Member for Ton-bridge (Mr. Hornby), what would be the position in future regarding those persons who would not opt for Kenya citizenship but who would then have United Kingdom passports. Would they come under the operation of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, or would they have free entry? He said that it was a complicated question and he would deal with it later, as the Minister did when my hon. Friend the Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) raised the matter yesterday, saying that he did not wish to be interrupted. The answer was conspicuous by its absence yesterday, too. We knew the trouble. The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department had his prepared peroration and he was not willing to depart from it.
Because I did not receive an answer from the Under-Secretary of State, I asked the same question of the right hon. Member for Streatham at the end of the debate—what about persons holding United Kingdom passports? The right hon. Gentleman, with great honesty, said:I should like notice of that question.…That was a great revelation from the Minister in charge of the Bill on Second Reading. He went on:…but, with reservations lest I make a mistake "—that temporary acceptance of mortality is, I think, endearingߞ… I would think, once they have acquired a Commonwealth citizenship and have given up their United Kingdom citizenship, they would be treated as citizens of the Commonwealth countries to which they belong.Quite correct.
" But they may for a period still have United Kingdom citizenship before they opt for Commonwealth citizenship. That is the the point I had in mind."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd November, 1963; Vol. 684, c. 1394.]
The right hon. Gentleman still did not say what the effect was, but anyone who 1433 looked at the Kenya Independence Act knew that the effect was quite simple. There was no question of a loophole. There may have been a noose into which the right hon. Member for Streatham has put his head, a singularly appropriate fate for him to meet. A new situation arose after 1963. There was no Colonial Government in Kenya. There was, therefore, no Colonial Government which could give to these people a United Kingdom and Colonies passport issued by a Colonial Government. There was only one category left, and that was a United Kingdom passport issued by the United Kingdom. Government of this country by their High Commissioner in Nairobi, Entebbe, Kampala, or wherever it might be.
Let us, therefore, be under no illusion. The persons whom it is sought to exclude and to whom this debate is directed are persons who are full British subjects with, at present, a British passport which is no different in any material particular from the passport which any right hon. or hon. Member holds. It is necessary to remember that important point.
I do not know what the right hon. Member for Streatham thought he was giving. In fact, he was giving them a full passport. There was no question of a passport which could be withdrawn, no question of some sort of identification card; he was giving a full passport which carried with it all the rights and all the obligations of a British subject. For that reason, there were many persons who deliberately, at the end of the two-year period, did not opt for Kenya citizenship because they could fall back on the fact that they were British and wished so to remain.
One may say that, if they were making their livelihood in Kenya and their roots were there, they should have taken out citizenship. That is an arguable point, and I have much sympathy with it. But the fact remains that we gave to these people a guaranteed right to be British subjects. Rightly or wrongly—and for many of them in the event wrongly—they opted to accept the word of honour of this country. Many of those people are now those who may be denied the right of entry.
Whether he intended it or not, the right hon. Member for Streatham gave 1434 full citizenship to them. In fairness to him I should say that what he thought was, "Well, there is going to be a difficult political situation in Kenya. We do not know what the position of the Europeans will be and we must give them a bolt-hole. We cannot say that it is only for people with white faces. We shall have to include the Asians as well, but they are unlikely to take advantage of it and therefore we are quite safe." For the right hon. Gentleman now to try to make political capital from his own Ministerial failures I find breathtaking.
What happens if certain British subjects in Kenya—and because they are fellow British subjects they might well be claimed by certain hon. Gentlemen to be what I believe is known as kith and kin—are expelled? Suppose they are told that their work permits will not be renewed and they are expelled? No matter what the colour of their skin, they are British subjects. What rights have they as British subjects and what obligation have we? Are they stateless?
§ Sir John Foster (Northwich)
What the right hon. Gentleman means is United Kingdom citizens. Everybody in the Commonwealth is a British subject—Canadians, Australians and so on.
§ Mr. Thorpe
I am grateful for the hon. and learned Gentleman's intervention and I take his point, because "subjects" implies a loyalty to the Crown and not necessarily citizenship—[Interruption.]—even if they live in a republic. I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) as well.
What happens if a United Kingdom citizen is expelled from Kenya? What are his rights? We are claiming the right to exclude him unless he comes within the 1,500 quota. Let the Government get this one point quite clear. They will not be able to put in British High Commission personnel in Nairobi to prevent Asians from leaving Kenya unless the British Government say that they are prepared to receive them at the other end. That would be a gross interference with the sovereignty of a free and independent Commonwealth country.
If these United Kingdom citizens leave Kenya, either because they are expelled 1435 or their work permits are not renewed and they cannot make a living, suppose they go to Cairo or Paris. When they are there asked, "Why are you here?" they will reply, "We are in transit to the United Kingdom. We are United Kingdom citizens. Here is our passport". It was issued to them as a result of the legislation which the right hon. Member for Streatham introduced in 1963. Is it suggested that we shall have the loyal co-operation of the immigration officials in Cairo or Paris, that all over the world great staffs will be set up by governments to see that nobody comes in transit towards Britain who, although he has a United Kingdom passport is not to be allowed to come? Of course not.
So what happens? These people will arrive at London airport and be told, "We are very sorry, but although you are United Kingdom citizens you will not be allowed to land, either because you do not have the right grandparents or have not got in on a quota". Where will they be sent to? Will they be sent to France or the U.A.R.? Is it suggested that they will be sent back to Kenya where they will be welcomed with open arms, or are they stateless? If they are stateless, that will present all sorts of problems of international law. But if they are United Kingdom citizens holding a devalued British passport where will they be put? Shall we have refugee camps around the airports? I can well understand that the Minister was not prepared to deal with that point yesterday when challenged.
§ Mr. Ben Whitaker (Hampstead)
Would not the right hon. Gentleman advise these people to go straight to Ireland, so that they can enter this country without any let or hindrance through Liverpool and all the other ports?
§ Mr. Thorpe
I was not anxious to give publicity to that. When the Commonwealth Immigrants Act was introduced in 1962 I asked the then Home Secretary what was the position of people who came from Ireland who were subsequently deported. He said that they would be deported back to Ireland, and I pointed out that there was nothing to stop them coming straight back. He said that the Government would look into that.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Donald Chapman (Birmingham, Northfield)
The right hon. Gentleman will recall that the Government covered their tracks very well on that. They made an agreement with the Eire Government not to let them into Southern Ireland.
§ Mr. Thorpe
It is true that there was an agreement, and no doubt the Government will try to make one with the Government of the Republic on this matter, but at present any British citizen with a United Kingdom passport can go into Eire and come straight into this country.
If the legal rights of these people are to be diminished in the sense that they are not allowed into this country, what are their legal obligations? The right hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Sir Dingle Foot) cited the Joyce case. William Joyce sought to destroy his passport and thereby terminate his allegiance to the Crown. The Courts took the view that that was insufficient and that his allegiance to the Crown still persisted. On that extremely tenuous and, in my view, insupportable basis he was convicted.
What obligations shall we expect from these persons? What protection will they be afforded in other countries where there may be a British ambassador or consul or a United Kingdom High Commission? In short, what is the advantage to them of remaining holders of British passports? What benefits will accrue to them? Or are they in effect not United Kingdom citizens but stateless, with meaningless passports in their hands? Those questions show why I think that the Bill is such an ill-thought out measure.
It is not in order on the Amendment to put forward alternatives, but there are some. If we are dealing with United Kingdom citizens holding United Kingdom passports and living in East Africa, we would wish to give them priority over Asian persons who hold Indian or Pakistani passports coming in under the Commonwealth Immigrants Act. But it would not be in order to suggest that now.
I hope that the Solicitor-General will tell us precisely where these people stand. Are they stateless? If not, what rights and obligations have they? What do the 1437 Government expect will happen when some of them come here, as inevitably they will, outside the quota of 1,500? 1 accept that if the Amendment were carried to its logical conclusion it would mean that upwards of 600 million people could claim the right of entry. Therefore, my colleagues and I may not press it to a Division. Perhaps the Amendment could be more happily phrased—and the Government might think about this before Third Reading—to cover persons who are United Kingdom citizens and have no other citizenship. That is what these people are, and that is why they are in a particular category. I hope that the Solicitor-General will tell us something about them, for we are talking of people who, irrespective of race, owe allegiance to the same Crown as us, and hold passports issued on behalf of the same Government. We must decide whether to treat them as first- or second-class citizens or to make them international outcasts.
§ Mr. Chapman
We are all grateful to the Leader of the Liberal Party for raising this issue. As he conceded, this is a wrecking Amendment. Nevertheless, I have enormous sympathy for it because here we are debating the number of admissions. The broad point is that a number of us who voted for Second Reading will not vote against Amendments like this, and certainly will not support Clause 1, unless we get from the Government a more liberal attitude to the number of entrants. That is the issue.
I take my stand with the leading article published in The Guardian today, which summarised the view of many hon. Members. I will quote one paragraph because this kind of view has not gone on record among the rather extreme positions taken yesterday by right hon. and hon. Members who were either totally for or totally against the Bill. This is an in-between position where I take my stand and which affects my attitude to Clause 1. The leading article said:The Government must raise the quota of vouchers. It must do so at least to a level that will avert any risk of creating stateless persons.This is the very point made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman.Given our past commitments, it would be intolerable to turn people away with British passports. If the present quota of 1,500 vouchers runs out, then it must be extended. 1438 Even if it runs out by the end of April, then another 1,500 vouchers must be granted in May or June.I do not agree absolutely with that. There must be flexibility.The Government is fully entitled "—this is why I voted for Second Reading—to control the overall rate of inflow and it may have to curtail the quota of people coming from other parts of the Commonwealth. It cannot, however, go back on a commitment involving citizenship.That is a perfectly fair middle position to take in this debate. I voted for control of inflow. I am not prepared to stand for a rate of inflow which will create Stateless persons at our doors and result in a lot of people undergoing undue hardship in Kenya. I therefore ask my hon. Friend to be frank in his reply. Is the number of 1,500 fixed by the Government negotiable or not? If it is not, if the Government are absolutely, determined to stick to that figure, I shall vote for Amendments that will broaden the scope of exemptions. That is the only way of fighting the Government on this issue.
§ Sir J. Foster
Does the hon. Gentleman realise that there are 800,000 Tamils in Ceylon who are entitled to passports of the United Kingdom and Colonies, many of the Indians in South Africa, and that, if the Aborigines are not Australian citizens, they are also entitled to United Kingdom citizenship?
§ Mr. Chapman
We debated this yesterday and I accept the principle that the Government have the right to control the rate of flow. That is what The Guardian says. But unless the Government are flexible about the figure of 1,500, so that the situation envisaged by the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) does not arise, all we can do to show our disapproval of the Government's inflexibility is to vote for Amendments for further exemptions from control.
I beg my hon. Friend to realise that this is the crux of the matter. I go a stage further, to a point hinted at in The Guardian. If there is some great difficulty about the total, I would be prepared to say—and I do so advisedly—that the numbers at present coming from India and Pakistan should be cut in favour of the Asians in Kenya. In other words, we have a greater commitment to these people in Kenya than we 1439 have to ordinary citizens of India and Pakistan. I am not prepared to vote for a Clause which, when carried out, would involve an absolutely inflexible ceiling of 1,500.
§ Mr. Chapman
I shall not press it, Sir Eric. I am grateful for your tolerance in allowing me to go so far. But this Amendment is an opportunity to press the Government to say whether the figure of 1,500 is a definite commitment and whether they are prepared to allow flexibility in order to avoid creating the disgraceful conditions to which the right hon. Member for Devon, North referred. I hope that we shall have a sympathetic reply. If not, I shall withhold my support on this matter.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Ennals)
It might be for the convenience of the Committee if I intervene briefly now to deal with two or three of the points which have been raised. There will no doubt be other points which may be dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary or by my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General.
First, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) raised a point concerning the effect of the 1963 Constitution. There is no doubt that those who were citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies and who were, up to Kenyan independence, subject to control by the 1962 Act, were, consequent upon independence, because their connection then was with the United Kingdom, entitled, as a result of the independence agreement, to apply to Her Majesty's Government representative for a United Kingdom passport and with that passport were entitled to enter this country.
I sought to make this point clear last night in exchanges with the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys). I made it clear then that there could be no doubt of their entitlement. There could certainly be doubt as to whether they would apply, whether they, as citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies, would seek to opt for Kenyan citizenship, and 1440 there was also, of course, great doubt as to whether circumstances would arise in which they would seek to come here. All these things were in doubt. What was not in doubt was the right granted to them at the time of Kenyan independence.
As I said last night, there could be no question of a loophole and, if there was any misunderstanding, it was those who were involved who did not understand. It is clear, therefore, that this Clause, which has naturally aroused great controversy, does take away a right that was allowed. If that were not so, there would not be the great controversy and depth of feeling which exist.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Devon, North and my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) both raised the important question of the figure of 1,500. Yesterday my right hon. Friend indicated that the responsibility for allocation would fall on the High Commission in Nairobi or the High Commissions elsewhere if there were to be a demand from others who would be covered by this control. He made it clear that the method of allocation would not be as it is for existing employment vouchers under the present scheme as it has now been slightly re-organised by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour. He indicated that, in allocating these vouchers, firstly there would be a consciousness of the situation of the person concerned, a consciousness of the extent of hardship, of the legal situation in which that person was involved, and it would not therefore be a question simply of whether he wanted to come, whether he was worried about business. The actual circumstances of the case and the situation in which he was put by actions that might be taken by the Kenya Government would be taken into consideration. It is that sort of voucher, to deal with the situation which now exists in East Africa.
My right hon. Friend also said that the figure of 1,500 vouchers that have been announced was a figure that must be flexible, and the extent of that flexibility must depend on the nature of the situation. I would be unreasonable to ask my right hon. Friend to announce some new figure. Were he to announce some new figure this would be because we assumed a situation which does not exist at this moment.
§ The Chairman
Order. I have not interrupted the Minister so far, but I must point out, in the interests of controlling this debate, that this question of the administration of the voucher system really cannot be debated any further on this Amendment.
§ Mr. Chapman
On a point of order. This is a very difficult matter because the issue for so many of us is this: do we increase the number of exemptions, or do we accept from the Government that they will be flexible in the numbers that they will allow in under the quota system? This is very relevant to our discussion.
§ The Chairman
The hon. Member has made his point and he has heard a substantial reply. If we pursue this in any detail on this Amendment we shall find ourselves in a very irregular position later on.
§ The Chairman
I do not want to prejudge that question. I am suggesting to the Committee that we should confine ourselves to what is strictly relevant to this Amendment.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
On a point of order. Is the Amendment not so wide that this is a debate on Clause stand part, and would it not be for the convenience of the Committee if we had that debate now?
§ The Chairman
One can never say that the debate on any particular Amendment is the same as a debate on Clause stand part. This Amendment admits a fairly wide debate. That is recognised, but if we pursue in any further detail the questions as to how the voucher system is to be administered, we shall find ourselves in considerable difficulty later on. Therefore I would urge both the Minister and other hon. Members not to pursue this particular point any further on this Amendment.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
Further to that point of order. Is it not the case that at some stage it is necessary that the figure for the extension of the vouchers should be discussed? It would be quite improper that there 1442 should not be a full debate on that. Therefore, although I understand the difficulties about anticipating decisions later, if we cannot pursue the question of the figure further under this fairly wide Amendment, will we be able to do it on the debate on Clause stand part? Otherwise we might be excluded from discussing this extremely important aspect of the matter altogether.
§ The Chairman
I do not want to prejudge anything. I am not at all sure that it will arise on the debate on Clause stand part. The matter has been ventilated. I understand the Minister to have given a partial answer to it at any rate. On this Amendment we had better pursue the precise terms of this Amendment.
§ Mr. Thorpe
May I seek your guidance on this point? The specific Amendment which has been moved is susceptible of quantification. The suggestion is that any one of the 900 million persons living in the Commonwealth, who can claim Commonwealth parentage, would thereby have the right to come into this country. As I see it, what the Minister will tell us is that the figure of 1,500 applicants, plus dependants, is in his view a preferable figure. In my respectful submission, it would surely be in order for him to justify his figure as against mine.
§ Mr. Paget
Further to this point of order. If I may respectfully say so, I would not argue for a moment that it was admissible on this Amendment, but when we come to the debate on Clause stand part I would venture to say (a) that it is extremely important; and (b) that it must be in order on the debate on Clause stand part to be able to say: "I accept this Clause because it covers the right number of people" or: "I reject it because it covers too many, or because it covers too few". Surely those arguments must be in order when we come to the debate on Clause stand part?
§ Mr. James Johnson (Kingston upon Hull, West)
If you are to rule out of order a discussion on the flexibility in numbers on the debate on Clause 1 stand part, what about the debate on Clause 2 stand part? This matter of admission or re-admission to the United Kingdom or elsewhere is literally a matter of life or 1443 death in the near future for thousands of Kenya-Asian citizens. Can we have a debate on Clause 2 stand part?
§ The Chairman
I will do my best to try to answer those points of order. My chief concern is to help the Committee in order to arrange our debates in the most convenient form to all concerned. Obviously, I cannot say what will be relevant on the debate on Clause 2 stand part. I am impressed with what the right hon. Member who moved the Amendment said, and in view of his representations and in view of what appears to be the general desire of the Committee, it might help a great many hon. Members if within certain limits, the Minister were to give an answer to the points that have been raised by the right hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Hirst (Shipley)
I accept the wisdom of your observation, but there is one aspect which is rather worrying and over which I see great difficulty, because this Amendment, peculiar as it may seem, is in some respect wider than the debate on Clause stand part. This Bill is amending the former Act and this Amendment is wider than the original Act. This places us in some difficulty, and the Chair in very great difficulty. I accept your suggestion that the Minister should clarify this point but I do feel that either the wider debate must take place, with your permission, on this very wide Amendment, which is wider than the Act itself which we are amending, or on the debate on Clause stand part. It is a question of your decision naturally, but it must be a wide debate on one or the other.
§ Mr. Ennals
Further to that point of order. I agree with the points that have been made, that without a consideration of the question of flexibility hon. Gentlemen are in a difficult position because this is a matter of extreme importance. I wonder whether I could submit that this might be properly taken on the debate on Clause stand part? I want to take this further.
I know that my right hon. Friend, who has been called out of the Chamber in order to meet the diplomatic representative of a Commonwealth country—and 1444 who will be returning to the Chamber shortly—has a statement which he intends to make which is very relevant to the subject. It would not be appropriate for me to deal in detail with the points that he will raise. If you would accept that it can be dealt with on the debate on Clause stand part, I could then con-time with the explanation that I was seeking to give.
§ Mr. Thorpe
On a point of order. Clearly the Committee wishes to be reasonable to Ministers. This goes without saying, but we are debating a very important Measure, upon which there is passionate feeling on both sides of the Committee. I would have thought that when a Committee of the House of Commons has to wait to discuss a matter until a particular Minister finds it convenient to be here, then it is an outrageous way to treat that Committee. May I suggest that if the Minister cannot answer this point we should have another Minister who can?
§ The Chairman
I do not think that this exchange of views has been unfruitful. I suggest that we now proceed and that the Minister should answer the points that have been raised, as far as he can.
§ Mr. Ennals
Before the points of order were raised, I was seeking to deal with points put from both sides of the Committee about the number of vouchers. I said that the Government do not intend to announce a new figure, but that they had made it clear through the statement of my right hon. Friend yesterday and the statement which I made a few minutes ago that they must be flexible, and that flexibility must apply not only to the means by which the allocation is made, namely, the selection of people whose need is greatest according to the situation in which they are placed, but to the numbers, and flexibility can be based only on the circumstances of the time.
For instance, if a United Kingdom citizen in East Africa holding a United Kingdom passport were to be expelled—and we hope that that would not be the case—from the country in which he now finds himself, this would create an overwhelming case for him to be admitted to the United Kingdom, whether a certain number of vouchers had been used or whether 1445 the total number of vouchers had not been used.
§ Mr. James Johnson
Is not my hon. Friend aware that the Kenya Government have passed legislation whereby after 1st March citizens who have not a job are to be asked to leave by 30th June? They may be taken to the courts and fined X thousand shillings. If they are not able to leave, what will happen to them? Will they be put in detention camps in Kenya, and will we bail them out? We should be told what "flexibility" means.
§ Mr. Ennals
I have sought to deal with precisely that point. The Government are fully aware of notices which were issued yesterday. I do not know how many such notices were issued. It was only 24 hours ago that they were issued. I know that a certain date was set upon that notice and that there was also a clause which implied that a person could apply for an extension. I do not want to go into the details. [Interruption.] If hon. Members put questions to me, they must listen to my answers.
It is precisely these situations and the fact that certain actions may be taken which make it essential that the Government should make clear that the number of 1,500 cannot be a ceiling and that there must be flexibility according to the situation of individuals. It is impossible to go further than that in giving the reasons why my right hon. Friend indicated the flexibility of the Government.
§ Mr. David Steel
The Minister is making a very important point. I have in my hand a refusal of application for an entry permit issued to an employer in Nairobi dated 17th February which is couched in these terms:I regret that your application for an entry permit under Class A for your above-named employee has not been approved. You should therefore dispense with his services before 8th March. Mr."—X—I do not want to mention the name—should therefore make arrangements to leave Kenya together with his dependants before 30th June, 1968.Is the Minister saying that someone with this certificate in his hand will be allowed into this country as of right?
§ Mr. Ennals
What I am saying is that the recipient of that letter—and I have seen the text of the letter—would, after 1446 this Bill receives the Royal Assent, proceed immediately to the office of the High Commissioner and put forward his claim to be granted a voucher with which there will be an entry certificate which will admit him to this country. The hon. Gentleman does not know, and I do not know, how many people in a given period will receive such a letter. All that I can say is that the Government must watch the position in the light of the situation which exists in Kenya and of the individuals concerned whose position may be challenged, but that they cannot give a new figure or a new ceiling. The Committee has the assurance which I have given that there will be flexibility in dealing with these problems. It will, I think, agree that that is as far as my right hon. Friend can be expected to go.
§ Mr. Whitaker
I am grateful to my hon. Friend, with whom a lot of us have a great deal of sympathy, for giving way. Would he give an assurance that if, which we all hope will not happen, the Kenya Government decided to expel all the Asian citizens with United Kingdom citizenship the British Government's tolerance would extend to admitting them all?
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Ennals
My hon. Friend will not expect me to answer hypothetical questions. I would expect him to put them, but he would not expect me to answer them. I have already made it clear that decisions concerning the flexibility of the issue of vouchers must be taken in the light of the situation affecting United Kingdom citizens in Kenya.
§ Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)
On a point of order. The debate has reached a stage in which the argument centres on Amendment No. 14, page 2, line 10, at end add:(2) (a) Notice, in the foregoing subsection shall apply to any citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies or to a dependant of any citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies who has in the country of his residence—1447
- (i) been expelled, or
- (ii) been denied the right to continue in the employment or type of employment in which he has been wont to work, or
- (iii) been prevented from carrying on the business he has been wont to conduct, or
- (iv) has in any other way been denied the right to earn his living and support his dependants;(b) any citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies shall be entitled to obtain from the Consul in the country of his residence a certificate stating that one of the conditions set out in the preceding subsection applies to him and such certificate shall be accepted by all immigration officers.and Amendment No. 25—Clause 2, page 3, line 6, at end insert:(c) (i) holds a United Kingdom passport and is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, or who holds such a passport issued in the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, and(ii) has been deprived of his right to work or his citizenship by the country in which he was ordinarily resident immediately prior to his entry into the United Kingdom or at the time when he seeks entry into the United Kingdom.Would it be possible to extend the selection of Amendments so that those two Amendments about expellees and people in a similar position could be considered by the Minister in answering the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe)?
§ The Chairman
I was conscious of the fact that the debate is covering a great deal of the ground which would be covered by Amendments Nos. 14, 15—page 1, line 5. leave out Clause 1—and Amendment No. 24—Clause 2, page 3, line 5, at end insert:(c) any person who being a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies has no right of re-entry to his country of domicile.I am in the Committee's hands. If that is the Committee's desire, so be it. But if objection is taken, I cannot do it—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Objection is taken.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon
Would my hon. Friend agree that an assurance given in explicit terms that no Asian holder of a United Kingdom passport who has been expelled from Kenya will be deprived of admittance to this country would allay the fears and anxieties of the Asians in Kenya to such an extent that the opposition to this Bill would virtually disappear?
§ Mr. Ennals
I can no more answer my hon. Friend's hypothetical question than I could answer the hypothetical question of my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Whitaker). I have stated the position of the Government fairly and clearly.
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. Ennals
I cannot give way. There will be time for a number of points to be raised on other Amendments and on the Question, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.
§ Sir D. Glover
On a point of order. Do not hon. Members on both sides of the Committee realise that this is a Committee stage? If they want to make speeches later, they will have ample opportunity to do so.
§ Mr. Ennals
I am grateful for that intervention.
I come to a question put to me last night by the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) and which has been repeated by the right hon. Member for Devon, North, although he did not quote the words. I had better read the question which the hon. Member put yesterday:What are the Government to do to an Asian citizen in Kenya who, with a British passport, leaves Kenya—as he is perfectly entitled to do—goes to Paris and, after staying in Paris for a short time, comes on an Air France plane to London Airport?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1968; Vol. 759, c. 1294.]A number of other hon. Members had put questions about what would happen when a certain person, controlled, as he will be, by the Bill when it becomes an Act, arrives at London Airport or at another port.
The first point I must make is that the circumstances in which those who will now come in under this control and may obtain admission to this country will, of course, be clearly stated in the light of the passage of this Bill. I believe that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has some words to say on this when we reach the Question, That the Clause stand part of the Bill. This will be known, therefore, to those who now seek to come to this country.
The effect of this Bill will also be known in other countries which will, therefore, have to decide for themselves whether they will admit or will not admit persons who will not have entry certificates entitling them to come to this country. I cannot say what will be the actions of other Governments. I can only say that Her Majesty's Government will inform other Governments of the situation.
1449 Now we come to the question of the persons who may arrive at ports in this country. They will understand the implications of the passing of this Bill. It will give to the immigration officer the right to refuse those who do not hold entry certificates, and this will be made quite clear in the statement that will be made—vouchers or entry certificates covering dependants, or those coming as students or business men or others who come in that category.
The only thing I would add is that the immigration officer, of course, and Minsters and the Home Office have the right to use their discretion in certain circumstances. This is a discretion which is very frequently used with people coming to this country. There are cases when the ascertainability of the facts is not known, when there is some uncertainty, and the immigration officer may initially refuse. The question may be referred to Ministers. Many matters are referred to Ministers. I have no doubt that would be the case if there were difficult problems at the ports.
But I must make it clear that the passing of this Bill, if it receives the Royal Assent, will of course mean that there will be restriction on the rights of those United Kingdom passport holders who are to be controlled by this Bill to come freely to this country as they have done up to now. That is the purpose of the Bill. I have indicated the flexibility which will exist, because of the vouchers, and also that, in situations which inevitably there may be, in particular in situations of urgency, the immigration officer, the Home Office or Ministers have of course the right of using their discretion.
§ Mr. Grimond
The Committee is now put in a shameful position, largely owing to the shameful nature of the Bill. Let us look at the situation. This is a racial Bill, and it is sheer hypocrisy on the part of Ministers to say it is not. The trouble arises because these people are not white, and this Clause is designed to allow in a great many white people and to keep out people who are not white. That is the point we are discussing, and when this Committee discusses racial Bills it ought to be very certain that they are esssential and ought to look at them extremely carefully.
§ Mr. Ennals
Is the right hon. Gentleman really suggesting that as a result of this Bill any who wish entry and whose entry is not controlled ought to be turned away if the colour of their skin is not white? Because I must point out to the right hon. Gentleman what, if he was in the House yesterday, he would have known, that there are many people who will be entitled under this Bill to admission and who are not white faced. Therefore it is quite incorrect to say that this is a racial Bill.
§ Mr. Grimond
No. This is humbug. Anybody who believes that this Bill has been brought in for any other reason than to check coloured people coming to this country is really beneath contempt, if I may say so. What would the Minister himself say if it had been brought in by the Tory Party? We should never hear the end of it.
It is designed to deprive United Kingdom citizens holding United Kingdom passports of an essential right of citizenship. Citizenship and the rights of citizens are matters about which this Committee should be deeply concerned. Of course, the Bill is a clear breach of an undertaking by the British Government. When I think of the speeches I have heard praising the Empire and Commonwealth and then I have heard some of the leading Imperialists hastening to deny the right to visit the mother of the Commonwealth of the very people who relied on the word of our Government, I feel ashamed.
I think we must examine this with very great care. What are we told by Ministers? That the figure is flexible. Who is to decide whether it can be raised or not? The House of Commons is not to be consulted. This is to be an administrative decision.
§ Sir D. Glover
On a point of order, Sir Eric. Did you not call the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. J. Grimond) to intervene in the Under-Secretary's speech?
§ Mr. Grimond
Thank you, Sir Eric.
This is a decision which vitally affects the liberties, the freedom, the right to earn their living, of people who hold our passports, and it is to be taken on 1451 administrative grounds. No one, certainly in the Committee—for all I know, nobody at all—knows what the grounds will be. There will be no right of appeal. Let us be clear about that. There will be a right of appeal on the facts, but not on the decision. We should be quite clear about that.
We have been given no information by the Minister as to the type of considerations which will be taken into account. Is it, for instance, to be decided on racial feeling in certain towns and cities in this country? Or is it to be the siutation in Africa? What are to be the considerations upon which this administrative decision will be taken?
For this Committee to accept that it has no right to inquire into these matters is, to my mind, an abrogation of an absolute duty of the House of Commons.
We are told that the immigration officers of course, use wide discretion. They certainly do, and some of us would rather see that discretion narrowed than extended. However, taking that decision will put an almost intolerable burden on the people who will have to make up their minds on these cases. As was pointed out, by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. James Johnson), I think it was, we know that there are certain people who will be required to leave Kenya. A great many have so far been encouraged by the Government to try to come here, and this country has been open to them, but we do not know whether they are in fact going to be allowed to come here or not, and this is the point at issue. We have had no answer whatever to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) as to whether in a specific case this man will be allowed to come here or not. I submit that there may be cases in which one ought to leave the Government very great discretion, but cases like this, involving the liberties and right to earn their living and the whole future of people who have relied upon the word of British Governments, and who have regarded themselves as entitled to the full protection of the House of Commons, and have been proud of the Commonwealth, are different. We must have a lot more information than we have so far had. I 1452 am bound to say also that we know from past experience, alas, that with Home Office Ministers there is very great need for very close scrutiny about the discretion which is exercised.
Therefore, I find the answer of the Minister so far wholly unsatisfactory. I hope that if it is necessary—I concede that it may well be necessary in certain circumstances—to control immigration, first of all he will not be moved by arguments that there may be hundreds of thousands of people in the South Seas who could suddenly appear—we all know that that is unlikely—and that secondly he will pay attention to the wish of this Committee that the people who have United Kingdom passports should have priority. After all, we allow the Irish in to this country without any difficulty whatever. This makes complete nonsense of the claim that this Bill is not about racialism. I would add my voice to the voices of those who have argued that if it is necessary to control immigration then these people should have priority, and, if necessary, cuts should be made in the quotas for other people.
May I add one last word? France took a million people into her country. It is a pretty poor reflection on the state of this country when apparently the Government are terrified by the prospect of a few thousand of their own fellow citizens coming in. These are not people who are uneducated, useless mouths to be fed. Many of them are highly qualified. In my view, a certain injection of them might do a great deal of good to our public services and businesses.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Foot
I intervene briefly to support what has been said by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). The view that he has expressed underlines the strength of one of my main criticisms about the nature of the Bill and, in particular, the matters referred to in the Clause and the Amendment.
I do not believe that the House of Commons can pass a satisfactory Measure on a matter of such complication as this in the time which the Government have suggested. I remember the occasion when we discussed exactly the same matters as those arising under the Clause about the numbers who were 1453 to be allowed into the country, and I record how, when we were in opposition, we insisted that more time must be provided for debate so that the Government could consider the representations put to them and, having considered them, should be able to come back, according to the normal process.
During the passage of the 1962 Measure, I remember how strongly we protested when a Guillotine was introduced to prevent us from having that full discussion. Even so, when that Measure went through, we had far greater opportunities for debate than we are being allowed today, although, under this Clause, we go much further than we did in the 1962 Act. We are specifying deliberately that certain people who have United Kingdom passports shall be deprived of their rights. That goes even further than the highly offensive Measure of 1962. All my hon. Friends thought that the 1962 Measure was extremely offensive, and all of them insisted that we must have ample time to discuss it—days, if necessary. If the Government seek to force through this Measure tonight, not merely will it be a shameful one in its general principle, but it will be shoddy, indiscriminate and careless. It will reflect injustices which the House cannot contemplate in advance. That is something which we should not do.
Inevitably, discussion on the first Amendment has led to a great deal of confusion, which is not the fault of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State. He has not contributed to the difficulties. It is the Bill which causes them. Any hon. Member who has heard the confusion arising under this Clause and the inability of the Government to elucidate the difficulties will agree that, if we proceed to try and deal with the matter in the way that the Government propose, deliberately and consciously we shall inflict heavy injustice on people who have relied upon our word.
Let me come to the specific point in my hon. Friend's reply to the debate—
§ Sir David Renton (Huntingdonshire)
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that the confusion which has arisen in the debate has been due mainly to the fact that the Amendment moved by the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) is acknowledged to be a wrecking 1454 one which would create a nonsense not only of the Bill but of the principal Act as well?
§ Mr. Foot
The Amendment has been accepted by the Chair as a proper matter for debate, and that is what we are debating. But, as has been indicated, it is true that because the Amendment is so wide it enables us to have a very wide discussion. That was part of the original confusion, because many hon. Members wondered whether, if we had a wide debate on the Amendment, we should be precluded from discussing it on the Question, That the Clause stand part of the Bill. I understand from the decision which has been made that we shall still have an opportunity for a wide debate on the Question, That the Clause stand part of the Bill, and, as a result, I do not propose to traverse the whole argument now. However, it is no good the right hon. and learned Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) trying to limit the debate. It is completely within the rules of order.
§ Mr. Harold Gurden (Birmingham, Selly Oak)
May I remind the hon. Gentleman that the occupant of the Chair clearly stated that he would not prejudge his decision about the debate on the Question, That the Clause stand part of the Bill?
§ Mr. Foot
We do not want the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Gurden) ruling on what is to be debated in the Committee.
Remembering the record of all my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench in matters concerning Commonwealth immigration, I hope that they will provide ample opportunity for debate. If we try to push through this Measure speedily, we shall inflict great injustices on people who have relied upon us.
In his reply, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State opened the doors wider, and then closed them. He was asked what would be the position of those who are stateless in Kenya now. All the time, larger numbers are being declared illegal immigrants or stateless persons or are having sent to them the letter to which reference has been made. Larger numbers are joining the band of those who do not know whether they will he admitted to this country. Then there are the 1455 people who are able to make the journey. My hon. Friend's reply to those queries was to say that he could not answer them specifically, but that he hoped to satisfy my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) if he said that the Government will be flexible about the total and that the figure may be raised.
I do not think that that is at all satisfactory. Of course, I want the figure to be raised, but I think that the House of Commons must decide that.
§ Mr. Chapman
It is reasonably satisfactory for the Minister to say that he will be flexible. If he were to say that he will open the door to everyone who wants to come, he would be urging the Kenya Government to expel everyone.
§ Mr. Foot
I agree that it is better for him to be flexible than inflexible, but it is not altogether satisfactory. Some of the difficulties are inherent in the Bill, and that problem is one of them. The more that the Government say that they will be generous, the more they will encourage people to be sent from Kenya. But the difficulty arises earlier than that. My hon. Friend said that if a person has been expelled from Kenya he could not envisage a situation where he would not be allowed into this country. That was an incitement, if ever there was one, and that is what will happen in a great many cases.
The Government have got themselves into hopeless confusion, and they cannot solve the problem merely by saying that they will be flexible about the figure, because that does not face up to the question raised by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. It is no more than a piece of soft soap, and I am sure that it will satisfy few of my hon. Friends.
We are confronted by a dilemma which is inherent in the Bill itself.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. James Callaghan)
It is inherent in the situation, not in the Bill. Faced with a situation which is changing and transient and whose development is uncertain, the question is whether we should try to bring it under control, or leave it uncontrolled.
§ Mr. Foot
No one can deny that there are difficulties in the situation. However, the difficulties with which we are confronted are inherent in the Bill. The Bill is doing something which I never expected to see a British Parliament do. It is depriving United Kingdom citizens of some of their rights. That is the situation with which we are dealing.
In his reply, my hon. Friend said that it can be dealt with by being flexible about the figure. Apparently that is the answer to the problem raised by the Amendment. That is not sufficient.
There is only one way in which the Government can mitigate this part of the Bill, and I hope that they will do it. This follows the line suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Northfield and the line of argument in The Guardian this morning. It does not go as far as some would like, but it is a move in the right direction. We should try to get from the Government, either in reply to this Clause or in the debate on Clause stand part—certainly at some time before the evening is through—an undertaking that the figure for people allowed to come in from Kenya is to be greatly enlarged. We do not want the Government merely to say that it will be a flexible figure and that somebody at the port will discriminate between one person and another in a more flexible manner. We must have the total figure raised.
If the Government had said at the beginning of the creation of the situation, as the Home Secretary called it, "Of course, the British Government will stand by their word", the situation would have been much less difficult to deal with. It is because they are not standing by their word that the situation originally created by the right hon. Gentleman has been so greatly and dangerously inflamed. If the Government tonight were to say that the figure will be greatly raised—if it were put up to 8,000 or 10,000 from Kenya over a certain period—they would at least ease the situation and we could have further discussions about it. The Government would make a big advance in the Bill if they would do that.
I am replying to the speech of the Minister who was suggesting that it was sufficient, in reply to this Amendment, merely to say that the Government would be flexible. That is insufficient, because 1457 in addition to what was said by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland, it would add still further to the powers of discretion given to administrative officers in dealing with the matter, and this is quite improper. We are responsible. If injustices are to be inflicted on people with United Kingdom passports we must take direct responsibility. We must not try to shuffle it on to someone else.
§ Mr. Michael Jopling (Westmorland)
Having heard the Minister's reply, the one thing that I feel we are in great difficulty about is that we do not know what will happen if the Bill should get the Royal Assent. The Minister told us that he could not envisage a situation arising in which an expelled citizen from Kenya would not be allowed to come into this country. This means that an Asian in Kenya only has to drive his car on the wrong side of a roundabout and, because he is not a Kenyan citizen, he would be expelled and we should have to take him here. By what he has said, the Minister appears to have created a clear loophole in the Bill which will be swooped on by a vast number of people in Kenya.
Another point which is entirely unsatisfactory concerns the reply to the question put by the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) and by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). In his answer the Minister said that this problem about stateless people would not arise, because most of them know about the Bill. Having heard some of the points which have already been made in Committee, there was not much of a disincentive for many of them to come.
We were then told about this extra-ordinary matter of discretion by immigration officers. If all these things throughout the provisions of the Bill do not add up to doubt and added incitement to people to come, I do not understand what does. By publishing this Bill the Government have created chaos and a terrible rush at Nairobi Airport. As a result of what has been said this afternoon, the rush on Friday and Saturday of this week will not be any less.
1458 5.45 p.m.
What is to happen to the stateless people who come? What is to happen if the immigration officers use their discretion? Refugee camps have been mentioned this afternoon. Are we to have a sort of Gaza Strip established on the top of the white cliffs of Dover? What will we do to stop them coming? Will we send our immigration officers into the aircraft to ascertain whether they are entitled to come in before we let them off, which puts the responsibility back on the airline that brought them?
The Government have created a situation which has led to greater uncertainty this afternoon than at the beginning of the Bill. I have the greatest possible doubts about the Bill. Unless I get clear undertakings about what is implicit in it and how it will work, I shall find it impossible to know what to do.
§ Mr. Winnick
The Amendment which we are now discussing has been described as a wrecking Amendment. Obviously it is, but it gives many of us, before we come to the Question, That the Clause stand part of the Bill, an opportunity to make one or two references to what we believe is the racial bias in the Bill as it stands.
It seems rather unfortunate that the Home Secretary and my hon. Friend from the Home Department do not seem to recognise that many people look upon Clause 1 as a racial preference given to people of European origin. It is all very well for the Home Secretary and my hon. Friend to deny this, but they will know that the National Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants, of which the Archbishop of Canterbury is the distinguished Chairman, is extremely disturbed by the nature of the Bill and by what can only be described as the racial bias in it. I hope that the members of the National Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants will not resign. They are doing a fine job. Even if the Bill is passed without any substantial Amendment, I shall deeply regret it if they give up their voluntary positions. I have done a great deal of work with the Secretary in another capacity connected with race relations. I hope that the members of this Committee will continue to do their job.
I find it impossible to accept the Clause as it stands. I cannot see how anyone 1459 could honestly state that this is not a clear case of racial discrimination. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) said that if the people involved generally who wanted to come were white there would be no trouble. Of course he was telling the truth. What I find so obnoxious about Clause 1 is the way in which it gives a preference to people of European origin. What is also disturbing—and I have done a little research into the position—is the way in which the Asians were treated before Kenya became independent. They were not treated quite as badly as the Africans, but for a number of years now they have had inferior status to the Africans and they have fought a campaign to get equal standing. I can understand the feeling of many Asians who not only object basically to the Bill, but also see it as an extension of a discrimination which they had to suffer prior to Kenya becoming independent. The Bill is really saying that in practice those Europeans who want to come to the United Kingdom can do so without difficulty, but not the Asians.
I hope that when we come to a later stage of the Clause it will be possible for the Home Secretary or my hon. Friend to make some concession about the racial preference in Clause 1. I still cannot understand why Amendment No. 2 was not allowed to be debated. I am sorry that it was not debated, because this is one of the main reasons why many voted against the Bill last night.
If one accepts the position, as many do, that some restrictions are necessary—and I am not altogether certain that they are—because of racial conditions in Britain and all the rest of it, and we bring in a Bill which, by the very nature of things, is bound to be described as unfortunate, and by some people perhaps even as deplorable, it is essential to make sure that in such a Bill no preference is given to one particular racial group.
As I said a few moments ago, it is amazing to hear my right hon. Friend deny that there is a racial flavour in the Clause. If it is necessary for a Bill such as this to be brought in, it should not only be fair, but be seen to be fair. If many Members, such as myself, and people outside, such as the Archbishop 1460 of Canterbury and his colleagues on the National Committee, believe that the Bill is a form of discrimination in favour of whites, it is understandable if many people not only in Kenya but in other parts of the Commonwealth come to the same conclusion.
The Home Secretary seems to be blind to this fact. He comes to the Dispatch Box and denies that there is a racial preference in Clause 1. His statement does not convince me, and it does not convince many of my right hon. and hon. Friends. It does not convince the National Committee, and those deeply concerned about race relations. Even now I hope that it will be possible for my right hon. Friend to understand our feelings about this racial preference, and to make some concession to our viewpoint.
§ Sir Arthur Vere Harvey (Macclesfield)
I shall be brief. Last night I voted for the Bill, but I did so with a heavy heart. I had grave doubts about whether I was doing the right thing. I appreciated the Home Secretary's predicament, but I was hopeful that some easement would be given during the discussion today.
The Bill has been rushed. I do not know how many thousand Asians will arrive at London Airport by the end of this week. Had the Government not lost their head, there would not been this rush. Why not provide for a figure of 5,000 spread over the year? Hon. Gentlemen opposite may disagree with me, but I am entitled to my view. I question whether anyone is really happy about this situation. No one can be. I was partially persuaded last night by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg). His words pulled me into the Lobby.
Reference has been made to Asians receiving notice to quit Kenya and going to the High Commissioner's office. What will happen at his office in Nairobi during the next few months? I forecast that it will be flooded with people. We were not told what the answer would be, and I think that the Government have to satisfy us on where they are going on this issue.
The whole future and livelihood of 100,000-plus people depend on what we decide here today. Goodness knows what may happen to them if we make the wrong decision. I would not want 1461 difficulties put in the way of expanding our economy, but we have given our word. I remember that during the war it was no problem to house 25,000 United States troops off the Queen Mary. They were put up somewhere in Britain. This is an emergency operation, and we must tackle it as such.
What would have happened if the Conservative Government had tried to rush this Measure through in 48 hours? What would hon. Gentlemen opposite have done? Having studied last night's Division lists, I was surprised to find that a number of Left-wing Members abstained, or voted for the Bill. I wonder why? I find it most disconcerting that some of them were not here to do their duty. They always say that they are concerned about these problems
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton) rose—
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
The hon. Gentleman may not like these things being said, but he and his hon. Friend have said enough things to us over the years, and I have listened to them.
§ Mr. Heffer rose—
§ Mr. Heffer rose—
§ The Temporary Chairman (Sir Myer Galpern)
Order. If the hon. Member who has the Floor does not give way, the hon. Member who is seeking to intervene must resume his seat.
§ Mr. Heffer rose—
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
The last time I took part in a debate I had a brush with the hon. Gentleman. He must contain himself. He is always dishing it out to others, but he cannot take it.
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
I do not care what the hon. Gentleman thinks. He is going to listen to what I have to say.
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
I have a great respect for the Home Secretary, and have had over the last 23 years. If he were to say that the figure will be raised to 5,000 a year, and reviewed after a time, this would go some way towards meeting my anxiety. I hope that he will give the matter further consideration, because the people about whom we are talking are fine citizens and they could make a contribution to our economy. I beg the right hon. Gentleman to give the matter further thought.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
When my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) was speaking, my right hon. Friend intervened and said that he had introduced the Bill because of the present situation. It is with a heavy heart that I say that on that ground he has made his case. I say to those who share my views that in the months and years ahead we, too, shall face a test, and I hope that we shall be worthy of it. Speaking as a trade unionist, and as a Member of the Labour Party, I hope that we shall ensure equality of treatment for those who have come to this country.
My right hon. Friend said that he wants the situation to be controlled. I ask him to consider some things very carefully. If the policy is to work, it is essential that there should be control not only at this end. I understand my right hon. Friend's fears that if the situation is not controlled it will overwhelm us. I am sure he realises that the situation must be controlled in Nairobi as well. This difficulty has arisen not only because the Bill has been introduced, but because of the situation in Kenya, about which very little has been said.
All those who know and love that beautiful country know that she is making big efforts to establish a viable economy, but at the moment thousands of Africans are unemployed there. They are therefore taking measures to secure jobs for their own people. I do not want to call this racial, but one result of the situation is that they are seeking to replace Indians with Africans. The right hon. Gentleman quoted young Tom Mboya on this.
These people are United Kingdom citizens, holding British passports. I still hope that most of them will stay in 1463 Kenya, because Kenya needs them. I hope that the Kenya Government will make it possible for them to stay, but if they make it impossible for these people to get jobs, and they become jobless, their plight will be terrible. There may well be thousands of Indians, with United Kingdom citizenship, without social services if they lose their jobs. As far as I know, there is very little in the way of social services and unemployment insurance for those who are out of work. This is one reason why I hope my right hon. Friend will be as flexible as possible, and not close his mind to a situation which might compel us, not necessarily to alter the Bill, but to bring pressure on him and the Government to increase the numbers that will be accepted.
I do not think that we could sit down in comfort without taking some action if, during the next few months, thousands of Indians, who are United Kingdom citizens like ourselves, became jobless and had no income of any kind.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I could not accept that situation. Last night's debate, in which I did not take part showed a very high level from both sides, but we heard little from the Home Secretary of any discussions with the Kenya Government or their President, who has shown great qualities of statesmanship in the past few years. Many of us have known Jomo Kenyatta over a long period. The Kenya Government can help us here and I believe that they would.
I therefore ask my right hon. Friend, first, is it too late to consider this matter now with the Kenya Government and ask them also to be flexible about their employment policy in Kenya's own interests? I said earlier that all of us remember that it is we who first brought Indians to Kenya. The young generation, who have been born and grown up there, like their fathers and forefathers, are making a wonderful contribution. Therefore, when discussing this Amendment, which may be a wrecking Amendment and which has turned into a discussion on the Clause, and remembering that my right hon. Friend's policy is that we cannot allow complete freedom of 1464 entry even for United Kingdom citizens, we must consider circumstances in which those in Kenya might be unable to come here and be prevented from working or taking advantage of social services in Kenya.
That is the situation which could blow this Bill and my right hon. Friend's policy to smithereens. We could not stand that situation. For these reasons, I hope that he will take note of this fact. I speak as one who, last night, like all hon. Members, approached this matter with a heavy heart. I was convinced that some control was necessary and I voted for the Bill, but it is essential that my right hon. Friend pays attention—I am sure that he will—and seeks a solution, I hope in agreement with the Kenya Government. It would be intolerable if perhaps hundreds or even thousands of our fellow citizens could not come here but could not earn their livelihood in Kenya.
§ Mr. Nigel Fisher (Surbiton)
The Amendment has been described as a wrecking Amendment, and some of us feel that, if this is so, it is justified because the Clause and the Bill should be wrecked. I recognise, as we all do, the problem facing the Government and the country. There is, of course, a limit to the number of immigrants we can absorb in Britain at any one time and in any one year, and there are social tensions as well as school and housing difficulties, which increase with the number of immigrants.
The Asians in East Africa therefore present a new and difficult problem for the Government, but I believe that they are trying to resolve it in the wrong way. These people hold United Kingdom passports, which give them the right to come here. The Bill takes away that right. Slightly to over-simplify—some of my hon. Friends might say, slightly to exaggerate—the Clause means that a United Kingdom passport is perfectly valid for white people but not for brown people. That is my first objection to the Bill. Although not, of course, in intention, in effect this is colour legislation, naked and unashamed.
My second objection to the Clause is that it breaches a British undertaking on which people relied. Many of us on this side criticise the Government and the Prime Minister in particular, for breaking 1465 their word to the electorate, to the Commonwealth and to our allies. What those who support the Bill are now urging him and the Government to do is to break the word of those on this side of the House. After all, we created this loophole in the Kenya Independence Act. We have this responsibility and we should acknowledge it. And I am not personally prepared to break my bond.
This no doubt arose because we were anxious to provide an escape route for white Kenyans who might not wish to stay in Kenya under an African Government. We were not thinking then of the Asians, but we did not like to spell out a colour bar in the Independence Act and say that this was to help the white people to come back if they wanted to but would not include the Asians. We had not the face to do that, so the Asians were included. Therefore, we should not now create two classes of British passport—those which we have honoured because they were held by Europeans and those which we are about to dishonour because they are held by Asians.
My third objection to the Clause is that it makes these people stateless. Where are they to go? I do not criticise the policy of Kenyanisation. It is quite different from Africanisation and I do not criticise the Kenya Government for adopting it. But Kenya will not have these people. She is depriving them of their work permits, and they will have to leave. The latest reports from New Delhi, I understand, are that India will not have them either. Indeed, the attempt under the Bill to place the responsibility for them upon either Kenya or India is likely to cause a serious rift in our relations with both those great countries.
The Government, in effect, shrug their shoulders and say, "It is very bad luck for these people, of course, but they cannot come here and we shall fine British pilots or British airlines who try to bring them." But what happens if they go to Europe, for instance to France, on a British passport? When their visitors' permits expire in France, they will be repatriated, I understand, not to Kenya but to Britain because they are travelling on British passports. What shall we do then? This question, so far as I know, has not been answered at any point in the last few days.
1466 If we allow them to come in, the Clause and the Bill are pointless. If we send them away, we shall face the embarrassing spectacle of people being shuttled back and forth across the English Channel, unable to land on either shore, stateless, homeless and jobless. That is the spectacle which this legislation will present to the whole world and it is not an attractive one.
So what should we do? In my view, the holder of a British passport has a greater right than anyone else to come here. Therefore, if it is thought—I do not say that I necessarily subscribe to this view—that more immigrants are arriving than we can absorb, there seems only one possible alternative, and that is to reduce or, if necessary, even to halt for the time being, the admission of Commonwealth immigrants under the 1962 Act until the holders of British passports have been absorbed in this country.
That is not an ideal solution and it is certainly not a solution which I personally like, but it is better, I think, to ask the other Commonwealth immigrants to wait—although this would be inconvenient and unhappy for them, it would not be totally disastrous for them—than to break our bond and make holders of British passports stateless, homeless and jobless by this Bill.
§ Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Southall)
As the representative of Southall,I can speak with experience of immigration problems. In the two years that I have been an hon. Member, I have lived with these problems and, while other hon. Members have spoken of their local immigration problems, I must admit at the outset that they are not quite the same as those that I have experienced. However, my heart is equally heavy when discussing legislation of this sort, particularly since more questions have been asked than answers have been given. I trust that the Home Secretary will provide answers to all the questions he has been asked.
I understand that my right hon. Friend recently met a number of Commonwealth diplomats. I assume that they were Kenyan diplomats and that they discussed, not only from an emotional point of view, the problems that have arisen. I trust that my right hon. Friend will pass on this information, and while 1467 a good deal of emotion is bound to be engendered in a discussion of this sort, the practicalities of the matter must also be considered.
Although substantial numbers of the working-class people, with whom I deal, have considerable objection to the idea of our taking substantial numbers of Commonwealth immigrants into areas where they tend to congregate, they are prepared to consider this matter practically, particularly the question of whether we should accept our obligations and honour our word—if not our word, then at least the understanding that many of the Kenya Indians and Asians have had their rights—in this matter.
A few days ago a delegation from Nairobi sought me out and placed certain information before me. I have passed some of it on to the Ministry. I want to know if the facts which they presented to me are the true facts because, if they are, the problem would not appear to be as huge as has been suggested, and certainly not huge enough to warrant this type of wholesale legislation.
If we are to consider the Bill as a package, why was it not brought forward some time ago, perhaps when we were discussing the Expiring Laws Bill? When we last discussed that Measure the then Home Secretary spoke of the practical difficulties involved—difficulties which the Government are attempting to remedy in this Measure—but the legislation we were promised at that time was an extension of the Race Relations Act, 1965. Instead, we have this Measure.
§ Mr. Bidwell
At this juncture we have this Measure. That is all I said in mentioning the need for the 1965 Act to be extended.
Be that as it may, we must deal not only with the emotional side of the matter but with the practicalities that arise, including the race relations aspect. My constituency experience leads me to believe that these relations are on the upgrade. It is a slow process, but since 1955, when the first Indian immigrants came to my constituency, considerable progress has been made. Many of the children of these early immigrants have had some years at school and many of 1468"/> them are now at work. They have made lots of friends, not all of them coloured. It is significant to note that, through the anguish of the last few days, I have received not one letter from my constituents urging me to support the Bill, although I have received a few telegrams asking me to oppose it. In the event, I abstained.
For some days I have been wrestling with my conscience on this issue. My constituents accept that there is bound to be a natural growth in the coloured population as a result of the immigrants who are already here—by the natural enlargement of families and so on—and I also understand the problems which face my right hon. Friend as the Minister responsible for these matters. I have great confidence in him and for some time he and I, like other hon. Members, have been working on this problem. I appreciate that he has a compassionate attitude toward the people involved, and it is sad to think that anyone should hint that there is a tinge of racialism in him.
It is against that background that I must answer the questions which are put to me by Indians and Pakistanis living in my constituency, who have been disquieted by the process of this legislation. Many of the Kenyan Asians regard themselves as a cut above the Punjabi Indians in my constituency. Might not that be a blessing in disguise? Certain arbitrary figures have been given about the size of the problem and it has been suggested that about 1,500 of these people were coming each year. I mention the feelings of the Kenyan Asians and quote these figures because they are not the same as the figures we have been given and I hope that my right hon. Friend will explain the position clearly so that the true picture is visible.
Is it a question of playing cat and mouse with Jomo Kenyatta in that if more generous figures are quoted, a more vigorous policy of virtual expulsion can be followed in that country? I hope that my right hon. Friend will spell out the position, loudly and clearly, because we want to get to the guts of the matter. I have been told that in 1964 there were about 169,000 Asians in Kenya, of whom about 123,000 became British citizens under the agreement reached with the 1469 then British Government. I have been further told that about 45,000 of them have already emigrated to Britain or elsewhere—notably to India, Pakistan, Canada and Zambia—leaving about 78,000 British citizens of Asian origin still there and eligible to emigrate here.
The delegation I met told me that of these 78,000, only about 40,000 might wish to come to Britain or immigrate elsewhere, while the others have achieved, or are applying for, Kenya citizenship. For example, 695 out of 750 doctors practising in Kenya are of Asian origin. The delegation told me that these figures are known to Her Majesty's Government and to Mr. Malcolm MacDonald and the High Commissioner. It is important also to remember that the figure of 40,000 is inclusive of wives and children.
I was at pains to ask the delegates about the educational background of these people, particularly since in my constituency we have 60 per cent. immigrant children in one school and 40 per cent. in another. One of them is my old school, because I was born in the locality and have lived there for many years. I therefore am only too well aware of the problems involved. About 90 per cent. of the Asian population in Kenya speak English, I have been told, and learn our language in English-type schools, which they attend from the age of six, seven years later taking the Kenya primary school preliminary examination, which is similar to our 11-plus examination. I pointed out that in my view that was most unprogressive.
They say that those who pass the K.P.E. go to a secondary school or high school, and those who fail go to technical schools similar to our secondary modern schools. Employment is crucial to the problem of immigrant settlement in this country because it is from that base that everything else flows. I am told that the majority of Asians in Kenya are skilled workers. Many of those take apprentice-ships, arid become engineers, mechanics, electricians and skilled workers in the building trades. Large numbers are business men and industrialists, and it is significant that in spite of regional unemployment these categories are in short supply in this country. It is common knowledge that many of these people worked in the British Administration in Kenya prior to independence, and are 1470 familiar with Civil Service and local authority methods of office administration.
On the question of origin, it is said that the Asians in Kenya were first brought in by the British at the turn of the century. They came from the Punjab and Gujerat regions of India. Many of those now in Kenya are third generation residents, but if they opted from British citizenship on independence they receive the same treatment as recent arrivals and other aliens.
It is said that it has become very popular to regard all Asian Kenyans in Britain—who are not technically immigrants—as presenting a problem. This is not so. Their spokesmen say that these are viable people, that many will set up in business, while many others will easily find jobs in priority industries. Their children will present no schooling problems because their schooling is on the same pattern as the British. Very few of them do not speak good English.
Some lessons can be drawn from those statements. I know a few Asian Kenyans who are now living in the West London area. I find that because they have the ability to hold down better-paid jobs they are able to move into the semi-detached house regions and out of the Victorian terrace properties where everybody is crowded in and where there are overcrowded Indian lodging houses. When they move, their women can communicate freely with the white women next door, many of whom say that these Asian Kenyans are the best neighbours they have had.
I ask the House to take with a pinch of salt some of my hon. Friend's earlier remarks. This problem is moving emotionally, but it is also moving on towards better understanding. The tragedy is—and I need still to be convinced that the Bill is necessary—that we felt that we were moving towards better and happier race relationships but this legislation seems to be a substantial step backwards. It is not so much a question of the letter of the law as of the overtones and implications involved. I therefore want to know in practical terms what will be involved if we move from an apparently arbitrary figure of 1,500 a year. What would be the practical difficulties? I have not yet been told of them.
§ Mr. Paul Bryan (Howden)
As I understand that Amendment No. 12 is also included in this debate I leave the rather broader aspects of the subject and come to the very narrow point of naturalised subjects of British Colonies in general and of Kenya in particular. My hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. J. E. B. Hill) has written to the Home Secretary on this subject, and has asked me to apologise for his absence now. Our interest in the Amendment is the result of a visit we both made to Kenya in November last.
Yesterday, the Home Secretary said that the criterion for exemption from the provisions of the Bill was whether a person could be said to "belong to Britain". One has to acknowledge that large numbers of the Asians of whom we have been talking do not come into that category. It would not be unfair to say that many of them acquired their British passports by chance. Therefore, without saying anything disparaging about that category, whether or not we approve, it is that category that the Bill is meant to affect.
The group of which I want to talk comprises those who became naturalised before independence. It is a relatively small group. Many of them were European war refugees, some were refugees from Nazi Germany, and so on. They have British passports because they took deliberate and positive steps to become British citizens. Many of them took risks to do so. The process, if not arduous, is certainly prolonged. To start with, a person must have a five-year residential qualification. He must give proof of good character. He must have a knowledge of the English language. He must express an intention to reside in Britain or in the Colony concerned. In the end, he must get the approval of the Secretary of State or of the Governor of the area before he can finally take the oath of British citizenship.
Most of those I have met, having qualified by law as British citizens, took the most positive and sincere step of all towards becoming British by deciding that their children should become British. They took out British passports for them. Their children are educated here. Where the parents can afford it, the children go to university here, or undertake further 1472 education, and probably qualify for the professions in this country.
Therefore, from the moment these people first decided to set out on the long path towards naturalisation, they had planned their whole lives on the assumption of British citizenship and of the legitimate expectations that flow from it. I suppose that their most natural legitimate expectation would be that of retiring to England. Those of whom I talk would have certainly left the country and retired to England by now had they thought that there was the slightest chance of their British passports not being honoured.
Some of them are in a very anomalous position, especially the farmers. As many hon. Members know, a lot of British farmers in Kenya are being bought out on the 400,000 acre scheme—a scheme agreed between the British and Kenya Governments. They are bought out in sterling, so they can retire here. We can now have a farmer, who has devoted his life and skill building up Kenya, and who has saved up enough capital to retire here under a scheme agreed by the British and the Kenya Governments, being prevented from doing so by the British Government. A citizen like that would be no burden at all, but an asset to this country.
I hope that I have brought home the fact that here we have a class of British citizens who have themselves forged a deliberate and positive link with this country, and in that way have put themselves in a quite different category from others affected by this Bill. I therefore hope that the Home Secretary will see his way to accepting this Amendment and putting the matter right.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Dr. Hugh Gray (Yarmouth)
I hope to persuade the Minister, even at this late stage, substantially to alter Clause 1. I put to him a consideration which I do not think has yet been put forward, the general effect which it will have on the future of the Commonwealth itself. This has been shown by the reactions of the Indian Government. Not only have the Indian Government refused to accept people from Kenya with United Kingdom passports, for residence, but they have suggested that they will take retaliatory action against us, and very rightly. At 1473 the moment we can enter India without let or hindrance. Unlike aliens, we do not have to register with the police, but the Indian Government are at this moment considering withdrawing those privileges and other privileges will similarly be withdrawn from British citizens by other Commonwealth Governments.
Widespread indignation will sweep through all Commonwealth countries as the racial nature of this legislation becomes ever more widely known. Even we in this country will suffer because Clause 1 puts a stick into the hand of white power and a stick into the hand of black power. Is there not something ironic about a Socialist Minister who rests racialist legislation on the basis of the hereditary principle? We know why this criterion has been chosen—it is to exclude Asians. How can my right hon. Friend justify this?
I admit that there is necessity to introduce a phased immigration policy, but my right hon. Friend should do this on criteria which apply to all, white, black or brown. If many in this country do not think this is racial legislation and accept the partial and unconvincing arguments put forward for it, I can assure my right hon. Friend that that will not be accepted in India, in Pakistan, or any country where Asians live. We are about to put a piece of racialist legislation on the Statute Book. I am ashamed to belong to a party the Government of which does this. That is why I voted against Second Reading last night and why I shall vote against the Government tonight unless my right hon. Friend broadens the criteria in such a way that he produces nondiscriminatory grounds for exclusion. We all know what those grounds are. For example, some people are prevented by lack of money from buying something, but they may acquire money. That is non-discriminatory, but one cannot acquire a British father or a grandfather.
British passports were given to these Asians by a Conservative Government, but we cannot shuffle off our responsibility. l. subscribe, as I believe all hon. Member3 do, to the consensual nature of Government. We accept certain responsibilities which, if hon. Members opposite were to win the next election, they would inherit just as we inherited theirs. We have obligations and responsibilities to 1474 all who hold British passports. As one who has worked for the International Refugee Organisation I cannot face the situation in which holders of British passports will have nowhere to go. The point put forward by the Leader of the Liberal Party has not been answered.
§ Mr. John Lee (Reading)
I endorse the sentiments my hon. Friend is expressing, but the position is even worse. Did we not even hang a man at the end of the war on the basis of a defective passport?
§ Dr. Gray
That is a question of the wider implications and responsibilities. I accept that the fact that a man holds a British passport means that he will be entitled to protection by Her Majesty's Government, but that protection will be given only outside this country unless the Minister clarifies the matter still further. We cannot face a situation in which people with British passports are homeless. Ultimately this country must be their home even if they are delayed in taking up residence in it. I hope that when the Minister replies to the debate he will reply fully to this point.
I accept that he does not say that Clause 1 is discriminatory from the racialist point of view, but I do and so do thousands of people in this country. I can assure them that millions throughout the Commonwealth do. I hope that he will think again and will phase immigration, control it and do what he likes but on the basis of impartial criteria which cannot be challenged as I challenge it and as thousands will challenge it. I was pleased to vote in the company of Liberals and Conservatives last night. Members of all parties will regret it if for the first time in Parliament we put a piece of racialist legislation on to our Statute Book.
§ Mr. Gurden
Britain has been criticised both at home and abroad, while under Conservative Governments and now under a Socialist Government, for bringing in control of immigrants. Among the foremost of our critics in the Commonwealth have been such countries as India and Pakistan. Here is a chance for the Indians to show that they are prepared to help and that they really meant what they said about their principles concerning immigration. They can 1475 help in this situation far more than we can.
One wonders what will be the feelings of the people in Kenya when they realise that they are being thrown out and, as some hon. Members have said, are being made stateless persons. If any responsibility rests on any country for that I should have thought it is on such countries as India. [An HON. MEMBER: "The British."] That is a matter of opinion but I should have thought that if there are people of Indian extraction it is—
§ Mr. Gurden
This is what Kenya is saying—that it is for her to look after her people and others can become stateless. On the admission of the mover of this Amendment, it is a wrecking Amendment. The right hon. Member said so and he said that it could involve 600 million people who would have the right to come here. He was given the answer to the Amendment last night. From the speeches we have heard there seems to be nothing like a representation of the vote that was taken last night being expressed in the Committee today. There were six to one in favour of the Bill last night. but the majority of hon. Members who have spoken and of those present now voted against the Bill on Second Reading. Clearly the vote last night, from my experience, represents exactly what the people of the country want. More than six to one of the people are in favour of this Bill and of the control of immigration.
§ Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas (Chelmsford)
Would it not be fair to say that the majority of people in the county are torn in two differing directions over this Bill and, because of the lack of a moral lead on the issue from the leaders of either of the major parties—I except the Liberals they remain in a state of confusion?
§ Mr. Gurden
No, I do not accept that at all. From my postbag and most people to whom I have spoken—Birmingham M.P.s will know this well—the 1476 majority of people are certainly in favour of this Bill and in favour of the control of immigration.
§ Mr. James Johnson
It is not a matter of an open door policy for 700 million, nor yet of a completely closed door. We are faced with a so-called flexible policy, but we know that in the near future thousands will be jobless but will have no legal right to stay in the land of their birth. Exactly what is the hon. Member's view on that?
§ Mr. Gurden
The Amendment covers the whole Commonwealth, 600 million people. The right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) said that.
The majority of people in this country realise that there will be some hardship, and there will be people for whom we have to be sorry. There are a lot more people in the world I am very sorry for. I am terribly sorry for the people of Vietnam and for others. But I have a responsibility to my constituents. This is where it all starts. The question is whether I have first responsibility to my constituents and the people of this country or to hard-done-by people in Kenya; and there is the further question whether, if anyone should help them out, it should be the Kenyan Government or the Indian Government.
§ Mr. Christopher Price (Birmingham, Perry Barr) rose—
§ Mr. Gurden
No. I have given way a good deal. The hon. Gentleman will be able to make his own speech. He will not be restricted by his Whips. I do not suppose that the Closure will be moved. The hon. Gentleman knows that I am speaking for the people of Birmingham and the vast majority of people in this country.
§ Mr. Christopher Price
Does the hon. Gentleman consider that he has a responsibility also to white people in Kenya whose fathers or grandfathers happened to be born in this country?
§ Mr. Gurden
If, by chance, some white people are caught by the Bill, so be it. We cannot help it. Ours is an overcrowded country, and we have had too many immigrants already.
§ Mr. Gurden
I say this for the mover of the Amendment, the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe). As far as or he can see, he has been consistent right from 1961 when the first control was considered. By Amendment No. 10, he wants exactly what he wanted then, a completely open door for 600 million people to come to this country. He and all the Liberals, and nearly all the Socialists, voted for just that, the door wide open for more than 600 million people.
§ Mr. David Steel rose—
§ Mr. Gurden
I shall not give way. I am talking about the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment.
What I am sayinig is in some measure in support of what the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell) said about dispersal. We could probably take some of these people from Kenya if there were an arrangement for dispersal, if there were a condition that some of them should go to places where there are no immigrants now. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) has always taken a consistent line. He put to the Government that it would be an infinitesimal number of people to take in—why could not we do it? He said that France had taken in a million people. Because of his ideas, Britain, too, has taken in a million people. Perhaps France had now said that it has enough. I say that Britain has enough.
If these people were going into the areas where there are no immigrants at present, it would be a different matter, but everyone knows that they would come to the already overcrowded areas, overcrowded with immigrants, where the education system is under great strain, where all the social services are under 1478 great strain, and where the housing situation is exceptionally serious. If they were allowed in, these immigrants about whom we are talking would go to areas where there is the greatest slum clearance problem ever.
Birmingham is in the forefront on this problem. Everyone acknowledges that. Birmingham has the finest record in new house building of all cities and towns in the country. Last year, Birmingham had a record number of houses built and a record slum clearance achievement, in spite of the immigrant problem which we have had. It is not for me to discuss the housing of immigrants at length on this Amendment, but I remind the Committee that the time would soon come when these immigrants would be entitled to move into our council houses. The strain would then be upon us.
If the Home Secretary had not the courage to bring in the Bill, all the efforts of Birmingham in education and housing would count for nothing. We should be impossibly overcrowded. Let us face it. These people are not going to Orkney and Shetland. They would go to Birmingham, Wolverhampton and other overcrowded places which are already under great strain.
I congratulate the Home Secretary. We know that he will not have to give way to the Amendment. This is just where the Liberals are inconsistent. They now say that they agree that there has to be some sort of control. It is the first time we have heard it. They now say that they recognise the problem and admit there must be some control. Does the hon. Gentleman want me to give way now?
§ Mr. David Steel
The hon. Gentleman must have heard my right hon. Friend say that the purpose of the Amendment was to have the very useful debate which we are now having, and we do not intend to divide the Committee on it.
§ Mr. Gurden
Of course. That is why it is a lot of nonsense. It is wasting the time of the Committee. That was the point I made. This is yesterday's debate all over again. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that it was a wrecking Amendment. I am pointing out that by six to one the House has already given a decision on this question. Therefore, there 1479 is no point in taking up the time of the Committee on it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Then sit down."] It is time that somebody spent a few minutes supporting the Government for what they are attempting to do. We see all the opponents of the Bill sitting there, but they ignore popular opinion and the opinion of their colleagues—about 250 of them who went into the Lobby in favour of the Bill last night. The Home Secretary has been very courageous in bringing the Bill to the House. It is more than his predecessor had the courage to do.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
We are told that, if we accept the Amendment, we put ourselves at risk of allowing into this country 600 million people. We are told, also, that, if we reject the Clause, we put ourselves at risk of allowing into this country 1 million people. Both those figures are misleading in this discussion. The discussion is about a particular problem in a particular area of the world. It is about Kenya and Kenya's problems, and it is not really relevant to any other problem anywhere else in the world, not even in the neighbouring African territories.
The problem which Kenya faces, and with which it is dealing by its legislation, which has been rightly criticised, is that there are many urban Africans unemployed and, in order to make sure that they are given jobs, the policy has been adopted of discriminating against non-citizens—I emphasise the term "non-citizens "—who have got jobs. It is therefore a matter for comment, but it is peculiar to Kenya. The same problem does not exist in Uganda or Tanzania.
We are therefore talking about the Asian problem in Kenya. We are also talking about a specific part of that problem, the rate of flow of Asian immigrants from Kenya into this country. We are not talking about the numbers. We could absorb the total numbers, but we could not do so all at once. That was accepted by the Government when my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said that what we want to do is to form a queue. They can all come, but at a rate which will be manageable.
The problem admittedly required some legislation to restrict and regulate the flow, but it has not been faced properly 1480 in the Bill. The Amendment at least has this to be said for it: it applies the same criteria to both coloured and white members of the Commonwealth. All of us know, whatever we say, that the reason the Clause is phrased as it is that we want to honour our commitment to white Kenyans and do not want to honour it to coloured Kenyan Asians. That is the most repulsive part of the Bill.
I absolutely accept that my right hon. Friend, and even more my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, who is known for his ardent espousal of the cause of coloured people, are not racialist in intent. But what is the effect? Racial prejudice is more a matter of presentation than reality—to use my right hon. Friend's words. We all know that there is little that calls for fear or discrimination racially. It is all a matter of the psychology of the situation, and that is what is so repugnant about the Bill.
Although there may be a civilised reason why we should discriminate in favour of those who, again in my right hon. Friend's words, have a substantial connection with this country, that civilised reason is meaningless if one is a poor coloured immigrant in this country or a poor Asian in Kenya. It simply means that the white man is rigging it again for himself. We may not be very much concerned about the effect in Kenya, but we should be concerned about the effect in this country.
The hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Gurden) referred to the number of coloured immigrants in this country. Whether he likes it or not, they are citizens of this country; they have rights here. Anyone who has seen the reaction of some of the members of that community who feel themselves oppressed, denied expression of their views, wanting to use violence to get what they conceive to be their rights, must have a concern for the racial feeling that might be generated by the Bill, and that is what concerns me most.
We could have dealt with the problem in a way that would not have been offensive if we had not been committed to the concept of a figure for a quota. In any case, the figure is completely illusory. If the Bill becomes law by Friday, within a week there will be 1,500 heads of households in Kenya who will want to come 1481 into this country. What we face is a panic flow. It is not related to need or the number of people who have been dispossessed of jobs, because so far that number is considerably less than the 6,000 who could come in on an annual quota, and certainly considerably less than the 13,000 who came in last year.
We are concerned with a panic fear that they will not be able to enter this country if anything goes wrong in Kenya, and the panic will continue after the Bill becomes law. Everybody will want to get his name on the quota straight away, and the quota will be filled within a week. What is to happen then if the Under-Secretary's assurance tonight is taken at its face value? What is to happen the first time the Kenya Government extends the orders which have been made eider the Kenya Immigration Act, the first time that more people are displaced and told to leave Kenya? If we honour the assurance given tonight they will have to be added to the 1,500. If the Government had said, "We must regulate the flow but shall take all those in need, all those who have been dispossessed of jobs or thrown out of the country, as their need is made evident", there would not have been a quota, and all the entry would have been taken up by those whose need was really desperate.
People will be thrown out of Kenya while holding British passports, and will have nowhere else to go. Horror should afflict the mind of every responsible Member to think that there will be people trying to come to this country with British passports who have been created stateless. That is what they really are. I know that technically and legally they are not stateless, but unless one has the rights of nationality what does nationality count for? If one cannot live and work in the area that has given one nationality, what does it mean that one has been given that empty legal fiction?
Therefore, we should try to phase the flow according to the rate at which Kenyanisation takes place. I have been told today in this House that that would be an open invitation to Jomo Kenyatta to throw out all the Asian Kenyans tomorrow, and that we should simply have the uncontrolled flow again. I take the point. It is a risk, but not a real risk. The Kenya Government gave two 1482 years in which any Asian could have applied for citizenship, and he could have got citizenship by simply applying for it in that first two years.
§ Mr. Lyon
But have not been refused it. They have not yet been accepted, but no conditions were laid down for the application. There are stringent conditions now, and there is a discretionary power to refuse citizenship. I accept that if all the 250,000 Asians in Kenya had applied in the first two years the policy of the Kenya Government might have been different. But the fact was that they were prepared to take anyone, and anyone who became a Kenyan citizen would not be dispossessed of his job under the Kenya Immigration Act or the Trade Licensing Act. He would have all the rights of any African Kenyan because he was a citizen.
Jomo Kenyatta and the Kenya Government need the services of the Asian community, and they want to hold on to those services as long as they consider it desirable to do so. I accept that they will phase out the Asian community as the African community comes along with both education and skill to take over. But they do not want that to happen tomorrow because they know that the African community is not yet ready. It must be a process of time.
Examining the categories of jobs in the Immigration Act, one recognises that some will not become subject to the Act for a very long time. An order has to be made in each case and it is clear that orders will not be made to expel professional men—doctors and lawyers and so on—within the foreseeable future because there are not enough African doctors and lawyers to take their place.
Kenya needs these skilled citizens and will not expel them straight away. She has begun in a very small way, despite the suggestions made today, with semiskilled and unskilled workers—typists, clerks and so on. It is true that this will create considerable difficulties in the next few months, but I heard from the Asian 1483 delegates who are in this country that they estimate that about 7,000 people will be affected in this category in the next 12 months. That number is not greatly in excess of what is being proposed as a quota for this coming year.
The likelihood is that the pattern will increase in crescendo as more and more Africans obtain qualifications and the money to take over jobs occupied by Asians. The phasing, therefore, is largely determined by the needs of Kenya as the Kenya Government see them, and it is unlikely that, even if we gave an assurance that anyone with a British passport and who is dispossessed of his job can come here, President Kenyatta would act precipitately and expel all the Asians there and then. It is likely that he would keep their services as long as possible.
But such an assurance would get rid of the panic flow because it would give assurance to the Asian community that they would not, as they fear at the moment, be caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, being expelled from their jobs but still unable, under the quota, to come here, and unable to go to India and Pakistan, where they have no more substantial connection than with people in this country. These people were born in Kenya as were their fathers and they have lived there all their lives. They are being left rootless and stateless and we could not in the eyes of the world deny them entry.
We know that we could not, so why not say so now and get rid of the pathetic fear in the Asian community? Why not give the explicit assurance I asked for? I do not think that there is danger in doing so. If there is, I am willing to risk it. If the flow became much greater than expected, we could cut down the vouchers issued to other Commonwealth citizens and that in itself would make leeway between what we hoped for and what became reality. But we would eradicate the fear which exists among 150,000 people and that is what I want.
§ Sir D. Glover
We have listened to thoughtful speeches from people speaking on a subject about which they are deeply concerned emotionally. I shall have to be rather critical of the Home Secretary and his colleagues. I think that this Bill is ill-advised and was hastily thought up. 1484 It did not have a long enough period of gestation and was brought to fruition before it had been properly thought out in the Home Office.
At the same time, I have a good deal of sympathy with the Home Secretary because he had a problem. He fell and, having fallen, produced this Bill. But I have far more criticism of right hon. Gentlemen who have the honour to grace the Front Bench on this side. There was no necessity for them to encourage the breaking of Britain's pledged word. If a Government wish to enter upon such a course of action, there is no reason why the Opposition should aid and abet them in so doing.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) can wriggle and squirm as hard as he likes but there is no doubt that, in 1963, these Asians and the white community in Kenya were given a clear understanding that, because of the difficulties in Kenya, their problems would be taken care of. I am glad that, with the exception of my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham, no one speaking from the Front Benches has tried to evade the issue. They have all made it clear that what this Bill is doing is breaking Britain's pledged word. It has been said that the vote of 372 to 62 in favour of this Bill shows that the nation is behind us. I am ashamed to think that the nation should take pride in breaking Britain's pledged word.
I accept that there are many difficult problems, and one should have a great deal of sympathy for the Home Secretary in his very difficult position. But the fact remains—and let us be clear about it—that in 1963 the position was very different from what it is now. It was not so long after Mau Mau. When I was in Kenya in 1963, leading a delegation to Mauritius, it was still a phenomenon that Jomo Kenyatta was a responsible statesman. Everyone had thought until then that he had cloven hooves and horns growing from his head. I am talking here not only about the Kenya farmers but about the High Commission officials and the British civil servants there at the time.
Let us be honest and admit that there is a great deal of racialism in this House, in this country, in Kenya, in India and in almost every country in the world, and we shall not get very far by making 1485 either a virtue or a sin of it. I myself would take a strong line on the increase in immigration into this country, other things being equal. I am prepared to accept that the Home Secretary, in dealing with this problem, might have severely to curb the present quotas from elsewhere to allow us to carry out an obligation we solemnly undertook.
In 1963, we recognised the problems causing anxiety to whites and Asians in Kenya about independence, and to remove their fears we said that we would let them retain their United Kingdom passports. We must accept that many things flowed from that decision. Suppose that it had not been taken and I were an Asian. I would have gone to get a Kenya passport the very day it became a legal document. But the United Kingdom Government give me an alternative, so what do I do? I delay. I weigh up the pros and cons, trying to find out how the situation is developing in Kenya. But when the Kenya Government suddenly take steps against my community, the United Kingdom Government react in this way and I am naked before the cold east wind.
This is exactly what has happened to the Asian community. If they had not been given those assurances in 1963, there would not be nearly as many holding United Kingdom passports today. They would be Kenya citizens. [Interruption.] It is no use thinking that this House can suddenly slough off this responsibility. One of the great problems—and I am surprised that no lawyer has spoken of it is that contracts are enforced when one does not like the bargain. One does not need a law of contract when both people are in agreement; that can be done on the "old boy" net. It is when one does not like it, when it is to one's disadvantage, when it embarrasses one, when it causes one financial loss, that one needs the law of contract.
Let us make no bones about it. The right hon. Gentleman is welshing on his contract. [Interruption.] It is a United Kingdom contract. I said that I have a lot of sympathy for the right hon. Gentleman, but he is operating all the levers at the moment. I am not hostile to him; I have a great affection for him. This is what is happening and it all stems from the original decision. My right hon. Friend the Member for 1486 Streatham was perfectly right, and the British Government were perfectly right in 1963 to give these particular assurances. There was a promise. There had been an area of land in Africa, torn with civil war and atrocities, with great fear and unease, and I very much doubt if the Kenya nation would have got off the ground in the way that it has done if it had not been for the assurances given by my right hon. Friend and the then Conservative Government.—[Interruption.]
They did give them in 1963. I know that my right hon. Friend now says he did not. All that I say is that no one who has spoken from either Front Bench during the debate makes the slightest attempt to avoid the implication that there was this obligation. This is what we are debating in this Amendment. Under normal circumstances I am not a believer in an open-door policy for immigrants. I believe in a pretty tight policy. I believe that this country, with its size and its problems, has been pretty generous in the last 10 years in the number of immigrants that it has allowed in. They take time to settle down and bed in. As the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell) said, the people from Kenya would bed in and "gel" into our community much more easily than some of those from elsewhere.
I am a believer in a strong policy for controlling immigration, but when one has a situation in which one is taking into this country people to whom one does not have the kind of obligation that one has to another group of people, and taking them at the rate of 50,000 or 60,000 a year—and we are talking of a figure of 60,000 to 80,000 and not more—then I believe that if necessary there should be a complete clamp-down on all immigrants from elsewhere. This would allow the country to fulfil its obligations to those Asians in Kenya to whom it gave a firm commitment.
I hope that even now the Home Secretary will recognise that it is not sufficient to talk about 1,500 and to allow those from India, Pakistan and the West Indies to come in on that quota. Politics come into this, and now the British and Kenya Governments are trying to play one off against the other. The Kenya Government will try to produce more Asians who want to emigrate, to try to force the right hon. Gentleman's quota up. 1487 The more he keeps it down, the more difficult will be the problem for those Asians in Kenya.
The time has come for the Government to send the Colonial Secretary out to say to the Kenya Government, quite bluntly, that unless we can sit round the table and work out an agreed policy, we will not send any more aid to the Kenya Government. We are being held to ransom by the Kenya Government, who incidentally are probably making the biggest mistake of any nation in Africa in trying to get rid of the most knowledgeable and skilful element in their population. Anything that we can do to slow down that exodus must be to the benefit of Kenya.
This cannot be done on the basis of the Asians in Kenya being made stateless citizens. The only way is to have a conference, even now, between the two Governments, with the real threat that aid will be withdrawn unless a more equitable mood is reached, and the Kenya Government should assure us that there will be no turning these people into stateless individuals, but that instead their future will be safeguarded. If the right hon. Gentleman can give me an assurance to that effect at the end of this debate, despite the fact that I voted against the Bill last night, and considered myself thoroughly justified in doing so, I would be prepared to withdraw my objections to the Bill.
§ Mr. James Johnson
I wish to intervene only briefly since most of what I wanted to say has been said very well already, particularly by my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon). I trust that the Minister will at once reject the suggestions that have been made by the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover), that an attempt should be made to blackmail Kenya, saying that we will give the country no aid unless it changes its policy. I disown that immediately.
As to my hon. Friend's speech, he underestimates the depth of African nationalism. I have worked in Kenya with many men who are now Ministers. I have been down the line, organising black workers in trade unions. There is no doubt that this wave of African 1488 nationalism is the prominent motive in all their actions. [HON. MEMBERS: "Racialism."] I stick to nationalism. These are my friends and I am talking about African nationalism. Whatever anyone might like to think, there is a strong wave of African nationalism. We have been saying that these Kenya Asians are not African nationals but are United Kingdom nationals with United Kingdom passports.
Kenya is an emergent nation with tens of thousands of men unemployed, walking the streets of Nairobi. Their leaders want to advance these men socially, economically, technologically. Looking at the past history of Kenya, there is no doubt that there is left a legacy of ill-feeling between African workers and middle-belt Asians in commerce. I will not talk about Asians and how they behaved in Kikuyu land or anywhere else in Kenya. There is no doubt that between the whites in the top belt, the Asians in the middle belt and the Africans at the bottom—for example 85 per cent. or more of the Civil Service at the lower level is made up of Africans compared with 10 per cent. Asians and 5 per cent. whites—there is left a legacy beyond what I would term African nationalism, a natural desire on the part of Africans to advance quickly their own people.
The Asians are in a pitiful state. They have United Kingdom passports. We know that those who have no work permits and hence no jobs will be given from 1st March to 30th June to pack up and leave. We have seen documents to this effect. The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) produced a form of which I have a copy. I caution my hon. Friends that the intensity of African nationalism is impossible to measure. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State has been asked by hon. Members opposite to adopt an open-door policy. There is no doubt that if the quota goes up from 1,500 to 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, 8,000 or 10,000, the African leaders will seize the opportunity of filling it. I want, however, a quota of more than 1,500; we should be more flexible. But we must be very careful about making demands of the Minister for an open-door policy.
What do we do with those who have lost their jobs and go to the Government office in Nairobi with their form, and 1489 they are then told that they must leave by 30th June and to tidy up their affairs at the earliest possible moment? I want the Minister to face this, because it is the stark, naked, cold fact of the situation. I have met some of my old Asian friends with whom I have stayed in Kenya in the past—Asian lawyers, men of the highest calibre, capacity and integrity. At the moment, they are quite well off financially. I have heard it said in this debate that Asian lawyers, doctors and other professional men will have a place in the Kenya economy. For how long? They themselves do not think that they will have a place in the economy for very long. One to whom I spoke yesterday said, "Perhaps I shall have my Asian clientele for two years. After that I will be in the same boat as the so-called unskilled workers, mechanics, fitters, carpenters and joiners who are now asked to leave by 30th June.
I asked the Minister, whom I know to be a humane man, to address himself to this matter. We asked the Under-Secretary of State earlier in this debate what would happen if Asian mechanics or joiners with no jobs were allowed to stay no longer. They will be taken to the courts in Nairobi and fined thousands of shillings and later expelled. If they come to London, what do we do with them? Do we send them back? I certainly hope not. But we are faced with a dilemma. If they can come here, is the quota to be 5,000, 8,000 or 10,000? We are in a cleft stick. This is a unique situation, one which we have never faced before. I support my Government on this matter. We are in this unique position after a shrinking Empire, to use an old-fashioned term, or as the mother of the Commonwealth, to use a modern term, faced with these uncashed cheques left as a legacy by the Conservative Party opposite when in power.
We must somehow solve this problem. The Minister has a most thankless task—I will not say an impossible task. He has my support—I will not say he has only my sympathy—and I shall watch carefully to see how he faces this awful job of helping these homeless. jobless, stateless men and their families who will undoubtedly join us in the coming years in ever-increasing numbers.
§ Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
The discussion on these Amendments is 1490 the kind of discussion about which naturally hon. Members on both sides of the Committee feel very emotional. That is right and proper, because we are discussing principles. This matter cuts right across both parties. It is important that we should try to keep an even balance between heart and head. We should not do an ostrich act. We should face certain facts squarely and with reality, however unpleasant they may be.
Although I think that this legislation has been introduced with a certain amount of what I might almost call indecent haste, and although I am prepared to blame the Government for a good many things, I am bound to say in all fairness to the Home Secretary that I cannot find it in my heart to blame him or his colleagues for this situation. I do not think that it was the Government who brought on this situation. Still less do I think that it was brought on by my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) and others, as has been alleged by hon. Members opposite; they at least foresaw what was coming.
As the Home Secretary properly said yesterday, there is a degree of Africanisation going on in Kenya which has brought a problem which was originally on the horizon but which is now uncomfortably on our doorstep. Anyone who knows anything about Africa knows that the Indians are not popular in Africa. Anyone who knows anything about Africa knows exactly why they are not popular in Africa. It is not unnatural or surprising that the Indians should be very anxious about what I might call the mounting weight of legislation which is gradually being passed in Kenya against them; and, of course, they want to get out.
I must be fair about this and have no cant: this is racialism, not by Europeans against Africans, but by Africans against Asians. It is curious that the critics of racialism and of any form of racial discrimination by Europeans against Africans should be so singularly silent on this issue. I admit that President Kenyatta, as the head of a sovereign state, is perfectly entitled to undertake whatever policy he likes. Equally, those who put their hand on their heart and say that it is frightful 1491 that people who possess a United Kingdom passport cannot have unrestricted access to Great Britain—and I have a great deal of sympathy with their view—were also singularly silent when, under the Southern Rhodesia Act, Rhodesians with a United Kingdom passport were denied unrestricted entry to this country. What is fair for one is fair for the other. Do not let us have too much one-sided cant on this score.
The second fact which we must face, whether we like it or not—and I thought that the Home Secretary faced it very well yesterday—is that we must limit the inflow of immigrants to a number which can be absorbed within our community. One can argue all night and for many nights about what that number should be. My view is that the present numbers have reached very dangerous proportions. I remember from my school days that if one mixed two chemical substances in the wrong proportions in a glass container there was an explosion. I am not sure that we are not in great danger of putting a time bomb into our national life which, since the racial element is concentrated in certain areas, may well explode—I do not know when, perhaps in ten, twenty or thirty years' time. We must be very careful about this.
Like every hon. Member, I am unhappy about the pledge either given or implied to Asians at the time of the Kenya Act. The difficulty is that we gave a pledge and I do not see how, within all the reasons of practical application, it can be honoured.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
I shall say why.
The best analogy was that used by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) about the bank. After all, if one opens an account at a bank one is given a cheque book—
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
Not at the moment. Let me finish the argument. If one opens an account at a bank one is given a cheque book and a cheque is a pledge by the bank that one can draw 1492 from the bank up to the total of the amount one has put into it, but if all the clients having accounts at that bank queued up in a matter of two or three days to write all the cheques in their cheque books and to use up all the money in their accounts there would be a run on the bank and the bank could not honour the pledge. That is the position, I think, that we have got into here—quite unconsciously, because nobody in 1963 envisaged this particular situation arising.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
Personally I do not think the comparison with France or Germany is right—for a number of reasons which it would be out of order to go into in this case; but both those countries are physically much larger than ours. Moreover, to the best of my knowledge we have already taken over 1 million immigrants—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It may be a good deal more; I do not know what the figures are. However, I do not think our record since the war could be bettered by anybody. I do not think the hon. and learned Gentleman's analogy is a very good one.
Let me come to the figures which the Home Secretary gave yesterday. He said he thought that those who were in the queue were 200,000. That was the figure he gave. If 1,500 come per year, we have to multiply that figure by five, roughly, to include the dependants, and that would come to about 6,000. Is that not right?
§ Mr. Ennals
It includes dependants. The 200,000 includes all those in East Africa and that includes not only heads of households but dependants.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
If it is suggested that we have 1,500 a year we have to multiply that by—call it five—to include the dependants. That would be right. would it not?
§ Mr. Ennals
By nodding my head I did not necessarily want to agree that we must multiply by five, but it certainly means three or four dependants per household on the average.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
Call it four. That is 6,000. Even on that basis it would take a long time to take in all those waiting in the queue, given the birth rate and everything else—
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
—35 years, as my hon. Friend says. To double the quota from 1,500 to 3,000 would bring it down to 15 years or so. I am quite prepared to accept that, but it does seem to me almost unreal in relation to the problem. In addition, the right hon. Gentleman said, there were another 1 million potentially entitled to come, should circumstances work out that way. So I think we have got to admit we have a problem which is almost insoluble.
It is all very well to say that none of these millions would come and that conditions in their own countries will be stable. But are they going to be? Who can guess what will happen in the next two or three years in Mauritius? I do not know. I would have thought the Far East unpredictable. Who can say what will happen in Malaysia and Singapore where there are very large numbers of Chinese—or Hong Kong—where there are people who are perfectly entitled to United Kingdom passports.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
They certainly would be. This is the problem we have simply got to face it. If we have to deal with numbers potentially of that size I think the dilemma is frightful.
I have the greatest sympathy with the Home Secretary in the dilemma with which he is faced and I think that this Bill is really the lesser of two evils. I do not think it is practically possible to exclude all the other sources of immigration in order to deal with the numbers of Asians coming from Kenya. Purely on the numbers we can absorb, could we take any more than what the right hon. Gentleman says, plus the contingency of others coming, and plus those coming in through the normal quota? There 1494 fore, we have to grasp the nettle, and say that, for the sake of the future demographic and social problems of this country, immigration must be restricted. We must try to treat individual cases of Asians in Kenya with as much compassion as we can, but I support the right hon. Gentleman. This is a terrible dilemma, and I think he has taken the course which is the lesser of two evils.
§ Mr. S. C. Silkin (Dulwich)
My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, in answering questions after making his announcement last week, said that this Bill was unique and without precedent. I agree with him, and for me, too, this Bill has been without precedent, because for the first time since I entered the House I found myself in the position of having deliberately to withhold my support of this Government. That, I believe, was the least, the minimum, my conscience allowed me to do.
It reminds me, if I may be allowed to retrospect a little, of the first occasion when I had the privilege of addressing the House of Commons. It was on the death penalty Bill. I said—and I think that this part of what I said, at least, commanded the general support of the House—that it was at least the duty of those who come here not blindly to follow what public opinion might for the time being think to be right, but to follow their own conscience.
Why did I take this course? I was one of those who opposed the 1962 Bill, like, indeed, the majority of members of my own party. I did so not for the same reasons as those of Hugh Gaitskell, much as I admired him. I did so for three reasons: first, because I believed it was a Measure introduced rather under the pressure of events than carefully thought out and anticipated; secondly, because I believed that it was introduced without proper consultation with the Commonwealth; and thirdly, because I believed that whatever may have been the intentions of those who introduced it, it was a Bill which gave the impression of being racialist because it allowed in people from Eire and did not allow in people from the Commonwealth.
When I examined this Bill, every single one of those criticisms I found could be applied to this Bill as well, and other criticisms in addition. When I say that, 1495 one criticism which is in my mind on this Bill is that it appears to be racialist, let me say at once, and entirely freely, that I do not suggest for one moment that it is the intention of my right hon. Friend or of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary to introduce a racialist Measure. Not for one moment. I know them far too well for that.
Here is a Bill which says in terms that people whose families emigrated from this country perhaps three-quarters of a century or a century ago will be allowed into the country without any restriction, but that those whose families did not emigrate from this country will not be allowed in except under the controls of the 1962 Act. There may have been Asians and Africans who were born in this country within the last 100 years and who will be affected by the Act when it becomes law, but those living in Kenya cannot but see that provision as one to allow in the white population of Kenya and to keep out the coloured population. Whatever the intention of my right hon. Friend, that is how it will appear to them and, moreover, that is how it will appear to the Government of Kenya.
Let me follow that up for a moment. Rather to the surprise of many right hon. and hon. Members, after we released Mr. Kenyatta from his internment and he became head of the new State of Kenya, his displayed a remarkable generosity of spirit to the European population. Many of us feared that Kenyanisation or Africanisation would embrace the Europeans in Kenya. We found our fears dispelled by his actions. Can we be sure that will continue if we impose a bar upon those who have been and whose families have been living in Kenya for 75 or 100 years simply because they are coloured rather than white? Can we be sure that the policies which we will be embarking upon are not policies which will induce the Government of Kenya to pursue their Kenyanisation not merely against the Asians there but against the Europeans as well.
In September, 1965, I had the great privilege of going to Nairobi to represent an Asian in litigation. As my junior counsel, I had an Asian who is an English barrister and a member of my 1496 own Inn. My client was an Asian doctor. I spent a week there. I was treated by my client, his family and his friends not as a member of another race but as a friend and with the greatest hospitality. They did not look askance at me because of the colour of my skin or my race. Equally, I hope that no one in this country will look askance at them in their time of need for that reason or that it will even be thought that we are doing so. Whatever our motives and intentions may be, it cannot be out of the minds of other members of the Commonwealth that that is the real basis for what we are doing in this Bill.
I listened with great interest to the eloquent and pertinent speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell), in which he asked a number of questions. I have said that I am not against control, but I believe that control has to be justified. It must be justified in circumstances of this kind when what we are doing is unique and without precedent and will deprive citizens of cur own country of their right to enter it.
I want to know whether the facts given by my hon. Friend are right. Is it true that, up to a day or two ago, there were likely to be only some 40,000 people affected by this Measure? If it is true, within the last day or two, probably a fifth of those entitled to come here have arrived, assuming that Press reports are right when they say that heads of families are arriving at the rate of 2,000 a day.
The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) spoke yesterday about a run on a bank. Other hon. Members have used similar language. In my experience, a run on a bank is more likely if the bank says that it will pay out by small instalments each week or each month rather than if it keeps a completely open door.
I want to know whether the facts really are as my hon. Friend the Member for Southall said. If they are not, what are they? I waited throughout the whole debate yesterday to hear those facts, and I did not hear them. If I had heard them, it may be that I should not have taken the course that I did.
§ Mr. Callaghan
What are the facts that my hon. and learned Friend wants, apart from the figures? What else is it that was not answered and to which he is now referring?
§ Mr. Silkin
It was said in the debate by my right hon. Friend and by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State that in East Africa there are about 200,000 people who may be affected and that in the world there are about a million. We did not learn that last week. If we did, I do not know what our information services can be like. It is not because of that that we have to pass this Measure into law between Tuesday and Thursday of this week. It is because of something else. My right hon. Friend said last week that it is because of the inflow of 7,000 Asians in a period of three months, but is that the reason for introducing the Bill at this time in such a hurry, or is it something more than that?
When my right hon. Friend tells the Committee that there are likely to be only some 40,000 people who are likely to want to come, of whom some 5,000 or more heads of families might have arrived here before the Bill becomes law, and when one multiplies that by four to arrive at the probable number already here, I want to know what is the justification for the Bill.
My right hon. Friend knows that we are breaking a pledge and that we need the strongest possible grounds for doing so. He said last week that there would be a limit of 1,500 in each year. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State said today that that is a flexible figure. I hope that he is right. When my right hon. Friend winds up the debate, I hope that he will say once and for all that the figure has gone and that we will not set a numerical limit upon the people who are to be allowed in, but that we will treat every case on its merits and on its needs.
I do not suggest for a moment that we should lot have regulation and control, but if my right hon. Friend is able to say that every case will be looked at according to its merits and needs when deciding whether citizens of the United Kingdom and the Colonies are allowed into what they regard as their own country, with no regard for the figures, 1498 I for one will be prepared to take a very different attitude to the Third Reading of this Bill from that which I took to its Second Reading.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I understand that there are a number of hon. Members who wish to speak, so I will say why I speak now. First, we know that there is not to be, a: any rate on the part of the movers of the Amendment, a vote. Therefore, it is appropriate that I should state the position. Although the movers of the Amendment may not divide the Committee, of course, others may do so.
Secondly, it is right that I should speak now, because, with respect to those hon. Members who have spoken—and I have listened to the whole of the debate, with the exception of a short time when I had to be absent—the questions are now becoming repetitive. They are being advanced with force, no doubt, and there are new embroideries to what are the stark facts, but the major questions remain. Therefore, it is appropriate that I should attempt to answer the major questions which have emerged.
It is not for me to comment on the rulings of the Chair, Mr. Irving—I am in enough trouble as it is—but we have had what in many ways has been almost a Second Reading debate again, because the principle of the Bill has been challenged. Indeed, the mover of the Amendment indicated that it was a wrecking Amendment, because he wanted to wreck the Bill. That is perfectly fair. But since then we have the rather curious situation that it is apparently accepted that there should be some measure of control. If the Amendment were carried there would be no control. Therefore, the Amendment is entirely opposed—I speak with deference—to the decision that the House registered yesterday. The decision may or may not have been right, but the House yesterday registered the decision that there should be some control, and the effect of the Amendment would destroy any control. That is why I assume that the Liberal Party has decided not to divide the Committee and why, if it or others were to divide the Committee, I would have to recommend the Committee to oppose the Amendment.
Broadly speaking, although some hon. Members have said that there should be 1499 no control, most—not universal, by any means—have accepted the need for some control. The arguments have ranged about the numbers who are likely to be allowed to come here and the circumstances under which permission will be given. It is with these arguments that I should like to deal.
My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary has already dealt with the question of the number of vouchers, although I shall have something to say about that. He indicated that the figure of 1,500 was arrived at on the basis of the normal inflow of Kenyan or East African Asians before the panic started. I am not discussing the reason for it. All I am saying is that before it started about 6,000 a year were arriving. On the assumption that there would be a normal flow again and that perhaps not everybody would want to come here, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. S. C. Silkin) said, this figure was selected. But as is clear, there is no figure written into the Bill. It is right that no figure should be written into the Bill. Indeed, some other Governments are likely to he pleased that no figure is to be written into the Bill, because they will not want to feel that it is a fixed figure that is unalterable in all circumstances. No more do I.
On an issue like this, instead of assuming, as some hon. Members did, that the purpose is to try to make life difficult for everybody, they should assume that what the Government have in mind is at least as humanitarian as some of the conditions they themselves are advancing. It is not my desire or that of any member of the Government to fix quotas in such a rigid and inflexible way that they cannot have regard to the human needs of the citizens to whom they are attributed. I give that assurance particularly to my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) who made a speech which went to the very nub of the problem. He touched on a great many of the considerations which I have had to weigh anxiously over the last few months. I thank him for what he said, because he said it in many ways more eloquently than I could ever do. The purpose is not to have a rigid figure.
I find it distasteful to believe that any Commonwealth Government would 1500 pursue a policy to the point where they deliberately throw people out of work and indicate that they have to leave the country in which they were born and bred within a matter of weeks or months. It is difficult to believe that any Commonwealth Government would choose to act in that way. Whatever the evidence and the opinions of some of my hon. Friends or hon. Gentlemen opposite may be, I do not proceed on that assumption. I hope that I shall be proved right in proceeding on the assumption that the Government with whom we are dealing in this connection will not act on the basis that they will deliberately throw people out of work and throw them on the mercy of whoever will take them. The Committee should not proceed on the assumption that we expect a standard of conduct and behaviour from another Government lower than that which we ourselves would apply.
Therefore, I begin on the basis that the number of vouchers should be equivalent to that of a normal year's flow. Despite all efforts, it has not been possible to get any meaningful discussion with the Governments concerned about the proper policy to be followed. Efforts have been made. We have tried. I explained yesterday the way in which the problem had been approached. Nothing would have pleased me more than to have avoided these debates by getting some agreement with the other Governments concerned about the way in which this policy should be fulfilled. But I had to say to the House yesterday, and I say to the Committee today, that there has been no response at all.
What will be the effect of the Bill? Will it create a greater sense of panic? Some hon. Gentlemen genuinely argue that it may. It is equally possible to argue that it will create the conditions in which it will be possible to reach a meaningful settlement over a longer period. This is my intention when the Bill is carried through. I feel as deeply as anybody. It is repugnant to anybody in the Committee, and indeed in the whole country, that citizens of ours should be left jobless and wondering about their future. Our aim should be to reach agreement with the Kenya Government on this matter. That should be the purpose of our policy. But meantime we have to take the situation as it is. 1501 I hope I have made clear to the Committee—if not, I will repeat it again—that it is my intention that the number of vouchers fixed is related to what I expect to be the normal flow. This is not a rigid figure. It is a flexible figure, and it will be flexible in relation to the circumstances to which I am now coming.
I was asked what we would do about a man who was thrown out of work and ejected from the country. We shall have to take him. We cannot do anything else in those circumstances.
§ Mr. Hirst
This is a cardinal point that was touched on earlier. If letters like the one that was read by the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) were multiplied, as they may well be, by their thousands, it will make a nonsense of the whole premise on which the Bill is based.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I agree. Let nobody try to avoid any of the difficulties. This Bill is an attempt to control the situation. I do not know whether it will succeed in its purpose, because the decision does not lie wholly in this country. It lies in the civilised behaviour of other Governments. Let there be no doubt about that. If the reaction of others is such that the Bill is swamped, we shall have made our attempt at control. We shall have tried to get a civilised solution to one of the most difficult problems that it has been my misfortune to have to face. I shall not repent of having made the attempt to get a solution. I am sure that this is the right thing to do.
What I expect and believe will be the result of the passage of the Bill is that a number of these citizens now resident in Kenya who, as I understand the situation, are likely to get certificates of employment, who are likely to get trading certificates, for some years to come, will say, "Let us settle down here. We are likely to get them. In five years' time may be the Kenya Government will not want us any more. In that period a solution can be worked out. Over that period a flow can be arranged". That is what I would like to believe is the best way of handling this situation. As a matter of forecasting, anybody's view can be right. Some argue that the Bill will create uncertainty. It is at least as likely that it will create a measure of certainty 1502 on the part of those who are now uncertain about whether they should come or stay.
§ Mr. Thorpe
m: As the right hon. Gentleman wishes to remove uncertainty, may I, without breaking the chronological order of his argument, press him firmly to answer the point which has been raised, namely, what is the legal status of these people? If they are United Kingdom citizens, what rights have they? What obligations have they? What will happen if they arrive here illegally? Where will they be shipped to? Are they stateless or not?
§ Mr. Callaghan
I prefer not to deal with the question of legal status, because this is a matter better dealt with by lawyers. It is a most complicated subject, and I have not heard it raised as a major question during the discussion. We have been dealing with the more human issues of what happens to these people, and I would like to come to the question later.
I have been asked what we will do about the people who are here. I echo the words of my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. James Griffiths). I hope that as a result of their own decision, and as a result of the conditions being made possible for them in Kenya, a great many of them will stay where they were born, where they have been bred and earned their living, where they have brought up their families, and have their homes—
§ Mr. Callaghan
Yes, where they are needed.
Now I come to the basis on which the entry vouchers should be given. It would be wrong to give them on the basis put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell) in what was otherwise an excellent speech, that we ought to give vouchers because we need these people, because we need skilled workers.
§ Mr. Callaghan
If my hon. Friend did not mean that, I make the point in a different way. I do not think that it would be right for us to judge who should come here on the basis of our need, 1503 or because they are skilled. The basis of the criterion which the High Commissioner will apply will clearly be one of humanitarian needs in the first place. Those citizens who are genuinely obliged to leave Kenya through refusal of entry permits or because they hold visitors' passes of short duration, or United Kingdom citizens who apply for immigrant status and have completed arrangements for leaving Kenya and cannot support themselves, are clearly the first group which should have priority, and it is to them that priority will be given.
Then we would deal with those who seem likely to find themselves in this position as a result of the Kenya Government's actions within the coming months, and who can say what is likely to happen? It is on the basis of such criteria that the High Commissioner will embark on the task that he has to fulfil.
On the assumption that the Bill will become law, I would like to say a few words for the benefit of United Kingdom passport holders in East Africa. It is important that they should know the position in relation to making application for the quotas. I would like to read this fairly carefully to let them know how they should set about making arrangements to come to the United Kingdom from the time that the Bill comes into force.
The Government's desire in formulating the new arrangements has been to settle claims for admission on the spot in East Africa. We are doing this to avoid the risk, as far as possible, of fruitless journeys to this country, with all that this would mean in the way of hardship for would-be immigrants and their relatives or their sponsors. Accordingly, we are reinforcing the High Commissions by attaching to them experienced entry certificate officers. People wishing to come to this country, for whatever purpose, should go to the appropriate High Commission to make their application. If they are applying, as head of a household, for one of the vouchers, their application will then be considered by the High Commissioner, to whose representative they will be asked to give a full explanation of their circumstances, their intentions in coming to the United Kingdom, and details of the circum- 1504 stances which are leading to their decision, forced or voluntary, to leave East Africa.
If the High Commissioner decides to allocate a voucher to such an applicant, an entry certificate will be stamped in the passport by the entry certificate officer. An entry certificate is the equivalent of the visas that are required by some foreign nationals, and takes the form of a rubber stamp which will be impressed in the passport.
Apart from the applicants for the vouchers, it is important for me to emphasise again for the benefit of those in East Africa that there will be a whole range of other people who will be entitled to apply for entry certificates. There will be the entitled dependants, the wife and children of the people to whom the vouchers are allocated. There will also be the entitled dependants of United Kingdom passport holders from East Africa who settle in this country before the Bill comes into operation, those who have been arriving in large numbers over the last three months. In addition, there will be people wishing to come to the United Kingdom as students, or visitors, including business visitors.
In all those cases the applicant will be given the fullest opportunity to explain his intentions to the entry certificate officer. If his application is granted, the entry certificate will then be impressed in his passport. If his application is refused, he will have an opportunity of appealing to one of the two independent lawyers, and perhaps I might come back to this point later.
A person who receives one of these entry certificates can then be certain that he will not have a fruitless journey, but a person who, from the date of the operation of the Bill, sets out for the United Kingdom without an entry certificate, can have no assurance that he will be admitted to the United Kingdom. I therefore appeal earnestly to those concerned in East Africa, and to their relatives and sponsors in this country, not to set out without first having applied for, and obtained, an entry certificate from the appropriate High Commission. If this precaution is observed, we shall be able to operate the new control with some sense, and, I stress, with great humanity.
1505 With regard to appeals, I would like to inform the Committee that at the invitation of the Lord Chancellor two distinguished lawyers have agreed to serve. Sir Derek Hilton, the Past President of the Law Society, and Mr. Trevor Reeve, Q.C., have agreed to serve as members of the appeal tribunal. Their terms of reference will be broadly as I described to the House yesterday. They are prepared to go to Nairobi almost immediately. I am most grateful to these gentlemen for responding so readily and agreeing to perform this important duty. They have undertaken to do it for a relatively short period. We have asked them to go there urgently, and of course, in due time, we might want to consider an extention of the arrangements or their replacement by others who would be able to take up the post.
Having made these important points, which I am anxious that people in East Africa should understand, I come back to the thread of the argument. My hon. Friend the Member for Southall asked about the numbers and how many are likely to come. I wish that I knew the answer to the second question. I can only tell him that I have had a number of estimates. The best which I can make is that which I gave the House yesterday, which is derived from our High Commissioners in East Africa. I have always tried not to exaggerate the figure. I think that the figure is about 200,000, but my hon. Friend will understand that that is only an estimate and that otherwise I would be more precise—
§ Mr. Hooley
According to the figures supplied by the Commonwealth Office to the House of Commons Library, I understand that the total in East Africa altogether is 187,000. As we are considering only Kenya and only those in Kenya who might be likely to come, surely it is absurd to claim a figure of 200,000 in this context?
§ Mr. Callaghan
My hon. Friend may have his figures. I have been asked, as the Minister, to give the best estimate which I can make and I promise him and my hon. Friend the Member for Southall that I am not just quoting a figure. I have made detailed inquiries, and the figure which I am giving is the one based on the best information which 1506 I can obtain. I do not know what other figures there are—I have heard 40,000 quoted—but I am talking about East Africa. My figure yesterday was for the whole of East Africa—
§ Mr. Callaghan
Kenya's is a variable figure, depending on the number of people either included or excluded. If one breaks down these figures, one faces substantial difficulties. But I ask the Committee to accept that the figure for East Africa as a whole is about—probably more than—200,000 and that is what we are dealing with—[An HON. MEMBER: "With dependants?"]—yes, that includes dependants, certainly. I also made that clear yesterday.
My hon. Friend the Member for Yarmouth (Dr. Gray) made a substantial point in a sincerely felt speech—that the Indian Government was threatening to take action against us. That is not true. I am glad to assure him and the Committee that I have had no information of that sort at all. Indeed, I find that there is a considerable degree of understanding, although disapproval, on the part of the Indian Government. I think that I am putting it fairly. They disapprove strongly of what we are doing, but I find also some understanding of the situation in which we are placed.
I thought also that, at one stage, my hon. Friend overstated the picture, and I should make it clear to him that we are not telling these people that they can never come. I agree with him that, ultimately, if they wish to do so, homes must be found for them in this country. They are our citizens. What we are asking them to do is to form a queue. We are asking that the Government under whose jurisdiction they are now living should recognise the difficulties which they are creating for them, for us and for their own Government, and we are saying "Let us see how we can work out this problem together".
But we are not saying to them, "You shall never come here". What we are trying to do is get some sense into this situation, which I hope we can get as a result of the Bill. I take the point of the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) and of my hon. Friend the Member for York that discussions will take 1507 place and I hope that they will take place quickly. I say that to hon. Members because it seems to me that this is the object of the Bill.
I was asked about the problem of naturalisation and also about our difficulties if people arrive here without an entry certificate from France. On the question of naturalisation, the Amendment would exclude from the extended operation of the control any alien who was naturalised in a colony before independence. That is the effect. This would mean that such a person will have had at least five years residence in the colony before naturalisation. He may or may not have had some period of residence in the United Kingdom before going to the colony, although the people to whom the hon. Member for Howden (Mr. Brian) referred this afternoon, I think, went straight from Europe to the colonies and therefore had no direct connection with this country, although they are now trying to build up such a connection. I do not say that in a denigratory sense. They have been naturally trying to build that connection.
But one must work on the assumption that every one of them had a much shorter period than five years in the United Kingdom or he would have been naturalised here. They must have gone—and most of them went—direct to Kenya. On the basis of the Bill, it seems to us that such people are clearly not United Kingdom belongers as much as colonial belongers.
In view of this—although I would not decide wholly on this basis, especially given the accusations of racial bias, which I repudiate—I would not think it right to include them in this Bill. I hope that those who are accusing me of racialism will take note that I am trying to deal with this not on the basis of whether a person went from Europe to Kenya but on the basis of where he principally belongs. Some will say that this is right and some will say that it is wrong, but it does make the principle more acceptable, and this is the best way of dealing with it.
I come now to a very difficult problem and one which has given me a lot of headaches. The Committee was right to 1508 press it, because we must face it. That is, what happens to the person who arrives here, despite these provisions, from France, having gone there first? The legal position is this. If they come without having obtained an entry certificate in East Africa or from our diplomatic representative in France—I say France because that was the example given earlier in the debate—they will be examined by the immigration officer just like any other Commonwealth citizen. Whether such a person would be admitted would depend on whether he could bring himself within any of the heads of immigration policy, for example as an entitled dependant, a visitor or a student.
If he could not bring himself within any of those heads for admission, admission would be refused. This is the situation which I and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary have to deal with almost every day, I regret to say. It is one of the most distasteful jobs which I have to do, to turn away people who do not fulfil the conditions—[An HON. MEMBER: "Where would you send him?"] As to where he would go, the aircraft or shipping line which brought him would be required legally to take him back whence he came and what happened to him thereafter would depend on his position under the law of the country to which he went and the attitude which might be adopted by any country to which he might seek admission.
I have stated the legal position—[Interruption.] I defer to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget). I have stated it as given to me and as I understand it. I would point out something which I do not think is generally recognised in the debates, although, of course, the Committee is concerned with the law. But a considerable measure of discretion is vested in the Home Secretary, which he exercises, in these matters. In this executive task which I have to undertake, I frequently find that I have been given the discretion to deal with such cases. My hon. Friend and I spend a great deal of time in anxious cogitation on a number of cases of this sort. My cogitation about this sort of person would be no less than about the others and would probably be a great deal more.
I cannot go further than that. I have stated the law, as I was asked to do. I 1509 hope that it is an accurate statement of the law: if not, someone will get into trouble. If it is, then I only want to say that I would expect to use the discretion with which I have been vested in this matter.
I beg the Committee to believe me when I say, on this question of appeals, that I am setting up a body and that later we will introduce Wilson to stand between the Home Secretary—[Laughter.] We are bringing in the Wilson Committee Report to stand between me and my decision and the entry of these immigrants. I hope that the Committee will not misunderstand me when I say that I welcome ii as a shield. I believe that it will save me from a great deal of criticism when it comes into force. However, I would not want the Committee to believe that in my view it will make more compassionate the treatment of the people who are coming here, and that this is what it is all about.
I know the strong view of the Committee and I am expressing my view about it, having seen it in action and knowing the way in which my hon. Friend and I and my predecessors have approached this problem. I will bring it in, bat I want to tell the Committee in advance of that legislation that we shall continue to exercise the powers that are vested in us in the interests of human decency and compassion where it is necessary to do so.
§ Mr. James Johnson
I do not wish to embarrass my right hon. Friend too much. It is my recollection—and perhaps it is that of the Committee—that his hon. Friend went further earlier this afternoon when asked a similar question.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I was unfortunately not able to be here when my hon. Friend made his statement. That was the time when I had to leave the Committee. I do not know whether or not he went further, but I am sure that he and I are agreed about what we should do. If not there will be trouble again. It will be settled on the kind of basis I have been describing, whether or not the exact words my hon. Friend used were the same as mine.
§ Mr. Paget rose—1510
§ Mr. Callaghan
I hope that my hon. and learned Friend does not wish to intervene on a point of law.
§ Mr. Callaghan
Yes, I would be interested in it, but I am not sure how far the Committee would be interested in it at this time.
§ Mr. S. C. Silkin
I am sure that much of what my right hon. Friend has said will allay many of the fears expressed by my hon. Friends. However, may I urge him to go just one stage further and give an assurance that in exercising the High Commissioner's discretion in the granting of entry certificates, which my right hon. Friend has explained clearly, the High Commissioner will not have any fixed numerical limit in any one period?
§ Mr. Callaghan
I wish that I could give that assurance, but I cannot. If we are to get meaningful discussions about this policy, it is important that there should be some known figure at the outset. I have indicated—I cannot go over the whole argument again—that this is not a fixed figure but a flexible one that can be altered in accordance with a number of considerations, some of which were advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for York. The quota is not fixed and in my view it should not remain fixed. However, I am certain that the only alternative to having a fixed quota would be to have something which, because of its very elasticity, would not bite on the particular situation, and, therefore, I must, I am afraid, stick to a figure in present circumstances.
I have two other important points to make. First, in view of the anxiety which the Committee feels and which is shared by everyone, we have had a real debate today, as we did yesterday. There has not been a sort of taking up of positions but a searching examination of words, consciences and hearts so that we may find the best way over this problem. I am not sure whether the Committee fully realises that we will have an opportunity of going over all these problems again under the Expiring Laws Continuance Act, because this will be part 1511 of the expiring laws which must be renewed again by Parliament in the autumn. This will, and properly, give us an opportunity of reviewing the matter once more and seeing where we are getting.
Secondly—and here I perhaps exceed my responsibility—I would remind the Committee that we have had a long debate about this. A lot still remains to be done, although I know the anxieties that are felt by a great many hon. Members on this issue. I hope that they will forgive me when I say that I think that we have had a number of frustrated Second Reading speeches from yesterday. Perhaps mine is one of them. I understand that there is not to be a Division called by the mover of the Amendment and I therefore ask the Committee if it considers, in view of the length of time that we have spent on this matter, whether we may very soon reach a conclusion on this Amendment so that we may move on to some of the other very important issues which must also be thrashed out.
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (St. Marylebone)
I hope that the Committee will yield to the right hon. Gentleman's persuasion because we will have other opportunities later of raising at least some of the questions involved. I apologise at the outset for not having been present during the whole of the debate.
When people say, as hon. Members on both sides of the argument have said, including my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher), that they welcome the fact that this is a wrecking Amendment, I think that those who voted for the Second Reading yesterday, as I did, are entitled to take them at their word and say that those who conscientiously voted for the Second Reading must recognise the Amendment for what it is.
At this point I address my remarks to the Amendment and to nothing else. It would wreck not only the Bill but the principal Act because if one reads it carefully one sees that it would not only remove the control which is proposed in the Bill but, because the Clause to which it is an Amendment is part of, and an Amendment to, the principal Act, it would wreck any sort of immigration control on Commonwealth citizens. This may be the reason why the Liberal Party is not pressing it to a Division.
1512 I share the view of the Home Secretary that this is not an occasion for frustrated Second Reading speeches, but I regret that my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton, and the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Dr. Gray), talked again about racism and racialism. Indeed, my hon. Friend went so far as to say that the Bill was racism "naked and unashamed". He does a real disservice to the English language and political reality by using wild and, with respect, irresponsible words of that kind.
Neither the Home Secretary nor I are, I believe, racists. The very fact that my hon. Friend the Member for Howden (Mr. Bryan) pointed out that a number of people of German, Australian, South African and European descent generally will be caught by this Measure as much as the Asians proves that it is not a racialist Bill. It is not, in my judgment, an objectionable thing to put forward criteria which do not introduce the question of race. I do not think that it is racialist to insert into the Bill provisions which recognise the special position of those who have family connections with this country. I believe that every civilised country would do that.
I am absolutely sure that the right hon. Gentleman is right to say that the real underlying hope that we must have in introducing this legislation is to make the Kenya Government discuss the matter very carefully with Her Majesty's representatives. My hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton talked as though Kenyanisation were something quite different from Africanisation. I do not think that it is. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) says that it is, but I am not so sure.
In my lifetime—not, perhaps, so much in the lifetime of the right hon. Gentleman—we have lived through a very considerable period of unemployment. We know by experience what unemployment means. Never once, as far as I know, under successive Governments, in the period between the wars did we allow unemployment to develop into xenophobia—and we should have been absolutely insane had we allowed ourselves to do so.
The idea that we can find work for an out-of-work miner by turning a shopkeeper out of the country has absolutely 1513 no relationship at all to economic reality. The idea—we all have it, and why should we not have it?—that we should give some kind of preference in economic matters to our own people—which, no doubt, underlies Kenyanisation—and that we can create work for someone in our own country by depriving someone else with special skill, special enterprise, special abilities, of his chance to earn a living, is not only inhuman, because it is inhuman if that person has been living there for two or three generations, as is the case here, but is also economically absurd. To yield to it is to yield to demogogy, and not to common sense—
§ Mr. Hogg
It works in every way, if it is applied honestly.
We have every right to say that the proper answer for Britain is to persuade these Asians and the Kenya Government that the right thing is for the Kenya Asians to stay put, if they can.
The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary was also right to say that our approach to the problem of what to do if people will not listen either to humanity or to common sense must be based on principles different from those of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act as applied now. I have tried to persuade my colleagues—not always, at first sight, successfully, but I shall continue to persuade them, if I can—that the basis of dealing with this problem must be one of humanitarianism and not one of capability of employment. That means that we cannot apply to this problem principles which we have been applying from experience in the other Commonwealth immigrant legislation.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that at the end of the day we have to trust him, up to a point, to apply humanitarian principles in what is otherwise an insoluble situation. The position of Home Secretary is one of the most difficult and embarrassing positions a man can hold. I remember—and I do not think that I am divulging a confidence—that when I wrote to congratulate the then Mr. Henry Brooke on becoming Home Secretary, I pointed out to him that in my experience it was the one job in which one could be ruined whilst in bed at night. Things go wrong whilst one is innocently asleep.
1514 We can trust the right hon. Gentleman. I am not sure that he would use his discretion in the same way that I would use my discretion, but we must trust him to use his discretion as fairly as he can. For that reason, I am with him on this issue. I am aware of the danger that I might become a carbon copy of the right hon. Gentleman, but I try to express myself in a different way.
§ Mr. St. John-Stevas
On a point of order, Mr. Brewis. A point has been made by the Home Secretary asking for a curtailment of the debate. Many of us have sat here for two days waiting to explain our position. Some of my hon. Friends and I who voted against the Second Reading consider this Clause the nub of the whole Bill. Your predecessors in the Chair—
§ Mr. St. John-Stevas
—have allowed a very wide-ranging debate on this Amendment. While I and my hon. Friends are willing to leave this point, I ask if it is the intention of the Chair to have a debate on the Motion, That the Clause stand part of the Bill, because if there is no debate on that Motion we shall be obliged to exercise our rights on this Amendment.
§ The Temporary Chairman
I cannot inform the hon. Member whether there will be such a debate or not.
§ Mr. Henig
I do not want to take up the time of the Committee for very long because I appreciate the force of what my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has said. On the other hand, I think one may reply that this is most important legislation. This is a Bill with seven Clauses and there are many Amendments. The Government have suggested that it should go through Committee in one day's Sitting. That suggestion might have been opposed, but it was not. Therefore, if this Sitting goes on and we continue to talk on these Amendments, I do not think my right hon. Friend should hold us completely responsible for that.
I appreciate that, in language and tone, my right hon. Friend has made some concessions today compared with the general tone of speeches from the Front Bench yesterday. I am a little 1515 happier now, although I am not completely satisfied. The specific point that is worrying many of us and which drove many of us to vote against the Bill last night is in relation to this Clause. These are British subjects in Kenya. They are facing a situation in which Kenyanisation has been pursued for some months and they have been seeking to enter this country. The legislation being passed in this Clause means that in future there is to be a stiff quota. I hope my right hon. Friend can go a little further towards alleviating what will happen to these people if their living conditions in Kenya become quite impossible and if they reach the kind of conditions under which we would not like people in this country to live. My right hon. Friend has not answered that. He has said, "We will be flexible and humanitarian", but he has made quite clear that he is sticking to the number of 1,500 vouchers per year. On the evidence of the last few months since Kenyanisation began that is not sufficient.
I wish to make two specific points which have not yet been made. When people ask, "Where do these people belong?" and when they say, "They do not belong here", I think they are guilty of trying to deny things which have happened in the past. Many of these people have been educated in the English language and English customs and often they have had an English culture imposed on them. From almost every point of view their connections with this country have been greater than with India, Pakistan or some of the countries on which we would like to fob off our own problem. This problem arises because once we had an Empire and now that Empire is being wound up. While we had that Empire, we gained some advantages from it. I should not like to think that not only did we exploit people in Imperialist days but that we exploit them still.
My second point is that people who hold British passports are British-protected persons. I should like to know what will happen if those people, denied jobs and a proper living in Kenya or any other country, go to a British consul and say to him, Look after me; help me." The one thing he cannot do is allow them to come to this country. In 1516 that case, it seems that British protection amounts to very little.
Had I been allowed to do so, I should have welcomed the opportunity to move my own Amendment, in page 1, line 8, to leave out ' and fulfils ' and insert:' where that person is a citizen also of any other country, he shall fulfil '.although it is covered to some extent by the present Amendment. What I should like is an Amendment to ensure that the people who we are putting under restrictions are those who have genuine claims to dual nationality, that is, nationality or citizenship of another country apart from this country. I am seriously worried about the smaller group within the total to whom the Bill applies, that is, those who have citizenship of this country only.
I realise that my right hon. Friend is in great difficulty. Perhaps. if he had thought of some of the difficulties in advance, the Bill as it is would not have been introduced, or other action could have been taken. I do not know. But now we have the Bill. It is most unfortunate, and I recognise the Home Secretary's plight. Nevertheless, the House of Commons owes it to holders of British passports who have no other nationality to recognise that they are relying on a British pledge although they are now living in another country.
Even if he cannot, as he explained. make a public statement in the House. will my right hon. Friend make clear, that, in the event of there being real discrimination against these people, we shall fulfil our responsibilities, that we would not look all round the world for someone else to do it for us? I would like my right hon. Friend to make that clear to these people, to their leaders, some of whom are now in London, assuring them that they can confidently accept that we are not depriving them of their citizenship, although it may look like that, and they still have an absolute right to enter this country, the Government's purpose being merely to try to phase the process. Let him say that, if it appears that conditions in Kenya or other countries deteriorate and there is a rush of people trying to obtain entry by means which will then be illegal, we shall revert back and be prepared to undertake our full responsibilities towards these people.
1517 I put that request to my right hon. Friend. I know that he has been doing a lot of what I would call "double entendre-ing" in what he has had to say. I appreciate the reasons for that, but I should like to think that, behind the scenes, and in his contacts with these terribly worried and frightened people, he could assure them that they had no need to fear what was being done by the country they have looked to for so long, the country to which they belong, no less than we do, because they have British passports. I want them to be confident that, in the ultimate extremity, we shall not let them down.
§ Mr. Tim Fortescue (Liverpool, Garston)
My pretext for intervening in the debate is that in 1948, when the British Nationality Act was passed, I was responsible for the Immigration and Naturalisation Department in Kenya. Whatever may have been said yesterday about whether the implications of that Act were understood in the Colonies, they were certainly understood by me and by everyone I met and talked to in that Colony at the What the then Labour Government were trying to do was obvious. They were trying to establish a real Commonwealth of this country and the Colonies in which there was free, interchangeable citizenship between all the territories and in which people could move from one territory to another with freedom and ease. People who say that that was not understood at the time do not know what was going on in the colonial territories.
My reason, apart from the pretext, for intervening in the debate is that Clause I is utterly repugnant to me. I voted against the Bill last night. I shall vote against the Clause today. In the last few minutes, as a result of two eloquent and persuasive speeches from the Front Benches, the heart of the debate has moved somewhat away from the point about which so many of us feel so strongly, that point being that the intention of the Bill, as has been said over and over again, is to deprive holders of United Kingdom passports of some of the rights inherent in those passports, above all the basic right of freedom to enter this country at will.
Not many have suggested that no pledge was given to the Kenya Asians that they would be able to enter this 1518 country at will. That has been said by one or two right hon. and hon. Members. I would point out that the pledge was given in the most concrete form by the issue of a passport, a piece of paper, to those people, which made that pledge explicit. Nobody who was given that passport was led to believe that it did not include the right to come here whenever he or she wanted.
I hope and believe that most hon. Members have never had occasion to be worried about their national status. I have. I was stupid enough to find myself in Hong Kong in December, 1941, and not to be able to leave until September, 1945. As those hon. Members who have been in such an unfortunate position will know, when one is taken prisoner one has with one the most inconsequential articles which during the coming months and years assume a very great importance because they are relics of a previous life, which one does not know whether or not one will see again.
I happened at that time to have with me my passport, one of the things I had snatched up in a great hurry when the Japanese arrived in Hong Kong. During those years I treasured that document and regarded it as a sort of talisman which was literally my passport to some sort of life after the war was over. The Japanese did not encourage us to believe that there would be very much in that life. Having that piece of paper, that document which each of us who had it took out and pored over night after night, meant to us something which I believe very few holders of British passports have experienced. It was something we could treasure and hang on to, something which was the future.
That is one small way in which I can try to convey to the Committee exactly what the Kenya Asians now feel. In a way, their passports are their sheet anchor. They mean to them something more than hon. Members can possibly understand unless they have been unfortunate enough to go through the same kind of experience. That example may help hon. Members to understand exactly what we are doing to these people.
The Government and the Home Secretary are on the hook tonight, and nobody has suggested a practical way in which 1519 they can get off it. I should like to suggest something which can be done, which would be entirely within the Government's power to do without legislation, and which would, I believe, as a package deal, bring about an acceptable situation without breaking our pledges to anybody. The first thing to do would be to withdraw the Clause.
Here I shall digress for a moment. The Home Secretary was asked yesterday what was happening about the issue of passports in former Colonial Territories and all over the world to people who would not qualify to come to this country under the terms of the Bill. Are those passports still being issued? Have the High Commissioners and the consulates been instructed to continue to issue passports which we know, under the terms of the Bill, will not be honoured? If they are still be issued, immediate instructions should be issued to the High Commissioners and consulates throughout the world to stop issuing them. That would at once reduce the problem to measurable proportions. There would no longer be the emotional talk of 4 million in Hong Kong, 700,000 in Mauritius and goodness knows how many people elsewhere who might one day be eligible to come to this country on United Kingdom passports. If these passports were now issued only under the terms of the Clause to those who have a demonstrable connection with this country, the bogey of enormous numbers which has been waved over our heads during the debate would cease to exist. That is the second thing that the Home Secretary could do, again by administrative action immediately and without legislation.
The third thing that he could do, also administratively and without legislation, is to announce that no more entry vouchers will be issued for anyone except the holders of United Kingdom passports in these places—that for a temporary period the only people Who will be admitted to this country are those with United Kingdom passports. The fourth thing that he could do is announce that no restrictions will be placed on those in East Africa who want to come and who have passports.
I believe that the combination of these four measures would so steady the situa- 1520 tion that the bogey of enormous numbers of immigrants arriving here over a short period would disappear. I commend this package deal seriously to the right hon. Gentleman. The extraordinary thing about this debate is that everyone seems to have assumed that the Bill is the only way to solve the situation. Many right hon. and hon. Members have tried to explain that it will be administered humanely and that every possible care will be taken to see that no one suffers, but the basic objection we all have to the Bill is that we are breaking our word. The course I suggest would not break our word to anyone and would be equally effective in solving the problem.
§ Mr. Christopher Price
I represent a constituency which swung very much against the national pattern in 1964, largely on the immigration issue. I voted for Second Reading last night because I know from my experience in Birmingham the sort of problems that it and cities like it have in coping when immigration on this scale is not dispersed over the country as a whole but is concentrated, not so much in cities, but in very small areas of particular cities. For this reason, I accept that we must have legislation.
But I do not feel able to vote for Clause 1. I must vote against it because I cannot accept that legislation embodying a racial discriminatory principle like this should be put on the Statute Book. In spite of the fact that we all accept that there are no racialist feelings in the authors of the Bill or among hon. Members, I feel that legislation of this kind produces an atmosphere, particularly in cities like Birmingham, which have this problem to cope with, which undoes any good one might do by restricting numbers.
I have just been given a telegram from the Birmingham Liaison Committee for Immigrants, which has done more than any other city immigrant organisation in terms of integration. The telegram says that the Committee believes that Clause 1 is morally wrong and considers that its passage will destroy its work in Birmingham for integration. It urges me to vote against it.
I cannot see why, if this is an emergency Bill to deal with a desperately urgent situation, we must thereby exempt 1521 people whose grandfathers and fathers happened to be born in this country.
If this is such a grave emergency, the only condition under which the Government should have put this Bill forward, breaking pledges as it does, would have been on the basis that it treated everyone in these categories exactly alike. To create this "kith and kin" category, established in our legislation for the first time, maybe defensible by the Front Bench in desperate circumstances today, but augurs so seriously for any legislation which may follow that even though I know the needs of Birmingham, this principle must be resisted and I intend to resist it.
§ Mr. David Steel
I am sorry that the Home Office Ministers have departed before I have had a chance to wind up on this Amendment. I hope that they will return before I have finished. The Amendment has done the job which we intended it to do. It has provided a focus for the kind of issues we had in mind and has probed into the Government's thinking in this matter in the way in which we had intended. It is not our intention to call a Division on it.
There is one issue which I would like to take up with the Home Secretary, relating to something that he said on the television programme "This Week" last night. This is the point of departure, in principle, for which criticism should be levelled at the Government. In answer to a question about whether he felt bound by the undertakings given to the citizens of Kenya in 1963, he said that no Government could expect to bind their successors. That was a disgraceful thing to say in this context.
Let no one escape the fact that this is not a question of a Labour Party Government pursuing a different political policy from a Conservative Party Government. It is a question of the British Government breaking a principle which has been upheld by every British Government and every party over generations, namely the principle of the right of United Kingdom citizens holding British passports to have free access in and out of this country. It is not a question of shuffling off and saying to the public "We may change our mind about something that a previous Government did." That remark was unworthy of the right 1522 hon. Gentleman, and I hope that we will hear nothing more of it in future debates.
We may have wrung a considerable concession from the Government, but I am not absolutley certain and I want clarification. I do not want further speeches on this particular Amendment, if that is the wish of the Committee, but I hope that opportunity will be taken by the Government, on Clause 2, or during the debate on the Motion, That the Clause stand part, to clarify what has been said. I understood the Under-Secretary to say that he could not foresee a situation in which a British Government would refuse entry into this country of any person who had been expelled from Kenya and who had no other right of entry to any other country.
He said this quite clearly. After that, I intervened and read out this letter, which is the form issued by the Kenya Government to those non-citizens whose working rights are being terminated. I asked him what would happen in the case of this individual, who has been asked to leave Kenya, with his dependants, by 30th June. The Under-Secretary replied that he should go to the British High Commission and apply for a voucher to come here. These two statements are slightly contradictory.
It is only a matter of time before Mr. X, who has to leave before 30th June, will be prosecuted by the courts and expelled if he has not left by that time. He will come then into the category which I understood the Under-Secretary to say would be accepted automatically by the British Government into this country. It is important that this point is cleared up, because it cannot be the intention of the Government that all people who receive this form, if they are not lucky enough to get a voucher on application, should be taken to court and for this Government then to say that if they have gone through the legal proceedings and have been expelled, they will be allowed to come in, but otherwise not. If the Government are serious in saying that they will not refuse entry into this country of anyone forced to leave Kenya, it would have been sensible to have said this in the statement last week. A lot of the people in this country now would not have come. They came because they believed that after the passing 1523 of this Bill they would not be able to get here, even if they had nowhere else to go, if they were not within the 1,500 quota system.
§ Mr. S. C. Silkin
The hon. Gentleman will appreciate from what I have said that I have a great deal of sympathy with what he is saying. Would not he agree that the question of the entry voucher is a matter of formality? The real question is whether there will be a fixed limit to the number of people allowed in. If people are to be allowed in on humanitarian grounds and on grounds of need, and there is no fixed limit, it does not matter whether they have to get an entry certificate in Kenya or not.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Steel
I do not entirely agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman, for this reason. I do not like to haggle about fixed numbers; that is a mistake. But I believe that if the Government mean that those expelled from Kenya or required to leave Kenya who are British citizens and holders of British passports will not be refused entry here, they should say so clearly, because it will have an immediate effect in stemming the flood even before the Bill becomes law. It will relieve many people's mental suffering. That is why I want the Solicitor-General to note what I am saying. There is an apparent contradiction in the two statements of the one Minister. This point must be cleared up later tonight and a very clear statement must be made on the Amendment which the hon. and learned Gentleman will move next.
While I am on the question of the requirements to leave Kenya, may I take up a point made by the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) which was touched on by the Home Secretary. It would be a mistake for us to believe that the Government of Kenya are embarking on a deliberate policy to expel all its non-citizens. That is not the case. It is dangerous to say that that is the case. The document issued by the department of immigration of the Kenya Government in Nairobi is similar to the documents which the Home Office in this country issues to non-citizens when their working time has expired.
On occasion, I have made representations to the Home Secretary, on behalf 1524 of employers in my constituency, with employees who are not citizens of this country and whose working permit has expired and therefore they have been required by the Home Office to leave. On occasion, the policy is interpreted liberally and the Home Office says "We will grant an extension". But some of these people have not been temporarily working in the country but have been there all their lives and, in some cases, for generations. Unfortunately, in a sense, we created this problem by giving them the option of taking Kenya citizenship. The Kenya Government are treating them as non-citizens. The Kenya Trade Licensing Act discriminates between citizens and non-citizens, but not on a racial basis.
§ Mr. Hogg
The hon. Gentleman must not deceive himself about this. There is all the difference in the world between a permit given to a person who comes to this country to work for a limited time and a notice to quit given to a man whose grandfather came about 50 years ago, for whatever reason. To do one is a perfectly normal act of administration. The other must be and can only be described as an act of sheer inhumanity.
§ Mr. Steel
I took care to say that I accepted that there was a difference, but the latter Measure of the Kenya Government, and the fact that these people are in the peculiar position of having been born in the country but are not citizens of it, were acts of our creation at the time of the 1963 independence Act. We cannot escape from that responsibility. I do not defend the Kenya Government's policy. I am saying that it is dangerous to represent it as being something wholly unusual or to believe that they desire to get rid of all their non-citizens. That is not the policy.
Moreover, I think the idea that if we take away the quota figure we then encourage the Kenyan Government to expel more people is fallacious. I do not think the Kenyan Government's policy of Kenyanisation will in any way be influenced by the policy of this Government over the numbers of people they will take. I have said before, and I say it again, that I wish that the pace of the policy of Kenyanisation would slow down, but I am certain 1525 that the rate at which it advances has nothing to do with our legislation on immigration into this country. I hope talks will take place between the Government and the Government of Kenya to ascertain precisely how many people are likely in the near future to be affected by this kind of notice, and then the Government will know a little better how many people they are likely to be required to take into this country by rights which they have by virtue of holding United Kingdom passports.
I have raised the critical question of trying to get clarification of the statement we had earlier from the Home Department and I hope that the Solicitor-General will respond to that later.
My final point is simply to ask the Home Secretary about the people who come to this country without entry permits. He said that the airline is legally responsible—if I understood him correctly—to return the citizen. [Interruption.] I am going on what the Home Secretary said. There will be further argument: about this later from the Solicitor-General. The Home Secretary said that the airline was legally obliged to return such a person, who came here without an entry permit, to the country whence he came.
The Solicitor-General will remember the example I gave in the debate last night, a case which was not answered then, and which the Home Secretary was answering now. It is the case of somebody who, with a British passport, leaves Kenya—in the example I gave, by Air France—and switches planes in Paris and comes from Paris to the United Kingdom. If Air France is obliged to return him, where will Air France return him to? If it were to take him back to France, where he had no right to stay, the airline would be told, "Take him back to London. He has a British passport." That person could be in a permanent state of flying backwards and forwards the whole time. I do not think the Government have answered that question satisfactorily, and I hope it will be answered.
§ Mr. Eric Lubbock (Orpington)
Has my hon. Friend considered what might happen with Irish International Airlines if large numbers of Kenyans arrived in Dublin and they took the boat from 1526 Dublin to Holyhead? Would they incur the penalties provided under this Bill?
§ Mr. David Steel
I accept the illustration my hon. Friend gives as being another example in quantity of the difficulty we get ourselves into.
§ Mr. McNamara
Following the question by the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock), we who know about Ireland know about the border which divides that country. People can cross it, and could come to this country in that way.
§ Mr. David Steel
That strengthens my argument and extends still further the difficulties which the Government have to consider.
It will be my intention to seek leave to withdraw the Amendment, but I do not wish to curtail the rights of hon. Members who have sat here a long time waiting to speak in this debate, and I shall ask leave to withdraw the Amendment when the House wishes me to do so.
§ Mr. Hooley
My right hon. Friend has been bandying words in what I think is a rather dangerous manner. He gave certain figures which he suggested were involved in presenting this Bill to the House. Of course, figures are important, because, as I understand the Government's case, the Government are doing something which is repugnant to them, and having claimed that they wish not to do this kind of thing, they have said it is a difficult decision to take; but the basis of their case is that we are faced with a situation so appalling, so overwhelming, so catastrophic that they had to go to the extent of repudiating a document of such fundamental importance as a British passport.
As honest and reasonable men we obviously must consider whether the Government's case is such that, where we are faced with this catastrophic situation which they represented to us, it can possibly justify an action so drastic as the repudiation of citizenship.
We need to look a little more closely at some of the figures which have been bandied about, and we should not accept too lightly the statements which have been made by Government spokesmen. Yesterday, my right hon. Friend the 1527 Home Secretary talked about 1 million people. Today he talked about 200,000. The fact is that, if one takes account of all who hold United Kingdom passports and are normally domiciled overseas, according to figures supplied by the General and Migration Department of the Commonwealth Office, which presumably is an authoritative body, there are about 330,000 such people in the whole world. That amounts to three-quarters of the normal migration of Commonwealth citizens to this country in a year. It is true that another million people have dual citizenship, but we are not concerned with them tonight. We are concerned with those whose only entitlement is citizenship of the United Kingdom and who, for practical purposes, are stateless if they are denied the right to come here since they will have no legal right to go to any other country.
We are told that we are faced by a "flood" of immigrants and that that is the immediate justification for this legislation. I have received an estimate from a body known as the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants to the effect that there may be something of the order of 40,000 people of Asian origin in Kenya who wish to come here. That number represents about 10 per cent. of the normal migration to this country from the Commonwealth.
In recent years the total migration from the Commonwealth has been between 430,000 and 440,000. That means that we are talking about an additional 10 per cent. on the flow which has come here each year since 1965. I should not have thought that an increase of 10 per cent. on that figure was what the Home Secretary called an overwhelming, catastrophic "invasion" which justified a Bill of this Draconian import repudiating the validity of a British passport.
The figures can be looked at in another way. We have heard a great deal about an inflow of 440,000, but what about the outflow. In recent years, the net balance has been declining. In 1967, it fell from 70,000 to 36,000. Even if the whole 40,000 insisted on coming this year, which in itself is an estimate, still we should be left with a net balance of Commonwealth immigration which was no greater than the number that we took in 1964.
1528 Those are the real figures that we are discussing. We are not talking about a million or 200,000. According to figures supplied by the General and Migration Department of the Commonwealth Office, in East Africa there are only 187,000 people who have a legal entitlement. That is the outside limit of people throughout East Africa. It has nothing to do with the number of people who may want to come now or at any time in the future. It is simply a number of people with a certain legal entitlement. What we are faced with at the moment, and the Government's justification for this very sweeping legislation, is a figure of about 40,000 which, added to the normal net migration which occurred last year, could give a total net balance of immigration in 1968 scarcely exceeding, if at all, the net balance which we had in 1964. It is open to my hon. Friend to challenge these figures.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Ennals
My hon. Friend said that I could challenge the figures, and I do. Apart from the general figure which my hon. Friend gave, concerning the whole of East Africa the best estimate we have, which is very little different from the assessment of the Kenya Government, is 130,000. The Kenya Government say that there are about 120,000 in Kenya in this position, but our estimate is nearer 130,000. The gap is not very wide. No one could prove that every one would wish to come to this country. All we can say is that that is the figure of those holding our citizenship and passports who have not opted for Kenyan citizenship and for whom, therefore, this possibility exists.
§ Mr. Hooley
My hon. Friend is entitled to his opinion, but it is wholly unreal for him to argue that these 120,000 people intend to migrate to this country in the near future. For example, of 750 doctors practising in Kenya 695 are of Asian origin. It seems totally inconceivable that the Kenya Government would desire to bring any kind of pressure on that particular category of Kenya Asians to induce them to leave the country. There are many other professional categories, too.
My examination of these figures leads me to the conclusion that the Government have allowed themselves to be 1529 over-persuaded by certain pressures that a particular situation exists, which has been wildly exaggerated. But numerically the situation is not such to justify legislation of this character. If this legislation were justified, the provision within Clause 1 which clearly discriminates between those of Asian and European origin—the so-called grandfather Clause—is totally repugnant to the kind of thing that I would like to see on the Statute Book.
§ Mr. William Baxter (West Stirlingshire)
On a point of order. This matter has now been ventilated for a fair length of time. May I move the closure at this stage?
§ Mr. St. John-Stevas
I deplore that attempted action by the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. W. Baxter). I make no apology for speaking at this late hour. It is no fault of mine that it is sc late. I have sat here for a total of 13 hours on two days. I make no great point about that, because many hon. Members have done likewise.
I do not think that I have any earth-shattering pronouncements to make, but this is a vitally important matter. In this country we enjoy government by discussion. Back benchers have very few rights. We have one or two, and one of them is to talk. When I hear Front Bench members on either side who have spoken on each day asking us to curtail our remarks, I say that I would be more impressed by example than by precept. Nevertheless, in deference to the lateness of the hour, I shall not omit my remarks, but make them as succinct as I normally do.
§ Mr. St. John-Stevas
That is advice which my right hon. and learned Friend could proffer to me. but I should be unable to comply. I am glad of that practical confirmation of his care for family unity.
I think that we must be grateful to the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk 1530 and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) for tabling this Amendment, and thus allowing a wide-ranging debate to take place.
I want to say a few words about the attitude of the Liberal Party to the Amendment, and to this issue in general. I do not particularly like Liberals. I must make that plain. Queen Victoria said, "I do not like bishops" and I have the same sort of feeling about Liberals. I speak from experience.
§ Mr. Lubbock rose—
§ Mr. St. John-Stevas
I shall not give way. If the cap fits, the hon. Gentleman can wear it. I speak from experience in my constituency, where I have found the Liberals most tiresome and troublesome. But having said that, I would like to pay tribute to them as a party. They have made a stand over this Bill, which in my opinion, justifies their existence. With that qualified tribute, I pass to the Home Secretary.
I sympathise with the difficult position in which the right hon. Gentleman finds himself. It would be absurd to suggest that he—or other members of the Government—was racialist in intention in any way. If there is criticism of the Bill as a racialist Measure, I think that the criticism is not of the right hon. Gentleman's motives, but of the effects of this legislation, and it is important to be quite clear in one's mind about that distinction.
But if the Home Secretary is having a difficult time, he deserves it, because he has introduced the Bill. It is a bad Bill, and if one introduces a bad Measure, one must expect to be criticised. If it is a Bill which concerns the fundamental rights and liberties of the subject, one must expect to be criticised with all the rigour that the House of Commons can command.
My criticism of the Home Secretary is not of his motives, because I am in no position to judge them. I agree with the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) who put his finger on the problem when he referred to the statistical aspects of the Bill. The whole case for the Bill is a statistical one. The country has been hypnotised, has been panicked, by the thought of numbers, and one of the difficulties in which back benchers find themselves, however painstaking we may be, is that it is almost impossible to get at 1531 the source of adequate statistics in this regard.
My criticism of the Home Secretary is that he has come to the House statistically barren. I do not normally care very much for statistics, but in this case, with this Bill, the whole issue rests on numbers, and we ought to have a much fuller statement from the right hon. Gentleman, or the Parliamentary Secretary, than these rather vague, and sometimes contradictory, statements about the number of people involved.
My estimate, which I have drawn from the Institute of Race Relations, is that the number involved in Kenya itself—this is the vital problem—is about 100,000, including all dependants. That is not a very large number. Even if one takes into account the others in East Africa, my information is that the number there is about 60,000. When one considers that people are coming in from the Commonwealth at a rate of 60,000 a year, does this figure really justify a Bill making a fundamental constitutional change of this order? Surely we must ask ourselves, was there not some other way of dealing with the problem? The burden of proof is on the Home Secretary and his colleagues in this debate, and they have notably failed to discharge it.
I would put to the Home Secretary a small point but one about which I feel strongly. This is unacceptable and repellent legislation, but let us not make the situation even worse by use of a terminology which to me is even more repellent. The Home Secretary used the word "belongers". I find that word utterly repellent in this context. I hope that we shall not use this as part of the jargon in discussing this issue. Are we to have the word "belongers" stamped on our passports and "non-belongers" stamped on those of other people? This is a repellent description and I hope that it can vanish from our discussions. That would be a small gain.
I want to return to the fundamental principles of this Clause, which, after all, vitiates the whole Bill. The objection to the Clause is based on two points. The first is the constitutional point, which is that the holders of United Kingdom passports issued by Britain—I stress the words "issued by Britain"—for the first time will have their basic right of entry 1532 of this country taken away. That is the point.
The Commonwealth Immigrants Act affected Commonwealth passports and not British passports issued by Britain for citizens of the United Kingdom as such. That is the point which my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) never made clear in his speech—
§ Mr. St. John-Stevas
On these points of nationality, there is obviously room for different points of view—[An HON. MEMBER: "This is fact."] If it were merely a question of fact, there would be no lawyers in the country. I naturally treat the point of view of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) with all the respect which it should be accorded.
If this precedent is allowed to go unchallenged, what of the future? It will be open to any future Government to impose other conditions on holders of British passports. The rights and liberties of every citizen are threatened by this Bill. This is a breach of a fundamental constitutional principle. That is much more important than argument about whether this is a racialist or a non-racialist Bill. I certainly make no accusations of racialism against anyone, though I would not go so far as the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Christopher Price), who declared that no racialist sentiments animate the breast of any Member of the House. It would be strange if that were so, since the House is a reflection of the country. I make no accusation against the Home Secretary, and least of all against the Under-Secretary because I have reason to know—and I take this occasion to pay tribute to him—of his compassion and the help he has given me and other hon. Members when difficult racial problems have faced us in our constituencies.
Apart from the constitutional issue, a moral issue is involved. I am making 1533 no exclusive claim for morality on this. I am answerable for my own conscience and not for anyone else's. Other views have been expressed. For example, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone has expressed a different view and I am sure that his conscience is clear. If I had to answer for another conscience on the day of Judgment, I would be content to settle for that of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone who, throughout the debates on these difficult subjects, has made a noteworthy contribution to our discussions.
There can be no doubt that, most people as they look at the situation, feel that, as part of the settlement for Kenya independence, a right to opt for British citizenship, British passports and all the rights that go with that status and that document were given to Asians in Kenya and other citizens as well. There can be no doubt about that and I am glad that, at this point in my remarks, my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham has rejoined us because it seems that although he has made much of what he said and of the pledges he did not give—others, like my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. kin Macleod) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) have given diametrically opposed accounts of the situation. In fact all that dispute is totally irrelevant.
It does not need an exegesis in HANSARD to decide this point. If one gives a British passport, one gives all the rights that go with it, and if there is no statement in HANSARD about it, the reason is simply because nobody ever thought otherwise at the time. It was never brought up because it was presumed to be so. If one wants to get out of that, it is better to say, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet said, "Things have changed. We made this pledge and had this commitment, but we now cannot fulfil it", than to try to maintain a position that the pledge was never given in the first place.
I take a simple view of these matters, being essentially a simple person. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone used the analogy of the bank. To adopt that analogy and parallel it, I regard it rather like a cheque. I would not in private life 1534 consider dishonouring a cheque because it was inconvenient for me to pay out the money at a later date. I do not see that the position is any different in public life. It is not a question of colour but of honour, and we must each make our own stand on that.
It is true, turning from the issues of principle to the practical situation, that if the entire Asian population of East Africa descended here tomorrow it would be a disaster, both for Kenya and for us. A situation of panic has been created; there is panic in Kenya and here. There is fear in both places. We may have got ourselves into a situation when there is very little alternative now to this Bill, but one must consider the alternatives that were possible. I do not believe that the British people are united in support of this Measure. Such letters as I have received from my constituents prove that the majority of them want me to vote against the Bill.
The British people are very divided on this issue. They see the force of the moral obligation inherited from a previous Government—it would be strange, indeed, if the British people did not understand a moral obligation after it was shown to be there—but, as practical people, they say that we cannot sustain a sudden arrival of that nature. That is their dilemma. In that real dilemma of feeling, emotion and morality, the Government's job is to give the people a lead.
If the Prime Minister and the other members of the Government had at an earlier stage made a clear statement that they intended to honour their pledge but intended to make voluntary arrangements with the Kenya Government, this whole situation need not have arisen. Even now it is not too late to take such a course. There are alternatives. It is not a choice between breaking one's word and being flooded out with people with whom we cannot cope. It is sad that the Prime Minister and other leading political figures have not been able to give our people the moral lead to which they would undoubtedly have responded.
Looking at the situation in Kenya, I agree with my right hon. and learned Friend for St. Marylebone that the distinction between Kenyanisation and Africanisation is more theoretical than real. I regret it very much. The parallel 1535 I see with the position of the Asians in Kenya today is that of the Jews in Germany. It is a refugee problem. I do not suggest that the Asians will be put in gas chambers, and so on, but I do suggest that the motivation of those who are stirring hatred against the Asians in Kenya is similar to that of those who stirred up hatred against the Jews in Germany.
Let us remember another point—a minor point, but one that the House should remember. It is that one of the reasons why the Asians are so unpopular in Kenya is that, to their great credit, they refused to have anything to do with the obscenities and outrages of the Mau Mau some years ago in Kenya. That has been neither forgotten nor forgiven. I do not recall that because I want to make the situation more difficult, but if one is against racialism one must be consistent and condemn it wherever it occurs.
I am not one of those who hate the party opposite. I believe that Socialism is misguided and wrong. I am not a Socialist. I believe that the present Government are the most incompetent we have ever had. But I have a respect for the idealism which has animated the Labour movement as such. It is a different form of idealism from Conservative idealism, but, though I do not share it, I respect it. The one part of that idealism that I do share and respect is the concern for racial equality. It is not the least distressing part of this extremely distressing period we are in—this shameful period—that it should have been the party that has so often in the past taken a stand on these issues that should be adding this latest instalment of man's inhumanity to man.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
I rather think that I recognise the final words used by the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas). They are from a work written by an eminent and immortal constituent of mine—Robert Burns:Man's inhumanity to manMakes countless thousands mourn!I associate myself largely with the hon. Gentleman's enlightened views, and I hope that I do not embarrass him by saying that I agree with almost all he said. I have no racial problem in my con- 1536 stituency, so I am able to bring to this debate an independent and objective judgment. I cannot conceive that anybody from Kenya or anybody from any part of Asia could possibly hope to make a living in South Ayrshire. In my constituency there is only one Jew. The rest could not hope to survive in that hard climate and against that competition. I am the only hon. Member who can claim to have a 100 per cent. Jewish vote in my constituency because he votes for me.
The hon. Member for Chelmsford asked, was there not some other way? There is something to be said for that point of view. We are told about the flood of immigrants who are likely to come here from Kenya and Asia. The Asians are coming under criticism now. No one now talks about the Russians and those from other countries behind the Iron Curtain because they have become comparatively respectable. It is very difficult for me to understand why this flood of immigrants from Kenya wish to come to this unfortunate country. The eminent gentlemen who are called upon to go to Nairobi would do a service to stop this immigration if they told the simple facts about what is happening in this country at present.
They should be warned about the misery and horror that might come to Asians if they settled down in St. Marylebone, Bexley or Streatham. I am not talking politically. A picture is painted of these people rushing to this country. They seem to have an idea that Britain is an Eldorado. I do not think it is an Eldorado. If the true picture of what is happening in London at present were presented in its stark simplicity to people waiting to catch a plane in Nairobi they would ask themeslves, "Is this journey really necessary?" and decide to stay at home.
I travel on the tube with Asians, Africans and others. When we are in the tube train together we all belong to a multiracial society. When I come to Westminster I am treated very civilly by a gentleman who may have been born in Asia, and who certainly is coloured. The other night I travelled with him. My mind travels in certain grooves and I asked him, "What rent do you pay?" He said, "I pay £18 a week for rent." I said, "How on earth do you manage 1537 to pay that?" He said, "My wife has to work as well and I have to pay £4 extra for living in this part of London because I happen to be a coloured man." if the facts of what they are likely to meet when they come to Marylebone and Streatham and of what they will have to pay in rent were put to them, a good many of these people would say, "We had better stay under the Kenyatta Government".
We are told that these people represent middle-class society in Kenya. If the economic situation were made clear to them, I could not imagine any of them rushing to take up a room in the slums of Glasgow. There is a waiting list of about 150,000 in Glasgow now, and they would be 150,000-plus. They should, therefore, be told that Great Britain is not a country which they should rush into, without a great deal of premeditation. They should think twice and three times about it. If, instead of the Bill, we had a, "Don't come to Britain" campaign, giving the facts, the Home Secretary would not have such a distasteful task today.
The hon. Member for Chelmsford reminded me that there has been a certain motivation against foreigners. This is nothing new in the history of the House of Commons. About 150 years ago. as the Official Reports of those days show, Members were discussing the same thing. They were discussing how to stop the immigrant flow from Poland and Western Europe. There was a strong anti-Jew and anti-alien campaign at that time. Of course, Members did not say that they were anti-Jew. They said, "We do not think like that. We are not racialist at all. We do not hate the Jews. But economic conditions in the East End of London do not permit us to have any more immigrants coming to this country."
The House of Commons at that time was very enlightened. It allowed these people to come in. [An HON. MEMBER: "Liberal."] Liberal, yes. The Socialists had not arrived then. I ask the House of Commons to say today that an anti-foreigner attitude is a bad attitude. I take the case of the Jews. I shall not help my argument with the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) by saying that, if this principle 1538 had been embodied in legislation 100 years ago, Karl Marx would not have arrived in this country to write "Capital". Hon. Members opposite might say that it would have been a damn good thing if he had been kept out. But the most distinguished Tory Prime Minister of the last century was a Jew, Benjamin Disraeli.
The spirit which existed in those days, an ignorant anti-foreigner attitude to these problems, is an element in the motivation for this Bill. That is one reason why I voted against it last night. I remember the time when the Irish were under similar suspicion, when people said, "Let us not have Irish here". I am an immigrant, a Welsh aborigine living in Scotland. This anti-foreigner feeling can be expressed against the Irish, against the Jews, against the blacks, and it is now being expressed against the Asians.
The right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) conjured up other nightmares. He went even further. He started in advance an international campaign against the Chinese. He tried to make my blood curdle by asking what would happen in Hong Kong if the time came when the Chinese won the argument against us there and we had to face the problem of a million Chinese coming to this country—a bogey, bogey nightmare argument once again. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite are very anti-Chinese because they are anti-Communist. But supposing the Chinese Government succeeded in regaining Hong Kong, with or without a military conflict—we should have the same position—
§ Mr. Hughes
This is my last point, Sir Eric. I should not have dreamt of raising the matter if it had not been produced as an argument by the right hon. Member for Streatham. He asked what would happen if there were a situation similar to that in Kenya and 1 million Chinese from Hong Kong, who are now British subjects, decided to come here. That would be a pretty problem for us. I do not understand why hon. Members opposite, who believe that Communism is worse than death, would refuse to let the Chinese come here because they were 1539 running away from Communism. Therefore, hon. Members opposite are involved in a good many contradictions.
I am not influenced by the bogey, bogey scare stuff that emanates from the feverish brain of the right hon. Member for Streatham. I believe that there is some substance in the argument that in this matter the right hon. Gentleman has too much influence in the House, and that his policy has too much influence on the attitude and policy of the Government.
§ Sir J. Foster
I wanted merely to add one piece of statistics to the debate and to examine the number of people that the Bill would affect outside Africa. For example, 600,000 Tamils in Ceylon are citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies and their passports, if they applied to leave Ceylon, would have to be granted by the High Commission there.
There are two sources of such United Kingdom citizens, those who are real United Kingdom citizens because their passports are granted by the United Kingdom. The first source is something like the Kenya Independence Act where there is a special Statute and the ordinary operation of the British Nationality Act, 1948. Section 13 of that Act says that if a British subject is in a Commonwealth country which becomes independent, and that country passes a citizenship law which does not include him, he automatically becomes a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies whose passport will be granted by the United Kingdom. Because South Africa was in the Commonwealth when the Act was passed, many of the Indians in South Africa have a right to a United Kingdom passport.
I do not know the situation in Australia, but if the aborigines are not full Australian citizens they are all citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies. The argument cuts both ways. It magnifies the constitutional importance of the Clause and perhaps provides an argument for the Government to say that the peril might be all the greater.
§ Mr. A H. Macdonald (Chislehurst)
Are the Australian Government proposing to expel the aborigines? If not, what is the relevance of what the hon. and learned Gentleman is saying?
§ Sir J. Foster
I did not say that the Australian Government were going to do so, but the Bill affects a much larger number of people than has been suggested in the debate. It affects all citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies who became so automatically by the operation of Section 13 of the Act. That is an additional point against the Bill. While much of the speech of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire was amusing, one must feel desperately sorry for these people, and it is not really the case that they could be warned against coming here because they are going to have their living taken away from them and there is no other place for them to come except the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. McNamara
The hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) and I have much in common. He and I like bishops but neither of us would abort the Liberals. He quoted figures, as did my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley), and now we have the figures produced by the hon. and learned Member for Northwich (Sir J. Foster). We are in the position of having lies, damned lies and statistics.
But the point about all these figures is less important than the question of control, which in turn is not so important as the question of entry. I voted for the Second Reading because I believe that a measure of control is necessary. I believe this not because I want to see control in itself, but because of the problems which exist in our cities which cannot be ignored.
Having said that, I cannot accept this Clause as a whole, because if there is a problem of unemployment in our cities, people of European descent are going to add to it; if there is a shortage of housing, people of European descent are going to need houses; and if there is a strain on the social services, people of European descent will be putting a strain upon them. To argue that these Asians should not come because others, whose mothers came from Ireland come here is a bad argument. The point has been reached where one must either treat all people in exactly the same way or must not support this Clause.
I am particularly distressed that my right hon. Friend could not bring himself 1541 to make a point which I thought he was on the verge of making. I hoped he would say that, if these people in the end found themselves without jobs and homes, they could come here. I can understand that he wants to negotiate with the Kenyan Government, that he wants to say to them, "This is our quota. Let us see what rate of Africanisation you are carrying out so that we can consider what sort of arrangements we can make to bring people here and absorb them". If he can take that sort of prudent course, why cannot he say so now? The problem is still there, whether or not he concedes it. The basic question of treating people alike is fundamental, and it makes me unable to support the Clause.
§ Mr. John Nott (St. Ives)
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas), I have been waiting
|Abse, Leo||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hughes, Roy (Newport)|
|Alldritt, Walter||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||Hunter, Adam|
|Allen, Scholefield||Delargy, Hugh||Hynd, John|
|Anderson, Donald||Dempsey, James||Irvine, A, J. (Edge Hill)|
|Archer, Peter||Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Dobson, Ray||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Doig, Peter||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Dunnett, Jack||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)||Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)|
|Baxter, William||Eadie, Alex||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Beaney, Alan||Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Kaberry, Sir Donald|
|Bence, Cyril||Ellis, John||Kelley, Richard|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||English, Michael||Kenyon, Clifford|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Ennals, David||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)|
|Biffen, John||Farr, John||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Binns, John||Fernyhough, E.||Lawson, George|
|Bishop, E. S.||Foot, Michavel (Ebbw Vale)||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Blackburn, F.||Ford, Ben||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Forrester, john||Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)|
|Boardman, H.||Fowler, Gerry||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)|
|Body, Richard||Fraser, John (Norwood)||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Gardner, Tony||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Bradley, Tom||Ginsburg W.E.||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Goodhart, Philip||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Brooks, Edwin||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||Longden, Gilbert|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Gourlay, Harry||Louhhlin, Charles|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Gregory Arnold||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Grey, Charles (Durham)||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mabon, Dr. J, Dickson|
|Brown,Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne.W.)||Griffiths Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||McBride, Neil|
|Buchan, Norman||Gurden, Harold||McCann, John|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||MacColl, James|
|Cant, R. B.||Hamling, William||McGuire, Michael|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hannan, William||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Harper, Joseph||Maclennan, Robert|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Haseldine, Norman||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)|
|Chapman, Donald||Hattersley, Roy||McNamara, J. Kevin|
|Coe, Denis||Hazell, Bert||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)|
|Coleman, Donald||Heffer, Eric S.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Concannon, J. D.||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Manuel, Archie|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hiley, Joseph||Mapp, Charles|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Hirst, Geoffrey||Marks, Kenneth|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Mason, Roy|
|Dalyell, Tam||Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Maude, Angus|
|Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Hoy, James||Mawby, Ray|
|Davies, Dr Ernest (Stretford)||Huckfield, Leslie||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Mellish, Robert|
§ for 12 hours yesterday and today to speak. I was not therefore particularly amenable to the very tactful and pleasant suggestion of my right hon. Friend and the Home Secretary that we might bring this debate to an end—
§ It being Ten o'clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.
§ Committee report Progress.