HC Deb 16 May 1968 vol 764 cc1389-91
23. Mr. Montgomery

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for reports from chief constables on action being taken against the organisers of the traffic in illegal immigrants.

Mr. Callaghan

Chief officers of police are doing all they can, in co-operation with the immigration service, to enforce the law.

Mr. Montgomery

Is the Home Secretary aware that some people seem to be making a good deal of money out of this racket? Surely there is some evidence as to the people behind this racket and some steps could be taken to bring them to court?

Mr. Callaghan

If there is sufficient evidence to bring anyone to court it will of course be used, but a number of organisers of the traffic might be overseas and then the problem is not easy. We have to try to detect it at the ports. I assure the hon. Member that a lot of information recently published as disclosures is well known to those at the Home Office who are administering these controls and they have taken counteraction.

Mr. Fortescue

In the name of humanity, will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to introduce much tighter controls through the British diplomatic missions in other countries so that those who claim to be wives of immigrants and want to come here are not sent back?

Mr. Callaghan

Yes, I would not wish to see anyone embark to come to this country until it is clear that they will be admitted, but it cannot be enforced in other countries. The whole weight of our persuasive machinery is bent to achieve that, but we have no sovereign rights in other countries and we cannot prevent anyone leaving another country.

28. Sir Richard Glyn

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will consider introducing legislation to enable illegal immigrants to be deported on the grounds of their illegal entry within a period of 12 months from their arrival in Great Britain.

Mr. Callaghan

The Commonwealth Immigrants Act, 1968, strengthened the provision for dealing with illegal entry to this country. An illegal immigrant may be examined by an immigration officer at any time within 28 days of his entry and may then be refused admission. In addition, as explained in column 1658 of HANSARD for 28th February last, an illegal immigrant remains liable to prosecution for six months and, if convicted, to deportation.

Sir Richard Glyn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is growing anxiety in this country about the reported increase in the number of illegal immigrants? Does he agree that it is in the best interests of persons legally resident in Britain that illegal immigrants should be deported as and where they are detected and regardless of nationality or such considerations as their colour?

Mr. Callaghan

My conclusion is that the anxiety, which is real, is greater than the evidence which exists. There are many allegations, but every one where there is evidence is followed up and appropriate action taken, and the law comes into force if it is necessary for action to be taken. If the hon. Gentleman has genuine evidence to offer me, I shall be very glad indeed to have it investigated.

Mr. Richard

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many hon. Members on this side of the House and people in the country believe that although it is necessary perhaps to be strict about dependents coming in, nevertheless these regulations should be administered with a great deal of humanity? Is he aware that many of us find it extremely difficult to understand the blood lust which comes from some hon. Members opposite at the prospect of 14-year-old boys escaping the net?

Mr. Callaghan

There is, of course, a balance to be drawn here between observance of the law which Parliament has passed and the claims on our behaviour of human treatment in regard to individual citizens. I believe that the immigration officers of the Home Office are holding that balance as well as they can.