HC Deb 16 May 1968 vol 764 cc1385-7
17. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will formulate an immi- gration policy for Great Britain which will cover both aliens and Commonwealth citizens.

4. Miss Lestor

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will review the whole question of immigration policy with particular reference to the conditions under which aliens are admitted into this country.

Mr. Callaghan

There is a continuous review of all aspects of immigration policy, including the numbers admitted. The immigration of aliens and Commonwealth citizens follows different patterns and presents different problems, and at present separate methods of control are best.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

As this distinction between Commonwealth citizens and aliens is rapidly becoming obsolete, will the right hon. Gentleman set up a study group to develop an overall immigration policy in accordance with our economic needs and social capabilities?

Mr. Callaghan

To answer the first part of that supplementary question, I would not agree with the hon. Gentleman. It seems to me that the problems of aliens coming from the Continent of Europe, which has a well developed industrial structure, are very different from the problems of would-be immigrants from the West Indies, for whom we have had responsibility for 300 years. It is for that reason, among others, that I think that the problem should be looked at separately.

To answer the second part, the determination of a long-term policy, I hope very much that if we get a Select Committee, or what other form a Committee of the House of Commons will take, this will be one of the matters it will consider.

Mr. Rose

In view of the popular misconception assiduously fostered by some hon. Gentlemen opposite, would my right hon. Friend confirm that more vouchers were granted to aliens last year and that more people left these shores than came in, so that this gives the lie to stories about an overcrowded island and open-ended commitments?

Mr. Callaghan

Work permits are issued on a different basis. A number are issued for a shortish period and therefore it is not possible to make the exact comparison which my hon. Friend would like me to make.

Mr. Hogg

Will the right hon. Gentleman look again at the original Questions, which emanated one from the benches opposite and one from the Opposition? Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that the difficulty resides not in the different circumstances which may or may not exist between the developed and undeveloped countries but in the different status which different independent countries have for their citizens and the different codes applicable to people extrinsic to this country but occupying a different status, of which there are at least three between one another? Does he not see the advantage of amalgamating the different codes of law into one code which all people can understand?

Mr. Callaghan

I was careful in my reply to say that at present I think that separate methods of control are best. That is not to say, however, that that would be true for all time. I should be happy to see the problem examined on a rational and dispassionate basis to see whether a better basis could be devised.