HC Deb 21 May 1968 vol 765 cc290-1
Q7. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Prime Minister whether the speech by the Secretary of State for the Home Department on British Broadcasting Corporation television on 29th April about the provision of financial assistance to facilitate the return of Commonwealth immigrants to their countries of origin represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. As to the precise criteria governing financial assistance in these cases I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Social Security to a Question by the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Mr. Evelyn King) on 8th April.—[Vol. 762, c. 169.]

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

As the Home Secretary on television, to the largest possible audience, suggested that there was a general scheme providing for assisted passages for those migrants who desired to return to their former countries, will the right hon. Gentleman now make clear whether this is so or not?

The Prime Minister

That was not how I read my right hon. Friend's broadcast. I did not see it, but he said that the Social Security Ministry now will repatriate any family unable to pay for itself and willing to go back. That was the basis of the answer of my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Social Security which I quoted a few minutes ago.

Mr. Grimond

Will the Prime Minister take this opportunity to make it clear that all this talk about returning immigrants in any significant numbers to their home countries, which have low standards of living, is irrelevant to the problem? Very few, if any, are likely to go. It merely distracts people from dealing with the real problems in this very important matter.

The Prime Minister

That point has been made recently by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and by my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department as recently as last weekend.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

Will the Prime Minister consider financial assistance for the immigrant population of Rhodesia if at any time in future they wish to return to their various countries of origin?

The Prime Minister

That will be no idle threat.

Sir D. Renton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is becoming more and more clear that there are many immigrants who did not want to come here and do not want to stay? Would it not be a human kindness to allow, encourage and financially help such people to return to their own countries?

The Prime Minister

I have already indicated the basis on which the Government provide financial assistance in those cases where the return of immigrants would mean a net saving of public expenditure.