§ Considered in Committee.
§ [Mr. SYDNEY IRVING in the Chair]
§ Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 2
§ ENACTMENTS CONTINUED IN FORCE
§ 4.28 p.m.
§ The Chairman
With this Amendment we may take the Amendment in the name of the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), in Clause 3, page 1, line 24, leave out from beginning to "this" in line 25.
§ Mr. Carlisle
That Amendment is consequential on the first, Mr. Irving.
The purpose of the Amendments is to provide an opportunity to debate immigration. There is no intention to vote against the inclusion of either the Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act, 1919, or the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, 1962, to continue in force until the end of December next year, and at the appropriate moment we shall seek leave to withdraw the Amendments. They give a chance, which the House should have, to debate the control of immigration into this country and to hear from the Home Secretary the up-to-date figures and how the present system of control is working. They give a chance for both sides of the House to suggest various improvements in the effectiveness of that control, and particularly to suggest strongly to the Home Secretary, as I propose to do, that the present system whereby we have two separate types of control renewed on an annual basis—one, the Act to control aliens—being this year renewed for the fiftieth time on an annual basis—should be replaced by permanent comprehensive legislation. That has been advocated from both sides of the House, but has not yet been tackled.
207 There are two principles on which I think we would all agree. The first is that immigration, whether of aliens or of members of the Commonwealth, whether of people who are white or who are coloured, has to be strictly controlled, for the very simple reason that we are not an under-populated country and have a standard of living which is still attractive to many people in other parts of the world. The second principle is that those who are here should be treated as equals before the law and in regard to human rights, from whichever part of the world they come.
I am sure that there is no dispute with the second of those principles. On the first, the need for control, while it is clear that there is no dispute now, the position has not always been so. This is the first time that I have ever spoken in a debate on immigration, and, as part of my preparation, I looked back at reports of some of the debates on the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, 1962. Those debates make strange reading, when one knows the feelings expressed on both sides of the House today.
The then Opposition, of course, voted against that Bill, on Second Reading and Third Reading, and when, in November, 1963, the Bill appeared for the first time among those to be continued under the Expiring Laws Bill, the present Prime Minister initiated a debate and voted against the continuance in existence of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act. I think that, on reflection, even members of the present Government would be grateful that the Conservative Government of that day did not listen to their advice, but brought in that Act. We are grateful that, while in power, they have continued to renew this Act.
Everyone must consider extremely unfortunate the tension which from time to time has arisen in recent years about immigration, caused, I believe, mainly by the amount of immigration, tension which is built on fear that the Government had no adequate control over the number of people entering this country, and that at least those parts of the country in which these people live were in danger of being flooded by an entry of excessive numbers. This tension is based on the strain that the presence 208 of those people had on housing, schools, employment and health facilities.
§ Mr. Andrew Faulds (Smethwick)
Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that a contributory factor to that tension was the extravagant statements by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) who is sitting behind him?
§ Mr. Carlisle
I am not a right hon. Gentleman and am unlikely ever to be so. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman to whom the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds) referred is proposing to take part in this debate. I feel that he should deal with the comments made to him when he speaks. I presume that the hon. Member for Smethwick is hoping to speak, also—
§ Mr. Carlisle
I will limit myself to saying, as I have already said, that the tension which has from time to time arisen is unfortunate and is based on many causes.
What I was going to say was that it is a fear which we are right to recognise and to consider seriously. I believe that this tension is absolutely nothing compared to what would have happened if we had not decided to take the steps which we took in 1962 to control further immigration. I believe that it is basically a problem of numbers and that it would have happened, from whatever part of the world the immigrants came.
I suggest that the unfortunate difference is that the immigrants in this case are clearly identifiable by the colour of their skins, whereas if the immigration had been in similar numbers but from other parts of the world the immigrants would not have been so obviously recognisable as a group in any area.
We are glad that, in office, the Government have happily changed their mind and have agreed to continue the control of immigration. They have, during their years in office, under pressure—much of it from this side—strengthenedthe controls of that Act. They began by setting a ceiling on the number of A and B vouchers which could be given each year. They did away entirely with the C vouchers. By the Commonwealth Immigrants Act of 1968, that control has been 209 extended to non-resident United Kingdom citizens who hold United Kingdom passports; there, too, we have made a ceiling of 1,500 a year for admission.
This is the first debate which we have been able to have on this subject since that Act completed its first full year of operation. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman for some facts about it. For example, what was the final figure of voucher holders who came in during the first year after the passage of the Act? I understand that there were nearly1,400. How does the Home Secretary find that the system of control over those people, who are mainly, of course, the Kenya Asians, is working?
The Act also brought in for the first time a restriction on children under 16—that they could enter this country only when coming to join both their parents, or coming with both their parents, rather than the previous position, under which they could join merely one parent. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that that alteration was aimed at meeting the abuse of young people just under the age of 16 coming to join all-male households in this country.
Last year, in our similar debate, he announced the effect that that further control had had on immigration of people of that age. He told us that, within six months, the figure had dropped from 1,032 to 14, mainly, I understand from Pakistan. Could he tell us what has happened since, and whether the number of young people under 16 joining merely their father or mother is still the trickle that it was at that stage?
This is, of course, also the first time that we have been able to consider a full year of the extension of the period from 24 hours to 28 days within which anyone who has entered illegally could be summarily returned.
Can the Home Secretary tell the House what is the present position on illegal entries? I appreciate that, by their nature, there will not be full figures, because obviously those who evade the immigration control are unknown to a large extent. However, the Home Office must have some idea of the numbers still entering illegally.
The final point on the subject to which I wish to draw attention was raised during the debate last year and has occurred in 210 the current year. It relates to the necessity for the issue of a current entry certificate in the country of origin of a dependant who is coming to join a voucher-holder. The House will remember that that requirement was introduced by Section20 of the Immigrants Appeal Act and was referred to in a statement by the Home Secretary on 1st May of this year.
This is another example of an increased control which was pressed on him from this side of the House for a substantial period. The right hon. Gentleman took up some time in his speech last year in dealing with the proposals that, in future, dependants should require certificates of entry obtained in their countries of origin. He conceded that it had been one measure put forward by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition at York in September, 1968, as a means of achieving more effective control of immigration.
In the debate last year, the Home Secretary poured considerable cold water on the idea. I concede that he said there was no matter of principle which would prevent it being considered, but he said that it would… involve substantial administrative difficulties and expense overseas without any reduction in the numbers of people coming here—that is, as long as entitled dependants continued to enjoy their present right of admission."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th November, 1968; Vol. 773, c. 444.]Therefore, it is fair to say that, although he considered the suggestion put forward by my right hon. Friend, he was somewhat cool in his response to it.
What has been the effect of the imposition in May of this year of the requirement of entry vouchers for dependants coming here? If my reading of the facts is correct, its immediate effect on dependants has been dramatic. Taking the figure coming from India, for example, it dropped by two-thirds between May and June. In July of this year, 352 dependants came here from India with entry vouchers, as against 1,791 in the same month of the previous year.
The figures for the three months before the introduction of the requirement for vouchers and the three months afterwards show that, in the short term, 211 at any rate, the effect has been startling. In March, April and May respectively, the number of dependants coming in was 4,028, 4,017 and 3,963. In other words, it was running at about 4,000 a month. In the three months for which figures are so far available since the introduction of that control, the number has dropped to 1,954, 2,230 and 2,480, respectively.
In other words, since the introduction of the entry certificate system, the rate of entry of dependants has very nearly halved.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
Is the hon. Gentleman announcing those figures with approval of the cut in numbers? May I remind him that it was the express will of the House, when this procedure was instituted, that it would not bring about a reduction in numbers but would represent only a change in form so that the numbers could come in more expeditiously and with less acute resentment at London Airport if they were refused entry?
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Carlisle
If the figures show that, due to a tighter control, genuine dependants are still coming and that the earlier figures were inflated by those who were not genuine dependants, I welcome the figures. In view of the Home Secretary's firm statement that the introduction of the system would not have any effect on numbers, the fact that the drop has been from an average of 4,000 a month to just over 2,000 is worthy of comment.
I appreciate that the immediate effect is bound to be greater than the long-term one, and that it may be that the Home Secretary can give us more up to date figures. It is likely that the number of entry certificates being issued is considerably greater than the number of dependants arriving each month. My only comment on that is that the same has continued to happen with A and B vouchers, with nearly 8,000 being issued a year but only about 4,500 people coming. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can also say, since the entry certificate is available only for a limited period, whether it is renewable.
If it has made more effective the control of abuses of the system of allowing in dependants, and if it has made it easier 212 to check on the bona fides of those who wish to come here as dependants, I believe that the result is to be welcomed. It is a further sensible tightening of effective control which was advocated by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in his speech at York in September, 1968.
§ Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Southall)
It now emerges that the Leader of the Opposition outlined a proposition in his speech at York at which the hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) has not yet arrived. Does he intend to put forward his party's alternative policy of putting Commonwealth citizens on the same footing as aliens?
§ Mr. Carlisle
I assure the hon. Gentleman that I do. However, before coming to that, perhaps I might comment onthe figures for the present year.
As I understand, the overall number coming for settlement under the Commonwealth Immigrants Act in 1968 was 59,112, ofwhom 4,691 were voucher holders and 48,650 were dependants. That compares with a total of 61,377 in 1967 —[Interruption.] I arrived at those figures from the statistics for 1968 for the control of immigration under the Commonwealth Immigrants Act. There is a table there which refers to those coming for permanent settlement. I added together the voucher holders, the dependants of voucher holders and others also coming for settlement. If my method of calculation is correct, probably my arithmetic is right as well.
I understand that up to August of this year the number of voucher holders was 2,686. That figure was obtained from thesame source. I further understand that the number of dependants was 24,255. That is a welcome drop of between 10 and 15 per cent., because in my submission immigration into this country must be strictly controlled. When we are talking in terms of overall figures of between 50,000 and 60,000 a year, we are talking of substantial numbers. About 90 per cent. of those voucher holders in the first eight months of this year were dependants.
To the extent that they were genuine dependants of those who came here at a time when we permitted voucher holders to enter, or of those who came here before any form of control in 1962 213 —and who came here on the clear understanding that their wives and children should be free to join them—I believe that we should continue to honour that commitment. But although we ought to honour the outstanding obligations it does not mean that we should allow the present system of control to continue.
I now propose to come to the question that I was asked by the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell), as to the method of control that I would like to see adopted. The very size of the existing obligation towards dependants who are still not here in itself makes it necessary to alter the system of control at the earliest moment. At the moment, every time we allow in an A voucher holder or a B voucher holder we are making an open-ended commitment for the future. We are giving a person with a qualified right of entry a permanent right to stay and bring in his dependants, without even knowing with certainty the size of the commitment that we are undertaking for the future.
I understand that an estimate has been made that for every 10 voucher holders there are 27 dependants. That means thatfor every 10 dependants we allow in today we are making a commitment for another 27-30 people to come in at a later stage. We shall, therefore, build up future generations to whom countries such as India, Pakistan and the West Indies will be as unknown as they are to the people now living here. The idea of any form of repatriation for them will become steadily less and less feasible. [Interruption.] I accept that. That is what I said. Hon. Members may look surprised, but that is what I said. We shall have born in this country generations of people to whom India and Pakistan will be as foreign as they are to many people living here now, and to suggest repatriation would be unthinkable.
§ Mr. Carlisle
In my opinion we should do what was set out by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition both at the Brighton Conservative Party conference and in his speech in Walsall in January. This idea has been argued persistenly from these benches by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for 214 St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg). The suggestion is that we should replace our present system of separate controls for Commonwealth immigrants and aliens respectively with permanent legislation which would bring both laws into line with those now existing for aliens.
§ Mr. Carlisle
I hope that the hon. Member will allow me to continue. He asked me whether I would deal with this point and I am just beginning to do so. Surely he will agree to allow me to deal with the point before he asks any more questions.
We advocate that type of control because we believe that by it we could limit the number of people coming here so that it could be related both to the needs of the country and to the resources available, on an area basis as well as a nationwide basis.
In 1968, 4,691 voucher holders came here. Of those, slightly more than half were B voucher holders. I assume—the Home Secretary or the Parliamentary Secretary may be able to deal with this point—that the same ratio applied to those who have come in during this year. They have come in with defined skills, but without definite appointments, and they are free to settle anywhere, and to take any job. Even those A voucher holders who come here having been offered a definite job are not required to go to the job they have been offered; certainly, there is no requirement that they should stay in it.
I believe that we should move from a system of vouchers to a system of work permits. In that way, individual applicants could be considered on their merits, and people could be allowed into this country to do a specific job at a specific place for a specific time. Only in that way can the immigration problem be shown to be properly controlled. Only in that way can the further overcrowding of certain areas be avoided.
Last year the Home Secretary made great play of the fact that that system, as such, would not automatically mean a substantial reduction in the number of people coming here. Merely to move from vouchers to permits would not mean an automatic reduction. It all depends on the way in which the system is administered. I submit that there would be a 215 substantial reduction in the numbers of those coming here for permanent settlement, because dependants would no longer come as of right, and when they were allowed to come in they would remain only so long as the work permit of the holder continued. It would mean that the permits of those coming to this country would be limited to definite jobs in definite areas. When the work permit expired its holder would cease to have a right to stay here.
§ Mr. Carlisle
The system would apply exactly as it applies to aliens. If a person changes his job he applies for another permit. Every application is considered on its merit. There is nothing new about that.
§ Mr. David Weitzman (Stoke Newington and Hackney, North)
Let us suppose that a man has worked here for 10 year son a work permit and his job then ceases. Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that it would be other than callous to send him back?
§ Mr. Carlisle
Certainly not. I hope that I may be allowed to set out my view in full. The hon. and learned Member knows that, under the aliens system, if a person has been in this country continuously for four years the restrictionscease. I am not suggesting that those who have been here for 10 years could be asked to return. I am saying that the permits would be obtained in the country of origin and issued for a specific time for a specific job with a specific employer. They would be free and open for application for renewal, and if a person had been here for four years consideration would be given to raising the restrictions and allowing him to stay here permanently—as happens at the moment with aliens. It would mean that one could control and limit the amount of immigration into any particular area.
I believe that it is a just and a humane system; and that it would be an effective system. It is only by maintaining an effective strict control of immigration that we will adequately meet the real problems of race relations. It is the continued flow of people into areas where social 216 conditions and community resources are inadequate to cope that creates the tensions which we all wish to avoid. The permits would have to be renewable yearly, and the decision whether to grant permanent residence would be taken, as it now is with aliens, at the end of four years.
It would not automatically lead to a reduction in the number of voucher holders coming here but, to make the point I want to make to the Home Secretary, let us look at the aliens figures. At the present moment, about 44,000 permits are granted each year for aliens, working here, and that figure has remained at between 40,000 and 50.000 certainly since 1964. But whereas the ratio of dependants to Commonwealth voucher holders is 9 to 1, for anything between 40,000 and 45,000 aliens coming here there are only about 5,000 dependants. In other words, the ratio is 9 to 1 the other way round.
The real problem, accepting our responsibility to the dependants of those who are already here, is to stop an open-ended commitment to those coming here in future. As I say, although we may talk of 4,000 voucher holders we are really talking in terms of a commitment to 16,000 people, whereas a move to the other system would mean talking in terms of a commitment to 4,000 or 5,000 people.
The further point is that to find those who stay, as distinct from those who are here on a temporary permit, one has to look at the 1968 figures of foreigners allowed to stay here in permanent residence and compare that with the numbers ofthose who came here as permit holders in 1964. One finds figures of about 9,000 as against over 40,000. About 80 per cent. of those who come also go back. Only about 20 per cent. stay and even of those 20 per cent. the relation of permit holders staying to dependants staying is one dependant to four work permit holders, whereas, at the moment about three dependants to every voucher holder are allowed in. Therefore, the effect of those coming to live here permanently is substantial, as the figures for aliens show.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. James Callaghan)
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman—I realise that he has given way quite a lot.
217 But I want to get one thing clear so that I may the more adequately reply. What happens after the end of four years to the dependants of the Commonwealth immigrants who stay? In other words, if the Commonwealth immigrant stays after four years, would he be able to bring his dependants in at the end of that time?
§ Mr. Carlisle
One would think that the chances are that if he was applying to stay here after four years he would, during that period, have brought his dependants here. I do not want to commit myself without consideration of what the right hon. Gentleman says, but I should think that it must follow that such a man is trying to bring his dependants here—
§ Mr. Carlisle
My answer to the right hon. Gentleman is that if such immigrants were to apply to stay here permanently at the end of four years one would assume that their dependants were probably already here. Presumably, however, if granted permission to stay they would have the right to have their dependants here. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Southall shakes his head, but this is exactly what happens with aliens now.
An additional advantage would be that one would not have open-ended commitments, because one thing that one would require to know when deciding whether to grant permanent residence would be whether or not the applicant wished to bring his dependants, and who those dependants were.
I have spoken for longer than I had intended. I accept that what is suggested is a fundamental change in Commonwealth immigration, but I believe that it is a change that is necessary if we are to restore confidence in the ability of the Government of the day to limit and 218 control immigration. To talk, with respect to the right hon. Gentleman, in emotive terms of creating second-class citizens does not help the argument. It is not discrimination against Commonwealth citizens that is suggested, but a system that has applied to aliens for the last fifty years. It is similar to the system used in practically every other country, Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth, and I believe that it is accepted as just by those countries.
I believe that the desire of both sides of the House is to see an end of discrimination based on race; to see a relaxation of the tension that exists between different communities, and to see that adequate opportunities are available to those immigrants who have come here, to their children and, indeed, to their children's children. If we are to achieve those aims, strict and comprehensive control of future immigration is essential. Evidence that there is such control will give confidence to both the white and coloured people here, and I believe that that should be achieved by legislation of a permanent nature.
In a similar debate two years ago, and again in the debate last year, the hope was expressed that we would be able to replace by permanent legislation Acts that now have to be renewed annually. We believe that the time has come for that to be done, and that the permanent legislation should be on the lines that I have indicated.
§ Mr. Callaghan
When the hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) opened the debate he was given an encouraging cheer by those behind him. I suppose that it was intended to recognise the fact that he has been added to the Opposition Front Bench team. It is not, however, the first occasion by any means on which he has appeared on the Opposition Front Bench. I would not dare to say in what capacity he must have been there before: I merely content myself by saying that he is now, apparently, legitimised. We welcome him, and I welcome the manner in which he has moved this Amendment.
I thought that he was unduly pessimistic—or modest, as I know him to be—in saying that he did not think that he was likely to become a right hon. Gentleman. If that were a realistic appraisal of his party's prospects at the next 219 General Election I could not, of course, disagree with him, but let him take note that in the past Prime Ministers have been willing to offer Privy Councillorships to leading Members of the Opposition, and I have no doubt, without committing him, that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will be happy to do that if the hon. Gentleman continues as he has begun this afternoon. So I do not think that he should give up hope: I think that he will become a right hon. Gentleman in due course.
I appreciate what the hon. Member said, that it was not his intention to press this Amendment to a Division, because to do so, if it were carried, would remove the whole system of control, and that is not his intention. I should like to deal with a number of points he raised. I start by saying, as I am afraid I have said before and as my predecessors and Home Secretaries of the hon. Member's party have said, that ideally we recognise legislation of this importance should be put on a permanent basis. Apart from the absence of parliamentary time, which is a continuing excuse made for this, certainly this has the effect at the moment that we have an annual debate. As I do not think there is any particular uncertainty about the result, there is something to commend it on those grounds.
What I should like now, as I indicated to the House last year, is an opportunity to see how the immigration appeal system, when introduced, gets on. I think there is every advantage to be gained in seeing our experience of the working of the system before we embark on what would be an extremely thorny task of consolidating the legislation on a permanent basis. I therefore do not hold out any prospect of permanent legislation next year because the appeals system will not have been running long enough to embark on a subject of that sort.
I was glad that the hon. Member had carried out his reading going back to debates in 1962, which I recall very well, as other hon. Members will. He eventually reached 1965 and stated the twin principles on which this policy was based. I should like to repeat to him, in case it escaped his reading in the midnight hours, the statement of twin principles which were enunciated by the present Government a few months after 220 We assumed office. Command Paper 2739sets out the Government's future policy on immigration to Britain from other parts of the Commonwealth and on the problems to which it has given rise. This policy has two aspects: one relating to control on the entry of immigrants so that it does not outrun Britain's capacity to absorb them; the other relating to positive measures designed to secure for the immigrants and their children their rightful place in our society, and to assist local authorities and other bodies in areas of high immigration in dealing with certain problems which have arisen.That, as I see it, is the statement of principles which the hon. Member enunciated as his party's policy. In the principles that, as the hon. Member said, have been enunciated, the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) has never wavered from this description which I have given, although he has phrased it in his own terms. There have been differences from time to time. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has been under pressure from those who have not studied the problem as deeply as he, but always there has been a consistent approach from the two Front Benches on this particular matter.
I was glad to hear the hon. Member using the past tense in the early part of his speech in describing the fear which had existed that there was no adequate control. I thought he slipped a little in the last paragraph or two when he wound up, but he was using the past tense and he was right to do so. There never has been a time since 1962, certainly not since the present Government took over responsibility for this matter, when there was no adequate control of immigration.
The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) in his infamous speech endeavoured to convey the impression that there was not any adequate control, but those who have studied the figures know how far wrong he was. Although there have been marginal differences on how the control should be carried out, it is fair to say that, apart from the right hon. Gentleman's words on that occasion which were so inaccurate as hardly to merit comment, there has never been any substantial complaint that the control is not adequate.
This afternoon the Committee will be able to see from the figures which I 221 shall give that the control of immigration is effective and is working as Parliament intended. I propose to concentrate, as did the hon. Member, on immigration from the Commonwealth. If there are any matters which arise concerning alien immigration apart from the particular relationship between Commonwealth and alien immigration with which I fail to deal, I hope that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary will pick them up at the end of the debate.
The hon. Member asked a number of questions about the detailed working of the control and I am glad to answer them. I came prepared to do so because I think it important that the people of this country should recognise that the controls are adequate, that they are not inhumane but adequate, and are working as Parliament intended they should work. I should like to deal with some of the relatively small groups about which the hon. Member questioned me in particular. There were and have been groups in the past who have caused genuine concern because there seemed to be an evasion of the intentions of Parliament and of the policy of the Government. As these loopholes have appeared it has been my intention and policy to stop them up. Far too much has been made of these comparatively small evasions by propagandists who want to alter the whole system, but there is no doubt that the evasions existed, and in reply to the particular question which the hon. Member asked I can give him some information.
If we take the evasions by childrens under the age of 16, this, the Committee will remember, was a traffic in unaccompanied youths who arrived in this country shortly after leaving school in their own country—particularly from Pakistan—and immediately joined the labour market without the advantage of learning English or being in our schools. They reached here because there was supposed to be one parent working here. There is little doubt that this was an evasion of the intention of Parliament. The evasion reached what I thought disturbing proportions. The hon. Member asked the figures.
They run like this: in the three months before the requirement was introduced 222 in March, 1968, that children arriving here under 16 years of age must have both parents here, 395 were admitted each to join one parent. In the three months following that had dwindled to six, and in the three months after that to none. That is the latest figure I have. It looks as if that particular evasion has been stopped up. It was never a genuine compassionate case, but always an evasion and it was right that it should be stopped.
We also had another tiny group of elderly parents or parents who claimed to be elderly. The dyeing of hair is not confined to the female sex. There was a small but irritating evasion by parents who arrived claiming to be over 60 and it was found some months later that they were busy at work and they seemed extremely fecund in their old age. The number arriving in both categories is now negligible. In the three months before the age was raised from 60 to 65 the number was 89, in the three months after it was six and in the next three months it was none. These were only tiny evasions but they gave some credence to those who complained that there was widespread evasion. Even though it was not widespread they could always produce these particular examples to pour scorn on the whole system.
At the time of the last debate the one remaining category of immigrant which was causing me concern was that of men arriving here to marry women already resident here. I was not ready at that time to deal with the problem because I felt one should not interfere in these cases unless one were sure that one could deal with the situation. I found that nominal marriages were being arranged here for the sole purpose of getting men into the country without employment vouchers. If they could not get employment vouchers they would find a fiancée in this country and marry her. The number of men arriving was out of all proportion to the number of men arriving under the voucher scheme. In 1968 3,828 men were admitted under the voucher scheme and 1,676 came in as fiancés and immediately started work here. The numbers were rising steeply and rapidly. On 30th January of this year I announced that in future male fiancés would have to obtain entry certificates before coming here. That has had a substantial impact.
223 My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary considers all these cases with great sympathy and care as I know that those who deal with him are aware. They are very difficult cases. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the work he does on this.
In the first nine months of 1968, 1,201 men were admitted under the previous concession. In the first nine months of this year the figure has been 256, of whom only 114 have arrived since the restriction.
At present there is no other avenue of immigration evasion which is causing me concern. I stress "at present", because there are always people who are attempting to evade controls and I do not know when any new loopholes may be found. None of any significant character has been brought to my notice recently and I believe that the measures we took at the time of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, 1968, have clearly, by the figures, demonstrated their effectiveness and have closed most of the irritating loopholes that then existed.
§ Mr. Robert Howarth (Bolton, East)
My right hon. Friend has dealt with an interesting point. Does he have figures for families joining males here? This is the other side of the coin. Does this mean that all young immigrant males at present in Britain have the automatic right to bring what they may or may not accurately describe as a fiancée to join them over here for marriage?
§ Mr. Callaghan
That is not an aspect of the matter which has been brought to my notice as being a way in which the controls are evaded. Therefore, I do not have the figures. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary has heard what my hon. Friend has asked and he will perhaps deal with this question when he replies.
We have acted, I hope humanely and with firmness, whenever events have shown it has been necessary to maintain the effectiveness of the control. As we have the benefit of the presence with us this afternoon of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, may I say that these controls do not owe anything to his "rivers of blood" speech. I must point out to him, so that he shall not go wrong—he often goes wrong on these matters, though he is usually careful about his dates—that all the things I am 224 talking about were introduced as decisions or were indicated before he made his "rivers of blood" speech. What he did was to introduce an hysterical note into the discussion at that time, when the decisions had already been taken.
As regards the East African Asians, in the corresponding debate last year I said that I thought that it was already apparent that the Act was succeeding in its main purpose of bringing back under control the numbers of United Kingdom passport holders of Asian origin who were coming from East Africa. We ended the panic-stricken rush—there can be no doubt about that. I know that the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) has never agreed, but we have ended the rush. The Act has now been on the Statute Book for 18 months. It has resulted in the numbers of those wanting to come here on British passports returning to the figure which existed before the panic-stricken rush started.
I shall not disinter the reasons for the rush—I think they are pretty well known—but it existed. It was necessary, in the interests both of a great many of the East African Asians themselves as well as of good race relations in Britain, to halt that rush. I am very glad that we have been able to do so. I will give way to the hon. Gentleman who I know has always taken a purist view on this matter.
§ Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)
As the right hon. Gentleman has referred to me, may I say that I do not disagree with him at all that the effect of the Act has been to reduce the rush. That is not a matter of dispute. It is a matter of fact. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will pay attention to some of the other side effects of the consequences of his action.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I am very ready to continue to watch the development of the position. I will give the figures. It was my declared intention at the time of the March, 1968, Bill, when I was subjected to a great deal of personal vilification and abuse, to restore the rate of arrivals to the level of 6,000 to 7,000 which we had been able to accommodate inearlier years. This I have succeeded in doing, with the support of the House of Commons. From 1st March, 1968, to 225 31st December, 1968, we admitted 6,043. In the first nine months of this year, we admitted a further 4,721. So it is almost exactly on course, as I had hoped it would be in issuing the 1,500 vouchers a year. The position has been stabilised.
I sent out to Kenya and to Uganda earlier this year a senior official from the Home Office to make an assessment with our High Commissioners in those territories of what is taking place. I can give the hon. Gentleman an assurance that I shall continue to watch this matter in advance of what he has to say so that we can observe that the voucher system is proceeding.
It is fair to claim, too, that the disbelief that was hurled at me at that time that the Home Office, and myself in particular, would not deal fairly with these people has again been proved false by the tiny number of appeals. Under great pressure from the House of Commons, at 4 o'clock in the morning, in the debates on that Bill I agreed to set up an appeals system, although I thought it was a slight reflection on me. Nevertheless, I appointed two lawyers, because that was the general desire of the House of Commons.
They went to East Africa. There was practically no work for them to do. They returned after three months. One of them, Sir Derek Hilton, has been kind enough to continue in the work that he has been doing. The plain truth is that the system has been fairly and well administered by Home Office officials here and by our High Commissioners in East Africa. I am very grateful to the lawyers who gave up their time, but I am more than ever reinforced in my view that I was forced to give way to a piece of emotionalism that was not justified by the facts.
§ Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas (Chelmsford)
Is it not a fact that there was never any dispute about the fairness ofthe Home Office, at any rate not by myself? The dispute was about whether legislation was necessary to check a rush or whether it could have been done by other means.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I had passed from that point to the question of appeals. The rational atmosphere that exists in the Chamber this afternoon is not my recol 226 lection of what I was subjected to during the debates in March, 1968.
I come now to what the right hon. Member for Runcorn—I mean the hon. Gentleman; it is strange how coming events seem to cast their shadows before them—described as the major event of the year in Commonwealth immigration, namely, the entry certificate requirement. I raised the matter last year. It had not been raised by the Opposition Front Bench, but it had been raised by the Leader of the Opposition in another speech. The hon. Gentleman rather twitted me by saying that I was very cool, and that after the Opposition had put pressure on me I eventually succumbed. He quoted what I said, that I would not oppose this in principle. He did not quote what I went on to say—If it can be shown to be administratively sensible, there is every reason why we should do it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th November, 1968; Vol. 772, c. 441.]It is a slight difference of emphasis, but I do not wish to make too much of the debating point.
If I may say so to the hon. Gentleman in the spirit which animates these debates, it will not be of great help to us if, every time that one side has an idea which is considered and taken up, it is said that we have succumbed to pressure. In the spirit in which we have been approaching these things I will tell him, as I said a year ago when I was already considering the matter, that I have never had a closed mind on this subject. I always thought that, if it was administratively sensible, it should be done, as I said 12 months ago.
[Mr. J. C. JENNINGS in the Chair]
My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State earns full credit for this. When he came to join me, I asked him to examine the matter, and, after some time and some work with the official, he came to me with his proposals. When I was satisfied that they would work, I adopted them. That is the short, simple, bald and unvarnished narrative of what took place.
It was, in substance, an administrative change which did not remove the entitlement of dependants to come here or, in principle, reduce the number who would 227 come. It was intended to provide a more humane and efficient method of control. I remind the House of what it was intended to do, and that it was generally welcomed.
Those hon. Members who dealt with my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State over cases of dependants arriving at London Airport before the change in procedure will recall only too clearly the distressing circumstances which arose as immigration officers were confronted with large numbers of dependants, not always speaking English, at the end of a long and tiring journey, not holding entry certificates, bearing little, if any, evidence of their claim to admission, or what was worse—bearing evidence which was obviously suspect. The resolution of those cases took place in an atmosphere of stress. People were detained. The situation created most serious difficulties and was, in our view, inhumane.
At that time, we were having to refuse admission to one in every 40 of the dependants who were arriving. In the case of Indians, we were refusing one in every 25. There were many other cases which did not result in refusal, but there often had to be prolonged examination, in conditions, on occasion, of detention, before admission could be authorised.
By contrast, since the new requirement was introduced, the number of refusals has been minimal. From the beginning of June, when the system came into force, in the following four months to the end of September we have admitted 8,168 dependants with entry certificates and refused entry to only one. In addition, we have had to return 35 who managed to get here without entry certificates. These figures are eloquent. They need no burnishing by me. They demonstrate that we were right, and, if I may say so, that the Leader of the Opposition was right, in suggesting that, if this could be worked out properly, it could be done without altering the numbers arriving here but with a great deal more humanity than the earlier system.
The hon. Gentleman asked me about the effect on numbers. He said that it was not intended to decrease numbers, but it had done so, and that being so, he welcomed it. He is right in saying that the introduction of the new requirement has led to an initial damping down in the 228 rate of arrivals, but what he does not know, and what I do not know yet, is whether this is more than an initial damping down. It is too early to say. In the last four months before the requirement became effective, 13,000 dependants arrived In the following four months, since it became effective, 8,200 have arrived. But these figures need great qualification, and it is not possible to draw a conclusion.
From the West Indies and the other parts of the Commonwealth where entry certificates have always been widely used —the Committee is aware that people from the West Indies have always used entry certificates—there has been no reduction in numbers at all, and the flow has continued as before. But during these months a large number of entry certificates have been issued to dependants who will, no doubt, travel here during the next few months. I am not, therefore, in a position to answer the hon. Gentleman's question. In India, for example, about 3,800 entry certificates have been issued to dependants in this period, and 4,600 in Pakistan.
Taking the Commonwealth as a whole, up to the end of September 14,833 entry certificates had been issued to dependants under the new arrangements.
§ Mr. John Lee (Reading)
How many taken up? I realise that my hon. Friend is making an important point here very sensibly and reasonably, but I should like to know what has been the sort of time-lag between issue and the taking up of certificates.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I cannot say at this moment, but I hope that, when we have had longer experience, I shall be able to draw some deductions about what the time-lag is. As the hon. Member for Runcorn rightly pointed out, a certificate lasts for six months and then expires. He asked what happened then. The answer is that the person who made the original application would have to make a fresh application for it if he wished to come in after the end of six months. I hope that people will not, therefore, make application too long before they intend to come here.
§ Mr. St. John-Stevas
Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly repeat the information which he gave a few moments ago?
§ Mr. Callaghan
Certainly. Up to the end of September, taking the Commonwealth as a whole, 14,833 entry certificates had been issued to dependants under the new arrangements, that is, since they came into effect in June. In the same period the number of refusals was 791. I hope that the Committee will not draw too many conclusions from these crude, broad figures. There will be those who take up certificates as a precaution but do not then come. There will be some who take them up and then come. We must have a much longer period than four months before we decide what the impact of the entry certificate is. But what we can certainly say on the credit side is that the new arrangement has reduced the inhumanity of the old system, and we can say also that it will not, obviously, have the effect of increasing the numbers coming under the old system. To what extent there will be a decrease, I am not in a position to say, and I do not believe that anyone else can do so, either.
Now, the question of appeals. For the benefit of Commonwealth dependants who were affected by the new requirements, wemade immediate extra-statutory arrangements enabling them to appeal against refusal of entry certificates. The appeals are dealt with in the United Kingdom by lawyers who are nominated by my noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor. When an entry certificate is refused, the applicant receives a written explanation of the reasons for refusal and a form on which he may give notice of appeal. The lawyer dealing with the appeal has before him the grounds of appeal put forward by the appellant and also a report from the entry certificate officer setting out the facts and the reasons for the decision.
Of the 110 appeals received up to the end of October, eight have been disallowed; four have been allowed; two have been adjourned; 96 are awaiting hearing. I am anxious that these appeals should be dealt with speedily, but 60 of the 96 were received during the last four weeks, and the speed with which they can be brought to a hearing is not entirely under the control of the Home Office. In each case, the Home Office has to write to the sponsor in this country or to some other nominated representative of the appellant asking whether 230 he wants a hearing of the appeal or whether he wishes to put his representations in writing. It often takes some time to receive replies to these letters. However, in the cases which have been heard, the procedure appears so far to have worked satisfactorily.
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (St. Marylebone)
Will the right hon. Gentleman give one further figure in the series? I gather that there have been 110 appeals in total. What relation does that number bear to the total number of refusals of entry certificates?
§ Mr. Callaghan
About one-eighth, a relatively small proportion. The total number of refusals was 791.
I have already referred to the work of Sir Derek Hilton, to whom I am much obliged for carrying out an independent inquiry into the question of arrangements to be made for advising Commonwealth dependants overseas about the entry certificate procedure and the arrangements for appeal. He has been of invaluable help to all those concerned in the matter. The conclusion which he reached was that facilities for advice should be provided through British High Commissions overseas, the staff of which should be strengthened for this purpose. He thought that any public expenditure on such a service would better be devoted to increasing the staff and improving accommodation at our High Commissions rather than on subsidising voluntary bodies to duplicate the officially provided service. He thought that the proper role for the voluntary bodies was to cooperate in providing an advisory and welfare service for people with immigration problems in this country, in line with recommendations made by the Wilson Committee. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State has now invited the voluntary bodies to meet him on 26th November to discuss the immediate establishment of a unified advisory and welfare organisation. If this can be agreed, there will be no difficulty on my part in accepting what is proposed.
Whilst I am on appeals, the Committee will no doubt wish to know the progress we are making in other directions towards bringing the statutory appeal system into operation. Those interested may have noticed the advertisements that appeared in the newspapers 231 a month or so ago inviting applications for adjudicator posts. A selection board is now engaged in interviewing candidates for 21 full-time posts.
The implementation of the Immigration Appeals Act requires a great deal in the way of subordinate legislation. An Order in Council will be necessary, conferring the right of appeal on aliens, and regulations and rules of procedure must be laid down. I hope to lay these Instruments successively before the House over the coming months, to get the system into operation as soon as we can administratively handle it.
I have dealt with some of the questions of evasion, the blocking up of the holes and the appeals procedure, to ensure that those who have proper claims but do not put them forward properly are not prevented from coming here, which is an important consideration. I would like now to deal with the total numbers arriving for settlement. Only the figures for the first nine months of this year are available, but comparing them with the same period last year I confirm what the hon. Gentleman said. There is evidence of a continued—I would say "pronounced"—decline in the numbers arriving.
I shall take the first nine months of this year first, because that is the current figure. The number of Commonwealth immigrants arriving here for settlement in that period was 29,150. In the same period of 1967 the figure was 44,572, and in 1968 it was 40,283. So there has been a substantial decline, although I have taken into account the possibility that some dependants who have obtained entry certificates may have been temporarily put back. We should enter that as an asterisk against the small figure of 29,000.
The figures for voucher holders are as follows: 3,097 in the first nine months of 1969, 3,700 last year, and 3,703 in the first nine months of 1967. On the same basis, dependants totalled 23,473 this year, 33,374 in 1968, and 38,157 in 1967. So all the series of figures show a substantial decline.
I emphasise again that I am giving figures for nine months. That seems most sensible as we have the first nine 232 months of this year in which to show the full impact of the various administrative and statutory decisions which have been implemented.
§ Mr. Harold Gurden (Birmingham, Selly Oak)
Is the right hon. Gentleman excluding United Kingdom passport holders from East Africa?
§ Mr. Callaghan
The figures are exactly comparable. 1 asked that question myself, and the answer was that the East Asians have been left out of these figures because they hold British passports. But they are included in the figures I gave a few minutes ago when I gave the separate figures for East African Asians.
The figures of immigration for settlement from the Commonwealth, excluding United Kingdom passport holders from East Africa, were 53,000 in 1968 compared with 61,000 in 1967, taking the whole year. But this year will show an even bigger decline, if the last quarter matches up to what has taken place in the first three quarters.
Dependants account for about 90 per cent. of these figures, and the decline in their numbers is even greater. We have consistently stood by a firm commitment to allow dependants to join the men who are here—a policy that is humane, just, and sensible, and which the party opposite is committed to as well, as the hon. Gentleman made clear.
I have emphasised time and time again that there is no way of reducing numbers substantially except by curtailing the number of dependants arriving. I have repeatedly said that we would not do this, and I understand that the Official Opposition would not do it either. Dependants account for 90 per cent. of the arrivals here at present, so the margin for alteration is not very substantial unless one is ready to attack the dependants, and I understand that that is not the case.
§ Mr. Hogg
I hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would add that the number of dependants in the pipeline must befalling very rapidly as we approach the time when the only persons whose dependants have not been imported are the very much restricted number of voucher holders that have come since 1962.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I have always said, not with universal acceptance, that with the number of voucher holders now only about 4,000 to 5,000 a year, and assuming 2. dependants a voucher holder—or even, for the sake of argument, a larger figure of three or four—we would have an entry, once we get on the new plateau, of 20,000 to 25,000 a year. This country should understand that once the policy that has been followed consistently since 1965 is in operation we are talking about 20,000 to 25,000 a year. It will be very interesting to hear whether this great country is unable to assimilate and absorb that very small number of people from the Commonwealth in any period of 12 months. I do not believe it. It follows from what I have said that the numbers arriving in this country under the present policy are firmly under control.
There is still the aspect of those who came here before the 1962 Act. Perhaps I may give a figure as an example. In 1961, 136,000 people arrived here. It is obvious that a great many of them still have dependants who may still have some title or claim to come here. I do not know how many there are. We have tried to make an estimate, but I do not pretend that anyone has an exact estimate. When that number runs down—and I think that it is fair to say that a great many of them are already here—we have coming into this country and offering us their skills to work in any period of 12 months a tiny figure of about 4,000 to 5,000 voucher holders, plus any dependants they may have or may acquire. That will be the permanent nature of the problem, if it is a problem, that the country has to face.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I am giving way rather a lot. I know that we are in Committee. That is why I have been giving way. But I wonder whether I should.
§ Mr. Fraser
Has my right hon. Friend any figures for the number of Commonwealth immigrants returning home? I have heard some evidence from Commonwealth countries that quite a number of skilled people have come here and returned. So the net figure is probably even smaller than my right hon. Friend has given.
§ Mr. Callaghan
My hon. Friend has no figures on that. We have figures of the total number who go home, but I do not think that they can be separated out in that way. If my hon. Friend has any information, perhaps he will give it to my hon. Friend who is to wind up.
I come to the major aspect of the speech of the hon. Member for Runcorn, in which I think he sought to create a divide without really wishing to do so. I do not it end to be rude, but it is always the function of the Opposition to pretend that there are greater differences than there are in this matter of the numbers coming in, for reasons that they can no doubt advance. I think that the hon. Gentleman is just muddled in his approach to the problem, and I want to show why.
The flag he waved as vigorously as his intellectual integrity would allow him is the one which says that what will solve the problem is a single system of control for aliens and Commonwealth citizens. The first thing I must say about that,and it is not startlingly original, is that Commonwealth citizens and aliens are not the same people. If that sounds a truism, it is, and the hon. Gentleman effectively discussed it. They do not come here for the same reasons, and they are not the same people coming here. That invalidates a great deal of the argument the hon. Gentleman tried to make. I am not thinking in terms of law, history or constitutional relationships but just in terms of the facts of the situation with which immigration policy must deal. The right hon. and learned Member for St. MaTylebone has tied himself in some intellectual knots over this in the past. I might remind him that in the past he has seen some difficulty in treating all types of Commonwealth citizens equally. Two years ago, he appeared to be suggesting that the time had come when we should consider extending especially favourable treatment to citizens of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. These, to use his own words, were countries with whom we had the warmest ties and besides whom we had fought in the greatest of our wars.
But a lapse of 12 months brought him to a different conclusion. Last year, he said:I cannot see why we should discriminate as between Frenchmen, Indians, Americans, Canadians, Australians, Ghanaians, and Brazilians; they arc all members of sovereign independent countries, and they all operate 235 immigration controls against us."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th November, 1968; Vol. 773, c. 516.]
§ Mr. Callaghan
Perhaps the right hon. and learned Gentleman will allow me to develop this point before he answers.
He went on to say that the policy of unified control did not involve us in doing anything to a Commonwealth citizen which was not already done to a Scandinavian au pair girl. Here, I must say, he went too far. [Laughter.] There is a great difference, to put the point seriously, between a Commonwealth citizen from India or Pakistan or the West Indies who comes here to seek work and wants to bring his wife and family with him, and a Scandinavian au pair girl who comes here for 12 months to improve her English. I am sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman sees this.
§ Mr. Hogg
No, I think that the Home Secretary is making a wholly false point. I should like to reply in detail when I come to answer, but we might as well get this cleared up now. There must be a distinction drawn between the legislation of control, which must apply over the whole field of entry, whether alien or Commonwealth, and the effect which the administrative rules and formal regulations have upon particular categories. A Scandinavian can come in for settlement or can come for a short time. I have never altered my view that, administratively, Australians, New Zealanders and the like should be treated in a sympathetic way. But the legislative framework within which that takes place should be—thishas always been my view—identical and there is no inconsistency between these two propositions.
§ Mr. Callaghan
I told the right hon. and learned Gentleman that I was not dealing with the legal or constitutional end—
§ Mr. Callaghan
Maybe he was, but let him be careful of the conclusion he draws, because the conclusion which I draw is not the conclusion which his hon. Friend drew from that argument. It will not affect the numbers. A great part of the case is that this is designed to reduce 236 numbers. The right hon. and learned Gentleman may of course argue for us to have a single citizenship test, although I would argue that out on a different basis. What we are talking about is not the legal or constitutional relationship which exists but the effect that it will have on numbers. That is the case which his hon. Friend was making. What I am going to show the right hon. Gentleman, I hope to his dissatisfaction, is that it will have no impact on numbers at all. This is the case which he will have to answer.
In dealing with aliens, and Commonwealth citizens, I hinted just now that we are dealing with two different types of migration. So, even on the right hon. and learned Gentleman's point, it is not altogether a foolish proposition that there should be different methods of control. From the Commonwealth, let me repeat, we are faced with heavy pressure for permanent migration to this country. We have regulated it by fixing numerical limits to the number of people whom we can admit in any one year to enter into permanent residence here. This is through the voucher holder system. From foreign countries, we are faced with a larger temporary migration, but the number of persons wishing to remain here permanently is a tiny proportion of those who come here. That is surely an essential difference between the two groups.
For aliens, therefore, it is not necessarily an appropriate method of control to fix a numerical ceiling. Successive Governments have allowed market forces to determine the numbers arriving here, plus a number of other social factors. We have said that, broadly speaking, if there is a job, an alien may take it. They come for a particular period, but we admit them in unlimited numbers with work permits for temporary periods only. They are allowed to stay from year to year as long as they conform to our requirements, but they do not wish to stay. The great majority of them go back home to their own countries. But those who remain after a period are allowed to stay here permanently, provided that they satisfy particular tests.
The object of Conservative policy, as I understand it, is to apply these arrangements for the control of alien workers to Commonwealth citizens. That has been 237 the whole case. Their policy statement said so:No one will in future be granted an immediate unconditional right to stay here. Work permits will be issued only for a limited number of specific jobs and for a limited period.So far as the limited number of jobs is concerned, let us take that test in the Conservative policy. Do they know what happens at the moment? There is a limited number of jobs—4,500 were taken up this year. The maximum is 8,000-odd and it has not been taken up for some years. That is not what happens under the Alien Employment Control, as I have explained. So is it the intention—I am trying to understand their case and am not making debating points—to apply a numerical limit to alien workers? Perhaps the right hon. and learned Gentleman will tell us, because that would be the assimilation which he has mentioned before.
Assimilation can be worked one of two ways. Either we take off any numerical limit from the Commonwealth workers and admit them on a temporary basis, as we admit the aliens, or we can put limitations on the number of foreign workers coming here, as we now have from the Commonwealth.
§ Mr. Callaghan
No, Sir, I did not at all. I want the right hon. and learned Gentleman to reflect on these questions, because if he does, he will reach the conclusion that his policy is not altogether free from ambiguity, and because it is not, it is very important that those of us who are concerned with these matters should try to clear it up.
If it is his intention to apply numerical limits to the number of aliens—I cannot think that it is—I do not know what the justification for doing it would be, nor do I know how he would reconcile it with the problem which would arise after our entry of the E.E.C., which would undoubtedly bring some difficulties in its train, in view of their requirements about labour movement. Therefore, if they 238 do not intend to apply a numerical limit to aliens, how do they propose to assimilate these methods of control so that Commonwealth citizens are treated in the same way as aliens?
But then they say, "All right, a limited number of Commonwealth citizens will be admitted to work for a limited period." The justification for this seems to be that it would then be possible to say that these people are being treated in the same way as alien workers and they would justify this on the hustings by saying, "Look— we are treating them the same". I can see no other justification.
Consider the facts. We are speaking, I repeat, of something fewer than 5,000 Commonwealth citizens a year coming in with employment vouchers. This is the problem to which the hon. and learned Member for Runcorn was bringing his nutcrackers—[An HON. MEMBER:" Sledgehammer."]—Yes, he is bringing his sledgehammer to crack his nuts. Many of these Commonwealth workers wish to stay here permanently and we would be glad to allow them to do so, because they come to fill jobs which are of value to us and they bring us their skills—5,000 or less a year.
For this inconsiderable number of people the right hon. and learned Gentleman and the Leader of the Opposition propose to maintain an elaborate system of administrative controls, apparently for the purpose of keeping them on a string from year to year for four years before they are admitted for settlement. They would be able to bring their dependants here during that period of four years, but if at the end of the four years they were not allowed to stay, both they and their dependants would, presumably, have to be shipped back to the countries from which they came, presumably at public expense.
What would be achieved? There would be no effect on numbers. I do not believe that the right hon. and learned Gentleman wants to persecute them. I believe that he is trying to erect some superstructure to try to prove to the country that he has a great policy which will control numbers. Once it is accepted, as he must accept, that we are dealing with about 5,000 people a year who come here to work, he has a responsibility to show why he thinks that the 239 erection of this vast bureaucratic administrative superstructure, which in other contexts he is always attacking, is necessary and what gain he will get out of it.
If the object is dispersal, I do not know whether he has thought of the administrative problems and the cost entailed in trying to ensure that these people stay where they are sent and do not gravitate into the existing areas of concentration. Has he considered whether this cost would be justified by affecting the location of a small number of people arriving in future? Is that the object of the exercise?
But the real problem of concentration lies in the numbers who in the past have gone to these areas, who went there because that was where they could find work and where they could live alongside their compatriots. Has he considered whether it is worth while trying to divert a small number of people? The wives and children of men who are already here in any event must go where their men folk are already settled. Has he considered trying to distinguish between future immigrants, who may be subjected to these controls, and the very large number who are already here and who must remain exempt from them?
I urge the right hon. and learned Gentleman and the Conservative Party to give some thought to these questions, which are serious questions seriously put. I believe that the right hon. and learned Gentleman would be erecting a vast administrative machine which would have a serious effect upon many people who are coming here without having any marked effect on the numbers—and the effect on the numbers is the test which hon. Gentleman opposite continue to apply.
As the hon. Member for Runcorn said, aliens can be deported after up to 10 years. The hon. Gentleman said that this was the solution to the problem. He cannot believe that. I do not see how he can sustain that view after what I have said. He said that this would be a measure which would convince the country that there was control over immigration. Everything that I have said this afternoon about the system being followed and the questions which I have put about the system which hon. Mem- 240 bers opposite suggest shows that that argument is utterly destroyed.
I assume that no one in a responsible position in the House is likely to assume that any policy of voluntary assisted repatriation would make any real impact on the numbers here. That idea has been blown down and completely discredited andI need not take any time to deal with it, for these arguments have already been made. My concern has been to inform the House of the measures which the Government have taken to exercise fair, but effective and humane immigration control.
This is a difficult and controversial area of policy. It is desirable that our discussion should take place on the basis of realism and with some regard to the facts of the situation with which the policy has to deal. I am putting to the House the Government's policy and the realities of the situation to serve the best interests of the people in the country as well as the immigrant community already here and those who still wish to join it from overseas.
I have always taken the view that a firm control over numbers, as set out in the 1965 White Paper, was a necessary prelude to taking some of the heat and tension and fears out of the national debate. Because the country is increasingly accepting that there is firm control over the numbers coming here, nationally some of the tension has gone out of the debate and some of the fears, on a national basis, have been destroyed. That is not to say, however, that in particular areas there are not genuine fears and deep tensions; this is true.
The problem of community relations will not solve itself. No doubt I should be out of order if I went too far into that this afternoon—and I see your nod of agreement, Mr. Jennings, and therefore I shall not do so. But the two things stand together and I am sure that I shall not be out of order if I draw the conclusion that the fact that there is this firm control enables the national debate on the way in which we treat these citizens when they arrive here to be conducted in a way that befits the civilised and humane approach of the people of this country. However, if there are any points on this subject of community relations that hon. Members 241 are allowed to raise under your eagle eye, Mr. Jennings, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary will be able to deal with them when he winds up the debate.
I welcome the fact that the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West is to speak this afternoon—not before time in the House. He has had opportunities and he has not taken them. I am sure that he will recall that last year he said that to enact legislation like the Race Relations Act was to risk throwing a match on the gunpowder. There has been no explosion yet.
He referred in his infamous speech to the constituent who, he said, was convinced—this was the lady who had excreta poked through her door—that she would be imprisoned when the Race Relations Bill was passed. He said that he wanted her to speak for him in that particular matter. She spoke. He gave her the authority of his position and his responsibility.
Eighteen months have passed since the Race Relations Act was passed. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has kept in touch with this lady, but I can assure him that she is not in prison, if she exists. There is no one in prison as a result of the passing of the Race Relations Act, because in any case it does not provide for criminal penalties. What it does is to provide a legislative framework within which all those concerned for good community relations can work, and the right hon. Gentleman has done nothing to help in that regard.
I conclude by thanking those who are working in the interests of good community relations, for those who are arriving here by helping them as they arrive and those who are working solidly in this respect. There is much work to be done; there is much tension to be relieved; there is much education to be performed. All that is true and we intend—the Opposition Front Bench and, I believe, the great majority of hon. Members opposite and this side of the House—that those who are here shall be treated as equal citizens with the rest of us, so that we can form what the right hon. Gentleman so dislikes—a multiracial community of which the country will be proud.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
I am grateful for having 242 had the opportunity to catch your eye, Mr. Jennings, because although this debate takes place every year, this one, with the exception of last year's, is the first since 1963 in which I have been able, under the conventions of the House, to take part.
It is a debate which does not relate to the immediate events of the 12 months which elapse between successive debates,as everyone who participates recognises. To debate an intake of 50,000, 60,000 or 70,000 net in any one year of citizens from the Commonwealth would in itself be meaningless. The debate derives its significance entirely from the background, from the circumstances which exist today as a result of what has happened in the last 15 or 20 years. It is against that background that we judge the validity of the Act which we renew, but also against the background of what is portended for the future by the situation which already exists.
My hon. Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle)—whom, I am sure, those not only on this side of the Committee but on the other as well would like to congratulate on what he said and the place from which he said it—observed that the tensions and fears which exist today are nothing to what they would have been if the 1962 Act had never been passed. Of course he is right. But the fears and tensions which exist today are nothing to the fears and tensions which are portended by the future which we see today arising out of the circumstances that already exist as the result of the last 20 years. It gives a certain unreality to the terms in which this debate is for the most part conducted that the Committee is able to overlook that great background not only of the past and the present but of what is portended for the future.
There are relatively few official figures forthcoming from the Government on total numbers. There are a few. In 1967 the Government estimated that there were at that time in this country about 1 million coloured immigrants. I remind the Committee of the precise definition which is given to that term and which I will endeavour to maintain throughout the figures I shall use—namely, it signifies persons from the new Commonwealth, less the Mediterranean countries, plus those born here of one or both such 243 parents. That is the meaning of the term in which the number of coloured immigrants in this country—one must have a shorthand expression for it, unfortunately—is measured. On that definition, the Government estimated that in 1967 there were approximately 1 million. Again, in the middle of this year they estimated that the figure had risen to a little under 1,250,000. So much for the estimates of the present coloured immigrant population.
But in 1967, the Government, or the Registrar-General, also offered a projection of future numbers on certain specificassumptions. It was that in 1985 the number would have risen to about 31/2 million, upon two assumptions—first, the continuance of the then rate of net immigration and, second, the continuance of the then rate of natural increase. We know, thanks to replies which have been given to me by members of the Government, what figures were being used in both these assumptions. The assumption was a current net rate of immigration—net immigration, not admissions for settlement but entries minus exits—of 57,000 a year and a current annual natural increase of 30,000 a year.
Of course, only two years have elapsed since that estimate was put forward and less than three years since the underlying statistics on which it was necessarily based. But we can just glance at the comparison between what has happened and those two factors which were assessed.
Net immigration in the last two years, thus including the Kenya immigrants—this, I repeat, is net immigration—ran at the rate of about 75,000 in each year. It will be substantially lower this year. So far it is running about 7,000 below last year, and, therefore, the figure at the end of the year—and I respectfully agree with the caveats which the Home Secretary mentioned as regards the coming months—will probably work out at around the figure of 57,000, which was the underlying figure for the 1985 prediction. So far as the first factor is concerned, then, we have in these two or three years, a very short period, actually exceeded the factor which was fed into that calculation.
We also know something at last, but not a great deal, about the actual figures 244 of natural increase. The net figure of 30,000 a year was obtained by taking a gross figure of 35,000 births and deducting from it 5,000 deaths. That was how the Registrar-General for this purpose arrived at the annual natural increase of 30,000.
Earlier this year the Department of Health and Social Security conducted a survey of the use of maternity services by immigrants, which did provide for the first time a large number of figures of actual coloured immigrant births, figures which can be almost precisely related to the coloured immigrant definition. It was intended, I gather, that 58 authoritiesin Engand and Wales—actually, in England —should participate in the survey. In fact, owing to a clerical error, only 54 were circulated. But in those 54 authorities it appears that the births will amount on an annual basis to approximately 35,000. In these authorities alone, therefore, we know that the actual number of births is running at a figure equal to the total for the whole of the United Kingdom which the Registrar-General was working on. It is therefore evident that the rate of natural increase is higher, even in the present, than that which was posed in the projection for 1985.
I say nevertheless that of course this is a very short period. We can only survey two or three years of the 17 or 18 which that projection covered. We still do not know how far the Government will prove to be right in their assessment that the actual figure in 1985 could be as low as 2½1/2 million if the two factors develop favourably.
But, of course, as the Home Secretary recognised in something he said right at the end of his speech, we grossly misrepresent—indeed, we do not represent at all—the reality of this question if we simply place total numbers as a numerator over the denominator of the entire population of England, Great Britain or the United Kingdom. The reality is the situation as it exists and as it is portended in certain towns, cities and areas. It is to the numbers there, and to the prospect for the future, that we must look if we are seriously to take into account the background to admissions to this country.
Here again, the investigation of the Department of Health and Social Security has shed for the first time some light.
245 It is a light which has revealed facts that most people would have disbelieved before they were made available.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Merlyn Rees)
The right hon. Gentleman is referring to figures published by the Department of Social Services. Would he give the reference so that I might obtain them from the Department?
§ Mr. Powell
Certainly. I am sure that they will be in the Department because they were supplied to me by the Secretary of State for Social Services. A number of them have been published separately in HANSARD and have been supplied publicly by the medical officers of health in the relevant boroughs. But I can assure the hon. Gentleman that a consolidated statement is available in the Department of Social Services because I was supplied with most of the figures from that source.
The figures show, for example, that in 11 of the 12 boroughs of central London—that is, the 12 boroughs of Inner London less one, namely, Greenwich—an area in which the present population is about 3 million, coloured immigrant births are running at the rate of one in five. The exact figure, I think, is 19½ per cent. One birth in every five in11 boroughs of Inner London is today a coloured immigrant birth. [HON. MEMBERS: "So what?"] It is a common assumption on both sides of the House that total numbers and prospective numbers are of the essence of this question. We may disagree about interpretation, but surely that numbers are of the essence is the one thing, if there is nothing else, which is common to both sides of the House; otherwise we should not be discussing this legislation and it would never have been approved and carried forward by the Government.
Outside the central area of Inner London there are adjacent areas where the proportion is as high or higher. In Brent and Haringey it is respectively 30 and 26 per cent. I again emphasise that these are not the percentages of immigrant births; those are higher. They are the percentages of coloured immigrant births—the figures we are considering throughout this debate, the definition which runs through all these figures. In 246 the east, in Waltham Forest and Newham, the figure again is one birth in five.
We therefore have this fact disclosed—a fact which probably, had it not been established in this way, would have been greeted with incredulity, had it been asserted; namely, that in this great central area of the metropolis one birth in five—or rather more if one includes the additional areas—is a coloured immigrant birth.
Yet, of course, this is only an isolated year. This was a test taken over two months, March and April, in a single year. It would be possible to say, "But this may be a peak; this may be a freak. We cannot be guided by a single sample of this kind"—although I should add that there are reasons for thinking that this sample under-estimates rather than over-estimates the actual number of coloured immigrant births, since wherever it is possible to compare these figures with a full year's figures for 1968 they invariably prove to be lower.
I now address myself to the question—
§ Mrs. Lena Jeger (Holborn and St. Pancras, South)
Would the right hon. Gentleman help us to follow his argument? Is he pleading for an increase of family planning facilities in the poorer areas of our cities where the immigrants tend to live?
§ Mr. Powell
The hon. Lady will, if she is good enough to continue to follow me, as she has been doing, soon appreciate the drift of my argument and the conclusion to which I am leading.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. J. C. Jennings)
Order. I allowed the question and a brief reply, but the question was entirely out of order and outside the scope of the subject. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] The debate has gone along on a very even keel. I allowed the question out of courtesy and I allowed the brief reply. But in order to stop any subsequent lengthy discussion on this subject I thought it advisable to step in.
§ Mr. John Lee
On a point of order. With the greatest respect, Mr. Jennings, either a matter is in order or it is out of order. If the question and the reply were in order, surely other matters pertinent to that matter are also in order.
§ The Temporary Chairman
It should be within the cognisance of the hon. Gentleman that one must wait until the end of the question to see whether it is in order.
§ Mr. Heffer
Further to that point of order. The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) has been making for some considerable time a speech which, if one kept strictly to the terms of the debate, would be entirely out of order. As you, Mr. Jennings, have quite rightly, in my opinion, allowed the right hon. Gentleman to make his speech—and we all welcome the fact that he is making it—surely every subsequent speaker will have the right to answer the points made by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ The Temporary Chairman
It is a valid point. The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) was giving what I thought was a factual survey—
§ The Temporary Chairman
I can deal with only one point of order at a time. The hon. Member for Smethwick, who intervened from a sedentary position, is being insolent and he should withdraw his remark. I have sufficiently lengthy experience in the Chair for no one in this Committee, or in the House, to accuse me of being partial to either one side or the other. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] In all fairness, the hon. Gentleman should be decent and withdraw.
§ Mr. Faulds
Since I recall a four o'clock intervention by the hon. Gentleman from the benches opposite—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."]—I find it rather difficult to withdraw my comment on his partiality. Since he is in the chair—
§ The Temporary Chairman
Order. Unless I misunderstood him, the hon. Gentleman's remarks were directed not to the partiality or impartiality of the 248 right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) but to the partiality of the Chair. If that is not what the hon. Gentleman meant, I accept what he has just said. The point of order—
§ Mr. Faulds
May I finish what I was saying? Since the hon. Gentleman concerned in that four o'clock in the morning intervention is now in the Chair, I will withdraw my observation.
§ The Temporary Chairman
The hon. Gentleman has his time wrong: it was five o'clock in the morning. But it has nothing to do with the case.
As I say, the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West was dealing with the matter factually. The question of the hon. Lady the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South was leading to a conclusion. I stepped in as I did to stop a lengthy debate.
§ Mr. Powell
I was about to address myself to the vital question, whether the situation disclosed for the year 1969 by the specimen figures for London, which show that one-fifth or more of all the births in the inner part of the metropolis are Commonwealth immigrant births, is isolated or whether they fit into a larger picture. As far as I am aware, wedo. not have any figures from London for earlier years. However, we do have total figures for earlier years from other parts of the country.
For example, we know that in Leicester the proportion of immigrant births was 12½1/2 per cent. in 1967 and rose to 17 per cent. last year. We know that in Huddersfield it was 19 per cent. in 1965 and rose to 23 per cent. by 1967. We know that in Bradford it rose from 5½1/2 per cent. in 1961 to 23 per cent.—these are the final corrected figures—in 1968.
Wherever there are full figures available for any two years, they always show an increase, often a steep increase, up to the last known figure. So we have no right to regard the glimpse of the situation in the metropolis which we have been given by the survey of this year as something isolated. It no doubt is in London, as it is in the rest of the country, part of a continuing, sustained and rapid increase in the proportion of births which are Commonwealth immigrant.
§ [Mr. HARRY GOURLAY in the Chair]
§ Mr. Powell
I am very anxious to give way to both hon. Members, but I ask to be allowed to do so when I have carried my argument one stage further, as it may meet the point they have in mind. I will in any case give way.
I want to quote one other of these series before I come to look at their significance. It is the Birmingham series, which shows an increase in the proportion over 11 years from 7 per cent. in 1958 to a little over 21 per cent. in 1968. Thus, wherever we are permitted to see the movement of total numbers, I repeat that we see a rapid and substantial increase in the proportion, continuing right up to the last date we have.
It is against that background that we are in duty bound to form some conception of the future in these areas, because that is the background against which alone we can rationally consider the continued net immigration into Britain.
§ Mr. John Lee
Notwithstanding the right hon. Gentleman's psychological obsession with colour, he knows as well as anybody else that this Act is concerned with immigration of all kinds. He might care to tell us, just to put the matter into perspective, what the comparable figures are for non-coloured immigration. It may be more, it may be less, but it is relevant to the debate.
§ Mr. Powell
There is in fact a net emigration of white Commonwealth citizens from Britain and has been for several years. I am simply using the categories which the Government themselves have used, and necessarily used, as the background to the administration of the Act and the consideration of this whole question. So I ask: what is portended for the future of these areas by the facts which we already know?
§ Mr. Hooley
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is nothing whatever sinister in these figures unless she can show that they are inconsistent with the age structure of the immigrant population compared with that of the 250 total population in those areas and unless he is prepared to admit that the colour of a baby's skin has some special significance for him?
§ Mr. Powell
I will take the first point, because I think that at this stage it may avoid misunderstanding if I make it absolutely clear that at no stage was I talking about birth rate. Indeed, in the argument which I am about to advance I shall assume that the birth rate of the immigrant population is precisely the same as that of the indigenous population. I have so far been talking about births which have actually occurred and the proportion of those actual births to total actual births. I have made no deduction, and I make no deduction, from those figures as to birth rates, or the relative birth rates of the immigrant and the indigenous populations. I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention at that point, because it has enabled me to make that clear.
Now I take these facts of what has actually happened—[HON. MEMBERS: "Second point."] I have not forgotten it. I will return to it. I now take these facts of what has actually occurred to see what they mean, could mean, or must mean, for the future. To do so I will adopt in the first place an absurdly favourable model. I will invite the Committee to note that in any given community, if it is a closed community, with no one moving in and no one moving out, the proportion of any particular births—let us say the proportion of coloured immigrant births—which is established over a generation must in due course become the proportion which that element of the population bears to the total population.
For example, in Wolverhampton over the last six years 25 per cent.—1 in 4—of all the births have been coloured immigrant births. In a community in which that proportion continued for a generation—for the average period between birth and the mean age of a mother at childbirth—this would mean that inexorably that community was destined to be one-quarter coloured.
I repeat that this is a simplified and, as I shall presently show, a favourably simplified model, but I think that it will be useful for the Committee in using actual figures to project the future.
251 The length of a generation for this purpose of 25 years, for 25 years—this is based on the indigenous population—is the mean age of a parent at childbirth. So it is a 25-year period with which we are concerned. The proportion of the population which is established over 25 years is thereafter destined inexorably on this model to perpetuate itself.
Now let us look at Birmingham. Already we know the facts of 11 years in Birmingham. Over those 11 years births have risen in a parabola such that while the proportion of immigrant births in the population rose from 7 per cent. to over 21 per cent., the average overall was 15 per cent. If from now on that proportion were to begin to diminish, and were to diminish at the same rate as that at which it has risen, to the end of the period of 25 years, then, in that 25-year section of the population, the proportion of coloured to the total would be no less than 15 per cent.
This simple fact illustrates the extent to which the composition of the future population is already determined. But that is merely an almost geometrical illustration, and, unfortunately, we do not have the profile of the cohorts below the present child-bearing age. However, we do have other figures which, though they are inconclusive and imperfect, are far better than nothing for our purpose. We have the proportion of immigrant children in the schools. We have the count as at 1st January, 1968, and also—I am sorry that the figures have been so long delayed—we shall presently have the count as at January, 1969—although some of the individual figures are available already.
It is important to grasp that the education figures are on a different basis from the figures of coloured immigrants and the definition of coloured immigrants which we have been using hitherto. For the purpose of the education statistics, a child is counted as an immigrant only if the child or its parents entered this country within the last ten years. It will, therefore, be evident that the total number and the proportion of immigrant children in the schools is higher than that which is shown in the education statistics. For instance, the same child may be counted in one year and cease to be counted in the next year when the ten 252 years have elapsed since the date when the child or its parents entered the country. Incidentally, the education statistics exclude also the children of whom only one parent was a Commonwealth immigrant. They also naturally, though this is a factor only of importance in London, include the children of non-Commonwealth immigrants; but in the provinces that factor is of practically no importance.
May I take the education figure and show its relevance to the projection of the future? The January, 1969, figure for the schools in Wolverhampton was 13.7 per cent. As I have said, this inevitably is an understatement of the immigrant proportion in the schools, since there were large numbers of immigrants in Wolverhampton more than 10 years ago; but I willassume, for ease of calculation, that it understates it only to a slight extent and that the true proportion of immigrantchildren in the schools in Wolverhampton is no greater than 15 per cent. Thus out of the 25 years of a generation, we have five years, nought to five, at 25 per cent.; that we know, that has happened. We also have 11 years at 15 per cent.; that is there, it exists. So there remain only nine years to close up the circle. The proportion of births in the next nine years will irrevocably determine the proportion of the population of that town, still considering it as a closed area.[HON. MEMBERS: "It is nat."] No, I will come to that, but hon. Members may find it a little easier to take it in stages. Only nine years remain until the 25 years are made up. The crucial question, therefore, is: how will the proportion behave in those next nine years?
Again, I will make an unrealistically favourable assumption. No one who looks at these figures, all going upwards at the point where they are last visible, can seriously suppose that we are on the verge of an immediate downturn; but I will assume that we are, and that in each of the next nine years in Wolverhampton the proportion of coloured births falls by 1 per cent., so that the average over those nine years will be only 20 per cent. On that assumption we have made up a complete generation, in which, if hon. Members care to work out the sum, they will find that the proportion of coloured immigrants will be 19 per cent., one-fifth.
253 6.45 p.m.
As I said, I have there made at least two assumptions which are both unrealistically favourable; but then, of course, I have made another one, and now I will meet the point which hon. Members are making. Of course central London, Bradford, Huddersfield, Leicester, Wolverhampton and Birmingham will not stay put; people will not stay in their places there while this demographic change takes place, inexorably arising out of what has already happened and what is there now. Of course they will not; and no hon. Member imagines that it will be so. The process will be accelerated by what is happening, and by what will happen, and by what everybody knows will happen—
§ Mr. Powell
—that is the increasing outward movement of the indigenous population. A city centre, therefore, one-fifth or one-quarter or more coloured is not something which lies a generation away; it is very much nearer than that. These cities, including the central area of the metropolis, are only a few years away from a position in which—and here I insert a self-quote—" there will be whole areas which are entirely occupied by an alien "—Iam using the word not in the legal sense but in the real sense—" population "—[Interruption.].
The Deputy Chairman
Order. Hon. Gentlemen may not like what is being said, but it is the custom of the House to listen.
§ Mr. Powell
It is implicit in the Commonwealth Relations Act which we are renewing today that there must be a limit, because of the underlying facts of human nature, on numbers and the rate at which they can be accepted in this community. That, I remind the Committee, is, at any rate in principle, common to all of us, and I am inviting the Committee not to be afraid to look. What we see, what has built up already, what is determined by the situation which we already have—and I have not prayed in aid any continuing net immigration in the figures which I have used—are major 254 towns and cities of which the central part will be wholly foreign—
§ Mr. Laurence Pavitt (Willesden, West)
The right hon. Gentleman has used the emotive word "alien". In my constituency the figures of coloured immigrants are much higher than in Wolverhampton, and I could give comparable figures; yet there is a higher degree of integration in my area, even with the large numbers involved, than in any other area in the country. How can he project the argument which he is now making?
§ Mr. Powell
Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee are in duty bound to make up their minds what will be the consequences of towns and cities where one-quarter or one-fifth of the whole population are Commonwealth immigrants but where that one-quarter or one-fifth is preponderantly concentrated in certain central areas and is in almost exclusive occupation of those areas.
§ Mr. Callaghan
May I intervene on the use of terms? When the right hon. Gentleman says that one-quarter or one-fifth will be Commonwealth immigrants, surely what he means is that they will be coloured children whose parents came to this country as immigrants? Is not that what he is saying?
§ Mr. Powell
I am using exactly the Government's definition. I am using the term "coloured" or "Commonwealth immigrants" in exactly the meaning in which it was attached to the estimate of numbers in 1967 and 1969.
§ Mr. Powell
May I have another sentence? Of course, in a few years relatively more of the total will be children born in this country. I may add that virtually all of those children, who are counted already by the Government in their statistics of coloured or Commonwealth immigrants, will under the laws of the countries from which their parents came be citizens of those countries. That is another fact which is worth bearing 255 in mind. I think the right hon. Gentle man wanted to intervence.
§ Mr. Callaghan
The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West gave me a partial answer. He is, of course, using a term of art in relation to the definition of the word "immigrant". The Bill which we are discussing today, which we shall renew, uses the word "immigrant" in the strict sense; that is to say, one who comes to this country. That is what people usually assume to be talking about when discussing this problem. But when the right hon. Gentleman uses his term of art and defines "immigrant" as a child born of parents who have come to this country—I am sure he does not deny that is what he is doing —will he not now say that he is discussing the important question of colour in this country and how it will be dealt with?
§ Mr. Powell
We are here debating the consequences for the future of continued net immigration, which will be coloured Commonwealth immigration. We can only debate that matter against the background of the situation which exists as a result of past immigration and the situation which is projected from that. Of course, as the years go by the composition and history of the coloured population change. But the fact remains —and we have had a good many years now of the first generation—[An HON. MEMBER: "You are a racialist."]—the fact remains—
The Deputy Chairman
The hon. Gentleman made reference to the Chair. The Chair is taking no part in the debate at all. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would intervene in the normal fashion, not from a sedentary position.
§ Mr. Powell
We can form that judgment partly, though only partly, on the basis of what has happened elsewhere where similar conditions have prevailed. I have to tell the House that in my opinion, for which I take responsibility, such a prospect is fraught with the gravest danger of internecine violence. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] it is a prospect which, if we can avoid it, we should prevent from being realised even at this stage.
I do not believe that the disaster which the facts imply could be averted solely if all net immigration into this country ceased from now onwards. I do not believe that it could be averted unless there is a substantial reduction in the prospective numbers in these towns and cities. Repatriation lies outside the ambit of this debate, but I do not see how that kind of disaster can be avoided unless substantial repatriation occurs.
However, this evening we are concerned only with net immigration. That net immigration has been running over the last three years—it is diminishing—at between 50,000 and 70,000 a year. The great majority of the continuing intake, as the Home Secretary pointed out, consists of women and children. It is an addition which will accelerate that future increase in the coloured immigrant population which is already implicit in the facts at the present time. I simply do not believe that we can justify the continued net immigration of women and children at the rate at which it is taking place. I do not believe that in the light of the future which the facts portend that rate of immigration, or anything like it, can be justified.
The Home Secretary on the Third Reading of the Race Relations Bill last year addressed himself to me, as he did again this afternoon. He said that in this matter I had the greatest influence with the people of this country and that I had the ear of the people of this country. On the basis of that he asked me to appeal for understanding, for tolerance, for restraint, for patience. The right hon. 257 Gentleman has it exactly wrong. It is not to the people of this country that we in this House should be appealing for tolerance, restraint and understanding. The people of this country have shown tolerance and restraint in a way which could not have been anticipated. There can be no criticism of the people of this country for the way in which this unexpected, even uncomprehended, event has been received by them. It is not from us to them that the appeal goes. The appeal is from the people of this country to this House—and this House has not heard them yet. Let this House do so while there is still time.
§ Mrs. Renée Short (Wolverhampton, North-East)
It was my hope that if the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) spoke in this debate he would use moderate language. I hoped that he would not use the language which he used in his notorious speech in Birmingham—a speech which now precludes him from speaking on this subject at all from any platform, and indeed anywhere, inside or outside the House. But unfortunately, although we have not had grinning piccaninnies, rivers of blood, excrement through white letter boxes, nor any quotations from Themistocles on this occasion, we have had language calculated to stir up emotions on this subject.
The right hon. Gentleman talked about internecine violence. He spoke of the cohorts below.
The Deputy Chairman
The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) is not giving way.
§ Mrs. Short
"Cohorts" is an emotive word. The right hon. Gentleman does not seem to understand the use of language.
The right hon. Gentleman also mentioned the fear and tension which exists today and what is portended for the future. I am now arguing about his choice 258 of words. Nobody would deny that the right hon. Gentleman is a man of ability, but if he were to choose his words more carefully he might find on some occasions a rather more sympathetic audience. But the fact that he uses this language—and always when he is talking on the question of immigration—means that he is no longer listened to by people concerned about the problem.
The right hon. Gentleman spent the greater part of his speech discussing figures, and he has tried to say that my right hon. Friend, in presenting the figures that he did earlier, has presented a false position. However, I suggest that it is the right hon. Gentleman who is juggling with the figures. As the Director of the Institute of Race Relations, Mr. Rose, has said, he is really cooking the books. He continues to quote figures of the number of births to immigrant women and, when challenged by one of my hon. Friends, says that he is not talking about the immigrant birth rate. However, I suggest that it is that figure which really matters.
The right hon. Gentleman never qualifies what he says about the increase in births by saying that they are births to women who have joined their husbands. It is normal and natural for a husband and wife who have been separated to have another child. The right hon. Gentleman never qualifies his statements further by saying that they are births to women who are in their most fertile and fecund period and that therefore they would be expected to have children. After all, they are normal, are they not?
§ Mrs, Short
When the right hon. Gentleman goes to somewhere like Bradford, which has a high level of immigration, and quotes figures like 3 million of 3¼1/4 million "in a few years' time", he is juggling with figures and ignoring the clear facts of what happens. When they come here, immigrant families find themselves living in a more affluent society. They are able to attain a higher standard of living then they had before they came here.
The right hon. Gentleman has put forward a very good case for family planning. However, I do not recollect that 259 he is one of the protagonists of family planning in this House. If he were to follow through his researches, he would know that not very long ago in Birmingham a survey was carried out amongst West Indian families living in the constituency of Sparkbrook. The results indicated that if they had the opportunity they would be only too delighted to take advantage of family planning facilities, and they showed greater enthusiasm for family planning than the Irish population.
I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he should use his common sense and help those of us on this side who are trying to get an extension of family planning services for all, especially for immigrant families. If he did, he would find in a few years' time that the birth rate among immigrants showed a tendency to fall.
On the hundreds of occasions which have been available to him, he has never pressed in this House for any alleviation for his constituents in Wolverhampton or for the people of the country as a whole. He has never attempted to relieve the lot of immigrant families. He must be aware that large numbers of immigrant families live in very bad overcrowded conditions of multiple occupation. In the West Midlands, for example, about 80 per cent. of immigrant families have to share lavatories, sinks and kitchen stoves. But he never urges my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government to do anything to improve existing houses and increase the number of new houses completed each year.
The right hon. Gentleman is not interested in social problems. He bandies about figures. But we are discussing human beings, not mere statistics. He has been singularly lacking in any demonstration of human feeling for the thousands of people who have come here at the invitation of many of his friends. His friends and supporters of his party have brought in immigrants from India, Pakistan and the West Indies since the early 1950s, when his Government were in office. What he has said in this Chamber after all this time and what he frequently says on platforms in different parts of the country should be directed to his friends. He ought to address his 260 friends before he lectures the Committee in the way that he has today.
If the right hon. Gentleman would care to press with me for improved facilities—[Interruption.] No, I ambeing serious. The right hon. Gentleman thinks that I am joking. I am not. I would be delighted to join forces with him if he could be persuaded to follow my path and press for improved conditions for all overcrowded families. However, I do not think that that is likely to happen.
He said that people will not stay in towns like Leicester, Bradford and Wolverhampton, but will move away. I assume that he was talking of white people. He ought to bear in mind that many coloured immigrant families will want to move out from those areas as their standard of living improves. The Institute of Race Relations has estimated that something like 14,000 coloured immigrants are returning home because they do not find the atmosphere in Britain all that congenial.
So we come to the right hon. Gentleman's solution, which he floated in his Bradford speech. He believes that there should be a scheme of repatriation. It is a policy which I believe is at variance with that pursued by the official Opposition. To operate such a scheme, this country would have to find between £300 and £400 million. I can think of many ways in which such a sum could be spent to improve the lot of the people about whom the right hon. Gentleman should he concerned, including those in his own constituency.
He went even further and said that he thought that women and children should not be allowed to come here at the rate at which they are coming, although my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary was at pains to point out that the numbers of dependants coming here are falling. That is exactly what we said would happen when a limit was placed on the number of work vouchers to be issued. Inevitably the numbers of dependants coming in will fall after a lapse of four or five years. This is already beginning to be seen. Notwithstanding that, the right hon. Gentleman implied that women and children should no longer be allowed to join heads of families already here.
Again, I think that that is not the policy of the Official Opposition. On 261 several occasions, the Leader of the Opposition has been at pains to point out that the policy of the Official Opposition is not to divide husbands and their wives and children. Their policy is along the same lines as my right hon. Friends are pursuing which, in all Christianity—I hate to use the word, but the right hon. Gentleman professes to be a Christian and I know that he is a regular worshipper at church—must be allowed to continue.
Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the other side of the coin? If, unfortunately, his ideas gain root, does he see the ills and social consequences which will result from a policy of denying women the right to join their husbands, and of preventing children from joining their fathers? Those of us who want to see an integrated, sensible policy believe that wives and children must continue to be allowed to join heads of households.
My right hon. Friend is now concerned with the problem of maintaining the controls which have operated in the past. I would like to ask him whether he is entirely happy about the way in which entry vouchers are issued. Is he entirely satisfied that there are sufficient numbers of staff in Commonwealth countries to make sure that investigations and vetting are properly carried out? Above all, is he certain that there are sufficient people there to investigate the applications of those professing to come here as students, in respect of whom a proficient knowledge of the English language is essential?
There have been cases of persons coming here ostensibly as students who have been turned back because it was found that their knowledge of the English language was not adequate for them to pursue the course which they sought to pursue. My hon. Friend would do well to examine this question and make sure that our offices in India, Pakistan and the West Indies are sufficiently well staffed with people to carry out the extensive and sometimes complicated vetting that is necessary.
In connection with the entry of fiancés, can my hon. Friend do something to reduce the time lag between the appeal made by fianceés here and the investigation in the country of origin of the fiancés' status and qualifications for entry? It takes all of three months, and 262 sometimes longer, before such investigations are carried out. I know that when such investigations and inquiries are carried out in India it takes time, but I suggest that it is wrong to keep people waiting for three or four months. Is there any method of speeding up the procedure? Perhaps my hon. Friend can deal with these queries in his reply.
All the House is agreed that control is necessary. I do not believe that any hon. Member, on either side, is not in favour of the continuation of control. We should all congratulate the Government on the effect of the legislation which they have introduced since 1964, in terms of the numbers coming into this country. But this is a far cry from the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, and some of those who support him, namely, that in the end, in order to reduce the numbers of immigrants, we must operate a tough, brutal and utterly inhuman method of separating families.
§ Mr. W. F. Deedes (Ashford)
I want to take up almost the last point made by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renee Short), namely, the question of control, and her observation that we all now agree that some form of control is necessary. I want to move straight from that to the speech delivered by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), and to ask whether some of the speeches which are now being made on this subject on this occasion would not have been regarded as more outrageous, in 1962, when the Act was being discussed, than some hon. Members now sincerely regard the remarks of my right hon. Friend?
It engenders a note of caution, a reminder that with the passage of time views and situations change. I do not want to hark back to the debates of 1962, but the hon. Lady will remember them as much as I do. They should cause a cautionary note to be struck in the heart of any hon. Member who is prepared to get up in this House now and say that he or she has delivered a set of outrageous remarks. There I propose to leave what might become a counterproductive argument.
I want to put in quite a separate enclave a question that I am anxious to be enlightened about before I turn to 263 the main part of my remarks. We accept that since our last debate a major change has been the introduction of the entry certificate. This has had one puzzling consequence, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) alluded and on which I seek further enlightenment. It would appear that the entry certificate is beginning to follow the pattern of the voucher, in that only a proportion of the entry certificates—about half—are being taken up. This is a new and puzzling development. It may be merely a phase, or it may represent something more permanent. I ask the hon. Gentleman who is to reply to the debate whether we have any idea why there should be this delay in taking up entry certificates introduced since our last debate.
A further question arises in connection with the limit of six months which I understand is imposed on entry certificates. Do we propose, if necessary, to extend the validity of an entry certificate from six months to a longer period? Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will touch on that point in winding up.
One large difference between this annual review of immigration and the review confined to aliens policy before 1962 isthat in our earlier debates we not merely counted heads; we rehearsed—much more than we now do, and very critically—the principles on which aliens were admitted. I recall hearing, from the Government benches, some memorable speeches made from the benches opposite by a number of hon. Members, not all of whom are now with us, on the principles that should govern alien control. I do not say that we ever had, or have now, a clear and coherent set of moral and political principles in respect of the control of aliens, but in my view we got closer to it than are our very pragmatic measures designed to control immigration from the Commonwealth. It would help both our own population and populations in the Commonwealth if we could more clearly define than the Home Secretary defined it this afternoon the moral basis of our present policy.
I want to apply this doctrine to a feature which disturbs me increasingly, namely, the voucher system and the way 264 in which it is working out. I am not concerned whether this is regarded as a liberal or a restrictive policy. Admittedly it is infinitely less liberal than it was six or seven years ago, under a Conservative Administration. The figures of those affected today under the system of A and B vouchers are low enough not to provoke much protest from any quarter; indeed, my right hon. Friend barely alluded to them. They are a long way below the ceiling reached in 1963, when 28,000 came in under the voucher system.
Just why this figure should be about one-eighth of the figure which applies to aliens is not clear to me. On what principle the ceiling of vouchers for Commonwealth immigrants is based, with or without relationship to the aliens figure, is not clear to me. I listened carefully to this passage in the Home Secretary's speech and I could not see that the question was met there. What are the principles behind our voucher policy? For different reasons serious objections can be entered against both the A and the B voucher systems. The Home Secretary said that the number of A and B vouchers amounted to a tiny figure, representing people coming here to offer us their skill.
Let us look first at the question of A vouchers. I shall take the figures for this year up to and including September.It is common ground that we are talking of the first nine months of the year. In that period, 2,087 A vouchers were issued. Nearly 600 of them were issued to factory workers, 463 to waiters and kitchen staff, and another 787 to "others"—that is how it is put in the return, and I doubt whether that conceals much skill In terms of skill, the A voucher seems to be limited to 140 draughtsmen, engineering and building craftsmen. It is tempting to come to the conclusion that the purpose of the A voucher is to secure unskilled workers for jobs that we ourselves are not willing to do. It is quite clear that there has not been applied to these individuals even that degree of selectivity required for the work permit, although I do not deny that work permits may cover a number of unskilled workers.
Thus, in terms of the scene, which some of us on a Select Committee have been studying in different cities—the prospects in the future in industry for Commonwealth immigrants—the A voucher policy 265 strikes me as being not merely negative but positively dangerous.
Here I will quote the right hon. Lady the First Secretary and Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity—and I say at once that I agree with her. She said, just the other day:If we are ever to achieve equality of opportunity in this country, coloured workers must move out into new areas of industry and acquire new skills. We need to avoid industrial ghettoes just as much as we need to avoid housing ghettoes. This is where careers officers have a vital social and economic role to play. I believe you have a special responsibility to the community as a whole to broaden the industrial horizons of both our coloured population and those who are crying out for skilled and intelligent labour.That is quite right. But what is the effect of the A voucher policy? It is, at best, to create a huge training and retraining programme when, as we know, we are already short of facilities for our own needs. At worst, we are building up a reservoir of discontent, albeit slowly.
The B vouchers cause me even more concern. To the end of September of this year we issued, in round figures, about 3,300 of these vouchers. Of those, 1,800 were issued to doctors from India and 345 to doctors from Pakistan. Doctors represent more than half the total of B vouchers issued. Here, indeed, the Home Secretary is justified in saying that they are bringing us their skill. This number compares with 2,300 vouchers issued to doctors from India in 1968, and 636 to doctors from Pakistan.
Here, clearly, different considerations arise. The degree to which the National Health Service depends on overseas aidis notorious, but, even so, the figures we have reached today are very striking. In 1968, 71 per cent. of all B vouchers went to doctors—most of them from India. I agree that an unknown proportion come here to train and then return: that is acceptable. Even so, it is estimated that there remain here permanently between 500 and 600 doctors a year. If the Home Office knows better than that, I will be glad to have reassurance. In sum, between one-fifth and one-quarter of all our doctors come from overseas. In respect of National Health Service staff, the proportion is one-quarter.
The figure for nurses and midwives is more difficult to calculate, but our overseas dependence there is estimated to 266 range between 25 per cent. and 40 per cent. One-quarter, at least, of our 75,000 nurses and midwives in training in hospitals represents the Commonwealth intake. It is further reckoned that of overseas-born midwives who completed four years' training here, 75 per cent. remain in Britain. We could not operate the National Health Service without them.
So if we are asked to define B voucher policy, one reply might be that it is to provide us with a National Health Service commensurate with our needs. I confess the morality of that policy baffles me. How in the world can we reconcile that policy with current arguments about whether or not we are giving enough overseas aid and, if we are not, should we be giving more? In that context the B voucher policy smacks to me of rank hypocrisy.
Nor should we conceal from ourselves that B vouchers were not entirely fortuitous. They were administratively adjusted. in early 1968 to secure precisely these results. We altered the arrangements so that we could seclude at the head of the queue the medical services we wanted.
Do we ever get representations from the Commonwealth countries about the cost to them of this medical exodus? Do they ever press us to put some term on the work done here by their own specialists? I think it very odd if they do not. If they do ever make representations, what is our response? What would our response be if the representations were made? I say it bluntly, in the context of both A and B voucher policy and of what we believe we are doing and what we are actually doing. I would scrap that policy tomorrow. In terms of both A and B vouchers it is unprincipled. For different reasons in respect of A, and in respect of B it is positively disreputable. The A voucher will create further difficulties for us, and the B voucher must inevitably create increasing difficulties for the Commonwealth.
Do we really deny that the proportion of medical skill coming from India and Pakistan will not create a deprivation to the people of those countries? If so, how can we justify sucking them in for the purpose of the National Health Service?
§ Mr. Bidwell
If the right hon. Gentleman would scrap the voucher system, on which he and I have thought a good deal over a long period, what would he propose to put in its place?
§ Mr. Deedes
For reasons quite different from those argued from the Front Bench, I would much prefer a more selective system in which we took what we wanted by means of work permits, but made the reasons for what we were doing clear to other people and even clearer to ourselves. What I object to is that we half blind ourselves to what we are doing—in fact, we do not realise what we are doing—first to the Commonwealth countries and then to ourselves. We shelter behind the voucher policy and imagine that it is a generous immigration policy when it is nothing of the kind: it is the embodiment of selfishness. If the A voucher policy is based on economic reasons, which I cannot imagine, if we really want more unskilled workers, the level of A voucher entry is too low to be material. What exactly is the principle behind the A voucher?
If in respect of B vouchers for social reasons we have to milk the Commonwealth of skills, let us admit it and relate it to a policy, if we have one—and the purpose of my remarks is to show that we do not have one. Failing that, we must conclude that behind a lot of high-falutin language we are operating an important and apparently permanent policy without any coherent moral or political principle as its basis.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Bidwell
I wish to comment briefly on the speech made by the right hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) and particularly on his concluding remarks. I pressed him in an intervention, but I thought his rejoinder was most inconclusive. I could not quite get the hang of what he was trying to put forward. It is precisely under the system of A and B vouchers that a selective system has emerged.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman, as we have agreed with one another over a long period, that this is not a static situation but a moving scene which should be under constant discussion. I therefore do not close my mind, if he asks my hon. and right hon. Friends on 268 the Front Bench to receive new ideas, to considering ideas which may be of mutual advantage to ourselves and to immigrants. I am trying to be fair, but I do not think the right hon. Gentleman made the point adequately. Doctors and scientists who come under one of these categories can go anywhere in the world. Their labour is in great demand. That is why they can come to this country and make a contribution here, but we have no measure of the extent to which people come to this country and go away to make a contribution elsewhere. We cannot put a ball and chain on our own doctors. No one suggests that because they have been trained in this country they should be, as it were, imprisoned here and tied as it were to the operating table or to the bedside. We do not propose to do that and other countries would find it very difficult to propose such a system.
I am very glad indeed that the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) has entered our debates. In fairness to him, I understand that he intended to come into this debate before he received a letter from me. I am not sure whether he received that letter, for we have had a quite one-sided correspondence.
§ Mr. Powell
I was much obliged to the hon. Member for giving me notice, although I had long intended to intervene in this debate.
§ Mr. Bidwell
I said in the letter:I think it would be not unfair if I said that you might even be induced to break your self-imposed silence on this subject.Those of us so heavily involved with the problem on a countrywide scale and who because of the nature of our constituencies have struggled to help to build a local harmonious community, have found it very hard indeed through the sum total of the right hon. Gentleman's activities. Whereas my reaction to his coming on to television and using a few phrases from his sensation-making speech reflecting perhaps the considerable anxiety which exists in the country and also in my constituency caused me to use a word which suggested that he was born out of wedlock. That was the sort of thought in my mind at that time. My reaction at present, now having seen and heard the right hon. Gentleman 269 speaking in this debate to the sombre background on the benches opposite, sensing the acute embarrassment which he causes so many of his hon. and right hon. Friends, is one of considerable pity. I pity the right hon. Gentleman. He is like a bird which has fouled its nest and cannot get its claws out of the muck it has helped to create.
The London dockers, 200 out of 2,000 normal followers of Jack Dash whom I met here, and the Smithfield meat porters who came here apparently thinking that the right hon. Gentleman had been thrown out of the House of Commons and not simply sacked by the leader of his party, did not march in his support on the second occasion. On the third occasion the national reaction was somewhat different and on the fourth occasion when he attacked the Southern Irish I prayed that there would be a fifth occasion because then he would get round to the Scots and there would be very few people left to attack.
Of course we are right to concern ourselves with population trends in this country and to concern ourselves about considerable influxes of people with different kinds of culture and different kinds of skin. Of course we are right to assesswhat effect this has had on the Midlands, Wolverhampton and Southall, but although the right hon. Gentleman said in one speech that in the Southall area 60 per cent. of the children are coloured one does not know how to determine colour. Whensometimes I look at the right hon. Gentleman sitting in the gloom of this Chamber, I wonder what would happen if he were really the colour that he seems to look at this distance in the gloom. That would not have the same effect on me but I think he has got this all wrong. I consider myself a son of the British working class. I was a railwayman and I was born in my constituency, but I have seen this kind of thing occur and I know that one can measure the bitterness which often builds up in reaction.
What the right hon. Gentleman does not understand is that the younger generation have an entirely different attitude. One cannot go to school with coloured youngsters, know them by Christian names and with no barriers of any kind, without having this different attitude. It is no accident that one of the letters of condemnation in The Times 270 against the right hon. Gentleman was signed by the more enlightened section of Conservative youth in the universities.
The right hon. Gentleman must have read in his local paper that the Select Committee on Immigration and Race Relations, of which I am a very keen member, went to Wolverhampton. I looked for all the Enoch Powells round every corner, but I did not find anyone quite like the right hon. Gentleman. We took evidence. I understand the local problem in his constituency because in my constituency we have had to face the problem of the settlement of Indian people, Punjabis, who are almost exclusively under Sikh religious influence. That is a very powerful influence. But in Wolverhampton I found that it was a fifty-fifty situation. I have seen the problem of coloured school-leavers and found a willingness and wish to do the right thing to provide employment opportunities. They agreed with us that that was central to the future development of harmonious relationships. No one belaboured the question of colour.
I could quote at some length from the excellent evidence given to the Select Committee by the town clerk of Wolverhampton and the chief constable. He speaks in glowing terms about the home pride which many coloured people have. Although he told us honestly that he had a worrying pocket of West Indian juvenile delinquency, he asked that that evidence should begiven in private because he did not wish to make it appear that this tarred all the coloured youngsters with the same brush. I invite the right hon. Gentleman, if he has not read this evidence, to read it closely.
Earlier in this House my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary referred to what he called an expert dialogue, or an informed dialogue. Subsequently we brought out a unanimous report on this problem of coloured school-leavers. This related to the whole of the figures which the right hon. Gentleman has belaboured today.
The central weakness of the right hon. Gentleman is his thinking that people are like him, obsessed with colour. They are not, particularly in communities where there are so many coloured people, because one gets used to coloured people. If I had followed him in speaking in this debate it was on the tip of my tongue to 271 say that many of my best friends are coloured people. It must be impossible with an attitude such as he has still to have coloured friends. I cannot imagine it, because the whole substance of his argument is that this is "an alien wedge in the British community". It is a pity that he has not come into our discussions before for he could have heard a lot about this. He has a brain and he would have learned and would not have made the major mistake which means that he will never get a Front Bench position in his party again. I may be wrong in that prediction but it seems to me that the more the right hon. Gentleman goes on, the worse will be his chances of having his voice listened to on other matters such as economics.
These things are now brought into the home by television. We saw and heard the right hon. Gentleman debating with Trevor Huddleston. We found that he is not only an advocate of a floating exchange rate for the £: he is also an advocate of the floating conscience. He has a conscience as a Christian and he has another conscience as a politician. That seems a queer kind of Christianity. That is what the right hon. Gentleman has revealed.
I want to move away from the right hon. Gentleman on to the question of what we are now considering in a deep and thorough-going way. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman, now that he has overcome his shyness and entered the debate—but so far, incidentally, he has brought nothing new to it—will in future take a more active part in the councils of this Chamber, because my mind is not closed about not exactly going towards what the hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) put before us today but at least tidying up the method of taking in workers, which has not been sufficiently stressed today.
This matter is all about workers coming to Britain under several arrangements, about workers coming here to make a contribution to our economy. They make a substantial contribution to it. How will hon. Members opposite, who believe in the free play of market forces, look the employers in the eye when they cannot any longer supply them with this labour force? Although we have worry and unemployment—and I do not take second 272 place in getting at my right hon. Friends on the question of regional unemployment, and so on—it is precisely to the full employment areas, such as Wolverhampton, for example, where, I discovered, there is far less than the average rate of unemployment, that immigrant workers inevitably go.
Both sides of the House, and notably the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), have clung to the concept of the right to have family unity. At the coming General Election, I will fight the Tories very proudly in my constituency because I do not think that the hon. Member for Runcorn has put this question at all clearly. I do not think he is very clear in his mind, because it raises a whole host of questions.
The Leader of the Opposition went along with that, but if he ever became lucky enough to be Britain's Prime Minister I do not think he would put it away, for various reasons, not only because he would be the British Prime Minister, but alsobecause we are a member of the Commonwealth, which, with ties of imperial preference, trade, and so on, is not an entity to be sneezed at. If right hon. and hon. Members opposite embarked on that road, although I seriously doubt whether they ever would, they would come a cropper in the councils of the world and in their relationships with the Commonwealth.
Why are they cluttered up with it? It is to pander to the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West inside the Tory Party. The television screen is a wonderful teacher. It showed us the Tory Party conference on questions of hanging, the 11-plus and racialism. It laid it all bare for us to see.
There is a current of reaction. I am proud to say that the mature Labour Party of my constituency sent a turbaned Indian as its delegate to the Labour Party conference two years ago. He was not measured as a man who had a turban and a darkface—and this one has a particularly dark face: Councillor Gill, with his whiskers on his chin and his hairs on his head, which he covers with a neat turban. He was measured as his ability as a delegate, his intellect and his integrity as a Socialist, and I am proud of that. I am even more proud that he went to the rostrum at the Labour Party conference and was acclaimed as 273 a conquering hero. When I watched the detestable debate at the Tory Party conference, I wondered what would have happened if he had been a delegate there.
I want to conclude by quoting some of the evidence of a trade unionist before our Select Committee at the Oxford investigation. The reference made by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West about our Race Relations Select Committee's investigations in various parts of the country was quite erroneous when in one speech he said that we were surprised—I do not know where he got that from; he did not get it from the evidence or from anything which appears in the sizeable volumes from the Select Committee—that many immigrant people wanted to go back home.
We are not surprised. We are not surprised by what teenagers say when they are 15, 16 or 17. We should be very surprised if the things the people say at those ages they actually carry out when they are 25 or 35. Quite a number of them will wish to move out of this country and quite a number will take their skills with them.
I should like to quote this because I think it is rather good. It is from the evidence of one of the trade union representatives who was being questioned at the Oxford inquiry. He said:I am deputy senior steward of my factory so I get around the complete area, I am also involved in the trades union district committee and trades union council, so I have very varied knowledge of the trade union movement in this area. We have coloured people working in our establishments. We are not worried whether they are coloured or not, we are worried whether they back trade union policy. Of course you have got racialism in any movement in this country. I have only personally met, in my factory with 1,400 people on the floor and 1,600 office staff, one person who is a racialist. I have also met people who have been sent to prison for stealing, and things like that. Of course you have got racialists, you have got idiots like Enoch Powell, and the idiots who march through London. These are people exploiting for political reasons the question of immigrants, members of the Fascist Party in this country, not the average working-class person.I made another important discovery, which may lift up your hearts, brothers and sisters. The Select Committee was entertained by the Mayor of Wolver 274 hampton, a pleasant chap. In front of us were little cards with our names and bearing the Wolverhampton coat of arms. I am now over 50 and I could not read the tiny print underneath the coat of arms, but I say under the coat of arms on the wallOut of darkness cometh light ".That is the borough motto of Wolverhampton. There is hope for us yet.
The central weakness of the attitude of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West is that the vast majority of mankind are coloured people and the British have got to live in the world community. As the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone had to lecture the youngsters at the Tory Party conference, we cannot stop people coming in and we cannot stop people going out. I have always believed in regulation and control. We are moving towards that very sensibly. The right hon. Gentleman's position in the country has very little support indeed.
§ Mr. David Steel
I am particularly delighted to follow the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell), whose work in race relations and immigration I have long admired, as have many hon. Members. His contribution this evening was particularly valuable.
I wanted to deal with only one topic, but before coming to it I would like to say one other thing. It is significant that very often Members and people in the country seem to think that one is entitled to take part in an immigration debate or have views on immigration only if one represents a constituency with a large immigrant population. While the human and social problems of immigration fall directly on certain parts of the country, which is why we listen with particular respect to Members like the hon. Member for Southall, this is not a local problem. It is a national problem.
One of the disservices the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) has done has been not merely to exacerbate racial feeling in areas where there is a large immigrant population but to create fantasies and fears in parts of the country where there are no immigrants. The crofters in the Highlands of Scotland do not want an alien wedge driving up the glens stuffing excreta through their letter boxes. My 275 constituents do not want to see the River Tweed running with blood.
It is a considerable disservice in many parts of the country where immigration is not an immediate social problem that these fantasies and fears have been created as a result of the right hon. Gentleman's speeches, so much so that friends of mine who are would-be Conservative candidates in Scotland tell me that when they go to selection conferences they find it very difficult to obtain the nomination or get sympathy if in answering questions about immigration they align themselves against the views of the right hon. Gentleman. These are in constituencies where there is no immigration problem.
Therefore, I say that this is a national question which we must face, and it is also an international question. I verymuch agree with the concluding remarks of the hon. Member for Southall. In the African countries which I know well, in Jamaica, which I know less well, but which I visited as a member of a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation last month, and in other parts of the world, we find white minorities—some of them citizens of our country, some of them citizens of their adopted countries—working and contributing to the economies and social life of those countries. Every time the right hon. Gentleman makes one of his speeches in this country they shudder, and have reason to do so. If we condone white racialism in this country, we are encouraging black, brown and yellow racialists in other countries to adopt the same logic and follow the same line of argument with regard to our fellow citizens elsewhere.
Before I leave the right hon. Gentleman, it is worth making a passing reference to his statistical expertise. I have here a copy of a speech he made on 6th June, 1962, when he was Minister of Health. It is in the Library. A medical economist, Dr. Seale, had published figures showing that 400 doctors, equivalent to nearly one-third of all those qualifying, were leaving Britain every year. The right hon. Gentleman, addressing a meeting of doctors at which my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley) was present, said:… you and I know perfectly well that this is nonsense … I am irked by the 276 slander upon your service which is implicit in these grotesque allegations.He went on to an elaborate calculation, announcing triumphantly that his figures were… blankly irreconcilable with the allegation of a flight from the Health Service.About two years after this speech figures were published by the Overseas Migration Board showing that not 400 but 900 doctors were leaving Britain each year, a fact which is blankly irreconcilable with the right hon. Gentleman's arithmetic. If he could be more than 200 per cent. out when he was a Minister responsible for the statistics, we are entitled to cast at least a tiny shadow of doubt on some of the prophecies we have heard this evening.
But I do not wish to take up an undue proportion of the Committee's time or to make any contribution to the general debate on the subject of immigration. I want to deal briefly with the continuing problem of United Kingdom citizens who come under the Bill following our legislation of 1968. It is one of my regrets—I wish that I had said this at the time—that because we amended the 1962 Act in 1968 and did not legislate afresh the particular question of the United Kingdom citizens tends to be smothered in the general question of immigration. It is a distinct question, and one about which I would like to speak exclusively for the rest of my speech. I do so not just on behalf of my party but also as a member of an all-party committee, the United Kingdom Citizenship Committee, which continues to look at this problem.
When I spoke on this subject last year I suggested that it was time the Government dealt with the problem of the undoubted anomaly of dual nationality and the people throughout the world who enjoy this status. The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department replied:I think that the hon. Gentleman said that the Government should initiate the abolition of dual nationality status, which, I think, is now held chiefly by Chinese in Malaysia. There would be no immediate practical advantage in doing so, because these people have not yet shown a desire to come here. Our nationality law is complicated, and a review would be a major task which must await an appropriate opportunity."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th November, 1968; Vol. 773, c. 529-530.]I question when there will be an appropriate opportunity.
277 The remark that:There would be no immediate practical advantage in doing so, because these people have not yet shown a desire to come here.is in marked contradiction to observations made during the passage of what is known as the Kenya Asians Act—theCommonwealth Immigrants Act, 1968. The Home Secretary said then:We are dealing with a problem potentially much larger than that of the Kenya Asians. It includes all the Asians in other parts of Africa and this very much larger number of citizens totalling 1 million or more."— [OFFICIAL REPORT,27th February, 1968: Vol. 759, c. 1247.]In other words, when the Bill was being promoted it was convenient to call in aid the problem of this large number of citizens. Then when some of us opposed to this legislation say that there is a problem, that we think that dual nationality is an anomaly, and ask what the Government propose to do about it, we are told that they propose to do nothing, because it is not really a problem.
I beg the Joint Under-Secretary of State to let us know whether anything has been done since we had the debate last year about the question of dual nationality. If we could get out of the way the admitted theoretical problem of the people who are entitled to come here under our legislation and were not covered by the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, we would be left with the real problem, and see the real size of the problem, of those who have exclusively our citizenship and for whom we are exclusively responsible.
I would like to ask a few questions about how the Act has been working in respect of United Kingdom citizens. I appreciate that it may not be possible to have all the answers tonight, in which case I would welcome written answers later. The Home Secretary gave us a little information in his speech. We know that 1,500 voucher applications are allowed each year, but how many have been refused?
The Home Secretary referred to the very small number of appeals against decisions. I believe that one of the reasons for their small number is that very often the vouchers have not been refused but simply have not yet been granted. There is naturally a long time- 278 lag in dealing with the applications when there is a ration of only 1,500.
I am told—and I am subject to con, rection—that about 5,000 applications for vouchers have been received in the first nine months of this year, and that delays of six, nine and even 12 months in processing each application are not unknown. This is particularly serious when one is dealing with school-leavers or students who wish to go to an institution of higher education in this country. It is far too long a time lag in dealing with the applications, and I would like to hear comments on this.
Since the Act was passed, there has been a slight change of policy by the Kenya Government. When the Act was being discussed, notices to leave the country were being issued by the Kenya Government. That is not being done quite so commonly now, but people have their jobs Kenyanised and are not actually required or given notice to leave the country.
Therefore, if my interpretation is correct, the British Government are saying "You are not actually required to leavethe country, so you cannot be given a priority voucher." I would remind the Home Secretary that he said during the passage of the Act that this 1,500 quota would be flexible and not rigid, depending on human needs. While it was always recognised by the Government that if someone were actually required to leave the country, the authorities would act and that person would be given a voucher, a new situation has been created in which people are not required to leave the country and yet no longer have their jobs.
This situation will be more and more aggravated. Positions in banking and those of insurance clerks are being Kenyanised in December. The Trade Licensing Act of Kenya comes under review again in January and it is probable that more traderswill be unable to continue trading. However much we may criticise the pace of Kenyanisation and however much we may regret it, it has to be recognised that it is Kenyanisation and not Africanisation. We must recognise that priority is being given in that country as in this to jobs for citizens, regardless of whether they are white, brown or black.
279 The same problem will occur in Uganda, which has about 40,000 United Kingdom citizens, and where discussions are now publicly taking place about the process of transferring jobs from non-Uganda citizens to Uganda citizens. We must rememberalways, in deciding what is to happen to these people, that it was we in this country who allowed them to opt for our citizenship, with all that that meant. Having given the quotation from the Home Secretary about flexibility and not rigidity, and depending on human needs, I want to know what preparation the Government are making for this likely further demand on places for our own citizens to come to this country.
Is it the Government's intention to increase the 1,500 ceiling? If that is not possible, will they consider taking up the slack between the number of vouchers actually issued last year, which I take to be about 4,000, and the 8,500 which are allowed under the Commonwealth Immigrants Act to come here? I understand from the Home Office that this is possible, that it may well be that our own citizens in Kenya can apply for work vouchers as Commonwealth citizens to come to this country.
Very well, this is a possibility, but is this being publicly declared in Kenya? Are people being encouraged? Are advertisements being inserted in the newspapers inviting applications for these vouchers? I do not think that there is any general knowledge among the Asian community in Kenya that if they are our citizens, even though they may be well down the queue for the 1,500 citizens' vouchers, they may consider applying for one of the general 8,500 vouchers. Publicity of this in Kenya would be a great step forward.
How is the agreement proceeding with the Government of India? Last year I gave the Committee figures of a survey which have been conducted on behalf of our United Kingdom Citizenship Committee in Kenya, in which we discovered that of the British-Asian community there only about 18 per cent. would want to come to this country if they were required to do so, while67 per cent. said that they would like to go to India. Granted that these figures may not be wholly accurate, there is a clear conclusion to be drawn here that many of the British Asian com- 280 munity have no wish to come to this country.
But an agreement was reached between the British and Indian Governments whereby an endorsement could be placed in a British citizen's passport in Nairobi showing that he was entitled to come to this country and, therefore, should be admitted to India. The Government of India would admit them. How many applications for these endorsements have there been? How readily have they been given? My information is that they are not being given very readily.
Finally, to repeat what I said at the beginning, no one disputes the right of the State to control the coming in and the going out of people who are not its citizens. We may argue, and may have argued in the past, about the right policy, but no one questions the right. But I believe that the category of United Kingdom citizens against whom we legislated in 1968 is in quite a different position. They are our citizens, no one else is responsible for them, and the situation at the moment, in which we have created virtually stateless and workless persons who may have to stay on in Kenya, living on their capital if they have any or on their relatives if they have not, is an unhealthy and indefensible situation, legally, socially, morally, ethically—
The Deputy Chairman
Order. The hon. Member is speaking to his Amendment, which is not in the scope of the Bill. I have allowed a number of incidental references, but now he is persisting too much.
§ Mr. Steel
I was not speaking to the Amendment, Mr. Gourlay, but, on the general question, to the Conservative Amendment, on whether this section should be renewed. If it is not renewed, all my fears are removed, because all these people would be allowed to come here. If it is renewed—I understand that the Amendment is to be withdrawn—clearly my argument holds water. I want to know what the Government will do about those people who fall within the Conservative Amendment.
At the time of this Act's passage, there was great public indignation and a great public debate, but now, two years later, people tend to forget about this minority of our citizens in this situation. That is 281 why I have devoted my speech to them. It is important that we do not forget, and if the Labour Party is to claim with justification to be the party of life and soul, it cannot do so until it faces up to the problem of this minority.
§ Mr. Hooley
I propose to relate my remarks to the Bill. It is a little odd that, of all the laws in this country which should be renewed by this Parliamentary technique, two relate to immigration. I should have thought that, on a matter of this importance it was high time that we had some permanent legislation which was valid, subject to the normal processes of Parliamentary amending now and again. It is odd that, on so fundamental a matter, which is of such importance to this country, we must go through this technique, and that of the three pieces of legislation to which it applies no fewer than two are concerned with immigration. This reinforces the need for some careful hard thinking about what the permanent basis of our immigration law should be.
Several people have said, but I think that it needs to be said again, that there is no dispute an the question of controlling immigration, that, throughout the House and, I imagine, the country, it is accepted that we need some proper system of control. In fact, it is the indictment of the party opposite that, for 11 years, they grossly neglected their duty in this respect and that, when they came around to looking at the problem which immigration on a large scale from the Commonwealth was presenting in social and economic terms, their only reaction was the totally negative one of bringing in control without considering the other side of the coin, namely, the need for positive work in this country to deal with the problems which migration was throwing up in our own society.
It is a great achievement of my party and my Government that not merely have we pursued further the problems of control and refined its techniques, but we have equally pursued, through the Race Relations Act, through the establishment of the Community Relations Commission, through administrative acts like educational priority areas and the urban programme, by an extension of our social welfare and many other means, the problem which migration produces as well as the relatively negative problem of 282 exercising direct control over the numbers who come in.
Although the Home Secretary gave a number of figures, it is worth reinforcing some, because there are so many popular myths and a mystique about this business that the facts cannot be too often given. Over the four years 1964 to 1968 there was a net outflow of 300,000. The idea that people are flooding into this country and so building up the population is complete nonsense. There was a net outflow in those four years of no less than 300,000. There was a population increase, but that is a different problem.
In 1965, the Government imposed a ceiling of 8,500 vouchers a year for Commonwealth immigrants, but the actual figures were in 1966, 5,141; in 1967, 4,716; in 1968, 4,634; and in the first eight months of 1969, 2,700. There has been a steady decline in the number of Commonwealth immigrants coming here for the specific purpose of working.
Much play has been made by those with unworthy objectives with the subject of dependants. It is said that it does not matter that there is this relatively small number of workers, for the real trouble is the hordes, and increasing hordes, of women and children, a process which will go on for decades and even centuries. This, too, is quite false. There is control over the admission of dependants. The kinds of dependants permitted to come in are defined. They include wives and children under 16. With the special regulation about the one parent rule, mothers over 60 and fathers over 65 are also permitted. It is worth repeating some of the actual figures. The number of dependants coming in in 1967 was 52,000; in 1968, 48,000; and in the first two-thirds of 1969 it has fallen to as low as 24,000. These figures, too, are declining.
But control should not be equated only with diminution. Essentially, we are talking not about figures but about people, people who have relatives and personal problems and ordinary emotions and feelings and affections for members of their families. We have to see that we not only exercise control, but exercise it fairly and humanely.
In this respect, I wonder whether the system of entry certificates being obtained in the country of origin is working as fairly and as humanely as the Home 283 Office claims. I am not suggesting that it was the intention of the Home Office to be in any way inhumane, but when administrative techniques of this kind are introduced, they need scrutiny and comment to make sure that the original criticisms were unfounded, or, if they were well founded, to show where the the system may need modification.
I want to quote one or two comments by the Yorkshire Committee for Community Relations under the chairmanship of Lord Wade when this proposition was introduced. The comments are cogent and we should have some account of this system in trying to assess whether it is working fairly. The Committee said that it deprecated the change. It noted that visas were no longer necessary for substantial numbers of aliens and commented that the proposal for visas for Commonwealth citizens was incompatible with that. It said that the system would be inconvenient and cumbersome in practice and would lead to personal hardship. I have some evidence that it appears to be causing hardship, particularly to people in India and Pakistan.
The Committeee made one or two positive recommendations. It would be interesting to hear the Government's comments on them. It suggested that British High Commissions provide mobile offices for the entry certificate officers in those districts where substantial numbers of immigrants originated, for example, in certain areas of Pakistan. It said that the responsibility for providing information about new requirements and conditions should be that of the British High Commission. It suggested that advisory and welfare services should be provided—for those who applied for entry certificates or who were subsequently refused —by voluntary organisations at the expense of the British Government and that similar facilities should be provided in the mobile offices.
This is a point that I want to take up, because the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has made an accusation against the Home Office of bad faith in this matter. The Council claims that the Government promised funds to voluntary bodies to undertake this advisory work overseas and that 284 so far this promise has not been honoured. I understood from my right hon. Friend today that the matter was still under discussion and that there was to be a meeting on 26th November specifically to deal with this point. If there was an explicit promise that public money would be made available to voluntary bodies to do this advisory work overseas, I hope that it will be honoured. In any case, in the light of the nature of the new system I hope that some help will be forthcoming from Government funds to deal with the problem of advising potential immigrants and their dependants exactly of their rights and how to go about acquiring entry certificates if they are legally entitled to them.
Another curiosity I have come across in looking up the background of this matter is that apparently dependants in India and Pakistan are required to present themselves at High Commission offices together with their children and that the children are subjected to some form of questioning. I find this rather odd if it is so. It would seem a bit grim to expect a mother to trail one, two or three children to a British office in India, perhaps having had to travel many miles and even many hundreds of miles. I find it extremely odd that the children should be interrogated in any way to establish whether the family as a whole has a right to come to this country. That should be inquired into to see what the situation is. Until some of these matters are cleared up, we need to keep a vigilant eye on the new system to make sure that it is not causing more hardship than can reasonably be avoided.
There is a feeling in this country that we have accepted a totally open-ended commitment in respect of dependants and that thousands will pour into the country willy-nilly year after year. It is therefore important to give some publicity and currency to a special study of this which is being made by responsible people in the Institute of Race Relations. They estimate that the dependants of the mass of people who came here in the late 1950s and early 1960s can be absorbed within five years. They estimate a total of about 236,000, a finite figure, which will be absorbed, with the present rate of flow, in five years. Thereafter, as my right hon. Friend said, it would be a matter of absorbing a much 285 more limited number of dependants of those who are now coming here on entry vouchers at the rate of about 5,000 a year.
I want to pursue one or two points made by the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) becauseI think that we could too easily lose sight of the human and personal problems of the people who are affected by what I candidly regard as the disgraceful Act of 1968, which devalued the British passport and in a sense made practically, although not legally, Stateless a group of people for whom this House, this Government and this country have direct lawful responsibility—the people normally referred to, in reasonable shorthand, as the Kenya Asians, United Kingdom subjects who happen to reside in Kenya.
My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made great play of the fact that the flow of these people to this country in 1968 and 1969 was roughly the same as it had been before the crisis blew up towards the end of 1967 and the beginning of 1968. But, of course, one has to remember that the situation in Kenya is now different, that these people now suffer disabilities in terms of trading and employment which have been imposed by the Kenya Government within recent years and which have rendered the position of the community particularly difficult and uncertain. Therefore, to say simply that one has restored the status quo is not quite enough.
Unfortunately, too, the political situation in Kenya is not nearly as stable as it was a short while ago. I do not want to elaborate this point or speculate about it, but, if a condition of serious instability developed in that country, how exactly would we exercise our undoubted responsibility, both legal and moral, to a community of British subjects to whom we clearly cannot give any physical protection in the same way that we can give it to our own citizens in this country?
Are we saying that, having fixed this limit of 1,500, and while people can come, if, unfortunately, they suffer disabilities imposed by the Kenya Government so as to become exposed to further difficulties on account of political upheaval or further troubles, we wash our hands of them because we have 286 made this arrangement, that it must be good enough for next five, 10 or 15 years, and that is all there is to it? Or are we going to exercise, within the controls we have imposed, some genuine generosity?
Are we, now that the air has been cleared of the rather hysterical atmosphere deliberately worked up by some hon. Members opposite at the end of 1967, going to sit back a little more easily, look at this problem again and say that we over-estimated the problems and acted too harshly, as I believe we did, admitting that perhaps there is now a time when we should be more generous and more humane towards this group of people for whom we have legal responsibility?
I suggest to the Government that we now need to look very carefully at the question of permanent legislation on immigration. I think also that we want to study carefully some of the consequences of the administrative and statutory measures that we have put into force over the past two or three years in relation to Commonwealth people and make sure that we are not actually disadvantaging them in relation to folk from the rest of the world.
It is claimed by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants that we have now put potential Commonwealth immigrants into a possibly disadvantageous situation in certain respects as compared with the laws which we operate in respect of aliens in the broader sense. From my modest reading of the matter, there seems to me to be some substance in that claim and we should examine it.
I am a shade uneasy that we seem to be getting into the habit of mind where the stopping up of loopholes and the pursuit of tiny groups seems more an objective of policy than looking in a more humane and general personal sense at the problems of groups of potential immigrants and seeing what we can do to meet these problems without departing from the basic principle of control. I urge the Government to look especially at the Kenya Asian problem within the context of our immigration policy as a whole.
§ [Sir MYER GALPERN in the Chair]
§ Mr. Gurden
The Home Secretary made another desperate effort today to 287 show that my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) is an isolated figure and that he alone stands out as the bad man in the House of Commons. I want to make it clear that my right hon. Friend is not at all alone in the views he holds. He has many admirers and friends in this House —people who not only admire and support him but believe wholly in all that he has said.
Furthermore, it is my experience, and, I believe of all hon. Members, in this that the large majority of the public support my right hon. Friend's view on immigration and other matters. There is no doubt that the House of Commons is not representing public opinion in this matter. I admit quite freely that the majority of hon. Members rather lag behind public opinion in this and have, indeed, always done so.
The story started in about 1960, when legislation was possible but when perhaps nearly all hon. Members would have thought it impossible to have legislation to control immigration. Shortly after that, perhaps half the House felt that immigration control was a must, but it took until 1964 before the Labour Party and the Liberal Party came round to the idea that such control was essential. Of course, we know why that was so—a General Election was in the offing. It only proves the point that all parties and most hon. Members really knew what public opinion was and that that public opinion supported the Commonwealth Immigrants Act.
The result of all this was, as we well know, that control was promised, the legislation was introduced and, as a result, some restriction was imposed. But always there were implied promises from the parties that they would be nearer to the solution of the problem as time went on. Even today we are having the same promises of tightening the control but never do we get the admission of failure really to solve the problem completely; never do we get the admission of neglect. Always it is too late and too little.
We are left today, and we are likely to be left for another year, with this problem. We have not solved it. Even my own party's policy would not really 288 solve the problem. Although I accept that it would be an improvement and that it is a policy which I support, it could work the other way and relax on the numbers coming it. It would all be in the hands of the Home Secretary. Therefore, we have no guarantee, even under my party's policy, that the problem would be solved. Of course we all believe that there would be a considerable improvement. Unfortunately, the prospect of a General Election does not get us very far since both Front Benches, and even the Liberal Party, seem to have an alliance. But let us be honest and sincere: we all now know that the public realise that politicians have failed to sweep the problem under the carpet, which they have been trying to do ever since I have been a Member.
I have acknowledged that there is to be a reduction in the numbers coming in, and that there is a reduction, but it is infinitesimal. The numbers do not fall very much. We are talking merely of a reduction of about 1,000 or 2,000 when we include the Kenya Asians. The total figure is very little reduced. This ignores the serious population problem here.
I have been able to cut out the next part of what I proposed to say because of what my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West said He has proved the point about the population figures and the number of children being admitted with the immigrants. An accelerated immigration population growth in this country is assured.
I realise that many hon. Members wish to speak and that this debate has been going on for a long time. I shall therefore try to help by shortening what 1 have left to say. The public have in mind such facts as a figure of half a million unemployed in this country. Yet we are still taking in a vast number of immigrants every year, and we shall take them in next year by our very act today. There are perhaps millions without adequate, decent housing accommodation. I accept that this is not entirely due to the immigrants, but we are still taking in immigrants while this housing situation obtains.
§ Mr. Simon Mahon (Bootle)
The hon. Gentleman talks all the time about immigrants. He will know that I am of Irish extraction. He comes from Birmingham 289 he will know that people like myself who were once immigrants have done all that we can to become good citizens of this country. Does he apply the same strictures to the Irish of Birmingham as it does to the coloured people of Birmingham?
§ Mr. Gurden
I am talking about immigrants all the time because that is what this debate is all about. I should be out of order if I discussed Irish immigrants. My point is that we still have half a million unemployed people and yet we are to take in this vast number of immigrants next year. We still have a housing problem. The prospect of overpopulation has been proved conclusively by the figures given today. We still have the social and human problems which are attached to our immigration policy. There are still the risks which my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West clearly implied can arise through racialism. Yet we are arranging for a vast number of immigrants to come here.
The position which we have reached is, in my opinion, so bad that we should stop all immigration. There is no other way out. There has been time. That time has gone by; we have wasted it. Unless we take stronger steps than are proposed even in my party's policy, we shall not do what the public have a right to expect us to do.
§ Mr. John Lee
Before I turn to what I think is the main theme of the debate, I want to echo the remarks of the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) and my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) about the Kenya immigrants. Like them, I voted against last year's Measure which I thought was a miserable, cowardly and unnecessary piece of legislation. I still hold that view. It created rather than solved a problem. But there it is; the Act is on the Statute Book.
What I want to know from my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State is a little more about what might be done to alleviate the plight of people for whom we have a very direct constitutional responsibility. One difficulty which he will encounter is that if he is too specific and suggests a way in which we might assist the Kenya immigrants should their 290 situation, which is already precarious, become more acute, paradoxically he may make the situation worse. The trouble is that the Kenya Government are a great deal less stable than we would wish them to be. There is the danger that if we spell out too clearly what we can do and what we will do this may act as an incentive to the Kenya Government to go on pursuing the some wrongheaded policy on which they have been bent for some time.
Therefore, if my hon. Friend is a little vague in his reply I shall not harry him. But there are plenty of us on this side, and, I apprehend, a few on the benches opposite, who will not let the Home Office rest on this subject. We shall certainly harry him in private because some of us who do not have the psychological, racial obsessions of some right hon. Members have these people on our conscience and we shall not let them slip from our conscience merely because of the distractions of an election or anything else.
I am glad that the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) has come into the Chamber. I want to refer to his speech as calmly as possible. I do not suppose that I shall ever listen to as disgraceful a speech as that which he delivered. If I felt that he was a man other than one who was obsessed with his power struggle for the Tory Party leadership, I might be inclined to say that there might come a day when he was ashamed of himself. But I do not think that that is possible.
I will accept for the sake of this argument that all that the right hon. Gentleman said was factually correot and that, although some of us were a little incredulous, his statistical prognostications were valid. What was so disgraceful was the fact that the whole rationale of his speech was directed to the idea that people of a different skin pigmentation are totally unassimilable. There was hardly a word about environmental changes. I cannot recall a single reference to our encouraging experience of the past with other immigrants and the way in which, after initial difficulties, they have not only been assimilated but have enriched our society by their presence. All this went by the board. The whole idea was that anybody who came with a different skin pigmentation was bound 291 to remain inevitably in psychological and, for the most part, complete social isolation from his fellows.
That is about as disgraceful a suggestion as, I imagine, anybody could make. I regard it—and I do not want to be emotive about this—as very much on a par with the kind of remarks that were made by the Nazis about the Jews before the war, very much in the spirit of Rosenberg's "geopolitics". It is the sort of thing which, at any rate—and I give this to the right hon. Gentleman—
§ The Temporary Chairman (Sir Myer Galpern)
Order. The hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) knows quite well that if the hon. Member who is speaking does not give way, he must resume his seat.
§ Mr. Lee
This sort of singling out of a community which is identifiable because of some characteristic, and the choice of this as a whipping-boy for our economic and social evils, was a characteristic of the Nazis. It is the kind of situation which the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, if he continues in the way in which he is going at present, is likely to try to create in this country as well.
I do not know whether my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary will waste much time in trying to reply to the right hon. Gentleman, but I remind him of a homely example from the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. Long before the present wave of immigrants came to this country, there were coloured immigrants of the most exotic kind in South-East Cardiff. When I went there once to help my right hon. Friend in an election campaign in 1955, I asked those who were campaigning with me, "Do you have any immigration problems? Do you have any political problem arising out of them?" I was met with incredulous surprise that anybody should ask the question. The fact is that the people there had come to be accepted.
§ Mr. Lee
The right hon. Gentleman's party did this. I am not saying that one should not limit numbers. Had the right hon. Gentleman listened to me, he would realise that I have not said that. What I say is that when we listen to the kind of speech the implication of which is that people should be bundled back to their country of origin, and when we prevent them having their families here, with all the social evils attendant upon that, and this in a country which already has a considerable crime wave, that kind of argument is as scandalous and demagogic as anybody could imagine.
The question of past communities is worth pursuing. Exactly the same kind of argument used to be advanced against Jews, Balts, Ukranians and others who came here early this century. Not long ago I looked at HANSARD and saw the report of a debate in 1905 in which exactly the same kind of hysterical atmosphere was engendered by people less eloquent and probably less educated, and, therefore, perhaps a little more excusable than the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton. South-West. That phase passed, however. Those people have come to be accepted in the community.
§ Mr. Powell
What happened was that, as a result, a law was passed which prevented a dangerous increase in the total numbers. That is what happened.
§ Mr. Lee
They were not bundled back, as the right hon. Gentleman would wish the present immigrants to be, nor were they stigmatised in the way that he has stigmatised immigrants, both today and in previous debates, but mostly outside the House of Commons because he has not previously deigned to take part in debates on this subject.
When my party was in opposition it believed in the municipalisation of rented property. If one accepts that a genuine 293 problem created by exotic persons in our communities is in the use of housing facilities, and that many such people have come from countries where standards of living are lower than our own—a factor for which we largely bear responsibility because we were a supervising colonial Power for so many years —one way to ensure the more effective standards of house usage inherent in the public health and public housing Acts is by the municipalisation of rented property.
I do not say that that is the only reason for municipalisation. My right hon. and hon. Friends know perfectly well the other reasons why it would help in the better utilisation of our available housing. I realise that, there being so few Labour local authorities, thanks to the Government's credit squeeze this policy is not likely to be implemented very soon, but one way of scotching the genuine difficulties created by communities overseas and of ensuring better house usage standards would be by the municipalisation of rented property.
When I have discussed with the immigrant community leaders in my constituency, as I am able to do in an atmosphere of frankness because they trust me in a way in which they do not trust many hon. Members opposite—they know where I stand on racial matters—they have accepted that this would be one way in which—
§ The Temporary Chairman
The hon. Member is going a little too far in his development of the municipalisation of rented property in relation to the Amendment under discussion.
§ Mr. Lee
I accept your rebuke, Sir Myer. I think my hon. Friends have taken the point. I do not suppose they want to say much about this, because these days the Labour Government do not like to discuss measures which are too socialistic.
The appeals procedure has been the subject of discussion this evening, and the Home Secretary sounded as if he were a bit aggrieved that he had been pressed into setting up the procedure and thought that this was a reflection upon his integrity. I do not see why it should be thought so, or why he should not wish to have what is primarily a judicial matter dealt with judicially. I think most of us would say that the procedure 294 has worked reasonably well, but in a situation where 110 appeals have been lodged, 96 of which are still pending, there must be something wrong in the working of the machinery.
Those of us who practise in the courts know that many courts function slowly, and that there are far worse examples than this of the ponderous workings of judicial procedure, but it might not be a bad idea if, when a new judicial tribunal is set up, we set a good example by trying to get appeals dealt with more quickly. I suspect that this would mean the recruitment of more personnel to man the tribunals. I do not know of any difficulty about that, and, if my hon. Friend knows, perhaps he will tell us. After making allowances for the teething troubles of a new system, I think that this should be dealt with as soon as possible.
I hope the day will come when all this system of immigrant control will no longer be necessary. It is tolerable only as long as there is a measure of unemployment and as long as we have a largely unplanned economy. Both the Act of 1962 and the legislation since are a concession to human weakness. I have an immigrant community in my constituency. It is a marginal constituency, but I do not mind sticking out my neck and saying what I have said. Though it may have been necessary to introduce controls, it was a concession to human weakness, and I hope that one day we shall have the moral courage on both sides of the House of Commons to do away with it.
§ Sir George Sinclair (Dorking)
The Home Secretary at the beginning of his speech said that one of the principles on which the inflow of Commonwealth immigrants should be based was the absorptive capacity of this country. Many of us would accept that this is an important principle, though not the only one.
We in this country have a major task on our hands if we are to succeed in providing a framework within which roughly 1,250,000 immigrants are to make their best contribution to our economy and to our society and if we are to absorb those to whom we are committed in addition—namely, the 200,000 dependants of those who are already in this country, plus a commitment to the Asian passport holders from East Africa.
295 Success in this task is as important to our host society, where we are trying to create an open and tolerant community, as it is to the immigrants themselves.
In addition, we have an inflow of voucher holders who come here to work and settle, and later bring in their families. This in round figures runs at the rate of about 5,000 a year. If one is to allow for families, it brings with it, in each year of immigration running at that rate, a commitment of a total of 18,500.
The Home Secretary has made an outstanding contribution to relations between those Commonwealth immigrants and the host community in Britain. His 1968 Race Relations Act has provided a civilised legal framework which is already helping towards decent human relations. The Race Relations Board, set up under the Act, is doing a difficult job with growing success. The Chairman of the Race Relations Board would claim no more for it than that. All this helps the process of absorption in this country which the Home Secretary has made one of his guiding principles in his attitude to the inflow of Commonwealth immigrants.
But one other body, the Community Relations Commission, has failed to take the opportunities open to it. Yet this Commission and its local community relations councils should be one of the most important instruments for helping in the difficult and long-term task of absorption. I fear that these opportunities will not recur. The ground has been lost and relationships in some areas have been soured because of lack of leadership. The Home Secretary appointed to lead this Commission a chairman who could give to it something of the order of one full day's work a week—for a task which demandedfull-time work and outstanding leadership if it was to make the impact it should and to take the opportunities which were open to it. The Commission has failed to gain the confidence of the local community relations councils and to win for itself the respect of the immigrants and others who work for better community relations.
The Home Secretary must bear the main responsibility for allowing the Community Relations Commission to drift like a ship without a captain, without a helmsman, without a chart and without a 296 course. He should have been aware of its weakness. A report was made to him by a Civil Service Department team which looked into the work of the Commission in June and July of this year. Yet the right hon. Gentleman did nothing to reconstitute it and get rid of those who were responsible for its failure. That is the reason why experienced and qualified staff are leaving the Commission and seeking other employment. That is why there is so much dissatisfaction among local communityrelations councils with their relationship with the Commission. I would refer the Joint Under-Secretary of State to only two areas, namely, Newcastle and Birmingham, The hon. Gentleman will know to what I refer.
I want now to deal with the current rate of 5,000 voucher-holders per year and the consequential number of dependants.To add that sort of figure annually to our current total is wrong. It is an option. We have no obligation. It cannot be right to add that sort of number, plus their dependants, to the total task that we have to face. It is wrong while we still have to absorb a backlog of about 200,000 dependants and still have to honour our commitments to passport holders from East and Central Africa.
Looking at the make-up of the 5,000, about a third of whom are semi-skilled or unskilled, how can we justify bringing in that number in the face of 500,000 unemployed of our own? It is insupportable. The other two-thirds have good qualifications. Some are skilled technicians, many are professionally qualified, and others have technological degrees. This is inverse colonialism of the worst sort. We are stripping from countries which need skilled people ten or a hundred times more than we do the very people who would help make their development plans work. At the same time we are frustrating our own efforts as a donor country to the plans of the developing countries by taking their skilled personnel.
Let us take the example of doctors. Some of us have experience of working in rural areas abroad where there is less than one doctor to a million people. The areas which are being denied these doctors are the great rural parts of Pakistan and India, where health services, family planning facilities and the 297 rest of it are most important. Yet here are we so fat-bellied and unimaginative that we cannot reorganise our own medical education to supply our hospital services. This is a disgrace.
Some time ago, I took up the matter with the Secretary of State for Social Services. In the end, I suppose, convinced not by me but by Lord Todd and his Commission's Report on medical education, he said that for at least three years he would have to continue recruiting 700 doctors a year from, roughly, India and Pakistan. We shall never get on with the task of reorganising our medical, education and health services until we take the step of turning off this number and waiting until the bleats come in from hospitals which have to close down wards in Birmingham and Wolverhampton. That is what will happen, and it should happen. That would bring people to their senses and make them take the steps that they should have taken 10 years ago.
I hope that we shall continue to provide roughly 10 per cent. of our university places for overseas students. This is a valuable form of technical assistance that we give. But if it is to be technical assistance it must imply that the students concerned go back to serve their countries. I have failed in all my attempts to discover how many students in that category go back to their own countries to serve their people, enriched by whatever training and experience we have been able to give them. I do not believe that we know the number. I suggest that the Government should set up a sample survey to show what happens to the students that come here and for whom we make room in our universities because we believe that it is a valuable part of technical assistance.
As for dependants, the leaderships of all our parties are firmly agreed that the adjustment of immigrants must be on the basis of families. I go 100 per cent. with that, and utterly reject those programmes and suggestions which, by incentives, harassment or anything else we like to call it, amount to getting rid of our commitments to dependants. That is absolutely wrong. But if we accept this and know that there will be another 200,000 people coming into areas where 298 the density of immigrant settlement is already most intense, we have an absolute obligation to cut down on that section of immigration which is at our will.
I believe that a former Minister said that the criterion for getting people in on vouchers should be based entirely on economic benefit to this country. We owe a duty to the people who are making such a good go of their human relations with the newcomers not to aggravate the situation by accepting this additional commitment of between 5,000 and 18,500 a year.
I welcome the introduction of entry certificates. I was glad that the Home Secretary paid tribute to the fact that the idea originated with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. I hope that some members of the Select Committee, if so permitted by the House, will go out to examine the system on the ground in January.
In conclusion, I hope that the Home Secretary will take note of what has been said in the Press and in this House, and what the report available to him has said, besides what is known throughout the local community relationship councils, and will take immediate steps to reorganise the Community Relations Commission. 1 also hope that he will now consider where our duty lies to our own people and to the people of the dependent countries in continuing this inflow of 5,000 voucher holders a year, with their attendant families to come.
I shall be glad if the Minister will deal with those two main points when he sums up.
§ Mr. Heffer
The speech just made by the hon. Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair)should be contrasted with that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). On the one side, we have the voice of sanity, recognising that there are problems from which we cannot run and, on the other, the voice of the demagogue who inflames the passions of those who least understand the problem, and arouses in them feelings that are contrary to the best interests of our people.
The great difficulty in this argument is that we have passed from immigration control to colour. I accept that we cannot let thousands and thousands of people 299 enter cities that already have slums, unemployment and bad social conditions without recognising that that in itself will cause an explosion. It has happened before. It has even happened in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), when there were riots against Irish immigrants. The people were fleeing from the famine conditions in Ireland and seeking employment in Ebbw Vale. The fact that there was no employment there to be had led to the riots.
I will try not to be emotional, but the right hon. Gentleman is concerned with the question of colour. That he made quite clear. He spoke of the immigrants —I hope that this is not the Government's definition, otherwise I am horrorstruck—and then of the children born of immigrants as if they were of a different colour. Apparently that was how one determined coloured immigrants. We have some of the so-called coloured immigrants in my family. Relatives of mine married coloured people. When I see those children in my family I regard them not as aliens but as little children who are part of our community.
I resent the sort of speech made by the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon and what he has said on the subject at other times outside the House. If fear and tension have been built up, the right hon. Gentleman has made a great contribution to them. The day after he made his first disgraceful speech I went to buy petrol from my local garage. The chap there, whom I had known for a long time, suddenly said to me, as though referring to something that had come from under a stone, "Yes, it's quite right. We have to get rid of all these coloured people, and push them out of the country." The cloak of respectability was given to such people by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. He has done a great disservice to the people of this country.
I want to refer to areas where there have been immigrants for a long time. I come from the City of Liverpool. It is an immigrant city and not all are coloured immigrants. Those who have come from Northern and Southern Ireland, from Wales and Scotland, we would find, make up almost the whole community. There may be a few from Lancashire; I have never discovered 300 them, but there may be a few. We have a coloured community, and a Chinese community of long standing. When the Select Committee on Race Relations went to Liverpool, the building trade district secretary asked, "What have you come to Liverpool for? We have no problems." He got very annoyed, but we explained that we wanted to get evidence from an area where there had been immigration for a long time and prove that it does not lead to the dangers that some hon. Members have described provided that it is dealt with in a sensible fashion.
Let us look at some of the figures the right hon. Gentleman gave this afternoon. First, there was what he called the immigrant population, which he said will go up to 2½1/2 million. [HON. MEMBERS: "3½1/2 million."] Yes, it will be 31 million or 41/2 million. Of course there will be people in this country with a different colour of skin. So what? If they are born and bred in this country, are we to continue to talk about an immigrant population? Do we then talk about the Irish in Britain as an immigrant population? The right hon. Gentleman referred to the Balts and said that there was legislationto prevent a further influx, but those who were here were not considered evermore as aliens.
Do we consider the sons and daughters of Italians who come in as aliens? Of course not; they are part of our multiracial society. The right hon. Gentleman does not believe in a multi-racial society and does not think that it can be built. I believe in the basic goodness of all people, and I think it can be built provided that we do not have the sort of demagogic inflammatory speech such as he makes which can affect in a fantastic and ridiculous way people who have real problems.
I wish now to refer to the official Opposition. Hon. Members opposite have got themselves into a muddle. We are no longer arguing about the necessity of control but hon. Members opposite say that, because of pressure in their party, in developing this argument there should be a piece of legislation which would deal with aliens and Commonwealth citizens. They are getting themselves into a very difficult situation because there is a clear distinction. My 301 hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor), who sought leave to introduce a Bill under the Ten-Minute Rule some time ago, made the point that most aliens who asked to be allowed to stay here permanently are granted leave to do so, and that roughly 18,000 a year have been granted leave in the last five years. I do not know whether that is correct, but it is a very big number.
There is a difference between aliens and Commonwealth citizens. Unless aliens who come here to work become naturalized citizens, they do not have the right to vote. In the type of legislation suggested by hon. Members opposite, if Commonwealth citizens were to be treated the same as aliens, would that mean that the right to vote would be withdrawn from them? We are entitled to an answer to this important question. If that is what hon. Members are saying, I do not think there is any argument for combining the legislation in that way.
I believe that the argument that we cannot solve our problems for the future unless there is repatriation is a serious and dangerous one, because its logic is this. The argument is that we repatriate on a voluntary basis. But these people have their homes and their families here. They have inter-married here. More and more little immigrant children with Englishfathers have been born. They no longer wish to return. So the next argument is that there must be legislation to force them to return. That logic would lead ultimately to a form of Fascism.
There have been demagogues in the House before the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West. Long before my time there was Sir Oswald Mosley. There were many others who because of ambition, because they were fired with the feeling that their attitudes were superior to those of anyone else, were led into paths which ultimately could only mean the end of democratic society. I beg the right hon. Gentleman to think now, before it is too late, about the direction in which he is going.
§ Sir Edward Boyle (Birmingham, Handsworth)
This is the first occasion since 1964 on which I have had the opportunity of taking part in one of these debates. As the Committee knows, it will also be the last opportunity I shall 302 have, which explains why I want to make a, fairly short, speech this evening.
For nearly 20 years I have represented a Birmingham constituency which has been increasingly a multi-racial constituency during the 1960s. I have always realised in my constituency that the question of immigration and race relations is an extremely difficult one. It is one, further, on which public opinion needs to be reassured.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Gurden) on one point, though, as I shall show, I disagree with him on some other points. I agree with him that it is wrong to try to sweep this subject under the carpet. At the same time, I must say that I feel that a certain restraint in speeches on the subject is right. In other words, this is a subject on which it is right to be both firm-footed and—if one likes—toughminded as well as idealistic; but, as I say, a certain restraint in dealing with the subject is desirable.
I have always voted in the House for measures to control immigration. And I look upon myself, as one who was in the Shadow Cabinet in 1966, as entirely committed to the last Conservative Election Manifesto and to the section in it which dealt with immigration. Nevertheless, like my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. lain Macleod), who wrote recently to The Times, I am one who would prefer to lay the greatest emphasis on the fair and equal treatment of those who are already here. I believe that we must do both, but I should personally lay the greatest emphasis on that.
I do not see how anyone can read the P.E.P. and Street Reports without realising that there is a real problem of discrimination in this country. We need to mobilise all agencies, including the law, to deal with this. There are real problems in housing, too. I mention it only in passing. but there is a great deal of evidence showing the number of immigrants—who mostly come here because their work was wanted—finding themselves paying more money for worse accommodation further away from work.
There is also a great deal of evidence on the schools side. I am always personally concerned not just about problems in the primary schools, but increasingly about problems in the secondary schools 303 also. Far too many children of immigrant families for our comfort are in the least favoured secondary schools, and they and their parents know it perfectly well.
I am very much against talk of inevitable doom when dealing with this subject. I shall come on to one problem which myright hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) rightly raised, the problem of the centre city areas, but I do not believe that we serve any useful purpose by fanning feeling through talk of inevitable doom. It will bea shocking moment in our country's history if we cannot solve the problem presented today by a coloured immigrant population of about 1 million, and a population which, in the mid-1980s, I believe, on the best evidence, will be something like2 million to 2¼1/4 million. I do not wish to argue about figures tonight with my right hon. Friend, but I find myself persuaded by the chapter on this subject in the survey, "Colour and Citizenship", which appeared earlier this year. Hon. Members will know that in Chapter 30, pages 629-38, there is a careful survey of prospective numbers. I believe that 2 million to 2¼1/4 million is the likely figure by the mid-1980s.
As regards party policy, I frankly disagree on this point with my hon. Friend the Member for Selly Oak. I do not wish to see the policy of my party still further tightened. I express my warm admiration for the way in which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) have resisted pressure and, more than that, have put forward what I regard as sound and constructive arguments on this subject on numerous occasions.
My right hon. and learned Friend knows my feelings on this matter, and I am glad to have this opportunity to state them publicly in the House of Commons. I think that my right hon. and learned Friend has had an extraordinarily difficult task to perform in the past few years, and my admiration for him in the way in which he has fulfilled that task is enormous. Whether the House has always agreed with him or not, he has never been lofty or above the battle. Despite a busy life outside the House— 304 and he has been a Member, on and off, for 30 years—my right hon. and learned Friend has never been too busy to play a full part in debates in the House, always answering everyone with his accustomed intellectual clarity and with great good humour, although with some vigour on occasion. I pay the warmest tribute to him for all this.
Let me now take the two crucial points of policy. I am thankful that we on this side, in our official policy, have remained firm about the right of entry for the dependants of those immigrants already in this country. I cannot believe that it could be right to separate the wives and dependent children of those already here. I thought that my right hon. and learned Friend made the classic statement on this aspect of policy when he spoke on 15th November, 1967, just two years ago. He said:I have nothing but approval for a man who builds up a home here lawfully, after a lawful entry, and who wishes to take care of either or both of his aged parents or wishes to bring in his wife and young children. I believe that… quite apart from considerations of humanity, considerations of enlightened self-interest would lead to that conclusion since the separation of a family between the male member and the dependants—certainly of the wife and children—might give rise to social problems far more serious than the importation of wife and children." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th November, 1967; Vol. 754, c. 448-449.]Those words are just as true today.
This view is held by many people in this country if they are directly challenged on it. I know this from experience in my own constituency. I am thinking of members of the city council who might be described in general as hard-liners on this subject, but who, when pressed on the question of dependants, would agree that it is wrong to separate families. The House of Commons should never think of yielding on this point.
I also entirely agree with what has been said about repatriation. Here I echo what I think were the key words used by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition at the last Conservative Party conference, when he said:There must be absolutely no harassment of those who are already here in this country."No harassment" is the phrase I have always used. They are words I have also heard from the hon. Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Walden), and they exactly express what many of us feel.
305 I now come to the point which bothers me most in what my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, said this evening. I thought that he came uncomfortably close to repeating what I have always regarded as the highly unfortunate phrase of Lord Radcliffe about the "alien wedge", the idea that the coloured immigrant community in this country would remain for ever an alien wedge.
There are three reasons why I have always deplored that phrase having come into the currency. First, I cannot look on as aliens for ever those who have made a perfectly lawful entry into this country, who have become United Kingdom citizens, and whose children in their education have never known any other country but this. That is a crucial point. We are getting in cities like Birmingham today increasing numbers of children who have had all their education in this country, and who in their home life have known no other country. I believe that young people of whatever party—again I think of experience in my constituency—increasingly feel very strongly on this point.
This applies to many people who would disagree most strongly with the party opposite on the running of the economy or how much equality we wish to achieve in this country. Those who are Right-wing in politics in terms of economic policy, many younger ones among them, often feel very strongly about not describing as aliens those children of immigrant families who have never known any other country but this.
Second, the doctrine of the alien seems to me wrong in terms of the life style of many people. To quote from "Colour and Citizenship" again, one of the interesting features of this survey is the evidence it provides of the adaptation of so many members of immigrant communities, in particular many West Indian immigrants:Among the Caribbean immigrants there are very many who are moving away from the ' masses' into the section which is oriented to middle-class forms of behaviour, indeed, to Victorian respectability. The West Indian immigration is now very nearly complete.I believe that that is true. There is a great deal of what seems somewhat akin to Victorian respectability in a number of West Indian families in this country.
306 Third, I believe that not only to young people but to large numbers of people of all ages in this country the habit of looking on all immigrants as for ever aliens is beginning to change very considerably. I find that if an audience is reminded of the number of children of West Indian families who speak with Birmingham accents on the buses, this is a point they have also begun to notice. Very often if one talks to those who habitually go shopping in areas where there are large numbers of immigrant families they do not think just in terms of the stereotype; they do not think of immigrants just asa collective them "they are beginning to notice them and talk about them as individuals. This seems to me to be happening increasingly. No longer do they simply regard them as a sort of alien collective in the community.
[Mr. SYDNEY IRVING in the Chair]
Indeed, I should have thought, from the evidence of one's own postbag, that it is very often not in the mixed areas where there is perhaps a proportion of 70 white to 30 coloured that one finds the sharpest intolerance on this question. It is often in those areas furthest away from the problems of the big city centres. If I think of letters which I have received this last year or two, some of the least tolerant and, indeed, those from the minority of correspondents who seemed not so far removed from the threshold of mental illness, come from areas very far indeed from the areas where the real social problems are to be found.
That leads me to say something about the real problems which we know exist, the problems of the centre city areas. Of course there are problems there. There are and have been for many decades problems of multi-occupation. This is one of the hardest points to get over. The problems of multi-occupation started before the coloured influx in my constituency. Some started before the Second World War.
Incidentally, in certain respects, in its analysis of prejudice, the Mark Abrams survey "Colour and Citizenship" was surely too optimistic. Regarding "prejudice" not simply as a term of abuse but in its most literal meaning, I believe that there is a great deal of prejudice about 307 in the country, and a great deal of misinformation. The problems of multi-occupation started decades ago. They may have been intensified by immigration they are not just caused by it.
Again, we all know of the problem of social composition of our big cities. May I say this to my right hon. Friend? There is of course a huge problem here. Many able academics, like Dr. Pahl of the University of Kent, have pointed out rightly how, in the centres of our big cities we may increasingly find a small section of the population living in relatively luxury accommodation and a large number of rather badly-off wage earners but that a growing fraction of the middle element in the population is tending more and more to move out to the suburban areas. That is very true, and it is happening increasingly in cities like Birmingham.
But to blame all this on, and to regard it as simply associated with, coloured immigration and nothing else would 132 extraordinarily dangerous. It is enormously important, whatever the composition of the next Parliament, than hon. Members on both sides should think hard and constructively about the problem of our centre city areas. We all acknowledge in this House the Plowden concept of positive discrimination in favour of educational priority areas. We must think of this not just in terms of nursery schools and play groups but right up the education ladder.
I believe that there is also a part for the universities to play. I have often had a vision that in certain parts of our big cities it might be possible for universities to buy up house property not too expensively in some of the areas which are on the verge of being run-down areas yet are still capable of "redefinition upwards", as sociologists would say. That is something which I hope I may be able to put into practice in the years that follow. But, for goodness sake, on this subject, where the big city centres are concerned, let us think constructively for the future.
My last point is simply the importance of this subject in relation to Britain's position in the world. I can remember very well, when I was first interested in politics, going on a debating tour of the 308 United States with the right hon. Member the Minister of Technology and Mr Kenneth Harris. One of the subjects which we used to debate in America, at their request, was that "A Federal World Government should be established". We used to point out some of the difficulties and wonder whether all our American friends would be quite so enthusiastic when they reflected that a truly representative world government might not be Christian, white or liberal-democratic.
More recently, working as a member of the Pearson Commission, I have been impressed more than ever with the need for a world order which would enable all nations and all peoples to live in peace and dignity. I do not believe that we in this country can keep the relative advantages of our position unless we concern outrselves to the best of our ability with all nations and all peoples.
We may occasionally go broke as a nation, but we are not poor and we can remain politically first class in terms of our concern for civilised values. Above all, let us give our minds as well as our emotions to this problem of immigration and race relations.
There seems on this sort of occasion a certain appropriateness in finishing up with one quotation from an ancient Greek philosopher. I will make just one quick quotation, which I dare say my right hon. and learned Friend would recognise in the original, from Democritus which I take from a lecture which Sir Robert Birley gave some years ago:When the powerful in a state, face to face with the weak, are prepared to make financial sacrifices for them and to help them and to satisfy them. that is the time you get, first, compassion and the end of isolation and he appearance of comradeship and mutual defence, and then civic agreement, and then other benefits beyond the capacity of anyone to enumerate in full.Those seem to me not only idealistic words but very sensible words, too.
§ Mr. Hogg
If I rise at this point in the debate it is not to bring it to an end, but to play my own part in it.
This is the fourth successive debate that we have held on the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill in which I have played some part. It has been by far the most interesting. It has drawn forth important speeches from the Home Secretary, from 309 my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). from the Liberal Party and from my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle). I should be less than grateful if I did not begin by saying a word of thanks for the generous words which my right hon. Friend the Member for Handswortn addressed to me.
My task in the last four years has been hard. If there is one thing that I have found harder to bear than anything else it has been the belief which has somehow grown up that because I have sought not to inflame feeling, I have thereby minimised the problem. It does not follow that because one speaks in carefully, measured language, one does not realise the importance of a problem.
Technically, we are discussing the continuance for one year of the immigration controls affecting aliens and Commonwealth citizens and anything one has to say must be related to the desirability or otherwise of continuing those controls. I hope that I may stay in order if reflect, with that main restriction in mind, upon the notable speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West.
I share the welcome which was felt on both sides of the Committee that he had contributed to the subject in the Chamber. I am bound to say that I also share the feeling that I should have welcomed it earlier still, not only last year when the opportunity was available to him. It occurred to me during the course of his remarks that almost everything he said could equally have been brought within the rules of order in our various debates on the Race Relations Bill. After his first speech on this subject, perhaps in some ways it would have been more appropriate to do it then.
I think that it is important that what I have to say to him should come from this bench and that I should say it. I was left with the almost irresistible feeling that I would draw from his premises almost exactly the opposite conclusion to that which he drew himself. This disturbs me, because he has a reputation for being a man of logic. The first premise, which appears to be incontestable, is that the bulk of the problem as he sees it, and with this the Home Secretary agreed, derives from the influx 310 of Commonwealth citizens who came into the country shortly prior to the imposition of the 1962 Act whose continuance we are now discussing, and that anything we can do by continuing the control or increasing it can have only a marginal significance upon the problem with which he was truly concerned.
My right hon. Friend said that it would not solve the problem. I would go further and say that, on his figures, it would only have a marginal significance upon the problem. I cannot but admit candidly that the period to which he relates is one in which he was Minister of Health and I was Minister for Science. I fully endorse what my hon. Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) said in opening—that we were not particularly helped by the Labour Party at that period.
The second point I drew from my right hon. Friend's premises was that, although he places and has placed this evening a good deal of emphasis upon repatriation, I am bound to tell him that I was unable to see any reason to believe that that would have any numerically significant influence upon the problem. Perhaps, as he said, it was because it was outside the terms of the debate that he was unable to adduce reasons for believing that it would have a numerically significant influence upon the problem. But I doubt whether it would. There are difficulties about repatriation which other right hon. and hon. Members have entered into and which I shall not repeat now
This leads me to the third point, which is my conclusion. I was unable to derive, apart from the reference to repatriation, any conclusion in my right hon. Friend's speech at all. It was a prophecy of gloom without hope of redemption and I do not believe that that is the right way of approaching the problem. It is no good saying to the population of immigrant origin, like the man in the poem,The other day upon the stairI met a man who wasn't there.I met him there again today.I wish the fellow'd go away.'That was what my right hon. Friend was saying, but it does not add up to very much when one says it. My conclusion is that, whether we want it or not, we are fixed with this problem whether it was his fault and mine—particularly hisbecause he was Minister of Health.
§ Mr. Powell
Would my right hon. and learned Friend elucidate the point of his reference to my being Minister of Health?
§ Mr. Hogg
I was referring to the state of the hospitals. But I am willing to share my full sense of responsibility, whether it was our fault or the Labour Party's which led to our present problems. But I think we might as well face the fact that we have to cope with it rather than hope that it will go away.
The only way I can see of coping with it is to say that we have got to persuade our own children and the children of immigrant origin to owe loyalty and allegiance to a country which has played no small part in the history of the world and whose enduring philosophy has been one of liberty under the law with human rights and dignity as its dominant theme. If we do not do that, then we shall fail, and it may very well be that we do fail. But if we do not do it, we shall not be trying to succeed and I do not abandon the hope that we shall succeed.
Although I was vastly impressed by my right hon. Friend's statistics, I am bound to say that I was taking my little dog around the cricket pitch near my home the other day when a very dark coloured little boy came up and produced a ball. I was expecting him to say something in a rather strange language. but he said, "If I throw the ball for him, do you think he'll fetch it?". I could not help thinking that this was part of the foreign element which my right hon. Friend wants to send back to talk Urdu.
There is one other thing I want to say to my right hon. Friend. Race and culture are very difficult things to define. But I believe that culture and religion—and when I say "religion I mean it not in its theological sense but in the basic sense of values—are things which can be imparted to people of different genetic origins. If we can persuade people to be British in culture and in their relationship to one another, we shall have succeeded. Unless we succeed in that, we must fail, and my right hon. Friend's worst predictions may prove to be true. But I am on the side of those who are going to try.
I turn to the speech of the Home Secretary with which I differ a little, too. I 312 start the consideration of immigration control from a point which has become generally accepted. We do not want a net addition to the population of this country. It is not manifestly under-populated. It is, as a matter of fact, suffering, migration-wise, a net loss, but we are making up for the net loss as best we can by natural means, and our population is increasing. The burden of proof lies on those who wish to introduce immigrants into this country, and I start from that proposition.
But what is meant by "immigration"? What is meant is not the person who comes here on a visit or to study on a course and to go back and contribute to his own national culture. It is not the person who comes to stay here while doing a temporary job. It is the person who comes to stay here for permanent settlement. This is the problem which we are discussing. If we can eliminate that problem in immigration control by a better legislative framework, we shall be making, not a major contribution to the numerical problem with which my right hon. Friend was concerned, but a contribution to the sense of confidence which people would have that we are in control of our own affairs.
We are arguing about the continuation of three Acts containing two different codes. The main differentiation between the people caught by one code, the aliens' code, and the other code, the Commonwealth code, is not a rational one but an historical one.
As the Home Secretary is not here—and he has explained the reasons for his absence—I asked the Under-Secretary of State honestly to answer this question before he starts criticising my right hon. Friends and myself for our official policy: what justification is there in 1969 for these two extremely complicated codes? Why should not anybody who comes from an independent country abroad come within the same legal framework? I can see no reason why he should not. Secondly, why should not that legal framework be permanent instead of having to be renewed year by year, sometimes with an ad hoc addition thrown in during the course of the 12 months?
I understand that the Home Secretary agrees, at least in principle, that the code should be permanent. If it is to be 313 permanent, can it seriously be contended that it should not be amalgamated into a single body of law?
As far as I can see, we have heard no reason in the debate today to justify what is to my mind the absurd contention that two rather similar but in detail wholly different codes relating to what is fundamentally the same problem should be either re-enacted year by year or, worse still, embodied in a permanent feature of our legislation. The burden of proof again surely rests on those who wish to advance this, at first sight, paradoxical proposition.
I want to go further than that in pressing the matter. Although we have explained that, for obvious reasons, we cannot vote, I believe that much of what is misunderstood about Government immigration policy and about Opposition immigration policy derives from the fact that there are two rather complicated codes instead of one to understand.
I should like to go from there to this proposition. If one grants, as I think one must, that the problem arises only in relation to those who come here for permanent settlement, our first proposition, from which we have always started, is that no one should be entitled at the moment of entry to an unrestricted right to remain permanently or indefinitely in this country: in other words, that everybody at the moment of entry should be allowed to enter only for a definite period of time, which can be renewed as it is now in the case of aliens after a certain number of years in the light of the particular history and merits of the case and then turned into a period of indefinite entry.
I cannot understand why what is considered good enough for a Frenchman is not also good enough for a Pakistani in that respect. After a number of years of residence for work, it seems to me to be both more rational and equally just that each should be judged in the light of his performance over a period of time.
§ Mr. Bidwell
Is not the right hon. and learned Gentleman himself now being a little illogical? Does not the existence of the Commonwealth rather fit in with the man he met on the stairs, who was there all the time? Is it not the fact that there are aliens and there are Commonwealth 314 citizens who come here for permanent settlement as distinct from those who come here thinking of a temporary stay?
§ Mr. Hogg
The hon. Member is only making in slightly more confused form the point made rather better by his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary when he claimed in his opening speech that there are two quite different types of people. He said that there are aliens who come for temporary stay and Commonwealth people who come for permanent settlement orindefinite stay. To begin with, this does not correspond with fact because there are in the reverse way Commonwealth people who come for temporary stay and aliens who come for permanent settlement. Secondly, what the hon. Member does not understand is that the pattern, in so far as it follows the pattern postulated by the Home Secretary, is the creation of the legal framework and not vice versa.
If we have a legal framework which is different for aliens and permits them only a temporary stay, we will get aliens who for the most part come for a temporary stay. If we have a legal framework which allows Commonwealth citizens an indefinite stay immediately after the moment of legal entry, or 28 days even after the moment of illegal entry, we get a type of Commonwealth immigrant who comes for indefinite stay. However, to identify the problem which we have created by the legal framework is not to give a reason why we should perpetuate it. That is why I criticise the Home Secretary and his supporter from the back benches.
What advantages would accrue if our prescription were to be followed? We would get, first, the advantage of permanenceand coherence. Secondly, we would get the advantage of simplicity. Thirdly, we would get a reversal of the reverse discrimination against aliens which is inherently unacceptable and which will become more unacceptable if the Common Market proposal becomes a reality, on which I am not making any observation. It is unacceptable in itself in that we should have a reverse discrimination against aliens on the ground of their national origin in favour of Commonwealth citizens, equally from independent countries, on the ground of their origin but without any reciprocity in 315 favour of our own citizens in either case. This would be got rid of and so, to a large extent, would be the problem of dependants of new entrants.
I entirely agree with what my right hon. Friend and other hon. Members have said about the dependants of old entrants,and, if I have time, I will come back to that. The dependants of new entrants can be immediately dealt with both more humanely and more effectively if from the start they have the same status for temporary entry as those who bring them in. They do not add to the demographic problem, and, incidentally, the number of types of evasion, which I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman wholly enumerated in his opening speech, could be greatly reduced—evasion by the misuse of short-term visit permits, which has taken place on a quite substantial scale, and evasion by false identification.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
What would be the difference under the new scheme proposed by the Opposition? If at the moment, as is alleged, Commonwealth citizens come in as visitors on short term and evade, under the right hon. Gentleman's scheme they will still come in on short term and still evade.
§ Mr. Hogg
Not if they come in on a work permit because, as my hon. and learned Friend said in opening, they will have to go to the particular job to which the work permit relates. If at the moment they come in under a voucher and donot take up the job to which the voucher relates, nothing can be done about it. If they come in under a B voucher, they need not take up any job and can move wherever they like, take whatever employment they like and concentrate in any area they like. But if they come in under a work permit, as the alien comes in, that form of evasion will be to that extent more difficult; they will have to carry their papers and to justify what they do. Moreover, it will help significantly the overcrowded areas and the problems of local authorities if they come in under work permits, and if work permits are limited to places where opportunities for employment and housing exist, none of which is possible under the existing scheme. Incidentally, although I say it in parenthesis in this part 316 of my speech, it will enable us to abolish what I regard as the ridiculously short period of 28 days of unrestricted entry which attaches to Commonwealth immigrants.
The Home Secretary appeared to be under an illusion that when I said two years ago that I would treat Australians, Canadians and New Zealanders, because of their association with us and particularly in two world wars, sympathetically, I was saying something which was inconsistent with my general thesis that the legal framework should be exactly the same for all peoples. My answer is perfectly simple. A distinction must be made between three levels of administration.
The first is the legislative framework which is of necessity the same and will be passed by Parliament. The second is the administrative framework of regulations under which, for instance, the Irish have special privileges under the Commonwealth Immigrants Act. The third is the discretionary framework in which Ministers under the authority of the Home Secretary exercise discretion in compassionate cases. It does not follow that because one has an absolutely identical—
§ It being Ten o'clock,The CHAIRMANleft the Chair to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.
§ Committee report Progress.