HC Deb 11 November 1969 vol 791 cc316-67

Again considered in Committee.

Question again proposed, That the Amendment be made.

Mr. Hogg

I had almost concluded my remarks before the witching hour arrived. I was saying that one must distinguish between the legal or legislative framework of Parliament—the administrative framework under regulation—and the discretionary framework which is administered by individual Ministers for compassionate or other reasons. There is absolutely nothing inconsistent between claiming that there should be a uniform legislative framework, with the suggestion that there may be administrative regulations such as those which now obtain in favour of the Irish, and, equally, that there should be a compassionate framework based on sentimental considerations in favour of particular peoples. This is what I personally have always thought.

I should like to say one more thing on the subject of dependants. I adhere as firmly as ever to the belief that nothing but evil could come from a restriction of the statutory right to introduce into this country the dependants of existin immigrants—a wife and young children. But it is not asking too much that they should give a little notice when they are coming so that local authorities may deal with the situation. I believe that this is administratively possible and that it would not infringe their basic statutory right.

I conclude these few remarks, which largely repeat what I have said on previous occasions, except in so far as they relate to the welcome contribution to the debate by my right hon. Friend, as I began. We must face the fact, whether we like it or not, that this problem will stay with us for a very long time. There is one solution and one clue only. We must reassure our own people that we are in control of the situation, but within that control we must teach people that liberty under the law and a basic respect for the human being are the universal faith for mankind. Like many of the best things in life, it was invented by the British. Why should we not live up to it?

Mr. Merlyn Rees


Mr. St. John-Stevas

I do not wish to appear egocentric, but I should like, Mr. Irving, to raise a point of order on which I have some vestigial interest. Many of us have sat in the Committee today for over seven hours hoping to catch the eye of the occupant of the Chair, and if we retained enough energy we could totter to our feet eventually and catch it. While it is reasonable that an Opposition Front Bench spokesman should speak, many of us have points which we wish to put to the Minister and have answered by him. By calling the Minister to intervene at this point in the debate, are we not to be deprived of our opportunity?

The Chairman

That is not a point of order for the Chair. The moment when the Minister intervenes is a matter for him. Mr. Merlyn Rees.

Mr. Rees

I have no wish to cut the debate short. I thought that it was appropriate that when the Opposition Front Bench speaker had just concluded, I should at this point reply. But I have no wish to cut short the debate. Indeed, I could not do so since we are in Committee.

What I want to do straight away is to get down to some of the practical, technical issues with which the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) has dealt. Despite the very high level of two recent speeches, ! do not think that it will be wrong to do that. In terms of immigration control, which is what the debate is about, I turn first to the actual procedures.

However much permanent legislation is required, one of the basic reasons why I am sure that it should not have been brought forward is that the Immigration Appeals Act next year will have a profound effect on procedures. Although it is administrative law, there will be case law arising out of it. Frequently, there will have to be changes in the various rules and regulations, and, whatever else happened, to do it now would be the height of folly.

Of course, there are other reasons. The Opposition have put forward views about equating aliens with Commonwealth citizens. As yet, I do not think that that has been thought out carefully. There is an aspect which I am surprised has not been raised today; that in making changes and equating aliens with Commonwealth citizens, it is all very well to change the order and the rules and regulations about citizens coming from abroad, but underlying much of our procedures there are the nationality arrangements within the Commonwealth. These cannot be changed overnight, even if one wanted. In my view, a great deal more thought should be given to the changes which are suggested.

The first point which has come out today is that we have heard a great many statistics, and I want in a moment to deal with some of the matters raised by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). I feel sometimes that we spend an enormous amount of time on numbers and too little time on race relations. But, through all the welter of statistics on numbers, this question arises. In terms of Commonwealth citizens, in terms of the present and of the future, the fact that in 1963 there were 30,000 work vouchers and that last year and the year before there were under 5.000 in itself is bound to have a great effect on the numbers of dependants coming here in the future.

I accept that all the other numbers are relevant to a detailed argument, but the reduction in the number of voucher-holders is the important one when we consider the number of dependants likely to come to this country.

Soon after being appointed to my present job, I discovered that the Home Office had carried out a survey. It was foundthat, on average, the dependants of Commonwealth citizens come in at any time up to ten years after the husbands have come. The average is five years. Some men bring their dependants with them when they come, others leave it for ten years, but the average is five. It is not surprising, therefore, that the peak of dependants came in 1967 or thereabouts, because that was about five years after the 1963 entry. Therefore, when looking at the effect of compulsory entry certificates, this year the number of dependants is bound to fall in any event. There is bound to he a short-term fallback because of the need for entry certificates. The signs are there now, although it is too early to say what the ultimate effect will be.But the number of dependants is falling.

Several hon. Members have suggested that matters are being swept under the carpet. However, many of the problems of race relations arise from the past, and right hon. and hon. Members on both sides have a responsibility, whether it is the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone, as Minister of Science with a responsibility for students, or the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, because of his responsibility, which I am sure he would not wish to deny, for bringing in people to serve in our hospitals.

Mr. Powell

It is not the function of a Minister of Health—certainly it was not when I was Minister of Health—to recruit staff for hospitals. He did not recruit staff for hospitals. He did not and could not interfere with the recruitment of staff by the hospitals. He was not the recruiting authority.

Mr. Rees

I would have thought that the right hon. Gentleman had a statutory responsibility for hospitals, and,given the strong feeling which he revealed tonight, I find it odd that he sat quiescent while people came in. I am trying to make the point that we all had a responsibility in this matter in the past. The numbers coming in in future will be small. It is important to put this fact over, although the quicker we get away from numbers the better.

There has been a steady increase in the number of people coming into these islands—immigrants, and people coming in as visitors, however one defines them. From 1st October, 1968, to 30th September, 1969, there were 23,250,000 arrivals, and departures at our ports, and the orders that we have to discuss here, which deal with the method of coming in through the ports, in the face of that number—which is growing—are extremely important. It is inevitable that immigration officers should be faced with a growing problem in dealing with the numbers coming in. This growing number has to be taken into account as the years go on.

We have tight control at the periphery and practically no control inside. I should be sorry to see us adopt the Continental-type system, under which it is easy to get in, but once in everybody has to carry bits of paper. With this large number there are problems, and there are even more problems arising at the airports with the increase in the size of aircraft. If hon. Members think of four jumbo jets arriving within a period of 15 minutes they will see that practical problemsarise in terms of getting people through the terminals.

As for aliens, in the year ending 30th September nearly 4,500,000 foreigners were given leave to land in this country —750,000 more than in the preceding 12 months. The number refused entry amounted to over 5,000, or one for every 800 admitted. Of those refused entry, 2,206 came here to work.

That brings me to the point made by my right hon. Friend—a point which the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not accept. I do not believe that it is the law, either in the form of an order or of an Act, which determines the way in which aliens and Commonwealth citizens come here. They come here for fundamentally different reasons. In general, the Commonwealth citizen wants to settle, even when he comes here as a visitor, and if he comes here as a student he may ultimately want to settle. That is not the case with aliens.

It is sometimes said that large numbers of aliens come here to settle, but the number of Commonwealth citizens with vouchers coming here last year was under 5,000 and the number of foreign workers accepted after being here for four years was 9,000. Therefore, there were more aliens settling after four years than Commonwealth citizens. But the total number of Commonwealth citizens accepted for permanent residence was 60,000 compared with 20,000 foreigners.

Under the scheme put forward by the right hon. Gentleman we would have to take into account the fact that Commonwealth citizens come here under the pressure of a low economic standard of life in their own countries. Even if they have a low wage here, this is the promised land to them. That makes them want to come here. From that point of view alone, to try to deal with aliens in the same way as Commonwealth citizens when in many respects they are totally different types of person would give rise to many problems.

If a Commonwealth citizen comes here with his family—and I understand that he would be allowed to do so under the suggested system, because aliens are allowed to do so—and after four years in this country we say, "Back to the country you came from, with your family", it will be difficult to deal with the administrative arrangements that will have to be made. That is one reason why dealing with the two categories in the same way is fraught with the greatest of difficulties.

10.15 p.m.

I believe that the system of entry certificates is right. We have increased staffs overseas to improve the procedures there, and I understand that the Select Committee has at least asked for permission to go there, although, of course, that is not a matter for the Home Office to decide. We have recently started an experimental scheme to try to speed up procedures for the issue of entry certificates in cases where application has been referred to this country. There is nothing sinister about the fact that an application may be referred to this country. At one time the immigration officer had the advantage of being able to interview both the host relative and the immigrant at the port, but now if it is thought necessary to consult the host relative in this country the staff abroad have to refer the case here. Sir Derek Hilton suggested that we should try to cut down the amount of time involved. Therefore, as an experiment, we have made arrangements for immigration officers to interview sponsors, who will be invited to an interview at convenient places throughout the country.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) spoke of the validity of the entry certificate beyond sixmonths. As he himself was at one time at the Home Office he will recall that the period used to be twelve months. Experience showed that some entry certificate holders were delaying their arrival until the circumstances that justified the issue of the entry certificate no longer obtained. In 1965, therefore, the period was reduced to six months. We think that this is a fair period in which to allow people to take up these certificates.

Mr. Deedes

Is it not this factor of delay that is now an important consideration?

Mr. Rees

I accept that if delay were a permanent feature we should have to see whether the procedure could be altered, but I hope that it will not occur.

My right hon. Friend dealt with the port welfare and advisory services to deal with Commonwealth citizens and aliens. We have in mind not only Commonwealth citizens but the extremely large numbers of people coming through the ports who will require help. The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has provided advice at London Airport for Commonwealth citizens, but now the scheme will have to be a good deal wider, and I hope that the meeting of 26th November will lead to immediate steps being taken to set up an organisation in this country. The Hilton Report recommended that advice overseas should be given by the High Commissioners' offices, and we are taking steps to ensure that that procedure is greatly improved. The welfare and advisory body of this country will play a part in that procedure, based on the Wilson recommendations.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ashford referred to doctors, and I have sympathy with his argument. The use of the output of six teaching hospitals in this country, with one of the highest standards of living in the world, and given the problems of rural parts of the Commonwealth, I find slightly offensive economically. But I would remind the Committee that steps were taken to change this situation earlier this year by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services.

The total number of overseas doctors entering practice in this country annually is estimated at 3,000. Many of them, of course, come for limited periods, and then return. The annual net gain is not more than 1,000. Elements in the total annual entry of 3,000 are 1,000 Commonwealth doctors with B vouchers—doctors coming to work here, or those coming asstudents who subsequently stay in employment. At 30th September last year, of 11,330 doctors in the junior grades in the hospital service over half were born outside the United Kingdom. We depend a great deal on doctors from outside.

The Todd Report drew attention to these large numbers and pointed out that most of these doctors came from countries whose needs were far greater than ours. It said that it had become impracticable to continue absorbing more and more overseas doctors, and that, whatever the shortages in general practice and the hospital service, the admission of overseas doctors on the present scale would not solve all the problems. Most of them come only to get a few years' training, and are certified initially only for junior posts. Of the 5,000 work vouchers issued, half are for cases of this kind. It is turnover, and not people coming to settle. The number coming to settle is much smaller.

Mr. Hogg

This is something I have been trying to find out about for some time. Of course, most of those who are doctors in the junior grades in the hospitals are in training, and in the ordinary course they will go back. Do they have to have B vouchers, or do they come as students?

Mr. Rees

Those who come to work have to have B vouchers, but those who come as students stay in the training grade.

My right hon. Friend accepted the view of the Todd Commission, and changes have been made in the number of B vouchers issued. My right hon. Friend announced this some months ago. Only 2,000 B vouchers will be issued, and this will yield about 1,000 doctors because, curiously enough, only about half take up the vouchers they obtain. Changes are being made in our own medical service.

Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)

Although I thoroughly supported what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services did at the time, will my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary bear in mind that it is natural that people should want to come, before they have senior medical training, to a country such as the United Kingdom, which is one of the most advanced countries in medical science in the world? Will the Government not go further in putting a stop to that?

Mr. Rees

I shall take that point up.

We have decided to make assessment under the scheme compulsory. This is the scheme of atachment. It used to be voluntary. Many doctors coming in are attached to hospitals. This is a form of training which avoids some of the problems that have arisen.

Large numbers of people come in as visitors from the Commonwealth. There is a problem, because people want to settle, and it raises the difference in approach to the question of aliens and Commonwealth citizens. It would be so much better if those coming here had entry certificates. There is no question of making these compulsory for this purpose, but the question of visitors is a very real problem at the moment. The more details which can be dealt with beforehand the better.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Robert Howarth) raised the question of fiancees. Men who are resident here can bring in fiancees whereas women cannot bring in fiances. This rests on the idea that immigrants should live in the men's country, not the women's. [Interruption.] I am sure I have offended at least one hon. Member in the Chamber. My right hon. Friend explained the motivation behind this change.

Mr. Deedes

Before the hon. Gentleman leaves the important point about visitors, will he confirm or otherwise whether we have the same system for checking visitors in and out in respect of Commonwealth people as for aliens? That is a very important matter.

Mr. Rees

I should like notice of that question because of the complicated system that we have at Princeton House. I think the answer is "yes", but I should like to check it because some changes have been made since the right hon. Member for Ashford had responsibility at the Home Office. Whatever is done in that respect, there is the same control of visitors, wherever they come from, who seek to evade the conditions on their passports. It is more difficult in the case of some who come in than with others. That is another point which I recommend to the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone.

As to students, who were referred to by the hon. Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair), 13,000 students a year come from the Commonwealth with little or no problem. It is an excellent thing that there is little or no problem in arranging this, but there have been prolems recently.

Under present legislation immigration officers have to take two things into account. First, they have to take into account whether the man is suitable for the course. I shall return to this question later. The other question is whether the sponsorship is right. There are a number of cases of people returning because the sponsorship is wrong. With the few marginal cases that arise, we shall be arranging for an educationist to make inquiries about the calibre of the man or woman who is coming in and not just an immigration officer.

Sir G. Sinclair

Will the Under-Secretary deal with the point whether we knew in any way how many of those students who come here eventually returned to work in their own countries? He has not answered this point.

Mr. Rees

I have not. Our figures on that at the ports would not be of the best as to where they went to work. It may be that the colleges which they attended would have some figures. There is a problem. The other day I had a case of two students who came here on scholarships from a very under-developed African country. When they had been here for a period they decided not to return to their country of origin but to stay here. I presume that in the course of time this can happen to a high degree. This is on the point of doctors. One has to strike a balance here as to how far one forces people to return. I concede that there is a difficulty. It would be much better for them to go back, but forcing people to return is a different matter.

Sir G. Sinclair

Will the Under-Secretary, then, consider doing a simple survey to take at least a measure of the problem? We ought at any rate to know what is happening.

Mr. Rees

That is a very fair suggestion. I would like to make one point clear. Students who come here under conditions to study and who at the end of the set period stay on—say, to the end of five years—eventually return, of course. I am talking about people who stay for a longer period.

There is much detailed information which perhaps it would be better if I let the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) have rather than that I should read it out now.

"The one point I want to deal with now is the question of work vouchers. For the Kenyan Asians there are two sorts of entry. I find it surprising that only four work vouchers were issued. It it not easy to accept that there is a difficultyon one side if only four vouchers are issued on the other side to enable people to come here to work. If it is possible for Commonwealth citizens in general—because all are Commonwealth citizens who come from India, Pakistan or the West Indies—to use the work voucher system, I have not yet heard an argument to convince me why citizens from the United Kingdom and colonies cannot use a work voucher. I will make inquiries about the hon. Gentleman's point on publicity.

Mr. David Steel

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, but I want to press him on this point. As one who was outin Kenya after this Act was passed and has studied it closely, I can assure the Committee that I am completely unaware of this, and so is the British Asian population there. It is very important that publicity be given to this possibility.

Mr. Rees

I take that point.

The hon. Gentleman raised the question of dual citizenship and seemed to suggest that the Government were trying to have it both ways—that is, by referring to the existence of a large number of dual citizens as a justification for the 1968 Act and then saying that dual citizens are not really the problem. That seems to stand the argument on its head. There are a large number of dual citizens in Malaysia, and it is right to acknowledge their existence in the discussions of any person to whom control was extended in the 1968 Act. No one tried to pretend that the 1968 Act was introduced because of dual citizens. Many people are writing at the moment about changes in the British Nationality Act, 1948, and suggesting what should happen. The question of dual citizenship and what it means seems to defeat most people. I am in a position to say that because I get high technical advice on it. However, it should be looked at.

On the question of changes in the existing system, there is one other matter which I want to put before the Committee. Many arguments have gone on in the last few years—the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West has done this it is one of his nonsenses—to the effect that the British Nationality Act, 1948, is the root cause of all our troubles. There was an articleby Louis Heren in The Times not long ago which said that it was the 1948 Act and only that which had caused largenumbers of people to pour into this country.

10.30 p.m.

I commend to the Committee an article in the July issue of Race by Nicholas Deakin which, in my view, sums up the argument that the 1948 Act neither accelerated nor delayed the introduction of control over immigration. There is a great deal of cogent argument to prove that point. What it did determine was the form of immigration control, which is a different matter. Before one could take much further the observations and suggestions of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, the question of citizenship—which was discussed in "Colour and Citizenship"—would have to be looked at much more carefully.

Mr. Hogg

The hon. Gentleman is not doing the point justice. In fact, the result of the 1948 Act was to give anunrestricted right of entry to all independent Commonwealth citizens, without qualification. That subsisted until 1962. If they had been declared to be in the same position as regards immigration control as other members of other independent countries, that unrestricted right of entry would never have existed from the start.

Mr. Rees

Though it is with some trepidation that I cross legal swords with him, I disagree with the right hon.and learned Gentleman. In my view—perhaps he will look at the article—it would be wrong to say that the previous situation is one in which immigration could be controlled and then turn to a situation in which control either could not be exercised or could be introduced only with difficulty. Mr. Deakin calls in aid Lord Simon, when he argued in the other place that the change made control easier. Indeed, that was the burden of the argument in the other place at that time. [Interruption.] Far be it from me to criticise learned lawyers of high stature. All I am saying is that it is another argument why one should not rush into amalgamating two forms of control when, at least, someone of that authority could make that assertion.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West talked statistics. All I can say to him is that in demographic matters there is not the same certainty about future figures as there might be, for example, in the declensionof a noun or the conjugation of a verb. The right hon. Gentleman referred to a survey, and he will recall that I asked whether it had been published. He gave a perfectly proper answer, and I did not know that he had been in correspondence with my right hon. Friend. The Department of Health and Social Security carried out a survey in about 50 towns with large immigrant communities into the use by immigrants of certain health and welfare services. That is what the right hon. Gentleman was referring to. The report of the survey has not been published.

The point I make is this. I checked this evening, and I find that this is what my right hon. Friend wrote to the right hon. Gentleman: I enclose the figures for which you asked. The reason for including a question about births in our survey was to get some information on the proportion of domiciliary and hospital confinements among different sections of the community. The figures were not directed to ascertaining the birth rate among immigrants, and could be misleading if used in this way, because the age structure of the immigrant and native populations in these areas is likely to be different ".

Mr. Powell

I made that clear.

Mr. Rees

The right hon. Gentleman made the point; he was careful all the way along to say what he was referring to, and he was not using the birth rate figures. But, in terms of these statistics, the message will have gone out from here, whether intentionally or not. It will be in terms of birth rate, which was not the reason why these figures were used.

Mr. John Mendelson

That is why the right hon. Gentleman used them.

Mr. Rees

The problem about the future population illustrates the point I make about the uncertainty the further one goes. The right hon. Gentleman is fond of quoting an estimate which was made by the General Register Office a few years ago, based on certain assumptions. I reminded the Committee—I think that the point was made by one of my hon. Friends—that the Institute of Race Relations put forward an estimate which made the figure 2 million—2¼1/4; million in 1985, not 3½1/2 million. I offer this figure only to show that in time changed circumstances can be taken into account.

With regard to what the right hon. Gentleman argued about the number of births in a town, I would call in aid an article by Eversley and Sukdeo, "The Dependants of the Coloured Commonwealth Population of England and Wales". The argument there was that the immigrants are restricting their family size, that their family size is smaller than in their country of origin, and that the trend is to the English pattern. This fits in with everything one would expect, because fertilityrate is not a biological function but a social function. People pick up the ideas in the areas in which they live, and these will slowly permeate through.

Because the right hon. Gentleman has used statistics in the House, as he has used them outside, I felt it right, despite the shortage of time, to deal with the question of the future projections. What matters is the fertility rate. When people use the birth rate figures they are bound to get the wrong answer. Fertility rate is the totality of births in relation to the population of immigrant women; the birth rate is the number of births in relation to the total population.

There are two factors in fertility rate that the right hon. Gentleman ignored. The first is the age structure of the female population. When comparisons are made directly in an older part of the town, one is referring to a coloured population with a large number of young people with perhaps an ageing population around them. One must take into account the agestructure of the female population. The right hon. Gentleman would find that in some of the new towns the fertility rate is higher than in the country as a whole, because it is the age structure and the factor of earlier marriage in this country which raise the fertility rate. As to the age at which women marry, such evidence as we have —I say "such evidence as we have", because this is not case work but projecting forward on assumptions—certainly agrees with the survey that I mentioned earlier.

Mr. Powell

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that at no stage in my argument did I invoke birth rate? If what I said is related to the birth rates, that is as a result of a misunderstanding which I did my utmost to oppose. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will agree that I was concerned with actual births. As he has referred to the survey, will he confirm that the proportion of births which I quoted as being shown by that survey was correct.

Mr. Rees

I could not confirm that, because I have not checked the article tonight. It did gives births, I agree.

What I am saying is that these are not the factors on which to base a projection of the future population, that one must look at the fertility rate, and that birth rate in any form or numbers is not the way of doing it.

The question of work vouchers has been mentioned. May I give some figures. In 1968 in the whole of the Midlands—that is the West Midlands, East Midlands and any other Midlands that there are—194 work vouchers were issued. My point is that the new people going there, the prime movers, numbered only 194 in a year. It is not worth while talking about direction of people when they come in, because their numbers are so small.

I have talked to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science, and I understand that at certain times there is a movement of Commonwealth citizens into the town of Slough. They are not prime movers who have just arrived but move in later on. If we are to deal with this by dispersal we are coming dangerously close to discussing something like the pass laws in South Africa. The numbers of those who are coming in on work vouchers are very small. How else then is one to stop someone moving from Wolverhampton to Slough, or from Smethwick to another part? The figure for the Midlands is 194. For the whole of Wales, there were only 13 work vouchers. Coming from Wales, I find it very surprising that so few people go there. In the North-West it was 157. The figures are very small. In terms of using work vouchers as a means of directing labour, the figures are much too small. The right hon. Gentleman made his view clear—

Mr. Carlisle

May we be clear exactly what figures the hon. Gentleman is referring to? Are these the figures of A voucher holders? I presume that they must be. But the majority of people who come in are B voucher holders and one does not know to what part of the country they go. Secondly, however, would the hon. Gentleman not agree that if the A voucher holder gets a voucher for a particular area, that has no relationship to where he goes when he comes in?

Mr. Rees

I should have said that I was referring to A voucher holders, what one might call the "manufacturing" class. The problems in race relations do not arise with the professional men, like doctors who come here to work in hospitals. The whole problem which the right hon. Gentleman gets so worked up about is the problem of peasants, coming mainly from Asia now and settling in the centres of our big cities. This is why I gave the figure in that way.

The right hon. Gentleman has made clear his views. Even if immigration stopped there would still be a problem, so there is another simple answer—repatriation; and this has not been thought out. One small thing which would have to be considered, and which would mean another change in the laws which we are talking about putting together, is that the person who had received the £2,000 to return to his country of origin would, I presume, have to have stamped in his passport, "Never admit this man again to the United Kingdom." Otherwise, he would be on a pretty good wicket. He could come back for another £2,000.

Indeed, after the right hon. Gentleman's last speech, three letters were received in the Home Office. There used to be more. One was for, one was again, and the other was from a white chap asking for £2,000. This question of giving money is fraught with difficulty, let alone the necessary administrative arrangements.

The right hon. Gentleman stopped short at the point of the problem and said, "Send them back. No question." I accept the rules of order about talking about Section 11. As has been made clear tonight, these problem areas of city centres have been problem areas for a long time, and in some cities they were caused by the immigrants of 50 years ago. There is no simple answer in saying, "Send them back."

The Government and most hon. Members want to work for good race relations, for fair and equal treatment. There is a positive story to tell. There is the great work which is done in our schools by our teachers. It is not my responsibility, but in my job I go around schools, and in the West Riding of Yorkshire and other parts a very important job is being done by our teachers.

There is the work of the Race Relations Act and the Race Relations Board, which was not as catastrophic as the right hon. Gentleman thought. There is the work of the Community Relations Commission. Some of the problems which have arisen have been mentioned, but this commission is just a year old. It has not failed. My right hon. Friend has the greatest confidence in Mr. Frank Cousins and also in the work of Miss Nadine Peppard, who works there. From all I know of race relations, and judging from her work in Northern Ireland recently and from reasonable opinion in race relations, I would say that the work which this lady has done over the years should command everyone's praise.

There is a problem in this field. It is different from the Race Relations Board. One is dealing with voluntary workersin different parts of the country. Race relations workers tend to be heavily committed people. There are bound to be problems from time to time, but I want to make it clear that they are confident. Most people in race relations are motivated to help. I sometimes feel that those of us who are working in race relations are sometimes busy reading our own pamphletsand forget the problems which go on outside, but there are precious few people in that category. There is a different atmosphere in race relations, despite all the efforts, which has come about in the last few years. It may be that the early shock of facing up to the problems of race is passing. Undoubtedly, the good work of many is giving results. The policy of the Government, of relating entry to ability to absorb, has played a large part.

10.45 p.m.

However, there are stronger feelings in areas where social needs are higher. Prejudice exists. I am inclined to agree with the right hon. Member for Hands-worth that it lies deeper than was suggested by Mark Abrams. It cannot be exorcised overnight, for its channels run deep and may come from the attitude of Empire "on which many of us were brought up. Even more important are the psychological feelings which exist among many and which lie deep seated inside most of us. The going will not be easy. There will be a storm from time to time and we had a storm tonight.

Working for good relationships does not mean ignoring problems. There are problems in the older parts of our towns, and I do not ignore them by saying that we are overcoming the problem; but it needs leadership.

I should like to pay my tribute to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I will not say more than that; he does not want pomposity from a junior Minister. And I pay tribute to the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hands-worth (Sir E. Boyle), who is leaving us. We in Leeds are fortunate that he is to take over the university and he will have plently of opportunity to see the problems of race that arise there.

It is easy to be pompous from on high, but in these areas the working class, in the old sense of the term, do not take kindly to it and it will not be easy for those who have to work with the people who have the problems which arise because of the mixing of cultures.

Recently, the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West finished a speech by quoting Themistocles—" Strike me if you must, but hear me.". We have listened; he is wrong. Our reply is not to strike, and those who endeavour to counter his views with violence are wrong. The best way of dealing with this problem is to work positively for good race relations in a problem that in this country is so small compared with that which faces most people in most parts of the world. God help us if we cannot deal with the very small problem we have here.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

It seems a long time ago, and it is, since the debate was so skilfully opened by my hon. Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) who was intermittently placed on the Privy Council by the Home Secretary. Right at the beginning of the discussion he outlined the basic consensus which has carried our debate along—the acceptance by both sides of the Committee of the principle of strict control of immigration and equal treatment for all before the law.

Although we state these as two aspects, they are intrinsic parts of the same policy, because public confidence and public liberality can be created only if the public has confidence in the system of immigration control. It will have that confidence in the system only if there is, both in theory and in practice, a strict system which is adequately enforced. That is why these incidents of evasion are of such importance, out of proportion to their actual impact—because they undermine public confidence in the system.

If we are realistic and look at the question of numbers in relation to vouchers, there is little scope for a reductionand such reduction as there is would really make only the most marginal difference to the number of people entering the country. So, although I disagree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), he is perfectly logical when he attacks the question of dependants, because if one wants to make a substantial reduction in the present entry into Britain of immigrants, it is that category that one has to attack.

Fortunately, the leaders of all parties are agreed that the rights of dependants shall not be defeated. I think that it is fitting for me to pay a tribute to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition for the way in which he has stood firm on this principle when he has been under severe pressure to make inroads into that category and when all the electoral arguments were on one side. But we base our policy on two principles—first, that the family should be preserved as a basic institution of our society—and we must confer equal family rights on all or the whole concept of equality before the law is mere hypocrisy—and, secondly, that undertakings given should be kept. It is these two principles which have dictated our attitude towards dependants.

To get the question of dependants into perspective, it is necessary to recognise that this is a declining liability. My hon. Friend the Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair) mentioned a backlog of 200,000. I would put it lower—at about 175,000. But that is the measure of the backlog. It is not a figure which is beyond the power and the resources of the country to cope with, and it is steadily declining. Fifty per cent. of the dependants that remain to come in date back to those who came to the country before 1965 and 16 per cent. before 1962.

What we are concerned about is not so much the past as the future. We must look to the future and judge our actions at this moment in the light of what we are likely to produce for our society in the decades ahead. This is the point my right hon. Friend was concentrating upon, in a very remarkable speech. I do not agree with his tone or his conclusions, but I think I recognise a powerful and architectonic piece of oratory when I hear it, and I am alarmed by a growing intolerance that comes from the Left.

There are intolerances of the Right and there are many people who condemn them. But I see with dismay, not only in the House but outside, a growing intolerance of the Left, in the universities and elsewhere, when it will not tolerate hearing views with which it disagrees. We have seen some of that spirit displayed in the Committee tonight from hon. Members on the benches opposite below the Gangway. Yet, if tolerance is to have any meaning as a concept, it must mean that one tolerates and respects views which one may oneself completely abhor. This is the meaning of tolerance, otherwise it is again a form of hypocrisy.

The arguments of my right hon. Friend must be met upon the level at which they are presented and not by the mere childish and puerile invective which we have heard too much of today. It was the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. John Lee)—who has now evaporated —who said he was not going to be emotive and then accused my right hon. Friend of being a Nazi. He then gave a reasonable example of authoritarianism by refusing to give way for an intervention which I wished to make merely to ask what he would have said had he decided to be emotive. Arguments must be met on the level at which they are presented. That is the purpose of the House of Commons.

My right hon. Friend made much of figures in this context. I was not sure whether, when he used net immigration figures, he was referring to the net immigration figures overall which come out every year as the net number of those who leaveover or under those who have come in, or whether he was referring to the net settlement figures. These are different statistical concepts.

Mr. Powell

I was referring to the first of those two. Although, in any one year, the net immigration figure is not significant, in a series of years it must be the significant figure. That was why, in the projection which has been so many times referred to in debate, it was that figure which was used by the Registrar-General.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that intervention, which is a significant point of clarification. I do not agree with him that the net immigration figures are the significant figures. They are highly misleading because they include people coming in for a temporary purpose; they include students, and they will fluctuate wildly from year to year. If they are not reliable for one year, how can they be reliable for a series of years? I am not a philosopher, but I know that one cannot have a universal without a particular.

Mr. Powell

The point is that if in a series of years they constantly show a large plus, that must mean that there is a true increase in the population with which we are concerned.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

It would naturally depend on the length of the series that one took. One would have to take a very long series—say, about 10 years—to be able to make that kind of conclusion. The most revealing figures here are the net settlement figures, which are considerably less than the figures put forward by the right hon. Gentleman.

I do not, however, wish to get mired in an argument about statistics. Even if one questioned some of the statistics which the right hon. Gentleman put forward, what he is doing in giving us those figures is drawing attention to the urgency of the problem which we face, particularly the urban problem in our great cities. That is a problem which we cannot ignore.

Where I differ altogether from my right hon. Friend is on the action that we should take as a result of looking at the problem and looking at those figures. I detect a great difference of philosophic approach to the problem in the approach of the right hon. Gentleman and in the approach of most of his colleagues to his question.

What impresses me about the right hon. Gentleman's approach is the element of fatalism in it and the static view he takes of society in which the scope for change is very limited. It is significant that he should have chosen a static model on which to base his figures. The picture which he paints of our society is of a helpless indigenous mass of people being confronted by an equally static mass of immigrants coming together in an inevitable collision which will cause violence and bloodshed.

I do not believe that particular analysis of society is true. There is a much greater flexibility in the situation. There is a great possibility of cultural assimilation; there is the possibility that, instead of arousing reactions of violence and hostility, we shall be able to arouse reactions of goodwill and peace. However dark the picture may be painted, our fate remains in our own hands. It is determined not by forces outside ourselves, but by the decisions which we take both in our personal lives and in the House of Commons.

11.0 p.m.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) speculated on the oddity that, starting from the same premise, he and my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West should reach completely opposite conclusions. There is an explanation of that in the view of human nature which they both take. We are all Conservatives, and, therefore, we all believe in original sin. It may be said that this is so because we have a greater opportunity to observe it at work from looking at the benches opposite. But, although we are united on that, there are varieties of interpretation of original sin and, if I may put it in theological terms, it comes down to this: that my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West takes an Augustinian view of the complete corruption of human nature and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone takes a Thomist view, that human nature is flawed by original sin but is not totally corrupted by it. One view gives some scope for hope; the other leads only to despair, and despair was the dominant note in my right hon. Friend's speech.

I do not believe for a moment that my right hon. Friend wishes to push people into gas ovens, as has been so ludicrously and offensively suggested from the other side of the Committee, but I believe that he cannot prescribe a remedy for the disease which he has purported to diagnose. That is the tragic dilemma in which he finds himself.

Looking to the future, we must have an overhaul of our whole legal framework governing the admission into this country of aliens and Commonwealth immigrants. This has been argued for not only by myself in other debates and by my right hon. and learned Friend but by hon. Members opposite. The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor), who was here a few moments ago, and whose fashionable dress sense is such an embellishment to the Government Front Bench, even though she is not allowed to sit down and take a mouthful of broth in the Connaught Hotel, has pressed in previous debates for a review of the law and an amalgamation and codification.

The Opposition have at least put forward some proposals; the Leader of the Opposition has proposed a new deal. The suggestions which he put forward may be open to objection, and the details have not been worked out, as has been revealed in debate, but this is not necessarily a fault. We are at the stage of floating ideas rather than of drafting legislation, but, for better or worse, these are the only proposals that have been put forward, and they are worthy of serious consideration.

The point of the proposals is not necessarily that they will reduce the number of people coming into the country, although that may be their effect; their point is that they are an essential preliminary if we are to have a population policy that is both planned and voluntary and that seeks to utilise such matters as immigration, social policies, and so on, to move the country voluntarily towards the sort of population that is best for its development. It is a matter to which serious thought must be given and involves questions of family planning and other matters. This cannot happen unless the immigration laws are first overhauled.

Although I detected some lacunae in my right hon. Friend's argument from the Front Bench, it seemed to make good sense to say that there should be created a new legal framework of equality within which there would be scope for administrative discretion so that the number of people entering the country could be altered to meet whatever happened to be the current social and economic needs.

Who is to say that the fate of the second proposal of the Leader of the Opposition may not be similar to another proposal put forward in that speech, namely, vouchers at the point of departure rather than at the point of entry? That was resisted by the Home Secretary last year and we have had talk of second-class citizens—not perhaps from the Home Secretary, but certainly from others.

This has turned out to be a most humane and sensible reform. Nothing has been more upsetting to anyone who has studied the problem than to see the distress that is caused to people who have flown thousands of miles only to find that they are excluded from this country and sent back to where they have come from. That is a terrible thing to happen to any human being.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

May I make one point to put the matter right? It was not just a matter of an alteration in an Order. An insertion would have had to have been made in the Immigration Appeals Act, which could have been done only in the House of Lords since one could not have broadened the effect of the Bill. Whenever one had wanted to do it, it was not possible to do it until that point of time.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I fully appreciate that point. I was merely making the point that there is good evidence that the proposals put forward by the Leader of the Opposition are being put forward with constructive intention and should be given serious consideration.

I pass to a separate point, the question of the Irish, who have appeared in this debate very briefly in the form of the hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Simon Mahon) and who have been the subject of some discussion at earlier stages in this whole debate outside the House. The position of Ireland is anomalous under this legislation. There is nothing new about that. There has been an anomaly in the situation of Ireland in relation to England over the centuries and we have only inherited it.

Perhaps the basic anomaly of the situation is the separation of the small islands of Ireland and England into separatenational sovereignties. Surely it is good sense for the Legislature to see that the worst results of that division of sovereignty are avoided, even if it is at the cost of creating yet another anomaly.

The policy of the law has been that there should be the greatest possible freedom of movement between our two countries, countries which are indissolubly linked together for good or evil, in peace or in war, in charity or in strife, and whose ultimate reconciliation lies, we must hope, in the future.

This has been an intelligent debate. That itself is a contribution to the problems which we face. Moderation breeds moderation, just as extremes breed extremes. An ultra-liberal attitude to this problem inevitably will bring not a solution but a backlash and reaction.

Ours is a tolerant country. It is still our greatest glory that the country displays to an extent unparalleled elsewhere a social peace and cohesion which cannot be created out of nothing and which can only be evolved. The problems which are raised for our society by race could destroy that most precious of our possessions. It could, but it need not. All will depend upon our attitudes to those who are different in colour from ourselves but who live here and to whom we are joined by ties of different orders.

The tie which I put first is a personal choice. It is one which exists under the aspect of what I can call the heavenly city. We share the burden and the glory of our common humanity, facing, as we do, the same mysterious destiny of which we can catch only intermittent glimpses by the light of faith.

We are tied together, too, in the earthly city by a common citizenship, by a shared home and by a common culture which, despite differences in externals, has a basic unity in respect for the rights and dignity of the human person.

Our task is not easy. It is to live together within the city, not in a spirit of barbarous rancour and sporadic violence and hostility, but in liberty and fraternity, and in peace. Given moderate and sensible leadership on this problem from those who are our leaders in public life, to whom we have a right to look and on whom a heavy duty rests, I believe that the moral resources of the country will be able to meet the problem, will prove adequate to the task, just as those resources have proved adequate to other tasks in earlier times.

Mr. T. L. Iremonger

(Ilford, North): I know that hon. Members who have been sitting here without break for 71/2 hours waiting to speak will not wish me to allow the debate to peter out too fast. I promise not to disappoint them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) is always very difficult to follow, because he touches right at the heart and root of these matters. However, I will just draw attention to the policy of the Opposition, which is to bring the legislation governing the entry of Commonwealth citizens into line with that governing the entry of non-Commonwealth citizens. This is then supposed to ensure that the Home Secretary has complete control over the entry of individuals into Britain.

If there is justification in the British interests for a citizen to come to this country, that person will be given a work permit issued for a specific period in the first instance, say, 12 months, limited to a specific job, a specific employer in a specific place, and the result will be to prevent any further overcrowding and burden on our already over-burdened social services. We shall take measures in the country of origin as well as here to prevent the evasion of the law. We shall make funds available to assist immigrants who wish to return to their country of origin, but we shall not harass them. We shall help those local authorities which have special problems. This, above all, is important: immigrants now here will be treated in all respects as equal, without discrimination, and dependants are to be allowed in to join those already here.

11.15 p.m.

That is a good policy, as it naturally would be, because it was enunciated by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. But with the greatest deference and diffidence, it is to my mind not quite good enough. It would be very much better to put a total stop to all immigration, in terms of permanent settlement. The only limitation should be a reciprocal arrangement with other countries to allow citizens of this country to settle abroad to the same extent that citizens from abroad could settle here.

I would also make an exception for students overseas studying here. But, with great regret, I would not make the exception, which has been eloquently argued for, to let in dependants who have not already been brought here by immigrants already here. That is not the breaking of a pledge; it is merely a disappointment of an anticipation. If we have to disappoint those people they should be generously provided with means to return to their own countries.

This possibly rather hard-line policy would have negligible effects on humanity as a whole, and in some respects wouldbe beneficial to the Commonwealth countries concerned. It would undoubtedly be attacked as shocking world opinion, but I have regretfully come to the conclusion that world opinion is organised humbug, to such an extent that it is not worth bothering about to any great degree. It would on the other hand have an effect on national morale. It would restore confidence in the British people. It would act as a tonic for them, except for the professional Pharisees, who would undoubtedly find it highly obnoxious.

I want to explain why I think this would have a good effect on the British public. The British nation has lost its nerve on immigration. It has succumbed w a degree of panic from which it should be rescued by every effort of this Committee. I am afraid that this applies to sections of the community whom one would describe as ordinary, decent people, and not only the old and middle-aged but to large sections of young people, especially those who have just left school and started to work. Those who think otherwise are quite out of touch with reality. They do not understand the thoughts and feelings of the people we are supposed to represent.

If the Minister thinks that it will be easy, in the words of the Home Secretary, to assimilate and absorb up to 16,000people per year, however small this number may be in absolute terms, he is deluding himself, because morally it will be an impossible task for the country in the state of panic and lost nerve in which it is at the moment. I want to explain what I mean by loss of nerve and panic. In the first place, there are simple and easily understood fears and tensions which have been discussed in our debates for some years—fears about housing, especially by those who own houses in areas in which other houses are bought by immigrants, and where the value of their houses falls as a consequence—

Mr. John Fraser

The hon. Member is talking a load of rubbish. His experience of London must be that where immigrants move in to buy houses the value of other houses in the area goes up.

Mr. Iremonger

The hon. Gentleman speaks, I am sure, with just as much authority and knowledge of his constituency as I speak of mine. We must speak of what we know and find and these are the fears and anxieties of the people I represent. They may be rubbish. The hon. Gentleman can express the feelings of his constituents. He is entitled to say that the feelings of my constituents are rubbish, but that is how they are conveyed to me and I would be doing less than my duty if I did not say frankly how I found them. Part of the failure of our democratic institutions comes from the fact that too few have listened to what is said to them, that too few have lent an ear to their constituents and have expressed views which sound fine to the professionals of the race relations industry, but fill their constituents with disgust and anxiety.

Mr. John Fraser

The hon. Member must distinguish between disgust and fact. A politician has to distinguish between facts and legitimate anxieties. The danger of the things he has been saying is to exacerbate anxieties which bear no relation to facts or reality.

Mr. Iremonger

The hon. Gentleman must speak for himself. He can put this view to the Committee. I say again, at the risk of tedious repetition, that it is my duty to represent the views of my constituents and the facts as they represent themselves to me. My constituents engaged in the buying and selling of houses give me information which is likely to be based on fact as much as on opinion.

There are anxieties felt by people who find that the standard of teaching in the schools to which they send their children is seriously limited by the fact that a large number of children have to be there who have not got the rudiments of English language and the background of their culture. They are afraid and take their children away and move to other districts. The whole climate of their life and of their children's lives will suffer.

There are anxieties, largely exaggerated, about abuse of the Health Service and other social services by immigrants; there are serious anxieties about the effect on the health of the community and the use of the Health Service by immigrants.

A large proportion of these fears and anxieties are justified. Some of them tend to be a little hysterical. Rightly orwrongly, they are things which this Committee cannot afford to ignore and they spring from a deep instinct which more sophisticated people find it easy to overlook. I was impressed to see an article in The Times a year or so ago by an anthropologist, Mr. Ardrey, in which he expounded a thesis of his about one of the deepest instincts of man—his territorial instinct. One of the deepest anxieties which can be aroused in man is a sense of challenge to the integrity of his tribe and country. There is an instinctive revulsion taking place in the minds of the British people that the culture and identity of this country is being threatened, and when this happens it is an expression of the real and not altogether unrespectable sense of people's history and identity which we should not lightly ignore.

It is not for nothing that if one looks into the history of our country and observes which of the national heroes have been selected by the people for immortality, they have been those who have frustrated a foreign invader. Drake, Nelson, Marlborough and Wellington are household names. They live in the minds of the people to a greater extent than other figures whom more erudite people know about because they were successful in resisting invasion and subjugation of the country and the nation.

I am afraid that there is in the generality of the population a sense that the level which immigration has now reached is a threat to our national identity and existence. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) made a prognostication about the result of this of which I remind the Committee. He said that he saw the future as being fraught with danger of internecine violence. I understand his line of thought there—I think that it is based on very sound historical and social observation, if I may say so—but I have to differ from him, both because I want to and because I think there are sound historical reasons for doing so.

If we look at divided societies elsewhere, and I think particularly of the United States which, in some senses, has the same kind of problem as we have, the situation is very different. The heritage of slavery and generations of injustice as between black and white in the United States of America has created a situation which is, in the words used by my right hon. Friend, fraught with danger of internecine violence. But it is a situation which it is open to us to prevent being created here. So I do not look at the future with quite the gloom that my right hon. Friend does.

The question we have to ask ourselves is: how is the future to be affected? What will cause the internecine violence to be avoided, if it can be avoided? Obviously, the Committee has come to the conclusion and has expressed it eloquently through the mouths of many hon. Members, that the future will depend upon the way in which we treat those who are here, and who will stay here whatever we do about letting in others or even about assisting those who want to be repatriated. It is entirely up to the people of the country, in their present state of panic and loss of nerve, whether we bring about the violence, or achieve the harmony we want.

It would be very much better to stop all immigration totally from now on, for the reason that it will be possible to steady the nerve of the country to face its overwhelming duty to come to terms with the new section of the community that is thrust upon it provided it knows that immigration has new come to an end and that there will be no more increase in numbers. The sense of numbers, of increasing numbers, however much it may be played down by Government spokesmen, is responsible for the panic that makes people far too reluctant to face their duty of coming to terms with a community that will be with us for the rest of our history. The object of the treatment which we shall have to ensure for the immigrant community is to achieve what the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell) describes as harmonious relationships.

The question is how the immigrant community is to be treated by the rest of the country. Provided the panic can be halted, and provided that more immigrants can be stopped from coming in, but not otherwise, it should be possible for us to behave ourselves, if not like gentlemen at any rate like men. When I speak of behaving ourselves like gentlemen, which isobviously the way in which we should behave, I mean that we should behave like people who really do believe that other people's feelings are more important than their own. If that were our criterion of behaviour to immigrant communities and to immigrant individuals, there would be no possibility of difficulty. But if that high standard cannot be reached, at least a minimal standard would be reached compatible with out history and tradition, which is to make quite sure that every condition of social and legal equality is afforded the immigrant community.

11.30 p.m.

I have never objected to either of the race relations Acts, although I thought that the second one went too far in respect of employment and housing. I thought it a sound thing that we should give statutory effect to the existing legal prohibition against racial incitement to hatred. It is just as well that that is the case in view of successful prosecutions of those who have agitated against white people through the mouths of the black community.

The essence of the problem and every hope and fear for the future centres not so much on the present generation of the indigenous population, not so much on the present generation of the immigrant population, but upon the generation now going through the primary and secondary schools. It will be their attitude and the impression of the welcome they receive in our community which will condition their attitude.

I am not, and never have been impressed by the doctrine of repatriation. I always thought it was a red herring and a somewhat hypocritical way of saying, "Blacks get out" and "Send them home." The sickening apogee of hypocrisy is reached in talk of repatriation as "humane", which carries the sinister implication that if there is any real difficulty the next stage will be less humane.

Mr. Robert Cooke (Bristol, West)

I hope that my hon. Friend does not get the wrong impression. Recently I had the case of a Commonwealth citizen who wished to be repatriated and eventually he was sent home to his country. No fewer than 20 people have been repatriated by Government agencies in a year.

Mr. Iremonger

That is fine. It would be hypocritical of this Committee to pretend that, if we suddenly woke up tomorrow morning to find that the immigrant problem had gone away, we wanted to have it back again. But to put forward repatriation as a realistic and constructive policy, as if it would help, is just a hypocritical way of saying. "Blacks get out". People who feel in that way would do better to say so than to advocate repatriation. Whatever is done to repatriate and help those who want to go back, we shall be left with the problems that hundreds of thousands, or upwards of a million staying here. The problem is how to behave towards them. Fiddling around in the meantime with repatriating hundreds of thousands is avoiding the main issue. Those who have gone will not be a problem, but those who are left will be a problem.

I now ask the Under-Secretary to bring his mind to bear on a particular point that worries me a lot. I have in my constituency the principal village home of Dr. Barnardo's Homes. I noticed when going round it recently that whereas 10 yearsago one saw as one would expect, little houses with families of adopted children looked after by Dr. Barnardo's organisation, perfectly normal families of ordinary English children, on that visit 75 per cent. of the children were black. There is a crippling handicap on any black child who is being brought up in this community at the moment. Such children have very difficult problems of adjustment in which they need every possible help. There is also a very difficult problem of adjustment for any child who has been deprived of ordinary family life for any reason whatever—because it has no mother, because it has no father, or because it has neither father nor mother. Such a child will have to go out into the world and face the most difficult periods of tension and crisis, those which come with his changing from the shelter of a home and going out into the world and working, without the support of those in whose love he has confidence. A child who has the cumulative effect of both those stresses coming together has an almost insupportable burden for any human being.

I cannot help wondering whether we shall be lucky enough to have the many thousands of deprived coloured children whom there must be in establishments throughout the country growing into manhood and womanhood without producing in some of them seeds of bitterness which they may vent upon society in a way which we shall regret.

I have not much sympathy with the fundamental attitudes of Black Power people, and so on—all these fashionable gentlemen who write their autobiographies and make dramatic and lurid appearances on television. However, when I empathise with them, which I think is the fashionable word, and try genuinely to understand what they are and have been through and what their attitudes are, I cannot help feeling that, if I had been put in their position, I should not have been ashamed of myself if I had adopted their attitude of defiance.

The Minister should bring his mind to bear upon the whole problem pre- sented by deprived children from coloured families who for one reason or another are not being brought up even with the support of an immigrant family which may itself be under very great stress, but which at any rate is a family.

I want to say a few words about the racialists, as they are called—the extremist organisations. I have one which is rather active in and around my constituency. They attract a very low type of person. One of the principal organisers achieved the peak of his public career in being convicted of stealing from the mails and then continued in his office in this organisation, whatever it was. I do not say this in any uncharitable way. I merely say it to illustrate the point that these people are not, in fact, patriotic pillars of society.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heifer) said that people should be very careful to use no demagogic or inflammatory language, not to make speeches that incite racial hatred—even within the law, which it is quite possible to do. My right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hands-worth (Sir E. Boyle) made the same point and said that it wouldbe a very good thing if people were restrained in their public utterances. This is obviously true. However, in connection with members of these racialist organisations, I am not sure that it is wise or helpful to try to restrain them or to say that they should not do these things. What they should do is to put up candidates for Parliament. We shall be having a General Election in the fairly near future, and I sincerely hope that I have a racialist candidate standing against me in my constituency, because I think that these things should be said and people should use their democratic privilege to vote on them. Then we should know where we stand.

Not long ago my hon. Friend the Member for Acton (Mr. Kenneth Baker) fought a by-election. There was a racialist candidate against him; he polled 6 per cent. of the poll. Those votes probably came in about equal proportions from people who would otherwise have voted Conservative and from those who would have voted Labour. I do not think that we can cast aspersions across the floor of the House at one another in this matter. These instincts manifest themselves on both sides of the political spectrum. It is better that they should be expressed publicly and be voted upon, because if they attract a lot of support we should realise that there is something wrong with us and that we are not getting our message across. If they do not attract any support, it is a healthy reminder to those who give expression to them that they do not command the support of the people.

I want to make one final point to the Minister about local community relations committees. In the end, it is local and personal relationships that matter. The Minister, his predecessors and successors have been and always will be nice, well-meaning people. I am sure that everyone is very grateful for everything they do and for the race relations industry. But in the end it all comes down to the way people think and behave in the boroughs and in the wards—in short, in our constituencies. There is a great danger of these local community relations committees going wrong. The whole business of race is a happy hunting ground for cranks and mischief makers on both anti-black platforms and antianti-black platforms. It is a happy hunting ground for cranks and mischief makers and a marvellous vehicle for aggression. Next to cruelty to animals and the fluoridation of water, I know of no better vehicle for inner aggression than to be either against the blacks or against people who are against the blacks. People get a marvellous feeling of being on the side of righteousness, whichever it may be.

The danger is that community relations committees will be dominated by people of that sort. They usually end up with all the half-baked Left, with two or three crypto-Communists and one or two real Communists—and there will always be a couple of parsons to come along, too. I always say to the parsons that this is where their Christianity will be put to the test, and they will have to choose between Karl Marx and their own Saviour. It is a rather difficult furrow for them to plough.

It would be much better if a little more guidance and stimulation could be given to the real grass-roots which count in local communities. I believe in local government and in popular democracy through the ballot box. Winston Churchill once said that it was the worst possible form of government ever evolved, with the possible exception of every other form of government. But it does at least involve people. In any community, there is only one way of being certain, if one makes any pretence of addresssing oneself to the people, that one is getting one's point of view across, and that is through the electoral process.

The local councils are the people to whom Parliament has given power as well as responsibility for really affecting the lives of immigrants in the places where it hurts. All the things about which they are concerned—housing, education, health and welfare—are controlled by local councils. So it seems quite futile to have any local community relations committee which does not have serving on it ex officio the chairmen of these committees of the council, evenif they have to send their deputies or officials to attend meetings. I am thinking of the chairman of the education committee, the chairman of the housing committee, the chairman of the health committee and the chairman of the welfare committee. Otherwise, what one has is a community relations committee which is always stirring up mischief, putting the council on the defensive, with its back to the wall, as being a bad agency against a righteous cause, instead of having as the activists those who really have the power and the responsibility to settle common problems which may arise among the local community.

I conclude in that connection with a quotation from a book which was sent to me for review a little while ago—I think that it has been published now—by Terence O'Neill, former Prime Minister of Ulster. It consists of his speeches, as the expression of his political philosophy, but there is an introduction by a wise and perceptive sort of fellow who describes the agonies which the unfortunate former Prime Minister went through. I was struck by one observation which he made. He said that O'Neill's failure did not come about through the extreme Protestants.

The Deputy Chairman

Order. I have been very tolerant with the hon. Gentleman, but I am having difficulty in relating his remarks to the Amendment. Perhaps he will address himself to that.

Mr. lremonger

Yes, Mr. Gourlay, I shall. We are debating the hypothetical desirability or not of continuing the existing control over Commonwealth immigrants, which raises the whole question —surely, legitimately and within order —of the kind of society in which they are to be introduced or from which they are to be excluded, and the kind of society in which they will have to live depends on what we do about it. What we do about it depends very largely on the part we take in community relations committees. That was described very precisely in connection with a failure in community relations in Ulster in the introduction to this book, which says that the Prime Minister's failure was not caused by the extreme Right or the extreme Left but by the …pusillanimousness of the middle classes, the lack of a lead from business and professional men and the ordinary well-educated inhabitants of suburbia. 11.45 p.m.

If the kind of people who could give a good lead and the right example will not take part in this sort of activity, the worst kind of people will do so. The great trouble is, turning once more to Ireland for illustration, what W. B. Yeats said in his terrifyingly appropriate and relevant little poem: The best lack all conviction, and the worst are full of passionate intensity. He added: And who knows what rough beast, his hour come round at last, shuffles his way to Bethlehem to be born? The point he was making was that unless the people who can achieve the kind of society we want take the initiative there are plenty willing to come forward who will do so at the cost of everything that we have succeeded so far in building up in this country, which has been a reasonably harmonious community.

I am sorry to have kept the Committee so long, but I think this is the most important issue that the Committee and the House have to face. I am not at all sure that we are playing fair by the people we represent. They are badly frightened by the huge, swelling number of Commonwealth immigrants that they see. They are so frightened that they are not prepared to behave in the way they would behave if only their nerves could be steadied slightly. Therefore, I am sorry we are continuing the present rate of immigration instead of making a complete change and having a total shutdown on it.

Mr. Nicholas Scott (Paddington, South)

I shall try not to go over ground that has been well trodden this evening but to make one or two points that have not been covered.

But first I should like to discuss two points raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Ire-monger). He spoke of those who thought our culture and national identity have been threatened by immigration. There are those who have that feeling, but there is another side of the coin. One cannot mix with young people today without being aware that a growing number of them take pleasure and satisfaction from living in an increasingly diverse society, one in which those of different cultural background and different colours are making their lives.

My hon. Friend said at the beginning of his speech, and again at the end, that people in this country have been frightened by the size of immigration and the coloured population. This must in part be due to the widespread ignorance among the population about the actual scale of immigration and the size of the coloured population. One of the most interesting parts of "Colour and Citizenship" was the sample survey in which the sample was asked to assess the size of the coloured population in this country. At that point it was 1,100.000. No less than 23 per cent. of the sample believed the coloured population to be in the range 2 million to 5 million. Twenty-four per cent. assumed it to he already in excess of 5 million, and 26 per cent. could make no attempt to assess its size. In these circumstances, some fear is understandable, but it places a special responsibility on politicians and national leaders to communicate the facts of the situation to the electorate.

I was particularly glad that my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) and the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell) reminded the Committee that while we have talked of immigration in a national context, questions of immigration have worldwide connotations. Britain, which was for decades the head of a multi-racial Empire and Commonwealth, has a special responsibility. At a time when technology and communications are making a nonsense of the barriers which loomed large not many years ago, it seems ludicrous that we should be erecting new barriers within our community and between the races in the world.

How unrealistic it is! I frequently wonder how coincidental it is that, at a time when military power has become virtually meaningless in the world, when the world's greatest military Power cannot impose its will on a tiny nation on the other side of the world, Britain, no longer able to exercise power in that way, may have a role to play in exercising moral authority in the world, and in particular showing the world how it can solve the problems created by races living together. Certainly it is absolutely in accordance with the traditions of this country for humanity, decency and tolerance that we should seek to solve this problem rather than run away from it now that we are faced with it.

On the subject of the precise form of immigration controls that we should have in future I think that we on this side of the Committee may have made a mistake in talking of the new policies simply in terms of reducing Commonwealth citizens to the level of Italian waiters, as it were. We should think instead of a completely new system of immigration control common to both Commonwealth citizens and aliens, but having as its foundation not the country of origin and still less the traditions of that country, but the purpose for which people come to this country.

The authors of "Colour and Citizenship" went into a similar scheme in considerable detail. Those who came here would be broken down into categories according to whether they came as students or as visitors, for temporary skilled employment or for short-term or seasonal unskilled employment, or for permanent settlement. This would be a much more realistic basis for a new approach to immigration control than writing the present dual system into any sort of permanent legislation.

But I hope that in any such system there will be a category, however small the numbers may have to be in the immediate future, for permanent settlement, subject to good behaviour over the initial years of residence in this country.

If we are to be able to talk rationally and sensibly about immigration to this country, we must have a rational and sensible race relations policy in Britain, as has been frequently said today. I do not want to go over the same ground again—repatriation and its irrelevance—because the argument for repatriation has been repeatedly demolished this afternoon. Much of the answer, as was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North, rests with the work of the local community relations councils.

I hope that these councils will increasingly turn away from working as advice and welfare organisations for immigrants, because those duties should properly be done by local authorities, and instead seek to bring the host and immigrant communities together to solve the social problems of the big city from which both black and white suffer. If they can be brought together in a mutual effort to overcome these difficulties, they will forget their differences.

In addition to this local work, which needs encouraging by local leaders, there is a need for a much more positive national lead from the political, religious, business, trade union and other leadership of the nation. We are all involved in this. The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), in his prophecies of doom. spelled out one alternative which faces the nation. There is another, but, as "Colour and Citizenship" repeatedly emphasised, time is not on our side. Unless we can begin, within the next two or three years, to take positive steps towards an alternative solution, the right hon. Member's prophecies may come true.

This presents us with a challenge Lo many of the beliefs we have propounded to the world in the past about democracy, decency and tolerance. I believe that it is a challenge to which we can and Mil rise. Since it is fashionable in debates on race relations to end with quotations, perhaps Milton may be allowed to give us some small guide. I for one hope that .. England will not forget her precedents of teaching other nations how to live.

Mr. Fergus Montgomery (Brierley Hill)

It is now 8 ½1/2 hours since I entered the Chamber to take part in this debate. While I praise the garrulousness of some hon. Members, I cannot but feel that when they stand up to speak some of them forget to sit down again.

I should like to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle), who has made his debut from the Front Bench in this debate. We hope that he will be on the Front Bench for many years to come.

I cannot help contrasting the attitude of the party opposite today to immigration control to that which they took in 1961-62. This was glossed over by the Home Secretary. He talked glibly about the agreement which existed between the two Front Benches—since 1964, he hastily added. Certainly he could not say that there was agreement in 1961 and 1962. How much more fortunate he has been as Home Secretary in having an Opposition who are realistic than Lord Butler was as Home Secretary in 1962 facing an Opposition who refused to face the facts. If only we had had a bi-partisan policy on this very vexed issue in 1962, perhaps a good deal of the sting could have been taken out of it.

There has been a good deal of immigration since the end of the war. Because of the onrush of the late 1950s, the then Conservative Government decided to introduce the 1962 Commonwealth Immigrants Act. The problem has been aggravated by the fact that the immigrants tend to concentrate in certain areas of London, the West Midlands and Yorkshire. I do not blame them for that: it is a natural tendency. The first immigrants moved to areas of high employment and those who followed moved where they had friends or relatives. This is what any of us would do if we emigrated. But the fact that they have tended to concentrate in certain areas has created great social problems there in housing, education and health facilities.

12 p.m.

For five years I represented a Newcastle-upon-Tyne constituency. I had some 300 Pakistanis in a total electorate of 48,000 and there was no problem in the constituency. There were never any grievances; I never had any complaints either from the white population or from the Pakistanis. But 300 people in an electorate of 48,000 are easily assimilated. I have noticed the difference since I returned to this House as Member for a West Midlands constituency. I have noticed particularly the lack of public confidence there in the ability of the Government to control immigration.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Runcorn said, it is a question of numbers. This, I believe, was the purpose of the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) last year. I believe that he is completely sincere in his views and that he has every right to state them. After he made his speech, he was reviled by a lot of the do-gooders. He performed a great public service, however, because he brought the subject into the open. Before then it was a subject which people often only talked about in whispers. I believe that there was, under the surface, simmering a great row and that he, as a top-ranking politician, standing up and saying what he did, at least brought the subject out into the open.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas), who attacked the intolerance of the Left,of which we have seen an example in this Chamber today while my right hon. Friend was speaking. The hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Bidwell) seemed to take delight in the fact that my right hon. Friend is not allowed to be heard in some of ourunversities or that attempts are made to stop him putting his views. There are many hon. Members I disagree with profoundly but I would not take part in any action to stifle their views, because if they hold them sincerely they have every right to put them forward.

Whatever we feel, not one of us can deny that we have a problem and that we must decide how best to tackle it. I believe that the central Government have to find more money to pour into the areas of high immigration to help them get rid of the causes of tension, and provide more houses, teachers, school places and hospital beds, while at the same time trying to prevent more immigrants from concentrating into these already overcrowded areas.

I do not believe that the present legislation helps in this respect. I suggest that the Government look at the proposals put by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in his speech at Walsall earlier this year, because these would abolish the system of a fixed number of vouchers being made available for immigrants. Under that scheme the Home Secretary would decide how many, if any, and under what conditions immigrants would be admitted into the country. It would also ensure that entry would be refused to any who proposed to settle in those areas already congested. This is tremendously important, because if we are really interested in the indigenous population and the immigrants who have already settled here, we have to try to see that the problems which exist in these areas are not more and more aggravated.

I hope that the Government can tell us what the total immigrant population is. Various figures are bandied about but no one seems to know exactly. I have asked the town clerks of Dudley and Wolverhampton, parts of which boroughs come into my constituency. All they can give me are estimates based on the number of children in our schools. I believe that it would be in the interests of all if we could have accurate figures of the total immigrant population.

I believe that it is essential to have a form of effective control of immigration. I believe that there has been a big reduction in the numbers admitted. I believe this to be fair to the indigenous population and to the immigrants already here. I therefore urge the Government to look at the proposals put forward by the Opposition and to take bolder steps to ensure that the intake of immigrants is drastically reduced.

Mr. Robert Cooke

I will not detain the Committee long, but following the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger) when he mentioned my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), I feel that I must say a word. Many people believe that this is an overwhelming problem because of the sheer force of numbers of the human beings involved.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North dismissed with a rather lordly wave of the hand the suggestion which my right hon. Friend has made on a number of occasions about what he regards as the significant part that assisted repatriation could play in this problem. I would not wish to over-emphasise the suggestion made by my right hon. Friend but I believe that it could be a major factor, even if not quite as significant a factor as my right hon. Friend would suggest.

One has only to mention the thought of assisted repatriation to be attacked violently by those of these extreme Left. I remember discussing this problem with otherwise reasonable people shortly after the Government came to office. As I left the meeting, having suggested that assisted repatriation could play its part, I was called "a Fascist beast" by someone whom I had hitherto respected as a balanced man.

My right hon. Friend has been violently attacked for almost everything he has said in a helpful spirit on this difficult problem. There is surely no more humane and human man in the House of Commons if one can get to understand my right hon. Friend. The fact is, however, that he has a somewhat dour exterior and he sometimes uses classical language which is not understood by all the people. Those who wish to misunderstand him sometimes make use of this fact.

I feel that my right hon. Friend's suggestion about helping in every way those who wish to return home would make a significant contribution to the problem. During a General Election—I cannot remember whether it was the last or the one before—I remember meeting a young child, I thought from Africa, playing on his own in a school playground. The football which he was kicking came over in my direction. I picked it up and, as if by magic, a rather older gentleman appeared who turned out to be the boy's father. He rushed forward, shook me by the hand and said, "Mr. Cooke, I have been longing to meet you. I am going to vote for you."

I said that I was pleased to hear that, and I asked why. He said, "You are in favour of restricting the number of immigrants." I said, "That is putting it rather simply, but I certainly think that it would be better for those who are here if not too many more came, at least for the present." He went on to explain why he supported my point of view and that he had come from Nigeria and made a success in life but realised that an acute problem would result from a swamping of the situation.

I have another case which I must quote and which I tried to put in my intervention to my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North, but I obviously did not get my point of view across to him because he thought that I was taking a quite different line. It is the case of a Nigerian who said to me, "I want to go home. I have come here, and I have excellent qualifications as an engineer, but I have not been able to find the right job. I want to go to my own country, where I can get a good job and am wanted, but I cannot find the money. Will you get it for me?"

It was a classic case of a gentleman who could be most useful in his own country but who, if he stayed here and brought over his family, would end up by being a burden on the State with a great number of dependants. He said frankly, "It would be easy to get the rest of the family over here, but I am not like that. I am not anxious to cause trouble. I have benefited greatly from my stay and am thankful for what has happened, but I want to go home now and make use of my life there."

I wrote first to the Home Office, which said that it was no concern of theirs, and that I should apply to the then Ministry of Social Security. I said point blank to the Secretary of State that if he meant business about helping people to go home here was a case which he should do something about. I received a reply in indefinite terms. I said that this man, if he stayed, would be a burden on society, he wanted to go home to make a contribution after all he had learned here, and that something should be done. Eventually something was done and he went home. In the course of these investigations I discovered that up to that time in the year—well over half the year—fewer than 20 people had been repatriated.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West should not be attacked for saying that nothing like enough is done to help those who benefit from what they learn here and want to go home to succeed in the country from which they came. I hope that those who attacked my right hon. Friend for making this suggestion will think again.

Mr. Carlisle

Those who have taken part in the debate will, I hope, agree that it has been extremely interesting and that the speeches have been of a high standard. The purpose of moving the Amendment was to give an opportunity to the Committee to debate the whole question, and I now beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Cooke

I beg to move, in page 1. line 18, leave out subsection (2).

This must be something of an anticlimax after our long debate on a most serious subject. It is purely fortuitous that I am able to raise this matter, because the Bill is so drafted that licensing planning is usually discussed before immigration, and it would be inconvenient for the Committee to waste time on this subject before getting on to the main subject. But this year the Bill is drafted around the other way and we have unlimited time, at least until tomorrow's sitting, to deal with it. I have no intention of delaying the Committee for that long, and I note the sigh of relief which has issued from hon. Members.

I have raised this matter many times, and have the support of hon. Members on both sides, so that I do not need to make the case again. If the Minister has done his homework, he will have the references in the OFFICIAL REPORT and will have beside him a stack of volumes going back for many years.

Licensing planning originated after the last war to enable areas which were heavily damaged by bombs to share out on a fair basis the new licences for public houses and other places supplying alcoholic refreshment. It was thought that a brewery that had lost a great many public houses should have the lion's share of the new licences. A system was worked out by which each public house that had been destroyed had, as a yardstick, a notional number of barrels of beer that it consumed in a week.

In Bristol, which I have the honour to represent, many public houses were destroyed, and some brewery interests had a great number of barrels per week at stake. I can remember as a small boy being driven through the streets of Bristol—not through Clifton but on the other side of the city—where almost every other house was a public house, and many of them were destroyed. It was fair that the representation of those interests should take place when it was decided who should get a new licence and where. But it is now a quarter of a century since the war ended and a great deal of redevelopment has taken place.

12.15 a.m.

Persistently I myself since I came into the House in 1957 and other hon. Members have endeavoured to get rid of licensing planning, this cumbrous piece of legislation, so that there should be a completely free market and so that anybody with the right site, the right plans and of good character should be able to own a public house. The public house today is more than a drinking den. It is a focal point of the community, which is badly needed in some of those characterless estates which are being developed at present. We sought to get freedom and have not yet achieved it.

The Government, true to form, set up a committee to look at the matter, the Willis Committee, which reported in July 1965. It cost something like £450 to produce the report. Several hon. Members sat on the committee and it produced a summary of recommendations. Recommendation 84(i) said: … there is no longer a continuing need for the existing licensing planning machinery provided by Part VII of the Licensing Act 1964 in respect of the war-damaged areas and this Part of the Act should not be renewed ". There is the answer. That is my case. That committee, at great expense and with tremendous expertise, said that the machinery should be scrapped. But it has not been scrapped. We have heard various helpful noises from various Ministers. I want to know why it has not been scrapped and why the Government are not prepared to accept my Amendment.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Elystan Morgan)

Subsection (2) of Clause 2 of the Bill has the effect of continuing in force until the end of March 1971 Part VII of the Licensing Act 1964. The provisions of this part originated in the Licensing Planning (Temporary Provisions) Acts of 1945 and 1946 which were consolidated in the Licensing Act 1953, itself consolidated in the Act of 1964. Unless further extended, Part VII of the Act of 1964 will expire on 31st March, 1970.

The hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Robert Cooke) referred to the departmental committee under the chairmanship of Mr. J. Ramsay Willis, Q.C. The hon. Gentleman said that the Government, true to form, had set up that committee. He will note from the report that the committee was appointed on 15th April, 1964, which, of course, was during the term of a Conservative Administration. But I make no political point whatever on that. I am merely quoting that to show the inaccurate statement made by the hon. Gentleman. I was surprised that he sought to draw any political lesson from it.

Mr. Robert Cooke

I desired to make no political point. I said "the Government"—I mentioned no political party. Perhaps this Government have a guilty conscience.

Mr. Morgan

It is much too late to try to bandy politics in this connection. It was the words "true to form" that led me into that byway.

That departmental committee was set up by the then Home Secretary to consider whether there was a continuing need for licensing planning. As we have heard, the committee's report was published as a White Paper, Command 2709, in July 1965. Its main recommendation was for a continuation of licensing planning in a modified form. Implementation must, of course, await the introduction of comprehensive licensing legislation. There is little chance of this happening in the near future. Meanwhile, the existing system, which still serves a useful purpose, should not be allowed to lapse, leaving nothing in its place.

Licensing planning committees are of use, principally in providing machinery whereby magistrates and representatives of local authorities are enabled to consider together the problems of redistributing licensed premises in war damaged areas where extensive redevelopment is still taking place. These problems involve a number of social issues, and, as with a similar procedure which exists for new towns under Part VI, it is right that the different interests involved should consider these on a formal basis, rather than that they should be left to haphazard and ad hoc consultation, if any such consultation takes place.

The hon. Gentleman has challenged me to justify why more than a quarter of a century after the end of the war we are still continuing with what was basically war time or immediately post-war time legislation. I am sure that he, as one who has read the Ramsay Willis Report carefully, will remember what is said in paragraph 32: We believe that in a licensing planning area it is not now possible to differentiate between redevelopment by reason of war damage and development initiated by other factors. Therefore, I merely draw his attention to this factor of redevelopment caused by enemy action merging with redevelopment that is founded on an agglomeration of wider factors. That is a matter which no doubt was very much in the mind of the committee in arriving at the conclusions set out in its report.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned barrel-age. I was not sure whether he took specific exception to it. I draw his attention to paragraph 25 of the report, which reads: We believe that in those few areas where the equation of barrelage was practised and the committees were faced with the necessity for a drastic overall reduction in the number of licences, the system was not unreasonable in relation to on-licences. I remind the Committee that, whereas the Acts of 1945 and 1946, later consolidated, refer both to on-licences and off-licences, under the Licensing (Amendment) Act, 1967, which was a Private Member's Measure, off-licences have been removed from the jurisdiction of licensing planning committees. Off-licences have represented a large part of the case put forward by the hon. Gentleman in these debates on previous occasions.

Under Section 120 (4) of the Act of 1964, the Home Secretary is required to consult the licensing planning committee for an area before making any revocation order. On the other hand, there is nothing to prevent any of the licensing planning committees, of which there are 18 in England and Wales, making representations to my right hon. Friend asking him to consider withdrawing the operation of Part VII of the Act of 1964 from its area. Apart from those which did so some four years ago and were withdrawn from the system—Dover, Great Yarmouth and Liverpool—no representations have been received from the licensing planning committees with the exception of that for Sheffield. That committee made representations with regard to some parts of its area, and those were deleted from the operation of the Act.

The passing of the Amendment would mean the creation of a hiatus in the operation of licensing planning committees in the area in which it now operates. It would be an act of imprudence for the House to allow this planning procedure to lapse at the end of March, 1970, as would be the case if the Amendment were carried. For that reason I ask the hon. Member not to press it.

Mr. Robert Cooke

The hour is late, and it would probably bring many Members from distant parts if I were to divide the House on the Amendment. But I am not entirely satisfied with what the Minister has said. He has done his best toassimilate a long and tricky brief on the subject. He has said what his predecessors on both sides have said—because this went on under the previous Government, just as under this one. It is not good enough to quote paragraph 32 and say that there are considerations of development initiated by other factors. If development initiated by other factors is to he taken into account, why not have licensing planning committees in every part of the United Kingdom? This is something left over from the war, where there can be a little excuse for keeping it going on a year-by-year basis, because all Governments have consolidated it in some licensing Act.

It is not good enough for the Minister to say all this again. We have heard it all before. I do not believe that we could not rely upon the ordinary machinery of planning and licensing justices and local interests to get together and make the right decisions. The present system of licensing planning can even prevent a new neighbourhood or housing estate from getting a public house because there is a wrangle about where it should be situated and how many barrels it should have.

There was a case in the West Country where a public house was provided on the other side of the frontier, in a free area outside the licensing planning jurisdiction, because it took so many years to get anywhere under the existing cumbersome procedure. I see the hon. Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Dobson) here. Owing to his position as a Whip he cannot speak, but if he looks into it he will find that it was his constituency that was involved. It was only because I fought long and hard—and I am sure that he was also there, in the background—that he benefited. We fought hard to get rid of this bureaucracy.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment, but I protest and hope that it will not be necessary to put it down again.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill reported, without Amendment.

Motion made, and Question, That the Bill be now read the Third time, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 55 (Third Reading), and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.