HC Deb 18 March 1971 vol 813 cc1619-20
2. Mr. Clinton Davis

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received from the Race Relations Board and the Police Federation concerning the Immigration Bill, 1971; and what replies he has sent.

Mr. Maudling

None, Sir.

Mr. Davis

Is it not a fact that neither the Police Federation nor the Race Relations Board was consulted before the introduction of the Bill? If so, why were they not consulted? Has not Mr. Reg Gale indicated that registration with the police is bound to cause friction between the police and Commonwealth immigrants, and has not Mr. Bonham Carter indicated that the Bill is dangerous and unnecessary?

Mr. Maudling

The right principle in preparing legislation is to confine consultation outside the House to those who must necessarily be consulted. On the hon. Gentleman's second point, I am aware of certain criticisms of the Bill, which I am afraid I do not understand.

Mr. Bidwell

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that many people are extremely unhappy about the Bill at a time when young coloured people, in particular, feel that they are being picked on? By imposing new duties upon the police it looks as if we are checking up only on coloured people.

Mr. Maudling

I do not agree that there is as much concern among the immigrant community as the hon. Gentleman suggests. In so far as there is concern, it is largely due to the misrepresentations about the Bill which have been all too common.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

At a time when the police are making great efforts to improve their relationships with and to help the coloured people in this country, is it not a pity that hon. Gentlemen opposite should try to reflect upon the police by saying that immigrants or coloured people have something to fear by registering with the best police force in the world? Is it not also improper that Mr. Bonham Carter in his position should descend into the arena of racial politics? If he wants to do that, should not he resign?

Mr. Maudling

No, Sir. I think that it is perfectly proper for Mr. Bonham Carter to express his views. I do not necessarily agree with him, but I have great confidence in him and in his ability to do the difficult job he has taken on at my request. On the first point, I repeat that criticism of any Bill based on fact is to be welcomed, but some criticisms of this Bill made outside the House have not been based on fact and misrepresent it.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

Does the Home Secretary still have an open mind on the problem of registration? If in Committee, with good will on all sides, we can find a way of improving it, will he accept it?

Mr. Maudling

I said something very close to that effect on Second Reading. What I said then still goes.