HC Deb 11 May 1971 vol 817 cc204-5
Q25. Mr. Bidwell

asked the Prime Minister how many letters he has received expressing opposition to the Immigration Bill.

The Prime Minister

I have received a small number of letters about particular aspects of the Bill, but they cannot be classified as simply for or against it.

Mr. Bidwell

When the right hon. Gentleman replies to these letters, does he point out the nonsense of patriality and non-patriality as it applies to Commonwealth citizens? Does he explain also how he will need to adjust or to make a new law regarding Britain's immigration situation in relation to the Rome Treaty?

The Prime Minister

The first point has been discussed in great detail in Committee, and the Government are now considering the conclusion to which the Committee came and will be able to advise the House on the Bill at a later stage. The arrangements under the Treaty of Rome in regard to movement of labour, and the relationship of this to immigratidn from other countries, have long been well known.

Mr. Thorpe

May we at least have an assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that when replying to these letters he ensures that, apart from the requirement for them to report changes of address and occupation to the police, no other emergency wartime regulations will be reintroduced to control new immigrants to this country?

The Prime Minister

The letters I have received about the Bill have been seeking information of various kinds. A small number have been protesting against the Bill, while a considerable number have been asking that the Bill should be more rigid than it is. I have replied explaining the provisions of the Bill, and this has not been done in terms of wartime regulations. Nor is the Bill conceived by those who write to me in such terms. They recognise that there is a problem in those areas which have large numbers of immigrants. We said at the election that we should act on this matter, and that is what we are doing.

Mr. John D. Grant

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that he is in office only by courtesy of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) and his obnoxious views on immigration?

The Prime Minister

Sufficient has been written and said about the last election for me not to hold an inquest on it.

Mr. Clinton Davis

What representations have been made to the right hon. Gentleman on this issue? Would he agree that a large number of community relations councils, the British Council of Churches and the Board of Deputies of British Jews are among many organisations which have represented their feeling that the Bill is racialist and is likely to be very damaging to race relations in Britain?

The Prime Minister

As I said, a small number of the letters I have received have been critical of the Bill, but not the great majority.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

Does the right hon. Gentleman consider, in view of what has already happened in Committee, that this was a well-drafted Bill?

The Prime Minister

To deal with a very difficult problem, this was a good Bill. What is more, it will go on to the Statute Book.