HC Deb 07 December 1972 vol 847 cc1657-60
16. Mr. Bradley

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will arrange for the Uganda Resettlement Board to provide long-term financial aid for the City of Leicester.

17. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will arrange for the Uganda Resettlement Board to provide immediate and retrospective financial aid for the City of Leicester.

Mr. Lane

Leicester, like other local authorities, has received guidance from the board about the financial assistance payable by it. Authorities may be reimbursed for one year for the total cost of temporary arrangements directly attributable to resettlement and may also qualify for 75 per cent. grant on capital expenditure on facilities which will have a useful life beyond the emergency. A grant for the re-opening of a primary school at Leicester has already been authorised.

Mr. Bradley

Does the hon. Member not realise that the assistance is hopelessly inadequate? Leicester's problems are long-term and enduring. There is also a great deal of overcrowding in the city, with thousands of local-born citizens awaiting housing accommodation and hundreds of children unable to find school places. Why will the Government not empower the resettlement board to make grants available for much needed long-term facilities instead of leaving the burden to local ratepayers?

Mr. Lane

I do not accept that the help offered has been inadequate to the extent that the hon. Member says. I appreciate the great problems that Leicester faces. We have already had several meetings with representatives from Leicester, and I know that there is a long-term problem which we can discuss further with the deputation from Leicester, which is coming to meet the Home Secretary in the middle of this month. If the present arrangements are not thought to be adequate in cases at the margin we can, of course, reconsider them.

Mr. Janner

Is it not correct to say that so far Leicester has not received a penny from the Government by way of help in the present extremely difficult situation? Does the Minister not appreciate that the vast majority of my constituents regard the Government's handling of the situation as utterly deplorable?

Mr. Lane

I understand that that is not the case. Money has begun to be paid to Leicester, and there is automatic provision, through the rate support grant, to help deal with these problems, which are not caused by the Uganda emergency alone. We are looking forward to discussing Leicester's problems with the representatives in a couple of weeks' time.

Mr. Evelyn King

Is not the rather curious view that these exiles, already unhappy and lonely, are likely to settle in rural areas remote from their friends and religion, a little inhuman? Would it not be better to accept that they will end up close to their relations, and should not financial provision be made accordingly?

Mr. Lane

In the early stages the natural inclination of a large number of these refugees has been to go to places like Leicester, where they have friends and relations. We hope that from now on those still in the centres who may not have friends and relations may be persuaded to go more widely around the country. I see no reason, from the cases about which I have heard, why resettlement should not be carried out with good will to enable these people to have a good new life in these rural settings.

18. Mr. Douglas-Mann

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for entry to the United Kingdom by Uganda Asians with non-United Kingdom passports, but with wives, children or other close relatives in the United Kingdom, have been refused at ports of entry; and to what countries applicants have been sent following such refusal.

Mr. R. Carr

Ninety-nine Uganda Asians with close relatives in the United Kingdom have been formally refused admission. Fifteen of them—all citizens of Uganda—were sent away from the United Kingdom, eight to Uganda, five to Canada, one to Germany and one to Switzerland. The remainder are still here pending further consideration of their cases.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

The numbers involved are small and the hardship likely to be involved for these 99 is potentially immense, particularly for those returning to Uganda. Did the Home Secretary see the television programme last week about divided Ugandan families The great majority of people interviewed recognised that great hardship was likely to result from the refusal of entry to Ugandan Asians who have close relatives here and that, if allowed in, they would be likely to impose a burden on taxpayers. But even those who do not wish to increase the numbers of foreign-born citizens here were anxious that these Asians should be admitted. Will the Home Secretary take appropriate action as a result of that?

Mr. Carr

As I have said before, it was made absolutely clear to the husbands and wives of these people before they left Uganda that if we temporarily took their wives and children to safety here they would have to expect to reunite in a third country and not here. Of course, they are suffering hardship, but they would have suffered even greater hardship if we had not at least taken their wives and children to safety. I am prepared to consider how we can help the wives and children to be reunited with the husbands once the husbands have been established in other countries.