HC Deb 24 February 1972 vol 831 cc1481-2
26. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a further statement about the rate of Commonwealth immigration.

44. Mr. Montgomery

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a statement on the current rate of Commonwealth immigration.

Mr. Maudling

A total of 38,219 Commonwealth citizens were admitted for settlement in 1971. The number admitted in 1970 was 36,725. The increase is attributable to the decision to increase from 1st June, 1971, the number of vouchers for United Kingdom passport holders from East Africa. Excluding them, the numbers admitted were 29,886 in 1970 and 26,655 in 1971.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

As there was an increase in the number of United Kingdom passport holders coming into this country, why was there not a decrease elsewhere, as we were given to understand? Is not this increase entirely unacceptable at a time of high unemployment, industrial unrest, and subversive manipulation of coloured groups? Will my right hon. Friend declare a moratorium?

Mr. Maudling

With respect to my hon. Friend, I feel that he must have misheard my answer. I said that, leaving aside the special case of the United Kingdom passport holders, there was a reduction of something over 3,000 in the numbers between 1970 and 1971.

Mr. Boardman

Would my right hon. Friend confirm that the main problem of absorbing these additional numbers of immigrants continues to fall on certain cities which already have a high concentration of severe social problems?

Mr. Maudling

The House has recognised that United Kingdom passport holders are a special case. There was an increase because we agreed not only to an increase in quota but to a special allocation last year which provides a hump in the statistics. Apart from the United Kindom passport holders, the numbers of people coming in are falling substantially because work vouchers were cut as from 1st June, 1971. As the work vouchers fall, so the number of dependants coming in will also fall.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

Is the Home Secretary aware that we support his interpretation of his statistics. However, we believe that the sad thing is that there was not the same bipartisan attitude to the statistics before June, 1970.

Mr. Maudling

I do not want to go into the intricacies of statistics, but the House is clear on the fact that the general trend of immigration is downwards as a result of the restriction of the number of work vouchers. At the same time we are taking the opportunity to deal with the special problem of United Kingdom passport holders, which the House has recognised requires special treatment.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.