HC Deb 24 July 1972 vol 841 cc1309-10
25. Mr. David Steel

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British citizens of East African origin are known to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to be temporarily resident in other countries while awaiting entry permits to the United Kingdom; and whether he will list the countries involved and the number of applications for permits received in each.

Mr. Kershaw

Fifty-six United Kingdom passport holders of Asian origin who sought to reach the United Kingdom from India without waiting for the issue of special vouchers are known to be at Turin and 21 are at Boulogne. Most of them are believed to have had connections with East Africa. In addition, two persons from East Africa who have attempted to jump the queue for special vouchers are known to be in Spain.

Mr. Steel

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that this country, and only this country, has the right to offer them a place of residence? Will he confirm that in whatever country they are situated they may still apply for entry permits? May I ask what happened to the six people who were sent back to India last week and who were then returned by the Indian authorities to this country? Apart from the distress caused to those individuals, will the hon. Gentleman say who paid the bill for this exercise?

Mr. Kershaw

The Government have recognised the special position of United Kingdom passport holders of East African origin. That is why special arrangements have been made. Our duty is not only to ensure that they receive all the help we can give them but also to make sure that this country is not overwhelmed by a sudden influx of up to 250,000 people who may have the right. This is the purpose of the degree of control which we have thought necessary to introduce.

Dr. Miller

Does not the hon. Gentleman think it monstrous that 75 citizens who hold British passports should be bullied and thrown about from country to country? Is it not about time that we showed a spirit of British compassion and allowed these British passport holders into this country?

Mr. Kershaw

We have been able to make arrangements which are for the general good both of this country and of others. These provide for an orderly introduction of these passport holders into this country. If people wish to try to jump the queue, this is not in the general interest and they should not be allowed to do it.