HC Deb 27 July 1972 vol 841 cc2041-3
15. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why more Commonwealth immigrants, other than British passport holders, were admitted, and fewer refused admission, to the United Kingdom in April, 1972, than in April, 1971; and whether he will now declare a moratorium on further such immigration.

Mr. R. Carr

The numbers of Commonwealth citizens admitted for settlement or refused admission necessarily fluctuate from month to month. It is the general trend which is significant, and for the first five months of this year the number of admissions is actually slightly down on last year. Most of those admitted are the wives and young children of men already settled here, and I am not prepared to prevent the reunion of families.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Quite apart from dependants, has my right hon. Friend observed that the figures for April, 1972, include 19 voucher holders from India and 133 other settlers? With unemployment and a housing shortage, is this justified? Will my right hon. Friend not close his mind to the suggestion in the second part of my Question?

Mr. Carr

We must look at the trend. Although April was slightly higher than April last year, the May figures which I am about to announce were somewhat lower, and the five months show a small decline on the previous year. As my hon. Friend will know, we reduced the number of employment vouchers last year from 8,500 to 2,700 and on 3rd May this year the number was further reduced to 2,250.

Mr. James Lamond

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that control which is too rigid can cause considerable anguish to families already in this country? Is he aware of the case of a constituent of mine in Oldham, the details of which I have given him, in which one daughter out of a family of five was refused admission to this country? Will he see that these decisions are reached by giving the benefit of the doubt to the young children who wish to join their parents here?

Mr. Carr

It is the general feeling that we must have a pretty firm policy of control but that it must also be fair. The rules must be there and they must be firm, but I certainly want to look at claims for special treatment, and I will look into the particular case raised by the hon. Member.

Sir D. Renton

Is not the question asked by the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. James Lamond) a strong argument for not bringing in any more heads of families than we have to bring in?

Mr. Carr

As I have explained, and as I thought was well known, the numbers of heads of families now coming in has been reduced to no more than a trickle. This is right, and this is what is happening.

Mr. David Steel

May I support the question of the hon. Member for Oldham. East (Mr. James Lamond) and ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will look at the practice of administering the rules for dependants who fall just above the automatic age limit for entitlement to entry? Does he agree that it is important that we do not produce an unnecessary break-up of families? I respect the view that we cannot allow in people who are coming basically for work and settlement rather than as dependants.

Mr. Carr

I will certainly look at any particular case. As I said at the end of my Answer, I am not prepared to prevent the reunion of families.

Mr. John Fraser

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his last remark is extremely welcome and that the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) should not get excited about one month's immigration figures any more than about one month's balance of payments figures?

Mr. Biggs-Davison

I am not excited.

Mr. Fraser

Can the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the relationship between the number of dependants coming into this country and the number of heads of households coming in is in the ratio of about 4:1 and that there is no direct relationship between one month's figures for heads of households and one month's figures for dependants?

Mr. Carr

I think the hon. Gentleman is about right as far as I can see from the figures he gave.