HC Deb 06 March 1972 vol 832 cc1020-1
28. Mr. Ewing

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the present position of British subjects flown home from Pakistan at the time of the crisis and who now want to return.

Mr. Anthony Boyle

Entry to Pakistan is a matter for the Government of Pakistan, but I understand that there is no restriction on the entry of United Kingdom citizens.

Mr. Ewing

To say the least, that is a very surprising answer and seems to fail to answer the Question which has been posed. Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the Question relates to those British subjects married to Pakistanis who were brought to this country as a result of the crisis and now want to return? The basis of the Question is that their passports were withdrawn when they landed in this country and would be returned only on repayment of the cost of the fare to bring them here. Those people who want to return are finding it very difficult. Will the hon. Gentleman have another look at the Question and his reply?

Mr. Royle

With due deference to the hon. Gentleman, I am looking at the Question as it was put down and it seems to me that I have answered it. The supplementary question which the hon. Gentleman has just asked me is different but I shall be glad to try to answer it. Careful consideration of the impounding of passports, which is what the hon. Gentleman was implying, has shown that in cases of repatriation it is fully justified. However, this may not always be so in the case of a major evacuation. Instructions have now been issued that, in all cases of group evacuation, the question will be considered and a decision on the issue taken at the time.

Mr. Healey

While thanking the hon. Gentleman for that answer may I, through him, thank the Foreign Secretary for his correspondence with me on this matter? As the Government are now prepared to treat these matters more on their merits than as a matter of general rule, will the hon. Gentleman, in dealing with the question raised by my hon. Friend, show as much charity and human sympathy as possible in dealing with the problems of Britons who have left Pakistan and now want to go back but who may find it difficult, before returning, to raise the money required?

Mr. Royle

I am grateful to the right hon. Member for giving me the opportunity to give the assurance for which he has asked. Sympathetic consideration will be given to any request to pay by instalments.