HC Deb 01 March 1973 vol 851 cc1690-2
16. Mr. Dykes

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give the latest figures available to him of the Ugandan Asian refugees still remaining in Resettlement Board establishments.

Mr. Lane

On 28th February there were 4,121 refugees in the Uganda Resettlement Board's centres.

Mr. Dykes

Does my hon. Friend not regard that as an excessive figure, bearing in mind the time that has elapsed? What discussions is he having with the board about an effective policy of permanent settlement over a very wide area?

Mr. Lane

I do not accept that it is a large figure. On the contrary, considering the difficulties, I think that the progress made has been very good, and reflects a lot of credit on the board, the local authorities, and others who have been at the receiving end. I know the anxiety of my hon. Friend and others about where the remaining refugees may go. There is hope that a higher proportion of them will go to more remote areas, where there are not already concentrations, than has been the case with the first few thousand who were resettled.

Mr. Molloy

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that up to now there has been a concentration in certain areas of immigrants from the Uganda Resettlement Board? I am sure that he is aware that this is causing enormous problems for local authorities such as the London Borough of Ealing.

Mr. Greville Janner

And Leicester.

Mr. Molloy

Is the hon. Gentleman prepared to have consultations with his colleagues in other Departments to try to reverse the policy where local authorities claim that the Government have been mean and insufficient in their aid? The Government say that at least it is equal. That does not help local authorities. Will the hon. Gentleman press the Government to do something for them?

Mr. Lane

I do not accept the implication in the last part of the hon. Gentleman's question. I have visited a number of these areas, including Ealing yesterday and Leicester a few weeks ago. I know the difficulties. I hope that the hon. Member will recognise the additional help which has been given by both the Uganda Resettlement Board and the normal working of the rate support grant machinery.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

Has my hon. Friend seen reports in the Press today of a Mr. Dhanda, who had been deported overseas as an illegal immigrant here but who returned and found employment, apparently without difficulty? Would not it be easier to resettle and find employment for those immigrants who are here legally if the Home Office could be more efficient about preventing illegal immigrants coming in?

Mr. Lane

I have seen the reports and I am having special inquiries made into that case. Cases such as the one reported in the Press this morning are very rare. We are always looking for ways of improving our defences against both illegal immigration and overstaying.

19. Mr. Cyril Smith

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is yet in a position to report further on his discussions with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, on the admission to this country of Ugandan Asians whose relatives and dependants are already in this country.

Mr. R. Carr

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Leek (Mr. Knox) on 22nd February.—[Vol. 851. c. 146–7.]

Mr. Smith

We welcome the line that the right hon. Gentleman has taken in the matter. The Question was put down before his statement. I assure him that we welcome the fact that relatives are to be admitted to this country.

Mr. Carr

I thank the hon. Gentleman for what he has said. I emphasised from the beginning that we could not take responsibility for those who were not our citizens, but once the United Nations had firmly accepted that responsibility and after it was seen that it was being so successful in meeting it, with the assistance of other countries, I thought it right for this country to take those few hundred extra people whose families were already here.