HC Deb 28 November 1974 vol 882 cc906-11
Mr. Lane

I beg to move Amendment No. 45, in page 6, line 36, leave out 'may' and insert 'shall'.

I shall shortly seek leave to withdraw the amendment, because it has been overtaken by events. We tabled it with serious purpose before the Prevention of Terrorism (Supplemental Temporary Provisions) Order 1974 was published in the past 24 hours. We did so because we were anxious to have movement controls in operation as soon as possible—that is, not merely a permissive power to the Secretary of State but virtually mandatory. As this has to be done, let it be done quickly. We have our answer in the new order, which we welcome. It is modelled largely on Schedule 2 of the Immigration Act 1971.

I am not trying to debate the order, which I hope will come before us later but I would mention Article 5. which refers to a passport … or some other document satisfactorily establishing his identity and nationality or citizenship Article 7 contains the requirement of landing and embarkation cards. The two articles together seem to go some way to meet the demands made by many speakers on both sides of the House for identity cards. I ask the Government Front Bench for a firm assurance that they will keep in mind the further step that may be desirable of more full-blooded identity cards, particularly in view of what my hon. Friend the Member for Petersfield (Mr. Mates) said earlier. I hope that if the Government find it necessary to go further, in the light of the operation of these powers, and with this degree of documentation, they will not hesitate to ask the House for that extension.

My second point concerns the powers of search in the clause, elaborated on in the order. There was mention earlier of the need for a thorough search of vehicles to get at the arms and explosives regularly moving to and fro across the Irish Sea. Hon. Members on both sides of the House asked for assurances that explosives movement control in this country will also be tightened up still more, if necessary, in the even more serious situation we now face. The Minister of State did not cover that matter. I hope that the Secretary of State will give an assurance on it, because it has caused concern on both sides of the House.

My last point is about the police. The very elaborateness of the machinery rightly laid down in the order is yet another example of the extra demands that will be made on the police through all these provisions as a whole. We should like a clear statement that steps to strengthen the police, over and above what has already been done by both Governments will be taken as soon as possible.

There is a subsidiary point which concerns expense rather than manpower. It has been pointed out by some of my hon. Friends that the extra burden of administering the controls will fall on the local police services in the ports where most of the traffic runs. That will be expensive in terms of police manpower and cost, and it would not be fair that this national task should fall wholly on local finance. I hope that the point will be considered. We cannot expect an immediate answer, but will the Government be prepared to pay an extra police grant if it is found that these new duties are putting an unreasonable burden on local police forces?

Mr. Roy Jenkins

As the hon. Gentleman has recognised, the amendment has become unnecessary. We hope that the order to which he referred will come into effect at midnight tonight.

I have said that my mind is not closed on the matter of identity cards. I listened with great interest to the striking maiden speech of the hon. Member for Petersfield (Mr. Mates), to which many hon. Members have paid tribute.

He gave an example of an identity card. I should like to consider the cost and value of that and to discuss the matter with my advisers. My mind is not closed, but one must take professional advice on a matter of this sort, and that I shall do.

I regard the matter of explosives control, both into the country and within the country, as important and I will keep it under constant review.

6.45 a.m.

The Bill imposes certain additional manpower demands on the police. I do not think that they will be enormous demands, but they are additional demands and increase the need to bring the police up to strength of which the present Government, like the previous administration, are fully aware. Although the last year has not been good from this point of view, it has not been as bad as 1973.

I should like to consider without commitment the point about variation of grant according to particular burdens. If totally disproportionate burdens were put on certain forces, particularly small forces, the matter would have to be considered.

Mr. Lane

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Powell

I wish briefly to raise the question of the relationship between what is being enacted and the Immigration Act 1971, to which the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Lane) has indirectly alluded two or three times.

Subsection (1) provides for the examination of persons arriving in, or leaving, Great Britain or Northern Ireland …". It is not limited to arrival in Northern Ireland by air or sea. It is a general provision and presumably therefore covers a power to provide for the examination of people arriving by land. I do not think that that is altered by the fact that the statutory instrument, which was provided for us in draft, appears to make provision only for examination of people arriving by ship or aircraft. That may be because there is to be a corresponding Northern Ireland order to the order which we have in our possession, which contains no reference to arrival by land. However, the fact that in the clause power is taken to examine arrivals in Northern Ireland by land—that is, without qualification—raises the question of the relationship between what is proposed in the Bill and the Immigration Act.

It is well known that citizens of the Republic of Ireland are subject to the Immigration Act 1971, as they were to the Immigration Act 1962, and that this has hitherto been rendered a matter of theory only by the existence of the common travel area which is provided for by Section 1(3) of the Immigration Act 1971. The requirements which the Immigration Act imposes upon those who are not citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies on entry into the United Kingdom are not removed by the existence of the common travel area. The common travel area simply means that the consequential control is not applied.

By Clauses 6 and 8 I understand that we are making a breach in the common travel area, and the question arises whether the common travel area is not due for reconsideration. It has always presented a problem in the context of deportation, which applies to citizens of the Irish Republic who are not also citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies as it applies to aliens.

There is in Section 9(6) of the 1971 Act a power for the Secretary of State to exclude the Republic of Ireland from the common travel area by order for such purposes as may be specified in the order.

I might put the general question in specific form by inquiring whether the purposes of Clauses 6 and 8 and the orders to be made under them could not be conveniently served by an order under Section 9(6) of the Immigration Act 1971, limited to the purposes of the Bill. In general, the whole question of the common travel area and the control of entry into the United Kingdom across the land frontier will have to be considered, and the implementation of the Bill will force reconsideration upon us. I say that in no exclusive spirit towards the Irish Republic and its citizens, but simply because it will be increasingly undesirable to operate legislation of this sort while still maintaining what will become more and more the fiction of the common travel area under the Immigration Act 1971.

I hope that I have said enough to direct the Minister who is to reply to the points I have in mind.

Mr. Lyon

The right hon. Gentleman raises a very technical point but a matter of some substance. The correct answer is the one he divined. There is a difference between an order made under Clause 8 and an order made under Clause 6. An order under Clause 6 will have an effect upon the land frontier of Northern Ireland, but whether the common travel area is brought into question——

Mr. Powell

I do not understand why Clause 8 should have application only to arrivals by air or sea. It appears to be quite general and to include arrivals by land.

Mr. Lyon

The regulations which have been made under Clause 8 provide for landing and embarkation and for examination of people arriving in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but not specifically by land. Clause 6 is more pertinent to what the right hon. Gentleman has in mind.

I come back to what I said in my wind-up speech in relation to the difference between the control exercised under the Bill in Great Britain on persons coming from Northern Ireland, and the control exercised under the Immigration Act in respect of foreign countries generally. One is really security control as distinct from immigration control, and the powers contained in Clauses 6 and 8 are related to security rather than to immigration.

With Clause 6, it is a question of an area to determine where the exclusions should be relevant. With Clause 8, it is a question of using powers for the purpose to search and detain people suspected of terrorism. But in neither case is the purpose of the check one of immigration, so although the right hon. Gentleman is right in saying that the common travel area at least has some limitation by reason of the Bill, it is not a limitation which calls into question the whole of the common travel area policy. Whether it would ever be called into question by any further development is a matter for the future, but it is not called into question by this Bill.

The right hon. Gentleman should also consider the question of paragraph 3 of Schedule 3, which states: An order may make such provision as appears to the Secretary of State expedient as respects persons who enter or leave Northern Ireland by land, or who seek to do so.

Mr. Powell

Then I take it that there would be the intention in due course to make an order in pursuance of that paragraph?

Mr. Lyon indicated assent.

Mr. Kilfedder

The Government could help by telling us what plans there are for controlling entry along the land frontier between the Republic and Northern Ireland. The order which is to come into effect from midnight tonight states that it does not apply to Northern Ireland. Clause 8 of the Bill refers to powers which examining officers have for searching ships and aircraft, "or elsewhere". As this is a serious matter, perhaps the hon. Gentleman could tell us what steps are being taken to control entry from the Republic into Northern Ireland.

Rev. Ian Paisley

Is it included in the order that certain official crossing places on the Republic-Northern Ireland border will be named, as the hon. Gentleman has named airports and other places in the order in referring to those leaving or entering Great Britain?

Mr. Lyon

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland will be laying an order in which hon. Gentlemen will see the details of the questions they have in mind.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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