HC Deb 17 July 1975 vol 895 cc1696-8
2. Mr. Ian Gilmour

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what criteria he uses in deciding whether or not to grant the right of permanent settlement in Great Britain to applicants who initially entered this country subject to conditions.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Roy Jenkins)

The general criteria are set out in the Immigration Rules for Control after Entry and include such categories as people who have been in approved employment for four years, people with a grandparent born here, and those who marry a person settled here. In addition, we revoke the conditions of Commonwealth and Pakistani citizens who were granted immunity from deportation by the Immigration Act 1971 if they were ordinarily resident here on 1st January 1973 and have been so resident for five years: revocation of their conditions is a recognition of the facts and does not constitute an addition to the numbers of immigrants settled here.

Mr. Gilmour

Is it not a fact, however, that about 20,000 people from the Commonwealth who were accepted for settlement last year initially came in under conditions, which is about 10,000 up on the figure for 1973—about double? Is it not also a fact that the figure for the first quarter is over 5,000? Will the Home Secretary therefore accept that it is every bit as important to exercise strict control over the numbers of those who are accepted for settlement having come here initially under conditions as it is to exercise control over those who come here for settlement in the first place?

Mr. Jenkins

I accept the general proposition, subject to the fact that where people are settled here, I think that it is not right to keep them indefinitely in a position of insecurity, and I do not think it is right to have split families. The right hon. Gentleman's figure for last year is approximately but not absolutely correct. It was 18,959, just under 19,000. Of these, 5,000-odd were accepted by reasons of marriage, 5,700 after lawful residence, and 1,400 after unlawful residence—as a result of the five-year "amnesty" provision in the 1971 Act—which, while a significant figure, was very much less than the figures which were bandied about at the time. The figure for the first quarter is 5,200, which is a little up but not significantly different from the figure for 1974.

Mr. Lane

What relaxations have there been in the system for controlling the entry of dependants into this country as a result of the Minister of State's recent visit to the Indian sub-continent?

Mr. Jenkins

We are looking at this matter carefully at the present time. I am sure the whole House will agree that it is difficult to defend the present position under which a wife can have a first interview and then be asked to attend a second interview, 21 or 22 months later. I am endeavouring, as far as is compatible with reasonable and effective control, to speed up and simplify the procedure. I am sure the hon. Gentleman would not wish to justify a position in which the wives of people who are settled here and who are entitled to come, have to go through the process of one interview followed by another nearly two years later.

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