HC Deb 12 February 1976 vol 905 cc605-6
12. Graham Page

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what changes have taken place in 1974 and 1975 in the procedures for controlled and orderly entry into Great Britain of East African Asians holding United Kingdom passports under special voucher provisions.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

My right hon. Friend announced on 6th February 1975—[Vol. 885, c. 1541–3.]—an increase from 3,500 to 5,000 in the annual quota of vouchers. The essentials of the scheme are unchanged, though it is administered with reasonable flexibility.

Mr. Page

Is the Minister satisfied that the rules that are applied are specific enough? If so, are they sufficiently well known to the immigrants who are already here and who have been given original rights to bring in dependants to be fair both to them and to those who now acquire new rights to bring in dependants? There seems to be considerable confusion about the rules that are being applied.

Mr. Lyon

If the right hon. Gentleman will write to me setting out where the element of confusion lies, I shall certainly look into the matter. As I understand it, the administration of this part of our immigration control is carried out with a good deal of flexibility and despatch.

Mr. Sims

In view of the increasing rate of unemployment in this country, particularly among immigrant communities, does the hon. Gentleman believe that he was wise to increase the voucher quota at this time?

Mr. Lyon

Since the early 1960s both Conservative and Labour Governments have given an assurance to Asian passport holders in East Africa—and it should be recollected that they have the same citizenship as we have—that they will be admitted here if they are not allowed to remain in their country of origin in East Africa. It is because we believe that it is better to get rid of that commitment as soon as possible that we have increased the number of vouchers. However, that does not mean that the total number of those coming in will increase. It means that these people will come in quicker. We hope that the commitment will be fulfilled by the end of this decade.

Mr. Marten

Has the Minister's Department got the mechanics to identify immigrants from the West Indian and Indian Ocean Islands of Martinique, Guadaloupe and Réunion, and separate them? That might be to the benefit of those who approved of the Common Market and yet who object to the immigration of coloured people—because those islands are part of metropolitan France?

Mr. Lyon

So far we do not have that problem, and I hope that we shall not have it. In relation to United Kingdom passport holders, the problem involves a limited number of people in East Africa. That limited number is decreasing fast and we expect it to be zero by the end of this decade.