HC Deb 04 December 1979 vol 975 cc253-382
Mr. Speaker

I have selected the amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition.

Before we start the debate, I must remind the House that it will be quite impossible to call everyone who wishes to speak. However, it will be possible to call many more if right hon. and hon. Members co-operate.

4.13 pm
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. William Whitelaw)

I beg to move, That this House approves the White Paper on Proposals for Revision of the Immigration Rules (Cmnd. 7750). On 14 November I published a White Paper setting out the Government's proposals for the revision of the Immigration Rules. I now invite the House to approve these proposals. This does not mean that my mind is closed to suggestions for modification of the draft rules contained in the White Paper, but I invite the House to give its approval to the Government's general approach.

There are certain categories of people who have a continuing claim to come to this country. Traditionally we have always been extremely generous in taking people from all parts of the world who find themselves in difficulty. The latest example of this is the 10,000 Vietnamese refugees whom we are committed to accept. An earlier example is that of the United Kingdom passport holders in East Africa. Those who were under pressure to leave Africa have been admitted at a controlled rate under the special voucher scheme. We have always made it clear—and this is emphasised in the White Paper—that the special voucher scheme will continue. Then there are the wives and children of men settled here in recent years. About half the total of acceptances for settlement have been the wives and children of those already settled here. Indeed, the right of a Commonwealth citizen settled here on the coming into force of the Immigration Act 1971 to be joined by his wife and young children is protected under section 1(5) of the Act.

The claim of the passport holders to come under the special voucher scheme is a consequence of our Imperial past. The claim of the wives and children largely stems from the primary immigration which took place before the coming into force of the 1971 Act. We have the right to expect that immigration outside these categories will cease, except in circumstances of the most urgent need. It is in this belief that the Government have framed their proposals.

I turn to the proposals for the revision of the Immigration Rules contained in the White Paper. Our proposals on husbands and fiances have aroused the greatest interest. Since the rules were changed in 1974, marriages have been contracted with the primary aim of enabling men to come here to work and settle. There can be no doubt about that.

The 1973 figures for husbands from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan show that we accepted for settlement, both on arrival and on removal of the time limit, no more than 200 men. In 1974 the equivalent figure was about 2,200. In 1975 that figure had more than doubled to about 5,000. In 1976 the figure was more than about 6,300. Thereafter the flow was affected for a time by changes in the Immigration Rules and the giving of less priority to applications from husbands and fiancés. However, in the 12 months to mid-1979 the equivalent figure was 5,600 and we know from the number of applications in the pipeline that the pressure to come by this route is as keen as ever.

What we are discussing is the question of men being able to use a provision in our immigration control which enables them to settle on marriage when they could qualify to come in no other way. We must stop this loophole. The Government have a clear mandate to do so.

Mr. Cyril Smith (Rochdale) rose

Mr. Whitelaw

I shall give way, but I must emphasise that Mr. Speaker has asked that as many people as possible should speak in this debate. Every time I give way, I stop some other hon. Member from speaking. I hope the House will appreciate that.

Mr. Smith

Does the Home Secretary agree that under the existing law, if it can be proved that an immigrant is coming to this country for a marriage of convenience, he can be returned? There are instances of this in the past four years. Therefore, what is all the fuss about?

Mr. Whitelaw

If the hon. Gentleman will bear with me he will hear further reasons for my proposals.

Inevitably this means that the ability of some women who have settled here to be joined by their husbands and fiances will be removed. This is the price that we have to pay to stop marriage being used as a device to achieve admission to the United Kingdom. It is reasonable to provide that a husband or fiance should not be admitted if the marriage has been entered into for immigration purposes. That is sensible. Indeed, the Labour Government have already so provided to exclude those who do not intend to live permanently with their wives. I see nothing strange at all in the requirement that the parties to the marriage should have met.

I have already made it clear that it is not part of my intention to affect the position of a girl who was born abroad because her parents happened to be out of the country at the time. I made it quite plain in my statement that we would treat her as though she was born here. I have always made it plain that both she and our citizens born here would be able to be joined by their husbands and fiancés for marriages that were not contracted for immigration purposes.

Nevertheless, the argument has been put to me that the rules should confer not a discretion but a right on women born here to be joined by their husbands. It has also been suggested that women who happen to have been born abroad because their parents were out of the country at the time should have their right to be joined by their husbands written into the rules and not left to the exercise of discretion outside the rules.

I have considered these arguments carefully and they seem to have great force. I am glad to be able to inform the House that I accept them. The new rules, when laid, will incorporate both suggestions. They will provide that no woman will be able to bring in her husband or fiance if the marriage is primarily in order to obtain his admission to the United Kingdom, or if one of the parties no longer has any intention of living permanently with the other, or if the parties to the marriage have not met. Otherwise, an entry clearance will—not may—be issued provided that the woman is a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies who was either born in the United Kingdom or born to a parent who was born here.

We cannot go further and extend the provision to all women who are citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies. This would mean leaving the door open to further primary immigration because of the facility of registering minor childdren as citizens under our nationality law.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Whitelaw

I shall give way once more.

Mr. Lyon

The upshot of that concession is that it makes the whole issue much more racialist. What the right hon. Gentleman has just said shows that it discriminates between one citizen and another. Will he now tell us what legal advice will be available about whether his proposals are in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights?

Mr. Whitelaw

That is a matter for the courts when the time comes for them to consider it. It is not a matter for me at this stage. I reject entirely the accusation that the proposals are racially discriminatory. Increasing numbers of children from the ethnic minority groups are born here and there is no intention of preventing them from bringing in their husbands to join them, provided that the marriages are not contracted for immigration purposes.

Our proposals have been criticised for discriminating between the sexes, and it is true that some women settled in this country will be treated less favourably than men in their ability to bring in their spouses. Nationality legislation and the Immigration Act prevent us from applying the same provision to men. A woman who is a Commonwealth citizen and marries a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies with the right of abode. All herself acquires the right of abode. All wives of such citizens may register as citizens themselves and acquire the right of abode. In these circumstances, it would be fruitless to attempt—

Mr. S. C. Silkin (Dulwich)

I am grateful to the Home Secretary for giving way; he is always courteous in these matters. In view of what the right hon. Gentleman said in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon) about this being a matter for the courts and that this House will be asked to appprove his proposals tonight, surely the House should be advised by a Law Officer of the Crown about whether these proposals are in conformity with, or in breach of, the European convention.

Mr. Whitelaw

I am coming to that. Since the proposals put forward in 1969 by the Leader of the Opposition are exactly the same as mine, I should have thought that what happened then was the same as what is happening now. I am surprised that anyone in Opposition should raise the matter at all.

I have already mentioned that under section 1(5) of the Immigration Act 1971 the wives of Commonwealth citizens settled here on 1 January 1973 must remain as free to come and go as they were before the passing of that Act. Clearly, therefore, men cannot be treated in precisely the same way as women. This emphasises the importance of the Government's commitment to new nationality legislation. We said that we would introduce a new nationality Bill to define entitlement to British citizenship and to the right of abode in this country. That remains our intention. Although we cannot introduce a Bill this Session because of the parliamentary timetable, I intend to publish a White Paper in the coming year.

Let me remind the House that the change in the marriage rules is not a novel one. In 1969 the Leader of the Opposition, then Home Secretary, removed the right of entry of Commonwealth husbands and fiances. He said—these are his words—that the abuse of the concession is inconsistent with the general scheme of Commonwealth immigration control". The reversal of the right hon. Gentleman's policy in 1974 by his successor in the Labour Government as Home Secretary was not undertaken without preliminary reservations.

In March 1974 the then Minister of State at the Home Office commented, in another place, as I reminded the House on 14 November, on the danger that …if this matter were to be mishandled by the present Government or by their successors we could experience a substantial new wave of immigration".—[Official Report, House of Lords, 28 March 1974; Vol. 350, col. 794–5.] In August 1974 Mr. Roy Jenkins nevertheless changed the rules. But the ensuing increase in the immigration figures demonstrates the validity of his initial reservations about the change.

After the changes affecting husbands and fiances, the proposed change which has attracted most attention is the tightening up of the requirements for the admission of dependants other than wives and young children. We said that we would do that. We cannot accept immigration commitments solely by virtue of a person's preference for living in this country or the fact that certain family members are settled here. Children aged 18 or over will in future qualify for settlement only where the circumstances are of the most strongly compassionate nature. Special consideration will, however, be given to daughters under 21 who formed part of the family unit overseas and who have no other relative to whom they can turn.

Parents and grandparents aged 65 or over, and widowed mothers, already have to show that they are wholly, or mainly, dependent on children in this country who can support and accommodate them. In future they will also have to show that they are without other relatives in their own country to whom they can turn and that they have a standard of living substantially below that of their own country. I do not see why, when elderly relatives have a choice of living with relatives here or in their own country, the presumption should be that they should come here.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Whitelaw

I am sorry. I said that would not give way again. I have given way several times.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Richard Crawshaw)

Order. The right hon. Gentleman has made it clear that he will not give way.

Mr. Bruce Douglas-Mann (Mitcham and Morden) rose

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman must resume his seat.

Mr. Whitelaw

My hon. Friend the Minister of State will reply to points at the end of the debate. I think that that is the best way of proceeding.

Where those relatives would otherwise be uncared for, that is another matter. Parents and grandparents under 65, and more distant relatives, will not qualify for entry save in the most exceptional compassionate circumstances.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

Will the Home Secretary give way?

Mr. Whitelaw

No. I have given way. I am trying to get on. The hon. Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mr. Douglas-Mann) can raise his point in debate and it will be answered by the Minister of State.

Mrs. Renée Short (Wolverhampton, North-East)

The right hon. Gentleman is dodging.

Mr. Whitelaw

I am not dodging anything. I have said that I shall not give way.

A number of other changes in the rules are designed to make it more difficult for people who come here for temporary purposes to prolong their stay with the object of achieving settlement or of going to ground and evading the control altogether. Anyone who has been concerned with the operation of the immigration control knows that there is a constant and massive pressure against that control by people not just from the Indian sub-continent but from all over the world who wish to work and settle here. We cannot ignore the possibility that changing circumstances in any part of the world may create new pressures or encourage people here on a temporary footing to put off their departure. This requires, and receives, our constant vigilance.

Evasion of the control may take the form of illegal entry or of overstaying, but the rules are very relevant to the problem of overstaying, to which the right hon. Member for Leeds. South (Mr. Rees) rightly drew attention after my statement on 14 November.

Under the previous Administration a special survey was authorised in an attempt to discover the extent of overstaying.

I understand that the survey ran into serious difficulties. Briefly, the problems in accurately matching the very large number of landing and embarkation cards made it impossible to arrive at estimates of overstaying which were subject to acceptable margins of error. Because of the margins of error, the survey does not enable any reliable estimate to be made of the number of overstayers, as defined for the purpose of the survey.

The previous Government announced in their White Paper last year that plans to provide computer support for the system of checking on departures were well advanced. Those plans will be brought to completion and should do much to meet the problems. Meanwhile, some useful general conclusions can be drawn.

First, the survey shows that we have reason to be concerned about the effectiveness of our present measures. The survey indicates that overstaying occurs to an extent which justifies the further development of means to tackle it. Secondly, the survey shows that it is unrealistic to expect every potential overstayer to be identified on examination at ports of entry. While an effective control on entry remains a prerequisite for effective control as a whole, for those who enter and overstay effective after-entry measures are necessary. To the extent that its resources allow, the Home Office—with the immigration service—is improving the means of following up cases of overstaying, frequently with the help and cooperation of the police.

Thirdly, important lessons have been learnt about the use and handling of landing and embarkation cards. To make the selective checks on the embarkation of passengers as effective as possible, the number of cards which are currently being collected is being reduced. Fourthly, we have been able to take account of the problems of overstaying when preparing the proposed new Immigration Rules.

A frequent abuse is by the passenger who claims to be coming here for a temporary purpose when his real intention is to prepare the way for settlement. The new rules will make this much more difficult. Visitors and students will not be able to remain for another temporary purpose if this carries with it the prospect of eventual settlement. Visitors will be prohibited from taking employment. There will be a time limit of one year on any visit. It follows that in future people will not be able to come in as visitors or students and once here apply to remain for work or to set up in business, or as a self-employed person or as a person of independent means. It will be more difficult for people who are here for temporary purposes to dig themselves in with a view to overstaying and evading the control.

To set up in business or self-employment, applicants will need to produce evidence that they have a reasonable sum of capital available for investment here and that their activities are likely to generate employment in this country for people already settled here. The capital sum required will be £100,000.

Persons of independent means will also have to show more than that they have substantial resources. They will have to show some special connection with this country, or that their entry would be in our interests. Entry clearance will be needed beforehand in all these cases.

We believe that it is right and proper in the new Immigration Rules to place something of a premium upon honest and straightforward dealings with us. A number of changes are directed to this end. For instance, it will be made clear that a person who holds an entry clearance for which he does not qualify, or which he obtained by deception, will be liable to be refused entry. An immigration officer, when considering whether to grant leave to enter, will be empowered to take account of a passenger's previous immigration history. Any application to remain in this country may be refused if it is from an overstayer or from someone who employed deception to secure entry. These and similar restrictions will inhibit people from switching the basis of their stay in order to prolong it and perhaps finally to gain settlement.

It is right for me to say something about the changes that we shall introduce to prevent people from coming here to exploit our social services. Throughout the draft rules are requirements that persons admitted in various categories should not have recourse to public funds. Where there are requirements in the rules that a sponsor in the United Kingdom should he willing and able to maintain and accommodate his dependants, we may in future seek an undertaking to that effect.

The rules on political asylum and refugees will be amended to bring them more closely into line with the provisions of the convention relating to the status of refugees and with current practice. Power will be taken to require a student in receipt of an award from his Government or an official agency to leave the United Kingdom on completion of the studies for which the award was made. Such awards are often made with a view to scarce skills or qualifications becoming available to developing countries which are desperately short of them. It is reasonable that a student in receipt of such an award should be required to put his new qualifications to the use intended.

New provisions relating to au pair girls will restrict the arrangement to nationals of Western European countries. We shall impose an age limit and stronger controls on their taking employment. These changes will deal with some widespread abuses. The rules on working holidaymakers will similarly provide for an age limit of 25 and an aggregate time limit of two years.

I shall mention briefly the position of work permit holders. I remind the House of the written statement on 14 November by my hon. and learned Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Employment setting out more stringent criteria for the issue of work permits. In the Immigration Rules, we have reviewed, as recommended by the Select Committee, the categories of employment for which work permits are not required. We have also introduced an entry clearance requirement for some of them. Prohibitions have been introduced on the employment of dependants both of work permit holders and of students.

The measures that I have described, and which are set out in detail in the White Paper, are necessary and reasonable. People have a right to expect that primary immigration should, in view of the other claims on us, be kept to an absolute minimum. That is what the Government's proposals will do. Their numerical effect, when they come fully into operation, will be to reduce recent levels of immigration by about 3,000 or 4,000 a year. Moreover, some actual or potential sources of primary immigration which might in turn lead to further immigration under the existing rules will be blocked. Despite these firm measures, I can assure the House that there is nothing whatever in these proposals which affects the rights of people lawfully settled to remain in this country.

From what I have said to the House this afternoon, it must be clear that the changes in the rules in the Government's White Paper go far wider than some of the particular provisions that have aroused most interest and controversy in recent weeks.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The right hon. Gentleman is presenting proposals on the basis that they comply with manifesto commitments and on the basis—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. We are dealing not with manifesto commitments but with the White Paper.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

My point of order is that the Home Secretary is not being candid about the implications of his proposals, in particular in relation to the impact of the proposals on dependants who will be totally banned because—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. That is a matter for debate; it is not a point of order.

Mr. Whitelaw

A comprehensive revision is essential because, save in respect of husbands and fiances, the rules have remained substantially unchanged since 1973. In today's circumstances, and with six years' experience of operating the rules behind us, it is clear that considerable changes are necessary, if not overdue. The combined effect of this revision should be to produce a more practical, effective and reasonable set of instructions to which the immigration service can work in the often thankless but highly important task which successive Governments and Parliaments have laid upon it.

The measures which have proved controversial, relating principally to husbands and fiances, must surely be seen against the background of the commitments into which this country entered, to which it has held and to which it will continue to hold, in the interests of uniting wives and children overseas with their heads of families already settled here. Moreover, this country's response, not least in recent months, to catastrophe and suffering overseas and to the refugee problems that that has created has been and continues to be a most honourable one.

But I believe that the whole country—and this House—accepts that a limit had to be drawn somewhere. In this White Paper, the Government have sought to achieve a reasonable and practical answer to this most difficult question.

I know that there are those who, accepting in many cases that basic conclusion, none the less believe genuinely that the control of immigration can be wholly separated from the question of developing better race relations. But the general view of successive Governments of both parties has been, ever since the first Commonwealth immigration controls in 1962, that tighter controls have been necessary in the face of continued immigration pressures. They have taken that view because of the impossibility of advancing the cause of better race relations when public anxieties about further primary immigration are so strong.

We must, as a nation, seek to deal with the problem thoroughly and in a way that will carry public confidence and acceptance. Only by doing so will we be able effectively to tackle the great challenge of improving race relations. Nor can we afford to wait, for we are moving into a period when increasingly we are dealing not with immigrants who have come here from overseas but with our own fellow citizens who were born here. They are not immigrants, nor should we speak of them or treat them as if they were. The Government's proposals are founded on that.

On behalf of the Government, I should like to restate the policy to which I have consistently referred, both before taking office and since coming into Government. We are as a Government positively committed to improving race relations. I have referred to that work as a challenge, and it is one to which we in the House and the whole country must respond.

4.44 pm
Mr. Merlyn Rees (Leeds, South)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: 'declines to approve the White Paper on the Immigration Rules on the grounds that it violates the principle that the rights of all British citizens legally settled here are equal before the law whatever their race, colour or creed.' The value of this debate compared with other debates on Immigration Rules over the years is that we have a chance to influence the Government before we change the rules. From what the Home Secretary has said this afternoon and from views which have been expressed, I feel that we should use the debate to bring to the notice of the Government many of the anomalies as well as the principles to which we object, in the hope that further changes will be made before the rules appear in their final form.

Many hon. Members receive correspondence about immigration. It is clear that many people believed the Prime Minister when, as Leader of the Opposition, she said that Britain was being swamped. But statistics reveal—

Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West)

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Rees

I shall give way later, but I wish to advance my argument first.

The figures show clearly that we are not being swamped. They show also that the total effect is 2,000 to 3,000 people. In terms of dealing with the sort of immigration that is taking place, that is not relevant. I am concerned that there are many people who at election time and since believed that the proposal is to make a profound change in terms of numbers. It is not. In the one respect of fiances, it is a very small number. It is not worth the candle to make people believe that something much bigger is being attempted. That is wrong, both morally and in other ways.

Mr. Tony Marlow

(Northampton, North): The right hon. Gentleman believes that it is wrong for people in this country to feel that we are being swamped. I received a parliamentary answer today from the Minister of State, Home Office that in the last 20 months 353,000 Iranians entered this country. I asked him further how many were still in the country and how many had left. [Interruption.]

Mr. Rees

There are two answers to that. First, nothing that has been said this afternoon would deal with that problem, which is my argument. Secondly, if the Home Office believes that 353,000 Iranians have come to this country to settle, it should do something about it quickly.

Britain is not being swamped by immigrants. Other proposals about the register and the quota have gone. I am concerned about the fiddling of Government policy on fiances. It is offensive.

I have always believed, and I am not prepared to change my belief in Opposition, that there should be control of immigration. But the main plank of Government policy that we have heard this afternoon is not connected with that issue. The Secretary of State for the Home Department dealt with the question of overstaying and the difficulties that arise because of the card problem. The problem of overstaying is real and should be dealt with, but there is no division on that issue. The basic argument is about fiances. I shall return to that question and to that surrounding dependants later in the debate.

I regret the use of the numbers game. It has not been mentioned this afternoon, but we should discuss it. It is important that we should cease to talk about immigration in that sense. We have a real problem in the inner city areas, and the House should put its mind to that and to the legislation which the Labour Government introduced, which does not appear to be a subject for debate.

Mr. Ronald Bell (Beaconsfield)

I have talked a great deal about the numbers game in the past. Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why it is no longer appropriate to discuss it?

Mr. Rees

The statistics show clearly that there was in the past—

Mr. Marlow

There are statistics.

Mr. Rees

There was a great deal of primary immigration into Britain in the 1950s and the 1960s. The changes made to the issuing of employment vouchers and work permits over the years have removed primary immigration to a great extent. Basic immigration into Britain is not what it was. There are many people who were born in Britain who happen to be black or brown. It is important that we put our minds to allowing them to play a major part in our affairs. If the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) wants to take the same approach as the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow), I suggest that he remembers what was said when the Jews came here in 1906. The Jews now play an important part in the House on both sides of the Chamber.

It is important for us to ensure that more black British people play a part in local government and central Government. That will be a sign of success. They are an important part of the British people.

Mr. Nick Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)

Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that he is in favour of more legislation to introduce the principle of reverse discrimination?

Mr. Rees

I was saying that in the inner cities it is important that the urban programme and other such policies are developed.

The present rules are still drawn under the 1971 Act. I am glad to hear that a White Paper is to be published next year.

Is it the Government's aim to introduce a British nationality Bill? I hope that they do so. We should deal with fiances in that context. The argument is offered that women and men are treated differently because the position of men is enshrined in the nationality Act, but it will be difficult for the right hon. Gentleman to do what he has announced this afternoon if the rules are enshrined in a new nationality Act. The issue will not disappear when a new measure is introduced. What has been announced this afternoon will not, in my view, be supported by a new Act.

Even in the present atmosphere, I shall pick two or three good features in the rules. The rules are wide-ranging and three of them have been described by the United Kingdom Immigrants Advisory Service, which the Home Office grant aids, as welcome steps forward. The advisory service welcomes the opportunity proposed for applications to be made to the Home Office for a letter of consent on behalf of a prospective entrant by someone in the United Kingdom as an alternative to an application for entry clearance to a British mission overseas. In my experience, that is an important step forward.

The advisory service also welcomes the provision that a person named in a work permit may have the opportunity of appealing to an adjudicator when refused entry at a British port. That is also an important step forward. The advisory service notes that in the light of the circumstances prevailing at the time of the decision, which is only too often some time after the application, the applications of children of persons settled in the United Kingdom will not normally be refused entry clearance if he/she has reached the age of 18 after the date of application. I ask the right hon. Gentleman a number of questions which I hope will be answered today. If they are too complicated, I hope that they will be answered later.

First, I refer to the greater recognition of Britain's responsibility as a signatory of the United Nations Convention and Protocol on the Status of Refugees. Certain changes were begun when I was Home Secretary. I shall not make a heavy point of that. However, it was always in my mind that Britain's record under all Administrations was good on political refugees. We compared favourably with other countries. I want to be sure that in taking on board in a different fashion what is done through the United Nations the changes will not be restrictive of our traditional right to deal with political refugees from wherever they come.

When an EEC national enters Britain to take or seek employment, he may be accompanied by his spouse, children and grandchildren of any age if still dependent, as well as dependent parents and grandparents. On the other hand, those already settled here from other countries may bring only their spouse and their dependent unmarried children under 18. There is a great difference between people coming here from the EEC and those coming from elsewhere.

I could understand the Government's position if all were to be treated alike. However, the EEC is to be expanded. The legislation to bring Greece into the EEC has passed through the House. People from a wider Europe, including Southern Europe, are to be in the EEC. If there is a numbers problem, and if there is the problem of relatively underdeveloped countries, the numbers that the Home Secretary claims to be dealing with will be removed to a large degree by the EEC's extension in Europe. In any event, there is discrimination.

One of the anomalies brought to my attention involves the patria United Kingdom citizen who was not born here but who has obtained patriality after live years of stay, who may work and settle in EEC countries and who has the right to be joined by her spouse and immediate dependants, including parents and grandparents. That girl is in the absurd position of being deprived of that right in the country in which she was brought up. There appears to be—

Mr. F. A. Burden(Gillingham) rose

Mr. Rees

I shall give way when I have dealt with this example. A German national woman, for instance, may have the right to settle and work in the United Kingdom. If she marries an Indian with Indian citizenship, he will have the right to join his German wife in the United Kingdom if he comes here to settle. That which is proposed appears to be a violation of EEC law. We cannot say that we are in the EEC for one purpose and act differently for other purposes.

Mr. Burden

During the time that the right hon. Gentleman was Home Secretary, was there any occasion on which he refused entry to a fiance from the Indian sub-continent of a girl in this country who had not seen her husband?

Mr. Rees

I shall deal with that. I shall do so in a proper context. I say now that I did so on a number of occasions. That is why I altered the rule in 1978. I was not in office in 1973.

There are proposals for widows and widowers over 65 and grandparents. They will be admitted only if they are wholly or mainly dependent on sons and daughters settled in the United Kingdom, provided that they have no relative in their own country and they have a standard of living substantially below that of their own country. If the provision is read literally, it will make it impossible for such a person to spend his or her declining years in the United Kingdom with his or her children and grandchildren as he or she will be reasonably required to be in receipt of funds from the family here. How can they comply with that and yet be living at a standard that is lower than that of their own country? That is an important issue to which the Minister of State must put his mind. There will be great trouble if the wording of the rules stays as it is.

Has there been abuse of the dependent family, the old people over 65? I have asked my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill), who was the Minister responsible when I was Home Secretary, whether there was abuse. I cannot recall that there was. Indeed, it is extremely difficult for old people to enter this country. I should like to know the abuse that has taken place as a result of people aged 65 years and over coming into the country.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

My right hon. Friend will probably be more familiar with the figures than I am, but I believe that I am right in saying that the total number of dependants aged 65 or over, or children aged 18 or over, who were admitted in 1978 was 3,124, and that 1,362 came from the Indian sub-continent. The traffic in grannies that the Home Secretary is so anxious to abolish, and which he is seeking wholly to abolish, is trifling.

Mr. Rees

Whatever arguments may be put in other respects, the idea that immigrant grannies will result in procreation and a larger population does not meet the facts of life as know them.

What is the reason for the restriction on au pairs? If there is abuse from certain parts of the world, let us stop it. Yesterday I made inquiries with my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax. Are large numbers of people from the Philippines coming into Britain? If so—I did not know that—that situation should be dealt with on its merits rather than by saying that au pair girls may come from only one part of the world. Any evidence of abuse would be important.

It has been stated that students will have to show that they are able to maintain and accommodate themselves without working in Britain. There is to be a ban on spouses working to maintain the student. I was a student abroad for a short time, and I accept that it is important to have sufficient funds when one is studying abroad. Our university and polytechnic courses are not like those in the United States, where it is normal for students to work while they are carrying out their courses. However, it is wrong that the spouse of a student coming here to study is unable to take a part-time job while her husband is studying at the university. That is a small point and it would not raise grave problems of unemployment. It would involve part-time work in a restaurant or in the university cafeteria. I do not know why that restriction has been added to the Bill.

I turn to the vexed question of fiances and husbands. The Home Secretary has used the word "exploitation" as regards the right—that is what it is—of fiances and husbands to come here. What does that mean? I took action to deal with abuse two years ago and I was not exactly popular.

Surely the Home Secretary is not saying that arranged marriages are an abuse. An arranged marriage that is a marriage of convenience is different, but the tradition in Asian families of marriages being arranged by the parents is not an abuse. We may not like it and it may be foreign to our experience of marriage. Where there was abuse, I took steps in 1978 to deal with it. About 300 people were denied entry. Sometimes Asians came to my constituency interviews and told me that after a year almost to the day the man had walked out but had been allowed to stay in Britain. I sent those men out on the basis that it would be conducive to the public good if they were not allowed to remain in the country. I am against abuse, but my argument is that arranged marriages are not an abuse.

Mr. Allan Roberts (Bootle)

I shall give another example of the Government's failure to understand the culture of the Asian communities. Not only is the Home Secretary unwilling to accept that it is a part of Asian culture that marriages are arranged, but he fails to accept that certain members of Asian communities have more than one name, and are known by more than one name.

A young Liverpool boy, Gias Uddin, aged 18 years, has been in detention for about five months because an immigration officer heard that in his village in Bangladesh he is known by a different name. The immigration authorities say now that he is not the son of the father. He was accepted as such when he came into the country four years ago. That is another example of the Government's failure to accept that cultural differences exist and that must be recognised if Asians are to be considered fairly and equally before the law.

Mr. Rees

I have no wish to make any case other than the one that I am making about arranged marriages. There are problems concerning different names, and entry certificate officers and immigration officers face that problem. It is not only a question of culture but a problem faced by all Governments as they must make arrangements to establish the proper name of an immigrant. However, there is abuse on occasion, and that abuse gives rise to the sort of thing that has happened today.

Mr. Jim Marshall (Leicester, South)

The Government want to equate arranged marriages with marriages of convenience. My right hon. Friend may be aware that I asked the Home Office questions on that point and those questions were answered on 9 November. The Home Office has no evidence. It has no figures of the numbers of marriages that break down within the United Kingdom in the first year. The figure of 356 that has been referred to by my right hon. Friend is the number of applications that were refused. They were refused because officials abroad thought that they were going to be marriages of convenience. Only 169 of those cases were from the Indian sub-continent.

Mr. Rees

As fast as we discuss immigration on the basis of past evidence, there is a change in the pattern of immigration. Far more people want to come into Britain, apart from those from the Asian sub-continent.

The Minister of State has apparently said that fiances and husbands are used as stepping-stones for others to come into the country. I would like evidence of that. Does it mean that some years later someone attempts to get an aged parent into Britain?

Mr. Budgen


Mr. Rees

I am sure that the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West knows all the answers, but perhaps the Minister will give some.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Timothy Raison)

References have been made to the comment that I made at the Conservative Party conference concerning stepping-stones. I was talking about a process of migration. The right hon. Gentleman has asked me for my evidence. My words were taken from a book called "The Myth of Return" written by a social scientist called Dr. Mohammed Anwar. The author is on the staff of the Commission for Racial Equality, and in that book he said: Like the Pakistanis, the early Italian settlers provided an important link for the new arrivals who were helped in the initial stage of settlement, thus facilitating the eventual adjustment to the American environment. So the kin/village-based clustered residences of Pakistanis in Rochdale (and other areas) are not a chance phenomenon but the result of social processes distinguished by the obligations of migrants to provide stepping-stones for their relatives and friends. I was talking about the process of migration, and that is well documented in the book to which I have referred.

Mr. Rees

There are most interesting sociological discussions on immigration, particularly at the turn of the century, into the United States. Apparently, that is happening in Rochdale now according to the hon. Gentleman. He argued at the Conservative Party conference that fiances and husbands were used as steppingstones for others. We deserve relevant statistics.

Mr. David Young (Bolton, East)

Will my right hon. Friend deal with a concern that is felt by members of the immigrant community, many of whom have been here for a number of years? They feel that these measures are both racially and sexually oriented. One immigrant who came to my surgery on Friday evening asked how, in view of these proposals, the British Government could in any way claim to want to provide for a good relationship in Rhodesia. He said that there seemed to be an attempt to act, on a sexually and racially motivated basis, against women of Asian origin who had been in this country for a long time.

Mr. Rees

I know from my visits to Bolton that my hon. Friend has a great interest in this matter. That is the under- lying theme of our argument and I shall seek to return to it in a moment.

On the question of fiances, the numbers involved are small and the abuse can be dealt with under a change that I made to the rules two years ago. I cannot accept the suggestion that arranged marriages constitute an abuse. Many immigrant groups have told me in the last day or so that, if the Government believe that they do represent an abuse—and we have heard no evidence to support that suggestion—it might be a good idea for the Government to talk to them to see what can be done. Those groups are interested in knowing what the abuse can be.

I wish to refer to two anomalies, one of which I think has been dealt with by the change that has already been made. Given, particularly with Pakistani families, that parents may come at different times from their children, it is possible for two children in the same family to be here, one having been born in Pakistan and the other in this country. Under the Home Secretary's rule, and bearing in mind the closed nature of Asian families, there is the problem that children born a year apart will be treated differently. I ask the Home Secretary to examine this matter before he produces the final rules.

I think that the Home Secretary has dealt with a question that was put to me today which illustrates the value of a change that can be made. I had a letter from a former Member of this House—Mr. Ernest Thornton. He wrote concerning his son who had been working in Uganda but who is now back in this country. He had twins who were born in Kampala in 1968. Under the way in which the law was at first drawn up, the twins, one being a boy and the other a girl, would have been treated differently. I only hope that that sort of nonsense will be taken care of by the change that the Home Secretary has announced.

Dr. Keith Hampson (Ripon)

Since, as my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has said, men and women cannot be treated equally on the question of fiances and spouses because men's rights are entrenched in law and women's are not, why when the right hon. Gentleman was the Home Secretary did he not put them on the same footing? If he explains that. we may have a lot more sympathy with the attitude that he has adopted.

Mr. Rees

I am not seeking sympathy in that respect. My predecessor, Mr. Roy Jenkins, altered the law in 1974 in spite of all the difficulties of bringing legislation before the House. That arrangement will stand until the rules are changed again in the next few weeks. There are 2,000 or 3,000 people who are affected in this way, and, unlike the situation in 1970, the number will get smaller.

One question arises out of the exchanges that arose from the right hon. Gentleman's statement to the House recently. My hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, lichen (Mr. Mitchell) asked the Home Secretary: The Home Secretary has repeatedly said that an Asian girl in this country and her intended fiance in India or in Pakistan should meet before marriage. Under which section of the immigration rules will the fiance…be allowed to come here to meet his intended wife? The reply was: As my hon. Friend the Minister of State has advised me—he knows all about these matters—the fiance can come as a visitor in the first place."—[Official Report, 14 November 1979; Vol. 973, c. 1344.] Is that to be put in the Immigration Rules for the benefit of the entry certificate officer? That was not a chance remark by the right hon. Gentleman. It was confirmed with the Minister of State, who is an expert and knows all about these matters. I hope, therefore, that when the rules come on to the Floor of the House that provision will be written into them, because that is what the Home Secretary and the Minister of State said.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell (Southampton, Itchen)

My right hon. Friend may be interested to know that I subsequently wrote to the Home Secretary to ask him whether he meant what he had said. I have not yet received a reply. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will give an answer now.

Mr. Rees

I think that we shall have an answer before the day is out, but in any case an answer was given on the Floor of the House. I am prepared to press the Minister of State, but I do not think that we need worry because that answer was given here in this Chamber.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

May I raise with my right hon. Friend something else that was said on the Floor of the House but which is proving to be misleading, to say the least? The Home Secretary gave an assurance on two occasions that those in the queue would be considered under the old rule. He did not go on to say that the officials had made it clear that, though those cases would be considered under the old rules, if entry was refused the people concerned would not be allowed to appeal under the old rules. The appeal would have to be made under the new rules under which they would not qualify for entry. In such cases, therefore, the right of appeal is removed from anyone who is in the queue.

Mr. Rees

That is an important point and I am sure that it will be cleared up before the debate ends. That is the purpose of the debate.

There has been talk in the press about the European Convention on Human Rights. This issue must be cleared up. There was an article in The Sunday Times on Sunday by Mr. Hugo Young, and I have received letters on this matter. I agree with my right hon. and learned Friend the former Attorney-General that it would be a good idea if the Attorney-General gave us his view on this tonight. The article stated: There is no serious doubt that the new Immigration Rules, due to be rubber stamped by the House on Tuesday"— I do not think that they will be rubber stamped— are in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, a document which Britain signed and ratified long ago. Very soon"— I understand that this is happening— someone will launch an action in Strasbourg claiming that the exclusion of foreign fiances from coming here to marry British citizens is a breach of Articles 3, 8, 12 and 14 of the convention. And after long delay they will establish their case. The Home Secretary says that that is a matter for the courts. However, the reason why I pick up the point made by my right hon. and learned Friend is that in another place Lord Wade is introducing another place Lord Wade is introducing a Bill of Rights. I cannot pretend that there is unanimity on either side about whether there should be a Bill of Rights and whether it should be enshrined in the law. The Labour Party and the Liberal Party in the other place have been asked to join in discussions with the Lord Chancellor about whether a Bill of Rights could be enshrined in the law.

The Government cannot have it both ways. They cannot want to discuss whether the European Convention on Human Rights should play a part in our policy while doing something in this House that is contrary to the convention and at the same time ask us to engage in discussions on a Bill of Rights. It is most important that we hear the Government's view on that this afternoon.

Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall)

Does my right hon. Friend agree by the same token that to introduce the changes to current immigration law is putting the cart before the horse in that it is proposed to change nationality law and to define citizenship? That is the grotesque nature of the debate today.

Mr. Rees

I have already said that when it conies to enshrining what is being done on the fiance-husband citizenship law it is extremely difficult to put forward an argument.

Mr. Edward Lyons (Bradford, West)

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the provisions in the proposed Immigration Rules consitute a clear derogation, in relation to our co-signatories, of our undertakings under the Helsinki Final Act? Will he urge that there should be a legal view on that from the Government before the debate closes, particularly in relation to male fiances and aged dependants?

Mr. Rees

The Prime Minister, quite properly in my view, is constantly telling us at Question Time that the Helsinki agreement is not being carried out on the other side of the Iron Curtain. I must confess that I was not aware of my hon. and learned Friend's point. It is important that we have a view from the Law Officers about this matter this afternoon.

Mr. S. C. Silkin

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for pressing the point that I made. Quite apart from any question of Lord Wade's Bill, does he agree with me that it has been the invariable tradition of Parliament not to enact legislation in any shape or form that is not in conformity with our international obligations, and especially the European convention? Therefore, if there is the slightest doubt about the matter, it must be put right before the House can possibly come to a decision on it.

Mr. Rees

The Home Secretary has heard what was said. He is always concerned for the rights of the House and, indeed, for government to be conducted in a proper way. I hope that he has listened and that we shall hear a statement from the Attorney-General this afternoon.

I have raised some matters. Others will be raised in the course of the evening. This is what I advise my right hon. and hon. Friends. On the basis alone of the Conservative Party manifesto, which is called in aid very greatly at the moment, that The rights of all British citizens legally settled here are equal before the law whatever their race, colour or creed, I recommend my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote for the Opposition amendment, that the House declines to approve the White Paper on the Immigration Rules on the grounds that it violates the principle that the rights of all British citizens legally settled here are equal before their race, colour or creed",

5.22 pm
Mr. Edward Gardner (South Fylde)

In the interests of brevity I should like to confine myself to one aspect of the proposed rules that is causing, and has caused, some concern, and put before the House my personal reasons for justifying the support of that rule relating to husbands and male fiances.

There are three reasons why the proposed change can, and should, be supported. The first is that marriage as a means of entering, working and settling in this country is being abused—and has been abused—[HON. MEMBERS: "What is the evidence?"]—just as it was, and even more than it was, in 1969, when the present Leader of the Opposition, the then Home Secretary, decided to end the concession, as he believed, and told the House on 30 January 1969 that there was an abuse that must be ended. He tried to end that abuse by removing the previous concession for husbands to come here and for fiances to come to this country to marry women United Kingdom citizens.

The second reason why I believe that this rule should be supported is that there was a unanimous recommendation by an all-party Committee on race relations and immigration in 1978 that all further major primary immigration should be brought to an end. The proposal in the rules contained in the White Paper which is now before the House is the proper and justifiable means of doing that.

Dr. Hampson

Nevertheless, that argument does not get over the fact that, in terms of primary immigrants, three times as many are coming here through British men bringing in their fiancees. Therefore, we are trading men and women unequally.

Mr. Gardner

I agree. I hope that by the time I have finished I shall satisfy my hon. Friend that the way in which I suggest the matter should be dealt with is the proper one. However, that is for the future rather than the present.

Without entering into what the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) said, or what was described as the numbers game, may I point out, as a matter of fact and as a matter of serious argument, that in 1969. when a Labour Home Secretary, the present Leader of the Opposition, introduced the restrictions that he did, the numbers that he dealt with were those who had come in in 1968. They amounted to 1,676, which is far, far below the figures with which we must deal today.

As we have heard, and as every right hon. and hon. Member appreciates, in May of this year the Conservative Party manifesto undertook to put an end to that concession. I am not—and I want to make this absolutely clear—seeking to argue or to persuade the House that the proposed rules are perfect. They are far from perfect—inevitably so—[HON. MEMBERS: "They are illegal."]—but they are far better and have been improved out of all recognition by the way in which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has honed down the crudities of the solution that was imposed in 1969.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

The hon. and learned Gentleman talks about the increasing abuse since 1969. What he is doing—as the Home Secretary did—is to quote the New Commonwealth figures. If he considers the figures applying to the rest of the world, which are usually white women bringing in white men, the truth is that the increase has been much greater. If he is talking about abuse through an increase in the figures, the abuse is greater on the aliens and Old Commonwealth side than on the New Commonwealth side. Why is he saying that to allow white women to bring in white men is removing some of the worst crudities? It increases them.

Mr. Gardner

I am dealing with statistics on the same basis as they were dealt with by the Leader of the Opposition when he was Home Secretary. It is on that same basis that I am putting this argument.

I have conceded—indeed, it would be difficult to do otherwise—that, within the constraints of the inanities—because that is what they are—of the present law as it relates to nationality, it would be difficult to produce flawless rules. I suggest that the blame for that lies firmly on the Nationality Act 1948. It is perhaps one of the worst pieces of legislation to have passed through the House. It is complicated, obscure and unrealistic. I hope, as my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has indicated, that it will be reformed root and branch.

The defects of that Act are numerous. It has left us without any separate citizenship. There is no such thing as a citizen of the United Kingdom. Our passports are false declarations. They declare us to be citizens of the United Kingdom and the colonies. We are nothing of the sort. As a result of that ridiculous Act, if a child is born in a foreign country his parents can register him within a year of birth as a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies at the United Kingdom consulate. If the same child were born in a Commonwealth country, that privilege would not exist.

The basis of the status of the British subject, under the Nationality Act 1948, is allegiance to the Crown. Almost before the print was dry on the statute, that basis began to disappear in relation to many countries. The privilege of being a British subject, which was supposed to carry with it the duty of allegiance to the Crown, was continued by the force of law contained in that Act, even where the countries had become republics.

That absurdity is best demonstrated by the fact that there are more than 950 million British subjects in the world, and presumably most of them are not aware of or do not understand their status.

Therefore, I welcome warmly my right hon. Friend's statement that he will publish a White Paper on nationality in the new year. That prospect provides hope for the first step towards recovering a sense of realism in our legislation. I hope that it will form a sound, just and acceptable basis for our future immigration rules.

5.33 pm
Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)

While listening to the Home Secretary opening the debate, I was reminded of the hon. Member who used to write in the margin of his speaking notes" weak point—shout". The right hon. Gentleman shouted so consistently throughout his speech that it appeared to consist of a series of weak points. I have always had great respect for the Home Secretary. However, it was significant that in his speech he simply recited to the House details of changes which we are capable of having read in the White Paper, without justifying those changes or providing figures to support them. Therefore, we are left to seek further information from the Minister of State when he winds up.

I have decided to speak on behalf of my party in the debate because I believe that this is a sad chapter in the continuing story of our immigration changes. Since 1968, we have consistently opposed changes in the legislation. On that occasion, the Liberal Party was not alone but was joined by hon. Members from the other two major parties in some number. I hope that that will be the case tonight. We intend to support the reasoned amendment that has been tabled by the Opposition.

We also opposed the 1971 Act. We take the view—the correct view—that immigration into the country is already very strictly controlled and that our primary task as politicians is to stop wittering on about immigration and deal with the problems of race relations within the community. That view is not confined to my colleagues or myself. I draw the Home Secretary's attention to the recent statement that was published in the Church Times by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. It was signed by about 18 bishops of the Anglican Church, including the bishops of Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, and London, and the prospective Archbishop of Canterbury. Point 6 of the statement underlines the view that I have just expressed: existing legislation already strikes at the root of the family life of our coloured brethren—demand for further legislation can only in the end degrade the society which requires and enacts it even more than it does its victims

Mr. Ronald Bell rose

Mr. Steel

I shall give way to the hon. and learned Gentleman, but, like other hon. Members, I shall be sparing in giving way.

Mr. Bell

I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman will refer to the fact that his party also opposed the Immigration Act 1962, which was the first to impose any control, and voted against the annual renewal of it in the two following years.

Mr. Steel

I dare say that it did. However, I am dealing with the time that I have been in the House and involved in these matters.

Unlike the Home Secretary, the Minister of State, in an important article in The Daily Telegraph today, gave reasons for the rules that are being advanced. I have based my remarks on what he said in what was the most up-to-date statement in advance of the Home Secretary's speech.

I believe that the reasoning behind the Introduction of the rules is false. Perhaps it is worth standing back and trying to see what are the Government's real aims. At the beginning of that article, the Minister of State said: Quite clearly, the first aim is to reduce the numbers coming in to this rather crowded island with its relatively high unemployment. This should help to defuse the tension caused by the feeling of being under pressure felt by part of the indigenous population of Britain. Before I go further, may I say that I believe that, on that point, the Government go seriously wrong. This is a reopening of the echoes of the word "swamped" which was used by the Prime Minister when she was Leader of the Opposition. The Minister of State gives the game away in the next sentence when he says, almost in parenthesis: As it happens, the numbers accepted for settlement have stabilised in recent years, but that is mainly because our immigration system has stemmed them. Precisely. Should we not begin with that statement and get it across to the false propagandists in this country that major immigration into the country has been over for some years? All the myths and stories should be put into their right context. It is the responsibility of us all, but primarily of the Government, to ensure that the emphasis is put in that way and not on phrases about swamping overcrowding, high unemployment, and so on.

I turn to some of the specific proposals in the draft rules. I shall not repeat what has been said—and, no doubt, will be said—about the rights of women to bring in fiances or husbands. In the article, the Minister of State conceded that that will affect between 1,000 and 2,000 persons only. My hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) indicated in an earlier interjection that the Government already have the power to deal with abuses of the system. I should like to hear confirmation from the Minister of State that last year only 175 male fiances or husbands were refused permission to stay after their probationary year.

Is it the Government's case that there are other abuses that they have not been able to control, or are they simply trying to appease the pressure in the Conservative Party from certain quarters, which should be opposed rather than appeased, by bringing in the regulations? It would be hilarious if it were not so tragic, but the right hon. Lady, having gained her unique position as our first woman Prime Minister through the sacrifices of those women who were oppressed in previous generations, appears to be using her first year in office to bring in rules that are oppressive for the rights of women.

Moreover, I believe that the Government are guilty of allowing a misunderstanding about the nature of arranged marriages to become confused with marriages of convenience. I feel strongly about the matter. As some hon. Members know, for part of my childhood I was brought up in Kenya and have many personal friends among the Asian and other communities there.

I want to tell the Home Secretary of an experience that I had concerning arranged marriages. Shortly after my marriage I went on holiday with my wife to Kenya to show her the country that I knew so well. On the aeroplane on our way out I happened to sit beside an Asian boy of about my age. He was going out to get married and told me that he had never met his bride. The result was that we spent the journey discussing the ethics and morality of the arranged marriage system as opposed to our system. By the end of the journey, he had at any rate convinced me that there was a great deal to be said for a system that we find difficult to understand. The families on both sides of the potential marriage arrange the suitability of the partners, and the process of entering into love and a loving relationship begins after marriage.

The Asian boy's argument is difficult to counter. Who are we to say that our tradition of marriage, which may follow after a few weeks of emotional involvement, is inherently superior to theirs, particularly in face of high divorce statistics and marriage breakdowns?

Mr. Raison

The right hon. Gentleman was kind enough to refer to my article in The Daily Telegraph this morning. I quote a couple of sentences from it: We have nothing against arranged marriages as such but marriage arranged for the purposes of migration (sometimes with a dowry coming, abnormally, from the man's family to the woman's) is a different matter. There can be no doubt what is happening. That is the point that we are trying to get at. We are not trying to get at the abuse that was dealt with by the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) in his 1977 changes, which is partially covered already. There is clear evidence that marriage is being used for the purpose of migration. The marriage may last or it may not. The point is that young men are coming over to this country through the channel of marriage just in order to get here.

Mr. Steel

My point is that the Minister of State has a duty to tell the House what evidence there is of those abuses and why the Government are not dealing with them under the present power.

I was using my experience to reply to what the Home Secretary said in his impromptu answers when introducing the statement. I do not have Hansard in front of me, but he appeared to be saying that it was high time that people learnt to meet each other before they got married. It is that argument that I am trying to counter. We have to understand other people's traditions, and our way is not necessarily theirs.

A new problem that has emerged among immigrant communities in this country is tension between the older generation, who are attached to these ideals, and the new generation, who, because they mix with our society, sometimes wish to break away from them and may not want to take part in arranged marriages. From talking to members of immigrant communities, one learns that there is considerable conflict between the generations. However, that is a generation problem and not one between ourselves and the immigrant communities. At the end of the day they have to solve that problem for themselves and it is not for us to intervene. We shall not listen to the tales of one or two girls and then say that we believe that the habits and culture of an immigrant community, built up over generations, should be changed.

The Shadow Home Secretary mentioned the right under the rules of EEC nationals to come here and bring their husbands. Can a woman national of any Community country come here with the right to live and work in this country and bring her husband, who might be an Asian, with her? It would be nonsense if that right were upheld for all other EEC countries except our own. I cannot see how the Government can leave the rules in that unsatisfactory state.

I believe that we can benefit and learn from the tradition of the extended family and the degree of family care and responsibility in immigrant communities. The existing rules impose cruel hardship and distress on families. They sometimes have to wait two years, and perhaps a further one and a half years on appeal, before coming together. People can be separated from their children and elderly dependants for as long as three and a half years under the present rules, before we even come to the new proposals. What does that do for the dignity of family life?

Mr. Burden

We should put the matter in perspective. The previous Government refused in my constituency to allow the parents of two Indian doctors, who between them were earning £16,000 a year, to come here for three months. These people were prepared to give all sorts of undertakings that their parents would return, even to the extent of buying return tickets to India at the time of entry. Permission was absolutely refused by the previous Government, so for heaven's sake let us not imply that this Government are solely responsible.

Mr. Steel

The hon. Gentleman has completely missed my point, which is that we are already imposing severe hardship. I am not talking about which Government may be in power. It is a fact of life that, whichever Government operates them, our existing Immigration Rules are harsh and extremely distressing to the families concerned. We should be conscious of that fact when considering these new rules.

I turn now to the arguments about numbers and unemployment. The Home Secretary read the section on au pairs without justifying the changes in any way. Under paragraph 26 of the draft rules, future au pair arrangements will be limited to girls. For the sake of brevity I shall not do so, but I am tempted to quote an experience that I had some years ago when the Home Office admitted an au pair boy to my constituency and said that there was no precedent.

This is a further piece of sex discrimination. It is limited to girls and those who are nationals of Western European countries, including Malta, Cyprus and Turkey, and they have to come and live as members of an English-speaking family. Who is to check on whether the family is English-speaking, what is meant by that rule, how will it be policed, and why is there a new restriction on where an au pair girl may come from? Those questions have not been answered.

The Shadow Home Secretary also mentioned the new rule on overseas students. One increasingly gains the impression that future students from overseas will have to be exceedingly rich. It seems reasonable that dependants, and particularly wives or husbands of students here, should be allowed to earn money to contribute to their spouse's fees and subsistence while studying.

I come back to the beginning of the article in The Daily Telegraph, which states that the first aim is to reduce the numbers coming into this rather crowded island with its relatively high unemployment. What is the present scale of working holidays among Commonwealth citizens in this country? I am advised that between 15,000 and 20,000 Australians alone come here each year and take what are called working holidays. I am not against that. It is a good thing for young people to come from any part of the world to gain holiday experience and at the same time try to earn money. However, to what extent does it run counter to the statement in the article?

I have in my hand a copy of a newspaper which is distributed free of charge among the Australian community in London. It is called Australasian Express and it is full of job advertisements. I read to the House a half-page advertisement from an employment agency called "Adventures with…" Tales of a land of milk and money… It is in the form of a cartoon of a person arriving with a suitcase and saying: Thought I'd come to the old country. Having a look round, hoping to make some friends and a few shil's…Then a friend suggested I look up"— the name of the agency— who told me about well paid working holidays… The girl from the agency says: Hullo. Terrific to see you…Yes, Super-wages. One job straight after another, where you want it, when you want it. Later it says: thanks for the introduction to the…offices. Now I'm off home with a nest egg and a promising future. Another advertisement stated: How's the money holding out? If it's not, it's time to get some temporary work. After 5 years in London, we're pretty well-known. We've got a whole bunch of really great clients who always have stacks of temporary work to be done". If about 15,000 to 20,000 jobs a year are going to that one community, that makes nonsense of this whole paraphernalia of rules which will control a smaller number but impose real hardship on the families in other countries.

As parliamentarians we ought to be mindful of a further objection. These rules cumulatively add greatly to the discretionary powers in the hands not only of the present Home Secretary and of all future Home Secretaries, until the legislation is changed, but of the immigration officers.

We have always prided ourselves on not having detention without trial. Unhappily, that is a serious and growing side consequence of the present Immigration Rules. I can see that consequence growing under the rules before us today.

What about the registration of citizens, especially those wishing to register their children as British citizens? I have been in correspondence with the Minister of State about individual cases. I share the anxiety that has already been expressed in the House about the importance of maintaining the rights of hon. Members to ask questions on these matters. The Minister alleges that it is taking two years for naturalisation and 13 months for registration. His justification for that is that the Home Office has been receiving considerably increased numbers of applications for citizenship in recent years. The reason for that increase is the anxiety about what these rules would contain. The Government, when in Opposition could have helped to reduce the number of applications by removing those anxieties.

At the end of the article in The Daily Telegraph, the Minister states that the rules should—in due course—take some of the tension out of the problem of race relations". That is the most misguided conclusion of all. To treat immigrants as though they have to be counted in what is callously called in the House "the numbers game", like some form of leprosy that has to be quantified, is damaging to race relations.

When the Home Secretary made his recent statement, I asked him to reflect on what sort of society we were becoming. I say that because I had a recent meeting with one of the high commissioners from a Commonwealth country. He pointed out that in his country, where they were struggling to maintain a democracy being undermined by demonstrations in the streets by those loyal to the other side of the Iron Curtain, they were now facing a position where fees for overseas students had been increased, where British Council assistance had been cut, where the aid programme had been cut, where they were having to turn to the Soviet Union for a major fertiliser contract, and where the queue on the streets of their capital for emigration was to be extended. Yet they are expected to extol the British and Western traditions and their deep attachment to the Mother of Parliaments.

The Home Secretary cannot be proud to present these rules to the House. They are shoddy and disgraceful, and the Mother of Parliaments should ensure that they are withdrawn.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

As the House can see, there are more than 30 hon. Members wishing to speak, almost all of whom have a large constituency interest in the subject. I shall be able to call a considerable number of hon. Members only if speeches are confined to about 10 minutes. I cannot enforce that; I can only appeal for brevity.

5.57 pm
Sir Nigel Fisher (Surbiton)

I shall respond at once to your request, Mr. Speaker, and be brief in the interests of colleagues on both sides of the House. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel) will therefore forgive me for not following him precisely. I shall confine my remarks and criticisms mainly to the matter of fiances and husbands, as that is the most controversial matter before us.

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary cannot deny that his proposals discriminate against women and against race. He justifies them on the grounds that the existing rules have, in some cases, been abused and that some people have gained entry into Britain by the device of a bogus marriage deliberately designed to evade the rules. We all deplore that sort of cheating and wish to see it stopped. But are the proposals in the White Paper the best means of stopping it? Any voter reading the immigration section in the Conservative Party election manifesto would have assumed that it was our policy to reduce the number of new immigrants. The manifesto did not specifically state that, but that was the clear implication.

As more people have left Britain than have entered it in the last decade, it was not a question of numbers. It was a question of race. The objective was to reduce the number of coloured immigrants. Even if one accepts that as a laudable objective—which I do not—the White Paper proposals are not an effective way of bringing about that objective. They will make practically no difference to the numbers. My right hon. Friend has told the House that about 3,000, perhaps 4,000, will be caught in the non-entry net as a result of the new rules; but how many of those will be the evaders—those who are contracting bogus marriages in order to secure entry—as opposed to those contracting genuine arranged marriages according to Indian custom? I do not believe that my right hon. Friend knows the answer to that question, but it is surely central to his justification for paragraphs 50 and 52 of the White Paper. The only evidence that we have of numbers is that between 1977 and 1979 356 men were refused settlement because they had abused the rules. That was about 3 per cent. of the applications dealt with during those two years.

The number of men coming to Britain for genuine arranged marriages is not large, and the number coming for bogus marriages, where the main motive is to gain entry to Britain, is probably very small indeed. The Government are incurring quite a lot of criticism in terms of principle for a minimal result in terms of numbers. More information should be forthcoming about a possible breach of the European Convention on Human Rights under these rules. We may have been in breach of the convention for some time, but I should like to know what the position is. If my right hon. Friend's purpose is really to deal with the deliberate evaders, could he not adopt two criteria?

One criterion has already been incorporation in the White Paper—namely, that the parties should have met each other. That seems quite reasonable. The other criterion might be to extend the existing provision that the couples should remain married for one year to any longer period that my right hon. Friend may prefer, perhaps three years or five years. That would give evidence of the stability and lasting quality of the marriage.

Mr. Alan Clark (Plymouth, Sutton)

It is not our business to monitor people's married lives.

Sir N. Fisher

Perhaps my hon. Friend would like to intervene instead of lounging about.

Mr. Clark

I accept my hon. Friend's reproof. I have known and respected him for many years, but I am curious about the new principle that he appears to be introducing—namely, that it is the business of the State to monitor the marital regularity of people's associations.

Sir N. Fisher

That is precisely what the White Paper proposals will do.

If the purpose is just to deal with the deliberate evaders, could not the Home Secretary have adopted, first, his own criterion about the parties having met and, secondly, a rather longer period of marriage to show that it is a real and lasting relationship?

On the issue of sex discrimination, I appreciate that my right hon. Friend has made a considerable concession in allowing British women born overseas and with at least one United Kingdom-born parent to be granted an entry certificate for their foreign-born husbands. That goes quite a long way to meet the problem of British girls born abroad while their parents were in the Foreign Service, engaged on business for a firm with extensive overseas interests or working as missionaries or in the Armed Forces. However, while helping to reduce sex discrimination, that concession is in fact more discriminatory against race.

Another part of the White Paper that I consider to be rather mean is paragraph 48, which will exclude widowed or elderly parents or grandparents unless their standard of living is substantially below that of their country as a whole. It would be quite difficult to have a standard of living substantially below the Indian standard, and consequently almost all ageing Asian widows or widowers will almost automatically be denied entry.

Miss Joan Lestor (Eton and Slough)

I agree with what the hon. Gentleman said, but is he aware that the position is even worse than he has suggested? The dependent relative will have to have received money from relatives in this country in order to qualify for entry, and that will automatically raise his or her standard to a level above the normal standard of the country concerned. It is a Catch-22 situation.

Sir N. Fisher

That is a valid point and I am grateful to the hon. Lady for mentioning it.

Having pleased Opposition Members with my approach so far, I now have to say something that will not please them so much. They will understand from what I have said that I dislike the new rules very much indeed. I think that they are racist in tone and are rather contemptible for that reason. I believe that up to about 40 or 50 of my hon. Friends feel the same way. If we all voted against the rules, or even abstained, the Government would be defeated. Some of my colleagues will vote against the rules or will abstain. I shall not, and I should like to explain why, if the House will be patient for one minute.

Older hon. Members will concede that I have consistently opposed the line taken by my party on race issues. They may recall that I opposed the then Conservative Government on the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962. I think that I was wrong to do so, because it soon became apparent that some control was necessary. I also opposed the Labour Government in 1968, when my own Front Bench and party supported them, on the East African Asians issue. I am sure that I was right to do so on that occasion.

Tonight there are other considerations for me. The new rules are based on the Conservative election manifesto, to which as candidates all my hon. Friends tacitly, if not overtly, subscribed.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

The amendment contains the exact words of the Conservative election manifesto. If the hon. Gentleman votes against the amendment, he will be voting against his own manifesto—and he agrees that the amendment is completely justified.

Sir N. Fisher

That is a rather convoluted argument. I realised that the words were the same. I thought that it was quite clever to have chosen them, but I do not think that the hon. Gentleman's intervention destroys my case.

Mr. John Hunt (Ravensbourne)

My hon. Friend referred to the election manifesto commitment. In the case of grandparents, the proposed rules are much harsher and more unreasonable than the reference in our manifesto. They are most inhumane and should be reconsidered.

Sir N. Fisher

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. I referred earlier to the provision relating to grandparents. It is very mean and I feel strongly about it.

I acknowledge that the election manifesto is an inhibiting factor for me and my hon. Friends. However, much more important to me is the blow that a defeat for the Government would be to the Home Secretary, for whom I have a great personal affection, and to the Prime Minister, whom I greatly admire and who is beset by many major problems in other matters of even wider significance.

The hon. Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. Davis) shakes his head. Does he think that there is nothing to be said for loyalty to one's party? We rather prize that, though I appreciate that our view is not shared by some Labour Members. I feel a keen sense of personal loyalty to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.

Mr. Clive Soley(Hammersmith, North) rose

Sir N. Fisher

I have given way several times and I shall not give way again.

For me there is a conflict between conscience and loyalty. In conscience, I would vote against the White Paper with enthusiasm. In loyalty, I shall go into the Government Lobby, albeit with a heavy heart. My only consolation is that Mr. Blunt said on television that he had put conscience before loyalty. Perhaps, therefore, I may not be altogether wrong in putting loyalty before conscience.

6.8 pm

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)

There is so much that I detest in the White Paper that it would take me too long to go through it in detail. I shall therefore address myself precisely to the arguments of the hon. Member for Surbiton (Sir N. Fisher) and his hon. Friends, because they alone can save the Government from taking the rash step of implementing the proposals in the White Paper.

The hon. Member for Surbiton said that he owes a loyalty to his party which must transcend what he concedes is an abuse of his conscience in supporting the proposals. If the proposals do not go through, the Government will have escaped from a hook on which they do not want to be but on which they hung themselves when in Opposition, when they failed to understand the reality of immigration control and the pattern of immigration into this country.

The case that the Home Secretary has used to justify the proposals is that there must be some reduction in the rate of immigration. He has proposed a change that will reduce immigration by between 2,000 and 3,000. If he had wanted to do so, he could have reduced immigration by 4,000 by abolishing one simple rule—the grandpa trial rule which allows Commonwealth citizens who have a grandparent born in this country to come here.

Four thousand people came in last year by that route alone, and all were entitled to come to work. They were primary immigrants. That is far more than the estimated 2,000 to 3,000 mentioned by the Minister, because half of them are elderly relatives who would not come here to work. Only half would be black fiances. Therefore, when we talk about numbers the fact is that there are better ways of reducing the numbers. The only difficulty is that the numbers that would be reduced would be white and not black. The hon. Member for Surbiton should consider that matter in determining whether it is right to go down this path.

Of the 3,000 or 4,000 who will be caused distress by these changes, half will be fiances from the Indian subcontinent. At the moment, 5,000 people from the Indian sub-continent are in the queue, mainly in Islamabad and Delhi. In both cases the waiting time for interviews is about two years. The Home Secretary has agreed that people will be considered under the old rules provided that they submitted their application before the introduction of the White Paper. All 5,000 will, therefore, have to be considered under the old rules, although there will be no appeal under those rules. In those circumstances, it will be two years before even half of the 2,000 to 3,000 become a reality. In that time we shall have had a decision of the European Commission on Human Rights. That is beyond peradventure.

So many people are queueing up to go to the European Commission that it will be difficult to get on to that queue, but what is certain is that there will be a hearing and that it will be adverse to the British Government. I say that with a degree of confidence, because when the hon. Member for Surbiton and I voted against the 1968 Act we did so on grounds of morality and legality. That matter was taken to the European Commission on Human Rights by a number of applicants. A decision was made by the Commission during my time as a Minister. A decision of the Commission is provisional. It allows the Government to decide whether to accept it or to appeal against it either to the Council of Ministers or to the European Court. We decided that it was better to go to the Council of Ministers because that would take some time, during which the number of Asians waiting in the queue would be reduced to minimal figures since the voucher scheme had been enlarged. Indeed, that is what happened.

In 1977 European Ministers did not say that the Commission was wrong. They said that the grievance that had been raised by the Asians had been ended by the time that they came to decide. In its provisional ruling, which hon. Members will have seen, because the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has released it, the Commission considered a particular application by three Asian husbands to join their wives in this country. Despite the fact that the provision that obtained between 1969 and 1974 was wider than, but similar to, the provision in these rules, the Commission said that it was contrary to article 14 of the convention and that it was illegal.

Since this Government, like the previous Government, accept the overall authority of the Commission, it means that we would have to change the law or withdraw from our adherence to the convention. The Government have not disclosed their legal advice on this issue. I asked a question in this regard yesterday but received an evasive answer. If this White Paper were a Bill and we were going into Committee, we would have the right to call the Attorney-General to give us the advice that he has tendered to the Government on this matter.

Does the hon. Member for Surbiton still think it right to support the Government on a proposal which, first, is unlikely to attain the benefits that the Government want and, secondly, is in violation of the convention and is likely to be deemed to be illegal, as a result of which it will never have a practical effect? Before it can have a practical effect, the Commission will have ruled against it. Surely it is better for the hon. Gentleman to get the Government off the hook by making it impossible for them to go ahead tonight.

Sir Nigel Fisher rose

Mr. Lyon

I shall give way in a moment. It is true that this issue is only one of a great many contained in the document. There are some good ones, but almost all the changes are bad. The fact is that if we do not pass these rules all that will happen is that the existing rules will continue in force. If the Government want to change their mind, do a proper analysis of the rules and come forward with good rules, they can table them at any time. No one will object to an improvement in the rules.

Sir Nigel Fisher

The hon. Gentleman is assuming that we are in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, but that is not definitely and positively the case. Some hon. Members, including myself, have asked for advice on this matter, but it cannot be assumed that we are in breach of the convention. If so, why were we not previously in breach of it? Why have we never been criticised previously?

Mr. Lyon

I told the hon. Gentleman that there has been only one case that has raised the issue, and that case went against us. It raised the specific issue in relation to fiances that is contained in the change of rules. There is a ruling of the Commission. If the Attorney-General came here today, he would have to say that that ruling would he binding upon the Commission in the future. In those circumstances, the decision has been made. I can well understand that the hon. Gentleman would not want to accept my advice, but if he does not believe me why does he not press for the Attorney-General to come here this evening, before we vote, to say whether or not Conservative Members will be voting for something that will be vitiated within two years by a convention to which we are signatories and which we accept as binding? In those circumstances, Conservative Members will not embarrass the Government. They will get them off the hook.

In addition, the question of parents and grandparents is now to be dealt with under the "distressed relatives rule". I have asked a number of organisations that have been concerned with this matter for many years how many cases they have ever heard of in which a New Commonwealth immigrant came in under the distressed relatives rule. I was a Minister for two years and I dealt with about 30,000 cases myself, but during that time I cannot recollect one case that got through the net of the distressed relatives rule because, for the reason indicated by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor), it is so tight. If one has to be dependent upon a person here, it means that the person here has been sending money. Any money that is sent immediately raises one's standard of living above the standard of living of those around.

The only way in which such people can come in is by the Minister exercising his discretion outside the rules in order to get them in. That is the way in which I got them in. But it is impossible to get them in under the rules. Indeed, the tribunal that deals with appeals against the decisions of the Minister has on three occasions ruled that it is impossible to define a circumstance that would come within the rules and that the rules ought to be changed so that they are clearer about what is intended by the phrase "compassionate circumstances".

Mr. William Wilson (Coventry, South-East)

My hon. Friend probably realises that the practical implementation of the rules before the adjudicators and the tribunal accounts for as much experience as any hon. Member may possess. He was perfectly right to describe the difficulty of succeeding in relation to a distressed or dependent relative. I can tell him quite frankly that it is virtually impossible to succeed. The effect of the change in regard to parents and dependent relatives virtually means that parents will not be admitted.

Mr. Lyon

I agree. The tragedy is that that applies to elderly black relatives but not to elderly white relatives, because to send money to the United States does not raise the standard of living of a relative above the general standard in that country. So white parents can be brought in, but not black parents. Under the exist- ing rules, relatives can be brought in only if they are over 65, are dependants and can be wholly maintained by the person bringing them to this country. So there would be no charge on the social services for bringing such relatives here. The result is that an old person in declining years is able to live happily with his family. Why should that not happen?

I would change the rule concerning parents and distressed relatives. I fought for two years to do so. I wanted to improve the possibility of bringing elderly relatives to this country. It is only right that a son or daughter who wants to look after his or her parents during their declining years, and who has the ressources, should be allowed to do so. It is monstrous that we should cause distress to 2,000 families simply because we want to reduce the number of coloured immigrants. The desire to do that is based on one reason—namely, that Members of the Conservative Party want to pander to the race prejudice of a limited minority.

The real reason for the proposed changes in the rules has long since passed. The Home Secretary's speech was a voice from the past. We had this argument between 1976 and 1978. It was put with deep conviction by a number of interested bodies. In 1978 the Select Committee produced a report that was totally condemned by everyone who was in favour of good relations. The outcome of that debate was that the Churches, the newspapers and many people who had not taken part in the debate previously suddenly expressed their views. That report changed the climate of opinion.

At present there is no support in this country for the kind of changes that the Government propose to make. They did not win the Government one vote at the general election. There was no major change in the feelings of the white population on the issue in any of the constituencies represented by Conservative Members. What the Government achieved was the alienation of the black vote. Even the West Indians voted for Labour in the general election, and they have not done that for a long time. The truth is that the West Indians who voted at the last election recognised not necessarily that they would be personally affected but that the proposals of the Conservative Party discriminated against people because they were black, and only because they were black. That completely undermines any hope of harmonious race relations.

Under the Government's proposals, a black citizen born in this country will not be able to marry according to custom or culture in the way that a white person born in this country can. Someone who was not born here but who is a patrial citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies because he has been here for five years and taken out citizenship will not be treated the same as a white citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies.

That dilemma will have to be written into the new change in our citizenship law that will take place next year. If we differentiate between one citizen and another, we shall either have to change that when the nationality law is enacted or deal with the matter now. Hon. Members are the only people who can prevent this change by voting with us tonight. I appeal to hon. Members to stop the Government from making fools of themselves, because within two years they will have to retract what is decided here today.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) must have forgotten his promise to me. I must tell the House again that if hon Members do not restrict themselves to speeches of 10 minutes or less, many who have constituency issues to raise will not be able to take part in the debate.

6.24 pm
Mr. Ronald Bell (Beaconsfield)

I shall be brief and, therefore, I shall leave unsaid what I have said in the House many times.

I suppose that the connection between politics and humbug is too old and well established to be seriously challenged, but I believe that there is more humbug in the approach to this subject than to any other subject. First, how can we possibly operate a selection process, or a barrier of any kind to immigration, without some form of discrimination? The very process implies discrimination and it is sheer dishonesty to pretend otherwise.

Secondly, the purpose of limiting immigration is not, or should not be, the improvement of race relations. Again, that is the kind of facile hypocrisy that too easily finds its way into hon. Members' speeches. We all know why we want to limit immigration. It is because we do not want to see too rapid or too great a change in the population of our country. I have said many times that some movement across the frontiers of geography and history is not only permissible but desirable. It can enrich a community. However, too rapid and too great a movement damages a community and destroys its sense of identity.

Therefore, I am opposed to immigration because of what the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) called the numbers game. I did not enter public life because I was bothered about the immigration of coloured people. Such a concept did not exist to any material degree in those days. But when the numbers increased in the late 1950s and early 1960s, any person who was not worried about it was neglecting his duty.

It is no good the right hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel) saying that he was not here at the time. The Liberal Party voted against the legislation in 1962, as did the Labour Party. Some of my hon. Friends opposed that legislation. My hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Sir N. Fisher) frankly admitted that he was wrong about that. The Liberal Party leader of the time said that the Bill was the most disgraceful that had ever been introduced into the British Parliament and that every British subject in the world—there were 600 million of them—had as much right to come and live in Britain as any of us. One cannot get sillier than that.

The astonishing thing is that all those people, the Labour Party, the Liberal Party and others, having been so utterly wrong about that—they all confess that now—have not lost their confidence in their own judgment by one iota. They are still absolutely certain that their judgment on each issue as it arises is just as infallible as it was in 1962.

I have a certain sympathy with the Home Secretary. Here he is being battered and abused for not doing what people such as I want him to do. He is not actually doing anything. I suppose the reduction of immigrants will be about 1,500 to 2,000. The right hon. Member for Leeds, South said that all this immigration was past history. Is it? There will be more than 40,000 immigrants from the New Commonwealth alone this year. All those who overstay or who are illegal entrants must be added to that number.

I listened with interest to what my right hon. Friend had to say about the severity with which those who overstay would be scrutinised. I have heard that so often previously. Sir Frank Soskice, when he was Home Secretary, was worried about that. He published a White Paper about it in which he set out his anxieties and assessments. But it was such a good White Paper that he became Lord Stow Hill in a couple of months, because the Labour Party was outraged.

The number of people who overstay continues decade after decade. We must make no mistake about that. Year after year more than 50,000 new immigrants enter this country and will continue to do so until we do something far more effective than is to be found in the White Paper. It could be asked by some "What does it matter?" The hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) will certainly say "Are we not all as good as one another?" Why not have as many tropical people as we can? That is what we are talking about. We are talking about New Commonwealth immigrants. We all know that. I have never pretended anything else.

I think that the answer is to be found in the numbers game. If it is true—and I do not believe it—that the number of Commonwealth immigrants and their descendants in this country formed only 3½ per cent. of the population in 1976, according to the same statistics they accounted for 8 per cent. of the births in England and Wales. Either there are far more here than is admitted, or they are multiplying at double the rate of everyone else. When one localises these figures, one comes up with the astonishing result that about one-quarter of the births in the whole of greater London are coloured.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

Does it matter?

Mr. Bell

The hon. Member may say that it does not matter. I say that something like that in a period of only 20 years certainly matters. In Westminster, 54 per cent. of the births are to mothers who were not born in any part of the United Kingdom. Only about 18 per cent. of these are coloured. Therefore, we are not talking only about coloured immigration. We are talking about immigration—[An HON. MEMBER: "From the EEC as well."] That is true, but no hon. Member can suggest that I am a supporter of the EEC. The totality of immigration must be looked at and we must ask ourselves whether the rate and magnitude of the change are more than the community can stand.

Mr. Soley

The hon. and learned Member's argument appears to be that our society is changing too rapidly. Is he suggesting that those born here are not brought up to be British, or is he suggesting that there is something genetically different about them?

Mr. Bell

Of course there is something genetically different about them. One gets one's genes from one's parents, not one's place of birth. This is a preposterous illusion nurtured by many Labour Members who believe that where one is born decides what one is—in other words, a kitten born in a kipper box is a kipper. That is too ridiculous for words. All these matters are psychological.

A slow change is a beneficial change, but the sort of change that we have seen in the last 18 years is cataclysmic. In London that rate of change cannot be tolerated if people are to continue to feel a sense of history and destiny.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

That is nonsense.

Mr. Bell

The hon. Member for York says that that is nonsense, but I do not think that he has much sense of either destiny or history. Those who are not proud of their ancestors will not be proud of posterity.

The White Paper is well-intentioned and the Home Secretary has defended it with his customary vigour. However, the fact is that it will do nothing to stop the rate of change in the population of this country. Much more must be done. We need action involving legislation. That legislation must involve dependants, and the East African traders. It must also bring into significant operation the provisions of the 1971 Act on the assisted repatriation of those already here.

6.34 pm
Mr. David Ennals (Norwich, North)

I shall be very brief because a lot of hon. Members wish to speak. Also, I have a bad throat, so the longer I speak the less audible I shall be.

I hope that the Home Secretary will have noted the contributions from the two speakers from his own Benches. The hon. Member for Surbiton (Sir N. Fisher) made it absolutely clear that he was totally opposed to the White Paper. I congratulate him on having the courage to say so, but I regret his lack of courage in not joining us in the Division Lobby.

The hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell) thinks that the White Paper is no good for him because it does not go far enough. Actually, we must be thankful for small mercies. In the Conservative manifesto there were a number of proposals, most of which have been swept under the carpet. I hope that the Home Secretary will listen to the debate and then put this White Paper under the carpet in the same way.

I was amazed and distressed by the Home Secretary's speech. He spoke as if he had no personal knowledge at all of the lives and problems of the minority groups in this country. He spoke as if he had no understanding of their culture, their worries, uncertainties and insecurities. Even in that sense, the modest but despicable proposals in the White Paper will do great harm to race relations in Britain. That is why I want to see no more of this document, except for one or two small things that are welcome. For example, I welcome the greater recognition of the United Kingdom's responsibilities as a signatory to the United Nations convention and protocol on the status of refugees. But what makes the White Paper so objectionable is its discriminatory clauses—discrimination on the grounds of sex, race and religion.

It is interesting to see this quotation from the draft rules: Immigration officers will carry out their duties without regard to the race, colour or religion of people seeking to enter the United Kingdom. Suppose that an immigration officer did that. How could he, when an au pair girl may only come from Western Europe and dependent relatives from Asia will be excluded if they have a distant relative in their own country or they have an exceptionally low standard of living? How can he, when marriages which have been arranged in strict conformity with the customs of the Sikhs and Hindus are ruled out in the rules before us? This shows the Home Secretary's absolute failure to understand a principle which, while not practised by most people in this country, is practised by Hindus and Sikhs and is something in which they believe. It would be difficult to prove them wrong.

Sir Raymond Gower(Barry) rose

Mr. Ennals

The hon. Member will forgive me if I do not give way, but time is short and many others wish to speak.

On the question of arranged marriages, I was interested to receive representations from the Indian Workers' Association The association said: The Home Secretary should honour his election pledge to the Asian voters that he would 'take into consideration the historic, social and religious dictates' of the Asian community. That was an election pledge. The home Secretary should think about that. I also saw a resolution adopted by the Anglo-Asian Conservative Society. I did not realise there was such a society, but apparently there is, and it passed a resolution saying: The Anglo-Asian Conservative Society urges the Government to respect the traditions and values of the ethnic minority community, as frequently acknowledged by our Party in the past. I turn to a number of points about the rules relating to refugees. I welcome the recognition given in the White Paper to the status of refugees. However, I believe that more should be done in terms of the rules that are written out. In the proposed revised rules, discretion is still given to immigration officers to decide when cases shall be referred. The immigration officer has to make a judgment when a person arrives whether he is claiming asylum and is seeking to be regarded as a refugee.

No obligation is placed on immigration officers to consult the London representatives of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees or the United Kingdom Immigrants Advisory Service. No machinery has been set up for determining the status of the person claiming to be a refugee. No reference has been made to the apply for visas through British missions overseas.

I make these points about refugees partly because I have a declared interest. I am the chairman of the council of the Ockenden Venture and a member of the standing conference on refugees. We have now, perhaps, a bigger problem. More refugees are being forced to move from one country to another than at any time in our history. Therefore, it is important, if we are to have new rules at all, that we get them right. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will proceed only with that part of the rules.

We know generally how the vote will go at the end of this debate, though we do not know exactly. I hope that the Home Secretary will weigh up the arguments and realise that this White Paper is not something of which he should be proud. I do not believe that he is proud of it. I do not think that he wanted to put these proposals forward. I believe that he was obliged to do so by his Cabinet colleagues and by the Prime Minister.

One of my hon. Friends said that no votes were at stake in this issue. I disagree. Some votes were at stake in the general election, but the general election is over. We should now be deciding not whether we commit ourselves to the fulfilment of stupid pledges but whether we do the right thing about race relations in Britain. No part of this country and no organisation—except the extreme Right and the hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield—which believes in better race relations will want to see this White Paper become the new rules. I plead with the right hon. Gentleman to think again.

6.42 pm
Mr. Stephen Dorrell (Loughborough)

I shall briefly explain why I find it impossible to support the Government tonight, though I do so with great sadness. I am sad that the need to make this speech or take such action has arisen. I feel particularly sad that the Minister making the proposals that I cannot support is my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. He has been an inspiration to my political career until today. He was of great help in the winning of the Loughborough constituency and was particularly successful in attracting the sup- port of the Asian community there. No one has a longer record than my right hon. Friend as a distinguished servant of my party or a more consistent record as the friend of the underdog and the underprivileged in our society. It is not without considerable soul-searching, therefore, that I decided that I could not support his proposals.

I have never held myself up to be an expert in Home Office affairs. I came to this House from industry, and my primary interest in politics is economics, not home affairs. I have not taken a consistent or long-term interest in immigration statistics. That perhaps enables me to approach this subject from a slightly different viewpoint from that advocated by my right hon. Friend and by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell).

This matter concerns the rights of individuals, not the numbers game. The decision to be made as a result of this White Paper has to do with the rights of existing British citizens. It has very little to do with the number of people coming into this country. The particular proposal that I find it impossible to support concerns husbands and fiances. I shall trace the history of the development of this issue. Several people have said that it was part of our manifesto commitment. They are wrong. It was not. We stated in the manifesto that no British woman should be able to bring her husband or finance into this country. There was an outcry at that—not least from myself and my white constituents. That justifiable outcry forced the Government to reconsider and restrict that limitation to a smaller group of people.

There was a further outcry, and the Home Secretary has now announced that the group will be further restricted. The restriction imposed on the group to which these limitations apply does not meet the basic principle. It is not the definition of the group that is wrong. What is wrong is the principle of creating a group of female citizens who will not be able to bring their husbands into this country.

Some of my hon. Friends may well ask about the rights of the majority. They may ask why the majority should not be entitled to impose what they think are reasonable rules on the minority. The answer to that is that the health, or lack of it, of a democracy is judged largely by the effectiveness with which it defends minority rights. The reason why I find these proposals difficult to accept is that they use the majority to steamroller the minority.

There is, perhaps, no clearer illustration of that than the development of the issue through the restriction of the groups to whom the proposals will apply. Perhaps that is the reason why spokesmen for all the major Churches, including the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church, the Presbyterians, the Methodists and the Chief Rabbi, issued a joint statement today which rejects the proposals which the Government are asking the House to approve. The Churches call upon the Government to allow a free vote this evening.

I regard the debate as being about human rights and not primarily as a race relations issue. That approach does, to a degree, evade the issue, because while the debate is about human rights it does affect race relations. That effect is clearly directed towards recent immigrant arrivals. They are the people at whom we are aiming—both white and coloured—and that makes the situation worse.

The Home Secretary said that Government policy was designed to remove from recent immigrants the immigrant label and to enable them to take their place as fully fledged equal citizens before the law. I hope devoutly that that will remain part of Government policy. The effect of this proposal, however, will be to pin the immigrant label permanently on to those individuals who have arrived here during the last few years. It will set them apart and afford them different rights from the rest of us. That must have an effect on race relations, although, ironically, the majority of people, even in the restricted class that we are discussing, are white.

The proposals will apply to the 300,000 people who have arrived in this country from Southern Ireland—in similar circumstances to coloured immigrants. Sadly, they will also apply to the families of the 100,000 Jews who arrived as refugees from Hitler's Germany in the 1930s. Despite the fact that the proposals apply to whites as well as coloureds—the majority of them will be white—they cannot avoid having an effect on race relations.

That effect will be detrimental in those communities which I believe are making a major, and growing, contribution to our society. I have observed those communities as a Member of this House and also, before coming here, as a business man. I speak of the contribution made by Asian small businesses to employment and job prospects in many of our inner cities. We have all seen the contribution they make to London Transport, to the National Health Service, and so on. What have those people done to deserve second-class citizenship status? They are here and they are citizens.

Before I came to the House I was an export salesman. When I travelled in Holland and West Germany, I was often told by customers that they admired the way in which we treated our large immigrant population. They said "Not for you the squalid conditions in which the Gastarbeiter lived in German cities. Not for you the hijacking of trains and the taking of hostages in town halls which typifies the Dutch treatment of Moluccans. You take them into your society and give them equal status." I hold that principle very dear indeed. There is no argument about the need for immigration control. The argument is simply about the indivisibility of citizenship. I could not possibly support any desertion from that principle.

6.51 pm
Miss Sheila Wright (Birmingham, Handsworth)

I should have had more respect for the Government and the Home Secretary in particular—who does not usually have the dyed-in-the-wool racialist attitude of some of his hon. Friends—if they had come to the House and said outright that they do not like the numbers of black and brown faces in our community and that they will do everything that they can to prevent even a small additional number of them from coming here. I should have had more respect for them if they had said honestly that they had devised further ways to penalise those who are already here and who are, theoretically and in law, British citizens. Let us make no bones about it—this is a racialist proposal. Only secondarily is it a sexist issue.

I do not intend to deal at length with the question of husbands and finances, because that has been well covered. The case against the hypocrisy involved has been made not only by my hon. Friends but by many Government Members. It has been made clear that there is no evidence of a large increase in primary immigration at this time. Neither Ministers nor hon. Members who support the White Paper have explained why existing machinery cannot be used to prevent abuse.

The Government have attempted to buy off Back Bench revolt by altering some of their proposals for women who were born abroad when their parents were abroad on Government or other business. They have attempted to buy off the revolt against proposals which involve white women. I have news for the Home Secretary. He has not succeeded. I know well one person at least who was born abroad and whose father, grandfather and Dutch great grandfather were born abroad. She is a British citizen, but I am assured by a lawyer that if she were to try to bring in a foreign husband she would be caught by the regulations. I am talking of myself, and it is fortunate in those circumstances that I am already reasonably happily married and unlikely to want to bring in anybody from abroad.

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Grantham)

I sympathise with what the hon. Lady says, but she misunderstood the concession made by the Home Secretary. The Home Secretary said that protection would be extended to a British girl if one of her parents was born in the United Kingdom.

Miss Wright

Neither my parents nor my grandparents were born in this country, so the rule would still apply to me, although I am legally allowed to be a Member of the House.

I am not really bothered about the few white faces which will be caught by the legislation. I am far more bothered that the United Kingdom Parliament will probably support legislation which clearly is aimed at a minority of British citizens whose faces are black or who are women. That is the principle which we are discussing, as the hon. Member for Lough-borough (Mr. Dorrell) so bravely said.

I am also extremely worried about the provisions for elderly parents. I do not know how many hon. Members have had anything to do with the Indian subcontinent. I spent the first 20 years of my life in India. Many of my friends and constituents come from various parts of India. In many Asian families there is a greater feeling of personal responsibility for the elderly than there is in families here. It is appalling that the House should propose regulations which will make it more difficult for British citizens with brown or black faces to take on responsibility for their elderly parents when they become most in need of care.

Many of those who will be affected by this rule are already sending money abroad for their parents. The net result of that care and responsibility over the last 10 to 15 years is that those parents will be excluded from coming to join their children because those children have, by sacrifices, raised the living standards of their parents above the average low standards of the country from which they come.

That proposal comes from a party which has made great play of the need for personal responsibility and supporting the family. I hope that the Government will think again and alter the provisions so that elderly people may be cared for by their children. Such elderly people will not produce more children. They do not have dependants that they can bring into this country. It will be a tragedy if the House agrees that it is right so to alter the laws of the country that children are prevented from supporting their parents and that children are prevented from being with their elderly parents.

7 pm

Mr. Tim Brinton (Gravesend)

I have listened with close attention to every speech today, and particularly to the fluent arguments put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Mr. Dorrell). I rise with a heavy heart because it is a difficult decision for any Member to make as to which way to vote this evening. However, my heart and my head tell me that I must support the Government tonight, and that I shall do.

My constituency has a total of approximately 7,000 immigrants, mainly Sikhs. I am in close touch with them, and I have listened carefully to their views on the White Paper. There is one big stumbling block. It is that, sadly, the Government could not keep to what they said they would do in their manifesto. Immigrants in Gravesend have said that if only the Government had stuck to their guns they would not have been seen to be leaning on us. That makes my heart heavy.

I am not surprised, but I am saddened by some of the Opposition arguments. They were expected. I cannot understand how Labour Members feel—I am sure sincerely—that the right way to sort out our race relations problems is to allow matters to drift. If there was one item of proof during the general election—here I answer the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon)—it was my majority in a marginal seat. I know, because I was told by them, that many immigrants voted for me because I supported the Conservative Party's manifesto. They know, as the vast majority of people know, that we have now to take measures to protect the immigrants who are already legally here. That is the vital issue, and that is why I shall support the Government tonight. Although I am dissatisfied with the way in which they have changed things, I look to them to put matters right in the next few years.

I do not accept the rumours that the register should be put under the carpet and forgotten about. The register was a vital part of discovering the dimensions of the problem. How many dependants are waiting to come into Britain? We do not know that accurately. There should be a fair quota system, across the board, across the world, so that there will be no accusation of racial prejudice.

I give the Government the benefit of the doubt tonight, and I shall vote with them. But may they hold to their other pledges as time goes by.

7.4 pm

Mr. Eric Deakins (Waltham Forest)

The new rules are to be deplored because they are an insult to women in general and to Asian women in particular. Ministers should be ashamed of themselves.

The rules should be rejected for three reasons. The first concerns the attack which is implicit—almost explicit—on the Asian custom of arranged marriages, which are a major part of the culture of a minority people. The Government are attacking a basic part of their culture. That is immoral and unethical. In addition, it is impractical, because the custom of arranged marriages will die out in time as the younger generation adapts to new ways.

The second reason why I oppose the new rules is that they are a vicious attack on widowed and elderly persons overseas who will be excluded from entry into Britain. That attack hits at the concept of the wider family—a concept whereby the Asians and other minorities could teach the rest of us a great deal about family care and kinship. In addition, the attack goes against the concept which is being developed—certainly in the DHSS and other Government Departments—that young people should look after their parents more and not leave it to local authorities and the State to look after them when they are too old to look after themselves. The Government are speaking with two different voices. The new rules will do them no service.

Thirdly, the new rules are a violation of articles 3, 8, and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Under article 3 they submit a section of our population to degrading treatment. Under article 8 they contain a lack of respect for family life, and under article 14 they discriminate on grounds of sex, race and colour.

I put three questions, which are linked, to the Minister, which I hope he will answer when he replies, since it is obvious that a Law Officer will not be present for the vote tonight. Were the Law Officers consulted on the new rules in relation to the European convention? If so, what was their opinion? If they were not consulted, is the House to assume that the Law Officers are satisfied that there is no breach in the rules of the United Kingdom obligation under the European convention?

The rules are so discriminatory that they are bound to undermine good community relations. They pander to that most irrational of emotions—a vague feeling that something has to be done. That is immoral and impractical and the main reason why they should be rejected tonight.

7.8 pm

Mr. Cyril D. Townsend (Bexleyheath)

I fully support the Government's general plan to reduce immigration into Britain. That is no doubt in the interest of the coloured population living in Britain. For a number of reasons, including our poor economic performance and the sustained high unemployment of recent years, there has been a new wave of anxiety over immigration, which the Opposition should recognise.

Certain actions taken by the previous Labour Government had the effect of increasing Commonwealth immigration. The Labour Party conference called for the repeal of the 1968 and 1971 Immigration Acts. Improved community relations depend to a large extent upon demonstrating to our constituents, including immigrant constituents, that future immigration will be kept to a minimum and that it will be efficiently and fairly handled.

I cannot support the Government's plans for husbands and male finances. Therefore, I shall not vote with the Government tonight. I listened with respect to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Sir N. Fisher). He said that he would put loyalty above conscience. He is a man with remarkable courage and a great political record, but I say to him, with due respect, that that is intellectually indefensible.

Hon. Members on both sides of the House are faced with the dilemma of naturally supporting their party colleagues or associations. If we ever reach the point where we pass a proposal, however muddled, out of loyalty, the House will be in danger of falling into disrepute. I do not doubt that there is public anxiety over the abuse of traditional arranged marriages as a means of bypassing immigration controls, but I do not believe that the Cabinet should have agreed to these proposals being put before the House. I am totally convinced that there is an alternative way forward. Why should not the onus be on the individual concerned, male or female, to prove to the immigration officials that he or she has a genuine case?

I sympathise with the predicament of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. Looking back, I think that perhaps he and I realise that we would have done better to have kept to the firm ground marked out by the all-party Select Committee rather than move on to this new and untenable ground which the Select Committee skilfully avoided. I do not believe that the final result will be worth the price that we will be asked to pay. We shall lose the support of many people whom we have recently won over, and their support will be crucial in the political and economic battles that lie ahead.

All this is being done to reduce a small and dwindling category. We are talking not about hundreds of thousands but about hundreds. The Home Secretary's new concession is of major importance and must be recognised as such. It removes some of the problems, but it makes the final result even less worth the price.

I have three main objections to the proposals. First, what are a Conservative Government doing passing a regulation which, on the face of it—I am no lawyer—is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights? The Conservative Party is the party of law and order. Its members believe in carrying out Britain's international obligations. We had a field day in Opposition watching the Labour Government being censored by the courts. Here we are inviting international legal censorship. Secondly, a regulation that requires so many exceptions and extensive discretion goes against the basic principle of our parliamentary democracy. It should not be supported by Back Benchers.

For a moment, I ask hon. Members to leave aside the heated subject of immigration and to consider parliamentary procedure. Flexibility and political discretion are always desirable, but we are being stretched far beyond the grounds of reason and tradition. The exceptions far outnumber those covered by the rules, and that cannot be right. Why should a small number of law-abiding citizens have to wait to be lifted out of their predicament by the slow wheels of bureaucracy and a liberal and tolerant Home Secretary at some future date? What have they done to merit such a penalty?

My third objection is that the proposed regulations openly and blatantly discriminate against women. Those who vote for the regulations have the assurance of no less a person than my right hon. Friend that they will be voting to discriminate against women. That is not in dispute. That has been stated by my right hon. Friend. Their vote will be for ever marked on the pages of Hansard. It will form part of their political record to defend in their constituencies.

I remind my right hon. Friends of our campaign guide. It states: Acts of discrimination against women have remained, until very recently, widespread in our society. Conservatives regard this attitude towards women as quite unacceptable and have taken extensive and vigorous action to change the law so that women are treated as equal citizens in our society. Some seven months later we are changing back the law in an important area.

Long after the esoteric economic debates in the House have been forgotten, the 1970s will be remembered for the new opportunities given to women in Britain. We have often shown the way to the rest of the world. Surely 1979 is a singularly inappropriate year in which to seek to lower the status of women in our society. It is exactly because only a tiny number will be involved that we should all be especially cautious, for one of our duties is to protect minorities from the excesses of majorities, to lift up the weak and not to ride over them with the strong.

Many foreign-born British women were once refugees from the tyranny of Hitler's Germany and from Hungary and Vietnam. We are being asked to withdraw certain rights given to British women when these rights will still be granted to women in every other member State of the EEC. In due course they will be given to women in Greece, Spain and Portugal.

I ask my right hon. Friend how I can explain to the women in Bexley that tonight I agreed that they should have fewer rights than those in Bonn, Brussels and Boulogne, or, for that matter, Dublin. I think that he must accept that if I were to support the Government tonight I should be able to give them no satisfactory answer. The rights that we are talking about vitally affect their homes, their loved ones and their very lives.

At this eleventh hour I appeal to my right hon. Friend, who has long commanded the respect of both sides of the House, to think again about these proposals. They have caused deep concern on the Government Benches. I ask him to withdraw them for further and detailed consideration. They have racial undertones and they go against the one-nation tradition that I know he and I both cherish. In the long run, I believe that they will be damaging to the fortunes of our party and our Government, and above all our country.

7.15 pm
Mr George Morton (Manchester, Moss Side)

In presenting the proposed changes in the rules, the Government have overreacted to the obsession of some of their supporters. They had a duty to try to inform the British people of some of the facts of immigration. It was not part of their duty to exploit misconception and encourage prejudice. It is much to the credit of Conservative Members such as the hon. Members for Loughborough (Mr. Dorrell) and Bexleyheath (Mr. Townsend) that they have presented so well the case that I wish to advance.

Immigration numbers have been falling and are now quite small. In presenting their argument tonight, the Government must have understood that the reduction in numbers that they will achieve by their mean restrictions will be quite small. However, the effect of the reductions will be considerable in personal terms.

Some concessions have been made, but they are not enough. I turn my attention to the group on which most attention has been focused—namely, British women who married foreign men. The objections to the proposals are right. There is a pretence that the proposals are not biased racially. However, a case presented itself to me last week of a woman in my constituency who was born in India. Her family had been born in India. The family has a long tradition of service in the Army and the Church in India. This lady is now divorced. She is living in Britain with her children. She may not take her children out of this country. Were she to marry a foreigner, she would have to choose between her husband and her children.

From what we have been told by the Home Secretary, I am sure that the case I have outlined would receive special treatment because the lady has a white face. Why should a woman born in similar conditions of a family from India but of Indian parents and who came here when she was a child be denied the same consideration?

Rules 50 and 52 are specifically directed against arranged marriages. They have already been argued against. The Government fail to understand the difference between an arranged marriage and a marriage of convenience. There is the assumption that all arranged marriages are for the purpose of bringing a man into Britain. That is a gross distortion of the traditional system of marriage within Asian communities. The rules will cause problems for those who are trying to maintain their traditions and who may not wish to follow the Western practice of romantic choice.

More importantly, the arranged marriage has not shown an obvious lack of success when compared with the Western system of choice. On the contrary, it may be said that there is more stability and more family solidarity in the Asian system than in ours. That system may rely on a Victorian standard of propriety being more important than feelings. Surely that finds support among Conservatives. However, the custom is changing. We shall not see it working in the same way indefinitely. Already there is much more consultation of the partners. There is much more consultation throughout the family. Prospective partners are not persuaded to enter into marriages that they do not want.

I recognise that there are occasions when girls feel torn between the pressure of the society in which they have lived at school and the pressure of the family. In these cases they need to be supported in their efforts to decide what tradition they will follow. It is not right to use the immigration laws to force them into particular decisions. There is already adequate provision for dealing with those abuses that the Government make so much of. However, they find it difficult to provide much evidence of those abuses.

The Government's concern with numbers and not with people is shown in their treatment of elderly relatives. One would expect a party that claims such belief in family values to encourage people to provide homes for their aged parents, but the Government are preventing that as regards ageing parents from India or Pakistan.

It has already been said that the rule will require the parents to be dependent on their children and living below the general standard of living of the country. That will prove an effective barrier to anyone coming into Britain. The number of parents who want to come here is relatively small, as few old people want to leave the home that they have lived in all their lives in order to move to a foreign and cold country. Why should the Government make such an effort to keep out that small group of people and so break up those families? Those families have no intention of letting them become a charge on the State.

I was also worried about the general restriction on students and their dependants, because we in Britain have an important part to play in education. That ties in with other Government policies on overseas students. I sympathise with Home Office Ministers in the number of decisions that they have to make and the pressure upon them from hon. Members concerning particular cases. However, the only way to reduce that pressure is to make the principles behind those decisions clearer and fairer and to reduce the need for discretionary powers.

The proposed changes will make the rules less just. The demand for special consideration will increase because of the increased discretion given to the Secretary of State. I fear that the general attitude behind those changes is one that distrusts brown and black faces and looks for inconsistencies and misunderstandings that can be claimed as instances of deception. That attitude encourages ill-informed people to blame immigration for our economic problems. We need changes in the Immigration Rules, but they must be clear and just.

These proposals are unfair because they are selective on the basis of race and sex. They are not justified by the situation and will be damaging to community relations and to the image of the United Kingdom abroad.

7.22 pm
Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, West)

I am grateful for the fact that I have been called in such an important debate, as I have a large number of immigrants in my constituency. I support the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Mr. Brinton). In overturning a large Labour majority, when the number of immigrants in my constituency was greater than that majority, I proved that the Conservative Party has a great deal of support from the immigrant population in marginal seats.

So much legislation has gone through the House, and so many rules have been made over the years, that the real feelings of the indigenous English population have been totally ignored. Many English people have lived here for years, and their ancestors for many generations before that. I hope that this change of rules is merely the hors d'oeuvre before the main course of a register and quota system. I hope that this is only the start of many new rules.

Many thousands of people, particularly in the Midlands, are looking to the Conservative Government to make substantial changes in those rules and to allay the fears that have inevitably built up since many thousands of immigrants came into the country during the 1950s. Those fears are justified because whole areas of our urban environment have completely changed in character and culture and in their social personalities.

At a result of that large, and at times seemingly unending, influx of itinerant travellers, Britain has become the haven for many who seek new fields. The rules only scratch the surface of a dramatic change of character that has been suffered by our Midland towns. I speak for the oppressed majority—those who were born here, and their parents and grandparents before them. If the rules give them some preference over those who have recently settled, I applaud that. I hope that these rules precede many of a similar type.

I regret that at the moment the Government have not seen fit to introduce a register of dependants and a quota system. There was genuine alarm at the prospect of a large influx of settlers claiming their rights, possibly through some political decision made in their country of origin. They seek a refuge on our tiny island, which is already overcrowded. They seek refuge on an island where our social services are already overstretched, particularly in the present times of financial stringency and economic hardship.

While Britain must not be seen to be hard-hearted, we must be realistic. The possibility of another entry on the scale of that of the Ugandan Asians is present in people's minds. That does more to engender rumour and suspicion than anything else. There must be strong grounds for ensuring that we are aware of the exact extent of our commitments. If necessary, the rules will have to be changed to ensure a measured and controlled entry.

In our deliberations on immigration, we must never forget the feelings of the indigenous population—including those who have already settled here. These islands have been the home of the English, Scots, Welsh and Irish for many generations. Many have known no other domestic base and many have not travelled beyond these shores. However, there is still a great sense of national pride, a sense that this is our heritage by birthright, to be jealously guarded against violent change and intrusion.

Two world wars have been fought with equal ferocity and they have deepened that sense of patriotism that makes a man proud to be British. How often in recent years have we lamented our faults and failings whilst our European neighbours have prospered. It is against that background that we consider these new rules. There is nothing racist in the view that England is for the English, particularly when space is a diminishing commodity.

It is natural that people should view with alarm the prospect of further intrusions into their heritage. What other country in the world, with such limited resources, would welcome an addition to the consumers of the cake that has taken so long to bake? What other country willingly keeps its doors open to any jet-age traveller who happens to like the prospect of settling in the United Kingdom? People feel a threat to their very identity, and naturally they begin to rebel against that. That is the backcloth that we must preserve.

The finance rule was being abused as an easy form of entry. It was abused for financial gain by interested parties, and often against the wishes of those forced by religion to practise it. Visitors do overstay, and visas are ignored. The number of illegal immigrants is suspected to be alarmingly high. Can we blame a Government who have been elected with a clear manifesto commitment for attempting to correct at least some of the abuse? Can we blame the Government when we see both Labour and Liberal parties intent on opening further those doors which they opened before, to allow in virtually any traveller that knocks? Can we blame the Government for speaking for the majority, whose wishes are largely ignored against the fanatical panderings of the Left with their phoney consciences? The Government are taking measures that are fair to all.

I am bitterly disappointed that, if anything, the Government have reneged on their manifesto commitment. That commitment said that we would put an end to the concession for male finances. The proposal has been watered down and is now unnecessarily complicated. However, it must be supported on the basis that it is the forerunner of much to come. At last a Government have grasped the nettle and have recognised the facts. They should ignore all the scurrilous attempts—some, regrettably, from my hon. Friends—to cloud the issue with talk of racial and sexual discrimination, and discrimination against anyone who chooses to live here.

A wealth of legislation, highlighted by the creation of the Race Relations Board and the Commission for Racial Equality, as well as numerous other quango organisations, has been established to protect the interests of this tiny minority. I believe that such publicity has brought to them the glare of opinion against the best interests of the indigenous and the newly arrived population.

Further changes of rules must unashamedly contain distinctions that are protective of our indigenous population. Only by such actions will the Government keep faith with the opinions of the vast majority of the people of this country.

7.31 pm
Mr. Edward Lyons (Bradford, West)

A number of points are raised by the rules, including work permits. That subject is barely worth mentioning since 58 were issued in the first quarter of this year to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Whatever the Government do to reduce that number will be insignificant in effect.

There are two major points in the rules. One relates to male fiances and husbands and the other relates to aged dependants, with which I shall deal first. From India, Pakistan and Bangladesh fewer than 1,400 aged dependants were admitted for settlement in 1978. They were over child-bearing age. They will not do anything to breed. They will not work. They have a few more years of life left. They are not an immigration problem. They are not allowed in at present until their families here can prove that they can maintain and accommodate them reasonably.

The Government are moving in in a big way in order to reduce the figure of 1,400. They are doing so by saying that before these 70-year-olds and 80year-olds can come in to join their daughters and sons they must prove that the parents' standard of living is substantially below the general standard of living of their country, although that would be impossible because loving relatives here would send money. Furthermore, they must have no relatives in their own country. Because of the extended family system, they are bound to have such relatives.

The proposal is racist because in Australia or America the extended family system does not exist, and it is much more likely that someone there will have no relatives. Furthermore, the sort of contribution that relatives here could make to an aged parent in a country of that sort would not bring an impoverished person up to the average level. Therefore, the new rules in effect say that Britain will be humane to people from rich, white countries who can come here to live out the last five or ten years of their lives, but that persons from the Indian sub-continent cannot do so.

It is then worth considering the Helsinki agreement which hon. Members on both sides of the House have intensively supported. We have criticised countries such as the Soviet Union for not observing it. Britain has signed that agreement. This is what it says about elderly people: The participating States will deal in a positive and humanitarian spirit with the applications of persons who wish to be reunited with members of their family, with special attention being given to requests of an urgent character—such as requests submitted by persons who are ill or old. They will deal with applications in this field as expeditiously as possible. The Government say, incomplete derogation of their undertakings under the agreement, that they will no longer do that in relation to the co-signatories under that agreement, which include EEC countries and other countries such as Austria, Sweden, Cyprus and Malta. There is a complete derogation in these rules as they are now proposed from the undertaking to co-signatories.

It is not just a question of co-signatories. Britain insisted on this clause being inserted in the Helsinki agreement because it thought that that was an acceptable way for countries to behave. There is no reason why we should not use that standard of behaviour towards all countries, not just to co-signatories. In fact, we are not proposing to use it to anyone. That is a matter of shame.

The hon. Member for Luton, West (Mr. Carlisle) spoke grandly about immigration. What does this issue have to do with immigration? We are talking of only 1,400 elderly people coming in in a year, and they are supported by their families. They will not be allowed in unless they come from a rich country and unless they are white. That is shaming to this country and it makes people like me who are interested in human rights not know where to look.

I have returned from Namibia and Swaziland as a member of the all-party human rights group. I have been preaching human rights. The Russians will not let me into the Soviet Union. They have refused me entry four times because I want to see them carry out the rule of law under the Helsinki agreement. When I return here, I find that we are reneging on the Helsinki agreement.

Mr. Soley

I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend for referring to the Helsinki declaration, because I have been examining it, too. It seems to me that we are in breach of a number of its provisions. Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that we are also in breach in that when a marriage is contracted permanent residents can be transferred to a State in which either partner is normally resident?

Mr. Lyons

I was about to come to that point, because the Helsinki agreement, dealing with husbands and wives, states: The participating States will examine favourably and on the basis of humanitarian considerations requests for exit or entry permits from persons who have decided to marry a citizen from another participating State. We have put a gloss on that which will astound the other signatories to the agree- ment. We are no longer to consider favourably requests for entry permits from persons who have decided to marry a citizen from another participating State unless the person marrying her was born here or had a parent born here. There is nothing in the Helsinki agreement about that.

If an English girl marries an Austrian but neither she nor one of her parents was born here, even though she may be a United Kingdom citizen under the Helsinki agreement, she will be unable to bring her Austrian husband here to live. That is a complete derogation. The Helsinki agreement set out civilised standards of conduct to be applied by the participating countries. In order to prevent 2,000 people a year from coming here, we are saying that we shall not abide by that agreement. The Government would rather that Britain was regarded unfavourably internationally than honour their international undertakings and conform to a reasonable standard.

The present waiting time in Pakistan for male fiances and husbands is now two and a half years. The Government have quite rightly said that the people who are on that list will be exempt from these rules. These statistics will show no reduction in the numbers of male fiances or husbands from Pakistan until mid-1982. The waiting list in India is a little less than that. Furthermore, in the first quarter of 1979 no fiance was admitted from Bangladesh, which has a queue more than double the size of the queues in India and Pakistan taken together. Therefore, if the object of the rules is to cut immigration, they will have no effect in respect of Bangladesh.

Why, therefore, are the Government doing this? It is to appease their supporters who wanted to adopt an apparently racist stand. Their supporters must know that the measures they are proposing relate only to India and Pakistan. We see from the figures for the first quarter of 1979 that the highest number of male fiances allowed in amounted to four persons from Barbados or Jamaica. There was one from one country and three from the other in one quarter. That is about 12 to 16 persons a year. That is what we are talking about.

The Government want to be hypocritical. They do not want to say "We are aiming purely at India or Pakistan." They produce a whole paraphernalia of rules so as to disguise their real objective. In the present situation, the rules are obviously sexist, racist, meant to bluff Government supporters, and hypocritical. In the end they will bring no credit to those who vote for them. The Government are seeking to cash in on prejudice and determine, as a writer in The Sunday Times recently said, who will rise above the swamp. That is what we have here.

I am the last to criticise the work of the people in the administrative office at the Home Office. They are eternally courteous. They work until 9 o'clock at night. They are helpful when they can be. I have all praise for them. However, there is nothing in these rules which helps to solve the problem of delay, which is the major factor of irritation in this country. Nothing in these rules will make any appreciable effect on the delay. However, it is the delay at our stations abroad, the delay waiting for further inquiries to be made and the delay waiting for appeals which cause nearly all the trouble. Solicitors and Members of Parliament are creating a mass of paper work for the Home Office, which creates more in reply—all arising out of delay. Nothing in these rules will remove that delay. In my view, they are a disgrace.

7.41 pm
Mr. Peter Lloyd (Fareham)

I want to concentrate on just one line of thought in my remarks this evening. As we have heard from hon. Members on both sides, a principle that has generally been accepted in this House, in the Conservative Party manifesto and by public opinion at large is that all British citizens legally settled here have the same rights and obligations under the law. Nevertheless, the tensions inevitably produced by the inflow of a large culturally and racially distinct minority have put that principle under great pressure from contrasting directions.

For example, there are those who would ameliorate these effects by giving special opportunities to immigrants already here—positive discrimination, as it is euphemistically called. By contrast, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has, with equal logic, and I am sure equally hopeful intent, sought to prevent some of these effects ever arising by reducing the number of immigrants. I am solidly with him in that general purpose up to the point, as with the section on fiances in the White Paper, where the rights of a category of British citizen legally settled here are reduced in the process. That is why I am afraid that I cannot support the White Paper.

It is so easy to ignore the damage done by treating people unequally before the law, especially when the number affected is tiny. There is no doubt that the belief that the law, or public policy, has been adjusted in favour of coloured people has served to reinforce resentment among a troubled white majority. I believe that the same effect will be felt among the coloured minority as a result of that part of the White Paper.

However, the point is of much wider significance than that. What people—white, coloured and nowadays even female—need to feel is that the law, if nothing else, is exactly the same for everyone and that the rules that give it effect neither favour nor penalise any particular category. It is not that the law will not affect and will not bear differently on different groups and different individuals in their myriad different circumstances. What is wrong is to remove a right from a whole category just because it is abused by some. The Government's job is to deal directly with the abuse, especially as in numerical terms it is obviously very small indeed.

The only permanent anchor for all groups in a society, particularly where there is fear and antagonism, as there undoubtedly is over coloured immigration, although I do not want to exaggerate it, is the knowledge that, whatever else they may have to complain about, the law treats everyone with equality. That evenhandedness provides security and stability for the whole of society, and we undermine it at our peril. That belief has been eroded over the past few years because of a process of government by nudge, wink and special exception. The country looks to the Government to halt that process and not continue it.

Mr. Budgen

Surely the concept of equality under the law simply means that once the law has been passed it will be impartially administered. It does not have anything to say about what the law will be before it is passed.

Mr. Lloyd

I do not think that my hon. Friend is right. It is generally accepted that the law should apply without distinction across the board. It should not be adjusted so that it takes special note of a particular category when those in that category are directly affected not by the principle that lies behind that law, but by the particular place that they come from or who they actually are.

Mr. Budgen

How would my hon. Friend apply that principle to, say, unequal taxation under income tax laws?

Mr. Jim Marshall

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We are dealing with the immigration debate this evening and not a pedantic point about the application of law.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)

I am sure that that point was hoisted in by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Lloyd

As to the income tax categories, it is perfectly possible to move oneself from category to category by one's own efforts. It is not possible to alter the place where one was born.

It was put to me even more persuasively that it was even easier to move oneself about under this Government. It was put to me persuasively by my hon. Friends, as it usually is on such occasions, that the change would affect so few that it was quixotic to object. That is an argument that can be turned back on itself. Why fracture faith in the universality of the law for such a paltry reduction in numbers? It is not worth it. My right hon. Friend is quite right to be concerned about numbers. It is numbers, rather than race or culture, which create the problem that he faces.

There would have been much more force in my right hon. Friend's proposal if the new rule also covered foreign fiancees of British men. I know that he feels that that is impossible without a change in the law. I am not actually recommending it here. But that really would have begun to produce the substantial decline in numbers coming in, as the influx of brides is considerably greater than that of male fiances. Some of my hon. Friends have, nevertheless, argued that it is primarily male immigration that must be halted.

I do not know how my hon. Friends manage these matters in their constitu- encies, but in mine it takes two to produce a family. Therefore, it does not matter very much in the numbers game whether the wives or the husbands are imported. "Ah", comes the reply, "but the intention to exclude male fiances was in the manifesto." Indeed it was—and so was the phrase The rights of all British citizens legally settled here are equal before the law. I know that some members of the Opposition have recently refreshed themselves on that entry. I always replied, when questioned on this topic during the election, that the eight specific changes listed would be subordinated to that overriding undertaking. I still hope, somewhat wanly, that it will be.

Before I conclude, I make one other observation. As a critic of the White Paper, I have been impressed by the willingness of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and his Ministers of State to listen to suggestions and accommodate them when they felt that they could, not so much because they were pressed but because their instincts in this matter had none of the prejudices ascribed to them by some hon. Gentlemen.

Where I part company from my ministerial friends is over the view that it is their duty to hurry forward, in a very sensitive and complex field, where there has been insufficient time to examine or think through the broader implications of what is proposed. We are due for a comprehensive nationality Act in this Parliament. I ask my hon. Friend, in his summing up not to abandon the new rule on fiancés but to postpone it for a more complete consideration with the nationality Bill, with which it properly belongs. It is much better to get it right than to get it now.

7.49 pm
Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall)

To some extent, there is logic in what the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Lloyd) had to say in his concluding remarks. They fit in with my earlier intervention, which suggested that before the House is asked to approve a change in the immigration laws we should see the promised nationality Bill or citizenship Bill which has been so long delayed. All hon. Members support the necessity for that Bill, especially with regard to our membership of the EEC.

Therefore, the Government have got their timing wrong and, as I said earlier, they are putting the cart before the horse. The present rules obtain from the 1971 Act, which came into force under the Government led by the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath). Although we opposed that Act, describing it as "racist", we always respected the honourable position of the right hon. Member for Sidcup on the question of race relations. When Lord Carr was Home Secretary, he faced the Ugandan exodus crisis admirably and Britain did the duty that it had to do.

These proposals contravene paragraphs 3, 8, 12 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. I feel, as do some of my right hon. and hon. Friends, that we should have had the presence of a Law Officer in the debate to clear up that matter. Either classes of complaint are taken to the European Court or individual cases are taken, and if these rules are ever applied such cases will follow thick and fast. In some respects, the White Paper contradicts the Immigration Act 1971, particularly those parts which deal with patriality. Oddly, through all these years, we have determined that patriality is not achieved by place of birth, but it can be bestowed upon someone by virtue of achieving British subjecthood, regardless of colour. That matter requires close examination.

The whole scenario should be geared to the question of Britain's membership of the EEC and what prevails in the EEC in matters of human rights, sex equality and so on. Our accession to the EEC, with all the rules that were imposed upon us, including the free movement of capital and labour within an ever-growing large area of Western Europe—soon to be joined by Greece, Portugal and Spain—adds a new qualitative situation, taking into account the standards of living of the member States.

When the House approved the 1971 Act, that went simultaneously with accession to the Treaty of Rome. From the beginning, we dubbed it a racist Act, because it accepted the concept of patriality extending to two ancestral generations and allowing free entry into the country. Ever since, unknown millions of white people have been free to come and go as they please, at least so far as the law is concerned. At the same time, black and brown people of the New Commonwealth were virtually shut out. My hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon) drew attention to that fact.

All those matters are bad enough. One redeeming feature was when the previous Home Secretary, Mr. Roy Jenkins, brought in an amnesty for relatively few immigrants who had been working here for years—called illegals—and restored the right of spouses, regardless of sex. All three Race Relations Acts since 1965 have sought to outlaw race hatred. They were all initiated by Labour Governments with some Tory support and some Tory hostility.

Sex equality under the law now prevails inmost civilised countries. However, Britain still treats British passport holders waiting overseas on a sex discriminatory basis. That attitude is behind the publicised case of the woman and her three sons in Bombay. She is still over there in spite of public outcry in Britain. Nevertheless, it was good to see white neighbours here rising to her support when the Home Office said that she had to go. That is an object lesson in real race relations, harmony and friendship that extends across the barriers of cultural ancestry.

Overall, I did not find the attitude of the previous Labour Government much to write home about on occasions. My hon. Friend the Member for York was removed from his post of Minister of State, Home Office. He appeared before the Select Committee that was chaired by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), the present chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, about that matter. The reason for his removal was that he upset the civil servants too much. I was the longest serving member of that Committee, which was set up in 1968 after the sensation-seeking speeches of the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), who was formerly the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West—a clear case of a Wolverhampton wanderer, if ever there was one. Effective admonishment of him has come from the Tory ranks.

I applaud the contributions of the young hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Dorrell) and the hon. Member for Bexleyheath (Mr. Townsend). I believe that the speech of the hon. Member for Loughborough will stand the test of time. It will be considered to be one of the most forthright, principled statements that we have heard from the Government side of the House for many a long day. Young Tories have been particularly outstanding in this respect and provide opposition to the gross racist and sexist proposals that are currently before the House.

It was a joy to hear and see those young Tories on the television at the Blackpool conference. My name was mentioned on two occasions during the course of the conference. I do not know whether to feel flattered or not, but I have always felt that people who believe in racial harmony should seek their allies wherever they may be found, whether or not that is outside the party. If the two major parties of the House cannot reach general agreement on this matter, God help race relations in the country.

It is well known that I have struggled with this matter ever since I have been in this place. We on the Select Committee were successful in our last report—against the odds and with the press breathing down our necks. We did not go to the excesses of the present White Paper in proposing to take away existing rights. Unlike the present proposals, we underscored equal sex rights and showed how to speed up lawful entry. We did not propose the destruction of the arranged marriage system. We were mindful of the likely pattern of future events. I believe that as the hon. Member for Ealing, South all I should have some knowledge of these matters and what is genuinely likely to occur.

It is wrong of the Home Secretary to try to hit the arranged marriage on the head with a club. Some bad marriages arise out of the present arranged marriage system, but the Government have not made out their case properly in this regard. They have not proved—as they might seek to—that the minority of the cases are the rule.

I do not believe that the Government have a great amount of evidence to show that boys are being brought to the girls. To some extent, that is against the cultural practice on the Indian sub-continent, as I well know. Even if they had evidence, it is still a question of the rights of these girls being taken away by the White Paper.

The Home Secretary alluded to a conversation that he had with me. I do not mind his doing that as long as he gets it right, but he can have no excuse for his submission.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member doubtless heard what Mr. Speaker said earlier and would wish me to draw to his attention the fact that he has spoken for 12 minutes.

Mr. Bidwell

I accept the general principle that speeches should be reasonably short. However, my name is put to the amendment on the Order Paper, and I wish to allude to one further matter, although it has been mentioned many times.

When presenting the Paper the Home Secretary met with fierce disapproval from these Benches, which was echoed to some extent from the Conservative Benches, on the matter of aged dependants. He said that, if there were relatives or offspring remaining with those aged dependants in the country of origin, it was not unreasonable to expect them to look after the old folk. However, India is not a little country like the British Isles; it is a sub-continent, and there may be many miles separating a lonely old person from remaining relatives. That old person may be a widow or a widower, although frequently it will be a widow because females have the habit of living longer.

I am ashamed that in the Select Committee, struggling for two-party agreement, we did not battle harder, but the civilised approach would be to loosen rather than tighten the regulations. The anxiety on that matter within immigrant communities has wide public support. The Home Secretary has a reputation for compassion, and I hope that he will think once, twice and thrice before adopting these harsh proposals.

8.2 pm

Mr. Tim Rathbone (Lewes)

The hon. Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr. Bidwell), amongst others, used phrases, such as "honourable position" and "political advantage", but I hope that, in the interests of brevity, he will forgive me if I do not follow him.

The Home Secretary and the Minister have tried hard to balance the two sometimes conflicing needs for fairness and for containing the future inflow of immigrants, but the White Paper is not entirely successful because of its basic sex discrimination. That fact has been mentioned by many hon. Members, but I should like to re-emphasise it. A distinction exists in the White Paper between husbands and wives, male and female fiances, and the location and state of parents' nationality as between boys and girls. The official Opposition's amendment does not deal with that matter. It makes no mention of bias by sex, but only by race, colour or creed, and the admonition of hon. Gentlemen that that bias would be eliminated if we voted in favour of their amendment is without foundation.

In opening, the Home Secretary intimated that the White Paper is conditioned by the laws of 1948 and 1971. I am not a lawyer, but I recognise that that may be so. However, if it is not possible to effect equality of male and female under present law, the importance of a new nationality Bill is all the greater. Can the Minister reassure us, first, that a nationality Bill will be brought before the House within this Parliament, following the White Paper which he promised will be published early next year? That Bill is crucial to clear up the idiosyncrasies, sadnesses and mix-ups in the application of our race relations and immigration laws. Secondly, can the Minister reassure us that the imbalance of the new orders which are likely to be laid on the basis of the White Paper will be corrected in the nationality Bill?

Equality of the sexes is correct as a point of principle. The Conservative Party has a track record to be proud of, and, if I may say so, I include in that tribute my family, which, uniquely up to this time, in previous years had two hon. Lady Members of my name at the same time in this House.

It is a point of practice under the law. The European Convention on Human Rights has been mentioned, but there has been no mention of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, which may have some bearing on the matter.

There is anxiety about race relations and inequality of treatment on the basis of race, colour and creed, but also about equality of treatment between men and women. Many inequalities exist in the law, but that is no argument that they should continue to exist in new laws and orders. The law should not take a backward step to greater inequality but should go forward to achieve less inequality, and on that basis I seek reassurance from my hon. Friend the Minister.

8.7 pm

Mr. Arthur Davidson (Accrington)

These rules have run into so much trouble because they have dishonourable antecedents. They were born out of deceit and expediency. Prior to the election, a few Conservative Members, although not all, were content to give the impression that the country was being swamped and that if they got back the swamping would halt. When they got back they had to look round, and expediency came into it. The expediency is that, bound by the impression that they created, they have had to produce a de-swamping measure, and this is it. They looked around to try to find someone whom they could stop from entering Britain.

On whom did their eyes alight? They have chosen the over-80s—the Grandparents. That is especially dishonourable because the Home Secretary knows, and every Conservative Member knows, that there is not a queue of grandpas, grandmas and old parents desperately wanting to enter Britain. Nobody over 60, 70 or 80 is anxious to move unless it is really necessary. The Government know perfectly well that those from the subcontinent in their 70s and 80s will leave their homes, uproot themselves and travel long distances only if they genuinely wish to join their families. If the White Paper is a de-swamping measure, it is a pretty squalid one.

It is also dishonourable that the Home Secretary and the Conservative Front Bench will next week, the week after, or the week after that, be attending in their evening suits some Pakistani dinner, and they will say "The one thing that we value about the community life of immigrants in this country is the strong family ties. We value it and wish that the same example could be set throughout this country."

That is the message the Tories give at that sort of dinner. Yet here they are, producing a squalid little White Paper which will hit at the very heart of family life. They cannot justify it by numbers, because the numbers are not there. There is no flood of 80-year-olds into Britain and there never has been. Equally, there has never been a flood of fiances trying to enter Britain. That argument has been exploded over and over again in the debate.

I do not wish to take up too much time, as other hon. Members wish to speak. A sordid little measure such as this is not worth speaking about at any great length. I praise those Conservative Members who have expressed their disgust at the measure. It is more difficult for them to make that sort of speech than it is for Opposition Members.

I wish to conclude, as I began, with a general criticism. Any measure that is born out of deceit and expediency dies a dismal death. This measure will meet the same fate. It will do no good for the Conservatives at the next election to knock on doors saying "You are a shopkeeper and a natural Conservative. We would like you to join our party," and then in the next breath to say "Members of the white community, we are trying to stop immigration. Look at what we have put on the statute book—those marvellous Immigration Rules. That did it. That stopped the fiances".

Mr. Ennals

What about the widows?

Mr. Davidson

The widows too. It is a dishonourable little proposal. It is a deceitful little proposal. It deserves the hostile reception that it has received tonight.

8.13 pm
Mr. Douglas Hogg (Grantham)

I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to express my concern over the provisions contained in paragraphs 50 to 55 of the rules. My views are similar to those expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Mr. Dorrell). Paragraphs 50 to 52 provide that women who are citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies, and were born in the United Kingdom, may, subject to certain stringent conditions, bring their fiancés or husbands into the United Kingdom for permanent residence.

I have no objection to the stringent conditions. My objection is that, whilst fairly oppressive restrictions are placed on women, virtually no restrictions are placed on men. Those measures are sexually discriminatory. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said that that has been conditioned and brought about by the provisions of the 1948 and 1971 Acts. If that is true, I wish that the proposals had been postponed until that previous legislation had been amended in order to avoid this unfortunate result.

I am also concerned about the fact that the potential rights conferred by paragraphs 50 and 52 are limited to women born in the United Kingdom. Whatever gloss the House may choose to put upon the rules, there is no doubt that that restriction is discriminatory on racial grounds.

During the general election campaign I, in common with many other Conservative candidates, was asked about the Conservative Party's attitude to immigration. I repeatedly said that I was in favour of further curbs but that I was absolutely determined to ensure that immigrants who were legally settled here and were United Kingdom citizens should be treated in precisely the same way as indigenous United Kingdom citizens. That statement was wholly in accord with our manifesto.

I have to say, and I do so with enormous regret, that the limited rights proposed in the White Paper are discriminatory and are contrary to the assurances contained in our manifesto.

Another objection is that the proviso that the women in question should be born in the United Kingdom is unnecessary. I am happy to support the conditions contained in subparagraphs (a), (b) and (c) in paragraphs 50 and 52. They are quite stringent enough to prevent the abuse to which the Home Secretary referred. I shall therefore find it difficult to support paragraphs 50 and 52. They would be made much more acceptable to me if men and women were treated equally and if the requirement that the woman—or any person—should be born in the United Kingdom were deleted.

It is essential that we should protect the rights of British girls who happen to be born abroad because of the temporary absence of their parents from the United Kingdom. It is a matter of particular concern to me, because I have in my constituency many RAF and other Service families, many of whom have daughters who were born abroad. There is nothing in the White Paper to protect those women, and it is essential that they should be protected and that the protection should be enshrined in the rules. I was pleased to hear what my right hon. Friend said on that point. I welcome his assurances, but I doubt whether they go far enough. My right hon. Friend is proposing to extend the rules to United Kingdom citizens who were born in the United Kingdom or were born of parents one of whom was born in the United Kingdom.

That is a great improvement, but it does not go far enough, because it does not protect females born outside the United Kingdom of parents who were themselves born outside the United Kingdom. That is not an uncommon circumstance in Service families.

I have drafted certain proposals and put them to the Minister of State and the Home Secretary for consideration. I very much hope that they will be seriously considered, because they would avoid this particular anomaly and injustice.

Mr. Whitelaw

I am sorry that I did not hear the earlier part of my hon. Friend's speech. In courtesy to him, I should say that I have received his proposals. When we are considering the drafting of the new rules following the debate, we shall certainly give every possible consideration to them.

Mr. Hogg

I am very grateful to my right hon. Friend for his intervention. I conclude by paying a tribute to him. I am the first to acknowledge that this is a very difficult matter. I recognize that the Home Secretary has approached it in a compassionate way and has been willing to compromise. But, despite that, my view is that the proposals are defective, for the reasons that I have already outlined.

I shall not vote against the Government. To do so would be to give aid and comfort to opposition Members, and in no circumstances would I wish to do that. For that reason, I propose to vote against their amendment. But on the substantive matter, the approval of the revision of the rules, I have to say, with very great regret, that my present intention is to abstain.

8.21 pm.

Mr. Jim Marshall (Leicester, South)

I shall not follow the speech of the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg). I wish that we had the system in this House that applies in the Senate or the Congress in the United States, so that I could place my speech in the record, as many of the points that I wish to make have already been made admirably by my hon. Friends.

It is a squalid White Paper. It is sexist, it is racist and it is inhuman. Some of my hon. Friends have said that it is also probably illegal. But, despite all those defects, we understand that the Government intend to persist with this shabby White Paper. We therefore have to consider the political reasons why their insistence is so strong.

The main reason—and here I disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon)—is that the Tory Party considered two years ago that there were votes in the immigration issue. The Tories thought they could win white votes by the immigration scare, and it was the leader of the Tory Party, now the Prime Minister, who used the word "swamped" It was the Prime Minister who implied that there was still mass primary immigration into this country.

From the Government Benches we denied that assertion and tried to point out the facts. If we look at the statistics, we can see beyond any shadow of doubt that the large immigration into this country now is of dependants and from Britain's residual obligation to United Kingdom passport holders. The 1977 figures and the 1978 figures make that clear beyond any shadow of doubt.

Conservative Members have failed, either willingly or unintentionally—to give them the benefit of the doubt—to take account of what the statistics tell us. We now see the worst of all possible worlds in the proposed changes in the, Immigration Rules. When the Tory Ministers moved into the Home Office the facts were presented to them, but because of their manifesto commitments, and particularly because of the strong position and the strong views of the Prime Minister on these issues, they were in the position that, despite the evidence that they had not been telling the people of this country the absolute truth about immigration, they had to do something about those commitments. We therefore have this shabby White Paper, which will have an adverse effect upon a small minority, the Asian minority, in this country.

For those reasons I believe that Conservative Members should join us this evening in voting against the White Paper to show that the House totally disapproves of it. Primarily, it is an attack upon the social and cultural conditions of the Asian community in the United Kingdom. For Conservative Members, particularly the Home Secretary, to pretend that this is the introduction to good race relations in this country suggests to me that they are living in cloud-cuckoo-land. I have a large Asian population in my constituency, and it does not see this White Paper as the introduction to the promised land. It sees it as the thin end of the wedge. They ask "This today, what tomorrow?"

The alternative that we should be pursuing, and I wish that the Home Secretary would pursue it, is to shout from the rooftops the message that there is no mass immigration into this country, that we are reuniting families and carrying out our obligations to United Kingdom passport holders and that they are good humanitarian motives. We ought to be pursuing that kind of objective rather than continuing with this dirty little White Paper.

I should like to repeat some of the points that many of my hon. Friends have made about the sexist and racist nature of specific parts of the rules. Men will still be able to bring in their spouses, whereas women may do that if they were born here, if they are citizens of the United Kingdom and if they have met their spouses. I realise that the Home Secretary has said that if they were born here or are citizens of the United Kingdom they will be able to bring them in, but, nevertheless, the rules say that they may. That is sexist because it discriminates against women. It is racist because the need to have met is a direct attack upon the arranged marriage system. There is no truth in the assumption that now seems to fall easily from the lips of Tory Members that the arranged marriage is a marriage of convenience. On those grounds, the White Paper is racist.

The paragraphs dealing with dependants are the most inhuman that I have read in any legislation in all my life and in my short period in this House. I deal with many constituency problems relating to aged dependants. It is virtually impossible at the present time to get an aged dependant into this country. People in the Home Office can think of numerous reasons to prevent them coming in, and now they will prevent them altogether. Dependants abroad are in a classic Catch-22 position. If one lets one's parents starve abroad one might be able to get them in, but if one does one's family duty by sending them a mere pittance in British terms, but a lot of money in terms of the standard of living abroad, one denies them the opportunity to come to this country.

All of us ought to vote against this shoddy White Paper to show that Britain still has some self-respect and that we are prepared to defend basic human rights.

8.28 pm
Mr. Nick Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)

I should like to begin by taking up the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Fareham (Mr. Lloyd) when he said that in his opinion all the specific promises made in the Tory Party's manifesto at the last election were covered by the initial remarks, that the rights of all British citizens legally settled here are equal before the law.

Surely that must have only a limited meaning in that in most respects the role of this place, and the legislature in any country, is to make proper discrimination between various classes of persons. For example, I do not suppose that those who are in favour of penal capital taxation would say that it was wrong to make a distinction between a multimillionaire and a man who, for the sake of argument, leaves £10,000 to his children. Surely that is a breach of the principle of equality before the law as put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Fareham. Surely the concept of equality before the law simply means that once a law has been properly passed in this place or the legislature of any country it will be equally administered.

I can say to my hon. Friend the Member for Fareham and my hon. Friends who will not be with us in the Lobby tonight that I understand why our party's proposals are so little understood. This House should be the place where the conflicting theories of the great parties are regularly and vigorously debated. Unhappily, during the previous Parliament the subject of immigration, which on any basis is an important subject, was debated only twice. I regard that as little short of a scandal.

It does not surprise me that many of those who fought at the last general election should, as a result, have only a rough idea of the proposals made by our party at the last election. Those proposals combined an appearance of decision with a number of expressions that can be variously and differently interpreted. That is unfortunate. I think that that arises from a stifling of proper debate about our proper proposals.

On the other hand, it must be recognised on all sides that when, for instance, my hon. Friend the Minister of State said in the second paragraph of an article in The Daily Telegraph today Quite clearly, the first aim is to reduce the numbers coming into this rather crowded island with its relatively high unemployment", he understated the present attitude of the British people.

I am bound to say to my hon. Friends who will not be joining us in the Lobby tonight that I find their position difficult to understand. Some of my hon. Friends stated plainly at the last election that they did not support the detailed proposals in our manifesto. They made it quite plain to their electorates, and in some instances even to the leader of our party, that under no circumstances would they support the detailed proposals set out in our manifesto. If they vote against us tonight or do not join with us in the Lobby, in my opinion their position will be constitutionally perfectly correct and easy to understand.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

My hon. Friend is making an important point. However, I am sure that he has not forgotten that the manifesto said, in terms of United Kingdom citizens who were immigrants and who were living legally in this country, that their opportunities ought to be equal to those of the indigenous population. There is nothing in the manifesto that suggests that any changes that might be introduced will be racially or sexually discriminatory.

Mr. Budgen

I understand that a number of important principles are set out in our manifesto that are apparently mutually incompatible. Of course I do, and I very much regret that. I consistently asked in the House that we should have debates on this matter.

Mr. John Watson (Skipton)

In view of the apparent incompatibility of the sentence in our manifesto which reads The rights of all British citizens legally settled here are equal before the law whatever their race, colour or creed", did my hon. Friend disown that sentence in his election address?

Mr. Budgen

I think I made it quite plain that, in my opinion, the overriding requirement of an incoming Tory Administration was to curb the rate of immigration as quickly and efficiently as possible, consistent with any detailed and specific promises made in the past. I always recognised that that would be very difficult to do and for that reason I consistently and awkwardly pressed for a debate in the House. I recognised that this was an area in which the Tory Party might run into serious problems by making wide, general statements that were misunderstood in the country. My hon. Friends who are careful and intelligent observers of political argument have demonstrated how this has been misunderstood—

Mr. William Wilson

I am trying to follow the hon. Member's argument about the manner in which the Conservative Party made up its mind on immigration policy. Do I understand the hon. Member as saying that, had we discussed the matter in the House and had the benefit of speeches from the Labour Benches, Conservative Members would have been able to make up their minds more accurately about immigration in language that everyone could understand?

Mr. Budgen

Yes, I believe that they would have done, and that we would not have had the passage in the manifesto in which there are statements of principle which are inconsistent with one another.

I have the greatest respect and sympathy for those of my hon. Friends who boldly stated to the electorate that they would have nothing to do with the proposals in the manifesto. Their position is sound. However, I find it difficult to understand those of my hon. Friends who felt that the Tory Party's proposals were popular and that they might have a crucial effect on marginal seats in the Midlands, and went along with them knowing that if and when they got into the House of Commons they would do their level best to undermine those proposals. I do not think that that is a proper constitutional position, and I hope that my hon. Friends will reconsider.

I hope that there will be no going back on the detailed proposals that have been made by the Government. I have great sympathy with my hon. Friends who have difficulty in understanding the manifesto, but certainly the Home Secretary cannot claim that difficulty. He had the good fortune to be Opposition spokesman on home affairs when the Conservative Party was last in office, and he is Home Secretary now. That elliptical passage in the manifesto arises particularly from a speech that he made on 7 April 1978 in Leicester. I am sure that he would consider himself bound by the eight specific promises in the Tory Party manifesto.

Much has been said about the importance of bringing forward a new Bill on British nationality. I remind hon. Members of the way in which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary welcomed the Green Paper. He said as long ago as April 1977: Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we welcome this Green Paper as a recognition of our changed overseas relationships and as an opportunity to provide a more rational basis for our immigration policies based on citizenship? Does he appreciate that the present obscurity of our nationality laws gives rise to widespread fears of unending millions who might claim entry into this country and that this anxiety must be removed, and removed urgently? Will he, therefore, accept that the Green Paper must be used as a basis for action and not as an excuse for prevarication?"—[Official Report, 27 April 1977; Vol. 930, c. 1228.] Today his vigorous promise is that some time in 1980 he will present a White Paper for further discussion. I do not find that an indication that his promises are being acted upon with the same urgency as that with which he pressed the Labour Party when it was in Government.

I am somewhat disconcerted by the fact that in his opening speech the Home Secretary said nothing about the register. Has the register been abandoned? Will we go back on the detailed promises which, I assert, helped us to win so many marginal seats in the Midlands? I do not know. I hope not. I also hope that the Home Secretary will use his very considerable power in the Cabinet to obtain legislative time in the next Session for the introduction of a register. The register was not someone else's idea, and we are not simply having a difference of view about it between spokesmen in Opposition and spokesmen in Government.

The register was referred to by my right hon. Friend in his Leicester speech. It will come very ill from him if he, as the second most powerful figure in the Tory Party, says next year that he could not get legislative time for the register. The promise of the Tory Party was perhaps vague, but it was good that immigration, as we have seen it in the years since the war, would be brought to a clear end. The present proposals will reduce immigration by between 10 per cent. and 15 per cent. I cannot believe that the continuance of 85 per cent. of immigration, such as we have seen in recent years, is bringing immigration to a clear end.

There has been, I regret to say, a lot of muddle in our immigration policy. There has been a lot of room for misunderstanding. We now need very careful consideration of this difficult problem. Most of all, we must avoid leading those who voted at the last general election down the garden path. I do not believe that the British people are incapable of facing difficult truths. I do not believe that they would wish to be conned or in any way treated deceitfully. Specific promises have been made, and they must now be honoured.

8.43 pm
Miss Joan Lestor (Eton and Slough)

When these rules first came out, I took a fiendish delight in looking up the number of hon. Members—particularly on the Tory Benches—who had been born abroad. I did this because it seemed incredible that the Government were prepared to legislate against women born abroad. If those hon. Members had a sex change, such legislation would apply to them.

Since the rules were published, some changes have been made in what was first proposed—for many obvious reasons. As has already been said, the white lobby has been placated. Concessions have been made. What alarms me is that every time we have a debate on immigration—I can go back as far as 1966–every concession that is made is always followed by the next demand, and the next demand is always worse than the concession just made.

Tonight the hon and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell) said that these proposals do not go far enough, that we must do more and that we must carry on from here. There is little left to do if we continue along this road.

We are debating these rules a day or two after the announcement that the three Patel children will not be allowed to join their mother in this country. She has legal custody of them. That decision has been made by the Minister of State, Home Office, who, I understand—as a result of further delving into Members' interests—once received a prize for the work that he did in connection with World Refugee Year. By that action and others, the hon. Gentleman contributes to World Refugee Year.

One is tempted to chase the red herrings. Hon. Members have mentioned the numbers involved, the rapid change in culture and the increase in the birth rate. There are many immigrants in my constituency. Many of them have settled in Slough. However, the position about falling numbers on the school rolls in my constituency is the same as in other parts of the country. It is nonsense to say that immigrants are responsible for increasing the number of pupils in our schools and that the birth rate is unfair and unbalanced. The school rolls in my constituency and in others are said to be responsible for cuts in education expenditure. The debate is about the abuse of the system by husbands and fiances. The abuse of the system represents about 3 per cent. of the total of husbands and wives who are allowed in, according to the numbers who are refused entry. That is a small percentage.

The Home Secretary and others referred to bogus marriages. They argued that marriages break down because they are bogus and are entered into only as a means of entering the country. I do not know how one can prove that. Many marriages break down, but they are not arranged. The divorce rate is rising and the number of marriages that break down within two years is increasing. It is impossible to prove that a marriage breaks down because it is bogus.

The legislation is designed to affect Asians more than any other group. However, only half of the alleged abuses involve Asians. The Government should deal more in fact rather than make misleading statements.

To their credit, several hon. Members have referred to the contradiction in Tory Party policy. It is said that once an immigrant is here he is treated as an equal. That is no longer true. We now have different categories of women. It now matters where a woman is born and who her parents are.

I asked the Home Secretary about adopted girls. Many married couples have adopted girls, from Hungary, Bangladesh and Vietnam. Those children are part of a family unit. I am told that they shall not be excluded from the rules but that their positions will depend on the conditions of the adoption. The Government stress the importance of family units. What will these proposals do to a family with an adopted child? Must we now find where that child's original parents were born in order to decide whether she has the rights that other women have?

I do not want to repeat the arguments about the EEC. I have criticised immigration policy and I have always argued that the only acceptable immigration policy is one which does not involve colour and country of origin. We must have a policy which is based on jobs available and a host of other criteria but which has nothing whatever to do with colour or country of origin. Until we have such a policy, race will always be an issue.

Many Government Members have claimed that the rules will solve the problem of numbers. They may deal with the few husbands and fiances, and even elderly dependants, but they will not solve the EEC problem. In the old days when we argued about immigration, the number of aliens coming into the country was rising in almost direct proportion to the number of Commonwealth immigrants who were not being allowed in. The number of people from the EEC who will be allowed to enter Britain is outside these rules, just as the Iranians are outside them. The contradiction of EEC women married to non-EEC men exists. The argument about the widening of the EEC to include Greece, Spain and Portugal puts a totally different complexion on the process of immigration control.

It is nonsense to say that we shall reduce numbers of immigrants by these rules, if that is desirable, because it is blatantly not so. There is the contradiction of a patrial United Kingdom citizen who was not born here but who, because of her five years' residence, may work and settle in all the EEC countries and may be joined by her spouse and by her immigrant dependants. However, she has no such right in the country of which she is a citizen. How is that sensible? How does that make people equal under the law?

The converse is also true. The removal of the concession for elderly dependants is the most shameful and empty aspect of the rules. It is a concession to the racialists in our society. It is shameful because there is no reason for it. If people are concerned that black babies will be born, let me allay their fears: elderly people will not have babies. There can be no justification for refusing elderly people the right to join their families except that of pandering to prejudice.

As I said in my intervention—and I hope that the Minister who replies will answer my point—the part of the rules dealing with dependent relatives states that they will be allowed in only if they are totally dependent on a person in Britain and their standard of living is below the normal standard of living of the country from which they come. However, if the relative in Britain is sending them money their standard of living will be raised. It is a Catch-22 situation. As has already been said, if a person has a dependent relative in some other part of the world, where there is a high standard of living, similar to ours, and he sends money to, say, America or Germany, the standard of living has not been raised. In that context, if a person is white he will not be caught by the rules.

Why did the Home Secretary say that there was an assumption that, because a person had an elderly relative in the Indian sub-continent, that relative should want to live in Britain? That should not be the assumption. The rules remove the choice. They do not give elderly relatives the option to come to Britain, except in exceptional circumstances, which have been undermined already by what has taken place.

I shall be brief. I have not yet spoken for 10 minutes. Some hon. Members went way beyond the time allotted to them.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Down, South)

It was not an allotted time.

Miss Lestor

I wish that the right hon. Gentleman would not mumble.

Mr. Powell

If the hon. Lady does not like my mumbling, I shall speak to her.

Miss Lestor

I do not like the mumbling of the right hon. Gentleman, and I do not wish him to talk to me either.

The tragedy of the rules is the uncertainty and insecurity that they will bring to immigrant communities in Britain. One thing follows another for those who thought that they had settled here and who thought that they and their children would be accepted here. It is a shabby concession to what is believed to be the presence of widespread racialist feelings. I do not believe that that is true. If it were true, the country would be in a bad state. Every time we concede to the racialists in this shabby and unnecessary fashion, we do not stop further demands. We simply whet their gluttonous appetites for more; and that is what these rules do.

8.54 pm
Mr Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)

I congratulate the Government on having made a start in implementing their manifesto commitments, albeit with a modification. I look forward to the implementation of the rest of their programme.

I gather from Opposition speeches—and from one or two from the Government Benches—that the critics of this policy are concerned about the element of discrimination. What immigration rules are not discriminatory? Almost every country in the world bases its nationality law on discrimination. The prime rule of that law in almost every country is the place of birth. The prime rule of immigration law is place of birth, either of oneself or one's father. Similarly, in our matrimonial law and that of most other civilised countries, most countries provide that the husband has a duty to provide a home for and to maintain his wife. There is no duty on the wife to maintain her husband. Our immigration law must take account of that. If the women's rights movement wishes to enforce its view of women's rights in terms of immigration, it should ensure that discriminatory provisions of this sort in matrimonial law, for example, are repealed.

The consideration above all others that must be respected by this place is the overriding national interest. That is the factor that I believe the Government are following in their proposed Immigration Rules.

One or two Opposition Members have claimed that the Government's proposals are in breach of the European convention. One can assess the quality of that objection by referring to the wording of article 3 of the convention, which was referred to specifically by the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Rees). The article states: no one shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. One does not have to be a lawyer to realise that that obviously does not fit the case of a foreigner who is not allowed as of right to join his wife in the United Kingdom. That is the essence of the problem.

We may forget about any breach of the convention. The overriding law is what we take to be in the national interest of the British people.

I suggest that we accept the proposed rules and enact a new nationality law without further delay. Let us get on with the rebuilding of the British nation, a nation in which no one is labelled an immigrant, a nation in which no one owes loyalty to another country or to the ways of life of another country, a nation in which we are all united in enjoyment of the privilege of living in the best country in the world.

8.57 pm
Mr. Alfred Dubs (Battersea, South)

For the past 10 to 20 years we have had an immigration debate. That debate has had a number of sad but possibly expected consequences. One of the consequences has been to obscure from the public, and I fear from some hon. Members, the true facts of immigration into Britain.

The debate has obscured the fact that our immigration controls are among the tightest and the strictest in the world. It has obscured the fact that our present immigration rules are already racist in their effect. It has encouraged the public to feel prejudiced towards others in our community. It has added to the feeling of insecurity felt by the members of minority communities. The debate has made people feel that they are unwanted or rejected by the host community. That is an unfortunate and reprehensible result of the continuing obsession with immigration from which we have suffered over the past 10 or 20 years.

Some hon. Members have talked about their belief in racial harmony and their opposition to racial discrimination. I find it difficult to understand how as a country we can profess to be opposed to racial discrimination yet practise discrimination at the point of entry. That seems to be hypocrisy. If we are being hypocritical in that sense, we shall not achieve good relations. That is because our protestations that we are opposed to discrimination will not be believed.

I turn briefly to the difficulties that the elderly will face under the proposed Immigration Rules. It seems that there will be almost no possibility of elderly dependants from the Asian sub-continent achieving entry into Britain. It will be more difficult for them to come here than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. I hope that the Minister answering the debate will give an example of how an elderly dependent Asian can possibly come into the country under the new proposals.

I turn briefly to the power of immigration officials.

Mr. Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but we hope soon to begin the winding up of the debate. If the hon. Gentleman could be brief, I would be grateful. I called him to speak for the last few moments until 9 o'clock.

Mr. Dubs

I shall be very brief. Under the new rules, immigration officials will have even more arbitrary powers. I refer, for example, to the references in the rules to the consequences of a delayed application—they will make it unacceptable. That comes from a Government Department that sends out letters referring to delays of two or three years and saying that people must not complain about such delays as that will delay their applications even further.

My hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon) and other hon. Members have already referred to the European Commission on Human Rights. The report has not been published, but, given the misunderstandings about it, I shall place it in the Library. An important part of that report says: a special importance should be attached to discrimination based on race: that publicly to single out a group of persons for differential treatment on the basis of race might in certain circumstances constitute a special form of affront to human dignity. This White Paper is an affront to human dignity.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker I do not raise this point of order in a spirit of playing parliamentary games. Hon. Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, South (Mr. Dubs), have referred to the European Convention on Human Rights. All of us have received letters and seen articles arguing that the rules are contrary in some way to the European Convention on Human Rights. It has also been mentioned that those rules are in some way contrary to certain EEC regulations. Given the current mood, hon. Members may not feel very strongly about that. I have in front of me the Final Act of the Helsinki Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. It refers to the reunification of families, marriages between citizens of different races, and travel for personal and professional reasons. All those subjects are relevant to the debate.

My point of order is that we have not had a view from a Law Officer of the Crown. Are these rules contrary to a "law" to which we have subscribed? We should know the facts and we should know them tonight. Before the regulations are laid on the Floor of the House, a Law Officer should give his view.

Mr. Whitelaw

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The right hon. Gentleman courteously informed me that he would raise that point of order. I am therefore in a position to give him a reply to which he and the House are entitled.

As the right hon. Gentleman will know, it is a tradition that the Government do not disclose any advice that they may receive from the Law Officers. However, the Government have, of course, considered collectively the full implications of these proposals, including the question raised today about international obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. We believe that we have strong arguments with which to justify those proposals if they are challenged.

Mr. Edward Lyons rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. and learned Gentleman will be taking time away from his hon. Friend I. understand that the hon. and learned Gentleman spoke for 13 or 14 minutes during the debate.

Mr. Lyons

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate your point, but my right hon. Friend did ask about the effect of the Helsinki agreement. The Secretary of State made no reference to the effect of the rules on our obligations under that agreement.

Dr. Hampson

Are not the activities of the Front Benches an abuse of the procedures of the House? The Chair often exercises discretion to allow Back Benchers to run beyond 9 o'clock in order to accommodate all the Back Bench speeches. It so happens that I was the one Conservative Member still to speak.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Keighley)

You will be aware, Mr. Speaker, that in Standing Committee hon. Members have the right under Standing Orders to call for the attendance of a Law Officer. The rules are legalistic in their effect on people. Even at this moment, can you clarify whether the House, which is more important than a Standing Committee, has the same right to require the attendance of a Law Officer to explain the important legal international implications on which we have had no authoritative statement?

Mr. Speaker

First, I say to the hon. Member for Ripon (Dr. Hampson), who was the last Member likely to have spoken from the Government Benches, that our rules are not made to imprison us. There are times when we bend them a little, but not so much that they get out of shape. In reply to the hon. and learned Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Lyons) and the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer), I have nothing to add to what the Home Secretary has already said.

9.6 pm

Dr. Shirley Summerskill (Halifax)

Any new proposals in the White Paper that can be welcomed as an improvement in our Immigration Rules are regrettably completely overshadowed by other major proposals which are totally unacceptable. It is these that have dominated today's debate and made it impossible for the Opposition to accept the document. I hope that Conservative Members will follow the shining examples of the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Dorrell) and several of his hon. Friends. I regret that not one lady Member from the Conservative Benches saw fit to oppose the policy of the first woman Prime Minister on a matter involving the rights of women.

The White Paper has a dishonourable history. It started with the Prime Minister's notorious television interview last year. She successfully fanned the flames of racism and gave the word "swamped" a new meaning in the English language. To add fuel to her fire, a series of Conservative manifesto pledges were hastily cobbled together regardless of the complexities of immigration control or of the overall practical effects of the proposals.

The White Paper is a product of the schizophrenia which bedevils the Conservative Party over immigration. The symptoms were manifested at the party conference this year, and have been again in today's debate. From the Right comes a mindless unreasoned clamour for more controls, and from the Left a plea for at at least some show of tolerance towards the ethnic minorities. It is no wonder that we are presented with a document containing one major election pledge broken and another one watered down, along with the reservations expressed by the Home Secretary in his opening speech, which were designed to get him off one of his hooks, and a further reassurance during the debate.

The result is an unjustifiable, muddled, shamefully discriminatory set of proposals which should be rejected by the House. The Home Secretary has claimed that the new rules will be easier and clearer to operate. To that I can only say that his idea of clarity and ease are not mine. He has created two classes of people living in this country, both of which will have to be redefined when the citizenship White Paper comes out.

First, let us deal with men. Regardless of their citizenship or birthplace, if they are settled here they can by right be joined by a fiancee or wife from anywhere in the world. Then there are the women who were born here or who have a British parent. They, I am glad to learn, are now to be given the absolute right to be joined by a husband or fiance from anywhere in the world. I trust that that statement by the right hon. Gentleman means that those women will be treated in exactly the same way as the men. However, there is the other class of women—the second class of women. They are lawfully settled here but happen not to have been born here, and nor were their parents born here. These women are not even mentioned specifically in the White Paper. They are more or less non-people.

The Prime Minister's election cry is still ringing in my ears, if not in the ears of Government supporters. She proclaimed that People lawfully settled here will have nothing to fear. That was echoed by the right hon. Gentleman and no doubt by other hon. Members. There seems to have been some confusion during the debate among Government supporters about exactly what the Conservative Party manifesto said. They can be reminded very quickly by looking at the Order Paper, as the Opposition amendment is exactly the words of their manifesto, which said: The rights of all British citizens legally settled here are equal before the law whatever their race, colour or creed. And their opportunities ought to be equal too. The White Paper makes a mockery of that election pledge. All women legally settled here but not born here will not be equal before the law, nor will their opportunities, following marriage, be equal.

The original Conservative election pledge about fiances and husbands has been amended, and amended again. We are left with a shabby compromise that is as offensive, divisive and heartless as the original proposals. Why does not the Home Secretary admit that the new rules are specifically designed to exclude coloured men at the expense of the rights of many women? To do that, he has introduced a totally discriminatory innovation in our immigration control.

I am proud that one of the first actions that the Home Office took under the Labour Government of 1974 was to change the rules and allow women lawfully settled here to bring in their foreign husbands—a change that was not opposed by the Conservative Party. The Minister of State said that the new rules would keep out—this was before the Home Secretary's reservations expressed today—1,500 to 2,000 men a year. He said that that was not an insignificant figure, but the hardship and suffering of many women involved is not insignificant either. I refer to women who may have dependent, elderly parents or other close relatives here; women whose jobs and careers are here; women who wish to stay here for health or financial reasons; women who simply want to live in their own country. Those women will have to choose between husband and country. Is that what is meant by Tory freedom of choice?

I have noticed several sexist pronouncements by the Government recently. First, we had the Secretary of State for Social Services urging mothers to stay at home and be full-time housewives. Then the Secretary of State for Employment proposed to restrict the rights of mothers who worked for small firms. That narrow-minded and outmoded stereotyping of the female role was echoed by the Home Secretary. He justified the original election pledge on husbands by saying: In accordance with the customs of Europe and the Indian Sub-Continent, the abode of the husband should normally be viewed as the natural place of residence of the That is an obsolescent philosophy unworthy of the Home Secretary's high in-family."

tellect. Anyway, in his new rules, with complete inconsistency, he now applies what he calls the customs of Europe and the sub-continent to some women but not to others.

The right hon. Gentleman was more impressive a few weeks ago when he stood at that Dispatch Box and proclaimed that the Government were committed to the Equal Opportunities Commission and would certainly support its work. Today, that fighting talk has become meaningless. He is denying equal opportunities to thousands of women. On television he has argued that that is justifiable discrimination. In another place his junior Minister called it "reasonable discrimination" I call it totally unjustifiable and totally unreasonable to discriminate between men and women, or between one woman and another, about their right to live in their own country with whoever they choose to marry.

Mr. Tim Renton (Mid-Sussex)

If the hon. Lady feels that way, why is that not expressed in the amendment that the Opposition have put down?

Dr. Summerskill

All the issues are covered by the all-embracing amendment that the Opposition have put down.

Primary immigration must be tackled—that is the point made about the fiance proposals. However, that aspect relates to the minority of the immigrants. It accounts for 1,500 to 2,000 men a year. Are not the 20,000 non-British women who entered this country last year considered to be primary immigration? They were accepted for settlement. Many of them will take jobs, use our social services and travel on public transport. Many of them may even produce children. They should be considered as primary immigration as they make up the majority of it.

The Government now believe that any arranged marriage without a meeting is suspect. Is there to be only one meeting? Should the immigration officer decide whether or not that meeting is proper, or whether it takes place for long enough? Under Asian religion and culture, the arranged marriage is as real and lasting as any other marriage. In 1976 the Home Secretary said: Everyone who has come here has been free to practise his or her own customs and religions. We have guarded these freedoms jealously for centuries, and we are justly proud of them"—[Official Report, 5 July 1976; Vol. 914, c. 964.] The arranged marriage is one of the oldest Asian customs. The proposals in the White Paper show an insensitivity to the tradition. It is not the function of the Home Secretary or of Parliament to sit in judgment upon the practice. How people decide to enter into matrimony is entirely their affair.

There is a problem about the reluctance of the Asian bride, and people are concerned about protecting the liberties of the Asian woman. That involves social change and education but not discriminatory immigration controls. I believe that, as the second and third generations grow up, the practice will die out. However, it is not for the Home Secretary or Parliament to interfere with or stop the practice.

When it comes to the abuse of the arranged marriage, that is a different matter. If we want to stop that abuse, we should stop the abuse itself and not interfere with the arranged marriage, thus preventing genuine marriages. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) pointed out that we introduced new rules in 1977 to tackle that abuse. They provide that where a marriage overseas has recently—

Mr. Douglas Hogg

Will my hon. Friend give way—[Interruption.] Before my hon. Friend—



Mr. Douglas Hogg

Before the hon. Lady leaves the consideration of the conditions, will she tell the Members whether she agrees or disagrees with the conditions contained in sub-paragraphs (a) and (b)?

Dr. Summerskill

I listened with great admiration to the speech of the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg). I agree with every word that he said and hope that his right hon. Friend comes round to that view.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

It is nice to be flattered by the hon. Lady, but will she please direct her attention to my question? Does she agree or disagree with the conditions contained in sub-paragraphs (a) and (b)?

Dr. Summerskill

I should need notice of that question to answer it. Unless the hon. Gentleman wishes to read those subparagraphs to the House, I cannot off the cuff tell him which they are.

Mr. Douglas Hogg rose—

Dr. Summerskill

We introduced measures that contained specific power to refuse admission or settlement in any case where the marriage was believed to be one of convenience. At the end of 12 months, checks were made to ascertain whether the husband was still living with the wife. As my right hon. Friend said, those rules were introduced with reluctance, but they were necessary, and still are. Bogus marriages should be tackled. I sympathise with those women, some of whom are my constituents, who are rightly distressed and angry that they have been the victims of arranged marriages to men concerned only with gaining settlement in this country. Even if that deception was only on a small scale, it had to be stopped.

What was the result of the measures taken in March 1977? The then Minister of State was asked to provide the number of husbands who had been refused leave to remain indefinitely in the United Kingdom on the basis of marriage to a woman settled here in the two years ending 31 March 1971. That number was only 356 out of nearly 11,600 applications, and of those 356 only 120 were husbands from the Indian sub-continent. The deception was and is on a small scale, and it is being detected and dealt with.

Have the Government evidence of abuses of the practice of arranged marriages that are not being dealt with by the measures started two and a half years ago? If not, there is absolutely no basis for the continued assertion that the arranged marriage is still being successfully exploited to enable men to enter this country illegally.

The White Paper is victimising many women born abroad who contract a genuine non-arranged marriage to a foreigner, as well as attacking the arranged marriage. The injustice of these proposals will lead to ridiculous anomalies.

Mention has been made of the EEC context. An Italian or German woman living and working in Halifax can bring into Britain a husband from anywhere in the world, but a woman living next door, brought to this country by her father when she was a few months old, will not have the same right although the whole family is lawfully settled here.

There could also be the case of two sisters in a family that has been settled here for over 20 years. If one sister was born here and the other was a few months old when the family arrived, they would be treated in totally different ways if they wished to marry a foreigner. Meanwhile their brother would have the absolute right to bring in a wife from anywhere in the world.

We have also heard about refugees. There are thousands of women who have come to this country as refugees from Hitler's Europe, from behind the Iron Curtain, Vietnam or anywhere else whence we receive refugees. Their parents were not born here and nor were they. They fled once in their lives. If they marry a foreigner, they must leave again, and simply because they are women.

It was a Labour Government who put on the statute book the Race Relations Act and the Sex Discrimination Act, and the proposed new rules are contrary to the spirit of both those great Acts. They are totally illogical and an attack on human rights. They are racist in purpose and sexist in effect.

I come now to one of the most sensitive areas of immigration control, that involving elderly dependants. We are dealing with old age and bereavement, isolation, dependency on grown-up children and distress. We totally reject the proposals regarding elderly dependants.

The Minister of State has publicly conveyed the impression that a husband admitted for settlement carries with him a general right of entry for other members of his family. That is a complete misrepresentation of the position, in spite of the excuse that he gave the House earlier, which appeared to be based on the opinion of a professor and not upon statistics or evidence.

It is essentially the narrow category of elderly dependent parents and grandparents only who may eventually qualify as a result of a husband being settled by way of marriage. Under the new rules it will be virtually impossible for elderly parents to settle in Britain. They must be proved to be in great poverty and to be completely alone before being allowed to join their relatives. Many of my hon. Friends have given examples of how these rules will work in practice and the Catch-22 position in which people will find themselves. And the Conservative Party is the party of the family! Asian families have a tradition of strong family ties. They believe that the young should care for the old. Surely that is something to be admired.

How many elderly parents do the Government hope to keep out by this change in the rules? Last year fewer than 1,500 were admitted to settle in Britain. If they are allowed in, do the Government envisage their causing chaos at the employment offices?

Mr. Burden

I have been trying to follow the hon. Lady's argument. When she was at the Home Office there were several occasions on which I made application for elderly parents to come and stay for a short period—three months or even less—with their children. They were prepared to give guarantees that they would return to the Indian sub-continent at the end of that period. They were refused permission to enter.

Dr. Summerskill

The hon. Gentleman has not grasped the point. We are saying that the present rules are firm and that we do not wish excessively restrictive and inflexible rules to be put in their place which will cause great personal distress. Of all the immigration rules, I feel that those relating to the elderly should be considered with the greatest humanity and compassion.

There are similarly restrictive rules being introduced concerning young people, children between the ages of 18 and 21. How many youngsters a year do the Government hope to keep out of Britain by the new measures? I suggest that it will be insignificant compared to the distress in the families affected, quite apart from the anomaly connected with the EEC regulations.

Other rules for visitors, foreign students and businessmen are so excessively bureaucratic that they will victimise the careless far more often than they will identify abuse. If the Government will not listen to our views, they should listen to the Joint Committee Against Racialism, which is an alliance of the three main political parties and of religious and immigrant groups. It is a responsible and respected body. It says that the proposals are extremely disturbing, discriminatory and will damage racial harmony. The new rules are opposed by the Churches. They are opposed by the Commission for Racial Equality, which says that several of the proposed changes are harsh, unnecessary and undesirable. The Government will find that many hon. Members will make more representations than ever before if the new rules are to receive the compassion, humanity and fairness which will be required.

The Home Secretary should practise what he preached when he said in 1976: I hope that the Government"— that is, the previous Labour Government— will actively seek the co-operation of the representatives of the various ethnic minority groups in this country."—[Official Report, 5 July 1976; Vol. 914, c. 971.] I assure the right hon. Gentleman that the new rules are actively seeking non-co-operation. They may be welcomed in Bath and Bournemouth, but they will not be welcomed in Birmingham and Bradford.

We should concentrate on other aspects of improving race relations, and the new rules are not the way to do it. We should implement the Race Relations Act and find a fair way of treating those already settled here. I assure the House that the existing immigration controls are as firm, as humane and compassionate administration permits.

The changes will have only a marginal effect on the numbers kept out, and restricting the number allowed to enter is apparently the object of the exercise. However, the rules will create feelings of resentment and insecurity among minority communities and will cause unnecessary hardship and distress and lead to a deterioration in race relations.

Furthermore, the White Paper contains shameful and inexcusable rules that discriminate against women. That is why we shall vote against it and in favour of our amendment.

9.31 pm
The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Timothy Raison)

This has been a debate not only of divergent views but of a combination of broad themes and specific points. I hope that the House will understand if I start with some of the specific points and move on to the broad themes, particularly the question of husbands and fiances, which has clearly been the major theme in the debate.

The right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) made a number of specific points and asked a number of questions. I shall answer some of them, but I hope that he will understand if I do not answer them all; there was rather a lot. I shall also pick up one or two of the right hon. Gentleman's points that have a general bearing on the course of the debate.

The right hon. Gentleman and a number of my hon. Friends said that when the nationality Bill is introduced it will deal with sex equality. Having just looked at the right hon. Gentleman's Green Paper on a nationality Act, I do not think that anyone could say that it was a clarion call for sex equality. It paid some obeisance towards sex equality but was much more eloquent in pointing out the difficulties and complications involved than in giving clear-cut answers. However, I accept that it is an important point. It was also raised by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Fylde (Mr. Gardner).

I cannot at this stage say exactly what we shall put in the White Paper that my right hon. Friend announced earlier, but there is no doubt that we are bound to give careful consideration to the whole question of securing equal treatment between the sexes. By any standards, that will be an important development in this area.

The right hon. Member for Leeds, South and other hon. Members raised the implications of our membership of the EEC. It is true that a woman who is an EEC national who comes here to work may bring her husband with her. If he is not an EEC national, she would be better placed than women citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies whose husbands are excluded under the new rules. But that is inevitable in view of our obligations as a Community member. That point is of theoretical interest only. Few women from other EEC countries are likely to seek to import non-EEC husbands in that way. Nor is there any evidence of exploitation of the provisions.

The right hon. Member for Leeds, South and a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House raised what is often described as the Catch-22 position of aged parents. It is not possible to estimate precisely how many will be able to come under the new proposals. It seems reasonable to suppose that the numbers will be small—I accept that—and that they may be extremely small.

We shall consider the argument that the combination of the dependency requirement with the standard of living criterion makes it too difficult for parents to come. I cannot say more than that, but I hope that the House will feel that we have listened very carefully to this point in the debate.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

Is it not a fact that under the existing rules it is already extremely difficult for aged parents to come? Not only must money be sent but the tribunal has shown on a number of occasions that it is necessary to satisfy the tribunal that the money is necessary for the parents' upkeep. The number of people who have been allowed to come in as aged parents has been very small indeed.

Mr. Raison

That may be true, but I have just said that we shall consider the points raised in the debate, and I cannot see the point of the hon. Gentle-man's intervention.

With regard to au pairs and the decision to restrict entry to Western European au pairs, the original concept of the au pair arrangement was that daughters above school age of families in this country and abroad changed places for a year or two, that each was treated as a member of the host family helping with small jobs about the house, as a daughter in her late teens or early twenties would usually be expected to do, and would take the opportunity to learn the host's language and something of the way of life in that country.

For many years now, this arrangement has, by tradition, been a European one. Girls who come from further a field are open to exploitation, especially now, when it is impossible to obtain work permits for resident domestics. We do not restrict the entry of au pairs from EEC countries, from which a large proportion of au pairs come. The restriction is not new in principle. The previous Government issued work permits for domestic employment only to West Europeans.

I have been asked what evidence there is of abuse of the au pair arrangement by girls who are not West Europeans. We do not keep separate figures of refusals of au pairs, but since the issue of work permits for resident domestics was restricted earlier this year to West Europeans there has been a good deal of pressure to admit, as au pairs, girls from the countries which were so excluded.

The question of refugees was raised by the right hon. Member for Leeds, South and also by the right hon. Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Ennals). I was asked whether the changes relating to refugees—which I think the right hon. Member for Leeds, South welcomed broadly—would make the rules more restrictive. They would not. The changes are designed solely to bring the rules more into line with the provisions of the convention relating to the status of refugees and with current practice.

The right hon. Member for Norwich, North gave broad support for the changes that we have introduced. I note that he believes that we should have gone further. I think he knows that we have already considered very carefully additional matters that he would have liked us to cover in the rules. It is fair to say that the right hon. Gentleman also considered them when his party was in power. We have concluded that the changes in the White Paper are as far as we can reasonably go.

I want to clear up a point which arose out of exchanges on my right hon. Friend's statement the other day concerning visitors coming here to meet fiancees. I have been asked for clarification of the reply that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary gave, on my advice, to a supplementary question from the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Mitchell). The hon. Member asked under which section of the Immigration Rules a fiance would be allowed to come here to meet his intended wife. My right hon. Friend replied that a fiance could come as a visitor.

That is the position under the current rules, and it will remain open under the new proposals for any fiance who persuades the immigration officer that he intends to return to his own country at the end of his visit to enter as a visitor under paragraph 17 of the draft rules in the White Paper. But it is certainly not our intention that the new rules should be circumvented by the entry as visitors of people who do not qualify to come as fiances, with a view to settlement after marriage.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that no immigration officer will accept that a person who is coming here as an intended fiance is a person who will leave at the end of his visit, and that therefore those visits are always refused?

Mr. Raison

Under the new rules, the situation will obviously be somewhat different. There will be a defined requirement for people to have met. I believe that immigration officers, when they are satisfied that the application is genuine, will recognise that it will be reasonable for people to come here with a view to meeting their intended fiancé so long as they do not try to queue-jump by remaining after that has happened. There is absolutely nothing in the rules to prevent that happening.

I turn to another point that arises out of the question of finances, and that is the question of siblings born in different places. Obviously, it is inherent in the Government's proposals that those born in different places will be treated differently. One must acknowledge that. However, I should add that difficult cases can be considered for exceptional treatment outside the rules. Indeed, it is one of the characteristics of our system that there is very wide discretion to the Home Secretary in effect to take any decision that he wishes outside the rules.

I have tried to answer some of the detailed points. I should now like to turn to the broad and important question of husbands and male fiancés. Obviously, this is the area in which there has been most disagreement. I acknowledge that some of the disagreement has come from my own side. We heard what the whole House will recognise as an impressive speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Mr. Dorrell). I do not agree with what he said, but he spoke honestly and with courage. Others of my hon. Friends also made their views clear.

The Opposition amendment refers to the equal rights of all British citizens legally settled here…whatever their race, colour or creed". Oddly enough, as has been pointed out already, it does not mention sex under those categories, no more than did our manifesto. It is quite clear, of course, why neither the Opposition amendment nor our manifesto mentions sex, because we know perfectly well that sex equality does not exist under our nationality and immigration laws. They are not based on sex, and that is a fact that must be recognised.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

But the law in this country under the Sex Discrimination Act is very clear, and equality before the law covers that as well.

Mr. Raison

With respect, the law in this area is not covered by the Sex Discrimination Act. It is covered by the Immigration Act and the Nationality Act. Those are the laws under which we must operate in the area about which we are talking. That is an inescapable fact.

I remind the House that in our manifesto we gave clear notice that we intended to tackle the problems of husbands and fiances. Of course, we said then that we would go back to the pre-1974 arrangements which, as the House knows, was introduced by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan). It may be asked why we need the new additional restriction that we are proposing. As we have said to the House time and again, there is a general aim simply of reducing numbers.

It is proper to remind the House of what my right hon. Friend said earlier—that numbers are a serious factor in this respect. In 1973, no more than 200 husbands from the new Commonwealth and Pakistan were accepted for settlement, whether on arrival or because of removal of the time limit. By 1976, after the change had taken place in 1974, that figure had risen to more than 6,300. Since then, there has been a small drop because of the greater priority that has been given to dependent wives and children. In the 12 months to mid-1979, the equivalent figure was 5,600. However, the number of applications in the pipeline shows that the pressure remains unabated. At the end of October there were about 6,000 husbands and fiances in the sub-continent queues.

Therefore, there is a real pressure to come in here. As a result, our belief that this is one of the ways of controlling immigration and of removing numbers, not in spectacular quantities but in real quantities, is, I believe, justified. In addition, as the House knows, we have a particular aim, which is to cut back on primary male immigration. What do we mean by primary male immigration? What is the difference between that and the immigration of women? That was a question asked by the hon. Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill).

There is a significant difference, apart from the sex difference, because it is generally true that the young man seeking to come to the United Kingdom for the purpose of marriage is economically motivated. The reason why women come here is not primarily economic but so that they can build a family. It would be fair to say that the attitude of the two sexes in this respect—if I am allowed to say it nowadays—is different. That certainly underlies our approach to this matter.

Dr. Hampson

Surely my hon. Friend must accept, in view of the figures he sent to me in a parliamentary answer, that three times as many females as males from the Indian sub-continent arrive in this country. Those women go to the highly populated and industrialised centres and produce children, many of whom are males who enter the labour force.

Mr. Raison

I accept that fact, which is well known. However, I see nothing discreditable about our willingness, over the years, to admit wives and children. It is morally right, and the fact that it is a statutory requirement is inescapable. I have already said that there are elements of discrimination in our present law, but much greater hardship would be entailed if we said that we would not admit wives and children than is contained in the decision we are putting forward today.

Dr. Summerskill

This is a very important point. Why is it morally right to allow in wives but not morally right to allow in husbands?

Mr. Raison

I have already tried to meet that point by saying that I believe that there is a difference between the migration of young men, whose motivation is primarily economic, and the migration of women who come here to build up their families. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Halifax wishes us to change our attitude towards women and children. I hope that she does not. But there is a difference and there are practical consequences.

I have no doubt that marriage is used as a means of securing entry. What we are concerned about is not what might be called the normal to-and-fro movement by which young people may meet, marry and seek to live in the country of one or the other; we are talking of a predominantly one-way traffic. From my recent visit to the Indian sub-continent, I know that that happens. I have heard, on a number of occasions, young men who were seeking to come to the United Kingdom for the purpose of marriage openly and frankly say that their objective was economic. They have said that the reason why they wish to marry somebody whom they have never met and about whom they know very little is that it is the only way in which they can secure entry into the United Kingdom. There is absolutel y no doubt about that. Any Opposition Member who doubts that should go to the Indian sub-continent and listen to some of the interviews that take place.

I should also make it quite clear that we are not talking about the bogus marriage of convenience. We have said this over and over again, in spite of which the hon. Member for Halifax still did not seem to understand. The right hon. Member for Leeds, South tried to deal with this matter through his change in the rules in 1977. As a result of that, a few hundred marriages a year are being caught.

Mr. Stanley Cohen(Leeds, South-East) rose—

Mr. Speaker

Order, The Minister is not giving way; therefore, the hon. Gentleman must resume his seat.

Mr. Raison

We are not talking about the marriage of convenience that takes place purely to secure entry and then collapses. That is dealt with under the present rules, if somewhat imperfectly. We are talking about marriages that may last but are merely for the purpose of immigration. This happens at present, and the question that we had to face was how to deal with it.

In our manifesto we talked of going back to the 1969–74 approach to this problem. Broadly, that was the approach of blocking the lot. On examination we felt that this was not the right answer. For one thing, the hardship provision, which was an ingredient of the old rules, and which meant that girls did not have to live abroad if it meant a lower standard of living, was not really workable in current circumstances. At the same time we had to face the fact that nowadays it is unacceptable to stop British-born girls who marry men from overseas from living here. There is no doubt that throughout the country that point of view has been put over very strongly, and we have had to take account of it.

The same applies to British girls who have been born overseas fortuitously. My right hon. Friend has made it clear that he understands this problem well and that he proposes to alter the draft rule to ensure that these girls will count as British-born in this respect as long as one of their parents is a United Kingdom and colonies citizen who was born here. My right hon. Friend is anxious that any anxieties that exist on this matter should not continue, because we are determined to meet the problems. It may well be that others will have to be dealt with under discretion, because it is difficult to shape the rules. But the situation of daughters of Crown servants, business men and so on will be considered sympathetically.

The point has been raised about the distinction between those citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies who are born here and those who are born overseas but are registered or naturalised citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies. In putting forward these proposals, we are recognising essentially that those who have always had a substantial connection with this country and who see it as their country of origin will be able to bring in their husbands. If we said that all citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies could bring in their husbands, that would effectively permit the bulk of husbands and male fiances to come in. After all, all girls who are settled here, even if they are not at present citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies, would in time be able to register or be naturalised. Therefore, to adopt this approach would be virtually meaningless.

I must stress that Asian girls born in this country who are citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies are in exactly the same position as white girls born here. Obviously the numbers of those will increase as the years go by.

Some hon. Members inclined to the view that our proposals are in some way more sympathetic to the Asian community. I stress that compared with the 1969–74 situation our new proposals mean that more Asian girls will be able to bring in their husbands, provided that they meet the marriage or immigration conditions.

It is argued that our proposals should be the same for both sexes. But, if we are to tackle immigration problems through marriage, this is not possible under existing legislation. Section 2(2) of the Immigration Act 1971 provides that women citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies marrying men with the right of abode in this country thereby acquire that right of abode themselves. However, the opposite is not true. Secondly, under the British Nationality Act 1948 any wife of a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies may also register as a citizen and acquire abode if her husband is patrial under the 1971 Act. Thirdly, under the 1971 Act the wives of Commonwealth citizens here before 1 January 1973 have their pre-1973 position preserved. All these conditions apply only to wives. On the other hand, it is obvious that they would, in effect, also apply to female fiancees who would have the chance to marry and secure the status which is secured by this legislation. Therefore, it is very difficult to produce something that is identical for the two sexes.

What about the criticism put forward that we are in some way attacking the culture of the sub-continent by our conditions which restrict marriage for immigration purposes? I believe that fundamentally this restriction on marriage for the purpose of immigration is reasonable. After all, that is not what arranged marriages exist to provide.

Arranged marriages are not intended to create the opportunity for people to move to another country. There may be deep-seated cultural reasons for them, but we are not tackling that problem. It seems to me that the requirement that two people should have met before they marry is eminently reasonable. Whatever we may think of arranged marriages, I doubt whether it is right to have an arranged marriage when the partners have never met. In recent weeks I have met large numbers of Asian women. Many of them, when describing what they regard as a satisfactory arranged marriage, agreed that the bride and bridegroom should meet before marriage. We in the Home Office, and in our posts overseas, receive heart-rending letters from girls who do not wish their fiancés to be allowed in.

Mr. Cyril Smith

How many?

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) knows that it is wrong to shout from a sedentary position when someone else is speaking. I call the Minister to continue.

Mr. Cyril Smith

How many letters did the Minister receive? Did he—

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is clear that the Minister is not giving way.

Mr. Raison

We shall consider carefully the points made in the debate. This has been a debate about a White Paper, not about the final rules. While our position may unquestionably offend some people in terms of theory or theology, in practice is based on common-sense realities.

The proposals will not result in great hardship. Exceptional cases of hardship can be dealt with under the discretion of the Home Secretary. Our proposals will help to seal off an avenue of

primary immigration. That is important.

Our package will not satisfy everyone in every respect. I recognise that. Having listened to the debate, I realise that some of my hon. Friends would have liked a great deal more and others would have liked less. I claim that our proposals will effect a significant reduction in the number of immigrants. They will help to contain the possibility of large-scale future migration into this country.

I return to the issue of husbands and fiancés. We must recognise that in Bangladesh, for example, there is no great demand by husbands and fiancés to be allowed to come here. The figures are small. That is because of the period in which the migration occurred and the young marriageable age group came on to the scene.

Our proposals tackle real abuses. That was made clear by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who said that the proposals get to grips with the problem of overstaying, which will be one of our principal difficulties in the future.

I am certain that, above all, the proposals maintain our pledges to wives and families. I believe that we have got it right. To pull this package to pieces would be damaging to immigration policy and race relations. This issue has aroused deep feelings. Immigration always does that. We have a chance to move away from the prolonged wrangle and to move on to a period of positive race relations, about which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has spoken so often and so eloquently. I ask the House to support the White Paper and to reject the Opposition amendment.

Question put, That the amendment be made: —

The House divided: Ayes 251, Noes 296.

Division No.117] AYES [10 pm
Adams, Allen Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)
Allaun, Frank Beith, A. J. Brown, Ron (Edinburgh, Leith)
Alton, David Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Buchan, Norman
Anderson, Donald Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Bidwell, Sydney Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ernest Booth, Rt Hon Albert Campbell, Ian
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Boothroyd, Miss Betty Campbell-Savours, Dale
Ashton, Joe Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur (M'brough) Canavan, Dennis
Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham) Bray, Dr Jeremy Cant, R. B.
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Brown, Hugh D. (Proven) Carter-Jones, Lewis
Cartwright, John Hooley, Frank Price, Christopher (Lewisham West)
Clark, David (South Shields) Horam, John Race, Reg
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H) Radice, Giles
Cohen, Stanley Howells, Geraint Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds South)
Coleman, Donald Huckfield, Les Richardson, Miss Jo
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Hudson Davies, Gwilym Ednyfed Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Cowans, Harry Hughes, Mark (Durham) Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Crowther, J. S. Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen North) Roberts, Ernest (Hackney North)
Cryer, Bob Hughes, Roy (Newport) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Janner, Hon Greville Robertson, George
Cunningham, George (Islington S) Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW)
Dalyell, Tam John, Brynmor Rodgers, Rt Hon William
Davidson, Arthur Johnson, James (Hull West) Rooker, J. W.
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Johnson, Walter (Derby South) Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney Central) Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rhondda) Rowlands, Ted
Davis, Terry (B'rm'ham, Stechford) Jones, Barry (East Flint) Ryman, John
Deakins, Eric Jones, Dan (Burnley) Sandelson, Neville
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Sever, John
Dempsey, James Kerr, Russell Sheerman, Barry
Dewar, Donald Kilroy-Silk, Robert Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert (A'ton-u-L)
Dixon, Donald Kinnock, Neil Shore, Rt Hon Peter (Step and Pop)
Dobson, Frank Lamble, David Short, Mrs Renée
Dormand, Jack Lamborn, Harry Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Douglas, Dick Lamond, James Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Leadbitter, Ted Silverman, Julius
Dubs, Alfred Leighton,, Ronald Skinner, Dennis
Duffy, A. E. P. Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Dunn, James A. (Liverpool, Kirkdale) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Smith, Rt Hon J. (North Lanarkshire)
Dunnett, Jack Litherland, Robert Snape, Peter
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth Lofthouse, Geoffrey Soley, Clive
Eadie, Alex Lyon, Alexander (York) Spearing, Nigel
Eastham, Ken Lyons, Edward (Bradford West) Stallard, A. W.
Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) McCartney, Hugh Steel, Rt Hon David
Ellis, Raymond (NE Derbyshire) McDonald, Dr Oonagh Stewart, Rt Hon Donald (W Isles)
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) McElhone, Frank Stoddart, David
English, Michael McKay, Allen (Penistone) Stott, Roger
Ennals, Rt Hon David McKelvey, William Strang, Gavin
Evans, loan (Aberdare) MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Straw, Jack
Ewing, Harry Maclennan, Robert Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Field, Frank McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, Central) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton West)
Fitch, Alan McNally, Thomas Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Flannery, Martin McWilliam, John Thomas, Mike (Newcastle East)
Fletcher, L. R. (llkeston) Magee, Bryan Thomas, Dr Roger (Carmarthen)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Marks, Kenneth Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Marshall, David (Gl'sgow,Shettles'n) Tilley, John
Ford, Ben Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Torney, Tom
Forrester, John Marshall, Jim (Leicester South) Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Foulkes, George Martin, Michael (Gl'gow, Springb'rn) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Fraser, John (Lambeth, Norwood) Mason, Rt Hon Roy Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Maxton, John Walker, Rt Hon Harold (Doncaster)
Freud, Clement Maynard, Miss Joan Watkins, David
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Meacher, Michael Weetch, Ken
Garrett, W. E (Wallsend) Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Wellbeloved, James
George, Bruce Mikardo, Ian Welsh, Michael
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Millan, Rt Hon Bruce White, Frank R. (Bury & Radcliffe)
Ginsburg, David Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby) White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Golding, John Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Whitlock, William
Gourlay, Harry Morris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wythenshawe) Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Graham, Ted Morris, Rt Hon Charles (Openshaw) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Grant, George (Morpeth) Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon) Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Grant, John (Islington C) Moyle, Rt Hon Roland Wilson, Gordon (Dundee East)
Grimond, Rt Hon J. Newens, Stanley Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Ogden, Eric Winnick, David
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter O'Halloran, Michael Woodall, Alec
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith O'Neill, Martin Woolmer, Kenneth
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Wrigglesworth, Ian
Haynes, Frank Palmer, Arthur Wright, Sheila
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Park, George Young, David (Bolton East)
Heffer, Eric S. Parker, John
Hogg, Norman (E Dunbartonshire) Parry, Robert TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Holland, Stuart (L'beth, Vauxhall) Pendry, Tom Mr. John Evans and
Home Robertson, John Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Mr. George Morton.
Homewood, William Prescott, John
Adley, Robert Atkinson, David (B'mouth East) Best, Keith
Alexander, Richard Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Bevan, David Gilroy
Alison, Michael Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset) Biggs-Davison, John
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Blackburn, John
Ancram, Michael Bell, Ronald Blaker, Peter
Arnold, Tom Bendall, Vivian Body, Richard
Aspinwall, Jack Benyon, Thomas (Abingdon) Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Boscawen, Hon Robert
Bowden, Andrew Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Myles, David
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Hampson, Dr Keith Neale, Gerrard
Bradford, Rev. R. Hannam,John Needham, Richard
Braine, Sir Bernard Haselhurst, Alan Nelson, Anthony
Bright, Graham Hastings, Stephen Neubert, Michael
Brinton, Tim Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Newton, Tony
Brittan, Leon Hawksley, Warren Normanton, Tom
Brooke, Hon Peter Hayhoe, Barney Nott, Rt Hon John
Brotherton, Michael Heath, Rt Hon Edward Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs Sally
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'thorpe) Heddle, John Osborn, John
Browne, John (Winchester) Henderson, Barry Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Bruce-Gardyne, John Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Parkinson, Cecil
Bryan, Sir Paul Hicks, Robert Parris, Matthew
Buchanan-Smith, Hon Alick Hogg, Hon Douglas (Grantham) Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Buck, Antony Holland, Philip (Carlton) Patten, John (Oxford)
Budgen, Nick Hooson, Tom Pattie, Geoffrey
Bulmer, Esmond Hordern, Peter Pawsey, James
Burden, F. A. Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Percival, Sir Ian
Butcher, John Howell, Rt Hon David (Guildford) Peyton, Rt Hon John
Butler, Hon Adam Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Pink, R. Bonner
Cadbury, Jocelyn Hunt, David (Wirral) Pollock, Alexander
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Porter, George
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hurd, Hon Douglas Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch (S Down)
Carlisle, Rt Hon Mark (Runcorn) Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Jenkln, Rt Hon Patrick Price, David (Eastleigh)
Channon, Paul Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Prior, Rt Hon James
Chapman, Sydney Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Proctor, K. Harvey
Churchill, W. S. Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Clark, Hon Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Kaberry, Sir Donald Raison, Timothy
Clark, Dr William (Croydon South) Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Rathbone, Tim
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Kilfedder, James A. Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)
Clegg, Walter Kimball, Marcus Rees-Davies, W. R.
Cockeram, Eric King, Rt Hon Tom Renton, Tim
Colvin, Michael Kitson, Sir Timothy Rhodes James, Robert
Cope, John Knox, David Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Corrie, John Lamont, Norman Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Costain, A. P. Lang, Ian Ridsdale, Julian
Cranborne, Viscount Langford-Holt, Sir John Rifkind, Malcolm
Critchley, Julian Latham, Michael Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Crouch, David Lawrence, Ivan Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Lawson, Nigel Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Dover, Denshore Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Ross, Win. (Londonderry)
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Lester, Jim (Beeston) Rossi, Hugh
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Rost, Peter
Durant, Tony Lloyd, Ian (Havant & Waterloo) Royle, Sir Anthony
Dykes, Hugh Loveridge, John Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Luce, Richard St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon Norman
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (Pembroke) Lyell, Nicholas Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Eggar, Timothy McAdden, Sir Stephen Shelton, William (Streatham)
Elliott, Sir William McCrindle, Robert Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Emery, Peter Macfarlane, Neil Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge-Br'hills)
Eyre, Reginald MacGregor, John Shersby, Michael
Fairbairn, Nicholas MacKay, John (Argyll) Silvester, Fred
Fairgrieve, Russell Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Sims, Roger
Faith, Mrs Sheila McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury) Speed, Keith
Farr, John McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest) Speller, Tony
Fell, Anthony Madel, David Spence, John
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Major, John Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Finsberg, Geoffrey Marland, Paul Spicer, Michael (S Worcestershire)
Fisher, Sir Nigel Marlow, Tony Sproat, Iain
Fletcher, Alexander (Edinburgh N) Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Stanbrook, Ivor
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Mather, Carol Stanley, John
Forman, Nigel Maude, Rt Hon Angus Steen, Anthony
Stevens, Martin
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Mawby, Ray Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Fox, Marcus Mawhinney, Dr Brian Stewart, John (East Renfrewshire)
Fraser, Peter (South Angus) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Stradling Thomas, J.
Fry, Peter Mayhew, Patrick Tapsell, Peter
Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Mellor, David Taylor, Robert (Croydon NW)
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Meyer, Sir Anthony Tebbit, Norman
Gardner, Edward (South Fylde) Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove & Redditch) Temple-Morris, Peter
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Mills, lain (Meriden) Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Glyn, Dr Alan Mills, Peter (West Devon) Thomas, Rt Hon Peter (Hendon S)
Goodhart, Philip Miscampbell, Norman Thompson, Donald
Goodhew, Victor Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Thorne, Neil (IIford South)
Gorst, John Moate, Roger Thornton, Malcolm
Gow, Ian Molyneux, James Townend, John (Bridlington)
Gower, Sir Raymond Monro, Hector Trippier, David
Gray, Hamish Montgomery, Fergus Trotter, Neville
Greenway, Harry Moore, John Van Straubenzee, W. R.
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St Edmunds) Morgan, Geraint Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Morris, Michael (Northampton, Sth) Viggers, Peter
Grist, Ian Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes) Waddington, David
Grylls, Michael Morrison, Hon Peter (City of Chester) Wakeham, John
Gummer, John Selwyn Mudd, David Waldegrave, Hon William
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Eps'm&Ew'll) Murphy, Christopher Walker, Rt Hon Peter (Worcester)
Walker, Bill (Perth & E Perthshire) Wheeler, John Young, Sir George (Acton)
Walker-Smith. Rt Hon Sir Derek Whitelaw, Rt Hon William Younger, Rt Hon George
Wall, Patrick Whitney, Raymond
Walters, Dennis Wickenden, Keith TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Ward, John Wiggin, Jerry Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and
Wells, John (Maidstone) Williams, Delwyn (Montgomery) Mr. Anthony Berry.
Wells, Bowen (Hert'rd & Stev'nage) Wolfson, Mark

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put: —

The House divided: Ayes 294, Noes 252.

Division No. 118] AYES [10.16 pm
Adley, Robert Edwards, Rt Hon N. (Pembroke) Knox, David
Alexander, Richard Eggar, Timothy Lamont, Norman
Alison, Michael Elliott, Sir William Lang, Ian
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Emery, Peter Langford-Holt, Sir John
Ancram, Michael Eyre, Reginald Latham, Michael
Arnold, Tom Fairbairn, Nicholas Lawrence, Ivan
Aspinwall, Jack Fairgrieve, Russell Lawson, Nigel
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Faith, Mrs Sheila Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Atkinson, David (B'mouth East) Farr, John Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Fell, Anthony Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset) Fenner, Mrs Peggy Lloyd, Ian (Havant & Waterloo)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Finsberg, Geoffrey Loveridge, John
Bell, Ronald Fisher, Sir Nigel Luce, Richard
Bendall, Vivian Fletcher, Alexander (Edinburgh N) Lyell, Nicholas
Benyon, Thomas (Abingdon) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles McAdden, Sir Stephen
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Forman, Nigel McCrindle, Robert
Best, Keith Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Macfarlane, Neil
Bevan, David Gilroy Fox, Marcus MacGregor, John
Biggs-Davison, John Fraser, Peter (South Angus) MacKay, John (Argyll)
Blackburn, John Fry, Peter Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)
Blaker, Peter Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury)
Body, Richard Gardiner, George (Reigate) McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Gardner, Edward (South Fylde) Madel, David
Boscawen, Hon Robert Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Major, John
Bowden, Andrew Glyn, Dr Alan Marland, Paul
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Goodhart, Philip Marlow, Tony
Bradford, Rev. R. Goodhew, Victor Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Braine, Sir Bernard Gorst, John Mather, Carol
Bright, Graham Gow, Ian Maude, Rt Hon Angus
Brinton, Tim Gower, Sir Raymond Mawby, Ray
Brittan Leon Gray, Hamish Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Brooke, Hon Peter Greenway, Harry Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Brotherton, Michael Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St Edmunds) Mayhew, Patrick
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'thorpe) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Mellor, David
Browne, John (Winchester) Grist, Ian Meyer, Sir Anthony
Bruce-Gardyne, John Grylls, Michael Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove & Redditch)
Bryan, Sir Paul Gummer, John Selwyn Mills, lain (Meriden)
Buchanan-Smith, Hon Alick Hamilton, Hon Archie (Eps'm&Ew'll) Mills, Peter (West Devon)
Buck, Antony Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Miscampbell, Norman
Budgen, Nick Hampson, Dr Keith Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Bulmer, Esmond Hannam, John Moate, Roger
Burden, F. A. Haselhurst, Alan Molyneux, James
Butcher, John Hastings, Stephen Monro, Hector
Butler, Hon Adam Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Montgomery, Fergus
Cadbury, Jocelyn Hawksley, Warren Moore, John
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Hayhoe, Barney Morgan, Geraint
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Heath, Rt Hon Edward Morris, Michael (Northampton, Sth)
Carlisle, Rt Hon Mark (Runcorn) Heddle, John Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes)
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Henderson, Barry Morrison, Hon Peter (City of Chester)
Channon, Paul Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Mudd, David
Chapman, Sydney Hicks, Robert Murphy, Christopher
Churchill, W. S. Holland, Philip (Carlton) Myles, David
Clark, Hon Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Hooson, Tom. Neale, Gerrard
Clark, Dr William (Croydon South) Hordern, Peter Needham, Richard
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Nelson, Anthony
Clegg, Walter Howell, Rt Hon David (Guildford) Neubert, Michael
Cockeram, Eric Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Newton, Tony
Colvin, Michael Hunt, David (Wirral) Normanton, Tom
Cope, John Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Nott, Rt Hon John
Corrie, John Hurd, Hon Douglas Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs Sally
Costain, A. P. Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Osborn, John
Cranborne, Viscount Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Critchley, Julian Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Parkinson, Cecil
Crouch, David Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Parris, Matthew
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Dover, Denshore Kaberry, Sir Donald Patten, John (Oxford)
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Pattie, Geoffrey
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Kilfedder, James A. Pawsey, James
Durant, Tony Kimball, Marcus Percival, Sir Ian
Dykes, Hugh King, Rt Hon Tom Peyton, Rt Hon John
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Kitson, Sir Timothy Pink, R. Bonner
Pollock, Alexander Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Trippler, David
Porter, George Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge-Br'hills) Trotter, Neville
Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch (S Down) Shersby, Michael Van Straubenzee, W. R.
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Silvester, Fred Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Price, David (Eastleigh) Sims, Roger Viggers, Peter
Prior, Rt Hon James Speed, Keith Waddington, David
Proctor, K. Harvey Speller, Tony Wakeham, John
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Spence, John Waldegrave, Hon William
Raison, Timothy Spicer, Jim (West Dorset) Walker, Rt Hon Peter (Worcester)
Rathbone, Tim Spicer, Michael (S Worcestershire) Walker, Bill (Perth & E Perthshire)
Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal) Sproat, lain Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Rees-Davies, W. R. Stanbrook, Ivor Wall, Patrick
Renton, Tim Stanley, John Ward, John
Rhodes James, Robert Steen, Anthony Wells, Bowen (Hert'rd & Stev'nage)
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Stevens, Martin Wells, John (Maidstone)
Ridley, Hon Nicholas Stewart, Ian (Hitchin) Wheeler, John
Ridsdale, Julian Stewart, John (East Renfrewshire) Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Rifkind, Malcolm Stradling Thomas, J. Whitney, Raymond
Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Tapsell, Peter Wickenden, Keith
Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW) Taylor, Robert (Croydon NW) Wiggin, Jerry
Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Tebbit, Norman Williams, Delwyn (Montgomery)
Ross, Wm. (Londonderry) Temple-Morris, Peter Wolfson, Mark
Rossl, Hugh Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret Young, Sir George (Acton)
Rost, Peter Thomas, Rt Hon Peter (Hendon S) Younger, Rt Hon George
Royle, Sir Anthony Thompson, Donald
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Thorne, Neil (Ilford South) FELLERS FOR THE AYES:
St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon Norman Thornton, Malcolm Mr. Spencer Le Merchant and
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Townend, John (Bridlington) Mr. Anthony Berry
Shelton, William (Streatham)
Adams, Allen Dormant), Jack Horam, John
Allaun, Frank Douglas, Dick Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)
Alton, David Douglas-Mann, Bruce Howells, Geraint
Anderson, Donald Dubs, Alfred Huckfield, Les
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Duffy, A. E. P. Hudson Davies, Gwilym Ednyfed
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ernest Dunn, James A. (Liverpool, Kirkdale) Hughes, Mark (Durham)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Dunnett, Jack Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen North)
Ashton, Joe Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham) Eadie, Alex Janner, Hon Greville
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Eastham, Ken Jay, Rt Hon Douglas
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) John, Brynmor
Beith, A. J. Ellis, Raymond (NE Derbyshire) Johnson, James (Hull West)
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Johnson, Walter (Derby South)
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) English, Michael Johnston, Russell (Inverness)
Bidwell, Sydney Ennals, Rt Hon David Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rhondda)
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Evans, loan (Aberdare) Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Ewing, Harry Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur (M'brough) Field, Frank Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Bray, Dr Jeremy Fitch, Alan Kerr, Russell
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Flannery, Martin Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Fletcher, L. R. (Ilkeston) Kinnock, Neil
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh, Leith) Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lamble, David
Buchan, Norman Foot, Rt Hon Michael Lamborn, Harry
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Ford, Ben Lamond, James
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Forrester, John Leadbitter, Ted
Campbell, Ian Foulkes, George Leighton, Ronald
Campbell-Savours, Dale Fraser, John (Lambeth, Norwood) Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)
Canavan, Dennis Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Cant, R. B. Freud, Clement Litherland, Robert
Carmichael, Neil Garrett, John (Norwich S) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Carter-Jones, Lewis Garrett, W. E (Wallsend) Lyon, Alexander (York)
Cartwright, John George, Bruce Lyons, Edward (Bradford West)
Clark, Dr David (South Shields) Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John McCartney, Hugh
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Ginsburg, David McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Cohen, Stanley Golding, John McElhone, Frank
Coleman, Donald Gourlay, Harry McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Graham, Ted McKelvey, William
Cowans, Harry Grant, George (Morpeth) MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Crowther, J. S. Grant, John (Islington C) Maclennan, Robert
Cryer, Bob Grimond, Rt Hon J. McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, Central)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Hamilton, James (Bothwell) McNally, Thomas
Cunningham, George (Islington S) Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) McWilliam, John
Dalyell, Tam Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Magee, Bryan
Davidson, Arthur Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Marks, Kenneth
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Marshall, David (Gl'sgow.Shettles'n)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Haynes, Frank Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney Central) Healey, Rt Hon Denis Marshall, Jim (Leicester South)
Deakins, Eric Heffer, Eric S. Martin, Michael (Gl'gow, Springb'rn)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds Wed) Hogg, Norman (E Dunbartonshire) Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Dempsey, James Holland, Stuart (L'beth, Vauxhall) Maxton, John
Dewar, Donald Home Robertson, John Maynard, Miss Joan
Dlxon, Donald Homewood, William Meacher, Michael
Dobson, Frank Hooley, Frank Mellish, Rt Hon Robert
Mikardo, Ian Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW) Thomas, Mike (Newcastle East)
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Rodgers, Rt Hon William Thomas, Dr Roger (Carmarthen)
Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby) Rooker, J. W. Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Ross, Ernest (Dundee West) Tilley, John
Morris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wythenshawe) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Torney, Tom
Morris, Rt Hon Charles (Openshaw) Rowlands, Ted Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon) Ryman, John Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Morton, George Sandelson, Neville Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Moyle, Rt Hon Roland Sever, John Walker, Rt Hon Harold (Doncaster)
Newens, Stanley Sheerman, Barry Watkins, David
Oakes, Rl Hon Gordon Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert (A'ton-u-L) Weetch, Ken
Ogden, Eric Shore, Rt Hon Peter (Step and Pop) Wellbeloved, James
O'Halloran, Michael Short, Mrs Renée Welsh, Michael
O'Neill, Martin Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford) White, Frank R. (Bury & Radcliffe)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich) White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Palmer, Arthur Silverman, Julius Whitlock, William
Park, George Skinner, Dennis Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Parker, John Smith, Cyril (Rochdale) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Parry, Robert Smith, Rt Hon J. (North Lanarkshire) Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Pendry, Tom Snape, Peter Wilson, Gordon (Dundee East)
Penhaligon, David Soley, Clive Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Spearing, Nigel Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Prescott, John Stallard, A. W. Winnick, David
Price, Christopher (Lewisham West) Steel, Rt Hon David Woodall, Alec
Race, Reg Stewart, Rt Hon Donald (W Isles) Woolmer, Kenneth
Radice, Giles Stoddart, David Wrigglesworth, Ian
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds South) Stott, Roger Wright, Sheila
Richardson, Miss Jo Strang, Gavin Young, David (Bolton East)
Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Straw, Jack
Roberts, Allan (Bootle) Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney North) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton West) Mr. John Evans and
Roberts, Gwllym (Cannock) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery) Mr. Terry Davis
Robertson, George
Question accordingly agreed to.
That this House approves the White Paper on Proposals for Revision of the Immigration Rules (Cmnd. 7750).
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