HC Deb 25 January 1979 vol 961 cc651-2
1. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many refugees from Zimbabwe were granted permission to reside in the United Kingdom in 1977 and 1978 to date.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Brynmor John)

I regret that the information is not available in the form requested.

Mr. Hooley

Can my hon. Friend give an assurance that Zimbabwean students who complete their courses in this country, and who would be in physical danger if required to return to Zimbabwe, may be given reasonable opportunity to seek employment whilst still in the United Kingdom so that they are not left in legal and social limbo?

Mr. John

We are urgently considering that point and hope to be able to give an answer in the very near future.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Will the Minister bear in mind that no student returning to Rhodesia after his studies here could possibly be in any danger other than from nationalist terrorists?

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

May I press my hon. Friend a little further on that matter? Already there are many Africans over here—some are students and some are here in other capacities—who find it extremely difficult to live and it is essential that if he takes a decision—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is making a statement. He must ask a question.

Mr. Lyon

I thought that I began, Mr. Speaker, by asking whether I might press the Minister further.

Mr. Speaker

That question was addressed to me.

Mr. Lyon

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. I know that all questions are addressed to you. May I ask whether the Minister will make a public statement so that the anxieties of these people can be alleviated?

Mr. John

Yes, Sir, certainly. I hope to make this a public statement.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Is my hon. Friend aware that an increasing number of refugees from Zimbabwe come here because they are in fear for their lives at the hands of the thugs of both the Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole and Bishop Abel Muzorewa? Will the Minister undertake to treat these applications for refugee status very favourably?

Mr. John

What I can tell my hon. Friend is that no one in that category will be sent away without ministerial authority. I think that that guarantees a sympathetic consideration of each case.