HC Deb 26 July 1979 vol 971 cc869-70
11. Mr. Dubs

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to announce the proposed changes in the immigration rules.

Mr. Raison

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister indicated when replying to questions on 17 July, we intend to announce these changes soon after the Summer Recess.

Mr. Dubs

Is the Minister aware that there is grave concern throughout the country about the proposed changes? Will he give an undertaking to have the fullest possible consultations with immigrant groups and others before he announces the changes?

Mr. Raison

I am aware that there is considerable discussion about the changes, which we hope to bring forward as soon as is feasible. There is plenty of chance for representations to be made, and they are being made to my Department.

Dr. Mawhinney

My community relations council in Peterborough recently announced that it was receiving a flood of applications from people living in my constituency who were seeking British citizenship prior to the introduction of the legislation. Will the legislation have any effect on people living here who are seeking to become naturalised British citizens in advance of its being enacted?

Mr. Raison

The original question relates to the immigration rules. I think that my hon. Friend's point is to do with the nationality laws, which are another matter.

Miss Richardson

Will the Minister accept that great resentment is felt throughout the country by British wives whose foreign husbands or fiancés will probably be affected by the proposed changes in the immigration rules? They feel that it is sex discrimination, apart from anything else, and that under the present Government they are likely to be faced with permanent separation from their husbands and fiancés.

Mr. Raison

I must ask the hon. Lady to await our announcement about the changes in the immigration laws.

Mr. Dudley Smith

Will my hon. Friend pay particular attention to the fiancé racket? Is he aware that some Indians who genuinely lobbied for young men to come from the Indian subcontinent to marry their daughters here are now lobbying their Members of Parliament and the authorities for the same young men to be deported, because they have used the marriages as marriages of convenience and deserted the daughters?

Mr. Raison

One of the factors behind whatever policy changes we announce is bound to be attention to the kind of racket that my hon. Friend has described.

Dr. Summerskill

Will the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the package of measures to be announced will be debated at some length? Some of the measures can be introduced in a debate lasting an hour and a half late at night. There is considerable concern, both in the House and outside, about their content.

Mr. Raison

Changes in the immigration rules have to be brought before the House. It is possible for them to come before the House by prayer, but the length of the debate is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House.