HC Deb 15 November 1979 vol 973 cc1476-8
2. Mr. Straw

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his policy relating to the admission of male fiancés to the United Kingdom.

5. Mr. Stanbrook

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the Government's proposals for the tightening of immigration control in the United Kingdom.

18. Mr. Winnick

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now give details of the changes he intends to make in the immigration rules.

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

I made a statement about this matter yesterday.

Mr. Straw

Is the Home Secretary aware that on 9 August his hon. Friend the Minister of State suggested that, as well as the rights of immigrants into this country being restricted, the rights of Members of Parliament to take up cases on their behalf should be restricted? Can the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that in no circumstances will he countenance any restriction on the rights of Members of Parliament to take up cases on behalf of their immigrant constituents?

Mr. Whitelaw

Certainly; I entirely agree. The hon. Gentleman says "on behalf of their immigrant constituents". There are a number of cases when Members of Parliament take up cases on behalf of other Members' constituents. I question whether that is a reasonable or fair proposition.

Mr. Stanbrook

Despite the simulated fury from Opposition Benches yesterday, and the predictable hostility of the politically motivated immigrants' organisations, is my right hon. Friend aware that the country is solidly behind the Government in their determination to stamp out the immigration racket and is looking forward to the early implementation of the remainder of the programme?

Mr. Whitelaw

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his remarks.

Mr. Winnick

In view of widespread criticism, will the right hon. Gentleman rethink the proposals in the White Paper? Is it not the case that it would become virtually impossible for aged and dependent parents to join their children in the United Kingdom since any money that is sent to them will simply undermine their chances of joining their adult children?

Mr. Whitelaw

I think that the proposals about grandparents and other dependants are reasonable. They should be debated, and I shall certainly look into what the hon. Gentleman has said.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell

Following his supplementary answer to me yesterday, is the right hon. Gentleman now in a position to estimate the reduction in the intake from the new Commonwealth and Pakistan due simply to the proposals regarding male fiancés?

Mr. Whitelaw

Something of the order of 2,000. I should like to apologise to the right hon. Gentleman for not having answered the second part of his question yesterday. As to the end of the century, no one can estimate the increase, and the effect carrying on from that, if some action on these particular lines had not been taken.

Mr. Jessel

Will the condition that fiancés must have met mean that they must have met since growing up, because in some countries parents arrange engagements to marry between quite young children who may then meet? Surely that ought not to count?

Mr. Whitelaw

This is a matter that has to be considered under the rules by the immigration officer concerned in the light of each individual case.

Dr. Summerskill

Will the right hon. Gentleman clarify the position, which is still obscure, of an application under the rules that is made between the publication of yesterday's White Paper and the date when the new rules are laid before, and agreed by, Parliament? Will such an application be accepted and a decision made on it under the old rules and not the new rules, because the new rules will have no force in law until they are agreed by Parliament?

Mr. Whitelaw

I hope that I can give the hon. Lady a clear answer. I tried to yesterday, but I accept that I did not satisfy the House on this matter. I shall try again. Paragraph 13 of the introduction to the White Paper makes it clear that applications for entry will be decided on the basis of the rules in force at the time the decision is taken. An application that is made before the publication of the White Paper will, however, be decided on the basis of the existing rules, even though the decision may be taken after the new rules come into force.