HC Deb 13 November 1980 vol 992 cc597-9
5. Mr. Marlow

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce the measures promised with regard to a register and quota system for immigrants' dependants as soon as possible.

Mr. Whitelaw

Both measures require legislation to be effective. The Government decided that changes in the immigration rules and the proposed changes in nationality law should take priority.

Mr. Marlow

Since the Government, in their run-up to the election, gave a solemn and binding undertaking that a register would be introduced, and since there would be great political difficulties in implementing such measures in the run-up to a general election, can my right hon. Friend assure the House that it will be introduced in the next Queen's Speech? Failing that, does my right hon. Friend have plans to thread this piece of legislation through the undoubted political minefields that will surround him?

Mr. Whitelaw

I cannot give my hon. Friend the assurance that such proposals for legislation will be in the next Queen's Speech.

Mr. Bidwell

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that questions such as this lead to grave anxieties among the coloured population in particular and among right-minded white people? Does he recall that in the last Parliament it was found, when the present Secretary of State for Education and Science was involved in an investigation, that the proposal would be misleading and impractical in application?

Mr. Whitelaw

My hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) is entitled to ask the question. If we were to censor ourselves and never ask questions which would do harm in the country, an awful lot of questions would never be asked.

Mr. Stokes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is widespread disappointment in our own indigenous nation that the Government have so far failed to reduce immigration substantially as they promised? When will he introduce measures to that end?

Mr. Whitelaw

We introduced a change in the immigration rules, as my hon. Friend knows. I shall not anticipate the Queen's Speech, but we have made clear that we are considering proposals on nationality law. That is as far as we are going at present.

Mr. Jim Marshall

Will the Home Secretary continue to resist reactionary pressure from his Back Benchers on the need for a register and quota? Will he go even further and take steps to eliminate unofficial quotas caused by bureaucratic and administrative delays in high commissions overseas?

Mr. Whitelaw

I think that I am beginning to learn that the right position for me is to stand absolutely still where I am.

Mr. Budgen

What percentage rate of reduction in immigration, and when, does my right hon. Friend regard as sufficient to honour his pre-election pledge to bring an end to immigration as we have known it?

Mr. Whitelaw

As always, I shall of course consider my hon. Friend's proposals carefully and make up my own mind when I have considered them about the correct response.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

Now that the right hon. Gentleman knows that the two proposals are not on and that all the facts are against them, why will he not say so and put the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) out of his misery?

Mr. Whitelaw

Because I am going to stay where I am for the present.