HC Deb 27 July 1982 vol 28 cc1034-40

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—/Mr. Boscawen.]

11.25 pm
Mr. Vivian Bendall (Ilford, North)

The debate is about a constituent, Mr. Khan who is the subject of a deportation order. I shall explain the background to the case. Mrs. Khan is not the subject of the deportation order, but she will be seriously affected by it. Mrs. Khan's family was associated with the Royal Indian Army when it was under British rule. Many of her relations served in that army. Her great uncle came here for King George VI's coronation. Over a number of generations there has been a closeness between Mrs. Khan's family and imperial service in India.

In September 1963 Mrs. Khan's father was issued with a Crown service voucher which entitled him to come to the United Kingdom. He arrived in the United Kingdom in January 1964. In December 1972 her father was registered as a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies. Mrs. Khan, formally Miss Kalsoom Bibi, came to the United Kingdom with her mother in May 1973. She was admitted for settlement on the basis that she was joining her father. She has remained in the country ever since.

In 1978 Mrs. Khan applied to be naturalised as a citizen of the United Kingdom and was interviewed in July 1979. Since then she has heard nothing of her application. All her relatives are settled here. Her mother, father and two brothers are British citizens. Her sister came here in 1973.

Clearly, Mrs. Khan is entitled to be in this country through her associations with her father in the past and what has occurred since. The real problem is that Mr. Khan will not be allowed to stay in the United Kingdom. There is an immense amount of evidence in the case. It needs compassionate and careful consideration. Mr. Khan came to the United Kingdom in June 1979, having been given permission to stay as a visitor for one month. He embarked and returned in August 1979 and was given leave to remain in Britain for six months.

In February 1980, Mr. Khan asked the Home Office for further leave to remain and in March he informed the Home Office that allegations were being made that he was the father of a child. The young lady expecting the baby was a girl named Kalsoom Bibi, who had met him at his uncle's office during his first stay in this country when she was visiting the office on business.

As the relationship progressed, Mr. Khan accepted that the expected child was his, and the couple married in March 1980. Later that month, a firm of solicitors was instructed to write to the Home Office requesting that Mr. Khan be granted leave to remain here, on the basis of his marriage.

Mr. and Mrs. Khan were interviewed by the Home Office in June 1980. The application was refused in August that year, on the ground that Kalsoom Bibi was not born in the United Kingdom and nor were either of her parents. An appeal was lodged in August and another son was born to Mrs. Khan in the following month. There were then a husband and wife and two children.

In December 1980 the Tower Hamlets law centre wrote to the Home Office asking whether Mr. Khan could be allowed to set up business in Britain. In April 1981 the Home Office replied to the effect that Mr. Khan would not be granted permission to remain in Britain to start a business, but it added that specific permission was not required after the date of the expiry of Mr. Khan's leave, which was 1 September 1980. He was advised by the law centre that he was entitled to operate a business. The centre may have given him the wrong advice, but it is clear that a sad and tragic case was developing.

The law centre did not fully explain to Mr. Khan all his entitlements and all the problems. As a result of that advice, Mr. Khan purchased a business, which is a grocery store with a private residence above. He borrowed about £15,000 from a bank to buy the business, and mortgage and other payments have to be met. In his present position, that all adds to his problems.

Mr. Khan submitted an appeal, but it was dismissed in September 1981, on the ground that the decision was in accordance with the law and immigration rules applicable to the case. I understand that there was some confusion over the appeal. The adjudicator was informed that efforts had been made to inform Mr. Khan of the date of the hearing, but without success. He tells me that he informed all the necessary agencies of his change of address. He could not present his case personally, and I always think that it is important that a person presents his own case when an adjudicator is involved.

An appeal was lodged against the adjudicator's decision, but it was refused in November 1981. The couple then approached me as their MP and I started correspondence with the Minister of State, Home Office, to try to change his mind.

The Minister stated in one letter that he was not persuaded that Mrs. Khan's ties with the United Kingdom were strong enough, but I think that I have shown that the ties of Mrs. Khan and her family with the United Kingdom are very strong. If she were forced to return to Pakistan with her husband, there would be immense problems for the whole family. Mrs. Khan's family have settled here, her relatives are here and her father has been in Crown service. Mrs. Khan's family have a long history in Britain, dating from her grandfather.

There is also the question of the Khans' business. Mr. Khan has built up a successful business. He is a popular member of the community as a result of his business activities—a local shop which gives a service to the community and which might be sadly missed if Mr. Khan were to go. That has been proved by the number of signatures that have been attached to a petition. Those are over 2,000 and are still coming in. That petition was organised by the Redbridge campaign against racism and fascism and has played an important part in alerting the local community to Mr. Khan's plight.

There is no doubt that it would be a major upheaval for Mr. and Mrs. Khan to return whence they came with their two children. There is the great possibility that Mrs. Khan, as she is entitled to do, will wish to stay in Britain with her two children. The family would then be deprived of a father, a bread winner and an earner and the country could well become financially responsible for the care of Mrs. Khan and the two remaining children. By running his own business, Mr. Khan is not taking employment from anyone else in Britain, and it is a business that has proved successful.

Therefore, I firmly believe that the Minister has the opportunity here, by means of the power in the new immigration legislation, to show some compassion towards the family by allowing Mr. Khan to remain here without setting a precedent in any way, shape or form.

Miss Jo Richardson (Barking)

The hon. Gentleman has done a great service to the House, his constituency and his constituents in having this Adjournment debate. Will he forgive me for intervening for one minute? Will he comment on the fact that it is the immigration rules that are wrong?

The hon. Gentleman has just said that he hopes that the Minister will exercise his discretion and his compassion. We hope that he will do so. However, if we did not have the rules which discriminate in a racist way against black and Asian people because on the whole white women are born here and are able to bring in their fiancés and husbands, and in a sexist way because men are able to bring in their fiancées, we would not be hearing this case at all because there would be no real problem. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will spare a word or two to comment on the operation of those rules.

Mr. Bendall

Time is short and there are several things that I want to say. I support the Government's general immigration policy, but I feel that this case has special and extenuating circumstances.

If Mr. Khan had married about two or three weeks earlier, he might well have been entitled to stay in Britain. This is a borderline case with special extenuating circumstances. I should like sincerely to ask the Minister to exercise his powers with compassion in this case because otherwise the family will break up and the Khans will have inherent problems. From what Mrs. Khan has said to me, I firmly believe that it is her desire to stay in Britain with her two children, and she may well do that.

The special extenuating circumstances make this a borderline case. It was perhaps just two or three weeks the wrong side of the legislation. Therefore, I ask the Minister to show compassion and grant Mr. Khan leave to stay in Britain.

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

I have listened with great care to the case presented by my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Bendall) as to why Mr. Mohammed Khan should be allowed to stay in this country. I acknowledge that it is a difficult case. My hon. Friend set out his arguments clearly, and among other things he has talked of the links which Mrs. Khan's family has had with the United Kingdom.

I shall deal again with the factual background because it is important. I accept that my hon. Friend set out most of it. Mr. Khan came to the United Kingdom as a visitor first in June and then in August 1979. He was given leave to enter on the second occasion for six months. In March 1980 he married Kalsoom Bibi, who was settled here, and applied to remain here with her. We refused that application in August 1980. He appealed unsuccessfully to an independent adjudicator, who upheld the decision to refuse him further stay. His application for leave to appeal against the adjudicator's decision to the immigration appeal tribunal was refused. That was last November. We then told him that he must leave the United Kingdom. He has been here since while many representations have been made on his behalf, which we have considered very carefully, but have been unable to accept.

The immigration rules provide that a man admitted in a temporary capacity, as Mr. Khan was, may be allowed to remain as a husband if, first, certain tests are satisfied which establish that the marriage is a genuine one not entered into for immigration purposes. We do not dispute that Mr. Khan satisfies these tests.

The second requirement is that the wife, as well as being settled here, should be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies who was born here or one of whose parents was born here. It is this requirement which disqualifies Mr. Khan, because Kalsoom Bibi is not a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies and was not born here; neither were her parents. Right hon. and hon. Members will recall that this was the effect of the changes we made in the immigration rules in 1980. Before the changes, any woman settled here could have her husband or fiance come here and stay here. We confined this right, as I have described, to women who had the particularly substantial connection with this country of being citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies born here or with a parent who was born here. We did so because marriage had become a major source of primary male immigration—that is, of men coming here to take work and establish households. We did not think that this continued and substantial flow could be accepted. At the same time, we recognised that women who had a suitably substantial connection with this country should not be obliged to go overseas to live with their husbands.

Mr. Bendall


Mr. Raison

No. Time is limited. We debated these rules twice in the House, and they were twice debated in the other place. I do not propose to say much about them tonight. These are the rules which Parliament endorsed.

There is one technical point that I should mention because it was raised by my hon. Friend. The new rules came into force for all decisions taken on or after 1 March 1980, unless the application had been made on or before 14 November 1979, when we published our proposals in the White Paper, or the person was already being treated in certain capacities under the old rules. The purpose of these transitional provisions was to ensure that people who were already embarked on a particular course with an expectation of staying in the United kingdom for a long time or permanently did not suffer from changes in the rules which applied to them. But which they could not have foreseen.

The Khans married on 14 March 1980. This was a fortnight after the new rules took effect, and four months after the publication of our proposals in the White Paper. Mr. Khan did not, therefore, suffer from an unforeseen change in the rules. He could not benefit from the transiotional provisins. Even if he had married two and half weeks earlier he would not have been able to benefit from the transitional provisions.

Mr. Khan's application was therefore properly refused in accordance with the rules. However, both my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and I have said many times that, in these marriage cases which do present special features, the position under the rules is not the end of the matter. We have a discretion to depart from the rules in appropriate cases, in marriage cases as in others. We therefore consider all cases carefully to see whether they have special features which warrant the exercise of discretion.

I am sure that the House will agree that our exercise of discretion must be responsible. It would be an abuse to use it so freely that the clear provisions of the rules were undermined. The proper use of discretion in my view is in support of the rules, tempering them to meet hard cases, not to defeat the rules altogether. The appeal made to me on Mr. Khan's behalf is that I should exercise discretion in his favour. That means that I must examine the strength of Kalsoom Bibi's connection with the United Kingdom and whether she would suffer undue hardship in returning to Pakistan with her husband.

I have already mentioned the Kalsoom Bibi is not a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies. She applied in August 1974 to be registered as one, but she did not meet the statutory requirements for the registration procedure. Instead she applied for naturalisation in July 1978, shortly after completing five years residence. That application was determined in January 1981 and the result was communicated to her. By that time she had been married for nearly 10 months to Mr. Khan who, of course, had no permission to remain permanently.

It is a statutory requirement that an applicant for naturalisation should intend to reside in the United Kingdom or a Colony. In view of her husband's purely temporary stay in the United Kingdom, we could not be satisfied that Mrs. Khan met that requirement, since it was clear that under the immigration rules as they stand Mr. Khan had no entitlement to remain here. Mrs. Khan's application was, therefore, refused. Mrs. Khan would not, of course, have qualified under the rules to have her husband join her, even if she were a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, because she was not born here and neither were her parents. Nor, I emphasise, is citizenship a decisive factor when we are considering the exercise of discretion. We try to examine all aspects of a woman's connection with the United Kingdom. The connection was dealt with by my hon. Friend.

Mrs. Khan came here with her parents from Pakistan in May 1973, when she was 19. She has been here now for nine years. She had been here for less than seven years when she married. Although her parents and siblings are here, she came here as an adult and spent all her formative years in Pakistan. There are two children of the marriage, one born in 1980 and the other earlier this year. I have been told, and my hon. Friend mentioned it, that if Mr. Khan is obliged to return to Pakistan, his wife and children will remain here and may become a charge on public funds. At present Mr. and Mrs. Khan run a grocery shop.

I recognise that Mr. Khan's return to Pakistan would present Kalsoom Bibi with a difficult choice whether to accompany him or to remain here. The fact remains, however, that Mr. Khan has never had any right or legitimate expectation to remain permanently. He has established himself while disputing the Home Office's decision that he should go. The application of an effective immigration control will inevitably mean frustrating the ambitions and hopes of people from overseas. We cannot accept them all. I do not feel that Mrs. Khan's position is such that it would be unreasonable to expect her to return to Pakistan to be with her husband. She was brought up in that country, and will be familiar with it. The children are not old enough to have any independent roots here.

I fear that I must tell my hon. Friend that, cogently as he has put the case to me, I am not persuaded that there would be undue hardship to Mrs. Khan in accompanying her husband to Pakistan. I do not feel that her position warrants letting him stay. Mr. Khan is therefore required to leave the United Kingdom. If he does not do so, steps will be taken to deport him. In that event, he would of course have the right to put his case to an adjudicator on appeal against the decision to deport him. Although my hon. Friend argued his case cogently, I cannot accept what he said.

Question put and agreed to.

House adjourned accordingly at twelve minutes to Twelve o'clock.