§ 6. Mr. Marlow
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, pursuant to the reply to the hon. Member for Basildon (Mr. Proctor) on 8 June, Official Report, c. 19, he will break down the numbers of 419 immigrants who have taken advantage of schemes for assisted repatriation in each of the past five years by age group.
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Timothy Raison)
We regret that a detailed breakdown of the age groups of those who have received assistance with repatriation expenses could be provided only at disproportionate cost, but we understand that the majority of those assisted are either approaching or have attained pensionable age.
§ Mr. Marlow
Like many hon. Members, my right hon. Friend must be aware that many of these people, particularly West Indians, especially as they near pensionable age, want to go home to the land of their origin to see out their retirement. For humanitarian reasons, if for no other, will he try to ensure that the resettlement allowances available to such people are increased?
§ Mr. Raison
I am sure that many West Indians dream of going to the West Indies, just as many English people do, but I do not think that hard evidence bears out the claim that there is a large demand for repatriation to the West Indies. I do not believe that a policy of encouraging repatriation would help race relations.
§ Mr. Bidwell
Will the right hon. Gentleman reaffirm that under both Tory and Labour Governments there is no question of the mass repatriation of former immigrants who are working so hard and are such an asset to the British economy? Will he try to cut across the small enclave in his party that persistently pushes questions of this kind, which injure certain people in Northampton just as much as they injure people in my constituency?
§ Mrs. Knight
Will my right hon. Friend consider the alteration of some of the conditions on which help is available for those who wish to return to their country particularly the condition that they must be going to a job? If such people have no job here, they are perhaps keen to go back to sit in the sun. Is it not possible to allow them to do so?
§ Mr. Raison
If my hon. Friend wishes to raise a specific point of that kind, I should be willing to consider it. At present, we have no plans to change the existing system.
§ Mr. Jim Marshall
The Minister's views on this matter will be welcomed. He does a great deal to assist race relations when he refutes the kind of allegations made by his hon. Friends. Does he accept that everyone in the country, from the West Indies or wherever, wishes to see a reversal of the Government's economic policies so that the aspirations of their children in terms of jobs can be satisfied? Getting rid of that problem to the West Indies will do nothing to solve our race relations problems.
§ Mr. Raison
One of the things that strikes me about many members of our ethnic minorities is their economic good sense. Like us, they believe that Britain needs to put its economic house in order and that, when that happens, everyone, including the ethnic minorities, will gain greatly.