§ Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)
I beg to move,That this House regrets the increasingly repressive operation of immigration regulations; and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to implement such regulations in future in a way which is consistent with the standards of humanity, compassion and respect for family life in a civilised community.I propose to attempt to substantiate three specific charges against the Government's immigration policy as devised and implemented during the past three years. However, before I advance those charges I must express dismay and astonishment at the terms of the Government's amendment to the motion. A review of immigration regulations is said to be in progress, partly as a consequence of the new British Nationality Act. A consultation document on the appeals procedure was published over a year ago, and no doubt some action on that is expected. A Sub-Committee of the Select Committee on Home Affairs is examining one aspect of today's topic—immigration from the Indian Subcontinent. At least three specific cases are currently being examined by the European Commission on Human Rights. Despite all that, the Government have, by tabling their amendment, announced their absolute, unequivocal and total support for the existing immigration regulations. The Government are asking the House to endorse that total, unequivocal and in no way diminished support for what is now happening.
It is the Home Secretary's duty, out of courtesy to the Select Committee, to his Minister of State who made promises during the passing of the British Nationality Act, and to the European Commission on Human Rights, to make it absolutely clear that if, thanks to a combination of Whips and prejudice, the amendment is carried, that does not mean that the present regulations will continue wholly unamended and applied as they are today. If the regulations are to continue unchanged, three years of assurances will be broken in a single vote. For my part, I am perfectly prepared to regard the amendment as having inept wording rather than believe that there is any adverse intention on the part of the Home Secretary.
There are three areas in which changes are urgently necessary and on which I make specific charges concerning the present regulations and their application. First, the regulations deny the legitimate right of British women to be joined in this country by their husbands. The women who suffer most from that deprivation are black. Secondly, the regulations deny the legitimate right of British citizens to be joined in this country by their dependent relatives. The families who suffer most from that deprivation are black. Thirdly, the regulations deny the legitimate right of British citizens to be freely visited in this country by their friends and relations. The visitors who suffer most from the that deprivation are black.
634 I could, and no doubt my hon. Friends will, make other criticisms of the immigration regulations and of how they are implemented. For instance, there is the sudden and retrospective redefinition of illegal immigration, the deportation of men and women because they failed to give information at ports for which they were not asked, and the appalling effect that that decision has had on a small group of Filipino domestic workers.
There are other examples of inadequacies, such as the operation of the special voucher scheme, the inadequacy of the present appeals machinery and the strange and increasingly repressive immigration attitude towards Muslim and Hindu priests who wish to enter this country to follow their ministry. No doubt some of my hon. Friends will deal with those points. I shall concentrate on the three specific points I have mentioned.
§ Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood)
Will the right hon. Gentleman clarify one fundamental point? He draws attention to three areas concerning the rights of British citizens. Is he distinguishing between their rights and those of other nationals, such as Commonwealth citizens who have the right of abode in the United Kingdom and who normally have an entitlement to be joined, for example, by their spouses?
§ Mr. Hattersley
If the hon. Gentleman wishes me to go further, I shall gladly do so. Having pressed me to do so and having obtained the answer that he clearly seeks, I hope that he will join me in the Division Lobby. My clear view is that a man or woman living here and allowed legally to do so for a restricted period should be allowed to be joined by his wife or her husband.
§ Mr. Hattersley
I think I should answer one question before the hon. Gentleman, who has already interrupted three times from a sedentary positon, makes another point.
I wish to make it clear to the hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) that this is the correct position. I wish, however, to devote the limited time at my disposal to three specific criticisms. I look forward to hearing the hon. Gentleman's extension of what I have to say.
§ Mr. Hattersley
I should like to continue for a few moments before seeing whether there is time for the hon. Gentleman to intervene. The hon. Gentleman must contain himself.
I have made it clear that there are three criticisms that I wish to advance. Our complaint concerns essentially the Government's attitude to secondary immigration. Primary immigration into this country has virtually stopped and will never again, in my view, be a feature of our society. I am sure that this is the point that the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) wished to put. I invite him to develop it.
§ Mr. Marlow
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. He says that a man or woman should be allowed to bring in his wife or her husband. As a matter of information, will he tell the House—he perhaps intends to do so—in what other countries the arrangements that he would like to see here are made?
§ Mr. Hattersley
It is a common practice in civilised society to allow those who married their nationals to join 635 their nationals in those countries. I am asking for no more than a common civilised practice. The hon. Gentleman, by asking the easy questions, demonstrates the importance of not giving way too often. I shall not make that mistake again I never interrupt the Home Secretary because I despair of ever obtaining any information from him.
The Opposition accept that the argument is about secondary immigration. Primary immigration is no longer a feature of our society. Nor is it likely to be so in future. Despite that, the Government continue to be obsessed by numbers and by the spectre of illegal immigration. As a result of that obsession, the Government are willing to deny hundreds of legitimate applications in order to frustrate a handful of bogus applicants.
The United Kingdom immigration advisory service, a Government-sponsored body with unrivalled experience of the regulations, summarised the Government's position simply. It has said thatthousands of genuine persons may be allowed to suffer but one dishonest one may not be allowed to enter.The immigration advisory service also had a clear view about the manner in which the Immigration Rules are at present administered when entry applications are processed. It said that there isoverwhelming evidence … to show that the strenuous search for discrepancies has become almost an obsession.I share that view from the experience of my constituents who have made legitimate applications to be joined here in this country by their families which have been subject to extraordinary processes by immigration officials. I am happy to see the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. Atkins) nodding in agreement. I offer an example of the situation I have described. The hon. Gentleman will perhaps offer others. Indeed, I offer two examples. The first concerns Fazal Begum, the mother of Mohammed Saeed, of 97 Stoney Lane, Birmingham 12. This lady applied to join her son in this country as a dependent relative. She did so while on holiday in England but, as was required of her, returned home while her application was processed. She made the application on 11 August 1979 and was first interviewed on 14 May 1981, 20 months later.
I wrote on her behalf to the Home Office in the same month and again in July, November, December and January. I received a substantive reply in March, 19 months after her original application. The reply stated that her application was unsuccessful, because Mohammed Najeeb of 78 Newton Road, Sparkbrook, was too poor to maintain his mother in this country. However, Mohammed Najeeb was not her sponsor. He was a second son who had been included on her application as it was her duty to do. Her sponsor, Mohammed Saeed, the other son, owned three shops himself and his wife owned a fourth. He was wholly and entirely able to support his mother.
When I told the Home Office that it had dealt with the wrong son and given the wrong answer, the reply was that she still could not come because the original sponsor and applicant had not provided information to demonstrate that he had been regularly supporting her for the past two years. The blandness of that horrified me. The absence of compassion horrified me. The inefficiency horrified me, not least because I had sent documented evidence myself about the real sponsor's continual support of his mother at home.
If this was an isolated example of the Government or their officials going to any length to find reasons why 636 genuine applicants should not be endorsed, it would be hardly worth mentioning. It is not, however, a specific example. I suspect that this case will have a happy ending. It has achieved some publicity. I pay tribute, without any suggestion of irony, to the Home Secretary who, when he has the opportunity personally to intervene, does so in a compassionate manner. My concern is for the hundreds of cases that do not reach the Home Secretary's desk, that are not heard about through the newspapers and about which hon. Members do not make a fuss, even though I have great hope in the case I have mentioned.
I should like, however, to quote a second case in which a similar situation arose. It concerns another constituent, as she is now, Mrs. Aisha Khan, the wife of Shahid Khan of Weatheroak Road, Sparkhill. Mrs. Khan was interviewed three times about her application to join her husband in this country. Each time she was required to travel long and difficult journeys to the embassy. Eventually, the Home Office was convinced—I think partly by my persuasion—that she was the wife of the man who wished her to enter this country. Just as her certificate was about to be issued, her happy husband completed his course sponsored by the Department of Employment which enabled him to acquire a new skill. Since he was then between the jobcentre and employment, the Home Office announced that he was unable to support his wife in this country and she could not be allowed entry. I am happy to say that, by the personal intervention of the Home Secretary, that rule was reversed. I say again, however, that if it needs the intervention of the Home Secretary on occasions when hon. Members make a public fuss, our great concern must be for the hundreds, or, indeed, thousands, of cases where that has not happened.
§ Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, West)
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving the House that picture of his two constituents that I would have thought more appropriate for an Adjournment debate. The right hon. Gentleman lays the blame personally at the door of the Home Secretary or the Minister of State. Is he saying that no such cases existed and no such anomalies occurred under the Labour Government?
§ Mr. Hattersley
I am saying that there has been a change. There has been more than a change. I am saying that the Home Secretary will not deny that there has been a change. One reason why he will not deny it is that if he was to say that he was operating the immigration regulations in the way that the previous Government did he would be in great trouble from those below the Gangway, who are nominally called his hon. Friends.
If the Home Secretary were to say that nothing has changed since 1978, I should be astonished to hear it. I would regard him as a rash man in terms of his own prospects within the Conservative Party. I have always assumed the Home Secretary to be one of those people who believed that survival was an achievement. In order that he may do so, I should like to inform his hon. Friends how different things are, and the blame that I lay at the right hon. Gentleman's door. For, while the Home Secretary has acted with great compassion in individual cases, he is responsible for the general hardening of attitude in the immigration service which has come about either as a result of direct ministerial instruction or because the policies and attitudes of the Conservative leadership have indirectly permeated down through the Home Office 637 and the immigration division of the Foreign Office. He cannot escape the blame for what has happened, either as a result of his direct instruction or as a result of the attitudes that his officials and civil servants know his Government hold, and know him personally to condone.
If the Home Secretary denied that—and I am sure that he would not do so, for the reasons I have described—I should at once wish to move on to the first of my specific charges. The Government have made a massive and major change in the immigration regulations which has crucially reduced the prospect of members of one section of the British public obtaining the rights to which, in justice and compassion, they are properly entitled. That specific allegation concerns my first indictment—the denial of the right of some British citizens to be joined in this country by their husbands and by men who are about to become their husbands.
In the light of the history of the facts, nobody should argue that this is just as it was. On 7 April 1978, in Leicestershire, the then Shadow Home Secretary promiseda clear prospect of an end to immigration".Primary immigration has already ended, but I shall put that aside. He asserted that theabode of the husband in marriage should normally be viewed as the natural place of residencefor the family.
§ Mr. Hattersley
Hear, hear? That seems to me to be discrimination overtly against women and covertly against black women.
§ Mr. Hattersley
The hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) wishes to justify his position, and I am happy to let him do so.
§ Mr. Stanbrook
Is the right hon. Member aware that the Select Committee on Home Affairs, which includes members of his party, agreed to that proposition?
§ Mr. Hattersley
That may be so, but, with great respect—I hear dissent to the hon. Gentleman's view from Opposition Back Benches—it is not a view that I hold. My right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. Kaufman) reminds me that had that been the case many distinguished Members of the House, none of whom I am prepared to name, might either have not sat here or might be residing in other places. [HON. MEMBERS: "Names?"] Names will never cross my lips.
To say in this day and age that the residence of the family must be where the husband chooses is a preposterous denial of women's rights, and, as it works out, is an even more disreputable denial of black women's rights, as I shall try to demonstrate.
Having made that promise, the Home Secretary was successful in placing it explicitly in the Tory manifesto, which said:We shall end the concession introduced by the Labour government in 1974 to husbands and male fiancés.The concession simply allowed all British women to be joined in this country by their husbands or fiancés on the point of marriage, whatever the men's nationality. That is something that the Labour Party regards as a minimal 638 human right. That right was removed by the present Government, but it is important to realise that it was removed with two refinements.
It was not the removal of all women from that category that the Government eventually implemented, for they first removed from the removal, if the House understands my point, women born in the United Kingdom. They were allowed to marry and bring into this country nationals of other countries. Secondly, the Government removed from the ban women with one parent born in this country. They were also allowed to marry foreign nationals and bring them into the country.
That had two effects. The first was to create two classes of British citizenship—one able to marry foreign nationals and live with them in this country and one not able to do so. That is bad in itself. All British citizens should have the same rights, irrespective of how their citizenship has been acquired. However, bad as that is in itself, the application of the principle—the two refinements that the Home Secretary introduced—makes the entire operation wholly disgraceful. White women in Britain can marry foreigners who can then come into this country, but black women, perhaps living next door to them, do not have the same opportunity and right. I hope that the Home Secretary will not tell me that that is not his intention.
I say to the Home Secretary, as I said to him when we were debating the British Nationality Bill, that it does not concern me what goes on in his head or heart. All that concerns the Labour Party is the effects of his legislation, and the effect of the clauses concerning husbands and male fiancés joining their spouses in this country is that it is all right for white women, but not for black.
In the light of that, I ask the Home Secretary three questions which I hope he will answer himself. First, what has happened to the pre-election promise that he made to the Federation of Indian Organisations? He said in a letter on 20 July 1978:In reviewing individual applications for entry on compassionate grounds, a Conservative Government will always take into consideration … historic, social and religiousconsiderations. From my experience, there is no evidence that that promise is being fulfilled. Indeed, immigration authorities seem to assume that all religious arranged marriages are bogus marriages, thereby denying the very principle of "historic, religious and social" considerations.
Secondly, what is the Government's attitude towards the European Convention on Human Rights and its May conclusions? Do the Government accept the strictures from that body regarding three Asian women and their husbands? Do they now propose to attempt the friendly settlement that they were invited to assail, and, when that friendly settlement has been obtained, will the Government change the law to put it back within the terms of the European Convention?
Thirdly, what changes in the immigration law can we expect as a result of the British Nationality Act? That Act claimed to provide equality for both men and women who marry foreign nationals and then hope to bring them to Britain. It did so by making things worse for men and their wives. Equality was obtained by making wives wait longer before they could become nationals of this country. It justified the claim of equality by saying that all applicants for British citizenship, whether they were foreign nationals who had become husbands or foreign nationals who had become wives, could achieve British nationality only after a three-year residence qualification.
639 There is some scepticism about an equality that is achieved by making things worse for the privileged group, but there is more to it than that. To say that British men who marry foreign wives can have their wives become British after a three-year residence qualification is the depth of political dishonesty when the Government will not allow the wives into the country to qualify under the three-year residence qualification.
Therefore, will the Home Secretary end the subterfuge of equality by saying that for these women the prospect of British nationality is remote, because they cannot get into the country to qualify, or will he make a genuine, honest and decent change?
The other indictment that we make of the Government relates to visitors to this country. I fear that, like many of the problems associated with husbands and wives, it is a result of the Government themselves and the officials who serve them being incapable of understanding the mores of the Asian community. Sikhs, Indians and Pakistanis are prepared to spend large sums of money—indeed, relative to their earnings, huge sums of money—on making genuine visits to their relatives in this country. They come for weddings in particular, for religious festivals or simply for family reunions. I am glad that the hon. Member for Preston, North agrees with me.
Some of the hardened and more cynical Members of the House would not spend £50 going to their cousin's wedding in Reading.—[AN HON. MEMBER: "How would they get there?"] In the way that most of us have travelled today.
However, hon. Members should not assume from that that other communities with other mores are not prepared to make substantial sacrifices to attend family gatherings.
There is a predisposition among immigration authorities to believe that if a young and comparatively poor man spends £400 or £500 on coming to this country as a visitor he is a potential illegal immigrant. The same prejudice affects their attitude to elderly relatives. If an old lady has £400 or £500 spent on her to come to her daughter's wedding or some other religious festival involving her family, the supposition is that she will not go home.
Many of my hon. Friends—and, I suspect, many Conservative Members—have intervened on behalf of visitors in an attempt to persuade the Government that they should be allowed in, and have found that the visitors returned home as promised and on schedule, confounding the view that such men and women are here for illegal immigration. I ask the Government to accept the evidence of case after case.
§ Mr. Hattersley
I shall not give way a second time. It was not enormously rewarding when I gave way on the first occasion, and it would be rash of me to risk wasting the time of the House again.
I want to say a word about how our posts abroad deal with potential visitors.
§ Mr. Hattersley
I blame myself for not assuming that hon. Members ask questions about matters that I am coming to. Of course I shall comment on the numbers. However, I propose to comment on the relevant numbers of visitors from the Indian Sub-continent. There is no opposition to Americans coming here in large numbers. The problem, in simple and crude language, is the prohibition on black visitors to this country. I shall return to this subject in a moment.
First, I want to deal with the Immigration Rules. Paragraph 20 refers to the normally "appropriate" time for visitors who are allowed into this country. Before that, the rules say that a visa is not normally necessary. As I understand it, our posts abroad are still saying to visitors "You can go without any documentation. It will probably be all right when you get there". However, the unfortunate experience of many families is that it is not all right when they get here. For my part, I always urge the obtaining of formal permission before setting out on a route which ends with a couple of days detention, a forced passage back to the Indian Sub-continent, and the hopeless promise that they can appeal against a decision once they get to New Dehli or Islamabad.
More important is what paragraph 20 of the Immigration Rules says. It says that normally six months will be the appropriate period for visits and thatThe period should not be restrictedexcept for "special reasons".
That rule is applied in a quite extraordinary manner. The restriction, which should not be applied except in abnormal circumstances, is applied to only one American in 165. It is applied to one Indian in 10, one Pakistani in six, one Ghanaian in five, and one Cypriot in four. That is more than a coincidence. Clearly the assumption by the immigration authorities is that immigrants from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan are not likely to be bona tide visitors but are likely to attempt illegally to remain. It is important for the Home Office to put that prejudice, for prejudice it is, out of its mind.
§ Mr. Norman Atkinson (Tottenham)
I thank my right hon. Friend for giving way, because it is important to get the numbers correct. As I understand what he said, Cyprus is at the bottom of the list. It has the largest number of refusals, in the sense that one in every four applicants is refused from Cyprus. Those who suffer most from other countries, as my right hon. Friend rightly said, are black or from Africa. The record shows that intending visitors from Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda are treated worse than most others.
§ Mr. Hattersley
I thank my hon. Friend for confirming the figures that I gave. He knows, as I do, from constituency experience that, at best, those people are allowed to remain for a period that is shorter than that stipulated in the regulations and, at worst, they are placed on aeroplanes, returned home, and lose their fares. Once they are 3,000 or 4,000 miles from the place that they hoped to visit, they are told to appeal.
There is another major worry that I want to mention, and I hope that my hon. Friends will widen the debate to other issues. It concerns dependent relatives, elderly 641 parents and children. That problem cannot be distinguished from the interviewing techniques by which legitimacy of applications is tested. I concede at once that there has been one improvement, and that is that the waiting time for an interview, at least at Dacca where the queue and the waiting time were longest, has now been reduced. That reduction is in part the result of reduced applications, since potential immigrants know the answer that they are likely to receive. Nevertheless, I welcome the reduction in the queue. However, there is still a wait of a year or 18 months for a first interview at which the man or woman demonstrates his or her right—not hope—to enter this country. In the last three years, the problem has been exacerbated by the fact that the Government have asked increasingly for a second or third interview. That has prolonged the whole process, not least because of the reduction in the number of entry clearance officers from 47 to 38. If the Government were to reappoint the officers that they have removed from posts, great suffering and hardship could be avoided.
Even when the interviews take place, too often they are wholly unsatisfactory. Children as young as 10 are cross-examined about details of property and parentage. They are often asked questions which they are incapable of answering. The Indian culture does not distinguish between some of their relatives, but comparatively young people have been asked to distinguish between them. As a result not of their failure to answer the question but of their natural tendancy to answer the questions according to their culture, not ours, they have been ruled out as potential immigrants.
Evidence from statutory documents is often ignored or assumed to be forged. As a result, elderly parents are denied admission, and children anxious for reunion with their parents are not allowed to enter the country. I have no doubt that many of my hon. Friends will want to give additional examples of this unacceptable situation.
§ Mr. Hattersley
I shall not give way, because I am coming to a conclusion. I want to finish so that other hon. Members may speak.
I conclude with one more example which, in my view, overwhelmingly makes the case for our motion. It is an example which concerns ministerial discretion. It concerns a Mrs. Begum of Gladstone Road, Birmingham, a lady who was widowed and whose eldest teenage son died from a congenital disease. Her daughter then began to develop the same fatal symptoms. Mrs. Begum, without any English, illiterate in her own language, asked for the admission of a relative to assist her through a uniquely difficult time. Permission was denied to that relative because he had already applied to enter Britain under a different immigration category.
A Government who do that are behaving in a way inconsistent with the conduct of a civilised society, and we propose to vote against them tonight.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. William Whitelaw)
I beg to move, to leave out from 'That' to end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: 642'this House welcomes the firm but fair way in which Her Majesty's Government has applied the immigration rules approved by Parliament while dealing compassionately with deserving cases'.I was a little surprised that the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) should criticise the terms of the amendment. I must refer to the terms of his motion. I accept at once that the right hon. Gentleman writes English well. From time to time I take the trouble to read the articles that he writes. I can only presume that when he puts his name to a motion he has considered its implications.
When I readcalls upon Her Majesty's Government to implement such Regulations in future in a way which is consistent with the standards of humanity, compassion and respect for family life in a civilised community",I am entitled to believe that he meant to direct the debate to the implementation of the Immigration Rules. That is what is said, and, from someone who writes English well, that is what I would understand him to mean. If he does not mean that, what does he mean?
§ Mr. Hattersley
I certainly meant that. I also meant the first line of the motion, which, for some reason, the right hon. Gentleman has not read.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I quite understand that the right hon. Gentleman meant the first line of the motion. However, I am entitled to address myself to what he requires Her Majesty's Government to do. The motion says thatthis House regrets the increasingly repressive operation of immigration regulations".He refers to the "operation" of the Immigration Rules. The right hon. Gentleman prides himself on writing English and I, who do not pride myself for one moment on writing English, am entitled to criticise his. I understood that the debate was to be directed, fairly and understandably, to the "implementation" and "operation" of the Immigration Rules as they stand. That is what the motion says. Our amendment is consistent with that.
I shall first answer the questions that the right hon. Gentleman has addressed to me about the rules. I shall then deal with what I believe to be the terms of the motion as it stands, to which, to be fair to the right hon. Gentleman, he directed a large part of his speech.
First, he asked what had happened to the European Convention on Human Rights regarding the husband's and fiance's position. Three cases have been found admissible by the convention, but it has yet to reach any view on their merits.
Secondly, the right hon. Gentleman asked what our attitude will be to the need for changes in immigration regulations created by the British Nationality Act, which is to come into effect in 1983. As my right hon. Friend the Minister of State announced last Thursday, before that we shall announce any changes that we believe to be necessary in the immigration regulations and rules consequent upon that Act coming into force on 1 January. We shall take the opportunity to present any such proposals to the House in good time so that they can be debated. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman accepts that we will give time for a proper debate on any changes before the implementation of the Act. Therefore, it is right to direct the debate and my speech to the rest of the motion which, I still maintain, concerns the implementation and operation of the rules.
I begin by reminding the House of the approach that the Conservative Party said that it would take to immigration 643 control before it was elected, which it was elected to take and which it has in fact taken during its time in office. We said in our manifesto that we believed in firm immigration control. In our view, that is the only sensible and realistic approach for a British Government to take at present.
To make an obvious point, any country has the right to regulate immigration into its territory. Civilised countries generally subscribe to the free movement of persons, but all countries, so far as I know, have some form of immigration control. The particular form that that control takes reflects the character and needs of the country concerned. The United Kingdom is not, and has not been for many years, a country of primary immigration. All parties accept that this is not such a country.
Despite the terms of the motion, the Labour Government found it necessary to control immigration. They did it by tightening up and enforcing the law. It is no good having controls unless they are enforced. It is an uncomfortable fact, but one which the Labour Party prefers to forget when it is in Opposition, that enforcing immigration control means taking difficult decisions in individual cases, which I fully recognise will be disappointing and sometimes deeply painful for the individuals concerned. That was so under the Labour Government. It is so under this Government, and it always will he.
The hon. Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill), who did the same job as my Minister of State does today, will know how true that is.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
That is not what many Labour Ministers think. Many of them have told me quite the reverse. I did not wish to say that, but the right hon. Gentleman invited it.
There has been no change in any of the instructions given to the immigration staff. I resent the suggestion that there has been. They have a duty to perform their task—a difficult one—irrespective of the political complexion of the Government of the day. That they have done and will continue to do, They have had no other instructions.
§ Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall)
I should like to thank the right hon. Gentleman for honouring the promises that he made in the last debate, particularly those concerning isolated old people in the Indian Subcontinent.
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is an inbuilt delay in the system? My right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) made it clear in his contribution that it must be tidied up and vastly improved.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I shall come to the operation of the system. There are delays at all times. Sometimes, as I hope to show, the delays are to ensure that all the facts in the case are brought out, and all the necessary appeals and adjudication have taken place.
To make another obvious point, the decisions to which I referred are inherent in the Immigration Rules approved by Parliament, which are a statement of the practice to be followed in the administration of the Immigration Act 1971 for regulating the entry into and stay in the United Kingdom of persons required by the Act to have leave to enter. Those rules were fully debated before they were 644 approved by Parliament. As I said, I do not propose, nor do I think that the motion requires me, to go over all the arguments about them again today.
The present Government do not flinch from facing the facts. First and foremost we do not believe—neither does anyone else—that this country can afford to accept an uncontrolled flow of new immigration, nor do we believe that it is in the interests of anyone here, including those who are immigrants, or the children of immigrants, for us to do so. We said in the manifesto that firm immigration control is the foundation for good community relations. Only if people are satisfied that there is effective control is it possible to end the persistent and exaggerated fears about levels of immigration which are so unsettling in the context of the improved community relations that we all want to see.
I repeat, quite categorically, that the Government are firmly committed to good community relations. Many people have come here since the war—from Poland, for example, from the New Commonwealth and from other countries. They have already made a valuable contribution to the life of our nation. We must ensure that people from ethnic minorities enjoy the same opportunities as everyone else here. Equally, it is important that there should be equality of responsibility, that people from different backgrounds should make their full contribution to society and uphold the values for which this country stands. As far as the impact of our actions on race relations is concerned, I have been assured by many members of ethnic minorities that they have no sympathy with those who deliberately seek to evade the rules. Nor is this surprising, for those who make genuine applications within the rules are bound to feel considerable resentment against those who attempt to gain entry by cheating and misrepresentation.
The Opposition motion refers to the need torespect … family life in a civilised community".The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook rightly referred to the danger of breaking up families. I remind him, however, that the Government have remained firmly committed, as they said that they would, to allowing in the wives and dependent children of men settled here. The new rules did not in any way affect the continued acceptance of wives and children. Nor have the Government any intention of going back on that commitment.
In the last year alone, 30,400 wives and children were accepted for settlement and 20,400 of those were from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan. That illustrates the strength of our commitment to reuniting families.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
A few moments ago the Home Secretary made a crucial comment. He said that he had no intention of withdrawing the concession allowing men to bring their wives to Britain. Does that include newly-married women? If so, does that mean that the Government do not propose to change the rules in the light of the British Nationality Act?
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I said that we were preserving our position regarding the British Nationality Act. I was referring to our commitment to allow in the wives and children of those who were settled here in 1973. We made that commitment in our election manifesto and we have adhered to it.
§ Mr. Kaufman
The right hon. Gentleman spoke about the distinction between those who evade the rules and 645 those who make genuine applications within the rules. May we take it that he believes that those who make genuine applications within the rules should be admitted to this country?
§ Mr. Whitelaw
If genuine applications within the rules are made, it is only right that they should be considered. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that they have to be considered and processed to ensure that the applications are genuine and within the rules. That is a perfectly proper course to adopt, and that is what we do when we use our discretion. All our immigration rules depend on that.
I turn now to what has been happening to the level of immigration since we were elected. Under the present Government the level of immigration has been reduced. The total number of persons accepted for settlement in 1979 was almost 70,000. Of those, 37,000 were from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan. The corresponding figures in 1981 were 58,000, of whom 31,000 were from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan. These were the lowest figures since 1973. The first quarter of this year shows a further drop. At the same time, there has been a sharp decline in the number of people in the queues for entry clearance for immediate settlement in the Indian Sub-continent. The total number of applicants in the queues at the end of March this year was 13,400, which was less than half the number in the queues at the end of March 1980.
What do these figures mean in terms of individual cases? The Opposition's motion speaks of an "increasingly repressive operation" of the immigration controls, but we are willing to exercise discretion where special individual circumstances warrant it. It is necessary to have clear, firm rules—as the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook accepted—but equally the rules cannot cater for the variety of human circumstances. This is where the exercise of discretion in support of the rules is important. I emphasise "in support of the rules", because it would make no sense—indeed, it would be quite wrong—to have rules approved by Parliament which were in effect undermined by decisions taken by Ministers.
Hon. Members will know that Home Office Ministers spend a great deal of time considering individual cases personally. They know that their representations to us on individual cases, and more particularly to my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, who deals with most of the cases himself, are also carefully considered, and that we can and do exercise discretion. Indeed, the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook was generous enough to accept that that was so. All Home Secretaries and all those who have operated the rules, such as the hon. Member for Halifax, have exercised discretion. It is right to do so, and I am glad that it is recognised that we also do that.
Let me describe just what the exercise of discretion in response to representations by hon. Members means in practice. Let us look at a hypothetical case of a person arriving at Heathrow wishing to enter this country. The immigration officer, after a detailed examination and after reference to a senior officer, decides that the person does not qualify under the rules to enter. If that person has arrived with an entry clearance or a work permit, he has a right of appeal in this country before he can be removed. He may appeal, first, to an independent adjudicator. If that 646 appeal is dismissed, he has a further right of appeal to the immigration appeal tribunal. During all that time that person has the right to remain here while the appeal proceedings are pending. If the appeal to the tribunal is dismissed, that person has yet a further right to apply to the courts for a judicial review of the tribunal's decision.
Quite apart from any right of appeal which he may have, the person, or his sponsor, is also free to contact a Member of Parliament before he is removed—as is anyone who is liable to removal. If the hon. Member makes representations on his behalf, no steps will be taken to remove the person from this country as long as those representations are being considered. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State or I will look at the case personally and decide whether to confirm the original decision. That is the situation if a person arrives here seeking leave to enter.
If a person is already here, he has even more extensive appeal rights—
§ Mr. Clinton Davis (Hackney, Central)
Is it not true that not so long ago the Government sought to limit the ability of hon. Members to intervene and tried to ensure that people would lose rights, despite the representations made by hon. Members? Have the Government definitely changed their view?
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I think that the House will agree that we should in the main, accept the representations made by an hon. Member who has a constituency interest in the case. We should not necessarily go wider than that. That position is widely recognised in the House. After all, it is accepted that we do not normally deal with each other's cases. Therefore, it was right to embark on that course. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will accept that that is a sensible way to proceed.
§ Mr. Clinton Davis
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at the weekend, or during a holiday period, it is often impossible for the person concerned to get hold of his Member of Parliament? I have had to intervene simply because the hon. Member concerned could not be reached in an emergency through no fault of his own. I hope that the Home Secretary will not seek to limit such necessary interventions.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I had the benefit of the advice of my right hon. Friend the Minister of State during the hon. Gentleman's very proper intervention. He pointed out to me that in no case, if that were the position, would we refuse representations from another right hon. or hon. Member. That is important. I hope that the House will agree that in general it is right to deal with the matter through the Member concerned.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
That is not a fair remark. Perhaps I can answer the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) before he stands up. We should all recognise that, whatever may be an hon. Member's view, it is always his duty, even if he disagrees with his constituent, to make proper representations on behalf of his constituent. A great deal of argument would have to be put before me before I would believe otherwise.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
That is what the hon. Gentleman has said, and I have to accept it, but no right hon. or hon. Member has made that point to me.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I am entitled to say that no-one has made such a representation to me. I am sure that if I say that, the hon. Gentleman will accept it. He may have views about someone who might have made a representation to me, but I have to tell him that no such representations were made. That is a perfectly fair point.
§ Mr. Hattersley
I always accept the Home Secretary's word, but I am sorry that he does not listen to the radio or read the newspapers. One hon. Member now in his place has said that he never takes up cases with the Home Office because he accepts its judgment. Since the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes) talks so much about honour, perhaps he will get up and tell the Home Secretary that is so.
§ Mr. John Stokes (Halesowen and Stourbridge)
I regret to say that the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) has misrepresented what happened. I was asked if I would put forward every case, irrespective of merit, where an immigrant was involved. I said "No", because I have few immigrants in my constituency. When the English come to me, I sort them out. I do not send every case to the Government. If I did, government would become impossible. I use my judgment first. Every hon. Member must use his judgment and not be bullied by anyone about him.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
There can be few hon. Members, myself included, who can say that they put forward every case presented to them. Many of us sometimes come across cases that cannot be recommended to go forward. We all have such cases. What my hon. Friend did was quite reasonable.
I have dealt with appeals in the case of a person arriving here who seeks leave to enter. For a person already here there are even more extensive appeal rights. He can appeal against a decision to refuse to allow him to extend his stay. He can appeal again if a decision is taken to deport him. On each occasion he has the right of appeal to an adjudicator, and a further right of appeal, with leave, to the tribunal. He may also apply to the courts for judicial review of the tribunal's decision. When all these avenues have been exhausted, there is still the right of a Member to make representations on the person's behalf to me or to my right hon. Friend.
I want to add a further important word about deportation. Each decision to deport is most carefully considered by Home Office Ministers, and deportation orders are signed by the Home Secretary personally. The Immigration Rules expressly require that, where consideration is given to the making of a deportation order, every relevant factor known to the Home Office must be taken into account, including such matters as the person's domestic and family circumstances, compassionate circumstances and any representations received on the person's behalf. I am also expressly required, in deciding whether deportation is the right course on the merits, to balance the public interest against any 648 compassionate circumstances in the case. The appellate authorities are required to adopt precisely the same approach.
Again, even after the careful exercise of discretion in deciding a deportation case, and after any appeal, I and my right hon. Friend are still willing to consider representations by Members on behalf of their constituents before the order is finally enforced.
§ Mr. Robert Atkins
Will my right hon. Friend comment on the apparent ease with which anonymous information, supplied for whatever reason, seems to be given more attention than it should be given? I have had one or two such experiences in my constituency. I pay great tribute to my right hon. Friend, especially on his birthday today, for the compassion with which he and my right hon. Friend the Minister of State treat cases, but within the Department as a whole more attention appears to be paid to anonymous information emanating from perhaps jealous members of the community than should be given to it.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his kind remarks. As the years pass, birthdays become less a matter for congratulation, but I appreciate his remarks.
I assure my hon. Friend that the most careful consideration is given to all representations made to us. Indeed, those who examine the recommendations and put forward points to my right hon. Friend and myself are expert in deciding what is fair and what may be unfair or prejudiced information. I place great reliance on their judgment.
§ Mr. John Carlisle
A person ordered to be deported by the courts, who agrees that the deportation order should be served on him, has the right to appeal. Where the right of appeal is waived, why cannot that person be deported immediately? Why does he have to spend at least two to three weeks—in some cases five to six weeks—in a prison, at vast expense to the public purse, when he has agreed to leave the country voluntarily?
§ Mr. Whitelaw
Different problems arise, such as documentation and the appropriate method of transporting such people to the countries concerned. These things take time. I agree with my hon. Friend that they should take as little time as possible, but it does take time to complete the arrangements.
I hope that it will be clear from what I have said that a great deal of careful thought is given to individual cases at all stages and that there are ample opportunities available for a person, through the appeal procedures and through the consideration which we give to hon. Members' representations, to have the decision in his case reviewed.
I want to pay tribute here to the work of those whose job it is to apply the rules at the earlier stages in this process—to the immigration service, entry clearance officers and the officials who deal with applications from people in this country. They have a difficult job to do. I have no hesitation in saying that they approach their task with a proper degree of professional skill. They apply both common sense and humanity to their decisions.
I want, in particular, to emphasise the work done by the immigration service. It is not often realised what its job entails. During 1981 a total of 60 million passengers passed through the immigration controls. Of these, 32 649 million were arriving passengers, of whom 11.5 million were subject to immigration control. One of the duties of immigration officers is to identify persons attempting to enter for settlement or employment who have no entitlement to do so, but they also refuse entry to persons whose admission would be contrary to the public good.
The House will be aware of the recent trial of two South Americans on, amongst other things, official secrets charges, at the end of which the judge commended the immigration staff involved. Those two men had been identified on a busy immigration control carrying false identity papers and a forged immigration stamp. It is important that such people should be spotted and that they should not come into the country.
In all, 492 persons were refused entry on the ground that their exclusion was conducive to the public good in 1981, and a further 219 people were refused on the ground that they had presented falsified passports. Lest it should be thought that immigration officers are too concerned about refusal of entry and that they then delay the genuine passenger, it may be borne in mind that the person subject to control spends on average only a very short time at the immigration officer's desk at a busy port, such as terminal 3 at Heathrow. The House may also wish to note that the total number of persons refused entry in 1981 was 14,183 and that this constitutes only 0.12 per cent.—far less than 1 per cent.—of persons seeking entry at the ports.
As for enforcement, our practice in this country is to place particular reliance on proper controls at the port of entry, but to produce an effective immigration control it is clearly no good to rely upon preventive measures alone and not take action against those who break the rules or who seek to evade the control altogether. At the election we said that we would deal firmly with illegal entrants and overstayers. We have kept that promise. Last year, 640 people were removed from this country as illegal entrants and 970 were deported, mostly for overstaying.
This policy of a firm enforcement of the control is one which, quite rightly, all recent Administrations have pursued. It was the policy of the Opposition when they were in Government. In 1978, their last full year in power, 540 illegal entrants were removed and 770 people were deported. It is therefore somewhat surprising that Opposition Members should accuse us—as some have—of being in some way unduly severe in our enforcement action or of pursuing a vendetta against illegal entrants and overstayers.
In enforcing the immigration laws, it is essential that firm action be tempered by considerations of humanity and by what is just and reasonable action in the individual circumstances of the case. Our record on the very difficult questions of illegal entry that have arisen in recent years illustrates well this policy of firmness tempered with humanity.
Our approach to illegal entry by deception has been clear and straightforward. We take the view that someone who cheats his way into the country by means of lies, forged documents and other forms of deception has no more right to be here than the illegal entrant who arrives clandestinely and evades the control altogether. At the same time, we examine individual cases of illegal entry with care and compassion.
As I have said, 640 illegal entrants were removed last year, but I should add that 240 were allowed to remain 650 because, after careful consideration of their personal and family circumstances, we felt that there were strong compassionate reasons for allowing them to stay. For instance, we exercised our discretion generously in the cases of a number of Filipino nationals who gained entry to the United Kingdom on the basis of work permits obtained by deception. I have received many representations from right hon. and hon. Members in all parts of the House about such people. There is no doubt that they gained entry by deception on the basis of work permits. Some of them did not realise that. I think that we were right to take the decision that we took, and hon. Members have welcomed what we did.
The practical day-to-day problems of the enforcement of the immigration laws fall upon the shoulders of the immigration service and the police. There are difficult tasks to perform which have to be carried out in a firm but sensitive manner. When problems have arisen, we have attempted to overcome them by practical solutions—by the improvement or reinforcement of procedures.
The House will recall that in the early summer of 1980 public concern was expressed about the investigation at their place of work of numbers of people thought to be here unlawfully. We were accused at the time of organising so-called "fishing expeditions." The accusation was plainly false, and I refuted it strongly at the time. Nevertheless, I undertook a review of procedures in this area, and in December 1980 I announced the results of that review and the new guidelines to be followed in future in all operations.
Under the new guidelines, every effort is made before an operation takes place to identify those people suspected of committing immigration offences, and in all cases the appropriate community liaison officer is to be consulted. During the operation itself, when people are questioned and can be eliminated from suspicion immediately, they are to be subjected to no further inconvenience.
After 18 months' experience of the new procedures, I can report to the House that the guidelines that I announced at that time are being scrupulously followed by the immigration service and the police. In that time, of the 81 people who have been interviewed in major operations, 76 have been found to be in breach of the immigration laws. This is clear evidence that the new procedures are working well.
The Opposition's motion calls upon us to implement the rules in a way which is consistent with humanity and family life. The Government stand firmly on their record. The level of immigration has been reduced under the present Government. At the same time, we have shown our readiness to examine individual cases compassionately. Indeed, I find it hard to understand how the motion could be supported by a party which seeks to maintain effective immigration control.
Of course, it will always be possible to point to individual cases in which a difficult decision has gone against what the right hon. or hon. Member concerned believed would have been right, but my right hon. Friend the Minister of State and I could equally quote many cases when right hon. and hon. Gentlemen have expressed their gratitude for the humane and compassionate way in which their cases have been dealt with.
I submit that this is a shallow and niggling motion which deliberately evades the real issue. I therefore ask the House to reject it and to support the amendment.
§ 6.7 pm
§ Mr. John Tilley (Lambeth, Central)
I intend to pick out only two of the many issues raised by the motion. I shall use my new-found freedom on the Back Benches to say that although I support the Opposition Front Bench motion it would have helped if it had said not merely that we want the regulations to be implemented with more humanity, but that they should be changed. We need new regulations and rules.
For example, the foreign husbands rule cannot be operated with respect for family life because it is a direct denial of that respect. That rule has been practised for two years. Many right hon. and hon. Members have discovered how oppressive and unfair it is. The way in which the rule is applied is arbitrary, as is ministerial discretion. In some of the cases with which I have dealt a couple have been allowed to live here after an application to the Minister, but in some cases they have not. I find it difficult to work out why some people are allowed in and some are not.
It is wrong that human rights are denied the people who lose their applications. Equally, it is undesirable that people who win do so by what appears to be ministerial whim.
There is a relationship between the British Nationality Act and the Immigration Rules. Unless the Government change this Immigration Rule before the Act comes into force on 1 January 1983, their statements that all British citizens have equal citizenship will be false. They stated clearly in their manifesto that the rights of all British citizens who are legally settled here are equal before the law whatever their race, colour or creed. Those who read the manifesto should have noticed that it did not refer to sex. Female British citizens who were not born here will be second-class citizens, because every other British citizen, male or female, will have the right to be joined by his or her spouse.
I have twice raised the issue during Home Office questions and judging from the answer that I received on Thursday, my point has been misunderstood. I am not speaking only about those women who are legally settled here. The rule clearly affects tens of thousands of people who settled here but who were not born in this country, the majority of whom are Asian women who came with their parents in the 1970s from Pakistan, India and East Africa. I deeply regret the rule and I hope that the Government will change it. I am especially anxious about those thousands of women out of the tens of thousands to whom I referred, who, as well as being legally settled here, are also United Kingdom and Colonies citizens and who will become full British citizens on the day that the Act is implemented. Those young women have acquired their British citizenship, although not born here, by registration as minors or by registration or naturalisation as adults. They will undoubtedly be British citizens when the Act comes into force on 1 January and, equally undoubtedly, they will be second-class citizens because they alone will not have the right to bring their husbands or their fiancés to Britain.
The Government must make a decision soon. One of their major complaints has been that the marriages or intended marriages involved are arranged quickly and that the partners do not know each other. Yet now, only six months before the operation of the law, the Government are still fobbing us off by saying, "Yes, we are considering that and fairly soon we shall do something".
652 However, the Home Secretary has given no inkling of the Government's intentions to do anything about the new rules even before the end of this Session. I do not know whether the Home Secretary intends that the new rules will come at the end of July, the end of October or the end of November. I fear that they may come as late as the middle of December. Whatever the timing, it is inadequate, since we are only six months away from the Act's implementation. The Government have been planning the Bill for a long time, and they have had the White Paper, in which the Bill's principles were spelt out, for nearly two years. They must make up their minds on a matter of vital importance to many British families here and abroad.
The Government have a dilemma. They must either admit that their statements, both in the manifesto and during the nationality Bill proceedings, that all British citizens are equal, were a cruel hoax on black British citizens, or they must scrap the racially and sexually discriminatory rule that they introduced two years ago. The Government owe it to us to tell us which way they intend to jump because it is unfair to leave so many families in suspense for so long.
My second point is about the general nature of the rules and the legislation. Many hon. Members will bring forward during the debate constituency cases where the rules, or the Minister's decision whether to exercise his discretion, may, jointly or separately, appear to be tragic, cruel or arbitrary. However, none of us are saying for a moment that unfortunate immigration decisions w ere riot made before 3 May 1979. We are not talking about nasty Ministers or nasty immigration officers, although some of us may have had suspicions in both quarters at various times. The House should not be considering that. The heart of the trouble lies in the Immigration Act 1971 and the rules that stem from it, which both Ministers and immigration officers must implement by law.
An important development in recent years and months is that the Labour Party is now committed to repealing the Act and replacing it with immigration laws that are riot racially or sexually discriminatory, but which respect family life and human dignity. That does not mean that we wish to abandon immigration controls, but that it is possible to remove the discriminatory and unfair aspects of the current controls.
Perhaps I may give some idea of the changes that I believe are necessary and that I hope will be adopted by the Labour Party during the next few months. First, we must incorporate into our law the United Nations Convention and Protocol on the Status of Refugees so that the entry of refugees is not discretionary but a matter of right. Secondly, to take up the Home Secretary's point about deportations and removals, there must be a right of appeal in the United Kingdom in all cases before someone is deported or removed. The Home Secretary mentioned the Filipino domestic workers, and I pay full tribute to the discretion that he exercised in respect of many of them. However, those who were removed were given the right of appeal from the Philippines—from the destitution and poverty that they had escaped. That right of appeal was a dead letter from the beginning and Ministers and immigration officers are well aware of it.
Thirdly, we must entrench the right of children to live with their parents in Britain. The cruel sole responsibility test that is now applied must be abolished. Children should have the right to live with their natural parents irrespective of tests that are arbitrary and almost impossible to prove.
653 Fourthly, the ludicrous restrictions on deciding whether an aged parent of someone living legally in Britain is destitute in another country and whether he has been sustained in that country by the child living here are inhumane and must be changed. The queue of dependants waiting to leave the Indian Sub-continent can be speeded up. I and my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon) believe that the pool of people who wish to join the queue is finite. We should stop once and for all the queues, the sadness and the disruption to many lives. Those people merely wish to take up what should be their statutory right to join the rest of their families in Britain.
I have outlined some ways in which we can do more for family life than the lip service that is paid to it now. Immigration law must facilitate the arrival of those who wish to study and train in Britain and not, as at present, be an extra hurdle.
If those proposals are adopted by the Labour Party and implemented by the next Labour Government, they may result in more black people coming to live in Britain. We do not hide that fact, but we emphasise that the present Immigration Rules as implemented are not merely unfair in terms of civil and human rights, but a major and constant undermining of the security of black communities in Britain. If the families of black people cannot join them and visitors are not allowed to come to see them, they feel that they do not have the place in society that we on both sides of the House keep saying they have.
It is nonsense to suggest that we can move in any serious way towards racial harmony in this society if the rules for joining it are based on the colour of the skin of the applicants. We know that that is the situation at the moment.
For too long, hon. Members on both sides of the House have thought that the key issue in race relations was the number of black faces either coming into the country or already here. The truth is that, if numbers matter, it is the number of white racists and the number of us who, in the past in the House, have appeased those racists by the passing and implementation of the immigration laws and rules, that we are discussing tonight.
§ Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood)
I am extremely grateful to be called at this stage of the debate. I shall be brief.
I back up what my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said about the motion in the name of the Leader of the Opposition and his right hon. Friends. It is seriously defective in its drafting. I wonder whether the observation made by the hon. Member for Lambeth, Central (Mr. Tilley) is correct. He said that the intention was to suggest that new regulations be introduced because, in the view of the Opposition, the present ones are inhumane. If that is not so, it is noteworthy, because, at least implicitly, it means that the Opposition believe that fundamentally the present immigration regulations are right.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friends on their amendment because, in so far as the present Immigration Rules approved by Parliament are applied, I genuinely believe that the Home Office, its officals and above all its Ministers do a good job in exceptionally difficult circumstances.
I do not think that anyone who has had seriously to deal with those matters can underestimate the complexity of the problems. On the one hand, there are the compassionate 654 arguments of those who rightly and understandably want, almost at all costs, families to be kept united. On the other hand, however, there is the fact that at present 3 million people or more are unemployed, yet despite that sad economic fact there are many parts of the world where economic circumstances are worse than ours. Therefore, the pressure for immigration to this country still increases. I pay tribute to the thoughtful way in which my right hon. Friends the Minister of State and the Home Secretary deal with the individual compassionate cases that we bring before them.
I draw attention once more to a specific and simple matter—the rights of British women to be joined by their spouses and fiancés in this country. I have raised the matter before on the motion for the Adjournment of the House for the Easter and May Day recesses. It was not just an April fool jape, although the debate took place on 1 April.
I suggested in that debate that the Government ought to make clear their view on the cases that the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and the National Council for Civil Liberties have brought before the European Commission on Human Rights in Strasbourg. Fundamental human rights are at stake. Since the passage of the Sex Discrimination Act, Parliament has made it clear that we believe that the rights of men and women in this country should be fundamentally the same. Those rights should be the same not just over the transmission of citizenship. Parliament agreed that through the passage of the British Nationality Act. British citizenship can now be transmitted through the female as through the male line. Since 1928, political rights have been the same for women as for men. We have equality of franchise. We are asking that equality of rights be extended to family life, too. It is as simple as that.
I was particularly interested to hear the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) adumbrate the three charges that he brought against the Government. In each case he referred to British citizens' rights. I specifically asked him about that, because the entitlement of Commonwealth citizens with the right of abode in this country to bring their families to join them have been the same as for British citizens provided that the Commonwealth citizens were settled in this country before the Immigration Act 1971 came into force in 1973. Interestingly and significantly, the Opposition referred specifically to the rights of British citizens. So shall I today.
It is wrong for there to be two categories of British citizenship—British citizenship acquired by birth and British citizenship acquired by naturalisation or registration. The implication of the present Immigrant Rules, particularly paragraphs 50 and 52, is that such a distinction is drawn. We accord to British women the right to bring their husbands or fiancés into this country for settlement provided that the women were either born in this country or have a parent who was born in this country. That can lead to division, even within families. There can be sisters whose individual circumstances of place of birth are different. Presumably Parliament intends that their rights to bring in a husband or fiancé to join them are different. That is inequitable and wrong.
That idea devalues the process of obtaining United Kingdom citizenship by naturalisation or registration. That is a malign fact because for many people the process of acquiring British citizenship, let us say by naturalisation, 655 can be the culmination of many years of aspiration. Parliament has laid down many clear and precise regulations on what has to be done to obtain that citizenship by naturalisation.
For example, the person concerned can be a refugee. He may have been able to escape from his country of origin only with great difficulty and after extreme hardship. We know of many such cases in Eastern Europe, such as people fleeing from the Ukraine, Poland and elsewhere. We are saying that the women who have acquired British citizenship by naturalisation are not to be entitled to bring in their husbands for settlement here. That is wrong.
I gave this quotation during the Adjournment debate to which I referred. It is noteworthy that the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament declared in March last year that it wasof the opinion that the United Kingdom Government's new immigration rules may contravene the European Convention on Human. Rights—is further of the opinion that they may also contravene the principle of non-discrimination enshrined in community law.
§ Dr. Shirley Summerskill (Halifax)
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman in his extremely good speech—it is the first from the Conservative Back Benches. Does he agree that the rule also contravenes the Conservative Party's election manifesto which stated that all citizens lawfully settled here shall be treated equally before the law? Does he agree that it did not distinguish between male and female citizens?
§ Mr. Wilkinson
That may be so. I have not examined that point. The circumstances of the country have changed. For example, there are now more unemployed people than there were. We must face the consequences honestly. I shall deal with the specifics of the issue.
I mentioned the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament with a purpose. It is that I shall also draw attention to the EEC—the Treaty of Rome dimension of the issue. There is now the extraordinary circumstance whereby a woman, a British citizen who does not have a parent who was born here and was not herself born here can, under the freedom of movement provisions of the Treaty of Rome travel to another EEC country, settle there, take up work and bring in her spouse for settlement. Yet when she tries to return to the United Kingdom, the only EEC country of which she has citizenship, she is presumably to be told by the entry certificate officer at Heathrow airport that she must be separated from her husband. That is extraordinary and wrong. I earnestly ask the Government to re-examine the matter. That specific point in the Immigration Rules should be reviewed so that there is no longer a risk that Britain may be found to be in contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights to which it is a signatory.
§ Mr. William Pitt (Croydon, North-West)
I am glad that the official Opposition are lining up behind the continuing condemnation of the iniquitous 1968 and 1971 Acts. That legislation and its continued application tend to institutionalise racialism in Britain. The British Nationality Act 1981 is also iniquitous. The Liberal Party has consistently opposed that legislation and called for its repeal. We are not a nation of primary immigration. Yet the Government are still obsessed with figures. Document reference MN 82/2 of the OPCS monitor said: 656In 1981 for the second successive year, the number of immigrants fell sharply and the lowest annual total since the International Passenger Survey (IPS) began in 1964 was recorded. Compared with 1980, the number fell by 12 per cent. from 174 thousand to 153 thousand … The net outflow of 55 thousand in 1980 thus rose to 79 thousand, a figure exceeded only by the peak of 1974.Yet measures that were instituted as a response to unreasoning pressure are still being applied.
I remind the House of the length of time that British passport holders in India have had to wait for quota vouchers. In November 1977 they were expected to wait some three and half years. By May 1979 that time had increased to nearly four and a half years. By November 1979 that time was approaching five years. By May 1980 it had reached five years and was increasing. By May 1982 it was more than six years. Those people are United Kingdom passport holders. Their number is finite, yet they must wait longer and longer. No doubt some of them will never be able to enter.
In a letter to the Foreign Office in June, my noble Friend Lord Avebury said:Not only is the waiting time continuing to increase, but to my great astonishment, even those in the priority queue, shown by the dotted line, are waiting longer than ever.The "dotted line" is a reference to the graph.
One of the greatest misuses of immigration legislation concerns husbands and fiancés. Much has been said about them today. I am puzzled about the difference, in terms of citizenship, between a person who is born here and a person who has been naturalised. Conservative Members have related stories of Polish or Ukrainian people who have come to Britain as refugees. I have friends among them. We have taken them into our hearts. We have also received refugees from Uganda—from one of the most iniquitous regimes of this century. When those women become naturalised, they will, under the present regulations, be unable to bring in their husbands or finances.
§ Mr. Stanbrook
The hon. Gentleman's latter point is untrue. If the hon. Gentleman knew a little more about the subject and read the appropriate regulations, he would understand that we are discussing the automatic right of such persons to come to Britain. Most of therr come anyway under the normal provisions. It is incorrect to suggest that they will not be able to enter Britain.
§ Mr. Pitt
That is what I am saying. I am asking what is the difference between the citizenship of a person who is born here and a person who becomes naturalised. To talk about automatic rights is to split hairs.
In my experience, women who are not born here are unable to bring their husbands or fiancés to Britain under the law as it stands. When the present rules were introduced, The Guardian, in its home affairs column, reported that immigration would be reduced by "by between 1,000 and 2,000" people. I should not have thought that is was worth setting up the necessary bureaucracy for the net saving of 1,000 or 2,000 people. It must merely give extra work to what the Home Secretary described as already overloaded immigration officers at Heathrow's terminal 3, Dover, Newhaven and the rest. The same is true for adjudicators. The rules are iniquitous.
I do not wish my noble Friend Lord Avebury to be the star of the occasion, but he warned twice in the other place of the possibility of the present legislation being questioned in the European Court of Human Rights. On 11 December 1979, Lord Belstead said: 657We believe that we have strong arguments with which to justify those proposals if they should be challenged."—[Official Report, House of Lords. 11 December 1979; Vol. c. 1126.]On 20 March 1980 the noble Lord said:the Government believe that they are powerful arguments, and would carry weight with the Commission should the need arise".—[Official Report, House of Lords, 20 March 1980; Vol. 407, c. 425.]We now know what is happening in the European Court of Human Rights.
Apart from the problem of fiancés and husbands, one of the most pressing problems for Members of Parliament is that of visitors to Britain. In the past nine months I have been continually surprised by the telephone calls and other representations from members of my community. Other hon. Members will have had many such requests. People honourably come here to visit. They may have entry clearance, but an officer at the terminal may decide that they do not qualify, so they have to go cap in hand to a Member of Parliament, or to someone else who may be able to use his influence, to enable them to stay here for a holiday. Last year I visited friends in Canada on holiday and no questions were asked of me. When Canadians come here for similar purposes no questions are asked of them. Most people whose bona fides are queried have black or brown skins.
§ Mr. John Carlisle
The hon. Gentleman suggests that immigration officers are unnecessarily harsh in their questioning. Does he ask us to believe that every visitor, of whatever colour, comes here only for the reason that he states? In every society there are bad pennies, so questions should be asked.
§ Mr. Pitt
I accept that in every society there are bad pennies, but I believe that the vast majority of people who say that they are coming here on holiday are on holiday.
I imagine that the immigrant advisory service has kindly provided most hon. Members with figures. Let me give the figures for the proportion of visitors not admitted for six months. From the United States it was one in 165 and from the old Commonwealth it was one in 97, but from India it was one in 10, from Bangladesh one in nine and a half, and from Nigeria one in seven. Let us consider refusals per thousand. Ghana has an all-time record of 34.25. For India the figure was 6.28, for Bangladesh, 7.16 and for Sri Lanka, 7.27, whereas for Australia it was 0.26, for Malta 0.2 and for New Zealand 0.01. What criteria are applied to people from the old and New Commonwealth?
§ Mr. John Carlisle
I believe that the figure that the hon. Gentleman gave for the United States was one in 160, although his figure was rather less than that given by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley). The figures drop down the scale to people from Pakistan and Bangladesh. Is not the number of immigrants from America and other places minimal compared with the number from India, Pakistan and so on? There is bound to be suspicion and questions if only because of the proportion, let alone for other reasons.
§ Mr. Pitt
I do not accept that. We must consider each case on its merits. By and large, we should accept the stated purpose of a visit, be the visitor black, white or brown. I repeat that I believe that 99 per cent. of people come here honourably.
658 It is a condemnation of our system that we are wasting valuable parliamentary time talking about the issue. We should by now have sorted out our repressive immigration legislation.
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Timothy Raison)
The hon. Gentleman said that he believes that 99 per cent. of visitors are genuine. If we take one category, the Indians, only 0.6 per cent. are refused entry. The hon. Gentleman is being less than generous. About 99.4 per cent. of Indian visitors are admitted.
§ Mr. Pitt
I shall accept the Minister's figure, as I am not a mathematician.
I come to the bureaucracy and the hassle. People come cap in hand to get Members of Parliament to write letters for someone to come here on holiday. I have a collection of such letters. One constituent, Ramesh Thakore, wanted his uncle to stay. He was not the sponsor. The sponsor could not find his Member of Parliament. The legitimate sponsor form had been returned. I wrote a sheaf of letters to the Home Office. The time that it took the Home Office to investigate the uncle's bona fides and the whole matter enabled him to have a holiday of two and a half months here. He then went home. Although he had not stayed for as long as he intended, he had his holiday.
In another letter my noble Friend Lord Avebury told the Minister of State:I propose, therefore, that you abolish entry certificates for short visits, granting everybody 6 months' leave to enter, with no right of appeal against refusal of an extension. This would cut out an enormous amount of red tape, since 99.9 per cent. of those who now have to obtain entry certificates for short visits are bona fide visitors.The Minister said that he has 1,200 letters. How many are from hon. Members interceding on behalf of people who have come here for a holiday and wish to return?
If we had automatic entry for six months, it would reduce the load on Ministers and on immigration officers. When people reach the end of the six months, they would have no right of appeal and would have to return. But 99.9 per cent. would do so anyway, and the law could properly and effectively deal with the remainder.
We question the legislation and its implementation. It leaves minority groups uncertain about their future and unhappy about the country that they have adopted. It is time drastically to review the 1968 and 1971 Acts and to assess properly their effect on good race relations and the structure of a multiracial society. Until we do that we shall continue to breed a lack of confidence among minority communities, who, in being here, in their culture and in many other ways, give our society so much. That is why my party supports the official Opposition motion.
§ Mr. K. Harvey Proctor (Basildon)
The hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Pitt) said that Britain was not subject to primary immigration. He was almost claiming credit for that. The Liberal Party voted consistently against all legislation on immigration control in 1962, 1968 and 1971. There is some consistency, but it is that of the open door allowing in all who wish to enter. I add my tribute to that of the Home Secretary to immigration officers and civil servants who work in the Home Office and deal with the many queries that hon. Members address to them. I pay tribute to the Home Secretary's robust speech and congratulate him and my 659 right hon. Friend the Minister of State on their work. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State knows that we do not always see eye to eye on these matters.
We should be grateful to the Opposition for making available on of their Supply days to discuss the Immigration Rules. Immigration is not often discussed and we had an extended debate in March 1980 on the Immigration Rules only because the Opposition provided extra time. The Opposition have restricted the debate so as to exclude the extent of immigration particularly from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan and its impact and consequences upon the United Kingdom. Their motion states:That this House regrets the increasingly oppressive operation of immigration regulations".One can assume from that that they wish to restrict debate on the widely expressed view in the country that we allow in far too many immigrants. The Opposition, however, would welcome the implementation of the existing regulationsin a way which is consistent with the standards of humanity, compassion and respect for family life in a civilised community.
§ Mr. Bidwell
The hon. Gentleman knows that I have a wealth of experience in these matters. Does he intervene, as other hon. Members do, to help people in the humanitarian way that he has been talking about if their colour is black or brown?
§ Mr. Proctor
On a number of occasions—my right hon. Friend the Minister of State will confirm this—I have written to him and other Ministers on behalf of my constituents who may be of another colour. I do that on the basis not of the colour of their skin but on whether the complaint is worth forwarding to the Minister.
The clear inference from the motion is that a Labour Home Secretary would allow in more immigrants rather than fewer. The Opposition do not oppose the Immigration Rules, and the hon. Member for Lambeth, Central (Mr. Tilley) said as much when he said that he would like to have seen the words "to change them" in the motion. The Opposition oppose not the rules but the way in which they are implemented. There is no commitment to redraw them in the unlikely event of the Opposition being returned to office. All action would be by the exercise of administrative decisions.
It may come as a surprise to some people to hear that there are no holes in the Immigration Rules through which immigrants pour. There is one big statutory hole and that is the provision regarding the entry of dependents. I know that this will not find favour with many hon. Members, but I believe that that should be dealt with by law and that the Immigration Rules should be amended. All immigrants, other than dependents, enter annually in their thousands through the exercise of some administrative discretion.
In the motion the Opposition have correctly located the battlefield on the subject of immigration. It is not the Immigration Acts but the Immigration Rules and the exercise of their discretion by the Home Secretary and his Ministers. The law defines certain categories of people who may enter the United Kingdom as of right whether or not the Government like it. The law does not define the categories of people who may not enter the United Kingdom. The Home Secretary may let anyone into the United Kingdom by permit. It is the extent to which Home Secretaries issue those permits that fuels immigration and 660 is in the minds of those who tabled the motion. They wish to increase the numbers of people entering the United Kingdom. I wish the numbers to decline.
I have looked at the Home Office figures for 1981 published in "The Control of Immigration Statistics United Kingdom 1981". In table 15 there is a column showing the numbers of illegal immigrants, including Commonwealth citizens and foreign nationals, detected during the year on or after 1 January. The figures show that for 1976 the number was 390, for 1977 810, for 1978 930, for 1979 990, for 1980 1,620 and for 1981 990. Did the figure increase in 1980 because of action taken in 1979 and 1980, at the request of the Government, to boost the detection of illegal immigrants? Have the guidelines to which the Home Secretary referred had the effect of reducing action taken against illegal immigrants? I shall be grateful if my right hon. Friend the Minister of State will shed some light on those figures.
The hon. Member for Croydon, North-West, who has abandoned the debate after making his contribution, referred to a multiracial society. The April-May contact brief of the Conservative Political Centre contains the words:It is a fact that Britain is multiracial.How remarkable that no Prime Minister, no party and no Parliament informed our people of the policy decision upon which that fact was established. Still less did they seek full-hearted consent to the event. Silence accompanied the massive immigration from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan over three decades, as humbug now greets its consequences.
Foreign nationals and refugees from around the world have chosen to live, usually in relatively small numbers, in the United Kingdom. Throughout our history they have done so, especially in our capital city, which used to be engagingly described as cosmopolitan. That is not what is meant by multiracial. That term is intended to refer to a society comprising a relatively large and rapidly growing proportion of citizens from Pakistan and the New Commonwealth—which is the Commonwealth less Australia, Canada and New Zealand—particularly concentrated in our inner cities and urban conurbations.
Recent statistics taken from the 1981 census reveal those concentrations by showing that the proportion of the usually resident population living in households whose head was born in the New Commonwealth or Pakistan was 15 per cent. in Birmingham, 15·4 per cent. in Wolverhampton, 21·3 per cent. in Leicester and 18·8 per cent. in inner London. Within London boroughs, the figures were 23 per cent. in Lambeth, 25 per cent. in Ealing, 26·5 per cent. in Newham, 27·5 per cent. in Hackney, 29·4 per cent. in Haringey and 33 per cent. in Brent. Of course, those figures underestimate the true position, because those living in households where the head was born in the United Kingdom to a mother from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan are recorded among the indigenous population.
The NCWP communities are growing through immigration and natural increase. The Home Office has recently produced immigration statistics for 1981. "Immigration down by 11,500" was the intended cry. Any reduction is to be welcomed, but the achievement is actually that total acceptances for settlement on arrival and on removal of time limit for the New Commonwealth and Pakistan were 31,000 in 1981 compared with 33,700 in 1980, 37,000 in 1979 and 32,200 in 1973, the last full year 661 of the previous Conservative Administration. In other words, in eight years we have reduced NCWP immigration by 1,200, or 3.7 per cent.
Revisions to the Immigration Rules were introduced on 1 March 1980, but, unless I am mistaken—perhaps my right hon. Friend the Minister of State will correct me if I am—there has been little effect on acceptances in any settlement category in 1980 or 1981 and the full effect of some removal of time limit categories may not be reflected in the figures for many years. Together with overstayers and illegal entrants, the addition to the NCWP population is about 50,000 per annum and portends a further ⅓ million to ½ million in the next decade.
Even if my parliamentary colleagues can find some comfort in the figures for 1981, I have to disillusion them on the question of natural increase. We have to wait until later in the year for the 1981 birth figures, but the 1980 figure was 55,000 births to mothers born in the New Commonwealth and Pakistan. The birth figures become less reliable and understate the true picture because an increasing number of younger women of child-bearing age are of NCWP ethnic origin but were born in the United Kingdom. Information on births to such women is not collected at birth registration. They are regarded as indigenous births.
§ Mr. Edward Lyons (Bradford, West)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. None of us wants to interfere with the right of the hon. Member for Basildon (Mr. Proctor) to freedom of speech, but the debate is about Immigration Rules and I should be interested to know how natural increase has anything to do with that subject. It is already 7.5 pm and many hon. Members still wish to speak. Cannot the hon. Gentleman be brought within the rules of order?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Paul Dean)
I have listened carefully to the hon. Member for Basildon (Mr. Proctor), but I have not yet heard anything that is out of order.
§ Mr. Proctor
I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for upholding my right of free speech in the House. If we cannot have free speech on the subject in the House, we cannot have it anywhere.
I was saying that information on births to NCWP mothers who were born in this country is not collected at birth registration. They are regarded as indigenous births. In 1980 they totalled about 10,000, between 1981 and 1986 a further 70,000 will fall into that category and there will be another 110,000 between 1986 and 1991. Deaths in the NCWP population totalled about 6,000 per annum when I last checked the figures. That gives us a natural increase figure of about 60,000 a year, which will increase rapidly in the next decade and portends a further ½ million to ¾ million births by 1991. It is against that background that we must address ourselves to the Immigration Rules.
To those whose response to the figures is "So what?", I quote the words of the late Sir Ronald Bell:If everybody is potentially equal, if every definable group of human beings is potentially equal to every other group, and if qualitative judgments are iniquitious or even illegal, numbers alone must count. If numbers alone count, the Western peoples are doomed. The rate of increase among their populations is much slower and that factor remains constant."—[Official Report, 21 December 1981; Vol. 15, c. 654.]662 I quote also from a speech that I made in my constituency in January and which was fiercely attacked at the time:Anniversary riots are already in preparation, vigilante gangs are at the ready, the Northern Ireland dimension of the bomb and bullet has already been noted; within a few years 'no go' areas for the police will necessitate the deployment of army units on the streets of our capital and other big cities and the imposition of night curfews and other profoundly un-English authoritarian measures".The Home Secretary has spoken of his fear of anniversary riots. Newspapers have documented the vigilante groups. One of my hon. Friends in Committee proposed a night curfew for young law-breakers. The police have admitted that there are sensitive areas. Lord Scarman, referring to the Brixton riots, said in the House of Lords:if that thin blue line had been overwhelmed … there is no other way of dealing with it except the awful ultimate requirement of calling in the Army".—[Official Report, House of Lords, 24 March 1982; Vol. 428, c. 1006.]It is clear that the proponents of multiracialism as a creed, and frequently as a lucrative career, are engaged in a sustained attack on authority, law and order and on our way of life in the United Kingdom as we know it and as we want it to remain.
The Immigration Rules, detailed though they may be, have profound implications for people who live in the inner city areas. There are certainly profound implications for people who live in my constituency where many have tried to get away from the inner city problems by moving to Basildon. That applies to other new towns.
Immigration has unsettled our institutions and traditions that have been nurtured over the centuries and abruptly changed the complexion and texture of our national life. Immigration makes us assume grave burdens and incur grave risks that would otherwise not arise. Immigration is infrequently debated in Parliament. My constituents, and those of other right hon. and hon. Members, have had no say in a matter that has altered intimately, radically, profoundly and irrevocably the character, face and cohesion of the life of our society and the way in which they want to live it.
I am grateful to my right hon. Friends for tabling such a bold and firm amendment to the Opposition's motion. I believe that it would be fairer to black and white alike in our country if we were firmer.
§ 7.6 pm
§ Mr. Jim Marshall (Leicester, South)
I realise, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that right hon. and hon. Members have no choice over the order in which they speak, but I had hoped that I might have an opportunity this evening of speaking after a more reasonable speaker—the hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson). I agreed with 80 per cent. of his speech, particularly the part dealing with United Kingdom female nationals.
It is often my unfortunate lot in the Chamber to follow a nasty speech. This time it is the speech of the hon. Member for Basildon (Mr. Proctor), which could equally have been made by the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) or the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook). There are times, strange though it may appear to some of my right hon. and hon. Friends, when I feel sorry for the Tory Ministers at the Home Office. If the Home Secretary and the Minister of State have to call such hon. Members their hon. Friends one begins to understand the backbone of steel that they require to overcome the desire for repatriation and registration of dependents. Perhaps on some private occasion I can 663 congratulate the Home Secretary and the Minister of State for holding back the racialist nonsense that we have just heard from the hon. Member for Basildon. His speech was more appropriate to Pretoria than to the Mother of Parliaments.
§ Mr. Marlow
The hon. Gentleman referred to repatriation. There are some who would look upon that as resettlement. For example, elderly people in this country might want to return to their country of origin, having come her for perfectly good reasons, but cannot afford to do so. Is it not fair, decent, liberal and humane to provide resources and assist them to return? I cannot understand why the hon. Gentleman should be against such a policy.
§ Mr. Marshall
I am sure that the Minister of State will provide his hon. Friend with the appropriate information during the debate or at some other time. The hon. Gentleman should be aware that funds and foundations exist to help people who wish to return to their country of origin. I have dealt with such cases and I am sure that the Minister of State can give examples.
The Chair has been wise to allow the debate to go wider than the strict interpretation of the Immigration Rules. Our debate has called into question actions and decisions made over the past 20 years of immigration control. One can clearly see that over that time all Governments, whether Labour or Conservative, have a bad record on controlling immigration, and more particularly the immigration of United Kingdom nationals.
The debate reflects the fact that the Government are nastier than their predecessors in implementing the Immigration Rules. The Government follow the instincts and attitudes of the hon. Member for Basildon who, in some senses, reflects the spirit and instincts of the Prime Minister. It was the Prime Minister who gave credibility to the sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for Basildon when she referred to the swamping of the United Kingdom by people with black skins, although in many cases they are citizens of the United Kingdom.
It is unfortunate that such attitudes breed the suspicion referred to by the hon. Member for Basildon. That suspicion is also aroused among the immigrant community. The concept of swamping has lead to a slavish obsession with figures and the need to show that immigration is declining. The hon. Gentleman displayed that obsession. It was as a result of the need to show the decline in immigration with figures that the Government introduced the new Immigration Rules in March 1980.
I agree with my hon. Friends who have made the charge, and made it stick, that the Immigration Rules introduced in March 1980 are sexist and covertly, if not overtly, racially discriminatory. I further support the charge made by my hon. Friends that the rules as applied to dependent relatives living overseas are inhumane.
§ Mr. John Carlisle
The hon. Gentleman refers to Conservative Members' obsession with figures. However, does he not agree that when the Labour Government introduced the Commonwealth Immigration Act 1968 they could have been accused of being obsessed with figures, or perhaps the Labour Government were reflecting the great build-up of opinion that immigration was at that time virtually out of control?
§ Mr. Marshall
I think that my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), 664 who was a member of that Labour Government and who also, I believe, served for some time in the Home Office, would accept that some of the decisions taker by the Labour Government were perhaps racially discriminatory. We are now seeking to reverse the undesirable decisions that were taken by the Labour Government of 1964–70.
The hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Pitt) is correct in saying that the 1968 Act, which limited the rights of United Kingdom nationals to come into this country, was a step in the wrong direction. The Labour Party's new Immigration Rules and nationality legislation seek to ensure that those people who have a claim to British citizenship—not just those resident in the United Kingdom—who will be defined in our new legislation, should have the absolute right of entry into the United Kingdom. My right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook has already outlined, both in the Chamber and elsewhere, the terms on which British citizenship will be given by a future Labour Government.
The 1980 rules were introduced in the full flush of the Tory victory of 1979 and reflected the real spite apparent in the Tory election pledges of that year. My right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook is correct in saving that the Government introduced a new distinction between female United Kingdom nationals—on the one hand, those who were born in the United Kingdom or had a parent born in the United Kingdom and, on the other, those United Kingdom nationals neither of whose parents was born in the United Kingdom or who were not themselves born in the United Kingdom.
The rules make it clear that if one falls into the latter category, one has no right to fetch a husband or fiancé into the United Kingdom. That is overtly racially discriminatory. In 99.9 cases out of a hundred it will be a black female citizen rather than a white who is affected. I suggest that the hon. Member for Orpington reads the Immigration Rules.
§ Mr. Stanbrook
There is all the difference in the world between automatic right of entry to this country and the right to apply and to qualify according to conditions set down by the home country. Most of the cases quoted are those where entry is obtained. We are talking about those who do not qualify and whom the hon. Gentleman would like to see come in willy nilly.
§ Mr. Marshall
I am conscious, Mr. Deputy Speaker, of the passage of time. That will be the last intervention that I am prepared to allow. The hon. Gentleman tries to put words into my mouth to the effect that women have an absolute right to bring husbands into the United Kingdom. That is not true under the Immigration Rules. I am saying that females who have a right to apply to fetch husbands into the United Kingdom must themselves have been born in the United Kingdom or must have a parent who was born in the United Kingdom. Unless they fall into those categories, they have no right to apply. They may ask the Home Secretary to exercise his discretion for a particular purpose. I suggest, however, that the hon. Gentleman reads the Immigration Rules.
I believe that the Immigration Rules are overtly racialist and that they were intended to be racialist in the sense that they would affect black females rather than white females. I am also concerned about the application of the Immigration Rules to dependent relatives. It now seems to me virtually impossible for anyone legally settled in the 665 United Kingdom to have their aged dependent relatives come and settle with them in the United Kingdom even in the case where the near family—sons and daughters of the dependent relative living overseas—are all residing in the United Kingdom.
Dependent relatives have to satisfy two conditions. First, they have to prove that they are dependent on the person sponsoring them in the United Kingdom. The second and more pernicious qualification is that they must have a substantially lower standard of living than that prevailing in the country in which they are at present living. This implies that the children living in the United Kingdom would have to stand idly by and watch their parent or parents in destitution in the country in which they are at present living. That would require a degree of heartlessness by the sponsors living in this country that I have never come across in the immigrant community.
Tory Ministers are saying to people that if they wish their parents to have the chance to come and live in the United Kingdom as dependent relatives, they must stop sending remittances to them from the United Kingdom because those remittances enable them to enjoy a standard of living that is the average in the country where they are at present living. It is therefore only by stopping remittances to the parent or parents, so that their income goes below the average in the country in which they live, that the parent or parents can qualify as dependent relatives.
My impression is that the Government will take action over women in the new Immigration Rules if only to reduce the ability of men to bring in wives or fiancées to that at present enjoyed by women. I hope, however, that the Government will be prepared to show more humanitarian concern to dependent relatives. The Home Secretary and the Minister of State have been successful to some degree on two fronts. They have managed to take the register of the agenda. They have also been able and willing to fight off the blandishments of people like the hon. Members for Basildon and Northampton, North to introduce some kind of forced repatriation.
§ Mr. Proctor
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. He slipped the words "forced repatriation" into his remarks. I have never advocated forced repatriation. I hope that he will accept that and make it clear.
§ Mr. Marshall
I am willing to withdraw the words "forced repatriation" and to substitute the words "voluntary repatriation". The Home Secretary and the Minister of State have been prepared to refuse all blandishments to introduce any form of repatriation whether voluntary or forcible.
There is a third matter on which I think Ministers could have been more forthcoming. A number of hon. Members including myself have continually asked the Home Secretary to be prepared to transfer some of the quota vouchers from East Africa, which are at present undersubscribed, to the waiting list on the Sub-continent. The hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Pitt) was correct in saying that the waiting time on the Sub-continent for a special voucher is, on average, about six years. I know of some cases that have gone as far as eight, nine or 10 years.
666 Much misery and hardship could be removed if the Home Office were prepared to transfer some of the vouchers that have not been taken up in East Africa to the Indian Sub-continent. If that were done, a great deal could be done to remove what the official Opposition spokesman referred to as falling belowthe standards of humanity, compassion and respect for family life in a civilised community.It would ensure that families were united far more quickly than they have been hitherto.
§ Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, West)
I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall), who has a constituency somewhat similar in character and background to mine. Some 20 per cent. of my electorate is of ethnic origin. I believe that the hon. Gentleman has a similar, if not slightly higher, proportion in his constituency. We represent parts of the Midlands which have experienced the large-scale immigration that has had the most dramatic effect on our towns and cities. I have sympathy with his view, because he speaks with experience, as I do. However, I begin to cross swords with the hon. Gentleman when he parades the bleeding heart that has been paraded by Opposition Members who have spoken, including the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley).
The Opposition's motion is innocuous in itself. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook took my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to task on the very wording of the motion. I suggest that the wording is not only unfair, but out of character with the beliefs held by many Labour Members. It has been interesting to hear the divergence of opinion put forward by Labour Members, not least by the hon. Member for Leicester, South. He hinted that had he been in the House in 1968 when the Race Relations Act was passed under a Labour Government, he could have been in the Lobby against his Government on that measure.
§ Mr. Jim Marshall
I do not need to explain to the House my views on nationality. Had I been in the House in 1968, I would have done that. However, as the hon. Gentleman has picked up my comment on this matter, I should point out that, if he reads the reports of the British Nationality Bill Committee of last year, he will see that I said that all United Kingdom nationals who do not have the right of entry into the United Kingdom should be given full British citizenship with the right of entry and that those who become British overseas citizens without the right of entry from 1 January 1983 should be full citizens with the right of entry.
§ Mr. Carlisle
The hon. Gentleman has confirmed my opinion. He will no doubt be grateful to me for allowing him to make clear his opinion. It gives Conservative Members an opportunity to know where the Opposition stand.
The speech of the hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Pitt) was as predictable as usual. It showed that the Liberal Party has followed an open door policy on immigration over the past two decades. One shudders to think what might happen if it or any of its Alliance friends actually came to power.
I must take issue with the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook on some of the things that he said. It was interesting that, at the beginning of his speech, he 667 criticised the Government's amendment. He started by saying "We", but went on to say "I wish to offer comments." There is no doubt that there are many divisions on this policy, as there are on any policy put forward by the Labour Party on this issue. That is why the motion is innocuous. However, it will not have the support of many Labour Party supporters—those who are left. As hon. Members know, I represent one of the most marginal seats in the country. I often come into contact with those from across the political spectrum. I suggest that if this motion were known to the Labour Party's supporters—not least those of ethnic backgrounds and those who come into contact with their local Members of Parliament and the Home Office—many would disagree with it.
I endorse the sentiments of my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Proctor) about the Minister of State, our right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison). No man has tried harder in the past three years to be fair and compassionate. His civil servants have assisted him ably. The various aspersions cast by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook on immigration officials, who are doing an extremely difficult job both here and abroad, were disgraceful. When they read his words in Hansard they will be upset that he and other spokesmen for the Opposition on this subject should cast such unfair aspersions on them. The Labour Party should note what has been said tonight.
I differ from my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon in thinking that primary immigration has been considerably reduced. Secondary immigration is affected by the rules. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook accused the Government of being "obsessed with illegals" and talked of a "handful of illegal entrants". That is incorrect. It shows a naivety on his part. He and the House know, as do many right hon. and hon. Members with constituencies with as large an ethnic minority as mine that illegal entry still occurs.
It is always difficult to find out whether the number is small or large. The amnesties granted by the previous Labour Government on two occasions gave false hopes to many who now think that they can come here illegally and benefit from an amnesty. I welcome the strong views expressed during the election campaign and tonight by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. He said that we shall be unremitting in our attitude towards illegal immigrants.
There is nothing more unfair to those already here than those who arrive here illegally. The amnesties have done immeasurable damage to race relations. I find that immigrant leaders, to whom I speak frequently, are as forthright as the Government in condemning those who try to enter the country illegally.
I wish to take one particular aspect of these rules—visitors. The picture painted by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook and by other Labour Members was that every applicant who wished to come to this country, perhaps for a holiday, was genuine. Have Labour Members accepted the pleas of those at a port or airport to represent their cases as I have? For example, the visitor may have requested a time limit of four weeks for a holiday and the Home Office may have allowed him to come for four weeks. How many times have hon. Members received requests for help to get an extention of time?
My experience, which of course is not as great as that of the hon. Members for Ealing, Southall (Mr. Bidwell) 668 and York (Mr. Lyon), is that many such cases come back after the time allowed and ask for further time. Obviously, people become suspicious. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook suggested that immigration authorities hounded the people coming in and did not believe the genuineness of their reasons, but it is hardly surprising, in view of the numerous requests for extensions of the original time, that officials are suspicious about others coming in.
§ Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)
The hon. Gentleman, from what he admits is his limited experience of dealing with such cases, said that those who have been admitted after some difficulties have applied for an extension of their visits. Will he tell us, again from his experience as a Member of Parliament, how many of the people he has dealt with and who were admitted as visitors came back and said that they wanted to stay on permanently in the United Kingdom?
§ Mr. Carlisle
The hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) misheard what I said. I did not say that they came back and said that they wanted to stay permanently. I said that they wanted to extend their stay.
§ Mr. Winnick
I did not mishear at all, with respect to the hon. Gentleman. How many came back and asked him, having come in as visitors, not for an extension to stay longer—after all, that is not the greatest crime in the world, because there may be all kinds of reasons for wanting to stay on—but to stay in the United Kingdom permanently?
§ Mr. Carlisle
Obviously, I cannot give the exact figures, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not expect me to do so. I can tell him that several have come back and applied, having come into the country. Opposition Members seem to forget that coming here as a visitor is a very easy way to get into the country. They then extend their stay, and hope that by some means of appeal—to their Member of Parliament, through the courts, or some other means—they can extend their stay. They may not even have wanted to extend their stay, but may have changed their minds, having seen what life here was like.
I question the vast appeal procedure that exists. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook virtually complained that under the appeals scheme they could not slay very long. In my opinion, that is nonsense. A student in my constituency came here as a visitor for one month and left last Christmas, having been here for about nine years. Originally, he came here for four weeks as a visitor. I am certain that if Opposition Members look into their files, they will find similar cases.
The greatest tragedy of all involves those whom we cannot count. I am sure that all hon. Members agree that people come in and then disappear. In the great conurbations of the Midlands, and in our large towns and cities, in the communities that they go to, it is not difficult for them to disappear and to survive by one means or another. Moonlighting is not confined to the white indigenous population. I have evidence in my town of the existence—certainly in the past—of cheap black labour, and that labour is available to employers w ho are unscrupulous enough to take it. Let Opposition Members who sit with hands on hearts and say that every person who comes through Heathrow, Newhaven or wherever is a 669 genuine visitor, remember that people do come into the country illegally in that way, and that the Government are absolutely right to use all their efforts to try to remove those people.
If Opposition Members are intent, as they obviously are, to represent the views of people of ethnic origin—in some cases they seem to think that it is their sole right to do so in this House—I wonder whether they have asked the immigrant leaders what their views would be if the Government's policy were changed, certainly on the lines proposed by the hon. Member for Croydon, North-West, and if the doors were opened. Immigrants themselves would be hurt more than any other sector of the community if large numbers of immigrants came into certain areas, and it is natural for them to go to the areas where their fellow countrymen live. There is nothing wrong in that. We would do the same if we went abroad as immigrants. It is my experience that if large numbers came in, whether legally or illegally, they would put an enormous strain on local resources and on the people already there.
The people there are probably as adamant against large-scale immigration, or the swamping that was mentioned by the hon. Member for Leicester, South, as those of us in the rest of the country. As my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon said, the British public was never asked whether it wanted such large numbers of immigrants in the first place.
In my opinion, the motion is an insult. It is an insult to the officials who try extremely hard to apply the rules. After all, they are paid by us to do so. It is an insult to the immigrant community leaders who understand the problems. They realise that large numbers of people will bring large numbers of problems with them. It is also an insult to Members of this House, many of whom spend long hours and much effort in trying to represent the cases of people whom often they have never seen and possibly people whom they will never see again, some of whom have only a tenuous connection with their constituencies.
For Opposition Members to complain about the newish policy of the Home Office whereby Members of Parliament should deal with their constituency problems is nonsense. Hon. Members know that it has happened in the past. Certainly, it happened to me once, when another constituency Member—incidentally, of another political party—tried to interfere in a case in which I was seeking to represent the views of my constituents. An enormous amount of work is involved, and for the Opposition to treat it as lightly as they have, and in such an insulting manner, belittles them as a party and those whom they purport to represent.
I fully support the Government amendment. It is a fair and firm amendment. I support the immigration policy of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. The numbers of people coming in were too many. These are fair rules. Certainly, there will be anomalies. Certainly, there will be odd cases, which right hon. and hon. Members have instanced. There will be exceptions, and painful decisions will have to be made, but I have every confidence that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and his team are taking decisions humanely, compassionately and fairly, and with the greatest respect to all those who intend to come here.
§ Mr. George Morton (Manchester, Moss Side)
The hon. Member for Luton, West (Mr. Carlisle) asked whether we on these Benches listened to the views of the community leaders on immigration policy. I assure him that on many occasions I have listened to many complaints about the attitude of the Home Office, as represented by its officials, and their apparent distrust of Asian business men who have been abroad on business and have come back to their homes, and of their relatives corning here on visits from Pakistan and elsewhere. They have repeatedly told me that they are deeply concerned about, and hurt by, the attitude of some officials and the support that they have from Ministers. They are not asking for no immigration control. They are asking for the "firm but fair" control to which the Government amendment refers but which we fear does not exist.
The Conservative Party has always presented the issue in terms of numbers and there has been a lot of talk about that. Therefore, I make no apology for basing my speech on individual cases which clearly bring home the effect of the rules and their implementation.
Mrs. Malik is a constituent of mine who was born in Karachi in 1954. She came to the United Kingdom at the age of six and was educated in Manchester, obtaining a degree from Manchester university. She is now a lecturer in mathematics at a college of further education in the city.
Mrs. Malik visited Pakistan in 1978 and became engaged to a resident there. She married him in 1980. He is not entitled to join her in the United Kingdom under the present rules. He has applied for permission to join his wife permanently, but he has little chance of success, other than at the Home Secretary's discretion. He applied after the marriage in 1980 and had an interview in February 1982. Mrs. Malik is now waiting for a further interview. In the meantime, knowing that it would be a long time before the final approval could be given, he applied for permission to come on a visit to see his wife. That was refused because he was already applying for permission to stay permanently.
It is unusual, particularly in a Muslim household, for the woman to be a breadwinner. Conservative Members might say that it is Mrs. Malik's duty to join her husband and give up her career. However, I do not think that the Government would accept that argument. That women should be given equality in some respect is certainly the reasoning of the British Nationality Act.
Another case concerns Mr. Nagvi who came here as a student. He later married and settled here. He and his wife now have three children. It was only when they applied for naturalisation that his immigration position was found to be in doubt.
Mr. Nagvi left the United Kingdom before he was reported because he did not want that on his record. He now has no entitlement of entry to join his wife because she was not born here. His wife and children stayed on, as they are entitled to do, but as they no longer have the income which he brought in from his small business they are now dependent on the Department of Health and Social Security. Far from his presence being a charge on the State, as the Government might argue in certain cases, his absence is causing such a charge.
671 In those cases the rules can be seen to be unreasonable. It is not just their implementation that is at issue, although that is the case in my first example. Those are personal tragedies that arise from the commitment to cut numbers.
Other cases have already been mentioned. There is the problem of elderly relatives and visitors. It is wrong that ethnic minorities have to accept treatment that would be quite unacceptable to the white community. I cannot imagine the reaction if those of my white constituents who visit their relations in Canada or Australia to see their grandchildren and to have a few months in a different country were to be treated by the immigration control in the way that the Asian community is treated in Britain.
With regard to visits, I find that on some occasions immigration officers are so intent on finding discrepancies that they fail utterly to see reality.
§ Mr. Morton
The hon. Gentleman seems to be intent on interrupting every speech made by Labour Members, but I will give way.
§ Mr. Carlisle
In that case, I am doubly grateful to the hon. Gentleman. He mentioned Australia. Will he inform the House how many immigrants of skin other than white have gone to that country over the past 50 years?
§ Mr. Morton
I do not have that information at my fingertips and I do not think that it is relevant.
My next case relates to an elderly gentleman who arrived at Heathrow early last summer. He was deeply devoted to Britain and the British people with whom he had worked in Indian Government service. He wanted to visit his son who lived in Manchester and, on his way home, to visit Mecca for Haj. I shall not deal now with the difficulties of getting Saudi Arabian visas. The official line of the Saudi Arabian embassy is not the line that is adopted.
Because this gentleman had no visa for Saudi Arabia and it was some time before Haj, it was thought that he was likely to want to stay in the United Kingdom. He was refused entry but was given temporary admission. During that period he had a mild heart attack and was unable to travel for a couple of months—in fact, until the time at which he could make the visit for Haj.
He managed to get a visa and a flight to Jeddah and went. He told the Home Office that he was going and the flight that he was travelling on. However, even when he had gone immigration officials were still pursuing his son in Manchester to find out where his father was and why he had not left. They insisted that he had intended to stay. They were so sure that he was intending to stay that they could not accept that he had already left. His lifelong affection for Britain and its people was shattered by that experience.
The Government have proved that they can reduce the number of immigrants. I hope that we can now look to the Government to consider the justice of what they are doing and the damage to family life that arises from their activities. I hope that we shall not only see some result in terms of attitude but some changes to the Immigration Rules.
§ Mr. Tim Sainsbury (Hove)
I do not want to follow the hon. Member for Manchester, Moss Side (Mr. Morton) in his constituency cases, although at least one of them raises a point to which I should like to return later.
I agree that the debate is not about whether immigration rules are needed. At one moment the hon. Gentleman suggested that it might be about the rules that we have. I do not read the motion on the Order Paper in that context. I start from the position that all hon. Members agree that we must have immigration rules—every country has them—and that the debate is not meant to be about what the rules that we have provided.
It may well be that we are not debating changes in the Immigration Rules because the Opposition could not—or perhaps it is rather more likely that they dare not—come out openly with the changes that they would like. We are debating how the rules are applied.
§ Mr. John Sever (Birmingham, Ladywood)
If the hon. Gentleman takes the trouble to look through the Committee debates about 18 months ago when the House discussed the British Nationality Bill, he will find clearly set out the Opposition's views on how they propose to amend the regulations when they are in office.
§ Mr. Sainsbury
The hon. Gentleman may well be right, but we are all familiar with the rapidly changing nature of the Opposition's views and the difficulty that they sometimes have in agreeing for any length of time—or, indeed, at all—on what they should be. However, according to the Order Paper the subject of our debate is how to apply the rules. It is an interesting time to hold such a debate, because at this time of year more sport is shown on our television screens than at any other time. However, not many hon. Members have time to watch it. Similar problems are likely to occur during sporting encounters—whether they are caused by the comments by Mr. McEnroe and others on the quality of a line call at Wimbledon, or whether they have arisen during a football match.
I suspect that I am the only hon. Member to have a constituency that includes not only a first-class county cricket ground but a first division football ground.
§ Mr. John Major (Huntingdonshire)
Lancashire has a first-class county cricket ground and Manchester United is also in the first division.
§ Mr. Sainsbury
When I go to the Goldstone ground to watch Brighton and Hove Albion play it occurs to me that I might not be the only person occasionally to doubt the clarity of the ref's decision. However, both then and now I must remember that the referee not only has much more experience of detecting misdemeanours on the football pitch, but is much nearer the action than I am. That also applies to some of the immigration cases that we hear about. Sometimes people come to me with heart-rending stories and it is hard to understand why they have had problems, have been asked to leave, have been refused an extension or been denied admission. However, there are usually two sides to the story, and one must listen carefully to both sides.
I am not saying that mistakes are never made. No one would suggest that referees never make mistakes. Unfortunately, the television's ability to replay action from different angles sometimes allows us to see that 673 mistakes have been made. When there are so many cases to be considered, mistakes and misjudgments will occasionally, and inevitably, occur. Nevertheless, we should not fall into the trap of thinking that we have necessarily heard the full story when we hear a heartrending case.
To return to the sporting analogy, Opposition Members are a little like some of those who attend football matches and who express the view—in vivid and one might almost say forceful language—that the referee may be blind or biased, has been bribed by the other side or is generally extremely unfair. On most occasions—if not all—those comments are unjustified in Britain. I hope that hon. Members will agree that those who make such noises—which can be made in forceful and vivid language—are not contributing to tranquility on the terraces. In their way, and probably inadvertently, they may be stirring up the type of trouble that we all deplore. In the same way, the opposition may be running the risk—quite unintentionally—of damaging instead of improving community relations by moving a motion that clearly implies that the Immigration Rules are not being applied withstandards of humanity, compassion and respect for family life in a civilised community.If the Opposition care about good community and race relations they should, instead, direct their energies towards improving community relations. Virtually all of us have that objective in common.
Perhaps an analogy can be drawn between the Immigration Rules and the problem of achieving good community relations in employment practice. If a West Indian finds that his job application has been unsuccessful he is likely to suspect that the application failed not because his qualifications were inadequate or because someone else had more relevant experience, but because of his colour. In employment, as in immigration, we have a double duty. Our first duty is to ensure that there is no predjudice or inequality in the application of the rules.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon
If the hon. Gentleman finishes his speech now he will just be in time for a television programme that used a hidden camera to analyse several cases. He will be somewhat surprised to find that in central London there is clear evidence of racial discrimination by reputable employers. He might take that into account when considering our attitude towards immigration. We tabled the motion because we believe that that is what the ethnic minorities wanted us to do. They are disturbed by the effect of immigration decisions on community relations.
§ Mr. Sainsbury
I hope, and would like to believe, that the hon. Gentleman is not suggesting that because there is occasionally prejudice in recruitment practices all employers are equally prejudiced. Of course, there is the odd rotten apple. However, we shall not serve the cause of good community relations well if we put abroad the suggestion that the Immigration Rules are generally applied unfairly. However, the Opposition seem to be attempting to do that and they are just as unjustified in that as they would be if they suggested that employment practice throughout the country was unfair and racially 674 prejudiced. If we follow that line we shall fail in our duty. Such suggestions are only likely to increase the suspicions of many of our people.
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will agree that it is sometimes necessary to take positive action to ensure that there is general equality of recruitment. Positive action must sometimes be taken to ensure that there are enough applications from the ethnic minorities and that they have the qualifications. That requires careful and planned activity. There are certain areas of risk. Judging from one or two cases, we must ensure that the rules are explained carefully to applicants, particularly when the applicant may not have a good grasp of English. If there is any doubt about the quality of the applicant's English—understandably some applicants may be inclined to exaggerate their grasp of English and do not let on that it is imperfect—the officer should ensure that someone is present to explain and interpret, as necessary.
On the problem of uniting families, I reject the view that is sometimes advanced, although not in this debate, that one would be right to prevent dependent children from joining their parents when those parents have been able to settle legally on the clear understanding that their children would be allowed to join them. Such an approach would be un-Christian and unjustified. I am concerned that we do not treat as fairly as we should some of the dependent parents of those who are legally settled here.
The hon. Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall) referred to remittances and said that, if the remittances continue, the parent is held to be not in need of coming to this country. One of the cases to which the hon. Member for Manchester, Moss Side (Mr. Morton) referred was also concerned with the problem of dependent parents. Even the most stringent critics of the numbers of immigrants would not suggest that the admission of aged widowed mothers would in the long run increase the numbers of immigrants from the New Commonwealth. We must examine carefully the application of the rules to such cases. I am sure that my right hon. Friend will be able to assure the House that our country will maintain its proud record of admitting political refugees. In that connection, I welcomed the decision with regard to the Vietnamese boat people.
Overall, the Opposition have not established their case. I return, perhaps for the last time, to the sporting analogy that I hope will appeal to the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Graham). The Opposition sometimes remind me of people who, in a football match between France and Cameroon, would accuse the referee of racial prejudice if he were to send off one of the Cameroon players, on the grounds that the poor man was black. That is not entirely fair because the referee could not carry out his job without, if necessary, sending off a black player. Equally, because many applicants with doubtful credentials come from the New Commonwealth or are black and therefore run into problems and because some of the cases which come up for scrutiny turn out to be from those people, one cannot therefore conclude that rules are being applied in a racially prejudiced manner.
I have the greatest confidence in my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Home Office. I know from personal experience that whenever I have had to intervene in a case, it has been looked at with great care and sympathy. Bearing in mind the nature of my constituency, I have had a surprising number of cases. I must agree with what my 675 right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said when he detailed the attention, the care and the various stages through which cases in doubt can be taken.
One of the most telling points my right hon. Friend made was his reference to the number of cases of deportation under the previous Government. That seems to prove that we have a difficult problem in applying the rules but it is a problem that will be faced by any Government. I am satisfied that we are applying the rules fairly and have no hesitation in supporting the amendment and rejecting the Opposition's motion the case for which they have totally failed to establish.
§ Mr. Edward Lyons (Bradford, West)
Any just system of immigration control should be fair, should be seen to be fair and should operate with reasonable expedition. There is delay throughout the system, and long delay, in itself, is a serious injustice. I know that there has been delay under previous Administrations, but anyone who studies the system as it then operated or as it now operates will know that, since delay is a denial of justice, there is a denial of justice in immigration control.
Between application in countries abroad and interview at a British post abroad there is often a delay of more than a year. Sometimes, after interview, it is necessary to interview a relative in this country. There is a further long delay before that interview takes place and a further long delay after that interview before a decision is reached. If there is a refusal and one goes into the appeals system there is a further huge delay. Delays on that scale—long delays between filing an appeal and the hearing of the appeal itself and between application and final resolution of an application, sometimes of more than three years—cannot be right.
We must examine the system to discover all the points at which we can cut out cumbersome procedures. We also need more staff—whatever the expenditure constraints—in order to reduce the delay which is a major failing in the system.
Members of Parliament with problems about visitors receive every assistance from Ministers' officials. Those at the other end of the telephone are invariably courteous. However, people are having to wait long periods for the visitors they are welcoming at Heathrow. There is a feeling that visitors at Heathrow are unnecessarily refused. In the event of a refusal, officials have to decide whether to grant temporary admission—for example, when a Member of Parliament intervenes. If the officials decide to grant temporary admission it means not that they feel that the individual is likely to disappear but simply that the person may wish to stay longer than stated.
The Minister may take five or six weeks to consider the submission from a Member of Parliament on behalf of the refused visitor. He will then come to his conclusion and say "I have come to the conclusion that this person must leave." Since it is accepted that the man or woman will not disappear, why should the Minister not allow the person to stay longer? If he grants formal leave for a visit the Minister knows or fears that the person may apply for an extension or appeal and "play the system". Why does the Minister not take longer than five or six weeks to decide upon the submission since there is no harm if the person stays a little longer—for the three or four months 676 requested? After all, such people will not poison us. They are doing no harm and it seems unreasonable to make such visitors leave a few weeks early.
The issue of elderly parents for settlement is another example of a lack of a humanitarian attitude. A woman of 75 may have in this country four sons and perhaps daughters who are married with children. The woman may never have seen all those grandchildren. She may want to settle with her family, but if she has one married daughter who lives 100 miles away from her in Pakistan or India she is almost certain to be refused because, in the words of the rule,She has a close relative to turn to.There should be a liberalisation of the settlement rule for elderly parents. The position for husbands and fiancés is that if a man settled here only a year ago he can bring his bride to Britain. There is no problem. But a girl who arrived in Britain as a baby who has British citizenship by registration and speaks no language but English and has lived here all her life has no right under the existing rules 50 and 52 to bring a fiancé or husband here. It is clear that the rule about husbands and fiancés is sexually and, in effect, racially discriminatory.
On appeals, the notice of refusal is often sent to people who cannot read. If they do not appeal within 14 days their right of appeal is lost. I am referring to the refusal of an extension. If the right of appeal is lost, out the person must go. There should be some discretion to extend the period for appeal when a good reason is offered. Appeals should also be dealt with more quickly.
When elderly people wished to come here to see their children and applied for settlement but were refused they would never be allowed here for a visit. The application for settlement is on their record and they will be refused short stay.
People with relatives here should not be barred from visiting just because they have been refused permanent settlement in the past. Elderly people have no means of seeing grandchildren who live here unless the grandchildren travel abroad to see them simply because years ago they were refused permanent settlement. The officials have discretion, but in 99 cases out of 100, if a previous application for permanent settlement has been refused, the old lady or the old man is prevented from coming in as a visitor. I hope that the Minister will do something about that on humanitarian grounds.
I should have liked to raise other matters, but in view of the shortage of time and in deference to others who wish to speak I shall not do so. A civilised country cannot be proud of some of these rules and the way in which they are sometimes applied.
§ Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)
The wording of the motion is defective. That is surprising since those who drafted it should know better. There are no such things as immigration regulations; there are only Immigration Rules. The motion refers to the implementation of the regulations. It transpires that the objection is to the exercise of ministerial discretion which is strictly outside the rules. The Opposition appear to be in disarray.
My principal objection to the motion is that it is pure hypocrisy. The Labour Party's words do not measure up to its deeds. Labour Governments have been stricter on immigration, broadly speaking, than any Conservative Government. It is true that we were the first to introduce 677 any control over Commonwealth citizens in 1962, but, when the Labour Party came to power in 1964 a Labour Home Secretary, Sir Frank Soskice, tightened up the rules and reduced the quotas. Who took the decision in 1968 to restrict the right of United Kingdom passport holders to come to Britain without let or hindrance? It was a Labour Home Secretary, who was overwhelmed by the thought that the country could be flooded by East African Asians because of a technicality. As a result, the Labour Government introduced the 1968 Act which severely restricted the flow of East African immigrants, albeit that they had United Kingdom passports. That draconian action was taken by a Labour Home Secretary who, so greatly was he regarded by his party, subsequently became Prime Minister.
Although the Labour and Liberal parties promised that the 1962 Act would be repealed, it was not repealed by the Labour Government in 1964. The 1968 and 1971 Acts, unifying and codifying all immigration law, were not repealed by the Labour Government of 1974. How are we to believe the Opposition's protestation now? In Opposition, Labour Members talk glibly about opening the doors to all the deserving cases, yet in power they close the door as tightly as, if not more tightly than, we do.
According to my information, the hon. Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill) was greatly criticised for her strictness in applying the Immigration Rules. I believe that the present Minister of State, an excellent Minister, is too soft over the Immigration Rules. Many of us, in a general way, would prefer the hon. Member for Halifax to be in charge of immigration.
Why is there such a difference between what the Labour Party says and what it does when it has the responsibility and power to do what it claims it will do? Why does the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) huff and puff about what will happen to the British Nationality Act, for example, when we all know that when the time comes he will behave exactly the same as his predecessors and do nothing? It is because we all know that the immigrant community is already so large and gives us so many problems of social friction and racial tension that it is not desirable to increase the size of that population. That is why we do not want to increase the number of immigrants coming in. That is why we all talk in terms of a strict control over immigration.
That is what we say when we have responsibility, but when they have no responsibility the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook and his hon. Friends talk about monstrous injustices created by Conservative Ministers applying rules which they know are sensible and reasonable in view of the objective—to contain the huge problem arising out of the presence in our midst of millions of people whose origins lie elsewhere and whose absorption into the population is extremely difficult. We are all working at the problem. There are various ways of doing so. Immigration and its strict control is a policy which every sensible person accepts. The leaders of the immigrant community also accept it. They know that their prospects of acceptance and of reducing racial tension will be harmed if continuing waves of immigrants are allowed in. Some members of the Labour Party would wish to open the door again and allow many more immigrants into this country. The hon. Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall), who appears to hold that view, need not worry. If we ever 678 have another Labour Government, which I doubt, he will not be invited by the powers that be to be a Home Office Minister responsible for immigration. They understand the true position. The prospect of increasing immigration is one that all sensible people reject. All sensible people opt for fair, humane but strict control over immigration. Much nonsense is talked about immigration, and this motion is especially misconceived.
I turn now to visitors to this country who are challenged as to their bona fides. It has been suggested that many more coloured people are challenged than white and that therefore our immigration policy must be racialist. Most of those who wish to settle in Britain come from tropical countries and are coloured. The Home Secretary said earlier that of the 640 people who were deported as illegal immigrants and of the 248 illegal immigrants who were permitted to stay, the vast majority were coloured.
Hence it is perfectly reasonable for immigration officers to examine a little more sceptically the bona fides of those who apply to stay in Britain as visitors for six months. Fewer Americans in proportion to the size of their population come to Britain and apply to settle compared with those from the other countries that have been mentioned. We all know that many people from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh wish to come here and share the benefits that we all enjoy. One cannot blame them for wishing to do so, but one can blame an Administration that allows them entry at the expense of good race relations.
The initial argument about foreign husbands of British wives is whether they should have the right to settle here. The hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Pitt) was wrong to say that they cannot enter this country. Of course they can, but they must qualify as any other immigrant. There are plenty of opportunities for them to do so. I have had applications from people coming from tropical countries and the New Commonwealth to settle here, many of which have succeeded for various permissible reasons under the Immigration Rules. Husbands of British citizens who wish to settle in this country can prove their case. The hon. and learned Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Lyons) shakes his head. His argument is that there should be no conditions of entry and that foreign husbands should be admitted automatically with no questions asked. That is not our immigration policy, nor should it be. There should be no open door in such cases. It is natural for a wife to join her husband in the home that he must provide for her. That is our way of life and it also happens to be the way of life of the Indian Sub-continent, but we are perfectly entitled to make a distinction and to say to a wife who happens to be British that if her husband wishes to join her here, in reverse of the normal rule, he must qualify in the normal way.
The Government are doing their best. I wish only that they were stricter on immigration control. However, the motion deserves rejection because the Labour Party is a fraudulent party when discussing this subject.
§ Mr. John Sever (Birmingham, Ladywood)
The dilemma that the House faces today is a frequent one. The Opposition have put to the Government a reasoned proposition that requires an answer. The Home Secretary, in line with ministerial practice, arrived at the House with a carefully prepared text that was doubtless drawn up for 679 him in the light of his policies so that he could advise the House about the Government's view on the Immigration Rules and the amendments proposed to them.
The problem is that the Opposition's arguments went largely unanswered. My right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) outlined three matters about which the Opposition are anxious. They are the implementation and method of controlling immigration into the United Kingdom that centres on the rights of British women to have their husbands with them here; the dependent relatives, both elderly and young, who wish to join their families here; and visitors who wish to see their families and friends. The Minister seems to be jumping about already.
§ Mr. Raison
I am jumping about merely because I wish to say that part of the problem is that the wording of the Opposition's motion implied that this was to be a debate not about what the rules should be but about the operation and implementation of the rules. We have been rather confused as to what the Opposition wish to discuss.
§ Mr. Sever
I am sorry that the Minister is confused, but it seems to be the normal state in which he operates. What my right hon. Friend said was clear and it should be simple enough for the Minister to reply to the questions that were put to him.
We should consider the difficulties that many ethnic minority leaders discuss with Labour Members. Conservative Members say that they have had representations from community leaders calling for a strong view to be taken on whether the rules should be implemented so as to control illegal immigration.
I was priviledged yesterday to attend the wedding of a close friend in the Guru Ravidass temple in my constituency. Community leaders told me that I should try to point out to the House the difficulties experienced by some of those who were intimately involved with the wedding arrangements. The groom's family were anxious that some relatives should be with them on such a happy and important occasion. The Immigration Rules operate in such a way that two relatives who sought entry to the United Kingdom for a limited period to attend the wedding were allowed to do so. For a change, that is a good luck story. Often I make representations to the Home Office about people being detained when they have entered the United Kingdom with the sole intention of attending a marriage, funeral or other religious event. They are frustrated from doing so because of the harsh implementation of the regulations.
Yesterday we were fortunate. The relatives were able to attend their nephew's wedding and everything was successful. However, to ensure that the visitors were looked after properly, two of my constituents had to travel to Heathrow on Thursday, one to drive the car and the other to help if there were any difficulties with interpretation or with the request for leave to remain in the United Kingdom for the visit. Two people lost time from work—one with considerable difficulty. It happens thousands of times every year. We hear about many cases at Heathrow where relatives and friends must take time off from work and lose money and suffer inconvenience in trying to help desperately worried people who wish to enter the United Kingdom for genuine reasons.
That is the argument that my right hon. Friend tried to put to the Home Secretary this afternoon. Many of my 680 right hon. and hon. Friends have tried today to impress upon the Government how difficult it is for people with valid reasons to enter the United Kingdom. That is because the Government have erected so many hurdles for them to leap over to get into this country. It is the Government's responsibility to reconsider carefully the way in which the regulations operate and the effect that they have on community life for many of our citizens.
Reference has been made to the appeals system. The Government should look carefully at the way in which appeals are dealt with. I believe that if someone has what he considers to be a reasoned and valid case for arguing with the authorities about the interpretation of the immigration regulations, he should be allowed to appeal in the United Kingdom—not when he has been dispatched post haste to India or Bangladesh, but while he is here—and put forward a reasoned and rational argument for staying here. The Government could do themselves a service by accepting in principle that if someone has a case to argue, he should be allowed to go through the appeals system while still in the United Kingdom.
One of the harshest areas of interpretation in the Immigration Rules concerns elderly dependent relatives who seek to visit their relatives in the United Kingdom. The dilemma has been outlined by one or two hon. Members. Elderly people who, several years ago, may have made an application to join their families for permanent settlement, might have to come to the United Kingdom for a serious domestic purpose, such as the death of a close relative, or a happier one, such as the marriage of grandchildren, whom they wish to see for the first time. Sometimes marriages take place in the United Kingdom of people born here, whose grandparents, in India, for example, have never seen them. When the young people get married, the elderly dependent relatives reasonably want to be there to celebrate a major occasion in the life of their family.
The grandparents find that when they try to come to the United Kingdom they are disallowed because someone somewhere has dug out a file that says that in 1975 they applied to come here permanrntly. They did that because their families and children were settled here, probably making a reasonable living in a settled and sensible fashion. They were trying to reunite the family, but the application was turned down. Now the grandparents want to come to this country for a wedding or another occasion, but they cannot get in. That is harsh and unreasonable. It militates against the maintenance of sound family life for many people.
Such an occurrence happens not now and again, but daily, to my constituents. As the Minister knows, the forbearance of his staff at the Home Office is such that they can deal with many of my inquiries with good will and grace. However, we should not have to do that. I hope that the Minister will take this point on board. We should not have to try to convince Minsters and ministerial staff of the validity of the arguments of some people who want to enter the United Kingdom for legitimate short-term visits.
The Government now have the opportunity to explain to the House why they cannot improve the situation. Such an improvement would benefit all of us. Community leaders, such as those to whom I spoke yesterday at the wedding that I attended, are concerned about making sure that the regulations keep out undesirables—which is fair and reasonable—but they ask why it is so difficult for 681 genuine visitors to enter the United Kingdom for legitimate purposes. That is a reasonable question, however one throws the dice. The Minister should come up with some reasonable answers.
§ Mr. Tim Eggar (Enfield, North)
The hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Sever) argued as a constituency Member. I am sure that if he referred to the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon), he would be told that it is easy to theorise and make the right noises in Opposition, but that when the reality of Government hits hon. Members, it is necessary to take some harsh decisions. If they are not prepared to do so, they get their just deserts.
It has been common ground that Britain, like every other country, has a right to control its immigration. No one, with the possible exception of the hon. Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall) has questioned that.
§ Mr. Jim Marshall
The hon. Gentleman should be careful what he says. I oppose Britain refusing admittance to the maximum. We refuse admission to our nationals. Can the hon. Gentleman give an example of any other country that operates a similar policy?
§ Mr. Eggar
Because of its history, Britain is unique in having so many different forms of citizenship. We have been willing to put people into different categories while giving them a British passport—with qualifications—in a way that no other country has been prepared to do. We regard the issue from a different perspective.
Having been a Member of Parliament for some three years I have noticed the care, equity and personal attention that we give to each immigration case. That is a considerable tribute, not only to my right hon. Friend the Minister of State but to the House and the way in which the country operates. I doubt whether any other country affords that level of personal attention from Ministers, senior civil servants and Members of Parliament.
Many hon. Members have given examples of specific problems that they have encountered with regard to the Immigration Rules. I shall give three examples of my own. The first relates to male fiancés. I do not often find myself agreeing with my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) on immigration matters, but I agree with his reasonable argument that there is no justification for a female who has the right of abode in the United Kingdom being denied the right to bring in her fiancé. There is no inherent justification for that.
Perhaps like other hon. Members I am influenced by cases that have come to my attention. Before I came here I remember vividly trying to help an Asian family that lived in the same street as me. Its eldest daughter had been married by arrangement in Britain to a man who came from the same area as her family in the Indian Subcontinent. The man arrived, the necessary financial arrangements were made—the traditional system whereby the dowry comes from the fiancée was in this case reversed—and the ceremony was carried out in accordance with law and custom. Within three months, the man, having enjoyed the rights of marriage, abandoned the girl and disappeared to work in the North of England. He made it quite clear through his relatives who remained in India that he would not return as a husband.
682 Hon. Members have extrapolated from particular cases, but the great distress, horror and feeling of being a social outcast that the girl experienced will always be in my mind. Not every case of a fiancé is genuine and the same applies to temporary admissions.
Difficulties with temporary admissions have been quoted. My constituency has a significant immigrant population. Three, four or five times a year I contact my right hon. Friend's private office for help. It was no surprise to me to find that of the 6. million visitors a year only 13,000 are refused entry.
In response to an intervention from me the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) said that he was dealing with the Indian Sub-continent. Only 0.75 per cent. of visitors from India and Pakistan are refused entry. That is a small percentage.
I cannot understand the tremendous feeling manifested by the Opposition. The cases that I have dealt with have been handled quickly and sympathetically. Many of the cases were good and temporary admission was permitted.
I have in my constituency many Cypriots who came here completely destitute after the Turkish invasion in 1974. They have founded small businesses, bought homes and contribute massively to the north London economy. Previously they had to renew their permission to stay every six months or a year. They wanted guidance about whether the Home Office might one day say that the situation in Cyprus had improved and they must return. They had been here seven years and wished to make decisions on expanding their business or buying a house. Following representations from hon. Members on both sides of the House, particularly from my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi), my right hon. Friend was able to make the important concession for Cypriot refugees. It is greatly welcomed in the Cypriot community.
But even from that community a constituent recently explained that he had not renewed his temporary permit for a number of years and asked me to help. He had proof that he was a refugee. I told him that had he acted properly he would have the right of permanent entry and be able to stay for as long as he wanted. I told him that it was unreasonable to ask me to take his case up with the Home Office when he had consciously evaded immigration controls, for whatever reason. I have yet to hear whether that gentleman wants me to make representations to the Home Office. He is worried that the Home Office may say "You had your chance. You have deliberately flouted the rules and you must take the consequences." A number of hon. Members have said that the implementation of the rules are a matter of judgment.
§ Mr. Eggar
Is a matter of judgment. I always bow to the right hon. Gentleman, although I wonder whether I should, having seen the precise wording of the Opposition motion.
There are extremely difficult decisions to be taken and different factors to be weighed up. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State would not say that he was right in every case. On balance, I believe that he and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary exercise humane judgment and in the vast majority of cases come to the right decision. That is what matters.
§ Mr. Clinton Davis (Hackney, Central)
I found some of the speech of the hon. Member for Enfield, North (Mr. Eggar) extraordinary. My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Sever) was upbraided for rehearsing his constituency experiences, yet the hon. Member for Enfield, North did that himself. I found even more astonishing the suggestion made by him and other hon. Members on the Government Benches that somehow or other they have the right to sit in judgment to determine issues that more properly should go to the Minister. I do not accept that criterion for dealing with cases. No hon. Member has sufficient time to investigate all these matters in depth. Many of the cases, particularly where there are language difficulties, require an inordinate amount of preparation to ensure that every reasonable point is put to the Minister.
I want to mention one other general point. My experience and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Ladywood and many other hon. Members is that the application of the rules does not reach the state of near perfection that the hon. Member for Enfield, North suggested. It is replete with injustice and occasions where people are denied their rights unless they go to some agency, a Member of Parliament, or somebody who is familiar with the Immigration Rules. We touch only the tip of the iceberg. How many cases which might be successful if representations were made do not come to notice because people are not aware of their rights? There is no way of knowing.
Another matter that has not been discussed at any length relates to the criteria applied by the Minister in dealing with refugees from political persecution. There are many inconsistencies in the way in which the Minister performs his duties. Some extraordinary decisions are made. There is an inordinate delay in dealing with applications by people seeking asylum. The Minister does not pay sufficient attention to the serious disadvantages suffered by such people that are compounded by such delays. They cannot work. They do not qualify for social security benefits and they may be prejudiced educationally.
On a significant number of occasions the Government fail to appreciate the serious political situations in certain countries and they are too rigid in their adherence to the somewhat vague criteria that they have set for themselves.
Let me rehearse one or two cases that have come to my attention. A Polish girl of considerable distinction and educational attainment—she was trained as a judge—was unable to bear the regime in Poland. She came here, got a fairly menial job and wanted to stay. The disturbances arose in Poland, but the Minister of State was prepared to say that she should go home. Her family had a record of opposition to the regime. I am told that some had been punished, and the Minister of State was unable to dispute that.
Presumably the Home Office was advised by the Foreign Office, but it was as if they had never heard of Solidarity and the events in Poland. The Government are prepared to denounce tyranny in general terms, but evidently ordinary people seeking asylum are subjected to different criteria from famous ballerinas or sportsmen. That Polish girl married a British subject. It was a genuine marriage and the case ended there. What would have happened if she had not married a British subject? Would she have been sent back?
684 I know of a woman from Afghanistan who had a housekeeper's job in a home in this country. Despite the outbreak of civil war in Afghanistan, I was informed by the Minister of State that the Foreign Office was satisfied that the woman could be sent back. What sort of advice do the Ministers get? Who gives it to them?
Iranians who come to this country are often given invaluable help by the immigration authorities, but there are tremendous inconsistencies. An Iranian girl, who was trained here as an architect, had become used to our way of life, which could not be more different from that in present day Iran with its Muslim fundamentalist approach towards women, was told that she would have to go back to Iran. She has married a British subject and I believe it to be a genuine marriage. If she had not married that British subject, would she have been compelled to go back? What consistency can the Minister relate to the way in which he deals with such cases?
People from South Africa may not always be able to prove that they would be persecuted if they were sent back, but they may find the South African regime deeply offensive. Such cases do not fit exactly into the concept of political asylum, but is it right to send people back to a way of life that they abhor? That does happen.
I am involved in many immigration cases and I have nothing but enormous help from members of the Minister of State's private office. I pay tribute to them. They go out of their way at holiday times, at weekends and late at night to deal with emergency cases. That ought to be known. I only wish that it reflected the general way in which the Government operated their immigration policy.
§ 9.4 pm
§ Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Ardwick)
For anyone who truly cares about Britain's reputation as a civilised society, today has been a saddening occasion. As each of my hon. Friends, together with the hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) in a courageous speech, and other hon. Members, has added to the harrowing catalogue of human misery caused by the Immigration Rules and the way in which they are being operated, the House might well have asked:What, will the line stretch out to th' crack of doom?The sad fact is that all the Government have been doing, and what the Secretary of State has been doing, with the connivance of his hit man the Minister of State, is to make the crack of doom heard in thousands of homes here and in other countries where modest hopes and innocent dreams have been destroyed by the Government's determination to reduce, by however few, the number of coloured faces, brown and black, seen on our streets.
What lies behind the Government's action is not immigration as such, but coloured immigration. It is race. It was all summed up in that television interview with the Prime Minister to which my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall) referred. That interview has never been forgotten among the minority communities in this country. In that interview the right hon. Lady sand:People are really rather afraid that this country might be rather swamped by people with a different culture.Taking that statement as its cue, the Conservative Party went on to devise a policy to stop this swamping, with the Home Secretary as its principal architect. He set out the guidelines in his notorious Leicester speech. When he finally made his statement in the House on 14 November 1979—mark that date because it becomes highly relevant 685 to my argument—the numbers by which this fearful swamping were to be reduced had shrunk to 3,000–4,000 a year. That is a small figure in the context of total immigration. It became even smaller when the Home Secretary presented his revised proposals three months later, but still a figure large enough to cause much avoidable human misery.
What was announced as policy at the top has become practice further down the line. Repeatedly, there seems to be a presumption at the airports and seaports that anyone from the Indian Sub-continent in particular who presents him or herself for entry into this country must be up to no good. Immigration officers seem unable to grasp the fact that people seeking to enter as visitors actually intend to leave at the end of their period of admission. The presumption is that they intend to enter and then to vanish mysteriously, possibly up a rope, immediately becoming untraceable because of the impenetrability of their oriental features. Therefore, interviews have become more and more searching, undignified, and offensive, as described in a document submitted six months ago to the Race Relations Immigration Sub-Committee of the Home Affairs Committee by the United Kingdom Immigrant Advisory Service. It stated:UKIAS strongly feels that persons from the Indian subcontinent are being treated unfairly both by the ECOs abroad as well as by the Immigration Officers at the ports of entry. Overwhelming evidence is a matter of record to show that strenuous search for discrepancies has become almost an obsession. Documents both statutory and private which prima facie speak for themselves are ignored and generalised as easily procurable and forged. Discrepancies are deemed to outweigh the documentary evidence thus tipping the balance of probability against the applicants thus delaying decisions for months or years causing great hardships.The standard of objectivity in assessing the reality or otherwise is declining every day. Evidence is also available to show that persons from the Indian sub-continent are discriminated against simply on the basis of their origin. The administrative policy on immigration in the context of the Indian sub-continent reflects an approach that thousands of genuine persons may be allowed to suffer but one dishonest one may not be allowed to enter the United Kingdom.The document goes on:The problems faced by visitors from the Indian sub-continent are that British authorities abroad advise applicants that no entry clearance is required and leave to enter can be applied for at a port of entry in Britain. Technically, the advice may be correct but in practice it results in considerable financial loss as well as acute embarrassment to the persons concerned. To illustrate the point, a passenger on receiving advice arrives at a port of entry and applies for leave to enter. His country of origin is itself a handicap. His incentive to return is in doubt from the very start. He is detained and subjected to a lengthy examination and frequently by several immigration officers for several days. His sponsor, relatives and friends are examined in detail and even these relatives and friends have to satisfy the immigration officers of their own immigration status in the United Kingdom. His luggage is invariably searched to hunt for documents. His private correspondence is opened and read without his prior permission. Every effort is made to hunt for evidence and if nothing is found, then discrepancies are created by putting leading questions and repeating the same questions.Nor is this an isolated view of what takes place. Testifying earlier this year to the Sub-Committee Mr. Ian Martin, general secretary of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, declared thatthe attitude which entry clearance officers themselves bring to bear on applications is all too often one of looking for evidence to substantiate a refusal rather than to approach matters with an open mind on the balance of probabilities.686 Mr. Jamal Hasan, a member of the executive committee of the JCWI, said thatthe whole procedure is designed to find discrepancies.It should be remembered that these people are not sentimental dupes. They are people with vast experience of immigration practice, well aware of the least worthy cases as well as those which arouse public attention and indignation. Not just anecdotal evidence but cold hard statistics also tell the story and bear out the case made by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Sever). They tell us that a passenger from India is nearly 160 times more likely to be detained at Harmondsworth detention centre than one from the old Commonwealth.
"Only connect" was the famous watchword of E. M. Forster, author of "A Passage to India." "Only disconnect" is the watchword of the Home Office for passengers from India and Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sierre Leone and Nigeria, for the net seems to spread wider all the time. The aim is to prevent people from entering this country and to find ways of throwing them out if they actually manage to get in.
Chance has so arranged matters that several of the best known cases that most vividly illustrate the methods and attitude of the Home Office have occurred to victims in my constituency. The zeal of the Home Office in pursuing an innocent person who has inavertently infringed the immigration laws is nowhere more vividly illustrated than in the case of the Khan family about whom protests have been made all over the country. Mr. Khan, now in his early 20s, came here 10 years ago when he was 13 years old. Obviously, at that age, he did not come on his own initiative. Nor could he possibly have been sophisticated enough to be aware of the law he was infringing or the right eventually given him to regularise his position.
He was brought in illegally—that is certain—under another boy's name. But as an illegal immigrant, he was eligible for the amnesty offered by the Labour Government. Unfortunately, he was not aware either of the amnesty or of his eligibility to apply for it. Moreover, some time after he arrived, he left this country for a short time and upon being readmitted had his passport stamped for indefinite stay. He had no reason to believe that he was not in the clear with the authorities. He grew up and married a girl who came to this country from Pakistan. They have two small children both born in this country and both as British as anyone in this House.
Suddenly Mr. Khan's world fell in. The Home Office said that he was here illegally and must leave the country. He was served with a deportation notice. Incredibly, so was Mrs. Khan. She had entered Britain legally to marry him. She was unaware that he was here illegally, particularly as he was equally unaware that he was here illegally, and consequently was unable to tell her. The Minister of State told me last December that Mrs. Khan'sleave to enter as a fiancée was obtained by positive misrepresentation that her husband was settled in the United Kingdom.The Minister said that she was guilty of "positive misrepresentation", but a month later the Home Secretary admitted to me:We accept she did not appreciate that her husband's stay here was unlawful.Nevertheless, the twisted logic of the Home Office convicts Mrs. Khan of deliberately withholding a relevant fact from the authorities, even though it does not deny that she did not know the fact that it says that she was 687 deliberately withholding. Therefore, she has to go too. Their children have the right to stay, but the humane Home Office does not want to split the family and has generously offered to pay the fares "home" of these children, even though their home is in this country, in Manchester, where they were born.
The stress of this ghastly situation proved too much for Mr. Khan. He left his wife and she now has no means of support. The Home Office say that Mr. and Mrs. Khan must leave together. Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Social Security is denying her the right to its assistance. The Home Office is saying that Mrs. Khan is a liar for not telling it something she did not know, and the DHSS is conniving by trying to starve her out of the country. That is what happens to someone who is defeated by the oppressive administration of the rules. [Interruption.] I hope that the Minister will agree that I am speaking directly to the motion, as not to do so seems to trouble him.
Whenever the Home Secretary wishes, he could solve this terrible problem by using his discretion to permit the Khans to remain. What happens to someone who wins against a Home Office vendetta? The experience of another of my constituents is a vivid example. The case of Mrs. Nasira Begum, another of my constituents, is perhaps by now one of the most famous of all cases. Mrs. Begum came here as a visitor and entered into a legal arranged marriage with Mr. Mohammed Afzal in Huddersfield. Mr. Afzal then applied for her to remain in this country as his wife.
The marriage broke down but was not ended by divorce. After three years, and, significantly, after this Government had taken office, the Home Office refused to permit her to remain, saying that she had entered into a marriage of convenience. It decided to remove her. With the aid of my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett) she appealed against that decision.
Meanwhile, the Home Office was changing its story. It now claimed the Mr. Afzal already had a wife and consequently his marriage to Nasira was bigamous and not valid. Accordingly, she must be booted out. How a bigamous marriage could be one of convenience for Nasira was never made clear. Nor was it ever explained to me by the Attorney-General or anyone else, although I have frequently asked, why Mr. Afzal had never been prosecuted for bigamy, which, after all, is quite a serious crime and of which, in Mr. Afzal's case, if there is a case, the authorities have been aware for several years.
Along the way, the Home Office changed the lady to whom Mr. Afzal had allegedly first been married. It began by saying that it was a lady named Firdous whom, it said, he had married in England. It then vicariously jilted poor Firdous, and claimed that he had been married to quite a different lady in Pakistan, Amina Begum.
This time the Home Office was right. He had, indeed, been married to her. He had also been legally divorced from her, in Pakistan. So the Home Office now immersed itself in the technicalities of the validity of a Pakistani Talaq divorce in Britain and insisted that an important point of law was at stake. The adjudicator did not accept its case. He found in favour of Nasira. So the Home Office appealed against the adjudicator's decision. However, the immigration appeal tribunal also found in favour of Nasira All was now dancing and rejoicing. The Home Office endorsed Nasira's passport with an indefinite right to 688 remain. Nasira foolishly decided to regularise her position, and applied to register as a British citizen. The Home Secretary personally then told me that she could not do so, because her right to register depended on her marriage to Mr. Afzal, and the right hon. Gentleman did not accept that Nasira was validly married to Mr. Afzal, even though the adjudicator did, even though the immigration appeal tribunal did, and even though Mr. Afzal himself did, as he has been trying to divorce her.
The Secretary of State said to me in a letter:I am afraid that our consideration of the case has led us to conclude that we do not accept the Tribunal's determination (which does not provide an authoritative precedent for the Courts)"—I bet it would have if the Home Office had won—as conclusive on the question of the validity in English law of her marriage to Mohammed Afzal. As her entitlement to registration as a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies depends on the validity of the marriage, and as it remains our view that the marriage would not be regarded as valid in our law, we are not prepared to accept her application.The pursuit of Orestes by the Furies was a game of lag compared with the way that the Home Office has hounded Nasira. It is staggering to contemplate the ingenuity, doggedness and the amount of taxpayers' money that have been expended for the purpose of harrying one harmless woman, whose continued presence in Manchester, I assure the Prime Minister, has not resulted in the swamping of our culture. Even although Nasira is still among us in Manchester, the Hallé orchestra continues to play Elgar. This week, the Royal Exchange theatre in Manchester is opening a musical about Andy Capp, a character whose sexism must surely have a strong appeal to the Home Secretary. Perhaps he will organise charabanc trips to go and see it. Understandably, women's organisations have been particularly indignant about the treatment of the Khans and Nasira Begum.
A case that is less well known than theirs is even more symbolic of the aspect of the Immigration Rules that especially angers those who accuse the Home Office not only of racial discrimination but of sexual discrimination. Of all the provisions in the revised Immigration Rules that came into force on 1 March 1980, as the hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood so forcefully illustrated, the worst is the banning of the entry of husbands and male fiancés unless the girl they have married or wish to marry was born in this country or had a parent born in this country.
The sexually discriminatory aspect is, of course, that men have an absolute right to bring in their wives or fiancés. So a brother can have the wife of his choice, while his sister cannot have the husband of her choice. That is bad enough, although I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not decide to strike an unjust balance in the way that was forecast by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South, by reducing the present rights of men.
There is a particularly nasty twist to this tale. As in other new restrictions imposed by the Immigration Rules, there is a retrospective element. On 14 November 1979 the Home Secretary announced that the Immigration Rules were to be changed. He did not say when that change would come because at that time he did not know. What he did say was that from that day onward he would treat all new applications as having been submitted under the new rules, even though he did not know what those rules would be, even though he did not know when those rules would be laid, and even though those rules would not be law until he laid them. Therefore, he was saying that 689 applications that were lawful when made would be judged not by the law as it existed but by the law as it would be when he decided what it would be and when it would be.
In his speech this afternoon the Secretary of State spoke magniloquently about the acceptability for entry into Britain of those who "make genuine applications within the rules". I made a point of intervening to obtain confirmation of those words. The Home Secretary duly provided that confirmation. Yet he is denying fair treatment to those very people who, as he put it in the House today, "make genuine applications within the rules". He is denying that fair treatment by retrospective legislation.
On 14 November 1979 I warned the Home Secretary about the unjust nature of the retrospective action that he was planning to take. To be fair, I do not think that he was actually planning to take it, because I am charitable enough to believe that he did not have the faintest idea of the implications of the brief that he had been given to read out. However, the result is monstrous injustice.
Over the weekend I have discussed the matter with a family in my constituency who are victims of such an injustice. Sajdia Begum Ali, a girl in my constituency, wishes to marry Mohammad Saleem, who lives in Pakistan. Her father, Inayit Ali, signed the necessary statutory declaration on 29 October 1979, 16 days before the Home Secretary made his statement on the new Immigration Rules in the House. Because of family illness, Mr. Saleem was unable to make his formal application to the embassy in Islamabad until 26 November 1979. He had no idea that he was making it a wicked 12 days after the Home Secretary's statement.
Mr. Saleem was eventually interviewed in January this year, having been allowed to wait in hope for two years and two months and his application was rejected. The entry clearance officer in Islamabad specifically said last month in an explanatory statement to the immigration appeals office:Since this application was one of the first to be considered under the revised rules I was conscious of the fact that the date of application was of prime importance.So it was. Because Mr. Saleem made his formal application 12 days too late his life, and that of Sajdia Begum Ali, are being wrecked.
Miss Ali is also being punished for being one year and eight months too old. She was brought to Britain at the age of one year and seven months. If only she had been born here, Mr. Saleem would have been allowed to come here to marry her. It is over such trifles and accidents that the Home Office is exercising its repressive tyranny and casting a blight over young and hopeful lives.
Let it be clear that on this and on an increasing number of other cases, this tyranny is not being accepted. Last month, several women who are victims of the immigration Rules debarring husbands and fiancés went to Strasbourg to put their cases to the European Commission of Human Rights. In an act of extraordinary cynicism the Home Office, right there in Strasbourg, suddenly told one of the women that after a long struggle she had won her case. Of those present, she was the woman with the strongest case.
Clearly the Home Office hoped that that concession would undermine the cases of the others. It was a forlorn hope. The European Commission found that the British Government had a case to answer and is now seeking a 690 voluntary change in the rule about husbands and male fiancés. If that fails, the matter will eventually go to the full European Court of Human Rights, which would have the power to force the Government to change the rule. If my constituent, Mr. Ali, fails in his appeal, he, too, will go to the European Court of Human Rights; so will others.
The Home Office is now on the defensive and we will take every possible action to force it to abandon its heartless administration of discriminatory rules. If it will not do so, the next Labour Government are pledged to make those changes. On humanising immigration regulations and procedures depends the future not only of individual lives, but of harmonious race relations in Britain.
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Timothy Raison)
I did not think that I would begin by saying, except on personal grounds, that I was sorry that the hon. Member for Lambeth, Central (Mr. Tilley) had been removed from his post as Opposition spokesman. However, having heard the speech made by the right hon. Member for Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. Kaufman), I say that without hesitation. The hon. Member for Lambeth, Central made a passionate speech. He believed in what he was saying and his case was reasonably argued. However, the right hon. Member for Ardwick produced as over-egged a pudding as the House has ever heard. His speech was absurd. He did not give me notice of the cases that he raised, so I shall not comment in detail on them.
In the case of Nasira Begum there was, and remains, an important issue of law about the nature of marriage. It has not been resolved. The tribunal expressed a view, but we cannot necessarily accept it when determining the law. Of course we accepted that she could remain in Britain. The right hon. Gentleman also referred to the case of Shaukat Ali Khan. The case was based on illegal entry. My right hon. Friend and I considered the case for some time with the greatest care. However, Mr. Khan has disappeared. That is no basis on which to determine the case and the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends should do all that they can to persuade Mr. Shaukat Ali Khan to abide by the laws of this country.
The hon. Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. Davis) seemed to argue that we make up our own rules about refugee status as we go along. However, paragraph 16 of the Immigration Rules states:Where a person is a refugee full account is to be taken of the provisions of the Convention and Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees.Refugee applications are difficult, but we meticulously observe our obligations and give the greatest care and attention to such cases. The hon. Gentleman seemed to suggest that we were sending people back to Poland, but that is certainly not so.
§ Mr. Clinton Davis
Nevertheless, that was the conclusion in that case. If the girl had not married, she would have been returned to Poland. That was the Minister's rationale. The marriage was an extraneous matter and had nothing to do with the principle that I was discussing.
§ Mr. Raison
I shall not give way as there is much ground to cover.
As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and I have implied, the speech made by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) threw us into doubt as to what his motion involved. Was it about the rules or about the operation and implementation of the rules, as the wording implies? My right hon. Friend has replied to some of the right hon. Gentleman's points. The bulk of my remarks will relate to the operation of the rules and the points that have been raised.
The hon. Member for Lambeth, Central, my hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) and other hon. Members discussed the rules governing husbands and fiancés. I am sorry that I must disappoint the House, but I do not believe that this is the occasion for me to outline the changes that we might or might not make when the British Nationality Act comes into effect. There will be changes in the Immigration Rules. We shall need new Immigration Rules for technical reasons, if for no other reason. We shall put to the House whether we should go beyond the technical requirements, but I am not in a position to do that this evening.
The working of the immigration system as a whole is not just a matter of the law and the rules, basic and fundamental though they are. It has to do with thousands of cases every year. An enormous volume of casework is done by immigration officers at home, entry clearance officers overseas and the staff of our Home Office immigration and nationality department, not to mention their counterparts at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. All the work is done with admirable conscientiousness. Only a proportion of the cases reach Ministers—my right hon. Friend the relevant Foreign Office Minister or myself—but that proportion is still substantial.
I am told that last year my right hon. Friend and I dealt with about 10,500 letters from hon. Members about immigration and nationality cases. Some of the letters were about small matters. Many were to do with holiday visits—one of the themes which cropped up in the debate. A substantial number were of great importance to the lives of the people concerned. I fully understand that.
We have created a remarkable system. The decisions involved are considered and reconsidered in a way which is not matched in any comparable sphere where a judicial or quasi-judicial system operates. By and large, when an appeal tribunal operates, and certainly when the courts are involved, that is the end of the line. With immigration cases, the decisions of the adjudicators and the tribunal may be a prelude to a prolonged series of appeals by hon. Members to Ministers.
It is right that the strict operation of the rules should be tempered by discretion on compassionate grounds, although the adjudicators are able also to take these into account or to make recommendations for the exercise of discretion even when they rule against an applicant. However, discretion has to be applied with care. If it is used without regard to the rules, it will undermine the rules and substantially affect the immigration control approved by Parliament.
Again, we are dealing not with a handful of exceptional cases put to Ministers, but with thousands of cases. We cannot look at cases solely in terms of what will benefit the individual. If one accepts that there should be immigration control, one has to accept that the individual's 692 desires cannot be overriding. Yet none of that means that the system has to be inhumane or grossly insensitive. Nor is it.
It is arrant nonsense to say, as the Opposition motion does, that the system is being enforced in an "increasingly repressive" way. No-one listening to today's argument and who has sat through the debate could support the motion that the system is being enforced in that way. The Opposition have not made out their case.
The motion says that we should show "respect for family life". That is right, but let us examine the facts. It is sometimes forgotten what the commitment to admit the wives and children of immigrants—a commitment honoured by both parties—has meant in practice. Over the past 10 years the United Kingdom has accepted more than 350,000 wives and children for settlement. Three-quarters of all the wives and children accepted were from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan. They were, to use the language of the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook, "blacks" against whom it is said we discriminate the whole time. There is also the commitment to our passport holders in East Africa. Under the special voucher scheme we have accepted a total of over 140,000 people from there. Those figures illustrate Britain's recognition of our special obligation. The Government have in no way departed from those commitments.
That is the background. But of course, we are today talking about individual cases. No one would be less keen than Ito give the impression that it is always easy to reach a correct decision on some of the cases that flow from the migration. Hon. Members on both sides of the House have acknowledged that. I accept that real difficulties can arise in the case of visitors, who may be elderly, who wish to visit relatives here. It would seem heartless to refuse someone entry for a family visit, but accepting someone for a visit is a different matter from accepting that person for settlement if he is well established in his home country and has other relatives to turn to there. The difficulty is whether one believes that the person is genuinely coming just for a visit. Beyond all doubt, an appreciable number of people have used the visitor route as a pathway to permanent residence here. Often they seek residence with their families here. We cannot ignore that fact, nor can the immigration service.
Another category of cases with which we must deal in the Home Office are overstayers. Hon. Members often write to me about those cases as well as about visitor cases, but all too often the burden of their case is, "We accept that this person came here as a visitor and overstayed, but would you now apply compassionate discretion?" That is clear evidence that there is a problem about the admission of visitors where there is an intention to stay. As the House knows well, where a visitor is refused entry, he has full recourse to an appeal to Ministers. The picture that the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook painted of two days in detention followed by enforced departure is far from the pattern with which so many hon. Members are familiar. It cannot be denied that under the law visitors can be sent back immediately, but the liberal operation of the system of Members' representations on behalf of visitors, which is well established and not something of which only a few cognoscenti know, has the effect that many visitors, although technically refused, have the chance to spend a week or two with their families in this country. We try to examine the cases with great care and attention.
693 The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook might have examined the statistics that were referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, North (Mr. Eggar). Only 0.6 per cent. of arrivals from India, 1.02 per cent. of arrivals from Pakistan and 0.7 per cent. of arrivals from Bangladesh are refused. Those figures are small compared with the lurid picture that has been painted this evening about what happens to visitors.
§ Mr. Raison
I shall deal with temporary admission and what I have been doing in that area shortly. The hon. Gentleman well knows that there is a world of difference between the person who comes in as a visitor and evades immigration control or who gets through without difficulty, and someone who is questioned by immigration service and is put on temporary admission. The latter has the spotlight put on him, sponsors must look after him and he must have an address to which to report. Obviously, the likelihood of a person on temporary admission going to ground is exceptionally small.
§ Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)
Does my right hon. Friend accept that many of my constituents are grateful to him for the trouble to which he goes to enable their friends and relatives to spend a week or a month here and that not one of them has yet let him down?
§ Mr. Raison
I am grateful to my hon. Friend and also to hon. Members who, during the debate, have said kind words about the way in which my right hon. Friend and I try to operate the system.
Not even the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook went down the line taken by the hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Pitt), who asked that all visitors should be admitted for six months. That would mean a massive switch from our emphasis on control at the ports to much tighter internal follow-up control over visitors after the six months. Although at times there are difficulties at the ports, it is still a better principle to have tight control there and to avoid the need for an excessive proliferation of internal follow-up.
Applications by dependents are another example of the type of case raised by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook that present difficulties. The House will bear with me if I expand on the difficulties briefly. The entry clearance officer must establish whether applicants are related to the people in this country to whom they say they are related. In many cases the relatives live in the Indian Sub-continent in a rural community. They may be unable to read or write. Often there will be no documents establishing the relationship, or—what causes far more problems—the relatives may have been advised by agents to obtain bogus documents. Documents may have been obtained through misrepresentation, which then conflict with other documents submitted in support of the application. Many cases in Bangladesh are further complicated because the sponsor in Britain has claimed tax relief to which he was not entitled for non-existent wives and children. The entry clearance officer must weigh up the case, often against a background of some deception, and try to establish where the truth lies.
694 I accept that those are difficult decisions, but I wish to emphasise the role of the appeals system. If a person considers that the wrong decision has been made, he has the right to appeal to an independent body. That is very important and, as we know, the entry clearance officer's decision is not the last word. The adjudicators and the immigration appeal tribunal will take evidence carefully.
§ Mr. Bidwell
There are some cases before the European Commission of Human Rights. I appreciate that the changes to the British Nationality Act may be affected by those cases because other European countries are giving equality to spouses. Are the adjudicators, through the appeals machinery, holding fire on determining the cases because of the prospect that the Commission will rule against Britain?
§ Mr. Raison
The adjudicators are not holding fire in that way, but some cases may be delayed in the pipeline.
My right hon. Friend gave examples in his speech of the care that we have shown over such difficult matters as the Filipinos and the picking up of illegal entrants and overstayers. I shall draw attention to one or two other examples of steps that we have taken that show our concern to operate matters correctly and that cannot be described as part of a repressive policy.
In 1978, the previous Government decided to tighten the policy on residents returning to Britain after two years by insisting on the requirement that they should have been ordinarily resident here when they left. The change of policy raised extremely difficult questions of interpretation and caused considerable anxiety and resentment among returning residents, who knew nothing of the change in policy until their arrival at the ports. When the problems became plain to us, we carried out a thorough review of the policy and I announced last December that we had decided to drop the requirement, which was of little practical benefit to the immigration control. The change that we have made has saved much unnecessary work in the immigration department; but, more important than that, it has removed a considerable and needless source of aggravation for people returning to this country after a stay abroad.
The second example concerns Cyprus, about which my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, North spoke. For some time, I have been concerned about the position of those Cypriots who came to this country as a result of the events in Cyprus in 1974 and who have been allowed to remain from year to year under our concessionary policy, but on the understanding that they must eventually return to their home country. The difficulties faced by these people were represented to me by members of the Cypriot community here and hon. Members, and I decided to carry out a full review of the policy. The conclusion we reached was that after eight years of annual extensions, one could not expect that people, some with children, who had spent the whole of their school life here, should continue in a state of perpetual uncertainty, which my hon. Friend described. I therefore announced in May that we had decided to grant permanent residence here to all those Cypriots who had been displaced and remained here under the concessions. I thought that the right hon. Member for Ardwick would refer to that.
§ Mr. John Carlisle
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the period of more than five years that those Cypriots have spent here should count towards their application for nationality, should they wish to take it?
§ Mr. Raison
I would be prepared to consider that point. I shall write to my hon. Friend about it.
A further example of our approach to the problems arising from the need to enforce immigration control is our increased use of temporary admission as an alternative to detention. In 1979 more than 12,700 people were detained at the immigration service detention centres at Harmondsworth and Queen's Building at Heathrow. During 1980 the total number of people detained at those places had fallen to just over 10,000 and there was a further reduction to 8,485 in 1981. In 1980, about 33 per cent. of the 18,000 people who were refused leave to enter this country were granted temporary admission. The proportion of those granted temporary admission increased to just over 40 per cent. in 1981.
I stress to hon. Members who care about immigration policy and practice and about the problems of visitors that what we have done in making temporary admission more easily available has been enormously appreciated and has helped to take away some of the difficulties from those problems.
Those are just three examples of recent policy changes that we have made. I defy anyone to argue that they are part of an increasingly repressive approach.
§ Mr. Ennals
I wonder how the Minister will apply that argument to Iranians who are now being threatened with being sent back to Khomeini's Iran. I am thinking particularly of one constituent. Two of his brothers have already been killed and he is now being told by the Minister that he has to go back and face what might be death for him.
§ Mr. Raison
The right hon. Gentleman knows that we have paid enormously close attention to Iranian problems and cases, which are difficult. We have spent a great deal of time in the Department looking at them. We have not been able to accept that any Iranian should automatically be immune from return. However, the facts show that we are dealing with those cases with the greatest sympathy.
I turn now to the efficiency of the system. The hon. and learned Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Lyons) said that justice delayed is justice denied. Under the previous Government, there were very long delays in dealing with entry clearance applications. My right hon. Friend has mentioned the reduction in the size of the queues in the Indian Sub-continent. That reduction has been matched by a fall in waiting times. At Dacca, people applying at the end of March this year expected to wait 14 months for their first interview.
That represents a dramatic improvement. In Pakistan, people expect to wait 11 months. This compares with waiting times from 1979 to 1981 of about 20 to 22 months. There is, therefore, improvement in efficiency in the subcontinent which does nothing but ease the problem. It also reflects the fact that pressure on migration from the subcontinent is falling away. That is in line with our policies.
There has also been a considerable improvement in the period that people must wait for appeals to be heard. The time taken by entry clearance officers to prepare explanatory statements for appeals against their decisions is now only about three months at all posts abroad, except 696 at Bombay. In other types of case, statements are now being prepared within 5½ to six months or in straightforward cases within three or four months. Again, that represents a considerable improvement. Once a statement is ready, the appeals are now being heard much more quickly.
In April last year the Home Office completed an internal review of the appeals system and published a discussion document, which has been referred to, which examined ways in which the present structure could be made to operate more efficiently while preserving a fair and reasonable system. It considered, for example, a right of appeal in Britain for illegal entrants. There has been a considerable reduction in the delays that existed when the document was first prepared, but it remains important that the system should be as efficient and fair as possible. We have received several comments on the appeals statement. Some have been less constructive than we hoped. It demonstrates our willingness to examine the way in which the system is operated and to attempt to find one that combines efficiency and effectiveness with humanity.
Looking back over the past three years at the thousands of cases for which I have been responsible, of course I could not claim to have been always right. I am prepared to acknowledge that I and the appeal system were wrong about Anwar Ditta, for example, although I was careful to make sure that if there were new evidence it would be properly considered.
There have been other equally publicised cases when our suspicions have proved entirely justified. One example is the famous case of Mrs. Patel. That case enjoyed massive television and press coverage. Events proved that our view was correct. When that happens, the news disappears from the headlines and the television screen. Equally, there is no news in the many cases in which we exercise our compassionate discretion, sometimes, I accept, after originally taking the opposite view.
There is no merit in obstinacy, only in justice. We have always been willing to examine cases again and again to ensure that we have come to the right conclusion. That sometimes gives rise to charges that we are not being firm enough. Nevertheless, the essence of the process must be to ensure that there is justice. The rules must be observed in a way that is in keeping with the compassionate traditions of Britain.
Whatever anyone may say about me or my colleagues, I have no doubt that my officials are not only painstaking to a degree but imbued with a real sense of justice and understanding. The way in which we and successive Governments deal with immigration cases is quite different from anything else of its kind. It is exhaustive. The system of appeals is not perfect—it could be more efficient and perhaps create new rights. But to get agreement on that basis for new legislation is not easy.
In the meantime, we must do all that we can to maintain control, but in a way that ensures that the individual is not crushed beneath it. The system cannot simply be geared to the good of the individuals who want to enter or live in Britain.
Under my right hon. Friend we have operated the system in a way that is clearly seen by the vast majority of those involved to be fair and we take enormous pains. I call on the House to reject the Opposition's motion and to support our amendment.
§ Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:—697
§ The House divided: Ayes 220, Noes 279.700
|Division No. 245]||[10 pm|
|Abse, Leo||Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)|
|Adams, Allen||Ginsburg, David|
|Alton, David||Graham, Ted|
|Anderson, Donald||Grant, John (Islington C)|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Grimond, Rt Hon J.|
|Ashley, Rt Hon Jack||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Ashton, Joe||Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife)|
|Atkinson, N.(H'gey,)||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter|
|Bagier, Gordon A.T.||Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (H'wd)||Haynes, Frank|
|Beith, A. J.||Healey, Rt Hon Denis|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll)|
|Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Homewood, William|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon A.(M'b'ro)||Hooley, Frank|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Horam, John|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, C.||Howell, Rt Hon D.|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Howells, Geraint|
|Brown, R. C. (N'castle W)||Hoyle, Douglas|
|Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'y S)||Huckfield, Les|
|Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)||Hughes, Mark (Durham)|
|Buchan, Norman||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Callaghan, Rt Hon J.||Jay, Rt Hon Douglas|
|Campbell, Ian||Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd)|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||John, Brynmor|
|Cant, R. B.||Johnson, Walter (Derby S)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Jones, Barry (East Flint)|
|Cartwright, John||Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||Kilroy-Silk, Robert|
|Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S)||Lamond, James|
|Cohen, Stanley||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Coleman, Donald||Lestor, Miss Joan|
|Cook, Robin F.||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Cowans, Harry||Litherland, Robert|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Lofthouse, Geoffrey|
|Crowther, Stan||Lyon, Alexander (York)|
|Cryer, Bob||Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W)|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington S)||McCartney, Hugh|
|Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n)||McDonald, Dr Oonagh|
|Davidson, Arthur||McElhone, Frank|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)||McKelvey, William|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)||McMahon, Andrew|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, Stechf'd)||McNally, Thomas|
|Deakins, Eric||McNamara, Kevin|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||McTaggart, Robert|
|Dewar, Donald||McWilliam, John|
|Dixon, Donald||Magee, Bryan|
|Dormand, Jack||Marks, Kenneth|
|Douglas, Dick||Marshall, D(G'gow S'ton)|
|Dubs, Alfred||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Eadie, Alex||Maxton, John|
|Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're)||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||Mellish, Rt Hon Robert|
|English, Michael||Mikardo, Ian|
|Ennals, Rt Hon David||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Evans, loan (Aberdare)||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)|
|Evans, John (Newton)||Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)|
|Field, Frank||Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen)|
|Flannery, Martin||Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw)|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Ford, Ben||Morton, George|
|Forrester, John||Newens, Stanley|
|Foster, Derek||Ogden, Eric|
|Foulkes, George||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd)||O'Neill, Martin|
|Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Freud, Clement||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David|
|Garrett, John (Norwich S)||Palmer, Arthur|
|Park, George||Stott, Roger|
|Parker, John||Strang, Gavin|
|Parry, Robert||Straw, Jack|
|Pendry, Tom||Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley|
|Pitt, William Henry||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Prescott, John||Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)|
|Price, C. (Lewisham W)||Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)|
|Race, Reg||Thorne, Stan (Preston South)|
|Radice, Giles||Tilley, John|
|Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)||Torney, Tom|
|Richardson, Jo||Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Wainwright, E.(Dearne V)|
|Roberts, Allan (Bootle)||Wainwright, H.(Colne V)|
|Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)||Walker, Rt Hon H.(D'caster)|
|Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)||Watkins, David|
|Robertson, George||Weetch, Ken|
|Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Rodgers, Rt Hon William||Welsh, Michael|
|Roper, John||White, Frank R.|
|Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)||White, J. (G'gow Pollok)|
|Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Rowlands, Ted||Whitlock, William|
|Sandelson, Neville||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Sever, John||Williams, Rt Hon A.(S'sea W)|
|Sheerman, Barry||Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)|
|Shore, Rt Hon Peter||Wilson, Rt Hon Sir H.(H'ton)|
|Short, Mrs Renée||Wilson, William (C'try SE)|
|Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)||Winnick, David|
|Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)||Woodall, Alec|
|Silverman, Julius||Woolmer, Kenneth|
|Skinner, Dennis||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark)||Wright, Sheila|
|Snape, Peter||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Spearing, Nigel||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Stallard, A. W.||Mr. Ron Leighton and|
|Stoddart, David||Mr. Allen McKay.|
|Adley, Robert||Bulmer, Esmond|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Burden, Sir Frederick|
|Alexander, Richard||Cadbury, Jocelyn|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Carlisle, John (Luton West)|
|Ancram, Michael||Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)|
|Arnold, Tom||Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n)|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Chalker, Mrs. Lynda|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H.(S'thorne)||Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul|
|Atkins, Robert (Preston N)||Chapman, Sydney|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. M'bone)||Churchill, W. S.|
|Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)||Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n)|
|Banks, Robert||Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)|
|Bendall, Vivian||Cockeram, Eric|
|Benyon, Thomas (A'don)||Cope, John|
|Benyon, W. (Buckingham)||Cormack, Patrick|
|Best, Keith||Corrie, John|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Costain, Sir Albert|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Critchley, Julian|
|Blackburn, John||Crouch, David|
|Blaker, Peter||Dorrell, Stephen|
|Body, Richard||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Dover, Denshore|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||du Cann, Rt Hon Edward|
|Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W)||Dunn, Robert (Dartford)|
|Bowden, Andrew||Durant, Tony|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes||Dykes, Hugh|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Eden, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Bright, Graham||Eggar, Tim|
|Brinton, Tim||Elliott, Sir William|
|Brittan, Rt. Hon. Leon||Emery, Sir Peter|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Eyre, Reginald|
|Brotherton, Michael||Fairgrieve, Sir Russell|
|Brown, Michael(Brigg & Sc'n)||Faith, Mrs Sheila|
|Browne, John (Winchester)||Farr, John|
|Bruce-Gardyne, John||Fell, Sir Anthony|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Fenner, Mrs Peggy|
|Buck, Antony||Finsberg, Geoffrey|
|Budgen, Nick||Fisher, Sir Nigel|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles||Mates, Michael|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus|
|Forman, Nigel||Mawby, Ray|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Norman||Mawhinney, Dr Brian|
|Fox, Marcus||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh||Mayhew, Patrick|
|Fraser, Peter (South Angus)||Mellor, David|
|Gardiner, George (Reigate)||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)||Miller, Hal (B'grove)|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Mills, Iain (Meriden)|
|Glyn, Dr Alan||Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)|
|Goodhew, Sir Victor||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Goodlad, Alastair||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Gow, Ian||Moate, Roger|
|Gower, Sir Raymond||Monro, Sir Hector|
|Greenway, Harry||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Griffiths, E.(By St. Edm'ds)||Morgan, Geraint|
|Griffiths, Peter Portsm'th N)||Morris, M. (N'hampton S)|
|Grist, Ian||Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)|
|Grylls, Michael||Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)|
|Gummer, John Selwyn||Mudd, David|
|Hamilton, Hon A.||Murphy, Christopher|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Myles, David|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Neale, Gerrard|
|Hannam, John||Needham, Richard|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Nelson, Anthony|
|Hastings, Stephen||Neubert. Michael|
|Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael||Newton, Tony|
|Hawkins, Sir Paul||Normanton, Tom|
|Hawksley, Warren||Nott, Rt Hon John|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Onslow, Cranley|
|Heath, Rt Hon Edward||Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.|
|Heddle, John||Page, Richard (SW Herts)|
|Henderson, Barry||Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil|
|Hicks, Robert||Parris, Matthew|
|Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.||Patten, John (Oxford)|
|Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)||Pattie, Geoffrey|
|Holland, Philip (Carlton)||Pawsey, James|
|Hooson, Tom||Percival, Sir Ian|
|Hordern, Peter||Peyton, Rt Hon John|
|Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd)||Pollock, Alexander|
|Hunt, David (Wirral)||Porter, Barry|
|Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)||Prentice, Rt Hon Reg|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman||Price, Sir David (Eastleigh)|
|Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)||Proctor, K. Harvey|
|Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick||Raison, Rt Hon Timothy|
|Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey||Rathbone, Tim|
|Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith||Renton, Tim|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Kershaw, Sir Anthony||Ridley, Hon Nicholas|
|King, Rt Hon Tom||Ridsdale, Sir Julian|
|Knox, David||Rifkind, Malcolm|
|Lamont, Norman||Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)|
|Lang, Ian||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Latham, Michael||Rossi, Hugh|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Rost, Peter|
|Lee, John||Royle, Sir Anthony|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Rumbold, Mrs A. C. R.|
|Lester, Jim (Beeston)||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')|
|Lloyd, Ian (Hayant & Wloo)||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Loveridge, John||Shepherd, Richard|
|Luce, Richard||Shersby, Michael|
|Lyell, Nicholas||Silvester, Fred|
|McCrindle, Robert||Sims, Roger|
|Macfarlane, Neil||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|MacGregor, John||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|MacKay, John (Argyll)||Speller, Tony|
|Macmillan, Rt Hon M.||Spence, John|
|McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)||Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)|
|McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Madel, David||Sproat, Iain|
|Major, John||Squire, Robin|
|Marland, Paul||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Marlow, Antony||Stanley, John|
|Marten, Rt Hon Neil||Steen, Anthony|
|Stevens, Martin||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Stewart, A.(E Renfrewshire)||Walker, B. (Perth)|
|Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)||Walters, Dennis|
|Stokes, John||Ward, John|
|Stradling Thomas, J.||Warren, Kenneth|
|Tapsell, Peter||Watson, John|
|Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)||Wells, Bowen|
|Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Temple-Morris, Peter||Wheeler, John|
|Thomas, Rt Hon Peter||Whitelaw, Rt Hon William|
|Thompson, Donald||Whitney, Raymond|
|Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)||Wickenden, Keith|
|Thornton, Malcolm||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Townend, John (Bridlington)||Wilkinson, John|
|Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)||Williams, D.(Montgomery)|
|Trippier, David||Wolfson, Mark|
|Trotter, Neville||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Vaughan, Dr Gerard||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Viggers, Peter||Mr. Anthony Beny and|
|Waddington, David||Mr. Carol Mather|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 32 (Questions on amendments):—
§ The House divided: Ayes 271, Noes 218.704
|Division No. 246]||[10.13 pm|
|Adley, Robert||Chapman, Sydney|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Churchill, W. S.|
|Alexander, Richard||Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n)|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)|
|Ancram, Michael||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)|
|Arnold, Tom||Cockeram, Eric|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Cope, John|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H.(S'thorne)||Cormack, Patrick|
|Atkins, Robert (Prest'on N)||Corrie, John|
|Baker, KennethfSt.M'bone,)||Costain, Sir Albert|
|Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Banks, Robert||Crouch, David|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Dorrell, Stephen|
|Bendall, Vivian||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.|
|Benyon, Thomas (A'don)||Dover, Denshore|
|Benyon, W. (Buckingham)||du Cann, Rt Hon Edward|
|Best, Keith||Dunn, Robert (Dartford)|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Durant, Tony|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Dykes, Hugh|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Eden, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Blackburn, John||Eggar, Tim|
|Blaker, Peter||Elliott, Sir William|
|Body, Richard||Emery, Sir Peter|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Eyre, Reginald|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Fairgrieve, Sir Russell|
|Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W)||Faith, Mrs Sheila|
|Bowden, Andrew||Farr, John|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes||Fell, Sir Anthony|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Fenner, Mrs Peggy|
|Bright, Graham||Finsberg, Geoffrey|
|Brinton, Tim||Fisher, Sir Nigel|
|Brittan, Rt. Hon. Leon||Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Brotherton, Michael||Forman, Nigel|
|Brown, Michael(Brigg & Sc'n)||Fowler, Rt Hon Norman|
|Browne, John (Winchester)||Fox, Marcus|
|Bruce-Gardyne, John||Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Fraser, Peter (South Angus)|
|Buck, Antony||Gardiner, George (Reigate)|
|Budgen, Nick||Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Garel-Jones, Tristan|
|Burden, Sir Frederick||Glyn, Dr Alan|
|Cadbury, Jocelyn||Goodhew, Sir Victor|
|Carlisle, John (Luton West)||Goodlad, Alastair|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Gow, Ian|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n)||Gower, Sir Raymond|
|Chalker, Mrs. Lynda||Greenway, Harry|
|Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul||Griffiths, E.(B'y St. Edm'ds)|
|Griffiths, Peter Portsm'th N)||Neale, Gerrard|
|Grist, Ian||Needham, Richard|
|Grylls, Michael||Nelson, Anthony|
|Gummer, John Selwyn||Neubert, Michael|
|Hamilton, Hon A.||Newton, Tony|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Normanton, Tom|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Nott, Rt Hon John|
|Hannam, John||Onslow, Cranley|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.|
|Hastings, Stephen||Page, Richard (SW Herts)|
|Hawkins, Sir Paul||Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil|
|Hawksley, Warren||Parris, Matthew|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Patten, John (Oxford)|
|Heath, Rt Hon Edward||Pattie, Geoffrey|
|Heddle, John||Pawsey, James|
|Henderson, Barry||Percival, Sir Ian|
|Hicks, Robert||Peyton, Rt Hon John|
|Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Hogg, Hon Douglas(Gr'th'm)||Pollock, Alexander|
|Holland, Philip(Carlton)||Porter, Barry|
|Hooson, Tom||Prentice, Rt Hon Reg|
|Hordern, Peter||Price, Sir David (Eastleigh)|
|Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Proctor, K. Harvey|
|Howell, Rt Hon D.(G'ldf'd)||Raison, Rt Hon Timothy|
|Hunt, David (Wirral)||Rathbone, Tim|
|Hunt, John(Ravensbourne)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman||Renton, Tim|
|Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey||Ridsdale, Sir Julian|
|Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Rifkind, Malcolm|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)|
|King, Rt Hon Tom||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Knox, David||Rossi, Hugh|
|Lamont, Norman||Rost, Peter|
|Lang, Ian||Royle, Sir Anthony|
|Latham, Michael||Rumbold, Mrs A. C. R.|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Lee, John||Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|Lester, Jim (Beeston)||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Shepherd, Richard|
|Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo)||Shersby, Michael|
|Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Silvester, Fred|
|Loveridge, John||Sims, Roger|
|Luce, Richard||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Lyell, Nicholas||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|McCrindle, Robert||Speller, Tony|
|Macfarlane, Neil||Spence, John|
|MacGregor, John||Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)|
|MacKay, John (Argyll)||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)||Sproat, Iain|
|McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)||Squire, Robin|
|Madel, David||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Major, John||Stanley, John|
|Marland, Paul||Steen, Anthony|
|Marlow, Antony||Stevens, Martin|
|Marten, Rt Hon Neil||Stewart, A. (E Renfrewshire)|
|Mates, Michael||Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)|
|Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus||Stokes, John|
|Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Stradling, Thomas, J.|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Tapsell, Peter|
|Mayhew, Patrick||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Mellor, David||Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Miller, Hal (B'grove)||Thomas, Rt Hon Peter|
|Mills, Iain (Meriden)||Thompson, Donald|
|Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)||Thorne, Neil(Ilford South)|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Townend, John(Bridlington)|
|Moate, Roger||Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)|
|Monro, Slr Hector||Trippier, David|
|Montgomery, Fergus||Trotter, Neville|
|Morgan, Geraint||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Morris, M. (N'hampton S)||Vaughan, Dr Gerard|
|Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)||Viggers, Peter|
|Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)||Waddington, David|
|Mudd, David||Wakeham, John|
|Murphy, Christopher||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Myles, David||Walker, B. (Perth)|
|Walters, Dennis||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Ward, John||Wilkinson, John|
|Warren, Kenneth||Williams, D.(Montgomery)|
|Watson, John||Wolfson, Mark|
|Wells, Bowen||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Wheeler, John||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Whitelaw, Rt Hon William||Mr. Carol Mather and|
|Whitney, Raymond||Mr. Anthony Berry.|
|Abse, Leo||Foulkes, George|
|Adams, Allen||Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd)|
|Alton, David||Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald|
|Anderson, Donald||Freud, Clement|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Garrett, John (Norwich S)|
|Ashley, Rt Hon Jack||Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)|
|Ashton, Joe||Ginsburg, David|
|Atkinson, N.(H'gey,)||Graham, Ted|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Grant, John (Islington C)|
|Bamett, Guy (Green Wich)||Grimond, Rt Hon J.|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (H'wd)||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Beith, A. J.||Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife)|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith|
|Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon A. (M'b'ro)||Haynes, Frank|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Healey, Rt Hon Denis|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, C.||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll)|
|Brown, R. C. (N'castle W)||Homewood, William|
|Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'y S)||Hooley, Frank|
|Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)||Horam, John|
|Buchan, Norman||Howell, Rt Hon D.|
|Callaghan, Rt Hon J.||Howells, Geraint|
|Campbell, Ian||Hoyle, Douglas|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Huckfield, Les|
|Cant, R. B.||Hughes, Mark (Durham)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Jay, Rt Hon Douglas|
|Cartwright, John||Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillhead)|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||John, Brynmor|
|Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S)||Johnson, Walter (Derby S)|
|Cohen, Stanley||Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda)|
|Coleman, Donald||Jones, Barry (East Flint)|
|Cook, Robin F.||Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald|
|Cowans, Harry||Kilroy-Silk, Robert|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Lamond, James|
|Crowther, Stan||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Cryer, Bob||Leighton, Ronald|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Lestor, Miss Joan|
|Cunningham, G.(Islington S)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n)||Litherland, Robert|
|Davidson, Arthur||Lofthouse, Geoffrey|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)||Lyon, Alexander (Yor K)|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)||Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W)|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, Stechf'd)||Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson|
|Deakins, Eric||McDonald, Dr Oonagh|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Mc Elhone, Frank|
|Dewar, Donald||Mc Kay, Allen (Penistone)|
|Dixon, Donald||Mc Kelvey, William|
|Dormand, Jack||Mc Mahon, Andrew|
|Douglas, Dick||Mc Nally, Thomas|
|Dubs, Alfred||McNamara, Kevin|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Mc Taggart, Robert|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.||Mc William, John|
|Eadie, Alex||Magee, Bryan|
|Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're)||Marks, Kenneth|
|Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||Marshall, D (G'gow S'ton)|
|English, Michael||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)|
|Ennals, Rt Hon David||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)|
|Evans, loan (Aberdare)||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Evans, John (Newton)||Maxton, John|
|Field, Frank||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Flannery, Martin||Mellish, Rt Hon Robert|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Ford, Ben||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)|
|Forrester, John||Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)|
|Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen)||Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)|
|Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)||Robertson, George|
|Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw)||Robinson, G. (Coventry N W)|
|Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)||Rodgers, Rt Hon William|
|Morton, George||Roper, John|
|Newens, Stanley||Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)|
|Ogden, Eric||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|O'Halloran, Michael||Rowlands, Ted|
|O'Neill, Martin||Sandelson, Neville|
|Orme, Rt Hon Stanley||Sever, John|
|Owen, Rt Hon Dr David||Sheerman, Barry|
|Palmer, Arthur||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Park, George||Short, Mrs Renée|
|Parker, John||Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)|
|Parry, Robert||Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Pendry, Tom||Silverman, Julius|
|Pitt, William Henry||Skinner, Dennis|
|Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)||Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark)|
|Prescott, John||Snape, Peter|
|Price, C. (Lewisham W)||Soley, Clive|
|Race, Reg||Spearing, Nigel|
|Radice, Giles||Stallard, A. W.|
|Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)||Stoddart, David|
|Richardson, Jo||Stott, Roger|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Strang, Gavin|
|Roberts, Allan (Bootle)||Straw, Jack|
|Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)||Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley|
|Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)||Whitlock, William|
|Thomas, Dr R.(Carmarthen)||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Thorne, Stan (Preston South)||Williams, Rt Hon A.(S'sea W)|
|Tilley, John||Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)|
|Torney, Tom||Wilson, Rt Hon Sir H.(H'ton)|
|Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.||Wilson, William (C'try SE)|
|Wainwright, E.(Dearne V)||Winnick, David|
|Wainwright, R.(Colne V)||Woodall, Alec|
|Walker, Rt Hon H.(D'caster)||Woolmer, Kenneth|
|Watkins, David||Wright, Sheila|
|Weetch, Ken||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Welsh, Michael||Tellers for the Noes:|
|White, Frank R.||Mr. Hugh McCartney and|
|White, J. (G'gow Pollok)||Mr. Derek Foster.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
§ MR. SPEAKER forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.
That this House welcomes the firm but fair way in which Her Majesty's Government has applied the immigration rules approved by parliament while dealing compassionately with deserving cases.