HC Deb 01 December 1983 vol 49 cc970-1
1. Mr. Proctor

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress he has made in his review of section 29 of the Immigration Act 1971.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. David Waddington)

The review of the administrative criteria governing the repatriation scheme under section 29 of the Immigration Act 1971 is virtually complete. However, before reaching final conclusions, my right hon. and learned Friend intends to take account also of the outcome of a complementary study of the possibility of combining the section 29 scheme with similar arrangements operated under supplementary benefit legislation. I hope shortly to be in a position to make a further statement about these matters.

Mr. Proctor

I thank my hon. and learned Friend for that helpful and informative reply. When and if the merger takes place, will he ensure that the scheme is operated and administered by a Government Department and not by an International Social Service charity in Brixton? When the circular is put out eventually, will my hon. and learned Friend ensure that copies go to members of the ethnic press?

Mr. Waddington

I cannot give the undertaking for which my hon. Friend asked. We have no reason to think that International Social Service of Great Britain has been operating the scheme in other than a most efficient and sensible fashion.

We need to ensure that people who genuinely need help receive it, but we do not wish to give a false impression of our attitude to repatriation. We shall need to issue a fresh circular to local authorities and other interested bodies to explain the revised arrangements. I shall consider what special arrangements, if any, should be made for the ethnic minority press.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell

Do the Government recognise that it was always improper to entrust the performance of these statutory duties to a private body which declared itself unsympathetic to performing them?

Mr. Waddington

I shall bear the right hon. Gentleman's view in mind. I can only repeat that we have no reason to think that International Social Service has not been operating the scheme in a sensible way.

Mr. Bottomley

Will my hon. and learned Friend make it clear that the Act, the Government and the Conservative party are unsympathetic towards any impression that we wish people to leave this country, other than of their own free will?

Mr. Waddington

Yes. This is a sensitive matter. That is why I was cautious in replying to the second supplementary question. It is clearly our duty to let people know about the facilities available, but we must not give the impression that we are inducing people to leave because we do not wish them to be here.

Mr. Madden

Will the Minister take steps to end the public scandal of fiancés wishing to enter this country to marry British citizens being refused entry because those whom they wish to marry are unemployed and do not have adequate accommodation? Will he ensure that that scandal is ended as quickly as possible, rather than concern himself with repatriation?

Mr. Waddington


Mr. Speaker

Order. I am not sure that that relates to the question at all, but the Minister may make a brief reply.

Mr. Waddington

I cannot see anything scandalous in making it a requirement that a person shall have means of support when he has entered the country. It is absurd to suggest that our immigration rules should operate in such a way as to allow people to enter the country and immediately become a charge on public funds.