HC Deb 14 July 1983 vol 45 cc1002-3
11. Mr. Marlow

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications from fiancés from the Indian subcontinent to enter the United Kingdom for the purposes of marriage there have been so far in 1983; and what was the comparable figure for 1982.

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

One thousand and seventy new applications for entry clearance were received from male fiancés in the Indian subcontinent in the first five months of this year, compared with 360 in the corresponding period in 1982. Those figures are broadly in line with the estimates given in the debate on the immigration rules.

Mr. Marlow

Does not this threefold increase show that either the marriage habits in the Indian subcontinent have undergone some change or, alternatively, that marriage is being used as a means of migration to this country? Will my hon. Friend, in any event, reaffirm the statement made by the previous Government that the figures will be watched carefully and that if a change in legislation is needed it will be brought forward?

Mr. Waddington

I remind my hon. Friend of what Viscount Whitelaw, as he now is, said during the debate on the immigration rules: Our policy will be subject to continuous re-examination in the light of changing circumstances … in order to achieve our objective, which is strict immigration control." — [Official Report, 15 February 1983; Vol. 36, c. 191–212.] We stand by that statement.

Applications by husbands and male fiancés are running at an annual rate of 3,624, which is 2,394 more than the total for 1982. That should be compared with the estimate that we gave during the debate on the immigration rules of between 2,500 and 3,000. Futhermore, we are talking about applications, not acceptances.

Mr. Madden

Will the Minister ensure that the interviews are arranged at the earliest possible date and the applications are processed with expedition, and also that complaints about the standard of interviews are fully investigated by his Department, with a view to ensuring that they are conducted fairly and objectively?

Mr. Waddington

I hope to go to the Indian subcontinent soon, because I wish to compare what I see there with what is being said by members of Select Committees who have investigated this matter and visited the Indian subcontinent in recent years. They have told the House that they have been greatly impressed by the work carried out by the entry clearance officers.

Mr. Budgen

If, after a year, my hon. and learned Friend finds that the new rules are allowing a large and increased number of fiancés into this country, will he undertake to ensure that the rules are tightened?

Mr. Waddington

I repeat to my hon. Friend what I said earlier. We are determined to stick to our policy of strict immigration control, and we shall keep our immigration policy under continual review so as to achieve that aim.

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