§ Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton)
I beg tomove,That this House condemns the operation of the Immigration Rules which have a devastating and oppressive effect on family life by the often humiliating treatment of parents, children, spouses, would-be spouses and bona fide visitors.
§ Mr. Kaufman
Last autumn and winter hon. Members debated on three separate occasions various drafts of new immigration rules that the Government submitted to the House. That episode was a sorry story of vacillation, ineptitude and hypocrisy. Finally, in February of last year, the House approved new immigration rules which were not what the Labour party wanted, were not what either of the two mutually antagonistic groups on the other side wanted, and were certainly not what the Government wanted.
This debate is not about the content of those rules, the principles contained in them or the lack of principle that motivated them; it is about how those rules, after a year, are working in practice and about the avoidable human anguish and humiliation that is being inflicted on innocent people by the harsh and discriminatory manner in which they are being operated.
The very first sentence of the rules, uncharacteristically for the former Home Secretary, and, indeed, for his successor, is a joke, though of a decidedly sick variety. Paragraph 2 says:Immigration officers will carry out their duties without regard to the race, colour or religion of people seeking to enter the United Kingdom.It ges on to declare:The powers conferred by the Act are to be exercised without regard to a person's race, colour or religion.I have to tell the House that the way in which immigration officers carry out their duties—the way in which powers are exercised — is far too often racialist in effect. Whether it is also racialist in intent I leave the House to judge on the basis of the evidence that I shall offer.
This is how the situation was summed up at the end of last year by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, an organisation whose experience with numerous cases prevents it from taking an over- sentimental or over-emotional view. The council said:The Home Office is acting by stealth in operating immigration control through measures not ostensibly designed to control immigration. Thus, increasingly, Home Office collaboration with the Department of Health and Social Security leads to individuals being refused benefits so that they are starved out of the country before they can challenge Home Office decisions about their status … Covert action is also taking place overseas. In the Indian sub-continent, more and more applications from families of men settled here are being refused. In 1981 the proportion refused was 29.8 per cent. By 1982 it was 37.4 per cent. and since then it has increased to 40 per cent. This does not reflect any public change in the Immigration Rules.The council went on:But the dramatic increase in the number of families who are refused the right to be reunited reflects more than individuals' difficulties. It demonstrates a hardening of attitudes amongst entry clearance officers which is a result of a deliberate Government policy of preventing the entry of black people to 660 Britain. In a desperate attempt to win the numbers game, it is denying families a right they have been granted by Parliament because it refuses to believe their evidence of entitlement. It is a hidden form of race discrimination, far away from the sensitive protest in this country.Last year the House finally changed the rules which for three years had prevented many husbands and male fiancés from applying to enter Britain. The change was not what Labour Members would have wished, but it was certainly an improvement on what went on before. Or was it?
Like many hon. Members, I have constituents who have been prevented from marrying by the old rules. When the change of rule came in, they looked forward to a speedy and favourable decision. Some male fiances had applied for entry literally years ago. They now found that instead of a swift decision, they would get no decision, that they had to apply all over again, as if they had never applied before, and that they would have to wait many months for a new interview even if they had already been interviewed. That heartless administrative decision alone caused much disappointment and disruption in lives. Delays in interviews can often have a damaging or even devastating effect on family life. Waiting times for interviews fluctuate, but they are never less than many months. The Government admit that in Bangladesh the waiting time has now got much longer—20 months.
Here is an example of the upsetting effect of such a delay on the life of one small family. It is the example of a British citizen wife, legally entitled to bring her husband to the United Kingdom but frustrated by administrative difficulties. Her name is Rajea Begum and her husband has been waiting since January 1983 in Bangladesh for an interview at the relevant high commission.
In May 1983, a letter was written to the British High Commission asking that, as her father with whom she was living was seriously ill, and she herself was pregnant, her husband's application should be speeded up to enable him to join her and to assist her. Nothing of the sort was done. A few months later, her father died. Shortly afterwards, Rajea Begum had her baby, without the presence of any close relatives. The high commission states that her husband will not be interviewed until January 1985, two years after his initial application.
Interviews, when they do take place, can be capricious and arbitrary. Let us look at the example of Mojir Uddin —again, a Bangladeshi. His father was a British citizen by registration who had lived and worked in the United Kingdom for 20 years, periodically returning to Bangladesh. His wife and five children now wished to join him in the United Kingdom. Eventually all the applicants, except Mojir were issued with entry clearance. That child was refused on the ground of not being related, as he claimed, solely on the basis of a visual age assessment that he was about two years older—13—than his stated age of 11. On appeal, expert evidence showed the gross unreliability of such medical assessment. That was submitted, and the appeal was allowed, but the fact remains that Mojir Uddin was separated from the rest of his immediate family for about a year.
Let us take another example — once more from Bangladesh—this time of a lady, Muziban Nessa. That recently married lady applied for entry clearance to join her husband in the United Kingdom for the purpose of settlement. She was refused on the ground of not being related, as claimed. Great stress was placed on the fact that she was unable to name the members of her husband's 661 family who had attended the wedding. Hon. Members, looking back on their weddings, might like to try to recall how many of their spouse's families had attended. The questioning showed total ignorance of the normal practice in District Sylhet, Bangladesh, where, at the ceremony and celebrations, the bride stays in one room of the house among her immediate family, while the bridegroom mingles with his relatives and guests. This case is currently going to appeal. Meanwhile, Muziban Nessa is currently still separated from her husband who has had to return to work in England.
Unreasonable interviewing of this kind inevitably results in many refusals of leave to enter. The latest figures show that refusals to nationals of countries in the Indian sub-continent and West Africa are among the highest of all countries. The latest information from the Home Office, in the Department's own words, specifically shows:In the latest twelve months compared with the previous twelve months there was a fall of 2,600 to 17,700 in acceptances from the Indian sub-continent and there were rises of 1,400 to 16,400 in acceptances from Commonwealth countries apart from India and Bangladesh and of 700 to 19,300 in acceptances from foreign countries excluding Pakistan. The number accepted from New Commonwealth countries and Pakistan in the latest twelve months was 28,700, compared with 30,200 in the previous twelve months.The right hon. and learned Gentleman's Department states the facts clearly, almost blatantly:Many applications for entry clearance for immediate settlement are unsuccessful; in the latest twelve months, for example, over 40 per cent. of applicants in the Indian sub-continent were found not to satisfy the immigration rules.Nor do these refusals come about by accident. Indeed, the previous Home Secretary gloried in them. When the House last debated these matters, he said:The figures show that under this Government the number of people accepted has dropped sharply. In fact the statistics for acceptances during last year were the lowest since Commonwealth immigration control began 20 years ago. That is what we intended and, I am glad to say, what we have achieved."—[Official Report, 5 February, 1983; Vol. 37, c. 189.]So let not the Home Secretary pretend that these figures are some kind of statistical accident or quirk. They are deliberate, they are intended, and they are biased racially and, in terms of the colour of those who apply, rejected.
The main argument in our debates last year was about how the immigration rules should affect husbands and male fiancés. It is especially husbands and male fiancés from the Indian sub-continent who have been adversely affected since the new and less strict rules were introduced. Due to waiting times, of course, the effect of the change may not yet be fully felt.
The latest published information shows that the refusal rate for husbands from India is 33 per cent., and for male fiancés more than twice that—69 per cent. For husbands from Pakistan, refusals are 25 per cent. of applications decided, and for male fiancés 47 per cent. The refusal rate for husbands from Bangladesh is a staggering 71 per cent., while for male fiancés it is even worse—in fact as bad as it can be—precisely 100 per cent. Half the husbands from the Indian sub-continent were turned down because it was alleged that the primary purpose of the marriage was to obtain admission to the United Kingdom. For male fiancés, that reason accounted for 61 per cent. of refusals. If one adds those rejected because it was alleged that their 662 purpose was partly to obtain admission, the refusal rate for male fiancés went up to 83 per cent. Better figures are difficult to expect, since the rules put the burden of proof on the applicant. How does one prove that one's application is not intended to achieve admission, when the success of one's application will, of course, result in one's admission?
The treatment of people wishing to come here to join spouses, would-be spouses, children and parents is frequently unacceptable. A quite different form of harassment is inflicted upon those who have no intention of staying, but—
§ Mr. Nicholas Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain to the House what tests, if any, would apply to those males who wish to come here by reason of marriage?
§ Mr. Kaufman
Marriage is the criterion of people seeking to enter to become married. That is why they apply. No doubt the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) would wish to add further tests, but the immigration rules lay down that people can apply to enter for the purpose of marriage. So what other test ought there to be? The fact is that a quite different form of harassment is inflicted upon those who have no intention of staying, but simply wish to come on a visit.
The Minister of State, of whom the worst I can say is that he is no improvement on his predecessor, and of whom the best I can say is that he is no worse than his predecessor, told the House a few days ago:Visitors need not apply for entry clearance but may do so in order to ascertain in advance whether they are eligible for admission to the United Kingdom." — [Official Report, 29 February 1984; Vol. 55, c. 222.]I have to say quite flatly that I would never advise anybody with a brown or a black skin to come here as a visitor without obtaining prior entry clearance. Failure to take this precaution is to expose oneself to insult and humiliation, quite possibly followed by imprisonment and forcible removal from this hospitable land. Imprisonment goes under the pseudonym of detention, and for Heathrow airport the detention centre is at Harmondsworth. Between 1 January and 22 November last year, 2,350 people were detained at Harmondsworth. They came from 98 countries. Of those 2,350, 77 per cent. came from 31 New Commonwealth countries, together with Pakistan. Of those 2,350, 858 came from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh — no fewer than 37 per cent. The Government ought to post a notice at the airport saying: "If you come from the New Commonwealth, you are seven times as likely as anyone else to be detained at Harmondsworth. If you come from the Indian sub-continent, your chances of being detained are 36 times greater than those of anyone else." Yet the immigration rules solemnly promise that immigration officers will carry out their duties without regard to the race, colour or religion of people seeking to enter the United Kingdom.
Even when visitors are eventually admitted, they can first be subjected to forms of harassment which verge on the inhumane. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) recently exposed the scandal of Mrs. Monghiben Chavda. She is 90 years of age. That 663 might be thought to entitle her to some respect and regard. Unfortunately for her, she comes from India. That cancels respect and regard and substitutes revilement. Mrs. Chavda came here last summer to visit her son. She was given temporary admission, but was required a week later to go for an interview at East Midlands airport. She was interviewed for six hours. She was then told that she would be allowed to stay as a visitor provided that she signed a form promising that she would not apply to extend her stay while she was here. The form states:I undertake not to apply for any extension of my stay in the United Kingdom for any purpose.Paragraph 103 of the immigration rules specifically states not just that such an application may be submitted, but that, provided certain conditions are fulfilled, such application "should"—that is the word in the rules—be granted.
The form that Mrs. Chavda was obliged to sign was unlawful, yet she and her son were forced to sign it, and Mrs. Chavda was obliged to add her thumb print as well. What a repulsive and disgraceful way to treat a lady of 90. What kind of people would do such a thing? In a mealy-mouthed letter to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, West, the Minister of State tried to brazen his way out. He said:I do accept that the wording used on this occasion could be construed as an attempt to deny the passenger her lawful rights by administrative means. This clearly was not the intention".What was the intention of getting an old woman of 90 to sign a form saying that she would not carry out her lawful right to extend her stay as a visitor in this country? That was one illegality committed in the sacred name of immigration control—the terrible fear that this country might he burdened with a 90-year-old woman.
Other decisions frequently turn out not to be in accordance with the law. A few days ago the Government were forced to admit that successful appeals to the adjudicator against immigration officers' decisions were the highest for the past eight years, and that the same applied to successful appeals to the immigration appeals tribunal.
Judged by legality as well as humanity, the Government are increasingly failing the test. What happens when people are admitted; when they obtain permission to stay; or even when they obtain permission to settle? Again and again, they are hounded, their rights are challenged, their peace of mind is destroyed and their family life is wrecked.
Maria Ouloupis came as a visitor from Cyprus and overstayed. The Home Office decided to make a deportation order and an appeal was lodged. In the months before the initial hearing, she married a British citizen. Despite the fact that she was eight months' pregnant and that it was accepted that the marriage was genuine, it was none the less held that the public interest outweighed the compassionate circumstances of the case. Maria Ouloupis has an unchallengeable legal right to come to this country, yet the Home Office contends that she first be deported, that she wait years until the deportation order expires, and then lodge a new application. Meanwhile, she has given birth to a baby who is a citizen of this country. She, with that baby, will be deported. They will be separated from the husband and father and then, after a period of years, justice having been done in the eyes of the Government, they will be allowed back into this country. That is happening again and again.
664 A constituent, Mr. Z. E. Mir, who lives at Longsight, is a decent law-abiding citizen whose life has been made a misery by this same vengeful technique of the Home Office. I recently had a letter from the Home Office about Mr. Mir, whose wife was deported to Pakistan. She had their baby in Pakistan. The letter makes everything all right. The deportation order is being revoked because it is now established that in 1979 Mrs. Mir had the right to marry her husband. That is all right, is it not? They have been separated, the baby has been born away from the father, the father has been separated from his wife, but right will now be done.
When someone becomes the object of the Government's attentions in this way, the ingenuity and application devoted to the task by Home Office officials would, if applied to the unemployment problem, provide work for millions.
If someone's status is in doubt, and if they cannot be deported, an attempt is made to starve them out of the country instead. The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has put it in this way:The 1980 Supplementary Benefit Act specifically excludes certain people from being able to claim benefits of any kind. Overstayers and those whom the Home Office alleges to be illegal entrants are not eligible for benefit. This has led to great hardship for a significant number of people.What is more, there is an increasing number of reports that people with Asian names are being asked to produce their passports to Department of Health and Social Security offices. I ask the Home Secretary to repudiate that practice, which differentiates between one kind of citizen of our country and another.
If the House wishes to know of someone who has been the object of almost everything that the Home Office can think up to throw at someone who has the unfortunate disability of having a brown skin and of being a woman, I refer it to the story of my constituent Parveen Kahn. She entered this country perfectly legally. She married a constituent of mine who was also thought to be here legally, but it turned out that he was not. He had been brought here at the age of 13 under another boy's name. He was too young to know that he was breaking the law or even that there was a law to break. He was also too young to know that he qualified for the Labour Government's amnesty, so he did not apply for it. He continued in what he thought was a normal course of life and he married Parveen Kahn. They had two children. Then the Home Office served him with a deportation notice. It also served the wife with a deportation notice. The Home Office said that she came here "by positive misrepresentation" — pretending that her husband was settled here — even though she thought that she was settled here.
The Home Secretary admitted to me:We accept she did not appreciate that her husband's stay here was unlawful.What was the lady's crime? It seems that she was still guilty of misrepresenting something, even though she did not know what she was misrepresenting. She had to go. The Home Office offered to pay the children's fares home. Since their birthplace and home are in Manchester. I assume that the Home Office offered them bus passes.
The stress of this intolerable situation proved too much for Mr. Kahn. He left his wife. She then had no means of support. The Department of Health and Social Security refused to help her. She was left by the Government to starve. Naturally, I went on pressing her case, and recently 665 the Home Secretary agreed that Mrs. Kahn could now stay. Here she was, and here she now is. Thanks to the Home Office, her marriage has been destroyed and she has spent a long period almost destitute. No doubt Lord Whitelaw and the right hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) regard that as a job well done, just as the present Minister seems proud of what he is doing to Rashida Abedi —the deaf Pakistani woman in Croydon, to whose pleas to remain here he was even more deaf.
§ Mr. Budgen
The right hon. Gentleman deals with individual cases. Will he set out the principles by which a future Labour Government will or will not control immigration?
§ Mr. Kaufman
The principles by which a Labour Government will or will not control immigration are those of humanity—those by which I would have expected my parents to be treated when they came to Britain as immigrants. If they had been treated according to these rules, I would not be present tonight. I would probably have ended up in a gas chamber. I wish the country to return to the sort of principles on which it used to operate and from which the Government have departed so cruelly and heartlessly.
There are many hurdles to leap. If someone has conquered all those hurdles—has been allowed into the country to stay for the full qualifying period that permits him to apply for permanent residence and actually been awarded the right to permanent residence—and wishes to take the final step to become a British citizen, he will find that that process costs him money. It will cost him £70 to register and £200 to be naturalised. What is more, the Government are making a 42 per cent. profit from this business. That it is regarded as a business was made plain by the Minister, when he said:There is no doubt how a manufacturing concern taking, say, two years to make a product and deciding in 1982 to change over from asking for payment on completion of work to payment in advance would approach the matter. The firm certainly would not have said that payments of £3.79 million received in 1982–83 for work done in 1981–82 should be lumped with £7.16 million received on new orders not to be completed until the following year and that the profit for 1982–83 should be arrived at by setting those two sums against the manufacturing costs of 1982–83… It is ridiculous to talk about cash surplus as a profit". —[Official Report, 21 November 1983; Vol. 49, c. 147.]What a preposterous and odious way to describe the process of acquiring British citizenship. We have been described as a "nation of shopkeepers", but I was unaware that one of our consumer products was allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen.
The Select Committee on Home Affairs unanimously denounced those fees as long ago as 4 May 1983. After nearly a year, the Government have made no reply to it. In October they promised an answer shortly, but "shortly" is not yet here. On 6 February 1984, the Minister told the Select Committee that he would give a detailed response by the end of the month. It is now 5 March, and there has still been no reply. Presumably the Government cannot think of a response that would not be received with well-merited derision and scorn. The Government deserve not only derision and scorn, but anger and contempt for the damage that their oppressive use of the immigration rules has inflicted on the family life of innocent men, women and children.
666 A few weeks ago the Home Office issued a press notice boasting that for its new naturalised Asian application form it had been awarded a prize in a competition for plain English awards. The House and the country will be impressed when the Home Office wins an award not for plain English, but for plain humanity. On its present record, it is not even qualified to enter for that competition. That is why we shall ask the House to vote for our motion.
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. David Waddington)
I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:believes that the operation of the Immigration Rules provides the right basis for a firm and fair immigration control which combines a necessary scrutiny of entitlement to settle here with respect and support for family life and proper treatment of visitors to this country.The other day I happened to pick up a book and look at the index, and in it I read that Kaufman came after Kant. We have heard a lot of humbug tonight from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman), whose speech was humbug from start to finish, as I shall illustrate.
Virtually every hon. Member knows that we must have immigration control. Successive Governments have accepted the need for it, and even the Labour party today and the right hon. Gentleman pay lip service to that need. The right hon. Gentleman sought to obscure the fact that immigration control in general must mean immigration control in particular, and that it means making decisions which individual people—they may be perfectly decent people—will find unpalatable. However, it means that in some cases people will suffer a measure of hardship, and that is the fundamental point that the right hon. Gentleman skated over. He cannot quote a number of cases and say that they show that control is not being operated correctly. The right hon. Gentleman paid lip service to control, and said that the Government were running a hard control. He cannot have it both ways. If there is to be control, hard decisions will have to be made, and we must face that.
All hon. Members know that the subject of immigration control arouses strong emotions. Because it does, it behoves us all to speak with moderation and to calm things down, not stir them up. For all the right hon. Gentleman's bluster and fulminations, there has always been a great deal of common ground between the parties, and we are glad of it. Just as the right hon. Gentleman stirred things up today, so the Labour party tried to stir things up at the general election, but nobody paid the blindest bit of notice. Why should they have done? After all the Labour party promised to repeal the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962, but when it came to power it did precisely the opposite. In 1968 it did not repeal the 1962 legislation, but extended it to United Kingdom passport holders. In 1969 it introduced new rules for husbands, which were considerably tougher than the rules we have now. The rules allowed entry to husbands only in cases of exceptional hardship. In 1971 history repeated itself. The Labour party opposed the Immigration Act 1971 and promised to repeal it, but in office the Labour Government did not touch it in the slightest detail and for five years they were happy to leave it on the statute book.
The Opposition now complain about the 1980 and 1983 rules, but, however hard they try, they cannot make them 667 look like a revolution in immigration control because all hon. Members know that in 1980 the Conservative Government were building on the 1977 changes in the rules made by the Labour Administration. Let no one forget that it was the Labour Government who in 1977 introduced the first rule against marriages for immigration purposes. So much for what the right hon. Gentleman said a few minutes ago about anybody who married being entitled to enter this country.
The ethnic minorities recognise why the Government, in their interests as in the interests of the community as a whole, have to operate a firm control. They recognise that without firm control people will fear for their jobs and that there will be others ready to play on those fears and, by stirring up resentment against newcomers, to destroy the efforts of those working for harmony in our society and for good community relations. The motion says that the operation of the present rules is an attack on family life. I find that pretty odd, given that the rules provide for entry clearance precisely for family reasons, and that the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that two thirds of all those accepted for settlement last year were members of families, and wives, children, husbands, parents or grandparents of people already settled here.
The fact is that the rules are there not to attack but to support family life. The right hon. Gentleman suggests that our entry clearance procedures are oppressive and that long waits are involved. That was part of his case, but my answer to that is "Fiddlesticks." Let us consider the figures. At the end of 1983, someone in the non-priority queue in Delhi for entry clearance had to wait 7.5 months for interview. In March 1979, when the Labour Government left office, the waiting time in Delhi for non-priority cases was six to 12 months. In 1983, in Islamabad the waiting time for interview in non-priority cases was 9.25 months, but when the Labour Government were in power in 1979 the waiting time for such cases was 20 to 23 months, or more than twice as long.
At the end of last year the waiting time for interview in non-priority cases in Dhaka was 20 months, whereas it was 22 months in 1979 when the Labour Government were in power. Nevertheless, the right hon. Member for Gorton has the gall to tell us that people are having to wait for a cruel and inhuman time for their applications to be dealt with. He then looks askance when I talk of humbug, yet none of us has heard such humbug for many months. The right hon. Gentleman glossed over the fact that at least half of the people in Dhaka are in the priority queue, rather than the non-priority queue, and that a newly married wife will wait precisely one month for an interview. In Bombay, a newly married wife will wait just three weeks for an interview. Is that inhuman, oppressive treatment of people waiting for entry clearance? Of course not.
§ Mr. Jack Straw (Blackburn)
The Minister may have missed the point, which is that it is the Government's change in the rules and the way in which they have interpreted them that has made the situation inhuman and oppressive. Does the Minister intend to move on to the way in which the Government are applying and interpreting rule 41, under which the onus is on the immigrant to prove that his primary purpose is not to gain entrance to the United Kingdom? Will the hon. and learned Gentleman deny what many of our immigrant families believe, which is that special orders have gone to 668 entry clearance officers that they should trick potential applicants into answers that appear to be incriminating, even though the families are plainly genuine?
§ Mr. Waddington
The hon. Gentleman knows better than to suggest that I would omit the subject of husbands and fiancés, which I shall come to in due course. He is not correct to suggest that the only matter raised by the right hon. Member for Gorton was the waiting time for husbands and fiancés. The right hon. Gentleman was saying nothing of the sort. He was accusing the Government of keeping all applicants waiting much longer than was the case when the Labour Government were in office. That was humbug and a complete distortion of the facts.
I come to a topic that is of the utmost importance in view of the absurd and irresponsible attack by the right hon. Member for Gorton. The refusal rate for family applications in Bangladesh has gone up from 39 per cent. in 1979 to 56 per cent. in 1983. The right hon. Gentleman may say that that is a sign of oppressive control, and that when the Labour Government were in office only 39 per cent. of family applications were turned down compared with 56 per cent. in 1983. However, he might like to know that in 1977, when the Labour Government were in office, 62 per cent. of family applications were turned down. That was the oppressive control of a Labour Government.
No one who had studied this issue for five minutes would argue that the refusal rates of 23 per cent. in India and 35 per cent. in Pakistan in 1983 pointed to oppressive control, because no one who had studied the subject for five minutes could fail to be aware of the problems facing our entry clearance officers. Hon. Members know perfectly well that there are several reasons for the high rate of refusals in, for example, Dhaka. During the past year the entry clearance officers there have been concentrating on cases needing a second or third interview. They are, by definition, cases in which doubts have arisen and refusal is therefore a more likely outcome. Incidentally, that concentration on re-interviews took place at the express request of the Sub-Committee of the Home Affairs Committee. The House will also know that there have been particular problems in Dhaka over the years.
§ Mr. Ron Leighton (Newham, North-East)
The Minister has explained that the interviews are difficult, and their aim is to establish whether the primary purpose is to obtain entry to the United Kingdom. However, could Members of Parliament have transcripts of the interviews so that they can see what has happened?
§ Mr. Waddington
I do not blame the hon. Gentleman for not concentrating on my speech, but I have not yet reached the subject of husbands and fiancés. I was dealing with family applications because of the absurd criticisms made by the right hon. Member for Gorton concerning the alleged treatment of such applications in the sub-continent. I was pointing out that there are problems when it comes to dealing with such family applications.
The House will know, for example, that there has been great difficulty in establishing where the truth lies. Too many people still take bad avice from agents, produce bogus documents, and tell lies to cover up earlier tax frauds, and those problems have been particularly acute in Bangladesh. But when I went to the sub-continent I was very impressed with the way in which our staff carried out 669 its work and so was the Home Affairs Sub-Committee when it visited the immigration service in the sub-continent, and reported:We consider Entry Clearance Officers and their seniors do a first class job in extremely difficult circumstances".That is some all-party evidence that rebuts what the right hon. Gentleman is trying to foist on the House.
§ Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)
Will the Minister comment on the experience of independent bodies that have investigated many of the applications made in Bangladesh and subsequently refused? In a very high proportion of those cases the applications were found to be genuine. Is the hon. and learned Gentleman satisfied with the independence of those studies, or does he reject them?
§ Mr. Waddington
We looked into the cases which could be traced. I remember looking into one batch of cases, but we could not trace about 50 per cent. of them. Of the others, we granted entry to one or two applicants. One man from the part of the world represented by the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) was granted entry. The hon. Member knows better than to suggest that we do not make the most careful examination of any cases brought to our attention.
I am amazed that so often people talk about families being separated because of immigration control. We must put the matter in perspective. We are talking about the young members of families who decide to leave their country and parents behind to come here. That is their right, but the separation takes place because of the children's decision to emigrate. One of the most unfair criticisms of any system of control is that it separates members of a family. The people themselves bring about the separation. We make no apology for saying that we should not accept parents unless they have no one else close to them in their own country to whom they can turn. We must remember the implications of allowing unfettered entry for the National Health Service and other services.
§ Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)
The Minister has skipped over one or two important issues, including the grave difficulties faced by many when trying to come within the immigration rules. Does the Minister accept that sponsors in the United Kingdom, many of whom have been here for years, have paid their taxes and contributed to the National Health Service, have no motivation other than to look after aged parents? Perhaps they want to care for a mother in her seventies. They feel obliged to look after her. Is that wrong? Is that a disgrace or stigma on the family?
§ Mr. Waddington
Of course it is not wrong. The hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) knows well that immigration officers often have to deal with people who say that they are coming her as visitors. Under the rules the immigration officers must be satisfied that the people are genuine visitors and will not stay. In the straightforward case of an application by parents to live here permanently it is not just a question of whether the children have the wherewithal to support them, but that public services are involved. I am talking not only of national assistance, but of the National Health Service and 670 other services which could be involved when elderly people come here. We must bear that in mind when considering immigration control.
The motion is absurd when, referring to family life, it mentions "would-be spouses". The essence of being a would-be spouse is that the person does not have a family life with the other would-be spouse—or at least he or she should not have, save in prospect.
That brings me to the kernel of the matter. Our policy allows a woman who has close ties with Britain to be joined by her husband. If a woman is not a British citizen it is not unreasonable to expect her to live with her husband in the country in which he or she is a citizen. We are not prepared to allow marriage to be used as a route to immigration.
One can see the absurdity. Having tightened up on work permits to prevent young men coming here on to the labour market, we cannot allow the same young men to come here by using marriage as a device. That would be the ultimate absurdity and we shall not perpetrate it.
The right hon. Member for Gorton suggested that controls for husbands and fiancés are oppressive. The 1983 rules made a relaxation, as the right hon. Gentleman conceded. The overall refusal rate as a result has fallen, not risen. One would not have thought that, listening to the right hon. Gentleman's speech. The overall refusal rate for husbands and fiancés fell from 63 per cent. in 1982 to 48 per cent. in 1983.
§ Mr. Budgen
Will my hon. and learned Friend remind the House of the promise by Lord Whitelaw that if the rules were shown to be significantly more lax than the previous rules the Government would examine them with a view to tightening them?
§ Mr. Waddington
I remember exactly what was said. A forecast was made of how many additional applications would be made as a result of the relaxation of the rules. The forecast was between 2,500 and 3,000. In fact about 2,200 additional applications have been made. I am talking about applications, not the number accepted for settlement. In 1983 the numbers accepted for settlement were not the same as the number of applications. So far as I remember only about 300 are involved. My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-West (Mr. Budgen) cannot deduce from the figures that events have unfolded in a manner not anticipated in the debate last February.
The overall refusal rate was reduced because the criterion for entry was relaxed. The refusal rate on primary purpose is up. That is not surprising because before 1 January 1983 people often could not get over the first hurdle of proving that the woman had a connection by birth with this country. The refusal rate on primary purpose alone is still only 25 per cent. On primary purpose and on another ground the refusal rate is 36 per cent. It is absurd to suggest that the test is impossible to surmount.
The best example of the humbug and distortion of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was when he said that the refusal rate for fiancés in Bangladesh was 100 per cent. I shall tell the House how it is possible for him to produce that figure. Only three applications from the whole of Bangladesh were made in 1983. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that such fudging of statistics will help the House we might as well give up and go home. That is not the behaviour that one expects from a right hon. Gentleman leading for the Opposition.
§ Mr. Leighton
The Minister is courteous, as is the staff of his private office. Does he accept that some of our women constituents are married with perhaps two children born in London, and yet their husbands cannot join them? Is it possible for us to see the transcripts of interviews which cause entry clearance officers to refuse entry?
§ Mr. Waddington
I do not think that there is such a thing as a transcript. I have sat in on interviews and seen the entry clearance officers make notes of what is said by applicants. They are punctilious. I was impressed when in the sub-continent to note how often, when a damning admission was made by the applicant, the question was put again. The applicant was given the opportunity to correct it, yet he repeated the same damaging statement. It is not realistic to talk in terms of a transcript when we are not speaking of a shorthand note or anything remotely like it. I emphasise again that, when one looks at the figures and at the fact that the overall refusal rate went down between 1982 and 1983, one cannot talk about oppressive control.
§ Mr. Straw
Will the Minister accept that there is anxiety among many families of Asian origin about the operation of the primary purpose rule because they feel that it is used to avoid accepting applications in geniune cases? Will the hon. and learned Gentleman further accept that such anxiety could perhaps be allayed if the instructions given to entry clearance officers about the detailed criteria which they should use to adjudge primary purpose issues were published? Will he agree to such publication?
§ Mr. Waddington
For obvious reasons it has never been the practice of any Government to publish such instructions. We recently published instructions following undertakings — the right hon. Member for Gorton referred to this—and it is proper to publish instructions which tell immigration officers the form in which statements should be taken from people who arrive, for instance, at Heathrow. It would be entirely different, however, to publish instructions which might instruct people on how they might evade control.
In relation to visitors, the rules require that immigration officers should satisfy themselves that the people in question are genuine visitors. Our immigration officers do a difficult job well, and to suggest, as the right hon. Member for Gorton did on 21 February 1984 as reported in column 1292 in Committee on the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill, that they ask questions deliberately to confuse and that they ask completely irrelevant questions, such as how many trees are in the person's garden, is a nasty slander. That is the only way in which it can be described.
The number of people refused entry is very small. In 1983, of all those seeking to enter this country from India —the number was slightly over 200,000—0.6 per cent. were refused entry. Of all those seeking entry in 1983 from Pakistan, 1.2 per cent. were refused entry. The right hon. Member for Gorton might say that even that percentage rate of refusal is too high. Consider what happened under Labour. In 1975, the rate of refusal for India was 0.7 per cent.; in 1976, 0.6 per cent.; and in 1978, 0.5 per cent. In other words, the rate of refusal under Labour was almost the same as the rate in recent years. The same has been true of Pakistan. In 1975, the rate of refusal for passengers from Pakistan was 1.5 per cent. and in 1976 it was 1.4 per 672 cent. In other words, in those two years the rate was higher than in the last year. In 1978, for Pakistan, it was the same at 1.2 per cent.
Where on earth in those figures can there be any cause for complaint? How can a case be made for the proposition that there is oppressive control under the Tories and relaxed control under Labour? To refer to the figures as evidence of oppressive and humiliating treatment is humbug and is the kind of deliberate distortion of the facts that causes such harm. It is stirring for the sake of stirring, no more and no less.
On 31 January 1984, the right hon. Member for Gorton, at columns 851 and 852 of the Committee stage of the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill, talked in the context of the powers of arrest under the Immigration Act. He spoke of people being hauled off to remand centres, of the thousands of cases that he had taken up on behalf of his constituents, of the persecution of his constituents, of misery and humiliation.
I have had a check done. Since January 1983, the right hon. Member for Gorton has taken up with the Home Secretary and myself a total of 94 cases which have any connection with immigration control, and I include in that number even queries about entry clearance overseas. I gather that only three of those cases involved any arrest. Furthermore, the House will be interested to know that of seven recent court refusal cases of his, at which I looked this morning, one person has been removed, two have been granted admission, two are still under consideration and, as for the other two, they, having been granted temporary admission, have done a disappearing trick. The right hon. Gentleman will be in some difficulty if he tries to persuade the House that the immigration officer was wrong in their cases. If the right hon. Gentleman told on his travels whoppers such as those he told upstairs in Committee, he would have a job getting through any immigration control in the whole wide world.
What of those who have run foul of our immigration laws and have been detained or deported? During the Committee proceedings on the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill the right hon. Member for Gorton talked also ofwidespread persecution…harassment of hundreds of thousands of people from the Indian subcontinent".— [0fficial Report, Standing Committee E; 31 January 1984, c. 852 ]and of indiscriminate arrest and of it being used as a racist power.
In 1983, 6,848 people were detained at Heathrow and Harmondsworth. The right hon. Gentleman called that disgraceful. Most of them were no doubt black, he would probably say. In 1978, when the Labour party was in power, how many were then detained at Heathrow and Harmondsworth? Not 6,848, not 7,848 but 12,981 — nearly twice the number. Would the right hon. Gentleman care to say whether only two of those were black? Again, what he said was complete humbug and a distortion of the facts, just to stir for the sake of stirring.
Next, consider the question of those who, having been refused entry to this country, are then granted temporary admission. That is a good hallmark, I would have said, of whether we operate an oppressive or fairly relaxed control. Hon. Members in all parts of the House will know how often they make representations to me and how often the person in respect of whom they have made representations is granted temporary admission and, accordingly, gets the 673 visit to his relatives for which he had asked. It is proper that we should use that method of temporary admission to help people in that way.
In 1978, when the Labour party was in office—the Government who operated the humane control which caused hardship to none, as the right hon. Member for Gorton would put it — 3,874 people were granted temporary admission. In 1983, 7,292, twice as many, were granted temporary admission, were granted that sort of indulgence under Tory rule.
§ Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)
Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that we are thankful for the consideration that he has shown my constituents in allowing so many of them to come to spend a happy family holiday in Lancaster?
§ Mr. Waddington
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that comment. We have reason to be proud of the fact that we are operating the control in a more relaxed way than it was operated under Labour, and it is sheer humbug for the right hon. Member for Gorton to pretend otherwise.
It is interesting to consider also how many deportation orders were made and enforced. There were 815 orders enforced in 1983 and 714 in 1978. The right hon. Member for Gorton was talking about a reign of terror. He talked of people being humiliated, arrested and carted off. However, about the same number of people were deported each year under the Labour Government as are deported under this Government. No one could describe the figures as evidence of widespread persecution.
Immigration control is bound to lead to decisions that are not liked, but a strict policy is in the interests of everyone, including those who came here as immigrants not so long ago. This is a facile motion which avoids all the real issues. It is fatuous in its emphasis on family life when it is entry for family reasons which is preferred under the rules. I call upon the House to reject the motion and to support the amendment.
§ 8.1 pm
§ Mr. James Lamond (Oldham, Central and Royton)
I am sorry to have to tell the Minister of State that his speech was disappointing. I want to treat this subject seriously, because it is of great importance to many of my constituents, some of whom have come to London because of the interest that they have in it. The hon. and learned Gentleman knows that I have praised him on occasion for his actions and I have always found his private office to be exceptionally helpful. The duty officer at the Home Office has similarly been helpful.
The hon. and learned Gentleman has tried to defend the Government's record by contrasting it with that of the Labour Government. If he is to do his job properly, he should not be making comparisons, odious or otherwise, with the Labour Government's record. He should be comparing what he does with common decency and compassion, and asking himself—
§ Mr. Waddington
I agree entirely with the hon. Gentleman, and I hope that in my actions I have shown that we act with common decency and compassion. However, the hon. Gentleman must concede, in fairness, that the case of the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) is that there has been an alteration 674 in policy and that control is now being operated in a cruel way when it was not previously. I have proved up to the hilt that that is sheer nonsense.
§ Mr. Lamond
I shall not give way too often, because I have promised to be brief. It is not good enough to compare the Government's record with that of the Labour Government and to expect my constituents who are affected by the control, and the hundreds of others in the north-west who are in the same position, to accept that as an excuse for what is going on. It is not honest and decent behaviour to do so.
The Minister of State accused my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) of trying to base his argument on particular cases and to show how they had been treated. This is a debate about individual cases. We are not concerned merely with statistics. Those who consult me at my clinics in Oldham are not statistics to me. They are often men who have been separated from their families for as long as 10 years. The hon. and learned Gentleman knows that I have brought to him cases of lengthy waits that men have undergone before their families have been able to join them. The very fact that they have been waiting for 10 to 12 years means that they waited during a period when a Labour Government were in office. I make no excuses for the previous Government. If that Government operated such controls, they are to be condemned as roundly as the Tory Government.
I want to try to get across to the Minister of State what is happening to those who have been waiting a long time for their wives and children to join them. A debate was initiated at the Tory party conference in October 1983 by many of the Conservative Members who are now sitting behind the hon. and learned Gentleman.
§ Mr. Lamond
I think that the Minister will recall that I told him that I watched him deliver his speech on television and that I admired him for the staunch way in which he defended his policy of allowing families to be united. I regret to say that I cannot admire him tonight.
It took some bravery to advance the policy of allowing families to be united and to win the day at the Tory party conference. He said that that debate was about the rights of men who had come to Britain legally and who were asking that their wives and families be allowed to join them. He argued that the debate was not about primary immigration; he said that the request of the men involved was reasonable and correct and that it would be compassionate to accede to it. I can hardly believe that there is any Member of this place who would deny that fundamental right.
This debate is about the denial of a fundamental right, the right to family life. This right is recognised in international law. We know that EC law and even the restrictive immigration legislation and rules that now operate guarantee the entry of wives and children who are younger than 18, yet the Home Office is denying this right to thousands of dependants of British citizens solely because of the colour of their skin. People in Greater Manchester and other parts of Britain are suffering enforced separation from their families. Many of these people are Bangladeshi, Gujerati and Pakistani men who have contributed to Britain's industry and economy and are legally settled here. These men applied for their wives 675 and children to join them in accordance with their rights under British law. They did not realise what would happen to them.
Many of these wives have been waiting for five to 10 years for their right of unity with their husbands. In some instances, relatives have died apart while waiting because of long administrative delays. How is this done? The delays are not created openly; they are engineered by the use of all possible procedures and delays in the British high commission and embassies in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Caribbean.
No attempt is made to establish relationships at interviews. Instead, trivial differences in names are built up into major discrepancies. Account is taken in these interviews of the colour of a person's dress and the number of hens in the household. It has been asked whether we might see transcripts of the interviews. I accept that it would be difficult to provide them, but the adjudicators' reports and the papers that are made available to us when our constituents are making appeals show some of the reasons why relationships have been denied. Stories are increasing about the questions which are asked. When my own children were young, which is some years ago—most of us have not been involved with young families for some years—I tried out on them the sort of questions that are asked of children in Pakistan—for example, "How many uncles and aunts do you have?" It was difficult for my children, even in this country where we have smaller families than they have in Pakistan, to give an accurate answer.
I thought of the women who travelled considerable distances with all their children to be interviewed at an embassy. I imagined them being taken into the presence of a white man to be interviewed through an interpreter. I took into account the fact that their culture means that women in Pakistan, for example, are not accustomed to such conditions. I thought of them being questioned closely on issues which sometimes show a distressing lack of understanding of their culture. If we think along those lines, we begin to understand why discrepancies arise. I shall not go into some of the questions put to me. They are rather distressing. I am sure that no hon. Member would want his wife to answer the questions often asked of wives in Pakistan.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
I ought to declare an interest, even when asking a question. I am chairman of the Indo-British Association, and see a number of people who come to this country. Does the hon. Gentleman not think that there is a danger of mythology in this matter? Doubtless some extreme and silly questions are asked, but people tend to generalise, as though such questions are always asked. Those who from time to time visit the Indian subcontinent — I recently took the trouble to ask people in immigration posts there about this —will know that the hon. Gentleman is speaking about a minority of vexatious questions and that, on the whole, great efficiency and clarity and a good deal of humanity is shown by decent people.
§ Mr. Lamond
I have been to Bangladesh—although, I admit, some years ago — to observe the interview procedure. I concede immediately that we are asking the interviewing officers on our behalf to do a difficult job. I sometimes wonder whether they are sufficiently trained on the job and understand other cultures sufficiently. An 676 interviewing officer might ask about the colour of the sari worn by a woman at her wedding. Weddings may last four or five days, and naturally she might wear several saris in that time. An inaccurate answer might be noted, when the confused woman might have given the colour of the main sari she wore. That is a difficult point. We could approach this matter more humanely.
Innumerable women from the villages are trapped into conflicts about dates of birth or visits by their husbands. If there are not sufficient discrepancies in the answers, the applicant is said to look younger than she claims to be.
The family of Mr. Hashim, one of my constituents, faced this problem. The entry clearance officer claimed that his observation and a medical examination proved that Mr. Hashim's wife was 35, not 41 as claimed. II came as news to the medical profession that ages of adults could be determined in that way. I am sure that hardly any hon. Member could determine an hon. Member's age within two or three years, just by looking at him. I do not believe that we would go to the length of refusing an application by a wife to join her husband if she looked four or five years younger than alleged. That answer is used as a basis for refusing to allow wives and children to join the man.
I am sorry to use particular examples, but I wish to emphasise that I am not speaking about statistics. Another example is of a husband in my constituency who wanted his wife to join him. Their five children were interviewed, and four were accepted as members of his family, but the fifth, a girl, was said not to be the man's daughter. It was alleged that she was someone else's daughter. It is scarcely credible that the wife and the rest of the family would have remained for years in Pakistan rather than abandon a girl who was falsely alleged to be a daughter. That alone proves the case. The girl was one of the family. If she had been the daughter of another couple in Pakistan whom the applicants were hoping to smuggle in illegally, the family would merely have told her that, unfortunately, the plan had not worked, and gone to England with the remaining four children. The fact that the family did not do so proves that a mistake was made—and I put it no higher than a mistake.
In Oldham and many other towns, men in their forties, fifties and even sixties are still being refused visas for their wives to join them. That is an insult to common sense, let alone common decency and humanity. The Home Office, the Minister and everyone else know that those men are married. Why else do they apply year after year? Why do they send thousands of pounds to support non-existing families? Who are they visiting on their trips back to Pakistan, Bangladesh or India? Despite this, the Home Office is continuing to refuse them as "not related as claimed" and saying that it is not satisfied about the date of marriage, date of birth, and so on. We are left with an enormous queue, especially in Bangladesh, in which the Home Office acknowledges are many families applying a second, third or even a fourth time.
I have constituents whose cases have been going on since 1970 — 14 years ago. I have seen constituents whose wives and children have died while waiting for the Home Office to relent. The Home Office's response has been to try to stop families applying again by denying them interviews and, when they appeal, using the appeals rules to force the case to be dealt with by a written plea for a hearing as a preliminary issue. The case can then be automatically dismissed by the Home Office-appointed adjudicator without even a hearing.
677 I am a little tired of being told by the Home Office that my black constituents do not have wives and children. I am pleased that, during the past year or two, divided families — both locally and, increasingly, nationally —have begun a grassroots campaign to expose the injustices in the present Home Office machinery. That campaign is calling for a proper appeals system. At the moment, the appellant is not allowed even to attend the hearing of his or her case. The campaign insists that the burden to disprove the relationship should be placed where it belongs —on the Home Office, not on the applicant.
§ Mr. Andrew Faulds (Warley, East)
Should the Home Office not look at another aspect? A case has just been passed to me, and will shortly be coming to the Minister, from my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer). For reasons that he and I find unacceptable, the entry of a certain gentleman has been refused. The gentleman, who is now a constituent of mine and no longer a constituent of my right hon. and learned Friend, has made a reasonable request, which I shall pass to the Home Office. His case is that, if the high commission does not accept the relationship he claims, why should it not provide the staff to go to the village and check locally in the local language whether his claim is justified? That is where the Home Office is likely to find the truth on the ground. I am sorry to make such a long intervention, but will the Under-Secretary of State say whether that type of service could and should be provided?
§ Mr. Lamond
My hon. Friend has raised an important point. A number of groups have gone abroad to carry out such visits to ascertain the truth. Some groups from my constituency have come home with evidence which, to be fair, has sometimes been accepted. They are convinced that the present method of questioning children and wives is a harsh way of deciding whether there is a correct relationship. Even the assertions of the Salvation Army, which investigated cases on the ground in Pakistan and so on and told the Minister that it was more than satisfied that the claims were correct, have been dismissed on the ground that the Salvation Army's investigation methods are not perhaps the most reliable in the world. The Under-Secretary of State should look closely at the possibility of more being done.
I have given some of the aims set out by the Bangladesh Divided Families Campaign and I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will note its requests.
I shall finish on a personal note. It is alleged by the members of the Bangladesh Divided Families Campaign in Oldham that, when the Minister was at a meeting in north-east Lancashire, he pledged that he would come to a public meeting to hear what the members of the campaign had to say about their own cases — not statistics, but cases involving men, women and children, some of whom have been waiting for many years. They were happy about the pledge that they alleged the Minister gave. I am not saying that he did give it—I was not present on that occasion. I understand that in a letter to the Bangladesh Divided Families Campaign the Minister said that he would not be able to attend such a public meeting. I hope that the Minister will reconsider his decision and take steps not only to meet the victims of those injustices but to accede to their proposals.
678 I shall not stop making representations until I am satisfied that my constituents, whatever their colour, are treated fairly and justly and are measured not against the record of any past Government but against the record of people being treated with compassion. They do not expect to be dealt with differently from anybody else in the community. They should not be guilty until they can prove their innocence; they should be innocent until the Government prove that they are guilty.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)
Order. I remind the House that we are already halfway through the debate. Many hon. Members with strong constituency interests are anxious to catch my eye, so I appeal for brevity.
§ Mr. Peter Thurnham (Bolton, North-East)
The debate calls attention to the importance of family life. The important issue is that family life is the reason for control of immigration. It is an important part of British life, and it is what we want to protect.
Family life can mean different things in different parts of the world. Asian families can be very extended. It is many years since I was in Mysore, but I vividly recall visiting the Maharajah's residence. I went round his garage, in which there were 100 Rolls-Royces. I asked why he should need 100 Rolls-Royces, and was told that it was because he had a very large family. I understand that every room of his palace was filled with his relatives. Therefore, perhaps the size of the family in some countries depends on the size of the house.
In my constituency in Bolton, the average size of the household of families of New Commonwealth and Pakistan origin is nearly twice the national average. There are 4.5 people per household in Bolton compared with nearly half that figure for the country as a whole. In Bolton, 6.4 per cent. of the people are of New Commonwealth and Pakistan origin, but the percentage of births to such mothers is much higher. The figure that is quoted is 18 per cent., but I am told that that is an understatement and that it could be higher. That is the twenty ninth highest proportion in England and Wales, and implies an increasing ethnic population in future. The figures are an understatement. The report from the council states:Immigrant fathers are not included in Bolton's birthrate statistics, whilst some of Bolton's immigrant population has been resident long enough for the formation of households of Asian origin whose heads were born in this country.Therefore, the figure is above rather than below 20 per cent.
The greatest effect on family life is in welfare state provision. I am concerned about trends that have been reported to me, for which I do not have the figures. They concern the adverse effects on Asian families. I am told that more and more Asian children are going into care, that there are more Asian divorces, that there is more domestic violence involving child battering among Asian families, and more claims on the Department of Health and Social Security for urgent needs, especially when the head of household goes abroad—
§ Mr. Faulds
Is it not true that under this appalling Government all the factors that the hon. Gentleman has mentioned apply to all sections of the community?
§ Mr. Thurnham
The point that I am making is that the welfare state is not helping to keep Asian families together in the way to which they have been accustomed. They have been used to looking after each other.
§ Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)
Is the hon. Gentleman seriously suggesting that a policy of discrimination should be pursued within the provision of the National Health Service and welfare benefits?
§ Mr. Thurnham
Of course not. I am saying that the same rule should apply to all. I take great exception to the idea that the head of a household in this country can visit his family abroad, leaving the rest of his family in this country dependent upon the state. There have been such cases in Bolton, when the family has been able to claim under urgent needs. Such a situation should not have arisen in the first place. I suggest that members of the Asian community should set up their own funds to provide their own money, should they need to travel abroad.
§ Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill)
If the hon. Gentleman went abroad on holiday, or to work, and a member of his family became ill, does he believe that the state should prevent that person from receiving benefit from the state or the National Health Service? If he does not believe that that should apply, why should it apply to British citizens of Asian origin?
§ Mr. Thurnham
That is not the problem. Constituents have come to see me when the head of the household has gone abroad deliberately, hoping that the welfare state will look after his family.
§ Mr. Tony Lloyd (Stretford)
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that that is a stereotype of the Asian Community? Is he differentiating Asians from the rest of the population? If the hon. Gentleman is suggesting that, he is talking nonsense.
§ Mr. Thurnham
The hon. Gentleman's question takes me back to my original point. It depends what one means by the family. Asians feel that they have a responsibility to go abroad—their families embrace more than their immediate family in this country—whereas our typical understanding of the family is of a smaller unit. I have no sympathy for people who believe that they can travel abroad—
§ Mr. Thurnham
I cannot accept any more interventions on that point.
I thank my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State for the way in which he has administered cases that I have brought to his attention. There will always be people caught in the gate when one applies these rules. My experience of the Home Office is that it has looked after such cases extremely well and attentively.
I am particularly pleased that the waiting period has come down from the 20 months that it was under the Labour Government to 10½ months on average for the four countries listed. Some constituents are greatly concerned about the length of time. One of my constituents, Mrs. Yaqub, has been kept waiting for some time. I should be pleased if the waiting time could be reduced further.
In conclusion, I should like to endorse the amendment in the name of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.
§ Mr. Tony Lloyd (Stretford)
At first sight, the hon. Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Thurnham) gave a spirited defence of the Government's operation of the present immigration laws. The studied indignation of the hon. Gentleman would be a lesson for us all, but almost every hon. Member who represents a community with people from the ethnic minorities knows that what he was saying was bogus and bore almost no relationship to the facts.
My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, Central and Royton (Mr. Lamond) was correct to say that the right for families to live together was a fundamental human right. It is a cheek for the Government amendment to refer torespect and support for family life and proper treatment of visitors to this countrywhen we consider the record. Despite the mumbo-jumbo of statistics that the Minister quoted, I believe that the immigration rules and regulations are racist and sexist, and are applied in a racist and sexist way. The Government have been so occupied with the Right wing and the racists in their own party that they have been preoccupied with the numbers game to the total exclusion of the humanity that we expect in adequate immigration rules and regulations.
The Minister talked about visitors in glowing terms, as if the regulations were a holiday brochure. The hon. and learned Gentleman pointed out that refusal of leave to enter this country being subsequently countermanded, because of the intervention of a Member of Parliament, was a great measure of humanitarian sympathy by the Government. Anyone with experience knows that is an offensive charade to the many genuine visitors to this country who are refused leave to enter on the most bogus grounds. The questions that they are asked are precisely those that the Minister has denied were asked.
For example, a constituent of mine who was sponsoring a visitor was asked how many hotels the man had at home. Because his answer differed from that given by the visitor, doubts were cast on the visitor's reliability and he was refused leave to enter. He stayed for the two months and subsequently returned to his family business, which had always been his intention. He had the so-called privilege of staying here for two months by permission of the Home Office, but that is no way to operate the system. Colossal delays take place throughout the operation of the immigration rules.
I have taken up the case of a family that has been stranded in West Germany since December. I have spoken and written to the Minister of State and have pressed the Home Office regularly. I have always been treated with courtesy by the Minister of State's office, but there is an almost stupefying immovability in the immigration service in such cases. A family with young children is stranded abroad. It is not living in the lap of luxury. Its resources are stretched and it is having to rely on charity overseas. I should be grateful for an answer on the Hassan case tonight.
We have been told that the right of male fiancés and husbands to enter this country is enshrined in the law, but the change in rule 41 means that the balance of proof falls on the applicant. That changed the situation dramatically and anyone refused entry cannot win. The former Home Secretary, now Viscount Whitelaw, said of the change: 681those who have a genuine relationship that was not contracted for immigration reasons have no cause to fear it." —[Official Report, 15 February 1983; Vol. 37, c. 187.]One of my constituents, Mrs. Kaur, married in India, but her husband has been refused entry to the United Kingdom on the ground that the primary purpose of the marriage was for immigration reasons. He cannot prove that that is not the case. It is impossible to prove it. That is the ultimate Catch 22. It is not satisfactory for Ministers to argue that the rule change applies in only a limited number of cases. The fact that it applies at all makes nonsense of the system.
We were also told by the former Home Secretary:If there is a good reason for the husband to stay, there is discretion within the rules." —[0fficial Report, 15 December 1982; Vol. 34, c. 365.]That applies in the case of the breakdown of a marriage, but we are assured that discretion is operated humanely and with compassion and kindness. However, I have taken up with the Home Office the case of a man who came here through an arranged marriage and whose wife broke up the marriage. He has been living with another woman for two years and they have a 10-month-old child. The couple are not married and perhaps fall outside the rules relating to marriage, but both partners are seeking divorces from their previous spouses and the child is an important factor in their lives. Yet the Home Office has decided that Mr. Arjan Singh must leave this country. That is not a satisfactory operation of the discretion. It is not being exercised humanely.
The Minister of State mentioned hardship. Does he think that the cases to which I have referred and those that my right hon. and hon. Friends have mentioned are acceptable? If so, his view of acceptable hardship and the view of the overwhelming majority of decent people in this country are very different.
§ Mr. John Stokes (Halesowen and Stourbridge)
When I first read the motion, I was amazed at its bare-faced effrontery. I find the words almost incredible. I know that the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) is a nice person in private life, but he has an unfortunate tendency to exaggerate grossly when he is engaged in party political controversy. I wonder how many Labour Members who heard the right hon. Gentleman and then listened to my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State, who tore the motion to shreds, will support the Opposition in the Division.
The motion is couched in extreme and vituperative language which might have been used against countries behind the iron curtain, but surely not against England. I rubbed my eyes as I read the extravagant language. I could not help thinking of the care with which our judges deal with immigration cases.
§ Mr. Stokes
No. We do not have much time and I shall be brief.
I thought of the majesty of English law, the appeal to habeas corpus, ancient rights and the decency of our police, magistrates and immigration officers. I thought of my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State and his officials who give a tremendous amount of time and 682 thought to this matter. I thought of my many colleagues who write to my hon. and learned Friend on every immigration case that comes before them — and who write much more frequently about those cases than they do about cases involving our own subjects here in England.
Reading the Opposition motion, one would think that it referred to a dreadful tyranny in the middle ages or to a modern country ruled by ayatollahs, rather than to gentle, peaceful, tolerant, law-abiding England. I cannot think of any other country into which entry is as easy as it is into this country. No other country can compare with our record of receiving immigrants in such large numbers. In less than a generation, we have received millions of people of new races and, in the main, those people have settled here without riots and disturbances.
Governments of all parties, while realising that immigration control is essential in this small island, have, nevertheless, been generous in allowing such large numbers to enter our island. We must think about numbers now, particularly when we think about the large numbers of unemployed. I am naturally thinking of my own country and the west midlands.
If we look across the Channel to France and Germany, we see that they are starting to repatriate immigrants on a large scale. That is not happening here.
§ Mr. Stokes
No. I have already said that I will not give way. This is a short debate and many hon. Members wish to speak. The hon. Gentleman has already intervened twice.
After hundreds of thousands of primary immigrants have been received here, entry is now mainly reserved for dependants. Fairly large numbers still enter each year, though the numbers are starting to fall.
The motion refers to thedevastating and oppressive effect on family life".It refers only to immigrants and includes not one word about the effect on the kindly, tolerant English people here who have received those new people, whose religion, customs, habits and manners are different from our own.
The strains and burdens of receiving those people has not fallen on bishops who write to The Times, on university professors or technical college lecturers or even on readers of The Guardian. The burden has fallen on ordinary, English working people whom Labour Members claim they represent as much as my hon. Friends and I do.
Let Labour Members go into the pubs and clubs in their constituencies and read out their motion. The reaction of ordinary English people, who are so decent, quiet and tolerant, might surprise them. England, this dear country, has from time to time done some shameful things in its history, but her treatment of immigrants is not one of them, and Labour Members should be ashamed of their motion.
We have not heard one word from the Opposition, in spite of many interruptions, of what they would do or what their policy is. They are supposed——
§ Mr. Frank Cook
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Will you tell us, for guidance, how it is possible for a Labour Member to say a word when the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes) will not give way?
§ Mr. Stokes
The Labour party's proposals for immigration are so wide and far-reaching that any form of immigration control would prove difficult, if not impossible. It says that all British citizens should have the right of entry, and that husbands and fiancés of women here could also come in, and more children and relations should be allowed the right of entry as well. These far-reaching proposals would be unacceptable to the indigenous population.
Since this motion was first tabled, I have been at a loss to understand why the Labour party wished to raise the matter. There is no demand for it in the country, it can do us no good and, rather the contrary, may revive fears about immigration. The Opposition must be hard put to it to single out this subject on which to attack the Government. It only shows how far removed they are from knowing or understanding their constituents' real feelings.
§ Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill)
I listened with care to what the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes) had to say. It seemed in general to be similar to what the Minister said. It was characteristic of both the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge and the Minister that they dealt with only one side of the argument. I am sorry that the generosity that I hoped to hear from them and other Conservative Members towards not only our indigenous population but those who have joined us here, mainly people of New Commonwealth origin, and who are making an important contribution to our community has not been heard in our debate.
The Minister said that we had to consider the effect on the Health Service of additional immigrants, and the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge talked about the effect of immigrants on unemployment. It is a great shame that we did not hear a word about the effect, for instance, on the Health Service if all the Commonwealth citizens who worked in it were to leave tomorrow. Sadly, what the Minister said simply echoed the words of the Prime Minister, who in 1978 said that she felt rather swamped by Britain's immigrant population. The real truth is that the number of people who came to this country in the first three quarters of last year was 14,800. If that figure is measured against the 100,000 people who will gather in Wembley for the Milk Cup final, it is put into perspective.
It is worth reminding the House that on Wednesday last the Church of England Synod, in what was a unanimous motion, said that it believed that the immigration rules and the British Nationality Act were contrary to Christian teaching. That view has also been put forward by the Roman Catholic bishops in England and Wales, and has been voiced by many who have spoken from the Opposition Benches.
The starting point for Liberals in a debate of this kind is that we believe in the uniqueness and importance of every individual, regardless of colour, sex, creed or age. We have a historic commitment to the dismantling of barriers, and to preserving the identities of individuals, the enhancing of their opportunities to develop culture, religion and language in the context of coexistence. The Liberal party is proud of its traditions of fighting to protect and preserve diversity because it enriches British life. We are opposed to inflicting a stereotyped conformity on our people or anglicising, beyond recognition, the many facets 684 of humanity so wonderfully expressed in the presence of Commonwealth citizens and other immigrants in the United Kingdom.
For Liberals, the starting point is a commitment to a multiracial society. Our record in opposing apartheid abroad and discrimination at home is well documented. One of the principal reasons why I joined the Liberal party in the first place was that in 1967 my right hon. Friend the Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Mr. Steel), the leader of the Liberal party, was the chief opponent of the Labour Government's Commonwealth Settlement Act 1967. Some 17 years later, my repugnance for racialism and discrimination remains, and the issues are still largely unresolved.
A constituent wrote to me recently about the 300 families at Magopa in South Africa who were being forcibly ejected and sent to Bophuthatswana, one of the 10 ethnically-based homelands. Some 3.5 million people have been resettled and 2 million more are to be removed forcibly against their will as part of the grand design of apartheid. That is an offence against humanity. Sadly, Her Majesty's Government have not been outspoken in condemning that policy. That is something that our immigrant community is looking to us to do.
I am not surprised that the Government have failed to speak out. That is consistent with the policy they have been pursuing since they were elected in 1979, a cornerstone of which was the British Nationality Act 1981. Ironically, that Act flows from a manifesto that pledged its profound concern for the family. It is now all too apparent that that concern manifests itself only so long as that family is white, in employment and lives in the blue chip suburbs of south-east England.
At the general election, the slogan had changed from concern about the family to 'Labour says he's black, the Tories say he's British." However, as Government policy has demonstrated, he can only become British if he can afford it. The fees for citizenship introduced by the Government are a disgrace. I give the House an example of a constituent who came to fight for this country during the second world war. He was a young man from Jamaica and he was prepared to pay the ultimate price in fighting for us. He was pictured in the local newspaper, the Liverpool Echo, at the time of his arrival, ready to serve as we did, with British servicemen in the fight for our freedom and liberty.
Some 40 years later, having married an English woman and had a family, he is 71 arid is told that he has to pay a fee of £70 if he wants to become a British citizen. When I wrote to him, the Minister said that it did not matter if the man did not become a British citizen becauseit will not affect his circumstancesif he chooses not to purchase citizenship. That rather depends on the value that one places on citizenship. It inevitably affects that man's circumstances, his morale and sense of security. He has a sense of fear. Like 100,000 other people, he has been stampeded by fear into believing that he has to purchase British citizenship. The Government have unscrupulously been using this fear to profit from people's insecurity. It is reminiscent of people buying themselves out of bondage.
It is not surprising that, some months ago, a Liverpool-born black said to me that five generations from the time when his forefathers had arrived in Liverpool, in the immediate aftermath of the slave trade at the time of Wilberforce, they had simply moved half a mile up the 685 road. Martin Luther King, who championed the rights of black people in the United States of America, put it well when he said that black people have beensmothered in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society.There are areas where black unemployment can be as high as 90 per cent. I can show any hon. Member who harbour doubts that there are areas in my constituency and other parts of Liverpool where that is the case. Anyone who allows it to continue is consigning people to an airtight cage of poverty from which it is desperately difficult to escape.
The treatment meted out to people arriving in the country also leaves a great deal to be desired, especially those who are here to visit relatives. Frequently, elderly people are held for long periods at air terminals and sometimes in detention centres, and increasingly they are subjected to interrogation. Yet we have the neck to call ourselves civilised, having treated people in that way.
I object similarly to the treatment meted out by the immigration authorities to individual families living here. It can only undermine good race relations. I tell the House of the case of a young Bangladeshi constituent of mine named Gias Uddin who was deported a few years ago. That young man had been here since the age of 10. He had been through primary and secondary schools here. Ultimately, the immigration authorities said that, because he could not prove that he was the son of the people with whom he had been living, he would have to return to Bangladesh. He was not able to prove who his parents were, despite an affidavit from them saying that he was their son. He did not have a piece of paper to prove who he was. Birth certificates are not to be had very easily in places such as Bangladesh. Unable to prove that they were his parents, he was finally deported, despite the representations of the Bishop and the Archbishop of Liverpool and those of many hon. Members on both sides of the House on behalf of that young man. It is treatment of that kind that undermines not only family life but good race relations and creates the kind of fear and insecurity to which I referred earlier.
I turn to the rules governing the ability of men to join their fiancées and wives. The House will recall that an amendment moved by the Liberal and Social Democratic parties led to some changes in the rules. Nevertheless, there is still a feeling on these Benches that the rules are being abused by the authorities. During our debate on that late night in December 1982 when we discussed the rules, my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins) said:There is continuing discrimination and a continuing mixture of sexual and racial discrimination. Let there be no doubt: these proposals are not putting women on an equal basis with men. Let there be no doubt that they are deeply damaging to the interests of people who are settled here." —[Official Report, 15 December 1982; Vol. 34, c. 358.]As the Minister said in reply to a recent letter of mine, the problem is that there is no absolute criterion. On 9 January, he said:Each application must be examined individually." —[Official Report, 19 January 1984; Vol. 52, c. 437.]That leads inevitably to a free rein for subjectivity by immigration officers. Many young Asian women will be 686 prevented from marrying the men whom they want to marry, and these rules have had the effect of separating young people.
Recently the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, referring to the practical effects of the rules, said:Intrusive and persistent questioning often takes place. Men are asked why they do not marry women in India. The couple's love letters may be examined. On one occasion at least they were found insufficiently affectionate.What sort of way is that to treat people? If the Minister agrees with many of us that the rules are being abused and that the spirit of what he would wish for is not being observed, why does he not draft a circular and circulate that document to all officials so that we may be clear in our own minds precisely what the Government want and what they mean?
§ Mr. Corbyn
It would be very helpful if the Government published the guidance notes that they give to immigration officers and to high commissions and embassies abroad so that we could see the tone of and the method by which the interviews are conducted.
§ Mr. Alton
I agree, and I should like to see that information placed in the Library of the House so that hon. Members could get some idea of the advice being given. If the spirit of what the Minister has been saying were observed, it might well remove many people's anxieties and fears that there is too much subjectivity based on misinformation and a lack of written guidance.
The rules have also led to the demeaning process whereby registrars of marriages now uniquely ask Asian citizens to produce passports before their weddings. That, too, is a disgraceful intrusion into people's personal lives.
I turn to another aspect which I raised recently with the Minister in a number of letters to him and in parliamentary questions. It concerns the use of section 11 of the Local Government Act 1966. Under that Act many immigrants are excluded from help if they are non-Commonwealth citizens. I cite particularly the case of the 17,000 Vietnamese boat people who arrived here five years ago. One thousand came to Merseyside, and 450 were welcomed to the city of Liverpool. We welcomed them despite all the problems mentioned earlier by the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge. We have very high unemployment there, but the boat people were welcomed with open arms because we were aware of their grave problems. Those people had been thrown on to the high seas and separated from their families and were in a great state of anguish.
Five years later, because they are non-Commonwealth citizens, along with the 2,000 Somalis and the 40,000 Liverpool-born fifth generation blacks who live in the area, finance and specialist help under the Act is not made available. Five years later many of these people are isolated, lonely, jobless, scattered about the place and in many cases suffering from hepatitis, cataract, glaucoma, worm, tuberculosis and lactose intolerance. All are prevalent in their community. They are three times more likely than members of the indigenous community to require professional social service support, because 95 per cent. of them are without jobs and most of them have learnt little English. The original policy of dispersal to certain areas has been an abysmal failure. The Government believe that out of sight is out of mind. I am certain that the Government should not only look at the 687 problem of that community, but think in terms of extending section 11 of the 1966 Act to cover this particular group of forgotten people.
The Government have succeeded in undermining the already fragile security of black people in Britain by enacting statutes that enshrine racist divisions. They have opened yawning chasms between our different communities. It is legislation which, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) has said, has been condemned by many people.Nationality is a fundamental human right. It defines who belongs to the nation and who enjoys the rights of equal citizenship. British nationality should be granted automatically to everyone born in British territory.Immigration control should be exercised on the basis of objective criteria and applied without discrimination on grounds of race, colour or religion. An independent judicial officer should be appointed with power to intervene to speed up cases and appeals. Alleged illegal immigrants should have the right of appeal. If they deny the illegality, they should not be imprisoned while their cases are being considered. They should be charged in the normal way if there is reasonable cause to suspect the commission of an offence, and appeals should be judged on the circumstances prevailing on the date of the appeal, not on the date of the original decision.
That is the kind of approach that the Government should adopt. It is not an approach that is demonstrated by the way that they have been proceeding during the past live years. That is why I and my right hon. and hon. Friends will be voting with the official Opposition.
§ Mr. Geoff Lawler (Bradford, North)
My hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State and the House will be grateful to me for not discussing my surgery immigration case load, as other hon. Members have done with theirs this evening. I agree with my hon. and learned Friend's assumption that there is clearly no support from people settled in this country, whatever their origins or colour, for further widespread immigration. Anyone living here has an equal interest in ensuring that we have enough housing, employment and other social provisions for the people who are already here. So it is to everyone's benefit that we have tight immigration rules to protect that interest.
However, any immigration policy must treat all citizens fairly, if the need for tight rules is to be respected. It is clearly right that those who are accepted for settlement here have the right to bring in wives and dependants. Equally, they should have the right to receive visitors, care for their parents and choose their marriage partners from abroad. It is reasonable that those legitimate rights, while being safeguarded, are not allowed to be exploited by those who circumvent the rules designed to achieve the overall object of limiting entry into this country.
I represent a constituency where 15 per cent. of the population is of Asian origin, and all too often I see the problems that arise when rights conflict with rules. It is important that the two are kept in balance, because neglect of one will encourage abuse of the other.
There are two ways, one of which my hon. and learned Friend mentioned earlier, in which rules are seen to interfere with rights. The first is the interpretation of the rule stating that elderly dependants must have no other close relatives in their own country to turn to before they can be admitted to join relations here, and the second 688 involves the rule requiring that married partners must have met. In several cases, the first seems to force parents or grandparents to live with a relative in the subcontinent regardless of potential family conflict that may arise or any animosity that may already exist. It is natural, particularly in the Asian culture, that people settled here should wish their elderly dependants to be here as well, and for them to be as well cared for as possible in their remaining years. If their own well-being in this country has been enhanced and their standards of living raised, it is not unreasonable for them to wish their parents to share that well-being and enhanced social status. Where the resources for that provision emanate from a relative in the United Kingdom, it is surely not unreasonable to allow them to live here, even if there is another close relative at home who may not have the same resources in terms of cash arid accommodation, and may not even have the same interest.
To implement a change in the rules to this effect is hardly likely to lead to jumbo-jetloads of elderly dependants landing at Heathrow, given an understandable hesitation to settle in a new country and different culture at so late a stage in life. I know of many people in Bradford who came here but did not stay. They could not settle and did not like the change in culture or life in this country.
The requirement that fiancés and fiancees should have met provokes irritation among the Asian community, not only because it is deemed to be a prohibitivly expensive obstacle that is unnecessary, given the other considerations governing the entry of male fiancés, but because it is directly aimed at an institution that is an inherent part of their culture.
The practice of bringing in a fiancé from the Indian subcontinent will gradually diminish in frequency as the generation of girls born here find males among their own community and consequently avoid all the difficulty and expense of finding a suitable fiancé abroad. However, given the operation of the primary purpose rule, I hope that the Government will look again at the requirement that a couple should have met, and not worry that it would lead to widespread abuse of the marriage rules. In my view, both those changes are consistent with the Conservative party's commitment to the family and to equal opportunity.
As a new generation of people of Asian origin grow up in our schools alongside their white contemporaries, they will be aware, and less tolerant, of any injustices in the system that appear directly to affect them but not the rest of the community. I trust that the Government and the Conservative party will ensure that the rules are kept constantly under review to take account of changing circumstances, changing pressures and changing perceptions.
§ 9.2 pm
§ Mr. Eric Deakins (Walthamstow)
It was a pleasure to hear the speech of the hon. Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Lawler). It was a liberal strand in our debate, although unfortunately the party that he supports, and which I am sure he will support in the Lobby tonight, does not share his views. His is the party that introduced—and still believes in—discriminatory immigration rules designed to keep out coloured people. He may say, and I would agree, that that is inevitable with a Right-wing Tory Government. My own ethnic minority voters, certainly in Walthamstow, realise that, and I benefit from their support accordingly.
689 The motion that we are debating talks about undermining family life. The rules that the House has approved in the past few years are unworthy of a society that calls itself civilised. Many of the men who are separated from their families in south Asia and other parts of the New Commonwealth are making a substantial contribution to the British economy. They are not scroungers on the welfare state, as many Conservative Members would like us to believe, to judge by some of the speeches that grab the headlines in the popular press. They are people who often do unpleasant work, work unsocial hours, work in the public sector and maintain services that would not otherwise be maintained.
The Government are being hypocritical. In the last two elections they proclaimed their commitment to family life, but these immigration rules contain no right to family reunification, except in respect of the nuclear family—that is, a spouse and children up to the age of 18. The rules impose our cultural norms on, in particular, Asians coming into Britain. It is a form of cultural imperialism. The Asian concept of the extended family is one that we used to enjoy and benefit from in Britain. For a variety of sociological and economic reasons it has now disappeared completely. One purpose of the rules is to keep out the concept of the extended family, because that would shame us into recognising that our commitment to the family is not as strong as that of the Asians.
The rules say nothing at all about the welfare of children being a paramount consideration when cases are considered. I should have thought that in a civilised society that should concern us. There are grave difficulties overseas and in Britain when Asians, in particular, have to prove relationships at ports of entry to entry clearance officers or immigration officers who are at best sceptical, often suspicious, and, occasionally, at worst paranoid in the form of questioning that they adopt. There are obviously from time to time discrepancies in the answers given by various people on various occasions. But under the stress of questioning, how many white families in similar circumstances would not be making similar mistakes to those of the Asians?
The interview for Asians families at both entry clearance posts overseas and at ports of entry in Britain is a minefield through which applicants stumble. Often they are blown up and then they are sent back or their application is refused. Consider the circumstances. At United Kingdom ports of entry immigrants arriving from south Asia have had a long journey. They are suffering from jet lag and are in a strange environment. Many of them have never travelled more than a few miles from their village before, yet they have come thousands of miles to another continent where they are immediately subjected to intensive questioning. The same sort of thing happens at overseas posts, where the interview often takes place hundreds of miles from the family home.
People are disoriented. It is no wonder that from time to time they make mistakes and give answers which confirm the suspicions of entry clearance officers. Intensive questioning proceeds almost as if the people are guilty of some sort of crime, but, unlike what happens with criminals and suspected criminals in police custody in Britain, there are no judges' rules for immigrants. At least, there are none that I know of. I should like to know if there are any.
690 In any body of people in our society, which will often have institutionalised racism, there must be some racism and racist attitudes. That goes for all Governments, not merely the present one. We have seen that in the police force. The independent Policy Studies Institute report makes it clear that there are many racist attitudes, in particular at lower levels in the police force. Therefore, is it not conceivable and highly probable that similar racist attitudes exist among immigration officials and entry clearance officers, even though they are not aware of it? I am accusing them not of deliberate racism, but of unconscious racism. That is reinforced because they are operating within the racist structure of the immigration rules. The whole purpose is to keep blacks out and to deny family reunification unless the obstacle course can be survived.
In reply to questions recently, the Minister said that there were training courses and that efforts were being made to ensure that there was no racism among immigration officials and entry clearance officers. We welcome that, but there cannot be the major improvement that is necessary while people have to operate within a structure of racist rules and institutionalised racism in Britain.
The question will not go away. Harking back to the record of previous Labour Governments will not help the Government or Asian families. Such families are looking for a humane and civilised response in this debate, and I hope that they will get it.
§ 9.9 pm
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
I have been an immigrant to the United States, and I have been occasionally embarrassed and humiliated. I had ministerial responsibility for the resettlement here of Ugandan Asians and I am chairman of the Indo-British Association.
I say straight away that the immigrants have brought a great benefit to our country. At the bottom of the Statute of Liberty in New York harbour there is a phrase written by an unknown immigrant:We came not empty-handed here, we brought a rich inheritance.I believe that that is true of this country too, and I know that my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State shares that sentiment.
I wish to make three points only. On a recent journey to India, I made some inquiries about the treatment that is given to aspiring immigrants. I am bound to say that there is discontent, as there must be. There has been an improvement in recent years. My hon. Friend the Minister of State in his speech amply documented that improvement. The system is more efficient, clearer and more humane.
My second point concerns one of my constituents. I put it in the form of a complaint, but it is not a complaint directed to my hon. and learned Friend the Minister, or, indeed, to my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, because I know of no Members who are more touched by humanity and courtesy in the manner in which they handle the many immigration inquiries directed to them. The complaint concerns a Royal Air Force squadron leader. He has served in Belize, and is now in the Falkland Islands. He is an expert engineer, knowledgeable on Jaguars and Harriers, and by any measure a great asset to the Royal Air Force. He received a renewal of his British passport in Belize when he was serving with the Harrier 691 squadron. Recently, he wanted to visit his family in Kenya. The Kenya embassy insisted that a right of abode stamp should be placed in his passport, or that a letter from the Home Office should be provided, stating that he would be allowed to re-enter the United Kingdom, before it would issue him with a visa. This is what transpired. He went to the passport office in Petty France, and informed the office that he was a squadron leader in the Royal Air Force. He showed his military identity card, RAF form 1250, and a valid NATO travel order. He was informed that, on that basis, he could enter the United Kingdom at any time, but that he would have to go to the Home Office in Croydon to have his passport stamped. He went to Croydon, and explained to the Home Office staff that he had obtained his British passport in Belize. He showed the Home Office staff in Croydon his military documents, which were photocopied. The Home Office staff agreed that he could enter the United Kingdom at any time on the strength of his military papers. I quote the squadron leader's letter:However, on further questioning and ascertaining that my parents were born in India, I was told, quite categorically, that I will have to produce proof that I have been in the United Kingdom for the past five years.The squadron leader was horrified. He said:I felt ashamed and humiliated. I requested to see someone in authority, but was told that that was not permitted. I further requested the Home Office staff to phone the Royal Air Force Personnel Management Centre to confirm that I was a commissioned officer in the RAF and that I had joined the service in 1971; this too was rejected.Suddenly, the squadron leader's military documents, and the fact that he had entered the United Kingdom on several occasions merely by producing them, were of no consequence. He therefore had to travel back to his home in Suffolk in my constituency to collect certificates of pay and tax deductions dating back to 1971, and to get hold of his university certificates to prove that, prior to 1971, he had obtained a degree at London university. He then had to travel to Norfolk to obtain a formal letter from his station commander, giving a detailed account of all the Royal Air Force stations at which he had served in the intervening years. What angered him most—my hon. and learned Friend the Minister will appreciate this—is that as a result he missed No. 3 squadron mess night at Gütersloh in Germany.
When I came into the matter I was told that the squadron leader was in the Falkland Islands. I was asked by my hon. and learned Friend the Minister's private office to obtain the squadron leader's date of birth. I cannot obtain his date of birth because he is in the Falkland Islands. I am not prepared to upset his wife again. As the Home Office interviewed the man, and photocopied all his papers, it has all that information in its possession. I do not understand how the Home Office cannot deal with the case and can say that it does not have the man's date of birth.
The Home Office has been provided with all the documents that the squadron leader obtained—his birth certificate, his tax certificates, his pay certificates, his university degree and a letter from his station commander —and yet it still asks me to provide his date of birth.
These days it must be easier to transfer information between the Home Officer and the Ministry of Defence than it is for a Back-Bench Member of Parliament to obtain information from Port Stanley. These days, when any 692 rookie reporter or young police officer can obtain the information within half an hour, I find it astonishing that the Home Office is incapable of doing so.
I mention this case for one reason only —to show that things can go wrong occasionally even in the best of bureaucracies. I know that my hon. and learned Friend the Minister will deal with this matter in his usual courteous way. I should not like my hon. and learned Friend to think for one moment that I pay the slightest attention to the absurd motion that we are debating. In his speech he pulverised the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman). I shall, with the greatest of pleasure, go into the Lobby to support my hon. and learned Friend and the Home Secretary in the excellent job that they are doing for our country.
§ Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)
I fully support the motion. I felt that when the Minister spoke, he was entirely evading the issue of the way in which families are treated and broken up because of the operation of the immigration rules, and the heartbreak and misery that that causes. I make no apology for mentioning the heartbreak and misery caused to people in my constituency and in many others.
Earlier, the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes) spoke. He probably represents the more honest and truer face of the Tory party when he spoke the usual racist pap about immigration causing problems and pretending that the unemployment figures in the west midlands were caused by immigration. He was in effect saying that the cultural changes that have taken place because of immigration are unacceptable. I find his remarks offensive and unacceptable, as do people in many parts of the country, who live happily in a multicultural, multiracial environment and who are not prepared to put up with that kind of bigotry.
When Conservative Members say that the immigration rules are for the benefit of the ethnic minority communities, I fail to see how they can justify that or to whom they have been speaking to get those views. If they spent a little time talking to some of the families that are broken up and deliberately divided by the operation of the immigration rules, they might have a different attitude.
I feel that these problems caused by the operation of the immigration rules are serious. First, I feel—I hope the Minister will answer this point—that it is important that the guidance notes issued to embassies, high commissions, immigration officers and entry clearance officers should be published and made available so that we can know the circumstances under which such interviews take place. There should be a verbatim report of the interviews, which should be made available to Members of Parliament if they wish to see it, so that we can see the circumstances under which those interviews take place in different parts of the world.
The Minister endlessly quoted statistics on the length of the waiting lists now, in 1978, in 1977 and other dates. That shows that the waiting lists have been far too long at all times. They are completely unacceptable. The Minister should be saying what he is doing to remove the waiting lists for interviews.
I know of families who are divided because they must wait up to two or three years for interviews, and I am far from happy about the circumstances under which the interviews take place. People must make lengthy journeys 693 to visit the high commission or the embassy for their interview and peculiar requests are made for documentary proof of their birth and marriage, when in some places no such records exist.
The attitude of immigration officers at the airport is neither straightforward nor even handed. If hon. Members were to go to Heathrow and observe the treatment that black families from Africa, people from Asia, Bangladesh or the West Indies receive and compare it with the treatment given to South Africans, Australians or New Zealanders, they would not tell me that there was no racism there. If anyone tells me that, clearly he has never been to Heathrow and examined the procedures that lead to institutional racism.
The approach at the interview is wrong because the onus of proof is on the interviewee to show that he is a bona fide visitor. He is treated virtually as a guilty subject until he can prove his innocence. It should be the other way round. The Home Office would do everyone a favour if it published the number of people who, having been refused entry, are deported from Heathrow and other airports, and the number who are fortunate enough to contact a Member of Parliament or somebody who can do that for them and gain entry.
The Home Office fails completely to understand the political circumstances that face many people who come to Britain. I have received a number of contradictory letters from the Home Office, on the one hand saying that the position in Sri Lanka is normal, and on the other hand saying that there are problems for some of the community in Sri Lanka if they are deported back to that country. Hon. Members deserve an explanation from the Minister about the position in Sri Laka and other politically divided and troubled parts of the world. He must give the House a statement of the Government's attitude to applications from residents of such countries for political refugee status.
Although the debate is brief, it is extremely serious because it affects fundamentally the human rights of many people in Britain. These regulations cause misery and heartbreak, yet the Minister's only answer is to trade around with half-baked statistics. He must answer our criticism that his rules divide and break families, and insist that children, who have never seen a country, are deported to it without so much as by or have your leave.
§ Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)
If there are doubts about the injustice and unfairness of the immigration laws, rules and administrative procedures, they are discounted by examining a simple set of statistics for passengers refused entry, by nationality, in 1982. That is the last year for which such figures are available. From the old Commonwealth, it was one in 5,344, from the United States of America it was one in 3,654 and from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan it was one in 159.
The Minister accused the Labour party and my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) of stirring. The debate, initiated by the Labour party, reflects the deep anxiety that exists among ethnic minorities about the matter. In July 1983, when the Home Secretary visited Bradford, the Bradford Council for Mosques presented him with a memorandum which said: 694The relatives of the ethnic minorities are treated unfairly when they make applications for the Visa/Entry Certificate and very many visitors receive a hostile reception when they arrive in Britain, with unnecessary and awkward questions and unreasonable delays".When the Minister visited Bradford a fortnight ago and held a stormy meeting, those complaints and many others were made to him very forcefully by Bradford's Asian community.
The truth is that the ethnic minorities in Britain very much resent the way in which the laws, rules and administrative procedures are operated against them. The reality is that black and Asian people are fundamentally unwelcome in this country. The laws, rules and procedures are designed to exclude as many of them as possible. Numerous references have been made today to the primary purpose test. That very objectionable test was clearly changed recently to meet the demands of the Conservative party's Right wing.
By the third quarter of 1983, 17 per cent. of husbands and 49 per cent. of fiancés from the Indian subcontinent were being refused on that ground. That ground also accounted for 50 per cent. of husband refusals and 83 per cent. of fiancé refusals. However, in 1982, only 12 per cent. of applications were refused because of primary purpose, and only 18 per cent. of all refusals were made on that ground. That makes the case for the reason why the test was changed and the harsh way in which it has been administered.
We have also heard many complaints about the situation in Bangladesh. In an intervention, I mentioned the independent studies that had been made in the past of the refusals given in Bangladesh. In 1977, the Runnymede Trust found that, of 58 different applications that had been refused, 55 were genuine. A study carried out by the United Kingdom immigrants advisory service in 1981 showed that, of 35 families who had been refused permission to join their husbands and fathers in the United Kingdom, 34 contained genuine applicants. I also welcome the study that the Bradford law centre is to make into the situation in Bangladesh, which continues to deteriorate.
I turn briefly to the conduct and content of the interviews for entry clearance. Much concern has been expressed tonight about the way in which such interviews are conducted. I urge the Minister to reconsider the provision of tape recordings and transcripts from such interviews, so that we can all see how they are conducted. I also urge him to ensure that the highly subjective views and conclusions of entry clearance officers can be examined against the transcript, and to dispense with refusals that are based on a recourse to public funds. It is outrageous that people who have the misfortune to be unemployed or inadequately housed in Britain should be prevented from marrying or having their would-be spouses here.
Objections have been raised to nationality fees. An overwhelming case can be made for the fees to be reduced, for them to be paid only when the application is considered — not when it is submitted — for the delays to be reduced and for the police to be removed from such inquiries.
This debate is important and reflects the considerable concern of the black and Asian communities in Britain about the way in which they are being treated. If the way in which they are treated over immigration is coupled with 695 the way in which they are discriminated against in housing, jobs and education, the extent to which they are harassed by the police, and the difficulties that they have in DHSS offices and the NHS, it amounts to gross discrimination against black and Asian people in this country and their relatives from overseas. We wish to see the Government return to the commitment that they made in the 1979 general election to support and hold a firm belief in the family. Their immigration policies contradict the commitments that they then gave to the electorate.
I hope that the Government will ensure that the laws, rules, and administrative procedures are observed with humanity and conducted with great discretion.
§ Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Health)
We have had a short but extremely important debate. It is not about a taradiddle of statistics such as the Minister gave us, but about real people suffering from humiliation overseas and at ports of entry here.
The Minister dismissed the personal cases which my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) cited. That was typical of the approach that we are condemning. Each case is a personal tragedy for some family. That is the only way to deal with the matter. If any Government of which I was a member were to blame I must accept respnsibility. Today we are concerned with the operation of the rules today. Ministers responsible for the rules probably have the most difficult job in Government, and entry clearance officers also have a difficult job, but that does not excuse them for allowing inhuman, indecent treatment to be meted out.
When telling us of the number of cases involved, the Minister failed to interpret the figures. Applications from Asians have halved since 1978. The number of officials dealing with the applications has increased by 25, yet the waiting list is the same. The facts are against the Minister's statistical case, but I do not want to become involved in the statistical game.
Last week the Church of England Synod decided by 260 votes to nil:That this Synod, believing the 1981 British Nationality Act involves the treatment of individuals and families in a manner not in keeping with Christian teaching, requests the Standing Committee in conjuction with the Board of Social Responsibility to make representations to Her Majesty's Government for the reform of this Act and the relating Immigration Rules.The operation of the Act abroad and at Heathrow cannot be justified by the moral or ethical principles of any religion embraced by any Member of the House, or by anyone else. The operation of the Act totally contradicts Christian teaching on the sanctity of family life. It contradicts Jewish ethics and is certainly offensive to the Moslem religion.
It is no wonder that the Bishop of Birmingham, when proposing that motion, said that his objection was that our immigration rules and practices wereracist in intention, often unfair in execution and divisive of families.That is true.
Today we witnessed the spectacle of a Minister telling the Church that it should take a holiday from politics during Lent. We want Ministers to implement Christian principles in the application of immigration rules. One cannot profess a faith, whatever it is, and divorce it from one's actions and the effect that they have on family life.
696 When the Prime Minister went to Hungary she rightly complained loudly about the treatment of a Scottish person who is not allowed out of that country. Does the Prime Minister know that such treatment is being meted out every day of the week at entry clearance ports here, and overseas? How can the Prime Minister make such complaints when every day such offensive treatment is being meted out to fiancés and elderly relatives in Britain and elsewhere in a manner that she so rightly condemns behind the iron curtain? We are offering Her Majesty's subjects these continuing humiliations, and I hope that the whole House will condemn that.
There is discrimination in the way in which visitors are treated when they arrive here. A recently published Church of England document about the case of Lucille Andrews, a British-born Jamaican married to James Brown, a pastor in the Pentecostal church, shows that he was refused permission even to come and visit his wife or her family here because the entry clearance officer, having read Mr. Brown's letters to his wife, decided that they were not sufficiently affectionate.
There are no circumstances in which the Minister would allow his letters to his wife, intimate love letters, to be read by an official. That being so, he has no right to allow anybody else's letters to be read in such circumstances. If the Minister wishes to defend such a disgraceful state of affairs, let him get up and do so. That was not an exceptional case. I could cite others. It is happening every day in Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and the West Indies. I regard that behaviour as obscene. It should not be tolerated for five minutes by any British Home Office Minister, yet such incidents are happening all the time.
White visitors to Britain receive absolutely different treatment from coloured visitors. I have written to the Home Office about what happened to my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) who, 'when returning from Israel in December, was held up for 10 to 15 minutes in a queue of British citizens. When he arrived at the front of the queue he discovered that he had been held up because two of the British citizens happened to be coloured. They were cross-examined and nothing was found to be wrong. After they had gone through, everybody behind them in the queue went through without one question being asked, simply because all the rest were white. Such a thing is a scandal.
Coming nearer home, as you will be aware, Mr. Speaker, last week I celebrated a wedding in this place, and you were kind enough to attend. Three of my visitors came from Lusaka, New Orleans and Boston. They were allowed in without one question being asked, and that was right. When I arrived home, the details of two urgent cases awaited me. They concerned visitors to families in my constituency who had been refused entry. Another case was presented to me at 1 o'clock one morning; I was telephoned because somebody was to be returned unless a Member of Parliament could be obtained, even in the middle of the night. Those people were in difficulty because they were coloured, and for no other reason.
That state of affairs is indefensible. I blame not the immigration officers, but Home Office Ministers. They should have made it crystal clear to the immigration officers that the rules of this House, as we pass them, say that there shall be no discrimination of any sort between people of one ethnic origin and another. Yet from experience I can prove that discrimination is occurring all the time.
697 No American visitors to this country are asked the sort of questions that coloured people are asked, such as, "Who paid for your ticket?" "Do you know the details of the family you are visiting?" "What does you father do for a living?" and "How much does he earn?" How many American visitors are asked offensive questions such as that? The Home Office knows that the answer is none. If American visitors were asked such questions there would be uproar throughout the land, and rightly so. Those of us who believe that we have some religious basis to our being, to our political being, have every right to complain bitterly about what is happening.
§ Mr. Christopher Hawkins (High Peak)
I accept that morally we should probably all endorse the view that everyone should be treated equally. I suggest, however, that the right hon. Gentleman addresses himself to the practical problems that would arise if we allowed people to come to Britain from all over the world and treated them equally, as though they were British. The problem of congestion in this overcrowded island would make life impossible. America, Australia and many other countries do not allow completely free, morally equal entry.
§ Mr. Howell
I can speak only for myself; I would not dream of speaking for anyone else. As a constituency Member living in Birmingham and associating closely with those of all ethnic origins, I try to treat everyone equally. I think that we have all tried to do that. I do not agree that there is a case for discrimination.
Two years ago I went to Pakistan with more than 20 cases in my file, some of which I had been dealing with for four to five years. I travelled from Islamabad to Morappur. Some of those whom I wanted to meet had been sent back to Morappur. I was able to clear up 75 per cent. of the problems in the cases that had been held up for four to five years. Surely something must be terribly wrong when a Member has to travel to Morappur to make progress with these applications.
In one instance a lady had been refused entry into Britain to join her husband because she had told the immigration officer that it took four hours to walk from her village to the post office to collect his letters. The immigration authorities would not believe her and they would not go to the village. My companions and I went to the village and when I spoke to the head people of Morappur they said, "Come outside and we shall show you." We were taken up a hill and we looked across the valley. The lady used to walk only a short distance to the post office, but after the building of the Bangla dam and the filling of the lake she had had to walk for four hours around the lake to collect her husband's letters. She had spoken the gospel truth. Why was it necessary for a British Member of Parliament to go there to ascertain the truth? Why was it not possible for the issue to be dealt with by those on the spot? They knew perfectly well that the case was genuine.
§ Mr. Howell
No, I shall not give way.
Secondly, the application of one of my constituents, a Mr. Ralph, for his twins to come to Britain was refused on the ground that they were not identical. Blood tests and other tests were carried out. I saw the twins when I went 698 to Pakistan and I saw the people from their village. The case continued for almost another two years after my return until I discovered that the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs was to go to Islamabad. When he was there—I am grateful to him for this—
§ Mr. Howell
I thought that the hon. Gentleman went there. It must have been another Foreign Office Minister. During the Minister's brief visit, I arranged for the head people of the village, the schoolteachers who educated the children and even the midwife who delivered the children into the world to present themselves. The teachers brought along the children's school records. This assembly took place in the Minister's presence. He left and went on to Bangladesh and thereafter he was amazed to learn that the twins had not been granted an entry clearance certificate. It took almost another year for the certificate to be granted. At the end of the day the officials even tried to say that mysteriously a file had turned up on the father, a constituent of mine, and that he had been found to be an illegal immigrant.
§ Mr. Howell
That was proved not to be the case. I give those two examples from my experience. They are both accurate. I shall allow the Minister to intervene if he wishes to do so.
§ Mr. Whitney
The veracity of the right hon. Gentleman's identification that I made those village visits is almost on the level of most of his other statements. He knows very well——
§ Mr. Whitney
The right hon. Gentleman did. The House is aware that I was invited to suggest that I was making a village visit. The right hon. Gentleman will know also that the entry clearance officers and immigration staff regularly visit the villages. Frequently, we must point out the errors in the right hon. Gentleman's letters to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
§ Mr. Howell
I invite the Under-Secretary of State to give evidence of any errors I have made. I did not say he was going on a village visit. Obviously, his mind is closed. I said that during his visit to the embassy at Islamabad, I arranged for those families——
§ Mr. Howell
Just a minute. During his visit to the embassy at Islamabad, I arranged for those families to see him. I am glad that he and his officials saw them. I can produce the letters in which the Under-Secretary of State said he saw those people, and then went on to Bangladesh.
§ Mr. Whitney
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving me another opportunity to clarify the position. I make it clear to him that I have never visited Islamabad in my capacity as the Minister. He has got that and many other matters wrong.
§ Mr. Howell
I am absolutely confounded. Since I went to see him about the case— [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman's words will be carefully examined against the letters he wrote to me about the case I have been pressing. Does he allege that I have not been corresponding with him about that case? The hon. Gentleman is rightly not saying anything.
In referring to appeals procedures, I take up the points of some of my hon. Friends who correctly say that our present system of control is unsatisfactory. The Home Secretary and the Minister of State, Home Office—two Ministers with knowledge of legal matters—know that the use of immigration tribunals or any other tribunal in this case would be unacceptable to any court of law. The people who prepare the statements are unavailable for examination or cross-examination, and we do not have full accounts of the interviews. I urge Ministers to look carefully into that system. Some of my hon. Friends have rightly said that tape recordings would go a long way towards removing many difficulties and misunderstandings and would enable us to reach a proper judgment. As the Home Office is now providing tape recorded evidence of interviews in this country—in cases in which people are suspected—it is reasonable to ask the Minister of State, Home Office to extend that practice.
Adjudicators ought not to be appointed and paid by the Home Office, as at present, but should be under the jurisdiction of the Lord Chancellor's Department. Birmingham lawyers feel strongly about the relationship between the adjudicators and the Home Office representatives. I am told that on one occasion an adjudicator was found to be playing backgammon with Home Office representatives. I do not wish to cast doubt automatically, but such practices should not operate in our immigration tribunals.
I shall write to the Home Secretary about that matter. When I was preparing for the debate, the information was given to me by respected solicitors in Birmingham that in the interval between cases adjudicators who should not be doing so were associated much too closely in the building with Home Office officials who permanently represented the Home Office's point of view. That is why I am sure that the Home Secretary and the Minister will agree that it is important that any tribunal should be seen to be fair, and the practice under which it operates should be fair.
We tabled the motion because the Government's immigration policy is causing great harm to their community relations policy. People who sit on police liaison committees, particularly Asians who are doing their best to promote harmony and to behave helpfully and constructively, are becoming more distressed by the cases that come up and the difficulties that are created for members of their community.
Why cannot we accept a system of guarantees? I have used guarantees in the years that I have represented Birmingham. I should like to make a non-controversial, helpful and constructive point. I understand the difficulties. All of us are trying to find a way out. If we could accept guarantees, especially for visitors, from members of the community who are not likely to go away, that would go a long way towards removing many of the problems.
However, we must press the motion to a vote because there can be no doubt that the operation of the existing 700 rules is increasingly causing offence to British citizens. All our citizens are entitled to be treated equally before the law in accordance with the moral precepts of this country.
§ Mr. Waddington
This has been an important debate, in which useful points have been made. I shall try to deal as quickly as possible with some of them.
The hon. Member for Oldham, Central and Royton (Mr. Lamond) complained that some of his constituents were having to wait for five to 10 years to be reunited with their families. I emphasise that those are cases in which the claimed relationship has not been accepted. When those people's cases have been rejected by entry clearance officers, they have then availed themselves of their right of appeal, and the cases have been turned down on appeal.
The hon. Gentleman will know the difficulty with which we are now faced. For instance, in Bangladesh half the people in the non-priority queue are reapplicants. A high proportion of those reapplicants are those who admit that they made false statements in support of their original applications. The entry clearance officers find it difficult to assess whether those people are now telling the truth when they admit that previously they told lies.
As I mentioned, we have an appeals system. We live in an imperfect world, but can one devise a better system in an imperfect world than an initial decision by an entry clearance officer followed by the right of appeal to an impartial adjudicator? The hon. Gentleman referred to what he described as trivial discrepancies relied upon by entry clearance officers. The flavour of the interviews can best be obtained by reading some of the determinations of adjudicators. One does not often find trivial discrepancies relied upon any more than one finds such trivial discrepancies described in the letters that I often write to hon. Members setting out the reasons for decisions.
In reply to an intervention, the hon. Gentleman said that he would like there to be more field trips. I have been on some of them, and I acknowledge that they can be useful. They are also enormously time-consuming, because often they prove abortive. However, we have taken the point on board.
The hon. Gentleman mentioned an invitation to Oldham. I have not declined the invitation. I have invited the group in question to come to see me. However. I shall certainly look at the correspondence again. I spend much of my time addressing such groups in various parts of the country.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Thurnham) said that he was glad that the waiting time for families had been reduced. We must all welcome that. It is partly due to the fact that we have recently increased our staff at the high commission in Dhaka.
The hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Lloyd) said that it was wrong to place the burden on the husband or fiancé who was applying for entry clearance. I cannot agree. The husband or fiancé is claiming the valuable right to come here, and it is surely reasonable to expect him to establish that right.
The hon. Gentleman mentioned a constituent whose marriage had broken down and who was having to leave this country. I remind the hon. Gentleman that when the Labour Government introduced the first safeguards in 1977, they brought in the rule that, if a marriage broke down during the first year, the man would lose his right 701 to remain. Therefore, the hon. Gentleman's constituent is caught by a rule introduced not by this Government, but by the Labour Government.
My hon. Friend the Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes) mentioned the extensive rights in the hands of people who wanted to come or stay here. He is right, particularly if he is referring to the appeals system.
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) said that the number of people who came here last year was insignificant — 14,000 from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan. The hon. Gentleman was wrong. Last year, 27,600 were accepted for settlement here from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan.
§ Mr. Waddington
I do not have time to give way. We will check it afterwards.
We accepted for settlement last year 53,500 people from all over the world. Of those, 52 per cent. were from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan. One may think that that figure is too large or not large enough, but it is certainly not insignificant.
The hon. Member for Mossley Hill spoke of the contribution made by ethnic minorities to our society. He was right to do so, and I agree with what he said. I delight at the fact that ever more members of those minorities are becoming enmeshed in the fabric of our society and are playing a larger role.
I was addressing myself to the motion, which is more than the hon. Gentleman was when he mentioned nationality fees. I cannot deal with that subject tonight. He said that people were increasingly held in detention at our airports. That is not correct. The reverse is the case. Many more are granted temporary permission to enter the country than was the case before 1979.
I know the concern of my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Lawler) for the ethnic minorities in his constituency, but we have to ask how many more people would come here if we drastically reduced the rules on husbands and grandparents.
The hon. Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Deakins) talked about granting the right of entry to the larger family, and he claimed that we were being stingy in granting it only to the nuclear family. I cannot accept that. It would be unreasonable to expect us, when we are accepting comparatively large numbers for settlement, to allow members of a much enlarged family unit also to come here.
The hon. Member for Walthamstow made an important point when he said that people arriving at London airport are often tired after a long overnight journey. I think that that is why we often hear stories of unfair questions being asked of immigrants. When a person arrives after that sort of journey he is not very tolerant about being questioned at all.
I will look in to the case of the squadron leader that was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths), although I gather that all is now well. The squadron leader was applying for the right to have the entitlement to abode stamp on his passport. We must try to check his files at Lunar house.
The hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) said that I should explain what we are doing about the 702 queues. We are doing something about them. That is why we have increased the staff in Bangladesh. The hon. Gentleman said that he knew of families who had been waiting for two to three years to have interviews. That is simply not correct. Even in Bangladesh the waiting time for interviews is 20 months.
The hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) said that there were fewer refusals to applications from the Old Commonwealth. There are, because the immigration pressures are coming from the New Commonwealth. We all know that, and that is why the refusal rate is larger there.
I apologise to my hon. Friends for not being able to reply to all their points.
§ Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:
§ The House divided: Ayes 177, Noes 274.705
|Division No. 181]||[10 pm|
|Adams, Allen (Paisley N)||Dewar, Donald|
|Alton, David||Dixon, Donald|
|Anderson, Donald||Dobson, Frank|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Dormand, Jack|
|Ashley, Rt Hon Jack||Dubs, Alfred|
|Ashton, Joe||Duffy, A. E. P.|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Eastham, Ken|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpfn SE)|
|Barnett, Guy||Ellis, Raymond|
|Barron, Kevin||Evans, John (St. Helens N)|
|Beckett, Mrs Margaret||Fatchett, Derek|
|Beith, A. J.||Faulds, Andrew|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Field, Frank (Birkenhead)|
|Blair, Anthony||Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)|
|Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Fisher, Mark|
|Boyes, Roland||Flannery, Martin|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Foot, Rt Hon Michael|
|Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)||Foulkes, George|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Fraser, J. (Norwood)|
|Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)||Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald|
|Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)||Garrett, W. E.|
|Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)||George, Bruce|
|Buchan, Norman||Godman, Dr Norman|
|Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)||Golding, John|
|Campbell, Ian||Gould, Bryan|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Gourlay, Harry|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)|
|Cartwright, John||Hardy, Peter|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||Harman, Ms Harriet|
|Clarke, Thomas||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter|
|Clay, Robert||Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy|
|Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)||Haynes, Frank|
|Cohen, Harry||Healey, Rt Hon Denis|
|Coleman, Donald||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.||Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton North)||Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)|
|Corbett, Robin||Home Robertson, John|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)|
|Cowans, Harry||Howells, Geraint|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)|
|Craigen, J. M.||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Crowther, Stan||Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Hughes, Simon (Southward)|
|Cunningham, Dr John||John, Brynmor|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)||Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)|
|Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)||Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)||Kilroy-Silk, Robert|
|Deakins, Eric||Kirkwood, Archibald|
|Lambie, David||McCartney, Hugh|
|Lamond, James||McDonald, Dr Oonagh|
|Leadbitter, Ted||McGuire, Michael|
|Leighton, Ronald||McKay, Allen (Penistone)|
|Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)||McKelvey, William|
|Lofthouse, Geoffrey||Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor|
|McNamara, Kevin||Rooker, J. W.|
|McTaggart, Robert||Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)|
|Madden, Max||Rowlands, Ted|
|Marek, Dr John||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Marshall, David (Shettleston)||Sheerman, Barry|
|Mason, Rt Hon Roy||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Maxton, John||Silkin, Rt Hon J.|
|Maynard, Miss Joan||Skinner, Dennis|
|Meacher, Michael||Smith, C.(lsl'ton S & F'bury)|
|Mikardo, Ian||Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)|
|Millan, Rt Hon Bruce||Soley, Clive|
|Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)||Spearing, Nigel|
|Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)||Stott, Roger|
|Nellist, David||Strang, Gavin|
|Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon||Straw, Jack|
|O'Brien, William||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Orme, Rt Hon Stanley||Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)|
|Owen, Rt Hon Dr David||Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)|
|Patchett, Terry||Thorne, Stan (Preston)|
|Pavitt, Laurie||Tinn, James|
|Pendry, Tom||Torney, Tom|
|Penhaligon, David||Wallace, James|
|Pike, Peter||Warden, Gareth (Gower)|
|Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)||Wareing, Robert|
|Prescott, John||Weetch, Ken|
|Radice, Giles||Welsh, Michael|
|Randall, Stuart||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Redmond, M.||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|Rees, Rt Hon M. ("Leeds S)||Wilson, Gordon|
|Richardson, Ms Jo||Winnick, David|
|Roberts, Allan (Bootle)|
|Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Robertson, George||Mr. James Hamilton and|
|Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)||Mr. John McWilliam.|
|Adley, Robert||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Forman, Nigel|
|Alexander, Richard||Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Forth, Eric|
|Ancram, Michael||Fowler, Rt Hon Norman|
|Ashby, David||Fox, Marcus|
|Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)||Fraser, Peter (Angus East)|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Freeman, Roger|
|Bellingham, Henry||Fry, Peter|
|Berry, Sir Anthony||Gale, Roger|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Galley, Roy|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Glyn, Dr Alan|
|Bottom ley, Peter||Goodlad, Alastair|
|Brittan, Rt Hon Leon||Gorst, John|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Gow, Ian|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)||Gower, Sir Raymond|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Grant, Sir Anthony|
|Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.||Greenway, Harry|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Gregory, Conal|
|Budgen, Nick||Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)|
|Burt, Alistair||Grist, Ian|
|Butcher, John||Ground, Patrick|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Grylls, Michael|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)|
|Clegg, Sir Walter||Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)|
|Cockeram, Eric||Hampson, Dr Keith|
|Colvin, Michael||Hanley, Jeremy|
|Conway, Derek||Hannam, John|
|Coombs, Simon||Harris, David|
|Cope, John||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Corrie, John||Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hawkins, C. (High Peak)|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.||Hawksley, Warren|
|Dover, Denshore||Hayes, J.|
|du Cann, Rt Hon Edward||Hayhoe, Barney|
|Evennett, David||Hayward, Robert|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||Heathcoat-Amory, David|
|Fenner, Mrs Peggy||Heddle, John|
|Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey||Henderson, Barry|
|Fletcher, Alexander||Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael|
|Hickmet, Richard||Neale, Gerrard|
|Hicks, Robert||Needham, Richard|
|Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.||Nelson, Anthony|
|Hill, James||Neubert, Michael|
|Hind, Kenneth||Newton, Tony|
|Hirst, Michael||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)||Normanton, Tom|
|Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)||Norris, Steven|
|Holt, Richard||Oppenheim, Philip|
|Hooson, Tom||Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.|
|Hordern, Peter||Osborn, Sir John|
|Howard, Michael||Ottaway, Richard|
|Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)||Page, Richard (Herts SW)|
|Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)||Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil|
|Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Parris, Matthew|
|Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)||Patten, John (Oxford)|
|Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)||Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth|
|Hubbard-Miles, Peter||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)||Pollock, Alexander|
|Hunter, Andrew||Porter, Barry|
|Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas||Powell, William (Corby)|
|Irving, Charles||Powley, John|
|Jackson, Robert||Prentice, Rt Hon Reg|
|Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick||Proctor, K. Harvey|
|Jessel, Toby||Raffan, Keith|
|Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)||Rathbone, Tim|
|Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine||Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)|
|Kershaw, Sir Anthony||Renton, Tim|
|Key, Robert||Rhodes James, Robert|
|King, Rt Hon Tom||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Knight, Gregory (Derby N)||Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas|
|Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston)||Ridsdale, Sir Julian|
|Knowles, Michael||Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey|
|Knox, David||Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)|
|Lamont, Norman||Robinson, Mark (N'port W)|
|Lang, Ian||Roe, Mrs Marion|
|Latham, Michael||Rossi, Sir Hugh|
|Lawler, Geoffrey||Rost, Peter|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Rowe, Andrew|
|Lee, John (Pendle)||Ryder, Richard|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Sackville, Hon Thomas|
|Lester, Jim||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Lilley, Peter||Scott, Nicholas|
|Lloyd, Ian (Havant)||Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')|
|Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Luce, Richard||Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)|
|Lyell, Nicholas||Shersby, Michael|
|McCrindle, Robert||Silvester, Fred|
|McCurley, Mrs Anna||Sims, Roger|
|Macfarlane, Neil||Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)|
|MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)||Soames, Hon Nicholas|
|Maclean, David John.||Speller, Tony|
|McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)||Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)|
|Madel, David||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Major, John||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Malins, Humfrey||Steen, Anthony|
|Malone, Gerald||Stern, Michael|
|Maples, John||Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)|
|Marland, Paul||Stevens, Martin (Fulham)|
|Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Mates, Michael||Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)|
|Mather, Carol||Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)|
|Maude, Hon Francis||Stokes, John|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Mayhew, Sir Patrick||Sumberg, David|
|Mellor, David||Tapsell, Peter|
|Merchant, Piers||Taylor, Rt Hon John David|
|Mills, lain (Meriden)||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)||Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Terlezki, Stefan|
|Mitchell, David (NW Hants)||Thomas, Rt Hon Peter|
|Moate, Roger||Thompson, Donald (Calder V)|
|Monro, Sir Hector||Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|Montgomery, Fergus||Thorne, Neil (llford S)|
|Moore, John||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)||Thurnham, Peter|
|Moynihan, Hon C.||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Murphy, Christopher||Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)|
|Tracey, Richard||Watts, John|
|Trippier, David||Wells, Bowen (Hertford)|
|Trotter, Neville||Wheeler, John|
|Twinn, Dr Ian||Whitfield, John|
|van Straubenzee, Sir W.||Whitney, Raymond|
|Vaughan, Sir Gerard||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Viggers, Peter||Wilkinson, John|
|Waddington, David||Wolfson, Mark|
|Wakeham, Rt Hon John||Woodcock, Michael|
|Waldegrave, Hon William||Yeo, Tim|
|Walden, George||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Walker, Bill (Tside N)||Younger, Rt Hon George|
|Wall, Sir Patrick|
|Ward, John||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Wardle, C. (Bexhill)||Mr. David Hunt &|
|Warren, Kenneth||Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 33 (Questions on amendments):—
§ The House divided: Ayes 265, Noes 176.708
|Division No. 182]||[10.14 pm|
|Adley, Robert||Glyn, Dr Alan|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Goodlad, Alastair|
|Alexander, Richard||Gorst, John|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Gow, Ian|
|Ancram, Michael||Gower, Sir Raymond|
|Ashby, David||Grant, Sir Anthony|
|Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)||Greenway, Harry|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Gregory, Conal|
|Bellingham, Henry||Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)|
|Berry, Sir Anthony||Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Grist, Ian|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Ground, Patrick|
|Bottomley, Peter||Grylls, Michael|
|Brittan, Rt Hon Leon||Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)||Hampson, Dr Keith|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Hanley, Jeremy|
|Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.||Hannam,John|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Harris, David|
|Budgen, Nick||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael|
|Burt, Alistair||Hawkins, C. (High Peak)|
|Butcher, John||Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Hawksley, Warren|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hayes, J.|
|Clegg, Sir Walter||Hayhoe, Barney|
|Cockeram, Eric||Hayward, Robert|
|Colvin, Michael||Heathcoat-Amory, David|
|Conway, Derek||Heddle, John|
|Coombs, Simon||Henderson, Barry|
|Cope, John||Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael|
|Corrie, John||Hickmet, Richard|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hicks, Robert|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.||Hill, James|
|Dover, Denshore||Hind, Kenneth|
|du Cann, Rt Hon Edward||Hirst, Michael|
|Evennett, David||Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)|
|Fenner, Mrs Peggy||Holt, Richard|
|Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey||Hooson, Tom|
|Fletcher, Alexander||Hordern, Peter|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Howard, Michael|
|Forman, Nigel||Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)|
|Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)||Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)|
|Forth, Eric||Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey|
|Fox, Marcus||Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)|
|Fraser, Peter (Angus East)||Hubbard-Miles, Peter|
|Freeman, Roger||Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)|
|Fry, Peter||Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas|
|Gale, Roger||Irving, Charles|
|Galley, Roy||Jackson, Robert|
|Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick||Raffan, Keith|
|Jessel, Toby||Rathbone, Tim|
|Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine||Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)|
|Kershaw, Sir Anthony||Renton, Tim|
|Key, Robert||Rhodes James, Robert|
|King, Rt Hon Tom||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Knight, Gregory (Derby N)||Ridsdale, Sir Julian|
|Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston)||Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey|
|Knowles, Michael||Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)|
|Knox, David||Robinson, Mark (N'port W)|
|Lamont, Norman||Roe, Mrs Marion|
|Lang, Ian||Rossi, Sir Hugh|
|Latham, Michael||Rost, Peter|
|Lawler, Geoffrey||Rowe, Andrew|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Ryder, Richard|
|Lee, John (Pendle)||Sackville, Hon Thomas|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Lester, Jim||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)||Scott, Nicholas|
|Lilley, Peter||Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')|
|Lloyd, Ian (Havant)||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)||Shersby, Michael|
|Luce, Richard||Silvester, Fred|
|Lyell, Nicholas||Sims, Roger|
|McCrindle, Robert||Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)|
|McCurley, Mrs Anna||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Macfarlane, Neil||Soames, Hon Nicholas|
|MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)||Speller, Tony|
|MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)||Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)|
|Maclean, David John.||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Madel, David||Steen, Anthony|
|Major, John||Stern, Michael|
|Malins, Humfrey||Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)|
|Malone, Gerald||Stevens, Martin (Fulham)|
|Maples, John||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Marland, Paul||Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)|
|Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Stokes, John|
|Mather, Carol||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Maude, Hon Francis||Sumberg, David|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Tapsell, Peter|
|Mayhew, Sir Patrick||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Mellor, David||Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman|
|Merchant, Piers||Terlezki, Stefan|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Thomas, Rt Hon Peter|
|Mills, lain (Meriden)||Thompson, Donald (Calder V)|
|Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)||Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Thorne, Neil (llford S)|
|Mitchell, David (NW Hants)||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Moate, Roger||Thurnham, Peter|
|Monro, Sir Hector||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Montgomery, Fergus||Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)|
|Moore, John||Tracey, Richard|
|Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)||Trippier, David|
|Moynihan, Hon C.||Trotter, Neville|
|Murphy, Christopher||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Neale, Gerrard||van Straubenzee, SirW.|
|Needham, Richard||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Nelson, Anthony||Viggers, Peter|
|Neubert, Michael||Waddington, David|
|Newton, Tony||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Normanton, Tom||Walden, George|
|Norris, Steven||Walker, Bill (Tside N)|
|Oppenheim, Philip||Wall, Sir Patrick|
|Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.||Ward, John|
|Osborn, Sir John||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Ottaway, Richard||Warren, Kenneth|
|Page, Richard (Herts SW)||Watson, John|
|Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil||Watts, John|
|Parris, Matthew||Wells, Bowen (Hertford)|
|Patten, John (Oxford)||Wheeler, John|
|Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth||Whitfield, John|
|Pink, R. Bonner||Whitney, Raymond|
|Pollock, Alexander||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Porter, Barry||Wilkinson, John|
|Powell, William (Corby)||Wolfson, Mark|
|Powley, John||Woodcock, Michael|
|Prentice, Rt Hon Reg||Yeo, Tim|
|Proctor, K. Harvey||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Younger, Rt Hon George||Mr. David Hunt and|
|Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones.|
|Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Adams, Allen (Paisley N)||Field, Frank (Birkenhead)|
|Alton, David||Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)|
|Anderson, Donald||Fisher, Mark|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Fiannery, Martin|
|Ashley, Rt Hon Jack||Foot, Rt Hon Michael|
|Ashton, Joe||Foulkes, George|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Fraser, J. (Norwood)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Garrett, W. E.|
|Barnett, Guy||George, Bruce|
|Barron, Kevin||Godman, Dr Norman|
|Beckett, Mrs Margaret||Golding, John|
|Beith, A. J.||Gould, Bryan|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Gourlay, Harry|
|Blair, Anthony||Hamilton, James (M'well N)|
|Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)|
|Boyes, Roland||Hardy, Peter|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Harman, Ms Harriet|
|Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy|
|Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)||Haynes, Frank|
|Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)||Healey, Rt Hon Denis|
|Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)||Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)|
|Buchan, Norman||Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)|
|Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)||Home Robertson, John|
|Campbell, Ian||Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Howells, Geraint|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)|
|Cartwright, John||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)|
|Clarke, Thomas||Hughes, Simon (Southwark)|
|Clay, Robert||John, Brynmor|
|Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)||Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)|
|Cohen, Harry||Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald|
|Coleman, Donald||Kilroy-Silk, Robert|
|Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.||Kirkwood, Archibald|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton North)||Lambie, David|
|Corbett, Robin||Lamond, James|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Cowans, Harry||Leighton, Ronald|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)|
|Craigen, J. M.||Lofthouse, Geoffrey|
|Crowther, Stan||Loyden, Edward|
|Cunningham, Dr John||McCartney, Hugh|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)||McDonald, Dr Oonagh|
|Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)||McGuire, Michael|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)||McKelvey, William|
|Deakins, Eric||Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor|
|Dewar, Donald||McNamara, Kevin|
|Dixon, Donald||McTaggart, Robert|
|Dobson, Frank||McWilliam, John|
|Dormand, Jack||Madden, Max|
|Dubs, Alfred||Marek, Dr John|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Eastham, Ken||Maxton, John|
|Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE)||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Ellis, Raymond||Meacher, Michael|
|Evans, John (St. Helens N)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Fatchett, Derek||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Faulds, Andrew||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)|
|Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)||Silkin, Rt Hon J.|
|Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Nellist, David||Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)|
|Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon||Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)|
|O'Brien, William||Soley, Clive|
|Orme, Rt Hon Stanley||Spearing, Nigel|
|Owen, Rt Hon Dr David||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Patchett, Terry||Stott, Roger|
|Pavitt, Laurie||Strang, Gavin|
|Pendry, Tom||Straw, Jack|
|Penhaligon, David||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Pike, Peter||Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)|
|Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)||Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)|
|Prescott, John||Thorne, Stan (Preston)|
|Randall, Stuart||Tinn, James|
|Redmond, M.||Torney, Tom|
|Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)||Wallace, James|
|Richardson, Ms Jo||Wardell, Gareth (Gower)|
|Roberts, Allan (Bootle)||Wareing, Robert|
|Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)||Weetch, Ken|
|Robertson, George||Welsh, Michael|
|Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Rogers, Allan||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|Rooker, J. W.||Wilson, Gordon|
|Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)||Winnick, David|
|Sedgemore, Brian||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Sheerman, Barry||Mr. Lawrence Cunliffe and|
|Shore, Rt Hon Peter||Mr. Allen McKay.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
That this House believes that the operation of the Immigration Rules provides the right basis for a firm and fair immigration control which combines a necessary scrutiny of entitlement to settle here with respect and support for family life and proper treatment of visitors to this country.