HC Deb 31 January 1985 vol 72 cc405-6
10. Mr. Eastham

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons have been deported or removed during the last 12 months who are parents of British-born children.

Mr. Waddington

I regret that the information requested is not available.

Mr. Eastham

Does the Minister agree that the media tell us increasingly about parents being separated from their children and sent back to their own countries? May I draw to his attention the case of my constituent, Mr. Kamul Kumar, who has lived in Britain since 1978 and who has been served with a deportation order? He has appealed to the tribunal. He has a three-year-old child, who he will probably never see again if he is deported. Will the Minister have some compassion in such cases?

Mr. Waddington

Many cases are mentioned in the media. Unfortunately, all too often, the reports of those cases are one-sided. I do my best to redress the balance. As to the case mentioned by the hon. Gentleman, he will know perfectly well that no one is deported from Britain without first being able to take his case to appeal and have his case heard by an adjudicator, and often also by the immigration appeals tribunal, which can have regard to all the compassionate circumstances.

Clearly, the existence of children is a relevant factor in deciding whether to exercise discretion in a deportation case, but neither the Government nor their predecessors have allowed people to believe that they can use their children to avoid the consequences of their own behaviour. The spectacle of people threatening the Home Office that if the law is enforced they will leave their children behind is thoroughly unedifying. When such threats are carried out, it is parents who split families, not the Home Office.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

Will my hon. and learned Friend confirm that many of the parents of British-born children were illegal immigrants when those children were born?

Mr. Waddington

My hon. Friend is right. We often deal with cases of children born to poeple who were illegal immigrants before the British Nationality Act 1981 came into force. The parents say, "I dare you to deport me. If you do, I will leave my child here as a charge on the state". There is nothing honourable in that.

Mr. Janner

Does the Mininster recognise the agonising choice of parents who, if they are returned to their countries, are likely to starve? They must decide whether to leave their children here, where they will at least eat, or to take them home, where they may well die?

Mr. Waddington

The hon. and learned Gentleman poses the dilemma, and that is precisely why we have an appeals system and why our law allows an independent tribunal to consider all the circumstances. I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman is not inviting me to tell the House that, in every case where a person is liable to deportation, he should not be deported because of the existence of a child. That would be nonsense, and it was certainly not the policy of the Labour Government.

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