HC Deb 04 July 1985 vol 82 cc518-9
13. Mr. Pike

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will consider amending the primary purpose rule.

Mr. Waddington

The Government see at present no need to amend the primary purpose rule. This rule and the other requirements for men seeking entry on the basis of marriage are necessary safeguards against the use of marriage to secure admission by those who would not otherwise qualify to come.

Mr. Pike

Will the Minister recognise that this rule probably causes more anguish and heartache than any other rule of immigration policy? Should not an immediate change be made to allow these husbands-to-be to come and join their prospective wives in this country?

Mr. Waddington

I am sure that the vast majority of people in this country realise that it would be absurd, after having said that no young men should be able to come here without skills and go straight on to the labour market at a time of high unemployment, if we allowed the same young men to come here by using marriage as a device.

Mr. Meadowcroft

Is the Minister aware that the difficulty with the primary purpose rule, which causes so much anguish, is that it is not an objective test? It depends upon how an immigration officer feels. People trying to enter this country cannot determine how to answer questions. I hope the Minister will accept that it is impossible for people trying to enter this country to prepare themselves for the kind of questions that might be asked. The rule is monstrously unfair because it does not take account of the different cultures and the genuine need that people have to come here to join their families, set up families and enjoy security.

Mr. Waddington

If it is so difficult to satisfy an entry clearance officer that one is entitled to enter as a husband, is it not extraordinary that over half the husbands who apply for entry are granted permission to come here?

Mr. Proctor

Has my hon. Friend noticed how the vast majority of the Opposition always want to increase immigration, when the vast majority of people in this country want to see it decreased?

Mr. Waddington

I am sure my hon. Friend is correct when he says that the vast majority of people in this country know well that we must have firm immigration control. The Government stand by that, and I can imagine nothing more irresponsible than the statements that have been coming from the Opposition Front Bench that if they came into office they would repeal the Immigration Act 1971.

Mr. Dubs

The Minister used the expression "marriage as a device." Will he make it clear that we are talking about genuine marriages, where the primary purpose rule is used merely by Home Office and Foreign Office officials to pry into the motives for a marriage and make an arbitrary decision to exclude husbands? Will he confirm that we are talking about marriages which are, in all respects, genuine and proper?

Mr. Waddington

We are talking about marriages where the primary purpose of the person applying is to get here. I repeat what I have said. It is an abuse of the institution of marriage if people enter into marriages merely to enter a country such as ours.

Mr. Faulds

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Later.