HC Deb 13 May 1985 vol 79 cc1166-244

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Major.]

Mr. Speaker

A large number of right hon. and hon. Members wish to take part in the debate. I have no means of controlling the length of speeches, but I ask hon. Members to bear in mind that their colleagues are anxious to speak. I call for short contributions please.

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

The origins of the CRE report lie in the case of a woman who had sought entry as a fiancée and was subjected to a medical examination to establish whether she had borne a child. It became known as the "virginity test" case and it took place under the last Labour Government.

Immediately after that incident, instructions were issued making it clear that such examinations had to cease, and they did. It is, therefore, ironical that the grievance that led to demands for an inquiry into the operation of the immigration control had been removed before the inquiry even commenced.

We did not think that an inquiry into immigration control came within the CRE's terms of reference, but once the inquiry was in train, the Home Office co-operated in every way. I am sure that the House would wish me to thank those in the CRE who undertook the difficult task of examining this very important subject; they can certainly not be faulted for the effort that they have put into it.

But I must be frank about the report itself. We find some of its central conclusions very odd—some might say perverse. It seems to reject the proposition that people from poor countries, driven by a desire to better themselves, are more likely to attempt to enter the United Kingdom fraudulently than those from relatively prosperous ones. Yet that is a statement of the obvious. There is no surprise in the fact that far more forged passports turn up from countries such as Nigeria and Bangladesh than the United States. In 1984 there were 442 from Nigeria and 129 from Bangladesh—yet only five from the United States. There is nothing astonishing in the fact that a higher percentage of people from those countries are refused entry. No one need wonder at the fact that a higher proportion of people from Ghana, Nigeria and Iran, having entered the country illegally or, having overstayed, finish up being deported or removed. It would be astonishing if that were not the case. The interesting thing is how few people overall are refused entry. Ninety nine point nine per cent. of all passengers are admitted at our ports of entry—99.1 per cent. of passengers from the new Commonwealth and Pakistan.

Much of the criticism in the report seems to proceed from this fallacy—that there must be something wrong with the control because more black people are stopped than white. But there is one thing on which we can all agree. Entry clearance officers and immigration officers are charged by Parliament to carry out a difficult and responsible task, and the way they carry it out can have a dramatic effect on the lives of individuals. They have on the one hand to see that people get their just entitlements. They have on the other to be alert to check abuse. Therefore we want entry clearance officers and immigration officers of the highest quality—courteous, efficient, astute and humane. We must work the whole time to enhance the professionalism of the service and improve its ethos. The report goes out of its way to say that its criticisms are of the system rather than of individuals. But the CRE team was rightly worried about some of the unprofessional comments found in the files it looked at: and if that is a sign of poor training, we have got to get things right.

I can assure the House that there had been a lot of developments in training before the report was even published. In last July's immigration and nationality department report, we committed ourselves to introduce racial awareness training, and there has already been a seminar for senior staff and a course for training staff—trainers—but we are anxious, rightly, to see that racial awareness should not be a separate part of a training course, but brought into every aspect of it. Not only will the development of training programmes and the review of guidance material take into account the comments in the report, but I can see considerable advantages in a continuing dialogue with the CRE, the comments of which on training programmes we shall be only too happy to receive.

I mentioned guidance material and the report calls for a review of the guidance and instructions. My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary has already said that internal guidance is regularly adjusted, but a fundamental review of the instructions is under way and the possibility of publication is being studied.

A great deal of the report is concerned with entry clearance applications in the subcontinent, and I think many hon. Members have actually seen entry clearance officers conducting interviews, and will agree that they carry out their work with patience and humanity. The report says there should be a major change of emphasis in the operation of the procedures so that the risk of genuine applicants being refused is reduced to the minimum. But it is not the job of the entry clearance officers just to clear the queues. It is their job to apply the law, and the law rightly expects a person claiming to come here to establish his or her entitlement. It would be absurd if one were to re-write the rules to state that anyone who made an application was presumed to have an entitlement even if he could not show it. It would be doubly absurd if we were to do that in the context of the history of applications in the subcontinent, where there has been, regrettably, much deceit and attempts to evade the control. Every hon. Member knows that.

As to waiting times in the subcontinent, the times normally quoted are those relating to the non-priority queues: and it must be borne in mind that newly married wives, even in Dhaka, are admitted in under a month. The non-priority queue in Dhaka is overlong because about half of those in it are people whose claims have already been examined and found wanting not only by ECOs but in a high proportion of cases, by the appellate authorities, and they are now applying for a second or third time. In the vast majority of these cases, they are admitting previous deception when they make their second or third applications.

One other point is often overlooked, and not mentioned in the report. Wives in the non-priority queue cannot by definition be newly married wives, or they would be in the priority queue: and the majority of those in the non-priority queue have waited for more than two years, and no fewer than 30 per cent. for more than nine years before applying to come here. That means that 60 per cent. have been separated for longer than the waiting time in the longest queue before applying for entry clearance. It seems a bit much in those circumstances to accuse the Government of being responsible for dividing the families.

Generally speaking the waiting times are shorter than under Labour. The place where there is considerable difficulty is Dhaka, where the number of applications has actually increased in the past year. Because of that we have decided that there should be five additional entry clearance officer postings of six months each in the next 12 months to cover absences such as staff leave and sickness. We are also taking steps to ensure that first-time applicants are given rather more priority than those applying for the second or third time, with the result that the waiting time for first-time applicants is already coming down.

Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall)

Has the report given rise to the new look at administration? Has the Department been stimulated by that report, despite the general tone of the Minister in referring to it earlier?

Mr. Waddington

I remind the hon. Gentleman that queue lengths have been coming down, and up to last year even the queue length in Dhaka compared favourably with the queue length under Labour. It was simply because over the past year the queue length in Dhaka began to increase that we began to study various ways in which we could help the situation.

It would be foolish of any of us to ignore advice or opinions expressed by anybody. Clearly, the hon. Gentleman is right if he is suggesting that we have paid full attention to what has been said by the CRE team, but I assure him that we were thinking about this matter before that, because we keep our eyes on the queues the whole time, and want to see that our resources are used to the best possible effect.

Mr. Laurie Pavitt (Brent, South)

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give a little detail on two places that affect my constituency—Islamabad and Gujarat? I am sure that he has statistics on those places.

Mr. Waddington

The position in Islamabad is fairly favourable. In 1979, when the Conservative party came into office, the waiting time was 19½ months; it is now down to 10¾ months. I think that we are entitled to take some pride in that. The position in Bombay has also improved. People from Gujarat have their applications dealt with in Bombay. In 1979 the waiting time in Bombay was 12½ months; we have now got it down to six months.

On applications by husbands and fiancés, the report says that it is fundamentally unfair that applicants for entry in that capacity should have to show that the marriage was not contracted solely or mainly for immigration purposes. I know that this is a controversial matter. I have discussed it with hon. Members on both sides of the House, but I do not believe that it can be wrong to expect someone who is claiming a valuable right to prove his entitlement. Why on earth should not a person claiming an entitlement be required to prove it? Why should a person be able to come here using marriage as a device? This is no attack on the practice of the arranged marriage. It is those who use that practice for immigration purposes who undermine and discredit the practice.

Mr. Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield)

Does the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the real bone of contention is the fact that in that matter, as in many others, such as immigration procedures at Heathrow and elsewhere, the fundamental principle of British law is reversed? Everyone is suspected of being guilty until proved innocent, rather than everyone being innocent until proved guilty. That is a reversal of natural justice. Our people strongly believe that that should not be so.

Mr. Waddington

It is misleading to talk about guilt or innocence. We are talking about a person who comes along and says, "I want to live in Britain, which is not my country." Surely he should be required to prove his entitlement to come to Britain, which is not his country. I can see nothing wrong in that. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) is wrong in saying that the fact that the burden is on the husband or fiancé marks a departure from the rules. If the hon. Gentleman reads the rules, he will find that the burden is on the person who comes here claiming to be a visitor to prove that he or she is a bona fide visitor and intends going back at the end of his stay. If the hon. Gentleman reads the rules, he will find that the burden on anyone who claims a right under the rules is to prove his or her entitlement. It is not beyond reasonable doubt. It is not a heavy burden, but it rests on him or her.

Ms. Clare Short (Birmingham, Ladywood)

However the Minister chooses to use his powers I do not think that he would wish to mislead the House. On the question of a person's primary purpose in coming here, this burden differs from all other burdens. In every other case, an entitlement must be proved. In the case of marriage, the man must prove that it is not his primary purpose to come to the United Kingdom. That is a much more significant burden of proof. I am sure that the Minister would admit that and would not wish to mislead anyone about the facts.

Mr. Waddington

I do not follow the hon. Lady. The person concerned must prove his entitlement. Parliament has decided, rightly or wrongly, that a husband or fiancé does not have that entitlement if his primary purpose is immigration. Therefore, we do no more in the case of husbands and fiancés than we do in the case of any other applicants.

Mr. Nicholas Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)

Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) is right to this extent—the 1983 rules constituted a considerable relaxation compared with the 1980 rules? There was a great deal of discussion about the 1983 rules. Eventually, as a compromise, there was a slight tightening up by inserting this method of assessing the burden of proof. Is it not the case that, in English law, where a person is particularly in command of the facts, it is usual for him to have the duty of proving them?

Mr. Waddington

My hon. Friend is correct. The burden of proof was changed in the 1983 rules. The change was rightly made and brought into line the burden of proof imposed on husbands and fiancés that already rested on others claiming an entitlement to come here. People talk as though the 1983 rules marked a draconian tightening up in the rules concerning husbands and fiancés. In fact, it was a great relaxation of the rules. Before the introduction of the 1983 rules, the only people who could sponsor husbands or fiancés were girls who were either born here or had one parent born here. The introduction of the 1983 rules resulted not in a reduction but in an increase in the number of people able to come here as a husband or fiancé. The failure rate for entry of husbands and fiancés decreased from 62 per cent. in 1982 to 48 per cent. in 1983.

Mr. Ron Leighton (Newham, North-East)

The Minister knows that this is an important and contentious point. The person concerned really has to prove a negative, that something is not his purpose. Exactly what does the person have to prove? What does he have to show? How does he do this?

Mr. Waddington

The person gives the most detailed advice to entry clearance officers on the relevant matters. It is easy to make a judgment in these cases. If it were as difficult as the hon. Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) says, everyone would fail the test. The truth is that 40 per cent. failed the test in the Indian subcontinent during the first three quarters of 1984.

Mr. Leighton

I did not say that it was "difficult". I merely asked what was involved. What does one have to do? How does one do it?

Mr. Waddington

I think that I can help the hon. Gentleman again. I should have thought that one car make a judgment on these matters fairly easily by asking the young man how he came to meet his fiancé and why he proposed to live with her in her country rather than his. Those are the types of question which should lead any ordinary, reasonable person to make a judgment as to a person's motive. Every day of the week the courts of the land make judgments on people's intentions and motives. I cannot see why that is such an impossible task when it is imposed on an entry clearance officer.

Mr. Budgen

On page 64 the report attacks the six criteria for questioning, saying that they are "unfair" I am sure that my hon. and learned Friend agrees that the six areas of questioning are likely to help the applicant to explain the facts that are within his control. I hope that my hon. and learned Friend will not move away, because of any criticism, from those six areas of questioning.

Mr. Waddington

I should not like to be thought discourteous to the CRE team. I shall look at all the suggestions. I have already given my provisional view, which is that it is perfectly proper to ask a young man why he proposes to live with his wife-to-be in her country rather than his.

The last thing I want is for the first impressions of this country for people arriving at Heathrow to be unhappy ones because of the way they are treated at immigration control. All complaints against immigration officers are followed up with care. Again, I think that it is a question of being ever alert to improve training.

However, living on an island, we are able to rely to a very large extent on control at the ports, and I think that people would far rather run the risk of having to undergo careful questioning there than see us move over to a system that relied on pervasive after-entry controls with identity cards and the rest. It is necessary to put the matter into perspective by pointing out that it takes only about a minute to clear through immigration each of the 7 million passengers a year who are neither British nor from the EEC. Some hon. Members have seen terminal 3 first thing in the morning. I am sure that they would agree with me that it would be a considerable help in making passage through immigration control even quicker if the airlines could arrange things so that 70 per cent. of all their long-distance flights did not arrive between 6 am and 10 am —but I fear that that is a vain hope.

On after-entry control, the report takes the view that: The police should not participate in immigration control work as a matter of routine". It complains of large-scale joint operations by the police and the immigration service. That recommendation is a useful reminder of the fact that the gestation period of the report has been twice as long as that of an elephant.

Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton)

That was the Government's doing. They took the matter to the court.

Mr. Waddington

Of course it was not the Government's doing.

As a result, some of the recommendations have been overtaken by events and are therefore misleading. The right hon. Gentleman says that it was our doing because we took the matter to the court, but in fact the gestation period from the beginning of the investigation to production of the report was twice as long as that of an elephant.

As long ago as December 1980 my right hon. and learned Friend approved new guidelines emphasising the sensitivity of joint operations and the care that is needed, if they take place, to avoid any action likely to cause justifiable complaint. Since then, there have been just 10 joint operations in which 153 people in total were interviewed, no fewer than 130 of whom were found to be here in breach of the law. In 1984 there was just one operation. Ten people were interviewed, nine of whom were found to be here illegally. Any fair-minded person would agree that there is no evidence in those figures of oppression in the enforcement of the controls.

The House will agree that we cannot just ignore intelligence about illegal immigrants. To do so would be bad for community relations. However, there is no doubt that the community relations implications of operations should be borne in mind and that, generally speaking, it is better that enforcement work should be carried out by immigration staff rather than the police.

I will not attempt to go through the detailed recommendations. Hon. Members will mention those that they think most important, and I am anxious to hear what they say so that we can take the views of the House into account before reaching our final conclusions. Some of the recommendations we readily accept, such as that relating to the practice of requesting authorisation from applicants from the Indian subcontinent to make tax checks. But, as I have already said, some of the report's recommendations seem to us pretty odd. For example, its conclusion that appeals should be heard by a panel of three adjudicators rather than by one would do no more than add to the very delays in the hearing of appeals of which it complains. However, we are looking at all the suggestions and we shall be giving a detailed response as soon as possible to the chairman of the CRE.

Mr. Eric Forth (Mid-Worcestershire)

Does my right hon. and learned Friend intend to give the House his estimate of the immediate or medium-term effect on immigration if all the recommendations of the report were carried out? It would be of interest to the House, in deciding how to respond to the report, to know the effect of the report's recommendations on all the communities in this country.

Mr. Waddington

That would be a most difficult exercise. However, I have tried to price—as it were—the speech made recently by the hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. Dubs). Scrapping primary purpose would mean another 1,500. Giving settled women the right to bring in husbands would mean another 2,500. Allowing all east African Asians in immediately would mean another 3,300 heads of families, not counting the accompanying dependants. In that case, too, one has no idea how many new applicants might join the queue out of the estimated 30,000 east African Asians in India. We do not know how many applications there would be from elderly dependants, so the figure is not quantifiable. The irresponsible pledge by the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) to repeal the Immigration Act, if it made any sense at all, would mean tens of thousands of immigrants. Clearly the right hon. Gentleman is talking nonsense.

Mr. Budgen

Will my hon. and learned Friend comment on the general impression given by the Opposition that they would exercise their discretion much more liberally? The Home Secretary has a general discretion to allow applicants in outside the rules.

Mr. Waddington

My hon. Friends must reach their own conclusions. The right hon. Gentleman's remarks were the height of irresponsibility. We shall do our best to work out what he meant, and I shall comment on his speech in a moment.

Mr. Max Maddent (Bradford, West)

In pricing these matters, will the Minister confirm that primary immigration ceased some time ago? Will he tell us how many people leave the country every year? Will he confirm that in each of the past few years, there has been net emigration from this country?

Mr. Waddington

The answer depends on what one means by primary immigration. In my view, every husband or fiancé who joins a woman who is settled here is an example of primary immigration. We are fooling ourselves if we say otherwise. On the question of net emigration, I believe that generally speaking the hon. Gentleman is right, but in 1983 there was net immigration.

Mr. Jack Straw (Blackburn)


Mr. Waddington

I should press on, but the hon. Gentleman is a decent chap.

Mr. Straw

That remark makes me hesitate to intervene. I hope that it will be excised from the record.

The suggestion that the immigration of fiancés is primary immigration is not only deeply offensive to the families involved but contrary to the views of the Prime Minister, who has repeatedly claimed, for the benefit of the far Right of the Conservative party, that primary immigration has ended.

Mr. Waddington

We always talked of primary immigration as meaning the immigration of new heads of families. If a young man enters this country to found a new family, albeit by marrying a girl who is already here, that is by my lights a straightforward case of primary immigration.

We shall not make much progress by debating definitions. I stand by my view of the matter.

Mr. Dave Nellist (Coventry, South-East)

There are some 17,000 wives and families in the Indian subcontinent who are waiting for entry clearance. Is it not true that even if they all arrived tomorrow morning, that would still represent only 3 per cent. of the British birth rate and there would still be a net outflow of emigrants from this country?

Mr. Waddington

I do not know about 3 per cent., but the British people would be astonished if we were to announce tomorrow that 30,000 people could come straight into the country, if only because they would ask where such people could go to, and where they could be housed. What happens if 15,000 come to Tower Hamlets, as the families of Bangladeshis? Who will find houses, schools and hospitals for them? The proposition is ridiculous.

Obviously it is in the nature of immigration control that distress and hardship can sometimes be caused to those affected by it. Living in a country such as ours is considered a great prize and failing to attain that benefit can be a serious matter. Hon. Members know that it is in the very nature of my job that difficult decisions have to be made. Often, I am asked to allow someone to enter or to remain here, although quite clearly he has no right to do so under the rules. In such cases, I have to bear in mind that if discretion were regularly exercised other than in really exceptional circumstances, one would run the risk of undermining the rules themselves and one certainly would not be acting fairly to the vast majority of people who are prepared to abide by the rules.

In many cases discretion is exercised, as all hon. Members know, and I suppose that it is my misfortune that those cases are rarely the ones that attract publicity in the press. However, because of my responsibilities, I have had the opportunity over the years of meeting all sorts of people among the ethnic minority communities, and my belief is that the vast majority of people, from whatever community they come, accept the need for control and recognise that in seeking to strike a balance between the need to prevent evasion and the need to see that people get their rights, we have got things about right. That explains why immigration was not an issue at the last election. That is why a recent MORI poll showed that only 2 per cent. of the population consider immigration as an important issue facing the country today. Long may that remain the case.

That brings me to the right hon. Member for Gorton. I hope that, now he has got Gorton in the bag and does not have to ingratiate himself with some of the nastier people in his constituency, he will begin to behave more reasonably, but I have my doubts. When we last debated immigration, he produced a wealth of statistics designed to show that under the Conservatives the control has been operated with little compassion, but which in fact showed that little had changed since the days of Labour. He succeeded in shooting himself in the foot by complaining about the refusal rate in the case of family applications in Dhaka when the highest such refusal rate occurred in 1977 when it was 62 per cent. So the House would be wise to be wary of the right hon. Gentlman's statistics today.

In one respect, however, I did the right hon. Gentleman an injustice. He complained about a 100 per cent. refusal rate for male fiancés in Bangladesh in the first quarter of 1984. I rudely replied that that did not mean much because there had been only three applicants. I was wrong and I apologise to the right hon Gentleman. There was in fact one applicant. One applicant, one refusal, is 100 per cent. Those are the sort of statistic in which the right hon. Gentleman deals.

The right hon. Member has been at it again. He made a most disgraceful speech in April at the United Kingdom immigration advisory service conference. I make no complaint about the fact that it was, as usual, over-spiced with the adjective "odious". My hon. Friends might like to count the "odiouses" in the right hon. Gentleman's speech. it is rather like counting the bridges going down the motorway to keep oneself awake. At that conference, the right hon. Gentleman's theme was that the present law is detestable and administerd in a nasty fashion by all concerned, Ministers and civil servants alike.

The right hon. Gentleman forbore to mention that the law to which he was referring was that applied by the Labour Government when they were in power. But the Immigration Act 1971, he said, would go if Labour again took office. He did not remind his audience that back in the 1960s, the Labour Government promised to repeal the Commonwealth Immigrants Act but in 1968 actually extended its scope, removing from United Kingdom passport holders the right to come here. He complained about the control of entry of husbands and fiancés and there has been some discussion about that this afternoon, but he carefully concealed the fact that, in 1970, the Labour Government introduced rules that banned the entry of husbands save at the discretion of the Secretary of State.

Ms. Clare Short

What about 1975?

Mr. Waddington

I am coming to that. I am glad that the hon. Lady mentioned that. The right hon. Member for Gorton failed to do so. He did not say that the last Labour Government, of which he was a member, after coming into office in 1974 and relaxing the husband and fiancé rules, then discovered less than three years later that they could not sustain the position, and in 1977 tightened them up again. The right hon. Gentleman did not tell that to the delegates at the conference.

It is impossible to envisage a less productive and more mischievous exercise in terms of community relations than that on which the right hon. Gentleman is engaged. Judging by Labour's past record, the promises that he is making will never be fulfilled, but if they are—if the Immigration Act were repealed and control after control were scrapped — I cannot imagine anything more disastrous for community relations. As to his vilification of those — both civil servants and politicians — responsible for the control, that sort of language can comfort only those who are out to create not harmony in society but division and conflict.

We are now a multiracial society. Half our neighbours whose origins lie in the Indian subcontinent, Africa or the West Indies, were born here. This is their home. Our job is to see that in this multiracial society there is opportunity for all. It is our job to concentrate on that rather than whip up trouble over immigration controls of a kind which the whole of the western world has felt obliged to impose, and which are in the interests of us all—black and white alike.

4.37 pm
Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton)

I promise that I shall not use the word odious about the Minister's speech—it is all too inadequate a word for the repulsive tirade to which we have been subjected.

The Labour party is glad that, after so much delay, we are at last debating the CRE report. The Government have treated the House offensively in three respects. First, the Home Secretary has shirked his responsibilities by failing to take part in the debate. It is disgraceful that he has not even bothered to turn up for it. It is extraordinary that, in his two years of office, the Home Secretary has not spoken once on the subject of immigration in the House, or answered a single oral question about it. His sole acceptance of accountability to the House on a matter of major importance, in which he is personally responsible —for example, he signs deportation orders—was one sentence of 11 words spoken last November as a reply to a supplementary to a question on quite another topic. Even those 11 words were inaccurate and misleading.

Mr. Waddington

The House will know that I have day-to-day responsibility for these matters, and I think that many hon. Members would have been surprised if I had not been here to account for the way in which I have dealt with matters. The right hon. Gentleman wanted my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary to speak, I believe, because he thought that it would elevate his own importance, of which he has an exaggerated view.

Mr. Kaufman

It would, of course, be impossible to exaggerate the hon. and learned Gentleman's estimate of his importance.

The Home Secretary trots along here to speak on data protection Bills, on BBC licences and on all kinds of things, but when we have a debate about the family life and the fate of hundreds of thousands of people he does not turn up or even send an apology; we have no idea where he is. His behaviour is disgraceful and will be noted by the ethnic minorites as his concern for their needs.

We complain that, before the House has even had the chance to debate the report, the Government have rejected two of its recommendations — on tape recording of interviews and on local consulates in Mirpur and Sylhet. Those recommendations were rejected in written answers from a junior Foreign Office Minister.

We resent the Government's failure to put down for today's debate even a "take note" motion, as in the case of the Auld report. We know why. They wished to prevent an amendment from us which would have welcomed the report. It is not surprising that the Government did not put down a motion because, first, they tried to stop the CRE conducting the investigation that led to the report. The Government took the matter to the courts. They delayed the investigation by 18 months. They sought to have the terms of reference changed and weakened. Then, when the report was finally published, they attacked it most viciously. Today the Minister of State did it again, calling it odd and perverse. He gave a strange and distorted impression of the contents of the report. For our part, we congratulate the CRE on persevering against ministerial sabotage and insults to produce one of the most important documents on immigration ever published in this country.

The scope of the report is narrow. It deals simply with immigration control procedures, but it turns the spotlight on the Government's attitude on immigration policy and consequently on racial relations. It reveals Ministers to be conducting policies on these vital matters which are discriminatory to the point of being racialist. If anybody questions what I have to say on this, I shall quote from the report itself to confirm the indictment.

It is a remarkable report. It is copiously and painstakingly documented and it has a shameful story to tell. For example, it describes the attitude of entry clearance officers in the Indian subcontinent to those they interview. It describes cursory and insulting way in which they too often treat those with whom they are dealing. This is a quotation: CRE staff observed about 20 inteviews in Dhaka and Islamabad. It was noted that ECOs only rarely addressed interviewees directly, putting their questions through the interpreter in the third person. ECOs often gave the impression of being bored or irritated with their work, showing this, for example, by persistently tapping their pencil on the desk or drumming their fingers. In one case observed, the ECO became irritated with the answers being given and showed this by rounding on the applicant and shouting at her—one of the rare occasions we saw an ECO address an interviewee directly. Virtually all of the interviews observed by CRE staff were interrupted at least once by the entry into the room of other staff of the post or by telephone calls being taken by the ECO. In one case, the ECO took a personal call lasting many minutes". The accounts in the report are confirmed by representatives of Manchester law centre who went to Islamabad last month and who were present at interviews there. They report that in their presence one interview was interrupted by a telephone call about the embassy's supply of Easter eggs. That interrupted an interview affecting the life and future of those concerned.

One reason for what the CRE report describes as a dismissive or contemptuous attitude to applicants is, according to the report, the low esteem in which applicants have been held". It quotes from a report prepared by staff at terminal 2 at Heathrow—the officials to whom the Minister has paid tribute. That report says: Moroccans from the 'immigrant areas' seem, like Mirpuris,"— that is, Pakistanis— to be both simple and cunning". The contempt and low esteem are in no way more significantly demonstrated than in the attitude of ECOs and immigration officers to the refusal of applications. The CRE report states: Other material we saw appeared to us to suggest that, in some cases at least, the prospect of securing refusals of entry clearances would generate greater enthusiasm than that of issuing them. A note by an entry clearance officer on one file, for example, warned other officers not to handle it: 'I want to do this re-interview myself. Hands off. This must be the year's strongest refusal.' The CRE report quotes immigration officers as stating that they have been warned about producing too few refusals. Chief immigration officers are quoted in the report as admitting that if an officer's refusal rate was well below average the chief immigration officer would want to know why. What is more, certain countries emerged clearly as being especially subject to discrimination.

Dealing with the treatment of visitors, the report states that in 1980 passengers from the new Commonwealth and from Pakistan were 30 times more likely to be refused admission than those from the old Commonwealth. It said that in the first nine months of 1982 under 1 per cent. of Americans and Canadians, under 1.5 per cent. of Australians and under 2 per cent. of New Zealanders were admitted to Britain as visitors in the code 3 or doubtful category, while of non-business visitors from India or Pakistan code 3 admissions covered 20 per cent., from Bangladesh over 30 per cent, and from Ghana 40 per cent.

In the first 10 months of 1984, people from 104 countries were detained overnight at ports of entry other than Queen's building, Heathrow, for which no figures are available. Detention of people from the four countries of Nigeria, Ghana, India and Pakistan accounted for 52 per cent. of all detentions. That is more than the other 100 countries put together. In certain months in 1982, Ghanaians, Nigerians, Pakistanis and Indians accounted for 70 per cent. of visitors required to submit to further examination. This massive disproportion was due partly to deliberate discrimination against people who were not obviously affluent.

The report quotes one note from an ECO in Islamabad which said of the person being interviewed: Obviously loaded and very good class. Issue. Of another well-to-do Pakistani, an ECO noted: Unfortunately this looks like an issue.… I have no choice but to issue. The report attacks what it described as double standards—trust of the wealthy and suspicion of the poor". That is confirmed in a note submitted to the CRE from the Home Office itself, which says: nationals of rich countries are likely to be subject to less intensive scrutiny and are less likely to be refused than nationals of poor countries. That is Home Office policy as explained by the Home Office itself.

If someone is rich or is an Australian he is treated better than if he is rich and Pakistani. These offensive attitudes stem from the latest dodge that the Home Office has adopted and about which we heard again this afternoon from the Minister of State—the concept of "pressure to immigrate" countries. There is no published list of such countries so that we may know which they are. They are chosen at whim by ECOs and others, sometimes completely inconsistently; some will be on one ECO's list and some on another's. For example, the United States is on one ECO's list as a "pressure to immigrate" country. The effect of the "pressure to immigrate" concept is described harshly in the CRE report: The evidence put to us by the Home Office does not, in our view, provide sufficient justificaton for basing the priorities and decision-criteria in immigration control on the pressure to immigrate argument. The concept relates essentially to poor countries and brings under particular suspicion visitors from countries which have established ethnic minority communities here. While some such people undeniably evade the controls, so, undeniably — and probably more easily — do considerable numbers of people from wealthier countries who might not be regarded as having strong incentives to do so. The effect of the argument is to cause the procedures to discriminate, in effect, against black people in particular. Even the Home Office gave the game away. In a note which it sent to the CRE during the inquiry, it stated: Visitors from new Commonwealth countries are more likely than others to be treated as doubtful visitors. The report lists monstrous devices and strategems employed against would-be visitors and people who apply for settlement. None is more disgraceful than the use of the primary purpose rule as a deliberate way of getting round the legal entitlement in the rules. As administered, it is degraded too often into being merely a paper entitlement. It is the right under the rules of husbands and male fiancés, especially from the Indian subcontinent, to gain entry to the United Kingdom to join their womenfolk. The manoeuvre has grown to intolerable levels.

In 1980, primary purpose accounted in whole or in part for less than 20 per cent. of refusals of applications by husbands and male fiancés. By 1983, it accounted for 75 per cent. of refusals. A parliamentary reply on 20 May to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) shows that, by the last three quarters of 1984, primary purpose accounted for between 80 and 90 per cent. of refusals, and for about 40 per cent. of all applications decided, whether favourably or unfavourably. That shoddy dodge is now substantially negating the statutory right of those men to enter Britain.

Deliberate and carefully planned measures are adopted to achieve those primary purpose refusals. What is more, they are contained in official guidance issued by Ministers to entry clearance officers in September 1983. That guidance even suggests questions which should be used to trap applicants into making a statement which would justify refusing them entry under the primary purpose rule. In its report the CRE described those questions as ambiguous and unfair. I shall give three, which are given in the report. They are If your fiancée did not live in the United Kingdom, would you still go to her home to live? [HON. MEMBERS: "What is wrong with that?"] The CRE condemns these questions. I note Conservative Members' attitude to this. Their inherent racism emerges at every opportunity. The other two questions are If you were not able to live with your fiancée in the United Kingdom, would you still marry her? If your family had asked you to marry a local girl, would you have done so? Those questions are denounced by the CRE in its report, but to a supporter of apartheid, such as the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle), those questions are everything that they should be.

Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North)

Will the right hon. Gentleman withdraw his remark describing me as a supporter of apartheid? That is a gross insult to me and to the House. I appeal to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that that should be withdrawn.

Mr. Kaufman

The hon. Gentleman denies that he is a supporter of apartheid. I am delighted to have that on the record.

Mr. Carlisle

I am delighted to confirm that I have always made it my business on the Floor of the House and elsewhere to say that I abhor apartheid, and have al ways said so. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for withdrawing his remark.

Mr. Kaufman

I am delighted to have that on the record.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

Although it is true that the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Carlisle) has criticised apartheid, is it not a fact that he takes every opportunity to act as an apologist for the South African authorities?

Mr. Kaufman

If the hon. Gentleman would like also to deny that, I shall be glad to give way to him.

Mr. John Carlisle

Although the point is well out of order, I am delighted to say that I am not an apologist for any Government, even my own.

Mr. Kaufman

That was less than full-hearted dissent. Admissions are delayed by the deliberate use of queues.

In its report the CRE alleges the use of the queue as a deterrent to applications and as a means of restricting the rate of immigration. The Home Secretary, in his speech to the United Kingdom immigration advisory service conference in Manchester last month, attempted to counter that CRE allegation when he said: I must make it clear … that the Government does not maintain these queues as a deliberate measure to control the flow of immigration. That statement was simply untrue. It is shown to be untrue by an internal Home Office document, of which I have a copy. About two years ago it was submitted to the Minister for guidance. So that the House can hear what the Home Office says when it thinks that it is not being observed, I shall quote from it. As I said, it was a briefing document for the Minister. It states: In two significant areas a system of queues operates to regulate the flow of immigrants … The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is responsible for the administration of entry clearance work and shares responsibility with us for the number of Entry Clearance Officers which, in practice, is the primary regulator of the number of husbands, wives, and children, and male fiances admitted from the sub-continent in any one year. There are about 40 ECOs in the sub-continent at present. Provided the queues do not become too long, this form of administrative regulation can continue; but an acknowledged policy of deliberate delay without legislation giving power to impose quotas … would run risks in the domestic courts and under the European Convention of Human Rights.

Mr. Waddington

I wish to make two points. Is it not a fact that the number of ECOs in post during the period of the Labour Government was the primary regulator of the number of people who came to the United Kingdom? Is it not plain common sense that if there are any queues, it is because the Government have decided that they cannot appoint as many ECOs in the Indian sub-continent as would be necessary to clear those queues? As I have pointed out that, generally speaking, the waiting times now are shorter than they were under the Labour Government, how does the right hon. Gentleman dare to make this criticism, as if it were directed against the Conservative Government only, and if it were true, would it not be equally apt against the Labour Government?

Mr. Kaufman


Mr. Waddington

I have not finished. I have another point. Will the right hon. Gentleman remember that the briefing paper to which he referred was apparently prepared by civil servants when they were whiling away the time during the general election campaign? Had the country suffered the misfortune of having a Labour Government returned, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would have been asked to read the document.

Mr. Kaufman

Had that document come to me, I would have torn it into two immediately. The Minister has admitted the authenticity of the document. However, the Home Secretary said: I must make it clear … that the Government does not maintain these queues as a deliberate measure to control the flow of immigration. The internal Home Office document states: In two significant areas a system of queues operates to regulate the flow of immigrants. The Minister is now saying that the queues are used to regulate immigration, so the Home Secretary was not telling the truth.

Mr. Waddington

The right hon. Gentleman must stop talking nonsense. Of course the number of entry clearance officers regulates the number of people who are standing in the queue, and regulates the number of people who are admitted.

The right hon. Gentleman is saying that what must be inferred from that briefing paper is not a matter of fact, but a matter of intention. I am telling him that the intention is not to limit the number of people; the intention is to devote to entry clearance the resources that can be devoted to it.

The right hon. Gentleman has a nerve to raise this matter, because there are more entry clearance officers in Dacca now than there were under the Labour Government.

Mr. Kaufman

The problem is that the Home Secretary did not say what the Minister of State is saying. The Minister of State is repudiating the Home Secretary, which is par for the course, since the Home Secretary needs repudiating. But we are glad that the Minister of State has joined us in doing so and has admitted that the Government are using queues to regulate immigration into Britain—something that we had always believed in any case.

The report is clear about that. It states that the immigration rules have been drafted and administered in such a way as to minimise the numbers of people who may be able to benefit from them. They are not just drafted, but administered, too.

The report repeatedly denounces the policy for being aimed at detecting the bogus at the cost of harming the genuine. It states: In our view, however, the emphasis on the exclusion of the ineligible has gone too far. It has resulted not only in inconvenience—serious and costly as that can be—for genuine applicants, but in an unacceptably high level of risk that applicants who are in fact genuine can fail to satisfy the officer. In effect, the system is operated as if this is the more acceptable of the two basic possible kinds of error. The CRE is in no doubt about the result of all this. It declares that, as a result of those policies — all the phrases that I shall use are direct quotes from the report— the interests of race relations in the United Kingdom have been damaged, that this is a system which tends to be racially discriminatory in effect, that the Government's policy statements and staff guidance, contain built-in biases against some racial groups, that they create stress and fears among ethnic minority communities, and that controls operate to the disadvantage of some racial groups and to the detriment of race relations. That is the verdict of the body charged with assisting in race relations.

What is more, the CRE report pins the responsibility firmly where it belongs. It states: It would be entirely unjustified to place on staff the responsibility for the fundamental criticisms which can be made of the administration and operation of the control; the criticisms we have made are of the system that the staff operate, and we stress that distinction … The essential origins of the behaviour and decisions which have given rise to allegations of racism in the controls are the procedures and instructions themselves … they result from staff doing what is expected of them. What the report is saying, even if it does so delicately, is that we have a racialist system because we have racialist Ministers. Moreover, their racialism is motivated by the wish to prevent a tiny number of people—possibly no more than 5,000 in the first year and fewer after that—from coming to Britain—

Mr. Waddington

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Kaufman


Mr. Waddington


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)

Order. The Minister knows that if the right hon. Gentleman does not give way he cannot intervene.

Mr. Waddington

The right hon. Gentleman has made a serious allegation. He said that the trouble was caused by racialist Ministers. He is entitled to that opinion. I believe that it is nonsense, because, as I said, the control operates in much the same way as it did under the Labour Government. Of course, I am prepared to take his abuse, but he must not imply that the report states that the trouble is caused by racialist Ministers. It says nothing of the sort.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The right hon. Gentleman is not allowed to accuse the Minister of being racialist; what he said was that, in his judgment, the report was alleging that.

Mr. Kaufman

I repeat what the report states: The criticisms we have made are of the system that the staff operate … they result from staff doing what is expected of them. Who is expecting it? Who is in charge of the staff and who is responsible for them?

Mr. Martin M. Brandon-Bravo (Nottingham, South)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Kaufman

Never to the hon. Gentleman.

The report states, albeit delicately, what I have quoted. The Minister was good enough to refer to what I said in Manchester at the UKIAS conference. I repeat it now. This system will change, and change decisively. The Labour Government who will come into office after the next election will operate firm immigration controls. All democratic countries have such controls, and from my continuing and close contact with the ethnic minorities, I know that they support such controls. We shall remove the present legislation from the statute book and replace it with an Act which will be not only non-sexist, but anti-sexist. It will be not only non-racist, but anti-racist. Racism will not be tolerated at the posts abroad, at the ports of entry here, or in the Home Office itself. We intend to ensure that once this shameful Government are removed from office, no report such as this from the CRE will be possible, because the conditions that brought it about will be eliminated. That is the pledge that I give, and that is the pledge that we are determined to fulfil.

5.7 pm

Mr. Geoff Lawler (Bradford, North)

The unfortunate nature of immigration debates is that they tend to bring out the worst in some hon. Members. It is a pity that more rational terms cannot be used. Bandying insults about in the House does nothing for race relations.

Immigration policy and procedures are essential to race relations and harmony. The host community needs the reassurance that those who are not entitled to enter this country are excluded, that access to jobs and housing is protected and that the social. fabric will be sustained. People who are settled here and who seek to bring in relations or have visitors also need the reassurance that the right of access for visitors and relations is protected, so that they can enter the country unhindered. Increasingly, the two groups have merged. Those seeking to bring in relations or visitors are now part of the host community, but they are part of a host community that is disproportionately affected by unemployment and inadequate housing and therefore have even more reason to ensure that the social fabric is not strained to breaking point.

For those reasons, mass primary immigration has been abolished. That is accepted by all as necessary and desirable. However, the prevention of genuine visitors from coming into the country and the separation of genuine families is not necessary or desirable. We are questioning not the immigration rules, but how they are applied and their affect. We are considering the recognition of the right of husbands to join wives, wives to join husbands and children to join their parents. Those rights are not being questioned. We should not have had this report, nor should we be holding this debate, if the procedure used to effect those rules did not impinge upon those rights. The evidence, both from this report, flawed though it may be in many respects, and from my own experience and that of many hon. Members who have substantial ethnic minority communities in their constituencies, is that some of the procedures are flawed and sometimes impinge upon those genuine rights.

For example, in the city of Bradford there are 64 divided families in the Bangladesh community. Somewhere in Bangladesh 64 men have wives and families. As they would be the first to acknowledge, some of the blame must lie with them for the fact that those families are not united. They would readily admit now that they submitted false tax claims and misleading documentation, but it is still undeniably the case that with better advice and better productivity on the part of entry clearance officers in Dhaka those families could be reunited. It is a finite number. Therefore we should help to ensure that in future their applications do not fail through lack of evidence, or insufficient documentation, or confusion at interviews. The immigration department should help to unite those families.

If a wife in Sylhet in Bangladesh goes to Dhaka for an interview she knows that her case is genuine and she may therefore naively assume that she does not need to produce huge amounts of evidence. She is convinced of her case and does not realise how much detail is needed to persuade the ECO of her case. Therefore, it is important that those who apply to ECOs should be advised of all the documentation that they need to bring with them, including the documentation which is referred to in recommendation 5 of the report: that which, if available, would support the claim but is not essential. That is a crucial point. Time and time again I have come across cases where affidavits should have been obtained from important people. If the documentation that was not thought to be essential had been gathered together, confusion at interviews could have been avoided and cases could have been cleared. I hope that the immigration department will act upon that very important recommendation.

The immigration advisory services that are located in Mirpur and Sylhet have been mentioned at meetings with my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State and assurances have been received, but it is necessary to repeat how important it is that those advisory services should be provided with adequate staff and resources. By doing so, not only are applicants helped to get it right when they come to ECOs but the time of the ECOs is saved through not having to ask people to bring back the right documents or having to conduct subsequent interviews. The time that is saved would help to ensure that other families can be reunited, to say nothing of the anguish that could be prevented by not having to refuse applications.

The report also refers to the use of tape recorders. The answers that we have received from my hon. and learned Friend on the use of tape recorders are inadequate and unworthy. I see no reason why there should not be such an experiment as that which is being conducted by police forces in this country. A great deal of confusion would be saved if tape recordings were available at appeals.

Mr. Nellist

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Lawler

I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman after I have finished making this point.

It is surely nonsense that in 1985 all the documents and papers relating to immigration cases at our posts overseas are kept in files. Why are computers not installed in our overseas missions? They would greatly speed up the process of dealing with applications and would allow greater flexibility and overcome one of the major objections to having further missions in Sylhet and Mirpur. Only one terminal would be needed at the immigration advisory offices in those districts to enable cases to be dealt with far more speedily.

Mr. Nellist

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I have been pressing the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Home Office to introduce the tape recording of interviews? Is he also aware that there was an experiment in 1978? According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who wrote to the Select Committee on Home Affairs in 1982, the reason why tape recording was not introduced generally was because problems of extraneous noise and of operating with inadequate facilities suggested that recording of a suitable standard could only be produced by the use of sophisticated equipment in rooms which had been soundproofed. If those problems are encountered with tape recording, what about the problems involved in interviewing officers getting the interviews right in the first place?

Mr. Lawler

If that were a problem, I am sure that, because of the amount of extraneous noise that is generated, the proceedings of the House would not be broadcast. The hon. Gentleman's point should be re-examined by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It is worthy of the Government's attention.

In 1984, about 18,096 visitors were refused entry to this country. It was a tiny proportion of the total number of people who arrived. Entry was refused to about 1.1 per cent. of the total number of visitors from the Indian subcontinent. However, the figures do not indicate the number of people who are kept for a second interview and the length of time that they have to wait. I have visited terminal 3 on two occasions to see the immigration facilities. The majority of people go through the interview with no trouble. However, those who are kept for a second interview sometimes have to wait for hours and even days. That creates a great deal of anxiety not only for the visitors but for their sponsors, who are anxious and want to know what the visitors' fate will be.

Given the already generous attitude towards the granting of temporary admission—about 8,500 last year, or 47 per cent. — and given also the tiny number of those who abscond — last year 187, or 2 per cent., which was only a marginal increase on the year before — it is apparent to me that more inquiries could be made a few days after people had been admitted to this country, thus allowing the visitor to leave the airport with a sponsor. Recommendation 42 of the report asks for the removal of the distinction when allocating time limits on those visitors who are considered doubtful and those who are considered genuine. I would suggest the reverse. If all visitors who are considered doubtful were given temporary admission with a short time limit of two or three weeks to allow further inquiries to take place, they could take place locally and the final decision could be made known to them at the end of that short period. The exception to that would be those cases where the decision is immediately obvious—for example, the use of fraudulent documents, undesirable persons, and so on. Apart from the advantage of more local interviews, unnecessary waiting would be avoided for those who are eventually allowed entry into the country as genuine visitors.

Mr. John Carlisle

My hon. Friend must understand that there is a real difference between the genuine and the non-genuine visitor. He will know from his experience that some of those who are let in on temporary admission then disappear. They are not included in the official figures. If Her Majesty's Government were to follow the line advocated by my hon. Friend, whereby everybody came in for two or three weeks, does he not accept that substantial numbers could slip through the net and completely evade all immigration controls?

Mr. Lawler

I shall develop that point later and will answer my hon. Friend. However, one returns to the fact that a minute proportion of those who are given temporary admission abscond. Not the least advantage of this change of procedure would be that Members of Parliament would not be disturbed at midnight or at two o'clock in the morning by people telephoning from the airport. To contact Members of Parliament is not only highly inconvenient for hon. Members but is also grossly unfair to visitors to this country. According to the immigration authorities, about 80 or 85 per cent. of those coming from the Indian subcontinent are aware of how to contact their Member of Parliament. What about the other 15 per cent. who are not aware of the facility? Furthermore, what about the person who arrives, finds that the Member of Parliament's name and telephone number is not in his diary or that the Member of Parliament is away for the weekend, and who is due to be put on a flight back the next day?

Mr. Waddington

My hon. Friend raises an important point which worries many hon. Members, but is he aware of the legal difficulty here? People tend to imagine that temporary admission means granting a visit. In fact, it is an alternative to detention when it has already been adjudged that the person is not a visitor. My hon. Friend must realise, therefore, that the course that he suggests would involve changing the law so that people found not to be visitors can still be admitted.

Mr. Lawler

People regarded as doubtful on arrival are usually given temporary admission as a result of representations by a Member of Parliament. We need to find a way of avoiding the need always to contact a Member of Parliament. If temporary admittance is given on a very limited basis for two or three weeks, the person's passport being marked accordingly, the inquiries could take place locally without the Member of Parliament having to be involved. It is difficult to make a considered judgment when one is telephoned at 2 am, so representations tend to be made automatically. In other words, Members of Parliament have to vouch for people whom they do not really know so as not to deny those people the right to have their cases examined. In my experience such people usually have very good reasons for being here and the vast majority prove to be genuine visitors or leave as soon as they are instructed to do so.

The number of representations that I have made must run into more than three figures, but I have been let down only once in the past two years. On that occasion, the sponsor and the local Bangladesh community association joined me in appealing for the gentleman in question to give himself up because they felt they had been betrayed.

If the admittance procedures are changed, the Home Office rather than the Member of Parliament will bear the responsibility for admitting people who may abscond. The opportunity for further investigation of a person's case should not depend on the sponsor having the Member's name in his diary and hoping that the Member is not on a delegation to Silesia and his agent on a fishing weekend.

Mr. Terry Dicks (Hayes and Harlington)

My hon. Friend seems to be unaware that under the present system an incoming immigrant can apply to any Member of Parliament. Heathrow airport is in my constituency. When I have refused to intervene in a case because I do not regard it as justified, the people in question have gone to another Member who has then intervened on their behalf, so the pressure on particular Members of Parliament is non-existent.

Mr. Lawler

We have all been contacted on behalf of other hon. Members' constituents. Nevertheless, the system is grossly unfair. We know that 15 per cent. of these people do not contact any Member of Parliament. I am sure that many of them, if they cannot contact a particular Member, then get flummoxed and do not know how to get hold of another. The system clearly needs revision.

In conclusion, I appreciate the pressure-to-emigrate argument and it should not be dismissed, but it is increasingly difficult for Members of Parliament to explain to second generation members of the Asian community why they have to contact their Member of Parliament if they wish to have a visitor to this country, when they have only to look at the white friends with whom they went to school and competed for jobs to know that they pay the same taxes and have the same responsibilities so they must have the same rights.

I hope that the Government will not dismiss the report out of hand but will make a very detailed response. The report is not perfect. It has many flaws, but it deals with areas of genuine concern to a significant proportion of our citizens and it identifies procedures which in some cases may hinder people obtaining that to which they are entitled. That is why the procedure must be reviewed. The immigration rules allow genuine visitors and dependants to enter this country. We must ensure that the operation of those rules does not have the opposite effect.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for hon. Members to take so long when so many others wish to speak in a very short debate? Will you ask Members to be brief?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman should know that Mr. Speaker has already asked for brevity.

Hon. Members

The hon. Gentleman has only just arrived.

Mr. Corbyn

I have been here throughout the debate.

5.25 pm
Mr. Robert Litherland (Manchester, Central)

I shall be extremely brief because I appreciate that many hon. Members wish to speak in this important but short debate.

Many hon. Members will have seen people who regularly attend their advice bureaux from divided families, seeking assistance. In my constituency in inner Manchester the problem is so great that it has been recognised by Manchester city council, which recently sponsored two solicitors from the law centre to investigate cases of denial of entry to fiancés or husbands.

The solicitors' report makes remarkable reading. They attended entry clearance interviews. In relation to fiancés, the report explodes the myth that people are falling over themselves in their desire to enter the country and eagerly waiting for the next plane. In fact, many were reluctant to come because it meant giving up their homes and jobs. Many were under pressure from the fiancé's family already resident in the United Kingdom, to leave their home country and be united with their loved ones. That finding is contrary to all the Home Office propaganda about fiancés being anxious to come to this country.

A more sinister aspect revealed in the report was the nature of the role played by the embassy and the Home Office in Pakistan, which appeared to cause great confusion. The solicitors found that the process for gaining entrance to the United Kingdom was never explained to anybody. The law centre representatives felt that it was in the embassy's interest to create and perpetuate confusion, which would make a refusal much easier. Even after an applicant had been refused entrance, he or she was not told how long an appeal would take. In such cases, fiancés are aggrieved because they cannot plan for the future. The two solicitors concluded that the embassy visa section regarded its role not as a processer of applications having a neutral profile but rather as an apparatus to block Pakistani immigrants coming to the United Kingdom.

The solicitors stated: We were frankly appalled by the organisation of the Embassy and the conduct of the ECOs. In the absence of any collective opposition in Pakistan and distanced from the opposition in the United Kingdom to immigration controls the Embassy appeared even more powerful and confident than the Home Office itself. Applicants are treated atrociously. The Embassy opens at 8 am. Queues begin to form outside from about 7 am. Many people would have travelled hundreds of miles to get to the Embassy for their entry clearance interviews. Indeed a previous journey would have to have been made—as the Embassy insists that the original forms have to be completed at the Embassy itself. There are no definite appointment times. There are no facilities for children—although over half the people there are children. There are no drinks or food available in the Embassy. People in the waiting room are not informed as to what is happening. The waiting room itself is dark and tatty. It feels exactly like a police waiting room—except that on the walls there are travel posters about the beauty of Britain and the efficiency of British Airways! The waiting room itself is used by Embassy officials to attend to those people who have come to complete their application forms. A consequence of this is that everyone in the waiting room is privy to the details of the applicant's private life. After what may be several hours, those people who have come for their actual entry clearance interview are summoned to see an Entry Clearance Officer. From our own observations we can say that the 'interviews' are more in the form of an interrogation—either a subtle or a heavy interrogation. The assumption is that the applicants are always lying. The report goes on to highlight many misgivings about the procedures involved. I have studied its observations and believe that the entry clearance officers use those procedures to cause delay, even if the law is on the side of those who apply to enter the United Kingdom. If and when the city council submits the report to the Home Office, I trust that the Home Secretary will study its findings carefully. The report is not negative but makes recommendations to alleviate a problem that causes so much human misery and involves a procedure that is quite inhumane.

5.30 pm
Mr. Nicholas Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)

The casual observer who listened to our debates, and who heard the noise and, on occasion, the abuse—although I am sure that it would be within order—would conclude that the two great parties were vastly divided on this issue, and that when in office, they always behaved quite differently from each other. He would also conclude that there was no element of consensus and that there was never any attempt by either party to trim. But the casual observer would be all too wrong.

My hon. and learned Friend the Minister was very fair when he pointed out that, despite all the noise that the Labour party made in the 1970s, it was often much firmer when in office in imposing immigration controls than, in particular, my hon. and learned Friend's predecessor. I can see the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) sitting on the Labour Benches. She was a civil servant in the Home Office, and is married to Mr. Alex Lyon. Mr. Lyon fell out with the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Callaghan), because the latter was in favour of stricter immigration controls. If a casual observer listened to what the Labour party is now saying, it would be difficult for him to remember that when it was in power, it did its level best to control immigration. It did not do as much as I might have wished—

Ms. Clare Short

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will cast his mind back to the time when my husband was a Minister at the Home Office. At that time we had a Home Secretary who failed to implement the Labour party's policy on the reform of our immigration law. Perhaps I should remind the House which party that right hon. Member now belongs to. That Home Secretary is now the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins). He defied Labour party policy and failed to implement it, and then left our party and joined another party that would like to claim that it has a pure record on such matters.

Mr. Budgen

The hon. Lady has made my point. When in office, Ministers come under the civilised influence of the Home Office and are away from the vulgarity of the electorate. Consequently, they start trimming towards the middle. The Labour party certainly did it, and this Government have done it, too, to a marked extent. There was a clear commitment to control immigration in certain specified ways in our 1979 manifesto. The 1980 immigration rules represented a slight deviation from the promises of 1979, while the 1983 rules represented a very substantial deviation from them. Before the 1983 rules came into effect, the Government in the last Parliament suffered its only defeat on the Floor of the House—[Interruption.] I played a small part in that defeat, and I do not apologise for that. In the argybargy that followed the defeat of those rules, there was discussion, in particular, of the position of Asian fiancés.

I was pleased to hear my hon. and learned Friend the Minister say, I think, for the first time, that he regards fiancés as being primary immigrants. That is what they are, because they have a right to bring their dependants into the country at a later stage. There was substantial discussion about whether marriage should be a reason for entry. Indeed, there was a lot of discussion about marriages of convenience and about arranged marriages. Eventually, a compromise was reached, which was a substantial derogation from the promises made before the 1979 election.

I recognise that my hon. and learned Friend the Minister was the architect of the 1983 compromise and has been the administrator of those rules. In my opinion, the compromise has worked quite well. One sign of that is that the Government Benches are not very full. If the compromise had not worked, and there was a general feeling throughout the country that immigration control had been substantially relaxed, these Benches would have been full of angry Tories— —

Ms. Clare Short

If the Daily Express ran a campaign, they would be.

Mr. Budgen

I do not think that the Daily Express will run a campaign, because there is not the public concern to justify it, to make it popular or to sell more copies of the Daily Express.

But even my hon. and learned Friend the Minister is not wholly immune to the elevated atmosphere of the Home Office. As he comes to believe that he will be entitled to his car in the next twenty years and as he sees his friends, the senior civil servants in the Home Office, as more important and persuasive than his vulgar Back-Bench colleagues, he will no doubt begin to feel that all-pervasive pressure to trim towards the centre. My objective is to ask him not to do that, because sufficient trimming has already been done. But it is obvious that two important new forces for trimming will be exerted on him.

The first is the argument by the Member of Parliament for a bit more peace and quiet. My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Lawler) might like to listen to my next point, as it is really an answer to him. He was saying, in effect, that representing a constituency in which many Asians are resident can sometimes be very inconvenient. It certainly can be, but no one forces us to represent such constituencies, and when we do so, we perfectly well understand that our Asian constituents may ring us up at very inconvenient times.

I operate the system as carefully and as fairly as I can, and without any prejudice against those who telephone me. Indeed, I am a frequent telephoner to the Home Office. Of course it is an inconvenient system; in some respects it is an arbitrary system. Like most things, it is not perfect. But I do not think that major relaxation of the rules, simply on the ground that the present system is inconvenient to Members of Parliament, is something that anyone would wish to sustain.

The second argument to trim is that the Asian community is becoming more and more successful, richer and richer and that they are now—I am pleased to say—becoming natural Tories. Sometimes my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister talks about the failure of the British people to live up to her shopkeeping ideals. She says that they do not work hard enough. That is true, but it is part of the splendid nature of the British people and I do not condemn them for a moment. But the very people who live up to my right hon. Friend's Victorian ideals are the Asians. I expect that an increasing number of them will vote Tory, rather in the way that in previous generations the Jews have voted Tory.

Just as the Government are perfectly able, on occasions, to disagree politely with our friends the farmers or our friends the small business men, so we can politely disagree with our friends the Asians. There is all too often an attitude in the Asian community that says, "Yes, we are in favour of strict control of immigration. Yes, we understand that that is necessary so that we may enjoy the benefits of a peaceful and cohesive society. But will you please let my daughter's boy friend in because he is a special case?" We must be firm about that. Of course we must be polite, and of course we must avoid being offensive — as we should avoid being offensive to farmers when they want rather higher prices for their cereals. We are perfectly capable of disagreeing with those who support us.

I hope that my hon. and learned Friend will reach the conclusion that the Tory party has trimmed enough, that we now have a perfectly sustainable settlement and that no matter how elevated the influences that will be brought to bear upon him, we should stick to the settlement.

5.43 pm
Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)

Thirty out of every 100 of my constituents originate from the Indian subcontinent or from Afro-Caribbean countries. There is hardly a family among them that has not been touched by our immigration laws, rules and procedures. Each has a bitter complaint to make; each has a personal indictment of the immigration laws that we believe are racist and sexist.

We are told by the Home Secretary and other Ministers that the immigration and nationality laws are firm and fair. That has been repeated today. I refer them to a letter that has been sent to many hon. Members by the United Kingdom immigration advisory service. Commenting on the expression that firm and fair immigration controls mean good race relations, it states: it is essentially a view of race relations from the point of view of the white majority. What it fails to take into account is the alienation from British society felt by those who are British citizens, or lawfully settled in the United Kingdom but who find that they are unable to be united with their loved ones because of the obstacles inherent in the present operation of the immigration control procedures. Nor does the statement … take account of the alienation felt by sponsors, often long-established within their communities in the United Kingdom who may find themselves (far more often than those from other groups) at the 'sharp end' of an aggressive interrogation system when they go to meet relatives or visitors at Heathrow airport. Good race relations is a two-way process". The indictment in the report that we are debating is that the authors of that valuable document believe that our current immigration control procedures are counter-productive in good race relations. It is a paradox that on the one hand the Home Office is seeking to promote good race relations, while on the other it is the political master of immigration control procedures that are acting decisively against good race relations.

The main finding of the report is that immigration control procedures place too much emphasis on preventing evasion and not enough on ensuring that genuine applicants and bona fide passengers can exercise their rights. Some of the matters to which the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) referred are not about the convenience of Members of Parliament. When we ask for greater use of the power of temporary admission, we are not concerned about the convenience of those who seek to come here as genuine visitors. We want to improve their convenience by allowing them to escape from Heathrow airport where they are detained for hours, even for days, to enable proper inquiries to be made, which, in most cases, confirm that they are genuine visitors entitled to visit the United Kingdom to see their relatives and friends.

In arguing for a just, fair and non-discriminatory immigration policy for the many people who originate from ethnic countries, we are not doing so to sustain or support the Conservative party. Many of the policies that the Government are implementing, especially high interest rates, are hitting hardest the businesses run by the ethnic minority communities. Indeed, our debate on Monday was nothing to do with giving customers a wider choice; it was about hitting the wages and conditions of those working in retail shops. That will hit the ethnic minorities very hard. It gives the green light to large, multi-retail outlets and supermarkets to trade seven days a week.

We want immigration control and entry clearance procedures that are operated by staff who respond sensitively and faithfully to political control—arid the political control stems from the Home Office and the Foreign Office, and it needs to be changed decisively. We must have immigration and entry clearance procedures that do not discriminate in the way that has been highlighted in the debate.

Unlike so many of those Conservative Members who face me, I am not a Queen's counsel or a solicitor—

Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West)

There are some behind my hon. Friend.

Mr. Madden

Indeed. I suggest that undoubtedly the QCs and solicitors sitting behind me will agree that the primary purpose test is a grotesquely unfair administrative procedure that has been introduced deliberately to minimise the number of fiancés allowed to enter this country. The Government should remove this grotesquely unfair test. We have heard much about the courts today. I am told that such leading questions would be inadmissible in court.

Mr. Janner

It is not just that the questions are unclear and misleading; they are often asked in a language that the person who is expected to answer does not understand properly, so it is often quite impossible for that person to give an acceptable answer. That is one reason why the system is grossly unfair.

Mr. Madden

I am pleased to have confirmation from a prominent QC.

Those of us who represent ethnic minorities know that current procedures encourage entry clearance officers to refuse applications on the basis of answers in response to leading questions, without making sufficient effort to get relevant evidence. The result has been that many genuine arrangements for marriage and many marriages have been thrown into tatters. The United Kingdom immigration advisory service and many other organisations believe that the primary purpose rules are unworkable in the arranged marriage system on the Indian subcontinent and should be amended so that the requirement is simply that marriages should be genuine. That is the united view of Labour Members.

The fact of divided families sits uneasily with the bland assurances of the Prime Minister and the Government about their belief in the unity of the family. Men are often separated for several years from their wives and children. I know the difficulties of trying to explain to Ministers why a man in Britain should want to bring in a middle-aged woman and several children if they are not his wife and children. The Home Office, the immigration service and entry clearance officers insist on refusing to accept that the bulk of applications are genuine. The reasons for the long delays are utterly unconvincing. The queues could be swept away if there was the political will to do that.

In the past few months, the injury has been compounded by the Government's introduction of a fee for entry clearance. People have to wait for interviews, in which they are treated in a dismissive and disparaging way, and have to pay for the privilege of being interviewed. Long delays in interviewing applicants, inquisitorial methods, scant regard to documentary evidence of relevant issues and extremely unsatisfactory methods of reporting interviews are factors which unjustifiably enhance the restrictiveness of the immigration rules applicable to wives and children. Most applicants are assumed to be bogus. I have been told that many immigration and entry clearance officers work from the premise of applicants being deceitful and dishonest.

I support those hon. Members who have urged the tape recording of interviews. The arguments that have been used opposing my representations on this matter are utterly unconvincing. I hope that there will be progress with the tape recording of interviews and that, in the meantime, notes of entry clearance officers will be readily available, especially for appeal procedures. I am glad that the CRE has recommended that arrangements should be made for tape recordings, as did the Select Committee on Home Affairs several years ago.

I should like to do some special pleading. In Yorkshire, we have many people in the ethnic minorities, particularly from the Indian subcontinent. Many of them face great difficulties as a result of the present arrangements. I hope that the Home Office can look sympathetically at the possibility of designating Leeds-Bradford airport as a port of entry. In that event, more flexible temporary admission rules would enable interviews to be conducted at Leeds-Bradford if we had more immigration officers there.

I should like more funds to be made available to the United Kingdom immigration advisory service so that it can expand its office in Leeds or a second office elsewhere in Yorkshire. We have heard much about the Government's views and their support for non-discrimination. All their appeals and statements will fall on stony ground, however, unless they respond much more willingly to the recommendations of the CRE report.

I welcome the debate, but I am sorry that the Minister of State rushed to the television studios before the ink on the report was dry to condemn it forthrightly. He described it as utterly flawed and unrealistic. He started with restraint, but his basic instincts took over later in his speech and in some of his interventions. I regret that, and it will be bad news for some of his hon. Friends who assiduously seek electoral support from the Asian community.

In a speech to the Monday Club, the Home Secretary said: We utterly reject racialism, or cruel, discriminatory conduct of any kind against any human being". The joint council for the welfare of immigrants says in a briefing which has been sent to all hon. Members: These public statements, and the government's other commitments to preserve family life and the rights of the individual, need to be backed up by action to prevent the rights of black and Asian settlers here from being diminished by administrative means. That is the indictment in the report. The Government are discriminating against black and Asian people, especially women, by administrative means. I urge the Government to respond sympathetically to the CRE's recommendations and, above all, to the appeals of Labour and some Conservative Members. These matters lie at the heart of good race relations. We need not crocodile tears and soggy speeches from the Home Secretary but decisive action to implement recommendations which would radically improve race relations and do a great deal to repair the lamentable performance of successive Governments. It is not our task to apologise for the deeds of past Labour Governments.

Mr. Brandon-Bravo

Why not?

Mr. Madden

Because we are pledged to the commitments which the shadow Home Secretary made today. I assure the ethnic minorities that we are pledged to those commitments. Given success at the next general election, we shall carry them out. 6 pm

Mr. Warren Hawksley (The Wrekin)

I have a constituency interest in the problems of immigration. There are about 4,000 immigrants in my area, but before becoming the hon. Member for The Wrekin, I fought the constituency of Wolverhampton, North-East on two occasions, so I have some insight into the problems that we are debating.

In discussing this issue, we should at the outset thank the Minister and the officials of his Department for the way in which these matters are dealt with. The immigration officers, particularly at Heathrow No. 3 terminal also deserve our thanks. It is my experience, when taking up cases with them, that they are extremely helpful. They do a difficult job to the best of their ability.

I welcome hon. Members being involved in these issues and I sympathise with my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Lawler) who said that he did not welcome being woken up during the night to have to deal with such problems. The Minister was right to say that all the aeroplanes seem to arrive at the same time. Indeed, they all seem to arrive during bank holidays. Problems seem to arise at inconvenient times.

I hold two strong views on this issue. First, immigration should be restricted more than it is at present. Considering that we live in a crowded island and have 3 million unemployed, we should take a stronger, rather than a weaker, line. Secondly, in terms of the race industry, as I call it, the report of the Commission for Racial Equality does more harm than good. Using the law, bullying and threatening does not make anybody love his or her neighbour. Indeed, the indigenous population can think that they are becoming second-class citizens. Such action is harmful to race relations.

What was the cost of the report? It seems to go beyond the ambit of what I expected the CRE to do. The bias of the report could result in it being used as a nail in the coffin of the commission, a body which costs £10 million of taxpayers' money every year. I hope that we shall see, as a result of the report, a slashing of its budget.

The report implies, wrongly, that good race relations can be brought about by allowing in large numbers of immigrants or by being soft on illegal immigrants and overstayers. That is not true. Many immigrants in my constituency with whom I have spoken support my immigration views. They want no additional protection under the law beyond that given to the indigenous population, and they do not want illegal immigrants to be let off. They want them found and returned to their countries of origin. They believe that that is the way forward if we are to have harmony, and they are right.

I recently dealt with a case which the Minister may recall. The immigration authorities suddenly arrested the local imam from the mosque in my constituency. When I investigated the case, he admitted that, under another name, he had been deported by the last Labour Home Secretary and that in yet another name he had tried to re-enter the country. He then turned up in Telford as the local imam. It was a fascinating case because he was apprehended not by the police but by his own community. Members of the mosque made a complaint to the immigration authorities about him being an illegal immigrant.

That shows how important it is to apprehend illegal immigrants and overstayers. The Government are wrong to step back slightly. They should use the police to carry out that type of work. The Government should use all agencies to enforce the law because better race relations are brought about by the enforcement of the law and by returning illegal immigrants and overstayers.

Ms. Clare Short

Has the hon. Gentleman read the CRE report that he denounces so roundly? Is he aware that it makes no reference to illegal immigrants and does not appeal for such immigrants to be given additional rights? It appeals for the decent treatment of people who, in theory, have the right to visit their families, to marry or to join their families here. He denounces the report but speaks only of illegal immigrants, when the report is not about that issue.

Mr. Hawksley

The hon. Lady appears not to have read the report. The recommendation at page 108 is clear: The interests of race and community relations should weigh heavily on the planning and conduct of large-scale action carried out to trace overstayers and illegal entrants. I am not saying that the report is desirable. Recommendation 50 suggests that we should go soft on catching illegal immigrants and overstayers.

Mr. Janner

It is unfair on the commission for the hon. Gentleman to read only those parts of a passage that suit his case. At page 108, the report adds: In saying this, we are not seeking to protect people who enter or remain in the United Kingdom illegally from discovery or from other adverse consequences of their actions. Why is the hon. Gentleman trying to mislead the House about the views of the CRE?

Mr. Hawksley

I was answering the intervention of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) who claimed that the report did not mention illegal immigrants and overstayers. I showed that it did.

Ms. Clare Short


Mr. Hawksley

I will not give way to the hon. Lady again because time is limited and Mr. Speaker has urged us to be as brief as possible.

I have shown the hon. Lady where the report deals with these issues, even though, in my view, the report is wrong. It is also wrong to try to exclude pressure-to-emigrate countries from special attention because it is realistic for the Government to explain that that is where the problems originate. It is logical, therefore, that we should put our resources into trying to catch those who are defying the law.

Two points have arisen in cases that I have taken up. Immigration officers might take more notice of those who, on coming in, are particularly frightened and nervous. An example of such a person came to my attention last weekend. An Indian arrived and claimed to be married. Everybody knew that he was not married—

Ms. Clare Short


Mr. Hawksley

—and when challenged, he said that the only reason why he had said he was married was that a fellow passenger on the plane had told him, "If you have any problems with immigration control, do not worry. Just say you are married and you will get in." He did that, and was led into great difficulty as a result. Hon. Members should do more to explain, particularly to the sponsors, that they must ensure that those who are coming as visitors and immigrants must be totally honest and not give answers which they think the immigration officers want to hear.

The second problem is that of language. There are occasions when interpreters are not sufficiently expert. I do not have a strong view on the question whether tape recorders should be used, but we should ensure that facilities are provided which enable interpreters to respond to all the dialects with which they are likely to come into contact.

When something goes wrong and there is trouble with visitors or immigrants, are the respective Members of Parliament informed of developments? I ask that because in the six years that I have been a Member of Parliament there has been only one occasion when the Home Office told me that someone, whose case I had taken up, had absconded and disappeared. I got hold of the sponsor and within 24 hours he had frogmarched the person down to the police station. In fact, he had escaped from detention. I hope that the Department advises the Member of Parliament who has made representations when a case goes wrong, and whether the person overstays or, if called back, does not appear. It would be helpful to us to have that information.

The present procedures are right. The way forward is to support them. The report should be ignored, and we should go forward supporting the Government's proposals, which are fair and will lead to better race relations all around.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. Before I call the next speaker it may be for the convenience of the House to know that the Opposition Front Bench spokesman will seek to catch my eye at 6.40 pm. There have been some rather long speeches. I ask those who follow to be brief.

6.11 pm
Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)

The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) spoke of the two great parties, and the increase in the number of people in immigrant communities who are moving towards being natural Tory voters. It rang a little hollow on a day when one of the parties to which I presume he was referring is lying third behind the other two in the opinion polls. I am forced to the conclusion that the two great parties that the hon. Gentleman talked about exclude the Conservatives.

I approach the debate on the following premise. In the community that is the United Kingdom, or in the community of a constituency—that applies to almost everybody's constituency, certainly my own of Southwark and Bermondsey just over the river—the majority of people are white and are not immigrants. Yet almost every single case that comes before us, which raises questions of immigration procedures, concerns someone from Asia, Africa or the Caribbean—certainly someone who is not white — who has to go to his family's Member of Parliament so that the matter may be considered.

The history so far of my relatively short time in the House shows that, with one or two exceptions only, it is clear that there is injustice, discrimination and unfair and unjustifiable treatment primarily to immigrants from the poorest Commonwealth and other countries, and primarily to communities that are black or brown—the Asian or African communities.

Nobody has advocated that controls should not be required. The CRE report does not suggest that for a moment. It is amazing to hear the sort of comment that we heard from the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Hawksley). He showed his true colours, arguing that the CRE should be abolished. He believes that race equality in Britain is now so perfect that no watchdog body which is independent of Government is required to stand up for the minority ethnic communities. That is an appalling position to take up when there is blatant discrimination against them on every day of every week and every year.

Ms. Clare Short

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hughes

Let me press on. The hon. Lady might get a chance to speak in a second.

Ms. Short

No chance.

Mr. Hughes

The next thing that is clear is that the report was born because there was a need for an objective report. It was a good and thorough piece of work, and in no way produced conclusions that are extremist, unreasonable or unsupported. To argue that the Government should not be disposed to accept what is proposed as a set of recommendations, and for the Government to try to resist what is in every way a reasonable set of proposals is a wholly unacceptable attitude.

I have to say this, and Labour Members have confirmed it. Governments of both parties have not lived up to their pledges. In the interests of the immigrant communities, I hope that in future Governments will live up to the pledges that they make. However, as long as they confuse immigration laws with nationality, that will never be possible. The starting point for putting right what is wrong is getting our law on nationality into good order and dealing with immigration controls in the way that was intended.

There is no reason why treatment of the community of people who are our European neighbours and partners, and their families and relatives, with their rights to bring their families in and out of this country, should not be the same as for the community of people who are our Commonwealth partners. There is an illogicality in believing that the community that has been established longer should be treated less favourably than the Community to which we have given access more recently.

The report argues clearly that people who come here as immigrants, whether as visitors, to join their families or, in the normal course of events, to settle here, should be treated as individuals with rights, and fairly and decently. They should be treated free of bias, and in a way that takes into account where they come from, but does not determine their treatment. They should not be treated in a stereotyped manner because they come from Dhaka, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, or because they are Tamils, and so on, of which there is evidence. It is unacceptable for the presumption often to be that if somebody happens to be unable to speak English and comes from a certain country, and cannot easily present his case, he should get a much less fair deal than many others who come to our ports of entry.

As the commission rightly says, at the end of the day there must be discretion by the Government. However, my colleagues and I entirely support the CRE's conclusion that that discretion must be limited as far as possible, and that the more clear-cut the expression of rights in the rules is, and the less hedged about with provisos and limitations they are, the better. People need to have rights and to know what the rights are.

The other essential point is that, if unfair discrimination is to be avoided, decisions about individuals should not be prejudiced by judgments about the groups of which they are members or with which they are associated, even if those judgments appear well founded. It is unfair to presume that people are bogus or dishonest applicants. As every hon. Member who has argued this case has said—even those from the right of the political spectrum—the number of people who come here and abuse their entitlement is minuscule. In the two and a quarter years since I have been in the House, I have heard of only one such person. The matter came up last Friday at my advice centre. The person to whom I wrote asking whether he could help me find a woman who had gone to ground said that he and his relatives were going out twice daily to try to ensure that she was returned home. Those people know that what they do reflects on their community. In the interests of good race relations, they want to make sure that others appreciate the diversity of races, and respect them, and do not regard them as abusers of the law and the rules.

The primary purpose rule has been condemned. It has been proved to be ludicrous on many occasions. There is the case of the British wife and the Moroccan husband, which the Minister knows. She tried almost-everything to try to show that the primary purpose of getting married was not just to get him into this country, but they wanted to get married because they loved each other. How can she prove that, when at the same time the rules are reversed, as it were, when a British husband is trying to get his foreign wife into this country. Next Tuesday the European Court of Human Rights should make a judgment that will condemn the Government yet again for being inconsistent and discriminatory on grounds of sex. The court will say that the Government have to change the law. I hope that they will respond much more quickly than the Home Office normally does when, yet again, it has been found to be at fault. The sooner we have a Bill of Rights, the less regularly will we have such ludicrous discrimination.

That case brought one other thing to light. It brought to light an example — there are many — of the most appalling discriminatory treatment by a member of the Home Office staff. Of course, it does not happen every day, and I do not tar everyone with the same brush. However, allegations were made that that official said things such as, "I do not like north Africans," and, "I do not like your husband."

It has also now been accepted by the Home Office that the person's attitude, and the way in which his investigation was carried out, was "indiscreet and over-zealous".

Those words were used by someone in the Home Office. Such an attitude is unacceptable. For as long as the immigration service includes officials who behave in that way, is it surprising that the immigrant communities feel that they are not treated fairly? Is it surprising that we complain when a British woman who is married to a Turk has her house visited in the middle of the night by officials to ascertain whether she is living with her husband? Is that the type of treatment that we believe reflects the civilised democracy to which we lay so regular a claim? Is it fair that the treatment of a man who wants to marry someone from, say, Mauritius is much less good than if each of the partners was in that country when they first decided to marry? In every case, those who come, whether as students or visitors, abide by the rules. They come here for good reasons. [Interruption.] In nearly every case they are let in only because Members of Parliament are telephoned about the matter and decide to make representations. By the time those representations have been made and considered, the two or three-week holiday has passed or the study visit has been achieved.

Post-entry controls work in an unfair and discriminatory manner. One of my constituents was arrested and held for a considerable time because the officials believed that he was his brother. They did not bother to check the details accurately at the beginning of the case to discover that the two people lived at different addresses. It is not right that one community should have this type of specific control when other communities would in no way accept that control.

The report is about good relations. The Minister talks about exercising discretion. Take the case of a woman who was admitted to Britain as a visitor and married a man. who had a right to be here, who deserted her, leaving with two children who had been born and brought up here. She lives in a community which is almost entirely white, as parts of my constituency in Rotherhithe are, which says, "In the interests of a good community, this Ugandan lady should not be sent home." Yet, so far at least, the discretion of the Home Office has not been exercised in favour of that family.

The sooner we respect the rights of the less privileged to have equal treatment and realise that the comments of other people should be listened to seriously and with interest, the better. I hope that the Home Office will realise that the sooner it is regarded as the upholder of the rights and privileges of all citizens, and not just those best able to argue for themselves, the better.

6.22 pm
Mr. Martin M. Brandon-Bravo (Nottingham, South)

The saddest aspect of this subject is that, unless one follows current convention and swallows without question the endless outpourings of the race relations industry, one is, at best, bombarded with unpleasant epithets and, at worst, one fears for family and self.

There is a large ethnic minority in my constituency, and our city of Nottingham is multi-origin, multinational and multi-creed. It is a great and colourful city. It has problems with sections of some—I stress the word "some"—of those minority groups. Those troubles lie with only a minority of a minority and they must not be allowed to be blown up out of all proportion. In a thoughtful article, Mr. Tom Hastie, a former ILEA officer, said: The level of alleged racism in any given society will vary in direct proportion to the number of people handsomely paid to find it. Sadly, that is our experience in Nottingham where such people revel in the inanimate title of "chair".

We heard from the Opposition Front Bench the most cynical manipulation of human expectations for purely party political purposes — regardless of the damage to general harmony or to the welfare of the minority communities. Saddest of all is the distress that is caused to those within the minority communities who seek only to be part of, to contribute to and to be accepted by the host community.

Mr. Janner


Mr. Brandon-Bravo

The host community.

The debate should be not on the law as it is but on how it is applied and whether it is fairly applied. I believe that, in general, the people charged with applying the law try to be fair. But they, too, are human beings.I doubt whether any hon. Member, whatever the side of the House from which he speaks, would do an immigration officer's job day in day out without making an error and without tapping pencils on desks. They are, indeed, human beings.

There was much of merit in the report. I share the views of colleagues who urge Ministers not to dismiss it in its entirety. Let us take from that report that which is good. Equally, there is much in the report that I beg to question. From my experience in Nottingham, I cannot understand why the report referred to "no contact" with Inland Revenue. The Inland Revenue has ready access to the rest of us. It seems perfectly reasonable to ask for the names of children and family trees. The sooner we obtain the truth about a case, the better.

I have been asked, "Please, Mr. Brandon-Bravo, I would like a three-month holiday." On application to the Minister, that three-month holiday has been granted, only for me to receive, eight or nine weeks later, the request, "May I have another six months?" These matters cause doubt and concern, and it is not unreasonable for people to be suspicious.

The right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) asked three questions as though, in some way, none of us has ever been faced with the problem of dealing with sham marriages. I refer the right hon. Gentleman to page 183 of the report.

In annex B the immigration service rightly concludes: There is no reason to believe that the incidence of evasion will decrease to any marked extent, for while the pressure to emigrate for economic reasons from Third World countries remains, developed countries will continue to be subjected to determined efforts at settlement by unentitled potential immigrants. That is not an unreasonable statement, and we cannot simply ignore it.

On Tuesday there was a mass lobby in Parliament which was supported by the Opposition parties. I do not believe that the total abolition of our immigration laws would be in the best interests of the population as a whole.

Mr. Alfred Dubs (Battersea)

We never said that.

Mr. Brandon-Bravo

I know that it is not in the interests of our minority communities either.

6.28 pm
Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall)

As hon. Members know, I am involved, perhaps more than any other hon. Member, in immigration questions. The Minister must be a little weary of writing my name almost daily. I have said to the hon. and learned Gentleman that I have always regarded the job of immigration Minister as a tough job, whatever the Government. The Minister must not just allay the fears of one section of the Conservative party. Conservative Members are not here in great numbers but, on the equality of spouses, they have shown themselves in previous debates to be sexist and anti-women's rights. That is the way in which they have addressed the problem concerning the unity of the sexes — whether a woman may decide. This principle is enshrined in the European convention on human rights. The changes in the rules are due more to that convention than to the magnanimity of the Minister of State or the Prime Minister. It was observed that there were prima facie cases of a contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights. In order to put that right, there has been a reversion — in a fashion — to the concept of the equality of the spouses. As a result, a number of people have entered the country.

I asked on one occasion whether priority would be given to husbands as a result. The question of the primary purpose of the union was less difficult to answer in such cases, especially when children had been produced. A wife who was living here might well have met her mate on a visit overseas. Those who work for British Airways or Air India find it easy to obtain cheap flights back to the land of their parents or grandparents, and unions may be made in that way. In my view, there is a strong movement away from the old-fashioned concept of the arranged marriage. It is a rule that the couple are required to have met each other before marriage, but there is evidence of blockage in cases where there has been considerable correspondence between the male and the female.

The Minister says, quite fairly, that this debate will have some bearing on the Home Secretary's response to the CRE's report. The CRE is closely involved with the matter, and I hope that the Minister will listen to the views expressed on both sides of the House. I have never approached this question in a partisan way. I have written a book on the question and I was involved some years back with the Race Relations and Immigration Sub-Committee. The Committee struggled to achieve unanimity. My prime purpose at that time was to take the question out of the cockpit of party antagonism.

The Minister is right. There has been no fundamental difference on the matter. I ask the Minister to take a cool look at the matter. He is charged with responsibility not only for the administration of the immigration rules, but for race relations. The Minister has made it clear that he does not wholly agree with the report—some people are sceptical about some of the phrases used in it—but he must take note of the report and the attitude of the United Kingdom immigration advisory service, which is funded by the Home Office to advise people in this country and overseas on their lawful rights.

The CRE was set up under the Labour Government's Race Relations Act 1976. The two parties were united about the basic ideas in the Act, although there were some differences. Lord Whitelaw, who was then Home Secretary, accepted many of the arguments put forward by the Opposition. The cut and thrust of debate led to the establishment of a more civilised system.

The Minister achieves nothing when he says how harsh the Labour Administration could be. He is, of course, quite right. One has only to look at the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1968 which was a forerunner of later things. One has only to look at the attitude of my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Callaghan) at that time towards the then Minister of State, Mr. Alex Lyon. Mr. Lyon was sacked. I protested about that sacking. I thought that Mr. Lyon had shown a decent and humanitarian attitude towards black and brown people in this country. He seemed to be taking an objective view and acting in a proper way, and was most approachable. I have not had any difficulty in gaining access to the present Minister of State either. I do not wish to dub him a racialist, as he has been called. That is no way to achieve the shift of attitude that the bulk of the House — including a number of hon. Members who are not present this evening—seems to desire.

Mr. Pavitt

I too have been involved with this issue over the past 25 years. The first director of the CRE, Mr. David Lane, was one of the best of traditional Tories in the Macmillan-Macleod line. The Conservative Government have always been antagonistic towards the CRE, and Mr. Lane was given a rough ride by the Tories.

Mr. Bidwell

The CRE cares and worries about ethnic minority rights and related questions nearly all the time, and it would be fair to assume that it would respond in a very sympathetic and penetrating way. The report shows that it has done so. I would not say that I agreed with every syllable of the report, but the Minister should not ignore the grave disquiet that it exhibits about the racial minorities.

The Minister referred to adding to the numbers administering the rules. He must do better than that. There is undoubtedly an inbuilt delay system. When I went overseas with the Sub-Committee, I asked immigration controllers in all three countries in the Indian subcontinent about these matters and they frankly agreed that the system is designed so that people should only trickle through. That is not surprising. The inbuilt delay system was attendant upon the 1968 Act. British passport holders were excluded from being considered for immediate admission. That situation still exists.

The report of that Sub-Committee is well worth studying. We recommended speeding up the interviewing system. We suggested that British officers should be sent to the pocket area of migration in Bangladesh, south of Bombay, to deal with the Gujarati question and to Jullunder, where many of the settlers in my constituency have come from. That immigration in my constituency caused some initial alarm, but many friendships have since been formed, and there is much mutual concern and care among the communities.

The Minister should talk to the second and third generation—the babies of the babies—in order to get at the guts of the matter. There is a language difficulty, but that is what the Minister should do, and he should make some more substantial proposals than those that we have heard today.

6.38 pm
Ms. Clare Short (Birmingham, Ladywood)

I am grateful for the chance to speak, but somewhat flummoxed by the shortness of the time available to me.

The CRE has done a fine job in giving all the details of the discriminatory practices that, as all hon. Members who represent substantial black communities know, are encountered from day to day by members of those communities when they ask family members to stay with them or to take care of their elderly parents in their dying years. One of the most disgraceful and disreputable elements of our immigration control system is that people are not allowed to bring their elderly mothers, or fathers — perhaps aged over 70 — to live with them, even though they have the necessary housing and income. No one can say that this is pressure-to-immigrate, or that such people will take jobs or anything else, but we do not allow them entry.

The other disgraceful operation of our immigration control is the refusal to allow our Asian women the same rights to marry whom they wish as our white women. The operation of the primary purpose rule is deliberately, continually and crudely racist. It removes some rights from Asian women, many of whom I have met and talked to in my constituency. Many of these women have been to the subcontinent and met men whom they have decided they wanted to marry. They have married there and stayed for a year, thinking that they would wait together in the year-long queue before the interview, after which they would come hack to the United Kingdom together.

In a number of cases, the women have found themselves pregnant and come home—as they always say—for decent health care for their baby. Then. the Minister's immigration officials, applying the rule that he defends so passionately, have refused the husbands the right to come to join wives in the United Kingdom. In Ladywood alone, 12 children of such marriages have never seen their father. That is a shame and a blot, and, from a party that denounces countries such as the Soviet Union because of its treatment of families and its separation of family members, it is extremely hypocritical.

The Minister's pressure-to-immigrate argument is a deep insult to the black communities of Britain. He looks at the world and suggests that anybody who comes to Britain from France, America or Canada, for example, will be authentic, decent and properly qualified. However, anybody who seeks to come here from a poorer country, the Third world or a developing country is somehow disreputable. He looks at the whole group, and, whatever the individual circumstances of the family or their entitlement, treats them as second-class applicants. He assumes that a person who is married to someone from India has lesser rights than a person who is married to someone who comes from America. The same is true about visitors and elderly parents.

This is a disgraceful and disreputable argument. Superficially, it sounds acceptable, but in practice it is wrong. Many poor countries have no contact with Britain, and no pressure to emigrate here. Not many people from China, for example, wish to come to Britain. People do not wish to come here from all over India or from all over Bangladesh. Those who want to come are relatives of people who came legally to Britain when Britain wanted workers, and they want to join their families as wives and children, as elderly parents or married partners. To treat all of them as inferior applicants because the country from which they have originated is poor is racist in the extreme, and deeply unacceptable.

The Minister constantly compares his record with that of the Labour Government. However, everyone in the Government of which he is a member disdains and rejects the economic policies of previous Conservative Governments. None of us would be in politics if we thought that everything that had been done in the past was perfect. The record of Labour and Conservative Governments has not been identical. The Conservative party has always had a much more deeply racist element within it, which has called much more passionately — [Interruption.] There is no doubt about it, and Conservative Members know it, and some members of that element have participated in the debate tonight. We saw it in the revolt on the primary purpose rule in 1983. The records of which party passed what legislation are different.

My party's record is deeply blemished and not good enough. We have had a major argument within the party about that and we have now committed ourselves, through our conference and through our Front Bench spokesmen, both the present one and the previous one, to improve on our record. We mean it, and we shall do it. We are ashamed of the things that we did wrong in the past and we shall make sure that we do better next time.

6.44 pm
Mr. Alfred Dubs (Battersea)

I congratulate the CRE on its excellent report, professionally carried out, and with conclusions that are important to all hon. Members and the people. It is a tribute to the CRE that such a high standard of work has come from it. It is no wonder, given the Minister's attitudes, that his Department did its best to stifle the report before it got started. We know the history of the legal attempts made by the Government to prevent the CRE from continuing with the report.

The report is limited in scope and moderate in its language and conclusion—after all, it talks only about administrative improvements in the procedures. If every recommendation were to be accepted, there would be no new immigration commitment. Some hon. Members seem not to be aware of that, so I shall repeat it. Every recommendation in the report added together would not represent a single new immigration commitment.

What we need, and what we have the right to ask for, is a detailed response by the Minister to each and every one of the report's recommendations. We have had the odd one turned down, a comment about one or two suggesting a possibly sympathetic response and nothing much about the rest of it. The Minister owes it to the people who have put a lot of work into the report, to Members of Parliament and to the country as a whole, to say what he and his Department think of each of those recommendations.

The Minister, both today and in speeches made outside the House, has not denied any of the evidence in the report of maladministration in immigration procedures, of rudeness to applicants or of racial discrimination against people who have had dealings with ECOs or immigration officers. He said that he had priced the immigration implications of something that I had said on a previous occasion and not in the context of the report. If the Minister's attitude is to say that principles do not matter, and he will look simply at the numbers involved before making any decisions, that suggests that his policy is even more squalid than most of us had thought.

I have a word of welcome for three things that the Minister said. He suggested that he agreed with the recommendation that there should be some training for new ECOs. He said that there is a possibility that he will consider publicising instructions to ECOs and that he would make a small temporary increase in the number of ECOs in Dhaka and Bangladesh.

However, the Minister did not say whether he accepted the key point on the report, which has already been referred to by my hon. Friends, but which I shall quote again. The report says: it is far worse wrongly to refuse a genuine applicant than to admit a bogus one; and it is far worse to delay the exercise of their rights by genuine applicants than to allow a bogus applicant through the net in efforts to avoid delays. A great deal hangs on the Minister's answer to the question whether he accepts that.

Much of the thrust of the report concerns the manner in which interviews are carried out, with people seeking to exercise their rights under immigration rules and Acts. There was one telling quotation from an ECO who said, either to the interviewer or in written evidence: Ask the sponsor if he can explain the gap in his child-fathering between (first child) and (second child). It was during this period that he first went to the UK, but he made a visit back to Bangladesh … yet no children were born as a result of that visit. The implication of that statement is that the sex lives of these people are relevant to whether they are entitled to come to this country. The point seems to be whether sex was taking place between the couple because, if it was not, there was a doubt as to whether the wife had a right to join her husband over here. That is a shameful approach, which the Minister should repudiate without question, and I hope he will do so.

Attention has been paid by my hon. Friends to the interviewing of people under the primary purpose rule. I do not want to go through the whole argument but entry clearance officers are asking questions about the motives for marriage of people who wish to come together in this country. I question whether any couple subject to that sort of scrutiny could produce the answers every time which would allow an ECO to agree to entry. ECOs are not qualified to pry into marriages, yet the primary purpose rule seems to be an excuse for them to do so.

Mr. Nellist


Mr. Dubs

A couple of years ago when I was on a visit with a Select Committee I sat in on some interviews. Let me tell the Minister about one line of questioning. A woman whose husband was here was being questioned. She was asked, "When did your husband last visit you?" She answered, "About a year and a half ago." The next question was, "When he last visited you how many people were in the compound when he arrived?" I had been in a compound near Sylhet the day before and I could not remember how many people had been there when I arrived. That woman, who came from a culture not as obsessed as we are with times, dates, places and numbers, must have found that a very difficult question. The reason for her being asked the question was that other Home Office officials here could ask her husband the same question and then check to see whether the answers were identical.

That type of questioning is unprincipled and shameful, and should be no part of our procedures. That is why I deeply regret that the Minister or one of his colleagues has said that there is no question of having a tape recording of the interviews. Tape recordings would provide a basic safeguard for what is being done in our name at interviews in Dhaka, Islamabad and elsewhere.

Mr. Nellist

On my hon. Friend's second point about the primary purpose rule, does he not agree that, apart from the legislation with regard to prevention of terrorism, under no other British legislation is a person presumed to be guilty with the obligation to prove himself innocent? The reverse is always true, supposedly, in British courts. When an entry clearance officer is making a decision under the primary purpose rule the assumption is that the marriage is not genuine, and the couple have to prove themselves innocent. Is that not so?

Mr. Dubs

I agree with my hon. Friend that the burden of proof is put on the applicant in a way that would be unacceptable in courts in this country. It is unacceptable to the majority of people here, especially when it is explained to them what is being done in our name.

When the report first came out, the Minister laid great emphasis on what he called the concept of pressure to emigrate. That is a circular argument. If the Home Office decides that there are certain countries from which there is no pressure to emigrate, those countries are not under the same scrutiny, and there is no problem about them. Since the Home Office decided that the West Indies was not in the category of pressure to emigrate, that argument has not applied to Jamaica, Guyana and other parts of the West Indies. Because the Minister and his officials start from different assumptions in relation to other countries, they examine more closely what is going on there and arrive at different conclusions.

One has only to consider the figures quoted in the report for refusals of visitors. I was at Heathrow a couple of Saturdays ago and every person who was stopped that morning was non-white. That may have been coincidence, but the figures in the report bear it out. The refusal rates for visitors are 1 in 44 for Ghanaians, 1 in 80 for Pakistanis, 1 in 2,800 for Americans and 1 in 4,300 for Australians.

Other hon. Members have quoted racial stereotypes from the report. It is said that Moroccans from immigrant areas seem to be both simple and cunning. There are stereotypes about Ghanaians and Nigerians and about what people look like. We have seen the comment in the report: I want to do this re-interview myself. Hands off. This must be this year's strongest refusal". Has the Minister taken any action about officials representing his Department who take such an attitude?

My right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) has already quoted the secret directive which says clearly — as the Minister has admitted—that delays and bureaucratic procedures are an attempt to regulate the flow of immigrants. I hope he will publish that directive in full. I am glad that the Minister was candid enough to repudiate what the Home Secretary said at a conference in Manchester recently, and honest enough to say that these are deliberate delays and that the method is being used in this way.

Mr. Waddington


Mr. Dubs

I would rather not give way at the moment because I have one other point to make.

The Minister has used statistics incorrectly. The evidence is that in new Delhi the waiting time when the Labour Government left office was six months. Now it is 12 months. The waiting time in Bombay is not what the Minister said. According to the Hansard of the House of Lords of 24 May 1979, the queue for main settlement in Bombay was four and a quarter months in March 1979. The evidence is that when the Labour Government left office there were in Dhaka 15 ECOs, with two additional officers for seasonal relief. The number of ECOs is the same now.

Comparing 1977–79 with the period since then, the number of applications has gone down from 24,500 per year to 16,000. The number of applications processed in the last two years of the Labour Government was nearly 28,000 per year. It is now just over 19,000. In other words, efficiency is lacking. Far fewer applications are being processed. The Government's record is shameful. What is being done on our behalf is a disgrace to the name of Britain. I was not a Member of Parliament in 1977–79 but I criticised the record of the Labour Government. However, their record was a great deal better than the record of this Government. I say bluntly and without equivocation that if my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorton and I have the privilege of occupying the equivalent posts in the next Labour Government we will make certain that the promises and commitments we have entered into will be kept.

Mr. Waddington


Mr. Nellist

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Can you advise me on a matter of procedure? Am I right in understanding that if the Government do not move the closure motion on this debate before 7 o'clock we will automatically discuss the private business in regard to the GLC which is set down for 7 o'clock and then, should that debate not take the full three hours allocated to it, we can return to this debate? I have 10,000 people who wish to be represented in the debate. Other hon. Members wish to discuss the matter again after the GLC business. Will that be the procedure unless the Tory Government decide to close the debate?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman has got it absolutely right. If the closure is not moved and if the private business folds up before 10 o'clock we will come back to this business.

Mr. Harry Cohen (Leyton)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of our debate on the Interception of Communications Bill

Mr. Speaker

Order. The House is not dealing with that Bill.

Mr. Cohen

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of that, is the Minister making policy on his feet when he talks about the question—

Mr. Speaker

Order. That has nothing to do with the matter.

Mr. Norman Hogg (Cumbernauld and Kilsyth)

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That this House do now adjourn:—

The House divided: Ayes 140, Noes 219.

Division No. 223] [7.2 pm
Ashdown, Paddy Crowther, Stan
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Cunningham, Dr John
Barnett, Guy Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'I)
Beith, A. J. Deakins, Eric
Bell, Stuart Dewar, Donald
Bermingham, Gerald Dixon, Donald
Bidwell, Sydney Dobson, Frank
Blair, Anthony Dormand, Jack
Boyes, Roland Dubs, Alfred
Bray, Dr Jeremy Duffy, A. E. P.
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Eadie, Alex
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Eastham, Ken
Bruce, Malcolm Fatchett, Derek
Buchan, Norman Faulds, Andrew
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Campbell-Savours, Dale Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Canavan, Dennis Fisher, Mark
Cartwright, John Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Forrester, John
Clarke, Thomas Foster, Derek
Clay, Robert Foulkes, George
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Fraser, J. (Norwood)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Cohen, Harry Garrett, W. E.
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) George, Bruce
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) Godman, Dr Norman
Corbyn, Jeremy Golding, John
Cowans, Harry Gould, Bryan
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)
Craigen, J. M. Harman, Ms Harriet
  1. Greater London Council (General Powers) Bill (By Order) 20,570 words