HC Deb 25 March 1986 vol 94 cc800-1 4.17 pm
Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)

I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to establish a right of appeal in the United Kingdom to those persons refused entry to the United Kingdom, including those persons visiting the United Kingdom. Today, as on every other day, some 50 people, mostly visitors to Britain from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan, will be refused entry to the United Kingdom. Last year, more than 18,000 people were refused entry to this country and more than 10,000 were black and Asian people from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan. Each person refused entry is given a form saying that they have been refused entry because an immigration officer does not believe that they are a genuine visitor. The form says that the person has a right of appeal but that appeal can be exercised only when the visitor has returned home.

The refusal ruins the person's holiday as they lose their fares and other expenses incurred. It is not surprising, therefore, that more than three quarters of the people compelled to return home do not bother to appeal. If their appeal was successful, most would not have the money or opportunity to return to this country.

My Bill seeks to provide an effective right of appeal which can be exercised by the person while he or she is in this country. That was first recommended in 1967 by Sir Roy Wilson, QC, who chaired the committee on immigration appeals. On the Second Reading of the Immigration Appeals Bill in 1969, the then Home Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Callaghan) said: It is implicit in the Wilson Committee's Report that an appellant who has reached the United Kingdom and is refused entry on arrival should normally be allowed to remain here to await the determination of his appeal".—[Official Report, 21 January 1969; Vol. 776, c. 494.] Regrettably, the provisions conferring that general right of appeal were never brought into force and were not included in the Immigration Act 1971, which repealed the 1969 Act but retained the basic appeals system.

Under section 13(3), the only rights of appeal that can be exercised here are by persons holding a current entry clearance or a current work permit. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer) said in Standing Committee on the Immigration Bill in 1971:

Every lawyer knows how difficult it is to prosecute any action, however simple, from a distance of 30 miles; and that to instruct legal advisers, interview witnesses, discuss documents not in one's possession, can be extremely difficult, even if one is operating between London and the provinces. Operating between London and Karachi would be virtually impossible. To insist that someone who has the right of appeal under the Bill should exercise it from such a distance, and in those circumstances, is to bring the whole procedure of appeal into contempt."—[Official Report, Standing Committee B, 20 May 1971; c. 1072.] Nearly ten people refused entry as visitors turn for help every day to Members of this House or of another place. Hon. Members usually request a stop on the person's removal and that they be given temporary admission. Of the 8,500 people granted temporary admission last year, only 187 absconded.

Introducing a right of appeal which can be operated here, easily and simply, would be a victory for natural justice, as it would allow a person appealing to be present when his appeal is considered. An effective right of appeal would, it is to be hoped, improve the quality of decisions taken by immigration officers. That would reduce the number of people refused entry. That in turn would reduce the number of people who are now forced to turn to hon. Members for help and the number of letters which hon. Members have to write on behalf of their constituents to the Minister of State, Home Office. That reform would most definitely be welcomed by many of our constituents who are angry at the way in which their relatives and friends are now refused entry to this country for holidays and at the conditions and circumstances in which those people have to wait, often for considerable lengths of time. The Bill would make a major contribution to improving Britain's tourist image.

For all those compelling reasons, I commend this modest and moderate Bill to the House and to the Government.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Max Madden, Mr. Stan Thorne, Mr. Harry Cohen, Mr. Derek Fatchett, Mrs. Margaret Beckett, Mr. Peter Pike, Mr. Alfred Dubs, Ms. Clare Short, Mr. Jeremy Corbyn, Mr. Sydney Bidwell, Mr. Dave Nellist and Mr. David Winnick.

  1. IMMIGRATION ACT 1971 (AMENDMENT) 59 words