HL Deb 11 July 1927 vol 68 cc289-312

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Desborough.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly:

[The EARL OF KINTORE in the Chair.]

Clause 1:

S. 1. of 9 & 10 Geo. 5 c. 92. to be permanent.

1. So much of Section one of the Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act, 1919, or any Act extending the duration of that section, as limits the duration of that section shall cease to have effect; and, accordingly, the enactments mentioned in the Schedule to this Act are hereby repealed to the extent specified in the third column of that Schedule.

LORD PARMOOR moved, at the beginning of the clause, to insert "Section one of the Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act, 1919, shall be continued in force for a period of two years from the date of the passing of this Act, and." The noble and learned Lord said: The intention and what would be the result of my Amendment is to limit the permanency of this Bill to a period of two years. I selected the period of two years because I think it met, and adequately met, any possible complaint as regards time which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Desborough, on the occasion of the Second Reading. Your Lordships are aware that the Second Reading of this Bill took place some time ago—rather more than two months ago—and therefore I think it necessary to say a word or two in general explanation in order that your Lordships may appreciate what my Amendment really means. Your Lordships know that in 1914—I am only going to give those dates in history which are necessary—an Emergency Bill was passed with everyone's assent. It was said to be a Bill suitable for a time of war or of imminent national danger or of great emergency. No one questions the necessity of a Bill of the kind at such a time.

Then, in 1919, what I may call the special emergency conditions were taken out of the Act, but it was provided that the Act itself could only remain in force for one year. I do not care to discuss antiquarian matters of former opinions. I think everyone ought to be able to change his opinions when conditions change. But the opinion of the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, and of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, were quoted last time by Lord Phillimore, and their opinion at any rate at that moment—I do not care, and I think it would be unjust, to go beyond that—was that the Act should be temporary in its character, and not permanent. As a matter of fact the Act was to endure for one year. Then, from time to time under the Expiring Laws Continuance Act, it has been re-enacted for the last eight years or so, and now it is proposed to make it permanent. I noticed that when the noble Lord, Lord Desborough, was dealing with this matter, he seemed to think it was more or less a small matter of official routine. That was what I gathered from his speech and I read it again the other day to make sure that I was accurate. Whether that is so or not, however, this Bill really raises a question of very important principle and in considering it we cannot put that out of sight. That is one of the main reasons why I am asking your Lordships not to make it permanent, but to re-enact it for two years only. Then, when the time comes, all the difficulties which were suggested can be considered anti it can be determined whether the Act shall be retained or not.

There are two classes of Regulations—I am taking the last issue of the Regulations, in 1920—to which I should take exception if they were to be of a permanent character. The first class refers to the immigration of aliens. There is not what is called the right of asylum in this country—we are all agreed about that if by right of asylum you mean legal right of asylum—but as a matter of fact, for a great number of years right of asylum has been customarily allowed and encouraged, both from a general point of view and also as regards religious and racial persecution. I need not go into that because my noble friend Lord Gainford—I do not think he is here this evening—in his speech on the last occasion quoted a passage from Magna Charta, which was of importance not only as indicating the view held in 1215 but the view which has been followed consistently ever since, with very few variations, if any at all. A more important matter, which was pointed out by Lord Phillimore, is the question of deportation. I want to be very certain how this matter stands. I am not now referring to what are called undesirable aliens. If you want—perhaps I should not agree to it—to enlarge the definition of "undesirable alien" there is plenty of time to do anything of that kind during the two years for which I think the Bill might be re-enacted.

I should take up far too much of your Lordships' time if I tried to state the number of times this matter has been brought to my notice as regards the evil of deportation, the hardship of deportation, the harshness of it and also the unfairness of men of really unblemished character who have been carrying on their businesses here for a very large number of years being subjected to the constant possibility of deportation under the conditions of the Regulations. Under the Regulations it is provided that the Home Secretary for the time being shall have full discretionary power. There has been a series of cases in which it has been attempted to get the Courts to intervene, as they would do under conditions of habeas corpus and conditions of that kind, but it has always been held—and I think rightly as the Act now stands—that this is an absolute discretionary power in the hands of the Executive which no one and no Court has any right either to question or to interfere with. It is exactly that sort of power which, if we look back at the history of the gradual evolution of what we call our rights and liberties, we have consistently refused to give to any executive officer in this country, and quite rightly, because it embodies a right of the executive power to which we have always been opposed.

I should like in one or two sentences to ask your Lordships to consider what this means. A man may be condemned to what is often social ostracism, to being turned out of his home or business, without any right of being heard at all. That is contrary to the whole spirit of our Common Law. He can be turned out without knowing who has made the accusation, or what its nature is. That is inequitable by every test that we can apply, and it is particularly bad at a time when we know that, although the War has ended, the spy system has not yet come to an end. He is not allowed to be heard and he has no right to call any evidence from friends who might vouch for him. Having been condemned in that way, he is imprisoned right off and deported, perhaps to some country of which he may be nominally a national, but in which he has never lived and of which he does not adequately know the language. This effects a very serious break up of family life in which many British men, women and children are immediately implicated. Can that sort of procedure be really justified when all question of emergency has passed away? It was never known in the past, and is quite novel. I will not repeat the remarks of my noble and learned friend Lord Haldane on that point. If we look back through our history at the international intercourse and international trade that have been of enormous benefit to us, both on the scientific side and practically, as in the introduction of weaving and matters of that kind, we see the importance of encouraging international intercourse and its effect on trade conditions.

What is the right principle to apply? What is the principle of the Common Law? I am glad to see that the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, is here. I wish to refer to a well-known decision that he gave when a full Court of Appeal was brought together to consider this matter. I refer to the Freudenberg case. I should like everyone to read that decision. It pointed out perfectly accurately that the principle that has always been followed, apart from special provisions or regulations of this kind, in regard to an alien against whom nothing can be said in the sense that he is doing any harm or is undesirable, is that exactly the same civil rights are enjoyed by him as by any other British subject in this country. He has the right to be used in the same way. He is considered to be here by our invitation, and he is entitled not to be condemned without being heard, to know the nature of the accusation made against him and to be brought face to face with his accusers. If there is any doubt whether the proper Common Law procedure has been adopted, he has the fundamental safeguard of habeas corpus, which goes to the foundation of our right to a decision at law as against a mere executive or administrative decision.

In those circumstances, surely it is sufficient that you should have two years, if necessary, before proceeding further. It is not only individual instances that matter, though they are often very harsh indeed. I should like to recall for a moment what one so often heard at Geneva, that this treatment of aliens does not further the international spirit which is really essential for the re-erection of our trade interests and industrial organisation. In the Economic Conference at Geneva, under the Chairmanship of M. Theusis, who was Belgian Prime Minister during the War, nothing has been so much brought to the front as the fact that, if you want international peace, you must get rid of these sources of international friction and disturbance, which do no good to anybody. If there is a real reason for this action, that is a different matter; but I am taking the case of an alien against whom nothing can be said. There is one instance that will probably be known to my noble friend Lord Desborough, and I do not wish to go into it in detail. I refer to the case of Dr. Oscar Levy, which was very much discussed. I have a letter before me on this point, but I do not think it necessary to read it now. I merely give the case as an illustration. Here was a man of the highest scientific acquirements, one who held a position which everyone recognised and who happened to be a particular friend of Lord Roberts. He does not know to this day what the accusation was on which he was condemned unheard, and he has never had a chance of seeing what his accusers said against him. Such eases as this are terribly hard. It is not only a question of poor governesses, to whom Lord Newton referred, although they are included with the others and suffer a great deal by ostracism of this kind.

I have only one more word to say. There are other Amendments upon the Paper, one in the name of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Phillimore, and the other in that of the noble Lord, Lord Rothschild. In my view neither of those Amendments is in any way inconsistent with that which I am moving, and when the time comes I shall certainly support them with my vote, though I shall not trouble your Lordships by speaking again. Lord Phillimore deals particularly with the hardships of deportation, and Lord Rothschild with the hardships of depriving a man of particular religious views or racial idiosyncrasies of the asylum that was to be found here in old days, and was always regarded as expressing to the world the power of liberty and free action enjoyed in this country. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 6, at the beginning insert ("Section one of the Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act, 1919, shall be continued in force for a period of two years from the date of the passing of this Act, and").—(Lord Parmoor.)


In rising to oppose this Amendment, it is no part of my duty to embark upon another Second Reading speech. I have already dealt with some of the topics raised by my noble friend opposite, but I am sure that his Amendment cuts right across the decision that your Lordships arrived at when this Bill came before the House for Second Reading. You then decided, by a majority of 58 to 20, that this provision should be made permanent; and, indeed, the whole object of the Bill is to make permanent the system that has been extraordinarily successful during the seven years in which it has been in operation. There have been very few complaints, and the position of the Government is that they believe that the time has now arrived when, instead of reviewing these provisions from year to year, they should make them permanent, as they have been adapted to the peace conditions that happily prevail and have been very successful. Certainly the Government would not come before Parliament for a renewal for two years of a law which they could renew (and have renewed during the past year) for one year, and it seems to me that the Amendment of my noble friend is absolutely contrary to what was adopted by your Lordships when the Bill came up for Second Reading. As to the right of asylum, on which the noble Lord opposite touched during a good part of his speech, there is no such right.


That is what I said.


Therefore I am repeating what has been said by my noble friend, but I rather gathered from what Lord Haldane said on the Second Reading that there was some idea that there was a right of asylum in this country for people from other countries. Each country has sovereign rights of its own and can either withhold or grant these rights to the subjects of foreign countries. There is nothing new in the law of our country in that respect. What the Government are afraid of, and what they know from personal knowledge, is that there are at the present time hundreds of thousands of people living in less ordered countries than our own, who are anxious to come in and receive those benefits which a stable Government gives and which they do not enjoy in their own country.

It is very difficult to distinguish between two classes of undesirable immigrants—namely, those who are undesirable either from disease or indigence and those who are undesirable from their numbers and who, if they came here, would compete very unfairly in industries which are already over-stocked. At the present time we have a very dense population in this country. I think I have already said on a previous occasion that there are 483 persons to the square mile. There are over 1,000,000 persons unemployed. We have very great housing difficulties and very high taxation, and at the present time it is the firm belief of the Government that it would be a misfortune to this country if the doors were thrown open wide enough to admit all those people in my noble friend's category, against whom there is nothing of a personal character to be urged, but who would come into this country and compete with those who are here already in over-stocked markets, and for whom there are no houses.

It is true that this Bill would give the Home Secretary powers of discrimination. It would give him powers to admit or powers to refuse immigration to this country, but I must say that those powers have already been exercised with the most scrupulous care and that hitherto there have been very few complaints. At the ports there are immigration authorities. If immigrants desire to land here and take up business in this country, their cases are immediately referred to the Ministry of Labour and afterwards are finally adjudicated upon by the Home Secretary. The Home Secretary is perfectly willing to accept this responsibility, which he acknowledges is a very great one. At the same time, he is willing and desirous that in any particular case your Lordships or anybody else should bring the facts to his cognisance. He takes a personal interest in the matter. It is his one desire to see that no harm is done to the proposed immigrants, or to this country, through the exclusion of any one whose presence here would be useful and would be good for the country. The safeguard that one has in this matter is that these difficult, onerous and very responsible duties are carried out by a responsible Minister of the Crown, whose actions can always be brought before Parliament, and who courts every inquiry, and who is always willing, as are those who work under him, to give every possible relaxation in those cases where a relaxation of the rules is proved to be necessary.

There were two cases to which the noble Lord who spoke just now has alluded. One was a case brought up by Lord Phillimore, and I hope that the Home Office have met that case satisfactorily.


Quite satisfactorily.


Another case was that brought forward by my noble friend Lord Haldane. I do not think that that case was quite so satisfactory. It was a case in which a certain restaurant proprietor in this country had employed the services, as commercial assistant, of a young lady who had come here, I think, from Germany, although the country does not matter. In that case also the Ministry of Labour made careful inquiry. This person had landed under the excuse that she was going to learn English in this country. She was given a temporary permit, after which she obtained occupation with this particular gentleman, and the case was brought before the Ministry of Labour. I think in that case they decided that she was not qualified, and also that this particular restaurant keeper had not made sufficient inquiry as to whether he could get commercial assistance from those already in this country; that is to say, either from resident English people or from among the aliens already here. Also, apparently, he was not paying the rate of wages which was current for that employment. Therefore, in that case this particular lady was not allowed to remain.

With regard to the general question, the Government are emphatically of the opinion that, those Regulations having been tried for seven years and having been found to work with, I think, on the whole, most admirable smoothness, and having regard to the conditions under which we now labour (which in their opinion are not very likely to be improved within the space of two years, or for a very much longer time), they should come to Parliament and ask Parliament to make those Regulations, which have now to be renewed from year to year, of a permanent character. I do not know that I need go much more into the merits of the subject. I hope I have said sufficient to show that this Amendment does really cut at the whole root of the matter, and is absolutely contrary to the decision at which your Lordships arrived by a large majority. I, therefore, must ask the House to reject the Amendment.


We have a good deal of business before the House, and perhaps it is desirable that we should keep to the point, which is as to how far it is possible to amend this particular Bill by this particular Amendment. I confess that I find myself in somewhat of a difficulty. I can quite see that two years is a very short period, and perhaps is too short, but I dislike the idea of making this a permanent measure. The noble Lord admitted that present conditions were not likely to remain permanent. He spoke of housing. We hope that before very long there will be sufficient houses in this country for the people of this country and any aliens who may come in. Again, there is the further point that the Secretary of State is a hard-worked individual, and is quite unable to go thoroughly into all these cases. We are thinking, not of the cases which have been brought forward, but of the humble and unknown man who cannot get his case put before the Secretary of State at all. Those are the cases of which we are thinking, and I for my part would like to ask the Government, when they admit that conditions in this country are not permanent, would it be possible, if they cannot agree to two years, to agree to some other period of time, and make the Bill last, say, for five or even for ten years? I can assure the noble Lord that any concession which he can make in that direction would be very warmly welcomed by us, and would, I think, be a very real improvement of the Bill. I do hope the Government will not meet us with an absolute refusal to take any steps at all in the matter.


I agree with what the noble Earl has said, but my difficulty goes still further. The noble Lord opposite said that his justification was the large vote given on the Second Reading in this House, and also the fact that the old temporary Act had worked well. It is easy to state it, it is very difficult to give evidence in support of it. Certainly the noble Lord gave us none. That there are undesirable aliens who ought to be kept out, and are kept out, is no doubt true, and, if he had asked for a Bill which would strengthen the hands of the Home Secretary in doing that, good and well, but that is what he has not asked for. He has asked to keep out all aliens, and the only mitigating part of his speech was his conclusion, from which I gather that the Home Secretary is willing to go into these cases and mitigate the application of the Act in instances where it is consistent with the public wellbeing to do so.

But I am anxious to support the Amendment of my noble friend for another reason. I do not think you are in a position to tell how much hardship you are going to inflict on the business world by this Bill. It may be that it is less than it now seems, but I think in some cases it would be very heavy. If you go and ask among the numerous class of people who give employment in London, they will tell you that for a great amount of work a foreigner is indispensable. He has a genius for it which we at home have not, and he has had a training for it which we at home have not. In Switzerland, waiters are trained for their work, cooks are trained, all sorts of people are trained. Take the case to which the noble Lord referred, the case I brought forward on the Second Reading, that of a well-known restaurant keeper in London. He has to bring in food from different parts of Europe to keep up the reputation of his business, and he has employed, because he could not get anybody so adequate, a German lady. It is nonsense to say he did not pay her a good salary; he did pay her a good salary. It is nonsense to suggest that he could easily have got somebody better; she is a lady of the highest character. But the difficulty which he could not get over was this. He wanted somebody who could correspond in at least four foreign languages with the people from whom he bought his material abroad. Unfortunately, our education in this country has not reached the stage in which we provide secretaries, male or female, who can do that work, consequently this lady, who came here originally in order to complete her education in this country, and who got a permit for the purpose and was remaining here, so far undisturbed, was employed.


It was only a temporary permit, and she did not comply with the terms of that permit.


It is always temporary, and she only did not comply with it because she did not go away at the end of the time. Of course, she would have had to go away if it were insisted upon. The Ministry of Labour and the Home Office do not pay much attention to these things, they do not consider the difference in the state of knowledge on the Continent and here, and consequently she has to go. All I can say is that that is a principle which, if you apply it, will probably cause you a great deal of difficulty in this country. I do not say more than "probably," but I do urge that we should make this Bill at least of merely temporary application in order that we may see what hardship and suffering are caused by it. I believe there will be a good deal. I do not prophesy, because I do not know, but I am perfectly certain that neither the Ministry of Labour nor the Home Office know any better. This Bill is introduced in response to one of those popular agitations for keeping out the foreigner. Very well, you may yield, and when you yield without consideration you bring Nemesis, and it is because I do not want Nemesis to come, and see people subjected to great inconvenience, that I want to support any Amendment the object of which is to make the application of the measure temporary.


I have spent a good many years of my life in the City, and I cannot agree with the noble and learned Viscount that this Bill is going to do any harm to business in the City.


Both the two noble Lords on the Front Bench opposite have delivered what were practically Second Reading speeches upon this Bill. I am not going to imitate their example, but, as far as I am concerned, I do not suppose I have been more impressed by their argument than the Government Bench is likely to be. On a former occasion I took a somewhat prominent part in opposing what I considered to be an extremely vindictive proposal in this very Bill in the year 1919. The proposal to which I refer was a clause directed against ex-enemy aliens, and it was proposed by the Government that all these people, no matter what their circumstances were, no matter how faultless their behaviour had been, should be deported from this country unless they fulfilled certain conditions which it was practically impossible to fulfil. There is nothing in my modest political career which I look back upon with so much satisfaction as my action on that occasion. With the assistance of noble Lords more influential than myself that provision was defeated, the Bill went back to the House of Commons, it was reinstated there, it came back here. We again stuck to our position, and ultimately the Commons gave way. That is the only occasion I can recollect in recent years when we have got the better of the Commons, and I honestly think that no action that we have taken during recent years has contributed so much to our recovery in the public esteem as what we did on that occasion.

But this present Bill, which is denounced by the noble and learned Viscount opposite, is a totally different measure. There is nothing whatever vindictive about it, so far as I can see. Ex-enemy aliens, for instance, do not figure in it at all. It is merely a Bill to regulate the admission, and to provide for the exclusion and deportation, of aliens. I will agree to this extent, that it is sometimes worked in an irritating manner. In fact, I have suffered to a certain extent from it myself. The truth is that what I may call the Bottomley spirit is not altogether dead in this country, and I am not at all sure that it does not survive to a certain extent even in this House. But what I would like to point out is what might happen in case the Government were weak enough to accept this Amendment. It is a horrible possibility to suggest, but it is conceivable that in two years or more noble Lords opposite might be in office. If the Labour Party were in power it is certainly quite plain to me, although it might not be to the noble Lords opposite, that the policy of that Party will be dictated by the extremists of the Party—namely, Mr. Cook and his friends, who have a natural and innate affection for all revolutionaries and especially for persons who are particularly antagonistic to this country.

I believe that if this Amendment were adopted and the Bill came to an end a couple of years hence, and if the Labour Party were then in office and dominated by the extreme wing of the Party, we should immediately see pressing invitations issued to Comrade Zinoviev and to Comrade Borodin and Comrade Rosengolz to come and pay this country a visit and to remain here as long as they chose, and the warmth of their reception would only be equalled by the grief which would follow in the case of their departure. This Bill may not be much of a safeguard, but it would be rather difficult to carry out a policy of this kind if it were in existence. If the Bill lapses automatically we have really no hold upon any movement of the kind I have indicated. Although nobody detests more than I do vindictive persecution of individuals, I am bound to say that the facts as stated by my noble friend Lord Desborough are facts which you cannot get over. We are, as has been pointed out, a country with one inhabitant to every acre of land and I do not suppose such a state of things exists anywhere else and we have the unemployed stabilised, so to speak, at at least a million. In these circumstances it really would be almost criminal neglect on the part of the Government if they did not take such steps to regulate the promiscuous immigration of aliens whether they are desirable or undesirable.


The noble Lord opposite protests against Second Reading speeches, but noble Lords there have made nothing but Second Reading speeches. With regard to the speech of the noble Lord who has just sat down, I wonder he does not see the defect of his own argument. If it should be the case that the Labour Party is in power the Labour Home Secretary will have all the powers which this Bill gives him, and will have the power to admit everybody undesirable and the power to reject everybody desirable. If you expect the Labour Party to be in office do not give them this power. I rise in the first instance to express my thanks to the Home Secretary for the way in which he has dealt with a particular case to which I referred him. I have no doubt the present Home Secretary, and I should think most Home Secretaries, will deal with all the matters fairly and kindly and with mercy, according to their lights, but if they get entirely false ideas of political economy they will probably deal with them wrongly.

To hear noble Lords speak of this country being over-populated and for that reason urging the exclusion of people, is to my mind quite curious. If it is overpopulated you want your people to be able to go abroad, and if your people are to go abroad, how can you expect other countries to admit them if you shut your doors in the face of those other countries? It is obvious teat what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. As I ventured to say on a previous occasion we did our best to compel the Chinese and the Japanese to receive our people, how can we in turn refuse to allow foreign countries to send their people here? Two other observations, and two only, I have to make. When I come to my own Amendment I will trouble your Lordships with a few words in respect of it. As the noble Lord who represents the Home Office said, there is no right of asylum; there is no right to any foreigner to come into this country. That has been laid down by the highest judicial authority. But when he is in the country it is another story. Nevertheless, there is no right of asylum. The benefit of asylum which has been granted in this country has been the making of this country. It is the people whom we have taken in, the refugees on religious and other grounds, who have introduced some of the most valuable of our industries, and I imagine that most of the noble Lords here can trace some foreign ancestry of that kind which has contributed to their present distinguished position.

Only one other observation. No doubt a Home Secretary may be a very good Home Secretary. He may do things very well, but you try all constitutional questions by the extreme case. You may have a very excellent autocrat, a very beneficent despot. I think it is extremely likely that most countries will come to that. There will be Mussolinis or dictators in probably all the Latin countries of Europe and after all, on reflection, I think there was a good deal in what Elizabeth Barrett Browning said about Napoleon III if he had not come to his power by such crooked ways. After all, it may well be that the best way of governing a country is to scrap representative Government and have an autocrat chosen by the people for the time being. But if you are not going to do that, then do not make the Home Secretary an autocrat and trust to his benevolent action.


I should like to say one word only in reply. I entirely agree with what my noble friend Lord Phillimore has said. We are dealing with a

thing that is bad in principle and it does not matter whether one Party or the other is in power. Possibly one Party may use it one way and another another. Let us assume that one be as just as possible, you cannot have justice in these conditions. That is the experience of the world and the experience of this country. I gather that the noble Lord, Lord Desborough, said that he is against any limitation. I should prefer if I might to move my Amendment with the word "five" instead of "two." I should do that by withdrawing this Amendment and then moving it with "five" substituted for "two." If that would be convenient, I will move it in that form. With your Lordships' permission I would ask leave to withdraw the Amendment in its present form.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 6, at the beginning insert ("Section one of the Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act, 1919, shall be continued in force for a period of five years from the date of the passing of this Act, and").—(Lord Parmoor.)

On Question, Whether the proposed words shall be there inserted?

Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 16; Not-Contents, 48.

Reading, M. Aberconway, L. Shandon, L.
Ashton of Hyde, L. Southwark, L.
Beauchamp, E. Olivier, L. Stanmore, L. [Teller.]
Strafford, E. Parmoor, L. [Teller.] Strachie, L.
Phillimore, L. Swaythling, L.
Haldane, V. Sandhurst, L. Thomson, L.
Cave, V. (L. Chancellor.) Bertie of Thame, V. Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)
Falkland, V. Hastings, L.
Salisbury, M. (L. Privy Seal.) FitzAlan of Derwent, V. Hindlip, L.
Inchcape, V. Howard of Glossop, L.
Sutherland, D. Sumner, V. Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)
Wellington, D. Younger of Leckie, V. Lamington, L.
Merrivale, L.
Bath, M. Banbury of Southam, L. Merthyr, L.
Dufferin and Ava, M. Carson, L. Newton, L.
Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.) Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)
Airlie, E.
Bradford, E. Darling, L. Rayleigh, L.
Denbigh, E. Dawnay, L. (V. Downe.) Southampton, L.
Lucan, E. [Teller.] Desborough, L. Templemore, L.
Midleton, E. Dynevor, L. Warrington of Clyffe, L.
Onslow, E. Fairfax of Cameron, L. Wharton, L.
Plymouth, E. [Teller.] Gage, L. (V. Gage.) Wigan, L. (E. Crawford.)
Stradbroke, E. Gisborough, L. Wittenham, L.
Wicklow, E.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

LORD PHILLIMORE moved to insert at the end of the clause:— Provided that any Order in Council authorising the deportation of aliens other than aliens convicted of crime shall contain the condition following, that is to say, that before the order for deportation is carried out the alien be informed that he may within seven days apply to the Secretary of State for a report to be made upon his case by a Judge of the High Court of Justice, and that it such application be made the Secretary of State shall request the Lord Chief Justice of England to appoint a Judge of the King's Bench Division to inquire into the case, and the Secretary of State shall receive and consider the report before finally directing that the order for deportation shall be carried into effect.

The noble and learned Lord said: The Order made under the existing Act is the Aliens Order of 1920. Under Article 12 of that Order:— The Secretary of State may, if he thinks fit, in any of the cases mentioned in this Article make an order (in this Order referred to as a deportation order) requiring an alien to leave and to remain thereafter out of the United Kingdom. A deportation order may be made in any of the following cases (I can put the matter quite shortly): If any Court certifies that an alien has been convicted; if a court of summary jurisdiction finds that an alien has within three months before the date of the proceedings been in receipt of parochial relief or found wandering without ostensible means of subsistence; if he has been convicted in a foreign country for an extradition crime; and, lastly, if the Secretary of State "deems it to be conducive to the public good to make a deportation order against the alien." There is no point in the previous enumerations. If the Secretary of State thinks it conducive to the public good to make a deportation order under this Order, which is made under the powers of this Act, he can do so. That is what I ask your Lordships not to continue as the constitutional law of England for all time.

Your Lordships, in your judicial capacity, in the year 1921 confirmed that which was the law of England, but which had not yet received such high sanction—the principle of national and international law that an alien once admitted to this country by leave of the Sovereign or of the Executive is entitled to all the privileges for the time being of a citizen, is responsible for all the liabilities of a citizen, is under the King's allegiance for the time being, is under the King's protection and is to be treated in every respect as an ordinary citizen. By this Bill, which was passed as a temporary measure and avowedly as a temporary measure, for a time of stress, you are now asked to make it a stereotyped part of the law of England that an alien shall no longer have such rights. I wonder if anybody consulted the Foreign Office before proposing this measure. I wonder if anybody has ever thought what the Foreign Office would say. As an international lawyer I have always been brought up to believe that once a foreigner is admitted into a country he is entitled to reasonably good treatment. It may be even a casus belli if the subject of one country is not properly treated by the subject of another.

Under this Order—as I have ventured to say once already to your Lordships, you must try these cases by the extreme supposition—a man who has been twenty years in this country, who has married an English wife, who has children, who has property, who has a business or an undertaking to which his personal consent is required, may be there and then expelled by the Home Secretary, or detained in prison until it is time for him to be expelled. My proposal is simply to prevent this—I agree unlikely, but still possible—act of arbitrary executive power. I suggest that before the order for deportation is carried out in that class of case—not in the enumerated cases where the alien is obviously undesirable—the alien shall be informed: that he may within seven days apply to the Secretary of State for a report to be made upon his case by a Judge of the High Court of Justice …. and may thus have his chance of his case being heard, of slander, back-chat and so on being disregarded and the truth being really investigated. I do not tie the Secretary of State to what the Judge says; I do not make the Judge a Court of Appeal from the Secretary of State; but I propose that the Judge should make his report to the Secretary of State and then leave him to do as he thinks proper. All I provide for is that, in that exceptional class of case, a man shall have the opportunity of an inquiry before a judicial officer before he is expelled from this country; and I venture to say to your Lordships that there is probably no civilised country in which such unchecked power as that which is given to the Secretary of State in this clause is part of the permanent law of the land. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 12, at end insert the said proviso.—(Lord Phillimore.)


The Amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Phillimore is one of very great importance, and I hope the House will excuse me if I go into it somewhat in detail. His object is that no alien, other than those convicted of crimes, shall be deported until a Judge of the King's Bench has inquired into his case and reported to the Secretary of State. The noble and learned Lord himself pointed out just now that the Secretary of State would have the final power of deciding on his course of action. In this matter of deportation orders, the Government fully recognises that the powers at present exercisable by the Secretary of State are very wide and large. Under the existing Aliens Order, the Home Secretary may make a deportation order either, (1), on a recommendation from a criminal court after a conviction; or, (2), if the Secretary of State deems it to be conducive to the public good to make a deportation order against the alien. The responsibility rests entirely with the Secretary of State. Even in the case of aliens convicted of crime the Court only makes a recommendation and does not always do that. If a recommendation is made, it is for the Home Secretary to decide whether effect shall be given to it or not, and the Home Secretary is also empowered to make a deportation order even though there has been no conviction and no recommendation. Is that not so?




The noble Lord proposes that in the case where there has been no conviction for crime, the alien shall have the right, before a deportation order is made, to have his case investigated by a Judge of the High Court. The proposal is one which obviously deserves careful and respectful consideration. The Government fully recognise that it has been proposed with the object of securing that before deportation (which may in some cases involve very severe hardship) is ordered, the case shall be fully investigated in a judicial spirit. No one will question the importance of securing that this wide power of deportation should not be exercised hastily, arbitrarily or on insufficient information. To deport a man who may have been settled in this country for a long time is a very serious step, though I think it is admitted that it rarely happens.


Hear, hear.


No one is more conscious of this difficulty than the Home Secretary, on whom this grave responsibility rests. Nevertheless the Government are fully convinced that an Amendment of this kind cannot properly be accepted. I will state their reasons. In the first place it is inconsistent with the practical working of the present system of alien control. The cases in which deportation orders are made without any conviction or recommendation of the Court against aliens who have long been settled in this country are extremely rare. The common object for which this power is used is to expel from the country an alien who has come here improperly. To take the day to day cases, an alien, for example, comes here under the pretext that he is visiting a friend or coming as a student. In a few days he is found to have taken a post as a waiter or other hotel employee.


It may be months after.


Quite so. He is at once told to leave the country and, if he does not obey, his departure is enforced by means of a deportation order. Or again, an alien arrives here as a member of the crew of a boat or as a stowaway. He tries to get a job on shore. A deportation order can be at once made, and if possible he is sent back on the boat by which he has come. In all such cases the machinery of an appeal within seven days and an inquiry by a High Court Judge would obviously be inappropriate. The facts are plain. In many of these cases no question at all is raised as to the alien's character or history. The reason for his being sent out of the country is simply that he has come in without permission or failed to comply with the conditions on which he was allowed to land. The restrictions on aliens can only be enforced if it is widely recognised that any attempt at evasion recoils at once on the offender.

In a large number of cases speedy action is of great importance. For instance, the master or owner of a ship in which the alien arrived in the United Kingdom is under an obligation to remove the alien if he is found on shore, although leave has not been granted to him to land, and whenever possible an alien is sent back by the ship on which he has come. If in all these cases the alien could claim a judicial inquiry, with the result that the ship on which he had come sails away, this country has to keep the offender until another ship can be found and perhaps pay for his passage. The administrative delay and waste of money would be very serious. In all such cases as these, therefore, judicial inquiry must be rejected as unnecessary, as uneconomic and as impracticable from an administrative point of view.

It will perhaps be urged by the supporters of the Amendment that they have in mind, not such cases as those quoted, but rather the cases of persons who have been settled here for some time. Why should not a right of appeal to a High Court Judge be admitted in such cases? It will be noted that the Amendment does not in terms fetter the ultimate discretion of the Secretary of State. Under the Amendment the Secretary of State is to receive and consider the report, but he is left at liberty to accept or reject any recommendations there may be in the report as he thinks fit. This principle is undoubtedly right. The Amendment recognises that a deportation order is rightly treated by the existing law as an administrative and not a judicial act. The grounds on which such cases must in the last resort be settled are grounds of policy and not of law. The question to be answered in justifying a deportation order is whether the expulsion of the alien is "conducive to the public good." That question of policy must necessarily be left to the decision of a Minister answerable to Parliament.

The object of Lord Phillimore's Amendment, however, is that there should be a judicial inquiry as to the facts. Once the facts have been properly ascertained, his Amendment recognises that the decision must be left in the hands of the Secretary of State. The question, therefore, which the House has to consider is whether there is any need to establish some new machinery in order to enable the full facts of a particular case to be brought to the consideration of the Minister responsible for making the order. In the view of the Government there is no such need. No Home Secretary acts, or is likely to act, in the dark in cases of this kind. He is naturally, before coming to such a decision, anxious to have the fullest possible information about each particular case. Every opportunity is given to the alien to make representations, and whenever any of the facts are in doubt the fullest possible inquiries are made with a view to clearing up the relevant questions. Under the procedure proposed in the Amendment, a Judge of the High Court asked to inquire into such a case would be in a less favourable position than the Secretary of State for ascertaining the facts, and he would not have the advantage of day to day experience in the administration of the Aliens Order.

So far, therefore, as regards the ascertainment of facts on which the decision must be reached, the proposed Amendment would, in the view of the Government, be of no practical value. When the facts have been ascertained, then the decision is a matter of policy which must rest with the Secretary of State. As an illustration of the principle that these deportation cases must be settled on grounds of policy and not as judicial matters, and that consequently the responsibility must rest with a Minister and cannot be transferred to a Judge, consider the recent position with regard to the Russians engaged under the Trade Delegation and by the All-Russian Co-operative Society. Can it be seriously suggested that in this case when the Government had decided to break off relations with the Russian Government and to terminate the Trade Agreement, nevertheless any member of the Trade Delegation required in accordance with that decision to leave the country should be entitled to apply to have his case heard by a High Court Judge. The mere existence of such a right would obviously be fraught with the gravest inconveniences and would be inconsistent with the sovereign right of the State to decide to withdraw its hospitality from alien visitors. And even supposing such a right were granted, what would be the position of a Judge who had to review judicially cases which so obviously had ultimately to be decided on political and not on judicial grounds? It is almost necessary to suppose that the noble Lord who proposed the Amendment had entirely overlooked cases of this character, and I feel sure that the House with cases of this kind in mind will realise how impossible it is for the Government to accept the Amendment proposed.


The noble Lord who so pleasantly and genially conducts the business of the Home Office hardly, I think, read that long brief with which he has been supplied as if he believed in it himself. I hope he does not, but at any rate that brief is full of admissions of the point for which I am contending. I have pointed out that I do not take the responsibility from the Home Secretary, but I only provide that the Secretary of State shall be well informed as to the facts by a judicial inquiry, and then be left with the responsibility. Much of the document from which the noble Lord has read admits that that would be desirable if it were practicable. Of course it is practicable, and the small consideration of a few pounds one way or the other is nothing compared to the liberty of people who come into this country under the Government's protection. It may be that this should be limited to people residing in this country. It may be that seven days is too long. If the Government had met me on any such point I should have been only too ready to meet them, but to say that the Home Secretary is not to have the assistance of an inquiry in cases of this kind, seems to me very unwise. The last point I would urge is how much more desirable in the view of foreign Powers it would be that there should be this provision. How much more easy it would be for the Home Secretary to deal with some complaint if he were able to say that it was not merely an administrative act of the Minister but that the matter had been looked into by a Judge in a judicial manner! I cannot help thinking that you are depriving the Foreign Office of a very valuable weapon by refusing to accept this Amendment.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

LORD PHILLIMORE, on behalf of Lord Rothschild, moved to add the following proviso:— Provided that in the case of an immigrant who proves that he is seeking admission to this country solely to avoid persecution or punishment on religious or political grounds, or for an offence of a political character, or persecution involving danger of imprisonment or danger to life and limb on account of religious belief, leave to land shall not be refused on the ground merely of want of means or the probability of his becoming a charge on the rates or failure to produce a permit from the Minister of Labour. The noble and learned Lord said: The noble Lord, Lord Rothschild, intimated to me with great regret that he would not be able to be present to move the two Amendments standing in his name, and he requested me to do so. After the manner in which the Amendment of my noble friend Lord Parmoor, and my own Amendment have been met by the Government, with the majority they have at their backs, I am not going to trouble your Lordships with more than a few words. If this Amendment had been my Amendment I should not have put in the words "or for an offence of a political character," because I think those words give occasion to the opponent to blaspheme. However, it is not worth troubling to amend the Amendment, because I am sure it will not be accepted. As to the rest of the Amendment, I should venture humbly to support it on the ground which I have already intimated—namely, that this country has risen to its greatness, materially and morally, by giving the privilege of asylum under careful supervision, and that it is a retrograde step to give it up. I have nothing more to say, but I move the Amendment.

Amendment moved:— Page 1, line 12, at end insert the said proviso.—(Lord Phillimore.)

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Remaining clause agreed to.

Schedule agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment.