§ Order of the Day for fix Second Reading read.
§ LORD DESBOROUGH
My Lords, this is a Bill to make permanent the existing powers for the control of aliens. The whole of the existing system of control, including the provisions for restricting the entry of fresh aliens into this country, the supervision of aliens who are here and the deportation of those who become undesirable, has been for the last eight years dependent on the annual renewal by the Expiring Laws Continuance Act of the Aliens Restriction Amendment Act of 1919, which continued "for a period of one year" the powers conferred by the Aliens Restriction Act of 1914 to impose restrictions on aliens by Orders in Council. It is now desirable to put these provisions on a permanent footing, and the Government have thought it right, instead of inserting any provision in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill of this year, to provide for the continuance of these provisions by a separate Bill. This Bill introduces no new principle. Its object is strictly the continuance of the system that has been in operation since 1920.
The general principle of alien control is no longer seriously disputed. Experience has made it clear that some method of regulating the flow of foreigners into this country is essential and that there must be power to order the deportation of those who abuse our hospitality. In 101 the first place, it will, I think, be generally admitted that we ought to exclude those aliens who as individuals can be definitely classed as undesirable—for example, those who are suffering from infectious and contagious diseases, those who have criminal records, and those who have no means of livelihood and would, if admitted here, become dependent for their maintenance on public funds. Ever since the Act of 1905 it has been recognised that the exclusion of such specifically undesirable aliens is a necessary policy.
But in addition to the exclusion of foreigners who are individually undesirable, there is the necessity under present conditions of regulating the flow of newcomers whose presence here is undesirable, not because of their individual characters, but because of their numbers There are great masses of people, especially in the disturbed parts of Europe, who would be glad, if they could, to leave their own country and come to Great Britain. In the present state of our country, having regard especially to the shortage of houses and to the problem of unemployment, it would be impossible to admit any substantial flow of new settlers without worsening conditions here and, by the increase of competition, injuring our own people I understand that, according to the last Census, this is one of the most populous countries in the world, with a population of 483 to the square mile, and we have also, unfortunately, some 1,100,000 unemployed. As a consequence it has been necessary during recent years to establish a very strict barrier against new settlers.
The number of foreigners who are now allowed to come to this country for residence is very small. In dealing with all such applications the guiding principle of the Home Secretary has been: Will the presence of this man or this woman be to the advantage of this country? In a certain number of special eases permission is given to land here with a view to permanent residence on the ground that the presence of the foreigner here will be advantageous to this country from the point of view of trade, or from some other point of view, but all such cases are very carefully investigated and sifted. There are also a few cases in which the Home Secretary 102 has felt able to allow foreigners to come here to join relatives when he has been satisfied that such foreigners will not come on the labour market, and that their exclusion would involve special hardship. The number of such special concessions is necessarily very limited. The difficulty which faces the Home Secretary in all these cases is that if he makes a concession in one case, similar claims can be made in scores of other cases, and accordingly additions on compassionate grounds to our existing population of foreign residents can only be granted very sparsely.
The regulations for the control of the entry of aliens can only be effectively administered if general principles are followed and rigorously applied with impartiality to all cases. While therefore the Home Secretary is always anxious to give sympathetic consideration to any special case, he must before making a concession be satisfied that the circumstances are really exceptional and such as would differentiate the particular case from hundreds of others. This policy of limiting closely the number of foreigners who are allowed to settle here is not based on any prejudice against the incorporation in our society of foreign elements. The advantage that this country has received from foreign settlers who have subsequently become good Britishers is well recognised. England owes much to able and enterprising foreigners, who, recognising the value of our free institutions, have come here to push their fortunes, have identified themselves with British sentiments and interests, and have added to the material and intellectual wealth of this country by developing inventions or business enterprises and by founding families whose sons have become eminent in industry and commerce or in the professions or in the arts. But under modern conditions it is impossible to admit that free flow of foreigners into this country which under different conditions might be possible.
The most important of these conditions is the state of the labour market, which necessitates a very rigorous control over the entry of foreigners for the purpose of employment. No alien is allowed to come into this country for the purpose of taking employment unless his prospective employer has obtained a permit for 103 this purpose from the Ministry of Labour, and such permits are only granted if the Minister is satisfied, firstly, that every possible effort has been made by the employer to find suitable labour in this country, and, secondly, that the wages to be paid are not less than those usually received by British employees for similar work. The objects, of course, of these conditions are, (1), to secure that aliens shall not take work which could be equally well done by British subjects or by foreign persons already domiciled here, and, (2), that if a foreigner is admitted the wages paid shall not be such as to undercut the rates normally paid to British subjects. A considerable number of such permits are granted to persons in occupations where a knowledge of a foreign language or foreign conditions is essential, such as foreign correspondents in commercial firms and teachers of foreign languages. For some time also a certain number of permits for female domestic servants have been granted in cases where it is clear that the post cannot be filled by persons already in this country.
But while it is necessary, for the reasons I have described, to regulate closely the entry of aliens, it is equally necessary that the machinery for the control of alien passenger traffic should not interfere unduly with the entry into this country of the very large number of visitors who come here for business purposes, for holiday tours and for other legitimate objects. In the course of a year something over 380,000 alien passengers come into and go out of the United Kingdom. A great number of these are holiday tourists: for instance, in 1925, 185,000 tourists, including over 89,000 Americans, visited this country. Another large class, numbering about 85,000, consists of business visitors. In 1925 over 12,000 Dutchmen, 15,000 Frenchmen, about 14,000 Germans and about 11,000 American visitors, in addition to many thousands from other countries, came to the United Kingdom for business reasons. There are also large numbers of alien seamen who come into and go out of this country, and special measures have to be taken to deal with them. They are in a special class.
For the purpose of controlling this traffic and sifting out those who ought not to be admitted from those who are coming here for legitimate reasons, there 104 is a staff of experienced immigration officers under the control of the Home Secretary at each of the ports, and it is provided in the Aliens Order that no alien may enter this country without permission. This requirement that permission must be obtained before an alien lands here is the keystone of the system of alien control. It would obviously be impossible to prescribe in any statutory form the exact conditions qualifying an alien for admission. It is easy to say that certain classes of definitely undesirable aliens shall not be admitted, but the great bulk of the alien passenger traffic consists of persons who may properly be admitted if they are coming here for a limited period for some recognised purpose, and the main task of the immigration officers is to satisfy themselves, by examining the aliens' papers and by questioning them in any doubtful cases, that the alien is coming here for some legitimate purpose.
In many cases the immigration officer allows an alien to land subject to a time limit, and in such cases further enquiries are made to see whether the alien has left within the time specified or whether there are proper grounds for extending the period of his or her visit. Aliens, for example, sometimes come to this country under the pretext that they are students coming to learn the language, and it is subsequently found that they are taking employment. Such cases are followed up, and if it is found that the alien has taken employment without permission he is promptly required to leave the country.
One of the most important items in the machinery for the control of alien traffic is the requirement that every person entering the country shall have a passport or some other document establishing his or her nationality and identity. This enables British subjects to be distinguished at sight from the aliens who have to undergo examination by the immigration officer. Complaints are from time to time made that the passport requirement is an unnecessary burden under present conditions for British subjects. If, however, a British subject were not provided with this ready means of identification, a great deal more inconvenience would be caused since it would be necessary to examine all the entrants to this country for the purpose of sifting the British subjects from the aliens. This would mean not only extra inconvenience 105 to the British subject but also a large increase in the staff of the immigration officers and in the expense of the system.
As a result of the methods described, the number of new foreign settlers in this country during recent years has been reduced to a very small proportion, but there is, of course, a considerable body of foreigners who were settled in this country before the War and have been here a great number of years. The number of foreign residents has been gradually decreasing and the number registered at the beginning of this year was approximately 259,000. Obviously if you stop the flow of new immigrants it is natural that the alien population here should diminish. Some criminals are deported, some become British subjects, and some die. For the purposes of effective alien control it is necessary that, full particulars with regard to these persons who are residents in this country should be available, and accordingly there are detailed provisions in the Aliens Order requiring aliens who are in this country for any length of time to give particulars as to their names, nationality, profession or occupation, address, etc., and to notify changes of address.
Finally, in order to make the system of control effective, there must be power to order the deportation of aliens who after being admitted to this country are found guilty of crimes, and also of such aliens as may enter this country without permission. Attempts are, of course, constantly being made to evade the provisions Of the Aliens Order and there must be power promptly to deport any person who defies its provisions and manages by some subterranean method to get into this country without permission, as well as criminals in the ordinary sense.
The statutory provisions under which effect is given to the policy I have outlined are contained in the Aliens Order of 1920, as amended in certain minor respects by three subsequent Orders. These amendments have been embodied in the official print of the Order which is published as a Statutory Rule and Order. Before introducing this Bill the Government considered whether they should attempt to schedule in the Bill any parts of the existing Statutory Order but they came to the conclusion that this would be undesirable for several reasons. In the 106 first place, it is important that the Government should have power to amend the provisions of the Order quickly and easily as and when circumstances alter, either for the purpose of removing any provisions which may be found owing to altered circumstances to be no longer required and to cause unnecessary inconvenience, or for the purpose of stopping up any holes which experience has shown may be used for the purpose of evading the intentions of the Order. Since 1920 three small Orders have been made amending the provisions of the main Order in certain matters of detail and from time to time further similar amending provisions may be required.
For example, the detailed provisions regulating the control of alien seamen coming to this country may require amendment as shipping conditions alter from time to time. The general object of these provisions is to secure, in the first place, that alien seamen landed from ships calling at ports in the United Kingdom shall not stop here and add to our alien population, and, secondly, that the control necesary for this purpose shall not unduly fetter the liberty of the men whose ship may be remaining for a few days in an English port. Obviously such provisions may require alteration from time to time when shipping conditions change. It is the practice of ships to ship foreign seamen abroad. They are in most cases bona fide seamen, and when they land at our ports they do not add to our floating population, but it is necessary that care should be taken to see that these seamen are bona fide seamen, and that they do not add to the unemployment in this country.
Then, secondly, even if certain of the provisions of the Order were scheduled in the Bill, it would nevertheless be necessary to leave so large a measure of administrative discretion to those concerned with their enforcement, that the scheduling of such provisions would not in fact remove the objection of principle that may be taken to the Bill on the ground that the powers conferred on the Government are too wide and indefinite. The present policy of alien control is founded on the principle of allowing large elasticity of discretion in dealing with individual cases. To attempt to embody in rigid statutory form any precise classification of the aliens who might 107 be admitted, of the aliens who ought to be rejected and of the aliens who could be landed conditionally or for limited times and purposes, would be impracticable. If the regulations were so tightly drawn as to be effective for the purpose of securing the exclusion of all those aliens whom it is the present policy to keep out, they would cause great interference with the flow of business and holiday visitors. On the other hand, if the regulations were so loosely drawn as to minimise the inconvenience to our visitors, they would not be effective for the purpose of excluding those aliens who ought not to be admitted.
The present system of subjecting aliens to inspection and examination at the ports, of enabling the responsible officer to make more detailed enquiries in any case where he thinks it necessary, of enabling that officer either to reject the alien or to land him conditionally for a period pending reference to headquarters and further enquiries, has in practice been found to work extraordinarily well. The number of complaints received has been extremely few, and on the other hand many testimonies have been received to the courtesy and efficiency of the officers concerned.
Again, this system of allowing a large measure of administrative discretion enables the responsible Ministers to modify as circumstances may alter the guiding considerations with regard to the grant or refusal of admission. To take, for example, a small instance: the recent policy of admitting alien domestic servants has been based on the great difficulty of obtaining such servants in this country, and the extent to which these admissions should be granted or refused must naturally depend on the state of the labour market here. There are also other instances where these admissions have been most useful, and where permits have been granted for a limited purpose. For instance, there was the case of the new industry of artificial silk, and there was also the beet industry. There it was found very useful to admit foreign workmen to set up the machinery, and also to give the necessary instructions to workmen who were unacquainted with the work. As has already been explained, the general principle is that such foreigners are not at present admitted unless such a concession would be to the 108 advantage of this country or unless there is some other quite exceptional circumstance justifying the concession. If this policy is to be continued, obviously, in the application of these principles to individual cases, discretion must be left to the responsible Ministers.
The check exercisable by Parliament lies in the fact that the Government, and the Home Secretary in particular, is answerable to Parliament for all the steps which he may take in pursuance of the powers conferred by this Bill. The Bill contains no new powers. These powers are in existence now, and the Bill proposes to continue them. Parliament can criticise either his general policy or his particular acts. The Home Secretary is always anxious to give Parliament full information as to the steps which he takes and to explain to Parliament the grounds for his general policy or his particular actions, but he is confident that for the purposes of continuing the existing policy which aims at securing adequate control over alien passenger traffic and adequate supervision of aliens resident here, while at the same time causing the minimum of inconvenience to visitors coming here for business or holiday or other purposes, the method proposed by the Bill is the most satisfactory which can be devised. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Desborough.)
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
, who had given Notice to move, That the Bill be read 2a this day six months, said: My Lords, I rise to ask your Lordships to consider, and to consider closely, before you give your assent to the principle of this Bill. A very distinguished contemporary man of science has said that it is only at the end of a science and when you have discovered all that is in it that you can tell what that science is about. Whether that is true of science or not it is certainly true of some of the Bills of the present Government. Any one who listened to the speech of the noble Lord who introduced this Bill would imagine that this was simply a Bill for keeping out undesirable aliens. It is a Bill that shuts out desirable people at least as much as it keeps out undesirable people. If it were merely a question of keeping out undesirable aliens I should not be standing here to-day. That is an old 109 question. What I do object to is the introduction into our Constitution of a permanent principle which is foreign to it and which has never till now been tolerated except in case of war or in very dubious circumstances while carrying on war policy temporarily.
What is the Constitution of this country about foreigners coming in? By the Common Law the King could say a foreigner could come in and could stay in. At an early stage Parliament took that into its own hands and laid down in a succession of Statutes, with which I will not trouble your Lordships, the conditions and restrictions under which alone that power might be exercised. That culminated in the comparatively recent Act, now repealed, of 1905, which gave to the Secretary of State power, after passing an Order in Council, to keep out undesirable aliens. But it contained a very careful provision, which I regret to see does not exist in the legislation of the present Government, that no man was to be kept from coming into the country when he came here to seek refuge from either political or religious persecution. That was a sacred and fundamental tenet of our Constitution, repeated carefully from time to time. It was dropped at the time of the War and after the War it has not been revived.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
I do not know if the noble Lord approves of the exclusion of people who come here to take refuge from persecution, religious or political, but anyhow that was our firm principle. A War Act was passed in a few hours. I think it was passed through both Houses in a single afternoon. It put restrictions upon aliens coming into this country. They were severe and serious restrictions. I was a member of the Cabinet which passed that Bill and it was a Bill which was necessary in the circumstances. We could not foresee what we might be called upon to deal with in time of war. That was passed and it continued for the period of the War. Then came another Act, passed under much more dubious circumstances in 1919, which continued the War Act, with various changes which, I dare say, the noble Lord might call improvements; at any rate it applied with greater 110 stringency to people seeking to enter this country. That was enacted to continue for a year. It did continue for a year. Then, bitten by the desire which the new doctrine inspired, the Government of the day continued it in the Expiring Laws Continuance Act of that year and they have continued it each year since until, as the noble Lord says, eight years have passed during which we have been dependent on the Statute, the Expiring Laws Continuance Act, for keeping alive these provisions which, observe, were solely for war time and are more severe now than even they were in war time.
One would have thought that that had become unnecessary. We are at peace with many of the peoples who were struck at by that Act. Germans and Austrians were named in it. The Act has expired so far as concerns Germans and Austrians, but the Government have taken a power—they began to take it after 1919—into their hands by which the Secretary of State for Home Affairs, by Order in Council, restricts the foreigner in an almost equally severe manner. No foreigner, no alien, can enter this country unless he gets a permit from the Ministry of Labour, or whoever represents the Ministry of Labour, and even then he can only stay three months. The noble Lord said that these people state that they have come to this country to go to a University, or to study, or to get knowledge, and that then they find employment and continue to live here. That is considered to be something very disgraceful and they are shipped off back again to their own country.
Very often people come to study in the hope that they may get employment and that is one of the ways in which we get many of our best people. Very intelligent people come here and they get a certain amount of instruction, perhaps in our own language, and then they are sought after. I had a case put before me in connection with this Bill. It was brought to me by a very well-known man of business in London. He has a very large business which involves the importation of foodstuffs from various countries. This was his experience. It was essential for him to get a secretary who could correspond in foreign languages commercially. That is a kind of person most difficult to get in this country. We do not train our people as they train them 111 on the Continent, as they do, for instance, in Switzerland, in Germany and even in Italy. This business man got somebody who had come here to study and had acquired a knowledge of the English language. She was a lady of perfectly unexceptionable character; he was very thankful to get hold of her and appointed her secretary. She became an admirable correspondent, but now the Ministry of Labour have ordered her out of the country. She is going back and the unfortunate business man is left without his secretary. I am not surprised that he said to me the other day: "Well, I have voted Conservative all my life, but I shall consider carefully about voting Conservative at the next Election." That is only one illustration of a class of case which is very numerous indeed.
Your Lordships no doubt have had a circular from the Jewish community. It came to me this morning and I have no doubt it came to many of your Lordships. This community are constantly bringing people whom they wish to employ here and who come with a knowledge of foreign affairs and of foreign languages which is peculiarly useful and is irreplaceable. What are they to do? You ought to encourage them to come, but they will not come if they know they have to be inspected by a clerk of the Ministry of Labour who does sums after the manner of the noble Lord and says: "Each square mile of the population has so many foreigners; that is too many and we will proceed to cut down." And they cut down irrespective of the qualifications of these persons. I am not standing here arguing for the unrestricted bringing in of foreigners. I am standing here asking that we should allow to come in any desirable foreigners who add to our efficiency in industries such as, for instance, those to which the noble Lord himself referred, artificial silk and beet, or in other ways. They are valuable here because we do not train our people in the same way; and before you make a change of this kind you had better set your education system in order still more than you have done up to the present time.
The result is that in all these cases, and in a number of others which I could mention, the difficulty is now increasing of getting the kind of specially qualified person we require. Your Lordships may find 112 that out for yourselves. How are you going to get governesses for your children? You may get one and they may pass her on the ground that she is a most unobjectionable person and that it is desirable that there should be opportunities of giving instruction in French and German to the children. But is the unfortunate governess going to come here to be put through a catechism of this kind by the representative of the Ministry of Labour or the Home Office, whichever it may be, who can exercise a judgment upon her based on doing sums—that fatal principle to which I have recently had occasion to draw your attention in connection with economy and which certainly applies equally strongly to the keeping out of aliens?
I think we shall hear a great deal more of this. What is it that the Bill does? It is a very short Bill, a commendably short Bill, but like the science of which I spoke it requires a great deal of study in order to find out what it really does. It does not re-enact any of the sections of the Act of 1919, excepting the first, but then the first contains the gist of the whole matter. The first section of that Act it is that enables the Home Secretary to make almost any order he likes keeping out the foreigner. It is most objectionable that when people wish to come over here they should have to submit themselves to a sort of inquisition—conducted nobody knows exactly by whom, but by somebody who represents probably the Ministry of Labour in this case, and who cannot go into matters very fully—and should be turned back. It is bad from the point of view of bringing money into the country. It is still worse from the point of view of bringing talent into the country. It is said, why should you bring people to compete with your own people? Yes, but have you people to compete with? We do not want to bring in people to take the bread out of our own people's mouths, but we do want to bring in people who will find bread for others by their skill, bread which cannot be supplied by our not numerous qualified people who are all that at present exist.
I venture to suggest to the noble Marquess who leads the House that this is not a matter to be adventured rashly. There is sitting at Geneva—I think it began its sittings either yesterday or to-day—an Economic Conference which is to survey in conjunction with labour 113 measures all these clauses and I strongly suggest to the noble Marquess—he may for all I know have something of the kind an his mind—that this Bill should not pass until you know what are the views of those with whom we are assembled in conference and with whom we desire to confer and with whom we recognise it is a duty to confer—until you know what they have to say about this principle, because a new principle it is in our Constitution. It is a thing we have never had, it is a thing which will let down our reputation for being an open and hospitable nation, it is a thing which cannot do any real good in the matter of unemployment in this country, because it does not touch the unemployed class with whom you are concerned, and it is a measure which I think will irritate and vex and worry your own people until in a few years these people will wonder how it was ever passed. On those grounds I move that the Bill be read a second time this day six months.
Leave out ("now") and at the end of the Motion insert ("this day six months").—(Viscount Haldane.)
§ LORD PHILLIMORE
My Lords, I rejoice to see in his place the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, but I should be the more happy if I felt that by good luck he had read over before this occasion his own speeches and other speeches on the occasions when this Act of 1919 was before your Lordships' House for the Second Reading, on the Committee stage and at the stage when, largely under his guidance, we refused to accept the Amendments of the House of Commons and did our best to protect aliens—and, even then, alien enemies—from unjust treatment.
This measure, as explained by the noble Lord who has opened the debate, is an attempt to work the Act by the Home Office for a purpose for which it was never introduced into your Lordships' House or into Parliament. I have before me at this moment the report of the speech by the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, who, on behalf of the Government, moved the Second Reading of the Act in 1919. He said:I will now briefly review the various provisions of the Bill. The first two clauses"—114 those two clauses now constitute the first clause which is under consideration—are devoted to providing for the continuance and extension of the emergency powers conferred under the Act of 1914. The question might perhaps be raised, indeed has been mentioned to me, as to why it is necessary, new that the War is over, to provide for the continuance of the powers required in time of war. I will therefore point out to your Lordships that the extension of these powers is for a strictly limited period—namely, for one year only"—that was in 1919, only a year after the peace, or rather a year after the Armistice and before the peace—and that, being in the state of transition that we are, it is a matter of necessity for His Majesty's Government to maintain temporarily the powers which proved essential during the War.It was on those terms that your Lordships were invited to pass, and did pass, this measure.
When the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, came to speak he supported the general outline of the measure, though he took part in leading a band of which I am proud to say I was one, a band consisting of himself, the most rev. Primate, the late Lord Bryce (whose views on this subject may be very well observed by anybody who the last pages of his new biography), Lord Newton and many others, whose object was to take many stings out of the measure. I am quite prepared to agree that the noble Marquess supported this measure on the Second Reading, but this is what he said:Neither is this Bill the altogether objectionable measure that might have been supposed from some of the speeches which have been delivered this evening. I do not speak of the purely temporary provisions involved in Clause 1 of the Bill—I mean the prolongation of the principal Act for one year—they may be open to some exception, especially the additions which are involved in Clause 2. But at any rate, for the most part, they are a purely temporary affair.What was the clause in the Act of 1919 which we are now asked to make permanent? There had been passed immediately on the outbreak of War a very proper measure, which apparently was in the pockets of the Home Secretary already, providing enormous powers with regard to aliens of all sorts quite independently of whether they were friendly or not. It was passed at once. But 115 the provisions were especially tied to the time when there might be a war on or when there should be a period of danger against general tranquillity. The first part of subsection (1) of the clause that you are now asked to make permanent reads as follows:—The powers which under subsection (1) of Section one of the Aliens Restriction Act, 1911, … are exercisable with respect to aliens at any time when a state of war exists between His Majesty and any foreign Power, or when it appears that an occasion of imminent national danger or great emergency has arisen, shall, for a period of one year after the passing of this Act, be exercisable, not only in these circumstances, but at any time.That is the clause which the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, asked your Lordships to accept on the ground that it was a War provision, that we were in a state of transition and that we must preserve the powers of the Act, though only for the period of one year. That provision has been renewed from time to time, and it may or may not be necessary to renew it for another year. But to incorporate it into the law of England, as one noble Lord has observed to me, seems like repealing Magna Charta. To incorporate in our law provisions such as are included in this section, provisions that are exercised in the way described in the Order in Council of 1920, which Lord Desborough mentioned, is in fact to pervert the object for which this measure was introduced into a permanent change in the whole constitution of English society.
After that which has fallen from the noble Viscount on that part of the case I will content myself with saying that it seems somewhat humorous that we, who have had war after war with the Chinese because they would not let us enter their country, who forced the Japanese at the point of the sword to let us come into their country, should now be turning round and building what used to be called a Chinese wall around this island against the admission of foreigners, after all our experience Of what this country has gained by admitting them. I wonder how many of your Lordships whom I am now addressing owe your brains, your money and your position to the fact that you are descended from some of the exiles who have come into this country from 116 across the sea. But I leave that point without further comment. It may be necessary to have strict powers to keep out undesirable aliens, but they are perverted into a sort of trade protection when they are used in the manner proposed in the Home Office Memorandum to which reference has been made. They were not intended to provide against labour competition or anything of that kind: they were designed to provide protection in case of war, and they were passed by the Legislature on those terms.
I turn from that. If the Order in Council of 1920 has not been modified—and I do not think that it has, but the noble Lord will correct me if I am wrong—it enables the Secretary of State to deport any alien under certain conditions; and it then proceeds to say, in paragraph (6) of Article 12:A deportation Order may be made in any of the following cases:—….(c) If the Secretary of State deems it to be conducive to the public good to make a deportation Order against the alien.I am not now dealing with admissions. I have left admissions with the observations that I have already made. I am dealing now with deportations. Under that Order every alien in this country has a sword of Damocles hanging over his head at the nutum of the Secretary of State. The greatest American banker, the greatest artist, a great philologist, a great professor at the Universities or anyone else may, at a moment's notice, find himself compelled to leave this country, and the Secretary of State has power in the meanwhile to arrest him and keep him in custody until he goes.
That is how this Order has carried into effect the provisions of the Act. Let your Lordships consider for one moment what we should say if a respectable English banker in Paris, or a professor in Italy or the United States, were suddenly told in this manner to break up his home, to leave his house, possibly to face ruin through the breaking up of his business at the command of the Secretary of State of the country. What would Lord Palmerston have said, with his Civis Romanussum, if any Englishman had been treated in that manner in any part of the world? That is the mischief of this clause. The Secretary of State may send away any foreigner of the friend- 117 liest nation—not a German, or Hungarian or Russian, but one of our own Allies, a Belgian, a Frenchman or an American—at a moment's notice under this Order in Council.
No doubt I shall be told that the Secretary of State will be a reasonable man and will exercise his discretion reasonably and with a sense of responsibility. There are two answers to that. In the first place, the Secretary of State cannot and, I am sure, does not himself deal with all the cases, at any rate where the humbler people are concerned. In the second place, if you are going to allow this provision you may as well have a despotism at once. A benevolent despotism is, I dare say, a very good thing, and it is extremely likely that what we call Parliamentary democracy will come to it in the end, and will put some one person in power and allow him, so long as he remains in power, to do whatever he likes. But that at present is not the Constitution of England, and nobody would dare at the moment to advocate it. Yet that is the position in which you are putting the Secretary of State.
I suppose everybody has conic across instances. The noble Viscount has referred to one, and here is one that happened to me the other day. A distinguished literary lady, known to a good many people and of high repute, came to me. She had a girl under her protection, I think of Russian origin, who had lost her father. Her mother had been married again to some other foreigner, and father and mother were living at Monte Carlo. I rather gathered that the lady was not particularly anxious that the step-father should see too much of the girl. The girl had been in this country for some years at school. She either made a periodical visit to the authorities when so required or she was sent for. She was then told, very politely, very kindly and very nicely, that the Home Office thought that she would have to leave the country in two or three months and go back to her people—not to her own country; she could not go to her own country, which was Russia, but to her people in another foreign country which would be more hospitable to her that we are. I do not know what the end of the story is.
118 It may be that my friend, being a lady, rather overstated her case, and the Home Office had some points to make against her; but I am allowing for this when I make the statement that I am now making. The girl had been in this country for two or three years, and the letter from the Home Office, which I saw, was to the effect that she ought not to stay here and take the bread out of the mouths of people living in this country. What are we to say to our English people who want to go abroad and prosper? Are we to expect other countries to say to them: "You must not come here, for you are taking the bread out of our mouths"? It will end by everybody using nothing but telephones. Everybody will have to stay in his own country and never venture to go across the water. People will have to telephone from one country to the other. That will be the result of building up these Chinese walls of exclusion.
I conclude by making a reference to a case that the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack will probably remember. In the year 1920 this House, sitting judicially, had to decide an appeal from Ireland, where a scoundrel, if ever there was one, sued for a sum of money which had been taken from him by police officers. The Irish Government pleaded an act of State, and said a foreigner for this purpose had no rights. Your Lordships, sitting judicially, held in some very eloquent language, which emanated from other members of the Tribunal, that a foreigner once in this country, and once having come under the protection of the Crown, was entitled to exactly the same rights as an English inhabitant. This legislation deprives him of all his rights and in effect repeals, so far as he is concerned, the Habeas Corpus Act.
§ LORD DANESFORT
My Lords, I should hesitate to intervene in this debate but for the fact that when the Acts of 1914 and 1919 were being discussed in another place I took some part in those discussions—a part which I certainly was not ashamed of at the time and which I am not ashamed of now. It would be a little strange to find a demand of the Executive Government for powers for dealing with aliens coming into thus country refused, unless an exceedingly strong case were made out for refusing 119 that demand. They know best what is required. I grant that if a strong case were made out, such as abuse of these powers, or proof that they were unnecessary, then there might be some justification for the proceeding which has been indulged in by noble Lords opposite tonight. But, so far from a strong case being made out for rejecting this Bill, I never heard, if I may respectfully say so, a more feeble case presented.
We might have expected, for instance, that there had been strong diplomatic representations from foreign countries that their nationals were not being properly treated. There is no suggestion of the sort, and for the very good reason that, so far as I know, no foreign country has made any representation to our Government that their nationals are being in any way unfairly treated under the provisions of this Act. If foreign countries do not complain, then one might have expected that noble Lords who oppose the Bill would have brought forward some gross cases of abuse of power by the Home Secretary. Anyone who expected that must have been sorely disappointed. It is true that the noble and learned Viscount brought forward two cases. I listened to him with respect but they were such astounding cases.
The first was that of some female secretary who spoke foreign languages and who, at the end of the period for which she bad been admitted into this country, was requested to go back to Germany. Are we to suppose that there was no one in this country who could speak foreign languages and fill the post of secretary to the friend of the noble and learned Viscount? That was the first case, and a stranger case to bring forward I cannot imagine. Then the noble and learned Viscount made a personal appeal to members of this House. He said that it is possible that some of your Lordships may require the services of a German governess for your children, and he implied that it would be a terrible thing if the Home Secretary were not to allow a German governess to come in and instruct the members of the households of your Lordships.
§ LORD DANESFORT
Supposing a French or German governess were not 120 allowed to land: Would that be a reason for rejecting a Bill demanded by the Executive Government?—a Bill of the utmost importance to the good government of the country, as events have shown. Lord Phillimore also gave an instance, which he said was an unfortunate one. I confess I did not follow it very well, but, as I understood, it came to this, that there was some daughter of some foreign parents who wanted to come over here to school.
§ LORD DANESFORT
As I understand the parents were foreigners, and she wanted to come here for schooling and there was some difficulty. I understand that the matter is still under consideration, and that nothing has been settled. Is that a reason for rejecting the Bill? Yet those are the only instances given by the noble and learned Viscount and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Phillimore, why your Lordships should reject the Bill on the ground of some abuse of jurisdiction. I might perhaps leave the matter there, but I should just like to ask noble and learned Lords opposite to which of the powers which this Bill will give to the Executive do they object?
There are two main powers conferred by this Bill. In the first place power is given to the Home Secretary to prevent aliens from coming into this country. Have we no unemployment in this country Do you think the people of this country would approve of leaving the Home Secretary paralysed, without power to prevent unnecessary and undesirable aliens from coming in? It is true that Lord Phillimore said he would like to prevent the entry of undesirable aliens. I think there is reason for keeping out of this country not only undesirable aliens but aliens who will compete, and compete unfairly, with our own people, and having regard to the great lack of employment there is in this country—a million of our own people are out of employment—I think it would be deplorable if the Home Secretary had no power to keep aliens out, and to keep such employment as there is, in the interests of our country, for the benefit of the people of our country. Yet that is one of the powers of which apparently noble Lords opposite 121 desire to deprive the Home Secretary. I gather from their silence that that is one of the powers to which they object.
Then there is the other principal provision—the deportation of aliens from the United Kingdom. The noble Lord, Lord Phillimore, tried to make your Lordships feel uncomfortable by conjuring up some deplorable picture of a great German or other philosopher who might be turned out at a moment's notice by the arbitrary action of a despotic Home Secretary. He said there might be other great scientists and persons of eminence, of European reputation, whose presence might be of infinite benefit to this country, but who might undergo a similar fate. Has such a thing ever happened? Has it ever been known under this Act? If it has not happened, and cannot happen, what is the good of attempting to terrify your Lordships by such imaginary visions of appalling unfairness and injustice? I should like to know really whether the noble and learned Viscount who moved the rejection of the Bill wants to take away from the Home Secretary this absolutely essential power of deportation, or whether he would paralyse his action by limiting it to some cases of extreme undesirability. If that is his desire I hope and trust that your Lordships will not accede to that view.
Then the noble and learned Viscount, as I understood him, suggested that, instead of passing legislation in the interests of this country, we should go to some conference at Geneva, and talk it over with them, abandoning our rights to settle our own affairs for ourselves and to determine which aliens we should admit and which we should deport. That suggestion does not commend itself to me either as a practical one or as a reasonable and justifiable one. As the Home Secretary has laid down in matters of this sort, our governing principle should be what is to the interest of this country. Without any unfairness to the inhabitants of other countries, let us ask ourselves what is for our advantage. For that purpose I do not think it is necessary to go to Geneva, or to any other part of the world.
Supposing that your Lordships were to accept the advice of the noble and learned Viscount and of Lord Phillimore, what powers would the Home Secretary have for dealing with aliens who desired to 122 come into this country, or who ought to be turned out of this country? The answer is, none whatever. Is that a state of things which ought to be tolerated? We had a debate in this House recently on Communist activities in this country, in which I think it was clearly shown that there was a violent, ferocious, malignant campaign of lies carried on by the Communists against this country—by persons acting under the instigation and, I doubt not, with the financial support of Moscow. Supposing we wanted to deport any one of those conspirators against our country: Is the Home Secretary to be paralysed? Are there to be no means of turning a person out? On that occasion I challenged seine noble and learned Lords opposite to say whether they agreed with the propaganda of these Communists, the object of which was to turn the British out of China and to bring about the recall of our troops. I am sorry I got no answer. I do not believe that the people of this country approve of violent, lying, intriguing propaganda, carried on in this country by Communists to shake the foundations of our power and to do injury to our own people in China. If we wanted a case in which the Home Secretary should be armed with powers to stop such pernicious action I do not think you could have a better illustration. I therefore ask your Lordships to say, first of all, that the Home Office, in the excellent speech of my noble friend Lord Desborough, have advanced strong reasons for the powers comprised in this Bill, and, secondly, that the reasons put forward for the rejection of the Bill are such as your Lordships cannot accept.
§ LORD GAINFORD
My Lords, I am somewhat amazed at the speech to which we have just listened, because the noble Lord has obviously been dealing entirely with the view that we should keep undesirable aliens out of this country. No one will take exception to that view, but what some of us do take strong exception to is that under the provisions of this Bill a Home Secretary can make conditions which will keep out aliens whose admission is desirable in the interests of this country. The other day we discussed in this House what I should have thought was a somewhat twopenny-halfpenny Bill, the Rooks and Rabbits Bill, and it seems to me that this Bill might be regarded 123 by some of your Lordships as a Bill which deserves the same description. But there is a very important principle involved in this case. The first principle with which it conflicts is that when an emergency measure has been passed by Parliament for a special purpose, as the Aliens Restriction Act was passed in 1914 on the outbreak of the War, it is not fair to Parliament to place such a measure permanently on the Statute Book.
I have had put into my hands a provision of Magna Charta, which was re-enacted, dealing with foreign merchants. The provision was as follows:All merchants shall have their safe and sure conduct, to come into England, to tarry in and go through England, as well by land as by water, to buy and sell, except time of war.For the purposes of war we repealed that Act for the time being and placed certain powers in the hands of the Executive. In 1919 it was made a measure which had to be re-endorsed by Parliament every year, and now your Lordships are asked to put it permanently on the Statute Book.
I have given some study to the question of foreign aliens coming into this country. At two General Elections I was opposed by the late Mr. Arnold White on this very subject. I was not very keen about it when the Election began, but when my opponent made a great deal of capital out of the question of foreign aliens coming into this country to deprive the working men of their livelihood and lower their standard of living—a doctrine which secured a great deal of sympathy from the working class—I was obliged to give it closer attention. When I looked into it I realised that it was absolutely essential for this country, in the interests of our own industries, that certain classes of aliens should be admitted. You have among the chemists of the world, in Germany and elsewhere, some very able scientific men whose knowledge and help are necessary in connection with our chemical industries. There are many processes in which we require these aliens to help us, both in order to teach us and in order to help us to carry on our industries and create wealth which will secure fresh employment for our own population. These men can be, and are, arbitrarily kept out of this country by 124 the provisions already enforced by the Home Secretary which this Bill now proposes to make permanent.
There are many other cases to which I might allude. There are the musicians. We have not got all the musical talent in the world. As the late president of the British Broadcasting Company I was anxious, four years ago, to try to secure the best music that the world could produce for the benefit of those who listen to our concerts, and yet I was deprived of the opportunity of bringing musicians into this country by these very Orders, with the result that in many cases mediocre music had to be given in place of much better music from abroad. The same thing happens in connection with servants to-day. We all know the difficulty of securing good cooks, we all know that the working people of this country suffer from bad cooking, probably more than they realise, and yet we are not allowed to bring capable Frenchmen into our households in order that we may get French cooking and scientific cooking and good purchasing of materials for our tables. I tried only last year, when I had difficulty in getting a cook, to be allowed to get a young French chef, but I was refused that permission. And so the case is with many industries in this country. It has been established beyond any doubt that a large number of industries have been created by the introduction of foreigners and that there are industries in this country which would not have been here unless foreigners had been allowed to come in.
But I take my opposition to this Bill on the sound principle of liberty. I believe that Englishmen have a right to sell their labour where they like, how they like and for what they like, and I equally believe that Englishmen have the right to employ labour where they like and how they like, so long as the community does not suffer. I am quite satisfied that if you allowed Englishmen latitude as to the persons they should bring in from abroad the hospitality of this country would not be abused by a little relaxation of the provisions of this measure, which it is proposed to make permanent. Competition in many walks of life is very valuable. Other nations employ Englishmen; they are glad to have the competition of Englishmen and to have Englishmen to teach their own people 125 how to improve their work. We ought to have the same right in this country. For these reasons I shall resist this Bill and if there should be a Division I shall vote in favour of the Amendment of the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Haldane.
§ LORD LAMINGTON
My Lords, when I came to the House this afternoon I knew nothing about the intentions of this Bill. Since I have been here I have carefully listened to the very powerful and able speeches which have been made on both sides. I do not find myself in agreement with the powerful speech of my noble friend on my left (Lord Danes fort), but I do find myself in agreement with the noble and learned Viscount opposite (Viscount Haldane). I confess that he did convince me of the soundness of his objections to this measure and his argument was very strongly reinforced by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Phillimore. He very appositely quoted the utterances of my noble friend the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) and also of the noble Earl, Lord Onslow. I think those arguments are as strong to-day as they were in 1919. The intention of the Bill seems to be to make permanent and rigid a system which might be very greatly abused in the future. It is now 1927, nearly nine years after the Armistice, and the powers which the Government have had have, I think, been found to be ample. I shall vote against this Bill because I believe it would be harmful and because I am not convinced the present powers of the Government are not quite ample to deal with the situation.
THE EARL OF MAYO
My Lords, I will not trouble your Lordships for long but I should like to say a few words upon this matter. I was very much struck by the statement in Lord Desborough's speech that there were 14,000 Germans in this country for business purposes. I am not very fond of Germans; I do not think any of us are very fond of Germans, but I suppose we must take the noble Lord's word that the business purposes for which these Germans are here are of a harmless nature. I should like to refer to what was said by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Haldane. He evidently alluded to a great philosopher when he mentioned that such a person 126 might be kicked out of the country by the Home Secretary at a moment's notice. I suppose he referred to Einstein.
THE EARL OF MAYO
I took down the noble Lord's words. He spoke of a philosopher at the beginning of his speech. We will deal with the cook presently. The noble Lord said "a great philosopher."
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
I said a great man of science had said that you never could discover what a science is about till you got to know the whole of it, and that that was true of Government Bills and of this Bill.
THE EARL OF MAYO
We have been trying to find out what the science is about. The noble and learned Viscount went on to say that there were many desirable foreigners who should be allowed to come into this country. I am not very fond of foreigners, yet I do not want to see specially qualified persons turned out of the country. The noble and learned Viscount mentioned several countries but he did not mention Sweden. From Sweden you can get most excellent servants, and excellent cooks, and the Swedes are our friends. Yet Sweden is a country that was not mentioned. Not only can you get most excellent cooks from Sweden but you can also get most excellent governesses. The noble and learned Viscount complained that any foreigner would have to go before a clerk of the Home Office and be put through a sort of inquisition by that clerk, and he said that was a very disgraceful thing for anybody to be subjected to. It is all very well to say that but, as your Lordships know, there are a great many unemployed people in this country and we do not want to increase that unemployment by allowing foreigners to come in here without restrictions.
I should now like to say a few words with regard to the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Phillimore. He began a most dreadful story about a beautiful young lady whom it was desirable for certain reasons to keep away from her future father-in-law. Well, he must have been a very bad father-in-law, I think, but why begin a story of that 127 sort without giving us the end of it? That leads to nothing at all. There is one thing we did learn from Lord Phillimore and that is that she was very beautiful.
THE EARL OF MAYO
Oh no, I have not seen her. I wish I had. She was very beautiful and her future father-in-law must be a very bad lot indeed. That is all I can say. But, as I said before, why begin this direful story without being able to end it? I should like to go back now to what Lord Gainford said with regard to Magna Charta. What he read out is perfectly correct, but let us go a few hundred years further on and find out exactly what happened under what was called the Hanseatic League of which, I dare say, the noble Lord has heard. That great Queen, Elizabeth, very soon got rid of the German guilds who were smothering our trade. They were smothering it so badly that she kicked them out. They were driven out of the City of London, they were packed off in the ships that were got ready to send them back to Germany, and our traders then could deal with the trade of the country with freedom and without interference. That is what happened.
I will not trouble your Lordships very much longer, but I should like to read an extract from a letter by a gentleman called Mr. Aylmer Maude. He was referring to a speech made by Mr. Clynes—I suppose Mr. Clynes has not altered his opinion since then—and this is what he said:—Our manufacturers would do better to consider the comparative advantages of the different markets rather than make it their prime object to advance a system the ultimate success of which would endanger their future existence and ensure a great increase of unemployment in this country.That is signed "Your faithfully Aylmer Maude," and it is an excerpt from The Times. I have now finished what I have to say and I shall support the Bill most certainly. I believe Lord Parmoor is going to speak, but I have not yet heard a single argument that makes me believe that the Home Secretary is not quite right in giving himself powers to keep out or let in aliens as he chooses. If he had not those powers I should pity him. He has stuck to his 128 guns like a man and I think we ought to support him. Whatever is said from the other side of the House will not alter my opinion in this matter. When the Bill goes to a Division I shall vote for it.
§ LORD DESBOROUGH
My Lords before the House divides perhaps I may be permitted to give one or two explanations. My noble friend who sits behind me and who has now left the House seemed to be under a misapprehension with regard to the Bill. He seemed to think we were introducing something new into the Constitution whereas the fact is we are only continuing a system under which we have lived and prospered for the last eight years. I really do think that if there had been all those objections to the continuance of the Act which have been stated here this afternoon, we should have had great complaints from foreign countries as to the way in which the Act was administered Such, however, has not been the case There is absolutely nothing new in this Bill, but it does make permanent an Act which has been in force as the law of the land for eight years.
There are one or two remarks I should like to make in regard to the speech of the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Haldane. I think he rather under-rated the educational facilities of this country, which have been vastly improved of late years. I have been connected for some years with the London Chamber of Commerce. We set up a system of educating clerks in all foreign languages, including Arabic, and in other matters useful to those concerned in foreign trade. In the first year we had 250 students and I am sure it will please my noble and learned friend to hear that last year we examined 24,000 students in all foreign languages and in some very abstruse subjects.
§ LORD DESBOROUGH
Yes, and I think that shows that there is not such a dearth as is hinted at of those capable of conducting correspondence in foreign languages. With regard to the case of the unfortunate lady he referred to—I think I know the employer—the fact is that this lady when she came over gave the impression that she was coming here 129 to study the language, and she was given a permit for that purpose, but she stayed on beyond the period for which the permit was given and was taken into employment at a time when she had no permit. Therefore the position really was that she had not carried out the terms under which she was allowed to enter this country. As to what Lord Phillimore said, aliens have no right to come into this country.
§ LORD PHILLIMORE
I did not say they had a right to come into this country. What I said was that when they had got into this country with the leave of the King they had every right of English subjects.
§ LORD DESBOROUGH
That is an act of grace on the part of those who have perhaps more right in the United Kingdom. If we take the last two years, only 2,000 aliens were rejected out of 370,000 who came to this country. Certain remarks have been made as to the difficulty
§ Resolved in the affirmative accordingly, and Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.130
§ of getting domestic servants and therefore it may be of interest if I state how many domestic servants came to this country last year and how many were rejected. Permits were granted for 1,872 domestic servants and 473 were refused. As to teachers of foreign languages, they are allowed to come in. There seems to be an idea that they are kept out. Of these 338 were admitted in one year, and only five of those who applied were rejected. I do not know that it is necessary to answer any further points that have been raised in the debate. I should be sorry if any member of the House were to vote under the impression that anything new or anything that had not been done for the last eight years were proposed to be done under this Bill, to which I have asked your Lordships to give a second Reading.
§ On Question, Whether the word "now" shall stand part of the Motion?
§ Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 58; Not-Contents, 20.129
|Cave, V. (L. Chancellor.)||Churchill, V.||Hampton, L.|
|Cobham, V.||Hanworth, L.|
|Balfour, E. (L. President.)||Falkland, V.||Hawke, L.|
|Inchcape, V.||Hayter, L.|
|Salisbury, M. (L. Privy Seal)||Peel, V.||Howard of Glossop, L.|
|Younger of Leckie, V.||Lawrence, L.|
|Sutherland, D.||Leigh, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Annaly, L.||Lovat, L.|
|Banbury of Southam, L.||Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)|
|Airlie, E.||Biddulph, L.||Merrivale, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Bledisloe, L.||Merthyr, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Carew, L.||Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)|
|Harewood, E.||Cranworth. L.|
|Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Crawshaw, L.||Raglan, L.|
|Mayo, E.||Danesfort. L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Midleton, E.||Desart, L. (E. Desart.)||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Morton, E.||Desborough, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Dynevor, L.||Suffield, L.|
|Plymouth, E. [Teller.]||Elphinstone, L.||Sumner, L.|
|Yarborough, E.||Faringdon, L.||Tweeddale, L. (M. Tweeddale.)|
|Gage, L. (V. Gage.)|
|Bertie of Thame, V.||Glenarthur, L.||Wharton, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Ashton of Hyde, L.||Lamington, L.|
|De La Warr, E. [Teller.]||Cawley, L.||Muir Mackenzie, L.|
|Charnwood, L.||Olivier, L.|
|Allendale, V.||Clwyd, L.||Parmoor, L.|
|Haldane, V.||Farrer, L.||Phillimore, L.|
|Gainford, L. [Teller.]||Sandhurst, L.|
|Arnold, L.||Hemphill, L.||Stanmore, L.|