HL Deb 19 November 1958 vol 212 cc632-724

LORD PAKENHAM rose to call attention to recent outbursts of colour prejudice and violence in this country; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I rise to move the Motion standing in my name and to call attention to recent outbursts of colour prejudice and violence in this country. Between August 24 and September 17, when the disturbances virtually came to an end, 51 coloured people were arrested in the Metropolitan Police District, including 34 in the Notting Hill area. For white people the corresponding figures are 126 arrested in the Metropolitan Police District, including 73 in the Notting Hill area. The white figures, therefore, are considerably higher than the coloured. I am assured that no useful figures can be given for the number of convictions up to the present, since many of the cases are still outstanding. In Nottingham there were serious disturbances on August 23 and on August 30, when 23 white people and 2 coloured people were arrested.

These figures can be regarded as very grave or relatively light according to taste, but I think that most of us felt during those crucial weeks that we were standing on the edge of a precipice and that we were looking into an abyss from which we must draw back, and draw back at once. If that sort of thing was going to continue, it might be an exaggeration to say that our survival was at stake, but it would be no exaggeration whatever to say that our British traditions and the ideals that we most prize and pride ourselves on in the face of the world would be placed in extreme jeopardy. It may not be appropriate, at any rate for me, with other cases pending, to comment on the sentences passed. We can, however, draw satisfaction from the fact that law and order have been restored. The Government did no more than their duty, but they certainly did their duty, and they did well to make it clear, I think, on September 1, that the utmost strictness would be observed in the impartial enforcement of the law and in preventing the illegal carrying of offensive weapons.

The Government stated at that time that they had for some time been examining, to use their own words, the result of this country's time-honoured practice to allow free entry of immigrants from Commonwealth and Colonial countries, and that while this study would continue Her Majesty's Government do not think it right to take long-term decisions except after careful consideration of the problem as a whole. I certainly applaud the refusal of the Government to be panicked at that time into emergency actions or emergency restrictions on immigration under the impact of this wicked violence. But two and a half months have passed, and we are now surely entitled to ask the Government for a clear, unequivocal statement as to where they stand on at any rate the main issues.

May I, for the purpose of exposition, divide the internal from the external problem, taking the external problem first, although I appreciate that of course these two sides of a problem cannot be altogether divorced? By the "external problem" I mean the question that arises from the free and unrestricted entry of immigrants from the Commonwealth, whether white or coloured. There is also the internal question—that of our treatment of the immigrants and their relationship with the native population while they are here. It is difficult to give figures in this respect—any figures given by the Government will be more authoritative than mine—but in order to launch the discussion, may I provide the best figures available to me? I gather from a Government estimate, that the total coloured population in Britain at the present time is about 190,000 out of a population of 50 million—that is, about four out of every 1,000 people are coloured. Of the 190,000 perhaps 100,000 came originally from the West Indies and 50,000 from India and Pakistan. Most of these coloured people are recent immigrants or the children of recent immigrants, though there have been some coloured families in this country for generations.

Immigration from the West Indies, India and Pakistan is still continuing, but India and Pakistan have recently, on their own initiative and in the interests of their citizens, taken some steps to discourage and reduce the flow from those countries; and the flow from India and Pakistan this year may amount to some 12,000. The figures of immigrants from the West Indies were 24,000 in 1955, 26,000 in 1956 and, a little less, 22,500 last year; and the total this year will be perhaps 20,000. That is some decline, bearing in mind in particular the fact that the majority now coming are women and children who are joining men already here.

Considering the difficulties attaching to these figures, for, as we know, immigration statistics are not very good, it is perhaps worth observing that immigration from Australia and Canada combined is not far short of 30,000, so that it is of the same order as the combined immigration from the West Indies, India and Pakistan. If we add in the immigration from Ireland, it was estimated in 1956 that coloured immigrants represented only 25 per cent. of the total. I cannot check these figures and therefore must offer them with reserve. At any rate coloured immigrants were, and are, a minority section of the total immigrants.

It is, of course, their concentration in particular areas and their distinguishing colour which has exaggerated in many eyes their actual numbers. Those factors have helped to encourage the more virulent forms of prejudice against them. It only remains for me to remind the House, as noble Lords will be aware, that throughout the post-war period there has been a heavy balance of emigration from this country, with many more people going out than have come in; and, with a persistent labour shortage most of the time, immigrants have been a valuable, some would say an essential, element in maintaining the supply of labour, and therefore they can clearly be described as a national asset.

A week or so ago, not for the first time recently, I visited a famous boys' club within the affected area in Notting Hill. I was cross-examined for something like two hours by young men there. I cannot say whether their attitude is representative of the young men in that area or elsewhere, but I was submitted to pretty strenuous cross-examination and pressed repeatedly to give any good reason for allowing coloured immigrants to enter this country. The question was simple: "What good do they do us? We do not want them here." If I may descend for a moment to the frivolous, it reminded me of the way in which some noble Lords viewed the entry of ladies into your Lordships' House—" We have got along all right without them; why should we have them now? We do not want to have to sit next to them in the Library." It was talk of that kind, on a more juvenile level and in a more dangerous context, that I encountered in this boys' club in Notting Hill.

That is the question which is being put by many young people at the present time—" What good do they do us? "Taking that question on the national plane, the first answer is that which I have just given: they perform many essential tasks for which labour has not otherwise been available. The second answer surely is implicit in what I have said: that many more people leave this country than enter it. I gather that in 1957 89 per cent. of our emigrants went to the Commonwealth. In terms of legitimate but very crude national self-interest, it should be obvious, even to the blindest, that if we restrict the free entry of Commonwealth citizens into this country we are running the risk of having all kinds of restrictions imposed—restrictions more severe than exist already—on our own emigrants wishing to go to the Commonwealth.

At this point someone might say (though I hope no one in this House will say it): "Why do we not restrict coloured immigrants and let white immigrants come in unrestricted? "Surely that would be colour discrimination of the crudest kind and, I hope, would be repellent to the moral sense of this House and the British people. There are other arguments for the present unrestricted immigration from the Commonwealth, perhaps less easy to measure but even more weighty. Whatever may be said of the self-governing Dominions, we in this country—and an old Colonial Secretary like the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, who I am glad to see is to speak very shortly, would have this very much in mind—must surely accept a major responsibility for the economies of the Colonies and for the welfare of their citizens. We know that widespread unemployment, underemployment, poor housing and very low wages are common throughout the West Indies, India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Africa. Some of those countries are not Colonies, of course. Jamaica is far from the poorest of the Colonies, but I have been advised that in Jamaica the average annual income per head of the population in 1956 was £60. That is more than three times the average for Kenya but compares with £300 per head in the United Kingdom, so that, by that calculation, we here were five times better off per head than those in Jamaica.

The new quota system introduced not long ago by the United States of America drastically reduced opportunities for West Indians to follow their traditional search for employment in that country. In those circumstances who can deny that the citizens of the Colonies, workers who cannot find employment and decent homes in their own countries, should have the same right as Britons in depressed areas to seek jobs and homes in this country?

I say the same right, but of course it may not always be to their advantage individually and collectively to come here. With unemployment increasing here (I do not want to distract the House this afternoon by talking about the reasons for that) obviously the openings in Britain for these coloured immigrants become, at least for the time being, less attractive. It becomes not only the right but the duty of our own Government to keep the overseas authorities concerned most fully in the picture. Those Governments cannot complain, and would be the last to complain, if they are warned of the situation here; but they would have every right to complain if they were not warned about what was really going on. I suppose our Government to be performing that duty; and equally it would seem that the West Indian authorities are collaborating in passing on the warning and doing all they can to make plain to their own population what would be in store for them here.

I have here (though I will not distract the House by brandishing it; I can pass it round after, if required) a vivid poster which demonstrates this. It is issued by the Migration Advisory Service of the Jamaican Government and it is widely circulated throughout the West Indies. It says: Travellers to England. Beware! Remember there is unemployment in England. Make sure there is a job before you go. And it gives much other salutary advice. That is being widely circulated, I gather, in Jamaica and it is obviously a very sensible warning. A warning from us is one thing. The steps that might have been taken by all Colonial Governments, and steps that have been taken by India and Pakistan, to damp down the flow of immigrants in their own interest are not directly our responsibility.

Again, the question may be ventilated this afternoon—the Government have touched on it in a preliminary way already—of deporting Commonwealth citizens who are convicted of serious offences. Standing outside the Government, so to speak, and therefore not being privy to much of what is necessary for a judgment, I could not say that that in all circumstances should be objected to, though it is a course full of hazards. No one knows where it would lead, and it would certainly require very close scrutiny. Certainly it could never be applied on any kind of colour ground or affected by colour considerations; and if it were embarked on it would clearly have to be something to which there was no objection from any Commonwealth Govern- ment concerned. We may hear more on the question of deportation this afternoon. But a restriction imposed here on the free entry of Commonwealth citizens is something utterly different and full of sinister implications if introduced.

I have mentioned our direct economic interest, whether in terms of essential labour here or migration to the Commonwealth. I have mentioned our equally clear moral responsibility for the welfare of the people of the Colonies. But most of us in this House—and I would say that this applies to noble Lords who have done much more for the Commonwealth than I have—are accustomed to think of the mission of the Commonwealth in still wider terms. We all realise that a successful function of the Commonwealth is indispensable to our future prosperity and also to our future influence in the world After all, it is a world now in which the 50 million inhabitants of this small Island might count for less and less if it were not for the influence we could exert through the Commonwealth. I am not interested in prestige—I do not suppose that nowadays, after two wars, most people in this House are interested in national prestige as such—but the Commonwealth, if we play our part properly, can become an ever more vital contributor to world peace.

Our capacity to play our part still depends on the confidence we establish and maintain between ourselves and other Commonwealth members, and particularly on our success in overcoming differences of colour. In the words of the statement issued by the Labour Party, but I am sure echoed in many circles outside my Party, We are firmly convinced that any form of British legislation limiting Commonwealth immigration to this country would he disastrous to our status in the Commonwealth and to the confidence of the Commonwealth peoples. If I am told by any noble Lord that we are unique in preserving the unrestricted, open door, I reply that the Commonwealth is unique, and our place within it is unique. We have given up calling ourselves the Mother Country, and I should defeat my own purpose if I described our role in any language that was even remotely irritating to our sister peoples. But as the oldest member of the Commonwealth, still in some sense the centre and headquarters of the Commonwealth and still in some sense the heart of the Commonwealth, do we not always recognise a special responsibility in this country for holding the Commonwealth together and for inspiring it and for setting standards?

Therefore, I beg the Government—I believe that the noble Earl, Lord Perth, is to reply, and later the noble Lord, Lord Chesham—to say in the clearest possible words (because I fancy their words will be studied in very far quarters) that the Government stand unreservedly for the unrestricted entry of Commonwealth citizens, and in particular that any restriction on grounds of colour would be as detestable in the Government's eyes as in ours.

My Lords, I have spent so long on these vital aspects of what I call the external question that I must leave to other speakers much of what is most important and constructive. I endorse whole-heartedly, of course, what is said in the Labour Party statement on the need for regular consultation with the rest of the Commonwealth and on the internal front about housing policy, about full employment and about a sustained educational campaign—a matter of the utmost importance, on which I believe the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, and the noble Lord, Lord Winster, will be speaking this afternoon. And I know that, from practical, down-to-earth, first-hand knowledge, the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, who is to make his maiden speech this afternoon, can probably contribute as much as any Member of the House. I talk of education; but, of course, that must be a double process: we must educate ourselves; the white people must educate themselves, and we have a good deal that we can teach our coloured friends. There is no question of their being in some way more perfect than we are, but we have a very great double responsibility there. There is also the vital part to be played by the local citizens' committees, such as that presided over by the Mayor of Kensington; and also the strong need for legislation, about which I will say a word before I close. Those are general headings that will no doubt be developed by other speakers, but my personal thoughts, for what they are worth, on the internal aspects can be stated very briefly.

First, the outbreaks in Notting Hill were only partially, perhaps not mainly, a function of colour prejudice. They are attributable at least as much to juvenile and adolescent tendencies in that area, which can be more suitably discussed on a day when we are debating crime in general, and on another when we discuss, as I hope we shall discuss, the Youth Service as a means of defeating crime. I have no desire to stick a criminal label on a large section of London, but everyone is aware, I think, that crime has been heavy in recent years in certain parts of the area under consideration. A recent inquiry discovered, I believe, that in one particular street in North Kensington 89 per cent. of the houses contained a member with a criminal record. That does not apply to the whole of North Kensington, of course, and it would be entirely wrong to give that impression; but there is one such street, and there may be others.

As regards the Youth Service, let us glance at one large community centre (not the club I mentioned earlier) which has 800 members, not all juveniles, of course, and only one warden and one assistant warden to look after them. That is a club I myself visited not long ago. It seems that at about the age of sixteen the boys in that particular club tend to lose interest in athletic games, and although they sometimes recover it later, for a few years they concentrate on rock 'n' roll. But that is not the worst. They do not even tire themselves out by rocking 'n' rolling: they leave that to the girls, while they sit against the walls, like elderly sultans. And you will not be surprised to hear, my Lords, that on occasions the police have had to be called in and the club cleared with police dogs.

That is a community centre, grossly understaffed, in spite of having a respected warden and assistant warden. I dare say that it is an extreme case, when the police have to arrive with dogs. But in the ordinary way, stimulated by this spectacle, but not at all exhausted, the members sally forth from the club, ripe for mischief; and if coloured men cross their path, so much the worse for the coloured men—if not, other victims will do. That is one aspect of the subject which we are discussing this afternoon. I must leave this particular aspect now, for I do not want to restrict other speakers. I must leave it for another occasion.

However, I do not think one can fall back on any senile complacency in talking of the young in this way. It has become all too easy, and certainly very fashionable, to denounce our young people. But when one turns to the Report issued about a year ago by the All-Party Select Committee of Parliament on the Youth Service, I think one's complacency is shattered. I therefore say this: If we older people—we who aspire to have some influence—do not do more for these young people than we are doing at present, and if we starve the Youth Service and so many other social services which could help them in their great need, then it is we, the older ones, who are carrying a terrible responsibility.

Do not let me seem to argue to the House that the attacks on coloured men and the hostility towards coloured men are a product of mere hooliganism. I have recently sat in houses within that same area and talked to responsible citizens (I am talking now of very decent people indeed) who—though they hate to confess it—find their own attitude towards the coloured influence growing less friendly than it was. That is a painful reflection. So many myths are current that it is hard for them to know what to believe. It is widely said that the coloured men undercut the white men in the labour market; that more than their proportion live on immoral earnings; that a high proportion of them suffer from unpleasant diseases, and that they do not know how to use lavatories. Those are things which are being widely said. There is very little truth in them, although there may be in some cases, of course, just an element of what is not altogether incorrect. But I do hope that the Government will say something, either through the noble Earl or through the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, which will make it easier for those who are trying to reason with our white citizens to conduct the argument. One has so few facts with which to make a reply to all these legends which are being circulated, in many cases by evilly-disposed people, and which are being picked up by decent-minded people. I think that a Minister said not so long ago that there was no evidence that coloured people are less law-abiding than white people. I hope that we shall have that said again this afternoon, and that, through our discussions, we can have the whole question brought into proper perspective.

I confess that my own feeling is that the prejudice is likely to continue, even though it may not be allowed to take any violent form, so long as we have this concentration of coloured immigrants taking such a form that, in practice, the white residents are frequently eliminated, gently but firmly, from certain houses or streets. The West Indian welfare officers, whose numbers I hope will be increased, and to whom I should certainly like to pay tribute now, are fully alive to the evil of concentration and are anxious to promote dispersal. But in practice the great difficulty confronts them of finding landlords who will accept West Indians in good surroundings. In other words, we shall never effect dispersal and break the back of this problem unless we break down the discrimination which, though far from universal in our country, is. nevertheless much too prevalent for a country which claims, with some justification, to be Christian.

We in the Party to which I belong have the right to ask the Government, just as we should rightly be asked if we were in power, to define their attitude to public discrimination on grounds of colour. I was sorry to see that Sir David Eccles recently advised the Conference of the British Travel and Holiday Association not to pass a resolution opposing the colour bar in hotels. There have been questions about that in another place. The Prime Minister did his gallant best yesterday to try to put a different complexion on that matter, but it has made a deplorable impression; and I can only hope that something very much better and healthier will be said this afternoon. I hope that it will not be said for the Government that in these matters one must not go ahead of public opinion. That can be a very dangerous argument. It is certainly an argument for doing nothing at all when something very badly needs doing. Public opinion on this question, I venture to think, is in a very confused and impressionable condition. Now, while the nation is still meditating on the Nottingham and Notting Hill riots, is the time for the Government to give a lead, and a lead not only in words but in action.

I mentioned earlier, my Lords, that the Labour Party (and not the Labour Party only) has called for legislation. That call we wholeheartedly endorse from these Benches this afternoon. I should like to put to the noble Earl, Lord Perth, a question, of which I have given him some notice, about hotels. Is it or is it not the case that any hotel licensed as an inn must offer accommodation to any guest who requests it? Is that or is that not the law of the land; and is it the case that any hotel proprietor who refuses admission to a coloured man is guilty of a criminal offence? That is a straightforward question, whether or not the answer is easy to give. We are under the impression that the legal position is far from clear at the present time. We argue, therefore, that legislation should be introduced to cover discrimination by hotels: and not only by hotels, but by all establishments which cater for the public—restaurants, dance halls, and so on.

I go further. If the Government want to give a lead against racial prejudice, as I hope and believe they do, then I submit that they should extend the prohibition of the colour bar to the licensing provisions of public-houses, so that it can be made a criminal offence when colour discrimination is practised. Then, last but by no means least, the prohibition of the colour bar should be extended to leases for houses and flats. To some that may seem a somewhat extreme measure, but I should guess myself, though no-one can prove it, that without some such step the policy of dispersal is likely to remain a dead letter during our lifetime.

I have spoken earlier of the way the Commonwealth is watching our performance, for good or for ill, now that we are faced with the problem on our doorsteps which we hitherto had been able to discuss in a spirit of detachment while others struggled with it overseas. They are watching us inside and outside the Commonwealth; and nowhere, it would seem, with more acute interest than in South Africa and the United States. On every ground of statesmanship it is up to us, the British people, to give our Commonwealth brothers and sisters a warm welcome and to see that they are integrated into our British community and not segregated in special areas of our towns. Nothing less than the policy which I have tried to sketch this after- noon would seem to me to be in keeping with what we claim are the principles of the Commonwealth.

But that should not perhaps be the last word of all. The principles of the Commonwealth go wide and deep, but there are principles which go wider and deeper still. And now, in my last few sentences, I am asking for unanimity—not unanimity about precise measures, as to which the differences of opinion are reasonable and inevitable, but unanimity about the spirit of the message that we send out from this House this afternoon. And that message, if we mean anything by calling ourselves Christian, can only be this: that we recognise that every one of the citizens entrusted to our care should be treated on an equal footing as being of equal importance in the sight of God, whether he be black, white, yellow or brown. I beg to move for Papers.

3.10 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that on all sides of the House there will be agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, in his condemnation of the dastardly attacks which took place in North London, and in one or two other parts of the country, a few months ago. Equally, I am sure, there will be unanimous approval of, and gratitude for, the firm action of the police, the speed with which the hooligans, if not worse, were brought to justice and the stiff sentences which some of the worst of them received. British justice is not only sure but swift.

I can remember the occasion, many years ago, in the days when I was at the Bar, when a French murderer was tried in this country. He was arrested, cum-mined, tried, convicted and sentenced all within little over two months. He was very indignant—not because he [...]ad [...]ot received a fair trial: he said that the trial was completely fair. He also said that the verdict was quite right; he certainly had committed the murder. What shocked him to the core was the speed with which the whole business was conducted. He said that in France it would have taken two or three years, and that this was not the way to conduct the great machine of justice. Fortunately we in this country have—I will not say a better tradition, but at any rate a quicker practice.

I shall intervene for only a few moments. The practical issues before us in this debate are, I think, several. The first is: is there any action which the Government, or Parliament, should take? I need hardly say (I hope my whole official career bears it out) that I am utterly and entirely opposed to racial discrimination in any shape or form. I also value highly the traditional right of any British subject, whatever his colour or creed, to come to the United Kingdom. But that right surely connotes a duty: that if he comes to this country, he must behave as a decent citizen and not abuse the hospitality of this country. Let me say at once that the great majority of these immigrants, whatever their colour, are admirably behaved. I believe that the noble Lord is right and that, by and large, they are just as law-abiding as any of those of us who were born here.

There are, however, a small minority who are guilty of serious offences. Some are guilty of crimes of violence, and I have little sympathy with these. But there is a more despicable set of offenders—the miserable pimps who live on the earnings of prostitutes. That is shocking and disgusting, and if ever there was an abuse of the hospitality of this country, it is the actions of these people. I say, without hesitation, that people who are guilty of offences like that ought certainly to be deported from this country. They are abusing our hospitality and they are also bringing discredit to their fellow-immigrants.

I think that those of us who have had to deal with this question, and who are sympathetic with its difficulties, are anxious about the undercurrent of feeling, of prejudice, that there is against some of these immigrants. I am sure that that is greatly strengthened by the cases, relatively few, of immigrants convicted of such offences. If these people could be deported, as any alien is, on a Home Office order, that would be not only right and just but also greatly to the benefit of the great mass of law-abiding coloured citizens in this country. I am sure that such action would be readily accepted in every part of the Commonwealth. I do not know whether it requires legislation—perhaps we shall be told to-day—but if it does, then I am certain that legislation of this limited kind would go through with speed and with unanimity. I think that that is easy.

We come to a question which is much more difficult: should there be any restriction on entry? It is true (I think that the noble Lord admitted it) that we are the only country in the whole Commonwealth, in both self-governing countries and Colonies, which gives free entry as a right and which does not have some form of restriction. It may be that it would be in the interests of future immigrants themselves that there should be some form of restriction. One of the things that rouses antagonism is that men who are out of work think that some newly arrived immigrants are getting the jobs. They are not getting Lower wages—I am sure they are not. I believe that the whole House was impressed the other day by the speech of my noble friend Lord McCorquodale of Newton, in the debate on the humble Address, when he pointed out that there were ample unfilled vacancies for skilled men, and that the men out of work were nearly always those who were unskilled, and that, with the progress of industry and greater efficiency in mechanisation, more and more would the skilled man be required and less and less would there be a place for the unskilled. Of course, the great majority of the people who come into this country, certainly from the West Indies, are unskilled men.

I had to consider this question of restricting entry while I was in the Government, and I have not lost my interest in it. My view is that even as things are to-day I should deprecate any legislative restriction on the entry of immigrants. I should like to retain the traditional rights of the British citizen to come to this country. I believe that these matters are better dealt with by agreement. I think that there is a great understanding in the West Indies, particularly among responsible Ministers, like Mr. Manley and the Prime Minister of the Federation, of the situation in this country and of how much it is against the interests of their own people to come here unless there are jobs for them. I think a lot of mischief has been done by rather unscrupulous people, not in this country but over there, having organisations which encourage them to go—and I dare say taking money from them, but I do not want to be too dogmatic about that. I am sure also that the painting of rosy pictures which have no near relation to the truth has its effect. I feel that these things are better dealt with by negotiation and agreement and by the spread of knowledge. If that is done, you will get good will and effective co-operation in the countries from which these people come; but without it I do not believe the problem can be solved.

I have only one further thing to say. At the end of his speech the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, as I understood him, advocated new legislation making it a criminal offence for any hotel keeper, lodging-house keeper or keeper of a restaurant or public-house to refuse admission to a coloured person. There is the law to-day. Whatever that law is, I certainly, consistent with my principles, would say that that law should be applied equally, irrespective of any colour question. I am not against a Government giving leads, so long as they are sensible, but I doubt whether it would be wise to introduce new legislation making new criminal offences. I am doubtful whether it would be in the interests of the coloured people themselves, and whether it would be possible to enforce it; and nothing is worse than a law which is unenforceable. You only have to look at Prohibition in the United States, and the awful rackets which followed in its wake, to know that you cannot do a greater disservice to law and order in any country than to create criminal offences which people as a whole are not prepared to accept and which are unenforceable.

I would add this. I know that there are cases—and when I read of them in the papers I am disgusted, as is the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham—where very decent people have been turned away. But when that happens it is not always the fault of the hotel proprietor. He, after all, has to consider his customers, and it is often the case that it is the customers in the hotel who make it almost impossible for the hotel proprietor to do what no doubt is his civil duty and what many hotel proprietors would be perfectly ready and willing to do. I think it would be a mistake to attempt to create new criminal offences. Let us proceed in this matter by, if I may so put it—the noble Lord ended by saying that this was a Christian matter, and I agree with him—spreading the light of the gospel. It is by decent people making their influence felt that the majority of people will be brought, as a matter of course, to accept any man, whatever his colour. That, I believe, is the way in which we shall make most progress, and progress with general good will.

I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, has raised this matter, and I look forward to hearing the speeches which will be made in the debate. I am sure that, not for the first time, the noble Lord does a signal public duty in raising this subject, and he has done so, as he always does, in a moderate and persuasive way. I am sure that nothing can do more good in this country and throughout the Commonwealth than the kind of authoritative, informed, understanding and sympathetic debate that I know we shall have in this House; and I am sure that the House will send to the Commonwealth the kind of message in which the noble Lord has asked us to concur.

3.26 p.m.


My Lords, I ask for the indulgence that is always accorded to those who for the first time have the honour of addressing your Lordships. My natural feelings on this occasion will be well understood, and they are by no means lessened by still vivid recollections of a similar maiden essay that I made some thirteen years ago from this very Bench when it was temporarily part of another place, even though now, as on that occasion, my noble friend Lord Macpherson of Drumochter is sitting at my right hand as bottle holder. My apprehensions do not spring from any doubt of your Lordships' kindness, but from my own inadequate mastery of what I may be allowed to call your disarming methods. It is a totally new experience for me to sit and listen to debates without being aware that blows have been struck until I read the same speeches in Hansard the next morning. The only consolation I have is that when I am myself the subject of such verbal knockouts there will be no pain, and on recovering consciousness no need to ask, '" Where am I? ", because obviously I shall be among friends.

My main difficulty, however, is that maiden speeches should be non-controversial, which I have always thought in Parliament to be virtually impossible. I have been trying to recall any statement I have ever heard at Westminster which has not at some time or other been the subject of controversy, and the only one I have been able to think of is: "Prayers are over." So, in default of saying nothing at all, I will give expression to a few sincerely held convictions, although having listened with complete agreement to the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, I do not think I am likely to say anything which your Lordships will find unacceptable.

In recent years changes have been wrought in the British Commonwealth of which we can all be justly proud. Potentially, in my view it is the greatest force for peace in the world. But I feel that our high hopes of building a successful multi-racial Commonwealth will not be achieved unless we succeed in ending colour prejudice here in Britain. I think it is as important as that. But, important as it is, and grave as the recent outbreaks in West London and Nottingham certainly were, I am convinced of two things. The first is that these recent, much publicised outbreaks totally misrepresent the attitude of the vast majority of our people; and the second is that the trouble cannot he cured by legislation. I think it would help (and I wholly agree with my noble friend Lord Pakenham on this point) to make the colour bar illegal in accommodation, in places of employment and in public places, but it would be a moral rather than a practical advantage: there would be a great moral advantage in clearly indicating the official or Government attitude.

But no one is going to a hotel if he has to take a policeman with him to ensure admission; and no one can last long in employment if his workmates are unwilling to work with him. Colour prejudice is rooted deep in ignorance, and you cannot cure that kind of ignorance by law. We shall end racial intolerance only when each and every one of us makes it his personal business to ensure that no one is penalised, either economically or socially, because of the colour of his skin. Speaking as an employer, I would say that every employer and every trade unionist has a vital part to play.

I should like, as briefly as possible, to give my idea of the nature and size of the problem and some of the things that I think can be done to help solve it. First, with regard to its size. Until recently I represented in another place the metropolitan boroughs of Shoreditch and Finsbury. They are immediately adjacent to the City on the east and northeast, and, despite the building of thousands of council flats, there is still a grave housing problem there. The still remaining privately-owned houses are over a century old, and sub-standard. Geographically you have all the classic conditions present, and not surprisingly there is a fair number of Commonwealth residents there, particularly Cypriots, Maltese and West Indians.

In addition, it is an area where, for the last twenty-five years, apart from the war years, the Fascists have maintained a persistent and sustained effort. Indeed, they were so strong there before the war that the late William Joyce was a Shoreditch London County Council candidate. In recent years they have circulated the Black-Shirt every other month from house to house, free of charge. It is a local sheet, grossly libellous and hideously cartooned, in which real grievances such as housing are cleverly and unscrupulously exploited with the prime object of arousing racial intolerance. But, despite this activity, at municipal elections, which they contest regularly, their candidates get only about 2 per cent. of the votes cast, which means that they are supported by far less than 1 per cent. of the people. That is precisely my estimate of colour prejudice in acute and violent form.

In case this should be regarded as a superficial judgment, I would mention that I have a factory in the area, and spend a considerable part of each working day there. For many years every Friday evening until last month I held constituency interviews. One can get to know what people are thinking in that way, because when they are troubled or angered they speak their minds. In my opinion, good housing would remove the major cause of ill-feeling which exists at present, although even that is largely fed on untruths. You get a distressed mother coming before you with two or three children living in one or two rooms, and complaining that she has waited in vain for a council flat for ten years, while a Negro family has been given one in twelve months. Immediately she is challenged she withdraws, and the statements are obviously lies that are spread. No local authority allows colour or creed to influence its housing allocation but, unfortunately, they often fail to say so. It needs saying often and authoritatively, so that the truth can be made known before the lies get a hold. On the other hand, real trouble does arise when Negro families buy a part-occupied house. Their part immediately becomes grossly overcrowded and the shared facilities intolerably overstrained. No one can possibly live under such conditions without being irritated. Of course, the local authorities have powers in matters of that kind, and they should exercise the powers they possess.

Another real grievance arises from the fact that for a long time now, in all metropolitan boroughs, building for housing for general need has been suspended in favour of slum clearance. Very properly and necessarily the slum families, both white and coloured, are re-housed in new flats. But it would appear to many tragic families on the waiting list that they are left virtually without hope. This is a social and not a racial problem, but it has racial implications in the kind of area I have described. The difficulty can be solved by a resumption of building for general housing need, and according to an announcement made recently that is to be very soon.

These are real problems, but I can honestly say that in the last six years, in this difficult area with a resident population of about 80,000 men, women and children and a much larger day-time population, there has not, to my knowledge, been a single disturbance arising from racial prejudice or things of that kind. My view is that where these incidents occur, they are fostered by a Fascist minority, working on the ignorant prejudices of the "dead-beats" of a "beat" generation—a tiny minority of, I suppose, worthless youngsters who are so secretly conscious of their own inferiority that they have to resort to violence in order that they may feel superior to someone. It does not matter who the victims are. As well as coloured people, they could be Jews, Irish, or any recognisable group.

It is to me unthinkable that because of them we should adopt panic measures such as the restriction of coloured immigrants—any kind of restriction. Quite apart from the vital blow it would deal to the Commonwealth, there is the im- portant fact, of which people are insufficiently aware, that more people emigrate from Britain each year than come into the country. Certainly we must consult with Commonwealth countries to ensure that would-be immigrants, before they leave their homes, know all about the conditions here and all about the prospects of employment. Do not let us forget that, even if they do know, they are not so likely to be deterred, because what is hardship here may still seem luxury to them. But that is another side of the story.

There is no question that in the long term the schools will provide the solution. My office window overlooks the playground of a large secondary school of which my noble friend Lord Lucan is one of the governors and of which, incidentally, a Cypriot boy is a very popular head boy. I see the children almost every day, both under discipline and in the riotous, noisy, uninhibited periods of complete freedom. No one can say with absolute certainty that with children and adolescents there is no problem—perhaps I had better qualify that by saying "the younger adolescents." But certainly with the children of that secondary school up to the age of fifteen there is no problem at any age or at any level. If you were foolish enough to speak to them about colour prejudice they would not begin to know what you were talking about. I know the difficulties. If local education authorities could spread coloured children in as many schools as possible, it would not be many years before we had an adult generation which was unconscious of colour problems.

I would make two suggestions. The first concerns the minority of criminal immigrants and the undesirable cafés. It seems to me extraordinary that we take such pains about the licensing of people who sell intoxicants, and almost no trouble at all in licensing these all-night cafés, for many of which the term "den of inquity" is a compliment. A publican must be a man of irreproachable character, and if he serves drinks after 10.30 p.m. he loses his licence. Yet in my constituency I had an all-night café run by Maltese and licensed by the London County Council. It was in a mean street but inhabited by decent working people. For two years their lives were made an absolute misery by the incessant blaring, day and night, of the juke box, the quarrels and fights, the smashing of windows and the real danger to their womenfolk and children. It was the haunt of blackguards, of Borstal boys on the run and girl prostitutes. The police did their utmost, but they were powerless apart from a couple of convictions for minor offences. The London County Council, to whom I appealed, said that they could not withdraw the licence unless there was some really serious and successful conviction.

Surely, my Lords, we should insist that the regulations governing the licensing of such places must be more stringent, and that the police should be not only consulted but given wider powers when cafés of this kind become a real nuisance. I have on this matter pressed both the police, who have been extremely willing and co-operated to the extent almost of leaving some other duties, and the London County Council, but there is still a big gap in between which should be filled.

I have spoken of this particular café, the only one I had in my former Division, in the past tense. The reason is this. Some months ago a respectable working man who lived nearby was walking by with his wife and children and was so cruelly set upon by three or four of these cafe loungers that his life was seriously in danger. When he came out of hospital he came to me and asked for police protection, not for himself but for his wife and two children who had been threatened if he persisted in his intention of giving evidence against his assailants. The protection was given and the men convicted. Judge Maude, whom some of us remember with affection as an esteemed colleague in another place, when they came up for sentence gave them as the alternative to a long prison sentence the option of going immediately back to Malta provided they stayed away for ten years, and they went that night. In default of possible legislation, which may be difficult and which would most certainly have far-flung repercussions. I should have thought that this method could prove an effective way of ridding the country of criminals from overseas, just as the stringent licensing of cafés would remove many breeding grounds of crime and racial intolerance.

Finally, my Lords, I would plead for better co-ordination of individual activity in welcoming overseas citizens. Last month my local branch of the United Nations Association organised, with the help of the British Council, the visit of some twenty Commonwealth students. We each had one or two of them in our homes for the week-end. They were all colours from yellow to black—Chinese from Singapore, Nigerians, and Philippinos who, I was very glad to note, preferred to come here to study rather than the United States. My guest came from the Seychelles. Most of them had been here only a few weeks. The visit was a complete and absolute success both from the viewpoint of the hosts and the guests. It is, of course, excellent to promote lectures and study groups for students, but for real understanding there is nothing to compare with a man putting his feet under your table and sharing the ordinary life of the family.

There are 600 branches of the United Nations Association in this country, and only that one single branch organises visits of this kind. If all the 600, and similar social organisations, followed suit, and the churches, too, arranged similar visits of that kind, we could make friends and promote real understanding with tens of thousands of Commonwealth citizens, and many of them would include the future leaders in industry, in the professions and in politics in the countries of the Commonwealth. I should think it would do more good in one year towards a real United Nations than all the speeches and resolutions can do in a century.

My Lords, I am very conscious that I have contributed nothing to this debate except a limited personal experience, but that experience leads me to the sincere belief that although we must take resolute action with a minority of troublemakers, both white and coloured, there is not any real problem, any really serious problem, with the vast majority of ordinary, decent folk. They must be given the facts regularly and often. Facilities must be provided so that their natural human warmth and sympathy can be guided into the channels where it will do most good. But in no circumstances must we ever countenance action, by legislation or otherwise, which will seriously disrupt the greatest force for peace in the world, the integration and intercommunication of the peoples of the Commonwealth.

3.45 p.m.


My Lords, you would all wish me to begin by extending the warmest possible congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, on the admirable speech to which we have just listened. It was full of interesting firsthand information—the noble Lord certainly need not have apologised in his concluding sentences for giving us so much first-hand experience—it was full of first-hand information, it was persuasive and it was eloquent. In past debates in your Lordships' House I was not among those who extended the warmest of welcomes to the prospect of the arrival of Life Peers, but I feel now that if I could have had a preview of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, or at any rate a prehearing, I should very likely have taken a different line. Most of your Lordships will remember, as I certainly do, the appalling preliminary terrors of delivering a maiden speech in your Lordships' House. I still dream about it sometimes myself, after a heavy dinner. I suspect that the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, was nervous before he began—I believe no speech worth listening to was ever made before which the speaker had not a certain amount of preliminary tremors (it is said that even the younger Pitt at the height of his powers was always afraid that he might fail)—but if Lord Stonham was nervous he certainly did not show any signs of it, which is always very pleasant for an audience. I am sure your Lordships agree that we hope to hear him frequently in our debates.

I should like to begin by recalling that it is almost precisely two years—to be precise it was on November 20, 1956—that I had the honour of moving a Motion in your Lordships' House to draw attention to the problems arising from West Indian immigration into the United Kingdom. The avowed and principal object of that Motion was to give the Government an oppo[...]unity of making a considered statement about what was already a serious problem and might alt too evidently soon mature into a crisis. I recalled that after the First World War there had been race riots in Liverpool and Cardiff and disturbances of a lesser extent in Glasgow, on the Tyneside and in London, and that there had been a serious race riot in Cardiff in 1949. I pointed out one or two danger signals, for example the statement recently made by a Barbadian Minister that he knew of an English landlord who had evicted an English tenant paying twenty-five shillings a week and had leased the space thus made available to no fewer than eight West Indian tenants paying twenty-five shillings a week each. I asked the Government—and here, if I may, I will quote precisely [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 200, col. 395]: Have they convincing reasons for supposing that no such trouble will arise, or are they merely, under whatever sonorous camouflage, hoping for the best? The reply for Her Majesty's Government was given by the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft. He gave us one of the admirable speeches which we so much regret we do not still hear, but I think it would be fair to summarise his theme as being that the Government did not consider the dangers serious but were watching the situation closely. I must say that in view of what has happened since I cannot help wondering whether on that occasion, as on a number of others. "watching the situation closely" may not have been officialese for hoping for the best."

I do not want to repeat what was said in a previous debate; we all know—indeed we have been reminded by the noble Lords who have already spoken—that unrestricted immigration from the West Indies has bred some, ugly social problems, and is likely to continue to breed them so long as it continues on the same scale. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, is naturally concerned about one of the social problems arising from this immigration—colour prejudice. I myself do not consider that this is one of the most serious problems, but it is one aspect of them.

I myself think that there is a good deal of mental confusion about colour prejudice. I think that over a great part of these islands our people are exceptionally and creditably free from colour prejudice of any kind. I believe that few individuals feel any instinctive prejudice against a coloured individual because he is coloured. Most of what can be so readily mistaken for colour prejudice is not prejudice against the colour of the West Indians but against their numbers; for it has to be remembered that although there are only about 100,000 of them in the country, these are concentrated in four or five already highly congested cities. Where there are no excessive numbers there is, so far as I can find, very little, or no, prejudice.

Two years ago a coloured native of the West Indies stayed over Christmas in my house. He was received everywhere in the village with open arms. It was only too evident that if there were any prejudice in respect of his colour it was prejudice in his favour. But then he was riot competing for the village amenities. To take a different example, in order to illustrate the same point which I am trying to make, I have heard more bitter complaint from a gentle, elderly English lady against the Americans who had occupied most of the flats in the block in which she lived and were making them noisy at night than I have ever heard against West Indian immigrants. That was prejudice, if you like, but it was certainly not colour prejudice. It was prejudice against what was held, rightly or wrongly, to be an intrusion in unwarrantable numbers, and a diminution of the local amenities.

If it were known in my home village that my noble friend Lord Pakenham were coming to live there, I should not be at all surprised if the bell-ringers were to ring a self-congratulatory chime on the church bells. If it were known that five Lord Pakenhams were coming I should still expect that whenever two or three villagers met together they would be exchanging congratulations. But if it were known that twenty Lord Pakenhams were coming, and if there were a shortage of housing in the village, then I think that there might be some murmurings. But it would not be anti-Pakenham prejudice—God forbid!; it would be prejudice aroused by competition for the limited vilinge amenities. And that, I think, is what we find in towns such as Birmingham, Nottingham and Liverpool at this moment. And that, after all, is a natural kind of resentment and quite distinct from colour prejudice as such. Suppose, for a moment, that it was 25,000 Maltese, who are not coloured people, and not 25,000 West Indians who were pouring into this country every year. You would certainly by now have had some ugly social problems. You might well have had some riots, too. But they would not have had anything to do with colour.

Now if these people had been Maltese, I think it is more than probable that before now we should seriously have considered introducing some sort of regulation of the inflow, for the simple reason that we should not have been scared off it by the ever-present threat of being accused of colour prejudice. After all, in an age which is too much, rather than too little, addicted to planning, it is a somewhat startling anomaly that every citizen of the British Commonwealth—all 539 million of them—is held to possess a natural and inalienable right to reside in these small and congested Islands; whereas migration into virtually every other country in the world, and certainly migration from these Islands into any other country of the Commonwealth, is subject to elaborate processes of selection, regulation and even prohibition.

If one asks why we in this small and over-populated country should not ask our fellow-citizens in the countries of the Commonwealth overseas, some of which are crying out for additional migrants to fill their empty spaces, to accept from us much the same conditions of entry which they accord to us, the first reply is apt to be, "Oh, but, after all, Britain is the metropolis of the Commonwealth". I think we have heard that view put forward this afternoon. But when you come to think of it, my Lords, London is the metropolis of England; and yet by now we have begun to find that mere laissez-faire in respect of the migration, so to call it, of citizens from other parts of England into London is creating some formidable social problems which we are now compelled to seek to alleviate by encouraging some of the population of London to move into satellite towns elsewhere.

Again, I read not so long ago in one of the Jamaican daily morning newspapers (I forget whether it was the Beacon or the Gleaner) the argument or assertion, not that there are certain obligations on the metropolis of the Commonwealth, but that this country is the motherland of the West Indies and, indeed, of the entire Commonwealth. Here I think we come to the crux of the whole problem. I speak here as a mere historian and not as a lawyer, and therefore subject to correction from an uncomfortable number of quarters in your Lordships' House; but surely the tradition that all the 530-odd million citizens of the Commonwealth overseas necessarily possess an indefeasible right to live here, whatever the condition of their health, their finance or their morals, whereas citizens of these Islands have to prove their qualifications for living in countries of the Commonwealth overseas, whether or not it has been embodied in law, does not derive from any fundamental legal or moral concept but, quite simply and historically, from an era of some 100 years ago or more, when the natives of these islands were settling great empty countries overseas. Then it was eminently and evidently natural and right that an Englishman, or a Scot, or a Welshman who had chanced his luck, so to say, in Canada or New Zealand and had not made a success of the venture, should be entitled without let or hindrance or question to return to his native land. The notion that the citizens of every country under the British flag necessarily enjoy similar rights under the extraordinarily different conditions of to-day derives historically, I believe, from that earlier colonial period, and requires reconsideration.

Is there any ultimately valid reason why, without doing any harm whatever to inter-Commonwealth relations, we should not ask our friends overseas, of all colours and in all Commonwealth countries, to agree to accept from us something like the conditions of entry which we accept from them? I say "something like", because undoubtedly we should wish to interpret such conditions in a specially generous manner. We should not seek to exclude, but rather should wish to be able to exercise some power of selection and regulation. And in that way we should not be exposing ourselves to the invidious and ever-dreaded charge of colour prejudice, for we should be seeking to establish by agreement a new arrangement with peoples of all colours within the Commonwealth.

I believe, nevertheless, that we should in fact be taking the most effective method open to us of obviating the growth of the prejudice which is concerning us this evening and which is so readily mistaken for colour prejudice but is, I believe, much more often prejudice against the intrusion of what are held to be, in the circumstances, unwarrantable numbers. Unless some such measure is adopted that prejudice will, alas! continue, and will inevitably be increasingly associated with colour, so that thus we shall quite unnecessarily be raising up for ourselves within the next generation a full-scale colour problem.

4.2 p.m.


My Lords. I must begin, if your Lordships will allow me, by adding my congratulations to those which my noble friend Lord Stonham has already received upon his maiden speech. I believe there will be general agreement that it was a speech of particular interest and one which was based upon facts which clearly have come under his own very shrewd observation; and it was quite evident, from the approving murmurs which accompanied his speech, that your Lordships will be always very glad to hear from him whenever he is good enough to offer the House his opinions upon any subject under debate.

I have to declare a certain interest in this matter. as I am vice-president of a society which occupies itself with the prevention of slavery and the preservation of human rights and in that capacity a great deal of information comes to me which bears upon the subject of the Motion before the House. This has led me to the very definite opinion that discrimination because of race, colour or religion is an intolerable insult to the human dignity of an individual; and in my experience I have found that this discrimination is often practised or preached by people whom I should describe as of a rather low "I.Q."

It has been noticeable that in this debate there has not been very much dwelling upon the events which occurred in Notting Hill and Nottingham. The debate seems to have tended to get away from that aspect, and I am not sure that that is not a very good thing. Perhaps we might now begin to finish with the events at Notting Hill. If it is true, as my noble friend Lord Pakenham has said, that we had there a glimpse into the abyss, it may be that that glimpse has done us a great deal of good and may have put an end to this racial discrimination for some time to come. My dogs have an abominable habit of going down to the orchard, digging up their bones, giving them a chew over and then burying them again. I have never found that a very good way of conducting human relations, so perhaps having had this debate about Notting Hill, we may in future regard that matter as settled.

After all, the new-style Commonwealth, as we know it to-day, is an immense multi-racial association, particularly exposed to very difficult race relations; and, with the growth of nationalism, these tend to become more sensitive and more difficult. If they go wrong, then peace and friendship will go. We have to learn to get along together with various races. It is the responsibility of the Commonwealth to teach lessons of racial understanding and co-operation. To my mind that is a far greater mission which falls to the lot of the Commonwealth to-day than the old mission of conquest of empire. I believe that, in its present form and present mission, it is a symbolic fact of supreme importance that all citizens of the Commonwealth are welcomed here. To my mind that is the very symbol of Commonwealth.

What are the facts which cause friction with the coloured people? I would say that undoubtedly the chief of them is housing—I hear that wherever I go and wherever I make inquiries. It is this living cheek-by-jowl in crowded and unsatisfactory housing conditions. Then, of course, there are in industry spells of recession and unemployment which cause difficulty, for I think we do not always stop to realise the supreme importance to our working people of their job. They have traditions and experience of being out of a job—and very painful ones, too—and therefore the job is something to which they cling; and any suspicion that somebody may be doing them out of a job, or is likely to do so, will arouse their liveliest suspicions and resentment. In addition to employment and housing there are the facts of very different habits and customs of life. The question of w amen has been touched upon this afternoon, and that aspect, of course, gives rise to feelings from time to time; and the greater the physical differences—as, for instance, supremely, difference in colour—the greater are the tensions.

These difficulties call for the utmost patience and forbearance. I am quite aware that it is far easier to talk about that when one does not have to live in actual contact with those of other races but nevertheless I believe what I have said is quite true; and, after all, these immigrants are not without their troubles. It is not only we who have difficulties to support because of their presence here. To immigrants this must seem a very strange, cold, wet country, inhabited by people of very strange ways. They themselves have considerable adjustments to make, more particularly as so many of them come into the hurly-burly of our industrial life from, perhaps, a sugar plantation. It is a very big adjustment indeed that they have to make.

The figures about this immigration have been given, and I will not repeat them, but I do not think it has been mentioned that this year alone something like 20,000 women and children are expected to come here from the West Indies. I think the details showing where they settle—a matter which has been mentioned once this afternoon—are also of interest. I hear that about 40 per cent, of them settle in London, and some 30 per cent. in the Midlands. It may be a reflection upon the views of the West Indians that I understand Scotland accommodates only 3 per cent. of these immigrants.

The West Indies always have had in the past a very considerable migration; but the quotas are now getting tighter; the doors are shutting on them. The United States of America now admit only 100 West Indians a year. The West Indies no longer come under the British quota, and 100 from that teeming West Indian population is not a great contribution to the problem. Then, of course, there is now a poor employment situation in South America, so that again the South American States restrict immigration into their countries. So it is not surprising that the West Indians, and other coloured races, too, increasingly look to this country as their one asylum.


My Lords, would the noble Lord allow me to make one point with regard to the United States? That is that they do admit an enormous number of Puerto Ricans, whose country is, of course, a West-Indian island. They are making a very considerable contribution to solving the problem by doing that.


I know that. I have seen consignments arrive at Idlewild, but. I was thinking about this country in relation to what we regard as West Indians. Geographically, Puerto Rico is a West-Indian island, but we do not think in this country of Puerto Rico as one of our West-Indian islands.

My Lords, the great question is: what is the way to improve race relations? I would say, first and foremost, by education in schools, in colleges and in universities, and by informed teaching—teaching how interesting other peoples' lives are, and how great and how remarkable have been the achievements of some coloured people. I am sure that it will be so, but I should like to ask whether it is the case that the Ministry of Education impress this particular side of education upon those who go to our teachers' training colleges, because I regard it as essential that there should be thorough, complete and sympathetic teaching about the ways in which other people live. I feel, too, that local authorities, who I am sure already do a great deal, might do still more to encourage committees to bring our own people together with the minority and immigrant groups which come to the country, and to combat every form of discrimination. This is what I believe in, first and foremost: education and encouragement towards integration.

I am not so "sold" on legislation. I have found myself, as is so often the case when he speaks, in agreement with what the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, said on this subject. I consider that legislation, especially legislation against discrimination, might easily increase prejudice. It would be a very difficult law to enforce, and while, in principle, I dislike passing any new law, I am sure that the fatal thing to do is to pass a law which cannot be enforced. I cannot help noticing that some progress, not bad progress, was being made towards integration in the Southern States of America before the Supreme Court handed down its judgment about integration; and since then things do not perhaps appear to have gone quite so smoothly or so well. I am sure that the worst possible form of legislation would be to limit the numbers of Commonwealth immigrants coming here. That, I think, would be completely disastrous and would lose us the confidence of the coloured races throughout the world, which to-day I think we can fairly say we enjoy to a very considerable extent.

I should be prepared—I have not yet come to a final conclusion—to listen to arguments in favour of preventing convicted criminals from coming in here, which would of course be a matter for Commonwealth consultation; but I should be strongly opposed to do anything to impair our good record in regard to receiving people from other lands, and especially from the Commonwealth. We have a very good record in this matter.


My Lords, may I intervene? I believe I am right in saying that in Jamaica, for example, a convicted criminal, or a criminal convicted of certain crimes, is not in fact able to obtain a passport at present.


That is the sort of thing to which I have referred. I should be quite prepared to listen to the arguments about such action. But even if there is a case for excluding criminals, I do not think there is a case for deporting those who become criminals after their arrival in this country. In my own words, I would say that we have to consume our own smoke in this matter: if a man goes wrong here, well, we must take the responsibility for that. I think it would be a very bad thing indeed to deport him.

I have spoken already about education. I believe that we have to try to fight against a longstanding prejudice that people of colour are less intelligent than white people and cannot be adapted to Western ways. I believe that the contrary to that is being constantly proved, on an increasing scale, year by year. It cannot really be said that the coloured man is inherently inferior to the white man and always will be, although I know that a certain country is trying to prove that that is the fact and that the lot of the coloured man has been Divinely ordained to be that of a hewer of wood and a drawer of water. My stand in racial matters is very different, and I am quite sure that the attempt to which I have referred will ultimately fail.

I believe that our position in the matter was well expressed by Mr. Justice Salmon when passing sentence in one of these Notting Hill cases. I consider that his words were splendid words. He said: Everyone, irrespective of the colour of their skin, is entitled to walk through our streets in peace, with their heads erect and free from fear. That is a right which these courts will always unfailingly uphold. I doubt whether the matter could possibly tie better put than it was put by Mr. Justice Salmon in those words; and they should form our guide, our principle, in these matters.

Moreover, the boot is not all on one foot. Our economy is under a considerable debt to these immigrants. They have filled in where labour has been short. Especially they have filled in in transport and in hospitals. The Birmingham Corporation decided to employ coloured men on equal terms with white as far back as 1953, and I have been told repeatedly that the West Indian recruits have been notable for their courtesy and for their ability at their job. In London Transport there is a very large coloured contingent. They have a West Indian graduate employed as a welfare officer. They take great care in training, and results have been excellent.

When difficulties do occur in industry I think it is because management and labour are often reluctant to embark upon a new departure—to open up in new ways. We must admit the fact that we cannot yet say that equal opportunity exists for these people in this country; nor do I think we could get this equality of opportunity by legislation. Because how could one prove that employment had been refused or that promotion had been denied, on grounds of colour? It would be only too easy for an employer to advance another reason than the real one. The assurance of equal opportunities will depend upon a change of attitude in this matter and that can come about only slowly. It must come by a change of attitude following on experience and on education; it cannot satisfactorily be achieved by legislation. However, a leaven is working in this matter of employment., The Transport and General Workers' Union, for instance, has come out strongly against discrimination. I have read of a shop stewards' committee in a large works in the Midlands which has put up this statement: All workers are on equal terms, and provided our coloured friends join the appropriate unions, work for the rate for the job and obey the rules, they will receive the same consideration as anyone else. That is a step in the right direction, and the coloured workers will do well to pay heed to that advice to join the unions and to be good union members.

I should like now to return for one brief moment to the question of housing, which I believe is the greatest single cause of antagonism that exists. At the back of it, of course, is not so much the coloured man—the Hungarian refugees met with just the same difficulties when they came over here. The trouble is that we suffer from a chronic housing shortage; and, that being so. sub-standard conditions are bound to exist, and coloured landlords will be found in possession of houses charging grossly unfair rents for overcrowded, bad accommodation. There will be no general cure for this problem while accommodation continues to be in short supply.

In regard to matters other than housing, local authorities who have not already got them (probably a great many of them have) would do well to establish liaison officers to assist the coloured folk generally about their affairs; and all established organisations can help by encouraging these people to join the many clubs and societies which exist in this country. I found myself in head-on opposition to something I saw the other day, a statement that these people should be encouraged to form their own clubs and societies. I should have said that that is the very thing we do not want them to do. We want them to integrate and to join the clubs and societies which already exist in this country; and I know that where this has been done, integration has gone smoothly: neighbourliness and friendliness inevitably gradually replace prejudice.

My Lords, in conclusion, and with reference to what I said earlier about the feeling that the coloured man is essentially inferior to the white man, I must say that that has not always been my experience. I have never noticed, for instance, that white children have a natural antipathy to coloured people. I remember that I visited a school in Ghana, before it became Ghana, which had been established by the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation under the auspices of General Spears, who had very wisely said that this school must be opened to black and white children alike. I have rarely in my life seen a prettier sight than the black and white children playing together at recreation time at that school. I noticed the same thing in Cyprus, where we had a considerable number of coloured people. I never saw any prejudice amongst children there. Then I know of a young coloured officer who has just finished his training in our Navy. He has been one of the most popular officers who has ever been under training in our Navy. Everyone he has met, from cadets up to captains, has thought him a fine fellow and has treated him absolutely as an equal. As for these bush-men that we are hearing about now, they are by no means stupid people. And among the Aboriginals of Australia, who are supposed by some people to be hardly human, is one called Mamatizaire, who is one of the finest water colour painters working to-day.

It has been said to-day that the term "Mother Country" is going out of fashion—and that may be so. But if any meaning is to remain in the term "Commonwealth"—common wealth; common weal—we really cannot bar entry to people from the Commonwealth or make life uncomfo[...]able for those who do come here. We ought to be able to put up with and assimilate those who come. To do so will give meaning and reality to the word "Commonwealth" and will show an example to the world. These men have talents and aptitudes which it is only common sense for us to utilise, and we shall get the best out of them—a very valuable best for this country—by giving them conditions here which enable them to feel that they are a respected part of our community. To this end, surely, the Government, employers, trade unions, and local authorities should all work together.

4.28 p.m.


My Lords, those who have longest experience of your Lordships' House will, I am sure, agree that it nearly always shows itself at its best on the most delicate subjects. And this, I think, has been no exception to the rule. All the speeches that have been made have been moderate and have been thoughtful, from the admirable speech, if I may say so, of my noble friend Lord Pakenham to the equally admirable speech of Lord Stanham, who is clearly going to be a great addition to this House. I shall try to live up to that level.

The terms of the Motion which Lord Pakenham has introduced are so framed as to cover two questions: racial discrimination and colonial immigration. They are, of course, often linked together in the public mind, but they are not identical. On racial discrimination, in the sense of the strictest meaning of that term, I imagine that there can be little difference of opinion in any quarter. We all believe in this country that all men should be equal before the law, whatever their race or colour. I do not think there is any difference of view about that in any Party or in any section of opinion. We have all been deeply shocked by the racial disturbances at Nottingham and Notting Hill, and we have all welcomed the salutary sentences which were imposed upon young people who thought it fair game to beat up their fellow-citizens because they were of a different colour from themselves. I am sure that it was right to impose those sentences and, as we know, they have had excellent results.

All that is common ground, but clearly the allied subject of colonial immigration (and by that I mean unlimited colonial immigration, because that is really the point at issue) does, to some of us at any rate, present certain greater difficulties. I know that there are many—the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, himself is one—whose views we hold in great respect, who do not share our apprehensions on this point. Father Huddleston, a man of heroic personality, whose courage and idealism we all admire, went so far as to express the view in a letter to The Times last autumn that any limitation of coloured immigration would be un-Christian. I think that the noble Lord and others who have spoken have approached this matter as one of the great moral issues of this time.

I do not think that anyone is in any doubt about the importance of this subject as a social and political problem of the most complex kind. The wide implications of it must be obvious to anyone who thinks at all. But—and I speak, I can assure your Lordships, as a most sincere admirer of the colonial peoples—there must equally be many like myself who cannot regard the question of whether immigration from the Colonies to this country should be limited or unlimited as essentially a moral one and are convinced that the premises from which the conclusions flow are false premises. And nothing is more dangerous than that.

May I give one simple example of what I mean? We were told in the letter by Father Huddleston to which I have referred—and I will quote his exact words because I think it is a good illustration of this argument: Christian justice demands of us, who for centuries have indulged in the white colonisation of Africa to our advantage, that we should do something to redress the balance. Those were Father Huddleston's words. That type of argument seems to me to assume that all the benefit from Britain's Colonial Empire in Africa and elsewhere has accrued to us and not to the indigenous inhabitants. I could not myself for one moment accept that argument.

Of course, we in this country have had great benefit from our Colonies, but so have the indigenous peoples. Take Central Africa. If one reads the accounts of conditions when we first went to Central Africa seventy or eighty years ago—if, for example, one reads Roland Oliver's life of Sir Harry Johnston, which was published last year—one gets a picture of a continent devastated and in some places almost depopulated by tribal strife and by the slave trade. If those same people to-day enjoy peace and justice, and if in many places they are reaching out to full membership of the Commonwealth, the main credit for these things is due to us. In my view we have nothing to apologise for in our colonial record. Whatever other arguments may he produced in favour of unrestricted immigration, arguments economic or other, I certainly feel that it would be most unwise for us to base our future policies riot on their intrinsic merits but on this hypothetical moral debt which I believe is at least of doubtful validity.

Then there is the argument, which we often hear when we express our faith, as we do, in the idea of Commonwealth citizenship, that we should mean what we say and that the acid test of that is that we should allow unlimited colonial immigration into this country. To that argument I sometimes feel inclined to reply, "Do those who use it really believe it themselves?" If, by Commonwealth citizenship, we mean completely free movement within the Commonwealth and Empire, we mean not only free movement from the Colonies here but free movement from here to the Colonies. We mean that all the restrictions which to-day exist in the Colonies themselves and which are of such immense benefit to the indigenous inhabitants should be immediately swept away. Would the noble Lords who have spoken to-day support that? I do not believe for a moment that they would. I believe that they would be the first to protest at the removal of all such restrictions and limitations. And even if they did, even if the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, tells me at the end of the debate that he will accept such a conclusion as that, do they really believe that there is the slightest chance that the colonial Governments and the Governments of the Commonwealth will accept it? Yet without that the argument about Commonwealth citizenship makes no sense at all. One really cannot have a fundamental principle of Christianity which applies to the United Kingdom alone.

Finally, there is the argument that because we have a high standard of living here there is a moral obligation on us not to shut our doors to others, whoever they are, who have not been so fortunate. I think we have heard that argument this afternoon. I would entirely agree that that is a very noble conception, but in its most unqualified form where does it lead us? As my noble friend Lord Elton pointed out very rightly, there are many hundreds of millions of people within the boundaries of the Commonwealth and the Empire who are not so fortunate as us and who enjoy a far lower standard of living than we do. Are we to open our doors to all of them? If we did, the Welfare State, of which we are so proud, would very soon break down and with it the standard of living which the British people have so laboriously built up. What is more, the colonial peoples themselves would gain no advantage at all. I cannot believe that any Government, of whatever Party, would support such a policy as that.

Such, as I understand them, are the hard facts of the position to-day. What I have said of the dangerous potentialities that are inherent in this position is not mere academic speculation. Only this year—I think it was on April 3 in another place—the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office gave some figures which show how rapidly this immigration is increasing. Already, she said, there were 190,000 coloured people in this country and in recent years the annual intake had been 40,000. I understand that she made it clear that if the present tendency continued, that inflow was likely to rise rather than to fall. It may be true, as the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said, that at present the number of these people is negligible, but letters I have received from residents in the districts immediately concerned would hardly support that. At any rate, if nothing is done, in ten years, say, the number will be over half a million, and with the modern means of transportation now available the number might well rise far above that point.

These are facts of which I believe, whatever is felt in your Lordships' House, the vast majority of British people are well aware. The British people, as we know, are neither inhuman nor reactionary. I think they are probably the most tolerant and humane people in the world. They are not against controlled immigration, but they do recognise that there are new elements in this situation—ease of travel, the Welfare State, and so on—which have profoundly altered our situation and which demand modifications in a practice which was perfectly acceptable in the past, when conditions were different from what they are to-day.


My Lords, I do not want to do the noble Marquess an injustice hereafter, so perhaps I may interrupt him. Is he advocating restriction of coloured immigrants or of all immigrants?


If the noble Lord will allow me to continue with my speech, I may be able to make that clear. They recognise that, even if the control of immigration of these people (and mind you, my Lords, the great majority of them, although not all, are coloured; I would not advocate a pure limitation on grounds of colour, but it is idle to ignore that the great majority of them are coloured) is liable to cause friction between ourselves and the colonial peoples, there is something likely to cause far more friction, and that is violent inter-racial disturbances in this country.


My Lords, perhaps I may interrupt the noble Marquess on a question of fact. He is surely not saying that the majority of immigrants now coming to this country are coloured.


What I say is that the great majority of immigrants are from our Colonies; and that is the subject which I thought was under discussion. They recognise, too (and this is certainly on the point raised by the noble Lord), that the great inflow of men and women of another race does cause new problems of a formidable kind; and I should have thought that no-one could deny that. They have seen what has already happened at Notting Hill and, though they strongly disapprove of that, they are not happy about the position. They fully recognise how intractable are the problems with which the West Indies, in particular, are at present faced, but they do not believe that the right way to solve them is to transfer their surplus population into this small, overcrowded Island, which already has a population of over 50 million.

I have here a Gallup Poll which was produced in the Daily Express on September 6 last. It must be remembered, to be absolutely fair, that that was just at the height of the agitation after the riots in Nottingham and Notting Hill. The question which was asked of those who took part in it was: Regarding the immigration into Britain of coloured people from Commonwealth countries, do you think that:

  1. (a) there should be no restriction placed upon such immigration; or
  2. (b) it should be controlled?"
This was the answer: No restriction, 14.2 per cent. Controlled, 79.1 per cent. Don't know, 6.7 per cent. In London the percentage for control was even higher: in favour of no restriction were 11.2 per cent.; in favour of control 81.5 per cent.; and "Don't know", 7.3 per cent. I entirely agree, as I have already said, that that poll was taken at a time when people's feelings were liable to be greatly excited; but, nevertheless, those figures are a significant expression of opinion by the British people, and in my view the opinions of the British people on big issues of this kind are greatly to be trusted.

But I quite recognise (and this is practically the last thing I want to say) that it is not enough for me to say that the problem exists. I may well be asked: how is this problem of colonial migration into this country to be solved? I do not want to press Her Majesty's Government on this matter to-day; I know that it would only embarrass them if we were to do that at the present time, and I am sure that the last thing we want to do is to embarrass the Government on this particular issue. I would therefore say only this. I am sure the House will agree—and this applies to everyone—that it would be far better, if possible, to settle this matter by agreement. That is what my noble friend Lord Swinton, with all his experience, said in giving advice to the House, and I am sure he was right.

Moreover, I believe that it should be possible to find a solution, or at least a partial solution, by agreement of this kind. Anyone who has been in the West Indies, as I had the good fortune to be last year, and who has met, the leaders and statesmen who are in control there, must have been struck by their great wisdom and understanding. I am certain that they appreciate our difficulties, just as we appreciate theirs. Therefore I hope that Her Majesty's Government will open up this subject with them, however delicate it may be. If they do, I believe that some basis of a limitation can be found which will be satisfactory to all concerned. But, my Lords, there must not be a delay. The Government ought to go ahead with it: for if we delay too long we may be too late to avoid growing, quite gratuitiously, a new and terrible problem, a problem which it may be impossible for those who come after us entirely to solve.

4.46 p.m.


My Lords, we are all, I know, grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, for introducing this Motion to-clay. Not only is it a subject of intense and immediate importance, but it has also given us the opportunity of hearing for the first time the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. A "maiden speech" was perhaps not quite a fair description of the speech to which we listened, and I can only say that I wish I could do half as well as he has done. It was a delightful speech, and we all look forward to his further contributions. His speech was well-informed; it gave us first-hand experience of the problem; it was courageous, constructive, and contained very little controversial matter—at any rate, I found myself in complete agreement with him.

The recent disturbances have shocked us all out of a spirit of complacency and led us to examine what we are doing on the problem of colour prejudices. Broadly, I think we felt that such things could not happen here. In a sense, this is true, for by far the greater part of the country is outside the problem of the coloured immigrants. They are concentrated in a few towns and places, rather than spread everywhere. It is in these areas that the real problems arise: problems of housing, as many noble Lords have said; of employment of social relations, and all that type of thing. These problems demand attention from all in the areas who are concerned: from local authorities, local citizens and voluntary organisations; from the churches, the employers and trade unions; from the officials of the Government here and of the overseas countries mainly concerned, as well as, of course, from the immigrants themselves. I will try later in my speech not only to draw attention to what is being done but also to point what further action we have in mind. Results take time: the work must go on steadily, and one cannot expect any sudden and dramatic changes.

With much of what the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, said, I think we all found ourselves in broad agreement. This is not really a Party matter, but one of challenge to a Christian people. And we must not, and will not, fail. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, referred to the September statement of the Labour Party Executive. Again, with much of that statement we are in agreement; indeed, it is a policy which we are already in a large degree carrying out—consultation with the Commonwealth countries mainly concerned on the problem of housing and the realities of employment; and with local committees for better understanding and so forth. Where we may differ is on the need for legislative action, to which aspect I will return later.

It may be helpful if I first give a few figures—they are somewhat different from those already quoted, but not importantly so. The total of coloured people in this country at the present time, including students, is about 210,000. Of these, about half are West Indians, one-third come from India and Pakistan, and the rest from all over the Commonwealth.


That includes I students, does it?


Yes. Immigration for the last three years has been at the rate of about 40,000 a year, and to judge by the first ten months of this year the figure for 1958 should be down to about 32,000.


Is that coloured immigration?


I am talking about coloured immigration because that is the problem with which we are particularly concerned. About one-half of those coming in at the present time are West Indians, and in regard to the West Indians there have been rather significant trends lately. The first is that there has been a flow back to the West Indies, of about 3,000 last year. The second is that a large number of those who are coming in now—about 10,000 of the total coming in from the West Indies—are women and children. It is a good thing that the women and children are coming in. It means that their men have found work and have been able to bring their families over. Clearly, they are establishing themselves as happy members of the British community. Then, lastly, of those who are coming over about one-half, if not more, are skilled workers. We all recognise the great value of many of these workers, and Londoners will have seen for themselves the cheerful and helpful coloured workers in, for example, London Transport.

Now, the tide of immigration is turning, with the knowledge which is spreading among the Commonwealth and Colonies that there are rising difficulties of employment. Turning to the position of the coloured workers here in regard to unemployment, figures for the first week of November show that there were about 17,000 of them registered and out of work. That is 8 per cent. of the total coloured population, whereas, of course, figures for the whole country are under 3 per cent. But while these are the figures of those seeking work, I would stress that a considerable number are receiving unemployment pay, and only some are receiving national assistance. Why I make this point is because so often there is an accusation that the coloured people come here and do not really mean to work, but come just for the purpose of national assistance. Generally, that is not true. So much for the background figures.

I do not propose to go over all the happenings of Nottingham and Notting Hill. They received a publicity at the time which was out of proportion to their scale. But they were horrible, and they were a warning of great potential evil. I certainly join with all your Lordships in condemnation. Yet it can be said, as the noble Lord, Lord Winster, pointed out, that anyhow they taught us one or two things. I think they taught us of the civic sense of the people of this country generally. I remember, and I am sure that many of your Lordships remember, the reaction of many of the leaders of the entertainment world who have such an influence on the young people of this country. Again, it taught us the need to look quickly at certain issues—at the question of housing, and the need for the closest relationship between the local authorities and the leaders of the coloured communities. All this is a matter of urgency. For those who would wish to know more about these disturbances and their causes, I recommend a book which I read last night, Colour in Britain, by James Wickenden, which has lately been published by the Institute of Race Relations. Not only do I believe the account is an extremely fair and objective one, but also it gives one encouragement that the action we are taking is along the right lines.

What are we doing to try to correct or help the situation? First, let us look at what some of the other Governments who are directly concerned have done—Pakistan, India and the West Indies. Pakistan and India have taken specific steps to discourage an undue rate of migration to this country. They check all who ask for passports, and ensure that they put up enough money so that if they come to this country and prove to be a nuisance they can go back again without being a burden on their own country, the money having been deposited with the Indian or Pakistan Governments. Then they insist that the people have a certain knowledge of English. One of the troubles that has arisen quite often is that these people come here and do not know the language or anything about it. That is bad from every angle. Lastly, they insist that those who intend to come to this country show proof that they have a job waiting for them. Of course, these requirements are not watertight—such things never can be. But they are, I think we shall all agree, most valuable and along the right lines to check the abuses and the flow of those who ought never to be coming.

In the West Indies, there is a special study being taken of the problem. Noble Lords will remember the visits at the time of the disturbances of Dr. La Corbiniere, who is Deputy Prime Minister of the Federation of the West Indies, and Mr. Manley, the Chief Minister of Jamaica. Now we have Senator Byfield, of the Federal Government, here on a special inquiry to try to get to the root of the trouble so far as the West Indian immigrants are concerned.

Turning to Jamaica, which is, of course, a member of the Federation, we find that they have already taken certain steps to control those who are coming into this country. Ordinarily they do not allow people who are over fifty or those who are under eighteen, though clearly, an exception will be made if they are going to join their families. Again, passports are not issued (and this was a point made by one noble Lord this afternoon) to people who have had more than four convictions for minor offences until the cases have been considered by the Executive Council. Those who have been convicted of serious crimes do not get a passport at all.

Both Mr. Manley and the British Caribbean Welfare Service—which is an institute set up by the Federation and about which I want to talk at more length shortly—have given wide publicity in the West Indies to the facts of the situation in this country at the present time, particularly in relation to unemployment. As a matter of record, there was a drop in the figure of immigrants from the West Indies which started before the disturbances began. That clearly has been due to the fact that the news got around that there was difficulty in getting jobs here. The figures are that, whereas for the four months from March to June there were 8,500 coming in, the corresponding figure for the four months July to October was 4,500.

My Lords, there is no single or simple solution, such as warning that there is unemployment here. Many things have to be worked at steadily in the sphere of welfare and social action. They are being tackled. I should like here to say a word about the work which the British Caribbean Welfare Service is doing. It was set up in 1956 and staffed by the West Indian Federal Government. First it tries to ensure, with the help of the Governments, that intending immigrants know what to expect when they get here and are duly prepared with such things as clothes, knowledge of conditions of employment, housing and so forth. Then they arrange that the ships and planes coming from the West Indies are all met. They arrange for the accommodation of the immigrants on arrival and see that they get on their way to where they are going to get their job or join their friends. They make a point of personal contact with as many of the immigrants as possible, and they also, of course, keep in close touch with the voluntary welfare groups all over the country. These welfare groups do a splendid job, and it would be invidious for me to name any of them specifically but without their help the situation would be extremely difficult. No one can exaggerate the debt we owe them.

Once the immigrants reach their destinations various problems arise, and here again the British Caribbean Welfare Service is ready to help them. There is the problem of labour conditions. The Service puts them in contact with the labour exchanges, the employers or the trade unions. There is the question of community relations—and here churches, sports clubs and civic groups can do much. Then there is the question of telling the people about the workers who have just come, a public relations job. They provide speakers for clubs who may he interested. And, lastly, they try to help with housing, a subject about which the noble Lords, Lord Stonham, Lord Winster and others have talked, and which is, of course, of such importance. They try generally to ensure that immigrants will be fitted into the new life on which they have ventured. And it is a venture; it is a venture to a cold climate, often involving separation from their own people and families; and they find strange customs and new conditions with which they have to contend.

I must also pay my tribute to the work done by many local authorities. I would appeal to others, those who to date have perhaps done less, to devote special attention to this matter and to welcome any contact which the British Caribbean Welfare Service may seek with them. I have gone into detail in this particular case of the British Caribbean Welfare Service because I think it illustrates very well the sort of problems that do arise when coloured immigrants come over here for work.

The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, touched on the conditions in the countries from which the immigrants come and the importance of improving the conditions in those countries. I do not want to get into a debate about economic aid for the Commonwealth, but I think it is just worth while giving one or two figures about how much we are doing, for example, for the West Indies. Take the case of Jamaica—and here I have importantly different figures from those given by the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham. Whereas the per capita income for Jamaica in May, 1950, was only £47, it is now about £100. That extraordinary increase shows that we are certainly not neglecting, nor are the people of Jamaica neglecting, the economic improvement of their country. We have, as your Lordships know, made large sums available for the West Indies: £38 million under the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts, and a further £17½ million for specific purposes, all in the last twelve years. The Colonial Development Corporation has also helped by schemes totalling £9 million in various of the countries; and, of course, much help has come from private enterprise and private capital. Clearly, living standards in the West Indies are improving, and we are doing all we can to foster this improvement, not with the aim of checking emigration—for it has gone on (and I think this is an important point) against a background of increasing prosperity in those territories—but rather as an end in itself both in the Colonies and in the Commonwealth.

So far I have talked about immigrants who come here for work. We must remember that there is also a large body of coloured people who come as students. We are glad that they can enjoy the educational facilities of our universities and colleges. They are, in a sense, in a different category, but when things go wrong they also can easily be involved. Their reception, what they find when they arrive here, is, in a sense, of even more importance than in the case of the immigrant workers. Not that students are not workers too—at least, I hope they are. In many cases they are destined to go home and to be leaders in their countries. The British Council, the students' officers of the overseas Governments and many voluntary bodies do invaluable work in meeting them and making them feel at home. It may not be all that everybody could want, but it is a very great deal. I do not intend to go into more detail on this side, the question of the students, for all concerned with their education are determined that they shall get full value from their stay.

I have tried to show a little how the Government and the people in this country—for the action of the people, I think, is every bit as important as what the Government could do if not more so—are dealing with the human relations problems that arise from colour differences. This afternoon other and more drastic remedies have been suggested. I have in mind the control of immigration, the deportation of criminals, or legislation against racial discrimination. I will deal very shortly with each of those in turn. Where the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, may find a gap I know that my noble friend Lord Chesham will fill it and answer the question he has asked.

Coming first of all to the control of immigration, the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, and many others when referring to this point, argued their views forcibly. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, in particular, talked about the views of the Labour Party. The noble Lord, Lord Elton, was very clearly on the other side. Your Lordships will all remember the speech from the noble Marquess who has just sat down and who on the moral issue, if I may say so, was both impressive and right. What is the position of Her Majesty's Government? I think I can best answer that by quoting the words used by the Home Secretary at the Conservative Party Conference when he said: We should maintain the long and respected tradition of allowing citizens of the Commonwealth to come here. I need not elaborate further on the value of this tradition with the United Kingdom as the heart of the Commonwealth. It would be a sad day if the tradition were broken. Our belief of the way to solve the problem—and I again quote from my right honourable friend the Home Secretary: is to discuss with the Governments particularly concerned, as we are doing now, the best way of reaching Commonwealth agreement to limit the human difficulties of these immigrants. Now let me turn to the deportation of convicted criminals. This is a very different issue, and one on which the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, spoke so cogently.


Has the noble Earl finished what he wants to say about restricting immigration? If so, I should like to ask him to make quite clear whether what he has said amounts to any form of restriction at all. He used the words "to limit the human difficulties." Does that mean to restrict immigration?


My Lords, I do not want to add anything to the words that I have said. If the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, will look at them to-morrow, I think the matter will be quite clear.


My Lords, I have to reply to-night. I should like to be clear to-right; to-morrow will be too late.


My Lords, I think it would he more convenient to pass to the noble Lord the exact wording of what I said. I think that is probably better than repeating myself at some length, because other noble Lords may have heard what I said.

On the question of deportation of convicted criminals, the good name of the Commonwealth countries or Colonies themselves may be at stake. The numbers are very small, but the damage they may do, not only to others but, above all, to their own people, is very great. At the present time Her Majesty's Government have no power to deport, and the question of legislation—it would require legislation to this end—is under consideration. Such legislation, if decided on, would, of course, apply to all Commonwealth immigrants without distinction of race or of colour.

Lastly, on the question of legislation against racial discrimination, I have tried to show that the matter is not a simple one that can be cured by a single legislative stroke. Indeed, as Lord Swinton, Lord Stonham. Lord Winster and many others have said, to legislate might well have the opposite effect to what is intended; and to enforce such legislation would present great difficulty. All in all, the Government feel that, as things now stand, legislation would be an undesirable solution. We believe that public opinion and individual behaviour are best influenced by example and, above everything, by one and all knowing what are the true facts.


My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves that point, do I gather that perhaps the noble Lord who is to wind up for the Government will answer the specific questions that I put about the present law regarding hotels?


That is so. I have tried to cover the issue of colour prejudice in all its aspects, but inevitably much is either left out, or only briefly touched upon. This is so much a personal matter which affects the individual and is not, we believe, to he solved by legislation. Rather is it a matter for constant effort on the part of the Governments concerned, and on the part of all that great body of individuals who, singly, or associated together, form public opinion. The Commonwealth and Colonial Governments directly affected are all co-operating to a common end—to remove any cause for colour prejudice and to ensure that those who are settled or may settle here fit into our way of life as valued, happy and contented citizens.

5.15 p.m.


My Lords, the subject is so large that I will try to confine myself to only one or two aspects of it. We have heard from the Minister a statement, perhaps not as clear as some of us would have liked, on the action that Her Majesty's Government are considering on this question of control of immigration. The noble Earl, Lord Swinton, had no doubts, nor, I think, had the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, that some control by agreement with Commonwealth countries was desirable.

The noble Earl, Lord Perth, told us that in Jamaica there is under consideration a system of control in regard to the issue of passports, based, I think, on criminal convictions. What happens in Jamaica is the business of that Colony, but the question of control of immigration is a serious matter and it raises some unpleasant prospects. What sort of convictions are to be laid down as sufficient ground for barring the issue of a passport to a prospective migrant? If you admit one kind of conviction, other convictions can always be added, and the way is open, by steps, to go on to a full police State where nobody whose views are distasteful to the Government is allowed to leave. That is the danger in any question of controlling immigration from the Commonwealth countries. If I heard the noble Earl aright, and if I understood the implications of his statement, we can congratulate the Home Secretary on a statement which I understood to be to the effect that the tradition of free entry by any Commonwealth citizen to this country should in no way be interfered with. We shall see the exact words of the noble Earl tomorrow. I confess that I thought he was speaking rather in riddles, but that was the impression, on a first hearing, that I got from his speech. I hope that my understanding of the statement will be confirmed when we read the noble Earl's words tomorrow.

On the question of deportation, if legislation is under consideration we are glad to hear that it will apply to all Commonwealth citizens alike—in other words, Canadians, Australians, Indians, Maltese, Cypriots and anybody else will be liable to deportation if they are convicted by the courts of this country in relation to a certain list of crimes. It is a regrettable measure to have to take, but it is one that cannot perhaps be ruled out of hand.

On the question of introducing legislation to some extent banning racial discrimination, we have heard the noble Earl's opinion and the opinions of other noble Lords that such legislation would not do what is intended. That is a highly questionable attitude. I believe that legislation—either Federal or State legislation—is in force in the United States of America and I am told that that has been of very great help to the coloured people and has led to none of the troubles that are foreseen by noble Lords here. Not the least of the advantages of legislation is that it gives support to those of good will who otherwise might find it difficult to stand up against local opinion.

An instance came my way a week or two after the riots in the summer. A friend of mine whose job it is to find lodgings for coloured people in this country went to an address in a suburban street. The owner was a charming lady who expressed herself as only too ready to receive foreigners as lodgers. It seemed a charming house and the lady offered much more than was asked and seemed co-operative in every way. When it was pointed out that this might involve having a coloured man living in her house she immediately, and rather regretfully, withdrew the offer because, she said, "The Joneses down the road feel very strongly on this matter and are getting up a petition among the local residents to turn out the only coloured family who live in this street." She herself had the best of intentions but she had not the strength of mind to stand up against local opinion. It seems to me that that is exactly the kind of case where legislation would make an enormous difference over the country as a whole and could be of great value.

Not the least of the advantages of the initiative of my noble friend Lord Pakenham in raising this question is that the troubles of last September have thereby been saved from falling into oblivion. At that time the country received a severe mental and moral shock, and, as with all shocks of that kind, when we get a glimpse of unpleasant feelings just below the surface, we try to forget it. Feelings of guilt and shame are the best possible agencies for ensuring forgetfulness. Those happenings, having occurred in the middle of a Parliamentary Recess, might easily have gone by default and hardly have been discussed or publicly debated at all. I believe the reason why they were forgotten so soon was that after the first two outbreaks nothing further happened; and the fact that they did not recur is due to a number of factors, one of which was the fact that the law was very quickly and firmly asserted.

Another factor was that declarations were made immediately by a number of public figures, some Ministers and members of the Opposition; and the Press almost unanimously condemned the outbreaks. I must say that there seemed to me some noticeable gaps among those public figures who denounced the rioting. Certainly there was a statement by the late Pope Pius XII denouncing racialism, and a number of ministers of religion in this country, of various sects and denominations, also did fine work; but, unless I missed something, there was a notable absence of statements by the official religious leaders in this country of the main Christian and other sects. I may have been wrong, but certainly for some considerable time after the outbreaks there seems to have been no official condemnation from those sources from which one would have expected it.

A third factor which I believe was most helpful in preventing a recurrence was the action of Mr. Manley, the Caribbean leader, in making his admirably prompt visit. I am certain that that visit reassured his own countrymen here, which was most important and generally assisted in putting the affair in perspective. I believe, however, that permanent harm has been done overseas. We may forget it, but people in the Caribbean territories and elsewhere will not. They will not forget the panic of the headlines in that week of September. That is why, quite apart from the short-term measures which we may discuss for dealing with immigrants in this country, there is a long-term question: What can we do, and what should be done, as a long-term remedy?

I believe there is no doubt that, whatever were the immediate influences that caused the explosion, whether it arose among young hooligans or Teddy boys, whether it was incitement by Fascist organisations or whether it was due to economic conditions like had housing, fear of unemployment and the rest—while all those things may have affected the position in varying degree, there cannot be an explosion unless there is explosive matter around; and surely the explosive matter is race prejudice. In spite of what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, nearly all of us have colour prejudice. One writer who studied this subject has estimated that one-third of the population of this country have no colour prejudice. I should say that he is very optimistic in that statement. He said that one-third have a mild form of colour prejudice and that the remaining one-third have violent prejudice.

I believe that nobody would dispute that there is colour prejudice in most people, yet if one asks schoolmasters they will say that young children have no colour sense or colour prejudice whatever. Some schools have a considerable proportion of coloured children and they get on perfectly well with their white fellow students. At some stage between childhood and adult life people acquire these prejudices, and it seems to me that they must acquire them by contact with their elders, with adults. The problem seems to me to be how to inoculate children so effectively in their youth, in their impressionable years, that they will be immune from the poisonous ideas that they may get from their elders.

A great authority on the subject, Doctor Kenneth Little, has said: Children's books are still riddled with grotesque representations of coloured people; many texts used in schools are anthropologicatty out of date; and it is only a few years ago that the cinema gave up depicting the negro as a ludicrous and degraded coon. We all know that from our nursery onwards the idea of a coloured person is that he is someone we look down on. In my youth, and perhaps in some of your Lordships' youth, I remember that at children's parties there was a thing called a "chocolate golliwog". I believe that that has gone out and we do not see it now, but the idea of the black man with the shock of curly hair is inculcated in children in their very early youth.

In the books on the history of the Commonwealth all we hear about coloured races is that we conquered them because they were barbaric, and that they were addicted to mutual slaughter and the slaughter of white people, cannibalism and all the rest of it. Think back to the books that children are given—Little Black Sambo and the rest. The idea of the coloured person is of something different—strange, rather contemptible, rather to be feared. He is always there. We hear about the Black Hole of Calcutta; every child knows about that. Every child knows about African tortures or Chinese tortures. When in the present day the Press deal with a Royal visit the Press-release photographs nearly always are of war dances of people in barbaric, grotesque clothing. We hear about witch doctors and ritual murder. We never see a picture of a town council, dressed in ordinary Western clothes, sitting and conducting the affairs of a town. We never see pictures of Africans or Indians or West Indians behaving like white people and putting their children to bed or going to school or queueing up to work in the morning, or anything like that. All we hear about are the witch doctors and the magic and the juju, the wild and barbaric music and dress and so on.

There is a field, my Lords, for educationists to get busy—there is an enormous field. Some work in it has been done by U.N.E.S.C.O. and some admirable pamphlets have been written, though they are not easy to obtain; but there is a sphere where I think teachers ought to start teaching on race matters in school. That is why the Labour Party, in their statement on race put a campaign in the education field very high in priority. There is a field where teachers not only can eliminate some of the grosser prejudices and fallacies about coloured people, but can start a positive form of race teaching, so that children may learn that the colour of people's skins is immaterial and that coloured people are human beings and not strange, savage creatures to be feared and hated. There, I believe, my Lords, is our long-term campaign in front of us, and I hope that Her Majesty's Government will give a lead; I think it is for the Government to give a lead to the teaching profession. We do not want the Government to control education—that is not our system—but I think that the Government should make it clear that it is in the schools that race prejudice can, in the long term and in the most effective way, be fought.

5.36 p.m.


My Lords, I think there can hardly be any other legislative or debating Chamber in the world where this particular subject would be discussed in a such a calm and fair-minded and unemotional manner, because it is a subject which more often than not engenders a great deal of emotion. One of the facts we must recognise is that strong feelings are held not only by those who abhor colour prejudice and the practice of the colour bar in any shape or form, regarding it not only as thoroughly un-Christian but also as a crime, but equally strongly by people who, although they are perfectly pleasant and responsible and God-fearing people, nevertheless do not feel any ill-conscience because of a colour prejudice from which they personally may suffer and which they may possibly, although not necessarily, practise. I think that when we are discussing legislation we must take cognisance of that fact.

I think it is particularly unfortunate that the subject of colour prejudice and violence in this country should affect, more than any other people, the West Indians; because I would say, having visited places where colour prejudice is in evidence, that in the West Indies they have probably made a better job at producing a multi-racial society without colour prejudice than anywhere else, including either Africa or the United States of America. Yet we must recognise that the West Indians, who are suffering from this prejudice to a certain extent in this country, are not among those who are highly educated; the great majority are still very uneducated and live in a comparatively primitive state in their own country, and are, therefore, to a certain measure comparable with Africans in various parts of Africa. Therefore I hope that the West-Indian Government will not take it as a personal or as a State affront that their own nationals should be so much affected.

I take a very special interest in this subject because I have had to live with this problem for a number of years in my day-to-day life in Southern Rhodesia; and I have seen this practice or, rather, this custom, of colour prejudice in different parts of Africa, and also in the United States of America, and latterly, in so far as it exists there, in the West Indies. In my view, we must approach this matter with a thoroughly realistic attitude. I agree that it has a moral and Christian background, but I am sure that it is a practical problem with which we have to deal here and now, so that we must assume a practical and realistic attitude. Surely there must be something to learn from seeing what happens in places like Southern Rhodesia and the United States of America. If your Lordships would bear with me for a while, I should like to make one or two comparisons between those two countries, not for invidious reasons but simply that we may, if possible, learn something—and this has a definite relevance to the remarks made about the United States by the noble Earl, Lord Lucan.

My Lords, in Southern Rhodesia somewhat less than 10 per cent. of the population is white, and in the United States of America somewhat less than 10 per cent. of the population is black, and yet I would say that the conditions of existence for the black man in those two countries—not standards of living necessarily, but the conditions of existence—are remarkably similar. You will find segregation in the schools, and you will also find segregation in housing. You will find that the Negro is banned in most cases, I think, from hotels. That is certainly so in the Southern States of America; and though he is accepted in the freer Northern States, there are many cases where he will have difficulty in getting served properly. When it comes to the law, I can assure your Lordships that it is easier for a black man in Southern Rhodesia to sue a white man, and it is more likely that a black man, when charged with an offence in Southern Rhodesia, will get justice, than he will in either ease in the Southern States of the United States of America.

I am only leading up to the conclusion that this question of colour prejudice really has nothing to do with legislation, because whereas it might be argued that in Southern Rhodesia legislation discriminates, in certain respects, at any rate, against the black man, and in the United States legislation definitely in his favour is enshrined in the Constitution and in other Acts of the Federal Government, his condition, certainly in large parts of the United States, is if anything worse and less free than it is in Southern Rhodesia. I am not saying that to make invidious comparisons but to drive home the point that legislation is not the answer.

The key to non-discrimination is much more a question of civilisation. To point that, what happens in the United States when a slum clearance scheme is made? I believe I am right in saying that under the Federal law it must be of a multiracial nature. Now, when the houses are built, who goes to live in those places? It is the Negro. The white man does not go, simply because he does not want to; and to that extent there is a voluntary or involuntary segregation (whichever way you look at it), simply on certain grounds which have been put forward and which affect even the better-class properties. When the educated and wealthy Negro wishes to move into a smart suburb in America there is a great “ hullabaloo ” (I apologise if that is not exactly a Parliamentary term) on the part of the American who does not wish to have these people as his neighbours, primarily on the ground that these Negroes have another standard of living and different habits and customs. This test of civilisation does not apply, of course, to the particular people who, through their education and ability, have got themselves out of that state, but it does apply to the standard of conduct of the great majority of the coloured people—and, of course, it is not their fault.

Therefore, it is not a question purely of colour. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Elton, in that respect. It is a question of standards of conduct and civilisation. and it is when that is added to the materialistic and practical difficulties that are met in the modern Western civilisation, allied to economic factors such as unemployment, that we begin to get violence coming into race relations. It is because, basically, as the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, said, there is a certain amount of prejudice in the majority of people—and that applies to this country as well as in America and Southern Rhodesia. It is when that basic, unfortunate feeling of colour prejudice is added to this question of standard of conduct and is allied to the economic factor that these difficulties arise; and, of course, this country is not free of it at all.

I was most interested in the comment of the noble Earl who has just spoken, that legislation has helped in this respect in the United States, because my informations is exactly the opposite, and it would be interesting to know who is right. I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, when he replies, could say whether any study has been made of legislation in the United States in regard to this matter; and, if so, what are the results of that study. If not, would it not be worth while, perhaps, that Government experts should make some examination to see whether there is anything useful to be learned from the action taken in the United States? As I have said, I believe that the answer is, No.

My Lords, turning to this country, and to what is being done and what can be done, I do not want to say much more because other noble Lords have dealt with it pretty fully. But the fact is that there are several London boroughs and many councils all over the country which have these liaison committees. There are also national organisations. I believe that one is the National Council of Women—though I may be wrong in my exact terminology here. Then there is the National Federation of Social Welfare or community development, or some such body. There are many of these voluntary organisations.

The noble Earl, Lord Perth, referred to direct Government action and to the British Council, and similar activities of a more official nature. I wonder whether there might not be room for a central watch committee; a committee to coordinate all these activities and to gather statistics—because I am not at all sure that we yet know the extent of the problem and exactly what we have to deal with. If there could be a central coordinating committee to preside over these voluntary bodies, to co-ordinate and help their activities, and to guide them in the right direction, based on proper statistical evidence, I think that might go some way towards making a great deal more effective any actions the Government take.

In regard to immigration, I would only say that these restrictions which have been imposed to a certain extent by Jamaica ought, I think, to be extended to the other islands; because although Jamaica provides something like 80 per cent. of the immigrants from the West Indies, there is still a substantial proportion which is not controlled in any way. I mention this point, in particular, because I went to one of the smaller islands where it was treated as something of a joke. It was boasted quite openly that they had got rid of their ne'er-do-wells, their slackers and their unhealthy element some time ago because, of course, by now they had all migrated to the United Kingdom. I suggest that there might be, by agreement with the West Indies Government, a tightening up in general, and an application to the other islands of that which has already been applied in Jamaica.

My Lords, I end by saying that I believe that there is no cause for alarm or for taking drastic action. I am sure that difficulties about legislation in regard to hotels and lodging-houses, and even trade unions, would arise and that such legislation could not be enforced, as has been proved in other countries. We cannot legislate against human nature, we can only guide and educate it. I hope that the Government will set themselves out to do just that.

5.50 p.m.


My Lords, first and foremost, as one who made his maiden speech in your Lordships' House only a short while ago I should like to add my tribute to those which noble Lords have paid to the sincere and moving speech by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham.

Many noble Lords who have addressed the House this afternoon will have had practical experience of this vital problem. I have not. Nevertheless, I feel very strongly about this subject, as I am sure most people do. It is not a Party matter; it is a matter which I think touches the hearts of us all. May I quote from the speech made in another place by the honourable Member for Surbiton in the debate on the humble Address only a few days ago? He said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 594 (No. 3), col. 417]: I think we ought to be prepared to pay a certain price to retain the reality of the Commonwealth for the coloured British citizens who so largely compose it. In any case, I am sure that if we are not prepared to pay that price we shall imperil our whole idea and ideal of Commonwealth and our whole Colonial and Commonwealth policy under successive Governments. That seems to me to sum up the whole principle behind the Motion which the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, has so lucidly moved this afternoon.

If we restrict coloured immigration, what is going to happen to these immigrants? Who is going to look after them? We have already seen what has happened in British Guiana. Dr. Cheddi Jagan has certainly not improved the lot of his people. There is a distinct danger that if the Mother Country does not do something to help these people, they will get into the hands of the Communists. I do not think that those words are too strong, because, as many noble Lords will know better than I do, Communism breeds on poverty and discontent.

What are we going to do to alleviate this problem? I have not heard many words spoken in your Lordships[...] House this afternoon about the problem of investment. I feel sure that we should invest far more money in our Commonwealth than we are doing. We should invest money to build more factories in Jamaica, in Barbados, and elsewhere. In Barbados, for instance, some 200,000 tons of sugar were produced in 1957, and this year that figure has been far smaller, due possibly to climatic conditions and perhaps to other factors. As one who works in the insurance business, it has been my lot to study the effects of the fearful hurricanes which struck the West Indies, particularly Antigua, a few years ago. They did untold damage to property and to life. Whilst the Government have done much to help the West Indian people, I feel that possibly more could have been done.

There is much to be said in favour of the immigrants from the West Indies and elsewhere who have come over here. In the hospitals particularly, doctors and nurses from the British West Indies, Nigeria and other countries have done wonderful work. My own daughter was in a children's hospital not many weeks ago, and I shall never forget the unhappiness of a little Nigerian girl in the bed next to her. She had nobody to turn to and was obviously very unhappy. My daughter, of the same age, talked to her and played with her, and I am sure that that saved her from some of her unhappiness. I think that that is a tiny instance of what might be clone to help.

These colonial people have given great service to us in the last war and on other occasions. They have contributed a great deal as students. And so far as Jamaica is concerned, many healthy people are coming over to do manual labour, and they do it extremely well. As noble Lords have mentioned, they are working hard on the railways and in such perhaps unpalatable jobs as refuse collecting. They work with a will. I occasionally go for "elevenses" to places like "Joe Lyons and I notice coloured waitresses there, all working hard. It is useless to pretend that all the coloured people who come over here are saints; they are not. But I think that the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, made a great point when he said that we cannot differentiate in terms of crime. We have read a great deal about prostitution, but that works both ways. One is ashamed to see the number of our own people who have been involved in that. We cannot get away from our responsibilities by blaming it upon the immigrants.

I believe that we owe a great debt to these people. Some noble Lords have been concerned about the unemployment situation and the coloured immigrants, but I do not think that this point really arises, because most of them come over here to work in such professions as nursing and the law or in the more manual jobs where unemployment does not come into the picture so much as in the factories. I may be open to correction by noble Lords who have more experience than I have, but I do not think that unemployment can be used as a convincing argument for the restriction of immigration.

The hour is getting late and I should like to conclude by reading an extract from a poem by a great British poet, William Blake. It is from his The Songs of Innocence and is called The Little Black Boy ". It says: My Mother bore me in the southern wild, And I am black, but O! my soul is white; White as an Angel is the English child, But I am black, as if bercav'd of light. That refers to a family in the United States of America, but for the purpose of this debate it could refer to anybody whose skin is dark. It would be a great shame, I think, if those words had to apply to-day. These people need our help, and I believe that the Federation of Employers and the Trades Union Congress could get together and work out details of a great expansionist scheme that would give more industry and more employment to these people in Jamaica and elsewhere. A lot has been done, but much remains to be done. I believe it is primarily by capital expansion that this problem can be solved.

6.2 p.m.


My Lords, I had not meant to take part in this debate, but two small points have occurred to me. It has been a most interesting debate and, I think, one very near to all our hearts. Several noble Lords have mentioned the undesirability of introducing any legislation so far as hotels, restaurants and so on are concerned to force them to allow absolute racial equality. I must say that I fully endorse that, not because I feel that this equality is not desirable—I do—but because I have in mind a notable case where such legislation was introduced and I am looking at the result it has had: I am thinking of the United States. When we remember that originally the flag was raised and the liberty of the negro was proclaimed and he was given absolutely equal status with the white men, and then look at what are the true facts in that country to-day, none of us would wish to have a repetition of that here. Whatever happens, we want to avoid having a second Little Rock at Notting Hill Gate.

The other point I have concerns the control of immigration. It might possibly be desirable to have a mild control. It would be a great pity if we were to make it very stringent, because although other noble Lords have mentioned the fact that other countries of the Commonwealth have quite a strict control, we must remember that we are the Mother Country. One thinks, for example, of the Australians, who all refer to our country as "home". We do not want to destroy that attitude. But possibly a little control of immigration, provided that it were absolutely nonracial, might be advisable. I think that this is a grossly over-populated Island, and there is no doubt that a certain amount of resentment is being caused by others coming in and taking work which our own people cannot get; and in spite of the fact that it is not due to any racial policy on the part of the Government, it is interpreted as such by those who are rather more ignorant and who see coloured people coming in and taking their places. One wants to avoid that, too.


Would the noble Lord define what he means by "a little control"?


Control possibly of the numbers per year from all countries, irrespective of colour or race, or anything like that, and possibly with regard to whether they are skilled or non-skilled. Those are the only points I wish to raise.

6.5 p.m.


My Lords, I can lay no claim to the wide and specialised knowledge of this problem which has been revealed by noble Lords who have taken part in this debate, and I am not going to detain your Lordships for long. But with the object of contributing information, rather than proposals, to this debate, I spent yesterday in the East End of Sheffield, a city which has its own considerable colour problem, and where, in fact, there have recently been two murders associated with that problem. While I was there I spoke to a clergyman, whom I have known for many years, whose human understanding I learned to trust in the time of war. For the past ten years he has been applying that understanding to his work in some of the industrial parishes of Sheffield. I spoke, also, through his introduction, to a young and intelligent Pakistani.

Sheffield's coloured population numbers between 4,000 and 5,000, and the great majority of that population are Pakistanis and Arabs, mainly from the Aden Protectorate. Earlier than eighteen months ago there was, in fact, no colour problem whatever in Sheffield. And, paradoxically, the present situation arose from that very condition: the coloured people wrote home with such good and encouraging accounts of the work, wages and comfort they were enjoying that about a year and a half ago a new and far greater wave of coloured immigrants began to arrive in Sheffield. This wave of immigrants coincided with a fall in employment in Sheffield, and for most of these immigrants there have been, and still are, no jobs. Sheffield has at the moment unemployment figures higher than the national average, and many of those who came a year and a half ago, or since, have never found work. The figures returned lately from a labour exchange in one part of Sheffield show that out of 525 registered as unemployed 340 were coloured; and of those 315 were from Pakistan.

There, straight away, is a situation ripe for imagined injustice and the sort of trouble arising from it, which can be, and has been, aggravated by the cruder individuals in each society. There have been cases of young hooligans coming into the district with bicycle chains looking for coloured people to attack. And there was even a case, incredible though it may sound, of one citizen writing to a local paper offering to organise a Ku Klux Klan to drive the coloured people, by terrorist tactics, out of the city. Happily, the Sheffield public reacted as abruptly and indignantly as one would expect against this barbaric proposal. Despite this, there is an unconcealed and widely held impression that coloured people have created, or have helped to create, the present unemployment; and both the thoughtful men with whom I spent the morning talking agreed that lately there has been a hardening among even reasonable, unaggressive individuals against the coloured population as a whole.

On the coloured side, I heard charges of discrimination against coloured people in labour exchanges. I think it is worth setting down in this connection that factors other than unemployment do sometimes make it hard for coloured people to find jobs—at least that was my impression talking to people in Sheffield. Some of those factors are absolute ignorance of the language, poor physique and lack of any training whatever in skilled or semiskilled work. In this connection, I have to admit that the statement of my noble friend Lord Perth—as I understood it—that half of the coloured immigrants were skilled workers, came to me as a surprise. I do not think that proportion is reflected in Sheffield.

Many employers do their best to maintain an employment quota between coloured and white people, and often it has nothing to do with racial prejudice that a man is turned down for a job. It has far more to do with humanity, because if the disadvantages I have described were to make it actually dangerous for a man to be given a job, or to accept the job, it seems to me quite wrong that he should be employed for sentimental reasons or in order to offset the impression that there was discrimination. My informant, who is not out of work, and who is living comfortably with an English wife, at peace with his neighbours, arrived eight years ago from Pakistan. He described how for five years before that he had worked as a hand on a Karachi tugboat, being paid the equivalent of £6 a month, of which more than half had to be sent to his family, so that he was unable to save anything at all. It was quite clear that he was many times better off in this country than he could have expected to be at home.

He mentioned a certain resentment that in the whole of those eight years he had not seen or heard of any representative of the Pakistani High Commissioner's office in London visiting Sheffield. He also affirmed that far more should have been done at the Pakistani end to inform potential immigrants of conditions and openings available in the United Kingdom, but he agreed that this was now being done. He said that, quite clearly, from his own knowledge, many of those who had come in recent months were disappointed, and would like to return if they could afford the fare. But for some there is a difficulty in addition to that of the fare. Their passage to Britain, with documentation, costs approximately £90 each. Many had either borrowed that money from friends, from acquaintances or moneylenders, or had sold everything they possessed in order to buy their passage. In this way they had written off not only their security but also their own modest social position at home; and all these are reluctant to return without having made good. I am merely passing on to your Lordships the information I was given. Only a minority, I gathered, have come to this country with the idea of staying for ever, and most had the aim of staying here for five or six years, saving money, and returning, in comparative affluence, to their own home.

There are, as has been made plain in the course of this debate, formidable difficulties both at national level and in special localities. In that part of Sheffield my friend has applied himself to overcoming them, as he did to the sometimes agonising personal problems of soldiers serving far from home during the war. Among his three curates there is one coloured curate who was ordained in Sierra Leone. With them, he has encouraged white and coloured people to meet and to learn about each other in various ways. He has lent the church hall and the youth club premises for dances and meetings, as well as for such festivals as Ramadan. He has stated his view (and, I regret to say, has been criticised in some quarters for it) that the Arabs[...] and Pakistanis should have their own mosque in Sheffield. He has also suggested—and I pass on the suggestion to your Lordships—that some relaxation of tension might result if certain popular impressions on both sides were investigated officially, and corrected officially, where correction was necessary in some published form.

He does not agree, for instance, from what he has seen for himself, that in coloured people's accommodation the conditions are insanitary, despite the undeniable overcrowding. He suspects the growing conviction that they bring diseases into the country, although, due to the unaccustomed climate, they do fall victims to chest infections. The fact that they never seem to lack accommodation while white families are without, is put down to favouritism by housing authorities. In fact it was explained to me in another way: Pakistanis are able to save money because they live far more frugally than their white colleagues, without smoking, drinking or cinemas, and with this money they frequently buy the lease of buildings or flats in which they can, in turn, accommodate their compatriots on arrival. One quite remarkable theory propounded to me—I feel sure it must be illusory—was that those from the Colonies, as opposed from the Dominions, because they carry British passports, rather than Pakistani passports, find it easier to obtain jobs. All these suspicions and beliefs may be quite illusory—indeed, I am perfectly certain that many of them are.

With the rest of the House I listened with the greatest interest to that engrossing maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and it was quite clear that for his material he was drawing on considerable practical experience. I agree with him that colour prejudice is largely rooted in ignorance. But I must say that, for myself, I should find it difficult to go to a family holding colour prejudice, living in a street where coloured people were living, and tell them that really I knew more about the question than they did. Because, as has been made clear in the debate, colour prejudice is not what anyone can call a bourgeois attitude. It is not the case of the spinster lady drawing her skirts around her as she passes a coloured man in the street. It penetrates right through the social system; and it exists, and can be claimed to exist, most strongly among those who can claim that they know most about it. The only thing I suggest is that they may imagine a lot more than they really know. This is my only small suggestion—that some sort of authoritative Government or Ministry publication should be issued with a wide circulation, setting out statis- tics and facts, simply put down. That, I think, would enormously assist any central watch committee, such as was suggested by my noble friend, Lord Hastings, or any welfare officers engaged in this work, which is so immensely important.

I hope that with this small, quite unauthoritative contribution, I have not been wasting the time of the House. Of one thing I feel sure; intractable as the problem may seem, the sort of wise and sensitive consideration which the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, always brings to bear in his Motions, and which he can always enlist from the House, must have brought the problem appreciably nearer to a solution. This is a Commonwealth problem, but to us at the heart and the origin of the Commonwealth it is bound to be more exacting and significant than to others. It is, in a sense, a test of our mission in the world.

6.20 p.m.


My Lords, I want to thank my noble friend, Lord Chesham, for allowing me to intervene before he addresses your Lordships' House, and I do so because I was concerned with the establishment in its early days of the welfare organisation in Jamaica which has now proved such a success, as has been mentioned by my noble friend, Lord Perth.

There are, however, two or three points in connection with the organisation of the welfare scheme for the West Indies that I think ought to be emphasised. First of all, it does not concern only Jamaica; it is intended to concern all the islands of the West Indies Federation. The second point is that there was—and I hope it does not exist now— a certain shortage of funds which held back the work of the service. I think there should be no shortage of funds in connection with that service, because the whole scheme is for the benefit of the United Kingdom as well as for those who live in the West Indies.

Thirdly, I do not think enough attention has been given to what is being done by some tourist agencies who advance money on ridiculously easy terms, so that the individuals come to this country with a debt round their necks which it is almost impossible for them to repay. There should be greater control over tourist agencies of that sort, who I do not think are highly reputable people. They book these people to come here with all sorts of promises of employment, and there is no means, as far as the people themselves are concerned, of checking that up. They pay their money, and when they arrive here they have to find work, if it is possible, because they have this burden of debt round them. That is not the way to encourage the right type of people to come here, and I think there ought to be far stricter supervision of the tourist agencies who book the passages for these West Indians to come to this country.

I do not wish to detain your Lordships a moment longer than necessary, but there is another point which has not been mentioned in this debate. I remember that during the war, when we were so short of skilled artisans, we asked people to come to this country, especially to Coventry, to work as skilled workers and to help us out in the war effort. A great many of those men who came here at that time are still residents of this country. They have their families, and thy are now fully established as regular workers in industry. That gives an example of what can be done by regulated entry of skilled men who are able to make their contribution with the full consent of the trade unions concerned.

Another matter which has not been mentioned is the development of overseas territories in the way of construction of harbours, and so on, which has been very marked in the last twenty years. Some of the great contracting firms who have been engaged in this work have trained a large number of men who have become highly skilled. There is no register at all in this country of men who have been trained in that way and who have not, for various reasons, come to this country, but who if they did come here would make a real contribution. It seems rather unfortunate that when a contract is concluded the people go back and lose their skills, and they are lost from adding to what is for the benefit of this country, either here or overseas.

I hope your Lordships will agree that in all this matter we have to remember that there is a good deal of prejudice in the minds of certain people who feel that their jobs are at stake if we have a trade recession. That is something that no amount of political talk will change. There is a belief that it is a question of " Last in, first out ". That means that many of these people are under the impression that they may, through no fault of their own, find themselves permanently out of a job. I think one noble Lord mentioned the admirable way in which recruitment to the London Transport Service has been conducted, and the excellent service these West Indians and others have given. I am sure that the public recognise that, because these men and women are civil, obliging and helpful. I believe that that has done a very great deal to encourage a feeling of tolerance and happiness between the ordinary British public and those who may serve on the transport side. I have never yet known a single case of an objection, or of any difficulty having arisen, due to the employment of a coloured person in the London Transport Service. I think that that is something we ought to recognise, and I believe that these people are by far the best missionaries we can possibly have for tolerance and understanding between white people and coloured people.

6.27 p.m.


My Lords, it falls to me to say the last word on this subject on behalf of this side of the House. I am sure that everyone in the House would like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, not only for having introduced the Motion but for the way in which he did it, in his usual moderate and distinguished manner. He has rendered a great service to the House, not for the first time, by enabling us to discuss a matter of first-rate importance in a manner worthy of the dignity of this House. I should like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Stonham on a memorable maiden speech. It is sometimes difficult to know how to congratulate a person on a maiden speech, because it is a tradition to be very kind to all maiden speakers, but I am bound to say that in my relatively short experience of this House it is the best maiden speech I have ever heard. I would say, further, that I wish I could have made a speech as well as he has done; I cannot say more than that.

I should also like to express my appreciation of many of the speeches that have been made, both on this side of the House and on the other. They have been sincere, well informed and based upon practical experience. And that applies both to regular speakers and to those who are not so regular. I welcome the observations of the noble Lord, Lord Auckland. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, is regular or not regular, but at any rate what he said was very welcome and interesting. So was the speech of my old friend, if I may so call him, Lord Glyn. And, of course, that of the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald. I think there is no doubt into which category he comes; he is one of the regulars, and we are always glad to hear him.

I have said that this debate has been valuable from the point of view of those who have taken part in the debate. It has also been interesting from the point of view of those who have not taken part. First of all, I would refer to the empty Benches that we see on my right. They were until recently occupied by a former member of the Liberal Party, but not a present one, my noble friend, Lord Stansgate; but I imagine that even he may be tired of holding the fort for the Liberals. It is a great pity that in a matter where freedom and moral questions—and I am going to enlarge on that in a moment—are involved, the Liberals should have nothing to say, even though former Liberals have done so.

The other category of person—I hope I may say this with all delicacy—from whom we have not had a word, is the Lords Spiritual. We have had one or two present for part of the debate, but I think this House would have been enriched if it had had some expression of opinion from the Lords Spiritual in this House. However, we must do the best we can, without the good offices of either the Liberals or the Lords Spiritual, to discuss this most important question.

First of all, I should like to say that I agree with the noble Marquess. Lord Salisbury, in one, and possibly only one, respect—namely, that there are two separate issues referred to in the Motion and that they are not necessarily entirely interconnected. The first is the question of colour prejudice and the other is the question of violence. We have referred to colour prejudice and racial discrimination as being virtually interchangeable terms, and I think they are. One can consider the question of racial discrimination or prejudice under a number of heads, and the first is moral. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, does not feel that this subject can be discussed on a moral basis at all, but that it is a practical question. I would venture to disagree with him.


My Lords, I did not say it could not be discussed. I said I did not think it was a moral question. That is quite a different thing.


I am prepared to accept the noble Marquess's version of it; I think it amounts to the same thing. I believe it is a moral question, and I believe that very strongly. I think it is a moral question because it involves one of the freedoms which the noble and learned Viscount and I, and others, were discussing last night in regard to the Convention on Human Rights. This is a matter which I am prepared to consider and to discuss, but I should not have thought there could be any doubt at all but that it is a moral question as to whether we have the right to discriminate against one section of human beings by preventing them from coming into this country, or by controlling them a little, as the noble Lord, Lord Somers, said. Surely that is a moral question. I would say that on moral grounds we have no right to interfere with the free passage of people coming to this country from the Commonwealth.

I say that it is also a political question. There, I think that even the noble Marquess will not disagree with me. It is a most important question of our relationship with the members of the Commonwealth. I feel strongly that any attempt to restrict entry into this country will do nothing but harm to our relations with the Commonwealth; that it will be regarded by many as the thin end of the wedge—as the first step—and that we ought to resist it as hard as we possibly can. In the words of the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, and others, the less educated and the less able these people are to look after themselves, the more we ought to welcome them to this country. After all, we are the Mother Country, and a mother's affection is always with the weakest of her children. A mother tends to take the greatest care of those who are least able to look after themselves. To say, "True, you are a member of the Commonwealth; true, you are one of our children; true, we all regard the Monarch as the head of the Commonwealth. But you are one of the weaker brethren, and therefore you cannot come to this country; you are not sufficiently educated, or you are not sufficiently skilled or trained ", would, I think, be a shocking condemnation of the whole of the Commonwealth system.

There is also the economic side. Much has been made of the fact that there is a danger that people will be coming in and taking jobs away from those who are employed especially at a time of unemployment. But let us remember that most of the people who are to-clay in this country and who are employed, came in at a time of scarcity of workers. They did not come in deliberately to help us out but they did, in fact, help us out, and they are helping us out to-day in a number of jobs where it is difficult to get recruits. They are helping us out in the nursing profession. They make very good nurses, as anyone who has had the misfortune to be in hospital and to require medical nursing would readily admit. As has been pointed out by the noble Lord, Lord Glyn, they have helped us out in transport, and have given great satisfaction. As one who travels frequently on buses, I am bound to say that the coloured conductors are much more polite and helpful to the passengers than others—at any rate, there can be no complaint about them at all.

While it may be true, as has been stated over and over again, that we are passing through a period of unemployment, the fact remains—and we must not forget it—that there are more people leaving this country than are coming in. Therefore the entry into this country of coloured people is not at all in competition with our people here; they are, to a certain extent, merely taking the place of those who are emigrating.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord to say that I hope to. show to-morrow that what the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, said about the heavy balance going out is not entirely true.


My Lords, I am not in a position to give actual figures—I think my noble friend, Lord Pakenham, did. But I understood that it was an accepted fact that more people emigrate from this country every year, not only to the Commonwealth and the Dominions, but to other countries, than come in. If the noble Earl has any doubt about it, I will see him about it afterwards and we will try to settle the point.

So, on each of those grounds, I think that it would be a great misfortune if we embarked on any policy of discrimination in regard to admission into this country. Of course, no speaker in this House during the debate has expressed himself as being in favour of any kind of discrimination at all: we are all against racial discrimination, just as, in theory, we are all against sin. But there are sinners as well as racial discriminators who would not admit to it. I would say that a restriction on immigration into this country is, in fact, whatever it may be in theory, a form of racial discrimination. It is all very well to say that it applies to everybody alike, to all members of the Commonwealth. I am reminded of a pamphlet I received the other day on nationalisation—I believe from the Federation of British Industries. They said that they have no Party at all and that it was not a Party matter, but that they were simply against nationalisation. The same thing applies here. People are against discrimination or are not in favour of discrimination, for the restriction would apply generally. But they know perfectly well that the intention is to make it apply to coloured people.

I have said all I want to say on this question of racial discrimination, but I have not spoken about what it is, of its nature. First, it is always irrational. It is difficult to argue people out of prejudices. Furthermore, it is not a new thing. We have always suffered from it to a certain extent. We suffered from xenophobia. We did not like foreigners. I remember that when I was a young person we did not like Frenchmen. We used to refer to them as "Froggies "—presumably because they were thought to eat frogs; and Italians were all ice-cream vendors. There were other types, too. We even went to the lengths of discriminating and showing prejudice against Scots and Welsh and Irish, saying that they came and took away our jobs—exactly what is being said today about coloured people—and were competing for our young women and cur homes. Why, we asked, should an Irishman or a Welshman come to London and get a house when so many Londoners were more in need of one? That is exactly the same kind of attitude.

I had thought that we were slowly getting over all that and getting to understand that the foreigner is not really so very different from ourselves. It is amazing, the number of people who go abroad these days and come to realise that there are abroad things we should like to have in this country. I should like to have here a city like Florence or Venice. I should like to have in this country some of the restaurants one finds abroad, and some of their food. We are trying to get those things by encouraging immigration of French and Italian chefs. I wonder whether the doctrine of racial discrimination should apply to those people or whether we should wish to restrict immigration of restaurant workers and domestic servants into this country. They have been a very helpful standby. I should like to see some of these coloured people coming in, in the same way, and doing the same kind of work; and I imagine that in time that will come.

We have learned a lot from foreign countries. In our high-class shops to-day one finds that most of the articles of taste that are bought when people are shopping for Christmas presents are of foreign origin—French, Italian, German, Norwegian and even, may I say, from some of the countries behind the Iron Curtain. The noble Lord opposite frowns, but I assure him that that is so. One can buy presents that have been imported from some countries behind the Iron Curtain—and very nice things they are. I wish we could make them ourselves.


My Lords, may I apologise to the noble Lord? I was not frowning, but I was just a little puzzled for the moment.


My Lords, it is very nice to puzzle the noble Lord occasionally, but in fact that is so. This racial discrimination has not been one sided; it has sometimes been mutual. I am reminded that King George III wrote to the Emperor of China proposing that there should be trade relations. The Emperor of China replied that the Son of Heaven did not discuss matters with barbarians. That was the feeling that the Chinese had about us. I agree very largely with those who have said that prejudice is due to ignorance and, as I have indicated, greater knowledge and understanding of what foreign countries are like and what they can do will help considerably. I believe that greater contact with them would be of great help and I am glad that in some occupations coloured people particularly have the opportunity of considerable contact with our people here. On buses, as I have indicated, those who are taking part in the work of transport are very good ambassadors for their country. It is the same with coloured nurses; and I should like to see more coloured teachers in this country, for I believe that that would make a great difference to the attitude of people towards them. Also, if my noble friend Lord Pakenham will forgive me for mentioning it, I should like to see more coloured people employed in banks and places of that kind. He can set a very good example and I hope he will.


My Lords, perhaps the Big Five will lead the way.


I think it is always the little people—the poor relations—who lead the way, as my noble friend said the other day. We can do a great deal to educate our people and to remove this prejudice; and the people of the countries concerned, those in the West Indies, can also do a great deal. I was glad to hear from the noble Earl, Lord Perth, of what was being done in those countries. I was impressed by his words and am grateful to him for telling us. I have referred to ignorance as one of the factors but fear is another. We have to remove fear in regard to jobs, housing and so on, but I have no time to dwell any further upon that.

I come now to the next leg of the Resolution: that is, violence. The interesting fact is that nearly all the people who have been concerned in this violence are young people: and in fact it has been limited to two areas. I do not say that there has been no ill-feeling or violence anywhere else, but the matters about which we are talking have been confined to two areas within a very short time. Reference has been made to conditions in Notting Hill. I have indirect evidence about the position in Nottingham. I have been informed that in August, 1957, the number of people between the ages of 15 and 18 who were unemployed was 45. in August, 1958, the number had risen to 650. There is no question of coloured people having taken away the jobs of the 605 extra people who were unemployed, for this is ordinary unemployment. The general view in Nottingham is that this outbreak—and it was a sporadic outbreak—was the direct result of unemployment among young people with high spirits, and hooliganism, and was not necessarily the result of direct racial antagonism. It manifested itself in that way as it would manifest itself against anybody else who happened to be handy. But the people of Nottingham had lived on pretty good terms with the coloured people for a number of years. There had been no outbreaks previously, and there was no particular reason why there should have been an outbreak of violence on that particular day, except a number of fortuitous circumstances which arose and, as is the general view in Nottingham, the increased amount of unemployment among young people. There has been no such occurrence in other places where there are just as many coloured people employed, and they have learnt to live together and are doing so without any trouble whatever.

It is certainly not, by and large, the fault of the immigrants themselves. A general testimony has been given by a number of speakers and by the noble Earl, Lord Perth, himself, that on the whole they are very well behaved. The testimony is that, particularly in their family relations, they can set an example to a great many white families; they are particularly good to their children, and I am told that there is not a single case of child neglect among the coloured people who have come into this country. Of course, there are black sheep—there are black sheep everywhere, among white and coloured people—but their number is very small, and I would submit that their conduct is no justification for the outbreaks of violence that have taken place. I believe, however, that it would be a great mistake to exaggerate the significance of these outbreaks and to relate them directly. To take action as a result of these outbreaks would be panic action which I should strongly deprecate, and I hope that the Government will share that view. I think that, before action is even considered seriously, we should wait and see how the position develops, following the steps that have been taken by the Government and by the Governments of the various Commonwealth countries.

A number of matters have been mentioned and I want, very briefly, to refer to them. There is first the question of legislation against discrimination. A number of noble Lords who have spoken have given, I believe, telling reasons why legislation of the kind they visualise would be ineffective; and I believe that there is a lot to be said for that view. But they are answering something that has never been put up seriously. I entirely agree that it would be very difficult to legislate against discrimination in hotels or in jobs, because of the difficulty of proving the case—I accept that; but there are, nevertheless, some forms of discrimination and some forms of manifestation of racialism which I think can be made the subject of law.

A number of noble Lords have referred to the example of the United States. I do not think there is a parallel there at all. I remember that when I was in the United States many years ago, during the days of Prohibition, I was actually taken to the home of one of the Judges of the High Court as his guest and offered a great variety of drinks. Of course, that kind of law got into disrepute. But what I have in mind, and what I believe my Party have in mind, are open manifestations of racial antagonism: statements made on a platform, and statements, such as we are hearing of to-day, inciting people against coloured people and that kind of thing. I can think of instances where there would be no difficulty about proof, where statements are directly calculated to induce people either to commit violence or to create prejudice against coloured people. I believe that this sort of thing could be made the subject of legislation. I hope that, before the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, and the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and others, definitely commit themselves to opposition to a measure of this kind, they will study my point and carefully consider whether what we would put forward would not be practicable in the limited form in which I have expressed it.

Then there is the question of education. I have referred a good deal to education in the course of my remarks, and other noble Lords have done so, too. The kind of education I have in mind is more and more social contact with other people of other countries. One noble Lord said that there is nothing so effective as sitting round a table with people and talking to them; and if more people in this country were prepared to accept coloured people in their homes on equal terms, as well as by giving them jobs which would bring them in contact with more and more people, I think that a great deal could be done.

A number of noble Lords have suggested that there should be a certain amount of restricted immigration. I think the general sense of this debate has been that on the whole we are against it. I do not suggest that the time could not conceivably come when we might have to think about the matter again—after all, nothing is impossible. But at this moment, in my view, nothing is happening which would justify either discriminatory legislation or deportation. Another noble Lord (I believe it was the noble Lord, Lord Winster) said that we ought to consume our own smoke. I should not put it in quite that way; but, accepting that most of the Commonwealth countries take steps to avoid giving a passport to people who have committed offences in their own country, I think we must take it that they do their best to weed out the criminals. I think we must accept that and not resort to deportation.


My Lords, I am not in any sense at all arguing with the noble Lord, but I make this suggestion: that possibly if the immigrants themselves were consulted on the deportation of bad characters—and I mean really bad characters—they might be in favour of it, because it would get rid of the very people who give them a bad name. I put that suggestion to the noble Lord.


Such people are, presumably, put out of harm's way by being given a long term of imprisonment. I am not sure that the Commonwealth countries would welcome having back their "bad eggs". I think we ought to be in a position to deal with them by the normal means. Therefore, I hope that the Government will not be induced by panic measures to take any action at all of the kind that has been suggested from a few quarters at this stage.

I do not know what are the Government's intentions. The noble Earl, Lord Perth, was good enough to let me have a statement of what he said. What he said was that the Home Secretary is to discuss with the Governments particularly concerned the best way of reaching Commonwealth agreement "to limit the human difficulties of these immigrants." Whether that means restricting immigration or not, I do not know—I should have to take legal advice on the meaning of those words. But on the face of it, and on the whole, I should think perhaps it does not. I am not quite sure. But perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Chesham, will be able to interpret and explain this rather difficult phrase.


It may help if I tell the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, that that is the second part of the point I was dealing with: it should be read with the first sentence that I quoted from the Home Secretary. The noble Lord has the actual words—I have not got them because I lent him my paper. However, the two things run together. One should not be read without the other.


The first sentence is: We should maintain the long and respected tradition of allowing citizens of the Commonwealth to come here. That, I gather, is modified by the second sentence. I think that what I am asking is capable of a very clear answer. Is it or is it not the intention of the Government to introduce legislation to restrict immigration? If it is, what kind of restriction have they in mind? If, as I hope, the answer is in the negative, then that will be perfectly satisfactory to us.

I conclude by saying that I feel this has been a most valuable debate. It has been one that this House can be really proud of; and whatever our respective views and our respective differences may be, I hope I may say, without appearing patronising, that every speaker, with the possible exception of the present one, has made a valuable contribution to the subject under discussion.

7.2 p.m.


My Lords, I should like first of all to join with the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, for providing the vehicle which has produced a deeply thoughtful and very sincere debate in your Lordships' House. If there is a wide measure of agreement visible around the House, that only makes the debate the more valuable. For my part, with the task of winding up on behalf of the Government, it certainly makes it very much easier and more pleasant. It may be that in the course of my remarks, I shall have to mention things which the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said, but I should like straightaway to join issue with him on his closing remark about his own speech. I think the whole House will feel that we have had from him a most valuable, deeply thought-out and very fine contribution.

Some noble Lords considered one method better and some another, but all noble Lords were, I thought, imbued with the same desire in this matter; and that desire will, I am sure, help to give a lead to public opinion, not only in this country but very far outside it, in the forming of a balanced judgment on the extremely complicated issues raised by the immigration which your Lordships have been debating. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, and my noble friend Lord Perth have spoken of the numbers of immigrants of various kinds who have come here in recent years.

My Lords, these immigrants are, on the whole, law-abiding people. They have come here to work, and for the most part they have been received with our traditional good-humoured tolerance. The noble Lord referred to the deplorable incidents which took place at Nottingham and Notting Hill, and, like him, I should not wish to be dogmatic as to the precise causes of the outbreaks. The noble Lord referred to them, I thought, with a balance and fairness which put them into their true perspective. In view of the lack of perspective with which they have been referred to here and in many other parts of the world, I am grateful to him for that, as I am for his remarks (which I thoroughly endorse) about the action of the police, which was speedy and impartial, and for pointing out, as was of course the fact, that a number of coloured people were arrested as well as white. I think it is fair to claim that it is as a result of that police action and the subsequent firm sentences im- posed by the courts that no further disturbances of this sort have occurred.

Although, as I have said—and I think the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, agrees with me here—in the main the Commonwealth immigrants are law-abiding, there are a few who seem to indulge in certain types of crime, particularly in connection with prostitution; and there is clearly feeling about the lack of any power to send back to their countries of origin immigrants of British nationality who so abuse the hospitality of this country. I have to admit that the absence of such a power is one of the factors that could easily contribute Ito the wo7sening of relations between white and coloured people, because the publicity given to offences by a few coloured people may, as several noble Lords have thought, give an unnecessarily bad name to the whole.

For this reason the Government are considering the question of legislation conferring power to deport such undesirable immigrants to, of course, their countries of origin. But, my Lords, this consideration is of a very complex nature and is not yet complete. Moreover, there will, of course, have to be close consultation with the other countries of the Commonwealth. It would be quite premature for me to say more except that, if such legislation were decided upon, it would naturally apply to all Commonwealth immigrants, whoever they were and wherever they came from. Incidentally, I thought that the noble Earl, Lord Lucan, seemed a little shocked at that conception—unless I greatly mistook the tone in which he spoke. If I am right, that surprises me somewhat, because any variation of that which would be in my view quite proper would result only in the creation of another form of colour bar, as it were, which was exactly what the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, feared.


May I interrupt the noble Lord for a moment? Would it be possible to limit such legislation to members of the Commonwealth? Would it not have to include all foreigners?


My Lords, so far as all foreigners are concerned—people other than citizens of the Commonwealth—there is already legislation on 'the subject of immigration to this country; and I hope that we can confine this question purely to the people about whom we are talking.


I meant on deportation.


My Lords, we already have power to deport undesirable foreigners; in fact, it is done frequently. But there are no such powers regarding the Commonwealth immigrants we have been talking about, who have the right to come here.

The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, referred to various myths that circulate about the coloured immigrants, and said that he hoped they could be dispelled. For my part, I am only too glad to do what I can in that respect. I hope that I have already made clear that there is no substance in the view that, in general, they are prone to crime. By and large, they do not present any particular problem to the police, and they are at least as law-abiding as most other inhabitants of this country. Nor would it be true to say that they undercut white people in the labour market. They do not. They work for precisely the same wages. It is sometimes said that there is a health problem, but at the moment certainly we are not aware that there is a serious problem. There is some evidence of a tendency to tuberculosis among immigrants from India and Pakistan but the number of West Indians in tuberculosis hospitals is, I believe, remarkably low.

I come to the suggestion, that no effective solution can be reached to the problems raised by immigration from the Commonwealth unless legislation is introduced placing a general control on such immigration. I would repeat that such a control could not be established on a basis of race or colour, but would have to apply to all immigrants from the Commonwealth. The Government have given much thought to this question of late. On the one hand, we are alive to the human, the social and the economic difficulties that arise when a large number of immigrants come here without prospect of work or of decent accommodation. On the other hand (and this is Lord Silkin's point, although I do not want to quibble with him on the construction that can be put on a word, and I want to do my best to make clear what my noble friend Lord Perth said), as I understand it, we feel that any departure from the time-honoured tradition of hospitality extended by the United Kingdom to members of all Commonwealth countries would require very strong justification. For our part, we should be very reluctant to see the ending of these important ties which help to bind the Commonwealth together.


My Lords, what the noble Lord has said is very satisfactory. Would he not go a little further and say that at present there is no justification for such a step?


My Lords, I think that I have made myself perfectly clear, and on that I should prefer to stand. I have been talking about ties within the Commonwealth, and I should like to thank noble Lords who have made suggestions on education which, I think noble Lords will agree, is an important facet of the problem. In particular, I recognise the force of the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, about the exchange of teachers. I hope that that proposal will be followed up before long.

I come now to a point which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and I should like to take this opportunity to add my congratulations on and appreciation of his excellent maiden speech. He mentioned the problem of all-night cafés and I know that he will not mind my saying that, though this may have a bearing, it is not a problem that really arises in this debate. It is a matter for consideration under the Wolfenden Report, and, as I think the noble Lord knows, there is some active thinking about that at the present time.

The noble Lord also mentioned housing, as did the noble Lord, Lord Winster. There is no doubt that this contiues to constitute a considerable problem. While there is no room for complacency about it, the picture is not one of unrelieved gloom. Many immigrants, particularly West Indians who have been in this country for some time, have settled well, and some have brought over their families and have now become established members of the community here. We have heard to-day that more are coming and I hope that the position I have described will strengthen as time goes on. Some have housed themselves by their own efforts; some have been helped by the local authorities, and some by housing associations. But in whatever way it may have been, they have made themselves good homes and settled in. I think that this is a point that we may well remember. It is easy for this kind of unobtrusive but solid achievement to be overshadowed by the difficulties about which we hear so much more.

The hard core of the problem still exists—that is, the severe overcrowding which prevails in the lodging-houses where a number of coloured workers live. Basically, the overcrowding arises from shortage of the right type of lodgings, and clearly this trouble cannot be cured easily or quickly. Local authorities have power to control overcrowding, but we consider that it would be irresponsible to use them if there were no alternative accommodation for the people who would be displaced. Here again, the outlook is not entirely gloomy. There is still gross overcrowding in a number of cases, but there are signs that it is tending to diminish and that the more extreme forms are disappearing. Like everything else to do with the problem we are discussing, the situation cannot he put right quickly, but I think I am right in saying that it is on the move towards improvement.

Before come to the question of legislation against discrimination, I should like to refer to the point, raised by my noble friend Lord Hastings, about legislation in America. I think that this is an interesting subject which might well be pursued, but although the problems are similar I feel that the background in the United States is greatly different from what we find here.

I come to the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, and by other noble Lords, that legislation should be introduced to prohibit racial discrimination in this country. Her Majesty's Government do not think that penal legislation would he an appropriate way of dealing with this matter. In fact, there is not much evidence of discrimination against coloured people in what I believe are properly known as places of public resort. Such discrimination as does exist has naturally no basis in law, and is due simply to personal prejudice which the Government believe is deplored by the great majority of people in this country. It is one thing to deplore a practice and to seek to secure its condemnation by public opinion, but it is quite another thing to use against it the weapon of criminal legislation. To produce some form of formal prohibition against discrimination by an Act of Parliament might, I think—and I believe a number of others think this, also—have the opposite effect from that intended by the promoters of the legislation. The Act of Parliament would run a risk of recognising the existence of discrimination in a way which might draw attention to it and would tend rather to foster it than to do away with it. Also, there would be great difficulty in framing legislation without restricting the existing Common Law right of any occupier of premises to refuse admittance to anyone, whatever his colour, without giving any reason.

This might be an appropriate point to turn to the specific question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, on the subject of inns. At the risk of being slightly tedious, I think it is necessary to be quite clear as to what an inn is—I see the noble Lord, Lord Silkin., smiles—because there is sometimes confusion over the meaning of the word. An inn is defined in Section 1 (3) of the Hotel Proprietors Act, 1956, as an establishment held out by the proprietor as offering food, drink and, if so required, sleeping accommodation, without special contract, to any traveller presenting himself who appears able and willing to pay a reasonable sum for the services and facilities provided and who is in a fit state to be received ". Innkeepers are under a Common Law obligation (expressly preserved by the Act) to provide refreshment and accommodation for travellers unless there are reasonable grounds in any instance for not doing so. Whether arty particular premises are an inn is a question of fact in each case—as, incidentally, is the question of when a man is a traveller; and whether any particular refusal to provide refreshment and accommodation is reasonable can only be decided by the courts.

However, the licensee of a public house, or other premises (not being an inn) licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquor, is entitled, if he wishes, to refuse to serve anyone—so the courts have held. Similarly he has an occupier's ordinary Common Law right of arbitrarily requesting any person to leave and of ejecting him upon refusal. When the renewal of a licence is being considered, however, the licensing justices are entitled to, and do, take into account the manner in which the premises serve the public, and it is open to anyone interested to object to the renewal on the ground of the licensee's conduct towards some of his customers. Therefore, so far as the general conduct of licensed premises is concerned, there seems to be no need for amendment of the law. For the test of the establishments mentioned by the noble Lord, restaurants, dance halls, music halls and the like, cases of discrimination are not very frequent, and when they do happen public opinion is apt to be aroused and to condemn the, action. Such acts really classify as individual acts of discrimination.

So we come to the next difficulty, which is that of the enforcement of any law dealing with racial discrimination. I was cheered when I heard the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, put this point and say that such things are difficult to prove: indeed, they are. It would be difficult to prove that an alleged reason for discrimination against a coloured person was in fact his colour and not some other legitimate reason. To prove a single case of discrimination it might be necessary to bring evidence of the treatment of a number of coloured people and also of a number of white people who had received different treatment. It might well be difficult to obtain such evidence, and the attempt to do so might well have the reverse effect of what is intended and might tend to work up racial antagonism where none previously existed.

The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, mentioned the possibility of a partial law, as it were, against discrimination, in which he suggested that incitement to race violence and that sort of thing should form the subject of legislation. He knows much more about this than I do, but surely the existing law is sufficient to cover that point. Speeches inciting to race violence are already an offence.


I agree. I really intended to say, and I am afraid I did not, inciting to race hatred rather than to race violence.


That might be so, but again it would depend upon the interpretation of words, because in making a speech inciting to race hatred there would be a tricky borderline to define where hatred might turn into violence.

There is, finally, the main question of whether legislation could really solve the problem. An Act of Parliament could not in itself prevent discrimination on the part of individuals in their private dealings with coloured people, and that clearly must be the root of the whole problem. As has been said by several noble Lords, it might even do the opposite. For all these reasons, the Government are not disposed to rush into the specious and most likely ineffective attempt to solve this problem by legislation. We think—and much that has been said to-day seems to bear this out—that the right way is to rely on education, in its every and widest sense, of public opinion, and a steady improvement in the standard of individual behaviour, through the example of responsible bodies and individuals and through influential expressions of view. With this in mind, I feel I can confidently hope that what has been said in the debate to-day will be an early, helpful and notable contribution. I hope it will contribute towards that state of affairs which we all desire to bring about where in this country racial prejudice and violence shall not prevail.

7.30 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that all who have taken part in this debate will feel that the noble Lord who has just spoken has maintained the level that, possibly apart from the first speech, was very high indeed, and all who have spoken are grateful to him and to the noble Earl, Lord Perth. This is not the case where one individual is throwing out some bright ideas of his own, and in opening this debate I spoke for many millions of people, not only in the Labour Party but in many parts of this country and the world. Therefore it is not a case where some personal contribution from me will be expected at the end.

I should, however, like to thank not only the Government speakers, who have been so courteous in their replies, but also all who have taken part. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, made a big impression, I could see, on Members opposite, and no doubt on this side, although I could not see them because they are behind me. I should also like in particular to join in the praise to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, who was not in the House when the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said what many of us felt to be the case—that the noble Lord had made the best maiden speech within recollection. It is difficult to find words to describe maiden speeches—the vocabulary has become rather exhausted in recent years—but as the noble Lord was speaking I think we all felt that he had something from which all of us could benefit and, equally, which we could all admire, and we were glad, too, that he had brought it here, so to speak, to display it for our benefit. I should also like to thank the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, who came into this debate at fairly short notice, and who has given years of thought and work to these great causes. I found his speech not only kind to me but very moving from many points of view.

I will not refer to other speeches in any inadequate way, but the noble Marquess needed Father Huddleston here in person. I feel I was a poor substitute. It is not for me, least of all in the House at the moment, to discuss possibilities within the Established Church, but if Father Huddleston comes to adorn those Benches I feel that Christianity will be looked after strongly from all points of view. The noble Marquess made one point which I am afraid I did not take down. His words were effectively phrased, and I think he said words to the effect that he declined to believe that there was a Christian duty confined to the United Kingdom. I am afraid I have not got his exact words.


My Lords, what I intended to say was that it appeared that this duty of Commonwealth membership which included the completely free entry, was confined to the United Kingdom; that there were restrictions in existence in all the Colonies and practically, so far as I know, in all members of the Commonwealth as well. I did not think you could have a fundamental Christian principle which applied to the United Kingdom alone.


I can appreciate the appeal of that observation, but what I was trying to say in my own remarks was that I thought that in this country we recognised a special responsibility. I realise that as Christians we are all in the position of the Good Samaritan—everyone is our neighbour. But there has been a special responsibility in this case. I feel that we had a responsibility which came particularly close home here.


The noble Lord gives me the opportunity of asking him a question not answered by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin. Does he think there should be no restrictions at all on entry into our Colonies?


I should think that it was necessary to maintain restrictions. I should like to see the case argued in particular cases. I am not going to say, by and large, that there should be restrictions in every case, but I would not say that if one took a colonial territory with 25 per cent. unemployment and a standard of life much lower than ours, I would not feel that responsibility rested on the Government concerned or on our Government. The general answer I would give is that I should want to examine it in relation to each case.


I asked that question only because it is a point that appears to be not adequately dealt with by the opponents of the view which I expressed. They were all absolutely clear that everybody must be allowed into this country without restriction. They say it is a solemn duty which arises from their membership of the Commonwealth. But when it comes to the same considerations applying on the other side they appear to take a different view. I know the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, did not answer it, and it seems a matter of some importance.


My Lords, I think that we, as the Mother Country, are in a special position, and different from other members of the Commonwealth and the Dominions.


That is what I tried to say in my early remarks—that owing to our unique position in the Commonwealth it was our duty to set standards.


That would be an absolute duty whatever conditions were here, and however many people wanted to come?


I would say that it was a duty in any circumstances that I could foresee. It is an absolute duty not to discriminate between coloured and white. I would regard it as a duty generally. That would he as far as I could take it this evening. I will not say more, except that the statements made by the Minister will require to be studied carefully. I am not "utterly extinguished", to use the phrase Sir Winston Churchill once used, by the first reaction on the part of the Government with regard to legislation against discrimination. I have never suggested that the problem could be solved by legislation alone. I realise that if we are serious in desiring some form of legislation we must present the case in more detail. We can no doubt come to these matters again.

As regards the most carefully-worded announcement from the Government on the question of their attitude to unrestricted immigration from the Commonwealth, we must study the pronouncement very carefully indeed. I cannot help recalling a passage in Mr. Nigel Nicolson's new book. He describes troubles in his constituency in which he played so gallant a part. He recalls meeting Mr. Butler (who seems to be associated with this subject) and wondered what Mr. Butler's attitude would be to his position. Mr. Butler passed Mr. Nicolson and, when he drew close, gave him an inscrutable smile and inclined his head. Mr. Nicolson was left uncertain what the smile and the inclination of the head amounted to. This statement seems to be in the best Butlerian tradition, and we shall need to examine it more closely. I should imagine it is a statement helpful to those who believe as we do on these Benches, and in that spirit and hope I should be prepared, with those reservations, to welcome it. More generally, I feel that this is one of the most valuable debates in which I have been allowed to participate, and I should like to thank all those who have taken part, and the Ministers for the courteous way in which they have replied to us. With that, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.