HL Deb 02 April 1962 vol 239 cc1-27

2.36 p.m.

Order of the Day for receiving the Report of Amendments read.


My Lords, in rising to move that this Report be now received, I hope that your Lordships will not think that I am trespassing unduly on your Lordships' time, but although a number of points raised an Committee stage are dealt with by the Amendments now before your Lordships, there are one or two other important points on which I promised your Lordships that I would consult my right honourable friend the Home Secretary and I think that it would be convenient if I told the House the result of this consultation.

The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, asked me to make sure that full information about the controls we propose to operate would be available overseas well before the date on which Part I of the Bill was brought into force. I can give satisfactory assurances to the noble Lord on this point. We certainly do not want any immigrants to arrive at our ports with a justifiable sense of grievance because they have not learned of the controls and have had no opportunity, if they are coming for employment, to obtain the necessary vouchers. The Government have various plans in hand for publicity both at home and overseas. A leaflet is being prepared which will make quite clear when the controls come into force and give a good deal of information about them. This leaflet will be freely available overseas and I hope that it will be widely read and help to remove any misunderstandings that still linger on.


My Lords, may I thank the noble and learned Viscount for that information and ask him whether he can give us more indication of the sort of notice that will be available? I understand that many immigrants come over on "package deals" by paying deposits and I should not like them to lose their deposits.


My Lords, as to the dates proposed for bringing into operation that Part of the Bill, I think after my inquiries, so far as they go, that the time will be ample, but if I can give the noble Lord any further information, I will write to him about it. In the same connection, I have drawn my right honourable friend's attention to the wish expressed by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, that the final version of the Instructions to immigration officers should be made public, so that again everyone might know the policy which we propose to follow. Your Lordships will be glad to know that my right honourable friend the Home Secretary proposes that the final version of these Instructions shall be published as a White Paper shortly after the Bill becomes law.

May I take this opportunity of saying that I have also drawn my right honourable friend's attention to the legitimate worry of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, about unnecessary delay at the ports and airports as a result of the operation of the Bill? Obviously, I cannot promise that no delay will occur and that no one will ever be kept waiting longer than the delay at present, but I can assure the House that we are studying how to reduce delays to the minimum, especially where genuine visitors are concerned, and I do not believe that the position will be anything like so bad as the noble Lord feared.


My Lords, does that mean that the immigration authorities will take the responsibility for looking after these people during any interval which may unavoidably occur, or must they make their own arrangements about accommodation and so forth?


My Lords, that will depend on the circumstances. I hope that there will not be any delays which will necessitate their having to find lodgings for the night before they see an immigration officer. I also hope that I am not being too optimistic about that. Of course, if any difficulty arises, that will have to be dealt with on its own merits.

So far as deportation is concerned, there is only one point, though a very important one, which I undertook to consider. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, suggested that there ought to be some restriction on the type of offence for which a court could recommend deportation. I should like to tell the noble Lord that we had considered this point before the last debate and we have considered it again. May I put it this way? We should all agree, as an abstract proposition that the court should not recommend deportation for minor offences; but when we try to set out what we mean by "minor offences", we run into great difficulties.

I have considered whether it should be offences which are punishable only by a certain period of imprisonment—for example, three months—but that would prevent us from dealing in this way with repeated offences of soliciting and with first offences of brothel-keeping, for which a court might well feel that deportation was the correct procedure. Alternatively, we considered excluding cases of a certain class. But if we were to exclude, for example, road traffic offences, it might well create the impression that we were failing to take them seriously; and there are certain road traffic offences the seriousness of which might be so great that the courts might well feel that this was the correct procedure. After careful consideration, we feel that what the Bill suggests—namely, offences punishable by imprisonment is the best criterion.

I should like to assure the noble Lord that we have considered his point, and I am sorry that it has not brought any further result. I hope that this is a useful method of telling the House because, although I have written to all the noble Lords explaining the point, the House does not know that. I thought it would be convenient that your Lordships should know that the points have been considered and that in regard to most of them I have been able to meet some of the fears expressed.

Moved, That the Report be now received.—(The Lord Chancellor.)


My Lords, I am glad that the Government have decided to publish the final version of the Instructions that the Home Secretary will give to immigration officers. I should like to thank the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor—and in this I am sure I speak for other noble Lords—for his courtesy in informing me before the Report stage that he had consulted the Home Secretary and that the Home Secretary had agreed.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 2 [Refusal of admission and conditional admission]:

THE LORD CHANCELLOR moved, in subsection (4), to leave out: or to a medical inspector and to substitute: on the advice of a medical inspector or, if no such inspector is available, of any other duly qualified medical practitioner ". The noble and learned Viscount said: My Lords, this Amendment has been put down as a result of the debate during the Committee stage on an Opposition Amendment which would have removed the power of the immigration officer to refuse admission on medical grounds except on the advice of a medical inspector. I made clear that the power to do so would have been used only in exceptional circumstances. There was general acceptance during the Committee stage debate that there might be circumstances in which an immigration officer might reasonably act on the advice of a doctor, particularly a ship's doctor, who had not been appointed a medical inspector, though I think the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, had some doubts about this point. I undertook to discuss the point with the Home Secretary and, as a result, this Amendment has been tabled.

The effect of the Amendment is that the immigration officer may refuse admission on medical grounds only on the advice of a medical inspector or, if such inspector is not available, of a duly qualified medical practitioner. The wording emphasises that the normal course will be to consult the medical inspector, and an assurance can be given that it would be only in unusual circumstances that the opinion of another doctor—for example, a ship's doctor—would be obtained. This could happen, as I think I mentioned, on an Atlantic crossing or if the immigration authorities were informed of the medical condition of a seaman. I want to make it clear that the Amendment does not mean that the Ministry of Health will not make every effort to see that medical inspectors are available at all ports where a number of immigrants may arrive. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 13, leave out (" or to a medical inspector ") and insert the said new words.—(The Lord Chancellor.)


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble and learned Viscount for his kindness in thinking over this point and for putting down this Amendment, which completely meets the points I had in mind.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

2.48 p.m.

LORD SILKIN moved, after Clause 2 to insert the following new Clause:

Appeals to immigration boards

" .—(1) Where admission to enter the United Kingdom is refused the immigrant may appeal to the immigration board and that board shall, if they are satisfied that the immigrant should be admitted, give leave for the immigrant to be so admitted and leave so given shall operate as the leave of the immigration officer.

(2) An immigration board shall be set up at suitable ports of entry and shall consist of three persons summoned in accordance with rules made by the Secretary of State under this Act out of a list approved by him for the port comprising fit persons having magisterial, business or administrative experience."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this Amendment I would first say that I do not feel I need apologise to the House for raising once more what I regard as perhaps the most important Amendment to this Bill. The noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack and many others have expressed their great reluctance at having to introduce this Bill, and it has created a good deal of feeling in the Commonwealth. In my view, perhaps the most important Amendment of the Bill which could have the effect of reconciling the members of the Commonwealth to its provisions would be a provision enabling an immigrant who is refused immigration to this country to appeal to some tribunal. Various Amendments on this point were moved in another place, and I moved one on the Committee stage in this House, but none was accepted by the Government. Nevertheless, I feel it is just worth while trying once more, in the hope that wiser counsels will prevail and that the Government may be induced to reconsider the matter.

On the Committe stage, the noble and learned Viscount, who was the main spokesman against the Amendment, gave two reasons why it was not acceptable to have an appeal. The first, as he described it, was one of principle; and the principle, as I understand it, was that the question of admission into this country is one of policy for which the Home Secretary is responsible; that the policy of the Home Secretary is laid down quite clearly in the Bill and is elaborated in the Instructions to the immigration officers; that the immigration officers are the agents of the Home Secretary in carrying out the policy; that he accepts responsibility for that, and that any appeal provided in this Bill would in effect be an appeal against the policy of the Home Secretary. I hope I have correctly interpreted this statement of policy.

I understand the point of view of the noble and learned Viscount, and it may well be that in a world entirely governed by logical considerations this would be true. But in fact there are many instances in other Departments where a decision is given on behalf of the Minister, a decision on policy laid down, and where an appeal has been provided. I think I quoted on the Committee stage the cases of National Insurance, National Assistance, pensions, and so on. In all these cases scales are laid down, and conditions of payment or entitlement are provided by Statute or Regulations. Exactly the same thing happens as in the case of the immigration officers. The interpretation of the Statute and the Regulations is by an officer of the Department, who is deemed the agent of the Minister, but against whose decision nevertheless there is an appeal. But none of these analogies appears to convince the noble and learned Viscount or the Government, and I want therefore to bring forward an analogy which I think is much closer to the subject we are discussing. I will return to that in a moment.

The second point which the noble and learned Viscount put forward was one of administration and the difficulties that would arise if large numbers of immigrants who were refused admission decided to appeal—the question of appeal and the provision of accommoda- tion. The noble and learned Viscount explained that there was no room in the prisons, and I presume there is no room in what we used to call the workhouses—we now call them institutions—and there is probably no room in any other public buildings of that kind. In fact, it would not be workable. I reply to that, if it is right that there should be an appeal—if immigrants ought to have an appeal against the decision of an immigration officer—then, somehow, we ought to provide the means, and we should not allow pure administration to defeat what is a right and proper thing to do. I hope the Government will still recognise that if it can possibly be done, consistent wtih the question of principle, then this appeal ought to be granted. I want to emphasise—and I cannot emphasise it too strongly—that in all the correspondence I have received, and in all the representations on the part of the Commonwealth that have been made to me and, I have no doubt, to many other noble Lords about this Bill, the thing to which the greatest importance is attached is the right of appeal.

I want now to come to the question of principle. I gave certain analogies, but I admit quite freely that the noble and learned Viscount, if he wished to do so, would easily find some way of distinguishing between the cases that I put forward as analogous and the present case. But I think I have an exact case in point, and that is under the provisions of the Aliens Act, 1905. It is analogous in one sense in that it is one of the last Acts of the Conservative Government of 1895 to 1905, and I imagine that this must be one of the last Acts that this Government will be passing. It is curious that in both cases it is an Act to exclude people from this country. But I think it is an exact parallel from another point of view. Under the Aliens Act, 1905, there was actually provided a tribunal of appeal or, rather, a series of tribunals. Under Section 1 of the 1905 Act there was provision that tribunals should be set up at each of the ports of entry. These tribunals were to consist of three people, and they were to deal with all appeals against refusal to permit aliens to enter.

In my Amendment I have tried to follow the language of the Act of 1905, so that the same kind of tribunals of appeal might be set up in this country.

I provide that they shall be appointed, as in the case of the 1905 Act, at each of the ports of entry. In my view, if you have a sufficient number of these tribunals it should not be difficult to find people to serve on them, and there need be no real delay in the appeals being heard. It should be possible to have the appeals heard within a day or two of admission being refused.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord for one moment? Could he say, while dealing with this board that he wants to set up, whether or not the people who comprise it are to be paid for their services?


In the case of the 1905 Act they were not paid.


What about these tribunals, with more people coming in? Are they to be paid?


I should have thought that there would be no difficulty in appointing a number of tribunals of three people who would be prepared to serve. I want to say a word about the number of people who would be coming in in a moment. If I forget, I hope the noble Lord will remind me, because I do want to deal with that point.

The value of having these tribunals at the ports of entry would be, as I say, that there need be no serious delay in dealing with the appeals. The Aliens Act was in operation until the outbreak of war in 1914, when it was discontinued, and a new Act was passed in 1916. But while it was in operation for eight or nine years there were a number of appeals. I think the House may be interested in knowing the number. There were altogether, between 1906 and 1910—that is, the first four years—5,000-odd exclusions, of whom just over half appealed, and of those who appealed a little less than one in three were allowed admission. Of the total number, that is, as compared with the exclusions, about a quarter were allowed in. I have not the figures from 1910 to 1914 readily available, but I have seen them and I understand that they are not very different from those to which I refer. Between the years 1906 and 1913 there were 9,421 exclusions, of whom about half appealed. Of those who appealed the appeals of just over one-third were allowed; and the final rejections were 7,600. At any rate this machinery appeared to work until the outbreak of war in 1914, and it worked to the complete satisfaction of the country and of the people who were concerned. So far as I know, there were no serious complaints at all about the administration.

Some fears have been expressed that there would be vast numbers of cases to be heard, which would be quite unmanageable. The noble and learned Viscount has himself, to some extent, provided the answer, because by publishing the final Instructions to immigration officers, immigrants will be made fully aware of the circumstances in which admission will be permitted and of the extent of the immigration officers' discretion. As I mentioned before, fares from the Commonwealth are very high and immigrants are not likely to come to this country if they believe that the probability is that they will be excluded. Therefore this publication of the Instructions will be of great help. I think, also, that the arrangements which the noble and learned Viscount announced of information which will be provided in the various Commonwealth countries—that is, advice for prospective immigrants—will deter anybody who is unlikely to be admitted to this country under the Instructions that will be issued by the Home Secretary.

The probabilities are that only those who feel they have a reasonable chance of being admitted under the discretion that will be given to the immigration officers will actually come, and that appeals will be only of those who feel that the discretion has been wrongly exercised within the instructions of the Home Secretary. I cannot imagine that there will be so many as to make this unmanageable, but I want to repeat that even if the numbers are larger than I think, and even if it involves some form of daily payment to those who serve on these committees, that that should not constitute a reason for refusing this right of appeal if we regard the right of appeal as a proper thing to give.

I come back to the point of principle, which, in fact, the noble and learned Viscount put forward, which was really a point on administration: that, having given the Home Secretary powers, is it right that there should be an appeal against them.? Curiously enough, only last Thursday when we were discussing the Pipe-lines Bill the noble and learned Viscount, in answer to an Amendment by the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, actually put forward a proposal which will, in effect, provide an appeal against the decision of a Minister. I was rather surprised, and I would be against it in that particular case because there had already been an appeal on the part of an objector to an order, but I do not want to make too much of it. This is not an absolute principle; it is something into which we have made an inroad from time to time; but if the noble and learned Viscount will tell me that he does not regard this as an inroad into this principle I will accept it from him, because I do not want to make a false point and spoil the effect of my argument. I rest really on the fact that this is something which has been done, which operated under our laws for ten years and which, so far as I know, might still have been operating if the War of 1914–18 had not come along and the Act been amended. It is on that basis that I should like to put my case.

I hope that the Government, even at this late hour, will feel that in a serious matter of this sort which is troubling all of us, this is the method to adopt. We all want to feel that if we must take the painful course laid down by this Bill we should, so far as it is at all possible, carry the Commonwealth with us. I hope, therefore, that the Government will not stand on their pride in this matter but will be prepared to look at this matter once more. If they can possibly see their way to agree to a form of appeal against exclusion, I am sure they will have done a great deal towards making the Bill palatable to the Commonwealth and to helping to cement our ties with them. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— After Clause 2, insert the said new clause.—(Lord Silkin.)


My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord that this is one of the most important aspects of the Bill, and although your Lordships will remember that we had a full and lively discussion on the point in the Committee stage I do not for one moment resent the matter's being put down again. I only hope that your Lordships will go this part of the way with me: that I did, as the noble Lord has said, endeavour to deal with the question of principle, and I hope your Lordships will not take it as discourtesy if to-day I do not repeat all the arguments I put before your Lordships on the last occasion.

I want to say only one or two introductory remarks. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, that life is not going to be so easy for him as he imagines when he thinks that this is one of the last measures of this Conservative Government, and I would remind him that if we go on increasing our majority, as I think we shall, either by three times as we did in 1955, or by twice as in 1959, or, say, by the mean of two-and-a-half times, we shall be coming near that great Liberal majority in 1906 which he had in mind.

To return to our discussion, as I say, the points that I made on the last occasion have not lost their validity. I will just put one point to the noble Lord, because he was a distinguished member of the Franks Committee. He will remember that one of the points which his colleagues certainly took very seriously—I do not think the noble Lord felt so strongly as his colleagues did—was when the Minister of Town and Country Planning disagreed with his inspector, a point on which we have had many interesting debates. Nobody whom I know, the Franks Committee or anyone else, has ever suggested that the Minister should not be allowed to disagree with his inspector on a point on which policy is involved.

However, the new point which the noble Lord has put before us to-day is the provision in the Aliens Act, 1905. He says that that was in operation from 1905 to 1914 and that it worked well. I venture to disagree with him, but in view of the argument which he has advanced, perhaps your Lordships will allow me to say a word about it. The historical background is rather interesting. After the barriers that existed during the Napoleonic wars, after Waterloo, we moved into that position of Victorian quietude when there were practically no provisions against entry into this country except some vestigial registration provisions which were allowed to fall into complete desuetude.

In the last years of the nineteenth century the alien problem became acute owing to the large number of aliens from Eastern Europe who settled in East London and other populous areas. The Aliens Act, 1905, was important in our legislative history in that it marked a decisive breach of the tradition that there should be no restriction on any human being to come and settle in this country.

What is important and relative to our consideration is that after that Act, for the first time, there came into being the Immigration Service. It is rather curious to look back at the provisions of this Act. It was, as your Lordships would expect, tentative and experimental, because I think everyone was reluctant to move, including the Government of the day. The control which was set up was far from effective. It applied only to steerage passengers and to ships which brought more than twenty such passengers. The grounds for exclusion were indigence, disease, criminal record or previous expulsion.

The control of foreign labour was no part of the purposes of the Act. An alien who had an offer of employment could be excluded only if he fell within one of the categories other than indigence. As I put it to your Lordships, one ought to bear in mind that the Immigration Service itself was just being born and no one would have cared to prophesy the rightly complimentary remarks that have been made about the present Immigration Service from all parts of both Houses. The Act made a provision for appeal machinery against the decisions of immigration officers to local boards composed of persons of standing and having magisterial business or administrative experience. The presence of a magistrate was desirable but not essential. The board had to be convened within 24 hours of notice of appeal and decision was by a simple majority.

The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has, of course, given the figures correctly, and I take the first period to which he referred, the five years between 1906 and 1910. During that period 5,156 aliens who arrived as steerage passengers were refused leave to land. Rather more than half, 2,731, exercised the right of appeal.

Over one-third of those who appealed, 980, were successful. The noble Lard rather suggested that that was important as showing that the immigration officers had been unreliable; but there is a different explanation. I am told that the practice was that some undesirable sweat shops in the East End used to send emissaries to the hearing of appeals, in particular those held by the London Immigration Board. These persons offered immediate employment to anyone who had been refused admission on the ground of insufficient means: and the Board then allowed the appeal, so that in practice it tended to become a sort of minor employment agency of a not very desirable kind.

The noble Lard suggested that the Act worked well. I am told that it did not, and the evidence that is given to me is that of Sir Edward Troup, a former Permanent Under-Secretary at the Home Office; he made the comments in his book about the Home Office, and any of your Lordships who has happened to look at that book will not for a moment, I think, take the view that Sir Edward was a prejudiced bureaucrat. He was a man of great distinction; I think that is generally allowed. Sir Edward said that whatever opinion might be held of the merits or demerits of the policy of the Act, from the administrative point of view it was one of the worst that had ever been passed. The limitation of the control to vessels carrying more than twenty passengers and to those passengers who travelled steerage opened wide doors for the admission of undesirables. And even where the immigration officers found good reason to refuse leave to land, their decisions were constantly overridden in a way that made effective enforcement of the restrictions almost impossible. Sir Edward's considered comment was that for nine years the Home Office struggled to prevent the Act of Parliament from being reduced to a farce; and the best he could slay for it was that in spite of the ease with which individuals could evade its requirements it produced some effect in the direction of stopping the mass immigration of aliens.

The issue which we are considering to-day is very different. As I have explained, the Act of 1905 did not purport to control immigration of foreign labour, whereas the Bill now before us is primarily designed to impose a control based on employment. Then, as I have said twice, the control was implemented by a service which was new and untried. To-day that service is experienced and expert; as is generally agreed, they will act on principles which are humane and which have been made public in the Instructions with which your Lordships have dealt so fully. I do not want to attach any weight to the question of the difficulty of securing persons to deal with the problem of the present scale or to emphasise again the differences which we should have at different ports.

But I come back, as I began, to the basic objection that an appellate machinery of this kind cannot really be reconciled with the responsibility of the Secretary of State to Parliament; and that principle is not vitiated because Parliament did not apply its mind to it in 1905 when the first rather hesitant step was taken in imposing an alien control. In those days the policy was so tenuous and tentative that the problem we have to-day did not really arise, because in turn it was much more difficult to see what was the policy for which the Home Secretary was responsible—it did not stand out with great clarity; but even so, it must have been frustrated by the procedure which is now suggested. That is why, for the reasons which I explained at considerable length, I still do not believe that in the measure we are now considering it is right to attempt to impose, side by side with the Home Secretary's responsibility to Parliament for the policy, some provision for appeal in individual cases. Therefore

I cannot advise your Lordships to accept the new clause.

I have considered how far the matter could be improved consistent with what I think is the principle which I have stated. I should like to mention one modification in the Instructions to immigration officers which we are proposing to make in order to meet a point which was expressed in the last debate, particularly by my right reverend friend the Lord Bishop of Liverpool. When an immigration officer decides that there is a prima facie case for refusal of admission, it is already the practice for him to obtain the authority of his superior officer before the decision to refuse admission is taken; and the senior officer will often himself interview the individual so that he can form an independent judgment on the facts. We are now proposing to formalise this practice, and to give specific instructions to the Immigration Service that no Commonwealth citizen shall be refused admission except on the authority of a chief immigration officer or an immigration inspector. The Instructions to immigration officers contained in the White Paper are being amended to make this clear.

I do not think your Lordships could expect me to go further within the principles which I have stated. I hope that that will go some way to meet the points, and that your Lordships will not accept this variation of the matter which, as I think the noble Lord said, has hitherto been turned down consistently whenever it has been put up.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 27; Not-Contents, 51.

Airedale, L. Henderson, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Alexander of Hillsborough, V. Kenswood, L. Rea, L.
Amulree, L. Kilbracken, L. Shepherd, L.
Amwell, L. Killearn, L. Silkin, L.
Archibald, L. Lichfield, L. Bp. Stonham, L. [Teller.]
Arran, E. Lindgren, L. Summerskill, B.
Colwyn, L. Listowel, E. Uvedale of North End, L.
Faringdon, L. Lucan, E. [Teller.] Williams, L.
Geddes of Epsom, L. Ogmore, L. Wise, L.
Ailwyn, L. Chesham, L. Ebbisham, L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Conesford, L. Elliot of Harwood, B.
Bathurst, E. Cottesloe, L. Fortescue, E.
Bethell, L. Crathorne, L. Goschen, V.
Bossom, L. Denham, L. Grenfell, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. Derwent, L. Hailsham, V. (L. President.)
Carrington, L. Devonshire, D. Hampton, L.
Harris, L. Mills, L. Saltoun, L.
Hastings, L. Milverton, L. Somers, L.
Hawke, L. Morrison, L. Soulbury, V.
Howe, E. Newall, L. Spens, L.
Ironside, L. Newton, L. [Teller.] Strang, L.
Kilmuir, V. (L. Chancellor.) Perth, E. Strathclyde, L.
Lansdowne, M. Rathcavan, L. Tenby, V.
MacAndrew, L. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.] Teviot, L.
Margesson, V. St. Oswald, L. Twining, L.
Merrivale, L. Salisbury, M. Waleran, L.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 4 [Offences in connection with control of immigration]:

LORD SILKIN had given notice of his intention to move in subsection (2), to leave out "or has reasonable grounds for believing". The noble Lord said: My Lords, the noble and learned Viscount was good enough to write to me in advance of this Amendment and tell me why he is unable to accept it. Whilst I do not feel entirely convinced about it, I think that it would not be right to take up the time of the House in moving an Amendment which the Government were not prepared to accept. Therefore I do not propose to move it.

Clause 12 [Qualifications for citizenship by registration etc.]:

THE LORD CHANCELLOR had given notice of two Amendments, the first of which was, in subsection (2), after "entitled" to insert "or qualified". The noble and learned Viscount said: My Lords, I think it would be for your Lordships' convenience if we took Amendments No. 4 and 5 together because they are drafting Amendments. The first Amendment is designed to resolve a possible doubt as to the interpretation of Clause 12 (1) of the Bill as drafted. The subsection provides that a person shall not be entitled to registration if a deportation order, or a recommendation for deportation, is in force against him, but that he may in such circumstances be registered at the discretion of the Secretary of State if he would otherwise be entitled to be registered. Under Section 3 (2) of the British Nationality Act, 1958, certain classes of persons, in particular those serving in United Kingdom firms, are not entitled to, but only qualified for, registration, and owing to the way that the subsection is worded it is arguable that Clause 12 (1) as drafted would prevent the Secretary of State from exer- cising his discretion in favour of such persons in the circumstances to which Clause 12 (1) refers. Accordingly, to put the matter beyond doubt, the Amendment makes clear that the Secretary of State has power in such circumstances to register a person who would otherwise be "entitled or qualified" for registration. The second Amendment is consequential. I beg to move.

Amendments moved— Page 9, line 24, after (" entitled ") insert (" or qualified "). Page 10, line 5, leave out from (" 1948 ") to end of line 8.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

3.37 p.m.

LORD SHEPHERD moved, after Clause 17 to insert the following new clause:


" . The provisions of this Act shall not (unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary) apply to any Commonwealth citizen who has at any time served in any of the military or police forces of the Crown, or of any Commonwealth territory. A discharge or similar certificate in the possession of the applicant shall be taken as sufficient evidence of such service."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I would make a special appeal not only to Her Majesty's Government but to the House to support the Amendment that I now move. I move it because I believe that a very great principle is at stake. We in this House, as part of Parliament, have regularly recognised what the Commonwealth has done for this country, not only in time of peace but in time of war. I need only remind the House of the Second World War. There are men in this House who may have fought in Burma, where they saw a Commonwealth Army embracing all races, religions, colour, fighting a common enemy. Others of us fought in the desert, and again there was a Commonwealth Empire Army combining all races, creeds and colours. In recent years there was the war in Korea, in which again Commonwealth forces played their part. And in the Malayan campaign forces from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and Nepal came to the aid of the British and the Malayan soldiers and policemen in fighting the common Communist enemy. More recently there was the fighting in Kenya.

Many of these Commonwealth regiments, in which we take a great pride, have earned long lists of Victoria Crosses and other decorations. Having myself been in the desert I know that apart from their common service, these men, when they died, were buried in a common grave; and to-day they remain in Commonwealth cemeteries in Egypt and throughout Burma. To-day, there are 33,000 men from our Colonies who are serving the Queen in various areas of the Commonwealth and in Europe—33,000 men who have voluntarily taken up service under the Crown. Apart from those men, there are, of course, the Dominion soldiers who in their Dominion armies still owe allegiance to Her Majesty. I would also remind the House that this country is recruiting men from our Colonies to come over to Europe in order to make up the shortages in manpower which we are unable ourselves to meet. I have said this, for I wish to place the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of every person in this House who fails to support this Amendment, because these people have voluntarily given service to the Crown and the Commonwealth.

I personally do not like this Bill. However, I would admit that there is some case for some control on immigration into this country, although I still do not like the way that Her Majesty's Government have gone about it. But it is their decision, which this House has approved, that this Bill should go through ands that this is the means by which control shall be established. The Government have said that there shall be some exceptions. In their Instructions to the immigration officers the Government have laid down the people who, if they satisfy the immigration authorities, shall be permitted to come in. We are glad to see that, but we must all recognise that these are concessions and not rights. The Irish, however, are to be treated differently. For administrative reasons, irrespective of whether or not they are loyal to this country, they are to be freely admitted. So we have two sets of exceptions: there are the exceptions who, for administrative reasons, are to be freely admitted, and we have the other exceptions whom the Government have recognised. But they cannot argue that these are not concessions.

I come back to what I said earlier. We have had two World Wars and men and women of our Commonwealth and our Colonies have voluntarily given service to the Crown. I feel—and I hope that every Member of this House will equally feel—that these persons, who have voluntarily given service to the Crown, should be exempt by right and not by concession from the provisions of this Bill. As I said at the beginning, I place upon every person in this House the responsibility for saying—and for saying it not merely out of gratitude—to the men and women of our Commonwealth who serve the Crown and who have served the Crown, "In time of war, and equally in time of peace, you are brothers and are free to enter our country."

Amendment moved— After Clause 17 insert the said new clause.—(Lord Shepherd.)


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, has put on our shoulders what I think is a rather dangerous pledge. Let us remember that it is a long time since the war, and if every person in the Commonwealth who has at any time served in any of the military or police forces of the Crown has a complete right to enter into this land of ours, that surely cannot be right. I agree that those who served this country in action might be looked on in a very especial way, but just because they happen to have joined up a few moments, perhaps, before they applied to come to this country it cannot be right that they should all enter freely. I cannot see that the Amendment, as it is put down to-day, can possibly be accepted.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, omitted to mention some very important words in his own Amendment. He said that these men should be able to enter as of night, but they certainly do not have that under his Amendment, because he has inserted the words—on which he has given no comment to the House nor has he explained them in any way: (unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary)". I do not know what he thought those words would convey, nor do I know who is to judge whether or not the reasons are compelling. But the one thing which the Amendment does not give to the men for whom he spoke is an unqualified right to enter this country.


My Lords, everyone feels the sincerity and emotional content that has dictated the putting down of this Amendment, but I really want to make two points which have been made already by my noble friends: that the Amendment is drafted in a form which makes it quite inequable, as my noble friend Lord Conesford said; and, secondly, as my noble friend Lord Grenfell said, it is really far too wide—infinitely wider than the speech of the noble Lord who moved the Amendment. When I am answering for Her Majesty's Government, I try not to rest my case on drafting points. I mention them now, because I think they will convince your Lordships of the infinite difficulty of dealing with this point by statutory provision.

As my noble and learned friend Lord Conesford has pointed out, the reference to "compelling reasons to the contrary" gives no indication of who is to be the judge of those reasons, or even if they are to be reasons related to an individual or to a class of persons. On a minor matter, the question of the certificate in the possession of the applicant raises points of great difficulty, which anyone who has had anything to do with security over the last twenty years will realise without my putting them into words. But, as I have said. I do not want to base the argument on drafting, except to illustrate the difficulty.

As regards the policy, the Amendment really goes much too wide. It gives total exemption from the Act, including the deportation provisions, and although, as I indicated, the Government agree that ex-Service men merit special treatment, they do not think that they should have an absolute right of admission whatever their background or record. Even more important, as my noble friend Lord Grenfell pointed out, the Amendment refers to any service at any time. The Government, as I said, recognise that war-time service in the Forces merits special treatment. They do not accept, however, that anyone who, say, served in the Canadian Police in 1930, the Fijian Police in Fiji in 1950, or the New Zealand or Nigerian Army in 1960 should, by reason of that fact, have a right of entry to the United Kingdom. As we have said, we reluctantly feel it is necessary to control immigration, and we believe that any special treatment must bear some relation either to service to the Allied cause in war or to service to the United Kingdom.

Now may I remind your Lordships of what we have done? The debate on the Committee stage was concentrated on paragraph 38 of the White Paper; but the most important privilege of ex-Servicemen is that the Ministry of Labour will give them priority in the issue of Category "C" vouchers. Most immigrants come here for employment, and the Minister of Labour's announcement means that they will automatically have top priority. In addition, as I pointed out on the last occasion—and this covers people not coming in for employment—under paragraph 38 an immigration officer, in dealing with a case falling within his discretion, should resolve any doubt, unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary (that is clear in this case, because they are in the immigration officer's mind), in favour of an applicant who can satisfy him that he served in the Armed Forces of the Crown in war. That meets the point of my noble friend, Lord Grenfell. Thirdly, there is the instruction which my noble friend Lord Bathurst announced: that medical inspectors should not refuse such people admission on medical grounds arising from a war injury.

Now in order to help on this matter I want to go rather further. First of all, your Lordships will observe that, so far as concerns the people Lord Shepherd described as coming here and joining our Army as volunteers, so far as they come here on duty they are already exempt from control under Clause 17, subsection (2), and they are regarded as resident here, even if temporarily serving overseas; therefore their wives and families have an assurance of admission under paragraph 24 of the White Paper. But the Government have now decided to go further and to extend the concessions relating to service in war to those who, since the end of the Second World War, have served the Crown as members of the home forces.

If the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, would care to follow me on this point—because, irrespective of our differences, I think he will find it is of importance—and if he will look at Clause 17, subsection (5), he will find that it says: In this section ' the home forces ' means any of Her Majesty's forces, not being a Commonwealth force or a force raised under the law of any colony, protectorate or protected state; … That means, roughly speaking, those Forces which are under United Kingdom pay and command. This amendment will be made in the Instructions in the White Paper, and a corresponding change will be made by the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Health in operating the arrangements I have just described. In other words, the three points I have just mentioned will apply to everyone (and, as respects the one in which they are mentioned, to the wives and families) in those Forces which have been under United Kingdom pay and command.

I am sure that that is the right way to deal with that point—namely, by way of instructions—and that we should not try (and that is why I emphasised the difficulties, and I am sure that is why my noble and learned friend Lord Conesford emphasised the difficulties) to put it in statutory form. The amended arrangements to be made by the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Health constitute, together with the revised instructions for immigration officers, a sensible and workable means of meeting the anxieties which have been expressed.

There is one other point which, although it has not been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, I desire to mention, because I want to be absolutely frank with him on this matter. On the last occasion he mentioned emergencies such as Malaya and Kenya and Cyprus. Again, the difficulty of dealing with that in statutory form is, first of all, that there have been 32 emer- gencies in various parts of the colonial territories since 1945, under both Administrations. It is very difficult to deal with it in that way. Secondly, though I do not want to go into this matter, as the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, will appreciate at once, local difficulties may be created for people by picking out certain things. I am sure he knows what is in my mind, and I leave it there.

Thirdly, there is the point that there are certain administrative difficulties. I want to assure the noble Lord that, whether we are right or wrong, there is no lack of sympathy; I think he saw my reaction at the time. Therefore, what we suggest is as follows. A number will be brought in under the home forces provision, because they will have been serving under United Kingdom pay and command. For those who are not, if they wish to claim special treatment they can apply for an entry certificate to the British authorities in their own country, and I know that all individual applications will be carefully and sympathetically considered. I felt it was only right that I should mention that point because otherwise I might, by my silence, have misled the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, and I think he knows that that is the last thing I should voluntarily do.

I think my noble friend Lord Grenfell conveyed the feelings of all of us in the sympathy which he expressed. My Lords, it is one thing to express sympathy: it is another thing to translate that into an Act of Parliament; and I am sure the administrative measures which I have suggested are the best way of dealing with it. Therefore, I ask your Lordships not to accept the Amendment.

3.59 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that the statement that the noble and learned Viscount has just made about the intention to introduce this Amendment will be welcomed by all sides of the House, but it makes it somewhat difficult to understand why the Government cannot Ito a little further. As I understand it, it is now the intention that all those who, since 1945, have served in the home forces as in the manner defined—that is, those who have been under United Kingdom pay and command—whether they have been serving in an actual engagement or not, will not now be affected by the Bill.


No, that is not it. The three administrative benefits that I mentioned will apply to anyone serving with the home forces. It is not a question of their being excluded from the Bill: it is a question of their having these three benefits, which I think I outlined to the House both at the Committee stage and to-day.


My Lords, I am sorry if I misunderstood the Lord Chancellor, but I did understand that it was the intention to introduce an Amendment to Clause 17 which would have had the effect I mentioned. In any case, if these benefits are to be extended in this way to the classes of Servicemen and ex-Servicemen mentioned, then obviously that disposes, to a large extent, of the difficulties of certification to which the noble and learned Viscount referred. Because, obviously, at some stage, if these men are to benefit by the Amendment which the Government now propose to introduce they will have to produce a certificate; so the argument that that is an administrative difficulty vanishes.

I do not think there is any doubt that the criticism of this particular Amendment, with its inclusion of the words unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary ", is a valid one, and would invalidate the Amendment in the sense of which we are now thinking. There is, of course, the fact, as the Lord Chancellor pointed out, that the words were taken from the Instructions to the immigration officer; but, of course, one cannot, at least in the form in which they are put here, include them in the Bill. But it certainly does not, as was suggested, invalidate the underlying principle which we desire to see incorporated in the Bill.

The noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, who, I understand from the Lord Chancellor supported the principle of the Amendment, in my view did nothing of the kind, because he sought to make a very great distinction between those who had served in some active engagement and those who had merely worn a uniform. That difference is, in many cases, quite fortuitous. Whether or not he actually bore arms in an engagement does not depend on the man's willingness to serve his country. He may have been most anxious to serve in that way, but fortune, or misfortune, decided otherwise. It might well be that, under the terms now proposed, we could allow in a great blaggard and exclude one of the finest chaps who ever walked the earth, simply because one had fought in an engagement, and the other, through no fault of his own, had not.

It is idle to pretend that there would be any administrative difficulty in admitting one which would not also affect the other, because the procedure would be the same. The noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, suggested that if the principle of the Amendment which my noble friend proposes, should be accepted, it would be possible for somebody who had joined up only a few days before to come into this country in that way. I should have thought that he could have come in only as a deserter, if he had joined up a few days before. He could hardly, under any conceivable engagement of which I am aware, join up, and then come to this country and enjoy the benefit of the extension that we propose.


My Lords, surely he could have been discharged for ill-health, or purchased out.


I should have thought that that would have been a direct reflection on the doctor who had admitted him only a few days before. It is rather like a revival of the old story, that if the doctor touched an applicant and he was warm, then he was in. I do not think the noble Lord could put forward seriously that he thinks that anyone could join the forces of the Crown in that way, and could a few days later be admitted to this country in civilian clothes.


My Lords, may I tell the noble Lord that it has happened hundreds and hundreds of times?


My Lords, the provisions which this Bill seeks to implement have not yet got on the Statute Book and come into force, so it is difficult to see how the noble Lord can say that. It may well have happened hundreds of times that a sick man was accepted into the Forces; I am not in a position to deny that. But, even accepting that, I think it is the height of absurdity seriously to put forward the view that such men could, a few days later, take their uniforms off and be in civilian clothes, and then emigrate to this country under the terms that we have proposed. I seriously suggest to the noble and learned Viscount that, although he is obviously right about the precise terms of this Amendment, he is not right about the principle which my noble friend put forward, which was that men who have been accepted into the police and Armed Forces of the Crown from the Commonwealth, having been granted the privilege of wearing The Queen's uniform, ought to be admitted as ordinary citizens into this country without restriction. That is the principle which we desire to see implemented.

The noble and learned Viscount has to a large extent met the point of the discussion which we had at a previous stage of the Bill, when we were discussing whether it should be a question of a man's having fought in an action, or a man's having merely worn a uniform That point has almost been met with regard to a particular class of person; that when they are admitted they can be admitted only on certificate. What we are now arguing is that that should be broadened so as to admit those who have served in the armed forces and the police forces, and that the restrictions of this Bill, which I think, after these men have worn our uniform, are an insult to them, should not be applied to them. I hope that between now and the final stage of the Bill the noble and learned Viscount will look at this question again, and by that time I hope that we shall be able to put forward an Amendment which will embody what we have in mind and which, and at the same time, will prove otherwise unexceptionable.

On Question, Amendment negatived.


My Lords, I can tell your Lordships that this is a mere drafting Amendment, and I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 13, line 39, after ("Kingdom ") insert (", and ").—(The Lord Chancellor.)