§ Debate on Second Reading resumed.
§ 3.51 p.m.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTER-BURY
My Lords, I am sure it is unusual in your Lordships' House for a Bill introduced with such lucidity and skill as this Bill has been introduced to-day, also to be introduced with so little enthusiasm. The noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor used the word "repugnance". If I may add a word of my own, let it be the word 25 "lamentable". It is, indeed, lamentable that this reversal of a great tradition of our country should have happened—whether we should say, "has happened" or, "has had to happen". There is no doubt that the introduction of the Bill caused something of a shock of feeling overseas. At the time the Bill was introduced I myself was in India, and I saw something of the pain caused by the news of the introduction of the Bill, especially as the news about the Bill was not always accompanied by explanation or complete information. The news, put very crudely, has travelled about in the form, "Great Britain will admit Irish people without restriction but will restrict immigrants from the West Indies."
In justice to Her Majesty's Government, I think it must be said that it is utterly unfair to ascribe to their motive any intention whatever of colour discrimination, and it is also fair to acknowledge the great desire on the part of Her Majesty's Government to avoid the growth of certain conditions in some of our towns, conditions as unacceptable to immigrants as to anyone else. None the less, the news of this Bill has been a great shock and in future years, very likely, history will note it as one of the shocks in the story of our country and Commonwealth. But I believe, my Lords, that if this shock has something of a moral, that moral is not that we should attack Her Majesty's Government; still less that we should allow the colour question to be a matter of Party politics—that would indeed be lamentable; but that, as a country, we should set about attacking with far greater vigour those conditions which have created any case whatever for this proposal of restriction. I think it is the ambition of all of us that our country should be one where the restrictions imposed by this Bill could not be conceivably necessary.
It is easy to say that because the ideal is not attained—and, indeed, is perhaps not attainable for quite a time—restrictions are necessary, and to leave it at that, but I think it is far more important to see what urgent effort can be made within our country to narrow the gap between the ideal and the actual. In that effort legislation has indeed its part, but so also have innumerable forms of action by the citizens of this country 26 in many places. In the first place, we are not, as a country, free from colour discrimination in feeling and behaviour. There has been in some of our towns prejudice in housing and lodging, which has resulted in excessive charges and in the hanging together of coloured people and overcrowding. Thus a vicious circle is created, and thereby are created some of those conditions which have made a case for the introduction of this Bill. Second, if as a country we had done more to overcome our own problems of housing—and we might indeed have done more—the colour problem would not have been so conspicuous, as, for instance, it is now in South London. Had the colour problem in housing not bulked so large, I do not believe that the demand for this Bill would have seemed nearly so insistent.
I therefore hope, my Lords, that the promotion of this Bill, by the very shock it gives, will lead to stirrings of action and conscience in many places, in tackling those long-term problems in our country which are the background of this whole matter. There are, for instance, some Christian congregations which set themselves vigorously to befriend and integrate coloured immigrants, but there ought to be far more of those—for, indeed, we have been woefully behind. I am thinking of the long-term attack on the background of circumstances which has created the arguments for this Bill. Given this Bill, I think that we should all welcome the instructions to immigration officers issued in the White Paper—instructions which could not show more care, consideration or liberality. For my part, I welcome also the inclusion in the Bill of the power to deport immigrants who behave as criminals. Besides people who slip into crime, there are from time to time people who enter the country for the express purpose of carrying out crime; and, indeed, it is time that their deporting was made easy. So, my Lords, I do most earnestly hope that the restrictions introduced by this lamentable Bill, this Bill introduced with repugnance, this Bill which is indeed deplorable, will be short-lived, and that the episode will arouse in the conscience of our country a new determination to attack again the conditions which have led to this reversal of one of our country's great traditions.
§ 3.59 p.m.
My Lords, this Bill seems to me to be a piece of plain common sense. If I may venture to say so, with all due deference to the most reverend Primate, this is not a lamentable Bill. This is an admirable Bill to meet a lamentable situation, a situation which has not yet become lamentable but which could become lamentable in the future. We know that immigration from the Commonwealth into this country in recent years has been large: we do not know that it may not become larger. We do know that this island will not become larger. That is the basic fact which should be taken into consideration in looking at this Bill. Of course, it is not a Bill into which the Government put their hearts, but it is a Bill into which they have put their heads.
I should like, if I may, to quote an extract from the preliminary Report of the Census, 1961:The density of population in England and Wales is 790 persons per square mile of land. There is only one other major country in Europe, the Netherlands, which is more crowded, with 893 persons per square mile. The figure for Belgium is 769. Japan has 642 per square mile.Your Lordships will remember those figures: Japan, 642; Belgium, 769; England and Wales, 790. The extract continues:These global figures conceal wide variations within the countries between urban and rural areas, and between inhabited areas and vast stretches of uninhabitable mountains or desert, which in some countries artificially reduce the density index. But they serve to emphasise what is virtually obvious to those who travel in England and Wales—that we live close together.As the White Paper shows, the Government have been generous in accepting or devising safeguards for this Bill. It is true, I think, that there are some outside your Lordships' House who have supported this Bill for wrong reasons. But, my Lords, if we eschewed every good cause which had been supported for wrong reasons, where would be any of our most cherished institutions? All of us will be sorry if this Bill may have, as one fears, painful effects on people in the West Indian Islands. But surely it should not be beyond the wit of this country to devise some better way of helping them than to continue to give 28 them unlimited, unregulated entry into a country that is already dangerously overcrowded. We are told by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, that this Bill is widely regarded as discriminatory legislation. If that be so, then one asks why? I can see no reason in the Bill, or in the speeches that members of the Government have made in support of the Bill, to give the slightest justification for that charge. To me, this is a matter not of colour but of room, and I deplore the fact that the colour question has been brought into discussions of this matter. It has not been brought in by Her Majesty's Government.
There is a certain sentimentality in the attitude which some people take toward people of other races. I think it is sometimes forgotten that other races besides ourselves are well able to face facts, and that it is no part of our duty, in helping people of other races, to shirk any of the facts, however unpleasant they may be. It has been my experience, my Lords, in dealing with people of other races—and I think it will have been the experience of others, too—that disappointment does not cause racial feeling. Look, for example, at our universities and colleges in this country. Every year they reject people from overseas who wish to enter them. Every year they admit people but they exclude those for whom they have no room. Does that cause resentment? Not at all. It is known that students of every race are accepted, admitted and welcomed in our universities, and the fact that some of them have to be excluded causes terrible disappointment, but no resentment.
And there need be no resentment over this Bill provided it is understood that the intention behind the Bill is simply to control a flow which may become dangerous, and if future Governments administer the Bill in the spirit of the White Paper. It is indeed the hope of all Members of your Lordships' House, and it is the hope of sensible people throughout Britain, that the spirit of the family shall more and more permeate the relationships between races. My Lords, that spirit depends upon the head as well as upon the heart. Let us remember that other races have heads as well as hearts, that they will see facts which are only too plain, and that they will accept wise provisions which are made to meet those 29 facts in their interests, as well as in the interests of the people in this country. And that, to my mind, is what this Bill does.
§ 4.8 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, it is not often that I disagree with the noble Lord opposite, Lord Hemingford, on matters affecting the Commonwealth, and if I do, I wonder immediately whether I am wrong. But having listened very carefully to what the noble Lord said, I venture to think that he underestimated the repercussions of this Bill on our fellow citizens in the overseas countries of the Commonwealth, and my own opinion is unshaken. I take a very different view from the noble Lord's about this Bill. I have been a Member of your Lordships' House now for exactly 30 years—I was just trying to calculate the immense gulf of time since I first came here—and this is the first occasion during the whole of that period of time when any Government have introduced a Bill which, in my view, is so damaging to the Commonwealth as the Bill before us this afternoon. It is the first time in my recollection that the colour bar has been enacted by legislation, shortly to be passed through the Parliament of the United Kingdom. That is the reason why I and my noble friends on this side of the House oppose the Bill.
My Lords, our view is not a Party view; it is a view that is very widely shared. It is not even an Opposition view; it is shared by many others besides members of the Liberal and Labour Parties. For example, I should like, if I may, to quote one passage from a Comment which appeared in a leader in The Times newspaper:The damage, emotional, economic, and political, which it "—that is, the Bill—is likely to do to the already fragile structure of the Commonwealth can hardly be exaggerated ".Similar views have been expressed by many Commonwealth statesmen, particularly, of course, the leaders of the countries and territories in the West Indies, which, as my noble friend Lord Silkin pointed out, will be the part of the Commonwealth that will be hardest hit by the provisions of this Bill.
I am sure that the House will want to consider very carefully the nature and 30 extent of the damage which this Bill will do to our Commonwealth relations, before weighing the loss to the Commonwealth—which I think mast be admitted, whether we are for or against the Bill—against the gain which the Government claim this Bill will bring to our own country. Let me deal first of all with the loss to the Commonwealth. Even supporters of the Bill—the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor used the word "repugnance" and the most reverend Primate used a similar word in speaking of the Bill—are introducing it reluctantly and regretfully because they know that it is not altogether a good thing for the Commonwealth, however desirable it may be for other reasons.
First, there is the loss of the open door. Of course, we all know that the doors are not wide open in other parts of the Commonwealth, but surely we, as the Mother Country and the leader of the greatest association of nations in the world at the present time, should do our utmost to set an example and hold this association together. There cannot be the slightest doubt that the abandonment of the principle of the open door, apart altogether from its practical consequences, will weaken the ties that hold the Commonwealth together.
Let me say at once—I do not think it was said by my noble friend Lord Silkin, although I am sure he would agree; I certainly agree with all he said—that we have no objection to the deportation, which is provided for in Part II of the Bill, of people who have committed serious offences against the law and who are condemned to prison by a court. There is no reason why they should not be treated, if they have disregarded British law, in the way aliens are treated. But that could have been dealt with in a special Bill, quite independently of what is called controlled immigration, which is what we object to and which in fact is the abandonment of the principle of the open door.
Another difficulty which will arise in the application of this control of immigrants is that, if we go into the European Common Market, which is the policy of the Government, the contrast between the treatment of Commonwealth citizens and the treatment of foreigners will be painfully obvious, because, as your 31 Lordships are aware, one of the commitments of the countries who go in is the free movement of labour over a period of time. So, in the course of time, Italians and Germans will be free to come here whenever they want, while our fellow citizens from overseas will be restricted.
The second loss to the Commonwealth which I would point out to your Lordships is that this Bill, when it is passed into law, will add considerably to the unemployment and poverty that already exists in the West Indies—and, of course, in other parts of the Commonwealth, but primarily in the West Indies—because it is people from the West Indies who will be more closely affected than any others. Anyone who has been to the West Indies knows the conditions of chronic unemployment and under-employment prevailing in the Island territories. In Trinidad, 20 per cent. of the adult male population is unemployed, and Trinidad is one of the richest territories in the West Indies. I suppose that a figure of 15 to 20 per cent. would be a fair average figure for the other islands in the West Indies. In Jamaica alone, there are 30,000 unemployed, and Jamaica goes with Trinidad as a comparatively prosperous area, as conditions go in that part of the Commonwealth. After all, we are responsible, both technically and morally, for the people who live in our Colonies; but instead of helping them to earn a living in the Mother Country, as we should do, we are forcing them by this Bill to join the ranks of the unemployed in their island homes.
The third loss to the Commonwealth is that—and I believe that it is the strongest of all arguments that have been used against the Bill—for the first time in our history, we are legislating for what in practice will be a colour bar. Of course, I agree with the most reverend Primate that it is not the intention of the Government to impose a colour bar. Nobody believes that the members of the Government are animated by colour prejudice. This is obviously not the case. That is why I say that the practical effect, the administrative effect, of this Bill will be to impose a colour bar. This is particularly clear now that the citizens of the Irish Republic have been exempted.
32 May I make one passing comment on that matter? It seems to me to show extraordinary incompetence (if I may use such a strong word) on the part of the Government to have introduced a Bill into Parliament without having considered carefully its harmful effects. When they were carefully considered, the Government decided that the citizens of the Irish Republic should be excluded. I am not going into the administrative arguments; I must confess that I think they are very strong. My only complaint is that the Government did not realise this from the start but introduced a half-baked Bill into Parliament. I say this in passing. The effect of this exemption, inevitable as it may have been, is that the people who will be kept out will be coloured citizens of the Commonwealth. Otherwise, there would be a balance between coloured and white citizens of the Commonwealth.
Of course, in principle and in theory, the Bill applies equally to all Commonwealth citizens. But can anyone doubt that the people who will be excluded will not be Canadians or Australians or New Zealanders, but Asians and West Indians? We all, on both sides of the House, are dead against apartheid. We all believe in racial partnership. What will be said outside this country when this Bill has been passed into law? What I fear will be said is that it is a typical example of British hypocrisy.
I think most of your Lordships will agree that probably the most important feature of the Commonwealth to-day is its multi-racial character. The Commonwealth does more than any other international organisation to harmonise race relationships, and this factor is probably even more important to the Commonwealth itself than it is to the outside countries, the foreign countries, that are related to the Commonwealth. The new Commonwealth countries in Asia and Africa will stay as members of the Commonwealth only so long as race discrimination is out, and so long as there is at any rate a minimum of legislation which could be described as discriminatory. Surely the case of the Union of South Africa is a good example of the strain which discrimination places on Commonwealth relationships.
Moreover, the future of the multiracial societies in East and Central 33 Africa, with which we are so deeply concerned at the present moment, will largely depend on the tolerance and goodwill of the African majority. I do not believe that the Government could have chosen a worse moment to introduce a Bill which in practice, in fact, in application, will constitute a colour bar in this country. So much for the loss to the Commonwealth.
What is the gain to this country?—because that surely is the case which the Government are making. The Government maintain that the flow of immigrants is too large and will create an employment and social problem, of which signs and symptoms can already be seen. I could understand that line of argument if we were in a condition of recession or approaching a recession, but I think it is a fact that we are in a condition of slow expansion. The pay pause is about to end. The vast majority of these immigrants are absorbed into employment and add to our national output and to the additional production that we need. They are highly useful citizens and are contributing to our welfare as well as to their own. So I agree with my noble friend Lord Silkin (I am not going into the figures, because my noble friend has done so) that the employment situation cannot justify, in spite of the increase in immigration, a control of this kind; and if employment started to fall off, that would automatically check the flow of immigrants into this country, because that is exactly what has happened in the past.
The social problem is, I think, a real one and one which everybody has to consider carefully. It involves personal relationships in areas where coloured immigrants settle in large numbers; and, above all, it involves unsatisfactory housing conditions. We are all aware of these social problems. But both of these difficulties of personal relationships and of housing conditions could surely be tackled in other ways than by this very undesirable restriction of immigrants. I am not going into the other ways now, because I do not want to take up your Lordships' time, but I know there are many suggestions that could be made to help to meet this problem. But it is a genuine problem, and I think we certainly have to set off this social problem in the United Kingdom against 34 the Commonwealth problem which the Bill creates outside the United Kingdom.
What I venture to suggest your Lordships will wish to decide during the course of the debate this afternoon, whether there is a Division on the Bill or not, is whether the disadvantages to this country of continuing to allow unrestricted entry outweigh the disadvantages to the Commonwealth of imposing the restrictions proposed in the Bill. Our answer to this question I have already given: we have no hesitation in saying that we regard the disadvantages to the Commonwealth as infinitely greater than any advantages that may accrue to this country.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, before the noble Earl sits down, for the sake of the record could I ask him to consider correcting one small statement in his speech? He made the categorical statement that it was Her Majesty's Government's policy to go into the Common Market. To be quite accurate, I think the Government's policy is to apply for membership and to negotiate as to whether satisfactory terms can be obtained for entry—and I may say at once that there are many differing views as to that matter.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I am delighted to correct what I said and to say that it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to apply for conditional entry into the Common Market.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF IDDESLEIGH
My Lords, I suppose most of your Lordships will accept this Bill with greater or lesser degrees of reluctance. For my part, I accept it with great reluctance. Any restrictions on immigration are ungracious. If people wish to come and pay us the compliment of living in our Island, it is unpleasant to have to say "No" to them; and it is particularly unpleasant to have to restrict our ideal of the open door to all members of the Commonwealth. At least we can say that we have kept our ideal of the open door for 40 years longer than the United States kept their ideal. The United States, though far less crowded than we 35 are and with far greater productive resources, was forced to legislate against unlimited immigration as long ago as 1921.
I was in that great country as an immigrant doing a job of work when in 1924 the Act of Congress of 1921 took a permanent form, and I remember that a debate which I heard on the question was very similar to that in which we are engaged to-day. Unrestricted immigration, an open door to all the world, was as much a part of the American national ideal as free Commonwealth immigration is a part of ours. On the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbour are written these words:Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.I lift my lamp beside the golden door!I remember during those years a bitter little cartoon showing the Statue of Liberty on her pedestal holding a placard bearing the words:Keep out. This means you.At any rate, the Jamaicans know very well how to draw a contrast between our attitude and that of the United States. Many of them used to emigrate to New York, and it was delightful to discover that they had their own cricket club in New York. They know, and still realise, that, despite this Bill, it will be much easier for them to land at Southampton than to pass Ellis Island.
Granted that there must be restrictions, the restrictions in this Bill seem to be of the mildest possible description. We have become, however, a country with an immigration problem, complicated to some extent by a colour problem. It is a small but probably an increasing problem which we have on our hands; and I do not think we are rendering any service to our immigrant communities by playing down the importance of the problem. There are grave and difficult questions, as the most reverend Primate has said, connected with the settlement of people of such widely different traditions and temperament in our own country. I refer particularly in this matter of different traditions to the Pakistanis; but there are also important temperamental differences to be found in the West Indian communities.
36 I heard with great pleasure that the Home Secretary had decided to appoint an advisory council on immigrant problems which could lend thought to this problem, which so far had been somewhat absent. But I think we shall discover that we want a good deal more than a mere advisory council. We shall presumably need liaison officers with the principal immigrant communities, and possibly some special arrangements for liaison between the Home Office and the places in which the immigrants most congregate. I trust that we shall not be backward in setting up the necessary machinery.
I would venture to draw attention to three particular aspects of the problem of a country with a large immigration. The first of these is the problem of the very young immigrant who comes over to our country apart from his family. This, of course, brings me to the Irish question. I would say I rather regret that, for the sake of consistency and in order to remove any possible apprehensions, it had not been possible to bring the Irish within the sphere of this Bill. I find it a little difficult to understand the fine administrative reasons which make that impossible. We have a very short land frontier. Not many States in the world have the fortune to be islands, and almost every other State in the world manages to control a land frontier without undue difficulty. It seems strange that those difficulties are so overwhelming for us. It is not, of course, that I want to restrict the entry into this country of decent, responsible Irish workers. Indeed, we need them and we cannot possibly do without them. Tomorrow we are to discuss the Pipe-lines Bill. If those pipe-lines are to be quickly and efficiently laid we must have Irish labour to lay them. Again, we have the admirable Irish nurses, without whose presence and help we could not carry on our hospitals.
On the other hand, I am increasingly perturbed by the problem represented by young Irish boys and girls, very often of only sixteen years of age, who come to our shores away from their families, and who find it difficult to accept or to understand our rather free and easy way of life—a way of life which differs increasingly from the rather austere way of life which is known in Ireland. These 37 boys come to take the humbler industrial jobs. They are not likely to get the good apprenticeships. You will find the very young girls as chambermaids in small hotels, and as general servants in lodging houses. I think they have their problems, and perhaps we should be thinking in terms of those problems. In some cases I think there is a problem of over-work. The Catering Wages Act is not easily enforced. There is the problem of loneliness, the mother of so much harm, and, as I have said, the problem they have of adapting themselves to a very different way of life. We cannot pick up a magazine or a newspaper without reading something about what is called the teenage problem. Indeed, I think we talk rather too much about it, but all this literary effort means that a certain number of people are thinking about it. I hope that, under pressure from the Immigration Council, a certain number of people will start thinking about the teenage problem of the immigrant boy and girl and give some consideration to that question.
The second part of the immigration problem to which I would refer very briefly is its deportation aspect. It seems to me that we have not quite made up our minds whether deportation belongs to penology or to general sociology. Are we inflicting deportation as a punishment, or as a severe social remedy? I would point out that when a young immigrant gets into a scrape it may be a first brush with the law, it may be a moral scrape, and he or she is advised by friends and counsellors to break with his or her present associates and to make a new start. They are advised that the best way of making a new start is to go home as a prodigal son or daughter, and to try again in that country. The law seems to take another attitude, and would say to such a person, "You are not yet had enough to be sent home. You must do something a good deal worse. You have in fact to have a prison sentence before you can be sent home." That seems to me to be a matter worthy of careful consideration. It does not appear to be wholly logical or the best method in the interests of the immigrant young person. I am considering putting down an Amendment on Committee stage which would allow the Home Secretary, 38 in his wide discretion, to apply the remedy of deportation in certain other circumstances. I wish to make it apply not only to the third offence, but to the first two offences under the Street Offences Act. I shall lay my reasons before your Lordships at the appropriate time.
The third part of the immigration problem on which I would venture to comment is the need for specialised social services. It occurs in relation to the problem of the Jamaican concerning housing. If, as is well known, he tends to overcrowd his house, then it is the responsibility of the public health authorities to prevent that overcrowding. But it is quite clear that, without special measures of quite a peculiar character, we cannot really expect the ordinary public health authorities to cope with the West Indian problem in this respect. That illustrates what I mean by the need for special social services for the immigrant communities.
I would point out that previous waves of immigration into this country have in fact had specialised social services. In the early and middle years of the last century there was, of course, a great wave of immigration from Ireland into this country. There sprang up to meet the needs of the Irish immigrants a complete system of what are now called social services, but what were then called charities, which protected him and helped him literally from the cradle to the grave. The Irish immigrant had his own orphanages, his own schools, his own clubs, his own system of outdoor relief, his own visitors, his own hospitals, his own old-age homes, his own homes for the dying, and his own cemeteries. One feels that, in so far as the Irish immigration into this country was successful and avoided possible friction, some of our social services were largely responsible. The same thing happened in the later years of the last century when there was a large Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe, and to help those immigrants there sprang up the vast, impressive edifice of Jewish charity: the Jewish Board of Guardians, Jewish hospitals and Jewish youth clubs.
My third example comes from after the war, when a considerable number of Poles applied for settlement in the 39 United Kingdom, and the Labour Government of the time—and they were not easy times to effect any large social purpose—showed most admirable energy in setting up their resettlement camps and in gradually and gently integrating those immigrant Poles into the structure of our national life. I feel that something of the kind could be done for the immigrant communities that we have today. The Polish resettlement camps perhaps give us something of an example. Would it not be possible to alleviate the effects of immigration on our housing conditions by setting up hostels and camps, at any rate for those workers who mean to make a short stay in this country? I am not proposing anything very elaborate. After all, a great many of Her Majesty's subjects know that life in a Nissen hut is not wholly intolerable, and I do not think that immigrants, either from the West Indies or from Pakistan, would find it too contrary to their ideas of housing. Something of that kind might be considered as an alleviation of the housing problem aspect.
But whatever we do, my Lords, we must have a great deal of thought about it; and my complaint about Her Majesty's Government is that, on the whole, there has been too little thought about the problems with which this immigration confronts the country. When I was a boy I had to write an essay on the theme "England acquired her Empire in a fit of absent-mindedness". It is sad indeed that what might be described as "absence of mind" should have marked the handling of our last Imperial problem.
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF HUNTINGDON
My Lords, I confess to being rather puzzled by this Bill, or rather, shall I say, puzzled at the reaction to it. So far as I can understand it—and I should like to emphasise here that I am speaking for myself and not committing the Front Bench of my Party in any way—on reading the Bill and looking at it carefully all it is doing is to ask for powers to control immigration. A lot of the speeches in another place seemed to assume that the Bill would automatically and completely shut-down all immigration into this country. So far as I 40 can see that is not the case. The Government have assured us—and I do not see why we should not accept the assurance of the Government in this matter—that they intend to use the Bill only in dire necessity and that they are going to use it in the most liberal manner possible.
I do not want to go on quoting figures, as they have been given very fully this afternoon, but there seems to be no doubt that the flood of immigrants into this country is rising and, what is much more important, that the numbers of immigrants over emigrants is also rising. That is really the vital statistic, and it is getting very sinister indeed; perhaps not "sinister" yet, but a symptom, and I might say a sinister symptom. Because, my Lords, we must remember—and this is, I think, what the Government have probably considered in their deliberations—that the world population is rising at an astronomical rate—and far more than food supplies will be able to cope with. It has been estimated, and this is purely an estimate, that the population of the West Indies will almost double itself in the next 23 years. The population of China and India, in fact, the population all over the world, is going up and up, and, so far as we can see, there is nothing that is going to help this position or provide food for the extra people. It is one of our worldwide problems.
This is the situation we must face. Are we, in this small Island—which, I confess, seems to me terribly overcrowded already—going to say that the Government are not to have any powers to control the flow of immigrants into this Island, whatever happens in the world outside? But that seems to me to be what the opponents of this Bill are saying. You have only to look at this country, to go about the roads or the towns, or to try to find a parking place; you have only to try to acquire some land or houses; and you will find the overcrowding everywhere. We are almost being pushed off our Island. And when we come to what is really the criterion, land, we find a desperate shortage. You have only to look at the price land is fetching—housing land, building land, agricultural land—to see this tremendous demand which cannot be satisfied. We 41 are getting more and more overcrowded. We cannot produce enough food to feed ourselves—we produce only about half—which puts us at a terrible disadvantage, not only with the danger of blockade in war time but, if world prices go up, of having to buy our food at colossal prices. The more we add to the population of this country by taking in immigrants and the children which they produce, the more those problems are going to bear on us, and the more difficulty we are going to have to make both ends meet.
I should be against this Bill if it were not for the fact that there is no reciprocity from the Commonwealth. There is none at all. If there were a free exchange of population between all the Commonwealth countries, then I should think it would be very wrong to bring in this Bill. But that is not the case. I saw an interesting letter in The Times recently from a man—a white, not a coloured man—a respectable business man who had to travel about the Commonwealth, partly on business and partly on pleasure. He said that it might be interesting to see what was stamped on his passport. When he went into Canada he had "Non-immigrant" stamped on it. In Uganda he had "Permitted to enter Uganda for one day"; in Kenya, "Valid for fourteen days"; in Trinidad and Tobago, "Permitted to enter the Colony for a period not exceeding fourteen days". In British Guiana, however, he was allowed to stay three months, and in Barbados for six weeks.
The paradox of the whole situation is that the large Dominions, who could absorb all the immigrants in the world, are the countries who keep them out. I believe that Canada, Australia and New Zealand could take all the surplus population of the West Indies and of most of the world if they would allow immigrants in. The whole of the East Coast of Australia, going right up to Brisbane and Queensland, which can really only be worked by people who are coloured and who can stand the intense heat and the conditions, could be developed enormously; but, as we know, the policy of Australia is "White Australia". And they keep out not only the Chinese, Japanese, Malays and Africans but also Southern Europeans. They are tremendously strict.
42 As I say, if there were not this strictness in the Commonwealth I should think we ought to play our rôle; but while everybody else keeps our own citizens out, I do not see why we should be the only country to accept, whether convenient or not to us, all the immigrants in the Commonwealth who wish to come here. Perhaps I am prejudiced. I should like to emphasise that I am not anti-colour in any way, and if, for one moment, I were convinced that the Government intended or would use this Bill as a colour measure, as a measure of discrimination against any sort of Asian or African or West Indian people, I should be the first and most vociferous to attack it and fight against it. I suggest that what we all ought to do is to watch how this Bill is going to be operated, and if we see it operated badly then let us fight it. But as it stands, giving only the power, I do not see why it should be such a cause of political controversy.
The big thing is the question of unemployment. We are at the moment apparently on the crest of the wave, and even then we have difficulties. I was reading in The Times of February 28 a letter from the Midland Regional Controller of the Ministry of Labour who says that 21.8 per cent. of unemployment is of coloured immigrants. He says that the unemployed have gone up from 3,432 in February last year to 8,347 in February this year, and that unemployment is becoming a serious problem. If that is happening while we are on the crest of the wave, what would happen if we met a depression? Can we really be so confident that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Her Majesty's Government are going to prevent a depression from coming about? I am afraid we cannot. And surely we all recognise the fact that if it were not for the astronomical rise in the arms industry in the United States they would probably be facing the biggest depression they have ever had. If that depression started there, there would be a very short time before it came here, and we might be faced with unemployment on a tremendous scale. The answer to the West Indian problem, I should have thought, is help to the West Indies; and there, although this is not the occasion to go into the details, I think Her Majesty's Government have been very remiss. A lot could be done to help 43 these unfortunate islands in what is a very difficult economic situation.
I have one last point, and that is about Southern Ireland. In another place there has been a lot of criticism; people have said, "It is all very well; you say it is not a colour Bill, but why is it you are letting the citizens of Southern Ireland come in uncontrolled?". I would agree with and stress the remark of the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor that Ireland is an anomaly. It will always be an anomaly. But particularly at this point I believe it would be disastrous to institute any control on the citizens of Southern Ireland. My reason is this. We have, as we all know too well, a very unhappy history of this country in relation to Southern Ireland. No one wants to go back to Cromwell, the colonisation of Ulster, the Blackand-Tans and the terrible things that happened in Ireland, but we must remember that in spite of that terrible persecution and behaviour on the English part, although politically the Southern Irish may be opposed to us, they have never been personally unfriendly. There is this extraordinary anomaly: during the war they were a neutral country, and yet they volunteered in thousands, and they were some of the best soldiers we had.
The point is that for years and years there has been tremendous feeling between North and South, between Ulster and Eire. At last it seems to be dying down and some sort of friendliness starting. The illegal Irish Republican Army have announced that they have stopped the attacks on the Border between North and South. Everybody is waiting for a reciprocal gesture from the North. Probably something will happen. When, and if, we go into the Common Market, that may well be the occasion when we can remove this terrible barrier between these two unhappy sections of one country which leaves in the North a very depressed, if not oppressed, minority which causes a lot of ill feeling. If there is no economic harrier, if trade can flow and people can flow, that may well be the start of a solution of this intractable Irish problem.
But if we choose this occasion for building up a huge blockade along the 44 frontier between North and South, with blockhouses and barbed wire, we shall make the situation a hundred times worse and put back a solution of the Irish problem for perhaps fifty years, which, in my opinion, would be absolutely disastrous. For that reason, I think we must accept the anomaly and remember how important Irish labour is to us, in the building industry, the nursing industry, the agricultural industry, and the Liverpool docks. We cannot do without them, just as they would starve if they could not come here. But they are really all part of this United Kingdom and some day they will take their place in it in the same category as England or Wales or Scotland. I beg the Government not to be moved by any criticism into doing a hostile act which may upset this delicate balance and may put back the solution of the Irish problem for even more than fifty years.
§ 4.57 p.m.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, I will attempt later to answer some of the eloquent arguments deployed by the noble Earl opposite, with whom, I must confess, I profoundly disagree. I have just returned from nearly two months in Africa, and I have not been able to follow the Committee stage of this Bill in another place as carefully as I would have wished. However, I have read the principal speeches in Committee, and on Report and Third Reading, and I have listened most carefully to the words of the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack this afternoon. I entirely appreciate what he said about this Bill being distasteful to him. It must be; for I know well his friendship and sympathy with so many other peoples of the Commonwealth of all races and colours. And I feel sure, also, that this Bill must be equally distasteful to other members of Her Majesty's Government. But, candidly, there is nothing which I have heard or read which will convince me that, for practical purposes, this Bill is anything other than what it was when introduced in another place, a measure essentially based on, and deriving from, discrimination on grounds of colour. It is for this reason that I could not bring myself to vote for this Bill; and certainly not in the form in which it is presented to us to-day.
45 It is true that it has been improved in certain respects, and I welcome the Home Secretary's proposed instructions to immigration officers. I also welcome the further explanations given by my noble and learned friend this afternoon. But the basic objection to the Bill remains, above all because the Southern Irish are to be excluded from its scope, at any rate, as I understand it, until the end of 1963. How can we talk, as the noble Earl did just now, about the need for Irish labour when at the same time we are proposing to put restrictions on Jamaican labour coming into this country? How can we do that without immediately raising the presumption that this is, in fact, a colour Bill?
To put the matter bluntly, I do not believe that the Government would be introducing this Bill at the present time if the West Indians, Pakistanis and Indians had white faces. The figures given by my noble and learned friend, of a net inward balance of migrants of 82,000 for 1960, or even the estimated figure for 1961 of 160,000—both of which, of course, as he said, include aliens—would not alone justify such a Bill, having regard to the labour shortages in this country at the present time. If there were, in fact, serious unemployment it would be a different matter.
I do not wish for a moment to appear to underestimate the difficulties of absorbing into this country a large number of coloured or white immigrants with lower standards of living and education than our own. It has obviously presented from the very beginning, and certainly since 1953, immense social problems, particularly in the field of housing. But even under the present Bill these problems will remain, both in regard to those immigrants already in this country and in regard to those who will come here in the future. I believe that the way to deal with this problem is through education of public opinion, among both our own people and the newcomers, and by special measures to meet the difficulties created by overcrowding in housing or in schools. Ever since my time at the Colonial Office I have always been convinced that there was justification, and indeed a real need, for some system of control of immigration from the Commonwealth on grounds of health, security, criminal record or undesira- 46 bility. This should apply to immigrants of all races, including the Southern Irish. I have also believed that there should be power to deport. For these reasons I welcome the provisions of Clause 2, subsections (4) and (5), and Clauses 6 to 11 of the Bill.
Nevertheless, my basic objection remains. In the world to-day, the greatest problem facing us, other than the great issues of peace and war, is that of the relations between people of different colour and race. We are at this moment engaged in the monumental task of trying, step by step, to build up a non-racial society in the British territories of East and Central Africa, where, as the Prime Minister has said, merit and merit alone should be the criterion. Others, both in independent and in dependent territories, are engaged in this same great work. It is a policy to which I believe the vast majority of the people in this country would subscribe. It is still, I understand, the policy of Her Majesty's Government—though perhaps not one which they have recently pursued with great courage, forcefulness or even consistency.
How are the African majorities in these countries upon whom we are urging the need for a non-racial approach going to react to a measure of this kind? How can we defend the right of Europeans to emigrate to Kenya or to the Rhodesias—Europeans whose continued immigration is so necessary for the future of those countries—if we set up barriers of this sont here? How can we expect even the West Indies, with their wonderful record of non-racialism, and upon whom the worst effects of this Bill will fall, to understand and accept our position? It seems to me that this measure can only bring encouragement to those African extremists who openly adopt a racialist approach and whose aim is to eliminate the influence, and in some cases the actual presence, of European immigrants. And what sort of example are we setting to the white racialists in South Africa who see Britain adopting measures which, whatever their objects and safeguards, will be widely regarded as discriminatory on grounds of colour?
Frankly, I find it most difficult to understand the Government's reasons for bringing this Bill forward at a time when feelings on these vital issues in Africa are at their most tense, and when, 47 in the light of our declared policies, such a step can be regarded in practice only as selfish, discriminatory and, with its ambiguous treatment of the Southern Irish, even hypocritical. The fact that this Bill coincides with the controversial negotiations over our admission to the Common Market and its repercussions on the Commonwealth, in itself makes matters all the worse. Whilst I personally, unlike my noble friend, fully support all that the Government are doing in that field, the fact that free movement of labour in Europe is one of the ultimate objects of the Treaty of Rome is bound to be linked up in people's minds with the present Bill. It must make it more difficult to convince public opinion in this country and in the Commonwealth of the value of closer association with Europe.
I should still, even at his stage, like to see the Government drop this Bill altogether. But if this is not possible, the only way in which I can see that they can make it acceptable would be to undertake to press on with the investigation into the control of Southern Irish immigrants, with a view to introducing this at the earliest possible moment. Of course there are difficulties, both administrative and emotional; and nobody wants to see this done. At the same time, there is nothing that has been said in this House this afternoon, or that I have read in another place, which makes me feel that these difficulties are insurmountable. In spite of the most eloquent arguments put forward by the noble Earl who has just spoken, in regard to the possible easing of relations between Northern and Southern Ireland, I believe that it is only by doing this that the Government can hope to meet the angry criticisms of the coloured peoples, and convince them of our sincerity, and enable us to play our full part in the great battle for a non-racial society which we must continue to wage throughout the world.
§ 5.6 p.m.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, like other noble Lords, I have never before been faced with a Bill far which there is so much to be said on both sides. One has heard such convincing arguments against the Bill; one has heard such powerful arguments in 48 favour of the Bill. It has not been an easy task for any noble Lord, certainly not for myself, to make up his mind on this Bill. Sometimes one felt swayed one side, and sometimes one felt swayed the other. But, on balance, for what my opinion is worth, I believe that I have come to the same conclusion as many noble Lords in this House—namely, that the Bill is, in three words, distasteful but necessary.
The main feature of this Bill is that which was dealt with by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, when he said that it departs from the valued principle of Commonwealth free entry into this country. I think he said that he objected in principle because it was neither desirable nor necessary to depart from this cherished tradition. Can we really stand by such a principle regardless of circumstances? One can visualise circumstances in which the most ardent supporter of that principle would feel that a position had arisen in which it was impossible to retain it. The noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack said that no less than one-quarter of the world's population, as citizens of the British Commonwealth, would, in theory, be entitled to come to this country, provided we maintained free entry. Suppose that, for some economic reason, hundreds of thousands of citizens from Pakistan, India or Malaya took it into their heads to migrate from their countries and to come to Great Britain. I do not believe that there is one adherent to that principle to-day who would not feel forced, in those circumstances, to change his mind. Yet that would in fact break the principle.
So the question seems to me to be simply this: has the time come when the Government should control immigration in relation to our industrial needs and our social facilities? In the light of the growth of our immigration—the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack gave us the figures, all of which I need not repeat; they were 40,000 in 1959, and probably 160,000 in 1961—Her Majesty's Government say that the time has came. I believe one cannot differ from that conclusion when one thinks to-day of our lack of balance of industrial needs and what I would term social amenities. Industrially, we require all the labour which is coming in as immigrant labour. 49 Indeed, our London Passenger Transport system, our railways, our hospitals, all owe a great debt to these immigrants who are doing splendid work here. I think all of us who meet them find them cheerful, fine, gay citizens. Nevertheless, my Lords, socially our housing, our hospitals, our general social facilities are inadequate to absorb this great influx; we are out of balance socially as compared with our industrial needs. Therefore, I think Her Majesty's Government are right in this.
If one accepts the need for the Bill, one's next question is: is the Bill a good one? Well, my noble friend Lord Colyton condemns the Bill. I would say at once it is a very different Bill from that which was proposed originally in another place. The time limit to 1963—which means the working time of the Bill is probably between eighteen to twenty months—is a tremendous improvement. There are improved provisions for students, and I think the administration of the Bill is clearly going to be humane, judging by the White Paper Commonwealth Immigrants Bill—Draft Instructions to Immigration Officers.
There is the anomaly—and one must face it—of the Irish position. It is an anomaly in theoretical study, but I think it is difficult in practice to do anything other than what Her Majesty's Government have done in view of two facts. The first is that we should seriously hurt our building industry, which depends very largely on Irish labour at the present time, and, in spite of what Lord Colyton said, immigrant labour from the West Indies or from India or Pakistan would not be suitable for our building construction, especially as one of the prime tasks of Her Majesty's Government is to get on with building as soon as possible. The second is that it would, of course, create fresh barriers between Northern and Southern Ireland, which in itself would be a very bad thing to do. My Lords, the smooth working of the Bill must depend on Commonwealth co-operation, and I hope that Her Majesty's Government will be able to tell us that they intend to have a conference, either at Prime Minister level or some special conference, at least six months before the time of the Bill's expiry, so that the workings of the Bill can be studied and, if necessary, improved for the future.
50 My Lords, finally, it seems to me—and here, if I may respectfully do so, I come to the words of the most reverend Primate in his speech—the need for this Bill is something of an indictment of our economic failure over many years so to order our colonial administration that a standard of life could be enjoyed by the inhabitants of those countries which would not make them feel it essential to try to get out at almost any cost. They leave because poverty is present there, and prospects are not present. There have been 60 years of progress, but to-day, with the wisdom of what I call hindsight, not one of us, having regard to the modern standards we enjoy, can feel content with our past efforts, and certainly not with the present situation. I believe that this failure is largely due to the financial and trade policies of multi-lateralism which we have followed, aimed over past years primarily at our own advantage and our own progress, which in some degree must be in conflict with a policy of some measure of protective preference, which alone would have given these countries a better opportunity than we have given them in the past.
Our broad economic policies in the past have been based on the principles of self-interest. I will not develop that point any further, except to say that I see the gravest dangers to our freedom and ability to give future aid to these territories if we join the Common Market, because the Common Market is essentially a plan for the nations that enjoy a higher standard of living to raise that standard still further. But it will be at the direct expense of the less developed countries and opportunities they could have enjoyed. I believe we should not ally ourselves with any policies which foster trade for the better-off at the cost of diverting limited resources from such undeveloped countries as remain our responsibility.
My last word is this. We have heard considerable criticism of the Bill from the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, on behalf of the Opposition, and others. I think it is not unfair to ask them this. I know that they are not going to divide against the Bill, for the constitutional reasons deployed by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, but, supposing there were a political transformation and the noble Lords opposite were in power, would 51 they at once repeal this Bill? It is a question to which I think we are entitled to know the answer. This Bill is not unpopular in the country—I rather wish it were—because there is still a great deal of ignorant and unpleasant colour prejudice in this country. But I think it is a fair question to ask. If the Party opposite were put in power within the next few months through some political upset, would it be their policy to remove this Bill from the statute book? If that question is answered, we shall all know much better where we are, because at the moment I have heard only condemnation, without any positive proposals as to remedial action. I conclude by repeating again that I find this Bill distasteful, but under the circumstances I believe it is necessary.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, I oppose this Bill wholeheartedly, and I do so on three grounds. The first two have been widely covered by noble Lords who have already spoken, and I shall not take up much time in dealing with them. The first I think one can call the tactical objection: assuming that the Bill is necessary, why must it be brought in at this present time? We have heard from many noble Lords—and in an admirable manner, particularly from the noble Lord, Lord Colyton—about the effect this Bill is likely to have upon the Commonwealth, and the unfortunate result of that, in view of the particular strains and stresses to which the Commonwealth is subjected to-day, in regard to the West Indian Federation, about which we have already heard; the Common Market, about which we shall undoubtedly hear more; the happenings in Central Africa and all the rest of it. These stresses are there, and are increasing; and, on top of them, now comes this particularly controversial Bill, which, however it is presented, however admirable the motives of the Government may be, will undoubtedy be—and in fact already undoubtedly is being—regarded as a Bill filled with colour consciousness, if not colour prejudice.
For that reason, my Lords, it was surely a grave mistake, to put it no stronger, to introduce a Bill of this sort at the present time unless the needs for the Bill were of the utmost urgency; unless to-day we were actually suffering 52 from widespread unemployment; unless large numbers of our own people could not get jobs; unless the demands on our own resources for unemployment insurance benefits and so on were so great that we could scarcely meet them. If that were so, there would be, I concede, a strong argument for introducing this Bill immediately to-day. But that is not the case. We are, or have been for several years, so we are led to believe, suffering from inflation and other dangers and difficulties which come from over-full employment rather than from under-full employment. So it surely cannot be maintained that the need to-day is so great that, in spite of the immediate tactical disadvantages of introducing the Bill to-day, it must be done regardless of the repercussions in the world at large and in particular in the Commonwealth.
As I have said, I agreed wholeheartedly with almost all that the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, said in this respect, but where I did not agree with him—and it was the sole point on which I agreed with my noble friend Lord Huntingdon—was in his remarks about Southern Ireland. We cannot make a bad Bill into a good Bill by extending its bad, restrictive provisions to cover still more people. Although I accept fully the advantage, from the point of view of public relations, of saying that this Bill would not be a Bill full of colour prejudice if we were to include the Southern Irish, I hope that that will not be sufficient reason for doing any such thing.
I would ask the noble and learned Viscount who is to reply one specific point on this matter of Southern Ireland. We are told, and I think I am not misquoting, that the only reason why the Government have not included Southern Ireland in the Bill is that of technical difficulties; the border between Northern and Southern Ireland would be too difficult to police and patrol. This morning I came back from Dublin by air. Although we passed through the Customs, as the noble and learned Viscount said, we did not pass through Immigration. For all I know, there were half a dozen Australians or Canadians on the aeroplane with me who had come in transit via Shannon to Dublin, and who had then, quite legitimately and legally, boarded the plane at 53 Dublin Airport, got off at London Airport, and entered this country with no restriction whatsoever upon them.
Presumably, when this Bill is passed it will be equally possible for those Australians or Canadians to do exactly the same thing, and, technically, it will be equally possible for West Indians to do the same thing, unless they happen to have black faces and are spotted by somebody. Whether they will then be hauled aside and made to go through Immigration, and be subjected to the interrogations laid down in the White Paper, I do not know. But if that is so, and if the men with black faces coming from Southern Ireland are going to be brought round through Immigration on an occasion such as I have described, then, surely, we must have arrangements for men with white faces, also coming from the Commonwealth, to be treated in exactly the same way. If we are going to do that—although I hope such powers will not be used—I cannot see the technical difficulties about exempting the men with white faces from Southern Ireland itself. On the other hand, if it is going to be possible to go through, surely there will be a very big loophole, of which I hope the fullest use will be made, to enable coloured people and West Indians to come in.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, the noble Lord has asked me a question, and I do not think it is likely to prove very convenient to handle it in my reply. I think if he will look at the debates in another place he will see that this was discussed fully, and the answer is that, as a result of something that the Republic of Ireland Government said, we are expecting that a control will be imposed, by the Republic of Ireland in parallel with our own control.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Viscount for that reply. Should I be right in saying that, in other words, a deal has been done with the Government of Southern Ireland to help us enforce this particular regulation?
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, let me now leave that tactical side of the question, as I described it, and go on to the economic side. As I have said, I could understand that it might be necessary to 54 bring in this Bill if we were suffering from unemployment, but to-day it is over-full employment which is our chief danger. Our need is for labour of all kinds, and, in particular, I should have said, for labour of an unskilled variety such as the people who work on the buses, of whom we have heard mention, the people who lay the pipelines, the navvies who work on the roads, the people who work as railway porters, and so on. Our chief need is for the unskilled type of labour. But the people who are allowed to come in under this Bill are not those unskilled labourers; the people who are automatically allowed to come in are those who can produce proof of skill in an employment. The others can come in only if they already have a job offered to them.
I would point out to your Lordships, although I do not make this point as a strong argument for abandoning the Bill or for promoting it, that in those countries of the Commonwealth which are themselves going to be chiefly affected by this measure there is a very great need for skilled labour, and what we are doing is in direct conflict with their interests. We are in fact saying: "Those of you who have skills can come readily into this country, and you are encouraged thereby not to remain in your own islands and your own countries which need you but to come to England. Only those who have no skills, who are of least use to their own countries, are encouraged to remain." I would further point out, on the economic argument, that under this Bill—
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I am very reluctant to contradict the noble Lord while he is in the course of his argument, but I know that he does not want to take a false point; therefore he may forgive me. I think he has not taken in what my noble and learned friend said in opening. By far the largest category of those who will in fact get in is what he described as Category C; that is to say, those who have no necessary jobs nor necessary skills, but those who will come in on the basis of "First come, first served." That is by far the most important category numerically.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, I am glad to hear that it is by far the most 55 important category numerically. I do not think that the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack gave us to understand that there were any figures. I think my noble friend Lord Silkin suggested some figures but the noble and learned Viscount said that he had no figures whatsoever in mind. I am glad to learn from the noble and learned Viscount who leads the House that it is expected by Her Majesty's Government that by far and away the largest number will be those with no skills whatsoever. But that does not in any way alter my point, which is that those with skills will be the first to go from these countries and it will be easiest for them to go. They will be creamed off, leaving those islands—and I am referring specifically to the West Indies and the Colonies—even more devoid than they are at present of skilled labour.
A further provision of this Bill, which I do not think will have escaped your Lordships' attention, is that we are—and I am glad we are—allowing into this country the dependants of those who are already here and established. In other words, we are adding to the proportion of non-productive people who are coming in. Therefore, we are adding to the strain on our housing, our hospitals and our schools—because the young people will be coming in also. They are allowed in if their parents or their father is in employment here already. We shall be adding to those numbers, but decreasing the proportion of the actual producers of wealth.
There is one minor point on which I should like to correct the noble Lord, Lord Hemingford. He referred to the density of population in different parts of the world, and suggested that this country and Japan were among those with the densest population; therefore it was reasonable and just—and I do not think I am misquoting him—that we should protect ourselves against those areas which are less densely populated. But Barbados, one of the West Indian islands, has a population of close on a quarter of a million people, who are crowded into 166 square miles, and that gives a population of 1,400 per square mile, or very nearly double what it is in this country. Therefore, if the argument is that of pressure of population, 56 we must, at least so far as Barbados is concerned, allow completely free access into this country so as to equalise that pressure.
However, I will not develop either of these two themes any longer, but will go on to what, to my mind, is far and away the strongest indictment of this Bill, and that is one which, quite unashamedly, I call the moral indictment. We have listened here to many reasons why on grounds of tactics and economics it is either right or it is wrong to allow these people to come into this country. But have we not a much wider duty, to as many members of our family (using that term as widely as possible) as we can manage, to give them every help and every assistance we possibly can? I would not for a moment strain the interpretation of that doctrine by saying that, as an individual family, we should allow people into our house if it were to mean poverty or starvation for our own children. That, in my view, would be wrong. Similarly, I believe it would be wrong for us to allow free entry into this country to an unlimited number of people if it were to mean poverty or starvation or gross hardship for the people living in this country. But nobody has suggested to-day that that is the case. What we are defending, or preserving, is our standard of living: our right, such as it be, to own a television set; to own a motor bicycle; even for my noble friend to find a parking place for his car—and he specifically said that. That is what we are defending in this country with this Bill.
My Lords, I do not think it is right that we should do that, and I do not think that many of your Lordships would think it was, either. I would remind your Lordships of some words spoken by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore—and I wish he had been speaking to-day, because I feel sure that he would have repeated these sentiments. Speaking last week, he said—and I quote [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 237 (No. 45), col. 1181]:I feel that what we want to do to-day is to assure the people of the Caribbean that our interest in them is as keen as ever it was; that we acknowledge the debt we owe them and have owed them over many years for the great help they have been to the economy of our country; and that in the future, as in the past, whatever co-operation we can afford, whatever assistance it is within our power to57provide, will freely be made available to them by the people of this country, who have for these islands a very warm spot.Those, my Lords, are sentiments which I believe we all share, but I do not think that any of us can search our hearts and say that this Bill is giving effect to them.
I do not want to detain your Lordships overlong, but we have so far been talking too much, possibly, in the abstract and not enough from the point of view of purely detailed personalities. It is easy to decide, in the abstract, what is a sound course, what seems to be sensible on balance, and all the rest of it; but often one has very different ideas if one relates it to an individual, and I should like to describe to your Lordships, if I may, one individual whom I know personally in the West Indies. It is a young man in his twenties, living in one of those glorious tropical islands about which we have heard so much and which we see on posters. Unfortunately, he does not live in a luxury hotel or in a modern bungalow on a beautiful beach: he lives high up in the hills, with a very large aggregation of his family, in a small, two-roomed, wooden shack with a corrugated iron roof—because he is now somewhat more prosperous than he was, he has been able to replace the thatch of palm fronds that it used to have. He works, and he earns, I suppose, on an average, something like £2 a week, or possibly 30s. In order to get to his work, he has to walk for six miles along a muddy track—and it can be very wet out there—every day. When he has finished his work, he has to walk back home.
He is ten miles from the nearest town; he lives five miles from the nearest pub, if that is what you can call it; he has no cinema closer than the town, and he has no bus to take him there. In other words, he leads a life in the bush with nothing to look forward to other than the daily chores and possibly getting drunk on Friday or Saturday night. He has a girl friend—he is not legally married—and he has a child on the way. The chances are that that child will die, because infant mortality out there is at some fantastic figure with which no statistics can keep pace. He wants to come to England. He does not know anything about England, although he has friends and relatives who have been there. But he knows that when he comes 58 to England there will be something better for him. He will have a chance to lead a fuller life. He does not really know what it means, but he knows it us a wider life; and he believes that his children, when they come, will have not only more chance of survival, but also a chance of proper education at a decent school, and all the other things that go with a life in this country as opposed to a life out there.
My Lords, this is not a sob story. This is repeated day after day, time after time, with tens of thousands of people. What are we doing about them? What are we proposing to do about them? The noble Earl, Lord Perth, said last week [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 237 (No. 45), col. 1186]:I can only say that, so far as Her Majesty's Government are concerned, anything we can do to further the welfare of the peoples we shall always be anxious to do.My Lords, are we going to do this? Are we really sincere when we say that we want to help these people? Or, because we are so afraid of losing our standard of living, of not having our second T.V., of not being able to find a parking place, are we simply going to pass by on the other side?
§ 5.39 p.m.
My Lords, we have had some very interesting speeches this evening. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, discussing the Government's duty towards their electors, put forward views which were distinctly novel, and I have no doubt that my noble Leader will comment on them in due course. We are always interested to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Walston, about the West Indies, in which he farms, and so on. I suggest to him that the quickest way of increasing the prosperity of the West Indies would be for him to persuade his East-Anglian farmers to give up growing sugar beet in this country. Perhaps, indeed, he grows it himself.
When I heard the speech of the most reverend Primate my conscience was severely disturbed because I wondered whether it were possible to support this Bill and, at the same time, be considered to have any Christian ideas. But I took refuge in a report of the Board of Social Responsibility, which is an organ of the Church Assembly under the Chairmanship of the Lord Bishop of Leicester, and 59 I found that it is possible to hold divergent views on this Bill and still remain within the fold. In one paragraph they say that some peoplevalue the open door so highly that they feel it should be kept open and even opened wider, leaving themselves and others to tackle the resulting problems as such".I feel that the most reverend Primate belongs to that school. Later on it says—
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTER-BURY
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord why he thinks I make the assumption that only one Christian view on this Bill is possible? I made no such statement.
My Lords, I certainly never suspected that the most reverend Primate made any such statement at all. He belongs to a viewpoint which, I felt, when I heard it, might mean it was impossible for me to be a Christian if I did not agree with it. I now find in the report of this Board that it is perfectly possible to disagree with the most reverend Primate and still be in the fold, because it says:There are others, who are equally people of Christian faith and conviction, who consider, in the best interests both of the immigrants themselves and of the citizens of this country, that a measure of control underlying the present Bill is necessary. They welcome a flow, but fear a tidal wave".And that is my view. I greatly sympathise with the people who have a nostalgia for the open door. After all, I remember the open door before the First War, when this country was the home of penniless refugees from the Continent, and of all political refugees too. But as a result of the First War, that particular door had to be partially closed, and it remained open only for the Commonwealth immigrant. Now we have the position that the door has to be slightly further closed. My only regret is that this Bill should have to come forward at this time, which is the culmination of many years of a worldwide anti-white propaganda started by the Soviet Union, which I am afraid has been only too successful. If we had foreseen the problem and passed this legislation five or six years ago, it would have passed through without any comment; we should have had any protection we needed, and probably not had to use it.
60 I believe that the provisions of this Bill are a real necessity to-day. At home we have an ever-increasing population. Our housing is in very short supply. How short we do not know, because nobody can agree on the figures. To provide a reasonably free movement from job to job, I should be very surprised to find that we were not something between half a million and one million houses short in this country today. At the same time, we have coming along a bulge of teenagers in schools who are all going to marry young in the next few years, and who will require to be housed; and, as we know, the capacity of the building industry in this country is not much over 300,000 houses a year, which is the rate at which we have been building so far. I wonder whether we can ever catch up.
Yet several noble Lords have suggested that the whole thing would have been solved if we could have devoted greater attention to housing. My Lords, we just have not got the capacity. We have not got the plumbers, the carpenters, and the bricklayers to do very much more. Our recent debates on housing would have made that clear to anyone who listened to them. We are running into trouble over water supplies in many of our big cities. In our schools, we are desperately short of teachers, and immigrant children are particularly difficult to teach at the start because some of them speak no English at all. I submit that we have reached the limit in this island, and that we are overpopulated.
Immigrants are very valuable, and have been most valuable in many of our industries and services; but they are an industrial luxury and they have to be paid for in other directions. To set up an immigrant family from outside these islands with a house, full social services, schools, and so on, represents an expenditure of about £3,000 worth of capital. I believe that there is in fact a danger that, without some control in the background, we run great risks that the trickle we have been having might become a flood, because, as we all know, large parts of the Commonwealth are grossly overpopulated. The tropical countries, with nature's fecundity plus Western medicine and hygiene, have brought this about. I never thought that 61 I would ever live to see an Indian Prime Minister openly advocating sterilisation to his Hindu population; but if things have come to such a pass that that has to happen in India, we know that the situation is just as bad in some of these other countries. The relief that could be provided by this country would be a "flea bite" in relation to this problem, and at the same time might be disastrous to us. We simply cannot afford to be the only place to which the overcrowded Commonwealth of 700 million people can export its surplus population. India and Pakistan sent to this country 40,000 emigrants in the first ten months of 1961, which is five times the amount in 1960. I believe there is a particular danger of a flood from India and Pakistan.
I know how quickly and mercilessly the Oriental capitalists can be in exploiting their fellow men, and exploitation of fellow emigrants from the Indian subcontinent is a very profitable business in our big cities. The would-be landlord secures his first house, he fills it from attic to cellar with his fellow countrymen, from each of whom he takes a rent probably sufficient to pay for the whole house. Untroubled greatly by the tax collector, these rents soon accumulate and provide money to buy the next house; and then the process goes on like a snowball. Meanwhile there is a danger that, in order to feed this very lucrative business, he may take to sending for and financing new immigrants from his country for the sole purpose of lodging them at huge rents. As this process goes on, swallowing up house after house, the whole neighbourhood soon becomes a grossly over-populated slum. The landlord is secure because he knows that, even if his lodgers fall out of work, they can go to the National Assistance Board, and he will get his rent.
That, my Lords, I believe is the real danger—the danger of an organised emigration from the Orient in order to enrich the existing emigrant landlord. With this threat over us, I do not believe that we can be expected to keep unlimited open house, unlimited free house, to one-third of the world's population. The risk of exploiting the idea of immigration is too big. This Bill does not stop immigration. I should hope that it does not do so. But it does remove 62 from us the threat that immigration may be exploited.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ LORD TEVIOT
My Lords, as it is the custom in your Lordships' House to declare a personal interest, I must immediately admit that I have a definite interest in two parts of the Bill. I have a shipping interest, with which I will deal first of all. We have taken a great deal of trouble in the office to go into the terms of this Bill, and we have come to the conclusion that we do no harm to our business by supporting the Bill. What has been happening in the last two years is that ships which come to this country from the Far East and deposit their cargoes here have lost part of their crews, the reason being that friends already in this country ask members of the crew to go out with them in London to various amusements, and we never see them again. I suppose that they get other employment, because some of them are skilled men. That is all very well, but it is very expensive to us. When the ships have to go hack to the Far East, we have the greatest difficulty in getting the necessary men to fill their places and man the ships. That is all wrong.
As I say, we have studied the Bill with great care, and we have come to the conclusion that, within its ambit, there is plenty of power to help us in the position in which we find ourselves to-day. Therefore, without going into details about the Irish, North and South, the Pakistanis and Indians, I would say that in this Bill there is plenty of scope for rectifying a great many abuses by people who come to this country. I feel sure that we are safe in the hands of the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, who, I presume, will do most of the manipulation and the work of this Bill. In the other business that I should mention as one in which I have an interest in, the position is that we are held up by want of men whom we sadly need to assist in our works.
I think it is a pity that a great deal of this debate has taken place. The most reverend Primate made a good speech—no harm can come from that—but I wish that a good many things which have been said had not been said. 63 Some noble Lords have said that immigration might lead to over-population in this country. I do not believe that. At the present time, there seems to be scope to employ more labour, both unskilled and skilled, in this country. As your Lordships know, I never speak for long: I always just state my case and then sit down, which I am going to do now.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ LORD COUTANCHE
My Lords, I shall be brief, but I think that it would be wrong of me not to say the few words that I wish to say. For many hundreds of years the people of the Channel Islands have had the inestimable privilege of unrestricted entry into this country. I am satisfied that this privilege is completely safeguarded by the Bill which is now before your Lordships. Obviously, it will require a great deal of adaptation and modification to make it suit the particular conditions in the Islands, as I have no doubt will be necessary also in the case of the Isle of Man. But there is power in this Bill for Her Majesty in Council to apply the Bill, with the necessary adaptations and modifications, to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man; and, speaking from long experience of the friendly and co-operative manner in which other Statutes containing similar clauses are brought into effect, I am sure that no difficulties will be encountered in getting out an Order in Council which will satisfy the needs of this country and, at the same time, the needs of the Islands.
That having been said, and having said that I am satisfied that the interests of my own community are so fully covered, I must confess to a feeling of great regret that this Bill is necessary. Yet that it is necessary, I am convinced. What the remedy may be—whether or not it be such as that which, if I may say so with respect, was forecast by the most reverend Primate and other speakers in your Lordships' House—and where the blame lies for the necessity for the Bill, is not for me to say. I regret its necessity, but, as I say, I believe that it is necessary. I hope that everyone will do his best to make it weigh as lightly as passible upon those who may be most vitally affected. I take great courage in the fact that this Bill is to be operative 64 for so short a time and that Parliament will have the right, and indeed the duty, of reviewing its provisions very soon. That is all I wish to say on the question of immigration.
I pass to say a word on the matter of deportation. Had it been possible to divorce the immigration aspect of this Bill from the deportation aspect, I confess that I should have been happier. But I am quite convinced that, altogether apart from restriction on immigration, there should be facilities for the courts to recommend deportation in suitable cases. The Bill is very clear. The people who are envisaged are, if I may put it in what I hope is a nice way, guests of this country; and if a guest is guilty of an offence which is punishable by imprisonment, then, speaking from a long judicial experience in the matter, I do not believe such a guilty person has any right to complain if the country whose guest he is finds it necessary to put an end to its hospitality in his regard.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, I accept the need for some measure of control such as is set out in this Bill, and most of the reasons for my view have already been stated by noble Lords who have spoken. All I would say is that, like my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye, I am confident that a substantial majority of the people in this country will welcome the passing of this Bill into law. This is not, in my view, primarily a colour question, though we must admit that colour prejudice has some bearing upon it. In Scotland, for instance, the problem is not a serious one. Not only are the Scots, I think, less prejudiced by nature, but they are physically less affected by the hard facts of the pressure of coloured immigrants on housing, because our hard climate brings down the number of immigrants from tropical and sub-tropical regions.
The Southern Irish immigrant, seasonal and otherwise, is the chief migration problem of us in the North, and I am one of those who regret that they are left out of this Bill. I use the word "problem" in this regard because the medal has two sides: the obverse—the work which the Southern Irish do and have done in Scotland, from time immemorial, and the service they render 65 to the economy; and the reverse—their occasional unruly behaviour, anti-social tendencies and their delinquency rate, which is quite contrary to the experience of coloured immigrants in the South. Incidentally, it is sometimes not appreciated—certainly it was not appreciated by me until quite recently—that a great number of citizens of the Republic of Ireland have their names on the electoral register and take part both in local government elections and in Parliamentary elections.
The only new point I have to make is a minor point, but a practical one, and I am encouraged to make it by something that the noble Lord, Lord Walston, said in his speech. As the only representative of your Lordships' House among the ordinary members of the Oversea Migration Board (the noble Duke the Duke of Devonshire is, by virtue of his ministerial position, the Chairman), I think it only proper, and I believe it would be your Lordships' wish, that I should say something about the Board's approach to this subject of immigration. With your Lordships' permission, I will quote from Chapter 1 of the Board's most recent Report, that for 1961, which begins with the words:This is the seventh consecutive report in which we have found it necessary to urge the need for statistics of the considerable volume of migration by the long air routes. A simple card system on the lines we have long advocated was introduced for the long sea routes in October, 1960 …Then it goes on:We were gratified to learn from the announcement in August, 1960, that Ministerial approval had been given to introduce similar cards for passengers on the long air routes. We regret the subsequent refusal of the airlines to co-operate voluntarily in this matter.Further on in the chapter the Report says:There has been a considerable two-way movement for a number of years, yet full statistics of its volume and pattern are not available to Ministers and advisory bodies, and policy recommendations and decisions which can be of immense importance to the country have to be taken on the basis of estimates based on very incomplete material. In our view it is more than ever necessary that the facts of emigration and immigration should be surveyed and made available to those concerned with recommendations and decisions on migration policy.The chapter ends with the sentence:We hope that it will not be for much longer that the United Kingdom will remain66the only major country of both emigration and immigration which cannot produce complete and adequate statistics of its own two-way migration movements.I commend this Report to your Lordships. It is full of interesting matter, much of which has a bearing on the subject of this debate, although there is much that is not strictly relevant to the subject we are discussing. The sampling system, to which the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack referred, is now in operation, and it has, together with the figures available from the Ministry of Labour, given a certain measure of guidance. But I confess that I was sorry to hear the noble and learned Viscount remark that the system of sampling was likely to continue; because, although strictly outwith the purview of the Board, the Report contains a paragraph on migration which, with your Lordships' permission, I will now read. It says:Although immigration policy is outside the scope of our purview, we have long held the view that both in assessing the impact of emigration upon our manpower resources and in considering questions of emigration policy, we must take into account the volume and pattern of our immigration.Further in that same paragraph (and this is my last quotation) it says:The defects in our emigration statistics, to which we referred in Chapter 1 of this Report, appear with even greater force in the case of our immigration statistics. We are therefore deprived of a great deal of important information which in our view ought to be available to Ministers, advisory bodies and the public. We are, therefore, compelled to turn again to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance data regarding entrants into national insurance from overseas. This information, so far as it goes, is invaluable, and its great merit is that it gives an indication of the volume (but unfortunately not the pattern) of the accretion to our manpower resources through immigration.With those quotations I would say that, though I do not welcome the Bill, I should be happier, like the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, to see the Southern Irish brought in, and, like most of your Lordships, I feel, with the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, some measure of unhappiness about it. But I agree that the Government are doing their duty in introducing it, no matter how repugnant that duty may be. We must remember, however, that, as the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said—and I quote from the notes I made—" We all know that doors are not wide open in other 67 parts of the Commonwealth. "I think we must keep that clearly before us, and recall that Canada published new regulations as at January 19 last, giving the Government power to relate immigration to jobs available, which is, after all, what the Bill now before us is intended to do. It is satisfactory, in my view, that the Bill is of a somewhat temporary nature and therefore somewhat flexible in form, because it may provide an opportunity to take advantage of the pause provided to put the statistical position on a sound basis.
I see that I have made a further note to quote again, quite unashamedly, from the Report of the Board. It is only a line, which says that the Board urgesthat Parliamentary time should be found as soon as possible for the simple Bill necessary for this purpose.While appreciating the great delicacy of the problem which faces the Government, I support the Bill, sharing, as many of your Lordships must, the regret expressed by so many noble Lords.
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ LORD AUCKLAND
My Lords, I should first like to apologise to the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack and to your Lordships for the fact that, owing to a previous engagement, I had to miss many of the earlier speeches. I hope that what I have to say will not be too repetitive. My main reason for speaking on a matter upon which I do not normally speak in your Lordships' House is that my early ancestors had a great deal to do with the Commonwealth, particularly the first Baron, who was for a time Governor-General of India. However, I do not propose to direct my remarks towards India. May I say, first, that, although I welcome this Bill, it is with the heaviest of hearts. When I listened in the Peers' Gallery in another place to the moving of the Second Reading of this Bill, my opposition to it was much more intense than it had been previously; but the Bill has been altered quite a lot in another place, and altered for the better. I am particularly glad to note that the review period has been altered from five years to eighteen to twenty months.
Reference has been made to the fact that this country is overcrowded, and, of 68 course, that is true. In Brixton, in a town like Birmingham, in many parts of the Midlands and in certain parts of the North, the colour problem is grave. But there are many places in which unskilled labour is still very short. I am informed that, in my own district in Surrey, if it were not for unskilled coloured labour the sewerage system would completely break down. I am not suggesting for one moment that coloured immigrants should necessarily be put on to unskilled labour, but this problem is a grave one, and I am going to advance one suggestion to the Government which may, or may not, be favourably received. I appreciate that it would be difficult to put it into action, but it is this: to have some modified form of direction of labour for coloured immigrants who wish to come over to this country. There are, as I have said, a number of areas, particularly in rural districts, where the need for this kind of labour is desperate. I am well aware that these people live in communities; they are a friendly people, and do not like to be isolated. However, if it were possible to get local authorities in some of the rural areas to have a building scheme, perhaps on the hostel style, some of the major problems in those districts could be alleviated. I can well appreciate the objections to this scheme, but it would, in my view, be better than having a bar on immigrants.
This is in many ways a curious Bill, because much of the objection to it comes from trade unions and trades councils. I was talking to a ticket collector in my local area who is himself a staunch trade unionist, and he said emphatically that immigrants must all be kept out. When I remonstrated with him, he said, "Well, if they come here in large numbers there will be much unemployment for our own people." Coming into contact with all shades of public opinion as I do, and, indeed, as most of your Lordships do, I have found this kind of sentiment echoed time and time again: that this Bill is something which must be got through quickly. Personally, I am not inclined to agree with that point of view. As I say, the review period is now much more favourable than it was when the Bill went for Second Reading to another place.
I know that we in this country pour a good deal of capital into the West Indies, 69 but I wonder whether, when this Bill becomes law, we shall not have to pour in a great deal more. The damage and devastation in British Honduras caused by the hurricane "Hattie", for example, was tremendous and tragic, and it will need a great deal of finance to put that fine country back on its feet. We do a great deal of trade with the West Indies, and very much with British Honduras. If we are to have immigration control, we shall need to ensure that these people are given the maximum possible benefits in their own country.
May I say just a word about the Irish? A great deal of hostility has been engendered in many circles because the Southern Irish are not included in this Bill. Not only is it difficult to bring in legislation of this kind, but I really wonder whether it is desirable. I know many Southern Irish people and I have been to Southern Ireland two or three times, and, by and large, they are a law-abiding race. Admittedly some of them do get somewhat drunk on a Saturday night, smash a few windows and possibly do worse, but I do not think they do it any more than our own people do, and I would particularly advance the same sentiments for the West Indians and other coloured people in this country.
Last autumn I was holidaying in Yorkshire and I had occasion to have a long talk with the Deputy Chief Constable of Leeds, where there is quite a large coloured population. As I think I told your Lordships in the course of a previous debate, he said that the amount of crime committed by the coloured element in that big city was very small indeed, while the amount of crime committed by European displaced persons was very high. I am not advocating that Europeans should be controlled more than is necessary, but I happen to have a great love for the Commonwealth, and while at the present time this Bill is to some extent necessary, I think it must be watched with exceptional care.
My Lords, the implications of this Bill are going to be felt a great deal. The timing of its introduction has, I think, been unfortunate, this being the year of the Common Market discussions. We shall want many more assurances that Article 48 of the Rome Treaty, dealing with the importation of labour, has been looked at very carefully so that 70 Commonwealth immigrants are not prejudiced at the expense of members of the Six; and I think that is a very important point. In another place this Bill has been very carefully discussed, and it is now incumbent upon this House to make more suggestions for improving and liberalising it where necessary. However, with the reservations I have made, I reluctantly but sincerely support this Bill.
§ 6.23 p.m.
§ LORD ELTON
My Lords, I rise to give a brief but cordial welcome to this Bill. I am only sorry that it has been introduced, and on the whole defended, on a very apologetic note; but possibly the noble Viscount who will reply to the debate, and who, though he can make very gracious apologies, is not prone to apologise where it is not necessary, will not be quite so apologetic about the Bill. I welcome the Bill all the more cordially and all the more briefly because some five years ago, in 1956, just about the time that my noble friend Lord Hawke told us he wished there had been legislation, I introduced a Motion into your Lordships' House to draw attention to the problems arising from West Indian immigration. The object of that exercise was, of course, partly to give your Lordships an opportunity of discussing the problem, but primarily to give the Government an opportunity of making a considered statement on it while it was still only a problem and before it had matured into a crisis.
I pointed to one or two of the signals standing at danger—it was easy to do that then and it is, of course, very much easier now—and asked the Government whether they had any convincing reasons for assuming that we were not going to run into serious trouble or were not in fact merely hoping for the best. I think it would be fair to summarise the Government's reply as being to the effect that they did not see any dangers in the situation at the moment but were watching it closely. I must admit that at the time I was tempted to suspect that "watching it closely" was merely officialese for "hoping for the best". But I realise now, in the light of this Bill, that I was being unduly cynical; for the Government must have been watching the situation pretty closely, and they have seen, as they could not 71 help seeing, that it was moving steadily towards crisis.
I will not go into the immigration figures, which we have already had repeated more than once; but it surely has been clear to most of us that the dangers inherent in the concentration of large homogeneous aggregates of coloured immigrants in a few urban localities have been becoming more and more explosive. We have been beginning to build up a major colour problem. It seems to me that by no means the only, but the main, justification for this Bill, is that it is seeking to obviate the ulcerous growth in the body politic of a major racial problem.
My Lords, do not let us be too apologetic and euphemistic and mealy-mouthed about this question of racial prejudice. One gets the impression that many publicists and politicians are terrified out of their wits at the prospect of being accused of racial prejudice, and I believe that there is a great deal of mental confusion, and a great deal of nonsense talked, about racial prejudice. The prejudice against coloured immigrants, which, where they are concentrated in large numbers, is often bitter and deeply rooted, is not in origin prejudice against their colour at all; it is prejudice against their numbers. I have more than once had dark-skinned West Indians staying in my home, and when they have gone about the village they have been welcomed everywhere with open arms. It has been very obvious that if there were any prejudice in respect of their colour, it was prejudice in their favour. But of course in other circumstances it would have been a very different story.
The most reverend Primate himself, if I did not misinterpret him (and I am sorry that he is not here, for if he were he could correct me) gave me the impression that he too had the feeling that there was a great deal of dangerous and reprehensible racial prejudice about. I should therefore, with the greatest respect, like to put forward a simple illustration which I ventured to give, I remember, when my noble friend Lord Longford was introducing a Motion a year or two ago on violence and colour prejudice. If it were known in my home village that the most reverend Primate the Lard Archbishop of 72 Canterbury were coming to live there, we should undoubtedly ring a peal on the church bells. If it were known that five Archbishops of Canterbury were coming I should still expect to see my neighbours exchanging excited congratulations on the street corners. But if it were heard that fifty Archbishops were coming, there would be a riot. Surely that is a pertinent illustration. Surely, in the same way, it is the number of these immigrants which is creating a prejudice which would not otherwise exist.
That mention of numbers takes me to one further point. It seems to me that the discussion over the last few years in the Press, and, to a certain extent, in the debate here this evening, has been shot through with one most curious paradox. This is, after all, pre-eminently an age of planning. I think it was Sir William Harcourt who said in the 1890s that we are all Socialists nowadays. That is no longer true, but up to a point we are all planners. And noble Lords opposite are the admired archpriests of planning. Surely to goodness, if ever there was a situation which called aloud for planning, here it is! Here is this island, this small overcrowded island, issuing a standing invitation to the 668 million citizens of the Commonwealth overseas. Virtually every other country in the world, including of course the countries which pour their own citizens in here, regulates, plans, immigration, whether by selection, limitation or prohibition. The United States of America, with a population of 57 to the square mile, limits immigration; Canada, with a population of five to the square mile, prohibits immigrants from the Commonwealth; while England and Wales, with a population of 790 to the square mile, extend at present a standing invitation to the whole of the 668 million citizens of the Commonwealth.
It may be said that, although there is a strong case for regulation, nevertheless it breaks down on religious or moral grounds—and here again I am sorry that the most reverend Primate is no longer here. It may be said—it has been said, though I do not think it has been said in this debate—that we have no right to exclude these people because, after all, they are our brethren. But, my Lords, no voice has been raised 73 against the exclusion of non-Commonwealth citizens, against the exclusion of Norwegians and French and Turks and Chinese and Japanese. We must therefore presume that the case for wholly unplanned immigration rests not upon the religious premise that they are our brethren but on the political premise that they are our fellow citizens of the Commonwealth.
This cherished tradition has been often spoken of this evening, but its source has not been disclosed to us. So far as I know, it derives from no fundamental legal or moral concept. I strongly suspect that it is a mere historical accident, deriving from the fact that during the latter half of the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century many British citizens took great risks by leaving their native shores to seek their fortunes or to found settlements overseas; and it was naturally assumed that if the venture went awry they had every right to return to their home country. But surely it does not follow that their descendants five generations later have a similar indefeasible right to settle here; and still less that the same indefeasible right is inherent in the citizens of all those Commonwealth countries which have no hereditary link with our country whatever.
Finally, it is sometimes said, and I think it has been said more than once this evening, that this Bill will do grievous harm to the sense of unity within the Commonwealth. I have had a long and close association with the Commonwealth from various angles, and I have always attached the greatest importance to the family sense within it and the contribution that this can make to its world influence. But I really do not believe that this measure is going long or seriously to affect the family sense within the Commonwealth. I think we are far more likely to affect it adversely by the racial tensions we are breeding at the heart of the Commonwealth in our present circumstances. It has to be confessed too that many of the immigrants have no Commonwealth feeling at all.
It is reported from Smethwick that not one in a hundred of the Pakistanis there—the actual figures were given as one in a thousand, but I do not want to exaggerate—had ever heard of the Com- 74 monwealth. With others it is very different, and I think particularly of the West Indians, for whom all of us who have been in the West Indies cannot help having very real affection. The West Indians must have been grieved and bewildered when they first heard of this measure; but I cannot believe they will not soon recognise, if they have not already recognised, that the time has surely come When this small, overcrowded Island can no longer sustain the unrestricted influx of a world community numbering something like a quarter of the population of the world without engendering dangers and tensions far mare serious than anything likely to be occasioned by the present measure, to which I hope your Lordships will give a warm welcome.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, in declaring my support for this Bill, perhaps I ought to say at once that I also belong to the small band of the supporters of the Bill who do so without any reluctance or repugnance whatsoever. I have studied with deep interest the course of the debates in another place on this Bill, and I have read with considerable surprise the pontifical denunciations of the Bill by some of our leading newspapers. It is indeed surprising to me how far astray emotion and sentiment can lead people, and how unfair and unpractical can be the judgment which emerges from that state of mind. With due respect to some noble Lords, I have this evening seen evidence of that which has surprised me even more.
After all, when we wipe the windscreen clear of misty sentiment what do we see in this Bill? It is a Bill to set up machinery for the control of Commonwealth immigrants into this country. It is not, as has been stated again and again, intended to shut them out, but merely to regulate their numbers, and to some extent their quality, so as not to exceed the absorptive capacity of the country to such an extent as will create grave friction and hardship, and indeed bitter in the community to which they come and also, perhaps, in the community from which they come.
We already have machinery to restrict and control alien immigration, and this is a milder measure aimed at protecting 75 and benefiting both the immigrants from the Commonwealth and the recipient community here. The right of free and unrestricted entry into this country in the past may have been a privilege which we were proud to give, as proud to give as they were glad to receive it. That was all right, so long as natural trends limited its use. But a study of the figures of the increase over recent years emphasises the need for some action to give power to control it. The Government's decision to take powers of control was, I suggest, wise if somewhat belated. It might have been wiser if these powers had been taken at a much earlier date, at least to accustom the immigrants to the fact that the powers of absorption in this country were not unlimited. After all, as has been said again and again, this is a small and heavily populated island, and it is obvious that, welcome though suitable immigrants are, the Government of the country cannot reasonably be denied a right of control which is held and exercised by every other member of the Commonwealth.
There are two points of view in this matter, and perhaps I may refer to them briefly. One is that of the local government authorities concerned, and the other is what, for want of a better phrase, I may call the national view, when perhaps national policy overrides the local view. Let me for a moment look at the matter from the point of view of the local government authorities, whose existing problems are and have been inevitably aggravated. I do not say they have been created, but they have certainly been seriously aggravated by the increasing influx of immigrants, the lack of housing accommodation, overcrowding, consequent low standard of living and health considerations, difficulties owing to change of climate and living conditions. It is true that, although immigration imposes a heavy burden on particular social services, nevertheless one must in fairness admit that other social services, such as public transport, hospitals and so forth, have considerably benefited by this labour which has come to assist them. But I suggest that there is no doubt that the influx of immigrants, increasing as it is at present, would rapidly create an overwhelming problem which it would be beyond the resources of those local 76 authorities to meet; and the need and demand for control would certainly have become imperative.
This is where we are told that the ultimate decision must be one of national policy, and that present national policy is to allow unrestricted entry into this country. I do not mind whether you call, it "policy" or, as it has been called this evening, "tradition". Whether you call it "policy" or "tradition", I should like to question the use of the word. Surely the habit of laissez faire, of letting a thing happen unchecked because its proportions were too small to be a problem, is not a policy or a tradition; it is the absence of a policy. That is what is now being remedied. However, to say, as has been said, that economic circumstances would act as an automatic regulator of a rise and fall in immigration is surely once more not a policy; it is merely a case of drifting and hoping for the best.
My Lords, I belong to a school which seems to be growing extinct: I believe in a Government governing. Surely the way to avoid any question of racial discrimination and consequent bitterness is to do as this Government now propose to do in this Bill, and take power to regulate the influx of Commonwealth immigrants, whether white or coloured, by the standard of whether their entry will benefit this country: in other words, whether they can be integrated easily into our community.
We have been told in every direction, in the Press and elsewhere, that this Bill is a blow to the Commonwealth and will strain its fragile structure. The ties of the Commonwealth must indeed be fragile if they are strained by so sane and necessary a Bill as this, a Bill which merely brings to life in this country the dormant powers of control over Commonwealth immigration which, as I have already said, every other member of the Commonwealth possesses and uses. As we know, the real ties which hold the Commonwealth together are completely unaffected by this Bill.
What are these ties? In brief, they are three: a deep-rooted belief in certain principles of liberty, justice and human rights; an enlightened self-interest, the members finding the company congenial for the defence of their common interests, for the preservation of certain common 77 principles of life, and far the pursuit of the welfare of their people; and, last but not least, a deep respect for the Crown, which is quite separate from any views they may hold from time to time on Her Majesty's Government, whatever may be its political complexion. Those are the things which hold the Commonwealth together. I, as an Englishman, believe that our Government should give first priority to the welfare of its own people, having due regard at the same time to the interests of the Commonwealth, and within that priority do all that it can for members of the Commonwealth and mankind. But do for Heaven's sake! let us stop prating about our duties to other people and what we owe to mankind, forgetting, in the process, the duty and the responsibility which we owe to our own people. In the long view, I believe it would be found that what conduced to the welfare of the United Kingdom would not be inimical to the wider interest of the Commonwealth.
The famous principle preached by Lord Lugard and followed by the Colonial Service set out similar priorities. We believed in these priorities, worked by them: first of all, the welfare of the country you served, and then that of mankind. That was the order of priority. No doubt in a perfect world the two would coalesce, but until that remote day dawns it is better to follow this principle, which was put in a personal way long ago by Shakespeare, when he said:To thine own self be trueAnd it must follow as the night the dayThou cans't not then be false to any man.We have heard during this debate, and elsewhere from time to time, about putting this matter to a Commonwealth Conference. Have those noble Lords who make this suggestion reflected on what you would put to the Commonwealth Conference? Would you humbly ask the members whether they would like to interfere in our affairs and dictate to us what we should do over policies of this kind?
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, as one of those guilty of making that suggestion may I interrupt my noble friend? I was thinking in terms of putting to the Conference the question of the administration of the Bill, to see how the administration of the Bill would 78 work and whether any improvements in its administration could be suggested. I was not thinking in terms of a reference over policy.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, I apologise for having misunderstood the noble Lord. I am not at all sure that another noble Lord did not suggest that we ought to have this matter discussed. I personally feel that no greater charge of dynamite could be put into a Commonwealth Conference than to ask for its views on the subject of immigration and the rules which should govern it. I have been rather tired of hearing all about colour prejudice. One or two noble Lords seem to have wallowed in a bath of colour prejudice misrepresentation of this Bill. After all, this Bill is, in its ultimate effect, as I see it, a contribution to racial amity, in that it takes cognisance of the social and administrative problems accompanying immigration on a large scale, and endeavours by control to minimise the unhappiness and discomfort which must result from indigestible numbers.
My Lords, I hope that in expressing my support for this Bill I am immune from any personal accusation of colour prejudice. I have so many non-European friends in so many countries of the Commonwealth, and I have a sympathetic understanding of their difficulties. But I am sure they will understand the desire to meet and safeguard what is ultimately in the best interests of immigrant and host in this Bill. One does not strengthen the Commonwealth by weakening oneself, and one does not set an example of good Government by shirking any problem in which one's friends are involved. In my view there is no greater enemy to Commonwealth solidarity than misdirected sentiment.
So many of the present immigrants come from the West Indies that perhaps I may conclude with a final word about them. It so happens that I number many of the leading political figures in the West Indies among my personal friends, and I believe that they expressed deep feelings about this Bill when it was first introduced in its original shape, before its working was fully explained to them in detail and before one was given the White Paper to make it even clearer. I think they misinterpreted its purpose and its purport. Jamaica, in particular, 79 has for many years suffered from a birth rate which makes increasingly insoluble the problem of finding work for the rising generation. The anxiety of the Premier is quite understandable, but, while the outlet provided by immigration to this country is not being shut off, it cannot hope to provide a permanent solution for so great a problem as that. Other solutions nearer home in the West Indies must obviously be sought.
I should like to quote, as an instance of how much more benign a view this Government is taking in this Bill than many of the Commonwealth countries take, the latest Canadian movement on this question, which came into effect, I believe, from February 1 of this year. Briefly it is this. Any person in any country of the world who can satisfy the Immigration Department on two points will be admissible to Canada. These points are, first, that he has the education, training, skills, or other special qualifications, to become established successfully in Canada; second, that he has a specific job waiting for him, or will be able to support himself in Canada until he finds work; or, alternatively, that a relative who is a Canadian citizen is prepared to sponsor him. No one will be considered legally inadmissible because of nationality, racial background or colour of skin. Everyone will be judged by the same standard: what he can contribute to Canada, and whether he can fit into that society. My Lords, the Bill before us is more lenient than that, as any study of it and the White Paper will show. In conclusion I support the Bill.
§ 6.54 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I had not intended to speak in this debate and I assure noble Lords that I intend to keep the House for only two minutes. But, having listened to so much of the debate, I feel I must say one very brief word, without going into any details, in favour of the Bill. The Leader of the House will know already, I think, that this is no new subject to me. I was worried at the increasing influx of migrants even while I was still in the Government, and I still believe that Ministers would have found their task much easier if they had acted then instead of leaving it until now. But I am 80 quite sure that the longer they leave it the more difficult it will become.
If there were any reason to suppose that there was any likelihood of the flow of migrants slackening, that would perhaps be good reason for pausing; but no one this afternoon, not even those noble Lords who have spoken against the Bill, have suggested that there is likely to be a pause. All they have said, in effect, is that the average rate of influx has been, up to now, about 60,000 a year—I have tried to take a conservative figure—and, what is so very dreadful about that? Nothing is perhaps so very dreadful about that for a short period of years, but in ten years even 60,000 a year means 600,000 people, apart from children, and some of these migrants have a great many children. Six hundred thousand means an addition of one in ten to the whole population of this already very over-crowded island.
I have been told that the Bill means breaking with an age-long tradition. I am a life-long Conservative and do not like breaking with tradition, but one must be realistic, and this tradition dates back to a time when conditions were entirely different from what they are today. At that time it was very difficult for most migrants to pass from one part of the Commonwealth to another. The ships were small and hideously uncomfortable, the voyages long, often extremely hazardous and horribly expensive; and when they arrived the outlook was not very good, for at the time when the tradition began there were practically no social services, or at least only very elementary ones; and if a man became unemployed his situation was likely to be deplorable. There was not so much to tempt him; there were no great prizes to be gained. But, now, anyone who can borrow comparatively little money can come here in a very few days, and even in a very few hours, and can get all the benefits of a Welfare State with the best system of social services in the world, which we are proud to have.
In a world so different as that, surely to say that we must not even consider a readjustment of our attitude to an age-long tradition and consider some measure of limitation of Commonwealth migration, is not merely conservative; it is anachronistic. My Lords, believe me, we are going to have to do something like 81 this sooner or later—and, personally, I believe at a very early date—whatever we decide now. I have been much struck by the fact that most of the opponents of the Bill have spoken only of the present, saying that the Bill is not necessary now, and so on. But surely, my Lords, the task of statesmanship is not to live in the present but in the future. It is for that reason I should like, if I may, to congratulate the Government on grasping the nettle, a rather unpleasant stinging nettle, and introducing the Bill now. By doing so, I believe they are rightly interpreting the views of a great majority of the nation.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ BARONESS WOOTTON OF ABINGER
My Lords, before listening to this debate I was in some doubt whether this Bill should be greeted more in sorrow than in anger, but I have seen this afternoon that that sorrow is at least spread over every part of your Lordships' House. Those who have spoken from every side—from the Government side, from the Benches on which I myself sit, and from the Cross Benches—have all expressed reluctance and regret that this Bill might be a necessity. I think we welcome particularly the regret that was expressed, and indeed even deepened by the addition of an adjective, by the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop; although as a result of this we were treated, in the course of an interchange with the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, to the not unfamiliar spectacle of a conflict of doctrine in a Christian Church.
My Lords, the sorrow is felt in this House; the anger will be felt more widely in the Commonwealth. Your Lordships need have no doubt about that. This prophecy, that the anger will be felt in the Commonwealth, will be fulfilled in the course of the next few weeks, and will be enhanced when members of the Commonwealth throughout the world are able to read what has passed in your Lordships' House. They will find no more powerful expression for their feelings than the moving speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Colyton.
The Bill is not only ill-conceived in its nature; it is particularly unfortunate in its timing. It affects particularly the West Indies, as has been said more than once, and the West Indies have at the moment a grave crisis of their own; a 82 crisis in which some of them are again disposed to believe that they have been abandoned by the British Government, because some of them believe that the British Government have unnecessarily and too rapidly jettisoned the whole conception of a West Indies Federation. It is ill-timed, because it coincides with the negotiations for the entry of this country into the Common Market. It will be all too easy for members of the Commonwealth to say that the United Kingdom prefers to be dragged at the tail of the quarrelsome Europeans, with whom they have recently been at war, than to concede the privileges of brotherhood to their own fellow citizens in the world.
It has been said repeatedly that other members of the Commonwealth impose restrictions on immigration, and that these include restrictions on their fellow Commonwealth members. That is true, but they are practically all young and developing economies. In all their cases, the ratio of immigration to the ratio of settled population is much higher than it is in a mature economy such as our own. Some of your Lordships have spoken as if we have kept open door for all comers and as though this was not a special privilege that we keep for the members of our own family. I think the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, remarked that we were forty years behind the United States in attempting to close the door towards immigration. Rightly or wrongly, I think that that is not so. We have discrimination already. We have restriction upon the immigration of alien people. The true parallel with the United States is not with the restrictions which they impose upon us; it is in their relationship with such territories as Puerto Rico, where they have an exactly parallel problem which they have not yet treated in this same way.
§ BARONESS WOOTTON OF ABINGER
It is hardly of the same size, but it is the same in principle. It has given rise to very much the same type of debate. The United States so far shows some disposition to treat this difficulty in due course by conferring statehood upon territories which have previously been in a dependent position. In any case, we all know very well that we expect to 83 confer upon our sons and daughters particular privileges that we do not give to all the strangers who may present themselves at our gates.
We find it quite inexplicable that Her Majesty's Government should have introduced this Bill, without having the whole matter fully discussed up and down the Commonwealth, with the Commonwealth Governments concerned. The Home Secretary said in another place that we should be in close contact with the Governments affected—using the future tense. He said that the whole matter would be hereafter fully discussed. But of prior consultation there has apparently been none, and I think that this will be one of the deepest and severest shocks to our Commonwealth relationships. My Lords, this is panic legislation. It is panic legislation, because no one has yet established the necessity for it. It is not legislation, as the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, suggested, for a situation of "dire necessity" which might arise in the future. It is legislation introduced in 1962 and due to expire in 1963. It is legislation for the immediate present.
The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, said he could envisage a situation in which we should all feel that legislation of this kind was necessary. My Lords, we can all envisage situations. I can envisage a situation in which the pressure of population in some of the West Indian islands might be relieved by migration to the moon. Much play has been made, both in another place and here, with the fact that under our present law one-quarter of the world's population is entitled to come here. My Lords, they show no signs of coming here; when they do, perhaps we may think about it. The noble Lord, Lord Elton, said we were moving towards a crisis. Where is the crisis? The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, described what would happen in ten years' time. I think I have his figures correctly, and he said that if we had a population of 60 million and were receiving 60,000 a year, there would be one in ten—
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I must apologise for a most 84 ridioulous and elementary fault in my arithmetic.
§ BARONESS WOOTTON OF ABINGER
A little fault between 10 per cent. and 100 per cent.—again, a fanciful situation that we envisage.
§ BARONESS WOOTTON OF ABINGER
Many statistics have been quoted but, significantly, the only really relevant statistics have not been mentioned. We speak about the threat to employment, we speak about the swelling tide of immigration. These figures we accept. But the figures which have not been quoted are those which show that the figures of diminishing unemployment exactly coincide in time with the rising tide of immigration. In the three years in which we have had a growing inward balance of immigration, we have had a markedly declining volume of unemployment; from 512,000 in 1959 to 376,000 in the year of maximum immigration, 1961. It has been said that there were 32,000 coloured unemployed. My Lords, there are 24 million people gainfully employed in this country, and one would expect a certain proportion of those who come as strangers to take a little time to find jobs. This unemployment in the course of job finding is an inevitable consequence of any immigration. Thirty-two thousand is a risible figure in comparison with an employed population of 24 million. We know how much we owe to the immigrants from all parts of the Commonwealth, who have contributed to fill the jobs that some of us are reluctant to take; jobs in building, jobs in hotels, jobs in kitchens—including your Lordships' catering department—jobs in transport, and also jobs in sewerage.
It may be that this Bill will keep immigrants out. It may be that it will not keep immigrants out. I think the employment figures which I have quoted suggest that the tide of immigration regulates itself pretty accurately by the possibilities of employment in this country. If the Bill does not keep the immigrants out, it will at least subject them to an immense amount of bureaucratic inquisition. Think of some of the questions that will have to be asked of some 85 of the prospective immigrants. The wife of a person who has settled here is to be admitted and, with a commendable anthropological understanding, Her Majesty's Government recognise that the formalities of marriage are not always the same in some parts of the Commonwealth as they are in this country. It is therefore added that a woman who has been living in permanent association with a man, even if not married to him, should for this purpose be treated as a wife. My Lords, this was a familiar problem in connection with Army separation allowances in this country, but this did not necessitate inquiries many thousands of miles away as to how permanent the association was and what was its nature.
There are some other curiosities in the instructions which I hope the noble and learned Viscount, when he comes to reply, will perhaps clear up. A wife, if she comes here, is apparently entitled to come without question, provided she can establish her wifely position; but, with a curious access of feminist zeal, Her Majesty's Government have provided in the instructions that a husband is to come only provided there is reason to suppose that the wife wants her husband to rejoin her. My Lords, I will not pursue this, but will merely ask the House to consider, in all seriousness, the kind of intimate, detailed inquiries about an individual's personal and family life, as lived thousands of miles away, that the execution of the instructions will involve. I hope that when the noble and learned Viscount comes to reply he will perhaps be good enough to say whether the wife referred to in Clause 6 (2) (c) of the Bill is also to include what I may call the Common Law wife.
In any case, my Lords, the Irish loop-hole makes nonsense of the whole Bill. The Irish contingent of immigrants exceeds any other numerically; and the Government's attitude towards the Irish contingent is, if I may so put it, decidedly Irish. What they say is that, for administrative reasons, it is not possible to control the Irish immigration, but when it is necessary then they will do it. This astonishing, miraculous power on the part of Her Majesty's Government in giving an estimation of the number of immigrants and condi- 86 tions ten or more years hence is indeed an impressive and rather startling development. Of course, the truth of the matter is that if the Bill is effectively exercised against immigrants from the Commonwealth, the Irish, with their accustomed shrewdness, will fill the gaps that are left by the West Indians, the Pakistanis and the Indians. They will do that no better and no worse; but this makes nonsense of the argument that the housing problem is the real reason, because, after all, even the Irish live in houses—at least, when they come to this country.
My Lords, in all seriousness, no one who has listened to this debate could doubt that there is, if not racial prejudice, at least the fear of racial prejudice behind this Bill. Think of some of the things that have been said this afternoon. The noble Lord, Lord Auckland, proposed that there should be a direction of labour for coloured immigrants: he did not say "for immigrants". The discussion has been almost entirely in racial terms. The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, said—and never a truer word was spoken in a debate—that if the subject of racial discrimination for immigration were raised at a Commonwealth Conference, it would be a charge of dynamite; and a charge of dynamite is what it is. The noble Lord, Lord Elton, said that we were creating an ulcerous growth of major racial problems—an expression which I think, if he will allow me to say so, is calculated to give very great offence throughout the Commonwealth.
As the noble Lord, Lord Coutanche, was speaking, I could not help wondering (the more so since I share with him the honour of descent from the Island of Jersey) what our attitude would have been if, by some magic, the Island of Barbados and the Island of Jersey changed places overnight and we were to find ourselves with a coloured population in the Island of Jersey and a white population in the Island of Barbados. Whether in that case we should accepted so blithely that the position of the Channel Islands was secured, I do not know.
My Lords, some of the differences between human groups are visible, some are invisible. I think we tend to pay far too much attention to the visible and accidental, and to assume that they 87 correspond to deep inward differences of character, behaviour and quality. Among the invisible differences are differences in the blood groups to which we are all assigned, and I sometimes wonder what would have happened if our respective blood groups were apparent upon our countenances: if, for instance, those of us who belong to blood group "A" were born with a large "A" on our foreheads—
§ BARONESS WOOTTON OF ABINGER
It would be convenient—and if those who were born with blood group "B" carried a large "B" conspicuously marked. I have no doubt at all that, if that were so, all the things that have been said about tensions and all the things which have been said about self-contained communities would have been said about the blood groups. It is merely because these factors of skin colour happen to be visible that we have built up this preposterous notion that we are dealing with different varieties of human beings.
We are an insular community; we are an island; and, my Lords, we are often justly accused of the insularity of our outlook. The best cure for an insular outlook is to live in a mixed community and to learn that your neighbours of different appearance, different geographical origin and sometimes, though not very often, different language, can nevertheless be members of the same community as yours. The right of fellow members of the Commonwealth freely to come and go from this Island is a precious relic of freedom in a world in which such liberties are all too rapidly disappearing. With the loss of that freedom, many of us will feel a loss of the pride which we have long cherished in our passports, which describe us as citizens of the United Kingdom and the Colonies.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I am not quite sure whether this is the first time upon which the noble Baroness who has just resumed her seat has addressed us from the Front Bench, but it is, I am almost certain, the first time that I have had to reply to her after she has done so. I should therefore like 88 to take the opportunity, if she will allow me, of welcoming her to that position, and also to congratulate her on a characteristically charming and graceful performance.
I should also like to say what a pleasure it is to see my noble friend Lord Salisbury back again in our midst. We have all missed him very much, and sometimes have been a little worried by the accounts in the Press of his health. I hope that the fact that he is with us again is a sign that he is now, or soon will be, fully restored to his customary vigour. I was indeed glad on this occasion, at any rate, to know that his support for the Government was almost unqualified. I think, too, that this is almost the first time that the most reverend Primate has spoken from his present position in the Chair of Augustine. It seems almost yesterday that I was congratulating him on his maiden speech as Lord Archbishop of York, but at any rate I should like to welcome him in his new capacity to our debates, although unfortunately at this hour I am not able to do so in person.
My Lords, of the various speeches we have heard while we have debated this great matter this afternoon, all except four have been speeches in support of the Bill, and I think that, on the whole, this corresponds very closely to the feeling of public opinion about it. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, who spoke first from the Opposition Front Bench, charged my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack with not having his heart fully behind the Bill. I think, with respect, he was referring to my noble and learned friend's truthful statement of the reluctance which the Government felt about bringing in the Bill. But I can assure the noble Lard, Lord Silkin, that there is no doubt whatever about the Government's belief in the Bill: that it is an absolutely necessary measure, and that there is no qualification at all about our feeling in that respect.
Indeed, I could not help suspecting that there was a certain half-heartedness about the Opposition's dislike of the Bill, in spite of the strong terms in which some of the criticisms were phrased. Because it was very noteworthy that the invitation which was extended to the Opposition by my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye to declare whether or not, if returned to power, they would 89 repeal the Bill, was not in fact answered by any Opposition speaker. Nor, indeed, when the same question was put in another place was it answered—at least, not in an intelligible form, although, in an unintelligible form, some answer was given by the official Opposition speaker. I am perfectly sure that they will not find it possible to repeal this measure; or, if they do, that they will not meet with popular approval.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, I can at least promise this in advance: that is, that, instead of bringing it in in the way that this Government have done, we shall consult with the representatives of the various members of the Commonwealth in a proper and adequate manner.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I will deal at an appropriate moment in my speech with the point made by the noble Viscount. I am now concerned to answer the charge which the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, made, and which I thought was repeated in a slightly different form by the noble Baroness: that—to use the noble Baroness's phrase—this is panic legislation, or, as the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, put it, legislation which originated under pressure of racial propaganda. I must say that I reject this charge. Like the noble Marquess below the gangway, I have been acquainted with this problem for quite a number of years. I can say of my own knowledge that which was said by my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack, and, by inference, by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury: that this matter has been considered for a very long time. And, as my noble friend Lord Elton reminded us, it has been kept under review for a very long time. We introduced this Bill with reluctance, but with complete conviction. What caused us to introduce it was not the propaganda or the pressure to which the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, referred. We were, of course, quite aware of this pressure; but what caused us to introduce this measure was the figures and the facts to which my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack adverted in his opening speech.
So far as the propaganda and the pressure are concerned, the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, mentioned two names from another place. I will not refer to them, 90 but I think it is fair to say, so far as the Government are concerned—or, at any rate, so far as I am concerned—that that pressure and propaganda were entirely counter-productive of the object which they were intended to achieve. So far from rendering the Government's action more likely, they made it more difficult for the Government to act; and we have ultimately been compelled to act by the circumstances of the case. We were, of course, well aware of the kind of criticism and misrepresentation to which we should be subjected if we were compelled to act in this way; and although I would not agree with my noble friend below the gangway that we acted too late, at the same time I would frankly confess that, so far from yielding to or being affected by the propaganda or pressure in favour of this measure, we have been influenced very strongly by what we knew would be the misrepresentations of our action that would be widely made, both in this country and in the world at large, should we find it necessary to take the course we have taken.
My Lords, I will not embark upon the dispute which broke out between the most reverend Primate and my noble friend Lord Hawke as to what the most reverend Primate had really said. His was the only speech of which I can truthfully say that I was not quite sure whether it was in favour of the measure or against it. He called it a lamentable Bill, but I understood from that phrase that he meant a Bill the necessity for which was lamentable. However, his words are frankly capable of both constructions, and as he is not here to explain them I think we must leave him sitting on the fence. But, my Lords, I am afraid it was the wrong fence, if there was a fence to sit on at all—I am not sure that there was. Because what the most reverend Primate appeared to be arguing, so far as I understood his intervention in the discussion, was that what had rendered this Bill necessary, if it was necessary, was our failure to conduct adequate social measures at home. He used the phrase "within the country"—exactly the opposite point to that which was made by my noble friend Lord Colyton in his speech, to which I shall refer in a moment.
As I see it, the truth is exactly the contrary to what the most reverend 91 Primate appeared to believe. The causes which have ultimately led to the introduction of this Bill are not the problems with which we have failed to deal, but the very adequate and attractive way in which we have dealt with a great number of them. For the truth is, my Lords, that this is an Island to which thousands wish to come to live because they hope to find here life, liberty and the means to the pursuit of happiness. And there exists life, liberty, and the means to the pursuit of happiness, to such a degree that they come crowding in whenever they can. This is something of which, on the whole, we can be both proud and glad. And though we may regret the necessity which compels us to adopt controls, surely the fact that so many people wish to come here that we have to control numbers, or at least seek powers to do so, is something which points to the fact that, of all places in the world, there are few so fine to live in as our Island of Britain. Others have to build walls to keep their citizens in. We are compelled, somewhat against our will, to erect a gate to control the rate of flow at which they strive to enter. Of course, if, as both the most reverend Primate and I should wish to see, we were still further to improve the social conditions in this country, as we certainy hope to do, the attraction to members of the Commonwealth and others to come into it would be even greater, and not, as I would suggest, and as the most reverend Primate appeared to think, somewhat less.
It is worth while saying that those who wish to come here are not confined to members of the Commonwealth; nor are they the members of a single race. Our tradition of liberality has not been confined in the past only to members of the Commonwealth. In the past we have sheltered Huguenots and Jews, the victims of persecution in their own lands. We have welcomed Poles, Hungarians, Czechs, Germans and Italians; and today all these, in one way or another, enrich our national life, and in many cases bring skills to us which are sorely needed. I thought the reference which the noble Baroness made to what she suggested other people would call the "quarrelsome Europeans" was, perhaps, a little below the standard of the rest of her admirable speech. We are proud—
§ BARONESS WOOTTON OF ABINGER
My Lords, would the noble Viscount dispute the fact that in his lifetime and mine there have been a considerable number of quarrels, of a rather sanguinary character, among Europeans?
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, the quarrelsomeness which the noble Baroness attributes to Europeans can be attributed to every nation so far that has come from the seed of Adam.
§ BARONESS WOOTTON OF ABINGER
My Lords, does the noble Viscount not recognise the distinction: that the quarrels and bloodshed among Europeans have greatly exceeded those which have occurred among members of the Commonwealth?
My Lords, would the noble Baroness say that the quarrels have been any less in those portions of the Commonwealth from which the noble Baroness seeks unlimited entry?
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I would only say that I cannot accept what the noble Baroness says, which is simply to be derogatory to European culture and to underestimate the contribution to human progress of such men as Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare and Milton, and the authors of the Authorised Version of the Bible.
§ BARONESS WOOTTON OF ABINGER
My Lords, I think the noble Viscount has "got me wrong". What I said was what would be said in the Commonwealth; and it will be.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, when the noble Lady comes to see in the OFFICIAL REPORT What I said about her, I think that she will see that I acknowledged that, and I do acknowledge it gracefully again; but her last reference—not so much her original statement as her intervention—seemed to me greatly and unfairly derogatory to European culture.
But the feeling that we should have to immigrants is one of friendship. It is a fine thing that they want to come and make their living with us. It is a compliment which we are entitled to appreciate and which we do appreciate. I think that this point was made by numerous noble Lords on both sides and I would only underline what they have said. When 93 immigrants come here, we want to see them properly welcomed. We want to see them properly housed, properly employed. We want no bad relations when they come here. We want friendship and neighbourliness. But, as my noble friend Lord Hemingford pointed out in what I thought was an admirable contribution earlier on in the debate, this is, in short, the argument for the Bill. This country is so greatly sought after by persons of all races that it is utterly indefensible that persons of any race should be able to come here except with some limitation of numbers and conditions.
There has been reference to the policy of the open door. It has been said that under this Bill the door will be open, but the situation for which noble Lords opposite appear to be contending is not that there should be an open door, but that there should be no door at all. If we are to keep our policy of the open door, surely we must not be denied as a people what every independent sovereign nation is allowed—the right to control immigration for ourselves, in order that we may pursue the liberal policy to which we are all wedded, in an atmosphere of friendship and good will. Surely this is the answer to what the noble Lord, Lord Walston, called "the moral indictment" of the Bill. What the Opposition are really arguing for is the denial to the British people of a right which every other nation claims for itself.
It has been said by the noble Baroness and other speakers that, so far, immigration has not set us really serious problems, and I think that this is true. Immigrants have largely been absorbed into employment. Considering the rate at which they have been coming in, there is extraordinarily little, if any, racial feeling inside the country, but there is no doubt that immigration can create problems. It can create problems of crime. One has only to look at the article in to-day's Times to realise that there can be some problem of this kind. It can create problems of employment. My noble and learned friend who sits on the Woolsack cited certain figures with regard to that. After the recent outbreak of smallpox, nobody can deny that it can create problems of health. It certainly can create serious problems of housing, as the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, conceded.
94 Without the Bill, we have no power to deal with any of these things. Is it really going to be argued that we have to wait until these problems are acute and perhaps insoluble before we take enabling powers? Is it really going to be said that this is the way to strengthen the Commonwealth tie or promote good relations between peoples of different racial origins? If good relations between Commonwealth countries are the test, I should have thought that it would have been far more invidious to act when the situation had become acute. Do we have to wait for feeling to get bad before we handle this problem with courage and with charity? I should have thought, in contradiction to those, on both sides, who have suggested that the timing of the Bill is bad, that now is the time. My noble friend Lord Salisbury has said that the longer we leave this problem, the harder it will become to deal with; and I think that this is the true view. Now we can conscientiously say that we want immigrants and welcome them, and that their labour is useful.
I should think that our assumption of powers which we do not at present have, but which have been generally welcomed, to deport and prohibit undesirables, so far from damaging relations within the Commonwealth and between races, would, on the whole, tend to improve them; because the use of these powers will give the lie to those who slander immigrants as criminals, as unhealthy or as doing natural-born British people out of a job. I believe that it is very largely the absence of powers which has led to such scares and unease as have taken place already.
I would agree with my noble friends, Lord Milverton and Lord Elton, in their assessment of the situation, that so far from weakening the Commonwealth ties, this Bill will tend to improve them, if, as my noble friend Lord Salisbury suggested, we look to the future and do not regard simply the present. There is this to be said about the public relations aspect of this matter, which I am sure has preoccupied noble Lords on the opposite side of the House. I understand public relations to be that, once you have established what is the right thing to do, you use public relations as a means of explaining what you are doing and justifying it. But I believe 95 that nowadays many people use public relations as an excuse for "funk", for refusing to deal with a difficult situation because they know they will be misunderstood.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, is that why the Government did not discuss these matters in detail first, before legislation, in an actual conference of the Prime Ministers of this great Commonwealth?
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I have told the noble Viscount that I will not forget to deal with that point before I sit down, but at this stage I am concerned to deny the suggestion that there is any racial discrimination in this Bill.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, used the term "colour bar" in connection with it. This is—I pause while I think of some suitably moderate phrase to use—this is contrary to the facts; and I feel more confidence in respectfully contradicting the noble Earl because it was a phrase which my noble friend Lord Colyton employed from this side of the House. In many ways, as my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack said in opening, the Bill would have been simpler if there had been some kind of discrimination in it; but we have from the first set our face against quotas or territorial discrimination.
When I deny that there is any racial discrimination or colour bar here, it is not simply to say that a West Indian or Pakistani or Indian will be treated just the same as an Australian or a New Zealander or a Canadian, although this should alone be enough to refute the charge of a colour bar; it is that he will be treated better—miles better—than a German, a Norwegian, an American, an Italian, an Argentinian or a Frenchman, both before arrival and after entry into this country. The German needs a labour permit. There is no escape clause for him on the ground of skill. Above all, there is no third and indeterminate class, in which immigrants will be accepted on the principle of "First come, first served." Even a job will not secure a foreigner a permit, unless no indigenous labour is available.
Thus the principle of Commonwealth preference is maintained and continues under the Bill. If it affects colour at all, 96 it affects it only to the extent that members of the Commonwealth who happen to be from the West Indies or the Indian sub-continent have got in so much more easily than immigrants from Europe, and under the Bill they will be deprived of a very small part of the privilege they enjoy at the moment over all European immigrants and all immigrants from the Northern part of America, and will still be miles better off after the Bill has been passed than any alien European, Asian or African. So much for the charge that this Bill has a colour element in it.
I feel that I ought, as several noble Lords have referred to it, to answer the suggestion that this is a singularly ill-timed measure, having regard to the negotiations on the Treaty of Rome. I should like, if I may—my noble friend Lord Colyton was one of those who made this point—to refer to the Article in the Treaty of Rome to which reference was made, because if one looks at its terms one sees really that the point is without foundation.
The Article in question is Article 48, and if I may I would refer quite briefly to what it says and comment upon it afterwards. It says1. The free movement of workers shall be ensured within the Community not later than at the date of the expiry of the transitional period.That is, I think, a period of twelve years. It goes on:2. This shall involve the abolition of any discrimination based on nationality between workers of Member States as regards employment, remuneration, and other working conditions.3. It shall include the right, subject to limitations justified by reasons of public order, public safety and public health:It follows, I should have thought, from a proper reading of that Article, quite apart from the obvious point that it relates to a period of twelve years 97 from the time when the transitional period began, that the whole of the free movement which is referred to is subject to reasons of public order, public safety, and public health, and basically dependent upon the acceptance of offers of employment actually made. That means, quite apart from any other consideration, that the position of members of the Commonwealth under this Bill is at least as favourable as, and in two respects actually much more favourable than, that for which the Treaty of Rome provides. Because, in addition to the acceptance of offers of employment actually made, this Bill allows for peculiar skills, and also provides for the particular class or element to which my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack referred in opening, and which, as I have said, is numerically by far the most important class—those who have no particular skills, no offers of employment actually made, but who are brought in on the basis of "First come, first served."
- (a) to accept offers of employment actually made;
- (b) to move about freely for this purpose within the territory of Member States;
- (c) to stay in any Member State in order to carry on an employment in conformity with the legislative and administrative provisions governing the employment of the workers of that State; and
- (d) to live, on conditions which shall be the subject of implementing regulations to be laid down by the Commission, in the territory of a Member State, after having been employed there."
It is true, of course, as several noble Lords have said, that to some extent the Irish, as they sometimes do, have succeeded in getting the best of both worlds. I do not deny that fact. But the Irish are covered by the Bill; they will be subject to the same rules as to deportation and, should our needs demand it, can be made subject to the same controls on entry. In fact they are subject in exactly the same way as other people to control unless they come in direct from Ireland.
§ LORD COLYTON
My Lords, may I interrupt for one moment? Can my noble and learned friend explain what he means by, "should our needs demand it?"
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
I should have thought that that was at least a phrase which was fairly capable of being understood without further explanation.
It is true that to a large extent we expect to be administering the Bill differently towards the Irish. But this is because we choose to take account, as my noble and learned friend said, of the facts of life—the facts of geography and history which are inescapable and which mean, as a matter of administrative prudence, that in order to administer the Bill in relation to the Irish we should be compelled to submit our own people 98 to a degree of surveillance and supervision which the needs of the case simply do not warrant. There are more—or at least as many—of Irish origin living on this side of St. George's Channel than the other. I fancy that there are as many people who would think themselves Irish in Liverpool, Glasgow or London as there are in Dublin, Cork or Wexford.
If Mr. or Mrs. Flanagan, or Mr. or Miss Rafferty, wishes to slip over from London or Liverpool or Glasgow to Dublin to visit his or her parents for Christmas, or to attend a football match, is it to be said that the whole apparatus of administrative officialdom is to be called into play? How are you going to tell the difference between Murphy of Belfast, Murphy of Cork, or Murphy two generations in Wapping or Shettleston? No doubt it can be done, but I am bound to ask: is it worth it? I would seriously ask those who have injected the Irish into this discussion, including my noble friend, how far they are concerned to punish the Irish for their nationality and contrariness and how far to help the West Indians, and how far they have really regarded the simple facts of life and geography. For, despite Mr. de Valera, the existence of the British Islands is a fact of geography—and a large and heterogeneous population of Irish expatriates here is a fact of life.
I would myself agree in this connection with the criticism of this part of the Opposition's case which I thought was so devastatingly made by the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, in which it seems to me that the attempt to inject the Irish into this system, when it can be shown that so many practical inconveniences would result, is not something that would improve racial relations or relations between Ireland and this country. It is true that this Bill represents a departure from the principle of free and uncontrolled entry, but the important thing to realise about it is that it does not represent a departure from the principles of liberal hospitality, absence of racial or religious discrimination, or of Commonwealth preference, which have hitherto characterised British policy. Commonwealth citizens will continue to have an advantage over foreigners. Immigrants will continue to come in in 99 large numbers from the West Indies, as my noble friend Lord Iddesleigh said, with much better ease than they do into New York via Ellis Island, in larger numbers than they have done, it must be said, until very recently.
The real criticism to which we shall be subjected from the people of this country is not that we shall be too stingy, but that, in the opinion of many, we shall be too generous. The one thing that we cannot compromise upon is the right of this country to manage its own affairs. Of course this is, in theory, a departure from the principle of absolutely free entry from the Commonwealth—the open door, as the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, called it. But I share the doubts of my noble friend Lord Salisbury on the question of how far that principle can now be justified, in the light of the new nature of the Commonwealth itself or of the facts of modern air transport and other matters to which he referred. After all, the new nature of the Commonwealth is based upon the independence and equality of its members.
I venture, with great humility, to suggest that this conception of independence and equality demands that, with the others, Britain too has her rights. Control of immigration is one of the inherent rights of sovereignty which nearly all the members of the Commonwealth possess and all must claim. We have outgrown the situation when a quarter of the earth's surface was administered from Whitehall and when the independent members, for all their independence, were, by reason of that very fact, small in power and influence in comparison with this Island. In the new Commonwealth, Britain must be treated as an equal and independent member, too. We are not a convenience, not a museum, not an old curiosity shop, and, above all, not an Aunt Sally to be abused at will when we do not pursue policies which are agreeable to all the other members.
As my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor said—and I should like to repeat his remarks—the Government did not decide to pass the Bill without great reluctance and without deep and prolonged consideration. To my knowledge, consideration of this topic has been going on for more than three years. Indeed, this was apparent from the 100 reference which the noble Marquess made to the time when he was in the Government, and I have no doubt that it has been going on for much longer than that. We have always, for reasons which I have explained, been concerned about it.
But it is not simply a question of figures as the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said. As the noble Marquess said, the figures are cumulative. So long as it seemed feasible to argue that the flow could be controlled by administrative arrangements made in other Commonwealth countries, many of whom, including India and Pakistan, for their own reasons, did not wish to encourage immigration, it is obvious that we were right to feel that legislation here was undesirable. What has happened in the last twelve months is not simply a huge increase for the second year in succession in the net inflow of immigrants into this country, but clear proof that the system, or that any system, of voluntary administrative control, which in 1958 and 1959 looked as if it might be going to work, has in fact broken down.
I know it has been argued by the noble Viscount opposite during the course of my speech—and I regret it—and it was also argued by the noble Baroness, that there was no adequate discussion with the Commonwealth before we embarked upon this Bill. I could not engage upon a complete discussion of this topic in complete candour without completely destroying that degree of confidentiality between Commonwealth Governments upon which all Commonwealth consultation depends. Obviously, the extent to which, and the ways in which, the citizens of individual countries are affected differs very widely, and different degrees of discussion were clearly appropriate. But I do not think that any important Commonwealth or Colonial territory could have been unaware, by the time we introduced this Bill, that if voluntary methods failed to control the volume of immigration, legislation would be necessary sooner or later. I could not help noticing, when Sir Grantley Adams, I think it was, came to this country and complained, that what he said was that he had had inadequate notice of the actual terms of the Bill. No one seems to have noticed the very careful qualifications implicit in his phraseology. It 101 was not the actual terms of the Bill, but the principle of control underlying it to which he objected.
I venture to say it is unbelievable that, after what had transpired between the British Government and the West Indies, they were not fully aware, at least from the early months of last year, both that the system of voluntary control was breaking down, if it had ever been seriously attempted in their case, or that the question of legislation was under active consideration here. I should like to add this sentence on this point. The point was so obvious that the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, when he made his speech, actually argued that the increase of immigrants which had taken place all through last year, beginning in January, was due to the fact that immigrants were seeking to pre-empt the legislation which they felt quite certain was coming in any event. How it can be suggested in those circumstances that everybody was not fully aware of what was happening so far as the West Indies is concerned, absolutely beats me.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, I have not quite got the answer to the point I have been putting to the noble Viscount. Was not this matter of the introduction of possible immigration legislation of this kind discussed at the Prime Ministers' Conference? There were complaints with regard to the Common Market when there was not adequate discussion at the previous Premiers' Conference on that matter. Here you are doing a great deal of injury to the future of the family of nations unless the Premiers' Conference can be given an adequate opportunity of discussing these matters.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
What is on the agenda of the Premiers' Conference is a matter for the Premiers to decide. But, as I said, I cannot give details of what discussions took place between individual Prime Ministers or individual Ministers without undermining the principle which we all wish to maintain. What I would say is this. In one way or another I feel quite sure that the discussions had taken place to the extent which I have indicated, either then or at other times. I did not say it was formally on the agenda of the Commonwealth Premiers' Conference, and I do not want to suggest that that was so. I 102 would simply say this. Since the introduction of the Bill, its terms have been the subject of very close consultation with all the Commonwealth members, and I think that this process of continuous consultation is probably a better way of achieving what we both desire than the machinery suggested by my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye. But I will certainly report what he said in his speech to those who are responsible for policy in that way.
I would summarise the case for the Bill in this way. This Island is a very pleasant place for human beings to dwell in. Here they come, crowding in—the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said flocking in—in such numbers that it is quite inevitable that some control will have to take place. It is demanded by our own people. It is theirs of right, as it belongs as of right to every other sovereign people in the world. If it were to be denied to our people, the cause of race relations in this Island would be sorely jeopardised. When it is established, as it will be when this Bill becomes law, it will not mean the end of our liberal policy. It is the means of our continuing our liberal policy, and probably the only means of continuing it. It retains for the people, as I have said, the principle of preference for Commonwealth subjects. It is in its very nature a Bill to take powers which, as the White Paper says, will be carefully and humanely used. Without it, we cannot exercise any proper control of immigration. With it, we have powers strictly limited in extent which we intend to exercise liberally, and which, indeed, in theory at least, we are not bound to exercise at all should it prove unnecessary. In those circumstances, I should have said that the case for the Bill was amply made out.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, I was hoping that one more point which was mentioned at one stage in the debate would be dealt with by the noble and learned Viscount. It is this. What is the opinion of the Government—and let us have it straight—of the effect of this Bill upon the desirable expressions which have been made from the other side of the development of multi-racialism in other territories in the Commonwealth still to be dealt with? Many of us are very concerned about it.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I thought I had dealt with that fairly adequately, but since the noble Viscount invites me I will simply say this. I have tried to show that there is no element of racial discrimination in this Bill at all. The provisions in the Bill do not contain any discrimination. The treatment of Commonwealth members of all races is, and will remain, superior to the treatment of aliens of all races. If it is said that we are introducing a principle of discrimination, I think I have established that such a charge is without foundation. If, on the other hand, it is said that we must desist from a policy which is necessary in our own interests simply because of misrepresentation of what it means, then I say we must face the misrepresentation, and the way in which to deal with misrepresentation is not in yielding to it, and not doing something other than you consider to be right, but in putting people's minds at rest by giving them the true facts of the case, which clearly establishes "No" on the principle of discrimination.
If it were really to be said, as the noble Viscount seems to be suggesting, that the ties of the Commonwealth are so fragile that unless we abandon the rights which every other sovereign people inside the Commonwealth claims for itself the links will be snapped—and, as my noble friend, Lord Milverton said, the links depend upon the basic similarity of outlook—then, indeed, I think it might well be necessary to feel gloomy about the future of our association. But I agree with my noble friend Lord Milverton that the true links of the Commonwealth are in the similarity of outlook based upon justice which, I believe, this Bill strictly observes.
104 On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.