§ 2.49 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE, HOME OFFICE (LORD STONHAM)
My Lords, I beg to move that the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill be read a second time. As I expect your Lordships are aware, this is something of an "all-sorts" Bill. It continues in force a miscellaneous collection of measures which would otherwise expire on the 31st of this month. It deals with immigration, horror comics, public-houses, accommodation agencies and the powers of the Ministry of Aviation. It is beyond my powers to find a coherent theme in all this, and I shall not attempt to do so.
I shall speak primarily of the two immigration measures, the Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act, 1919, and the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962. My noble friend Lord Champion, who will be winding up the debate, will discuss the other measures at whatever length the debate indicates to be necessary. He will also deal with the wider aspects of immigration; the problems of integration, housing, health and education. My purpose is to discuss the crucially important measure by which we control the admission and stay of aliens and Commonwealth citizens in this country.
First, I will say a few words about the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act 1955, because whereas all the other measures to which I have referred are hardy annuals, this Act is making its debut in an Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. It was passed ten years ago to deal with a situation created by the importation from the United States of America in the early 1950s of a large quantity of what came to be called "horror comics". Noble Lords may remember that representatives of the teaching profession and of the Church expressed concern about the effect of the comics on the impressionable minds of children. Under the Act it is an offence to print, publish or sell horror comics or to have them in possession for sale. Provisions are made for their for 10 feiture, and their importation is prohibited.
During the passage of the Bill through Parliament apprehension was expressed as to its scope and about the possibility of interference with the legitimate freedom of expression, and in deference to these opinions the Act was give a limited life of ten years. It was provided that proceedings should be brought in England and Wales only with the consent of the Attorney General. I am glad to say that the Act has been entirely successful. Importations of horror comics have ceased, and it has not been necessary to bring any prosecutions. In the circumstances, I do not think there can be any ground for complaint about the way in which the Act has been operated. However, we know that there is still in the United States of America a flourishing market for these comics and any relaxation in our law might well result in their entry into this country. Hence the Act's inclusion in the Schedule to the Bill.
Now, my Lords, for the more important matters. First, aliens. Your Lordships will have heard many times how, at the outbreak of the First World War, the Aliens Restriction Act 1914 was passed. It was more comprehensive than previous legislation and enabled the Home Secretary to impose further restrictions on all aliens in time of war, of imminent danger or of great emergency. Section 1 of the Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act 1919 provided that, for a period of one year only, the power conferred by the 1914 Act should be exercisable not only in those circumstances but at any time. This power has since been continued from year to year by successive Expiring Laws Continuance Acts. Control over aliens is at present exercised through the Aliens Order 1953 (which consolidated previous Orders), as amended by the Aliens Orders in three later years. These Orders make provisions for dealing, among other things, with the landing and embarkation of foreigners and with the control of their activities here.
The fact that the control of foreigners in peace time has for over fifty years depended upon temporary legislation has been, naturally enough, a source of criticism for many years. There is general 11 agreement that it is anomalous and illogical, that powers which seem likely to be needed for the foreseeable future should not yet have found a permanent place in the Statute Book. Year after year, for decades, the Government of the day have agreed in principle on the need for permanent legislation; but nothing has been done. The Act of 1914 is proving as durable as that other temporary, emergency, war-time measure—income tax. This Government have taken a first step toward the achievement of permanent legislation. We have set up a Committee to consider a key problem of any review of the aliens law—the possibility of giving both aliens and Commonwealth citizens a right of appeal against refusal of leave to land and deportation. As your Lordships know, the Prime Minister announced, during the debate on the Address, that a small independent Committee is to be appointed with the following terms of reference:To consider whether any, and if so what, rights of appeal or other remedies, should be available to aliens and to Commonwealth citizens who are refused admission to, or required to leave, the country ".Sir Roy Wilson, who is the President of the Industrial Court and a distinguished lawyer, has agreed to serve as the Chairman of the Committee.
No doubt we shall be told by those responsible for years of total inertia that this first step is the wrong step or that it is not a big enough step forward. We may be told that legislation should have been introduced without delay and without special consideration of the problems involved. I am sure that your Lordships will see that the study we have undertaken is a necessary preliminary to worthwhile permanent legislation. Until this Committee presents its report and a Bill can be prepared and fitted into the numerous other demands on Parliamentary time, we must either pass the Bill before us or enter the coming year with no control whatever over the admission and residence of foreigners. There is nothing in the present state of the world to suggest that this is a suitable time to dispense with this power. Security considerations are of obvious relevance; and so is the pressure of the would-be immigrants wishing to settle here for economic or social reasons. We feel 12 great sympathy for those who are driven by conditions in their own countries to try to make a better life for themselves here, but this small and overcrowded country can afford to absorb only a limited number of immigrants. In present circumstances there can be no reversion to the nineteenth century concept of the "open door", particularly when we are seeking the continuance of a power to regulate the admission of our fellow citizens from the Commonwealth.
It has been suggested, in another place, that the terms of reference of the new Committee are inadequate because they do not cover the rules which govern the admission of foreigners. But, my Lords, these rules are a matter of Government policy; the Government must have the right to decide who may enter the country and who should be excluded. The Aliens Order 1953 forbids an immigration officer, without the authorisation of the Home Secretary, to allow an alien to land in the United Kingdom in any of the following cases: if he is not in a position to support himself and his dependants; if he proposes to work and has not first obtained a labour permit; if he has been sentenced in another country for an extradition crime; if he is a person of unsound mind; or if it is certified by a medical inspector that it is undesirable for medical reasons that he should be allowed to land.
But there are certain other persons who do not fall within these categories though they may be undesirable for one reason or another. There are those, for example, who represent a threat to this country's security or whose activities are inimical to a freedom-loving society. A case in point is that of Lincoln Rockwell, the American Fascist. Then there are those with criminal propensities, such as drug traffickers, who must be refused admission. In general, the intending immigrant not eligible for settlement here under any specific head of policy is not admitted. But although we must have some control over foreigners, we must see that this control is exercised with fairness and humanity.
The effect of a decision to refuse admission to the individual foreigner or his family may be far-reaching. The most full and sympathetic consideration is always given to each case. When there is any doubt, the foreigner is invariably 13 allowed to telephone friends or relatives, or those who may speak on his behalf. In any event, the immigration officer never refuses admission on his own authority. Difficult cases are referred to the Home Office in London, and not infrequently to Ministers. I can vouch personally for the sympathy and skill with which immigration officers do their job. I have seen them at work. There is no ground at all for saying that the wide executive powers they exercise on the Home Secretary's behalf are in any way abused. A glance at the refusal figures will bear this out. Nearly 2,700,000 foreigners entered the United Kingdom in the year ended September 30, 1965, and only 4,154 were refused leave to land. This is 0.15 per cent., or one in just under 700.
Nor do we operate an illiberal policy when it comes to expelling foreigners already here who have in some way abused our hospitality. If our system of immigration control is to be effective, the Home Secretary must have the power to deport those who cheat their way into the country, or who refuse to comply with the conditions upon which they were admitted. This ultimate sanction must also be available against a foreigner who has offended against the laws of our country which has offered him a second home.
The Home Secretary never signs a deportation order without considering all aspects of each individual case. He has the final responsibility for a decision to deport, and he takes each decision personally. Every mitigating circumstance is taken into account; for instance, marriage to a British subject, a good work record, or previous long residence here. If a foreigner has lived here for two years or more and is not being deported on security grounds, he may plead his case, with legal advice if he wishes, before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate at Bow Street. And where the Chief Magistrate has disagreed with a proposal to deport, no Home Secretary has yet signed a deportation order. If a deportee wishes to go, not to his own country but to another, then everything possible is done to meet his wishes. The deportation order requires him merely to leave and stay out. If there is another country willing to receive him, he is allowed to proceed there.
14 I hope your Lordships will agree with me when I say that these procedures are far from being harsh and arbitrary. Indeed, when one considers that over 400,000 foreigners are here at any one time—and the number is probably well over half-a-million in the holiday season —then the figures of 59 deportations, covering every kind of case, made last year, and of 54 made in the first nine months of this year, can be viewed in their proper perspective. It is quite untrue to suggest that this aspect of the control, or indeed any aspect, is not exercised with the greatest sympathy and humanity.
§ LORD ROYLE
My Lords, may I interrupt my noble friend? The figures he has quoted with regard to deportations refer purely and simply to aliens and not to members of the Commonwealth? Is that right?
§ LORD STONHAM
Yes, my Lords, I am glad to make that clear. I have not yet begun to deal with the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, 1962, but I shall do so quite shortly, and I will give such figures as are available.
It is sometimes suggested that an alien who is refused leave to land, or who is deported should always be told the reason for the decision. Normally he is told, but there are cases—for example, those which involve the protection of the individual, security considerations, mental health, or crime—where disclosure would not be appropriate. By far the commonest reason for refusal of leave to land (last year it accounted for well over a third of the total) is that the foreigner has come to work without a valid labour permit. Such persons are left in no doubt about why they have been refused admission. Staff at the Home Office are instructed that if a friend or representative of a foreigner who is refused leave to land, or any other person with a legitimate interest in the case, asks the reason for the decision, he should, wherever possible, be given a clear and concise explanation. I submit that if you accept, as I think you must, that the "open door" policy is no longer a practicable policy then I think you must accept that our alien immigration policy is necessary, and it is with confidence that I ask your Lordships to agree that these provisions should be continued for another year.
15 The next question before the House is whether Part I of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, 1962 should continue in force during the coming year. I believe that the great majority of people in the country think that it should, because it is now generally agreed that there must be power to regulate the flow of immigrants from overseas into this densely populated island. Controversy starts over the extent of the powers required for this purpose and the way in which those powers are exercised. In asking the House a year ago to continue the control during 1965, my right honourable and learned friend the Home Secretary said:We must reshape our control. We must watch the problem as it develops and so shape our legislation as to deal with it in all its various phases."—[OFFICIAL RFPORT. Commons, Vol. 702, col. 289-290: 17/11/64.]The conclusions we have reached, after a comprehensive review of the control, were laid before the House in August, but as there has not yet been an opportunity for us to debate them your Lordships may now wish me to give the reasons for our decisions.
In 1964, when we took office, 55,900 Commonwealth citizens from overseas were admitted for settlement, compared with 56,071 in 1963. The total volume of immigration had thus remained at about the same level, despite the fact that the previous Government had halved the number of voucher-holders admitted—. from 30,125 in 1963 to 14,705 in 1964. That is the number of voucher holders actually admitted, as distinct from the number of vouchers issued. We therefore believed that unless new restrictions were imposed, the total volume of immigration would continue to rise at a substantial rate. The Government also found that evasion of the existing control was being practised on a considerable scale. Some would-be immigrants were claiming false relationships with Commonwealth citizens already resident here, or were falsifying their ages—29 year-olds having a very close shave and trying to come in as 16-year-olds—in order to appear to qualify for admission as dependants. Others, although fully intending to stay here, were passing themselves off as temporary visitors or students. I announced on February 4 this year that the Home Secretary was taking action 16 within the framework of the existing law to combat evasion, and made it clear that this action was being taken as an interim measure pending the outcome of the general review that the Government were conducting.
The 1962 Act gives the wife and the children under 16 of any Commonwealth citizen the right to accompany or join him here. One of the first questions that the Government had to consider in the course of their review was whether this right should be withdrawn or modified. We decided against any change, and I firmly believe that the consensus of opinion in Parliament and the country has supported our decision. It followed that any reduction in the number of Commonwealth citizens admitted for permanent settlement could be only through a reduction in the number of employment vouchers issued. In fixing the new limit on the number of vouchers, the Government had to take account of the fact that voucher-holders are usually accompanied or eventually joined by several dependants. The number of dependants still overseas who have a statutory right to join immigrants already settled here cannot be estimated with any accuracy, but last year 67 per cent. of the Commonwealth citizens admitted for settlement were dependants.
It is therefore quite wrong to suggest that we have decided to admit only 8,500 Commonwealth immigrants a year. In fact, the only numerical limit on the entry of Commonwealth immigrants is that which governs the issue of vouchers. A single voucher guarantees the admission not only of the holder but also of his wife and of any children he has under the age of 16. In addition, as I mentioned two weeks ago, the family may be joined by older children under 18 years of age who are still dependent, by elderly parents and so forth. Thus, one cannot say in advance precisely what will be the effect on the total volume of immigration of the issue of a given number of vouchers, but obviously a substantial reduction in vouchers was unavoidable, if the total volume of immigration was to be kept within manageable bounds. Even after this reduction, there is no guarantee that the total volume of immigration over the next few years will be reduced, and certainly this year the figure is likely to exceed the 1964 total.
17 It is sometimes suggested that the rate of immigration depends on the demand for labour in this country, and that it is wrong to restrict immigration because the economy here needs more workers. But in framing our policy, we must take account not only of the great usefulness of immigrant labour, which I have often gladly and gratefully acknowledged, but also of the social consequences that arise from the continued settlement of large numbers of people from overseas in areas that are already overcrowded and where the social services are already overstrained. We have the difficult task of striking a balance between the economic advantages of immigration and its social costs and we must also take account of the facilities available to immigrants when they come here, particularly the housing, education and health services.
A good deal of play has been made with the supposed contrast between the 8,500 vouchers, a year to be issued to the workers from the Commonwealth and the much larger number of foreign workers whom we admit. They totalled 42,584 last year. But this is not a fair comparison, because the majority of foreign workers do not settle here. The right comparison, comparing like with like, is between the total number of Commonwealth citizens, on the one hand, and aliens, on the other, allowed to settle permanently. For 1964, the figures are 55,900 Commonwealth citizens, of whom 14,705 were voucher-holders, as against 19,211 aliens, of whom only 9,195 were workers. And it is likely that the rate of settlement of Commonwealth citizens from overseas will continue to be substantially greater than that of aliens.
Much has also been made from time to time of the fact that we have not proposed any measures to control immigration from the Irish Republic. Indeed, I know that that has been used as the one peg on which to hang the label, which I utterly reject, of colour discrimination. I do not believe that those who criticise the Government on this point have ever stopped to think—perhaps they do not want to think—about the almost insurmountable difficulties involved in establishing any such control. The choice would lie between exercising a control on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic or controlling traffic between Northern Ireland and Great Britain as well as from the 18 Republic. Unless we were to build some sort of "Berlin wall"—it would have to be a very long one—control on the border is impracticable, because of the large number of possible crossing points and the fact that people in this country do not carry identity cards—I do not suppose that anyone wants them to. Control over traffic between Northern Ireland and Great Britain would involve people carrying passports, or some such document, to travel from one part of the United Kingdom to another. I should have thought that that was unthinkable.
It is quite untrue to say that measures specially directed to Commonwealth immigrants make any distinction between white and coloured or are inspired by racialism. The only control is a quantitative one, designed to ensure that immigration does not exceed our absorptive capacity. It is, of course, true that most of the immigrants are coloured, and if we permitted uncontrolled immigration we should strain social facilities to breaking point and ill-feeling against coloured people would inevitably result. We are all aware that in many of our towns there are streets of sub-standard property in which immigrants are crowded 20 or more to a house. For desperately overcrowded accommodation, with primitive cooking facilities, no baths and inadequate sanitation, they may have been paying each year in rent nearly as much as the house is worth. This is the only sort of place where new immigrants can find accommodation. In the face of these conditions, those who demand uncontrolled or considerably expanded immigration are doing a great disservice to immigrants already here and their dependants who are still coming and who will still be welcome, and they might indeed make a difficult situation intolerable.
To sum up, over the past year the Government undertaking to review the whole question of immigration from the Commonwealth has been fulfilled. We have not hesitated to take necessary action designed to reduce the rate of immigration. At the same time, we have preserved the right of all immigrants, past and future, to bring their immediate dependants to this country, and we have taken steps to promote the integration of the immigrants and their families into the community—and we shall take many more. in the belief that the existing 19 statutory provisions are essential, and in the hope that they will soon be improved in point of effectiveness in operation, I ask your Lordships to continue them during the coming year.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2ª.—(Lord Stonham.)
§ LORD GRANTCHESTER
My Lords, may I ask the Minister a question before he finishes with this matter? I should like to know whether any special consideration has been given to the nationals of the Council of Europe countries, who are the subject of a European Convention—a Convention which was signed eight or nine years ago by representatives of this country but which has not yet been ratified by us? Also, has any special consideration been given to the nationals of EFTA countries, with whom we have a special trade relationship; and particularly to the subject of temporary permits for the admission of students on special courses of study either from Council of Europe countries or from EFTA countries?
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, if the noble Lord's question refers to our obligations under the Human Rights Convention or to matters in the Human Rights Convention, which we have not yet ratified—
§ LORD GRANTCHESTER
No, my Lords. It relates to the European Convention on establishment, which came into force during the last year when five or six European countries had ratified it. This is a Convention that representatives of this country signed, but it has not yet been ratified by us, although it is now in force among the European countries which have ratified it. It deals with the question of the admission of nationals moving between European countries.
§ LORD STONHAM
I am hesitant to answer on any particular point at this stage; I think it would be better if I had this looked up. However, I think I ought to say that my understanding of the matter is that there is no special provision in relation to the nationals of any foreign country who wish to come to this country, or in relation to any group of countries. They must all comply with the regulations with regard to the admission of aliens which I have described.
§ LORD GRANTCHESTER
I think that is correct. But would the noble Lord look into this Convention and let me know whether he can make any observations in regard to it?
§ LORD STONHAM
I will certainly look into the matter and write to the noble Lord, but I cannot at this stage enter into any kind of commitment.
§ 3.22 p.m.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, I too, am going to talk mainly about alien immigrants and Commonwealth immigrants, but I would say first that I was glad to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, that the "horror comics" legislation had worked so well. That is a most satisfactory piece of legislation. I agree with a great deal of what the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has said, though I may have one or two final remarks that he will not like so much. However, he is used to that.
I should like to discuss the aliens immigration system and the Commonwealth immigration system together, by way of comparison, because I want to put forward certain ideas. As the noble Lord has said, alien immigrants come in under a quite different system of control from Commonwealth immigrants. Aliens who do not hold British passports are required, first of all, to hand in a landing card, and later, when they leave, an embarkation card; and that is the rule in practically all Commonwealth countries. These cards are then despatched to Princeton House, where they are alphabetically filed and paired. Seventy-five per cent.—in fact, I believe possibly a little more—of the aliens who come here are bona fide visitors; and they come and go. When, however, after a specified period, one card in the filing system is not matched with another card, chasing inquiries are then set on foot. Therefore, we know who has come in and who has gone out. There is also a need for a portion of these aliens to register with the police as a further check. The important part of this is that we have a full and proper accounting system.
With Commonwealth citizens the procedure is quite different. There is no card system, and there is at present no 21 registration. A Commonwealth immigrant, if he is a legal immigrant, comes in for life; he comes in for one job, and he can change his job. That is quite different from the aliens system. Last year the Home Secretary said:Since the control began, nearly half a million visitors have come into the country, but it is difficult for me to say what is the number who went out, because Commonwealth citizens leaving the United Kingdom are not, under the existing system of control, classified.Later he said:When they leave one does not know whether they are workers, visitors or students, because no record is kept to classify them.We have been told, in addition, that an estimated number of, I think 10,000 has come into this country illegally, evading the Commonwealth immigration laws. But we do not know even if that number is right. We do not know whether it is too small or to large, although one has a feeling that it may be rather too small. However, we do not know how many Commonwealth immigrants are in this country, whether legally or illegally. The whole position is only estimated, because we have no proper accounting system for Commonwealth immigrants. We have that system in the case of alien immigrants, but not in the case of Commonwealth immigrants.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, if I may interrupt the noble Lord, we do know how many Commonwealth immigrants are admitted to this country officially and in accordance with the Act. What we do not know precisely is how many get in illegally.
§ LORD DERWENT
But the noble Lord does not know, nor do I know, how many are now here, because we do not have a proper check when they go out. So we do not know how many are here, and what is the size of the problem.
§ LORD DERWENT
Perhaps I might continue. The noble Lord is going to speak, and he will doubtless answer me then. I want to digress for a moment on the question of Commonwealth citizens who are already here. I think it is now generally agreed, although some people may disagree, that all Commonwealth immigrants who are now legally here 22 should be allowed to remain if they want to. I think it is also now generally agreed that all dependants as described in paragraph 19 of the White Paper should be allowed to come here and remain here if the head of the family (as one might call him) is already here legally; that is to say, he should have his dependants here. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, that it would be regrettable if they could not come here. I have confirmation of that from the police in various towns, where they have less trouble—not that they necessarily have much trouble—after the family has arrived than they did before. This is an important point. But, in spite of that, we know that we have here an explosive situation on our hands. I think everybody agrees about that.
There are three reasons for this situation. The first is purely a question of numbers. We do not know how many Commonwealth immigrants are here at the moment. The estimate is something over one million—I think that is probably right, including, of course, dependants. We have this large number, and the bulk of them have come in over a comparatively short space of time. That is one of the main difficulties in this situation. Secondly, this large number of immigrants has come in over recent years, and, unfortunately but quite naturally, they are not spread about the country but have tended to settle in two or three large centres. It is the fact that they have settled in these centres, rather than spread about the country, that in many ways makes it a more difficult problem for local authorities to handle. Then, we now know from the foreign entry statistics that, on the average, there are about four dependants for each voucher holder. So that is the size of the problem.
We know in particular the appalling difficulties which local' authorities are having—and the difficulties are not getting any better at the moment—in housing and education. There are are other problems, of course, but they are the two principal difficulties of local authorities. Unless we can speedily develop a proper system of control of new entrants —not for those already here—and particularly for illegal entrants, we are making our task of integration of those already here almost impossible. I think that at any rate the Government Front Bench 23 agree with me on this, because the noble Lord, Lord Stonham (I quote from the OFFICIAL REPORT of March 10, col. 101), speaking for the Government, and therefore obviously repeating Government policy said:We are determined that the number of new immigrants shall be restricted to levels which can properly be assimilated.My first question is this: How can we tell what are the numbers that can properly be assimilated when we have no proper accounting system? As I say, we do not even know how many immigrants are in this country at the present time. We certainly know what were the Government's intentions last August, from the White Paper, Immigration from the Commonwealth. I would refer your Lordships to certain paragraphs in that White Paper. The first is paragraph 11, and that paragraph, among other things, says:… the Home Secretary … had found evidence that evasion of the existing control was being practised on a considerable scale. He was therefore instructing immigration officers to scrutinise more carefully the intentions and bona fides of Commonwealth citizens who sought entry, and to make fuller use of their power to impose conditions. One effect of the latter instruction is that students, although admitted as freely as before, are now admitted only for a specified period, which is extended if necessary so long as they are genuinely pursuing their studies.That point is taken up again in paragraph 22, which says:The Government will continue to welcome people who come from other Commonwealth Countries on holiday, social or business visits or to follow a course of studies. At the same time it is important to prevent people admitted on the pretext of a visit or a course of study from obtaining permanent settlement.How can you do that without a proper system of control and, above all, without any proper accounting system?
If your Lordships do not agree with me on what I say, I would refer you to paragraph 24, which starts:If a person admitted to this country for a limited period remains here after that period has expired, it is difficult, very often impossible, to trace him.What does admitting people for a limited period, with quite a weak system of control and with no system of accounting, mean? At the end of that paragraph we come to the first part of the Government's intentions. It reads: 24The Government propose to seek power for an immigration officer to include among the conditions on which a particular Commonwealth citizen is admitted one requiring him to register with the police.That is a power which is not necessarily enforced by the immigration officer, but it is something which they say is necessary. That means legislation.
We then go on to paragraph 25 which deals with repatriation:
At present a Commonwealth citizen may be deported only if a court has made a recommendation to that effect on convicting him of a crime punishable by imprisonment. The Government regard it as important that there should be a speedy and effective power to repatriate immigrants who in one way or another, e.g., by obtaining entry by misrepresentation or by flouting the conditions on which they were admitted, evade the stricter control over immigration that is now envisaged. Without it "—and these are important words—the effectiveness of the control would be greatly weakened. It is therefore the Government's intention to seek for the Home Secretary a general power"—in other words, more legislation.
Before I go on to the question of legislation, may I at this moment give my own personal views on two matters which I think are necessary?—and I would stress that these are my own personal views, and I am not speaking for anyone else. First of all, I believe it will be found essential to bring the Commonwealth immigration system closer to the alien system, although I do not say that it should necessarily be the same. But I think it is absolutely essential so as to have an accounting system. Secondly, I feel very strongly that at this moment, and for a period of time, except in special circumstances, we ought not to admit any more Commonwealth immigrants for permanent residence—I say advisedly "for permanent residence"—until we have looked after those already here; and we have hardly started to tackle that problem. If we allow people to come here for permanent residence in large numbers, or even quite large numbers, we shall not be able to deal satisfactorily with the people already here. I feel certain of that. That does not mean if we have a system of control we cannot allow Commonwealth immigrants in in fairly large numbers over a limited period. But we cannot do it at present because the control is not effective; an accounting system does not really exist.
25 Last Session, in August, the Prime Minister, discussing this matter and the White Paper, gave the impression that the Government thought that the legislation they required was urgent and important. He appreciated that the situation was very difficult. All of us interested in this subject confidently expected that we were going to see legislation forecast in the gracious Speech. In spite of what the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said, what has happened? The Prime Minister has swept this question under the carpet by appointing a Committee, presumably under pressure from his Left Wing. I wonder whether we ought to pass this legislation to-day until we have had from the Government some idea of when we may receive this urgent legislation—will it be this Session, or when? Or is it going to be another Steel Bill, something we are always promised by the Prime Minister, who takes jolly good care we do not get it.