§ LORD ELTON
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the second Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they realise that one of the chief obstacles to a wise handling of the problems arising from Afro-Asian immigration is the almost complete absence of the necessary Government statistics (as distinct from fragmentary evidence from voluntary organisations or local authorities) as to, for example, the birth-rate of immigrants resident in the United Kingdom, their health, their distribution and the value of the sums annually transferred by them to their countries of origin; and whether they will at least see that records of the birth-rate to resident immigrants are henceforth compiled.]
§ LORD TAYLOR
My Lords, statistics of the distribution of immigrants in Britain in 1961 are available from the 1961 Census of population, and similar figures will also be available from the Census next year. Statistics are also available from the operation of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act and more recently from the International Passenger Sample Survey of the number of immigrants coming into the whole country year by year. It would not be possible to produce statistics of the distribution of immigrants within Britain for years between Censuses without new legislation. It is expected that statistics of the birth-rate of immigrants in 1961 will become available from the 1961 Census of population at the end of this year.
Other information about the immigrants who were here in 1961, in particular their occupations and their household and family structure, will also become available from that Census and again from the 1966 Census, which is a sample Census. National morbidity and mortality statistics do not record immigrants separately from the rest of the population. As to the sums of money transferred by immigrants to their countries of origin, I have nothing to add to the Answer given to the noble Lord by my noble friend Lord Shepherd on May 11.
1163 The wise handling of the problems arising from immigration depends more on a full knowledge of the local picture by local authorities than on the collection of national statistics. The channelling of more information to local medical officers of health by port medical officers, which is now developing, will provide local authorities with a great deal more knowledge about new immigrants.
§ LORD ELTON
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that very complete range over my Question, and I will ask a supplementary about only one aspect of it, although I should like to ask about several. Does the noble Lord not realise the extraordinary importance of knowing something definite and accurate about the immigrant birth rate at times other than the Census? Does he realise, for example, that estimates of the probable future Afro-Asian population 50 years hence, from the most respectable and reliable quarters, have varied between 4 million and 10 million, and does he think that this uncertainty is a sound basis on which the Government can consider, as we understand they are considering, what further restrictions on immigration are necessary?
§ LORD TAYLOR
My Lords, I was not aware of the estimates given by the noble Lord. But to collect additional information about birth rate among immigrants would require additional legislation, and it was found in practice that the questions in the Census about birth rate relating to demographic problems were the least popular questions. I should add that I am advised that it is the general demographic experience that immigrant populations tend to assume the fertility pattern of the society into which they are assimilated.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, the Minister used the phrase "household structure". Does that refer to the house or not?
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, does the noble Lord not think that the situation now requires that all non-resident visitors to this country intending or desirous of being here more than a short time 1164 should be subject to permit with a definite limit to it, and that this should refer to all other than visitors from Europe or the white Dominions?
§ LORD TAYLOR
I think that is another question, outside the scope of the question I have been trying to answer.