HL Deb 09 March 1965 vol 264 cc27-9

3.45 p.m.


My Lords, with your Lordships' permission, I wish to repeat a Statement which my right honourable friend the Prime Minister is making in another place. It will be convenient if I use his exact words. They are as follows:

"On the 25th of February I said in answer to the honourable Member for Surbiton that the Government were urgently reviewing various aspects of immigration.

"The Government believe that the problems this country is facing in connection with immigration require an attack on three broad fronts.

"First, it is accepted in all parts of the House that once immigrants are here they should be treated for all purposes as citizens of the United Kingdom, without discrimination. The Government are not satisfied with progress in integrating Commonwealth immigrants into the community, particularly in some of our big towns and cities. This affects a number of Government Departments and I have invited the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Economic Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for West Bromwich, to make himself especially responsible, in a personal capacity, for co-ordinating Government action in the field and for promoting through the Departments concerned the efforts of the local authorities and of voluntary bodies.

"Secondly, we all agree that we cannot have first and second-class citizens in this country. We must therefore take vigorous measures to prevent racial discrimination. The Government intend to introduce in the very near future a Bill to deal with racial discrimination in public places and with the evil of incitement to racial hatred.

"Thirdly, the House will recall the Statement made by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary on the 4th of February about evasion of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act by people coming from certain Commonwealth countries. My right honourable friend then indicated that the degree of evasion of existing controls was almost fatally eroding the Act. This situation arises from the use of false passports, impersonation, false statements about the purpose of travel to this country, and so on.

Since the Act is not working as was intended, a fresh examination of the whole problem of control is necessary. The Government therefore propose shortly to send a high-level mission, which will include experts in the field of immigration, to consider with certain Commonwealth Governments the problems that have arisen. The function of the mission will be to establish the facts, to examine what can be done to stamp out evasion at source and to discuss whether new methods are needed to regulate the flow of migrants to the United Kingdom."

My Lords, that concludes the Statement being made by the Prime Minister.


My Lords, we welcome the appointment of a Minister with special responsibility for coordinating Government action and for promoting through the Departments concerned the efforts of the local authorities and of voluntary bodies. We shall be debating this subject to-morrow and I therefore propose—and perhaps your Lordships would think it convenient—to refrain from making any other observations, except one, until we have that debate. I wanted to ask one question of the noble Earl for purposes of elucidation. In the last sentence of the statement he said that the function of the mission will be to establish the facts, and that is preceded by a statement about "almost fatally eroding the Act." Are not the facts in relation to evasion known within this country?


My Lords, the figures are, I believe, known; but how exactly all this takes place seems to require some further exploration.


My Lords, are those the only facts into which this mission is going to inquire?


No, my Lords. I would say that the whole method of dealing with the problem will be examined.


My Lords, I think that this Statement will be widely welcomed. The three points are very good ones. But in relation to the supplementary question of the noble and learned Viscount, is it not a fact that most illegal immigration took place during the Conservative Government's administration?


My Lords, I believe that the answer to that is, Yes.