§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ BARONESS ASQUITH OF YARNBURY
My Lords, I am sorry to have to begin what I have to say on a controversial note; I hoped that I should not have to do this. But I must rebut the most uncalled for accusation made against my noble friend, Lord Rea, by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne. He accused by noble friend in his comment yesterday of making a Party point, or of trying to score a Party point. Lord Rea, in his comment yesterday, was merely stating an obvious fact: namely, that if this spate of illegal entries, amounting to some 10,000, had indeed taken place, much of the flood must have been pouring in before the General Election when the previous Government were in power, a Government of which Lord Dilhorne was a leading member. Yet that flood was apparently neither detected nor corrected at that time. My noble friend Lord Rea did not say half as much as I have done now, but simply pointed out an obvious fact.
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
My Lords, if the noble Lady would give way to me, may I say that in what she is now saying she is obviously reiterating a Party political point, otherwise there would be no point in mentioning it.
§ BARONESS ASQUITH OF YARNBURY
I am correcting what has been called a Party political point, and stating an obvious fact which no one here could controvert. I am not a member of the Government, I am not even a Back-Bench member of the Government. I am 79 a Liberal. It is not to my advantage that noble Lords opposite or noble Lords on the Opposition Front Bench should have allowed this flood of immigrants to pour in. I am simply stating what has quite obviously happened.
§ BARONESS ASQUITH OF YARNBURY
No, I am not going to give way again. I have made my point.
May I add that this question of immigrants and the whole matter of racial harmony, or racial disharmony, which underlies it should on no account be made a Party issue. To attempt to exploit it for Party political advantage, to use it as a means for gaining votes or gaining seats and thereby to fan the flames of racial discord, is, to my mind, a political crime. Therefore I most warmly welcome the action taken a week or two ago by a group of Members belonging to all three Parties in another place to lift this issue right out of the Party arena. I think that effort was successful; I welcome it, and am grateful for it.
This is a national issue if ever there was one, an issue which lies at the very root of our nation's well-being and of our relations with our Commonwealth. But although it is not a Party issue, it is certainly an issue on which there are two distinct and sharply differing attitudes. One attitude is well illustrated in the terms of the Motion by Lord Dilhorne, and I am sorry to say that it was also illustrated by the speech which followed. I thought that it might be mitigated by that speech. It was not controversial; I am not accusing it of being so. Control is now universally accepted as a disagreeable necessity by all Parties, including, of course, the Liberal Party. I am not saying that it was controversial, but it illustrated an attitude—because it was entirely negative and restrictive, both in its scope and in its emphasis. It dealt solely with how to keep immigrants out.
I remember my father once saying to me (and he rarely generalised about politics) that the only way to achieve anything in politics was by having one essential quality, the affirmative mind, the mind which says "Do" and not 80 the mind which says "Don't". I always think that if only the Ten Commandments could have been written in the affirmative instead of in the negative, if they had all begun, "Thou shalt" and not "Thou shalt not", we should all be very much better men and women than we are now. As it is, as an American once said to me, "They do not really stop you doing things, but they just put ideas into your head".
The contrasting attitude is what I hope and believe to be the attitude of the Government, an attitude which is positive, affirmative and constructive, of welcoming amongst us all those of our fellow-citizens in the Commonwealth whom we can absorb (by which I mean whom we can house and for whom we can find employment) and in determining to create such social conditions in this country that they can live in peace and harmony with their fellow citizens here. If that is the attitude of the Government, and I believe it is, it is one which we on the Liberal Benches wholeheartedly endorse and share.
I should like to say how much we welcomed the outline—the first outline, for we have not had much in the way of details yet—of the constructive measures which the Government are proposing to this end. We welcome, in particular, the plan to entrust to one Minister (I think he is the honourable Member for West Bromwich) the task of co-ordinating the work of all the various Ministries—and their name is legion: Housing, Health, Education, Labour and the local authorities; not forgetting the voluntary societies, who are all at this moment dealing with the problem of immigration from different angles. We hope that he will be given the support of a senior civil servant and that he will be given an office and an adequate staff to help him carry out his most urgent, complicated and responsible task.
There is another urgent priority which I should like to see the Government tackle. It is not my idea. It is the idea of the noble Lord, Lord Brockway. He will correct me if I get it wrong, but at least I am saying what I want, and I think that is what he suggested. The idea is that a "crash" housing programme should be undertaken, not by the local authorities, but by the Government (it is beyond the resources of the local authorities) in those towns which are most 81 affected by the entry of immigrants and where there is a desperate housing shortage. As the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, pointed out, the housing shortage and the resulting overcrowding is—and here I quote the noble Lord's words—"the main stimulant of racial animosity". Of course, it is inevitable that overcrowded or homeless British people should resent the competition of immigrants for the small housing space available. The immigrants themselves may be the first and worst victims of this overcrowding, but, as Lord Brockway said, they are inevitably the scapegoats. I would ask the Government to consider this question.
Again, in regard to education there is the problem of the influx of immigrant children into our schools, a problem which is presenting great difficulties to teachers and causing some criticism among parents. Could this not be solved by spreading the load, by a wider distribution of children among schools, which could easily be made if transport were available, such as buses? It is the concentration in certain schools which is causing trouble.
May I say a word about the problem of integration? I agree, for once, with the noble Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, that it is a very overworked word, but I do not know what other word to substitute for it. A fortnight ago I happened to hear a most interesting programme on the B.B.C.—(I think it was in "Panorama"). It illustrated and described the way in which the Dutch are tackling this problem. By an odd coincidence there was a very interesting article last Friday in the Economist on the same theme, and perhaps some of your Lordships here read it. The Dutch, with a population of 12 million, have roughly 300,000 immigrants from Asia in their country. Taking our relative populations into account, this is equivalent to 1¼ million here. Let me reassure your Lordships that the sum was not done by myself; it was done by the Economist. About one-tenth of these 300,000 are Dutchmen. They are Dutchmen who have lived all their lives abroad in Indonesia, and they of course present no racial problem at all. All the rest have Asiatic blood and Asiatic colouring, but the Dutch Government, undaunted by this 300,000, are just about to invite 82 another 100,000—this time West Indians from Surinam.
There is, of course, a great labour shortage in Holland. How do they deal with them? All the passages of immigrants are paid by loan by the Government—a loan which they need not repay; it is a matter of personal conscience. When they arrive in Holland the immigrants are immediately met by trained social workers who take them first to specially rented hotels and boarding houses. Each one of them is then given £75 by the Government to buy a complete wardrobe, a complete new outfit from top coat to underwear, and they go out shopping on the very first day of their arrival. The welfare workers teach them how to shop, how to cook, how to housekeep—the Dutch way of life. Then after a short interval they settle the immigrants in their new homes.
Now this is, to my mind, the most remarkable thing about the scheme, and it is certainly one we could not copy. How are these new homes provided? In Holland there is an acute housing shortage, so acute that many young married couples are obliged to live, as they do here, for the first two or three years of their married life with their inlaws—a most inconvenient arrangement for both parties. In spite of this stringency, the Dutch allocate 5 per cent. of their new houses to their immigrants, and these houses are widely dispersed and spread over a big area. The result, says the Economist, is true integration and not ghettoes. I may add that all immigrants receive full Dutch citizenship on arrival.
If I am not wearying your Lordships, may I quote just two or three sentences from a dialogue with one or two of these immigrants? An Indonesian woman is asked:Have you come across any people who do not like you, simply because you are coloured?No.Nobody at all?No, nobody at all.And you make friends round here?Yes, I make friends with everyone.Then followed a description of the kindness she has received from Dutch families. The narrator added of the child immigrants that though, of course, a visitor would recognise them by the 83 colour of their skin, they themselves "appear to be colour blind". My Lords, this is what I think we should all aim at becoming; but as the noble Viscount, Lord Dithorne, has said, it will take a very long time.
The narrator added that people had come from all over the world to watch these Dutch methods in integration, and in dealing with their colour problem, but that so far as he knew no one, no official delegation, had yet come from this country. May I suggest to the Government that it might possibly be worth their while to send over, not perhaps an official delegation, but two or three trained observers just to study the Dutch methods and to report home? Please do not think, my Lords, that I am suggesting for one moment that we can exactly copy this Dutch pattern. There would be fierce resentment here if we attempted, for instance, to allocate 5 per cent. of new houses to immigrants. But I believe that there is something we might learn from them in our human attitudes, and I myself think that human attitudes are far more important and far more vital even than legislation.
May I say, talking of human attitudes, that I feel we ought to remember that we owe a debt of gratitude to these immigrants who to-day are making a most valuable contribution to our economy and to our prosperity, by rendering essential services in our hospitals, in our transport system and in many other capacities? So far as those holding "A" and "B" vouchers are concerned—I mean the "A"s for whom places are waiting, and the "B"s who are bringing us special skills, like those of doctors—they are an unmitigated benefit to this country.
I see that there are 3,000 immigrant doctors now employed by the National Health Service, and that as long ago as 1962 (I do not have any more recent figures) there were as many as close on 11,000 student nurses and pupils. Do let us have the grace to recognise that we need these people's help, and that we welcome it, and that we are grateful for it. Again, I think we should all welcome students who come here from afar—not only from the Commonwealth but from other countries. We should rejoice that young people want to come and be educated in this country, and we hope that they may take back with 84 them, when they go home, some of our way of life. If they overstay their time limit, of course they should notify that fact to the authorities; but many of them may find employment here.
I often hear it alleged that thousands of these immigrants are unemployed; that they are proving a burden on the tax-payer and on the State. In fact, that is utterly untrue. With my own ears I heard the Home Secretary in another place give the percentage of unemployment in the immigration population. It was 2.5 per cent. I think your Lordships will agree with me that that is a very low rate indeed. Nor, as is frequently alleged, is there a higher rate of crime and disease among them. They are no more criminal and no more diseased than we are—which is perhaps not saying much.
One thing we shall all agree is that there are no first-class or second-class citizens here. Of that I am glad. In this connection may I say how I rejoice to hear that the Government will shortly introduce a Bill to outlaw discrimination in public places. It is very necessary. I do not know if any noble Lords noticed a case reported in the evening papers last night, of coloured people being refused admittance to a saloon bar. One went in, accompanied by an English clergyman, and they were both turned out. Despite public protest, that publican's licence has been renewed. In this country we cannot admit apartheid by the back doors of hotels and restaurants.
I should like to address one question to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, which perhaps he will be good enough to answer when he replies. My question is about the anti-discrimination Bill. Why is religious discrimination omitted from its scope? It is in the Charter of Human Rights, of course. To allow a man's religion to debar him from a meal in a restaurant, touches a height of bigotry unequalled since Hitler's day. It may be that it has been left out because it has been deemed to be wholly unnecessary in this country. But perhaps the noble Lord will let me know.
There is one other legislative measure that I should like to see enacted (I think it has been suggested by two Members of another place, belonging to different Parties), and that is a legal appeals tribunal to which immigrants who have been either excluded or threatened with 85 deportation may appeal. We have heard of these colossal administrative blunders made in letting in illegal immigrants—blunders amounting to thousands. It may be that, conversely, blunders have been made in the opposite sense: that some people who ought legitimately to have been allowed in have been excluded. I would put in a plea for an appeals tribunal—such as exists, of course, in America; which, in turn, as we know, is the Mecca of all immigrants.
My Lords, we are all proud, I know, of being the founders and the leading member of a multiracial Commonwealth. This is our proudest boast. We glory in it. To-day, we here in England are becoming a multiracial society. We have to face that fact, whether we like it or not. I realise, of course, that it will involve some difficult and perhaps painful adjustments for some people. I also realise that it will present an affront—a very healthy affront—to some inborn and inbred prejudices. But we should not regret it. Because it gives us an opportunity of solving the great problem, of meeting the greatest challenge of our time—of this twentieth century in which we live. That challenge is: how to enable men and women of different races, creeds, colour, conventions and traditions to live together and to work together, side by side, in peace, harmony and mutual understanding. It is a world-wide challenge. It exists in every Continent—in Africa, in Asia, in the United States and, to a very minor degree, in this country. But I think we should resolve to meet it, and to meet it in such a way that this country may be a pathfinder—and perhaps, in the end, a pattern—of racial tolerance, of fairness and of human understanding to the rest of the world.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, this is not the first occasion on which the noble Baroness, Lady Asquith of Yarnbury, has addressed your Lordships' House. We had the privilege of hearing first from her when she made a most moving contribution to the tributes to the late Sir Winston Churchill. But, in effect, so far as controversial subjects are concerned (if this subject is going to continue to be controversial), this is her maiden speech, and I know it will be your Lordships' wish that I should express our congratulations and our pleasure, both at what we have heard and at the prospect of 86 many more contributions of this kind on different subjects.
The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, in introducing the debate—and we on the Government side are extremely grateful to him for giving us this opportunity—said he did not wish to arouse controversy or to engender heat. It seemed to me, in the first minute after he sat down, that he had at least failed, perhaps unwittingly and unwillingly, in that objective. I think that, on this particular question, we shall find that it is going to be very much more difficult to define what is a Party political point than to define the dependants of a voucher holder. But perhaps we shall work up a sort of case law as we go on and be able to come to a conclusion about what is Party political and what is not. It may well be that the interpretation will be that, if it is something you are blamed for and you do not like, then it is a Party political point. I think we should all try to bear in mind that, in dealing with this very great and important problem, what we are looking for are social solutions and not scapegoats; and try to make that our guiding light. I do not promise that everything I say will be completely without Party bias, or that I shall not here and there take up a defensive or aggressive attitude, but I am quite sure that, if I do, I shall be informed of that fact.
Both the noble and learned Viscount and the noble Baroness agreed that this whole subject should be lifted out of the arena of Party politics. Her Majesty's Government are firmly of opinion that the effective integration of immigrants into the community, and the future level of Commonwealth immigration, are matters of such vital concern to the whole nation that they must be lifted out of the realm of Party politics. We believe that a proper balance of the legitimate interests of the peoples, both of this country and of the Commonwealth, can be achieved only through knowledge and through an objective consideration of all the facts.
My Lords, I propose to give the facts, over a rather broader area than that to which the noble and learned Viscount devoted his attention, because I feel that in this matter the more we bend our heads down over figures, the less likely we are to see the situation as a whole and 87 what the future may hold. The noble Baroness put it in rather a different light when she suggested that the present approach had been entirely negative and restricted, and that the essential quality should be an affirmative approach and not a constantly negative one. Therefore, I propose to state the size of the problem as we see it; the extent of our powers under the 1962 Act and their effect on the inflow of immigrants; the results likely to be achieved by administrative action; and, finally, the steps which the Government are taking in the most important field of all—that of integration or co-ordination. You can call it what you will, but it means assimilating these Commonwealth immigrants in our midst into the community as a whole as first-class citizens.
To give some idea of the scope of the position that confronts us, last year our immigration officers supervised, including United Kingdom nationals, nearly 16 million arrivals at and departures from our ports; and that number is increasing by 10 to 12 per cent. every year. Two-and-a-half million aliens are admitted annually; and last year, of these, 42,584 came in with work permits and were admitted for employment for a specified period. 19,211 aliens were accepted for permanent residence last year. Nearly half of them were people who had completed four years in approved employment, and most of the remainder were the husbands, wives or dependants of British subjects or resident aliens. We now have upwards of 400,000 aliens in permanent residence—exclusive, of course, of the many citizens of the Irish Republic who come to work and even set up home here.
With few exceptions aliens are admitted only conditionally. We control the length of their stay; we decide whether they can take employment, and, if so, the nature of the job. We require them to register their addresses and personal particulars, and to inform the police of any changes. We have power to refuse entry, and power to deport; and breach of conditions of entry is one of the grounds for deportation of aliens. It is true, as the noble and learned Viscount said, that few of these restrictions apply to Commonwealth citizens; and the noble and learned Viscount pressed for early legislation. But it seemed to me 88 that the suggestions he made were that all the restrictions which are now applied to aliens—and, indeed, many more not at present applied to them—
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
My Lords, that really is not a correct representation of what I said. I never related this matter to aliens at all. I was dealing with the gaps, as I see it, in the 1962 Act; and it was with these that I was solely concerned in that part of my speech.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I quite accept that from the noble and learned Viscount. I will rephrase what I said. The kind of restrictions which he asked the Government to consider imposing on Commonwealth immigrants, where necessary by further legislation, were the kind of restrictions which are at present applied to aliens, and in some respects they would indeed be more severe.
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
With respect, I said nothing about reporting to the police, which is what aliens have to do and Commonwealth citizens do not have to do. The noble Lord is not representing my speech correctly. I said that we ought to have machinery, whatever it might be, for seeing that conditions were complied with and for detecting any breaches. The noble Lord is not correctly representing my speech if he is trying to make out that the theme I was putting forward was that Commonwealth citizens should be treated in all respects as if they were aliens. I said nothing to support that conclusion.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, the only objection the noble and learned Viscount is making is that I have made a comparison with aliens. In fact, it is the case that many of the restrictions which he suggested might be applied are the kind of restrictions we apply to aliens; and in some respects they would, in fact, go further. For example, the noble and learned Viscount suggested that we should impose conditions on the length of stay of voucher holders, and impose on wives and dependants similar conditions to those imposed on the man himself. Aliens who come here with employment vouchers, and aliens accepted here for permanent residence, without restriction, can afterwards bring their wives and families with them.
So far as Commonwealth immigrants are concerned, under the 1962 Act, 89 voucher holders, their wives and children under sixteen have a legal right to admission. Indeed, the wife and children under sixteen of any Commonwealth citizen resident here enjoy this right. Once they are here we have no powers to exercise control over their residence, employment, or length of stay, unless on landing, their admission is made subject to conditions. The only conditions we can impose under the 1962 Act are on people other than voucher holders or their dependants. They relate to length of stay and freedom to take employment, and until February 4 these powers were rarely applied.
Since then, however, under the arrangements announced by the Home Secretary, immigration officers have made fuller use of their powers, and during last month conditions were applied to the entry of at least 178 persons. That does not sound a very large number in the space of just over three weeks; but at this time of the year not many students and visitors (the only kind of persons to whom conditional entry is likely to be applied) are coming in. It is thought that over a full year we shall now be imposing conditions on the entry of some thousands of Commonwealth citizens in those very groups where the evasion of the conditions in taking place. The true comparison between the figures of last month and before lies in the fact, as I have pointed out, that since the Act came into force, on the average, conditions have been applied to the entry of fewer than twelve persons a month. So this is at least a tenfold increase and is likely to build up. Also we can, and do, refuse admission to intending immigrants, and last month 129 were refused admission.
Here, again, that was four times as many as were refused admission in February of last year when precisely the same Act and precisely the same conditions were being operated. So there is a considerable change.
It will be twelve months before we can judge with any certainty the effect on net entry of this stricter reégime, but, apart from the results accruing from the enforcement of conditions of entry, it is expected that many who might otherwise have been disposed to take a chance will not now run the risk of an expensive and fruitless journey. It is also probable that the carriers will exercise greater care in reviewing the entry qualifications of 90 intending immigrants, because in most cases they have to bear the cost of taking back home those who have been refused permission to land.
I now wish you to consider the figures for the net inflow of immigrants, that is, the difference between the total number admitted and the number who went home in any one year. But it is as well to take these figures with caution. Over a lengthy period, say five years, during which the flow has been relatively constant, the net balance should provide a fairly accurate guide to the rate at which people are settling here, but the available figures over our limited two-year period must be treated with some caution.
During 1963 the net inflow from the three older Commonwealth countries (Canada, New Zealand and Australia) was 8,951. Last year it was 13,382—that is to say, excess of arrivals over departures. From all other Commonwealth countries and dependent territories the net inflow in 1963 was 57,049 and in 1964, 62,117. Taking the two years together that is an average of 60,000 a year, representing an increase of some 6 per cent. a year to the numbers already resident here. This 60,000 compares with a net increase of 136,400 in 1961 and an annual rate of 190,000 in the first six months of 1962.
A matter of the greatest significance in the last two years has been the change in the proportion of voucher-holders in the total net inflow. It indicates—and I think this is of considerable importance—that even if the issue of vouchers were completely stopped it would be by no means certain that the net inflow would be reduced below the present level, although obviously it would reduce the potential level. In 1963 the previous Government issued 41,440 vouchers, of which 30,125 were used. More than 50 per cent. of the vouchers issued were in the "C" or general category. Last year we issued, as the noble Viscount said, 20,824 vouchers, and of those only some 10 per cent. were in the "C" category. But of these only 14,705 vouchers—less than half the 1963 total—were used.
I think the important thing is the number used and not the number issued. This Government have issued no vouchers under Category "C"—the miscellaneous unskilled category. I hope that this will dispose, once and for all, of the allegation that we are admitting for employment large numbers of unskilled immigrants 91 who have no jobs to go to. Whereas the 1963 voucher-holders represented more than 45 per cent. of the total inflow of 66,000 from all the countries of the Commonwealth, voucher-holders in 1964 amounted to less than 19 per cent. of the total inflow. The difference is due to a much larger influx of dependants, most of whom came over after the breadwinner had established a home here. There are still large numbers of dependants, now overseas, who have the right to join Commonwealth citizens resident here, and it would be difficult, if not impossible, to abrogate that legal right.
Sir Alec Douglas-Home told the Conservative Central Council on Saturday:The numbers coming in must be severely cut down".But I would ask him, and still more those who declare that, come what may, all further immigration must be halted, "Are you prepared to dishonour, and are you demanding that we should dishonour, the pledge in the 1962 Act, and separate wives from their husbands and children from their parents?" The noble and learned Viscount put, as one of his demands, that we should institute a control over the total number of people who come here for permanent residence—not only voucher-holders, but dependants and everyone else.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, I do not like to interrupt, but the noble Lord is creating a wrong impression. My noble and learned friend never suggested that they should be separated from families. I shall deal with the point when it comes up, but it is entirely misleading to suggest that my noble and learned friend said such a thing.
§ LORD STONHAM
Noble Lords opposite must consider the consequences of their proposals. I took down the noble and learned Viscount's words and he said: "We want legislation now, (1) to institute a control over the total number of people coming here for permanent settlement". There are still large numbers of dependants, now overseas, who have the right to join Commonwealth citizens resident here. I have already said—and the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, did not interrupt me when I said it—that even if we reduced the number of voucher-holders—to nothing, if you like 92 —it is still not certain that the net inflow of immigrants would be reduced, unless we abrogated the right of dependants to come here. If an arbitrary overall figure was imposed—unless, of course, it was a very high one, in which case it would have no effect—and if we do not abrogate that right, then it is possible that it would be absorbed and no additional people would come in.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt again, but the noble Lord is misrepresenting my noble and learned friend. When he says that it would make no difference if no voucher-holders at all are allowed in, he is talking on the short term; in the long term it would not have that effect. What he is saying is quite untrue. I repeat that my noble and learned friend never suggested that it was possible to have an overall control which might mean separating families from the husband. If the noble Lord goes on making this suggestion, it is really disgraceful.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, what the noble and learned Viscount said—and I am sorry he is not here to speak for himself—will be recorded in Hansard and can be read by everyone, along with what I have said. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, will appreciate that I am not deliberately misrepresenting his noble friend. I am honestly putting this point as it occurs to me. If the noble Lord is saying that they will not, and never would, abrogate this right; that they would never dream of separating wives from their husbands and children from their fathers, I am delighted to have that assurance, and the rest of the noble and learned Viscount's suggestions can be worked out after allowing for that.
My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves these figures, could he tell me, as a matter of interest—because he says that a large number of dependants have the right to come here—if any total has been made of that number? Is his statement based on any known figure or is the figure unknown?
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, an estimate has been made, based on the best information we have available. No exact figure can be given, but it is the case that dependants are coming over even five years after the breadwinner has come here and they are still coming. As 93 the bulge of immigrants in 1961 and 1962 reached nearly a quarter of a million, there must be an equivalent number of dependants who will continue to come over for some time. And even if we reduced the voucher-holders to nothing, the inflow of dependants would still continue.
My Lords, where is the housing accommodation for all these people? The noble Lord can go on ad infinitum about all sorts of things, but can he tell me where we are going to house all these people?
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, perhaps if I were allowed to go on with my speech without interruptions, I might come to that point much more quickly. This is an important subject and I think it is essential that we should get all the facts and put them in the right framework, and if it does not suit the particular cases which some noble Lords want to make, then I am sorry. I am glad that the noble and learned Viscount has returned.
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
My Lords, I am sorry not to have been able to hear more of the noble Lord's speech. I had a request for an urgent telephone call.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I understand, but I would say now to the noble and learned Viscount that, apart from abrogating the right of dependants to come here and join Commonwealth citizens resident here, there are only two ways of reducing immigration—one, to cut the voucher issue and the other, to reduce or eliminate the evasion of control. Thus, there is very limited scope for reduction, and anyone who deliberately ignores this fact and asks for drastic reduction is pandering to prejudice. These issues have to be carefully weighed, because wrong decisions could have far-reaching and possibly disastrous effects in the Commonwealth.
I should like to dispel another illusion. Last Friday, Mr. Thorneycroft suggested that we are letting in persons who are only distantly connected with those settled here. This is not so. Our interpretation of the term "dependant" has so far been exactly the same as that of the previous Government. We do not 94 admit "the cousins and the aunts," and it does not help for people to suggest this.
But in one sector there is no room for argument, and here we entirely agree with the noble Viscount—that is, our determination to exclude, if we can, those who try to circumvent the controls. Each year the net entry is larger than the total of those who are properly admitted for settlement, and this excess—mainly students and visitors who have stayed on—is the evasion figure. During the last two years, the total evasion figure for the three older Commonwealth countries was 16,538 and for all the new Commonwealth countries it was 10,255. This is the figure that is most often quoted. The last figure represents 8½ per cent. of the total net entry of people from the new Commonwealth countries during the last two years. It is a substantial and unacceptable figure. The figure for the old Commonwealth countries, although much higher, is generally believed to comprise people (mainly young people) who are over here on a working holiday.
But I must emphasise that we have to look at a whole year at least, because there is a marked seasonal ebb and flow. For example, in the first four months that this Government were in office, the evasion figures from new Commonwealth countries was minus 5,133—that is, more out than in. I am not claiming that this is due to better administration, because it would not be honest to do so. It is due to the fact that the peak entry periods are in the second quarter (holiday-makers) and the third quarter (students), whereas the last quarter of the year is the period of exodus, when people go home, perhaps because it is Christmas or because it is warmer elsewhere.
But whatever the reason, my right honourable friend is deeply concerned at the serious volume of evasion and has taken energetic measures to ensure that, as far as humanly possible, within his powers under the Act, the net inflow at the end of the year will be closer to the total number properly admitted. The Home Secretary, by instructing immigration officersto subject to the fullest scrutiny … the intention and bona fides of Commonwealth citizens seeking entry",hopes to exclude a substantial proportion 95 of those who have gained entry hitherto by falsely claiming to be included in those categories entitled to entry under the Act. In this I feel sure he will have the active co-operation of the overseas Governments concerned, and I am glad to be able to express our appreciation of the ready co-operation that we have already had from the Commonwealth authorities concerned in trying to stamp out the use of forged passports.
The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, made a point about genuine passports, and asked: How can they be genuine if they give false information? They are genuine in the sense that they are properly issued by the Governments in the countries of origin, but in fact the holder of the passport has himself given false information, perhaps regarding the date of his birth, or even of his real identity. The noble and learned Viscount asked: How do immigration officers find this out? They are very experienced people, and certainly a number—I do not say how substantial a proportion—have been turned back. We have had men of 29 trying to pass themselves off as under 16. It has been a close shave, but not quite close enough in the circumstances.
I saw last week some of the measures that are being taken at London Airport, and I was most impressed by the ingenious steps which are taken to preclude the possibility of successful forgery and to detect it when it is attempted. For example, no one has yet succeeded in gaining admission on a forged voucher. I was even more impressed by the very high standard of care and supervision achieved by our immigration officers in discharging their arduous, exacting and at times saddening tasks. I am glad to be able to say that we are shortly sending experienced immigration officers to the main immigrant centres overseas, and we believe that they will be able to give great help to the overseas Governments in solving many of the present problems at the source.
These measures will reduce evasion far more than the noble and learned Viscount believes; but we cannot guarantee that they will end it. It is one thing to impose conditions of entry, and another, under present powers, to enforce them. A week or two back I gave 96 him figures for the proportions of those who had complied with conditions, or had been compelled to comply with conditions, out of the admittedly small number on whom conditions had been imposed. Although it is not easy, we had a fair measure of success. But I assure the noble and learned Viscount that other measures to ensure that we invariably find people if they have offended against the conditions, and then set the machinery of the law into operation, would have to be very stringent indeed. Therefore we think that the system should be given a fair trial. But if it proves inadequate, then we shall have to ask Parliament for further powers.
My Lords, I have had to quote a lot of figures, but I hope they have served to convey an accurate picture of the present position, the scale and possible future trends of immigration, the scale of evasion, and the action which is being taken to deal with it. I should now like to deal with the broader issues which the noble and learned Viscount did not cover, and particularly the question of integration. I very much welcome what the noble Baroness had to say about the contribution which is being made by immigrants here. On the economic side, there is no question that the vast majority of these immigrants are an asset, and our lives would be very much harder if we did not have them. Forty per cent. of all the junior hospital medical staff are from the new Commonwealth countries; nearly 15 per cent. of all student nurses are from the Commonwealth, and more than half of them are in the four Metropolitan regions. Without their help some of our hospitals would have to close. We welcome many other Commonwealth citizens with qualifications and skills we badly need; and even those who are less skilled are making a valuable contribution. In transport, for example, London Transport would be disrupted, and bus services in our major cities would have to be severely cut down. Many industries would be drastically affected. We have to face the fact that the labour market is bare, and many firms throughout the country have come to rely in varying degrees on the help of our friends from overseas.
Perhaps of even greater importance is the effect of restrictions, which might be 97 considered unjustifiable, on the future of the Commonwealth. Last week in another place leave was asked to introduce a Bill which aimed at drastic reductions in further immigration. Its sponsor claimed that the majority of British people supported his plea,… not because they hate other races, but because they love their own country and they want to leave the heritage to their children …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 707 (No. 68), col. 1134, March 2, 1965.]But, as the noble Baroness said, a great part of the heritage that we want to leave to our children is the Commonwealth. We believe that, despite all the frustrations, disappointments and difficulties, its potential contribution to the peace and well-being of the world cannot be overestimated.
Her Majesty's Government also believe that another priceless part of our heritage is our outstanding and leading contribution to human institutions, whether in law or democratic tradition, and it may well be as important for Britain to regain world leadership in this field as to create better missiles or build up a bigger gold reserve. Indeed, many people believe that the most important asset we could create would be a bank of goodwill among the people of all the countries of the Commonwealth, striving towards the settlement of 20th century problems within the framework of democracy. Towards this end, therefore, we are determined to proceed in actively promoting the integration of Commonwealth immigrants into the British community, and in this we are very happy to be assured of the whole-hearted co-operation of the Opposition.
Your Lordships may have seen a remarkable series of articles which was published in The Times in January under the title "The Dark Million". They referred to an article published ten years ago pointing out that no one was responsible for any national policy directed towards assimilating immigrants into the life of the community where they lived. They urged the appointment of a senior official to co-ordinate the work being done in this field, and added:In those ten wasted years complacency has persistedandbecause responsibility has been largely shelved on to local authorities, remedies have been on a local scale.It is the case, unfortunately, that the 98 previous Government allowed the situation to get out of hand by deliberate non-planning. They hoped, vainly as it now proves, that the problems created by the influx of hundreds of thousands of Commonwealth citizens would solve themselves. That is why we are in our present position which, unhappily, some people exploit for political ends. That is why the Government are firmly of opinion that this subject should be lifted out of the realm of Party politics; and whilst we shall always welcome help and constructive criticism from the Opposition, we would ask them to remember those ten wasted years.
The noble Viscount referred to, and welcomed, the Prime Minister's Statement, which we regard as the beginning of a truly national policy in this matter. The Prime Minister emphasised the need for co-ordination of effort, and the way in which the Government have recognised this is by appointing my honourable friend Mr. Foley, with special responsibility for this question. He will visit the areas with immigrant problems and discuss with local authorities the help they need in solving them, and he will liaise with the Government Departments concerned.
But I think the best way of expressing the Government's intention is to use the Prime Minister's own words in a reply he gave yesterday. He saidI want to make it quite clear that what we are proposing in respect of integration is not simply an inquiry. It is the co-ordination of effective executive Government action with, and through, local authorities and voluntary bodies to see that much speedier action is taken on integration, in the widest sense of the word, in terms of housing, health, education, and everything that needs to be done to minimise the possible social disturbance arising from this problem, and from the exploitation of the problem by people who ought to know better."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 708 (No. 73), col. 250, March 9, 1965.]That expresses the Government's intention, and that is why we are sending a high-level mission to Commonwealth Governments to see what new measures can be adopted, and why also we are bringing in, as soon as Parliamentary time will allow, a programme to deal with racial discrimination and to end the evil of incitement to racial hatred.
The noble Baroness raised a question about religious discrimination being left out of the Bill. I have, of course, taken 99 part in consultations on this subject, but I have not yet seen a draft of the Bill, and therefore I cannot give any answer on that point. I do not even know whether a draft of the Bill exists. Meanwhile, we are developing courses of action in those fields where the need is greatest. The other day I read:In the older parts of our towns, not each floor, but each room, is tenanted by a family; sometimes the dormitory of several occupants thrown together in the chance scramble for a night's lodging. Each swelling the gains of some middleman whose heart is seared by the recollection of his own poverty, and who learns to grind as he was once ground by others.That was not, as your Lordships might suppose, a description of living conditions to-day in Paddington. It is taken from a book The Rookeries of London, published in 1850. It describes the conditions endured by immigrants, not from overseas, but from our own countryside, dragged into the towns by the Industrial Revolution. The book even mentions Notting Hill as one of the worst affected areas. The parallel is almost exact, but there is one vital difference. In 1850 there were practically no public services. In 1965 we have local authority and Government services, and where there is the will there is the power to remove this misery from our midst.
My right honourable friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government is firmly of opinion that the greatest need is for the provision of dwellings to let at inexpensive rents, and that a greater use of industrialised methods in house-building will help towards a speedier solution. Coloured immigrants are not so heavily concentrated as is sometimes alleged. Only ten boroughs in the whole country have more than one in every 25 of the population. Unfortunately, however, as they usually lack the residential qualifications necessary for consideration for local authority housing, they are compelled to look to the lower-priced end of the private sector, and they thus tend to collect in the decaying parts of our cities.
Powers have already been taken to deal with the worst conditions in multi-occupied property and to improve these dwellings where there has been a lack of facilities. These powers, which were strengthened by the 1964 Housing Act, are directed solely towards the improvement 100 of bad housing conditions, and they take no account, of course, of the country of origin of the occupant. I am glad to say that these powers have had a considerable impact on the immigrants' position.
The noble Baroness referred to the position in the schools. Considerable attention has already been given to that problem, particularly in those schools where more than 30 per cent. of the children are immigrants. In some areas transfers have been made and others are already being arranged, not, of course, because there is any racial problem with the children, but because language difficulties place too great a burden on the teaching staffs. There are also additional English classes, and extra teachers are being authorised wherever necessary. In some areas we find that there is a need for language classes for adults, and local education authorities have, I understand, been willing to provide such classes on demand, and any unsatisfied demand should be made known to the authority concerned.
In the field of health, the special health needs of immigrants have been the subject of particular care. Education in helping them to cope with strange climates, foods and social conditions have been provided through the health and welfare services, and especially by health visitors and social workers in co-operation with local authority organisations.
On December 1 last year, when we debated this subject, I mentioned the measures which my right honourable friend the Minister of Health had in mind for application at the port of entry. These are now in operation. It has always been the case that voucher holders are medically examined. We have no power to examine entitled dependants. Now all are given leaflets printed in six languages, including three Asian tongues, conveying advice regarding registration with a G.P. In addition, doctors at ports are now conveying any necessary medical information to medical officers of health for the area in which the immigrant intends to live. Since February 12, at London Airport any person examined by the doctors who was considered to be suspect has had a chest X-ray on the spot. To date, out of some 900 medical examinations, there were in the first two weeks 54 101 such X-ray examinations, which compares with 9 in the whole of last year. Three persons, unfortunately, were found to be suffering from active T.B. and had to be refused admission.
All these problems are being intensively considered, and others will be dealt with as they arise. But there is, as the noble Lady has said, a limit to what Governments can do, and there is an urgent need for the setting up of voluntary societies to foster goodwill, understanding and the means of practical help where it is needed. The few in being have achieved remarkable results, and cities such as Birmingham, where they have had a liaison officer for the last twelve years, have excellent records in this respect. Housing is the most vital part of the solution of the social problems created by immigrants. If hostels could be provided by employers or housing associations for immigrants on their first arrival, it would be a great help. Housing associations to provide housing accommodation for families, either by reconditioning or by building, would also help; and it would avoid the difficulty local authorities feel in giving priority to immigrants.
My Lords, this is but the most recent of many a major influx of immigrants into our country. At the turn of the century it was the Jews and the Poles. The same things were said of them as are now said of the dark million; of their housing, their habits—even their morals. The talk arises from the same basic cause, a feeling of insecurity and perhaps even fear. The big difference is that the faces of the Victorian immigrants were white. It requires a much greater effort to secure acceptance of to-day's immigrants, because some of them, however good citizens they may be, will want to some extent to lead a different sort of social, cultural, and religious life. It would be realistic to accept this and to concentrate on the task of ensuring that all our citizens, irrespective of race or colour, enjoy equal rights.
The Government do not minimise the difficulties. In fact, we regard the present problem as one of the greatest social challenges that we face. We are determined that the number of new immigrants shall be restricted to levels which can properly be assimilated. We are 102 still more determined to integrate into the community those who are already with us, and to ensure that any danger that they may be treated as second-class citizens is removed. We do not forget that we fostered the concept of the Commonwealth, as distinct from the concept of Empire, and we are determined to create conditions in which these new citizens will become an asset, not only at home, but in our efforts abroad to promote the well-being of the peoples of the Commonwealth and the peace of the world.
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ LORD ST. HELENS
My Lords, this is the first occasion on which I have ventured to address your Lordships' House and I assure your Lordships that I do so with trepidation and humility. I shall endeavour to be brief and also to be uncontroversial, from a Party political point of view. For the last nine and a half years I had the honour to represent a South London constituency in another place, and I watched with great concern the arrival and the flow of immigrants which rose from a trickle to a flood. Perhaps I shall not be thought to be controversial if I explain the context in which I use the word "flood". I am not referring to the overall figures: I am referring to the vast concentration of immigrants who arrive in any one area; because, so far as the people living in any particular area are concerned, what affects them is the number who arrive locally, not the overall figure.
I watched this problem of integrating immigrants come to be almost an unsolved problem, owing to the lack of distribution of the arriving immigrants in the area. It is a new problem, a problem which I would say has not been seriously considered by the residents in this country as a whole, unless they happen to be in intimate contact with the immigrants. Travelling around the country, making political speeches here and there, one finds that in an area where there is an immigrant problem one is flooded with questions, while in another area where the immigrant problem does not arise, the matter is probably not mentioned at all during a meeting. It is for this reason that I very much welcome the Government measures which were announced yesterday in both Houses of Parliament. They obviously entail a vastly intensified form 103 of inquiry, and I can only hope that they will also form the prelude to effective action in the near future.
I should like to speak of this problem from a slightly different slant—from the point of view of how I saw the problem in South London; indeed, I might say the problem as seen from the receiving end. As the noble Lady said earlier on, it is a vast human problem. It is also a vast administrative problem, and one which, if not tackled in the very near future, will become out of hand. I believe that we have one great advantage in this country over various other countries, that there is no appreciable racial prejudice here. There is no objection to a man simply on account of the colour of his skin; there is no colour bar. But, my Lords, in certain areas of the country there is a very definite culture bar.
In the part of London of which I am speaking there are three main categories of immigrants. First of all, there are the Irish—and I mention the Irish because your Lordships will remember that in 1962 there was interminable controversy about how they were going to be dealt with, and whether we could assimilate them. As a matter of fact, there is a vast population of Irish in South London, and they present no problem whatsoever. Occasionally there will be individual disgruntlement because an Irish family on the housing list is granted a council house, whereas a longer-resident family, perhaps, has not been so granted. But this represents only a very small bit of individual resentment.
As well as the Irish there are the coloured immigrants, who fall into two categories. Basically, there are the professional and skilled coloured immigrant and the unskilled or semi-skilled manual labourer. So far as the skilled and professional coloured immigrants are concerned, again there is no problem whatsoever. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, mentioned this aspect during the course of his speech. Lawyers, solicitors, doctors, hospital sisters and nurses who have arrived are greatly respected; and, indeed, as regards the hospital staff, are greatly beloved within the area. I personally served on the management committee of a large hospital group for several years, and I well remember that at times we had up to 30 per cent. of coloured nurses on the hospital nursing 104 staff, and one can say without exaggeration that had those nurses been withdrawn, that hospital would have collapsed administratively.
There are a great many hospitals in South London, and many people have contacts with these nurses, either as patients themselves, or because their friends or relatives are patients; or perhaps they have contact with a hospital league of friends, or go to hospitals on open days. In some way or other, most people in the locality are conscious of the way the hospitals are run, and they are deeply grateful to our Commonwealth friends who have arrived to help them run their own hospital service in the country.
There is one last point that I would make about these professional and skilled classes; they are wholly dispersed throughout the whole community. When these professional people arrive there is no question in their mind of trying to join a group or colony. They arrive, and they disperse. In a social sense, they disappear into the population, and emerge, a little later on, as integrated members of the community. One meets them socially, at friends' houses and at social gatherings; and one meets their children at children's parties at Christmas time and so on. They have arrived, and they have integrated themselves within the community. They are very welcome and they present no problem whatsoever.
I now come to the third category, who are, I believe, a problem and with whom we shall have to deal very carefully. These are the unskilled or semi-skilled workers. Whether or not they form a majority of the immigrants is extremely hard to say, at any rate for someone who has not access to Government figures. At least one can say this; they appear to form the majority of the immigrants because they congregate. This is the one outstanding factor that makes their integration very difficult; instead of dispersing they deliberately congregate, not only in an area, but in a given street or block of houses. I remember in 1962 getting the bulk of my information about London as a whole—I was not able to go round—from taxi drivers. I respectfully suggest to Her Majesty's Government that a great source of information is the London taxi driver—taxi drivers who ply their hire from the great termini in the centre, and, not to be forgotten, the taxi drivers who 105 ply their hire from London Airport. They are the people in this country who can tell you precisely the pattern and habits of the immigrants. Not only that; they can tell you where various racial communities are to be found.
In the area of which I am speaking, the southern part of London, there was a pretty normal pattern of procedure of these particular people. They would arrive; they would buy up or rent rather dilapidated Victorian houses which, of course, they were able to get fairly cheaply—houses, which in the modern jargon, are known, I think, as "twilight houses"; that is to say, they were not really worth restoring fully, nor yet are they scheduled for demolition. And this community normally settled in that type of house. They got jobs and then in due course sent for their dependants. Other noble Lords have described at length how any one man may have a vast amount of dependants. The point is this: from the administrative point of view, within the locality, the dependants would often arrive all together in a crowd and settle in the locality. This is because their movements are dependent on the movements of liners or chartered flights coming to London Airport. There is suddenly this situation of a vast crowd of dependants arriving in a block of streets or one street alone, and immediately this community becomes a community apart. It probably has its own clubs. Some enterprising people may even set up their own restaurants and eating places, and it becomes a racial community apart from the neighbours. We cannot be surprised.
The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, quoted a debate which took place recently in another place. I was very interested in reading this debate—perhaps your Lordships were, too—to read the figures of the comparative standards of living between the countries of origin of the immigrants and our own country. The Member concerned was speaking of India and Pakistan. The average annual income per worker in India and Pakistan is between £19 and £24. Compare that with the average annual income in the United Kingdom, of £405. It is not surprising that the standards of living as between ourselves and the immigrants are vastly different. And it is here, in 106 my own experience, that the friction arises and it is here that vital action must be taken before it becomes worse. After all, the lives of these people are ruled with regard to economy rather than with regard to comfort or gracious living.
As I think the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, pointed out, one of the first considerations of economy is the density at which the immigrants live, and one finds in these community houses here and now, to-day, that there may be as many as six or seven people living in one room simply and solely for reasons of economy. They do not, because of their origin, have a very great pride of property, nor a sense of great tidiness. The lack of pride of property is not surprising because very often the houses are community owned; these people cannot point and say, "That is my house", as it is owned by five or six families. This has a certain obvious result. First of all, they do not bother to clip the hedge, and it begins to get shabby. The fence gets broken, and they do not bother to mend it. Most of the residents of that area, no doubt, bring out their dustbins on Thursday afternoon, or whenever the municipal authorities call, and when they have been emptied take them back and put them tidily away. These people do not do so. Often they develop the habit of leaving the dustbin outside the front door throughout the week. And around it you find an accumulation of bits of paper, broken milk bottles, and cigarette cartons.
My Lords, it may seem that I am mentioning trivial points, but these are not trivial to the residents of the district. I am quite certain that anyone who has been a Member of Parliament in an area such as this will have had precisely the same experience I have had, and received constant complaints from other residents in the area. The commonest thing in the world is for a man to come to you and say, "I have nothing against these people because of the colour of their skins; but I have got it against them because they are turning this area into a slum. When I bought my house in 1920, this was a decent area; this was a good street. Look at it now! It is being turned into a slum". After all, this is a very considerable cause of bitterness to a man who may have sunk his life savings into buying a house for himself and his family. It arises from misunderstanding; but it 107 is a misunderstanding that we must put right.
It is all very well to criticise some of the actions that have happened. The question is: what can we do to put them right? Luckily, that is primarily a problem for the Government, but of course it affects all of us in this country; and any action that will be taken must, of necessity, come from a combination of central and local government. I do not want to be controversial, but there has been a considerable amount of discussion as to whether or not any limit could be put on the dependants. For myself, I cannot quite see why when a man applies for a work permit, he should not enter in that work permit the number of dependants that he eventually wants to bring to this country. It is obvious that he will include his wife and children, and I am not suggesting that the Government should be hard on these people. And, at a later date, the man's mother-in-law (shall I say) becomes a widow, and he wants to bring her. I would suggest that an immediate permit be given to this lady. But what I am suggesting is that a sufficient check be put on the number of immigrants who can be expected to arrive, so that the Government will have some idea of the problem on their hands in future years. I should have thought they might go a step further and include the total, the worker and his proposed dependants, within their overall global figure.
The next problem that I see—and this is a tremendous administrative problem within the country—is dispersion within an area. That is why I dwelt upon the way in which these immigrants arrive and allow an area rather to deteriorate. I do not know whether it would be possible, but of course the ideal from the local authority point of view would be to limit the percentage number of houses in any one street that could be occupied by immigrants. If we do not do something like this, I cannot see what the eventual answer to this problem is going to be.
The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, mentioned the powers available to the local authorities. Indeed, the local authorities have powers both to prevent overcrowding and to prevent dilapidation of property. These powers were given to 108 them under the various Housing Acts, I think notably the 1964 Housing Act, the last one which was passed. The great trouble I found in discussing these matters with local authorities was that they were not willing to take the powers given to them under the 1964 Housing Act, for the simple reason that, as they have said, "If you take a house with 20 people in it which we consider should have a density of 10 people, we then have to remove the surplus 10 people, but we have nowhere to put them".
This is a practical difficulty which exists to-day. But I feel that local authorities might be encouraged to take preventive action. They could be encouraged to have settled localities. These are not vast areas where this is going on. If they could be encouraged to go there and get to know more about the future dependants of the immigrants who have already arrived, to have a list of the future dependants of any one immigrant who are proposing to join him at a later date, then surely the local authorities might be able to plan forward a little more accurately than they can do to-day.
The last point I would make is one which I think has already been made—namely, about children in schools. I am sure it is vital, not only in the interests of the immigrants themselves but in the particular interests of our own schools, that there should be a percentage limit of immigrant children which could be absorbed at any one time into any given school. I say that this is just as much in the interests of the immigrants as it is of our own people. Furthermore, if you limit the number of children in any given school, this might have the additional effect of influencing the parents to a greater degree of dispersion in regard to their housing problem.
I should like to conclude by saying a word about the attitude of the immigrants themselves. I have found myself (and I am sure many of your Lordships feel the same), in making a speech of this nature, profoundly inhibited lest I say something which would give offence to the immigrants who are already settled in this country. But in talking to immigrants I have found that they are, if anything, more conscious of the difficulties that exist than are we ourselves. We have to remember that they want most 109 passionately to become integrated; they want most passionately to become true members of our own society. Therefore, they, above all others, will welcome any measures which make them more acceptable to our community here in the United Kingdom.
I hope that the Government will remember that always when they are framing new laws or new measures to deal with this problem. I feel that we, the country and the Government are faced with an extremely difficult problem. Many suggestions have been made. I do not doubt that many more will he made. But my own view of this problem, from what I have seen of it in practice, is that there is only one certainty—namely, that to do nothing would be disastrous, for then the problem would become insoluble.
§ 5.35 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF BIRMINGHAM
My Lords, the first thing I want to do is to congratulate the noble Lord on a most competent, knowledgeable and inspiring speech. We shall all greatly look forward to hearing him again. I speak quite feelingly on this point, because when I got up to make my maiden speech, some years ago now, everybody went out to tea and there was no mention of my speech, until six hours later, when some amends were made. So chilling was the atmosphere that I have not spoken in this House again until to-day. That will not be the fate of the noble Lord who has just made his maiden speech. Secondly, it is also a little embarrassing because he said so much of sense which is in my own speech, and one is bound to repeat some of the things that one has in mind, not merely for the sake of the repetition but because one wants to clarify or to put a slant on them.
I come from an area which has a large number of immigrants. There is a great concentration of them in Birmingham. In the Diocese of Birmingham I include Smethwick and part of West Bromwich. The diocese as a whole has a 10 per cent. coloured population, against 1½ per cent. in the country as a whole. It is a growing problem. It is not one that we are likely to settle here and now; it will be with us for the next fifteen or twenty years, because new problems will arise upon it. I am delighted to find that the 110 Government have set forward some interesting propositions which will help to solve the problem. I do not think they go quite far enough. I am also indebted to the noble and learned Viscount for having introduced this Motion. My ears are not attuned immediately to the particular slants of political controversy about which some complaints have been made. I must have missed them. I certainly felt a little blast when I was on the look-out for them in many of the subsequent speeches. But I am grateful for this opportunity to debate this subject. I think it is a subject to which we shall have to give a lot of detailed thought.
So far as I can see it, there are two sides to the problem of immigration: there are a negative and a positive side. I do not subscribe to the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Asquith of Yarnbury, though I see what she meant, when she wanted to leave out "not" from the Ten Commandments. It would leave us in some grave difficulties. On the negative side, I myself can see no alternative to some form of control. Most people have come round to that point of view, and I think it is doctrinaire and unrealistic to pretend that this is a decision that can be put off. The debate should centre round the nature and the extent of such control and the factors which should be taken into account.
The factors that should be taken into account in the countries from which these immigrants come are, I think, three, namely, a clean bill of health; a job to come to, and—one point which has not been mentioned and which may not be practicable—some preparation before they come as to what they are likely to expect. It is still true that some of them expect a Garden of Eden, and most of them find instead Birmingham or a place like it. They should be prepared, if need be by efforts from the Government, for a way of life not necessarily British, but one that is based on life in an over-crowded island. And, moreover, they will be living in one of the four most over-crowded parts of this over-crowded island.
There is one further point on the negative side which I would raise. It has already been mentioned, but I should like to put a slightly different 111 slant upon it. It is a major cause of the moral problems of immigrants. Recent proposals have sometimes spoken about further divisions within families. At present wives, actual or Common Law, fiancées, and all children below 16, or possibly below 18 in some cases, may enter freely. However much control of immigration may be needed, it is a desperate measure to cut in half families of peoples whose culture is always towards living in the "larger family". I think it was the noble Lord who spoke before me who mentioned the vexed question of the mother-in-law. This is not a humorous point, but a serious one which is sometimes forgotten.
The absence of the older generation among immigrants—and they all tend to be 20 to 25 on arriving—is one of the chief causes of anti-social behaviour. The older generation in most non-European cultures are the guardians of ethics and religion, and also the guardians of the small children while parents go to the fields or other places to work. It is from them that they learn right social conduct and, for the most part, their religious beliefs. Moreover, in stages of immigration when men only come to a country, there are grave moral problems. We have in Birmingham a very high V.D. rate, in spite of people saying that it is not stronger among immigrants. That may be true of the rest of the country, but it is not true of Birmingham. Probably well over a thousand British girls and women are living with men from overseas, and there is a great burden of children "in care" from mixed liaisons which have not lasted. The reestablishment of the family as the basis of culture is a great need among both West Indians and Asians in Britain.
That raises the question of the total number, but again I would support the noble Lord who suggested that when a person is coming to this country for a job (and I hope that they will be for the most part skilled jobs until we have the matter a little clearer) he can set out the members of his family whom he would like to bring in. One would have to limit it, otherwise the whole village would come because they are all related in some way. We must also see that we do not have a geriatric problem on our hands. But there is the 112 point that the older generation have a stabilising effect on immigrants to this country.
In regard to deportation, which has not been much mentioned, immigrants themselves are among the first to wish for a firm policy about this. They know full well that the solid efforts of the majority to live a peaceable and useful life in Britain can be ruined by the violently antisocial behaviour of a few. An ex-Jamaican policeman claimed that to deport after a second criminal conviction would be an action to assist immigrants, and would receive the support of a tremendous number of immigrants. Some people suggest that fares might be paid so that people could go back. I think that would be dangerous, because, like the people who went to the funeral, they might come just for the ride.
On the positive side there are three points I would mention. First is the fact which is often overlooked in debates on this subject when passions are aroused: that there is a great amount of good done by immigrants. Cases of crime concerning immigrants hit the headlines, but what is not recorded—because it is not news—is the amount of good neighbourliness, hard work and cheerful industry which these overseas people have brought to our English community. They have brought their gifts and skills and have enriched our lives, and we should be unwise and ungrateful to forget it. The Health Service and the transport services have already been mentioned, and many such services would not be able to carry on if it were not for coloured immigrant labour. In the hospitals, and in particular in the nursing of the old and of mental patients and in many other jobs—in at least one Smethwick foundry over half the labour force is composed of immigrants—they have become essential to our country's life. Therefore we shall need to keep up the flow; but, again, it must be limited.
The second area where a positive policy is needed is housing. I know that this lack of housing has been one of the three major causes of friction, and there have been no special, exceptional provisions for the housing of immigrants; they take their place in the long queue. This is different from what happens on the Continent—for example, in Germany, in Switzerland and in the Netherlands. In 113 the Netherlands special provision is made on the grounds that immigrant labour is needed and therefore must be housed. The Dutch example is probably the best of the three. Immigrants there are housed in small clusters mingled with the normal population. I doubt whether it would be true to say that if you went round to see the immigrant people and asked, "Are you happy?", they would all say, "Yes, we are very happy; everybody is very nice and kind to us." That would be contrary to my experience in a large number of countries, not only in England but in Europe. I think to suggest that that would be the case would be over-pleading too much.
The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, quoted some figures, and mentioned a book published in 1850. The same thing is true in Birmingham, even if it is not of other parts: there are simply no houses for extra population. It has led to a situation where Indians and Pakistanis have bought up houses which they are letting at from £2 15s. to £3 15s. per room to whole families of West Indians and Irish; houses with hardly any amenities. The kitchen and toilet have to be shared with six other families, and in many cases there is no bathroom. I am not speaking from figures. I have spent a great deal of time with my friends there. I have seen for myself the conditions, and have had meals with these people in going from one room to another. I must say that they are not particularly grousing about it, and I did not go there to find out conditions; I went to see them on a friendly visit, and I discovered that what I have said is true of a large number of houses.
As other noble Lords have said, this is a vitally important matter and we must have a "crash" programme of housing. It may be that we must have almost a reactionary programme in some way, and go back to building "prefabs" in little, odd places. They can be made extraordinarily attractive and anything will be better than some of the conditions in which these people live. There is a definite shortage of housing—not because people want to be economic, but because there are no houses at all. Some of the better off people move out some miles, but there is still a very great need. Because there are not enough houses to go round one gets all the evils of high rents, overcrowding and the social and moral consequences 114 which arise from bad living conditions. What is needed is more houses, even of an emergency type, the regulation of multi-occupation by planning permission and the licensing of property for a limited number of people. I know that the legislation is there, but the authorities need to be encouraged to carry it out.
The third need on the positive side is education. There will be serious educational and integration problems in schools. The proportion of coloured children in any school should not, in the view of the Commonwealth Advisory Council, be more than a third. There are many cases in the Midlands of half a school, and some cases of practically the whole school, being coloured. Special provision ought to be made by the Government for educational grants, to deal with children who do not know the English language and have not been encouraged to learn it. At times, when we have tried to put up voluntary schemes for something of this sort, we have been accused of segregation. Of course we shall be accused of segregation policies. Whenever one tries to do something good there will be people who will misunderstand. There are always people who are falling over backwards to say, "This is due to race problems and race prejudice"—like the man who tried to get a job on the television. He was trying to get a job as an announcer, but he stuttered so badly that he failed, and he came out complaining that it was because of race prejudice.
In schools one has great difficulties with coloured children who need discipline and a certain amount of ticking-off. They come out and complain that they were given it because of their race. Of course one gets these small problems. But, whatever people may think, it is important that these children should learn English well, in order that other people should not be handicapped. I admit that it does not take very long. They pick up the language very quickly.
The word "immigrant" is rapidly becoming a synonym for "coloured", and that is dangerous and misleading because those words cover a wide variety of entirely different peoples even within the ranks, for example, of West Indians. This is important. Inter-island differences 115 are marked so that a city like Birmingham has regions in which one or other group lives. Handsworth is predominantly Jamaican. Saltley is the home of the Barbadians and the people of the Leeward Islands. There is often more of a caste and class difference amongst the immigrants themselves than there is in our own country, and we have to take note of that. In other words, there is a sense in which we must learn to discriminate; not to lump them all together—Pakistanis and West Indians. We have to know where they come from, the jobs they do. That is going to take time, and there will have to be plenty of people to do it.
We have been lucky in Birmingham in having a liaison officer, and the local authority has helped tremendously. I have had a special man in Canon Burrows who has done marvellous work among these people. He is greatly loved and that is his sole job. There are many voluntary agencies, such as East and West which has a People to People Week, which try to bring the people together. As Elspeth Huxley said, in Back Street New Worlds:They have taken the brunt of the invasion and their attitude has been the unacknowledged but decisive factor in shaping our national response.I do want to pay tribute to all the voluntary bodies, such as the Church and the local authorities, which have made this possible. I am speaking for the immigrants themselves who have often told me how much they would like to express publicly their thanks.
Lastly—and I shall close with this point—Kipling, who is not altogether to be trusted on the matter of immigration, said some very wise words, in talking about Sussex:God gave all men all earth to love,But since man's heart is small,Ordained for each one spot should prove,Beloved over all.There, I think, he spoke very great sense with a deep philosophy behind it—all earth to love, including aliens as well as members of the Commonwealth. But he was a practical realist as well, and he knew that one gains depth in having a small beloved unity. That unity has not got to be so enlarged that you love every other country but your own, and 116 every place other than the one you are living in. Nor, on the other hand, has it to be a tight little possessive thing—"This is mine and you are not going to share it."
What the balance is between having a place of your own and how much you give, will vary according to one's upbringing. Whether it be 15 per cent. or 20 per cent., I do not know. But there certainly ought to be this outgoing love and sympathy. We cannot legislate for courtesy; we cannot legislate for love and understanding. But we can legislate so that some of the abuses are taken away, and in order to make it easier for voluntary societies to carry out this most essential work.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I should like to join the right reverend Prelate in offering congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord St. Helens, on his maiden speech. To me it sounded rather more confident than the normal maiden speech. It was well informed, able and interesting, and, above all, it was audible. I hope that we shall hear from him again. Indeed, I almost hope that he will make the same speech again, when it will be possible to deal with some of the points that he made. As things are, he was free to say what he wished without any fear of being contradicted to-day.
The noble Lord and I have one thing in common (I hope he will not mind my reminding him of a painful incident) that is, that we have both been rejected by the electors of Central Wandsworth. I have now got over the feeling. It happened a long time ago, in 1922. But I was very badly beaten at my first election, and I have never been beaten so badly since then. However, I hope that we shall hear from the noble Lord again, and I am sure that we shall be greatly informed and enlightened by any speeches that he cares to make.
If I may take the liberty of contradicting him on one point, I think it is a dangerous thing in London, at any rate, to get into conversation with taxi-drivers. I think that the greatest service we can render is to let them get on with their driving. They are often somewhat terrifying, and if to the terror were added a conversation on immigration, I think we might well suffer.
117 I should like to say a few things about the speech of the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne. He started off by telling us that he wished to be as non-controversial as possible, and wished to take this subject out of the realm of Party politics. On the whole, he succeeded pretty well, and I congratulate him on the tone of his speech. I think he tried to be objective and, while he certainly was controversial in a good many respects—and one would expect that—I have no complaint to make of the arguments he put forward, though in many respects I would not agree with him.
I believe that we have to look at this question from an angle which so far has not been examined, and that is the fact that we are a Commonwealth. Being members of a Commonwealth implies certain things. And, first, it means that there is a very special relationship between the various members of the Commonwealth and between the various peoples of the Commonwealth. We have also to bear in mind that by far the great majority of the peoples of the Commonwealth are coloured, so that, unless we have some form of birth control in the Commonwealth, the discrepancy is going to be greater and greater as time goes on.
Then we have to face the fact that in many respects the link between the members of the Commonwealth is somewhat tenuous. At one time we hoped that we should all have the Monarchy to bind us together, but we have not got that. Most of the members of the Commonwealth are Republics, and the ties are really thin. Therefore, if we want to maintain the Commonwealth, we have to be extremely careful over the way we deal with this problem.
Some noble Lords have dealt with it (and I think this approach was not altogether absent from the speech by the right reverend Prelate) from the point of view that immigration is an evil. It may be a necessary evil, the argument runs, for we have to admit some immigrants because they are necessary for our economy. Where would our hospitals be, our transport, and so on, without them? The view taken is that, for the sake of appearances, we have to allow a certain number to come in, but that we should restrict immigration; that we must devise all sorts of means to limit the numbers, and 118 make it more and more difficult for these people to come in. I do not say that those statements have been deliberately made, but I could not help feeling that among a good many people there has been that sort of approach to the question of immigration. I am not accusing the right reverend Prelate of that attitude, but I had a feeling that there was behind his approach the sort of attitude of, "If only we could avoid having immigrants here, we should do so".
My own view—though I am sure that many noble Lords opposite will disagree with me—is that immigration is to be welcomed. I believe that the more the different races and peoples of the world can mix, can get to know one another and can live together on amicable terms, the better. Apart from the Commonwealth, we are living in a world where the great preponderance of people is made up of coloured people; and I myself have no doubt, looking ahead to the next 50 years, that the power and influence in the world are going to pass to coloured peoples. Therefore, from our point of view, it is foolish, if nothing else, to assume that for all time we are the superior people and that it is for us to dictate or lay down laws by which we are going to be kept apart as far as possible.
That is the approach that I myself would wish to make to this question, and I want to be quite frank and say that, when the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill was introduced, I was disposed to be against it. I felt it was a mistake, from the point of view of the maintenance of the Commonwealth, to try to restrict immigration into this country. I felt that we were the Mother Country, and that it was unnatural for a mother to say to her children, "You must not conic here, even though we are united in one Commonwealth".
But, as the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, said, we have to face this situation as it is now. To-day, there is limitation on immigration; and I accept it. And I would not advocate that we should go back on it. I do not think it is possible to turn the clock back in these matters, and we must face up to the fact that immigration is here to stay. From that point of view I agree with the noble Viscount that, since we have an Act to control immigration, it is wrong 119 that this Act should be evaded. And I am grateful to him for having put this Motion down and so enabled us to discuss how we can prevent evasion, what other steps need to be taken, and generally to give us an opportunity of discussing the whole question.
I will say a word or two later on about the four steps that the noble Viscount proposes for dealing with that evasion. What I should like to do now, having set out the approach that I think we ought to make to the question of immigration, is to say a few words on how we should deal with immigrants once they get here. First, we ought to aim to make them part of our society. The word "integration" has been used, and it has been criticised by a number of people—and I want to criticise it myself. I believe that integration is impossible. We need to face up to the fact that we cannot integrate people of such different civilisations and outlooks, at any rate not for a good many generations. Nevertheless, we ought to try to absorb them so far as possible. It may be that the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, will not like the word "absorb", but it is preferable to "integration". I think he understands what I mean. We want to treat them so that there is no discrimination against them in any way, on account of their colour or for any other reason, and we want to help them to become a part of our British life.
Among the aspects discussed have been the problems that face immigrants when they arrive here. One is the question of housing. I think that if we permit immigrants to come here on the basis that they are necessary for our economy (and that is, very largely, the basis on which many of the immigrants arrive: I leave out students for the moment; I am talking of people who come here to work with a permit, whether it is an "A", "B" or "C" permit), then there is an obligation on us to provide the conditions under which they can live decently, and not the sort of conditions which the right reverend Prelate has described and which the noble Lord, Lord St. Helens, has told us people in Central Wandsworth have to live under. One can hardly blame the immigrants for getting hold of such accommodation as is open to them; one can hardly blame them for letting out the accommodation, once they get it, into 120 rooms. All that is natural and understandable. And when the families come and there is no accommodation for them, they can hardly be blamed for packing themselves into one room. I do not think we have sufficiently appreciated our own responsibility in the matter.
Talking of housing, we should face the fact that if the local authority, which is the housing authority, were to give priority to immigrants, there would be social problems even greater than we already have. So I do not think that would be a solution. In my view, it is a matter for the Government: they must make themselves responsible for providing accommodation to immigrants—and I think the sooner they start doing that the better. Various suggestions have been made. One is that, in the case of single people, hostels should be acquired or put up to provide accommodation. I think that the Government, while recognising that they cannot do this immediately, ought to accept the responsibility for providing accommodation for the people who are permitted to come here to work.
On the question of education, I would say that again I appreciate the need for seeing that the schools are not over-weighted by immigrant children who might be a handicap to British children because their progress will not be as good as that of the normal English child, Therefore, I approve of what my noble friend Lord Stonham told us is Government policy in this matter. I think we must face the fact that, looking ahead, we shall be having another problem: the children of the present immigrants will grow up and they will not necessarily (those of them who benefit by the education we provide) be content, as are the majority, to become unskilled workers doing the work that nobody else wants to do of looking after refuse or the more arduous work (if it is more arduous) of bus conductors or suchlike. I think they will expect to play a full part in the economic life of the country, and we ought to be preparing ourselves for that state of affairs. They will want to go into the professions even more than at present and to take part in business life generally. If we really mean what we say in speaking of "integration"—what I mean by "absorption"—they must play a full part in every way in the economic 121 life of the country as well as in its social life.
That, my Lords, leads me to the social question. If we really mean that they are not to be second-class citizens, they must be accepted in all ranks of society. I know that is difficult at the moment, but as I pointed out, this will not so much apply to the present as to the next generation of immigrants. As to the third generation of immigrants, they probably will have become fully absorbed and educated arid be on terms of equality with members of the British public; and we shall have to face up to that position.
The noble and learned Viscount devoted a considerable part of his speech to the question of how we can deal with evasion. As I have said, I fully agree that if there is an Act of Parliament one must make sure it is not going to be evaded, that the people intended to come to this country under the Act should be admitted, not others. I thought the noble Viscount went rather beyond evasion in the suggestions he made; perhaps he intended to do so. For instance, the setting of a limit to the total number of immigrants, and the inclusion within that limit of the dependants, was rather more than dealing with the subject of evasion; it was an attempt to deal with the whole question of immigration on much more radical and, as I think, more reactionary lines than does the present Act of Parliament. I hope the Government will not accept that we should impose this arbitrary limit and include within it the members of the families.
I think my noble friend was right in pointing out a possible implication of this limit. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, did not accept this implication, but it could be that the effect of imposing this limitation would be to keep out dependants. The noble Lord shakes his head; but I contend that it could have this effect and I am prepared to demonstrate this by figures, but I do not want to take up the time of the House. It could be that the effect would be to keep out certain dependants because they were over and above the maximum number that had been prescribed in any one year. If, for the sake of argument, we said that 200,000 immigrants could come into the country, and it transpired that the admission of certain immigrants' dependants would 122 cause that number to be exceeded, obviously they would have to be excluded. That might be the effect. But I do not want to press that point too hard. One could possibly make provision for that in the maximum figure; but it is certainly an extension of the Act and not merely an attempt to deal with evasion. So it is with some of the other suggestions made, which I would agree require careful consideration; but it seems to me that they are certainly going beyond merely attempting to prevent evasion. It may be right that we should examine these matters, but I hope it will not be suggested that they are designed to deal only with evasion; they go beyond that.
I think that is all I want to say. Whatever we may say, however much we may desire to avoid political or Party political controversy in this matter, there is no doubt a strong division of opinion on this subject. I think it arises fundamentally, as I said earlier, between those who feel that we should welcome immigrants so long as we can absorb them—and I think it is a good thing that members of the Commonwealth should come here and become absorbed in our life and civilisation—and those who think that immigration is an evil in itself, that we ought to keep ourselves to ourselves, and that admitting a certain number of immigrants into this country is something that is perhaps unavoidable but should be resisted so far as possible. But I think that we would all agree that those whom we do admit should have the fullest opportunity of living the lives of the people of this country educationally, socially, and in every other way.
I hope that one of the outcomes of this debate will be that we can eliminate any idea of immigrants being regarded as second-class citizens and that we can, if need be by legislation, do what is necessary to avoid and prevent racial discrimination—and, as the noble Lady said, religious discrimination—and incitement. I should like to thank the noble and learned Viscount for initiating this debate, which I am sure will be useful and which, so far at any rate, has been carried on in the spirit in which he wished it to be.
THE LORD BISHOP OF BIRMINGHAM
My Lords. I did not want to interrupt the noble Lord during his 123 speech. If I gave the impression that I did not in any way want to have immigrants in this country then I gave an entirely wrong one. I am sorry if that is so. I delight in the companionship of so many of these people, and I am sorry if I gave the wrong impression.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, it was worth while my having said it, in order to get these words from the right reverend Prelate.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE
My Lords, I should like to add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord St. Helens, upon a powerful and skilled maiden speech. It is quite obvious that the loss of another place is a gain to your Lordships' House, and we look forward to hearing his contributions to further debates in the days to come. I would also say how welcome this debate is, and how grateful we should be to the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, for introducing this Motion. As he said, this is a subject which should not be treated as something to be avoided, something not to be referred to in polite society. There have been many appeals, much publicised, for the question of coloured immigration to be kept out of politics. I disagree with that entirely. We cannot keep the racial issue out of politics, because it is a subject on which people feel strongly, and all national problems are political problems. But that does not mean that they are Party political problems. Most citizens have views, but not necessarily Party views, on this problem. Indeed, the views on the problem of coloured immigration cut right across Party lines. We should welcome facing this as a political issue, if not a Party one.
As the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said, feelings run strong. Prejudices and grievances are felt on both sides. Her Majesty's Government have announced that they are going to introduce a Bill dealing with racial discrimination and incitement to race hatred. Welcome as this Bill may be, I do not believe that it will cure the evil. The noble Baroness, Lady Asquith of Yarnbury, talked of human attitudes. We may by the sanction of law make people act differently, but we cannot by the sanction of law make people think differently. It may be 124 reactionary, it may be regrettable; but if we ever held an Election in this country, with extreme views on both sides, with the cry of "Free entry to all immigrants!", on one side, and the cry, "Keep Britain White!" on the other, as the main issue, I am afraid that at the present time those who say, "Keep Britain White!", would win. Fortunately, this is not the position, and I hope that it never will be. But unless the problem is faced boldly and clearly, in a non-Party way—as, indeed, Her Majesty's Government and the noble and learned Viscount both seem to be doing—such a position may become possible in future. The time of grace is limited, and action such as was announced by the Prime Minister yesterday in another place is needed.
I cannot forget that the existence of this problem is to some extent our own responsibility. It is to some extent an indictment of the colonial policies and inadequacies of action of past Governments. If, in the last 65 years, greater efforts had been made, and more money had been used, to raise social standards and stimulate economic developments in the Colonies, a problem of this kind would not be with us to-day. But it is wrong to blame the men of the 1900s or 1920s or 1930s. As so often in the history of social progress, only now do we see the inadequacies of past thought and effort. We have only to look at the Industrial Revolution to prove that point. In those days, good, honest and Christian citizens—perhaps better than many of us—accepted child labour, the very idea of which horrifies us to-day. But that was the contemporary attitude. Therefore, while to some extent this problem is of our own making, we should not blame those who carried the responsibility for these inadequacies over the past 65 years.
Nevertheless, as a result of the past, we find to-day a large-scale immigration from backward lands: more and more families coming here to get the social benefits and material rewards which are unobtainable in their own lands. As other noble Lords have said, we in this country owe a great debt to the coloured immigrants. I have a feeling of gratitude, mingled with some feeling of shame, because the position has arisen that the chores of the nation are increasingly delegated to coloured immigrants. The question I ask myself is: why is this? 125 Are we too superior, too socially advanced, or too low in our wage levels that so much of the unskilled and unpleasant daily tasks have to be left to these men?
Noble Lords have said that the buses would not run, the Tubes might stop, the rubbish would not be collected, and certainly the nursing staffs in hospitals would be seriously depleted and probably some hospitals might have to close, if it were not for the services these people render. If we had not these coloured immigrants, these services would have to be done by our reluctant citizens, at a far higher cost; and to get the British labour required, unskilled wages would have to rise steeply, with consequential effects on the local rates for public services and, remembering the built-in differentials in our industrial system, on national wage levels. It is no exaggeration, I think, to say that these men contribute to our holding our present wage levels, at a critical competitive time for British industry in the world's markets.
Having said that, I believe that it is in the interests of the men and their families here that the Government, by the measures they are proposing, and, I trust, by the steps taken to avoid evasion, such as the noble and learned Viscount suggested, should strictly hold the position steady until the community can absorb all those here at the present time. The flow of immigrants should be limited to the socially absorptive capacity, as it grows: until housing and education are adequate; until our social sense is aroused, by the Government's efforts, to accept gladly the presence of these men, both skilled and unskilled, and until they also feel themselves part of, and not separate from the rest of, the community.
As noble Lords have said in various speeches to-day, that is a tremendous task and responsibility of the Government. This is a national problem, not a local one, and therefore I hope that the burden of expense and special steps which the Government may take to encourage (to use that horrid word) integration will be an Exchequer expenditure and not on local rates, or the burden will be unfair on local communities and resentment will be fostered still further locally.
My final point (I am glad to see the Under-Secretary for the Colonies here), 126 again in the interests of immigrants here and those wishing to come here, is that the Government should at once campaign to make known in Colonial territories, and I think mainly in the West Indies, that the Government limitations and restrictions arc not a colour bar policy, but are in the true interests of the nationals of those territories, both here and in the territories themselves. I have recently been in the West Indies (the noble Lord has, too) and I was shocked at the newspaper articles, the letters and propaganda which depict Government restrictions as part of a selfish, colour-conscious Britain, against whose restrictions a fight must be waged in the interests of colour. There is not a word in those local papers to counter the local effects. I would ask the Government to use now all modern methods of communication—radio, paid advertisements, contributed articles—to explain why, in the long run, it is for their own individual and collective benefit as well as for our own social orderliness in this country, that Britain should take the steps she has taken and those she is about to take.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ BARONESS SWANBOROUGH
My Lords, to-night I speak as Chairman of the Commonwealth Immigrants Advisory Council, which was set up in 1962 by the then Home Secretary. While I agree with the last speaker about the burden of the cash content being spread throughout the country, I cannot agree with all the other things he said. As a Council we have regular monthly meetings, and a great deal of hard work is done in between. From the evidence that we have had from visits paid and papers that have been submitted, we have found that a great deal is being done at local level where the problem is more acutely felt. But there is a great deal more to be done, and there is no question that the cost is difficult to meet.
All members of the Council have been surprised at how definitely the problems fall into a series of broad general categories, and because we have felt there was an urgency in the problem, and it was not one that could be left sine die, we have submitted to the Home Secretary of the day three reports which have been published as White Papers, and the recommendations in those reports are what I propose to ask your Lordships to consider.
127 All these recommendations are practical recommendations. But recommendations, as everything else that has been spoken of to-day, need the co-operation and participation of the nation, as a whole, and not just a few people labouring in that direction. The right reverend Prelate did not report what he might well have said, and that is the wonderful lead that Birmingham has given to the country in the way in which it has handled the housing problem. But I, personally, am sad to hear so many noble Lords talk of a second-class citizen. Have we ever accepted that a second-class citizen exists? Do we really believe that we are aiming to allow that the immigrant, whether coloured or not, be a second-class citizen? I feel that we as a nation have failed a great deal. We must always take a part of the onus of that failure.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, is my noble friend suggesting that second-class citizens have been created, and that we have failed? The whole object of the Government's policy is to ensure that this does not happen.
§ BARONESS SWANBOROUGH
I am sorry. As usual, I have not made myself as clear as I hoped to do. What I mean is that people are talking about a second-class citizen. What is a second-class citizen'? The first time I heard the term used I asked three civil servants what it meant, because I thought they would know; but they did not. Since that day I have taken great exception to the expression "second-class citizen".
I feel that nobody makes enough of the fact that we need these people, irrespective of land of origin or colour, just as much as we need our own people. Without them, as many noble Lords have said, we should be in dire trouble. I am surprised that, although noble Lords have spoken of transport and hospitals, few have talked about other things. Industries, by employing more members from Commonwealth territories, in the shape of Pakistanis and others, have been able to keep the wheels going and have achieved very successful outputs. This is where we as a nation have not behaved as well as we usually do, and as we should like the world to believe we do. We have not made sufficient impression on our colleagues and other 128 nationals that to be against coloured immigrants because of one's own feelings and one's own possessions is hardly worthy of a man or woman who claims to be British. Every time we discuss these things it comes to people not liking the habits of the new entrants, and the fact that they fear that their own property may be damaged due to those habits. For this reason, I was delighted to hear the news that a goodly number of Members in another place are taking this question up on a non-Party basis. This, I feel, will make a bigger contribution than anything else.
One realises only too well that troubles arise from different customs, and especially from varying ways of living. But basically—and of this I am as sure as I have ever been of anything—the biggest single problem is housing; and this problem is extremely difficult from the local authorities' point of view, because if they were to use the powers they have they would be in the difficult position of having to re-house those people whom they deem to be in over-occupied premises, and by rehousing them they would arouse local feeling, because the local people would feel that the entrant was being housed ahead of them. We, as a Council, have again and again traced local difficulties back to their source, and always they come back to multi-occupation, lack of available lodgings, overcrowding and lack of understanding of housing regulations. One can realise that in the country of origin life is much simpler, and buying a house is the termination of an undertaking. There are no complicated regulations to comply with, such as the owner of a house has to comply with in this country.
The first Report that we placed before the Home Secretary of the day (Command 2119) stated that, in the view of the Council, local authorities already had sufficient powers to deal with the situation in their areas, but not all local authorities were using the powers, and for a variety of reasons. The most often reported reason is always this question of re-housing people.
Nobody has mentioned to-day the fact that if an immigrant puts his name on the housing list as soon as he arrives in a locality, and waits his turn alongside all others, when he is allocated a house there 129 is never any trouble and, indeed, in some localities houses have been allocated a little sooner than the time of the normal waiting period. But this question of housing inserts itself into everything. We feel that explanations in regard to local regulations must be made available to those who are acquiring houses, and who are ready to assume responsibility in the locality. There is evidence all over the country that the rapacious salesmen land rather naive entrants with houses which need a great deal of repair, houses for which there is not a life tenancy as they thought, and all manner of things of that type.
Therefore, it is not only our own housing authorities which are having trouble, but also the people who are trying, as landlords, to tidy up the situation which rather slick estate agents on occasion have created. We feel as a Council that a great number of leaflets, in a number of different languages, should be available. This is very difficult indeed. The number of different languages spoken, the fact that many of the entrants do not even read their own language, present a problem which makes for the need for a great many more people to explain a great deal more through interpreters at local level. This is why I began by stating that the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, was right in saying that the question of costs should be spread over the nation as a whole, and not placed merely on the local authority. If the local authority have to supply liaison workers, special visitors, special types of leaflets, translators, and printing, they are a little dubious sometimes of undertaking the responsibility which all this would entail.
Our Council put next to housing the question of education. They look upon the needs for the immigrant as housing first, education second, and the placement of the young third. The problem of education is so difficult that I will not burden your Lordships with all that I could say. But I would say that it is made harder, in areas where there is already a shortage of teachers, by the fact that special teachers are needed in addition to help with the entrants, and unless some assistance is given the situation will be impossible. The Ministry of Education have done great things already, and have put up the quotas in the areas where such teachers 130 are required. But, even so, I think a great deal more emphasis will have to be focused on ways to overcome this particular situation. A fact which few people recognise, but which is a real one, is that quite often a child of 9, 10 or 11 is brought by air from its home and placed in a school a day or two days after it arrives in this country. The child has already suffered a great change, and can hardly be expected to be able to join in the life of the school automatically. This puts on the teacher yet more trouble.
We as a Council feel that there is a great deal that ought to be undertaken straight away. We cannot accept that it is good for a person to speak English with the intonation of his own country, which is not understood here. So recommendations have been made that the hazard of intonation should be watched and corrected. We have therefore suggested that language laboratories should study this question, and special classes be devoted to it. The reason why we are doing this is that, after having interviewed a number of personnel officers, we found that the greatest obstacle to giving good jobs to young people on leaving school was that their communication over the telephone was so difficult, and they were not offered the better jobs because of the need to correct this failure.
We also feel that there ought to be a great deal done in the way of teaching English to adults. This is much more difficult to carry through, because adults do not like to go to a school to learn English. They say that the children's desks are uncomfortable—and small wonder at that—and they also hate attending at the right time, because they feel that to be required to do so is treating them like children. The fact that some of them cannot read at all does not seem to present itself, and these are things where patience and a good deal of attention are needed. Like the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, my Council feel that there will not be the same difficulty in the next generation or the succeeding one; but they are very apprehensive of the situation to-day, where so much ought to be taught and the labourers in the vineyard are few.
In regard to the placement of school leavers, we have had a good deal of discussion with and evidence from youth 131 employment officers. They state that, because of the language and communication difficulty, it takes as long to place a young immigrant as it does a disabled person, because the right place must be found, for a great mistake is made in placing a person where later he will be unhappy and deemed a failure. That makes it quite evident that information must be available to parents as well as to pupils. The late entrant must be given the opportunity to remain longer in school, and all the ramifications of education should be understood by the parents just as much as by the pupil.
I was thrilled to listen to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord St. Helens. He knew what he was talking about, and he had the solution to some of the problems, But, above all, he said quite categorically what many of us must feel, and that is unless the burden of this integrating, assimilating, absorbing—whatever you like to call it—is spread among many, the job can never be done. Neither legislation nor enthusiastic talking will make people do something. It is only example that in the long run will tell. This is where we feel that one should alleviate local fear in regard to the things they believe are bad. The right reverend Prelate said, or indicated, that one of the things that immigrants brought to the country was V.D. On the evidence we have had, this is not so. There may be a little but, unfortunately, this is an evil which we have in the country. The fact that we are screening and watching for T.B. should help us to avoid something else that might become a worry in the country, and might, in the long run, be a difficulty and exacerbate bad feeling.
However, there is no question at all that in the field of health more health visitors are wanted, and more people who can translate for the health visitors. This again is a local expense, and a local problem, when health visitors are already at a premium. We feel that in those places—and there are some—where a good health visitor is able to visit a new entrant and explain how, why and when, much is done in the direction of the solution of such problems as dustbins, noise, over-smelly and rich foods, and cooking. I am ashamed to say that I never realised that a human being could acquire and eat food that would be condemned if it were on sale. I understand 132 this is one of the many difficulties we are meeting.
I do not think anybody has shown how fearful immigrants naturally are because they do not understand. I am quite convinced that our health visitors or official visitors must remember this, and that they ought to know something about the religious customs of the country of origin, about national habits, and a little about the way that other people live, eat and enjoy themselves. Their living, eating and enjoying is diametrically opposed to the way we would want to live, eat and enjoy. Of course, we think we are right, and of course the immigrant thinks he is. It is for this reason that our Council have recommended that local authorities should have liaison officers at the town hall with adequate translators to be of a real service to those who wish to have any information, and to debunk the suspicion with which the immigrant regards all officialdom and relieve the worry he feels as a result of visits. We have suggested educational adjustments and have begged for adult teaching. Great stress has been laid on the suggestion of having conferences for teachers, health visitors, youth employment officers and welfare officers so that they may learn something about the origins of the habits which the immigrants practise.
We have had one signal success. On our recommendation a small sum of money has been put at the disposal—I need hardly say, with the usual safeguards—of a committee which is fortunate enough to have the services of a very devoted and very experienced advisory officer who is independent (I am sure she thanks heaven for this) of official control. She is dedicated in her aims and is very valuable indeed in her work. She visits local authorities and advises; she tells one local authority what is being done in another local authority. If this is done carefully and tactfully enough it works very well. But, of course, only just the fringe is touched. Local authorities, I believe, have done a very good job. But they are fearful of expenditure and are nervous of attack by their own residents. This is why I am so immensely happy at the Statement which was made yesterday by the Prime Minister. To my mind, it is a real step in the direction that we all believe can help 133 and can do the things we want. If housing, education, placement and health can all be tackled, although advance will be slow, methods can be quietly and successfully introduced and I think a great many of the problems can be solved.
My Lords, I think the whole problem has been exaggerated out of all measure because individuals have thought that that was the way of gaining what they wanted. We as a nation must make the individual realise that in this country the individual and his possessions are only a part of a whole. This is a country that all of us endeavour to serve, and many of us believe it can do what no other country can do. But, in order to achieve this, it is necessary for individuals to sink their personal wishes and their personal ambitions and go forward to that time when there will be no difference between one person and another, and all will have the same chance, although some will be luckier than others, to fulfil their ambitions and hopes.
§ 6.54 p.m.
§ LORD BROWN
My Lords, this is a non-Party issue, and I should like to start—I am pleased to be able to do so by saying that I agree with the view of the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, that we need further legislation on this matter. I say this, I think for the same reason that many people have said it, because unless we limit immigration, the number of people of different cultures in our own country will end up as a problem which will not be soluble later except with efforts we may not be able to bring to bear on it. We do not wish to get into the American position.
I agree with many people who have said that in the long term this is in the interests of the immigrants themselves. There is no question about it. We must have breathing space so that we may get a second generation of immigrants; and it is with the second generation that integration, whatever you like to call it, really counts. I am a Scot. I moved down to this part of the world many years ago. This country has faced problems of integration, of the Irish and all sorts of other people over the years, but it was always the second generation that really fitted in.
This is a greater problem, but it is still in essence the same problem. When one looks at it in the broadest possible 134 way, one finds there is an analogy between what has been happening in this country over the years and this situation with which we are faced with regard to immigration. We shall not solve this problem until the rate of development and investment in the West Indies, Africa, Pakistan and elsewhere is such that unemployment ceases in those countries, the demand for labour in this country diminishes, and the pressure from those countries to emigrate to this country disappears. I do not see much hope of solving the problem in a few years, so we must therefore limit the rate of immigration into this country; and we need immediate legislation to enable that control to be exercised.
I would say one or two words about the industrial situation, about which not much has been said this afternoon. I am associated with a company that has employed a high percentage of coloured people. I keep on mentioning "coloured people" because this is the focus of the problem. We have not got a problem with people from other Western European countries or people with the same culture as ourselves. We have employed from 10 per cent. to 12 per cent. of coloured people. We had in the factory managers and representatives who I am able to say were completely liberal about this problem; to them there was no problem at all.
These coloured people began to be employed, and after a year or two it was acknowledged by people who were full of the milk of human kindness and full of ideas on international brotherhood, such as people who had been bred in the Labour movement in this country, that we really did have problems, and that those problems arose not from our attitudes but from the attitudes of the coloured people. We have had difficulties such as those which have been referred to by the right reverend Prelate, of colour bars between peoples from the West Indies, Nigeria and Pakistan, and we could not agree to those colour bars being operated. We had West Indians saying, "I am not going to work here because there is a Nigerian on the next machine, and I object". We got to the stage of saying: "You have a choice: you can either work beside the Nigerian or you can leave the company". I think this is the correct attitude to adopt, because 135 one thing coloured people must face is that if they join this community of ours they may affect its outlook, and they have to remember the lesson that when in Rome one lives as the Romans live.
We have had other problems, such as the interpretations of integrity, of hygiene and of other matters by people from cultures which are different from those in this country. There is no implication in my remark that their interpretations are better or are worse than ours. They are different. These do create extreme problems in factories. They do not come to light in public discussions, but they are there.
We have also the problem of promotion, and here I think the coloured people are not getting a fair crack of the whip. This is a very difficult problem to solve. People all the way down the line have as their responsibility the task of deciding who shall get promotion. I think prejudice enters into this. If you are in charge of a large factory you cannot demand that people be unprejudiced; they do not know that they are being prejudiced.
There is one thing which might be done here. I was very interested some years ago to read and to circulate a number of copies of the UNESCO Statement on Race. I think many people have forgotten its existence. It was published in July, 1950, as a result of consideration by some twenty eminent sociologists and psychologists. I will not bore your Lordships by reading it, except for one paragraph, which says:According to present knowledge, there is no proof that the groups of mankind differ in their innate mental characteristics, whether in respect of intelligence or temperament. The scientific evidence indicates that the range of mental capacities in all ethnic groups is much the same.I think there is an active assumption to the opposite effect in the minds of a large number of people in this country, and this is one of the causes of lack of promotion opportunity for people, particularly coloured people. One of the great things that would help to solve the psychological problems is for these people to see more of their number getting promotion. I think more of them are entitled to promotion than achieve it.
There is one point I should like to make and it is a critical one. Many 136 people tend to deal with this problem in terms of good-hearted sentimentalism. I am all for sentiment, but against sentimentalism. With the greatest respect to the noble Baroness, Lady Asquith of Yarnbury, when she said as others have said more than once in this debate—that we owe a great debt of gratitude to these people for coming here and manning the hospitals, driving tube trains, and so on, I think this is sentimentality. Equally, they owe a debt to us for delivering their bread or building their houses. We all share in the work of the community. We do not owe debts to each other for what each does for the other. I think it is a pity to make these statements, because they can be taken quite literally by some people. The obvious consequence of saying we owe a debt is to acknowledge it by giving them a privileged position. I do not think anybody suggests that. We want to live together with these people as citizens of this country.
I believe this is not a disastrous situation. All three Parties have faced it. In time we can solve it if we limit the number of resident coloured people of this country for a period, until we have learned better how to deal with the situation, until the second generation is emerging, with the growth of insight which is going on now. Let us face it, the growth of insight into this problem in the last ten years has been enormous. Only ten years ago people used to consider this problem in terms of, "I am not going to let my daughter marry a black man", and that sort of thing. One does not hear that any longer. With that growth of insight we shall tackle the problem if we face up to limitation, because it is rapid growth in numbers which might inhibit the solutions which I think are in hand.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ LORD ELTON
My Lords, you will be relieved to know that I have already torn up two-thirds of my notes. I must apologise at once for the fact that I cannot possibly be here at the end of the debate, and hear the reproofs which possibly I should otherwise have received from the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. Owing to circumstances over which I have no control, or virtually no control, I must catch a train which will take me away fairly soon. I took the 137 precaution of consulting the Government Whips' Office yesterday and telling them my predicament, and they encouraged me to proceed. No doubt it is difficult always to calculate the number of lengthy speeches. But I apologise if I have to leave your Lordships earlier than I should have wished.
I should like to assure noble Lords on the Front Bench that I have taken serious note of their numerous and avuncular exhortations to keep the whole subject clear of Party political controversy. should not find it difficult, because I am an Independent in politics. There is no Party in favour of which I want to make points. But I should like to congratulate the noble Lords themselves on this remarkable change of heart.
Only the other day I was reading the House of Lords OFFICIAL REPORT Of the debate on the Act of 1962, and on that occasion some noble Lords were making a series of most searing Party political points on this very subject which they are now saving we must not make controversial points about. That is all right with me, so long as I am not told, whenever I disagree with something said by noble Lords on that Bench, that I am being controversial in not accepting it. It is an astonishing change of heart, one of the most remarkable in my political memory. In general, I think this change of heart is both praiseworthy and natural; praiseworthy because most of us can remember occasions when we should have been very glad to eat our own words, but shrank from doing so, and natural because most Labour Members of another place represent towns, and therefore will have much more opportunity of seeing at first hand the grim new slums, and the insoluble problems which they are inevitably breeding, than, say, a Conservative Member for one of the hunting shires.
I noticed that the noble Baroness, Lady Asquith of Yarnbury (who has again disappeared), made an observation which was almost a repetition of something said by one right reverend Prelate when we last discussed the subject. He said that there is something eminently fitting in the Metropolis of a multiracial Commonwealth being itself multiracial. With the deepest respect to the Bishops' Bench, and also to the absent Baroness, that seems to me to be a mere play on words, meaning 138 little or nothing. The British Commonwealth is not multiracial, in the sense in which Britain is becoming multiracial, so that in Birmingham, for example, a leaflet on overcrowding has recently been issued in thirteen different languages. The British Commonwealth does not consist of a number of nations each containing large numbers of different races, coloured and white. What it does consist of overwhelmingly is a number of coloured nations which admit to permanent residence the most diminutive number of whites, and a number of white nations which admit to permanent residence the most diminutive number of coloured, or none at all. That is surely not the sort of multiracial character which Britain is rapidly assuming.
What I wish to stress, in the few moments I shall trouble your Lordships, is that there is so much about this present situation which nobody knows and nobody has any means of knowing; and that seems to me extremely dangerous. It may well be that the situation is far more urgent and acute than we even suppose it to be. It is ridiculous to realise this, but we do not know even how many Afro-Asian immigrants there are at present here. Until last October it was generally accepted that the most reliable estimate was 500,000. In October, the Government put it at 800,000. In January, The Times newspaper published its series on "the Dark Million", and personally, I suspect that one million is an under-estimate. But we do not know.
Nor do we know how many are going to come this year or next year, or the year after that. The noble Lord can tell us there will be a quota of 20,000, but that is reckoning only for voucher-holders. He cannot possibly know how many dependants are going to follow each voucher-holder. Still less, probably, can he tell us how many illicit entrants are going to prise their way through the back doors which have been forced open by the racketeers of three Continents.
We do not know the birthrate of the coloured immigrants in this country: there are no separate statistics. That is an important aspect of the problem. All we have are isolated shafts of light on local conditions. We know, for 139 example, that 70 per cent. of the maternity beds in Willesden were recently occupied by immigrant mothers. But we do not know what the birthrate here is going to be. We know only that it is high in most of their native countries. We do not know, because there are no separate statistics, how many of them are receiving National Assistance. We believe that there are but few; but we do not really know.
It is much the same with health—no adequate Government picture, only shafts of isolated light thrown on isolated local conditions. We have, for example, the President of the British Tuberculosis Association telling us that investigations in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and a number of other large towns, have confirmed an incidence of tuberculosis among Asians at 25 times that of our native citizens; or the Medical Officer of Health of Bradford putting the incidence there at from 13 to 30 times the native rate. We suddenly learn, almost by chance, if we happen to read the Press, that a survey of 150 venereal disease clinics has shown that 52.8 per cent. of all their male patients are immigrants. We hear Professor Malgraith, the Dean of the School of Tropical Medicine, emphasising that new tropical diseases are coming in, often without being diagnosed, until they become a danger to the community.
Least of all, with all these uncertainties, are we in a position to assess the industrial and financial balance sheet of the immigrants. Admittedly, we know that we are getting invaluable help in the hospitals and in medicine; although it is true, as the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, pointed out when we last discussed this subject, that these are just the people whom their own ill-supplied countries most need at home.
We know that the immigrants are taking over a large number, though by no means all, of the harder and lower-paid types of labour. Here, I am afraid, we are re-enacting the story of the Roman Empire which in its years of decadence used to import subject races to do its dirty work for it. But what nobody knows, and what nobody can know, so far as I can see, is what is the long-term cost, in social services alone, of importing one man to do a job, plus 140 perhaps two, three or four dependants, who will live here permanently and their descendants after them, as compared with the practice in other countries—for example, in West Germany—where workers work on a much more temporary basis. On a reckoning last October it looked as if 61 per cent. of them were there for less than two years, and they have far fewer dependants. The reckoning last October was that the proportion of dependants there was less than half those of our own immigrants.
Nobody knows what the effect on our balance of payments may be of home remittances from the immigrants, or of the purchase of additional food from overseas. Nobody knows what the effect of abundant cheap labour on slowing down automation may be; or, when automation does, belatedly, dispense with a great deal of underpaid labour, and we get a great deal of unemployment, what will happen when we hear the familiar cry, "Last in first out!" Nobody knows how many new towns will have to be built, in view of our own population explosion, on our fast vanishing countryside.
But although there is such a lot that we do not know, there are one or two things that we do know. We do surely know that we are breeding insoluble or—let us not be pessimistic—profoundly difficult problems for our children and our grandchildren. We do know that one million immigrants to-day, plus their dependants, plus the "black market" entries, plus the offspring of all of them, must slowly, but inevitably and profoundly, alter the character of Britain. And we also know, or ought to know, that this prospect causes profound concern and distress to a great many ordinary people, or indeed, in political terms, I believe, to a majority of the electorate.
Your Lordships may recall that as long ago as last summer a public opinion poll reported that a majority of voters in all Parties was in favour of stricter controls, while of the substantial minority, which even then was in favour of some sort of prohibition, a majority came from the Labour Party. Since then, there has been evidence of growing public concern which I forbear to mention. But I have been recently greatly struck by an experience of my own. Just over a fortnight ago—to be exact, a fortnight last 141 Monday—I wrote a letter which was published in the Daily Telegraph, in the course of which I used words which The Times newspaper had recently ascribed to an unnamed Labour Minister:Everyone in British politics knows in his hones that there will have to be a ban, whether temporary or otherwise.Let me say here that I should be perfectly ready to substitute for the word "ban" the words "limitation on residents", as suggested by the noble and learned Viscount who moved the Motion, because if the limitation on residents were to be at a reasonable figure it would have much the same effect.
That letter was published over a fortnight ago, and since then not a single post has passed without my receiving a number of letters of comment from the public. I have not been able to count them all, but I was foolish enough to set out to acknowledge them all, and I know that I had to answer 27 by one post alone. Every one has been in favour of my proposition—indeed, passionately in favour. But what has impressed me so deeply is not so much the number of letters, or the fact that they came from all classes and from all parts of the country, as the deep distress obviously felt by many quite ordinary and sensible people who have written; and the fact that, in the minds of so ninny of the writers, the influx of immigrants is closely linked with the emigration of so many of our valuable citizens from this country—1½ million, all told, between the end of the war and the end of 1963. A number of writers quoted examples from their own town or village of citizens who have emigrated because, they say, they feared what Britain may become for their children. My Lords, this may be exaggerated fear, but it is evidently widely felt by perfectly sensible and ordinary citizens.
Last week, Sir Cyril Osborne sought leave to introduce a Bill into another place. Although the Bill perhaps did not go so far as the proposal of the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, it would at any rate greatly have increased the strictness of our controls over immigration. I was interested to see that the Leader of the Conservative Party, and several of his Cabinet colleagues, voted in favour of giving leave to introduce the Bill. I presume, therefore, that in 142 any future Election the Conservative Party will include in its manifesto proposals at least as drastic as those which were outlined in the proposal for Sir Cyril Osborne's Bill. As I said before, I am Independent and have not the slightest desire to see the migration issue become a weapon of offence in the Party dogfight. What I still hope to see is both Parties agreeing to what I am convinced a majority of the electorate is more than impatient for: that is, what previously I would have called prohibition, at any rate for a time, but what now, following the noble Viscount, I should be prepared to call a reasonable limitation on residents. I am convinced that whichever Party includes this in its programme at the next Election will win the Election if the other Party has not included it. But how much better for all concerned, including the immigrants already here, if both do!
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, I should like to join with others in thanking my noble and learned friend Lord Dilhorne for introducing this debate. When I decided to speak I expressed the hope that I should speak after my old friend Lord Elton, because he is one of the very few people who has been continuously putting before the public a view which I believe to be right. I did not know how many would support him, but I certainly meant to do so.
I expresed my views on these great issues in the debate on December I last year, and I have no intention of repeating even the main arguments which I then put forward. I concluded with an expression of opinion which I still hold, that the ordinary electors in this country are showing themselves far wiser than any political Party. I believe that still to be true, though I am glad to say that all political Parties are moving in the right direction. The two speeches with which I found myself in the greatest agreement were the admirable maiden speech of my noble friend Lord St. Helens, which was immediately followed by a fascinating and wise speech by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Birmingham. If I may say it, in passing, I did not think that his speech, to most of us, was capable of the misunderstanding which it apparently encountered from the noble Lord, Lord Silkin.
143 I confess that I was rather depressed by a good number of other things said in the debate. I was nearly very much depressed by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, when there suddenly occurred a sentence with which I found myself in such great agreement that I had a hope that perhaps I was being harsh to him on some of the other things. He said towards the end of his speech—I cannot quote him exactly but I think the sentence was to this effect—that the Government had every intention of limiting immigration to what we could assimilate. That seemed to me a most encouraging sentence. I was not quite clear whether he thought they would have that power under existing legislation, or whether it was a promise that they would, if need be, introduce other legislation.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I had hoped that I had made the position perfectly clear, namely, that the Government intend to give the new arrangements with regard to evasion a fair trial. If we then find that they are ineffective, we shall have to look at the matter again and may have to ask for other powers.
§ LORD CONESFORD
I am grateful to the noble Lord for making that matter clear. It enables me to say that I think my noble and learned friend Lord Dilhorne was right in demanding earlier legislation. Whatever may be the opinion on whether it is necessary to limit the total number of people entering this country for residence, whatever the necessity may be at the present moment, I think that most thoughtful people in this House, in another place, and I am certain in the country, think that the power to limit numbers is one which the Government of this country ought to possess. I was greatly relieved, having listened with increasing depression to the debate (with the exception of the two speeches to which I have already referred and the proposals of my noble friend Lord Dilhorne), and delighted by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Brown, who specifically said that he agreed with my noble and learned friend Lord Dilhorne, and then proceeded to attack the one speech which really depressed me, the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Asquith of Yarnbury.
I did not expect that I was going to be depressed by her speech. I have often 144 listened to her with the greatest pleasure. I have, on other occasions, admired her oratory, and I was very sorry that she quoted her most distinguished father, whom I had so much admired when I first took an interest in politics, on the one statement that I always thought to be wholly untenable; that there was something peculiarly wrong about negative action. If you are stopping a folly, there is nothing to be said against the action on the ground that it is negative. Apparently, if you are a Liberal and see a fire engine engaged in putting out a fire in a building, you say "Stop" to the fire engine, "your action is purely negative and contemptible". We must get away from this ridiculous idea that, if an action is wise, it is to be condemned because it is negative. A negative action may be precisely what is most required.
The noble Lady never mentioned what I thought was the clearest and most relevant fact in this whole problem, namely, that this Island is about the most overcrowded place in the whole world. Noble Lord after noble Lord has got up and shown the importance of this problem of immigration to such problems as housing, education and public order; that every one of those problems will become worse and may even become insoluble if we continue immigration for the purpose of residence at anything like its recent pace. That proposition is either true or false, but there is nothing wicked about believing it.
We should try to find out what is the truth about this problem. It is much more important to find out what is the truth about it than to get every political Party to agree on an untruth. People talk about taking the matter out of politics and say how glorious it is when three members of three different Parties all agree to take the matter out of politics—without anybody inquiring whether those three members have got the right solution to the problem. But, my Lords, that is something that really matters. Have they got the right solution to the problem? If they have not, this all-Party agreement to take the matter out of politics becomes mischievous nonsense, and it does something worse in a democracy; it means that those electors who have to face the problem in their daily lives despair of the conduct of the political Parties and of their representatives. Nothing, I think, has done more harm on this issue than 145 the abuse heaped on such places as Smethwick and Birmingham, and other places, where the electors were greatly concerned because they knew the problem at first hand.
I have said in the earlier debate as I say now; of course I should like to see this problem, as so many other problems, outside Party politics. But I want to see it outside Party politics only if the Parties agree on something which I regard as wise. Fortunately, they do sometimes in this particular problem. As I pointed out on an earlier occasion, and as I am glad to say the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister pointed out yesterday, we are all agreed and have long been agreed on absolutely humane and equal treatment to any immigrant, no matter what his race, who is accepted for residence in this country, and there must be no such thing as a second-class citizen.
The noble Lady who spoke from the Cross-Benches said what a pity it was that anybody had mentioned second-class citizens, but as everybody who did so in every quarter did it only in order to say that he was wholly against the idea, I do not quite know what her complaint was. It is something on which we are all absolutely agreed. I should like to think that we could agree on a further mailer, but unfortunately we cannot, and that is that it is important what are the total numbers, if we are not to have immigration at such a pace as to make every problem almost insoluble. I think the Government realise that that may come and I have little doubt, if they live as a Government long enough, that we shall see them in due course bringing in the legislation to give them the necessary powers, though I think they should bring it in at quite an early date. I know it is no use putting it to those Sunday papers which take a high moral line, or to some of the other weeklies, but really we do not much advance matters when we attack any conviction of anybody with whom we differ by calling it racial prejudice. My Lords, we really do not take things any further.
I said in the earlier debate that, though I believed I had no racial prejudice, I did not know, because I never know how one finds out whether or not one has a prejudice. I ventured, as some of your 146 Lordships may remember, to quote the well-known saying of my friend Lord Hewart, the former Lord Chief Justice:The only impartiality possible to the human mind is that which arises from understanding neither side of the case."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 261 (No. 15), col. 1041, December 1, 1964.]I have never sought that particular impartiality, and I do not know whether or not I suffer from racial prejudice, but I am giving my honest opinion that I do not think I do, but I may be quite wrong. But I also agree with that great Liberal whom I quoted on the last occasion, Madariaga, whose letter to The Times showed that he thought there was nothing whatsoever improper in a European country wishing to keep itself white.
I agree very much with what the noble Lord, Lord Elton, said about the nonsense that is being talked when it is said that, because there are many countries in the British Commonwealth of all colours and races, therefore every single unit has got to be multiracial. But of course it does not follow at all. I have forgotten the exact quotation about the need to be free if you rule over freemen, but I always remember Johnson's parody that you might just as well say, "Who drives fat oxen should himself be fat". It does not follow. I agree, of course, that there are great economic arguments in favour of some of this immigration, but as I said before, economic arguments, though important, must not be pursued to the exclusion of everything else.
I have already spoken for longer than I intended, but I want to impress upon the House what I regard as the most important thing of all. If we go on as the noble Lord, Lord Brown, has pointed out, and as the right reverend Prelate has pointed out, to neglect these problems, they will become insoluble. To recognise them in time and to take adequate steps to deal with them is not in the least illiberal, and we ought to try to credit our opponents with reasonable political honesty, and, when we differ from them on this issue, not think that we can get away with it by simply denouncing their convictions, their honest convictions, as racial prejudice.
§ 7.38 p.m.
My Lords, I am at least consistent, like my noble friend Lord Elton, on this subject, for I received 147 the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill with enthusiasm; a great deal more enthusiasm than was shown by many other Members of another place and of your Lordships' House. I think the recent revelations about illegal immigration have deeply shocked the British public. They, who walk tremblingly in their queue past the immigration officers, wondering whether their passports are in order, have now found that, apparently, thousands of people can "pop in" in a quite irregular manner. Moreover, they read in the papers that criminals can also get out.
This has come as rather a shock to people who regard their passports with considerable awe. It does not surprise me a great deal, because anybody with Eastern experience knows that the profiteers in illicit immigration—and that is what they are—are extremely ingenious people, and I have always maintained are likely to make rings round any of our British immigration officials. That is why I have more than once advocated that the Department should be reinforced by people who have served in the Indian Civil Service or the old Indian Police Service, to deal with these particular problems.
It is not so much the immigrant himself who has to be caught; it is the men behind him, the dealers in illicit immigration, the people who make large money out of it. The Government have made a statement and they are going to send a mission abroad to see how the trick is worked. It seems rather a time-consuming purpose. It is worked in numerous traditional Oriental manners, and I do not think anybody is going to be very much more forward when they have found out how it is worked. The whole exercise seems to be not very satisfactory unless, in fact, the people who have entered illicitly are going to be traced and shipped back.
Now the British people are a kindly and benevolent people, and they do not like being called racialists. They are not racialists, and several noble Lords have pointed that out this evening; but their feelings have been bottled up for a very long time for fear of the accusation of being called racialists. Now and for some time they have been very deeply alarmed by the feeling that large communities of a 148 completely different colour and culture are growing up in this country, possibly increasing faster, proliferating faster, that the British people themselves—communities, moreover, which it is impossible to bring within the British tradition and way of life.
I do not understand what this word "integration" means, but the immigrants from the West Indies start with an advantage. As my noble friend Lord St. Helens, in a very interesting maiden speech, pointed out, they come in, mostly knowing English, they are mostly Christian, and, in Latin America, at all events, there has been a mixture of blood between the European stock and the Negro stock. But when we come to dealing with the communities from Asia the position is very different. If they come here, their English is often quite rudimentary, and that of their wives and children nil. They have long traditions of communal segregation. The Hindus, the Moslems and the Sikhs do not mix in their own country, and never have. The Hindus and the Moslems, as we know, are deeply hostile to each other. The Sikhs were created as a purified sect of the Hindus, and have kept themselves apart ever since. It is quite absurd to think that they are likely to integrate in this country with the British community when they have never, in their own country, integrated with their other Indian communities.
Of course, this is not the only country to which they have migrated. In the past there has been indentured labour going from the Indian sub-continent to many parts of the world which has stayed there and multiplied and has created racial problems of a most acute kind. These particular communities do not wish to be, and would not allow themselves to he, assimilated into any other community foreign to their own. They remain a community of their own for ever.
My Lords, we can afford small communities of people who are racially segregated within our midst, undoubtedly, but will they be small communities? That is the great problem, and my noble friend Lord Elton devoted a great deal of his speech to that point. In other countries they have frequently increased at a faster rate than the indigenous population and have become the majority, with the results that we have seen in British Guiana, Fiji and, I believe, other 149 countries. Their rate of increase in this country, of course, is purely speculative. It is quite impossible to know at what rate an Oriental community, lifted into an Occidental climate and culture, will increase; but, if the traditional fecundity of the East, abetted by Western hygiene and medicine and encouraged by family allowances and other benefits of the Welfare State, were to exercise its full influence, then the increase might be very rapid indeed—and that, we must remember, of communities which for centuries have held a completely different outlook on life from that of the British.
My Lords, we cannot deny that valuable work is being done by the immigrants in our country, but, at the same time, we must not deny that in many respects it has helped us to push aside the problem of modernisation, which in fact means to cease employing four people to do three people's job. Manufacturers may get their labour and London Transport its staff, but they do so at a very heavy cost put upon the ratepayers and the taxpayers of the country, and they do so to the detriment of the housing and education of our own people. I personally wonder whether there is any chance of malaria being reintroduced into this country through the presence of so many people who probably have the malarial microbe in their blood. Because Britain used to be a malarious place. We are an overcrowded island, and the demand for all forms of public service is seriously outstripping our ability to provide it. Furthermore, we face a considerable increase in population when the bulge passing out of our schools begins to settle down and marry.
In all these circumstances, I have not the least doubt that the vast majority of the British people would like, if possible, to see the tap turned right off and the coloured immigration confined to students and other temporary residents. If we need further supplies of labour—and I very much doubt whether we really do—it could be supplied by people on temporary permits from Commonwealth or European sources. But the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, admitted that there is one frightful shadow overhanging us, and that is the dependants of the present immigrants, who apparently have an absolute right to come to this country and whom nobody can stop. I tried to 150 discover from him what the estimated number was, but he was unable or unwilling to give me a figure. But when I say that it looks as if it might run into seven figures, it makes one realise that the problem is a very serious one.
Of course, as regards those people here, all decent people would say that those who conform to British standards of behaviour must be treated in every way as British citizens, with full rights, privileges and everything else; but this does not mean that we must be soft. The by-laws and housing regulations must be enforced; and our large cities would be well advised to try to get on their staffs, if only for advisory purposes, ex-members of the Indian Civil Service or Indian Police Service who spent long years in India and who are well versed in the outlook and habits of the various castes and sects of Hindus, Moslems and Sikhs who have come to live in their great cities. And, of course, these people would be particularly likely to deal with the iniquities of the landlords of those races who set up here in this very profitable business of letting rooms to their fellow countrymen.
Finally, I would say that the sentimentalists will object to tackling this problem with vigour, but I think they must rest assured that the vast problem of dealing with Oriental poverty, where one is dealing with a surplus population of at least 100 million humans and tens of millions unproductive cattle, will not be solved by taking a few hundred thousands into British industry. It is a religious, agricultural and engineering problem with which we can help; but the problem must be solved, if it can be solved at all, in the Indian sub-continent.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, it is not my intention to throw anything into the main stream of this debate, although, indeed, the current at the moment is not very fast. Nevertheless, I hope to drop a twig or two into the eddies, hoping that they will not be cast up upon the bank. I am confident in this hope because they are rather technical twigs. First of all, as a member of the Migration Board, which is a rather frustrated body because, as your Lordships may not be aware, its examination of the affair has been confined to that of emigration, I have one or two points to make. Other 151 noble Lords have spoken of the value of trained immigrants, and I particularly recall what the noble Lord, Lord St. Helens, said in his attractive and well-informed maiden speech.
In the Migration Board's last full report the following words appear:We hope that it will not be for much longer that the United Kingdom will remain the only major country of both emigration and immigration which cannot produce complete and adequate statistics of its own two-way migration movements.Later on it says:… 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."Pattern" is the word that I would emphasise and on which I wish to concentrate at the moment, because in his Chairman's introduction to the Report, dated December, 1964, Mr. Cledwyn Hughes said:The Board has for many years protested at the lack of information about those emigrants, including a high proportion of qualified professional and scientific personnel, who travel by air, which resulted from the fact that only those travelling by sea were required to fill in cards. The Board now await with keen interest the results of the 7 per cent. sample of passengers, leaving by air and by sea, which has been in operation since the beginning of 1964.His reference there is, of course, to the fact that only carriers by sea made returns, with the result that many of the figures that noble Lords may or may not study in the Migration Board returns are manifestly faulty. Take, for instance, the figures for Canadian migration. The British figure is some 9,000; whereas, if I remember rightly, the Canadian figure, taken from their own statistics, is something like double that.
The first "twig" that I wish to drop is an appeal to the authorities to provide that arrangements are made for proper statistics, two-way statistics, for both emigration and immigration. The last Government were quite wrong, in my opinion, not to take the powers they could have taken to compel the air carriers to record statistics in the same way as did the shipping companies. If this had been done, the authorities now would have much surer ground upon which to work. Perhaps that is one more 152 reason why immigration should be taken out of politics. I welcome the idea of the mission which the Government propose; but hope that no time will be lost in ensuring that, in carrying out their work, adequate statistics, not merely of numbers but also of pattern, should at the same time be collected. Incidentally, in listening to the debate I feel that one of the widest loopholes for evasion of immigration regulations used to be the use of short flights from Europe or Ireland to complete long hauls; and that is a subject which might be looked into.
My Lords, I have another twig. The figures given by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, yesterday were very striking, particularly the large numbers for Australia, Canada and New Zealand—some 10,000—in one month. I imagine that only a small proportion of these are really migrants who are changing their country of permanent residence. Would it not, therefore, be possible and wise to consider whether our definition of a migrant which, in so far as an emigrant is concerned, is one who is going abroad for more than a year, is the right one? Because it means, as Mr. Cledwyn Hughes mentioned in the passage I have just read, that the technicians, the professional people, the businessmen, the engineers and the erectors who go abroad for contracts exceeding one year are classed as emigrants; which they are probably not. How is it possible to take a balanced view of the two-way flow of trained personnel if the statistics are in this way misleading?
Incidentally, speaking as a Scotsman, it is interesting to note that except perhaps in the case of Glasgow the problems which beset England are not pronounced. Perhaps our climate is responsible for this. But it leads me to suggest, as I have done before, that the Scotland-Canada air traffic figures (and these will have some connection with the figures quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, yesterday) is of a peculiar nature and, in terms of statistics as to pattern, may well warrant study.
One last twig, my Lords. I met a wise and experienced old friend this morning who spent many years in India and Pakistan, and he suggested that more might be done to knit the Commonwealth together if we could encourage Commonwealth citizens to come here and work 153 here for specific periods, say, of three years (and he referred especially to citizens of India and Pakistan) and then to return to their own countries. His object, with which I agree, is to encourage this two-way flow which certainly exists as between this country and Australia; and this is borne out by the figures quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. I am certain that large numbers come here for more than a year, perhaps for two or three, but go back; and by going back they serve to knit together the Commonwealth, which is something that noble Lords on all sides of the House would wish to see. Could such an arrangement be at least borne in mind by the mission in their consideration of the subject to which they are going to address themselves? Perhaps they could look into this.
Before closing, may I say that I was reminded by the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, of the interesting impression one gets in Western North America, of the strong Sikh community in British Columbia and of the Chinese and Japanese communities in California. I hesitate to use the word "integration", because I do not quite know, just as many other noble Lords do not know, what it means; but it is a striking thing to see for instance, in San Francisco the way in which these communities seem to keep themselves separate while they live side by side. I know that I am right in saying that there is not a better-behaved community in the United States, or one with a higher reputation, than the Chinese community in San Francisco. I had not intended to speak for so long, and I apologise for having been prevented from attending the first few minutes of the debate. I only hope, that I have been able to add to the sum total of your Lordships' deliberations on this matter and that my twigs will not be cast up upon the shingle.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, over the past year or two I have taken part frequently in debates in your Lordships' House on this subject, and I have been an unswerving advocate of strict control of immigration. I am to-day more than ever convinced that what has become mass immigration should be stopped at once and reduced to a very limited number, so as to give us a chance of dealing with the problems as they already 154 exist, without aggravating them to the point of real disaster by taking no effectively restrictive action.
At this late hour I should like to say a few words on the broad principles behind this policy of encouraging members of the Commonwealth to come to this country and attempt to be assimilated into its life. We are discussing to-day one of the most intractable social problems this country has ever had to deal with, but it is not a peculiarly British problem. It is only our example of a world problem—that of the stranger within the gates, who has been allowed to come in, driven by adversity or compelled by poverty and lack of opportunities in his home country, and attracted, in our case, by the advantages of a wealthy Welfare State. All over the world is present this problem of international, inter-tribal maladjustment, accompanied by suspicion and dislike of those whose traditions, whose gods, whose standards of value, whose mode of life, conflict with those of the country of their adoption. In our case, the problem of the immigrant has become almost inextricably mixed with the colour question, because inevitably the bulk of would-be immigrants to this country from the Commonwealth are people of a different colour and so racially distinct, though I maintain that the problem is not essentially or fundamentally a colour problem at all.
We have allowed the problem to become acute in this country by letting the situation drift. The old Imperial idea that the doors of the Mother Country should stand wide open to welcome fellow members of the Commonwealth was no doubt a beautiful theory, and its dire results became obvious only when the membership of the Commonwealth expanded and multiplied and included millions of men of alien tradition and culture and ways of life, when communications improved to such an extent and made entry so easy that the theory became a practice, and we woke to the idea that a negligible influx was becoming an uncontrollable flood.
The brotherhood of man as a basic principle of justice and individual dignity, embodying the right of fair treatment and the absence of oppression, is a laudable aim, but the belief that tribes and nations and societies are interchangeable is dangerous nonsense, to 155 my mind, certainly until human nature has shed some of its present outstanding characteristics. Premature social mixtures on a large and indiscrminate scale have an unpleasant habit of becoming explosive.
My excuse for these preliminary generalities is that I have lived my life all over the world in close contact with the problems of social incongruity. I have friends of all races and colours and I claim to have no colour prejudice, but I do not disguise from myself that I have social prejudices. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the man who claims he has none of these is, probably unconsciously, not telling the truth. We all prefer to live in a society whose members have fundamentally a similar set of values. I suppose that every society has indigestible members, but that is no reason at all why it should court an increase of indigestion so great as to destroy its own health. I have seen this problem growing intense and finally bursting into disorder all over the world. I could quote—but I will not at this time—many instances of this problem in many countries that I have known, and I have seen something of the great difficulties of dealing with it, however honest might be one's motives.
To come back to the problem that confronts this country to-day, there is no need for me to restate the different facets—housing, health, education and racial discrimination. I regret that the Motion moved in another place recently was rejected. Noble Lords are no doubt familiar with the terms of that Motion, which, it seemed to me, summarised the necessary action. I am not sure that it did not summarise a similar approach to the problem, which the Prime Minister himself seems now to be inclined to take. But such action would have cleared the way for immediate constructive action in improving the position and opportunities of those immigrants who are already citizens of this country.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, when the noble Lord speaks of a Motion which was considered in another place recently, is he referring to the Motion asking leave to introduce a Bill, and is he in full agreement with this?
§ LORD MILVERTON
Yes, my Lords, that was the reference. As I was saying, such action would have cleared the way for immediate constructive action in improving the position and opportunities of those immigrants who are already citizens of this country. One hears much about the need to prevent them and their children from becoming a grade of second-class citizens. I agree with that entirely, in principle. But surely the way to prevent making it quite certain that such a grade will be formed is to stop at the source the entry of men and women who are doomed by their ethnic and social background to become such a class.
You can go on saying that you will not have anything but first-class citizens, and you can call many of these immigrants first-class citizens and say they are welcome here, as such, until you are black in the face, but it does not alter the fact that circumstances will inevitably put them in the position in this country, however much you wish to avoid it, of being second-class citizens. I am not talking of the skilled workers, of course, or of those in hospitals, and in the transport and other industries, who have rendered great service. But the trouble does not come from those. As has been said, in the course of their work they are spread over the country, and they do not tend, as the unskilled workers do, to coalesce in unmanageable groups in different localities.
I was much impressed by the sincerity of an article in The Times of Tuesday of this week in which the author constructively dealt with "four ways to adjust to immigration". He wanted special treatment in housing and education, and proposed to spend large sums—to be provided by the Government—in giving special facilities. But while, obviously, special attention will have to be given to these two problems, the greatest care, as I think has been indicated by another speaker to-night, will have to be taken to avoid just resentment of local population against what they could regard as a pampered class of immigrants. The creation of a pampered élite of foreigners in this country is no way to eliminate racial feelings: on the contrary, it would probably encourage them.
I emphatically agree with that author's proposals about closer medical scrutiny 157 when, and if, immigrants are permitted to enter this country; and I also agree that one cannot effectively suppress racial discrimination by the passage of laws against it. We had all that out in a debate in this House not long go. Only by education and time can one hope to succeed in that object. I therefore view without much enthusiasm the intention of the Government to bring in such legislation.
I disagree entirely with the tendency to regard the solution to present difficulties as lying in an improvement—at vast expense—in the mechanics of absorption or integration, or whatever you like to call the process of turning immigrants into Englishmen in mind and deed. I question very much the wisdom of trying to make this overcrowded country into what another correspondent in The Times has called "the destined receptacle of overseas population surpluses".
My Lords, the moral debt that we owe to the underdeveloped countries of the Commonwealth is to help them in every way within our means to make their own countries attractive places to live in and prosper in; to take our prosperity to them, rather than to invite them to bring their deficiencies to us. I was glad to read the Prime Minister's statement about measures to be taken to ascertain the facts, and the setting up of a Mission to study the possibility of control at the source in Commonwealth countries. It is only too true that the facts of this situation have not been sufficiently studied on a sufficiently broad basis, and I welcome the hope that that will be done now.
I would conclude by adding my own humble voice to those who appeal for a national bipartisan approach to this question. I believe that there is widespread apprehension in this country lest it become a political Party issue, and so evade being finally dealt with without any bitterness and without any sense that this national approach is the right one, and one on which we hope there will be agreement, whatever measures may finally be taken. I do not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, in his denunciation of the idea of this bipartisan approach, this non-political attitude. Inevitably, if it became a Party issue, the final benefits of a solution would be damaged. This, I think, was the approach which the noble Lord, 158 Lord Stonham, tried to make in our debate of some weeks ago. Charity still begins at home. I consider that only so can we be true to the old principle of the dual mandate—the principle of Lord Lugard in dealing with countries of the Commonwealth; that is, to put the interests of our own country first and, by strengthening it in that way, make it better fitted to serve mankind.
§ 8.18 p.m.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, this has been an interesting, important, and, so far as I am concerned, very largely an encouraging debate, though I have had certain disappointments which I shall mention later. I think the first encouragement is that the Labour Party have come so far and changed their ground so much since they so fiercely opposed the original Bill. Whether the Liberal Party have moved at all I was unable to discover from the speech of the noble Baroness; and as there are no Liberals here now (no Liberal, apparently, takes sufficient interest in the subject to wait until the end of the debate) I think I can leave it at that.
I should like to start what I have to say (and I will make it as short as possible, as it is rather late) by dealing with one point that has not yet, I think, been mentioned in regard to the Prime Minister's Statement which he made yesterday. I would say straight away that it is a statement which we welcome in its general outline. But the Prime Minister has said repeatedly in the last year or two that one of the reasons why the Labour Party opposed the Bill so violently was that there had not been adequate consultation beforehand. I raise this question now because of the Commission which is being set up to go abroad and consult, and not simply to raise old history. I think I must get the picture right about this. The idea that there had not been adequate consultation was, I think, a Liberal one, and it was taken up in the other place by the Labour Party—I think it was originally put forward by Mr. Grimond. The true story is this. Consultations with our Commonwealth friends have been going on certainly since as long ago as 1954—and, I strongly suspect, since considerably earlier than that on a semiofficial basis—about this difficulty of Commonwealth immigration to this country.
159 I would remind your Lordships what happened when the Bill was brought in. There were three countries principally involved because of the number of immigrants from them, and they were the same three parts of the world which are principally concerned now—India, Pakistan and the West Indies. I would remind your Lordships what the position was then. Both India and Pakistan had tried to operate some form of control from their end. It did not work; it collapsed. I think it is quite natural that it should have collapsed, as I shall show in a moment. But the West Indies flatly refused to undertake any control themselves, or to help at all. When Her Majesty's Government are thinking about these consultations, I would remind them of what my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye said, that the propaganda in the West Indies against immigration control by this country is still going on.
The reason why I mention it is this. It was made clear by the noble Earl the Leader of the House yesterday, in answer to a supplementary question on the Prime Minister's Statement, that this Commission is going abroad, not only to consult about evasion of our laws, but also to go into the whole general subject. I would say to the Government, and to your Lordships, that apart from evasion—I do not know what can be done at the other end about that—quite frankly I do not think that there is much hope of the other countries, with the best will in the world, being able to do much to control our immigration problem, though I am all for Her Majesty's Government trying. The point is that this is our problem. They are our laws; they are our regulations. If some other country said to us, "You are sending us rather more people at a time than we like. We should like to control it. Will you do a lot of work your end to see that they do not come?", I think our answer would be, "We will tell them what the circumstances are, what permits they must have, but we are really not going to do your job for you."
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord at this point? I do not want to go back into the question of consultation or anything like that. I think the position in 1962, and the stand the Labour Party took at that time, was 160 clearly known. It does not matter now. We are concerned with the future and the present. But with regard to the Commission, I think it is important that cold water should not be thrown on the idea. We are certain that in many respects we have already had, and will receive, the full co-operation of the Commonwealth Governments concerned. It is not only a question of carrying out our laws. There are many aspects of this situation where it is in their interests to co-operate with us to ensure that what some of us would regard as personal tragedies do not happen, and that they are, as it were, settled at the source. The Commission can do many things of that kind.
§ LORD DERWENT
I am not saying that they are not going to try to help Commonwealth Governments; I am saying that I do not think they will be able to help very much, because it is our problem and not theirs, and the action must be taken this end by the Government.
The only other thing about which I am a little worried is that the Commission will be used, or might be used, by Her Majesty's Government to delay taking a decision, a decision which I believe is very urgent. I will not go further than that, but I hope that will not be the case.
May I say a word about integration, absorption, assimilation, or whatever we may like to call it? I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, rather indicated that my noble and learned friend had really not said anything much about integration. He did not go into much detail, but he started his speech by saying that this was the most important thing of all. I should like to make it quite clear that that was said. We know what is causing the basic trouble about integration: too many people arriving to make integration easy—some people say, to make it possible—and too many people arriving in a short space of time. Another reason, I think, is too many people arriving into too few places.
§ LORD DERWENT
Too much concentration in certain areas. I welcome the statement by the Prime Minister yesterday that he had appointed Mr. Foley to try to co-ordinate the steps necessary to be taken. I think this is an excellent idea. We know the details 161 of the problems with which he will have to deal. Housing, of course, is always a great problem. Education has been mentioned several times to-day; and the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, made, I think, a very strong point about the language difficulty. That is one of the things which we shall have to try to organise.
The most important thing is, as we all know, that the immigrants have a different way of life. It takes time to absorb people with an entirely different method of living. I do not know whether it is within my province to give advice to Mr. Foley, but I am certain that if he goes ahead with his work, dealing with it partly as a matter of organisation and administration, and partly as a matter of persuasion, he will have all our support, and I hope that he will make a great success of this new job. But if it is done by undue pressure and by giving orders, there will be such a reaction that it will not work at all.
May I, before I come on to other speeches, say a few words about my own views? I had a certain amount to do with this question at the Home Office, and before I criticise I should like to put myself forward so that I can be criticised. I would remind your Lordships that this Act was experimental. There have been some criticisms of the way in which this Act has worked. It might be, as my noble and learned friend has suggested, that if the Opposition had not been quite so virulent the Act would have been better. I do not know that I personally agree with that. But it was bound to be experimental to some extent, because we had never had anything like it before. It has now been working for a few years. During those few years, we repeatedly had to tighten up the controls—such controls as we had—and the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has admitted that they have to some extent been tightened up even more lately. In my view, we have reached a stage when we cannot have any tighter official control without further legislation.
Here we come to the point made by my noble and learned friend, which I think the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, completely misunderstood. What my noble and learned friend was asking for was that the Government should take powers at an early date—I would prefer to say "now"—to control the total 162 number of immigrants, including families, coming into this country over any one period. He was asking that the Government should take powers. Where I think the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, went a little adrift was in that he tried to make that sound as if my noble and learned friend had said that this would separate husbands from their families. When the powers are granted, it is entirely a question of elasticity in working those powers.
I know there is the difficulty about the men who are already here, but the Government might set a figure—it does not matter what figure; I am not suggesting what is a proper figure—for a period, be it one or two years, of 100,000 immigrants, including families. Suppose they happen to set that figure. Supposing suddenly an unexpected number of families and dependants came here of people who were already here, it would be quite unnecessary, if the powers were operated properly, to forbid those dependants to come in. It would wreck the notional figure, but the control would be in the hands of the Minister over any one period. I believe that before we can control this question we must have these powers. It is for powers we are asking; the details we are not suggesting.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, could I just interrupt the noble Lord and get this quite clear, because it is most important? I am not arguing against the noble Lord's general principle; I am not even commenting on it; but the general idea of this debate has been that rather too large numbers of immigrants were coming in, that the net inflow was too great. It has been 60,000 a year for the last two years. Suppose the Government of the day fixed the overall figure for a year at. say, 40,000 or 50,000. If the entitled dependants now overseas exercised their legal right to come, which I understand the noble Lord's Party does not wish to abrogate, then the whole of the quota would be filled up by dependants now overseas and no workers, with or without their dependants, would come in at all. I should like to know whether the noble Lord agrees with that or whether he would extend and make it elastic, because, if so, more immigrants would come in than now.
§ LORD DERWENT
My noble friend did not discuss details at all; he asked for powers. In so far as powers are 163 concerned, obviously one would have to make a rule when operating this that the dependants of those who are already here when the rule started to operate would have to be admitted. As regards new entrants, if the Government use a realistic figure of what we can absorb quite easily—and this point was made by the noble Lord, Lord Brown, in a slightly different context and was also made by my noble friend Lord St. Helens—it would be perfectly possible, when a man came in on a work voucher, for example, to have information on what his dependants were and whether they were coming in later, and, if so, how many.
I would suggest that it would operate in this kind of way. Suppose a man came in and said that he had a wife and three children, and that if he liked it here he would send for them, he should count against the total figure straight away as five people. If they went back, five would come off. It is the only method by which the Government and local authorities can look ahead and plan ahead, and that is the sort of idea that was raised by my noble friend Lord St. Helens. It has been suggested that there should be certain powers of repatriation: for example, for illegal entrants. It has been suggested that those who wanted to go back and could not afford it should be paid for. That, as the right reverend Prelate said, would need looking into pretty carefully.
So as not to keep your Lordships too long, may I now refer to one or two of the speeches? We have listened to three very exceptional speeches from people who have not only theoretical knowledge of this question, as is the case with so many noble Lords, but practical experience, more or less on a day-to-day basis; and it is because of that that the speeches were of very great help, I would suggest, to this debate.
May I mention first the maiden speech of my noble friend Lord St. Helens? I was not surprised how good it was, but it was good, and it was extraordinarily helpful. I am certain that we shall hear from him very often in the future, and we shall expect that all his future speeches will be as good as this one. The second speech I would mention in particular is that of the right reverend Prelate, who told me that unfortunately he 164 has had to go back to Birmingham before the end of the debate. Again, a down-to-earth speech from somebody who works daily with this problem, and I hope that the Government will read very carefully what he said. The third speech I would mention was one from a slightly different angle, but just as practical and down-to-earth, the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Brown, who not only knows this problem at close hand but employs coloured labour. He indicated that sometimes the difficulty is between two different coloured races rather than between white and coloured people in the works. I hope that what he had to say will also be studied very carefully by the Government.
I do not want to keep your Lordships, but I should like to put right what undoubtedly was a misunderstanding on the part of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. I would just say this about the speech of the noble Lord. This was the part of the debate in which I was profoundly disappointed, because, although he dazzled us with figures, he failed to reply to the speech made by my noble and learned friend. He ignored quite a large part of it. May I take certain of his remarks as they occurred? The first one was not a disagreement, but he was talking about taking things out of Party politics. I do not think that had ever been suggested by my noble and learned friend or by myself. What we said was that, as far as possible, where we could come to agreement, now was the moment to do it, and we would try to come to agreement. I do not think one would ever take this subject out of politics, not even out of Party politics; but it should not be primarily a Party political concern, otherwise, as the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, himself pointed out, every time we disagreed about detail we should accuse each other of taking part in Party politics. But I think the moment has come when we should be able to work rather more closely together.
The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, talked about conditions that the Home Secretary intended to impose on various kinds of students, by vouchers or in other ways—anyhow, on new immigrants; but he failed to say how he was going to enforce those conditions. Suppose somebody was allowed in for six months and did not go back; the 165 noble Lord failed to say how one was going to find out, so that the conditions could be enforced. I hope that the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, will be able to say something about this matter, because at the moment it seems to me to be very much in the air.
Of the other speeches, the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, said he had not changed his views about entire opposition to control, but he was prepared to play along now; and I am very glad to hear that. The right reverend Prelate, whose speech I have mentioned, was again misunderstood, and I thought he was extraordinarily clear. The noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, said that the right reverend Prelate had said that immigrants brought in a lot of V.D., or words to that effect, and were responsible for a lot of V.D. In fact—and I have his words here—what the right reverend Prelate said was that V.D. was a great problem in Birmingham. He did not go further than that. I should like to put that right in the right reverend Prelate's absence.
Finally, may I repeat that I think the climate is now ripe for at any rate the two major Parties to try to find points of agreement rather than points of disagreement, as has sometimes been the case in the past. I would ask Her Majesty's Government again to take the powers without which I maintain they cannot do their job properly: that is, to control the total number of immigrants coming in at any one period. The country is in favour of a firm step of some kind, for some form of control. I know that it is fashionable among certain politicians to raise the parrot cry that because we in Parliament should lead the country, we should not follow; but even noble Lords opposite will probably agree that it is quite pleasant, when one has a policy, to have the country behind one. I beg the Government not to delay in taking the necessary steps. This integration and immigration question is at the moment a very difficult one. If it is left much longer without proper control, it could be extremely explosive.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, this has been a long but very interesting debate on a question of importance to our children, and perhaps of rather more importance to their 166 children, because the fact is that the actions, or rather the inaction, of the last two Administrations means that neither our children nor their children will ever see the England which we have been used to seeing, because for good or ill England has become a multiracial society. This, of course, gives rise to grave problems, and it is no use, I think, seeking to deny that there are grave problems. They are not problems on which I intend to speak for long, partly because it has been a long debate, partly because I think all the points raised by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, have already been answered and there is no point in answering them again, and partly because I am anxious not to do anything to contribute to Party differences. I agree very strongly with those who have pleaded that as far as possible this should be lifted out of Party politics.
In pointing out that this great change, which is inevitably here to stay in our country, came about by inaction of the last two Administrations, may I say, for the purposes of this discussion, that I am quite prepared to assume that any other Government would have done exactly the same? I am not seeking to make a Party point; but the fact is that, having done nothing at all on this subject for years, in 1962 the Government suddenly woke up to the fact that immigration was then running at about 190,000 a year and that it was really too late to do anything to stop our becoming a permanently multiracial society.
There are, I suggest, two separate problems. The first problem is what ought our national immigration policy to be; do we need more or less; are we allowing in the right kind of people? And the second, which is really quite a different question, is what should we do to try as far as we can to integrate or assimilate those who are already here into our community. On the first question as to our national immigration policy, there is, I suppose, no doubt that one of the reasons why in France and Germany and Holland their economies have gone ahead of recent years faster than ours is precisely because they have allowed in a substantially higher proportion of immigrants than we have.
167 Broadly speaking, there is obviously, in the less developed countries, unemployment and an economy which cannot support all the people they have got, while in the developed countries there is all-round great shortages of labour; and when one bears in mind that 40 per cent. of all our hospital doctors up to consultant status are coloured, 15 per cent. of all our student nurses are coloured, about a third of all the employees in some woollen mills are coloured, that many rubber factories are largely staffed with coloured labour, and that up to 90 per cent. of those seeking employment as labourers, packers and public cleansing men are immigrants, whether Irish or coloured, we realise how much we need them. I agree with the noble Lord. Lord Brown, that we should give up saying whether we are conferring a great favour on them or they are conferring a great favour on us. It suits us both; they get a higher living standard and we get the labour we badly need.
As to our national immigration policy, it may well be that this has never received any scientific inquiry or sufficient thought as to what is the number which we need from year to year, or whether, for that matter, we want to reverse the policy and try to get rid of people; but at the moment it has come down to about 60,000 a year. Nobody has actually said in the debate that this is too many or what they consider the number ought to be. "C" vouchers have virtually stopped. Those who come in are either on "A" vouchers—men for whom particular employers have asked for a particular job—or "B" vouchers; that is to say, doctors, nurses, teachers or people for whose services we have a particular demand. And nobody in the debate has said that 60,000 ought to be 50,000, or that we are admitting not enough doctors and too many nurses. And why, in those circumstances, we need immediate legislation I have not been able to understand, if it is conceded that these are about right.
As we all know, those who are already here have a right to send for their wives and children. But again there has been no dispute as to the correctness of this state of affairs. Nobody has suggested that we should try to part them from their wives and children; and no case, I 168 suggest, has been found for any immediate legislation to try to stop these people from coming in.
Then it is said that there should be legislation to stop evasion. Nobody, if I may say so, admires more than I do the facility of the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, for asking questions—and he asked a great many questions about what is happening in the field of evasion. I hope that he will not feel I am discourteous if I suggest that it is a pity he did not ask himself the same questions between July, 1962, and October, 1964, because nobody suggests that there has been more evasion in the last three or four months than there was before. The only difference is that the previous Administration kept it quiet, while the present Government have frankly told everybody of the degree of evasion that there is and what steps they are taking to stop it. The sensible thing to do, I suggest, is to see how far the steps being taken are effective. I have no doubt, for example, that the sending out of the mission to the Commonwealth countries from which immigrants come will itself assist in the prevention of evasion.
I confess to being more interested in the second problem, that of how we are to integrate or assimilate into the population, so far as possible, those who are here; and this is, I think, a difficult question indeed. To start with, as we know, in a proportion of cases, there is, for example, a greater degree of tuberculosis among immigrants. Here again, this is not something that suddenly started after all the immigration that has gone on in the last ten years; this is not something that started in October. But, for the first time, steps are being taken to deal with it.
We have now what we had not before October, X-ray plant at Heathrow where most of these people arrive. Medical officers of health are advised of their arrival. The immigrants are given notices in their own language advising them to get in touch with their doctors, and the local doctors are sent their names and addresses. Here again, the mission going out to Commonwealth countries from which they come should, I believe, be of substantial help. If arrangements can be made for at least some medical examination in the countries from which 169 they come, if they are suspected of being tubercular, it makes much more sense to do the X-ray there and not let them come, rather than let them come and do it here.
With regard to housing, of course I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, that housing is the main part of the trouble. One can well understand those who are not very educated saying, quite naturally: "There is that black man in that house. If he were not here I should have a house." In a sense, it is perhaps not unnatural that he should think in that way. However, this is not the hour at which to start on the general housing problems of the nation. It has always amazed me, as a layman in these matters, to think that quite recently the number of houses built for letting was no more than Nye Bevan built just after the war, with the shortage of timber being what it was then. With the housing shortage that everybody recognised, and having got the number of new houses up to 300,000 a year in 1951, how we have stuck at that ever since is something I have never understood. But there it is. That is our general housing problem. Once we have got to 300,000, there should be no difficulty in going to 350,000 in the next year, and to 400,000 afterwards. But in most of the years since we got up to 300,000 we have fallen back.
Housing is a problem. We should all wish, I am sure, to acknowledge our indebtedness to the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council, of which, if I may say so, Lady Swanborough is such a distinguished Chairman, because housing was the subject of their first Report, and it contained recommendations in relation to hostels and repairs. It may be that the new development of industrial processes for building houses may assist us to find some solution.
Then there was a second Report from the Council, on education. I am sure that the Council were right in stressing the need for teaching English, because I do not see how one can teach immigrant children anything until they have been taught English and, so far as possible, properly. As we all know, immigrants can have some knowledge of English, yet their pronunciation may be so faulty that people cannot properly understand them. Education in itself throws up more problems. 170 There is an obvious need among immigrants for adult education, including that for women. This really means afternoon or evening classes, and it may be that we ought to be considering whether local wireless stations in certain districts could assist.
There are also the difficulties, which we are now finding in one or two schools, for example, in Birmingham, where a majority of the children are coloured. But the present difficulties are nothing to those that we are going to have in that field in the future, for obvious reasons. There is, I think, some educational dispute as to whether or not, where this sort of problem arises, it is better to send some of the coloured children to schools further away, so that they are not mixing with children in that neighbourhood, which is to their disadvantage, while, on the other hand, there is not too high a proportion of coloured children in the school.
A third Report concerns a matter which again will increase our difficulties and not simplify them. It is in relation to the field of employment, and the difficulties that may arise in placing the increasing numbers of coloured adolescent citizens.
Quite apart from formal education, I think that these people, when they arrive, need some instruction in the English way of life. The whole problem of integration or assimilation is really one of increasing understanding on both sides. It is an enormously difficult job. Much as I admired the speech of the noble Lord, Lord St. Helens, who made what I thought was a sensible suggestion, that vouchers should specify the numbers of the family of the person who is being admitted so that we can see what liabilities we should acquire in the future—a suggestion which I am sure will be most carefully considered—I am not sure that I agree with his statement that there is really no colour problem; that it is simply a behaviour problem. I do not think the ordinary weekly wage-earner has the slightest idea that we have 400,000 aliens living here. I do not think they worry him. And I think the reason that they do not worry him is because he does not see them. He may hear men with a slightly foreign accent, but they dissolve into the crowd because they are white. The difficulty with 171 coloured people is that other people can and do notice them.
In this connection I think someone ought to pay tribute to the work of the National Advisory Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants and their advisory officer, Miss Peppard. No doubt there is something to be said for the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, that in the case of some of these communities, like the Sikhs, it would be a wise thing to employ those who are used to them and understand them. I will not trouble your Lordships with the details at this hour, but Miss Peppard and that Committee have already seen to it that there are a large number of both consultative committees and liaison officers, and at long last we are following some sort of plan.
One of the difficulties is that, just as until 1962 we had no real national plan about immigration, so we had no national plan as to how those who were here were to be integrated or assimilated into the population. The matter was just thrown on the desk of the local authorities, and it was left entirely to them. But I hope that the appointment of Mr. Foley to his important task will mean that he will be able to develop and carry further the valuable work which that Committee have done, and that there will be increased co-ordination.
My Lords, it may be that we need social science workers, working on the ground. There is here, I suggest, an enormous job in relation to human attitudes which can be done by volunteers. I suggest that there is too much tendency to-day to leave everything to the Government. There are many people who say, "I wish the Government would give me a lead as to something useful I can do". The teaching of English is not in itself a difficult thing, and it would be of real value if people who have spare time, and who live in a place where there is anything like a substantial coloured community, would get out on the ground and get to know these people, and help them to understand the English way of life. Even such a simple thing as helping to teach the English language, whether to adults or children, is valuable. After all, if it is to the advantage of immigrants that they should, so far as possible, live at peace with their hosts, 172 it is no less to our own advantage that they should do so.
It may be, as the noble Lord, Lord Brown, has said, that many people honestly believe that there is something inherently inferior about those of another race. We do not know a great deal about how to stop racial intolerance. Miss Peppard has had perhaps more experience in talking to liaison officers and consultative committees than anybody else. I asked her, and she said, with some humility, that with all her experience she did not know the answers. But there is one thing which I think is known to everybody, including her; and that is that at almost any gathering which may be addressed on the subject, before you get far you are asked the question: "Do you want your daughter to marry a black man?"
Racial hatred is, I think, a terrible thing. My own bias about it perhaps arose from the fact that I was in Belsen concentration camp within a day or two of its being taken, and, for professional and for other reasons, I have had to become familiar with the details of what happened at Auschwitz. This is really the logical outcome of people being brought up to believe that members of a different race are not really human beings like themselves, but can be treated quite differently simply because they belong to a particular race. We have this problem with us. I feel it is the duty of all of us to do what we can to see that racial intolerance in this country is reduced to a minimum. The subject is so important that I am the more grateful to the noble and learned Viscount for having raised it in your Lordships' House to-day.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
My Lords, we have had a long debate, and at this late hour I do not propose to say very much in reply to all that has been said. Subject, I must say, to two exceptions, we have had a debate of the sort I hoped we should have—thoughtful, not controversial, not Party political, and, I believe, constructive and useful. Out of many interesting speeches, I thought the speech of my noble friend Lord St. Helens stood out. For many years I sat with him in another place and, as he was a Whip, I had never heard him open his mouth publicly. What he said in private was another matter, and 173 the language of Whips in private can sometimes be somewhat forceful. But I cannot help thinking that in another place we suffered something of a loss by having him silenced by virtue of his office. Also, the right reverend Prelate made a thoroughly well-informed and most interesting speech. Then there was a speech by the noble Lord Lord Brown, and one by the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough.
But to me there were in the course of the debate one or two considerable surprises. The first came from the absent Baroness, Lady Asquith of Yarnbury. She criticised the terms of this Motion. She said it illustrated an attitude which was both negative and restrictive. That led to my reading the Motion again to see how that statement could possibly be justified. I do not see what is negative or restrictive in seekingTo call attention to the problems of immigration and in particular to the steps now proposed for preventing the admission of persons not entitled to enter and settle in the United Kingdom; and to move for Papers".I am still at a loss, and if she were still here I should hope that she would enlighten me as to what in fact was so negative and so restrictive about that Motion. But I think she was slightly annoyed because she found herself in some difficulty in trying to deny that a Party point—and I do not object to people making Party points—had been made by the noble Lord, Lord Rea, yesterday. But I have no sympathy with those who seek to deny that they have made a Party point when they obviously have. There is nothing to stop a Party point from being made in this House, and indeed we often make them ourselves. But I did express the hope in the course of this debate that we should not do so, and I made it clear that I was departing from that only to reply to the Party point which was made yesterday.
Frankly, and it may have been my fault, I was rather disappointed by the reply of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. First of all, he seemed to think that I had been suggesting that Commonwealth immigrants should be treated in the same way as aliens. When he comes to read my speech again he will see that I suggested nothing of the sort. Secondly, he seemed to think that I had suggested that, because the area of control should be enlarged, members of families should be separated 174 —husbands separated from their dependants, and so on. When he comes to consider my speech he will see again that I suggested nothing of the sort. What in fact the noble Lord did was to admit the case that I had made out, because he said quite emphatically that there was at the present time no method of enforcement of the conditions imposed on entrants.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, if the noble Viscount will allow me, I did not say anything of the kind. What his noble friend complained of was that I had not said what the method of enforcement was. But, of course, we have the police force and the other methods of enforcing the law when people break the conditions of entry.
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
If the noble Lord wants to pursue that, I would ask him to read the letter which the Home Secretary sent to Chief Constables, which really reveals that in fact there are no methods of tracing those who break their conditions and there is no method of finding out if they do. The noble Lord—and I took a note of what he said, but we can look at Hansard about it—then said this:Even if the vouchers were completely stopped, it is by no means certain that the inflow would be below the present level".Nowhere in my speech had I suggested what that level should or should not be. A scheme as worked under the 1962 Act enabled that limit to be varied. What I was saying was that the area of control should be enlarged because of the contrast between the number of vouchers issued and the net total immigration figures. I will not pursue that point, but I would ask the noble Lord to look again at what I said because I think he will find that in the course of his speech he really conceded the main point I was making.
The only other speech to which I feel I must refer is the speech made by the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor. I was sorry to see that he, also following the bad example of the absent Baroness, introduced a political angle to this debate. He started by making the assertion that England has become a multiracial society. I do not think that that statement is in fact true. The fact 175 that we have people of different races living in this island does not establish that we have become a multiracial society. A lot may depend on what you mean when you say "a multiracial society". But the Lord Chancellor did not stop there. He said it has become a multiracial society due to the last two Administrations. Why suggest something of that sort unless for the purpose of seeking to make some Party political capital? Of course, if it did become a multiracial society it was not due to the last two Administrations. No one ought to say that nothing at all on this subject was done owing to the inaction of the last two Administrations. Why bring that up at this late hour if it was not to score, or seek to score, a Party point?
My Lords, if we had wished to engage in recriminations I have plenty of ammunition. I well remember those debates that we had in 1962, and the opposition with which we were faced. I did not wish to go into recriminations again, and I am not going to go into them tonight, but it really is rather bad, when I started this debate with an appeal and a hope that it should be a dispassionate inquiry, to have these attempts made to gain Party political capital at this hour of the night. May I just complete what I am saying before I give way to the noble and learned Lord? He went on to say that the same questions about evasion might have been asked while we were in office and that this Government have frankly told us what steps are being taken. My Lords, if the same questions had been asked while we were in office, we would have answered them. But why is that mentioned, unless it is for the purpose of trying to score some Party political point?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I think the noble and learned Viscount cannot have been listening when I was speaking, because I expressly said that I was quite prepared to assume that any other Government would have done the same. I was therefore dealing with the matter not in the least as a Party 176 matter, but as a simple matter of fact: that we had had no immigration policy at all for about ten years and never woke up to what was happening till it was too late.
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
My Lords, if that was really the noble Lord's point in making those observations, I do not understand why he could put so much emphasis as he did on two occasions on the acts or omissions of the last two Administrations.
But I do not want to end this debate on this discordant note. I regret the fact that this political angle has been introduced at all. It was not my hope or desire that it should be; I think I made that clear at the beginning. I hope that the Government, putting Party political points on one side, will give serious consideration to the need to legislate so as to provide some means of detecting breaches of those conditions which are being more frequently imposed—and I think that is right—and some means for tracing those who break them. That is really important, and I think, although it may be described by the absent Baroness as negative and restrictive, at the same time it is a proposal for law reform, and some people think that law reform is constructive.
May I conclude by thanking all noble Lords and noble Ladies for taking part in this debate? I myself think that it has been an extremely valuable one, and for me it has certainly been a most interesting one. It has been quite different in character, taking it as a whole, from the acrimonious debates that we used to have in another place in 1962. I hope that, although we may disagree on policy on what should be done to deal with these difficult problems, we shall go on making a serious approach and trying to keep Party warfare out of the matter. My Lords, I ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.