§ 3.23 p.m.
§ LORD ELTON rose to call attention to some of the problems of immigration; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, it is difficult not to feel faintly apologetic when inviting your Lordships to debate immigration, and not, of course, because immigration is not a grave social problem, for it is certainly the gravest social problem of this century, and may well prove to be the gravest social problem which we have ever encountered. Nevertheless, and it is for this reason that, however irrationally, one is tempted to feel apologetic, although the problems of immigration centre primarily upon numbers, they derive secondarily from race. Race is a subject on which there can be so much snobbery and inverted snobbery, and on which it is so easy to be misunderstood or to give offence, that most of us have come to be reluctant to talk about immigration in public. Indeed, there has most regrettably, as I think, grown up something very like a conspiracy of silence, 696 not only in the Press and on the public platform but very markedly in the General Election of 1964 and, to only a somewhat lesser extent, in that of 1966, as well as in the major Party conferences this autumn. As to all of which one can only ask oneself: if publicists and politicians are to be too tactful to discuss the gravest problem of their day in public, what, in the name of Disraeli and Gladstone and Keir Hardie, is the function of democratic politics?
Moreover, since there has been this widespread and prolonged reticence, many of those who live in the densest areas of immigration—as I have learned from many scores of private letters—have come to believe that their very real discomforts and grievances are being ignored. As the author of that interesting series of articles on immigration in The Times last year put it:
People living in back streets have felt that nobody realised what was happening or wanted to listen.
So I think that a wide-ranging debate in your Lordships' House, conducted with your Lordships' customary unimpassioned objectivity, will be in itself, and of itself, of great value. I am very pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, and other distinguished Party spokesmen are to take part, and I shall leave much of what I might have said to them. I only regret that the debate had to fall on a day when the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury was prevented by his engagements from being present, as he would have wished.
§ It surely ought to be very easy to debate this subject objectively and without passion, for although it is becoming in many respects a tragic story, it is a story, as it seems to me, without a villain. For, in respect of the immigrants themselves, it would hardly become us, whose ancestors crossed the ocean in the age of Empire to seek wealth in so many countries which then lay wide open to the adventurer, to blame them because, now that the wheel has come full circle and it is our country which lies wide open, they have become the adventurers. As for our own native citizens, and very particularly those who have been brought into closest permanent contact with the immigrants, they have in general behaved with infinite kindliness and patience.697
§ If we really wanted to find villains, which I am sure we do not, I think we should have to look for them among the politicians of both Parties who, in an age when Government planning is ubiquitous, an age in which we all fill up forms and are directed and controlled from the cradle to the grave, have so paradoxically combined to permit this great social incursion, with all its still unpredictable consequences, to take shape unforeseen, uncontrolled, undirected and so wholly unplanned that, to this day, Whitehall cannot tell us how many immigrants or their children there are either in any one area or in the country as a whole; cannot tell us what is their birthrate or their death rate, or what is their probable number fifty years hence; cannot tell us what is their total contribution to the hospitals or to industry; or per contra what has been the cost of them by way of the various social services, or the effect of their massive remittances home on our balance of overseas payments.
§ Perhaps I should add that, although one can criticise the Government for this refusal to acquire information, there is a sort of crazy benevolence in this setting of the blind eye to the official telescope; in this assumption that a Pakistani newly arrived in Birmingham from the neighbourhood, maybe, of the Bolan Pass, who six months ago had never heard of England, and still less of Birmingham, is nevertheless henceforth totally indistinguishable from the native population to which in language, appearance, dress, customs and religion he presents so startling a contrast. Nevertheless, since wise action can be founded only upon accurate knowledge, this deliberate refusal by successive Governments to permit themselves to know the true dimensions and ramifications of the tremendous problems which are taking shape has been a tragedy for natives and newcomers alike.
Against this background of public reticence and official ignorance it has been only too easy for Ministers, anxious to reassure the public, and perhaps themselves, to make optimistic but misleading pronouncements. Thus, last May the Home Secretary inadvertently used words which he would surely have wished to revise if they had been addressed to a public possessing even a minimal familiarity with the facts. He said:
In present circumstances the Government is bound to contain the flow of immigrants within the economic and social capacity of the country to absorb them.
The Home Secretary was defending the Government's actions, or inaction; and if words mean anything, he was then conveying to the public the implication that, since the Government are bound to contain the flow of immigrants, they do in fact have adequate powers to contain them; and, since they are bound to contain them within our capacity to absorb them, the implication that they can in fact be absorbed. Both these implications seem to me to be misleading.
§ As to the first, the implication that we can, so to say, turn the tap on and off as we please, it is of course perfectly true that the Government have full powers, which they are admirably exercising, to control the flow of voucher-holding immigrant workers. But by the Act of 1962 they have been left entirely powerless in respect of the dependants of the immigrants, and the dependants of the immigrants constitute a vast majority of those who now arrive. In 1964 the then Home Secretary estimated that there were some half-million dependants of immigrants already resident here waiting with an indefeasible right to follow them to these shores; and in the first nine months of the present year the total number of voucher-holding workers, who can be controlled, arriving here was 4,285, while the incoming dependants, whose numbers are not subject to any control, totalled 30,370. Those are the figures for the Commonwealth as a whole.
§ The Home Secretary's second implied assumption was that it will be within our power to absorb—and "absorb" is a strong word—both the unknown number of immigrants and their children already here and the unpredictable number yet to arrive. We here arrive at a context in which it would obviously be invaluable, if not indispensable, to have some knowledge of the present and prospective numbers of immigrants from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean—and that because we are now talking about absorption, and, without any implication whatever that Jamaicans or Pakistanis are mentally, morally or physically inferior to Australians or Canadians, they are undoubtedly harder to absorb, 699 and they are unmistakably and indisputably different; and it is their settling in dense conurbations that has given rise to the varied problems of neo-Victorian slums, health and the rest, which noble Lords will doubtless be discussing.
§ The Government, as we have already seen, cannot officially help us as to these figures. However, the Economist Intelligence Unit—an organisation which exists to provide objective statistical information on request—has done its best to dredge up from all available sources the data on which can be founded the statistical estimates without which the wisest statesman can only grope in the twilight. The Unit was, of course, handicapped at every turn. As a point of departure, it had to accept the 1961 Census figures, although anyone who watched the Census in a place such as Birmingham, Lambeth or Hackney will tell you that it was totally impossible for the Census officials to reach anything like all the denizens of overcrowded buildings, some of whom were coming in to sleep by day where others had slept by night, and almost all of whom, under the illusion that the Census forms were a prelude to taxation or some unwelcome form of Government interference, were only too anxious to evade any contact with the officials whatever.
§ Then again I myself think that the Unit's estimate on immigrant birthrates in the United Kingdom, 30 per thousand for West Indians and 21 per thousand for Asians, were ultra-conservative in character, in the light of the kind of information which reaches us from time to time from local sources—as when the Medical Officer of Health in Wolver Hampton reported that in 1964 the immigrant population there, which constituted some 6 per cent. of the total population, had been responsible for some 24 per cent. of total births. The unit's final conclusion was that fifty years hence the total number of resident citizens of Asian, African and Caribbean origin are likely to be about 3½, million, and I think we can be pretty confident that that is not an overestimate.
§ Now, my Lords, what are the prospects of assimilating these 3½ million to their fellow citizens—of absorbing them, to 700 take the words of the Home Secretary? Here, of course, I am profoundly anxious that I should not even seem to say anything which might either discourage or depreciate the devoted work of those committees and individuals (my old friend the Lord Bishop of Birmingham spoke movingly of one such in a former debate) who are seeking, wherever and whenever possible, to extend help, counsel and friendship to these newcomers. They are doing on our behalf what must be done in a civilised and, still more, in a Christian community. Nevertheless, my Lords, I ask: do we really believe that these Asians—and I emphasise the word "Asians"—can be absorbed? After all, they have their own religions, their own ancient cultures, their own deep-rooted traditions, which they have made it very clear they have no desire to change for ours—and who that reads our daily Press can blame them for that?
In a very interesting passage in a vivid, factual article on Smethwick in the Sunday Times, the author wrote of the Asians there:
Social and christian workers were agreed. One parish priest had said to me: 'They stay a select group on their own. They despise the English workers. They have their own culture, older than ours…they don't attempt to compromise…They don't see the need to try—rather the opposite'.
Some of the Pakistanis had been in Britain 25 years and spoke barely a dozen words of English. The Asians shun guidance. One social worker said: 'They want nothing from us at all—except work'.
That was a year or two ago. But, just to take another example, it was reported last July from Bradford that attempts to persuade adult Asians there to learn English had completely failed and that they saw no point in making the effort. And from Glasgow, that the Indian community there is determined to preserve its own customs and language and intends also to open its own school. Indeed, the secretary of the Indian Workers' Association recently declared that his Association has no desire whatever to see integration taking place since it prefers to preserve its own culture, and is indeed demanding that Hindi, Urdu and Gujerati should be taught in English schools.
§ In the face of facts such as these, can we really believe that, in respect of Asians at any rate, integration in any sense customarily attributed to the word, in any 701 sense really distinct from friendly coexistence, is attainable in the foreseeable future? One can only suppose that when the Government speak with evident satisfaction, as they do from time to time, of the success of their efforts to promote integration they must be adding under their breath, so to say, "In respect at any rate of West Indians". For in respect of West Indians there is, of course, some prospect of some degree of eventual integration; although the problems remain formidable and many of the problems are still unresolved; it may be in recognition of these harsh truths that the Lancet referred not long ago to "the strangers from the Caribbean who ultimately can be integrated only by miscegenation".
§ The broad truth on which I am seeking to concentrate at the moment, to the exclusion of details about the immediate social problems arising from neo-Victorian slums and the like, and without blaming anybody or anything except our own lack of foresight, is that at a time when the President of the British Association has so recently warned us that this dangerously over-crowded Island already contains a population greater by 16 million than its biological environment can support without degeneration, we are rapidly importing additions: in 1964, 75,000, of whom 54,000 were Asians, Africans or Caribbeans; in 1965. 63,000, of whom 48,000 were Asians, Africans or Caribbeans—and all this in order to create a multiracial society which will be multiracial in the sense that it will always contain small enclaves of never-wholly-assimilable communities.
§ A physical foreshadowing of this future psychological malaise can be seen all around us in the crude segregation of so many of the coloured immigrants. We have the terrible example in the United States before our eyes. We have not approximated to their nearly desperate situation, but we should not shut our eyes to the presence on our own smaller scale of premonitory symptoms and, in particular, of the all too obvious truth here of that saying so familiar in the United States: "Where the coloureds move in, the whites move out." A friend of mine who has spent many years on social work in the East End is near despair at the steady flight of the young married folk in his area as the immigrants pour in.702
This growth of coloured quarters and miniature Harlems in so many British towns is both a physical foreshadowing and a likely cause of the eventual psychological malaise, of enclaves with special interests within what was once a homogeneous nation. It is difficult to define the consequences to a once homogeneous nation of the gradual growth of these enclaves with special interests; but it has been, in miniature, in relation to a neighbourhood, movingly adumbrated in that same article by Mr. Stacey on Smethwick from which I have already quoted. He wrote of
the challenge to the fragile but intensely precious homegeneity of a sparingly educated urban community…the profound insecurity worked in the hearts of people who self-consciously rely so much on a familiar corporate image because individually they are so frail.
Moreover, it seems almost a law of nature that multiracial communities tend always towards authoritarianism; and naturally so, when you think of it, since demands for separate identity from self-conscious groups inevitably, sooner or later, require increased State powers to protect group privileges and immunities. In which context we must hope that the projected stiffening of the Race Relations Act will not yet further erode our traditions of liberty and free speech. Again, the effects on British Parties and policies and the attractions of the immigrant vote may yet be far-reaching. It was notable last month that the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination passed a resolution, "condemning utterly" the economic freeze, which was symptomatic in that it wholly ignored the rights and wrongs of the policy in relation to the national interest and concentrated solely on its effects on the immigrant community.
§ I have sought to concentrate on some of the less obvious, more remote and less often discussed aspects of this far-reaching and much ramifying problem. I have said virtually nothing of the neo-Victorian slums or the problems of Rachmanism, rack renting and health, and nothing of the valuable services of the immigrants to hospitals and industry; although if I had examined those in detail I should have had also to explore per contra their cost to the community in social service and, as recently elaborated in a most interesting article in Lloyds Bank Review, their effect on the balance of payments overseas. We also have to 703 remember the danger so clearly exemplifield in the history of Rome of importing citizens from overseas to relieve us of the less welcome industrial burdens and, what is much less frequently noticed, the fact that there would seem to be some kind of Gresham's Law about immigrant labour. To give one example, many a hospital matron will tell you that as soon as she recruits more than 20 per cent. of immigrant workers the supply of native nurses begins to dry up. As if emphasising the danger already latent in the present situation, there is a prospect of greatly increased unemployment with its inevitable threat of a clash between the legitimate interests of the immigrants and the ancient trade union principle, first in, last out.
§ It seems to me that the time has come when, in the interests of native and newcomer alike, some further control should be placed on the inflow. I have little doubt that such a policy would be decisively accepted, if it had a chance, by the majority of the electorate. I am no Party man, but it seemed to me that the proposals contained in the Election Manifesto of the Conservative Party at the last Election pointed the way to what should be done. I shall, of course, leave it to the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, to enlarge on that. I only regret that owing, as I have been told, to warnings from apprehensive Party officials as to possible charges of racial prejudice, extremely little was heard about these proposals from Conservative candidates during the Election. It seems to me that what should be done is assimilate the regulations in respect of Commonwealth immigration to those which already govern the admission of aliens; that is to say, entry should be conditional for a period, and renewable only if the immigrants satisfactorily proved themselves able to adapt themselves to our strange ways.
§ My Lords, I know that there are enthusiasts who, far from accepting any further restrictions, genuinely desire to have all existing restrictions removed and as a consequence free entry for all the 680 million-odd denizens of the British Commonwealth; a proposal which would be unhesitatingly rejected, I am sure, by 95 per cent. of the electorate, if they had the chance. To those who, perfectly genuinely and honestly hold such 704 views, any suggestion of further restriction, and indeed almost everything which I have said this evening, is likely to appear redolent of gross racial prejudice. And so, if I may, I will conclude on a final and personal note by saying that it is surely possible to retain the utmost good will and respect for the immigrants while at the same time coming to the conclusion that there are too many of them. I would add that, like many of your Lordships no doubt, though perhaps not all, I have on a number of occasions had both Asian and West Indian immigrants staying as welcome guests in my home. My Lords, I hope that this debate will in due course prove to have done something to mitigate the present distresses and resolve the future problems of both the immigrants and their hosts. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.54 p.m.
§ LORD BROOKE OF CUMNOR
My Lords, this is a most difficult and most human subject. Whether or not all of us agree with every word spoken by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, I think that without exception we are grateful to him for his action in bringing the matter again before your Lordships' House; and we should like to express our thanks to him for the very great thought that he has obviously given to the matter over the years. I have no doubt at all that how we face the problems of immigration is the most important social question affecting the whole future of Britain.
My Lords, I would say first and foremost—and here I hope that all of your Lordships would agree with me—that everyone who is in this country with lawful authority must be treated alike before the law and in every other respect, regardless of race, creed, colour or anything else. There must be no bias against anybody, whether in school, at work or elsewhere. This is a land of liberty. We and our fathers have made it that. A land of toleration. A land of mutual regard and respect—and we intend to keep it so. But, as the noble Lord said, we must not delude ourselves with that mystical word "integration". It is not a password to get us past all difficulties. With Indian and Pakistani immigrants in particular we mislead ourselves if we talk of integrating them in our society. Their cultures are too different from ours. They are proud of 705 their own cultures and want to keep them; and naturally so. I believe, therefore, that it is far wiser to speak of adjustment than of integration: adjustment to British society, to British ways of behaviour, and to the British weather.
A million permanent immigrants are in this country now. They are British. We and they must do everything possible to help them to adjust themselves to the British way of life. In the London Borough of Camden, where I lived for many years until last week, there is a Committee on Community Relations, with all political Parties and the different churches and all the main voluntary organisations of the borough represented on it; with a salaried, full-time liaison officer—call him what you will. A committee like that exists in an area to foresee local problems and to try to prevent them from festering or reaching flash-point. It exists to try to iron out on the spot any specific difficulty which crops up between the races, and to iron it out with a proper understanding of both points of view. It exists more positively to try to bring the different communities closer together, fostering common interests, and reminding people that there is bound to be friction if social customs are pursued to the point of being an annoyance to neighbours.
That, after all, is something with which we are all familiar, even without any colour or racial differences. Most of us have known people next door who played the piano or turned on the wireless very loudly on a summer evening, and it was impossible for us to get away from the sound and it made us mad. And if there is a colour difference added to that vexation, then something that appears like—and indeed may become—racial tension springs from the most ordinary friction between neighbours. One has to think of two different metals which will never become one by contact, but there need be no friction between them if the rough surfaces are smoothed and if the machinery is kept lubricated. Our best hope of avoiding local outbreaks of race feeling, I am certain, is that effective committees or groups of this sort, properly staffed, should be established, fostered and strengthened in every area where there is a large immigrant population. I believe that to be the policy of the National Committee which has been set up under the most 706 reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury. We all regret that he cannot be with us to-day, and I am certain that we all wish his important Committee well.
My Lords, a main cause of unavoidable bias is an immigrant's inability to speak English which is easy to understand. One thing we have surely learned from experience by now is that it is wrong and unfair to give anyone a work voucher to come to work in this country until he can pass a test in intelligible English. I remember an African coming to see me who was convinced that he was being discriminated against because nobody would offer him a job. After talking to him for a few minutes I became convinced that there was no question of colour discrimination at all. The real reason was, almost certainly, that his English was too difficult to understand; and employers have to bear that in mind. The teaching and learning of English is outstandingly important. There can be no hope of successful adjustment to English life without it. And, in my view, we have accentuated our difficulties by having admitted so many people from the Commonwealth before they were able to speak or understand English adequately.
This illustrates what I feel so strongly, that during the period of heated argument, which raged so strongly until recent years, on whether there should or should not be any control at all on Commonwealth immigration, strangely little thought—culpably little thought—was given to the social and indeed administrative problems which a high rate of immigration of people from outside Europe was bound inevitably to create. If only these problems had been thought out in advance, and if only action had been taken in the 1950s to keep the pace of immigration to a rate which the country could successfully absorb, without risk of overheating the points of friction, without risk of rendering the housing problem in some places well-nigh insoluble and without imposing on the schools and teachers in some areas almost insupportable strains, the problems which now beset the English and immigrant communities in these places would be far more capable of happy solution, and we should have far more cause to be proud of the way this country grew to be a multiracial society. 707 In passing, may I say that I think it would be right if there went out from your Lordships' House to-day a message of good will and encouragement and gratitude to all those teachers, of all nationalities, who are struggling so bravely, so tenaciously and so grandly in our schools to help immigrant children to overcome their problems.
Of course, we have always been a mixed society ourselves, though we are often tempted to forget it. I suppose it started with the Brythoni, then the Romans, the Angles, the Saxons, the Danes, the Norsemen and finally the Normans, who have been much in our minds recently. We have all of us got their blood in our veins. But they were all Europeans. And the problem now is how we can absorb into our 20th century society here people from other Continents and other climates. It is not just a question of colour. Colour simply makes it more difficult, because colour is a continuing reminder to both sides of the difference in origin, whereas the fact that fellow citizens of ours were born in France, in Germany, in Poland, in Greece or where you will, is not stamped on their faces as we meet them every day.
I am certain that we have got to seek to create at least a state of peaceful co-existence. I would go further. We have got to seek to create a state of happy co-existence. Under certain conditions it is not going to be impossible to do so in this country, but it is going to be very difficult and we have to realise that. Mishandled, these problems could take us the way of America. The noble Lord, Lord Elton, gave an estimate of the future coloured population in this country in 50 years' time. We have to recognise that in less than that space of time, one-third of the whole population in certain large areas of our big cities is likely to be coloured; maybe in some cases it will be one-third of the whole. We shall not handle these massive problems aright if we try to sweep them under the carpet. I entirely agree with the noble Lord there. We must not treat the problems of immigration or of immigrants as something that the politicians ought not to talk about, because it is too unsafe.
I believe that if we are to catch up on these problems by the kind of social 708 measures I have mentioned, at the same time we have got to be prepared to be stricter and stricter in controlling the inflow of people from overseas who hope to come here for permanent residence. At the turn of the decade there was a flood of these. It was checked by the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962, but pledges were given—perhaps unwisely given—by the then Government during the passage of that Bill in an effort to placate Labour and Liberal opposition to there being any restriction at all. Those pledges prevented that Act from being fully as effective in operation as it should have been. I know, because I became Home Secretary shortly after the Act came into operation.
The curiosity is, as the noble Lord, Lord Elton, mentioned, that we have two completely different codes of immigration control in this country—one for Commonwealth immigrants, which is only four and a half years old, and one for aliens, which dates from the time of the First War. Instead of relying on the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill each year to keep the aliens control in force, I am certain that we need new permanent legislation in any case for that. Surely, at the same time, if we are to legislate, we ought to make an attempt to unify the two codes for aliens and for Commonwealth citizens so far as we can, of course giving Commonwealth citizens the preference where there is any difference. I say "so far as we can", because I am not so optimistic as to think that they can be completely unified and brought together. But certainly we are at fault in continuing with two codes so unrelated to one another as the present ones.
One main divergence between the codes is that an alien is not normally given a permit to come and work here without a time limit. Normally he is permitted to enter for a year to work here. At the end of a year, if he is still required for that work and has not been in trouble with the police and seems to have been a good citizen, the Home Office will readily extend the permit and, in my time at any rate, the custom was that if the permit had been extended year by year for four years, and he showed every sign of being a good and useful citizen of this country, then the case was considered for relaxing the restrictions and permitting him to stay permanently.
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE (HOME OFFICE) (LORD STONHAM)
My Lords, probably the noble Lord would like to know that it is still the practice to continue permits to a total of four years, not five.
§ LORD BROOKE OF CUMNOR
My Lords, I beg your Lordships' pardon if I suggested that it was a term of five years. I may have used the wrong language. I appreciate that it is a total of four years. This is a sharp contrast with what happens with a work voucher for a Commonwealth citizen. A Commonwealth citizen who gets a voucher to come and work here normally gets a voucher without any time limit. Once he has got the voucher, comes to this country and is admitted by the immigration officer upon it, he can stay here for ever. Surely there ought to be a time limit set in both cases.
If in fact that had been done from the beginning, we should have avoided all those unhappy cases of Commonwealth citizens who came here and never managed to settle down to a regular job, failed to adjust themselves successfully to British life and have been dependent almost all the time they have been here on National Assistance. These are the men—this relatively small group of men—who have done such harm to the reputation of the immigrant community, most of whom are hardworking individually, and collectively are making a really valuable contribution to the national economy. Noble Lords will agree that to-day the hospital service in most parts of the country, and the transport services in many parts of the country, could not possibly continue without their assistance.
Admitting people subject to time limit means giving the Government power to send home those who have outstayed the limit. There is this power now in the law concerning aliens, but not in the law concerning Commonwealth citizens. It would mean amending the law. It is fifteen months now since the present Government published a White Paper in which they said theyregard it as important that there should be a speedy and effective power to repatriate immigrants who in one way or another, e.g., by obtaining entry by misrepresentation or by flouting the conditions on which they were admitted, evade the stricter control on immigrants that is now envisaged. Without it the effectiveness of the control would be greatly 710 weakened. It is therefore the Government's intention to seek for the Home Secretary a general power—in addition to his power to act on the recommendation of a court—to repatriate such Commonwealth citizens if he considers the public interest to require it.After that White Paper was published, yielding before a little criticism the Government withdrew from that perfectly sensible position which they had taken up; they went back on what they had said in the White Paper about the importance of stopping evasion, and I am sorry to say they created delay. They created delay by appointing a Committee to report on all this. I think your Lordships would like to hear from the Government what has been done by that Committee and when we are going to have their report. When are the Government going to take the action which fifteen months ago they said it was important to take? Surely none of us, whether in this House or in another place, would defend the continuance of evasion.
Of the net balance of inward immigration from the Commonwealth last year, 14,000 were men and 50,000 were women and children. Most of those 50,000 women and children were dependants of men already here. I have always set my face against any stopping of wives or young children from being allowed to join their husbands or fathers in this country. I cannot think that it would be right to do this. But there certainly has been evasion by people falsely claiming to be dependants, and I should like to know from the Government just what they have done, or are doing, to stop evasion of this sort.
The number of work vouchers issued to permit people to come here permanently to work fell last year from 20,000 to 16,000. We were informed in the White Paper that the issue of vouchers was to be cut to 8,500 a year. Perhaps the Government will tell us what is the current rate of issue—whether it be 8,500 or what. The fact we do know is that voucher-holders are arriving now at the rate of about 6,000 a year. I believe that we should now be issuing no new vouchers at all entitling people to come and work here permanently unless an individual has such special and such scarce qualifications that an exception should be made in his or her case.
I say this not only because unemployment in this country is rising—and we all 711 know that it is in time of unemployment that racial jealousy and hatred are most likely to flare up—but because, though 6,000 a year may seem a small number, we must remember that it does not end at 6,000. In effect, it means several times that number, because it means 6,000 new households and 6,000 new families becoming permanently established here.
But if only we could get the time limit system accepted and established for those who come to work here, all this would be rendered so much easier. I should then advocate becoming much more generous in allowing people who have been through a training in their own country overseas to come here and have the opportunity of working in modern conditions in British industry for two or three years, to get practical industrial experience in this country before taking back to their own developing country the experience that we have been able to give them. To students and trainees of all sorts we must be as generous as we possibly can be, provided, of course, that their applications are genuine.
My Lords, I should like to conclude not by summarising what I have said but by inviting your Lordships to look much further ahead into the future. What should the aim of our long-term immigration policies be? This is what requires far deeper study, in my view, than it has received hitherto. At present, we are implementing two unco-ordinated codes, one for aliens and another for Commonwealth citizens. We are operating both on a hand-to-mouth basis from year to year, with relatively little thought for the ultimate national results we are trying to achieve. When we go into the Common Market we shall be brought right up against fundamental questions on the aliens side. We are right up against them on the Commonwealth side even now.
It is we in Parliament who have responsibility for the national future in this matter. Where does the national interest of our country lie?—this country that is the centre of a Commonwealth, an Island just off the coast of Europe with ever-growing links across the Channel, and a land, as the noble Lord, Lord Elton, said, already densely populated, with the prospect of rapid further population growth. I am not daring myself to attempt any dogmatic answer to that question. No- 712 body should attempt it except as the result of deep study. What I am saying is that all its implications need to be seriously thought out by responsible people of all political Parties and of none; and if the churches will help in that, so much the better. If unbiased and deep expert study helps us all to reach a common mind on the right answer, so much the better. If not, at any rate we shall all be much better informed on this question which is so vital to the future of our country. The key decisions must be reached in the light of considered long-term purposes, not of passionate emotions in one direction or another. My Lords, that is my conviction and that is my approach to this debate. If, as a result of this debate, we can draw nearer to those ultimate aims, then the noble Lord's Motion will have served a magnificent purpose.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ LORD WADE
My Lords, I should like to join with the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Elton, for introducing this debate, although I must be honest and say that I should not have introduced the subject in quite the same phraseology. It is, of course, an extremely important subject. I have listened with very great interest to the speech that has just been made by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor. He speaks with the great experience of holding high office, including that of Home Secretary; and, if I may say so, his was a very valuable contribution.
I think the example that Britain sets will matter a great deal in the years ahead, not only here but in British influence in international affairs. But before commenting on the Motion I must make an apology. I am afraid that I may not be able to be present at the winding-up of this debate. I have an engagement which I undertook a long time ago and which I feel I must keep, and therefore I apologise to the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, and to the noble Lord, Lord Elton. I have already written an apology to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. I try to make a point of being present at the winding-up of a debate, even when I have not spoken. It is all the more important to be here when one has spoken. But perhaps the best thing I can do to make amends on this occasion is to keep my speech as short as is reasonably possible.
713 I do not think there is much to be gained by discussing the errors of the past, but mistakes have been made, and in my view the greatest mistake was the lack of planned welcome. Far too little was done in that respect in the 1950s, except for the noble work of a few volunteers. In the debate on March 10 last year, my noble friend Lady Asquith of Yarnbury referred to what was being done in Holland, and I think what she said bears repetition. If I may give one quote, she said: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."—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, Vol. 264, col. 82; 10/3/65.]The numbers, of course, are considerable, as the noble Baroness pointed out.
The Dutch, with a population of 12 million, have roughly 300,000 immigrants from Asia in their country. Of course, the circumstances are not quite the same, but I think the efforts in Holland are to be commended. I notice that my noble friend said this: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."[col. 83.]It would be interesting to know whether that was done. I think that if we in this country had said that we welcomed these citizens from the Commonwealth countries; that there were jobs here to be done and vacancies waiting for them; that we would do our best to act as a host country; and that we would try to ensure that they found accommodation—if we had taken that attitude then, with the passage of time, or as the numbers built up, if we had found that there was not sufficient accommodation we could have said that restriction was necessary, and it would have been understood and we should not have appeared to be discriminative.
So much for the past. That is past history, and I regret that great mistakes have been made. The task to-day is to try to create this co-existence, to which the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, referred, and to achieve the minimum of race feeling. Of course, this is not an easy task. I would suggest that there is 714 a danger in too much generalisation, and there is some danger in quoting figures. I understand that the figures from the Wolver Hampton M.O.H., which were mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, have already been questioned, and they must be taken with some caution.
As I say, one must not generalise. For example, in this attempt to achieve some integration there are many practical differences between the Pakistanis and the West Indians. There is also a great difference in the nature of the problem between those who come as weekly wage-earners and those with higher qualifications. It is very sad to see immigrant graduates unable to obtain employment suited to their skills. Two examples were brought to my attention in a letter this morning: a Pakistani, a graduate in Russian and engineering, working as a bus conductor because that was the only employment he could get; and an Indian graduated from Oxford with a good degree in English who, I am told, applied to fifteen schools without even getting an interview and who has now taken a job carrying clay at an art school. I think noble Lords must agree that that is a regrettable state of affairs.
To return to the Pakistani community, and dealing for a moment with those who are content with more humble occupations, they come here to work—there is no doubt about that; they do not come here to be idle. Up to 1964 I used to pay a visit once or twice a year to the employment exchange in my part of the world to inquire about the employment position. There was very little unemployment, and long-term unemployment was extremely rare. There was a certain amount of temporary unemployment, due to mobility. I visited the Pakistanis in their homes. There was certainly great overcrowding, but one cannot very well blame them for that; they have to take such accommodation as they can find. I think it is worth noting a point made by Mr. Philip Mason in an introduction to a book called Black British, recently published by the Oxford University Press, and written by Dr. Davidson. Referring to the Indians and the Pakistanis, he makes mention of their intense regard for personal cleanliness, in spite of the difficult housing conditions. 715 But, of course, there are practical difficulties, so far as integration is concerned. There is the difficulty of language, to which the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, referred. There are the differences in religion. One Pakistani pointed out that in England, if you want to get to know people and to make friends, you go to a public-house. But this is contrary to their religious beliefs; they are requested not to go to public-houses. This Pakistani said to me: "One of the curious things about England is that if you want to make friends you have to drink alcohol". Perhaps there is some truth in that, and no doubt it presents a barrier.
Then, of course, some do not come with the intention of staying. That is quite true. A good many Pakistanis come here in order to earn sufficient money over a period of years to enable them to go back and buy a plot of land in their own country. I do not see any harm in that. I should have thought that, if we believe in helping the underdeveloped countries, one way to achieve this is that they should come here and carry out jobs that are needed, and then, when they have earned a certain amount, go back and buy a plot of land in their own country. I should have thought there was no objection to that.
So far as the West Indians are concerned, there are different factors which apply. In the first place, the West Indians, with all their variety, are really the product of British policy. Britain, to them, is their home. They fought for Britain, they have been proud to call themselves British; and when they come here and find that they are not welcome it is often a shock. Some of them have gone home for that reason. Others have gone home because of the weather, and others because of housing conditions. But there are many who stay, although I must say that I was surprised at the figures in the book to which I have referred; namely, that of the Jamaicans interviewed 74 per cent. of the men and 86 per cent. of the women expressed an intention to return to Jamaica some day. It may be that it is regarded as the far-off future. But there are many who stay, and we must try to make their life here as happy as possible. There 716 are some who intend to settle here permanently, and I join with the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, in commending the work of those voluntary organisations which are trying to make this living together possible.
Of course a great deal of patience is required. Last Thursday your Lordships held a debate on the Poles when a tribute was paid to them. I approve wholeheartedly of what was said, but I remember very well that in the post-war years there were many grumbles about the Poles, certainly in my part of the country. One did not hear it in public meetings, but in the clubs, where people are more outspoken. It was said that the Poles were getting priority in housing, better treatment for health; that they were getting jobs that other people might have—the natural type of reaction to what we call "comers-in" in the West Riding of Yorkshire. If you come from another town you are a "comer-in"; how much more so if you come from another country! But you do not hear those grumbles about the Poles any more.
If that is true of the Poles, perhaps it is understandable that there should be some feeling about Commonwealth citizens, but I think it is up to us to try to make their life here a happy one. So far, I have been talking about conditions of full employment, because up until 1964, when I was active as a Member of the other House, there were, for most of that time, conditions of full employment. But the task is infinitely more difficult if there is substantial unemployment; and that is a new factor at the moment.
So far as doctors, nurses and, I imagine, most of the transport workers are concerned, unemployment may not affect them. I do not know, and I shall be glad to hear. But there are many other sectors of the economy where immigrants are employed and where unemployment may have an effect and may well be the outcome of this so-called "shake-out". After all, it is the deliberate policy of the Government to create unemployment, and therefore it must be the responsibility of the Government to do something about the effects of unemployment. What is Government policy in this respect? Have there been consultations with the trade unions and, if so, what is the outcome? Unemployment could create a very tense situation. The squeeze is only just beginning to take effect. I am sure it would be 717 quite wrong to contend that the immigrants should be the first out on every occasion when there is unemployment.
My last point is this. Certainly nothing will be said by me—and I hope that nothing will be said in this debate—to exacerbate the situation. May I quote from a letter written by a lady working on a local liaison committee in an industrial city? This is one short extract from a letter written to my noble friend Lord Byers the other day, which he passed on to me:The prospect of inflammatory racialist talk getting wide publicity is disastrous at the moment;…anyone wanting to create bad feeling will have it all his own way…it may seem unnecessary or impertinent on my part, but I must plead my great anxiety, working, as I am, in a City which has enjoyed boom conditions for years and is now quite suddenly faced with massive unemployment.There is no doubt that there is the possibility of rising resentment. It would be understandable, if regrettable. Therefore, I hope we shall have an assurance from the Government that nothing will be done or said that will make more difficult the work of those trying to create harmony between people of different races or colour, and I hope that the outcome of this debate will be to help those who are trying to create that harmony.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, in the division of responsibilities on behalf of the Government in respect of this debate it has been agreed that my noble friend Lady Phillips will deal with a good many questions which the noble Lord, Lord Wade, raised, in particular his question about Holland and our studies there, and also with the question of aliens as compared with Commonwealth citizens, which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor. However, I would say to the noble Lord that, as he will be aware from his own experience, his suggestion that Commonwealth citizens should be admitted on the same basis as aliens (that they come to work for a limited period at first and if they are of good conduct, after a time be allowed to stay) will have no sensible effect in reducing the numbers. As he himself said, most Commonwealth citizens are of good behaviour, and indeed most of them, certainly those with vouchers, hope to stay permanently, 718 whereas most aliens who come to work here do not want to remain for good. Having had that one difference of opinion with the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, may I say how very warmly I welcome almost everything he said in his speech, and I will do my best to answer the points that have been raised so far.
In company with the noble Lord I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Elton, for the opportunity to debate this very important subject, and for the courteous and, as the noble Lord himself put it, "unimpassioned objectivity" with which he expressed views to which I am completely opposed—views, indeed, which to me seem to depict a situation in this country which to my knowledge does not exist and which I hope and believe never will exist. I believe that, however much we rationalise them, the views of each and every one of us on the problems of immigration are coloured by our own fundamental beliefs, which fall into two broad categories: first, those who, if it were possible, would admit without restriction all who wish to come here, and let them stay so long as they observe our laws; second, those who, economics apart, would refuse entry on racial or religious grounds.
To-day, so far as I am aware, no country in the world finds it possible to permit unlimited free entry, and for the foreseeable future it is not a practicable possibility here. It is therefore the policy of Her Majesty's Government (as indeed it was when the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, was Home Secretary) to control immigration for permanent residence at a level related both to economic need and our capacity to absorb the newcomers into the community, whilst at the same time rejecting utterly any vestige of discrimination on grounds of colour, race or religion. It is to the problems, successes and failures of that policy that I want to direct your attention. I think I am not being unfair in suggesting that the whole burden of Lord Elton's speech was that our objective is beyond us, and also that it would require (and I think to some extent the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, agreed with this) more stringent powers of immigration control than we possess.
719 It is true that the governing statute confers upon the wife and the children under 16 years of age of a Commonwealth citizen resident here a legal right to be admitted to the United Kingdom. It is also true that, taking into account the dependants of all the Commonwealth citizens living here—including those who arrived before the immigration control came into force in 1962—this is a commitment of unknown and probably large dimensions. That is not disputed. But what is the alternative? Would any noble Lord deprive a Commonwealth worker whom we have accepted into our community of the right to have his wife and family with him? Or would he allow those already here to bring their dependants, but deny this right to future immigrants; that is, admit them on condition that they deserted their families, if they had them, and accepted celibacy? I was very glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, say how fully he supported the continuance of this obligation which his Government accepted and this Government have continued. But to accept the noble Lord's proposal, if the noble Lord, Lord Elton, was proposing it, of confining immigration to colonies of young unmarried males would be to conjure into a reality the problems of integration which he so gloomily, and as I think—
§ LORD ELTON
My Lords, if the noble Lord will allow me to interrupt, I am utterly at a loss to know to what passage in my speech he is referring in saying I suggested admitting only young unmarried males. It is the first I have heard of it.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, if they were not unmarried the suggestion that we should exclude dependants would mean, married or not, that they would have to be celibate over here.
§ LORD STONHAM
A considerable part of the noble Lord's speech—and I took quite a note of it—was with reference to this question of dependants and their massive numbers; for example, the Noble Lord spoke about the dependants' entry being uncontrolled and forming the vast majority of those who have come and who can come here.
§ LORD ELTON
If the noble Lord will forgive me, I was using those figures to show that the Home Secretary was using very loose language when he spoke about powers to contain numbers coming in. I pointed out that there was no control over dependants. I was not suggesting dependants should be excluded or only young males admitted. That is a pure fantasy of the noble Lord's imagination.
§ LORD STONHAM
I am glad to have the explanation and I am sorry if I misunderstood the noble Lord's remarks. In that event, on this issue there is no difference of opinion between us. I would repeat that it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to treat the family as the natural unit, and so long as we continue to admit voucher-holders so long will the right to bring their dependants with them continue. We, of course, accept, as the noble Lord will, that the reduction in the number of voucher holders does not have as drastic and immediate effect on total immigration as it otherwise would do. But in the long term it must have its effect. I do not accept that we are helpless before an unknowable and uncontrollable flood of immigration. We are operating an effective, although admittedly not 100 per cent. perfect, control; and we are accepting our obligation to treat those accepted here as equal members of the community.
Just consider what practical steps we have taken since October, 1964. We first of all drastically reduce the number of voucher-holders from 20,000 to 8,500 a year. These Ministry of Labour vouchers are valid for six months, subject to renewal in certain circumstances. As your Lordships will be aware, the number of admissions always has been less than the number of vouchers issued. Over the last three years admissions against vouchers have steadily declined. I think the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, referred to there being in 1964 14,705 admissions; last year, they were 12,880 and in the first nine months of this year only 4,285. That is a reduction of more than 6,000 compared with the same nine months last year. It seems likely that the final figure for 1966 will be less than half that for 1965 and about one-third of the 1964 level.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, is it not a fact—I only want to get these 721 figures right—that the bulk of the immigration takes place in the last three or four months of the year? So the first nine months' figures do not really give us a true picture of this year. Am I right in that, or wrong?
§ LORD STONHAM
I should think that in this matter the noble Lord is wrong. I think the figures he has in mind are that in the first nine months of the year the total inflow is usually considerably higher than the total outflow. In the last quarter of the year a lot of people go back home and therefore the figures are adjusted.
§ LORD STONHAM
Actually, if the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, will take the figure of 4,285 actual admissions against vouchers for the first nine months of this year, it does work out, as the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, said, at an annual rate of about 6,000. These are figures of which we do have actual control, and the statistics are quite reliable. In any case, comparing like with like and period with period, the figure of actual admissions in the first nine months of this year, and probably over the year as a whole, is likely to be one-third of what it was in 1964. And in the long term it is reasonable to expect a corresponding fall in the number of dependants.
The noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, particularly asked and suggested that the Government should, as with aliens, admit Commonwealth immigrants outside the voucher scheme, or instead of the voucher scheme, to train or to take up seasonal employment. He may like to know that for the last six months we have been doing precisely that, outside the voucher scheme; and some hundreds of Commonwealth citizens—not immigrants because they have not come here as immigrants for permanent stay—have been admitted under entry conditions which set down that they must return when their period of training or the period of seasonal employment is finished.
The noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, also demanded stricter control. In many respects that is an actual fact. All Commonwealth visitors and students are now subject to conditions limiting 722 their period of stay. These modifications and others have been brought into force as and when they were announced; and, as the noble Lord will remember, the White Paper was published on August 10 last. For a comparison about stricter control, during the whole period from the commencement of the 1962 Act until July 31, 1965, during most of which the noble Lord was Home Secretary, only 4,428 Commonwealth citizens were admitted subject to conditions. But in the next fourteen months—that is, from July, 1965, to September 30 this year—conditions were imposed in 364,114 cases—of course an unquestionably stricter control. That stricter control led at first to some increase in the numbers who had to be refused admission at the ports.
§ LORD BROOKE OF CUMNOR
My Lords, I know that we do not want to develop Party differences in any way, but I think it is only right that I should point out that the reason why the Conservative Government refrained in general from applying time limits to vouchers or to students or business visitors was simply and solely the difficulty we apprehended in enforcing those time limits. It would be helpful to know from the noble Lord what has been the experience of the present Government in preventing people from outstaying their limit.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I hope the noble Lord will accept from me that I was not making a vestige of a Party point; I was not even criticising. I was replying to his request for stricter control and for information about it, and I am just going to give him some figures and the information that he has asked for. Over 300,000 Commonwealth citizens were admitted here during the first nine months of 1965, and 1,060 were refused admission. This year the proportion of refusals has fallen somewhat, because out of approximately the same global figure, 864 were denied entry.
There has certainly been no lessening in the warmth of our welcome for Commonwealth citizens who come here as either visitors or students. Most of them automatically observe the condition to leave within the time specified, but we have to try to ensure that the minority who might be inclined to break the condition leave when their time has expired. 723 If we did not, as the noble Lord from his experience will fully appreciate, Commonwealth citizens could avoid the queue for vouchers, by coming here as visitors or students and then staying on permanently for employment. This would defeat the voucher scheme as a means of regulating the rate of entry, and would be most unfair to those waiting in the queue overseas for vouchers. In the last resort, of course, enforcement of these conditions, which is distasteful, involves a police prosecution for the offence of not observing the condition, and eventually deportation; but so far it has not often come to that. But certainly, with more and more Commonwealth citizens admitted subject to conditions, we must face the prospect of having to enforce the conditions more frequently if attempted evasion reached significant proportions.
As the noble Lord is aware, evasion of the control can take two forms. An immigrant may falsely claim to be entitled to admission for settlement—for example, by claiming to be the young child of someone already here, when in fact no such relationship exists. Our immigration officers expose this kind of falsehood far too often not to know that some must slip through. But there is no way of estimating how many. I want to make it clear that this is not a case of failing to keep adequate statistics. If we could spot all these evasions there would be none to count! Evasions of this kind that succeed are included in the statistics of those properly admitted.
The second kind of evasion consists of gaining admission for a temporary purpose, such as a holiday or as a student, and then staying on for good. We can only make an estimate of that by comparing the net inward balance for a given period (that is, the difference between the total number coming in and the total number going out) with the number deliberately admitted for settlement. This gives us what is called the "excess inward movement". I want to emphasise that it is only a most crude estimate of evasion, not only because it takes no account of the kind of evasion I have already mentioned, but because it is statistically quite unreliable unless it is taken over a period of years during which the total flow is roughly constant. Partly for this reason 724 it is particularly unreliable when applied to the old Commonwealth countries.
As I told your Lordships last year, the excess inward movement—if you like, the crude evasion figure—for 1963 and 1964 for new Commonwealth countries was just over 10,000 for the two years together. But last year the figure was in fact negative, in that the balance known to have stayed was 233 fewer than the number deliberately admitted. I say at once that I do not claim too much for this. On the contrary, as I have tried to explain through the possible weaknesses in these figures, I do not wish to claim that this, as might be thought, striking improvement means that the problem of evasion has been solved—far from it. But I think one can say that the figures suggest that the administrative measures we have taken to combat evasion have not been ineffective.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, if I might interrupt my noble friend, he has given us the figures of evasion from the new Commonwealth countries. Can he possibly give us figures for the older Commonwealth countries?
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, of course, I gave those to my noble friend some time ago. I have not got them handy by me, but I will certainly ask my noble friend Lady Phillips to give them. I am sure the noble Lord will be gratified, but again I would say in advance that they do not have any real value.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, I wonder whether I might ask for information. The noble Lord has given us what I think is most useful information; but I want to know, if I can understand it, exactly what he means by evasion in the case of a dependant. Is the right of a dependant to seek to come in in any way dependent on marriage? That is to say, how many people could come in as a wife, or as wives, of a man already lawfully here? And must the children be legitimate children, or do they include illegitimate children? It seems to me that there may be a great many who can come in without any evasion at all.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, so far as dependent children are concerned, they are children aged 16 and under, and in certain circumstances over the age of 16. With regard to wives, we do 725 admit wives who have been married to their husbands according to the law of the land from which they come and the religion they observe, which means that some men have more than one wife. We have in fact admitted two wives for one man, but so far as I am able to discover not more than two. I am glad to answer any question, but I want to cover as many points and to give as many facts as possible; so perhaps I may push on. Indeed, the statistics of Commonwealth immigration are published annually, and the monthly figures are placed in the Library. I do not want to recount them, but I should perhaps just refer briefly to one or two matters.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord again, but I am still not clear. When a man comes into this country, legally or illegally, from the moment he is here is there any record of what happens to that man? I quite appreciate that there is a record of the total numbers coming in and the total numbers going out, but once a Commonwealth immigrant is here, is any particular record kept about that individual man?
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, most certainly. If a Commonwealth immigrant comes in as a voucher holder, there is a record; if he comes in under the new conditions that I have described for training or for seasonal employment, there is a record; if he comes in and his entry is under conditions as a student or a visitor, there is a stamp in his passport, so again there is a record. It is, of course, possible for a person to get lost, and it may then be the duty of the police to find him.
§ LORD DERWENT
When I spoke of "a record" I was not referring to his passport. I was referring to the man's record in the sense of an alien, where there is a card showing where that man is. Does that happen in regard to any Commonwealth immigrant?
§ LORD STONHAM
This is a complicated point which I would not try to answer off the cuff, but I will see that the noble Lord has an answer by the end of the debate. I was dealing with figures in general, and I would say that in general the entry figures in relation to people from the older Commonwealth 726 have continued to increase, but the net balance of admissions over embarkations was lower last year than in 1964. This trend has continued, because the figures for the first nine months of this year are lower than for the corresponding period last year.
For the other Commonwealth countries—that is, the new Commonwealth countries—the differences are indeed more noticeable. This is some answer to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, in his opening speech. The total traffic has increased a little. The number of dependants admitted last year, 1965, was 39,228, compared with 35,738 in 1964. In the first nine months of this year the figure was only 28,007; that is to say, over 1,300 less than during the same period of 1965. Possibly as additional evidence of reduced evasion, there has been a considerable reduction in the net balance of admissions over embarkations. In 1964 it was 62,000, in 1965 about 53,500, but in the first nine months of this year it was only 41,663—nearly 9,000 less than in the corresponding period last year. I am talking about the new Commonwealth countries. I think that some part of these changes must be attributed to the firmer measures of control which were introduced last year.
So far I have spoken about the Government's responsibility for the control of immigration. I want now to turn to questions of integration which are now the responsibility of the Home Office. I should be prepared to accept in large degree what the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, said about the mystical word "integration" and matters of adjustment, but I should like to develop that argument a little later. We are doing our utmost to ensure that our fellow citizens from the Commonwealth, who have made their homes here and who make such an important contribution to our economy, are accepted into our community as full and equal members.
The noble Lord, Lord Elton, dealt with the absence of official statistics about the number of immigrants and their children, facts which he thought we must know. Let me say briefly what statistics we have. Since 1962 we have records of the numbers of citizens from various Commonwealth countries who have entered this country, including those coming here to settle. The 1961 Census 727 report gives the number of people in the various local authority areas born in Commonwealth countries and a more detailed analysis of those resident in the main conurbations. These figures are a little out of date, but more up-to-date and comprehensive figures will be available when the 1966 Census reports are published. The Department of Education and Science are now collecting annual returns of immigrant pupils in schools. We believe that these figures, plus the estimates which local authorities and others are able to make, give us a reasonable indication of the numbers of people from the Commonwealth who have made their homes in certain towns in this country and enable us to make a fair assessment of the various social problems involved.
The noble Lord, Lord Elton, has estimated that in fifty years from now there will be some 3½ million people in this country of Asian, West Indian or African origin. He quoted the Economist Intelligence Unit which gave some basis for that estimate and mentioned the birthrate. So far as fertility rates are concerned, from the 1961 Census we know that if the fertility rate for all women in England and Wales is taken as 1 the fertility rate of immigrants from India, Pakistan, and Ceylon is 1.14, a little over 10 per cent. higher. But for people from Northern Ireland it is 1.22, and from the Irish Republic it is 1.35.
§ THE EARL OF IDDESLEIGH
My Lords, could the noble Lord tell the House the fertility rate of the Caribbeans?
§ LORD STONHAM
I do not know about the Caribbean as a whole, but as to West Indians I think it is 1.73. I cannot say whether the estimate of 3½ million people in the year 2020 which the noble Lord gave is wrong or right, but, even if he is right, 3½ million people would represent something under 4½ per cent. of the total population of the country projected for that year. The point is that the majority of them would then be the children and grandchildren of people born and educated here. Accurate information is not always available, but I do not follow the noble Lord in his apparent desire to perpetuate categories of immigrants. It is no part of the Government's policy permanently to define as immigrants those citizens of the 728 Commonwealth who have made their homes in this country, and certainly their children cannot be so described.
We believe it is the function of Government, in this difficult field of human relations, to give a lead to public opinion so that racial prejudice, where it exists, will find no part in the life of our society. But Government action by itself is not enough. It has to be supported by the attitudes and actions of individuals, by local authorities, by the Churches and by voluntary organisations, by industry and the trade unions, by the universities and indeed by all those who are in positions of influence and authority.
The noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, referred, in terms which I support, to the National Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants which was set up under the chairmanship of the most reverend Primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and which has the task of promoting and co-ordinating efforts directed towards the integration of Commonwealth immigrants. This Committee has made a most vigorous start and during its first year it has set up a number of specialist advisory panels to deal with various aspects of its work—for example, health, housing, education and employment. These panels, which include representatives of many organisations and interests, examine in detail the special problems which immigrants face. It is also part of their work to co-ordinate the activities of the forty or so voluntary liaison committees which have now been set up in many of the areas where immigrants have made their home.
These local committees have a very important part to play in dealing with local problems. As an indication of the Government's support for their work, we have made funds available through the National Committee from which grants can be paid towards the salaries of full-time officers to serve the committees. So far, six of them are receiving grants and I very much hope that more will apply for grants in the near future. I also hope that any local authority which is hesitating about supporting a voluntary liaison committee will recognise the importance of its work and give it their full co-operation. I welcome this opportunity to convey the thanks of Her Majesty's Government to all those who 729 have volunteered their services as members of the National Committee and its panels and of the voluntary liaison committees.
In parallel with the work of the National Committee is the work of the Race Relations Board which was established in March, 1966, in accordance with the provisions of the Act. Under the energetic leadership of its Chairman, Mr. Bonham Carter, the Board has made a most encouraging start. Under the Act it is required to set up local conciliation committees and it is the Board's intention eventually to have about 12 to 14 of these committees throughout the country. Three committees have now been set up, one in London, one in the North-West and a third in the West Midlands. These three between them will, for the time being, cover the whole country. The Board has appointed a chief conciliation officer and has advertised for three other conciliation officers to work with each of the three committees.
So far the Board has received over 160 complaints of discriminatory conduct, of which about three-quarters are outside the scope of the Act, being, for example, about discrimination in employment, housing or in private clubs and hotels. Of the 40 or more complaints about discrimination in places of public resort, two have been rejected as unjustified and investigation of the others is proceeding. Noble Lords will no doubt be aware that so far one prosecution has been brought under Section 6 of the Race Relations Act for incitement to racial hatred and that the youth concerned was found guilty and has been sent to borstal.
There has been a good deal of criticism of the inadequacies of the Act and we have been pressed to extend its provisions to cover racial discrimination in employment, housing and other fields. On this I would say that if further experience and evidence show that existing machinery is inadequate the Government will be prepared to consider the need for further legislation. In reaching a decision on this we shall naturally take into account the results of the investigation now being carried out by P.E.P. on behalf of the National Committee and the Race Relations Board into the extent of racial discrimination in this country.
The Government are taking a number of other steps which indicate their con- 730 cern that the problems of Commonwealth immigrants should be dealt with in a positive way. We hope soon to produce a simple leaflet designed to give them certain essential basic information about life in this country. We have decided to make grants to those local authorities which have a substantial number of Commonwealth immigrants and the necessary provision has been made in the Local Government Bill. The grants will be a contribution to expenditure in respect of staff specially employed to deal with problems created by differences of language and cultural background. My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced the Government's intention to use their purchasing powers to discourage racial discrimination in employment. That point was made by my noble friend Lord Brockway. We are discussing with the authorities concerned certain special difficulties in connection with matters such as child-minding. We are also giving close attention to the relations between the police and immigrants which sometimes give cause for concern. Efforts are being made to promote a better understanding on the part of the immigrant communities of the nature and purpose of police functions in Britain, and a better appreciation on the part of the police of the ways of life of the immigrant communities. A number of police officers arc already members of voluntary liaison committees and the police would welcome further invitations to join these committees.
A good example of the sort of constructive action which can be taken to deal with particular difficulties is to be found in the field of education. Many Commonwealth teachers have posts, including posts of responsibility, in our schools, and make a most welcome contribution to our teaching force. Many would-be teachers, including some who have been given vouchers, are, however, finding it impossible to secure teaching appointments, some because of language difficulties or unfamiliarity with our teaching methods.
The noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, stressed particularly the importance of immigrants being able to speak English well, and I could not agree more. We are really tackling this problem energetically. The Department of Education and Science has sponsored four full-time 731 fifteen-month courses for teachers. They will be concentrating on language difficulties and teaching methods. Courses of this length and calibre appear to be essential if the serious difficulties to which the noble Lord referred are to be overcome.
One-term courses are also available for teachers (not immigrants) who are teaching immigrant children. The first of these courses is now being completed, and about six similar courses will be run next year. Some teachers of immigrant children have also benefited from attendance at one of the several one-year courses. We really are tackling this major problem of the teaching of English, and research into and development of the teaching, as a problem of urgency and importance, as witness the special project which has been set up at Leeds University Institute of Education.
My Lords, I should now like to say a word about employment, which was in particular raised by the noble Lord, Lord Wade—indeed, in some ways it is the key to the success of our efforts at integration. The Government's policy on this is quite unequivocal: there should be no discrimination in the engagement of workers on grounds of race, colour, creed or sex; and nowhere is this more important than in the employment of those young people who have been born and educated in this country. The Ministry of Labour has implemented this policy by persuading employers, wherever possible, not to impose discriminatory conditions when notifying vacancies. It has had much success in this, and there has been little difficulty in absorbing immigrants into employment. Nevertheless, the Ministry has remained alert to the possibility that individual employers might, through personal prejudice, deny equal opportunities to certain groups of applicants.
The Ministry earlier this year amplified the instructions to its officers. These now require that, when submitting suitable applicants, the fact that a worker is of a particular race, colour or religion is not to be mentioned to the employer, unless either the applicant asks this to be made known, or it is judged by the Ministry's local officers to be likely to improve the prospects of an applicant getting the job. Where an employer, in notifying 732 a vacancy, discriminates against suitable applicants, the Ministry's officers are also required to discuss the matter with him, to determine what justification there is for the stipulation, and whether all possible steps have been taken to remove objections. If, after this, the discriminatory conditions are not withdrawn, and it is considered that they stem from the employer's own prejudice, the matter is referred to the Ministry's Headquarters, who may rule that in future no help shall be given in filling any of that firm's vacancies.
It has been suggested in some quarters, and again in this debate, that immigration should be halted, or at least reduced, so long as we have an unemployment problem. But, my Lords, vouchers are now issued only to those who have jobs to come to, or have professional qualifications which are in short supply in this country. I do not want to go into the details, but I think that if the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, examined the list of professions which are now covered under the "B" voucher arrangements he would be perfectly satisfied that they met the point that he made. Immigrants with vouchers are not entering Britain to compete for jobs for which British-born people are available. In any case the number of voucher-holders each year is now only a tiny fraction of the working population—just under one in 2,500 of all our workers. Apart from the fact that we have to disappoint many who wish to come here, despite the many difficulties, I say that the scheme as a whole is working well, and we are beginning to achieve what the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, described as a state of happy co-existence. Indeed, it is plain to see that it is in existence in many areas.
With regard to housing, it is true that, in the main, immigrants settle in those cities where jobs are most easily found—and they are almost always the cities with the worst housing problems. There is an acute shortage of dwellings to let at low rents, and there are a great many obsolescent or slum dwellings. Thus we get an inflow of immigrants into a few areas, which increases the demand for new dwellings and aggravates the problems of overcrowding. Because the building rate has not been able to keep pace with 733 demand in these areas of high employment, the local authorities have long waiting lists of families in need of accommodation; and the prospects of immigrants obtaining a council house quickly are therefore very limited. As a result, many of them are forced to seek privately rented accommodation, or to buy; and this, of course, leads to severe overcrowding and the unsatisfactory use of large houses for multi-occupation at high rent levels.
It has been suggested that one solution of this problem would be to disperse coloured immigrants from the relatively few towns where they are concentrated. This seems a very reasonable suggestion, until you consider how to put it into practice. We have no frontier around Birmingham. Who is to man the barricades? Powers to direct people to live here and work there do not exist in our country; and I think most people would agree that to govern 2 per cent. of the community with the powers of a Police State while governing the remaining 98 per cent. according to the principles of democracy would be unthinkable.
There is, in fact, no immediate solution to this extremely difficult housing problem: only enough low-rented houses will provide the cure. So the Government are pursuing a vigorous policy directed to the building of more houses of better quality. To speed production, councils are encouraged to make a much greater use of industrialised methods in house building. They will also be given greater financial incentive, and a Bill will be introduced in Parliament this Session to make provision for much more generous housing subsidies. But the provision of sufficient houses to let at low rents will take a long time, and in the meantime it is the Government's aim to see that existing powers are used to ensure reasonable living conditions. Councils already possess wide powers to improve bad conditions in existing houses; They can, for example, prevent or reduce overcrowding in the multi-occupied houses; they can require the installation of better facilities; and in the worst cases they can take over management themselves. These powers are being kept under review, and we intend to bring in further legislation if it becomes necessary.
Whilst we agree it would be wrong to propose specially favoured treatment for 734 immigrants so far as housing is concerned, the Government are conscious of their special problems, and recently the Minister of Housing met a deputation from the National Committee of Commonwealth Immigrants to discuss them. My right honourable friend promised to continue to press local authorities to assist housing associations, to review the improvement grant system and to consider questions about the allocation of council houses and re-housing from clearance areas. He proposes to hold a conference with local authorities on this subject.
In dealing (perhaps at too great length, but I have tried to cover a great many points) with the arguments that have been raised, I hope I have convinced your Lordships that the Government are giving a firm lead—the lead which it is our duty to offer. I felt that the main burden of the speech with which the noble Lord, Lord Elton, opened this debate was that, in many ways, what we are attempting is an impossible task. He pointed out that the Asians have no intention of changing their cultures, their traditions, their customs or their standards for ours. My Lords, I think he is quite right; but here I come back to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, with regard to the words "integration" and "adjustment". I think the difference is between "integration" and "assimilation". If the noble Lord, Lord Elton, means that these people, or some of them, will not be assimilated within the foreseeable future, then I would agree with him; but then we are not disturbed by that. As my right honourable friend the Home Secretary said:We must aim not at a flattening process of assimilation but at equal opportunity, accompanied by cultural diversity, in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance".I do not accept that Asians who cling to their religion and customs and who have a preference for certain types of food or traditional clothing are not being integrated, although they are not being assimilated. The bearded and turbaned Sikh who collects my bus fare has indeed been integrated but not assimilated, and I ask: why should he be, any more than the London Scots, the London Welsh or the London Irish? The kilt, the kirk and even the haggis long ago ceased to be 735 a barrier to civilised neighbourly relations: why should the turban, the mosque or curry prove an insuperable barrier? I do not think they will. I believe that if, with sensible, careful control, unbounded energy and determination, the Government and the people of this country go ahead in implementing the feelings, the traditions and the beliefs in which most of us were brought up, we shall make a great success of this policy—a success which, I think, will be an example to the world.
§ 5.30 p.m.
THE MARQUESS OF AILESBURY
My Lords, I am taking a calculated risk in addressing you on what I know is widely regarded as a most controversial subject, and there is a subsidiary risk also in that some of your Lordships know me as a countryman. Indeed, I live in Wiltshire where we have but one industrial area, and so in a sense it may be said that we stand back a little from the urban problems which have been discussed today. But there is an old adage that those who are directly overshadowed may fail to see the wood for the trees, and so it may be that we who stand back a little in Wiltshire are able to see that wood and to see its contours. And what we see is, I think, rather disquieting. What worries me is the way in which this matter of immigration is always thought of, written of and described, as a difficult political problem. Is it a problem? I have difficulty in seeing it so because—again, here, perhaps, is the simple countryman speaking—I visualise Parliament as having many and various duties but one primary duty which, as I see it, transcends all others. It is the duty of seeing to the wellbeing of the ordinary British citizen—I repeat "the ordinary British citizen".
To my mind that duty comes first; and if one is able to accept that, then I would say that where duty is plain, surely a non-problem results. I should like to suggest that this matter of immigration is a statistical non-problem. So it seems to me that what is needed to deal with this matter is something in the nature of a Civil Service working party (more effective, perhaps, than any that now exist) which I should like to see headed by a non-politician, by a man of eminence, if possible a man of eminence in the business world, who is known for his 736 ability to sort out problems and produce the right answers. I am thinking quite frankly that the need is for someone a little akin to the noble Lord who gained celebrity as Dr. Beeching; because a working party with someone like that at its head could help our Government by making recommendations which would really carry weight. If, as I think likely, such a working party were to say that immigration into industrial zones must cease, then the Government would be able to say, "Well, of course, we are completely impartial; we do not lean either way. We are neither pro-immigration nor anti-immigration. Here is this opinion from someone who has studied the matter closely and really knows it, and we must act upon it."
Notice, my Lords, that I said a "statistical non-problem", because I think it very important to keep Party politics out of the matter. Where Party politics enter, there nasty gibes are made about "political lepers" and things of that sort. But it is impossible to jeer at statisticians; and this again is something we in Wilt shire are well aware of. We suffered quite severely when Dr. Beeching was making his inquiry, in that we had most of our branch railway lines closed. But we had to accept this; it was a case of the greatest good for the ordinary Englishman—and all over England for our local convenience the ordinary taxpayer was having to put his hand deep into his pockets. We had to say, "Well, Beeching must know best. There it is." If this matter of immigration could be approached in a similar way I think the Government in office, of whatever political colour, could take courage and could act boldly for the well-being of the ordinary native-born citizen of our British Isles. Finally, I should like to suggest that the more a matter is embarrassed by controversy and difficulty the more it seems essential that this great principle should prevail.
§ 5.37 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LEICESTER
My Lords, those who have listened to the mature confidence with which the last speaker has addressed the House will find it difficult to believe what the Order Paper tells us; namely, that the speaker we have just listened to was in fact a maiden speaker. Were it not for the unfailing custom of this House to congratulate 737 maiden speakers, whatever their maturity and eloquence, with a few words of thanks, I certainly should not presume to congratulate him upon it. I would say, however, that we are very glad that to-day he has left the beauties of the Savernake Forest, which must be very attractive in the autumn season, to come and give us his fresh, original and spontaneous thoughts on this very difficult matter. We look forward to many similar occasions in the future.
In the unavoidable absence of the most reverend Primate, who is chairman of the National Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants, I think it would be your Lordships' wish that some contribution to this debate should be made from these Benches, a debate which we are glad to have and for the initiation of which we are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Elton, who made a very thoughtful and sincere, even if not very optimistic, contribution to this particular subject. I would hasten to add, however, that the most reverend Primate has not provided me with my speech for to-day and he must not be held in any way responsible for anything I say.
It is often said nowadays, and it was said in the White Paper, that our society is a multiracial society; but I personally think that this expression is too compressed and over-simplified to be really helpful. In one sense society has been multiracial from time immemorial; but, of course, what is meant to-day is that we have in our midst large blocks of citizens who, by their physique and the colour of their skin, not to mention their language, are clearly and inevitably distinguished from the rest of the population. Their numbers are not enormous proportionately: they number about one million out of a population of some 52 million; that is, about 2 per cent. My estimate for the coloured population at the end of the century was 3 million, which I do not think is very different from 3½ million in the year 2020. The white population will presumably have risen quite considerably so the proportion may not be very different; but the difficulty arises from the fact that, as we all know, most of the coloured people are concentrated in a limited number of towns, in some of which they make up something like 8 per cent. of the population.
738 I do not think we help the coloured citizen or the white citizen by pretending that these marked diversities do not constitute a real problem. All of us are sensitive to the arrival in any preserve of our own of any block of persons, large or small who are bound together by some bond which does not include us. I confess that when I am travelling, particularly when travelling on the Continent, I find it hard not to feel slightly hostile if a large coach party happens to arrive at the hotel where I am staying. Here there is no question off-color or anything of that sort at all; it is merely the arrival of a self-contained group to which one does not belong. The incorporation of large groups of new citizens easily distinguishable from those here before does arouse psychological problems, partly irrational in character, and we all have to be on our guard in such matters. What we must strive to have is real thoughts about real persons based on real knowledge. This will help us to concentrate on the real problems and, we hope, to find real answers to them.
My Lords, this I believe is useful to remember: that our situation in Britain to-day is but a part of a much wider migratory move covering at least the whole of North and Western Europe. One of my colleagues on the Church of England Board for Social Responsibility has recently returned from an international seminar on immigrant workers, held at Athens. He was attending as chairman of the European Churches Committee on Migration. He tells me that at that conference a pattern, or model, of what is happening began to emerge. It was shown there that the first phase of migration was that of simple, unskilled citizens from very rural civilisations to heavily industrialised societies like those of Western Germany, Holland or Britain. This is really a phase of mutual aid, although it may not be undertaken on either side for that purpose. As a result of the migration, the industrial society gets much needed labour, and the rural society gets an opportunity to share to some extent the new industrial affluence. It is really our own old Industrial Revolution, happening this time over continents rather than over counties.
Then some of the emigrants return some of their financial gains, perhaps in 739 the end returning themselves to take part in some rudimentary industrial activity in their home country. This makes industrial investment possible and the stream of immigrants begins to dry up, for industrial prosperity begins to be available at home. Everybody by then has gained from the cross-fertilisation between countries and civilisations. In our own country it is obvious that important industries would be brought almost to a standstill if the coloured workers were suddenly to be missing. This is certainly true of transport, of building and of the Health Service; and consideration of this fact ought to help us to make the necessary effort in imagination and generosity without which racial tensions are certain to grow and much bitterness and frustration develop. Problems will be there, but all of them must be approached in a constructive and creative spirit. We have already had a reference this afternoon to the situation in Holland and we are looking forward to hearing more about it from the noble Lady who is to reply for the Government. But there one feature was, if I understand it aright, that the immigrants were actually invited by the receiving country. Full preparations were made for them before they arrived and the whole situation was "absorbed", to use that word, from the very beginning. If only we could have had more of that in our own country, I think we should all have been very much happier.
Voluntary liaison committees, of which we have heard already, exist in some fifty of our towns and boroughs. Full-time officers are being appointed in very many of them. I collected just a little information about what our own committee in Leicester is doing. This was easy for me to do because it so happens that one of our Leicester clergy, who has made his own church a great centre of international friendship, with immigrants particularly in mind, is chairman of the committee. He tells me that they have arranged language classes in a number of factories, with the co-operation of management and workers. They have produced a book in five languages, giving all the basic information needed by each newcomer. They arrange for all newcomers to be visited by one of their own nationals already well established in the community.
740 A conference on the young immigrant in the community is about to take place, and the liaison officer has been confronted with the same problem of qualified teachers working as bus drivers and in similar functions. The university is endeavouring to arrange refresher courses for them so that they may resume their previous occupations. I was glad to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, that the Department of Education and Science is supporting efforts of this sort, and I have no doubt that the particular scheme in mind in Leicester is one of those being so supported. The idea of these refresher courses was set out in an excellent survey, one of the best I think available in brief space, the survey by the William Temple Association, which will be published early next year in the Anglican journal known as Crucible.
The fields where there is a constant danger of discrimination are those of housing and employment. I know that the Government are fully aware of the vicious circle whereby many immigrants find themselves living in squalid, overcrowded and decaying houses. At a time when there is such an acute housing shortage no easy solution is possible, but imaginative ideas are coming forward and I am sure that they will continue to receive warm encouragement from Her Majesty's Government. In employment the principal problem is school-leavers. It is commonly felt that it is difficult for a young coloured person to get into the more-sought-after posts at school-leaving age. Banks and hairdressing salons are said not to welcome coloured recruits. The possible danger here, surely, is that we may be building up for ourselves an American situation, where there are in large areas two classes of citizens; one suitable, or thought to be suitable, for responsible work and one suitable only for what we must call the humbler vocation.
Those who are now second generation immigrants, who have had the same kind of education as their white brothers and sisters, cannot be expected easily to accept this kind of frustration. Just how desirable it is to integrate or assimilate all newcomers to one pattern is, as we have already seen, an extremely difficult question to answer. Broadly speaking, the West Indian can be assimilated in due time. The Asian would seem to need permanently his own distinctive culture 741 while being enabled to move at will in the British community. Control of immigration will, it seems, be necessary for the foreseeable future.
My Lords, if I may say one word about that, I think that we all have to learn by experience what are the problems and how they have to be dealt with. I know that when the first Commonwealth Immigration Bill was brought in, there was a great deal of criticism, including some that I remember from these Benches; but I think that now we should all have to agree that the Government at that time, being confronted with the actual problems, were in fact coming to grips with reality. That has been confirmed by the still stronger measures that have been brought in by their successors in Government. I feel that we must be absolutely firm in continuing to admit the dependants, the families of those who come under vouchers, because any further break-up of families in this condition would surely be quite against all that we stand for in this country.
We all listened with great respect and appreciation to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, but I did not feel myself that the prospect of limiting the time immigrants might stay in this country was likely to help us very much in dealing with the major problem, because it does not arise, as I see it, from personal inadequacies on the part of individuals but from an ethnic situation which creates its own problem merely by the existence of differences. I think that we shall have to continue with our controls, exercising them as humanely and wisely as possible, but hoping thereby that at every point some good can be produced in a situation which is so very new both to the receiving hosts and to the incoming guests.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, I am sure that we are all extremely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Elton, for the persistence with which he insists on bringing this important subject up and keeping it in the forefront of our considerations. I was much impressed, I think like the rest of your Lordships, by the comprehensive speech with which he introduced this debate. I have tried to collect a few thoughts on the subject and I have 742 come to conclusions very similar to those of the noble Lord. Lord Elton.
The problems of immigration are as old as mankind and their history contains examples of success and failure, but there is no record, so far as I know, of success deliberately attained by human planners. Sometimes the immigrants have been imperceptibly absorbed by their hosts over a long period of time. Sometimes the process has been reversed and a stronger immigrant culture has absorbed the aborigines. But more frequently destruction or elimination of one side or the other has been the result. Nature is supposed to abhor a vacuum. It also abhors a house divided against itself and the stranger within the gates must either coalesce with the household or go under.
The comment has been made that, if you think you can take racial handfuls of mankind and mix them in an earthen bowl to create an agreeable compound, one can only say that one admires the simple faith and the temerity of such a view and one can but sympathise with the sorrowful failure that awaits you. Over the history of mankind, nature has done this job of integration in her own wasteful but effective way. In mixing up a number of different races, with all their different spiritual standards and culture and ways of life and death, you are dealing with highly explosive material. If you mix the wrong ingredients there results a calamitous explosion; if the ingredients are potentially harmonious the new product may be a happy result.
With that preliminary sketch, as I see the many complex and interlocked problems associated with immigration, it seems to me that we cannot sensibly talk or seriously talk of integration unless the ingredient races are of parallel cultures and so able, without highly conscious effort, over a period perhaps of many generations, to fuse unnoticed into the same race. The process should surely be imperceptible and natural, without any of the conscious manipulation of a chemical laboratory.
The basis of a common humanity is, in my view, no guarantee of the possibility of integration. In other words, integration is not an unlimited possibility with human beings. I wanted to make this qualification clear before trying to analyse the present problem facing this country. 743 We should not be misled into an under-valuation of the difficulties, misled perhaps by the successful equipment of, say, Polish refugees as fellow citizens. This was really a continuation of an old historical trend, political, economic and religious. There were waves of European immigrants in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. They were of kindred Western race. Our main concern to-day is with very different ethnic groups and with novel conditions.
One has to remember that it is only within the last sixty years that foreign immigration has been subject to control, and that up to 1962 all Commonwealth citizens were free to come. For a variety of reasons, they did not come in any but negligible numbers. The serious influx began about 1952, for post-war and other reasons that I have no time to enlarge upon. But when the influx began to number many thousands annually seeking a better life in a territorially small and already heavily populated country it became obvious that a policy of control must, in the interests of all parties, be adopted. The previous habit of laissez-faire, of letting a thing happen unchecked because its proportions were too small to be a problem, is not a policy at all; it is the absence of a policy. There is no justifiable reason to deny to this country now a right of control which, after all, is held and exercised by every other member of the Commonwealth.
The Government White Paper Command 2739, of August 1965, speaks of Commonwealth immigrants beingabsorbed into our community without friction and with mutual understanding and tolerance.For those who pass the necessary controls, justice and humanity no doubt demand this treatment, but the possibility of their exercise must depend upon the flow of immigration being strictly regulated to make any hope of the process of integration being within our capacity for absorption. It is not only the good sense of the British people that must prevail, but also the good sense of the Government and, incidentally, there is a third factor—the good sense and aspiration of the immigrant himself. Does he really wish to be integrated—in other words, to lose his separate national identity, his customs, his habits, his way of life and the spiritual 744 traditions of his race? In the case of Asiatic immigrants, I would say that the answer is, No; in the case of West Indian immigrants, Yes; and in the case of Africans generally, No.
I may say, in passing, that for the Jamaican, with his 300 years of contact with the British, English is his mother tongue. He knows fully about the British way of life and regards himself as British by adoption, though now politically independent. In the case of Africa, I have said that I think the answer is, No. The Voice of Africa to-day in Africa says with increasing emphasis that they have no desire to be blue-print Westerners. They wish, quite understandably, to remain African in thought, spirit and aspiration.
It is loosely stated in many places that England is already a multiracial country, and so the gates should be held open to all races without distinction. In my view, it is quite incorrect to say that this is already a multiracial country, except in the sense of being a country which has assimilated many immigrants of kindred Western culture. It has not assimilated the Asiatic; it has not assimilated the African, or even the West Indian. We have here sizable communities of each whose members have not been assimilated. Even of those who are here now, the question has yet to be answered whether the immigrant group really intend to make a permanent home here, and whether they are willing to adapt their values, political aims and cultural patterns to those of the receiving community. For instance, there is a growing demand, as has already been mentioned in this debate, for the teaching of their native language in State schools to their children.
Another important factor is the attitude of the receiving community, which is affected in the degree of cultural affinity and the acceptance of its standards. A major difficulty in adjustment and assimilation is the group consciousness which the distinction of colour accentuates. We do not live, and are not likely to live, in a colour-blind world. The factors considered for the entry of immigrants (it is not necessary for me to go into them fully) are the general employment situation; housing and health hazards; pressure on the 745 educational system; the social tension in the U.K. population arising from racial friction, and the reaction of Commonwealth Governments to control. Apart from social problems, the vital question is whether or not the British economy really needs an immigrant labour force. There are certain categories of work where vacancies are being increasingly left to immigrants. A major problem is to reconcile the need for labour with social and housing programmes aggravated by racial incompatibility.
Racial prejudice, which has its roots in psychological and sociological relationships, is a very different thing, as we know, from racial discrimination, which implies a deliberate act that treats a coloured person differently from a white person for no other reason than that of his colour. Treating people differently does not necessarily mean racial discrimination on colour grounds. The grounds are innate needs. Discrimination, like truth, has many aspects. Racial prejudice, being irrational, is impervious to logical argument; and it occurs not only among white people, but with black or brown, as well. We have to learn to live with it. It cannot be abolished by law. But racial discrimination—that is, action to the detriment of another person simply because of his race or colour—calls for restrictive action; and this is being dealt with in this country by legislation and by voluntary committees working to help immigrants to help themselves and so on.
To take the West Indians, their destination is mostly urban. And another side to the question is that in their case immigration is taking away from the home country skills and younger men badly needed at home. Then there is the tendency here for them to form separate self-contained communities. Naturally, they prefer West Indian companionship; they have a common culture, folk-lore, music, the same tastes in food and clothing. All these difficulties add up, on top of the psychological objections which I have mentioned: the health hazards which have to be dealt with at both ends of immigration, or should be so dealt with; the linguistic limitations; the housing troubles, and the difficulty over the multiple occupation of houses in unsatisfactory conditions in this country; the educational problems—the crowding of the schools, and the 746 deterioration in the quality of education offered because of the stress on the teachers who are in such short numbers and so on. There is no need for me to go into all this in great detail.
One might mention another difficulty, and that is that poor housing conditions lead to pressure on the maternity services; and the care of the children of immigrant mothers itself presents many problems. I am aware that much is being done by various committees and by the local authorities. There is no need for me to go further into that aspect, because it has already been mentioned.
But what does it all amount to in the final goal of what is called integration? The suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, that we should use the word "adaptation" instead of "integration" is, I feel, merely an evasion: it does not alter the problem in the slightest degree. I do not mind whether the word used is adapting or integrating; it is still the same problem. With the example of the U.S.A. before us, one does not feel very optimistic. In any case, it seems that it must be a very long job, stretching over generations. The only lesson I can find is that the influx of Asiatic and African immigrants, particularly, should be severely controlled lest the problem gets entirely out of hand. Surely we do not want permanent enclaves of unassimilable citizens scattered over this country, even if they are doing valuable work, possessing, I suppose, if they are permanent residents, the vote and the privileges, but none of the qualifications, of loyal citizens living in their homeland.
In passing and in concluding, I should like to pay a tribute to the help which is being given to our medical services by doctors and nurses from abroad, as well as the assistance given at a different level to the transport services of this country. If the problem were confined to small numbers of skilled workmen and professionally qualified persons it would be more manageable, although a question mark about integration would still be present. I think it is true that public feeling in this country is antagonistic to the idea of the United Kingdom being a multiracial country, and the question arises: should the Government represent what I believe to be public opinion, public feeling, or what it may consider to be the public interest?
747 I cannot, in concluding, leave that question quite unanswered. In a country professing the cult of democracy, it is surely dangerous for those holding the reins of power to identify their rejection of public opinion with this political chameleon called the public interest. I am not saying that they have done so; I am not criticising this Government any more than a previous Government. I am merely offering a plea that in this instance they should study history and analyse the human impulses which create that public opinion here to-day, before they reject it.
As an Englishman, proud of our history and our traditions, I believe that our Government should give first priority to the welfare of the people of this country. One does not strengthen the Commonwealth by weakening oneself, and one does not set an example of good government by shirking any problem in which one's friends are involved. The world is studded with examples of the tendency to use the forms of Western democracy in order to stultify its aims. We have not been too successful in a widespread effort to propogate our principles of liberty, equality of opportunity, justice and human rights. So I urge that, while accepting a limited number of suitable immigrants, we should be careful lest by losing control in the process we end by undermining the foundations of our own race.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I have listened with a great deal of interest, but not with a great deal of agreement, to the speech which has just been delivered by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton. If I may ask him to wait until a little later in my speech before I make direct comment upon what he has said, I should appreciate it, because I want to take it in the logical sequence of what I have to say, rather than in an immediate reply.
This debate was opened by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, in a thoughtful speech, putting very much the same case as the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, has put. There were some features of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Elton, with which I agreed. He described this issue of race relations as one of the gravest before our country—I am not sure that he did not say "the gravest". I 748 would certainly say that it is one of the gravest issues before the world to-day. There are three great issues which will determine the future of the world: the first is war and nuclear weapons; the second is world hunger; and the third is race relations. None of us who is looking about the world to-day and seeing the intensification of racial antagonisms can be complacent about how the future of peoples will develop. I would, however, say this to the noble Lord, Lord Elton. I believe this country can pass through the crisis of race relations, not without difficulties, not without certain antagonisms, but finally, successfully and, indeed, giving a lead to the world in what race relations should be.
If I understood rightly, the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, argued that we still have to live in this world in separate, segregated racial communities rather than as a human community, rather than developing towards a multiracial society. I would say this to the noble Lord. In our world now, which is all the time growing smaller; where people of every race and colour are continually and increasingly mixing; when our thought is becoming akin by the fact that news flashes over the world in a moment, and where ideas are common to all mankind; when we have thousands of students from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean going to our universities in Britain, America and Europe, and finding almost without exception in these Western centres acceptance as human beings on a basis of equality; when we have the world mingling in that way, it is unhistoric to suggest that we should seek to deal with these problems by keeping ourselves segregated in separate categories.
I was interested (though I did not feel he carried out his thought very far) when the noble Lord suggested that there was some difference between West Indians, Africans and Asians in relation to integration, adjustment or adaption to this country. If I understood him properly, he argued that it was easiest for West Indians because for 300 years they had been associated with us in the English language, and more difficult for Africans and for Asians. I would say this to the noble Lord. The West Indians in this country, with their knowledge of English, very often with their acceptance of the Christian religion, with their love and 749 glorious genius at cricket (of which I am a fan), as well as in many other directions, have nevertheless maintained a characteristic way of life which is just as distinct from our own as that of the Africans and the Asians. That distinct way of life is geniality, song and dance, going on into the late hours of the night, and in that way causing some disquiet among their neighbours. That is a quality and a characteristic.
I do not regret that contribution which West Indians are making to our life, which has been too grave, too sober. I find this fact illustrated in my son, a student—that the younger generation in England to-day is finding a greater sense of identity with the West Indian way of life, of gaiety and joy and happiness and geniality, of song and of dancing; he is finding more identity with that than the more sober manners and ways of those of us who belong to the older generation. Despite its three hundred years of association with Britain, despite its common religion, despite the English language which we share—despite all those things, the West Indian community is contributing something distinctive to our life.
If it were not for the fact that I do not want to make a long speech I could tell the House how Africans and, particularly, how Asians (because I am an Asian myself, born in Asia) have contributed to the value, the depth and the beauty of our life. Only when we begin to understand that all peoples and all races have a contribution to make shall we begin to think in terms of the whole human family and not in the separate terms of a particular race or a particular colour.
I find myself discussing political philosophy rather than more practical events. Perhaps I can postpone to a later occasion the practical application, because before this House rises for the Christmas Recess I shall be introducing a Bill in this House to amend the Race Relations Act. It will deal particularly with housing and with unemployment. I welcome the statement from the Government that if they have further evidence that legislation is necessary regarding discrimination in employment and in housing they will consider introducing that legislation. I hope the Bill that I introduce in this House (and the same Bill will be introduced simultaneously in the other place) will give the Government 750 an example of the kind of legislation which they should introduce. But I would say sincerely and honestly to the Government that in relation to unemployment and housing there is no need for further evidence. The evidence now is overwhelming.
I will give only one instance which appears in a report published to-day in connection with housing. Conrad Noel (and it just occurs to me that it is quite an historic name), who is a lecturer at Bedford College, has to-day issued a report of his survey into student accommodation in London. He has sent his questionnaires to educational institutions and to the housing managers of all London boroughs, and he reports that in one instance 70 per cent. of the landlords would not take Asian or African students. Twenty-one per cent. accepted English students only. On the other hand, in all honesty I must report that one landlord insisted on no Northerners and another landlord insisted on Welsh only. Those are the figures of one leading lodging officer.
I recognise that legislation is no solution to this problem. I recognise that it is a matter of education, it is a matter of experience, it is a matter of obtaining a new philosophy which will understand that in the human being it is the spirit and personality which is of importance, not the pigment of his skin or external characteristics. It is only when we begin to feel that deeply that we shall at long last be able to conquer the prejudices which now cause these divisions.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Elton, for having introduced this debate. Some of us have come to very different conclusions from him, but it is by this kind of discussion that we shall at last reach that synthesis between what is necessary in legislation and what is necessary in education and example; and, my Lords, I hope this debate has contributed to that purpose.
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, this is the third debate on this subject in which I have taken part. There was a debate on December 1, 1964, and another one on March 10, 1965. In the first of these debates I was followed by the noble Lord, Lord Elton; in the second I immediately followed him, and I would 751 now join with others in thanking him for having raised this subject again to-day. Because I have already made my views clear on those earlier occasions I shall not repeat them now.
It so happens that, of all noble Lords who sit in the House, the noble Lord, Lord Elton, is my oldest friend, because I first met him 60 years ago when we were at school together. It also happens that I agree with him, I think completely, on this subject. I thought the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, for whose careful and informative speech, as always, I am sure the whole House was grateful, misunderstood him completely; indeed the noble Lord, Lord Elton, had to intervene. If I may state the point as I see it, and as I believe the noble Lord, Lord Elton, meant it, he was not suggesting for one moment that we should treat with less than humanity, or less than equality, all those whom we have admitted here, whatever their race or colour; nor was he suggesting that we should refuse entry to their dependants. What he was saying, and what we all ought to bear in mind, is that the number of those dependants may be so much greater than those we initially admit that the total number of these immigrants may constitute such serious problems as to have very serious results indeed; and this fact should be borne in mind in framing our policy.
In the course of the debate it has been said that what the noble Lord, Lord Elton, said was pessimistic. But, my Lords, there is no great merit in either pessimism or optimism. The really important question is; was what he said true? If the truth leads one to a pessimistic conclusion it is much better to face that pessimistic conclusion than to dismiss it merely on the ground that it is rather gloomy.
I agree, as I have explained on the previous occasions—and so, I think, does every noble Lord in every part of the House—that of course we must treat with complete equality those citizens whom we admit here. There is no section in this House that does not reject the idea of second-class citizens. But do not let us shirk the fact that a great immigrant community can cause very great and difficult problems to which we have not yet discovered, nor has any other country yet discovered, the solu- 752 tion. It creates problems of housing, of schooling, of public order, of health and many other problems that I could mention. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, told us, and I am sure the noble Baroness who is to wind up the debate, will tell us, of the great and sincere efforts that Her Majesty's Government and previous Governments have made, and will make, to deal with these problems. But I hope that neither will suggest that we have solved them.
My conviction on this matter is that many of these problems, which are already difficult, we may render insoluble, unless we diminish the number of immigrants entering this country. Part of the reason for this is geographic. We live in a very small Island. It is not the most overcrowded portion of the world, but it is one of the most thickly populated already. Do not let us overlook the difficulty that that and other facts make. There is nothing improper, in deciding this question of immigration, in considering what is going to make for the happiness of the inhabitants of this Island—and I include here both the immigrants and the natives. I fear, as does the noble Lord, Lord Elton, and my noble friend Lord Milverton, that unless we are very careful we shall be taking steps that make the inhabitants of this Island less happy than they would otherwise have been.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, if I may interrupt the noble Lord for a moment, I should be extremely grateful. I am following his argument with great interest and a good deal of agreement. He has said that for the benefit of all inhabitants we must reduce immigration. In fact, I did give figures of the very drastic reduction that has been made. Is he saying that there should be much further reduction; and if so, how much?
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, that is a perfectly fair question, as always. Quite frankly, I have not given sufficient study to the figures, including the figures the noble Lord was good enough to give this afternoon, to make any confident and immediate answer. But my impression, frankly, is that we must make a further reduction because of the great numbers we have already admitted and the problems, some of which I have indicated, that those numbers are already causing. Nevertheless, I do not want to pretend 753 that that is a complete reply. The question is a perfectly fair question, but at the moment I have not made sufficient study to give it the complete answer it deserves.
§ LORD STONHAM
I am grateful to the noble Lord. He will appreciate and accept that if we did not take any more voucher holders there would still be a substantial number of immigrants with the right to come in, because their husbands or fathers are resident here. We cannot stop the flow.
§ LORD CONESFORD
That was my point, and that was the point of the noble Lord, Lord Elton. It is because of that automatic further inflow, of which we approve on humanitarian grounds (we have no difference with the Government there; I am obliged to the noble Lord for intervening so that I could make that clear), that we ought to be very slow to permit immigration not involved in what I call the automatic inflow of dependants.
I notice that the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, is not at the moment present. By a curious coincidence I suppose I have known him longer than I have known most noble Lords, with the exception of my noble friend Lord Elton, because it happens that 31 years ago we were political opponents at the Election at which I first won a seat in the House of Commons. I think that our personal relations throughout that Election and subsequently have always been very pleasant; and, whatever he says, I doubt whether he really thinks that I am a very brutal racialist, although often his interventions at Question Time, when I make what I think to be an important legal point, would seem to indicate that that is his view.
I do not believe that people who take different views about this perfectly practical problem of what we ought to do about immigration really differ widely in morals or in public spirit. What we differ about is what will be the effect of this immigration. I think that some of the effect will be very bad, unless the immigration is curbed. The numbers of alien immigrants in proportion to our whole population in the foreseeable future, especially in certain areas, already ensure, I think, that the inhabitants of this country, including the immigrants, will be less happy than the inhabitants 754 of this country would be if we adopted a saner policy.
That brings me to this question of multiracialism. Here I would agree, I think, with some words that fell from the right reverend Prelate. People talk about multiracialism as though it were an enormously good thing in itself, and as though every country ought to be multi-racialist. Let me say at once that of course the world is, and ought to be, multi-racialist; and of course the British Commonwealth is multiracialist. But that does not mean that every single part must itself be multiracialist. Much greater happiness may result from having a number of homogeneous communities, the vast majority of whom are of similar race.
And do not let us pretend that colour does not constitute a very great problem. People have mentioned the United States. Quite frankly, when we are dealing with morals I can find few things that strike me as more obviously wrong and unprincipled than deliberately to introduce racial problems into a country which is, fortunately, more or less free from them. I mean that seriously. I do not doubt in the least the humanity of those who take a different view of immigration, but I hope they will see, as many of us believe, that to ignore facts, if they are facts, such as were given by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, is not only not virtuous; it is actually, in my view, morally wrong.
In this matter, it seems to me, our people are much wiser than our politicans of all Parties. I do not believe that the man in the street is naturally unreasonably prejudiced or lacking in toleration, although, of course, some are. But some of our people who have long wanted a stricter control of immigration think that they know much more about it than the politicians who discuss it, and they feel that the politicans are cowardly and are frightened of discussing the facts. I have a good deal of sympathy with their view. I have tried to do my best to express my views sincerely. I have not done nearly as much good work in the matter as my noble friend Lord Elton, but we have been consistently on the same side.
May I refer to one other thing that greatly astonishes me? It is sometimes suggested that to advocate unlimited 755 immigration, irrespective of colour and race and so on, into this small Island is a sign of liberalism. If I may give an example, when the present Government—I suppose it was in the last Parliament—produced their White Paper on Immigration it was at once vigorously denounced as a horrible, illiberal document by the Guardian, and generally by the papers of the Left. I thought they talked a great deal of nonsense. I have had many differences of opinion with the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, but I have never thought him lacking in humanity, and I have never thought him lacking in liberalism, and it was his White Paper.
But why should the people who advocate this unlimited immigration annex the honourable name of liberalism? There is nothing liberal about a policy if it is foolish, and if it leads to fantastically undesirable results. I do not suppose there could be a better Liberal in this country than my old friend Don Salvador de Madariaga. I ventured to quote him in an earlier debate. Perhaps, as it was so long ago, I might again quote an extract from his letter that appeared in The Times when this matter was under discussion:New transplantations had better be avoided, for surely we prefer the varied landscape of our day to the dull grey of a monochrome humanity uniformly spread over the planet. Therefore, there is nothing illiberal in either any European country taking measures to keep itself white or any African country taking measures to keep itself black. Indeed, the right of any nation, provided it is free and knows what it is doing, to regulate its demographic composition should be considered as sacred by any liberal-minded man.Whether you agree with that or not, it is a tenable view.
I do not doubt for one moment the humanity of the Government, or their serious efforts to avoid certain evils which they themselves recognise. But I beg them, and everybody else, to consider this problem, and to start not with a prejudiced intellectual view that it must be right to admit everybody indiscriminately, but to consider what is likely to be the effect of their actions. If they consider—and it is not improper to consider—the probable effect of their political action, I think they will find that the instincts of the man in the street and the arguments produced by my noble friend Lord Elton on this and other occasions possess the larger truth.
§ 6.47 p.m.
§ LORD GIFFORD
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, has made some quite serious charges about the wisdom of the views of people who, like myself, attack the Government White Paper, and who take a radically opposite view to himself and the noble Lord, Lord Elton. He implied that we were wrong to take up the view that we did—not only wrong, but morally wrong. My answer is this: that if their only answer and their only suggestion when confronted with a most serious social problem of which I shall speak—the problem of a million coloured people in this country who are suffering considerable hardships and humiliation because they are coloured and immigrants—is to talk about statistics, to imply that no more of them should come in, to imply that they are in some way undesirable, to talk about registering their dependants, imposing conditions on them, and to imply that it would be better if they had never come—
§ LORD GIFFORD
My Lords, it is my view, and that of many people who study this problem, that whatever the personal motives of the noble Lords, the implication and the effect of their speeches if they are allowed to gain credence in the country is that coloured people are not wanted here. I say that the opening speech of the noble Lord was one of the most unconstructive approaches to a serious problem that I have ever heard. He ignored completely the situation in which these million or so citizens find themselves, the citizens who are here and who will remain here whether he likes it or not. He ignored their problems. But I should have thought—
§ LORD ELTON
My Lords, might I for one moment defend myself? Probably before the noble Lord was a Member of this House I spoke on this subject many times, and I dealt with this aspect some ten years ago. On this occasion I was trying to open up new ground and to concentrate on much more distant problems than the immediate problems of social distress which I knew that many other noble Lords would deal with.
§ LORD GIFFORD
My Lords, I accept what the noble Lord says. But I was 757 —and here I move on—most distressed by his implication that in his view these problems were more or less insoluble; that as the noble Lord looked fifty years into the future and found 3½ million coloured citizens in this country he saw some kind of disaster, he saw tragedy and he felt that these citizens would never be absorbed. May I remind the noble Lord that other people have thought this in the past? Perhaps I may have your Lordships' permission to quote from a speech which was given some time ago in another place.Not a day passes but English families are ruthlessly turned out to make room for the foreign invaders. Many of these have been occupying their houses for years. It makes no difference. Out they go to make room forforeigners. The speaker went on to say:Rents are raised 50 to 100 per cent. and a house which formerly contained a couple of families living in comparative decency, is made to hold four or five families living under conditions which baffle description."—[OFFICIAL REPORT (Commons), Vol. 101, col. 1273; 29/1/02.]The speaker then talked about the effect on the English native community [col. 1281]:…they see notices that no English need apply placarded on vacant rooms; they see the schools crowded with foreign children, and the very posters and advertisements on the walls in a foreign tongue; they see lines of employment, formerly open to them, closed; they see small shopkeepers brought to ruin; they see themselves deprived of their Sunday, for that, too, is gone.
§ LORD GIFFORD
I intend to do so. The speaker went on to say:… a storm is brewing which, if it be allowed to burst, will have deplorable results.I am coming to the noble Lord's point. I think those sentiments are similar in the apprehensions which are raised to the sentiments of the noble Lord, Lord Elton.
§ LORD GIFFORD
The apprehensions, the talk of multi-occupied houses, and the talk of foreign immigrants coming in and affecting the lives of the native community, and many other references in that speech—I could go on quoting other examples—convey the apprehensions of 758 the speaker to a large immigration problem. That speech was made on January 29, 1902, and I have quoted from the Hansard of the day.
§ LORD GIFFORD
The foreigners referred to were Russians, Roumanians and Poles. Sixty-four years later, can we see any serious Russian problem, Polish problem, Roumanian problem? Can we deny that many of those poor immigrants who came in at the beginning of the century are now respected and worthy citizens of this country? Can we say that there are any ghettoes? Can we say that there are any great tensions between what the noble Lord now calls the native population and those newcomers?
I hope that it may be of encouragement to noble Lords who make jeremiad speeches about what is to come and that they will take heart from the thought that this has happened before; that people before have had apprehensions of the kind the noble Lord is having, and that because of the common humanity which unites us all, and which is far more unifying than any diversity of colour, culture or creed, there is no bar whatsoever to people of different cultures and colours living together in this country in harmony.
I turn from the noble Lord's speech to consider what should be the principles on which we should base our policies concerning immigration. I think that the one overriding principle is that of fairness and justice between man and man. We want first of all to move towards fairness in the criteria on which we admit immigrants to this country. The second principle is fairness in the administration of those controls which we choose to impose. And the third is fairness in the treatment of immigrants once they have arrived in this country.
On the first question, the criteria of entry, many arguments have been raised about immigration control. There have been many different bases on which it is suggested those controls should operate. I am not expressing any views this evening. Whether when you have no job, 759 no house to live in, when there is unemployment in the country, or you feel that your country is getting overcrowded, you may impose a very strict control, that is one view and there are many views; but whatever your criterion, it should be as easy for a West Indian or an Indian to gain admittance into this country as it is for an Italian or a Turk or a South African. The reason, among others, that I was so very much against the Government's White Paper of last August was that it appeared to impose a different criterion, a numerical ceiling on one class of immigrants, Commonwealth immigrants, the bulk of whom are coloured, while retaining the old criteria of working permits for aliens.
Lest any of your Lordships should think that this is not relevant to the problems of the immigrant here, there is one example that I should like to quote to you. It concerns a Pakistani sweetshop-owner in Bradford who had started up a small business of selling Pakistani sweetmeats to the local community. I have been to his shop, which is a splendid business and a very popular one, and one of the few focal points of the local community, yet he was desperately short of labour. He had one man working flat out, and that man was due to leave. He applied for a voucher in August, 1965. By October, 1966, after some intervention on my behalf, he managed to obtain it. He did not understand why, in such an obvious case, where a business would otherwise have to close down, somebody could not come from Pakistan to replace this man for the making of sweetmeats is a very skilled matter. I found it impossible to have an answer to the silent reproach in his face that it was more difficult for him to get a voucher for his prospective staff than it would have been for an Italian restaurateur. I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, will be able to tell us that that ceiling is being reviewed, and that, whatever overall control is placed by the Government on newcomers to this country, it will be a control which does not differentiate between different prospective applicants.
The next thing is that we should be fair in the administration of our controls, particularly at the point of entry. I personally have been involved in cases of 760 sons and wives waiting at the airport being questioned and then sent back. I know of the concern of the Home Secretary in these cases. I heard him speak of it on October 10 in the Goldsmiths' Hall. I know of the steps being taken to improve the welfare services at London Airport, and I am very glad that they are being undertaken. I know, too, that the Wilson Committee is sitting. To-day I only express the hope that the Wilson Committee will have some suggestions to make about appeals against refusal of entry, and that the Government will listent to them sympathetically.
The third and most important aspect of our policy of fairness is in ensuring equal terms, equal opportunity to the citizens of this country, immigrant and native, whether they came in 1066 or 1966—to secure equal opportunity for them all. It is a pillar of the policy of the Labour Party that such equal opportunity is allowed to everyone. One can see it in our policy on comprehensive education, where we are trying to unleash all the talents which might otherwise, by the processes which exist at the moment, not be discovered, and to give opportunity for the fullest possible life to all children.
Exactly the same kind of considerations applies when we consider the position of coloured people in this country. We need them employed to the fullest extent of their talents and we need, as a human matter, to ensure that they are not humiliated by being turned away from jobs because of their colour. There is a certain cynical view, that people who come to this country can take it as they find it and if they do not get the jobs to which they are entitled, they can go away if they choose. I say that it is a cynical view, but even on that view these considerations do not apply to the new generation of coloured Englishmen who are going to our schools at the moment. I believe that it is up to us all, both by private initiative and by legislation, to ensure that they find the jobs to which their talents, their degrees, entitle them.
Most important of all is jobs. If a man does not get the job to which he is entitled, he gets a menial job; if he gets less pay he lives in a poorer house; if he lives in a poor area, he has a lower status in the community. That is how the ghettoes arise; by people being reduced 761 to a certain class and being reduced to menial employment only. This is why I hope that noble Lords of all Parties in this House will welcome the Bill which my noble friend Lord Brockway will introduce.
Some of your Lordships may say that it is impossible to legislate against prejudice, and this is true. Prejudice will go on whether we legislate or not. The evidence is that a great amount of the discrimination which is practised in this country—and there is a horrifying amount of it—is being practised because of apprehension on the part of employers; apprehension that the other men on the floor will not like it. In the case of a landlord, there is apprehension that the other tenants will not like it. If a law was put on the Statute Book outlawing discrimination in employment, housing and credit facilities, it would give an excuse to those apprehensive employers and landlords to cease their discrimination and by ceasing their discrimination to be obeying the law; and I trust both in the basic humanity of the English people and in their desire to be law abiding. I am certain that legislation of this kind will be effective.
Finally, it is essential that the Government support such legislation for these reasons. Not only are we securing justice and equal opportunity to those citizens who otherwise might not have it; not only are we making sure that the resources in brain of this country are being fully used; but we shall be acting with foresight and tackling the problem—because it is mainly the problem of the second-generation immigrant—as it is beginning to emerge.
Many noble Lords have said this afternoon that if only back in 1954 we had done more to welcome the immigrants, if only we had foreseen some of the problems—I am thinking particularly of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Wade—many of these problems would no longer be with us, and I agree. In not doing anything we have failed the first-generation immigrants, as we have failed them in the past. For the second generation, by acting in advance, by outlawing discrimination, by securing for them the opportunities to which they are entitled, we shall be preventing the problems of second-class status and of ghettoes ever arising. This is why I look with hope to 762 the future, hope that by taking a strong lead in these matters we can avoid—as I am sure we can avoid—the day of doom and the tragedy which the noble Lord, Lord Elton, prophesied.
§ LORD SOMERS
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I should just like to ask him whether he considers that the principle which he has been defending so strongly is universally applicable. If he does, and it sounds to me that he does, he must think it very wrong of Mr. Kenyatta to have denied to Englishmen the right to live in Kenya.
§ LORD GIFFORD
My Lords, I do not think we are talking about immigration problems in Kenya; we are talking about them in this country. The rights and wrongs of what is done in Kenya are neither here nor there.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, I too should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Elton, for introducing this Motion, and in particular for some of the words he used at the beginning, when he said that on this difficult subject of immigration it is most important that people should say what they think and not be put off by being called nasty names. That is more or less what he said. Of course, he is quite right and he has given us the opportunity of saying what we want.
I am not going to be long, because I am not going to deal with the ethical side about which a great deal has been said; perhaps enough has been said. I want to deal with one or two practical points. I had been going to say that I hoped that this problem of immigration generally was slowly becoming a non-Party question, a question which we could discuss together. It is very noticeable from this debate that although one or two noble Lords opposite have not moved any closer to us, we on this side of the House and Her Majesty's Government have moved very close indeed on this problem. Though we still have our differences, they will doubtless be ironed out over the years.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, if the noble Lord would amend what he said to, "We on the Front Bench of the Opposition", I would entirely agree with him.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, I think the noble Lord is wrong even there, because where my noble friends on this side have disagreed with the Government has been largely on points of practical application of the existing policy. So I think I was right in saying what I did.
As regards the maiden speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Ailesbury, he made a plea, very rightly, that so far as possible this subject should be taken out of Party politics. I think that is what he said, and I agree with him. In so far as one can, I think one must be careful what one says. If one wants to get agreement in the long run, one must be careful what one says; but I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Elton, that one must not be too careful or one will be misunderstood—and that applies to noble Lords opposite, too.
While on this point, let me make this quite clear. The noble Lord, Lord Elton, made this clear, and most noble Lords have made it clear except the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. Whether he muddles himself when he speaks on this subject or whether he muddles the House unconsciously, I do not know; but let me make it clear that when we are talking of families, of dependants, we divide them into two classes. First, there are the dependants of those people who are already here; and we all agree that immigrants who have been allowed in up to now are entitled to have their dependants here with them. The noble Lord, Lord Elton, said nothing different. Those of us who have had dealings with the police throughout the country know perfectly well that, unless they have their wives with them, large groups of immigrants are apt to get into trouble, whereas if they have their wives with them they are less likely to get into any sort of trouble. There is no argument about that. The other group of dependants that we are talking about is composed of the dependants of immigrants which have not yet arrived, or who are being given permission to come here. I hope that is absolutely clear, and I hope I have the agreement of the noble Lord, Lord Elton, that that is what he was talking about
I am not raking up past Party political differences, but may I for one moment go back a little into history in order to develop what I want to say?
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, before the noble Lord develops his argument, I am all agog to hear where I muddled the House or myself. He has not yet made that clear. Because nothing he has yet said is any different from what I said.
§ LORD DERWENT
Nothing is different from what the noble Lord said he felt himself, but he did accuse the noble Lord, Lord Elton, of saying something different. He has said it before in previous debates, and up to now he has not realised that we are both talking about the same groups of dependants. I hope he is clear that we agree with him about the dependants of existing immigrants. I hope he has got that clearly in his head.
If I may, I will now go back a little into past history, because I want to explain why we want to make an alteration in the existing legislation. It may help noble Lords opposite to accept what I am going to say if I say that I think we, the Conservative Government of that day, were at fault at first for not having tackled this problem earlier. We did not get any encouragement from noble Lords opposite, but I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wade, that things would have been easier if we had started to tackle this problem at an earlier stage. But we did not. We tackled it, though, at a fairly early stage, and opposition to it—and this is the reason why I want to bring this up—fell mainly under two headings. First of all, it was felt—and I think this was a perfectly good argument at the time or at any rate a little earlier—that Commonwealth citizens should so far as possible be treated the same as United Kingdom citizens. That was one of the reasons why the Bill was opposed. That was a perfectly arguable point of view at a time when these countries were dependent, and were in fact governed from here, whether indirectly or directly. But times have changed. Nearly all these countries are now independent, and there seems no particular reason why, if it presents exceptional difficulties to our own people, we should be the only independent, self-governing country in the Commonwealth not to have fairly tight immigration controls. That is the position to-day, and I really do not think that anything else is arguable now.
The second reason why it was opposed was that people such as the noble Lord, 765 Lord Brockway, to whom we listened with great interest to-day—today he was speaking on the ethical side, of course—genuinely believed that this was a racial or colour question; and many of them believed, as I think the noble Lord himself did, that we wanted to control this because of colour or race. My Lords, if this million or more people had all been Siberian Russians, the same problems would have arisen. The position would not then have been aggravated by colour, but doubtless the problem of where they were to live would have been just as difficult. Colour aggravates the problem, but the basic problem is not colour. I truthfully think that those who try to turn this question largely into one of colour do no service at all. It is the problem of their way of life, but only to that extent is it a racial question. Those are the two principal grounds on which there was opposition.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I must apologise for interrupting the noble Lord again, but I do not want him to muddle me this time. He said that we agree that immigrants living here are fully entitled to have their dependants either with them now or with them later. We are all agreed about that. What about voucher-holders whom we admit in the future and their dependants, whether they accompany them or follow them? Can we agree on that, too?
§ LORD DERWENT
I am going to come to that, but the noble Lord must give me a chance. He spoke at great length himself, and he must give me ten minutes or so to develop my argument. What we are asking, and what the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, has asked for to-day, is that we should—and I use these words advisedly—stop at the moment and have another look at this question; because the problem has been with us for some years, it is going to be with us for some years in the future, and we have not yet got the right answer, and the more immigrants we allow in now (I am coming later to the point of control) the more difficult it is going to be to get this question right.
I come to the question of dependants. The present Government, in my view entirely rightly, have under the existing law very substantially tightened up the control on the number of immigrants 766 coming in. I quite agree with that. I myself do not think they have tightened up enough, not because of the number of immigrants themselves—and this is the point the noble Lord, Lord Elton, was making—but because once we have let them in their dependants come here also. The figures we are getting of the numbers coming in now bear no relation to the position in a year or two's time. We are asking that the total numbers should be more strictly controlled, even if only for a short time.
At present there is no proper control, because whatever the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, may have said to-day, we know how many immigrants, as opposed to their dependants, are admitted, and we know how many go out of the country; but once a man is in the country there is no check on what happens to him. This is important, because as the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, says, immigrants are now coming in with a time limit. If a man comes in and stays after his time limit he continues to be treated as an ordinary citizen, because there is no relevant card index. That is the point: there is no card index; he is just another immigrant. Another year and he may ask for his family to join him. He is a resident here. Because there is no card index, there appears to be no reason why he should not stay here and bring his family over. What we are asking is that, at any rate for the moment, the same rules should apply to Commonwealth citizens as apply to aliens. The rules will have to be altered slightly, I agree, but basically the legislation should be permanent, and the same rules should apply for aliens and Commonwealth citizens. This would mean—and let us be quite clear just what it would mean—that in the ordinary way they would be admitted for a limited time.
Because of the limitation of time, their families are not allowed in until they also are given a permit. Extension can then be given, in practice after four years. The extension is virtually permanent, as it would be for the family; but it would give the Government a proper figure as to how many immigrants and dependants were coming in and how many were staying, legally or illegally. I think this may be the answer to the problem. It is something that ought to be looked at by the Government. It will mean that these 767 people would have to report to the police in the same way as an alien does; but it is no great hardship. I have had it happen to me when I have been merely a visitor in another country. One hears talk about reporting to the police being terribly derogatory; but once every six months is not great hardship. I believe this sort of thing is necessary. Obviously, we do not expect the answer to-night that Her Majesty's Government are going to do something like this. Equally we do not want a statement that they refuse to consider this question. But we are convinced that as regards new entrants unless a card index is kept any statistics given to the Government or to anyone else are wildly wrong.
We know there is evasion. We believe that a lot of the evasion is by people who should not be here, who may not be very great in numbers themselves but who, since they virtually disappeared into other jobs, have brought in their dependants; so that one man who evaded may eventually be "ten-strong". This is what we are asking the Government to look at. At the moment the control is wrong. This problem is going to live with us. Owing to Government action it is getting worse more slowly; but it is getting worse and more people and their families are coming in and evading. We must see that our control is right. That I think is all that my noble friend, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, and I are asking. At the moment control is not effective, and will not be so unless it is basically on the same lines as alien control.
I know it is not easy; but will the Government please consider making both the Aliens Act and the Commonwealth Immigrants Act (if they are to bring it in line with the Aliens Act) permanent legislation? To have annual legislation by renewal of the same Bill for fifty years does not make sense. Now is the opportunity, if we can work it in with the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, to have permanent legislation for aliens, too. I am glad to think that the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, and I agree about having the same rules for aliens as for Commonwealth citizens.
§ LORD DERWENT
I know the noble Lord is going to deny this; but if he will 768 read Hansard tomorrow he will see that I reported his words.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
My Lords, this has been a serious, wide-ranging and very interesting debate. I think it notable particularly for the honesty and sincerity of those noble Lords who participated. I should like to add, on behalf of the Government, my appreciation to the noble Lord, Lord Elton, for introducing the subject and also (although he is not in the House at the moment) to mention particularly the maiden speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Ailesbury. I felt that he set a pattern both for clarity and for brevity; and his marvellous choice of words conveyed his meaning easily to us all. I hope that we shall have the pleasure of hearing him again at a later date.
Having said that, I am bound to say that I am interested in the world which the noble Lord, Lord Elton, presented to us, and in his picture of British society. I noticed, incidentally, a letter in a newspaper to-day on this problem of integration—a concept that seems to be bandied about and expressed in various forms of words. I feel that this letter sums up what many of us have said this evening. It said:Until a short time ago, except for many of those who simply said 'Chuck them out!' the cry was for integration; but more recently people have come to see that there is something basically inhuman, indeed, something insulting, about the notion of integration per se. Why should we expect Indians, Pakistanis or Cypriots to become English in all details? They never will be! Immigrants should have equal rights and opportunities and, if need be, special legislation to ensure them these full rights; but a tolerant, even appreciative, coexistence is likely to be far more rewarding culturally than total integration.My Lords, I believe—and I hope that I shall not be put down as a super-optimist—that this is indeed happening. I live in a London borough, one which was selected by Nancy Mitford as being one of the few "non-U" boroughs because we did not have an old Etonian living there. Perhaps the situation may have changed with the boundary redistribution; but it is a virile, lively energetic, working-class community.
I remember that recently, when I was sitting on the panel of a radio programme, a question was put, inspired no doubt by the thought that a title must of necessity 769 carry with it a castle and a drawbridge, "How would Lady Phillips like to live next door to West Indians?" That could not have been put to a person better qualified to answer, because it happens that I have West Indians as neighbours, I also have Indians, Greeks, Maltese and Poles. It is extraordinarily interesting to me to see that they do exactly the same things as the rest of us. They wash their cars on Sundays; I see them in my church; I see their children in the schools; I see them watching football matches, and I see them going to work. If this is not peaceful co-existence, integration, absorption, assimilation, call it what you will, then I cannot imagine what is. There appears to be something so English about them that it is almost terrifying.
One of them came to see me the other evening to seek my help as a magistrate. He said, "I am sorry to trouble you but I have been here for seven years, and I do not know anyone. I come home every night from work; I sit down and look at television, and then I go to bed." My Lords, I am sad to say this; but it is a very accurate picture of what goes on in so many homes in London to-day. It seems to me the West Indian, if we are to believe the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, could hardly have come to do this. I have not noticed evidence of jolly parties. I would say that the one neighbour that we, Greeks, West Indians and Indians alike, were glad to see go was a white Londoner who held very noisy gambling parties and whose house was searched constantly by the police. He was not an immigrant but we were all very pleased to see him go. I feel that this integration must be taking place already, at any rate in one London borough.
While we were able to discover a definition of "refugee", it seems to me that it has never been quite so easy to get a clear definition of "immigrant". I think the time has come when we should try to use more carefully the words "immigrant" and "stranger". Sixteen years is a long time, and there is a second generation in our schools. I asked a West Indian young man one day recently where he came from. He said, "Sheffield"—with evident truth, for he had known all his life the surroundings of Sheffield.
I suggest, my Lords, that immigrants do not cause social problems. They come 770 as the result of a request for their services. Last week we paid a tribute to the Poles, and I was at one with those who paid the tribute. But we must equally pay tribute to the many Indians and West Indians, and other Commonwealth men, who came here to fight for us during the difficult days of the last world war, and who elected to remain here, or to return very soon after. These people have, it is true, created extra shortages in an already overloaded social service; but basically the shortages were not of their making and they can, justifiably I think, feel irritated when it is suggested that they were.
I feel that the noble Lord, Lord Elton, confused us a little by mentioning the birth rate. If in fact he was not so concerned with the question of people coming in or with the babies going to be born, perhaps it would have been wiser of him not to quote the birth-rate—though I must say that I found the figures given by the Minister quite fascinating. I cannot imagine what 1.73 of a child looks like, but, at any rate, the figures were confounding in themselves, and revealed that perhaps some of the noble Lord's worries are not quite as real as he imagined. I am disturbed as I feel that our attitude is a little too negative. What are our feelings about immigrants, particularly Commonwealth immigrants? As I recall, we have not discussed the aliens at length. Our attitude is, I think, partly the result of our colonial past, which tends to give us a certain feeling of superiority. Sometimes it is psychological, and we tend to make a scapegoat of an incoming group of people.
I remember that when I married my husband I was told that the Welsh were an object of suspicion and Wales was treated as being an alien country. That is a long time ago, but I can also remember how anyone who was drunk in Hammersmith Broadway on a Saturday night had, of necessity, to be an Irishman. So I think that successive waves of newcomers, as I prefer to call them, will always be subjected to the possibility of being scapegoats. I am sorry that we have perhaps shown a little too much rigidity in our failure to adapt to what is a new and very exciting society.
I was delighted that several noble Lords referred to the cultures which other 771 people bring with them. There is nothing which does not have a debit and a credit side. If these newcomers bring complications—and no one would deny that they do—if they add to the already overloaded social service, let us be truthful, and recognise that they bring with them also a cultural heritage which we have no reason to disturb and from which we may benefit; and they certainly bring with them their talents and their abilities to serve us. Those of us who have been patients in London hospitals lately would have fared very ill but for the West Indian nurses and doctors and the Indian doctors. This situation has been with us for a long time, and is likely to continue. Nevertheless, we appreciate the point of view which the noble Lord. Lord Elton, brings to this matter and the careful analysis he has made.
The noble Lord used the words "conspiracy of silence" in relation to the gravest problem of the day. I do not think that this is true. Perhaps we talk a little too much about this matter—not necessarily in your Lordships'House—because hardly a day goes by without some newspaper regaling us with some problem of racial discrimination. While some of this may be useful, I suggest that to repeat and to reiterate these things can only stir up fresh evidence of this difficulty.
The noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, spoke exactly as I should have expected, and I say that with all humility. He spoke in the statesmanlike fashion that one would hope for, and we were not disappointed in such a distinguished Member of your Lordships' House who is, of course, a former Home Secretary. I was very pleased that the noble Lord mentioned the teachers, because I have seen them trying to combat this problem and doing quite remarkable work.
The noble Lord put a direct question, to which I have endeavoured to get the answer, concerning the immigration control over aliens and Commonwealth citizens. As he rightly said—and as he would know far better, I am sure, than I—the two systems are different and are not completely comparable. In general, the control over Commonwealth citizens (this was the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Derwent) is more generous. It is arguable whether the time has come to bring the systems more closely into 772 alignment. Not everyone, even in your Lordships' House, is likely to agree with this. It is a matter which calls for some consideration and study, and in any event it would require legislation. As the Prime Minister said in another place, we cannot begin to think about legislation until we have the Report of the Departmental Committee on Immigration Appeals. I should perhaps mention something about this as the Minister dealt so adequately with other points and, having used, I think, the words "divided responsibility", left this to me. I must say, to use a soccer term, that I feel more like a "sweeper".
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
A "sweeper"—one who gathers together. My Lords, you will have heard the announcement of the Wilson Committee, and the legislation controlling aliens, as has been rightly stated by several noble Lords, has remained on a temporary basis for over fifty years. It is an unsatisfactory state of affairs and the Government intend to bring it to an end as soon as it is practicable to do so. In the Debate on the Address last November the Prime Minister put on record the acceptance by the Government of the view that the time is long overdue for placing on a permanent footing the law relating to the control of alien immigration; but, as he went on to say, we want to get this legislation right.
Several noble Lords have emphasised that we could, perhaps, have done a little better if we had moved earlier, or more cautiously. The present system has been criticised, mainly because, in relation to the exclusion or expulsion of foreigners, it allows the exercise of wide powers by the Secretary of State and his immigration officers without a formal right of appeal. As my noble friend Lord Stonham told your Lordships last year, the Departmental Committee on Immigration Appeals was appointed under the chairmanship of Sir Roy Wilson, President of the Industrial Court, to consider the whole question of the right of appeal which should be available to aliens and Commonwealth citizens refused leave to land or required to leave the country. The Committee has now been at work for several months. It has received a large volume of written evidence and more is 773 expected. The members of the Committee have also seen for themselves how immigration control works at the ports of this country, and in September the Chairman and another member went to America to study at first-hand the United States and Canadian systems of control. These are relevant because they make provision for formal appeals of the type that some critics of the present control have recommended for introduction here.
There is no time limit on the Committee's inquiries, nor should there be. It has a complex and difficult task in examining a question which has not been closely studied for fifty years. The Committee is now beginning to hear oral evidence. It is hoped that its Report may be submitted in the first half of next year and preparation of a Bill then put in hand. It would not be feasible at this point to earmark Parliamentary time for this legislation, but we on this side of your Lordships' House accept the need for it and will go ahead with it as soon as is practicable.
My Lords, more foreigners than ever before were admitted to this country in the year ended September 30 last—over 300,000 more, in fact, than during the same period in 1964–65. This was an increase of 12.9 per cent. Yet, despite this record and the welcome invasion of 1966, I am glad to be able to tell your Lordships that the rate of refusals of leave to land went down. In 1964–65 0.15 per cent., or one in just under 700, were refused. This year 4,706 were refused out of a total of over 3 million. This is 0.12 per cent., or one in just over 830. Every one of these 4,706 foreigners was refused permission to enter the country only after the most careful consideration. Immigration officers are required to submit every case of possible refusal of admission to a decision by the officer's immediate superior. Exceptionally difficult cases are referred to senior Home Office staff and not infrequently to Ministers. Full weight is given to any mitigating circumstances and to any representations from friends, relatives or any other interested persons. Foreigners liable to be refused entry are allowed to get in touch with anyone they think will be able to help them, and they are invariably given access to a telephone for this purpose.
It is often alleged that foreigners we sent back to their own countries without 774 any idea of why they were not being allowed entry into this country. In the great majority of cases these allegations are completely false. Obviously in a few cases (those involving security considerations, for example, or those where the foreigner is refused on medical grounds) disclosure of the reasons may not be appropriate; but in all other cases—for example, where a foreigner came here to work without first getting a valid work permit or has come to visit or settle here with insufficient means to support himself—he is told by the immigration officer why he is not being allowed to enter, and friends, relatives or anybody else with a legitimate interest in the case will also be given a clear explanation of the reasons for refusal. At all times our officers act with the greatest consideration and courtesy in the discharge of their heavy and difficult duties.
Just a few words on deportation, a power which is used very sparingly. For over ten years now all foreigners—except those being deported on security grounds, or recommended for deportation by a court—who have been here for more than two years have the right to make representations to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate. Since 1956 he has heard 64 cases and agreed with the Home Secretary's proposals for deportation in 46 of them. As I have said, the power to deport is used sparingly. Out of well over 400,000 foreigners in this country at any one time, under 90 have been deported in recent years. In 1965, the figure was 65, and so far this year it is 42. This is a serious action to take against a foreigner and it must always have the personal sanction of the Home Secretary, who considers every case before he finally signs the deportation order. I need hardly say that every relevant personal factor is taken into account—marriage to a British citizen, good work record, long residence here, and any other tie with this country.
We cannot admit everyone who would like to live and work here but, that disability apart, our arrangements for aliens are working well and I believe to the general satisfaction. Probably the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, would say here that this is precisely what he would like to see in relation to the Commonwealth newcomers as well. The noble Lord would not expect me to reply on behalf of 775 Her Majesty's Government to this proposal—indeed he said so—but I feel authorised to say that it is unlikely that Her Majesty's Government would consider that British citizens—namely, members of the Commonwealth—should have no more favourable consideration than aliens. This has not been a policy which has been looked upon with favour by Her Majesty's Government in the past, and I do not think that their view will change in future.
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, may I ask whether by "more favourable consideration" the noble Lady means administratively or by Act of Parliament—because more favourable consideration can always be given administratively, and there I should be with her?
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
My Lords, I do not think that this is a matter of policy but I should prefer to reply to the noble Lord in writing. What I was interested in was what the noble Lord wanted in this connection, because he used the specific word "stop".
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, what I meant was a moment of stop: virtually to stop while we reorganised the system, and not to go ahead in the way we are going now.
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
My Lords, I am delighted to know that the noble Lord did not mean what he appeared to say in his speech. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Wade, had to go, because I have discovered some information apropos the Dutch situation to which the noble Baroness, Lady Asquith of Yarn-bury, referred in the previous debate.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester also suggested that we might have some ideas to gather there, and he will be interested to know that shortly after Mr. Foley was given special responsibility for Commonwealth immigration, while still actually at the Department of Economic Affairs, he paid a three-day visit to Holland to discuss the immigration problem with the Dutch Ministers and officials. The Dutch situation proved to be essentially different. They were concerned mainly with people from Indonesia who, because of their Dutch connections, were being brought into Holland, since they were thought to be 776 at some risk in Indonesia. The people concerned were carefully selected, and it was possible to control their entry into Holland and their settlement there. Because of the nature of the operation, they could be placed in transit camps for a period of acclimatisation, and it was then possible to allocate them to Government-owned accommodation. The noble Lord, Lord Wade, will appreciate that there is some difference in the situation there from that which confronts us here in this country.
The noble Lord also mentioned the problem of the immigrant graduate. Though this is no doubt cold comfort, I would tell him that I have been concerned recently with English graduates from distinguished universities who have also been unable to get posts in British schools, so perhaps this may not be a matter of discrimination but simply that the posts do not exist. This is something which Her Majesty's Government are concerned about, and I would say to my noble friends, Lord Gifford and Lord Brockway, that where they find examples of this kind of discrimination we want to know of them, so that we can do something about them.
My noble friend dealt with the field of housing. At this point of time, Her Majesty's Government do not feel that they should extend this legislation, but they are looking at this problem and will always remain aware of it.
The noble Lord, Lord Derwent, asked whether there was a record of voucher-holders. This question has three answers. First Commonwealth citizens are not required to register with the police, so there is no record of that kind. The noble Lord recognised this, I think, in his suggestion for changing the law. Secondly, where Commonwealth citizens are admitted unconditionally, with vouchers or as entitled dependants there is no check on them and we consider there is no need for it. Thirdly, where Commonwealth citizens are admitted subject to condition—for example as students—the Home Office will usually check to see whether they are observing the requirement to leave within the specified time. I know from personal experience that this is carefully checked and certain records of this type of Commonwealth resident are kept in the Home Office. When I tried to get some concession for an Indian girl, I was 777 told firmly by my noble friend Lord Stonham that there was to be no jumping of the queue, so I can say that these regulations are strictly adhered to.
When I compare what was said by the noble Lords, Lord Milverton, Lord Conesford and Lord Elton, I would say that there is not much difference between the points of view they expressed. While I do not accept everything they said, I appreciate the sincerity and honesty with which they put forward their views. Perhaps they can gather some comfort from the figure given by the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Leicester, of 2 per cent. of the population in fifty years for this immigrant grouping, though I should hope that they would not still be referred to as immigrants. My noble friend's figures were a little higher, but I would suggest to the noble Lords that 3 per cent. cannot really be held to be a large proportion in a nation of this size. I would assure them that the Government do not view these problems with any complacency and do not consider that they have been solved. They are looking ahead all the time, and any suggestions that have been made in this debate to-day will be studied and taken note of.
I have attempted to reply to the points raised by noble Lords. I felt that the very full speech of the Minister probably made it unnecessary for me to cover the ground again. We recognise that no legislation can in the end produce a situation where people will live in harmony, but we can offset the worst aspects of any racial discrimination and attempt to get people to live together in peaceful co-existence, even if it is only by the simple means of instructing an Indian or Pakistani girl in the methods of living in Rome as the Romans do. I should like to conclude, if the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, will permit me, with one of his quotations (I use them constantly, because they are always apt), and say that I believe, and the Government do, too, that this country, with the quality of people that we have here, can pass through the difficulty of race relations and can give a lead to the world.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ LORD ELTON
My Lords, I am not going to attempt to reply to this wide-ranging debate. I am sorry to see that the right reverend Prelate has at last been compelled to go. I know that he wanted 778 to catch the 7.5 p.m. train, and he was still here a few minutes ago. I dare say there are others of your Lordships who want to catch trains, and so I will not attempt to reply to the debate. However, it seems to me that the speeches have fallen into two broad classes. There are those who, not exclusively, but perhaps it is fair to say overwhelmingly, concentrated on the necessity of treating the immigrants well, and talked mainly about what was come times called integration, sometimes adaptation, sometimes assimilation and sometime absorption. I feel that the variety of phraseology itself suggests that in this there is perhaps a good deal more good will than clear thinking, and that we do not really know what is ahead of us in this matter of integration.
When I say that one class of speech concentrated on treating immigrants well, of course, we all agree with that. Even I emphasised this, although I was subsequently lashed by the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, for not having dealt enough with the distresses of the immigrants. I would remind the noble Lord that one cannot always make the same speech. I first raised this question in your Lordships' House in 1956, and at intervals since then I have returned to it and have often dealt with that aspect. Even the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, probably will not want to repeat the very eloquent speech he made this evening. He will break new ground next time, and I shall not blame him for not having dealt with some of the points he dealt with this evening.
The other class of speakers were those who feel that attempts at integration and the mere insistence on the best possible treatment for immigrants will not necessarily themselves solve our problems; that the thing is in danger of growing out of hand, and that we shall not be able to absorb economically or socially the numbers coming into this country. Therefore the noble Lords, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, Lord Milverton, Lord Derwent and Lord Conesford, in different ways, to different extents and in different phraseology, seemed to be demanding some sort of halt in the present inflow, some sort of reduction or restriction. That is really the great watershed in the debate.
I especially welcomed the speech of my old friend (I must not say very old friend, or he may misunderstand me) 779 Lord Conesford. It was a characteristic breath of realism from him when he said that there is nothing wicked in being pessimistic if the facts point towards pessimism. He also did me a great service by explaining to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, a passage which had remained entirely opaque to him; and the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, took up the cudgels later, because my own intervention was apparently not enough to clear up Lord Stonham's mystification. It so happens that the last time I asked a question on this subject the noble Lord made a reply which again stated that I was attempting to separate resident immigrants from their dependants. I attempted an intervention then, and subsequently wrote to the noble Lord, who wrote back to me, with his usual courtesy, an answer of which I could not make head nor tail. I am glad that somebody else has explained to the noble Lord that this is not one of the policies that I have advocated. I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in the debate, and particularly the two Government speakers, 780 the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, for their courteous and tolerant replies, and I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.