§ 3.3 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I beg to move that the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill be read a second time. This is the fifth year that I have moved this Motion, but it is no formal exercise, because the colour-blind, distortionist statements of Mr. Enoch Powell have made an exact statement of the facts of immigration, and an objective consideration of the Government's policy, more necessary than ever before. Not the least remarkable of Mr. Powell's observations was his complaint abouta tiny minority"—which presumably includes your Lordships— 419with almost a monopoly hold upon the channels of communication who seem determined not to know the facts and not to face the realities".My Lords, the true position is the exact reverse. It is hard to recall any speech which has been so thoroughly deployed by B.B.C., I.T.V. and the Press as Mr. Powell's statement of non-facts. Our "monopoly hold" is a myth, and we must soldier on without it. Since, however, our object is to get the truth to the people, it is unfortunate that fact seems to have so much less publicity value than fiction.
On four previous occasions I have said that it is unsatisfactory that we must continue to seek annual renewal for such important legislation as this. I say it again, and repeat the assurance given by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, that the Government still consider permanent legislation an ideal to be worked for. But the Home Office have, this Session, five substantial Bills, including the Immigration Appeals Bill, which provides for the establishment of an immigration appeals system, and I believe it will be generally agreed that we should have experience of its operation before introducing comprehensive legislation.
Meanwhile, and I think understandably, an ever-increasing number of other nationals want to live in this country, and fortunately for us a very much greater number want to visit here. In the twelve months to September 30, 1968, there were 21½ million arrivals and departures at our ports—7 per cent. more than in the previous year. Of this total 13½ million were movements of resident citizens like ourselves, but 3½ million aliens were given leave to land—a 12 per cent. increase—and some half a million Commonwealth citizens came here, the great majority for short visits. This total of 21½ million a year averages more than 400,000 a week—a colossal task for our immigration staffs. A significant measure of the exemplary manner in which they discharge their responsibilities is the fact that during the whole of last year the Home Office received only fourteen complaints about the conduct of immigration officers. very few of which were found to be justified. My Lords, is it too much to hope that these figures could 420 be made widely known, together with the fact that we will gladly consider any constructive suggestions further to improve or speed up our methods?
I have said that we still aim at permanent legislation, but we do not think to achieve this, as apparently Mr. Heath proposes, by the assimilation of Commonwealth legislation into aliens legislation. One strong argument against this, which I should have thought would have appealed to the Party opposite, is that it would greatly increase the flow of Commonwealth citizens coming here for employment. There is no ceiling on the entry of aliens, and no need to impose one, because their entry for employment is strictly related to the needs of the domestic labour market.
The Commonwealth pattern is very different. Although the number of Commonwealth citizens entering is only one seventh the number of aliens, the proportion wishing to stay here indefinitely is much higher. We are obliged, therefore, to maintain a ceiling through the limit on vouchers. Otherwise, if we used the work control methods applied to aliens the number of Commonwealth immigrants coming here to work would be much larger than it is. I find it surprising that Mr. Heath did not apparently appreciate the implications of his proposal.
My Lords, I hope I am stating a fact regarding the problem of Commonwealth immigration when I say that the main opposition Parties agree with the Government on two propositions: first, that we should keep a tight control on immigration; and, second, that we should treat all people who are lawfully in this country on the basis of absolute equality. Let us first consider the effectiveness of our control system, including the results achieved by the measures we took last February. By the end of 1967 twice as many Kenya Asians had come in as in previous years; 13,000 arrived during the year and the rate was rapidly growing. In January this year the flow became a flood. We stopped it. The flood is now a very small trickle. The whole matter has been carefully and humanely handled and all the tension has gone. Then there was the provision to exclude dependent children under 16 unless both parents, or the sole surviving 421 parent, were here. This was designed to deal with the large numbers of youths who were arriving and going straight into employment. In the last three months before the Act came into force 1,032 were admitted to join a single parent; in the first three months after the Act, only 39, and in the second three months, 14.
The other group whose conditions of entry were changed was the elderly dependants who came here to be cared for by their children, but many of whom took up employment. In the last three months before the Act 89 of such persons entered in the first three months after the Act, 6, and in the second three months none at all. It is difficult to imagine more effective control than that.
We appreciate that some unqualified people who strongly desire to live here will seek to evade the controls. Our immigration officers maintain a close and experienced scrutiny at the ports and we do not believe that many escape their vigilance on the basis of forged or lying papers. Any that do succeed in this way would be included in our figures of admissions. This would not apply to illicit entry, the extent of which we cannot measure because naturally such intruders do not appear in our figures at all. There is no evidence to suggest, however, that this has ever happened on a substantial scale. And the new powers we took in the 1968 Act have proved very effective. The only two cases detected since the Act was passed resulted in the prosecution of the boatmen concerned. One was sentenced to a long term of imprisonment.
My Lords, I believe your Lordships will agree, on the basis of these facts, that we are exercising a strict and efficient control over immigration, and we shall continue alert to deal with any new type of evasion we discover.
I turn now to the main problems arising from the 50,000 or so immigrants who are coming here each year for permanent settlement. Here may I warmly welcome three statements made by Mr. Heath last month. One, when following Mr. Powell's second speech, he said:I absolutely condemn the character assassination of any racial group in this country … that way lies tyranny and it must be fought wherever it raises its ugly presence.422 Second, when he made it clear there was no question of Conservative policy accepting a ban on wives and children coming to join immigrants, adding:It is quite intolerable to say that a man already here must not be joined by his wife and children of school age.The Government and, as a recent poll indicated, the majority of the people of this country agree with that. The third welcome statement was:To stop teachers, doctors, nurses and dentists coming would only make the problem very much worse because these immigrants are themselves looking after immigrants who are already here.These are very clear and welcome statements. Unfortunately they do not square with Mr. Heath's declaration at York thatthe number of immigrants entering Britain, both under the voucher system, and as dependants, must be severely curtailed.How are we severely to curtail the number of dependants if we must not say that a man is not to be joined by his wife and children? In what other way can numbers be substantially cut? Last year 57,648 immigrants were admitted for settlement from the new Commonwealth countries. Of these only 4,716 (just over 8 per cent.) were voucher holders. Of the remainder nearly 90 per cent. were entitled women and children who, Mr. Heath insists, and the Government agree, we must admit. Nor can the severe curtailment come from the 8 per cent. of voucher holders of whom rather more than half are doctors, teachers and other professional people whose exclusion, according to Mr. Heath,would only make the problem very much worse".The plain fact is that, given the conditions which Mr. Heath has reaffirmed, and which the Government accept, there is no way of severely curtailing numbers.
My Lords, in all honesty, it is time this was acknowledged by the Party opposite. It is less than honest to proclaim the right sentiments—which we all share—and still pretend that we can make substantial cuts in the number of immigrants. We are always ready to consider suggestions for improvement and I would now comment on some suggestions that have been made. First, that we make entry certificates obligatory before dependants come here. There is no issue of principle involved here, because if every 423 person entitled to a certificate was given one it would not reduce the numbers coming in. In other words, if they are entitled, they are entitled with or without a certificate. Given that there would be no reduction in numbers, it is difficult to see what could be gained from what would be a considerable administrative task, and unless a convincing case for the value of such an operation can be made we shall not undertake it.
Secondly, there is the suggestion that we should require the heads of immigrant families now here to register the particulars of dependants still overseas. It is alleged that this would provide reliable information as to the numbers of dependants and also help to reduce the number of bogus entries. This proposal appears to me to be of doubtful value and, indeed, potentially dangerous, because, as we all know, records of birth, marriage, et cetera are scanty in some parts of the Commonwealth and if we invite people to supply this information we shall be quite unable to check its accuracy. Moreover, it is highly improbable that there is anyone in the country of origin who can check its accuracy. Indeed, it would be tantamount to an invitation to ill-disposed people to manufacture evidence of the existence of dependants who they would then bring into this country. A list of names will tell us nothing about future trends or the probable date of arrival of dependants. It will not supply reliable information about the admissibility of a dependant. The important thing is that it will not affect his entitlement, because if he is entitled he must be admitted even if he has not reistered; if he is not entitled, he must not be admitted even if he has registered. The proposal in fact would be just another expensive exercise in futility.
Then there is the even more remarkable proposal by Mr. Heath that all who visit these shores from overseas should register with the police—which is what his proposal appears to amount to. Last year nearly 3½ million aliens came here, the majority for short periods. Imagine what would happen, say, when France plays England at Twickenham if we asked every visiting French rugger enthusiast to go to the police station to sign on. Imagine what we should say if Continental countries asked British holidaymakers to do likewise. Yet that is the only con- 424 struction to be put on Mr. Heath's words, unless he is intending that his proposals should be directed at Commonwealth citizens but should not apply to aliens. I cannot believe that to be the case. Commonwealth visitors would be treated even more rigorously if we insisted on entry certificates as well as demanding that all our annual half million Commonwealth visitors, students and immigrants, including many thousands from Australia, New Zealand and Canada, should register with the police. It is surely unthinkable. Such a proposal would mean the breakdown of the service.
I come now to what Mr. Powell describes as the major issue, that of repatriation. He declares, I believe correctly, that a policy of assisting repatriation by payment of fares and grants is part of the official policy of the Conservative Party, and he describes it as a just, rational and humane policy. The Supplementary Benefits Commission already operates a policy of assisted repatriation in certain circumstances. That is going on now—voluntary repatriation with financial assistance. The numbers involved are small and obviously Mr. Powell envisages something much more Draconian. In the Government's view, large-scale repatriation would involve either direction (which is deportment), harassment, or compensation on an unacceptable basis. The Government reject all three. The basic problem in a policy of repatriation is the vast difference in the standard of living. So long as the difference between this country and the Caribbean countries is twelve to one, and eight to one in the Asian countries, no one is likely to be induced by payment to return home.
May I quote what Mr. Quintin Hogg said in the debate in another place, as to what we should do if a man said he did not want compensation but wanted to stay here:…my belief is that that is the situation with which we would be faced in the majority of cases … I simply do not believe that there can be a future for this country … if we do not found our general policies for those who live within our boundaries upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights…".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, 13/11/68; col. 509.]I am confident that your Lordships endorse that statement, as I do, and I hope that in their speeches on this subject the leaders of great political Parties will be 425 careful not to appear to give support to alleged solutions which do not square with the principles we have agreed.
We are, of course, very much aware of the very proper anxiety which exists concerning our ability to absorb substantial additions to our immigrant population and of the desire for information about the number of persons now overseas who are entitled to come here. I am glad to inform your Lordships that the Home Office has been conducting surveys which might in time enable us to forecast the numbers of dependants likely to come here in the future. Taking children first, we find that half of those arriving are less than 10 years of age, so they have five or more years at school here. The other 50 per cent. are evenly spread through the age groups from 11 to 15 and there is no concentration in the 14 to 15 age group. This will be of particular interest to the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, who has suggested that a reduction in the upper age limit for children could mean a substantial reduction in the numbers coming in. Our survey shows that in the groups I have mentioned this would not be the case. Action to reduce the age in the manner suggested could conceivably put us in breach of the Convention of Human Rights which enjoins respect for family life; and it might indeed temporarily increase the numbers of children entering because it is probable they would be brought in earlier. As for the admission of wives, I cannot imagine anyone suggesting that if the children are coming in, their mothers should not be allowed to accompany them.
Nevertheless, the numbers will, in time, decline. Our survey shows that of those now coming in—that is to say, in the last twelve months—only 16 per cent. are the dependants of men who arrived here before the 1962 Act and a little under 50 per cent. in all are related to men who arrived before we severely curtailed the number of vouchers in 1965. I have done some rough calculations. If we assume, as seems likely, that the number of dependants coming in this year is about 50,000 we can make some rough deductions: namely, that 8,000 are related to immigrants who came before June, 1962; 17,000 to the three-year period 1963 to 1965 and 25,000 to the 24-year period from 1966 onwards.
426 The migration of large numbers of Commonwealth citizens to this country dates from about 1952, but we only started a rough count of numbers arriving from the new Commonwealth countries from 1955. From this we are able to say that in 7½years from the beginning of 1955 to June 30, 1962, some 472,000 men, women and children were received here for settlement. The present entry of 8,000 dependants against this very large pre-1962 total is, therefore, only a small percentage (less than 2 per cent.), and it may be that we are coming: to the end of the commitment for the pre-1962 period. Seventeen thousand more dependants who arrived this year can be related to the years 1963 to 1965, during which there continued to be a high rate of immigration, because more than 162,000 men, women and children were admitted for settlement in those three years. The relationship is just over 10 per cent. As might be expected, the proportion related to new immigrants in the last two and three quarter years is higher still, as 25,000 dependants this year are related to total admissions of 140,000 men, women and children in that period —nearly 18 per cent.
On these figures we believe it is a reasonable assumption that we have already reached a plateau in the number of dependants entering and a decline in numbers may already have begun, because, excluding Asians from East Africa, the numbers entering in the first nine months of this year were about 11 per cent. less than in the corresponding period last year. We should therefore see a steady decline from the present level over the next six or seven years, and then expect to reach a level closely related to the size of the small voucher issue. I strongly deprecate the practice followed by some, of numbering categories of people which include those born in this country, and then, on their own conditions, making forecasts of the likely numbers decades hence. If we are to include the children of immigrants why not their grandchildren? They will be just as black. By the year 2,000 our white population is expected to increase by 20 million anyway.
My Lords, I have tried to give the statistical facts, but figures are relatively unimportant compared with the one overriding fact that we have a sizeable 427 coloured population which will continue in our midst whatever measures are adopted, short of measures which are unthinkable in a civilised society. We must recognise this and work together to ensure that we win the battle, for it is a battle, the battle for men's minds; and that we, in this House and in the country, with our reputation for tolerance, succeed in creating an atmosphere of tolerance and in establishing an environment where the emotional tensions are eased. It has been alleged that our children's heritage is being destroyed. There is high authority for the view that homo sapiens did not evolve in the British Isles. It must follow that everyone living here is either himself an immigrant or a descendant of an immigrant. That applies to all of us in this Chamber.
This country, either by conquest or immigration, has experienced successive invasions or incursions by Angles, Saxons, Danes, Normans, Huguenots, Jews, Poles and others. All were resisted at the time; all are part of our heritage and there are few, if any, of your Lordships who are not descended from the peoples I have mentioned. My Huguenot ancestors came here three hundred years ago. My other grandparents were respectively Scottish, Welsh and Irish. I was born in the City of London and am just about as English as a man can be. But if my immigrant forbear had been black, I should have been as black as he, and no less English than I am now. Of course, immigrants do not automatically become Englishmen, and many, quite understandably, prefer to maintain their separate characteristics, as do many Welsh, Irish and Scots when they live in England. Immigrants do not have to be integrated culturally, but they do become integrated in other respects. A large proportion of our coloured people have not known and will probably never know any other country. This is their country. It is for us to ensure that they become part of us. Parliament can pass Statutes making discrimination unlawful. The Government can, and do, provide special assistance in housing, education, welfare and many other things. But only the people can perform the most important task of all, and it is for us to give them a lead in doing so. My Lords, I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2ª. (Lord Stonham.)
§ 3.31 p.m.
§ LORD BROOKE OF CUMNOR
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said that he was introducing this Bill for the fifth time, but in fact he made no reference to two-thirds of the proposals in the Bill. The first question which I should like to ask him is: how soon are the Government going to take steps to get rid of this annual Bill altogether? We constantly hear about pressure on Parliamentary time, particularly in another place, and here is a Bill which could be eliminated. I suggest that it should be a matter of priority so to deal with each of the six Acts which we are proposing to prolong by this Bill, that an Expiring Laws Continuance Bill is no longer needed.
For example, the Accommodation Agencies Act 1953, for which my noble friend Lord Ilford was originally responsible, has been in operation and has been needed for 15 years. I can see no prospect that it will cease to be needed, and I should have thought it was obvious by now that it should be converted into permanent legislation. What about the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act 1955? That is an Act expiring annually, that deals with what are known as "horror comics". Do the Government suppose that sometime the importation of horror comics may no longer threaten? Do they not see by now that it is desirable that that Act, of which we have 13 years' experience, should be made permanent? To make both those Acts permanent would be very simple items of legislation.
Then what about licensing planning? Some four or five years ago I set up a strong Committee under Mr. Ramsay Willis to report on this subject, as a means—this was definitely in my mind —of getting this Act out of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. When I say "this Act", I should more correctly refer to Part VII of the Licensing Act 1964, dealing with licensing planning, which we are still continuing annually. The Ramsay Willis Committee reported, I think, some two years ago, but we have heard nothing further from the Government about legislation to take that part 429 of the Licensing Act out of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, dealing with it either on the lines recommended by the Committee or in some other way, but at any rate enshrining it in permanent legislation.
The noble Lord has spoken almost exclusively to-day about Part I of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962. Last year, in the corresponding debate, he led us to hope that there would be permanent legislation dealing both with Commonwealth immigrants and with aliens, so that this long farce of continuing the Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act 1919 by year-to-year legislation should be brought to an end, and at the same time we should make permanent, either in amended or unamended form, the control of Commonwealth immigrants. Now the noble Lord says that the Government cannot find time for it. I am sorry that the Government give a low priority to these matters. I can think of other Bills which appear to me to be of less public value than measures to put on the Statute Book, in definitive and permanent form, arrangements for the control of the immigration both of Commonwealth citizens and of aliens. I must say that I was not impressed by the additional argument used by the Home Secretary in another place, though not, I think, repeated by the noble Lord to-day, that it would be a good thing to try out under existing legislation the new appeals procedure which is to be embodied in the Immigration Appeals Bill. I should have thought it was far better to bring that in at the same time as we brought in definitive and permanent legislation.
Having said that, I want to join with the noble Lord in the tribute that he paid to the work of immigration officers. They are too frequently criticised, in the Press and elsewhere, usually because they have handled some difficult case with strict regard to the rules laid down for them; and frequently the full facts have not become known to the Press. I remember a number of cases like that when I was responsible. The immigration officers get the first blame. No doubt the Home Secretary gets the second blame, but these officers tend to be held up to obloquy for doing a very difficult duty, as I think, uncommonly well, and I hope that from 430 all parts of your Lordships' House we shall endorse that tribute to them.
It is inevitable that the greater part of this debate should be concentrated on the working of the control over Commonwealth immigration. The Government say that the public does not realise how strict that control is. That is a matter of opinion; but what is a fact is that the control admitted more permanent immigrants from the new Commonwealth last year than entered in any year except 1960, 1961, 1962 and 1963, the years immediately affected by the passing of the 1962 Act. As the noble Lord told us, some 4,700 of those who came in during 1967 were voucher-holders, and some 49,300 were dependants. As to the voucher-holders, I understand that about 20 per cent. were doctors, 15 per cent. scientists and engineers, and over 10 per cent. teachers. Altogether, those who have professional qualifications of one kind or another add up to over 50 per cent.
The noble Lord seemed to think that this was unreservedly a good thing. But it appears to me to represent a "brain-drain" from underdeveloped countries where these professionally trained people are more urgently needed than they are here. I question whether we should accept this bringing of trained professional people from underdeveloped countries into this country as a good thing in itself, simply because it is convenient for us. In any case, I judge that the strongest reason for any of them to come here is to acquire more experience, which they can then take back and put at the disposal of their fellow citizens in their own countries; that is surely an argument for welcoming them on a limited-term basis, not for offering them vouchers that will entitle them to settle here permanently.
As your Lordships may be aware, the Royal Commission on Medical Education had something to say on this aspect. The Royal Commission suggested (I quote from paragraph 358) that:medical demands in Britain ought not to be met by permanent or semi-permanent immigration from developing countries whose own needs are enormous".I am sure that is true. Elsewhere in that Report your Lordships will find the fact that some 50 per cent. of junior doctors in hospitals come from overseas. This is not a debate on medical education, but 431 I should like to be sure that the Government were taking much more seriously the future supply of our own doctors, so that we shall not need these vast numbers of doctors from overseas to keep our hospitals going. I am not endorsing yesterday's leading article in The Times, but I would say that, on a narrow front, there must be something seriously wrong with us and with our arrangements for the National Health Service if we are not succeeding in attracting into the medical profession—one of the finest professions in the world—a sufficient number of our own people to keep our own medical and hospital services going.
My Lords, it is of course well established that the vast majority of the Commonwealth citizens coming here for permanent residence are dependants of those who are already here, and the Home Secretary said the other day in another place:…it seems as though we are now on a plateau concerning the number of dependants".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, 13/11/68, col. 430.]The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, appeared to me to suggest that we were off the plateau and that the numbers were now falling, but I must take seriously the Home Secretary's statement. When he spoke on the Committee stage of this Bill in another place, he was not forecasting that we could look forward to an early decline. I grant, of course, that the figures are down this year, and I listened with all the care I could to the ingenious calculations that the noble Lord put before us. But if the Home Secretary, the Minister principally responsible, says that we are "on a plateau concerning the number of dependants", I must accept that as meaning that the person in the best position to judge expects the number of dependants coming into this country to continue at something like 40,000 or 50,000 a year for a number of years.
My Lords, unless something can be done to mitigate the concentration of immigrants in certain areas I am driven to the conclusion that we cannot contemplate 40,000 or more dependants continuing to come in each year for a number of years. The absorptive capacity of some of these areas is now at bursting point. This is the situation that I want 432 to present to the Government, for I am bound to say that the noble Lord's very earnest speech would have been listened to in a somewhat different atmosphere if it had been delivered in Bradford, Huddersfield, Southall or elsewhere. I accept that the problem is mainly a problem of dependants, though for the reason I have indicated I think that we could and should cut down still further the number of vouchers that are given, and that all vouchers should now be for a limited period.
Perhaps I may add, in passing, that the noble Lord, in seeking to pooh-pooh the arguments of Mr. Heath, appeared to me to be overlooking the fact that one of the fundamental items in his proposals is that entry on vouchers should in future be for a limited term, as entry for aliens on work permits is already. The figure that matters most of all is not the number of people who come in during a certain year, but the number who stay here permanently. It is that figure which builds up the numbers—the numbers which, as I say, have already in certain areas reached bursting point. If only somebody could wave a wand and show us how to help the immigrants to distribute themselves more evenly over the country, there would be no problem at all. As I have repeatedly said, this is a problem of numbers, and it is the excessive numbers in certain areas which give rise to the strain.
One possible way of reducing in the long term, though not instantly, the number of dependants entering would be to withdraw unconditional entry—and I stress "unconditional" entry—for sons or daughters over 13 years of age. This would of course require legislation. I believe that this would diminish the number of young dependants coming in by 20 to 25 per cent. according to the figures that the noble Lord gave us. He told us that half of the child dependants coming in were under 10, and the other half are presumably between 10 and 16.
§ LORD BROOKE OF CUMNOR
They are aged 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15, and the noble Lord said they are evenly spread over that age range. If, then, you exclude those aged 13, 14 and 15, you are left with those aged 10, 11 and 12; and presumably, on the noble 433 Lord's figures, you have then excluded something like 25 per cent. of the total child dependants. If I have misinformed myself in any way, or have misunderstood the argument which the noble Lord was putting before the House, no doubt he will tell us what the correct percentage is. I would point out that everybody with children of 13 or 14 or 15 would already have had ample opportunity to bring them in. The justification in principle for a course like this is that all the young people who are coming here for unconditional, permanent residence should rightly come at an age when they will have at least a year or two of British schooling, and will not pass straight into the labour market, perhaps with hardly any knowledge of English.
An alternative course—I do not know whether the Government have considered it—would be to do what the Government themselves did in the case of the Kenya Asians; that is, to fix an annual quota of entry. In the 1968 Act the Government took power to fix an annual entry quota for the Kenya Asians and others in a similar position; and a similar course could he adopted with regard to dependants. That 1968 Act is working well, as the noble Lord was entitled to say, and I give the Government credit for that legislation. I know that neither of the alternatives that I have mentioned is easy; but, my Lords, surely the decision to introduce the 1968 Bill was not an easy one for the Government. In that case the Government were convinced that something had to be done.
The plain fact is that we cannot drift on as we are, and yet I fear that that seems to be Government policy: accepting that we can add 40,000 to 50,000 more immigrants each year for permanent residence here, while offering no suggestions as to how they can be induced to settle elsewhere than in those areas which, as I say, are now full to bursting point. Those are the areas where the strains exist. Mr. Enoch Powell, whom the noble Lord mentioned, represents one of those areas in Parliament. I am not going to follow up Mr. Enoch Powell's speech except to say to the noble Lord that if he wishes to challenge Mr. Powell on this or any other subject I would advise him not to dismiss a speech of his as containing non-facts while entirely failing in his own speech to indicate any of those non-facts that he alleges.
434 But, my Lords, to come back to my main argument, this is a problem of numbers; and the numbers still pouring in to certain parts of the country are outrunning the capacity of those areas to absorb them. Do the Government agree with that, or do they deny it? I believe that the Government agree. Yet they propose to do nothing to tackle it—except in the shape of another Bill which is now before Parliament to give larger grants to help the areas I haw mentioned and certain other areas to solve problems which, in the places that I have mentioned, the growth of numbers has already rendered insoluble and will be daily rendering worse, unless some further brake on numbers is applied.
This is the simple reason why masses of people by now believe—and I am very sorry to say this—that the situation is out of hand; and this is why they are prepared to welcome the views of anybody who says firmly that something effective must be done about it. All my sympathies are with the ordinary people of this country, those of them who feel like that. Reading the speeches by Ministers in another place on the Committee stage of this Bill I see little sign of their recognising the intensefeeling of the native inhabitants in towns and cities particularly affected, the intense feeling that what they have been suffering from is government without the consent of the governed, and that Parliament has been anæsthetising itself with comfortable phrases while their whole circumstances locally have been transformed.
The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, knows that racial harmony in Britain is what I am seeking above all, and that if I urge new thinking on these questions it is because I believe that racial harmony will be unattainable otherwise. As for people who have not settled down happily here and have not found in England all that they hoped to find—the English weather included—I can see nothing wrong or foolish in making it easier for them to return to their own countries if they wish to do so. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, dismissed this suggestion as a Draconian one. It seems to me to be a perfectly obvious one. He says that there are powers already to pay return fares in cases of destitution. I do not think he will deny it when I say that those powers are used 435 in fewer than a hundred cases a year; and a recent opinion poll certainly indicated that there were large numbers of immigrants who were disappointed with life in this country as it had turned out to be for them, and who would be seriously interested in going home if they could afford to do so. I am in favour of no Draconian policy; but do let us examine these questions in an atmosphere of reality as well as compassion. At the same time let us never forget all the children who are being born in this country to parents born overseas, but lawfully here. Their parents may be Polish or Pakistanis or what you will; but the children will have known no other country but this. It is imperative that we give those children not only British citizenship but confidence in British fair play and equality. And because of the concentrations of numbers locally we have not made that easy for ourselves.
My Lords, I dare to say that up to the present all Governments have been handicapped through lack of sufficiently accurate foresight or, if I may put that another way, sufficiently thorough forecasting. I was not quite sure whether I heard the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, aright when he said that he would strongly deprecate detailed forecasting in these matters. I believe there has not been enough of it. This is partly the reason why millions of people feel that their political leaders have not been candid enough in telling them what was coming to them.
What is coming to this country, regardless of whatever immigration policy we pursue, appears likely to be a vast increase in population which is going desperately to exacerbate the problems of town and country and a great deal else. We ought to have an independent body, which the Government will accept as authoritative, continuously studying long-term population prospects, reassessing them from year to year, and providing a foundation more trustworthy and more trusted than exists at present. We need that foundation on which to erect our future policies for Commonwealth and foreign immigration, and much else too. Whenever there is a suspicion afoot that matters are out of hand, whether it has to do with immigration or with anything else in the world, the best way to allay 436 suspicions, and to help reason to conquer wild emotion, is to help people to move off sand and mud on to firm ground. Of course, forecasts of population must be based on assumptions, and assumptions may be falsified by developments; but at least the assumptions can be public and the forecasts can be reasoned and dispassionate—and fully publicised, too.
In another place the Government hinted that the new Select Committee on the working of the Race Relations Acts can do all that is necessary so far as immigration facts and figures are concerned. If indeed that Committee is to be an immigration committee—which it was not announced to be—it seems to me something of a pity that it is not a Joint Select Committee of both Houses; for these matters tend to be discussed in your Lordships' House very objectively, very knowledgeably and with less heat than elsewhere. But what I am urging is a continuing study of population trends and implications—with immigration and emigration as two important elements therein—a study more systematic and more far-reaching than I would say any Select Committee is appropriate to undertake.
Why should the people of this country, whether British-born or otherwise, not be helped to appreciate here and now what lies in store for the next generation? This is my plea: to combat emotional surges by hard thinking—to try to overcome for the future the failure of communication between Parliament and the public over all this—and to ensure that British citizens, whatever their colour, will not again be justified in saying, as many are saying now, "You never warned us; you never prepared us."
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ LORD FOOT
My Lords, it is not quite clear to me whether the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, when opening his speech was endeavouring to censure the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, for having confined himself entirely to the matter of immigration. If it was intended as a rebuke I am afraid that the rebuke administered to me by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, would be even more considerable, because I wish to confine my few remarks this afternoon simply to one part of the problem of immigration and that is in Section 1 of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 437 1962 as it was amended by the Act of 1968.
I daresay that many of your Lordships will remember, as I do, and will have a very vivid recollection of the hectic and highly charged atmosphere in which we debated the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill on February 29 of this year. For my part, it is not a night on which I look back with any sort of satisfaction. Noble Lords will remember that we debated that Bill and were invited to pass it through all its stages over the span of only 18 hours; and we did so and we carried through a Bill which on any sort of showing was of momentous importance. It involved constitutional and racial considerations and deep human considerations. All that was shovelled through in the course of half-a-day and a night. Both the other political Parties, my own only excepted, were divided down the middle, and we had to deal with that Bill with only the shortest possible notice of what it involved and what it contained.
I do not want this afternoon to recall any of the animosities of that time, but I think it proper that we should take a brief look on this occasion—when we are in effect renewing that 1968 measure—at how Section I of the Act has worked out, particularly in relation to the Kenya Asians. I am relying for what I have to say on two sources of information; first, on some figures given by the Home Secretary in the debate in another place on November 13 and, secondly, on some information contained in a survey of which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, will no doubt be aware, which was made back in May and June of this year in Kenya. It was a survey to find out the facts about people who were affected, the Kenya Asians who were affected by Section 1 of the 1968 Act. After that Act went through, an inter-Party Committee was set up on which there were sitting Members of this and of the other House under the Chairmanship of the Member of Parliament for Bromley, Mr. John Hunt. The Committee was set up to try to see how the Act would work in Kenya; to keep it under review and to try to deal with the hardships and difficulties that might arise.
The survey made by Mr. Martin Ennals back in June was made under the auspices of this inter-Party Committee. It was, nevertheless, an entirely indepen- 438 dent fact-finding survey because it was not commissioned or paid for in any way. I believe I am right in saying that the information contained in the survey, and the survey itself, have been given to the noble Lord and to the Home Office. The object of the survey was in the main to do three things. First, it sought to find out how many people there were in Kenya who were United Kingdom citizens and qualified as such to come into this country. Secondly, it was directed to trying to find out where those people, however many they might be, would want to go to this country or elsewhere if they had the chance. Thirdly, it was directed to finding out when these people, if they intended to leave Kenya, might be expected to leave, so that we might find out what numbers of people might be expected to attempt to get into this country if there were no voucher system and if there had been no Act of 1968. In other words, the object was to find out the magnitude, the size and the shape of the problem.
When this matter was debated on February 29 one of the matters in issue between the Government and those who took the contrary view was whether the Bill was necessary at all. The Government argument—I scarcely need to remind your Lordships; it has been repeated in no small measure here to-day—was that by the end of 1967 there had been such an upsurge in the number of Kenya Asians seeking admittance to this country that the entry was running at the rate of 13,000 in the year. Then in January and February the upsurge continued, and the argument of the Government was that it was only by imposing some measure of control that that inflow could be brought within a reasonable compass.
The argument of the Government was right, provided that what was motivating these people to come into this country was something external to the country —possibly the Kenyanisation programme that was going on in Kenya. If it was a natural phenomenon, if these people were coming to this country because it suited them to do so, and because this was the time when they wanted to come; if these people were coming because they wanted to get out of Kenya, with the Kenyanisation programme being brought into effect, then of course it was reasonable, or it might have been reasonable, to say, "We must control this by putting 439 on controls similar to those already applying to Commonwealth immigrants". But the argument we addressed to the House at that time was that this was not the reason these people were coming to this country in those numbers; that was not the explanation of the upsurge in the figures; that it was in fact an artificial argument. The reason why there had been an upsurge and an increasing flood of applications was the alarmist speeches made in this country, and the talk then going on about the possibility of our imposing controls and slamming the door. The result of all this was that these people came in at that time, not because they wanted to come then—possibly they did not want to come at all—but because they feared that, unless they got in in time, before the door was shut, they would not be able to get in at all and might have nowhere else to go.
If that was the cause of the flood, then what was the way in which it ought to have been dealt with? Surely what could have been done, instead of imposing control and taking away the rights of these people to enter, was to reaffirm in an unqualified way, without any sort of reservation, that we in this country were not going to impose controls on them. We could have told them that there was no need to worry; that we were never going to kick them out; we were going to uphold their vested right as United Kingdom citizens. If the Government of the day had given that assurance, is there not every reason to believe that the flow would then have been brought quickly within reasonable proportions?
If we were right in the view we took, that this phenomenon was artificially created by panic, fear and apprehension, and if we were right in thinking that if these applications had been allowed that would have solved the problem, surely it is only right to say that the Act of 1968 was an unmitigated disaster. At that time it was agreed that it was an evil. It was agreed on all sides of the House that it was a bad thing. I remember the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor saying that he did not like the Bill and that he doubted whether there was anybody who liked it. The only difference between us was that the Government 440 and those supporting the Government said that it was a necessary evil while we said that it was unnecessary. But everybody agreed that it was an evil, an evil which lay in the fact that for the first time in our history—and we were doing it overnight, as I have said—we were denying to United Kingdom citizens the right to come into this country when they wished to come. We were denying this right to people who were coloured and to people who might have nowhere else to go.
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether he thinks that assurances on this and other matters given by the present Government would have given very much comfort to these people?
§ LORD FOOT
My Lords, I do not know whether that question is directed to me or to the Government, but I would say that if the Tory Party at that time had been prepared, through their leaders, to back any declaration or assurance given by the Government, that might have assisted to give confidence to these people that they were not going to be kept out. But I doubt very much whether the Tory leadership at that time, with the splendid exception of Mr. Macleod, would have been prepared to give that assurance.
May I come back to the figures given by the Home Secretary the other day in another place? Your Lordships will remember that when we passed the Bill in February of this year, it was provided that in any given year the Government would be prepared to issue 1,500 vouchers to heads of families, taking into account those in greatest need. Mr. Callaghan said that in the first six months after the passage of the Act 684 vouchers had been issued out of the year's total of 1,500 and all of these had not been taken up. The number of appeals against refusal to issue vouchers had been far less than anybody had expected. Your Lordships will remember that two lawyers were sent out to Nairobi to hear appeals. Mr. Callaghan reported that there had been only 40 appeals, with the result that one of the lawyers had been brought back because there was nothing for him to do. The Home Secretary concluded in the same way as the noble Lords, Lord Stonham and Lord Brooke of Cumnor, to-day, by saying that the Act has worked satisfactorily. The inflow has been cut down, 441 without causing any hardship to anybody, because there has not been any flood of applications for vouchers and the authorities have not had to turn anybody down.
Do the figures which I have quoted really support this view? Do they not rather support what we have contended throughout, that there never was any genuine requirement of any size for these people to come into this country? Do they not show that the flood of entrants in January and February was a highly artificial phenomenon? If it were otherwise, if the flood was not created by the panic and apprehension, then we would have expected that after the passage of the Act, in March and April and in the succeeding months of the year, there would have been a great flood of applicants for vouchers in Nairobi. But this has not materialised.
May I go on to the figures contained in the survey of Mr. Ennals, because I would suggest to your Lordships that they support what I have been arguing in a remarkable way. Mr. Ennals was trying to do three things. He was trying to establish how many Kenyan natives were qualified as United Kingdom citizens and who might want to come in to this country. Secondly, he wanted to find out which countries they would prefer to go to, if they had a free choice, and, thirdly, he wanted to find out when these people anticipated that they might want to leave Kenya and come here or go elsewhere.
With regard to the number of heads of families who were qualified to come into this country, Mr. Ennals arrived at the figure of 67,000. When that figure was quoted in another place a few days ago, it was challenged to some extent by the Government spokesman. He said that it was on the low side, but he conceded that the Government figure of 167,000, which had been put forward at the time the Bill was before another place, was far too high. But he did not estimate what the true figure was. In the absence of any detailed criticism by the Government of Mr. Ennal's figures, which, as the noble Lord will know, have been worked out in considerable detail, I think it is a workable hypothesis to accept them. I do not think it can be very far out, because I understand that the figure is put by the High Commis- 442 sioner in Nairobi at somewhere in the neighbourhood of 100,000.
Working upon that assumption, Mr. Ennals went on to the other two questions. What he did was to circulate a questionnaire to a sample section of Kenya Asians in order to try to find out what the answers were. Admittedly, he could not take anything like a census of these people; all he could do was to take samples of opinions in different sections of the community. He asked two questions. I will not burden your Lordships with the details, but perhaps I may just refer to two of the questions which were asked and give an indication of the replies received. The first question was:If you were to leave Kenya in the near future, where would you prefer to settle?Of the people who answered that question, 18 per cent. said the United Kingdom, 67 per cent. said India, and the figures given for other countries were apparently small, perhaps the most significant of them being Canada at 6 per cent.
The first conclusion which I draw therefore is this. Less than one-fifth of the people who could qualify to come into this country as United Kingdom citizens said that they wanted to come here. So we are not talking about 67,000 people as being potential entrants to this country; we are talking about something like 13,000 people who would want to come into this country if they were free to do so. But the problem is not even as big as that, because the second question which was addressed in the questionnaire was this:All things considered, what do you think is the most likely length of time that you will remain in Kenya?Nine per cent. said the rest of their lives; 17 per cent. said less than one year; 35 per cent. said two to three years; 11 per cent. said 4 to 5 years; 21 per cent. said more than five years; and 4 per cent. were not ascertained.
If I may put those figures together in another way, just over 50 per cent. of the people asked said that they were likely to leave Kenya within three years. The conclusion which I would draw from that is that, going back to my figure of 13,000 people who might want to come here, or who indeed have expressed a desire to come here when they leave Kenya, only half of them would want to 443 come within the next three years. The result is that you get a figure of about 2,000 people per annum, heads of families, who would want to come into this country over the next three years if everything was free and there were no restrictions. That is not very different from the number of vouchers —that is, 1,500—which the Government are prepared to issue. I suggest that those figures (no doubt they are open to criticism, and are wrong in some particulars) provide a remarkable confirmation of the figures given by Mr. Callaghan and, indeed, the reason why we have not had a great flood of applications for vouchers.
If this argument has any validity, what are the conclusions that we should draw? I suggest that they are these. The reason why there has been no flood of demand for vouchers by these people in Kenya is that there are comparatively few of them who want to come here, and, in any case, those who want to come here do not want to come all at once: and as regards about 50 per cent. of them, they do not want to come until more than three years' time. The second conclusion I suggest to your Lordships is this. If only in February of this year, instead of passing this Act, the fears had been allayed, then the inflow which we should have seen after the fears had been allayed would not have been very different from the actual entry that we are seeing to-day under this voucher system.
The third conclusion to which I should like to invite your Lordships' attention is that, due to the alarm which was set up in January and February among these people, many thousands of them came into this country who might never otherwise have come here at all. There is here a disaster within a disaster. During the last two weeks of February of this year nearly 10,000 of these people came to this country. Almost all of them had to abandon their families, their homes and their jobs, in order to beat the Bill and get through the door before it was shut in their faces. And many of those people, if they had been allowed to remain where they were, might never have come in. The panic into which the Government got at that time may have been the cause of bringing into this country people who would never have wanted to come.
444 The gloomiest conclusion to be drawn from these facts, I would suggest, is that if in February we had kept our nerve—and also, incidentally, kept our word—these people might well have presented no serious problem. If we had had some regard for our moral obligations, it might well have been that we should have served our practical interests at the same time. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, spoke just now about Section 1 of the Act. I think he devoted only a sentence to it, but he seemed to suggest that the Act was working splendidly and that all was going well. I suggest that the price we paid for this Act was a very high price indeed. We paid the price in reputation; we paid the price in the harm which we did to the cause of inter-racial harmony abroad, in the Commonwealth and here at home. The British Government engaged in a massive act of discrimination against coloured people at the same time as they were preparing their own Act to make discrimination by individuals a criminal offence. We paid all that. What did we get for it? We thought that we got a temporary easement. I suggest that possibly the most lamentable but inescapable conclusion is that we paid all that price, and if we had kept our word we need never have paid it at all.
My Lords, to conclude upon what I hope will be a somewhat more constructive point, what reparation can we make to undo the harm that was done at that time? There is, of course, a distinguishing characteristic about the Kenya Asians which differentiates them from those million people who we were told were also in possession of United Kingdom passports and might possibly come into this country without let or hindrance, and that is that the Kenya Asians have no other citizenship than United Kingdom citizenship. What reason is there why reparation should not be done by a simple amendment of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act whereby the exclusion and the control which it imposes would not be imposed upon United Kingdom citizens who have no other citizenship? They are the people chiefly affected, and that is a reparation which it would be within the power of this country and within the power of this Government to give.
The other plea I would make is this—and I am sorry to have occupied your Lordships' time for so long. There are 445 two lessons, I suggest, to be learnt from what happened in February with the passage of that Act, disastrous as I think it was. The two lessons are these. First, in this delicate field of racial relations—and I know that the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, understands this all too well—we ought first of all as a country to try to cease to act unilaterally. In any immigration problem there are at least three parties involved: the receiving country, the country from which the people are coming, and the people themselves. I think that one of the worst features of this Act was that we were acting unilaterally, without any opportunity in advance for consultation with the people concerned or with the country from which they were to come. I would urge that in any future legislation if we are going to have a permanent piece of legislation, instead of this temporary legislation, we should consult with all the parties who are concerned—the people of the Commonwealth generally, and the countries of the Commonwealth generally —before we legislate and before we come to any settled conclusion.
My final point is this. The other lesson which I suggest we learn from what happened in February is that in this field, of all fields, it is terribly dangerous to act precipitously. I myself am satisfied that we could have overcome the difficulties of January and February, and we could have done justice to these people, without any need for this legislation whatever. I may be right about that or I may be wrong, but I cannot help thinking that it is always wrong to deal with these matters of human rights, human decency and human respect in the sort of way in which we dealt with them in a period of 18 hours on February 29.
§ 4.33 p.m.
§ LORD STRABOLGI
My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Foot, will forgive me if I do not follow him into the special question of the Kenya Asians. I remember the important part he played in dealing with the Bill when it came before the House. I did not agree with his views then, and in fact we were on opposite sides, but I listened to what he had to say with the greatest interest. As the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, reminded us, this Expiring Laws Continuance Bill contains several Bills, 446 but I suspected when this rather innocent sounding Bill appeared again on the Order Paper that the Second Reading would develop into a debate on immigration; and that of course has been proved so. It is perfectly right that it should because, as the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, said, this is surely the most important social question of our time.
I am sure we are very grateful to my noble friend Lord Stonham for introducing this Bill, and I agree with everything he said in his speech. I should also like to congratulate my noble friend because I believe that this is the fifth time that he has introduced the Bill; and if we must have legislation in this form—and I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, said, that it should possibly be looked at again to see in what other statutory form it could be introduced—I, for my part, should like to have no one better than my noble friend Lord Stonham to introduce it.
The noble Lord, Lord Brooke, mentioned the matter of the concentration of immigrants, and of course this is one of the great roots of the problem. I was interested in what he said about the setting up of an all-Party commission to study the whole question of race relations in depth. I feel sure that the Government will look at this suggestion, and I shall be interested to hear what my noble friend has to say about it. I should also like to pay a tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, for the great moderation and constructive attitude he has always adopted over race relations in this House. I wish that this were shared by certain other members of his Party. I will not follow what I may perhaps describe as the eccentric and rather emotional fringe in the Conservative Party, although I should like to examine some of the official Conservative proposals as put out in speeches this autumn.
Their policy seems to me to be confused and in some cases contradictory, and even to raise additional difficulties, although I realise that the Opposition have put forward these suggestions in a sincere attempt to try to help over this very difficult and explosive problem. One of their proposals is that the number of immigrants entering Britain, both under the voucher system and as dependants, 447 must be curtailed. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, said that again this afternoon. But under the "A" and "B" voucher system over half the voucher-holders are professionally qualified people. They are doctors, trained nurses and teachers, for whom there is a need. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, thought that we had rather too many doctors here. But over half the doctors in the National Health Service are coloured, and I believe that one-fifth of the trained nurses and midwives are. If there were any large curtailment of further immigration, I should have thought that that would have a great effect on the National Health Service. It would be something that would have to be considered very carefully. Indeed, I have heard people say that many of our hospitals would not be able to carry on at all unless they were helped in this way by the coloured professional staffs.
Therefore, I should have thought that any limitation would have to come from the category "A" holders; that is, those who come here to fill specific vacancies in industry. But there are only about 2,500 in all. There are 5,000 altogether, counting "A" and "B" voucher-holders together. Half that number are category "A" holders. The Conservatives say that this number should be cut down. But by how many—by 500, 1,000, 2,000, 2,500? Even so, the amounts are very small. It would not solve the problem at all.
Of course, the main immigration is of dependants of people already here. But all Parties agree that we must allow families to be united, and to prevent this would lead to more serious social problems. The Government have already restricted dependants so far as possible. How is it proposed to have further restrictions and yet to allow families to be united? The Opposition say—and Mr. Heath said this in York on September 1 —that every dependant must be justified on humanitarian grounds. But how do we provide further justification for a wife or a widowed mother or a dependant father over 65? The noble Lord, Lord Brooke, suggested, I think, that the age for children should be lowered to 1?. But I should have thought that that would not affect the numbers very greatly. After all, as my noble friend Lord Stonham 448 said, half the children who come in are under 10 and the remainder are spread evenly over the ages from 11 to 15. So although I am sure this is a suggestion which should be considered, I doubt whether it will affect the numbers by very many. It sounds good, and I am sure that when it is put over by Conservative speakers it sounds good to audiences. Of course, I acquit the Conservatives in any way of trying to "vote-catch" on this; I know that they are constructive and sincere suggestions, but when one looks into them there is really nothing in them at all.
There is also the question that permits should be limited to 12 months at a time, for a specific job, with a specific employer, at a specific place. This is another of the Conservative suggestions. Again, how will this operate in the case of professional people with the category "B" vouchers? In those cases a preliminary interview is essential; in fact it is inherent in the skilled nature of the job. It is impossible to take on a doctor in a hospital unless he has had an interview. One half of the numbers admitted are in this category.
There is also the really astonishing Conservative suggestion that Commonwealth immigrants should be treated more like aliens. My noble friend Lord Stonham alluded to this, and of course quite rightly said that it was unacceptable. If one did this one would have to do one of two things. First, one would have to reduce the number of alien Workers to the immigrant ceiling for the "A" and "B" vouchers, which would mean a severe restriction on foreign workers admitted for necessary work and with considerable effects on industry, in particular the huge catering industry. Also, clearly this will be forbidden when we enter the E.E.C. Secondly we should have to allow the numbers from the Commonwealth to increase substantially, since in alien control there is no limitation, the numbers being regulated by the demands of the labour market.
The Opposition have also suggested that the immigrants in this alien control should register. I should have thought that this would require considerably more civil servants. The Opposition are always saying that there are too many civil servants already. It would also place an undue burden on the police, who already 449 have considerable responsibilities. What would be gained? Most immigrants are law-abiding people, and for those who are not there is already provision for deportation under the 1962 Act.
We then come to the question of repatriation. Here the Opposition say that those immigrants who wish to return to their countries of origin will be eligible to receive assisted passages from public funds, although of course they emphasise that those who wish to stay here have the right to do so. The numbers applying for repatriation would obviously depend on the size of the grant, but I doubt whether the numbers would be very great. These immigrants have come here because they cannot get jobs in their own countries. I should imagine that substantial aid would be required to help those countries if they are to re-absorb any large number of returning immigrants.
I do not know whether the cost to the taxpayer of this repatriation programme has been worked out. Probably it has, because the Conservatives always pride themselves on being rather good about money matters. So I think in fairness to themselves they should say what it will cost. They should give the voter and the taxpayer at least an idea of what it will cost the country, and then we could consider it for what it was worth. In my view, it is clearly a non-starter and provides no real solution to the problem. The only practicable policy is that adopted by the Government, and I am certain that if the Conservatives were in power they would do the same.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ LORD ILFORD
My Lords, I take part briefly in this debate, year by year, in order to ask a question about the Accommodation Agencies Act, to which I have never yet received a satisfactory answer. This little Act is a modest piece of legislation which was introduced by myself when I was in another place. I remember that it was a Ten-Minute Rule Bill, so it has the distinction not often attaching to Ten-Minute Rule Bills of having got on to the Statute Book. The Act aims at combating a rather mean and contemptible type of fraud which is practised upon members of the public by persons holding themselves out as estate agents. The original period for which the Act was to remain operative 450 was five years. That period expired in 1958 and for ten years we have continued it, year by year, under the Expiring Laws Continuance Act.
The question I want to put to the noble Lord this afternoon is this. Why is it, if this Act has been found useful for more than ten years, that it cannot be made part of our permanent law? It is apparently still a piece of legislation which has its uses, and I should have thought it might well now be rewarded for its long service by being made a part of our permanent law. I hope that the noble Lord, in his reply, will tell me that that is the intention of the Government.
§ 4.47 p.m.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, may I return to the main subject of the debate we have had this afternoon? I hope the noble Lord, Lord Foot, will not be surprised when I say how much I agree with almost everything he said, and the way in which he said it. I doubt whether the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, will be surprised when I say that there was a great deal in his speech, to which I listened with interest, with which I did not agree.
The first point on which I did not agree with him was in his disappointment that these general control of immigration Acts have not become a permanent part of our legislation 'but are dealt with annually in this manner. I very much hope that they will never become a permanent part of our legislation, because I hope that it will be possible in the not too distant future to abolish every form of restriction on immigration into this country. I accept fully that at the moment this is not possible, and I am not in any way suggesting that the Government are doing wrong in most (but not all) of their forms of restriction on immigration. But I should be unhappy to see any of these matters we are discussing today looked upon as something which is an inevitable and permanent part of our society.
I cannot help feeling that this view must be held very strongly by all those in this country who take pride in our old and great tradition of "the open door", welcoming into our midst strangers from other countries; people with different cultures, with different backgrounds, who for 451 one reason or another find that life here offers to them personally attractions which life in their own countries does not offer. After all, my Lords, as a result of that "open door" policy we have had in our midst such people as Karl Marx, Garibaldi; or, going further back, Erasmus; we have had the Flemish weavers, the Huguenot craftsmen, the French emigrés from the French Revolution—a whole mass of people who have enriched our society and our economy. Anybody who has any sense of history must surely deplore a state of affairs where we have, for unfortunately good reasons, to put an end to that. Therefore, I hope that this is only a temporary ending of this free "open door" entry that we have so long cherished and been proud of.
I think not only those who share the views I have expressed but those who have any real feeling for the Commonwealth must deplore any legislation on our part which makes it harder for people of the Commonwealth to come here. All of us who speak on these matters pay lip service to the Commonwealth. Many of us, I know, pay far more than lip service. But we cannot deny that the Commonwealth immigration Acts of different kinds that we have had recently have put a greater strain on the real meaning of the Commonwealth than has almost anything else that has happened since the Commonwealth first made its appearance.
The third reason for deploring this, I repeat, necessary legislation must be felt by all those who believe that it is the duty of any individual and any collection of individuals forming a community, forming a country, those who are relatively rich, to help in such ways as they can those who do not enjoy such a high material or high cultural standard of living. The best contribution that we can make from this country is to welcome those who come from overseas, and particularly from Commonwealth countries with lower standards of living than ours, and share with them the things we enjoy, without question, rather than jealously guarding them to ourselves and saying: "No, keep out; if you come in there will be less for me". For all these reasons we must all feel hope that any legislation which restricts entry into this 452 country must never be of a permanent kind.
I give credit to the Government for much that they are doing now to improve the position of immigrants in this country. But they are not doing enough. They are doing more than has ever been done before, and for that I am grateful, but far more is needed, and far more would have been needed even if it had not been for the violent expressions of abhorrent racialism which we hear from apparently responsible people in this country to-day. Many of those who give vent to these expressions of opinion cannot possibly realise the feelings of those about whom they are speaking, the effect it must have on those strangers who come into this country, nervous, frightened, not knowing what they are going to find, when they read about these things and hear about these things on the radio. I do not believe that the people who use these expressions and make these speeches can possibly realise how infinitely harder their words are making the task of those whose job it is and whose desire it is to integrate these newcomers into our society in a way that I think everyone in this Chamber feels must be done, for the newcomers' sake and for our own sake too. Therefore I hope that the Government will increase their efforts, and increase their realisation of the urgent need to do more along the path on which they have already started and for which, as I say, I give them credit and thanks.
Basically, what we need is to know more about this problem, to know what are the reasons for racial tension, for mistrust, for misunderstanding leading to fear and hatred. We must have more research into these causes. I declare my interest here. I am Chairman of the Institute of Race Relations, a body which for the last ten years has been working, on restricted but generously provided funds, to try to provide some of the answers; and we have some of the answers, and we are going to find more. But there must be more research, not only through such institutes as I have described but also through the universities and places of learning. The Government, I know, are making funds available. I will not go into the arguments we have had in the past as to how those funds should be spent, but I press my noble friend, when he replies, to give 453 some indication how it is his Department's intention to spend such money as is available for research, how soon we can expect to see this money being used positively so that we can get some results from it rather than just promises that one day it will be there and somebody will make some use of it.
In addition to finding out more about the causes, we can make greater efforts than we do at present to promulgate the knowledge which already exists. A lot of knowledge exists already; and it is extraordinary and very saddening to see how, in spite of it, there is so much ignorance—one might almost say in certain quarters wilful ignorance—of the true facts of the case. For instance, many people still believe that immigrants contribute a larger proportion of their number to the criminal population than does the native population. That is quite untrue; statistics disprove it. There are many people who think that the children of immigrants are intellectually inferior to the native children, that their scholastic record is lower. That is quite untrue. There are many people who think that the immigrant population takes more out of the social services than they contribute by way of taxes. That is also completely untrue.
§ LORD BROOKE of CUMNOR
My Lords, if the noble Lord will allow me to interrupt him, I think he really should not draw attention to that without equally drawing attention to the fact that the age grouping of immigrants is wholly different from the age grouping of the native population. If the immigrants included as many old people as the native population, then clearly the figures would be radically different.
§ LORD WALSTON
Of course, my Lords, if there were different proportions of different people the figures would be absolutely different. All I am saying is that, given to-day's proportions, given the number of immigrants there are in the country to-day, it is manifestly untrue and misleading to suggest—and I am not for a moment suggesting that the noble Lord does such things—that the immigrant population take more out of the social services than they put in. It is purely a statement of fact. If they all happened to be over 65 or under 15 the picture would be very different. I am dealing with the facts as they are, not as 454 they might be in an entirely non-existent, hypothetical situation, and these are the facts which I hope the Government will help to promulgate among the people who at the moment are entirely ignorant of them.
But, above all, I hope that the Government will give help, as they are already doing, but increased help, to all those engaged in social work in the areas where the immigrant population is the most difficult and presents the greatest challenge, the people who are struggling with inadequate housing, slum conditions, schools which are too small and too badly equipped for the needs of the population, concentrations into black ghettoes of the immigrant population. These are very difficult problems, and much very good work is being done, but far more help is needed, and can only come from the Government, to help those local authorities and those individuals and private organisations that are making such a fine contribution to this problem.
Finally, I hope that people increasingly will realise that those who come into this country from outside, ever though we have for the moment to restrict their numbers and their entry, when they do come here are regarded by the great majority of the British people in the same way as we have always regarded those who come to our shores, as welcome, as people whom we are glad to see, as people who play their part in the economy of the country; who help, whether it be in the National Health Service hospitals, whether it be as bus conductors, whether it be in skilled, semiskilled or unskilled jobs, in the economy of the country and in the life of the country. And I believe that the voices of those who are raised against them, who wish to push them out and send them home against their will, or to keep them out, are the voices of a quite small minority which the great mass of the people of this country despise.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ LORD ROYLE
My Lords, when I came into the Chamber this afternoon I had no intention of participating in this debate. As a Member of another place and of your Lordships' House for some years now I have participated in this kind of debate on many occasions, and I am drawn to my feet this afternoon largely because some of the things that have 455 already been said to-day have attracted my attention. May I say straight away that in my opinion the House has just listened to a remarkable speech from my noble friend Lord Walston, with every word of which I am in complete agreement. I could not possibly have expressed it as well as he has.
On a subject such as Commonwealth immigration, into which this debate has developed this afternoon, I suppose that the question is not so much one of political thought as of an attitude of mind. Of course it happens that attitudes of mind often dictate our political thought, and it may well be that because, in the main noble Lords on the other side, and Conservatives generally, have a different attitude of mind from those who sit on these Benches we find ourselves at cross-purposes in these matters. I am not going to try to repeat what my noble friend Lord Walston has said, because I feel that he has been completely convincing, and I am certain that what he has said is shared completely by the best and the deepest thinkers among our people.
My noble friend Lord Stonham opened this debate with a most moving and, I thought, convincing speech. And I am not going to try to raise temperatures, because I feel that the debate has been conducted in the right mood and the right spirit. I regret it when temperatures are raised in this matter. The temptation is great, particularly remembering some of the things that have been expressed, not so much in either House but in the country during this autumn. I get "hot under the collar" about this subject, but I will not be tempted this afternoon.
With some of the things that the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, said I am in complete disagreement; but I have some sympathy with one thing that he said, on the question of doctors from the Commonwealth engaged in practice in this country. He said, and I think rightly, that many of them could be rendering a much greater service in the countries from whence they came. I remember an African doctor who had a large practice in my old constituency where he was well respected. One day he came to visit me at the House of Commons. It so happened that my noble friend Lady Summerskill (as she is now) 456 met us over a cup of tea. I remember her putting to him this point that he could be of greater service in Nigeria than he was in Britain at that time. I supported her in this. In due course he accepted what we had said and he went back. At the moment he would be doing a much bigger and better job in Nigeria than he could possibly do in this country.
But so far as the general question of doctors and nurses who come to this country from the Commonwealth is concerned, the trouble is that at the moment we in Britain could not do without them. I was told a few weeks ago that in one hospital in Greater London 65 per cent. of the nursing staff come from the Commonwealth. If this is so, how could we possibly replace them if they were all to go back, or if we were to impose such restrictions as to prevent nurses, training and trained, from coming to this country? And what applies to the medical services applies equally, of course, to transport services and the like. Therefore I am with my noble friend Lord Walston in sincerely hoping that, although this is not the time for permanent legislation, and that we should continue treating this measure as being within the terms of the present Bill, as something temporary, we might look upon it in a quite different light in the days to come.
I have one other matter to raise which does not concern this country but has reference to this great problem. Quite recently I was in Australia. I am worried that Australia, a part of the white Commonwealth, as we call it, takes no part in helping to solve what is a great problem and a burden on our shoulders at the present time. The Commonwealth country of Australia is screaming for immigrants, and wherever one goes one finds there immigrants from every country on the Continent of Europe, in all kinds of jobs. Yet, to all intents and purposes, the bar is up against coloured immigrants; and the Australians do not hesitate to say so. This is a kind of prejudice that I, for one, cannot understand. I hope that it may be possible for this matter to be on the agenda at the forthcoming Prime Ministers' Conference, to see whether our friends in the Commonwealth, in countries like Australia, cannot assist in regard to this vast problem. Surely, it is possible to convince countries like Australia that our 457 friends from the coloured Commonwealth can be a tremendous asset to them.
I have only one other point to make. It is one that I have made in debate in both Houses and that I tried to make, many years ago, to successive Home Secretaries. It has always been of grave concern to many of us that our coloured Commonwealth friends settle in certain areas of the country. It comes about very largely because originally they settled, and friends and relatives come and join people they know are in homes and in employment in certain parts of the country. My mind goes back to seeing the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Saffron Walden, when he was Home Secretary, on more than one occasion and suggesting that big thinking was needed with regard to dispersal and integration. The immigrants from the Commonwealth are seen because of the colour of their skin. The mass of aliens that have come into our country, and people from the white Commonwealth, are not seen because they look like us.
Therefore, not only do great masses of people in one area create a problem, but people begin to get very concerned about it. I should have thought that big thinking, long-term thinking, is necessary on this matter. I should have envisaged—and this is what I said to the Home Secretary at that time—that if there could be consultation between the Government (the now Ministry of Employment and Productivity should be brought into it) and the local authorities, some assurance could be given that accommodation and employment could be found in certain areas for many Commonwealth immigrants. Then, when they arrived at the ports, the immigration officers could say to them, "Where do you intend to go?". The reply might be, "Wolverhampton", or "Notting Hill". The immigrant would be asked why. "Well, I have a cousin there, and he has promised to look after me." And if he were then asked, "If we were able to show you a town or village in Britain that has not many coloured immigrants, would you be prepared to go there?", I am sure that hundreds would accept that invitation. I am sure of another thing: that there are very many people already in these huge ghettoes who would be prepared to go to other parts of the country.
458 As I drive about the country there are counties in which I never see a black face in days—the Eastern counties, the Southern counties, many parts of my native Lancashire even—and I believe they would be accepted in those places if they could be properly integrated and dispersed. This is a matter which no Government has yet got down to, and if we could get down to it it would relieve a great deal of our anxieties. I have spoken longer than I thought I would. Because it would be repetition I do not think I have anything else to say, but I hope that my noble friend Lord Stonham may consider some of these things as possibilities in relieving the burden which is upon us.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ LORD HANKEY
My Lords, without prolonging this debate more than is absolutely essential I would, with great diffidence, say one word on this subject. I have been rather shocked at the impression which has got about—I hope it is false—that the immigration of these many people from the Commonwealth has largely taken place without any manpower planning. It does not seem to me— and I hope I am wrong and I ask to be corrected—that any adequate thought has been given to what sort of jobs we are going to train them for, if they are not already trained; where they are going to be found jobs; where they are going to be found houses; where there are going to be schools for the children. There does not seem to me to have been the sociological and manpower planning which is necessary for a huge operation of this sort. When that sort of planning falls down—and even if it has taken place it does not seem to have been very successful—then inevitably perhaps with the local population but certainly with the immigrants, is created.
I should like to say how warmly I share a great many of the views expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Walston. It is very important that if we have so many newcomers to our country they should be welcomed into our midst. But it is hard to welcome them when they find it difficult to get jobs and to get themselves adequately housed. I agree with what noble Lords have said in this debate about the splendid contribution many of these people are making, notably in the medical professions, the hospitals and other places, to social work and to the working of our 459 economy; but I think that more is necessary.
My Lords, I want to draw attention to one feature which has been only lightly mentioned in this debate, and that is the problem of the concentration of these immigrants in certain places. Having served in the Diplomatic Service in a great many posts abroad in Europe and the Middle East, I cannot help looking at this subject and recalling the difficulties about minorities which have arisen in other countries. For the moment we look at our immigrants as immigrants, but very soon these people will be minorities. If I look at what has happened on the Continent of Europe and in the Middle East, I find, on the whole —and this is a generalisation which is probably not exactly true anywhere—that as soon as a minority attains about 10 per cent. of the population in any one area—and I repeat in any one area— somehow it begins to cause ill-will. This is not a matter of colour; it is not a matter of race— though it can be a matter of either—or of religion. It is a matter of "differentness": I do not know how else to express it.
That is true about Austrians in Italy; about Germans in Rumania; about Jews or Germans in Poland. It is true of Slovaks in Hungary and of Hungarians in Yugoslavia. It is true of the Greeks in Egypt. It does not matter where you look, you find the same sort of phenomena beginning to appear when any large concentration of a minority appears. It is as it there were a sort of "social rejection symptom", such as heart doctors have to deal with. The minority begins to bond itself together and the body sociological all round it begins a sort of rejection symptom. It is terribly important that we should not allow this to happen in our country. I do not quite know what the answer is, because, so far as I know, we have no legal means of ensuring that these immigrants do not band themselves into huge communities. In fact, the idea of any departure from the sort of freedom that we have in our country in order to make that impossible is rather repugnant.
I have always felt that we ought to be treating this matter in a rather large way, such as the noble Lord, Lord Royle, mentioned. Perhaps there ought to be 460 some consultation with the local authorities. Perhaps there ought to be local committees set up who will make it their duty to assist the integration of the immigrants and the spreading of personal friendships between them and the populations among whom they are going to live. Then perhaps they will not find it necessary to band themselves together in the sort of ghettoes which it seems are almost bound to lead to trouble in the long run, and which we do not like to see in our country. I have tried to deal with the question in as uncontroversial a way as possible because I believe that we have not yet reached the end of the sociological studies which are necessary to deal successfully with this problem. I was most interested to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Walston, of the studies which are being undertaken under his ægis; I should like to see them carried a good deal further. I hope that we shall succeed in arranging a satisfactory relationship with the immigrants and that they may be made to feel completely at home.
§ 5.21 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I agree with my noble friend Lord Royle that this debate has been conducted in the right mood and spirit. It has taken its expected form. For example, predictably the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, mildly reproved me for not dealing in my speech with three-fifths of the Bill. I say "predictably" because I felt it best to concentrate on what I regarded as the most important subject, knowing that I should be asked to deal in winding up with the other points. Predictably also, the noble Lord, Lord Ilford, asked his usual question, and has then wisely departed to read the answer in Hansard to-morrow morning.
I can now give the noble Lord, Lord Ilford, the assurance in regard to his very valuable Act that there is still a need for the legislation and that the need will almost certainly continue to exist for the foreseeable future; and certainly when opportunity arises we shall embody it in permanent legislation. As for the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act, there again we have the same danger to meet, the flood of horror comics from abroad. I understand that the American industry is still churning them out and this Act has been 461 completely successful in keeping them from young people in this country. If it were removed, they would flood in again. The only question which arises is whether we should consider a longer extension of the Act or make it permanent, but the Home Secretary certainly is satisfied that the Act will be needed indefinitely.
With regard to the Licensing Act, the position is not quite the same because, as the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, knows, we have dealt with part of it by excluding off-licences in a Private Member's Act which was put on the Statute Book in 1967. With regard to the rest of the licensing planning areas, we are not yet in a position to bring in a Bill for permanent legislation. The only thing I can say at this stage is that all the planning areas wish to continue, except possibly one at Sheffield where there may be some change. As the noble Lord is aware, the Committee which he set up recommended that there should be planning areas not only in the former bombed areas, and this matter is under consideration.
On the general subject of the continued delays in making this legislation permanent, I can only say that I regret it. There are difficulties, as I am sure the noble Lord is aware, as he himself has experienced them, and no doubt he shared the same views. I cannot promise that we shall be putting all or any of these matters in permanent legislation in the next Session. Certainly it will not be done in this Session, but I can assure your Lordships that we have these matters very much in mind.
When I set out in my speech to deal with immigration, in the main Commonwealth immigration, I was trying to establish what I regarded, and still regard, as indisputable facts. I think that above all else we ought to accept certain common denominators. After all, there is going to be a Select all-Party Committee, and therefore we ought to come to agreement, not only on the facts and figures, but on what is possible. I was therefore somewhat disappointed with Lord Brooke's reaction to many things. Although by no means challenging anything I said, he did not accept what I regard as the main need in this matter. He also misunderstood, or misquoted, me in one or two cases, as he will realise when he 462 reads my speech in Hansard. I know that it is always difficult to get the exact words, but certainly I did not, and do not, regard it as unreservedly a good thing to bring in doctors and other professional people from Commonwealth countries. I am well aware how desperately they are needed in countries where the number of patients to a doctor may be as many as one hundred times the figure in this country.
My only reference then was to quote what Mr. Heath had said, indicating that one cannot get rid of this type of voucher-holder because he is far more important in taking care of the immigrants in this country. As a matter of principle I do not accept that, but I was dealing, and I was on a fair point, with the position where one expresses noble sentiments and at the same time demands great reductions in the number of immigrants. That is not honest. This is the point I was then making, and shall certainly, if necessary, make again since it is a true point. So far as doctors and other professional people are concerned, my own view is that there are disadvantages in bringing doctors over here, but it is doubtful whether there is not also a balance of advantage because they get post-graduate training here which otherwise they most probably would never get in any other country. If they stay here, I agree that they are lost to their own country, but I believe that most of them come for a short period, maybe two, three or four years, and then go back, much better equipped to deal with the problems of health in their own countries.
There is another point on which I should like to set the record straight. I did riot say, as the noble Lord appeared to think, that we could look forward to an early decline in the numbers of immigrants. What I said was that on the basis of the figures I had given, which are the facts, and in view of the deductions I drew from them, we could look forward to a steady decline over the next six or seven years. That is a somewhat different thing.
The noble Lord, Lord Brooke made some positive proposals. First of all, he said that we should cut down the number of vouchers, and all vouchers should be for a limited period and that it was Mr. Heath's proposal that they should be on 463 a year-to-year basis. It is a totally different thing for an alien coming over here from Belgium, Holland or Italy, for perhaps a year or less, as compared to a Commonwealth citizen from India, Pakistan or the Caribbean, coming thousands of miles to this country. He cannot possibly come that distance with the idea of being employed for only a year or two. The fare is an enormous cost to him, which in some countries often involves perhaps the whole family or village "chipping in" in order that he may come over. The main objection to this idea is that it is quite impracticable. The two terms of entry are not comparable when Commonwealth citizens come here for permanent settlement. This suggestion of a year-to-year entitlement up to a total of four years would be ineffective in reducing the numbers, at the expense of keeping these workers on probation, as it were. I do not think anyone would suggest that they should stay in that condition of suspense for years. I really do not think that that proposal is a starter at all.
§ LORD BROOKE OF CUMNOR
My Lords, the noble Lord has agreed that some 20 per cent. of the voucher holders now coming in are doctors. He said that they must come in with a right to stay here permanently. Yet the Royal Commission said:We recognised that this country has a continuing duty to provide postgraduate training for a substantial number of doctors from overseas, but we thought that the current excessive reliance on the services provided by young doctors from overseas was bad for them and for their countries and was tending to distort the staffing pattern of British hospitals.Unless the noble Lord rejects that finding of the Royal Commission, he must accept that it would be reasonable that these doctors should come over here for a limited period.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I do not reject what the Royal Commission on Medical Education have said. This is certainly a matter for concern and there is no question about that. The Secretary of State for Social Services is studying this matter carefully. Of course, a considerable number of these doctors go back after a period. But I submit that the position of 500 or 600 doctors who come over in this way is very different from the position of the majority of 464 voucher holders, and certainly from the position of the majority of immigrants.
I now come on to what I regard as the crux of the matter—the difference of opinion which appears to exist between the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, and Mr. Heath, the Leader of the Conservative Party. I am not saying that this is surprising; indeed I think it is very healthy. But it becomes a little confusing when you try to get some kind of common standard of measurement in these matters. Mr. Heath said, without any kind of equivocation at all, that it would be utterly wrong—I am not actually quoting now, but this is the sense of his words—not to allow a man's wife and children of school age to join him here. That is a statement which I accept, with which the majority of the people in this country agree, and certainly with which the Government agree. Having accepted that, I say that it is not possible, therefore, to make substantial cuts in the number of immigrants, because 90 per cent. of the total are already dependent wives and children and they are entitled to come.
While I should have thought the noble Lord accepted that, he then suggested, first of all that there should be a withdrawal of unconditional entry for sons and daughters over 13, which he alleged would lead to a 25 per cent. reduction in the number of children; and, secondly, that we should also put dependants on quota. Both of those suggestions are in diametric and direct opposition to what Mr. Heath said, because in both cases—
§ LORD DERWENT
My Lords, do not the Government already restrict the age at which children can come? This is exactly the same. My noble friend is only suggesting that the age should be lowered slightly.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I know that the noble friend of the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, needs a little help on this, but the noble Lord must have misheard me because I was quoting Mr. Heath. Children of school age must include children up to 15, but the proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, was to exclude children over 13. That is a proposal which I think would be contrary to the Declaration of 465 Human Rights, because it would add to the break-up of the family. The other proposal, of putting a quota on dependants, would mean depriving the father of the company of his wife and children. You really cannot get away from that.
§ LORD BROOKE OF CUMNOR
My Lords, I do not very much like the idea of putting on a quota. I mentioned that as a second alternative. But when the 1968 Bill was going through Parliament, the Government repeatedly said that they were not preventing Kenya Asians from coming to this country; they were only delaying their coming. The noble Lord cannot have it both ways.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I do not want it both ways. I merely want to keep to the one point, which apparently the noble Lord does not want to keep to. I am talking about a man's wife and his children of school age. I say that these proposals would mean, in the first case, depriving a man of his children, and, in the second case, depriving him of his wife, perhaps, and of his children as well, unless he happened to be on the quota. I think that is wrong and, since these proposals are contrary to what I understood was the policy of the Conservative Party, they ought not to be put forward.
If there is a quota, what is it going to be? At present we are admitting something over 40,000 dependants. Is it going to be a 20,000 quota or a 5,000 quota? In any case, it will mean either deprivation or hardship, and how long is it to take? By the time some people came on to the quota the children would be over age and might not be admitted. The more you look at this the more impracticable it is. As I indicated, we are of course watching these figures very carefully and are keeping the situation under continuous review. But our plans at present certainly do not contemplate providing for a quota system.
§ LORD BROOKE OF CUMNOR
My Lords, the noble Lord is criticising me, as he is of course entirely at liberty to do in debate. But he has not answered one question of mine. I said that the numbers still pouring into certain parts of the country are outrunning the capacity of those areas to absorb them. Do the Government agree with that or do they deny it? If the Government agree, then what are they proposing to do?—ap- 466 parently nothing. I was suggesting courses which they might consider taking.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, it is a very old device, when I am really on to a point, to try to get me on to another one. But I am sticking to my point. Of course I am going to answer the question—I have it in my notes here—but I am going to answer it in the right order, and I am, first of all, going to finish with this point.
The noble Lord made the suggestion that withdrawal of unconditional entry for sons and daughters over 13 would mean 25 per cent. less children. My information is that some 6 per cent. of the children coming in now are aged 14, and 7 per cent. are aged 15. So the two combined would mean a reduction of 13 per cent. which, with some 25,000 children, would amount to just over 3,000. This is a proposal that we reject on the grounds which I thought the noble Lord supported, that it would be wrong, as Mr. Heath said, to deprive a father of the company of his children of school age.
I now come on to my next point. The noble Lord said that the numbers pouring into some parts of the country are greater than the capacity of those areas to absorb them, and that the Government are doing nothing about it. My Lords, I do not agree that the Government are doing nothing about it. We are already doing a very great deal to help the areas where immigrants are concentrated in these greater numbers; and, of course, the Local Government Grants (Social Need) Bill, which the noble Lord somewhat airily dismissed, will give them a great deal of help—£3 million in the current year, and £6 million in the next. Added to what the local authorities will themselves contribute, that is no mean sum when it is concentrated. It will go on for four years or so, to which we are committed. If it is very much longer than that it will have to be expanded. I do not deny; but certainly we are doing what we can about it now.
Now I come to the point which was raised, if not directly in this context by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, certainly by the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, and by my noble friend Lord Royle. My noble friend Lord Royle said that if we were able to suggest areas and towns Which had few immigrants and in which houses 467 and jobs were available he felt that many would go there as they came in. My noble friend also said that when they come in and are asked, "Where are you going?" they say, "Wolverhampton" or "Notting Hill". Then, when asked, "Why?", they say, "Because I have a cousin or another relative there. They are going to look after me, and perhaps there is a job there". This is very true; and I think the first step, if we are going to be practical about this, is to try to create conditions in which immigrants at present here will move from dense areas to areas of lesser density, because then "Cousin Fred" will be in the place of lesser density. I think it is going to be an intensely difficult job.
The noble Lord, Lord Hankey, said there had been no planning for jobs. At least two-thirds of the immigrants now here came here during the ten years between 1952 and 1962. They have been here from 6 to 16 years; and in the years 1952 to 1962 planning for almost anything was anathema.
§ LORD HANKEY
My Lords, I was not criticising Her Majesty's Government: I was criticising the general way in which this had been handled.
§ LORD STONHAM
I will go with the noble Lord as far as 1964 on that one. I am not trying to make a strictly Party point on this. I am emphasising the difficulties, that we have quite a big backlog on which to work. The noble Lord mentioned that there had been no sociological planning. Really, sociological planning is intensely difficult when you have the problem virtually up to your shoulders, and this is the position that we are in.
But, my Lords, as far as concerns the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor—and I think that this is the most important point of all—as the noble Lord, Lord Hankey, said, in any area where immigrants have quickly become a minority and the minority is over 10 per cent., difficulties are created. This is the extraordinary thing. We hear so much about Wolverhampton. I think that in relation to the entire population of Wolverhampton the number of coloured immigrants is no more than 6 per cent. This is over the whole population of the town; and that is less than 10 per 468 cent. The noble Lord might argue, "But that is not an area. I am talking about the area of streets where they are concentrated"—and this emphasises the difficulties.
The noble Lord, Lord Foot, devoted his speech to the 1968 Act and the position of the Kenya Asians. The noble Lord referred to the figures, and spoke of "the flood". He said that the flood was created by panic, and he seemed to think that it was a Government panic or a Parliament panic. My Lords, it was nothing of the kind. For years—I am quite sure that this was so when the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, was Home Secretary—something between 6,000 and 7,000 Kenya Asians were coming here each year for permanent settlement. There was no panic: we knew it was going on. There was even no panic, so far as the Government were concerned, in 1967, when in the latter part of the year the numbers escalated. The panic occurred in Kenya, and was a direct result of certain irresponsible speeches which were made in this country by, in the main, prominent Members in another place. The Press printed them and, of course, there was a panic. It did become a flood; but the point was that, however it was created, it was a flood that Parliament at that time, or the great majority of Members of Parliament, agreed had to be stopped. That is really the situation. The noble Lord said—
§ LORD STONHAM
May I just finish what I have to say on this subject? The noble Lord said that if we had kept our nerve the Kenya Asians' difficulties would never have arisen. I think we kept our nerve, but we really could not go on contemplating the situation which had then arisen, which the noble Lord well knows was an entirely false one and did not properly represent what we now know to be the true views of the Kenya Asians.
§ LORD FOOT
My Lords, I must have failed to express myself on this point, because the noble Lord has clearly misunderstood me. I entirely agree that the panic was in Kenya. The panic was among these people. The point I was making was that it was a panic, that they were coming to this country in these 469 numbers because of their fears and apprehensions that they would be locked out, and that the way to have answered their fears and their apprehensions was to have removed those fears by giving them the assurance that they were never going to be locked out.
§ LORD STONHAM
My right honourable friend the Home Secretary, my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor and, in Committee in this House, even I myself explained all the difficulties and the actions taken that were thought right and proper at the time—and I am quite sure that events have proved that they were right and proper at the time.
The noble Lord has relied a great deal on a report which was made by Mr. Martin Ennals. That was made by Mr. Ennals on a visit to Kenya between May 26 and June 8. I agree it was a very conscientious report, but I doubt very much that less than two weeks is sufficient time to be quite certain that there should be placed on it such reliability as the noble Lord placed on it. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary, in debates on the Bill, made the position perfectly clear with regard to numbers. He said:It is not possible to make an exact account, but, having looked at many figures, I am for the purpose of this Bill taking the figure of at least 200,000 in East Africa as a whole."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, 27/2/68, col. 1246.]My Lords, it is not only Kenya. So far as figures are concerned, we now believe that 167,000 was somewhat of an overestimate, but we are certain that the figure of 67,000 given by Mr. Ennals is far too low, and in our view fails to have regard to the fact that of course a good many of the children have Kenya citizenship, but if they were to leave they would almost certainly leave with their parents. In our view the correct number may be about 120,000. This is the view of the High Commission.
§ LORD FOOT
My Lords, I wonder if I might ask the noble Lord to be good enough to say whether the Government will publish the way in which their figure is arrived at, because Mr. Ennals has, has he not, explained how he arrives 470 at his figure. Are the Government prepared to tell us how they arrive at theirs?
§ LORD STONHAM
That is a matter which I will certainly consider.
My Lords, this debate is, as It were, reviewing the past; and the only object in reviewing the past is to see whether we can improve for the future. I do not think we grossly overestimated the size of the problem. It is not necessarily rue, as Mr. Ennals said, that the great majority would in any case prefer to go to India. I think that the Government relied on the best information we could get at the time and I do not think there is any need seriously to question it now. We did not want to exaggerate the true figures. The crucial consideration at the time was the number arriving here. We had to act. In fact we sent two distinguished lawyers over there to make inquiries. After a comparatively short time one came back: there was not enough work for two, because there was so little trouble. We must also consider the fact that vouchers that had been made available were not wholly taken up. We do not know now of any real troubles and tension there.
My noble friend Lord Strabolgi asked, rightly, on the question of repatriation, how much voluntary repatriation would cost. I do not doubt that there are quite a few immigrants here who, if conditions were made sufficiently favourable, and if they were paid sufficient money, would consent to go. I do not know how much a head it would cost, but no doubt the total would be a considerable amount—and we should have to be careful that we were not paying for a holiday at home after which they came back again. I have no idea what Mr. Heath or the Conservative Party have in mind in this respect. I saw one suggestion (I think it was from Mr. Duncan Sandys) of £15,000 a head. Now, £15,000 each for one thousand people is £15 million. If we are talking about something like 30 per cent. of the immigrant population returning home, we are talking about 300,000 people or more. That would be £450 million or £500 million. So I do not think it is "on". Even if it made sense ethically, it certainly does not make sense financially. I must say to my noble friend Lord Strabolgi that I have done my best to answer his question—but with most inadequate information. perhaps 471 the information may come from the other side on another occasion.
My Lords, I come now to the speech of my noble friend Lord Walston. Like my noble friend Lord Royle, I agree in my heart with everything he said. His heart was speaking, and his words, I hope, found an echo in many parts of the House: certainly they did on this side. I noted that he did not want immigration law to become permanent because he hoped that the days might return—and as he said, anyone with a sense of history would long for them to return—when the doors were always open. He deplored the fact that we have had to shut the door to people of other countries, people who have made a great contribution to our heritage. I know that what he said is true; but as he admitted—at any rate by implication—although it is not practicable at present, it may be something still to enshrine in our hearts. But he agreed that in the prevailing circumstances the Government had acted rightly.
As my noble friend said, it is possible that our Commonwealth legislation has put a greater strain on Commonwealth relations than almost anything else. If that is so, it is very regrettable; but I know that Her Majesty's Government have done their utmost to hold the balance between the rights of the Commonwealth citizens, and our duties to them, and our responsibilities to our citizens at home, our duties to them and, indeed, to the immigrants here. I am quite sure that my noble friend's appeal for increased realisation of the urgent need will not fall on deaf ears; neither will his call for research into the causes of unrest and the promulgation of the knowledge that exists. Here we are up against difficulties. The kind of facts that my noble friend gave are not the kind that make news, news that people want to print and promulgate. It is the repeated lie which stands a better chance of getting spread. I know that that means we must redouble our efforts to tell the truth; but I mention these things because they are the difficulties.
My Lords, I have not covered every point but if, when I read the debate, I find that there are matters about which I ought to write to noble Lords, I shall do 472 so. Meanwhile I would thank all who have contributed for their helpful and constructive remarks.
§ On Question, Bill read 2ª, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.