§ 10.44 p.m.
§ LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will restore to the citizens of Australia and New Zealand the free access to, and right of residence in, this country which they have traditionally enjoyed. The noble Lord said: My Lords, in asking the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper I have first of all an interest to declare. I was born an Australian, and though, rather like a latter-day little Lord Fauntleroy, I came to this country at the age of 12, I returned 23 years later. I have interests there. After coming back to this country, I still continue every three years, approximately, to visit that 160 country. I have many New Zealand relations, mainly descended from a younger son of an early generation who, inter alia, when he went out there became the first Speaker of the New Zealand Parliament. So in these triangular visits I combined the two countries, and since my return to this country in 1957 two-thirds of my visitors' book has consisted of visitors from those two countries. That, my Lords, is the reason why I mention those two countries by name, and I have no intention thereby of saying something nasty, by inference, in not mentioning Canada, because many of the arguments which I shall use apply to that country.
§ It is also because I know—or I think I know—what hard feelings have been caused by our immigration laws as applied to Australians and New Zealanders, that I have raised this subject, and it is because I have had all these visitors, because I have lived there, and because I have received the Press reports. I think the relations between our countries have been bedevilled by the Commonwealth Immigrants Act and by the headlines in the Press of "grilling" by immigration officers. Many of these headlines, I agree, are exaggerated, but that does not alter the basic fact that these laws, as applied to these people, are looked on as downright insulting, humiliating and ungrateful, because in international conferences like those of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the United Nations, and so on, if there are any two countries which have consistently supported this country in the difficult arguments and debates it has been Australia and New Zealand.
§ Secondly, in the last three wars that this country has fought they have sent thousands of their volunteers—and incidentally, in case people want to turn this, I would like to mention that they were volunteers officered by their own people—to the assistance of this country, whether it was the South African War, the Great War or the Hitler War. En passant one might say that they sent to Europe to assist us when Europe was the danger point: and now that South-East Asia has taken its place, it is not a particularly honourable time to maintain our geographical positions or to indicate that we cannot help them.161
On this particular subject, if you go to the little village of Cambridge, in New Zealand, and read the inscription on the war memorial there you will see this inscription:
Tell England, ye that mark this monument, faithful to her we died, and rest content.
Classical scholars will know whence that inscription has sprung. But the young New Zealand journalist working on a paper in Brighton, whose paternal grandfather came from Oxford, whose mother came from Hastings—no; he cannot stay. Nor can Nigel Wilson, for example —despite his name—in regard to whom I had correspondence with the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, the other day. He is employed in a business in which his managing director says that if they cannot continue to employ him they will lose export orders. But no: he is not allowed to stay. It has been traditional, ever since these two countries started, for their young to come to this country on a visit, and most of them, except for the very rich, have to combine their visit with a job. If you come that far, and have to work, what is the use of a stamp on your passport for three or six months? As a result, few ever remain.
§ Why then do they come? Because they have grown up to look on this as the Mother Country. I know; I grew up there. But what a state we have got into when one of the Agents General now has to warn the young from his State "Do not look on this as the Mother Country. If you want to keep out of trouble think of her as a rather mean stepmother."
§ LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH
My Lords, I will give the noble Lord the name but I am not going to say it in public.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, I have myself seen all these Agents General. I have discussed it with them. Is it right 162 to say here something that they are ashamed to say in public?
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, my only point about this is that the relationship between my Department and the High Commissioners' Departments are exceptionally good, and they are exceedingly pleased with the arrangements we make. It is therefore very damaging to have a statement made and then to find either that the noble Lord cannot substantiate it or prefers to withdraw it.
§ LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH
My Lords, I do not know what the noble Lord wants me to do, but I will withdraw it and supply him with the name afterwards.
The other attitude, looking at it from the Australian point of view, is the question: who do our rulers think they are, bringing in these rules which put these people in the position in which they find themselves? And it has the effect of causing them to regard it as retrospective legislation; and it is looked on as something fairly arrogant. Perhaps I may illustrate this by a story, which I admit I inflicted on your Lordships about four years ago. It concerns a typist from Melbourne who from the age of 17 to 21 saved up her money for a trip to this country. Eventually she had saved enough. She went to see her parents in the suburbs, and said, "Marge and I are going over to England". Her mother said, "Before you go, dear, do go up to Wogga Wogga and say goodbye to Granny because she is getting on in years". Off the girl went, by plane and train, and other means, and eventually arrived at Wogga Wogga. She said, "Granny I have come to say goodbye". Granny said, "That is very nice of you. And where are you going?" She said, "I am going to England with my friend Marge", and Granny said, "What. You can't go there". "Why not Granny?", asked the girl. And Granny said, "Don't you realise that is where the convicts come from".
My Lords, as applied to these two countries the laws are, I think (though of course I do not expect everyone to agree 163 with me), looked on as being rather stupid. However, the administration of the laws has not caused so much trouble, though there were, to begin with, one or two silly cases. I will refer to them in a minute. However—and perhaps I may say this without having to mention the name of the man concerned—one Agent General said to me that since the meeting they had had with the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, the administration had improved considerably. But again perhaps I may quote from someone who said, "It still means that too much depends on the liver of the immigration officer at the time when he is dealing with the subject".
I think that the question of these arguments depends on how you are going to approach the subject. For example, in the Question I asked the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, in November I quoted a letter from a Mr. Everson, who wrote to me:As a New Zealander I fought hard for Britain in the last war and lost my brothers who willingly sacrificed themselves for their Mother Country. I find it most embarrassing that, now I am in England visiting a sister who is dying of cancer, I have to beg the Home Office to allow an extention of time.The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, very rightly said that in cases like that an extension is automatically given. That is not my point. My point is that people like these should never have to wonder whether they will be permitted to stay.
If you go to Australia, as I did in 1950, and an Election comes along, you vote in it. If your passport runs out, you straight away go and get another one. There is nothing to worry about. Why? Because you are from this country. When thousands upon thousands from this country (it is going to be 72,000 in this year) are accepted over there why, in Heaven's name, cannot we be reciprocal? Why must we be so niggardly over the few people who would like to stay here longer? The people who want to do that are few and far between, and those who do come do so to the advantage of this country. I myself know of a couple of Generals and a couple of Harley Street specialists, for instance. There is another point. Why treat these people like this when 164 you do not control the Southern Irish, who have not always been particularly pro-British? I think the law is not right on this subject. We seem to be going out of our way to penalise our kith and kin—now perhaps a dirty phrase.
Since the publicity at the end of last year, one has learned of a number of cases of irritation caused by the administration. They are small cases. They number only a few, and I should like to mention them. The first and famous one was of the boy, John Brownlie, who was detained for 36 days. I am not interested so much in the details of that case as in the letter that his mother wrote to me afterwards. Instead of being "nasty", and all the rest of it, she was full of gratitude for the kindness of people in this country, for what they had offered to her son, particularly to an officer serving in Germany who had offered him accommodation for as long as he wanted it. In another case, Wayne Watkins was put back on the ship. If the story I heard is true, that is one type of trick which should not be allowed to be played. He was asked whether he liked the country and whether he would work if he was offered a job. He said perhaps he would take it. He was then asked "Where is your work permit?"—and back on the ship he went. That sort of action is silly, if it is true.
There were two sisters who arrived from Melbourne at the same time and in the same circumstances. One had her passport stamped for six months, the other for twelve months. Then, in another case, Mr. Ryan, the Manager of the State Savings Bank of Victoria (these appointments change every three years), filled up all the forms and did everything necessary in Australia. He arrived here, and his passport was stamped for twelve months. Yet his was a three-year appointment.
My Lords, to conclude I should like to make some reference to one or two points in The Times leader on the subject last November. It says:There was a degree of humbug in the Commonwealth Immigration Act of 1962. The purpose of the measure was to restrict the influx of coloured people at a time when the number of incomers seemed to be threatening race relations in Britain. Subsequent events have entirely justified the policy.165 It then goes on later to say—But in 1962 neither politicians nor public were ready to acknowledge openly that they were dealing with a colour problem.My comment on that is that surely now we realise what the problem is.
The article goes on:So restrictions were applied to all Commonwealth countries—coloured and white alike.As an expression of principle this may have been admirable, but as a practical policy it was nonsense from the beginning. It did not fool the coloured members of the Commonwealth, who knew well enough why the Act was passed. And it angered people from the old white dominions. So much so that the six Australian Agents-General in London have protested to their State Governments about the treatment received by Australian visitors to Britain.But sooner or later they"—meaning the Government of Britain,will have to face the central question: does it make any sense to stop Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians coming freely to Britain because there is a colour problem?I think this article hits the nail on the head. It says further:But they"—the Government—would he wiser to reflect that the cause of race relations would be best served at this stage by frank speaking.Honesty demands that the Race Relations Act should be extended because at the moment it does not cover the most important areas of discrimination. It is little more than a token of good intention. Honesty also demands that members of the White Commonwealth should be restricted in their entry to Britain only if their presence here would he likely to cause difficulties.My Lords, honesty also demands that we alter this legislation which is insulting to our heretofore best friends. I implore the noble Lord not to be scared of Tariq Ali or someone like that accusing him of being a "racialist". The Government has alienated New Zealand and Australia about the Common Market; it has let them down by scuttling from the Far East; but it has so insulted them in this matter that it has brought relations to the lowest pitch since bodyline bowling, and that is saying something.
§ 11.3 p.m.
THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH
My Lords, we must thank the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, for having raised this question to-night, and person- 166 ally I should like to say at the outset that I give way to no-one in my regard for Australia and New Zealand. Both countries have fought with us in every war in which we have been involved in this century, and there is a special relationship between Britain and "Down-under". That is one of the most priceless assets of this country, and it would be folly indeed to throw it away. As your Lordships know, we on this side of the House criticise the Government for the precipitate withdrawal East of Suez and the abrupt change of policy which preceded that decision, which is now unfortunately highlighted in the latest Defence White Paper. We also believe that Britain should share in the development of Australia's mineral potential, and we much regret that the Government's mishandling of the economy has led to the voluntary curb on investments in Australia.
It cannot be denied that there is in some Australian and New Zealand circles doubt, to put it mildly, as to the future of their bilateral relationships with Britain. However, I am not so certain that the origin of these doubts lies so much in the restrictions on Australians and New Zealanders taking up residence in this country. I recognise that there is considerable resentment, and this I have on the very best authority. However there is no doubt that large numbers of people from Australia and New Zealand still come to Britain as students and on working holidays, and a number of vouchers are available for those who wish to come permanently in order to work in this country. As the noble Lord has said, the existing restrictions were imposed under the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962, which was, of course, a Conservative measure—incidentally opposed by the Labour Party at the time.
THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH
That is perfectly true. I cannot possibly see how we can put Australians and New Zealanders into a special category exempt from the provisions of this Act, while leaving Canadians, Kenyans and Mauritians subject to it. I do not believe that any responsible Australians and New Zealanders, nor even the noble Lord in his heart of hearts, would expect us to do anything of the sort.
167 This is not to say that the existing regulations should not be administered in a humanitarian and sensible way, as I believe they generally are. Each case should be considered on its merits. I believe that my Australian and New Zealand friends accept the position in general. In fact, I believe that there is some good evidence to show that there is less feeling in Australia about the several over-publicised cases of ill-treatment by the British authorities; and I understand that at official level in Australia there has been fairly general agreement that in most cases the trouble would not have arisen if the individuals concerned has taken the trouble to find out the rules. That comes from Australian officials. This is not the only point. What these people resent is being treated as aliens and not being allowed to work. I think that some noble Lords in this House resent this, too. What is happening does not help to preserve our special kith-and-kin relationship with these countries.
I read with great interest the debate on the Adjournment in another place on June 11, and studied carefully the distressing cases which Mr. Wall listed there. I also read the reply by the Under-Secretary for the Home Department, Mr. David Ennals, and I was glad to see that he said that his right honourable friend was always anxious to mitigate difficulties where they arose and to administer the legislation in as humane a manner as he could. But, of course, it is vital that we should keep a close eye on this matter and make certain that our friends from Australasia are treated with courtesy. Great harm can be done by mishandling even one case, and in my view the Government should maintain the utmost vigilance to ensure that Australians and New Zealanders have no cause for complaint.
I am glad to learn that the next Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference is to meet in January, and I hope that on that occasion the whole question of Commonwealth citizenship will be raised. The whole structure of the Commonwealth has now changed and in many respects present legislation can be said to be out of date. I hope very much that the Prime Minister will be successful in getting this subject put on 168 the agenda of the Conference, and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, will convey this hope to his right honourable friends.
Your Lordships will also have learned that my right honourable friend, the Leader of the Opposition in another place, will soon be visiting Australia, and no doubt this is a subject which he, too, will wish to discuss while he is there. At all events, his visit is proof of the Conservative Party's interest in Australasia and the problems which are of mutual concern to us. Noble Lords will no doubt have read what my right honourable friend said only yesterday on the radio in The World This Weekend. He made his views very plain in that broadcast which is reported in to-day's Times. Since, curiously enough, I do not think it has been quoted during the whole of this afternoon and evening, I think I should quote it now:I said that I would not support any candidate in the Conservative Party at the last election who issued any policy or declaration which inclined towards racial discrimination. That is still my position. In this country everyone—whatever their race, creed or origin —must be treated in exactly the same way before the law.That applies to both debates which we have had this evening.
For these reasons, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, for having given me this opportunity of saying what I have said. I cannot personally see that exemption for Australians and New Zealanders is in the present climate of racial relations a practical possibility. But, as I say, I hope that individual cases will be treated as humanely as possible and that the Government will look at this problem again very seriously. It cannot be set aside on purely legalistic grounds, and in some ways it is almost as serious as that which we have been discussing throughout this afternoon and this evening. I therefore much look forward to the noble Lord's reply.
§ 11.11 p.m.
§ LORD STRABOLGI
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, has raised this matter not for the first time. Of course he feels very strongly about it, and I can understand that. I also have a great many friends among Australians and New Zealanders, and 169 I admire those two countries enormously. The noble Lord, Lord Clifford, justly paid tribute to the great support that Australia and New Zealand gave us through both World Wars. I myself remember the wonderful work done by the Australian and New Zealand Divisions in the Middle East. I also remember the 5th Indian Division, and all the Africans who enlisted to fight in the Middle East Armies. I can understand the plea of the noble Lord, Lord Clifford, for this special relationship and, like the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, I yield to no one in the affection that I have for the countries of Australia and New Zealand. But I think it is absolutely essential that all countries in the Commonwealth should be treated impartially, and the present Government are supporting what the Conservative Government did in this respect.
But I wonder whether the position is really quite so bad as the noble Lord, Lord Clifford, made out and whether—I think the noble Earl alluded to this—there is really quite so much concern in Australia and New Zealand as he would have use believe. Australians and New Zealanders are able to come to this country in increasing numbers as visitors. Also, many of them come on working holidays. They can stay sometimes for three months, sometimes for six months, sometimes for a year. From what figures I have seen, these numbers seem to increase every year. I am very glad that they do and they are very welcome.
On the other hand, the numbers who seek to come and stay here permanently are very small compared with the numbers from the rest of the Commonwealth, and the numbers who are actually turned back seem to be about 100 a year. So one assumes that most of the people from these two countries wish to come here for short stays or on working holidays, and that there are not these tremendous numbers being held back by an unsympathetic Government and by rude, unsympathetic, difficult and perverse Customs officials, as was suggested by the noble Lord. I hope I am right in this, and, if I am, I shall be very glad if my noble friend the Minister will give us some supporting figures to show that, while the noble Lord, Lord Clifford, 170 has every right to feel strongly about this matter he is not really acting with very much justification.
§ 11.15 p.m.
§ LORD AUCKLAND
My Lords, first I must apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, that due to the lateness of the hour—in fact, my last train goes in a few moments—I may not be able to stay for his winding-up speech; but I feel particularly strongly about certain aspects of this subject because my ancestry hails partly from New Zealand. Like my noble friend Lord Bessborough, however, I think that perhaps certain terms of the Question have been overstated. I have made inquiries from some of my friends from Australia and New Zealand who are over here, and they have given varying answers as to the stringency of the regulations concerning how long and under what conditions they can stay. One young lady who works as a secretary to one of the well-known London clubs has been fortunate in the fact that she and her husband can stay more or less permanently, but some of her friends suffer from a number of anomalies. As I understand I it, the immigration authorities have rather wide powers over the passports of those in this country when they go on holiday to, say, the Continent and return; and I think there are a number of people who are anxious to know what the regulations here are and what kind of powers the immigration authorities here have.
The other point of importance concerns those in the nursing profession. There are in this country a number of nurses from New Zealand—I know some of them personally. I have raised this question before, but I wonder whether the noble Lord, as I am doing him the discourtesy of leaving before he finishes speaking, could perhaps write to me setting out the situation here, particularly of those who want to stay on after finishing their training. Because no doubt many of them develop a love and respect for this country, and the) do not always want to be subjected to having their passports renewed, and so on. But, having said that, I think that if we are going to have a Commonwealth then broadly we must do all in our power to make sure that so far as those who come to this country are concerned, provided it is on a definite basis 171 and for a definite purpose, they receive as equal treatment as possible.
§ 11.18 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I think it is somewhat remarkable that, having debated for seven-and-a-half hours and unanimously agreed that we accept the principle that discrimination should be unlawful, I am immediately afterwards met by a request by the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, that we should start discrimination all over again.
§ LORD STONHAM
Discrimination in reverse. I am very glad, therefore, that the other noble Lords who have spoken made it perfectly clear that, as the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, said, everyone must be the same before the law. As the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, may not be able to stay until the end because he has to catch a train—and I think this may be the case with others—I would assure him at once that one simple rule that could be followed by our Australian and New Zealand cousins with advantage when they come here is to be as frank and honest as they can possibly be, and then they will not run into any troubles. I shall proceed to demonstrate that the only cases of which I am aware—certainly the only cases cited by the noble Lord, Lord Clifford—are where people have sought by subterfuge to hoodwink and to dodge round the regulations, and where they have been a bit unlucky—and I think they should be unlucky.
I am grateful to the noble Lord for creating this opportunity for debating this important subject and for giving me the chance of stating in more detail what the facts are. So many really unfair and inaccurate statements are made that it is as well to get the facts right. The noble Lord puts his Question in terms of rights which have been traditionally enjoyed. I must begin by confirming that up to 1962 the right of entry into and residence in the United Kingdom was enjoyed by all British subjects from whatever part of the Empire or Commonwealth they came. Our tradition in this matter has always been and still is one of nondiscrimination. There has never been a time when the inhabitants of Australia and New Zealand enjoyed any preferen- 172 tial treatment over other citizens of the Commonwealth as regards entry to this country. That tradition the Government steadfastly maintain. So that in demanding preferential treatment for citizens of Australia and New Zealand, it is the noble Lord who is breaking with tradition and the Government who are defending it.
When the first Commonwealth Immigrants Bill was introduced the Government of the day (which as the noble Earl reminded us, was of his Party) drafted it in such a way as to apply immigration control to all Commonwealth citizens except those who had certain specified connections with this country. Again that principle has been preserved, although the Act was amended earlier this year so as to extend the scope of immigration control. The present Government are determined to adhere to the principle of applying the control impartially to citizens of all Commonwealth countries.
What does this mean in practice to Australians and New Zealanders? Many of them, I know, dislike having to apply for admission to what they regard as the "Mother Country" instead of being able to enter as of right. I fully understand and sympathise with this feeling; I can assure the House that we make every allowance for it in the administration of the control, and for the ordinary visitor we try to make the necessary formalities as easy as we can. Indeed, we do so. It is grossly untrue to suggest otherwise, and it is grossly unfair to the immigration officers who have to administer the Act. As my noble friend Lord Strabolgi pointed out, this is borne out by the fact that the existence of immigration control has not prevented our cousins from Australia and New Zealand from travelling to this country in increasing numbers.
My noble friend asked me to give the figures. During last year we admitted 81,915 Australians and 24,787 New Zealanders, apart from 121,914 Canadians. For those old Commonwealth countries the total was 228,616, which figure includes, for the three countries, 34,672 returning residents. Let us take New Zealand. Out of the total who came here last year, some 18,000 were New Zealanders. Only 12 persons were refused admission. Twelve out of 18,000! The noble Lord, Lord Clifford, 173 said that it depends on the immigration officers' livers. I think that those figures prove that they have very healthy livers and very good tempers, because they mean that virtually no one was excluded. The great majority of these people come as visitors; comparatively few are immigrants in the true sense of the word, and since the main purpose of the immigration control is to regulate the number of people coming to settle, its existence puts no real obstacle at all in the way of the genuine visitor to this country.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, seems to think that because he is an Australian he is somehow different from me. I have never been able to feel any different from any other Britisher, whether he is living in Australia, New Zealand or the Isle of Man, and I have constantly to tell them so. It is an inability of mine to feel that there is any difference. Sometimes they beat us at cricket and sometimes we beat them; but apart from that I cannot find any differences, and I do not want to make them. The noble Lord said that hard feelings are caused; that it is downright insulting, humiliating and ungrateful; that no countries have more constantly supported this country than Australia and New Zealand. That is very true, my Lords, but I could also say to the noble Lord that those two countries have been consistently supported by the Mother Country, and we do not say a word about their immigration laws; we do not say that they are downright insulting and humiliating, and all that sort of thing, and that they are ungrateful. We leave it to them to please themselves about these things.
Australians and New Zealnders continue to have virtually free access to this country as visitors, students and businessmen. It is true that they have a time limit imposed on their stay and must apply to the Home Office for an extension of their stay if they need it. But on entry the time limit is usually not less than six months, and may be anything up to a year, depending on the individual's intentions and resources. Normally visitors have no difficulty in obtaining an extension of stay for as long as they require. All we are concerned about is ensuring that visitors leave this country after a reasonable period and do not 174 seek to convert a temporary stay into permanent residence.
There has long been a tradition that young people from Commonwealth countries, particularly Australia and New Zealand, come to this country to broaden their experience, often travelling around Europe as well; and they seek to eke out their funds by taking temporary employment. Let me assure the noble Lord. Lord Clifford of Chudleigh—and Australian papers, please copy—that these young people are still free to come on their working holidays and to stay for two or three years, which is as long as they normally require.
Cases do arise from time to time where the application of the immigration control runs counter to the wishes and plans of an individual. We try to administer the controls sympathetically and with a reasonable degree of flexibility, but we cannot overlook deliberate attempts to disregard or evade the control. The law has to be enforced. The general principles governing the control must be maintained. In particular, we cannot allow people who have been admitted as visitors or for other temporary purposes to stay on indefinitely in employment. This is the kind of "wangle" that I mentioned to the noble Lord, Lord Auckland. If we allowed that, we should be depriving other would-be immigrants who have followed the proper procedure and are patiently waiting their turn for an employment voucher.
My Lords, our High Commissions in Australia and New Zealand do all they can to make the requirements of the immigration control known in advance to people in those countries who intend to come to Britain and at the same time to remove unnecessary fears. The British Travel Association, in consultation with the Home Office and our High Commission in Canberra, have recently prepared a leaflet for issue in Australia which should do much to remove misunderstanding, and we have been in touch with the Australian High Commission over some recent cases of difficulty. I gladly acknowledge the helpful and constructive approach of the High Commissioner and his officials to the problems in this field.
175 I mentioned a very tiny number of cases but the noble Lord specified some of them. He mentioned the case of Mr. Nigel Wilson and said how disgraceful it was that we should send home a young man who was helping our export effort. It seem not only wrong but daft. Mr. Wilson was admitted to this country in December, 1965, and again admitted on returning from a holiday in Europe in August, 1966. In March, 1967, he was granted an extension of stay until September last year, when he said his return passage to New Zealand was booked. In May, 1967, he asked to be allowed to remain for permanent employment with R.M.A. Limited, a firm of radio management advisers. In August the chairman asked for his stay to be extended, and on the strength of his assurance that he would then go back when his training was finished, his stay was extended. On March 20 of this year he was given a further extension to September 20, 1968, by which time he will have been here for three years and had his training. Now they say that this is a case of a man with special qualifications and he must stay here. I think that we have done him proud. He has been here for three years and had his training here.
The noble Lord quoted the case of Mr. Emerson. He came over as a visitor and his friends' parents were going to support him. He was admitted for three months and we extended that period three times. Eventually he left the country after being here about one year. He had no difficulty at all in obtaining extensions of stay. All he grumbled about was that he had to apply for them. We are very sorry, but we have the 1962 Act, which we still have to administer.
The noble Lord spoke about the case of poor John Brownlie, but the poor lad contributed to his own problems. He was admitted for six months in July, 1966, and more than 12 months later, in October, 1967, he was reported as 176 missing. Finally, the police found him in hospital. He admitted that he had knowingly and deliberately overstayed and had not approached the Home Office for fear that he might be required to leave. I am advised that he was told that he should get in touch with the High Commissioner or his relatives. Eventually it had to come out because he had to go before a magistrate.
The noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, asked for an assurance that we treat our Australian cousins humanely. Somehow I resent the word "humanely". We treat them as relatives, as cousins. We treat them just as we should hope they would treat us when we go there—possibly better. But we have to administer the 1962 and 1968 Acts. We are not prepared to depart from the policy of applying the Commonwealth Immigrants Act to all citizens of all Commonwealth countries impartially. But this does not in practice inhibit the access of Australians and New Zealanders to this country as visitors or students, which is the principal way in which they exercise the right of free access which they enjoyed in common with other Commonwealth citizens up to 1962. It does not inhibit them from coming here on working holidays in the way I have described. Except in the few cases where they seek to evade the control or break the law, they are in practice as free to come as ever and certainly as welcome. In spite of what the noble Lord has said, we are maintaining the traditions which are the strongest part of the link between the Mother Country and the other countries of the Commonwealth—and long may that continue!