§ 5.41 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE, HOME OFFICE (LORD STONHAM)
My Lords, I beg to move that the Immigration Appeals Bill be read a second time. This Bill is concerned primarily with the fairness of the procedures we adopt within our system of immigration control to determine whether an individual immigrant is eligible for admission. In our view that system works both fairly and effectively at present. We keep the effectiveness of the control under continuous review, and your Lordships are fully aware that we take fresh action 1419 whenever it is found to be necessary and just. Indeed, we put a review of immigration policy in hand as soon as we took office. This resulted, in 1965, in a reduction in the issue of vouchers from 20,000 to 8,500 a year. Early in 1968 we introduced an amending Bill to enable the Government to regulate the rate of entry of people whose United Kingdom citizenship was not derived from any substantial connection with this country.
In the same Bill we made other changes in the law which had then become necessary to maintain the effectiveness of our control over Commonwealth immigration. For example, the 1968 Act restricted the admission of dependent children to cases where both parents or the only surviving parent was here, and contained provisions aimed at the suppression of clandestine immigration. From time to time we have taken administrative action to adjust the rules governing eligibility for admission. The most recent example is the withdrawal of the concession under which a man from a Commonwealth country was allowed to settle permanently in this country if he married a woman who was resident here. We have never lacked the courage to make changes that experience proved necessary, or to insist that such changes left inviolate our refusal to discriminate on grounds of race or colour. We are determined to maintain this policy and, while never allowing ourselves to be driven into adopting new measures for the sake of satisfying public clamour, will always watch the situation closely and take further action whenever it is found to be justified.
The Government are concerned, however, to ensure not only that our immigration control works, but is seen to work both effectively and fairly. It was in this spirit that in 1965 my right honourable friend the Prime Minister announced the Government's intention to submit our immigration procedures to an independent review. That review was undertaken by a Committee under the chairmanship of Sir Roy Wilson, Q.C., President of the Industrial Court. We are greatly indebted to Sir Roy and his colleagues for their valuable Report, on which Part I of the Bill is largely based. The general conclusion reached by the Wilson Committee was that, while immigration control was in general fairly administered 1420 and the great majority of cases which arise at present properly decided, it was not always apparent to immigrants, to their relatives and friends and to the public generally, that justice was being done. They recommended the establishment of a formal system of appeal to impartial administrative tribunals, and a year later the necessary legislation was introduced.
The cost of the appeal system will be quite substantial—about £500,000 a year. There will be some loss of the capacity for swift and decisive action in particular cases which we can achieve at present. There will be an increase in the number of Commonwealth citizens and aliens who have to wait for some time in this country, pending a final decision on their applications for admission or continued stay. But such disadvantages, though they should not be overlooked, do not, in the Government's view, outweigh the advantages of bringing immigration control more fully under the rule of law and so of making it manifest that those affected by it are treated fairly. I would add here that intending immigrants would greatly reduce the risk of delay on entry and still further reduce the risk of dispute if they obtained entry certificates before embarking. I cannot too much emphasise the importance of that.
I propose now to discuss the clauses of the Bill, drawing special attention to the few points at which our provisions depart from the Wilson Committee's recommendations. Where I make no such comment we have followed the recommendations. Clause 1 establishes the appellate authorities for the purpose of the Bill, comprising the Immigration Appeal Tribunal and its adjudicators. Clauses 2 to 5 confer rights of appeal against action taken under the Commonwealth Immigrants Acts, and Clause 14 enables provision to be made for appeals in connection with the admission and removal of aliens, by Order in Council, under the Aliens Restriction Acts. The Home Secretary has laid before the House a White Paper containing a draft Order in Council which shows the provision that we intend to make.
Eventually—I have said this many times before but I will say it again—we shall have permanent and comprehensive legislation for the control of Commonwealth citizens and aliens which 1421 will also cover rights of appeal. The Government have not lost sight of the need for this, but we have not been able to find room for such far-reaching legislation in this Session's programme. As I said last year, and I think your Lordships agreed, it will be helpful to see how the new appeal system works in practice, superimposed on the present system of control, before the two are combined in permanent legislation. Meanwhile there can be no question of aliens being arbitrarily deprived of their rights of appeal, because any Order in Council amending the Aliens (Appeals) Order will, like that Order itself, be subject to the Negative Resolution procedure.
The decisions against which Commonwealth citizens will have rights of appeal under Clauses 2 to 5 of the Bill are, with one important exception, those against which the Wilson Committee recommended that an appeal should lie. The exception relates to offenders who are recommended for deportation by the courts. The Government consider that the balance of advantage lies with the retention by the courts of their present power to recommend offenders for deportation; and we consider that appeals against such recommendations should continue to be heard within the ordinary judicial system.
In accordance with the Wilson Committee's recommendation a person who is alleged to have entered illegally is to have a right of appeal; but to discourage any abuse of this right we have thought it desirable to make it clear on the face of the Bill that once it is established to the satisfaction of the adjudicator that the appellant has entered, or is seeking to enter, illegally, his appeal must fail. Detailed provisions based on this general principle are to be found in Clauses 2, 4 and 5.
Clause 6 enables regulations to be made providing for notice to be given of decisions which are subject to appeal, with a statement of the reasons for such a decision and information about the right of appeal. Clause 7 deals with appeals from an adjudicator's decision to the Tribunal. Subsection (2) of the clause enables the rules of procedure to impose a requirement of leave to appeal. The Home Secretary proposes to provide in the rules that leave to appeal is to be 1422 granted in any case which turns on a point of law, or in which the appellant is making a bona fide claim to political asylum. In other cases the grant of leave to appeal will be a matter of discretion, on which the adjudicators will follow such guidance as may be given by the Tribunal. But the Bill itself specifies two classes of case in which leave to appeal to the Tribunal is not to be required. The first is that in which the appellant holds an entry certificate—again emphasising the importance of the "entry certificate"—and here we are following the Wilson Committee's recommendations. The second is that in which refusal of admission follows from a decision taken by the Home Secretary himself, in which he considers it to be n the public interest that the person concerned should not be allowed to enter thee country until the Tribunal itself has reached a final decision in the case.
Clause 8 is concerned with the functions of the appellate authorities in deciding appeals. The point I want to emphasise here is that the Home Secretary will remain responsible for determining the policy to be applied in the administration of immigration control. This policy will be expressed in the form of "immigration rules" which will be laid before Parliament and published. Under the appeal system these immigration rules will be binding on the appellate authorities, and within the limits allowed by law the Home Secretary will be free to alter the rules as the public interest may require.
Clause 9 prescribes a special procedure for use in cases involving national security. The Wilson Committee expressed the view that appeals in security cases could be dealt with in the same way as other appeals, except that they might need to be heard by specially selected adjudicators; but the Government consider it essential that in security cases the Home Secretary of the day should retain his responsibility for the final decision and that there should be provision in such cases for safeguarding evidence of which the disclosure would be harmful to the national interest. These objects are secured by Clause 9, which provides for the appeals to be heard by a panel acting in an advisory capacity—a panel of independent and judicially-minded people in whom the 1423 appellant can have confidence and whose advice will carry great weight.
Clause 10 gives the Home Secretary a power, which I think will be useful in some instances, to refer a case back to the appellate authorities for their opinion on some fresh matter which has come to notice since the hearing of the appeal. Clause 11 provides for rules of procedure to be made by the Home Secretary. As envisaged in paragraph 149 of the Wilson Committee's Report, the Government propose to bring the appellate authorities within the scope of the Tribunals and Inquiries Act 1958 by an order under Section 10 of that Act. When the rules of procedure have been drafted, they will be the subject of consultation with the Council on Tribunals. Clause 12 and Schedule 3 deal with the release of appellants on bail. Clause 13 authorises seamen who are appealing against a prohibition on their landing to be brought ashore, in custody, for the hearing of their appeals.
Clause 15 empowers the Home Secretary to make grants towards expenditure incurred by voluntary organisations in providing, for people who have rights of appeal under the Bill, both advisory and welfare services. A Working Group representing seven voluntary bodies concerned with the welfare of immigrants drew up, in July last year, a scheme under which those bodies would join in setting up a single advisory and welfare organisation such as the Wilson Committee envisaged. After some further discussion with the voluntary bodies, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary agreed in principle to the proposal for a single organisation providing a comprehensive advisory and welfare service. We have invited the voluntary bodies to continue discussions with the Home Office on the scale of the service to be provided and the arrangements for assistance from public funds.
I come now to Part II of the Bill. The principal provision here is Clause 16, which empowers the Home Secretary to make a deportation order, without a court recommendation, against a Commonwealth citizen who fails to comply with his conditions of admission. A power of this kind was first proposed in August, 1965, in the White Paper Immigration from the Commonwealth: 1424 but later that year the Government decided to set up the Wilson Committee, and we took the view that it would be better to defer legislation enabling Commonwealth citizens to be deported without the recommendation of a court until we could be sure of providing such right of appeal or other safeguard for the Commonwealth citizen as Parliament would consider satisfactory. It is not our intention that this power to deport for breach of conditions of admission should become effective until the appellate authorities are established and a right of appeal to them is available against a decision to deport. And I should perhaps emphasise that this power of deportation applies only to the Commonwealth citizen who has been admitted on conditions. It has no application whatever to those admitted with employment vouchers, or to wives and children admitted for settlement.
The purpose of Clause 16 is to enable the Home Office to enforce conditions of admission without recourse to criminal proceedings. In the present state of the law, the only sanction we can use against a Commonwealth citizen who fails to observe a time limit attached to his stay, or a restriction on his engaging in employment, is to prosecute him for an offence under Section 4(1) of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962. This is a harsh and clumsy procedure for dealing with people, very few of whom are criminals in any accepted sense. The police are obliged in these cases to bring the Commonwealth citizen before a court as a criminal because only a court has power to initiate the process of deportation. But what is needed, as we said in the 1965 White Paper, is a "speedy and effective power" to secure their repatriation without our having to invoke the sanctions of the criminal law. That is what the clause provides.
Clauses 17 to 21 contain various supplementary provisions. The only one to which I need draw special attention is, I think, Clause 17(5), which enables a warrant to be issued authorising entry to premises for the purpose of arresting a person who is liable to detention in connection with the making of a deportation order under Clause 16. There is a similar provision in paragraph 9(2) of Schedule 3, relating to the arrest of appellants who have been released on 1425 bail. Provisions of this kind are necessary if we are to be able to enforce the departure of people who have been at liberty in this country while their cases were being considered by the Home Office and by the appellate authorities.
Clause 22 provides, among other things, for dates of commencement for the various provisions of the Bill to be fixed by Statutory instrument. It is too early yet to say how soon Part I of the Bill can be brought into operation. I know that it will be your Lordships' wish to see a system of appeal in operation at the earliest practicable date; but the establishment of an appeal system depends not only on the passage of legislation, but also on the completion of a great many administrative problems and preparations. I do not want to exaggerate the practical problems involved in setting up the appeal system, but they are considerable. Provision has been made in the Estimates for the coming financial year to ensure that money is available for bringing the system into operation before the end of that year—that is, before the end of the financial year starting on April 1 next. But how soon the necessary resources of manpower and accommodation will be available is less easy to determine. If I may sum up, the principle underlying this Bill is that people from overseas should not be excluded or deported from this country without a full and fair hearing being given to their claims to enter or remain. Your Lordships will find me ready to consider any suggestions that you may put forward in Committee for further improvement of the Bill. This evening I invite the House to record its approval of the underlying principle I have mentioned, by giving the Bill its Second Reading. My Lords, I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a. —(Lord Stonham.)
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ LORD BROOKE OF CUMNOR
My Lords, in my opening words I wish to refer to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, who has explained this Bill with his usual lucidity. This is the last day of term before the Easter Recess. During this period we have had 30 sitting days. My researches have disclosed that on no fewer than 18 of those 30 days Lord Stonham has been speaking for the Government on important business. It is a 1426 remarkable record, and I think that noble Lords in all parts of the House will wish to pay tribute to him.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear.
§ LORD BROOKE OF CUMNOR
This Bill has its origin, as the noble Lord hinted, in the White Paper entitled Immigration from the Commonwealth which was presented to Parliament by the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, in August, 1965. It seemed to me at the time a very soundly based White Paper. I will remind your Lordships of a particular passage which is relevant to our debates to-day. It is paragraph 25:At present a Commonwealth citizen may be deported only if a court has made a recommendation to that effect on convicting him of a crime punishable by imprisonment. The Government regard it as important that there should be a speedy and effective power to repatriate immigrants who in one way or another, e.g., by obtaining entry by misrepresentation or by flouting the conditions on which Grey were admitted, evade the stricter control over immigration that is now envisaged. Without it the effectiveness of the control would be greatly weakened. It is therefore, the Government's intention to seek for the Home Secretary a general power—in addition to his power to act on the recommendation of a court—to repatriate such Commonwealth citizens if he considers the public interest to require it.That was the position taken by the Government in August, 1965. But though the Government regarded it as important three and a half years ago, they have waited all this time before proposing to Parliament legislation to give them this power. It is the power embodied in Part II of this Bill. The reason for the delay, for which the noble Lord gave a euphemistic paraphrase, is that following publication of the 1965 White Paper there was a revolt within the Parliamentary Labour Party against that thoroughly reasonable proposal which I have just read out.
The Government, which up to then had no intention of setting up an expensive machinery for appeals—there is no mention of any such thing in the 1965 White Paper—decided to get themselves out of an embarrassing situation by appointing the Wilson Committee with terms of reference:To consider whether any, and if so what, rights of appeal or other remedies should be available to aliens and to Commonwealth citizens who are refused admission to or are required to leave the country.1427 The Wilson Committee worked fast and well, as one would expect of any committee under that particular Chairman, and their Report was published in August, 1967. Among their other findings the Committee said in paragraph 63:We have been greatly impressed with the desirability of establishing a person's admissibility to this country before he starts on his journey, and we make recommendations to this end in Parts IV and V.Later in our debate I hope that the Government will explain how much or how little they have yet done towards getting a person's admissibility established before he leaves his home overseas and starts on his journey. If only we could make that universal, it would do more than anything else to cut down the distress and frustration of making the long journey and then being turned back on arrival.
Meanwhile, the new power which the Government regarded as important and urgent to take as long ago as August, 1965, seemed somehow to become less and less urgent in their eyes as time went on. Another year and a half after the publication of the Report was let pass before this Bill was introduced. We now have a Bill which incorporates, in Part II, the new powers which, as I have explained, are three years overdue; and in Part I the new appeals machinery for both aliens and Commonwealth citizens which is estimated to cost £500,000 a year. For myself, I would not give nearly such high priority to establishing an appeals system at a cost of £500,000 a year as the Government do—though, admittedly, under pressure. If I were granted £500,000 of public money to use, I believe that it would do much more good if it were spent on increasing the grants to voluntary bodies and local authorities for improving social services and community services in those places where special problems arise through big concentrations of immigrants. That is where the money is needed. We have an unquestioned responsibility to all these people who are already here, much more direct than we have to others who are not in this country at all.
If the Government seek to rebut what I am saying by quoting the statement of the Wilson Committee that opinion among their witnesses was virtually 1428 unanimous in favour of establishing some kind of system of appeals, I reply that of course it was. If they had asked witnesses from the parts of the country about which I have just spoken they would have found opinion virtually unanimous in favour of better community services—just as if, had they asked people what they thought about the tax system, they would have found witnesses virtually unanimous in favour of lower taxes. Government and Parliament have to do what none of those witnesses was called upon to do, and that is to establish priorities in the laying out of public money, which is one of the most important and responsible duties of a Government. I, personally, think that there are many priorities higher than the setting up of an appeals system at the ports. In the event I believe that it will make no perceptible difference to the numbers of people admitted. I have a high admiration for the way the immigration officers do their work. It is difficult and thankless work, and I feel most strongly that those who wish to criticise anything that happens in this field should direct their criticisms against Ministers, whatever Government are in power, rather than against the immigration officers who to the best of their ability are carrying out Ministers' intentions.
When the new system in Part I of the Bill gets going, of course there will be some successful appeals. But that in itself will not prove that the appeals system has brought about a difference, because, human nature being what it is, immigration officers who now in an evenly balanced case give the would-be immigrant the benefit of the doubt are likelier in future to decide doubtful cases the other way, knowing that the adjudicator can be relied on to make further investigations and put things right if the decision of the immigration officer has been too stern. The £500,000 a year will justify itself in so far as it gives confidence and satisfaction to those who succeed on appeal. I do not think that it will give much extra confidence and satisfaction, compared with the present system, to those whose appeals fail. It will certainly lift a painful load of responsibility and unpopularity off the Home Secretary and other Home Office Ministers. I am not suggesting that this is why the Bill is being introduced; I 1429 know that it is not. I can recollect cases where my life as Home Secretary would have been easier if the ultimate responsibility for decision had been on some tribunal and not on me. Yet Ministers exist to carry responsibility and to defend their decisions and policies to Parliament. Weighing up all this, I do not believe that this new appeal system will add as much to human satisfaction and happiness as if the £500,000 a year were spent in the alternative way I have suggested.
Part I of the Bill marks, of course, a fundamental change which the noble Lord did not mention. Entry into this country is at present a privilege, except for certain categories of people from the Commonwealth who have a statutory right under the 1962 Act to come in. If this Bill becomes law, entry will no longer have the status of a privilege; it will have the status of a right for all except those aliens or Commonwealth citizens whom it is decided not to admit, and even they will have a right of their own—the right of appeal against the adverse decision. The Home Secretary will continue to be able to exercise a general control by making immigration rules, as the noble Lord explained. But in so far as he exercises discretion to refuse to admit an alien or a Commonwealth citizen who he thinks ought not be allowed to come, his decision is liable under Clause 8 to be set aside by an adjudicator or by the Tribunal, simply on the vague and unchallengeable ground that his discretion should have been exercised differently. There are grave questions for Parliament here.
I suggest that your Lordships should consider most carefully Clause 8(1)(a). Sub-paragraph (a)(i) presents to the appellate authority a normal justiciable issue:that the decision or action against which the appeal is brought was not in accordance with the law or with any immigration rules applicable to the case.That is a clear issue for appeal. But in sub-paragraph (a)(ii) the appellate authority is given no external guidance whatever, The task for it is to decide whether,where the decision or action involves the exercise of a discretion by the Secretary of State or an officer… the discretion should have been exercised differently".Surely, where the Secretary of State has to exercise discretion either he must be 1430 directly responsible to Parliament for his decision, or that decision can be overridden only by an appellate authority which is given some criteria on which it is to base its overriding judgment. It seems to me intolerable that, in a matter which is not one of fact or of law, but one of discretion, a Minister of the Crown can be overridden by an adjudicator who only needs to say, "I think my ideas on the exercise of discretion are better than the Minister's." I hope that the Government will consider this passage in the Bill very seriously, particularly bearing it mind Appendix III of the Wilson Committee's Report and the behaviour of the so-called Aliens Deportation Advisory Committee in the 1930s, which is not irrelevant to it.
I remember a case where I signed a deportation order against an alien who had slipped into this country via Ireland, and whose presence here I regarded as not "conducive to the public good"—that is the technical term—because he was a known drug addict. He had no right of appeal. I was answerable direct to Parliament for the decision. Under this Bill he could appeal, and I think I am right in saying that his appeal world go to the Tribunal. And the Tribunal, having unfettered freedom and being answerable to nobody, might take a different view and say that it was an insupportable interference with the liberty of this foreign subject if he was not allowed to come and spend a time here, and enjoy his heroin among the sort of people he would gather around him in London. The Government, who have certain responsibilities for law and order and public health, would then be powerless to get rid of such a man.
Noble Lords may also remember a man called Rockwell (now dead, I think) who also slipped into this country via Ireland six or seven years ago. I had to consider his case and I decided that the presence of this man, an alien and an avowed Nazi, was not conducive to the public good, though he had committed no crime on British soil. I believe that the vast majority of British people were grateful to me for using my discretionary power to make him go quickly. But under this Bill he would have had a right of appeal to the Tribunal, and it would then have been perfectly open to the Tribunal to say that this was an arbitrary and oppressive act by the Home Secretary, out of accord with Britain's liberal reputation 1431 for cherishing freedom of expression, however odious the views expressed may be. Had either of those two individuals been Commonwealth citizens and not aliens, it would not have been possible to deport them at all. They had not broken any landing conditions. They had entered Britain lawfully through the Irish Republic. They had not committed any crime.
Now that we are to extend the powers of deportation to Commonwealth citizens who have broken a condition of landing, and now that everyone threatened with deportation is to have a statutory right of appeal, I want to ask the Government seriously, in the light of such cases as I have mentioned, whether the long-standing power to deport an alien on the ground that his presence here is not conducive to the public good should not be extended to a Commonwealth citizen also. I would not have urged this when there was no right of appeal, but now that there is to be a right of appeal the objections to this course fall to the ground. Had a man like Rockwell been not an American, as he was, but a Canadian, say, or an Indian, or a Maltese, I am certain that his presence here advocating Nazi doctrines would have been no less unacceptable to public opinion, but there would have been no means of getting rid of him because he would be immune from deportation.
There is one other point of principle which I must raise with the Government, for the Second Reading debate is the time for points of principle rather than for minor points of criticism of clauses in the Bill. Why do the Government propose in this Bill to discriminate in favour of those wishing to come to this country from abroad, and against British citizens resident here already? If an alien wishes to come, and is refused admission, the Bill will grant him a right of appeal. But if a British citizen wishes to travel abroad and the Government withhold a passport from him, he has no right of appeal whatever; and I can find no proposal in this Bill that he should be given that right. Most of your Lordships may imagine that a British citizen has a right to a passport if he wishes to travel abroad and complies with the necessary formalities and pays the fee. But that is not so. To issue a passport to a 1432 British citizen is not a statutory duty on the Government; it is a prerogative act. Will the Government, therefore, in Committee bring forward Amendments to the Bill and to the Title of the Bill to grant to a British citizen refused a passport to travel abroad the same rights of appeal against the decision as an alien who has been refused permission to land?
My Lords, we should give this Bill a Second Reading and then help the Government to amend it in Committee on the lines that I have mentioned. Part II is necessary for the reasons that the noble Lord has given, and on the Government's own showing. by that White Paper, it is three years overdue. Part I implements broadly the Wilson Report, and my criticism of it is not on the detail. My personal criticism of it is that it is very expensive in relation to the small difference it will make, and the £500,000 a year could be spent to better purpose on community services to help immigrants who are already here. In Committee the Government should show the courage of their convictions about appeals, should accept the logic of my speech, and should extend the scope of the legislation to the no less important matters that I have indicated.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ LORD FOOT
My Lords, it gives me some pleasure in opening what I want to say to the House this evening to join with the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, in his congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, upon the extent of his achievement during these last thirty days. The way in which the noble Lord manages to deal with all the work which falls on his plate is a perpetual wonder to me, and I know we are all pleased with the way in which he always deals with the House, in spite of the many duties that are thrown upon his shoulders, with courtesy and with kindness.
My Lords, my intervention in this debate will be very brief, because I am a wholehearted supporter of this Bill. I recognise that the Government, in introducing it, are not only substantially implementing the Report of the Wilson Committee but are also carrying out undertakings which they gave, particularly at the time of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act last year, that as soon 1433 as they could manage they would set up an appeal procedure for people who were wanting to come into this country.
If I may, I should like to deal briefly with only two of the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor. He said that if he had at his disposal half a million pounds to spend upon the problems of immigration it would be better to spend it upon the people who are already here, upon mitigating their condition. May I briefly say why I wonder whether the noble Lord's judgment upon that matter is right? I believe that one of the very important matters to assist the solution of our problems of immigration is the way in which we deal with the intending immigrant at the moment he arrives on these shores. If the procedures which we have to receive him, possibly even to send him away, do not appear to be fair; if the decision appears to be made by some faceless bureaucrat, and if the possibility of the decision being reversed may depend upon whether he can get the assistance of a Member of Parliament or somebody like that to put his case to the Home Office, I think it undermines the confidence of the immigrant population, not only the people coming in but the people who are already here, in a way which is really very harmful to the establishment of satisfactory race relations in this country. I of course defer to the far greater experience of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, in this matter, but I seek to ask him and the House to consider whether in fact his judgment upon this matter is right. I think it is vitally important that we should now implement this Report and put it into effect.
The only other matter to which I want to refer was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, when he referred to the terms of Clause 8(1)(a)(ii), which of course provides that the discretion of the Secretary of State, exercised through an immigration officer, can be reviewed and, indeed, if necessary, reversed by an adjudicator or the Tribunal. My Lords, there is a dilemma here. This point was of course developed and deployed in the other place by Mr. Quintin Hogg, and I, at any rate, always read and listen to anything that Mr. Hogg has to say about these matters with great attention. He developed this theme in a rather different 1434 way from that put forward by the noble Lord. The way Mr. Hogg put it was this: that he doubted the wisdom of passing down to an adjudicator or to the Tribunal the discretion which had previously been vested in the Home Secretary, because a tribunal of that kind—a judicial or quasi-judicial tribunal—is an appropriate body to deal with questions of law and questions of fact, but it is not an appropriate body to deal with the administrative and discretionary questions which very often arise in cases of this kind.
I see the force of that argument. I can well see that when you depart from questions of law and fact and move into the field of discretion there are sound reasons for saying that that is a matter of policy which ought to remain in the hands of the Executive, which is accountable to Parliament. I can also see the force of the argument that a judicial or quasi-judicial body of this kind is not really appropriate for dealing with what is basically a discretionary and administrative question, when you get outside questions of law and questions of fact.
I think we are caught in a serious dilemma here, and I would put the matter to myself in this way. I ask myself: Do I regard the need for some appellate system, so that it may be seen to all the world and by the immigrant himself that he is getting a fair deal, that his case is being heard and that due consideration is being given to his particular circumstances, as overriding the difficulties which there are in occasionally transferring to a body of this kind questions which are the subject matter of discretion? My answer to that question is "Yes"; and I think that the situation is greatly mitigated by reason of the fact—and I commend the Government for having taken this course—that they have laid down for the benefit of the adjudicators and the Tribunal, and indeed for the benefit of the immigration officers, the rules which they are to apply in the case of both the Commonwealth immigrant and the alien. By giving those guide rules as to how the discretion which has now been devolved to the adjudicators and the Tribunal is generally to be exercised, the Government have gone a very long way to mitigate the problem; and I think it is only in peripheral and marginal cases, very peculiar cases, cases with sectional circumstances, that you will find that the 1435 Tribunal or the adjudicator will be concerned with matters of discretion. If I may say so, I think this is a compromise, but I think it is probably the best sort of compromise which could be devised.
I should therefore like to commend this Bill to the House. Perhaps I might conclude by saying this. My Party, and I myself, have in the past been at some odds with the Government sometimes on this question of immigration. Sometimes we have felt almost violently in disagreement with the Government. It is all the more pleasant, therefore, on an occasion of this kind, to be able to congratulate the Government upon implementing this policy; and, if I may say so very humbly. I think they have done a very workmanlike job.
§ 6.29 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF CHESTER
My Lords, I, too, was very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, drew the attention of the House to the remarkable service which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has offered to us during this Session. Perhaps I may presume, from these Benches, to add a pastoral word, and to plead with him not to overdo it, because his services are far too valuable to this, House for us to contemplate our being deprived of them because he submits himself too fully and too readily to the demands of public service.
If I had any doubts at all about the desirability of this Bill they have been dispelled by two of the paragraphs of, the Wilson Committee Report. The first is paragraph 61, which draws attention to the indignity to which people may be subjected if they have to undergo intense examination on arriving in this country at a time when they are least able to deal with it: people coming to this country after a long journey, people who are tired, people who do not speak the language, people who are apprehensive of what the future may hold for them. They are not in the right state to undergo the kind of scrutiny which is also disliked by those of us who, in different circumstances, go into a foreign country. Therefore it is desirable that this should be dealt with in a much more judicial way.
My Lords, Clause 84, which lends weight and authority to this Bill, reminds us of the undesirability in principle of permitting the Executive to take decisions 1436 which affect a man's whole future, decisions against which there is no appeal. This creates a sense of injustice in the individual; and, as the noble Lord, Lord Foot, pointed out, the sense of injustice extends far beyond the individual who is concerned. If the Bill is justified upon only these two grounds, it ought to receive the ready support of this House. Nevertheless, the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, has pointed out certain grave matters of principle which the House will have to consider very carefully. There are four points within the Bill which, although they are matters of detail, will need to be very carefully considered, because they will affect the whole character and working of the system that is laid out in the Bill.
The first one concerns the procedure under which the Bill will operate. Clause 11 empowers the Secretary of State to make rules of procedure. We do not yet know what those rules will be; but there are many who hope, with the Wilson Committee, that the procedure will be subject to the scope of the Tribunals and Inquiries Act, which will give the opportunity for examination of the way in which the tribunals are working. I hope, therefore, that consideration will be given by the Government to placing the work of the tribunals under the scope of that Act.
Secondly, I would draw your Lordships' attention to the remarks made in the Wilson Committee Report on the question of deportation. As we know, there is a dual system here: the powers of the Minister to deport and the powers of deportation under the measure. The Wilson Report considers (it is in paragraph 132) that the Secretary of State should have power to repatriate a Commonwealth citizen who has obtained entry by misrepresentation or by flouting the conditions on which he was admitted. It recommends that the courts should cease to have power to make recommendations to deport. The House must ask itself whether it is desirable to continue this dual system and whether it would not be wiser to give power to deport solely to the Minister.
Thirdly, I would draw your Lordships' attention to the question of legal aid. The Wilson Committee (in paragraph 177) state that they do not consider that there are sufficient grounds for making legal 1437 aid available. I think this House must examine that opinion because grave issues concerning the whole future of an individual are involved here. Undoubtedly very heavy expenditure will be incurred by and laid upon those who, in many cases, will have small ability to meet it. I know there is the suggestion that grants should be made to advisory and welfare organisations in order to be able to help individuals. It is also very desirable that help should be given as speedily as possible. I suppose it is possible that a legal aid system might be so slow-working that the aid would not come at the time it is needed to the people who most need it. Therefore, it might be possible to have a dual system whereby both legal aid and aid through advisory welfare organisations were made available. This is an important matter concerning the working of the measure, and I hope that it, too, will be examined.
Finally, my Lords, I would say something about the appointment of the adjudicators. This is vital to the whole system of working. The Wilson Committee recommend (in paragraph 153) that the appointment of adjudicators should be vested in the Secretary of State. There are many very experienced in these matters who believe that that is not good advice, and who think that the appointment of these officers should be entirely separate from the Immigration Service, which is responsible to the Home Secretary. Those who take this view believe that there is a very strong case for examining whether it would not be better that the Lord Chancellor should appoint the adjudicators so that there is no question whatsoever about their independence of thought and mind.
These are matters which are in a sense details, but they are very important because the compassionate working of this measure will largely depend upon them. I hope that they will be studied, for I am sure that many like myself would wish to support this Bill.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My Lords, I cannot let tributes in this House to my noble friend the Minister pass without adding my own to them. To my admiration I must add real amazement at the amount of hard work that he can put in during a Session in this House.
1438 Not only do I welcome this Bill but I congratulate the Government on their sense of justice and fairness in introducing it. That is my reading of it from a completely general standpoint. I have no knowledge of the complex legal; matters in this Bill, and if some of my judgments are wrong I hope that my noble friend will correct me. Few people—and I am one of them—were aware of the really unsafe foundations upon which our immigration laws are based, Mr. Quintin Hogg in the House of Commons called them "nonsensical". In fact, I discover that the laws have been extended from two temporary emergency measures, the Aliens Act 1914 and 1918. The Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962 was modelled on these and gave complete powers to immigration officers, whose decisions could not be challenged in the courts. Little wonder, my Lords, that Mr. Quintin Hogg during the Second Reading in the Commons—and he is a man who commands respect and affection in all Parties—speaking of the immigration laws since 1905 said that we have established one of the most illiberal, arbitrary systems of immigration law in the civilised world.
To-day thousands of aliens and Commonwealth citizens are interrogated by overworked immigration officers, doing their best to be fair under the most difficult conditions. However, when the would-be immigrant fails to satisfy the conditions of entry he or she is detained pending legal representations. Recently I heard of the case of a 17½-year old Pakistani girl, who spoke no English and was detained in Holloway Prison for one month waiting for her case to be considered. The Immigration Appeals Bill, having individual justice as its aim, could be really workable and fair in such cases. Facts such as age and relationship have to be elucidated; and when hundreds of individual disputes have to be determined, that is not the job of a Minister or Ministers. The Ministers are there to decide policy. It is the job of an administrative Tribunal such as is recommended by the Wilson Committee and which is to be put into practice by the Bill when it becomes law. It is for such a Tribunal to deal with the day-to-day problems of immigration. It is not suggested that the Tribunal should be staffed only by lawyers, and some lawyers are opposed to the Bill. I am afraid that 1439 lawyers are somewhat allergic to tribunals. I suppose that they are jealous of their powers. But perhaps lawyers alone are not ideal adjudicators of social problems—not always.
I welcome this Bill, but there are some minor flaws in the draft rules presented to Parliament. There is discrimination against Commonwealth citizens in certain respects. In the White Paper Commonwealth Citizens Control after Entry, paragraph 24 on page 5 deals with entry and residence of husbands and male fiancés. I know that great play has been made of the increase in the number of male fianceés from Commonwealth countries who have come here in the last few years, but, under the provisions of this Bill, if they have used the excuse of marriage for illicit entry they can be deported. As the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Chester, has said, no provision has been made for legal aid for immigrants in these cases. The financial support promised for voluntary organisations is not an adequate substitute and will not achieve this objective.
But, despite these criticisms, this Bill is a good one. The fears expressed in the Commons by those who opposed it are groundless, I believe, because there is no automatic right of appeal, as I understand it. There is no handing over of Government immigration policy. The Secretary of State makes the rules for the appeal proceedings, and I hope that my noble friend the Minister will bear me out when I say that these rules are binding on the appellate authority. He can still keep any alien or Commonwealth citizen out of this country. The Wilson Committee have done a splendid job and deserve much credit. The Government have shown wisdom, courage and humanity in following up the Committee's recommendations in this Bill—or very largely doing so—and I hope that the phobia about illicit entry will be assuaged by the provisions in the Bill.
I have only one more point to make, and it refers to what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, about the half-a-million pounds a year which it will cost for these appeals. My Lords, what is half-a-million pounds a year when spent on social services and spread over the country? That is the point. Half-a-million pounds a year to 1440 obtain proper appeals or to settle disputes could have a marvellously good effect, but I do not think that half-a-million pounds a year spent throughout the country in the communities where immigrants live would go very far. In any case, that sort of money should be spent by the separate Ministries responsible for education, health and other services.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ LORD GRIDLEY
My Lords, I too should like to pay my tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, for the magnificent work that he does in your Lordships' House. If I may say so, we have a great affection for him and I hope that when we go away at the end of this term the fact that we shall not be sitting will mean that he will find that his labours are to some extent lightened. In general, my Lords, I find myself more in sympathy with what was said by the noble Lord regarding the proposals in this Bill than with what was said by my noble friend, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, but I recognise at the same time that my noble friend has far greater and wider experience in these matters than I shall ever have.
I support this Bill and the idea of an Immigration Appeal Tribunal because of the experiences I have had when living in the Commonwealth, where I have spent the greater part of my life, and I propose to confine my remarks to the position of the Commonwealth immigrant rather than that of the alien. I believe that an appeal tribunal would be able to sort out the position of a Commonwealth immigrant citizen who had, in good faith, gone to an agent in his country of origin and paid an extortionate fee for travel documents which he believed to be genuine; and who, on arrival in this country, found to his consternation that the documents were false. That can happen. I know from my own experience that many of the people who come from the poorer parts of the Commonwealth and who are semi-literate can be duped in this way. I think, therefore, that an appeal tribunal could remedy what might be a possible injustice. That would do nothing but good at a time when race relations generally are somewhat sensitive.
With regard to the issue of false documents, it is an unfortunate fact that as soon as statutory controls are imposed 1441 they are exploited by some people for their own monetary gain and advantage. Immigration officers are aware of this, probably more so than anybody else. The published records show that in 1968, 168 Commonwealth citizens were found to be travelling on falsified documents. Parliament has imposed duties on immigration officers which are difficult and onerous. I am quite certain that these officers deserve our gratitude—as other noble Lords have said—for the manner in which they perform their duties. I believe that the burdens of these officers might be lightened if there were an appeal tribunal, and any unjustified criticisms which might be made against them for acting in an arbitrary fashion would be more likely to be removed. My noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor said that the creation of an appeal tribunal would tend to make an immigration officer submit difficult cases to the tribunal instead of making decisions himself. I think that if the Appeal Tribunal found an immigration officer adopting tactics of that kind it ought to be their duty to call attention to the submission of unnecessary appeals, and the officer should be disciplined accordingly.
I now come to the operation of immigration control, and even with this Bill I do not see how control can be as successful in its operation as we should all like it to be if we in this country act in isolation. This is really a Commonwealth problem. By that I mean, without disparagement to our friends in the Commonwealth, that the issue of forged travel documents takes place in many of the newly independent countries and in the immigrants' countries of origin. It would be in the interests of everybody if the activities of those who are responsible for the issue of forged documents were severely curtailed. I know what the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, for whom I have the greatest respect, is likely to say in reply to this—that is, that we cannot interfere in the internal affairs of other members of the Commonwealth. But if the Commonwealth is ever to mean anything, is it not possible for one country within the Commonwealth to co-operate with another country within the Commonwealth to alleviate the difficulties of the nationals of one of them who are suffering frustration at the ports of entry, and to alleviate the difficulties of our im- 1442 migration officers? In the opening stages of his speech, the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, stressed the importance of the institution of certificates of entry in the country of origin. Is it not possible to co-operate in this matter? And may I ask the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, have we ever sought the co-operation of other members of the Commonwealth in the difficulties that face all of us over immigration control?
An event occurred last Christmas which, in my view, meant that life in future can never be quite the same for any of us. Noble Lords may have seen the picture of the "Good Earth", as they called it, from the cabin of the space capsule of Lovell, Anders and Borman, as they sped on their journey towards the moon. This convinced me in dramatic fashion—and it must have convinced most of those who saw that picture—that the world in its solitude is really one entity in space, a world on which all the peoples of all races have to learn to live together. It is a sinister fact that at the present time nations everywhere, even some of the newly independent nations, are tending to increase their immigration controls. This does not help, particularly as I believe that it tends to exacerbate racial tensions.
I commend the action of the Government in bringing this Bill before your Lordships and I support the Second Reading. I am sure that it will help to reduce racial tension. Nevertheless, would it not succeed even better if there was a meeting of Commonwealth Ministers and ourselves to iron out the respective difficulties of us all, to some of which I have referred? I commend this suggestion to the consideration of the Government, in the belief that it would greatly facilitate the operation of the Bill.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, I join with all noble Lords who have spoken already in their compliments to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and in their general commendation of this Bill. It is a good and useful Bill and will serve a valuable purpose.
On two occasions recently I have spent a few hours with the immigration officers at London Airport and have been able to watch at first hand how they do their job. I certainly go along with the noble 1443 Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, in his respect for what they do and how they do it. They have a very difficult job. I noticed them on one occasion when there was a large number of aeroplanes arriving mainly from India and Pakistan. The aeroplanes had been circling for some time over the Airport in a fog and streams of people came through the Immigration, arriving after a long and hard journey in a strange country, not knowing the language and what they were going to find here. I was much impressed by the humanity of the men who dealt with them. In almost every case there was no problem at all. Where there was a problem, it was often one of language, and there was somebody available who could speak the language and could help. When it was a question of detaining someone for further investigation, it was done, so far as I could see, decently and politely. That in no way detracts from the need for an appeal against what, after all, can only be the subjective assessment of one human being concerning the truthfulness or otherwise of another. The necessity for that has been borne out by the White Paper and is confirmed in this Bill. That is a good thing.
There are one or two points—minor points perhaps but not without importance—which I hope the Government will consider in this context. When an immigrant is detained, I agree that it is the responsibility of the airline which has brought him in to see that he is looked after, and that it is no responsibility of Her Majesty's Government or anybody else. For all that, I think that we should pay attention to the conditions under which these people are detained. I have seen some of the accommodation, and while the best that is possible is being done under restricted circumstances, it is not a very happy sight. A large number of people are detained in a small room, with beds close to each other and scarcely any room for movement or exercise. They are guarded by kindly people of the Securicor in uniform. I hope that the Government will do something to improve the conditions of these people while they are being detained.
It would be interesting to know whether the Government envisage that more people would be detained if they exercised their right of appeal and did not 1444 go home straight away. I know that the Bill gives facilities for bail to be granted, but I imagine that there will be some cases where, on perfectly reasonable and sound grounds, it will not be granted, and the chances are that there will be a larger number of immigrants detained.
Another point I would ask the Government to consider is the number of immigration officers who are available for this job. At the present time they are heavily overworked with the growing number of immigrants who come in, and when there are appeals it is obvious that evidence will have to be given by the officers concerning the people whose entry they have claimed is not according to the law as it is at present. That will take up a considerable amount of their time. It will still further increase the strain on them, and will increase the delay not only for immigrants but for other people who come into this country who have to pass through the immigration net. Therefore, while I know it is difficult to recruit any more of these people, I would suggest that so far as possible tribunals should hear the cases they are investigating actually on the site where the detention has taken place, where the immigration officer is working. For instance, a room or rooms should be set aside at London Airport for this to be done, so that the immigration officer can go there when he is needed without any difficulty and then resume his duties, instead of having to find his way to London and having to hang about for one or possibly two days, while the case is being heard.
Finally, there is the point which was raised by the right reverend Prelate about the appointment of the members of the appeal body. I share his view that it is better that such people should not be appointed by the Home Secretary. I in no way suggest that the Home Secretary would not be entirely objective and appoint admirable people; but it will be considered—wrongly, but nevertheless considered—by many that he is acting as judge in his own cause. It would be preferable, in my view, if these people were appointed by some other Minister. The Lord Chancellor is the obvious choice, but the danger is that the appointments will then tend to be, and possibly inevitably would have to be, lawyers. I do not think that a legal qualification 1445 is in any way the sole qualification, or indeed the best one, for this type of assessment. Very little hard evidence will he presented: it will be much more a question of the actual age of somebody, the actual relationship—whether somebody is a fiancée or not—which cannot be proved in a legal sense, but is a matter of judgment. The kind of people who do that are often not lawyers, but people who have had experience in social welfare of one kind or another, possibly in the countries of the immigrants concerned, and have some understanding of the individual human problems that arise. The points I have raised are not large, but I think they are points which will affect the actual working of the Bill. It is a good Bill, and I am happy that the Government have introduced it.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I apologise for not having indicated that I wished to speak in this debate: I slipped up. I will be quite brief. If I know my noble friend Lord Stonham, he will be somewhat embarrassed by the whole series of tributes which have been paid to him. I would only add this comment: the extraordinary thing is that he has served the House so fully when only a short time ago he was quite seriously ill. I should like to join with others in hoping that he will not be so conscientious in doing work for this House as to cause any detriment to his health and to his continued service. And I appreciate, when I say this, that I have myself caused my noble friend a good deal of trouble by my criticism of what he has had to administer. The main reason why I am speaking to-night is that, even though I criticise nearly every item of legislation which my noble friend mentioned in the introductory passages of his speech, I wholeheartedly welcome this Bill, and I rejoice in the opportunity of expressing that appreciation.
I should very much like to reply in detail to the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor. He and I are old political antagonists. I would make only two comments on his speech. The first is appreciative. I should very much like to see legislation which gave British residents who were refused passports the right to make a similar appeal. 1446 My only doubt is whether this would come within the terms of the present Bill. My second comment is critical. The noble Lord said that this £500,000 could be better spent upon social activities, education and helping local authorities with large immigrant populations. One reply to this suggestion has come from my noble friend Lady Gaitskell. I make another reply. The noble Lord urged this as a matter of priority. He urged that the £500,000 would be better spent on the social services than on the machinery for these appeals. It is a matter of priorities. But the priorities are not between spending £500,000 on an appeal system or £500,000 on social services. The priorities must be against our national expenditure altogether, and many of us feel that to be spending £100,000 to £1 upon armaments and war preparations, and to be critical of spending £500,000 upon giving greater rights to immigrants when they claim to come into this country, is taking the rule of priorities to the lowest stage where we can possibly make a comparison.
I welcome this Bill for three reasons. The first is this. From the very beginning of these immigration laws many of us have felt that to allow officials, however conscientious and unprejudiced, to make decisions affecting the future lives of individuals without their having an opportunity to appeal is inconsistent with the rule of law. I would emphasise what my noble friend Lord Walston said. Many of these decisions by the immigration officers are subjective: they have to be made on the basis of whether they believe what is said by the immigrants. A judgment of this sort is extraordinarily difficult to make, and it is one that is largely outside the training and experience of the immigration official.
The second thing I want to say is this. I join with others in paying tribute to immigration officials. Rather strangely, a considerable number of them were constituents of mine, because my constituency was on the edge of the airport. I know them, and they have spoken to me of their difficulties. I know that the great majority of them are conscientious, but, as my noble friend knows, they occasionally make mistakes. He will be aware that over the years I have taken to the Home Office a number of cases 1447 of appeal against decisions by immigration officials. I have often had to apologise, because they have been at the weekend—and I pay tribute to the officials at the Home Office who were able to find the Minister in time to enable a decision on deportation not to take effect. But these cases are sufficient to justify the proposal for this appeal tribunal. My noble friend will appreciate, if he refers to the files at the Home Office, that in only one case out of a considerable number that I have raised have the Home Office decided against the right of the immigrant to remain in this country.
My Lords, my third reason for welcoming the Bill is this. Many immigrants and their families, when they arrive at Heathrow, or some other place of entry, have no knowledge of the procedures involved or of the organisations or individuals who can give them help. It has been almost by accident that my telephone has rung, often at late hours of night, for calls from those who have been treated in this way at Heathrow. This has been due to the accident of knowing me and to ignorance in not knowing appropriate organisations. The proposals which are made in this Bill will help to meet that difficulty. My Lords, that is all I want to say. I want to express the very greatest appreciation both of the Minister and of the terms of this legislation. I may have to make some suggestions in Committee, but in principle I support the Bill wholeheartedly.
§ 7.11 p.m.
§ LORD RITCHIE-CALDER
My Lords, I am not going to detain the House or my noble friend Lord Stonham from the rest which we all agree he ought to have. I want to intervene for only this reason—and my intervention was promoted by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke. I have to declare an interest because I am a member of the Community Relations Commission; and therefore I ought to be grabbing with both hands the opportunity Lord Brooke suggests should be given us of having another half million pounds. But I reject it, because I think that the £500,000 to be spent on these appeals will in fact be much more valuable in our community relations than any 1448 amount of money spread in thin disposal over the country.
That is why I think this Bill is going to help enormously any work we are trying to do in integrating the communities; in helping to remove the misgivings, the doubts and the miseries of the present situation. Above all, as Lord Brooke said, it will enable us to ensure that everyone sees that justice is in fact being done. I think that that is very important from our point of view. I have only one thing to say to my noble friend, and that is that we on the Community Relations Commission are not trying to exceed our remit or ask to be consulted by the Home Secretary on these matters. What we welcome very warmly and sincerely in the interests of our job is that we may give him whatever advice and participation we possibly can; and it would be very useful if we knew in advance the kind of matters on which we can help.
§ 7.13 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, and indeed to every noble Lord who has spoken in this debate, for their great kindness to me personally. I did not know that the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, had been doing some research. It is interesting to learn that I have spoken 18 times in the last 30 Sitting days. I did not know how many—I knew it was too many, but I did not know it was as many as all that. I can only say that I am most grateful and, although this is our last Sitting day before Easter, to me it feels like Christmas.
I would also thank every one of your Lordships for the welcome that you have given to this Bill. I am going to answer as many points as I can, but I should like your indulgence in this regard if I am as brief as I can be without undue brevity, because there is important business yet to come and the hour is getting rather late. I should like to say, however, that while I have been listening to this debate I have become convinced that we ought to have a very interesting and helpful Committee stage. I will therefore try to limit my remarks to those vital points which I think may be helpful in relation to a Committee stage.
The noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, asked me about the delay since 1449 1965 in taking power to deport for breach of conditions under Part II of the Bill. This delay was occasioned because the Government took the view that it would be wrong to take power to deport by Executive action, without any right of appeal, a person who had entered the country lawfully and had not been convicted by a court, still less recommended for deportation. So the Government decided to establish the Wilson Committee to look at the rights of appeal generally, and the time since 1965 has been passed in the work of that Committee and in the preparation of the Bill. I am somewhat surprised that the noble Lord, with his great knowledge of these matters departmentally, should have thought that that time was unduly long.
The noble Lord referred to review by adjudicators of the Minister's discretion. I think he put it that an adjudicator should not be in a position to say, "I think my judgment is better than the Home Secretary's". The Aliens' Deportation Advisory Committee, to which the noble Lord also referred, had no guidance at all from the Government on general principles and policy, but the appellate authorities under this Bill will receive guidance in the form of immigration rules. But I think the other parts of the noble Lord's argument on this point were effectively answered, if I may say so with respect, by the noble Lord, Lord Foot. May I say to the noble Lord, while I think of it and while thanking him for his remarks, that I would ask him his forgiveness because I owe him a letter from the last debate. I would ask him to understand that this matter is not forgotten. We are still working hard on this very complex matter, and I hope he will hear from me soon about the subject referred to last time which I thought he might have mentioned again.
The noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, also raised very interesting points. He mentioned Rockwell, for example, who was an American Nazi—I remember the occasion quite well—and a drug addict, whom he did not mention by name and whom he had to decide to deport. He said that under these arrangements the Home Secretary would not be free to act in the way that he himself was free to act. Indeed, neither of the two classes of person he mentioned 1450 could be deported if the appellate authorities upheld an appeal against deportation, as the noble Lord supposed. With regard to a Commonwealth citizen, there would be no power to deport if no criminal offence was committed or if the Commonwealth citizen was not in breach of the conditions of his entry. If, as the noble Lord suggested, the question is "Should there be power to deport a Commonwealth citizen because his presence here is not conducive to the public good?", I would ask the noble Lord to consider whether this would not indeed be a new facet of the Conservative Party's policy of assimilating the treatment of aliens and Commonwealth citizens. The information in the possession of the Home Office at present does not suggest that this change is warranted or that it would serve a substantial purpose. As the noble Lord is aware, Commonwealth citizens hive a right to acquire our citizenship after five years' residence, so that if the noble Lord wanted to make the change he suggests it would of course be of limited effect so far as time is concerned.
§ LORD SOMERS
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord for one moment? He said that if a man had committed no criminal offence he could not be deported. But I wonder whether he would agree that a man who was an undesirable character could have a very bad influence and cause others to commit criminal offences without actually doing so himself.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, this is a possibility, and indeed this was exactly the kind of case that the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, posed with his drug addict. It was the kind of situation he envisaged. Indeed, the; same could have been said of Rockwell. But I should have thought it rather doubtful in both cases whether it would be very long before they committed a criminal offence. But I agree that that is a possibility.
The noble Lord then raised a most interesting point about the refusal of passports to British citizens to go abroad, and asked why should they not have the same right of appeal as Commonwealth citizens. As one would suppose, the noble Lord stated the position correctly, but in practice a passport is refused only 1451 where the applicant is still in debt to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for expenses previously incurred in repatriating him from overseas; and I think that is a proper provision because he is a defaulter. That is something which is rarely disputed. Otherwise there are the extremely rare cases where the Foreign Secretary has decided as a matter of Executive discretion that for special reasons the grant of a passport to the applicant would not be in the national interest.
In the second class of case there is normally no justiciable issue. The issues are those that may well touch on national security, in regard to which the Home Secretary, under Clause 9 of the Bill, has reserved to himself the right to make a decision. But in cases where a passport is refused for reasons connected with the situation in Rhodesia—which forms a special category—the Government have set up an advisory committee under the chairmanship of Mr. Justice Cairns, and any change in the law relating to United Kingdom passports would go beyond the objects of this Immigration Appeals Bill, as the noble Lord will appreciate, and of course it is outside the subject considered by the Wilson Committee. But I will certainly bring this point to the notice of my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary and it may well be that in a later stage of the Bill we shall deal with it again.
I turn now to the questions put to me by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester, which were four in number. The right reverend Prelate asked me first for an assurance that the whole system of appeals would come under the Tribunals and Inquiries Act. I can give that assurance. They will come under the Council on Tribunals which was set up under the Act. He then asked about the appointment of adjudicators and urged, as indeed did my noble friend Lord Walston, that the appointments should be made by my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor instead of by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary. On that I have to say that the Home Secretary has decided, with the full agreement of my noble and learned friend, that he will adhere to the Wilson Committee's Recommendation to make the appointments of adjudicators himself, and I think for reasons that the right reverend Prelate 1452 will accept. The Government think that the functions of my noble and learned friend should be limited to the appointment of the comparatively small number of Tribunal members, because the Tribunal is the higher appellate authority and obviously the appointments of Tribunal members will be the key appointments. They will be made by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, and surely his responsibility for them is sufficient guarantee of impartiality.
We also think that if the noble and learned Lord had to deal personally with the appointment of adjudicators, bearing in mind that there will be perhaps more than twenty serving full-time and thirty part-time, it would be beyond the resources of the small staff of my noble and learned friend to give proper consideration to each individual appointment. I understand that it is the view of my noble and learned friend that his own intervention will be far more effective in the establishment of the appeals system if it is limited to the appointment of the members of the Tribunal.
The right reverend Prelate also asked for an assurance that legal aid would be forthcoming for those making appeals. As I said in my speech in relation to Clause 15, there is, we hope, one single voluntary body being set up to assist appellants and others, and as the Wilson Committee suggested, it would be very much better for them to assist in appeals rather than that it should be done individually under the legal aid system. They thought it would cost less. I would assure the right reverend Prelate that this is one of the things which will be taken into consideration in respect of the degree of financial support that is accorded to the voluntary bodies.
The question of deportation was described by the right reverend Prelate as a "dual system". I feel that what we are doing is surely right; namely, retaining in certain classes of case the present system with the intervention of the courts (and I think it is always desirable, when we can, to do so), but also to bring in under Clause 4(1)(a) the right of the Home Secretary himself to deport in certain cases. This is entirely in accordance with the Wilson recommendation although, as I said in my speech, we do not intend to implement it until the whole machinery for these appeals 1453 is available and ready. I hope that that adequately covers the points raised by the right reverend Prelate.
My noble friend Lady Gaitskell, as always charming and kind, referred to the case of a 17-year-old Pakistani girl who was detained in prison for one month. My noble friend was correctly advised. Miss Patel was so detained while her case was taken to the courts, and when it failed there representations were subsequently made to the Home Office. That was the reason for the long period referred to by my noble friend. Miss Patel was then sent away. My honourable friend Mr. Merlyn Rees who deals with these matters in the Department—and deals with them with the utmost thoroughness and fact-searching and heart-searching—was not satisfied that Miss Patel was, as she claimed, the daughter of a Commonwealth citizen resident here. I am afraid that she had to go back.
My noble friend Lady Gaitskell also asked me for an assurance that she was right in thinking that rules are binding on the appellate authority. She was correct in so thinking. While I am dealing with this point about the one Pakistani girl who was kept here so long, perhaps I may deal with the associated point raised by my noble friend Lord Walston with regard to detention accommodation and the time that people are likely to be kept here, and also the number of people likely to be detained. I would say to your Lordships that we are well aware that accommodation is inadequate, and we are doing our utmost to get accommodation at London Airport for mothers and children who may have to be detained overnight. This is certainly our intention.
With regard to greater numbers, I think that they are likely to be less and that people are likely to have less trouble. I mentioned the number of adjudicators we intend to have, and we expect that two or three, for example, will be on duty at any one time at London Airport, although no adjudicator will be on duty for more than six hours. The service will be from nine o'clock in the morning until nine o'clock at night. We expect to be able to deal with most cases, so far as adjudicators are concerned, within 24 hours. Of course, bail will be granted to most of those who are now detained, if it is 1454 necessary to detain them. But we are going to provide more accommodation.
My noble friend Lord Walston raised a point about the advisability of having all appeals heard in adjoining buildings at London Airport, or on a site near to it. This is what we hope to achieve so far as London Airport is concerned, but at other ports it is not generally thought to be practicable to hold the hearings in the port area. But this will not give rise to any serious problems because we always have places available within a reasonable distance from the port.
The noble Lord, Lord Gridley, for whose speech I was also grateful, raised the question of forgeries. On this I would say that the Commonwealth Governments who are chiefly concerned have done a great deal to tighten up their procedures for the issuing of passports, and so on; but they cannot, of course, stamp out entirely the traffic in forged documents, and they cannot place an embargo on their own citizens' leaving for this country. Our immigration officers, however, are not inexpert at spotting forged documents, and not very many, I think, get through the fine mesh.
The kind of problems which the noble Lord mentioned cannot easily be dealt with by inter-Governmental consultation, but we certainly bear the point in mind, and at some levels consultation is continuous. The High Commissions in London are most helpful, and there is the greatest degree of co-operation and help and understanding from them. The noble Lord opposite said that I would say that we cannot interfere with newly independent nations. I have not said it. Of course, we cannot interfere with newly independent nations—or, I hope, with any nation. But we can consult with them and co-operate with them for the greater benefit of the citizens of all the countries.
He spoke about entry certificates, and I entirely agree; in fact I think I have said three times this evening how important it is to have the certificates. Consider some of the countries from which these people come. Perhaps their village is a long way from any office, so that they have to travel, and that is expensive to do. If it is to get a document to take them out, that is one thing; but if it is to get a document that does not necessarily allow 1455 their departure, that is another, In principle, we are very much in agreement with what the noble Lord has said. We have been continuing our efforts to publicise the entry certificate procedure and are continuing to do so by all means in our power.
My Lords, I have tried to answer most—indeed, I hope all—of the questions that were put to me. I thank your Lordships for all the contributions you have made, and hope that what I have said will be of some use in considering the points that your Lordships would wish to raise in Committee, all of which I look forward to considering with the utmost care. I hope that your Lordships will now give the Bill a Second Reading.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.