HL Deb 02 July 1971 vol 321 cc578-80

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the second Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government on what grounds Mr. David Dellinger, an American pacifist, was refused admission to this country.]


My Lords, Mr. Dellinger was refused admission because of his recent conviction in his own country of a serious criminal offence.


Yes, my Lords, but is the Minister aware that Mr. Dellinger is a pacifist who has always advocated non-violent methods; and is he also aware that, while he was sentenced in the notorious Chicago Six trial, that conviction is under appeal? Is it not quite unprecedented for a Government of this country to refuse admission to this country to a respectable American citizen when a final decision about his guilt in that very doubtful trial has not been reached?


Mr Lords, Mr. Dellinger and six others, known as the Chicago Seven, were convicted in February, 1970, of inciting a riot and committing criminal contempt of court. They were each sentenced to five years' imprisonment and, as the noble Lord has said, were released pending appeal. The Home Secretary took the view that conviction of an offence of this nature made it undesirable that Mr. Dellinger should be admitted to the country.


My Lords, is it not a fact that Mr. David Dellinger and others fell foul of the American authorities for revealing out of due season those very facts which the New York Times have proved to be true, and would Mr. Robert MacNamara, as an instance, equally be refused admission in the light of those revelations? If not, and in view of the fact that Mr. Dellinger, by reason of his appeal, has not yet been proved to be guilty, would the Home Secretary not reconsider, at least at the present time, the admission of Mr. Dellinger to this country?


My Lords, I do not think it would be right for me to comment on proceedings in the courts in the United States.


My Lords, does the Minister realise that we are being more severe in regard to immigrants than the United States? Is he aware that, although I have been convicted and have been three years in prison, when I wanted to go to America to oppose the war in Vietnam they not only gave me a visa but gave me free entrance? Surely, with the traditions of tolerance and democracy in this country, we can at least be equal to what the United States of America does in these instances.


My Lords, the Home Secretary has a discretion in this matter. He has to consider what he believes to be in the public good, and in his opinion it was in the public good not to admit Mr. Dellinger.


My Lords, is my noble friend aware that, as this case is sub judice in another country, the Home Secretary has acted with great discretion in refusing admission until the case is settled?


My Lords, although I do not wish to get mixed up in this question of Mr. Dellinger because I know nothing about it, is it not illogical, perhaps, and ironic that we give asylum to a Communist defector but we do not allow people like Mr. Dellinger in? I just do not know.


My Lords, the two considerations are very different. What we are talking about here is the admission or otherwise of somebody whom the Home Secretary has decided it would not be desirable to admit, whereas the issues of political asylum for those already here and who ask for political asylum are based on a different set of principles.