HL Deb 22 July 1971 vol 322 cc1214-67

8.10 p.m.

House again in Committee.

Debate on Amendment No. 48 resumed.


I think that the provision as it stands in the Bill in respect of children being deported with a parent is a pernicious and terrible thing. I hope that the Government will take cognisance of the fact that any human being is bound to regard a compulsory act of that description as a violation of his feelings. Justice, which is an all-Party group of lawyers, said this: It is contrary to the rules of natural justice that a person should be subject to the penalties of deportation solely on the grounds that he is a member of a deportee's family. The clause is an encouragement to the breakdown of family life, as a deportation order ceases to have effect in these cases if the person concerned ceases to be a member of the deportee's family. I do not know whether the Government have considered the position which could arise when a deportation order is made if the person concerned ceases to be a member of the deportee's family by separation, by divorce, or something of that sort, in order to avoid the deportee's having to drag his family into the terrible position in which it could find itself.

To talk about the individuals left falling on the funds of the State is sidestepping the issue. What happens if a person dies or is injured? There is no reason why his family, if it needs support, should not be given that support. To visit the sins of the father on the children—limited to the age of 18, it is true—is something which is quite beyond understanding to a person who looks at the position from an objective point of view. I do not know of any other instance where a child is held to be an accessory (because that is what it amounts to) to a crime simply because he, or she, happens to be a member of the family. Some families will have settled down here; the young people may have acclimatised themselves and become part and parcel of the society in which they are living. The parent, having committed a crime or having behaved in such a way as to merit deportation, may certainly be the black sheep of a family, as my noble friend Lady White has already indicated, but to imagine that members of the family themselves should be saddled with the responsibility which lies on the shoulders of the individual who committed the offence is in my view unreasonable, and I think it is unreasonable in the view of most Members of this House—at least I hope so—and certainly of most people in the country. It is placing a guilt on the shoulders of innocent people.

It seems to me that the Government might well—and I hope they will—reconsider their decision on this matter. I do not think the situation I am trying to present needs a tremendous amount of argument; it speaks for itself. If those who will be affected want to go with their families, or the families with the person who is deported, by all means let them go; but I think it is a matter for them to decide entirely of their own accord, and they should not be forced to do something which they may consider is quite contrary to their best interests. I know the noble Lord is a man not only of head but also of heart. I wonder whether he realises what it could mean to a family if they were forced out of the environment to which they have been accustomed for years? Does he know what the friendships and the connections of the family might mean to the persons concerned? What about other relatives who may be in the country and who will not be affected by the deportation order? It may well be that their general family in this country is a large one and they are going to be deprived of the opportunity of remaining with that family in consequence of the action of a parent. It might be said that a parent would want his children near him. There is no reason why, if the family so decides, they should not accompany him, or make arrangements to see him from time to time wherever he may be. But to place the guilt on their shoulders is an outrage, and I hope that the Government will reconsider the whole matter in the light of a sympathetic understanding of what can happen to human beings.

8.18 p.m.


On the face of it, this clause appears to be very harsh. It must produce all kinds of tragic anomalies, and I should like to ask the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, whether the words in the opening of the clause,"shall be liable to deportation"allow for some really practical discretion by the Home Secretary.


I can say to the noble Baroness"Yes, it does ". When I intervene in the debate, I will give some of the instances.


Surely some modification of this particular paragraph is necessary to overcome the many hardships that would arise from it and that have been pointed out in this debate by my noble friend Lady White. It seems to me that in every case the circumstances involved have to be taken into account and considered. Deportation has such a final ring about it in this Bill. Deportation will cast a very dark shadow over the lives of immigrants when this Bill comes into force, and it seems to me that it would he much better if this paragraph were taken out of the Bill altogether.

8.20 p.m.


This may be a convenient moment for me to intervene. I thought the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, an extremely important one. The words are"shall be liable ", and these govern the three categories in subsection (5). I can say from personal experience that these deportation cases are individually considered with very great care. Someone implied a little earlier—it may have been the noble Baroness, Lady White; or another speaker in discussion on an earlier Amendment—that the Home Secretary or some official might decide to take action. Where a deportation order is required it must be made by the Home Secretary personally, or in his absence by a Secretary of State; it cannot be made even by one of his Departmental Ministers.

If I had the figures with me, which unfortunately I have not, I could show the numbers of people, for example, recommended for deportation by the courts and the numbers of cases in which the Home Secretary felt, for some reason or other, that it would not be right, because of the circumstances of the person, for him to make a deportation order. So there is a discretion, and we ought to have that in mind as we are debating this matter. The power to make a deportation order is modelled on a similar power in the Canadian laws. It has been introduced to prevent families being split where a Secretary of State orders the deportation of the head of a family and the wife, perhaps with children, declines to leave with him. The numbers of these cases are rather modest, but they do occur from time to time in relation to Irish and Commonwealth citizens, and also in relation to aliens. I must tell the Committee that there have been cases in the past in which, in these circumstances, the wife and children have been deported on non-conducive grounds, grounds which hitherto applied only to aliens but which under the Bill are extended to Irish and Commonwealth citizens. There have been cases, not many, under previous Administrations where the Home Secretary has felt that he should use the non-conducive power against the wife and children of someone sentenced to deportation—probably following conviction in the courts. As I have said, there are not many cases of this sort, but the Government think it more straightforward to have this specific power in future.

There is a problem here; and the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, made this point earlier—I think on Second Reading. Those with Home Office experience know it. The question is: if this is not the right solution, what alternative solution is there? I shall go on to show that the Home Secretary, as I think has been recognised in earlier speeches, has gone a long way to try to meet the disquiet that has been expressed on this point. In the great majority of cases the wife and children will have been admitted to the United Kingdom not on any claim of their own but as dependants of the man to be deported. They have no previous claim, but there may in certain cases be compassionate circumstances, possibly depending on the strength of their attachment to the United Kingdom—


Or to each other.


—or the weakness of their ties with the man ordered to be deported, or on some other ground referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady White, when she moved the Amendment.

I think noble Lords who have spoken will recognise that this is a matter that has given my right honourable friend cause for thought as the Bill has progressed. When the Bill was originally introduced there was no provision for appeals to be made by members of a family against deportation, other than on the narrow ground set out in Clause 15(4). The line of approach and drafting of the Bill was that if the only ground for not deporting the members of the family were compassionate circumstances it would be best to leave it to the Secretary of State to assess this, rather than leave it to individual adjudicators whose decisions would he likely to be inconsistent because there will be so few cases. However, in view of opinions expressed in another place, and outside Parliament, the Home Secretary decided that it would be right to introduce full rights of appeal on merits, and in order to prevent any inconsistency the appeal will lie direct to the Appeal Tribunal and not to individual adjudicators. We consider that the number of cases will not be too numerous for the Tribunal to handle.

Accordingly, as I forecast on Second Reading, on behalf of the Government I shall be tabling Amendments later in our proceedings, Amendment No. 80 and a number of consequent ones, to provide that where a head of a family is to be deported following the recommendation by a court of law, there will be an independent right of appeal to the Appeal Tribunal if it is proposed to deport members of his family. A further concession, to which the noble Baroness referred when she moved the Amendment, is that the Home Secretary has also undertaken that any member of a family will be given an opportunity to avoid the stigma of deportation by leaving under arrangements for supervised departure.

There are a number of qualifications to this general principle which I want to explain to your Lordships. These are the considerations which will be included in the draft Immigration Rules. The noble Baroness asked for some information about how an appeal on merits would work for members of families whom it was proposed to deport. The answer is that the appeal will turn On the application of the rules by the Home Office or other officials concerned. Adjudicators will see whether or not the Immigration Rules have been adhered to. This is a general outline of the type of consideration to be taken into account in drafting the rules. A wife who was admitted to the United Kingdom for settlement in her own right—for example, as the holder of an employment voucher—would then have a claim to remain notwithstanding the deportation of her husband, and her deportation would not normally be contemplated. If a wife had been living apart from the principal deportee for a substantial period before deportation came in question we think it would not normally be right to include her, or any children living with her, in the deportation order.


Could the noble Lord help us? What does he mean in this particular case by"substantial "? Would it be a month, or a year?


I am trying to help the Committee in advance of anything prepared for submission in the Immigration Rules, and to give an indication of the sort of considerations we have in mind. If the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, or other noble Lords are to speak later in the debate, we should like to have the benefit of their comments in this respect. The suggestion has been put to us, I do not know whether it has arisen in the debate so far, that it would be very iniquitous to include the estranged wife living apart from the principal deportee, although legally she was his wife. We are inclined to agree with that point of view, but there would be a difference, I suppose, between the case of someone who had smartly left her husband the day before and said,"I am no longer living with him but with mother up the road ", and that of someone who had been separated from her husband for a period. I should not like to be more precise than that. I should like to hear from noble Lords and noble Baronesses on this point. We want to hear from those who have something to say on this subject. I used without great consideration the word"substantial ". I should like to know what noble Lords taking, part in the debate think this should be. Perhaps they can help us in this.

Children will cease to be members of the family, as defined, at the age of 18, and their deportation would not normally be contemplated if they had spent some years in the United Kingdom and were near that age. Deportation might not be appropriate if it transpired that the child had left the family home on taking employment and had established himself on an independent basis. Then again, in the case of younger children, those who are still at school, we intend to make it clear that we think it would be right to take into account both the disruptive effect on their education of removal and the likely effectiveness of plans for their continued care and support in this country if one or both parents were deported.

In some cases it may also be relevant to take account of the possibility of the eventual return of members of the family to the United Kingdom after deportation. When a child reaches 18 he will cease to be subject to the deportation order and it will be open to him to qualify for readmission under the immigration rules—for example, by obtaining a work permit. The wife would cease to be subject to the order if the marriage came to an end, but her return would otherwise be dependent on revocation of the order.

As I said, these points give an indication of our current thinking on some of the matters that have been raised in this connection. But this is in no sense a final list, and I hope very much that noble Lords will not read too much into the words, and in particular the adjectives with which I have prefaced them: because, as I have said, we want to hear from people on this subject before drafting the provision of the Immigration Rules, which will be available for the guidance of the Appeal Tribunal.


I do not want to keep interrupting, but it may be simpler to clear up this point now. I fully take the position that on reaching the age of 18 the children are"in the clear ", and that they can come back under their own rights as adults. But the noble Lord said that the possible return of the wife depended upon the revocation of the deportation order. Does that mean the order of her husband or of herself? Is she to be treated as a person or merely as a wife?


I think I ought to check on that and give the noble Baroness an informed answer. But I had finished what I was going to say.


I have been at a meeting and I apologise for not hearing all of the debate, but perhaps I may take up one or two points with the Minister. It seems an extraordinary doctrine that the wife who is estranged should have an advantage over the wife who is not. I think the noble Lord talked of the child who has left home. I take it that he means a child under 18.




That means that there could be a situation where the child who was living away from the family home for some reason, such as work or schooling, had an advantage, from the point of view of escaping deportation, over the child living with the family. We are going into tremendously deep and unfortunate waters here. It seems to me that by leaving out the paragraph, as the Amendment seeks to do, the subject could be completely dealt with, because—and I apologise for what I am sure has already been said by my noble friends—the deportation must be confined to one person. I do not see any reason for deportation by association. If a wife decides to go with her husband when he is deported, then that is her decision. But for any member of the family to be forced to go because another member is being deported, seems basically so wrong. And by making some of these quite extraordinary exceptions—though I am sure they are meant to be helpful—the whole matter gets far more complicated and, in the end, the position will be equally unjust.


Can the noble Lord help me over a word? He has frequently used the word"family"and it is also in paragraph (c). It is fairly clear to most of us in this country what the word"family"means, but to immigrants coming in a"family"is a much wider unit than we are used to here. The noble Lord has talked about only one wife, but quite often a man believes that he is legally married to two or three women. Also, there is the Hindu undivided family, which is quite a possibility in the situation we have been discussing. I should like to know how the word"family"would be interpreted in the two cases I have mentioned. Immigrants could be alarmed in the sense that the word"family"means much more to them.

8.35 p.m.


The Minister has made a helpful statement. He said that there will be a right of appeal, that there will not be many cases, and that, anyhow, we can always rely on the administrators to do the right thing.


The Home Secretary.


That is a point on which I am afraid we do not all agree. Home Secretaries are Home Secretaries. Naturally, anybody who is an administrator always wants, with the best of motives, the widest possible powers, but in a case such as deportation, when so much is at stake for the individual, ought we to make him run the risk of a wrong administrative decision? Here is a young man who has left school at 16, has obtained a job in a motor-car factory, earning good money, and when he is 17—advisedly or ill-advisedly—he marries a 17-year-old girl and they have a child. At this point his father, whom he may not have seen for some time, gets into trouble for having broken some condition of his permit. Because his father has got into trouble he is liable to be deported to a country that he may never have seen. His wife and child are not covered, simply him, because he is a child under 18 of somebody who has done something wrong. Can that be right?

Or take this case. A couple may have had a divorce and the woman may have been given the custody of the children because it is the father who was at fault, and the court thinks that the mother ought to have custody. The children may not have seen their father for some time. The father does something wrong, and although the mother cannot be deported because she is no longer his wife, the children can be. Can that possibly be right? There may be an estranged couple who have been separated and have not seen one another for years. I should have thought that this guilt from association could not possibly be right. Let us suppose that a South African comes here and marries a coloured girl. If he gets into trouble, I suppose he can be deported to South Africa and his wife can be deported with him, although if they have intercourse when they get there that will be a criminal offence under South African law.

It is all very well to say that the administrator will always be right. The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, dealt with the case of the young man under 18 who is independently working, but if I heard him rightly, what he said was that in the exercise of the discretion he might not be deported. The whole question really is: are we justified, having regard to the consequences in human terms, in putting these people at the risk of being deported, and for what? What is the object of the whole power? The object is simply so that, in what the Minister said is a small number of cases, the British taxpayer should be protected from having to support a dependent wife after her husband has been deported. Is it really worth while putting all these people at risk, simply and solely to save the British taxpayer from what, on any view, will obviously be a very minimal sum of money? I am bound to say that at the moment, having given the most careful attention to what the Minister has said, I think not.

8.40 p.m.


As the mover of this Amendment on which my noble and learned friend has made such an effective and, I entirely agree, devastating speech, there are still one or two things which worry me and which I should like to put to the Minister in the hope that we may get some more satisfactory reply. I will put a proposition to him in a moment in order that we may further clear our minds about this very difficult matter. The Minister himself said that these provisions would be effective only in circumstances where the wife declined to leave. Surely she, as a person, should be allowed to take a decision of that kind and should not be at the mercy of any Secretary of State. If she herself has committed no wrong, that decision should surely be her personal decision. It is her right as a human being that she should be allowed to decide. How can the Secretary of State, with the best will in the world—and I am sure that in all these cases the Secretary of State is conscientious to a degree—not just look at the person who has committed the offence (that he can very properly do, and that is his duty) but know what are the real relations between husband and wife?

The Minister said that if a wife had been living apart from her husband for a substantial period of time (I will not quibble over the word"substantial ") that would be a mitigating factor. But one can live estranged under one roof. Anyone who knows anything about human nature knows that. I am sure that even within our own acquaintance we know of situations where husband and wife have been estranged but where, for the sake of the husband's position, possibly for the sake of the children, or for other reasons, possibly financial, they have kept together and have maintained an outward semblance of a marriage, As I understand it, if they became physically separated in the sense of living in two separate establishments—which, incidentally, they might not be able to afford—simply when the husband was threatened with deportation, that would be regarded as trying to evade deportation and probably would not be an effective ground for action not to be taken by the Secretary of State.

I must say that I find the whole attitude, particularly in regard to the wife, entirely repugnant to me. I am trying to think what I should feel, as a wife, if I had the ill-fortune to be married to a thoroughly unsatisfactory husband but, for some reason or another—and often in such cases, as I said, it is for the sake of the children—we had kept together somehow, and then one came to the breaking point where one's husband had committed something or other and was liable to deportation. I could not prove, unless I went into the most intimate details of my family life—and one would hardly expect the Secretary of State to be interested in all that—what our real relationship was. It seems to me that we are getting into an impossible state of affairs. There are all the other anomalies which my noble and learned friend and other noble Lords have brought to the attention of the Committee. There is every kind of difficulty where members of the family are of different patrial status. Then, on the economic side, there is the wife who had not earned but who nevertheless made up her mind that she would in the future. She could not prove it to the satisfaction of the Secretary of State. He would have to take her word for it.

Is there not an easier way out of all this? The Minister himself said that action can be taken at the present time in certain cases on non-conducive grounds. I do not much like the term"non-conducive ", but nevertheless it is there; it has been in our practice for a number of years. If one took out all this reference to family just as family, and if there are really non-conducive grounds, should not those grounds be given? Then there could be reasonable grounds of appeal against them. I am still worried on what sort of grounds an appeal, in the proper sense of the word"appeal ", can be made on the present provisions. We are glad that the Secretary of State has moved towards public opinion in so far as lie has agreed that there should be some grounds of appeal. We are told that the grounds of appeal will be governed largely by draft rules. These rules have not yet been formulated in this particular respect. The Minister very fairly said that he would like to have some suggestions from us. That is in itself a very reasonable attitude which we appreciate very much; but are we not embarking on an exercise which is fraught with illogicality and difficulties of human relationships which we ought not to undertake?

I put it seriously to the Minister: would it not be better not to include in the Statute this reference to family deportation? If there were grounds on which the Secretary of State could fairly say that the continued presence in this country of the wife and children of a being deported. I am suggesting to the woman to be deported—we must remember that her husband is not involved in this case; she is treated quite differently—was not conducive to public interest and that they should not stay here, they should be put forward by the Secretary of State as a reason for saying,"Your husband has been told to leave this country; we believe you should go too on the grounds that your continuing presence here will not be conducive to the public good ". Then it appears to me one could have a reasonable basis for appeal on grounds of public policy or social policy, without having to go into personal relationships, which I do not think is proper in a case where the persons concerned, the woman and the children, are not in themselves in any sense guilty. If they were in any sense guilty, then that would provide grounds for being not conducive to the public good. I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that this is one way of dealing with something which I believe all Members of your Lordships' Committee must find, in its present form, distasteful.


The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, said he welcomed this debate and that he would look carefully at the points of view expressed, particularly when he was drafting the rules. I think an overwhelming case has been made this evening about the evils of this particular subsection, and I wonder whether the noble Lord would be willing to look not only at what has been said in terms of the rules but at whether this subsection should remain in the Bill. We have listened to the debate on the assumption that the only people who will be at risk for deportation—the man himself and his family—are those who have just come into the country—let us say, for the first five years, the probation period. But many more men may be at risk, and many women at even more considerable risk, in the sense that they may marry somebody who was an immigrant but who has failed for various reasons to register; because unless he registers as a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, then he will be subject to deportation throughout his life while he remains in this country. So there could well be a situation where a Commonwealth immigrant has been in this country for perhaps some 10 or 15 years and has married, and where the wife has no idea at all that this man has not registered and is therefore subject to deportation. That is an intolerable position in which to place any woman in the so-called civilised society of this country. I will not go any further, but I wonder whether the noble Lord feels sufficiently confident in this matter to undertake to look at this particular subsection.


I should like to add just one word. I do not want to go over the arguments on this subsection which have been extremely well put forward, but I must tell my noble friend that I am in sympathy with the idea that this subsection should be taken out. I am certain that it will offend a great many women in the country; and guilt by association is to me very repugnant.


I should like to say that I agree with the point of view expressed by my noble friend Lady Emmet. I hope that the Minister will be able to find some means of assuring us that he will look again very carefully and constructively at the inclusion of this subsection in the Bill.


Does this legislation extend to aliens at present under the Aliens Restriction Act 1914?




Is one of the purposes of this subsection, as was mentioned last night, to prevent a family being split up? That is the second point. I have tried to understand Clause 5(4) which appears to be counteracted by Clause 5(3) by a matter of eight weeks. I could be wrong, but the words,"eight weeks"seem to destroy the following clause. I cannot understand it.


I should like to support this Amendment. I think that we all feel that when immigrants cone here the important thing is the long-term future in which they can settle happily into the community. Having listened to the Committee stage and some of the Second Reading I feel that a great deal of this Bill contains provisions which any administrator might find convenient in an emergency but which are simply not justified when taken against the context of the future of these people who, over five years, are reporting—never mind to whom, to the police or anybody else; but they are reporting. This thing will not be forgotten.

What we are saying today and what has been stirred up over this will probably be forgotten; but the terms of the Bill, the fears these people have over the five years' period, will bite deeply into them and will affect their long term settlement—I do not want to use the word"integration "—into the community. This Amendment would remove one more of those convenient provisions which are simply not justified by the circumstances.


Perhaps this would be an appropriate moment at which to wind up the discussion. I spoke at some length and gave the reasons why the Government believed this new power to be necessary. I went on to explain the sort of grounds, which we thought would be accepted in his discretion by the Home Secretary and upheld by the Immigration Appeal Tribunal, for the wife and children not to be included in the deportation order. We will want to study any practical suggestion. I think I am right in saying that the only person with such a suggestion is the noble Baroness, Lady White. She said that she would prefer the"non-conducive"power to be used. The noble Baroness also asked me earlier when a wife could return if she was included in the deportation order made against her husband. I understand that the wife can return, if eligible under the rules, when the order against her or her husband is revoked. She can apply for revocation of the order and appeal against refusal to revoke.

The noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, asked about the meaning of the word"wife ". It is defined in the Bill on page 7, line 26, as including"each of two or more wives ". I think that is the answer to the question he put.


I asked for a definition of the word"family ". I mentioned having more than one wife and, as an example, I gave a Hindu undivided family.


I dealt with that in my opening. I said it was the wife and children under 18. Children under 18 are self-defined. The power is concerned only with children under 18. Because the noble Lord referred to a situation where there might be more than one wife, I took the doubt to relate to the word"wife ". The noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, really struck at the root of this. He hinted that the reasons were mainly of administrative convenience, and he asked what was the object of the power. Perhaps it may help to bring life to the debate, which we have had in general terms if I relate the subject to actual circumstances, not giving the names of those involved.

There was a well-publicised case which occurred during the previous Administration when Mr. Callaghan was Home Secretary. An Italian had come to this country with a work permit, and was joined by his wife with four or five young children. The husband got into trouble and was convicted of more than one offence. He was deported. But the wife refused to go with him. Offers were made but she refused to take them up. She was living in Lancashire and was reasonably well off; she was living on public funds and had received something over £1,000, but she did not wish to leave the country. Social workers, I am informed—my information is second-hand but I have checked it—felt that it would be in her own interests to return to Italy, but she would not agree. The Italian Consul became involved, again without success. In the end, the Home Secretary decided to deport her and the family on non-conducive grounds. He took the course of action which the noble Baroness recommended.

But, apart from this one, there have been from time to time cases of Commonwealth citizens in similar circumstances. There is also a special problem with regard to the Irish. In many cases they marry women born in the United Kingdom and therefore no question of deportation arises because the woman has been born in the United Kingdom, is patrial under the Bill, and is therefore exempt from deportation proceedings. But there have been a number of cases of Irishmen who have arrived with their wives or have married Irish women who have been in this country for only a short period. Here again, there have been a number of cases where the wife has refused to leave, and continues to live on public funds after her husband has been deported. The continuing presence of the wife in this country sometimes serves to draw the husband back here again in breach of his deportation order, for Ireland is not very far away. It is only if we take power to remove the wife as well that the husband is likely to settle down again.

People talk about family unity and about divided families, and I hope that they will consider the merits of this particular proposition. The Irishman who comes over here may be living here doing casual work on a building site for a year. His wife may come with him, or he may marry an Irish girl here. Then he may be sentenced to deportation. I think there is force in the argument that the man—


May I—


If I may just finish this sentence I will willingly give way to the noble Baroness. I think there is force in the proposition that the man is likely to be drawn back; I am advised that this has actually happened with Irish citizens.


I am not in the least surprised. If the noble Lord has ever travelled from Ireland into this country he will know why. I came from Dublin the other day and it is the easiest thing in the world to get back there is no passport check, you simply show your Aer Lingus ticket. With the greatest respect to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, to bring the Irish into this question seems to be entirely beside the point. If we really wanted to keep the Irish out we should have to take far more drastic steps and have proper control; as we do not, we should accept the consequences.


That seems to be an argument on my side.


It is pointless having a deportation order in those circumstances.


If the noble Baroness is saying that it is not difficult for an Irish citizen to return here and rejoin his wife, surely, then, it makes sense to try to make it less attractive to him to come here in breach of a deportation order.


They can all come back.


The only alternative proposal that has been put in this debate has been that of the noble Baroness, who is on record as saying that she thinks it would be more appropriate for the Home Secretary to use his power to deport a person on the ground that his or her presence is not conducive to the public good. We part company on this, my Lords, and this is what I say in reply to the noble Baroness, Lady Emmet. When we talk of the stigma of deportation, does the noble Baroness really think that the stigma would be decreased by a woman herself being deported because her presence was not conducive to the public good? We had an Amendment on this earlier this afternoon and the significance of what is meant by"not conducive to the public good"was debated at some length; there were connotations

of undesirable aliens and so on. I should have thought that the stigma would be far greater if that method were used rather than what is proposed in the Bill.

I said that I would pay careful attention—and the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd picked that up—as indeed I will, to anything on the interpretation of this which we can usefully put in the draft provision eventually appearing in the Immigration Rules. But it seems to us—and I cannot pretend that anything said in this debate has added to those considerations which the Home Secretary has already considered—that what is in the Bill is on balance better than the alternative proposals.

9.3 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 48) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 48; Not-Contents, 67.

Airedale, L. Gaitskell, Bs. Seear, Bs.
Alport, L. Gardiner, L. Segal, L.
Bacon, Bs. Garnsworthy, L. [Teller.] Sempill, Ly.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Hanworth, V. Shackleton, L.
Beswick, L. Hoy, L. Shepherd, L.
Birdwood, L. Janner, L. Slater, L.
Birk, Bs. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs. Somers, L.
Brockway, L. Maelor, L. Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Buckinghamshire, E. Milner of Leeds, L. Tanlaw, L.
Byers, L. Morris of Kenwood, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Champion, L. Nunburnholme, L. Teviot, L.
Craigmyle, L. Phillips, Bs. Wade, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Platt, L. White, Bs.
Diamond, L. Popplewell, L. Winterbottom, L.
Emmet of Amberley, Bs. Raglan, L. Wootton of Abinger, Bs.
Energlyn, L. St. Davids, V. Wynne-Jones, L.
Aberdare, L. Ferrers, E. Monk Bretton, L.
Abinger, L. Ferrier, L. Mountevans, L.
Auckland, L. Goschen, V. [Teller.] Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Balfour, E. Gray, L. Napier and Ettrick, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Greenway, L. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Belstead, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Oakshott, L.
Berkeley, Bs. Hailes, L. Orr-Ewing, L.
Bessborough, E. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.) Radnor, E.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Rankeillour, L.
Buchan, E. Harris, L. Rochdale, V.
Conesford, L. Harvey of Tasburgh, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Cork and Orrery, E. Hood, V. St. Just, L.
Cornwallis, L. Inglewood, L. St. Oswald, L.
Craigavon, V. Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.) Sandford, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Killearn, L. Strathclyde, L.
Daventry, V. Latymer, L. Terrington, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Lothian, M. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.
Digby, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Vivian, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Macleod of Borve, Bs. Waldegrave, E.
Dundee, E. Mancroft, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Ellenborough, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Windlesham, L.
Elliot of Harwood, Bs. Merrivale, L. Wolverton, L.
Falkland, V. Monckton of Brenchley, V.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

9.11 p.m.

LORD GARDINER moved Amendment No. 50: Page 5, line 1, leave out (" seventeen ") and insert (" eighteen ").

The noble and learned Lord said: I put this down as a probing Amendment and can deal with it in a couple of sentences. We like our law to be reasonably consistent and we have now taken the view that there is a dividing line at 18. A person at 18 is responsible for himself or herself and is responsible for any wrongdoing. Of course, a person under 18 can also do wrong and be punished, but he or she is regarded as a child. The question I want to ask is this. If there is to be an age at which, if a person does something wrong, it can lead to deportation, is it to be 18? Why is it 17 in the Bill? I beg to move.


I think I can give the noble and learned Lord an answer to his question fairly succinctly. The present situation is that the age of 17 is now the minimum age for liability to deportation on the recommendation of a court under Section 7 of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962. It was then, and still is under more recent legislation, the age at which a person ceases to be a"young person"within the meaning of the Children and Young Persons Act, and so ceases to be subject to the jurisdiction of the law of the juvenile court and to have the benefit of other provisions of the law, which put children and young persons in a special and protected position. The Government still consider 17 to be the most appropriate age to fix as the minimum one for deportation on the recommendation by a court (I stress this last word) and think it right to take the opportunity presented by the Bill to introduce the same age for aliens. I should say that the fact that an offender has reached the age of 17 will in no way oblige the court to recommend him for deportation. In these, as in other respects, the courts will take account of all the relevant facts, including the comparative youth of the offender, as well as the nature of his offence and of his previous record. Likewise the Secretary of State will not be bound to act on the court's recommendation, and before making a deportation Order he will have full regard to the age of the offender and any family ties that he has.


I am much obliged to the Minister for the attention that he has kindly given to the point and for what he has said, which I should like to think about. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

9.21 p.m.

LORD BEAUMONT OF WHITLEY moved Amendment No. 51: Page 5, line 1, leave out (" he is punishable with imprisonment ") and insert (" the maximum penalty of imprisonment is not less than 12 months ").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 51. This is a simple Amendment which I think will be fairly easily accepted by the Government. It is, I think, common ground that we do not want deportation to happen in cases of criminal offences for any minor reason. We do not want to leave any enormous amount of discretion on this matter, not because we think the discretion will be abused, but because it is most important—and this lies behind many of the Amendments that we are putting forward on this Bill—that people living in this country who come under the terms of this Bill should feel that they are safe and that they are not subject to discrimination.

The purpose of the Amendment is to make certain that people do not become liable to deportation for minor offences. Therefore the Amendment provides that no one should be liable for deportation unless the offence for which he has been convicted is punishable with a penalty of a maximum term of imprisonment of not less than 12 months. In my view, we could have put it a great deal higher, because no offence for which the maximum penalty is 12 months is a very serious one. But at the moment this is probably the right Amendment to put forward to probe what the Government think about this point. The other purpose of the Amendment, another facet of the same point, is that it should not be an offence that is liable to conviction by a magistrates' court. In our view, no one should feel that he is in peril of deportation because he has committed a small offence of the sort that is punished by a maximum penalty of less than 12 months and is tried in a magistrates' court.


Clause 3(6) proposes to continue the provisions of the existing law under which both aliens and Commonwealth and Irish citizens may be recommended for deportation on conviction by a court of an offence punishable by imprisonment. This Amendment, as the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, has explained, seeks to provide that a court shall have power to recommend deportation only on conviction of an offence punishable by imprisonment for not less than 12 months. The main reason why this Amendment would not be feasible—and I think the noble Lord may feel able to accept this—is that no person could, in consequence, be recommended for deportation in all the cases where conviction is for evasion of the immigration controls, since the maximum penalty for illegal entry into this country, overstaying or other breach of conditions, is six months' imprisonment. This is set out in Clause 24 of the Bill, which says: …a fine of not more than £200 or with imprisonment for not more than six months "— and then goes on to list the immigration offences to which that penalty applies. Clearly it would be unacceptable to provide that deportation could not be recommended for breach of conditions or evasion of the immigration controls, for which it is generally the most appropriate course. This now is, and should surely remain, the most proper sanction provided for by the law controlling immigration.

But there are other offences as well for which the maximum sentence is less than twelve months and which are serious enough to serve as a proper basis for a recommendation for deportation, especially in the case of the persistent offender. But I think the noble Lord would agree that if somebody comes into this country illegally and is convicted by the courts under Clause 24 (and the maximum period of imprisonment is six months) it would be curious if he could not be deported, even though lie had evaded the immigration controls. That would be the effect of the Amendment.


Of course, I agree with the noble Lord about that; but that is a separate point. Under this clause anyone is liable to be deported merely by reason of being drunk and disorderly. I entirely agree on the point of the evasion of immigration controls. I should have thought that that, above all things, would have been a case for a separate clause in the Bill. If the noble Lord does not see fit to put down a separate Amendment on those particular cases in order to meet this point, we should be delighted to do it for him; because I do not think that by stating this particular case which could, and in my view should (since this is a Bill about immigration) be dealt with by a particular clause of the Bill, he can get away with the problem of the minor offender. I should have thought, in terms of community relationships, with which we are all concerned—and I know that the Minister in charge of these matters is most concerned about this—that this particular clause, which makes one liable to deportation for offences which may be extremely minor, must be one which exercises the minds and fears of Commonwealth citizens living in this country.

We all know that there is a great fear on the part of many coloured people living in this country that the police discriminate against them. We all know that in the vast majority of instances it is untrue. There may be a few minor cases where this unfortunately happens, because we are all human and the police are human, too. But there is no doubt that this is a suspicion in the mind not only of the ordinary coloured person but also of the community leaders in various parts of the country. If we can get away from the idea that there is a danger of being deported, that one can get shot off for something not very important, we should be moving a considerable way towards establishing a greater degree of confidence in the working of this Bill among the coloured communities. The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, put forward this major point, which can and should be dealt with elsewhere in the Bill. He said that there were other offences which would not be covered by this clause, offences which would be grounds for deportation. That may be; but before I venture to withdraw this Amendment—if I do so—I should like to ask him to say what he thought they were.


I willingly respond to that suggestion. I hope that the noble Lord and others taking part in the Committee stage who are concerned with Amendments of this kind will not try to use the community relations argument too frequently on matters which are really extremely straightforward. I am aware, of course, of the importance of what the noble Lord said about the confidence of the immigrant communities and how they view the police and the courts, and so on, but I do not think that whether or not we say"an offence punishable with imprisonment ", or"an offence punishable with imprisonment for not more than 12 months"should be a consideration to enter into the debate. Let me give a little more detail. I have a case in front of me where a man was deported from this country. He had nine minor convictions against him in the particular period of residence. He had been here before, and had seven previous convictions. These were all in a magistrates' court. The maximum period of imprisonment that, generally speaking, anybody can be sentenced to by a magistrates' court is six months. Therefore the matter of the persistent offender, the man who is constantly in trouble in the courts, is something which has to be taken into account.


Is it not a point that the magistrates' court, if they felt that here was a persistent offender and six months' imprisonment was inadequate, could send the case to quarter sessions for a higher sentence? I suggest that the noble Lord's point does not really meet our case.


We must be more reasonable about this. This is not so. I gave an example of a man who had nine convictions in a magistrates' court. He had been here before, and had seven previous convictions. He was deported then—but not until then. So he could not say that he had not had a pretty good run.


For what offences?


A list of them. Several were motoring offences, handling of stolen goods and so on. One can quarrel about whether this is right or wrong, but let us not forget that this paragraph refers to convictions in a magistrates' court. We are talking about somebody who has been convicted, who has been through the process of justice, and who, if it is felt that there is any reason why he should not be convicted of an offence punishable with imprisonment, will not be so convicted. We are making slightly heavy weather of this. There is the unanswerable reason, as the noble Lord has accepted, that first of all one would remove straight away people who had evaded the control in all the ways itemised in Clause 24. The noble Lord says he accepts that, but it should be put in another clause stating"Not more than 12 months ". This would exclude from the operation of the clause all offences tried in magistrates' courts, and I cannot believe that that would be desirable.


May I raise a point on that in support of my noble friend Lord Shepherd? I sit as a magistrate, and on so many occasions we have to tell the defendant that if his record is such that the offence merits a greater sentence than we can give we can send the case to Quarter Sessions. This, therefore, copes with that point.

I am not sure that I can entirely support the Amendment as it stands, but there is some confusion in the clause at the moment. If offences which merit deportation are those which evade the immigration laws, and are covered by the clause, then that ought to be spelt out differently. I have a certain amount of concern about this, not so much from the police angle but from 'the court angle. The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, is right that if this is left as it is it means that many minor offences, for which there are alternatives of imprisonment or fines, could be interpreted in a certain way by the courts. There is a great variety of interpretation by the courts, and the matter should be made as precise and succinct as possible.


In what way? All we are debating is the phrase, an offence"punishable with imprisonment ". I believe the noble Baroness will find that these words have a precise meaning.


That means that even if the offence merits imprisonment of one month or two weeks this can still apply.


The Minister is treating this a little cavalierly. The point of the Amendment is not with regard to the offender who receives 12 months' imprisonment, but that a man should not be deported because of a petty offence. The noble Lord has said nothing to reassure us on this,. One can be sent to prison for a petty offence very easily. The noble Lord quoted the case of somebody who had been sent 16 times. I can beat that with our nationals very easily. But the point is that if this chap had committed one, two or three petty offences, which he easily might, and then had got into the right hands he might very well be led towards a new life—and that is the moment you choose to deport him. I believe there is a point of substance here. We may not insist on 12 months, but could we not have some kind of a minimum? I should like to feel that something on those lines could be given us.

9.31 p.m.


I think I must clarify this matter, because perhaps I did not make myself clear. Subsection (6) deals with liability to deportation. Before a man over the age of 17 is actually deported, or before the Home Secretary makes a deportation order against him, one of two things must happen. Either he must be recommended for deportation by the courts—and in the circumstances which the noble Lord has referred to, that of a petty offender, the court would not recommend him for deportation—


I hope not.


—or the Home Secretary himself will decide that the man's record is such, with the fact that he has been convicted of an offence punishable with imprisonment, that it is necessary that the man should be deported. Therefore, this provision does not say that if a man has committed a petty offence he must be deported; it says that he is merely liable to be. On one of the earlier Amendments we discussed the process of deportation in a little detail. I explained that these are cases which are reviewed personally by the Home Secretary. Nobody may sign a deportation order except the Secretary of State. In quite a number of cases where a court recommends deportation, the Home Secretary, for one reason or another—compassionate circumstances may have been advanced; representations made, he may feel, were too harsh—may decide, and in a number of cases does decide, not to implement the recommendation of the court.


I do not want to go on with this discussion for too long, but it is the same old argument. If we have a decent Home Secretary this is all right. None of us worries about this under the present Home Secretary or maybe the next. But if we have a change of opinion and a vicious attitude towards immigrants, which is not outside the realms of possibility, under these terms it is possible to whip people away for very small offences. This is what I find difficult. I should like to see a minimum—but I see that I am not going to get it.


I think what troubles us is the way the scales seem to be weighted against the Commonwealth immigrant. Some of us do not feel that one ought to be deported for something like a number of parking offences.


One would not be.


Well, the noble Lord says one would not be, but you conceivably could be. In the cases we asked him about, we wanted to know what sort of crimes would be committed and we were told parking—or, rather, motor-car offences. We have laws, do we not, which we think are sense, about not paying much attention to first offence? And, of course, where there is an absolute discharge that it is not a conviction at all. Also, a conditional discharge is a conviction only if one breaks the condition. When it comes to Commonwealth immigrants we break all this, and in Clause 6 we say: For the purposes of section 3(6) above—"— that is the one we have been talking about concerning deportation— the question whether an offence is one for which a person is punishable with imprisonment shall be determined without regard to any enactment restricting the imprisonment of young offenders or first offenders ". Then the clause continues: and for purposes of deportation a person who on being charged with an offence is found to have committed it shall, notwithstanding any enactment to the contrary and notwithstanding that the court does not proceed to conviction, be regarded as a person convicted of the offence ". The whole thing seems to be so weighted against the Commonwealth immigrant that one hopes that the Government will reconsider this.


I speak from memory and therefore subject to correction, but I think the noble and learned Lord will find that this is the position now. At the present time, Commonwealth immigrants can be deported if they are convicted by a court of an offence punishable by imprisonment and recommended for deportation. That is the position under the existing legislation. It may be that there are some small details to be considered, but when the Commonwealth citizens get into trouble they are already liable to be deported so that I do not think the argument of loading the scales against them can be applied here.

What is more, if it is said that the Bill is unnecessary, we run into these absurd arguments, as we did on the first Amendment, whereby if we were to revert to the previous legislation, immigration rules, let alone not being subject to Affirmative Resolution, would not be subject to any form of Parliamentary control at all. I think the protection lies in the attitude of the courts. The courts are not going to recommend a man for deportation for a parking offence, nor is the Home Secretary going to regard a single offence as a crime for which a man should be deported. He will use his discretion. To try to exclude all those offences known to the law—and I say this in the presence of a former Lord Chancellor—covering, generally speaking, everything in a magistrates' court with a maximum sentence of six months (which would be the effect of this Amendment) would not be in the best interests of the country.


I wonder whether my noble friend could clear up one point? The Bill contains the words"punishable by imprisonment ". There are many minor crimes which are punishable by either a fine or a short term of imprisonment. If the offender agrees to pay the fine it is still a crime which is punishable by imprisonment. Would it not make it clearer if we were to substitute the word"punished"for the word"punishable "?


I do not think it would, although the former occupant of the Woolsack is far better versed to answer questions of that sort than I am. I should like to let the noble Lord have a more detailed reply, but the crucial concept is whether or not the offence is punishable by imprisonment. The law recognises that some offences are so severe that they are punishable by imprisonment, but what the court does then with regard to conviction is the crucial thing, and I think that was the point raised by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner.


The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, is fully entitled to raise the argument about what would happen if we did not pass this Bill, and to say that we would be no better off in regard to the things we are objecting to. He is entitled to say that to those of us (among whom I and my noble friends are proud to number ourselves) who voted against the Second Reading of this Bill. But I do not think he is really entitled to put it forward as an argument in favour of this Bill. In fact what we are all trying to do, now that the Bill has had its Second Reading, is to produce the best Bill possible to deal with immigration, and I still think that the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, has not really seized himself of the point that I am making.

He semi-rebuked me for bringing in the community relationship side and I entirely accept, particularly from him, because I know that he has immense care for anything of this nature, that this can be abused and certainly should not be used too often. I do not think that he actually realises yet how important this particular point and this particular clause is to this argument, but he might realise it a bit more because of the exchange that has gone on between the two sides of the House. All noble Lords agree that no likely court or Home Secretary in the near future is likely to abuse the situation. The noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, said that it was not unforeseeable that some Home Secretary in the future might want to abuse the situation, and I do not deny it, but I do not rest my case on that. I rest my case on the fact that to make people liable for deportation for very minor offences indeed is something which can seriously disturb community relations. I do not use these words lightly. I am not trying to stir up trouble. I think this is an extremly important point indeed.

I take Lord Windlesham's point that there are serious offences which come before magistrates' courts and which might produce the situation where one would, however reluctantly, want to deport, and I am not asking for any assurance from the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, on this particular point. I am merely saying that I hope he will agree to meet myself, or one of my noble friends, and possibly one or two of our advisers, to talk about this matter, because it seems to me from this debate that it is an issue that he has not seriously got to the bottom of and which has taken him slightly by surprise in this particular context. Having said that, and having not asked for any assurance because I know the noble Lord's goodwill, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


My noble friend, Lord Foot, had given notice of an Amendment, No. 52, to leave out subsection (7). In view of the fact that, as your Lordships have already been informed, my noble friend is unfortunately unable to be here, and that the Labour Party has tabled an Amendment on virtually the same point, I will not move this Amendment.

9.43 p.m.

LORD SHEPHERD moved Amendment No. 53:

Page 5, line 4, leave out subsection (7) and insert— (" (7) Where any immigration officer, constable or other person authorised by the Secretary of State reasonably believes it to be necessary so to do for the purposes of ensuring the safety of any ship or aircraft or the passengers therein or crew thereof he may prohibit any person from embarking thereon and may further prohibit him from embarking upon any other ship or aircraft of any specified class and the Secretary of State may at any time cancel such prohibition or give such person leave to embark either at a specified place and time or otherwise subject to conditions.")

The noble Lord said: With permission, in moving Amendment No. 53 I would also speak to No. 57. The purpose of this Amendment is to delete subsection (7) and substitute the words on the Marshalled List. Subsection (7) appears to me to consist of two points. First, it appears that the Government are seeking powers, through an Order in Council, to deal with a situation which I think was described in another place, when Her Majesty's Government wish to take some form of retaliatory action against nationals of a country who have taken certain actions against ours. I think the reference made in another place was to the restrictions that were placed upon the Chinese nationals in this country during our difficulties in 1967–68. I believe the Government are entitled to take these powers. In fact, I am wondering how the previous Administration were able to take action if the Government now see the need to put this provision into this Bill. But whether the Government need the powers or not, I question whether it is right and proper to put such a provision in an Immigration Bill.

The second part of subsection (7) looks to me like a provision, through an Order in Council, to deal with hijacking; in other words, to take certain steps to prevent individuals from joining an aircraft or a ship if their presence is likely to endanger the aircraft or the ship. In our Amendment No. 53 we make this provision available, but we give the power to the Secretary of State to prohibit"any person ". It seems to me very strange that if the Government are taking these powers in regard to hijacking they should take powers to deal only with those who are not patrials. In other words, it seems to me, from this Bill, that the Government think that only the non-partials need to be dealt with, and anyone who is a patrial—and who may be of foreign descent and perhaps a security risk—is not dealt with by this subsection. In deleting subsection (7) we are putting back in its place a power to the Secretary of State enabling him to prohibit any person from embarking on a ship or an aircraft if he feels that there is a risk to the safety of the aircraft or ship.

Amendment No. 57 is to provide appeals where a person has been prohibited from embarking on a ship or aircraft by virtue of subsection (7), in which case such a person would have a right to make an appeal to a judge in Chambers in the High Court' of England or the High Court of Justiciary in Scotland, and that judge may make such an order subject to such conditions as he may consider just. With those very quick remarks, I beg leave to move Amendment No. 53 and speak to Amendment No. 57.


May I ask just one question here? On page 5, line 16, at the end is mentioned"in the interests of safety ". I wonder whether this means the safety of the person embarking on the ship, or that the ship may possibly be sailing under one of those flags of convenience and not in any way conforming to our regulations of safety at sea. If that is the case, why does it extend only to those who are not patrial?

9.48 p.m.


I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, for the brief manner in which he introduced these two Amendments, which are certainly linked together. As he says, the Amendments that he is moving to Clause 3 would substitute a new version of subsection (7), giving power to restrict embarkation only in the interests of safety. I understand that these Amendments were moved in another place, and were negatived, I think without a Division.

I should like briefly to explain why we think that the clause should remain as it is. Under the present law—that is the Aliens Order 1953—every alien leaving the United Kingdom for a destination outside the common travel area needs to obtain the leave of an immigration officer to embark. The Order does not limit in any way the grounds on which leave to embark may be refused, save that immigration officers are required, in the exercise of their function, to comply with the instructions of the Secretary of State. The power to refuse leave has, in practice, been very seldom exercised, and I understand its existence has not given rise to any general volume of complaint.

In preparing this Bill, the Government have reviewed the need for powers to restrict embarkation and have concluded that they are needed only to the extent that Clause 3(7) in its present form provides, that is, powers to impose restrictions on the embarkation of nationals of countries whose Governments are restricting the departure from their territory of citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies; and, secondly, to enable passengers to be prohibited in the interests of safety from embarking on a particular ship or aircraft. We feel that there is no reason to distinguish between Commonwealth citizens and aliens in the exercise of these powers.

As the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, knows perfectly well, the case for having the power to prevent the embarkation of nationals of a country whose Government was restricting the departure of citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies was put in another place in Standing Committee by my honourable friend Mr. Kershaw, and a similar Amendment was negatived. This power is being sought in order to enable the Government to protect the interests of citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies who are overseas. We believe that it is desirable that the Government should have the ability to respond in kind to such action by another Government, because otherwise this country would have to choose between taking no measures to counter another State's action and taking measures of a different kind which could not so easily be justified on grounds of reciprocity. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, has himself mentioned the case of the China incident in 1967 and the action taken in those circumstances under an Order in Council, under the Aliens Order 1967, which enabled the Secretary of State to extend the requirement of leave to embark to any specified class of aliens embarking for places outside the common travel area.

The Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, to this clause would retain, with some alterations, the power to prohibit embarkation in the interests of safety. This power is being retained in relation to aliens and extended to other persons subject to immigration control simply by way of precaution. The power which now exists under Article 1 of the Aliens Order 1953 to refuse leave to embark could be used to prevent a suspected hijacker from boarding an aircraft. This power, I understand, has not been used, but while the whole question of hijacking is with us and the menace remains, it seems advisable not to surrender the use of the power in such cases or to miss the opportunity of extending it to all those subject to control.

The main alteration from the present law which would be made by the Amendment would be that the power to prohibit embarkation would be exercisable against anyone, whether patrial or not. While it is perfectly true, and one cannot deny it, that a person who was patrial would not necessarily be any less successful as a hijacker than someone who was not patrial, we feel that it is not really appropriate within the confines of the Immigration Bill to seek powers to control for this purpose the movement of anyone not subject to immigration control. Clause 3(7) in its present form is intended, as I have tried to explain, to preserve to a limited extent the power now available in regard to aliens and in line with general policy of unifying control to extend the sane power to Commonwealth citizens. I think that is logical.

The application of such a power to people who are exempt from immigration control and, in the words of Clause 1(1), are to be free…to come and go into and from the United Kingdom without let or hindrance would be an unprecedented curtailment of personal liberty which the Government do not at present believe to be justified. The Hijacking Bill, to which the House gave a Second Reading yesterday, gives effect to the Convention on the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft signed at the Hague on December 16, 1970. For the sake of speedy passage through Parliament, the Bill is confined to the minimum provisions necessary for this purpose.

We feel that further legislation will probably be needed in due course to provide protection against acts of violence on aircraft other than hijacking, and this will give an opportunity for a more comprehensive review of what powers are needed. At present, the Government are advised that it is not necessary or desirable to go beyond what is provided in Clause 3(7), and we do not feel that the fact that we are not proposing to take power to restrain the departure of patrials is a reason for suspending the present power to restrict the embarkation of aliens (as narrowed by the clause) or for failing to take this opportunity of extending it to other non-patrials.

My noble friend Lord Balfour mentioned the phrase in the interests of safety ". This matter was raised in another place, and I think it was suggested that the phrase was wider than was necessary to achieve the purpose which the Government had indicated. We believe it is wise to use words of a fairly wide scope in this instance, so as not to fetter unduly the power of making Orders in Council to deal with future threats to the safety of ships or aircraft which may take forms not now envisaged. I think the noble Lord can take it from that that the word"safety"can apply equally to the passengers and to the ship or aircraft concerned. The phrase has been deliberately kept wide.

Amendment No. 57 is concerned with appeals, and the question is really: given that some power to prohibit or restrict embarkation is to be retained, but only in relation to people who are not patrial, should there be any form of appeal against its exercise? Although the whole question of appeals against decisions in the field of immigration control was considered by the previous Government and by Parliament in 1969, no provision was then made for a right of appeal against the unlimited power to refuse leave to embark to an alien which has been available for many years under the present law. My understanding is that this omission has given rise to no complaint and there does not seem to be any evidence that the power has been abused, or has been felt to be abused. Our feeling is that there is really no case for making the much more limited powers proposed in Clause 3(7) subject to a right of appeal.

I hope I have explained to the noble Lord why we want the clause to stand as it is, and why we prefer not to accept his Amendment. I have gone to some lengths to explain the position as we see it, because it is an important, if not a very large, point and I hope that he will be satisfied with that explanation.


I should like to say how very grateful I am that the question which I asked has been very well answered, and I entirely support the Government.


In view of that remark, it is rather difficult to know what to say. I am grateful for the rather lengthy reply of the noble Marquess, which I shall study with great care when I see Hansard tomorrow. We never questioned why it should be in this Bill. However, the noble Marquess has given an explanation.

In regard to hijacking, if the noble Marquess does not wish to take power to deal with"any person ", as we suggest, and wants to deal only with non-patrials, so be it. I think the Government are wrong, and I think that eventually they will have to produce legislation to cover all persons. But that is for the Government to decide. With regard to the appeal procedure, I will carefully note what the noble Marquess has said, and might well come back to it on Report. But we will leave it like that. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

10.1 p.m.

LORD WADE moved Amendment No. 54: Page 5, line 2, leave out subsection (8).

The noble Lord said: I am moving this Amendment in order to raise just one or two points about burden of proof. It relates to Clause 3(8). It seems reasonable that someone entering the country should be expected to prove whether or not he is a patrial, and under normal circumstances anyone entering the country would have the necessary documents before he began his journey. But I am not quite happy about those who are already in the country, and I should like to know the mind of the Government on this.

For example, if one goes to stay at an hotel—I do not want to embark on the subject of the hotel register, which we come to a little later on; I simply take that by way of illustration—does this mean that, in effect, everyone will have to carry some document about with him to show whether he is a patrial or a non-partial? If that is not so, then what exactly is to happen? Anyone can be questioned at any time, and the mere statement,"I am a patrial ", or an entry in a register calling oneself a patrial or otherwise, will riot suffice. I can see the possibilities of a very embarrassing situation arising if the burden of proof is always on the person who claims to be a patrial or a non-patrial. I beg to move.


May I add a general question? If one is a British subject, is there any burden of proof on one to show that one is a British subject? I simply do not know. If I am taken into custody because of a brawl in a pub and I am taken to a police station, if I say I am a British subject do I have to prove it? I do not know.


No, the noble Lord does not; and the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Wade, does not, I think, really arise. A certificate of patriality is needed as an entry document, because the essence of the patrial clause is that those who have a particularly close connection by birth or ancestry with the United Kingdom are exempt from immigration control. It is there—and I think the noble Lord accepts the need for this—that the man must convince the immigration officer that he is patrial. Otherwise, anyone could come along and say,"It is quite all right officer; I am patrial. Just stand aside and let me in ". There has to be some arrangement to deal with that. What is proposed is that there should be this certificate which will be issued by the High Commission posts abroad before the man leaves, when he will produce birth certificate, marriage certificate and the rest. But these are entry documents. I cannot envisage that the person already in this country will be required on any occasion to show this.


I hope I am not being very obtuse, but the subsection reads: When any question arises under this Act whether or not a person is patrial, or is entitled to any exemption under this Act, it shall lie on the person asserting it to prove that he is. Do I understand that this is really limited only to questions of entry?


I would say that in the main that is so. The only exception I can think of offhand is on the question of deportation, because the man who is patrial is not liable to deportation and there might be circumstances in which he would be asked to prove that. So that would be a case after he has been admitted. Generally speaking, it is at the point of entry that the man would need to show that he is exempt from our immigration controls.


I am glad to have that assurance. I should like to give it a little further thought, but in view of what has been said by the noble Lord I beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

10.5 p.m.

LORD BEAUMONT OF WHITLEY moved Amendment No. 55: Page 5, line 25, at end insert (" which certificate shall take the form of an endorsement in his passport.")

The noble Lord said: I beg leave to move the Amendment standing in the name of my noble friends. In view of the rather reassuring answer to the last Amendment (as my noble friend Lord Wade has said, we shall want to study it, but it appeared to be much more satisfactory than we had feared) there is very little that I want to say on this Amendment. I want slightly acidly to point out in the terms of what my noble friends and myself have said about this whole Bill, that whereas this indeed purports to be a Bill which simplifies the whole business about immigration, in effect, it multiplies the categories intensely. Not content with creating this new class of patrials—and I would remind the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, of what the late Lady Asquith said about the concept of"belongers"on a previous Bill—we now move into an area of first-class and second-class patrials: those under Clause 2(1)(a) and (b) of the Bill who do not require this certificate, and those who qualify under the remaining subsections who do.

What I am really asking is whether this Amendment is not really a rather good, satisfactory and practical way of dealing with something which people fear would be rather a bogey about the whole burden of proof. The certificate of patriality, although Lord Windlesham tells us it will only be needed on entry, has raised a large number of bogeys. I am sorry if the noble Lord again thinks that I am playing too much on people's fears: but people do talk about pass laws. I accept from what he said on the last Amendment that there is no truth in this; nevertheless, it would be desirable to find some simple way of dealing with the certificate of patriality and not allow it to become just another piece of paper which anyone can lose, and particularly those who are not well-educated and are rather awed by pieces of paper.

Everyone who comes into the country presumably has to have a passport. Why cannot the certificate be endorsed on the passport together with such matters as the regulations for the replacement of loss. These are all perfectly well understood. It seems to me that this is actually a rather practical way of dealing with the problem, and we await with interest what the Government have to say. I beg to move.

10.9 p.m.


I think I can accept every word the noble Lord has said. That is exactly how we have aproached the subject. I do not think him wrong to introduce the community relations aspect into what he said. I think the word"patrial"has overtones and the idea of a certificate of patriality can touch off certain feelings. Under present practice, an entry certificate for Commonwealth citizens or a visa required by aliens takes the form of an entry made in the passport of the person to whom it is issued. The advantage of this practice is that the visa or entry certificate then forms part of a document containing a photograph and other identifying particulars of the holder, and so is not open to the risk of use by someone else as would be a separate document. We have it in mind that a certificate of patriality will likewise consist of an entry in the passport. The precise form of entry to be used for the purpose of an entry certificate or a visa is still under consideration, particularly with a view to increasing security against forgery and falsification. We do not think it would be right, although we accept the spirit of what the noble Lord has said, to lay down narrowly that the certificate of patriality must be an endorsement. The word"endorsement"is a fairly technical one and we think it should be open to the Government from time to time to vary the nature of the certificate in the light of experience. But our present intention is to do exactly what he has urged upon us to do.


I am extremely happy to hear the explanation of the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, and in view of it I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 [Administration of control]:

On Question, Whether Clause 4 shall stand part of the Bill?

10.8 p.m.


I think we are concerned with almost every sentence in Clause 4. I propose to deal with it in a Committee way, and I shall be asking a number of questions for information, to which I hope the noble Lord may be able to reply. I begin with the first sentence: The power under this Act to give or refuse leave to enter the United Kingdom shall be exercised by immigration officers. The details regarding the functions of immigration officers are stated in subsection (2), and I shall immediately proceed to that subsection, returning to other points in subsection (1) later on.

The immigration officers have an almost impossible task and they are frequently blamed. They are instruments of decisions made by the Government for the exclusion of immigrants for the practice of discrimination. As the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, knows—and I have perhaps troubled him too often in this respect—I have considerable experience in this field, and therefore wish to say at once that I do not take the view that there should be criticism of immigration officers as a class for their administration. I doubt whether there are any public servants who have such an extraordinarily difficult task. They are met by immigrants from other countries who are quite new to the situation in this country, who feel nervous and strange. They may speak English, but they speak English with other pronunciations, which again makes communication difficult.

They have different backgrounds, and any association between immigration officers and the incoming immigrants is extraordinarily difficult. Someone has asked the immigrant's age. On occasions they come from countries where there is no registration of age. They give a number of years and the immigration officer is doubtful because of the appearance of the person. A woman claims to be a married wife of an immigrant already here. Again there is the difficulty that in some of these territories more than one wife is legitimate. It is extraordinarily difficult for the immigration officer to come to a conclusion on that matter. Some claim they are coming to relatives in this country. This is immediately appropriate to both the noble Lord and myself, because only yesterday I was asking him a question about a case of this kind. Is that really right? Proof is extraordinarily difficult.

I take the view that we are asking immigration officers to fulfil a task which ought not to be demanded of any public servant. It requires an appreciation, a sensitivity, a human association, of which very few people are capable. From my experience I would make this suggestion to the noble Lord for his consideration. When an immigration officer making inquiries of this kind is troubled, when he cannot find an answer, there should be a small group of very carefully selected specialised persons to whom such cases should be referred; and when that investigation is made representatives of organisations who act for the welfare of immigrants should be allowed to be present. If very carefully selected appointments could be made to that group to whom difficulties could be referred, I believe some of the almost impossible problems of the immigration officer might be met.

I conclude what I am saying about that by emphasising that I think these immigration officers are attempting to carry out a task imposed upon them by Parliament; they have to suffer the blame for mistakes which are made; and inevitably, under the conditions of their inquiries, they may become impatient and perhaps intolerant, even the most tolerant of them. The blame should not be attached to them, but to those who require that they should fufil those services.

I want to ask a series of questions on subsection (2) of this clause. How are these immigration officers selected? Schedule 2 states that the selection is by the Secretary of State for Home Affairs. I think we must all appreciate that he cannot have that personal responsibility for selection. If what I have said about the task of immigration officers is true, how they are recruited and selected becomes tremendously important. Their task is somewhat similar to that of social workers. Before social workers can undertake their task they have to pass through a period of education in polytechnics or other colleges, which includes some psychology. I should like to ask how these immigration officers, who have a task just as difficult as any social worker, are selected, and from whom they are recruited. I should like to know the actual methods of selection.

I have been dealing with subsection (2)(a), and I now want to ask the Minister to look at subsection (2)(b). This is a paragraph which refers to those who come to this country as crews of ships or aircraft, landing at our ports or our aerodromes, and asking to be here for a period until the ships are unloaded or until the aircraft fly. On this, I only want to ask what are the special powers exercisable in these cases. There is a reference to those special powers, and I think we have a right to know what they are.

I turn now to paragraph (c), where we find that these immigration officers have not only the task of interrogation, to which I have referred, but also the task of removal. I want to ask the Minister whether he will reconsider this fact, of the same officers having the task of inquiry and of carrying out deportation. Again I speak with some knowledge. The day before yesterday a man was on a plane to be deported and a Member of Parliament wished to make inquiries about him. The Ministry, with their usual sympathetic response, took him off the plane and detained him while the representations of the Member of Parliament could be made. The second day he was to be deported again and I made representations, and again he was held back from being deported. I am suggesting to the Minister that the persons who are responsible for the inquiries should be separated from the persons who are responsible for the removals: otherwise the persons who are responsible for the inquiries will become prejudiced, because they are also responsible for the removals. This becomes particularly true in cases such as the British citizens of East Africa who have come here, been sent back, come here again and been sent hack; so that the personnel responsible for those double tasks are inevitably prejudiced in their minds.

I turn now to paragraph (d), which is concerned with the detention of persons pending examination. I recognise at once that an improvement has been made in this matter, although very belatedly. However, the practice of sending these persons to a prison while inquiries are made has now been modified. There are three places of detention to which they may go. There is a detention centre at Building No. 2, Heathrow, where persons may be detained for a day or two if it is intended to prevent them from entering and if there is a possibility of deportation. I should be interested to hear whether the Minister could give particulars of the circumstances in which this broader detention in Building No. 2 may occur. Secondly, there is the Harmondsworth Centre, which has been established in order to prevent people from being sent to prisons, as they were formerly. I should be interested to know the particular function and purpose of this detention centre and on what grounds the decisions are reached to send people there rather than to prison. I should like also to put these broader questions to the Minister. How long can a Commonwealth citizen be detained, either at Harmondsworth or in prison? There have been cases where people have been committed for three months in prison and then released with considerable freedom. I think that in connection with this clause one has the right to know how long a person can be detained. The second point I want to raise is also indicated in subsection (1). It is in this sentence: …the power to give leave to remain in the United Kingdom, or to vary any leave under section 3(3)(a) (whether as regards duration or conditions), shall be exercised by the Secretary of State…". That is an extraordinary power. I find it difficult to know of any other Minister who is given such absolute power as is indicated in that sentence. We have already had a discussion in this Committee about the degree of Parliamentary approval. At the moment—although I am glad to know that the Minister is reviewing it—that extraordinary power of the Secretary of State would be subject only to the Negative Resolution procedure. I ask the Minister to look at the three last lines of the first subsection. Under this subsection other United Kingdom citizens could be treated as some East Africans, who were British citizens, were treated, by Statutory Instruments and without an Act of Parliament. Those words, as they exist in this subsection, would give the Secretary of State the power even to limit the arrival in this country of United Kingdom citizens who hold British passports.

The third point I want to raise is contained in subsection (3) of this clause. It deals with registration by the police and, again, regulations made by Statutory Instruments. We have had a debate on this, and I do not want to develop the point. The Minister has indicated that he is looking at this whole matter again. If that means that he is going to put down Amendments on Report stage, then a revision of this subsection will be necessary.

I pass to the final subsection, subsection (4). Anyone who has a belief in democracy and reads this will be made uneasy. At present it says that records will be made and kept: …of persons staying at hotels and other premises where lodging or sleeping accommodation is provided, and for parsons (whether patrial or not) who stay at any such premises to supply the necessary information ". Have we become a police State? Is it really suggested that there is to be this power to secure records of persons staying at hotels and other premises? Again, the regulations applying to that would be by Statutory Instrument and the Negative Resolution procedure.

I have said enough to show that this clause places extraordinary powers on officials and on the Secretary of State; and those of us who believe in democracy and want to check the advance towards bureaucracy in our State affairs ask the Minister whether he will look at the points which I have tried to raise and at least require Parliamentary approval in a positive way, so that this is given before these powers are brought in.

10.35 p.m.


I will do my best to answer a number of these questions but I do not think the noble Lord, without giving notice, can expect a complete and detailed answer to all of them. I do not quite know how many questions there were in his speech, but it must have run well up into double figures. I can answer some of them straight off and I will do so, but as regards the ones I miss I hope the Committee will bear with me. I will study in Hansard what the noble Lord has said and will make sure that they are covered in writing. The first thing I should like to say is that I know that Her Majesty's Chief inspector of the Immigration Service and his staff will welcome the tribute the noble Lord paid, particularly as coming from him, because they know the interest he takes in immigration matters. I will make sure that that is drawn to the Chief Inspector's attention. The noble Lord asked about inquiries made by immigration officers at the ports of entry—the fact that they have to inquire as to the age of some people coming in, and about the relationship between husband and wife—and pointed out that the customs of other countries, the languages and laws, are different from ours and this makes it difficult for an immigration officer to be able to arrive at the truth. This line of criticism was keenly pursued in the late 1960s because it applies in the main—not entirely, but in the main—to dependants, and I think the noble Lord will agree with me if I say that the introduction of entry certificates for dependants of Commonwealth citizens has brought about a great improvement. It means that the entry certificate officers in the British High Commission posts abroad—and there are quite a number of them; many of them, incidentally, members of the Immigration Service seconded to serve in the High Commissions—are able to get much closer to the local community than would be possible if they were carrying out their inquiries at the point of entry in this country. It also means that if there are protracted inquiries to be made because of distance, bad communications and so on, these can be made before the dependant starts on his long journey half way across the world to Britain, where he might otherwise run into difficulty and be turned back. If these inquiries can be pursued in his own country of origin it is a very desirable innovation.

The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, asked a number of questions about the administration of immigration control at London airport, which is far and away the biggest port of entry as regards Commonwealth citizens. The Channel ports handle a vast volume of incoming passengers, but the overwhelming pressure of entry, as the noble Lord will agree, is at London Airport. Many of the immigration officers there—it is very impressive to visit—speak Asian languages and officers are available who speak virtually every language likely to be encountered. So if a problem comes up and the officer on duty cannot handle it another officer can be brought in who can help and will be able to interpret.

The noble Lord asked (and perhaps this would be a good point at which to deal with one of his detailed questions) about how immigration officers are selected. They are recruited mainly from within the Civil Service, from officers of the rank of executive officer, or people eligible for promotion to that rank, who show aptitude for the work of the Immigration Service, including proficiency in one or more languages and the right personal qualities for dealing with people, sometimes in a difficult situation. Candidates are selected after interview in the Home Office. They receive training for the work, and they are tried out for up to a year in the work of immigration control before their appointments are confirmed as members of the Service. The Immigration Service is now about a thousand people strong. Thy are civil servants, but they have their own professional structure and their own head of the Service in the person of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, who is an immigration officer of many years' standing and great experience.

The noble Lord is interested in the detention arrangements at London Airport and, as he correctly said, there is a detention suite in the Queen's Building—Building 2. This is used mainly for overnight detention of people who are due to be removed the next day. These are people who are not admitted by the immigration officer. They are held for the purposes of immigration control, and will be going out again, very often on an aircraft belonging to the same airline, which is served with a notice to remove the passenger, again, if possible, the next day. The suite is not suitable for people to be held in for long periods, and therefore the Harmondsworth detention centre is available for people held for longer periods when protracted inquiries are necessary.

As the noble Lord knows, sometimes these inquiries take longer than we would like, and there have been occasions when people have been detained in the Harmondsworth detention centre—and sometimes in prison—while inquiries are made. There was a bad case recently where inquiries took quite some time. Inquiries were pursued in Africa to obtain some information. But in the main inquiries are kept as short as possible. Harmondsworth is used in lieu of prison for those passengers arriving in the South-East of England, and we have used it from time to time as an alternative to prison where it seems appropriate to do so.

The special powers referred to by the noble Lord refer quite specifically to the numbers of crews of aircraft and ships which are the subject of Clause 8 of the Bill. They are set out in paragraphs 12 to 15 of Schedule 2.

The noble Lord asked whether or not there should be some special unit at London Airport to which the immigration officer could refer when there are cases of difficulty—when he is in doubt whether to admit a passenger or not. There are two things to be said about that. The first is that of course, when the immigration officer is proposing not to admit somebody, he will invariably refer the case to a more senior officer; and there is an assistant chief inspector—one of the assistant chief inspectors for the whole country—who is resident at London Airport. He is a very senior officer indeed. The volume of work is so great that his office is actually in the airport buildings.

But as the noble Lord will know, the United Kingdom Immigrants' Advisory Service, of which the noble Lord, Lord Foot, is chairman, has representatives at the airport, whose task is to help the arriving passenger to know what his rights are, particularly in relation to the appeal system, but they have a somewhat wider welfare function as well. This body is representative of all the voluntary groups concerned with immigrant welfare with the exception of one, and it happens to be one with which the noble Lord is closely acquainted, which decided for reasons of its own not to join with the others in the U.K.I.A.S. I think between us we could debate this for some time, but we must not trespass on the patience of the Committee. There are other points, but I think I ought to follow those up directly with the noble Lord.


Before we leave Clause 4, I did not move Amendment No. 61 because I thought our concern had been met by the replies of the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, to my noble friend Lord Beaumont and myself. But, as a matter of interest, I would like to know what the position is going to be with regard to registers at hotels. Will it be necessary for every hotel to have some new kind of register, or can they make use of the register already in use?


I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Brockway and the noble Lord, Lord Wade. I have been sitting here waiting to say something, and at last they have given me an opportunity. I can reassure the noble Lord that we are not going to become a police State in this respect. The reason why we have registration at hotels at present is that the Aliens Order 1953, as substituted by the Aliens Order 1957, requires every person over 16, including those exempt from immigration control, who stays at a hotel to give his name and nationality on arrival. In addition an alien has to give on arrival particulars of his registration certificate, passport or other document establishing his identity and nationality, and, secondly, on or before departure, give his next destination and his address if known. Commonwealth citizens have only an obligation to give name and nationality on arrival.

This Order has to be replaced because all our aliens legislation is repealed, and that is the reason for this subsection. The Home Office will be discussing detailed proposals with chief officers of police. But subject to this, I can tell your Lordships the provisional view of the Government, which will make very little change from the present situation. Patrials over 16 will be required to give their name and nationality on arrival, as at present. Foreign nationals over 16 would have the same obligation to give certain additional information, as at present. Commonwealth citizens over 16 generally will have to give their name and nationality, as at present. The only slight change that is proposed is for the small number of Commonwealth citizens who may be subject to police registration to be required to give the same additional information as foreign nationals. So for the great mass of Commonwealth citizens there will be no change from the present. These regulations will be subject to Negative Resolution procedure if the noble Lord wishes to pray against them.


I appreciate the very full statement made by the Minister. I just want to say this to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham. I am just amazed how he can carry on through all these proceedings and all these problems with the dedication which he is showing to this Bill.

On Question, Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 [Procedure for, and farther provisions as to, deportation]:


Before the next Amendment is moved, I wonder if the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, could give us any indication of what the Government have in mind this evening. I know what their original target was. I would have thought that that was unattainable unless we sit till an intolerable hour. My understanding is that the Government Chief Whip could set aside three further days—two certainly, and possibly one more. We have made very considerable progress. We have dealt with what I would have thought are the more contentious clauses of the Bill. I wonder, in view of the hour, whether this might not be a moment when we could adjourn the Committee. There is also an important Unstarred Question to be considered. If the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, cannot give me an immediate answer perhaps we can proceed with the next Amendment and he will consult meanwhile with his colleagues. I hope the noble Lord will realise that we have made considerable progress, and I think we are within striking distance of achieving, the date that I know the noble Earl, the Chief Whip, has in mind.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for putting it in that way. We have not made the progress we hoped, but I think that we have made good progress, and your Lordships have been very helpful. Can we at least begin on Clause 5, and I will see what I can find out.


May I say to the noble Lord, from my own experience, that no Government Chief Whip ever makes the progress he has in mind?

LORD BROCKWAY had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 61A: Page 7, line 7, leave out subsection (3).

The noble Lord said: I shall be helpful in this respect, because I do not propose to press this Amendment, the subject of deportation of families having already been very fully discussed. There has been a Division on it, and therefore I will not move this Amendment.

10.53 p.m.

LORD BROCKWAY moved Amendment No. 63A: Page 7, line 15, leave out subsection (4).

The noble Lord said: I want very briefly to press this point. It is a proposal for potential deportees that 28 days should be allowed instead of seven days. Seven days is absolutely inadequate for them to obtain the necessary legal advice. They are probably in custody; for those in custody there are always difficulties in getting adequate legal consultation, and solicitors must make journeys to see them. It is normal that courts of quarter session or assize grant 28 days for appeal. I should hope that the Government would be prepared to accept this Amendment, which would give these potential deportees 28 days instead of the seven. I beg to move.


I am a little lost—and I think the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner is—in speaking to the Amendment on the Marshalled List.


I apologise. Amendment No. 63A is to leave out subsection (4) entirely. I had previously spoken to the deletion of subsection (3), and had withdrawn that Amendment because it dealt entirely with deportation cases. In a sense this Amendment is consequential on the previous one, and therefore I do not press it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

BARONESS WHITE moved Amendment No. 64: Page 7, line 15, leave out from (" deportation ") to end of line 20, and insert (" a person's family shall be deemed to consist of his or her children under the age of sixteen and, where his or her wife or husband so elects, either wife or husband ").

The noble Baroness said: This Amendment is connected with the earlier discussion we had about family deportation. Here we are seeking to alter the definition of"family"which is at present contained in the Bill. In the first place, we suggest that the appropriate age for children if they are to be included at all in this provision, would be 16 rather than 18. I do not want to labour this point, but I indicated to your Lordships when discussing an earlier Amendment that a young person of 17, almost 18, who would be caught in the provisions at the moment might be relatively independent and living away from home. It seems to us that for this provision 18 is not the right age, and we ask the Government to look at the age of 16 as an alternative.

The other point we make is one which I tried to stress in an earlier discussion, that it should be for the wife, or the husband, as the case might be, to make up their minds whether or not they wish to be included with the delinquent spouse, and that therefore they should be included within the definition of"family"only if they so elect. This would get over the difficulty of the estranged wife who is not divorced or legally separated, but who does not wish follow her husband. I hope for the reasons we advanced fairly fully on an earlier Amendment that the Government will be prepared to accept this series of Amendments. If they did so, that would deal with the next four Amendments which, in effect, follow the proposals made in this first one.


Perhaps I could open my reply to the noble Baroness, Lady White, by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, for his very kind personal remarks. He does keep up a record, if I may say so, of persistence and dedication, in putting forward the interests of those he feels have rights which have not been properly considered, which many of us can admire and try to emulate, and he has kept doing it for many more years, I think, than almost anyone else in this Chamber. I think that is something which we would all wish to recognise at a moment of this sort in the course of our Committee proceedings.

The noble Baroness, Lady White, moved this Amendment quite briefly and, as she said, the Amendment goes with Amendments Nos. 65, 66, 67 and 68. They are all concerned with lowering from 18 to 16 the age below which a child is liable to deportation as a member of a family of a person ordered to be deported; secondly, to provide that a husband may be deported as a member of his wife's family, and thirdly, to provide that a person shall be liable to deportation as a member of a family only where the principal deportee and his spouse (if any) so elect. That, in effect, means that there should be no power to deport members of families.

As regards the maximum age of deportation as a member of a family (other than a wife) the Government came to the conclusion that this should be 18 because 18 is the age of majority, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, reminded us in debate on an earlier Amendment, and secondly, that it is up to the age of 18 that children are admitted to join their parents. Therefore, when someone comes in and the dependant child is up to the age of 18, it seems consistent that this age of 18 should remain should it be unfortunate enough that a deportation order is signed and someone goes out.

That a child is liable to deportation up to 18 does not invariably mean that the child will be deported. The Home Secretary made it clear in another place that all cases will continue to be carefully reviewed on their merits, as they are now, but it would not be right not to have power to deport up to 18 where the Secretary of State thought this correct and the tribunal, where there was an appeal—if the Committee agrees we will amend the Bill to provide a right of appeal—came to the same conclusion.

As for husbands, Clause 5(4)(b) provides that where the principal deportee is a women it is only her children under 18 who may be deported as members of the family, whereas these Amendments seek to provide that her husband shall also be liable to deportation as belonging to her family. Wives and children enter the United Kingdom as dependants of their husband and father. Rightly or wrongly, that is how they enter the United Kingdom and that is how they have entered for many years. Since they enter in his right they have, as we argued earlier, correspondingly no similar claim to remain if he is then deported. But men cannot enter the United Kingdom in right of their wives, because under immigration policy the United Kingdom does not accept that husbands have a claim to enter in right of their wives.

We have debated this. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, pressed this matter quite hard on, I think, Monday, and I explained—I do not know that I satisfied him—why this is so. Therefore, the position is that a wife has a claim to be in the country of her husband, but not the reverse. In exceptional circumstances—these are set out in paragraph 46 of Cmnd. 4606 (the White Paper on Draft Immigration Rules for control on entry)—a husband may be admitted to join his wife, but the cases are few and would not warrant the taking of a power of the kind proposed in the Amendment. Further, the Amendment would make the husband liable to deportation not only in the rare case in which he had entered in right of his wife, but in the much more common case where he had entered in his own right. We do not think this would be equitable.

The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, reminded us of the community relations impact of some of these Amendments—even those concerned very much with punishable offences and legal concepts of that sort in the law—if this House were really to extend the concept, as it would be, of family deportation which noble Lords have already voted against, simply in the interests of consistency. I see the logicality to a certain extent, but, our practice being what it is, I think it would not be appropriate to make this extension, and I wonder what the impact on community relations would then be if it were suggested that the husbands too, should be included.


At this late hour, I do not think I want to press this Amendment or to argue the point further. But our debate illustrates the difficulties into which one gets on the social side when one enters the field of family deportation. I can understand the logic of the noble Lord's argument on his premises, but we do not accept the premises. For the moment, I leave it at that. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5 agreed to.


This might be an appropriate moment for me to move that the House do now resume.

House resumed.