HL Deb 18 October 1971 vol 324 cc428-71

3.2 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3ª.—(Lord Windlesham.)

On Question, Bill read 3ª, with the Amendments.

Clause 2 [Statement of right of abode, and related amendments as to citizenship by registration]:

LORD WINDLESHAM moved Amendment No.1: Page 3, line 40, leave out ("reference") and insert ("references").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving the first Amendment in my name on the Marshalled List perhaps I should explain that the List is a little less formidable than it appears. Though the Amendments are numbered 1 to 6 in fact there are only three points of substance, and all of these are fairly technical. I shall try to explain them as briefly as possible; therefore it might be for the convenience of the House and in accordance with what I understand is the usual procedure if we postpone the general debate until the Motion, That the Bill do now MSS. The first Amendment is a drafting one to which our attention was drawn on Report by the noble Lord, Lord Kilbracken. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 3 [General provisions for regulation and control]:

LORD WINDLESHAM moved Amendment No.2: Page 6, line 27, leave out from ("(d)") to ("shall ") in line 2S and insert ("or section 2(2) above")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No.2 I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos.3,4 and 5. These Amendments are supplementary to those concerning patriality for wives which were accepted by the House on the Report stage. The present position is that if a man who is a Commonwealth citizen is settled in the United Kingdom his wife has a statutory right of entry, but must have established her relationship to him before she can exercise that right. if he has been here for five years and is registered as a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies she may do so by herself registering overseas and so becoming eligible for the issue of a United Kingdom passport and exemption from immigration control. If her husband has not registered as a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, or if he has but she has not, she is required by Section 20 of the Immigration Appeals Act 1969 to obtain an entry certificate. In either event she will avoid any difficulty arising on arrival in the United Kingdom. If she has an entry certificate and for some exceptional reason is refused entry she would then have a right of appeal in the United Kingdom, before removal, including a right of appeal to the Immigration Appeal Tribunal, without leave, if she loses her case before the adjudicator. If she arrives without having established her relationship in either of these ways, however, she will risk being refused entry and will have no right of appeal; but after return to her own country she can apply for an entry certificate and appeal from there if one is refused. That is the position as it is at present.

The intention of the Government was to carry forward this scheme of control under the Bill without change, the certificate of patriality replacing the entry certificate in those cases where the husband is a patrial. In other words, the intention was that under the Bill the wife should before arrival in the United Kingdom establish her relationship to her husband either by registration as a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, or by obtaining a certificate of patriality, or by obtaining an entry certificate. It is likely that both certificates will take the straightforward form of a stamp in the passport. Once she has obtained her certificate of patriality or entry certificate she should encounter no difficulties as to entry, but if she did she would have a right of appeal before removal from the United Kingdom. If however she did not obtain either of these documents and was refused entry. she could on return to her own country apply for one of them and if it was refused then appeal against the refusal.

The Amendments agreed to last week on Report are in one respect defective, in that the requirement in Clause 3(9) of a certificate of patriality for the wife applies only where the husband is patrial under Clause 2(1)(c) or under Clause 2(I)(d). But where the husband has entered the United Kingdom as a Commonwealth citizen and subsequently obtained citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies by registration in this country he will then become a patrial under Clause 2(1)(a). In these circumstances, under the Bill as amended on Report, his wife would have the right of abode and of exemption from immigration control in virtue of the marriage and without herself registering. She would therefore be admissible to the United Kingdom without having obtained either a certificate of patriality or an entry certificate. The significance of this is that the wives of Commonwealth citizens settled in this country and registered here could enter, travelling on Commonwealth passports and without having established the relationship in advance of arrival. This could well result once again in these difficult questions of relationship having to be examined at the ports and to refusals of admission, with hardship to those concerned.

These further Amendments to Clauses 3 and 13 seek to ensure that the Government's intentions are fulfilled in that such a woman will be required to obtain a certificate of patriality. The requirement does not extend to a woman who has obtained citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies herself, whether by registration or otherwise, because by doing so she will have already verified the relationship. I should emphasise that these Amendments do not in any way extend the scope of the requirement of obtaining an entry certificate or a certificate of patriality beyond what it is at present and there will be no change in the existing practices in substance. Most of the people who are close to this matter accept, I believe, that the system of entry certificates for dependants which was introduced in 1969 has served to reduce inconvenience and hardship, and the present practice means in effect that where there are doubts as to whether or not the relationships are as claimed inquiries can be made at the British High Commission posts abroad by experienced persons in the country of origin and not left until the last moment when a passenger, who is often tired and confused, arrives at the port of entry. I beg to move.


My Lords, I do not think we have any particular quarrel with the substance of these Amendments, but I think all your Lordships will appreciate, having listened to the noble Lord, how complex these matters are and how important it is that. so far as possible, clear information should he given at both ends—in this country to those who are seeking to bring their wives here, and in the countries of origin—so that they shall know exactly what their rights and obligations are: because simply reading the legislation, even with these Amendments, will not, I am afraid, bring much conviction to anyone.


My Lords, I should like to say to the noble Baroness that when I first saw these Amendments, which are refinements of the Government's own Amendments on Report, exactly the same thought was in my mind. I have been discussing this subject with my Department, and we shall now be taking up with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office the question of how we can make these inevitably somewhat complicated provisions as clear as possible to the entry certificate officers overseas who handle the work, so that people who wish to come here to join their relatives are as clear as they can be as to what the position is. This is a matter on which we must continue to keep a close watch.


My Lords, I should like to ask the noble Lord one question. He has said—and we appreciate this—that it will deter from frustration if the applications are made in the country of departure rather than the port of entry here. I should like to ask the noble Lord whether he is now satisfied that the staff at the points of departure are adequate to deal with this problem, because there used to be serious delay.


My Lords, I need the leave of the House to speak again, and I had better answer that question fairly briefly. I am afraid that the inquiries do take time, particularly in the Indian sub-continent, for a number of reasons of which the noble Lord is aware. But in the last Parliament the House of Commons Select Committee on Race Relations and immigration sent a subcommittee to the High Commissions in India and Pakistan. They visited and met with the officials carrying out this work, and the Report which they published showed that, on balance, they felt that the procedure was the right one and that the work was being handled in the most efficient way possible.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No.3.

Amendment moved— Page 6, line 30, at end insert (", unless in the case of a woman claiming to be patrial by virtue of section 2(2) she shows that she is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies and is patrial by virtue of section 2(2) apart from any reference therein to section 2(1)(c) or (d).")—(Lord Windlesham.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 13[Appeals against exclusion from United Kingdom]:


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No.4.

Amendment moved— Page 16, line 26, leave out from ("(d)") to ("against") in line 27, and insert ("or section 2(2) above")—(Lord Windlesham.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No.5.

Amendment moved— Page 16, line 28, after ("Kingdom") insert ("unless in the case of a woman who is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies the ground of appeal is that she is patrial by virtue of section 2(2) apart from any reference therein to section 2(1)(c) or (d); ")—(Lord Windlesham.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 15[Appeals in respect of deportation orders]:

3.13 p.m.

LORD WINDLESHAM moved Amendment No.6: Page 18, line 38, at end insert ("or, if he did know, was under the age of eighteen.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, on Report, the noble Baroness, Lady White, moved an Amendment aimed at providing in family deportation proceedings that an appellant should not be estopped from disputing a statement made by someone else on his behalf, without being authorised by him, to enable him to enter the United Kingdom as a dependant if he was under 18 at the time that the statement was made which led to his being admitted. I accepted this Amendment in principle on behalf of the Government, and undertook to introduce an Amendment on Third Reading when the draftsman had had an opportunity to consider the wording and the position of these additional words in this clause. This has now been done. Accordingly, I beg to move.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord for having improved upon the drafting of our Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

3.15 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass. May I begin by thanking noble Lords in all parts of the House for the attention that they have given to the Bill. We had a long, and at times highly charged, Committee stage in July and August, and I was most encouraged by the generous way in which a number of changes which the Government had made in the Bill as a result of the Committee stage were received last week on Report. I did not have an opportunity then to respond to what the noble Lords, Lord Shepherd and Lord Foot, said at the conclusion of the Report stage, but I assure them that I greatly appreciate their comments and the spirit in which they and their colleagues have conducted these debates. The same has been true of those of my noble friends on this side of the House, who have expressed strong feelings on various aspects of the Bill. And the House, as a whole, has greatly benefited from the expertise of certain noble Lords on the Cross Benches, even though they gave me some uncomfortable moments in Committee.

My Lords, I think we can claim to have improved this Bill during its passage through your Lordships' House. We have amended Clause 1, on the initiative of the noble Lord, Lord Wade, making clearer the safeguards for existing residents (including rights of entry for the wives and children of Commonwealth citizens) who are already settled here before the Bill comes into force. We have amended Clause 2 to make the acquisition of patriality easier for the citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, and we have extended patriality to the wives of patrials. On the initiative of the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, we have amended Clause 7 to safeguard certain existing residents from possible deportation proceedings. We have introduced full rights of appeal in family deportation cases; and we have published revised draft Immigration Rules indicating to Parliament the principles which will guide the Immigration Appeal Tribunal in hearing appeals in these cases.

In another place, the Bill was amended to ensure that the Immigration Rules would in future be subject to Parliamentary control by way of the Negative Resolution procedure; and in this House, following criticisms made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, in Committee, the wording of the relevant clause, Clause 3(2), has been clarified and strengthened. Clause 22 has been amended, again at the initiative of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, so that appellants in statutory immigration appeals have the right to be represented legally. Another important Amendment, which was included in the check-list of essential concessions that Lord Wade gave us at the beginning of the Report stage, the changes he regarded as essential concessions, made quite explicit that any use of the powers to contribute towards the expenses of those who wished to return elsewhere will be conditional on its being demonstrated that it is in that person's interests to leave the United Kingdom, and that he wishes to do so; and a new subsection has been added to Clause 29 to that effect.

Clause 30, which is concerned with the return of mental patients, has already been amended to ensure that the Secretary of State is to act only when it is in the interests of the patient to do so; and outside the Bill itself there has, of course, been the decision on police registration.

This is a fairly brief summary of some of the more important Amendments; but there have been many others, including the quite proper insistence of the noble Baroness, Lady White, that the Welsh language should take its rightful place as an alternative to English when Commonwealth citizens apply for citizenship in the future. In ail round about 70 Amendments will go back to another place for consideration.

Although I cannot claim that every criticism has been met—in the nature of things it is seldom, if ever, possible to do so on a major Bill—I should like to mention that many of the changes to the Bill introduced by the Government meet recommendations made by the Community Relations Commission who will, I am sure, welcome these improvements. The question of police registration for Commonwealth citizens is perhaps the most significant of these points. On one matter I believe we can agree; namely, that it is exceptionally important to dispel fears and worries that may arise from a misunderstanding of the true facts. When the Bill was published the Commission performed a valuable service to community relations by clarifying the facts to the communities who were most concerned. I am sure they will do their utmost to see that the final Act of Parliament, incorporating all the improvements that we have discussed, is properly understood and that no one lives in anxiety merely through a misunderstanding of what is involved.

My Lords, of course it is true that despite these changes certain differences, some of them fundamental differences, remain between us, and no doubt we shall hear of them again from noble Lords opposite in the course of the debate on this Motion this afternoon. As I shall have an opportunity to reply, I will comment on some of the main differences that emerge at the end of the discussion on the Motion; consequently, it is not in the interests of the House that I should make a long speech now. Therefore, let me content myself by saying in opening this final debate that in this Bill, directly and indirectly, we are dealing with a subject of the very greatest significance to the future of our society. How we handle questions of this sort, involving not only moral issues but deep conflicts of interest; involving rational systems of administration and irrational prejudices; and reconciling the civil liberties of the majority of immigrants with attempts at evasion by the minority, is a test of the effectiveness and responsiveness of Government.

This Bill, like its two predecessors, the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1968, introduced by a Labour Government, and the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962, introduced by a Conservative Government, has been hard fought. The idea of limiting immigration, especially immigration from the Commonwealth, goes against the grain of a great deal of our tradition. But this is what we have been doing, and doing of necessity, since 1962. Nevertheless, I have been encouraged, even if at times discomfited, to note how strongly the liberal conscience (liberal with a small "I" in this context) can still make itself felt. At the same time, while being, I hope, responsive to opinion, we have remained firm in our underlying approach, which was a considered one. We undertook to replace the present makeshift basis of immigration control with a comprehensive system set out in a single Statute; and that undertaking is honoured in this Bill. I have no doubt that when the present controversy has died down it will be seen that this legislation was a necessary reform and one that brings our system of controlling immigration into line with the needs of present-day society in Britain. In doing so we have not forgotten the effect on community relations. As I have said, considerations of this sort have been much in our minds in making the concessions that I have already mentioned. My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Windlesham.)

3.26 p.m.


My Lords, it is not infrequently interesting in this House to compare the Bill that we have received from another place with what has happened to it as a result of discussions in your Lordships' House. On the Second Reading of the Bill I ventured, in a thirteen-minute speech, to summarise the principal objections which had been made to it. These were, first, that it was unnecessary; that what we really needed was a Bill clarifying who the citizens of this country are, but that the statement in the Election Manifesto: we will ensure that there will be no further large-scale permanent immigration … was quite unjustified because, as the Government have since agreed, the whole numbers question was dealt with by the 1968 Act. I suppose that some Bill had, in consequence, to follow.

We are grateful, of course, that one thing this Bill does is to get rid of the old temporary emergency legislation and the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. We have got our immigration law, or most of it, apart from the rules, on to the Statute Book. Further, there was the general objection that the Bill would do harm to community relations in this country because, although the Government said that it was not their intention to disadvantage those who had already settled here, there was nothing in the Bill to say so. In addition. I summarised eight points of objection which had been particularly stressed in different parts of the House. The points of objection were: first, the whole question of the patrials; second, this new system of indentured labour; third, that there was no proper Parliamentary control over the rules; fourth, that the Bill abolished the legal right of Commonwealth citizens to have their wives and children in this country, although it was said that they would not be allowed to do so under the rules; fifth, that it abolished their legal right to register as citizens after five years; sixth, registration with the police; seventh, family deportations; and, eighth, assisted returns.

My Lords, of the primary changes which have been made, and for which not only Members on the Benches behind me but those in other parts of the House, too, will be grateful to the Government for having given way, that which seemed to be much the most important, from the point of view of community relations in this country, was the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Wade, which was carried by the House against the advice of the Government and wrote in a clear statement that those already settled would not be disadvantaged by the Bill. The Government have been good enough since then to improve the drafting of it. Your Lordships may remember that on Second Reading of the Bill the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor expressed the opinion that those concerned with community relations ought to have done much more to assure those who were already here that they would not be disadvantaged by the Bill. But unless there was a statement in the Bill to that effect it was difficult to do so. Now, of course, we all can.

Secondly, there was the provision about registration with the police, which I think a large majority of your Lordships' House felt was ill-advised. On that point also the Government have given way. Thirdly, they have accepted that the Bill should clearly state that any financial assistance to return would apply only to those who voluntarily wished to return. We still have family deportation, but we now have appeals and a right of legal representation. and the Amendment of my noble friend Lady White to restore the Welsh language to the same position as the English language is incorporated in the Bill. If I may respectfully say so, the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, was quite right when he said that the history of this Bill shows that we still are a Revising Chamber, and that no Government, however large a majority they may have in either House, are well advised to resist the strongly expressed view in all parts of this House. There are two Amendments which it would have been unreasonable to hope to achieve, not because they were not right, but because they both relate to the central policy of the Bill; and obviously the Government were not going to change that. The first concerned indentured labour, and the second the matter of registration after five years. It was clear that the Government, without changing the policy of the Bill, could not have accepted those Amendments.

The two points on which I confess to being most disappointed are, first, Parliamentary control over the rules, and, second, family deportation. I had expected that the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, would repeat what he said before; namely, that he hoped that this will be the last piece of legislation dealing with immigration for years and years. He may be right, but I confess that I do not share that view; and for these reasons. Sooner or later we are bound to give further thought as to who our citizens are, and I believe that the "patrials" business is something of a nonsense which cannot last. Nor do I think that this country will be content to go on leaving these rules as the only rules made by any Minister which are not subject to the ordinary Parliamentary control of being laid as a Statutory Instrument.

If we go into the European Common Market this must raise a number of these matters again. Under the Treaty of Rome the question will be: "Who are our nationals? "That is not a word we use, but we have to decide who our nationals are. That in itself is bound to raise that question again. Then, as soon as we sign the Treaty we have to alter a large part of the rules because of immigrants from the Communities. Your Lordships may remember that the changes in this Bill which lower the conditions affecting Commonwealth citizens to those of aliens in general were said to be justified only because of the enormously increased numbers with which our immigration administration has to deal. We were told that in 1966 it was 10 million; in 1970 it was 14 million, an increase of 73 per cent. in four years, and that jumbo-jets will make it worse. We were told that it is administratively impossible to go on any longer having two quite separate immigration systems—one for the Commonwealth and one for aliens. If we sign the Treaty of Rome we shall have to have two systems; we shall have to have a separate one for the citizens of those countries who can come here for five years and bring their wives and children under the age of 21 with them. The other reason why I do not think this legislation can last is that the National Council for Civil Liberties cannot be abolished, as the Consumer Council was, because it is annoying to the Government, since it is not dependent on a Government grant. So long as people are concerned with civil liberties, there is bound to be a continual battle to get ordinary Parliamentary control over these rules.

As to family deportations, we shall have to sec. I very much regret that we have managed through two world wars, and through the quarter of a century which has passed since the last world war, without family deportation and that we should now be starting this in 1971, when the only reason given for it is that without it there may be some cases in which a wife and children will be dependent upon public funds. I do not think that my noble friend Lady White ever received any answer to the question that she asked more than once; namely, why, if that was the fear, family deportation could not be limited to those cases.

A great many of the small illiberalities which have always been in our war-time legislation have simply been translated into this Bill, either in Schedule 2, or in the rules. My noble friend Lord Brockway sought to deal with a number of these in Committee and I expect that he was disappointed not to receive more assistance from me from the Front Bench. He put down the Amendments only the night before the final day that we were in Committee, and I thought that the objections raised by the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, were justified and moderate. I doubt anyhow whether it is possible to deal with the situation in that way. What I should like to see happen—though I do not think there is the slightest chance of this—is a committee, not necessarily just a Home Office committee, being appointed as soon as this Act receives the Royal Assent to look again at these illiberalities. The experience of the Law Commission has shown us that this is not the type of detailed work which can be done on the Committee stage of a Bill. Somebody proposes an Amendment that has some effect on some other clause, which may be one that has already been passed. This detail can be dealt with only by people who have plenty of time to sit round a table, and can deal with these points when there is no contentious legislation going through in this field.

I cannot help thinking that if we go into the European Community our new partners will say to us, "Look around you among your new partners. Where do you find a country in which an Englishman, going there perhaps as a tourist, perhaps for a holiday, perhaps to get work, perhaps wanting to retire to Italy or the South of France, or going there on business, can be arrested and thrown into a prison cell, not by a policeman but by a civil servant; and, in some cases, even by that civil servant when he is not on duty, not because the Englishman has done anything wrong, not because anybody reasonably believes that he has done something wrong, but simply, in some cases, on mere suspicion that he may be going to do something wrong in the future?" These are the sorts of aspects which are still there in Schedule 2 or in the rules. This country cannot be proud of them and would never have agreed to them if they had not originated late at night and at a time when we were at war.

My Lords, I do not think that this is the end of the road, but I think that those concerned with civil liberties will agree that this House has made considerable headway in relation to the Bill which came to us from the other place, and that the Government are to be congratulated in having accepted the sense of the House as a whole on so many points. I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, said on Second Reading, that these are matters on which there are strongly held and deeply motivated opinions. But in spite of that we have, in the traditions of your Lordships' House, been able to discuss questions arising on these matters on which many feel so strongly with all the usual courtesy of this House. And, if it is not an impertinence on my part, I hope your Lordships would agree with me if I said that this was largely due to the patience and courtesy with which the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, throughout the Bill has treated all those moving Amendments. We shall not, of course, vote against the Motion, That the Bill do now pass. It is, in its new state, a Bill which certainly reflects credit on the work that, in all parts of the House, has been done on it in Committee and on Report.

3.41 p.m.


My Lords, I agree with almost everything the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, has just said. This is an occasion on which something more than formal thanks are due to the Minister responsible for the Bill. My noble friend Lord Foot on Committee stage expressed his thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, for his handling of the Bill, and I should like to support my noble friend in what he said. I believe that both those who are very critical of the Bill and those who are not so critical would agree with me in saying that Lord Windlesham has shown a thorough grasp of this complicated Bill, and it has been helpful to all of us that he has been able to deal so carefully with the various points that have been raised.

One cannot honestly say that one likes the Bill. There are certain basic defects in it. I recognise that we have moved some way since the introduction of the Bill and the days just before it was introduced when some were advocating the proposal that the law and rules relating to Commonwealths coming here should be brought into line with aliens' legislation—a matter to which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, has just referred. I have the same views as he has about the origins of our aliens' legislation. We have moved some way from that and I hope that one outcome of these debates is that we may see reforms in the procedure relating to aliens and, in particular, registration with the police. There has been a hint of that during the debates on the Report stage.

Perhaps the fundamental question that has not been answered is this: Are we going to regard those who come here from the Commonwealth in the future primarily as temporary workers coming to do a particular job for a particular employer, or as prospective settlers? My view is that we should regard those who come from such a distance as, say, the West Indies primarily as prospective settlers. Looking back over the last few years, far too much time has been devoted to debating the subject of numbers and far too little to the conditions under which those who come here live. One of the problems for those who come here is a feeling of insecurity, the difficulty of obtaining a house and a mortgage and all the rest of it. I fear that one of the basic defects of the Bill is the tendency to regard immigrants from the Commonwealth as temporary workers, who will continue to suffer the difficulties of temporary workers.

It would be invidious to make comparisons between one country and another, but there are cases where workers come from the South of Europe; for instance, Italy. They are willing to come for a year, or less than a year, and if the job packs up there is no very great hardship in their returning to the village from which they came. It is very different in the case of West Indians, and we need to appreciate the difference in circumstances of those members of the Commonwealth who come great distances, who would find it very difficult if they had to go home again, and the people to whom I have just referred. There is a difference between Commonwealth immigrants and those who come temporarily from the Continent. My main criticism is that the Bill does not recognise this point.

In speaking in this last debate on the Bill—and I have spoken rather frequently on it—I want to strike a balance. On the one hand, there are certain fundamental objections to the Bill; on the other hand, I am anxious to remove some of the damage caused by the introduction of the Bill. I was speaking in the Midlands ten days or a fortnight ago and a community relations officer there told me of his feelings. I was being rather optimistic and suggesting that in the end it would not be quite so bad, and I forecast some possible changes on the Report stage which in the event proved to be correct. He said to me, "Well, it is a long time since this Bill was introduced and there is so much disillusionment that I think people have lost any faith in anything being done about it. "I hope I fairly summarise what he said. I mention that because there have been substantial alterations. I welcome the changes that have been made, and believe that Members of this House are aware of them, but it is not going to be so easy to make them known to the general public and to the immigrant communities; it will take time for that to get across.

The first Amendment and the removal of registration with the police are psychologically very important matters, but it will take time to remove some of the fears which were undoubtedly aroused when this Bill was introduced. I do not think one can blame people working in the community relations field for not successfully overcoming those fears, which were very real. My Lords, all I wish to say in conclusion is that while I have my criticisms of the Bill I shall do all in my power to try to ensure that those fears are allayed.

3.48 p.m.


My Lords, I wish to add a very few words on this Bill. While not wishing to minimise the very great difficulties any Government have surrounding immigration from causes both irrational and social, I would repeat what President Kennedy said an immigration policy should be. He said that it should be generous and flexible. This Bill cannot be called generous, but I do not wish to go into that matter on Third Reading. Patriality is not a generous conception and we have criticised it enough in Committee. But it is on flexibility that this Bill falls down. Neither this Conservative Immigration Bill nor the previous Labour Government's Bill, or any other Bills, have looked at or thought out ways of making an immigration policy and an immigration Bill more flexible. Here I so much agreed with my noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner when he said that this Bill will not be the end of legislation about immigration.

With flexibility a Government can deal with human problems that suddenly either crop up or emerge, such as the Kenya Asian problem. It seems to me that there is nothing sacrosanct about the freedoms that either aliens or immigrants can enjoy; that these freedoms can be changed. The injustice to the Kenya Asians who sought entry here on their British passports could have been mitigated if this Bill, or any other similar Bill, attempted a new look at the balance between the number of immigrants and the number of aliens allowed into the country.

3.50 p.m.


My Lords, this Bill certainly has been fully discussed if we measure it by the number of Amendments put down or by the columns occupied inHansard. Certainly no one would speak on it at this stage without paying a tribute, in which I am sure all sides of the House will join, to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, for his patience, for the clarity of his explanations and for the way in which he has, with great fairness, helped both sides of the House. Certainly the discussions have been of considerable length, often on legal questions; and again I think it would be agreed that all parts of the House have been assisted, as we might expect, by the clarity with which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, has put and enabled us to understand the case of the Opposition.

Because of the number of Amendments, on each of which a considerable time was spent, I, myself, having attended all the sittings and often feeling inclined to intervene, nevertheless have refrained from doing so out of respect for the time of the House. One also realises that this matter is not one of numbers but of the regulation of past legislation, and in various ways it raises feelings of great emotion. I am sure all sides of the House will recognise this and will concede an understanding if some views are put forward which differ from their own. It is because I very properly refrained from speaking on the other stages of the Bill that I now ask the indulgence of the House in raising a few points which occur to me as arising out of the discussion, which on the whole was carried out with a happy understanding and without bitterness on either side. On the question of registration the historical position was of course that included in the Bill. It is curious that after the emphatic disapproval in regard to that matter by a former Conservative Minister and without his getting the support of a single voice from the Conservative Benches, the Government saw fit to change the whole principle. Possibly this is an improvement. It might have been in the original drafting. The fact is that the Opposition can feel that they obtained a substantial concession.


My Lords, has the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, forgotten the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, and the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, both Conservatives, who opposed registration with the police?


My Lords, I am extremely sorry; I did not hear the point made by the noble Lord. I will concede it without knowing exactly what it was. Whether the noble Lord thought I was referring to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, or to another noble Lord, I do not know; but it was certainly the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, to whom I sought to pay tribute. The Government accepted the point without another Conservative voice in support.

Next repatriation. I am among those who ask why there should not be generous terms for permitting repatriation for those who wish to return, without any inference of pressure. It is most likely that there are in the country many people from overseas who, if they knew of the provisions, would take advantage of them. Why should we object to that? Then, in regard to the senior Dominions, I cannot see why there should be so much dislike of the suggestion that we should seek priority for them. It does not impute any disparagement of other Dominions. After all, is it not human and natural for us to apply preference in ordinary life to our own families? I can see no reason for the vehement expression of disapproval.

Again, in regard to the denial of choice: surely the Race Relations Act embodies the principle that challenges the right of choice in many walks of life. If the head of a large organisation has some idiosyncrasy in that he makes it a rule of the house that there must be no employment of a redhead (which is not illegal) why should there be any objection to anyone who says: "I do not want to employ anybody with a black face"? It seems illogical. However, the Race Relations Act suggests that the illogicality should be the law.

Next, why do we always refer to the non-whites as "coloured"? Surely it is no disparagement to refer to a non-white as a "non-white"? The Chinese are nonwhites, but every Member of this House knows that the Chinese always look with contempt on white faces. They have done so for centuries, even when we were still wearing skins. I cannot see why we do not adopt the term "non-white" as against "coloured". The term "coloured" can be a term of denigration because it applies to mulattoes or to miscegenation, and were I from the Indian sub-Continent, the inhabitants of which also have long been sophisticated, I should object to it. We admit that members of the African Continent at least have emerged into sophistication at a much later date, and therefore I think it is wrong to bracket the people from the Indian sub-Continent with negroes, relatively so backward.

It seems to me that not only this Act but the whole of this type of legislation put on the Statute Book during the last ten years establishes consideration of the non-whites at the expense of the whites. I do not want to raise emotions about this but would record that there are a great number of people in the country who would be happier if we had fewer non-whites in the country. We have more than is convenient for complete assimilation.

We often hear the term "complete assimilation". But surely complete integration and assimilation are contrary to the gregarious habits of different ethnic peoples preferring to be with their own kind. Physical integration must be part of complete integration. But consider the misfortune for the progeny. We all know what that involves. Again, it is against the customs and outlook of so many countries from which immigrants come to our shores. They by tradition have embraced polygamy. We cannot accept complete assimilation. My experience over a long life has taken me to a number of countries where this problem of whites and non-whites exists—in the U.S.A., the Caribbean Islands, Brazil, South Africa and other parts of Africa, and in New Zealand where they have the Maoris; in Australia they have, admittedly, a small number of Aborigines and now prevent the entry of more non-whites.

May I interject that my experience of the U.S.A. has not been a short one; I think I made 100 double crossings of the Atlantic by ship before aircraft became an accepted form of transport, and I do not know how many times I have been since then. I know the United States pretty well; I have lived there at a time when over 900,000 white immigrants were moving into the United States, and of course they moved into places where they could meet their own people. Take the great cities on the Great Lakes; quarters of those cities were populated by people coming from the same country.

It is my belief that in the country a very large body of feeling has misgivings lest the presence of too many non-whites may, at some perhaps very distant point, lead to the sort of difficulties that exist in the U.S.A., and none of us are under any misapprehension as to their gravity. I believe it needs to be said that there are in this country very large numbers of people who have misgivings about the numbers already here, and who feel that further inflow should be drastically limited. Lastly, if the non-whites should wish to return home there should be no suggestion that pressure be applied. They arc merely going back home as our own people have come back home. For instance, of the million or so who have gone from these shores to Australia in the last two or three decades, many come back. Why should they not come back if they do not like the conditions to which they went?

Doubtless the time taken over this Bill will have been advantageous. I repeat my admiration of the skill that the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, has shown in his handling of the Bill.

4.5 p.m.


My Lords, I am among those who are fundamentally opposed to this Bill. That is greater reason why I should join with others in paying tribute to the manner in which the Minister has conducted our discussions. I have been amazed, having had some experience of another place before coming here, at this absolute mastery of the details of this very complicated Bill and the clarity with which he has expressed them to this House. But more than that, it has been the spirit in which he has listened to the criticisms of the Bill. The fact that 71 Amendments have been carried during our discussions shows the very open and generous mind which he has revealed to our criticisms. May I say, incidentally, that these proceedings incline me to adjust my view about the necessity for a revising body; not the composition of the body, but I am inclined now to think that we need a revising body independently of another place. That has interrupted the expression of appreciation that I wanted to voice to the Minister. I am quite sure that it is the view of Members on all sides in this House.

I do not want to repeat on Third Reading the attitude in principle in opposition to the Bill which I have expressed on Second Reading and during the Committee and Report stages. I will summarise that opposition in this way. I believe that this is a racially discriminatory Bill. I believe it will mean that 1,000 non-white people will be excluded from this country for every white person. I believe it will still have—though less as a result of the decisions reached here—a bad effect upon our community relations in this country. They are in a critical position; the strains on both sides are very considerable; and anything which damages relations in any degree will be disadvantageous for future integration in this country. I believe it will have a bad effect on the Commonwealth, which is also in a critical condition. There are tendencies there which are making for disintegration, and anything which adds to that is something of which we ought to beware. Fourthly, I fear that this Bill will add to the confrontation between the white and non-white races in the world. I do not know how many Members of this House sat up sufficiently late last night to hear that extraordinary interview on television with Muhammad Ali, Cassius Clay. Those who did will have been amazed by the personality of that man. What we will have feared as we listened to him opposing integration of white and non-white races was the clash that is coming between the white and non-white races in the world. I fear that this Bill will also add to the elements which are making for that clash.

There are only three points that I want to raise on Third Reading. I want to express the deepest appreciation to the Government for ending police registration of immigrants. I believe the possibility of police registration affected the non-white population in this country more deeply than anything else in the Bill, and its removal will lessen its disadvantageous effect. However, I should like to ask the Minister this question. I listened to his explanation of the alternative arrangements, I have read the Rules, and I should like him, if he would, in his concluding speech, to make quite clear what they are to be. So far as I can understand it, an immigrant coming here under this Bill, arriving at Heathrow, Southampton or another point, will give all the facts not only about himself but where he is going to work and where he is to live, and that that information will be in the hands of the Home Office. Secondly, I understand (and I welcome this) that he does not even have to register with the employment exchange. Not only is there to be no police registration, but no personal registration with the employment exchange. All that happens is that, with other workers, he will have his National Insurance card, and that that will give the particulars necessary in his case. Thirdly, I understand that the responsibility will lie upon his employer if he breaks the one year's contract which is required under this measure, to report this to the employment exchange and that it is only at that point, on the complaint of the employer, quite rightly, that the police will be required to act. When the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, gets some leisure, perhaps he might read the speech which I delivered on this matter on Second Reading, because that was exactly the alternative to police registration which I proposed. I should like to hear from him in his reply whether I have accurately described the alternatives.

There are two other matters to which I want to refer. I want to confess to the House that I was caught napping during the Report stage, when the preceding Amendments were taken so rapidly that I could not move my Amendments on these matters. The first is in relation to repatriation. I do not quite understand why this is included in a Bill dealing with immigration at all. It is not a matter of immigration; it is a matter of those who have been admitted quite legally and who may want to return to their countries. I cannot help having the suspicion that the reference to repatriation has been included in this Bill as a result of pressure within the Conservative Party. I would ask the Minister: is it not in fact quite unnecessary that we should have this clause? Is it not the case that for any immigrants who, due to family circumstances, due to ill-health or other similar causes, desire to return to their own territories there is already provision under other Departments, for health and social services, to enable them to do so?

The second point to which I want to refer is the clause relating to the possibility of removing from this territory those who are suffering from mental ill-health. I acknowledge that assurances have been given in this House, and indeed are included in the rules, that this clause will apply only to those who are in need. But again I want to ask the Minister why this clause is in an immigration Bill? It does not refer to immigration; it refers again to those who have been legally admitted to this country and who are here. Again I ask: is it necessary? Again I ask whether there are not already provisions in other Departments of Government by which those who are suffering from mental ill-health and who might benefit—and I recognise that there are cases which might benefit from returning—


My Lords, I would just remind the noble Lord—


My Lords, excuse me, I was halfway through a sentence, and I expect the courtesy of this House to allow me to complete it. I was halfway through the sentence in which I was asking whether it is not the case that those who are suffering from mental ill-health, and who might benefit by returning to their previous territories, are not already covered by provisions in other Departments which allow them to return.


My Lords, I was just going to remind the noble Lord—I am sure he is aware of it, but it just slipped his memory—that all figures dealing with emigration from this country to the Dominions over the past fifty years have always had allied with them the figures of repatriation of returning immigrants. Therefore the two problems must surely be allied.


My Lords, figures certainly, and the figures are very interesting because they show that the Bills which we have had before this House were not really dealing with immigration at all. Since the war there have been only two years in which the number of those coming into this country has been greater than the number of those who are leaving. I have stated this before in the earlier parts of our discussions: these Bills are not immigration Bills; they are Bills based on prejudice against those who are nonwhite. My Lords, I conclude with that, because it indicates my basic opposition to this Bill. We may not have enough present to record our votes against the Bill, but certainly we shall indicate our opposition in a negative way.

4.20 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, in his opening remarks referred to the trouble that had been caused from the Cross Benches at earlier stages, and so I rise to respond to the challenge, but only for a few moments. I cannot pretend that I am converted to the Bill, the whole Bill and nothing but the Bill. I did not like it when it was introduced and I still do not like a good deal of it, really because of what the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, has always referred to as its intrinsic principle; that is, the principle in pursuit of the Conservative Party's Election Manifesto which the noble Lord defined during the Report stage by saying: … but it is intrinsic to this policy, and has been the policy of the Conservative Party for some years, that there should be no further entry for settlement as such…. This is not to say that nobody should be allowed to come here to work, but rather that they should come for a particular job and initially for 12 months. Their stay will be renewable for a period of up to four years."—(OFFICIAL REPORT, 11/10/71; col.227.] Until 10 years ago, it was our proud boast that any British subject from any part of the Commonwealth could enter this country without let or hindrance and could stay here as long as he or she liked. Of course I am not for a moment suggesting that there should be no controls—obviously, that would be totally unrealistic in present circumstances—but to go from total freedom to total ban on permanent settlement within the space of one decade is a very drastic move indeed. As one has seen in the course of the debates, this has caused the Government Front Bench to get into trouble both with the Left and the Right, if I may so define them: the Left who feel that the Bill has racial overtones and is one of racial discrimination; the Right who feel that perhaps there is not sufficient discrimination. Sitting on these Benches in the centre, as I do, I must confess that I feel a good deal of sympathy with at least the underlying viewpoints of both of those diametrically opposed opinions.

From the Left, the criticism has been that the restrictions on entry, imposed and thought necessary because of evasion and the other problems of which we are aware, will bear hardly on innocent individuals and may ultimately affect community relations. Apart from the problem of the ban on permanent settlement, I must say that for my part I feel reasonably satisfied with the many concessions which the Government have made under this heading, but I sincerely hope—and I echo what the noble Lord, Lord Wade, said earlier—that all 'those concerned with community relations will make it their business to see that the genuine steps that have been taken and the moves that have been made as a result of debates in this House are thoroughly understood and appreciated.

But on the other side, so far as the Right is concerned, the Government have been able to do very little. As I understand it, the criticism from the Right is that these restrictions will apply to people like ourselves—say, in Canada, Australia and New Zealand—who are not patrials, some of whom still regard this country as home and think they have an inalienable right to come to it, some of whom have relations who have come here, and many of whom might wish to follow the example of their people who came to add lustre to our Armed Services, our Diplomatic Service and our various other walks of life—the House of Commons and indeed your Lordships' own House. But if they want to do that, this Bill puts up a sign which reads "No entry for settlement". I do not believe that any of us really want to say that positively to Australia, but the problem is that we are in a multiracial community. We have adopted—as successive Governments have adopted—the policy of no discrimination and no partiality, and so we are rather caught in a dilemma.

But I should like to say here that I totally dissociate myself from any suggestion that advocacy of an understanding for the people of our own kind in Australia, New Zealand and Canada is motivated by racial prejudice. I would utterly and totally reject that. It is a fact of life that, for the most part, they are the same people as ourselves. I can understand the complications and am aware of the difficulties which the Government face, and I sympathise with them. But I do not myself see any solution to this problem, and I certainly did not feel during the Committee stage that any of the various ingenious solutions that were put forward really met the case, or would really have been practical. Therefore I merely make the comment that I think this Bill marks a sad occasion so far as those intimate relations are concerned.

Finally, I wish to join with others in the chorus of tributes. I think three bouquets are due: first, to your Lordships' House which, if I as a relatively recent Member may say so, seems to me to have lived up to the highest traditions in protecting civil liberties and taking a broad liberal view; secondly, to the Government for considerable courage in meeting legitimate points of view which was not always easy, particularly in the case of some of the more difficult ones; and, thirdly and above all, to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, who, as others have said, has acted throughout with most extraordinary courtesy and thoroughness. I should like to say to him very warmly how deeply grateful we are for the work he has done on this Bill.

4.26 p.m.


My Lords, I think the noble Lord. Lord Garner, goes a little too far when he suggests that this Bill legislates for a total ban on future Commonwealth settlement. I can prove that in this way. In this particular field the Bill assimilates the legislation for Commonwealth citizens to the former legislation for aliens. In respect of aliens, for more than fifty years past it has not been possible for people to come to this country with leave to settle here permanently. They have come under a time limit and, if all has gone well, their permission has been extended, and finally, after five years, the time limit has been removed and they have settled here permanently. If the noble Lord cares to look at the annual returns, I think he will find that over those fifty years very considerable numbers of aliens have in fact gained permanent settlement in this country, under provisions comparable to those which by this Bill are going to be extended to Commonwealth citizens.

The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, will not be surprised to hear that I differ from him fundamentally in his evaluation of the Bill. But I was struck, as I think we all were, by what he said about the difference in atmosphere over an explosive matter like this in your Lordships' House, as compared with another place. He was expressing a profound truth there. It has been fascinating to see how the debates on this Bill, which initially was an explosive subject, have proceeded in a constructive atmosphere. I think we are all agreed that this is very largely due to the exceptional Parliamentary skill of my noble friend Lord Windlesham, who has taken full advantage of the fact that in your Lordships' House, though seldom in another place, it is possible for a Minister to speak from the Front Bench with a hope of influencing votes on both sides of the House. I have no doubt at all in my own mind that, by his skill and patience, my noble friend has succeeded in that.

There is only one further point that I wish to add, because I am not going into the merits or demerits of the Bill. I think we ought to congratulate ourselves that, by this Bill, we are getting rid of that thoroughly unsatisfactory system of continuing the immigration control over aliens by the extension, year by year, of an Aliens Order made under an Act passed originally in a wartime atmosphere. One of the tasks I hated doing when I was Home Secretary was asking Parliament year by year under the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill to agree to a further twelve months' extension of an Order which was unamendable. As many people have said in the course of these debates, this whole question of immigration control is a very personal one, and I am sure it was fundamentally wrong that for fifty years we went on imposing immigration control on foreigners by annual renewal of that Order. This was one of the particular reasons why I was anxious for comprehensive legislation of this kind, which would get rid of that.

The noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, regrets that this Bill makes things more inflexible. If the arrangements were previously more flexible, that was largely due to the considerable degree of discretion which was given to Home Secretaries until recent times. I am not at all sure that, by her standards, that was such a good thing. It was a discretion which I never enjoyed exercising as Home Secretary, and we are now lifting off the shoulders of future Home Secretaries a burden of responsibility in personal cases which it was hard for them to bear and to discharge properly. I am not saying that mistakes were made, but that is not really the kind of flexibility which I think we should go out of our way to maintain in this highly personal matter of the control of immigration. We call it by the impersonal name of immigration. But really in every single case it is affecting a man or a woman or a family.

4.32 p.m.


My Lords, I do not want to spoil the atmosphere which has prevailed this afternoon or throughout all the debates in your Lordships' House, and I hope that I shall not be accused of being ungrateful. But if the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, or anybody else feels that I am being just that in what I say, I should like to announce now that I have taken the precaution of providing Lord Windlesham with a Shakespearean quotation to strike me down if it is needed later on. It is a great tribute to your Lordships that this Bill is now much better than it was when it first came here. But plastic surgery and face-lifts are not really much good when euthanasia is the only answer; and it is in that spirit that I should like to make one or two remarks. I think many of your Lordships may feel that the rougher side of Party politics ought to be kept out of some, at least, of Home Office territory; and if the explosion and ricochets of Party political warfare are out of place in much Home Office territory, then they are particularly dangerous in some of the most tender areas, such as Northern Ireland, or race and immigration. And inescapably this Bill bears the mark of its Party political origins, which is a great pity.

The next part of my speech I was going to leave out, until I heard what the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, said. It may be that I was credulous from the cradle, but I was always brought up to believe that it was the Socialists who wanted to level everybody down and that the Conservative Party wanted to level everybody up. my Lords, this Bill, by and large, levels the person from the Commonwealth down. The Commonwealth citizen can vote and, thanks to your Lordships, he has the privilege of not registering with the police. But, on the whole, he is now to be treated like an alien—and if we go into the Common Market, worse than a good many aliens. Now I am a pro-Marketeer. I accept that we may have to change many of our habits to fit in with Europe; but this Bill has not been dictated to us by Brussels; indeed, it is quite different from European thinking. For example, the Council of Europe is now drafting a convention on the legal rights of immigrant workers. So we seem to be getting the worst of both worlds.

Let us hope that this Bill is the last of the triennial immigration dinosaurs, and that the Government and the Home Office have learnt how awkward your Lordships can be when a nasty Bill like this one comes along. People sometimes wonder—I myself often wonder—whether the House of Lords does any good, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, said, at least part of the answer can be supplied by what we have achieved with this Bill. But its basic faults remain—things like the work permit system, insufficient Parliamentary scrutiny and family deportation. So, promising future Governments the maximum disruption if we are offered this sort of Bill on this sort of topic again, I would express the hope that we can pass this Bill and get on with something mare constructive. May I end by echoing what the noble Lord, Lord Wade, said about spelling out the message of the changes which have been made? The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, seemed to imply that this was a job for the community relations organisations themselves. But, of course, it is a job for Government as well, and unless they do it together it will not be done effectively.

4.47 p.m.


My Lords, it will be expected, I think, that I agree with every word that the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, has said. It is refreshing to me to find a young Member of your Lordships' House with such a liberal mind and who does not hesitate to express himself in the way in which the noble Lord does, and I, for one, appreciate very much indeed the things that he says in this House. Of course, I join with everybody in complimenting the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham. Everybody has said it, but that does not reduce my sincerity in saying it. At the same time, I also appreciate the tremendous activity of my own noble friends on the Front Bench, who in my view have done a great job of work. Whilst I am with my own Party, may I express my satisfaction that my noble friend Lord Brockway has had so many opportunities to talk about the fundamental principles of this subject. The other compliment I would pay would be to my right, to the Liberal Front Bench, to Lord Wade, for his activities throughout the course of the proceedings on this Bill.

Again commencing, as it were—because I am not going to speak for long—may I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, with regard to the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill? It was an awful "fag", in both Houses, and particularly in another place, to have to consider part of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act year by year and to have new debates on it constantly. I hope that the present Bill, when it becomes an Act, will rule that out. It will do so in fact, of course, but I am wondering whether by what we are doing we are improving what already exists. In fact, this Bill is much worse in most respects than the 1962 Bill, and has gone much further.

This brings me to what I really want to say. I agree, too, with the expressions of opinion from three-quarters of the House at least, that this started as a very bad Bill. Some improvements have been made to it, but it is still a bad Bill; and in a fundamental way we have gone along a road which in my view is a very dangerous one indeed. I do not want to introduce too much of the Party political issue, but I am bound to say that I think the genesis of this Bill lies in the activities of a Member of Parliament named Powell. Just before the last General Election that right honourable Member created a panic, not only in the ranks of the Tory Party but in the country generally, by making statements that were certainly in many cases lacking in truth—at least, let me be fair and say they were greatly exaggerated. As a result of that panic, as a result of what he had said and of discussions within the ranks of the Conservative Party, the Conservatives came out with certain sentences and phrases in their Election Manifesto. One of them was: There will be no further large-scale permanent immigration. They forgot to tell the people in that Manifesto that there had not been "further large-scale permanent immigration" for quite a long time and that in fact it had been falling away. There is no justification at all for introducing this legislation which apparently has as its aim no further large-scale immigration. I want to say as clearly as possible that this Bill was not necessary if that was its aim; because there was no greater growth in immigration.

In the same Conservative Party Manifesto some amazing terms were used with regard to this particular subject. Good race relations are of immense importance. We arc determined that all citizens shall continue to be treated as equal before the law and without discrimination. There is the introduction of this word "patrial". I had never heard of this word until I saw it in the Bill, and even the Home Secretary himself said that he was not quite sure how to pronounce it. If the introduction of this word and the principle behind it is not discrimination, what on earth is discrimination? To my mind, this makes it clear that the Bill discriminates against people who are not of our colour. It cannot help but work out that way. The Home Secretary denied that this would be so in his Second Reading speech in another place; but a few moments afterwards he admitted the principle of patrial status. As I read the Bill it seems that people from white countries will have great advantages over those who come with colour in their skins. I cannot help but believe that this basically is the trouble and that it goes back to the panic created by the right honourable Member for Wolverhampton.

I want to mention one main point of detail that causes me still a great deal of concern. It is the disadvantage which people from the Commonwealth will have if and when we enter the European Community. I cannot help thinking that we have not got over that obstacle. My noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner made a most powerful and telling speech on this subject. The Government resisted it. When we go into the Common Market we may find ourselves flooded with people from the Continent of Europe, yet those from the British Commonwealth will not be able to get here. They will be faced with that disadvantage. I hope that even now, at this late stage, something can be done about that. Like other speakers, I support what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Wade, about making sure that the Amendments which have been made to the Bill are made clear to all race relations organisations in this country and throughout the Commonwealth. It is very important that they should know that something has happened to the Bill, even if it is only a small thing by comparison with the whole principle. I end, as I began, by saying that it is still a bad Bill.

4.44 p.m.


My Lords, I do not propose to detain the House for long, because much of what I wanted to say has already been said, particularly by my noble friend Lord Brockway and Lord Royle. So far as this legislation is concerned, I think that this is a sad occasion. It has been pointed out that this legislation is hound to have an effect on the immigration into this country of coloured people as distinct from those who are not coloured. There is no doubt about that; and in the country there is a considerable amount of concern over this by liberal-minded people. I do not think that it can be too strongly underlined that the introduction of the idea of "patrials" and "non-patrials" must have the effect that I have described. I can only hope that when the Act comes into force those of us who feel strongly against it on questions of principle, and particularly the one to which I have referred, will find that the administration of the Act itself does not result in what we fear. Racial tension in this country has to be avoided as far as possible. It is not in the interests of the removal of that tension that an Act of this kind, which is bound to exacerbate feelings on the matter, should be introduced.

I agree, as everybody will agree, that in many respects Lord Windlesham has met much of the criticism in relation to particular parts of the Bill which has been made not only from these Benches but from the Government Benches; and at least I thank him for that. I think that the atmosphere in which the debates have been conducted has been a reasonable and proper one, but I cannot help feeling that the Bill itself is based upon ideas and principles which are not liberal ideas and principles. In my view, it is a Bill that ought not to have been introduced.

4.49 p.m.


My Lords, I have been trying to throw my bouquets at Lord Windlesham's feet ever since halfway through the Report stage, but it has been rather difficult to do so. I cannot allow this moment to pass without a couple of words. I think that without his persistence and persuasiveness in quarters which have shown singular receptiveness very little would have been achieved. I am sure that we are all aware of this. I do not think that the noble Lord is so confused by the bouquets that have arrived from every part of this theatre—if I may use that term—as to be deceived into thinking that we on this side excuse the Bill or approve of it; but this has been said over and over again, and I shall not labour the point.

I want to make just one small practical point. My noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner pointed out, I thought with great force, a number of illiberalities which are scattered through this Bill, and which will depend really on interpretation. He asked that a committee should be set up, not exclusively from the Home Office, to watch the working of this Bill when it becomes an Act. I ask the noble Lord to give this proposal very serious consideration. We know that we have plenty of trouble with aliens; there is a constant stream of complaints going across the noble Lord's desk, and if we are to have the same sort of thing with immigrants it will be even more serious. So I think it would be infinitely worth while to follow the suggestion made by my noble and learned friend.

4.51 p.m.


My Lords, I will spare the noble Lord's blushes and not repeat all the compliments which have been paid to his courtesy and competence, beyond saying that I most warmly support them. I should like also to thank the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, who was responsible for at least one major Amendment to the Bill. I think that everything which can be said about the Bill has been said, and I do not wish to weary your Lordships by repeating the arguments. Those of us on this side of the House—and not only on this side, but on other Benches, also—are still unhappy about the Bill. Of course we recognise that substantial improvements have been made we appreciate that, and we are grateful for them. But, even so, it is not a Bill in which I take pleasure or pride.

I should like to mention one or two detailed matters before giving the one main reason for my distress at this legislation. Noble Lords will appreciate that we are not parting entirely with the subject; it is a reasonable assumption, I think, that we shall have a further debate when the rules come before us. There are certain matters in the rules to which we may refer at a later stage, and in the meantime, I think that various Members of your Lordships' House will wish to draw the attention of the Government, in perhaps greater detail, to some of the points in the rules, mentioned in the debate, which we hope very much may be amended. I would particularly wish to write to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, about certain matters that we mentioned concerning family deportation where I believe that the rules could be considerably improved without basically altering their sense. There are one or two other similar matters. It has been drawn to my notice by an organisation which is delighted over the provision about the possibility of wives—particularly the wives of students—earning, which has now been made clear. But the organisation points out that, although the wives may perhaps earn when they get here, there is no provision for their entry if they are wives of students. This is a point which might perhaps be looked into.

There are one or two other details which were referred to in our discussions but which at that time the Government were not able fully to explain: I am thinking in particular of Clause 29. We were all very glad that the Government accepted the inclusion in the Bill of the voluntary principle, but we are still not quite clear how this matter of repatriation is going to work, because we have been told that the Government will not be dealing directly with this matter but will deal with it through a voluntary organisation. The International Social Service has been mentioned, and I think it would be very helpful if we could be told a little more about how this is likely to be conducted. This is a sensitive matter. If the Government are not dealing with it directly I think that we should know a little more about what will be their relationship with the organisation acting, in a sense, as an agent of the Government.

My Lords, there are one or two other points which we can take up in correspondence and which may arise when we have an opportunity to debate the rules. I will do no more this afternoon than echo the words, particularly of the noble Lord, Lord Garner, in saying why I so much regret this Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, was very frank with the House—franker, I think, than some of his colleagues have been. He pointed out that this Bill marks a watershed in our history; in effect we are turning our back on the Commonwealth. This is what it amounts to, and the noble Lord admitted this. At one time I wondered why the Government should have brought in legislation of this kind when, plainly, the House is not in a position intelligently to discuss some of it without knowing whether or not, and in what way, we are to be associated with the European Economic Community.

We have had some discussion on this subject during our debates and it has been referred to this afternoon, but I think that when we come to the legislation dealing with the Economic Community, had we not already got this legislation on the Statute Book the Government would hardly have ventured to bring it in: because had Parliament and the public recognised the extent of the disadvantage in which Commonwealth citizens will be placed by comparison with the citizens of the countries of the Community they would never have passed this Bill. I think it is as simple as that. We were given some of the details by my noble friend Lord Shepherd and others when we were on this point, but the more one examines the situation the worse it appears. Possible immigrants from the European Community will have not only the advantages which Lord Shepherd and others detailed but also further advantages which I must admit that I had not grasped until they were drawn to my notice recently.

For example, I do not know how many of your Lordships read an article in theFinancial Times, which is usually regarded as a reputable and reliable paper, in which it was pointed out that Britain will become responsible for paying family allowances to the wife of a Community worker who gets a job here but leaves his children at home. This country will also be responsible for the family's medical care, even if the members of the family never set foot in England. What do your Lordships suppose will be the feelings of Commonwealth immigrants when they come here, leaving their families, it may be, in the West Indies, and find that someone who has come here with far less trouble and far less expense—from Belgium or Luxembourg, shall we say?—can claim very substantial social benefits which it will not be open to a Commonwealth citizen to claim, even if he has obtained entry to this country?

Again, we are glad to have had certain reassurances about the possibility of wives and children of Commonwealth immigrants joining the father and husband in this country; but so far as the European Community immigrant is concerned, he will not have any problems of this sort. If European immigrants come here and are able to obtain employment within the requisite period of three months, they may not only stay here for five years without let or hindrance but also bring their children up to the age, not of 18, but of 21. They can bring their parents; they can bring their grandparents. They will not have to prove any of the conditions laid down in the rules for such relatives of Commonwealth immigrants. I could go further into this matter, and I repeat that I do not believe that your Lordships' House, still less the country, has any grasp of the degree of disadvantage in which Commonwealth immigrants are to be placed if we enter the Economic Community under the sort of conditions which I understand obtain.


My Lords, is my noble friend aware that European nationals are to be allowed to come here for three months to look for a job?


Yes, my Lords, I thought I had mentioned that. They may come for three months to look for a job, and if they find one they are free to stay, with all these advantages which will not apply to Commonwealth immigrants. It is not only because of the racial undertones which are included in this Bill, but also, because of the conditions in the Bill for Commonwealth immigrants, on the one hand, and the conditions for Community workers coming to this country, on the other, that I believe that this Bill can only be interpreted as turning our backs on our history and our relationship with the Commonwealth. The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, did not stress this, but he did not try to evade the issue. He said it was a watershed and indeed, my Lords, it is. I speak with some feeling on this matter because for a short time I was the Minister responsible for parts of the Commonwealth, and for many years I have been concerned with Commonwealth matters. I am still much interested in them. I feel that the proud history of the British Commonwealth is one on which we ought not so lightly to turn our backs. Largely for that reason, grateful as we are for the concessions that have been made and appreciative as we are of the helpful spirit in which in the context of this Bill we have been met by the Government Ministers, this is a Bill that we deeply regret.

5.1 p.m.


My Lords, I am grateful for the tributes that have been paid to myself and to my noble friends Lord Aberdare and Lord Denham, who have assisted in the various stages of this Bill through your Lordships' House. I appreciate very much the generosity of the comments that have been made and I shall pass these on to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State because, as the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, hinted (no more than hinted), the decisions are those of the Home Secretary and they must be defended not only in this House, where in the main they have followed on the expression of strong opinions in Committee, but in another place as well. Therefore, in deciding what action the Government should take, the Secretary of State has to bear in mind the interests of Parliament as a whole and reconcile the interests, if they should seem to diverge, of both Houses of Parliament.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, in his opening speech referred to Schedule 2 of the Bill, Administrative Provisions as to Control on Entry, and to the immigration rules and reminded the House of the limitations of the Committee procedure in trying to make alterations of real substance. What the noble and learned Lord said from all his experience rang very true. It is difficult to alter the whole structure of a complex system of control of this sort in question and answer across the floor of the Chamber. He made the suggestion, which was supported by the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kings-bridge, that there might be some form of outside inquiry or departmental inquiry, but with other people on it as well as Home Office representatives, to take a calmer and longer critical look at the whole system of immigration control.

I do not think I would dissent from the sentiment behind that suggestion, and it was for this reason that in 1969 and 1970, in their first inquiry, the Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration in another place took as their subject the control of Commonwealth immigration. The noble Lord, Lord Janner, was a member of that Select Committee. In the course of its inquiry, the Select Committee took evidence from a number of officials in the Home Office and other Departments and from the Home Secretary. They visited the ports of entry, and particularly London Airport, and talked with immigration officers. Sub-committees of the Select Committee visited the sub-Continent of India, East Africa and the Caribbean.

I ought to correct what I said earlier in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, on one of the Amendments. The Select Committee did not publish a Report. The evidence was published, and that was what I had in mind. The General Election intervened and no Report was published, though two of the members—Mr. Bottomley and Sir George Sinclair—produced a digest for the Runnymede Trust. But the Committee went into the whole question of control of entry. Of course we cannot say what their conclusion would have been, but the evidence suggests that on balance the Members of Parliament concerned felt that the system held up reasonably well. That Select Committee is still in existence. Its last Report, on housing, has just been published, and it is quite free to take any subject in this field to examine. So I think that Parliament does have a remedy in its own hands here.

The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, asked three specific questions. I took careful note of what was said by other noble Lords on both sides of the Chamber and on the Cross Benches, but I should like to deal with these more specific points before coming to what I have to say in conclusion. The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, asked about control of Commonwealth workers after entry, and particularly about the alternative scheme to police registration for Commonwealth citizens which has been worked out by my Department and the Department of Employment. The account he gave of the scheme was in general accurate, but with two qualifications. The first is that the employer will be required to let the Department of Employment know whether a worker has taken up the job specified in the work permit and the Department will check up itself whether this notification is or is not received. Secondly, at the end of the first year the worker will have to satisfy the Home Office that he is still in approved employment—not necessarily the same employment, but approved employment—before getting an extension.

The noble Lord also asked about the existing powers concerning the return of mental patients and whether the provisions contained in Clause 30 of the Bill are needed. The short answer is that the Mental Health Act 1959 concerned only aliens. The provisions in this Bill extend to Commonwealth citizens as well, and both as regards aliens and Commonwealth citizens the new qualification has been added that the Secretary of State must satisfy himself that return is in the interests of the patient himself. The noble Lord made a similar point on Clause 29 and asked whether that provision is needed. The present system administered by the Supplementary Benefits Commission enables payments of this nature (to help somebody return overseas) to be made but only in very restricted circumstances. They can be made only when a man either is out of work or has no prospect of obtaining work. The scheme starts at the point where somebody is established as a burden on public funds. In my speech on Second Reading I explained that we did not think it right to wait until that point, when a man is destitute, if he wishes to return home and cannot afford the fare.

The noble Baroness, Lady White, asked me how the Government thought this power under Clause 29 would be used and whether there was any further information I could give about the discussions we have been having with the International Social Service. I am now in a position to make a statement on this matter. I am glad to inform the House that the International Social Service of Great Britain have now agreed to operate, at Government expense, the scheme for giving assistance under Clause 29 of the Bill to immigrants leaving the United Kingdom. They are uniquely well qualified to do this work, and I am sure that noble Lords in all parts of the House will welcome their participation and wish me to express our warm appreciation of their agreement to undertake this work. In particular, I trust that the fact that the scheme will be administered in this way. taken together with the new subsection to the clause, will finally put to rest any doubts about the social work approach that the Government have adopted.

International Social Service will be in a position to receive written applications shortly after the Bill receives the Royal Assent. This is, however, as noble Lords will appreciate, an entirely new field of activity, and for the first few months they will be mainly occupied in processing applications and formulating the best working methods. They will not begin the actual payment of money to returning immigrants, as a normal day-to-day part of their operations, until about the beginning of the next financial year.

I would remind your Lordships again that the intention is only to assist those who have failed to settle down here and who cannot be expected to finance their departure themselves. It would take too long to describe now the criteria that we arc asking International Social Service to use in considering applications, but these are set out in a Home Office document on the basis of which International Social Services have agreed to undertake the scheme. The document has been released by the Home Office to-day, and copies will be placed in the Library of the House.

My Lords, I should like to end what I have to say on this Bill with a reply to the charge made by the noble Lords, Lord Royle and Lord Brockway, that this Bill is racially discriminatory. I want to ask people who think on these lines just to take stock and to consider the implications of what they are saying. First and foremost, this is an Immigration Bill. In other words, it is about the conditions governing the entry and settlement of newcomers to this country. There may still be some people who genuinely believe that there should be no control whatever on the admission of people to settle here. But that is no longer a realistic point of view, and it is one that would obtain little support in the country at large.

So, if it is accepted that some control is needed, the question is: What control? The Government's answer is to replace a piecemeal system of law, largely temporary in nature, which has evolved over fifty years, with a single rational system based simply and solely on the nature of the would-be immigrant's connection with this country. Given that control is necessary, surely a system of this kind, containing as it does safeguards for those already settled here, a comprehensive machinery for appeal tribunals and so on, is eminently fair and reasonable. Of its nature, the system limits immigration of coloured people seeking entry for permanent settlement here, as it does of white people. The simple fact—and it is a fact, although perhaps a regrettable one—is that as a nation we are not at present sufficiently ready or able to absorb into our society unlimited numbers of cultural strangers, and the consequent need for control over immigration from the Commonwealth has been accepted by successive Governments over a period of nearly ten years.

On Second Reading, I made the point that this Bill, unlike its two predecessors, does not aim to extend immigration control to large categories of people who are at present exempt: indeed, there is a slight relaxation by including in the categories with the right of abode not only those Commonwealth citizens who have a father born in this country but also those with a mother—what the noble Baroness, Lady White, in a happy phrase, called the "matrial clause". If people still want to go on saying that this Bill is racially discriminatory, and that successive Governments have been bent on appeasing the demands of prejudice, of course I cannot stop them. But let me pose a few questions. If this were a racist Bill, would it have safeguarded with such extraordinary care the position of people from the Commonwealth who are already settled here? Would the rights of their wives and children to follow them have been protected? Would the Government have been prepared to listen to arguments to the extent that we have been? Would the proposals for police registration of Commonwealth citizens, with their special significance for community relations, have been modified in the way they have been? Would there have been the special safeguards against any possible abuse of the provisions in Clause 29 for helping people who want to leave? Surely these aspects of the Bill, and the subsequent concessions, demonstrate that the Government's concern with community relations is genuine, and that we have been concerned to remove anxieties among the immigrant communities, even when they have been based, in our view, on misapprehension.

Going a little wider than the Bill itself, is it really likely that a racially discriminatory Government would be giving their full hacking to the Race Relations Board; and that they should be backing the Community Relations Commission in the demanding and important work that faces it? Of course it is easy to criticise the Government when one does not have the responsibilities of government. I do not object to that; it is one of the functions of any Opposition. But the Government of the day must press on and do what they think, on balance, is right—and right for all the people of this country, white and coloured together, present and future—neither ignoring the legitimate feelings of the majority, nor failing to recognise the special problems of minorities and of newcomers. That, my Lords, is what we are doing in this Bill.

On Question, Bill passed and returned to the Commons.