HL Deb 19 July 1972 vol 333 cc761-3

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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will publish a list of the United Kingdom passport holders of East African origin now in detention, showing in each case the name of the person, the place of detention and the date from which detention began; and if they will also state the numbers of East African passport holders known to be in each of the countries of Europe, giving names and dates of entry applications where possible.


My Lords, the latest information is that 99 United Kingdom passport holders are detained here following refusal of admission, while there are 56 in Italy, two in Spain and 21 in France. I hesitate in an Oral Answer to give to the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, the rest of the detailed information for which he has asked and such information as is available about those known to be in Europe, and would suggest to the noble Lord that he allows me to write to him with the information.


My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord for offering to write, and I take him up on that. Do these figures include the 21 who arrived yesterday, and do they take into account the six who were expelled at noon yesterday? Does the noble Viscount consider it is proper for those six people to be sent out of the country at a time when this Question was on the Order Paper awaiting answer, contrary to the usual practice of the Home Office where, representations having been made by a noble Lord or by a Member of another place, a decision is kept in abeyance until that approach has been dealt with? May I ask the noble Viscount whether he has any information about how many of these people have come in from India, and whether he thinks that the special quota of 500 vouchers, awarded in April to persons holding United Kingdom passports but of East African origin who have emigrated to India and then subsequently come to this country, stacks up properly against the 2,200 people waiting in the queue there? May I also take this opportunty of asking the noble Viscount—


My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt the noble Lord, but the noble Lord. Lord Shinwell, is beginning to look rather smug.


My Lords, I was just coming to an end—whether any further information can be made available to the House about the application to the European Commission on Human Rights of East African passport holders?


My Lords, I think I can remember that list. The 99 did not include the six who left for India yesterday. The 21 in France are the 21 who left for France, I think, the day before yesterday. The noble Lord asked, thirdly, about the 500 extra vouchers that were announced by my right honourable friend as part of the global allocation—not. I think the noble Lord will appreciate, solely specified for India, although in fact some of them may relate to India. I would suggest to the noble Lord and to the House that this is a step forward in the right direction and in the direction of an increase in the number of special vouchers that have been made available since this Government came into office.

As to the European Commission, the noble Lord will be aware of the method of proceeding when a petition is made to the European Commission. I cannot add to the answers that were given in December last and in June of this year because the process is still going on. It is a trialogue between Her Majesty's Government, the Commission and the petitioners and there is nothing that I can add at this moment to what was said before.


My Lords, may I ask a brief additional question? Are not the Government particularly anxious about the position of British protected persons, none of whom was included in the six who were expelled yesterday? And if no provision exists for a special allocation of vouchers, what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government in regard to these people when they arrive in the United Kingdom?


My Lords, that is a separate question and one on which I do not think I can answer the noble Lord at the moment. There was one point in the noble Lord's second list of supplementary questions that I apologise for having forgotten—namely, the question of the six who were sent back to India recently. The noble Lord must realise that the review of these cases goes on all the time. It was not something that happened after the noble Lord had put down his Question. There was nothing in the noble Lord's Question that specifically related to these six as opposed to any others. The cases are being reviewed all the time and it simply happened coincidentally that a decision was made on that one while the noble Lord's Question was on the Order Paper. No disrespect, either to him or to Parliament, was intended, but I am afraid we must get on with these matters in accordance with the annual quota.


My Lords, may I ask my noble friend whether Her Majesty's Government will make a statement when the British passport becomes worth the paper it is written on?


My Lords, did the noble Lord ask me when I would make a statement? If so, the answer is "Not to-day."