HL Deb 24 June 1976 vol 372 cc498-565

6.24 p.m.

Lord GRIDLEY rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they now consider that in view of the need for good race relations, the difficulties to be overcome in assimilating various national characteristics, the overcrowding of our schools and cities, and the attendant increase in the density of our population at a time of economic difficulties, that urgent representations should now be made to Governments of the New Commonwealth, that we are no longer able to accept immigration from their countries. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to ask the Unstarred Question standing in my name. I approach this question in a humane sense, constructively and, I would hope, without emotion. I think the issues which face us at the moment in this country in connection with racial problems are very severe in certain circumstances. I am most grateful to those distinguished noble Lords and distinguished noble Baronesses and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester who will follow me in this debate. I am sure that each one of them will make his or her own valuable contribution, and I hope that what is said in this House tonight will be of assistance to Her Majesty's Government in some of the difficulties which face them—and in which they have my sympathy.

What are the facts in Britain at the present time? In the past few weeks, racial disturbances in this country have resulted in the deaths of two boys: one Asian boy and one white boy. This is two boys too many! This distresses me. I served over many years as a Colonial officer in a country where racial relations were excellent. I am upset when I come home to find that we have incidents of this kind occurring in Britain. If I say, as indeed I have said in the terms of the Unstarred Question that is before your Lordships, that further immigration from the New Commonwealth should cease, it is because I believe—and perhaps this is only temporary, I do not know ; at the present juncture, it may be so—that my country, Britain, is not a fit place to receive immigrants in the circumstances which obtain here today.

I am speaking particularly of the problems which face us in this country. I shall give my reasons for my beliefs on these issues in a moment ; but I suggest that the Government might consider what they should do when they have heard what I have to say on the subject. Taking into consideration what I have said, if they think it worth while, they should, if the Commonwealth is to mean anything to any of us, take some of these problems for a frank discussion with our Commonwealth friends; that is to say, men of the highest calibre within the commonwealth of nations. I should like these discussions to be of a confidential nature with the Prime Ministers and other leaders of our overseas territories.

I am not, in the Unstarred Question I am putting to the Government, suggesting tonight that we should send back to the countries from which they came those immigrants who are settled here and who are making a worthwhile contribution to our affairs in this country. Our immediate task, as I see it, is to see that those who are here are happily settled and have reasonable chances of achieving their own aspirations. But there are enough problems which face us in that connection alone and, as regards further immigration, I often wonder whether the Government of this country, or any British Government of any complexion, makes known to overseas Government the conditions or type of society which a would-be immigrant will find when he arrives in this country. May I ask the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, to tell us whether a proper, correct picture is given of our society to overseas would-be immigrants before they come here.

My Lords, I shall speak from what I know and from what I have read about immigrants who have come to this country, and the problems which face certain West Indian families. The West Indian family is a family which epitomises the love of family and children—everything that we in this island cherish and hope for our own families. They come into a permissive society ; their children go to British schools and, in a permissive society, they are contaminated in our British schools. The West Indian parents, because they believe in a rather strict Christian attitude, chastise their children rather violently for some of the actions which the children learn in our British schools. The parents are considered by their children to be no longer " with it ". There is evidence from the reports of Select Committees made in the other place of West Indian mothers and fathers going back to the West Indies brokenhearted and in despair. There is the attendant result of a break-up of families and the children are left in Britain under the care of the welfare authorities.

There are so many instances but I can quote only a few of them. There is the case which happened in a London school recently, which was told to me verbally by a teacher in that school, regarding a Nigerian girl. Her parents, holders of a British passport, came from Nigeria and returned there because they could not stand the standards of our society in Britain. The girl remains in Britain because it suits her. Here is another break-up of a family. She likes our permissive society but the family is broken up. At this particular moment, this girl is on a police charge for theft. She is supported by the welfare authorities. Another girl, because of the religious scruples of her parents, does not like to play school games bare legged. This is because it is against the religious scruples of her parents.

As we were once head of the Commonwealth—we were the founders of a great Empire and we have had great experience of these things—it is extraordinary that we should allow these problems to arise before these people come here. Surely we have had enough experience to know of these problems. Would it not have been better if we had anticipated them and not been forced to deal with them after these people arrived ? In this permissive society, in which it has been possible to challenge society's foundations, the Secretary of State for Education and Science has recently called for a report on violence and truancy in our schools. Here again, go down to the grass roots, talk to the teachers in London, as I have done. Hear about the lack of discipline and the violence that suddenly erupts from some of our coloured children. Everybody then will understand—and I am sure the Government understand this now—that this report is certainly timely. I am sure noble Lords would like to see this report, if it is possible for the Government to let them do so, and then no doubt the facts will come to light.

Against this background, and the violence which has occurred, noble Lords—and probably the Government—will have read the report for the year 1975 of the Commissioner of Police, Sir Robert Mark, to the Home Secretary, and have read of the problems which the Commissioner faces with our coloured youths in the age groups 18 to 22. What the Commissioner of Police, with all his attendant responsibilities and the difficulties which face him in this country, reported does not make very pleasant reading. He has to deal with these matters with an authorised police establishment of 26,628. The establishment is short of that figure by 5,200, at a time when, with the problems with which they are faced from a racial source, they have the problems of the IRA to deal with. They also probably have the problems of dealing with subversive elements which thrive in this kind of situation.

I will quote only a few words of what Sir Robert Mark says:

" It is a regrettable fact that relations between the police and many black youths are bad, and there is a growing tendency seen frequently during the year under review for groups of black people to react in violent opposition to police officers carrying out their lawful duties ".

If one reads an account of the incidents to which he is referring, one will see that in a number of cases—I think there are five, although I shall be corrected if I am wrong—Sir Robert refers to occasions when two police officers were on duty and went to stop two coloured youths lighting each other with knives; and when they tried to separate them the police were set on by from between 80 to 100 coloured youths who somehow appeared from out of the blue.

The MINISTER of STATE, HOME OFFICE (Lord Harris of Greenwich)

My Lords, I apologise for interrupting. The noble Lord, Lord Gridley, is speaking about one particular problem in certain parts of London. Clearly, in the limited time available it will be difficult to deal with all the points which are raised in this debate. I must make it clear that the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis would in no sense suggest that the problems that the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, is dealing with apply to the entire immigration community. That is a grotesque overstatement of the situation.


My Lords, I am prepared to answer the Minister. I accept everything he says. This is the tip of the iceberg; there are very serious situations which can blow up into something else which one day we will find difficulty in dealing with. I accept there are very large numbers of immigrants in this country who behave in a perfectly lawful manner. I would have hoped that the noble Lord would see from the manner in which I opened my speech that I wish to be constructive. Nevertheless, if I may answer the noble Lord and give him my opinion on these matters, I do not think that when the Commissioner sees fit to mention these instances in his report, it is safe for us to overlook them. That is all I wish to say on that subject.

And so to continue, my Lords. I have covered the heartbreak that occurs in the case of certain West Indian families who come to Britain, the case of the Nigerian girl whose family has returned to Nigeria, the incidents of the violence of black youths and the report which the Secretary of State for Education has called for concerning violence and truancy in our schools.

I should like, if I may, to ask the noble Lord whether I should be justified in wondering, as regards that report, if it will cover in any way what is being taught in some of our schools at the present time, and possibly by some—and I emphasise " some "—of our academics, particularly about our historical past, and those charges of " exploitation " which we hear being made by responsible people, together with accusations of exploiting our former Territories from which some of the people now coming to this country originate. I know from my own experience that there is no justification whatever for what is being said about our past history, but I have my doubts about whether the real facts are being taught sufficiently clearly, especially to the younger immigrants. In that sense, this is a contributory cause of the attitudes to which the commissioner of police has referred and also of the problems involved in dealing with race relations in this country.

At this moment, we have immigrants growing up in our community and we wish them to play their full part in a settled society and in the right conditions for them to achieve their proper aspirations. In all this, as the noble Lord knows, I pay my full tribute to the social services, the community services and to all those who give unselfish service in the best interests of race relations. I join in paying a tribute to the part played by the police, because the police go to our schools and endeavour to explain to our coloured youth the part that they play in modern society. But I have been told by the police on many occasions when they go into these schools they are accepted with a studied indifference on the part of their audience. I do not have the right of reply in this debate, and I cannot anticipate what others may say. I hope the Government will understand how I feel on this subject. It is my view that matters cannot remain where they now stand and that some sort of action is necessary.

On the question of the United Kingdom passport holder, I have no doubt that other speakers, and indeed the noble Lord who is to reply for the Government, will be referring to this. I wonder truthfully where lies the greater morality: to allow the immigrant to come here by virtue of his passport or to be truthful and frank about the present conditions in Britain of which I have spoken, and, in consultation with the Commonwealth, say that we cannot accept immigration at present. I know where I consider our morality to be on this subject.

To those who would have us spend large sums on the social services, on extra housing for immigrants and many other schemes which might be considered neces- sary in the interests of overseas immigration at this time, I should like to say this: in 19 years our share of world trade has steadily sunk from 19 per cent. to 8 per cent., and Germany's share at present is 21 per cent. With a falling pound and the enhanced prices which will follow from this, together with our huge debt as a borrowing nation, I cannot see that we have the resources for any large-scale immigration schemes at the present time or for financing help for immigrants on a large scale. I think it would do us all good if someone would get up and tell the nation, and particularly our youth, that if we are ever to be in a position where we can help others it is to manufacturing industry in Britain that we must turn. That is where we created our wealth; and it does not help at this moment if our youth ignores industry and goes instead for other jobs which are non-productive. If we could once again regain our strength and spirit of adventure as a great nation and recreate our wealth, nobody would be happier than I at the fact that we should be able financially to help our country to reach such a situation.

6.46 p.m.


My Lords, if anybody imagines that stating a question in the terms of the one now under discussion tonight is going to help to improve race relations, they must be out of their tiny minds. They could not reach that conclusion in any discussions with representatives of the ethnic minorities in this country, who are extremely worried by this constant harping on the question of black immigration as a threat or a problem. The noble Lord said that he was not suggesting that immigrants already here should be sent back to their countries of origin. I think that is something to be grateful for. There are plenty of people outside who will take up that theme


My Lords, I am sorry to intervene: I thought the noble Lord said I was advocating that they should be sent back. I did not say that.


No, I did not say that at all. I was saying that there were other people outside the House who will take up that theme and will take up precisely the arguments which the noble Lord has presented to the House. I suggest that some of the language we hear used in this context would be more appropriate to trying to keep rabies out of this country. If noble Lords express themselves in rather less immoderate terms in this House, they are nevertheless cloaking with respectability the loathsome and evil utterances of racists outside and are giving aid and comfort to some of the nastiest and most dangerous elements in our society which aim to build, not Jerusalem, but Auschwitz, in England's green and pleasant land.

If conflict between the races becomes a regular feature of our national life and tensions build up to an even greater extent than we have seen in the last few weeks, let those who encourage fear among the native white population examine their consciences. I am not speaking about people such as Mr. Enoch Powell or Mr. Kingsley Read, who openly whip up anti-black hysteria, but of the far more numerous clandestine band of racists in Parliament, in local authorities and the media. If the small number of black people now coming here for settlement constitute such a danger as these people seek to portray, then what hope can there possibly be, once they arrive in this country, of those black people being given genuine equality of treatment? If one is the host at a party and one makes it crystal clear to some of the guests that it would have been better if they had stayed away, then they may reasonably expect to be accorded a much lower standard of hospitality.

Perhaps what is said in your Lordships' House is a matter of little importance in this respect, since it is unlikely to be widely reported outside. Of far greater concern to me is the recent treatment of immigration in the national Press and on television, of which I will give three examples. The reporting by the Daily Mail of the case of the refugees from Malawi, who were temporarily accommodated in a four-star hotel by the West Sussex County Council, was grossly inflammatory, bearing in mind the effect it was likely to have on the minds of tens of thousands of native families who are either homeless or living in slum conditions. An interview of between three and four minutes on the peak hour ITN news, with an Asian who lost five passports in eight years, was obviously likely to create the impression in the minds of viewers, not only that this man had sold the passports to would-be illegal entrants, but that, bearing in mind the prominence of the item on the news, this was a practice which was virtually universal among Asian immigrants.

Then, in last Saturday's Daily Express, nearly half the front page was occupied by an article under the headline,

Immigration men accuse Home Office and say ' We can't cope with flood of Asians '. dealing with a series of allegations, some of which were blatantly untrue, while the remainder were unsupported by a single shred of evidence. The fact that a newspaper which presumably claims to be responsible could publish such an inflammatory article in the middle of a period of great tension passes all comprehension. In my view, this article constituted a serious breach of the guidelines on race relations issued by the National Union of Journalists, which call on members to,

resist the temptation to sensationalise issues which could harm race relations ", and as a member of the union I have formally complained to the general secretary. I want to present to your Lordships another side of the picture of immigration, which you are not likely to see if your reading is confined to the Daily Mail and the Daily Express. First, I give some figures which can be found in the Home Office statistics of immigration for 1975, published just the other day. Last year, we admitted 1,965 work permit holders from the black Commonwealth, compared with 7,784 from non-EEC foreign countries. The number of people accepted for settlement on removal of time limit, from the black Commonwealth plus Pakistan, was 18,755, compared with 20,462 foreigners, excluding the Pakistanis. We took in 1,642 au pair girls from Switzerland and 23 from the whole of the Commonwealth, while 11,814 students came here from the United States compared with 1,901 from India. The Japanese are clearly treated by our Government as honorary whites, the same as they are in South Africa, because we admitted 583 of them for work, compared with one from Zambia.

From Spain, there arrived 872 people for work; more than from any single Commonwealth country. From the United States, 1,052 people came here for employment; more than half as many as from the whole of the black Commonwealth. If one excludes holders of United Kingdom passports, the total accepted for settlement from the black Commonwealth, either on arrival or on removal of the time limit, was 31,749, and the equivalent number of foreigners was 31,477. Thus it is clear to me—and I hope I have demonstrated it to your Lordships—that Britain is operating a racist immigration policy, and as long as it continues in this way we have precious little hope of eradicating racism within the country.

The admission of white foreigners in such large numbers and, further, the deliberate creation of a pool of 8 million patrials who are entitled to come here whenever they like, gives the lie to the argument which we sometimes hear that we cannot tolerate immigration on the present scale, because this is an overcrowded island. If, indeed, the critics on the other side are unduly concerned with numbers, why do they so consistently ignore emigration, which has exceeded immigration in every recent year except 1973, when we were coping with the aftermath of the Uganda emergency ? In 1974, for instance, there was a net outflow from England and Wales of 65,000 people. For the United Kingdom as a whole, there was a net loss of 41,800 people in 1975, due to migration to the rest of the world, and the Registrar-General's population projections assume a continuing net outflow every year to the end of the century.

There is one other essential fact which is nearly always either overlooked or ignored in these discussions. Of the people living in Britain who had one or both parents born in the black Commonwealth or Pakistan, two out of every five were themselves born in the United Kingdom and the proportion is, of course, steadily increasing. So that the use of the term " coloured immigrant ", which encourages ignorant people to equate a dark skin with an overseas origin, should therefore be avoided.

Returning to my assertion that we are operating a racist immigration policy in this country, I shall give some illustrations of how the rules are applied so as to make it as difficult as possible for those who are eligible to come here from the black Commonwealth. First, I refer to the dependants of heads of household who are themselves ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom. The average waiting time for a first interview with an applicant is 16 months in India, 22 months in Pakistan and 18 months in Bangladesh, and except in the case of New Delhi, the figures given by the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, in a Written Answer to me on Monday, demonstrate that the queues are still getting longer.

The time to first interview represents the shortest interval between the application for, and the granting of, an entry certificate, since in a high proportion of the cases further inquiries are found to be necessary by the ECOs. Yet most of the wives and children who are thus sentenced to long periods of separation from their husband and father have an absolute right to come here, under both domestic and international law.

I think that Lord Justice Scarman's remarks in relation to patrial wives are equally relevant to these cases. He said:

Delay of this order appears to me to infringe at least two human rights recognised, and therefore protected, by English law. Justice delayed is justice denied: ' We will not deny or defer to any man either justice or right '.—Magna Carta Chapter 29.

This hallowed principle of our law is now reinforced by the European Convention on Human Rights … Article 8 of the Convention provides: (1) Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence ',"

Quite apart from these legal aspects, the system of processing applications from dependants damages race relations by keeping families separated from one another, by denying educational opportunity to children whose working lives are going to be spent in Britain, and by causing future citizens to have as their first experience of this country the attitude of suspicion and lengthy interrogation that characterises interviews overseas.

At a conference held last Sunday, sponsored by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and attended by 200 delegates representing all the ethnic minorities in this country, as well as local CRCs and civil liberties organisations, a resolution was passed unanimously demanding certain specific changes in the immigration rules to make them more humane. One very important suggestion was that time limits should be laid down for each stage in the entry certificate procedures, to which ECOs would then have to adhere. In order to make sure that they did, the conference proposed that the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration's terms of reference ought to be extended, so as to allow him to investigate complaints of maladministration against entry certificate officers. Considering the disastrous effects which their decisions, and their failure to make decisions in many cases, can have on family life, it is quite wrong that they should be immune from scrutiny by the PCA.

Another of the matters which was discussed at this conference was the plight of single parents, as a result of the " sole responsibility " rule. This rule, 43(e) and (f) of HC 79, says that a child is to be allowed to join a single parent in the United Kingdom only if that parent has had the sole responsibility for the child's upbringing, or where special considerations are involved such as the mental or physical incapacity of the other parent.

Almost exclusively this rule affects single mothers from the Caribbean who arrived here several years ago and had to establish themselves economically before they could bring in the child. Since most of these mothers have had to accept the worst paid jobs in our community, an older member of the family in the country of origin—frequently the maternal grandmother—has generally contributed to the child's support. The result is that even if the grandmother or other relative is ageing and infirm, and no matter how appalling the conditions may be in which the child is living, he is not allowed to join his mother here; and having made application to do so, he may even be denied permission to come to see his mother as a visitor, on the ground that he might try to remain.

Speaking of visitors, I could mention numerous bona fide applications by parents to come here to see their children which have been the subject of endless frustration and delay, even in cases where the parents might well have qualified as permanent settlers under the elderly dependant rule. In one such case which I recently conducted before the adjudicator, the elderly parents had been waiting for over three years to come here and to spend a short holiday with their married daughter in Essex.

Another example, which was resolved only yesterday, was of parents who had been refused permission to come here for their daughter's wedding on this coming Saturday. The amount of time and effort which has been expended on this case by a friend in the United Kingdom, the parents, the Home Office, the High Commission in India and The Times newspaper has been quite formidable; and it is hardly surprising that public spending is out of control when so much red tape is applied to an ordinary visit. Although I wrote last week and asked the Minister, Dr. Shirley Summerskill, whether the matter could be treated as one of urgency, the decision was reached only yesterday. The parents live in Allahabad—which is 14 hours' travel, in a temperature of 120 degrees, away from Delhi—and it is very unlikely, after all this and the endless trouble that people have gone to, that physically it will be possible for them to get here in time for their daughter's wedding on Saturday.

I have by no means exhausted the criticisms which can be made of the immigration rules and the way in which they are interpreted, always to the disadvantage of people wanting to come here for any purpose whatsoever from the black Commonwealth. But I am bound to say, in conclusion, that if the Government themselves apply policies which are so utterly inhumane, conflicting as they do with all the norms of civilised behaviour, to say nothing of the provisions of international and domestic law, the results are predictable. The feelings of insecurity among black citizens will be, and are being, intensified. Relations with our Commonwealth partners will be severely damaged. The Fascist elements, which could one day pose a terrible threat to our democratic system, are given aid and encouragement. And the effect of well-intentioned legislation to promote general equality of opportunity for the black communities could be totally nullified.

7.4 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of MANCHESTER

My Lords, first may I offer my apologies to your Lordships' House for my inability to remain, as I would wish to do, until the end of this debate. Only the necessity of catching the last train to Manchester after four days' absence can take me away from the debate.

Those of us who live in the large cities of this country, even in cities where relations between people of different colours have generally been very harmonious, will understand quite well the thinking which lies behind the Question of the noble Lord, Lord Gridley. When we face the already well-known problems of our inner city areas, aggravated as these are by the rate of unemployment, especially among young people, it is very tempting to see drastic limitation of the entry of immigrants from New Commonwealth countries as an easy solution to these problems. There are not wanting those—the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, has made it quite clear that he is not included in this category—who would like to put a large share of blame for ills that are of our own making upon the stranger in our midst. History can show a number of precedents for this, many of them grievous and disastrous in their outcome.

Those in the Churches who devote constant attention to community and race relations are not seeking to deny the necessity for controls over immigration and a close watch upon its effects, not least in the interests of immigrants themselves. Only a foolish person would deny that necessity. Nevertheless, we should want to argue that Government already have the necessary controls and can use and extend them without the kind of drastic representations called for in the noble Lord's Question.

Against the background of far greater poverty than our own in the New Commonwealth countries and of acute racial sensitivity in the world as a whole, we should sec such representations as likely to do much harm and little good; for surely it is the case that the number of immigrants from New Commonwealth countries is neither instigated nor controlled by their Governments, any more than the number of those emigrating from Britain is controlled by our own Government. Furthermore, the accuracy of the analysis of our situation, as contained in the noble Lord's Question, must be regarded as being open to doubt. The population of our country is not, as a matter of fact, increasing greatly. As the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, has pointed out, in recent years more people have left to settle elsewhere than have entered for settlement here. I was visiting the other day a small town in my diocese where there are five doctors practising under the National Health Service, all of whom are Indians. Whatever that may say about British doctors, that particular community must be grateful to the Indian doctors who work among them.

It is well known that the population of some of our great cities has been declining and that the decline in the number of children entering the schools has resulted in an excess of unemployed teachers. It can certainly he argued that overcrowding has long presented us with problems in these Islands ever since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, but to represent such overcrowding as being largely due to the presence of a coloured immigrant population of between 1 million and 2 million people is to commit a fallacy which may promote real injustice.

Finally, the implications of the phrase in the noble Lord's Question concerning the difficulties to be overcome in assimilating various national characteristics would not, I feel sure, be readily accepted by your Lordships' House. I am proud to be associated with Manchester and to serve its community, but I am also proud to be in some ways an unassimilated Scotsman, and I am not aware that the Mancunians greatly resent that fact. There is already a multiracialism which runs through the tradition of predominantly Anglo-Saxon countries and which has generally saved them from the more fantastic theories of " pure blooded " race.

Our freedom has allowed many groups of different origins to develop in different ways and to maintain a satisfactory identity and style of life within the ambit of the law and of a mature and tolerant community. The challenge before us at this particular moment of history seems to be whether we can maintain and develop this tradition in a world where its scarcity value becomes ever more apparent. If we can do this, I believe that we shall earn the respect and gratitude of the world as a whole; but if we turn back, or turn out, im anyone who cannot quickly be assimilated into a notional " English way of life " we shall, I think, be far from achieving those good race relations which the noble Lord's Question desiderates.

7.9 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Gridley on giving us the opportunity of debating, albeit in a thin House and rather late in the evening, a subject which, without any question, is giving very grave concern to many people in all walks of life whom nobody could begin to call racist. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, will stay for one minute because I want to say something about him, and I should not like it to be thought that I was saying it behind his back.

The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, has an infinite capacity for attacking those who do not see eye to eye with him. I am glad to see that the noble Lord is back in his place. For one who claims all the privileges of free speech and who uses them with great skill, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, did less than justice to the noble Lord who introduced this debate by virtually threatening those who disagree with the view of the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, or who hold other views. I know that my noble friend Lord Gridley was speaking in good faith, with a real sense of responsibility and from wide experience. I think it is unfair to suggest that those of us who say what we believe to be true—some of us with a fair amount of experience of this subject—should be accused, if we put forward the facts, of being likely to be misrepresented by others. I believe this is an invitation to deny the evidence and the truth. I was not wildly impressed by some of the figures given by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, because after all, what have au pair girls in common with immigrants ?


My Lords, will the noble Baroness give way?


My Lords, immigrants come to stay; au pair girls come for a given time and if they leave the job for which they come they can be turned out by the officials because they have come under false pretences.


My Lords, will the noble Baroness allow me? I am sorry to interrupt her, but I thought I had made it clear that these were not my figures; they were the figures produced by the Home Office. The au pair girls represented only one in a series of examples which I gave.


My Lords, the noble Lord is misrepresenting my point. I am not saying his figures were inaccurate; I am saying they were quite irrelevant to the question of immigrants. Au pair girls come for an entirely different purpose and, in the case of immigrants, we should be comparing like with like. Also the noble Lord gave—quite accurately, I am sure—the figures for American students. There are many members of this House and of the other House who have enjoyed the opportunity of an exchange and have finished their education in the United States of America, and are rather proud of it and put it in Who's Who.

Equally, we welcome the exchange of students from whatever country, and again they come for a short period of time. While I do not challenge for one moment the figures given by the noble Lord, they are not relative in balancing the problems of immigration, as such, as against short-term entry for those who will be going back.

I should like to go back over a mite of history. I was privileged to be Under-Secretary at the Home Office in the late '50s when the steady flow of, in the main, West Indian and West African immigrants started to arrive in this country. Indeed, at that time of high employment, some industries, such as British Transport, went out quite deliberately to recruit staffs. By 1958 it was apparent that the concentration in a limited number of centres was producing acute problems in housing, education and welfare. Ultimately, the then Conservative Government introduced a measure of control which was contested every inch of the way right through the night by the then Labour Opposition who pledged themselves in 1962 that their first act on the return of a Labour Government would be to repeal this inhuman, racist legislation.

Being returned to office, a Labour Government reviewing the situation with a responsible rather than an emotional eye, and having to review—because it was legislation for annual review—within, I think, 11 weeks of being returned as a majority Government, the then Home Secretary (the present Prime Minister) not only re-enacted the regulations, which I believe he did quite rightly in the light of the then circumstances, but in fact he made them tougher.

Since then, and as a result of the racist policies of some of the African States, we have taken in thousands of Indians and Pakistanis, and I believe we have created a feeling among the African rulers that if they are ruthless and racist enough Britain will be forced to take all their Asian populations. Some African leaders are nationalist in the extreme and they are being supported in this country in their policy of " Africa for the Africans " by the very people who so vociferously preached to us that we should be multiracial. Those who have travelled in Africa will find that time and time again, they are taken into a corner and lobbied. We in this country are told: " You must get your Government to increase their quota, to take more of these Asians. We do not want any trouble with Britain but, you know, we shall be forced to do a General Amin unless you step up the 3,000 or 5,000 "—or whatever the quota is. Ask anyone who has ever been on any delegations in the last ten years. The thought is always, " Britain will do anything to avoid trouble. We can push all the Asians out, however brutally ". I can remember the first plane-load of the expellees from Uganda. They were people who had booked their own flights, people of means. When they arrived here, after a dozen or so forced stops by General Amin's thugs, they were penniless, young children's cheap watches having been ripped off their wrists, jewellery having been torn off the women who came. And yet the noble Lord condemns this Government and the former Conservative Government that we are arraigned before the councils of the world for not behaving fairly.

Should we not point out that the wholesale expulsion of Asians from countries is far more racist than are our limited and very necessary controls on those who come to this country ? Today, in far greater measure, we have the same social problems which gave rise to the original legislation of controls, and in addition we have above average unemployment, which was not evident in the late 'fifties. We have tremendous unemployment, with a higher average among the coloured population than the white.

I believe that the gap between the Parties over these years has narrowed because there is a common desire to deal fairly and honestly with those who are here and not exacerbate the problem by having large increases of people coming into a country that cannot at this moment provide for them the jobs or the housing accommodation. No one in their senses would believe that we can take in vast numbers more, since to do so can only make things worse for the people who are already here. Our great mistake, and a major problem for all Governments—and I confess it is one to which I do not know the solution—is the excessive concentration of too many Commonwealth immigrants in too few urban centres, creating insoluble problems for the local authorities affected.

I think it is worth comparing for a moment the ease and success with which we have absorbed alien immigrants and refugees. It has always been an unwritten law of the Home Office, in which I was very proud to serve, that we would never have a foreign ghetto on our soil. To that end, while doing our full share in giving asylum to those oppressed, we quietly and strategically spread the load and dispersed the groups throughout the country: a quarter of a million victims of Nazi oppression just before the war, mainly Jewish; half a million Poles immediately after the war, including the Free Polish Armed Forces and their dependants who feared elimination if they returned to Russian-occupied Poland. In addition, in my term of office, having particular responsibility for the Aliens Department, I dealt with 36,000 Hungarian refugees, and a similar number of Anglo-Egyptian expellees, all absorbed into the community, most of them now British nationals. My point is that you cannot now go to any village or street and say, " These are all Poles, and these are all Hungarians ".

My Lords, I accept, and I know that some noble Lord will raise it, that a person with a dark skin is more discernable; but that still does not alter my basic theory, that they are concentrated in too few centres, to the detriment and difficulty of too limited a number of authorities, and with too small a number of opportunities of employment. We had no such opportunity to guide and disperse more widely the coloured population, many of whom carried British passports. Their very concentration, the way in which they are changing the character of vast areas of our great cities, and, as has happened in America, in some areas are driving the white people out; the fact that they are changing the whole character and balance of services, and the balance of local authority finance, are factors that cannot be ignored. This massive concentration has highlighted every problem, whether it be in schools, housing, demands on welfare, or the incidence of crime.

If, instead of accepting such vast numbers, we had challenged more firmly black African Nationalist policy, the issue would not be in our lap, but at the United Nations, where it should have gone in the first place. If I have any quarrel on this issue with the Government it is that they did not take as firm a stand in challenging the action of General Amin in " shooting out " his Asian population, with the ruthless expropriation of their homes, their businesses, their livelihoods and ultimately their expulsion.


My Lords, if I may interrupt the noble Baroness, Lady Hornsby-Smith, it is the Tory Government, in power at the time of the expelling of the Asian population from General Amin's country, which she is criticising.


My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord. There was, perhaps, a small margin of time between when I came out of the other place and my arrival here. I do not think that we should be expected, in a small, overcrowded land, to accept every persecuted Asian who previously lived under the Imperial Empire. The figures if one takes Asian as well as African countries, could be enormous.

I particularly support the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, in that this is an issue which should be discussed between leaders throughout the Commonwealth, to bring home the fact that if we are to be economically viable and a provider, as we would wish to be, of economic aid to those countries, then we should not also be expected to take on a very substantial burden of a long flow of immigrants. We are committed to a certain quota from Kenya, to a quota from India, and, indeed, to a quota from Pakistan. But these have been exceeded quite substantially in the last three years. People will accept that the Government promised and must keep their word on that quota. What people do not tolerate is illegal entry, when evil men traffic in lives by bringing people over to what is really financial servitude; because when their families have sold up everything they possess, and have found £1,000 to get them to Ostend, they then cross the water in some horrid little boat and will be landed in some creek on the East coast. For ever and a day after that they can be blackmailed. They live a life of misery in this country because they will always have over their heads the threat of the evil men who organise this trade, saying, " Unless you pay up, we will go to the Home Office and say you are all illegal immigrants ".

My Lords, in my view the Government should be far more tough about illegal entry, even if it means hardship to the dozen or so people who arc caught. It would break the traffic by these evil men who trade on human lives in this manner.


My Lords, as this is an important point, I should be grateful if the noble Baroness, Lady Hornsby-Smith, would clarify what she means by the Government becoming more tough. The practices which she is discussing constitute serious criminal offences. People who are guilty of acts of that sort when arrested are brought before the criminal courts, and in many cases are sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. What precisely is the noble Baroness suggesting the Government should do now?


My Lords, perhaps I used the term loosely; the Government should provide the legislation by which maximum sentences can be imposed. As the traffic still goes on, perhaps the sentences are too small. But maximum sentences should be imposed on people who operate these vicious schemes and give a far worse life to the unfortunate illegal immigrant than certainly he would have had, had he entered the country under a passport.

If we are to do our humane duty to those people already here, we should give them hope and employment; we should give them hope of better education and a proper home. But, for the time being, we must call a halt to a further influx of immigrants. All our records show that the British people by nature are not racist, nor are they inhuman. But when they and their families are perhaps deprived of a home or a job, it is inevitable that they will make comparisons. If the concentration in one town is too high, they will resent new families from overseas jumping the housing queue while daughter Mary, her husband and children, crowd in with mum, after having been seven years on the housing list. They will resent the slow-moving classes where teachers have to concentrate on immigrants with limited English while their own children are held back.

We might think it is wrong; we might think they should be Christian in their sacrifices. But I think the House would be deluding itself if it did not appreciate how deeply this is felt by many perfectly decent ordinary people in this country. They see the rate at which rates and taxes soar to meet the vast social services, and they are saying to anyone who will listen and hear, " At this time, with unemployment of white and coloured, with a shortage of houses for white and coloured, enough is enough. At least until we have survived and cured our current massive problems, please do not make matters worse ".

Some years ago I thought and hoped we had seen the end of the National Front, but their sadly increasing polls are evidence of the strong feeling of many otherwise perfectly ordinary decent people, who are turning to them not because they are fascists—there was an example where they beat the local Labour candidate with a poll that one would never have expected to see in this country—but because they fear we are not heeding their urban problems, because they feel frustrated. They fear an explosion unless something is done to hold immigration until we have solved the problems currently with us, in the interests of both coloured and white.

All we seek is that we should limit the intake, and train the current school-leavers in trades where they can have opportunities outside the dozen or 20 major urban conurbations which have so high a coloured population, so that they can go to areas where they will automatically get better housing and education, outside the congested cities. We cannot direct them, but we can encourage them. Indeed the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester mentioned how in all areas we have coloured doctors. In medicine and in nursing they have been dispersed, by reason of professional status and opportunity to live a different life. Why should we allow in 18,000 foreigners for the catering trade every year ? With the tourist trade all round our ports, all over the country, why could we not have a crash training programme so that next year we could man our hotels—many of them in delightful areas of the country and along the coastline—with people from our own country. My Lords, I hope that we can relieve the mounting pressure, that we can do justice to those who are here, before we increase the burden beyond our ability to cope, and beyond the British people's willingness to accept it.

7.33 p.m.


My Lords, I must begin by apologising to the noble Lord, Lord Grindley, because I was not here for the beginning of his speech; unfortunately, this debate came on so quickly that I was caught somewhere else. I must also tell him, however, that I am sorry that he has introduced this Question. I regard it as ill-timed. I feel that it is ill-conceived, and I am afraid it is irrelevant if what he wants to do is to foster good race relations. The reason is very simple. It again deals with the question of numbers and attempts to perpetuate the myth, because it is a myth, that the fewer the numbers the better the quality of race relations. That is a myth, and it is a myth that has inspired the 1962 Commonwealth Immigrants Act, the Immigration White Paper of August 1965 and the Immigration Acts of 1968 and 1971. It is designed to placate the racialists, but it is a fallacy; for to the racialist or the anti-semite the only acceptable number is nought. The proof of what I am saying can be seen in the fact that the National Front admit that their major support lies in areas near to but not in areas of high coloured concentration. The reason for that is that ignorance leads to fear. Thus, when a person fears that his next door neighbour will in future be coloured he wants immigration stopped. However, you will find that the least hostility to coloured people is found among the whites who live next to, shop with, travel with, work with and play with coloured persons.

My Lords, I will tell you my own story. In 1929 I came to this country for the first time. I was then 15 years old and a Boy Scout. I attended the World Jamboree at Arrow Park, Birkenhead. In fact, earlier today I discovered that the Chief Whip was one of the Girl Guides who visited the Arrow Park, Birkenhead, at the time, and, although I did not tell her this, it may well be that she was one of the Guides that I stood and admired as they went around. After the jamboree we came to London. We camped for a while in the Empress Hall. I notice that wherever I went I was followed by a lot of children, and some of them would rub the back of my hand; some of them would even moisten their fingers before they rubbed the back of my hand. I did not realise what they were doing. I merely smiled, as is my wont. But subsequently I was told that what they were trying to do was to discover whether the black would rub off. That was 1929. I returned to this country in 1933 and studied medicine in Edinburgh.

In the thirties there were very few black people in this country, and we were mostly students, and a few seamen. I can assure your Lordships that we experienced more racial discrimination than is being experienced by the black people in this country today. All we were asking was lodgings and some social intercourse, but very few of us escaped having landladies shut their doors in our faces, and most dance halls and clubs would not admit us. When we went into restaurants we were either refused service or placed in a corner and then neglected. At that time there was no suggestion that the country was overcrowded or that we were taking homes or jobs from the members of the host community. We were merely made to feel unwelcome.

With that experience, it is not possible for me to accept that race relations in Britain will be improved by a mere reduction in the numbers of people from the New Commonwealth who are coming into this country, as I know it is not true. Most of your Lordships remember the late Lord Constantine. When the Imperial Hotel refused to honour its obligation to rent a room to Leary Constantine because they discovered he was black, it was not because there were no rooms in the hotel or that the country was overcrowded. They did not like his black face and did not want a black man in the hotel. Moreover, if we come nearer to the present, so far as the West Indies are concerned, migration to this country has virtually ceased. But there is no evidence that the attitude of the people of this country to the West Indians in their midst has improved. We listened to the noble Lord who opened this debate. I must, therefore, dismiss very firmly the suggestion that reduction of numbers will improve race relations.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? I am most grateful to the noble Lord for the contribution that he has made, and I am quite sure that everybody here is waiting to hear his speech with great interest. However, may I say that, by suggesting that we might curtail further immigration, I am not trying to be racist in any sense, or put a stop to the idea that sometime in the future people may resume coming here. What I am saying is that there arc problems here at the moment. I do not think that the noble Lord was present to hear what I said about that. I am trying to be constructive and to highlight those problems, and make some suggestions as to how we should deal with some of the unhappiness which may exist. I hope that that is considered constructive.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord. I shall continue my speech. He may discover the line of my argument later on. I was going on to say that the argument in favour of control of immigration from the New Commonwealth is itself a contributory factor to the worsening of race relations. The suggestion that if there are fewer people from the New Commonwealth there will be a better society, suggests that people from the New Commonwealth are a form of pollution, and that policies should be geared to keeping that pollution at an absolute minimum. This, in itself, engenders prejudice.

Moreover, the criticism of coloured immigration and coloured immigrants is, for many people, a way of protesting against their living conditions. For, in addition to highlighting the degree of racial prejudice and racial discrimination which exists in this society, the presence of the immigrants has also highlighted the high degree of social deprivation which exists in this society, particularly in the big cities. Some of the points which the noble Baroness made on that are points with which I agree. She will discover which points I agree with and which points I do not. But in many instances when people protest about immigration they are in fact protesting about their conditions.

When people are told that immigration is being reduced, they expect to see fewer black people around, and they also expect less deprivation, but the opposite is bound to be the case. The people who are here will have children, and therefore their numbers will increase. Therefore, far from seeing fewer people around, they are going to see more. Then since immigration and the immigrants have nothing whatever to do with their deprivation, the deprivation will continue. It is because of that that they conclude that control of immigration is not sufficiently strict and ask—and in fact demand—for stricter control of immigration. When this does not bring about the desired change, they conclude that only repatriation will meet the case, and they then demand that that be done.

We have had all this. In 1962, as the noble Baroness reminded us, immigration control by the issue of vouchers was introduced. In August 1965 the then Labour Government issued a White Paper on Immigration from the Commonwealth in which they committed themselves to stricter control of immigration as an adjunct to an attack on racial discrimination. In 1968 we had an Immigration Act and a Race Relations Act. In 1971 a stricter Immigration Act, which contained provisions for helping immigrants to return to their countries of origin, with some financial help from the State. None of this has changed the situation. Now the demand is for a complete ban on immigration from the New Commonwealth, and more generous terms for repatriation. Of course, the extremist groups who, in this matter, have always led the field, call for " humane repatriation ". It will not be long before they drop the term " humane ".

Let us cut out the hypocrisy, and stop talking about immigration and face the issue for what it is, because it is an issue of colour. Then let us talk about colour, and let all the major political Parties tell the people why it is in their interest to be, and to be recognised as being, a multiracial society. Do not believe that that is an insurmountable task, and do not be frightened of it. Remember that the right honourable gentleman, Mr. Edward Heath, was told that the British people would not forgive him for taking them into the Common Market. But when my right honourable friend Sir Harold Wilson decided to consult the people, and the three national Parties joined hands and put to the people the case for joining the Common Market, the response was overwhelming. That bears a lesson for you, my Lords.

Your Lordships may well ask what is the case for a multiracial Britain. Personally, I think it is very simple. Britain's history and future greatness depends on it. The world is getting smaller, in that communication is quick and effective. Quick and effective communication always breaks down barriers. There are problems common to all mankind—for example, to name just two, food shortages and pollution. These problems need to be dealt with in a spirit of brotherhood. But the world could fail in its dealing with these problems if divisions of race cloud the need to share resources. We have already discovered at a stroke that our oil bill can skyrocket not for economic reasons but for political reasons. Let us learn these lessons.

What must also be faced is the degree and extent of the wealth of Africa, Asia and the Carribean, which is still untapped, and that the super-Powers are now busily engaged in trying, by political and psychological warfare, to win the minds and hearts of the peoples of those areas. The British public deserve to have these things explained to them, because at the end of the day it is from economic power that political power springs. They will also understand, if it is explained to them, that in the same way that the Social Contract between the Government and the unions has made a significant contribution to the fight against inflation, so a social contract between the developed and developing nations is essential if we are to win the fight against world poverty and hunger. The people deserve to be told that the line that divides the world economically also divides the world racially and it is as necessary for the white and black nations to come together as it was for the Government and the unions to come together in this country.

It must be explained so that the people understand that Britain is the country best placed to bridge that gap, because it was from this country that people went overseas. It was British Governments who gave British Citizenship to others; it was Britain who consciously exported her customs, recruited men to fight in her wars and work in her factories. The people will understand, if they are told, that Britain can be great again by setting the prime example to the world of a harmonious multiracial society, thus justifying her Empire and being once more sought after on the international stage. Viewed in this context, the question whether the percentage of blacks in this population is five, 10, 15 or 20 is not relevant. That does not mean that immigration must not be controlled ; this island is small and therefore immigration to it has to be controlled. What it means is that immigration cannot be controlled in a discriminatory manner, and I am afraid that the Question to which the Minister is invited to acquiesce tonight is one which invites Her Majesty's Government to agree to discriminate in their immigration policy against people from the New Commonwealth. That is what the Question is all about and that is why it must be opposed.

We must control immigration, but it must be controlled fairly and compassionately, and the immigration control must be in keeping with our national ethos. It is no use our sitting here debating the importance of the family one week and the next week advocating policies which would divide the families of another race. That is not in keeping with our national ethos. That does not mean that this country needs to take a large and unending stream of dependants. When all is said and done, there is nothing to prevent any Government of this country from saying that all people living here who have dependants overseas must register them, indicating that by a certain date they must all be registered, indicating that after that date anybody who claims that somebody who is coming here is a dependent will have to explain why he or she was not registered in the first instance, and indicating that everybody who comes here after that date must register their dependants. So this talk about an endless flow of dependants is rubbish because any Government can control it when they want to.

Of course, if one is controlling immigration one cannot allow illegal immigration and that must be dealt with very firmly; but we must keep the matter in perspective. I cannot see any reason why the Government cannot lay down by regulation—I do not think it need be done more than by way of regulation—that anybody registering for the first time at a labour exchange must produce his or her passport.

Perhaps legislation would be required—I do not know whether it is the law now—to make it illegal for anybody to employ a person who does not have a National Insurance card. I am not suggesting that that would stop illegal immigration. It would make it difficult and it would take away some of the carrots of illegal immigration, for the simple reason that if a person going to a country knows that when he gets there he will not be allowed to work, or that he will have real difficulty in finding work, that would be a great disincentive to any illegal immigrant; and if the people helping such people to come in illegally knew that they would be in real trouble, they would not be likely to help. There are other methods and I am sure that noble Lords can think of them. But all these matters must be kept in perspective. What we must not do is adopt panic measures or make statements which alarm people. My Lords, I have spoken for longer than my Chief Whip told me I ought. I believe that what I have said is obvious; that is why we must spell it out to the people. I await with great interest the Minister's reply.

7.57 p.m.


My Lords, I find myself in the unusual position of speaking following the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, to whose emotional address we listened with great interest. He speaks with experience and has undoubtedly made a significant contribution to this discussion. In his turn, the noble Lord followed the persuasive and knowledgeable speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Hornsby-Smith, who also made a great contribution to our debate. Her remarks were so full of information that it is difficult to avoid repetition, tempted as one is to repeat much of what she said.

I intervene because I support the reasoning of my noble friend Lord Gridley who, in an excellent address, spoke in a temperate manner with the advantage of his experience overseas. With that experience, he has thought fit to initiate this debate, which in my view is timely and necessary. I hope that my noble friend will succeed in drawing something reassuring from the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, to whose reply I look forward with great interest. I wish at the outset to ask the Minister whether he can clarify the massive amount of statistics which have been thrown out by the Press towards and against immigration. There appears to be a belief that a report from Sir Claus Moser was very comprehensive, but I have not been able to discover that that document has been made available to the public. We shall no doubt hear from the Minister what that actually means.

It was clear from my noble friend's opening remarks that succeeding speakers were bound to comment both on the procedure and principle of the matters he raised. It seems that the whole subject is dependent upon the unreasonableness of the existing situation of legislation. Ever since the 1948 Act and succeeding Acts, people seem to have drawn legalistic conclusions which vary as to their justification; but, whatever it may be, it seems that what is needed at the moment—whether or not this Government will do it, and the Conservative Government omitted to do it—is a comprehensive revision of the overriding legal position. That would govern admissions to this country. The situation was made more difficult by the abdication by the British Government of their imperial burden and the absence at that time of politicians on both sides of the House who saw what the future would bring about. Their carelessness is what has brought about this present difficulty.

It has been urged by many that there are obligations, sacred cows, which cannot be changed. Why cannot immigration legislation be changed ? The United States has changed her's many times. I can cite a personal experience. When I emigrated to the United States to take over the management of a family firm, I was arrested on a charge of criminal conspiracy which required the putting up of bail of 10,000 dollars. Why? Because I had offered to employees in this country the expectation of a job when they arrived in the United States. In that country now it is criminally incorrect for anybody to go there with a promise of a job. Surely, in the conditions in which we find ourselves, it is unreasonable to suggest that we cannot change our law. I am among those who believe and are convinced—as I believe are the majority of people in this country, though not in Parliament—that we do not want to see a further inflow of non-whites into this country. That is why I ask the noble Lord, first, why should we not have, going one better than the temperate recommendations of my noble friend, a moratorium of all immigration? We should plead force majeure as do other countries when they are faced with problems. They have no hesitation in committing themselves to a change of legislation.

It seems that, apart from that, we need to tighten up on the abuses which take place. The Press is full of them. There is no need in this debate to repeat some of the many examples, but I cannot resist the temptation to refer to a few. However, I want first to say that I believe that there is a great deal of hypocrisy uttered about integration during all these discussions regarding immigration. The allegation that this country wants to see complete integration of all people who come here is utter nonsense. The people themselves do not want to be integrated. They want to observe their own religions and customs, living together. In other words, a separateness. In other contexts, the word is apartheid. It is the same thing. Apartheid is very much disliked in other parts but it is encouraged in this country.

Another thing which it is difficult to understand is how the Socialist Party in particular are so anxious to see a generous—or is it generous or merely overwhelming?—inflow of non-whites into the country. I use the phrase " non-whites " because I think that " coloured " is wrong. It carries a suggestion of mixed race, of something that is less admired than a pure race. I believe in a pure race. I believe in the British race. That is why, 30 or 40 years ago, the idea of immigration which would give us 3 million or more non-whites in this country would have horrified a previous generation. My noble friend Lady Hornsby-Smith emphasised the strain on our social services. It is well known. That has all been gone over. There is no need to refer to it tonight. However, there is wisdom in interjecting that the speed of reproduction of those 3 million people far outpaces the natural habits of the British race.

I must again refer to illegal entry. It has been the subject of an exchange of correspondence and I am grateful to the noble Lord for responding so generously. The illegal entrance into this country must be on a large scale. It seems that the police are not equal to what is required. The over-staying of permits and the difficulty which the police have in tracing people are problems, but undoubtedly the police, strained as they are, should attempt to produce a better result than is the case at present.

The absurdity of legislation should be mentioned. There is legislation on race relations, sex discrimination and so on. One cannot legislate for compassion, tolerance or charity. Try to tell a white man that he must not say he wants to sell his property to English people. Why should he not? Those sort of absurdities are brought about by this compassion or, as I believe, by hypocrisy about integration and assimilation, which are not wanted by the majority of immigrants themselves.

Then there is the question of dependents. If the spouse wants to join the other partner, why can he not go back to where they came from ? Why bring the other partner into this country? The noble Lord himself will admit that it is not all people who come in on one voucher. It has been alleged that it might be up to 12. The man may have several wives and many children and they can all come in, if not all on the same permit, on other permits. Then there are the difficulties like the forged P45 tax forms which, by paying £200 apiece, anybody can get, and the insurance cards which can most easily be changed.

I should like to say a word about repatriation. From conversations that I have had with non-whites from the West Indies, I believe that they would willingly go back home if somebody would pay their fares. However, there is no proper system of encouraging them to seek repatriation where it would be desired. Official figures given by the Home Office relate to the mass of people who might pour into this country from a great number of countries throughout the world, and I firmly believe that the majority of people in this country are not in favour of that.

In conclusion, I turn to a point which was mentioned earlier. Mixed blood is a sad thing. Those who know the West Indies have seen it. They have seen how the throw-back can come from whites to blacks, and they have seen the sadness of the condition of those people. God forbid that we should see a big extension of that situation in this noble land of ours, which has had purity of blood for generations, and which wants to maintain it for the benefit of posterity.

8.11 p.m.

Baroness VICKERS

My Lords, first I should like to offer my congratulations to the noble Lord who asked this Unstarred Question. He has an outstanding record. For 30 years he worked in Malaysia, and Malaya before that, and he survived three and a half years in a prison camp as an internee. Therefore I think that he has some considerable understanding of the problems he has spoken about this evening. I am venturing to speak only because I, too, have lived and worked in Malaysia. I have also worked in East Africa, and for a short time in India. So I have some knowledge of the difficulties which occur between different races and different tribes, because of their customs, their religions and their cultures. It takes a considerable time to get to understand different people, but I hope that this will gradually happen in this country.

I also wish to thank the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, for his contribution to the debate. He and I have known each other for some considerable time, and he knows that I have always done my best to help with relations between different peoples. I have had people visit my flat in London and to stay with me at my house in Devonport. It takes much time and much understanding, and I was privileged, having worked overseas, to be able to get some knowledge in regard to this matter. I dare say that a number of noble Lords have read the debate on this matter in the other House. I should like to mention the resolution which that House passed unanimously. It stated :

This House notes with concern the changing demographic character of Great Britain, particularly the outflow of young people emigrating overseas and the continuing inflow of immigrants from the New Commonwealth; and calls on the G overnment,"— and this is the point I want to emphasise—

in the interests of improving race relations, to make a clear and accurate statement of its immigration policy."—[Official Report, Commons, 24/5/76; col. 104.] That is what we hope we are to get tonight.

I also wish to pay a tribute to those who came from overseas, particularly after the last war, and who helped build up the industries in this country again. I have in mind particularly those who worked in our National Health Service. We owe them a real debt of gratitude, and I hope that they will continue to serve in this country. However, when we know that there are 1¾million of these people from overseas now in this country, and bearing in mind that it has been stated that this will become a multiracial and a multicultural society—this is reported in Hansard for 11th May 1976—I feel that we cannot hurry this situation. Education, living together, meeting in community centres and so on are the only ways in which we can prepare the ground for future happiness for these people in this country. I know only too well, as will the noble Lord who opened the debate, that in Malaysia, for example, (which I suppose is one of the better examples of race relations) there have been race riots. We were not allowed to go into each other's clubs. The European club became open, but I have never been invited into a Chinese or an Indian club. One has to realise that the different cultures and the different food make all the difference.

There are citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies, British subjects without citizenship, and British protected persons who could come to Britain, and one wonders what is being done to discuss the matter with the various Governments in the countries where these persons are now living. I should also like to ask the Government when they expect to receive the findings of the review of the British Nationality Law. I gather that this was instigated two years ago by the Conservative Government, and was concerned with the legal rights of British subjects. I hope that this review will also clarify the situation in regard to citizens of United Kingdom and Colonies, the British subjects, and the British protected persons, particularly, should they want to come here—those from Malaysia and Singapore.

What rather worries me is that 32,000 children have come here in the past three years, and they have been admitted to settle with parents and step-parents. This causes a great problem for education. The figure for husbands and wives reached over 10,000 in two years, and that for foreign nationals was over 50,000 in two years. This is a time when we have very high unemployment in this country. The Home Secretary said in the programme " Tonight " on 30th January 1976:

I think there is every reason for a very tight control on immigration, and that indeed is the policy I apply. However I note from column 1541 of Hansard of 6th February 1975 that the number of vouchers issued to United Kingdom passport holders increased from 3,500 to 5,000. There is the problem, which has been touched upon by other noble Lords, of illegal immigrants, many of whom have now obtained, illegally, National Insurance cards. I gather that in a survey of 330 Commonwealth and foreign national immigrant workers in London hotels, restaurants and cafes, 84 per cent. admitted that they were illegal immigrants.

I should like to quote from a statement made by the noble Lord, Lord Carr of Hadley, hen he was Home Secretary. He was talking on the occasion of the expulsion of the Ugandan Asians, when 26,000 United Kingdom passport holders entered this country in 1972. He gave the following pledge:

" I have no doubt that we had an obligation to take those citizens from Uganda when they were expelled. I said publicly, and I repeat, that I would not have remained a member of a Government that did not accept that obligation. But, equally, we have a duty to this country, not least to those who came to this country as immigrants. Having accepted that burden, as we did, I do not believe that it would be right for any British Government again to accept a similar burden to that which we accepted last summer …"— [Official Report, Commons, 21/2/72, col. 589.] I think we are all agreed that the noble Lord, Lord Carr of Hadley, when he was Mr. Robert Carr, was a very good Home Secretary. He was very thoughtful and very generous in the way he treated people in regard to immigration. But Mr. Whitelaw, speaking in the other House on 4th March, called for firm counter action to be taken immediately and proper checks instituted to prevent over-staying. He has a reputation, particularly for the way he manages affairs in Parliament, for being a just and considerate man. If these two people give their views in this way, I think we can take it that they are not racialists in any way and that they are thinking about what is best for the people of this country.

I should like to know what detailed information is given to immigrants. I gather that in some places immigration officers in the countries from which people are coming have to work under very difficult conditions. When, for example, people are going to Hong Kong from this country they are given a very good briefing; there are excellent leaflets available, and they are told what to expect and how to behave.

So many of these immigrants cannot read or write. I am not talking only about those from the New Commonwealth, because those from Europe cannot speak the language, either. I should like to know what preparation is given them before they come here. In this House recently we had a debate concerning the family, and one of the sad aspects which has been touched on by my noble friend as regards immigrant life is the breakdown of the extended family system. I remember going to church in Barbados on an Easter Day. There were three sessions because there were so many people going to church. They were all dressed most beautifully in their best clothes, and the children were particularly attractive. There were queues to enter. The sad thing now is—and I manage some hostels—that we have too many of these girls, particularly, in hostels. We are very pleased to have them, and of course they are made welcome, but it is not really their place; and, as has also been mentioned, there are too many in the care of local authorities.

What also worries me at the present time is that we have Indian families sending for arranged brides—brides they have never seen and do not know. It seems very unfair on the Indian women in this country. Why is it that the men cannot marry them? Many times we have heard the Indian men say that they prefer somebody from India, an arranged bride, probably because there is some money attached from the country of origin and they get the vouchers. I believe there are now 7,750 matrimonial vouchers issued for this reason. I understand that there is a report from Mr. Hawley and that this is disputed by an ex-Minister of State at the Home Office. Perhaps the Minister can say whether we are ever going to be allowed to see this report, and what he feels is the differentiation, particularly between him and the previous Minister. I think it is essential to know the real facts, or otherwise we may get more of the National Front type of action, which we would all deplore, and other groups in the island will want to know the true situation. I expect the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, knows this, but it has been said that ILEA has made a survey and has now re-allocated £400 million to help immigrant children overcome language difficulties. In present circumstances, will this mean that other people's children will have less education and fewer facilities?

I should like to make a few suggestions in regard to what we could do in the future. There is a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference in Mauritius in September. I should like to see this matter put on the agenda, so that we can hear the views of the various Members of Parliament who come to discuss their problems. We might perhaps get quite a different view of the problems about which we have heard tonight. We would probably also get some very good suggestions; and it would seem to me an easy way to ventilate this problem. I believe that at the moment there is a pool of 80,000 with an average of three dependants each waiting to come from India. This, I should like to suggest, is not really the time for them to come, in view of the unemployment at the present moment. I mentioned the £400 million. Would it not be better if the Government could send some money to India to set up industries there, where the people would be living in their own country, among their own people and not coming here to an unknown world?

I should like to give an example, if I may. I am interested in a shop selling Indian goods just off Oxford Street. I cannot tell your Lordships the place because I suppose it might he said that I was advertising. What happens is that we send an Indian lady who is married to an Englishman over to the work centres in India to buy the goods from them, and then we sell it at a profit and send the money back to the work centres. This has been going on extremely well for some time. There has been some delay in getting the goods through, but otherwise we have had a very successful time. I should like to see some arrangements made by the Government or by other voluntary organisations to help these people, because the social services are going to be very much strained in view of the cuts that the local authorities have been asked to make.

Having, as I have said, lived overseas, I have the feeling that people are happier living in their own country unless they come over, like the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, and make such a great success of their lives in this country; and even he, I know, still feels drawn to his own island, and goes back there from time to time. But he is now so integrated with us, and we hope that perhaps we shall have more people from the West Indies or from India in both Houses of Parliament. This is one of the ways in which we could help with integration.

I should like to end, then, with this question of integration. It is extremely difficult to integrate people. The noble Baroness, Lady Hornsby-Smith, mentioned the Hungarians, the Poles and so on. I had something to do with those in the West Country. They went to different places in the West Country. For example, in Plymouth itself they had a Polish Club where they used to come and meet to keep up their friendships. But in the small village in which I am now living there is a Polish gentleman married to an Englishwoman and also an Italian married to an Englishwoman. They are living among the people of this country, and that is what I call integration; not living in close proximity to members of their own race.

Perhaps this is a difficult question to ask the Minister, but I should like to know whether he really recognises the real fears and concern of, shall I say, the native British people. They want to be friendly and they want to know their neighbours, but they do not always understand them. For instance, you get Jamaicans who are full of life, and if it is a nice sunny day they come out on their doorsteps and sing and make a noise. We know that most British people keep their windows closed during most of the year and live inside their houses. They do not understand them. They see them spending money in different ways—in other words, buying big cars, which is of course their right and their wish: everybody can spend their money in the way they wish. I am giving only these two examples which have been brought to my notice, but it is very difficult for them to understand unless we do more to train them in the schools and tell them more about the customs of other religions or the cultures of other people. I therefore hope that today we shall take notice of what the noble Lord who opened this debate has said, and that all of us in this House will see that we do our best to help. But we cannot do it, I suggest, if we get overwhelmed by too many people coming here at once, and also while our unemployment is so high. It is not fair on the people who are already here from countries overseas or on our own British people.

8.28 p.m.


My Lords, when the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, approached me about this debate I presumed that he was remembering my efforts on behalf of my fellow Australians and New Zealanders during the debates on the various immigration Bills, race relations Bills and other such Bills that we have had over the years. My father was born in New Zealand and I was born in Australia. I was so insulted by the way in which the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, attacked the Amendment that I and the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, moved in one of those debates, an Amendment which would have made things easier for those from Australia and New Zealand, that I vowed that I would not take part in such a debate again, as otherwise I should be tempted to use unparliamentary language. However, recently the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, returned to that theme in a supplementary to a Question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, the other day, so I propose to defend myself by attacking the rules and the system which has, I think, been forced on us.

My son, born in the British Military Hospital in Singapore when I was a serving soldier there, was refused a British passport under the regulations—I presume because both his grandfathers were Members of this House. I will not bore your Lordships with refighting those battles and I have a cutting from the Sydney Sun-Herald of 17th September 1967, which reads:

Hoorah for Lord Clifford of Chudleigh! When am I going to be arrested?' he asked the House of Lords recently. ' I have an Australian passport and no work permit.' Every young Australian visitor harassed by Britain's immigration laws will raise a cheer. Every Australian over there facing gaol and deportation at the hands of something we still plaintively call the Mother Country will want to know why Lord Clifford is getting so little support from unsympathetic officialdom. Things have, through successive Governments, been eased from the position in those days.

Arising out of that publicity at that time, I began to get letters from many small people in various parts of this country saying how frustrated and bewildered they were becoming by the immigrant tide from the New Commonwealth. Then, as now, what irritated them most was the continuing pontification of the self-styled " do-gooders " in the race relations racket, insisting that you only have to stick up for your own to be branded a racist. More than once we have had to stay with us a Ghanaian friend now in agriculture, whose son we looked after many years ago while he was studying at agricultural college. The late Lord Bowles who was a neighbour of mine in Devon and was then the Front Bench person who helped me to get the passport for my son, came over to tell me that he had several friends—and I use that word in a political sense—who would talk this " holier than thou " language but who would never dream of doing what we are doing in having this family staying with us. This very Ghanaian said to me—there was a fuss in the Press about some Black Power announcement at Hyde Park Corner—and the late Lord Bowles was with me at the time, that he had been to Hyde Park Corner the Sunday before. The way he put it was: " You are a marvellous country. If one of your colour had made a speech like that in Accra he would have been lynched, his house burned down and his fellow countrymen kicked out of the country in no time ".

I would add that that Ghanaian has named his next two children after my wife and me, and when my son had a serious accident last August which received wide publicity, his was the first expensive overseas telephone call that I received. I am godfather to a Nigerian and have a long-time friendship with those Indians (now, some of them, Pakistanis) who were officers who did their ULIA—Unattached List, Indian Army—service with my regiment before the war. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, has the same experience from his Malayan service.

I could continue in this vein, but I only mention enough, and I hope it is enough, to nail the lie that those of us who are " pro " our own are colour-prejudiced racists—which is the favourite term of the intellectual snobs in the race relations racket. There has been an outcry from these inverted racists recently about the Foreign Office report to which the noble Baroness referred. I would say that to those who know anything about it, it is old hat. I have a particular friend based on Islamabad for the last ten years, and having served in Rawalpindi myself in the years before the war I asked him one day, " Have you still got the Tongas?" He replied, " No, we have all got taxi-drivers now! " He said that once they find you are English, the first quip is, " Ah! I hear that England is a Pakistan colony now ". When he goes round the villages, children come to him, many of them saying, " We are going to England ". He, knowing the rules says, "Your father is there ? " The standard reply is, he tells me, " No. He not my father; but I have chitty say he is ". This is nothing new. People have known all about the misrepresentation of our immigration rules in that sub-continent for a long time.

Personally, I cannot see why a country like Pakistan should have continued to have the privileges of Commonwealth membership once they opted out. Those of us who remember pre-war, when we had to separate fighting crowds of Muslims and Hindus, to have people like that pontificating to us about what we should do about our race relations is beyond me. I have a cutting from Dawn, a Karachi newspaper, of the 31st May. Its " London Letter " says:

Pakistanis and other Asians point out that the Labour Party was put into office by immigrants' judicious use of their votes in key marginal seats. If immigrants can put a Party in power, they can as well throw it out ". I call that bloody impertinence, as an interference with my country's affairs. I do not like to see my Government being blackmailed like that.

The nub of the problem in this country today is that the mass of the people in the affected areas are angry, not so much at the immigrants as at their own idealistic politicians who for a generation have babbled on about a multiracial society, but have left those in a few urban areas to suffer its traumas. I live in Chudleigh, a small village of 2,500 people. We have three West Indian families—four, really; for my local doctor is a Trinidadian and what is more he was at Oxford with me. I can tell you that the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, made a great mistake in going to Edinburgh—


The noble Lord will forgive me for intervening. Edinburgh is not the only city in which I lived.


My Lords, the point I am trying to make is that I had many friends in Oxford who were of many different colours—from Indians to the friend I have been talking about. I am sure they never had the trouble to which he referred in their digs. In our little way in my village I think we are an example of where we have gone wrong in this country. All those four families are, in their own sphere, completely integrated; but if instead of being four families in a total population of 2,500, they had been 300 or 400, I think there would have been the normal prejudices that arise when there is competition for jobs, competition for houses, competition for schools and competition for women—the whole gambit where you have too many in one place. I do not think you will ever change human nature. Cannot we face facts and remember what we are talking about? They are immigrants, not refugees for whom I would not alter our age old tradition; but they are people who come into a totally different society in pursuit of a higher standard of living. They must surely recognise the dangers of such a move. Surely, they must have made an appreciation of the situation.

Referring to differences in standards of living, the other day the noble Lord, Lord Platt, asked a Question about the Indian Medical Service Officers. I understood that if the officer was in India he received a pension of £400. If he was here, he received a pension of £2,500. I only use that to say that it is no use pretending that the standard of living is not different. What I think people tend to forget—I am sure they are " do-gooders ", and they just do not bother to think about it—are those whom the immigrants affect. They did not opt to run the risks of a multiracial society. Their world has in many cases been turned upside down. These especially are the poorer people in the urban areas. They did not vote for it nor have they been given a chance to vote against it.

Everyone has his likes and dislikes. He may like the " Krauts " or dislike the " Frogs " or " Wops ". But what a situation we have been put into! In America I am a God-damned Limey ". In South Africa I am a " something Rueneck ". In Australia, I am a " Pommy-bastard ". In China I am a variety of a foreign devil. Nobody gets put in gaol for it, nor do I for referring to the French as " Froggies ". It used to be popular for people to write or shout " Yanks-Go-Home ". But dare anyone mention " Bangladeshis - Go - Home "? What would happen ? The whole weight of the race relations racketeers would come down on the offender.

We have been legislating where we should have been educating. The self-appointed " do-gooders " have shown no sympathy for our own less fortunate citizens who themselves see ranged against them a massive pro-immigration lobby. The most reverend Primate made a point—and a valid one—a week ago about families being reunited. But surely the point he could have made is they can be just as well reunited in their country of origin. But the suggestion is that they are reunited at a cost to the British standard of living and further exasperating those of our peoplele—his people—who are bearing the brunt of this flood. It is all very well for us in our palaces, in our mansions, in our Hampstead sanctuaries, to take this " holier than thou " attitude. But there are ordinary folk in Bradford, Leicester, Southall or Brixton who see no lobby to support them. It is a different picture. Is it any wonder that some are being driven to extremism? A letter in The Times on 17th June summed it up thus:

The final lesson is clear. If Parliament does not respond to the legitimate fears and concerns of its own people it begins to destroy its own position as the focus and moderator of political action: it is not too late for Parliament to change ". Finally, I should like to switch subjects. Government, in their planning, Will have to make provision for a flood of refugees, much of their own making. After both World Wars, and particularly the first one, the British Government encouraged people to emigrate especially to Eastern and Southern Africa. Their children and grandchildren may soon be on the receiving end of a rather tough blood bath. We are always being preached to about that. What then is going to he the attitude of the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, or of the race relations racket with thousands of these people—refugees and white—who are to come here or try to come here ?

Are the Government still going to stick to the present plan where preference is given to those who come here to improve their standard of living at our expense, against those who have had the misfortune to have been damned and condemned by the race relations racketeers and who have turned the phrase, " kith and kin " into a dirty word ? If the Establishment do not make themselves clear, then they have only themselves to blame if more and more people in this country are driven in desperation into the ranks of the National Front and similar organisations.

What are the Government going to do, my Lords? Are they going today once again to the Communist-supported Afro-Asian bloc, or treat every man as a man whatever his race, religion or colour with preference to putting the family first? My guess is the Government will continue to sweep it under the carpet as has been done for some time. I personally think that good race relations have been ruined by those with a vested interest in the race Relations racket. New immigrants have been allowed to take over complete areas instead of being equally spread, and the Government only make fools of themselves legislating against prejudice. If I prefer a Goanese cook to an English cook—which I do—why should I not advertise for one, or sell my property to an Arab, or anyone I choose ? My Lords, you only make people more bloody-minded if you interfere with their liberties as is being done by this restrictive race relations legislation.

8.48 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to support the Unstarred Question of my noble friend Lord Gridley. I am glad to be able to put a line through the first sheet of my notes in which there were a lot of statistics. I am certainly not going to quote those. I was interested and glad to know from what the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, said about statistics that the population of this country is reducing. If it is reducing, it does not seem to be reducing in the most important areas. The noble Baroness, Lady Hornsby-Smith, referred to the concentration that there is in various areas.

I am particularly anxious to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, regarding the legal position about passports. The holder of a British passport has a right to the protection from this country, and whatever help this country can give him, wherever he may be. I should like to know what right there is for a holder to have claim to live here. If there is this right, with the seeming constant influx of people coming into this country, it seems a situation which will have to be altered legally.

Once we had an Empire—we have already heard Members of your Lordships' House reminding us of our history—and much of the territory which we held was in the form of trust so that the peoples who lived under our protection could one day become independent. We did not intend that one day we should become inundated with those people who were unable to get along with their new rulers. Whatever may be said about our administration of our one-time possessions overseas, we did not kick people out right, left and centre. When an incident occurs as, say, in South Africa between European and non-European, there is an absurd outcry about suppression and maltreatment, but no criticism is allowed on a similar scale about how non-Europeans treat each other. Yet any incident which occurs in any part of the world, particularly concerning Asian or African affairs " boiling up ", seems to give rise to a danger signal being given and this country has to be prepared for a further bunch of immigrants all brandishing passports which somehow or other they have got hold of or, as the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, mentioned, these chits claiming relationship. I remember the case being mentioned of a man claiming that he had a father with a chitty to say that he was the father. I am very glad that the noble Lord remembered that incident. In fact, it seems that this country has now reached the situation where we might be likened to a ship of state. We are like a liner which is in imminent danger of sinking, but the shipping company which owns it is letting people continue to come on board just because they have a ticket.

Let us also take what might be called a certain favourable note about immigration : one might even consider it to be a compliment. It is not merely a matter of passports and British citizenship that makes people come here: it is because we in this country have built up a style of life that is worth having, and the fact that so many people want to come to this country is a compliment. But, alas! it seems that saturation point is being reached.

The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, gave us some interesting facts about emigration. I am very interested in this subject, because it could be the solution to some of our problems, particularly with regard to young people. If we can help people who come to this country, whether for long periods or short, to gain qualifications which then help them to return either to their country of origin or to some other part of the world of their choice where they can live a happier and more prosperous life, so much the better. As regards our school-leavers, the encouragement of people in past decades to go abroad has already been mentioned. I should like to see a lot of our young people still wanting to go to work abroad.

As this Unstarred Question relates not only to immigration but also to race relations, I should like to see explored how relations between countries could be improved, particularly if some of our younger people go to an African or Asian country and ask for permission to work there with a view to possible future citizenship. That might well be a step forward towards a valuable relationship between countries.

I speak as one who has worked abroad for a certain amount of time, though not nearly so much as my noble friend. I also helped for a while to protect what was still our Empire during the War; later, under the wing of the Colonial Office, I went to a country which at the moment is not viewed very favourably, Malawi. In those days it was Nyasaland. I loved that country and still have an affection for it. I would encourage any adventurous British person to try his or her luck there. It used to be called " darkest Africa in its fairest form ", " Scotland in the Tropics " and " Switzerland without snow ". In fact its old motto was lux in tenebris—light in darkness.

When I worked there I noticed the relationships between the African and the Asians, and this brings me to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, about communication. A lot of immigration problems involve Asians, and it is here that we have the problem of lack of communication. I hope I shall not get too far off the point here; but I should like to tell your Lordships how I first discovered this. I was a land surveyor in Nyasaland. I was running a line of surveys along a road. The road, for most of the time, was empty; but suddenly there was the blare of a horn and a big car came tearing down the road, covering me and my instruments with a cloud of dust. I made a loud spitting noise and then I referred to the person inside the vehicle as an " adjectival " Indian. I will not say what the adjective was. The word is not exactly unrepeatable, but it might cause confusion. The Africans roared with laughter and from then on every time we met another African in the miles we traversed along the road, the story was repeated. It became longer and longer but it always ended up with an imitation of the car going by and my being covered with dust and spitting and what I said.

There was a lack of communication. I believe the Asian influx into Africa began because we built railways there long ago; in order to build the railways we had to import Indian labour because, unfortunately, the Africans could not understand well enough what was needed. And with the Indian labour came the Indian traders, who set up there and traded very well. But the Africans could not understand them. They kept to their own language. And so there was the English administrative element there; and the Africans and the Asians did not speak each other's language. The Asians formed their own colonies and the Africans feared them. When the Africans got their independence, they turned on the Asians—and so the Asians came here.

In my later work for the Greater London Council I visited Southall some years ago, and it has become almost an Asian community. It is a colony of Asians. They speak their own language; signs go up above shops and cinemas, and they are all signs which we do not understand. I am afraid that we British are not very good about picking up other languages. But there is this lack of communication. Lack of communication breeds distrust. Distrust breeds fear and fear breeds hatred. We have had this incident, unfortunately, of these youths killed in racial troubles, and unless something can be done to improve understanding, these troubles could continue and these evils could cause people to rush to Parties such as the National Front. They seem to be able to offer some wonderful solutions, but if one rushes to solutions too quickly one can sometimes cause even worse disasters afterwards.

My noble friend Lady Hornsby-Smith said that we should get tougher about immigration, and I rather support that. She mentioned President Amin and the threat of expulsion from African territories of all Asians. It must seem that this country is becoming a race of sentimental softies if we are going to say, " Oh, yes, you can all come in and we will look after you ". This country is not a land of the proverbial milk and honey, unless people are prepared to work hard. If people want to come here they must know that they have to work and be useful. We cannot take on passengers and money really is not there for the asking or the plucking off the tree of National Insurance.

We have suffered a lot in this country, and we have often suffered well with good purpose and have won through. But if we persist in our present policy, we are in danger of being the world's worst " sucker " country.

9 p.m.


My Lords, I should be guilty of a gross understatement if I were to say that this is not an easy subject. The other difficulty about making a speech this evening, is that after a formidable debate only a month ago in another place and after having heard your Lordships this evening, I am not sure that there is a great deal that is new to say unless there are figures which I do not know about, and certainly I am not going to talk about figures. should like to try to make a moderate speech, even if it does not appeal to some of the people who hold rather strong views on either side of this matter. I am quite unrepentant in trying to take a moderate and, I hope, constructive attitude and if others do not agree with it, then I do not necessarily agree with them either. I should like to start with the positive side of this matter, which I venture to suggest has not been sufficiently emphasised in the course of this debate, though it was mentioned by the right reverend Prelate and my noble friend Lady Hornsby-Smith.

For many centuries, we in this country have built up a reputation of providing a welcome and a home for peoples of very different origins from all over the world. In turn, we have as a nation reaped a harvest of enrichment from that hospitality. We are talking today about coloured or black immigrants, and I think we must be particularly careful to try not to forget or to spoil our history and our reputation, merely because those people are so much more conspicuous, as the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, reminded us, than the Poles, the Czechs, the Hungarians and countless others who, because they are white, have been so easily absorbed without anybody being able to spot who they are, particularly in the second generation.

I cannot deny what the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, said. There seems to be some kind of reaction in human terms based upon colour. It seems to work both ways. I do not believe it is solely the whites who are antipathetic at first sight to the blacks; I think it is the other way round also—and the noble Lord agrees with me. It is only after one has had an opportunity to find out and learn, that one realises that this is mistaken and wrong. I want to come back to that a little later.

Let us look at the advantages which these immigrants are now bringing us. I shall not go into many realms, but I suppose the most obvious is the world of sport. Look, my Lords, at the British team going to the Olympic Games and see how many people among them are of immigrant black origins. How many of your Lordships, who have sought something in the shops late in the evening or at the weekend, have taken advantage of the Asian traders who are the only ones still open ? Look, my Lords, at the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, himself. How glad we are to have him in this House, and how glad we are to have had the other black noble Lord, Lord Constantine. I wish he had spoken more often.

If only this new wave of immigrants would come forward in more numbers, like the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, and get into local government, get up in the professions and in public life, so that we could see them in action and they could see rather more of us in action ; if they could tell us what it is like, as the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, has been able to tell us from personal experience what it was like for him, then I believe we should understand a great deal better and the understanding would go both ways. I cannot wait for more people to come forward, not just from the medical profession but from all walks of life, and join in the activities of this country just the same as all the other people who live here. I must not fail to emphasise yet again that if people are to come here, whatever colour they may be, they must have equal opportunities, and let them also make an equal contribution; and I am afraid it is in the sphere of equal opportunities that some of the problems arise to which I shall have to return.

The source of some of this trouble seems to me to lie in our nationality legislation. My noble friend Lord Barnby mentioned the British Nationality Act 1948, and I think it is that Act which is the answer to my noble friend Lord Gainford's question about where the passports really come from. There were also the provisions in the independence Acts of some of the East African countries. In both these sets of legislation, we were generous and liberal; we also made the position excremely complicated. It may, unfortunately, have turned out that we were a trifle too generous and liberal with the nationality that we bestowed all over the world. But the fact remains that those Acts arc there and people's status is governed by them. They provide them with their nationality and, whether they are Kashmiris, Gujaratis or whatever they are, they are at the moment entitled to rely upon these provisions of our domestic law, and I suggest that it is not at all easy for us to renege on this situation. Certainly, if we are to do anything about it—I am sure that my noble friend Lord Gridley is right—we can do it only by discussion with overseas countries, whether they are Commonwealth or Pakistan, and by an opportunity to explain to Governments overseas what are the problems and seek their co-operation in helping. I am delighted that Mr. Bhutto is sending one of his Ministers over here to see what is happening at this end. I wish there were some inter-governmental contact of this kind, so that both sides could see what was happening in the other's country.

I should be as interested as my noble friend Lady Vickers to hear how the review of the British Nationality Act is getting on. It was not a task that we rejoiced to undertake when we were in power, although we saw that it probably had to be tackled. I do not envy the present Government the continuation of that task, but something will have to be done about it in due course and a decision reached, however difficult it may be. Therefore I should be glad to know how the task is getting on.

For better or for worse, I believe that we must accept—indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, mentioned this point—that in this country there is a real fear of the present situation. I do not want to add to it and I deplore people who do anything to add to it; but that does not mean that we must not recognise that the fear exists. I think that there is fear—very likely it arises from ignorance, or lack of experience, or from a plain lack of opportunity to discover what is the truth—among the indigenous white population about what is to come in the future, not only in terms of numbers but in terms of events. The indigenous white population fear that their neighbourhoods will be overwhelmed, that their life-style will be changed without their wishing it to be changed; and perhaps they fear that their jobs will be threatened.

As I read the correspondence in the newspapers over the last weeks I see that fear is also expressed by those immigrants from both black and Asian countries who are already settled here. They are afraid that if there is conflict they will be seriously harmed and drawn into it. I should think that they are also very afraid that if there is conflict of any kind it will be upon them that people will pick because, as I said before, they are so obvious: there is no ease with which one can discriminate between somebody who has been here for a fortnight and a person who has been here for 40 years and who was born and bred in this country. My noble friend Lady Hornsby-Smith mentioned this point. This is the race relations area upon which my noble friend Lord Gridley based his Question and upon which I am sure he is right.

It is at this point that I am afraid that I do not go all the way with the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead. He said that numbers were not really the point. I was immensely convinced and impressed by his argument as to the universality and the interdependence of the human race. Perhaps this is another of the advantages that these new waves of immigrants will bring to us, as the noble Lord very properly pointed out, and I am grateful to him for making that point. But there is something in numbers, because in numbers comes the demand for resources.

One of the most obvious areas of difficulty—this emerges whether you read the letter of my right honourable friend the Member for Worcester or whether you talk to people who know the problem on the ground in Brixton—is that of the young, unemployed West Indian youths. The only solution to their problem that I have ever heard anybody put forward is the injection of resources. One wonders, therefore, whether it may not be a little too facile to suggest, as the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, seemed to be suggesting, that we have something in the nature of a balance of immigration and emigration. I believe that some of those who are coming in will put great demands on our resources, whereas some of those going out take with them the benefit of the education that they have had in this country; if they had stayed they would have added to our wealth, not drawn upon it. I believe, therefore, that there is another element or dimension in what the noble Lord said about this problem.

Perhaps in particular the demand on resources derives from the very concentration that other noble Lords have mentioned: the geographical concentration upon which these immigrants appear to insist. I do not think that it is altogether right to dissociate the question of numbers from matters of either deprivation or local difficulties about employment. ' I believe that in the minds of people there is certainly a direct relationship between how many immigrants there are in an area and the problems that there arise.

What, then, ought one to do to try to put people's minds at rest and still some of the anxiety ? Here the Government have a role to play. If it is acceptable to talk in terms of numbers, I should like a little clarification. I think that it is acceptable to talk in terms of numbers, because if the British people know roughly how many people are likely to be coming into this country, who will have to be absorbed and whose demands for education, housing and so on will have to he met, then they will know where they are.

I was very interested to read in the debate in another place the right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary telling us how many United Kingdom passport holders there are still left in East Africa. When he put forward the figure of 40,000, he was questioned as to whether that was the United Kingdom passport holders only or whether it was all their dependants as well, and he did not know—or he did not appear to know when I read the Official Report. It is not necessarily a foregone conclusion that the answer is the same, because as I understand from the small experience that I had in government, it did not necessarily follow that all the dependants of a United Kingdom passport holder were themselves holders of United Kingdom passports. So I believe we need to be told, if the noble Lord can do so, what was the final outcome of the information from the East African side.

The other numbers count that has been very much in evidence recently is about the numbers of dependants in the Indian sub-continent. What is the truth about Lord Avebury's queues? Is there really a finite pool, as it has been called, of people to which we shall ultimately come to an end, or is it an open-ended pledge that we have brought upon ourselves by allowing all the dependants to come in? Reading the debate in another place I am told that Mr. Hawley's Report was mainly about the pool. Can the noble Lord tell us a little more about this? And can he also pick up the point which I noted that the honourable gentleman the Member for York, no less, suggested in another place and was picked up today by the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead; and can he pursue the matter of a register?

I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, that there cannot be any difficulty about this. People must be required to make up their minds how many dependants they have. I do not see any problem in getting them to do so. If they have already arrived, they can tell us how many there are still to come; if they are on their way here they can tell us on arrival and then we shall have some idea and, as the noble Lord said, it will require a remarkable piece of explanation to invent a whole lot more afterwards.


My Lords, if the noble Viscount will permit me to intervene for a moment, I should like to point out that if in fact the person allowed somebody who was not a dependant to come in, then in fact he would not be able to have his dependant come in.


My Lords, that might be a different sort of numbers count. Would the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, remind the House whether, as I believe is still the case, the immigration rules, subject to amendment about fiancés and husbands, are still rigidly enforced, because we hear some very strange stories about these dependants? We hear of uncles and aunts; we hear of depressed and distressed relatives and we hear the most extraordinary stories of how large all these families turn out to be. What is the truth about this? There are so many rumours about it; it is upon rumour that fear feeds, and I should like as much certainty in this area as is possible. We should welcome some reassurance about that.

We should also welcome reassurance about immigration rackets and about illegal immigration. I am not suggesting that the Government or the courts should be tougher with racketeers or with illegal immigrants than they are now. But what I find so unfortunate is that we have upon one hand estimated figures from Home Office sources given in the debate in another place of the number of illegal immigrants—those detained in 1975 were only 188—whereas on the other hand it is said that the police tell other people that they suspect there are far more than that.

I was listening to Questions in another place this afternoon, and the right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary reminded us that the immigration services and the police work very closely together. If they do, why do they not tell the same story about this—or do they tell the same story and is it all again merely a matter of rumour? Is it something in the order of a few hundreds, or is it a thousand or two thousand, as the rumour would have it? Can the noble Lord tell us anything about that?

Can he tell us anything about the Chapman Pincher article to which the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, referred? Again, if there is a whisper of truth in that, it is a scandal, because it means that nobody is paying attention to the rules that have been approved by Parliament. It may not have been easy to get the approval of Parliament. I remember the battles that I had in this House with the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, among others, but nevertheless in the end Parliament approved them and they must he adhered to. That is the rule of law. Can the noble Lord tell us whether there is anything in that report on the front page of last Saturday's Daily Express? Can the noble Lord tell us that the Government and the immigration services really are dealing with overstayers, with the bogus students, with the eternal student? What about second wives? Are they being allowed in and, if so, how many?

Let us get down to the facts. I know that net figures are extremely difficult; the Government have been advised by Sir Claus Moser that it is extremely difficult and expensive to produce accurate net figures. But these are not the figures I am asking for. I am asking for a dispelling of these rumours about which I strongly suspect the Government do know, and upon which they can give us some sort of assurance.

My Lords, that is all I want to say on this, because I believe that if we know the sort of number of people who are likely to come under the present legislation and under the present policies, we will be able to tailor our resources to meet them, to welcome them, and to get them fitted into the country to which they have chosen to come. It will not be easy at the moment if resources are needed. Goodness knows!—public spending at Government and local government level is certainly not going to rise. It will have to be carefully planned if we are to make proper provision for them. That makes it all the more important that we should know how many people there are to come. But, above all, fear and rumour will remove themselves from this whole explosive situation if only we can get more and more of the truth brought out about what it is we have to face, how many are going to come here. Then, I hope with good will, we shall set about welcoming these people into our midst.

9.21 p.m.


My Lords, this has been a most interesting debate and has contained a number of speeches of considerable quality, not least the one just made by the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, and earlier by my noble friend Lord Pitt of Hampstead, who made a most important contribution in this debate. If I may begin with one slight quarrel with the noble Viscount, it is that I think his speech gained in quality because it was largely devoid of statistics. But, rather unfairly, he then asked me to give a very large number of statistics, so I start off at a substantial disadvantage.

Certainly, the Government welcome the opportunity which the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, has offered us today, for debating immigration policy. I particularly welcome the fact that the terms of his Question recognise that immigration policy is closely bound up with good community relations; and further, that these are dependent not simply on people's attitudes and feelings, crucial as these are, but on concrete, objective conditions of houses, of schools and of jobs. This has rightly directed our attention in the course of the debate not just to the widespread concern felt by many people, due in part, undoubtedly, to ignorant and irresponsible misrepresentation of the facts about the level of immigration, but to the constructive measures. We are right to debate serious proposals aimed at securing and improving, through our immigration policy or through any other means, good race relations, justice and equality for all in this country.

My Lords, before coming on to some of the specific matters raised this afternoon, I should like to state two things as clearly as I possibly can. First, as my right honourable friend the Prime Minister and my right honourable friend the Home Secretary have emphasised on several occasions in recent days, the Government are determined, in the interests of all of us—and because it is right—to do everything possible to ensure equality of treatment for all members of our society, regardless of race or colour. We are wholly committed to this policy. The Race Relations Bill now before another place is an indication of the seriousness of our purpose.

Secondly, as my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has made clear, we intend to stand by the basic immigration commitments, honoured by Governments of both main Parties, to the immediate families of those who have already been accepted for settlement, and to those United Kingdom passport holders in East African countries who have citizenship of no other country and who have found themselves under severe, sometimes intolerable, pressure from the situation in those countries.

The noble Lord, Lord Gridley, in dealing with this point—and it is always a dangerous thing to do—asked a rhetorical question: Where in a situation of this sort does morality lie? I am bound to say I have no doubt about the answer to that question. I can remember only a few years ago the late lain Macleod saying in the most explicit terms that he had given his word and he meant to stick to it. That is the position so far as Her Majesty's Government are concerned. I think it would do lasting damage to the reputation of this country if, having given the offer of British citizenship in those independence Acts, we were now to attempt to renege on a commitment entered into knowingly by the Government at that time.

But at the same time, as the noble Lord's Question suggests, there is clearly a strict limit to the amount of immigration which a country such as ours can sustain. This limitation is fully accepted, not only by the Government but I think also by many of the responsible leaders of the immigrant communities now settled here. I can assure the noble Lord that it is also accepted by many Commonwealth, and indeed many other countries from which immigration to the United Kingdom has taken place. But this is where I must emphasise my clear difference with the noble Lord, and indeed with the noble Baroness, Lady Hornsby-Smith, who made the same point. When the noble Lord asks whether Her Majesty's Government will make urgent representations to Governments of New Commonwealth countries that we are no longer able to accept their citizens as immigrants, what reply does he expect we should receive ? It would, I hope, be courteous, and possibly sympathetic, but what it would amount to would be this, " Do not tell us. You must tell the men and women from our country who have already lawfully settled in Britain under your law that they cannot, after all, bring their husbands, or wives or their children to join them." We cannot shuffle this problem off on to the shoulders of other countries.

As, of course, the House is aware, and indeed the noble Viscount has referred to this, there are a substantial number of contacts between Her Majesty's Government and Ministers and officials of many Commonwealth Governments. Overseas Governments, as I have indicated, fully accept that strict limits to immigration must be set, and we certainly are under no pressure to allow in new categories. But our commitment to the main category that we have to admit, the dependants, is not something that we can somehow wriggle out of in negotiations with other Governments. It is a pledge to people and not to Governments, a pledge that their immediate families can join them.


My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord who is replying. I think he is interpreting what I said rather widely. I am not wishing in any way to interfere with those dependants who may have the right to come here at the moment. What I do feel, and what I was trying to convey in my speech, was that I think we could talk to leaders of the Commonwealth about any future additional immigration. That is what I was thinking of, not the people who are here at the moment.


My Lords, I will come to that point in a moment. If we and the noble Lord are talking about new immigration of heads of households, frankly, that is at such a limited level at the moment that it really is not one of the major problems facing us in terms of immigration policy in this country. May I begin this point again. We accept, as I have said, two kinds of limitation on immigration: a limit on the categories who may come, and a need to control the rate at which they come.

Now I am afraid I come to the statistics. I can only blame the noble Viscount and others for having asked questions of this sort. In 1975, out of about 40,000 people who were admitted to the United Kingdom for settlement, something under 35,000 came from the New Commonwealth and from Pakistan. That was more than in 1974 or 1973 when the equivalent number was about 25,000. Of the 35,000, 10,000 were the wives or husbands already lawfully married of men and women already settled in this country. The great majority were wives. Another 21,000 were dependent members of the immediate families, mainly the children of men and women already settled here. The remainder, something under 4,000, were holders of special vouchers under the scheme for United Kingdom passport holders. All those from East Africa who are entitled and desire to enter the United Kingdom will have done so by 1978 or 1979.

Now let me deal directly with the question of dependants. Most of these will belong to people settled here before 1973. As such, the wives and children have a statutory right to come. For the rest, the immigration rules are framed to enable a family—but only the immediate family in our Western sense, not, as some would have it, the extended family of the Indian sub-continent—to be united here if the mother or father has settled. There have been suggestions that if dependants are the basic commitment, immigration of other categories of people should be stopped. I just do not believe that this proposition will stand up for a moment.

In 1975 something under 19,000 people from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan who were already lawfully in the United Kingdom on a temporary basis were accepted for settlement. The largest group, nearly 8,000, were people who came earlier and were already resident in this country when the Immigration Act 1971 came into operation in January 1973, and who have completed five years' residence. As Commonwealth citizens, they became immune from deportation after five years' residence, and only retrospective legislation could now remove their right to settle. I should be a little surprised if many in your Lordships' House would really recommend retrospective legislation of that character. After 1978 there will be few, if any, people left who could qualify, because the 1971 Act conferred no such immunity on anyone who became resident after January 1973.

So far I have dealt with nearly 8,000 out of a total of 19,000. Over 4,000 of the remainder were women who came here as fiancees of men already settled in Britain. Is it suggested that they should not be admitted ? We should be quite clear what is involved. What it means is saying to a man, born in this country perhaps, or certainly at any rate accepted as settled, " You may be entitled to live here yourself and marry whom you like, but if you marry a non-resident she cannot come here. If you want to live as man and wife you must emigrate again." I find it exceptionally hard to believe that many people would really argue that. The noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, talked about the situation of Australians and New Zealanders. Are we to say to a man who marries an American or Australian wife that he should be put in that position ? Frankly, the situation in my view is that such a proposition would be intolerable to Parliament and that there would not be the slightest prospect of a Government of any Party adopting a policy of that sort.

As to the rest of the 19,000, the Immigration Rules now permit men as well as women to come here temporarily to marry a specified person already settled here. If the marriage goes through, then the position is made permanent; some 3,600 men were given permission to settle in 1975 on marriage. The remainder of the 19,000, some 3,000, include in the main dependants of people already here and accepted for settlement after entry. I recognise that that is a heavy dose of statistics, but there has been so much misinformation put about by some who are anxious to heighten anxiety and tension, that I thought that clarification was needed.

What, then, of the future? There has been a substantial amount of discussion, much of it, I fear, rather muddled, about the so-called pool of dependants and whether it is finite or infinite. The facts are these: first, no one who came to this country, be it as a visitor, a student or whatever, after January 1973 can any longer acquire a right to settle simply by five years' residence. So in one and a half years from now, that already closing door will in effect shut. We could not shut it sooner, even if it were right, without taking away or cutting off a statutory immunity from deportation. Secondly, the flow of remaining United Kingdom passport holders from East Africa who came in with their dependants at a rate controlled by the special voucher scheme—with an annual ceiling of 5,000 vouchers, as the noble Baroness, Lady Vickers, pointed out—will have dried up, as I have indicated, by 1978 or 1979. That will, to over-simplify only slightly, leave the door of settlement open only to the husbands and wives, children and elderly dependant parents of people already settled. In addition, Commonwealth citizens who are permitted to come temporarily to work, like any foreign national, may be allowed to settle after spending four years in approved employment, and it is only right to say that there were only a handful of such people last year—fewer than 200—and the criteria for getting a work permit in the present situation are obviously tight and will be kept under close scrutiny.

We come back to the basic commitment—to husbands, wives and children of people already settled here. There is, I know, a great deal of misunderstanding about this, and people ask, " Why don't we know precisely how many of these people there are "? The simple answer is that it depends, first, on how many of those who can come here in this way will actually want to do so and, secondly, on the habits of marriage and parenthood of people now settled here; to the extent that they cease to look abroad for wives and husbands and have their children here rather than in, say, India, the number will diminish. One thing we must understand clearly; entitlement is strictly limited. I will attempt no estimate because that would, by its very nature, be highly speculative, but as my right honourable friend the Home Secretary said on 24th May in another place, the truth is that the pool of entitled people is being steadily drained as they take up their entitlement, and the replenishment of it by marriage, birth and circumstances is much less.

The noble Viscount and my noble friend Lord Pitt of Hampstead both mentioned the question of the register. As I am sure is known to some, this is not a new idea. We have in fact had a register in the past; one was set up in 1965, but after a year's experience it was found not to justify itself in terms of assisting immigration control. My right honourable friend announced in August 1966 that it was to be discontinued. The idea has, however, arisen once again in discussion in recent weeks, and we shall certainly consider it. It would be wrong to rule it out altogether but, as I said, it was used in the past and at that time was not felt to be an answer to the problem.

I should like to come now to the position of the people who are entitled to come here. We have certainly read a great deal in recent weeks about attempts to get into this country illegally. The noble Viscount raised this point, quite properly, in my view. It has been suggested that there is widespread evasion, fraud and abuse of the rules. It is right to recognise that there is immense pressure in certain desperately poor countries for people to get into this country. It is foolish to ignore the fact that there is therefore a real problem. As the noble Viscount said, we certainly enjoy harmonious relations with the Governments and the diplomatic missions of those countries and, like him, I very much welcome the fact that the Pakistan Minister with special responsibility for his countrymen abroad is about to visit us to discuss the whole range of problems which we have been discussing here today, not least this one.

That brings me to the Daily Express, a question about which was raised by the noble Viscount. The Daily Express published an article on Saturday last. It occupied a very substantial portion of its front page. The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, was the first to raise this this afternoon. The article was couched in fairly dramatic terms. For those who do not read the Daily Express on a Saturday, I should like to repeat what it said:

Immigration Officers appalled at being ordered to case entry have given Mr. Enoch Powell confidential information to act on. He is to table questions about allegations by the officers that the Home Office is overriding the wishes of Parliament. It is claimed that coloured people are now arriving in such numbers that defences against illegal entry are saturated. Here comes an interesting sentence:

So a circular has been issued instructing that immigrants will not be rejected even if they have bogus papers ". That is a serious charge. I am sure that the Daily Express went to very considerable lengths to check the accuracy of that statement before making it. Of course I must tell the House that there is not a vestige of truth in it. No such instruction has been given that immigrants should not be rejected if they have bogus papers. of course it has not. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has already spoken in another place and answered a Question this afternoon making that absolutely clear. With the fair-mindedness which we associate with the editorial policy of the Daily Express, I am quite sure that the paper will be anxious tomorrow morning to give as much publicity to the denial as it did to the initial report.


My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord would take us one stage further. It is presumably only too easy to check. If the circulars are available in any event, for instance, in the Library of another place or the Library here, we can see whether or not there is such a circular, unless there are secret ones.


My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Viscount for raising that point. As he knows, the Rules are already available but neither the last Government nor the present one feel it appropriate to publish these detailed instructions. There are good reasons for that. They could provide a great deal of information to some of those involved in the practices that we have been discussing. It is for that reason that they are not available. I repeat, however, that I very much hope that the Daily Express will correct this and give the correction substantial publicity tomorrow morning.


My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves the question of the Daily Express, I should like to say that surely he is not suggesting that a mere retraction in tomorrow morning's paper would be an adequate remedy for the enormous damage that this article has done and which, as I have said, is calculated to inflame the racial tensions which already exist in this country ? Does the noble Lord not think that this is a matter of which the Press Council should take notice?


My Lords, that is a matter on which any noble Lord can take action if he thinks it appropriate. I would not wish to say anything about that this evening. I felt it my duty, in replying to the question raised by the noble Lord and the noble Viscount, to answer this point, so far as the Home Office is concerned. So far as the Press Council is concerned, if anyone wishes to make a complaint he is of course at liberty to do so.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hornsby-Smith, raised the question about the penalties for organisers of illegal immigration. This is an extremely serious problem, and it is recognised as such. There is a maximum term of imprisonment of seven years, which indicates the seriousness with which Parliament regarded this matter when the 1971 Immigration Act was put through. Certainly there is substantial indication that the Judiciary is tending to impose the higher range of penalties in dealing with some of the people who are involved in this particularly squalid practice.

Having said what I have, I think it is right to distinguish the problem of the illegal entrant from the case of the visitor or student who simply overstays his time here. Illegal entry is, by definition, immeasurable—which is to some extent, I am afraid, the answer to the noble Viscount who put this point to me earlier. But considerable resources go into its prevention and detection here in Britain by the immigration service and the police, who also work in close co-operation with the authorities in neighbouring European countries. In 1975, 86 Commonwealth citizens were detained for illegal entry and most of them were then removed. The number of foreign nationals, incidentally, was rather higher, at 100. It may be said that if only 86 have been caught that shows how many get away with it. That is not an assertion which it is possible to meet. But let us look instead at the amnesty figures. In April 1974 the Government said that anyone who had entered illegally before January 1973 could have his position regularised as a concession, provided that he applied.

This deals with the point which the noble Baroness raised. She spoke, rightly in my view, about the potential for blackmail in a situation of that kind. I agree with her that it is very real. So one would have assumed from that that a substantial number of people who were under the threat of blackmail would have applied immediately under the amnesty, and indeed it may well be that the overwhelming majority did so. But the figures demonstrate that in the two years since my right honourable friend made that announcement fewer than 2,000 people in all have come forward, and fewer than 1,400 have qualified as having entered Britain illegally in all the years up to 1973. Fears on this evidence of tens of thousands of illegal entrants really seem to be considerably exaggerated. Overstaying is of course a more substantial problem in scale


My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord again, but this is an important point. If it is being said by responsible Members in another place that they are getting quite different figures from the police sources, then we really ought to know—I appreciate that the noble Lord cannot answer this tonight—whether that very sensible and well-based estimate is really right and is accepted by the police; or whether there is another story, one which is giving rise to rumours of a very much larger number of people. I hope that sooner or later the Government will deal with this.


Certainly, my Lords. I think it is important to be as forthcoming in this matter as possible; I quite agree with the noble Viscount. It is by its nature rather difficult to get even policemen to agree on a single estimate. I have spent some time discussing this matter—because, of course, as the House is aware, one of my principal responsibilities is dealing with the police—with chief constables, particularly in the South-East of England, but elsewhere, too, about what they believe to be the scale of illegal immigration. But I take note of the noble Viscount's point, and we will do all we can to make available as much information as possible; but, I repeat, it is inevitably exceedingly difficult so to do.

As I was about to say, overstaying is a more substantial problem in scale. The Government have repeatedly said that overstayers will be firmly dealt with, and sent away in appropriate cases. That, indeed, is what happens; and the same goes for those who seek to abuse the rules—for example, by contracting hollow marriages of convenience simply to get settlement and then rapidly divorcing, or simply splitting up. The Government know perfectly well that there are rackets—of course there are—that there are attempts at fraud and evasion, and that there is abuse. That is why the intelligence functions of the immigration service have been greatly developed, as well as cooperation with police and, as I have indicated already, authorities abroad as well as in this country. It is of great importance to deal firmly with these things, and certainly we do not shrink from doing so. It is not so much the absolute numbers as the threat to public confidence which they pose which is potentially so damaging to good race relations; and this, if I may say so, is a point where I frankly dissent from what the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, said, and what my noble friend Lord Pitt said. I take the view that strict limitation of numbers is essential if we are going to have a climate of good civilised race relations in this country.

I turn now very briefly to the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh. I intended at the beginning to follow the noble Viscount in speaking with moderation and restraint, but I find it particularly difficult to do so when dealing with a speech as to which I think I disagreed with almost every statement that was made. I am not sure that we still have the noble Lord with us, and in that case my remarks about his speech will be even shorter. I am bound to say that I deeply deplore phrases like " race relations racketeers " when one is talking about a large number of people, many of them most disinterested people, who are doing most important work to ensure civilised race relations in this country. It does no service to tolerant race relations, nor to the reputation of this House, when statements of that sort are made. I am also bound to say that I do not regard the phrase do-gooders " as one of the more objectionable in the English language, as the noble Lord apparently does. Presumably he would apply that term to the right honourable gentleman the Member for Worcester; presumably he would apply that term to the noble Lord, Lord Carr; and inevitably he would apply it to a number of people on the Government Front Bench. I just do not believe that extravagant language of that sort is in any way appropriate.

My Lords, I would not for a moment suggest that post-war immigration has not caused this country significant problems; of course it has. Just as important, it would be even more foolish to fail to recognise the major contribution made by the immigrant communities to this country—and for a period of many centuries, indeed: from the Huguenot refugees, who came in several centuries ago; to the Jews who fled from the Nazi tyranny in the 1930s; to the Hungarians who came over in 1956; to the West Indian nurses, recruited in such numbers, indeed, when I believe Mr. Enoch Powell was the Minister of Health; to the Indian doctors referred to by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester; and to many others. Of course some immigrants become involved in crime. So, I regret to say, does a very large number—all too large a number—of the indigenous population.

But it is dangerous folly to exaggerate the extent of this problem; and if I may say so, just giving one example—because the problems of West Indian teenagers in certain parts of South London are constantly referred to—what is clear is that in so far as one can make any judgment in this matter (and it is not one based on a great deal of statistical data but it is one shared by a large number of chief officers of police) the Asian community in this country is one of the most law-abiding in these Islands. That is the view not of race relations experts but of a very large number of senior police officers in all parts of the country. This brings me to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, when referring to recent cases—the two cases in which there have been deaths. One at least is sub judice. I cannot recall whether the other is also sub judice, but the noble Lord will forgive me if I do not comment on either case, for it would be inappropriate.

My Lords, I think it does no good to pretend that all recent incidents necessarily have racial significance. There is great danger in making assumptions of that sort. They can have profound consequences if built up as racially-related incidents, but it would be wrong to believe that some of these incidents which have received great publicity have necessarily had racial significance. There is clearly a handful of people—and I believe that it is only a handful—who have an interest in stirring up racial hostility; and some of these might be content if this escalated into violence. Their weapons are fear and ignorance. I think that everyone who values the reputation of this country and who regards it, as I do, as one of the most civilised and tolerant countries in the world, has a common interest in ensuring that these people are defeated.

My Lords, it is absolutely right, of course, that the Government should be made to defend their immigration policy; it is right that there should be a debate, for it is a major question of considerable public importance. But let it be conducted with moderation and restraint. Wild and exaggerated charges of the kind we have seen in the last few weeks do a real disservice to all the people of this country. The British are not an intolerant people and I do not believe that they will ever accept a cause based on intolerance.