HL Deb 14 November 1979 vol 402 cc1247-9

2.52 p.m.


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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will assure the House that they will not create two classes of citizenship for British women by allowing British women born in Britain to live with their non-EEC spouses whilst insisting that those British women who happen by chance to be born overseas must live abroad if they marry a non-EEC man.


My Lords, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has today published a White Paper on our proposals for revision of the Immigration Rules, and I shall be repeating his Statement to your Lordships later this afternoon. Under these proposals a husband or fiancé will not be allowed to settle in the United Kingdom if the primary purpose of the marriage is to obtain admission to this country or if one of the parties does not intend that the couple should live together permanently as man and wife or if the parties have not met. In other cases the man will have no claim to settle here but may be allowed to do so if the woman is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by birth in the United Kingdom.

We have not, however, overlooked the fact that girls will have been born abroad because their parents happened to be out of the country (for example, on Crown service or on business) at the time of their birth. It is my right honourable friend's intention to consider such cases sympathetically outside the rules.


My Lords, may I ask by what authority the Home Secretary can consider cases outside the rules and, if he can, what is the purpose of having rules?


My Lords, for precisely the reason to which I admit I have only alluded at the end of my reply to the noble Lord, Lord Avebury—because it may be that girls may have been born outside the United Kingdom but in circumstances in which I think any fair-minded person would feel that such girls would fall within the rules as they are being made. I have mentioned that parents might have had to be abroad on Crown service or on business, and it also occurs to me that they might have been abroad as missionaries or in certain other guises. It is such cases that my right honourable friend would be looking at sympathetically.


My Lords, if I understood the noble Lord correctly, he is repeating a Statement made by his right honourable friend the Home Secretary, at a convenient time after 3.30. Might it therefore be for the convenience of the House if we dealt with these matters comprehensively in the course of dealing with that Statement later on?


I would have thought so, my Lords.

The Earl of SELKIRK

My Lords, do I understand the noble Lord correctly, that anyone who goes through a form of legal marriage without the slightest intention of pursuing it will in future not receive a passport?


Yes, my Lords. We are, of course, talking in the context of marriage to girls who are not born in the United Kingdom; otherwise what the noble Earl has said is correct.

The Lord Bishop of SOUTHWARK

My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord if he would give an undertaking that in the Government's forthcoming changes in Immigration Rules and nationality law no provision will be made regarding British subjects born overseas which in fact amounts to a distinction between white women and those who are coloured?


My Lords, when your Lordships will allow me to make the Statement, I think the right reverend Prelate will find that in that way the new rules are not racially discriminatory. Girls of any race, colour or creed born in this country will, under the rules which my right honourable friend is putting to the House in the form of a White Paper, have the same rights.

The LORD PRESIDENT of the COUNCIL (Lord Soames)

My Lords, I venture to suggest that, in view of the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, with which I think we all agree, perhaps further questions should wait until the Statement is made.