§ 2.54 p.m.
§ Lord BARNBY
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper, and with your Lordships' indulgence, to add that it was of course put down before the publication last week of the figures for the first quarter of the year.
§ The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people, during the last quarter for which figures are available, were admitted for residence in the United Kingdom and what proportion were non-white; how many people were apprehended for overstaying (students, et cetera) and how many for illegal entry, and of such figures how many in each category were expelled.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE, HOME OFFICE (Lord Belstead)
My Lords, statistics of people admitted for settlement are compiled by nationality, not by colour or ethnic origin. Figures for the quarter ending 31st March 1980, including illegal entrants, are contained in the Home Office Statistical Bulletin published on 4th June, a copy of which is in the Library.
During the quarter the total number accepted for settlement on arrival was 7,900 of whom 4,350 (55 per cent.) were 11 citizens of new Commonwealth countries and Pakistan; 486 illegal entrants were detected by the Immigration Service; and 227 illegal entrants were removed from the country.
Comprehensive figures relating to overstayers are not available, since some are dealt with by the Home Office and others independently by the police. During the quarter, however, 655 overstayers were recorded as having been traced as a result of inquiries involving the overstayers tracing section of the Home Office.
Records of deportation orders do not distinguish between those made in respect of overstayers and others. During the quarter 210 deportation orders were enforced, a substantial number of which would have related to overstayers.
§ Lord BARNBY
My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. May I ask whether, allowing for the understatement of the overstayers and the illegal entrants, it would appear from the figures that he has quoted that the total inflow has apparently been at the rate of nearly 90,000 per annum? Is the Minister aware that in terms of immigration this figure is very distasteful to a very large part of the community, and is not in accord with the intentions of the Government announced earlier in the year? Will the Minister ask his right honourable friend whether he will consider a review of the question of provision of larger funds for voluntary repatriation, particularly in view of both the present state of unemployment and the incidents at Bristol?
§ Lord BELSTEAD
My Lords, with regard to the figure which my noble friend gave in the first part of the supplementary question, the figure last year for settlement in this country was in the order of 70,000. With regard to the overall Government view of this general figure, for which my noble friend asked, of course the Government take a very serious view of those who attempt to circumvent the immigration control and who come here not lawfully; in other words, who do not fall within the figure given.
I should like to say to my noble friend that except where in individual cases there are powerful arguments against 12 such action, we do not hesitate to make full use of the considerable powers available to remove offenders from this country. With regard to the third part of my noble friend's supplementary question, the answer is, No.
§ Lord AVEBURY
My Lords, does not the Minister agree that we should bear in mind not only the figures for the number of people coming here for settlement, but also the figures for the number of people leaving this country for settlement overseas? Will he take every opportunity to emphasise that ever since the figures were first recorded the number of people leaving this country each year has exceeded the number of those arriving?
With regard to the figures that the noble Lord has given, extracted from the quarterly statistics of overstayers and illegal entrants, does not this quite tiny number of persons who were found guilty of overstaying or illegal entry indicate that very few people are either entering or remaining in this country in breach of the immigration laws? Will the noble Lord and his right honourable friend the Home Secretary lose no opportunity of dispelling the myths that surround this matter and which unfortunately are being given currency in this House?
§ Lord BELSTEAD
My Lords, the Question asked by my noble friend Lord Barnby is about the number of people coming into this country, not the number of people going out, and both my noble friend and I have confined our questions and our answers to that aspect of the case. If the noble Lord wishes to ask me about other aspects of the case, then if he cares to put down a Question I shall of course be at his service to answer it. So far as overstayers are concerned, perhaps it would be to the convenience of the House if I said this. During the whole of last year there were about 1,800 overstayers recorded, over 500 during the final quarter. I understand that the increase in the first quarter of this year—because that is what the figures show—was due in part to the improved methods of detection, and was also due to the fact that it was only during the course of the last year that the overstayers' section of the Home Office became fully established. Before that, the numbers detected would not have been recorded in such a systematic way. I 13 thought the noble Lord might like that information in reply to the last part of his question.
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, will the noble Lord the Minister take this opportunity to disassociate his Government from the categorisation of people in this country, whether they be immigrants or any others, into white and non-white? If he does so, I am certain he will have the support of all parties on this side. In doing so, will he make it plain to his noble friend behind him that we in this country find it offensive to differentiate people according to the colour of their skin?
§ Lord AVEBURY
My Lords, does the noble Lord not agree, in relation to the figures which he gave of the number of overstayers, that the vast majority of these people are people who have no intention of settling permanently in the United Kingdom, but are, for example, students who have omitted to renew their leave to remain in the United Kingdom while they are continuing to pursue a course of studies, and that this is no reason to assume, just because they have not complied exactly with the Home Office formalities, that they will ultimately seek to remain here permanently?
§ Lord BARNBY
My Lords, does my noble friend not agree that dilution of the British race by too large an inflow of non-whites is not in accordance with the feeling of the majority of British subjects in this country?
§ Lord BELSTEAD
My Lords, the figures which Governments collect—and this Government are no exception to this —refer to settlements on arrival here, acceptances on arrival of citizens from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan, and settlements on removal of the time limit, as it is called. I think it is absolutely right that the figures should be collected in this way, but, beyond that, I repeat that the Answer which I gave originally speaks for itself.