§ 3.39 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Belstead)
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Belstead.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The LORD ABERDARE in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1 [Acquisition by birth or adoption]:
§ [Amendments Nos. 1Z and 1 not moved.]
§ Lord Aberdare
I call Amendment No. 2. I have to point out that if this amendment is agreed to, I cannot call Amendments Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 6.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 1, line 9, leave out from ("citizen") to end of line 12 and insert—("unless—
§ The right reverend Prelate said: The most reverend Primate—
§ Lord Drumalbyn
Would it be in order that we discuss Amendment No. 3? I do not know what the noble Lord, Lord Aylestone, thinks, but may we 591 discuss Amendments Nos. 3 and 5 along with this amendment?
§ Several noble Lords: No.
§ Lord Elwyn-Jones
With respect, I do not think that that would be convenient. I think that it would be confusing.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester
The most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, who spoke from these Benches during the Second Reading debate on the Bill, is unable to be here until later today because he and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Truro are detained at York for an important debate in the General Synod of the Church of England. As some noble Lords will recall, while conceding that at some point a new nationality Act would be desirable, the archbishop insisted that the basis of any such measure must be clearly seen to be equality of respect and regard if it was to give reassurance and confidence to all concerned. He laid great emphasis upon belonging being a basic human need, and it is because we believe that Clause 1 of the present Bill is causing real anxiety and fear among those who thought that they and their children belonged, and would continue to belong, to Britain, that we on these Benches have tabled these amendments.
The effect of the amendment to Clause 1 is straightforward. It is to restore the law to the state it is in at present, under which, with very few exceptions relating to accredited diplomats, every child born in this country acquires British citizenship. As noble Lords will be aware, this provision in the present law is of great antiquity. For at least seven centuries it has been a settled principle of the common law that any person born within the Sovereign's dominions becomes a subject at birth. A similar principle exists in many other jurisdictions.
The present law offers a clear and uncomplicated statement of the principal means by which most people have acquired citizenship by birth in the territory. It is not merely clear and straightforward; it is of great importance as a feature of social policy. For centuries this country has absorbed settlers and refugees, merchants and writers—people from every part of the world who have enriched our life by their labours and gifts. Whatever the initial difficulties which these successive groups of people may have encountered, the fact that their children were British subjects from birth, with a right of abode and other civic rights and responsibilities, did much to integrate them into our society.
Rights and obligations held in common, rather than ancestry, have thus been the basis of citizenship. This is a gain for society. I believe that it also offers benefits to the individual. Noble Lords will recall that St. Paul spoke with pride of his civic status. "I was born free", he said; and this sense of pride in one's own status as a citizen, whatever the complications of one's parents' status, can be only an asset for individuals living in the exceptionally diverse and mobile society which is ours today.
I have tried very hard to understand why the Government feel that there is so pressing a need to change the 592 citizenship by birth rule, as Clause 1 of the Bill does. Of course I recognise that there is a certain oddity in people who may be born here in transit, as it were, acquiring citizenship. But to me that seems to be an anomaly that is well worth putting up with in the interests of the substantial benefits which citizenship by birth confers, in particular on those who as children of recent arrivals desparately need all the assurance of a stable future that we are able to give them.
I must say that I find it hard to understand the concern at the possible creation overseas of a pool of British citizens by descent—the children of people who have acquired citizenship as a result of birth in the United Kingdom. Surely some such pool of people is already in existence. Has it hitherto been a matter of concern, would the foundations of the state really be imperilled, if individuals from this pool began to exercise their right to enter and to settle in this society?
What really concerns us on these Benches is the likely consequence of Clause 1 as it stands. As the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, so clearly spelt out in our earlier debate, the departure from the principle of jus soli will create many difficulties, both administrative and practical, and will create much uncertainty, too. It might prove difficult in the extreme for a person to establish to the satisfaction of the Home Office that he is a child of parents settled in this country. The mind boggles at the complications likely to arise where children who thought that they had rights of citizenship later discover that they are deprived of them because their parents who received a valid entry clearance subsequently have it challenged.
Noble Lords will remember the colourful examples of the Russian dancer and the Filipino domestic which the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, gave in the Second Reading debate. I am sure that many similar examples could be quoted, including those of unfortunate children born in Britain of parents who overstay their permit and are later deported.
I recognise that the Government responded to criticism of the clause in another place by introducing the provision which appears in subsection (4). I welcome in particular the fact that citizenship in the circumstances provided for in the subsection is an entitlement, and is not discretionary. Nevertheless, surely we should not underestimate the difficulties that a person is likely to encounter in establishing to the Home Secretary's satisfaction that he was not away from this country for more than 90 days in each of 10 years.
It is important to remember that the minority communities most likely to be affected by this provision have extensive family ties elsewhere in the world and many of them make regular visits with their children to their families. The occasion of applying for citizenship under the subsection might occur several years after the person in question became 10 years old, and in some cases perhaps after the death of both parents. How in such circumstances will such a person be able to collect the necessary documentary evidence? The subsection, indeed the clause as a whole, offers us I believe a bureaucratic nightmare.
Before I sit down I should like to mention that yesterday I received a telegram from the president of the Methodist Conference, which is meeting in Norwich, assuring me of the support of the conference for our 593 amendment. Noble Lords will know already that the Cardinal Hume and the other four Roman Catholic Archbishops have affirmed that this Bill is in direct conflict with six of the nine principles set forth by the Roman Catholic hierarchy to guide the framing of a new law. One of the principles stated that anyone born in Britian should thereby acquire British nationality, regardless of race or cultural background. This principle has always been fundamental to our nationality law and should be retained. When one adds to the views of the Roman Catholics those of the people called Methodists and those of the Assembly of the British Council of Churches, your Lordships will see that I have the support today of what one might call that enlarged ecumenical establishment which is now a feature of our national life—something which will find expression in the conduct of the Royal Wedding Service and on all such future national occasions.
On so complex and technical a Bill, I would have felt it presumptuous for me to intervene were I not compelled to do so by the corporate views of the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Free Church leaders of the United Kingdom—views which arise not from academic discussion but from the first-hand experience of clergy and ministers at work, day in day out, in local communities up and down the land. They do not misunderstand the Bill, as has been alleged. They are deeply disturbed by it as priests and pastors of their people. We seek reassurance for those who have turned to us. We see this as a constitutional and pastoral issue which we believe should transcend party politics. I hope we may have the support of members of all parties and of none in making this amendment, so that the law of England granting citizenship by birth may remain as it has been for seven centuries. I beg to move.
§ 3.52 p.m.
§ Lord Elwyn-Jones
Your Lordships may have been surprised that I did not move the first amendment, which is in my name, and your Lordships may have thought that I was struck by an unusual mood of reticence. But the reason for my decision (and, it may well be, the reason for the decision of the noble Lord, Lord Aylestone) was that certainly we on this side of the Committee thought it was right and fitting that the initial discussion of this crucial clause in the Bill should be in the hands of the Bench of Bishops, speaking, as they do, in a very ecumenical mood and situation on behalf of all the Christian Churches in this country.
They are perhaps a little more qualified than most of us, with their links with the clergy in the field, on the ground, close to the problems of uncertainty and anxiety that those who have come to us from Asia, Africa and the West Indies undoubtedly felt before this Bill and, alas! are feeling more now. The opinion that is coming to us—and some of us, also, have connections in or near the ground—is that real anxiety has been created by the Bill and, in particular, by the first clause of it; and that that should arise at this highly delicate stage in relations between different races and peoples in our island is, indeed, extremely unhappy.
The question has been asked: Why is it that suddenly, now, in 1981, a principle that for 700 years has governed 594 nationality in this country is being changed; in circumstances which it is very hard to explain are not on other than racial grounds? What is the reason for it? We have not been told. It is said—and I am grateful to the noble Lord who is to speak for the Government for the notes on clauses that he has supplied to us—that it is the fear about the existence of this pool of people that will, without this provision, flood the country. Who are in this pool? What is the nature of their characteristics that renders them a special liability to this country? What has been the state of the pool up until now? I am not aware that the existing principle and rules provided great problems for this country, namely, concerning children of the strangers who, later on, have left the country and want to come back in again and take advantage of having acquired citizenship through being born here. How many of the transient strangers' children have in the past taken advantage of the rule to our disadvantage? These are real practical questions to which we have had no answer.
What causes us concern is that whereas, as the right reverend Prelate (whose speech I am sure the whole House will have appreciated) has indicated, initially the Bill provided that citizenship would no longer be automatically acquired on every birth in the United Kingdom (full stop), there is now the concession—for what it is worth, of course; it is better than nothing—that is provided for in subsection (4) of Clause 1 of the Bill. One has only to read that—and I congratulate the right reverend Prelate for his analysis of the technical problems that arise from the terms of it—and one sees that the advantage can be taken only by a person born in the United Kingdom after commencement who is not a British citizen by virtue of subsection (1) or (2) if, on an application made at any time after he has attained the age of ten years to be registered as a citizen, he can show that as regards the first ten years of his life the number of days on which he was absent from the United Kingdom in any one year did not exceed 90; and, finally, that the Secretary of State is so satisfied. This is in my submission a recipe for uncertainty, for arbitrariness and, I fear, for very considerable anxiety by those who would seek to take advantage of its provisions.
The Commission for Racial Equality, which has special responsibilities in this field, has strongly urged that the abrogation of the existing rule will produce not only uncertainty but a deterioration in race relations, and we believe that the automatic right of every child born here to be a British subject is a powerful force for strength and cohesion in our society. The great majority of the incomers who have settled here identify themselves strongly with Britain. The Bill, we submit, would tend to weaken that growing sense of patriotism, because a serious doubt would be put upon the citizenship of their children. I submit that that would be a heavy price to pay for whatever benefit it is claimed the proposed change in this ancient law may bring about. We believe that the present principle has caused no substantial difficulties in practice, and that its simplicity and inclusiveness far outweigh its disadvantages. We beg the Government to think again about this matter, particularly at this most critical phase in the relations between the peoples living in this island.
§ 4.10 p.m.
§ Lord Avebury
I was delighted that the right reverend Prelate introduced this amendment and in doing so had, as he said, the backing not only of the Church of England but of all the Churches in the British Council of Churches, the Roman Catholic Church and, I believe, also of the Chief Rabbi, who has expressed opinions of a similar nature on this Bill. It shows, as the right reverend Prelate pointed out, that we are discussing an issue which goes well beyond the normal cut and thrust of party politics. The development of the case by the right reverend Prelate shows the untruth of the assertion made on several occasions by the Government that the criticisms of this Bill and of jus soli in particular indicate that the bishops and their counterparts in the other denominations have not properly understood the meaning of the Bill. The right reverend Prelate showed clearly that the Churches understand the Bill and that they do not like what they see in it.
Before coming to the substance of the amendment, may I say a word or two about the principle of jus soli? The idea of nationality developed from the allegiance which the subject owed to his sovereign. Bacon spoke of the famous case of Calvin about theallegiance of subjects to hereditary monarchs, which is corroborated and confirmed by law but is the work of the law of nature".Who was a subject? Coke said that there were three tests which had to be satisfied for a person to qualify. His parents must be in actual obedience to the king, his place of birth must be within the king's dominions and the timing of birth might also have to be considered where there was any change in sovereignty, as there was in the case of Calvin. What Coke means by "actual obedience" is that the person must be in the territory of which the king is in possession and not one over which he has claimed.
This doctrine of allegiance as the basis of nationality has been abandoned since the 1948 Act, but one element of it, the element that we are discussing, jus soli, has been carried over into the new legislation. Jus soli has been defined as the rule under which nationality is acquired by mere fact of birth within the territory of the State; and, by custom, the rule is extended to apply to infants abandoned within the territory and presumed to be born there. Again by custom, it does not apply to the children of foreign heads of state, ambassadors or diplomatic staff. Apart from these exceptions, the nationality of the parents has not been considered in the past as relevant and neither has the legitimacy of the child. Until 1922, English law was based almost entirely on jus soli, as it had been for centuries, and since then we have retained the principle intact. But we have gradually extended our law in the direction of jus sanguinis; that is, the principle of acquisition of nationality by descent.
Meanwhile, the notion of citizenship had been gaining importance. Originally, that is what it meant: membership of the city. But even as long ago as the time of Christ, when Saint Paul proudly boasted that he was a citizen of no mean city he meant Rome and not Tarsas, from which he hailed; so that, in that sense, citizenship meant a status in the law which conferred rights and obligations, and those had to be defined by law. In the Roman Empire, the privileges of citizenship 596 were extended to more and more people but there were always subjects of the emperor who were not of the city. Even after the time of the Emperor Cavacella, who extended citizenship to all free inhabitants of the Roman Empire, there were still the slaves who, while subjects of the emperor, were not citizens.
In modern times, the notions of nationality and citizenship had become almost co-extensive, but not quite. The case of Joyce versus the Director of Public Prosecutions showed that important distinctions might still exist. Joyce, "Lord Haw-Haw", who broadcast Nazi propaganda during the war, was born in the United States. He was the son of a nationalised American citizen who had emigrated there from County Mayo in Ireland and who, because Ireland was part of the United Kingdom then, was a British subject by birth. His father was the sole survivor of the Maamtrasna massacre of 17th August 1882. The father, Patrick Joyce, was only 12 at the time of the murders, was looked after in an orphanage in County Mayo and then emigrated to the US in 1890; and "Lord Haw-Haw" was born there in 1906. He lived in Ireland from 1909 to 1921 and then in England until 1939. While in England, in 1933, he obtained a British passport by virtue of his birth in County Galway and he renewed it in 1938. He was not born in County Galway but that was the basis on which he obtained the passport. He emigrated to Germany where he was employed in broadcasting Nazi propaganda during the war. Joyce was convicted of treason and was executed after the war. The Judicial Committee of your Lordships' House held that his allegiance continued because he had looked to the Crown for protection, as demonstrated by the act of seeking and obtaining a passport. He was deemed to be a subject although he was not a citizen,
There was another sense in which nationality departed radically from citizenship in the Commonwealth. In the 1948 Act, the terms "British subject" and "Commonwealth citizen" were almost interchangeable. I say "almost" because some people living in the Commonwealth did not acquire any citizenship. The largest number of those were the Indian Tamils in Sri Lanka who were, and still are, British subjects without citizenship. If you were a Commonwealth citizen, you were ipso facto a British subject but you could be a British subject without being a citizen of any country. That created some legal anomalies, in that many countries in the Commonwealth became republics on independence; and, although the Queen, as the head of the Commonwealth, was owed allegiance by the citizens of, for example, India under English law, by contrast, under Indian law, the concept of subject disappeared. The status of British subject nevertheless conferred some privileges on Commonwealth citizens here. This is a matter which we shall come on to later. They could vote, stand for public office, were eligible for jury service, et cetera.
At this point, I must look at the interaction between immigration and nationality law. The rights which I have mentioned could be exercised only by somebody who was physically present in the United Kingdom and, until 1962, anybody from the Commonwealth was free to come here as he pleased. Then we began to impose restrictions on the entry of citizens of other Commonwealth countries so that different classes of 597 British subject had different kinds of rights. Even persons who were citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies were no longer permitted to move freely within the territory of the state that they were supposed to belong to. Once they got here, they could enjoy all the privileges of a British subject but increasingly they were to be confined in practice to people with a close connection with the United Kingdom itself. The nature of this connection is defined in the Immigration Acts and it has always included birth in the United Kingdom.
In the Commonwealth, as countries obtained their independence, they adopted their own citizenship law and in general adopted the rule of jus soli. As the right reverend Prelate said, other countries have similar jurisdictions. If we look at Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the old Commonwealth, they all have it. India and Pakistan have jus soli. Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Gambia, Kenya, all have the jus soli rule pure and simple. So did Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados, and Guyana. Malaysia and Singapore had it. Guinea, Zambia, Lesotho and Botswana did. We are left with few exceptions: Sri Lanka, which had the additional requirement that a person's father had to have been born there; Sierra Leone and Malawi, which demanded that a person had to be of African parentage and Cyprus, where a person had to have a citizen father. In general, this rule of jus soli has been adopted throughout the Commonwealth.
I know it will be objected, as it was in the other place, that we should look to the European model rather than to the Commonwealth and that in Europe the jus sanguinis is the predominant rule. There is no reason why the United Kingdom should copy what is done elsewhere in Europe, particularly when what we are being asked to do is to abandon in favour of a system deriving from Roman law a principle of the common law which, as the right reverend Prelate mentioned, has been established for over seven centuries. It is worth noting that it is not only the common law countries which have jus soli. Just to mention a couple of examples from the beginning of the alphabet, for instance, Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria and Chile all have this rule of jus soli.
May I come to the merits of the argument. First and foremost, the Government's proposals are racially discriminatory within the meaning of Section 1 of the Race Relations Act 1976, in that the proportion of black people who will be able to comply with it is lower than the proportion of white people. This is a matter of fact; I am not expressing an opinion. Within the meaning of Section 1 of the Race Relations Act 1976, this is racially discriminatory. I know that the Race Relations Act does not apply to legislation of the kind that we are discussing. If it did, then what we are doing would be unlawful. Those who would be excluded from citizenship by the Bill, and who would otherwise have enjoyed it, will obviously be mostly other than of European ethnic origin, and I think that objection to Clause 1 as it stands is absolutely fundamental.
Secondly, because everybody knows that this provision is directed against black people, even though the number of them who are going to be affected may be quite insignificant, doubt is cast over the status of every black person whose citizenship might be unquestionable 598 if he could establish it. Perhaps "unquestionable" is the wrong word because his citizenship will be questioned. Every parent who believes that his child has a claim to citizenship—to use the words of the Minister in another place in Committee—would have to write to the Home Office (and I quote from col. 44 of the Committee stage) and seek a letter which sets out the child's status. Is that really what the Government are suggesting? If they cannot provide letters making the status of refugees clear—and as a member of the Standing Conference on Refugees I have been involved in discussions over a considerable period aimed at trying to persuade the Home Office to issue these letters to refugees indicating their status so that when they go to apply for jobs or to seek social security benefits or obtain treatment tinder the National Health Service there is not a long argument about whether they are entitled or not.
At the end of the day the Home Office grudgingly agreed that they would issue these letters in respect of people declared refugees for the first time but that they would not possibly be able to undertake the issuing of letters to people who had already been declared as refugees in the past. If they cannot even do that, how are they going to be able to respond to the requests which are going to arrive for clarification of the status of children under this Bill? How are they going to get money to provide the additional staff for that purpose? Is there any money provided in the Financial and Explanatory Memorandum for this work?
Looking at it from the parent's point of view, he is going to have to go to the trouble of writing this letter providing what the Minister calls the necessary evidence to support his claim. The Minister does not specify what kind of evidence that has to be. Clearly, it would not be enough to show that the parents were within the permitted leave to remain at the time of birth. Otherwise, what happens in the case of a parent who entered with a work permit, had a child, wrote the letter and obtained citizenship for the child and was then found to be an illegal entrant on the basis of references which were incorrect in some minor particular? Is the child's citizenship then to be revoked as the parent's leave to enter would be in those circumstances?
In the case of the child who reaches the age of 10 years the parents will have to provide proof of residence throughout the whole of that period. The Minister in another place suggested that they could do this on the basis of statements from schools, doctors and other reliable witnesses. If the parents believe that the Home Secretary is withholding recognition of citizenship of the child unreasonably then Mr. Raison says that they can pursue their grievance in the courts. Yet in the next breath (at col. 46 of the Committee stage) he says:We are certainly not trying to add great layers of complication and bureaucracy to what is being done".The parents have to trundle round to their doctors, to the teachers, and to "other reliable witnesses", as they are called—numerous magistrates, police officers, deputy secretaries from the Home Office who live in places like Oswald Road in Southall or Brick Lane in the East End, and who have taken one presumes, a close interest in the child throughout the whole of its first 11 years of existence, so close that they can say of 599 their own knowledge that the child has never been outside of the United Kingdom for the whole of these 11 years for more than 90 days in any one year. Then the parent has to send this mass documentation to Lunar House.
I should pause here and say that I do not think that doctors are going to be very pleased to have parents coming round to their surgeries asking for affidavits on behalf of little Mohammed Khan or Balbir Kaur to say:this child has been a patient on my list throughout the whole of the first 11 years of its life and I know of my own knowledge that he or she has not been outside the United Kingdom for any period of more than 90 days in a single year of its life".Nor do I think that the teachers are going to be able to provide such affidavits. As I remember it from the days when I had children at school, the summer holidays are longer than 90 days and so the teachers could not make a statement of that kind from their own experience.
Let us assume that the parents have persuaded all these busy people to write out statements. There may be more than one set of them because during the first 11 years of the child's existence the parents may have moved house once or more. Lunar House gets all these papers, and knowing the way that they operate at the Home Office, months go by without any sign of life. The parents then write and ask when they may expect a decision and probably as these work in the Home Office they get a printed acknowledgment from Lunar House saying that they are not to write any more letters and that if they do so it will gum up the machinery and make the processing of the application even more long-winded.
Now, suppose that the parents are fortunate enough to live in a constituency like Rochdale where my honourable friend Mr. Cyril Smith is noted for the hard work that he does on behalf of constituents. The parents go round to Mr. Smith's "surgery"—his advice bureau—and they complain that it is three months since they have heard a peep out of Lunar House. My honourable friend then writes immediately to the Minister sending him copies of all the documents and inquiring why there has been such a delay. The Minister, by the way, is already trying to cope with 1,200 letters a month, as he said in another place, and he cannot afford to give each of the letters he gets at the moment more than three minutes' attention each.
He sends all the correspondence to Lunar House where somebody has to marry it up with the application already made by the parents. They have to examine both files. Let us suppose that in due course the officials reach the conclusion that the child has not satisfied the conditions, and so they write to the parents accordingly. The Minister also writes to my honourable friend notifying him of the decision. Again, knowing the way that these things work in the Home Office, the Minister's letter gets to my honourable friend the day after the parents have received the notification from Lunar House. They have been on the telephone to him in his office in another place and he is in the embarrassing position of having this anguished telephone call from the parents before he knows what is in the Minister's letter. But the following 600 morning the Minister's letter will land on his desk and the final paragraph will read something like this:I have given this case the most careful consideration in the light of the representations but I am afraid I can see no reason to reverse the decision".Let us suppose that my honourable friend thinks the Minister is wrong. He makes an appointment to see the Minister, as honourable Members have the privilege of doing, accompanied by the parents. The Minister is flanked by his private secretary and two officials from Lunar House. He sees Mr. Cyril Smith and the parents for three-quarters of an hour. At the end of that time he reaffirms his refusal.
The parents then, advised by my honourable friend—and remembering what the Minister said about judicial review in Standing Committee—apply for legal aid and pursue their case in the Divisional Court. After detailed examination of their means and of the merits of the case, legal aid is granted. Several thousand man-hours of the time of expensive professionals are taken up with the proceedings, whatever the result may be. Layers of complication and bureaucracy? This clause is a mille-feuille of complication and bureaucracy.
Now let me touch very briefly on the Government's arguments, as they were set out in the White Paper and reiterated in Standing Committee in another place. The Government are concerned, they say, not merely with the woman who is in the country for a short stay, and who gives birth unexpectedly early, but with people here for longer periods on conditions, such as students, and with illegal entrants and overstayers. I think we can dispose fairly rapidly of what I might call the "Waterloo Station" case. Airlines will not carry a woman who is more than seven months pregnant, so very few of these are likely to arrive. I think the Minister himself has conceded that what we are really looking at is the case of people who are here for longer periods on conditions, or overstayers or illegal entrants.
As to the students, they have to return to their country of origin at the end of their courses of study, and since they will take with them any children who may have been born here, the children will, almost invariably, assume their parents' citizenship. There may be a few countries where dual nationality is allowed, and where a child could theoretically retain his United Kingdom citizenship—or British citizenship, as it will be called—into adult life, even though he has no practical links with Britain. But the same could be said of the large numbers of other countries which have jus soli and which accept large numbers of overseas students, such as Canada and the United States.
Both Canada and the United States accept proportionately more overseas students than we do, but they do not seem to find any problem about children of overseas students going back with their parents at the end of their university courses, and then, after 18 or 19 years, wanting to re-enter Canada or the United States as adults. If the policies of the present Government are continued for very much longer, not only will the flow of overseas students dry up, but the higher education system will be so severely mutilated that it will be extremely difficult for a future Liberal and Social Democratic Administration to nurse it back to the point where numbers can be restored.
601 With regard to the children of alleged illegal entrants, I am extremely unhappy about the Government's policy. I gave the example on Second Reading of the Filipino woman—I shall just repeat it very briefly—who enters this country with a work permit in, say, 1975 and in 1982, after this Bill has come into force, has a child. Then, in 1990, somebody with a grievance against the woman writes to the Home Office, alleging that she worked as a cook at the Marcos Hotel in Manila for only four years instead of the five years that it says in her references. The Home Office causes investigations to be made through our Embassy in Manila and the proprietor of the Marcos Hotel confirms that for the first year this woman was employed by them she was a dishwasher and worked as a cook only for the last four years.
In case any noble Lord accuses me of inventing an outlandish and absurd example, I must say that I am pursuing a case where a person has been declared to be an illegal entrant on precisely these grounds. So the mother is declared to be an illegal entrant and the child, who might have been supposed to be a British citizen for the eight years of her life, is thrown into limbo. Does that child qualify for Filipino citizenship, whether legitimate or not? I do not know the answer to that question. I am asking the noble Lord the Minister. It is not meant to be a rhetorical question.
I suppose that the Minister will have the answer to the question, because he will remember that I raised it on Second Reading. But he must be certain of it with regard to every nationality, because it could be not a Filipino woman but a Cypriot woman, a Turkish woman or a Portuguese woman—any one of the numerous nationalities to whom work permits may have been granted in the past and where, in future, because some defect is found in the references by which she obtained a work permit, the woman is declared to be an illegal entrant.
The Minister said, at column 46 in the Official Report of the proceedings in another place as long ago as 12th February, that the Government were considering what amendments to the immigration rules would be appropriate if Clause 1(1) should become law. Broadly speaking, children born here would not have the right of abode, and that must apply to all children, since at any time the parents may lose their status, But we need to see, I suggest, exactly how this will be expressed in practice, because it is not quite as simple as Mr. Raison appeared to be suggesting. So why can the Government not publish draft amendments to the rules, as was suggested in another place?
Let me give just one illustration to show the kind of problem that may arise. If children are to be brought into line with their parents, which is broadly what Mr. Raison was saying, what is to happen if the parents should die? Suppose that, in the case of the Filipino woman, she is a single parent, and that while the Minister is in the process of making a decision about having her removed back to the Philippines on the basis of false references, she unfortunately dies. Is the child then to be removed to the Philippines at the age of eight, without any checks on the possibility of care at the other end? Of course, the Minister will say that nobody could imagine the Home Office behaving in such an inhumane way, but what I am 602 asking is whether they will have the power to do that and, if so, what restraints will be exercised on the use of that power?
I have to point out also that the provisions in Schedule 2 for reducing statelessness, on which the Minister relied so heavily in another place, would be of no assistance in cases of the kind I am mentioning. The Filipino child, if it does not acquire Filipino nationality, would not, as a result of the provisions of Schedule 2, be qualified to receive British nationality.
There are two other matters that I want to touch on—
§ Lord Avebury
I shall be very brief at this stage. I could always make other speeches later. That would be just as easy. After all, we are at Committee stage. This is perhaps the most important amendment that we shall consider during the course of the whole proceedings on the Bill. The General Secretary of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants wrote to the Home Office on 5th August 1980 asking about the implications of the case of Pieck, which was heard in the European Court, and he has still not had a reply. What that case decided was that the stay of a Community national cannot be restricted to the grant of a limited leave to remain. So the question is whether EEC nationals, who are admitted for the purposes of work, may in future, as a result of decisions which we debated on another occasion, be admitted for purposes other than work.
We want to broaden the rights of residents which are laid down in the treaty, so as to admit people of independent means, the retired and so on. These people, equally, would have to be admitted under the treaty, I presume, without restrictions. So are those people "settled" within the meaning of Clause 1 of this Bill and, if so, would their children automatically qualify for United Kingdom citizenship? If they would, then I am very delighted. I am just pointing it out though, because, if that is so, it is a further step along the road of giving preference to citizens of the EEC as compared with any other part of the world.
The other point that I wanted to get on the record, which has also been the subject of correspondence between the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and the Home Office, is whether a person who is absent for a period of up to two years may be considered, while he is temporarily overseas, to remain settled here, for the purpose of Clause 1. This, again, is important because if his wife, who is left behind in the United Kingdom, has a baby during his absence and he then returns after a period of, say, 18 months, and the wife is found not to have had proper leave to remain in the United Kingdom, would the child then be a United Kingdom citizen?
I just mention those features to illustrate the appalling complexity to which the right reverend Prelate has already drawn our attention. We are entering a minefield and one which will result in huge amounts of litigation, and huge amounts of work in the office of the Minister. I wonder what on earth can be the object of the Government in creating these enormous problems. Paragraph 43 of the White Paper said that the Government 603 were uneasy that a child born here would be able to transmit British citizenship to his own children born years later, and those citizens with a right of abode would form a pool of considerable size having no real connection with the United Kingdom.
The Minister emphasised the numbers argument in Standing Committee when he said at col. 41:Even if the yearly figures were as small as honourable Members opposite suggested, they would still mount up over the years, with the effect that the White Paper suggested, namely, an increase in our potential immigration commitment".Yes, there could be a few people who, though patrial, left the United Kingdom with their overstaying or illegal entrant parents and who possess the right to come back here as adults. Yes, some of them would want to exercise that right. And, yes, the majority of those young people would be black. It is to prevent that trickle of black migrants entering this country after every other door and window has been hermetically sealed against migrants from beyond white Europe and the old Commonwealth that we are overturning common law rights going back over the centuries, souring relations with our old friends and allies in the Commonwealth, rendering children stateless, throwing suspicion on the status of young people and enmeshing their parents in a web of red tape. This must be wrong, and I hope that your Lordships will put a stop to it.
§ 4.31 p.m.
Lord Home of the Hirsel
I am sure that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester would not wish to imply that there can be only one view of this Bill which is consistent with Christian morality. That simply is not so. I cannot claim to be as good a Christian as the right reverend Prelate, but I may be as good at detecting flaws in the text of an amendment which would have very undesirable effects. Therefore, it is perfectly possible that we in this House, as Christians, can have very many views on the Bill.
I am by nature a traditionalist but there comes a time when the facts of life compel adaptation and change. I cannot escape the conclusion that jus soli is such a case at this time, and I have risen to say why, as requested by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones. In the days that were recalled by the right reverend Prelate and by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, we could afford to be almost quixotic in our nationality laws and our immigration rules, and they were, of course, widely liberal. Those were the days when we had very few people in this country and when we were in total command of the Commonwealth and all its rules. But now there is a very great change. We are now an overcrowded country which is bulging at the seams. There is fresh evidence of this every day.
As I said at the Second Reading of the Bill, and I shall not repeat it except in shorthand, there are now people in the Commonwealth and outside it who are conducting a profitable business in illegal immigration and who are conducting it quite successfully. A good many illegal immigrants are in this country today. As we all know, thousands of tourists and students visit this country every year or stay in this country for a number of years on a scale which was totally unkown only a few years ago.
604 When we have an amendment of this sort we have to look at the text and see what it will do. My noble friend on the Front Bench, Lord Belstead, will correct me if I am wrong, but according to the amendment as it stands the son of an illegal immigrant who has taken the trouble successfully to cheat the immigration laws would, as I understand it, be able to rely on the fact that his son—and not only his son but his grandson—would be able to claim permanent citizenship of this country. That is a proposition which I think will outrage the ordinary citizen who is here legally as a citizen of this country with a right of abode.
In these days of mass travel there are very large numbers of students. If again I am not wrong, let me take as a practical example a boy and a girl coming from Iran who have a child or a number of children. Those children would automatically, in the words which were used by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn Jones, be citizens of this country—and not only they, but their children in turn. I am all for elasticity in the law, but I cannot really see anything in Christian morality or common sense which dictates that such children should have permanent citizenship of this country. So the right reverend Prelate will not be surprised to hear that I shall oppose this amendment which he has moved, from conviction that these sort of people should not have permanent citizenship of this country. I hope, as I said at the start, that there is nothing in Christian morality which will excommunicate me for holding those views.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ Lord Belstead
I wonder whether it would be helpful if I said a fairly brief word on behalf of the Government at this stage of what appears to be a quite lengthy debate. First, the effect of the amendment, and of the amendments which hang with it, would be to remove from the Bill the Government's proposal that in future a child born in this country should be a British citizen if one of the parents, either the father or the mother (because this is a Bill which for the first time in the law of this country will, if Parliament passes it, bring equality of the sexes into our nationality arrangements) is a British citizen or is settled here.
I begin by saying that because, if the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, will forgive my saying so, it sounded from his speech, interesting though the details were, as though the only criterion for citizenship was settlement. This is very far from the case. This amendment, tabled by the most reverend Primate and the right reverend Prelates and moved by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester, is more or less word for word identical with an amendment which was moved by the right honourable Gentleman, Mr. Roy Hattersley, at the Report stage in another place.
In today's debate on this amendment it has been asserted that the all-inclusive method of conferring citizenship on anyone who is born here is a matter of great principle. The reason why I refer to the fact that the parentage of this amendment came from the Opposition Front Bench in another place is because it is sensible to look at what the Labour Party actually said about this matter when they were in Government. One has only to look at the Green Paper, the discussion paper produced by the previous Government in 1977, 605 which was the run-up to legislation upon this matter. It is quite true that that discussion paper wanted to retain the principle of jus soli, but more as a matter of convenience than as a matter of high principle. Paragraph 34 of the Labour Party's Green Paper said that it favoured jus soli on the whole because of, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, said, simplicity and inclusiveness. But the discussion paper also pointed out the drawbacks of conferring citizenship indiscriminately.
If there is an issue of principle upon this important amendment, I would put it to your Lordships' Committee that it is arguable that it lies against the amendment. A point upon which there has been unanimous agreement between the previous Government and the present Government is that, if we are to put right the main defect which is to be found in the nationality law of this country today, we need to confer British citizenship upon those who have a close connection with this country. How can it make sense, then, to say that anyone who happens to be born here must be eligible to be a British citizen? And, as my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel said, not only that but to transmit British citizenship to their children, even though the person concerned may literally have been born to people who were here in transit and may go off and live elsewhere for the rest of their lives.
§ Lord Hatch of Lusby
I am sure that there is no question of a deliberate falsification here, but if the noble Lord will read Hansard tomorrow he will find that he has juxtaposed a discussion paper with a Government decision. Surely the Green Paper that he is referring to was a paper for public discussion which was not, and was never intended to be, Government policy. I think that his argument from that point is quite a false argument, because this was not Government policy; it was a discussion paper that brought out the pros and cons of every issue that is included in this amendment.
§ Lord Belstead
It is absolutely true that of course the previous Government never got as far as actually turning its discussions and its intentions into policy and into action, but it is quite clear from the preface to the previous Government's Green Paper and from the words which are used, when it says that "the main ideas canvassed in this document are summarised below", that the things which were said in the discussion paper were included because the Government of the day felt that they were worth consideration. Some of the things which were considered in paragraph 34 of that Green Paper were warnings of what could happen if, indiscriminately, citizenship was conferred upon people who were either in transit with the mother, it may be en route elsewhere, or people who gained citizenship for their children and then the children decided that they would live the whole of the rest of their lives abroad, and indeed—and the previous Government put this; I did not—people who simply arranged for citizenship to be acquired because it 606 would be useful later. I am saying to the Committee that those were warnings which were put forward in the previous Government's Green Paper, and I really do think that Parliament has a duty to heed the warnings which were given four years ago.
My noble friend, Lord Home of the Hirsel, said in essence in his speech that times have changed, and the European countries, and not least our island, have changed very much in the past 30, 50, let alone the past 100, years. We live in a time when air travel is quick and when the wish to travel in order to study, to work or just to visit has taken on a wholly new dimension. For these reasons people avail themselves of modern facilities to come here in very large numbers, but that does not mean that all their children who may be born here must, as of right, be eligible for British citizenship and have the right to pass on those rights to their children and—I should like to make the point—nor would the majority of our visitors expect it.
The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, again in a most interesting part of his speech, gave examples of countries around the world which retain the jus soli principle. I listened as carefully as I could, but I did not discern in the list which the noble Lord gave very many countries which bore much relation to the demography and the logistics and the general society in which we live in this country today. In Europe, of all the 10 countries of the European Community there is one country, and one country only, which does what the amendment moved by the right reverend Prelate would wish us to do, and that country is the Republic of Ireland. All the other countries of the European Community today require the parent to be a citizen before citizenship can be transmitted to the child, and in many countries it is only the father who can transmit. By comparison, Clause 1 provides that there will be no sex discrimination in our nationality law. For the first time children would be able to take their citizenship from their mother or their father, and unlike most countries relying on citizenship requirement for acquisition, Clause 1 also says that if the mother or the father is settled in the United Kingdom that makes the children citizens by birth.
Upon this the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, has fastened as being something which is racially discriminatory. I really do think that the use of the "settled" criterion in this context indicates an approach which must be wholly non-racial. What Clause 1 is saying is that settled parents who are not citizens can have children born here who would become citizens, a proposal precisely designed to try to integrate children into the community in which they are born. But it is said that the term "settled" includes ordinary residents and that is not a clear concept. For someone who remains out of the country for very long periods that may occasionally be so, although usually a sensible judgment can be arrived at when the facts are examined. Otherwise it will normally be quite clear whether a person is settled here or not and, generally speaking, anyone who is living here free of conditions on his stay will be regarded as "settled". Of course the term "settled" excludes illegal entrants and overstayers, and indeed anyone who is not free of restrictions on his or her stay here; but in the view of the Government it is right that people in those categories should be excluded.
607 I should like now to cut my remarks short because I think probably we may go on somewhat longer and there may be questions for me to answer, but I will finish simply by saying this: on top of the criterion of requiring that the parents should be citizens, or settled, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary then said that he would respond to what he realised were concerns about a major change in the law and therefore he would write a major amendment into what is now Clause 1(4). This provides that a child born here who does not become a British citizen through his parents' British citizenship or settled status shall none the less also have an entitlement to registration 10 years later if he or she has resided here continuously since birth and short periods of absence should be permitted. I know that there are amendments tabled to this by noble Lords in different parts of the Committee, and I am sure that the period of absence is something that we shall want to look at. Nevertheless, that is the way subsection (4) will work, and that entitlement can be claimed by children growing up in this country without realising that their parents are not lawfully settled here.
Finally, I know that again it has been claimed that subsection (4) itself contains conditions which it would be difficult to prove that one had met, but I genuinely believe that there is a misunderstanding. There is no need in subsection (4) to produce evidence about the parents: the whole point of subsection (4) is that all that would be needed would be evidence of residence of the child in this country since birth. That does not mean that every day's presence in this country has to be documented. All that the Secretary of State would do would be to take a view of each application on the balance of probabilities, and of course where these pointed to the applicant being entitled to registration, the Secretary of State would be acting unreasonably in denying registration—and that would be a matter for the courts.
So I repeat, because both the previous Government and the present Government have met on common ground, I think it is fair to claim, if we are to try to bring our nationality law up to date, the criterion for British citizenship which would equate with the right of abode in this country should be that people should have a close and continuing connection with this country. But this means that at the same time to confer that citizenship as of right upon children who happen to be born here of parents, neither of whom is a citizen and neither of whom is free of conditions of stay, really is to fly in the face not only of prudence but also of reality. I ask your Lordships to view this amendment in that particular light.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Lord Aylestone
This is probably the most important amendment and the most important clause in the Bill. In not moving my amendment, which until yesterday was No. 1, I followed the lead of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, and I am glad that the right reverend Prelate was able to move his amendment, which was No. 3. My reason for withdrawing was twofold; first, that the right reverend Prelate and his colleagues speak for a much wider audience than I do, and, secondly, because his amendment was a better 608 one than mine, in that it took the children of diplomats out of a position, which my amendment failed to do, and it also guaranteed that no child born in this country should be stateless.
We have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, and from the right reverend Prelate, the principle of jus soli has been with us for many centuries. I do not propose to go through the history of those centuries. In the first place, I could not; I do not understand what happened in that period of time. But I do know now that, if this amendment is not carried, we shall depart from something which has been part of our law in this country for many hundreds of years. The noble Lord, Lord Home, to whom I listened with great care, as I always do, seemed to think that this Bill had something to do with immigration and immigration laws. In fact, it has not. We are given to understand that it is a Bill to deal with nationality and citizenship. I hope that we shall consider it on that basis.
Until 1948, right through the centuries, children born here were subjects of Britain, but from 1948 they became citizens. This system of jus soli is extremely simple; it is readily understood by everyone, which is important when you have many people here who hardly speak English; it is important that they should understand what their rights are. The system is completely unambiguous, and, what is more important, it is certain; if a child is born on our soil, in this country, that child is a British citizen. It has been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, that the United States has the same principle, and surely there you have a country with very many more nationality problems than we have. They do not find any difficulty at all in making it work.
I have wondered why, as was mentioned at Second Reading, the Government wish to end this system of jus soli, and the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, in his first intervention, seemed to suggest that if the former Administration had become the Government at the last general election they would have proceeded on the same lines. If one looks at the deliberative document, the Green Paper—and that is what it is, a deliberative document—it was made absolutely clear that, having examined it, they were of the opinion that jus soli should remain. We are told by the present Government that this is likely to prevent abuse, prevent pregnant mothers coming here, simply to have children and have those children brought up as British citizens. I think we are entitled to ask how much of that takes place in any one year. How many pregnant mothers come here for that purpose? If the Government have decided they ought to end it, they must have an idea of the figures. How many overstayers are there; how many illegals who have children in this country? Are these significant numbers? There may be a significant number of people who get in illegally, but do they all have children who illegally become British? We have had no figures. There has been no proof of any of the assertions. Therefore, it leads one to believe that, although we were told that this Bill has nothing to do with immigration, the noble Lord, Lord Home, may be right; perhaps it has a great deal to do with immigration laws.
May I deal with two anomalies within it. I do not want to take up any more time, as so many people want to speak. Take a child of a foreign family living 609 in this country at the moment, foreigners working here, maybe in the catering trade; that child is British. After the passing of this Bill, when it becomes an Act, if it does, that same little family, still working here, legally, may have a second child, and the second child will not be British, unless they take some method of registration, which will not be easily understood and will have to be looked at very carefully before anyone does in fact understand it.
Taking the second point, in the years to come, perhaps when two brothers of a family wishing to go abroad together apply for passports for the first time; they might very easily find that the one who is two years older than the other is entitled to a British passport, but his younger brother, unknown to him, is not entitled to a British passport, because he was born after the Royal Assent to this Act. And so on; we can deal with anomaly after anomaly that is likely to arise. I am of the opinion that the abolition of the principle of jus soli is something, if it is done, we shall regret for a long time. I am of the opinion, too, that it is quite unnecessary, and should the right reverend Prelate decide to take his amendment through the Division Lobbies I will follow him.
§ Lord Rawlinson of Ewell
My noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel replied to the right reverend Prelate, who moved this amendment with a speech of great grace and authority. I would not dare to intervene between them. But the right reverend Prelate did refer to the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and the Roman Catholic hierarchy. I do propose to intervene, being a member of that Church, between that hierarchy and this House. I do it, also, in the presence of my noble friend the Duke of Norfolk. This is a matter on which, as the right reverend Prelate said, the leaders of other denominations have given their statements. They have made their statements, and I am saddened to see that it is put on the basis as though there is some moral purpose or moral decision. In my view, it is a matter of politics, a matter of administration and a matter of law.
There are, of course, as we have heard many times this afternoon, the two concepts of the jus soli and the jus sanguinis. Both are respectable ethical concepts; both are hallowed in international law. They are practised by differing nations, according to the reasonable interests of those states. There is nothing reprehensible in either. I would, therefore, ask this of the bishops of my Church: Will they say to the bishops in Europe, on the Continent, where the jus sanguinis applies, that that is something immoral, unethical, something that ought to be changed? Of course, not. Jus sanguinis stands in those countries and is supported by the nation states of Europe and by the hierarchies of Europe because it is a system which those countries find most acceptable, a system of devolving national citizenship.
Of course, in certain countries the jus soli has been the historical basis, as it was in this country. Obviously, the United States of America—"Give me your poor, give me your needy"—with all the riches and all the resources and all the great geographical space, always have and always would accept the principle. So in Canada and so in Australia. And in this country, as my noble friend Lord Home said, in 610 days gone by, when it was sensible and practicable, so it was accepted, over those hundreds of years. But nowadays, with the space and the population of this country, with the responsibility that we as parliamentarians owe to the people of this country, have we not got to accept and have we not got to understand that it is our duty at this stage and at this time to look after the interests of all the peoples of this country? There are the problems of the end of empire and postwar immigration. Let us remember that there are not queues of people seeking to come to the Continent of Europe—they are only coming to this country. It is to this country that they are coming. It is, therefore, this country which faces the problem and has the necessity for control.
I would only say to those who say that this Bill has nothing to do with immigration that of course it has to do with it. It is fortunately at the end of time, I hope, going to settle all the problems that we have. I think that we are entitled to have a little suspicion of the judgment of those who oppose this Bill because some of them were the people who opposed any form of immigration control whatever in 1962. The Front Bench of the Labour Party at that time opposed it. Their judgment, I would suggest—and, on reflection, I am sure that they would agree—was wrong. I wonder, therefore, whether we should rely upon it now.
However, it is the confusion in the United Kingdom law which is of such great offence to everybody. Citizens of other Commonwealth countries and citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies are British subjects and therefore British nationals. That is nonsense. British subjects like British protected persons and in a qualified sense even citizens of the Republic of Ireland, are amenable in certain circumstances, odd as it may seem, to British criminal jurisdiction with regard to offences outside the United Kingdom. It is a mess. A distinction between the rights of entry and residence in this country is now made between different categories of British subject and that applies formally without regard to citizenship. There is a hotchpotch of immigration laws, and control is obviously necessary.
We are driven, therefore—driven by national circumstances—to the present position. I am sure that the bishops—and I speak only of the bishops of the Church to which I belong—and I am sure also the right reverend Prelate and his colleagues on his Bench, will not overlook the rights, the desires and the just aspirations of the indigenous people of this country and of the people who have come to this country and who are citizens of this country.
A person who comes to this country as an immigrant takes a conscious act. He comes to this country and accepts, therefore, various responsibilities as well as rights by coming to this country. The responsibilities are to live in accordance with the laws of this country, to play a part within the customs of this country and to give allegiance to this country, and by far the greater proportion of them all do so. However, there is, and always has been, the racket of which my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel has spoken and of which I have spoken previously. It is a racket which is sometimes done from this country, sometimes done from Pakistan, sometimes done from India and sometimes 611 done from the West Indies. It is a racket which we, as sensible people, must see is driven out. Nationality denotes the quality—
§ Lord Pitt of Hampstead
My Lords, will the noble and learned Lord—and I do not mind if he does it publicly here—indicate a single occasion on which he has known of racketeers from the West Indies arranging illegal immigration?
§ Lord Rawlinson of Ewell
The noble Lord asks whether I personally know of it and I must say that I do not personally know of it, but I do know of those who have spoken of it. I believe that there were people who were exploited and who were brought here certainly in the 1960s and in the early 1970s. But if the noble Lord tells me that it does not exist from the West Indies, very well then, it does not exist from the West Indies. However, I believe that there have been unfortunate people who have been preyed upon by excessive prices and costs which have been imposed upon them in attempting to come to this country.
I was saying that nationality denotes the quality of political membership of a state and it is governed primarily by municipal law. In principle it is accepted in international law that the question of nationality is within the jurisdiction of the state. It has been obvious for a long time that this country must establish a firm nationality law.
The Government by deciding, I think rightly, to limit the jus soli has qualified that limitation. It is not very extensive. Some people may think that it is too generous. I do not take that view: I think that it is right. It is for the British citizen; or the parent who is a British citizen; or the person settled here; or the person one of whose parents later becomes settled or resident here; or the person who has lived here for 10 years. That is surely reasonable and sensible when you are faced with a crisis. It is no use noble Lords thinking that there is not a crisis, because a crisis there certainly is.
I do not believe also that there will be such difficulties of proof in later years. If any of us emigrated to a new country and were told that we had to keep records of ourselves and our children until we became a citizen of that country, would we not say that they were perfectly entitled to ask us to do that? Why are we not entitled to ask people to do that? If there is a need for help surely it ought to be given and I am sure it will willingly be given by the clergy. The clergy would assist with persons who were seeking to become citizens of this great country, but there should be records kept and helpful assistance given to them.
We live, as is obvious, in dangerous and troublesome times and if we are seen not to be facing the realities in Parliament, how can we expect other people to meet the responsibilities elsewhere. It is so easy, I suggest, to assume an attitude of confused liberal desire to promote the interests of individuals. We have all that, unless our opponents in this debate accuse us of being evil. We all have that feeling, we all have those beliefs. It is not a matter of ethics: it is a matter of law and the law requires precision. I do not believe that a morality, said to be a muddled morality, should be confused with ordinary political judgment.
612 Therefore, it was with the very greatest of respect that I listened to the views of the right reverend Prelate and it was with the very greatest of respect, as I know he will appreciate, that I listened to the views of the bishops of the Church to which I belong. But I believe that this is a matter in which political judgment and lay judgment is superior to that of the clergy.
§ The Earl of Longford
Before the noble and learned Lord sits down, I should like to ask him to agree that he is speaking entirely for himself and his much respected colleague the Duke of Norfolk, and not for the Catholic Members of this House.
§ Lord Rawlinson of Ewell
Of course, my Lords, I am sure that that is very obvious because of the intervention by the noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, in the middle of my speech. The noble Earl's intervention now makes the situation clear. I speak, as I say, as a member of that Church, and I speak with great and due respect to the views expressed by the bishops in my Church. Nevertheless, these are my views and they are based upon my political judgment, which I maintain.
§ 5.8 p.m.
The Lord Bishop of Liverpool
I follow with all the energy I can my noble friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester in pressing the simplicity and certainty which this amendment would give. The question has been raised again of moral and Christian comment. The noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, rightly declared his right to speak as a Christian. However, we are not simply swapping different individual Christian views or the views of lay Christians against priestly Christians. There has been very substantial debate in all the Churches for a number of years. There is no subject in which the Christian conscience has become more keenly engaged than in this matter which we are debating today. Within the Churches it has been a debate in which black people and Asian people have played a very full part.
There are very deep feelings held within the Churches. The noble Lord spoke of the Roman Catholic Church. I had the privilege of being a full member of the National Pastoral Congress throughout its time in Liverpool last year. This subject was one of those debated by almost entirely a lay conference in which very strong views were held. The leaders of the Churches speak about this matter out of that continuing debate within their Churches. So often lay people turn to us and say: "Bishop, give us a lead", and of course when the lead comes—and there is a very clear lead from the leaders of all the Churches—it may not be the lead which people want. That does not end the debate. I am not for one moment claiming that kind of authority.
It is a proper calling to the Churches and leaders within the Churches to speak up in particular on behalf of those who feel that their voice is a weak one; in this case, people properly settled in this country, but who view this Bill with a great deal of fear and a great deal of insecurity. I want to speak about the way in which this Bill will be understood in those less sophisticated circles.
613 Within the last 24 hours I have had the most sobering illustration of something that we in your Lordships' House need to understand. I was present here yesterday afternoon for the Statement about the troubles in Toxteth, and I listened to the first two comments made about those troubles before I had to leave to catch a train. My personal position is that I am on a sabbatical leave and feeling very frustrated, and not knowing where I ought to have been in the last few days. I went back to Liverpool last night and spent half the night, together with the Roman Catholic archbishop and other colleagues and friends, walking the district, listening to community leaders, and so on. I have to say that the way matters were understood and talked about in this House yesterday and the way in which they are perceived and understood in Toxteth are a very long way apart.
This is true in this matter. If the bishops and their advisers do not understand the Bill, what about the many in those less sophisticated parts of the community who view it with very great fear—those parts of the community where forms frighten people? There are genuine fears, and if we are concerned about good community relations, we must address ourselves to those fears. It is not enough to produce cold, rational arguments in your Lordships' House. Those human fears are part of the reality of what makes up good community relations. There are great fears of bureaucracy, which may not be easy for your Lordships to understand, because all of us have friends who are bureaucrats and we know our way round the system and do not have those fears.
However, cases of the kind which the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, cited are not far-fetched. Those of us who, on occasion, have tried to support those who face deportation under the present regulations have sensed the fear, the insecurity and the sense of rejection in the community. It is not a good track record to encourage people to think—as the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, suggested—that the process may be a simple and clear one. I hope that the Government will think again and accept this clear, clean reassertion of the ancient basis of citizenship rather than to depend on subjective decisions made at the discretion of the Home Secretary. For good relations the goal that we must seek is of black and brown British people who feel that they belong, are wanted and are valued.
Yes, a little country has a moral right and a moral duty to limit the numbers who can come into the country; but it does not have a moral right to say, either in words or in effect, what colour those people should be. The Government rightly say that this Bill does not say in any explicit way that there is a bar by colour. That is absolutely true; the Bill does not say it. But that is what its effect will be in many situations, and that is how it is understood by very many people who are in the weaker position in our country. The vast majority of people for whom this would have some concern—black and brown people born in this country—have no particular ties with or understanding of their parents' country of origin. Let us give them the secure base for their life here. With all the energy that I possess I support this amendment.
§ 5.18 p.m.
§ Lord Mishcon
I have the feeling, if your Lordships 614 will permit me to say so, that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester sounded an organ note in your Lordships' Committee and, without any disrespect to subsequent speakers, I thought that I felt and heard very nearly the sounds of a piano afterwards. That is not meant simply to be a picturesque phrase, because to your Lordships there was made an appeal at this moment to stop people in this country from thinking that they do not belong.
Perhaps I could just smile for a moment in the midst of what, I hope, will be a short and serious speech. I find it dangerous to take from the Scriptures any sort of guide as to what happens to you when you plead nationality. I remember so well that, in very eloquent phrases, the example of Saint Paul was mentoned with the proud claim, "Civis Romanus sum". I had an ancester called Jonah and in the midst of a rather perilous voyage he was asked what his nationality was. With great pride he answered: "I am an Hebrew", and after an interchange of courtesies he was promptly thrown overboard. That is the last thing that I want to happen to me in addressing your Lordships this afternoon.
To return to the serious theme, this is not a debate which is being held in 1948, 1950 ar 1960; it is a debate which is taking place in 1981 when, tragically, this country has been riven and horrified by what has happened in three districts within, almost literally, weeks. There is not one person in this Committee, I hope, who will have one word of defence for those who have taken, not the law into their own hands, but who have taken savagery into their own hands in order to express a point of view, which I understand. But I know, and your Lordships know, that that is not the way to solve problems of this sort. But what of the moderate people? What of those who work in race relations? What of people like myself? If I may humbly say so, for many years I was chairman of the board of governors of a large comprehensive school in Stockwell, which is so near Brixton, where there was a very substantial number of black children. The one thing that will solve this problem, although it has many aspects, is to give security to those who, at the moment, feel desperately insecure.
I shall not go into discussions of unemployment, social deprivaton and discrimination this afternoon. If I may, I shall just go into the very matter with which Clause 1 of this Bill deals: the question of security that a child born in this country ought to have, so that when he goes to an English school he is as the boys are who are around him even before he reaches the age of 10; born like they were in this country as British. He may be jeered at because he is black, and maybe black children jeer at a white child because he is white; but the one thing that children are so cruel about is the chap, or the girl, who does not belong to the same sort of family as they do.
It is not an academic exercise that we want to deal with this afternoon. We are in 1981. We are legislating in days of racial tension such as this country has never had before, and never thought it would have. There is no question of party in this. I am not going to swap words on a matter of this kind with the noble Lord the Minister as to whether a Green Paper is a discussion document or not, or as to whether a previous Government said this or that, or the other. If it 615 said something wrong as a previous Government, it was wrong, and if it was my Government that said it, it was my Government that was wrong. This is not the plane upon which the discussion and debate ought to take place today.
There is no question, if I may say so with deep respect—I am not going to mention names—of legalistic arguments. Really, do we want to go into the question of racketeers? Will we be stopping racketeers because some children are called British if we pass this amendment, who are not going to be called British if we do not? Is that going to stop racketeering? Of course it is not. The bishops and race relations officers know, and all of us know who try to do something about this problem, that whether you like it or not, unless you pass this amendment you are going to make a few more people feel they do not belong. You are going to make a few more kids unhappy. You are going to close the doors of a country that had the great tradition of which my forebears took advantage. That great tradition was that if you come here and—and I admit this argument—you obey our laws, then you are welcomed into the family.
Are we going to take the punishment of a father to the children if an immigration law is broken? What are these people doing? Have they committed murder? Is the world so nationalistic now that noble Lords seriously considering this amendment take the view that somebody who has tried to get here in order to get employment, in order to live in a free country, is a criminal? Is it such a crime for a human being to wander thus in God's world and to invade just a bit of his territory? Is that a crime?
It may be a necessary thing that we have regulations. Of course it is. Of course there are limits to our areas. Of course we have to limit immigration. I know it. But is the stranger who wanders in and comes through a gate surreptitiously in the eyes of any one of us a criminal? And if he is, are his children to suffer for it? I bring the Committee back not into legal arguments, or dissertations upon examples; I am trying to bring the Committee back to the organ note with which this amendment was moved.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Baroness Trumpington
As I scribbled, better people than I said exactly what I wanted to say, so I have spent a great deal of time scratching out. I hope that I shall not repeat too much of what has been said in other places. I am deeply sympathetic to the worries and fear as expressed by the right reverend Prelates, but I wondered, when they were asked by their parishioners, where they went for help? Where did they go for the answers? Did they come to the all-party meetings which many of us have been attending? I know that they are extremely busy and that their main job is to work in their parishes, but at the same time I wonder where they obtained all the information from which they are so sure they are right and that those who have drafted and proposed this Bill are wrong.
I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, introduced an emotional red herring into the debate when he mentioned the appalling violence which has 616 been going on recently in various parts of this country. He is right: the odd man is the odd person out; but that has nothing to do with this Bill at the moment. If he is talking about immigrants, may I say, backing up what my noble friend on my right said earlier, that living on the Kentish coast I have seen those hell ships overloaded with people who are would-be illegal immigrants and on whom this Bill does have an effect. It is only they who will be affected and their children: illegal immigrants. I can see no reason why, after 700 years, we should not change our pattern and fit in with our neighbours. We are the odd man out at the moment. Why should we give unconditional citizenship to birds of passage? Why should we not look after the genuine citizens and those who genuinely wish to make their lives here, who have nothing to fear because the Bill makes provision for all bona-fide persons. Indeed, in many cases the people who are worrying the most have nothing to fear, because the status quo in their cases is not altered by the Bill.
I hope your Lordships will forgive this remark—it is meant to be a joke. The right reverend Prelates seem to have reached more ecumenical unity over this Bill than has been reached in other places, which, I cannot help feeling, must be a good start to this Bill, even if for unusual reasons. I hope that the right reverend Prelate will withdraw his amendment and that he will support my very modest one which is in the pipeline further on today.
Noble Lords will have noted that my name is on Amendment No. 1, and I should like to say that I am grateful that that amendment was not moved by my noble friend Lord Aylestone, because it has enabled me, at any rate, to listen with all the more attention to the considerable debate that has followed the amendment moved by the right reverend Prelate. All I wish to do is to put the question which comes foremost to my mind at this late stage in the debate on this vitally important question.
We have heard that the Government's intention in abandoning jus soli is, in part, on the grounds of the transients, the tourists, the students, the overstayers, the illegals, and the children whom they may produce while they are here. We have not heard so far—maybe the Government will produce some figures—any statistics. The noble Lord, Lord Home, said large numbers—presumably meaning large numbers of children—born to these categories of people. But we have not heard statistics, nor have we heard of any trouble over all the hundreds of years that have passed, nor, more importantly, in the very different world in which we are living today. Nor have we heard—I should like to know whether the Government are concerned about this—about how they see the future; whether they really see the retention of jus soli, if this amendment were to succeed, going into the Bill and becoming law, resulting in a sudden ingress of pregnant women coming to this country for the precise purpose of having their children here and passing on the convenience of a British passport in later years to their children.
Those questions deserve to be answered. On the one hand we have heard that, while on the other we have heard of the considerable difficulties placed by the consequences of abandoning jus soli on that section of 617 our community which is entitled to come here, holders of United Kingdom and Commonwealth passports, who are entitled to come here, taking their turn in the quota, some of whom are already here but who will not qualify when the Bill becomes law because they will not have been in the country for long enough under the terms of the Bill. We have heard of the considerable problems and anxieties caused to parents and the delay, which has been mentioned by several noble Lords, in having their children registered. I thought, until the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Liverpool referred to it, that we had not heard enough about the feelings, of which I know a certain amount, of those people whose present entitlement will be taken away.
Those are the two things we have heard a lot about and I must therefore ask a question. I hope the noble and learned Lord, Lord Rawlinson, will not accuse me of having confused liberal ideas or muddled morality in asking this question, because it is a practical and simple one: Is it really worth it? Is it worth creating such real difficulties, to which the right reverend Prelate referred, to those who are United Kingdom and Colonies passport holders, whose rights will be removed in this respect. We should think also of the feelings that this will engender, hostile to good community relations, on grounds of what I believe to be the relatively few who are not entitled to stay here and about whom we have had no convincing evidence of their having caused any trouble in the past. That, to me, is the important question.
§ Lord Underhill
It was not my intention to intervene in the debate until I heard the speeches of the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Rawlinson of Ewell. The former accused my noble friend Lord Mishcon of emotionalism. I hope this matter will not be decided on emotion, but emotionalism is not necessarily wrong in this case. I shall determine it on what I believe to be right and what effect it will have on the apprehensions of a minority of people in this country, and we must not forget that.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Rawlinson, accused—perhaps I should not use the word "accused"—at any rate referred to persons who could be described as liberal moralists (I am paraphrasing his remarks) and talked about confusion. He then went on to introduce every possible confusion he could think of, including the effects of immigration, the possibility of all the British subjects overseas being concerned in this, the question of a crisis, the possibility of a racket and the question of people in transit. Frankly, if the Minister intends to accept any of those arguments, I hope he will do what the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, suggested, and actually give us the figures.
As for the general position on immigration, I believe the latest figures show that more left the country in the last 12 months than actually came in. If it is the case that people come to this country in order to have their children and obtain British nationality for them, how many such people are involved? Statements should not just be thrown out if they will simply appeal to the emotions of those on the other side of the fence, and we should not allow ourselves to be swayed by all sorts of points that are just thrown into the debate without any facts, arguments or statistics being given. In the 618 absence of any such facts or statistics, I shall adhere to what I believe is right and proper, compared with the possible terrible effects on a minority of people in this country.
§ The Duke of Norfolk
I wish at the outset to clear up one point, and I shall do so with my customary brevity. I have talked to many of the Catholic bishops and only last night I talked to the cardinal. I explained to him that the abolition in the Bill of the principle of jus soli was in no way a racial matter. Once I had explained that to him and explained to him that the Bill would give greater security to all races—the blacks, Indians and others who are here—he wisely said that he found it extremely confusing and I said it was a case where the Catholic laiety could take the chance of enlightening the Catholic hierarchy a bit further, something which, I might say, happens quite often in the Catholic church.
I thought the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, made a most terrible speech; I was appalled by what he was saying. How can one suggest that by us not wanting to believe in jus soli we are in any way being anti-racial? I was in Kenya and made 100 black officers. I am the greatest friend of the noble Lords, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, and Lord Mishcon. In no sense is the abolition of the jus soli principle a racial matter; they will have full and utter citizenship, and that applies to all colours here.
The reason why, as my noble friend Lord Belstead said, we must go for jus sanguinis is the same reason why they have it all over Europe. I have lived in the countries of Europe for a great deal of my life. If one goes to the Frankfurt underground one finds there notices in Greek, Spanish, Turkish and Bulgarian simply because they had 2½ million people working there. The reason we must go to jus sanguinis is that we might have many millions of Frenchmen, Spaniards—I am not talking about black people—and Germans coming here as workers and then, if they had children here, on the jus soli principle they would all become British citizens and we should become even more swamped. For that reason we must have the same principles as they have governing them. We are in no way being racial about this; the only practical modern thing to do in a situation where there are vast numbers of travellers and vast numbers of immigrant workers is to go to jus sanguinis.
§ Lord Mishcon
If the Roman Catholic archbishop said after hearing the noble Duke last night that he was confused, having heard his speech this afternoon, I am not surprised. Having said that, I wish to make it perfectly clear that I did not use the phrase "anti-racial" once and I did not accuse anybody, on the Government Benches or anywhere else, of being racist. All I said was that this would produce insecurity. I never accused anybody of doing it deliberately.
§ The Earl of Perth
I came to this debate with an open mind. The only conviction I had was that this was not, or should not be considered, a moral issue, and, having heard a number of noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Home, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Rawlinson, they have confirmed my feeling that it is not, and should not be, a moral issue, whatever may be the feeling of the Churches. I well understand 619 their anxiety—that it is a matter which can be misunderstood and could be interpreted as a racial issue—but I am not convinced that that is the case. What worries me about it is why we are doing it at this moment. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, asked the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, if he would provide some figures. I know the difficulty of figures, but I believe myself that some sort of an estimate is extremely important. I believe in another place they talked about something between 3,000 and 6,000 a year which could possibly cover the numbers. If we assume that the number was 5,000—I accept this is a realm of great uncertainty—that is one in every 10,000.
§ The Earl of Perth
Supposing there is this pool of very large numbers, which is the expression the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, used, over the years, would it not be possible, at the time when that is proved, to limit further our immigration numbers so as to take care of the problem? Or again, if we had figures at that time to prove the case, would it not be possible at that time to introduce a similar Bill in the form it is now? To me the issue really turns on the basis of figures; it is a practical issue and not a moral one. Also, it depends on the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, being able to answer the question: Why not, if things prove to be the worst that he fears, change at that later time the numbers which can come in through immigration?
§ Lord Hylton
I am extremely sensitive to the points made today concerning security and fear. It is for that reason that I wish to point out that the whole of Clause 1 refers to children born after the coming into force of the Bill. The Bill is not retrospective. I should have thought that was quite clear, and I hope that your Lordships will resist this amendment, but, on the other hand, that you will accept Amendments Nos. 12A and 15 which we shall come to later and which will have just a slight softening effect.
§ Lord Hatch of Lusby
I wonder whether your Lordships realise the character that this debate has taken over the last hour or so. We began with a speech from the right reverend Prelate; it was a speech based on the concept of the human being as a human being, and took the issue of nationality right out of the irrelevant subjects of skin colour, racial origin and cultural background. Over the past hour or so, virtually every speech has been based upon the assumption that this Bill is a part of immigration control—and immigration control not because of the numbers of population in this country, as the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, suggested, and not because we are bursting at the seams, but because a new element has grown up in our midst over the past 25 to 30 years, distinguishable by the difference in the colour of their skins.
I think it is a very great pity that we should be debating the Bill in these terms, but to me it is essential to meet the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, and by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Rawlinson of Ewell, and the question 620 which the noble Duke asked: What has jus soli to do with race relations? Very briefly, I should like to make this reply. If it had not been for the immigration by what are euphemistically called the new Commonwealth immigrants, then jus soli would not have been touched. It has been a basic principle of the British constitution and of British citizenship for 700 years. The noble Earl, Lord Perth, asked: Why is it now being attacked and why are the Government trying at least to diminish if not to abolish it? The reason seems perfectly clear and obvious to me, and it was spelt out by the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Rawlinson, and by the noble Duke. What is this crisis we are in? Where are we bursting at the seams? Are we bursting at the seams today to a greater extent than we were 20, 25 or 30 years ago?
§ A noble Lord: Yes!
§ Lord Hatch of Lusby
In fact, there are more people per year who emigrate from this country than who come here as immigrants. What is the difference? Surely the difference can only be that over the past 25 to 30 years a large section of the people who have immigrated into this country have had a differently coloured skin and have come from different cultures, although I must say, with my noble friend Lord Pitt—and I am sure he would bear this out—there are some West Indians who come to this country who are much more British than the British and, in cultural terms, are sustaining the traditions of Britain in a way in which many white British people are not. Nevertheless, surely the history of this country—I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Home, would agree with me in this—is one of mixed cultures, enriching and stimulating each other. Are we now to stop that process? Are we to include in the parochialism which we see on so many sides in different aspects of national life the parochialism of culture? Surely we are being enriched by the ideas, the music and the literature of the West Indies, India, Pakistan and of Africa and surely our culture is being enriched, if we will accept the people who are coming here as human beings and not as skin colours. So where is this crisis? The answer to that question is the answer to the noble Duke: What is the connection between jus soli and race relations? It is that a very high percentage of black people in this country and of all coloured people in this country will believe that jus soli has been undermined because of the colour of the immigrants that have been coming into this country over the past 30 years.
I appeal to Members of the Conservative Party and to Members sitting on the opposite Benches; this is a very deep constitutional issue. You claim to be constitutionalists and to be defenders of the British constitution. Here is a chance to do something in practice to defend a 700-year-old British Constitution which is not threatened by anything today other than by the prejudice of those who dislike seeing people with different coloured skins.
Quite frankly, I should like to see what we saw a few years ago—and I say this deliberately to noble Lords opposite—when one right honourable member was dismissed from the shadow cabinet because he had made a speech that was considered to be racial. 621 What do we have today? We have substituted for that action, phrases such as "swamping" and "the size of the pool". These are now racialist terms, and they raise the fears—rightly so—of what are loosely called the ethnic minorities who are now part of Britain.
I feel privileged to follow the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Liverpool and the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel. Why do I connect them? It is because this morning I was at the other Lord's, and both of the noble Lords opposite have a deep affection for the game of cricket. What happened at the other Lord's this morning? When the English 12th man came on to the field, it was seen that he was a black man, Roland Butcher. He came on bringing the drinks, as 12th man for England. Is there any noble Lord or noble Baroness who objects to that? Is there any noble Lord or noble Baroness who objects to the sight of the number of black footballers who are seen on television screens every Saturday night during the winter? Are they not British? Are we not threatening them, their families, and their children, by Clause 1 of the Bill? I suggest very strongly to noble Lords opposite that they take note of the situation.
Much has been said about the attitude of the Churches. I believe that all the Churches, without exception, have come out, without reservation, against this clause in the Bill. Of course, every member of a Church has a right to dissent from the hierarchy and the leadership. But I know that the Churches have gone into this issue very thoroughly, and they have agonised over it. They have produced their findings unanimously throughout this country. The British Council of Churches and the Catholic Commission for Racial Justice unanimously have come out against Clause 1 of the Bill.
I conclude on this note. Even before that, way back in January, the Churches had something to say on this matter. It was the combined opinion of the Church of England and the Catholic hierarchy of England and Wales. The bishops of both Churches had this to say—and I would not attempt to equal it as a test:Any new nationality law should state as a matter of principle that our national identity is multi-racial, thereby avoiding the potential racial conception of national identity".I believe that this evening we have the chance to put those words into constitutional practice by supporting the amendment so ably moved by the right reverend Prelate.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
I came into this debate with a very open mind and, as some of my noble friends know, with no undue enthusiasm for certain aspects of the Bill. However, having listened to the whole of the argument throughout, I have been convinced that though plainly there are defects in Clause 1 (which I hope the Committee will consider amending by later amendments) I must say, with enormous regret, that the amendment moved by the right reverend Prelate is not good enough and would indeed be damaging in its practical effects.
I rise only to make an appeal, based on what might be the feeling in this respect of other noble Lords, too. 622 To me, as a member of the Church of England, though I hold the lowest official rank in it, that of church warden, it would be a very unhappy thing to have to vote against an amendment moved in the name of the most reverend Primate—a man for whom we all have an enormous regard—and supported by three right reverend Prelates in your Lordships' House. They speak on most matters for the Church to which I have belonged for most of my life, and I should be very unhappy at being forced to vote against their proposal.
I make this appeal to them because I think that it arises from what was said a few moments ago in respect of the Roman Catholic hierarchy by both my noble and learned friend Lord Rawlinson of Ewell and the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk. As I understand it, those two noble Lords, in particular the noble Duke, have spoken to the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and appear to have made some impact—I do not think I misunderstand them—on the previously strong convictions that the Roman Catholic hierarchy had against this measure. At any rate, that is how I understand what has been said. Well, I do not know what impact the debate in this Committee has had on the right reverend Prelates who head my Church. I would suspect that since they are men of tolerance, wide knowledge and sophistication it must have had some impact on them; it must surely have raised in their minds a doubt as to whether they are necessarily right.
If I am correct in that assumption, may I put this suggestion to them? If this evening they press the amendment to a Division, I do not know what will be the result, but if the amendment is defeated, then there will be created the impression that a provision in the law which will create insecurity for certain sections of our population has been confirmed. I believe that all of your Lordships would regret that enormously. Is it not possible at this moment for the right reverend Prelates to say that if they are unconvinced by the argument, they will have another opportunity at the Report stage to put forward their proposition? Can they not say that in the interval they would like to study what has been said in your Lordships' Chamber? Then they could see whether what has been said by laymen of their Church has had on them something of the same impact as apparently what has been said by Roman Catholic laymen to their hierarchy has had on them.
It might be that when the right referend Prelates consider the matter they will still be of the same mind, but are they tonight absolutely certain that they will be of the same mind? Are they so certain that they are prepared to put it to the decision of a Division? If they are successful, the consequence would undoubtedly be to create a state of great confusion in the Bill, while if they fail—as I have already ventured to suggest to them—there would be much anxiety and unhappiness over precisely those people in this country about whom they are most concerned.
So at this late stage of the debate—in which I had not intended to take part—I rise solely to make this point and to ask the right reverend Prelates just to pause before deciding to put this to the touch tonight. If they decide to wait, they will have ample opportunities to reflect on what has been said. With respect, and (as I know they will assume) without impertinence, 623 I beg them to think very hard indeed before they decide to press this amendment tonight.
§ 6 p.m.
§ Lord Walston
I make no apology for detaining your Lordships for a little longer, and I am glad that there are other noble Lords who will be speaking after me, because, as has already been said, this is one of the most important and far-reaching debates that we have had, whether it be as a general debate in your Lordships' House or at Committee stage. I shall not rehearse the moral arguments. We all have the responsibility of making up our own minds as to whether one course of action is more ethical than another, though I say quite frankly now that I go along with the right reverend Prelates and others who have spoken along that line. Neither shall I rehearse the arguments, which have not been deployed to any very great extent, of the sense of history: the fact that the Government are proposing at the present time to abandon something which has been the pride of this country for many centuries.
I shall merely remind your Lordships of what has already been said by my noble friends Lord Aylestone and Lord Hunt, by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Liverpool, by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, and by others, about the effect on race relations. We are at the moment, as we all know far too well, teetering on the edge of really serious racial problems in this country. Many of us, especially those who have been concerned with race relations over a long period, have feared that this would come, and have worked against it. We have failed, and this situation which has been for so long feared is now with us. We have to decide whether the action that we are going to take in the Lobbies today will accentuate the feeling of not belonging, the feeling of rejection, the feeling of hopelessness, which there is among the immigrants in this country, and particularly among the coloured immigrants.
I know that the noble Duke and all of us here realise that this is not a racial proposal. We stand in our isolation but in our security, and we know that if we have problems of any kind we have the right people that we can go to—our friends and the friends of friends—and we shall not be imposed upon. But if you are living in Toxteth, if you are living in Southall, if you have not been in this country for very long, even though you speak the language, even though you play cricket and even though you think of the cultures of this country as being the cultures of that colony in which you were born, in the present atmosphere and in the situations of unemployment, hardship and fear it is asking rather too much to say to those people, "Take the same attitude as we do, sitting on these red leather Benches, and realise that this is not a racial matter".
We must assess this in that light—not in the light of our security but in the light of their insecurity—and we must say to ourselves: Is it worth bringing in this new piece of legislation, which inevitably and indubitably is going to exacerbate the racial situation in which we are today, for the sake of—what? My noble friends have asked that question, and we shall get an answer, I hope. How many undesirable births do we 624 expect to keep out as a result of this provision that the Government are proposing in their legislation? How many people will come to this country, or have already come to this country, simply in order to make use of our old historical right of jus soli? Those are the questions we must have answered; and when they have been answered we must assess whether the risks which we are running in race relations at this present time are justified by the advantages—the indubitable advantages, because the risks are indubitable—from this action.
Coupled with that, there is a minor point that I think it is worth making. The party opposite has many advantages; it has many good points in its policies. One of the points that appeals to me, and I think appeals to most of us, is its desire to minimise bureaucratic intervention; to have people feel free from the gentlemen in Whitehall. This little piece of legislation is in fact going to put a vast number of people—millions of people—under the threat of minor officials. I know it is the Secretary of State who is supposed to make the final decision, but in fact we know perfectly well that it is the people from the immigration officers upwards who actually have the say. Is it consistent—and here I am talking solely to the Members on the Conservative Benches opposite—with Conservative philosophy to increase bureaucracy, to increase the power of the minor civil servants, in order to get some indefinite and, I would suggest, very minor benefit? I hope the right reverend Prelate will not withdraw his amendment.
I have listened to almost every moment of this debate, and I must say that I am more and more confused as the time goes on. We have heard a lot of emotional speeches, too, but the only one which really made sense was the very short speech made by a noble Lord on the opposite side of the Committee, who said that we must realise that Clause 1 deals only with children who are not yet born; it does not deal with anyone who is in this country at the moment. Those children who are not yet born, if they are born to a British citizen or to someone settled in this country, will be British citizens; so where are the millions who are going to be worried by immigration officers, and so forth? They are not here. I cannot see what all this worry is about. I believe this clause is perfectly good, and I propose to support it.
§ Baroness Birk
We are coming towards the end, I think, of a very long debate on this, and there are one or two points that I wanted to pick up without rehearsing so many of the points made by everybody else. I think the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, in a very ingenious speech, was trying to persuade the right reverend Prelates to withdraw their amendment. I am sure he had no intention of implying that they did not know what they were doing, but, quite frankly, I found it slightly offensive. I found it offensive because I believe that four bishops, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, would not put their names to an amendment of this sort without a great deal of thought, a great deal of consideration and a great deal of experience of what is going on in the country.
The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, has, of course, his right to say anything he feels, and I am quite sure his intention was not to cast any aspersions on the right reverend Prelate. Nevertheless, I think 625 it was rather mischievous, and also rather helpful. I think it was mischievous because of the impression it could give (but, of course, nobody here would accept that); I think it was helpful because if—and I do not believe this for one moment—there was any doubt in any of their minds, it would have been completely wiped away by what he said.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
Would the noble Baroness allow me to intervene, as she has referred to me? Is the noble Baroness really suggesting that any of us are so unreasonable and have such closed minds that we must dismiss any possibility that, having listened for some hours to argument on a particular subject, our view may be in some degree modified? If that is her attitude, I despair of her.
§ Baroness Birk
I hope the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, will not despair of me. I will not despair of him, either. If his mind will open a little, maybe I shall convince him the other way; or even convince him to abstain. That would be victory, indeed. Not unnaturally, there has been a great concentration on the Churches and their views on this Bill. I think it has to be said that there are thousands of organisations all over the country who have almost bombarded Members of this House and another place with their views on this Bill. It is not just a question of the Churches, important though they are. It is teachers, universities, community groups, social groups; it is a whole range of people—and from other countries; and not just those black immigrants we are discussing tonight who so often have been brought into the discussion. They are a wide-ranging group of people.
The noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, said that we were the odd man out. She asked why we should not get in step—with Europe, I take it. If we are right and are following our own traditions, there is no reason why we should not be the odd man out. If we are right to hold on to our principle on jus soli—a principle against which the Government so far (and we have yet to hear the Minister) have not been able, in either House, to put up really a strong argument—then there is no reason for going back on something which is part of British life. The noble Lord, Lord Belstead, in his intervention said that for the first time in legislation this has brought about equality of sexes. Equality in a bad cause is not good equality. I do not think that is an argument for the Bill. The main objection to ending jus soli—and this was touched upon by the noble Lord, Lord Spens, when he said that this referred to the thousands of children not yet born—is not based only on the situation of children who will be penalised for their parents' status by not getting citizenship; it is based on a concern for many thousands of children yet unborn who, under this Bill, will be entitled to citizenship but who may find it difficult to establish their right to the satisfaction of the Home Office or will not know how to begin to establish their right. This is the problem, this is the other side of the coin.
The Government attitude seems to be that everyone in the country will be able to keep a filing system covering all aspects of their family life and including updated information on all new legislation. This is not how people live. This is what I think the right 626 reverend Prelates who spoke this afternoon were bringing out all the time. One must not only consider the principle of this clause, which has been gone over thoroughly this afternoon, but one must turn also to the practical implications which were dealt with by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, and others.
Anyone who has been a Minister in a Government knows of the numbers of letters coming in, of the amount of time it takes sending out for information and advice and the time it takes to come back. Most Ministers usually are hassling their staff to find out what has happened to letter "X" or "Y" or "Z". That is bad enough; and when it refers to something a little more remote from people's personal life and security then probably reluctantly it has to be put up with. But when it refers to something as basic as this, to one's own citizenship—which really means one's sense of confidence, of belonging, of knowing who one is—it is an entirely different thing. It is impossible for there to be any rapid and almost-instant system by which anybody with a query will be able to have it answered immediately. In another place, the Minister, Mr. Raison, said in answer to this point that this would rise probably only when people wanted a passport. Should not people know who they are, where they belong, what their citizenship is, even without having to ask for a passport? Why should they be left in this limbo until they need a particular paper in order to go abroad?
This Bill is not appearing in a vacuum. This has been said before but I do not apologise for repeating it. There are already many worries and many insecurities in our society, particularly in our large cities. There have been demands—and there is no point in ignoring it, although fortunately they have been few and far between—for repatriation of certain sections of the community. In such a context, the fear of being without citizenship or the even worse fear that your children may not be citizens or may not be able to prove they are citizens is corrosive of one's own sense of security. It is difficult, I agree, to be able to transmit and transfer oneself into this sort of situation when all of us discussing it are sitting in our seats in fairly comfortable security. I do not believe that either in this House or in another aplace—where the Bill has been through its stages; and we all know a great deal about it—a single convincing argument has been advanced for the Government side. It has all been very intricate and confused. I sympathise with the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk, about this.
The noble Lord, Lord Home, gave an example of Iranian children. Let us say that a few children of Iranian descent became British, are we all going to lose a great deal by that? If a few babies are born to mothers in transit, is it really going to be so damaging to the fabric of our society? People are anxious to acquire British citizenship. It is something worth having and something which a few extra people are not going to harm. They have not done so in the past. As has been said by many of my noble friends behind me and on the Cross-Benches, there is no case against it.
Finally, I would ask the Minister whether he would spell out what administrative arrangements are envisaged. I am not thinking of the broad terms, as spelt out in another place, but exactly how this is 627 going to be worked out. We need to be more specific about it. I do not think there has been any Bill, certainly not within recent memory, that has caused such opposition as has this Bill from so many people, so many quarters, from people of different Churches, religions and different views of life. I think at this point the Government ought to ponder and think, "Are we right?" If the opposition is so much against the Bill—and I am not talking about the official Opposition in this House but of the opposition, the worry and the fears all over the country—I should have thought the Government ought to say "We ought to think again"—and withdraw it.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Lord Drumalbyn
We are really seeking to legislate in this Bill for change. We are legislating because things have changed so greatly since the 1948 Act that it has been recognised that changes are needed in our nationality legisation. I was sorry to hear the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, attributing this Bill to prejudice, to closed minds, to racial prejudice even, on this side of the Committee. Of course, on the principle that Britain has been an open country, is already a multiracial country and was so even before the 1962 rush into this country, he is right. There is no reason to change that at all. Over the centuries people have come there to live and have been absorbed into the British nation. I do not think that it has been sufficiently stressed here that what is actually in the Bill has absolutely no racial connotation whatsoever.
Look at the words that the right reverend Prelate wants to leave out:A person born in the United Kingdom after commencement shall be a British citizen if at the time of the birth his father or mother is—That means a British citizen totally irrespective of colour, totally irrespective of religion, totally irrespective of race. Secondly, it recognises that it takes some time for people who come to this country to become settled. The noble Baroness has spoken as if she thought that people could be naturalised on arrival as immigrants, that there should be no "playing-in", so to speak, at all. But, of course, we all know that that cannot be so. It is not so in any country except possibly in wartime when you are attracting experts to the country.
- (a) a British citizen; or
- (b) settled in the United Kingdom".
What I believe people should accept is that those who are here illegally should not be able to qualify for residence. By the same token, I would have said that their children should not be able to qualify for residence or for citizenship either, until at least they have, so to speak, purged their contempt, and the Bill, as I understand it, makes provision for them to do so.
Those who are pressing for this amendment say that they are doing it in the interests of security and certainty. In the interests of security and certainty we are being asked to condone illegality. I do not believe—and I share the view of my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel—that that would be acceptable to the people, and I suggest to the Committee that condonation might well give rise to violent trouble in this country.
628 Surely, it is right—and the Bill makes provision for this—for those who are settled here and are acceptable as citizens to be made citizens. I agree entirely that there is bound to be an interval of time—and this is what Members of the Committee, I think, accept, and has been made clear enough in another place—between the actual commencement of the Bill, certainly Clause 48 of the Bill, and the time when those who are eligible to be settled are settled in this country.
I do not think it is unreasonable to accept this when we have a great change, such as is contemplated here, which is dictated by the vast change in our circumstances in the world. It has to be accepted that there may be some difficulties of transition. We are legislating for the future, and the provisions in this clause for the future are better than those proposed to replace it. I do not think that I should say anything more and, despite the displeasure of the Committee at my threatening to carry the debate wider, I do not propose to do so. All I say is that I hope very much that people will accept that on the face of it there is absolutely no suggestion of prejudice—racial or otherwise—in this particular clause.
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ Lord Pitt of Hampstead
We are told that we are legislating for change. That is perfectly true. We are changing a code of practice that has existed for seven centuries. It is the duty of those who are advocating the change to show why we should have that change. I am suggesting to the Committee that so far this evening we have not had any case made out as to why there should be a change. The closest we have come to it was the speech by the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk, in which he said that because we are now in Europe, it is likely that a lot of Europeans will be here and their children will be born here and we would not want them to be British. I am paraphrasing him.
We have heard other speakers who suggest that there are a lot of illegal immigrants, and that there are a lot of racketeers. Members of the Committee will remember that I lost my temper a little and I had to challenge the noble and learned Lord, when he mentioned the West Indies and was talking about racketeers. I resented that. The West Indians came here first of all in the war to defend Britain. Some went and worked in the factories. There were two sets of recruitment: one for the services and the other for the factories. Some had children born here.
What happened after the war was that British Government departments went to the Caribbean and recruited people. There was a recruiting station in Bridgetown, Barbados, recruiting for London Transport. You recruited the nurses from the Caribbean. Now I want to tell you—and you know it; the Minister will know it anyway—that the West Indians have been going back for the past few years. West Indians do not come here. The suggestion—and that is why I resented it very much—that there are racketeers in the West Indies arranging passages is false. The West Indians are in fact going back.
The West Indians are accustomed to migrate. They migrated to the States. I used to have a bet with friends of mine that anybody that I met of any prominence in the States had a West Indian parent or grandparents, and I nearly always won. They are 629 accustomed to migrating and they also know when they are not wanted. Therefore, in effect, so far as the West Indies is concerned migration to this country ceased some time ago. The only route is from Britain to the Caribbean. I do not want to continue in that vein, but I was very resentful of the suggestion made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Rawlinson, that there were racketeers in the West Indies getting people on the boats to come here. There are not.
I want to come back to the debate. The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, made a very important point. It is absolutely true, as the Bill stands, that it does not affect anybody living here. But you know of the suggestion from the Department of Health that visitors should pay when they go to hospital. It is not suggested that the people living here should not be treated; but Members of the Committee read the press, and black people when they go to hospital have been asked to show their passports in order to establish the fact that they have the right to free treatment.
It is that sort of thing that creates insecurity, and that is why I was surprised when the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk, suggested that the Bill provides greater security. It does not provide greater security—in fact it provides insecurity. My daughter, Mandy, was born here. She is a British citizen. She has no doubts about that. She is in the United States at the moment, but she knows she is a British citizen because she was born here. I am a little too old now, but presuming that I had another child within the next few years, that child would have to prove that at the time of his or her birth I had a right to be in this country.
This is the whole point; this is what is wrong about the Bill. It has now made children insecure because they have to prove not only that they have a right to be here but that, at the time of their birth, their parents had a right to be here. It is that which creates insecurity. There is no way of getting out of that unless one goes back to jus soli. If the grounds for removing jus soli were strong enough one could understand, and one could look for ways of dealing with these problems. But no one so far has made a solid case for abolishing jus soli, except the fact that we have entered the European Community. It has been mentioned on many occasions that all of Europe uses jus sanguinus. All the countries which have been associated with this country have used jus soli. The United States, Australia, Canada, and all the other countries which have been associated with this country have used jus soli.
Of course there has been a change in attitudes, but one does not turn one's back on the Commonwealth and on everything else except Europe. I have heard that reference to change made lots of times. It may well be so. But if that is so, then let us be sure that when we do make changes we have good solid reasons for making them, and that the difficulties which we create in making those changes are not greater than the gains. I beg your Lordships to accept that the difficulties that we are creating are greater than the gains. We are gaining the minimum. This change would prevent the children of a few illegal immigrants from being British. It is all right to stop illegal immigration, but one should not punish the children. The change would prevent the children of a few foreign students from becoming British citizens, and the children of a few foreign visitors from being British 630 citizens. That is all it would do. That is all there is to gain. On the other hand, one will have created the kind of insecurity which I have described; making certain people feel that this is another turn of the screw—that they are being told that they are not wanted and that neither are their children wanted. There are two sides to the coin. I do ask the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, to think about this.
Are the grounds for abolishing jus soli solid enough? I read the debates which took place in the other place and there was nothing solid there. I was hoping that the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, would give some solid reasons why we should abolish jus soli. He has not done that. Mention has been made of close connections with Britain. There can be nothing closer than being born in Britain. The closest connection I had was with my mother, but she is dead now. The closest connection one has is with the place of one's birth, and therefore all this talk about change being needed for the sake of closer connections is spurious. There may be a good solid argument for abolishing jus soli; but one has to decide whether there are conditions now which make jus soli no longer valuable or which make it something of a handicap.
This point has been made in many speeches, but no facts are ever produced which suggest that jus soli is no longer valuable. If it is not longer valuable then the reasons why should be explained to us. The reasons should be spelt out. Then, speaking personally, I might understand the reasons. But if the facts are not there to support the argument the suggestion is merely a thought. There may be a lot of Europeans living in Britain and it may be that many of their children born here will be British. But the chances are that the children will be German, French, or whatever the nationality of the parents is, because that is what their parents will choose for them. So that will not create a problem. I am still unable to understand why the Government are so determined to abolish this ancient principle. The gains, such as they have been suggested so far, are too minimal to justify a change.
§ 6.36 p.m.
§ Lord Belstead
I am sure that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester would want to draw this debate to a close and, because I have already spoken, I beg leave to comment briefly on one or two of the points which have been made. The first point I should like to make arises from the speech which has just been made by the noble Lord, Lord Pitt. The noble Lord was putting forward the case—very ably and in some detail—that as a matter of principle the move away from jus soli is something which he deplores and believes is wrong. I ask your Lordships' Committee to bear in mind that all our partners in the European Community, with the exception of the Republic of Ireland, have the principle of jus sanguinus. I do not believe it is the case that they are all in error. I am sure the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester would not charge our European neighbours with being in error, and I am sure that the right reverend Prelate, having listened to this debate, will recognise that although we may disagree on many points, a move away from jus soli, as it is reflected in this clause, is not being done without reason.
631 The reason is not very far to see and it has been put forward this afternoon by those with great experience. My noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel and other noble Lords have made the simple point that in the circumstances in which our country finds itself today—increasingly urban, increasingly visited by people who are, of course, welcome—to give the right of abode to anyone who happens to be born here is something which, arguably, is not sensible when one is laying plans for the future. Certainly it is not sensible, arguably, if, as I have always understood, there was an area of common ground—at least between the present Government and the previous one—which was that if we were to overhaul the law of nationality in this country, the cornerstone must be that British citizenship should be conferred on those who had a close and continuing connection with this country, and that that should be the basis of the new citizenship.
The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, asked me, perfectly reasonably, how Clause 1 would work. If I may say so, my noble and learned friend Lord Rawlinson of Ewell really gave the answer very much better than I possibly could, when he said that if we ourselves expected to go go and live in other countries, would we not make it our business to find out what was necessary if we were to take citizenship of that country—not to settle or work there, but to take the citizenship of that country? For the Government, I can only say that we do not see why any great difficulty should arise when a child needs to claim citizenship. In most cases, of course, the parents will do this on behalf of the boy or girl who is concerned, while the child is still a minor. There seems no reason why they should not be able to produce evidence of their citizenship, or, if they are not already British citizens, of their settled status—
§ Baroness Birk
I wonder whether the noble Lord would allow me to intervene for one moment. I do not want to prolong his speech or to make difficulties, but I hope he will accept that that is not an answer to what I said. That is just a series of generalisations.
§ Lord Belstead
If the noble Baroness will let me progress a little further, maybe I can give her more satisfaction in this matter. What I would say absolutely openly to the noble Baroness is that there will, of course, be a difference in the application for a passport. Until now, a birth certificate, and a certificate alone, showing birth in the United Kingdom has been given, although, of course, the application has had to be countersigned, as many of your Lordships will know, probably from having countersigned passport applications. In the future the application form could be perfectly simply designed, so that the parent would give details of his or her own claim to British citizenship, or to settled status in the United Kingdom—because we are talking about alternatives—to the satisfaction of the counter-signatory and then of, course, to the satisfaction of the Foreign Office.
I have been asked from all sides to give details of numbers, as they affect the debate this afternoon. This is the other question that must be replied to on behalf of the Government, and I shall give to your 632 Lordships quite openly the figures that I have. The facts that I have are these. In 1979, between 59,000 and 64,000 children were born in England and Wales—I must apologise to your Lordships for the fact that I do not have the Scottish figures—to parents both of whom were born outside the United Kingdom. As my honourable friend the Minister of State, Mr. Raison, said in another place, you pay your money and take your choice. No one is quite sure exactly how many of those people were citizens or settled here. But if as high a figure as 90 to 95 per cent. of those people were citizens or settled here, that would still leave up to about 6,500 children born here each year to parents who were neither citizens nor settled.
The point goes a good deal further than that, and I think it is this that your Lordships really have a responsibility to take note of. It is that, with easier travel these days, the admissions of foreign nationals have increased enormously. In 1953, about 850,000 people entered the United Kingdom. Two years ago, in 1979, there were nearly 12 million foreign and Commonwealth citizens admitted. The numbers have increased dramatically and so too, I am afraid, have detected illegal entrants, who have increased from just under 1,000 to September two years ago, to something rather in excess of 1,500 in the year ending last September. I simply repeat to your Lordships that on those grounds, which, of course, are not conclusive, we have a responsibility in this House to take note of the trend in framing our nationality law for the future. If I may finally—
§ Lord Avebury
I asked the noble Lord whether he would address his mind to the question of EEC citizens here, who, since the case of Pieck, have been declared not to be subject to a grant of limited leave to remain. So that of these 59,000 to 64,000 children, who were born in the United Kingdom in the year in question, cart the noble Lord say how many were born to EEC citizens and were thus excluded from the number to which this clause would apply?
§ Lord Belstead
No, I am afraid I cannot. I do not have those figures with me. I have an extremely long note on the case of Pieck, but I did not think it would be instrumental in helping noble Lords to decide whether or not they agreed with the right reverend Prelate in this case. The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, made a very important point, as did the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Liverpool. That was the suggestion that Clause 1 is, in some way, racially discriminatory. I was grateful to my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn, who said it was his view that there is no racial connotation at all in the clause or, indeed, in the Bill.
In weighing the view of my noble friend against what has been said from other parts of the Chamber, I ask your Lordships to take account of the fact that Clause 1 will confer citizenship in the future, not only on those who are citizens already, but also on those who are of settled status, in a deliberate and open attempt to try to make it easier for children when they are born to be integrated into the community into which they are born. There is also the fact that this Bill—and we have not yet come to this—goes out of its way, contrary to the practice in many other countries, to make sure that we retain what we believe is the 633 very important principle of dual nationality. So that when people come to this country and are deciding: "Shall I go for British citizenship or shall I not?" there will be no suggestion that, by having the citizenship of this country, the citizenship of their former country will be wrested from them.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Liverpool said that those who are settled here view this Bill with apprehension. I hope that the right reverend Prelate will forgive me if I join with my noble friend the Duke of Norfolk in saying that apprehensions over this Bill can and should be dispelled. I think that it is the responsibility of all leaders in our society to make known the facts of the Bill, in what I realise is a very complex area of the law: that the Bill will, for the first time, give rights of both acquiring and transmitting citizenship to women and to men alike; that this is a Bill which gives rights to transmit citizenship, without any discrimination between people who are born in this country and those who have acquired their citizenship of this country by coming here after birth; that the provisions of Clause 1, which the amendment would reverse, are far more open and easy than the arrangements which are made in the developed countries of the European Community; and that, for the first time, this is a Bill which will enable the vast majority of the people in this country to say: "We are British citizens, and it is a status which gives us the right of abode". I suggest to the Committee that those are grounds for making known what really is in the Bill, so that people will understand and will feel more secure. Those are not grounds for ripping out Clause 1 of this Bill, which would be the effect of this amendment.
§ 6.48 p.m.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester
My Lords, I think noble Lords have recognised that it is only very rarely that we on these Benches venture into the more detailed discussion of legislation, mainly because our duties do not allow us to be here sufficiently regularly to do so. So I ask noble Lords to believe that it is in no sense unadvisedly, lightly or wantonly that the most reverend Primate and the other three of us have put down this amendment but because of the deep concern that has been expressed to us, not only by the clergy but by many lay people of the congregations throughout the land.
I should like to make it quite clear, however, that none of us on these Benches would claim to be the sole spokesman for the Christian community. Bishops speak only for themselves, like every other Member of this House, although, like other Members, we sometimes claim to have a measure of support both within the House and without it. So I hope the noble Lord, Lord Home, will accept that we gratefully and very respectfully listened to his views, as we listened to those of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Rawlinson, to those of the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk, and to those of all other lay members of the Christian churches who, with us, share the responsibility of the priesthood of all believers.
The responsibility which those of us who are bishops carry, be we Anglican or Roman Catholic, is for the pastoral care of clergy and lay people living in this country now, in 1981, in this country with its long 634 heritage and with its immediate past history. Deep concern was made known to us in many places long before today. I assure the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, that representatives of all the denominations have had the opportunity to discuss the Bill with representatives of the Government. Indeed, the Roman Catholic Commission on Racial Justice circulated without comment the reply which Mr. Timothy Raison made to the Roman Catholic representations. And the Roman Catholic hierarchy were first in the field in the declaration of their nine principles in 1979. In a very real sense the rest of us have followed their lead.
Our hope in putting down this amendment was to seek reassurance on behalf of those who are anxious and fearful. I have listened with great respect, as Bishops always do to churchwardens, to the appeal made to me by the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter. I do not feel able to say to the Committee that I think I should deny it the opportunity of expressing its view and, I hope, giving the reassurance which we seek by this amendment.
§ 6.51 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 2) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 92; Not-Contents, 134.635
|Ardwick, L.||Jacques, L.|
|Avebury, L.||Janner, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Jeger, B.|
|Bacon, B.||Jenkins of Putney, L.|
|Banks, L.||Kaldor, L.|
|Beaumont of Whitley, L.||Kilbracken, L.|
|Beswick, L.||Kilmarnock, L.|
|Birk, B.||Lee of Newton, L.|
|Bishopston, L.||Liverpool, Bp. [Teller.]|
|Blease, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.|
|Boothby, L.||Longford, E.|
|Bowden, L.||Lovell-Davis, L.|
|Briginshaw, L.||McCarthy, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Mishcon, L.|
|Brooks of Tremorfa, L.||Molloy, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Noel-Baker, L.|
|Canterbury, Abp.||Northfield, L.|
|Chitnis, L.||Oram, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Peart, L.|
|Collison, L.||Perry of Walton, L.|
|Darling of Hillsborough, L.||Perth, E.|
|David, B.||Phillips, B.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Eldon, E.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Rathcreedan, L.|
|Ewart-Biggs, B.||Rhodes, L.|
|Feversham, L.||Rochester, Bp. [Teller.]|
|Fisher of Rednal, B.||Rochester, L.|
|Foot, L.||Scanlon, L.|
|Fulton, L.||Southwell, Bp.|
|Gaitskell, B.||Stewart of Alvechurch, B.|
|Gardiner, L.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Garner, L.||Stone, L.|
|Gifford, L.||Taylor of Gryfe, L.|
|Glenamara, L.||Thurso, V.|
|Gregson, L.||Tordoff, L.|
|Guildford, Bp.||Truro, Bp.|
|Hale, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Hanworth, V.||Wade, L.|
|Hatch of Lusby, L.||Walston, L.|
|Hughes, L.||Wedderburn of Charlton, L.|
|Whaddon, L.||Winchester, Bp.|
|Wigoder, L.||Winstanley, L.|
|Wilson of Langside, L.||Winterbottom, L.|
|Wilson of Radcliffe, L.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
|Abinger, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Airey of Abingdon, B.||Lyell, L.|
|Allerton, L.||McFadzean, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Mackay of Clashfern, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Mackintosh of Halifax, V.|
|Avon, E.||Macleod of Borve, B.|
|Bellwin, L.||Marley, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.|
|Bessborough, E.||Merrivale, L.|
|Birdwood, L.||Mersey, V.|
|Boyd of Merton, V.||Monson, L.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, L.||Mottistone, L.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Murton of Lindisfarne, L.|
|Campbell of Alloway, L.||Nathan, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Noel-Buxton, L.|
|Clifford of Chudleigh, L.||Norfolk, D.|
|Cockfield, L.||Northchurch, B.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Colwyn, L.||Nunburnholme, L.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Onslow, E.|
|Craigavon, V.||Orkney, E.|
|Craigmyle, L.||Orr-Ewing, L.|
|Crathorne, L.||Pender, L.|
|Crawshaw, L.||Penrhyn, L.|
|Croft, L.||Platt of Writtle, B.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Portland, D.|
|Davidson, V.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Rawlinson of Ewell, L.|
|Dilhorne, V.||Redesdale, L.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Renton, L.|
|Eccles, V.||Richardson, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Rochdale, V.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Romney, E.|
|Elton, L.||Rugby, L.|
|Faithfull, B.||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Falkland, V.||Sailsbury, M.|
|Falmouth, V.||Sandford, L.|
|Ferrers, E.||Sandys, L. [Teller.]|
|Ferrier, L.||Savile, L.|
|Fraser of Kilmorack, L.||Shannon, E.|
|Gage, V.||Sharples, B.|
|Gainford, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Geddes, L.||Soames, L.|
|Glasgow, E.||Spens, L.|
|Greenway, L.||Stamp, L.|
|Gridley, L.||Stodart of Leaston, L.|
|Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Henley, L.||Strathspey, L.|
|Home of the Hirsel, L.||Swinfen, L.|
|Hornsby-Smith, B.||Terrington, L.|
|Hylton, L.||Thomas of Swynnerton, L.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Thurlow, L.|
|Inglewood, L.||Tollemache, L.|
|Ironside, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Kemsley, V.||Trenchard, V.|
|Killearn, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Kilmany, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Kinloss, Ly.||Vickers, B.|
|Kinnaird, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Kinross, L.||Wakefield of Kendal, L.|
|Lauderdale, E.||Westbury, L.|
|Lawrence, L.||Windlesham, L.|
|Lindsey and Abingdon, E.||Wynford, L.|
|Long, V.||Yarborough, E.|
|Loudoun, C.||Young, B.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.636
§ Lord Skelmersdale
I think this is probably an appropriate moment to resume the House in order to take other business during the dinner hour, which will last until eight o'clock. I beg to move.
§ Moved accordingly and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House resumed.