HL Deb 20 July 1982 vol 433 cc821-43

7.27 p.m.

Lord Bruce of Donington rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will explain the circumstances in which it became necessary to remove from this country on the 6th June last a Canadian, Miss Lilli Luczak, who had been resident in London for nearly nine years; who has had to leave in this country her six-year old daughter—a British citizen thoroughly integrated in her locality; who was no charge on public funds—having secure employment and her own rented accommodation with her own furniture and effects; and whether they will, on compassionate grounds, admit Miss Luczak as an immigrant into this country so that she may be reunited with her daughter and so that they may resume their family life together within the neighbourly environment in which they had successfully established themselves.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper which in the interests of saving time I will not read again to the House. Before I commence I would like to apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Elton, for having put this Question down on a day which has already been very crowded for him and which is between two days of very arduous duties. The only defence I would offer is that, owing to a mishap in the other place, due itself to a crisis in the Falkland Islands, a Notice of Motion was not put down there, and such emergency action that I have felt compelled to take could not be indefinitely delayed.

May I also ask the indulgence of your Lordships in presenting this case, which in many ways will be a dull recitation of facts. I have chosen to present it in that way because it is my conviction that the facts will speak for themselves and suggest the solutions, not only to the noble Lord opposite but also to your Lordships. I am particularly grateful that the right reverend Prelate has been able to attend this evening in spite of his very arduous duties. I can assure him that his presence is particularly welcome on such an occasion as this.

I first met Lilli Luczak on the 6th June, the first and only time I was able to see her. I went out to her little flat in Islington at 8.30 in the morning on the very day that she was due to be removed from this country. I thought it wise to do this because it is always a good thing to be able to see and talk with the individual on behalf of whom one is seeking to obtain redress. I was shown into the flat; I saw the small suitcases that contained the sole possessions that she was able to take across to Canada after nearly nine years' residence in this country.

I was able to see her flat, which was tastefully, if modestly, furnished. I was able to see the little potted plants that she had to leave behind her and the various other items to which she had some personal attachment that were obviously part of an integrated home. I am bound to say that I felt a little distressed. In so saying I am not in any way implying that the noble Lord opposite or his right honourable friend would take any different view from myself, or that they are any less compassionate or less understanding than I try to be. Nevertheless, I received a useful impression.

While I was there I was particularly touched by the fact that every now and again the front door bell would ring and quite a number of people turned up with little parting presents for her. Some of them were a little tearful. The only person who was not tearful was Lilli Luczak herself, who was a young lady of some 29 years of age of very modest mien, quite matter of fact, a person who I thought was eminently sensible and a person from whom, as it became necessary for me, I could obtain truthful answers to the questions that I felt bound to put to her. At the same time I collected a number of documents which it has taken me many hours, as the noble Lord will appreciate, to examine and evaluate, and, indeed, to compare with some of the correspondence that has emanated from Ministers in the Home Office.

I must tell the noble Lord at the outset that when I recount the facts that I am about to recount to the House, I have full documentation in my possession and I can produce in respect of every fact that I assert, a document—an authentic document—of some kind or another: either a letter or evidence given by the Home Office to the tribunals; the proceedings of the tribunals; the judgments of the tribunals and the reports that various people have thought fit to make. I have them all. There are one or two parts where I cannot prove a negative, and there are one or two parts as regards which I think that a little later there will be some conflict—I hope not too much—between the noble Lord and myself.

Miss Luczak was born on 14th August 1953. She is now nearly 29 years old. She arrived in the United Kingdom on 7th July 1973 and was granted leave to enter for a period of six months. On 16th January 1974, Miss Luczak wrote to the Home Office requesting permission to remain in the United Kingdom and to take up employment. She was, I believe, at the time employed as a copy typist with a firm called the Bronester Group and she wished to remain in employment until she was in a financial position to continue her travels.

In August 1974, she met a Mr. Walker, who had separated from his wife some four months before, and she struck up an association with him. Mr. Walker was not a person of very great substance. The Home Office provided figures for his income at the relevant times. It varies between £50 and some £80 or £90 a week according to the timing that is given. I repeat: she commenced an association with Mr. Walker. This, so far as I can see, is the only lapse from conventional moral standards that I can detect in the whole of the history of Miss Luczak, even in this modern age. As your Lordships will know, ironically enough it was the moral lapse, and its continuation, that enabled the Home Office to be able to grant her permission to continue to stay. That is a considerable irony. It is not one for which I am attributing any kind of blame to the Home Office. It is the way in which the rules run, as indeed I shall show.

In late 1974 she was granted an extension of stay as a working holidaymaker until 7th January 1975. This was subsequently extended to 7th January 1976. In October 1975 she went to live with Mr. Walker and they cohabited together, and for some time thereafter she came to be regarded as his common law wife. On 18th December 1975 her daughter, Jessica, of whom I hope to be able to talk a little more later, was born. She is now six-and-a-half years old. On 18th January 1976, Miss Luczak wrote to the Home Office requesting that her leave be varied so as to permit her to reside permanently in the United Kingdom. She informed them that she had a child; that she was unemployed and that she was living with Mr. Walker at that time at 145 Southfleet, London N.W.5.

On 31st March 1976, the Home Office replied permitting her to remain in the United Kingdom until 7th January 1977 in view of her association with Mr. Walker. On 26th October 1976 Miss Luczak wrote to the Home Office to ask for extended leave in the United Kingdom for a minimum of 18 months as of 7th January 1977, and she enclosed her passport. On 20th December 1976 the Home Office wrote asking her whether she was still living with Mr. Walker and also to provide an itemised bank statement to show that she could support herself. On 14th January 1977 Miss Luczak replied saying that she was still with Mr. Walker, and she sent a letter from the Abbey National Building Society indicating £146.74 to the credit of her account and making some jocular remark that it was a bit after Christmas and her bank was a little low at the time.

On 28th March 1977 she was interviewed at the Home Office together with Mr. Walker. They were interviewed separately. On 28th April 1977 there was a letter from Miss Luczak to the Home Office enclosing a letter from Toshiba Limited who had offered her a job as a credit controller at a salary of £2,500 per annum. On 16th August 1977 she received a Home Office letter refusing her application of 20th October 1976 on the grounds that they were not satisfied that Mr. Walker could keep her and secondly, that the Department of Employment had refused to issue a work permit. Nevertheless, they extended her stay until 13th September 1977. On 23rd August 1977 Miss Luczak appealed against the decision. There was then a silence for one year.

On 5th September 1978 the appeal was heard, and on 6th September 1978 the case was adjudicated. I have a copy of the adjudication here, with which I shall not bother the House, but I do not think that the noble Lord will disagree with me if I paraphrase it to the effect that the adjudicator found that the Home Office was right on the position that they had taken up on employment—that she was not entitled to remain because the Department of Employment had not approved her employer—but that they were wrong on the facts concerning Mr. Walker's ability to support Miss Luczak. Even though—and it is in the adjudication—they found wrong on one point and right on another, the adjudication as a whole had to refuse her appeal. At the same time they added a rider to the judgment, saying that this was a case in which the Secretary of State could properly exercise his discretion outside the immigration rules.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants—to which I shall refer in future as the JCWI—appealed on Miss Luczak's behalf. But on 14th November 1978 the Home Office wrote to JCWI saying that they were prepared to grant Lilli Luczak further leave to remain and asking JCWI to withdraw the appeal. This they did. In their letter that they sent to Mr. John Grant, M.P., who at this stage had taken up the case of Miss Luczak, they said: We appealed against this and were granted leave to go to the tribunal. However, on 14th November, 1978 the Home Office wrote to us saying that they were prepared to grant Miss Luczak further leave to remain and asked us to withdraw the appeal. It appears that we agreed to do this without checking whether the Home Office was proposing to allow her to stay permanently, which was what the adjudicator recommended. In the event, the Home Office, in fact, allowed her to remain, but for a period, until 23rd April 1980, and at the same time they returned her passport. This was by letter dated 1st May.

In the meantime, on 21st April 1979 Miss Luczak—we are now six years after her original entry—wrote to the Home Office to say that her relationship with Mr. Walker had ended. This, in view of the grounds upon which she was granted permission to stay would, I suggest, commend itself to your Lordships as being commendable frankness. The moment that she ceased her relationship with Mr. Walker—notwithstanding that she knew perfectly well that her association with Mr. Walker was one of the reasons why she was allowed to stay—she nevertheless wrote to the Home Office informing them of this, at the same time requesting permission to remain in this country and to take up employment.

Then there followed some correspondence between herself and Mr. John Grant, and also between the Home Office and Mr. Grant, at which eventually an interview with Miss Luczak was arranged for 29th July 1980. On 21st August 1980 there was a letter addressed to Mr. Grant from Mr. Timothy Raison, refusing permission on the grounds—they are quite specific and I have the letter—that she had ceased to cohabit with Mr. Walker and, as a consequence, there were no further compassionate grounds on which Miss Luczak could be permitted to remain in the country.

On 4th September 1980 there was a letter from the Home Office addressed to Miss Luczak notifying her of the refusal of the application that she had made to reside in this country, but giving her the right of appeal and informing her that she could stay until 2nd October 1980. Miss Luczak appealed. Then, on 12th September 1980, there was a letter from the Home Office to Miss Luczak acknowledging the appeal and saying that the appellant was not required to leave pending the appeal. That was the last letter that Miss Luczak had from the Home Office. It was addressed to her personally at that time at her place of residence at 53 Radford House, N.7.

In June 1981—we are now moving on; there was no communication after that—Miss Luczak moved to 2 Rainford House, Islington and notified the Home Office. Here we are at some point of difference, and I must admit straight away that I have no documentary evidence that she notified the Home Office. I believe the position of the Home Office is that they never received it. This may be one of those unfortunate mishaps. Any visitor to Lunar House must know what a vast establishment that is and what volume of correspondence they receive daily. The Post Office, in spite of its modern efficiency, has never guaranteed to deliver every letter. Perhaps it was one of those mishaps. But in any event, she has told me—and I believe her because it explains a number of other things that subsequently emerged—that she notified the Home Office. She heard nothing more from the Home Office itself until 3rd January 1982, under circumstances of which your Lordships are already aware, when she re-entered the country in circumstances that I shall presently explain.

In the meantime—and I am still back in 1980, not in 1982—the JCWI received a notice of hearing from the tribunal that the appeal in her case would be heard, and they tried to contact Miss Luczak at the only address they knew, because unfortunately Miss Luczak had not notified the JCWI that she had moved. Accordingly, on 5th October 1981 the hearing of the appeal took place in the absence of both Miss Luczak and the JCWI, who of course had no instructions from Miss Luczak, with whom they could not get in touch.

On 6th October the determination was sent by the tribunal to the JCWI who, as I have said, did not have Miss Luczak's address to send it on to her. I confirmed these facts by telephone conversations only yesterday with both the tribunal and the JCWI, and reference to them will indicate that that is the situation. Although the acknowledgment of the appeal had been sent by the Home Secretary to Miss Luczak personally, she did not receive notification, she did not know of the hearing and she did not know of the determination. The first time that the determination has been seen by anyone interested in her affairs other than the JCWI was by myself when Mr. Timothy Raison was good enough to send it from his office to me on 13th July last.

So the appeal was decided and the determination made in the absence of one Miss Luczak and those who had previously represented her. I do not seek to blame the Home Office for that in any way. It is not their responsibility. However, I should have thought that some effort might have been made to trace her at that time. In December 1981 Miss Luczak visited Germany for her grandmother's funeral and returned on 3rd January, when she was detained at Heathrow.

There is another version of this to which I would desire to draw your Lordship' attention. That is contained in the letter addressed by Mr. Whitelaw, on 28th April 1982, to Mr. Roy Hattersley in reply to his letter. It says this: Miss Luczak appealed against the decision to an independent adjudicator but her appeal was dismissed on 6th October 1981 and she did not seek further leave to appeal to the tribunal". That is a quotation from Mr. Whitelaw's letter. He did not mention, obviously for reasons of economy of expression, the fact she had never had notice of the appeal and has not given evidence in the event. But that was the position.

He then went on to say: We wrote to her on 26th November advising her to make immediate arrangements to leave the country and she embarked with her child on 26th December". Then quite clearly the Home Secretary thought that Miss Luczak's visit to Germany for the purpose of attending the funeral of her grandmother was in response to a letter addressed to her by the Home Office on 26th October advising her to make immediate arrangements to leave. It was nothing of the kind. She did not receive the letter on 26th November, and presum- ably the Home Office had not got the address to which to send it anyway. Be that as it may, she did not receive it. She had heard nothing for well over a year since her appeal. She did not know what was happening, and delays were quite long on the basis of previous experience. Can it be imagined that Miss Luczak would have left the country if she had thought for one moment that she was in the slightest peril if she returned approximately a week later? It really does not make sense. But in the event this is precisely what occurred.

I have already detained your Lordships far too long on this. I will conclude by saying, without drawing the morals from this, that of course the grounds on which she was ultimately expelled were not the grounds of the refusal of the original appeal but the grounds of the new legal situation in which she had put herself by, according to the immigration authorities, entering the country illegally, which put her in a totally different position. The rest of it follows. I think there has been a genuine mistake here. I think that Mr. Whitelaw really did think that when Miss Luczak went away it was in obedience to the instructions to leave. I invite your Lordships on the basis of the information available to me to think to the contrary.

I now come to the position of the child, and I shall leave it to others to deal with this aspect of the matter. The daughter, Jessica, is now six and a half. She is attending a school in Islington where she is reckoned by the governing body, from whom I have received a communication, to be an extraordinarily bright child. I have received other information, too, that points to the quite disastrous effect that the departure of her mother has had. It can of course be argued—and indeed the noble Lord's department was kind enough, if indeed that is the word, to point out—that on Miss Luczak's departure on 6th June she could of course take her daughter with her, and that her fare would be paid. They fully expected the daughter to go with the mother.

I shall make the respectful assertion, in which I trust I shall be sustained by your Lordships, that the child is a British citizen, beginning to assimilate the British ethos, has her own school friends, has already made her own life, and the supposition that the child must travel with the mother wherever she goes, and whatever the hazards, is really a way of deporting the child. It is a kind of moral blackmail. I do not use that term offensively in the sense of the noble Lord or his right honourable friend the Home Secretary. In the words of Mark Antony, they are all honourable men. But I am suggesting that a different solution might have been reached in this particular case had these various mishaps—and I am not putting them any higher than mishaps—not occurred.

I have no party political points to make in this at all, save to remind the noble Lord opposite that the preservation of family life is one of the leading planks put forward as an integral part of Tory philosophy. It is no part of the Tory philosophy, as I am given to understand it, to break up families. I have much more information, including letters from people who know them both; pathetic letters from Miss Luczak herself; observations that have been made by the child that could only be, I suppose, calculated to make your Lordships feel a little more sentimental and compassionate about it than you might otherwise have felt. I will spare your Lordships those quotations, which I can assure the House moved me very deeply.

I hope that in the event, and as a way of correcting the situation, this girl, now a young woman aged 29, who has led a very respectable life in this country, who is a non-smoker and a non-drinker, who has shown that she can sustain herself—her last salary was £5,000 a year—will be allowed to come into this country, and a way will be found to permit her to apply for immigration from Canada to here so that she may rejoin her daughter and play a full part in the development of the child's life, in realisation of some of her own dreams—and all of us are allowed to have dreams—for this will ensure that she can be part of British society again.

7.58 p.m.

The Earl of Longford

My Lords, there was an occasion when the famous orator Edmund Burke dealt with a subject so eloquently that when he sat down the next speaker—who I think was Oliver Goldsmith, but the noble Lord, Lord Elton, might correct me was content to remark, "I say 'ditto' to Mr. Burke". That is my position tonight. I say ditto. I am proud to say ditto to the noble Lord, Lord Bruce. I promised to rise to my feet to support him but I assure the House that I am only going to detain noble Lords for a moment or two.

The noble Lord has brought out not just the facts but the arguments with great eloquence and power of feeling. Personally, I do not think there is anything I can add, except to express the hope that the noble Lord, Lord Elton, has not come down with a cast iron brief. I have been in his position in past times often enough, and I am aware that in dealing with an Unstarred Question the Minister is able to deliver the last word and then, so to speak, make a quick getaway before anybody can cope with his arguments. No one has the right, in fact, to cope with them on the Floor of the House. But that would not be a very satisfactory victory, and it would not be one that would appeal to the noble Lord, nor is it one that would appeal to the House.

The most I can hope for, but I do hope for this very much, is that the noble Lord, Lord Elton, has some flexibility available to him. The noble Lord will set out the Government's case, but, in view of all the misunderstandings that have been explained and the strong compassionate appeal that has been made, I hope that he will at least say that he will look at the matter again, if he cannot entirely agree with my noble friend Lord Bruce tonight.

8.0 p.m.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, I wish at the outset to echo the words of my noble friend Lord Bruce that the object of this Unstarred Question is to persuade, not attack, the Government, and I hope that nothing I say will be taken as an attack on them. This kind of case, which is very much an individual one—the case of an individual person—must be dealt with often outside regulations, and it is evident from the details that have been given by my noble friend that that is the way in which this case was dealt with until very recently.

I also echo my noble friend's words in his appeal to the party opposite to recall the many occasions on which they have lauded the value of family life. We are talking here about the life of a family; it may be a one-parent family but that does not make it any less of a family, and the decision of the Government in this case affects the family, mother and child, and I would put my emphasis, as did my noble friend, on the future of the child.

Like my noble friend, I wish to add my welcome to the fact that the right reverend Prelate has spared time to sit through this debate. I would like to tempt him to speak in it, and I have perhaps a little right to do so, living within his diocese and having had one of his predecessor's as my college chaplain. The fact that he is here is of importance, and I regard it of importance to the case that has been made because of the vital nature of the family aspect of the whole of the case. There is also the need to regard the future of the child and mother as of greater importance to the Government than an absolute following of the details of rules and regulations, because this is an unusual, if not unique, case.

I wish to ask a few questions of the Government and then to make an appeal to them. My first question deals with accountability to Parliament. My noble friend Lord Bruce appealed to the Prime Minister to postpone the deportation of Miss Luczak on the grounds that he had already tabled this Unstarred Question and that the deportation would take place the day before Parliament reassembled, so that there would be no possibility of parliamentary debate. I am attributing no evil motives to the Government, but it is unfortunate that the deportation took place on the day before Parliament reassembled. There was therefore no opportunity for Parliament to question the Government and hear the details of the case before the lady was actually deported. Do the Government not consider that it would have been wiser and more in keeping with parliamentary accountability to have postponed her deportation until the Question had been raised in Parliament and that the deportation at least could have been left pending this debate?

I wish, secondly, to question the Government on a point which has been raised, at least obliquely, by my noble friend. Is it not extraordinary that this lady's claim to remain domiciled in this country apparently depended on her cohabitation with some man in this country? I hope the Minister will correct me if I am wrong, but so far as I can discover, Miss Luczak was entitled to remain domiciled in this country only if she cohabited with some British male. For a time she did so and apparently was undisturbed. It would seem that the reason for the deportation was not any misdemeanour on her part, no inability to keep herself, no question of a charge on public funds, but simply because her cohabitation with this man came to an end. That seems to be an extraordinary way to conduct immigration policy.

Another condition which appears to have been laid on her continued domicile her—I am sure the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—was that she had to be dependent on this man, presumably financially, because the department was looking at his ability to keep her. But when she was able to keep herself, the department then said, "No, you have broken with this man". At one time they said, "This man cannot keep you", but now they said, "Whether or not you can keep yourself is not the issue. Even though you have proved that you are able to maintain yourself and your daughter, we are still deporting you". Is that not also an extraordinary way of exercising the immigration regulations?

Finally I come to the appeal to the Government. It has been said by the Secretary of State that this lady could have been allowed to remain in this country only on compassionate grounds, and that his department was unable to discover such grounds. I think that this House could discover them. I do not think that this House would find any difficulty whatever in discovering such compassionate grounds. Here is a young woman who has lived here from the age of 20 to the age of 29. She has worked here, and has never been a charge on the state. She has borne a child here and has brought up the child, who has been integrated into not only the country, but also the locality. The child goes to a local school and has friends. All her friends are local people in the Islington area. I know that there is in the possession of my noble friend a letter from the governors of the school which the child attends. Attempts are made by neighbours and friends to rally round this young woman, so that she can remain here, despite the actions of the department.

Those, my Lords, are compassionate grounds. What is the choice with which she is left? On the one hand she is left with the choice of uprooting the child, at the very impressionable age of six or seven years, from all her friends, from the environment that she has known, from all her emotional ties—uprooting her, and taking her to a country of which she has no knowledge. In that country by now her mother will have no friends, and will have to look for new employment. Alternatively, there is the choice that this young woman eventually did make with, I am certain, a great deal of agony—the choice of allowing herself to be deported, but of so valuing the environment in which her daughter had been brought up that she left her behind under the care of foster parents.

Are not those compassionate grounds? Are they not grounds for the maintenance of a family unit? Are they not the kind of grounds as regards which our country has long prided itself in its concern for mothers and children? I echo, and support without reservation, the plea made by my noble friend Lord Bruce that there are here compassionate grounds now to admit Miss Luczak back from Canada as an immigrant into this country, so that she may be reunited with her daughter, and so as to restore the family fabric which so far has been cracked, but which will be totally broken if the situation is allowed to continue. She should be allowed to resume her place in the neighbourly environment in which she and her daughter have been living.

8.15 p.m.

Lord Molloy

My Lords, I rise primarily to make a plea to the noble Lord, Lord Elton. I shall not deal too greatly with the details of the case. I can well understand that more than likely the noble Lord has received a briefing from the civil servants at the Home Office, and it is right that they should inform him as to how the law stands. It is also the noble Lord's responsibility to take full cognisance of the material that the civil servants have provided for him. It is equally his responsibility not to have to jump every hurdle, nor listen to every submission made to him by civil servants.

I speak with some experience. I can remember—I recall this merely to illustrate to your Lordships the point that I am making—my time as leader of Fulham Borough Council about 30 years ago. We were engaged in trying to destroy the many slums of the borough. Children lived two or three to a room, with only one water closet outside, at the back of the building. A lady came to see me to complain. Her husband was an artisan. He was an honest man, she was a decent woman, with a number of children. It was in the year 1953–54, and she was becoming sick and tired of rats biting her children when they were in bed. She made a remark that I shall remember all my life. I was then Mr. Molloy, and she said, "Councillor, I live about eight miles from Parliament, and seven miles from Buckingham Palace, and these are the conditions under which I live".

It was a terrible situation. I remember the names of the streets—and I think that your Lordships will understand the point that I am making when later I come to the appeal that I am to make to the noble Lord, Lord Elton. The streets were: Balaclava Street, Inkerman Street, Nelson Street, Fleet Street. At one time the houses had been the homes of the wealthy middle class, but in the time of which I speak the working classes were crowded in, living in abject misery. We decided that we ought to pull down the stinking lot and build new homes. Then came the problem: to whom do we allocate the new homes? We worked out a system. When we tried to allocate who should first have the houses local government officers said, "According to the agreement passed in council Mrs. A has so many points over Mrs, B" Had we left it at that, it would have been very easy; those were the rules and regulations. Mrs. and Mr. A and their kids had an advantage over Mr. and Mrs. B and their kids.

Well, as was my wont, I did not leave the matter with the local government officers. I went to see Mrs. A with her three or four children. She complained that one child, in its cradle, was being harrassed by rats, eight miles from this Chamber. I had a look at the condition of the children. Nothing in the local government officer's report had told me, for example, that one child was blind. There was nothing in the regulations about that. Officials had asked merely how many children were there. There was nothing in the regulations which would help discover how many children were blind, how many were crippled, or whether Mrs. A had children who were not blind or were not crippled. I found out by being a very exacting councillor.

The lesson that I learnt was that the local government officers had a responsibility to supply me with information. It was my responsibility to realise that that information was restricted by the tight regulations and the council's decisions. I decided that humanity must come in as well. Those who oppose me will refer to the law of the land and the regulations of the realm, and will say that in no way can compassion or humanity cross those lines. That is what we are going to decide tonight. It would be far better if in our churches and chapels we preach that we do not really believe in compassion and humanity, because the law is there to put blinkers on us when we look at each individual case. If we do that, at least we shall not be hypocrites: if we try to get the best of both worlds and apologise, we are.

I discovered that the same thing applied when I became a Member of the other place. There were rules and regulations, and, quite rightly, civil servants briefed their Ministers, as is their duty and their responsibility, as to precisely what the law is. If I may say so with great humility, any outside utterances such as one might find in the New Testament do not come into it. I said, "No, this is not so; wherever I speak, this will not be so". I had further experience of this in the Council of Europe, particularly when I was responsible for moving the principle of reciprocity in our National Health Service, which resulted in nine or 10 other countries coming to join us, so that if our citizens were ill in their country then they would do their best to give them succour and aid and the best of medical treatment, and we would do the same for their citizens here.

My appeal to Lord Elton is simply this. It would be wrong of us to expect him to make a decision absolutely in our favour, particularly after the superb exposition in detail given by my noble friend Lord Bruce of Donington. That is why I have not covered the ground that he covered in his speech. I will be quite frank with the House, my Lords. My noble friend Lord Bruce and I have discussed and examined this case. I do not wish to shelter behind anything, and when I listened to him tonight I recognised time and time again the arguments that he was submitting.

I say this to your Lordships. Is it not at least a mark of credit to the parliamentary system of this country that one woman and her child can command the attention of this noble House? That in itself, I believe, is a mark of great credit. But we must not be tempted to think that that is enough. We have listened, and there has been an examination and there has been a debate; but nothing that has been said on these Benches, particularly the detailed analysis that was submitted by my noble friend Lord Bruce of Donington, matters if nothing is done. An airing has been given to this matter, but it will not make the slightest bit of difference if we do nothing because then, what I have just said about the grandeur and the honour of our parliamentary system, that one woman and her 6½ year-old child can command the attention of this Chamber, will in itself be an hypocrisy if there is no real ground in the submissions that have been made for examining the situation again.

In view of what my noble friend Lord Bruce of Donington has said, can we now afford to say, not so much, "Suffer little children to come unto me", but, in this realm of the United Kingdom, "Suffer one woman to return to give succour to the child which she bore"? That child is as British as my daughter; she is as British as the daughter of any Falkland islander; and she is as British as any 6½ year-old child born in this realm. That is the situation, and so I appeal to Lord Elton. As I have said, I do not expect him—it would be grossly unfair to do so—to go to the Dispatch Box and say that he, speaking on behalf of his honourable friend the Home Secretary, has been completely converted to the case put by my noble friend Lord Bruce of Donington, to the speech of my noble friend behind me and to those that I hope will follow. That would be asking too much of any Minister.

Let me conclude with this. Notwithstanding th correctness of the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Elton has been supplied with a brief by the Home Department, which I know he has examined—that is his responsibility, as I have said; and it is their responsibility to supply it—I ask him to add to that the detailed analysis supplied by my noble friend Lord Bruce of Donington and the points made by my noble friend Lord Hatch. Then, if he cannot make a decision on this issue tonight, I would expect him to say that; but would he give us at least this hope in our hearts, with no promises other than that he will examine what has been said by my noble friend Lord Bruce, that he will examine the submission made by my noble friend Lord Hatch, that he will put these in juxtaposition with the brief that he has received from the Home Office and will be prepared to discuss it with the Home Secretary—and all this on behalf of one woman and her daughter! If he would do that, and that alone, it will prove to the world that this realm of ours contains a real, compassionate and feeling democracy, and that that spirit goes through all the Members of this House and another place, and Her Majesty's Ministers as well.

8.27 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Lincoln

My Lords, I think I can be brief. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, was in touch about this sad case with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and that the archbishop wrote to him to say that he was not able to be here himself but would very much have wished to be here in order to speak in this debate. However, he has asked me to speak on his behalf, and I would also want to speak on my own behalf because I think that we would be as much concerned as others have stated already in the family aspect of this matter, and particularly the aspect of the child, who is only six years old. I think the case is highly eloquent in itself, and I do not think I need to underline that; and I hope I would not need to underline the fact that I and those I stand for are profoundly concerned at this sort of instance.

I recognise the extreme complexity of a case like this. The noble Earl, Lord Longford, has used the word "flexibility". I would ask the Minister to use all the flexibility he can in interpreting the law as he finds it. I think the capacity to do that is the sort of thing that shows up the nature of our laws, and the way we apply them—and that is something which is of great importance to ourselves and to the world.

8.28 p.m.

Lord Paget of Northampton

My Lords, in this I am not primarily concerned with Miss Luczak, but with her child. Miss Luczak appears to be a very couragous and able woman. She came over here from a brutal home in Canada with a drunken and very violent father. She made a life for herself here. She made an association, and she made a home such as she had never had. She lived with a man who was then married but had left his wife. She had this child, and she made a home again. When that man left her she was still capable of keeping that home going, getting a house, getting a job, getting the friendship of her neighbours, getting an association and getting the child, who is rather brilliant, to school.

There is an agument about whether a letter was sent and lost either by the Post Office or the various filing systems of the department, or whether it was not sent. She has an extremely honourable record, and upon that basis you would have thought that on any view it could at least be said to her, "We will reopen your appeal, which you never heard about, and give you the opportunity to be heard in it". That is what any court of law would do in the circumstances. Any judge in these circumstances would say, "Come back and you shall at least be heard, and your advocate shall be heard". That, I believe would be just to her.

But that to me is not the really important point here. She is a very able woman. She has re-created her life three times and no doubt can do it a fourth. The person I am concerned with is Jessica, the child; and to that child we are being very cruel. There is no getting away from it. We are asking here to be cruel to a child. The mother took what seems to me a very brave decision. She had either to take the child with her to Canada where she had only a brutal home to go to—and she could not do that where she had no job, where the recession was worse than it is here; or to leave the child undisturbed in the school where she was doing well and in the neighbourhood where she was doing well. It was a fine decision on her part. You may say it was right or wrong but that does not concern us.

We are concerned with the child who is also one of our citizens; as the noble Lord, Lord Molloy, said, as English as any of us. That child needs and wants her mother. The reports from the school says: Have them here. There are reports of new distress arising. This English child wants a mother to look after her. That mother is available and longing to come. She is a woman of perfectly good record, able, with a job to go to, with a house to go into, with her belongings here. Are we doing our duty to that child who, as I say, is an English citizen by denying her her mother? It seems to me the most cruel thing to do. I certainly do not envy the Minister whom I have known for many years and whom I know is a kind man and who does not like being unkind to children.

In what was a very notable speech, my noble friend Lord Bruce brought out all these new facts and this new, all-important knowledge that the school, and the people who are looking after her, pay tribute to this child and point out her need for her mother. To go on denying this child her mother is really an outrage and one which I am sure in his heart the noble Lord cannot possibly approve of. Let him at least say to us: "Well, there are new facts which have come out. I will go back to the department. They will not much like it. But I will go back to my boss who, I think, will like it a great deal for he is a very humane man and I know that if he understood what was happening here he would hate to be the author of this situation". Let him say, "I will do my best" and we will all say thank you to him.

8.33 p.m.

Lord Brockway

My Lords, I regret that I did not register to speak in this debate. I forgot it was necessary to do so on an Unstarred Question. I apologise to the House. I feel impelled to say one word in tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, for initiating this debate. There he is on the Front Bench, deeply involved in many other issues, having to give time to it as all Front Bench men do; and yet his humanity was such that he felt it necessary tonight to raise an issue referring to one woman and one child—and that is a human attribute to which all of us must pay tribute.

I am not going to repeat the arguments which have been urged in this case. They seem to me to be overwhelming. I want to make one point briefly which so far has not been made. This House and the Government Front Bench are very proud of the tradition of this country in human rights. From all sides of the House, we criticise the denial of human rights in other territories, particularly in the Soviet Union; but it is not there alone. I want to urge on the noble Lord, Lord Elton, that if we are to be credible and effective in standing for human rights, then we must concern ourselves with the kind of issue which has been raised tonight, even if it affects only one woman and one child.

Over the years, I have raised many issues of this character. But we have never had a debate on them of the kind that we have had tonight. I speak almost personally to the noble Lord, Lord Elton. I was closely associated with his father many years ago. I know from that association that the noble Lord, Lord Elton, himself will feel compassion and the need to urge human rights just as much as all of us who have taken part in this discussion tonight.

The case from all sides of the House has been overwhelming, and I ask him in his reply to respond to the compassion that is in his heart and in his mind and at least to say, having heard what has been urged this evening, that he will refer the matter again to the Minister, ask the Minister to reconsider the case and to allow the mother to come back from Canada to join her child in this country—an act of human happiness. I have no doubt that the noble Lord, Lord Elton, will feel it as deeply as we do, and will at least say that he will refer it to the Minister for re-examination and reconsideration.

8.39 p.m.

Lord Stewart of Fulham

My Lords, I am afraid I must make the same apology as my noble friend Lord Brockway. I did not add my name earlier to the list of speakers. But it is very difficult to listen to this debate unmoved particularly, if I may say so, if you are somebody who, like the noble Lord, Lord Elton, has held ministerial responsibility and has had to consider these awful questions where you say to yourself, "If, in this case, I make the decision that leads towards mercy, the decision that will be well received by my hearers, am I, by so doing, incurring a bill which I and the Government will not subsequently be able to pay? Shall I be creating so many precedents that in the end I shall have made the wrong decision? Shall I have tried to be kind and failed?" That is what must be troubling the noble Lord; and I want to address a few words to him and, through him, to the Home Secretary on that aspect of the matter.

First of all, I believe that we can all accept this: the charge of trying to enter this country illegally really will not stand up as a determining factor in the case at all. It is quite clear from what my noble friend Lord Bruce told us—which I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Elton, will dispute—that the lady at the time had no idea that she was entering illegally and against an order that had been made. She had no reason to do so. Her reason for leaving this country was obvious and substantiated. I am not a lawyer and I do not know whether returning against an order when you do not know that it has been made is illegally entering or not. It is not, of course, a matter of common sense and it could not possibly be argued as a reason for turning this lady's case down.

Once we set that aside, we are up against something which I believe will be a real help to the noble Lord Lord Elton, in dealing with the dilemma that I was trying to describe earlier. It is this: at one stage, when there was an adjudication, the decision was that on one point the lady was right and on the other point the Government were right; and it was the kind of case on which the Home Secretary could exercise his discretion. There, I believe the difficulty that I was trying to define earlier is resolved for the Government, the Home Secretary and the noble Lord, Lord Elton. He can quite truthfully say: "I have already been told from a quarter that does not normally go in for exaggerated compassion, from a quarter that tries to weigh the exact legality of the case. I have been told that this is a case on which I may properly exercise my discretion."

Once one has accepted that, it will be hard to find a case in which it would be more proper to exercise discretion than this. There is an overwhelming factor of compassion here. Few of us, few of our wives or any woman we know or can think of, would want to be faced with that dreadful dilemma which faced this lady when she had to decide whether to stay with her child or to leave the child here. Most of us will feel that she has made the right decision. We ought to: it is a very considerable compliment to this country that she does make that decision. To be able to leave the child here to grow up with the British citizenship that belongs to it is worth all the other difficulties that stem from that decision. But it is dreadful that she has been put in that position. That surely is a compassionate factor. How many files will one have to turn over before one finds a case in which something comparable to that will turn up? That I think is the ministerial reply when somebody says to him: "Beware of making a precedent". The Minister will have to say to himself: "How many precedents will this create? How many cases could be said to be so like this as to be quoted in future as an exact precedent against me?" Not many, I think.

I remember when I was a very young and inexperienced MP speaking to the then Home Secretary, Mr. Chuter Ede, about the case of a foreign lady who wanted to come into this country. He said—and he had to say this—to me: "If I open the door, half Europe will want to come here". That was indeed the situation in 1945. Her case was simply not strong enough. It was true. If he opened the door to her there were tens, hundreds and thousands for whom it opened as well. It could not be done.

That is not the case here. This is the chance. I therefore add my voice to many others who have asked the noble Lord, Lord Elton, please, to go back to the Home Secretary and describe to him the depths of feeling and the character of the debate he has had to go through. This is the kind of case where the wise, middle-rank Minister goes back to his chief and says, "Think again".

The Earl of Gosford

My Lords, I too apologise to the House for not putting my name down to speak. I rise now to make a brief point simply because of the strength of the argument that I have heard tonight, especially from the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington. I identify with the young girl, Jessica, and it is on this one point that I should like to make an appeal to the noble Lord, Lord Elton, this evening. My family also broke up at about the same time as this child's family. We must bear this in mind: when a parent leaves a family, a child is stunned by that event. This child's father has already left. Now the child has to face the departure of her mother.

I appeal to the noble Lord, Lord Elton, to think in the terms of the child, who is a British citizen, and I ask him to understand from someone who has been through it—and it is not always understood by people who have been brought up with both their parents throughout their lives—that when, as in this case, a second parent leaves the child, the child is stunned by that event. That feeling can remain with the child for an exceedingly long time. It takes years for that child to regain his or her confidence. I appeal to the noble Lord, Lord Elton, to take this one point into account.

8.46 p.m.

Lord Elton

If there are no further speakers, my Lords, I will endeavour to reply to this impressive debate. I should like to start by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, for the extremely considerate—or at least extremely perceptive—way in which he introduced this debate into my personal context—like a cross-bar between the two down-strokes of an "H". A very compressed day it has proved to be, with its own alarms and excursions. I am grateful also to those of your Lordships who put your names down to speak. One way of estimating the importance of an event is to see the number and indeed the calibre of speakers whose names are on the list. While I say nothing against the calibre of speakers whose names were on the paper when I saw it earlier today, certainly their number was a good deal less than it has since become. But all that is by the way.

I feel that I need to recite some of the facts; at the same time your Lordships may find it rather tedious if I repeat a great deal of what the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, has said and set your Lordships the task of wondering whether or not there are discrepancies. The fact is that Miss Luczak first came to this country from Canada on 7th July 1973 and was granted entry as a visitor for six months, on the understanding that is common to all such cases that she would leave the country at the end of her stay. In January 1974—and the noble Lord, Lord Bruce has given us the date of the letter—she wrote to the Home Office to say that she had obtained a job and would like to say for a further year, and this application was granted under the working holidaymaker arrangements that apply to Commonwealth citizens. A similar application was made in 1975 and she was granted an extension for a further year. In October 1975 she began to live with an Englishman whom she had met the previous year and who was the father of her daughter, Jessica, born in December 1975.

When Miss Luczak made her third application to the department in January 1976, she applied on this occasion for permanent settlement. It appears from that application, and from subsequent statements, that she was under the impression that the birth of a child here would qualify her to remain permanently. It was explained to her at the time, and on later occasions, that the birth of her daughter gave her no such entitlement; but subsequent events have shown that she has not always been entirely receptive to that explanation. The Home Office therefore considered her application in the light of her relationship with the man with whom she was living. He was separated, but not divorced, from his wife and therefore not free to marry Miss Luczak; but we were satisfied that their relationship was genuine and that he was able to support her. Although she did not qualify under the Immigration Rules for permanent residence, she was granted leave to remain for a further year; that leave was granted exceptionally outside the Immigration Rules.

In October 1976 she applied for leave to remain for a further 18 months to undertake a TOPS course and subsequently to take employment. Both she and the man with whom she had been living were interviewed and it emerged that, although they were still living together, he was no longer able to support her. Under the Home Office practice at that time, a woman in Miss Luczak's position would have been given extensions of stay for twelve months at a time, provided we were satisfied that she could be supported and accommodated by her partner. This was no longer the case with Miss Luczak but, in order to give her the opportunity of qualifying to remain in the United Kingdom in her own right, her application to take employment was referred to the Department of Employment for them to consider the issue of a work permit. In the event, they were unable to approve Miss Luczak's employment; she had no further claim to remain in this country and her application was refused in August 1977.

She appealed against this decision and her appeal was dismissed in September 1978, but the adjudicator recommended the further exercise of discretion outside the immigration rules to allow the couple to remain together. I think I should dwell on the point and say that the adjudicator did criticise the Home Office for misapplying, in his view, the immigration rules. The Home Office had failed to make it clear, however that this action had been taken not under the rules but quite exceptionally, outside them. The criticism was not that the rules had been too harshly applied: the adjudicator recommended that the Home Office should exercise its discretion outside the rules to give leave for Miss Luczak to remain. He did not specify that indefinite leave to remain should be considered, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, implied; and since the policy was to grant leave in such cases for 12 months at a time, Miss Luczak's leave was extended for a further year—

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to intervene?

Lord Elton

My Lords, if the noble Lord will allow me to put a marker in my pile so that I do not get lost, I will give way.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, I am very much obliged. There is a question here which has been raised by the noble Lord's speech and which has been raised in correspondence. Quite frankly, I do not know the answer and I should be very grateful if the noble Lord could give it to me. On what grounds did the Department of Employment refuse the application of Miss Luczak when she applied for a work permit? Also, why was it that they disapproved of her employers, apparently? What criteria do the Department of Employment use in a case of this kind?

Lord Elton

My Lords, I will endeavour to satisfy the noble Lord's question a little later on. I was saying that Miss Luczak's leave was extended for a further year, and when a relationship such as hers has lasted for some time it was the practice eventually to grant settlement, but there were always significant doubts about the stability of her relationship, and those doubts proved justified only four months after her last grant of leave to remain.

The criteria to which the noble Lord referred are the possession of skills, and of course the details of that vary according to the job applied for. For a more detailed elucidation of what the Department of Employment's criteria might have been in this case, I should have to take further advice.

In fact, her partner had by this time obtained a new job and was again in a position to support her and in April 1979 she was granted yet a further extension of 12 months. Again the extension was exceptional and again it was outside the immigration rules. Four months later, in August 1979, the relationship between the couple came to an end. In April 1980 she informed the Home Office of this fact, as the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, has said—

Lord Bruce of Donington

My Lords, if the noble Lord will permit me, it was on 21st April 1979 that she notified the Home Office.

Lord Elton

My Lords, I am not sure that it is material to this case, but I shall be quite happy to correct myself in retrospect if it proves to be wrong. I was saying that in August 1979, as I understand it, the relationship came to an end and she informed the Home Office of this in April of the following year and applied once again to take employment and also for settlement. Of course it was necessary for her to disclose her situation when she made her application.

She was again interviewed so that she could set out her case in detail, together with any compassionate considerations. She had previously been allowed to remain, exceptionally, outside the immigration rules on the basis of her relationship with an Englishman living here. With the ending of that relationship, she had no other claim to remain here. My right honourable friend the Minister of State considered her case very carefully and sympathetically to see whether there were sufficient compassionate reasons for permitting her to remain further, outside the immigration rules, but none were found and her application was refused in September 1980. She appealed against that decision, and her appeal was dismissed in October 1981. Neither the Home Office nor, I understand, the JCWI, it seems, then had her correct address. In November my right honourable friend wrote to say that she should make arrangements to leave the country. Miss Luczak, accompanied by her daughter, left the United Kingdom on 26th December—my Lords, I think this must be the last intervention.

Lord Bruce of Donington

My Lords, the point is so important. Could the noble Lord say whether the letter which his right honourable friend sent to Miss Luczak on the 26th November was sent to her at the address she now occupied or the other address? This is crucial to the case.

Lord Elton

My Lords, again, I will revert to this. I think I am right in saying that it was to the original and not to the latter address. However, be that as it may—I have said that I will revert to this later—she left the United Kingdom on 26th December. My Lords, it is as I thought; the letter was sent to the original, that it so say the other, address. She returned on 3rd January this year, having spent just one week with relatives in Germany.

She sought entry for settlement but, since her application for settlement had been refused and her appeal dismissed, and since she did not qualify for entry under the rules, the immigration officer had no alternative but to refuse her admission. She was, however, granted temporary admission while her Member of Parliament, and many others, made representations on her behalf, notably including the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington.

Three main claims were advanced on her behalf: that she had been here since 1973; that she had a young child who was patrial; and that she was frightened that her father might punish her on return to Canada, where she would have difficulty in finding employment. My right honourable friends the Home Secretary and the Minister of State considered all these representations with very great care. Miss Luczak had never been settled in this country and had always known that her stay was in a temporary capacity, and that most recently it had also been outside the immigration rules. She was not misled by the department at any stage. Her daughter's birth in the United Kingdom gave Miss Luczak no claim to remain. Neither did we consider that a Canadian citizen who had lived in Canada until the age of 20 could claim real hardship if she were required to return there. Miss Luczak was a qualified secretary and should be able to obtain a job. She had left home at the age of 18 to live away from her father before ever she came to England and, given that she had other relatives in Canada, it seemed unlikely that she would have to live once more with her father. It was concluded that there were no grounds for allowing her to enter the country for settlement, and, after all the representations had been considered, she was finally removed to Canada on 6th June. Provision was made to pay her daughter's fare out of public funds and a seat was reserved, but Miss Luczak chose to leave her child in this country when she left it.

It is a long and complicated story—though not as complex as many immigration cases can be—but I thought that I should spell out in detail how it unrolled before the eyes of the Home Office. The fundamental point is that Miss Luczak came here only for a temporary stay and has never had an entitlement to settle here. There are, of course, many thousands of people throughout the world who would like to settle in this country and who make application to us. They may be Europeans; they may be Africans; they may come, like Miss Luszak, from Canada; they may come from the Indian subcontinent. One thing they have in common: if they have no entitlement to settle here their application has to be refused. We have, of course, every sympathy for someone in Miss Luczak's position who has to bring up a family on her own. But I fear that, however sympathetic we must be, this is not a problem that can be resolved by the immigration rules.

The noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, has spoken most eloquently of Miss Luczak's character and lifestyle. I do not think it was necessary to say that she does not smoke or drink, but I get the clear impression of a most agreeable character. The noble Lord has had the benefit of meeting Miss Luczak, which I have not, and I am happy to accept everything that he has said in that respect. But the immigration rules are not concerned with a person's character, except in one very special respect; that is, of course, the provision for the exclusion of people whose presence here would not be conducive to the public good, such as people with serious criminal convictions. That apart—and it does not, of course, touch Miss Luczak—character is not something which an immigration officer has to consider under the rules. There may be many people who settle in this country each year of whose character the noble Lord and I might thoroughly disapprove. Equally, there may be many deserving people of unimpeachable character who have to be refused, because they do not qualify. I can only say to the noble Lord in that respect that, if character became a major criterion in operating the immigration rules of this country, immigration cases would become a source of even greater contention than they are today.

Miss Luczak's daughter was born here, is patrial and has a right to remain here. Equally, if she leaves the country she has a right to come back at any time. What was never in doubt, however—and this has been made crystal clear to Miss Luczak at all times—is that her daughter's birth does not confer upon her the right to remain in this country. Whether her daughter remains in this country or goes to live in Canada is not a question for me, for the Home Office or for anyone except Miss Luczak herself. In June, she decided that her daughter should not go back with her to Canada, but should rather remain in this country in the care, I understand, of private foster parents. That was her personal decision, and it was not made for lack of a fare, since we were ready to pay it, and it is not for me to comment on it.

Until she left the country in December last year, Miss Luczak had been here for almost 8½ years. In only 2½ years of that time was she subject to an explicit leave under the immigration rules. That was for six months as a visitor and for two years as a working holidaymaker. For a further two years she held a leave that was granted to her exceptionally, and outside the immigration rules, on account of her relationship with a man living here. For the remaining four years she remained here perfectly properly and legally, while her applications, representations and appeals were all, in turn, under consideration.

In the light of that, I think I can say that her case has been exhaustively and sympathetically considered. She has been formally refused permanent settlement here on three occasions—in March, 1976, in August, 1977, and in September, 1980. On a fourth occasion she was refused leave to enter for settlement. In the light of that, I do not think it can be said that she was left in any doubt that she did not qualify to remain here on a permanent basis. In August, 1979, the basis on which she has previously been granted leave disappeared, and yet she was still allowed to remain for almost a further three years, while her case was considered, including the last five months on temporary admission after her refusal at the port in January.

The Question of the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, asks us to consider the case again and to readmit Miss Luczak to this country on compassionate grounds. I should like to assure the noble Lord that we have taken the opportunity afforded by this debate to review all the voluminous papers in this case from the time Miss Luczak first came here, and we have looked again at all the points that have been made. But my right honourable friend the Home Secretary remains satisfied that there are no grounds, of which he is aware, for admitting Miss Luczak to this country for settlement.

I do not know when a Minister has been more effectively softened-up at the beginning and throughout a debate. My compassion has been appealed to, my father has been appealed to, the traditions of this House have been appealed to, Buckingham Palace and its proximity have been appealed to, and the housing waiting list of the Borough of Fulham has been appealed to. There is almost no avenue of approach which has not been made to my better feelings, to my historical instincts and to my grasp of the traditions of this and other places. What I have to tell your Lordships is that the case has been very thoroughly considered on a large number of occasions. But it remains the case that, if she makes a new application in Canada, it will be given full and careful consideration; and I will undertake that it is given that consideration in the light of what your Lordships have said.

Lord Bruce of Donington

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask him one question which is rather crucial? Will he accept the fact that, when his right honourable friend wrote to Mr. Hattersley in April, he was not aware at that time that Miss Luczak had not received the notice of the hearing, had not been part of the appeal, was not present and had not received any documentation in relation of it? Also, is he aware that Miss Luczak's visit to Germany was quite a bona fide one? She was in complete ignorance of what had happened in the previous five or six months.

Lord Elton

My Lords, nobody is saying that the visit was not bona fide. As to the hearing, as I understand it, if I may deal with that first, the JCWI at that time still represented Miss Luczak and asked that the case should be heard and considered on the papers. I can confirm that my right honourable friend was not aware.

Your Lordships have put me in a very difficult position. We have specific rules. We have been examining this case for something like four years—a lot longer than some noble Lords would think proper. We have reached an unavoidable conclusion, yet, in the light of what your Lordships have said, I have to say that provided Miss Luczak makes a new application in Canada—it would not be proper for her to come here to make that case—it will be considered. Your Lordships have had the most extensive opportunity to put down every consideration, and my right honourable friend will consider them. I can see the noble Lord, Lord Paget of Northampton, trembling on the edge of the Bench. On this occasion I have given way no fewer than five times. I have actually concluded my speech. This is a postscript. It would be bad manners to the House if I were to speak further, so whatever the noble Lord may say, whether or not it is in order, I cannot reply.

Lord Bruce of Donington

My Lords, would the noble Lord please accept my thanks for the consideration which he has given to this case? Would he also accept that we accept his assurances? We shall be very pleased to take advantage of them. We are indebted to the noble Lord.

Lord Paget of Northampton

My Lords, all I sought to say—

Several noble Lords

Order, order!

Lord Paget of Northampton

No, I got up first.

Lord Denham

My Lords, if the noble Lord, Lord Paget of Northampton, is to keep to the rules of the House, he must use the formula, "Before the noble Lord"—that is, my noble friend Lord Elton—"sits down".

Lord Paget of Northampton

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, he said that all the papers have been considered. Would he see that two extra papers are considered—the report from the school and the report from the medical authorities as to the effect on the child of its mother's absence? Those seem to me to be very important points: the need of the child for its mother from the educational and medical points of view.