HL Deb 21 April 1988 vol 495 cc1651-62

5.23 p.m.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Earl Ferrers)

My Lords, despite the fact that this is a short Bill, the subject of immigration is one which is exceedingly complex. If I may, I should like to offer a personal word of thanks to all who have taken part in our debates for the way in which they have conducted their arguments during the passage of the Bill through its various stages and for their deep knowledge of and interest in the problems associated with immigration.

The Bill has been subjected to pretty rigorous scrutiny. It has not gone through the House unamended. During the Report stage a clause was added to tackle the issues of those who seek to evade the immigration controls by taking employment with diplomatic missions.

An important amendment was made, which was put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, to put beyond doubt the fact that overstayers could be prosecuted only once for any one offence. We heard of the genuine concern which existed on this point, and I am glad that we were able to find a way of amending the Bill to allay this concern.

We have also at the request of the Opposition been able to produce a draft of the order which will enable asylum-seekers who are liable to deportation to argue at appeal the merits of their claim to asylum. As a result of the attention which your Lordships have given this Bill, it leaves the House as a better measure than when it arrived.

In opening our Second Reading debate on 4th March I referred to the Bill as making modest but necessary changes to our immigration law. The further amendments which have been made to it even strengthen this assessment. The Bill is not a major piece of innovative legislation but it remedies a number of significant defects which have emerged in the past 15 years since the 1971 Act came into force. Its passage will enable the process of immigration control to be operated more fairly, and it will prevent some people from gaining an unfair advantage over others who wish to come or to remain here.

The Bill meets a genuine need, and I am grateful to your Lordships for the way in which you have firmly but always cautiously dealt with it. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a third time.—(Earl Ferrers.)

Lord Elwyn-Jones

My Lords, perhaps I may in turn express our gratitude to the noble Earl for his courtesy and patience in the way in which he has steered the Bill through the House. I am bound to say that it has given us less than satisfaction and has sadly failed to live up to the expectations that we had that it would meet the sensitivity and consideration which he himself indicated to be important in dealing with matters of immigration. There has been common ground in our debates on the Bill that immigration control is a regrettable necessity but it must be even-handed and fair and be seen to be so. This Bill has not satisfied that necessity.

There are some Bills on which the House and the Government should make every effort to achieve consensus. I should have thought that the Immigration Bill was one of them. However, the measure of the failure to do so was indicated on Report when noble Lords on the Opposition side, both behind me and below the Gangway, felt it desirable and necessary to divide against the provisions of the Bill on no fewer than seven occasions as in their view the proposals contravened important issues and matters of human rights and civil liberties.

I believe that it is significant to look at the extent of the opposition to the Bill outside the House, which has been fairly widespread. It is right that I should start with the opposition of the major Church and race relations bodies. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ripon referred to the opposition by responsible bodies from the Church of England, the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church, the Baptist Union and Roman Catholic Church. There was hardly a believer left to believe in the Bill. However, the civil rights organisations outside the House also had grave doubts about the Bill.

The note of the Bill was struck in its very first clause repealing Section 1(5) of the Immigration Act 1971—the principal Act. If Clause I of the Bill becomes law, it will remove from Commonwealth citizens settled here before 1st Janaury 1973 the absolute and unqualified right to bring their families into this country. That right was conferred on them by Section 1(5) of the 1971 Act. It was solemnly reaffirmed by several Ministers, inlcuding the late Reginald Maudling and the noble Viscount, Lord Whitelaw. It is now to be repealed and one of the results will be that children who have certain rights to be united with their parents will be robbed of those rights.

An important part of our debate turned on the proposals regarding refugees. We were grateful for the initiative of the noble Earl in introducing us to an order which was not in final draft form in an endeavour to deal with our grave concern about the inadequacy of the Bill in its attempt to deal with refugees. We criticised that proposed order, and the fact remains that it was no more than an order—a statutory instrument. In an issue as vital as the rights of immigrants, it is our view that when it reaches an appropriate form—it is merely tentative now—it should be spelt out in the language of the Act itself.

Apart from the provisions with regard to citizens of the EC, the Bill is almost wholly restrictive in its terms. None of its provisions seek to extend human rights; on the contrary, they almost all tend to diminish them. As regards immigration, the family life and rights of appeal and all those matters, the provisions are restrictive and wholly ungenerous.

In our view, although it is sad to express it, we think the Bill will do serious damage to family life, community relations here and to our reputation abroad as a country which values justice and humanity.

5.30 p.m.

Lord Renton

My Lords, I very much welcome the Bill. We have heard a great deal about human rights and it is only right that we should do so. We also heard a great deal about keeping families united and that is an aim of all parties. However, there is another side to the coin and it is only right that we should not lose sight of it. This country has generously admitted hundreds and thousands of immigrants, mostly from the Commonwealth—or countries that were in the Commonwealth—for many years now.

We all know that many British people feel that enough is enough. Of course it is only right that the interests and feelings of the people who are already in this country, whether they can be called indigenous to it or whether they have come here in recent years, should also be respected. It is because the Bill bears in mind that side of the coin that I think it is fully justified and to be welcomed.

I should just like to add here that my noble friend Lord Ferrers found the Bill at the Home Office when he was appointed Minister of State. I think we should all be grateful for and admire the way he has conducted the proceedings on a difficult and controversial Bill which has been the subject of a great deal of detailed opposition.

Lord Bonham-Carter

My Lords, I should just like to add a few words at this late stage of what has been a long and detailed debate on this melancholy little Bill. I shall not take much time in pronouncing its obsequies; nor have I a great deal to add to the moderate and measured words of condemnation uttered by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones.

First, I must raise a matter concerning numbers and which arose between me, the noble Lord, Lord Renton, and the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, in Committee. On 22nd March (Official Report, col. 147) I told the noble Lord, Lord Renton, that in this country we have net emigration and not net immigration. Later in the debate the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, courteously suggested that I might have inadvertently misled the Committee and that between 1983 and 1987 there was net immigration of 180,000 people. He is of course correct, and I apologise for inadvertently misleading the Committee in respect of the years 1983 to 1987.

I must confess that the figures which he produced greatly surprised me because since about 1810, with some exceptional periods, this country has almost always been a net exporter rather than a net importer of people. However, though it is true that between the years 1983 and 1986, which is the period for which the latest figures are available, there was a net inflow of 149,000 people. I must add that if one takes the years 1976 to 1986, one finds that there was an outflow of 105,000 people. That figure is not enormously significant, it merely goes to show—as one always knew—that statistics depend largely on the base year from which one starts. I should also add that for the year 1986 the figures show a change in the pattern of immigration. Looking at the year 1986, in the table in Social Trends (Table 1.16), one discovers that those patterns have altered. In 1986 there was a net inflow of 37,000 people of which 25,000 were from the European Community; on the whole that is a substantial increase. Only 15,000—of whom 60 per cent., as a I understand it, were dependants; that is, either wives or children—came from the Indian sub-continent.

If the noble Lord, Lord Renton, who has expressed anxiety about numbers above all things, is really anxious about an increase in immigration, I do not think that he should look to the sub-continent of India or to the Caribbean from which it has almost totally stopped. However, he should advise his right honourable friend the Prime Minister not to encourage Turkey to join the European Community as she is reported to have done on her recent visit there. If you want to increase immigration into this country that is a sure way of doing it.

I return to the body of the Bill and to the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Renton. He said that we had generously admitted immigrants into this country. Of course that is one way of putting it. We actually encouraged them to come here at a time of labour shortage. We encouraged them to come here during the war, and subsequently in post-war years in a period of labour shortage. It may have been generous, but it was also generously in our own self-interest. I do not think we should forget that.

He might also reflect on the history of this country which has been a history of immigration into our shores starting, if you like, with the Normans, Flemings, Huguenots, the Irish and perhaps most recently and most significantly, the emigration from Eastern Europe between 1870 and 1914. In almost every case at the time those people arrived there was resistance within the country. The only history to be written about immigration in this country was written in 1897 by Archdeacon Cunningham who was a great believer in what we now call monetarism—the free movement of goods, labour and capital. His history was meant to demonstrate the advantages which come from immigration. However, he wrote in his last chapter that he suddenly realised of course that he himself was living in an age of immigration and this immigration was quite different from any others. Those people would add nothing to the country. They brought no skills, talked foreign languages and brought no benefits.

I suppose if one looks around this country today and indeed at this House, the benefit that this country has gained by generously admitting that immigration between 1870 and 1914 in our academic, artistic and business life is very difficult to overestimate. I do not believe that "generosity" is the only word to describe the immigration which we have always enjoyed in this country until today.

My reservations about the Bill are simply that it continues a process which has been going on for 25 years. Apart from the 1949 Act which introduced appeals and the 1976 rules which helped the admission of husbands, those 25 years have been years of restrictive legislation. I repeat the conclusion that Mr. Ian MacDonald comes to, that there is no other body of law in this country where the interests of those affected by it have been so unrelentingly ignored and left out of account.

Now that primary immigration is sharply declining, except from the EC, and secondary immigration is also sharply declining, and if indeed further legislation were necessary, of which I am extremely doubtful, the legislation could have moved in the opposite direction to that in which it has moved. It could have included provisions which would have secured and established rights. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, said, it has instead been wholly restrictive. I do not need to add much to that point because that is the gravamen of the argument against the Bill. Examples are not difficult to find and they have already been mentioned in the course of our debates.

The noble and learned Lord has referred to Clause 2 with its reaction to the ruling of the European Court on discrimination. Instead of levelling up wives to the position of husbands, it levels down the position of husbands to that which wives had before. It is that kind of provision which justifies noble Lords saying that the Bill is restrictive. If it does not restrict and remove, it certainly erodes the right of appeal. In earlier debates I quoted from the report of Sir Roy Wilson, on the basis of which the appeals system in this field was established. It seems to me that to erode the right of appeal is a grave and retrograde step. Nowhere is it more important that there should be a right of appeal established than in the case of refugees from political or religious persecution.

Finally, I revert to a point that I made at Second Reading. Given the declining numbers involved and the debate that we had earlier this week on education and the importance of educational attainment, it seems to me that it is in the interests of this country that the dependants of immigrants, particularly those who come from countries where English is not the mother tongue, should come here as early as possible so that they may learn the English language and benefit from a British education.

To make it more, rather than less, difficult—I go no further than that—for children to join their parents, which is the net result of the provisions in the Bill, is against the interests of those children and the interests of this country in the longer run. It is for those reasons of self-interest as well as of principle that I, my colleagues and others on this side of the House feel that the Bill is an unnecessary, ungenerous and melancholy measure to see inscribed on the statute book.

5.45 p.m.

Lord Hylton

My Lords, before this Bill leaves the House I should like to say a few words about genuine refugees who reach this country seeking asylum here or elsewhere. This is a small number of people, given the difficulties of reaching this island and the administrative barriers erected by Her Majesty's Government such as visa requirements and the Immigration (Carriers Liability) Act 1987.

I rise with a heavy heart and with a sense of shame and pain. I do so because things are not going right, as I shall explain, and this Bill does little to put them right. Before doing so, let me say that the great majority of immigration officers, adjudicators, civil servants and others who deal with refugees seeking asylum are decent, honest people trying to do a difficult job as best they can. However, the sad fact is that refoulement has occurred recently and is probably still occurring. I fear that it will continue unless the Government take adequate measures of prevention.

It is possible that not all your Lordships are familiar with the French term of art, refoulement. It means that the person who is seeking asylum because of a reasonable and well-founded fear of persecution is sent back to a country where he is at risk. This risk may be one of persecution, of unjust imprisonment, torture and even death. Refoulement may occur either directly by sending someone to the country from which he has escaped or indirectly by sending him to some third country which has not signed and ratified the relevant international agreements, which has little respect for human rights and which may send him on to his place of origin.

When refoulement occurs from Britain, Her Majesty's Government are in breach of their obligation under the UN Convention of Refugees of 1951, the protocol of 1967, the European Convention on Human Rights and various resolutions of the Council of Europe. Furthermore, total disrespect is shown to your Lordships' House. The solemn assurances given in 1971 by the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, whom I am glad to see in his place, and repeated to me by the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, on Second Reading (Official Report, 4/3/88; col. 401) are flouted and go for nothing.

This is a very serious matter. I ask what the Government are doing to put things right and to ensure that mistakes do not occur in future. They refused to accept a very modest amendment concerning codes of practice moved by the noble Lord, Lord McNair, at Report stage. They voted down amendments providing for an asylum review board and for rights of appeal in persecution and asylum cases.

I recently sent a list of 10 refugee and asylum cases to the noble Earl's honourable friend, Mr. Timothy Renton, the Minister who has direct responsibility for immigration matters. These cases arose in the last two years and in most of them refoulement occurred either directly or indirectly. In most of them there was no access to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or to the United Kingdom Immigrants' Advisory Service; neither was legal representation available nor was it possible in most of the cases for an MP to ask for a stay of removal.

The list was not an exhaustive one and there may well have been other cases. It seems clear that the existing safeguards, namely the UNHCR, UKIAS, legal advice, MPs etc., do not now function as they are supposed to. We do not yet know what the new arrangements forecast by the noble Earl (at col. 993 of the Official Report on 12th April) will be. They certainly need to be much better than those we have at present. At col. 994 the noble Earl said: a genuine refugee is normally easily identified". The available evidence shows that is not always so. The proposed limited right of appeal against deportation orders to be provided by Order in Council is unlikely to cover all cases. Will the Government therefore please consult urgently with the relevant bodies to produce a better system? In addition to those already mentioned, the bodies include the British Council for Aid to Refugees, Amnesty International, the Medical Foundation for Victims of Torture and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. I trust that consultations will cover the question of detention of refugees seeking asylum, since this seems to be both variable and arbitrary in its incidence. It should also extend to proper and humane treatment for people who may arrive here after long journeys, great sufferings and with little knowledge of English. The recent cases of Mr. Nader Afar-Azad and Mr. Soori Fahad give rise to great concern.

Consultation and thought is therefore what I urge on the Government. Your Lordships may perhaps wonder what individuals can do to improve an existing unsatisfactory situation. The answer is, for those who are willing, to join with Charter '87, an ad hoc campaigning body, in asking for a better and more humane system for handling refugees seeking asylum. I gladly undertake to place copies of the Charter '87 document in your Lordships' Library.

Viscount Buckmaster

My Lords, I rise to support my noble friend Lord Hylton. I have been in touch with individual refugees over the past nine or 10 years. I gave personal asylum to several of them, and I think I can say without hesitation that the refugees I know, who are probably typical of many in this country, are gravely disturbed by the provisions of the Bill. They are particularly disturbed about the erosion of immigrants' rights, the disruption of family life and, perhaps most important of all, the terrible sword of Damocles—that of refoulement—which my noble friend Lord Hylton mentioned so eloquently.

I do not wish to repeat what other noble Lords have said but I should like just to give one example—and I could quote several—of how this refoulement policy can work. I am quite prepared to accept that in many cases the policy works satisfactorily and refugees are able to re-establish themselves in their country of origin. However, frequently that does not happen. I can think of one particular case of a Ugandan who came to Great Britain seeking asylum. It was about nine or 10 years ago. He had come without the right papers. He had forced his way on to the aircraft without a visa and without adequate funds. Indeed, there was no reason why the British Government should have accepted him.

I intervened at that stage and said that it would be tantamount to signing this man's death warrant if he were to be repatriated to Uganda. The authorities at Heathrow—let us give them credit for this—went to great trouble to ensure that he was accepted by some other country. Eventually, after a great deal of to-ing and fro-ing—telegrams and so on—the Government of Zaire said that they would accept him. He was accordingly put on a plane for Zaire. However, what the authorities did not take account of was that the plane, bound for Zaire, stopped on the way at Entebbe, which is the airport for Kampala.

I suppose they might have assumed that it would be all right and that it was just a normal transit stop. Somehow or other the Ugandan Government had got wind of the fact that the man was on the plane and as soon as it stopped officials came in and arrested him. He was dragged away and imprisoned. He was threatened with death and was in fact tortured; I know that. Somehow or other he managed to escape, so that story had a happy ending. However, I can assure your Lordships that many similar cases have not ended as happily as that. The problem of refoulement is a very serious one indeed. It is probably the cause for the greatest concern among the refugee population. I very much hope that the noble Earl will consider these points and those which have been raised by other noble Lords.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, my noble and learned friend Lord Elwyn-Jones has asked me to apologise to the House and to the Minister for the fact that he has had to leave before the end of the debate. He has a very important public function to fulfil.

Upon one matter, and unfortunately only one matter, will the House be unanimous as the Bill goes to a further stage before it reaches the statute book. It will be unanimous in acknowledging that throughout the proceedings the noble Earl has behaved as he always does with the utmost courtesy. He has given full consideration himself to the points raised on the many amendments to the Bill but unfortunately—and this is my own surmise—has been stopped from being his merciful self as a result of government decisions.

When I spoke at Second Reading I said on behalf of those on these Benches—and I do not withdraw one word of it—that this is a Bill without a heart and without a soul. I expressed the fervent hope that we in this House would be able to see that it left, in the main, without a body. Unfortunately, the body is the same except for some slight improvements in some spots upon that body which the noble Earl has enumerated. What a lost opportunity! This is the first Bill for 17 years to deal with immigration. The Secretary of State in another place, when dealing with this Bill, spelled out the numbers by which immigration had been reduced over the years and showed without any doubt that we were no longer at a critical stage. What a lost opportunity for the Home Office to show its other face, not just the face that stops immigration—and all of us have agreed that restriction on immigration is unfortunately necessary—but the face that would be both intelligent and kindly in the sense that it was looking at social problems in our country, especially among the ethnic minorities, and saying, "Well after 17 years we have reached sensible figures. We are now going to see to it that those in our midst who came as strangers will be properly integrated and will have the family life that goes so much towards integration and towards becoming good citizens". Not a bit of it!

Clause 1 of the Bill ratted on a promise solemnly given by the same party in 1971 as a result of an amendment moved in your Lordships' House. The Government are doing that on the basis of a judgment of the European court which says, "You cannot have the provision you have, because you are in fact prejudicing as against a woman, a man, or a man against a woman". The Government looked at that judgment and reacted by saying, "Right, then we will say that neither can come in as a result of the promise we made, enshrined in statute and with the backing of a government undertaking to those British Commonwealth people who were here in 1971 and who are settled here".

Then there are the rest of the clauses—I shall not go through them—which deal with the limitation on rights of appeal. They deal most generously, and properly, by a declaration, with Europeans who happen to marry wives outside the European Community and who come to this country without fulfilling any conditions as to means or as to residence. That could not of course be said in regard to a British subject who happened to marry someone whose citizenship was outside the Community. That British subject has to fulfil certain conditions. Those conditions are ones of residence and means.

The cruellest thing of the lot in this wild, savage world in which we live at this moment—we, who have just seen the end of a terrible hijacking tragedy, possibly an end for which some of us prayed, though we did not pray for it to end as it did—is that we passed an Act a little while ago which states, "If you haven't any documents and a carrier carries you out of mercy, or your documents are not in order, not only will you be sent back, but the carrier will be fined, and fined £1,000, each time. So please, carriers, be careful, won't you, about the people you carry".

If the refugee takes a chance and arrives in this country, most likely in fear of his life, and his papers are not in order and he is sent somewhere else, there is no appeal here; and that in the country which taught the world what justice and mercy ought to be. No, this is not a Bill with a heart or a soul. Those on these Benches for whom I speak mourn the fact that it was ever born, and look with some sadness now that it passes away.

6 p.m.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, if I did not have such a tender heart, the noble Lord would have moved me almost to tears when at the end of that speech he told us that the Bill had no heart and no soul and he regretted that it still existed. When the noble Lord spoke, he said with some feeling how terrible it was if a person came to this country and was told, "If you haven't any documents, you will be sent back". I sometimes wonder whether the noble Lord lives in the real world. He knows that if he travels around the world he has to have passports, tickets and—the noble Lord shakes his head, but if he does not do that that is surprising.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords—

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to finish, because he was slightly provocative. I do not blame him for that. It is not much of an excuse if one does not have the documents to say that one should be allowed in. The noble Lord knows as well as all of us that immigration law is highly complicated. He knows as well as all of us that there are people who will try to get round the immigration control law, which is why it is so complicated. If the noble Lord were to take the view that we should allow in people who did not have those documents he knows full well that there would be plenty of people who would take advantage.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, the noble Earl may be aggressive, but he is always courteous. He has allowed me to reply to him. First, it is not I who am not living in the real world. The noble Earl may not know of the circumstances in which so many people have to leave in a great hurry without their papers being in order. I am not in that position, and hope never to be. I hope that the noble Earl will never be in that position either. I am sure that he will not be.

I was referring not to allowing people in, but to them having a fair right of appeal; to having the right to be heard in this country and to having leave to conduct that appeal themselves while they are here instead of being sent off to another country and told that they can conduct the appeal from there.

Lord Hylton

My Lords, before the noble Earl rises again to finish his speech, perhaps I may urge him to remember that this country had a policy of asylum long, long—perhaps centuries—before it had any policy on immigration, and that those two things are very different.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, for intervening before I ended my speech, which I thought that I had only just started. I should not wish to detain him unfairly. He and the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, know that every application is considered carefully before a decision is taken. If appeal rights were granted to those applicants, we should be faced with a welter of bogus applications.

The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, referred to refoulement. He explained, rightly, that under the United Nations Convention on Refugees signatory states are prohibited, except under certain special circumstances, from sending a refugee who has demonstrated a well-founded fear of persecution back to the country in which he may be persecuted.

I was shocked when the noble Lord said that the assurances which my noble friend Lord Windlesham gave during his distinguished period at the Home Office, and even such remarks that I have made, have been flouted. He said that the United Kingdom is flouting the convention. I am surprised at that. The United Kingdom most emphatically does not practise refoulement. We carry out our obligations under the convention. That is a totally different matter from returning to his own country a person who comes here but who does not qualify for refugee status.

There must be a qualification for refugee status. That is different from returning to a third country an applicant who had already found safety. Every signatory state must retain the right to take such action if it is to distinguish between the deserving applicant, whom we all wish to see looked after, and the undeserving applicant.

The United Kingdom meticulously carries out its obligations under the convention. The fact that we have granted refugee status to more than 8,000 people since 1979, as well as—let us remember this—allowing a further 7,000 to stay although they did not qualify for refugee status, demonstrates that we operate that policy fairly.

The noble Lord referred to asylum applicants. Decisions on whether to detain asylum applicants are taken by immigration officers on exactly the same basis as for all passengers about whose credentials there is any doubt. If they are given temporary admission they report back to the immigration service. The problems are difficult. They are bound to be individual. I can assure your Lordships that they are looked after and attended to carefully.

The noble Lord, Lord Bonham-Carter was kind, as one would expect, to apologise when he found that he had made an error. He said that we have always had a policy of immigration in this country, way back to the Normans and the Huguenots. That casts our minds back quite a long way in history. The noble Lord will be the first to recall that there was a little local difficulty between the Scots and the English when they tried to immigrate into other people's countries. There was a pretty fair degree of violence in those days.

We have moved on from then and of course there has been immigration and there will continue to be immigration. The whole purpose of any immigration is that it must be controlled not only for the benefit of those people who live in the country but for those who are coming into the country in order that they should be able to live in peace and harmony. There has to be control and this Bill just seeks to try to provide more control where loopholes have been discovered.

The noble Lord, Lord Bonham-Carter, said that this was restrictive legislation and that the interests of the immigrants were unrelentingly left out of account. I know that he will accept this in the spirit in which it is meant, but I am bound to tell him that the number of written applications which were made to Lunar House in 1984 was 180,000; in 1986 it had increased to 189,000. The number of letters on immigration matters, other than written applications, which are processed through Lunar House was 213,000 in 1984 and in 1986 it was 220,000. The number of callers dealt with at the Public Inquiry Office in 1984 was 132,000; in 1986 it had increased to 152,000. The number of telephone calls handled by the telephone inquiry bureau was 213,000 in 1984 and 210,000 in 1986. When the noble Lord realises and absorbs those figures, I cannot see that he could possibly say that the interests of the immigrants were "unrelentingly left out of account".

Lord Bonham-Carter

My Lords, perhaps the noble Earl will permit me to intervene. The quotation which I was making was from a lecture on the development of immigration law. Mr. MacDonald, president of ILPA, the Immigration Law Practitioners Association, said, in a survey of the development of immigration law: I know of no other body of law especially one affecting human rights and civil liberties as immigration law does, where the interests of those affected by it have been so unrelentingly ignored and left out of account by the legislators and rule makers". I was simply making the point. I grant you I was making it as proof but it was a remark by someone of authority on these matters.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, I am not quite certain whether the noble Lord is trying to oil his way out of his commitment. I assumed that he made that quotation in order to support the view which he was putting forward. All I was trying to do was to answer it and to show the noble Lord that a great deal of effort has gone into making quite sure that the immigrants are correctly and properly looked after. Perhaps I can also tell him, because he said that immigration is a necessary part of our life, that 578,000 people have been granted settlement here since 1978. There were about 700,000 applicants every 10 years and about 15,000 appeals. It is simply not true to say that we do not look after people.

We try to ensure that control which is necessary is fair and just. Inevitably, in the process some people will slip on to the wrong side of the line but that may be for a whole variety of reasons. Our job in the Home Office, in Government and in Parliament is to try to ensure that the rules are fair and just. I think that the Bill contributes to that and I am grateful to noble Lords for the parts which they have played.

I had not expected the Bill to be wholly welcome because I know that your Lordships take a variety of views. But those views have been properly expressed and despite what the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, and others might think, those views have been very carefully considered. I commend the Bill to the House.

On Question, Bill read a third time, and passed, and returned to the Commons with amendments.