HC Deb 27 June 1974 vol 875 cc535-6W
Miss Boothroyd

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will amend the Immigration Rules relating to the admission of the husbands of women settled in this country.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

Soon after coming into office I informed the House that I had taken steps to secure that the relevant Immigration Rules should be more liberally construed, and I undertook to review the rules themselves, which limit admission to cases of hardship.

Having reviewed this wider question, I have reached the conclusion that in future husbands and wives should each have the right to admission, irrespective of special hardship. The principle on which I believe I should act is that where one spouse is settled in this country, a husband and wife should have freedom of choice whether to live here or elsewhere unless there are compelling reasons why this facility should not be allowed.

When I first considered this I believe that I put too high the likely immigration consequences and did not fully allow for the stark and unacceptable nature of the discrimination. On further consideration of all the issues involved in this difficult problem, I am persuaded that there are no sufficiently compelling reasons for denying the parties to a marriage the freedom of choice that I believe they should have. I shall present new Immigration Rules, which will, broadly speaking, allow admission to the husband of a woman settled in the United Kingdom. Fiancés will be admitted initially for three months. Until the rules are amended I shall consider applications on this footing. Both husbands and fiancés will need to obtain entry clearances.

The new rules, when laid, will of course be open to debate in the House.

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