Immigrants

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th November 1960.

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Photo of Mr Cyril Osborne Mr Cyril Osborne , Louth Borough 12:00 am, 24th November 1960

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) in view of the fact that other Commonwealth countries prohibit immigrants who are known to be criminal, diseased or idle, whether he will introduce a similar prohibition in respect of the United Kingdom; and whether he will make a statement;

(2) in view of the facts that in 1951 there were about 15,000 West Indians in the United Kingdom, that immigration figures since then have been 1,000 in 1952, 2,000 in 1953, 10,000 in 1954, 2,400 in 1955, 26,000 in 1956, 22,500 in 1957, 16,500 in 1958, and 14,000 in 1959, and that for the first nine months of 1960 there were 38,000 immigrants, what is the limit to the number that will be admitted; and if he will insist upon tests for health, economic resources and criminal records, as is applied in every other part of the Commonwealth.

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

My right hon. Friend is watching most carefully the situation arising from the entry of large numbers of immigrants from other parts of the Commonwealth. Any power to restrict that entry would require legislation which would involve a departure from our traditional policy of the free entry of British subjects. The question is therefore one which requires great deliberation.

Photo of Mr Cyril Osborne Mr Cyril Osborne , Louth Borough

I apologise to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary for constantly bringing this point before his notice, but in view of the alarming figures in Question No. 42, may I ask him, with great respect, why he has failed to face the alarming social problems which have arisen in our big cities as a result of unrestricted immigration? Will he please do something quickly?

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

I am sure that my right hon. Friend would not wish my hon. Friend to apologise for raising this very important matter. We are watching the position carefully.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

Is the Minister aware that I have a Question on the Order Paper, Question No. 75, which was put down to the Home Secretary on this subject and which was transferred to the Colonial Office? Is it not a little unfortunate that the Home Office is making a rule which allows Questions critical of the free immigration of Comonwealth citizens to this country to be addressed to the Home Secretary but transfers to another Minister Questions on this subject which are intended to be helpful?

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

There is a division of responsibility between my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for the Colonies and the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. The matter is divided into various subjects in order that it may be properly dealt with in accordance with the responsibility of the Ministers concerned.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel John Cordeaux Lieut-Colonel John Cordeaux , Nottingham Central

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it is the practice of the Irish judiciary to suspend prison sentences on convicted criminals who are citizens of the Republic of Ireland, provided that they agree to go to live in England? Does he not think that something should be done to stop this sort of thing?

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

I cannot answer for what happens in the Republic of Ireland.

Photo of Mr Marcus Lipton Mr Marcus Lipton , Lambeth Brixton

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman circulate the statement of Government policy which he made in his original Answer to some of these local Conservative Parties which exploit racial prejudice at election times in areas of coloured population by accusing Labour candidates and Labour-controlled local authorities of being responsible for this immigration? Will he please deprecate this kind of aggravation of racial ill-will for party propaganda purposes?

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

I have no knowledge at all of what the hon. Member is insinuating.

Photo of Mr Cyril Osborne Mr Cyril Osborne , Louth Borough

On a point of order. With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I shall seek to raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.