Miss Carmen Bryan (Deportation Order)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th July 1962.

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The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:

Photo of Sir Eric Fletcher Sir Eric Fletcher , Islington East

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether he has considered the case of Miss Carmen Bryan, a Jamaican girl of 22 years of age living in this country since 1960, who, having pleaded guilty to a first offence of petty larceny involving goods valued at £ 2, was conditionally discharged, recommended for deportation by the Paddington Magistrates' Court on 12th June, and has since been detained in Holloway Prison; and whether, in view of the assurances that the power of deportation under the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, 1962, was not intended to apply to cases of petty larceny, he will refuse to implement the magistrate's recommendation for deportation.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

With permission, I will now answer Question No. 65.

I cannot trace any assurances given in the terms suggested by the hon. Member. Most careful consideration has been given to the circumstances of this case, but no sufficient grounds have been found for deciding not to act on the recommendation which the court thought it right to make. A deportation order has accordingly been signed.

Photo of Sir Eric Fletcher Sir Eric Fletcher , Islington East

Is the Home Secretary aware that when we debated the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill most specific assurances were given that deportation orders would not be made in the case of Commonwealth immigrants for relatively trivial offences and the powers sought were for only serious offences? Does he realise that this girl was conditionally discharged, she has been in Holloway ever since and has had no access to any legal advice for over a month and no communication with the Jamaican High Commissioner? [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] Is it the intention of the Government to treat Commonwealth immigrants, as regards deportation, worse than aliens and to use their powers in respect of trivial offences of this kind— on a first offence?

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

I should like to assure the House that I intend to take very seriously my duties when I receive recommendations for the deportation of Commonwealth immigrants. As to this case, no Home Secretary could treat shoplifting as a trivial offence— [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]— considering how prevalent it is at present in London. [HON. MEMBERS: "Resign."] I am not sure whether the hon. Member is aware that Miss Bryan has addressed a petition to the Home Secretary in which she says that she does not want to stay in this country, that she wants to go home as soon as possible, and that she has no objection to being deported.

Photo of Sir Eric Fletcher Sir Eric Fletcher , Islington East

I am aware of that petition. Is the Home Secretary aware that it was addressed because this young lady was told that it would be impossible for her to appeal and that if she appealed she might be sentenced to imprisonment and then deported, and she obviously preferred to go back to Jamaica than to face the prospect of spending the rest of her life in Holloway Gaol?

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

It is for her to decide whether or not to appeal. I certainly regret the time she has remained in prison. The reason for that was that this was one of the first cases, if not the very first case, of a recommendation for deportation under the now Act. It bad to receive specially careful consideration an that account. Miss Bryan has been out of work for a number of months. She is anxious to go as soon as possible. I think it would be a great act of injustice if I ware to stand in the way of her returning to Jamaica [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

Is the Minister aware that what he has just said is an affront to the feelings of hon. Members in all parts of the House and will be felt very severely outside? As one of his first jobs in his new Ministry, will he not say that he will look into this again? Is he not aware of the words his predecessor used in the course of the passage of the Bill, which certainly made it quite unbelievable that this kind of case would be regarded as suitable for deportation? Is he not aware that this young lady has been kept, as he says she has, incommunicado for quite a time and has been able to have no consultation with advisers? Does he not feel that this is a shocking business? Will he not offer to the House an undertaking to look at it again?

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

No, Sir. I am not prepared to look at this case again. [HON. MEMBERS: "Resign."] I do not understand the allegations that she has been kept incommunicado. She has, in fact, addressed this petition in which she says that she has no objection to being deported. Her one complaint was that she was being retained in this country for so long—

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

Arrangements have been made accordingly for her to leave this country on Saturday.

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

If she wants to go, why does she have to be deported? Why should she not be just released?

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

She has said that she has no objection to being deported.

Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland

If the Home Secretary were put in gaol in a foreign country in similar circumstances—

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

A good thing if he were.

Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland

—would he not apply to leave the country? Does he accept the facts as stated? Does he also accept that a specific undertaking was given to the House that deportation would not be used for cases of this sort? If he accepts both those things, how does he reconcile his action with them?

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

I cannot accept that shoplifting is a trivial offence. [HON. MEMBERS: "Resign."] Once a Home Secretary were to do that it would encourage and not discourage it. I am very sorry indeed that this young Jamaican woman has been detained in prison. [Interruption.]

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

Order. No benefit is derived by anyone from shouting in this way. Let there be order.

Photo of Mrs Bessie Braddock Mrs Bessie Braddock , Liverpool Exchange

Will the Home Secretary tell us what "conditional discharge" means? In view of the fact that the case was tried by the magistrates and a conditional charge was given, will he explain exactly what it means? If he does not, I can do so.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

The magistrates also recommended her for deportation. [An HON. MEMBER: "Answer the question."] It was in accordance with that recommendation that she was detained in prison.

Photo of Mrs Bessie Braddock Mrs Bessie Braddock , Liverpool Exchange

Do I take it that the Minister does not know what a conditional discharge is? Will he tell the House what a conditional discharge means?

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

This young woman pleaded guilty. She was conditionally discharged and recommended for deportation.

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

Does the Home Secretary think that what he is doing is in keeping with the words used by his predecessor? I quote them from HANSARD of 7th February. The Clause makes it clear that the power can be operated only on the recommendation of a court following conviction of an offence which is punishable by imprisonment."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th February, 1962; Vol. 653, c. 515.] This girl got a conditional discharge. Does not the present Home Secretary think that he is stretching those words beyond all reasonable meaning?.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

No, I do not. I have gone into this very carefully indeed, and I have given the House the assurance that in every such case I shall personally investigate the circumstances— [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]— but I have no doubt in this case that the decision was right and that it was in this young woman's own interest.

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

Mr. Dugdale, a Private Notice Question.

Photo of Sir Eric Fletcher Sir Eric Fletcher , Islington East

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I shall seek your leave at the appropriate moment to move the Adjournment of the House on this subject.

Later

Photo of Sir Eric Fletcher Sir Eric Fletcher , Islington East

Mr. Speaker, I seek your permission to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9 on a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, the decision of the Home Secretary to deport Miss Carmen Bryan, a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, on Saturday next. I submit, with respect, that there can be no doubt that this Motion qualifies under the Standing Order as being definite, urgent, and a matter of public importance. It is quite obviously definite, in that it refers to a specific order for the deportation of a named individual. It is urgent, because it relates to an order for deportation on Saturday next, which is two days from now. It is quite clearly a matter of public importance, because it involves not only the liberty of the subject but, in my submission, the integrity and good faith of the Government.

Carmen Bryan is a young lady from Jamaica, who has been leading a respectable life in this country for two years. On 2nd June, the day after Part II of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act came into operation, she pleaded guilty to an offence of shoplifting, involving a sum of 40s. She was conditionally discharged and sent to Holloway Jail, where she still is, with a recommendation for deportation. She was not allowed bail, as the Home Secretary had the power to do—

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

The hon. Member knows all these things so well that he will know that I have no right to allow him to make now the speech which he would make if he got leave to move. Perhaps he will let me have his Motion.

The hon. Member asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 on a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, The decision of the Home Secretary to deport Miss Carmen Bryan, a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, on Saturday next. I am precluded by previous Rulings from accepting such a Motion today, which is the day on which the Guillotine of Supply falls.

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. This clearly puts the House in a very considerable difficulty. The lady is about to be deported. It is a matter on which there is strong feeling here, and there will be outside. Would you permit me, Sir, to ask the Leader of the House, who has heard the exchanges, whether he will take some immediate steps with his colleague to arrange that this young lady is not deported until the House has a chance to discuss her case? She should not just go because our rules happen to prevent us from discussing the case this day. Will the right hon. Gentleman consider that?

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

I will allow the Leader of the House to answer, but I will ask the assistance of the House about this. We cannot have any regular debate now on the matter. It would put me in an impossible position.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I think that you will sense that it is the desire of the whole House that we should have an opportunity to discuss this case before Saturday. As you are precluded by the rules to which you refer from what I thought, if I may say so with respect, was your intention otherwise to accept the Motion today, can we take it that you will grant it between now and Saturday?

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

No, and I should not like the right hon. Gentleman to make any such presumption, because I do not think that it is in my power to accept this Motion on its merits, if I could consider it on merits.

Mr. Macleod:

Accepting that, as you say, Mr. Speaker, you are precluded by previous Rulings in this matter, I should like to consider what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said, and, no doubt, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will consider it.