Commonwealth Citizens

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th February 1963.

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Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury 12:00 am, 7th February 1963

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what documents it is necessary for Commonwealth citizens to obtain from his Department before entering the United Kingdom for a visit.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

There is no obligation on a Commonwealth citizen who is a bona fide business or holiday visitor to obtain any document at all from my Department, or from a British post overseas, before coming here. To make certain in advance that he will not experience difficulty at the port of arrival an intending Commonwealth visitor can, if he so desires, obtain an entry certificate from a British post overseas, but there is no requirement upon him to do so.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply, but is he aware that in the Commonwealth—and especially in Australia—there is a widespread belief that it is necessary to obtain a permit before even visiting the United Kingdom? Will he ask his information officers in the Commonwealth to give the maximum publicity to the Answer that he has just given?

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

Yes. I am aware that when the Commonwealth Immigrants Act first came into force there was some misconception on these lines in Australia. My information is that it has now been removed. I hope that my hon. Friend's Question will do anything further that is necessary completely to eradicate it.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what advice he has given to shipping lines as to the precise nature of the documents which Commonwealth citizens should possess before coming to the United Kingdom for a visit.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

Shortly before Part I of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act came into operation, a meeting was held between representatives of shipping companies and officers of the Home Office and of other interested Departments; and members of the Immigration Service are in frequent contact with the companies' representatives at the ports. I have no reason to suppose that the companies are not aware of the position as described in the Answer I have today given to Question No. 2.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Again, I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware, however, that quite recently, at any rate, shipping lines were refusing to allow passages to be booked by persons who did not hold entry permits into the United Kingdom? Will he tackle this problem in order to make sure that this sort of thing is not done, because it damages the reputation of our very liberal immigration and visiting laws?

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

My hon. Friend may be aware of the leaflet entitled "Admission of Commonwealth Citizens to the United Kingdom", which explains how welcome are people who are coming here on holiday or for business reasons. I know that some shipping companies were at one time inclined to take the line that an entry certificate was essential. I do not believe that any airline sought to impress that false idea on their passengers, and I hope that the shipping lines have by now given up doing so.

Photo of Mr Henry Hynd Mr Henry Hynd , Accrington

Is there any definition of the length of visit? Can it be three months, or six months?

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

The essential point is that the person shall be coming here on holiday, for a business visit or as a student. If the person concerned has any fear that questions may be raised about his entry he can, as I have explained, obtain an entry certificate beforehand.