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Commonwealth Immigrants

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd January 1964.

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Photo of Mr Cyril Osborne Mr Cyril Osborne , Louth Borough 12:00 am, 23rd January 1964

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in view of the continued large influx of Commonwealth immigrants into this country, and the problems they are creating in certain areas in housing, schools and jobs, if he will introduce amending legislation to the Commonwealth Immigrants Act forbidding all immigration for a period of five years, or until the present immigrants have been properly absorbed; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

No, Sir. In my view, the Commonwealth Immigrants Act is effectively serving its purpose, which is to control the rate of immigration from the Commonwealth, but not to stop it.

Photo of Mr Cyril Osborne Mr Cyril Osborne , Louth Borough

Is my right hon. Friend not aware that very serious and regrettable disturbances on racial grounds took place recently in Yorkshire towns? In view of the fact that men of good will throughout the world have found it impossible to solve racial problems, whether in East Africa, in Zanzibar, in India or in South Africa, is it not the height of criminal folly to bring these problems unnecessarily into this country? Will not my right hon. Friend do something about it?

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

The Government did a great deal about it by introducing control through the Commonwealth Immigrants Act. I am thankful to say that we have been extraordinarily free from racial disturbances in this country in recent years. The number of Commonwealth immigrants unemployed is now less than half the number at the time of the introduction of the control. I shall, of course, continue to watch the situation carefully.

Photo of Mr Marcus Lipton Mr Marcus Lipton , Lambeth Brixton

If he has not done so already, will the right hon. Gentleman have a look at the representations which were made by Lambeth Borough Council in a deputation which I introduced to the Colonial Office as long ago as January, 1955? Unfortunately, all of that deputation's carefully considered, constructive suggestions were ignored. If they had not been ignored, many subsequent difficulties would have been avoided.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

Since then the Commonwealth Immigrants Act has been passed and I have available an Advisory Council, sitting under the chairmanship of Lady Reading, which is of great help to me in giving me considered views about the problems that arise.

Photo of Mr Norman Pannell Mr Norman Pannell , Liverpool Kirkdale

In view of the fact that the next influx in the second year of the operation of the Act is so much greater than it was during the first year, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he will indicate what he considers will be the tolerable limits on admissions during the year? Would my right hon. Friend not consider it reasonable in present circumstances to limit the issue of work vouchers to those who have jobs to go to or who have special skills, instead of issuing large numbers to those who have neither of these qualifications?

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

The question of issuing work vouchers is one for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour. I do not think that it would be right to attempt to define a tolerable limit to the rate of immigration.

Hon. Members:

Why not?

Photo of Mr Cyril Osborne Mr Cyril Osborne , Louth Borough

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter again at the earliest opportunity.