As I was saying, mental diseases can range from the mild to the severe, and it is impossible for them to be diagnosed hastily at an airport or seaport.
Secondly, a person can be refused admission on the ground that
it is undesirable for medical reasons that he should be admitted.
Here again the wording is completely vague. What are medical reasons? Where does one draw the line between medical reasons which might mean a severe case of T.B., and at the other extreme a mild early case of T.B. If somebody is all at the port, apparently he can be refused admission, but if the disease is diagnosed three days later when he has reached, say, Halifax, he is allowed to stay in the country and be treated.
Some diseases are curable, and some are completely incurable. Some are contagious, and some are not. There is nothing in the Act to say which diseases mean a person is refused entry and which mean he may be permitted to enter. Where does one draw the line between somebody who might he crippled with arthritis, and is therefore presumably incapable of doing a full day's work and helping our economy, and somebody who may have leukaemia or some other disabling type of disease?
What is the extent of the health check which is to be given under this Act? As I have said, until recently there was only one X-ray apparatus at London Airport. This was used only if the doctor in charge advised its use and if he thought there was a possible case of T.B. There is no certain way of telling whether a person has T.B. unless he is X-rayed. The fact that there was no compulsory chest X-ray meant that the machine was almost useless, and that the majority of diseases went through undetected.
In my view this part of the Bill is impossible to enforce properly and it results in the majority of the work that should be done at the port being done by general practitioners and local authorities when the immigrants reach their towns. It is far more difficult to track down the cases of T.B. that have got through once the immigrants are living in their homes and mixing with the community. It is much easier to pick them out when they come into the country.
What is the solution? In my view this part of the Act should be completely deleted. Nobody who arrives in this country as an immigrant and who suffers from any illness should be sent home. It seems an inhuman way to carry on the practice of medicine, which should know no boundaries of geography or nationality. Most of the countries from which these immigrants come have formerly been under British control for many years, and if their medical facilities are inadequate we have a certain moral responsibility to treat the people coming from them.
As an immediate step and an alternative to this part of the Act I suggest that the Minister of Health should make it compulsory for every immigrant to have a full health examination at the port of entry, together with a compulsory chest X-ray. I cannot understand why the Government are so hesitant about introducing this procedure. They seem to think that it is an insult to an immigrant to say that he must have a health check and an X-ray. They seem to think that it is something to be regarded as undesirable, whereas it is for the immigrant's benefit.
The Minister of Health has asked general practitioners to look out for disease among immigrants. How can a busy family doctor keep an eye on every immigrant on his list, and keep a check on them all? This should have been done when the immigrant came into the country. As well as compulsory chest X-rays when immigrants arrive, annual X-rays should be carried out in the towns where they are living. At the airports there should not just be one general practitioner but a team of doctors, with facilities for full medical examination.
If anybody is found to be suffering from a disease, whether it be varicose veins, chickenpox or something more severe, such as venereal disease or tuberculosis, he should be treated straight away, and if he refuses treatment it should be made compulsory. This should apply to mental as well as physical illness. Surely our National Health Service should be able to cope with these people, instead of weakly turning them away at the port of entry.
Those are the short-term measures which I suggest should take the place of this part of the Act. The long-term aim should be to extend our National Health Service so that it is a service for the Commonwealth as a whole and not just for Britain. We should help these countries to develop their own medical services. When we do that we can implement that part of the Government White Paper which recommends that these medical tests should be carried out in the countries of origin. Obviously this can be done only when the countries of origin have the necessary facilities. At the moment they have not.
The Government can start on this by making a survey of requirements in Commonwealth countries to a far greater extent than Lord Mountbatten's Commission did, in order to assist them financially and materially, as well as with personnel. I am in favour of sending our doctors to those countries and of their doctors coming to this country, so that we have an exchange system between the Commonwealth and Britain. Immigrant doctors usually return to their countries of origin later on.
I have attempted to illustrate the inhumanity of allowing immigrants to come here from their homes and then sending them back for a reason for which they are not responsible, namely, ill health. In a 3peech reported yesterday, the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) advocated the repatriation of immigrants whom he vaguely labelled as unassimilable. Some of us may consider that he is unassimilable on his own Front Bench—but he has a part to play, like the rest of us. It seems wrong that people of whom I speak should he declared by this Act to be unassimilable through no fault of their own. This part of the Act is inhuman and illiberal.
I cannot, I regret, follow the hon. Lady the Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill) into her useful but specialised discussion of health checks for immigrants. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) said that he did not have many Commonwealth immigrants in this constituency. I have to say the same about mine. Moreover, the point was recently made about my party that it is very easy for the members of the Liberal Party to take a stand against the Government on the issue of immigration, because neither I nor any of my hon. or right hon. Friends repre- sent constituencies where this is a serious problem.
This is a legitimate argument, but I would point out that at my party conference this year over 1,000 delegates and candidates from constituencies all over the country, including areas where this is a problem, came out unanimously against the Government's proposals. In the absence of my hon. Friend the Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), who claims that his cold is worse than mine, I should like to put our views this evening on this proposal.
The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale berated the Government for having changed their minds about the Act of 1962. If that is all they have done, there would not be so much to oppose, but they have, of course, gone much further than simply changing their minds. They are now advocating a system of much tighter controls than was laid down in the 1962 Act. When the hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) commented that the gulf between him and some of the members of the Conservative Party remained as wide as it had ever been, because every time the Labour Party moved towards the stand taken by the Conservative Party, the Conservative Party then retreated, it seemed to me that he did not follow up the logic of this observation—that it is highly dangerous for him and other members of the Labour Party to move towards, and in fact to exceed, the demands which were previously made by the Conservative Party.
There are two respects in which the Government's proposals are more illiberal than those previously made. One of the reasons that the members of the Liberal Party were opposed to the Bill when it was before the House in 1961 was the powers it gave to the Home Secretary to empower immigration officers to refuse entry with no right of appeal. But the Government's White Paper wanted to extend this to the power to deport immigrants who are already here and who would not be here for more than six months—again without trial, without charge and without reference to any appropriate tribunal.
In the debate in November, 1961, my hon. Friend the Member for Devon, North, asked a question which was not
answered at the time and I should be grateful if it could be answered by this Government. He asked if it was not a fact that:
… during the war there were aliens tribunals, staffed by lawyers of considerable experience, who decided precisely this question of whether an immigration officer was justified in refusing entry to an alien? If it was possible to operate that during the very difficult period of war time, why is it impossible to do it with Commonwealth immigrants now?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1961; Vol. 649, c. 703.]
I would suggest that an answer might be given to this question, without resort to the explanation that a committee has been appointed to look into the matter.
Indeed, I am surprised that the Government have not been prepared to take fairly immediate action on this, since the present two Law Officers of the Crown were strongly opposed to this aspect of the 1962 Act. The present Attorney-General described the failure to provide for a system of appeal as "an outrageous refusal of an elementary right". The present Solicitor-General said of the Act that it was an extreme case of putting the individual at the absolute mercy of the official without redress or appeal. I presume that they still hold to those views.
I understand that the Minister of Labour will intervene later. I suggest that it might be useful in the issuing of vouchers under the existing Act if Ministry of Labour officials were located in the countries of origin and be empowered to issue vouchers. At present some Commonwealth countries are experiencing delays of up to six months on the issuing of vouchers.
We cannot go into detail on the social programme which the Government wish to implement to ensure the integration of Commonwealth immigrants, but I agree with the suggestion of the hon. Lady the Member for Hitchin (Mrs. Shirley Williams) that immigrants should be met by people who are conversant in their languages at the points of entry. This is done successfully by the Netherlands Government and it is very much needed here.
To give an example, when I came back recently in an aeroplane from Hong Kong there were in the 'plane a few immigrants. They passed through immigration control—as they had work permits; I understand that they were coming here to work in a Chinese restaurant—as quickly as I passed through Customs. However, when they got to the outer hall of the airport they did not know what to do next. They had the address and telephone number of their prospective employer but they had no idea how to use the S.T.D. dialling system. They were not helped by the fact that half the telephones were out of order. It is sometimes difficult for us to use telephones, particularly when many of them are out of order, so it must be doubly difficult for newcomers.
This is the sort of small problem which may seem trivial to us but which is a serious obstacle to someone arriving here and finding himself even unable to get in touch with his prospective employer. It would be a simple matter for, say, welfare officers to assist these people.
I have great sympathy with the point the hon. Gentleman is making, but, without going into the matter in detail, would he not agree that there might be a case for saying that people given labour permits to come here should have a basic knowledge of the English language; that is, before being given their vouchers?
There was no lack of knowledge of English in the case I have described. I defy anyone to read and understand the instructions for using an S.T.D. coin box if that person is not over-familiar with the English telephone system. For many people born in this country the instructions are difficult enough.
The second criticism which my party has of the Government is their statement in paragraph 15 of the White Paper:
It has … been decided that, with effect from 2nd August … vouchers shall be 8,500 per year. …
It goes on to say that 1,000 of those vouchers will be reserved for the Maltese, who appear now to be moving into a privileged category, almost akin to that of aliens. That means that for the rest of the Commonwealth the figure will be 7,500 per year. The paragraph merely states:
It has … been decided …".
On what basis has it been decided that this is to be the magic figure? Is this the figure which was recommended in the Mountbatten Report? One can only assume that, as the Mountbatten Report has not been published, this is not the figure which it recommended—otherwise why was it not used as the basis of the Government's decision? Was the decision taken on grounds of economics? I suggest that this cannot be the reason because we find in the National Plan a forecast that we will be 200,000 workers short by 1970. We also find in the speech which the First Secretary made last March in Sheffield these words:
It is absolutely mad, at a time when our labour force is allegedly over-used and when ou- new force is going to rise but slightly, that we should be talking about limiting the number of people who can be used. This country needs new people coming in to share in the work as much as we have ever needed it.
It therefore seems that the arguments in favour of the figure of 7,500 are not economic arguments.
Moreover, if we look at the breakdown of the number of immigrants coming to this country last year to work, we find that the number who came in on vouchers as Commonwealth immigrants was quite a small proportion of the total. There were 47,000 work permits granted to aliens in 1964. Registrations for National Insurance of citizens of the Irish Republic amounted to 39,000. The number of Commonwealth immigrants coming in on vouchers was only 14,000. That figure of 7,500 cannot, therefore, have been arrived at by considering the economic needs of the country.
What, then, was the basis? Was it that our educational system was strained; that in certain areas we could not assimilate the children of immigrants because of language difficulties, and so on? We are told that a survey of the schools is to be made. That presumably means that the survey has not yet been made, so there is no basis on which to found such an assumption. We know that in certain schools there are problems, but the education arguments cannot have been the reason for deciding on a figure of 7,500.
Was it shortage of housing? If so, how does it make sense that B vouchers are no longer being given to immigrants who have qualifications in the building trade when our own building industry is facing difficulties because there are not enough people or materials to extend the housebuilding programme? If the cause were shortage of housing, one would have thought that B vouchers would continue to be issued to those with qualifications in the building trade.
If it is not housing that has determined this figure, is it that the Government have decided that Britain is incapable of integrating a large number of Commonwealth immigrants'? This could be one explanation, but it would, for me at any rate, be a very unplatable explanation. If that were the reason, it would put us in this country in no position to attack the policies of Dr. Verwoerd or, for that matter, of Mr. Ian Smith. Yet it seemed to me that the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) came near to saying that this was the basis of his argument that it is impossible to integrate these people when he said that Commonwealth immigrants should be treated on much the same basis as aliens. If this were the basis of the Government's decision, it would foreshadow the end of any meaning to the Commonwealth, and I cannot think how the Conservative Party, as the party of the Commonwealth, could accept such a conclusion. We must therefore reject the idea that the Government have decided that it is impossible to integrate more Commonwealth immigrants into our community.
Are we, then, left with the unpleasant thought that the reason for arriving at this very tight figure is a Labour Government worried by a narrow majority and by the undoubted success of the exploitation of racial prejudice by a small minority in the Conservative Party in marginal seats? Is this the real reason for the Labour Party suddenly arriving at this very narrow figure? I would hope not, but it is very difficult for those of us who are wondering where this figure of 7,500 came from to come to any other conclusion.
The Government have to make a choice between principle and expediency. It is a choice that very often confronts political parties, and it is not an easy one. But we have now reached the position in which, if we give approval to the Government's policy, Parliament will be approving a situation in which, last year, more Spaniards—7,800—came to work in this country than will be allowed in future to come from the whole of the Commonwealth. The arguments about dependants astound me. I should have thought that dependants today would be the productive workers tomorrow. I cannot understand the long argument about dependants that we have heard in this debate.
If we accept the figure of 7,500 we shall be accepting a situation in which South Africa will have benefited by leaving the Commonwealth because last year 520 work permits were given to citizens of South Africa, which is more than those to be given to any other Commonwealth country in terms of vouchers if the Government policy is to be implemented These are very serious outcomes of the Government's policy. Before the House tonight approves the continuation of the control the Government have over immigration, we should have some clear answer on how the figure of 7,500 was arrived at.
I have followed with very deep interest and concern every speech that has been made in this debate, not least the speech of the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel). He asked a lot of questions and gave a lot of answers. There was a question mark after his answers, of course, but on one of the questions I think I am able to give him satisfaction. On behalf of his hon. Friend the Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), whose cold we hope will soon be better, he asked about the functions of officers of wartime tribunals. The hon. Member should tell his hon. Friend that those wartime appeal tribunals were dealing with aliens who were interned, not with those who have been refused admission. Therefore his argument on that question ceases to have the same effect.
No one in this House can approach the subject of immigration completely without emotion, or if he can he is a stone. We are dealing with the question of people who are seeking entrance to our shores and we are mindful also of people who have already come to live among us. My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), in a moving speech if I may say so without his feeling that I am patronising because I am going to disagree with some of the things he said, said that we must stand for absolute respect for racial equality. I want to assure the Committee, and I can assure the Committee, that that is just what we stand for. I hope to bring supporting arguments as I develop my case.
There was only one speech, and I might as well get that referred to at once, which I thought went beyond the bounds of understanding. I am sorry to refer in this way to the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr), but some of his references to the subjects who have come to live among us will, I believe, disturb him when he reads HANSARD tomorrow morning. Our main aim on both sides of the Committee and in all quarters of the House must be to establish the maximum good will between those who have come to live among us and those who are the indigenous population. We all have responsibility also—I refer to it in passing—to help in the outstanding work of integration which has begun on a considerable scale by people voluntarily taking their part in towns and cities throughout the land under the guidance of my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Economic Affairs.
Why are we seeking the reintroduction of the Measure? First, my hon. Friends will remember that at the last General Election we told the electorate that we would continue this Measure and these controls as long as we thought it was necessary. In this regard, we are fulfilling completely what we told the public. Of course, there are other Measures which have come since. We have the White Paper, part of which we are discussing along with the Measure. Why is it that we have thought it necessary to have the White Paper and also our proposals for dealing constructively with the question of immigration? First, I turn to the question of education. Everyone will realise that Her Majesty's Government have a major responsibility in this field for ensuring that those who come in are really treated on an equal basis, that equality of opportunity is given real meaning. The head teachers of the London county authority were reported in The Teacher, the organ of the National Union of Teachers—if I may be allowed that little "commercial" for the union to which I have the honour to belong—on 15th October to have issued a memorandum calling for classes of 15 in schools where three-quarters of the children are immigrants, 20 where the balance is even, 25 in schools with a 40 per cent. immigrant population and 30 where the numbers meet the Department of Education's suggested limit of 30.
We must bear in mind the interests of people who are seeking to come into our land and work, and their dependants, if they are to be given a fair chance, will have to have far more attention than we have been able to give to the indigenous children. Naturally, when little ones go to a school and cannot speak the language and the first 18 months to two years has to be spent in teaching them the language, there is a special problem for everyone concerned. I could support this by referring to Circular 7/65 issued by the Department of Education and Science.
But there are some people, I know, who have felt agitated because of the recommendation that 30 per cent. in the school ought to be the fair target. There is no question at all of taking any child from the school to which he is going, not so far as we are concerned. But, of course, this could lead, if no caution is exercised, to all-immigrant schools. We also have to bear in mind the realities of life. Whatever we say and do here, if 80 per cent. of the little ones in a class do not speak English, then the parents of the other 20 per cent. will be agitated as any one of us would be about our little ones if they had to be held back for the teacher to do justice to himself and help the little ones get on.
My hon. Friend referred to the circular which made certain recommendations for national policy for immigrants living in larger numbers than elsewhere. Is he aware that the vast majority of immigrant children in this country are English-speaking? Could we have some clarification as to whether that circular and my hon. Friend are referring to non-English-speaking children? What is meant by the Ministry when it talks about immigrant children? Nobody yet has had a clear answer on this.
I hope my hon. Friend realises that when we talk in this context we are not making up a situation which does not eixst. There is no joy for us in creating a situation which is not there.
I have already quoted what the teaching profession is saying in this regard, and I hope that he is not going to advance the argument that there is nothing in this state of extreme difficulty which faces teachers and local authorities. In that circular the Secretary of State for Education and Science made constructive proposals on how to get additional help for the schools—I will refer to the cost later—so that we might he able to give a better chance for the little ones who are concerned.
The right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) asked who would pay for all this. At least, that was what it came to by the time the question reached over here. The right hon. Gentleman said that it would cost a lot of money. When local authorities have to employ extra teachers, as they do in these areas, when they can get them, then at least 60 per cent. of the teachers' salaries is found by the Government.
There are 7 million children in our schools today, 2 million of them in oversized classes. If not another soul came into our land from tonight, there would be another million little ones knocking at the doors of our schools within five years and in the next five years there would be another million. That is an additional two million children pressing for admission to our schools where already two out of every seven are in oversized classes. We are looking under stones for teachers [Laughter.] We are making massive appeals for teachers to return to the schools. Some of my hon. Friends are laughing at my metaphor, but I have been here long enough for hon. Members to understand my metaphors. I want the Committee to realise—and I am sure that it does—that in education there is a state of crisis where his problem is especially emphasised and exaggerated.
Nobody blames those Commonwealth kinsfolk of ours for gathering together in given communities. I come from a people who were scattered in the days of the depression and I know how the Welsh gathered together in Slough and Birmingham and London, and we formed our Welsh communities wherever we went. But by the very fact that so many of these folk come in with an inadequate knowledge of our language—and, despite what my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Freeson) says, a great many are unable to speak a word of English—they are dependent on other members of their circle who can speak English, and so they gather together.
I have great sympathy with what my hon. Friend is saying and on which he has been challenged. I do not have the honour to represent Bradford in Yorkshire and I have looked around the Chamber to see whether any hon. Member for Bradford is present. If any of them were here they would tell my hon. Friend that practically all the Pakistanis coming to Bradford—and vast numbers of them are working there—cannot speak English. According to the reports coming to me, the problem in Bradford is terrible. If they were here, the Bradford Members would be able to substantiate what my hon. Friend is saying.
I mention this fact only to draw the Committee's attention to the fact that the social services in given areas are under enormous strain and those who carry the local responsibility given to them by Parliament are seeking help from Parliament. I will give an illustration from one city which is receiving great numbers of Commonwealth immigrants. I was told by the director of education that 300 children a month were coming to his area, which meant that he needed a new school and ten teachers every month. Of course he does not get the schools and he does not get the teachers.
It is no good closing our eyes to the fact that unless the Government are prepared to take action, we could create the very thing which all of us are anxious to avoid. I am positive that, regardless of politics, the one thing which we all want to avoid is the clash of races in this little land. Therefore, it is unjust to assume that we do not approach this matter with the same acceptance of the brotherhood of man and the same acceptance of respect for the human personality. But, having to carry responsibility, we have been obliged to take the steps which we have taken.
The hon. Gentleman speaks with great personal knowledge of education which is one of the most difficult aspects of the problem. Can he say how many courses are now run- ning for training teachers to teach English as a foreign language?
Many local authorities are running their own courses to help the teachers. We hope that in 1966 arrangements can be made for a full-time course for immigrant teachers, to help those who are qualified and who come here but cannot speak our language.
We have weekend courses for our own teachers. The Department of Education and Science and the local authorities are making first-class efforts in this direction. I would like to pay my tribute to the teachers who serve in these areas for the way in which they go the extra mile on our behalf.
I turn to the question of health checks. My hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill) is herself a doctor and we listened with very great respect to what she said. None of us likes the thought of turning away a person from our shores because they are sick. I confess, I tell the Committee, that if I had the responsibility I could not, I would not, do it. But someone has to do this for us and the doctors are the people who have to face up to this.
Immigration has not created serious health hazards, but it is sad to note that amongst those who come to us, a much higher proportion of these people suffer ill health due to the conditions under which they live. I ask those who object to any reduction of numbers to bear in mind these figures relating to tuberculosis notification rates in Birmingham, for 1960 to 1962; Pakistanis 18·2, Indians 4·5, Irish 2·1, West Indians 1·3, and ourselves, an indigenous population as a whole, 68.
Medical opinion is that the high incidence owes much to the overcrowded conditions under which these poor creatures live.
I have been following the argument with great interest and I am wondering if my hon. Friend can also give the figure for the number of ward-maids, nurse and doctors of Indian, Pakistani and West Indian origin who keep our over-stretched hospital service from collapsing.
I am going to do all that before I sit down. My hon. Friend must not assume that I am not aware of the great debt that we owe to those who are amongst us. I am aware of it of course. I have paid a public tribute north, south, east and west to the debt that we owe to those who have come to live among us. But I am talking of a situation that now exists and I am giving statistics which my hon. Friend cannot afford to ignore.
Can by hon. Friend answer a question? He has quoted figures showing a very large range of notification rates as between Indians, Pakistanis and so on, and he suggested that overcrowding is a significant factor. Could he say whether this indicates a very significant difference in the overcrowding rates as it affects these different communities?
No, I am not giving way, not for the moment at least. I am advancing this as a serious argument. if it is a question of compassion, of respect for human personality, of respect for the rights of man, are we not also to face the reality that we are already experiencing severe difficulties that challenge the Health Service which is at full stretch, so that my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax appeals to the House to consider ways in which we can deal with the situation?
I want to refer to one other matter—financial assistance to local authorities. The Government make their contributions to local authorities in many ways. The general grant takes into account extra expenditure by local authorities. But we hope that powers will be taken when Parliamentary time permits—possibly during the coming Session—which will case the pressure on the social services in those areas that are carrying special burdens.
Before resuming my seat may I say that we have heard some hard words in the course of the evening about the Home Office. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I often wonder how some of those who are so harsh in what they have to say about the Home Office would deal with these problems if they were at the Home Office. Do they think that we approach our work by abandoning all the principles that we have ever had? Do they think that when we get inside the Home Office—[Interruption.] I hope my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, East will catch the eye of the Chair. It is about time that some of my hon. Friends realised that there are as much principle, compassion and care on this Front Bench as there are on the back benches, and that we are mindful that when we turn to this question of the folk who are coming among us we cannot avoid facing up to the responsibilities that the local authorities bring to our attention week in and week out.
I believe that what we are doing for integration, what we hope to do in the Race Relations Act and what we hope to do throughout the length and breadth of this land by the complete integration of those who have come amongst us, will be worthy not only of this great movement to which we belong but of the proud history of our people in these islands.
If I may continue the non-controversial tone of the Under-Secretary, I should like to tell the Committee that during the past weekend I was driving down a main road in Wiltshire, where I had the misfortune to drive along behind a somewhat dilapidated car which put out its traffic indicator to the left, and then, at a crossroads, did a half-turn to the right and stalled in the middle of the crossroads. I must say that as I went past this car I expected to see it driven by the present authors of the Government's Commonwealth immigration policy.
The hon. Member for Manchester, Exchange (Mr. Will Griffiths), when speaking on the last Amendment to this Bill, said that the debate on aliens control had followed very much the pattern that had gone before in earlier years—for the last 15 years. No one could make such an accusation about this evening's debate.
Two years ago, when a similar Amendment was moved from this side of the Committee by the then Leader of the Opposition, now Prime Minister, the right hon. Gentleman made two points. He said that the present system of control would be replaced by measures agreed and negotiated with the Commonwealth. He devoted most, if not all, of his speech to that point. When the Home Secretary spoke this afternoon, he made not one reference to that point. As today's debate has proceeded, there have been two references to the Mountbatten mission. They have been the only two references to Commonwealth co-operation, which was once the central issue of these debates.
The other point made by the Prime Minister when speaking on the occasion to which I have referred concerned integration, a point which has been touched on by my hon. Friend the Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair) and particularly by the hon. Member for Birmingham. Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley). They drew attention to the need for greater help. particularly in housing and education, a matter on which the Joint Under-Secretary has tonight spent a great deal of time.
For a long time during the hon. Gentleman's speech, I thought that extra help would be offered to the areas which are in special difficulty. Certainly, that appeared to be the tenor of his speech.
In fact, however, we got no further than the remarks contained in paragraph 43 of the White Paper, which states:
The Department of Education and Science is prepared to increase the teacher quota in areas where special staffing arrangements are required in schools with a high proportion of immigrants. Though this may not be of much help in areas which are already seriously short of teachers …
As the Joint Under-Secretary knows full well, it is precisely in the areas where there is a heavy concentration of immigrants that there is a particular shortage of teachers, and yet this evening we got no further than this sparse paragraph.
On housing, to which the hon. Gentleman made fairly scant reference, again we got no further than paragraph 35 of the White Paper, which states, in rather Micawberish terms, that
The solution must lie in a determined attack on the housing shortage generally".
We find, therefore, that every vestige of the main planks of the Prime Minister's speech of two years ago, when the present Government party occupied the benches on this side during a similar debate, has disappeared. What has appeared is an attempt to check the increase in the number of Commonwealth immigrants coming into the country, which, as the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) pointed out so forcefully, is a considerable change of ground.
The A certificates have been limited to 8,500, although I note that if the numbers of A certificates and B certificates are taken up in full, as I presume they will be under the much more restricted numbers that will now be issued, and if the numbers of dependants are similar to those that have emerged from the initial survey taken under paragraph 19 of the White Paper, the dependants even of that limited number of voucher holders will not be far short of the 30,000 dependants who entered the country last year.
However, with the increased limitation on the number of A vouchers, it seems to be certain that the manner in which the certificates are issued will be called increasingly into question and will become a matter of increasing importance. I would ask the Minister of Labour, not necessarily when he comes to reply tonight but in future, to look at the suggestion that has been made by the Bow Group that A certificates should not be just issued but should be put up for purchase by those companies which are seeking immigrants from abroad. The money from the sale of vouchers would help to underwrite the cost of the immigration service and, at the same time, it would ensure that only those firms that had the greatest need for immigrants got them.
A number of speakers, notably my right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) have referred to category B. My right hon. Friend forcefully pointed out the inconsistency of encouraging large numbers of doctors and nurses:0 go to the Commonwealth at a time when we are draining from the new Commonwealth so many in the same category. In my own constituency, in which there are three hospitals, 42 out of the 180 nurses come from the Commonwealth, and I would like to pay tribute to the work that they do. But it is an odd way in which to help the new countries of the Commonwealth which, as the hon. Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill) pointed out a few moments ago, need help in creating their own satisfactory hospital arrangements, to drain out so many of their nurses and doctors.
In dealing with category B immigrants, here at least there is a great role for Commonweatlh co-operation. Category B vouchers should be issued only where there is an agreement with the host country. Commonwealth co-operation seems to have largely disappeared from he lips of hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I hope that in this rather limited field we can look for a comeback in the future.
During the last 18 months the whole pattern of immigration to this country has changed, and now it is the dependants and those who are as it were fringe dependants make up the bulk of the number, and this, as the Joint Under-Secretary of State knows, is increasing the pressure on the schools.
In February the Home Secretary told us that there was going to be a tightening up and a toughening up of the policy of immigration for this group; that in fact the controls would be stiffened in some respects, and that greater efforts would be made to see that the control was effective, but it seems to me that the system as it now stands cannot bear much extra pressure and that we might have to look anew at the whole system of immigration control.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) gave the overall figures for those entering this country. He told us that every year 15 million to 16 million people pass through immigration control at the ports and airports of this country. Of these, 4 million are aliens, and last year 406,000 of them were Commonwealth immigrants. To cope with this vast flood of people we have a staff of 492 immigration officers. I do not believe that it will be physically possible for them to deal with this problem under the present system for much longer, particularly if a greater measure of control is asked for from them.
Let us consider the position at London airport, which I visited recently with the hon. Gentleman. About 5 million people pass through the airport every year, and of these about 1½ million are aliens and about 278,000 are Commonwealth immigrants. To cope with this flood of individuals we have 158 immigration officers, including the chief immigration officers and all those who deal with the administration of this matter. Thus, when there is a rush, it is virtually impossible for them to give more than a cursory glance at those who come through. Indeed, London airport is not the place at which one wishes to turn back those who do not fit in with the rules that have been laid down.
Last year, 900 Commonwealth immigrants were turned back after they had reached this country. Since the Home Secretary's remarks in February and the change in the rules, that rate has now gone up to about 1,500 in a full year. Yet, as we know, within this figure there is an element of human tragedy for those who come from far afield. A 12-year-old boy from Pakistan was turned back. What happens to him when he arrives back in Karachi? This is not the place where humane control can easily be exerted, because to take immigrants all the way to London Airport and then reject them is to get the worst of all worlds.
Therefore, I believe that if we are to continue to exercise a system of control with a wide degree of discretion and instead one in which the controls inevitably get tighter and tighter, we must take the controls away from our ports and, particularly, our airports, into the countries of origin. This was implied by the Home Secretary himself, when he agreed in February that the number of immigration officers overseas should be substantially increased. It is only by having the immigration officers overseas that there can be control in the countries of origin.
However, since February, only six immigration officers of the 492 have gone overseas, and of those one has returned. So the result is that 1 per cent. of the immigration control force has been moved overseas in the last eight months. I believe that we should radically change this system, that far more immigration officers should be recruited and that far more of them should be stationed overseas. It is only in that way that we can maintain effective controls without attracting large numbers of people to London Airport and to our ports, and then sending them back on a fruitless, tragic journey of thousands of miles.
Therefore, I hope—but do not expect—that in the next few months we shall see a drastic reshaping of our immigration officer policy. I do not believe that these men—hard-working, industrious men of great integrity—can, under the present system, stand the extra burdens which will inevitably be thrust upon them. Perhaps this will need some modification in legislation. But legislation in this respect is something of which this Government seem to be notably chary. We heard from the Home Secretary the importance of the Committee which they are setting up to study the whole subject of appeals against immigration officers' decisions and appeal by those who are about to be deported.
Of course, there is a good deal in the White Paper and in their proposals which they admit will need legislation.
The White Paper states in paragraph 23:
The Government propose to seek a general power to impose conditions on the admission of any Commonwealth citizen who is subject to control".
Again, in paragraph 24 we find:
The Government propose to seek power for an immigration officer to include among the conditions on which a particular Commonwealth citizen is admitted one requiring him to register with the police".
This has nothing to do with the Committee which is now being set up. The Government say that these powers are important, yet there is no proposal for legislation this Session. The reason for that lack of proposed legislation is perfectly plain; that on this subject of immigration control the party opposite is fundamentally and basically split.
The warmth of the acclamation for the Government's White Paper by the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) is a sure warning to my hon. and right hon. Friends of the sort of strange bedfellows we are likely to have. The right hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Brooke) is one who would pose the debate on immigration as a discussion taking place between those who, on the one hand, advocate an open-door policy and those who, on the other, want to control the flow, at least in relation to the numbers. However, this is not the real issue and so long as this travesty of the real issue is allowed to confuse and cloud the argument, so long will it be impossible to discuss a rational and all-embracing immigration policy.
That the need for a rational policy is the issue is illustrated by some of the figures which I have been able to extract, partly from questioning the Home Office and partly from other similarly reliable sources. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, the figure of our population of Indian, Pakistan and West Indian origin is now 759,000, or 1·4 per cent. of the population. Yet since the war, according to the Home Office, we have also had 336,000 persons of European nationality settling in this country, not including minors and those who have acquired British nationality through marriage.
No figures are available for the Republic of Ireland, but the control of immigration statistics issued under the Act show that 44,637 people were admitted to our shores last year. Similarly, 13,888 vouchers were issued to white Commonwealth countries, and we have heard from the right hon. Member for Monmouth about the large-scale evasion that has gone on, particularly from the white Commonwealth. A total of 37,496 labour permits were issued to European workers and this year the number, after nine months, was 35,345.
Analysing these figures, two things emerge in regard to European migrants. First, perhaps one-quarter of those permit holders from Europe actually settled in this country and, secondly, the figure is increasing at a time when we are talking about limiting Commonwealth immigration. At the same time, we are imposing a quota of 15 per cent. maximum for any individual Commonwealth country in regard to A vouchers—and this is obviously intended to deal with countries which are what has been called the coloured Commonwealth rather than the white Commonwealth.
I make no apology for this differentiation because this is a fundamental debate and it is no secret that many of the people who most warmly advocated the Act in the first place were at the same time advocating the adhesion of this country to the Treaty of Rome, which would have allowed for the free coming in of labour from European countries. This is the crunch because these people see things differently when it comes to citizens from our Commonwealth.
And here we come to the real roots of the problem because, free from the pious protestations and the hypocritical cant, this debate is not about the control of immigration but about colour prejudice and discrimination against coloured Commonwealth citizens. It is for this reason that when we fix the numbers of Commonwealth immigrants allowed into this country, we are really fixing those numbers not on any scientific criteria in regard to the rate of absorption into this island, but, rather, on other criteria.
How do we arrive at this figure of 7,500 in the first place? Does this figure stand up to any rational analysis? What economic and social surveys have been undertaken to arrive at such a figure? I believe that this is an arbitrary number which was intended to placate the racialist bigots, on the one side, whilst not offending liberal sentiment too harshly on the other. I am sure that it will not placate liberal sentiment, particularly having regard to the treatment of the 1618 year olds, and the arbitrary powers of deportation likely to be given to the Home Secretary. Whether or not we accept my hon. Friend's remark, and I do accept it, about compassion, it is right to say that in the past the Home Office has not exactly been the repository of human kindness.
The racialists in this country will not be placated; all they will do will be to step up their campaign of hate. One cannot argue statistics with criminal psychopaths, and to pander to the idiosyncrasies of these people with their paranoidic delusions is completely wrong. The hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. JohnStevas) put this point in one of the most courageous statements made in this House since the inception of this Government and Parliament. He said that there was a Dutch auction in illiberalism, and in a Dutch auction in illiberalism this side of the Committee will never win.
My contention is that an immigration policy has to be based, not on a negative reaction to only one small section of the immigrants or upon colour, but upon three basic principles. It has to be based, first, upon our own labour needs, and I am hoping to hear from my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour exactly how many people we need to make our National Plan work. Some say an additional 200,000 are needed. I am willing to accept that this number may not be too correct, and I should like to know what the figure really is.
Secondly, there are the social problems. It would be foolish of anybody to deny, and nobody on this side would deny, the confusion and difficulties that arise in parts of our cities because of an influx of people into a very different environment. But there is always a transitional period, a period of change, in which immigrants from whatever part of the world they may come are absorbed as a new group into the life of society generally.
Above all, the problem is a housing problem; one of houses and services, and I hope to show this later. I would only comment now that immigrants are also busy producing homes, and I believe that it is right to say that they are producing more homes than they are living in. They are keeping many of our services going. Our National Health Service would collapse without them. I join with those who pay tribute to the doctors and nurses from the Commonwealth. Many of us in a personal sense have reason to be thankful to them.
Thirdly, I believe that we have also to consider the economic and political status of the countries from which immigration comes. There is a strong argument here for discrimination, and the discrimination should be in favour of those countries which, historically, have a special economic relationship with this country; where we have failed at a time of rapid industrialisation in our own country to industrialise in those countries. Therefore, if there is to be discrimination at all, it should be in favour of countries like Eire and the West Indies, and other countries with high rates of unemployment.
That is why I agree with what was said by the right hon. Member for Monmouth about A and B vouchers, because principally this is a selfish act on our part. I believe that the arguments advanced in the past with regard to the Republic of Eire have always been spurious. If we really wanted to stop evasion we might start by tackling one problem that has not yet been mentioned, and that is the issuing of National Insurance cards. I came across a case only last week where seamen who had deserted their ships were working in Salford almost as semi-slaves for unscrupulous employers who had managed to obtain National Insurance cards for them. This might be a very useful way of checking it.
The argument in regard to the Republic of Ireland does not apply. The fact that hon. Members have said in the past that we cannot deal with the Republic because we cannot control people coming from it is not a fair argument. The fair and honest argument which should be put forward is that we have a special responsibility to the Republic of Ireland, the West Indies, Mauritius and other countries which we allowed to stagnate while our economy was being industrialised. This is something which we should face honestly. I was much impressed by the arguments of an Irish organisation which said:
The colour bar is the essence of the White Paper policy, but it would be a pitiable thing if we were to camouflage this on the
basis that two wrongs made a right—by making the Irish the scapegoat, although the Irish economy has been moulded by Britain no less than that of Jamaica. It is surely the starting point of a rational, and indeed a Socialist, immigration policy that those countries whose economic life has been moulded by British policy should have the first right of ingress.
Instead we seem intent on standing this principle on its head by stopping those who should have the right of ingress. This is a basic criticism of the White Paper. It is clearly dictated by the politics of colour played by some of the lunatic fringe among hon. Members opposite. Those people have not been slow to appeal to the more primitive and more uninformed sections of their electorate and albeit small, but very vocal, minorities. Those who have played that game in the past in Nazi Germany learned at their own cost what forces of evil and bestiality they could unleash by pandering to the disease of racialism.
I call on my right hon. and learned Friend to stand firm in face of those people who because of personal insecurity or inadequacy or who have ambitions in politics, are willing to use this method of inflammatory racialist material and propaganda and who have to be stopped. Already violence and arson have been spread by these people in this country and they are strutting around again as they did in the thirties. We have to deal with these firmly if we are to accept some of the things we are asked to accept in this Bill. I should like to see the Race Relations Act used to deal with this menace.
I should also like it to be extended to the field of housing because it is there that action should be taken if we are to get down to the problem of integration and if we mean what we say when we talk about compassion. If hon. Members opposite mean what they say about integration, we have to deal with this problem of housing. For this reason I should like to extend the Act not only to housing but in order to get down to positive proposals for integration. Discrimination undoubtedly exists in other fields, but above all in housing, and action has to be taken if we are to get rid of this colour problem.
We have to face the fact that colour remains. This is why we get statements, sometimes from our own Government Front Bench, about "immigrant children" when they mean children of immigrants.
There is a grave danger that instead of becoming assimilated—as has been the case with other immigrant communities in the past—because of their colour, despite their assimilation in language, customs and employment, we may be creating ghettoes in twilight areas in our cities. Much discussion has gone on about restriction of entry, but we should think more positively about integration into the community.
The Institute of Race Relations recently conducted a survey in Birmingham and London and its findings could be the starting point for some positive action. Then we would find out who are sincere people in the House of Commons concerning integration and who are playing on this issue for political motives.
Immigrants have financial problems and have to get cheap rented accommodation. The supply of this sort of accommodation is decreasing in the city areas. Many landlords will not take in coloured tenants and the immigrants are forced, therefore, into a situation where they have to club together in order to purchase property. Usually they end up by buying decaying Victorian buildings that still exist in our cities, with the help of loans and mortgages at high interest rates. The only way of paying for these is by letting premises or sub-letting premises and taking in lodgers.
For 11 years during which the last Government were in office and before trey saw fit to bring in that Commonwealth Immigrants Act, they did not do anything to facilitate absorption of tie immigrants. Having created the problem, having brought in the immigrants because this would stimulate our economy—and it has benefited—the Conservatives have turned round and used the immigrants as scapegoats for their own failure in dealing with the Lousing problem. I believe we now have to get down to the task of seeing that the immigrants get out of the ghettoes.
Mention has been made by the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) of the Dutch action in allocating a percentage of housing for immigrants. The time has gone when we could have used this creditable method. A great deal could be done by the local authorities, through a points system, in the allocation of houses to see that immigrants do not start with a built-in disadvantage as at present.
Far more use could be made of the social services to explain the intricacies of house purchase and of putting names down for council houses. The Race Relations Act should be extended to deal with those nauseating people, estate agents, who protest their opposition to colour prejudice but refuse to sell houses to coloured people on new estates, or established estates, for so-called commercial reasons. Building societies also are not likely to favour immigrants.
One of the things we could do, which was suggested in an excellent pamphlet by that Bow Group, is to pay more attention to housing associations of a multiracial character. In the United States, particularly, housing associations of this kind have been able to break down some of the ethnic barriers.
There have been other articles based on rational surveys of the problem in various part of the country. One, in particular, by John Rex, the sociologist, appeared in New Society. He alleged that the Birmingham City Council had shown it was willing to hold up development plans rather than accept responsibility for rehousing immigrants. The same allegation was made on 22nd October this year in the Observer in relation to Deptford, which, it was was alleged, had skirted the area so as to avoid housing any immigrant family.
It is wrong to advocate better treatment for immigrants than for our own people. Heaven knows, some of our own people have endured the slums for their whole lifetime, but, as immigrants help the national economy, why should not the nation help those councils who have acted as hosts to the immigrant community, such as Manchester, to deal with their particular problem?
This is why I should like to see special help channelled to those areas where there is a high concentration of immigrants so that they can be aided with their housing
problem. I believe we have to do something to smash the ghettoes that are growing up in our cities. I believe also that one of the ways was pointed out by an interesting article by a Mr. John Barr who posed new towns as anti-ghettoes in the sense that many of the developing communities would be admirably suited to welcoming immigrants. He wrote:
The results would benefit not only the immigrant but also the new towns. The towns are still malleable, but since they are so self-contained they could in time become tight and insular communities. New non-English faces would be a good thing. So would fewer faces in these concentrations of coloured people in some areas of London.
I believe that, as was said in the Bow Group pamphlet, in the long term an end to the housing shortage would go a considerable way to removing the principal social pressure on immigrant families. Meantime we must take action to bring immigrants in every way into the general life of the community instead of treating them as so many hon. Members have done, as a phenomenon distinct and apart. I believe that only prejudice on our side and possibly resentment on the other stand in the way, and by yielding to prejudice, as many hon. Members feel that the Government have done, we do not help to break down those attitudes and the prejudice and resentment that exist. We need, above all, education and propaganda, and where necessary, I might say to my right hon. and learned Friend, the force of law. A whole new philosophy has to be developed with regard to immigration by planning according to our economic and labour needs, according to the social difficulties involved, and planning also in connection with our moral obligation to those territories whose economies are geared to ours.
So immigration is a challenge to us all. If we can overcome prejudice and build a humane and rational society here based on tolerance and mutual respect, I believe we shall have enhanced authority in the world. We shall be able to say to Mr. Ian Smith not "Do as I say" but "Do as I do". If we fail, I believe that we shall have failed the test of a really enlightened society. I believe that in the long run we shall not fail. I draw strength from the fact that the cotton workers of Lancashire were willing to starve rather than support the Confederate States in the American Civil War, that there is a great spring of idealism in the country which can be tapped, as opposed to the prejudices of racialism. The ideas that inspired the churches, chapels and the Labour movement in Lancashire are still alive. One Smethwick does not make a summer for the purveyors of racial hatred. We on this side of the Committee should show ourselves ready to fight for what is right and what is principle.
I believe that if these issues were put to the people honestly, not as the choice posed by hon. Members opposite over numbers or the open door or the closed door—for that is not the choice—but as a moderate policy of controlled immigration based on a rational appraisal of our social and economic needs and not based on colour, I believe that the people would understand and reject a policy based on colour and accept the policy of controlled immigration based on reason.
The hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) has just delivered a wholehearted assault on his Government's efforts to extend the operation of the 1962 immigration Act, following, of course, the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), who started this attack in one of his always very entertaining but gloriously irrelevant speeches, to which I listened with enormous pleasure. I think that the Home Secretary need not be afraid. His lunatic fringe will never vote against him. His zealots below the Gangway will never vote against him. So he can rest unworried. I do not apologise for detaining the House at a rather late hour because last year I had the pleasure of starting the debate on the renewal of the Act. From there we have made quite satisfactory progress although not as much as I would have liked.
I did not think then, when I listened to the admirable speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary that 12 months later we would not have had a Bill. The White Paper is something, but we really should have had a Bill by now. Events have pushed the Government steadily on what I consider to be the right path. I only hope that they will be pushed a little faster in the future. They have no fears about their future if they proceed with a proper Bill for the control of immigration as it should be controlled. I am happy to say that we have had from the Government benches a singular freedom from the platitudes which came from their opponents who used the usual platitude about integration. People seem to think that all you have to say is, let us integrate somebody and the problem is solved. It is not as simple as that.
During the discussion on the Race Relations Act representations were made, probably quite rightly, by the Jewish community who wanted to be included as racial group. In other words, integration is not complete even for them and the first Jewish immigrants started to arrive 30 years ago. Integration is not a thing which comes overnight.
I would prefer to turn it up in a dictionary. It does not seem in the sense in which it is used for immigrants to be very different.
It has to be remembered that there are certain number of immigrant communities who do not wish to be integrated. There are Pakistanis in my constituency whom I know well who have no desire to be integrated. They want to remain Pakistanis. They think that their community and their customs and their religion are better than ours.
I think that it does, but I am not sure that these communities are in any way prepared to accept it. It may by possible, but the time is not yet and it will take a very long time. The Government realise, quite rightly, that they have to do something practical in the interval.
We have, if I may use a platitude myself, an overcrowded island and it is getting daily more overcrowded. Curiously enough, there is talk about a shortage of labour. It is really a shortage of machines because we are not using our labour properly and I think that the Minister of Labour will agree. If we had used our labour properly and paid the full rate for the job in the past few years there would not have been this incessant demand for immigrants. Now we can see the problems which arise from being lazy about getting the full benefits of a modern age. I hope that the Bill will come soon and will contain the principles which I trust are in the Government's mind.
The suggestion that immigration permits should be put out in the country of origin has much to be said for it, but I am not at all sure that the countries of origin would be prepared to allow that to happen and, of course, the Indian Government, for instance, could perfectly well stop the putting of British immigration officers at Indian ports. More questions need to be answered than are now being answered. The arbitrary quota which we are enforcing has much to be said for it, again as a temporary measure, but it is an arbitrary quota and hon. Members must accept that. More research needs to be done. In itself, the quota will not avoid the major problems which are occurring with immigrants.
It has first to be shown that the immigrant has a job to go to. That is quite sound and proper, but we have to go further than that. We should be assured that he has a decent dwelling to accommodate him when he comes here. That is not an impossible thing to look for. As it now happens, when immigrants come here they have nowhere particular to go and they get into these rabbit warrens where they pay grossly exaggerated rents for a single room. Nothing can be done about it, because the local authority knows perfectly well that if it enforces the provisions of the overcrowding legislation of 1937 and turns out these people, it will have to rehouse them and there will then be absolute hell to pay in the area because of the new immigrants jumping the housing queue over the heads of people waiting for houses. It is hardly surprising that local authorities are prepared to turn away and allow this to go on.
Would the hon. Gentleman explain where these houses are to come from, from housing associations, or private enterprise, or local councils which, he said, would be in great difficulty about providing them?
That is a problem for Her Majesty's Government who, after all, are responsible for or getting the houses built. A point which I did not intend to make, because it is a party point, is that we are already falling short of the housing target, so that it will be very difficult to fulfil this condition and we shall be falling more and more short of that target as the years go by.
The next consideration is that the immigrants must be going to an area where there is education accommodation for their children, if any. We cannot continue with the problem which is to be found in Birmingham where there is constant trouble because there are so many immigrant children in a given school. The Joint Under-Secretary read a very sound statement on this very matter by a professional body. After all, we are directing industry and labour to various places in the interests of the economy, and it seems perfectly reasonable to tell each immigrant that if he wants to come here he should be going to a place where his children can be properly educated without putting an undue strain on the education services. That may require an alteration in the schools programme—although I do not see why it should—but, in any case, that, again, fortunately, is a headache for Her Majesty's Government and not for Her Majesty's Opposition.
There was a proposal that we should allow people in only as vacancies occurred because of people going out, but I do not think that that is practicable. There is a certain attraction about the idea, because it would keep numbers fairly stable and enable us to solve the important administrative problems before getting down to a final policy on immigration. These problems have to be solved before we can have a final sensible policy. We must see that the immigrant population is dispersed a bit so that the new immigrants do not go on adding to the rabbit warrens which already exist. As it is, as they come in they gravitate, naturally, to those places and they make the situation worse than it was before. We have to do some really serious work on the administrative side.
We have a large number of dependants awaiting arrival in this country. It seems that we might very well check immigration until we have these dependants over. These people have the first claim to join their families here. I think that the definition of dependant is fairly narrow and can be maintained in justice. It has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. JohnStevas), that it is inhuman is separate families and not to let them in. I think that is perfectly true. It is perfectly easy, with new immigrants, to find out from them, before they arrive, how many dependants they propose to bring. Having done that we know where we are on the question of dependants and the amount of immigrants that we are going to let in. These things are essential for an intelligent and coherent policy.
I firmly believe that the Government, having started on the right path, may well, I hope before this time next year, come forward with a Bill giving a coherent immigration policy which I will support with the greatest pleasure in the world.
It is rather apt that I should follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for Rugby (Mr. Wise) who started last year's debate, because I finished it then. I think that it is the only time since I have been in the House of Commons that I have ever had the pleasure of having the complete agreement of both sides when I started my speech, at five minutes to one o'clock by saying that I was reluctant to detain the Committee. I received a cheer from both sides, equally reluctant to be detained. Having listened to the hon. Member for Rugby, I feel that he proved once again the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot). I had hoped that I would be able to follow the hon. Member for Chelmsford who is likely to make a more humanitarian approach from hon. Members opposite. But all that the hon. Member for Rugby suggested to Her Majesty's Government on the question of controls was obnoxious and merely sought ways and means of making even worse some of the present provisions of this Act.
I have the honour to be one of the team which opposed this Act in 1962. I notice that I spoke on Second Reading, Third Reading, and 13 times on the Committee stage. Those 13 times were unlucky because I did not succeed in defeating the Government of that day. I remember the events which led to that Act, the pressure of two hon. Members opposite in particular, one of whom is no longer a Member of this House, which forced the Government into the situation of bringing this Act before the House in 1961.
When the party which I serve decided that it was going to oppose the Act it did so after a good deal of deliberation and against public opinion in the country. The hon. Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair) suggested that it was time that somebody gave a lead to public opinion. I can remember the lead that was given at that time because when we were discussing our opposition to the Act, the Gallup Poll showed that the general opinion of people was in favour of restricting immigration, and in favour of a certain amount of colour bar and racialism. To its credit, my party decided to defy the Gallup Poll and we fought a very vigorous campaign on the Floor of this Committee. At the end of the day public opinion had changed, partly due to the good leadership given by the late Hugh Gaitskell, who fought this tooth and nail from the Front Bench opposite, and partly from the way in which the public was educated as a result of the debate.
The party opposite has no differences with us in trying to solve the very real problem. The difference that occurs at the moment is whether this is the right method for doing so. I would contend, as I contended in debate last year, that this Act, far from helping, actually hinders the problem we face in the constituencies. I want to assure my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, for whom I have a high regard and about whose sincerity I would defer to no man in this House, that we realise that there are very real problems, and it is because we have tackled them for a long time that we are concerned that we should tackle them in the right way.
I first met this problem long before I was a Member of this House. It was in 1958 when I was a founder member of the integration committee of Willesden. I came into the House 18 months later, and I am delighted that, six years later, the chairman of that integration committee, who at that time was an alderman and leader of the Willesden Borough Council, is also a Member of the House. I refer to my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Freeson).
We made a tremendous step forward, to get coloured people from different parts of the Commonwealth who came into the constituency sitting jointly with those who were already resident in the area, and others, tackling at the grass roots the problem that we were facing. I again pay tribute to the leadership shown by my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, East, in the practical job of sending two people, one coloured and one white, to conciliate between the parties when there were signs of an eruption breaking out, and so damp down what could have been another Notting Hill in Willesden.
I remember that last year my right hon. and learned Friend the present Home Secretary, in his case for continuing for 12 months what some of us accepted with reluctance, put forward three things which would happen in the ensuing year and which would, it was hoped, make it unnecessary to bring forward the Act this year. The first was the introduction of the Race Relations Bill into the House. The second was Commonwealth action. The third was that there should be overseas development activities which would help us to solve the problem at this end of the pipeline.
The first point has come to fruition. We got the Race Relations Bill—not quite so strongly as one would have liked it to be; nevertheless, it is on the Statute Book and it is now illegal to have discrimination on racial grounds. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Overseas Development has done a tremendous job in a short time at her end of the scale, and so I believe the Home Secretary has fulfilled that part of the bargain.
I would, however, quarrel with the second point that he made because we have failed lamentably over the whole question of getting the right kind of Commonwealth action to make this a Commonwealth combined operation. During the Second Reading of the Bill in 1961, when the then Government claimed that they had managed to get co-ordination and co-operation from the Commonwealth, Sir Grantley Adams was sitting in the Gallery and, as the claim was made from the Government Front Bench, Sir Grantley Adams shook his head. The Commonwealth was not consulted; it was informed. What we had hoped would happen this year was that the Commonwealth would be brought into this problem as a Commonwealth problem, and that there would be a combined operation by the various countries concerned, as well as by us, in order to find ways and means of surmounting the problem.
I would have been dealing with this subject earlier had I been called, because I am particularly concerned with one of the few failures of the Government, namely in appointing the Mountbatten Mission in the form in which it was appointed. The Government must have known that Lord Mountbatten was persona non grata in Pakistan, and so he was off on the wrong foot in that part of the world. During the Recess I talked to the Chief Commonwealth Immigration Officer, who shall be nameless, of another country which was visited by this mission. From what I was told, it was more than useless, and it was a waste of time for the mission to make the journey and talk to that particular country.
I was hoping that we would have the kind of mission that would have some understanding of the situation, not one that viewed the problem from the establishment point of view—what ought to be done for the poor coolies in the Commonwealth countries where the sun happens to be rather hot—but one that sought to do something constructive, such as the setting up of a joint working party, with joint operations. I was hoping that it would be not just an item on the agenda when Commonwealth Prime Ministers get together, but the kind of structural machinery that would be needed to give effect to this. This has not yet happened, but I hope that our discussion of the last eight hours may lead my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Government to think again about ways and means in this direction. I feel certain that they have not yet exhausted all the possibilities that could be found if they had the will to do so.
My main opposition to the Act is because its effect on integration is disastrous. The kind of committee on which we have been working in my constituency and in that of my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, East was shattered when the White Paper was issued. Good people, immigrants, who had been doing a job of work there were saying that they must now form their own racial groups because they could not get protection from the kind of action which has been taking place in the Government. That could be disastrous.
The real problems have been mentioned on all sides and we have to tackle them. Much has been made of the education problem, and it weighs heavily upon the teaching profession. I had great pride only two weeks ago to share a platform with Sir Learie Constantine. We were at a school, which happened to be on the other side of the road in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, East, which has 55 per cent. immigrants.
The figure is now 60 per cent., I am told. It was an inspiration. The head boy was coloured. The school was working on a staff ratio a little better than the rest of the locality but still not up to the standard that my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary would like.
There was a determination to overcome the problems, and they were being overcome. That is the kind of approach we would like to see, not the restriction of controls, but facing the reality of the situation. Whatever restrictions there may be in Willesden will not solve the problem of integration. Our immigrants are already there.
I should like to tell my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour that with the Park Royal factory estate, the whole of the North Circular Road area and the factories all around, it does not matter what kind of restrictions are imposed. While the jobs are there, the people will be there; and while people are there, there will be problems of housing and all the social problems arising from an area like mine which was built up before this century.
The Government are making a large contribution outside the Commonwealth Immigrants Act. The whole range of regional development and redeployment of industry will help my constituency considerably when it gets to work. It is not working at present. No sooner does a factory in my area transfer to Swansea than another firm takes over, and when the new firm takes over, more workers are needed to build machines. As long as that happens, the problem remains.
It has been rightly said of my constituency that the greatest problem is housing. We have had housing problems for the last thirty years. My hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary will be interested to know that analysis of the advertisements to find how many said "No coloureds" showed that at least two said "No Welsh". We had a large influx of Welsh after 1926, and in 1939 we had a large influx of Irish. At the 1961 census there were 9,100 Commonwealth immigrants and 9,400 other immigrants, mostly Irish. They are welcome in my constituency, because the houses that we want are often built by the Irish who are there.
I would say this to my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale who made a relevant speech and went to the crux of the problem, in spite of the comment of the hon. Member for Rugby. This is what we do not like about the Act. We are not seeking planned control to deal with or organise the problems, but against a colour bar which is basically written into the Act. It always will be written into it as long as the door is open for those who have a white skin but closed to those who happen to have a black skin.
The situation has been aggravated by the White Paper because, like my hon. Friends who have made protest and like the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel), I cannot see what logic there is in the figure shown In the White Paper, or where it emerged from. I can see no logical fact which points to it being the right figure.
I consider that the problem has to be solved on the basis of the best way to deal with the people when they are here. I am a member of the Central Middlesex Hospital Committee, where we have 828 nurses, 278 of whom are from the Commonwealth. The hospital service in my area would have to close its wards but for those people. But we do not want to patronise them and say that they come in by our leave. I have been appalled by the speeches of some hon. Gentlemen opposite, in which the main consideration has been: "My lot first, and then, if you can be fitted in and can give us some kind of service, you are welcome." We have heard from them no suggestion of treating these people, who are members of the Commonwealth, in the same way that we would expect to treat members of the Commonwealth who are born in our country.
The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles wondered if there is some point of electoral advantage which has led to the change of attitude on the Government Front Bench. Certainly there has been a change of attitude. We accept that. But I would say to the hon. Gentleman that from my point of view at least there is no question of electoral advantage.
I fought the last election on this issue because my opponent made it the main objective in his election manifesto. In the case of my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, East the situation was aggravated further by the fact that he is a well-known figure in the Jewish community, and not only was the Commonwealth immigration question hurled at him, but the whole subject of racial discrimination.
During the whole of the campaign I did not address a single meeting without having to say why I was one of the team which opposed the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, 1962. I was able to say that I still opposed it, and my canvassers were instructed to say that I supported Labour Party policy. As a result, I increased my majority by 3,200, and in the Willesden, East constituency my hon. Friend was able to win the seat from the sitting Conservative Member. The electoral advantage cancels itself out.
We are up against the fact that there has been and always is in all of us a measure of prejudice. In the kind of pressures that have developed, that prejudice has been allowed over a short period of time to outrun the voice of reason.
At the end of the debate last year, I gave a qualified assent to putting this Measure on the Statute Book for another year, in the hope that it would never be
necessary again. In the final words of the debate, I said:
I hope that the result of the debate will be constructive and that we will see a new approach and a different solution to a real problem."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th November, 1964; Vol. 702, c. 396.]
I say again to my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench that it is not good enough to come back with a rather stale way of dealing with what is a real, an important and a most fundamental question.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) has said, we are in the situation that in the present generation and the next one we have to solve the problem of a multiracial world. If we cannot do it under a Labour Government, I see little hope of our giving a lead to the peoples of the world, the people of Rhodesia, of Africa, of Asia and of the West Indies, on how best to establish an integrated society. irrespective of race, colour or creed.
It is because I am hopeful that my right hon. and hon. Friends will have second thoughts about their proposals in the White Paper so that we can go forward with fresh ideas on these very urgent problems that I am prepared once again to say, "Yes". But I urge my right hon. and hon. Friends not to press us to do it again for a further year.
It must be a point of congratulation to us all that we are still here, nearly eight hours after the discussion was opened so auspiciously by my right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft). I think it is a testament to the importance of this debate that so many hon. Members are waiting here at this late hour, and I must thank the hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt), and the hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) for their gracious references to myself. The least that I can do is to repay them in equal currency and congratulate them both on notable contributions to the debate.
I was extremely interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot). It was described by my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. Wise) as irrelevant, and I think that strictly speaking that is correct, but no blame for its irrelevancy rests on the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, because he has remained consistent to his principles, and he has had the mortifying experience of seeing the leadership and the bulk of his party move on and leave him alone on his rock of principle. [Interruption.] Very well; he is alone on his rock of oratory, and it was a relief to us on this side of the Committee that his Dantonesque oratory was directed not against us, but against his own leaders in a kind of dialogue about what constituted fundamental Labour principles into which I feel it would be impertinent of me to venture.
We are, and should be, grateful for the restraint which has been shown in this debate, particularly so because this is a problem which, if it is to be solved, must be solved by reason rather than by emotion. But, if we are to be reasonable about it, we must get it into proportion, and one feature of the debate which I very much regret was the injection into the debate earlier on by the Home Secretary, who unfortunately has now gone home to Hampstead.
I am delighted that the Home Secretary is refreshing himself so abstemiously and therefore setting an example to us all, but I would rather that he had been here to answer this point, because if I recall it rightly—I do not wish to do him an injustice—I think that it was he who injected into the debate the rather speculative figure of 500,000 dependants waiting to come to this country. From where did the Home Secretary get that figure? Is it based on any research? Is it based on evidence? Or has it been conjured out of the rarified atmosphere of the Home Office?
The first time I heard that sort of figure mentioned in this House was when the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, who crept in a little earlier and has since crept out again, no doubt to get a glass of water, produced a similar figure. It is precisely that sort of figure which distorts the whole discussion because it implants in people's minds fears which are not justified. If one looks at this over the long term, the probability is that the number of dependants entering this country will go down rather than up, particularly because the number of vouchers has been cut down drastically.
I think that most hon. Members would be agreed on the principle of control. I think most would agree that this should be strict, and that the numbers should be limited, but at the same time it is worth saying that there are pressing economic reasons which point the other way. It was the First Secretary of State who, in a burst of characteristic candour some months ago, said that in the present economic situation, with a shortage of labour, it would be madness to restrict immigration in any way.
Economically I can understand that argument. It is borne out by the National Plan, that golden calf of the First Secretary, which, despite high precedents to the contrary, we are all bidden to bow down and worship. There one gets a gap of 200,000 workers by 1970 put forward as a conservative estimate.
Could not that gap in some way be filled by immigration from the under-employed Commonwealth, from citizens who are either totally unemployed or who could be more profitably employed here? That is a question which should at least be put.
I will come down to earth: I will leave the National Plan. I introduced it merely as a matter of courtesy to hon. Gentlemen opposite. Let me take the example of my own constituency, which is rather nearer to reality. We have great troubles over our local bus services: there are buses, but no crews to run them. I wonder if the people in Chelmsford, as they stand in the sleet, rain and snow, waiting for a bus which never comes, would care, when a bus came, about the colour of the Face of the driver of that bus. This is a question which brings the whole problem down to the realities of economic fact.
Some may think that the First Secretary, in making that statement, was indulging not only in a moment of candour but in a moment of truth. Unfortunately, as the Archbishop of Canterbury should have realised, concern for the simple truth is as rare in English politics as it is in English religion. I must congratulate the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale on his concern for the simple truth. The First Secretary, far from being hailed as a prophet and being suitably rewarded, had to run for cover and explain away his statement in the most emollient way possible.
The facts of the situation, whatever the economic arguments may be, are that the country as a whole has decided, for social reasons, that we do not want more than a minimum of coloured immigrants. I accept that position. I do not say that I necessarily agree with it, but I accept that that is the national consensus on this subject. I only wish that the White Paper, which was such a mixture of humbug and hypocrisy, had stated this frankly.
The figure of 20,000 vouchers issued in 1964—of which 15,000 were taken up—is to be cut to 8,500. I regret the quite arbitrary nature of that figure, but I accept it as being roughly in accord with the national will. After all, it is Oxford and not Westminster which is the home of lost causes. I am prepared to fight for what I believe in and I would go to the stake for a principle, but I will not be incinerated for a statistic.
There are two further points, which are also part of the national consensus, which I should like to bring out. First, there is the question of the unity of the family. It is essential to stress this point, because, whenever the Government move their policy towards restriction, there are some hon. Members who wish to move ahead of them and be more restrictive. No system of control would be acceptable to the House or the nation which separated members of a family one from another. It would be unacceptable to the Christian conscience and it would be equally unacceptable to the moral conscience of the community as a whole. It has been stated to be unacceptable by my right hon. Friends the Members for Monmouth and Hampstead (Mr. Brooke) and I also agree with its rejection.
Faced with such a unanimity over such a wide range of opinion, we can only conclude that we are probably right. England, after all, is a domestic country, and it is here that the home above all is honoured and the family is revered. This is a national attitude which is reflected in our constitution, where we have not a person but a family on the Throne.
My hon. Friends have made it clear that however strongly we might argue for control, we argue equally strongly for the equal treatment of our citizens. It would be a mockery to say this and then to deny them the right to a family life. This is a moral matter. To separate families is morally wrong, and for many of us that is the end of the matter. But there are pressing, practical reasons which reinforce this moral attitude. Our social aim must be to enable immigrants to become good and full citizens.
How are they to become good and full citizens if they are denied the normal setting of family life? We know from experience—for example, of Italian workers in Germany separated from their families—how psychological disorders follow complete separation from the family background. Does any hon. Member—apart from the hon. Gentleman who advocated a complete stopping of immigrants into this country—believe that single men herded together in dormatories, separated from all the domestic stabilisers, can be of service to the country? The question has only to be posed to be answered. We should keep families together, therefore, not from sentiment and not even from idealism, but because it is ordinary common sense.
The second point on which I think there would be wide agreement is that while the rules for immigration should be fairly and strictly enforced, they should also be humanely enforced, and this applies especially to families. The danger of strict orders going out from the Home Office to the immigration officials is that there will be much more room for arbitrary enforcement of those rules, and this is particularly true when families are involved.
We know that the wife has a right to come into the country and I was delighted when the Joint Under-Secretary disposed, I hope for ever, of the scurrilous story about immigrants bringing in two, three or four wives. The hon. Gentle- man produced an important piece of evidence when he said that there was no evidence in his Department of cases of that nature.
We know that dependent children under 16 have a right to come in. May that long continue. But what I most regret about the White Paper is the provision which withdraws the concession allowing children who are dependent on their parents who are between 16 and 18 to come in. Why has that concession been withdrawn? The White Paper points out that it might be a means of securing the admission of young immigrant workers without vouchers, but what evidence is there of that having happened? And if there is such evidence, surely it is possible to close any loopholes by strict administration of the law, rather than removing the concession altogether.
This is an important point. It has been made clear in another place by the Joint Under-Secretary who serves in that House that where young people—between 16 and 18 years—are coming to join either both parents or the sole surviving parent, they are normally to be admitted. However, the Committee should know that in this matter there has been a considerable amount of difficulty, such as people posing as being younger and so on. A great deal of thought has gone into this matter —the necessity to tighten things up, and so on—hut I thought I should intervene to make the position clear.
I am delighted that the hon. Gentleman has drawn that modification of the White Paper to my attention.
I appeal now for the grandmothers. Frequently we do not realise how important older people and grandmothers are in certain cultures, particularly the West Indian culture. Here, of course, it is very often a question of hiving them off into old people's homes, where they lead lonely lives, but they have a more positive rôle in the culture of the West Indies, where very often they are the bearers of the moral values of the whole family. Therefore, on both compassionate and social grounds, there are very strong reasons for admitting this part of the family with the others.
I therefore hope that the Home Secretary will take positive steps to see that immigration officers interpret the rules with which they are provided with compassion and humanity, because it has come to my attention that this is not always done. I would say that the vast majority of the officers do what they can in a very difficult position, and I hope that the Home Secretary and the Under-Secretary will keep these matters under constant review.
What I have just been saying is illustrative of a principle that I believe is accepted on both sides of the Committee; that once Commonwealth citizens are here they must be treated as equal—equal not only as regards family rights but also equal before the law, because it is a basic principle of our law that no citizen should be deprived of life or liberty without having recourse to the courts.
I would merely allude here, in passing, to the question of deportation. Up to now the position has been that deportation of a Commonwealth citizen can only take place after a recommendation from a court—deportation following conviction for an offence carrying a sentence of imprisonment. I hope that that principle will be preserved in any revision of that law that may come about, because if there is a question of deporting someone who has entered illegally, the issue of whether that entry has been legal or illegal should be decided by a court and should not be an executive decision of the Home Secretary.
I pass to the third major criticism of the Government's attitude in the White Paper, which is that in approaching the problem the Government show no sign of being seized of the urgency of the problem of integrating immigrants into our community. And by the word "integrating" I mean taking positive social measures so that they enjoy equality of rights, not only in theory but in fact. I hope that we on this side of the Committee will continue to press the Government to take action in this sphere.
It may be that by cutting down on the number of immigrants, a beneficial side effect, though not a necessary purpose, would be that it would be easier to take positive measures for those who are already here, but what would be quite wrong would be to cut down numbers and to do virtually nothing to improve the living conditions of those already here. That is an extraordinary position, and one into which the Government have got. We are building up ghettoes in our great cities in which immigrants are trapped and are unable to get out. This is exactly the situation that has caused so much trouble in the United States, and race riots in places as far apart as Los Angeles and New York. They are not only ghettoes but insanitary and overcrowded ghettoes, because if some mad planner were choosing the areas of Britain least suited for an influx of immigrants he could not have done better than to choose the areas into which the immigrants have gone.
The only solution is, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair) has suggested, to treat them really as development areas. That would accord with our philosophy on this side of the Committee, which is to give social aid which is limited to the areas that need it most. We can improve ghettoes and make them more comfortable, but that is not enough. There is, of course, nothing wrong with living in a ghetto if one wishes to. What is wrong—
There is this constant use of the word "ghetto". There is no statistical evidence provided by Government Departments or the Centre of Urban Studies, which has done a good deal of work on this subject, to support the use of the word "ghetto," which means, as I understand it, that a majority of the people living in that particular district—and it must be a defined district—are people from abroad. That has been established by a study of districts, even down to the enuremation district level of 600, by the Centre of Urban Studies. I think that it does a lot of harm to use that word.
I accept with great interest the intervention of the hon. Member, but certainly I think, without relying on statistics, from one's personal experience of visiting areas of immigration, one sees whole streets, roads and areas entirely occupied by coloured people—in North Kensington, for example. For the purpose of discussion one concedes the point made by the hon. Member, but if they are not ghettoes they approach ghettoes. We have to look to the future. There is a new generation growing up.
Many are born here and know no other country than this. They will not be content to be confined to an inferior position in society doing menial jobs and denied the opportunity of participating in the mobility which is one of the great achievements of our contemporary society. It is for that situation that the Government ought to be planning now. One of the great criticisms of the White Paper is that it shows itself entirely oblivious of this problem which is growing. We should be taking steps for improving the education and opportunities for advancement of all our citizens whatever their colour. This would help to solve the colour problem because there is not so much prejudice because of the colour of people's skin but because of the cultural inferiorities associated in people's minds with colour, and that is the real cause of the problem.
All who have studied this problem know how difficult it is. I think that the feelings of ordinary men and women are not so much of prejudice as of confusion. In this position we can appeal to the worst in human nature and seek to exploit it for partisan advantage or we can seek the best and try to fashion a solution in the national interest. It is our duty to take positive steps by legislation to improve the situation and back that up by an appeal to the tradition of generous social service and idealism which, fortunately, is so strong in this country. If we do that we shall evoke a response from the nation commensurate with the problem we face and the issues of human happiness involved.
I had the fortune last year to follow the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) in a similar debate. On that occasion I was forced, not at all reluctantly, to pay tribute to what he said. I pay tribute today again. He obviously finds the same difficulty vis-à-vis his Front Bench as I find vis-à-vis my Front Bench. He has gone out of his way to avoid making any accusations, and I promise that I shall do the same.
There is no shortage of sincerity in this place; we are all sincere. The trouble, and this is the worst crime in politics, is that some of us are wrong. This, of course, is where we differ. The hon. Member has provided a few pegs on which I can hang some comments. The question of ghettoes, referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Freeson), is a matter about which there is some confusion. I should like to reinforce what was said about it. I think I would not be wrong in suggesting that the immigrant population in the constituency of the hon. Member for Chelmsford is small relative to that in the constituency which I represent. Although there are concentrations of immigrants in certain areas, they are not in ghettoes. In those areas of high concentration, the relationship between the immigrant and the host community is extraordinarily variable, but, most important, throughout the growth of the immigrant population in this country the predominant keynote has been one of tolerance. It has been one of grumbling and resentful tolerance sometimes, but it has been tolerance.
The question I put to the right hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Brooke), a former Home Secretary, who claimed that following the introduction of the Commonwealth Immigration Act, 1962, he had received reports from the police of an improvement in the relationship, is a question which no one has put to him. What was responsible for the breakdown which followed so shortly after that extravagant claim?
The other thing I wanted to comment on was the remarks of the hon. Member for Chelmsford about grandmothers. Grandma, in the West Indies even more than here, and I personally regret this, is the host to the children. There has been a lot of talk about the dependants of immigrants as though they were wasters and parasites coming into Britain to use our resources and contribute nothing. As long ago as 1961, at the time of the census, figures were brought to light showing that the number of immigrant women employed was significantly higher than the number of women who are born here. To talk about immigrants' dependants in a rather condescending way is characteristic of the Opposition, who are beginning to find that they need new targets for their arrogance and condescension and think they have an easy one in the immigrant population.
We have heard tonight from one hon. Member on the Opposition Front Bench, speaking in terms of the most offensive patronage. This is something which I think must have some influence on the relationship between the host community and the newly-arrived community. The House of Commons has a great responsibility in influencing this relationship. I am wholly with the hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) when he claims that the vigorous campaign conducted by the Labour Party, when in Opposition, against the Commonwealth Immigrants Act made an important contribution to maintaining racial tolerance in this country when it was endangered by the views expressed by Conservatives, views that have continued to be expressed in the last year and have again found expression tonight.
The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. Wise) produced his own Private Member's Bill tonight to expand the Commonwealth Immigrants Act. What a parlous piece of discrimination this was. But the keynote of the whole debate was set in its earliest stages when in the most glutinous speech I have yet had to tolerate from the Conservative benches, the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) was forced to say, with what I could only describe as disarming honesty, that we were talking about a colour problem. We have not sufficiently stressed this. This is what we have been saying on this subject.
One day the hon. Member may learn that it is no more an insult to a man to say that he is coloured than to say he is a Jew or has got a red head. When the hon. Member learns that lesson he will know more about tolerance.
The right hon. Member must not try to teach me tolerance. I can teach him about being called a Jew. I have been subjected to this and this is why I have been so passionate about the coloured immigration problem. The word "Jew" in a certain context is meant as an insult and I have been subjected to it. Let the right hon. Member not try to teach me lessons about this. I learnt them at a very early age. The same is true about the coloured immigrant. When the right hon. Member for Monmouth proclaims that he is talking about the colour problem he is endorsing what so many of us have been saying since the White Paper was published.
This is a colour question. It is based on discrimination between coloured and white. The right hon. Member for Monmouth has endorsed that. That is what we continue to say, and that is why we are opposing by every means open to us the continuance of an Act which we opposed throughout its introduction and its extension on a basis which, despite the claims that research has been done for months, does not seem to me and many others to accord with the findings of that research, whether that research is conducted by sociologist Professor John Rex, the Institute of Race Relations, the Centre for Urban Studies or in the simple way that some of us with responsibility for immigrant communities conduct it—on the doorstep.
Let me tell the Committee one of the ways in which immigrant colour problems arise. On a rather depressed flatted estate in my constituency, a coloured family was rehoused. The borough council—I am not ashamed to say this—slid it badly and had not prepared for it. It thrust a coloured family into the block of flats, overcrowded already with many people who had been on housing lists for a long time. Inevitably, that caused resentment. All credit to the three political parties. We all came together on the tenants' association platform and decried this sort of discrimination. I wonder whether the Conservative Party in my constituency would be able to do that this week in view of what has been said from the Opposition Front Bench about colour problems. The three of us agreed that there should be no colour discrimination. When I went back to the flats a month later, an elderly lady, a neighbour of the coloured family, answered the door. In reply to my inquiry, put as discreetly as I could—"How are you getting on with your coloured neighbours?"—she said, "Oh, they are lovely. We often pass the time of day". This is the way in which simple sorts of education can help personal relationships.
No one knows this better than my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, East because he has been doing it on the doorstep in a way which should be an example to any of us. I wonder how many houses with immigrant families inside them have been entered by the right hon. Member for Monmouth. Perhaps I need not have asked the question. because in succession to all that has been said previously he can claim, I am sure. that some of his best friends are immigrants. This has been said before, and perhaps it is not inopportune that the right hon. Member for Monmouth should come to the Dispatch Box and make his rather unnecessarily condescending remark at a time, Mr. Lever, when I am proud to think that a fellow Jew is occupying the Chair in this Committee.
I think that I should not apologise to the Committee for disturbing the even tenor of this debate. It is a debate which has made me angrier than any which has preceded it in the past year during which I have had the honour to serve here. I make no apology for not adopting the rather sweet and benign attitude of the hon. Member for Chelmsford. I think that this is something to get deeply angry and passionate about, and I do not apologise. Nor do I share the view, which is held very sincerely by some of my colleagues, that this is a non-party matter, that this can be discussed across the benches. There is, of course, a welcome identity of view between myself and some of my hon. Friends and people like, if I can claim him as a friend, the hon. Member for Chelmsford or some hon. Members who, alas, are not here but should be occupying the Liberal benches. Of course, there is a certain to and fro. But what bedevils and bewilders us is the strange coming together of the Front Benches. I have said that there is no shortage of sincerity. Who on earth could accuse an hon. Member like the Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department of insincerity? He is the sweetest one we have ever had, and will be welcome to take a glass of water with me whenever he likes. [An HON. MEMBER: "Coloured water?"] No, plain.
This is a debate which should never have started off on a cross-party-and-let-us-all-be-gentlemanly basis. There is nothing gentlemanly about a principle which divides people, as the right hon. Member for Monmouth has said, on the basis of colour. Some of us have been through it and we have been divided. Let me say frankly to the Committee that it was not so many years ago that my grandfather found it necessary to change his name from Kerstein to Kerr. I am beginning to wonder whether I should not blazen it forth and change my name back again. It is not a matter for pride in the tolerance of this country that views such as we have heard could be expressed.
I charge the Opposition, not my Front Bench, for leading this country to an attitude of colour discrimination. I charge the Opposition for the fact that they have never repudiated the unhealthy views, to put it at its kindest, promulgated by some of their newly found colleagues. I charge the Opposition for a further extension for this kind of discrimination. I repudiate it with a passion which I did not think I had and I am not ashamed of it.
Mr. Harold Gorden:
The speech which we have just heard has been in line with many from the benches opposite attacking my right hon. and hon. Friends for what happened a year or two ago when this Act was brought into being. One only has to read the speeches made then and the attacks made on my hon. Friends by the party opposite to realise that things have not changed very much. Fair enough, the back-benchers have been consistent in their arguments against my party. The attacks came not least from the Labour Members of Parliament from Birmingham, particularly the hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell). Today I was reading some of the scurrilous things he was saying about my party and myself because of the Act to control immigration. Of course, it is obviously convenient for him not to be here tonight. He knows that some of the things he said then could not stand up in view of the action of the Government. of which he is a member, in continuing this control.
There has been one very sincere speech, that from the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot). Quite clearly he put the whole responsibility for continuing the Act on his own Front Bench. Other hon. Members have tried to skirt around this by attacking my party, but the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale said quite clearly that he was attacking his own Front Bench. But the hon. Members who share his view do not propose to go into the Lobby tonight against their own Front Bench.
This is perfectly true. I am pointing out that it is most unfair to attack my party in this way. The Government could have let the Act die. It could be forgotten and abandoned but for the Government's action in continuing it for another year.
Of course I would oppose such an action, but at least that would be consistent, for I have always taken this attitude, as the hon. Gentleman knows, quite unlike himself and his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) who clearly admitted that he had changed his mind on this issue. I still think that control is necessary and I congratulate the Home Secretary on tackling this matter fearlessly.
We have now reached a stage when, but for a few hon. Members on the back benches opposite, it is generally agreed that more control is necessary. Further, we have reached the stage when it is generally agreed that more stringent control is necessary if we are to accept the White Paper and the evidence of the Home Secretary and the view that on present figures another half a million immigrants will be added to the present number in the next ten years—a conservative estimate.
We are thus moving slowly but surely to greater control and we must acknowledge the work of the Home Secretary in bringing forward the additional measures of the White Paper. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, the present difficulties arise mainly from illegal entry and the enormous number of dependants. Having reached the very small figure of 8.000 immigrants a year, is it not time to call a halt for a couple of years in order to allow some of the dependants to come in rather than admit more voucher holders? We have got the figure down bit by bit—both parties have contributed to this—and today the figure was given as being 7,500. We must be approaching the time when a complete ban could be imposed for a year or two to enable recovery to be made.
Coming from Birmingham, I cannot let the debate pass without adding to what has already been said about the strain on education and housing. The Socialist-controlled local authority in Birmingham does not agree with the Government's recommendation about spreading the load and does not accept that immigrant children must be spread out. However, whatever happens in any local education authority area, it is generally admitted that the strain on educational facilities is enormous. I agreed with the Joint Under-Secretary when he pointed to the stresses and said how they justified further control for this if for no other reason.
As my hon. Friends have said, it is not the fault of the immigrants that the housing situation is as it is. It is not the fault of the immigrants that these services are so severely strained. It is the fault of Parliament. Through the years the controls have never been early enough or strong enough. We must accept this. I would like to know from some hon. Gentlemen opposite who are opposing their own Front Bench how many people they would let into the country. How many do they propose that this country can take? Another million, another 10 million or 50 million? There are that many people ready to come in.
There is nothing to suggest that the figure would be exaggerated at all. The hon. Gentleman may he making a speech in these terms and I would like him to tell me what is the figure he would allow into the country. He does not agree with anything that his own Front Bench has said: he does not agree with anything that my Front Bench has said about control. Would the hon. Gentleman tell us the figure and then we shall know where he stands?
Surely the point is that the hon. Gentleman is arguing for restriction of only one group of immigrants. What about the number of other immigrants coming in from other sources? Is he applying his argument to those?
I will deal with the point which was just thrown across the Chamber to me in the course of my remarks. I want to start by expressing my dismay at most of the speech that we had from the Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department. This is not to question his sincerity but it is to question the value of the content of the speech. It is not good enough to stand in this Committee, or on a public platform, and make exaggerated and passionate statements about the country "bursting at the seams", or about "floods" of people about to come in if we do not impose tighter controls, or to say that the social services are going to break down, and to use this kind of exaggerated language if we are trying to deal with the problem sensibly, rationally and humanely.
Nor is it good enough to introduce a number of statistics which are very questionable indeed, not only in themselves but in the context in which they are used. I intend to pursue further one of the figures given by the Joint Under-Secretary dealing with the intake of children into a particular education authority. I intend to take it up with the Department of Education and Science because I do not accept it as being an accurate figure. It was the example of an area in this country receiving 300 additional children per month—which produces 3,600 children per year. I would be most interested to learn what local education authority, divisional area or whatever, is experiencing such an influx of children additional to its present population.
The reason why I stress this in my introductory remarks is because well-meaning though they may be, either in terms of the subject about which the speech was made, or in terms of trying to score points in debate, these are the kind of statements, exaggerations and misuse of statistics which add to the difficulty of understanding the problems facing the country, and add to the difficulty of achieving sound integration. It is this kind of so-called information which is picked up by people outside of this Chamber and thrown around the country in conversation, speeches and articles, and which adds to the misunderstanding and distortion of the true situation which we have in our towns.
The most interesting thing about tonight's debate is that, with one exception only, every speech on this side of the Committee has been critical of the Government's policy, and every speech on the other side of the Committee has been in support of that policy, as reflected in the continuation of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act and in the tighter controls and the greater restrictions proposed in the White Paper.
What is more, we are now reaching the situation—we have seen it tonight—which has been forecast by those of us who have been expressing concern about the Government's attitude to race relations during the past year. Speaker after speaker on the other side of the Committee has said, "We thank the Government for doing what they are doing or what they are going to do. We regret very much indeed that they are delaying certain very restrictive legislation"—legislation which will be a serious interference with the civil liberties of the subject—"but what you have done and what you intend to do is not enough." Various suggestions have been made; for example, that no more dependants should be admitted, that there should be no more immigrants allowed into the country, only male workers should be allowed in, and so on.
Let there be no mistake; although the Government may think that they have won the day and have calmed the situation, that they have cut across party politics because they have retreated steadily over the past 12 months in the face of what we have had from the party opposite, from now onwards there will be a very vociferous minority putting down more Questions on the Order Paper month after month. There will be speeches containing the kind of suggestions that we have heard from the hon. Members for Rugby (Mr. Wise) and Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Gurden). Do the Government think that we have now lost sight of this kind of conflict in the House and throughout the country? If they do, they are living in a fools' paradise.
One of my great moments in this House was when I heard the attack, which was so strongly criticised by hon. Members opposite, made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Peter Griffiths), and on the Front Bench opposite who refused to dissociate themselves from the kind of filthy campaign which was waged in Smethwick. Smethwick was the political trauma which hit this country and this House.
I was even more thrilled when I heard my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister speak at the Labour Party Conference which followed the election and use these words with reference to racialism:
… our hands must be clean. And in your name I have condemned and will condemn every so-called Labour Club which operates colour discrimination and every group of misguided workers who try to operate colour prejudice in their working relationships.'He hath made of one blood all nations to dwell upon the earth.' This Labour Party of ours is more than a political organisation; it is a crusade, or it would be better that it did not exist.… Never in our history has Britain stood so greatly in need of the principles which our faith can generate.
I still believe in those words. But they are not reflected in the White Paper nor in the steady retreat that we have seen on the Front Bench against the kind of nasty Parliamentary Questions and speeches which have been heard in this House and in the country from certain Members of the Conservative Party.
My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary challenged us earlier, understandably, because he thought that we were questioning the Government's sincerity. He thought that we were questioning the attitude of mind which still underlay their thoughts on race relations in the light of the White Paper. This is not what we were intervening about. Let there be no cavilling about this. We have been told by certain hon. Members opposite, and by others—and my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) underlined it well—that there has not only been a change of mind, but that there has been a retreat from principle. I shall not play about with words. This has been a retreat from principle.
I could understand it if we had had sound and detailed argument tonight from the Minister to support the policy as reflected in the White Paper, which will tighten up and extend what has been done under the Commonwealth Immigrants Act. I would have understood it even better had the White Paper applied some kind of factual material to the presentation of its proposals. The interesting thing, however, is that there has not been one argument in the White Paper. There is a great dearth of facts because—I repeat what I have said, both outside the House and inside it at Question Time—they have not been collected by Government Departments. They have not undertaken the right kind of reports or research to get understanding of the problems—not this so-called great problem with a capital "P", but the problems involved in integration in areas of bad housing and social conditions. If they had had the facts, they could have given them in the White Paper.
Since the publication of the White Paper, we have seen a more solid body of information being prepared by the Young Fabians, by the Bow Group and by the Liberal Party Study Group on this issue, in the documents they have published, than the Government could produce in the White Paper. That is astonishing, but it leads us all the more to question the kind of policy which we are being asked to support.
I am under no illusion. The policy will go forward. The Government have given way to some degree, and we must not belittle the importance of the delaying measures that are being taken with regard to the legislation originally proposed in the White Paper. We must not belittle this, but it will take a long, hard slog—a matter not of weeks or, perhaps, months, but, it may be, years—before we can once again get some rational thinking and soundly-based principles introduced into our public policy-making in this field and before we can get away from the kind of emotional language which we have been getting more and more frequently from Ministers, as well as from hon. Members opposite, about the "floods" of immigrants which must be stemmed because our social services are "reaching breaking point". That is the kind of language used by responsible Ministers and which was used by certain hon. Members opposite when the 1962 Act was mooted. It was the kind of language that we deplored from the Labour benches in the House of Commons and throughout the country.
The only reason to be given by the Government for the cut-down, the severe restriction and, indeed, the imposition of the quota ceiling on Commonwealth immigrants was that given by the Leader of the House in making his statement on
2nd August, when he said that the White Paper measures were necessary because
there is a limit to the number of immigrants that this small and overcrowded country can absorb."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd August, 1965; Vol. 717, c. 1058.]
I may well come back to that a little later, but I should like to remind the Committee of what some of the Ministers in the present Government have had to say in answer to it. For example, we heard from the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations that
We on this side are clear on our attitude towards restricted immigration. I think I speak for my right hon. and hon. Friends by saying that we are categorically against it"— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th December, 1958; Vol. 596, c. 1576.]
What did the hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell), now "Minister for Sport" in the Department of Education and Science, say? He wanted "the open-door policy, not least for moral and ethical reasons".
The Minister without Portfolio described the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill as
a distasteful, bad and unnecessary Bill—an unjustifiable Bill.
It betrays one of our most cherished traditions, the tradition of admitting citizens of the British Commonwealth to this country as of right, regardless of colour, creed or numbers." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th February, 1962; Vol. 653, c. 257.]
I could quote many other statements from members of the present Government on this issue, but time forbids.
In the course of the debates that took place on the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, the Labour Opposition forced concessions from the Conservative Government; for example, such things as allowing common law wives in as dependants, a fairly free flow of part-time students who would be undertaking work as well as study, which is the common pattern in student life throughout the world. There were strong and fairly successful efforts to weaken the powers of deportation under the Bill so that they would not be extended as far as they were originally intended.
Those were the kinds of things that the Labour Opposition fought for; yet those three points which were considered so fundamental at that time are being overturned if the White Paper is implemented in full. The very concessions which the Labour Party won in its hard political battle in 1962 are going to be overturned now that it has come to power. It cannot be for electoral reasons, as has been mentioned once or twice during the debate.
For we have had the hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath who said:
In a Christian country it is not the job of a political leadership to decide its first priority on the basis of electoral advantage. The only decent basis for decisions by the Government is that of ethics and morality.
The Minister of Defence in the present Government had this to say about political popularity. He said:
We on these benches … who have spoken against the Bill know that it was an unpopular fight from the point of view of the bulk of public opinion in this country, and I do not think that anyone who has opposed the Bill has been unconscious of the fact that he may pay personally or through his party some political penalty for it. … This has been a real example of political leadership, and it has paid off in the resultant effect on public opinion."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1962; Vol. 654, c. 1269.]
My hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) referred to that earlier. It was a fact that public opinion was being improved as a result of the stand taken at that time against the Tory Party and the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill.
What did the Attorney-General in the present Government say about the Bill? He said:
Our law does not know and never has known any distinction between British subjects in respect of race or colour … it is about the most depressing Parliamentary development for a very long time.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th December, 1961; Vol. 1650, c. 1240.]
If he said that in 1961, what are we to say about the White Paper in 1965? Is it more depressing or less depressing than that very sad parliamentary development in 1961 to which the Attorney-General referred?
I am going to continue with some quotations from speeches, because it is necessary to remind members of the Government of what they said firmly and strongly, and what we thought as back benchers they believed.
Referring to part-time students, the Minister without Portfolio said:
Students ought not to be penalised because they are poor. There ought not to be
provision which merely enables those students to come who can afford full-time education. We want to encourage students like those who have been coming here who have managed to combine the earning of a livelihood with devoting their spare time to profitable and useful study … because they are the kind of individuals we want to encourage."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th February, 1962; Vol. (53, c. 3741
What do the Government say to that idea, in the light of their White Paper?
In relation to the point which was made much of by the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas), the Under-Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs said:
I also consider that there should be an absolute right for mothers and fathers to come and join their children who have settled in this country. The principle of family life and its sanctify should be respected in a Bill such as this. We hear the most unctuous sentiments from Ministers of the Crown—from the Home Secretary, the Minister of Education and others —about the need to cherish Christian ideals. Honour thy father and thy mother '. That should appeal to the Government. They should give us an absolute assurance that people will not be separated from their mothers and fathers."—[Orricint. REPORT, 5th December, 1961; Vol. 650, c. 13071
What is going to be the position under the White Paper? Are the mothers and fathers of people who have migrated to this country to be given the absolute right for which the Front Bench Labour Party spokesmen asked at that time, or are they to be denied it? The White Paper suggests that they will be denied it. I still hold the view that these people should have that right, and I hope that Members of the Government still hold it and that they will think again about the contents of the White Paper.
I have a very good reason for raising this issue. As my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of States knows, I have personal experience of a very sad case which tooks months to fight through and get agreement to allow a prematurely retired Anglo-Indian couple to join their children in this country. The children were capable of looking after them, and they had good living accommodation available for their parents, but they and I had great difficulty in getting the matter settled, and I have no doubt that other hon. Members have had experience of similar cases.
The statements which I have quoted were made in 1962, only three short years ago. What has happened since then? We are entitled to know, and the White Paper or the Minister should tell us what has happened. We should be given this information. We are entitled to have a properly argued case presented to this House and to the country, but we are not getting it. All that we have got—and I have been attacked for saying this elsewhere, but I say it again now—is what I can only describe as a shoddy White Paper.
It proposes measures which, as recently as the end of May of this year, two months before the White Paper was published, the Home Secretary described as
drastic and unpleasant, 'and' inherently repugnant to the whole concept of Commonwealth.
Is it surprising that innocent backbenchers like myself stick to the views expressed in May. As my right hon. and learned Friend said, the White Paper is a repugnant document. It has not changed in two months, or in six months. The measures it contains today, and which my right hon. and learned Friend and my hon. Friend are defending, are the measures which my right hon. and learned Friend attacked in May. I agree with what he said then. Does he agree with himself now?
This change of policy has gone almost unexplained, either here or at the Blackpool Conference. Nor has it been explained in the three or four speeches which Ministers have made on the subject in different parts of the country. The only explanation that we have had on the subject was that of my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Foley) who, as the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, has a special responsibility in this matter. Speaking at Bradford in October he said that "the only reason" for the changes outlined in the White Paper was the widespread prejudice that had grown up in this country. That was not said at the Blackpool Conference, nor has it been said in this House.
We have been told about housing difficulties, about the social services being overstrained and reaching breaking point, and about the "flood" of people waiting to come here if we keep the doors as wide open as they have been, but the junior Minister with special responsibility in this field—not an ordinary back-bencher like myself—said that the "only reason" for the changes outlined in the White Paper was the widespread prejudice that had grown up in this country.
I believe that it was one of the Joint Under-Secretaries of State at the Home Department who said that the real need was for a breathing space, a pause. There is nothing about a breathing space or a pause in the White Paper. We have had no statement in the House that it is intended to run this policy for one year. two years, 18 months, three years, or some other period of time. We are not told that it is to provide a breathing space.
It is rather interesting to note that that kind of phrase was used by Mr. Butler, as he then was, when he was the Minister responsible for the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill which was introduced in 1961. He said that it was necessary to have a breathing space, but nearly four years have passed since then, and we still need a breathing space to deal with race relations problems. The odd thing—or is it so odd; it is a sad and tragic thing—is that the public attitude to race relations in this country is much worse than it was twelve months ago. Make no mistake about it, this Parliament has a grave responsibility in this matter, and that includes every hon. Member of the House. In so far as the Government should be giving a lead in this kind of situation, the Government have the main responsibility. They have failed in it.
Other reasons have been given, of course, which have been contradicted by the statement about the only reason being a high level of prejudice. There has been much talk of evasion. In fact, the Prime Minister himself, as well as the Joint Under-Secretary of State at Black-pool, stressed this as being one of the two reasons for the White Paper—
I beg my hon. Friend's pardon—Minister of State.
This was given as one of the two reasons. There was no impression there of prejudice being the reason: the only reason was that there was a threat of a social explosion of some kind, to which I will return in a moment. The Prime Minister spoke of a social explosion and of widespread evasion.
I challenge the figures which are given constantly in the House and elsewhere. I do not believe that they are based on a proper analysis of immigration in this country. I must give some credit—probably the only credit I will give—to the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft), who earlier tonight mentioned the fact, to which little attention has been paid in the rest of the debate, that by far the highest level of evasion, and the most quickly rising, is to be found not among citizens of the new Commonwealth countries, but among those from the older Commonwealth countries.
But can any Minister stand up and say that it is because of a high level of evasion from the older Commonwealth countries that the White Paper was presented? We know that this is not the reason. Yet the Home Secretary himself, in answer to a Parliamentary Question which I put down much earlier this year referred to a figure of 10,000 from the new Commonwealth and not to 15,000 during the same period of the past two years or so, representing evasion by citizens of the older Commonwealth countries. Why not a White Paper on that evasion? are we really concerned with evasion as such, or is it, as so many hon. Members have said, that we are concerned with coloured people? At least let us be honest about it. After all these years, have we suddenly, between last October and this November, come near to "bursting at the seams"?
The Labour Party did not go to the country on the proposals outlined in the White Paper. Let us be honest about it. Many of us did not like even what was mentioned in the manifesto, but accepted it as part of a broad pattern of policy which is negotiated and discussed in a democratic movement, which then goes to the country on it. There was nothing in that manifesto indicating the interference with civil liberties and the various other measures of restriction proposed in the White Paper.
There was nothing in the manifesto like the Home Secretary's statement in February this year, when there was a great evasion scare aroused by hon. Members of the party opposite—including the then Leader of the Opposition —and the Government reacted promptly by making a special statement in the House.
My hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, West pointed out earlier that he and I have been living with this problem for the past eight, nine or 10 years, but we did not produce the shoddy ideas contained in that statement and in the White Paper. We have never said that people must be deported with-cut due process of the courts: we have never believed that this was the answer to the problem. Nor did we go round fie schools mixing up definitions of immigrant children, non-English speaking children and children born to immigrant Parents.
To this moment—and we have had no answer from the Under-Secretary tonight—nobody in this country knows what the Department of Education and Science mean when they talk about "immigrant children". One gets one answer from a civil servant, one from the Ministry—when one checks through a local education officer—and we have had another attempt from the Government in the Committee tonight.
One thing is quite clear, whatever the definitions. about the Government's policy—there are children who have been and will be born in Britain, who, by that famous, or infamous, or muddleheaded—let us forget the first two and call it muddleheaded—circular, will be considered as immigrant children. How far do we go in this respect in bastardising the English language?
As far as I know, an immigrant is someone who is coming here to settle, and not a child who is born here. If that were not the case, I wonder how many parents of hon. Members might be classified as immigrants because their parents came from Ireland, Europe or elsewhere. According to the definition in the Ministry of Education's circular, my parents would have been classified as immigrants, although born and bred here. This is a disgraceful and stupid state of affairs. This is the kind of thing on which we are basing our White Paper. This is the kind of nonsense being put out as national policy to local education committees and officers.
Is it any wonder that the Government and the Ministry are not clear about what they want to do, that people throughout the country at local authority level and among the public generally are muddled and confused about the aims of the Government? Is it any wonder that people should be confused about the attitude they should adopt to the various social problems which are the background to the whole question of immigration?
Let us come down to the real facts The real cause—and this has been mentioned by some hon. Members and rejected by others—of what is involved in the White Paper and what has been going on recently is, from the Government's point of view, fear, too much attention being paid to prejudice and a great deal of muddled thinking. Those are the three factors involved, and I do not give preference to any one of them.
We have had no evidence, from the White Paper or elsewhere, that there is a real understanding of the problems of Commonwealth immigration and that a proper study of those problems has been made. There has been a steady retreat under pressure, from the other side, from their friends outside and from much worse people. Every time we move in the direction of the Party opposite, whether or not we like to admit it, we move in the direction of the racialist and fascist groups. They are the groups who, above all, are pleased about this and would like to go further. They are not concerned with the problems of immigration but merely with racialism and their distorted ideas.
Every time we move in that direction and every time the more liberal hon. Members of the Conservative Party move towards their backwoodsmen they themselves, the backwoodsmen, move further to the right on this issue. Are we to do that? Are we to be muddied? Is that not what has been happening in the past year? It is. We have been muddied, just like the best people in the party opposite have been muddied by the worst people in it. I do not want to be muddied. Nor do the vast majority of people inside and outside the Labour Movement want to be muddied.
We may make mistakes, including myself. I am sure that I have made mistakes in the sphere of race relations in my constituency in the past and I have no doubt that I must learn by my mistakes. But I am going to do my best to make sure that none of those mistakes are made as a result of cringing to racialists. I will probably regret my mistakes, but I will learn by them—but they will not be made for the wrong reasons, which is what has been happening in the past 18 months.
I am not suggesting that it is racialist to argue for the right to control immigration—provided always that, first, such control is non-discriminatory in the racial sense. There is no principle involved in such control if it is non-discriminatory, but there is a fundamental principle involved when the control is racially discriminatory.
I am sure the Government are not motivated by racialist ideas. However, no amount of pleading can alter the fact that the actual controls are racially discriminatory. A ceiling is being imposed and there are restrictions on one class of immigrant and not on the whole range. That is the first condition. The second is that any controls are consistent with economic efficiency. Third, provided they are really related to our social capacity to admit. Fourth, provided that there is a genuine regard for civil liberties in any such controls, and finally, provided also that the least possible restraint, and not the most, is introduced, commensurate with the needs of administration. We did not get a single sign of this from the other side, not even from the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas). I regret to say that even he could not repeat what he said last year in his maiden speech; that he favoured evasion because it showed a liberal application of the immigration laws.
Those are the five conditions I lay down. Can it be said that the White Paper and the continued application of the Act are non-discriminatory racially? Can it be argued that it is consistent with economic efficiency and related to the state of our social capacity; that it has due regard to civil liberties, and imposes the least possible restraint rather than the greatest? None of these things can be argued in relation to the White Paper and the controls proposed in it.
The striking feature of the whole of this debate—I do not mean just this debate tonight but the debate over the last two or three months since the publication of the White Paper in August—is that no case for a reduction has been made by the Government. There have been assumptions and generalisations, but no case has been argued in any particular detail for any kind of reduction. We are given a figure of 8,500. With others, I ask: how do we arrive at that figure? I am not concerned with the particular figure—if it had been 10,500 or 15,000 or any other figures I would not have been concerned. What I am concerned about is a discriminatory quota ceiling and that no properly argued economic or social case has been made for any particular figure.
We were told by the Leader of the House that it is
reasonable at this stage, taking into consideration the ability of this country to absorb more immigrants."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd August, 1965; Vol. 717, c. 1063.]
But the interesting thing is that this figure is about half the number of those who had been coming in up to the time when the White Paper was published. The White Paper also says, however, that in the past only about three-quarters of the vouchers issued have been taken up. If this experience continues —it may not, but if it does—it will mean that only about 5,500 people will enter this country on work vouchers, and not the 8,500 which is the top limit.
That is one figure one has, and I have another jotted down here. I am sorry that the Minister of State has left us, because this is a figure which she herself has quoted on two occasions in public discussion of the White Paper—at the Blackpool Conference and a little later in a television interview—when she described the problem as being one of five dependants for every person allowed into the country. The White Paper says three. A few weeks later a Minister of the Crown says that it is five. Is it the figure in the White Paper or the figure of five? If we are to get these exaggerations or mistakes they will affect public debate.
Hon. Members have given figures earlier which show quite clearly the discriminatory practice we shall embark on. With reference to this fact, we shall have more South Africans coming in, now that South Africa has left the Commonwealth, on work permits than immigrants from any one Commonwealth country on A vouchers, which are a similar kind of work permit system. I shall not pursue such facts as that on the basis of last year's experience and that of the year before, we shall have something like 8,000 Spaniards coming in on work vouchers, which is near to equalling the whole of the vouchers issued to all Commonwealth immigrants. These things indicate what some of us believed, that riot a great deal of thought has been given to the principles applied.
I shall put one or two specific questions in regard to the proposals in the White Paper about which I am rather disturbed. I shall not attempt answers, but put the questions and hope that we shall be given the answers tonight or on another occasion. I should like to know if and when the Home Secretary made any recommendation to the Cabinet for a marked reduction in the number of work vouchers to be issued to Commonwealth immigrants. The reason I ask is that some of us have the feeling that he or the Government had come to the conclusion that there should be a marked reduction some time before the Mountbatten Mission reported. If that is so we are entitled to know. We have been told that the decision was taken on the basis of that Report, but some of us think that the decision was taken long before the Mountbatten Mission reported.
We have asked, and I hope that one day we shall get the answer, why the Government arrived at the figure of 8,500. Hon. Members have referred to the fact that the National Plan estimates that by 1970 there will be a shortfall of 200,000 workers in this country. The Minister of Labour in a short intervention when the hon. Member for Chelmsford was speaking, suggested that this did not refer to unskilled workers. To the best of my recollection, the National Plan did not specify, but made a broad calculation of when the shortfall would be arrived at and the kind of industries which would suffer most, and it came to the grand total of 200,000. The experience of the building industry has been quoted and it has been suggested that at whatever level, skilled or unskilled, there is a continuing shortage of craftsmen. I know this from my experience in local government when trying to step up housing in my district. There is a considerable shortage and it seems we are going out of our way to encourage that shortage of craftsmen or potential trainees; for quite a number of Commonwealth immigrants have gone into the building industry.
There has been much loose talk tonight, as on previous occasions, about the housing problem. We had some recently from South London judging from newspaper reports about Lambeth. It happens that my area and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, West are growing twilight areas as described in the Lambeth report. In Birmingham and many other towns where large numbers of immigrants have settled this is the case. Hon. Members interested in local authority work know and their housing managers, architects, town planners and town clerks know that the kind of problems with which our areas are faced, and the need for housing and improvement in redevelopment and remaking the areas, are precisely the same as those which existed before the immigrants arrived in those districts. I make no bones about saying that they have not altered the problem in our districts. This is true of any major city in the country, despite the loose talk that goes on. There is only one answer to the housing problem in those twilight areas. It is to improve and speed slum clearance and development procedures which at present slow down the work of local authorities.
I am sure that local authorities do not use these powers for slum clearance and redevelopment programmes in some cases for fear of accusation by members of the public that they are rehousing immigrants. But this is important not just for immigrants. It affects the rest of the people—the native host population as well.
As I said in an intervention earlier, there are very few people living in actual ghetto districts in this country. In the vast majority of areas where one finds Commonwealth immigrants there are even larger numbers of the host community living there as well. If we are going to have our slum clearance programmes distorted for fear of public reaction against local authorities rehousing immigrants in the worst housing districts, then it should be remembered by the public that there are also thousands and thousands of the host community and their children suffering the slum conditions as well. Their rehousing is also held back. Race relations are essentially a community problem, the whole community and not just a minority.
It is probable that the number of immigrants coming into the building industry in the last 10 years have added more to the housing programme than the number of houses they occupy in the twilight areas of our towns. This is not something to be sneezed at. These immigrant building workers have made a major contribution at a time when there is a short supply of labour.
The general observations which I have been making were supported by the statements of evidence submitted to the Milner Holland Committee by the Centre of Urban Studies. This is the only organisation which has attempted to make some fairly precise demographic surveys of immigration. The bulk of the evidence supports the statements I have been making about the twilight areas not having been created by the immigrants. They were there already.
It is also shown that there is a movement of the immigrant population. Immigrants come and settle down well into the community far better than is suggested by many wild and loose statements made in the Press and sometimes in the House. Certainly, immigration must be planned in relation to the nation's economic and social capacity. But the White Paper makes no attempt to explain how the Government will assess Britain's capacity to absorb Commonwealth immigrants, nor does it explain why Commonwealth citizens have been singled out for quota limitation when other immigrants are not so restricted.
Some of the worst features of the aliens legislation are to be put in the Immigrants Act or are proposed in the White Paper. There is a ban on children aged between 16 and 18 joining their parents; entry conditions imposed include a time limit on the stay of students and others, there is registration with the police, deportation without due process of the courts. No one with respect for the rule of law or civil liberties will ever support any of this kind of legislation.
Let us hope that now the legislation is not contained in the Queen's Speech and now that the independent committee is to be set up, we have seen the end of the proposals; that they are dead and will not return to the House.
The Prime Minister's suggestion about an independent committee to examine the question of appeals does not in my view go far enough. The Home Secretary's power to deport or impose conditions should not be agreed. The only way in which people should be deported from this country should be through due process of the courts. Everyone should have the right to be represented where a decision to deport is being made, and have appeal rights as well. It is these powers which have caused the greatest concern to many of us. However, as I say, there is an indication that we shall not see them come to the House now as legislative proposals for debate.
I could go on to deal with the question of integration proposals, which have been discussed at some length. I merely say that I do not consider that Part III of the White Paper, dealing with the integration side—it has been commended even by some people who have criticised the White Paper in other respects—can be described as particularly satisfactory.
I have made some reference to the paragraphs relating to the education circular and education policy. I only add at this stage that there is no indication in the White Paper nor Circular 7/65 that there will be any attempt by the Government to launch a major adult education campaign. But I consider this vitally important. If we are to continue to do the work of integrating the immigrants into the community, if we are to continue these powers, not to talk of extending them, and if at the same time we are going to justify this by talking about integration, we must launch a campaign for adult education. Also, we must take seriously the issue of the proper training of our teachers in colleges of education. These colleges are not providing sufficient facilities, if indeed they are providing any facilities, for the training of teachers in race relations, social anthropology and related matters.
As to employment—this will be a matter of particular concern to the Minister of Labour, who will be replying —one can only describe the paragraphs in the White Paper as complacent. None of us will be much wiser after reading in paragraph 51:
This complex issue is being tackled in a number of effective, if unobstrusive, ways.
It does not tell us what these "effective, if unobstrusive, ways" are. Nor are we told in the White Paper whether there is any conception of the extent or character of the discrimination being practised against immigrants or their children and what is being done in different parts of the country to act against this kind of discrimination.
To say, as the White Paper says on employment, that "there are indications that, in certain respects, discrimination still persists" is hardly an adequate description of the situation in which employment exchanges, in some instances at least, continue to mark some of their cards C.W. for coloured worker, when school leavers are discriminated against and youth employment officers, sometimes with the best will in the world, are having to accept the situation and not fight it, when promotion channels in industry and commerce are barred to immigrants and their children, when vacancies are being advertised to discriminate against coloured immigrants, and when the Minister of Labour is incapable of giving information when asked Questions in this Chamber on these subjects. I suggest that employment exchanges should refuse service to firms which persist in practising discrimination. This is some thing which even the Conservative Party said it would do. but it has been gone pack on in the White Paper. The Government should refuse contracts to firms which practise discrimination. They should legislate against discrimination in employment, as some of us urged at the lime when the Race Relations Bill was before the House.
I have already referred to housing. Here again, the White Paper fails badly and does not deal with the subject properly. Indeed, it hardly touches upon the subject in a way that is a genuine discussion of the issue. Not a single reference is made to the fact that large parts of the housing market are closed to immigrants. I would also refer to the private Act whereby Birmingham established control over multi-occupied houses. As one who before coming to the House and since has advocated the establishment of control areas in twilight districts, I would support any measures in that direction. I put these schemes forward to the Milner Holland Committee when I gave evidence some time ago. But there are certain serious faults in the Birmingham Act which gives concern to those of us who have read the White Paper. Under the Act it is possible for the Birmingham Corporation to refuse permission—
I will accept your Ruling, Sir Samuel, but this was specifically referred to in the White Paper and has been the subject of the discussion tonight. I will not pursue it further save to say that there are certain aspects of that Act which give powers to the local authority which could be abused and which are unnecessary in implementing the idea of control areas.
The idea of special treatment for immigrants was rightly rejected. The White Paper says:
the sole test is the quality and nature of housing need without distinction based on the origins of those in need.
But what of local authorities who plan their slum clearance programmes so as to avoid rehousing immigrants? What investigations have been made about this? This can lead to English people as well as immigrants being delayed in getting decent housing.
One welcomes the strengthening of the National Committee and the establishment of voluntary liaison committees. However, a great deal of uncertainty exists about their precise relationship to the Government. There continues to be uncertainty about what Minister will be responsible. What is to be the relationship between these committees and Parliament and the Government? Will there be a Minister or a representative of a Minister on the National Committee or will it be the junior Minister from the Department of Economic Affairs? Or will there be a representative from the Ministry of Labour or the Department of Education and Science, or the Home Office? Will the committee report direct to the Prime Minister, or will it report to Parliament? Nobody knows.
There are other departments which are concerned like the Home Office, the Ministries of Education, Labour, Housing and Health. Where is the co-ordination to be? Is it still to be kept at junior Minister level or are we to have some genuine Ministerial responsibility for policy? Nobody knows the answers to these questions, and it seems that no thought has been given to them. Will there be a direct line of communication between the local authorities and the appropriate voluntary bodies, through the National Committee to the junior Minister or some other Ministers, and thus to Parliament and the Government? None of these points has been settled since the White Paper was published, as I have discovered from inquiries I have made of those concerned. There will be further opportunities for further questions about integration, but there is a great need for more information on what is to be the basis of the work of the local voluntary bodies in welfare and education as recommended in the White Paper.
There will be a need for community development to be encouraged. We have tried some of these things in my area through our friendship council. Work needs to be done on individual relations between the immigrant and the host community where there are points of friction, in the home or anywhere else. We have tried to do this in my district. Investigation into discrimination in housing, employment and other related problems is needed locally. Above all, there is a need for these local liaison committees to concern themselves with civil liberties generally and with discrimination in public places and in housing. They must be encouraged to set an example to us, for we sorely need it. Racialism threatens us all and not just the immigrants. That is why some of us are so concerned about the deterioration in race relations which has gone on during the past year and which has been symptomatic in the production of the White Paper and its surrender under pressure from the Opposition and other quarters in the country.
I hope that I have said enough[Laughter.]—there will be other occasions when I shall say even more—to raise some fundamental doubts of principle about the practice being followed by the Opposition and the Government as well as others in the country. I urge the establishment of a high-powered Committee of Inquiry to pursue further genuine studies into the whole subject of immigration and the various related problems. Only by establishing such a high-powered committee can we get the vast mass of information which we need and get a proper evaluation of that information and start to establish the right kind of policy making which we are so far lacking.
Meanwhile, in closing I want to repeat the five points which those of us who have been and will continue to be strong critics of the White Paper wish to see adopted as policy. First, we want an assurance that there will be no legislation as outlined in the White Paper originally; secondly, that there shall be established a full review of the alien and immigration law going further into the subject than the proposed independent committee on appeals procedure; thirdly, that there shall be established proper and permanent Departmental machinery for studying the background to immigration as a basis for policy making; fourthly, on the basis of that machinery and the basis of the work of the high powered committee of inquiry which I suggest, there shall be a review of the ceiling quota within a space of 12 to 18 months at most; fifthly, that meanwhile, particularly in the spirit in which so many hon. Members have spoken tonight, there shall be the most humane conduct of the controls which we still have with us, in the work of the Home Office and its immigration officials.
At this late hour I shall not endeavour to answer all the points made in the very powerful attack of the hon. Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Freeson) on his own Front Bench, which is capable of answering for itself. However, I should like to comment on the earlier speeches and take first that of the hon. Member for Wandsworth, Central (Dr. David Kerr) who was so indignant about the White Paper, especially, apparently, on the ground that he thought that it contained colour prejudice. I was rather surprised by his making that attack, especially in view of his story about his grandfather. I can assure him that racial prejudice there may be, but that prejudice against immigrants is not confined to prejudice against coloured immigrants by a very long way.
I am saying that it is not, and I will reinforce that statement by remarking that what made me contemplate speaking in the debate, which I had no intention of doing when I first came into the Chamber, was the speech of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot).
Both he and I are immigrants, Celts it may be, but we each represent constituencies in countries other than our own. I know his present constituency well by reason of my previous job and I know that, because of his family connections, he knows all about Cornwall. I can assure hon. Members that racial prejudice is not confined solely to questions of colour, because both in Wales and Cornwall to this day there has not been complete integration between English and Celts. Certainly that is so in Wales, and I have no hesitation in saying that it is so in Cornwall also.
There is a definite, known and recognised distinction between the English and the local population. A very interesting thing was said to me on one occasion by a coloured man in my constituency. We have a local coloured population which has been there for two or three generations. They are people who are descended from the old seamen of the sailing ships. Every sailing ship always had a few coloured men, even the warships. A number of those coloured seamen settled in the West Country, and there is one particular family which has been there for three or four generations. This man said to me that Cornwall was the best place for a coloured man to live because, he said, "I am no more of a foreigner than you are." There is a distinction which is well known there.
No one can talk to me about colour prejudice, because I think that I am probably the only Member present who has an Indian son-in-law. I have a grandson who is an Anglo-Indian. When one of my daughters proposed to marry an Indian I was a bit apprehensive. I have six other children and two other sons-in-law, and I wondered what was going to happen. I give this as evidence —nothing happened at all. They all get on extremely well and it is no problem at all. If one faces this it just seems quite normal. This has happened and no problem has arisen.
A large number of people of a quite different origin coming into a country create problems in the schools, in housing and other matters which are mentioned in the White Paper. There are certainly strong feelings about it, and my feeling is that one has to tackle this thing by stages, not take too big a jump at a time, otherwise one creates a racial problem and causes a great deal of prejudice. For those reasons, I think that basically the White Paper and the previous Act are necessary and that a measure of control is desirable. I do not think we do any good by getting too excited about this. We tend to talk too much about racial prejudice.
I shall not weary the Committee at this late stage by keeping it very long, but there are one or two points I would like to make. On Friday evening I visited a flat in my constituency to have an informal chat with some Nigerian undergraduate and post-graduate students. As I entered the room in which the informal talk was to take place, the music I heard was a Mozart concert on the Third Programme. So much for the feeling of the possibility of coloured people being under-cultured, which was voiced as a possibility by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas). He thought that very often some people in this country felt this way. I hasten to add that shortly afterwards, when the concert was ended, they switched on the television to watch the Miss World contest, which I thought was a very normal reaction, too.
I have noticed that in the debate that there has been a certain amount of apologetic talk, a certain patronising attitude, and there has also been something of an insulting outlook as far as this problem is concerned. I want to put to the Committee the point of view that the Commonwealth immigrants have a contribution to make to our society, quite apart from economic necessity. Surely we do not feel in this country that we are the last thing, that everything that we do, that all our habits, all our customs are the absolute zenith of perfection which humanity has yet achieved? Can we not learn—are we not learning—from the Commonwealth immigrants whom we have in our community at the moment? Are we not learning new sounds from them, in music and language? Are we not learning something about colour from them—and I mean colour in every way, such as the colour of dress? Are we not learning from them things that we would never have learned, apart entirely from the economic advantage which they bring to us?
We ought to be prepared to pay something for this. We ought to be prepared to do something for people who are bringing these advantages to us. Commonwealth citizens come to this country because they wish to work here. Anyone who believes that they come to claim National Assistance has merely to inquire at the National Assistance Board offices to find out how untrue this is.
As I say, they have made a significant contribution to our economy. Think of what would happen, as has been said by many hon. Members, in medicine, nursing and transport if we did not have these Commonwealth immigrants. We have also a moral obligation to them. At one fell swoop the number of immigrants into the country is to be reduced to 8,500, in spite of the fact that there are jobs for more of them.
I am not sure what we are afraid of. Are we afraid that they will gather in huge numbers in areas and remain there? Surely the experience of other immigrant groups into this country has been that while they have congregated with people of their own kind to begin with, eventually they moved out and mixed with the rest of the community. I believe that the immigrant groups into this country have integrated, not assimilated. I do not believe that it is necessary for groups to assimilate. They have integrated into the community and have retained to a great extent many of their own customs—and why not? The Scots, the Welsh and Irish do the same thing. When the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish moved out to other parts of the world they also retained their own identities in those parts. They retained their identities in Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Australia. They did not assimilate. They integrated.
We find there is a sudden attempt by the Government to out-Herod Herod, a clamping down too stringently on the conditions of entry for immigrants. I asked—and I was answered by my right hon. and learned Friend—what would happen if a natural disaster overtook a Commonwealth country, necessitating our receiving a large influx of immigrants from that country, such as happened with Tristan da Cunha. I was informed that facilities would be made available to admit people to this country from an area which met a similar fate. I did not receive a reply as to whether this would also apply to the possibility of a very large number of Commonwealth citizens requesting admission to this country from Rhodesia where also a devastating situation has occurred.
I should like my right hon. and learned Friend, when he replies, to say whether he would consider the possibility of making this necessity of clamping down a temporary one. There has been no indication of this, although, if we solve some of the problems which have been indicated as being the difficulties involved, I do not see why, at the end of a certain length of time, once those difficulties have been resolved, we do not revert to our previous position.
What I am concerned about is the moral values. I am concerned that we have an important and sincere obligation to our people from Commonwealth countries. I am also looking at it from a practical point of view. We are facing in the world today an eventual confrontation. I think that we are building up in the world to a situation in which the coloured and the non-coloured nations, or the coloured and the colourless nations, will face each other eventually and there will come a reckoning. I venture to suggest that we should be trying to build up in this country for the future as great a store of good will as we possibly can.
I hope to command the affection of the House by being very brief. The main purpose of my intervention, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary mentioned at the outset, is to say a few words about the introduction of the voucher system. Before doing that, however, I should like, in view of some of the comments which have been made from the benches behind me, to ask my hon. Friends to recognise that we can differ with equal sincerity.
There has been something a little lower than the best level of the House of Commons in the suggestion that some of us who defend the White Paper do so because, somehow, we are tainted with some form of racialism. As the Christian Gospel has been quoted, as well as morality and ethics. I should like to say, and I do so humbly and sincerely, that I defend my stand on the White Paper on the very standpoint of the Christian Gospel. If hon. Members quote the Gospel, as they have done, they had better also pay attention to other parts of it; and one of the most telling sentences in the whole of the Synoptic Gospels is
Lead us not into temptation".
If people consciously and deliberately create a situation in which circumstances may come which they cannot control, they are being tainted rather by self-righteousness than by taking their stand on the standpoint of the Christian Gospel.
Does my right hon. Friend recall that the first people who, in debating these matters, raised the question of ethics, morality and Christianity were the leaders of the Labour Party, headed by the late Mr. Hugh Gaitskell, who attacked the Commonwealth Immigration Bill of 1962 on the ground that it was racialist, and, therefore, that those of us who have repeated that argument today had a very good precedent?
There may he a precedent. I am dealing with tonight's debate, and I bitterly resent the un-Christian suggestion that some of us who believe that we ought not to allow circumstances to arise that could create an explosion in this country are motivated by any form of racialism.
I am convinced that we are right in paying attention to the dangers that we are in. There has been no denial at all about some of the problems with which we are confronted. The hon. Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Freeson) and the hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) can both talk very nicely, very justifiably and very sincerely about what has happened in Willesden, and I happen to know that some great work has been done. On the other hand, whatever may be the situation in Willesden, the situation in other parts of London, in the Midlands and in Bradford, is brimful of possibilities because of the housing situation.
It is not my desire to keep the House and dwell upon matters that have already been analysed in the field of education, but do not let us imagine for one moment that we serve any good purpose by sweeping these difficulties under the carpet. It cannot be done. We have to face them.
There is no question of racialism. The point that I am trying to make is that we should not allow the floodgates to be opened to the extent that we cannot contain the problem, and, in defending the White Paper, I hope that we can hold equally sincere views.
It was suggested that I might have something to say about vouchers, but, before I turn to that point, may I say a word about industry, because it is closely connected with it? The hon. Member for Willesden, East mentioned tensions in industry, and they are there. No one knows better than I do the tensions that are in industry at present. It is useless to dismiss them and say that it is merely a matter of education.
I want to use the example that the hon. Member himself suggested to me. He viewed with great disfavour the fact that managers of employment exchanges mark employment cards "C.W.". He condemned officials of my Ministry for presuming to put the letters "C.W." on cards. But this is the other side of the coin. They do it from a sense of Christian charity, because they know that if they send a man to a works he will be humiliated, often not because the management wants to humiliate him but because the management knows that the men on the workshop floor will not accept him.
I must be careful here. The hon. Member knows full well that there are industrial disputes that arise today because white workers will not allow promotion to be given to a coloured man who is very often very competent indeed.
There are industrial tensions, and what we have to consider is how much we can contend with prejudice in industry itself. I would like to see it disappear overnight, but we know that it will not. However, it is a reasonable proposition that we should only have on the numerical strength those whom we can contain. It has been asked how we arrived at the figure. We arranged for 8,500, which included the special allowance for Malta.
Hon. Members have asked to be told the statistical basis on which this figure was arrived at. They have asked whether special surveys were carried out, and what prior consultations there were with local authorities, the T.U.C., employers' organisations, and so on. In a matter such as this, it is impossible to arrive at a decision with any mathematical precision. This is essentially an exercise of judgment by the Government. It is a political decision. Hon. Members on both sides of the House have said that this was approximately half the usual number. In preparing the White Paper we assumed that this was a fair and reasonable number, based on the information that we had, including the information that was provided by the Mountbatten Report.
Another question asked was how the limit was reconcilable with the forecast of labour shortages. We must think in terms of the circumstances in which a labour shortage may arise, and the nature of that shortage. The National Plan may not be specific on this point, but the fact is that the burning need in this country today—and my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, East knows this as well as I do—is for skilled labour. In every industry there is a demand for skilled labour. Indeed, all industrial societies today are finding that the demand for unskilled labour is falling all the time. One cannot fill the 200,000 vacancies for skilled workers, to which reference has been made, by the introduction of 200,000 unskilled workers.
The next point with which I should like to deal in regard to category B vouchers is the allegation that we are skimming off the cream of the Commonwealth. In a sense this is true. It would be a fine thing if every doctor, teacher and trained nurse from the Commonwealth either stayed in his own country or went to other underdeveloped countries if there was any surplus at all. That would be the ideal situation, but we have a right to look after our interests, too. If a Commonwealth country did not want to export its trained skilled people, it could easily put a stop to it. We export our brains, and we are blamed for that, and it is therefore reasonable that there should be some importation of brains and skill from the Commonwealth.
I think that there is a need for greater knowledge about the whole situation, because I should like to know how many of the trained nurses, doctors, and teachers, who come here go back to their own countries after six, seven, or eight years. The desire to come here originates from the immigrants themselves, and if their countries do not want to lose their skilled services they could take the appropriate steps to prevent them leaving, but I see no earthly reason why we, as British people, should not expect skilled people to make some contribution to our economy if they are desirous of doing so.
This has not been a debate on the economic problems involved in this question. It has been a debate on the social problems inherent in it. The question of unemployment does not come into this issue. The old fable that half the immigrants are on National Insurance is a lot of balderdash. The latest figures from my Ministry show that unemployment among immigrants is not a major problem today. On 1st November, there were only 7,016 adult immigrants unemployed in the country, which is about 2·3 per cent. of the adult unemployed. Therefore, that is not the problem. What we are arguing in the White Paper, and the reason that we are asking for the Bill tonight, is that we require time to deal with these problems. Whatever may have been said in the House tonight, the country is, in many cases, bursting at the seams.
I know that there is a good deal of idealism behind many of the speeches which have been made tonight. Let it a ways be so, but let us always be mindful of the fact that there are deep rooted problems which time alone will cure. Mention has been made of the Welsh and the Scottish. It took a couple of generations for the Welsh people who came to Slough to make peace with their ancient enemies in England. Reading the Press in Slough when Welshmen were pouring into that area is indicative of the prejudices of today. The Welsh were called lazy and all manner of names, but they got over it. All we ask is that we be given time. I therefore commend the Bill to the Cemmittee.
I had intended to speak only very briefly. I had three reasons for speaking tonight. The first is that I was asked last week by my hon. Friends to stay on in similar circumstances to make a two-minute intervention so I think that I am justified in asking them to stay on tonight to listen to me. My second reason is that we are dealing with a matter which goes right to the vitals and the core of democracy. The third is that I have been horrified, really horrified, by what I have heard from the benches opposite. I now have a fourth reason—the Minister of Labour's speech.
He said that he resented the suggestion that some hon. Members below the Gangway on this side have suggested that the Government Front Bench are tainted with racialism. With respect, I have not heard such a charge, but, since he has raised the matter, I think that there is a charge—not that the Government are tainted with racialism, but that they have capitulated to racialism. I think that the Committee will see in a moment that this is the real charge.
My right hon. Friend was right to say that we should look at this problem from a moral point of view, and he said, quite correctly. that he looks at it from a Christian point of view. We are also entitled to point out that, when the Labour Party fought against all the implications of the Bill three years ago, it was largely on a moral and Christian basis that it was fought. When we look for the reasons for the change since then, many of us can see little beyond a capitulation to racialism.
We are told that it is a question of housing. I come from the most overcrowded city in Western Europe—the slums of Glasgow—and how many immigrants live there? It is not a problem there. It is not the presence of immigrants which has caused the housing chaos in Glasgow. It is not housing that is the reason for the present problem in England. It is the colour problem. This is what is causing the difficulty. For once the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) was correct. After all, my country has been exporting 30,000 people a year to England, but I have not heard any complaints about it. The right hon. Member for Monmouth does not complain about the Scots people occupying houses in England—[An HON. MEMBER: "He does."] Well, he had better not say so in my area.
I am sorry that the Minister of Labour has gone, since he made a speech which I was about to answer. [Interruption.] I am right; he is not here. But there is another hon. Member missing, who ought to have known better than to be absent when we are having a debate on immigration, and it is about him also that I want to speak later. I refer to the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Peter Griffiths).
We are told it is a housing problem, a shortage because houses are being occupied by coloured immigrants. But if a coloured worker needs to occupy a house, cannot he also build one? We heard earlier about the problems of the hospitals and the Home Office figures of illness among the population. I know the position. But if an immigrant needs a hospital bed, they also man the hospitals. I was in a London hospital for three weeks last Easter. What would happen if we did not have our coloured nurses, doctors, ward maids and other medical workers? The hospital service in the South-East would collapse, so that any members of the white population also who became ill would be in a sorry plight.
The Minister of Labour referred to the floodgates in his remarks. We could not open them, he said. But no one is asking for them to be opened. The immigration statistics follow the normal economic course of demand. Are not hon. Gentlemen opposite interested in the demands and law of the market? If the jobs are there the immigrants will seek them, but that has nothing to do with opening floodgates.
One hon. Gentleman opposite said earlier that 8,500 immigrants a year would represent a total of half a million dependents. That would be 40 apiece—not a family, a clan. We fought wars in Scotland with clans of smaller proportions.
My hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Freeson) made a remarkable speech. I will comment on it later and make certain recommendations about it. For a start, his words should be engraved on the hearts of some of my right hon. Friends, or at least filed somewhere handy in their offices. My hon. Friend spoke about this business of cards being marked "coloured worker" when these "laddies" were sent out by the labour exchanges. I like these terms. "Laddie" sounds nice. So does "the little ones", which was used by the Joint Under-Secretary. It is not compassionate phrases we want, but some compassionate action. Since is was pointed out how humiliated these laddies might become if "C.W."—coloured worker—were stamped on their cards, what is the Minister of Labour doing about it? This is the question he should answer.
When hon. Members speak about statistics, they are told that it is impossible to arrive at a decision on a mathematical basis. If that is so, how have the Government arrived at the precise statistics mentioned in the White Paper —such as precisely 8,500 immigrants a year, with precisely 1,000 of them coming from Malta, leaving precisely 7,500 for the rest of the Commonwealth? We even have the exact figure of 15 per cent. per country. What could be more precise? We are, therefore, entitled to ask for the certain statistics on which the Government bases its case.
When we raise other matters the Minister of Labour says that this issue is not dealing with an economic problem. What about the 200,000 workers mentioned in the National Plan? "No," my right hon. Friend replies, because, he claims, we are dealing with a shortage of skilled workers, while these are unskilled. But, paragraph 5 of the White Paper states:
Category A is for applications by employers in this country who have a specific job to offer to a particular Commonwealth citizen".
There is no reference there to skilled workers. But the vacancy exists. They are there to fill it. It goes on:
Category B is for applications by Commonwealth citizens without a specific job to come to but with certain special qualifications (e.g. nurses, teachers, doctors) …
—in other words, skilled workers. Thus, my right hon. Friend's argument bears no relation whatever to the problem nor the facts we are discussing. He ended by saying, "Give us time, because we are bursting at the seams." We who live in Glasgow, which has been bursting at the seams for half a century, somehow cope with the situation without exacerbating the colour problem. We have other colour problems. A friend of mine looked at a television programme about mixed marriage—a Glasgow man. After a quarter of an hour he was still waiting for the mixed marriage to take place; the programme was only about black and white, and he was waiting for the orange-and-green marriage to take place.
I hope our own Front Bench will listen to just one warning tonight. It is that we cannot outflank the racialists. If we drop the number from 20,000 to 8,000, the demand will be to drop it to zero. That is precisely what has happened tonight—the hon. Members for Harborough (Mr. Farr), for Rugby (Mr. Wise) and for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Gurden) say "Let us close the door altogether." We cannot outflank the racialists. No matter how we try they will always outflank us. If it is zero next year, and we say "Don't accuse us of not being Christian, we have just dropped the figure to zero," we will be told that it is time to send these people back home.
There is a ghost hovering in this Chamber tonight. It is the ghost of Banquo missing from the banquet; it is the member for Smethwick. That is where it all began—with the victory at Smethwick. There we had the same problem of housing as in the rest of the Midlands—we have been told that it is a housing problem. There we had the same problems of education and health as the rest of the Midlands—we have been told that it is an education and health problem. But what happened in the rest of the Midlands? There was a 2 per cent. swing to Labour, but, in Smethwick, a swing to the Tories of 7 per cent.
Why was that? It was because into this Galbraith syndrome of private affluence and public squalor was thrown two other factors, colour and its political exploitation. It was the political exploitation here that frightened many people; the articles which said that at last the Conservative Party had an instrument that could erode the traditional working-class support for the Labour Party, and Smethwick was the proof. A month later the hon. Member for Smethwick was telling the London Young Conservatives that a firm line on immigration would mean 20 more seats at the General Election. Has the Opposition Front Bench dissociated itself from the hon. Member's view? Have they said that they reject it? On the contrary, they are now beginning—not just the back benchers and the mad backwoodsmen who want to shut the door, but the whole of the Opposition Front Bench—to speak in similar terms?
The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South-West (Mr. Powell) is the man who rejects planning. He says we cannot plan industry, we cannot plan our economy, we cannot plan our incomes policy—that is far too difficult and complex. We must leave it to the market. But he says that we can plan human beings, the most complex and intricate of all things. The right hon. Gentleman says we can plan human beings. Even our sea-green incorruptible, the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, is swinging on to this immigration band wagon. And the cheers at the Caxton Hall two nights ago suggest that other elements of the party opposite are also beginning to swing on to that band wagon. I warn the Front Bench opposite. as I have warned our own: "You can't outflank the racialists." These people who are getting up at the Caxton Hall are the very people who will push you even further than you want to go. The only thing one can do with racialism is not to capitulate to it or try to outflank it, but to fight it. As we go through the Rhodesian crisis, let no one be fooled that many Rhodesians have not been encouraged by the actions we have taken and the attitude towards immigration developing this country. This too we must keep in mind.
Still we see the Tory Party refusing to dissociate itself from those elements which are making the running. We see this developing not only in the febrile outpourings but in extremely intelligent documents with loaded questions such as, "Do you approve of coloured workers coming in as a source of cheap labour?" This is the kind of new mood which is coming into the racial question. There are dangerous people involved here. We in the Labour Party also have responsibility because we have failed to fight it and have capitulated. Let us be clear that it will strike at the vitals and the whole dynamic and core of the Labour Party if we give way on this.
We all know that the figures in the White Paper are designed to keep out coloured immigrants. We do not kid ourselves any more. No one can give us the argument that this applies to all Commonwealth immigrants; we know that it is designed against coloured immigrants. We are told that we should give time for this policy to develop, but all that does is to say that there is something wrong about coloured immigrants as such and so we give the argument to the racialists.
I was not one who laughed when my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, East said, "I have said enough", but he did not say nearly enough. What he said was very much to the heart and core of what we need within the Labour Party. I hope that a copy of his speech will be sent to every Government office. I hope that a copy will be sent to No. 10 Downing Street, that a copy will be sent to the Ministry of Labour and a copy to the, Home Office. I hope that a copy will be sent to every council office throughout the length and breadth of the land.
The Amendment which I moved some few hours ago has been the occasion of a fairly wide debate. Despite some thin whispers of controversy which I seemed to detect in the last speech, I am not disposed to inflict on the Committee a further contribution, although it would be a very valuable addition to the discussion which has taken place. As it was a technical one, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.