Orders of the Day — Immigration

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th July 1968.

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Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Dover 12:00 am, 24th July 1968

That is what I am saying. I am saying that although it is marginal it has had the effect of producing a lower figure of dependants over that period—11,000 compared with 13,000 last year. The reduction has come from a fall in the number of aged dependants and the number of boys coming to join a single parent, and I do not think that any of us imagined that this could reduce the main bulk of the dependants who are coming. I have made it clear that it is not simply by administrative means that we can do this. It could be done only by actually removing the category of dependants who can join those who are here, or limiting it.

Reference was made to social problems. There are some, though they are sometimes greatly exaggerated. When hon. Members feel that they must express concern—and I am referring to hon. Members who are not here—they deepen the concern. But there are social problems, and it was for this reason that my right hon. Friend announced the urban programme on Monday. Some people thought it was the first assistance that we were giving to local authorities. But it was the present Government and not the previous one who in 1966 introduced the Local Government Act, which provides assistance to local authorities, and we are now proposing substantially to broaden this by the programme that has been announced.

I thank the hon. Gentleman and assure him that the Government are by no means complacent in looking at the admittedly difficult problems of immigration. Also, we are not complacent about immigration control and seek to ensure that it is effective, but we believe that there is a fundamental principle—not a privilege but a right—that it would not be proper to take away, that of a mother and her children to join the father who is already in this country.