Oral Answers to Questions — Gravesend

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th March 1977.

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Photo of Mr John Ovenden Mr John Ovenden , Gravesend 12:00 am, 24th March 1977

asked the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to Gravesend.

Photo of Mr John Ovenden Mr John Ovenden , Gravesend

If my right hon. Friend is unable to visit my constituency, will he consider suggesting to the Leader of the Opposition that she pays yet another visit? Is he aware that in Gravesend we have a large immigrant population and a successful community relations council which is supported by all parties? Is my right hon. Friend aware that Conservative supporters in my constituency are concerned that they are now led by a person who has refused to dissociate herself from the racialist campaign being conducted by the Conservative candidate in the Stechford by-election?

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan The Prime Minister, Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

I am glad that it is an all-party campaign in Gravesend. I have noted that the Conservative Party, perhaps even more especially when in Government, has taken a responsible attitude to matters of immigration and race relations. I was glad that the Home Secretary appointed David Lane as the chairman of one of these bodies. It was drawn to my attention that the Conservative candidate at Stechford had certainly gone beyond what is Conservative Party policy, and I hope that a dissociation from that may be made.

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Conservative Party

Is the Prime Minister aware that, as this matter was raised last Tuesday and I was not aware of the basic leaflet to which it referred—a leaflet published some seven months ago—I naturally did not rise? I have seen it, and our policy remains—I am in some difficulty because in theory I am not allowed to quote from documents in asking a question but perhaps I may refresh my memory plentifully—that We believe that we will only succeed in maintaining and securing tolerance for all minority groups in this country by holding out the clear prospect of an end to immigration. That is official policy. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the leaflet referred to the interests of good race relations in the future and finished by stating What do Labour say? We know what the former Chief Whip of the Labour Party, the right hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish), says about immigration, but what does the Prime Minister say?

Photo of Mr Andrew Faulds Mr Andrew Faulds , Warley East

Do you disavow it? Answer a simple question.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan The Prime Minister, Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

I was endeavouring to make it possible for the right hon. Lady to make a positive statement on immigration and race relations. The policy of ending all immigration would clearly be inhuman and has not been Conservative policy. The ending of all immigration would mean that no dependants and no wives could join those who are in this country. I hope that the right hon. Lady will reflect on the matter, because that is not the policy enunciated in her own document.