The main source of present immigration from the Indian subcontinent is the close dependants of men already settled here—in accordance with statutory entitlements in the Immigration Act 1971 and rules made under the Act by a Government of the Conservative Party. It is reasonable to suppose that these commitments, which the present Government have accepted, will in time decline.
As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House put it last week—I think very well—this is a matter of honour and humanity. The two must go together: accepting our commitments to the dependants and seeing that families are united.
Accepting what I said, yes. As I said in my original reply, once these commitments to the men already settled here are fulfilled, obviously there will in time be a decline.
Does not my hon. Friend agree that it is becoming increasingly difficult for people who at least claim to be the dependants of men legally settled in Britain to persuade entry clearance officers in Karachi, Islamabad and Rawalpindi that they are the people they claim to be, and that the tendency now on the part of these officers is to err on the side of keeping out genuine cases rather than letting in false cases?
If my hon. Friend is aware of genuine cases who have been kept out, perhaps he will let me know about them. But I have myself visited the posts, and I believe that they are striking the right balance between admitting the genuine people and keeping out the fraudulent ones.
According to official figures, immigration in 1975 was higher than in 1974 and in 1976 it was higher than in 1975. Since the hon. Lady said that immigration was diminishing, are we to understand that the immigration figures for 1977 will be lower than those for 1976?
Figures for individual years cannot be taken to be the trend of immigration decline. I thought about this carefully and I looked into it carefully because I anticipated this question. It is clear that we cannot pick one year and then say that there is a general trend towards a decline.
Has my hon. Friend seen a leaflet published by an organisation calling itself the Anglo-Asian Conservative Association, which commits the Conservative Party to a recognition of the right of dependants to enter this country? Does she not find the attitude of Opposition Members in this House and in recent by-elections somewhat at variance with the commitment that they are giving the Asian population?
Doe; the hon. Lady agree that there would be fewer cases of illegal entry and illegal overstaying if there were further and better checks upon illegal working in this country? In that connection, will she confirm the report in The Times of 8th July that at least the Department of Employment is considering the institution of some form of identity card to prevent this illegal working?
I do not accept the last part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. I can, however, assure the House that my right hon. Friend has already announced that he is taking steps to tackle the abuse of illegal employment. The TUC is very concerned about it, and so are the EEC countries. Together with the EEC countries, we are having discussions on how this can be best brought about.