There has been much speculation whether the Government will be defeated in the vote at the end of the debate. I do not know. It depends on a number of hon. Members on the Government Benches who hold views broadly opposed to my own. I make no attempt to entice them into our Lobby. It is entirely a matter for them.
The Home Secretary will no doubt present himself as a latter-day St. Sebastian with arrows being shot into him from all sides. He is nothing of the sort. Sometimes he is unjustly attacked, but not on this occasion. On this issue he has wobbled all over the road. If he is run down from one side or the other it is entirely his fault.
Let us consider the right hon. Gentleman's history in the matter. First, he allowed a foolish but specific commitment to be put into the 1979 Conservative manifesto. It stated:
We shall end the concession introduced by the Labour Government in 1974 to husbands and male fiancés.
That undertaking contradicted wider undertakings given in the same manifesto, notably:
The rights of all British citizens legally settled here are equal before the law whatever their race, colour or creed. And their opportunities ought to be equal too.
Nevertheless, for largely demagogic reasons, the Conservative Party put the narrower and specific pledge in the manifesto.
The Home Secretary cannot disclaim responsibility for that. He was already deputy leader of the Labour Party—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hooray!"] He was deputy leader of the Conservative Party; he was expecting—indeed, hoping—to be Home Secretary, yet he fully endorsed the pledge. As is sometimes, although by no means always, his wont, he took the course of least resistance.
By December 1979, six months after the election, the right hon. Gentleman was already in trouble. He tried to defend the pledge, but he narrowed it, so that it did not, in effect, apply to white women of British stock. He tried to escape from the difficulty of sexual discrimination by running head on into that of racial discrimination. So much for the wider Conservative commitment to the equality of all British citizens legally settled here.
Next the Government began to run into trouble with the European Commission of Human Rights. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah!"] I shall be happy to deal with that institution in a moment.
The evidence given to the Select Committee on Home Affairs in 1979–80 by Lord Scarman among others—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—strongly suggested that the new rules might, and probably would, be in breach of the convention, although the Select Committee did not pronounce on that. The Government of that day said that they were confident that they could refute the proposition, but their confidence quickly began to ebb when three cases were put before the Commission. Last May the Commission announced that the three cases were admissible. There is little doubt that the Government could not sustain their case before the European Court. No one believes that they would have succeeded.
The response of some Conservative Members is to denounce the convention, the Commission and the court as interfering busybodies, impinging on our national sovereignty. If they can persuade the Government and the House we can come out; we are not locked in.
What would that mean? It would mean that the Government were signalling that they were the first Government since 1951 when we adhered to the convention who could not live with the standards of human liberty that were set. They would be acting uniquely, except for Greece under the Colonels. We world be the only country that resiled from the convention. That would signal equally that we were the only Government out of the 23 who subscribed to it who could not accept the civilised standards that were laid down by the convention. I doubt very much whether that would appeal to the Home Secretary or to many Ministers
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House why the European Court seems to have picked on us? Is he aware of the fact that, whereas men can bring women into European countries, in the main women cannot bring their husbands into those countries, but here nearly every husband is allowed to come in?
It is not the court or the Commission that has picked on us. There have been cases at the court. There is a difference in that in nearly all European countries there is a constitutional provision that runs closely alongside that of the European Court. It would be a sensible course, if hon. Members are concerned about sovereignty, to write into our domestic law the provisions of the convention. That would mean two things. First, it would mean that if hon. Members wished to exercise their nationalism, the cases would be heard in the first instance before British judges. Secondly, it would mean that no longer would we be in the unenviable position of having more cases before the court than any other country.
Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that rights under convention are broad, so that if we were to incorporate the convention into our municipal law, we would leave to judges the task of formulating basic rights? That must be unacceptable. It is a matter for the House.
It would be entirely for the House to decide whether the basic rights laid down, to which we have subscribed, should be written into British municipal or domestic law. There would be a great deal to be said for that.
The irony is that the Home Secretary, having been pricked into action by the shadow of the European Court, is almost certainly ending up now with provisions that will fall far short of satisfying court, Commission and convention. The right hon. Gentleman got himself into that position by wobbling so much in the autumn. It has been a classic example of getting the worst of both worlds. He has reneged on his foolish manifesto commitment.
I commend to the right hon. Gentleman and to other hon. Members the words of the Lord Chancellor in his Dimbleby lecture, which was a year before one of my Dimbleby lectures. He said:
But in practice while before the election the manifesto is written rather like the advertisement for a patent medicine, after the election it is treated as a pronouncement from Sinai with every jot and tittle of the unread and often unreadable document reverenced as Holy Writ. The actual situation with which a new government is confronted is often vastly different from what it was imagined to be in opposition, and the measures proposed in the manifesto often include the impossible, the irrelevant and the inappropriate. But it is here that the doctrine of mandate takes over. However small the majority, however ill-advised the promises, however controversial the programme, the party activists, flushed with victory, insistently demand the redemption of all the pledges in the shortest possible time, and they are vociferously supported by the various pressure groups whose collective support has been won by the making of those pledges".
The Lord Chancellor added that that doctrine was profoundly unconstitutional. The Home Secretary should have taken greater courage and fortified himself with the words of his noble Friend. He would have done much better to have done earlier and to do now what he is not doing—what is right, sensible, coherent and defensible. That would be to return to the position of 1974. He should treat men and women wholly equally and allow the right of marriage to go with the right of settlement. The penalties that he pays for doing otherwise are enormous. He offends the rights of citizenship even as capriciously, unfairly and obscurely defined as in the British Nationality Act. He offends against family life; he offends against sexual equality; he offends against racial equality—all for the sake of excluding what? Perhaps 2,000, at most 3,000 people a year. I have never believed in a lax immigration policy.
I shall not give way.
I could call in aid, if I thought it right—I am not sure that I do—the speech of the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) in the debate in June this year. He said that rules had been more tightly enforced, as far as he could see, under Labour Governments than under Conservative Governments. He paid a rather backhanded compliment to the hon. Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill).
I am not giving way.
The hon. Member for Halifax was Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department and did a difficult job with great diligence, skill and sympathy. I have never believed in a lax immigration policy. In two periods at the Home Office I tried to apply principles of justice, humanity, consistency and proportion. That is not being done at present. The Home Secretary, in spite of his natural good instincts, has allowed himself by weakness to be pushed away from those principles. By reversing the burden of proof and imposing two-year restrictions, enforceable whatever the cause of the break-up of the marriage—even death—he has produced modifications from his original proposals which, in the words of The Times this morning, are "deplorable". The article stated:
If at first you cannot appease, try, try and try again.
On top of other weaknesses in the Act or the rules there is the abandonment of jus soli, which has served us without noticeable mischief for centuries past, since the time of Edward III. It has a substantial effect upon children
born here. There is the rather ridiculous provision that someone coming to take up a partnership in an American law firm in London has to bring £150,000 with him.
I am not giving way. There is continuing discrimination and a continuing mixture of sexual and racial discrimination. Let there be no doubt: these proposals are not putting women on an equal basis with men. Let there be no doubt that they are deeply damaging to the interests of people who are settled here, as opposed to citizens. They are treating women who are British by stock differently from those who are British citizens, even under the right hon. Gentleman's own Act. In all those ways, the right hon. Gentleman has produced an unacceptable package.
No, I shall not give way. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I have nearly finished. I shall not give way because I have done so three times, and it is right that speeches should be short and that other right hon. and hon. Members should have an opportunity to speak.
In all those ways, the Home Secretary has produced an unacceptable package. He should choose firm ground and stand on it. If it were sensible, fair and just ground, we would support him. So long as he does not choose firm ground, he will be a floating island, and we shall not support him.
Normally, I should not wish to cross swords with one of my predecessors—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] actually, I shall do so—but I have been, as I regard it, provoked. One reason why I normally would not do so, is that a sense of humility should descend on all Home Secretaries if they look at what has happened over the years in dealing with the immigration rules.
The problem started with the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), who imposed stricter controls. In 1974 the matter came before the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins). In between, of course, it is fair to say that my noble Friend Lord Carr lost some immigration rules. There is nothing new in that. He was defeated and had to produce new rules. Then we had the right hon. Member for Hillhead. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Halifax (Dr. Summmerskill) should be careful, because I have some quotations from her that she might not like.
The right hon. Member for Hillhead arrived with a great flourish of trumpets in 1974. He said that there were great difficulties and that he would consider them, and he wondered whether there might not be abuse if he made changes. He thought about the matter for a time and then decided to make the changes. Of course, it was not long—perhaps three years—before he moved to other pastures and his right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Rees), his successor, decided that his proposals had to be restricted, and they were. So let no Home Secretary live in a white sheet. It is an extremely difficult matter and we all know it.
I shall put only one point to the right hon. Member for Hillhead. For him, of all people, to talk about lack of courage and the line of least resistance, in view of what he did when he was deputy leader of the Labour Party on many matters, including Europe and everything else, and for him to lecture me about that is the height of hypocrisy. That is something to which I object. I know exactly what happened. After all, I have been in the House for a long time. So has the right hon. Gentleman. I know what the moves were and all the things that happened, and all the things that went on over Europe. Oh yes. It is no good the right hon. Gentleman sitting there and accusing me of lack of courage.
Will the right hon. Gentleman, whom I am glad to have not provoked but brought into such fine fighting form, tell the House exactly what he thinks I should have done over Europe, beyond leading 68 of my hon. Friends into the Government Lobby and providing a decisive majority in 1971 and then, when I thought that that policy was being contradicted, resigning as deputy leader? When has the right hon. Gentleman ever resigned as deputy leader?
I think that if the record were examined, it would show exactly what the right hon. Gentleman did. If he asks me why I have not resigned as deputy leader of the Conservative Party, I can tell him quite simply that it is because I happen to have the utmost admiration for my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. [Interruption.] My record of support for my party through thick and thin over many years is there for everyone to see. [Interruption.] I will not have it denied, because it is true. However, I have been provoked to move away from the purpose of the debate, and I shall now return to it.
We are dealing with what I accept is a difficult and complex area. I have no illusions. No Home Secretary can ever have any illusions in this connection. Some rough things have been said about me by my predecessors, but I can only say that none of them managed to get away from some of the problems that I face, and it is fair that they should accept that. They can criticise me for what I am doing, and I can criticise them for their actions, but it is fair to say that.
We had a full day's debate on the draft rules that I proposed. Therefore, I shall not make a long speech, and it would be wrong for me to go over all the ground of that debate. It is not unreasonable to say that it is proper to go forward from that.
I hope that the House will consider carefully the options that are available to the Government in making these rules. First, there have to be new rules. I do not think that anyone denies that. The British Nationality Act is a major measure and of great importance. It is a measure which at various stages was ducked by Governments of all parties, including my party, but this Government have now undertaken the task. It is crucial, and I believe that it is important for the future of this country. The Act means that we shall have a new language, a new British citizenship created by it, and changes in the rules are inevitable.
There are widely differing views in the House on the matters that have to be dealt with in the rules. From the debate on the White Paper the Government know that those who are unhappy with our original proposals came to their points of view for wholly differing reasons.
The Government, as any Government would in the circumstances, have given a great deal of thought to the best way forward. The rules now before the House are based on a policy which the Government believe is consistent both with the British Nationality Act, so recently passed by the House, and with the need for firm immigration control. I shall endeavour to explain why the Government believe that that is so and why these rules are the best way forward.
Before coming to the marriage rules I want to refer briefly to the rules applying to children who, although born here, will not be British citizens. The position of those children was settled after considerable debate in the proceedings on the British Nationality Act. I believe that it was right that the Act should provide, as it does, that a child born here should have British citizenship only if either of his parents is a British citizen or is lawfully settled here.
The great majority of children born here will continue to be British citizens. However, significant numbers of children are born in the United Kingdom to parents who are here only temporarily or unlawfully. The Act, and the corresponding rules, will prevent such children from gaining automatically by their birth a permanent right to live in Britain, which, in due course, they could pass on to their children.
This change will prevent a potentially large immigration commitment from building up. [HON. MEMBERS: "How many?"] It will also make it easier to remove parents here unlawfully who have children born in the United Kingdom. Those who want to question this must look at the Green Paper "British Nationality, Law" which was produced by the Labour Government. It said:
On the whole the Government consider that the simplicity and inclusiveness of the ius soli method outweighs its drawbacks.
That is not a powerful and major conclusion. It is a rather marginal conclusion.
Broadly speaking, the rules that I have made for the immigration control of children who come into this category provide that they will be treated in the same way as their parents. That is fair and easily understood and I believe that the rules will prove much less difficult to operate in practice than some have tried to make out. I am grateful to those of my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Committee on the British Nationality Bill who, believing that this measure was right, strongly supported it. It is part of the Act from which these rules flow, and I believe that they are widely supported.
Let me try to help the House by stating the options that were available to the Government on the admission of husbands and fiancés. We could have retained the effect of the present rules—some of my hon. Friends advocate this—by requiring the woman who sponsored the admission of a husband or fiancé to be a British citizen born in the United Kingdom or to have a parent who is born in the United Kingdom. That, of course, would have distinguished between different British citizen women—those born here or with a parent born here, and those who, having been born elsewhere, are British citizens by registration or naturalisation.
The Government took the view that, having created a British citizenship which is in line with those who belong to Britain, it would be wrong to differentiate in that way. In 1980 a special definition, based on those bore here or with a parent born here, had to be invented. Now that we have the new British citizenship, there is no reason for such a device.
In addition, from the point of view of immigration from the Indian subcontinent, we had to have in mind the diminishing effect of a "born here" requirement. Already, of the Asian girls in the United Kingdom now aged between 10 and 15, about half will be British citizens by birth. For Asian girls under 10 the proportion is about three-quarters. So the effect of distinguishing between British citizen women born here and those not born here is bound to diminish. It will become very small indeed in the future. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why bother?"] That is not for me to argue. I am giving the reason why I believe that it was right to move to the British citizen definition. One reason is that I believe that the "born here" definition will be eroded, and substantially eroded, over a period.
May I pursue the Secretary of State on that point, because I have great respect for his stand on civil liberties? For the sake of a diminishing minority, which will become more and more insignificant, why is he putting Britain's good name in terms of racial equality at risk?
That is a rather extraordinary comment. We are dropping the definition of "born here", which we both think is wrong. Some of my hon. Friends think that I should retain it. However, I believe, and I think that the right hon. Lady believes, that it is wrong and that we should move to the British citizen qualification. That is what I am advocating, so I do not quite understand the right hon. Lady's point.
That is inherent in the 1971 Act and is still there. To change the provision would require legislation that goes outside the rules, as the hon. Gentleman well knows.
The alternative option was to confine entry to the husbands and male fiancés of British citizen women, whether or not they were born here. That is what we have done. But, at the same time, and since our original proposals, we have considerably strengthened the safeguards to prevent the rules from being used for immigration purposes. The right hon. Member for Hillhead believes that those safeguards are wrong, but they will have a deterrent as well as an actual effect, which together will reduce the number of those who might otherwise have gained settlement.
I cannot give the precise figure, but I am sure that my hon. Friend, who has studied these issues carefully, will accept that there are two different problems: the number of applicants, and the number of those who are accepted for settlement. I shall deal with some of the effects of the safeguards that were introduced in the 1980 rules. I want to prove that the safeguards had an effect. If they did, any extra safeguards will obviously have a further effect. I hope that I can prove that to my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen).
We are, of course, keeping the three specific tests in the 1980 rules: the marriage must not be primarily for immigration purposes; the couple must have met; and there must be an intention to live together. No one is allowed to stay permanently until checks have been made to ensure that the marriage has taken place and that it continues to exist. There are those who say that to move the safeguard on marriage from one year to two years represents a serious change. I read the debates in which the hon. Member for Halifax rightly defended the contention—as my hon. Friends did—that it was right to have the test after one year.
However, if it is right to have it after one year, there is no reason why there should not be a check after one year, and again after two years. That is a perfectly reasonable strengthening of the safeguards. The hon. Member for Halifax and the Labour Party accepted one year and said, in 1977, that that was necessary. In 1977 the Labour Party said that it was right to reverse what the right hon. Member for Hillhead had done in 1974. If it is right after one year, I cannot see why it is not right after two years. Two years is a perfectly reasonable period. There is no great argument between one and two years.
My right hon. Friend has rightly said that marriages should not be entered into primarily for the purpose of immigration. As I understand, as I have read, as I have been told and as many hon. Members will know, the custom on the Indian subcontinent has been for women to go where the men reside. Would it be the case that any man wishing to come from the Indian subcontinent to the United Kingdom for the purpose of marriage would be doing so primarily for immigration purposes?
If one translated that across the board, not only to the Indian subcontinent but to many other parts of the world, one might have some awkward consequences with regard to people marrying Australians, Canadians, Americans and so on. If one is to take that point of view, one must consider the issue in the round.
As the safeguards have been criticised, I wish to explain, first, what they are, and, secondly, why I believe that it was right to introduce them. First, a decision whether to allow a husband to stay permanently will be taken after two years, instead of after only one year. That is a reasonable strengthening of the safeguards. Some people say that this will not work, that it is bureaucratic and will cause great dificulties. I cannot see the argument that it is right to have it for one year, which all my right and hon. Friends supported in 1980, but that it is suddenly wrong to have it for two years.
If the change from one year to two years is of any significance, it must follow that my right hon. Friend must know how many husbands have been returned when a marriage has broken down within one year. Will he tell the House?
I tabled a written question which was answered on 18 November, when it appeared that the information that my right hon. Friend has just given was not available. Perhaps he will explain how that information has become available since 18 November.
I have given the House the best estimate. I thought that that was right. There is no definite figure and that was the best estimate that I could give. As I was asked by my hon. Friend, I thought it reasonable to give the best estimate. That is what I have done and I hope the House will accept it in that spirit.
I cannot give that figure, but if there is any way of giving it, it will be given before the end of the debate. I doubt whether it can be, and I certainly cannot give it now.
Secondly, the onus will be on an applicant to show that the three specific tests originating in the 1980 rules have been met.
Thirdly, we have provided that when a marriage has broken down within two years, deportation of the husband should be the normal course, regardless of the reasons for the breakdown. I am assailed on the one hand by those who say that these safeguards will have no effect, and on the other by those who say that they are oppressive. Neither view, in my judgment, is correct.
We know from experience of the 1980 rules that the tests introduced then can be applied without being oppressive. I hope that my hon. Friends who question that will remember that they were enthusiastic about the proposals that were introduced in the 1980 rules. If such proposals were reasonable in 1980, why should they not be reasonable in 1982? I do not see the difference.
What has been the result? First, immigration officers in the Indian subcontinent refused entry clearance to over 600 husbands and male fiancés in the 12 months to 30 September 1982. Failure to meet these tests was the reason for refusal in a significant proportion of the cases. Also, we believe that the number of men refused permanent stay as husbands after entry, because of a failure to satisfy the tests, is, as I said to my hon. Friend, likely to be about 150 a year. Those who do not leave voluntarily can be, and are, deported.
There is no reason why the change in the burden of proof in the Indian subcontinent should not help the immigration officer. He has to make his decision on a judgment of the case and I believe that it is reasonable to put it this way. At present the onus is on the officer concerned to have reason for not granting an application. The rules that I have made will, instead, put the onus on an applicant to show that the conditions have been met. I submit that it is reasonable, when the rules confer such an important right, that the man should have to show on the balance of probabilities, which is always the test in these matters, that he qualifies for it. We are conferring on him, as I think the House will accept, an important right.
A couple who have married for genuine reasons and have a subsisting marriage, where the man was not here unlawfully before the marriage, have nothing to fear from these tests. Only those who marry for immigration reasons, who have never met their fiancée or wife, whose marriage has never subsisted or has broken down, or who were here unlawfully when they married, have anything to fear.
The man whose marriage breaks down within two years has no real claim to remain here permanently. The basis of his admission will have ceased to exist. Since the marriage no longer subsists, his return to his own country will not cause unacceptable hardship to his wife, and unless there are exceptional reasons for not doing so I believe it is right to expect him to leave.
We have found quite a considerable number. The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) is reported to have said that these safeguards go too far and will in practice make it impossible for husbands and male fiancés to join British citizen women. I do not accept that. Of course the safeguards will have an effect; they are intended to do so. But they are not intended to erect, and will not erect, barriers that are impossible for genuine marriages to surmount.
The Home Secretary referred to my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill) and the change to 12 months. On that occasion she told the House that a natural breakdown of marriage within 12 months would not be a cause for allowing people to be sent back. The tribunal took the meaning of the rules to be something quite different, and now adjudicators are told that if there is any breakdown in the marriage the person can be sent back. The right hon. Gentleman has used that argument. In the meantime, there has been a change of emphasis. That is what will happen with his rules. He may mean one thing, but when the rules are interpreted they will be a good deal fiercer than he intends.
If the marriage breaks down, is there any good reason why the person who has come in on that basis should remain in this country? I do not see that there is and that is what I am saying specifically. Why should someone who came here to marry someone in this country stay here and have a job in this country which another person should have if the marriage breaks down?
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the case of a husband who becomes a father in this country? If the marriage breaks down, he cannot remove the child, who is British. He cannot remove the wife, because she is British. By sending away the father the Home Secretary will be denying that child regular access to his father. Is that not a reason for reconsideration?
That can be argued, but I should have thought that if the marriage had irrevocably broken down and the husband was not staying with the wife or subsisting in the marriage, there would be no reason why, if the wife was taking charge of the child, the husband should not go. The marriage has broken down and the husband has left. It is realistic to say that the husband may have abandoned the whole family. If he has done that, what is the purpose of his staying in the country? I cannot see it.
Does the Home Secretary accept that if a man were kept in the country in the circumstances outlined by my hon. Friend he would at least be responsible by law for keeping the child, whereas if he is deported the British taxpayer will have to support the wife and child?
If there is a good reason for the husband to stay there is discretion within the rules. I do not believe that if a husband has abandoned his family altogether and does not wish—[Interruption.] That is the case. There is discretion. However, if the husband has abandoned his wife and child, there is no reason for him to stay in the country.
The right hon. Gentleman is showing the kind of fascination with his argument of which my right hon. Friend accused him. It is not the case that every husband who decides that he cannot get on with his wife wishes to abandon his child.
The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) has raised a different point. If the husband had custody of the child, the question would be different. I maintain my point that the man who has abandoned his wife and child, should not be allowed to stay in the country. I cannot see the argument for it.
I wish for clarification on one particular point that relates to a constituency case, with real people. A person born in Hong Kong came to this country at the age of nine and has lived here ever since. She was educated here and her parents came here some years before that, although she was not born here. She married a man from Hong Kong and then returned to Hong Kong to meet his family. Subsequently, he has been denied the right to come here. She has a child that is now several months old. Is it not likely that by his decision to force the husband to stay outside, the Home Secretary is endangering a genuine and real marriage? Can the right hon. Gentleman give me an assurance that under his new safeguards that husband will be allowed to join his wife and family?
If individual cases are put to me, it is only proper that my right hon. Friend and I should be entitled to look at them on that basis, and we do so.
As I have already said, the rules are an attempt to build solidly on the rights of British citizen women and the need for checks on the use of marriage for immigration purposs. Many hon. Members will be familiar with the difficulty of framing rules that meet those twin objectives. All my predecessors have faced this problem. They have wrestled with it and have sought to find a solution that meets these two criteria.
In 1980 we restricted the category of those who were eligible for admission and created new, more effective safeguards against abuse. Our new rules toughen still further the safeguards against abuse, while bringing the eligibility of the wife into line with our new British citizenship. That is extremely important.
If, as we have done, we pass a British Nationality Act which relates British citizenship to our immigration rules, it is right that we should make a proper start and be seen to be doing so. That is what we are doing, and I ask my hon. Friends to recognise the purpose of that.
There is no question of our going back to the pre-1980 position. That should also be completely understood. In fact, no alternative would escape criticism in some part of the House. I do not know of one. However, I believe—and I stand by it—that what I have sought to do provides the best chance for the House as a whole to secure a lasting answer to this controversial and difficult question on which there are so many conflicting views.
The most charitable thing that can be said of the Home Secretary's speech is that he was making a case that it was impossible coherently to defend. It is inconceivable, apart from the way that he entertained the House for more than 40 minutes, that he should believe that the course he is urging on us is right in principle or in practice. In our view, it is wrong in both particulars, and for that reason we shall vote against the regulations.
The Home Secretary will recall that on 11 November the Opposition abstained on the motion to take note of the revised immigration rules. We did so because we believed that the Government's proposals contained a genuine though limited concession. In the original document, foreign husbands of women who were British by regisration or naturalisation were to be allowed to join their wives in Britain on the same basis as women who were British by birth.
That equality—treating all British women irrespective of how they have achieved their citizenship on exactly the same basis—was a principle that we implemented in Government, campaigned for in Opposition and supported during the test case at the European Commission on Human rights. Indeed, the Home Secretary will recall that after I visited the Commission in June, I said publicly, and was reported as such, that the Government had got themselves into such an impossible position that the Commission would require them to change their mind, and change their mind the Government began to do.
Because of that genuine but limited concession, we abstained on the principal issue when the subject was last discussed. But the rules as they now exist—which, in effect, deny the right of a woman who is British by registration to bring her husband into the country—discriminate cruelly against the black British. It is nonsense to pretend otherwise. Indeed, it is because they discriminate against the black British that so many Conservative Members do not want to see any change in those rules.
Our position is absolutely clear. Husbands of women who are British citizens, however those women achieved their citizenship, should be allowed into this country. Moreover, we believe that husbands of women who have the right of abode in Britain should be granted a parallel right of abode themselves. For all the provocation, pleas and requests, the Home Secretary has not attempted to refute our argument that the fiancés of women should be treated in the same way as the fiancees of men.
During two consecutive debates in the past five weeks, the Home Secretary has continually been asked why women are treated in one way and men are treated in another. He has not yet done the House the courtesy of attempting to explain why he makes that differentiation. It is quite intolerable that, under these rules, or, for that matter, any others, there should be one law for women and another for men. What now operates is a conscious and deliberate discrimination against women.
When we last debated the subject on 11 November, some Conservative Members rejoiced in that discrimination. They said that one of the reasons why they wished the rules to be preserved in their present form was that they did not believe that a British woman should have the same right for her husband to join her as a British man has for his wife to enter Britain. That is absurd and indefensible. We wholly reject it.
If that is absurd and indefensible, may I remind the right hon. Gentleman that that is exactly what his right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) did in 1969?
The two revisions that were made by the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins) and subsequently by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) put men and women on exactly the same footing. It is absurd to suggest that a big difference existed then. Our wish is to return to that previous position—the position that the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) opposed if he fought the 1979 general election on the Conservative manifesto. The Conservative manifesto specifically insisted that the Conservative Party, if elected, would reinstate the discrimination that the Labour Party had removed. We shall remove it again when we return to power.
Today's debate has naturally and inevitably revolved round and concentrated on rules governing the entry of husbands and wives to Britain. The Opposition are opposed to other aspects of the immigration regulations as well. We are especially opposed to the provisions concerning dependent relatives, visitors and the system of the assessment evidence. However, it is natural that we concentrate today on the changes that affect wives and husbands—the changes that have been brought about by pressures on the Home Secretary by the Adullamites who sit on the Conservative Back Benches.
The Adullamites—what Mr. John Bright called the disenchanted, the dispossessed and the disgruntled. It seems to be a very fair description of the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook).
The debate revolves round the so-called concession that the Home Secretary announced when we last debated the subject. It is a concession that, in a sense, we are debating today because we believe that it has effectively been removed as a result of the way in which it has been hedged round by obligations and requirements to provide evidence and information which, in most cases, it will be impossible for the applicant to provide.
I was moved by the intervention of the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow), who behaved as I fear many people in Britain will behave if the new rules are adopted. I fear that perhaps even some immigration officers may behave in that way. The hon. Gentleman's assumption was that any husband who wishes to come to Britain would come not for the primary purpose of marriage, but for immigration for its own sake. Because the hon. Gentleman made that assumption, it does not mean that it will not be made by others. Thank heaven, the hon. Gentleman is not typical of British opinion. Nevertheless, I believe that his view will be stared by many people who have the job of implementing the rules. The hon. Gentleman revealed exactly what will happen if the House passes the assumptions that the Home Secretary requires.
The Home Secretary suggested that there will be up to 3,000 applicants a year. Will the right hon. Gentleman say what will be the effect, in his opinion, of the safeguards upon those applications? Does he believe that the number of successful applicants will be cut down to 500 a year? What sort of figure has he in mind?
I do not accept the 3,000 figure. Nor, I suspect, does the Home Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman was not the Home Secretary who made the assessment of 3,000. It was, in my view, made imprudently by the right hon. Member for Hillhead, who talked about a difference of about 2,000 or 3,000. Those are not figures that, in my view, bear much examination. I do not believe that the new regulations will deter applications. I believe that the new regulations will prevent the entry into this country of genuine male fiancés who want to contract genuine marriages.
I believe that the numbers will be reduced substantially. That is why the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) and those who lurk around him are wrong to attack the Home Secretary. I am perhaps doing my best to support the Home Secretary's case. I can only say, in honesty—slightly mitigated by my distaste at the thought that the hon. Gentleman might be in the same Lobby as myself—that I believe that the Home Secretary's proposal will reduce rather than increase the entry of husbands into this country. If the hon. Gentleman has read the document, he must know that, in one particular, this is true.
If the new requirement to provide information and the movement of the onus of proof are to have any effect, it will bear on a category of persons who were not previously affected. One of our objections is that the new rules will apply not only to women who are British by registration but to women who are British by birth.
Last time we debated these matters, I was speaking, I hope, on behalf of my constituents who are the daughters of citizens of Pakistan who were born in Pakistan and then obtained British citizenship. I am now speaking on behalf of their sisters who were born in the United Kingdom. If they wish to bring foreign husbands into this country, they will be subjected to the same intolerable level of scrutiny as the Home Secretary proposes for everyone. I should have thought that was a conclusive argument to explain why the Home Secretary is tightening, not relaxing, the rules.
I am puzzled, in the light of the totality of what the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) has said previously, why he abstained on the last occasion. If the rules, as originally drafted, were before the House this evening, would he or would he not vote against them?
I would have abstained and I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends would have done the same. I would not have supported the rules in general because of other items within them of which I disapprove. Those items concern dependent relatives, visitors and the normal methods of investigation. I would not have voted against them because they would then have contained a clear concession. The concession has been removed, because it was hedged about by requirements that I have tried to describe. I am conscious that what I say probably helps the Home Secretary in quelling the Tory rebellion. The truth must be told to the Home Secretary and repeated later to the European Commission of Human Rights when the Home Secretary tries to claim that he is responding to the rules laid down for civilised communities.
What the Home Secretary has done can easily be described. The right hon. Gentleman has recognised the theoretical right of foreign husbands to join British wives in this country. In exercising those rights, he has hedged them about with so many requirements and obligations that, in practice, many men who are genuinely and legitimately married to British women will be kept out of this country. These new, harsher requirements of proof and justification will be extended to women who are British by birth, not simply by registration.
A month ago, when we made the complaints, we were thinking only of women who were British by registration. Now the harsher examination is to be extended. A woman contemplating marriage with a foreign fiance will have to prove that she has already met the man she is to marry. That has been the case for some time. She will have to prove that she intends to live with him. That has also been the case for some time. Now, however, she and her intended husband will also have to prove that the marriage has not been contracted primarily for the purposes of immigration. The hon. Member for Northampton, North assumes that that is invariably the case.
How, I wonder, does one prove what it is not one's intention to do? How does one demonstrate that one is not doing something, or that one is doing something, but not for a certain reason? It is absurd to place such an obligation on anyone who is required to give evidence or proof. When the onus of proof is placed on the applicant and the decision yea or nay is left exclusively to the immigration officer, I have to conclude that time after time genuine marriages will be denied proper union because it will be impossible for the applicants to prove what they are required to prove, and the immigration officer will therefore rule against them.
I know that it pains the right hon. Gentleman to let me intervene. I am grateful to him for so graciously giving way. Does he agree that although it may be difficult for the husband to enter this country, it may be quite easy for the wife to join her husband in his country of origin?
That may be so, but I hope that the hon. Gentleman and I are not going to argue about the problems of sexual discrimination. If that is the solution that he urges to our problems, he is conceding, game, set and match, the existence of sexual discrimination, but perhaps that does not bother him.
The onus of proof being what it is, and the requirement of proof being set out as it is by the Home Secretary, many genuine marriages will be prevented from union in the United Kingdom. Conservative Back Benchers, who are so concerned to observe the manifesto commitments on which they fought the election, should remember their commitment to family life. I hope that that meant black family life as well as white family life; Asian family life as well as European family life. Today they are making genuine family life for a large section of the British population a great deal more difficult to achieve.
The second enormity to which I wish to draw the attention of the House concerns the period for which a husband who is allowed to enter this country will be required to wait before his settlement is confirmed. With his normal disingenuity, the Home Secretary said "If one year, why not two? If two years, why not three? If three years, why not five?" We can all say that a period seems reasonable if we do not have to give the reason. Even the Home Secretary must understand, however, that by doubling the waiting period one is doubling the risks and doubling the chance of suffering, as well as increasing the intolerable indignity imposed on the men who live in this semi-world during their probationary years.
I do not believe that this will be a deterrent to applications, because all the evidence suggests that most applicants are genuine. The genuine applicant will not be deterred from applying because of a rule that he will have to go home if he is not married after two years because he believes that he will still be married after that period. Nor will the two-year period deter the bogus applicant. There are very few bogus applicants. The Home Secretary referred to about 150 being sent back after a year—150 out of a total of more than 3,000. That is a trivial number, and it in no way justifies the hardship that will be imposed on the genuine applicants.
I ask the Home Secretary to deal with the question of hardship. In a long debate of this kind, I am sure that the House would gladly give him leave to speak again if he was prepared to answer any of our specific questions.
The right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead referred to the supposition under the previous rules that if the marriage broke down because the wife died the man would be allowed to remain in this country. Is that supposition to remain? Surely the Home Secretary would not wish to leave any doubt in anyone's mind that if a marriage breaks down simply due to the death of the wife the man would be allowed to remain.
If the Home Secretary cannot answer that question, perhaps he will answer some of the questions about wives and children. So far he has not answered any of them. It is possible that after a man has lived for two years in this country, legally and legitimately, he may have become the father of two children. If, shortly before the two years run out, he does not desert his wife but she deserts him and leaves him with the children, will he be sent home? Surely the Home Secretary can answer that here and now. He should not need time to consider that. Can he not say now that a man in those circumstances will not be sent home? Can he not say, too, that the man will not be sent home if his wife dies?
If the man's wife has died, of course he will not be sent back. The same applies, of course, to the other case to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. Those are not the kind of circumstances to which I referred. I was describing circumstances in which the man deliberately deserts and has no further part in the marriage.
We are making progress. We have categorical answers to two questions. Anyone who has debated with the Home Secretary for two years, as I have, will be thankful at least for that. I concede at once that his answers were humane and proper, and I rejoice and genuinely thank him for giving them, but that is only the beginning of the problem.
Will the Home Secretary put that into the legislation? Why does it not say that the rules will apply only when the husband is, as it were, the guilty party and not when he is the innocent party? Indeed, are we to return to the concept of blame in divorce and separation?
I accept that it would be infinitely better if it were written into the rules. Nevertheless, having persuaded the Home Secretary to put those two propositions on record, I understand the House and every hon. Member to believe, as I do, that not one man in the circumstances that I have described will be sent away from this country. If we have achieved nothing else, we have clarified and made progress on those two points. The Home Secretary will live with that—and rightly so—for as long as he remains Home Secretary.
The two-year period, however, is not my principal concern in terms of the effect on the applicant. As most applicants are genuine, they will assume that they will remain married for the two years and will therefore not be prevented from applying. I am concerned about refusal of entry based on a requirement to produce unobtainable evidence and the discretion being left entirely in the hands of the immigration officer while the applicant has the absolute duty to prove the case. That cannot be right. The rules have been changed in the past five weeks for one simple reason. The Government pretend that it is to avoid evasion but no one ever produces any evidence of evasion. There are many allegations and smears are spread across the immigrant population and their families, but no evidence is produced. The best figure that we have obtained in the House during the past two years is that 150 men were sent back because their marriages broke down within a year. That is 150 men out of more than 3,000. Many of those are not cases of intentional evasion; they concern men who entered into marriage in the genuine belief that it would continue, but who found, to their surprise, that it collapsed after they arrived. The idea of a calculated policy of trying to enter the country through marriage is patent nonsense. Nobody here this evening—
Of course, the hon. Member for Luton, West (Mr. Carlisle) will claim that he knows of cases where money has changed hands, of bribery and corruption. I hope that he will make such claims outside the House, but the evidence of wholesale evasion does not exist.
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will give me the figures. The only figure that the House has been given is 150 sent back out of 3,000. That does not substantiate the view that mass evasion exist.
The right hon. Gentleman is displaying more ignorance than usual. Evidence does exist. He is living in a fool's paradise. He need only pick up newspapers today in Bombay to see advertisements offering money for such marriages. Before he makes accusations, the right hon. Gentleman should make certain of his facts.
There are two answers to the hon. Gentleman's intervention that I made in the previous debate on the subject, although I cannot remember whether he was present. The truth is that there are very few such marriages these days. If the hon. Gentleman believes the Home Secretary, he will find that he confirms that. Whether the hon. Gentleman likes it or not, he will live in a multiracial society for the rest of his life and he must learn to distinguish between a bogus and an arranged marriage. The two things are not the same. As I understand the Home Secretary, it is not his wish to prevent genuine arranged marriages. I am delighted to see that he concedes that.
If the Home Secretary made a case at all this evening, it is that the reason for the change in immigration rules between 11 November and now is to ensure that the evasion that cannot be quantified does not take place. The Opposition find it impossible to believe that that is the reason for the changes and the hardening of policy. The true reason is that the Home Secretary wishes to placate Back-Bench Members, who will despise him no less because he has capitulated to them. The Home Secretary wishes to take into the Lobby with him those whose views on the matter are—to give him credit—completely different from his. Those Back-Bench Members cannot reconcile allowing even a small additional number of immigrants into this country. To capitulate to those hon. Members is discreditable. To do it in such a way—to argue that the regulations are more moderate and reasonable but then to argue in the next paragraph that, because of the qualifications placed on the regulations, they are more draconian and more easily enforceable is the worst form of double talk that gives politicians a bad name.
We propose to vote against such squalid regulations and to change them as soon as we have the opportunity to do so.
There is no more delicate or dangerous ground that a Home Secretary can traverse than that which we are considering tonight—a change in the immigration rules. If ever Britain has the misfortune to discover its new Home Secretary in the identity of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), he will also find how difficult it is to deal with such matters in practice.
Each Home Secretary who has had to apply his mind to the problem has come up against what appear at times to be insuperable difficulties. In 1969, the Labour Government introduced an absolute ban on all husbands and fiancés coming from abroad to join women in Britain. In 1974, the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins), when he was Home Secretary, removed that ban. I make no comment on that except to say that when the Conservative Party considered the problem in 1979 before the general election, it promised in its manifesto to restore the ban. The promise was fulfilled in 1980 with the rules that are now in force. It was not an absolute ban like the 1969 Labour ban, but it was qualified. Only women born in Britain or who had one parent who was born in Britain, could bring in husbands or fiancés from abroad.
Tonight we are considering a new set of immigration rules that allow all women who are British citizens, as they will be created on 1 January next year by the British Nationality Act 1981, to bring into Britain their husbands and fiancés, subject to conditions that are much stricter than those imposed in the 1980 rules.
Some of my hon. Friends are worried whether the new rules break the promise that was made before the 1979 general election. I understand my hon. Friends' anxieties when they examine that promise and reflect upon the answer to the question. It would appear, prima facie, that the promise that we made in 1979 has been breached. We must face that fact. If those who are dissatisfied rely on the letter of the promise made, perhaps they have something to sustain their doubts about the new rules. If that were the only consideration that we must take into account, many more Conservative Members would be troubled. However, it is not the only consideration. Another consideration is the British Nationality Act 1981 that comes into force on 1 January next year.
The House will remember that in 1977 the Labour Party produced a Green Paper on British nationality law. That Green Paper stated that the nationality law, as it was founded on the British Nationality Act 1948, was in a state of confusion, that it had failed to reflect the changes in the Commonwealth and to identify those people who had the right to belong to this country, and who say so, to leave this country and return without hindrance.
One of the most significant things said in the Green Paper was that the law under the British Nationality Act 1948 provided no base for solving immigration problems by relating them to citizenship. A study group set up by the Conservative Party to look at the law of nationality came to the conclusion just before the 1979 election that the nationality laws were confused and that there was no means of creating a base in citizenship to solve the immigration problems. We made a promise in the 1979 manifesto that we would introduce a new nationality law.
I do not believe that any political party could constitutionally make a more important promise. I believe that the Act which was the fulfilment of that promise is perhaps the most important Act that has passed through Parliament this century. The Act has two main functions. One is to create a citizenship which will enable us all without difficulty and with certainty to identify ourselves as British citizens. At the moment we are not British citizens. No one is entitled to call himself a British citizen. We are all citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies, as our passports say, although most of us have nothing to do with the colonies. When the new Act comes into force on 1 January 1983 we shall be for the first time British citizens.
When that happens there will be only one class of British citizen. British citizens will not be divided into citizens who are more equal than others. They will all be British citizens, as we said in our manifesto.
If we are to have the new Act, and the benefits that come from it, we must have new immigration rules to match. There cannot be one without the other. One cannot have one's cake and eat it, as some people would like. The spirit of the promise that we made in 1979 shows that there is no difficulty in accepting the rules as they are before the House. I say that for two reasons. First, the rules are far tougher than those we introduced in 1980. Apparently, one of the reasons why the Opposition are voting against them tonight is because of their toughness. During the debate, one has heard from behind or a little to the left, geograpically, that the rules are not tough enough or that they will not work. The Opposition believe that they will work too well and too harshly.
The group of British-born women or women who have one parent born here will increase almost daily. The figures are not easy to come by and if one obtains them they are not easy to analyse. But the group must incease until it becomes nearly as great as the new group of women who are British citizens.
Is my hon. and learned Friend saying that there will be more and more people of Asian or other Commonwealth extraction in this country who are born here?
I come to the benefits of the British Nationality Act. We need to control and reduce the number of immigrants coming here. I gained the impression that the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook wished to open the gates. He said that he was speaking for his constituents, but I doubt whether people, for example, from the Indian subcontinent who have settled here and probably become citizens wish to have their position undermined by an uncontrolled flood of people coming here.
The hon. and learned Gentleman demeans himself by making that allegation. What he says is a flagrant misinterpretation of my speech tonight and all my speeches over the past two years inside and outside the House. It is also a flagrant misinterpretation of Labour Party policy.
I am sorry if I have misinterpreted the right hon. Gentleman's view. I am pleased to hear that it is not his view. But he seems to say that he wants more immigrants to come here.
The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) was a member of an Administration that granted two amnesties for illegal immigrants. By definition, that allows in many extra immigrants. The measure probably caused more anxiety among the immigrant population than among the indigenous population.
I shall not lose the thread of my argument by following that point, however important.
Inevitably the British Nationality Act will reduce the number of immigrants coming into the country.
I shall tell the hon. Gentleman why. I know that this is something that the hon. Gentleman does not like; nor does his party find it greatly attractive. The British Nationality Act has abandoned the doctrine of jus soli, which means that from 1 January there will be no automatic acquisition of British nationality through birth. That must have its effect eventually and potentially on the number of immigrants who will be in this country. That must be right.
How long is a piece of string? One cannot begin to quantify that. It is obvious that it must be a considerable number. Far more people will be kept out on that basis than will be let in under the new rules that we are considering. Furthermore, the British Nationality Act enables one to identify far more easily and with more certainty who is a British citizen and who is not, which should help.
It is not fully realised and has never been fully understood that the old law under the 1948 Act, to which we will say goodbye on 1 January, has been responsible for creating the last count of 950 million British subjects throughout the world. The 1948 Act equates the meaning of "British subject" with "Commonwealth citizen". I do not wish to make a false point or to exaggerate, but there can be no doubt that of those 950 million people who can now claim to be British subjects under the present law, there must be many—I could not say how many—who believe that they have, however remotely and tenuously, a claim to come here and ultimately to claim citizenship of this country. There must be many millions who do not even know they are British subjects. That law is antiquated and nonsensical. Of course, that is only one of the reasons why we shall be glad to be rid of it on 1 January.
The Opposition, in voting, as they say they will, against the rules, and any Conservative Member who joins them, will defy the laws of logic by voting against something that they want. I understand that the Opposition want wider rules to allow in more immigrants more easily. Conservative Members want tough and effective safeguards. If they vote against the rules they will vote against both those objectives. If the recent leader in The Times is correct—I think it is—it comes to this: we shall have a new British Nationality Act that creates one form of citizen. Immediately we vote against the rule, we are in danger of creating two types of citizen.
I am following my hon. and learned Friend's argument carefully. I agree with much of it. He said that we made a manifesto commitment about ending the concession. He has also said that we have introduced a new British Nationality Act and that the consequences are that we should have just the one sort of citizen. If we had said in our manifesto that we would suspend the concession made by the Labour Party until we had a new British Nationality Act, many of my colleagues would have gone along with the rules. However, we made a specific commitment that we would end that concession for all time. That overrides the consequences of the Act.
It was obvious that what we did in the 1980 rules was done under the old nationality rules. My hon. Friend knew that, and presumably everyone knew it. Under what law was it done, if not under the old law? We now have a new law.
I thank my hon. and learned Friend for giving way. He said a moment ago that under the British Nationality Act there is now to be only one form of British citizen. However, I am sure he realises that there are to be British citizens, British dependent territories citizens, and British overseas citizens. There are also to be persons settled in this country. Surely the answer is that there has been such a history of various waves of immigration into this country, and we have had such a variety of relationships with other countries, that it is not possible to have only one form of citizenship.
If I may say so, with great respect, my hon. Friend is scraping the barrel. He knows full well that the citizenship to which I am referring is citizenship of this country, not of other countries. I am talking exclusively about British citizenship as it affects this country, and of course the rules are linked with that citizenship.
Finally, I come back to the recent leader in the The Times. What is being done, in voting against the rules tonight, is logically absurd and socially pernicious.
When the debate started we were diverted to the question whether the European Court of Human Rights had any right to interfere in the domestic legislation of this country. I was sorry that the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins) appeared to accept that diversion, and even to elaborate on it, because I do not believe that we should concentrate on that matter tonight. I am not particularly worried about what the European Court has said on this matter. I am worried about what this House will do, what this House will express, and its opinion about how we in this country, in our legislation, should treat our own citizens. I am worried about justice, equity and the equal treatment of citizens in this country by this House. I am not bothered about what comes from outside.
There are two major points of principle. First, we are discussing whether British citizens will be treated equally, regardless of sex or colour. Secondly, we are discussing whether, to pander to the unpleasant, xenophobic and sexist prejudices of a few hon. Members, we are to agree to a change in rules which will be oppressive, intolerable and incapable of any objective assessment. That is what is put to us today in the rules, as outlined in this paper, "Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules".
On the first point, the Government are making it quite clear that they still intend to treat a small minority of citizens in this country, the small minority that is both female and black, differently from the rest of the community, and they are prepared to justify that. On that, they will again lose when the matter goes back to the European Court.
In order to pander to only a comparatively few hon. Members we shall bring in rules which will place the burden of proof on the applicant. I do not know how there will be any objective assessment. How will someone who is applying to marry a British inhabitant prove—that is the operative word—that he is not doing it for the primary purpose of immigration? A prejudiced immigration or entry certificate officer, like a few hon. Members, will say that somebody from a different society who has an arranged marriage—I do not hold a brief for arranged marriages but I am not arrogant enough to say that a different society is necessarily a worse one—has it for the primary purpose of immigration. It can easily be seen how people who believe that an arranged marriage is unacceptable would think that it must be for some reason other than a desire to marry that person. There could easily be additional hardship and oppression on people applying to come to Britain.
I shall not pretend—I do not think any hon. Member would—that there are not cases where individuals come into Britain with no intention of a marriage subsisting. There are always people who will operate rules to their advantage. There will always be white, black or brown people who bend the rules to their advantage. There will always be a small proportion of immigrant men who are prepared to exploit a small proportion of women whom they want to marry. However, that does not mean that the House has the moral right to say that the great majority of those who are applying to join the women whom they want to marry or those who are joining women to whom they are already married are not doing so genuinely. Such people already have an intolerable and oppressive weight to bear.
The House should remember that there is a small minority of British citizens who are both black and women who are today watching to see whether the House is prepared to treat them as equal citizens regardless of their sex and colour.
The hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Miss Wright) criticised some of the safeguards in the revised immigration rules. I share some of those criticisms and shall come to them in due course.
I wish to explain to the House why I signed the motion in the name of the Leader of the Liberal Party, the right hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel), and why I intend, with regret, to vote against the Government tonight. I did so as a sign of encouragement.
After all, this is the first recorded act of the Liberal Party to oppose a measure the effect of which is to increase immigration from the new Commonwealth and Pakistan. I also signed the right hon. Gentleman's motion because, if carried, it will be incontrovertibly effective, under section 3(2) of the 1971 Act, in preventing the rules from taking effect on 1 January 1983. I did not sign the amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Sir W. Clark), because there is an element of doubt in my mind about whether it will achieve its aim.
Much has been said tonight about manifesto commitments. I shall vote against the rules, because our party has made promises in successive manifestos, most notably in 1970 and in 1979, and they have all worn rather thin. I have begun to wonder whether anyone will believe us next time. In 1970 we said that
there will be no further large-scale permanent immigration from the new Commonwealth.
Since then more than 560,000 immigrants from the new Commonwealth and Pakistan have entered this country legally. Since our manifesto commitment in 1979 more than 100,000 immigrants have entered Britain legally. Such is the betrayal of public confidence and faith.
Some of my hon. Friends are keen to suggest that primary immigration from the new Commonwealth and Pakistan has all but ended. In our last debate on the rules, my hon. Friend the Member for Paddington (Mr. Wheeler) said:
Immigration from the Indian subcontinent is rapidly coming to an end … primary immigration from the Indian subcontinent is, in effect, over."—[Official Report, 11 November 1982; Vol. 31, c. 727.]
I know that my hon. Friend holds an important position on the specialist Sub-Committee of one of our Select Committees, and therefore we listen carefully to his words, but I wonder whether he was correct.
That statement would be true but for the fact that 40 per cent. of the present figures are accounted for by non-dependants. It would be true but for the fact—as the editorial in "Population Trends No. 30" published only yesterday reveals—that although immigration in 1981 continued to decline from most old and new Commonwealth countries, there was
a marked increase in immigration from Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka"—
emigration to new Commonwealth countries fell by 6,000.
That statement would be true but for the fact that the 1982 third quarter figures from the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys for acceptances for settlement on the removal of the time limit record an increase on the 1981 figures from 9,920 to 10,510 for citizens of the new Commonwealth and Pakistan. Within that figure there is a recorded increase for Pakistan from 1,820 to 2,300. Those immigrants all fall into categories in which the Home Secretary has greater use of his discretion.
Many of my right hon. and hon. Friends are even keener to proffer the idea that immigration is down to a trickle. Indeed, the media seem to think the same. That would be true but for the fact that immigration continues from the new Commonwealth and Pakistan at the rate of 30,000 a year, even in 1982. In 1973, the last full year of the previous Conservative Administration, a figure of 32,247 was recorded. This year we are claiming credit because the figure might be just under 30,000, but we are not sure. That is not a significant achievement or an achievement of which we can be proud in view of the manifesto commitments and promises made in 1979.
I have listened carefully to the hon. Gentleman's figures and statistics. Even taking them at their worst, they represent a small proportion of the population of Britain. Small numbers of people, relatively speaking, are coming in. Having given us a catalogue of numbers, will the hon. Gentleman tell us what is wrong with this number of people coming into Britain? Are they bad citizens? Do they not contribute to the country? What is wrong?
The hon. Member for East Kilbride (Dr. Miller) speaks for a Scottish constituency which has still to feel the full impact of the immigration which has hit the inner cities of England. It is a question of numbers. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to tell his constituents that it is not unreasonable to have taken 560,000 people from the new Commonwealth and Pakistan since 1970, he should talk to some of my right hon. and hon. Friends who represent constituencies which have been seriously affected by this problem. In saying that I make no criticism of any individual immigrant from the new Commonwealth and Pakistan. If I had been in their position I, too, would probably have come to Britain. The blame rests not with the immigrants nor with the indigenous community, which has been incredibly tolerant. The criticism is of successive politicians of both parties during the past 30 years. That is where the criticism should correctly remain.
I do not share the view of some of my hon. Friends that somehow immigration from the new Commonwealth and Pakistan will end. A large resident ethnic community here will act as a magnet for further immigration far into the future. Without a change in the law with regard to dependants, that prospect is inevitable. Although I would vote for such an amendment to the law, given that immigrants can be reunited in their own countries as well as in the United Kingdom, unfortunately I do not see such a change at the moment commending the support of Parliament.
The growth of the new Commonwealth and Pakistan population is ever upwards, reinforced by natural increase to a greater degree as each year passes—more than 100,000 in 1981. About 2,500 to 3,000 more immigrants, as proposed, plus dependants, might seem inconsequential to Members on the Opposition Benches and perhaps to some Members on the Conservative Benches, but if the rules increased the inflow by one, I should feel obliged to vote against them.
Much has been said about the safeguards. In response to the pressure, trite and meaningless safeguards may fool some right hon. and hon. Members, but I doubt whether they will impress the ordinary voter, especially in marginal inner city constituencies.
I believe that we see in the safeguards the classic example of a multiracial society leading towards authoritarian rules and regulations and an over-mighty Government. Anxious as ever to ensure the support of right hon. and hon. Members, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has instead ensured that he will tread a bed of thorns, for so draconian, so authoritarian, so ill-considered and so blatantly discriminatory are these safeguards that he will encounter the wrath, condemnation and howls of anguish of every civil rights and women's group that is going. Moreover, he will doubtless find himself in the dock of the European Court of Human Rights still more often in future than he has in the past.
It is one thing to be liberal or to be conservative in the tightness of controls—my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Fylde (Mr. Gardner) talked about toughness—and quite another to be unfair and unjust, and we shall reap the consequences of these temporary expediencies.
At a time when we are facing a breakdown of law, order and authority, it is hardly helpful to the encouragement of good race relations to put still greater strain on the tensions that are to be found in our society, especially in inner city areas where immigrant communities are concentrated.
I do not believe that these rules have the support of the British people. They are demonstrably detrimental to British interests. They will undermine our self-confidence and our identity. They are a disgrace, and the betrayal of our promises is a greater disgrace. Such disgrace deserves defeat.
The history is worth recalling and I shall recall it for the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Sir W. Clark), who is speaking from a sedentary position. In 1968 the Home Secretary of the day, my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), showed his concern that there was an upsurge of new husbands coming into the country. The figure was 1,676, and about 1,500 came from India. On that basis my right hon. Friend changed the then rules to stop men, coming into the country for marriage save in the most exceptional circumstances, and the immigration appeals tribunals made it pretty certain that those circumstances were very restricted. As a result, from 1969 to 1974 practically no husbands came into the country.
When the Labour Government took office in 1974 there was a massive campaign to get them to reverse the rules. The major part of the concern was expressed by women who were white who wanted to marry men who were white. When we changed the rules, we recognised that though that would be a solace to them there was bound to be an increase in migration from the Indian subcontinent. We warned expressly that that would be so.
When we changed the rules, the Conservative Party did not even trouble to pray against the change. There was no vote or debate because the Conservative Party supported to the full the campaign by women around the country. Had the Tories wanted to pray against the rules, perhaps the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) might have stirred himself to pray, but he did not. The rules went through without opposition, largely because almost every hon. Member thought that the only decent, civilised thing to do was to allow a man to live with his wife wherever the couple wished to live—in the place where the man was born, where the woman was born or in some other place, for example, this country if they had the right of entry.
When we came to that conclusion, I was careful to point out, because I could see what was coming, that there might be a time when we would find the odd case of persons who came here for the purpose of migration and married in a bogus marriage. I said:
The real test for us as a civilised community is whether we can stand up to the kind of criticism that would then be voiced. If we believed that a change was right and if, in all the circumstances, we concluded that it should take place, a few bad cases should not change our view about the issue on principle, and we would have to be able to stand before our constituents and explain the situation if they wanted us to change the rules back because of one or two bad cases".—[Official Report, 21 June 1974; Vol. 875, c. 940.]
I then got the sack. Within two years of that, my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) changed the rules on the basis of those few bad cases.
Even today, when the Administration is trying hard to be stricter than any other Administration about these matters, it can still only find about 150 cases to send back, out of a possible 5,000 men who came here through marriage last year. In those circumstances, it is absurd to argue that because of that number of possible bogus marriages we should change the rules yet again. Nevertheless, The Conservative Party blindly made that promise before the previous general election and tried to carry it out even though there were one or two other proposals in the Home Secretary's Leicester speech that the Government did not quite carry out. It would not be the only part of that speech that the Home Secretary has not carried through, and it would have been easy for him when he came into office and saw reality not to have carried this through. However, the Government did so.
I did not think that the Government could change the rules because I did not think that they could take on the white women's lobby that had so stirred itself in 1974. However, the Government were better than I could have thought. They are not afraid of a bit of racism here and there. They changed the rules so that white women could get their husbands in, but not black or brown women.
As long as the woman here was born here, or was a child of a person born here, the Government were prepared to face any charge of racism. They said that they had justification, but when we on the Select Committee examined the whole question, the Home Office was clear that it could not justify its discrimination although it was clear that there was discrimination.
The moment that the cases went to the European Commission of Human Rights, they were accepted prima facie and the result was that the Home Secretary began to change tack. He has now decided that he will allow couples to come here if the woman is a British citizen.
As the Home Secretary implied, the original rule could not have lasted very long anyway because there would always come a time when most or the women wanting to marry would be women who were born here. The British citizenship provision was simply a step back from that position. I should have been willing to accept that and not to have demurred if British citizenship would mean that most, if not all, of the women who wanted to bring in a husband would be allowed to, even subject to the rather stiffer tests included in the 1981 change of rules. That is not the position, and it is for that reason that the Labour Opposition propose to vote against these rules, even though we may be joined by Conservative Members who take an entirely different view of the rules.
We are doing so for two main reasons. First, if one looks at the migration figures for marriage since 1974, it is perfectly clear that initially half the men coming in were white. There was a reduction in that figure over time, because a backlog had built up from 1969 to 1974. Now, roughly half the men who come here for marriage come from the Indian subcontinent, and most of those come from India. Last year, the figure was about 1,100 out of a total of 2,100 who came from the Indian subcontinent. A further 3,050 came from the New Commonwealth and about 2,480 came from other countries.
If we simply accept the rule about citizenship, many of those Indian fiancés would not be allowed to come. It is not clear what proportion of Indian citizens have taken British citizenship. Most of the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis have, but Indian men would lost their Indian citizenship if they did so. I understand that a considerable number have not taken British citizenship, as a result of which their children would fail if those children had not acquired British citizenship, and perhaps they have not done so.
Secondly, the rules introduced by the Government in 1981, reinforced by the new rules that they are now introducing, are aimed specifically at arranged marriages in the custom of the Indian subcontinent. On this subject, I take issue with my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Miss Wright), who suggested that we should perhaps frown on the practice of the arranged marriage. There are problems with the arranged marriage, and it creates some tension in some parts of the Indian community. The Indian community must consider that matter carefully. However, never in our history have we tried in any way by Government decree to change the custom and cultural pattern of any group of migrants coming into this country. We did not do so with the Jews from Eastern Europe who also used the arranged marriage system, and I do not think that we should do so now.
This will probably change, but at a pace dictated by the people themselves and not by any Government decree. Therefore, I am totally opposed to immigration rules that are simply designed to change the cultural pattern of the Indian subcontinent.
Some of those rules were introduced in 1981 and have been added to. The first rule is that the parties should have met. It may be inconceivable to people from the West that there should be marriage between parties who have not met. Nevertheless, such marriages have been commonplace in the Indian subcontinent. My experience from when I investigated the subject in 1974 was that they were successful. The divorce rate there was much lower than in the West. That is precisely why it is inadvisable for us to judge whether such marriages are unwise. Nevertheless, because the rule has been passed, there are cases—it is difficult to say how many—when refusals are made to applicants from India and Pakistan on that basis alone.
When he is questioned on the subject, the Minister of State says that a couple can meet quite easily if they just make a visit. The difficulty of making a visit is that it is expensive, especially in these straitened times when unemployment is high, especially among minority communities. It is difficult to make a visit and to hold a marriage ceremony.
The second part of the rules was that the marriage should not have been terminated within 12 months. When that original proviso was made by the Labour Government, my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill) said that it would never be intended to send anyone whose marriage had broken down naturally back to their country of origin if there was no question of the marriage being bogus and arranged purely for entry to Britain. Nevertheless, the immigration tribunal interpreted that provision quite differently. It said that it did not matter why the couple were no longer living together but that if they were not living together at the end of 12 months it was right that they should be sent back. They are being sent out in increasing numbers.
Today, the Home Secretary said that there is no difference between one year and two in that respect. On the contrary, there is a doubling of the time in which a marriage may naturally break down. Marriages can and do break down—it is becoming increasingly frequent. In those circumstances, the Home Secretary says that there is no reason why the people concerned should not go back to their country of origin. The reply is that the person has invested more than money in coming to Britain. He has invested emotionally in his expectations of coming to Britain, of beginning a life here, of finding a job and of settling down. If the marriage then breaks down, he will find that on the basis of that marriage breaking down he is to be sent back to his country of origin where he must try to pick up his life again. I have always believed that that was intolerable.
The worst proviso is that about the burden of proof. It seems a small change to say first, that if an applicant wishes to come to Britain, it is for the immigration officer to show on the balance of probabilities that he is within one of the exceptions, and then to say that the onus is on the applicant to prove that he is not within one of the exceptions. That may seem a small change but it is crucial. The burden of proof is what the argument is all about once a person gets in front of the desk of the immigration or the entry certificate officer. That is why, when I was a Minister, I tried to get entry certificate officers to apply the rule—which is the rule of English law—that the burden of proof should be the burden of the balance of probabilities.
It was that, more than anything else, that caused the furore about my visit to the subcontinent which led to a report about the visit being made by some now unknown Foreign Office official that was leaked by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell). The truth is that what had upset the entry certificate officers was reminding them that it was the balance of probabilities that had to apply, not the criminal standard of proof.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for reminding the House of that interesting period. Has he made any calculation of how many extra entrants came into this country as a result of the direction that he gave to the immigration officials?
I shall go over the figures in a moment. I wish to deal first with the point made by the hon. Member for Basildon. The burden of proof and the balance of probabilities are crucial to any assessment whether an applicant is going to get in. It is an immense change to put the burden of proof on the applicant. It is far worse than any other factor introduced into the debate. It is much more likely to lead to a reduction in the number of people who can come. That may please some Conservative Members. It does not please me.
The reason is not that the figures are enormous or that I wish to open the gates wide. The figures have never been enormous. The highest figure occurred in the year immediately following the change of rules when there was something of a pent-up dam and some people took the opportunity to come. The figure was 8,100 from all over the world and 4,496 from the new Commonwealth. The figure dropped to about 3,050 on the last occasion.
The Minister of State told the Select Committee that the figure of 3,050 still consisted roughly of about 80 per cent. of people who were coming under the old rules and who had been delayed in the queue. The other 20 per cent. were new people who had applied since the change of rules in 1981. If that is so, about 700 came under the rules invented by this Government. The Home Secretary has pointed to about 600 who were refused entry in the last year. This means that under the rules introduced in 1981, 700 were allowed to come in and 600 were refused entry. That is the balance on which we are looking for the future.
If we are to continue with the rules invented by this Government, the likelihood is that 50 per cent. of cases will be refused. If that is the case, it is not something that I want to accept. If we were to succeed in defeating the rules tonight, there would be some women who are British citizens, although not born here, who would not then be able to bring in their husbands and who might say: "Why have you done this to me?" The answer is simple.
If we defeat the rules tonight, the Government cannot simply stand there. There is no way in which the Government can simply allow themselves to go on applying the existing rules. There has to be a concession to someone. It has to be a concession either to Conservative Members or to the Opposition. I believe that the concession will be to us. The pressure on the Government was not the British Nationality Act, which could have changed the Immigration Act 1971 and made the position for women exactly the same as that for men. It did not do so because the Government were not interested in making that change. The Government knew at the time the British Nationality Act was going through the House—the Opposition told them so—that it would cause difficulties for their rules on fiancés. The pressure comes from the European Convention on Human Rights.
I know it is denied. But the fact is, that the Government are bound by it unless they wish to withdraw from it. Certainly it must apply because cases have already been taken up under it.
If the Government withdrew from the convention, as they could, little ladies from Salisbury could not bring cases about comprehensive schooling and people from power stations could not use it to challenge closed shop rules, which would certainly upset Conservative Members. Getting out of the convention is not so easy as they imagine. One has to take the rough with the smooth. The rough part for the hon. Member for Basildon is that we cannot get out of our obligation on this. The Select Committee made it perfectly plain, and Lord Scarman and the other witnesses made it plain to the Select Committee that the rules breach the European convention.
The rules breach the convention not only in relation to citizen wives but in relation to settled wives, because under the convention "national" means someone who is settled here. Significantly, of the three cases so far brought and accepted as being within the jurisdiction of the convention, two were citizen wives and one was a settled wife. The Commission has not suggested that there is any difference between the two. The Home Secretary has conceded the case of the citizen wife, but not that of the settled wife, so even if the Government succeeded in getting the rules through the House they would have to come back to make the concession in relation to settled wives.
The Government might just as well face the situation now. About a dozen Conservative Members would like to be minor Enoch Powells—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"]. They would like to be minor versions of the right hon. Member for Down, South. I was thinking more of the right hon. Gentleman's public persona than of his position in the House. That is the only opposition that the Government have to take on. The rest of us are of one mind. We believe that women who are settled here should be allowed to bring in their husbands.
The numbers involved are minuscule by comparison with the number of people who emigrate every year. In only two years since 1955 have more people entered than left this country. Migration has not caused the problems suggested by Conservative Members. The hon. Member for Basildon should note the highest figures for immigration from the new Commonwealth since 1973. In 1972 the figures were much higher, but the hon. Member for Basildon insists on giving the 1973 figures because he fails to mention what happened in Uganda. In that year, the Government restricted the number of immigrants from the Indian subcontinent in order to take the people from Uganda.
Taking the whole picture, the figures peaked in 1976 and since then have steadily fallen because people can come here only if they have an entitlement under the rules, and the rules are now extremely restrictive. There were two major areas of concession. The first concerned the East African Asians, most of whom have now come—apart from the 20,000 or perhaps only 15,000 living on the Indian subcontinent, on whom the Select Committee recently reported, and they will not be coming.
The second concession concerns the wives and children of men who were settled here a very long time ago. Most of those have come already. The people from India have come, most of those from Pakistan have come and most of those from Bangladesh are now here. The hon. Member for Basildon shakes his head. He had better read the Select Committee report and study the figures.
The only remaining area of migration is that of husbands and wives, and twice as many women as men enter Britain for marriage. Any civilised country would allow a man or a woman to live there if one of its nationals wished to marry and to bring in a husband or wife. As civilised countries do that, we condemn the Soviet Union for not doing it. But the Government are playing the tactics of the Soviet Union by trying to keep out husbands whom they do not like simply because of their colour.
When my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary began his speech this evening, he talked of the difficulty that he faced when drafting the rules. The House should be conscious of the great difficulty that any Home Secretary faces when he drafts such rules, because he must try to accommodate two not wholly compatible considerations. The first consideration is the need to control the flow of immigration into Britain and thus to calm public anxiety. That is perfectly proper. The second consideration is the vital need to ensure that British citizens' rights are protected. Those incompatible considerations inevitably bring about some tension, which is at its highest when we talk about fiancés and husbands.
I have had the pleasure on many previous occasions, and to some extent tonight, of hearing the arguments of my right hon. and hon. Friends who dislike the rules. I understand and entirely sympathise with many of their arguments, but I do not agree with them. I shall try to define my right hon. and hon. Friends' criticisms of the rules. First, they say that the rules are insufficiently tough. Then they say that the rules are unenforceable and that they will take us back to the pre-1979 position, representing a departure from the Conservative Party manifesto of 1979. In every respect, those arguments—however eloquently argued—are wrong.
The first assertion—that the rules, if approved, will take us back to the 1979 position—is wrong. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who said that?"] That argument has been advanced frequently by, for example, my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook).
My hon. Friend misunderstands the effect of what he has been saying. One criticism of the rules is that they take us back to the 1979 position and that they represent a departure from the Conservative Party manifesto. That is a false argument.
Yes, yes, yes. Before the 1979 general election, women settled in the United Kingdom, irrespective of citizenship and subject to precious few safeguards, and had a right to introduce husbands and fiancés into the United Kingdom. That position has changed radically, because the rules brought forward by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary make it clear that the right depends upon the possession of British citizenship. Furthermore, the right is sheltered by safeguards that are enforceable and correct. Therefore, to suggest that we are simply restoring the status quo ante is not correct.
The second point that is being made by my right hon. and hon. Friends is that the rules represent some departure from the Conservative manifesto.
I am always gracious to my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen). He is not always gracious to me, but we do our best to be friendly. I am sure that on this occasion he will listen to a contrary view with his customary courtesy.
In the Conservative manifesto of 1979 we said that we would withdraw the concession extended to husbands and fiancés in 1974. That is precisely what we have done. True, we have left the right, but it is a wholly different right. It is a right which depends upon the possession of British citizenship, and, furthermore, it is an entitlement hedged by safeguards. Let me take the argument a little further.
I am listening, as is everyone, with bated breath to the words of wisdom from my hon. Friend. May I suggest to him that arrogance does not, in fact, win arguments. In no circumstances can one ever advance the argument that the new rules conform to the Conservative manifesto pledge.
My hon. Friend did not note or understand the first point that I made. We have given the right to British citizens. That is quite different and distinct from the position that existed in 1979.
I take it further than that. The manifesto contained two other commitments that hon. Members, and particularly my hon. Friends, should bear in mind, in that we said, first, that we would protect the position of British citizens before the law, and, secondly, that we would introduce a British Nationality Act.
A British Nationality Act having been introduced, it is inevitable that we must consider all relevant legislation in the context of that Act. It would be wholly inconsistent to leave in existence a legal framework which is incompatible with that Act. The other arguments that have been put forward by my right hon. and hon. Friends are—
No, I will not give way to my hon. Friend. He has had ample opportunity in this debate, in the press, and on television and in previous debates, and why should he not, to express his views. He must for the moment allow me to continue.
It is argued by my right hon. and hon. Friends who disagree with them that the rules are unsufficiently tough and unenforceable. However, I have to remind myself, and my hon. Friends will wish to remind themselves, that we are talking about our daughters' rights. The rules apply to everyone. They apply to British citizens resident in this country. That includes my daughter.
When I ask myself, in all conscience, whether I can say that the provisions in the rules, as they touch on my daughter, are insufficiently tough, I reject the proposition.
I shall come to that also in a moment, but my hon. Friend must learn that he does not improve his argument by making fairly intelligible observations from a sedentary position. I might add that my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) never improves his argument from a standing position either.
My hon. Friend and I have probably spent more time in the Chamber together than any other two hon. Members. I know exactly what he is like. I shall not give way at this juncture.
The criteria are enforceable. Immigration officers are being asked to make a judgment—a finding of fact. That is the process that justices, Revenue officials, Customs officers, policemen and DHSS officials have to make all the time. It is not essentially difficult. If they get it wrong, there is a right of appeal.
I have not sat in on such a tribunal, but I have frequently appeared in appeal tribunals where precisely the same judgment is required.
The criteria are enforceable, but that consideration is not my chief objection to my hon. Friends' position. I have great respect and, in many cases, affection for my hon. Friends with whom I disagree on this point, but I ask myself whether their primary objective is acceptable. I start from the premise that no hon. Member would wish to tell his daughter that she did not have the right to bring into the United Kingdom a husband or fiancé of her choice. Can we make a distinction between a Miss Hogg and a Miss Patel? That question is at the core of the argument. If I assert that my daughter should have a right to bring into the United Kingdom a person of her choice, how can I in all conscience deny exactly the same right to another female British citizen born and resident in the United Kingdom who happens to be called Miss Patel?
Yes, it is. If I acceded to the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North, I should be making a distinction between female citizens born in the United Kingdom and female British citizens born outside the United Kingdom.
No, it is not. If I accepted the argument, I should be making a fundamental distinction which I would have to say was expressed in terms of colour. I will not do it. If a party argues that, in all conscience, it is departing from the traditions of the Conservative Party.
I hope that my hon. Friends consider carefully where they stand before they vote against the rules.
I am coming to what the people think. It is of critical importance when I deal with the Opposition's argument. Although I do not have much hope at persuading many of my right hon. and hon. Friends, I shall do my best and I hope that we shall join together in friendly discussion—
I shall even try to please my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South.
I am no more impressed by the arguments from the Opposition Benches. I listened carefully to what Opposition Members said, expecting that I would find some points of agreement. Their two arguments are essentially these: first, that it is wrong in principle to make a distinction for the purposes of the rules between men and women; and, second, that we should, as a matter of policy, grant the relevant entitlement to all women settled in the United Kingdom. That is the primary case that the Opposition put forward.
I would be infinitely more impressed by those bold words of principle if it had not been for the fact that in 1969 the then Labour Home Secretary, subsequently the last Labour Prime Minister, introduced the 1970 rules. It is interesting to remember that he said:
it seems that marriage is being used by many young men of working age as a means of entering, working and settling in this country. This abuse of the concession is inconsistent with the general scheme of Commonwealth immigration control."—[Official Report, 30 January 1969, Vol. 776, c. 367.]
The right hon. Gentleman then imposed a ban. What did he do on that occasion? He did two things. He made a distinction between men and women, and he held further that a ban was appropriate because the concession was being abused.
That position is now being denied in most respects by the Opposition. To hear their arguments now and test them against the policy that they implemented when they were in office shows that one should treat their views with some gentle scepticism. However, not merely do I treat the public expression of their views with some gentle scepticism but I think that the Opposition's policy is wrong. It is wrong for this reason. The Labour Party is effectively saying that we should give to female citizens settled in the United Kingdom a largely unfettered right of bringing in their husbands and fiancés. That ignores a deeply rooted anxiety about the level of immigration. That anxiety has been expressed in speeches and sedentary interventions by my right hon. and hon. Friends. I know that it is experienced by many. At a time of high unemployment and real racial tension, it must be an absolute nonsense to advocate measures that would result in a substantial increase in primary immigration that cannot be justified in terms of democratic rights.
One must reconcile two issues—one is democratic rights and the other is the need to control immigration. The criticism of the Opposition is that they do not pay enough attention to the need to control immigration. The criticism of my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South is that he does not pay enough attention to democratic rights. The praise to be given to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is that he has, in this extremely difficult matter, got the balance about right.
I am coming to that point, if my hon. Friend will show a little patience.
We have created a new status of British citizen. We are dealing with the rights of female British citizens. We all accept that the Miss Clarks of the world should have a right to bring in their husbands and fiancés. I am saying that so should Miss Patel, provided that she is a British citizen settled in the United Kingdom. If we deny that proposition, we create two categories of female British citizens, and that is wrong. For that reason, I commend the rules to the House, and I am certain that the vast majority of my constituents will commend me in so doing.
I am tempted to say "Follow that", but I shall not do so.
My principal concern with these rules, especially in relation to marriages, is that they will give entry clearance officers and immigration officers far too wide powers. Many hon. Members have experience of the wide interpretation of powers that immigration officers already exert—at Heathrow, among other places—when people, perfectly reasonably, come into this country, and, on an arbitrary decision of an immigration officer, are denied access to their families and friends—even for a visit—and we have to intervene on their behalf. People come in, cap in hand.
The conditions, as they have been tightened up—I refer, in particular, to paragraph 126, which I am sure all Conservative Members will know; and I do not share the optimism of some hon. Members who have spoken—are so oppressive as to make entry for all but the most resolute impossible. In my opinion, that is the intention. In reality, a two-year qualification will probably mean a three-year or a four-year qualification, if retained in the present form. Fortunately, my marriage has lasted for nearly 22 years, and it is my experience that the first two years of a marriage are the most stressful. I do not see why young people should be subjected to additional stresses, when they are already under stress in cementing a new union and a new family and growing new roots. They are then subjected to bureaucratic stresses which can, and sometimes will, be far above the stress that many of them can stand.
Before I leave that subject, I would thank the Home Secretary for the two assurances that he gave us tonight. There is bound to be considerable concern about the children of marriages that break up, for whatever reason. However, I was appalled to hear that the Home Secretary believes that most marriages break up because husbands abandon their wives. Marriages break up for a variety of tragic reasons, many of them in no way concerned with husbands abandoning their wives. However, I am glad to hear that the Home Secretary has taken on board what hon. Members have said and has given us assurances when children are involved.
The nub of this debate—as it was of our debate on 11 November—is fiancés. We are told that one of the reasons for tightening up is the misuse of the arranged marriage tradition, but we have been given no proof. I asked the Minister of State on 11 November:
Much capital has been made of the possibility of men entering into arranged marriages primarily as a means of coming to the United Kingdom. What are the figures for the number of marriages so contracted? There is much hearsay on this subject, but I have yet to discover any hard evidence".—[Official Report, 11 November 1982; Vol. 31, c. 732.]
The Minister of State said in winding up that he had been asked a number of questions to which he would reply in writing. So far, I have not been privileged to receive a reply to that question, which was directed specifically to the Minister of State. In fact, it was not until we came here
tonight that we got any evidence at all. We find that the number of men sent back because their marriages have not lasted for a year is 150. I am no mathematician, but I work that out to be about 5 per cent. of the estimated figure of 3,000 people coming in.
I shall not give way just now. Nevertheless, we are still told that fiancés are using the arranged marriage tradition as a way of getting into this country. We still have not been given proof of that. I ask the Minister of State again if he will give us categorical proof that these arranged marriages are being deliberately contracted to bring into this country people who do not genuinely want to make an arranged marriage.
We now hear of money being advertised in Bombay. Whether we agree with it or not it is a fact that dowries form part of an arranged marriage. They have nothing to do with bogus marriages at all.
The lack of provision for elderly dependent relatives has so far not been mentioned, although it was dealt with in he debate of 11 November. I want to bring to the attention of the House the case of the mother of one of my constituents, Mrs. Soni, about whom I have had correspondence with the Minister. Under the present rules, the adjudicator at her appeal was obliged to deny Mrs. Soni entry into Britain. At the close of his summing-up he said:
I make this decision with reluctance in view of the past history of this matter. Mr. Wadeson"—
who I presume was the lady's solicitor or lawyer—
himself mentioned that I might wish to make some recommendation and this I willingly do.
I have no doubt that there is a strong emotional dependence in this case and in the interest of seeing that justice in its broadest term is done in this case I strongly recommend that the appellant be given leave to enter the United Kingdom to settle by discretionary action outside the Immigration Rules.
I shall not bore the House with the whole of the Minister's letter, but he was unfortunately unable to concur. That lady is still unable to join her family. That is not the only case that I have had. There are elderly relatives in Bangladesh, Pakistan and India whose children are in Britain. They want to see their grandchildren and spend their declining years with their families. That is a perfectly justifiable and honourable wish. Yet the rules make no provision for such people. It is about time the Government considered what they are doing.
No, I shall not give way.
It saddened me to hear the Home Secretary defending the rules as he did. I had considerable respect and admiration for him before I came to the House and that respect has grown since. In reality, the Home Secretary did not particularly want the rules, any more than did many of his right hon. and hon. Friends. He has been forced into this by the baying of some of the hard-line, Right-wing Conservative Members. The rules have been brought in for the sake of a quiet life. It is on that basis, if on no other, that I shall vote with my hon. Friends on the Liberal and Social Democratic Benches tonight.
This is one of the many occasions in this Parliament when we have the prospect of Labour, Social Democratic and Liberal Members voting together. On this occasion it will be in favour of a more liberal immigration policy.
The speeches from the Front Bench, both above and below the Gangway, were not, if I may say so, particularly distinguished. That of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) reminded me somewhat of a roly-poly pudding. It was superficially attractive perhaps, but stodgy and fundamentally unsatisfying. However, it did at least have one virtue. The right hon. Gentleman has always been consistent in his suggestion that women settled here, with the right of abode in the United Kingdom, but without British nationality, should have the same entitlement to bring in their husbands and fiancés into the United Kingdom as British women. Although that has consistently been his view, I believe it to be wrong, because our primary duty must be towards women who are British nationals.
The right hon. Gentleman also advocated a return to the status quo ante, which, in immigration terms, means to the status quo ante of 1974. That was the year when the Labour Party instituted its provisions for an amnesty for illegal immigrants. The most significant element was not so much what the right hon. Gentleman said, as what he omitted. On this occasion, his speech omitted two significant points: his previous commitment to the repeal of the Immigration Act 1971 on behalf of his party, and—again on behalf of his party— the repeal of the British Nationality Act 1981. If both of those Acts were repealed, effective immigration control and a sound principle of citizenship would be very hard to establish.
The right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins) was perhaps more interesting than the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook. He was, indeed, vaguer. It was astonishing that the right hon. Member for Hillhead should ask the House to disapprove of the rules, when he did not suggest anything in their place. That was a fundamental omission. I should have thought that it was incumbent on the right hon. Gentleman, who, after all, moved the motion, to suggest an alternative.
That is interesting and reaffirms my point that the view of the Labour Party and the Liberal-Social Democratic alliance is identical on this issue. I am sure that the electorate will remember that.
We were allowed a tantalising glimpse behind the veil. It was a veil, because the speech of the right hon. Member for Hillhead was long and contained many abstract nouns—as witnessed by his intervention—but was short on practical prescriptions. He suggested that the jus soli provisions of the British Nationality Act 1981 were wrong. However, the British electorate feel that the children of transient people in this country should not necessarily have British citizenship. The British Nationality Act was right in that regard.
Of course the right hon. Member for Hillhead has the same ideas about settled women as the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook. The right hon. Member for Hillhead and I were away from the House for a similar period of time. His sojourn in Brussels has introduced a somewhat fluffy, insubstantial texture to his arguments. It is rather like an over-rich soufflé.
An amendment stands in the names of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) and 29 of my hon. Friends. They allege that the revised immigration rules contradict our election pledges. Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg), I understand their view and sympathise with it. However, I remember my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary saying loud and clear before the election that the Conservative Party's aim was to bring immigration control more into line with the right of abode and with citizenship. As a direct result of the British Nationality Act, we have the revised rules.
If my hon. Friends dislike the revised rules, they should have argued more effectively against the British Nationality Act. I was a member of the Standing Committee, but I cannot remember any eloquent or effective arguments from them then. However, in Committee I pressed the point about the fiancés or husbands of British women. Honourably and rightly, my right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison), the Minister of State, said that he would think about the matter and return to the House. He has done that with the White Paper, and now with the rules. The most important aspect of the manifesto was the clear exposition, repeated by the right hon. Member for Hillhead, that the rights of all British citizens legally settled here are equal before the law, regardless of their race, sex or creed, and their opportunities should also be equal.
Those are the principles on which I fought my election campaign. There was a codicil about husbands and fiancés, but political parties when they reach office have the responsibility to see whether the entirety of their manifesto pledges and commitments make sense in the cold reality and light of office. We found with the quota that it was not as sensible as we had thought. We made the right decision also about husbands and fiancés.
I have twice argued this year that we should extend to British women not born here or without a parent born here the same entitlement to bring in a husband or fiancé as other British women. If I have a general regret, it is that my 30 recusant hon. Friends who signed the amendment have forced my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to impose upon the first two years of marriage of all British women the Home Office scrutiny which previously was intended only for the first year of marriage of British women who happened not to be born here or happened not to have a parent born here. That is a personal regret, but what is more important is that I genuinely hope that the immigration rules will now meet the stipulations of the European Convention on Human Rights.
I know that a small number of my hon. Friends believe that it is not an important document. I believe that the convention is fundamental to our liberties. It is, after all, a convention signed by all the 21 nations of the Council of Europe. I serve on the Legal Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe under the chairmanship of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve). I could not hold my head high in that Committee if my Government and country were to go against an adjudication of the European Court of Human Rights. The convention distinguishes the democracies, the 21 free countries of Western Europe, from the totalitarian people's democracies of Eastern Europe.
It does nothing of the kind. It merely establishes the principles of liberty which are espoused and shared by all the signatory countries. The Court adjudicates purely and simply on that matter. It does not create laws in this country.
The immigration rules will bring our practices more nearly into line with those of other comparable countries, both within the Council of Europe and in the wider world. I shall briefly list those countries which admit foreign husbands of their own nationals. In Europe they are Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Germany. Not all do so as of right. In Belgium, for example, there has to be a work permit. In France, certain countries' nationals need a visa. I have the same information from the Library as my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow). In the wider world the list includes Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. Broadly speaking, we have the developed Western world on our side. The safeguards are extremely strict and the rules should be commended to the House.
The hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) said that he would not wish to go against decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. He then commended the immigration rules that are under discussion, but that begs the question of the likelihood of the European Court declaring fairly approximately that the practices that are set out in the rules go against the rulings of the Court. If that happens, the hon. Gentleman will be forced to change his views on the rules. For that reason he would be better off voting with Labour Members than with some of his hon. Friends.
In a speech of some force the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) said that it was repugnant to him that Miss Hogg, born in Britain and wishing to marry a man from abroad, should be treated differently from Miss Patel, not born in this country but a British citizen. With that view I heartily concur. When he talked about a third lady who was not born here but settled here, he said, "We cannot give her the same rights as Miss Patel or Miss Hogg". He said that that was not possible partly because of something that a Labour Government are alleged to have done some years ago—not a very convincing argument—and partly, I suspect, because the need to keep immigration figures down becomes more important than the principles of justice and democracy. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman is not in the Chamber. I think that he spoilt a good speech by descending to an argument that was feeble and contradicted the important point of principle which earlier he had been seeking to establish.
Even before the draft immigration rules came before the House about six weeks ago, many of us were depressed, disappointed and opposed to the immigration rules which had been introduced in 1980 and which are still in force. We took that view for one main reason. Many Conservative Members have been talking about the Conservative Party's manifesto. I have seen copies being read assiduously by Conservative Members this evening. Some of them should have read the section on the importance of family life. That is the section that some Conservative Members appear to have forgotten. Many of us believe that the present rules are damaging because of their adverse effect on family life. They keep families apart, they penalise dependants and they prevent children from being united with their parents.
Six weeks ago we debated the draft immigration rules. The Government said that they would listen to the views of the House. They have listened to the views of only one narrow section of the House. In effect, they have said, "We shall listen to the hard-line Right wingers on our Back Benches and we shall ignore the views of the overwhelming majority in the House, many of whom have expressed disquiet about the rules." The Government have ignored their disquiet.
We have had the sad spectacle this evening of the Home Secretary having the support of very few friends. He has alienated himself from some Labour Members who might have given him guarded support. He has done so because of a shabby effort to appease the handful of Conservative Back Benchers who lack basic humanity and are not prepared to support the modest concession in the rules which the Home Secretary has been urging on the House. It is a modest concession but it has been bitterly opposed by certain Conservative Members. We did not vote against the draft rules six weeks ago because of the concession.
Despite what Home Office Ministers say, the European Commission is the main reason why the concession, as we call it, was introduced into the draft rules. I do not understand why the Home Office is being quite so coy about some of the matters that went before the European Commission, which led to some of the cases being tentatively decided, and to persuading the Government to put their concessions into the immigration rules.
I quote from a document that the Government apparently submitted to the Commission:
Women are not necessarily bound to compete for employment and are unlikely to be breadwinners. Women as breadwinners are unusual, for society still expects the man to go out to work and the woman to stay at home.
If that is the argument that the Home Office has been and still is using against allowing settled women to have their husbands join them here, we should examine that argument.
Issue 13 of "Social Trends" published yesterday or the day before, quotes from the 1981 labour force survey. It appears to be the contention of the Home Office that women are not breadwinners and by implication it means that women from the Indian subcontinent, above all, are not employed and therefore not earning income.
These statistics show that of all white women, 46 per cent. are said to be economically active, and 40 per cent. of women from the Indian subcontinent go in that category. If one adds to that 40 per cent. the proportion who are in all probability working with their husbands who are self-employed, the figure becomes similar to that for white women. The Home Office has not made a worthwhile case, even though that appears to be the only reason why it is not allowing settled women to bring in their husbands.
The delays experienced at the Home Office end by everybody who applies for citizenship will have an effect on the concessions, if the immigration rules are not rescinded this evening, and on women who apply for citizenship and wish to bring in the men of their choice within a reasonable period.
The delays at the Home Office are a byword for incompetence and inefficiency in dealing with applications for British citizenship. It takes over two years for an application to be processed. For example, an East African Asian woman, who will become a British overseas citizen under the British Nationality Act next month, will have to wait six years and eight months to get her voucher to come here. She will have to wait another five years after coming here before being eligible to apply for citizenship, and another two years before getting it. That is a long time before such a woman can avail herself of the concession.
One or two hon. Members have referred to the problem of children, but nobody has so far drawn attention to the problem of children born to parents who are refugees here. They will be in particular difficulty as they will not have British citizenship, although their parents will have no other country to go to because of their refugee status.
A letter that the Home Office sent out on 7 December this year says:
Mr. Raison explained in the debate on the White Paper on 11th November why he did not think it would be appropriate to grant children who do not become British citizens indefinite leave to remain. If they were granted it, then after their parents had taken them abroad they would be able to return here in their own right as returning residents. This would cut across the principle that a child ought to remain with his parents. This argument may have less force where the parents are refugees and therefore there is little question of their re-establishing themselves outside the United Kingdom".
When the Home Office say an argument "may have less force", it is really saying that the argument has no validity at all.
The most objectionable aspect of this shabby attempt to appease the Right wing of the Tory party is not the two-year period or the instant liability to deportation to which a husband will be subject, but primarily the shift in the onus of proof. That onus of proof will be damaging because it will hit genuine marriages and put them under scrutiny.
Even in terms of the Home Office argument, there is no need for these extra powers if the aim is solely to identify marriages that are not genuine, because the present immigration rules contain powers to deal with marriages that are in breach of the immigration rules. There has been no evidence from the Home Secretary that these new and draconian measures are necessary.
His argument was, "Well, if one year is all right, why not two years?", and he produced no other evidence. Above all, the onus of proof is the sinister aspect of these regulations. It will affect all women who wish to marry a man from abroad and have him live here.
To subject a marriage to the kind of scrutiny envisaged in the immigration rules will put that marriage under intolerable pressure. Marriages are difficult enough at the best of times—[Interruption.] Conservative Members may laugh, but there is a high divorce rate in the United Kingdom, and marriage is not the easiest of relationships. It will be particularly difficult for people who feel that they will be subject to Home Office scrutiny for two years.
By what standards of justice or humanity is the Home Office now saying, "Prove to us that your marriage is within the immigration rules"? That is a grave departure from the normal traditions operated here as well as from the normal traditions of justice.
The way in which entry certificate and immigration officers subject married couples to interrogation is obnoxious. Last month, an interview took place in Pentonville prison with a man seeking to establish that his relationship was genuine. Two of the questions asked were: "How many times do you make love?", and "Do you give her one every time you see her?" Those questions were asked by a Home Office official, although the point at issue was whether he had a genuine relationship with a woman settled in this country. If that is typical of the way in which Home Office officials ask questions, it augurs ill for the way in which these immigration rules will be applied.
If a young lady in the United Kingdom sets out to marry someone from the Indian subcontinent, whom she has hardly met, it is obvious that that marriage is not taking place on the basis of love. It is obviously not a very convenient arrangement because there are young men in the United Kingdom whom she could marry. Will the interpretation not inevitably be that that marriage is being postulated on the basis of acquiring immigration to the United Kingdom for the young man?
The hon. Gentleman keeps asking that question, and I do not see the purpose of his repeating it to me. He knows perfectly well that there are different religious and cultural traditions from the ones to which he subscribes, and it is perfectly legitimate for some people here to prefer to have their marriages organised or arranged in a way that is traditional to their religion or culture. Evidence suggests that such marriages often last longer than many white ones. I do not see why the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) wants to invest that point with such significance.
I hope most sincerely that the House will reject the immigration rules. I hope that it will do so in the knowledge, belief and confidence that that rejection, will force the Government to introduce a different set of immigration rules that will not include these onerous and unpleasant provisions. They are a blot on British justice and British tradition.
I am sorry that the Government have not heeded the warning that I and my colleagues gave them in the previous debate. We said that we would oppose any further relaxation of the immigration rules.
I am glad that the Minister of State is present, and I am sorry that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is not, but I know that he has attended for a large part of the debate. I have repeatedly made the charge that I am now making against him and the Home Office, and it has not been gainsaid. It is that the Home Office unfortunately seems to be quite blind to the force of public opinion on the subject. Listening to Opposition Members for hour after hour, one is amazed by the thought of what sort of constituents they must have. One wonders whether they would dare make the same type of speech in front of their constituents.
The Home Office is already under fire in some quarters—not always fairly—for weakness about law and order. With regard to the immigration rules, it has utterly rejected the opinions of the ordinary English voter. I still maintain that the Home Office is too ready to listen to middle-class pressure groups such as the pro-women's liberation or the pro-immigrant lobbies and the so-called courts in far away countries when it should go out into the highways and byways of England and listen to the real voice of the people.
Who are the English people who will be affected mainly by the arrival each year of some 3,000 extra men plus an unknown number of their dependants? Who are affected but the English working class who live in our great conurbations? Immigration is a wholly working-class problem. It does not touch the life, for example, of readers of The Guardian and other high-minded intellectuals who tend to live in the more agreeable parts of the country.
I know that my party was once called the stupid party, but from the time of Disraeli at least, when the working class became enfranchised, the Tory Party always cared greatly for the working class and were suspicious—we still are—of the intellectuals. I believe that we are now letting the working class down; and I am deeply ashamed about it.
I wonder how many letters of support hon. Members on either side of the House have had for the relaxation of the rules. I have received none, but I have received a great many letters from all over the United Kingdom—especially England—expressing hostility, sadness and bitterness at the action that we are about to take. I fear that it will cost my party many votes at the next general election.
I do not know how many Indian and Pakistani young men and women who live here are thrilled by the proposed changes. It must make the likelihood of more arranged marriages much greater, apart from the question of fraud. I am sure that some of these women, who have mixed a little in English society, might wish to adopt our marriage customs and choose a husband freely from one of their own community here. These are details. We have heard too much of detail tonight and not enough about the continuing problem of mass immigration.
The Government have broken a special pledge. They have broken faith with their own supporters, particularly their working class supporters. They have broken faith with the people of England as a whole, many of whom voted for them, although they were not Conservatives, because they thought that this Government at last would take a strong stand on immigration. One by one the pledges against further immigration have been withdrawn by the Government. First, there was the financial help, heard about originally in 1970, for those who wanted to return to their homeland. Secondly, there was the quota of those who were to be received here. Thirdly, there was the register of dependants who were still expected to arrive here.
In addition, the harsh, so-called anti-discrimination laws are being upheld with increasing rigour, to the disgust and dismay of the great majority of the English people living in this land. All that we get now from the Home Office are bland and fatuous platitudes. The relaxation of the rules is being undertaken at a time of high and rising unemployment. One can imagine how the news will be received by those English people who are still left in the areas where there is a high concentration of immigrants. They are bound to ask themselves who will be the next for the dole queue. Will it be the new immigrant? Or will the immigrant perhaps replace an Englishman at work? There will not be two jobs available. I find it incredible that this Government who, in other respects—certainly in defence and foreign affairs and in their dealings with our EC partners—have shown such strength in upholding British interests, should be so weak in this vital matter.
I hope that my hon. Friend will forgive me. This has been a long debate. My hon. Friend has not been present for very long.
If hon. Members will imagine for a moment that they are not in this place, not in Westminster and not in Whitehall, but in any ordinary pub, club, shop, house, church or school, who cares about some court in Europe of which few people have heard and which has nothing to do with the EC? Yet this court may decide who should or should not be allowed to come here.
People outside the House are sick and tired of hearing humbug from hon. Members about immigration being brought to a halt. It has not, unfortunately, been brought to a halt. In fact, by these measures, it is being increased. These are the views of ordinary voters, as all hon. Members know.
I am not naturally a rebellious person. My record of support for the Prime Minister and the Government is second to none. I hate, therefore, to have to vote against my own Government. As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary knows, I have a high personal regard for him, although we may, from time to time, have had our disagreements. Those things, however, are as nothing to me in my concern as to where my duty lies—my duty to my country, to my constituents and, I believe, to the best and true interests of my party.
Many hon. Members may disagree fundamentally with the remarks of the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes), but we should applaud the honest and forthright way in which he has expressed an authentic view, which is represented on the Conservative Benches and, indeed, in the country. I take pleasure in congratulating the hon. Gentleman on his honesty and in condemning, to use his own word, the humbug that we have heard from his hon. Friends in their attempts to support the Government.
The speech of the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) was more impressive for its entertainment value than for the force of his arguments, and the hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) seemed unclear about his own view. I know of no evidence to suggest that the immigration rules before us will comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. If what the hon.
Member for Ruislip-Northwood said is true, he will find it difficult to hold his head up high when he returns to his committee in Europe.
I certainly acknowledge that, but the fact remains that the rules before us are racially and sexually discriminatory and thus will not comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. If the hon. Gentleman wants rules that comply with that convention, for which he expressed strong support, despite the views of his colleagues, he should vote against the rules today.
We have seen on the Conservative Benches today a phenomenon often seen on the Opposition Benches—an attempt to reconcile two entirely incompatible views. The Government have got into the hopeless mess described earlier by my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins), because they are trying to bring together two utterly incompatible positions on this issue.
I wish to touch on some of the most objectionable features which will lead us to vote against the rules today. In introducing the rules the Home Secretary described them clearly, but he did not seek in any way to justify the changes introduced since they were published just a few weeks ago. It is extremely hard to see what additional evidence there could be or what representations could have been made to the Government to bring about these changes in such a short time. As other Opposition Members have said, it is clear that the reason for the three changes in the draft rules is simply an attempt to assuage the criticism of Conservative Back Benchers today and on previous occasions. The introduction of the changes makes an already bad situation worse. It is window-dressing for the racist sentiments that have been expressed and which Opposition Members utterly deplore. Not only have the Home Secretary and his colleagues not justified the changes but they have not tried to answer the point that the rules are both racially and sexually discriminatory.
Does the hon. Gentleman really believe that it is window-dressing to prevent persons from taking advantage dishonestly of a change in the rules by entering Britain for marriages of convenience? If that is not window-dressing, I do not know where his criticisms are directed.
Had the hon. and learned Gentleman been here earlier, he would have realised that this great sledgehammer of a proposal is being taken up by the Government to deal with about 150 cases, which was the figure given earlier by the Home Secretary.
The Government are being forced to take action, but not on the basis of the evidence that is before us, and that has been well rehearsed by Opposition Members. I applaud the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge for his honesty and the forthrightness of his approach, but I fundamentally disagree with him. He talked as though Britain was experiencing massive immigration. That is simply not the case, as Home Office Ministers have told their Back-Bench Members and the country. That is why I referred to the changes in the rules as being window-dressing, pandering to the unnecessary fears raised by racist sentiments and racists in Britain.
I agree with those Opposition Members who have said that the major change since the draft rules were introduced is in the burden of proof. One fears that that change will stop genuine marriages from taking place. It is even worse that the judgment of the entry clearance officer must be exercised on the basis of the evidence that people can give of their intentions. It is impossible to judge people's intentions in such a matter and it is objectionable that a young couple must find evidence of their intentions. That is the most objectionable change, although I do not say that the other changes are not equally bad. The extension of the probationary marriage period to two years simply continues a fairly objectionable system of surveillance that leads inevitably to intrusions into people's privacy and relationships. All hon. Members must disagree with that, no matter what the circumstances may be.
It is regrettable that the Government did not take into account the comments of many hon. Members during our previous debate on the stricter rules on foreign business men coming to Britain. They are the entrepreneurs that Britain needs now to start businesses, to expand businesses and to provide employment.
Although the rules flow from the British Nationality Act 1981 and the reduction of the jus soli principle, they are much more complicated than they need be. The rules will give rise to endless problems with which hon. Members will have to deal at their surgeries. Under the complicated provisions, applications will have to be made by parents of children born in this country who are not entitled, as they used to be, to British citizenship as of right.
I want to refer to what the Home Secretary said about the reasons for the breakdown of marriage. I do not believe that the House should be sanguine and think that we have obtained a concession from the Home Secretary today. I hope that the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) has interpreted the Home Secretary's comments correctly. The rules seem to contradict what the Home Secretary said, because the grounds for deporting a husband whose marriage has broken down are not discretionary, as the Home Secretary seemed to suggest.
Rule 158 says:
Deportation will normally be the proper course irrespective of the reasons which led to the termination of the marriage or to one of the parties ceasing to intend to live with the other, and irrespective of any period during which he has been resident in the United Kingdom as a husband or fiance.
If "irrespective" means anything, I cannot see how the discretion that the Home Secretary implied was there can exist. I shall be delighted if my interpretation is wrong. However, it creates an uncertainty and I hope that the Minister will clarify the point, because many people will be unsure of their position and about how the rules will be applied.
On previous occasions when rules have been approved by the House, instructions have been issued to immigration officers making it clear that it is not intended that people should be deported, despite what happens at the tribunal, unless they have abused the rules.
It might be helpful if I drew the attention of the hon. Gentleman to rule 156, which makes it clear that the Home Secretary has the power to exercise his discretion in any of these matters. That is what my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary was talking about.
I am grateful to the Minister for that clarification, as will be all the people outside the House to whom the rule will apply. As the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook said, we have made some progress this evening on this if nothing else.
For all the reasons that I and other hon. Members have outlined, we shall seek to defeat the rules to make the Government face the fact that they have not introduced revised immigration rules which will satisfy the European Convention on Human Rights and enable this country to hold its head high, not just in the European Community, but throughout the world.
It is wrong for the Government to exercise discriminatory powers, not just on grounds of sex but on grounds of race. It will be a black mark against this country if the rules are allowed to go through. As the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) said, I am sure that if the Government returned to the House with immigration rules that moved in the direction for which the Opposition have pressed, they would have the support of all Opposition Members and all Conservative Members, except those who are pressing the Government to move in the opposite direction. If the Home Secretary wants a substantial majority, let him return to the House with revised immigration rules which are not discriminatory on grounds of sex or race.
In 1979, I and my hon. Friends made several commitments to the British people. We made a general commitment to end immigration as it had been known in the United Kingdom. We made specific commitments to introduce an annual quota of immigrants and a register of dependants, to provide assistance to those who wished to return to their country of origin, and to end the concession basically to immigrant women to bring in men as further immigrants.
What has happened? There is no quota; there is no register, perhaps rightly. We are fearful of being misrepresented as racist and divisive, so we have not provided assistance for those immigrants who genuinely wish to go home. But we have reversed the concession made by the Labour Government to husbands and fiancés. It now appears that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is embarking on a course of action that would have made the grand old Duke of York seem positive and consistent by comparison. The one commitment that the Government have carried out they are now intent on reversing.
My right hon. Friend will argue that we are not returning to the situation that existed before 1979 and are not giving the right to settled women. How long, Oh! Lord, how long, will it be before the European Court sends shivers down the Home Office's spine and, as night follows day, further concessions are requested of the House?
Had my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) allowed me to intervene in his speech, I would have pointed out that there is not a great deal of difference between settled women and women with citizenship. They merely have to wait to acquire citizenship and they can then bring in a husband or fiancé. To all intents and purposes, we are returning to the situation that existed before 1979.
I have the greatest respect and affection for my right hon. Friend the Minister of State. We spent many long and hard but agreeable days and nights in Committee on the British Nationality Bill together. He will argue that great safeguards are being introduced. It is not basically the safeguards we are concerned about; we are concerned because a further door is being opened to allow further primary immigration.
Let us look at the safeguards, for what they are worth. Marriage should not be used as the basis for immigration. I do not believe that most of us are against arranged marriages. But it cannot be a love match when a girl marries a man from as far away as the Indian subcontinent whom she does not know. A marriage could better be arranged with a man here. A marriage arranged when the man is thousands of miles away must be primarily for the purpose of immigration.
The marriage must endure for two years. That is objectionable, and in any case it will not work. A man may arrive here for a genuine marriage; it may last for a year and a half, and a child may result. When the marriage breaks up, will the man be dragged, kicking and screaming, across the tarmac at Heathrow airport? Alternatively, if a man purely wishes to gain entry into the United Kingdom, evades the safeguards and has no intention of sustaining the marriage, and if he later disappears into the ethnic underground of Coventry, Birmingham or another of our big cities, how do we find him? Are we going to have dawn swoops by the police to make sure that nobody is overstaying, that nobody has gone through a marriage of convenience and is abusing the rules of marriage? It will not happen. It would be too damaging to race relations.
If these marriages take place when they should not, we are told that people will be deported. My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) and I have asked questions about the numbers of people who have been deported. We have been denied answers until today, and today we have been told that there has been an annual rate of 150. One wonders about the qualities of the answers coming forward now, if it has been impossible to give those answers before. One can only be suspicious that, even with these new rules and these new safeguards, people will not be found and will not be deported from the country.
We have had examples in the past of rules which have been too strict, too Draconian, and quite rightly they have not been applied. It is my sincere belief that, even if we pass these rules tonight, eventually these safeguards will not he used, after a period of time—and some, rightly so.
What other arguments do the Government advance in support of their case? We have heard—not tonight—that there has been a reduction in immigration. So what? Hurrah! We should be grateful for that. That is what we all want. So why should we open the door and allow more primary immigration to take place?
There has been a reduction. The number of dependants in 1979 was 26,600. The number of dependants coming in last year was 23,300. The number of people that came in as husbands and fiancés before we changed the rules was 5,600. If we add those to the figures of last year we get back to a figure that was greater than the figure in 1979.
We have heard the argument advanced of sex equality. The rules are not sex equal. Any of us here who has a son knows that he only has to look at somebody overseas to fancy her and he can bring her in without any trouble whatever. Our daughters are in a completely different situation. They have to go through the whole wretched rigmarole. So the rules are to no extent sex equal.
I am glad that the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) finds a point of agreement with me. We should mark it down in our diaries. It is the first time that it has happened.
The point was also made that those who have taken British citizenship have made such a massive commitment to Britain that they should all be treated the same. I think that that is a little naive. I am a bit cynical about it. I believe that people who are not British by birth and take British citizenship do it because they perceive that there is some advantage for themselves in so doing. Having given them that advantage, having allowed them to acquire British citizenship, I do not think that it necessarily follows that we should also allow them the ability to bring in other people and give them British citizenship as well. That does not follow at all.
We have also heard the arguments about families. Do we believe in family life? Can we keep married couples apart? As I said in an intervention, families can combine in two directions. They do not all have to come here at the same time.
We have heard the argument advanced about the European Court, about the possibility—even the probability—that it will rule against us. It has not done so yet.
Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
When and if the Court has so decided, we can then take the necessary measures. That could take a certain amount of time. Why do we always seem to be at the receiving end of the European Court?
I have asked my right hon. Friend for information about what happens in other countries, including other countries in Europe. I have had answers back from him. Apparently, in a majority of the dozen or so European and Commonwealth countries whose practices the Government investigated, there is no legal right for women to bring in their husbands to join them. We are in advance of everybody else. We are more liberal than everybody else. Our women who were born here, or whose parents were born here, are permitted, as of right, to bring in their fiancés and husbands, but that does not happen in many European countries, not the ones that the Government have looked at.
I shall go into more detail. My right hon. Friend wrote:
Our information is that in four countries—Australia, Belgium, Denmark and Germany—a husband 'may' join a wife … In Germany there are certain residential requirements which the wife may have to satisfy. In a further eight countries—Austria, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States of America—the admission of husbands appeals to be at discretion"—
It is not a right but a discretion. That discretion is—
subject to more or less stringent conditions. What this may mean in practice seems to vary greatly … In France a husband, as we understand it, is admitted only if special considerations render his exclusion undesirable. Five other countries—Bangladesh,
India, Luxembourg, Pakistan and Switzerland—make no general provision for husbands, but they may be admitted in certain circumstances.
I have tried to find out what happens in Pakistan, for example: Marriage is a factor that is taken into account. That is all. We always seem to be the givers. Everyone else always seems to be the taker.
The arguments of the Government, both severally and united, are not satisfactory. We know what has happened. My hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) advanced the case that some of these things are not practicable and that, when one gets into power, one has to face up to reality. I advance a slightly different case. When one discusses these things, one talks to the people, one knows what is happening and one learns what the people are concerned about and what needs to be done. Unfortunately, after three years in government, stuck away in the ivory tower of the Home Office, surrounded by quango after quango and with the Commission for Racial Equality and the Equal Opportunities Commission coming out of the woodwork, the Government are subjected to a barrage of people who represent absolutely nobody. Unfortunately, the Government have gone in that direction. That is particularly offensive to democracy.
The Opposition will not care to listen to me when I make the following points. There are two social problems, which, if the rules are passed, we shall be afflicted with. Young men will wish to come here for marriage believing that the marriage is genuine. Perhaps they have had to pay to get here. They will arrive and discover that they have been tricked. What will happen to them? What is their sad situation? They will be submitted to blackmail, fear and intimidation.
What about the young girls, not born in this country, but brought up here, aged 16 or 17, whose parents decide that they want to arrange a marriage for them? They may not wish it. How will they tell the entry clearance officer and the immigration officer that they do not wish it when they know that their families want to go ahead? If the marriage is arranged at the age of 16, is not that too young? If we pass the rules, all those young girls, some of whom might be willing, and some of whom will not be willing, will be subject to that great and disturbing pressure at a tender age. It is not fair that we should put them in this position.
Those are my words. Those are the points that I wish to make, but other better and greater people than myself—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—have discussed those matters—
If my hon. Friend, who has been making a lot of noise without great effect, will give me a second, I shall do just that.
On 4 December 1979, we debated a similar set of rules—they were better than today's rules. A statement was made that
What we are discussing is the question of men being able to use a provision in our immigration control which enables them to settle on marriage when they could qualify to come in no other way. We must stop this loophole. The Government have a clear mandate to do so.
I was terribly pleased when my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said that. That mandate still exists today. Later in the same debate my right hon. Friend said:
We cannot go further and extend the provision to all women who are citizens—this would mean leaving the door open to more primary immigration.
How right my right hon. Friend was then and how right he would be today if he said exactly the same.
In the same debate, my right hon. Friend the Minister of State said:
we have a particular aim, which is to cut back on primary male immigration."—[Official Report, 4 December 1979; Vol. 975, c. 254–367.]
My right hon. Friend said that then and I am sure that he has not changed his mind. As he has not changed his mind it will be my intention, and that of many of my hon. Friends, to vote against the rules tonight.
I agree with the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) in one respect only, and that is that he is right to say that the Government have gone back on the pledges that they made before the May 1979 general election. Between 1978 and 1979 the Conservative Opposition, led by the present Prime Minister, embarked upon a most cynical and disgusting campaign to play upon people's base fears in an attempt to whip up racial prejudice in Britain and, as a result, to buy votes.
Many Labour Members remember only too well the quite disgraceful interview which the Prime Minister as Leader of the Opposition gave on 31 January 1978 on the "World in Action" programme. She claimed that people feared that they might be rather swamped by people of a different culture. That interview was even worse, because the Prime Minister—I am glad to see the hon. Member for Basildon (Mr. Proctor) nodding in agreement—sought to compete with the National Front for votes. She went on to say that
some people do not agree with the objectives of the National Front, but they say that at least they are talking about some of the problems".
I am aware that the interview was not long before the Ilford, North by-election. I am also well aware that the remarks of the Prime Minister, then the Leader of the Opposition, provoked a major row in the Conservative Party. Opposition to her was led by the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath), the former Prime Minister.
On 14 February 1978 The Times had a headline:
Mr. Heath backs 1971 Immigration Act against the Thatcher line.
Whatever the hon. Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Bendall) may have said when he came to the House, the Prime Minister set out to whip up racist fears and to insinuate and suggest to the British public that if they elected a Conservative Government there would be a stop to all kinds of immigration. Indeed, they were egged on in that regard by their lickspittle, the Daily Mail, which, on 13 February 1978 published a front page story saying:
Immigration: Major Mail poll reveals rising support for the Tories. Maggies's got it right.
[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am glad that the most Right-wing Members of the Conservative Party accept that it was indeed the Prime Minister's intention, and that of
most Conservative candidates up and down the land, to insinuate that there would be a major cutback in immigration.
The Conservative candidate for Blackburn even insinuated at the election that all race laws should be scrapped and that wider publicity should be given to the facilities already available for voluntary repatriation. It was said that race relations laws should be scrapped because Parliament cannot control a persons's feelings. Be fore the 1979 general election the Conservative Party embarked on a racist campaign to create fear, both in the white community and in the black Asian community in Britain.
The Government have gone back on those election pledges, not because they have suddenly discovered their moral principle but because of the pressure that has been exerted by hon. Members and by the European Court of Human Rights. However, the problem is that, although there has been pressure from Labour Members and from Europe, there has been a countervailing pressure from the Right wing of the Tory Party. The result of those two different pressures is this mishmash of changes in the immigration rules. Under the guise of reform and relaxation, they will often make the situation much more oppressive for immigrants and their families than it is at present.
The hon. Gentleman really must get his facts right. The European Court has nothing to do with the matter. It has only gone before the Commission and there has been no firm decision.
I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for that minor correction. However, I do not think that Home Office Ministers would suggest for a moment that pressure from the European Commission had not lead to the change.
Many of the so-called reforms are deeply offensive. There has been a change in the onus of proof. It is a fundamental principle of British justice that a man is innocent until he is proved guilty. Normally, Conservative Members are only too pleased to stand up for the principles of British justice. Although, as all who have had to deal with adjudicators on immigration appeal tribunals know, the system of justice that immigrants have to endure is second rate, it is nevertheless important that the onus of proof should rest, as it were, on the prosecution. However, the onus will now rest on the equivalent of the defendant. A person will have to prove that he intends in good faith to marry someone. It is not for the Home Office to prove the opposite. That change is compounded by what amounts in the body of the rules to a vicious attack on the culture of the Indian and Pakistani communities and on that of the Muslim communities in general, and by a major misunderstanding about the nature of arranged marriages.
It would appear that many Conservative Members believe that arranged marriages are some form of lottery, in which people send off chain letters and by pure chance are ultimately told that they will marry someone, say, from a village in Gujarat. In case Conservative Members do not know, I must tell them that arranged marriages usually involve far more care being taken in the selection of the partner, and discussion and consideration by the individuals involved, than one finds with many marriages in Britain. Is it better for marriages to be arranged, so that both sides have an opportunity to consider the consequences of that marriage, or for marriages to go ahead in Britain that have been conceived as a result of a one-night stand in a bus shelter? I have not heard the hon. Member for Northampton, North suggesting that those marriages should not go ahead.
With respect, that is not what the rules say. The rules also propose that a woman who intends to marry a foreign husband must prove that she has met her husband, intends to live with him and that the marriage is genuine and not for immigration purposes.
I entirely accept that point, which was also made by my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, South (Mr. Dubs). The Indian and Pakistani communities are much better at preserving family life than is the English community. The divorce rate among the Asian communities is much lower than for the English community. Many Conservative Members do not understand the nature of arranged marriages. They are usually arranged between families that have deep associations that go back for generations. If they understood that, they would understand that there is often no need for the individuals to meet each other before they come to this country.
Another objection to the rules is that they involve an unacceptable degree of surveillance of the immigrant community. All Members who represent areas with Asian or West Indian populations know that they are in practice treated as second-class citizens and, quite contrary to the fantasies of the hon. Member for Northampton, North are logged and recorded by the police in every detail. To impose upon the law-abiding immigrant communities of this country the surveillance of marriage over a period of two years is unacceptable.
I have represented Blackburn since May 1979.
It is too short in my view. If I have to face the same Conservative candidate as last time, I shall be here for a long time. I am only sorry that he has not yet been reselected for the position.
Those Members who represent constituencies with Asian communities know that these communities were built up as a result of invitations from people in this country. In Blackburn, as the Blackburn Council of Churches has repeatedly pointed out, local textile employers advertised in newspapers in Pakistan and India for workers to come to Britain to work for low wages on the night shift in the mills and foundries of Blackburn. Having invited them in, we have always had a responsibility to ensure that those communities are treated in the same way as the rest of the country.
I very much regret, first, the way in which, by administrative means as well as by changes in the regulations, the Government have sought to treat the Asian communities as a race apart and have accorded them in practice far fewer rights than are given to English people. Secondly, I regret that when Home Office Ministers, who have never been happy about the racist line taken by the Prime Minister and her Right-wing Friends on the Back Benches, are given an opportunity to change the rules and to introduce some humanity into them to allow women who are settled here to marry men of their choice—a basic and fundamental right—they are so cowardly as to back off from doing so, under pressure from the Right-wing, and bring forward wholly unacceptable regulations.
I hope that all Conservative Members who object to the way in which their Right-wing colleagues are behaving will join us in the Lobby tonight. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) followed the logic of his speech to its conclusion he, too, would join us in the Lobby. I hope that they will all join us in the Lobby to defeat this wretched set of measures and ensure that a better and far more significant set is brought to the House in due course.
I have listened to most of the debate so far and one word that I have not yet heard mentioned is "reassurance". We are discussing the technicalities, the difficulties and the emotional overtones of the rules, but outside the Chamber the people of Britain are interested only in being reassured. When I say the people of Britain, I mean those who are white, black, brown, yellow or whatever colour one cares to name. They want reassurance that we are not going to change our basic character. If a school gets a sudden influx, as happened to me during the war when another school was evacuated on to us, the character of that school changes. I apologise if the lateness of the hour fouled up that statement.
I shall leave my schooldays and move forward. If we can reassure the people—I have said who I mean—that they will not see a change of immensity, we shall have a much more peaceful state of race relations.
The new rules that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is suggesting will not do that. They will be unduly harsh for fiancés who try to prove that they have a genuine marriage in mind. Those who want to feel that no more primary immigration will take place—in my view that is what the last election was all about on the immigration issue—will be given no assurance that another door has not been opened. A further door will be opened if the new rules are accepted, and that will lead to further primary immigration. It is that to which I fundamentally object.
This should not be a matter of scoring party points, an argument about whether the Liberal Party wants to bring in more primary immigrants than the Labour Party or an opportunity to allege that some Conservative Members want to cease immigration for a time. I regret bitterly the fact that we have not gone for the register and quota and sorted out the issue properly. That approach would have given the reassurance that I am seeking. If we had adopted it, we might have made progress. However, the Government chose not to do so. I hope that following the Division the Government will have to think again about the rules. That is why I shall vote against them.
When Britain signed the Helsinki Final Act with the Soviet Union and other countries, there was included in it a reference to making it "easy" for men and women from different countries to join each other in any of the participating countries. When the Soviet Union began creating obstacles to the fulfilment of that part of the Final Act, hon. Members on both sides of the House condemned it for not honouring its signed agreement. It had signed an international agreement and it was not honouring it. We preened ourselves on our rectitude because the Soviets were not fulfilling their obligation. We claimed that we had honoured what we had signed and that they had not.
We signed the European Convention on Human Rights. We were not forced to do so. We did it as free citizens and as a free country. That involves certain obligations. The European Court of Human Rights was set up under the convention, and we promised freely to honour its decisions. This debate is really about whether Britain honours its international obligations even when some people do not like the effects of so doing. If a party makes a promise in its manifesto that goes against Britain's international obligations, it has to break the obligation if it wins the election. The promise in the Conservative Party's manifesto was, wittingly or unwittingly, in contravention of the European convention as the European Court was likely to interpret it. Once that had been inserted into the manifesto, it meant that a future Conservative Government would have to take Britain out of the Convention before they could legally operate the promise about immigration.
The Government had no intention of doing that. Instead, although there was advice to the contrary, on coming into office, the promise, which may have assisted the Tory Party to achieve the size of its majority, was carried out. The Tories must have suspected that its execution could not remain valid for long. It depended on how quickly the Government were taken to the European Court, how delayed the process in that Court would be and how much the Government of Britain could delay a decision in the Court.
If those taking the Government to the Court had delayed, or if the Government could have delayed the processes in the Court beyond the next general election, the Government could have gone to the counrty in a few months' time—perhaps October—and pointed to what they had promised and how they had performed and said that they were still carrying out the pledge. Unfortunately for the Government, what they had promised was not within their power to achieve honourably because of our international obligations, freely entered into. Unfortunately for them too, the cases look like being decided before the next general election.
Quite rightly, the Government do not want to appear to be a pariah. Many countries have signed the European Convention on Human Rights. Why should Britain be the only one to withdraw? The Government could not contemplate that, and Conservative Back Benchers would not want to either. The Government waited and claimed that they had a good answer to the three claims, but they did not. They hung on and on as it became clearer and clearer that these cases would be decided before the general election. Accordingly, instead of taking action after the general election, if they were to win it, the Government have been obliged to take action before.
I accept that Tories may be unhappy, like others, about what they call additional sources of primary immigration. The Government should behave like a proper member of the international community. If they want to have credibility next time they attack countries such as the Soviet Union for not honouring their obligations about the joining of families set out in the Helsinki agreement, they must do something about the new rules that they brought in in 1979 in defiance of our convention obligations. They are moving towards that in these rules. They are not moving far enough, and, in retreat from the Right wing, they are inserting disgraceful items.
Those who bitterly attack the Conservative Government for bringing the rules in must know why the Government have done so. They have done so under threat and because they have some regard for Britain's international name, and because they do not want us to be pilloried in the International Court, and the decision to go against us. That is the whole reason, although they have not had the guts to admit it, why the Government have decided to change tack and return to the position before 1979.
In concession to their Right wing, the Government have increased the period before which a husband can stay here, ostensibly from one to two years. This is not true. The truth is that persons entering this country for marriage have three months entry to start with. If the marriage takes place, they get another 12 months, added on to the three months. Under these rules another 12 months will be added to that, making two years and three months before they can apply for permanent settlement.
We all know that the Home Office is not that fast, and when the application is made after two years, three months under the rules, the Home Office will cause an investigation to be made. It can therefore be argued that probably, at the earliest, no husband will obtain permanent settlement unless he has lived with his wife for two and a half years.
What will happen if the husband is the innocent party? Rule 126(f) means that it does not matter which part intends to live permanently with the other. If the husband says "I love you and I want to carry on living with you", and the wife replies "No", it does not matter. Whichever party says "No", the husband must go.
What happens when there are children? After two and a half years there could be one child, perhaps two, but there is no provision for such marriages. As the rules stand, they will in certain circumstances effectively make British children orphans, because if a man who has been deserted by his wife and is looking after the children is sent back, the children will have to be taken into care.
The Government may say "We are kind people, rely on our discretion", but if they are prepared to make exceptions in cases where a woman deserts and there are children, there is no such provision in the rules.
When the language of the Helsinki Final Act, which in our virtue we nailed on the Russians, is examined, we find that the participating State will examine favourably and
on the basis of humanitarian considerations
requests for exit or entry permits from persons who have decided to marry someone from another participating State. However the phrase
on the basis of humanitarian considerations
appears nowhere in our rules, although we believe it to be suitable in an international convention that we and 20 other European countries have signed.
A few moments ago the Minister of State intervened, not out of great charity but to draw back from the concession given by the Home Secretary earlier. The Minister of State advised us to look at rule 156 which is headed "Deportation following a conviction". It lists a series of factors that the Home Secretary may take into account.
Rule 158 says that such factors should be taken into account before a decision on deportation is reached. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that under these rules the Government are entitled as of right to remove fathers who are looking after their children. The only possibility of such a father not being removed after desertion by a wife after two years is if the Home Secretary exercises his discretion. It depends on the attitude of the Home Secretary, his officials and the climate of the time. That is exceedingly harsh. We should not be so lacking in humanity in such circumstances as to leave the matter purely to discretion. It is an accumulation of discretion by the Home Secretary on a huge scale.
One of the arguments on the British Nationality Act 1981 was that, to make matters clearer, ministerial discretion should be reduced. There is nothing in the rules that reduces that discretion. It is enormous.
The hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) said with courage and clarity that the rules will apply to his daughter and to all hon. Members' daughters. If any of our daughters marry, we should not think that their husbands can wander into Britain to join them. An application must be made. If any hon. Member's daughter produces a child and the marriage breaks up, no hon. Member should think that the husband has any right, whatever the colour of his skin, to remain here. The matter will be decided by discretion. Perhaps because our daughters are the daughters of Members of Parliament, everything will be fine, but it is still a matter of discretion.
The hon. Member for Grantham was right. He could not concede a principle that permitted that to happen. I hope that hon. Members will bear that in mind.
Perhaps it would be convenient if I intervened now. The hon. and learned Gentleman has got it wrong. Paragraph 158 says:
deportation will normally be the proper course irrespective of the reasons which led to the termination of the marriage or to one of the parties ceasing to intend to live with the other.
Those are the factors that apply now. They do not include the existence of a child. We can perfectly well take account of the existence of a child because that is not specified with the other factors. Beyond that, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has discretion under paragraph 156 where it shows quite clearly that compassionate circumstances are included. The hon. and learned Gentleman is barking up the wrong tree.
Perhaps I may draw the Minister of State's attention to the second sentence of paragraph 158. After giving the factors that should be taken into account, it refers explicitly to that class of person. It says:
Where, however, a man has remained without authorisation who does not qualify for leave under paragraph 126 because the condition in (e) or (f) of that paragraph is not met, deportation will normally be the proper course irrespective of the reasons which led to the termination of the marriage or to one of the parties ceasing to intend to live with the other, and irrespective of the length of any period during which he has been resident in the United Kingdom as a husband or fiancé.
That is perfectly true. Those are the words that I have just quoted. Children of the marriage are not included in those elements. They can be taken into account perfectly well when the consideration of the deportation is made. There is no doubt about that.
The Minister of State repeats that it is paragraph 156. The only reference in paragraph 156 is to domestic circumstances. I can see the word "child" or "children" nowhere. It says:
the Secretary of State will take into account every relevant factor known to him,
Everyone, especially lawyers, knows what "take into account" means. It does not mean "I shall do something". It means "I am obliged to consider". What harm is there in being obliged to consider? In future, where there are children, the fact is that there is no statutory protection. There is simply the Home Secretary's discretion.
The proposed rules increase the period before permanent settlement can be granted from a minimum of one year and three months to two years and three months. The extra year means that it is much more likely that families will develop. The Home Secretary stated in reply to a question that 150 males had been removed last year becasue of breakdown of marriage. It should not be imagined that those marriages were bogus. All that the figure means is that there were 150 cases where the husband and wife were not living together, whatever the reason, at the end of 15 months. The longer the period is increased the more chance exists that one will be dealing with children who are British even under the British Nationality Act.
This explains why the Home Secretary, for whom many hon. Members have affection, was looking so miserable. If ever a man with an uneasy conscience was to be seen, it was the Home Secretary during this debate. The right hon. Gentleman knows that what he is doing is exceedingly shabby. I hope that the House will take that into account.
In a debate of this nature, when some of my hon. Friends intend to vote against the Government, there is inevitably a certain amount of breast-beating. It seems that my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) beat his breast so much that he has turned it into pulp. I had thought that my hon. Friend was not present but I see now that he has moved places. I can only hope that his views have also moved.
It is possible, following some speeches, especially from the Conservative Benches, that the rebellion will prove to be less than expected due to a sense of embarrassment. I wish to make it clear to those who will read the debate or who may now be listening to it that the views expressed by some of my hon. Friends do not represent the majority view on the Conservative Benches.
My hon. Friend the Member for Luton, West (Mr. Carlisle) is more telepathic than I had thought. He anticipates my remarks without knowing what I will say. When my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North says that there is no difference between British citizens and people settled here, he destroys his own argument. My hon. Friend is saying, by natural implication, that there should be no distinction between them. That is precisely what I understand to be one of his objections.
Some arranged marriages may occur for the purposes of immigration. That does not mean that all arranged marriages are for those purposes. My hon. Friends who speak against arranged marriages would, no doubt, have prevented the wives of many monarchs from coming to this country over the last few centuries. My hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North would no doubt have stood up in the sixteenth century and told Anne of Cleves that she was coming here primarily for the purposes of immigration.
Next time I speak, will my hon. Friend show me the kindness and courtesy of listening to what I say? I did not speak against arranged marriages. I said that I had nothing against them. Will my hon. Friend make his own speech on the basis of what he wishes to say and not on the basis of what others did not say?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. If we have achieved anything today, it is the understanding that my hon. Friend has nothing against arranged marriages. That is a major contribution to the debate. It is important to remember that many people who arrange their marriages do not do so for the purposes of primary immigration and have a perfectly proper right to have those marriages honoured in this country.
I wish to put two questions to my right hon. Friend the Minister of State on this. I accept that some marriages may be arranged for the purposes of immigration, but will he tell us what evidence there is of this? In this context, I asked my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary yesterday
how many persons have been admitted to the United Kingdom under the present immigration rules by reason of an arranged marriage which has been later discovered by his Department to have been bogus.
I received the following written reply from my right hon. Friend the Minister of State:
I regret that the information requested is not available. The statistics do not distinguish persons admitted by reason of an arranged marriage from other persons admitted for marriage; nor is a central record kept of the outcome of inquiries, by the particular category of abuse concerned.
That does not necessarily invalidate the arguments that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State may use today. It does not mean that certain marriages are not arranged for the purposes of immigration. But it means that one must be very careful before subjecting arranged marriages to too many restrictions or too close scrutiny if to do so will lead to unfairness.
That may well be so, although I am not sure that Henry VIII would have had a happier life.
Will my right hon. Friend also clarify this? Am I right in thinking that of the three cases at present before the European Commission and which may or may not go to the European court only one involves a British citizen and the other two involve women who are settled here and who will not be covered by the proposed new rules, so that this country may still be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights? I hope that my right hon. Friend will deal with that today, as, whatever some of my hon. Friends may say, most Members of the House take our treaty obligations seriously and would not wish this country to be in breach of the convention.
Ultimately, however, the rules will be judged on whether they are fair and just by the majority of people in this country. If they are neither fair nor just, they will not command support, they will not deserve to survive, and indeed they will not survive. That may be the most salutary lesson of all.
Having heard the arguments against the rules advanced by some of my hon. Friends and some of the arguments of Opposition Members, I am drawn inevitably to the conclusion that I must support the Government because, having heard those arguments, it seems to me that the rules cannot be all bad.
The Minister of State is correct to say that there cannot be accurate statistics of marriages that are arranged; nor can there be adequate statistics of marriages that have broken down because of the pressures placed upon young couples at the most difficult time of their lives by the fear that if they do not stick together for two years one of them will be thrown out of the country. It is impossible statistically to assess the hardship and suffering that the new rule will create, and the lack of compassion in the proposal.
The hon. and learned Gentleman's argument is that if one partner is to be chucked out after two years it will put a greater strain on the marriage. I believe that it would provide the most marvellous cement during a difficult time. In any case, it should be an absolute rule that divorce is not allowed until the marriage has lasted for three years.
It is a truly marvellous idea that the cement of a marriage should be the anxiety that if the couple do not stay together one of them will be thrown out. I am not sure how many marriages of hon. Members would have survived on that basis. Indeed, many of them do not survive at all. The cementing that is caused by the absence of one partner soon evaporates into misery, especially if children are involved. It is difficult to see much humour in the misery that the new rules will create.
One matter that has not been mentioned during the debate is paragraph 17 of the statement, which deals with visitors. That paragraph is complained about in many parts of the world and I received many complaints about it when I visited India on several occasions. The paragraph states:
A passenger seeking entry as a visitor, including one coming to stay with relatives or friends, is to be admitted only if he satisfies"—[Interruption]
The right hon. and hon. Members who have seen fit to introduce this motion, but who do not listen, give the House a clear demonstration of the sincerity of the complaint.
The paragraph states:
A passenger seeking entry as a visitor, including one coming to stay with relatives or friends, is to be admitted if he satisfies the immigration officer that he is genuinely seeking entry for the period of the visit as stated by him".
The burden of proving the intention and purpose of the visit rests upon the visitor. The person who wishes to come
to this country is presumed to be coming here for an improper purpose and he must satisfy the authorities that he is not. The paragraph continues:
Leave to enter is to be refused if the immigration officer is not so satisfied.
What is happening in practice is that many genuine visitors, especially from the Indian subcontinent, are being harassed by individual immigration officers tinder the powers contained in the rules. Perfectly respectable people who wish to come to Britain on holiday or to visit relatives or both, are being made thoroughly miserable by the procedures that they must face. Many immigration officers carry out their jobs with understanding and tact, but the minority are harassing visitors. I have heard complaints from Indian business people who wished to bring trade to Britain or to import from Britain, but who say that they will not come here again because of the way in which they or their wives were treated at our ports of entry. Many complaints have been made by hon. Members, including myself, to the Home Office for some years about that treatment. The rules do nothing to change the arrangement.
Is it not a sad fact that it is very rare for a person with a white face to be stopped, yet it is a regular occurrence for people with black or brown faces to be stopped and harassed at the ports of entry?
If not regular, the occurrence is far too frequent. The practice stops peole from visiting Britain and affects our good name. The burden of proof should be on the opposite side. When a person comes here on a visit, it should be presumed that that is his only purpose. The position becomes worse because immigration officers have to cope with people who know that there is a likelihood that they will be harassed and are afraid of what will happen when they arrive at the barriers.
I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman has travelled to other Commonwealth countries, North America and elsewhere. What he is describing happens at immigration points at virtually every country as unemployment increases. Every traveller is subject to cross-examination of a highly personal and sometimes difficult and offensive kind in North America, India, Trinidad, Europe and elsewhere. We have to face that fact. Many countries are worried that people are trying to enter illegally.
I have travelled throughout much of the world including East Europe and have always been treated with great courtesy. About the only place that I have not visited is Moscow, because I cannot obtain a visa. I may receive such treatment because I am a Member of the House. We are treated better because of that, and people know that any unemployment we may suffer is self-induced.
The fact that other nations may mishandle those who wish to enter their territories is no reason or excuse for us to do so, particularly when the complaints almost always come from those people who are brown or black. I have spent 13 years in the House and I have never received—I do not know whether any of my hon. Friends have—a complaint of harassment or mistreatment from someone who did not come from India.
It is interesting to know that only one hon. Member present in the Chamber has had a complaint and that it was from a Spaniard. That can happen. But nearly all complaints are received from people with brown or black skins.
When a person is examined under stress, misunderstandings often arise. There are people who tell lies, but there are genuine misunderstandings also, and there is a real language difficulty. When people are asked a question and give an answer that is misunderstood, they are taken into custody. Sometimes someone then telephones a Member of Parliament. That is usually how we are brought into the matter.
I have found that we are treated with understanding and courtesy by the Home Secretary, and by his officials, when we approach the Home Office. The person is released while an inquiry takes place. People generally want to remain three or four weeks, and then they leave. However, if they want to stay longer at the end of the inquiry the Home Office will say that they have had long enough and must leave. I do not understand that, because if those people had wanted to depart into the woodwork or get jobs they would have done so while the inquiry was going on. That is a system without reason, sense or compassion. People feel that they are under suspicion, although they are allowed to walk around freely.
The ultimate unfortunates are the British passport holders who have to wait for up to six years to exercise their right to come here. During that period they are not allowed into the country at all. They cannot even visit to see their relatives. There is no rhyme, reason or compassion in that. I do not understand why peole who have the right to come here should have less opportunity to visit and be prevented in many cases from seeing the family who will look after them when they eventually arrive, and who, at the end of the six years, may be dead. That is what worries people waiting to come here. The visiting system needs overhauling. There is no suggestion in the rules that the position that leads to complaints and constant pressure on the Home Office will be dealt with satisfactorily.
Over the Christmas recess I shall have the privilege of again visiting India. I hope that the Minister will say that the awful procedures are to be overhauled and that at the very least, immigration officers will be told to treat people with more courtesy and respect. Too many respectable people are prevented from coming here for fear of harassment when they arrive.
At this hour hon. Members are tired. The debate has been a little too long and arguments have been repeated. I shall be brief.
The hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner), like many opposition Members from the various parties, fondly believes that anyone who flies here, particularly from the Asian subcontinent, has no malice aforethought but only perfect intentions.
The greatest abuse of our immigration system is by overstaying visitors. Once through immigration, people may disappear. A case has been dealt with in my constituency only this week where an alleged son was allowed to visit his father on compassionate grounds. His father died suddenly while the alleged son was visiting him. The son was allowed in after representations from myself and the community relations council. The local secretary now says that if the Home Office turns down his application to remain in the country he will hide him from the authorities. It is humbug for the Opposition to claim that every visitor and every intended marriage is genuine.
I made no such claim. There are exceptions. People who cheat exist in every country. But the exceptions are no reason why the rules should be made so harsh and unconscionable. In nearly 13 years of work in Leicester among a large Asian community I have not had one case of a visitor who has been allowed in at my request overstaying or disappearing. The Minister of State will confirm that in every case where checks have been made with responsible people in the Asian community no one has disappeared. We cannot build a system on exceptions when the rule is that people are coming in on visits.
I do not believe that the hon. and learned Member's experience is shared by many. Visitors do overstay.
I wish to endorse what was said particularly by my hon. Friend the Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes). We are sad to be going into the Opposition Lobby to vote against the proposed rules. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State and his staff are always extremely helpful, but this time the Government have got it wrong. Twenty per cent. of my constituents come originally from Asia or the Caribbean. Eight per cent. to 10 per cent. are of Irish origin. There are others of various other ethnic origins. I believe that I have their support.
If the proposals are carried, primary immigration will increase. I am not persuaded that the number of immigrants coming here has reduced. It has dropped from 70,000 to 50,000 this year. I say to my right hon. Friend that 70,000 was too many, and 50,000 is still too many. The size of the reduction still does not underestimate the problems that will be created if an additional number of people is allowed in. My constituents think that it is absolutely crazy, as do those who wrote to me and my hon. Friend the Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge from all over the country arguing that at a time of high unemployment and extreme difficulties, we should consider that by the change in rules a form of primary immigration, however small some people say the numbers are, should be put before the House. The saddest fact is that if the section of the new rules on male fiancés was left out, my right hon. Friend would have had the support of every Conservative Member.
The House must realise that the estimated figure of 2,500 to 3,000 could be increased considerably. There will be some backlog, as we have had two years when the rules have been changed, which could double the figure. There probably will be a large number of dependants who will be anxious to come in and join their sons, sons-in-law, and so on. That matter must be taken into account. It seems remarkable that a Conservative Government who have stood by virtually every other manifesto commitment, and passed legislation in the House with the approval of—[Laughter.] The laughter on Opposition Benches puts me in mind of an article by Mr. Bernard Levin in The Times today. He opposed those of us who do not like the change in the rules. He finished the article by saying that, if the rules were not approved, he would consider voting for the Alliance and that the Conservative party should be wary of such people. From what we have heard tonight, people who vote for Opposition Members and their proposals must understand that the gates would be opened. They have said that unashamedly.
It is sad that the Government made that commitment. In speeches hon. Members have admitted that a promise was made but has not been kept. Therefore, regrettably, I shall be in the Opposition Lobby tonight.
I am sorry to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, West (Mr. Carlisle) say that he will not vote with the Government. He concentrated his argument—I hope that I do not do him an injustice—on the proposal concerned with male fiancés. He emphasised that he was concerned solely with male fiancsé. If that is the issue in relation to the problems of immigration, it seems to me that it is de minimis. The numbers, even if they are greater than have been suggested, are very small in relation to what could be called the total immigrant community. I am not sure what is the total immigrant community. How far do we go back? How many of us can safely say that we do not descend from immigrants? I cannot, although it was a generation or two back.
I am in my tenth year in the House. I was fairly actively involved in politics for 10 years before that. I recall campaigning in the 1964 general election in London and becoming aware of the problems created by immigration and the concern in the community about it. In all those past 20 years there has been a problem. There is always concern. No Home Secretary has ever tackled the problem with the confidence that he would satisfy hon. Members in every part of the House. No Home Secretary in the next 20 years or for a longer period will be able to bring forward rules to the House that will satisfy all the divergent interests.
We are seeking a sensible, fair and just balance, and, in my view, that is what these rules achieve. It is not just a matter of a balance between the scale of the immigration at any one time in relation to the problems of the assimilation of immigrants who have recently arrived; it is a matter of finding a balance between the rights and responsibilities, particularly of the Conservative Party, to look to the family and to strengthen family ties. I am keen that we on these Benches—supported, I hope, by hon. Members on the Opposition Benches—should do all that we can to strengthen the family as the essential foundation of our society.
I am delighted to see in the Helsinki Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe a section relating to the rules on marriages between citizens of different States. I do not suggest that the rules that we are discussing tonight will apply solely or even mainly to the participating States of that conference. In general, the problems will arise with States which were not involved. However, I do not see why the sentiments, and sentences, to which our Government subscribed in the Helsinki agreement should not equally apply in the circumstances that we are now considering.
I am glad that a number of my hon. Friends who may have reservations about these rules would be forceful in their criticism of the Soviet Union and other countries in the Soviet bloc on the extent to which they deny to their citizens the rights to which they subscribed in the Helsinki agreement. Perhaps I might remind the House of the words of section (c)—
Marriage between Citizens of Different States"—
of part 1 on "Human Contacts":
The participating States will examine favourably and on the basis of humanitarian considerations requests for exit or entry permits from persons who have decided to marry a citizen from another participating State".
That paragraph refers not to people who have married but to people—
who have decided to marry a citizen from another participating State".
If we subscribe to those rules in respect of the 40 States—I think—which participated in the conference, I see no reason why we should not subscribe to similar rules in respect of citizens from other States. That is the right and balanced approach to the need to give the rights of the family a high priority in assessing how to establish the rules.
Right hon. and hon. Members from the numerous parties on the Opposition Benches all seem to share a similar view, which I find more than a little exaggerated. They seem to think that it is possible to devise a set of rules to strike a balance which would be fair and just and which would in some way admit every person and class of person that they can imagine. That is not the Government's approach, and it is not an approach that I would support.
These rules are fair, just and reasonable in relation to the numbers of people involved. I stress that aspect to my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, West, because we do our cause no good if we exaggerate so grossly the numbers in relation to the total scale of the problem. The rules give sufficient priority to the importance of allowing the family to continue to be the foundation of every section of our society. Therefore, I have no hesitation in supporting them.
I want to make two brief points. First, I want to follow the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) on visitors. There is no doubt whatever that over the past year I have received more complaints than in any similar period previously about people who want to visit Britain being refused. Without exception, they are all people from the Indian subcontinent. I have not had one complaint about an Australian, a New Zealander or a Canadian being refused admission at the airport as a visitor, but there have been increasing numbers of such people from the Indian subcontinent. To be fair to the Home Office, a person is normally allowed out on temporary release when I telephone. However, by that time two or three weeks have passed and the person has to leave.
One particular category of person who will almost inevitably be refused permission is a person who at some time in the past applied for permanent residence in Britain and been refused. If a person who has been refused permanent residence years ago—perhaps quite rightly under the immigration rules—applies several years later for a visitor's permit to see his family, he will almost automatically be refused entry.
Secondly, we have now reached the stage where the Minister should say, as many other European countries have said, that we shall not send anyone back to Iran against their will. The Minister will say that Iran is a stable regime. It may be in so far as there will not be a revolution tomorrow. The Soviet Union is a stable regime and so was Nazi Germany. However, we all know the dangers of what is happening to people in Iran at the moment. We have evidence of people being taken off the plane and shot at the other end.
I accept that there may be people who will slip through the net—perhaps the odd individual who is trying to evade national service in Iran and is taking one educational course after another. However, just as British justice rests on the belief that it is better that two guilty people should go free than that one innocent person is hanged, the Minister should now take a blanket decision, as have several other European countries, not to send people back to Iran who feel that they may be in danger were they to be sent there.
It is no good the Ministry saying that it needs proof that a person will be in danger. How can such proof be given? There is no way. For example, the son of a colonel in the Shah's army cannot prove that if he goes back to Iran something will happen to him, but there is a fairly good chance that he will be in danger if he were to go back.
Again, to be fair to the Minister, until now I have not too many complaints about the way he uses his discretion. However, I can see no reason why Britain cannot do as several other European countries have done and say that we shall not send anyone back to Iran against his will. I hope that when the Minister replies he will say something about this, because it affects many hon. Members who have Iranians in their constituencies.
I hope that the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Mitchell) will forgive me if I deal, not with the issue of Iranian students but briefly with the main issue—the position of male fiancés and husbands. I should like to take up the theme raised so well and forcefully by my hon. Friend the Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury) and to answer the three points raised by the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw).
Of course, it is true that there was a considerable debate about immigration within the Tory Party between 1974 and 1979. It was largely an undercover debate. Only two or three times were we allowed to have a public debate, because that bipartisan policy, which those of us who disagree with it would describe as a conspiracy, was working well. It was rarely possible to hold a debate in the Chamber. However, there were many debates in the Tory Party's home affairs committee and great excitement raged during them.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hove referred to the family, and there was massive pressure in favour of saying that no more dependants should be allowed into Britain. However, because the Tory Party rightly said that, above all, it recognised the importance of the cohesive force of the family and because we felt that that doctrine should be properly applied to the immigrants in our midst, we resisted the pressures of those who wanted us to say that no more immigrant dependants should be allowed in.
However, we discussed ad nauseam the position of arranged marriages. I thought—obviously wrongly—that we had come to the conclusion that, although we had no criticism of the arranged marriage in other countries, and had almost no view about the arrangements made within families in other countries, we did not see any reason why the arranged marriage should be used as a method of entering this country.
Therefore, we pointed out some of the consequences of the change that had taken place in August 1974. As has been said, the Tory Party did not oppose that change. I remember the proposals in August 1974. I had not been in the House long and I was unfamiliar with the opportunities open to Members of Parliament to take individual action. I remember being very anxious to oppose that change in August 1974, but the Tory Party was going through a period of pre-electoral caution and we did not oppose it. However, after August 1974 there was sustained concern about the way in which the arranged marriage was providing a means of entry into Britain.
Of course, as one would expect with the influence of the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), that pressure was eventually felt within the Labour Party. In 1977 the rules were changed to impose the 12-month rule. At about that time—and here I disagree with the hon. Member for Blackburn—we Tories gathered round the compromise of the speech made by my right hon. Friend, now Secretary of State for the Home Department, in Leicester in 1978 and we were clear that we would not allow the arranged marriage to become a means of male entry into Britain. It is now incontrovertible that we have gone back on all of that.
My hon. Friend says "No". There are those who have argued that it is only a partial going back. It is regrettable. I see that the Home Secretary has entered the Chamber. There has been no conspiracy and no deceit. There has been a great deal of muddle. This particular and important policy has been conducted neither with clarity nor consistency. As a result, there will be much ill-will. I fear that, though the system of controlling entry by arranged marriage, as put forward by the 1980 rules, was not perhaps entirely effective, and was perhaps a rough and ready mechanism for controlling that form of entry, it was a great deal better than the rules under consideration tonight. Not only are the rules a breach of our obligation to the electorate but, with regard to the safeguards, it is obvious that the Home Secretary has made the position much worse since we last debated the issue.
I am convinced that the two important factors within the safeguards are unenforceable. If a serious attempt were made to enforce them, the anger shown by hon. Members would be so great that any Home Secretary would have to give way.
My hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) made a good point when he said that the safeguards will be applied to Miss Hogg if she wishes to marry someone from outside the United Kingdom. My hon. Friend demonstrated how forceful and articulate he is. Let us consider what will happen in 10 years' time if the rules, with their present safeguards, are being enforced.
Miss Hogg and her male fiancé will be humiliated. How will that male fiancé discharge the burden of proof to show that he does not wish to evade immigration controls? How will he prove that he intends to live permanently with Miss Hogg? How will he prove that he has met Miss Hogg? The anger from both sides of the House will be great. This is a most defective mechanism. In the end, it will not be enforced. I dare to say in a cynical way that it was never intended to be enforced, but if it is enforced much harm will be done by it.
It is said that if a marriage is terminated within two years the husband will be deported. How will the husband be found? Is there a system of identity cards in Britain? Is there any system of regular surveillance of the population? Is there a majority in the House for identity cards? Is there a majority in the House for regular surveillance by a vastly enlarged police force? Of course not. There is no serious intention to enforce this.
I found rather worrying my right hon. Friend's production of a figure for the number of persons who have been deported. He said that there had been 150 deportations. A number of hon. Members—I dare say right hon. Members, too—have tabled questions to ascertain the number of deportations under the rules. Until today none of us has had a specific reply. My right hon. Friend says now that there have been 150 deportations. If that is so, perhaps we should have heard about it before. It seems that it is rather a shot in the dark. I suspect that there is no way of knowing how many people could be deported if the two-year rule were enforced.
The safeguards have made the position worse. They have done nothing to assuage the genuine fears of those, such as myself, who believe that we are going back on our promises to the electorate. They have raised real doubts about the authoritarian nature of any sort of surveillance that might go with the safeguards if they were enforced.
We who intend to vote with reluctance and sadness against the Government are doing so not because our position, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Fylde (Mr. Gardner) put it rather grandiloquently, is logically absurd and socially pernicious but because there has been a great deal of evasion, appeasement, muddle and trimming. We do not believe that there has been a conspiracy. This lack of consistency means that we are in a much worse position than we might have been if we had kept consistently to one course.
I thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Minister of State, Home Office, and the right hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel), the Leader of the Liberal Party, for allowing me to say a few words in replying to the debate on behalf of the official Opposition. I shall not follow the well-trodden path that has been laid out for me by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen).
We have had an interesting debate, for two main reasons. First, we have witnessed the Home Secretary's ability to make policy changes in answer to my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley). He made the concession that husbands would not necessarily be deported where the wife had died. Secondly, he said that there would not necessarily be deportation where the wife leaves the husband and the husband has the care of the children. If the right hon. Gentleman still stands by those two concessions, I ask the Minister of State to tell us whether he is prepared to extend the second one to cover all cases where children are involved when the family splits up.
Secondly, the debate has highlighted, like no other debate on immigration in this Parliament, the divisions within the Tory Party on immigration. It shows beyond any shadow of doubt that the genuflections that the Home Secretary has made to the hard Right of the Tory Party have been in vain. We have heard from two Conservative Members that they do not want a quota or a register of dependants. If they had been prepared to say it, they would have said that they want to stop black immigration into Britain altogether.
The hon. Member for Basildon (Mr. Proctor) claimed that the Government have betrayed the Tory Party's manifesto of 1979. He showed the flimsy form of his argument by saying that the safeguards that are written into the new rules are trite and meaningless. In the next breath he said that the rules involved draconian and authoritiarian factors. I do not see how on the one hand the safeguards can be trite and meaningless, and on the other be draconian and authoritarian. That shows the dubious nature of the arguments of the hon. Member for Basildon and his hon. Friends who, for their various reasons, will be voting against their Government's rules tonight.
The hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) made a rather silly point, although he is not usually silly on these matters. He made some play about the admission that my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) made about our intention to repeal the British Nationality Act 1981. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that we are discussing the new immigration rules this evening and not the Labour Party's policy as regards nationality when we form the next Government within the next 16 months. I can repeat on behalf of my right hon. Friend and the Labour Party that it is still our intention to repeal what we consider to be the sexually and racially discriminating nature of the Act.
There has been a deliberate attempt by some Tory Members to misrepresent the official Labour Party policy. I shall repeat what that policy is for those Members. We wish to see equity between sexes, and equality of treatment between people of different racial groups legally settled in the United Kingdom. Contrary to what Tory Members believe, this would not lead to large-scale primary immigration to the United Kingdom, a point reinforced by my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon).
It is on this criteria that we have made the charge of sexual and racial discrimination against the successive changes under the Government. The Labour Party voted against the new rules in 1980, and one reason among many for that was that the new rules removed the right of non-United Kingdom born female citizens and those females legally settled in the United Kingdom to bring in husbands and fiancés.
The Labour Party abstained on 11 November in the debate on the White Paper, even though the draft rules included at the start of the White Paper still contained many of the paragraphs that we found obnoxious in 1980. We were prepared not to vote against it because it included a minor concession to non-United Kingdom female British citizens. It was for that and no other reason that we did not vote against the White Paper.
The Home Secretary, stampeded by the lack of support of 50 of his Back Benchers, tightened up the concessions that he introduced in the White Paper to make them meaningless for the small group that he intended to assist, and made the position of all female British citizens, black or white, worse under the new rules than under the existing ones. We make that charge for two reasons.
I have only a few minutes left, so I shall not give way.
The first change is the change of burden of proof. This will reduce the number of successful applicants, and is a back door method of reducing the number of husbands and fiancés entering the United Kingdom. Contrary to what the Tory Right wing would believe, the new rules would not lead to any new primary immigration, but to a reduction.
The two-year rule will lead to unnecessary intrusion into people's private lives and in some cases will place an intolerable burden on marriages. For those two reasons, and the other reasons that we stated against the changes in 1980, the Labour Party will be voting against the Government.
In winding up, I hope briefly, at this late hour, that it might be helpful if I stick to the two changes that the Government have introduced since the House last debated the proposals a month ago. It is significant that the Home Secretary noticeably failed to justify either of the two changes. He explained what they were, but he could produce no argument in pursuit of them.
The whole House knows why these two changes were made—simply as an attempt, possibly fruitless as it turned out, to appease the Conservative Party's racist, Right-wing Members. It was an attempt to meet the demand that he act tough and toughen up the rules in the White Paper.
I have listened to part of every speech in this long debate, and we have been treated to a series of mean-minded and nasty contributions from the Conservative Benches. I do not wish to refer to any particular hon. Member in that vein. However, the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) denied that he had anything against arranged marriages, yet he made it quite clear in an intervention in the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins) that he thought that if people wanted to get married they should come here on the basis of love. If that is not a moral judgment on the difference between an arranged marriage and one to which we in this country are accustomed, I do not know what is. It is clear that the hon. Gentleman is unable to draw a distinction between a bogus marriage and a properly arranged one.
I have attended an arranged marriage—not in this country—and discussed the whole ethics of the system with those who practise it. I agree with the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), although I would put it more delcately, that quite a good case can be made for saying that a properly arranged marriage is more likely to prove successful than one hastily arrived at as a result of some passing attraction.
—European Commission of Human Rights as one of the courts in far away countries. He managed to leave out the last phrase "of which we know little". What an extraordinary reference to a convention to which this country, along with every other member of the Council of Europe, has long been attached! This little Conservative group which has continued this opposition to these rules attaches particular importance to the manifesto commitment—which my right hon. Friend rightly referred to as specific but foolish—that the Conservative Party would seek to exclude the rights of entry of husbands and fiancés. Why have those hon. Members suddenly fastened on to this manifesto commitment? What about the commitments to cut the dole queues, to abolish domestic rates, to reduce tax at all levels and to abolish the poverty trap? We hear nothing about those.
These rules involve two changes from the proposals put before the House a month ago. The first seeks to extend the period in which a marriage must be proved to exist from one year to two years, and the second puts the burden of proof that the marriage is genuine on the marriage partners. The latter is by far the most serious breach of our normal rules and conventions.
The Home Secretary said that 150 men were deported last year after the breakdown of marriage. What he did not tell us—perhaps the Minister of State will do so in his winding-up speech—is how many of those 150 were sent back as a result of a natural breakdown of marriage as opposed to the proven revelation of a bogus one. I assume that not all 150 were deemed to be from bogus marriages. We are, therefore, erecting this whole paraphernalia for perhaps 75 or 100 people who have abused our rules, created bogus marriages and then been sent out of the country.
When one reduces the number to that figure, it is nonsense for Conservative Members to talk as they have of wholesale immigration and of floodgates being opened. It reminds me of something someone said to me recently: "Just because you are not paranoid, it does not mean that they are not out to get you." That is the type of attitude that has been proclaimed by some Conservative Members today.
On one important matter I fundamentally disagree with something that the Home Secretary said. He said that those who have entered into marriages lawfully here have nothing to fear from the proposals. I disagree. In future, all those who bring in husbands or fiancés will be subject to intrusion and questioning, both on entry and for two years thereafter. It is morally indefensible to make people who have come here for perfectly genuine marriages suffer that intrusion simply to appease the prejudices of a handful of Back Benchers.
We must accept that, unfortunately, racism exists in Britain. It exists among the population at large. The House is representative of that population, and it exists in the House. It therefore exists among police and immigration officers. They are the ones who will be asked to carry out the enforcement. While a racist taxi driver may be a minor social irritant, a racist police officer or immigration officer is a major social hazard. We are asking them to carry out investigations and to ask people who are coming to be married in Britain to prove to their satisfaction that the marriages are genuine. That is an intolerable imposition.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Lyons) referred to people being deported after the breakdown of their marriage, regardless of their domestic circumstances. In cross-examination earlier, the Home Secretary made a few important concessions.
Nevertheless, there is a difference between what he said at the Dispatch Box and what is in the rules. More than once he asked why, if a man leaves his wife suddenly after a short time or abandons her, he should be allowed to stay here. There is a plausible argument for that, but that is not what the rules say. Paragraph 158 states that
deportation will normally be the proper course irrespective of the reasons which led to the termination of the marriage or to one of the parties ceasing to intend to live with the other".
There is nothing there about the husband abandoning the wife and therefore having used the marriage merely as a means of entry to Britain.
It is dangerous for the Home Secretary to make his own interpretation at the Dispatch Box. Immigration and police officers and adjudicators will not have the Home Secretary's words in Hansard before them; they will have the rules. And the rules, as my hon and learned Friend the Member for Bradford, West rightly said are written far more widely.
With regard to manifesto commitments, we should remember that part of the Conservative manifesto that referred to the priorities for Government. It listed five tasks, and task four was "To support family life". There is no doubt that the family life of many in the ethnic minorities has been severely disrupted by the immigration rules, the rules for settlement and the rules for visitors. Many hon. Members, especially those with experience of representing the ethnic communities, have complained about the effect of the rules on the family life of their constituents. If the Conservative Party is to remain true to its pledge to support family life, that must mean supporting the family life of the ethnic minorities who are lawfully in our midst as well.
The hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) made a point with which I agree. There is some doubt about whether the new rules will satisfy the European Convention on Human Rights. No one has quoted directly from it. Bearing in mind the rules that we are being asked to approve, article 8 states:
Everyone has a right to respect for his private and family life, his life, his home, and his correspondence. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of his right except such as in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health and morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
The rules suggest a considerable interference with the normal domestic life of certain individuals once they are married in this country. By shifting the burden of proof to put the onus on the applicant to satisfy officers that he qualifies, rather than expecting the officer, as has happened up to now, to show reason to believe that the parties to a marriage have not met, do not intend to live together or that the main purpose of the marriage is immigration, the Home Secretary has increased the abuse of the article of the convention.
I return to the charge made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hillhead, the Leader of the SDP, at the outset. No one disputes that the Home Secretary is a nice chap. The fact is that he gives in and he concedes. The right hon. Gentleman was not present to hear many of the speeches made from the Conservative Back Benches. He cannot be proud. The charge made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hillhead is correct. The Home Secretary should have stood up against the pressure. All hon. Members were moved by his declaration of loyalty to the Prime Minister. Our charge is that he continues to support the Tory Party through thick and thin, regardless of what individual hon. Members say and do.
The right hon. Gentleman would do well to heed what Mr. Levin, a supporter of the Government at the last election, wrote in The Times yesterday. He said:
I do not at all care for the idea of being ruled by people who … wish to deny married or engaged couples the opportunity to live together in my country, and the more the Tory Party seems to reflect the views of such people, the less enthusiasm I shall have for supporting it.
I hope that if the Home Secretary will not listen to hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House, he will listen to those who supported his party at the last election.
No one can grumble that this has been an abnormally long debate, given the importance of the issue and the depth of feeling that exists. I congratulate the hon. Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall) on making what I believe is his debut on the Opposition Front Bench. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has reminded the House of the difficulty experienced over the years in deciding how to treat husbands from overseas. The right hon. Members for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins) and for Leeds, South (Mr. Rees), and we ourselves in 1980, have tried to come up with the right answer to the problem. The problem has persisted. It is clear from today's debate that it still persists.
It is not surprising that the problem should persist or that it should be so difficult. There are, after all, a whole mass of different factors to be examined. My hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg), in his rollicking speech, said that there were two factors. In fact, there are more. There is the need to restrict and to control immigration, particularly primary male immigration. Conversely, there is the desire to provide a humane context for family life. There is the need to check abuse particularly when marriage is used simply as a tool for achieving immigration.
There are our international obligations. There is our desire to create a fair society for those who are our citizens and to aim towards the fulfilment of our manifesto commitment that the rights of British citizens are equal before the law whatever their race, colour or creed. That is a commitment to which my hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) referred in what I am told was an admirable speech.
Everyone in the House knows that these factors may conflict with one another when we come to take our decisions, and out of them we must somehow or other draw together the things that we believe to be right. Those things must be right for our nation as a whole and for our self-respect. What, then, have the Government decided? What are we putting before Parliament today?
As the House by now knows, there are two areas of special importance in the new rules. There are the rules governing the admission of husbands and male fiancés and those governing the position of children who under the British Nationality Act will not automatically acquire citizenship by birth. That is set out in part V of the rules.
I wish to say a little about the rules affecting non-citizens born here, as this is a significant part of what we are doing. The British Nationality Act provides that children born here will acquire our citizenship at birth if one or other of their parents is a British citizen or is settled here. If either parent subsequently acquires the necessary status, the child will then be entitled to acquire our citizenship.
That provision is more generous than the traditional European jus sanguinis. Nevertheless, it marks an important change. It says that a child, neither of whose parents is going to be a citizen or settled here—in other words, a part of our life—will not have the automatic entitlement to live here and hold our citizenship for the whole of its life, as was the case under the old rules. When the child leaves this country with its parents and returns to their country, it will normally belong there and will not be able to transmit our citizenship to his or her children wherever they are born. Therefore, we shall not be faced, as we are at present, with a third generation of people entitled to claim our citizenship wherever they grow up. That, I submit, is of very great importance.
Quite reasonably, we are saying that our citizenship is primarily for those who belong here and that there is no reason why it should be passed on to those whose connection with this country is slight or even fortuitous. That is an important part of our new nationality scheme now being translated into the rules. At the same time, the change will make it possible to deport children with their parents if the parents have to be deported for overstaying or for other reasons. Again, that is a reasonable and important new measure of immigration control.
In general, of course, our rules in relation to such children are rooted in the notion of keeping the children in line with their parents. No one can grumble about that. I do not think that anyone can say that the rules have been drawn up in an inhumane way, but they head off the possibility that the existence of a child born here would guarantee the right of its parents to remain, whatever their status. Such a situation would make nonsense of effective immigration control in relation to those who overstay or are here illegally.
Therefore, I say again to my hon. Friends that our new rules embody a very important feature of the British Nationality Act. Those of my hon. Friends who care deeply about immigration control should remember what the Act achieves in that respect.
The major issue today is the position of husbands and male fiancés. Why do we believe that it is right to allow husbands or fiancés to be brought into this country by all British citizen women and not just by those born here? That question is the crux of the debate and the answer is the same as it has been all along.
As my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Fylde (Mr. Gardner) said in his excellent speech, the British Nationality Act created for the first time a status of British citizenship for those who belong most clearly to this country. That citizenship is tightly, but fairly, drawn. It is distinct, as we all know, from the British dependent territories citizenship and the British overseas citizenship, neither of which give the right to live here. In general, it is for those who are committed to this country, and it is a symbol of our unity in this country. That is why we believe so strongly that the women who hold it should all be on the same footing when it comes to deciding whether they wish to bring a husband to Britain—whether they were born here or not. That is the crucial point in the debate. We have created a British citizenship for those people and the women who hold it must all be in the same position.
There are those who believe that the woman who wishes to marry should invariably live where the man lives. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) for his genuinely kind remarks about me. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] No, I mean that. I may not win over my hon. Friend tonight. He said that the woman should live invariably where the man lives. I do not believe that I misquote him.
What I believe I said—[Interruption.] What I know I said is that it is the custom on the Indian subcontinent for the woman to live in the husband's home town. My argument, arising out of that, is that, if we are saying that marriage must not be entered into primarily for the purposes of immigration, and as we are not against arranged marriages, by and large, in the House, if women in this country wish to involve themselves in an arranged marriage, surely they could involve themselves in this country. If they seek an arranged marriage with someone outside this country and wish to bring them into this country, by definition that must be for the purposes of immigration. That is the question that I wish to have answered.
I do not deny the fact that it may have been the custom on the Indian subcontinent, as in other parts of the world, for the woman to live with the man. However, customs change and not all people wish to conform to the customs of their day. Would my hon. Friend be happy, if his daughter were to decide to marry a foreigner, that there would be no choice as to where the couple would live? Perhaps he would be happy, as would other hon. Members.
We are talking about people with different backgrounds and characters. The question is whether we wish the daughters of British citizens to have such a choice. Although my hon. Friend disagrees, I believe that it is right that those who hold our citizenship should have the choice.
Traditional customs are important, but the world changes. Therefore, if a woman is our citizen, she should have the opportunity to marry someone from another country but to continue to live here. However, we also believe that the opportunity should be confined to those who hold our citizenship and it should not be extended to those who are simply settled here but who are citizens elsewhere. I believe that is justified. There is a distinction between the commitment entailed in citizenship and the lesser commitment entailed in settlement by someone who still retains his or her citizenship of another country.
There is another important proviso which was developed in 1980 and which we are now proposing to strengthen. That is the proviso that the marriage should not simply be a device for securing the immigration of the man involved. That is crucial.
We have to face the facts that the pressure for migration to this country is primarily from the Indian subcontinent, that the arranged marriage system can be the means by which migration may be brought about. That does not condemn the arranged marriage or try to outlaw it.
The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) was wrong in his assessment of what we are doing. Of course people are entitled to make up their minds about the rights and wrongs of different marriage systems, but it remains a fact that it is a system that can be abused for immigration purposes. We are determined to do all we can to check that abuse.
There is nothing new about this. May I remind the hon. Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill) of what she said about the question that has been raised by a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House. On 10 May 1977 she said:
First, I must make it clear that evidence within the Home Office left no doubt that there was substantial abuse by men from a wide variety of nationalities, and that the previous rules were inadequate to deal with it. In the nature of things no precise indication can be given of the scale of the abuse because, as the rules stood, it was only where the circumstances in which a marriage was contracted gave rise to suspicion that the possibility that it was a sham was brought to attention. But we believe that there have in fact been several hundred cases a year of that kind, in which men were seeking settlement on the basis of marriages which seemed dubious, to say the least of it."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 10 May 1979; Vol. 383, c. 223.]
In 1977, the hon. Member for Halifax defined the problem clearly.
If that was the hon. Lady's estimate of the possible consequences, why is it that after she and the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins) changed the rules it is still possible to find only 150 of these so-called bogus marriages?
The figure of 150 is a rough and ready estimate of the scale of the abuse in one year. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary did not claim that it was a precise statistic. It is not possible to give precise statistics. It is important to stress that it is not just a matter of the number of such marriages that are uncovered that should interest us, but the fact that the impact of the rules is bound to have a deterrent effect. That is always part of the object of creating such rules.
Why is the right hon. Gentleman strengthening the 1977 rules? What evidence has he that those rules were not adequate? Why does he have to increase the time to two years in order to implement them? What signs are there that it is necessary to do that?
The great majority of people who go to look closely at these matters in the Indian subcontinent—Select Committees and others—return having realised that there is scope for abuse. I am not unique. I have been there and seen what happens. I have listened to the interviews that take place in the entry clearance posts in the subcontinent. I know that the abuse is there. I know that there are people who are seeking to use the marriage route as the means by which they achieve immigration to this country.
I believe that everyone who has studied the problem on the ground returns feeling that there is still a problem to be faced, despite what the hon. Member for Halifax did in 1977.
The right hon. Gentleman says that he knows that there is abuse. He says that he has listened to interviews at the entry clearance stations. He presents data presented by the hon. Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill). Will he please tell us what is happening now?
It is not only the fact that I have visited the Indian subcontinent that leads me to know that there is abuse; every day I answer 30 or 40 letters from hon. Members about cases. Time and time again exactly the kind of problem that we are talking about comes up.
I would never say that the great majority of the marriages contracted are abusive. But I know, as no one else apart from those who have held this position knows, that the abuse of the marriage system occurs time and time again. We are entitled to tackle it.
In 1979 when the Conservatives came to office the principal safeguards were that the marriage had to take place within three months of entry and that the right to settle was deferred for a year to make sure that the marriage was enduring. In 1980 we added the requirements that the proponents should have met, that the primary purpose of the marriage was not immigration and that the parties intended to live together. We are now strengthening the safeguards by extending the probationary period to two years and by placing the burden of proof on those who apply to demonstrate their intentions and to show that they have met their intended wives.
We are also making it clear that, if a marriage breaks down within the two-year period, the man would normally be liable to deportation. Given that the sole basis of his stay is the fact of his marriage, it is not unreasonable that if the marriage should no longer exist he should normally go.
I come back to the question which was raised originally by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) and subsequently by the hon. and learned Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Lyons) and the right hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel) about the types of termination of marriage and whether the man would always be deported if a marriage had broken down in the first two years. My right hon. Friend and I have both already suggested that under paragrah 158 of the rules, where the marriage ended, the man would be liable to deportation, but, where there are other relevant circumstances that have to be taken into account under paragraph 156, the situation would not be covered by the new restrictions in the paragraphs and those circumstances would then be considered. The most obvious set of circumstances would be the existence of children. On top of that, in the last analysis, even where the rules say that deportation will normally be the proper course, the Home Secretary could still exercise his discretion outside the rules. My right hon. Friend has made his view about these cases clear.
When hon. Members have time to read more carefully and think about the provisions they will understand that what we are proposing is not as it has been interpreted, perhaps understandbly.
The safeguards have been attacked from two flanks: they are held to be too hard, and they are held to be ineffective. I refute flatly the allegation by the hon. Member for Thornaby (Mr. Wrigglesworth) that the safeguards are racist.
Let us consider the argument that the rules are unenforceable. In some respects we have plenty of experience in enforcing them, notably the probationary period. But the shift in the burden of proof is new. The effect of putting the burden of proof on the applicant will be that the man must show that the disqualifications do not apply to him, but that does not mean that we are departing from the normal civil standard of proof which is the balance of probabilities. The man will not have to prove his case beyond all reasonable doubt, but it will be for him to show that his application is sound and not for the officer to show why it is not.
The question has been raised of how the interviewing officers do their job, whether they be entry clearance officers overseas or immigration officers here. Of course, they are normally skilled and experienced in the task of assessing applicants and unravelling the facts. Anyone who has observed them at work will know that and will have seen how a full interview can get at the true picture and how intentions can come out during the interview.
However, the House should remember this. If in certain cases it is believed that the wrong answer has been reached, there are full rights of appeal against refusal of entry clearance. Those appeals are often successful. If necessary there can be appeals against deportation here. On top of that, as the House knows full well, there can be recourse to Ministers, who are frequently asked to look at such matters.
It is argued that the requirement that there should be a two-year probationary period before settlement is achieved by a husband is potentially especially tough. However, in essence it is not new. We have considerable experience of its operation after one year of marriage. It seems to be a workable safeguard that has not produced many especial problems in practice. The addition of a second year will strengthen that safeguard. Already in some dubious cases, we sometimes defer settlement for a further year after the first one.
It is important to remember that the tests against abuse of the marriage system are of value not just for the cases that they unearth but for the cases of bogus marriages that they deter. I think that Opposition Members will accept that, if we are to admit men for marriage, it is vital that those marriages should not simply be a way of achieving migration.
Perhaps it would help the House if I gave a little information from sub-continent posts about refusals of entry clearance to husbands and fiancés under the House of Commons rules 394 in the first 11 months of this year. In total, 511 husbands and fiancés were refused entry under the new rules. Of them 348 were on grounds that included failure to satisfy at least one of the marriage of convenience tests. The remaining 163 failed only because the wife failed the birth and citizenship test. The 348 marriage of convenience cases included 133 where the ground of refusal was that the couple had not met.
Therefore, it is evident that our safeguards have their effect. Now the onus will go on to the applicant. He is seeking an important right—the right to come and live here solely on the basis of marriage. Is it wrong that the test should be searching?
My hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North suggested that our new rules are more generous than the rules of other countries for the admission of husbands. He quoted from a letter that I wrote to him. Practice varies greatly from one country to another. There is no standard provision. Moreover, because each country's immigration law is different and the problems that arise in each country are different, it is difficult to draw meaningful comparisons. However, we have obtained some information from 17 countries, including European, Commonwealth and other countries. It is not possible for me to say with certainty which countries allow a woman to bring in a husband as a matter of entitlement and which as a matter of discretion, nor am I sure how useful a distinction that is in this context, as the right may be hedged about in such a way as to restrict it considerably, whereas a discretion can be exercised generously.
However, so far as we can see, of the 17 countries a total of 12 allow husbands to enter to join women residents. In some countries there are certain requirements to be satisfied that are more or less stringent. In others, entry is invariably granted, although it is at discretion. Five countries have no general provision for admitting husbands or fiancés but one—India—allows any Commonwealth citizen to enter without an entry clearance. That would include a Commonwealth citizen or fiancé. All in all, our information does not suggest, contrary to what my hon. Friend said, that the United Kingdom is more liberal in this respect than are other countries.
I shall try to sum up the changes in the rules in this way. They build on the British Nationality Act, which has given us a far better basis than we had for firm control of immigration. They rightly rely on the new status of British citizen to define women who have the closest ties with this country. At the same time, they offer substantial safeguards against the abuse of those rules. In the context of the considerable changes that we made throughout the rules in 1980, the benefits which will flow from the 1981 Act, and the continuing objective of reduction in the settlement figures, I believe that the changes we are making now are realistic and fair to British citizen women and fully consistent with the Government's firm commitment to effective immigration control.
Therefore, our proposals tonight make sense. Do my hon. Friends really want to add themselves to the alliance and the Labour Party in chucking away this chance of resolving this problem? If so, for the sake of what do they want to do it? What do they think would happen if they defeated the rules tonight? What is it that this most improbable of all arranged marriages between my hon. Friends and the Opposition will give birth to? I can only assume that it will be another Abortion Bill.
The job that I have to do under the leadership of my right hon. Friend spans both immigration and race relations. Those two matters are intertwined, as we have always made clear. We need to control immigration very tightly, as we do. However, we also have to see that those who lawfully hold our citizenship—whatever their colour—have a sense that the country that has admitted them is a just country. We have always been a just country, and we must never let the admittedly difficult problem of immigration throw us off that.
I pointed out at the beginning of my speech the conflicting elements that we have to resolve in this whole area. I suppose that no one knows better than I do how hard it sometimes is to resolve them. I make no vainglorious claims for what we have done, but I believe that, in one way and another, we have achieved the right balance between harsh rigour and easy-goingness. That applies to individual cases and to overall policy, and I submit that it is demonstrated in our proposals today.
To those of my hon. Friends who are critical of what we are doing I say emphatically that we are not going back to the 1979 rules of the then Labour Government. I remind them, too, that immigration is falling and will continue to fall. To the House as a whole I stress that the creation of the new British citizenship gives us an opportunity to base our immigration policy more soundly and gives all our citizens an opportunity to share in the privileges and benefits which it confers.
I believe that our proposals are on the right lines, and I urge the House to reject the motion.
|Division No. 34]||[2.30 am|
|Abse, Leo||Davis, Terry (B'ham, Stechf'd)|
|Adams, Allen||Deakins, Eric|
|Allaun, Frank||Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)|
|Alton, David||Dewar, Donald|
|Anderson, Donald||Dixon, Donald|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Dobson, Frank|
|Ashley, Rt Hon Jack||Dormand, Jack|
|Ashton, Joe||Douglas, Dick|
|Atkinson, N. (H'gey,)||Dover, Denshore|
|Bagier, Gordon A.T.||Dubs, Alfred|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Duffy, A. E. P.|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (H'wd)||Dunlop, John|
|Bendall, Vivian||Dunnett, Jack|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.|
|Bennett, Andrew (St'kp't N)||Eastham, Ken|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're)|
|Body, Richard||Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||English, Michael|
|Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Ennals, Rt Hon David|
|Bradley, Tom||Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Evans, John (Newton)|
|Brinton, Tim||Ewing, Harry|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, C.||Farr, John|
|Brotherton, Michael||Faulds, Andrew|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Field, Frank|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'n)||Fitch, Alan|
|Brown, R. C. (N'castle W)||Fitt, Gerard|
|Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'y S)||Flannery, Martin|
|Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)||Foot, Rt Hon Michael|
|Buchan, Norman||Ford, Ben|
|Budgen, Nick||Forrester, John|
|Callaghan, Rt Hon J.||Foster, Derek|
|Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P)||Foulkes, George|
|Campbell, Ian||Fox, Marcus|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd)|
|Canavan, Dennis||Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald|
|Cant, R. B.||Freud, Clement|
|Carlisle, John (Luton West)||Gardiner, George (Reigate)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Garrett, John (Norwich S)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||George, Bruce|
|Cartwright, John||Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||Ginsburg, David|
|Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)||Golding, John|
|Clarke, Thomas (C'b'dge, A'rie)||Graham, Ted|
|Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S)||Grant, John (Islington C)|
|Cohen, Stanley||Grimond, Rt Hon J.|
|Coleman, Donald||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.||Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife)|
|Conlan, Bernard||Harman, Harriet (Peckham)|
|Cook, Robin F.||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter|
|Cowans, Harry||Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy|
|Cox, T. (W'dsw'th, Toot'g)||Hawksley, Warren|
|Craigen, J. M. (G'gow, M'hill)||Haynes, Frank|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Healey, Rt Hon Denis|
|Crowther, Stan||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Cryer, Bob||Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire)|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll)|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington S)||Home Robertson, John|
|Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n)||Homewood, William|
|Dalyell, Tam||Hooley, Frank|
|Davidson, Arthur||Horam, John|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)||Howell, Rt Hon D.|
|Howells, Geraint||Penhaligon, David|
|Hoyle, Douglas||Pitt, William Henry|
|Huckfield, Les||Powell, Rt Hon J.E. (S Down)|
|Hudson Davies, Gwilym E.||Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)|
|Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Prescott, John|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Price, C. (Lewisham W)|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Proctor, K. Harvey|
|Janner, Hon Greville||Race, Reg|
|Jay, Rt Hon Douglas||Radice, Giles|
|Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd)||Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)|
|Jessel, Toby||Richardson, Jo|
|John, Brynmor||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Johnson, James (Hull West)||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)|
|Johnson, Walter (Derby S)||Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)|
|Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Robertson, George|
|Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda)||Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)|
|Jones, Barry (East Flint)||Rodgers, Rt Hon William|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Rooker, J. W.|
|Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald||Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)|
|Kerr, Russell||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Kilroy-Silk, Robert||Ross, Wm. (Londonderry)|
|Kinnock, Neil||Rowlands, Ted|
|Knight, Mrs Jill||Ryman, John|
|Lambie, David||Sandelson, Neville|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Sever, John|
|Leighton, Ronald||Sheerman, Barry|
|Lestor, Miss Joan||Sheldon, Rt Hon R.|
|Lewis, Arthur (N'ham NW)||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Short, Mrs Renée|
|Litherland, Robert||Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)|
|Lofthouse, Geoffrey||Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Lyon, Alexander (York)||Silverman, Julius|
|Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)|
|McCartney, Hugh||Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark)|
|McDonald, Dr Oonagh||Smyth, Rev. W. M. (Belfast S)|
|McElhone, Mrs Helen||Snape, Peter|
|McGuire, Michael (Ince)||Soley, Clive|
|McKay, Allen (Penistone)||Spearing, Nigel|
|McKelvey, William||Spellar, John Francis (B'ham)|
|MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Maclennan, Robert||Stallard, A. W.|
|McNally, Thomas||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|McNamara, Kevin||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|McTaggart, Robert||Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)|
|McWilliam, John||Stoddart, David|
|Magee, Bryan||Stokes, John|
|Marks, Kenneth||Stott, Roger|
|Marlow, Antony||Strang, Gavin|
|Marshall, D (G'gow S'ton)||Straw, Jack|
|Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)||Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley|
|Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)|
|Martin, M (G'gow S'burn)||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Maxton, John||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Maynard, Miss Joan||Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)|
|Meacher, Michael||Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)|
|Mikardo, Ian||Thorne, Stan (Preston South)|
|Millan, Rt Hon Bruce||Tilley, John|
|Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)||Tinn, James|
|Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)||Torney, Tom|
|Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen)||Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.|
|Molyneaux, James||Wainwright, E. (Dearne V)|
|Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)||Wainwright, R. (Colne V)|
|Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw)||Walker, Rt Hon H. (D'caster)|
|Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)||Warden, Gareth|
|Morton, George||Watkins, David|
|Moyle, Rt Hon Roland||Weetch, Ken|
|Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick||Wellbeloved, James|
|Newens, Stanley||Welsh, Michael|
|Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon||White, Frank R.|
|Ogden, Eric||White, J. (G'gow Pollok)|
|O'Halloran, Michael||Whitehead, Phillip|
|O'Neill, Martin||Whitlock, William|
|Orme, Rt Hon Stanley||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Owen, Rt Hon Dr David||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Palmer, Arthur||Williams, Rt Hon A. (S'sea W)|
|Park, George||Williams, D. (Montgomery)|
|Parker, John||Williams, Rt Hon Mrs (Crosby)|
|Parry, Robert||Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)|
|Pendry, Tom||Wilson, William (C'try SE)|
|Winnick, David||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Woodall, Alec||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Woolmer, Kenneth||Mr. A. J. Beith and|
|Wright, Sheila||Mr. John Roper.|
|Adley, Robert||Fowler, Rt Hon Norman|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Fraser, Peter (South Angus)|
|Ancram, Michael||Fry, Peter|
|Arnold, Tom||Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Garel-Jones, Tristan|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (S'thorne)||Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian|
|Atkins, Robert (Preston N)||Glyn, Dr Alan|
|Atkinson, David (B'm'th,E)||Goodhew, Sir Victor|
|Baker, Kenneth (St.M'bone)||Goodlad, Alastair|
|Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)||Gorst, John|
|Banks, Robert||Gow, Ian|
|Benyon, Thomas (A'don)||Gower, Sir Raymond|
|Benyon, W. (Buckingham)||Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)|
|Best, Keith||Gray, Rt Hon Hamish|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Greenway, Harry|
|Blackburn, John||Grieve, Percy|
|Blaker, Peter||Griffiths, E. (B'y St. Edm'ds)|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)|
|Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W)||Grist, Ian|
|Bowden, Andrew||Grylls, Michael|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes||Gummer, John Selwyn|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Hamilton, Hon A.|
|Bright, Graham||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)|
|Brittan, Rt. Hon. Leon||Hampson, Dr Keith|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Hannam, John|
|Browne, John (Winchester)||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Bruce-Gardyne, John||Hastings, Stephen|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael|
|Buchanan-Smith, Rt. Hon. A.||Hayhoe, Barney|
|Buck, Antony||Heath, Rt Hon Edward|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Heddle, John|
|Butcher, John||Henderson, Barry|
|Butler, Hon Adam||Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Hicks, Robert|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n)||Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.|
|Chalker, Mrs. Lynda||Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)|
|Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul||Holland, Philip (Carlton)|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hooson, Tom|
|Churchill, W. S.||Hordern, Peter|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey|
|Clegg, Sir Walter||Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd)|
|Colvin, Michael||Hunt, David (Wirral)|
|Cope, John||Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)|
|Cormack, Patrick||Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas|
|Corrie, John||Irvine, Rt Hon Bryant Godman|
|Costain, Sir Albert||Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick|
|Critchley, Julian||Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey|
|Crouch, David||Jopling, Rt Hon Michael|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.||Kaberry, Sir Donald|
|du Cann, Rt Hon Edward||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine|
|Dunn, Robert (Dartford)||Kershaw, Sir Anthony|
|Durant, Tony||Kimball, Sir Marcus|
|Dykes, Hugh||King, Rt Hon Tom|
|Eden, Rt Hon Sir John||Kitson, Sir Timothy|
|Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)||Knox, David|
|Eggar, Tim||Lamont, Norman|
|Elliott, Sir William||Lang, Ian|
|Emery, Sir Peter||Latham, Michael|
|Eyre, Reginald||Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||Lee, John|
|Fairgrieve, Sir Russell||Le Marchant, Spencer|
|Faith, Mrs Sheila||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Fell, Sir Anthony||Lester, Jim (Beeston)|
|Fenner, Mrs Peggy||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Finsberg, Geoffrey||Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo)|
|Fisher, Sir Nigel||Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)|
|Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N)||Loveridge, John|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles||Luce, Richard|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Lyell, Nicholas|
|Forman, Nigel||McCrindle, Robert|
|Macfarlane, Neil||Rossi, Hugh|
|MacGregor, John||Royle, Sir Anthony|
|MacKay, John (Argyll)||Rumbold, Mrs A. C. R.|
|Macmillan, Rt Hon M.||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)||St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.|
|McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)||Scott, Nicholas|
|McQuarrie, Albert||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Madel, David||Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')|
|Major, John||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|Marland, Paul||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Silvester, Fred|
|Marten, Rt Hon Neil||Sims, Roger|
|Mates, Michael||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus||Smith, Dudley|
|Mawby, Ray||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Speed, Keith|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Spence, John|
|Mayhew, Patrick||Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)|
|Mellor, David||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Sproat, Iain|
|Miller, Hal (B'grove)||Squire, Robin|
|Mills, Iain (Meriden)||Stanley, John|
|Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)||Steen, Anthony|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Stevens, Martin|
|Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Stewart, A. (E Renfrewshire)|
|Monro, Sir Hector||Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)|
|Moore, John||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Morris, M. (N'hampton S)||Tapsell, Peter|
|Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)||Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman|
|Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Myles, David||Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.|
|Neale, Gerrard||Thomas, Rt Hon Peter|
|Needham, Richard||Thompson, Donald|
|Nelson, Anthony||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Neubert, Michael||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Newton, Tony||Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)|
|Nott, Rt Hon John||Trippier, David|
|Onslow, Cranley||Trotter, Neville|
|Osborn, John||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Page, Richard (SW Herts)||Vaughan, Dr Gerard|
|Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil||Viggers, Peter|
|Parris, Matthew||Waddington, David|
|Patten, Christopher (Bath)||Wakeham, John|
|Patten, John (Oxford)||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Pattie, Geoffrey||Walker, Rt Hon P.(W'cester)|
|Pawsey, James||Walker, B. (Perth)|
|Percival, Sir Ian||Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.|
|Peyton, Rt Hon John||Wall, Sir Patrick|
|Pink, R. Bonner||Waller, Gary|
|Porter, Barry||Walters, Dennis|
|Prentice, Rt Hon Reg||Warren, Kenneth|
|Price, Sir David (Eastleigh)||Watson, John|
|Prior, Rt Hon James||Wells, Bowen|
|Pym, Rt Hon Francis||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Raison, Rt Hon Timothy||Wheeler, John|
|Rathbone, Tim||Whitelaw, Rt Hon William|
|Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)||Whitney, Raymond|
|Renton, Tim||Wickenden, Keith|
|Rhodes James, Robert||Wilkinson, John|
|Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Ridley, Hon Nicholas||Younger, Rt Hon George|
|Ridsdale, Sir Julian|
|Rifkind, Malcolm||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)||Mr. Anthony Berry and|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Mr. Carol Mather.|
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Government having been deservedly defeated, will the Home Secretary now tell us what he proposes to do under the provisions of clause 3(2) of the Act, which provides for these circumstances, to bring forward resolutions, which will not be difficult, that command the support of the House.
If a statement of rules is disapproved by either House, section 3(2) of the Immigration Act requires the Secretary of State to make such changes or further changes in the rules as appear to him to be required in the circumstances.
The House having disapproved tonight the rules laid on 6 December, I shall make further changes in accordance with the subsection as soon as possible. In so doing, I shall endeavour to meet the wishes of the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Which?"]
The existing rules will continue in force until the end of the year. The rules contained in the statement laid on 6 December would then take effect, unless by then further changes have been made.