I beg to move,
That the Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules (H.C., 982–83, No. 169), a copy of which was laid before this House on 9th February, be disapproved.
The Opposition will vote against the rules for many reasons, but for four principal reasons and for four reasons of principle.
First, the rules discriminate against women. The discrimination is formal, intentional and undeniable. If a man who is settled in Britain but is not a citizen marries a foreign national, his wife can join him in this country and live with him here. If a woman who is settled in Britain but is not a citizen marries a foreign national her husband is not allowed to enter Britain and settle here. I begin, therefore, by asking the Home Secretary the question that I asked him in December, and in November when the rules were previously debated. What possible justification can there be for that degree of overt and deliberate discrimination? How can the Minister say that the rules fall equally on all British citizens and all British residents when they include that fundamental distinction between the treatment of women resident in this country and that of men who enjoy the same condition?
Secondly, we shall vote against the rules because they discriminate against the black and Asian British, for it is their families and friends who are usually wrongly denied visitor's visas, and it is their dependent relatives who are prevented from joining sons and daughters who live in this country. I know that the Home Secretary will argue that the rules, as they are written, in no way and in no place distinguish between people on grounds of race and colour. That is true on paper, but it is not true in the reality of the application of the rules, as every hon. Member who has dealt with individual cases of this kind must realise. It is little consolation to the ethnic minorities to be told that the immigration rules are not racist in theory, but only in practice.
Thirdly, the rules inevitably cast much doubt upon the status of children born in this country and create much anguish for the parents of children born here who may not achieve and acquire British citizenship because of recent changes under the British Nationality Act.
Fourthly—this is the inevitable focus of today's debate—we shall vote against the rules because of the provisions that they make for women who are British either by birth or by registration and who wish to marry foreign nationals and to live with their husbands in this country.
I can describe in two sentences what the regulations provide. There is the assertion that all British women, irrespective of how they became British, whether by birth or by registration, shall be granted the right to bring their husbands into the country. But then a limitation is imposed on the exercise of that right. As a result of that limitation, which is real and in some cases will be desperate, many partners in genuine marriages will be kept separate.
All that will be achieved by the statement, which is qualified virtually out of existence, is that the Home Secretary will be able to proclaim his liberalism to the European Court of Human Rights and tell the 1922 Committee that he is not quite as much of a libertarian as it fears. He will be able to say both at the same time in two different places. That is the object of the compact that has been achieved between the Home Secretary and his Back Benchers and that has been enshrined in the regulations.
To understand that, it is necessary to recall how the Home Secretary has managed to manoeuvre himself into this disreputable position. On 11 November the House debated a White Paper which purported to describe the Government's intentions for new immigration regulations. The regulations were said to flow naturally and inevitably from the British Nationality Act 1981. The White Paper contained one wholly desirable change from its predecessor. The husbands of all British women, however those women had gained their British citizenship, were to be granted the right of entry. That provision was described by the hapless Minister of State, now shunted into the Foreign Office siding, in this way:
the approach that we have adopted in the White Paper and in the debate is not merely defensible but positively right."—[Official Report, 11 November 1982; Vol. 31, c. 751.]
It remained defensible and right until the votes were cast that night when a number of the Home Secretary's hon. Friends decided to disapprove of this one single act of liberalism. They said they disapproved of it because it breached a Conservative election promise. I have never sought to deny the truth of that allegation. Of course, what was proposed in the White Paper was a direct denial of the policy on which the Conservatives had chosen to fight the election. The manifesto said:
We shall end the concession introduced by the Labour Government in 1974 to husbands and male fiancés.
Having considered the justice of that simple fact I repeat, as I said in November, that it seemed to some of us typical that with so many broken election promises to choose from—on taxes, law and order, unemployment—the one that should cause a revolt on the Conservative Back Benches is that which provided a concession that would have united divided black families. Government Back Benchers choose the grounds of their rebellion for themselves, and on that night rebel they did; inevitably the Home Secretary retreated in the face of that rebellion.
Has my right hon. Friend noticed that that manifesto commitment indicated that white women would not be able to bring into the country white men from abroad whom they married and that was reneged upon as soon as they got into office? They changed the rules because they would not go that far, but none of the Conservative Back Benchers claimed then that that was a breach of their manifesto.
My hon. Friend is right. The first abandonment of the commitment was when it was adjusted so that women who were British by birth rather than by registration should have the right to bring in their husbands. That adjustment was intended to ensure that Asian and black women could not bring in their husbands but white women could.
I return to the point that in November Conservative Back Benchers chose to rebel on the ground of a broken election promise. Inevitably the Home Secretary retreated in the face of that rebellion. He offered the rebels three so-called safeguards. The onus of proof that the marriage was genuine was to be shifted to the applicant who, under the second set of rules, had the duty of satisfying authority that he was not entering into the marriage so as to evade immigration control. Secondly, the period during which a husband could be sent home if the marriage broke down was extended from one to two years. Thirdly, the Home Secretary announced that deportation of the husband would be the normal course if the marriage broke down during that period.
The result of the Home Secretary's retreat was as predictable as the retreat itself. He held out the hand of friendship to his bitterest critics on the Back Benches and they stamped on his fingers. Instead of accepting what he had thrown to them, they encompassed the humiliation of the December debate. They voted against him and defeated him. Again there was the same inevitable dreary response that the Home Secretary always makes to these matters; he began once more to court the rebels who had caused him so much discomfiture and humiliation.
As the Home Secretary well knows, he could have gone back to the White Paper proposals which he solemnly told the House were his preferred course and he could have carried those proposals through the House in January or February, as he carried them in November. But instead of doing that and behaving like a Home Secretary, he chose to behave like an assistant Whip, and a very inefficient assistant Whip at that. For two months there was constant public speculation, constant press briefings, constant managed leaks and constant Home Office denials about the deal that was being cobbled together. I believe that in the Conservative central office it is known as the resolute approach.
Throughout all this time there has been no evidence, despite the threats, the cajoling and the horse trading, that any consideration was being given to the merits of the Home Secretary's proposals. No one seemed to be concerned about the husbands who were parted from wives and the families that were divided. All that concerned the Home Secretary was making a fragile unity over this issue with the wilder shores of the Conservative party. I offer the Home Secretary a description of the events that have culminated in today's debate—the sacrifice of principle, people and patriotism for party ambition. If some hon. Members think that that is overstating it, they had better make their complaint to the hon. Member for Basildon (Mr. Proctor) who said that in Oxford yesterday evening. In this particular, although I suspect in no other, I endorse his view completely.
The outcome of that shameful act as described by the hon. Gentleman has not just made the Home Secretary look weak and unprincipled but it has made every participant in the incident appear ridiculous. There are the erstwhile Right-wing rebels who refused six weeks ago to accept three safeguards which they described as inadequate. Now they are going to troop into the lobbies for a single safeguard, having been denied two of the items that were described six weeks ago as being insufficient to meet their needs. But their shame is nothing like that of the moderates, whom I believe the Prime Minister calls wets, within the Conservative party, the men who hung around the corridors, lurking behind statues of Mr. Disraeli to announce to every passing journalist and politician that this time the wet worms would turn and insist on the White Paper and nothing but the White Paper; this time the Monday Club had gone too far. Of course, the Prime Minister and the Whips knew that when the time came they would turn and run, and turn and run they did, and their reputation has been completely vindicated.
The right hon. Gentleman in his usual colourful style made a reference to hon. Members lurking behind statues of Mr. Disraeli. Would he tell the House how many statues of Mr. Disraeli there are and where they are located?
The right hon. and learned Gentleman is more than kind to refer to my "usual colourful style". In referring to the author of "The Two Nations" I was speaking metaphorically.
It is those who claim to be on the side of the immigrant families, on the side of those who will be so cruelly separated, for whom I feel the greatest contempt. They seem not to be very concerned about the real outcome of the changes to be debated and, I fear, approved today. Someone should talk about the real outcome rather than party management. I know that I shall speak for all my hon. Friends who take the same view. We are talking about many genuine families—of genuine marriages—that will not be allowed to live in the peace, harmony and tranquillity in which they would be allowed to live in a truly civilised society.
I know that the Home Secretary has dropped the two-year rule which stated that if a man was parted from his wife he would be deported from Britain after two years. I said in November that I regarded the extension from one year to two years as deeply offensive. However, I never regarded it as genuinely relevant to the immigration issue and a deterrent to marriages that should rightly be allowed to take place. The length of the period prior to potential deportation after a marriage break-up may be one year, two years or 10 years, but it will not deter genuine applicants who are about to enter into genuine marriages.
My constituents who marry men from the Indian subcontinent do not care about the threat of their husbands being sent home if there is a break-up after one year or two years. They are not worried because they enter into genuine marriages which, at the time of marriage, my constituents believe will continue for ever. The one-year or two-year rule does not deter the genuine marriage about which we are concerned. The factor that deters it is the shift of the onus of proof from the immigration authorities to the applicants.
That shift of onus and the reversal of the two-year rule is based on a complete misunderstanding that afflicts the Home Secretary and, no doubt, the Minister of State, with whom he is in rapt conversation. They are unable to distinguish between the arranged marriage and the bogus marriage. The shift and the reversal are based on their inability to distinguish between a marriage that is different from our customs and habits, and almost certainly different from our preferences, but which is a genuine marriage in every decent sense of the word, and a bogus marriage. It is that misunderstanding which has caused so much difficulty. It is that misunderstanding which lies at the heart of Conservative policy. It reflects a basically racist attitude. That is, in effect, that customs that are different from ours are offensive customs and must be penalised and prohibited.
A substantial part of the population believes for social, ethnic and religious reasons that the arranged marriage is the proper course. It is within the knowledge of many hon. Members on both sides of the House that these marriages are genuine, stable and permanent. To prevent them is a deeply shameful decision for the Government and the House to take. However, that will be the effect of moving the onus of proof from the immigration authorities to the applicants.
The Home Secretary must understand and recognise the difficulty that applicants will face in trying to prove a negative. How does an applicant prove that his intention to marry is not based on, or influenced by, his wish to live in Britain and to obtain a job here?
All of us who have had difficulties with the immigration authorities can imagine the tragic conversation. The parties will say, "We met, we courted and corresponded. We have saved for the fare, the wedding and the furniture. We have booked a register office"—or it may be a church or temple—"and rented a flat." They will then be asked, "When you made all those preparations, were you not really, in heart and mind, wanting a job in Britain?" Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will explain how an applicant can prove that the answer to that question is no.
It is no good the right hon. Gentleman saying that he expects immigration officers to behave more reasonably than that. The hard truth under a variety of Governments is that immigration officers have invariably taken a harder line than compassion and reason required. When the word is passed down from the Government that the hard line is the order of the day, many genuine marriages and genuinely permanent relationships will be prevented.
I remind the Home Secretary of another result of his blundering. In future, all British women—not only those who are not British by registration—will have to face these rigours. They will be faced by women who are British by birth. The hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg), who is not in his place—I am sure that there is a good reason for that—talked in November about the prospects for his daughter were she to wish to marry a foreign national. Were that to happen to his daughter or to the daughter of any hon. Member, the young lady would be required to demonstrate, as would her American, Canadian, French, Pakistani or Indian husband, that she and her partner were not entering into marriage for the purpose of the husband obtaining a job in Britain.
By describing what the right hon. Gentleman has provided for us, one is describing the utter unacceptability of the proposals when set against compassion and civilisation. The immigration authorities will be required to judge a man's motives and men will be required to demonstrate that their motives are those which it is impossible to demonstrate.
All this is being done to appease the more unsavoury elements in the Conservative party. It is being done in the name of an assault on illegal immigration. The bias that afflicts so many Conservative Members means that they cannot distinguish between illegal immigration and immigration for purposes that they do not themselves support. However, it is worse than that. It is more desperate and despicable than that.
The numbers involved are really a trickle. All this is being done to limit at best or, from the right hon. Gentleman's point of view, at worst, or on any valued judgment that the House cares to choose, 2,500 or 3,000 applicants. Anyone who reads what the right hon. Gentleman said in column 696 of the Official Report on 11 November will discover that towards the end of the column he struggled as hard as he desperately could to construct the largest possible figure when talking about potential numbers. Being an honest man, and having explained all the qualification bearing on his large figure, he said with great integrity that probably the figure was wrong. He had chosen to adopt all the largest assumptions. Even on that basis we are talking about 2,500 applicants. They are not coming here for the first time. It is not what is described as primary immigration. We are talking about genuine husbands who wish to join their British wives and live with them in peace and amity.
The right hon. Gentleman cannot bring himself to return to the proposals which he once espoused and carried through the House, proposals which carried an element of decency within them. The results will be the separation of families, suffering and harship. In any decent person's judgment it is a shameful position and we shall vote against it.
It is interesting when some right hon. and hon. Members protest too much. We have just heard a speech in which the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) protested too much. What is more, he did something else that is always a mistake, and which I would have thought the right hon. Gentleman would have learnt by this time. It is that people in glass houses do not throw stones. After all, think of the right hon. Gentleman, of all people, talking about someone saying the same thing at the same time in two different places. He has been doing that all his political life. That is how he has got where he is.
The right hon. Gentleman also talked about courting the rebels—a most interesting phrase. What has he been doing in Bermondsey? Does he really believe in the Labour candidate for Bermondsey? Therefore, it was a little dangerous for him to embark on the course of referring to courting rebels.
The problem with the right hon. Gentleman is that at the end of all his speeches there comes the same feeling. He is also always talking to two different audiences at the same time with the result that no one knows, as his speech showed today, whether he and his party are in favour of strict immigration control. That is a fact of life.
As the House knows, the immigration rules, which I laid on 6 December, and which came into force on 1 January, were disapproved and have to be replaced. The rules now before the House will come into effect on 16 February and will replace those now in force.
I remind the House very briefly of the background against which it is necessary to bring forward changes in the immigration rules. The British Nationality Act came into force on 1 January this year. The rules have to reflect these new provisions in nationality law and some change in them is therefore unavoidable.
The debates in the House about the rules have focused on the provisions relating to husbands and male fiancés. There was no doubt that the wish of the great majority of right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House, as expressed in the debate in December, was that all British citizen women should have the same right to be joined here by a husband or fiancé, irrespective of whether they had a connection with this country by birth. Several Members spoke with great force and conviction. I have considered the matter carefully since the debate, as I was bound to do. I remain firmly of the view that this is the right course.
It is right in principle that all women who share our citizenship should have the same opportunity to live here with the husband of their choice. The test that we used in 1980 of citizenship and birth was necessary at that time, in the absence of a definition in our nationality law of who belonged here. But now that the British Nationality Act has given us such a definition—and the Act is already in force—it is right and reasonable to rely on it in this context.
At the same time it is necessary to ensure that there are proper safeguards against abuse of the rules by people using marriage as a convenient means of obtaining settlement here. Successive Governments of both complexions have recognised that that was a difficult problem. No one found it more difficult than the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins) when he was Home Secretary. In view of his article in The Guardian I am entitled to reply to him in kind. I intend to do so. When he was Home Secretary the right hon. Gentleman changed his mind repeatedly. In case he has forgotten these facts, I shall remind him of them. Perhaps he has floated away to other pastures and forgotten what happened before. I shall tell him now. In March 1974, just after the right hon. Gentleman had taken office, he was thinking of relaxing the rules, but he had reservations. He said:
I have to consider the practical consequences as well as the problems themselves … were Ito admit husbands on the same basis as wives, in my view it would lead to a substantial and continuing new wave of male immigration".—[Official Report, 28 March 1974; Vol. 871, c. 612.]
But three months later that is exactly what the right hon. Gentleman did. He candidly admitted that he had changed his mind:
When I first considered this I believe that I put too high the likely immigration consequences … On further consideration of all the issues involved in this difficult problem, I am persuaded that there are no sufficiently compelling reasons for denying the parties to a marriage the freedom of choice that I believe they should have."—[Official Report, 27 June 1974; Vol. 875, c. 535.]
But it was not long before the right hon. Gentleman had to think again. Two years later he told the House that there was "sufficient evidence"—of abuse—"to justify counter measures" and that he was
examining urgently possible proposals to deal, in particular, with cases involving a bogus marriage designed to avoid removal for breach of conditions or illegal entry".
He was forced to admit that the concession that he had introduced in 1974
left some room for abuse by way of marriages of convenience aimed solely at achieving entry or avoiding removal."—[Official Report, 5 July 1976; Vol. 914, c. 984.]
Then the right hon. Gentleman left the scene, leaving this problem and many others to his luckless successor, the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Rees). The investigation set up by the right hon. Member for Hillhead led to the Labour Government's rules of 1977, when they introduced some tests, but inadequate ones, against the abuse of the rules. That is the nature of the problem. In 1980 this Government introduced far stricter tests against abuse.
What does the right hon. Gentleman now regard as my catalogue of sins? In both my periods of office as Home Secretary, with the exception of the first three months when I gave the matter balanced consideration, I had complete equality between the sexes and complete racial equality with regard to the admission of fiancés and husbands. If the Home Secretary stuck to that position, he would be in much less difficulty than he is now.
I was referring to the safeguards. Before the right hon. Gentleman left office he came back to the problem of safeguards and the need to deal with abuse of marriage. He said that. I read it out. He left it to his successor to put through the Labour Government's proposals, which the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook supported.
That is the nature of the problem. In 1980 the Government introduced far stricter tests against abuse. However, we thought it right, when introducing rules which extended the right to bring in a husband or fiancé to all British citizens, to look again at the safeguards, and as a result I decided to make further changes.
There was a great deal of discussion about those safeguards in the December debate. There was agreement that safeguards were necessary, but less agreement about what were the right ones. There was, however, a widely expressed dislike on both sides of the House of the extension of the period of temporary stay of a husband in this country from one year to two years. Some hon. Members drew attention to the hardship which a longer period would lead to, mentioning the greater risk of a marriage breaking down, and pointing out that the husband could be an innocent party.
I have considered the whole question of safeguards carefully, in the light of the debate. It is not an easy matter to get the balance right between adequate safeguards and those that are too restrictive. I have decided that it would be right not to proceed with the rules that extended the period of a man's temporary stay here from one to two years. In reaching this decision, I have taken account of the strong views expressed on both sides of the House that it is unreasonable to delay the grant of settlement for more than a year. I accept the argument that this period places too much uncertainty over a marriage. I have therefore restored the earlier rule under which a husband may be granted settlement at the end of one year. At the same time I have omitted the change in the rules on deportation, which was linked with the proposed extension and which meant that a husband could be deported irrespective of the reason for the breakdown of the marriage or the length of his residence here.
On the other hand, I believe that it is right to retain the new safeguard, which places the onus on an applicant to show that he qualifies to come here under the rules. This is, in contrast to what the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook thinks, a reasonable requirement and those who have a genuine relationship that was not contracted for immigration reasons have no cause to fear it. At the same time it will help to ensure that those whose motives are not genuine will not be able to benefit under these rules. I believe that this extra safeguard, together with the already stringent tests that we introduced in 1980, provide the best basis for firm action against abuse of the rules by people using marriage as a way of entering this country.
After the first debate, I decided that I would include that as one of the safeguards because there were widespread views that we needed safeguards against abuse. The right hon. Member for Leeds, South and others, and the Labour party at various times, took the same view and introduced safeguards. Therefore, I was perfectly entitled to take that view after listening to the views of the House. I am reinforced in what I say by what I was told by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed). While we were in opposition, he visited the Indian subcontinent and studied the work of entry clearance officers. He is convinced, from his experience, that this safeguard will be of considerable value. He has stressed that to me and to many of my right hon. and hon. Friends.
My right hon. Friend is well aware of public concern about pressures that exist from the Indian subcontinent for young men to gain access to the United Kingdom. He is also well aware of the tradition of arranged marriages—which no one wishes to criticise in this debate. The custom has been, within the arranged marriage, that the young woman should join her husband. In the application of these rules, against the burden of proof, would my right hon. Friend—I do not want to make it difficult for him—say that if the young man within an arranged marriage is seeking to join a woman here it could be an indication that that marriage might well be being contracted for the purpose of migration to this country?
I ask my question of the Home Secretary slowly in order that he may consider the answer that he has just given. Clearly and rightly immigration officers are conscious of the Home Secretary's statement on these matters and are influenced by him. His hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) has just suggested that automatically any man who wants to come to this country to marry an Asian woman must be the party to a bogus marriage—
—because the normal cultural pattern is to go in the other direction. I do not ask the Home Secretary to condemn that judgment; I merely ask him to say that the fact that a man is coming to Great Britain rather than a woman going to India or Pakistan is not evidence of anything.
I did not understand my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) to say what the right hon. Gentleman says he did. I do not believe that he did. I am entitled to reply again that, of course, entry clearance officers have, on the basis of the rules laid down and passed by the House, to judge whether a marriage is genuine and whether it should be proceeded with. That is what I was trying to say and I believe that it is perfectly clear.
This is absolutely crucial, because the ECOs in the subcontinent will follow the debate and the Home Secretary's statement closely. Will the Home Secretary repudiate the suggestion that the fact that the husband goes to live with the wife is so different from Indian custom that it must mean—[Interruption.] —that is what was suggested—that there is something wrong with the intention?
I am not prepared to answer questions put by hon. Gentlemen who distort what my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North said. I have made the position abundantly clear: the entry clearance officers do their duty in accordance with rules laid down by the House, as I have described them. I simply do not accept the interpretation of the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) of what my hon. Friend said. I have ears as has the hon. Gentleman and I could hear what my hon. Friend said. He did not say that.
There is clearly an enormous amount of vagueness about this. The criteria deployed by immigration officers will differ almost certainly from one to the other. Does not the Home Secretary think that in these circumstances—although I believe his perspective about this is wrong—that there should be at least some guidance from the Minister as to the criteria that should be adopted by immigration officers in resolving these matters? In the absence of that, vagueness will be the order of the day and vagueness is dangerous for civil liberty.
I have set out for entry clearance officers what has been clear for a number of years. These rules are simply changing the burden of proof. I do not believe that there is any vagueness for entry clearance officers. If there is I am perfectly prepared to look into it.
It is important to set the debate on these rules, which are centred on husbands and fiancés, in a wider context and to remind the House what the Government's policies of strict immigration control have achieved in the past four years. The figures show that under this Government the number of people accepted has dropped sharply. In fact the statistics for acceptances during last year were the lowest since Commonwealth immigration control began 20 years ago. That is what we intended and, I am glad to say, that is what we have achieved.
The great majority of those accepted are wives and dependent children of men who are already settled here. They accounted for as many as two thirds of all those accepted last year from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan. Wives and children of men settled here either have a statutory right to come, or have been the subject of undertakings by successive Governments. Since 1979 the queues of such dependants waiting to come here from the Indian subcontinent have become very much shorter, and there is every reason to think that this trend will continue. Figures are regularly published. The queues are now less than half what they were at the beginning of 1979.
The majority of people granted settlement are wives and children. If one looks at the other categories, acceptances now are limited to the absolute minimum. In each case there are strict controls. The criteria for the grant of work permits have been tightened by the Government and they are now available only for people who have scarce skills. Just over 1,000 of those granted settlement were special voucher holders, who came here under the quota system for former citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies, mainly in East Africa. The Government are committed to continuing this scheme, but admissions will continue to be at a carefully controlled rate and we have recently refused to increase the quota for India.
This accounts for the main categories, apart from husbands. We said in the manifesto that we would end the concession introduced by the Labour Government. We have done that and we are not going back on it. The only husbands who will be able to qualify under our rules are those whose wives are British citizens and they must satisfy strict tests against abuse. In the 12 months ending on 30 September 1982, fewer than 3,000 husbands were accepted for settlement from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan, and most of those were accepted under the previous Government's rules, which we changed.
The Government remain committed to strict immigration control. It is an essential element of that policy that the Government should ensure that they have the best possible statistical information on present and likely future patterns of immigration. In that way they can be aware of underlying trends and can examine the results of their policies, as well as being able to respond to new circumstances as they develop. It is because of this that we have set up important new arrangements for examining immigration from the Indian subcontinent. The first results from this exercise have already been published and in time we expect it to provide valuable information about future trends. We shall continue also to collect the comprehensive figures that are published regularly on immigration control, including those that show the number of husbands who gain settlement by marriage.
My right hon. Friend has pointed out that the numbers have dropped considerably. Can he give the House a categoric assurance that the rules he is laying before the House, together with the implementation of the Nationality Act 1981, will not result in any increase in primary immigration and that the ratio of reduction will continue at the same level? If he cannot give that assurance I think that he will find that some Conservative Members will not be able to support him in the Lobby tonight.
The trend of settlements is down and I trust that it will continue to be so. However, it would be a brave man who, in an uncertain world, could go any further than that. But I have given a clear assurance.
The House understands the dilemma of my right hon. Friend. However, would my right hon. Friend give an assurance that if the figures proved that immigration was on the increase, he would take action to see that that increase was reversed?
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the movement of peoples is much conditioned not just by immigration rules but by employment and economics? One of the reasons for the fall in immigration, apart from the stringent immigration control, is the unattractiveness of this country. In the future, does the right hon. Gentleman agree, no one could tell, if we have another economic upswing, how many EC nationals would chose to come to live and work here and bring their families? Is this not an imponderable question?
I shall not broaden this debate to an economic one. I thank the hon. Gentleman for recognising that the Government have been carrying through a policy of stringent immigration control. I am grateful for that.
The House will be aware that any Government must be prepared for unexpected developments affecting immigration.
The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) to whom I gave notice that I would raise this matter, and who apologises for not being present, was forced by events in Africa not only to change his policy but to introduce new legislation to control the immigration of citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies. I am speaking of the Labour Government's Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1968, which extended immigration control to people from our former colonies who, as a result of the policy of Africanisation, were being driven out of East Africa and coming here in large numbers. I strongly supported that Act myself. I remember it well, because I was the Chief Whip of the Conservative party at the time and did my best to get our party to support it—I am bound to say, not wholly successfully, but there were different arguments then. The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East found that it was essential to do this. The Opposition, who like to forget about strict immigration control when they are not in government, were forced to push through the 1968 Act by the pressure of unexpected developments, and to pursue a policy of strict immigration control.
This Government were driven by events in Iran to impose a visa requirement on Iranians and the plight of south-east Asians led us, as well as Governments overseas, to take exceptional steps to accept refugees from there. I cannot foretell what changing circumstances may bring in the next few years. These uncertainties do, however, make it all the more important for the Government to continue, as now, to keep a close watch on immigration trends. Our policy therefore will be subject to continuous re-examination in the light of changing circumstances, in order to achieve our objective, which is strict immigration control.
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman for the third time, but this is a crucial question, not least because this debate is largely about the husbands of British citizens coming into this country—that was the occasion of the previous revolt and that is what is on the minds of many of his hon. Friends. Is the Home Secretary saying that there are any circumstances in which he might conceivably change his present position and prevent the husbands of British citizens coming into this country?
I shall repeat what I said, and it is in line with what any Home Secretary would have said in the past, and what the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East would have said when he had to introduce a completely new Act. My position is clear. Our policy will be subject to continuous re-examination in the light of changing circumstances—that is the whole policy—in order to achieve our objective, which is strict immigration control.
We shall not abandon the strict policies that we have been pursuing. Indeed for the future, we shall be reinforced by a better basis on which to build those policies. The British Nationality Act has not taken away the right of abode from those who had it before, but it has created a separate status for people who belong here. This is important because it means that people who do not have a close connection with this country are no longer encouraged to think that they have this right. These are the 4½million people who have now become British dependent territories citizens and British overseas citizens. The Act has also stopped children acquiring our citizenship by birth here when both their parents are here only temporarily or unlawfully. I understand that the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook thinks that this is wrong, but I remind him that this will make it easier to take firm action against people who are in breach of immigration control, and will prevent a pool of people building up abroad who have the right to come here although they have no close connection with this country. This clearly diminishes long-term immigration potential.
It is against this background of strict action based on firm proposals and of the Government's clear resolve to maintain strict immigration control that I ask right hon. and hon. Members to reject this motion.
I ask myself what the Government are so worried about that they have to bring forward regulations of this kind. Only a relatively small number of men, mainly from India and Pakistan, might be admitted to this country. The whole atmosphere is bedevilled by the strong feeling that the problem has strong racist overtones and undertones. Do the Home Secretary and his Ministers accept that people who have come to this country from the new Commonwealth, have settled here, are good citizens and play a part in the cultural, social, political and business life of this country should in no way be looked upon as not contributing to every aspect of our life?
I am sure that if both parties in what we are discussing this evening—the woman and her fiancé—were white, there would be no problem. I say this in the context of decent people coming from the new Commonwealth who have been badgered by immigration officers when they arrive. They have been badgered, heckled and hassled by the officers when they come only to visit relatives. There are few right hon. and hon. Members present who have not had experience of this from constituents who complain to them that close relatives have had to undergo what is in effect a degrading third degree before they are permitted into the country. That is outrageous. It does not happen to white people and as far as I can determine, it does not happen in any other democratic country. I have never had any complaint from people who visit relatives in the United States, France, Germany, or any democratic country that they are treated as these visitors to our shores are treated, just because they do not have white faces.
Paragraph 41 on "Fiancés" is in many ways deeply offensive. The entry clearance officer is the person who has to be satisfied
that it is not the primary purpose of the intended marriage to obtain admission to the United Kingdom".
What are the qualifications of the entry clearance officer for so deciding? Or does he know quite well his instructions, which are perhaps not overtly but certainly tacitly spelt out? He has the strong opinion that he has to keep everyone out if he possibly can, and let no one in. That appears to him to be the implication, the gist, the thrust of the Government's policy on immigration.
I have no objection to his deciding or giving the opinion
that there is an intention that the parties to the marriage should live together permanently as man and wife".
I say that I have no objection, but again that is offensive, because it applies only to them, not to anyone else.
Then there is the third point. The entry clearance officer has to be satisfied
that the parties to the proposed marriage have met".
Why? Our society feels that it is desirable that marriages should not be arranged, and that people should meet, fall in love and then decide to marry. We have this romantic notion. There is nothing wrong with that, but can the right hon. Gentleman tell me that the system of arranged marriages that applies in other parts of the world is a worse system? In Britain, one marriage in four—perhaps one in three—is destined to end in divorce. I am not a betting man, but I would venture to wage a small sum that it is not nearly as high in arranged marriages. I am not making a moral judgement about divorce, but why should the implication of this paragraph be that because we do not agree implicitly with arranged marriages, the parties to the proposed marriage should have met? I feel that those words have been put in deliberately to tell the entry clearance officer how the Government view the situation.
Why is there discrimination against women? I agree with the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins) who asked the Home Secretary why he did not go back to the point where men and women were treated equally in this regard. I resent the relegation of women to a lower class of citizenship than men. If men have the right, I do not see why women should not have that right.
I am satisfied that immigration officials in the New Commonwealth who are supposed to interview applicants in many instances do not attempt in any way to help applicants. I hear the claim over and over again that these officers seem to take the view that every applicant is a liar. I do not say that there are no liars, but the officals try to trip up the applicant by asking various questions, the implications of which in most instances the poor would-be immigrant is totally at a loss to understand.
As evidence of the way in which immigration officials in the New Commonwealth do not attempt to help, I ask the Home Secretary why it takes so long for them to interview even applications which go in on the nod. He may know of the case of a family in Glasgow who used to be my constituents. I knew the father, who unfortunately has since died. The sons were born in Glasgow. They went to school in the Garnethill area of Glasgow, and then they attended Woodside secondary school. One of them, who is 24 years of age, has an honours degree in science. He is a Bachelor of Science of Glasgow university. He went to India recently, and met a girl whom he married. He thought that there would be no problem in brnging her back to his own country. However, he had to return without her. He was told that there was a 10-month waiting list, even to look at a case that was as simple and open as his. I am afraid that the whole thrust of the Government's intention is bedevilled by a racist position.
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will recall that under his Government the waiting lists were very prolonged, that application had to made in India through the High Commissioner, and that it often took considerably more than 10 months before applicants knew their fate. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not like to give the impression that there is delay only under this Government.
I was never a starry-eyed admirer of some of the Labour Government's policies. The hon. Gentleman may remember that I, and one or two of my hon. Friends, including John Mackintosh, who was the Member for Berwick and East Lothian, but is now deceased, voted against our Government on one of their immigration orders. I do not say that one Government have clean hands and that the other have not.
I am also perturbed that people who are quite rich have some preference. The sum involved is substantial:
£150,000 or income of not less than £15,000 a year".
That gives the impression that perhaps the Government are not averse to having some of their financial problems solved by immigrants bringing with them large sums of money.
Paragraph 84 on page 19 states:
Any passenger who is currently subject to a deportation order is to be refused leave to enter".
In other words, the judgment is made. He has to be deported before any other decision can be looked into. This involves an inordinate amount of expense to people who otherwise might qualify to enter this country. That should be changed, at least to allow an applicant to stay while new or other evidence is submitted.
In at least two places—at page 2, paragraph 2 and at the top of page 22—the statement claims that matters of race, colour and religion are not relevant. When the Home Secretary said that he thinks that my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) "doth protest too much", surely the same can be said of him. I do not see why, unless he is worried about the statement's implications, that should be mentioned twice. In any case, I am sure that in spite of that claim having been made twice, the vast majority of people who feel that we are living in a multiracial society—a pluralist society—people who are not intrinsically racist, will not, I regret, look at the statement in that way.
I can say in all honesty that the concern shown by Conservative Members about the number of immigrants coming into Britain is real and deep. It is a concern that troubles most people in Britain who want to see immigration cut to a minimum. We cannot afford, certainly at this time, the strains on our resources and our social services to be increased.
For my part I am delighted to have heard my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary reaffirm to the House this afternoon that it is the Government's aim to continue with strict immigration control. All that I would like to say respectfully to him, is that I can assure him that we want to see that process continue whenever and wherever it is possible.
We needed that assurance because, although the British Nationality Act 1981 will undoubtedly reduce, and reduce substantially, the number of immigrants who will in future come into Britain, there is no doubt that the new rule relating to foreign husbands and male fiancés is likely to increase the number of that limited and special category. But—I think this is fully understood—it is not because of that that the Opposition will vote against the rules tonight. They will be voting against the rules not because we have opened the door to this special limited category but because we have not opened it enough. They will be voting against the rules tonight, not because we have not taken the precaution of imposing a safeguard but because we are using a safeguard that they believe and understand will work in a way of which they do not approve. That is a matter of opinion for them but it is right that one should understand the distinction between the way in which we approach the problem and the way in which they approach it.
Furthermore, the Opposition have made it clear in debate after debate on immigration that they want to see this right in the new rules not only applying to women who are British citizens but extended to all women who are settled in Britain. I do not suppose for one moment that anyone could mistake the consequences of the rules that are now before the House, and the consequences of the kind of rules that would be before the House if the Opposition had their way. We know what the effect would be upon the number of immigrants who would then come into Britain. There would be no control; there would be none of the distinctions and safeguards that we are putting down.
The necessity for the rules is the British Nationality Act and the reforms, which are of the highest constitutional importance, that it introduces. There are two features of the British Nationality Act which it is right that one should consider in the context of the new rules. One is that for the first time the United Kingdom can now base its immigration policies on citizenship, and that was advocated by the Labour Government's Green Paper on nationality law in 1977. It said that one of the defects of the old nationality law was that it prevented the United Kingdom from basing immigration policies on citizenship.
The second, and perhaps the most obvious and vivid, point that comes out of the new British Nationality Act, is that, as we all know now, again for the first time we can be identified and identify ourselves as British citizens. Those alterations in the law, which have come about by the introduction of the British Nationality Act, in my view, and I hope in that of most British people, make complete sense. One thing that must be followed in a sensible application of the Nationality Act is that all British citizens are equal. One set of citizens cannot be more equal than another. It is right that the House should recognise that if the old rule had been kept it could not have made sense because it would have made some British citizens more equal than others.
The hon. and learned Gentleman talks about the equality of British citizens but I am sure that he will appreciate that under the nationality legislation both sexes have formal equality in terms of conferring citizenship upon their spouses. Why does not the same formal equality apply to the immigration of husbands or wives into Britain?
My view, and I think that it is the view of most people in Britain, is that, whether we like it or not, there is a distinction between husbands and wives, the way in which each lives and the duties that they carry out. In Britain at the moment—if hon. Members will not recognise this they blind themselves to all reality—in the vast majority of cases the husband is the head of the family.
I am sure that my hon. and learned Friend will agree that, far from the supporters of Labour Members agreeing to the equality of men and women, such people never tell their wives what they earn.
My hon. Friend has gone into a detail in which I do not profess to be an authority. I say only that by the rules we have prevented a distortion of the law which I for one would have felt was unacceptable.
If one tries to discover the effect of the rules when they are applied to immigration figures, it is fairly clear that it is likely—one cannot put it higher than that—that about 3,000 applications will be made—the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) said it would come to only 2,500, and so be it. They will not necessarily be successful applications. One must compare the effect of the British Nationality Act with the old law and ask what will be the effect of the Act on the number of immigrants.
The first thing that stands out and persuades one that, for a reduction in the immigration figures, the British Nationality Act is a statute that can be relied upon, is the fact that no longer will birth give an automatic right to citizenship of this country. Although one cannot be precise about the figure, that alone in the future is likely to reduce further increases of British nationals in this country by about 5,000 a year in excess of those 2,500 or 3,000 applications which will come, or may come, as a result of these rules. In addition, there is the discipline of a precise Act which allows one to say who is and who is not a person who belongs in this country.
Finally, I should like to deal with perhaps one of the most ridiculous anomalies of the old law and the consequences of that old law. According to the Labour party green paper of 1977, as a result of the British Nationality Act 1948, there were in 1977—heaven knows how many there are today—950 million people scattered throughout the world who were entitled to call themselves, and to be considered by our law, British subjects, all of them with hopes if they knew about their rights and some of them with incipient claims to our citizenship.
Since 1 January 1983, we are all British citizens. The Conservative party in its election manifesto of 1979 declared:
The rights of all British citizens legally settled here are equal before the law whatever their race, colour or creed.
These rules to the letter fulfil that pledge.
I had hoped, when I heard the Home Secretary's remarks, that I might at a very late stage be convinced that it would be wrong to disapprove the rules tonight. Unfortunately, I am not. So far, all that we have heard from the Conservative Benches is a paranoid attack on my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins) and a repetition of what we have heard before. Therefore, the Liberals will vote against the rules tonight.
The Home Secretary could have gone back to his original White Paper which he introduced and which was accepted by the House, but he chose to bow to the considerable pressure of his maverick Right wing. He brought forward one set of rules of which this House firmly disapproved. He then went back, did some deals and now he has brought forward this modified set of rules of which the House, I hope, will equally disapprove, for two reasons, if not more: they are sexist and racist. The only real change in the rules is that all women who are British citizens can, at a considerable cost, to which I shall return in a moment, bring their spouses or fiancés into this country.
Paragraph 41 of the immigration rules states:
An entry certificate will be refused unless the entry clearance officer is satisfied:
Ironically, on 10 February, after the rules were published, the House of Lords judged in two cases of illegal immigration that the burden of proof was upon the Home Office. Yet these rules, published by that same Home Office, have put the burden and onus of proof on the person coming into this country. How can an entry clearance officer be absolutely satisfied when a young couple say to him, "Yes, we have carried out all your instructions; yes, we have a flat; yes, this is a proper marriage, we have met and courted"? As the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) said, it rests purely and simply, according to the rules, on a subjective judgment, on a judgment by the entry clearance officer as to whether he is satisfied. There are no strong criteria. The clearance officer merely must be satisfied that what the young couple are telling him is the truth. The reason for this is not a mistaken idea of what an arranged marriage is all about, but because, if I may use the phrase again, of the paranoid obsession about arranged marriages of a number of Conservative Members who believe that they are, per se, wrong, that they are bogus and that they are entered into primarily and absolutely because the men who come over here want to come to work.
We speak of the love match. Those of us who have been married for a long time according to the traditions of this country believe that our system of marriage works, and in many cases it does. If Conservative Members would like to know, I met my wife in the Young Conservatives. Thank goodness she changed my mind. Our marriage has lasted for 22 years. I am a lucky man. We married according to the traditions of this country, but there is very good reason for saying that an arranged marriage can last equally long and be equally effective.
It has been rightly pointed out that all British women will now have to go through these rigours. The daughters of Conservative Members may have to go through these rigours, as, indeed, may my daughter if she decides to marry someone who is not of EC citizenship, as well she might. They are white and predominantly middle class. If they have inherited their parents'—their fathers' in most cases—gift of the gab, they will be articulate.
I should like to contrast that with the plight of a young Asian woman, who, by the very dictates of her society, especially if she is a Hindu, will not have lived at such a high profile, to use a jargon phrase. She will probably be of a retiring nature. She will certainly not have English as her mother tongue and her fiancé will not have English as his mother tongue. They then have to go through these rigours.
That is one of the principal reasons why we oppose the rules tonight. The rules have been changed but marginally and at considerable cost to one section of the community.
It is precisely the type of woman to whom the hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Pitt) is alluding that the Government have not regarded at all—women who have been well educated in this country and who marry non-EC citizens. They were most up in arms before the original changes in the rules and were most overjoyed when the rules were changed back. I know that because of the considerable lobbying that took place at that time.
I take the hon. Gentleman's point. Women settled in Britain will have no rights. I wish to quote from an article in a magazine called Life and Work entitled
Missionary families are British, too!".
It wondered whether, when the rules were drafted, it was intended that they should inhibit the rights of a number of people abroad who are preaching the word of God. I am sure that many Conservative and Opposition Members are anxious that that word should be preached. The article by Mary Philp states:
I would like, as an example, to describe the case of my sisters and myself … Our situation is particularly difficult, because our parents, also, were born abroad—our father when his father, too, was a missionary in Kenya and our mother when her father (also British) worked for a British company in Spain. Since neither we nor our parents were born in Britain and because we were born female, we are among the small group of Britons currently denied immigration rights for a foreign husband or fiance. We are not the only missionary family affected in this way.
Certain women have settled in Britain and made their lives here. Perhaps they cannot afford to become British citizens, or they may, for valid reasons, not wish to do so. They cannot bring their fiancés or spouses into Britain to lead a normal married life.
I am even more confused than when we last debated the rules. On 15 December I drew the attention of the House to the case of Mrs. Soni, who was refused entry into Britain because the Minister said that she had no emotional attachment to her family. The adjudicator at the appeal recommended that the Minister should use his discretion.
On 3 February I asked the Minister a question about the plight of elderly dependent relatives. He told me to read the 1980 rules. He said:
We cannot return to a situation in which every member of a man's family is entitled to enter this country, no matter how remote the relationship."—[Official Report, 3 February 1983; Vol. 36, c. 413.]
I hope that the Minister misheard my question and was not giving me a specific answer.
Paragraph 52 of the rules deals with parents, grandparents and other relatives. It states:
Widowed mothers, fathers who are widowers aged 65 or over and parents travelling together of whom at least one is aged 65 or over should be admitted for settlement only where the requirements of paragraphs 46 and 47 and the following conditions are met. They must be wholly or mainly dependent upon sons or daughters settled in the United Kingdom who have the means to maintain their parents … They must also be without other close relatives in their own country to turn to.
Time after time people contact me and other hon. Members asking how they can bring their aged dependent relatives into Britain. One case involves the mother-in-law of a Mr. Miah. She did not wish to settle in Britain. However, on her last visit her son-in-law mistakenly applied for entry rights, which were refused. She is now being refused entry into Britain when all she wishes is to visit her family for a holiday. When the Minister replies, will he explain the implications of paragraph 52?
The Liberals cannot support the immigration rules—although we had hoped that we could do so. They are racist, sexist and primarily aimed at one minority section of society, many of whom are British citizens—those who are black or brown. I am profoundly disgusted that that should be the case. I and my colleagues will vote in the "No" Lobby tonight.
As one of the 23 Conservative Members who voted against the revised rules, I owe it to my constituents and to the House to explain my change of heart today. I must tell the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) that I do not consider myself a part of the unsavoury element to which he referred. The truth is that any unsavoury element in the Chamber comprises those who seek to enlarge immigration whenever the opportunity arises.
Since we last debated the rules, we have not been skulking behind statues of Disraeli or anyone else. We have sought to find a compromise that would unite—[Interruption.] I realise that Opposition Members have no idea of the meaning of the word "unite". We have been seeking a compromise to unite our party on the vexed issue of immigration. There is nothing wrong with that. We are the majority party, and the only party committed to stricter immigration control. I have no desire to go once more into the same Lobby with Members from the Labour, Liberal SDP and other parties who are committed to easing immigration, rather than restricting it. Therefore, I thought it desirable to find a solution to the problem.
It is true that we could have maintained our position. However, there are not enough of us to rebel—[Laughter.] I do not find anything strange in that. The votes can be counted in Hansard. Do we, ostrich-like, continue to ignore what we can do as a minority, or do we try to obtain the best bargain available?
Opposition Members are always referring to the European Court of Justice or the intervention of the European Commission of Human Rights. Any victory that we had achieved would have been short-lived because that body would soon tell us to put our affairs in order. It must be right for us to do everything in our power to prevent a return to the original rules, which would have been far more lax and would have brought about the very position that we are trying to defeat.
A charge has been made that the rules have been weakened. No one group in the House can claim a victory because the two-year rule has been dropped in favour of a return to the one-year rule. That proposal was attacked by all sides of the House. I would prefer stricter control before people enter Britain rather than depend on some other restriction, following which we must deport people with all the consequences on wives and children. The dropping of that provision is common sense.
The Opposition attack us for criticising arranged marriages. We are not doing so. I represent Shipley, which borders Bradford. Who better than I can draw a distinction between arranged marriages and marriages of convenience? We are opposed both to marriages of convenience and to those who will use the easing of the immigration rules to settle in Britain, irrespective of marriage. They will use the rules as a vehicle to do so.
When I refer to strengthening the rules, I refer also to the burden of proof. A number of my hon. Friends will vote differently from me for honourable reasons. I must tell my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Proctor) that I have not been offered a trip to the Far East. I admit that I have had a drink with the Chief Whip. The House may find it surprising that, on occasions, I have even been known to buy the Chief Whip a drink. I welcome the reversion to the burden of proof. It is the most important condition in the rules.
My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary referred my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed), whom we thank for what he has done in the interim period to bring home to us the importance of this change. The 50 hon. Members who voted against the Bill or abstained under-estimated the importance of that. If I have to reinforce that view, I can do no better than to quote Opposition Members. I quote from the speech of the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook in the debate of 15 December, who said:
I believe that the Home Secretary's proposal will reduce rather than increase, the entry of husbands into this country".
I assume from that, and I am sure my interpretation is right, that these tougher rules are not only to apply to women who were not born in this country, but are to apply to—the House will approve of the fact that we should not discriminate against any one group—to women seeking to bring in husbands or fiancés, especially from the Indian subcontinent. The toughening of the rules in that respect makes them much stronger than the 1980 rules.
The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook concluded:
If the new requirement to provide information and the movement of the onus of proof is to have any effect, it will bear on a category of persons who were not previously affected".
That is exactly my interpretation.
I regret that the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) is not in the Chamber, because I also wish to quote him. He always takes a very active part in these debates. We know his record well, as did a former Prime Minister who once sought to remove him of a certain responsibility. I shall leave it to hon. Members to decide the grounds for his removal. Perhaps his speech of 15 December will tell us what they are:
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".—[Official Report, 15 December 1982; Vol. 34, c. 368–84.]
I am one of those it pleases. This condition is paramount to my acceptance of the rules. I see the hon. Member for Battersea, South (Mr. Dubs) sitting in his usual corner. On the basis of my view he will classify me as a racist. I am comforted by the knowledge that I am in good company, not just in the House but in the country, where the overwhelming majority of people support strict immigration control, especially in areas such as his where many of his constituents are without jobs.
An accusation was made about the Conservative party's election manifesto. It is true that the Government fulfilled only five of the eight commitments that were contained in the manifesto. A register was deemed impractical, but it can always be returned to. The word "quota" horrifies some people. I am not sure why it should. I shall not go to the stake simply on the use of the word "quota". By listening to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, I am reassured that the downward overall trend of immigration, as shown by the figures, will continue. By any standard, there must be phased immigration into this country—limiting numbers. I assume from that that some quota is operating. Those are my words. I do not ascribe them to anyone else. The overall control matters in this subject. It is described in common parlance as "the numbers game". The public are concerned about the overall total in any one year. I have no intention of allowing one aspect of immigration to let me lose sight of what I believe to be the principal objective in the Government's policy.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Fylde (Sir E. Gardner) talked about other compensating factors to ride any increase in this area where we have decided to make some movement. As I understand the British Nationality Act 1981 about 4·5 million people who previously thought that they had the right of abode no longer do so. They understand quite clearly under which of the three classes of citizenship they come. With my hon. Friend, I welcome this provision and the fact that children now born here whose parents have no right of abode will no longer automatically become British citizens.
From all the evidence that I have heard, it is reasonable to assume that any increase in immigration brought about by these changes in the rules will not result in an increase in the total number of people admitted into the United Kingdom. Hence the conclusion that any increase in one area will be more than compensated for by the declining numbers in other areas. I welcome some of the figures given by the Home Secretary in his speech.
There are one or two lessons to be learnt. With better presentation and more facts available we could have saved ourselves much anguish in the House during the past few weeks. Many fears could have been allayed if certain examples could have been given. In my area, many people believe that dependent relatives flow into this country in their thousands. Wives and children have already been referred to. The dependent relatives about whom I am talking are parents, elderly grandparents and children aged over 18. Many people outside the Chamber believe that immigration from the Indian subcontinent is still enormous. Last year the figure in that category was 600. I have spent 34 years of my political life in areas where immigration has been and remains a problem, such as in Dewsbury, Huddersfield and Shipley. I wish to see those genuine fears removed. A more open approach from the Home Office is needed to achieve that, and I look forward to that happening. I gathered from the opening speech of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary that that lesson has been learnt.
For all the reasons that I have put forward, it is my conclusion that it is my duty to support the Government tonight. I draw particular comfort from the response of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 8 February 1983, when she said:
The Government remain committed to strict immigration control and immigration policy will be subject to continuous re-examination in the light of changing circumstances in order to achieve that objective."—[Official Report, 8 February 1983; Vol. 36, c. 880.]
There is considerable interest in this matter in my constituency. I have had a fair amount of experience of it in the time that I have been a Member of the House. I served on the former Race Relations and Immigration Select Committee for almost nine years. In the past 10 years I must have been engaged professionally in dozens of immigration appeal cases, before either the adjudicator or the appeal tribunal. I have seen the operation of the entry certificate procedure in the Asian subcontinent on various occasions.
As I have said previously in the House, I do not accept the criticism that is levelled against entry certificate officers and immigration officers. There are occasions, obviously, when one wonders how they came to their decisions. But, by and large, it must be said that they have a difficult task to perform, and, by and large, we must be grateful for the way in which they carry out their duties. It is unfair to lambast all entry clearance and immigration officers for not carrying out their duties fairly and properly.
From my experience of such matters, I wonder how much difference the change of words in the rules—from "reason to believe" to having to be "satisfied"—will make. As anyone who reads adjudicators' reports will know, the onus of proof regularly falls upon the appellant. Adjudicators may say, "I am not sure about this case," but the onus is on the appellant. I say to the Home Secretary and to those who are convinced that they should follow him into the Lobby tonight that I do not expect the change to be great.
Conservative Members have asked whether a man seeking to come to Britain is coming here for the purpose of getting a job. The question is asked, "Why does not your wife or your fiancee go to live in India or Pakistan?" Those questions are put today by the entry clearance officer when the application is made. The girl who lives in Britain is interviewed by immigration officers and she is always asked whether, bearing in mind her cultural background, she should not live in India or Pakistan with her husband-to-be. According to the answers that they receive in India, Pakistan or here, at the end of the day the entry clearance officer will grant the certificate.
We hear a great deal about cases where entry certificates are not granted, but we do not hear much about the numbers that go through without difficulty. I say that because of my experience. If it were intended to make one change in our immigration rules, the change that I would wish deals with one-parent families, because there is undoubtedly great unfairness. It is sad to realise that a husband and wife—a mother and father—can live in this country without having contributed to the upkeep of their child abroad in any way, but as long as that child is under 18 years of age he can come to Britain. However, if the parents have separated—it often happens in West Indian families—and only the mother is in this country and she supported the child, she may ask for the child to come here. Before the child can enter the country she must show that she has had sole responsibility for it.
The question is then asked, "Who has been looking after the child while you have been in the United Kingdom?" Invariably, the answer is the grandmother. She is then told, "You do not have sole responsibility for the child." When that rule was first brought in, it was intended to apply to parents, where one parent had sole responsibility for the child, but a wider interpretation has been placed upon it. A mother who lives in this country and who has contributed for a long time to the upkeep of her child cannot bring him here.
From my experience of the way in which investigations are carried out, I must say to the rebels, as we hear them called, who are following the Home Secretary into the Lobby tonight that they have been easily satisfied.
I am sorry to find myself opposed to the Government on this issue. It is a matter of principle and honour and I have no choice but to oppose the Government and to vote for this motion. I am especially sad to have to do so because this Government are the best of my political life. The coming to power of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and her Administration in May 1979 was the best thing that had happened to the people of Britain for many years. She has brought to the conduct of national affairs a grip, an assurance and a determination to achieve stated objectives that the public finds refreshing and for which she has been rightly rewarded in popularity. But, unfortunately, that quality of determination and continuity of policy does not apply throughout the range of Government responsibilities. The Government's firm grip on economic policy, for example, can be contrasted with their handling of immigration, which has been flabby.
With most hon. Members, I am an admirer of the political qualities of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, especially of the way in which he carries out his duties as deputy leader of the Government. I do not wish anything that I say to be construed as personal criticism of him, but he is responsible for our immigration policy and on many occasions he has been wrong. There is not one positive statement of policy on immigration by the Government that has not been abandoned subsequently. When we came to power we made three promises in our manifesto. One was to institute a register of eligible dependants of immigrants already here. The second was to introduce an overall system of quotas so that the rate of entry of immigrants in future could be adjusted to the capacity of the country to absorb them. Thirdly, we said that we would not allow foreign husbands to have the absolute right of entry and settlement in this country. Those promises were made in the manifesto. The Government were elected on those promises and the electorate expected the Government to carry them out. However, the first two were abandoned almost immediately and we heard nothing more about them. The third was first watered down, was then implemented and is now being abandoned.
That fumbling in immigration policy has a parallel in the reform of our nationality law. When the British Nationality Bill came before the House, one of its main provisions was that the transmission of citizenship abroad should be limited to people born to parents who were themselves born in Britain. On Second Reading my right hon. Friend strongly defended that provision. So did the rest of us in the Conservative party. Yet the Division on Second Reading had hardly been counted before my right hon. Friend abandoned that provision. If formal pledges of a firm immigration policy such as these can be abandoned and cast aside so soon, what faith can we put in mere words such as we have been offered today by my right hon. Friend?
One of the Government's many failures on immigration policy has been their failure to prepare the country for their abandonment of a manifesto commitment, not to speak of the Government's supporters in the country. Even now, I have heard no adequate explanation for the casting aside of solemn promises that were made during the general election campaign. We have heard, of course, that the change is necessary to bring our immigration rales into line with the principles of the British Nationality Act 1981, but nothing was said during the passage of that Act about a change of this significance. If, indeed, the principles of the British Nationality Act 1981, especially the concept of equality and the exclusive rights of British citizens in future, were to be the model, why have the Government refused to amend our electoral law? Would it not be correct now to restrict the vote in Britain to British citizens and to exclude people who are not British citizens? There are other people who say that the explanation for the change is the European convention on human rights. No country in Europe gives an absolute right of entry to foreign husbands. I quote:
My understanding is that France admits husbands only if special considerations render their exclusion undesirable. West Germany does not permit the entry of fiancés. … In Sweden husbands are allowed to join their wives there only if they have lived together for some time. Switzerland has no right of entry for husbands."—[Official Report, 10 March 1980; Vol. 19, c. 1028.]
Those were the words of my right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development, then the Minister of State, Home Office. There has been no real justification for the change that has been made.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for drawing my attention to that significant fact. The pusillanimity of the Government in facing possible collision with the European Commission is deplorable.
There is no justification for the change and no excuse for contradicting an election pledge. My right hon. Friend needlessly revived controversy about immigration control and reopened old wounds in his party. He will derive no comfort this evening from seeing in his Division Lobby colleagues who only two months ago rejected an almost identical set of immigration rules. Nevertheless, they will be voting for them tonight. It will be a pyrrhic victory.
People in Britain are worried not so much about the numbers of any category as about overall numbers. They are still far too high. My right hon. Friend could do something about that. He could implement one of the manifesto commitments. He could impose a quota. Is there anything so wrong in principle about implementing a quota that appeared to be right to the party leadership when such a promise was inserted in the manifesto? Why is it not equally right now? The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East, (Mr. Callaghan) has a reputation for seeking party advantage, but he did not hesitate to put the interests of the nation first in 1968 when he was faced with the threat of an influx of Asians from east Africa who had United Kingdom passports. He told them that they could keep their rights but that they must get into a queue so that they could be admitted as and when Britain could absorb them peacefully. He set the quota for admission from that queue very low—only 1,500 vouchers a year. It was typical of a later Conservative Government that that figure was doubled. My right hon. Friend should take a leaf out of the book of the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East in that respect if in no other.
I am well aware that on this issue, I and others like me will be accused by Opposition Members of being racist. If they do that, it shows just how stupid they are and how weak their arguments must be if they must resort to such a smear. In reality, the issue is not about race. No civilised and tolerant society in the world can absorb millions of people who have a different language, religion and custom over a shortish time without suffering considerable harm. It is a deception of the British public to pretend that we have not suffered acute social friction as a result of the large number of immigrants that have been brought into Britain in the past few years. There has been a great deal of unhappiness and misery among individuals in both the host and immigrant communities, especially in the poorer areas, most of which are represented by hon. Members on the Opposition Benches.
It is not immoral to say that because of these ills we should not increase the number of people coming into this country and should not open fresh doors or create new categories of entry. The long-suffering British people should not be asked to grant rights to any more to come in nor to welcome them nor to give them homes and jobs, particularly in the prevailing economic circumstances.
My hon. Friend is quite right. What one must always remember is that the British people were never asked whether such numbers were acceptable. Part of the antagonism towards the immigration policies of both parties has stemmed from the fact that the people themselves have never been consulted or been able to give their opinions on the vast numbers who have arrived on our shores.
I fully accept what my hon. Friend has just said. The people of this country are entitled to expect the Government to protect them against such ills. It is in that respect that my right hon. Friend and his predecessors have let the country down because they never took the actions that should have been taken to protect the country against the ills we have suffered through excessive immigration. If only the Government would promise that in future they will admit immigrants only at a rate at which they can be absorbed peacefully then I would be with them in their Lobby tonight. However, as I understand the words already used, they are not doing that. I shall therefore censure them for their folly and vote in favour of this motion.
I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook). I understand the difficulties tormenting him tonight, but my contribution will reveal a totally opposite point of view. I do not call him racist. I call him exceedingly muddled and I shall try to show him why most reasonable Tories in this country favour a family policy in immigration and family rights, for that is what this debate is about. It is not possible for a race relations Minister, in particular, to visit the immigrant community in Britain, and to talk about the principles of the Tory party in this regard, and then to carry through policies which are opposed to this concept of family rights.
I address my remarks directly to the new Minister responsible for immigration and race relations, because after this debate not only will he have the task of overseeing the application of the new rules; he will also have the job of going round the country to explain to immigrant communities, in particular, that the Tory party has not abandoned its principles.
It will surprise no one to learn that I do not share the views of the hon. Member for Orpington about the Prime Minister. Asian and other women say to me that they find it uncanny that a woman Prime Minister should preside overe a Government who attack women's rights in regard to equality of the sexes in the matter of choice of partner and country of residence.
I have tried to explain to the Home Secretary in interventions in the debate that the marriage system, as it has been described by hon. Members tonight, is a fading system. The number of girls of Asian origin in this country who choose their partners from overseas will neither grow nor even remain at the present level. They discuss these matters very openly with me in Southall. I am aware of the number of marriages that break down within one year or two, and I expect that the Home Office is aware of it, too. It was only in the previous debate that we were given figures on this. Because a number of these cases are brought to my attention and a girl has said, throwing a passport on the table, "He's no good, send him back," I had thought that the number was growing tremendously, but apparently it is not. I think that the figure given was 150, which has to be set against the 2,000 admissions of one particular year.
Therefore, if one took into consideration the balance—a favourite word of adjudicators—of probabilities on the success of marriages, it is not a large number compared with the whole if we consider the marriage system to which we have been accustomed in our country. I know of many successful marriages that originated in the arranged system.
Hon. Members have shown in many cases a genuine concern about the numbers of people involved. Quite rightly, there has always been national concern about figures, but, over and above it, has been the question of principles, the question of civil rights.
That is what the Government are seeking to meet. At the conclusion of our last debate, I abstained from voting—I should like the Minister responsible for immigration to understand this—because I could see the progressive change in the content, in the sense of according to the woman not born in this country but a British citizen the same rights as are possessed by those who are born in this country. This country is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights. The European Court will uphold that convention and Britain, as a party to it, would inevitably have been found guilty if those cases had been processed by the court. So the Government are moving in concert, as it were, rather than in a regimented way because, as the hon. Member for Orpington has been at pains to point out, these applications of principles are very uneven in other EC countries.
However, the hon. Gentleman will find that, while he may point to examples of fiancés being excluded, the ban does not apply once the marriage has been achieved. At least, this was the case before the new rules, which are supposed to have prevailed since the last debate. That is the part I did not understand, I must confess. I did not realise that under the Immigration Act 1971 the new rules would have to apply until the Government came forward with their changes, which is what they are doing tonight; otherwise I would have been in the Opposition Lobby, too.
As I told many of the young women in my constituency who had been caught in the position of having been born outside this country but who have achieved citizenship, it was very important to me that they should achieve that change, and they are doing so under these rules. But there seems to be a need to try to placate hon. Members who, for various reasons, perhaps because of their constituents, made certain pledges at the last election. There is a genuine fear in parts of this country.
I do not believe that, taking the country as a whole, we are a multiracial society yet, but there is certainly a multiracial society in the London borough of Ealing. What has been left out of account in these debates is the friendships that have developed over many years. I take second place to no one in acknowledging the anguish and the difficulties caused by the coming of immigrant labour. First, it was recruitment of labour for a rubber factory on the Hayes-Southall border and then there was a shortage of labour in a period of full employment. I have never, in my speeches in the House, suggested that that did not bring headaches and tears when there were families, to whom the hon. Member has referred, who could not speak English and who had other difficulties. He must understand, however, that we now have not just the second generation but the third generation—the babies of the babies of those earlier immigrants. It is now a mixed culture and the next generation will be more British than many of the Britishers themselves.
I will give way in a moment. I wish to conclude this part of my speech. I am trying to bring a note of realism to the matter.
As I tried to show in my intervention to the Home Secretary, the fear is not of immigration in general but of Asian immigration in particular. We are all over 21 and we all know that that is so. There is a far looser attitude to the settlement of innumerable white immigrants who can prove lineage from a grandparent. I refer, for example, to New Zealand, Australia, Canada and what may be described as the old white dominions. Those people have an absolute right to come here under the present rules, although we tried to take the grandparents provision out of the report to which my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Wilson) referred. He mentioned his long service on the Select Committee in the last Parliament. Mine was the longest period of service of all—from 1968, after the sensation-mongering speeches of the then right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, now the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell). Just because the right hon. Gentleman, whom I call the Wolverhampton wanderer, made himself a star, that is no reason for his successor to imagine that he reaches his predecessor's shoulders intellectually or that he has to follow what is now becoming an antiquated racist attitude.
I am grateful for the gracious way in which the hon. Gentleman has given way. He referred earlier to mixed culture. I am sure that all of us who have large formerly immigrant communities in our constituencies are aware of that. Is it his impression from his own constituency that a growing proportion of girls of Asian background now reject the arranged marriage and wish to be able to choose their partners on the same basis as the rest of the indigenous population?
I thought that I had covered that point. I agree that that is so. Some arranged marriages are taking place between Southall and Birmingham, Coventry, Gravesend and so on within the Sikh culture. There are also mixed marriages of various cultural backgrounds because there is a mixed cultural connection in the schools. As the hon. Gentleman has said, there is a discernible revolt in the attitudes of the young women as they become involved in women's rights and the general climate in which the new generation of young women in this country assert their independence and the fact that they can earn a living independently in this country without being married at all. That has now dawned on them, and many of them now oppose not only arranged marriages but marriage in general. Naturally, that causes anxiety for parents who believe that it is their duty to pressure their daughters into marriages that they do not want. All that is perfectly true. It is a balancing act as to how long such arrangements will continue.
I hope that when the Minister applies his mind to the general questions, especially outside the House, he will take that very much into account. The Asian people are very intelligent. They have an above-average knowledge of international matters because originally they came from so far overseas. I have never envied the Minister or his predecessors of either party, as the task is not easy. The Minister has the ability to make exceptional rulings. I hope that he will approach those matters in the same spirit of openmindedness and with the facility that Ministers of both parties have shown. I hope that his appointment does not mean that there will be a weakening of that attitude when the cases are actually put under his nose and he has to go into them in depth from a human point of view and in relation to the family rights to which the Tory party so heavily subscribes.
I shall, of course, be voting against the rules in general today. The Asian people would be astonished if I did not. They will certainly be very depressed at the attitude of the Government today and especially that of Tory Back Benchers. The Minister responsible for immigration and race relations will have even greater difficulty in trying to justify the changes which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-East pointed out, have already prevailed for some time. That does not give the rules any more merit, but those of us who are deeply involved in these matters are only too well aware that they have applied for some time.
Although I did not take part in the last debate on this matter, I put this to the Home Secretary on a previous occasion and, to do him credit, he said that he would take very much on board the plight of single aged people overseas who have sons in this country. As a result of the cultural pattern the daughters may be scattered, so the widow or widower—mostly the widow—looks for succour to the sons but may not fit within the "wholly or mainly dependent" rule. It may be held that because the widow is living with in-laws or with some cousin she therefore has a close relative and her application to come here is therefore refused. Nevertheless, when an aged relative of 70 or 80 years of age comes to visit, I know of no case in which anyone in the Minister's shoes has said at the end of the year of visiting permission that the visitor must go back to India or Pakistan when it is known that the bulk of the family circle is here.
The hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Pitt), who led for the Liberals, also emphasised this. I hoped that the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Fox) was coming round to some progressive proposals on this as he, too, was a member of the Select Committee. I hoped that he was about to say that the plight of these old people should be re-examined because for the Asians it is now a matter not of two generations but of three. I hope that the Minister will apply his mind to this in a liberal fashion. Certainly the rules would allow him to do so in the majority of cases in which the bulk of the old person's offspring are living and earning in this country and thus able to look after the old folk without their being a burden on the state. Many of those offspring are now prospering. They are a credit to the British community and the British economy.
Conservative Members should get that into their brain boxes, but they do not seem to do so. They do not give the immigrant community the credit it deserves. There is a wing of the Tory party who seek to snuggle up to the Asian business people. As a result of this debate, I shall probably get another 2,000 on my already substantial majority. Many of those who have a leaning towards the Tory party in Luton and the other places in which so many Asian people live understand what is happening. They are not fools. They know what is going on in the House. It does not do us credit to put through rules like these.
They are lopsided. They are racist. They do not take into account the drive in Europe for equality of the sexes. They do not apply to relatives of white people who have an opportunity to come.
The Asian people will understand the regulations, and I doubt whether the hon. Member for Luton, West (Mr. Carlisle) will get a single vote if he gets his justice from the Asian community in Luton.
I am at last grateful to the hon. Member, who seems to have taken upon himself the right to speak for my constituents. Although I have deep respect for his knowledge on these matters, I suggest that I speak for them rather better than he does. To take him back to the question of aged entry, he said that successive Home Secretaries had showed compassion. That we all applaud. If I understood the hon. Member aright, and if we go down the road that he seems to be suggesting, whereby all old people—by definition there will be more and more aged relatives as people keep coming in—have the absolute right to come into the country, that would open another door for another wave of immigrants who would feel they had a right to come in. His surmise that the Asians in this country are standing on their own feet may be broadly correct, but he must appreciate that there are further down the social scale others whose aged relatives, if allowed to come in, would be a burden on the state and on taxpayers.
I cannot comprehend the hon. Gentleman, who must have gained some knowledge of the ways of Asian people. They understand unemployment. They are intelligent. They do not want to bring people from overseas to be a burden. They are conscious of the position here and they are fighting to keep their end up. I did not suggest that all the aged relatives should be allowed to come. I was talking about a case where the bulk of the family was here, or particularly the eldest son who had been working in Britain for many years and who was a credit to the British economy in all sorts of ways. That is generally the position of Asian people here. They came initially to do the dirty work that the white worker did not want to do, but they have moved on from that. They are go-getters for education.
If the hon. Gentleman knows anything about the Asian people, as he should do representing Luton, and has discussed their anxieties with them, he should understand these matters much better than he appears to do. I am not saying that there should be an automatic right for the older generation to come to Britain in all circumstances. I am prepared generally to rest on the rule that applied under the Labour Government. It did not say that they had an absolute right to come. If there is a close relationship with offspring in this country in such circumstances, if I were in the shoes of the immigration Minister, in view of the small figures which we have been given, I would be compassionate in my approach. I hope that a civilised Tory in Luton would approach the matter in a similar way.
As one of the rebels in December and one of the diehards this evening I owe it to my constituency and to the House to explain my reasoning. It is indeed a fact that the Conservative Government came to power in 1979 with one of the major planks in their manifesto being the promise to close the loophole created by the Labour Government over the entry of male fiancés and husbands. We closed that loophole and it has given me no pleasure to listen to all the speeches in December and this evening from the Government Benches explaining why, perhaps to meet a requirement in the British Nationality Act 1981, as mentioned by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Fylde (Sir E. Gardner), we need to bring in these rules.
With all the knowledge and background that our party and Government possess, surely we could have come up with a British Nationality Act which would have meant that there was no need for sexism or racism. Surely this evening we could have been making sure that we removed the loophole for ever and a day.
At a time of difficulty in the economic scene the people in Lancashire and in the north-west do not want further immigration. What is more, those who are here as immigrants do not want further immigration. It is perhaps the pulling up of the rope ladder effect, but they realise that their livelihood depends upon firmly controlled immigration. They want to see the economy expand. They want more jobs in the north-west and in my constituency at Chorley. They realise that this will come about only if we tighten the rules and do not loosen them.
In the newspapers and on local radio it has been difficult to get the message across as one of the rebels or diehards. So often we hear that the Government are bringing in new immigration controls. The ordinary layman in the street thinks that these are rules to tighten up on immigration, because that was one of the planks on which we won the last election. So it is incumbent upon the rebels and the diehards to explain our reasons and to make it clear to the country and to our constituents that we want less immigration. That is why we shall be voting in support of the motion and against the new rules.
Earlier we got from the Home Secretary the impression that he was introducing further safeguards. He also tried to say that we have no intention of going against our 1979 election manifesto commitment and that we would not reintroduce the loophole. But that is exactly what will happen if the Government get their way.
We heard the figure of 2,500 or 3,000 bandied about. The impression was given that that was the sum total of those applying to come in. But that is the estimated figure per year in the official statistics for those who want to come here in the category of fiancés and husbands. After their entry there would be their dependants and the dependants of those dependants and so on. We do not want these rules. Why should the rebels of December 1982 vote in support of the Government this evening? We have before us looser regulations, which will give rise to higher immigration.
I praise the Government for having brought the figures down so far, although much of that is perhaps due to the difficult economic position and the world recession. Surely the Government cannot object to hon. Members such as myself, who believe that we should honour our manifesto commitment and work in conjuction with the wishes of our constituents. That is why I shall be voting for the motion.
It has not been a pretty sight to see the Home Secretary and some of his Back Benchers twisting and turning on this issue since the time when the first draft of the immigration rules was introduced towards the end of last year. The first set of rules was objectionable to me and my hon. Friends and, I think, to all hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House. Since then the Home Secretary has responded to the roasting that he got from some sections of his Back Benchers by tightening the rules and making them more restrictive and discriminatory. In the third draft he has twisted and turned again and has gone back slightly towards the original draft that he sought to introduce.
It has not been a pretty sight because, as the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) said, all this would have been unnecessary if the Conservative party and its deputy leader, the Home Secretary, had been firmer and, if I may say so, slightly more honest before the general election in the commitments that were made.
The register was one of the commitments set out in the manifesto. A Select Committee and the Home Office had considered in great depth establishing a register of dependants. There was a great debate about it and it was palpably obvious to anyone who studied the facts that it would be impracticable to introduce a register and that the scheme would not work. It is because the leadership of the Conservative party was not prepared to do what it should have done that it finds itself hooked on the commitments in its manifesto and on the problems surrounding the immigration rules. It need not have been so hooked if it had confronted and refuted the racialist sentiments that were flowing in the country at the time of the election. Those sentiments are less conspicuous now but they still lie beneath the surface. The Conservative party should have confronted and refuted those sentiments by pointing to the facts.
In recent years primary immigration has ended—
It is dependants who are coming into Britain. We are having this great debate about male fiancés and husbands entering the country but there is evidence that, increasingly, young people, especially from the Asian community, will not be looking to the Asian subcontinent for their husbands and fiancés as time goes by.
It appears that beneath the surface there is some antagonism towards the arranged marriage. That custom is also breaking down as young people in the Asian community gradually become more used to the culture in which they are living and reject the attitudes and processes of their mother country and of their parents. This will happen because they have been brought up in Britain and more and more adopt the attitudes of this country.
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that many Asian girls are forced into arranged marriages by their parents, and that this occurs particularly because of the financial advantage to the parents of such a marriage? If we stop the arranged marriage in substance, we may be doing a great kindness to many Asian girls who are increasingly taking on the culture of Britain.
It never ceases to amaze me that hon. Members who represent areas with large immigrant populations display such apparent ignorance of the culture of the people that they talk about. Most people in the Asian community would find the hon. Gentleman's remarks grossly offensive.
The system that he has described is a well-established fact. It is a well-established procedure in the subcontinent and is not misused and abused in the way that he suggests.
It is not misused or abused to any substantial extent. If he considers the evidence, as I suggest he and his colleagues should, he will find that it is not as he suggests. The issue has been investigated by a Select Committee and by others in great detail and with great care. The hon. Gentleman will find that the facts refute his suggestions.
For example, in the two years to March 1979 the number of marriages of convenience found by immigration officers was 156. There was a total of 356 refusals of entry in those two years. If we consider the number of foreign nationals coming into Britain, either men accepted for settlement on removal of the time limit because of marriage or fiancés given leave to enter for the purpose of marriage, and discount the fact that some of them came here to work or for other reasons and then met someone here and applied to stay because they had married in this country, we find that the figures are not on the scale that Conservative Members suggest.
The leadership of the Conservative party should have drawn the figures to the attention of the electorate before the 1979 election and not pandered to the racialist sentiments that were flowing strongly at that time. Although they have ebbed to some extent, they still lie beneath the surface.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for allowing me to intervene. He is always scrupulously fair in what he says and decides in the House. May I draw his attention to a case that I raised earlier in the House? It concerned a British woman who, the police said, had married at least 80 times because of the extremely large financial inducements that were offered to her. She had done it partly by disguising herself and always by using different names. The case is on the record. It is only one case but does it not prove that financial incentives to circumvent the rules are extremely powerful?
If the case to which the hon. Lady refers is true, I hope that the lady concerned was punished. I hope that action was taken against all those concerned to ensure that justice was applied in the case and that others were deterred by that action. However, one cannot generalise on the basis of one case of that sort and say that thousands of others, as is implied and stated by others, are similarly abusing the system.
I know of no evidence—I shall be interested to hear whether the Minister can offer any when he replies—to show that cases of the sort to which the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight) has referred are rampant and giving rise to a massive influx of immigrants. The Home Office figures, the investigations of the Select Committee and the investigations of others who have taken a great interest in these issues do not suggest that that is happening. There has been gross exaggeration.
I guess that it is unlikely that the changes that are being made in the immigration rules—which I consider to be objectionable in principle, which is why my right hon. and hon. Friends and I will be voting against them tonight—will make a substantial difference to the number of people entering Britain. The window-dressing that is satisfying the consciences of some Conservative Members who will support the Government tonight, although they did not in December, will be proved to be misleading and wrong. The rules that are being introduced will not make a substantial difference to the number of people entering the country. That is why some Conservative Members will not support the Government tonight.
My position and that of my party is that the rules as they stand are discriminatory on the grounds of race and sex and, therefore, should be opposed. It seems highly likely that they will fall foul in due course of the European convention on human rights and that they will have to be changed again. I hope that before that arises a new Government will have changed them willingly to bring them in line with the convention.
The most objectionable feature about the latest change is the retention of the burden of proof on the couple. Mention has been made of the impact that the rules will have upon family life. It is interesting to note the difference of view between the two sides of the House. I am puzzled by the attitudes expressed by Conservative Members who represent areas such as Luton and the midlands because they must come across the same cases that come to the attention of myself and others. My right hon. and hon. Friends and I are concerned about those whose families are split up, whose family lives are being disrupted and who are being caused a great deal of heartache and upset by the imposition of the rules. We want to help the people who are living in those circumstances, make their lives easier and bring more family harmony by allowing families to be united and by allowing marriages to take place on a basis of equality, which the rules will not permit.
I plead with Conservative Members to think about the impact of the rules upon family life. If the burden of proof remains as it is in the new set of immigration rules, it will mean a subjective decision by an immigration officer on the relationship between the two people who are married or about to get married. It means prying into the most personal details of the relationship in a most objectionable way. I am sure that Conservative Members would find it objectionable if members of their family were asked about intimate and personal details of their relationships. Therefore, I hope that Conservative Members will think about that aspect of family life being interrupted and damaged, and will think again before they vote for the Government's proposals.
The hon. Gentleman chastised my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight) for giving an example that he thought was not general. I could refer in the same way to the destruction that he says will occur in family life. The picture that he painted made it look as if it would occur in every Asian family. He knows that that is nonsense. I remind him that any form of immigration into this country is voluntary. Any country that one wishes to enter has rules of some sort. The final decision is taken by those who wish to enter. If they do not like the rules or the country to which they intend to go, there is no reason for them to go there.
The hon. Gentleman has just illustrated the difference of opinion between Conservative Members and Opposition Members on these matters.
Some of us look at the history, not only of this country but of Europe and the world, and see that one of the greatest dangers and one of the most damaging things has been nationalism in all its forms. Beneath the surface of much that has been said by Conservative Members there is that feeling of nationalism, that has done so much damage in the past. Some of us see friends and neighbours not only in Europe but right round the world as members of one community, with whom we want the maximum contact, and co-operation. People should be able to move around the world as freely as possible. We take a fundamentally different view of foreigners and access to one another's countries.
It is more important in times of economic difficulty that we sustain that belief, try to bring about much closer relationships between different countries and do not put up barriers, not only to trade, but to people. The rules, in their length and complexity, are barriers to people moving around and learning more about one another and one another's cultures. Nothing has illustrated that better than the differences of opinion about arranged marriages, the implications and the misunderstandings that have occurred as a result. Conservative Members have talked about the impossibility of people of one culture living within another culture. If that is their attitude, there is little hope for the future of Europe and the world. People should be prepared to learn to live with other coloured faces and other cultures. That is the fundamental difference between the Conservative rebels and many of us in the rest of the House.
That fundamental difference will drive some of us on the Opposition Benches to vote against the rules. If we could have a secret ballot in which the record of how hon. Members voted was not known—not only on this issue but on many others—some Conservative Members would back the same view as us. The Government would have had a majority for their original immigration rules and not this squalid set of rules, which I hope will be defeated.
Will my hon. Friend note that, in spite of their much vaunted concern about these matters, only three Labour Members are present for this extremely important debate?
I note my hon. Friend's point. There have been a number of contributions from Opposition Benches. I do not think that my hon. Friend would disagree with them. However, there is a notable absence of Opposition Members at the moment. I hope that the Chamber fills up before the debate is over.
I am one of a number of hon. Members who is not having a happy day. It is the third agonising day that we have had on this thorny subject. I fear that it will not be the last. What we are doing today will lead to endless scrutiny. There will be parliamentary questions, early-day motions, debates and Adjournment applications as we look and look again at the results of what we are doing tonight.
The Home Secretary said that the numbers of people entering Britain were declining. However, he did not give us any figures. No clear statement was made that the numbers were X thousand a few years ago and now are only Y thousand. It would have been helpful to some of us to have a little more information to back up the general supposition—I am sure that if the Home Secretary says it, it must be right—that the numbers of people entering Britain are declining. But some figures would have been comforting.
I must tell the Home Secretary about my worries about the new rules, why I previously voted against them and what I feel now. I accept what he said about the numbers declining, yet it is true that about 30,000 extra people came into Britain last year. I shall not apologise to the hon. Member for Thornaby (Mr. Wrigglesworth) or anyone else for my concern about the numbers—not the colour, which has nothing to do with it—of people entering this country. Can any of us deny that we have enormous problems? We do not have enough jobs, homes, hospital beds or schools for our own people. In many parts of the country we suffer from great difficulties because of the shortage of all those things.
I do not know what sort of cloud-cuckoo-land some Social Democratic party Members live in. If they think that Britain is an elastic citadel that can go on and on taking in more people, I warmly invite them to visit parts of the west midlands. They will see the problems of sheer numbers there. That has nothing to do with colour.
The important thing about the numbers of people who are still entering Britain is that by and large they have not been contenders for jobs. They have been old people, the parents or grandparents of the people who are already here. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is well aware that on many occasions I have personally pursued the case of an elderly person who is a relative of one of my constituents, who wishes to join the rest of his family because no other relatives are left in the country of origin. I would help anyone in those circumstances. I recognise that it is immensely important always to be compassionate.
The people who have been coming into the country have not been looking for jobs. Tonight we are making sure that the new source of primary immigration to Britain will be all young men, who will be seeking jobs. They will take on responsibilities, riot only for those whom they marry, but ultimately for their children. They will be looking for jobs. They will not find them in Birmingham. That is what worries me more than anything. It has absolutely nothing to do with colour. There are not enough jobs to go round in my area.
Unemployment is a serious problem and we are proposing to allow in X more young men looking for jobs. Some hon. Members have told me that they do not have an unemployment problem, but there is no use saying that in my area. Young men coming to marry girls will not be going to the constituencies of my hon. Friends. They will not be going to where the grass is green and there are no problems. They will be coming to Birmingham, Southall, Wolverhampton or Luton because that is where people from the Indian subcontinent are concentrated.
I am not saying that there is anything wrong with that, but we should be realistic about what we are doing. It is inevitable that this flood, trickle or handful—whatever it may be—of young men will go to areas where there are no jobs. I am sorry that I have wholly failed to make my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary understand the depth of my anxiety about unemployment, let alone get him to do anything about it. I have tried to explain to t House and my constituents that my problem when facing this difficult business is my knowledge that there are no jobs available for these young men. It should be possible to make it a condition that these young men had a job to go to which had been perhaps advertised locally and found impossible to fill. Let anyone try to enter Australia without a job. Marrying until he is blue in the face will not help a man unless he has a job.
I am not so worried about abuse of the system. As I told the hon. Member for Thornaby earlier, I raised a matter that was a scandal at the time. It was one of a number of similar cases and it was dealt with. I am worried about the principle we are pursuing. The rules say:
Entry clearance will be refused unless the entry clearance officer is satisfied: (a) that it is not the primary purpose of the intended marriage to obtain admission to the United Kingdom.
I do not know how the entry clearance officer will discover that. The marriage may be perfectly legal within the arranged marriage system. That is not at issue. It will be difficult to prove that the primary purpose of the intended marriage is to obtain admission to this country. The entry clearance officer must decade whether to give approval.
He has to be satisfied that the parties to the marriage intend to live together permanently as man and wife. I hope that they will, but I am not worried about that. I am worried about the young man marrying a girl, living with her and having children, in an area where there are no jobs.
It is easy to overcome the provision relating to the purpose of the proposed marriage. No one is likely to feel that that is an insurmountable burden or that it will keep people out.
Much has been said this evening about arranged marriages: the way we arrange marriages and the way they are arranged on the Indian subcontinent. Arranged marriages are probably a jolly sight more firm and likely to last than those based on a clap of thunder, a peal of bells and falling in love. We are talking about a culture that for hundreds of years has had a system of arranging marriages. In many instances the fact that the two families have similar backgrounds, and that the parents know one another, has proved an invaluable basis for a good marriage. We are not talking about keeping one starry-eyed youngster away from another with whom he or she is in love. If we were, it would be reasonable to suppose that many more people would cease to marry as a result of arranged marriages in the future. However, at the moment many marriages are contracted in the Indian subcontinent and among immigrants from that area in the time-honoured way.
We shall be making it easier for such people, although it would be possible for them to marry someone in this country, because there are people here on whom their eyes could alight. It is no good the hon. Member for Thornaby saying, as he did earlier, that it was a scandal to suggest that money might have anything to do with it. Money has a great deal to do with nearly everything. It is a sad but cynical fact that one realises as one goes through life. The House will be saying to people, "You may make an arranged marriage. There is nothing on earth to stop you having a normal arranged marriage where money changes hands," because money is short. We have had a great deal of evidence of arranged marriages taking place because money has changed hands. I am not presuming to judge; I am saying that those are the facts.
I find myself torn in two on this issue. Since I came into the House, it has always seemed to me that my first duty must be to my constituents who sent me here to uphold and further their interests, to voice their fears and help them all I can. I am not convinced that I shall carry out this duty if I vote in favour of the rules. My second duty is loyalty to my party and, perhaps, to give the benefit of the doubt to its spokesman.
We are told that the Government are aware of public feeling on the matter. I am delighted to hear that, but I should hardly have thought otherwise. There are some hon. Members who do not seem to understand the position. Immigrants themselves are frequently more aware than anyone else of the dangers facing them if more and more immigrants enter the country.
I spent some three years on the Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration. I learnt that immigrants feel that they are under threat and that if we cannot protect them and we allow more and more people into the country, they will be the first to suffer. I am impressed by the fact that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary confirmed this afternoon that the Government were committed to strict immigration control. He also made it clear that the Government appreciate the need to keep the problem under constant scrutiny. We are told that the whole trouble arises because of the British Nationality Act, which has not only clarified the immigrant problem, but has reduced immigration to Britain. I accept that. There is also the sex equality argument, that if a man is able to marry whom he chooses, wherever she may live, then a woman should have that right as well. That is a strong argument.
There are two opposing points of view. I must do my duty to my constituents—I cannot support the rules. However, I am loyal to my Government, and I shall not oppose them. Nevertheless, I am very worried about the possible consequences of our actions tonight.
The speeches of Back-Bench Conservative Members show that their concern is about the numbers involved. Few, if any of them, have given any thought to the effects of the rules on people. Anybody listening to them would hardly know that we already have extremely tight immigration controls, the effect of which is to keep husbands and wives apart, children away from their parents and elderly parents from joining their children in this country.
The hon. Gentleman is using the same old hoary fallacy about keeping husbands and wives apart. It is true that in certain circumstances a husband may not be able to join a wife here or a wife a husband, but in most of those cases there is nothing to prevent them from joining together in the other country where the husband or wife may reside. Nobody is keeping anybody apart, and the hon. Gentleman does nobody a service, and he does the debate and the clarity of the argument no service, by bringing this hoary old fallacy before the House again.
I am sorry that I gave way because the hon. Gentleman is repeating the point that he has already made on countless occasions.
The effect of our immigration rules is to keep families apart. Normally one would expect families to have the choice as to where they go, but those who choose to unite here are being kept apart by the workings of our immigration rules.
Furthermore, the reality behind the debate concerns United Kingdom passport holders, as they were before the British Nationality Act came into force, normally called east African Asians, who were given promises by successive British Governments of both parties that they would be allowed to come to this country and who year after year wait to get their entry certificate or voucher to come here. That is the reality and that is the effect of the immigration rules and Acts upon people. It is damaging to them and it affects their family life. That is why I listened with alarm to the point made by Conservative Members who are simply concerned to measure the effect on numbers and did not pause to think of the effect of the rules on individuals, on lives and on human relationships.
Other Conservative Members talked about election pledges and the Conservative election manifesto, but, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) said, what about all the other election promises on which the Government reneged—promises on law and order, unemployment, and keeping the family together? Not much thought is given to those election promises and the Conservative Members have picked on one point in the manifesto and complained that the Government are not doing what they promised to do. However, Conservative Members have forgotten about the other promises on which they were elected.
I have watched with interest and concern what has been happening since the White Paper on immigration rules was
debated last November. We have had a shabby spectacle of an unseemly bartering for votes so that the Government can scrape through. To quote the hon. Member for Basildon (Mr. Proctor) in The Guardian today,
The modern techniques of the parliamentary thumb-screw are many and varied—a whisky here, a trip to the Far East there, the friendly chat, the unfriendly chat, appeals to party loyalty—these are the stock in trade of the politicians.
That refers to what has been happening in the Conservative party over recent weeks. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) objects to these things, why does he not address his criticism to his hon. Friend the Member for Basildon who made these points? I am entitled to quote them. [Interruption.] If the hon. Gentleman wishes to say something, why does he not stand up and say it instead of muttering at me from a sedentary position?
It is legitimate for people to ask, in the country and on these Benches, what is the deal that has persuaded some Conservative Members who voted against the Government last time not to do so this time. One finds no concessions in the rules that would make them change their position from what it was only a few short weeks ago. The only reason I can find is that the election is that much nearer this time than it was when we last debated the immigration rules. If that is not the reason, I can only assume that some other deal has been struck about which we do not know, but about which we are entitled to know. This has been a shabby and unedifying spectacle and it is no wonder that the Conservative Benches in the early part of the debate were full of shame-faced hon. Members who did not know how to react to the criticisms from the Opposition Front Benches.
Our main anxiety about the changes that have been introduced in the past three years concerns the onus of proof. This affects all women, whether or not they were born in this country, provided that they are British citizens. I cannot help feeling that this is a sorry step for the Government to have taken. Marriages will be subjected to this scrutiny and snooping, because how else will the immigration officers decide whether they are satisfied that the marriage is working according to the immigration rules? It will mean snooping—I do not see that there will be any other way. Snooping will lead to an increase in the number of representations that are made to Ministers at the Home Office, because many of us will be approached by our constituents who if they have managed to get to this country and marry, will object to this scrutiny. On occasions, the Home Office officials may not feel satisfied and will make further representations to us.
In passing, as an hon. Member who has made many representations to the Minister of State, I feel that the unfailing courtesy of the officials who work in the Minister's office should be commended. They have to apply a miserable system that is not of their making. I appreciate the courtesy with which they respond to telephone calls and representations.
Another aspect that concerns me is the fact that delay will have a damaging effect on individuals. I quote the example of a United Kingdom passport family waiting for their vouchers to come to this country, living in the Gujarat province north of Bombay, who applied for a quota voucher. At the present rate of progress, it will take about six years before such a quota voucher is granted. That means that in about 1989 the family might be allowed to come here. Five years later, they will be allowed to apply for British citizenship, and in a year or two that citizenship may be granted. Only at that point could the fiancé of one of the women in that family apply for an entry certificate to come here to join his fiancée and get married. Fifteen or 16 years could elapse before a United Kingdom passport holder woman living in Gujarat province could marry what at that time was the boy next door. There may be long and intolerable delays before such a marriage can take place, and that is wrong in principle.
Another matter to which the Home Secretary referred earlier concerns the basic position of United Kingdom passport holders and the very limited quota per year that is allowed to them. I understand that 600 quota vouchers per year are issued to families. At the present rate of progress, that can mean waiting up to six years before reaching the top of the queue to come to this country.
The Sub-committee on Race Relations and Immigration of the Home Affairs Select Committee, of which I am a member, looked at all these procedures. We looked at the entry certificate procedures in Bangladesh, and we looked at the position of United Kingdom passport holders in Gujarat province. We decided that the process should be speeded up. It was most disappointing that the Home Secretary decided not to meet any of our main recommendations, particularly from a Conservative point of view, because, if those recommendations had been met, there would have been no overall increase in the numbers coming here, except in the year or two after such a change was made. In the meantime, people are waiting for their quota vouchers and for a British Government to meet promises that were made many years ago.
I want to refer to two other items of particular concern in these rules. Occasionally the wife of a man living here who does not have an entry certificate arrives here and wants to stay. Even if the lady is pregnant, she is obliged to return to the country from which she came, apply for an entry certificate and then come all the way back to England. In my opinion, that is unreasonable. It is an unreasonble application of the immigration rules. In the case that I have in mind, the Home Office allowed the lady to stay here and have her baby, but she then returned and had to apply to return to this country. In my opinion, that is quite unreasonable, because it is perfectly obvious that the entry certificate will be granted in the British high commission in the Asian subcontinent, or wherever it is.
My final worry concerns elderly dependants, about whom a number of hon. Members have spoken. The immigration rules, as they are now, and as they have been for several years since we debated them and changed them early in the life of this Conservative Government, have imposed very tight controls on elderly dependants who in their declining years wish to join their adult children in this country. They have to pass through a mesh so fine that few of them succeed in getting here. The conditions imposed by the immigration rules are totally unreasonable, and it is an exceptional elderly parent, living, say, on the Asian subcontinent, who does not have some other relative on the Asian subcontinent, and the existence of another relative virtually prevents parents from joining their children here. The numbers are not large, but the principle is important.
That is yet another aspect of the immigration rules which has existed for several years and which has unhappy consequences on individuals. I meet distressed people in my constituency who would like to support their elderly parents in their declining years as part of a united family but are prevented from doing so by the immigration rules, a further instalment of which we are discussing tonight.
Conservative Members have said that the British public simply want immigration controls as a stop on the numbers. The implication that has run through their speeches is that this applies only to people who are not white. That has been the tenor of their speeches this evening, although some hon. Members may deny that they have said anything quite as specific as that. However, that is the effect. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight) said that she was not concerned about the colour of the skin of individuals, only about the numbers. However, the total flows of population into and out of the United Kingdom show that, if anything, there has been a net outflow over recent years. Therefore, the hon. Lady's point hardly applies.
If the hon. Gentleman cared to have a look at the west midlands conurbations, he would see exactly what I am talking about. However the number game is played, there is no question whatever but that in the west midlands there are not enough of the things to go around that every family needs.
If the hon. Lady is saying that there are not enough jobs to go round in the west midlands or anywhere else in the United Kindom, I agree. There are not enough jobs, but that is not the fault of the people we are discussing. It is the fault of the hon. Lady's Government. Why does she not complain to her Government about the unemployment that has increased in recent years? The hon. Lady talked about whether we as a country could cope with more people, but, if we look at the total inflow and outflow of people, we see that there is a balance, or indeed a net outflow of people. The problem of jobs in the west midlands is a matter that the hon. Lady should address to Ministers other than the Home Secretary, except in his overall responsibility for the policies of this Government and the unemployment that they have created.
Hon. Members have said that the British people are concerned about numbers. My contention is that if one puts the issue fairly to the British people—I endeavour to do so whenever the issue arises in my constituency—whether families should be united, whether elderly parents should join their children, whether children should join their parents, and whether promises made by repeated British Governments to United Kingdom passport holders should be kept, almost always the answers to those questions by people in my constituency and elsewhere is, "Yes, of course we believe in family unity. We believe in the promises of British Governments, we accept that that is a sensible and humane policy." That is why we do not need to fly in fear of our electorates. We should put the facts to our electorates and ask them to support a humane policy and, by implication, throw out these immigration rules, not because of the Right wing of the Tory party, but because of some of the more objectionable features, particularly about the onus of proof of marriages, that this Government have introduced.
Two months ago I was unable to support the Government in their attempt to introduce these rules. Tonight I speak not as a rebel, not as a diehard, but as someone who has seen the light on the road to Damascus, or perhaps the light on the road to Queen Anne's gate, the light of reasonableness and consistency.
My element of reasonableness goes nowhere near as far as that of the hon. Member for Thornaby (Mr. Wrigglesworth), who seemed to imply that if his party were to assume government or hold the balance of power, all controls would wonderfully be swept aside and the British people would have the undoubted social pleasure of mass integration, whether they liked it or not.
Tonight I shall support the Government on two grounds. First, since the debate two months ago, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has made genuine attempts to accommodate the fears of all sections of the party, and the fears that have been expressed to him throughout the nation. Secondly, I am delighted that both he and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister have reaffirmed the outlines of the Government's general policy towards controlled immigration and the constant monitoring of the figures.
On reflection, I admit that I have found my position on the immigration rules highly inconsistent. On many occasions over the past few years I have approached the Home Office for permission either for existing visitors to be allowed to prolong their stay in the United Kingdom, or for specific members of their families to be granted permission to join them.
I know that it is argued that the local population does not want that. Yet my experience has been that where there has been a question of reuniting a split family the local community—school teachers, neighbours, traders and others—knowing the people involved, have supported the application.
Equally, it is argued that to increase immigration must of necessity increase unemployment. Again, I can speak only from my experience in my constituency, which has the misfortune to have one of the highest levels of unemployment in Britain. But my experience is that where people are granted permission to come to the United Kingdom their friends and families rally round to offer them the security of a job which would not be available to any local applicant. Therefore, the immigrant not only becomes a bread-winner but becomes a payer of taxes and of national insurance.
Although my gut reaction to the principle of the rules was to abstain tonight, my conscience tells me that if I am prepared to make a specific pleading for those families and immigrants whom I happen to know as my constituents, surely I do not have the right to seek to impose a blanket obstruction on those for whom I would be arguing were they already known to me. For that reason I shall admit to a change of face, stance, principle and philosophy and with a clear conscience I shall support the rules tonight.
The hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Mudd) reflects a point of view that is different from that of most of his hon. Friends. It must be said straight away that primary immigration into the United Kingdom ceased a long time ago, yet some Conservative Members wish to give the opposite impression, to convince the British people that floods of immigrants are still coming in without effective control and so on. But, as the hon. Member rightly pointed out, those hon. Members who deal with constituency cases know full well how effective and tough immigration controls are. Certainly many of my constituents have contacted me about persons wishing to enter as visitors, but who have been refused admission, and, when representations have accordingly been made to the Minister, almost without exception he has refused to change the ruling. Indeed, if anyone has any illusions about the effectiveness and toughness of immigration control let them go to Heathrow airport to see what happens when people from the Indian subcontinent or Cyprus try to visit Britain.
As my hon. Friends have pointed out, there has been much arm-twisting of the Tory rebels over paragraph 54. As the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight) said, it is only when one tries to persuade an immigration officer that one's marriage was not entered into primarily to obtain admission to the United Kingdom that one recognises how difficult it is. Indeed, at times one must ask what the rebellion is about. Certainly immigrants from the Indian subcontinent will have extreme difficulty in persuading an immigration or entry clearance officer that their marriage has not been entered into for the reasons stated in the rules. How could anyone prove that a marriage has not been entered into primarily to enter the United Kingdom? Therefore, one must recognise that the rule is drafted in such a way as to make it difficult to overcome the obvious obstacle.
The hon. Member for Edgbaston mentioned unemployment, and I am sure that it will be referred to again in the course of the debate. I certainly would be the last person to deny that unemployment has risen substantially. Certainly mass unemployment has returned to my constituency's travel-to-work area. But I must say that about the only time that one hears Conservative Members talk of unemployment, particularly those hon. Members who are unhappy about or oppose these rules, is when immigration is discussed. It cannot be said with justification that those hon. Members who rebel against the rules are those who criticise their Government's economic and social policies. They are hardly what one would describe as the Tory wets. Indeed, it is precisely those hon. Members who tell us, with tears in their eyes, that it is impossible for husbands to come over because of the level of unemployment, and so on, who are the first to defend their Government's hard-line economic policies. I see hon. Members nod in agreement, so let not those who are willing and enthusiastic supporters of their Government's economic policies, which have done so much harm to our constituents, lecture us about unemployment and the misery and devastation it causes.
What I am now going to say is political, not personal. The hon. Members for Basildon (Mr. Proctor) and Luton, West (Mr. Carlisle) in particular are almost professional mischief makers on matters of colour and race. They lose no opportunity in debate or at Question Time to stir up as much hostility as they can against one section of the community which just happens to comprise those who do not have white faces. Of course, it is farcical to believe that those hon. Members can be persuaded to accept the immigration rules in any shape or form. They believe not only that people who do not have white faces should be refused entry to Britain, certainly for permanent settlement, but they are in favour of repatriation. Certainly the hon. Member for Basildon is because he has said so on numerous occasions. He would pursue a policy that would in effect force people—although he would deny that it would be a matter of force—to leave Britain. He believes in a policy of repatriation which, through pressure and intimidation, would result in enforced repatriation. I do not suppose that the views of the hon. Member for Luton, West are very different from those of the hon. Member for Basildon. Certainly when it comes to matters about South Africa—cricket teams and the rest—the hon. Member for Luton, West is always the first to see what sort of racial mischief he can stir up.
I think that I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. May I place on record that I support the principle of repatriation for all those who wish to take advantage of it, as the hon. Gentleman well knows? That has been the policy of the Conservative and Unionist party since the time of the leadership of Sir Alec Douglas-Home and it was also one of the election manifesto pledges that help should be given to those who genuinely wished to go home. That was contained in the 1979 election manifesto and is still to be implemented by my Government.
I am sure that Ministers will be pleased to know that their policies are the same as those of the hon. Member for Basildon. I imagine that the Home Secretary and his junior Ministers would somehow wish to dissociate themselves from his policy. Of course, if the hon. Gentleman believes that election promises are not being implemented, two points arise. First, he should do what Labour Members do when they believe that their Government are not implementing party policy, and presumably he will do that tonight. Secondly, if he is so concerned about that aspect, what about all the other policies that have not been implemented? The Conservative party did not win the last election on the basis of bringing Britain back to mass unemployment on a scale not seen since the 1930s.
I have referred to the particular rule that is causing all the controversy, but in common with a number of my hon. Friends, there are one or two other aspects of the rules which I am far from happy about. Paragraph 52 refers to parents. I have handled a number of cases involving parents who wish to come to this country for permanent settlement. It is extremely difficult to try to persuade the immigration authorities, the adjudicator or the immigration tribunals that one falls within this category. The rule states:
They must be wholly or mainly dependent upon sons or daughters settled in the United Kingdom who have the means to maintain their parents".
Normally there is no difficulty about the means to maintain them. I accept that if adult children could not maintain their parents there would not be a case for entry, but to try to argue that the parents are "wholly or mainly dependent" upon their adult children is extremely difficult. Moreover, one has to show that the parents have no other close relatives in their own country to whom to turn. That is also very difficult because they may have other children but those children may not be in a position to support them. I believe that there is a case for some flexibility with regard to aged parents.
Perhaps arrangements could be made on a different basis. It must also be remembered that originally the rule was going to be even tougher, but as a result of representations outside and inside the House, at least the more difficult part of the proposed rule was dropped at the time. We have heard the argument about unemployment. No one, I think, is suggesting that people who come here in their late 60s or 70s will take jobs. They are unlikely to do so and, as I understand it, that is not the argument for having the rule as it now stands. But the way the rule is drafted and the way it is interpreted is undoubtedly causing a great deal of hardship.
The other rule which causes a great deal of concern and gives rise to representations to Ministers is the one that relates to visitors. Again, I accept that there must be control and that it is not good enough for someone to say that he wants to be a visitor when it is obvious from all the evidence that he has no intention of being a genuine visitor to this country. I am not suggesting that the controls should go overboard, but I do believe that, sometimes, certainly when the people involved come from the Indian subcontinent, the West Indies or from Cyprus, it is extremely difficult to persuade an immigration officer at Heathrow or Gatwick that he or she is a genuine visitor. Sponsors in this country ask me—perhaps the Minister will bear this in mind—why it is not possible to hand over their own passports to immigration authorities or why cannot they give a sum of money which, when the visitor leaves, they can recover. There may be snags to that and it may well be that it would discriminate against those sponsors in this country who are not well off, but I do believe that there could be more flexible arrangements while, at the same time, recognising the need for effective immigration control over visitors.
Is the hon. Member as much against illegal immigration as any other Member of the House? Assuming that he will agree with that statement, does he also agree that overstaying visitors are probably the largest source of illegal immigration into this country? Consequently, should he not rephrase some of the statements that he has just made in which he virtually criticises the immigration authorities? Are they not right to be cautious about visitors who come here because of the large numbers who overstay and cause the trouble that they do?
No one would wish to deny that there are overstayers, but whether they are in the large numbers as described by the hon. Member for Luton, West is another matter. It could well be argued that, with computers and all the rest, the Home Office should be able to locate those who stay beyond their time. Let me make it quite clear that I make no excuse for those who stay here without permission. If I go to any country I, like any other hon. Member or people outside the House of Commons, would not wish to stay without permission. I make no such excuse and therefore it is quite wrong to misinterpret what I say, but I come back to my point that there could be a more flexible arrangement. While some of the people who are refused entry are, quite likely, not intending to be genuine visitors, my view is that a good number are. They have no intention of being here illegally and have no intention of overstaying as described by the hon. Gentleman.
There have always been hon. Members—it goes back to debates in the 1950s, the 1960s as well as the 1970s—a minority fortunately, who have tried to use immigration rules and immigration debates to create a feeling of hostility against people who come to this country. It must be said—if it is not said the point can be overlooked—that the vast majority of people who have come into this country—whether in the post-war years or at the turn of the century, when they happened to be Jews, when there also was a great deal of agitation, and the immigrants long before the Jews from Czarist Russia, or Poland—whatever their racial origins or colour, have been good, law-abiding citizens. They have made and continue to make a good contribution to our country.
I deeply resent the attempts that are made to make it appear that the arrival of people in the post-war years who are non-white has created such terrible problems. I reject that view with contempt. We need to have effective immigration controls, but we need to have fair controls. We need to be able to be reasonably satisfied that we do not have on the statute book rules that discriminate. The Opposition have come to the view that the rules are not fair and that they should not be accepted. In putting forward that view, we certainly have nothing in common with the rebels on the Conservative benches.
I do not think that anyone here has ever attempted to bully or bribe me before a vote and they certainly have not done so today. I want to state as shortly and as simply as I can why I am voting the way that I am tonight.
I have always believed, as the House knows, that control of immigration into this country is absolutely vital for our national indentity and cohesion. It is in my view as important socially as the control of inflation is important economically. Indeed, after defending the nation and keeping the Queen's peace, the Government's responsibility for the control of immigration is of next importance. It is no use being mealy-mouthed on this subject. It is not sufficient to say that control of immigration is necessary in the interests of good race relations. It is necessary in the interests of something even more important than that. The control is necessary for our very survival as a nation—so that England, which has survived for 1,000 years, with its incomparable history and contribution to civilisation, can remain recognisably and unmistakeably English. There is nothing ignoble or shameful about that sentiment which, as we know, is shared by the vast majority of English people.
May I continue for a little longer? I have been here for the whole debate, unlike most of the party of the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Sandelson).
Hon. Members may wonder why, since I feel so deeply on this subject, I am now going to support the Government on these revised rules which will add to the numbers of immigrants to these shores and increase the categories of foreign people allowed to come and settle here. I do so with sadness and extreme reluctance, simply because, with a general election likely either this year or at the latest next spring or early summer, I feel it absolutely vital that our party should go into that most important election completely united. The possibility of a Government formed by the present Opposition is too awful to contemplate and fraught with the greatest danger to the nation.
I note the assurances given by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary in restating unequivocally that the Government remain committed to the strictest control of immigration. That is in sharp contrast to the opposition parties, who appear to favour with relish the diminution of English people and all things English into some sort of international mish-mash of races and cultures. That was the sentiment expressed especially by the hon. Member for Thornaby (Mr. Wrigglesworth), who departed some time after his speech.
I shall not give way. I wish to make my speech in my own way. I, and others who feel as I feel, will watch the future immigration statistics with the closest attention. No fewer than 120,000 immigrants have entered Britain since the Government took office four years ago. That is a horrifyingly large number—30,000 people a year, which is sufficient for a small or medium-sized town.
It is my wish, and that of the vast majority of people in Britain, that those figures should be reduced drastically. The fact that many immigrants are women and children is no comfort, as they will produce more children themselves. I know that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, with whom I have always had an excellent personal relationship, will realise how deeply I and my colleagues feel on that subject. Millions of people outside this place will look to our party, and our party alone, to control immigration more strictly. Many of us campaigned in previous elections on that platform. I beg my right hon. Friend to ensure that we are not let down and that countless numbers of people outside this place, whose views are not heard sufficiently in the Chamber, are also not let down.
I have listened to every speech from both sides of the Chamber since the debate began. Two things have struck me about the Opposition — first, the extremely small numbers who bothered to turn up for the debate—usually about three at a time—and, secondly, the fact that not one of them mentioned the feelings of the vast majority of people in Britain. We heard a great deal about families. What about the families in Britain who have had origins here for centuries, have lived in the same street for many years, were born, bred and married here and will die here? Why should their lives be uprooted and disturbed by newcomers in enormous numbers? No Opposition Member mentioned that fact. No wonder the Opposition have such a low rating in the opinion polls.
Unless the numbers of immigrants are reduced rapidly, everyone knows in their heart of hearts—although they are rather shamefaced to say so—that eventually England will disappear as the nation we know and love. That is the issue for us tonight—not merely the question of some 3,000 additional men coming to Britain from the Indian subcontinent.
It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes) on this important issue. He is my neighbour both in the country and the House. It is true that those of us who intend to support the Government tonight have had to face a difficult question. It is also true that the issue has much concerned the Tory party during the past few months. My hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Proctor) complained about the parliamentary thumbscrew and the modern techniques of those wishing to exercise some form of influence within the House. Of course, the techniques of the thumbscrew have been applied on all sides, and by all sides, on this issue.
Perhaps I can explain a little of the background that brings me to my present position. I first began to take an interest in politics as a candidate in Birmingham in the mid-1960s, when I became aware of the importance of the problems of immigration in the west midlands. By 1974, it was plain that the possibilities of reducing immigration had been constrained by the many previous promises of successive Governments. There was only one reasonably large area where reductions in immigration could be achieved, that being in husbands and fiancés entering in large numbers, the fiances principally to marry Asian girls.
It was necessary to take a view about arranged marriages and how they might be adapted to British society. All of us of middle years may know that the arranged marriage is often a more successful way of contracting a marriage than the so-called love marriage. It may be that the arranged marriage, even if contracted in a European society, will have a vastly better chance of surviving as a stable unit than the love marriage. But the argument put forward by those who wish to reduce the restrictions upon immigration is that we must allow people to enter Britain because, if we do not, the bonds of matrimony and of relationship will cause suffering to those kept apart. It cannot be said that the arranged marriage creates suffering if it is not allowed, because the girl does not know the man who may be selected for her in far away Jullunder. Such a girl is increasingly coming to the view that she does not wish a man to be selected for her in Jullunder.
The House might remember my brief interchange with the hon. Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr. Bidwell) who agreed that the mixing of the cultures is causing an increasing number of Asian girls to reject an arranged marriage. It appears to me now, as it did in 1974, that whatever the theoretical arguments for an arranged marriage between two persons in neighbouring villages in Pakistan, it should not be a means of entering Britain.
I was one of those who, in putting forward those arguments then, persuaded the then Tory spokesman on home affairs to include a specific promise in our 1979 manifesto to revoke the concession to husbands and fiancés. In 1980 we almost carried out that promise. I make it plain to my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon that my strong preference would be to return to the 1980 rules in substance.
Politics is not just about protest; it is not just about saying to a constituency association, "I have been consistent, I have protested, I have been whiter than white." Politics is also about getting a bit of what one wants—about sometimes accepting half a loaf rather than doing without bread altogether. My hon. Friend talked about the parliamentary thumbscrew. As a retired Whip, I have both applied the thumbscrew and had it applied to me. Those of us who wish to return to the 1980 rules have applied as much of the thumbscrew as possible to the Government, more especially to the Home Secretary and to those who have worked under him.
I have known the Home Secretary for eight years and I do not think there is any hope of returning to the 1980 rules. What are we left with? The political reality is that we either settle for the White Paper plus the safeguards, or the Government will decide that they cannot attract our support and they will obtain more liberal, that is to say less restrictionist, rules with the acquiescence of the Labour party.
Hon. Members know that those who intend to vote against the Government tonight are secure in the knowledge that in doing so they will not defeat the Government. They do it secure in the knowledge that some hon. Members have been inconsistent because they are settling for a compromise. The hon. Member for Battersea, South (Mr. Dubs) suggested that there should be an explanation from those hon. Members who intend to change their position. We wished to have some safeguards.
There are three points on which there may be restrictions on immigration. The first in time is a restriction before entry. The 1980 rules were effectively a restriction before entry. That would be my first choice. Secondly, there can be restriction at the time of entry. That is what the change in the burden of proof produces. I understand the arguments of those hon. Members who say that that safeguard, applied as it will be to all applicant husbands and fiancés, will in some instances cause irritation and embarrassment. That is the disadvantage of control at the point of entry, and it is one reason why I prefer the solution of control before entry. However, perhaps many hon. Members who voted against the Government on 15 December under-estimated the restrictive effect of changing the burden of proof.
It may be that my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed) who investigated this problem in 1978 on the Asian subcontinent was right to say that it will have a significant restrictive effect upon those 3,000 applications.
There should always be plenty of cynics in the House who say that when the Government say that they will review something, especially when they are under pressure, one should disregard it. I remember that during many discussions in the House one of my colleagues said: "Whenever I get a bore in my constituency who has a pet idea, I say that I will keep it under constant review." The Government may be able to fob off one or two bores, but it is on record that about 50 Conservative Members disagreed with the Government on 15 December. Perhaps some Conservative Members hope that a few of the 50 will lose their seats at the next general election. Not all hon. Members will lose their seats. We shall remember the promise that we believe was given to us this day. We are committed to the firm control of immigration.
If the prediction of the Home Secretary that the change in the burden of proof will restrict the number of appliants is incorrect, hon. Members, either in this House or outside, within the next year or so, will remind the Home Secretary of the promise made today. We are the living safeguards that the Tory party is in favour of restrictions upon immigration. It is true that there is an apparent inconsistency between the votes that we propose to cast tonight and the votes that we cast on 15 December. Hon. Members are facing the reality of power and not the fantasies of protest.
Hon. Members are tonight getting the half loaf with at least a promise of the other half. That is more important, at any rate to the people of Wolverhampton, than my saying that I have always acted consistently even if on occasions that has actually worked to people's disadvantage because it has ushered in, albeit at secondhand, more liberal rules than otherwise would have got in. I am for honourable and fair restriction in this important area, which is the single remaining area of primary male immigration.
All Conservative Members, with reservations and with wry amusement at the way in which politics is so often the art of having to accept second best, should support the Government rather than parade ourselves as protesting heroic figures.
I had no intention of intervening in this debate until I heard some of the speeches. I represent a constituency with an immigrant population that has come to us during the past 20 years, and I have been spurred into saying a few words about the contribution of the immigrant community to my town. I was especially stunned by the speech of the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes) and felt especially bitter that such a statement could be made in 1983, when the sons and daughters of immigrants have made such a tremendous contribution to our society.
I am in a sense the son of an immigrant family, because some time ago my great great grandfather, who was a Huguenot silk weaver, settled in Spitalfields. Britain has a long history of immigration, and the more recent immigrants have made tremendous contributions to our communities. In Huddersfield and west Yorkshire I have seen the enormous contributions of entrepreneurs. I believed that the Tory party and even the Back-Bench Members who spoke this evening were in favour of entrepreneurs and of bringing into our society people with great ambition, integrity, drive and energy. That is the sort of person who lives in the immigrant community in Huddersfield. I am talking not just about the traditional restaurants and service industries, but about the tremendous contribution that West Indians, Indians and Pakistanis have made to manufacturing industry.
I have listened to the hon. Gentleman with great interest. Does he agree, as a Member of the Labour party, with me, as a Social Democrat, that we do not want our immigrant population to be tied to one political affiliation? Does he agree that many of those entrepreneurs are potential supporters of the Conservative party? Will he share with me, divorcing our party political attachments, the belief that it is in the overall interests of Britain that those immigrants should decide on their political affiliations by criteria other than that of race or recent entry into this country?
I assure the hon. Gentleman that the immigrants whom I know support all the political parties. In my town there are active members of the Conservative party, the Labour party and even a few of the SDP and the Liberal party. There is a tremendous danger of erecting a stereotype of how the immigrant population acts and behaves. It does not act in that way. It is active in a range of parties.
I was not going to mention the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Dickens) because I could not find him after I had decided to speak in this debate, but I can tell the House that some people in the immigrant community have the sense to look at politicians who say one thing when they need to be elected and when they know that a crucial element in a marginal seat is that immigrant community, but who, when they decide to leave the industrial heartland of west Yorkshire for greener pastures, as is the case with the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West, dismay the immigrant population by dramatically changing their stand on immigration and on how one treats fiancés. Many immigrants in Huddersfield are disillusioned and feel that they have been betrayed.
When I see the trouble and mischief that a sizeable minority of the Conservative party causes, and I listen to the immigrants who come to my advice surgery, I understand the despair caused by the unsettling influence of debating such matters month after month and year after year. The immigrant population wish to get on with living here and with making a positive contribution to society. They no longer wish to be called immigrants. I do not know how many immigration problems the hon. Members who have spoken this evening come across, but in my advice surgery I see people who have harrowing problems with elderly relatives or loved ones who wish to join them here. It is a natural feeling.
Many of my family emigrated to the United States. The hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge should be aware that there is a real problem on the west coast of the United States with overstayers. English people, especially young people who are attracted by the sunshine and work opportunities have been driven out of Britain by our workless society and overstay in the United States.
We cannot adopt such a "holier than thou" attitude about people who overstay as we know how they want their families to be together. I know how strongly the part of my family that emigrated wanted the rest of the family to emigrate with them.
Only this week, I came across a tragic case of an old lady who had overstayed. She is sick, elderly and 83 and is to be made to leave Britain. She had lived in Britain for 12 years and returned home when her husband was dying. She then stayed abroad and did not return at the right time. She is living with her only relative—her daughter—in Britain. Moreover, her husband fought for Britain in the second world war. I do not know how hon. Members feel about that case. I think that it is tragic that the rules cannot be altered to accommodate such human elements.
Some Conservative Members may change their mind about that 83-year-old lady when I tell them that she is Polish. Nevertheless, she is in exactly the same circumstances as many people who come from other parts of the world. When it comes down to what we used to call the nitty-gritty in the 1960s, Conservative Members do not want to keep out people with white faces; they want to keep out those people who have brown faces. That is what the debate is about. That is the unacceptable face of the Conservative party. Conservative Members dress up their words, there is camouflage and code, but we all know what they are talking about. It is a pretty unpleasant point of view that has been demonstrated in a despicable group of speeches today.
My party opposes the rules because they are not made for human beings. They are not flexible or sensitive enough.
I shall set out to the House immediately the premise upon which I base all my arguments. We have now and have had for many years too many immigrants from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan to be integrated peacefully in our society. Those who witnessed the riots in our inner city areas, members of the public if not Members of this House, know full well the common sense of that statement. They will agree that enough is enough.
The House will not therefore be surprised to learn that I will be supporting the action of my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) and my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Mr. Dover) in the Division Lobbies tonight against these immigration rules. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Fylde (Sir E. Gardner) put his finger on the starting point of this sad adventure, the British Nationality Act 1948, when we shared our citizenship of the United Kingdom and colonies with 500 or 600 million people around the globe. That kind of imperial or Commonwealth romanticism was in order until these fellow citizens started to flow into the United Kingdom. Successive parties, including to its credit, the Conservative and Unionist party legislated to stop the flow. In 1962 we had the Commonwealth Immigrants Act which, like so much legislation designed to curb immigration, was opposed by the Labour party, by the Liberal party and, had it been founded at the time, would no doubt have been opposed by the Social Democratic Party. Further legislation followed in 1968 and 1971.
Whilst successive Governments have sought to control immigration from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan by statute law, usually too little and too late, the main battlefield in defence of national identity has beer located in the debates on the immigration rules. These rules are laid down by the Home Secretary and concern the practice to be followed in the administration of the Immigration Act 1971 for regulating the entry into and the stay of persons in the United Kingdom. Changes in the definition of citizenship as a result of the British Nationality Act 1981 required changes in the definition of these rules but, by subterfuge, the Home Office insisted upon a change of substance and we are largely debating that change.
One would have thought that our party, committed to the election manifesto pledges of 1970 and 1979 would, if any opportunity to change the immigration rules arose, seize the chance to strengthen and tighten those rules. Yet some of my colleagues have decided to support a compromise. They admit that it is half a loaf. The time will come when they will discover that it is but a crumb, a crumb consisting of words.
In defending his rules, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said that the Government were carrying out a policy of "stringent immigration control", that they had "firm immigration control" and that there was to be "a continuation of the previous commitment to strict immigration control". He also said that we had reached the lowest level of immigration in 1982 since figures had been kept. Let us look at the facts. Since 1970 and the election manifesto commitment of our party that there be no further large-scale permanent immigration, 600,000 immigrants from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan have settled here legally. Since the election of a Conservative Government in May 1979, with the continuation of all those commitments to firm immigration control, 120,000 immigrants from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan have settled in Britain legally.
My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary did not give the figure—it has not been published, so presumably only he has it—for the number of immigrants who came here from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan last year. That figure cannot be much under 30,000. In 1973, in the last full year of a Conservative Government, the figure was 32,247. The splendid triumph upon which this compromise is based and this firm immigration control is established is a drop of 2,247 or so.
There used to be very few opportunities for the House to debate immigration and certainly few opportunities to debate its consequences. Now, however, we seem to have plenty of opportunity to debate the issues but a rapidly decreasing number of opportunities and circumstances for the House actually to reduce immigration.
I welcome my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State to his new duties and his first engagement in an immigration rules debate. As he well knows, of the 30,000 who came into this country in 1982 a large proportion had the right to do so because they were dependants. One may argue about definitions, but the number is about 65 per cent., so the area of discretion in which he can operate to reduce immigration from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan is less than half the number who came in. That is all the more reason not to increase the categories of people who have the right to come here, given that the Home Secretary has discretion to allow in anyone he wishes.
Does my hon. Friend agree that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) pointed out, this whole debate is about the reality of politics? Although I respect him for what he intends to do in the Division today, will he admit that that will not defeat the Government and that if enough of us supported him, because many of us agree with him, we could bring about a situation in which more people rather then fewer would be admitted to this country? In other words, is not the compromise that many of us have been forced reluctantly to accept the best way to limit immigration into this country?
If the rules are defeated today, they will still take effect and the Home Secretary will have 40 days in which to table new rules more in keeping with the political reality outside in the country and that of the people whom I represent and to whom I gave my promise at the last election that I would do my best to control, restrict and reduce immigration from the New Commonwealth.
In view of the time, I am afraid that I must continue, as I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, West (Mr. Carlisle) wishes to speak before the winding-up speeches begin.
Why are we in this position? I believe that it is because the Government do not wish to introduce primary legislation on immigration. That is why they fear the quota and the register and indeed the demands of myself and others, which will increase in the months and years ahead, that those who currently have the right to come here will probably have to lose those rights if we are to maintain law, order and liberty in this country. The consequences and the alternatives mean that that will be the better of the two evils that will face us in the future. I regret that I shall have to vote against my Government tonight but I am consistent to my principle and to my constituents on this issue.
I am delighted to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Proctor). If brownie points were awarded—if hon. Members will forgive the phrase—to those who have sat through these debates, as he and I have without missing a single speech in over 20 hours on the three occasions we have debated the rules, we would do very well. It shows our deep concern. I am in the dilemma that my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight) put before the House—whether I should be loyal to my constituents and whether, at the same time, I can be loyal to my Government. My mind is still not fully made up as to whether I should support my Government. I await with interest the speech of the Minister of State in winding up.
In the whole unfortunate affair the fact that these rules have come back to the House yet again does not mean that blame should be laid at the door of the Home Secretary or his Ministers, who have tried throughout to find an honourable settlement. Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon I do not take exception to the cajoling and discussions that have taken place inside and outside the House over the past few days, because that is what politics is about.
We are here with different constituency interests. I may not take issue too strongly with hon. Members such as the hon. Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr. Bidwell) who has long experience in the subject. I take perhaps with a pinch of salt, the various accusations he levelled so readily at myself and my colleagues. We are sent here from varying parts of the country which have changed dramatically over the past 20 years because of large-scale immigration. Parts of my constituency, parts of London and parts of the west midlands are unrecognisable from the streets and roads of 20 or 30 years ago. That has not been to the betterment of my constituents or of the country. I respect those with an opposite view but on subjects like this each Member should put forward his own view according to his conscience and should vote accordingly.
I regret that the representative feeling outside this place is not reflected here and will not be reflected in the Lobby tonight. It is an issue of great importance to those who represent constituencies such as mine, as well as to those who represent constituencies where there has been no immigration. People are deeply concerned about the large numbers of immigrants from alien cultures and lands. They are concerned that those alien cultures are, by definition, strange to them. Customs that may be usual in Barbados, Bangladesh or Calcutta are not necessarily accepted by the English. We are lucky that our constituents have been tolerant in spite of the strain that has been put upon them and upon the social services.
What has upset me, many of my colleagues and some of those who will reluctantly support the Government, is that we gave an absolute manifesto pledge. I do not need to be lectured by Opposition Members about broken promises, particularly on law and order. It ill befits some Opposition Members to speak as they did because no party could have done more in the circumstances than we have in trying to rectify the mess that we inherited from the Labour party and in trying to restore the morale of the police that was so low in 1979.
When one asks a number of electors for their support on a prime issue that has been in the forefront of Conservative party policies since large-scale immigration began, I have the deep feeling that we should try to reflect their feelings. When a manifesto pledge is given, and is well paraded during an election campaign, as I believe ours was on this issue, we should not now see fit to renege on it, despite all the troubles that the British Nationality Act 1981 has brought upon the House. If I have an argument with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary it is that he has refused consistently to admit that the British Nationality Act, welcomed as it was by my right hon. and hon. Friends, was intended to be a form of immigration control. I am sorry that he has not seen fit to admit that. However, I think that he believes that it was, as do most of my right hon. and hon. Friends.
The British Nationality Act was an essential part of our immigration policy. It was also an essential part of the pledge contained in the Conservative party's manifesto. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister so aptly said, people were fearful of being swamped. Streets in my constituency would bear out that rather sorry tale. We introduced a major constitutional change when the British Nationality Act was enacted and I think that we should admit that it was a form of control. I hope that it will work.
The debate has inevitably centred on the arguments that have raged over the past weeks, and well before that, on bogus marriages and marriages of convenience. I and, I believe, most of my hon. Friends are not against the arranged marriage. However, we are against—there is evidence that they exist—marriages that take place for the convenience of bringing people into Britain in a form of primary immigration.
I do not need to be told by Labour Members that such practices do not exist. The speeches of Labour Members have been remarkable, especially that of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley). Never in the long speeches that he has made and in those of other Labour Members, have I heard it admitted that deceit exists in certain marriages. When Conservative Members, especially my hon. Friend the Member for Edgbaston, make a protest the Opposition adopt a "holier than thou" attitude, as though the practice of marriages of convenience does not exist. That is nonsense.
I have evidence that money has passed hands and so have other hon. Members. There is evidence that such an arrangement was used as a form of immigration, and quite unashamedly. In some instances the perpetrators of the crime have been found. That is why the numbers committing such crimes are so small. However, in many cases the perpetrators have got away with it, in the way that overstaying visitors get away with it. It is the easiest thing in the world to disappear in the morass of people that abound in the midlands and some parts of London. If the House accepts the rules, I regret that my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State will have an enormous workload and postbag.
The source of primary immigration will bring in those who, frankly and sadly, Britain could well do without. I am referring to the primary immigration of young, active men. They will enter a country with terrible unemployment problems and they will go to areas that necessarily have terrible unemployment problems. They will not go to the lusher pastures of my hon. Friends who represent southern constituencies. They will not go to Cheltenham or Sevenoaks. They will go to Luton, Bradford and Southall, where unemployment rates are extremely high, where social services are very stretched and where there are local problems. When my constituents think of a wave of new primary immigrants, of new young men coming into the town, their minds, and mine, are filled with horror.
That is why some of us have seen fit to protest, both privately and publicly, in the House to my right hon. Friend that we believe than those fears will increase. If those young men are allowed to come in, in whatever numbers, understandably our constituents will ask us why. They will ask us, the only party that stated that there would be strict control on immigration.
Sitting on the Back Benches and listening to some of the speeches made by the Opposition, I am convinced that if there were a change of Government, the rules would be relaxed. If, heaven forbid, the party of the hon. Member for Thornaby (Mr. Wrigglesworth) took office or held the balance of power, the floodgates would open. It was remarkable when he stated that all controls would cease under the Social Democratic party and that, naturally, vast numbers would come into this country.
The decision that I make tonight must bear heavily on my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State although I assure him that it will bear on him not half as much as it does on me. My constituents need from him an absolute commitment, first that strict means strict in immigration control; second that if the rules are passed a review will be made sooner rather than later and a constant watch will be kept; and third, and most important, if the rules are passed, bearing in mind their implication and the implication of the British Nationality Act, they need an assurance that there will not be an increase in primary immigration. If my hon. and learned Friend gives me that absolute assurance, I shall support him in the Lobby. If he does not, I regret that I shall not be able to do so.
I apologise on behalf of my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick), who has spoken in the debate. He is also serving on a Standing Committee and at present he is carrying out his duties in that Committee.
The hon. Member for Luton, West (Mr. Carlisle) said that he knew of a case of illegal entry into this country. If he has that evidence he, like all of us, has a duly to ensure that that does not continue. All the parties in the House are of the opinion that illegal entry must be stamped out because it brings into disrepute the legal entrants who have a legal right to come here. It places a further burden on those who are already in the queue, waiting to enter the United Kingdom. Their chances of entering the country may be jeopardised by illegal entrants. If the hon. Gentleman has that evidence, he has a duty not to keep it to himself but to ensure that the case is highlighted.
I am sure that you will agree, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that when you heard the speeches from Conservative Benches it was like sitting in a confessional box rather than the Speaker's Chair in the House of Commons. Of the 10 speeches made by Conservative Members, nine have been made by the so-called rebels of December 1982. I expected that if pressure had been put on the rebels by the Whips, they would have split into three groups at the most. However, the rebels are strange because they are still split into four groups. The first group comprises those who have now confessed their sins and have decided to support the Government—the hon. Members for Shipley (Mr. Fox), Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Mudd), Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes) and Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen). I have never heard such a load of rubbish as that put forward to defend their change of mind. To pretend that they have a compromise when they have thrown away three concessions and accepted one, is the biggest waste of time I have seen produced by any rebellion in the House.
I wish that the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge was here, because as a Member of the House who professes to speak for the country's officer and gentleman class, his speech was the epitome of putting expediency before principle. He believed that it was to the country's disadvantage to have further immigrants. He believed that that was a grave principle to defend, but on the grounds of expediency he believed that if he were to vote against the Government, the Government's chances of re-election might be jeopardised. That sheds a rather different light upon the character of the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge from the one that he would have us see.
I am somewhat surprised at the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West. I believe that since his election to the House in 1974 he has tried to model himself upon his predecessor in that constituency, the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell). He has aped many of the views and policies of the right hon. Gentleman, but he has failed in the criterion of consistency. The right hon. Member for Down, South has a reputation for consistency, but the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West has destroyed his own reputation on that basis this evening.
I share no sympathy with the view of the second main group, but on consistency they are the men of principle. I am sorry to say that they are just three—the hon. Members for Chorley (Mr. Dover), Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) and Basildon (Mr. Proctor).
The third group comprises the abstainers. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs Knight) is not here. Anyone listening to the debate would have cringed, as I did, at the heart-rending arguments put forward by the hon. Lady to defend her decision to abstain.
The fourth and final group is occupied by the hon. Member for Luton, West (Mr. Carlisle) who has not yet made up his mind after three debates and with one hour to go before the vote. He asked his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary for absolute guarantees. I shall remind him that the Home Secretary made it clear that the Government's policy was subject to constant review. That is not an absolute guarantee. It is relatively par excellence. If he expects a different reply from the Minister of State, he will be disappointed.
We see disarray still among the Government ranks but, because of the pressure that has been applied to the ambitious, those who have been dismissed, and those who are perhaps seeking trips abroad, we are now down to the real hard core of rebels represented by the hon. Members for Horsham and Crawley, Orpington and Basildon.
The Home Secretary is obviously still trying tactics that he found extremely useful on the day following his defeat on the immigration rules in December, when his line of defence was attack, attack, attack, because he had no other means of defence. He used that tactic today when he attacked my right hon. Friends the Members for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) and Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) and the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins).
I did not attack the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan). I simply described what he had done, which is a rather surprising way to attack somebody.
The right hon. Gentleman attacked my right hon. Friends, but the Home Secretary failed to mention that my right hon. Friends' Government did not lose any votes on the immigration rules. The Home Secretary's bad temper and ill humour is brought about by the defeat that he suffered in December 1982.
The Home Secretary alleges that the parliamentary Labour party does not favour strict immigration rules. Our policy is based upon strict immigration rules, but rules that are seen to be fair to all people who have a right of entry into the United Kingdom. The Home Secretary's speech was an attempt to put further pressure on the hon. Members for Orpington and Basildon, was a waste of time. I am sure that there are sufficient weak willed characters on the Government Benches, like the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, to guarantee the Government and the Home Secretary a victory in the Division Lobby.
I recently attended a meeting organised by the Pakistan Association at which a speaker made the point that Britain is now a multiracial society. That is not a matter of conjecture but a statement of fact. In the past few weeks and months, the Home Secretary has seen the ugly truth that there is a view on the right of the parliamentary Tory party that does not accept that fact. The Home Secretary has been seeking to reconcile the irreconcilable.
The Tory concern is not with the extra few hundreds of foreign husbands and fiancés who may be permitted to enter the United Kingdom as a consequence of this concession to non-United Kingdom British female citizens. They are concerned about any black migration to this country, a point made by the hon. and learned Member for South Fylde (Sir E. Gardner). Quite simply, they wish to stop it all and, if at all possible, in the words of the hon. Member for Basildon, to reverse the process that we have seen over the past 25 years.
The hon. and learned Gentleman said it and I am sure that when he reads the Official Report tomrrow he will see that those were the words that he uttered.
Quite simply, those on the Tory hard right wish to stop all black immigration and, if possible, to reverse the trend of the past 25 years.
The Tory hard right does not share our concern, or that of the Home Secretary, for the following issues. First, there is the pain and suffering of families waiting to be reunited in the United Kingdom. Secondly, there are the indignities and humiliations that husbands and wives suffer when applying for entry certificates. Thirdly, there is the despair that is felt by parents who are refused visitors' entry certificates to visit their children in the United Kingdom.
Many Conservative Members believe that the black community in the United Kingdom has no right to be here. The Home Secretary should have realised that in November 1982 and should have had the courage then to proceed on the basis of the White Paper that was published in October 1982. Instead, he offered concessions and he and the Government went down to a humiliating defeat. Not content with that, he compounded his humiliation by further negotiations with the so-called rebels who had inflicted the defeat in the first place in an attempt to obtain a further compromise.
We shall probably never know why some of the rebels have now repented. Until the hon. Members for Orpington, Wolverhampton, South-West and Basildon write their memoirs in 30 or 40 years' time we can only guess. Several points spring to mind, however. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West spoke of the need for party unity in a run-up to a possible election and the possibility of preferment in Government or the absolute assurance of the lack of it if the rebellion continued. I cannot see the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Fox) being coerced for that reason in view of his recent dismissal from the Administration. Perhaps that applies to one or two others on the Government Benches who, I am sure, still cherish hopes of Government preferment in either the immediate or far distant future if and when there is another Conservative Government.
One thing is certain. The rebels, irrespective of the way that they vote this evening, have not changed their views. In the months and years to come they will be back, whether in government or opposition, peddling their insidious views as the only compromise that the Tory hard right knows on this issue is not compromise but complete capitulation to their view.
Every time immigration is discussed in the House the venom of the Tory hard Right and the prevarication of the Home Secretary further undermine the black community's confidence and make a mockery of Tory pledges to promote family life and racial harmony. It is intolerable that the spotlight is continually on such a small percentage of our population. Ever since the Prime Minister realised that there were votes to be gathered from racialism the spotlight has never been off the immigrant community.
Let us remember the commitments that the Tory party gave in order to garner votes at the 1979 election. It gave a commitment first, to a register of dependents, second, to a quota system and, third, to remove the concession implemented in 1974 by my former right hon. Friend, now the right hon. Member for Hillhead. What happened after the votes had been gathered and the election had been won? The Home Secretary was made to see sense by his officials at the Home Office. As a consequence, the register of dependents and the quota system were quietly abandoned, despite the protestations of hon. Members such as the hon. Members for Luton, West and Orpington.
I am grateful to the lion. Gentleman, because we have had 20 minutes of speeches from the Conservative Benches, and clearly we have him on the run. May I ask him one question, as he is parading the commitments made by the then Conservative Opposition: will his party go into the forthcoming general election with a manifesto commitment that the Labour party will repeal these immigration laws and go back to the pre-1980 position?
I am not surprised that the hon. Member for Luton, West has not yet made up his mind on this vote, because clearly he is not capable of hearing. His right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has already answered the question that he put earlier in the negative. The hon. Member for Luton, West has attended these debates frequently over the past three months, and he will have heard my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook answer that question on at least two occasions. The answer is unequivocally yes. When I spoke in the debate on 15 December, I gave the unequivocal answer yes. [Interruption.]
The concession was partially removed in a way that even the Government had to admit was discriminatory. In my opinion, it is time that the spotlight was switched off the immigrant community for good, with the realisation that large-scale primary immigration into this country has ceased, in the words of both the Home Secretary and the new Minister of State at the Home Office.
The Government immigration rules and policy are based on suspicion, the suspicion that many of those coming here from the Indian subcontinent do so primarily for migration purposes. How else can one explain the fact that only one American visitor in 165 is given less than six months' leave to remain, whereas for Pakistanis the figure is one in six? How else can one explain the change in the burden of proof in paragraph 54 of the new rules? In future, couples will have to prove that their marriage or proposed marriage is not simply a device to evade immigration control. I hope that the Home Secretary, or perhaps the Minister of State, will explain how they will do that, since the marriage ceremony itself will not be taken as proof that they intend to live together. Will the couple's private correspondence be examined? Will the length of the corresponding period be taken into account? Will they also be subject to exhaustive oral examination?
As the Minister of State and the Home Secretary know, arranged marriages are, by their very nature, not of long standing. They could be subjected to intolerable stress if the examination were not carried out in a correct and proper manner. Why do we need the change? The Home Secretary knows that he already has adequate powers to deal with marriages of convenience. The presumption must inevitably be that the intention is to reduce further the number of husbands and fiancés coming into the United Kingdom.
It is also essential that the Home Secretary informs the House of the criteria to be used and to make public any instructions given to immigration officers dealing with these cases. I remind the House, a point made by a number of my hon. Friends, that this will apply to all women in the United Kingdom—black and white. Because of the difference in attitudes to sexual matters between Europeans and Asians, many European women who marry non-EC nationals could in the future be asked some delicate questions about their sexual activities. That is a point of which the House should be aware. The Home Secretary says that that is rubbish. He should recall incidents in the past concerning questioning about sexual activities. There is no guarantee that this will not happen in the future.
Paragraph 41 appears to be contrary to the established principles of English law since it appears to me and to my hon. Friends that the couple have to overcome the presumption of guilt. It is sexually discriminatory since a similar condition does not apply to a non-British woman marrying a man settled in the United Kingdom. It is racially discriminatory since the condition that the couple must have met has its greatest effect on the people of the Indian subcontinent.
To come directly to the point put to me by the hon. Member for Luton, West, it is our intention after our victory at the next election to repeal the Immigration Act 1971 and the British Nationality Act 1981—
—and our Immigration Act will no longer violate the family life of the immigrant communities by a harshly restrictive definition of those who can qualify as dependents.
We will among other things end the race and sex discrimination in the present rules regarding husbands and fiancés by restoring the entitlement to admission to join a woman settled here irrespective of her citizenship, birthplace or ancestry. Secondly, we shall liberalise the criteria for the admission of elderly parents and other relatives. It will be a policy based on confidence in ourselves as a multiracial society and not upon suspicion.
I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote against the rules in the Division at 10 o'clock.
The debate has centred round the narrow question of the rights of husbands and fiancàs to settle here. It is odd in a sense that the question should have engaged so much of our time, because it is apparent from today's debate that in the context of immigration as a whole the figures are small.
We were asked some time ago for an estimate of the effect of the change on the number of applications. We said that the change in the rules would mean a maximum of 2,500 to 3,000 extra applications a year, and I remind the House of the point made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Fylde (Sir E. Gardner), that those would be applications not acceptances for settlement. The figure of acceptances for settlement will depend, first, on how many qualify and, secondly, on the rate at which applications are processed. Furthermore, the estimate of 2,500 to 3,000 extra applications was based on no more than the fall in the number of applications on the coming into force of the 1980 rules. I remind my hon. Friends that it cannot be emphasised too often that we shall not return to the pre-1980 position which gave all settled women the right to bring in husbands.
I said that it is odd that the question should have engaged so much of our time during the past few months, but we are not the first Administration to have spent so much time on it. It is a problem which successive Administrations have wrestled with and have debated at length. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary earlier today reminded the House that Labour Governments have considered and reconsidered the problem. He exposed the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins) as the biggest wobbler of all time. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman is not here today. I understand that he has had a bad week. Just a few days ago, Julia Langdon of The Guardian reported him as telling a waiting world that 1982 would be election year.
The right hon. Gentleman has certainly wobbled a long way since 1971, when he said:
It is in no way necessary to control the numbers entering this country at present."—[Official Report, 8 March 1971; Vol. 813, c. 146.]
Is that really the attitude of the SDP today? Is that really the attitude of the Liberal party? Is that what the right hon. Gentleman will say throughout the country? It would be rather surprising if he had come here today to admit that. But I remind the House that the hon. Member for Thornaby (Mr. Wrigglesworth) came close to saying that.
In contrast, the Government's approach has been logical and just. There simply cannot be a free-for-all. To benefit by having the right to have a husband from overseas join her in Britain, a woman must have close ties with this country. There simply must be tough safeguards. There is no reason why a woman who is settled here, but is not a citizen, should benefit. By definition, she has not finally thrown in her lot with Britain, and has not made her final commitment by becoming a British citizen. She does not have the right of abode. Indeed, if she leaves Britain for more than two years she has no right to return. If she enters Britain as a visitor and overstays, she can be deported.
On the other hand, having put on the statute book an Act creating a new British citizenship, which defines those who really belong here, how can we say that some of them belong here more than others? My hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Fylde was right to emphasise that fact.
If all British citizen women are to have the right to bring husbands, there must be safeguards. The Opposition, when in government, recognised that in 1977. The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) said on 31 January 1978:
I hope that there is agreement on both sides also that, if there are loopholes that are abused, they should be tightened".—[Official Report, 31 January 1978; Vol. 943, c. 244.]
We greatly strengthened the safeguards in 1980 and we are now building on them further with the change in the burden of proof.
The House might be interested to know how stringent are the tests. From 1 January to 8 February, 47 husbands and fiancés were granted entry clearance and 61 were refused in the Indian subcontinent. That represents a refusal rate of 56 per cent. Of those refused, more than one third failed to qualify because the couple had not met—a requirement that we introduced in 1980 and are keeping. Many others failed to satisfy the entry clearance officer that the primary reason for the marriage was not immigration. Again, we are keeping that safeguard. The refusal rate of 56 per cent. compares with a refusal rate for husbands and fiancés of only about 10 per cent. under Labour's rules. I emphasise that the 56 per cent. relates to applications decided under provisions of the disapproved rules, the substance of which we are now asking the House to accept.
Does the Minister understand that the British Nationality Act 1981 has pushed many in the Asian community, especially women, to apply for British citizenship, having been in this country for a sufficient period? Some have married or are caught between marrying and the application being processed, and there is an inbuilt delay. Will the Minister, because of the greater weight of applications, look sympathetically at the position of such women who are anxious to show, through applying for British citizenship, that they wish to belong to this country and who qualify under the change of rules?
I undertake to ensure that those applications are processed as soon as possible.
There are several misconceptions about the burden of proof. The change is not unfair. There cannot be anything wrong in principle with expecting a man who is seeking a major benefit to prove that he is entitled to it. In fact, time and again in immigration the burden is put on the man to prove that he is entitled to come to this country. This has been so under Conservative and Labour Governments. For example, a visitor must show that he is a genuine visitor, a wife must show that she is the wife and children must show that they are the children. A person who says that he is of independent means must prove to the entry clearance officer that he possesses those means.
The test applied is the balance of probabilities, the normal test in civil matters. It is not an impossible test to surmount, as anyone who practises in the courts knows full well. It should not be a difficult test for a genuine applicant to meet. We have the utmost confidence in the entry clearance officers who, I am sure, are operating the system fairly and will continue to do so. The Sub-Committee on Race Relations and Immigration, whose members went to the Indian subcontinent and saw the entry clearance officers, remarked on the professional way in which they did their job and their care in considering applications.
Does the hon. and learned Gentleman accept that he is not comparing like with like when he compares the position of a husband with that of a wife, child or business man who need to prove their position? The wife, child or business man can produce pieces of paper to prove their relationships, whereas in the new paragraph 54 the assessment is entirely subjective and is incapable of objective proof.
I do not accept that for one moment. I can think of plenty of pieces of paper and a great deal of documentary evidence that could help a husband to prove that he had that entitlement.
There is an industry in the Indian subcontinent that is engaged in producing pieces of paper for those people. The matter comes back to the entry clearance officers and the burden of proof, even in those cases, because there is undoubtedly abuse. So-called travel agencies exist that are nothing of the kind, but they produce documentation for wives and children. This change in the burden of proof is of fundamental importance. That is why I hope that my hon. Friends and the House will support the Government in this matter.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who is entirely right. The percentage of refusals under the new rules compared with the percentage of refusals earlier shows that he is doubly right. It is almost impossible to escape the conclusion that a great deal of abuse was not caught before the new rules were brought in on 1 January.
The hon. Member for East Kilbride (Dr. Miller) said that people were being badgered by immigration officers. He even went so far as to say that third degree methods were being used. I can say only that that is not my impression. Immigration officers are widely respected people who carry out a difficult job with skill and probity. The same is true of entry clearance officers. The hon. Member for East Kilbride said that they treated people as though they were liars. That was not the impression of the Select Comittee, nor that of the hon. Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Wilson), who said that he had had ample opportunity during the years to see the work of entry clearance officers and was satisfied that they carried out a difficult job with great skill.
I have already referred to the excellent contribution of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Fylde. He said that there was anxiety about immigration in this country. It is surprising that he need say so, but he must because Labour Members seem to be entirely unaware that there is any such concern. He pointed out the ludicrous position that the Opposition will be voting against the rules tonight not because they are too soft but because they are too tough. Let the public take note that the Opposition want laxer rules and more scope for abuse. Let my hon. Friends who are thinking of not voting with the Government bear in mind that those with whom they will vote wish to have laxer rules and more scope for abuse.
The hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Pitt) spent much of his speech ingratiating himself with his wife. I do not criticise him for that and I hope that his wife reads Hansard tomorrow. He referred to a recent case in the House of Lords, but he did not fully understand its significance. The House of Lords reaffirmed that there could be illegal entry by deception and said that the scope for judicial review should be widened. The hon. Gentleman went on to say—it was perhaps the most remarkable statement made in the debate—that women who do not wish to be British citizens cannot bring in their husbands. He thought that that was the most amazing state of affairs. If they do not wish to be British, why should they have the right to bring in their husbands?
I shall not follow the hon. Gentleman down that path. He said that he believed that it was wrong that people who are not British citizens should be prevented from bringing in their husbands.
Perhaps, as the Minister has returned to this point, he will answer the question that the Home Secretary did not answer. If it is wrong for women who are not British citizens to bring in their husbands, why is it right for men who are not British citizens to bring in their wives?
The rules treat the sexes differently. I remind the right hon. Gentleman that the sexes are different.
I shall tell the right hon. Gentleman why the rules treat the sexes differently. First, it seems to have escaped his attention that we cannot prevent wives coming. The bulk of them have a statutory right to come or they benefit from an undertaking that was given by successive Governments. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to put his hand out. He asked why we treat them differently, and that is one of the reasons.
Secondly, the fact that we have been generous about wives does not mean that we can afford to be equally generous about admitting husbands. Why should we be equally generous? Thirdly, men are far more likely to enter the labour market. At a time of high unemployment, we simply cannot afford to admit men on the same basis. It amazes me that Opposition Members who are constantly canting about unemployment for which they blame the Government, have the impudence to say that they believe in sex equality and want more people, who might take jobs from British citizens, to come to Britain.
My hon. and learned Friend is entirely right. The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) fails to realise that sex equality under the rules would, in many respects, be unduly restrictive of women. We accept unmarried girls over the age of 18 to join families, but we do not accept sons. Widows can enter at any age, but that is not so with widowers. Au pairs must be girls. Throughout the rules, one finds that, in many respects, women benefit when men do not.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Fox) for his interesting speech. He pointed out that the change in the burden of proof makes the rules far stronger. Quite right. My hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) talked of a flabby handling of immigration. I must tell him that the fall in the figures for settlement simply do not bear that out. He knows as well as I do that there are people who have a statutory right to come. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to take away that right. If one examines the figures, one finds that 42,900 people settled here in 1978 and that in the 12 months to 30 September 1982, 29,900 people settled here. It is therefore, a bit hard to talk about a flabby handling of immigration by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.
My hon. Friend the Member for Orpington fell into an error into which other hon. Members have fallen. He said that we said prior to the general election that foreign husbands would not have an absolute right of entry. We did not say that. We said that we would end the Labour concession that related to the right of women who were only settled here to bring in their husbands. We removed that concession in 1980, we did not replace it in 1982 and have no intention of replacing it in the future.
The hon. Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr. Bidwell) is my most prolific correspondent at the Home Office. I shall do my best to give him reasonable satisfaction. He made a most interesting speech. He hoped that I would realise that I would have to go around the country explaining the rules in the course of my community relations duties. I shall not be afraid to do that. I am not sure that those people who are happlily settled here want laxer control. They are the first to recognise the dangers that could flow to community relations if controls were relaxed.
My hon. and learned Friend has just made a very encouraging statement, that the Government have ended the concession that the Labour party made on settled women and will on no account in future reverse that concession. Would my hon. and learned Friend confirm that he will stand by that statement no matter what happens or what decision is made by the European Court?
I cannot tie myself for all time, regardless of what decisions are made elsewhere and regardless of what other changes we may decide it is politic to make. All I am saying is that there is a very strong case for what we have done. I cannot see why this right should be extended to settled women, women who are not British citizens and who have not finally thrown in their lot with this country. I have expressed my view as powerfully as I can and I am sure I need go no further than that.
My hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Mr. Dover) also said that the Government have gone back on their manifesto commitment as far as husbands are concerned. I can only repeat that I do not believe we have.
The hon. Member for Thornaby said that the figures of people excluded on the grounds of marriage of convenience in 1979 were very small. Indeed they were. That was because of the weakness of the safeguards. That is why we have found it necessary to toughen them up. The hon. Member then went on to say that the rules we had produced were lengthy and complex. I invite him to look at the rules that were in force when he was a member of the Labour party prior to 1979. I do not think he will find that those rules were much shorter than the rules we have put before the House.
I was a little surprised when my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight) said that we had not really given information about numbers. I assure her that I have done my level best to present as much information as possible. It is sometimes difficult to extract from a mass of statistics the real kernel of the case but I have done my best to give the salient figures. I mentioned some only a short time ago. I do not think that anyone can now be unaware of the dramatic fall in the settlement figures between 1979 and 1982.
My hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Mudd) paid a tribute to the genuine attempt of my right hon. Friend to meet people's fears. He said he was glad that my right hon. Friend had reaffirmed his determination to have strict controls. I am sure that many in this House are equally glad.
My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) said that politics was about getting half a loaf rather than no bread. Of course he is right. How odd it is that even now some of our party are prepared to go into the Lobby with the Labour party and the SDP, which do not want firm immigration control, whatever they said at one stage of the debate. The hon. Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall) made that abundantly plain when he let the cat out of the bag in the last few minutes of his speech. I hope that plenty of people in the country will remember in the next election campaign that the Labour party is now pledged to do away with these rules and to go back to the pre-1980 position, to relax the rules for entry. I hope that plenty of people will remember during the course of the election campaign that the Labour party is now pledged to relax the rules as far as families are concerned. [Interruption.]
Just one minute.
I hope that plenty of people in the country will remember during the course of the next election campaign that the Labour party is now pledged to repeal the British Nationality Act. That means the return of the jus soli, it means more and more people being given the right to live here as the result of being born here, even if they are born of illegal immigrants or of other people who have no right to be here.
That is exactly what our commitment means. Is the hon. and learned Gentleman saying that the Conservative party will try to play the racial card again next time round— [Interruption]—as the right hon. Lady did last time round?
I thought that that was exactly what the hon. Gentleman had been doing throughout this debate.
I would like to make one or two things abundantly plain. Strict immigration control is a prerequisite of good community relations. If people are worried about the level of immigration they find it difficult to accept people of different backgrounds in their midst. They fear for their jobs and others prey on these fears. The same applies if there are evident abuses. If people feel there is abuse, community relations are made much more difficult. That is why it is necessary to have these safeguards.
The Labour party has never been slow to change course. In 1962, the present Leader of the Opposition said of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill:
we shall wish not merely to re-examine it, but to wipe it off the Statute Book altogether."—[Official Report, 27 February 1962; Vol. 654, c. 1235.]
Only six years later, in 1968, the Labour Home Secretary decided not to wipe the Act off the statute book but to strengthen it. I am told that the Labour party now has other ideas, but for how much longer? Who can tell? The public know that with that lot anything may happen.
The Conservative Administration have never pretended that our policy has been other than one of strict immigration control. That is the policy that we have pursued since 1979 when various important changes in the rules were made. In addition to stopping Labour's concession on husbands and fiancés, we stopped the practice whereby people who came here as visitors or students could switch to a category that allowed them to stay permanently. We stopped the entry of parents, grandparents and children over the age of 18, except in very urgent and compassionate cases. We severely restricted the issue of work permits. The vast majority of those now coming to this country are wives and children of those who are already here, who have a statutory right to come here. Others are now achieving settlement as a result of work permits issued under the Labour Government. Others are husbands who have achieved settlement recently, not under our rules but under the pre-1980 Labour rules, and have benefited from the transitional provisions that all rules must include.
I hope that no one will underestimate the importance of the British Nationality Act. Reform of British nationality law was long overdue, but the Labour Government shrank from carrying out the task. They published a Green Paper, but that was all. Then there was silence. The Act is primarily concerned with nationality, but it Las most important implications for immigration. It has not taken away the right of abode in this country from those who had it before.
First, by creating the separate status of British citizens for those who have the right of abode, the Act ensures that others without that close connection with this country are no longer encouraged to believe that they, too, can come here. That involves at least 4·5 million people who are now citizens of the British dependent territories or British overseas citizens. We have, therefore, created a far better basis for immigration control in the future.
Secondly, children born here to parents who are here only temporarily or illegally and have no right of abode no longer automatically become British citizens. That change alone could result in between 3,000 and 6,500 fewer people per year acquiring at birth the right to live here, and it will prevent many more from acquiring citizenship by descent from such people even though they never come within 5,000 miles of Britain.
We said in our manifesto that we would take firm action against illegal entrants and overstayers, and we have done just that. The number of deportation orders enforced against overstayers was 30 per cent. higher in 1981 than in 1978—946 as against 714. The number of illegal entrants removed was 18 per cent. higher—641 in 1981 compared with 538 in 1978. We have introduced new measures for tracing people who overstay and those who are the subject of deportation orders, using the help of the immigration service.
The new procedures have been very successful and will be continued. The Government will maintain a 1:ough policy against evaders. We have kept our faith with the electorate and brought immigration down. Our policies will continue to be directed to that objective. I call on all right hon. and hon. Members to reject the motion.
|Division No. 67]||[9.59 pm|
|Abse, Leo||Brown, R. C. (N'castle W)|
|Allaun, Frank||Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'y S)|
|Alton, David||Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)|
|Anderson, Donald||Buchan, Norman|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Callaghan, Jim (Midd'tn & P)|
|Ashley, Rt Hon Jack||Campbell, Ian|
|Ashton, Joe||Campbell-Savours, Dale|
|Atkinson, N.(H'gey.)||Canavan, Dennis|
|Bagler, Gordon A.T.||Cant, R. B.|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Carmichael, Neil|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (H'wd)||Carter-Jones, Lewis|
|Belth, A. J.||Cartwright, John|
|Bennett, Andrew (St'kp't N)||Clarke.Thomas(C'b'dge, A'rie)|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Cohen, Stanley|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Coleman, Donald|
|Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon A.(M'b'ro)||Conlan, Bernard|
|Bradley, Tom||Cook, Robin F.|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Cowans, Harry|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Cox, T. (W'dsw'th, Toot'g)|
|Craigen, J. M. (G'gow, M'hill)||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)|
|Crowther, Stan||Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Bh'dda)|
|Cryer, Bob||Jones, Barry (East Flint)|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington S)||Kerr, Russell|
|Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n)||Kilroy-Silk, Robert|
|Dalyell, Tarn||Lambie, David|
|Davidson, Arthur||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)||Leighton, Ronald|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, Stechf'd)||Lofthouse, Geoffrey|
|Deakins, Eric||Lyon, Alexander (York)|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||McCartney, Hugh|
|Dewar, Donald||McCusker, H.|
|Dixon, Donald||McDonald, Dr Oonagh|
|Dobson, Frank||McElhone, Mrs Helen|
|Dormand, Jack||McKelvey, William|
|Dover, Denshore||MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor|
|Dubs, Alfred||Maclennan, Robert|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||McNamara, Kevin|
|Dunnett, Jack||McTaggart, Robert|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.||McWilliam, John|
|Eadie, Alex||Magee, Bryan|
|Eastham, Ken||Marshall, D(G'gow S'ton)|
|Edwards, R. (Whampt'n S E)||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)|
|Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're)||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)|
|Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||Martin, M(G'gow S'burn)|
|English, Michael||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Ennals, Rt Hon David||Maxton, John|
|Evans, loan (Aberdare)||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Evans, John (Newton)||Meacher, Michael|
|Ewing, Harry||Mikardo, Ian|
|Farr, John||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Faulds, Andrew||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)|
|Field, Frank||Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)|
|Fitch, Alan||Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen)|
|Fitt, Gerard||Molyneaux, James|
|Flannery, Martin||Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw)|
|Ford, Ben||Moyle, Rt Hon Roland|
|Forrester, John||Newens, Stanley|
|Foster, Derek||Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon|
|Foulkes, George||Ogden, Eric|
|Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd)||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||O'Neill, Martin|
|Freud, Clement||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Garrett, John (Norwich S)||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David|
|Ginsburg, David||Palmer, Arthur|
|Gourlay, Harry||Park, George|
|Graham, Ted||Parker, John|
|Grant, John (Islington C)||Parry, Robert|
|Grimond, Rt Hon J.||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Pendry, Tom|
|Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife)||Penhaligon, David|
|Hardy, Peter||Pitt, William Henry|
|Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Powell, Rt Hon J.E. (S Down)|
|Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith||Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)|
|Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||Prescott, John|
|Haynes, Frank||Price, C. (Lewisham W)|
|Healey, Rt Hon Denis||Proctor, K. Harvey|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Race, Reg|
|Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire)||Radice, Giles|
|Home Robertson, John||Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)|
|Homewood, William||Richardson, Jo|
|Hooley, Frank||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Horam, John||Roberts, Allan (Bootle)|
|Howell, Rt Hon D.||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)|
|Howe Us, Geraint||Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)|
|Hoyle, Douglas||Robertson, George|
|Huckfield, Les||Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)|
|Hudson Davies, Gwilym E.||Rodgers, Rt Hon William|
|Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Rooker, J. W.|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Roper, John|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)|
|Janner, Hon Greville||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Jay, Rt Hon Douglas||Ross, Wm. (Londonderry)|
|Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd)||Rowlands, Ted|
|John, Brynmor||Ryman, John|
|Johnson, James (Hull West)||Sandelson, Neville|
|Johnson, Walter (Derby S)||Sever, John|
|Sheerman, Barry||Torney, Tom|
|Sheldon, Rt Hon R.||Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.|
|Shore, Rt Hon Peter||Wainwright, E.(Dearne V)|
|Short, Mrs Renée||Wainwright, H.(Colne V)|
|Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)||Walker, Rt Hon H.(D'caster)|
|Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)||Wardell, Gareth|
|Silverman, Julius||Watkins, David|
|Skinner, Dennis||Weetch, Ken|
|Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark)||Welsh, Michael|
|Smyth, Rev. W. M. (Belfast S)||White, Frank R.|
|Soley, Clive||White, J. (G'gow Pollok)|
|Spearing, Nigel||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Spellar, John Francis (B'ham)||Whitlock, William|
|Spriggs, Leslie||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Stallard, A. W.||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Stanbrook, Ivor||Williams, Rt Hon A.(S'sea W)|
|Steel, Rt Hon David||Williams, Rt Hon Mrs(Crosby)|
|Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)||Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)|
|Stoddart, David||Wilson, Rt Hon Sir H.(H'ton)|
|Stott, Roger||Wilson, William (C'try SE)|
|Strang, Gavin||Winnick, David|
|Straw, Jack||Woodall, Alec|
|Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley||Woolmer, Kenneth|
|Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)||Wright, Sheila|
|Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)|
|Thomas, Dr R.(Carmarthen)||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Thorne, Stan (Preston South)||Mr. Allen McKay and|
|Tilley, John||Mr. George Morton.|
|Adley, Robert||Chalker, Mrs. Lynda|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul|
|Alexander, Richard||Chapman, Sydney|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Churchill, W. S.|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n)|
|Ancram, Michael||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)|
|Arnold, Tom||Clegg, Sir Walter|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Cockeram, Eric|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H.(S'thorne)||Colvin, Michael|
|Atkins, Roben(Preston N)||Cope, John|
|Atkinson, David (B'm'th,E)||Cormack, Patrick|
|Baker, Kenneth(St.M'bone)||Corrie, John|
|Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)||Costain, Sir Albert|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Benyon, Thomas (A'don)||Critchley, Julian|
|Benyon, W. (Buckingham)||Crouch, David|
|Best, Keith||Dickens, Geoffrey|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Dorrell, Stephen|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.|
|Blackburn, John||du Cann, Rt Hon Edward|
|Blaker, Peter||Dunlop, John|
|Body, Richard||Dunn, Robert (Dartford)|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Durant, Tony|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Dykes, Hugh|
|Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W)||Eden, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Bowden, Andrew||Eggar, Tim|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes||Elliott, Sir William|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Emery, Sir Peter|
|Bright, Graham||Eyre, Reginald|
|Brinton, Tim||Fairbairn, Nicholas|
|Brittan, Rt. Hon. Leon||Fairgrieve, Sir Russell|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Faith, Mrs Sheila|
|Brotherton, Michael||Fell, Sir Anthony|
|Brown, Michael(Brigg & Sc'n)||Fenner, Mrs Peggy|
|Browne, John (Winchester)||Finsberg, Geoffrey|
|Bruce-Gardyne, John||Fisher, Sir Nigel|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N)|
|Buchanan-Smith, Rt. Hon. A.||Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles|
|Buck, Antony||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Budgen, Nick||Forman, Nigel|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Fowler, Rt Hon Norman|
|Burden, Sir Frederick||Fox, Marcus|
|Butcher, John||Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh|
|Butler, Hon Adam||Fraser, Peter (South Angus)|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Fry, Peter|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n)||Gardiner, George (Reigate)|
|Gardner, Sir Edward||Lamont, Norman|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Lang, Ian|
|Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian||Latham, Michael|
|Goodhart, Sir Philip||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Goodhew, Sir Victor||Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel|
|Good lad, Alastair||Lee, John|
|Gorst, John||Le Merchant, Spencer|
|Gow, Ian||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Gower, Sir Raymond||Lester, Jim (Beeston)|
|Grant, Sir Anthony||Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Gray, Rt Hon Hamish||Lloyd, Ian (Havant & (W'loo)|
|Greenway, Harry||Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)|
|Griffiths, E.(B'y St. Edm'ds)||Loveridge, John|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)||Luce, Richard|
|Grist, Ian||Lyell, Nicholas|
|Grylls, Michael||Macfarlane, Neil|
|Gummer, John Selwyn||MacGregor, John|
|Hamilton, Hon A.||MacKay, John (Argyll)|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Macmillan, Rt Hon M.|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)|
|Hannam, John||McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)|
|Haselhurst, Alan||McQuarrie, Albert|
|Hastings, Stephen||Madel, David|
|Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael||Major, John|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Marland, Paul|
|Heath, Rt Hon Edward||Marlow, Antony|
|Heddle, John||Marten, Rt Hon Neil|
|Henderson, Barry||Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus|
|Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael||Mawby, Ray|
|Hicks, Robert||Mawhinney, Dr Brian|
|Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Hill, James||Mayhew, Patrick|
|Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)||Mellor, David|
|Holland, Philip (Carlton)||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Hooson, Tom||Miller, Hal (B'grove)|
|Hordern, Peter||Mills, Iain (Meriden)|
|Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)|
|Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd)||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Hunt, David (Wirral)||Moate, Roger|
|Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)||Monro, Sir Hector|
|Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas||Moore, John|
|Irvine, Rt Hon Bryant Godman||Morgan, Geraint|
|Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)||Morris, M. (N'hampton S)|
|Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick||Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)|
|Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey||Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)|
|Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Mudd, David|
|Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith||Myles, David|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Neale, Gerrard|
|Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine||Needham, Richard|
|Kershaw, Sir Anthony||Nelson, Anthony|
|Kimball, Sir Marcus||Neubert, Michael|
|King, Rt Hon Tom||Newton, Tony|
|Knox, David||Normanton, Tom|
|Nott, Rt Hon Sir John||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Onslow, Cranley||Sproat, Iain|
|Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.||Squire, Robin|
|Osborn, John||Stainton, Keith|
|Page, John (Harrow, West)||Stanley, John|
|Page, Richard (SW Herts)||Steen, Anthony|
|Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil||Stevens, Martin|
|Parris, Matthew||Stewart, A.(E Renfrewshire)|
|Patten, John (Oxford)||Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)|
|Pattie, Geoffrey||Stokes, John|
|Pawsey, James||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Percival, Sir Ian||Tapsell, Peter|
|Peyton, Rt Hon John||Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman|
|Pink, R. Bonner||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Pollock, Alexander||Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.|
|Porter, Barry||Thomas, Rt Hon Peter|
|Prentice, Rt Hon Reg||Thompson, Donald|
|Price, Sir David (Eastleigh)||Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)|
|Prior, Rt Hon James||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Pym, Rt Hon Francis||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Raison, Rt Hon Timothy||Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)|
|Rathbone, Tim||Trippier, David|
|Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)||Trotter, Neville|
|Renton, Tim||Vaughan, Dr Gerard|
|Rhodes James, Robert||Waddington, David|
|Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Wakeham, John|
|Ridley, Hon Nicholas||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Ridsdale, Sir Julian||Walker, Rt Hon P.(W'cester)|
|Rifkind, Malcolm||Walker, B. (Perth)|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.|
|Rossi, Hugh||Wall, Sir Patrick|
|Rost, Peter||Waller, Gary|
|Royle, Sir Anthony||Walters, Dennis|
|Rumbold, Mrs A. C. R.||Ward, John|
|Sainsbury, Hon Timothy||Warren, Kenneth|
|St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.||Watson, John|
|Scott, Nicholas||Wells, Bowen|
|Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')||Wheeler, John|
|Shelton, William (Streatham)||Whitelaw, Rt Hon William|
|Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)||Whitney, Raymond|
|Shepherd, Richard||Wickenden, Keith|
|Shersby, Michael||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Silvester, Fred||Williams, D.(Montgomery)|
|Sims, Roger||Wolfson, Mark|
|Skeet, T. H. H.||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Smith, Dudley||Younger, Rt Hon George|
|Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Speed, Keith||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Spence, John||Mr. Anthony Berry and|
|Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)||Mr. Carol Mather.|