Dr. Fawzi B. Ramadan

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 10:26 pm on 31st July 1984.

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Photo of Mr Bernard Conlan Mr Bernard Conlan , Gateshead East 10:26 pm, 31st July 1984

This case is of the greatest importance, not only because of its details but because of its fundamental underlying principles from which lessons can be learnt. It might be of advantage to the House if I briefly spell out the history of this case, involving a medical doctor in my constituency of Gateshead who is a Libyan national. Dr. Ramadan is doing an excellent job in the Gateshead group of hospitals looking after the sick people of the area. He and his family have been resident in this country for three to four years. Dr. Ramadan has received permission to work here until February 1986.

It has been customary for Dr. Ramadan and his family to return to their home in Libya for a holiday. In May 1984, Dr. Ramadan's wife and two children returned to Libya to take a short holiday. Before the holiday was completed, the crisis of the Libyan People's bureau in St. James's square blew up, and there was the regrettable and sad incident when WPC Fletcher was killed. That led to the breaking off of diplomatic relations with Libya and the closing of the embassy in Libya.

Dr. Ramadan's wife was involved and embroiled in the diplomatic crisis that blew up between the United Kingdom and Libya. She could not apply to the British embassy in Tripoli, Libya, for a re-entry visa because the breaking of the diplomatic relations between the two countries had closed the embassy. On advice, she understood that our embassy in Paris was then dealing with all outstanding questions concerning Libyan nationals who wished to enter or re-enter the United Kingdom.

Mrs. Ramadan, together with her two children, accordingly left Libya and travelled to Paris, where she approached the British embassy. She told the embassy "We have lived in the United Kingdom for four years. My husband is doing an excellent job of work in the Gateshead hospitals. We want to return to the United Kingdom and re-unite the family." The embassy in Paris, lo and behold, said, "No, we are sorry, but there is a blanket restriction on the re-entry to the United Kingdom of all Libyan nationals until diplomatic affairs between the two countries are sorted out."

That was two months ago. So there were the wife and her two children, stranded in Paris, with very little money, and with only the clothes that they took for a holiday. They were in a terribly difficult situation. Therefore, the doctor approached the Home Office and said, "Please let me be re-united with my family." He received no reply. He telephoned the Home Office several times and received no satisfaction. Out of desperation he approached me.

Traditionally, the Home Office is responsible for all matters concerning the immigrant population in the United Kingdom, so on 28 June I wrote to the Minister of State, Home Office, the Minister responsible for such matters, and I implored him to consider the need to re-admit Mrs. Ramadan and her two children so that they could be reunited as a family. I received, of course, the usual acknowledgment card, which meant no more than that my letter had been received.

Then on 11 July I received what I considered to be an extremely disturbing letter from the consultant physician of the Gateshead group of hospitals, Mr. G. V. Williams, in which he indicated to me that the physical separation of the family was affecting Dr. Ramadan's work. That is hardly surprising. I am sure that if the Minister were physically separated from his family his work at the House would suffer and he would not give his wholehearted attention to his work at the Foreign Office.