This minor amendment does little to remove or lessen the objections to this squalid and nasty Bill. It is typical that the Minister should seek to steer this squalid and nasty Bill through the House at 10.30 pm at night, aided by nine officials from the Home Office and after a trawl of the Tea Room, from where the semi-intellectual wing of the Conservative party has been dragged into the Chamber to give the Bill some support.
This Bill is friendless. Apart from the extreme Right wing of the Conservative party, the Bill has no friend at all. There is no one in favour of the Bill's provisions, no one who has clamoured for the Bill to be put on to the statute book, and no one—apart from the Government—who relishes the prospect of the Bill becoming law. Just how friendless it was could clearly be seen on Second Reading, when the Government secured the lowest majority so far achieved for any Bill—beaten only by the poll tax vote of recent weeks, which was even lower.
The amendment will do nothing to mitigate the fears and anxiety created by the Bill, especially clause 5. The Bill does nothing to help black and Asian communities, and the amendment will not remove the anger and resentment that it is creating throughout the country. It does nothing to help a constituent of mine who was widowed at the end of last year with five young children—the youngest two years old—and a small business to keep going. My constituent married recently, and he and his children are looking forward eagerly to his wife—their mother—joining them soon in Bradford.
I am sorry that the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, who was with us until a few minutes ago, has now left the Chamber. He wrote to me recently, in answer to my request that that woman be given a priority interview. He told me that she would have to wait until the end of this year, or early next year. He said that it would be wrong to grant her a priority interview, as it would mean that many others suffering from similar "compassionate" circumstances would not be given their interviews in time. If that is the case, instead of wasting time discussing the amendment and the Bill, the House should be discussing how the family of my constituent—and the families of others who the Minister tells me are in similar "compassionate" difficulties—can be united and their fear and anxiety alleviated.