§ 11.5 a.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Miss Mervyn Pike)
With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement on the question of the admission to this country of Mr. J. Williams and his family from South Africa.
On 26th March, Mr. Williams and his wife and five sons arrived at Southampton. Mr. Williams at first claimed that they had come for a holiday visit, but later admitted that they wished to stay here permanently, and that he and two of his sons wished to seek employment here. No member of the family held a Ministry of Labour work permit; no accommodation had been arranged, and the funds at Mr. Williams's disposal would not have enabled him to maintain himself and his family for any substantial period.
In these circumstances, and in accordance with normal policy, Mr. Williams and his family were refused leave to land. At no stage was any request made for political asylum and I have no evidence to suggest that there is any valid ground for such a request.
So long as the circumstances remain unchanged, there are no grounds for altering the decision already taken. The House will, however, wish to know in what circumstances any member of the Williams family would be eligible for labour permits. The position is that if an employer in this country were to apply for a permit for either of the two elder sons, in respect of a genuine vacancy which cannot be filled by British or resident alien labour, the application would at once be favourably considered, and, if granted, the holder of the permit would be admitted as an individual.
1402 Mr. Williams, who is 68, is too old for a permit. Mrs. Williams is not too old and any application in respect of her would need to be considered in the light of her qualifications and her ability to undertake full-time employment.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am sure that the whole House will appreciate the consideration which was given by the Leader of the House and the hon. Lady to the representations which some of my hon. Friends and myself made to them about this case last night.
We appreciate the difficulties of this case, but we were hoping that instructions would be given to enable the whole of this family to be returned to England from South Africa on a boat leaving today. I still hope that that may be possible. The hon. Lady said that there is no evidence to suggest that there is arty need for—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Cannot we get all this into interrogatory form? At present, it is in the form of a speech, which is cut of order.
§ Mr. Fletcher
Would the hon. Lady give an assurance that if this family does not leave South Africa all possible steps will be taken to enable the whole family, if possible, to come to this country in the event of labour permits being obtained for some members of the family?