HC Deb 11 November 1982 vol 31 cc692-761 4.54 pm
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. William Whitelaw)

I beg to move, That this House takes note of the Proposals for revision of the Immigration Rules, Cmnd. 8683.

Mr. Speaker

I have selected the amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Whitelaw

On 25 October I published a White Paper setting out proposals for changes in the immigration rules on the coming into force of the British Nationality Act on 1 January next year. I said in the Supply day debate on immigration in June this year that we would give time for a proper debate on these changes. There has already been an opportunity to study our proposals in the White Paper. I want today to set them in the context both of the 1981 Act and of our record on immigration. I shall listen with care to suggestions that may be made here or in another place for modifications in these proposals. After these debates, and in the light of what is said in them, I shall lay a statement of changes in the rules before Parliament later in the year. The new rules will apply to all decisions taken on or after 1 January next year, with the limited exceptions mentioned in the section on transitional provisions.

Under the Immigration Act I am required to lay before Parliament a statement of the rules, or changes in the rules, laid down by me as to the practice to be followed in the administration of the Immigration Act for regulating the entry into, and stay in, the United Kingdom of persons who are required by the Act to have leave to enter.

The present immigration rules are drafted in terms of the present law. When the British Nationality Act comes into force next year the status of citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies, which occurs in the present rules, will be replaced by the three alternative new citizenships introduced by the Act. The Act also provides that certain children born in the United Kingdom will not be British citizens and it will be necessary to deal with the immigration position of such children. The immigration rules therefore must be changed and my proposals are set out in the White Paper.

Before dealing with the rules I want to refer to the British Nationality Act 1981, which, as I say, is the essential factor behind the present changes. I shall remind the House of the purpose and philosophy of the Act. The main reason why it was necessary to replace the existing law was quite simply that the citizenship created by the British Nationality Act 1948 had long ceased to give any clear indication of who had the right to enter the United Kingdom. Citizenship and the right of abode, which ought to be related, had over the years parted company from each other.

One could be a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies and not have the right of abode in the United Kingdom. On the other hand, one could have the right of abode without being a citizen. In consequence, holders of the present citizenship could, not surprisingly, be encouraged to believe, despite the immigration law to the contrary, that they had a right of entry to the United Kingdom. In the words of the Opposition in their Green Paper on nationality, the present situation is "misleading and unsatisfactory". The British Nationality Act now gives us a clear idea of who belongs here, and so remedies a problem which has been the source of difficulties over a long period. In future, the status of British citizens will define those who have a close connection with this country, and who have the right of abode here.

We promised in our manifesto that we would amend the nationality law. We have done so. It has been a major achievement of this Government. We now have a sensible and reasonable nationality law, which will provide a far better basis for effective immigration control in future.

That vital change in nationality law requires us—as was made clear during the passage of the Bill—to look again at the provisions in the immigration rules which refer to citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies. The main place where some change is inescapable is in the rules about husbands and fiancés. Under the present rules a woman citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies is entitled to be joined here by her husband or fiancé, subject to certain tests relating to the genuineness of the marriage being satisfied, and provided that she was born in the United Kingdom or that one of her parents was born here. The intention of the proviso about the place of birth was to confine the right to bring in husbands and fiancés to women who had a close and substantial connection with this country. The immigration rule made in 1980 had to provide its own definition of who these women were, as our citizenship law did not then contain one.

The question at issue, as in 1980, is what is the appropriate test to define those women who, because of their close connection with this country, should have the right, subject to certain safeguards, to be joined here by a husband or fiancé. But we now have to decide this in the light of the British Nationality Act. The Act has created the status of British citizen to define people who belong here. A British citizen has the right of abode here. He or she is not subject to immigration control.

Having created this definition of those who belong, it is right to rely on it. The obvious, consistent and—I submit—proper course is to apply the test whether someone is a British citizen to determine whether she has a sufficiently close connection with this country to qualify to be joined here by her husband.

Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Whitelaw

I want as many right hon. and hon. Members as possible to have the chance to express their views. As my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) has played a leading part in the debate, perhaps I should give way to him, but the more I give way, the fewer hon. Members will be able to take part.

Mr. Stanbrook

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend, who is always courteous in such matters. He said that the change was "inescapable". He has not justified that assertion, because the old definition referred to citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies with the right of abode. That covers people born here or whose parents were born here. We do not, therefore, need the change. How can he say that it is "inescapable"?

Mr. Whitelaw

I was just about to deal with the possibility of remaining with the present rule. Under the British nationality Act we set up a new citizenship, so it must be right to attach our immigration rules to that citizenship under the British nationality law.

It would be possible—here I come to my hon. Friend's point—to retain the effect of the present rule. If we did that, the new rules would cover women who are British citizens, provided that they were born here or one of their parents was born here. In other words, some British citizens would have had the right to be joined here by a husband or fiancé, while others would not. We believe that in the light of the new situation created by the 1981 Act it is right that all British citizens—subject to certain safeguards—should be able to qualify under this rule to be joined here by their husband or fiancé.

Let me explain these safeguards. We believe that it is necessary to retain the existing tests to prevent abuse of the marriage rules for immigration purposes. Under our proposals, the tests that we introduced in 1980 will continue to apply. They provide that the marriage must not be contracted primarily for immigration reasons, that the couple must have met, and that there is a genuine intention to live together permanently. We said then that we were concerned at the way in which marriage was being used as an instrument of immigration. The settlement of men who use marriage in this way undermines the rules, and we are firmly committed to maintaining the present tests. If there is a genuine relationship and immigration is not the main motive, a man will qualify. And surely it is reasonable to insist on the couple having met.

Other important safeguards will continue to exist. Fiancés are admitted for only three months and have to show at the end of that time that they have married, otherwise they will not be allowed to stay here. Husbands are given 12 months' leave. At the end of that time the position is checked and if the marriage has broken down they, too, will not be allowed to stay. We shall retain these safegards.

Mr. Nick Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)

My right hon. Friend referred to a genuine relationship. Will he confirm that the rules proposed in the White Paper would allow all those who entered into arranged marriages to come here provided that there had been a preliminary meeting?

Mr. Whitelaw

No, I do not accept that. It has to be shown that the marriage has not been contracted for immigration purposes. We stick by the rules which my hon. Friend and many others supported strongly when we introduced them. We are keeping them exactly the same as they were.

I want to make another very important point. These draft rules will not benefit women who are not citizens, contrary to what is proposed in the Opposition amendment. We see no grounds for giving settled women who are not citizens the right to be joined here by their husbands or fiancés. Such women have not demonstrated any long-term intention of throwing in their lot with this country. They have the citizenship of another country, retaining it, presumably, because of the close ties that they still have with that country. Their status while they reside here is that there is no time limit on their stay, but they are subject to our immigration control, and they lose the right to live here if they are away for more than two years.

Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)

Will the Home Secretary explain here and now why he sees no purpose or principle involved in not giving that right to settled women when he proposes to give it to settled men?

Mr. Whitelaw

The reason is simply that I have stuck to the position that it is right to give it to women who are British citizens, but not to those who are simply settled here. I do not accept that they have the same connection. I realise that the Opposition's argument is different, and I hope that my hon. Friends who doubt what I am doing will note that the Opposition have a different view on settled women.

Mr. Budgen

My right hon. Friend is sexist on that issue.

Mr. Hattersley

I hope that by the end of the afternoon no one will have any doubt that the Opposition take a different view from that of the Government Back Benchers who have tabled an amendment. Will the Home Secretary answer the question? If it is not right to allow women who are settled here to bring in husbands, why is it right to allow men who are settled here to bring in wives?

Mr. Whitelaw

The right for men was established in the 1971 Act. That is the position and I believe that it should remain. [Interruption.] The 1971 Act established that right for men. That is why it is there.

Let me emphasise, therefore, that the changes proposed in the White Paper will leave the position fundamentally different from that which applied under the previous Government and which the Opposition by their amendment clearly wish to bring back. The tests that we introduced to stop men from coming here where the marriage is primarily for immigration purposes, or where the parties have not met, will continue to apply; and women who are not British citizens under the British Nationality Act which was passed by this Government will not benefit.

Mr. Jim Marshall (Leicester, South)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Whitelaw

I am sorry, but I shall not give way again. If I do I shall stop right hon. and hon. Members from taking part. I have given way to my hon. Friends who have a main interest, but I shall not give way again.

Mr. T. H. H. Skeet (Bedford)

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Jim Marshall

Give way.

Mr. Whitelaw

I shall not give way, because I shall prevent others from taking part if I do. I have given way a great deal already. It is right to get on.

Mr. Skeet


Mr. Whitelaw

Very well, I shall give way to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Skeet

The European Commission of Human Rights had before it the case known as Mrs. Springer v. The United Kingdom. Five women applicants were involved. Would any of the fiancés or husbands of those women be admissible into the United Kingdom under the changed rules?

Mr. Jim Marshall


Mr. Whitelaw

If I give way too often I shall prevent other hon. Members from speaking.

Mr. Jim Marshall


Mr. Whitelaw

I cannot give way to the hon. Gentleman. I gave way to my hon. Friend because he had a detailed point to make, which I shall ensure is answered for him.

Miss Joan Lestor (Eton and Slough)

If we were to cross the Floor of the House, would the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Whitelaw

I should be happy to give way if by doing so—the House knows that I normally give way—I should not destroy the opportunities for many hon. Members to express their views. I am seeking to preserve the rights of hon. Members. The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) and others want shorter speeches. I am seeking to help him and other hon. Members. That being so, it is right for me not to give way any more.

The tests that we have introduced to stop men from coming here where the marriage is primarily for immigration reasons, or where the parties have not met, will continue to apply. Women who are not British citizens under the British Nationality Act 1981 will not benefit. I assure my right hon. and hon. Friends who have tabled an amendment that there is no question of our going back to the even more open door policy of 1974 as their amendment suggests.

It is not possible to give a precise estimate of what the effect of these changes will be on the numbers of people applying to come here. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State explained the difficulties about giving a precise estimate in his evidence to the Sub-Committee of the Select Committee on Home Affairs. Any estimate has to be based on a number of uncertainties. We do not know how many British citizen women will marry foreign men, or how many of them will wish to live here, rather than in their husband's country. We do not know how many women who might wish to acquire British citizenship will in fact apply for it and qualify. There are a whole range of uncertainties of this kind, relating to people's future intentions.

All that we have felt able to say—and this figure was given by my right hon. Friend to the Select Committee—is that in the Indian subcontinent, where the majority of applications are made, an upper estimate of the number of extra applications which might be made is 2,500 to 3,000 a year. This is a maximum figure based on a comparison of the number of applications made before and after the rules were changed in 1980. But we are not returning to the position pre-1980, and the numbers will therefore almost certainly be less. I emphasise, therefore, that the figure of 2,500 to 3,000 is the maximum effect which the changes could have on applications in the subcontinent. That figure has to be set in the context of the overall figures for settlement in this country. Settlement has declined ever since this Government took office.

Before leaving the subject of the rules on husbands I shall refer briefly to the complaints that have been made to the European Commission of Human Rights about the present rules. The Commission has found three cases admissible; that is to say, it has found that there is an issue to be considered under the convention. It has not reached any decision yet on the merits. At present it is seeking to effect a friendly settlement between the parties. The final decision in these cases will be a matter for the Committee of Ministers or the Court of Human Rights. The present proceedings, including the friendly settlement proceedings, are confidential. The Government have always said that they believe they have strong arguments to justify the rules if they are challenged under the convention. That remains our position. The rules are being changed, as I have made clear, because of the changes made by the British Nationality Act 1981.

The other main changes in these rules relate to children born in the United Kingdom who are not British citizens. It has been said that we are introducing new restrictions in the rules, that the children concerned will be stateless and that the rules will lead to an administrative muddle. Let me say clearly what we have done. The British Nationality Act 1981 provides that a child born here to parents who have no permanent basis here is not a British citizen. Provided that one of the parents is a British citizen or settled the child will be a British citizen. If one of them subsequently becomes a British citizen or settled the child will have the right to be registered as a British citizen. If the child himself stays here for 10 years, again he will have the right to be registered as a British citizen. But if he is born here to parents who are, for instance, visitors or students and who never become settled here he will not qualify for British citizenship, unless he builds up an entitlement in his own right by long residence.

It is nonsense to imply, as some critics have done, that the children involved will be stateless or lost in some sort of nationality and immigration limbo. The child will normally acquire the citizenship of his parents, since in the great majority of cases the country involved will have a citizenship law which is either similar to ours or which provides for indefinite transmission by descent. In the very rare cases where a child does not acquire the citizenship of his parents, bearing in mind that the family is only here temporarily, it is reasonable to look to the country of the parents to put that situation right, assuming that he will be going there with his parents. However, apart from the provisions that I have mentioned enabling a child to be registered as a citizen, schedule 2 to the Act contains special provisions designed to reduce statelessness especially where the child is resident in our territory for a certain period. These fully satisfy our international obligations in this area.

The Government see no reason why a child should have our citizenship simply because his parents happen to be in the United Kingdom when he is born. He has no close connection with this country. There is no reason why he should be able to transmit citizenship acquired by virtue of his birth to generations born abroad, thus building up a pool of citizens with the right of abode here. There is no reason why the existence of a child born in the United Kingdom should prevent us from deporting a child with his parents when they are overstayers; nor why we should continue to allow those parents to leave the child behind in the United Kingdom if they so wish. These new provisions will enable us, through the British Nationality Act, to exercise a more effective immigration control.

We have now to deal with the position of those children in the immigration rules. In principle—and it is the obvious course of action—the draft rules treat them in line with their parents. If the parents are lawfully here, the child will be given permission to stay for the same period as the parents. If the child leaves he will be readmitted with or to join a parent lawfully here, provided that he has not been away for more than two years. If he is away longer than that he will have to qualify in the same way as any other child. Immigration officers are used to dealing with non-British children travelling separately from their parents. I believe that they will continue to deal sensibly and sensitively with them in the new situation.

The other changes in the rules are relatively minor. We have raised the minimum capital or income required of persons wishing to come here as business men, self-employed or persons of independent means. We first introduced these limits in 1980 because there was evidence that the provisions in the rules were being exploited.

There are some lengthy new passages in the White Paper about European Community nationals which are mainly drafting changes. The only change of any substance is that most European Community nationals will no longer be obliged to register with the police. European Community nationals are required to obtain residence permits if they wish to stay here for more than six months. It leads to duplication and expense to require them to register with the police as well. It will continue to be possible to impose a requirement to register with the police in any case where this may be desirable.

Various other detailed changes have been made relating to students, returning residents and work permit holders; and there are some drafting changes to reflect new terminology introduced by the 1981 Act. The rules continue to provide for the admission of persons issued with special vouchers, who following the changes made in the Act will become British overseas citizens.

The two main changes, however, are those involving husbands and fiancés and children born here and they have to be seen in the context of the 1981 Act. They also have to be seen in the context of the Government's record on immigration. We have said all along that we are fully committed to firm immigration control. This remains our policy.

In our first year of office we carried out a comprehensive review of the immigration rules, which led to a tightening of the rules in all areas. The entry of foreign husbands and fiancés was one area, and the measures that we took in so far as they affect settled women who are not citizens, as well as the tests that we introduced of the nature of the relationship, will still apply. But we restricted admissions of dependants to the really compassionate cases. We took a series of measures to stop people who came here as visitors or students from switching to another category as a means of obtaining settlement. The work permit scheme was tightened. We introduced minimum capital and income requirements for business men. All these measures have been effective.

At 30 June 1982 the number in the queues in the Indian subcontinent for entry clearance for immediate settlement had fallen by about 60 per cent. from the equivalent figure when the Government took office. The downward trend is continuing.

The total number of people accepted for settlement in the year ending 30 June 1982 showed a fall of about a quarter compared with the equivalent figure when we took office in 1979. This was the lowest figure for a full year since the passing of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962—a measure which the Labour Party likes to forget it vigorously opposed.

The Government promised in the manifesto to change the nationality law. The passing of the British Nationality Act was a major achievement, which has put nationality law on a rational footing. I utterly repudiate the suggestion in the Opposition's amendment that the Act is racially and sexually discriminatory. The present proposals for changes in the rules are a logical consequence of the Act. I invite the House to take note of these proposals, which the Government consider are the right ones in the light of the Act and in the light of our record on firm immigration control.

I must contrast the attitude of this Government with that revealed in the Opposition amendment. After a passing reference to the need for immigration control, their proposals make it clear that they would increase the opportunities for the emigration of large numbers of people to this country. That is the message that they are seeking to put across and that is why I invite my right hon. and hon. Friends to join me in voting against the amendment.

5.22 pm
Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: 'whilst accepting the need for immigration control, declines to support the Immigration Rules in the White Paper Cmnd. 8683 which are based on the racially and sexually discriminatory principles of the British Nationality Act 1981, and which propose immigration regulations which, despite the inclusion of one concession forced upon the Government by the European Commission of Human Rights, deprive some children of the right to re-enter the country of their birth, prevent women legally resident here from being united with their husbands in this country, obstruct British citizens from providing care and protection to their dependent relatives and unreasonably exclude legitimate visitors from the United Kingdom.'.

The amendment describes, as far as is possible in a single paragraph, the Labour Party's principal objections to the White Paper, and we shall wish to divide the House. The motion simply requests the House to take note of the White Paper—of its existence and content. That is a slightly less than heroic request from the Home Secretary, but it is the nearest that he dare come to asking his Back Benchers to support the proposal. I shall not participate in the internal Conservative argument by taking part in the second vote, but I look forward to seeing to what extent the hon. Gentlemen from the Home Counties, who have been vocal in their opposition to the White Paper, carry the courage of their convictions into the "No" Lobby. I suspect that the dissenting Conservative Members who have made such a fuss are about to suffer an almost unique fate. They are about to be outsmarted by the Home Secretary.

The right hon. Gentleman tells us that the new parts of the immigration regulations are the inevitable and necessary product of the British Nationality Act 1981. He said that the Act was the essential factor behind the changes. That is palpably untrue of the new proposal in paragraph 50. On whatever side of the argument hon. Members find themselves, I doubt whether any of us believes that paragraph 50, which deals with the rights of British wives, has been introduced for that calm and objective reason. It proposes that husbands of British citizens, whether their wives are British by birth or by registration, should be allowed to enter this country. That is the one concession to humanity in the White Paper, and it was forced on the Government by the European Commission of Human Rights.

Another major change proposed in the White Paper is directly and irrefutably the result of the British Nationality Act—that governing the admission of children. The new rules governing the entry of children have been made immensely more complicated. The interests of children have been cruelly prejudiced by the Act's proposal that the automatic right to British citizenship of every child born in this country should be removed.

I do not know whether the complication will enable the Home Secretary on subsequent occasions to expand on the type of peroration that we had at the end of his speech, playing the immigration numbers game in a disreputable way of which I did not believe him capable, but the next Labour Government will restore the right of every child born in Britain to receive automatic British citizenship without question or qualification. The next Labour Government will repeal the Act and replace it with a statement of British citizenship that is neither racially nor sexually discriminatory. Our immigration regulations will flow from that new Act and will not discriminate between the races or the sexes.

Mr. K. Harvey Proctor (Basildon)

How many more immigrants will come from the new Commonwealth and Pakistan as a result of those changes?

Mr. Hattersley

I shall give figures as I go through the proposals. The figures will certainly not be as large as the sum that the hon. Gentleman gives to the Society of St. George and other organisations of which he is a member.

The regulations discriminate against women and between the sexes. No one on the Opposition Benches, suggests that we do not need immigration regulations,. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen might do themselves, as well as the House, the courtesy of reading the statement that was carried unanimously at the Labour Party conference this year which made that clear. We have always accepted the need for immigration control, of which the regulations are a part, but we insist that regulations must be humane and just. As I propose to demonstrate—

Mr. Budgen

If the right hon. Gentleman rejects all the concepts of racism and sexism, as he dubs all immigration controls, will he explain why the Labour Party is still in favour of immigration control?

Mr. Hattersley

For the simple reason that I shall offer the hon. Gentleman in simple language. We believe that entry to the United Kingdom should be limited to a number of people who qualify for it because of either British citizenship or permanent residence here. Our distinction and our argument with the hon. Gentleman is that we do not believe that another qualification should be imposed that states that the person may be British, but he is black, or she is a woman, so that person shall not have the full rights. If I put it in such simple terms I hope that even the hon. Gentleman will understand.

The Opposition made it clear that the immigration regulations that we want can be operated in honour and decency. That is not so with the proposals in the White Paper. I shall make my position clear from the most obvious example, which is the rule governing the entry of husbands and wives into this country. It is the obvious and glaring example of the injustice that is perpetrated between the rights of men and women. Despite the Home Secretary's bland assurance that there is no distinction between the sexes, which I suspect that he gave in good faith because he does not understand the import of his own White Paper, the White Paper allows wives of men who are settled in the United Kingdom but are not British citizens to enter into this country, but it prevents the husbands of women who are settled in the United Kingdom but are not British citizens from doing the same thing.

By any standards that is discrimination between the sexes. It defeats me how the Home Secretary can deny that proposition. I am delighted that Conservative Members in every section of the Back Benches nodded when I mentioned the discriminatory nature of that provision. Some approve of it. I suspect that some disapprove of it. However, there is no doubt that there is discrimination. I wish that the Home Secretary would read his own White Paper, understand that the discrimination is there and stop pretending that that point does not appertain.

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Grantham)

The right hon. Gentleman criticised the rules on the ground that they were discriminatory. I think that the right hon. Gentleman will also agree that they are similar to the proposals that were introduced in 1970 by the then Labour Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan). Did the right hon. Gentleman voice those criticisms of principle when his right hon. Friend introduced measures which are nearly the same as those now before the House?

Mr. Hattersley

Not only is my answer to the hon. Gentleman's question "Yes", but I rejoiced when five years afterwards we changed the regulations and made them non-discriminatory in terms of race and sex. It is generally agreed on both sides of the House, with the possible exception of the Home Secretary—

Mr. Budgen

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hattersley

No. I gave way to the hon. Gentleman a moment ago. I do not think that the House found it rewarding. I shall go on with the points that I was making. That rule is not only discriminatory between the sexes but is intended to be discriminatory between the sexes. It was intentionally, some people might say cynically, discriminatory between the sexes. I refer Conservative Members to the speech made by the then shadow Home Secretary in Leicester on 7 April 1978 when he said that, the abode of the husband in marriage should normally be viewed as the natural place of residence.

Hon. Members

"Hear, hear."

Mr. Hattersley

Conservative Back-Bench Members are entitled to cry "Hear, hear", because their party manifesto promised to implement that item of old world prejudice. The manifesto said: We shall end the concession introduced by the Labour Government in 1974 to husbands and male fiancés.

I was so moved by the Home Secretary's statement that all British women, however they had achieved British citizenship, whether by birth or registration, should be treated equally that I almost forgot that he was the Home Secretary who decided that the two categories should be treated differently. That paragraph in the manifesto implemented a decision to treat different categories of British citizens in different ways. That is a shameful thing, made all the more shameful by how the Conservative Government operated it.

I remind Conservative Back Benchers how the Conservative Government operated that principle. Initially, they promised to end the concession altogether, but they discovered that if they ended it altogether they would penalise white women as well as black. Therefore, they modified and refined their proposals. They said that only women who were British by birth or women whose parents, or one parent, were British should be allowed to bring husbands into the country. The net result was that British women who were black were penalised compared with white British women. That situation has existed until today. That is the situation which, in part, the Home Secretary wishes to rectify. It is the situation which some Conservative Back Benchers condemn the Home Seretary for trying to improve.

Mr. David Ennals (Norwich, North)

Presumably the Home Secretary accepts that that category includes people from British colonies. I am thinking of Hong Kong. One of my constituents has lived here since she was nine. She went to school here. She married a man from Hong Kong. He went back to Hong Kong to visit his parents and was not allowed back to this country. My constituent has had a baby, but still her husband is not allowed in. He comes not just from some other part of the world, but from a country for which Britain has direct responsibility.

Mr. Hattersley

I have great sympathy with my right hon. Friend. Some examples will not be encompassed by the one adjustment that the Home Secretary is making. I want to make this point clear. The Home Secretary is offering his concession to only one group of people—women who are British by registration. I think that that is my right hon. Friend's point. There is still a large number of women in this country, probably 1,200, who were not born here, but who came here in their infancy. This is the only home that they know. They are British by education and experience. However, they have not paid and perhaps could not pay £200 for registration. They may not be able to wait the two years allowed for registration. They are still to be denied the right to marry the husband of their choice. That is shameful, though it does not seem shameful to the Government or the Conservative Back Benchers who support them.

Mr. Edward Lyons (Bradford, West)

Is it not also right that not only is it a question of the time taken to obtain citizenship, but that abroad there is a queue of fiancés or husbands who have to wait two years or two and a half years between application and interview? Therefore, the process will take about five years.

Mr. Hattersley

The hon. and learned Gentleman was right to raise that point. In civil rights there is a habit of establishing the opportunity, the principle and the right of the individual and then making it almost impossible for that right to be exercised because of the administrative complications. However, that matter is on the periphery of the principle that we are discussing, although it will bear directly on a number of individuals who are covered by those cases.

I want to say one thing to hon. Members who tabled the amendment that was not called—the late, if not lamented, amendment. They say that the one concession that the Home Secretary proposes is a breach of the promise made in the Conservative Party election manifesto. That is an incontrovertible truth. That election manifesto promised to end the concession that was introduced by the Labour Government. Part of that concession is being reintroduced. I welcome that readoption. I rejoice that the campaign run by the Labour Party has been successful. However, I do not pretend that it is not a breach of principle or promise.

Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Hattersley

No. I have only two things to say.

Mr. Wilkinson

With regard to the right hon. Gentleman's point about our manifesto—

Mr. Hattersley

I shall not give way.

I have only two things to say about the broken promise. It should never have been made in the first place, and it was a disgrace to the party that made it. As so many promises have been broken by the Government, why do Conservative Members complain about this one? Why do they want to rebel over this promise and draw attention to it? Labour Members rejoice that that item of Labour Party policy has been re-established, and we regard it as a victory for decency, even though it was imposed on the Government by the European Commission of Human Rights.

The Home Secretary has said that the proposal has been introduced as a result of the British Nationality Act. The Government have conceded that they are confronted with three cases at the European Commission of Human Rights. They have conceded that their plea on 11 May that the complaints by the three women were manifestly unfounded was rejected by the Commission.

I visited Strasbourg shortly after that and was told by every side that the Government were about to make this concession rather than go through the full rigours of Commission procedure. Indeed, I was told it on such authority that when I returned to the United Kingdom I made up for the Home Secretary's reticence by announcing in June that the concession was likely to be made.

We also know that the European Commission of Human Rights expects that it will eventually find against the Government in the cases of those women who are not citizens, but are resident here, and that it will require the Government to allow them to bring in their husbands. The Home Secretary had better appeal to his hon. Friends to rally against the European Commission, not against the Opposition, because the Commission will require him to make that concession. In honour, he ought to make the adjustment now, rather than let those women suffer the hardship with which they are faced.

The Home Secretary has known since June that he would have to make the change, yet for the past six months about 600 women who hoped to bring their husbands here have been denied the right to do so while the right hon. Gentleman was waiting for the most politically expedient moment to make this announcement.

Mr. Whitelaw

That is totally and utterly untrue, and I can prove it.

Mr. Hattersley

I always accept the right hon. Gentleman's words and I look forward with the greatest enthusiasm to the proof, to which I shall hold him. In the meantime, while he is providing the proof, will he give an assurance that those 600 women for whom the concession has now been made will be given priority in having their applications approved? By priority, I do not mem that they should advance over the rest of the queue, which is already too long, but why does not the right hon. Gentleman re-recruit the nine immigration officers by which he reduced the immigration officers' establishment and make sure that those 600 women who have been denied their rights, thanks to a decision of a Conservative Government, have their applications speedily processed?

The rules governing the entry of children, and even more so the rules governing the re-entry of children, are so riddled with uncertainties and complexities that even the Government suggest that children who have a statutory right to reside here should obtain written confirmation of their right to return before they leave this country. That is an extraordinary admission of the complications that are built into the regulations.

I am told that when the Minister of State met the National Council for Civil Liberties and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants he showed genuine concern about the examples of complexity and difficulty offered to him. Those organisations left that meeting hopeful that he would re-examine the rules in the light of the difficulties drawn to his attention. Will that re-examination take place, and is there some hope that many of the worst complications will be removed?

The official Opposition know very well that the complications are reinforced and exacerbated by the way in which the rules are applied. We know equally well—certainly those of us with experience of constituency cases—that since May 1979 applications for immigration into this country have been dealt with more harshly than they were in previous years.

I greatly doubt whether the Home Secretary is disposed to argue with that judgment, as his case is that the Government have dealt with these matters more toughly than did their predecessors. I repeat my view—perhaps the right hon. Gentleman is now in a mood to accept it—that either intentionally or informally the message has percolated down from the Government that they expect immigration officers to take a tougher attitude towards immigration applications. That tougher attitude is easily transferred to the implementation of rules of the sort that we are discussing because of the subjective judgments that the immigration officer is required to make. Even women who benefit from today's concession, if concession it be, must at some point convince an immigration officer of the honourable intentions of their intended husbands. The immigration officer must read the mind of the intended husband and decide whether he is really coming here to marry the woman of his choice whom he loves or is coming for the inestimable benefit of living in a community with 3½ million unemployed.

The way in which such subjective rules are applied in many cases results in hardship and suffering. Therefore, we can discuss the existing rules only on the understanding that another Government implementing different rules will want to make sure that their administration is carried out in a different manner.

There should be more objective tests to describe the rights to enter this country. Equally important, people who fail those objective tests should have the right to test and challenge their failure in the courts. Until that is possible, the immigrant and black British community will not believe that they or their relations living or staying abroad are receiving anything like justice.

Having talked about relaxing the rules, I know that some Conservative Members—perhaps the majority—will think that I want to move in quite the wrong direction. They may feel that a tougher regime than anything suggested by the Home Secretary is right and proper. Those who offer that course, other than the few who are blinded by prejudice, advocate it for two reasons, both of which are erroneous. The first concerns illegal immigrants and would-be illegal immigrants—a matter which has become an obsession in some quarters of the Conservative Party.

The Labour Opposition neither defend nor protect—we certainly do not support—illegal immigration. On the other hand, we do not overestimate its extent and the numbers involved. Under today's immigration rules and regulations, hundreds of genuine applicants, particularly visitors, are kept out of this country to ensure that a handful of "illegals" are not allowed to enter. That is morally indefensible.

It works particularly harshly against two classes of potential immigrants—visitors and dependent relatives. The Government are unable to give adequate and detailed figures for visitors. They are unable to break them down nation by nation and certainly not racially. Those of us who represent constituencies into which the immigrants came about 20 years ago and now, to some extent, represent the black British know well that hundreds of legitimate visitors from the new Commonwealth are turned away because of the suspicion that they want to come here to stay and work.

It is equally clear that many dependent relatives are prevented from coming here, partly because of the harsh application of the rules and partly because of the rules themselves. The ideas that a relative must be wholly dependent on the person with whom he or she lives or that such a relative must subsist at or below the poverty level in the country of origin are not only immoral, but wholly inconsistent with the Government's manifesto commitment to family life. It is not possible to say that one is committed to family life if one is committed only to white family life and regards black family life as a different issue and a different problem.

The second error that critics of the present rules fall into is their unwillingness to recognise, let alone accept, the mores, traditions, habits, culture and beliefs of the ethnic minorities. I refer to mores such as the willingness of ethnic minorities to spend large sums of money out of small incomes to visit relatives abroad, to take part in family gatherings or to attend religious festivals.

Mr. Tim Brinton (Gravesend)


Mr. Hattersley

No, I shall not give way.

I refer to mores such as the genuine character and, indeed, remarkable stability of arranged marriages which so many Conservative Members still cannot distinguish from the bogus marriage.

The test of a multi-racial society's acceptance and acceptability—indeed, the test of a decent society—is whether it understands and accommodates the attitudes of minorities. The White Paper does not pass that test. That is why the Opposition amendment has been tabled. That is why we shall divide the House on it.

5.51 pm
Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)

I am sorry that Mr. Speaker did not see fit to select the amendment standing in the name of my right hon. and hon. Friends and me. Nevertheless, I commend its terms to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary as an expression of view on this problem that is shared by many of his supporters on these Benches.

The British people must be at a loss to understand why the Government should change their policy on an important matter so quickly and so completely in the space of one Parliament. The Conservative Party that gave such prominence to the ending of the concession for foreign husbands in its election manifesto has thereby been made to look ridiculous.

We must remember that the exsiting rules on the admission of foreign husbands do not reflect the attitude only of Conservatives in 1979. Primary immigration into Britain had already reached such levels that even the Labour Government of 1969 had to act to cut out abuses of the rules. It was the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) when Home Secretary who, on 30 January 1969, announced with regard to foreign husbands: Their numbers have risen steeply over the last year or so and are now on such a scale that it seems that marriage is being used by many young men of working age as a means of entering, working and settling in this country. This abuse of the concession is inconsistent with the general scheme of Commonwealth immigration control, particularly the employment voucher scheme. The Government have, therefore, decided that the concession under which male Commonwealth citizens are allowed to settle here in right of their wife must be withdrawn."—[Official Report, 30 January 1969; Vol. 776, c. 367.] The concession was restored in 1974 but the abuse to which the then Home Secretary referred started again.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary referred to it when we debated the 1979 White Paper. On 4 December 1979 he said: Since the rules were changed in 1974, marriages have been contracted with the primary aim of enabling men to come here to work and settle. There can be no doubt about that … However, in the 12 months to mid-1979 the equivalent figure was 5,600 and we know from the number of applications in the pipeline that the pressure to come by this route is as keen as ever. What we are discussing is the question of men being able to use a provision in our immigration control which enables them to settle on marriage when they could qualify to come in no other way. We must stop this loophole. The Government have a clear mandate to do so. How right he was.

In the same debate, my right hon. Friend the Minister of State put the matter more graphically. He said: I have no doubt that marriage is used as a means of securing entry. What we are concerned about is not what might be called the normal to-and-fro movement by which young people may meet, marry and seek to live in the country of one or the other; we are talking of a predominantly one-way traffic. From my recent visit to the Indian sub-continent, I know that that happens. I have heard, on a number of occasions, young men who are seeking to come to the United Kingdom for the purpose of marriage openly and frankly say that their objective was economic. They have said that the reason why they wish to marry somebody whom they have never met and about whom they know very little is that it is the only way in which they can secure entry into the United Kingdom. There is absolutely no doubt about that. My right hon. Friend ended that debate with the following words: To pull this package to pieces would be damaging to immigration policy and race relations."—[Official Report, 4 December 1979; Vol. 975, c. 254, 368, 372.] That sentence is worth repeating. My right hon. Friend said that to pull to pieces the package that was evolved in 1979–80 would be damaging to immigration policy and race relations. He was absolutely right.

Why is the Conservative Party now being asked to stand on its head on this issue? [HON. MEMBERS: "Because you are wrong."] It has been said that the terms of the British Nationality Act 1981 have made the change necessary. That is what my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said in his opening speech. With all due respect to him, that is poppycock. Nothing of significance for immigration has been changed by the Act except for the vocabulary of immigration law and the circumstance of ineligible children who are born here. The amendments show that. We can see for ourselves how the existing rules may be changed by the proposals.

It is said that by providing a closer definition of national identity the Act allows us to take a fresh look at the subject. Yet that closer definition, as I tried to point out to my right hon. Friend in an intervention earlier, is more apparent than real. What was previously a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies with the right of abode in the United Kingdom—a real mouthful—became a British citizen under the Act. That change had no substantial immigration implications. It is a change of vocabulary. It enables us to tidy the law. The British citizen from the beginning of next year will be the same as the citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies with the right of abode in the United Kingdom as before. That is the answer to the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) who referred to British wives who were born in Britain or one of whose parents was born in Britain. They have a right of abode. They were the very category of people who have now become British citizens.

Some people say that the existing rules are racially discriminatory. Both my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and the Minister of State have rejected and continue to reject that allegation. I completely agree with them. One of the difficulties of this type of debate and a trap into which many Opposition Members fall is that they fail to recognise that discrimination is of the essence of immigration law. Race is irrelevant in that context.

It is also said that we must now provide for equal rights between the sexes and for all British citizens. That could be done, but the proposed new rules do not do it. There are still many inequalities in the law between British citizens and between men and women. Under the British Nationality Act, the rights of British citizens vary. For example, a person who acquires his citizenship by descent does not have the right to pass that nationality on to his children born abroad, but a naturalised immigrant citizen has that right. Why should there be such a difference between two classes of British citizen?

Mr. Wilkinson

My hon. Friend has said that race is irrelevant. If that is so, why does he seek to perpetuate the distinction in entitlement to bring husbands to this country as between British women born here or with a parent born here and the others?

Mr. Stanbrook

Simply because it has nothing to do with race.

Mr. Wilkinson

What has it to do with, then?

Mr. Stanbrook

I am surprised that my hon. Friend should fall into that trap. He should know that nobody is talking about race in this context. The colour of the person's skin is a matter of complete accident, whether the person was born in this country or not. It is a foul calumny to suggest that Parliament passes racially discriminatory legislation. We never do so on the grounds of race. Of course, the application of any particular law may fall unevenly upon people of different origins.

Mr. Hattersley


Mr. Stanbrook

I am simply stating the truth. No purpose is served in our law by distinguishing between people on grounds of race.

As for equality between the sexes, the proposed rules will still apply different standards to men and women. There will be no conditions upon the admission of foreign wives. They will not have to prove that they have met their husbands before. That condition applies only to foreign husbands. Inequalities of that nature will therefore continue. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] For once, I agreed with the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook when he spoke of the distinction whereby men settled here will have a right that women settled here do not have. There is no doubt that inequalities of this kind will continue, but they arise out of the recognition expressed by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State in the debate in 1979 that men had an economic motive for coming here whereas women's motives were primarily to join and to begin families. That difference of interest accounts for the distinctions that are preserved in our immigration law.

If the Government wish to give absolutely equal rights to British men and women, they should do so, but they should not make equality their excuse when they apply it in one area if they continue to deny it in another. Equality of the sexes is all right, but it is not an absolute virtue and it must take a back seat when the public interest demands a halt to primary immigration. As my right hon. Friend the Minister of State said in relation to the 1979 White Paper, the object of the rule and the withdrawal of the concession was to seal off an avenue of primary immigration. It was the abuse of the concession that led to its being stopped by the Labour Government in 1969 and by the present Government in 1980 and there is no evidence to suggest that that abuse will not recur.

It is further suggested that Britain may be in trouble with the European Convention on Human Rights, which emphasises the right to marriage, to a family life and to equality between the sexes. I have never heard such stuff and nonsense as the suggestion that a committee composed of representatives of some 21 foreign Governments meeting in Strasbourg has the right to dictate to us what British domestic law should be. Not even the European Assembly—the so-called European Parliament, which is at least elected—can do that.

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Grantham)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Stanbrook

No. It is most unkind of some of my hon. Friends to link the European Economic Community with a quite different European institution which pretends to know more about human rights than we do. On this occasion, it is not the EEC that is intervening in British domestic law but an entirely different institution. If we take that institution as seriously as we have done so far and as the Opposition wish us to take it—[HON. MEMBERS: "We are signatories to the convention."]—it is clear that the application of the abstract and general principles of the convention amount to dictatorship to this House on what British law should be. It pretends to know more about human rights than we do, and I challenge that view.

There is no justification for the parliamentary Conservative Party having to do an about-turn on this issue and marching solemnly in the opposite direction to that which it followed two years ago. Those of us who have signed the amendment to which I have referred are not sheep and we do not intend to be treated as such. I implore my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to think again before asking the House to approve the proposals in their present form.

6.6 pm

Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Down, South)

The Home Secretary is quite right to point out to the House that the category of persons affected by the rule that is primarily the subject of today's debate is limited. He estimates that between 2,500 and 3,000 persons per year will be affected. Whether that is exactly right, none of us, including the Home Secretary himself, can say, but he is probably right when he predicts that the number is likely to be of that order in the foreseeable future.

The Home Secretary could also have justly observed, although he did not use this argument, that that category will automatically diminish to vanishing point with the effluxion of time, as through continuous application of the 1981 Act all or nearly all the persons concerned who wish to bring husbands into this country will be British citizens by birth.

The Home Secretary would be mistaken, however, if he thought that it was that narrow anxiety about a relatively small and diminishing quota which led to 50 names being put to an amendment opposing the proposed rules, even though it has not been disputed that one of the rules involves a volte face within two years on the part of the Government.

It has been the characteristic—perhaps it is part of the tragedy—of this whole subject that we have often appeared to be debating small matters when we were really debating very large matters indeed. We have debated details when the whole basis of our citizenship law was in question. Certainly no one would quarrel with the Home Secretary's statement that today's debate derives from the contents of the British Nationality Act 1981.

Thirty years ago, when these events began to develop, it was our nationality law—its basis in allegiance which we had only partially modified in 1948—which made possible a wholly unintended and unwished influx into this country from the new Commonwealth. For year after year, instead of addressing ourselves to the principles of our citizenship law, we preferred to plug holes in the dyke and create new categories and distinctions instead of going straight to the heart of the matter, the basic essential of all citizenship law—status, who we are, and who, therefore, has the right not merely to enter this country but to exercise all the rights of a citizen.

When, after 30 years—from many points of view too late—we eventually provided this country with what every other country in the world has—its own citizenship—we introduced a major alteration in the transmission of nationality, a change which a number of us opposed strongly and voted against. It is that change that is producing its effect in the context of these rules—an effect that goes much further, and is perceived to go much further than the actual rules under debate. The effect is certainly the cause of much of the anxiety that expresses itself in the debate and in the amendment on the Order Paper.

Before the British Nationality Act 1948, it was the automatic consequence of a British subject marrying that his wife became a British subject. It was a consequence implicit in the very institution and fact of marriage. The man being the bearer of the status and his being the primary expression of nationality, it was the consequence of his marrying that his wife necessarily and automatically—although, of course, she could abjure it—became a sharer in his nationality and his status as a citizen. The 1948 Act only partially modified that basic principle, in that it gave the wife in those circumstances—but not the husband in corresponding circumstances—the right upon application to be accepted as of right as a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies.

In 1981 we made a fundamental change. We eliminated the distinction between the two sexes as the bearers of nationality and as the channels of transmission of national status. The 1981 Act made the grotesque provision—or so it appears to me—that a British citizen can marry a woman, but yet she can share his status only if she goes through the process of naturalisation. I protested against that when the Bill passed through the House, as an entirely unnatural, almost an inconceivable, state of law. But at the same time as the 1981 Act made that change and deprived a woman of the right to her husband's status, it recognised the woman equally with the man as capable of endowing the spouse with citizenship.

I am not this afternoon intending to retrace, or to refer even in the briefest detail to, the arguments that were deployed and debated at great length in the Standing Committee that considered the British Nationality Bill; but this afternoon, for the first time—it will by no means be the last—the consequences of that major alteration in the very philosophy of status and nationhood are coming home to roost.

The great reality, little mentioned, that overhangs all these debates is the fact of the presence in the United Kingdom—primarily in England—of a large new Commonwealth and Pakistan ethnic population, which in any case is bound in the next generation or two to increase very largely by natural causes. If one says that it will double, that is a broad approximation but it is bound of automatic necessity that it will increase on a major scale. That is not open to dispute.

Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall)

I do not disagree with the right hon. Gentleman's historical narrative, but he must accept the responsibility, which he appears to deny, for recruiting medical staff during 1960 to 1963 when he was the successful Minister of Health. He recruited doctors from the subcontinent and nurses from the West Indies.

Miss Lestor

What was wrong with that?

Mr. Powell

The hon. Gentleman feels that my activities then are inconsistent with the opinions that I express now—and which I have expressed for many years since the dimensions of the problem became visible. Although I am entitled to defend myself against the hon. Gentleman's remarks, I am anxious to take up as little time as possible. So I shall simply observe that until July 1962 no distinction whatsoever could be made, and no limitation could be placed, on the entry of British subjects to this country. When the books are opened it will be found that, as a member of the Government, I strongly supported the measure taken to introduce such a possibility of control by the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962, and that I argued persistently for the narrowest possible use of the available scope for immigration under the 1962 Act. The hon. Gentleman knows very well, and can confirm, that the vast majority of those recruited during those years into the National Health Service, not just among British subjects from the Commonwealth, but among aliens—which is very relevant to the point—came to Britain for short periods to obtain training that they put into effect elsewhere. The hon. Gentleman is finally aware that the Minister for Health has at no time been the recruiting authority for staff in the NHS.

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman and I have had to put our differences on record again. I apologise for the digression, and now return to a fact which the hon. Gentleman does not deny. It is that our debates on this subject are overhung by the size and prospective increase of the new Commonwealth and Pakistan ethnic population in Britain—I refer to it by the OPCS formula. Consequently, any channels or causes whereby that increase might be further accelerated are matters of great anxiety and concern. That is the reality and truth that lie behind the interest in this debate and the amendment on the Order Paper. The House would not be taking up time debating these rules at all if there were not a substantial new Commonwealth ethnic population resident in Britain.

The consequence of what was done by the 1981 Act lies in the significance of marriage as a channel of settlement in Britain. I am not concerned with bogus marriages, because they do not constitute an essential part of the argument, nor am I concerned with breaches of immigration law—as that is not the argument either. I am concerned with what we made lawful by our change in our law of citizenship in 1981. We decreed that there shall be a twofold, instead of a single, channel of entry to residence in Britain and of addition to the population of Britain: there was to be a channel via the introduction of a man as a husband or a male fiancé in addition to the introduction of a woman as a wife or a female fiancée.

I would understate the case by saying that the consequence of that is to double the potential rate of increase by immigration. Where an immigrant is male, the male being the primary immigrant, the decision to admit him would otherwise be a substantive decision, taken in the light of all the circumstances and interests of the host country. Thus the right conferred upon a woman who is a British citizen to endow the husband of her choice with British citizenship more than doubles, in character as well as in potential volume, the possibilities of increase of the new Commonwealth ethnic population in this country. Those who imagine that, in the course of the years, that population will lose its links and affinities with its countries of origin, that it will no longer be normal or common for its members to look forward to marriage and the creation of new families with those resident in the Indian subcontinent, deceive themselves as to the nature of that population. To say that is not to criticise that population: it is only to state a fact. We are not within possible foresight of the time when such ambition will not be widespread among that population. I do not criticise that either: it seems to me a perfectly natural desire to seek increase and family by marriage among the people from whom they originated and the country from which they came.

Other pressures, too, will exert themselves. As time passes, there will be a growing premium on the increase of the numbers of British citizens who belong to that population. Already there are constituencies in this country where the vote of that population is regarded as potentially decisive in determining the colour—at present at least the political colour—of the successful candidate. That will not stop: it is still in its infancy. The natural desire for growth in influence, for growth in political power, will give an impetus to use the channel that we have opened through what we did in the 1981 Act so as to increase the size of this population by new immigration.

I confess that I have been re-debating the 1981 Act; but this very rule causes us to begin to see the consequences of what we did in that Act and to regret the fundamental change that we then made in the law of transmission of our citizenship. Those who take part in these debates do not perform the service that they ought if they underestimate the difficulty of coping not merely with the minor matters which will arise but with the great magnitudes in law and in fact that are involved in our national tragedy which is still in its early stages.

6.23 pm
Sir Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)

The speech of the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) contained one statement which struck me as very true—that the British Nationality Act 1981 gave the sexes complete equality in obtaining nationality for the spouse. Before 1981 there was considerable discrimination against the man. Whereas the wife of a United Kingdom citizen was entitled to registration, the husband of a United Kingdom citizen had to apply for naturalisation. Now, both have to apply for naturalisation. Thus, when the Labour Party's amendment talks about the sexually discriminatory principles of the British Nationality Act 1981", it does not take account of the major way in which the sexes have been put on the same footing, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred more than once and to which he attached such importance. To say that the Act is discriminatory is surely a misuse of language.

I shall make one or two criticisms and suggestions, as the Home Secretary said we should, about other regulations. On the main point, the first thing I say is that the change is not the inevitable result of the 1981 Act. The amendment about the British citizen, instead of right of abode, and so on, is not the inevitable result, but it is surely a desirable result that the two systems should march together. To that extent, it is necessary and can be supported on the ground of principle. I should be happier to say that British citizens shall not be discriminated against in the matter of sex in immigration, whereas of course there will be discrimination against non-British citizens, affecting husbands and wives who are settled here. I support that position. We are entitled to discriminate in the case of non-British citizens. However, even now, under the proposed rules, British male and female citizens will not be treated in the same way. Let me give an example. I refer not to bogus marriages, but to marriages where there is a genuine attempt and desire to get married. A fiancée or wife who comes here gets permanent leave to stay. Even if the marriage breaks up within 12 months—say, after eight months, as unfortunately sometimes happens—and even if the marriage was originally intended to be permanent, that woman can stay, but when the British citizen is the wife and the man comes here and the marriage breaks up, even when it is a perfectly proper marriage and not one of convenience, the man has to go. There may be good social reasons for that.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

What are they?

Sir Charles Fletcher-Cooke

I shall give way to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Hogg

I thank my hon. and learned Friend for giving way. I intervene merely to give him the opportunity of confirming that the 12-month rule of which he speaks, which makes a distinction between men and women, was introduced in 1977 by the Labour Government, by the then Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins).

Sir Charles Fletcher-Cooke

In that case, my fears and sorrow about it are augmented, not diminished [Interruption.] Now we have an argument about who is the father of the rule. In these debates we do not mind whether the rule is right or wrong; all we argue about is who was the originator. My rapture at such a seamless garment of principle is modified because the distinction still exists in practice, although there may be a good reason for it. I await with interest a defence of the principle.

Now is the only chance to discuss the proposed rules, so I shall make one or two small points. I shall refer both to the recent rules and to the former rules as they have recently been interpreted. For ease of administration, the Home Office has categorised immigrant students who are subject to regulations 21 to 25. Students who enter the country cannot change their category, although it may be reasonable to say that they should be able to do so, without first having to leave Britain and then return.

I know the reason for the practice. The Home Office believes that it cannot keep tabs on immigrants except by categorisation. In practice, the Home Office system has been an invitation to dishonesty. An immigrant student who is asked whether he wishes to stay after completion of his course knows that if he answers "Yes, if I am allowed to" he will not be allowed in. That is a misinterpretaion of the rule. One should be allowed to say "Yes, I wish to stay if I am allowed to."

It is wrong to suggest to an immigrant student that he may not stay after his studies are completed, even if he were allowed subsequently to change his category. That is the consequence of a recent court decision. It may be otiose to quote the name of the case, which is re Patel. As there are about 25 cases with that name, it is not easy to look up. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that I am correct in saying that a foreign student will not be admitted if he says that he wishes to stay in Britain after his studies, even though he will only do so if legally allowed to?

The present position is an invitation to dishonesty by a student who wishes to enter Britain and who harbours a legitimate ambition to remain here if he can prove that he is a useful member of the community who may have a special skill. The rules prevent his entering Britain if he gives an honest answer.

The original rules, which provided for exclusion or deportation on the grounds of not conducive to the public good —the omnium-gatherum clause—were in the interests of public order and were intended to deal with gangsters or spies. The original rules stated that These will be few in number". I am not sure that such optimism was well-founded, especially as that sentence has been omitted from subsequent rules. The rule is now used as a long-stop when the Home Office is in a muddle and cannot use more appropriate rules. The rules should contain a definition of the words conducive to the public good".

Mr. Jim Marshall

I noticed the Minister of State shaking his head when the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Sir C. Fletcher-Cooke) made that assertion. I can prove his point with one constituency case—that of the family Patel, of Hazel Street, Leicester—where the Minister of State used that part of the existing rules to prevent an Indian male from joining his wife, who is a registered United Kingdom national.

Sir Charles Fletcher-Cooke

What is usually said in such matters is that it is not conducive to the public good to admit someone who may have been lacking in candour in his entrance application or who had been caught out in a lie. Those are serious matters, but they are not the offences which the phrase conduct not conducive to the public good had in mind. That was aimed at much more serious offences and against people who were a real menace to society.

Mr. Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield, East)


Sir Charles Fletcher-Cooke

I shall not give way, because many hon. Members wish to speak.

The rules relating to the self-employed have been tightened progressively. I do not blame the Home Office for that, because there has been some abuse. However, they have not only been tightened, but made ambiguous. As this is the last opportunity that we shall have to ask the Home Office to clear up ambiguities or omissions before the regulations are finalised, may I refer my right hon. Friend to regulations 35 and 37, which deal with business men and the self-employed? I know that I am falling into the error—or the sin to which the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) referred—of drowning hon. Members in a sea of detail, whereas we should see the distant sky of principle. However, it is important that we should take every opportunity—there are only a few—to criticise the details of the rules.

Under the heading "Businessmen and self-employed persons", paragraph 35 says, in effect, that one must now be able to dispose of £150,000 before one will be admitted. I am not sure whether that applies in paragraph 37, which states: If the applicant wishes to establish a new business in the United Kingdom on his own account or to be self-employed he will need to meet the requirements of paragraph 35 —that is the £150,000 requirement— and satisfy the entry clearance officer that he will be bringing into the country sufficient funds of his own. Does that imply that there is a test other than the £150,000?

If there is another test my point is incorrect, but the rule is ambiguous. If it means that the self-employed person must bring in that sum, my first question is: for what purpose? Many self-employed persons bring their skill and do not need to invest £150,000. What would a person of my profession do with £150,000? I suppose that he could buy an enormous library with many material retrieval systems. The same is true for consultant architects. It cannot be said that they would be allowed in under the category of "Writers and artists" in rule 39, because writers and artists are very closely defined. According to the decisions, not even musicians are included. Musicians have been held not to be writers and artists, as have craftsmen.

If the persons concerned cannot come in under rule 37, which deals with business men and self-employed persons, because they cannot lay their hands on £150,000, they will not be allowed in at all. Therefore, those rules do not marry up. I know that those provisions were in the old rules, although they were not in the rules that preceded the old rules. This is a chance to see where the shoe has pinched under the existing rules, and I hope that I am showing one or two places where it hurts like hell.

Sir Frederick Burden (Gillingham)

There is confusion here. Recently there was an application to the Home Office on behalf of a New Zealand accountant who was working for a big London firm which held him in the highest possible esteem and was prepared to make him a partner. He was told that he could not have the partnership unless he left the country and then returned with £100 ,000 of his own money and had no connection whatever with the company. He was told that he would not be readmitted except in those circumstances. That seems to me to be ridiculous, particularly as it was shown that the man had contributed very largely to the success of the company.

Sir Charles Fletcher-Cooke

That rather confirms my view that the self-employed have to bring in £150,000. As that man was to be a partner or a director, and not an employee, he would have been in the self-employed category. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State is shaking his head, but if the man were an employee he would not need to produce the £150,000.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Timothy Raison)

For the purpose of accuracy, it should be mentioned that the case to which my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Sir F. Burden) referred was entirely to do with the ability of a working holidaymaker to stay on in Britain after his period as a working holidaymaker had come to an end, so it is a different matter.

Sir Frederick Burden

It was in 1976.

Mr. Raison


Sir Charles Fletcher-Cooke

Even if the facts were slightly agley, I think that the general principle of my hon. Friend's intervention is correct. If someone, whether a New Zealander or an Indian, wishes to come here as a self-employed architect-either a consultant architect or a partner in a firm of architects—because he has great skill as an architect, and he does not possess £150,000, under what regulation, if any, can he come in? I do not believe that he can come in under the rules as drafted at present, and I think that that is a scandal.

On the main point of the debate, contrary to the views of my hon. Friends, which I respect very much, I think that the Home Secretary is right in using the British Nationality Act 1981 as a common standard. Although it may involve an increase in immigration, I do not believe that it will be a large increase. I do not share the fears of the right hon. Member for Down, South that it is a potentially enormous increase when compared with what would have been the position if no change whatever had been made. I think it is an increase that can and should be supported.

6.43 pm
Mr. John Tilley (Lambeth, Central)

I am grateful to the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Sir. C. Fletcher-Cooke) for making, at the beginning of his speech, one of the points that I wanted to make—that there is continuing sexual discrimination within the operation of the Immigration Act 1971, even though we welcome the removal of an element of sexual discrimination against some British citizen women in the change that is before us tonight.

We should also remember that there are important ways in which all British citizen women are still second-class citizens in relation to immigration. The immigration rules—although they have now, by the changes, been reconciled to a limited extent with the degree of equality introduced in the British Nationality Act 1981—are still profoundly sexist.

If a British citizen man marries a woman who does not have a right of entry, that woman automatically and immediately acquires the right to enter at the moment of marriage. No questions are asked about whether it is an arranged marriage, a bogus marriage, a marriage of convenience or anything else. Indeed, no questions can be asked by the immigration officers once they are sure that the marriage was legally transacted. That position should be compared with what happens when a British citizen woman, whether or not she was born in Britain, marries a man who does not have a right to enter. The only right she can confer on him by marriage is the right to be interrogated by immigration officers. They will want to know whether the couple had met before marriage. For some reason, that devalues the marriage only if the bride is a British citizen, but it is of no consequence whatever under our rules if the groom is a British citizen. Evidently, love at first sight is a male prerogative, to be added to all the others.

The immigration officers have to try to ascertain, under rule 50(b), whether one of the parties no longer has any intention of living permanently with the other as his or her spouse". Apart from the difficulties of making that sort of judgment, once again it is a consideration that is irrelevant if the groom only is a British citizen but vital if the bride only is a British citizen. Desertion also seems to be a male prerogative, under British immigration law. If the immigration officers are satisfied that the couple met before marriage and intend to live together, they then have to decide whether it is a marriage of convenience.

It is important for the House to appreciate how much human dignity and how many civil liberties are swept aside by those requirements and by the inquiries that stem from them. I mention as an example one of my constituents, a Mrs. Ann Wright of Camberwell. She was born in Britain and has lived here all her life. She met a Jamaican man who was visiting his family in Brixton. They fell in love and got married. The immigration officers have now decided—and the Minister has agreed with them—that it was a marriage of convenience.

Mrs. Wright is preparing to abandon her home, her friends, her family and her prospects of a job in order to travel to Jamaica so that she can live with her husband after deportation, which is what faces him. I shall not go into the detailed merits of the case—I am doing that by correspondence with the Minister—but its relevance to what we are discussing tonight is that if Mrs. Wright, a newly married British citizen, had been Mr. Wright, a newly married British citizen, the problem could not have arisen, because the right of a citizen man to live here with his wife is not effectively challengeable under immigration law.

On 1 January, Mrs. Wright, like 27 million other women, will become a British citizen under the British Nationality Act. Every one of those women will be a second-class citizen, compared to citizen men, in terms of their rights in that respect. Those women will not only have fewer rights than citizen men; they will have fewer rights than non-citizen men who are legally settled here and who can bring in their wives with no questions asked. We have tried, in the course of the debate so far, to ask the Government and their supporters why that is so. My right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) managed to elicit the answer that it was so because that was the position under the Immigration Act 1971. That was all the Secretary of State could think of, but I remind him that we are now nearly at the end of 1982. A good deal has happened since 1971. The world has improved in some respects. One respect in which it has improved is in the development of women's rights. The Secretary of State should take account of that.

It was sheer nonsense for the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) to say that men come here for economic reasons and that women come here for other vague and unspecified reasons. When some of my constituents came to Britain from the Caribbean, the women among them were just as determined and are still just as determined to work as are the men. It is nonsense to make such a distinction between Caribbean men and women on the grounds of their motives. The hon. and learned Member for Darwen was discreet enough not to explain what the social reasons for that distinction might be.

We cannot let the Minister get away with the claim that he is removing sexual discrimination from the immigration rules, even if he claims to be doing so under protest at the dictate of the European Commission of Human Rights. The rules are still a gross contravention of the article that forbids sexual discrimination. The Government are not changing the rules to fit in with the spirit of the convention; they are simply tinkering with a tiny aspect so that when they are found guilty by the Commission they can claim that they tried to put their house in order.

Mr. Stanbrook

If the position is as bad as the hon. Gentleman says, why did not the Labour Government change the rules between 1974 and 1979?

Mr. Tilley

That question must be asked of Members of that Labour Government, as it has been, and I am sure will be in the future. I arrived only in 1978 and did not manage to alter the Government's policies before, sadly, they lost office. If I remember rightly, I did try.

I am thinking of the next rather than the last Labour Government when I say that there is only one way to obey both the spirit and the letter of the convention, and that is to grant equal rights to men and women upon marriage. The fundamental principle that is enshrined in the Labour Party's policy—as has already been mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook—is that everybody legally settled here, citizen or not, must be able to bring their marriage partners to live with them in Britain.

Mr. Budgen

Is the hon. Gentleman in favour of any controls on immigration, and, if so, why?

Mr. Tilley

The Labour Party has made it clear that it believes that there is an argument for immigration control in Britain on economic and labour market grounds, and not, as has been the case for the past 20 years, on racial and sexual grounds. That is perfectly spelled out in the Labour Party's programme for 1982. I am shocked and surprised that the hon. Gentleman has not read it. It is available from Walworth Road at a price of £2.50 if he cares to buy one.

Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, West)


Mr. Tilley

I do not wish to give way again, because I have only one minor point left to make.

The rules concerning children born after January 1983 are racist, petty and unjust. They deal with what was described in Committee as the most disgraceful effect of the British Nationality Act, which is that from 1 January, for the first time in history, many children born in Britain will not be British. I should be grateful if the Minister can improve on the vague estimates that he made of the number of children who would come into that category—those who are not British citizens but have another nationality and those who are not British citizens and are stateless.

It is wrong for the Secretary of State to suggest that the number of stateless persons will be infinitesimal. He said that one way by which that could be avoided was if the children's parents were from countries where there was indefinite transmission by descent. Are there any countries where that applies other than the People's Republic of China? If there are any it is a thin number and he is trying to dodge the fact that there will be considerable numbers.

However, what matters more than numbers is the injustice that will be meted out by the Act and the rules to each one of those children. That injustice is a disgrace to the House. The injustice of denying citizenship to children born here is compounded by the new rules. There is a complicated set of procedures for dealing with the immigration status of such children. They are a bureaucratic nightmare. They give no protection to the children against the difficulties that their parents will face in finding a way through the bureaucratic maze, or against the ignorance of those parents who do not even know that their children are not full British citizens.

I must press the Government to review the rules affecting those children. They need not abandon their reasons for wanting to deny British citizenship to the children of parents temporarily or illegally here. We were told in Committee that there were two reasons why they wanted to deny that citizenship. Firstly, it was said that the Government were taking pre-emptive action against the possibility that the European Convention on Human Rights will be improved to ban the deportation of the parent of a citizen child, which is not the situation now, but may be in the future. Secondly, the Secretary of State said that the Government did not want to create a "pool", to quote his rather unpleasant word, of people overseas whose children would have the right to enter—the immediate descendants of the children who have been born here. The shabby little strategems of the Government would not be thwarted by giving indefinite right of abode to those children born here who are not British citizens. They could still deport the parents. There would not be any future strictures from the European Court of Human Rights and those children would not transmit citizenship, and therefore right of entry, to their children. I ask the Minister to consider that.

I was pleased that the Secretary of State said that he was coming to the rules with an open mind. I suspect that there will not be any change in the rules concerning foreign husbands, but the Government should seriously consider whether they can be simplified and clarified to avoid the present position of the children—hundreds, perhaps thousands, approximately 80 per cent., of whom are likely to be black and who, by definition, are the children of parents disadvantaged in terms of employment, status and race, who are often temporary workers or illegal entrants. It is wrong that the Government should pick out that group and, having already taken citizenship from them, pile on top the extra disadvantages contained in the rules. I hope that the Minister will at least consider the possibility of giving those children the minimal concession of an automatic indefinite right to remain.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Paul Dean)

Order. Many hon. Members wish to speak, so I appeal for short speeches.

6.56 pm
Miss Janet Fookes (Plymouth, Drake)

I shall seek, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to follow your advice by confining my remarks to husbands and fiancés.

It is significant that since 1969 there have been no fewer than six attempts to change the rules. That springs from the fact that we have tinkered with them and have never got down to the fundamental principle. No Government of any political complexion can take any credit. I do not see why the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) should drape himself in a mantle of moral superiority. It is a garment that fits him badly.

The fundamental principle that should be applied is that men and women should receive equal treatment, or, as I prefer to put it, fair treatment. Everything should flow from that basic principle. It is unsatisfactory that there should be two classes of British citizen, which is what would happen if we retained the present position, as some of my hon. Friends appear to want.

I regret that the Government have not taken the further step that has already been mentioned in the debate of conferring equal rights or obligations on those who are not British citizens but are settled here. It is possible to argue for either a tough policy or, shall we say, a liberal one. One could say that no spouse should be allowed in or that spouses of both sexes should be allowed in. I dislike intensely the fact that the rules apply to one sex but not to the other. The Government should get to grips with the problem and make up their mind whether they will operate a tough immigration policy or not.

I recognise the genuine concern about abuse of marriages of convenience by young men who enter the country with no intention of enjoying the marriage except for the benefits it brings through entry into the country. I accept, therefore, the tests that are already in operation and which my right hon. Friend says will continue. I suspect, however, that tests will need to be applied more strictly after entry than at the point of entry. I can see practical difficulties in assessing people's intentions at the point of entry. It is worthwhile in present circumstances and also as a means of allaying natural fears that the 12-months test should be applied strictly. If the marriage is found not to be genuine or if a split has occurred, firm action should be taken. I hope that sufficient staff will be allocated to see that this task is carried out.

Mr. John Carlisle

My hon. Friend raises an important point about the intentions of male fiancés or husbands coming into the country. Does she not agree that the ability to perform the tests is extremely specialised, and that if it is the intention of a husband or fiancé to get round the rules and to enter the country for the sole purpose of remaining here there will still be abuse, whatever the tests carried out and by whatever number of staff?

Miss Fookes

My view is that abuse can be greatly reduced. I would never suggest that any rule can be applied 100 per cent. successfully. If that were the case, we might as well give up law making. There will always be those who get through the net. However, the numbers can be kept small through sensible provisions. Our social security offices are, after all, asked to undertake some delicate investigations—more delicate even than these. On the whole, they carry out those functions well and effectively. For my part, I would be willing to take the risk.

I should like my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to consider the further implications involving those who are settled, but do not have British citizenship. I hope that I can encourage him to go further than he has gone. Some of my hon. Friends have taken the Government to task for going back, as they see it, on commitments already given. I prefer to applaud the Government's courage in recognising that they did not get it right the first time, but are prepared to put it right now. I shall go into the Lobbies on the Government's side and look to see the rules implemented in a short time.

Mr. Budgen

I am sure that my hon. Friend agrees that keeping faith with the electorate is important. Did my hon. Friend explain to her constituents before the last election that she proposed to encourage the Government to go back on the provisions in our manifesto?

Miss Fookes

That question never arose in my election campaign. Had it done so, I would certainly have said that the wording of the commitment was ill-advised, but that I recognised the difficulty caused by those who seek to circumvent a proper principle. That is why I am prepared to accept tests which I believe to be reasonably workable. For that reason, I intend to vote with the Government.

7.3 pm

Mr. Ian Wrigglesworth (Thornaby)

Except as a constituency Member, I have not had a detailed involvement in Home Office affairs since I served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins). It is therefore a pleasure to speak in this debate. It takes me back to the time when we restored the rights of husbands under the immigration rules. As the Social Democratic Party's spokesman on this matter, I look forward to participating in future debates on the subject.

Our party believes in equality of treatment under the law for all people, regardless of sex, race, colour or religion. For that reason, we shall support the amendment tabled by the official Opposition, to show that we are dissatisfied with the rules proposed by the Government.

Mr. Wilkinson

Does the hon. Gentleman intend to advocate the repeal by his party of the British Nationality Act and the power to introduce new regulations?

Mr. Wrigglesworth

I shall come to that.

The context of the debate has been well set by the amendment tabled by Government Back Benchers. The views expressed and the reference back to the manifesto reveal the true impetus and motivation behind much that has happened and the changes in the rules now proposed. One matter which the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) and his colleagues have not mentioned in their amendment is the manifesto commitment to establish a register. Not a great deal has been heard about that recently, and I am pleased that that is so. The hon. Gentleman and his colleagues have not further embarrassed their Front Bench by reminding them of the great play that was made in the manifesto of the new nationality Act and the register. The manifesto pandered to the racist sentiments in the country and on the Conservative Benches. The amendment in the name of Conservative Members is a demonstration that those views are still to be found on the Government Benches.

Although the British Nationality Act has emerged as a very different animal from that which was proposed, the Labour Government had already done an enormous amount of work on the development of a nationality Act to which the Act produced by the present Government bears many resemblances in structure, but contains some fundamental flaws which need to be amended.

The major objections to the rules have already been mentioned. I shall refer only briefly to the main amendments being made. The change relating to husbands and fiancés has been billed as a great progressive development. It is not a great improvement. It is still discriminatory in the way that it operates. The hon. Member for Lambeth, Central (Mr. Tilley) referred to the hurdles that apply to husbands and fiancés of people here compared to those applying to women entering the country.

The Government have not acted enthusiastically to introduce these changes. They have been pushed into it by the European Court of Human Rights. It is surprising that hon. Members, especially those whose names appear on the Government Back-Bench amendment, who are always preaching about the rule of law and about law and order, do not wish to uphold the laws which the European Court proposes we should accept.

Mr. Percy Grieve (Solihull)

Does the hon. Gentleman not appreciate that this matter has not yet come before the court? It has only gone before the commission.

Mr. Wrigglesworth

The matter has been before the court. [Interruption.] A judgment has been made. The commission has made its view clear. There is no question but that the Government have responded. No doubt, in due course, the discrimination still contained in the rules will be removed by the same process. I am amazed that Conservative Back Benchers are rejecting European pressure of that sort.

The retention of such hurdles for husbands and fiancés is a nasty, symbolic gesture and a shabby, dandruff-covered move that will appeal to people's baser instincts. It might be much better if the Government took a lesson from one of their previous Home Secretaries. During the 1970 to 1974 Conservative Government he brought in a measure that was admired by many people in other parties as well as by some Conservative Members. I refer to the then Home Secretary's decision to allow in the East African Asians.

I fear that there may have been Labour Home Secretaries who would not have taken such a bold step. That Home Secretary demonstated how public opinion on such matters can be led, by allowing in the East African Asians and by, in the process, giving a lead to his party and the country. It would be much better if the Government adopted that approach tonight instead of introducing these shabby provisions.

I have been asked about our attitude towards the provisons of the 1981 Act. As my party made clear in the policy statement that has been published, we believe that the law should not have been changed in the way that it was by the 1981 Act and that children born here should have United Kingdom citizenship. If that view had been accepted, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Lyons) made clear during our debates, the complicated, bureaucratic procedure laid down in the rules would not have been necessary. If we have the opportunity to do so, we shall restore the rights of children born in this country. The present position creates uncertainty, adds an enormous administrative burden and damages family life, which the Government say they want to sustain.

It is deplorable that we should have further complicated measures. I remember seeing trolleys with case files on them going into the Minister's rooms. I am sure that the Minister now gets trolley after trolley. Why does he not tell his officials to make the rules less complicated so that the trolley loads of cases in his room can be reduced? It would have been simpler, better and correct to have retained the old right. We should not then have needed such complicated and damaging procedures.

It is proposed to increase the financial requirement for business men coming into Britain from £100,000 to £150,000 for capital and from £10,000 to £15,000 for income. I cannot see why that should be necessary. I am not aware of any great abuse. It is slightly surprising that a party that claims that it wants to support small businesses, enterprise and initiative should want to stop from coming into the country people who show great enterprise, energy and initiative in starting new businesses.

In a few weeks' time I hope to help start digging the first plot for a new factory site in my constituency. It will be for a textile plant for a business that is owned by Asian business men in the community and whose relatives abroad are also involved. Not many textile factories are being built at present, but they have made a success of building up their business and are opening a new plant. Surely we want to encourage that. It is a retrograde step to make it more difficult for such entrepreneurs to come into Britain to provide both jobs and wealth here.

Those hon. Members who have substantial ethnic groups in their constituencies are aware of the delay and bureaucracy in dealing with cases. In some ways it is at times worse than the rules. In introducing such rules for husbands and fiancés, I fear that the Government will make the queues so long that they will be able to exercise control that way, instead of through the rules. They would be better advised to consider the possibility of taking such steps in relation to other imports, although that is hardly the word. They are not very good—contrary to the practice in France, Italy and Japan—at dealing with the cars and other manufactured goods that threaten jobs in Britain. However, they are good at stemming the flow of immigrants.

I appeal to the Home Secretary and his colleagues to ensure that delays in naturalisation—and all the other delays that cause such heartache, expense and upset—are reduced by the introduction of more staff and resources.

Mr. John Carlisle

The hon. Gentleman has told the House of his experience as a Parliamentary Private Secretary in a previous Administration. Were the delays then longer or shorter than those that now occur at the Home Office?

Mr. Wrigglesworth

The delays were much shorter. I remember the Minister paying several visits to India, Pakistan and the subcontinent to look at the administration there. He also visited Lunar house and other parts of the administration to improve the flow of applications.

I do not want to start swapping points, but we did not make efforts to cut the staff and make a great virtue of that. Instead of ignoring the consequences of doing that, we increased the number of staff so that we could clear the backlog.

Although we accept the need for immigration controls and are opposed to opening the floodgates—as some would describe them—we believe that we should be prepared to make small changes in terms of numbers to rectify the offensive discrimination and unnecessary hardship, heartache and injustice that is being perpetrated and which will be further perpetrated if these rules go into operation.

7.17 pm
Sir Paul Hawkins (Norfolk, South-West)

In my letter to Mr. Speaker, I promised that if I was called I would not speak for long. Therefore, I do not intend to go into great detail as to why I am totally against increasing the number of immigrants. It is a gut reaction shared by the vast majority of this country and certainly by my constituents.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will recollect the number of occasions when I saw him, when he was still Shadow Home Secretary, on this and other related subjects. He seemed to agree that we must take into account many steps that have, admittedly, now been taken. However, we are now increasing the number of immigrants—whether by 3,000, 4,000 or 2,500 per annum—at a time when the number of jobless in our society has grown substantially. Coloured immigrants make up a substantial proportion of those unemployed people. Recent coloured immigrants will compete for their jobs. It is no wonder that coloured people oppose further immigration into Britain.

My constituents were, therefore, pleased to learn from the party manifesto and subsequent legislation that the concession for foreign husbands and male fiancés would stop. Yet when the ink was hardly dry we discovered that the changed rules would be changed again.

We know the opinion of most members of the Opposition parties. They intend to open the floodgates and let in anyone who cares to settle in Britain. They have said that many times. The cost to the taxpayer and to the men and women already here who have to compete for already scarce jobs will be enormous and drive many to desperation.

That the Conservative Party, which is usually in touch with the genuine feelings of the average man and woman, should seek to open the doors yet again passes my comprehension. For many years the Home Office has been considered to be damp and riddled not with dry rot, but with wet rot. Much of it started with the leader of the SDP who introduced all sorts of liberal rules and regulations. We did not expect our Ministers to be affected by that. Instead they should organise a major reconstruction of the building and everything in it. They should start by throwing out some of the rotten wood which has been there for a long time.

If the House reintroduces the rule it will reintroduce bogus marriages with all the corruption that goes with them. The matter is serious because it will induce many people to take part in corrupt practices.

It seems that we listen sympathetically to all minority groups on the Left. It is time that we began to consider the opinions of the majority. They should be given some attention. There is no doubt that the majority believe, because of the jobless numbers, that we should not let another person into the country if that can be avoided. I shall not support that aspect of the White Paper. When I have an opportunity I shall vote against it and against the changes in the rules.

7.22 pm
Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing, Southall)

I start on an unusual note, by thanking the Minister of State's staff for their continuous courtesy, advice and assistance. I have to contact them on almost a daily basis. I am sure that when they open the post each morning they are disappointed if it does not contain a dozen or so letters from me. I appreciate our relationship. The courtesy is continuous, as I find when staff transfer to other Departments.

When my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Dr. Summerskill) was responsible for immigration I did not always agree with her. She was harsh about some of the cases that I put to her. Under the Immigration Act 1971 and the British Nationality Act 1981 Ministers have the power to exercise discretion. They do not always exercise it in the way that I wish. When the present Minister exercises his discretion, now and again, I am surprised. On other occasions, when I think that I can edge him a bit he disappoints me. I cannot regard the issue as one which involves the awful Tories and the nice, kind Labour Party. One must remember the history of immigration and the problems involved in it. The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) may be interested to know that when he was speaking I recalled when I was vice-chairman of the Select Committee which examined race relations and immigration. That Committee did much important work. The then chairman of the Committee, Mr. William Deedes, a former Minister of State, Home Office, is now editor of The Daily Telegraph. We discussed the attitude of the right hon. Member for Down, South because I considered that he was doing serious damage to race relations. He was expressing the views of the Right-wing enclaves and of organisations such as the National Front, which bases itself on the barbarities of the German Nazis, and others with Fascist ideologies. The right hon. Gentleman exhibited attitudes in Parliament which before had been known only in such organisations. The logic in the right hon. Gentleman's message of doom was that he was pessimistic. Mr. Deedes disagreed and said that he was optimistic.

At one time many Asian people settled in Southall as a result of recruitment of labour by a rubber company. In the mid-1950s there was a shortage of labour not only in Britain, but in Germany, France and Italy, although their migration was from North to South. Migration took place in the search for jobs. Today in this country there is a net outflow of West Indians, but the people from India and Pakistan still seek to improve their living standards. People often deride the numbers game, but it was always a numbers game.

Parliament got it wrong with the 1971 Act because it was deliberately aimed at restricting the inflow of people for work and family settlement from the Indian subcontinent. At the same time we entered the EEC.

Government Back Benchers have tabled an amendment which exposes the differences in the Tory ranks. I am glad that those differences are surfacing. Many ordinary folk will learn from that. Some Conservative Members have voiced their desires. They seek the repatriation of coloured people and their families from Britain. The right hon. Member for Down, South nods his head. They should be honest about it.

Yesterday I asked the Library to provide me with information about France, Germany and our other industrial competitors. France tried a repatriation programme under Giscard's regime, but all that that did was to disturb race relations and create ill feeling among people of different racial groups. The scheme had to be abandoned because it had no substance. As I have said to the right hon. Member for Down, South and to the hon. Members for Basildon (Mr. Proctor) and Luton, West (Mr. Carlisle), if we operated a policy of duress and offered people money to leave our shores, we would get rid of the best of the immigrants because if they had skill and talent they would not be prepared to live here under duress. Why should they? However, they would not necessarily go back to their land of origin. They would go to Canada or the United States as so many West Indians who have acquired skill in this country are doing now. It is an international movement of people.

Mr. Grieve

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. He is always most courteous in these matters. I do not agree with those who believe in repatriation as an answer to problems which may have been created by immigration. The hon. Gentleman referred to what is happening on the Continent. Is he aware that, at present, the Socialist Government in France are finding themselves obliged, because of the same problems that we have had through far too high immigration from various parts of the world, to impose strict controls?

Mr. Bidwell

I do not wish to speak for too long so I shall come sharply to the main measures under consideration. That, in a sense, will answer the hon. and learned Gentleman who, in those early days, was an associate of mine on the Select Committee to which I referred. We were struggling for two-party consensus to remove the issue from the cockpit of party politics. We knew that this was not a one-party problem. The Immigration Act 1971 was racialist, which is why I and friends demonstrated against it. In a sense, it was designed to keep coloured people out of Britain and to make it harder for them to come here.

The hon. Member or Thornaby (Mr. Wrigglesworth) alluded to the in-built delay system. It existed under the Labour Government, but it was being eased. When we were in Delhi, Dacca and Bombay it was openly admitted by the British staff that there was an in-built delay system. The Government have not been prepared to increase the number of staff to deal with the cases.

Mr. Proctor


Mr. Bidwell

I cannot give way to the hon. Gentleman, because I want to keep my speech short. The hon. Gentleman must realise that I know a great deal about the subject—

Mr. Proctor


Mr. Bidwell

There is a temptation for hon. Members to intervene and to throw me off the subject. The hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity to speak later. I hope that the electors of Basildon will deal with the hon. Member.

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)


Mr. Bidwell

I shall give way in a moment.

The Government are virtually being pushed by the European Court of Human Rights to come into line with other EEC countries. Information is obtainable from the Library about what occurs in other countries with regard to the equality of spouses. The issue is not simply about the cases which appear before the European Court of Human Rights. France and Germany concern themselves not with fiancés, but with husbands. Citizenship is acquired as a result of marriage.

Mr. Marlow


Mr. Bidwell

Equality of spouses pervades. Some time ago a committee from Strasbourg, including women Members of Parliament, came to Britain to study the British immigration system. They were astonished to find that Britain still regards the male as the head of the household. The measures before us are easing towards bringing us in line with the more liberal structure in western Europe.

Mr. Marlow

And the Indian subcontinent.

Mr. Bidwell

Britain is part of the EEC. Some of my hon. Friends talk about leaving the EEC, but at the moment we are intertwined with the EEC. That has much to do with what has occurred. The Minister, I am sure, has researched what happens in Germany and France. The proposals are a move towards that. Citizenship means at present that a female citizen not born in Britain cannot have a foreign husband join her, but if she finds a job in Holland the foreign husband can join her there.

I welcome the proposals before the House but there is a misunderstanding in the Asian community about them. We believe that the proposals do not go far enough. The Home Secretary has not addressed his mind properly to the plight of the young woman who is brought to Britain as a baby, only a few weeks old. Her sister, who was born here, has a right to be joined by her foreign husband.

The Opposition propose to introduce a more liberal nationality Act intertwined with a fairer and better immigration system which would not be seen as discriminatory between white and black people. We are moving towards the concept of equality of the sexes, equality of the spouses and equality of people whether they are black or white.

I want that to be understood outside the House because Asian constituents and others have written to me because they are confused about the proposals before the House. They believe that the Opposition are not welcoming the Government's measures. We welcome them, but we want much more in the interests of justice, race relations and the future of Britain.

7.35 pm
Mr. John Wheeler (Paddington)

I am glad to follow the hon. Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr. Bidwell). He has a particular burden in his constituency and he discharges his duty, as a constituency Member, with great compassion, skill and care for the well-being of all his constituents. I would, however, like to refer to some of the points he made.

I am perhaps the hon. Member's successor on the Sub-Committee on Race Relations and Immigration of the Select Committee on Home Affairs. Immigration from the Indian subcontinent is rapidly coming to an end. The evidence of that may be seen in the rapidly declining number of applications and the fact that primary immigration from the Indian subcontinent is, in effect, over.

We are now dealing with the remaining dependants of people who had a perfectly lawful and proper right to come to the United Kingdom—the remaining children and their husbands or wives. In the case of Pakistan, the number of applicants has declined so much that the Government can reduce the staff there. In the case of Bangladesh—the hon. Member for Southall referred to this point—the people waiting to come are now processed much more quickly than had ever previously been the case. The numbers are declining that quickly. That is an important point to make.

Part of the backcloth of the debate on the proposed rules, which the Government would like to introduce and which I unreservedly support, is that primary immigration is ceasing to become a real issue or problem in the United Kingdom.

It is important for the House to know that primary immigration, for example from the West Indies, all but ceased in 1973. The evidence today is that there are perhaps small numbers of people who have reached retirement who would like to return to the islands of their birth. If anything, people are leaving the United Kingdom to go back to the West Indies.

I have already touched on the remaining issue of the Indian subcontinent, where it is a matter not of primary immigration but of dealing with the remaining United Kingdom passport holders—the people to whom Parliament has successively given the pledge that they would have the right to come to this country if they so wished. The number is difficult to establish but it may be as low as 12,000. There is no guarantee that all of them would wish to come to the United Kingdom.

Since the House is interested in numbers, let me point out that in 1981 the estimate of the number of people received into the United Kingdom as immigrants from whatever part of the world, and regardless of race or background, was about 153,000. The other side of the coin is that about 233,000 people left the United Kingdom permanently. A similar situation has prevailed for several years: more people have been leaving the United Kingdom to reside overseas than have come here. Of the number that I have given, the number who were subject to control under the Immigration Act 1971, which I understand the Opposition would repeal, was about 58,000, and that number is declining.

Mr. Brinton

My hon. Friend uses phrases such as "about" and "the estimate" when mentioning the figures, and he said at the beginning of his speech that it was not known exactly what the figures were. Would it not have been better had the Government compiled a register so that we knew exactly what we were achieving?

Mr. Wheeler

Because I am a member of the Select Committee responsible for looking at these matters on behalf of the House, I exercise caution when dealing with numbers. When talking about human beings it is impossible to be precise about what may happen. The numbers that I give are, as fairly and honestly as I can establish, the maximum.

If my hon. Friend studies the Select Committee report on immigration from the Indian subcontinent he will see that the question of the register was examined carefully. The conclusion was that it was no longer relevant, it would be impracticable to assemble and in the case of the Indian subcontinent the decline in numbers is so dramatic that it does not justify an attempt to establish a register. If the House were so inclined, it would be possible to dispose of the number apparently waiting in the Indian subcontinent within a few years without a dramatic increase in secondary immigration.

Rule 50 is the area of chief controversy. The change that the Government propose is the culmination of a series of reversals of a bad law. No party can hold up its head with honour about the matter. The game has been played for too long with numbers and because there are anxieties, the rule should be changed, if only partially. The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), when he was Home Secretary, first introduced the foreign husbands ban in 1969. The last Labour Government subsequently removed it. The Conservative Party was pledged to restore it and did so in the immigration rules of 1980.

At the last election the Conservative Party promised the country firm action to control immigration, including a clamp-down on illegal immigration. Since the Government have been in power the number of immigrants has fallen. The figures for 1981 show a drop of 20 per cent. from 1978. It also promised a new nationality Act, creating for the first time the definition of British citizenship, a principle that I strongly support. The Act that will come into force on 1 January obliges the Government to bring forward proposals for the rules that we are considering.

The Conservative Party also promised that all British citizens—I emphasise "British citizens"—would be equal under the law regardless of colour or creed. That pledge is being honoured by these proposals. The rules proposed coincide with the British Nationality Act 1981. Henceforth all British citizens will be able to marry abroad or bring in foreign husbands or wives to live with them in this country.

Under the present rules only women born in the United Kingdom or women who have a parent born here can bring in a foreign husband. Now that for the first time the definition of a British citizen exists, we could not, in all justice and in compliance with the Conservative Party's commitment to the electorate, separately distinguish some British citizens for less favourable treatment.

However, the proposals do not change entirely the 1980 immigration rules. There still remain strict hurdles to prevent what many hon. Members recognise could be, and sometimes is, abuse by persons seeking to avoid immigration control by contrived arrangements. The proposed rules maintain a series of obstacles to prevent that.

Mr. Marlow

Can my hon. Friend put his hand on his heart and say that he believes that no Asian girl in future will be put through a forced marriage in which she does not wish to participate? If he believes that, he must be unique.

Mr. Wheeler

My hon. Friend asked me to pledge myself to a belief to which it is impossible to commit myself. In such matters, there is no absolute certainty, but it could be argued, and I am sure has been argued tonight, that the proposed rules are in themselves objectionable merely because they are too constraining. On the one hand, there are those who will say that the liberal aspects of the rules are unsatisfactory and on the other hand there are those who will say that the rules do not go far enough. The Government's duty is to strike a fair and just balance with regard to the principle of British citizenship, which is established for the first time in the British Nationality Act that is to come into force on 1 January next year.

I should like to dwell for a moment on the numbers that may or may not come into this country as a result of the modest change. The Sub-Committee of the Select Committee on Home Affairs attempted to help the House by having a special session with my right hon. Friend the Minister of State who is responsible for this matter. I pay tribute to him for his immediate willingness to attend the Committee at short notice so that he could give as much information as possible to assist in the report that we have made available for the guidance of the House.

During those proceedings, the Committee dealt with the wild statements that have been made about the number of people who might come into this country. It had been rumoured that the numbers could be as many as 7,000 or 8,000. That is nonsense. My right hon. Friend has disposed of that. The level of applications by male fiances in 1980 from the Indian subcontinent was as follows: three from Dacca—that seems to pose a great threat to the wellbeing of people in the United Kingdom—506 from India and 182 from Pakistan, which shows the rapid decline in the number of applications from people in Pakistan who want to come to this country.

The number of applications under the proposed rules, if they are agreed, is unlikely to be more than 2,500 in total. I emphasise that we are talking about applications and not necessarily the number of people who eventually might be allowed into the United Kingdom. There is some reason to believe that in practice the number of applications might be as low as 500.

Mr. John Carlisle

Unfortunately, my hon. Friend was not present to hear my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary say that he estimated the figure to be between 2,500 and 3,000. Does my hon. Friend agree that, should the rules be changed, a backlog might have built up, so in the initial stages the numbers could be larger than those that have been given? Does my hon. Friend further agree that even those who are allowed in under the proposed changes might have dependants? Would he like to see a change in the rules that will exclude all dependants of the new class of fiancés who might be allowed in?

Mr. Wheeler

No. I would not like such a change to be made because I am firmly of the opinion, having considered the matter for several years, that the numbers are small and that they will continue to decline. In real terms, they are quite insignificant.

Mr. Marlow

I am sure that my hon. Friend is aware that in the debate on 4 December 1979 my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary referred to the last year before the rules were changed. He said that in that year 5,600 husbands alone were accepted for settlement from the Indian subcontinent. Why does my hon. Friend now suggest a figure only half as large?

Mr. Wheeler

The numbers of applications are in sharp decline. There is not a great deal of significance in looking back over several years to when the situation was different. The proposed changes are not a return to the pre-1980 position because a number of serious obstacles remain that are of an extreme executive character. The powers of the immigration service are draconian and will give rise to correspondence from many hon. Members to the Home Office protesting at the injustices.

However, those powers are there. In the present circumstances, they are rightly there. From my study of this subject I believe that we are talking about small numbers of people. If anything, I modestly disagree with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. I suggest to the House that the actual number of applications in real terms will be few, and probably much fewer than 2,500.

The immigration rules make good sense. If we are to have on our statute book a British Nationality Act we must support the rules.

7.56 pm
Mr. William Pitt (Croydon, North-West)

I see Conservative Members grinning in anticipation. I might not give them the opportunity to intervene.

All hon. Members agree that there must be a qualification of right of entry and abode. We must consider how that right is qualified. The changes in the rules are not as I would like them to be. There should be a proper qualification of right of entry and abode. Most of the objectionable features of the 1980 rules remain. The only change that Liberal Members can welcome is that the husband of a woman who is a British citizen can join her.

The hon. Member for Paddington (Mr. Wheeler) mentioned remaining dependants. The rules have not made it any easier for people to bring in elderly dependent relatives. Many such relatives who live in places such as Bangladesh and other places on the Indian subcontinent have families who have come here.

I am reminded of one of my constituents, Mr. Shah, whose parents live on their own in India. Their sons and daughters came to this country one by one. They have been trying to get into this country for a considerable time. The rules do not allow entry for those who genuinely need it. The rules do not make entry easy for such people, who are finding it difficult to come here on holiday to visit their grandchildren and children. It is virtually impossible for them to settle, as should be their right, with their sons and daughters who have made their homes here.

I am also concerned, as was my hon. Friend the Member for Thornaby (Mr. Wrigglesworth), about the capital requirement for business men and self-employed people. The level is above that in any other developed country. For example, in the United States capital of $40,000, which is about £20,000, is required.

I received the figures for property prices from a survey of 31 estate agents in the Croydon area. One of the principal occupations of many of the members of the immigrant community is shopkeeping. Many Asians in my constituency are shopkeepers. If they wanted to set up a shop or a small business, which would create employment and be of considerable service to the community, the average rate for a four-year lease would be about £2,600 per year, with a £3,000 deposit.

If such a person bought a shop measuring 21 feet by 14 feet with a two-bedroomed flat above it, he would have to spend about £23,000. In other words, a self-employed person would need to bring a considerable sum of money with him. Even in these days of marked inflation, £150,000 is a lot of money. I just wonder what a lawyer or an architect would do with £150,000. Where did the Home Secretary obtain the data in support of the £150,000 capital and £15,000 a year earnings?

The crux of the debate has been arranged marriages. Many of us have a fundamental objection in principle to the arranged marriage, but on the opposite side of the coin, the arranged marriage is part and parcel of the Hindu and other societies on the Indian subcontinent. Surely we should treat the customs and practices of other people with respect.

Under these rules, a young man or woman cannot enter an arranged marriage unless both partners have met. Quite often they do not meet. In addition, the marriage must be subsisting, and we are told that there will be a 12-month rule. What value judgment will an immigration officer put on a marriage that already exists? How can an officer make such a value judgment as to what a subsisting marriage is?

Mr. Jim Marshall

I do not support any of the rules, but the point that the hon. Gentleman has just made is quite clear. Marriages must subsist here for 12 months, and however disagreeable the rule, it would be quite obvious whether a couple were living together as man and wife.

Mr. Pitt

I accept that point, but it reminds me of a couple in my constituency who wanted to get married. They lived together for much longer than 12 months. The woman was carrying the man's child. The man was deported and he is still trying to get back into the country to marry the woman. What value judgments will be made at the end of 12 months? Will people be subjected to considerable stress, strain and questioning? A number of my constituents have made observations to me about the questioning techniques of the DHSS, which make me doubt whether those techniques should be used.

Mr. John Carlisle


Mr. Pitt

I shall not give way, because I wish to continue my speech.

Much capital has been made out of the possibility of men entering into arranged marriages primarily as a means of coming to the United Kingdom. What are the figures for the number of marriages so contracted? There is much hearsay on this subject, but I have yet to discover any hard evidence.

Mr. Douglas Hogg


Mr. Pitt

I hope the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, but I am coming to the end of my remarks.

The position of settled women is iniquitous. Settlement means a lasting commitment to the country. If a woman chooses to settle here, to work, to pay her taxes and to contribute to the country, she has as much right to bring in her fiancé as a woman who is a British citizen.

I believe that much bureaucracy will have to be established to deal with these rules. I gather that the staff complement in the nationality section of the Home Office is frozen at just over 100. For this and other reasons, Liberal Members will vote for the Opposition amendment and will abstain on the main motion.

8.5 pm

Mrs. Angela Rumbold (Mitcham and Morden)

I shall try not to detain the House for too long, but I seek some assurances on the proposals in the White Paper.

I wish that I had the confidence of my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Miss Fookes) in her straightforward feminist views about immigration and its application. My first experience as a constituency Member involved a young girl who, after attending school and working here, went back to her native home with her parents. She married, subsequently returned here, and has borne her husband's child. She is still trying to get her husband into the country. That caused me considerable concern, because it aroused in my breast an unusual feminist streak that told me that had she been wearing trousers rather than a skirt she would not have encountered the same difficulty.

Mr. Budgen

I am sure that my hon. Friend is aware that under the Act the Home Secretary retains a discretion to allow people into the country even if they do not have the right under the rules.

Mrs. Rumbold

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that information. Even so, I should be content to see husbands and wives allowed in under these rules.

I am still perturbed that fiancés are included. It is an arrangement that the public finds misleading. I have never understood the legitimacy of bringing in fiancés under the same rules that apply to husbands and wives. Frankly, fiancé collecting is a farily good sport for young girls, and I should be worried if we were to consider this as a serious proposition. Perhaps the Home Secretary will consider this point. It is one thing to allow husbands and wives in. That strengthens the family as an institution, and it is important that we should encourage that aspect of our society, but I doubt whether such a powerful argument can be used in respect of fiancés.

A number of my hon. Friends, particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Paddington (Mr. Wheeler), referred to arranged marriages. A small number of Asian girls and boys are contracted into marriage without their consent. That is a particularly pernicious form of marriage, and it is a particularly pernicious way of introducing people into this country. I cannot suport that activity. On behalf of many of my constituents, I seek an assurance that that practice will not be possible under future rules.

8.9 pm

Mr. Jim Marshall (Leicester, South)

It is a pleasure not to follow a hard-Right member of the Tory Party.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Keighley)

They are all polishing their jackboots.

Mr. Marshall

You will breathe a sigh of relief, Mr. Deputy Speaker, when I say that I do not intend to make as long a speech as usual on this subject. I am not sure that I heard the final sentence of the hon. Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mrs. Rumbold). Did I mishear her? I thought I heard her say that she did not want arranged marriages for British citizens and foreign nationals to be permitted. Is that correct?

Mrs. Rumbold

I was trying to say that I do not want the practice of arranged marriages between some Asian boys and girls to continue.

Mr. Marshall

I disagree with the hon. Lady, but I do not want to debate that narrow point. I saw her twice during her successful by-election campaign. She gave the impression that she was a firm supporter of the Prime Minister's views. The image that she painted of herself today is inconsistent with that impression. The hon. Lady has compassion and a heart. It is hard to believe that they are the Prime Minister's attributes.

It was interesting to hear the speech of the hon. Member for Paddington (Mr. Wheeler), especially when he tried to refute the numbers game that was put to him by some of his far-Right hon. Friends. I was about to agree with him, until I realised that his numeracy was not good. In his penultimate sentence he said that in deference to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, he would not make a long speech. I understand that his speech lasted for 19 minutes. Perhaps he misread the clock and thought that he had taken nine minutes. Having cast doubt on the hon. Gentleman's numeracy, his point about the Select Committee's view reflects the overwhelming opinion of the House.

I cannot understand why 49 Conservative Members and one Opposition Member felt the need to table the amendment which, fortunately, has not been selected. No matter how one looks at the rules, one sees that, despite the extremely minor Government concession to non-United Kingdom-born female British citizens, they are still the same racially motivated rules which the House has discussed for the past three and a half years. If one considers the treatment of children who are born in Britain from 1 January 1983 who will not become British citizens, one realises that the rules are made worse by the British Nationality Act 1981.

I welcome the minor concession that the Government have offered, even though they may have been forced into making it by threats from Europe or another source. Nevertheless, discrimination against non-United Kingdom-born female British citizens remains, because they must still satisfy the rule that partners to a marriage must have met prior to that event. That precondition does not apply to non-United Kingdom-born male British citizens. I circumscribe my welcome by saying that the concession is still discriminatory against women.

Despite the Home Secretary's protestations to the contrary, there is gross discrimination between the treatment of legally settled females in Britain and legally settled males. That will lead to the ridiculous circumstance that a female who is legally resident in Britain but was born overseas to a non-British citizen will not be able to call her husband or fiancé to live with her in the United Kingdom, even though her sister, who may have been born a few years earlier, or later, will have that right.

Mr. Marlow

The hon. Gentleman and I have talked about this subject before in Committee. The House knows that the hon. Gentleman is well informed and quite an expert on this subject. What would be the legal position of a young lady who was legally settled in the Indian subcontinent and wanted to bring a husband or fiancé in?

Mr. Marshall

The complexities of the immigration rules of the United Kingdom are sufficiently difficult to understand without taking time to be overly familiar with the operation of the rules in the Indian subcontinent.

The Government would be well advised to make a further concession to legally resident females. They will be forced to do so when the European Court of Human Rights examines cases that are before it and finds against the British Government. If the Government made such a concession now, they would do so with the support of the House rather than at the behest of the European Court of Human Rights. I should be much happier with the rules if that concession were made.

One small group of people are not mentioned in the rules. They are British overseas citizens who are legally resident in Britain from 1 January 1983. They have no other form of citizenship. The males, as they are legally resident, will have the right, after settlement, to call in a wife or fiancé. However, the females, even though they are legally resident and have no other form of citizenship, will have no right to send for a husband or fiancé until they have satisfied residential requirements enabling them to register as full British citizens.

Even though the Minister of State was not directly responsible for these matters, he will recall that British overseas citizenship was one of the new citizenship categories that were formed as a consequence of the 1981 Act. The Government have a responsibility to that group of people. At the moment they have no other form of citizenship. The Minister could urge the Home Secretary to make a further concession to that small group with regard to marriage requirements. I feel strongly about the plight of British overseas citizens.

I have charged the Home Secretary and the Government of codifying, in the British Nationality Act 1981, racially discriminatory legislation that has been passed by successive Acts of Parliament—the Immigration Act 1971 and previous immigration legislation. My earlier assertions have, to some extent, been reinforced by what the Home Secretary said today. He said that the immigration rules form part of the nationality legislation which the House debated eight or nine months ago.

Mr. John Sever (Birmingham, Ladywood)

When the British Nationality Bill was before the House, was the Home Secretary not at pains to try to convince us that it was not designed and would not be used to control immigration?

Mr. Marshall

The right hon. Gentleman certainly said that in reply to our questions at the time, but he has given a rather different impression today. [Interruption.] I suggest that the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) should read the Home Secretary's speech in Hansard, as I know that his hearing is not always what it should be. He will then know what his right hon. Friend actually said.

I urge the Minister of State to bring the point about female British citizens to the attention of the Home Secretary to see whether a further minor but important concession can be made for a very small group of people.

I agree with all those who have said that it is ridiculous that children born here but are not British citizens should have no immigration status of their own. I strongly support the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth, Central (Mr. Tilley) that they should be given indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom. In other words, they should be free to come and go so long as they do not remain outside the United Kingdom for more than two years. If the parents were here temporarily and then returned to their own country, the child would go with its parents, and unless the parents made further visits to the country the child's automatic right of re-entry would lapse after two years. In the vast majority of cases that is what would happen, but the Government would remove the possibility of difficulties arising if they would make that final concession.

I do not welcome the White Paper, despite the small concession that is made. It codifies the racially discriminatory legislation passed by successive Governments over the past 25 years. But for that concession, despite my dislike for the hard-Right of the Tory Party, I should vote against the "take note" motion. Because of the small concession, however, I shall abstain on that motion, but I shall vote for the amendment.

8.22 pm
Mr. John Farr (Harborough)

I hope that the hon. Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall) will forgive me if I do not follow his arguments exactly. I probably know his constituency almost as well as he knows mine, as the northern boundary of my constituency is the southern boundary of his.

Mr. Marshall


Mr. Farr

The hon. Gentleman spoke for 10 or 15 minutes. I hope to confine myself to five or six minutes, so perhaps he will allow me to deploy one or two arguments before he seeks to intervene.

The message that I receive from my constituents and from a good many of the hon. Gentleman's constituents is that they do not want the relaxation contained in the White Paper. In my constituency of Harborough and in the hon. Gentleman's constituency of Leicester, South and in the other city constituencies, although we have massive immigrant problems we do not approach them from a racist point of view. Simply because of the acute job shortage in the area, my constituents are concerned about the prospect of a further 3,000 or 4,000 male job seekers coming in as a result of the Government's proposal.

The hon. Member for Leicester, South seems to live in a different world. Surely he knows, for instance, that in the Leicester travel-to-work area unemployment is 12.7 per cent. or 29,789 people, in the county area it is 11.8 per cent. or 42,735 people and in the East Midlands as a whole it is almost 12 per cent. All those extra 2,500, if my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is correct in his estimate, or the perhaps more accurate estimate of 4,000 or 5,000 extra male jobs seekers per year, are likely to be attracted to areas that are already centres of Asian influence in Britain. They will come to their kith and kin and the competition for jobs will become much harsher in my constituency and in the whole of the city of Leicester.

Strangely enough, the strongest advocates of keeping out the additional flow of male job seekers are the leaders of the immigrant organisations already established here. There is no question of racism. It is common sense. Anyone can see that there are far too many people chasing far too few jobs in my part of the world and in that of the hon. Member for Leicester, South.

Mr. Marshall


Mr. Farr

No, I shall not give way.

Mr. Marshall

The hon. Gentleman is talking about my constituency.

Mr. Farr

An additional 5,000 or 6,000 male job seekers per year cannot be in the best interests of the hon. Gentleman's constituents or mine.

I have promised to be brief. I especially admired the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) who clearly and concisely expressed the views of those of us who put our names to his amendment. I feel keenly that, not for the first time in recent months, the Conservative Party is once again wavering from its election commitment. I had requests from my constituency party executive in relation to the Common Market and Northern Ireland and I have now received a direction on this matter. I have been told that in no way must I support the Government on this as it is a clear departure from our party manifesto and it will undo much of the good that has been done and undermine many of the promises that Conservative politicians made in the East Midlands during the last election campaign. I very much regret the fact that, as in the case of Northern Ireland, the Government have once again departed from the Conservative Party election manifesto. My message to them is that in my part of the world we shall not go along with it because it is desperately unfair to those who have been seeking jobs in the district for many years. I shall therefore do my utmost to ensure that the proposal is defeated.

8.27 pm
Mr. John Sever (Birmingham, Ladywood)

I wish to put one or two brief questions for the Minister of State to deal with when he replies to the debate.

First, I hope that the Minister of State will address himself to the question that my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) put to the Home Secretary at the beginning of the debate. Why cannot we have an equalisation between the sexes in the new immigration rules? Why cannot the anomalies to which my right hon. Friend and others drew attention be straightened out? Will the Minister agree, even at this late stage, to review these matters and to ensure that there is no discrimination between the sexes with regard to the right to bring fiancés into the United Kingdom? It is ambiguous, unfair, unreasonable and, by virtue of the Home Secretary's performance today, unjustifiable. If it is justifiable, can we have a reply to my right hon. Friend's challenge? If it is not, will the Minister withdraw that anomaly from the rules? It is a simple matter. I hope that the Minister will direct himself to it.

Some speeches have referred to the threat that would be posed to employment prospects if we allowed a few dependants and would-be husbands to enter Britain. For those seeking entry to Britain for employment, the hurdles over which they have to leap are phenomenal. It is virtually impossible, unless the Department of Employment feels that a person's skills are essential to this country, for an applicant to enter Britain for employment.

The Minister is aware of cases that I have investigated of well-qualified, trained and experienced people, working temporarily in Britain for established reputable companies, who wish to extend the ability to stay in Britain to do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. They have been refused, because, presumably, they are not wanted. They are unwanted not by the prospective employer or the local community in which they have probably settled and worked amicably, but by the Home Office. It appears that the valuable job that they are doing in the community could be done by someone else. It is not difficult to understand why those in that position allege that the Government are behaving racially.

If the Government wish to disavow that charge, action can be taken to remedy the employment regulations and restrictions so that someone who can make a valuable contribution may be admitted for employment. The small numbers who fall into the successful category are not, as many Conservative Members have said, taking away the jobs of other people with a reasonable claim to them. It is not true to say that the unemployment problem is exacerbated to any extent by those seeking to enter Britain for employment.

My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall) referred to the difficulties experienced by dependants. Surely the elderly who seek to enter Britain to join their families would, when they arrive, enable their families settled here to have a full and proper family life—something which the Prime Minister argues is worth while and desirable. The right hon. Lady has been prancing around the country for the past three years extolling the virtues of family life and all that it entails. At the same time, she makes jolly sure that those who seek legitimately to enter Britain to complete the circle of family life with those already honestly and legally settled here cannot do so. That anomaly lends itself to severe criticism of the Government's attitude to immigration and race relations.

An opportunity has been presented for the Government to correct a series of anomalies that are being perpetuated in the immigration rules and regulations. For a few moments the Home Secretary waxed eloquent telling us how important it was that we should use the rules and the British Nationality Act as a clearing house to resolve the problems of citizenship, nationality, immigration and control. He said that we must ensure that everything was put on a sound footing. The rules will not have that effect. They will drive a wedge into the ethnic minority communities with such vigour that they will be upset and disenchanted with the way in which they are treated. They will make valid accusations against the Government that they are not being treated equitably and fairly in the wider community. Those arguments will not be difficult to make or to sustain.

Why could not the Government have brought to the House a series of propositions that would be accepted and welcomed by the ethnic minority communities, rather than give cause for great protest and concern. I hoped that the lessons of the past few years had taught the House and the Government that we need to concentrate in ever greater detail on the maintenance of good race relations, to the benefit of all. I am disappointed, as are many other hon. Members, that the Government have missed yet another opportunity to put right a matter of great concern to many of our citizens.

Reference has been made to waiting lists at the various High Commissioners' offices throughout the Commonwealth and at embassies elsewhere. The length of time that people have to wait for interviews, the amount of documentation that they have to furnish and the extent of good faith that they have to prove mean, in effect, that by operating a bureaucratic system the Government are reducing the number of genuine applicants likely to make successful applications for entry into Britain.

Will the Minister of State do something about the ridiculously long delays facing applicants? Will he ensure that applications are dealt with expeditiously, so that the complaints that I assume he receives by the sackload every day from hon. Members, who try to represent some of the cases to him, may be reduced? Many of the people waiting in the queues, who have legitimate cases, should be given the opportunity to make their representations at the earliest moment. The Government lay themselves open to the further charge that by delaying applicants and making sure that queues are lengthened and the delays extended, they are behaving in a biased and racist fashion.

If the Government wish to acquit themselves of those charges, they have the remedies. They can simply increase the number of people dealing with the work load at the various High Commissioners' offices, and try not to erect unnecessary hurdles or lay on people burdens of proof that are virtually impossible to discharge.

I conclude on an issue that was touched on earlier. I understand that it will be necessary for fiancés who have entered the United Kingdom to prove that their marriage has been sustained for at least 12 months. I gather that it is necessary for would-be fiancés to prove that at the outset of the application, and to prove at the time of application and of the initial interview that the marriage will be sustained. That is a ridiculous proposition. Any aspiring marriage partner assumes that things will work out and cannot possibly foretell what will happen, perhaps in a relatively short time. For the onus of proof of a successful marriage to be laid on an applicant at the time of the marriage is both farcical and ludicrous, because no one knows how it will turn out. Far from simply having to worry about proving that the marriage has been maintained for 12 months, the applicant has to prove in advance that it will be successful. Surely the Minister of State could have brought to the House propositions that could be accepted by all the ethnic minorities and be held to be reasonable so that we could improve race relations in a way previously unthought of, instead of introducing measures which, as my right hon. Friend explained on behalf of the Opposition, will be scrapped on the advent of a Labour Government and replaced by measures and a nationality Bill which will give all the people of the United Kingdom fair and equitable treatment under the law.

8.37 pm
Mr. Percy Grieve (Solihull)

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Sever) expressed himself with far more moderation and persuasion than most Opposition speakers today. His constituency is not far from mine, but I cannot imagine that what he said about scrapping the 1981 Act and these rules will commend itself to my constituents, and I doubt very much whether it will commend itself to many of his. We have heard many speeches from the Opposition Benches today, all informed by a spirit of unreality which I find it difficult to understand.

The problem of immigration into all Western European countries, and many other parts of the world, has been increasing since the end of the war because of modern means of locomotion and transport and the greater ease of communications. It was all very well for every child born in this country to be British when the natural supposition was that that child was born here of British parents and that the Sovereign of this country was parens patriae, in the old sense of the term. However, it is quite useless and wrong that such a rule should prevail in modern conditions, when in every country there are thousands of people living temporarily, doing jobs or for some other reason, far from their native lands, and having children who have no connection whatever with the country other than that their parents were temporarily here.

It is unbelievable that Labour Members should wish to scrap that change in the 1981 legislation. I understand the reactions of those of my right hon. and hon. Friends who object to the proposed change in paragraph 50 of the White Paper. I support the change and I approve substantially of the White Paper. I had doubts about the proposed change because it runs contrary to the Conservative Party manifesto. Since then, however, things have changed and the British Nationality Act has been passed.

I have the honour to be chairman of the legal affairs committee of the Council of Europe and I was chairman of its human rights sub-committee. Grave difficulties will be created in the Commission and in the European Court of Human Rights if Britain does not give substantially the same rights to women as to men, because article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which we are rightly a party, provides: Men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry and to found a family, according to the national laws governing the exercise of this right. Article 14 provides: The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour. I emphasise the word "sex". Therefore, in the conditions of the modern world and precisely for the reasons given in articles 12 and 14, it is no longer right that we should give every child born in this country British nationality. For the same reasons, we should accord women the same rights in the choice of husband as we accord men in the choice of wife. The European convention obliges us to do so.

Some of my right hon. and hon. Friends believe that we can disregard the convention, but our adhesion to it, as well as the right of individual petition to the Commission and Court of Human Rights, is a substantial progress that is to our benefit.

There may be circumstances in which we should be glad to rely upon the European Convention on Human Rights. For example, article 2 of the first protocol gives the right to a choice of education. The Labour Party has threatened to abolish private education and, if it should take office, Conservative Members could appeal to the European Court of Human Rights and to the Commission. Under article 2, we should probably win the day.

We cannot have it both ways. The convention is important to us for many reasons. If we wish to rely upon it, we must respect the views of the court and the Commission on sex equality. Although I believe that since the Second World War immigration has grown to such an extent that it is beyond our capacity to assimilate it, and although I have been behind nearly all the measures for restriction and reform—they have been a reform—that have been put forward by successive Governments, nevertheless I believe that the relaxation in paragraph 60 is correct. Without it, we shall infringe the convention.

The European Court has not yet said that we are infringing the convention. The cases to which some hon. Members referred today have gone to the Commission, which has said that they are "recevable"—receivable. As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said, at some stage one can negotiate with those who are petitioning the court, one can deal with the matter through the Council of Ministers or one can allow the matter to go before the court, which can then come to a decision. That has been done recently, for example, in the case of the closed shop. For the reasons that I have given, I believe that the court would be obliged to find against us in the present cases. Such a decision should be anticipated. In the conditions that prevail in the modern world, to which many Labour Members have so little regard, we must consider the equality of the sexes.

Although I understand the attitude of my right hon. and hon. Friends who have tabled the amendment which has not been chosen for debate, when the matter is examined in the way that I have suggested, it will be found that the Government are right to make the alteration. I commend it to the House and I support the White Paper.

Mr. Proctor

Is not the proposition of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve) an abdication of national and parliamentary sovereignty?

Mr. Grieve

I am glad to say that it is nothing of the sort. We subscribe voluntarily to the European Convention on Human Rights. We could withdraw at any time, but our subscription to that convention will, for the reasons that I have tried briefly to set out, benefit Britain. I hope that we shall not withdraw.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong

Order. I remind the House than many hon. Members still wish to speak and that the first of the Front Bench speakers hopes to catch my eye at 9.15 pm.

8.47 pm
Mr. Edward Lyons (Bradford, West)

Britain signed the European Convention on Human Rights voluntarily and was proud to do so. We have a great reputation for respecting human rights. Our signature to that convention means that we must respect the judgments of the European Court.

Conservative Members who object to the Government's concession say that the Conservative manifesto stated that it would not be made. That reminds me of the Labour Party manifesto before the GLC election, which promised reform of London Transport fares. Before one can implement manifesto promises on election, one must ensure that the law permits one to do what was promised. When the Court of Appeal said that the GLC had no power to implement its promise, Conservative Members said nothing. They talked about the rule of law and said that although the promise was in the manifesto the Court of Appeal had ruled that there was no power to carry it out.

The European Court would almost certainly have said that the Government had no power to carry out the proposals in their manifesto regarding husbands and fiancés. However, the Government implemented that promise and have hung on, knowing that what they had done was wrong and that they would lose in court. During the progress of the British Nationality Bill they knew that the cases were hanging over them. Now that the day of decision is near, the Government do not wish Britain to be in the dock. If Conservative Members do not like the European Convention on Human Rights, they need to persuade the Government to withdraw from it, but if Britain cannot put its signature to and abide by an international convention on human rights that is a cause of great shame to Britain. There are obligations under treaties and under the rule of law. The Labour GLC did not like it, and the Conservative Party may not like it, but we must observe the rule of law.

What I find so terribly shaming is that the Government will not admit that they have been forced to make the change because of the European Convention on Human Rights. They pretend that they are making the change because of the new definition of British citizenship in the British Nationality Act. That is an absurd argument.

It is clear that men who have been settled here for one or two years can bring over a wife or fiancée, but a girl who has lived and been settled here since she was two cannot do so. The Government are not proposing to change the position concerning the men, despite the Government's majority. What is being done has nothing to do with the new definition of British citizenship. If it has anything to do with that, it follows that for the last 12 months the Minister has allowed people to be refused admission, knowing that the new definition of citizenship entitled them to come here. In those circumstances, that would be even worse behaviour on his part. It is an excuse that has been dreamt up at the last minute. Why cannot the Government say "We are proud to be signatories to the convention and will implement it"?

The Government are making a minor concession, but it does not go far enough, because it is clear that women settled here will not have the same rights as men. That is clearly unjust. I hope that those who have been refused entry—wrongly, as it seems—in the last few months will have matters put right in their favour. The Minister has said that he has known all the time that under the new definition of British citizenship they would be entitled to bring in their spouses and fiancés.

Conservative Members are anxious about increases in the population, but elderly dependants do not in any way increase the permanent population. They do not procreate. We should be humane and reasonable. If people are able to maintain their aged mothers or fathers here they should be allowed to do so. We should adopt a more benevolent attitude in that regard. For example, if there are four sons living in Britain, all of whom have done well and are prosperous, and they want to bring over an elderly mother, why should they not be permitted to do so? Unfortunately, if that elderly mother has a daughter in Pakistan, in most cases it is impossible for her to come. What harm would it do if a woman of 70 or 80 came to Britain to spend most of her time with her four sons or grandchildren, without the need for recourse to the State or to State aid of any kind? I hope that the Government will look again at that.

The real evil of section 1 of the British Nationality Act 1981 is that it takes away the right of everyone born here to be British. First, there is the undue complication that this change has produced in the law. Secondly, many people will believe that they are British, but in 20 years' time, when the records are missing, they will have to prove that their mother and father—or one of them—were settled here. Both parents may be dead, or, if alive, may not be traceable. In 20 years' time, a man may go on holiday and when he comes back he may have to prove, when he gets to passport control, that his parents were settled here when he was born here 20 years ago.

The Government have not said at any time how many people they expect to be affected by the alteration to the hallowed right that anyone born here is British. I suspect that only 10, 50 or 100 people a year at most will be affected. The Government have given us an enormously complicated British Nationality Act to deal with the consequences of removing the right to be British if one is born here. That is an example of what is wrong with the British Nationality Act. Therefore, it is also an example of what is wrong with the rules made under it. For these various reasons, I cannot welcome the rules.

8.54 pm
Mr. John Stokes (Halesowen and Stourbridge)

It was rumoured last summer that the necessary technical revisions to the immigration rules following the British Nationality Act 1981 would be used by the Government to allow foreign husbands and fiancés to settle in Britain. Many people feared that once again the Home Office had given way to a tiny but vociferous lobby in which the British people had no part.

I regret that my worst fears and those of many Conservative Members have been confirmed. Once again the views of the vast majority of indigenous people in these islands are being wholly ignored by the House.

I am not particularly concerned about a Conservative manifesto commitment being broken, although it had been drawn up after a most thorough and careful consultation throughout the party. The issue is much larger. It is one of keeping faith with the British people, whose views on immigration are strong and well known, although, I regret to say, usually ignored by the House.

The reason that the Home Office originally gave for the restriction on the right of entry of husbands and fiancés was to limit primary immigration. My hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) gave some most telling quotations from speeches made at that time by my right hon. Friends the Home Secretary and the Minister of State. The Home Office then admitted that marriage was being used as a route to settlement of male immigrants here. The change in the manifesto was an attempt to undo some of the harm caused by the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins), who has not been here during the debate, but who has so much to answer for from his liberal, progressive and trendy period as Home Secretary.

It is true that in the White Paper there are some safeguards about the sincerity or otherwise of marriages. However, it is unsuitable, if not impossible, for the State to determine those matters satisfactorily. They are merely a coat of whitewash to cover up a decision which will increase total primary immigration, and will extend to the relatives of the men newly admitted.

We have been told that only about 3,000 men, perhaps only 2,500, will be admitted each year as a result of the changes. One may say that 3,000 is not a great number compared with the 55,000 people who still come in each year, but 3,000 a year becomes 30,000 in 10 years. However, I do not believe that those numbers are correct. The number of people entering will be far greater. Over the years, the Home Office has woefully underestimated the number of immigrants and has hoped to lull the fears of the English people by refusing to give any estimate of the immigrant population in future years. The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) has given an estimate of double the present immigrant population in the next generation.

My main worry is the effect of the rules and how they will be received by the vast mass of our constituents. Many people who in other respects were not supporters of the Conservative Party voted for us because they thought that we were at least attempting to bring immigration to a halt. That has not happened. The dependants of families settled here have continued to arrive in large numbers. However, it was at least felt that the position would be better than under the previous Labour Government. There was some measure of faith and trust in the present Government. I fear that the new rules will break that faith, as many colleagues must know from their postbags.

I do not believe that English people wish our society to become more multi-racial. The new rules will be seen by them as extending the bounds of the growing multi-racial society. Worse still, people will begin to doubt whether the Government and the Home Office are sincere about strict immigration control. Are the Government more influenced by newspapers like The Guardian, by the media and by the powerful race relations industry than by the man in the street?

I am delighted that both the Home Secretary and the Minister of State are present. I have a high personal regard for them. I was going to refer, not to the man in the street but, if I dare say it, the man in the pub. Do those Ministers ever have the chance of going into an English pub and meeting ordinary English people?

Mr. Whitelaw

No one has ever accused me of not doing that.

Mr. Stokes

I rather fear that, in that respect, my right hon. Friends are out of touch with the views of ordinary people.

The Government also refer, although somewhat faintheartedly, to the European Commission of Human Rights or other similar bodies. I dispute whether these bodies have any standing or respect in this country on such a vital matter as deciding who can or cannot settle here. Ordinary people will have no truck with them. If these unpopular measures are to be pushed down the throats of English people, let us not, for goodness sake, make it worse by saying that we are acting at the behest of some vague foreign body. Other countries do not obey these rules. We alone in this country seem to be, if I may say so, the mugs in this matter.

One of the reasons for the Government's high standing in the opinion polls is that we have a Prime Minister who is a patriot and a strong ruler. Whether or not people agree with her policies, they know that she will always put Great Britain's interests first. In the lamentable case of the revised rules, British interests are being made subservient to the modish views of the race relations lobby which is not particularly conspicuous for its patriotism. I hope that, even at this late hour, the Government will have second thoughts.

9.4 pm

Ms. Harriet Harman (Peckham)

I draw the attention of the House once again to one part of the immigration rules. I refer to children who are born in this country to parents who are lawfully here but who are neither settled nor British citizens.

Under the British Nationality Act 1981, the position of such children is far from satisfactory. It is difficult to talk in the abstract, and it is important that people should understand the complications and problems that are likely to arise. I shall therefore take the example of a child born of Polish parents who may, for example, be Solidarity supporters who have fled the Polish regime because of the troubles. They might be in the country lawfully, but not be settled or British citizens. They may be here on a year-to-year basis.

A child born to that couple has no immigration status. The child is stateless, because it will not be a Polish citizen and might not be able to return to Poland. In addition, because of its place of birth it is not, as of right, a citizen of this country. That situation is far from satisfactory, and the proposed rules make things even worse. They create difficulty and confusion on top of injustice.

The parents are given the choice of "regularising"—the Home Office's word, not mine—the child's immigration status or leaving the child in limbo. However, it is by no means a simple matter to "regularise" the child's status. Depending on the status of the child's parents, it could obtain any one of a number of statuses once the situation has been regularised. It is impossible for the parents to know whether the child would be better off in limbo or after being regularised. They cannot foresee the consequences of regularisation. The situation is further complicated if those Polish parents do not live together although the marriage subsists. Housing may be difficult and the parents may be unable to live together and have to live in hostels.

The rules state that if the parents do not live together the Home Office will decide which parent has custody and control and will ascribe that parent's immigration status to the child once an application has been made to regularise the position. That adds to the difficulties and might lead to problems in working out which parent has care and control of the child. Only if the parents abandon the child into the care of the local authority will Britain, under the immigration rules, recognise its responsibility to children born here. If the parents abandon the child into the care of the local authority, it will automatically be deemed settled. It is disgraceful that we should recognise our responsibilities to those born here only when they have been abandoned into the care of a local authority.

Let us suppose that a child is born here, has a home here and goes to school here although it has not been regularised because the parents have not—as is quite likely—found their way through all the procedure. Let us further suppose that the child goes on a school trip. It might find it difficult, if not impossible, to get back into the country. It may not have its birth certificate or parents' passport with it. Those hon. Members who have tried to seek temporary admission for someone during the weekend will know that it is difficult.

It is no good saying that the parents should sort things out in advance. It takes about four months for the Home Office to send a postcard acknowledging a letter that has been sent—[Interruption.] When the new immigration rules come into effect it will no doubt take not four, but six months. At the minimum, the Government should accept that all children born here are settled here and should reconsider the rules on that point. They surely cannot have intended the complication and confusion that will arise from the White Paper. People with access to the advice of a QC skilled in immigration law are all right, but for others the problem is impossible. As a minimum, people born here should have the right to settle here. Ideally we should go back to the old rule that children born here are our responsibility and should be British citizens.

9.10 pm
Mr. Nick Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)

The issue is whether we should keep faith with the electorate. On many occasions we are unable to fulfil the promises that we make to the electorate before a general election. We in the Tory Pary had a long discussion when we were last in Opposition about what our policy on immigration should be. Inevitably, we decided on a compromise.

I put forward the compromise to my constituents as a policy which had been worked out in detail and would be carried out in detail. Because I could do that I was able to convince many of my constituents who wanted the Tory Party to adopt a repatriation policy and to say "No" to all dependants that although for them the compromise was unsatisfactory it was at least a compromise which would be honoured. It is vital to keep faith with our constituents, having tried to persuade them of that compromise.

Now the Home Secretary says that the relaxation of the rules is necessary because of the way in which the British Nationality Act is framed. He speaks of the Act as though it were something outside himself and his control. But he was the architect of the Act. Of course, I understand that by honouring the detailed pledge in our manifesto an apparent inconsistency might be put within the general philosophy of the Act.

When a nation has grown up with many waves of immigration and many changes of attitude and social structure, it is difficult to frame a nationality Act that is consistent with any one philosophy or notion of logic. To some extent it is bound to involve a correction here, a little illogicality there and a bit of muddle elsewhere.

The symmetry of the British Nationality Act was far less important than the prime necessity of keeping faith with those who, in many instances, had given their vote to the Tory Party because they believed that we would be firm about the compromise, even if they disagreed with us on many other issues.

It is extraordinary that many of my hon. Friends seem to be overwhelmed by fashionable notions of abstract rights. We do not have a Bill of Rights. We do not have overriding principles. We have parliamentary government. Of course we regard some notions as important, but they are not an absolute barrier to any legislation.

The same argument applies to our commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights. Are we so unsure of ourselves? Are we like German citizens in 1945 and so uncertain of our respect for minorities that we need to be ruled by abstract principles imposed by foreign courts? We must be clear and consistent. We should not use the European Court of Human Rights, a foreign court, when we disagree with, for example, the British Rail closed shop. We must be certain that we have the self-confidence to rule ourselves through our own parliamentary institutions.

I hope that hon. Members who are deeply worried about the proposals will support the Government on the first vote and demonstrate that we disagree with the Opposition, but on the second vote we should take as a genuine assertion the promise by the Prime Minister that there will be no final decision on the rules until the debate has been concluded and considered. Many of us would like to vote against the "take note" motion, and in logic we should, but, none the less, many of our colleagues would prefer to abstain. We hope that we shall have a large abstention and that the Home Secretary and the Government will consider it carefully, because the good will and the integrity of the Tory Party are at issue.

9.15 pm
Dr. Shirley Summerskill (Halifax)

The Government have tried to excuse, explain away or justify harsh and discriminatory immigration rules on the ground that they have been drawn up to operate alongside their British Nationality Act 1981, but it is no excuse to introduce bad rules simply to accompany a bad Act. The remedy is not to have had the British Nationality Act 1981 in the first place. It follows, therefore, that the Opposition are committed to replacing both the Immigration Act 1971 and the British Nationality Act 1981 with new legislation which will not discriminate on grounds of race or sex. Alongside that legislation we will introduce new immigration rules which will also be non-discriminatory.

Immigration control today must appreciate that Britain is an increasingly multiracial society with minority communities who originally settled here as immigrants but may now have three generations of their families living here who wish to retain links with their original country. More people than ever before wish to travel abroad, to visit other countries and to study in them. That development should be encouraged, not discouraged.

I hope that the Government will respond positively, as they have said they will, to constructive criticisms of, and suggestions about, the rules. All my right hon. and hon. Friends who have spoken in the debate have considerable personal experience of constituency cases to reinforce their views. We do not ask for a great deal to be done which is not fair, just and right, as I am sure speeches have shown today, but, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) found in questions to the Home Secretary, it is impossible to reason with prejudice. That was the tone of the Home Secretary's speech today.

The Home Secretary's speech was different in content from those he made when he was seeking votes at the general election. We do not complain about the change, but it is no surprise that Conservative hon. Members are so angry and embarrassed about what is happening. They have had to swallow the fact that the register has been abandoned, the quota system has been abandoned and now the promise to end the concession to husbands and fiancés, which was introduced by the Labour Government in 1974, has been abandoned.

Three years ago the Prime Minister successfully fanned the flames of racism by giving the word "swamped" a new meaning in the English language. Since then the Home Secretary has desperately had to respond to various wings of his party. The Right clamours, as it has today, for a rigid and unfair system of immigration control; there are few on the Left. The hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Miss Fookes) is an admirable example of someone who wants fair treatment for women in the new rules and is prepared to say so. Doing a balancing act, the Home Secretary has produced a compromise between the two extremes.

We welcome the limited change but it is not enough. The new rule on foreign husbands of women who are settled here but not British citizens is unjustifiable and shamefully discriminatory. It makes a mockery of the Prime Minister's election claim: Under the Conservatives people lawfully settled here will have nothing to fear. The rules are an attack on women lawfully settled here.

It is a great credit to the Labour Government that one of the first actions of the Home Office in 1974 was to allow all women lawfully settled here to bring in their foreign husbands. We should return to that situation. It is the only way in which the rules can be consistent with the spirit of the Race Relations and Sex Discrimination Acts, both of which are Labour Acts.

There appears to be a lack of communication between the Conservative Front and Back Benches. No fewer than 50 hon. Members, who from the list appear to be fairly intelligent and include the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), have signed a motion that shows that they do not understand what the Government are doing. I know who tabled the motion and I can see how some people might sign documents without reading them properly. The right hon. and hon. Members decline to take note of the White Paper because of the re-introduction of the concession made by the Labour Government in 1974 to foreign husbands and male fiancés". I wish that the concession was being reintroduced, but it is not. Although there is a partial change for the good, it is nothing like the concession under the Labour Government.

Under the new rule the following categories of women will not be allowed to bring in their foreign husbands: British citizens who, because it is an arranged marriage, have not met their husband or cannot comply with the three criteria laid down; all Commonwealth citizens settled here; all non-EEC women from foreign countries who are settled here, many of whom are refugees; all women who are British passport holders and who arrived in the United Kingdom after 1 January 1978, because they will become British overseas citizens; and all women students and work permit holders.

But all men, whoever they are and whatever their status—whether British citizens or simply settled here, whether students or business men—will be allowed to bring in a foreign wife. Why should women settled here but not British citizens be expected to choose perhaps between husband and country in which they have settled? The woman may have dependants here, such as elderly parents or other relatives, she may have a job or career or she may simply have lived here since childhood and know of no other country.

The rules are riddled with discriminatory assumptions that by definition men only are the wage earners, business people and self-employed and that women, when they are mentioned in the rules, are either unable or unwilling to earn their living unless they are au pairs, nurses or midwives. All women are regarded in the rules as dependent and necessary adjuncts of men who must be admitted without an entry clearance.

It is made extremely easy for a man who has settled here to be joined by his wife. The wife of a male student here not only can come in but can take a job, whereas a female student does not have the automatic right to admit her husband, who has to come in under a separate status. A man's fiancée does not have to have an entry clearance to be admitted to marry him.

In paragraph 45 of the rules a special provision is written in for a man to be joined here by a woman who is not married to him and who is not his fiancée, but who is living with him as a wife. A special provision is made to allow her to come in. However, there are no similar provisions for women settled here to be joined by their husbands, fiancés or live-in lovers. It is made difficult or impossible for women settled here to be joined by their menfolk. Even if they are British citizens, they have to have entry clearance for their husbands. The entry clearance could be refused if three specific criteria are not satisfied.

Therefore, we are left with an immigration rule that is socially divisive as well as offensive as it discriminates between men and women and also between one woman and another about their right to live in their own country with whomever they choose to marry.

The definition is given as a justification for the change. The rule has been created to justify a discriminatory Act. The Home Secretary could not justify that discrimination. He kept referring to the Immigration Act 1971 and the British Nationality Act. He has a built-in prejudice, having said that the abode of a husband should normally be viewed as the natural place of residence of the wife. The right hon. Gentleman once accused someone of going round stirring up apathy. He is stirring up sexist and racist feeling. If he could justify the rule with one logical, reasonable explanation, it might help, but he has none.

Hon. Members who have spoken have attacked primary immigration by husbands, which is the great fear, as they will seek work. Although there are well over 3 million unemployed, they will take some of the jobs. However, immigrants' wives are not regarded, for some reason, as potential wage earners. We return to the philosophy that all women sit at home and do nothing. I do not know how many Conservative Members know how many married women work outside the home. The answer is that 58 per cent. of married women, many of whom are wives who have come from abroad, work outside the home and earn a wage. About 200,000 non-British women enter the country every year, but they are not regarded as primary immigrants. They are absorbable in the general statistics.

However, those women are potential wage earners. Some hon. Members have probably married foreign women, possibly women who earn a wage or salary. I am sure that they would not want them to be regarded as non-people and as non-existent for the purpose of the statistics. We have heard that under this change in the rules 3,000 men each year will be admitted.

Sir Frederick Burden

The change will not apply only to husbands. There is a case in my own constituency in which three boys, all in their teens, will accompany the husband.

Dr. Summerskill

Children of a man or woman with a right to be lawfully settled here should be allowed to come in.

If we extend this rule and go back to the 1974 arrangement, I imagine that fewer than 3,000 husbands a year will come in.

Many hon. Members have anticipated the judgment of the European Commission of Human Rights. That court is a powerful force for change and has recognised discrimination on grounds of sex—

Mr. Budgen


Dr. Summerskill

It is extremely influential, and should be heeded. It recognised discrimination on grounds of sex when it came to equal pay. In the Gracious Speech, the Government propose to bring forward an amendment to the law on equal pay in the light of a recent judgment of the European Court. The power of the court is thus recognised, and that measure will be introduced. We hope to see similar action on immigration rules.

The hon. and learned Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve) predicted that the judgment of the European Court could well go against the Government. The Government should therefore be prepared to change the rules even further when that happens.

Mr. Marlow


Dr. Summerskill

The Government should not have to be forced to act on equal pay or against discrimination on the grounds of sex simply because a court finds them guilty. They should do so because it is right and just.

We have heard examples of the anomalies that will result from this rule. If a brother and sister arrive here as refugees, the brother can marry a foreigner and settle with his wife, but if the sister marries a foreigner she must leave the country simply because she is a woman. Another anomaly arises in respect of EEC women, who are totally unaffected by the rule. Therefore, an Italian or German woman living or working here can bring in a husband from anywhere in the world, whereas a woman who has lived here since childhood but is not a British citizen cannot live here with a foreign husband.

The Government have said that a woman settled here can qualify to be joined by her husband by registering to become a British citizen. A man would not have to do so. However, in the British Nationality Act the Government rightly decided not to introduce any restriction on the holding of dual nationality. Many women from other countries—India, for example—would be required to renounce their citizenship if they applied for British citizenship. It is unfair that women should be expected to apply for British citizenship and lose dual nationality when a man who is settled here would not have to do any such thing. I hope that we can end once and for all the long parliamentary debate that has been going on for years by returning to the 1974 arrangement as soon as possible when there was no discrimination on grounds of sex or race.

My hon. Friends have made the case about children strongly. The Guardian has described the rules as they affect children as a "web of bureaucratic obfuscation." They have been described as a nightmare of uncertainty and complexity by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. The sooner they are clarified and made fair the better. The sooner the next Labour Government can restore the principle that any child who is born in Britain is automatically a citizen, irrespective of the parents' status, the better it will be for immigration control and human rights.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) dealt comprehensively with the problems that are faced by grandparents and elderly relatives who want to come to Britain. It is only by a new set of rules, allied to a new Immigration Act and a new British Nationality Act, that all these complexities, unfairnesses and injustices can be remedied. I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote for the amendment to the rules and to abstain from taking note of them.

9.36 pm
The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Timothy Raison)

We can all agree that this has been a debate of strong but conflicting feelings that have often been expressed eloquently. I do not begrudge that—it is what the House of Commons is for. Nevertheless, it has not shaken my view that what we propose to do is basically right.

I shall return to the starting point. The House knows that the British Nationality Act 1981 comes into force on 1 January 1983. As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said, new rules are inevitable, for technical reasons. The Act changes the nomenclature of citizenship, which is essential to the rules. Moreover, we must provide for the new nationality law on who acquires citizenship by birth and who does not. I shall return to how we shall do that. It must be done. There are other technical factors such as the European Community aspects.

The debate is not about technical factors, but about policy and its implementation—policy following the passing of the British Nationality Act 1981. I shall remind the House of some of the Act's provisions. It is not in itself an Immigration Act, although it has an important bearing on immigration. It creates the new British citizenship and defines who is entitled to it and thus to the right of abode in Britain.

In place of the old citizenship of the United Kingdom and colonies, with its sub-division into those who are entitled to live here and those who are not, the Act clarifies who is a British citizen and who has the close connection with Britain that entitles him or her to belong here. Those whose connection is with a dependent territory will normally belong there. Their residence entitlement is logically not in Britain. The House will appreciate the long-term significance of that.

At the same time, birth alone will not be a sufficient ground for citizenship. Children who have neither a parent who is a citizen nor a parent who is settled here—in other words, children whose parents are here either temporarily or illegally—will not acquire our citizenship at birth. Almost invariably, however, they will hold their parents' citizenship. If they remain here for 10 years, or if their parents change their own status, the children will be able to acquire citizenship, but if they return to their own country they will not take British citizenship with them to be passed on, with the right of abode, to the next generation. That is an important change, brought in by the British Nationality Act and implemented by the rules that we are now discussing.

The British Nationality Act, therefore, does what it set out to do. It relates citizenship to belonging. It gives us a more logical basis for our policy towards immigration control, in line with our declared objectives. As well as providing a means of defining who has the right of abode in this country, it offers us something else. It offers us the status of a British citizen, which I believe we shall be proud to hold, which will help to bind us together, and which, as I have said, will also give us a rational basis for our immigration policy.

This is where I part company from my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook). He says that we have merely changed the vocabulary from "citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies with right of abode" to "British citizen". I consider that there is a real difference of spirit as well—citizenship is more than a technicality—and our new British citizenship expresses that.

That brings me to our new proposals regarding husbands and fiancés. As the House knows, we are enabling women British citizens to bring in their husbands or fiancés, subject to certain strict tests, but we are not enabling those merely settled here to bring in their spouses. We are also maintaining the safeguards introduced in the 1980 rules. As my hon. Friend the Member for Paddington (Mr. Wheeler) stressed in his excellent speech, it is simply not true that we are going back to the Labour Government's 1974 concession. Nor are we shedding all our measures to prevent the abuse of arranged marriages. When my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary introduced the White Paper on British nationality in July 1980, he said that if the nationality legislation were passed we should have to consider the implications for British women. That is what we are doing.

I believe that the approach that we have adopted in the White Paper and in the debate is not merely defensible but positively right. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen (Sir C. Fletcher-Cooke) was correct to say that the change is not the inevitable result of the British Nationality Act, but that it is a desirable result.

Mr. Marlow

My right hon. Friend suggests that the change flows directly and naturally from the British Nationality Act. As he knows, I was a member of the Standing Committee that considered that legislation day after day and night after night. Why did he not make it plain and clear to the Committee at that stage that this necessary event was to follow from the British Nationality Act? Why has he just brought it forward recently? We want to know.

Mr. Raison

My hon. Friend should have listened. I have just quoted with approval what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen said. This is not the inevitable result of the British Nationality Act, but it is a desirable result. I have also quoted my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who told the House that when that legislation was passed we should have to consider the position of women. Moreover, I made it clear in Committee that when the legislation was passed we should have to consider the rules that flowed from it. Therefore, I do not think that anyone can claim that this has come as a surprise out of the blue. Indeed, some of my hon. Friends have said that for quite some time there has been talk about the changes. We are not trying to take the House by surprise.

Let me explain why I believe that what we are doing is right. Essentially, having created for the first time a British citizenship, we believe that the women who hold it should be in the same position whether or not they were born here. If they are not citizens from birth, they will have made the conscious decisions that lead to their becoming British citizens. Usually they will have established their loyalty to this country and their intention to live here. They are our citizens. That is not true of those who are only settled here. They do not hold our citizenship so their commitment and their claim on us is not the same. It is reasonable that the anxieties about primary male immigration that led us to the changes in the 1980 rules should continue to apply in that case and that they should continue not to be able to bring in their spouses.

All the safeguards against marriage for the purpose of migration that were embodied in the 1980 rules remain in being. The parties must intend to live together as husband and wife. They must have met each other. The marriage must not have been entered into primarily to obtain admission to the United Kingdom. The marriage must not prove, after 12 months, to have been a temporary marriage of convenience. Naturally, those safeguards need careful application, but there is no doubt of their value and we have no intention of scrapping them.

Mr. John Carlisle

Will my right hon. Friend explain exactly how an officer of his Department will assess whether the intention of a prospective immigrant is honourable or otherwise?

Mr. Raison

I shall try to explain that on the basis of my experience as an itinerant Minister who has been to the Indian subcontinent. I have watched the process. Our entry clearance officers are skilled at their job. They hold lengthy discussions with applicants and can elicit their intentions from them. I do not deny for one minute that there can be some uncertainty. I am not trying to bluff or deceive the House, but I can genuinely say that the interviewers get to the truth of the matter. The tests are effective in their operation. Hon. Members who have had the opportunity to observe them at close hand will agree with me. The tests have existed for two years and are working well.

I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mrs. Rumbold), whose speech I was sorry to miss, that there are real safeguards against abuse by fiancés. They are allowed into Britain for three months only. During that time he or she must produce evidence that the marriage has taken place. If it has not, an extension of the visit will not usually be granted. The person will be here without leave and liable to deportation.

Settled women can acquire British citizenship. They must be resident here for five years and must satisfy all the relevant tests. The practice that has been described as Catch 22, under which a married woman cannot acquire citizenship, has now been changed. A wife will have to demonstrate that her long-term intention is to settle in Britain and if she meets the other tests she can qualify for citizenship. However, she will have to take that important step of acquiring our citizenship, and we shall be rigorous in applying the important tests.

Hon. Members have said that we are still not treating men and women in the same way for entry for marriage. I accept that, but we are moving nearer to parity. We must examine the facts. First, male immigration is the issue that concerns most people, and men are still more likely to be employed than women. Secondly, we must look at history, and specifically at the Immigration Act 1971, which entitled men settled in Britain to bring in their wives and under-age children.

We cannot amend that Act by the immigration rules. In any case, we have always accepted that this guarantee should apply to men settled here since then. That, in my opinion, is the humane decision. To apply that in reverse, as the Opposition demand, would impose strains that we would be wrong to take on. We have struck a balance, and I believe that we have struck the balance at the right point. We are not prepared to push up the rate of immigration in the way that the Opposition demand in their amendment and in their commitments outside today's debate.

I deal next with the important question of children who are born here and who do not qualify for citizenship by birth. As my right hon. Friend made clear, our broad aim is to align those children with their parents. They will not be left in limbo. Children going abroad for short trips will not be debarred from joining their parents on returning to this country. We shall do all that we can to clarify children's status where there is any doubt, and if there are special problems we shall deal with them humanely. We shall not continue the practice by which any child who happens to be born here, however slight his other links with this country, has a right to come and go for ever, and then confer our citizenship on his children wherever they live. Nor do we believe that such children should be immune from deportation, where the parents are deported.

The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) referred to a meeting that I had the other day with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and certain other bodies. He said that I listened carefully to what they said. I hope that I did, and I shall certainly consider the points that they put to me.

The hon. Member for Lambeth, Central (Mr. Tilley) asked: Why not grant children born here, who do not become British citizens, indefinite leave to remain? I have thought about that carefully. I understand the aim of making the rules simple where possible, but I am afraid that I am not persuaded by that suggestion. Most children who do not become citizens will have been born to people here as students or visitors. Their parents will take them with them when they leave. That is natural and desirable. Under that proposal, the child having been taken back by his parents to their country could then come back here alone, and with no one here to go to. Frankly, that does not seem sensible. A child should be kept in line with his parents, and in my view our principle is sounder than encouraging children to establish themselves separately from their parents.

The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook spoke about visitors. I reject his argument that we operate an unjust policy on visitors. We know, of course, that the entry of visitors poses problems. In fact, the most likely way of gaining a permanent foothold in this country for someone who does not have the right to do so is by coming in as a visitor and then overstaying. That is a fact. Our immigration officers have a difficult task in dealing with this problem, but they do so with great skill and care.

Of course some of the decisions can be argued, but, as the hon. Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr. Bidwell) implied, we take enormous care in considering the disputed decisions. I echo his tribute to my own staff, whatever anyone may think about me. The proportion refused entry is very small. For example, last year only six in 1,000 passengers from India were refused, and we give a national breakdown of the figures.

I want to say a quick word about the European Commission of Human Rights in Strasbourg, of which the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook spoke, as did my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve) in his interesting speech. Reference was made to the complaints now before the European Commission of Human Rights, and of course the Opposition referred to it. As the House knows, three cases have been ruled admissible.

The Commission has not reached any decision on the merits of the applications, but only on their admissibility. One case is about a woman who will shortly qualify to become a British citizen. The women in the other two cases are settled here, but are not British citizens. In each case the husband is a citizen of another country, and there is no obstacle to the couple living in that country.

Those proceedings are confidential and I cannot comment on them. However, the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook was wrong to say that a decision was made to change the rules when he was in Strasbourg in late May or early June. The fact that two of the cases are about settled women shows that they did not determine our decision to change the rules.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Solihull spoke about students who wish to live in this country. The problem is switching. We tried to meet that problem in our 1980 rules, and were right to do so. It is not a person's wish to stay that is relevant but his intention.

Dr. Keith Hampson (Ripon)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that a major worry for the public is how many males will be allowed in for marriage? Neither my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State nor my right hon. Friend the Minister of State has said what the numbers are expected to be. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the last time we debated this subject two years ago, of about 7,500 males allowed in on grounds of marriage, just over 3,000 came from the Indian subcontinent? Since some of those males obviously expected to join women born in Britain, does my right hon. Friend expect the new figure to be 3,000, or many fewer?

Mr. Raison

It is difficult to be precise, but when I gave evidence to the race relations Sub-Committee of the Home Affairs Committee two days ago I estimated that the number of applications annually might be 2,500. Not all those applications are expected to succeed. It is impossible to be more precise about the figure, but it gives an idea of the size. We are talking about an upper limit to the figure rather than the true number. We are discussing the subject against a background of substantially falling numbers of immigrants.

Many further points were raised which I cannot answer now. I shall try to write to hon. Members.

Our election manifesto declared that the rights of all British citizens should be equal before the law. In our rules changes on husbands and fiancés we take a significant step towards fulfilling that aim. Many British women citizens will say that we are right to change the rules, as my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Miss Fookes) said. Do my hon. Friends who have signed the amendment really believe that we can divide British women citizens into two classes?

We take our steps at a time of tight control of immigration. The Labour Party would relax that control substantially in ways that are nonsense and which we cannot accept. Coupled with their commitment to the immediate full use of the special quota to clear the queue of United Kingdom passport holders in India, the Opposition's desire to relax controls on immigration would unquestionably lead to a substantial increase.

Against that, our period of office has seen a significant fall in immigration, and we can see that for which we have always hoped—a reduction in the pressure that has accompanied immigration. The numbers and the queues are falling. Our changes will mean that some will enter Britain who would not otherwise do so, but the numbers are containable in the overall trend and the principle that lies behind the change for British citizens is fundamentally right. I stand by that. I ask the House to take note of our proposals and to reject the Opposition amendment.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 235, Noes 316.

Division No. 5] [10.00 pm
Abse, Leo Clarke, Thomas (C'b'dge, A'rie)
Adams, Allen Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S)
Alton, David Cohen, Stanley
Anderson, Donald Coleman, Donald
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.
Ashton, Joe Conlan, Bernard
Atkinson, N. (H'gey,) Cook, Robin F.
Bagier, Gordon A.T. Cowans, Harry
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Cox, T. (W'dsw'th, Toot'g)
Beith, A. J. Craigen, J. M. (G'gow, M'hill)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Crowther, Stan
Bennett, Andrew (St'kp't N) Cryer, Bob
Bidwell, Sydney Cunliffe, Lawrence
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n)
Bottomley, Rt Hon A. (M'b'ro) Davidson, Arthur
Bradley, Tom Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)
Brown, R. C. (N'castle W) Davis, Terry (B'ham, Stechf'd)
Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'y S) Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Dewar, Donald
Buchan, Norman Dixon, Donald
Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P) Dobson, Frank
Campbell, Ian Dormand, Jack
Campbell-Savours, Dale Douglas, Dick
Canavan, Dennis Dubs, Alfred
Cant, R. B. Duffy, A. E. P.
Carmichael, Neil Dunnett, Jack
Carter-Jones, Lewis Eadie, Alex
Cartwright, John Eastham, Ken
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n S E)
Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're) Maxton, John
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Maynard, Miss Joan
English, Michael Meacher, Michael
Ennals, Rt Hon David Mikardo, Ian
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Evans, John (Newton) Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Ewing, Harry Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)
Faulds, Andrew Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen)
Field, Frank Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Fitch, Alan Morris, Rt Hon C, (O'shaw)
Flannery, Martin Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Moyle, Rt Hon Roland
Ford, Ben Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Forrester, John Newens, Stanley
Foulkes, George Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd) O'Neill, Martin
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Freud, Clement Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Palmer, Arthur
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Park, George
George, Bruce Parker, John
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Parry, Robert
Ginsburg, David Pendry, Tom
Golding, John Penhaligon, David
Graham, Ted Pitt, William Henry
Grant, John (Islington C) Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife) Race, Reg
Hardy, Peter Radice, Giles
Harman, Harriet (Peckham) Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Richardson, Jo
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire) Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Home Robertson, John Robertson, George
Homewood, William Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Hooley, Frank Rooker, J. W.
Howell, Rt Hon D. Roper, John
Howells, Geraint Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Hoyle, Douglas Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Huckfield, Les Rowlands, Ted
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Ryman, John
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Sandelson, Neville
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Sever, John
Janner, Hon Greville Sheerman, Barry
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
John, Brynmor Short, Mrs Renée
Johnson, James (Hull West) Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)
Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Silverman, Julius
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Skinner, Dennis
Kerr, Russell Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark)
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Soley, Clive
Lambie, David Spearing, Nigel
Lamond, James Speller, John Francis (B'ham)
Leadbitter, Ted Spriggs, Leslie
Leighton, Ronald Steel, Rt Hon David
Lestor, Miss Joan Stoddart, David
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Stott, Roger
Litherland, Robert Strang, Gavin
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
McCartney, Hugh Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
McGuire, Michael (Ince) Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Tilley, John
Maclennan, Robert Tinn, James
McNally, Thomas Torney, Tom
McNamara, Kevin Urwin, Rt Hon Tom
McTaggart, Robert Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
McWilliam, John Wainwright, E. (Dearne V)
Magee, Bryan Wainwright, R. (Colne V)
Marks, Kenneth Walker, Rt Hon H. (D'caster)
Marshall, D (G'gow S'ton) Wardell, Gareth
Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Watkins, David
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Weetch, Ken
Martin, M (G'gow S'burn) Wellbeloved, James
Welsh, Michael Woodall, Alec
White, J. (G'gow Pollok) Woolmer, Kenneth
Whitehead, Phillip Wrigglesworth, Ian
Whitlock, William Wright, Sheila
Willey, Rt Hon Frederick Young, David (Bolton E)
Williams, Rt Hon A. (S'sea W)
Williams, Rt Hon Mrs (Crosby) Tellers for the Ayes:
Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E) Mr. Derek Foster and
Wilson, William (C'try SE) Mr. Frank Haynes.
Winnick, David
Adley, Robert Dover, Denshore
Aitken, Jonathan du Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Alexander, Richard Dunn, Robert (Dartford)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Durant, Tony
Ancram, Michael Dykes, Hugh
Arnold, Tom Eden, Rt Hon Sir John
Aspinwall, Jack Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (S'thorne) Eggar, Tim
Atkins, Robert (Preston N) Elliott, Sir William
Atkinson, David (B'm'th,E) Eyre, Reginald
Baker, Kenneth (St. M'bone) Fairbairn, Nicholas
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Fairgrieve, Sir Russell
Banks, Robert Faith, Mrs Sheila
Bendall, Vivian Farr, John
Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay) Fell, Sir Anthony
Benyon, Thomas (A'don) Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Finsberg, Geoffrey
Best, Keith Fisher, Sir Nigel
Bevan, David Gilroy Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Fookes, Miss Janet
Blackburn, John Forman, Nigel
Blaker, Peter Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Body, Richard Fox, Marcus
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fraser, Peter (South Angus)
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Fry, Peter
Bowden, Andrew Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)
Braine, Sir Bernard Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bright, Graham Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Brinton, Tim Glyn, Dr Alan
Brooke, Hon Peter Goodhart, Sir Philip
Brotherton, Michael Goodhew, Sir Victor
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'n) Goodlad, Alastair
Browne, John (Winchester) Gorst, John
Bruce-Gardyne, John Gow, Ian
Bryan, Sir Paul Gower, Sir Raymond
Buchanan-Smith, Rt. Hon. A. Gray, Hamish
Buck, Antony Grieve, Percy
Budgen, Nick Griffiths, E. (B'y St. Edm'ds)
Bulmer, Esmond Griffiths, Peter Portsm'th N)
Burden, Sir Frederick Grist, Ian
Butcher, John Grylls, Michael
Butler, Hon Adam Gummer, John Selwyn
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Hamilton, Hon A.
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n) Hampson, Dr Keith
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Hannam, John
Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul Haselhurst, Alan
Chapman, Sydney Hastings, Stephen
Churchill, W. S. Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Hawkins, Sir Paul
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hawksley, Warren
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hayhoe, Barney
Clegg, Sir Walter Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Cockeram, Eric Heddle, John
Colvin, Michael Henderson, Barry
Cope, John Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Cormack, Patrick Hicks, Robert
Corrie, John Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Costain, Sir Albert Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Cranborne, Viscount Holland, Philip (Carlton)
Critchley, Julian Hooson, Tom
Crouch, David Hordern, Peter
Dickens, Geoffrey Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Dorrell, Stephen Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'Idf'd)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Hunt, David (Wirral) Page, Richard (SW Herts)
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Parris, Matthew
Irvine, Rt Hon Bryant Godman Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Patten, John (Oxford)
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Pattie, Geoffrey
Jessel, Toby Pawsey, James
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Percival, Sir Ian
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Peyton, Rt Hon John
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Pink, R. Bonner
Kaberry, Sir Donald Porter, Barry
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Kimball, Sir Marcus Price, Sir David (Eastleigh)
King, Rt Hon Tom Prior, Rt Hon James
Kitson, Sir Timothy Proctor, K. Harvey
Knight, Mrs Jill Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Knox, David Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Lamont, Norman Rathbone, Tim
Lang, Ian Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)
Latham, Michael Renton, Tim
Lawrence, Ivan Rhodes James, Robert
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Lee, John Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Le Marchant, Spencer Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Rifkind, Malcolm
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo) Rossi, Hugh
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Rost, Peter
Loveridge, John Royle, Sir Anthony
Luce, Richard Rumbold, Mrs A. C. R.
Lyell, Nicholas Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
McCrindle, Robert St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
Macfarlane, Neil Scott, Nicholas
MacGregor, John Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
MacKay, John (Argyll) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Macmillan, Rt Hon M. Shelton, William (Streatham)
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Shepherd, Richard
McQuarrie, Albert Shersby, Michael
Madel, David Silvester, Fred
Major, John Sims, Roger
Marland, Paul Skeet, T. H. H.
Marlow, Antony Smith, Dudley
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Marten, Rt Hon Neil Speed, Keith
Mates, Michael Speller, Tony
Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus Spence, John
Mawby, Ray Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Sproat, Iain
Mayhew, Patrick Squire, Robin
Mellor, David Stainton, Keith
Meyer, Sir Anthony Stanbrook, Ivor
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Stanley, John
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Steen, Anthony
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon) Stevens, Martin
Miscampbell, Norman Stewart, A. (E Renfrewshire)
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Moate, Roger Stokes, John
Monro, Sir Hector Stradling Thomas, J.
Montgomery, Fergus Tapsell, Peter
Moore, John Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Morris, M. (N'hampton S) Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Temple-Morris, Peter
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Mudd, David Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Murphy, Christopher Thompson, Donald
Myles, David Thornton, Malcolm
Neale, Gerrard Townend, John (Bridlington)
Needham, Richard Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)
Nelson, Anthony Trippier, David
Neubert, Michael Trotter, Neville
Newton, Tony van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Normanton, Tom Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Nott, Rt Hon John Viggers, Peter
Onslow, Cranley Waddington, David
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S. Wakeham, John
Osborn, John Waldegrave, Hon William
Page, John (Harrow, West) Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Walker, B. (Perth) Whitney, Raymond
Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D. Wickenden, Keith
Wall, Sir Patrick Wiggin, Jerry
Waller, Gary Wilkinson, John
Walters, Dennis Winterton, Nicholas
Ward, John Wolfson, Mark
Warren, Kenneth Young, Sir George (Acton)
Watson, John Younger, Rt Hon George
Wells, Bowen
Wells, John (Maidstone) Tellers for the Noes:
Wheeler, John Mr. Carol Mather and
Whitelaw, Rt Hon William Mr. Anthony Berry.

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 264, Noes 4.

Division No. 6] [10.15 pm
Adley, Robert Fairbairn, Nicholas
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Fairgrieve, Sir Russell
Ancram, Michael Faith, Mrs Sheila
Arnold, Tom Fell, Sir Anthony
Aspinwall, Jack Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (S'thorne) Finsberg, Geoffrey
Atkins, Robert (Preston N) Fisher, Sir Nigel
Atkinson, David (B'm'th,E) Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N)
Baker, Kenneth (St. M'bone) Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Fookes, Miss Janet
Banks, Robert Forman, Nigel
Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay) Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Benyon, Thomas (A'don) Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Fraser, Peter (South Angus)
Best, Keith Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Garel-Jones, Tristan
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Blackburn, John Glyn, Dr Alan
Blaker, Peter Goodhew, Sir Victor
Boscawen, Hon Robert Goodlad, Alastair
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Gow, Ian
Bowden, Andrew Gower, Sir Raymond
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Gray, Hamish
Braine, Sir Bernard Grieve, Percy
Bright, Graham Griffiths, E. (B'y St. Edm'ds)
Brooke, Hon Peter Griffiths, Peter Portsm'th N)
Bruce-Gardyne, John Grist, Ian
Bryan, Sir Paul Grylls, Michael
Buchanan-Smith, Rt. Hon. A. Gummer, John Selwyn
Buck, Antony Hamilton, Hon A.
Bulmer, Esmond Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Butcher, John Hampson, Dr Keith
Butler, Hon Adam Haselhurst, Alan
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hastings, Stephen
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n) Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Hayhoe, Barney
Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Chapman, Sydney Heddle, John
Churchill, W. S. Henderson, Barry
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Clegg, Sir Walter Hicks, Robert
Cockeram, Eric Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Colvin, Michael Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Cope, John Holland, Philip (Carlton)
Cormack, Patrick Hooson, Tom
Corrie, John Hordern, Peter
Costain, Sir Albert Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Cranborne, Viscount Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd)
Critchley, Julian Hunt, David (Wirral)
Crouch, David Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Dorrell, Stephen Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Irvine, Rt Hon Bryant Godman
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Durant, Tony Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Dykes, Hugh Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Kaberry, Sir Donald
Eggar, Tim Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Elliott, Sir William Kimball, Sir Marcus
Eyre, Reginald King, Rt Hon Tom
Kitson, Sir Timothy Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Knox, David Rathbone, Tim
Lamont, Norman Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)
Lang, Ian Renton, Tim
Latham, Michael Rhodes James, Robert
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Lee, John Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Le Marchant, Spencer Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Rifkind, Malcolm
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo) Rossi, Hugh
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Royle, Sir Anthony
Loveridge, John Rumbold, Mrs A. C. R.
Luce, Richard Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Lyell, Nicholas St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
McCrindle, Robert Scott, Nicholas
Macfarlane, Neil Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
MacGregor, John Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
MacKay, John (Argyll) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Macmillan, Rt Hon M. Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Shersby, Michael
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Silvester, Fred
McQuarrie, Albert Sims, Roger
Madel, David Skeet, T. H. H.
Major, John Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Marland, Paul Spence, John
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Marten, Rt Hon Neil Sproat, Iain
Mates, Michael Squire, Robin
Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus Stanley, John
Mawby, Ray Stevens, Martin
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Stewart, A. (E Renfrewshire)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Mayhew, Patrick Stradling Thomas, J.
Mellor, David Tapsell, Peter
Meyer, Sir Anthony Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Temple-Morris, Peter
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon) Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Miscampbell, Norman Thompson, Donald
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Thornton, Malcolm
Monro, Sir Hector Townend, John (Bridlington)
Moore, John Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)
Morris, M. (N'hampton S) Trippier, David
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Trotter, Neville
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Myles, David Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Neale, Gerrard Viggers, Peter
Needham, Richard Waddington, David
Nelson, Anthony Wakeham, John
Neubert, Michael Waldegrave, Hon William
Newton, Tony Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Nott, Rt Hon John Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.
Onslow, Cranley Waller, Gary
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S. Walters, Dennis
Osborn, John Warren, Kenneth
Page, John (Harrow, West) Watson, John
Page, Richard (SW Herts) Wells, Bowen
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Wells, John (Maidstone)
Parris, Matthew Wheeler, John
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Patten, John (Oxford) Whitney, Raymond
Pattie, Geoffrey Wickenden, Keith
Pawsey, James Wiggin, Jerry
Percival, Sir Ian Wilkinson, John
Peyton, Rt Hon John Wolfson, Mark
Pink, R. Bonner Young, Sir George (Acton)
Porter, Barry Younger, Rt Hon George
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Price, Sir David (Eastleigh) Tellers for the Ayes:
Prior, Rt Hon James Mr. Carol Mather and
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Mr. Anthony Berry.
Campbell, Ian
Powell, Rt Hon J.E. (S Down) Tellers for the Noes:
Urwin, Rt Hon Tom Mr. Den Dover and
White, J. (G'gow Pollok) Mr. K. Harvey Proctor.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That this House takes note of the Proposals for revision of the Immigration Rules, Cmnd. 8683.

Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In the light of the two votes and the calculation of the figures which hon. Members can do for themselves, can the Home Secretary tell the House, since these matters are of direct relevance to the welfare of people in Britain, whether he intends to proceed with the whole White Paper package when clearly it does not have the support of the House?

Mr. Whitelaw

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I made it clear at the start that I should listen to the views, hear what the House and the other place had to say, and consider what rules to bring before the House. The right hon. Gentleman knows that I made that clear. If he does not understand it, he is even more stupid than I thought he was. [Interruption.]

Mr. Hattersley


Mr. Speaker

Order. I shall allow the last part of the point of order and then we shall move on.

Mr. Hattersley

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I aspire to achieve a level of understanding with the Home Secretary. Is he telling the House, and did he tell the House at the beginning of the debate, that there is a prospect that the White Paper proposals will not be put to the House for ratification?

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)


Mr. Speaker

Order. I shall call the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick), but as a rule we allow the Front Bench two bites of the cherry and then move on. That is the understanding. If the hon. Member has a real point of order and he is satisfied that it is a point of order, I shall hear him.

Mr. Winnick

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I distinctly heard the shout of "No" from many Government Back Benchers. Is it not clear that hon. Members who shout "No" have a duty to vote accordingly? It is unfortunate that they did not have the guts to carry their rebellion into the Division Lobby.

Mr. Speaker

Hon. Members are not bound to vote.