§ 5.6 pm
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Leon Brittan)
I beg to move,That this House approves the Statement of Changes in the Immigration Rules (House of Commons Paper No. 503).
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)
I have to announce that Mr. Speaker has selected the amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition.
§ Mr. Brittan
The statement of changes in immigration rules that we are debating amends the current immigration rules in the light of the recent judgment of the European Court of Human Rights. The new rules make limited amendments to the current rules. They are not a comprehensive revision of the rules as a whole. They are essentially confined to putting the provisions under which husbands and wives are allowed permanent residence here on the basis of marriage on a common footing.
The current immigration rules reflect the commitment of this Government to apply a tight immigration control, a control to be exercised firmly and fairly. That is a policy for which I make no apology. It is based on a recognition of the strain that the admission of a substantial number of immigrants can place on existing resources and services in this country. We have therefore reduced fresh primary immigration to a minimum.
The figures speak for themselves. Last year, 51,000 people were accepted for settlement. That is the lowest figure since control of Commonwealth immigration began in 1962. It is nearly 19,000 below the figure in 1979. For the Indian subcontinent, the main area from which immigration now comes, the figures are a drop from 25,000 in 1979 to 15,000 last year.
At the same time, we have always maintained the policy of admitting the dependants of those granted permanent residence here. In the last 10 years, about a third of a million wives and children have been admitted. These people were dependants coming to join people who had come here earlier to take work. It was right to allow these dependants to come here. Successive Governments have continued this line.
The rules have always contained some differences in treatment between men and women where such distinctions were considered justifiable. None the less, the Government have recognised that in many areas it was right to work towards a more even-handed approach in the primary legislation. Thus, the British Nationality Act 1981, for the first time, subject to some transitional provisions to preserve the rights of women to registration, placed the sexes on an equal footing in respect of their acquisition of citizenship.
§ Mr. Dave Nellist (Coventry, South-East)
Can the Home Secretary confirm that about 17,800 spouses and children are waiting in the Indian subcontinent for clearance to come here to settle? Does he agree that, even if all of them were let in tomorrow morning, they would represent less than 3 per cent. of the British birth rate and still leave a net migration from Britain? In 18 out of the last 20 years more people have left the country than have come in. The Home Secretary gives credence to the idea that people are swamping the country when really the numbers are small. Wives and children want to be reunited. We are talking about family reunification.
§ Mr. Brittan
My figures are accurate. Allowing everyone to come in instantly would cause considerable pressure on city centres.
It is against that background that it is necessary to consider the recent cases which were brought before the European Court. Those cases challenged the distinction in the rules between the rights of settled men and settled women to be joined by their spouses. Under the current rules, a wife may as of right join a husband who is settled here, but is not a British citizen, while husbands may only join settled wives who are British citizens. That distinction reflected the Government's concern to protect the domestic labour market, an objective which in itself the court quite specifically endorsed.
Moreover, the court also upheld the Government on several other important points. It found that there was no breach of the convention on the ground of discrimination by birth or race. It held that in these cases there was no violation of the right to respect for family life as such, nor indeed had there been any inhuman or degrading treatment.
§ Mr. Nicholas Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)
Under the convention Britain could, in January next year, give notice that it intends to withdraw from the convention. I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will deal with the wider issue of whether Britain should remain within the convention or come out. A number of early-day motions have been tabled in which many colleagues suggest that we should come out. This might be the appropriate moment to deal with the wider issues.
§ Mr. Brittan
I know that some of my hon. Friends take that view, but others believe that, for all its faults, the convention and the institutions associated with it play an important part in the protection of human rights in this country. More than one view is held on the subject.
I do not propose an extended discussion on the subject because, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) said, the question of the extension of the right of petition does not fall to be decided now. We are parties to the convention and to the right of individual petition. We are therefore duty bound to make the changes required to comply with the convention as interpreted by the court.
In the context of cases before it, the court said that the advancement of equality of the sexes is today a major goal in the member states of the Council of Europe. According to the court, therefore, very weighty reasons would have to be advanced before a difference of treatment on the ground of sex could be regarded as compatible with the convention. The court did not hold that the goal of sexual equality must always be paramount, but it found that the Government's arguments for treating wives more favourably than husbands in this case did not provide sufficient justification for this distinction in treatment. Thus, while the court accepted the aim of the rules in restricting primary immigration, the effect of its judgment is to require a change removing the differences in the rules between the admission of husbands and wives of those permanently resident here.
§ Mr. Alex Carlile (Montgomery)
The European Court cases arose directly from the right of British citizens to petition the European Commission individually. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman now please answer the question put to him by the hon. Member for 895 Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen), who has a different view from mine? After 14 January 1986 will it be possible to petition individually? What is the Government's answer? I ask the Home Secretary not to dodge the question.
§ Mr. Brittan
I am merely informing the House that the Government will announce a decision, but that they are not read to do that today. They will announce the decision in good time.
§ Mr. Brittan
It is not. We are parties to the convention and to the right of individual petition. We are duty bound to give effect to the Court's interpretation of the convention. The rules give effect to that. I am not able to announce whether there should be a change of policy depriving individuals of the right to individual petition. [AN HON. MEMBER: "We are about to go into recess."] I can assure the House that any such change will be announced when hon. Members are present. There is no difficulty.
We are giving effect to the convention as interpreted. It would not be compatible with the court decision to continue to frame the provisions relating to settlement through marriage in the immigration rules on the basis that men were regarded as heads of households and wives as dependants. The essential choice that had to be made, therefore, was whether to provide that from now on wives could join their husbands here only if their husbands were British citizens, and not merely settled here; or whether to allow husbands to join wives here, even if the wives were only settled here, and not British citizens. In other words, we had to choose between narrowing the basic rule to which the admission of wives is subject, or widening the rule applying to the admission of husbands.
Narrowing the basic rule applying to the admission of wives would have raised formidable difficulties. In the Government's view, they are overwhelming. Successive Governments have been committed to allowing those who have settled here to bring in their wives and dependent children. That right has not been confined to the wives of men who were British citizens. It has been enjoyed by men who are lawfully settled here, even if they are not British citizens. The pattern of immigration was for men to come here in advance of their families and establish themselves. To remove the expectation that they have had that they can apply to bring in their wives in due course would not in our view have been justified.
Individuals settle here from all parts of the world. Many make a significant contribution to this country in a wide variety of ways. They expect, when allowed to settle here, that they can have their families with them. If they were not allowed to bring in their wives, the consequences would be substantial. They would have the dilemma of having to seek British citizenship or of their wives not being allowed to take up residence with them.
We do not, therefore, believe that it would have been right to prevent wives from joining men who have been allowed to settle here. Consequently, we have chosen the alternative basic option that was open to us—permitting husbands to join wives who are settled here, even if they are not British citizens. As a result, therefore, of the court's judgment and of this change taken by itself, we expect that the numbers accepted for settlement each year 896 are likely to rise by about 2,000 a year. However, this increase will, at least to some extent, be offset by the changes, which I shall come to in a moment, concerning the admission of wives and families.
The immigration rules must of course be framed in accordance with the Immigration Act. Section 1(5) of the Act preserved certain entitlements which Commonwealth immigrants and their wives and dependent children had when the 1971 Act was passed.
§ Mr. Budgen
My right hon. and learned Friend is dealing with the constraints of the law. Is he absolutely satisfied that if individuals petition the European Court of Human Rights against the new rules, there will not be further succesful litigation and the need once again for the House to conform to foreign supervision?
§ Mr. Brittan
My hon. Friend, as a fellow lawyer, will know perfectly well that it would be a foolish person who would give a guarantee of the kind for which he asks. However, I assure my hon. Friend that it is our view that these rules comply with the convention.
The immigration rules must be framed in accordance with the Immigration Act. Section 1(5) preserves certain entitlements that Commonwealth immigrants, their wives and dependent children had when the 1971 Act was passed. Reflecting the principles on which immigration and nationality legislation before 1971 were founded, the protection provided by section 1(5) distinguishes between the sexes in the benefits it accords. This is inevitably reflected in the immigration rules changes. The saving is confined to Commonwealth citizens settled on 1 January 1973 and their dependents. This is designed to be transitional in character and effect, but the framing of the 1971 Act provision is indeed sexually discriminatory. The Government intend, as part of their response to the European Court judgment, to introduce legislation in due course to put an end to the sexually discriminatory features of this provision in a way that preserves the Government's commitment to firm immigration control.
Allowing husbands to join resident women would meet the finding of violation in the European Court judgment, but to make that change alone would have left other important differences of treatment between husbands and wives seeking settlement on the basis of marriage. So far as the European convention is concerned, these other differences in the provisions would have been open to challenge, although they were not directly at issue in the cases before the European Court. It was therefore necessary to take a second fundamental decision — whether to abandon the tests which applied to the admission of husbands and which had hitherto not applied to wives, or to extend these tests to wives.
The 1980 rules strengthened the tests which our predecessors had reintroduced on the admission of husbands. The current requirements are three: the parties to a marriage must have met; each must have the intention of living permanently with his or her spouse; and, particularly important, the rules require that the marriage was not entered into primarily to obtain admission to this country—the so-called primary purpose test.
§ Mr. Nellist
With regard to the changes that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is introducing, and the three criteria, do the Government intend to alter the burden of proof for the primary purpose rule? At the moment, a person entering the country has to prove a negative— 897 that the reason for entering the country is not the reason for the marriage. Does the Home Secretary intend to put the burden of proof on the entry clearance officer to prove that the marriage is bogus, rather than on the couple?
§ Ms. Clare Short (Birmingham, Ladywood)
I am not sure that I heard the right hon. and learned Gentleman properly, but if I did, he said something significant. Did he say that he intends to introduce legislation to amend the 1971 Act? Is he calling into question section 1(5) and the rights that have been secured ever since Reginald Maudling gave the assurance to men who came to settle here that they would have the right to bring their families? Did the right hon. and learned Gentleman say that he would amend those provisions?
§ Mr. Brittan
I said that, as part of our response to the European Court judgment, it was our intention to introduce legislation in due course to put an end to the sexually discriminatory features of the provisions to which the hon. Lady referred. In answer to the hon. Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist), I point out that he should appreciate that there are a variety of ways in which that can be done, and I am not in a position to announce that at the moment.
§ Mr. Brittan
No, I shall not give way to my hon. Friend.
The provision is sexually discriminatory, as is illustrated by the fact that in making these changes to the rules, we have had to make a saving for those people covered by this subsection of the Act. If the Act did not require us to make such a saving, it would not be sexually discriminatory.
§ Mr. Brittan
The saving is the provision—the hon. Gentleman will appreciate this if he studies the rules, as I am sure that he will wish to do — whereby the marriage tests that are to be applied in future to women as well as to men do not apply to those who seek and obtain admission as a result of entitlement produced by section 1(5).
Provided the requirements of the primary purpose test are met, a husband is admitted initially for 12 months. He is allowed to take up permanent residence if the marriage still subsists after that period and the parties still intend to live permanently with each other. Like the provisions they strengthened, these requirements apply only to the provisions relating to the admission of husbands. Under the current rules, they do not apply to wives. In terms of past immigration policy, the reason is evident. Successive Governments have been concerned to ensure that men cannot use marriage as a way of getting round the control on immigration for employment. We have not thought it necessary to adopt a similar approach to the admission of wives. They have hitherto been regarded as dependants.
To drop the tests currently applied to the admission of husbands would be to go back on our firm commitment to strict immigration control. We cannot have tight control over the admission of men for employment without having 898 rules which prevent marriage being used to circumvent that control. There is nothing in the European Court judgment which calls in question the requirements which husbands must satisfy. On the contrary, the legitimacy of their objective was specifically endorsed by the court. We cannot expect the European Court to endorse, in the light of the judgment, the continuation of giving wives preferential treatment by not making them subject to the same requirements.
Accordingly, it is entirely reseasonable that, if we are to comply with the principle of the judgment while maintaining strict immigration control, we should admit husbands of women who are settled here, but not British citizens, but should retain the marriage tests applying to the admission of husbands, and extend them to apply on the same basis to the admission of wives. This is what the new rules do. The tests are perfectly proper requirements for people seeking admission on the basis of marriage. The existing rules applying to the admission of husbands are legitimate. They will be equally legitimate when applied to the admission of wives. The rules are directed at establishing that the marriage through which a man is claiming the right to settle in this country is not one which has been entered into with the primary aim of securing admission. It would not be right to allow firm immigration control to be circumvented by the use of marriage. That is what the rules are directed towards. It is an objective which, on grounds of non-discrimination, has to be applied to the admission of wives.
§ Mr. Alex Carlile
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman honestly believe that leaving the burden of proof under the primary purpose rule upon the applicant accords with article 8(1) of the European convention on human rights, which provides that everyone has the right to respect for his family life?
§ Mr. Brittan
If the hon. and learned Gentleman had read the judgment of the court, he would be aware that no finding of the court challenges the purpose of the primary purpose test. The hon. and learned Gentleman has no basis for stressing such indignation.
§ Mr. Brittan
I shall give way to the new face—the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan).
§ Mr. Maclennan
The Home Secretary is right that the point about article 8 was not faced squarely in the court, as it was not an issue before the court. However, is it not also the case that the whole issue of sexual equality had not been before the court until this case, which demonstrated that the Government rules were in breach of the convention? By a similar argument, if a case is taken in the future on article 8, the Government's rules are wide open to be struck down again. Therefore, what the Government are doing will be in vain. Why do the Government always wait and then have to be dragged through the courts repeatedly on all these issues before they admit that what they are doing is contrary to the convention?
§ Mr. Brittan
The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) is entitled to his view and to his interpretation of the convention, but it should be a 899 salutary reminder to him, and perhaps an indication of the need for some restraint that in the cases that went before the court those who took the hon. Gentleman's view confidently stated that what the Government were doing under the provision about which complaint was made amounted to racial discrimination, or to discrimination on grounds of birth that there had been violation of respect for family life and that there had been inhuman or degrading treatment. Those who make confident predictions about what the court may do on a future occasion should take into account the fact that on all those grounds the court did not find that the Government were in breach. It found only that the Government were in breach in the case of sexual discrimination.
§ Mr. Brittan
No; I should like to make progress.
I shall now deal now with maintenance and accommodation. The current rules make the admission of wives subject to provision for maintenance and accommodation. This is a requirement which the husband must satisfy. It is in no sense a novel provision. He must show that he can maintain and accommodate his wife as his dependant. The admission of husbands is subject to no such requirement. It accordingly also became necessary to decide how to deal with the sex discrimination which arises from this distinction.
The principle that someone claiming admission to this country should be allowed to do so only if he or she will not become a burden on public funds is an entirely proper one. It would not be right to relax this requirement, but extending it to the admission of husbands puts the issue in a new context. Introducing formal equality would not be realistic. It would hardly be fair or sensible to require a wife whose husband is joining her to show that she can maintain and accommodate her husband.
Accordingly, the new rules introduce a new and more realistic approach by which the admission of either a husband or wife will be subject to the requirement that there shall be adequate provision for maintenance and accommodation for the couple jointly. It will mean that, for example, when a husband applies for entry clearance to join his wife, he will have to satisfy the entry clearance officer that he and his wife will be able to support themselves and will be able to house themselves. This will, of course, be a question of the means the couple already have at their disposal, including any from the wife's employment. Equally important, it will involve considering the arrangements the husband has made, or intends, when he joins his wife. That will be a question of assessing future intentions.
If the man has not already made employment arrangements, are his expectations realistic, given his experience and qualifications and his connections in this country? Likewise with accommodation: it will not be a question solely of what accommodation the wife already has. Obviously, she may well still be living with her parents. The question will be whether the couple have made adequate arrangements; and, if not, whether they have realistic intentions.
The new rules apply similar non-discriminatory provisions to male and female fiancées. This does not follow directly from the European Court judgment, but it would not be sensible in practice or appropriate in 900 principle to have requirements relating to the admission of husbands and wives which did not apply to male and female fiancées. As a further consequence, female fiancées will in future need to obtain entry clearance before coming to this country for marriage. Otherwise, they would be put in the impossible position of having to satisfy the requirements of the rules at the port of entry.
§ Mr. Sydney Bidwell (Ealing South)
The Home Secretary knows that I am involved with these matters on a daily basis. Entry certificates will now be required for female fiancées. They have been required for a very long time for male fiancés. It can take two years or more to process these cases. All the arguments regarding the admission of male fiancés will now apply to the admission of female fiancées. Is it the Home Secretary's intention drastically to increase the staff who will have to cope with these cases in Delhi, Jullundur, Sylhet, Dacca, Gujerat and Bombay? He may recall that many years ago I was a member of the Select Committee that recommended equality of treatment for the admission of male fiancés and female fiancées, but to cope with their admission we knew that practical changes had to be made on the Indian subcontinent.
§ Mr. Brittan
The House knows and respects the hon. Gentleman's long-standing interest in these matters. The change to which he has just referred will impose an extra burden upon those who have to administer the controls. We shall do our best to ensure that it does not create an unacceptable burden, thereby causing further delay.
The new rules include other related changes, but we have confined the changes almost entirely to those necessary to give effect to the European Court judgment, except for the provisions necessary to take account of the entry of Spain and Portugal into the European Community on 1 January next year.
The judgment of the European Court has made necessary some important and difficult choices both for the immigration control as such and for the country generally. In relation to immigration, choices have to be made not only about individual cases but about policies. The Labour party, when in government, seemed to recognise that. I am not sure that it does now. If I have got it right, it would let in as many people as it could, without the benefit of tests protecting the labour market. That may be a policy to encourage immigration, but it is not one which the people of this country will accept.
We, on the other hand, have faced up to the need to take difficult decisions. We came to office committed to take a firm grip of immigration. We have done so. Primary immigration has fallen. It is against that background that our balanced response to the European Court judgment is justified both in policy and effect. The new rules as a whole will fully uphold the firm policy to which we are committed. Accordingly, I commend them to the House.
§ Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton)
I beg to move, as an amendment to the motion, leave out `approves' and insert 'disapproves.'.
It is eight weeks since the European court delivered a judgment declaring that on two counts the United Kingdom was in breach of the European convention on human rights. The court found that the convention had been violated on the ground of sexual discrimination, in 901 that it was easier for a man settled in the United Kingdom than for a woman so settled to obtain permission for a non-national spouse to enter or remain in this country. Secondly, it found that article 13 of the convention had been violated because there was no effective remedy in English law for the first violation.
When Parliament reconvened the following week after the spring bank holiday recess, the Opposition pressed for a Government statement on the European Court judgment, but none was forthcoming. However, the Home Secretary promised an announcement. That was made on 10 July, six weeks after the judgment. The Government had presumably taken their time in formulating their response in order to ensure that that response met the requirements of the judgment in every particular. However, the announcement was made not in an open statement on the Floor of the House but furtively, in a written answer to a planted question. We made a complaint about that, on the grounds that the House should have had the right to question the Home Secretary. That complaint was not simply about a procedural lapse. It was because we had relevant questions to put to the Home Secretary which required detailed answers before the House could sensibly debate the changes in the rules.
I, with others, have attempted to obtain some of those answers by means of written questions, but even after the Home Secretary's speech today—or especially after his speech today—many important questions have still not been answered. The situation is now more obscure, and in many ways more absurd, than it ever has been.
First, there is the crucial matter of the right of individual petition to the European Commission, a matter that has already been raised on both sides of the House. It was recourse to that right which led to the judgment whose consequences we are debating today. All the countries which subscribe to the convention allow such a right of petition but, as has been pointed out, its continuance depends upon maintenance of ratification of article 25 of the convention.
For the United Kingdom ratification is next due in January next year, and the Home Secretary has dodged the questions put by hon. Members about that matter. Therefore, I ask either the Home Secretary now, or the Minister of State when he winds up, to say clearly that the United Kingdom will once again ratify—as both Labour and Conservative Governments have on six occasions in the past 19 years — so that the right of individual petition is maintained.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (South Down)
Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that that is a decision which should be the result of a debate and, if necessary, a vote in this House?
§ Mr. Kaufman
I am perfectly happy for the House to debate that matter and I think it perfectly proper for the House to vote on it, but in the end it is the responsibility of the Government to decide whether they wish to re-ratify. If the Government decide to re-ratify, it is the business of the Government to ensure that there is a majority in the House for re-ratification.
§ Mr. Alex Carlile
Will the right hon. Gentleman, with his welcome enthusiasm for re-ratification, explain to us why in 1976 a Labour Government re-ratified for only five 902 years, on the basis that the experimental period should still run? Will he now tell us that a Labour Government would ratify the European convention without limitation of time and not just on an experimental basis?
§ Mr. Kaufman
I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman can do better than that, because the five-year re-ratification is the longest that there has been. The other periods were three years and—the last time that this Government did it—two years. My own view is that we should ratify on a permanent basis. If the hon. and learned — he can deny it if he likes — Gentleman is now satisfied, I am happy for him.
I was saying that we heard nothing from the Home Secretary this afternoon about what the Government are doing to rectify the United Kingdom's violation of article 13 of the convention by failing to provide an effective remedy in English law against violations of the convention. I am amazed that the Home Secretary should not even have referred to that matter, as it was labelled a violation in the judgment of the court that presumably we all have with us this afternoon. Will the Government provide the remedy without which the European Court says that the British Government are violating the convention? If not, they will remain in direct violation of a judgment of the court.
§ Mr. Kaufman
Not at the moment. I have given way to the hon. Gentleman's hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile), so the alliance has had a fair proportion of the interventions.
The European Court judgments were made in response to the three women who went to the court and in whose favour the court found, but we have heard nothing from the Government about all the other women who, between 1979 and 1985, have been victims of the violations of the convention that were condemned by the European Court. I say 1979 because, although the rules complained of were made in 1980, the Government wrongfully began operating them in November 1979. I say 1985 because, although the 1980 rules were superseded in 1983, the Government have acknowledged, by the substantial amendments to them contained in the document that we are debating today, that the 1983 rules are equally sexually discriminatory. Those 1983 rules are still operative today, in 1985.
Most significantly of all, the Government have at last admitted that the primary purpose rule is sexually discriminatory. That confession is implicit in the Government's purported extension of the primary purpose rule from 26 August to wives and female fiancées as well as to husbands and male fiancés. By doing that, they have admitted that every refusal to a male partner of a woman in the United Kingdom between 1979 and 1985 on primary purpose grounds has been a violation of the convention, just as they implicitly admit, by their changes in the rules to include at any rate token eligibility to the male partners of women who are settled in the United Kingdom but not British citizens, that all refusals to such women here have been violations of the convention. Yet we have not had a word from the Home Secretary to say what the Government intend to do to remedy those injustices for the women concerned, whose precise number is not known but who may number between 3,000 and 4,000.
903 The changes in the rules provide a theoretical improvement for women who are settled here but not British citizens, if their male partners have been subject to refusal, but such an improvement, however illusory, lies only in the future. Again, the Government provide no remedy whatever to those who have been refused on grounds of primary purpose, since the primary purpose rule remains and the survival of that rule will probably negate in most cases the newly conferred theoretical right of settled women who are not British citizens.
§ Mr. Kaufman
If the hon. Gentleman catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, he will be able to make his own speech. Meanwhile, I wish to proceed.
I say very clearly to the Government that unless, before the end of the debate, they promise a review of all refusals of husbands and male fiancés between November 1979 and August 1985, my advice to the women concerned will be to follow the example of Mrs. Abdulaziz, Mrs. Cabales and Mrs. Balkandali, and take their cases to the European Court. They will have a good chance of winning, and the costs awarded against the United Kingdom Government by the court will, equally undoubtedly, amount to several million pounds. So it is up to the Government: either they risk suffering further massive expense and humiliation or they go against their instincts and give long-delayed justice to the women concerned.
If undoubted injustice has been permitted against women and their male partners by the Government for the past six years, can we at any rate look forward to the ending of such injustice as a result of the tabling of the rules? I have to say that the answer to that question is no.
When, on 28 May, the European Court ruled that it was sexual discrimination for a man to be able more easily than woman to bring his marriage partner to settle in the United Kingdom, the obvious remedy was to make it as easy for a woman to do so as a man. What is more, it would not have been an onerous decision. The numbers involved — though each involving individual hardship and heartbreak — amount only to a handful of thousands spread over a six-year period. But the Government, instead of taking the logical and decent course, decided to take the spiteful and vindictive course by resolving to make it as difficult for a man to bring his marriage partner into the United Kingdom in the future as it has been for a woman in the past.
What is more, the Home Secretary has taken the opportunity to make conditions for many applicants more onerous than they have ever been, in ways that could not have been prophesied even by those cynical, or realistic, enough to expect the very worst from this Government.
In the existing immigration laws, certain conditions have been laid down for would-be entrants and their sponsors with regard to reliance on maintenance on public funds. The current rules, for example, lay down that a male fiancé must not have recourse to public funds prior to his marriage; that a female fiancée must be maintained without recourse to public funds both before and after marriage; and that wives and other dependants must be 904 maintained without recourse to public funds. The new rules extend that requirement to husbands and to male fiancés after marriage.
It certainly does not seem to be an unfair condition that people emigrating to the United Kingdom, or those whom they join here, shall not be so indigent or feckless that they become unacceptable burdens on taxpayers already resident here. However, what sounds fair in principle—and what the Home Secretary described this afternoon as realistic—becomes unacceptable in practice, because the new rules define for the first time exactly what "public funds" means. The Government's definition is very wide indeed. It includes family income supplement — [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] — which a Conservative Government introduced as a standard benefit and which is paid to 199,000 recipients.
§ Mr. Nellist
My right hon. Friend may not have heard the interjections from the Tory Benches when he mentioned family income supplement. Tory Members were asking, "Why not?" Will my right hon. Friend take up the point that, on the strict application of the immigration rules, only rich people could come into this country? Anyone who had one of the jobs held by the 9 million people in this country who have to rely on some sort of assistance because their wages are below £100 a week would be caught. In other words, it comes down again to the class question of rich and poor.
§ Mr. Kaufman
That is true. It also comes down to a race question. One reason why I shall vote for the televising of the House is so that people can see the ugly racialism that bubbles up on the Tory Benches when we debate matters of this kind.
Under the definition in the document, recourse to public funds includes supplementary benefit, which, far from being paid to a minority of scroungers and ne'er-do-wells, is received by no fewer than 4.6 million recipients. People becoming unemployed through no fault of their own will be prevented under the rules from bringing their wives or husbands into this country if their circumstances attract supplementary benefit.
The most grotesque example of public funds whose receipt will exclude male or female spouses from entering this country is housing benefit. When the House debated housing benefit four weeks ago, the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security boasted:no system compares in any way with the scope, range and expertise of our housing benefit system."—[Official Report, 27 June 1985; Vol. 81, c. 1142.]Yet that very scope and range are to be employed as an obstacle to prevent spouses from entering this country. Housing benefit is available to owner-occupiers diligently paying off their mortgages as well as to tenants diligently paying their rents. Recipients of housing benefit total 7.5 million. They are 38 per cent. of all the households in this country. Benefit can be as little as 50p a week, yet under the new rules a recipient of housing benefit can be disqualified from being joined in this country by his or her marriage partner.
The rules even disqualify someone rehoused under the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977. Someone evicted through no fault of his own and availing himself of his statutory right to be rehoused will be prevented from living in that house with his or her marriage partner. Last year alone, there were 83,000 such households.
905 It takes a Government infected with an extraordinary perversion of meanness to lay down such disqualifications. It is a dangerous distortion of the function of government that the Department of Health and Social Security is explicitly to be made an agency for immigration control.
What are the rights that receipt of these benefits nullifies? It is when we examine them that we find that the Government have plunged themselves into a morass of inconsistencies, contradictions and absurdities which demonstrate that the Home Secretary is not only intellectually stunted and administratively incompetent, but morally disreputable as well.
What is more, the changes are all pointless. As I shall demonstrate, the new rules will leave the Home Secretary as much in violation of the European convention as did the old ones. The moment that the first adverse decisions are made under the new rules, there will undoubtedly be a fresh flow of applications which could end up in the European Court and be decided against the British Government.
We have to consider a mistake in the drafting of the new rules which makes nonsense of the provisions in them relating to children. The new paragraph 50A(b) says that children under 18 seeking admission shall be admittedif they meet the requirements of sub-paragraphs (e) and (f) of paragraph 50 but for the fact that they are joining or accompanying one parent given limited leave with a view to settlement.But paragraph 50 of the existing rules posits sub-paragraphs (e) and (f) as alternatives and it is clear that in the new document the word between (e) and (f) should be "or", not "and". So the new rules, apparently the subject of so much consideration by the Home Secretary, are bedevilled by a serious drafting error which will have to be amended if the law of this land is to make sense.
We must also consider another serious mistake in the new rules affecting children. Under the existing rules, a child under 18 is normally admitted for settlement, and that is that. Under the new rules, a child under 18 is to be admitted for only an initial period of 12 months.
If the child is aged 17 and passes his or her 18th birthday during that initial period, if he or she gets married or if, due to delays in decisions, the child is already 18 during the initial period, there is no right in the rules for the child to remain.
Moreover, whatever the age of the child, if the parent has had to have recourse to public funds during the initial year, the Home Office will have the power to remove the child. One trusts that that disturbing error is due to sloppy drafting rather than to malevolent intention, but clearly those two mistakes mean that the new rules are seriously defective. On that ground alone, they ought to be withdrawn.
However, there are even more substantial reasons why, if the rules are not withdrawn, the House should reject them. The reasons are such that they ought to commend themselves to all hon. Members, whatever their views on immigration control.
The Government claimed in a written answer to the hon. Member for Westminster, North (Mr. Wheeler) on 10 July that the rule changes bring the provisions for the admission of husbands and wives into line with each other and thus secure compliance with the judgment of the European court in relation to sexual discrimination. But 906 they do no such thing. The amendments in the new document purport to achieve that equality by extending the primary purpose rule to wives and female fiancées as well as to husbands and male fiancés and by laying down the same requirements for all in regard to recourse to public funds. Yet the recourse to public fund requirement is itself an act of sexual discrimination.
The average weekly earnings of women are only 66 per cent. of those of men. Earnings of women in manual occupations are only 61 per cent. of those of men. The possibility of women having to have recourse to public funds is accordingly 50 per cent. or more greater than that of men, and such recourse is sufficient reason in the new rules for the rejection of an application.
That hurdle is in addition to an enormous exemption from all the new and onerous requirements — an exemption which makes nonsense of everything else that the Government are doing. Section 1(5) of the Immigration Act 1971, which is the governing Act of the rules, says:The rules shall be so framed that Commonwealth citizens settled in the United Kingdom at the coming into force of this Act and their wives and children are not, by virtue of anything in the rules, any less free to come into and go from the United Kingdom than if this Act had not been passed.That is an overriding privision which cannot be overruled or amended except by primary legislation. It applies only to men and not to women.
The Home Secretary said that it is the Government's intention to introduce such primary legislation. We require an answer to the question, does that statement by the Home Secretary mean that such legislation will remove the section 1(5) guarantee? If it means that, it will be an intolerable breach of repeated commitments by the Government. I name the first one because that section 1(5) was not in the Bill as originally introduced in the House. It was an amendment from the other place. On 19 October 1971, when this House considered the Lords amendments, the then Home Secretary, Mr. Maudling, said of section 1(5), which the present Home Secretary says he is going to amend:We provide that in the rules there should be a continuing right for immigrants settled here to bring their wives and children with them. It has been argued that this statutory right should be preserved, and the purpose of the second Amendment is to presever the current statutory right to bring in wives and children".—[Official Report, 19 October 1971: Vol. 823, c. 552.]Are the Government going to stand by that guarantee? If they are, they cannot amend that section in a way that will renew the guarantee. If they amend the section in that way, they will be breaking not only one promise but a series of solemn promises to the House of Commons.
While that section and subsection are on the statute book, however many or however few men are covered by it, their exemption ensures that there cannot be equal treatment for men and women. It therefore ensures that the European Court judgment, and consequently the European convention, are violated.
The Government have decided to make that exemption an excuse for negating to an overwhelming extent any pretence that they mean to treat men and women equally. The phrase
Commonwealth citizens settled in the United Kingdom"—the phrase in this section—includes all British citizens born in this country on or before January 1973 and living here on that date, which is the date of the coming into force of the Immigration Act 1971. This means that, of the 27 907 million males in this country today, 21 million are exempted from the primary purpose rule and the other new obstacles as they affect wives. The exemption covers approximately three quarters of all the males in this country, but about 90 percent. of men over 18. Those men are roughly of marriageable age and most of them are white. About half the black men here will not benefit from this exemption.
All the women in Britain are affected by the primary purpose rule and the other conditions with regard to husbands, but most of the males are not affected by these restrictions as they affect wives; and that is what this Government mean by sexual equality.
This wilful distortion of the legislation goes completely against what was intended by those responsible for its enactment. The Act is about immigration, and this provision was specifically intended to apply only to immigrants. That was clearly explained by Mr. Maudling in the quotation that I offered to the House. The relevant sentence states:We provide that in the rules there should be a continuing right for immigrants settled here to bring their wives and children with them."—[Official Report, 19 October 1971; Vol. 823, c. 552.]With these rule changes, the Government are deliberately perverting the intentions of the parent Act. No doubt they are congratulating themselves on doing so for, apart from the little matter of continuing to violate the European convention, they have neatly turned section 1(5) protection into an exclusion favouring almost all white males who wish to bring foreign or Commonwealth wives into this country. Unfortunately, by doing so, the Government have spawned a mass of ridiculous and contemptible anomalies. They have created, whether they realise it or not, a series of divisions among those same white males whom they are seeking to favour, while at the same time penalising most black males. They continue to penalise all women, whether black or white.
The section 1(5) exemption applies only to wives and not to fiancées. This means that, if one of the 21 million apparently favoured males wishes to bring in his wife, he can do so unconditionally, but if he wishes to bring in his fiancée, she will be subject to the primary purpose and public funds obstacles. All these women, whether they are white or black, whether their prospective husbands are white or black, whether their husbands were born in this country, have long ancestries in it or were immigrants, will be subject to the degrading and humiliating question that is inherent in the primary purpose rule.
The section 1(5) protection applies only to those in Britain on 1 January 1973. That seems all right for the time being, since the oldest among the 4½ million males born here since 1 January 1973 are aged between 12 and 13. But time will pass, and in five or six years these teenagers will begin to reach marriageable age. When they do so, they will not enjoy section 1(5) protection and will be subject to the full rigour of the primary purpose and public funds conditions. Elder brothers will be free to marry whom they like; younger brothers will not. None of them, older or younger, will have the freedom that used to be available to bring fiancées to this country.
There will be extraordinary and unacceptable discrimination against British nationals and European Community nationals resident here. Under the freedom of movement provisions of the treaty of Rome, European Community nationals are completely at liberty to work 908 here without any nonsense of primary purpose rules arid to bring in not only their wives but their children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Although they do not, in strict terms, have equal freedom to bring in their fiancées, they actually have such freedom, because paragraph 15 of the new rules not only entrenches but extends the right of all European Community nationals—men and women—to enter this country not only to take employment but to seek employment.
European Community fiancées will he able to enter this country freely under this provision and will, therefore, have rights denied to the fiancées of millions of British citizens. I would add "of law-abiding British citizens" for among the European Community nationals in this country who will not be affected by these restrictions when British citizens will be are the Italian Fascist terrorists whose presence in London has been exposed by the press and ITN.
In these absurd and derisory rules, the Government have managed to make one law for men and another for women, one law for white men and another for black men, one law for white men and their wives and another for white men and their fiancées, one law for males born before 1973 and another for males born since 1973, and one law for British men and another for European Community men living in Britain.
All this has been done in violation of the most solemn promises, for the decision to penalise men who were born here or came here after 1973 is a breach of specific pledges made by Conservative Ministers. On 11 November 1982, in a debate on immigration rules, Lord Whitelaw as Home Secretary was asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley):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?Lord Whitelaw replied:The right for men was established in the 1971 Act. That is the position and I believe that it should remain.If Lord Whitelaw was still Home Secretary, I believe that he, as an honourable man, would have kept that commitment. It has now been broken.
In the same debate, the then Minister of State, Home Office, who is now the Minister for Overseas Development — the right hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison)—stated:the Immigration Act 1971 … entitled men settled in Britain to bring in their wives and under-age children … we have always accepted that this guarantee should apply to men settled here since then. That, in my opinion, is the humane decision."—[Official Report, 11 November 1982; Vol. 31, c. 695, 753.]That humane decision is now being violated.
The present Minister of State, addressing the Conservative party conference in 1983, made a courageous speech opposing, the racialist resolution proposed by the Billericay constituency. [HON. MEMBERS: "Surprise, surprise."] He said:I remind the conference that the Immigration Act 1971 gave to men who have settled here the right to have their families join them. The motion ignores the fact that about two thirds of those accepted for settlement last year were those families, the wives and children of men already settled here, often men settled here since before 1971, and the motion tells us to take away that statutory right. Is that what Councillor Eyre wants when he talks about a respite?909 Those were fine words, but in advocating these rules, the Minister is breaking them. What is he doing by breaking his word? I shall again quote from the Conservative party conference. He said:But the motion does even more than that. What it seeks to do, when one examines it, is to deny a British citizen the right to choose a wife from where he wants and live with her here.The Minister condemned that when others proposed it, yet he and the Home Secretary are doing exactly that tonight.
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. David Waddington)
Either the right hon. Gentleman is deceiving the House, which I cannot believe, or he has completely misunderstood the rules. Nothing whatsoever in the rules takes away from a British citizen the right to bring in a wife. The most that the right hon. Gentleman can say is that if a British citizen wishes to bring in a wife, the wife will have to satisfy the immigration officer that the primary purpose of the marriage is not merely immigration. That is the only way in which the right hon. Gentleman can begin to argue that the rights of a British citizen are being removed. He has obviously misunderstood the purpose of the exercise.
§ Mr. Kaufman
I have never misunderstood the Minister's intention in these matters. If the wife must only satisfy the primary purpose rule, as he says, why is it that 90 per cent. of all refusals are based on the primary purpose rule, and more than 40 per cent. of all applications, whether accepted or rejected, are refused on the basis of the primary purpose rule? It is a device to negate a right, and the hon. and learned Gentleman knows it.
Three months ago the Home Secretary spoke to the conference of the United Kingdom Immigrants Advisory Service in Manchester. He said:the Government is firmly committed to allowing the dependants of those already settled here to join them. In 1984, over 16,000 wives and over 11,000 children were accepted for settlement. That is well over half of all those who were allowed to settle here last year. Over the past decade the United Kingdom has accepted about a third of a million wives and children for settlement. I believe that these figures demonstrate that this Government continues to put first the commitment which this country has made to those who have emigrated here.Tonight that proud boast lies in tatters because the stringent conditions——
§ Mr. Kaufman
How can the Home Secretary say that I have not read the rules when he has two major drafting errors in them, which makes nonsense of them? He did not mention them, and I hope that his civil servants will make it clear how they can be put right.
That proud boast lies in tatters, because the stringent conditions imposed on certain wives and all fiancees under these new rules will negate any theoretical right of entry. Experience of the operation of the primary purpose rule aginst women since 1979 makes that clear. As I said earlier, 90 per cent. of refusals for husbands and male fiancés from the Indian subcontinent are due to the primary purpose rule. That is likely to be the future pattern for wives and female fiancees. Indeed, the Government intend that to be the pattern.
§ Ms. Clare Short
Does my right hon. Friend agree that there is some hypocrisy coming from the Government 910 Benches in that today the Home Secretary has announced his intention to amend the 1971 legislation and to interfere with section 1(5), yet he sits and shakes his head in disagreement when my right hon. Friend says that that will breach an undertaking given by every Home Secretary since Reginald Maudling? The Home Secretary cannot have it both ways.
§ Mr. Kaufman
Not only can the Home Secretary not have it both ways, but his statistics and what he said this afternoon undermine what he says. An answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Dubs) made it clear that the increase in the number of male immigrants as a result of the change in the rules will be more than counterbalanced by the reduction in the number of female immigrants. What is it all for? It is merely to keep out a handful of thousands of husbands and male fiancés, mainly from the Indian subcontinent. Those victims are fewer in number than those who vote in a by-election to fill a local authority vacancy, or the number of delegates at a Tory party conference. They number about one five-hundredth of 1 per cent. of the population. Those are the true dimensions of the alleged problem that has ensnarled the Home Secretary in this discreditable tangle.
Viewed objectively, immigration should be neither a problem nor an issue in Britain. Substantial primary immigration ended at least a decade and a half ago, and there is no prospect of it starting again. In most years there is a net emigration from the United Kingdom. In 1983–84, 45 per cent. of so-called immigrants were Britons returning to the United Kingdom. In that year only 15.5 per cent. of immigrants came from the West Indies, Africa and the Indian subcontinent—the areas from which, according to the Government, there is the greatest pressure to emigrate to the United Kingdom.
The Labour party certainly believes in firm immigration controls — [Interruption.] I say to Conservative racialists, who wish it were different, that we believe in firm immigration controls, but, unlike the Government, we insist that immigration controls should be non-sexist and non-racist.
§ Mr. Kaufman
I shall not give way, because I am about to sit down.
Today we are discussing the right of women and men to marry whom they wish, and to live where they wish with their chosen spouse. Surely that sentiment must appeal to the Prime Minister who in 1981 said:not only is the family the most important means through which we show our care for others. It's the place where each generation learns its responsibilities towards the rest of society.The rules are disreputable and shoddy, and they will lead to administrative chaos and, what is worse, much human misery. They are conceived in prejudice, and will be administered with invidiousness. Two things remain for the Home Secretary to do—one is to withdraw these rules, and the other is to resign. He should do both today.
§ Mr. Geoff Lawler (Bradford, North)
Immigration is a subject that should not lead to an us-and-them debate. To talk about tightening controls as the prerogative of the majority white population and of liberalising controls as the prerogative of the ethnic minorities, or as an attempt to appease them, is to make false and sweeping 911 generalisations and perpetuate the status of immigrants, a status that applies no longer to the majority of the coloured population. Ethnic minorities have as much at stake in Britain's future and its social fabric as the white population. I contend that they have a greater interest because they are at a greater social disadvantage than their white counterparts. The ethnic minorities suffer from greater unemployment and a greater degree of bad housing.
Immigration controls are of benefit to the entire community but their operation must not lead to the disadvantage of any section of the community. If immigration controls are to be respected, they must apply equally. The old rules that the European Court rejected were clearly discriminatory and not to the Government's credit. It is a shame that individuals had to go to the European Court to have them corrected.
There is nothing objectionable in applying strict immigration controls to prevent abuse. There is nothing objectionable in the way in which the Government have tackled the judgment of the European Court. There is nothing objectionable in controlling the numbers coming into the country. It is the methods that are used to achieve that object that are objectionable if they are unfair and discriminatory. In the overall context of immigration control, a primary purpose rule is an effective method of controlling entry and deciding reasons for entry. However, is it right that that rule should assume that the applicant is fraudulent unless it is proven otherwise? The figures show that there has been a large increase in the number of applicants who have been refused on account of the primary purpose rule. There has been a commensurate and significant decrease in other reasons for refusal when applications for entry have been made for marriage reasons. If the rules are keeping out those who would otherwise fail in their applications, why submit applicants to the indignity and anxiety that goes with having to try to prove that their marriage is genuine?
In how many of the extra refusals would the entry clearance officers fail to prove a bogus application while at the same time the applicant would be unable to prove that he was making a genuine application to come here for marriage? It is more likely that the inability to prove the genuineness of the application will be because the applicant has the handicap of a lack of resources, lack of intelligence or lack of preparation. The applicant should not be penalised for being in that position and the onus must be put on the authorities.
How many of those who are settled in this country and how many hon. Members could pass the primary purpose rule? The rule might reduce the number of divorces if it were to be applied here. Elizabeth Taylor would have failed miserably on every occasion.
There is a need to review the primary purpose rule and to consider whether the onus of proof should not be returned to the authorities. I hope that the Government will undertake such a review. There is no doubt that the current application of the rule causes applicants to suffer indignity and anxiety.
Another detail of the new rules that concerns me—I am sure that it will cause great concern to many of my constituents — is that which is directed to adequate maintenance and accommodation. Many applicants who apply to bring in husbands, fiancés or wives may be in the fortunate position of having a job. However, before their application is processed they may, unfortunately, lose 912 their employment. They may lose it during the 12 months between their partner entering the United Kingdom and the end of the probationary period. Circumstances completely outside their control might dictate that their application fails. Equally, once their partner is here he or she may have to return to the country from whence they came because of the unfortunate economic circumstance in which they found themselves. The criterion that bears on adequate maintenance and accommodation will effectively rule out those of my constituents who are unemployed or low paid having the chance to marry the person of their choice.
An applicant who enters the United Kingdom will have to prove that he or she has a job that will provide sufficient pay not to make it necessary to claim housing benefit or family income supplement, or that he or she has great qualifications and that it is likely that he or she will be able to take a job. That is the position of an applicant whose partner is in this country and unemployed. Are we to tell a young man that he cannot be allowed into the country because he will have to make a claim on public funds, when he has good qualifications, the probability of finding a job—for example, a trainee chartered accountant—and good prospects? Is that really what we are to tell someone in that position when it is likely that his income initially will be low and he will have to claim housing benefit, for example?
§ Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North)
I have been listening intently to my hon. Friend. If the rules did not exist, does he agree that those intending to enter the country would be tempted to do so for that very reason? Does he accept that they might be tempted to come here to enjoy the benefits which other taxpayers, who have been settled for many years, have provided?
§ Mr. Lawler
The greatest need and desire of those entering the country would be to get a job so that they would not have to rely on public funds. I have some knowledge of the Asian community and I know that its members are extremely enterprising and hard-working. Those who have to live on the public purse take no pride in that fact. Asians like to live off their own means and provide for themselves. The rules might prevent them being able to do that. In the initial stages, when they are gaining qualifications, becoming better qualified and working towards the stage when they can be self-sustaining, they might have reasons to have recourse to public funds. It is in the initial stage that we shall inhibit them from joining their partners in this country.
§ Ms. Clare Short
Is the hon. Gentleman perplexed because the Government have not included the application for mortgage interest relief in the provisions that turn on recourse to public funds? The provision of that relief leads to greater expenditure by the Exchequer than that on housing benefit. Does this not show the class bias that underlies the rules?
§ Mr. Lawler
I do not agree with the hon. Lady. I do not accept that mortgage interest relief should be included in the list of the various claims on public funds. I should prefer to narrow the definition rather than widen it.
A worrying feature of the housing provisions is that the applicants are deemed to live in their own property. This requires clarification. I have come across examples where an uncle or a wealthy friend has offered to provide 913 accommodation. It is not uncommon in the Asian community for someone to own more than one house. If a couple wish to get married and the fiancé, husband or wife is coming here from the Indian subcontinent, I see no reason why that practice should not be allowed to continue. I hope that paragraph 15 will be clarified so that we know whether the practice can continue. My concern extends beyond housing to the provision of money and income by relatives or friends to sustain the couple once they are in the United Kingdom. This practice has been quite common among my constituents and I hope that it will not be brought to an end, especially as a substantial proportion of the Asian population in many of our cities suffer a disproportionate rate of unemployment.
§ Mr. Ron Leighton (Newham, North-East)
The hon. Gentleman is making a courageous speech. Will he follow it by voting against the Government this evening?
§ Mr. Lawler
If the hon. Gentleman will wait until I conclude my speech, he can draw his own conclusions.
This detail means that many of my constituents will be worried about engaging in a contract of marriage and inviting over people they wish to marry. That is because they will enter a 12-month period, at the beginning of which they may be in employment. However, at the end, they may not be and they will be worried about their fate. The person in this country may be a British citizen born and educated here, who has worked here for many years and has paid his or her taxes. That person, therefore, has as much entitlement to claim benefits from the welfare state as anyone else.
We must not put that person in a position where he cannot claim benefits because of the fear that his or her partner will be returned to the country whence he or she came, or that the couple will have to leave. A person may lose his job during the 12 months and, as they are phrased at the moment, the rules mean that if a person loses his job at any time after the marriage, the couple will have to return to whatever country they came from.
Another tradition infringed by the rules is the extended family. It is not uncommon for parents, uncles, aunts or friends to take into the family home, whether it is the same house or a house they own, a newly married couple. We should allow and respect that tradition and culture, and not prohibit it as we effectively seem to be doing in the wording of paragraph 15A. The rules as phrased restrict to the wealthy, the clever or the people with good qualifications the right to bring in whom one wants as a partner. But even then there is no guarantee that a person will continue to be allowed to have his partner live with him or her. My constituents will be looking for a change in the rules.
§ Mr. Waddington
Perhaps I could help my hon. Friend on one point. He has been addressing the House as if the reference in the new rules to accommodation of a person's own or which he occupies himself represents a new provision, a new requirement. The existing rule 46 refers to the need for a husband who is sponsoring the entry of a wife to show that he has accommodation of his own or which he occupies himself. Therefore, there is no change in that.
§ Mr. Lawler
As I understand it, the new rules will mean that not only must that condition be applied before 914 the marriage but that it must also be applied more or less indefinitely. The existing situation is that a house or accommodation may be offered by members of the family or by friends for an indefinite period. That will no longer apply and once a couple are married they will have to sustain themselves and find their own accommodation.
Increasingly, the desire of the Asian community is to try to choose a partner from within this country. There are many reasons for that, not least of which is that when two people have been educated under the same system they will probably be more compatible than in the case of someone brought in who has had a completely different education and who may not even speak English. While that is an increasing trend, we still must respect the right of members of the community to exercise their freedom of choice. To restrict people coming to this country and to implement strict criteria is fair. It is also fair to implement firm immigration controls and to change the rules in the way they have been changed. But to replace sexual discrimination with wealth discrimination is not fair, and I hope there will be some changes in the rules.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (South Down)
From time to time this House lays on what might be called a surrogate debate. This happens when there are huge and tormenting problems which, for various reasons of embarrassment or prior commitment, we prefer not to have debated openly on the floor of the House. We therefore argue about minor matters on the fringe of those great problems. This debate is a case in point. Its only peculiarity is that we are not trying to avoid debating just one such major problem, but three. There are, so to speak, three sleeping dogs which there is a general anxiety and agreement, if possible, not to disturb. I wish to contribute by kicking each in order into some sort of wakefulness.
These changes to the rules have not been brought forward by the Goverment of their own volition. The Government have not come forward with their own legislation and do not commend it on that ground. They say, "We are obliged by an international commitment to invite Parliament to legislate as follows." The claim of this House to make the law of this kingdom is connected with its representative character. It is because we collectively represent the realm, and because we individually and collectively are held responsible through a well-understood and long-practised political process for the laws that we make, that a law of this country has traditionally been made only by Parliament.
The whole basis of the right and claim of the House to legislate is destroyed if we can be obliged to legislate as a result of an interpretation placed by foreign judges upon a document of extreme vagueness in its formulation. There is no reason why such interpretation of such a document should be acceptable to the opinion or the wishes of our people, or that it should be workable and compatible with the rest of our law and with the circumstances of the people of this country. The obligation is an affront to the whole process of parliamentary government and legislation.
We find ourselves in this position as a result of something which the House has never debated. It has never debated the adherence of the United Kingdom to the European convention on human rights, nor, when the right of individual access to that court was from time to time renewed, has it ever been thought fit for the subject to be debated by the House. So for 35 years we have lived— 915 without debate, without securing the understanding and agreement of the people in the way in which we seek it by our debates in this House — with a system that is incompatible with the claim of Parliament, alone to make the laws of this country.
§ Mr. Maclennan
The right hon. Gentleman speaks as if this were unusual, but with his great knowledge of history he will recognise that the treaty-making power of this country is a prerogative power of the Crown which was exercised for centuries before the European convention on human rights was dreamed of. Parliament has always thought it appropriate to legislate to bring its laws into line with the treaties agreed by the prerogative.
§ Mr. Powell
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman because by his intervention he exposes the peculiarity of our adherence to the European convention. Of course, when a treaty is entered into by Her Majesty's Government which involves any change in the laws of this country in order to be implemented, before that treaty can be ratified the Government must secure from Parliament the necessary change in the law of the realm. That has always been the case from the treaty of Utrecht onwards and no doubt before. What has happened here is that the Government are both empowered and required to approach this House and from time to time, to say, "Thus you must legislate, because a body over which we have no control, taking decisions about which we had no foreknowledge, no possiblity of foreknowledge, when we entered into this international commitment, has arrived at a certain ruling." That is the radical incompatibility — which does not exist with any other treaty, except perhaps the European Community treaty — between the legislative power of this House and our adherence to the European Convention. The result is that we shall find ourselves progressively making law which does not have the support or approval of the people, and the Secretary of State for Education and Science had the embarrassment today of having to admit exactly that to the House.
We are contemplating, in the form of these proposed changed rules, one of the consequences of legislative servitude in which we have involved ourselves. It is a legislative servitude we have never sought to justify by debate either to ourselves or to the country, and a servitude of which the renewal has never been thought fit to be brought before the House. One of the benefits of today's debate—there will be others—is that we have secured what I hope can be understood to be an undertaking from both sides of the House that, if there is to be a further extension and renewal of the right of individual access, the opinion of the House will be duly sought in debate before that occurs.
Not unlike the Secretary of State for Education and Science, the Home Secretary found himself in a fix. He was stuck with a set of immigration rules which had been struck down by the court. We have before us today the solution to his problem. Broadly speaking, it was to take that which applied to the admission of male fiancés and male spouses and apply it to the admission of female fiancées and wives. That is the essence of the Home Secretary's solution to the quandary in which he was placed by the decision of the European court.
Much to the Home Secretary's surprise, though not to that of many right hon. and hon. Members, that apparently even-handed justice has been found to be less than 916 satisfactory, and behind this there lies the second of my sleeping dogs—another of these great problems that we have accepted all unwittingly and loaded upon ourselves. It is that of sex discrimination legislation and philosophy, which has been important in its impact upon our citizenship law, though it influenced our immigration law even before it had its impact upon our law of citizenship.
In the British Nationality Act 1981, we succeeded, except transitionally, in eliminating every trace of differentiation between one sex and the other for the purposes of the exercise or transmission of nationality. I do not intend to revert to our debates — some of us believe that this was a profound mistake — during the passage of the British Nationality Bill. However, I want to point out the effect which has run through to these rules.
It is a proposition — and we would view any disagreement with it as repugnant—that those belonging to a country, those settled in a country, those who are citizens of a country, should be free to wed whom they will from wherever they come. It would be difficult to imagine anything more insulting than repudiation of that proposition.
However, as a result of the changes that we have made in our law of nationality, we have endowed both sexes with the capability of conferring the acquisition—or the opportunity of acquisition — of national status and of rights such as the right of abode. The immediate consequence was seen in the rise of the spectre of the male fiancé: it was realised that in those circumstances it would be possible for a woman settled here to confer the right of abode upon a male, whether a fiancé or a husband and immediately defences were erected in the form of the order that has been struck down by the European Court of Human Rights.
The Home Secretary says, "I shall solve the problem. I shall treat both sexes the same. I shall apply the same rules to husbands and wives and to male and female fiancés. What is wrong with that?"
What is wrong with it, is that when we apply those rules, with which we have been living, satisfactorily more or less, over a number of years, to a wife and thus hold a man who is to confer by marriage the status of abode and of citizenship upon his wife to the requirements and the inquisitions of the old rule, we are all aghast and offended by it.
That is not the fault of the Home Secretary. It is our own fault for what we have done in our legislation against sex discrimination. We have legislated a lie, which flies in the face of facts as they really are and which flies in the face of the respective functions and roles of man and woman in society. We have legislated in the face of the truth and, as always happens when we do that, we find ourselves involved in irresolvable conflict.
So that is the second of the questions which we are endeavouring to hold at bay in this surrogate debate—how long we can sustain the fiction that there is an identity of function and role in society and in nationally between man and woman, as we have been endeavouring to assert in our legislation.
§ Ms. Clare Short
I know that the right hon. Gentleman has followed the development of British immigration law in great detail over a very long period. He has implied today that the right of women to marry husbands from abroad arises because of the changes that were made in the recent British Nationality Act. However, that is not the 917 case, as I am sure he will confirm. We have been arguing for a long time about whether women should have a right to marry husbands from abroad. The right was given in 1968, taken away and then restored in changes to the immigration rules long before the passage of the British Nationality Act.
§ Mr. Powell
I am obliged to the hon. Lady because she helps me to make my point. It is when marriage is endowed with the ability to confer status that we run into these difficulties. It was the status she possessed of having right to abode, that would be conferred by a women exercising her choice to marry whom she would from abroad, which led us to erect these barriers—or, rather, these sieves—to limit the use which could be made of that right.
So I have come to the last and most ferocious of the sleeping dogs. No one can listen to a debate upon these rules without being struck by their pettiness, their ineffectiveness and their disproportion and irrelevance in what they attempt in relation to the problem with which they seek to cope.
The word "immigration" is still clung to by millions of our fellow citizens as a euphemism which helps them to be protected from the prospect — the reality — which successive Governments have steadily refused to acknowledge or allow to be openly debated on the Floor of the House in its full dimensions. When one third or more of major cities and other areas of the country are populated or will be populated by those who in important respects do not identify themselves with the rest of the population, it is a delusion to imagine that any rules that we try to frame will prevent those populations from being replenished and refreshed from the immense human reservoir with which they are connected in the continent from which they originated. It is a delusion to think that one can have a resident population of millions closely related in sentiment and in every other way to huge populations in the rest of the globe and still prevent the natural consequences of that from following.
Hence, we endeavour by such a debate as this to protect ourselves from grappling with the true magnitude, the true reality of the fact that the new Commonwealth population of this country by reason of its age structure is destined inexorably, apart from any further inflow, to double in the foreseeable future—we endeavour to protect ourselves from acknowledging that fact and from having to spell out to ourselves and to our fellow citizens whether we find it acceptable or not and what we believe its consequences will be. That is the third and greatest of the subjects which we have been holding at bay in this surrogate debate; but one day we shall have to look it in the face.
§ Mrs. Edwina Currie (Derbyshire, South)
I have not taken part before in a debate on immigration; probably the right hon. Member for South Down (Mr. Powell) is right that we have not debated this subject, and we have been somewhat amiss.
I have listened with great interest to the points which have been made. I would say to my hon. and right hon. Friends on the Front Bench that there is a dictum in the media that, if one is being criticised from all sides of the political spectrum, one has probably got it right. I would commend that viewpoint to the House.
918 For four years, I was a member of Birmingham community relations council. I found that experience thoroughly enjoyable and deeply enlightening. I was educated into discovering the differences in style and attitudes in a city with dozens and dozens of minorities. I learned about thalassaemia and sickle cell anaemia, and the tragic effects of kinship on congenital malformations in families. I was able in a small way to help set up services for families with sickle cell anaemia, and the first voluntary centre for the elderly West Indians in Birmingham, so I have been much involved in all these services. All of us in the Conservative party in Birmingham learned that putting up a Hindu candidate in a ward where the majority of the electors were Pakistanis was not going to lead to success, particularly when the Labour party had the wit to put up a Moslem. I learned most of all from these people what it means to honour God in their daily lives, and to respect and care for their elderly, and I do really believe that they have a great deal to teach the host community in some asspects of these social services.
Like the first two speakers in the debate, my grandparents were immigrants, but I also had the opportunity of going through an immigration procedure myself some years ago when I decided to go to the United States in order to work and found that, since I could not get a work permit, I had to go through immigration procedure. It took many months to get clearance. That involved interviews in the United Kingdom, for myself and, for my relatives in the United States, and involved them in considerable expense. My family and sponsors in America had to go through all the palaver of swearing their incomes and savings before notaries public to satisfy the authorities that in no circumstances would I become a charge on public funds. Indeed, had I become such a charge, I would have been deported at once; that was made quite clear right from the beginning and at all stages of the immigration procedure.
I think that that approach is absolutely right, and I am glad to see that one change tonight is that the existing requirements relating to maintenance and accommodation are being strengthened. As I understand it, in future the entry clearance officer must be satisfied that the couple will jointly provide adequate maintenance and accommodation for themselves and their dependants. If, during the initial limited leave period, they subsequently have recourse to public funds, then their leave may be curtailed or their application for extension of stay refused.
I heard the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman)—who has now left the Chamber—say that he thought that the families had the right to settle wherever they wanted. There is not a country in the world that is worth living in which accepts that sort of proposition. Almost all nations have immigration procedures, and we are not the only nation to have strict rules. Indeed, in many countries, as my experience in the United States shows, the rules are a great deal stricter.
I was sad to hear the criticism from all sides, and I think that the Government have responded with responsibility and perhaps with some ingenuity to the court's decision. The court said that we were discriminating. The Government accepted the ruling, and they could simply have opened the doors a little wider. Instead, they decided to enforce equality by levelling down, so the figures should not be changed by all that much, and we look forward to seeing exactly what will happen.
919 There are Conservative Members, and perhaps Opposition Members, who are opposed to the changes simply because they have been forced by the European Court. I have to say to them, and particularly to my hon. and very dear friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-East (Mr. Budgen) — [Interruption.] My hon. Friend was not in fact listening as he was talking to my hon. and dear friend the Member for Batley and Spen (Mrs. Peacock). To be more serious, I say to him that just because the Government are obliged to take action by the European Court does not make such action automatically disreputable. I believe that those of my colleagues who are anti-Europe and take that stand in the debate actually diminish what they say by their approach to Europe.
Then we have the Labour party. I listened with interest to the right hon. Member for Gorton, who tossed the racialist tag rather freely around. I would say to him—and I hope that he reads this in Hansard tomorrow—that abuse has never been a substitute for argument. Simply abusing Conservative Members who take a genuine interest and concern in these matters — [HON. MEMBERS: "He is in the Chamber."] I apologise to the right hon. Member for Gorton, who was sitting on a Back Bench, and I refrain from saying that that is where he belongs.
However, the right hon. Gentleman forbore to mention that the law which we have been discusing was that applied by the Labour Government when they were in office. He did not remind us that, in the 1960s, the Labour Government promised to repeal the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962, but in 1968 actually extended its scope, removing from United Kingdom passport holders their right to come here. He complained about the control of entry of husbands and fiancés, but he did not actually mention that in 1970 the Labour Government introduced rules which banned entry of husbands, save at the discretion of the Secretary of State. That was one of the last acts of that Labour Government. He did not say that the last Labour Administration relaxed the husband and fiancé rules after coming into office in 1974 and then discovered, less than three years later, that they could not sustain this position, and the rules were tightened again in 1977.
The Labour party certainly has a view on immigration. The problem is that it keeps changing it. It seems to depend on whether it is in office or not.
Those who might be tagged pro-immigration will naturally be opposed to tightening up the rules in any way. I say to them that I respect that viewpoint, but the British people, including my electorate, my constituents in south Derbyshire, would find that view absolutely untenable.
We invited people to come here in the 1950s. The right hon. Member for South Down was Minister of Health in 1960 when advertisements were still appearing in the West Indian magazines and newspapers inviting people to come and work in our hospitals and in our transport departments and so on, and they came. They continue to do the work for which they came. They do the hardest and meanest jobs in the public services, particularly in the National Health Service. Their contribution to this nation since they arrived at our invitation has been incalculable. In my view, they are entitled not only to stay, but to have that contribution recognised.
§ Mr. Neil Hamilton (Talton)
What does the hon. Lady mean by coming here "at our invitation"? As I understand 920 the state of the law at that time, there was no way in which we could have prevented them coming here, because at that stage we did not distinguish between citizens of one country, a member of the Commonwealth, and another. It was therefore, as the inevitable consequence of our failure to define citizenship in this country that this immigration took place. Therefore, it was in no sense in response to a formal invitation of any kind on behalf of the British people that this immigration took place.
§ Mrs. Currie
In the personal scrapbooks of people who used to be my constituents in Birmingham, I have seen cuttings from magazines to which they responded which were placed all over the Commonwealth, inviting people to come here and work. London Transport particularly put in a very large number of these advertisements, and said not only that jobs were available, but that accommodation would be found and that there were no restrictions on settlement. If that is not encouragement, I do not know what is. The adverts were still being put in by several Government and local authority Departments right through until the door was shut.
I say to colleagues who do not like the rules to be tightened up that, with more than 3 million unemployed, it would be crazy for us to let the control of immigration go in any way. We must have an immigration policy. That has been recognised by every Government since 1961. It is recognised by every nation in the world. With overcrowding and racial tension in our major cities, where our minorities want to go, it is not and never has been in their interests to allow unrestricted access, as some hon. Members would want. I have heard the leaders of such communities say so.
Nor is it in the United Kingdom's interests or within the country's power to solve the problems of other countries by permitting unrestricted access, whether they be Tamils, Hong Kongers or Gibraltarians. It cannot be right and if it were attempted, the outcry here would be considerable.
The constant pressure to enter the United Kingdom is a tribute to the prosperity of this country which can pay all the benefits about which we have heard, and it is a sad reflection on the continued poverty of the countries from which people come. The matter will not be resolved until those countries are able to offer their people a better and more prosperous way of life. The struggle to come to grips with this pressure is never easy and no Government have ever enjoyed putting such legislation before the House. All Governments have tried to tackle the problem. They have succeeded more or less. In 1961, there were about 140,000 immigrants; in 1984 there were about 26,000 from the old Commonwealth and foreign countries and about 25,000 from the new Commonwealth and Pakistan. I regard that as a success. In 18 of the past 20 years, immigration to Britain has been more or less balanced by emigration. I regard that as a success as well, especially when we take account of the fact that movement out of Britain was for many decades, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries, the only way in which many of our young people could have a future.
My right hon. and learned Friend's response to the court's decision is wise, responsible and appropriate and it deserves our support.
§ 7.1 pm
§ Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West)
I listened with interest to the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. 921 Currie). I understand that some of her constituents are not what are sometimes described as indigenous. She rightly paid tribute to them and their way of life. She is wrong to claim that the Opposition believe that there should be no immigration rules. I at once associate myself with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) said—we believe that there must be a fair, decent and honourable immigration policy. We are against a policy that is unfair, unreasonable, racist, sexist and impossible properly to administer.
My Asian constituents complain constantly not so much about the rules as about how they operate. They also complain about immigration officers being enabled to hold people up at ports of entry, interrogate them—often in a language that they do not understand — create misunderstandings which lead to ill will and, ultimately, prevent a policy created by unfair rules from operating acceptably to hundreds of thousands of British citizens.
I listened with interest to the right hon. Member for South Down (Mr. Powell). It was fascinating to hear the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South talking about people being encouraged to come to Britain. I remember when people in the new Commonwealth were encouraged to come here as nurses and to do jobs which people here were not prepared to do. I seem to remember that the right hon. Member for South Down was anxious that we should have such people. I have been told—I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong—that he was Minister of Health when we were encouraging people from the West Indies to come here as nurses.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell
The hon. and learned Member has been misinformed. The recruitment was carried out by the regional boards and the hospital authorities. At no stage was I in any way involved in decisions governing recruitment.
§ Mr. Janner
I understand that the right hon. Gentleman was Minister of Health at the time and I believe that the Minister of Health had some responsibility for the recruitment policies of health authorities. There it is, but anyway, I do not remember his denouncing such policies at the time. I believe that even he would understand that those who are now entitled to live here and be treated equally are entitled also to feel that their treatment is fair and that they have the same rights as all other citizens in regard to being joined by their wives or husbands or children.
Leicester has absorbed a considerable number of people from different cultures and countries in a wholly admirable way. About one fifth of the city's population is Asian. They have entered the life of the city in every respect, including the political life. Their objection is not to immigration rules but to the unfair way in which those rules work. This opportunity to make the rules fairer has not been grasped. I should like to pay my tribute to those people who, behind the scenes, try to help hon. Members to use the rules in such a way as to make them sometimes administered with compassion. I pay tribute to the Minister, who is occasionally able, even within the ambit of the rules, to help us with the fair and kindly administration of the system. Unfortunately, he is bound by the rules. He had the opportunity to change them but has not made them acceptable.
§ Ms. Clare Short
My understanding of the rules is that they are advisory and do not bind the Minister, who has discretion to allow in whomever he wants to let in.
§ Mr. Janner
There is a discretion in the rules which is normally exercised only in accordance with general principles. The overall discretion is one which Ministers, with their huge trains and trolleys of cases, exercise with some care. I have no complaint about the exercise of care in the admission of people to Britain. My complaint is that the rules are not basically fair and are not administered in a way which is accepted as fair.
I associate myself with everything that my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorton said. It was churlish of the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South to make her remark about the Back Benches.
§ Mr. Janner
I thought that afterwards, she would wish to apologise, but she did not. I suppose that "apology" is not a word that appears in her vocabulary. I thought that my right hon. Friend put the case eloquently, fairly, reasonably and in a statesmanlike way. I wish to add from the Back Benches, where I serve with pride, just two or three questions to the Minister. [Interruption.] I have served on the Back Benches with some pride for 15 years but if, after the next general election, I were to receive an invitation of some sort, I should consider it with care.
I should like to ask the Minister serious questions about the status of children accompanying mothers that I do not find easy to answer. Under the current rules, once it is proved that the parent has sole responsibility for supporting the child, the child can enter and is given immediate leave to settle.
New paragraph 50A of the rules provides for the admittance of a child for an initial period of up to 12 months. Presumably that is not to determine whether the primary purpose of admission is whether the child may marry. After 12 months, the Home Office can reconsider the position, but we have no details of what that will involve. It is likely that the Home Office will expect the same conditions to be satisfied after the 12-month period as were satisfied at the British high commission at the time when the application was made. If so, the Minister should say so, because it will create an intolerable position.
At the British high commission, the child must show that he or she is under the age of 18, unmarried and that the parents can accommodate him or her without recourse to public funds. What happens after the 12-month period if the child is then over the age of 18, is married or if the parents cannot accommodate the child without recourse to public funds — perhaps because they are among the 4 million other citizens unfortunate enough to be out of work?
The other major point is in relation to what happens under substituted paragraphs 41(d) and (e) and 46, which provide that maintenance and accommodation must be provided for the entrant without recourse to public funds. The sponsors and parents would have to declare that they will support and accommodate the child indefinitely. What happens to those who lose their jobs or have been unable to obtain one? What happens to parents who were in employment—many of them for many years—and who become ill? Will the child then be required to leave? If that is the case, it must be clearly stated. If it is not, the Minister must reassure the House, so that hon. Members 923 on both sides who have to deal with these cases know what to tell those who ask what will happen to their children. I hope that we can give them the assurance that, if children are deported after the 12-month period, it will not be because during that time the parents became ill, unemployed or fell on to other hard times. We would appreciate an explanation of the position.
The most excellent self-help neighbourhood centre in Leicester has asked about the waiting list for entry clearance. What will be the effect, if any, of the new rules? Currently, women have to obtain entry clearance in their country of origin and the waiting time had reached 23 months by the end of 1984. What provisions are the Government making to reduce the already extensive queues? Are people in this category, as in others, being kept waiting in an effort to deter them from wanting to come to this country? Will the Government provide for the increasing number of applications, albeit in temporary and restricted categories, that may occur when the new rules come into force? What will happen to those already in the queue?
I have always believed that if, under the law, people are entitled to come to this country, they should be allowed to do so. They should not be kept waiting in queues—either those that are involuntary or, still less, those that are used to ensure that the waiting time deters people from exercising what they believe to be their right.
This country has a proud, decent, honourable, happy society in which generations and multitudes of immigrants from many lands, dating back over many centuries—including all four of my grandparents—have come to this country and lived in harmony and served the country well, whether in the forces, in public life or in private life. They form part of our society.
§ Mr. Albert McQuarrie (Banff and Buchan)
The hon. and learned Gentleman will have heard my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie) mention Gibraltar in relation to the number of people wishing to come to Britain. I know of the hon. and learned Gentleman's deep interest in Gibraltar, as his father had before him. The people of Gibraltar are not required to apply for immigration because, during the last Parliament we ensured that they were full British citizens.
§ Mr. Janner
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his managing to intrude the people on Gibraltar into this debate. I am sorry that he is not staying to take the opportunity of joining the long queue to speak. I have great sympathy with the people of Gibraltar and will be happy to work with the hon. Gentleman to ensure that they are fairly treated.
I ask only that the Minister reconsider these rules so that the opportunity available to him is used to try to give people the feeling that there will be fairness in society for all and an understanding that the rules can be changed to make them firm, fair and reasonable so that they do not discriminate, in appearance and in reality, against sections of the community which are entitled to the same treatment as others, but which under these rules are not getting it.
§ Mrs. Elizabeth Peacock (Batley and Spen)
Whenever decisions are made concerning immigration and immigration rules and controls, there is bound to be someone who is not happy. There is always a group of people who have 924 particular circumstances that are not catered for by the rules. That is unfortunate, but I know that my colleagues in the Government are fully aware of many of the problems and do their best to achieve a balance between the problems and the facts. They make many humane decisions, which we all welcome.
I must place on record my thanks to the Minister, who has helped many of my cases in a most humane way. Indeed, he supports and helps all hon. Members with the problems of our constituents. One major fact remains—that while, in a Utopian world, we would like complete freedom for people to move from one part of the world to another with no restriction, in reality that is not possible. Controls are necessary and rules and regulations must be laid down and monitored.
Regardless of what is said about British immigration control, we have a long history of welcoming people from all lands to our shores, but that must be controlled in a disciplined manner. I can confidently say that all sections of the British community support the maintenance of disciplined control. Many ethnic communities—I have a larg community in my constituency with whom I speak regularly — are well established in Britain and their leaders agree that immigration must be controlled or their communities will be put under pressure.
In fact, some of my community think that it should not be necessary now for young women to wish to bring in fiancés. That opinion has been formed by the community leaders, although it is recognised that it will need to continue for some years yet. The pressure will be economic and social and, if not properly managed, could create problems with all the population in the United Kingdom.
The implications of the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights create a position that must be handled with care. It has been said in various quarters that the current immigration rules discriminate on the grouds of sex, and so they do. The House might be surprised to learn that, as a woman, I do not attack the rules on that ground only We all too often use the words "sex discrimination" without first looking at the basic problems. My view is simple; I agree with the judgment. If a man who is a non-British citizen but has established permanent residence can bring in a wife, clearly a woman who is a non-British citizen but who has established permanent residence should firmly have the right to bring in a husband.
I say that purely on the basis of establishing and maintaining the family unit. As many of us know, to many of our immigrant communities the family unit is slightly different from our own. They have long been used to living apart for many years and then seeking to bring the family together at some time later in life. The stability of any society is based on the stability of the family unit, and we should do all we can to foster that stability. It can clearly be shown that performance and stability are related to the family.
While I agree with the judgment and its implications, we cannot allow the changes to be made without measuring the consequences and creating the right level of control, and I am pleased to learn that under the changes men will be allowed to join women who are settled here.
The primary purpose rule, which, I appreciate, can be very trying in certain circumstances, is an essential safeguard against the abuse of marriage for immigration purposes, and it must be maintained. I know from experience in my constituency that it can be the cause of 925 many problems. However, the leaders of many ethnic communities will admit that it is an essential control that prevents many serious heartaches and social problems for young women. The fact that the primary purpose rule will in future apply to women, to avoid further allegations of sex discrimination, is appropriate and is in line with the thinking on which the case was originally taken to the European Court.
At present, the rules lay down the necessity for men to show that they can maintain and accommodate their wives without recourse to public funds. Presumably, women will now have to show that they can maintain and accommodate their husbands without recourse to public funds.
The new rules impose a strengthened maintenance and accommodation requirement by using the word "adequate." The Minister should clarify the position in that respect because the rules need to be spelt out in detail. Clear guidelines must be given and the Minister should quantify "adequate" in financial terms in relation to maintenance and accommodation. For example, the standard required should be explained. Will the standard required of women be weighted in some way, or will there be strict equality?
The requirement may of itself discriminate against women who wish to bring in husbands, for it is often difficult for a woman to show her financial stability and her ability to provide support for a man. For example, it is frequently more difficult for a woman to obtain a mortgage on property or to get a lease or loan.
I will not go into the whole sphere of the financial problems that women can experience. Nevertheless, those problems must be measured within the rules, if not in their wording then in the spirit and application of the controls.
Accepting the need for clarification of the maintenance requirements, I support the changes. However, I reserve my position to alter my view if the proposals again turn out to be discriminatory in a negative sense.
§ Mr. Alex Carlile (Montgomery)
Despite my gratitude for having been called to speak, I hope that hon. Members will not think it churlish if I reflect briefly on the fact that the impetus for this debate came from what I might call the nocturnal stamina of my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud), who sat outside the Public Bill Office in the early hours of the morning. Unfortunately, the usual channels then got to work, and whatever liquid flows through those murky channels led to the initiative being removed by the Government from right hon. and hon. Members who signed the prayer which was tabled by my hon. Friend. However, albeit in the face of rules which give rise to serious concern, we welcome the opportunity to ventilate some of the issues that relate to immigration and which rise directly from these rules under debate.
The right hon. Member for South Down (Mr. Powell) was right to refer to this as a surrogate debate. It is surrogate, above all, because those ethnic minorities whom it concerns are not able to represent themselves in the debate. Because of the vagaries of our electoral system and the fact that they are not represented among hon. Members here, they must rely on such wisdom of hon. Members as there is.
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg (Grantham)
Is the hon. and learned Gentleman saying that he does not represent the ethnic minorities in his constituency?
§ Mr. Carlile
The ethnic minorities do not have the opportunity under our existing electoral system to represent themselves—[Interruption.]—because of the nature of that system, as the hon. Gentleman knows only too well.
The views that many in the ethnic minorities would seek to put forward have already been given to a great extent, not least by the courageous speech of the hon. Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Lawler). At least he, though disagreeing with many aspects of Government policy, did not have to put up with the hysterical hyenas of the Tory right who interrupted repeatedly during the speech of the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman).
I remind the right hon. Member for South Down that time has moved on and that there are many in the House and great numbers in the country—I believe that they represent a majority—who cannot accept the narrow and — I use the word in neutral terms — somewhat nationalistic approach that he expressed in his eloquent contribution.
Many of us believe, with the support of the majority of in the community, that narrow nationalism has been the cause of much anguish, bloodshed and unnecessary dispute this century. The supranational responsibility imposed by treaty obligations — such as those we recognise as signatories to the European convention on human rights — provide a welcome and important protection for the citizens of this country — black and white, male and female—against the abuses that the Government may seek to impose on them.
My copy of the European convention on human rights is encased in a dark blue cover. I have a strong suspicion, having regard to the reluctance of the Home Secretary to commit himself further to ratify the right of personal petition to the Commission, that we shall soon see the European convention soaked in blue rinse; for I have a strong suspicion that the Government intend, but are concealing that intention from us, to remove the right of individual petition to the European Commission.
In 1966, a three-year experiment was begun by the then Labour Government. That experiment was renewed by a Conservative Government and later by a Labour Government. However, we are apparently still in the experimental stage, nearly 20 years after the Wilson Government first granted the right of individual petition. Before then it had taken that Government and others many years to come round to the view that the right should be available.
Why have we been in receipt only of the benefit of experimental periods during which we have had the right to petition? I welcome the answer that was given to an intervention of mine by the right hon. Member for Gorton that he at least is in favour of extending that right on a permanent basis. However, I doubt whether many of his hon. Friends would have the courage to say the same; it was obvious that he was making an off-the-cuff remark. We have grave reason to doubt the Government's commitment in view of what the Home Secretary has said. I remind the Home Secretary and the Minister of State that the only countries that do not give a right of individual 927 petition and that have ratified the convention are Greece, Turkey, Malta and Cyprus. I hope that we will not be added to that list.
The procedures need to be reformed, not least because of the backlog of cases. The British Government, who rightly have shown enthusiasm for cutting the backlog of cases in domestic courts, were not prepared to agree the reforms proposed by Scandinavian Governments at the recent conference of Ministers of the European Commission of Human Rights. I suspect that the British Government's refusal to speed up procedures is yet another attempt by them to stall the effectiveness of the European convention. The British Government have taken a minimalist approach to the convention and show all the signs of continuing to do so.
It is high time that the European convention was incorporated into domestic law. I challenge the Government and the Labour party to say that they will incorporate a European convention into British law so that domestic remedies are available for breaches of the European convention on human rights.
The European Court of Human Rights has made it clear that the United Kingdom is in breach of the convention by not providing domestic remedies. In international law the European Court of Human Rights is correct. I ask of the British Government a small but important step. I ask them to accept the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights and to bring the United Kingdom into line with the many countries that have taken the step of incorporating domestic remedies. Those remedies have proved effective and have not affected the efficacy of Government.
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg
Is there not another advantage of taking that action — that if the convention were the subject of litigation in the English courts it is likely that the judgments would be more in accord with our common law practices and customs?
§ Mr. Carlile
I agree with the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg). I should like a corpus of British law to develop which applies common law principles and incorporates those common law freedoms enshrined in the European convention.
I regret that the new rules do not adopt even one of the 56 recommendations by the Commission for Racial Equality in its report dated February 1985 on immigration control procedures. That followed careful investigation of procedures. The rule changes would have presented an ideal opportunity to rectify the inhumanity and degrading treatment experienced by people throughout the world under the current rules.
The new rules represent the most grudging adoption possible of the European Court of Human Rights rulings. They clearly demonstrate the British Government's lack of will to adhere to the principle of the European convention. The new rules fail to rectify many anomalies. One of the many anomalies which will still exist is that sex discrimination against women will continue in relation to work permits. Women work permit holders will not be able to bring in a foreign husband, but male work permit holders will be albe to bring in their foreign wives. How on earth can the Government say that such discrimination is fair or just and accords with the principles that British Governments have ratified in article 8 of the convention?
Under the new rules, many people face severe hardship. Immigrant couples will not be allowed to marry and live 928 in their parents' homes. They will not be allowed to receive state benefits of any type. If they fall upon hard times or become ill, they will risk being thrown out of the United Kingdom. I see that the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Dicks) nods with enthusiasm. What a disgrace! If such people fall ill or on hard times and hon. Members write to the Minister about their case, the chances are that even if he decides to change his mind it will be too late.
The legislation that deals with homeless persons will now specifically exclude immigrants under a new provision in paragraph 1 of the new rules which defines "public funds" as including accommodation under the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977. If people who have come here suddenly become homeless—that can arise for many reasons—they will face the prospect under the new rules of being sent back whence they came. That will apply even if they have been thrown out by a cruel spouse. The hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington is nodding again. That is absolutely disgraceful.
§ Mr. Terry Dicks (Hayes and Harlington)
The point that I am trying to make is that there is a limit to the burden that the people of this country can face, particularly when it comes to homelessness. Some of my constituents have to forgo access to council housing to make way for immigrants who come here almost destitute. It seems wrong that people should be able to come here, when they cannot go to any other country, to take up public funds whenever the need arises.
§ Mr. Carlile
The bigotry expressed by the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington means that he believes that even if people become unintentionally homeless they risk being sent home.
One of the new provisions enables an immigration officer to extract financial guarantees from a relative or friend of a person seeking entry to the United Kingdom. It specifies that such persons are liable under the Supplementary Benefit Act 1976. As a result, friends and relatives of would-be immigrants will effectively be blackmailed into giving financial guarantees simply because they are due to meet a friend or relative at the airport and are anxious to secure their entry.
Another serious effect of the changes in the rules was brought to my attention by a solicitor in London who specialises in assisting businesses and business people in obtaining entry clearance. Her practice is specifically engaged in providing the British economy with a boost from the entrepreneurial activities and the financial expertise of those who wish to bring their money and skills from outside the United Kingdom for the benefit of the United Kingdom. Substantial foreign companies and business people are affected.
I refer to the change in the rules for entry clearance procedure. The effect of those changes is that nationals of all countries must now make an application for entry clearance in the country where they are living. Up to now, people who were neither what are called visa nationals nor Commonwealth nationals could have an application made on their behalf by an agent in the United Kingdom. For example, a solicitor like my correspondent could apply on behalf of a business or business person for entry clearance
The existing procedure does not stop the Home Office from making the most strenuous investigation into the bona fides of any applicant, such as a business resident or 929 residents as the sole representative of a foreign company. It has always been open to the Home Office to require that such a person should submit to a consular interview, but there are two important effects of the change in entry clearance procedures in this category. First, a British agent such as a solicitor or an accountant in the City of London can no longer initiate applications of this sort for their foreign clients. Secondly, all those foreign clients are restricted to applying in the country where they live. This can be extremely inconvenient and is often highly inappropriate.
The change produces an absurd result, and I ask the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington to listen to this, because I am sure that he has an eye to the economic interests of the country even if he does not care a fig about immigrants. The change produces the nonsensical result that a visa national does not have to apply in the country in which he lives. That is to say that a Lebanese, an Iranian or an Iraqi does not have to apply in Lebanon, Iran or Iraq. However, a non-visa national, for example an American, can apply for entry clearance only in the country where he lives. A Canadian, a Commonwealth national, under this absurd rule, can apply only in the country in which he lives.
What is more, the letter of consent procedure is no longer available. Thus, it is no longer possible for someone acting on behalf of a foreign company, such as my correspondent, to apply on behalf of the company to this country by means of a letter of consent. So these rules have the effect of frustrating foreign investment in this country.
Further, the even greater nonsense in this change in entry clearance applications is that almost invariably, applications that are made to consular posts abroad are referred to the Home Office for decision, so that there will be no decrease in the work that has to be done in the Home Office, but merely an increase in the work that has to be done in consular posts. Therefore, there will result delays, with a consequent decline in investment in the British economy.
I ask the Minister of State, Home Office, who is here now, and the Home Secretary to examine this matter carefully before taking steps down the road that could lead to disincentives to investment in Britain in comparison with the incentives offered for foreign investment in countries that compete with us.
§ Mr. Waddington
The hon. and learned Gentleman is raising such a small point that we should dispose of it now. We thought that we were making a sensible change, because the effect of the present system is that our immigration department is used as a mere post office. Applications are lodged with us, but as the person is abroad and has to get his entry clearance abroad, we are merely a post box and the matter has then to be referred abroad, which is a complete waste of resources. That is why we are making the sensible change, which I thought that everybody in the House who understood it would acclaim.
§ Mr. Carlile
I have passed on to the hon. and learned Gentleman the views of those who are experienced in dealing with such applications. I ask the Government to examine the situation carefully before relying on the glib assertion that has just been made.
930 As a result of these rules, the Government will have failed signally to meet their treaty obligations under the European convention, because there will remain sex discrimination in family life, which is against the European convention. They will have failed because there will also remain the lack of domestic remedy, which is against the European convention and because of the lack of any provision for the independent right of enjoyment of family life in the United Kingdom in some cases, which, is also against the European convention.
Whether we be signatories to the European convention or not, whether we have domestic remedies under the European convention or not, until British immigration law honours the fundamental rights that are enshrined in the European convention, we shall not be able to hold up our heads in the world and say that we have a fair and just system of immigration regulation. These rules do not give us a fair and just system to govern immigration.
§ Mr. Nicholas Budgen (Wolverhampton. South-West)
The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) dealt with the two most important points in this debate—two of the sleeping dogs referred to by the right hon. Member for South Down (Mr. Powell) — namely, the details of these immigration rules and the intervention of the European Court of Human Rights.
I have watched or taken part in almost every debate on immigration since I got into the House in February 1974. One of the dogs slept soundly between 1974 and 1979. We were hardly able to debate immigration in that period, because the Labour Government of that time ran as strict an immigration policy as they were able to do, while on the other side the Tory Benches wanted to see ways in which immigration policy could be made stricter. In particular, Lord Whitelaw, who represented the liberal wing of the Tory party, was extremely sensitive to any allegations that either he or anybody else remotely connected with the Tory party might be, in the jovial word of the Labour party, racist.
If anybody made any reasonable suggestion about immigration from the Tory Benches between 1974 and 1979, and if it were then countered by the jibe of racist, the proper response for any well brought up politician was to burst into tears and keep quiet thereafter. It is at least healthier that we are now able to debate immigration and those very difficult questions of, first, the rights of individuals who want to come into the country or, having come into the country, to bring members of their family here, and, secondly, the authority of the state and the will of the majority. At least now we have an atmosphere in which we can debate these things.
I recollect the tension when we had those occasional debates between 1974 and 1979. I recollect the frisson of horror lest somebody from the Tory Benches might be accused of being immoderate. Now we debate these matters in the relatively unmalicious and noisy way that is part of the agreeable custom of this House. This is a much healthier atmosphere and it is an essential part of the duties of any domestic Parliament.
It is fortunate that since 1979 we have debated this issue on many occasions. Immigration rules were introduced immediately after the Tories won the general election in 1979. There were a number of debates about the later immigration rules. I am pleased to say that the Government suffered their only defeat on the Floor of the 931 House over the immigration rules as part of the compromises and disputes that are necessary in this place in order to reach a lawful accommodation between the demands of individuals and the majority voice of authority.
§ Ms. Clare Short
For the sake of the record, my understanding is that the rules about the right of women to bring into this country from abroad fiancés and husbands were changed twice between 1974 and 1979, so they must have been debated at least twice.
§ Mr. Budgen
It is perfectly true that the rules were changed. The way in which they were changed is a tribute to what I was saying about Dr. Summerskill. She was a Minister with whom I am sure the hon. Lady would find much to disagree. It is also a tribute to the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Callaghan) who understood well the resentment that relatively unrestrained immigration created in this country. As part of the cross-Bench conspiracy on this issue, there was very little debate of either the wider immigration issues or the details. I am sure that the hon. Lady is right in saying that there must have been a debate, but my recollection is that it was only a debate for an hour and a half after 10 o'clock. There was very little general debate on this most important subject. However, in both this Parliament and the preceding Parliament there have been many debates about immigration and at last we have achieved some form of domestic consensus about what our immigration policy should be. Now along comes the European Court of Human Rights and says that something further must be done.
§ Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
The memory of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South West (Mr. Budgen) is shockingly at fault. I was here when, on a Friday, Mrs. Jeger moved a private Member's Bill. It was not a one and a half hour debate. The hon. Gentleman must not say things like that; he must not think out loud wrongly.
§ Mr. Budgen
I do not understand the intervention of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery). I do not believe that any change in the rules which could have been made by the then Government would have arisen from a private Member's Bill that was introduced on a Friday. Perhaps he will forgive me if I say that according to my recollection of that period there was not so much debate then about immigration as there has been since 1979.
§ Mr. Flannery
An undertaking was given on a Friday by the Front Bench that the rules would be changed.
§ Mr. Budgen
I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman. At this moment he may be able to remember these matters more accurately than I. I am sure that he is well-respected for his encyclopaedic knowledge of the proceedings of this House, but perhaps I may be allowed to proceed to my second point, concerning the question asked by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile), whether the European convention on human rights should become part of our domestic law. The right hon. Member for South Down described the European convention as an international commitment, a description that I find very helpful. One of the difficulties in dealing with the European convention is that in this country it is described as though it were domestic law. A number of 932 very important consequences arise from that misdescription. It has none of the characteristics that are important for domestic law.
First, if one looks—and very few people have looked—at the details of the convention, one sees that it proceeds not by detailed directives about what shall be done in a particular circumstance but by way of general declarations. To give an example which may upset the Opposition, article 10.2 refers to the right to freedom of expression. It says that such a freedom may be exercised within the constraints of what is necessary in a democratic society.
Those of my constituents who disagree with the race relations legislation might be able to petition the European Court of Human Rights and argue, that for example, their right to freedom of expression had been constrained in breach of article 10 of the convention. That illustrates one of the great dangers of the convention: it does not have the quality of certainty which the law ought to have. My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary illustrated that point by saying that he believed that the present rules are not in breach of the convention. However, when he was a junior Home Office Minister I remember that the Home Secretary at that time, now Lord Whitelaw, assured the House time after time that the rules were in conformity with the European Convention on Human Rights and that there would be no trouble.
The right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) asserted that the present rules will be attacked with success. What is more, he said that a number of people in the pipeline have been denied some right or other that they wish to claim under the old rules. He said that they ought to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights and that perhaps they would succeed. He may be right. Even the most cursory glance at the convention shows that these articles are drafted in such general terms that there can be no certainty about how the court will rule in any future case.
It is worse than that. What has been described as an international commitment is misdescribed as domestic law. Extremely controversial decisions of a political nature are involved, and such decisions are inevitably attacked. When the law is attacked and when judges are attacked, damage is done to the fabric of our society.
If judges start to decide delicate questions about immigration rules and freedom of speech, and abrogate to themselves duties which should be discharged by domestic Parliaments, it is inevitable that they will be treated with the same lack of respect as politicians. We shall see that increasingly if by chance the plea that the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery makes, for the convention to be incorporated into British law, is granted.
Let us think of almost any circumstances in which a British judge might hold that he disagreed with a piece of domestic legislation or an action of the Government, adopt a highly controversial and political position, and then necessarily be attacked.
§ Mr. Alex Carlile
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, provided that judges are politically impartial, the danger of which he is speaking is greatly exaggerated? Does he agree that already we have seen judges steadfastly and determinedly making judgments on human rights and public law issues which have been courageous and maintained without any risk to the security of the judiciary?
§ Mr. Budgen
I believe that in general the way in which our English laws are framed, in narrow and specific terms, is to be commended, because it relieves judges of wide political discretion.
Article 14 of the convention, in very general terms, prohibits discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion. If judges are intervening on such wide terms, they are taking to themselves discretions which should be discharged by politicians and not by judges. One has only to think of the difficulties encountered when judges are exercising their narrow powers under trade union legislation. When they give a judgment adverse to the labour interest, they are often—and in my opinion dangerously—attacked. How much more would they be attacked if they were exercising a very much wider discretion under the convention?
If we go much further with support for the convention, there will be a further consequence. There are those in this House who are fervent supporters of our continued commitment to the EEC. As a matter of technicality, there is no connection between the Council of Europe and the European convention on human rights and the EEC, but in the public mind the convention is seen as a part of the EEC. The more the convention interferes, the more it makes a fool of itself, and the more we are seen to be ruled by foreign judges, the more resentment we shall find against the EEC. It is unjust but it will certainly happen. I agree that it is nothing to do with the EEC but I assert that it will be seen as such.
§ Mr. Budgen
It is not disingenuous. I am simply pointing out to those who believe that the idealism of Europe is best served by by the present structure of the EEC, that they should attempt to remove peripheral irritants such as the European convention on human rights.
I have learnt a good deal recently from distinguished Ministers in the Foreign Office about Foreign Office gobbledegook. We shall be told that we must avoid offending the international community and that we should remain an important part of the Christian and European heritage. Recently we have given notice of withdrawing from the International Labour Organisation. We could perfectly well withdraw from the European convention on human rights. We could perfectly well withdraw the right of individual petition or, better still, withdraw in total. I assert that it would have no effect on our relations with other European countries.
We have not done too badly in our respect for individual liberty. We do not necessarily have to feel particularly humble towards all other European nations when we compare our recognition of individual rights with countries where the authority of the State is paramount. If we were to withdraw, it would demonstrate that we still had some respect for and confidence in our Parliamentary institutions, and that we respected and had confidence in the innate good sense of the British people.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)
Order. Unless speeches are short, I am afraid that several hon. Members will be disappointed at the end of the debate.
§ 8.6 pm
§ Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)
The debate has cast light on three matters. First, both Conservative and Labour Governments have taken bad decisions on immigration laws. Secondly, there is no compulsion or requirement on the British Government to adopt or seek to adopt the changes in immigration law that they are proposing tonight. Thirdly, there is a great feeling among people who are subject to immigration laws that the changes proposed by the Government will substantially intensify their feeling of grievance.
For the Government to secure sexual equality in the way that they are choosing to do has been aptly described as a policy of equality of misery. I believe—and the view is shared by many others — that the proposed changes that we are being asked to approve tonight represent a very bad decision, which will do substantial further damage to family unity and to race relations in the United Kingdom.
As wives and female fiancées will be required to apply for entry clearance permission, a considerable number of women will be refused permission to come here. They will, like husbands and male fiancés wishing to come here, be subject to the primary purpose test. That test, in my view and in that of many others who come into contact with it regularly, is a grotesque administrative barrier deliberately designed by the Government to keep out black and Asian men, and it will be extended to keep out black and Asian women.
We all know that trick questions are now used by entry clearance officers to give them reasons for refusing applicants permission to come here. It is monstrous that the onus of proof lies with the applicant. It is even more monstrous that applicants should be asked to prove that which is incapable of proof — that their marriage is genuine and that the primary purpose of their application is not settlement here.
The primary purpose test, now used to refuse the overwhelming majority of male fiancés, is wholly discredited. I am very sorry that the Government, despite all their claims to support natural justice, have chosen not to remove the primary purpose test but to extend it substantially.
It is important for the Government tonight, and for the Minister in reply to the debate, to say to what extent they intend by legislation to lessen or remove altogether the guarantee given by section 1(5) of the Immigration Act 1971. If they fail to do that, they will leave great worry and uncertainty in the minds of many people who believe that that section of the Act guarantees their position.
Because of my concern for Pakistani nationals who are not British citizens, I sought advice from the Foreign Office about the protection that section 1(5) gives them. I was told:I should perhaps add that Pakistani citizens are, however, in a different position in regard to Section 1(5) of the Immigration Act 1971. The wife and children of a Pakistani citizen settled here on 1 January 1973 who became a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies under the provisions of the Pakistan Act would have their rights to enter the United Kingdom unconditionally protected. But where such a man has not become a British citizen and therefore ceased to be a Commonwealth citizen his wife and children would not benefit from the Section. The current changes will not affect this position.935 Therefore, I hope that the Minister who is to reply will clarify his intentions, because there are genuine and considerable reasons for anxiety.
§ Ms. Clare Short
There is one important way in which section 1(5) protects the Pakistani community. Boys born here of people who originated in Pakistan would not have to prove primary purpose if they sought to marry a woman from abroad.
§ Mr. Madden
I gladly accept my hon. Friend's helpful comment.
There must be concern about the much more stringent rules allowing the refusal of applications on the ground that it is believed that there is prospect of recourse to public funds.
It is also important for the Minister to give us information about how the rules are to be applied. If a man becomes unemployed during the months that he may be waiting for his wife or fiancée to be given permission to join him, will the application be refused?
Will the DHSS be asked to report when a person claims benefits? Will the Department of Employment be asked to tell the Home Office when a person registers as being available for employment? Will councils have to report when someone is given housing benefit?
How will all the information about someone's changing personal circumstances be monitored, reported and recorded? We know that the Home Office has become computerised in recent months, and that must be regarded as significant by many who are already worried about the way the police, the DHSS, the National Health Service and various public agencies seem to be an integral part of immigration control.
We must also be worried about the fact that the so-called Fowler reviews of social security have proposed residency tests. The Government suggest that some people will be able to apply for some benefits only if they have lived in this country for a certain number of years. All those proposals must be seen as part of a systematic pattern of restriction. The Minister must address the serious practical points raised by hon. Members on both sides of the House.
I asked whether the Foreign Office would welcome joint sponsorship applications and I was told by a senior official:You also asked about joint sponsorship to help take account of the maintenance and accommodation requirements. The new Rules will require the couple to satisfy the Entry Clearance Officer, or the Secretary of State, that there will be adequate accommodation for themselves and their dependants without recourse to public funds in accommodation of their own or which they occupy themselves, and that they will be able to maintain themselves and their dependants adequately without recourse to public funds. What is at issue is the couple's ability to make adequate provision for themselves and their dependants. We would normally need to be satisfied that they could do so from their own resources. Our present thinking is that assistance such as a loan from a relative or friend would not necessarily meet the requirements, but I suspect we shall have to see how the Rules work out in practice.That is not good enough. We are dealing with people who are seeking to marry or are married and are genuinely worried about how their applications will be processed and whether they will be approved. It is not good enough for a Government Department to say that we shall have to see how things work out. We need information and guidance now. Our constituents who are directly involved in these matters are asking how the rules will apply to them.
936 I should like the Minister who is to reply to clarify paragraph 99 of the new rules:An application for variation of leave may also be refused if the person has failed to honour any declaration or undertaking given orally or in writing as to the intended duration and purpose of his stay".Does that mean that if a visitor says at an interview that he or she wishes to stay for three months and subsequently varies the application either to remain longer or to stay as a student, such applications are more likely to be refused? The Minister must answer such questions.
I shall not dwell on the worries about children which have been voiced by a number of hon. Members. There is deep anxiety about the effect of the new rules on children.
There is also concern about how mothers whose husbands have applied to join them will be affected by the stringent conditions on support and maintenance. I can conceive of circumstances where women who are anxious to avoid being held to have had recourse to public funds and have great difficulty in maintaining a family while working will have to make arrangements for their children to be cared for by others or to be sent overseas pending consideration of the husband's application.
The proposals will divide more and more families, even though the Government have said, certainly before the general election, that they are committed to family unity. The proposals will mean that a number of men and women will have to apply for entry visas and wait months or, in some cases years, for interviews.
The Home Secretary made it abundantly clear that he had no intention of increasing the number of entry clearance officers. Therefore, the prospect is that the queues will get ever longer and will be used as an administrative means of preventing those with a right to entry from exercising that right. Even this mean and nasty Government ought to be deeply ashamed of the proposals, which will do serious damage to race relations and will cause great worry among many ethnic communities throughout the country.
The Government will come to regret these shabby proposals, which represent a major further restriction on an already tight and restricted set of immigration laws, rules and procedures. They are firm, but in the view of a growing number of people, they are grossly unfair.
§ Mr. T. H. H. Skeet (Bedfordshire, North)
About 25 per cent. of the electorate in my area of Bedford come from abroad and, if they carefully examine these rules, they will not find them of grew: assistance.
In the future, a number of references may be made to the European Court of Human Rights. My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) has said that we could withdraw, but I think that it would be a great tragedy if we threatened to withdraw from that institution. The European Court could guarantee the rights that many hon. Members and the nation would support.
In dealing with immigrants, one is dealing not with statistics and charts but with humanity—individuals who are caught in a difficult position. Recently, a young lady told me that she had been trying for five years to get her fiancé into the United Kingdom but had not succeeded. She had been hit by severe rules. I accept that immigration rules are essential to protect the United Kingdom's, economy, but what will happen to that girl? Will she have to go to the end of the list and start again?
937 Under paragraph 41, the onus is on the applicant to prove his or her primary purpose in wishing to come to the United Kingdom. This primary purpose rule is being retained ferociously. Sub-paragraph (d) refers toadequate maintenance and accommodation without recourse to public funds".However, in arguing one's case on sub-paragraph (d), one can fall foul of sub-paragraph (a). I do not suggest that the entry clearance officers have to be lawyers, but the questions that they may ask are very sophisticated. A person may be asked, "Would you like to come to the United Kingdom because it is a desirable place?" Obviously, anyone would say yes, but that answer could be interpreted in such a way as to limit entry under the primary purpose rule.
The individual is inveigled into giving the appropriate answers. It is then a matter of interpreting them. A young man who is asked whether he has made any arrangements to work or to get accommodation in the United Kingdom may say that he has worked matters out. However, he is convicted by his own words under sub-paragraph (a). The Government should understand that. A clear statement of intention is needed to ensure that there is justice in the British courts.
I pay tribute to my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State, who has been a great help to me in Bedford and has sympathetically listened to the cases that I put to him. One case involved Miss Kashmir Kaur Badham who was trying to get her fiancé, Mr. Sunil Kumar, into the United Kingdom, failed, appealed and won his appeal. One would have thought that he could then stay in the United Kingdom, but the Department appealed to the tribunal and won.
My hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State said:we look carefully at every determination to see whether or not the adjudicator might have misdirected himself, either on a point of law or of fact, or could be considered to have been unreasonable in his conclusions. In our view, based on a previous Tribunal determination, the adjudicator in this case erred in attaching too great importance to his conclusion that the proposed marriage was a genuine one and not giving sufficient attention to the question of the primary purpose of the proposed marriage.I had thought that we wanted to keep out the non-genuine cases and let the genuine ones through, but in this case the adjudicator fell between two stools. He spent his time primarily considering whether the marriage was genuine. I think that he discovered that it was, but fell foul of the Department's views on primary purpose.
These revised rules are being put to the nation for acceptance. Immigration rules must be firm. I am totally against anyone coming to the United Kingdom who tries to pull the wool over the eyes of the nation. I agree that we have great unemployment difficulties. Nevertheless, I ask my hon. Friend the Minister of State to examine the rules and to ensure that they are genuine in their context.
It is perhaps a good feature of British justice that we can be taken to a European court of law that may suggest that our aims are wrong. On this occasion, to comply, we are making the rules a little more stringent as we go along. There is the primary purpose rule, which is a major hurdle, the original intention criterion, which is extremely disturbing, the stipulation that a couple must intend living together permanently—I have no objection to that—and the rule that the parties must have met. In the latter case, 938 the girl may have to spend money to go overseas to see the gentleman concerned, even though that is not the custom of their ethnic group.
In addition to all those requirements that must be satisfied, it is necessary foradequate maintenance and accommodation without recourse to public fundsto be available before and after the marriage. Women do not receive the same salaries as men, and it may be difficult for them to succeed in convincing the entry clearance officers on that score. All this means that women will face an uphill task in proving their case. Their convictions may be genuine and they may want to live permanently with their fiancés like any other European, yet they may be defeated on grounds of purpose regardless of conviction. Is that right?
§ Mr. Tony Lloyd (Stretford)
I congratulate the hon. Member for Bedfordshire, North (Mr. Skeet) on his brave and informative speech. I shall watch with interest how he votes. He made a number of points along similar lines to my argument, which I shall develop further.
I understand the arguments about the European Court and about Britain ratifying the European convention, if only because the convention provides an important appeals system for dealing with the cases that generated this change in the immigration rules. We must accept that this is an extraordinarily slow process. British citizens should not have to rely on it to obtain justice in terms of non-sexist and non-racist immigration laws. The crux of this debate is the fact that the immigration rules have been found to be sexist.
Recently the Home Secretary was described in The Guardian as a secret liberal. That staggered many people who read the article. If he is a "secret liberal", his failure lies in giving in to the weaknesses of certain Conservative Members who put the racist lobby in the Tory party to the fore instead of the more civilised voices in the party who want, as I do, a Home Secretary who puts the concept of race relations high on his list of priorities, rather than these tough and inhuman immigration controls which run counter to good race relations and are perceived as such by the different minority communities.
Following press reports of the European Court's decision, a number of young women told me that they believed that it meant that the Government would change the rules to relieve them of the burden of the primary purpose rule when their fiancés had fallen foul of that rule. I said that the Government would not do that, and that their natural instinct was to make the system nastier and more difficult for people, not to operate it in a more humane and satisfactory way. Indeed, that is precisely what the Government have done.
It is incumbent on the Minister to give us adequate details of the proposed changes to section 1(5) of the 1971 legislation. Many hon. Members have requested that. It is staggering that the Home Secretary should announce that in principle he wishes to introduce changes, yet not to say what those changes will be. He has left us guessing, and all the natural worries and fears arise. The Minister may be able to announce those changes—if so, the Home Secretary should have announced them — but if he cannot, the House is entitled to know why the Home Secretary should run that rabbit.
939 My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) will know that today I introduced a Bill which will give citizens of Pakistan resident in the United Kingdom the same treatment as those from Commonwealth countries. Our immigration nationality laws should move in that direction, not in that pursued by the Government.
Many individuals are massively worried about the catch-all rule which means that immigrants do not have recourse to public funds, and the fact that the regulations include the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977. What would happen if someone whose fiancée or spouse came to Britain and who in the first 12 months became homeless? How would they be affected by the new regulations? If someone brought in a two-year-old child and 18 years later that child lived on supplementary benefit, would the sponsor be responsible for repaying the supplementary benefit payments? If so, it means that that individual can never become a full citizen. He will be a marginal or partial citizen and will not enjoy the benefits of our community. That would be not merely ridiculous, but a complete disgrace.
The hon. Member for Bedfordshire, North and my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West spoke forcefully about the extension of the primary purpose rule. As it stands, it is a grotesque invention. It is an insult and is offensive to many people. To talk of increasing its ambit to include people who are not at present caught by it is a disgrace.
Hon. Members who have dealings with people whose fiancées attempt to come through the entry clearance system and fall foul of it know the heartache that is caused, partly because of the protracted procedure when it is found that a person is in conflict with the rule. That person must face the adjudicators and the appeal tribunal, but ultimately the decision rests with the Minister. I do not envy him his role. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) said that the Minister exercised his discretion admirably within the teens of poor laws. It is a moot point whether that is still admirable, but the Minister can defend himself. He has my sympathy in having to operate laws, which, almost by definition, try to exclude people on an arbitrary basis.
To say that 40 per cent. of applicants for entry clearance are refused under the primary purpose rule suggests that the rule is not a measure of the state of a marriage, but is used as a crude device to keep out people whose purpose is often genuine.
The representatives of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office freely admitted to the Race Relations and Immigration Sub-Committee of the Home Affairs Committee that applicants were asked hypothetical questions. The only reason for that is to catch them in the trap that we have been discussing tonight. It is not a test of the validity of a person's state of mind. That is almost unknowable. When an individual falls foul of the test, it becomes virtually impossible for him to prove that it is not the primary purpose of his marriage to enter the United Kingdom. For that reason many people, including many of my constituents, find the test objectionable.
Until today it was objectionable that women could come to my surgery and ask, "Why could my brother bring in a fiancée several years ago without any of this rigmarole, which is clearly designed to exclude people, on the grounds not of the genuineness of a marriage, but of racial origins, when I cannot?" I shall now have to tell 940 them that although their older brother did that several years ago, their younger brother will now fall foul of the same disgraceful trap which the Government introduced and which has caught them. The load in our constituency surgeries will double. Apart from the racism of the rule, many genuine human beings are caught up in a system, which they are powerless to change and which will mar their lives to a colossal extent. It is extraordinary to hear Conservative Members justifying the rule's place in our laws.
The impact of these regulations is extraordinary. The Home Secretary is responsible not merely for the administration of immigration rules, but for race relations. The ineptness and devastatingly bad impact of these regulations on race relations means that every hon. Member who has any interest in our society should vote against them tonight.
§ Mr. John Watts (Slough)
My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) explained with his customary eloquence that the problems which led the Government to introduce these changes in the rules may have been the consequence of a lack of effective control over immigration by an alien system of law. I hope that when my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary announces the Government's decision on the future jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights, the decision will reassert the pre-eminence of Parliament as the source of English law. I do not intend to trespass for long on that ground, which is clearly the preserve of hon. Members who are banisters. I shall refer to two other aspects of the changes in the rules—the accommodation and maintenance provisions, and the primary purpose rule.
I give a particularly warm welcome to the tightening of the requirements of accommodation and maintenance, especially to the inclusion of provision for housing and the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977 within the definition of recourse to public funds. For a long time it has been a source of justifiable resentment that some newly arrived immigrants can seek financial support and accommodation at public expense. It is nothing short of a scandal that a person can fly thousands of miles without making adequate arrangements for accommodation in advance, and then present himself as homeless and claim that his homelessness is unintentional. I have had considerable experience of such scandalous instances during my years as leader of the council of the London borough of Hillingdon. The council, which has most of Heathrow airport within its boundaries, was forced to shoulder the burden of those arriving at the airport without accommodation and claiming assistance under the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977.
My constituency of Slough is another area where there is considerable pressure on housing and where the operation of the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act exacerbates the present difficulties, which are largely the consequence of the considerable prosperity of the area. This prosperity makes it a magnet for people from all areas of the United Kingdom and from many parts of the world. Being cognisant of the problems, in my election address of two years ago I asserted the right of British citizens to live in this country with their families. I advocated much more stringent conditions on the provision of adequate accommodation for dependants. I contended that there 941 should be adequate means of support without recourse to public funds. I am especially pleased that these matters feature in the rule changes that are before us.
I am pleased also that the primary purpose rule has been retained and that so-called sexual discrimination has been overcome by extending the rule to female fiancées. Reference has been made to the down side of the primary purpose rule, which sometimes creates difficulties for those who are wishing genuinely to enter into a marriage and who are not using marriage as a means of circumventing control. These people find themselves caught by the operation of the rule. I accept that there are hard cases but instances have come to my notice in my constituency in which I have concluded that a wrong decision was made on the primary purpose rule. I have had some extensive correspondence — fairly strong on occasions — with my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State. There are instances when even after his careful and sympathetic consideration I could not be convinced that the decision that was reached was the right one.
§ Mr. Lawler
I do not wish to detract from the tribute which my hon. Friend paid. However, I am sure that my hon. Friend will wish to take this opportunity to pay a great and sincere tribute to the staff of my hon. and learned Friend's private office, which goes largely unrecognised. Those of us who have dealings with his staff have great regard for their commitment to their work. If the Government were proposing to increase their salaries by 17 per cent., I am sure that no one would have any hesitation in supporting the proposal.
§ Mr. Watts
I am willing in general terms to join my hon. Friend in that tribute. I am not sure about the last part of his suggestion.
I acknowledge that there are hard cases where the primary purpose rule seems to impinge unfairly. I suggest that it is regrettable but inevitable that in the operation of any rule or regulation anomalies will arise. The existence of hard cases does not necessarily undermine the principles on which the rule is based and the purposes which it is there to serve.
I shall present the other side of the coin and suggest some of the benefits that can flow from the operation of the primary purpose rule. I shall draw from my constituency experience. Over the past 12 months, despite the stringent requirements of the rule, it is clear that abuses continue. In the past 12 months, four abandoned wives have sought my assistance. They have complained that their husbands, whom they brought into the country as finances, were prepared to stay with them only long enough to obtain their own permanent leave to remain here. At the end of two years, when there was no further risk that they could be required to leave the country, they either kicked their wives out or walked out on their wives. Four abandoned wives have asked me whether I can arrange for my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Home Office to remove their husbands, which, of course, cannot be done.
§ Mr. Tony Lloyd
If that has been the effect of the primary purpose rule in the hon. Gentleman's experience, how will it help to retain the rule?
§ Mr. Watts
In spite of the stringent requirements of the rule, anomalies and abuses still arise. That suggests to me that there is a need to retain the rule. If it were to be removed, the incidence of abuse would be much greater. There is a real sense in which the effective operation of the rule can provide protection for girls from being drawn into marriage merely to circumvent immigration control. In another case it was clear to me that the girl living in Britain had deliberately given the wrong answer when interviewed about the intentions of her fiancé as a means of escape from an arranged marriage into which she did not wish to enter. There again, the operation of the primary purpose rule served as a protection for a girl, a British citizen, who would otherwise have found herself being drawn into a marriage which she did not wish to contract.
§ Mr. Dicks
My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Lawler) has paid tribute to the staff of the private office of my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State. Immigration officers have had to suffer abuse from Labour Members and I pay tribute to the work of the officers. They have a delicate and difficult job in determining the honesty and integrity of those who enter the country. It should be put on record that the officers do a fantastic job. I accept that they are paid a reasonable salary, but most of their judgments are right.
§ Mr. Watts
We cannot spend too much of the time that remains for the debate in paying tributes to Ministers and their officials. My hon. Friend has made his point well.
We must consider the primary purpose rule objectively. It must be recognised that in some instances it works unfairly against genuine applicants. Ministers are sometimes able to help our constituents and to substitute a fairer decision. We must consider also the protection that the rule offers against the abuse of marriage as a means of circumventing our necessary immigration control. It is entirely right that we should continue to seek to prevent that abuse. Our fair and firm immigration control is of prime importance in maintaining good community relations, especially in constituencies with large ethnic communities, such as Slough, where onefifth or more of the electorate are from the New Commonwealth.
§ Ms. Clare Short (Birmingham, Ladywood)
The changes in rule that we are debating have been introduced to comply with a ruling of the European Court of Human Rights. In fact, the Government are failing to comply with the court's ruling and are showing quite serious disrespect for the convention. The court found Britain guilty of sex discrimination in its immigration rules because men and women were treated differently in their rights to marriage and to live in the United Kingdom. The Government claim to be putting right the discrimination but they are doing so in the meanest possible way by, in future, treating men as badly as women. In practice, that will not be the case.
The Government have made one minor and inescapable concession, which is that women who are settled in Britain but not citizens will be free to apply to bring their foreign husbands to join them. But the Government have the primary purpose rule up their sleeve and will be able to ensure that few women will be able to avail themselves of 943 that opportunity. The levelling down which applies to men is that in future their fiancées will have to apply for entry certificates.
The current waiting time in the Indian subcontinent is 12 months, and the Home Secretary has made it clear that the Government have no intention of putting in extra entry certificate officers. That is a deliberate use of queueing and delay to restrict the theoretical legal right that people have. A leak to The Guardian a short time ago said that the Government were deliberately using long queues as a form of immigration control, and here we have another example.
Another test is that the couple should have met, and that currently applies to women. That is unobjectionable and desirable. In the evolving reshaping of the custom of arranged marriages in the Asian community, it is desirable that the young couple should have met each other before deciding to marry. The primary purpose rule is being extended to men seeking to bring their fiancées from abroad. Like so many other Members who have spoken, I agree that the primary purpose rule is the objectionable feature of the Government's immigration policy and it is operating in a way which discriminates crudely but effectively' against black people and poor people.
What is being done in our name under the primary purpose rule is shameful. In future, the 12 months condition will apply to men and their wives will not be able to give them permanent right to remain unless the couple are together 12 months after their marriage. That rule is acceptable in relation to husbands coming to join women, because there are a few cases of abuse; the hon. Member for Slough (Mr. Watts) tried to draw attention to that. Such arguments in relation to immigration can get fantastically distorted because in any community and in all cultures and traditions some marriages fail. The 12 months condition is a protection and it is not highly undesirable that it should be applied to men.
Another tranche of the new provisions will mean that both men and women will be significantly worse off than they have been hitherto. My first objection is the extension of the meaning of the phrase "resort to public funds". The inclusion of housing benefit as a recourse to public funds will apply to many families working and struggling in low-paid occupations. The Government are keen on lowering wages in low-paid jobs through the process of privatisation and getting rid of the wages councils. As I recall, in Birmingham in 1979 about 11 per cent. of families in council houses were getting rent and rate rebates. Now the number of council house tenants getting housing benefit in Birmingham is more than 70 per cent.
That means two things — a massive increase in unemployment, which affects all communities in Birmingham, including the Asian community, and a massive increase in rent levels, which the Government have deliberately pushed up. Large numbers of Asian families who are receiving housing benefit are hardworking citizens and they will lose entitlement because of this extension of the definition of what recourse to public funds means.
The Government have said that housing under the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act will be seen as a recourse to public funds. That is despite a decision by one of the Government's adjudicators in 1982 in the case of Bakare, which established thathousing under the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act constituted a 'facility' to which those who have entered this country 944 conditionally on lack of recourse to public funds are entitled. The Adjudicator (Professor Jackson, now Chief Adjudication Officer) argued that public housing does not enjoy a sufficient degree of public subsidy to constitute `recourse to public funds'. If an immigrant were to be denied access to public housing on grounds of public subsidy, logically they must also be denied the enjoyment of services such as public transport or refuse disposal—all of which the person concerned will themselves pay for through their rent and rates. Yet the Home Secretary would not dream of including such services under the definition of 'recourse to public funds'".Perhaps there are some Conservative Members who wish to deny immigrants the right to have their bins emptied and would look upon that as a recourse to public funds.
The Government are reversing a decision which went against them in the courts. I notice that the Minister did not respond to the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) when he said that, under the new ruling on accommodation, people will not be entitled to live with their families. As he and any of those who have substantial Asian communities will know, in their strong extended families it is a tradition that a young couple will live in the home with the family until they have one or two children of their own, at which time the family will club together to buy them a house.
I hope the Minister will give us an assurance that there is nothing in the new wording on the provision of accommodation which says that accommodation that they own themselves or which they occupy would rule out such a couple living with their parents in the early years of their marriage.
A further extension of the public fund ruling relates to family income supplement. As I have said, the Government are abolishing the wages councils and doing everything to exert a downward pressure on the wage levels of low-paid workers. Asian people will be significantly affected by this, because they have come to work in Britain in low-paid jobs. If such families claim the family income supplement to which they are entitled alongside their neighbours, they may lose all sorts of rights to live in the country under the extension of the public funds provision. That implies that over time there will develop a sub-class of people who will not feel entitled to claim housing benefit or family income supplement. That is an undesirable development that has not previously been seen in Britain. When people settled here, they had absolutely equal rights to all benefits.
The Minister should tell us how long this will go on. If someone comes here as an 18-year-old for marriage, has a good job and works for 20 years and then there is an accident in the family or he loses his job, and perhaps at the time when he got settlement he signed an undertaking that he would not have recourse to public funds, is the Minister suggesting that such insecurity should continue for such a long time? For how long is the Minister going to make this requirement stick? I hope that the Minister will give us a clear answer on that.
This levelling down of the rights of men and women who seek to marry someone from abroad will fail to comply with the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights. That is because section 1(5) of the Immigration Act 1971 states that nothing in the rules made under the Act can make it more difficult for the wives and children of men settled before 1 January 1973 to come into the country to join their husbands.
That means that all the palaver and levelling down, and all the hurt that will flow from these changes in the rules, will not comply with the judgment and 70 or 80 per cent. 945 of the men of marriageable age living in Britain are covered by that undertaking. Therefore, cases will go back immediately to the European Court of Human Rights, which will find that the Government have failed to comply with the judgment because the bulk of men are treated differently from women in their right to marry a foreigner.
It is not possible that the Government have not been given legal advice that this whole process is questionable and that they are failing to comply with the judgment. The Home Secretary told us that he intends to go even further in the meanness and nastiness to which the Government are willing to resort. I hope that the Minister will clarify the remark that the Government intend to legislate to repeal section 1(5) of the Immigration Act 1971. I hope that he will make it clear what the Government intend and whether the intention is to breach that undertaking, given by successive Home Secretaries and Ministers of State ever since the passage of the 1971 Act.
The Government have not complied with the judgment. There will still be the crude sex discrimination between men and women. They have simply levelled down the rights of both men and women. Further, they have not complied with the judgment, in that they have provided no remedy for those who are not getting their full rights under the European convention. Again, I think that that is deliberate. The appropriate part of the convention could have been incorporated in the immigration rules, but then people could have obtained justice fairly quickly. The Government know quite cynically that it will take four or five years for anyone to bring a case before the European Court, so that these unacceptable rules which do not comply with the convention or with the ruling of the court will see them through until the next general election.
The primary purpose of the rule has been referred to by a number of hon. Members. However, a number of Government supporters who do not have substantial Asian communities in their constituencies do not understand what is at stake. We are talking not about a rule which excludes marriages of convenience or bogus marriages but about a rule which the Minister has admitted again and again excludes people who are genuinely married, have children and intend to live together for the rest of their lives.
The rule requires what is outrageous and unprovable. A man coming to join a woman—in future it will apply to some women as well — has to prove to the immigration officer that it is not the primary purpose of his marriage to come and live in the United Kingdom. It is assumed that it must be his primary purpose, and he has to prove that it is not. But that is almost incapable of proof. The line of questioning by our entry certificate officers is roughly as follows: "When did you first get your passport? Do you have relatives who live in the United Kingdom? Are they having a reasonable life in the United Kingdom? Do you hope to have a reasonable life in the United Kingdom?"
What young man planning to marry and to begin his married life will say in any country at any time that he expects his life to be very bad? Everyone, everywhere, hopes to have a better life in the future. It is in the nature of the arrangement that young men happy to come and live and work in the United Kingdom agree to marry young women already living here. Those young men, of course, say, for example, that they have relatives in the United 946 Kingdom, that some of them are doing well and that they themselves hope to do well, and they are then refused admission because it is said that their primary purpose is to come and live in the United Kingdom. The trick questions put to them are disreputable and disgraceful.
In recent months, I have become aware of even worse decisions. I have seen a decision where the couple were well established and it was not at all clear that they offended the primary purpose rule. There is a hardening of attitudes, and the extension of the rule to even more young couples will bring all of us into disrepute.
The Government and their supporters say repeatedly that an awful lot of people in Britain do not want immigrants and have to be appeased. They belittle Britain's black community and decent people who know that immigration for work is over but do not require that the relatives of black people who came here to work should be treated with such disrespect when they come to visit, to look after elderly parents or to marry. It is time that the Government had the guts to give a dignified lead to public opinion rather than seek to appease those low-level attitudes.
§ 9.4 pm
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg (Grantham)
I understand that it is for the convenience of the House that the replies should begin at 10 minutes past 9. That being so, my points will have to be made briefly.
I agree with the last part of what the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) said about the primary rule, and I shall deal with that in the course of my brief remarks.
It is obviously right that this Government or any Government should pursue an immigration policy which is both firm and effective, but at the same time it is essential that the immigration policy thus pursued does not constitute an undue infringement on the rights of individuals. If I have to choose between a firm immigration policy and a policy which does not constitute an undue infringement of the rights of individuals, I prefer the latter to the former. I am always in favour of human rights when I have to contrast them with the apparatus of state control. Therefore, I approach the rules, revised as they are, with a degree of scepticism.
I wish to make three brief points only about the rules. First, I believe that the onus is wrong. I do not believe that the burden of satisfying the entrance clearance officer that marriage is not the primary purpose for admission to the United Kingdom should be upon the applicant. That burden, it seems to me, is wrong. I think that the burden should be the other way round. Once the entrance clearance officer has been satisfied that the parties actually intend to live together permanently, then the certificate should be issued, unless the entrance clearance officer is satisfied that the thing is a fraud, if I may put it loosely.
The reason that I come to that view is essentially twofold. First, I am concerned with principles of natural justice. I agree with the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood, who said that it is very difficult to prove a negative. So long as the burden in the negative form rests as it is, the consequence of an error necessarily causes more injustice than would be caused if the burden was the other way round.
I have another three minutes only, and I wish to make two other points. Even if it be right to extend the rather tighter provisions to what are engaged marriages but not 947 marriages, I do not believe that it is right to extend the same rules to marriages themselves, as is contemplated by paragraph 46 of the new rules. Once the parties have entered into a marriage, they have changed their personal status. Although I am perfectly prepared to believe that some people will do that for an improper purpose—to enter the United Kingdom not intending really to be married—I think that, in the nature of things, that must be a very rare occurrence. Applying the test which I always apply—how do I rate personal liberty as against the convenience of the state?—I always prefer personal liberty. That being so, I doubt the wisdom or the necessity of extending these new and rather tighter rules to marriages as opposed to engagements.
My last point is not one which will commend itself to the hon. Member for Ladywood. It relates to whether the parties to a marriage have met. Once the entry clearance officer is satisfied that the parties to a marriage intend to live together permanently, it matters not at all whether the parties to the marriage have met. I personally would not have wanted to marry in those circumstances, but that is to impose my own moral standards and my own qualitative judgment upon other peoples' values and other peoples' judgments, and I do not see why we should impose our own cultural values upon another community operating a different set of cultural values.
I quite see why we should not allow arranged marriages to be fraudulent, in the sense that we should not allow them to be the method of getting in but, once people are intent on living together, and have so satisfied the entrance clearance officer, I do not give two hoots whether they have met or not. That seems to me to be a matter of culture. Perhaps I do not agree with it, but then who am I to impose my concept of culture upon them?
Having said these things, I personally believe that the rules go further than need be, and I very much hope that the Government will reconsider them.
§ 9.9 pm
§ Mr. Alfred Dubs (Battersea)
The changes in the immigration rules are a consequence of what the Government and the country must have seen as a major defeat for the Government's immigration policies at the hands of the European Court of Human Rights. The Home Secretary's speech was complacent and he did the House a disservice by not trying to justify some of the significant new provisions embraced by the rules. If the Home Secretary had listened to the debate for part of the afternoon, he would have known that we lacked an explanation of or justification for some of the points in the new rules.
I fully understand how embarrassing all this must be for the Government. It is an embarrassment that other people predicted as the European Court made its decision. Some Conservative Back Benchers have suggested that the way out of the dilemma is to move the goal posts — to remove the right of personal appeal to the European Commission of Human Rights. The alliance, by contrast, decided that the goal posts ought to be made of firm and immovable concrete.
The Government's response has not been to remove the restrictions on women but to decrease the rights of men. When we consider what happened in today's debate we shall realise that it would have been much better if the Home Secretary had brought forward the immigration rules in draft form so that we could have influenced some 948 of the details, if not the principles. I believe that the Home Secretary will agree that several points of detail have emerged which he will find it difficult to justify when he implements the rules.
Time and again, the Government and some Conservative Back Benchers imply that Labour party policy is quite different from what it is. We are not in favour, and never have been, of unrestricted entry. We have said consistently that our aim in government will be to remove the discrimination on sexual and racial grounds which exists in many aspects of our immigration rules and in the Immigration Act 1971. That is not unrestricted entry, but giving justice to the practices under which we allow people to come to Britain.
Many of us welcome the one improvement embodied in the rules—the reluctant concession which means that it will no longer be necessary for women living here to be citizens if they are to be joined by their husbands. They will simply have to be settled here. When I asked the Minister of State about the consequence of the changes in the rules, he suggested that there would be an increase in men from the Indian subcontinent of 600, and an increase of men from other parts of the world of 1,500, making a total of 2,100. He then said that other changes would lead to a reduction in numbers, but he was unable to say how many.
One of our anxieties is to know how the other provisions will be implemented, not because we are worried about the arithmetic of the changes but because we are worried about the principles. We know that the Minister of State and the Home Secretary are concerned about the arithmetic resulting from the changes that they are introducing.
My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) and others satisfactorily demolished the primary purpose rule. It is clear that that rule is not concerned with the genuineness of the marriage. A marriage may be absolutely genuine but the primary purpose rule will still prevent the partners from getting together and living in Britain. In a short but effective speech, the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) mentioned the burden of proof and those ominous words, "unless the Secretary of State is satisfied" which lay down the need for people to prove something which they are unable to prove. Nobody would be able to prove it. I do not believe that the Home Secretary or the Minister could do it.
§ Mr. Dubs
The Home Secretary may talk about 60 per cent., but the fact that some people manage to persuade officials does not mean that the proposition is provable. Perhaps officials accept particular facts about two people, but I contend that the proposition is not provable.
In 1982, before the onus of proof combined with the primary purpose applied in the way that it does today, 82 per cent. of men refused entry who wished to join wives or women for the purpose of marriage were turned down for objective reasons such as whether the bride or wife was a British citizen or whether the partners to a marriage had met previously. The figure for the latest year for refusals of men wanting to come to Britain for the same purpose was 87 per cent. on subjective grounds, mainly concerning the motives of marriage.
The primary purpose rule is now the major barrier to men coming to this country to join their wives or fiancées. 949 We have turned the officials concerned with these procedures into people doing something for which they have had no training or experience—they must look into the motives of marriage. No hon. Member would like his or her marriage to be subjected to that sort of scrutiny by bureaucrats who have had no training for that function.
The provision regarding recourse to public funds is an area on which the Home Secretary, out of courtesy to the House, could have said a little more. The definition of public funds is clearly stated and wide-ranging and includes supplementary benefit, housing benefit, family income supplement and housing under the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977. As I understand it, the system will be that for the first 12 months, until conditions have been removed, anybody receiving public funds will be in breach of the immigration rules and liable to removal. Thereafter, once the conditions have been removed — and this is to apply in perpetuity — the sponsor of that person would have to reimburse the Exchequer for any supplementary benefit that had been claimed and received by the person he was sponsoring. The onus of proof in the whole arrangement is either with the entry certificate officer or, for people already in this country, with the Secretary of State.
A number of major criticisms apply to those provisions. The first is the method by which people will be able to demonstrate to officials that they will not have to have recourse to public funds. The experience of immigration procedures generally, as evidenced by the report of the Commission for Racial Equality and from other sources, suggests that that process of scrutiny and interrogation is liable to be arbitrary and a means whereby people seeking to come into this country can be prevented from doing so. It would be difficult for Parliament or an individual Member of Parliament to find a means of querying the procedures under which someone is refused entry under that heading.
The second major criticism is the Catch 22 provision, which has already been mentioned by one or two of my hon. Friends. If a man is seeking to enter this country, he will either have a job already lined up—in which case he is caught by the primary purpose rule because people will say that he is coming here merely for employment purposes—or, if he does not have a job, he is liable to be a burden on public funds and will be prevented from entering the country. For the life of me I find it difficult to see how people can avoid that Catch 22 problem unless the Minister issues guidelines to prevent that happening. I hope that he will comment on that when he replies to the debate.
My third criticism is that the recourse to public funds provision will last for ever. It seems that there will never be a time in the life of the individual when he or she will not be subject to that provision. Indeed, sponsors may become unemployed or even pensioners, yet the burden will still hold good. People who are legitimately and legally here will be denied rights that exist for their fellow citizens. That is extraordinary and unacceptable.
My fourth major criticism concerns the invidious position in which local authorities will be placed, and I have a constituency case which exemplifies the point. If it is necessary for an individual to have more housing 950 accommodation than he or she now has—if the person in question is to be joined by his or her spouse—that person is again in a Catch 22 situation.
If more accommodation is needed, the local authority will not provide it until the other members of the family have arrived in the country. On the other hand, the Home Office will say, "Until that accommodation is available, there is no evidence that the people will not be a public burden because housing is not there for them."
Should the Government be in doubt about that, I cite the case to which I referred in my constituency. A man wishes to be joined by his children and needs more accommodation. The local authority has said that that accommodation will not be forthcoming until the children have arrived. The Home Office has said that the children will not be allowed in until the accommodation is available.
My fifth criticism is of the processes by which these matters will be checked. My hon. Friend the Member for Bradfor, West (Mr. Madden) raised this issue. By what process will the Home Office be satisfied that an individual is not having recourse to one of the public funds to which I referred? Will there be a procedure by which automatically the DHSS, local authorities and others will have to refer claims to the Home Office to check the immigration status of any individual?
Alternatively, may we have an undertaking that that will not happen? Otherwise many anxieties will be caused as a result of the new procedures. People will feel that additional efforts will be made by, in particular, the DHSS and local authorities, as it were, to report people because there are doubts about their immigration status.
My sixth criticism is about the wide-ranging nature of the provisions. So wide are they that they could affect the children of any Member of this House. If they wished to marry and be joined by their spouses in this country, the provisions will apply to them.
The provisions applying to housing benefit and homelessness give rise for concern. An average owner-occupier who is reasonably affluent may still be entitled to a rate rebate under the housing benefit provisions. But even those provisions will be denied to certain people under the immigration rules, if they prove to be enforceable.
We are speaking of present rates of income of up to £140 a week gross for a family with, say, four children. Such a family would be entitled to rate rebate. To qualify for rent rebate, one's earnings need be only £2 or £3 short of that. Thus, many people are entitled to housing benefit. Indeed, about 7 million people are entitled to housing benefit of one sort or another, though under the new immigration rules such benefit will be denied to those coming here.
We must consider, in relation to the provisions on homelessness, what will happen if there is a marital breakdown and one partner becomes homeless and needs to be accommodated by the local authority. Will that immediately put that person in breach of the immigration rules? The Minister will doubtless answer yes, if the person has not been here for a year, but suppose that happens after that period. Will local authorities have to continue to make checks on passports?
I am asking the Minister for a commitment on two specific matters. First, can he define the circumstances in which an undertaking will be required to provide support and accommodation for spouses? How will that 951 undertaking be requested and how will people have to meet the immigration rules requirements? Secondly, in what circumstances will families be refused indefinite leave after completing a stay of months here? What will they have to prove for the restrictions on their stay to be lifted?
The provisions for children seem to be ill thought out and a bit of a mess. As I interpret the rules, children allowed to come here who reach the age of 18 within 12 months of their arrival will technically be ineligible to stay. Perhaps that is not the intention and I hope that common sense will intervene, but there is nothing in the rules which says that such children have the right to stay. I doubt whether that is the intention. I think that the rules have been sloppily drafted.
What of the young person who comes here and is married at the age of 16 or 18? Technically that young person would not be allowed to remain here. That is one interpretation of the rules. I ask the Minister to clarify the intention.
Paragraph 98 of the new rules causes me anxiety. It states:A person's leave may be curtailed or an application for variation of leave refused if false representations have been made"—this is the key point—or material facts not disclosed".That possibility was covered in a legal judgment on 10 February 1983 in the House of Lords case of Khawaya and Khera when Lord Scarman said:To allow officers to rely on an entrant honouring a duty of positive candour, by which is meant a duty to volunteer relevant information, would seem perhaps a disingenuous approach to the administration of control. Some might think it conducive to slack rather than to sensitive administration. The Immigration Act does impose a duty not to deceive the immigration officer. It makes no express provision for any higher or more comprehensive duty. Accordingly I reject the view that there is a duty of positive candour imposed by the immigration laws and that mere nondisclosure by an entrant of material facts in the absence of fraud is a breach of the immigration laws".That was a clear decision by Lord Scarman in the House of Lords.
Paragraph 98 of the new rules attempts to reverse or undermine that House of Lords' judgment. At the least we should have more specific proposals and a more specific basis for debate. We should not slip in the provision in one of the immigration rules, which are not the consequence of the European Court decision but cover new ground.
It is shabby and reprehensible that the Home Office should seek to slip in the provision. The Home Secretary did not mention it. The provision means that if people do not disclose something, even if they have no reason to think that it is of interest to the immigration officials, they are liable to be thrown our for being in breach of that paragraph of the rules. Is that a fair and just way to approach immigration?
Those of us who are concerned with immigration cases many times a week know that the Home Office turns down an individual if it can suggest that some deception has taken place—there are other reasons, but when all else fails, that is the one. The Home Office definition of deception is not the normal English dictionary definition. If it can find a slight discrepancy in the story, the Home Office says that a person has been deceiving and therefore cannot come to the country.
The words:or material facts not disclosed952 are an open door for the Home Office to turn down virtually anybody if it can find some fact that the individual did not know that he should reveal at some point in the interview. This is not the way that the country and the House should approach matters as serious as immigration.
The Home Secretary made one point that caused many of us a great deal of surprise. The Home Secretary knew that he would be accused of not complying fully with the European Court of Human Rights decision because sex discrimination still remains in the provisions regarding people who came here before 1 January 1973. Many of us have been puzzling about the Home Secretary's contentions. He seemed to suggest that he would introduce legislation that would change the commitment that has been entered into for people who were here before that date.
It is difficult to come to any other conclusion than that the promises and commitments entered into by successive Governments and Ministers, and which I heard the Home Secretary reiterate in a speech to the United Kingdom Immigrants Advisory Service conference in Manchester, are to be reneged on. That is what the Home Secretary appeared to be hinting, but if he wishes to deny it, he has access to the Floor of the House. If that is what the Home Secretary is saying, that is significant. It is a sorry day when a Minister as senior as the Home Secretary comes along and says, "Forget what I said in Manchester a few months ago and what successive British Governments have said because we shall tear up our promises and do something different." The right hon. and learned Gentleman has just shaken his head, but why does he not stand up and deny the charge? Why does he not say that he is not going to renege on the commitment into which he entered? He knows that he made the hint, and we heard him make it. His silence can be taken to mean only that he will tear up the commitments that he has made.
I end with my overall conclusions about this sorry mess. These provisions give more power to the bureaucrats and administrators and take away power from Parliament and the courts. Some weeks ago, we had revealed to us the secret Home Office guidelines which set out the use of long queues and administrative procedures as a way to control the numbers coming in in any one year. Our suspicion is that the further provisions in these amended rules will add to the opportunity that the Home Office has for controlling the numbers coming in and denying entry to those who, up till now, will have had the right to come in. The Home Secretary is replacing the objective test by a subjective test. He is giving more rights to bureaucrats at the expense of the individual. He is putting forward shabby and petty proposals, which will still be seen as racially discriminatory by many people.
The trouble with these procedures and proposals is that they are giving a signal to the people of this country as to the type of society that the Home Secretary wants to see. It is one where the values and rights of the individual are given second place to the Government's shabby wishes to keep down the numbers at all costs. It is a sad day for the House that we have these proposals here. I hope that the House will throw them out unceremoniously because we need a better way to approach immigration.
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. David Waddington)
The hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. 953 Dubs) has a proper sense of proportion. He was not wildly enthusiastic about the rule changes, but his dislike of them was not sufficiently great to get him out of bed and to the Table Office before the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud). The result was that this incompetent Opposition did not even get a prayer against the rules on to the Order Paper. Although, therefore, I was not expecting congratulations from the Opposition for our having responded so quickly to the judgment of the court, I expected no more than a mild rebuke from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman). The whole thing would obviously be "odious," because it always is, but beyond that I thought that the right hon. Gentleman's response would be as generous as that which he gave yesterday when we discussed telephone tapping. I was wrong. We were subjected to a tirade of abuse. For doing what? For doing precisely what the court required—making the rules for the admission of husbands the same as those for the admission of wives.
The Opposition are no doubt furious at our not having done what they expected. They thought that we were going to achieve equality by taking away from settled men the right to bring in their wives. They thought that they would be able to play "uproar", but they are now like a baby who has had its rattle stolen from it. They are as cross as two sticks because they cannot play, as they had hoped, the game of "uproar".
The Opposition express indignation at our having extended primary purpose to women, but the logic of their argument is that if we are to keep primary purpose at all we must, in view of the judgment, apply it to both sexes. We should have been very foolish if we had tried to achieve equality by doing away with primary purpose for men. To do so would have been a complete betrayal of our commitment to stop the abuse of marriage for immigration purposes.
I listened carefully to what my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Lawler) said about this matter. I know how difficult some of these cases can be for constituency Members. I noted also what my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) had to say about it. The rules require the applicant in every other respect to satisfy the entry clearance officer or the immigration officer of his entitlement. There cannot therefore be anything wrong in principle in requiring the applicant who is an intending spouse, or who is a spouse, to prove his entitlement. I cannot therefore agree with the criticisms. I do not agree that the test is unfair and I do not believe that unreasonable questions are asked by the entry clearance officers. Nobody who does my job for long can fail to realise that the primary purpose test can be a protection for young women.
A great deal has been said about the European Court. It is not loved by all. It is certainly not loved by the right hon. Member for South Down (Mr. Powell); nor is it loved by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen). Few people say that we should abrogate the convention. We provided much of the inspiration that underlies it, and as a country we have been a champion of human rights.
§ Mr. Budgen
During my hon. and learned Friend's period in politics, can he say how many people have asked him to discuss the European convention on human rights?
§ Mr. Waddington
Not very many, but a good many have discussed it tonight.
I have no doubt whatever that there are many in this House who say that, so bizarre and so far from the intentions of the original signatories have been some recent judgments of the court, that we should either cease to recognise its jurisdiction or take the step of not renewing the right of individual petition. This is not the time to enter into that debate, which could go on for a long time.
§ Mr. Waddington
I may be able to satisfy the hon. and learned Gentleman, if he will wait a moment.
The Government are currently considering whether to renew the right of individual petition under article 25 and, if so, for what period, and will announce their decision in good time before the expiry date. It must be before the end of this year.
The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) seems to have a very suspicious mind. I remind him that we extended the right of individual petition in 1981, not for two years, as was suggested by the right hon. Member for Gorton, but for five years.
Several hon. Members have mentioned incorporation. That question raises complex constitutional issues. It is obvious from our debate that opinions are divided. I inferred from what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham that he was very much in favour. My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West was obviously very much against. Many think that it could lead to considerable difficulties in the relationship between Parliament and our courts. Certainly the Government have no plans for incorporation.
The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery and the right hon. Member for Gorton had much to say about article 13. We do not accept that lack of incorporation puts us in automatic and continuing breach of the convention. The decision in the present case means no more than that, as there was a breach of substantive provision, there was also a breach of article 13 because we had not incorporated. If there had not been a breach of a substantive provision, there would not have been a breach of article 13. When we remedy the breach of the substantive article, we shall no longer be in breach of article 13.
I am very surprised that the right hon. Member for Gorton should be advancing the argument that we are in automatic and continuing breach of article 13 as long as we do not incorporate the convention, because I do not remember that it was ever stated to be the policy of the Labour Government that they should incorporate the convention. That is well known to all of us.
§ Mr. Alex Carlile
I remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that article 13 provides that everyone whose rights and freedoms are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority. Will he now tell us which national authority in the United Kingdom gives that effective remedy to ensure that there is no breach of article 13?
§ Mr. Waddington
I will help the hon. and learned Gentleman to this extent. It seems to me that the lawyers have two views about the matter. I am told that the hon. and learned Gentleman should look at the case of Silver, 955 which seemed to suggest that there was no automatic and continuing breach of article 13 if a member state did not incorporate the convention.
The hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) seemed to be suggesting that there should be a reference in the rules to the European convention, presumably in the same way as there is a reference to the United Nation convention on refugees. That would present immigration officers with an impossible task. The convention is couched in the most general terms. How on earth an immigration officer would be able to decide, at the point of entry, whether in a particular case there would be an infringement of article 8, I do not know.
Many wild statements have been made this afternoon about the effect of the judgment. First, the court acknowledged that a state has the right to control the entry of non-nationals into its territory. Secondly, the court acknowledged that there is no general obligation on a state to accept a non-national for settlement. Thirdly, there is nothing in the court judgment that calls in question the primary purpose rule.
§ Mr. Waddington
Exactly. I remind the hon. Member for Ladywood, who may be looking for crumbs of comfort in other parts of the discussion, that the nearest that the court came to the subject was to say that the "must have met" requirement was not racially discriminatory and that the aim of the 1980 rules, which included primary purpose—protection of the labour market—was legitimate. To the extent that the court touched on the marriage tests, it said that they were legitimate to protect the labour market.
The court said that if there are rules restricting the rights of women to bring in husbands for settlement, the same rules must apply to men wanting to bring in wives, unless there are very weighty reasons for the distinction.
§ Mr. Waddington
I am using the words in the judgment. The judgment also says that sexual discrimination is not always wrong. According to the court, it is wrong unless there is an objective and reasonable justification or very weighty reasons for it.
There has been some discussion of secton 1(5) of the 1971 Act. Its effect is that we cannot apply the marriage tests to women seeking to join Commonwealth citizens settled before 1 January 1973. That is because of our domestic law. Our rules must correspond with that.
However, we do not believe that, given the intention stated by the Home Secretary to introduce legislation to put an end to the sexually discriminatory features of the provision, the court's judgment requires us in the present rules to exempt from the primary purpose test men joining women settled before 1 January 1973. The provision in the Act is, of course, transitional in character and effect. We shall legislate in due course.
Many questions were raised about the maintenance and accommodation requirement and some misconceptions may have arisen as a result of hon. Members failing to realise that the test will bite principally before entry. It involves an assessment at that time of the prospects of those seeking entry.
Paragraph 125 of the rules, which deals with the case of a person who has entered and aims to stay after the probationary period, does not require the passing of the 956 maintenance and accommodation test at that point, although there is the overall provision in paragraph 98, which is an amended version of the old paragraph 97.
We must start by looking at the principal problem, which is how the rule will be applied before entry. I agree with my hon. Friends the Members for Slough (Mr. Watts) and for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie) that it is surely not unreasonable to expect people who want to bring a spouse into this country, rather than live with the spouse abroad, to show that the family unit will be able to look after itself and not be a burden on the state.
I note what my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North said, but there has long been a maintenance and accommodation test in the rules and I do not believe that many who have studied the situation will doubt the need for it. I believe that it needs to be strengthened.
I have looked recently at the situation in Tower Hamlets. Men living in single persons' accommodation marry women overseas, bring them to this country and expect the council to rehouse them. The council cannot, and the couple then have to be put up in hotels. In April 1985, 418 families — virtually all with one parent an immigrant—were being maintained in bed and breakfast accommodation in Tower Hamlets at an annual cost of £5.5 million. I do not think that any sensible person would fail to realise that there is a real problem.
The test, which previously applied only to women joining men, will now be applied also when men are joining women; but what will be looked at is the ability of the couple — the new family unit — to maintain themselves "adequately". In answer to the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden), let me say that it is not our intention to conduct detailed inquiries in every case. If one party has a stable job or realistic prospects of a job which can reasonably be expected to maintain the two of them and their dependants, the test will normally be met.
The present rules require that, when a woman is entering, the accommodation of the sponsor must be his own or occupied by him. I remind the House that the words that have been discussed in this debate are not new; they were in the 1980 and 1983 rules. To be "adequate", the accommodation must be capable of accommodating the couple without a level of overcrowding that would be contrary to statutory provisions or those laid down by the relevant local authority. Detailed instructions will be given to entry clearance officers.
I want to stress a point which was raised by the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner). Inquiries will not be made as a matter of course into maintenance and accommodation at the end of the probationary period before an applicant is granted indefinite leave to remain. I repeat that paragraph 125 does not make that requirement. There are general powers in new paragraph 98, which amends old paragraph 97, for a person's limited leave to be curtailed if a person has failed to maintain and accommodate himself and any dependents without recourse to public funds during that probationary period.
Important questions have been raised about the admission of children and new paragraph 50A. It is sensible if a parent arrives with a child and is given limited leave to enter that the child should be given leave on the same terms. The child is not. of course, on probation, but if, for instance, the marriage breaks down and the parent is going to return home — perhaps as a result of paragraph 125 — it is sensible that the parent and the 957 child should return as the family unit which they were before. I emphasise that, in the vast majority of cases, the mother—almost invariably it will be the mother who comes with the child—will be granted indefinite leave to remain after the 12 months, and that will be the end of the matter.
I assure the House that no child will be refused indefinite leave to remain at the end of the 12 months granted under new paragraph 50A on the basis that, during the period, he has become 18 or has married. I think that that assurance will clear up these problems.
I was asked about entry clearance on the Indian subcontinent. If we add more people—for example, the husbands of settled women—to those already qualified to enter, more people will claim to come and more claims will be tested. Those who want more categories of people to be qualified to enter had better recognise that what they want has consequences for entry clearance work. They cannot have it both ways. Resources are not unlimited. It is certainly a possibility that, because of these changes, some applicants will have to wait longer for an interview. Efforts will be made to keep increases in delays to a minimum through the redeployment of staff and other measures.
I have been asked about numbers. It has already been said that extending to settled women the right to sponsor the entry of husbands could, without any other changes, mean an increase in the annual settlement figure from the world as a whole of 2,000, of which no more than 600 will come from the Indian subcontinent. We cannot say what the impact in terms of numbers of the new maintenance and accommodation test will be. We can estimate the effect of extending the right to settled women because we can look back to the number of applicants for entry prior to 1980, but obviously there is no scope for making a similar estimate for the new maintenance and accommodation test.
I assure the House that the right hon. Member for Gorton, who claimed that the court's ruling meant that 3,350 men had been wrongly excluded since 1980, was talking nonsense. Only 100 husbands and 400 fiancés have been refused for lack of the birth qualification between 1980 and 1983, or the citizenship qualification between 1983 and the present date.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary reminded the House of the position regarding numbers. The House can consider the changes that are now being made in the context of the dramatic decline in immigration since the Government took office in 1979. In 1978, 72,300 people from the whole world were granted settlement, of whom 42,000 came from the new Commonwealth and Pakistan, and 26,000 from the Indian subcontinent. In 1984, the world figure decreased to 50,000, the new Commonwealth and Pakistan figure decreased by almost half to 24,000, and the Indian subcontinent figure decreased to 14,000. Everybody can rest assured that the Government have been as good as their word, and have exercised firm and fair control.
Hon. Members have sometimes said that the House fails to take cognisance of the fact that more people leave the country than come to it. That is not entirely true. In 1983 there was more immigration that emigration. Generally speaking, I agree that in recent years that has been the case. In any event, it does not begin to provide 958 an argument against immigration control. One must consider the skills of those who leave and those who come, the areas from which people depart and the areas to which they come—almost invariably city centres—and the strain which can be put on the social services, the education service and housing in some areas as a result of a considerable number of immigrants.
We have presented the House with a balanced package. The reaction of the official Opposition has been singularly unbalanced. The Opposition are entirely out of touch with the anxieties felt by ordinary men and women that there should be firm immigration control. The public can judge from the utterances today what mischief the Opposition would wreak if, by some misfortune, they were returned to office. They tell us that they would not intend to scrap immigration control, but all their proposals seem to lead to that end. This afternoon we have done what the vast majority of people would expect us to do. We have complied with the judgment and, at the same time, maintained firm immigration control.
§ Question put, That the amendment be made:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 192, Noes 307.961
|Division No. 287]||[10.00 pm|
|Abse, Leo||Deakins, Eric|
|Anderson, Donald||Dewar, Donald|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Dixon, Donald|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Dobson, Frank|
|Ashton, Joe||Dormand, Jack|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Dubs, Alfred|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Duffy, A. E. P.|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.|
|Barnett, Guy||Eadie, Alex|
|Barron, Kevin||Eastham, Ken|
|Beckett, Mrs Margaret||Evans, John (St. Helens N)|
|Beith, A. J.||Fatchett, Derek|
|Bell, Stuart||Faulds, Andrew|
|Benn, Tony||Field, Frank (Birkenhead)|
|Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)||Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Fisher, Mark|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Flannery, Martin|
|Blair, Anthony||Foot, Rt Hon Michael|
|Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Forrester, John|
|Boyes, Roland||Foster, Derek|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Foulkes, George|
|Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)||Fraser, J. (Norwood)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald|
|Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)||Freud, Clement|
|Bruce, Malcolm||Garrett, W. E.|
|Buchan, Norman||George, Bruce|
|Caborn, Richard||Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John|
|Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)||Godman, Dr Norman|
|Campbell, Ian||Golding, John|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Gould, Bryan|
|Canavan, Dennis||Gourlay, Harry|
|Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Hancock, Mr. Michael|
|Cartwright, John||Hardy, Peter|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||Harman, Ms Harriet|
|Clarke, Thomas||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter|
|Clwyd, Mrs Ann||Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith|
|Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)||Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy|
|Coleman, Donald||Haynes, Frank|
|Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.||Healey, Rt Hon Denis|
|Conlan, Bernard||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton North)||Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)|
|Craigen, J. M.||Home Robertson, John|
|Crowther, Stan||Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Hoyle, Douglas|
|Cunningham, Dr John||Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)||Hughes, Roy (Newport East)|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)||Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)|
|Hughes, Simon (Southwark)||Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)|
|Janner, Hon Greville||Richardson, Ms Jo|
|John, Brynmor||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)|
|Johnston, Sir Russell||Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)|
|Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)||Rogers, Allan|
|Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald||Rooker, J. W.|
|Kennedy, Charles||Rowlands, Ted|
|Lambie, David||Ryman, John|
|Lamond, James||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Sheerman, Barry|
|Leighton, Ronald||Sheldon, Rt Hon R.|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Lewis, Terence (Worsley)||Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)|
|Litherland, Robert||Short, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)|
|Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)||Silkin, Rt Hon J.|
|Lofthouse, Geoffrey||Skinner, Dennis|
|McCartney, Hugh||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)|
|McDonald, Dr Oonagh||Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)|
|McKay, Allen (Penistone)||Snape, Peter|
|Maclennan, Robert||Soley, Clive|
|McNamara, Kevin||Spearing, Nigel|
|McWilliam, John||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Madden, Max||Stott, Roger|
|Marek, Dr John||Strang, Gavin|
|Marshall, David (Shettleston)||Straw, Jack|
|Mason, Rt Hon Roy||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Maynard, Miss Joan||Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)|
|Meacher, Michael||Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)|
|Meadowcroft, Michael||Thorne, Stan (Preston)|
|Michie, William||Tinn, James|
|Mikardo, Ian||Torney, Tom|
|Millan, Rt Hon Bruce||Wainwright, R.|
|Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)||Wallace, James|
|Nellist, David||Wardell, Gareth (Gower)|
|Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon||Wareing, Robert|
|O'Brien, William||Weetch, Ken|
|Owen, Rt Hon Dr David||Welsh, Michael|
|Park, George||White, James|
|Parry, Robert||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Patchett, Terry||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|Pavitt, Laurie||Wilson, Gordon|
|Pendry, Tom||Winnick, David|
|Penhaligon, David||Woodall, Alec|
|Pike, Peter||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)|
|Prescott, John||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Randall, Stuart||Mr. James Hamilton and|
|Redmond, M.||Mr. Robin Corbett.|
|Adley, Robert||Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard|
|Amess, David||Brandon-Bravo, Martin|
|Ancram, Michael||Bright, Graham|
|Arnold, Tom||Brinton, Tim|
|Ashby, David||Brittan, Rt Hon Leon|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)|
|Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.||Browne, John|
|Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)||Bruinvels, Peter|
|Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)||Bryan, Sir Paul|
|Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)||Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.|
|Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)||Buck, Sir Antony|
|Baldry, Tony||Burt, Alistair|
|Banks, Robert (Harrogate)||Butcher, John|
|Batiste, Spencer||Butler, Hon Adam|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Butterfill, John|
|Beggs, Roy||Carlisle, John (N Luton)|
|Bellingham, Henry||Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)|
|Benyon, William||Carttiss, Michael|
|Best, Keith||Cash, William|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Chalker, Mrs Lynda|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Chapman, Sydney|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Chope, Christopher|
|Blackburn, John||Churchill, W. S.|
|Body, Richard||Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)|
|Bottomley, Peter||Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Cockeram, Eric|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)||Colvin, Michael|
|Conway, Derek||Howard, Michael|
|Coombs, Simon||Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)|
|Cope, John||Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)|
|Corrie, John||Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey|
|Couchman, James||Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)|
|Critchley, Julian||Hubbard-Miles, Peter|
|Crouch, David||Hunt, David (Wirral)|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina||Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)|
|Dickens, Geoffrey||Hunter, Andrew|
|Dicks, Terry||Irving, Charles|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Jackson, Robert|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.||Jessel, Toby|
|Dover, Den||Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey|
|du Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Dunn, Robert||Jones, Robert (W Herts)|
|Dykes, Hugh||Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith|
|Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine|
|Eggar, Tim||Kershaw, Sir Anthony|
|Emery, Sir Peter||Key, Robert|
|Evennett, David||Kilfedder, James A.|
|Eyre, Sir Reginald||King, Roger (B'ham N'field)|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||King, Rt Hon Tom|
|Fallon, Michael||Knight, Greg (Derby N)|
|Farr, Sir John||Knight, Dame Jill (Eagbaston)|
|Favell, Anthony||Knowles, Michael|
|Fenner, Mrs Peggy||Knox, David|
|Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey||Lamont, Norman|
|Fletcher, Alexander||Lang, Ian|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Latham, Michael|
|Forman, Nigel||Lawler, Geoffrey|
|Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Forth, Eric||Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Norman||Lee, John (Pendle)|
|Fox, Marcus||Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)|
|Franks, Cecil||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Freeman, Roger||Lester, Jim|
|Fry, Peter||Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)|
|Galley, Roy||Lightbown, David|
|Gardiner. George (Reigate)||Lilley, Peter|
|Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)||Lloyd, Ian (Havant)|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Lord, Michael|
|Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian||Luce, Richard|
|Glyn, Dr Alan||Lyell, Nicholas|
|Goodhart, Sir Philip||McCrindle, Robert|
|Goodlad, Alastair||McCurley, Mrs Anna|
|Gorst, John||McCusker, Harold|
|Gow, Ian||Macfarlane, Neil|
|Gower, Sir Raymond||MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)|
|Grant, Sir Anthony||Maclean, David John|
|Greenway, Harry||Major, John|
|Gregory, Conal||Malins, Humfrey|
|Griffiths, Sir Eldon||Maples, John|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)||Marland, Paul|
|Ground, Patrick||Marshall, Michael (Arundel)|
|Grylls, Michael||Mates, Michael|
|Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)||Mather, Carol|
|Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)||Maude, Hon Francis|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Mawhinney, Dr Brian|
|Hanley, Jeremy||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Hannam, John||Mayhew, Sir Patrick|
|Hargreaves, Kenneth||Mellor, David|
|Harris, David||Merchant, Piers|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael||Miller, Hal (B'grove)|
|Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)||Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)|
|Hawksley, Warren||Mitchell, David (NW Hants)|
|Hayes, J.||Molyneaux, Rt Hon James|
|Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney||Monro, Sir Hector|
|Hayward, Robert||Montgomery, Sir Fergus|
|Heath coat-Amory, David||Moore, John|
|Heddle, John||Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)|
|Henderson, Barry||Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)|
|Hickmet, Richard||Moynihan, Hon C.|
|Hicks, Robert||Mudd, David|
|Hind, Kenneth||Murphy, Christopher|
|Hirst, Michael||Neale, Gerrard|
|Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)||Needham, Richard|
|Holt, Richard||Nelson, Anthony|
|Hordern, Sir Peter||Neubert, Michael|
|Newton, Tony||Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Shersby, Michael|
|Nicholson, J.||Sims, Roger|
|Normanton, Tom||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Norris, Steven||Spencer, Derek|
|Onslow, Cranley||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Oppenheim, Phillip||Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)|
|Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Osborn, Sir John||Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)|
|Ottaway, Richard||Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)|
|Page, Sir John (Harrow W)||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Page, Richard (Herts SW)||Taylor, Rt Hon John David|
|Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Parris, Matthew||Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman|
|Patten, Christopher (Bath)||Terlezki, Stefan|
|Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abdgn)||Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.|
|Pawsey, James||Thompson, Donald (Calder V)|
|Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth||Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian||Thurnham, Peter|
|Pollock, Alexander||Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)|
|Porter, Barry||Trippier, David|
|Portillo, Michael||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Powell, William (Corby)||Viggers, Peter|
|Powley, John||Waddington, David|
|Prentice, Rt Hon Reg||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Price, Sir David||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Prior, Rt Hon James||Walden, George|
|Proctor, K. Harvey||Walker, Bill (T'side N)|
|Raffan, Keith||Ward, John|
|Raison, Rt Hon Timothy||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Rathbone, Tim||Warren, Kenneth|
|Renton, Tim||Watson, John|
|Rhodes James, Robert||Watts, John|
|Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Wells, Bowen (Hertford)|
|Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas||Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)|
|Ridsdale, Sir Julian||Whitney, Raymond|
|Rifkind, Malcolm||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)||Winterton, Mrs Ann|
|Roe, Mrs Marion||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Rowe, Andrew||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Sackville, Hon Thomas||Younger, Rt Hon George|
|Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Scott, Nicholas||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)||Mr. Tony Durant and|
|Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)||Mr. Peter Lloyd.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Main Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 309, Noes 194.964
|Division No. 288]||[10.15 pm|
|Adley, Robert||Boscawen, Hon Robert|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Bottomley, Peter|
|Amess, David||Bottomley, Mrs Virginia|
|Ancram, Michael||Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)|
|Arnold, Tom||Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)|
|Ashby, David||Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Brandon-Bravo, Martin|
|Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.||Bright, Graham|
|Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)||Brinton, Tim|
|Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)||Brittan, Rt Hon Leon|
|Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)||Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)|
|Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)||Browne, John|
|Baldry, Tony||Bruinvels, Peter|
|Banks, Robert (Harrogate)||Bryan, Sir Paul|
|Batiste, Spencer||Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Buck, Sir Antony|
|Beggs, Roy||Burt, Alistair|
|Bellingham, Henry||Butcher, John|
|Benyon, William||Butler, Hon Adam|
|Best, Keith||Butterfill, John|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Carlisle, John (N Luton)|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Carttiss, Michael|
|Blackburn, John||Cash, William|
|Body, Richard||Chalker, Mrs Lynda|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Chapman, Sydney|
|Chope, Christopher||Henderson, Barry|
|Churchill, W. S.||Hickmet, Richard|
|Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)||Hicks, Robert|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)||Hind, Kenneth|
|Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)||Hirst, Michael|
|Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)||Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)|
|Cockeram, Eric||Holt, Richard|
|Colvin, Michael||Hordern, Sir Peter|
|Conway, Derek||Howard, Michael|
|Coombs, Simon||Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)|
|Cope, John||Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)|
|Corrie, John||Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey|
|Couchman, James||Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)|
|Critchley, Julian||Hubbard-Miles, Peter|
|Crouch, David||Hunt, David (Wirral)|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina||Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)|
|Dickens, Geoffrey||Hunter, Andrew|
|Dicks, Terry||Irving, Charles|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Jackson, Robert|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.||Jessel, Toby|
|Dover, Den||Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey|
|du Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Dunn, Robert||Jones, Robert (W Herts)|
|Durant, Tony||Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith|
|Dykes, Hugh||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine|
|Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)||Kershaw, Sir Anthony|
|Eggar, Tim||Key, Robert|
|Emery, Sir Peter||Kilfedder, James A.|
|Evennett, David||King, Roger (B'ham N'field)|
|Eyre, Sir Reginald||King, Rt Hon Tom|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||Knight, Greg (Derby N)|
|Fallon, Michael||Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)|
|Farr, Sir John||Knowles, Michael|
|Favell, Anthony||Knox, David|
|Fenner, Mrs Peggy||Lamont, Norman|
|Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey||Lang, Ian|
|Fletcher, Alexander||Latham, Michael|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Lawler, Geoffrey|
|Forman, Nigel||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)||Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel|
|Forth, Eric||Lee, John (Pendle)|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Norman||Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)|
|Fox, Marcus||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Franks, Cecil||Lester, Jim|
|Freeman, Roger||Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)|
|Fry, Peter||Lightbown, David|
|Galley, Roy||Lilley, Peter|
|Gardiner, George (Reigate)||Lloyd, Ian (Havant)|
|Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)||Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Lord, Michael|
|Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian||Luce, Richard|
|Glyn, Dr Alan||Lyell, Nicholas|
|Goodhart, Sir Philip||McCrindle, Robert|
|Goodlad, Alastair||McCurley, Mrs Anna|
|Gorst, John||Macfarlane, Neil|
|Gow, Ian||MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)|
|Gower, Sir Raymond||Maclean, David John|
|Grant, Sir Anthony||McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)|
|Greenway, Harry||Major, John|
|Gregory, Conal||Malins, Humfrey|
|Griffiths, Sir Eldon||Maples, John|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)||Marland, Paul|
|Ground, Patrick||Marshall, Michael (Arundel)|
|Grylls, Michael||Mates, Michael|
|Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)||Mather, Carol|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Maude, Hon Francis|
|Hanley, Jeremy||Mawhinney, Dr Brian|
|Hannam, John||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Hargreaves, Kenneth||Mayhew, Sir Patrick|
|Harris, David||Mellor, David|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Merchant, Piers|
|Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)||Miller, Hal (B'grove)|
|Hawksley, Warren||Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)|
|Hayes, J.||Mitchell, David (NW Hants)|
|Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney||Molyneaux, Rt Hon James|
|Hayward, Robert||Monro, Sir Hector|
|Heathcoat-Amory, David||Montgomery, Sir Fergus|
|Heddle, John||Moore, John|
|Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)||Scott, Nicholas|
|Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Moynihan, Hon C.||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Mudd, David||Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)|
|Murphy, Christopher||Shersby, Michael|
|Neale, Gerrard||Sims, Roger|
|Needham, Richard||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Nelson, Anthony||Spencer, Derek|
|Newton, Tony||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)|
|Nicholson, J.||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Normanton, Tom||Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)|
|Norris, Steven||Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)|
|Onslow, Cranley||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Oppenheim, Phillip||Taylor, Rt Hon John David|
|Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Osborn, Sir John||Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman|
|Ottaway, Richard||Terlezki, Stefan|
|Page, Sir John (Harrow W)||Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M,|
|Page, Richard (Herts SW)||Thompson, Donald (Calder V)|
|Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil||Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|Parris, Matthew||Thurnham, Peter|
|Patten, Christopher (Bath)||Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)|
|Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abdgn)||Trippier, David|
|Pawsey, James||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian||Viggers, Peter|
|Pollock, Alexander||Waddington, David|
|Porter, Barry||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Portillo, Michael||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)||Walden, George|
|Powell, William (Corby)||Walker, Bill (T'side N)|
|Powley, John||Ward, John|
|Prentice, Rt Hon Reg||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Price, Sir David||Warren, Kenneth|
|Prior, Rt Hon James||Watson, John|
|Proctor, K. Harvey||Watts, John|
|Raffan, Keith||Wells, Bowen (Hertford)|
|Raison, Rt Hon Timothy||Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)|
|Rathbone, Tim||Whitney, Raymond|
|Renton, Tim||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Rhodes James, Robert||Winterton, Mrs Ann|
|Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas||Yeo, Tim|
|Ridsdale, Sir Julian||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Rifkind, Malcolm||Younger, Rt Hon George|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)|
|Roe, Mrs Marion||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Rowe, Andrew||Mr. Archie Hamilton and|
|Sackville, Hon Thomas||Mr. Michael Neubert.|
|Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Abse, Leo||Budgen, Nick|
|Anderson, Donald||Caborn, Richard|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Campbell, Ian|
|Ashton, Joe||Campbell-Savours, Dale|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Canavan, Dennis|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Carter-Jones, Lewis|
|Barnett, Guy||Cartwright, John|
|Barron, Kevin||Clark, Dr David (S Shields)|
|Beckett, Mrs Margaret||Clarke, Thomas|
|Beith, A. J.||Clwyd, Mrs Ann|
|Bell, Stuart||Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)|
|Benn, Tony||Coleman, Donald|
|Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)||Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Conlan, Bernard|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Cook, Frank (Stockton North)|
|Blair, Anthony||Corbyn, Jeremy|
|Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Craigen, J. M.|
|Boyes, Roland||Crowther, Stan|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Cunliffe, Lawrence|
|Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)||Cunningham, Dr John|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Dalyell, Tam|
|Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)||Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)|
|Bruce, Malcolm||Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)|
|Buchan, Norman||Deakins, Eric|
|Dewar, Donald||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Dixon, Donald||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Dobson, Frank||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Dormand, Jack||Meacher, Michael|
|Dubs, Alfred||Meadowcroft, Michael|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Michie, William|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.||Mikardo, Ian|
|Eadie, Alex||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Eastham, Ken||Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)|
|Evans, John (St. Helens N)||Nellist, David|
|Fatchett, Derek||Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon|
|Faulds, Andrew||O'Brien, William|
|Field, Frank (Birkenhead)||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David|
|Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)||Park, George|
|Fisher, Mark||Parry, Robert|
|Flannery, Martin||Patchett, Terry|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Forrester, John||Pendry, Tom|
|Foster, Derek||Penhaligon, David|
|Foulkes, George||Pike, Peter|
|Fraser, J. (Norwood)||Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)|
|Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||Prescott, John|
|Freud, Clement||Radice, Giles|
|Garrett, W. E.||Randall, Stuart|
|George, Bruce||Redmond, M.|
|Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John||Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)|
|Godman, Dr Norman||Richardson, Ms Jo|
|Golding, John||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)|
|Gould, Bryan||Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)|
|Gourlay, Harry||Rogers, Allan|
|Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)||Rooker, J. W.|
|Hancock, Mr. Michael||Rowlands, Ted|
|Hardy, Peter||Ryman, John|
|Harman, Ms Harriet||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Sheerman, Barry|
|Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith||Sheldon, Rt Hon R.|
|Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Haynes, Frank||Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)|
|Healey, Rt Hon Denis||Short, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Silkin, Rt Hon J.|
|Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)|
|Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)||Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)|
|Home Robertson, John||Snape, Peter|
|Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)||Soley, Clive|
|Hoyle, Douglas||Spearing, Nigel|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport East)||Stott, Roger|
|Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)||Strang, Gavin|
|Hughes, Simon (Southwark)||Straw, Jack|
|Janner, Hon Greville||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|John, Brynmor||Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)|
|Johnston, Sir Russell||Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)|
|Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)||Thorne, Stan (Preston)|
|Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald||Tinn, James|
|Kennedy, Charles||Torney, Tom|
|Lambie, David||Wainwright, R.|
|Lamond, James||Wallace, James|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Warden, Gareth (Gower)|
|Leighton, Ronald||Wareing, Robert|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Weetch, Ken|
|Lewis, Terence (Worsley)||Welsh, Michael|
|Litherland, Robert||White, James|
|Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Lofthouse, Geoffrey||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|McCartney, Hugh||Wilson, Gordon|
|McDonald, Dr Oonagh||Winnick, David|
|McKay, Allen (Penistone)||Woodall, Alec|
|Maclennan, Robert||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|McWilliam, John||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Madden, Max||Mr. James Hamilton and|
|Marek, Dr John||Mr. Robin Corbett.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
That this House approves the Statement of Changes in the Immigration Rules (House of Commons Paper No. 503).