HC Deb 16 February 1988 vol 127 cc918-24

Ordered, That, at this day's sitting, the Immigration Bill may be proceeded with, though opposed, until any hour. — [Mr. Ryder.]

Question again proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

Mr. Michael

The Minister was so confident in suggesting that compassionate grounds would be considered by him that we thought we might be wrong and that all the lawyers who are experienced in immigration case law and those involved in immigrant welfare were mistaken, so this week I gave the Minister a chance to prove his point. I asked him two written questions. The first was in what proportion of cases in which he received a recommendation from the appellate authorities in respect of individuals appealing against refusal to vary leave to remain in the United Kingdom the adjudicators have (a) refused to hear or consider compassionate grounds and (b) made no recommendation that he should exercise his discretion to consider compassionate grounds". Even more tellingly, I asked him how many recommendations he has received from the appellate authorities in respect of individuals appealing against refusal to vary leave to remain in the United Kindom during each of the last three years; on how many of those cases the adjudicator recommended that he should consider compassionate circumstances; and in how many of those cases he did exercise discretion in compassionate circumstances. They were detailed questions which the Minister should have found it easy to answer, but what was the answer? In both cases it was: No central record of these recommendations is held." —[Official Report, 15 February 1988; Vol. 127, c. 439.] In other words, the Minister, on a central point in his justification of the Bill, does not know, and the Government do not know. He may not have known at the beginning of the debate in Committee and he may not have known at the Second Reading, but he has had time to find out. The Minister and the Government do not want to know.

We have yet to see the true extent of the Government's rush to minimise humanity in this field of law. The Bill is bad enough, but its administration will be in accordance with immigration rules which have yet to be published. On 3 December, the Minister promised in Committee that he would give us those details. He did not promise to give us some vague outline or just to talk about them. He said: I shall present the changes that are consequential on the Bill receiving Royal Assent. I shall gladly do so at the earliest opportunity, for example, next Tuesday."—[Official Report, Standing Committee D, 3 December 1987; c. 138.] The Minister promised to tell us what would be in the rules. That was clearly greeted with horror and panic by his ministerial colleagues and officials and he has chosen to be more economical with the truth than he intended. Instead of draft rules, he gave us meaningless gobbledegook. Instead of withdrawing his promise, which would have been the honest thing to do, he withdrew all meaning from his response to our questions.

It is inconceivable that the Government could have come forward with the Bill without a clear idea of what will be in the rules. It is inconceivable that the Minister has not had a final draft of the rules in his in-tray for weeks or even months and could not have made it available to us. It is an insult to the House that we still do not know what the rules will be. I warn Conservative Members that they do not yet know the full extent of what will happen as a result of the Bill.

Many people were convinced that the Government would be bound to withdraw clause 4, which does such damage to appeal rights. On Second Reading, my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) condemned the Bill as wholly unnecessary, denying the rights of British citizens who happen to be black or Asian and denying the right of family unity to men and women living in the country.

Nothing has changed, despite all our efforts in Committee. This remains a Bill which panders to prejudice and will heighten rather than reduce racial tension. That is a simple statement of fact, not an inflammatory comment. It remains a disgrace to a democratic Parliament. If any Conservative Members remain who still retain a concern for fairness, justice and humanity, they will surely feel honour bound to join us in voting against this nasty, squalid little Bill.

10.4 pm

Mr. Renton

My hon. Friends and I disagree with almost everything that the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) has said. However, I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate him on his maiden speech from the Opposition Dispatch Box. Although I disagreed with him, he showed a degree of vigour. He said that we had showed a degree of vigour in pushing through the Immigration Bill. Those of us who sat in Committee and spent six hours per clause on a modest Bill may wonder about that vigour, but I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comment none the less. I am sure that it was well-intended.

I do not intend to delay the House long, as we have gone over the arguments repetitively and incessantly and the House has still to deal with some important business. I wish only to make two or three minor points.

I thank my hon. Friends the Members for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold) and for Fylde (Mr. Jack) for their interesting and wise speeches and for their support of our visit visa system and the way in which it is operating at present. They saw the wisdom of the system and the protection that it gives people. That was in contrast to the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) who, typically, talked about a spider's web of controls. In the eight months that I have been Minister responsible for immigration, it is not the spider's web of controls that has struck me, but the superstructure of appeal upon appeal that we have created to protect people, to ensure that the overstayer is not sent away unfairly and that a person is not improperly deported.

When I took up my post at the Home Office, I was struck by the number of letters that I was required to sign, pointing out to Members of Parliament who had made representations to me that they or their predecessor had first written to me in 1983, for example, saying that the person about whom they were writing had originally come here for 30 days. He had then disappeared and had not been seen or found for three or four years. He then made an appeal to change the leave under which he was in this country. The case had gone to the adjudicator, then to the appellate tribunal and then to a Member of Parliament.

I am still writing frequent letters to hon. Members saying, "Your constituent first came here for 30 days, perhaps five years ago."

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Renton

No, I shall not give way, as the House wishes to go on. With respect to my hon. Friend, I must get on.

I continue my letters to hon. Members by saying, "Your constituent has exhausted the system. It is time for him to go."

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman


Mr. Renton

That is how other countries see us. We have a superstructure of appeal. We are the only country in Europe, other than West Germany, to have an appeal system for those who are refused visit visas, yet we get no credit for that from the Opposition. That was reflected in the speech of the hon. Member for Leicester, East.

The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. Randall) and other Opposition Members rebuked us for the chaos at Lunar house. I have already described the measures that we are taking to deal with that. It must stick in the craw of Opposition Members that they voted against our changes in immigration rules three weeeks ago, when routine changes to those rules would have removed about 20 per cent. of the immigration cases from Lunar house. It is therefore impossible for people to be as hypocritical as Opposition Members and to chide us for those delays, yet vote against procedural changes that would deal with those problems.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman


Mr. Renton

I will not give way to my hon. Friend. I do not propose to give way to anyone, because there is important business ahead for the House.

We established one thing of which my hon. Friends who were not in the Chamber earlier should be aware. I asked the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West whether, if he was ever in office, he would cancel the visit visa system that we had introduced. He could not answer. We heard from the hon. Member for Leicester, East that he would cancel it and from the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) that he would cancel it, but the Opposition Front Bench does not know.

That emphasises the problem of the Opposition on immigration. They have told us that they would cancel the Immigration Act 1971 and the British Nationality Act 1981, but we never hear what they would put in their place. All they tell us is that they would do all this, and that only 1,000 more people would come into the country every year. What hypocrisy; what humbug—and they know it as well.

The Bill has been discussed enough. I support fully the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Hargreaves) who talked about the importance of racial harmony. I share that view. I believe that racial prejudice and racial discrimination are barbaric habits which have no place in a civilised or democratic society. Fair but firm immigration control is an essential precondition of racial harmony. The Bill makes modest but sensible changes. Our immigration controls will remain effective and flexible. That is in the interests of all people in Britain, whatever their ethnic origins. I commend the Bill wholeheartedly to the House.

Question put, That the Bill be read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 278, Noes 214.

Division No. 183] [10.12 pm
Adley, Robert Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard
Aitken, Jonathan Brandon-Bravo, Martin
Alexander, Richard Brazier, Julian
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Brittan, Rt Hon Leon
Amess, David Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Amos, Alan Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Arbuthnot, James Browne, John (Winchester)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Ashby, David Buck, Sir Antony
Aspinwall, Jack Budgen, Nicholas
Atkins, Robert Burns, Simon
Atkinson, David Burt, Alistair
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Butcher, John
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Butcher, Chris
Baldry, Tony Butterfill, John
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Batiste, Spencer Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Carrington, Matthew
Bellingham, Henry Carttiss, Michael
Bendall, Vivian Cash, William
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Benyon, W. Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Bevan, David Gilroy Colvin, Michael
Biffen, Rt Hon John Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Couchman, James
Blackburn, Dr John G. Currie, Mrs Edwina
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Body, Sir Richard Devlin, Tim
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Dorrell, Stephen
Boscawen, Hon Robert Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Boswell, Tim Dover, Den
Bottomley, Peter Dunn, Bob
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Durant, Tony
Bowis, John Dykes, Hugh
Emery, Sir Peter Lightbown, David
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Lilley, Peter
Fairbairn, Nicholas Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Fookes, Miss Janet Lord, Michael
Forman, Nigel McCrindle, Robert
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Forth, Eric Maclean, David
Fox, Sir Marcus McLoughlin, Patrick
Franks, Cecil McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Gale, Roger McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Garel-Jones, Tristan Madel, David
Gill, Christopher Major, Rt Hon John
Glyn, Dr Alan Malins, Humfrey
Goodhart, Sir Philip Mans, Keith
Gow, Ian Marland, Paul
Gower, Sir Raymond Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Gregory, Conal Maude, Hon Francis
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Grist, Ian Meyer, Sir Anthony
Ground, Patrick Miller, Hal
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Mills, Iain
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) Miscampbell, Norman
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hampson, Dr Keith Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Hanley, Jeremy Moate, Roger
Hannam, John Monro, Sir Hector
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Morrison, Hon P (Chester)
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Moss, Malcolm
Harris, David Mudd, David
Haselhurst, Alan Neale, Gerrard
Hawkins, Christopher Nelson, Anthony
Hayes, Jerry Neubert, Michael
Hayward, Robert Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Heathcoat-Amory, David Nicholls, Patrick
Heddle, John Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Hill, James Page, Richard
Hind, Kenneth Paice, James
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Patnick, Irvine
Holt, Richard Pawsey, James
Hordern, Sir Peter Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Howard, Michael Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Porter, David (Waveney)
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Portillo, Michael
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Price, Sir David
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Raffan, Keith
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Hunter, Andrew Redwood, John
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Renton, Tim
Irvine, Michael Rhodes James, Robert
Irving, Charles Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Jack, Michael Riddick, Graham
Jackson, Robert Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Janman, Tim Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Jessel, Toby Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Roe, Mrs Marion
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Rossi, Sir Hugh
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Rost, Peter
Key, Robert Rowe, Andrew
Kilfedder, James Rumbold, Mrs Angela
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Sackville, Hon Tom
Kirkhope, Timothy Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Knapman, Roger Shaw, David (Dover)
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Knowles, Michael Shelton, William (Streatham)
Knox, David Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lang, Ian Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Latham, Michael Shersby, Michael
Lawrence, Ivan Sims, Roger
Lee, John (Pendle) Skeet, Sir Trevor
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Soames, Hon Nicholas
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Speed, Keith
Speller, Tony Waddington, Rt Hon David
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W) Waldegrave, Hon William
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Walden, George
Squire, Robin Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Steen, Anthony Waller, Gary
Stern, Michael Ward, John
Stevens, Lewis Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Warren, Kenneth
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood) Watts, John
Stokes, John Wells, Bowen
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Whitney, Ray
Sumberg, David Widdecombe, Ann
Summerson, Hugo Wiggin, Jerry
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Wilkinson, John
Taylor, John M (Solihull) Wilshire, David
Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman Winterton, Nicholas
Temple-Morris, Peter Wolfson, Mark
Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret Wood, Timothy
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Woodcock, Mike
Thornton, Malcolm Yeo, Tim
Townend, John (Bridlington) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Tracey, Richard Younger, Rt Hon George
Trippier, David
Trotter, Neville Tellers for the Ayes:
Twinn, Dr Ian Mr. Alan Howarth and
Vaughan, Sir Gerard Mr. Richard Ryder.
Abbott, Ms Diane Coleman, Donald
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Allen, Graham Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Anderson, Donald Corbyn, Jeremy
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Cousins, Jim
Armstrong, Hilary Cox, Tom
Ashdown, Paddy Crowther, Stan
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Cryer, Bob
Ashton, Joe Cummings, John
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Cunliffe, Lawrence
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Cunningham, Dr John
Battle, John Darling, Alistair
Beckett, Margaret Dewar, Donald
Beith, A. J. Dixon, Don
Bell, Stuart Dobson, Frank
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Doran, Frank
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Duffy, A. E. P.
Bermingham, Gerald Dunnachie, Jimmy
Bidwell, Sydney Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Blair, Tony Eadie, Alexander
Blunkett, David Eastham, Ken
Boyes, Roland Evans, John (St Helens N)
Bradley, Keith Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Fatchett, Derek
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Fearn, Ronald
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Fisher, Mark
Buchan, Norman Flannery, Martin
Buckley, George J. Flynn, Paul
Caborn, Richard Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Callaghan, Jim Foster, Derek
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Foulkes, George
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Fraser, John
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Fyfe, Maria
Canavan, Dennis Galbraith, Sam
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) George, Bruce
Clay, Bob Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Clelland, David Gordon, Mildred
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Graham, Thomas
Cohen, Harry Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Mowlam, Marjorie
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Mullin, Chris
Grocott, Bruce Murphy, Paul
Harman, Ms Harriet Nellist, Dave
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Healey, Rt Hon Denis O'Neill, Martin
Heffer, Eric S. Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Henderson, Doug Parry, Robert
Hinchliffe, David Patchett, Terry
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Pendry, Tom
Holland, Stuart Pike, Peter L.
Home Robertson, John Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Hood, Jimmy Primarolo, Dawn
Howells, Geraint Quin, Ms Joyce
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Radice, Giles
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Randall, Stuart
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Reid, Dr John
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Richardson, Jo
Ingram, Adam Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Janner, Greville Robertson, George
John, Brynmor Robinson, Geoffrey
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Rogers, Allan
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Rooker, Jeff
Lambie, David Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Lamond, James Rowlands, Ted
Leadbitter, Ted Ruddock, Joan
Leighton, Ron Salmond, Alex
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Sedgemore, Brian
Lewis, Terry Sheerman, Barry
Litherland, Robert Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Livingstone, Ken Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Livsey, Richard Short, Clare
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Skinner, Dennis
McAllion, John Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
McAvoy, Thomas Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
McCartney, Ian Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Macdonald, Calum A. Soley, Clive
McFall, John Spearing, Nigel
McGrady, Eddie Steel, Rt Hon David
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West) Steinberg, Gerry
McKelvey, William Stott, Roger
McLeish, Henry Strang, Gavin
McNamara, Kevin Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
McTaggart, Bob Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
McWilliam, John Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Madden, Max Turner, Dennis
Mahon, Mrs Alice Vaz, Keith
Mallon, Seamus Wall, Pat
Marek, Dr John Walley, Joan
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Warden, Gareth (Gower)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Wareing, Robert N.
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Martlew, Eric Wigley, Dafydd
Maxton, John Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Meacher, Michael Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Michael, Alun Wilson, Brian
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Winnick, David
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Worthington, Tony
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Wray, Jimmy
Moonie, Dr Lewis Young, David (Bolton SE)
Morgan, Rhodri
Morley, Elliott Tellers for the Noes:
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Mr. Frank Haynes and
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Mrs. Llin Golding.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.