HC Deb 05 July 1989 vol 156 cc368-410 7.14 pm
Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)

I beg to move, That this House deplores the Government's continued determination to operate laws which are racially discriminatory, as evidenced by their newly amended and consolidated immigration rules and the statement on their attitude towards DNA testing in immigration cases; and condemns the creation and perpetuation of second class citizenship which is the inevitable consequence of such laws. The motion provides an opportunity for hon. Members on both sides of the House to express their opinions on any aspect of immigration policy. I know that that is the intention of many of my right hon. and hon. Friends. However, I propose to concentrate almost exclusively on one aspect of immigration policy, which is the Government's proposals for the use of DNA testing as a means of establishing parentage.

I choose that one aspect of policy on which to concentrate in this essentially time-limited debate, because it is a new and major aspect of policy, and the proposals for dealing with that new situation, as set out by the Government, will undoubtedly cause hardship and distress to many British families.

Mr. Tim Devlin (Stockton, South)

[Interruption.] I am a little confused as to why the right hon. Gentleman did not raise this matter, which obviously is dear to his heart, in the immigration rules debate on 20 June or at Question Time on 11 May or on 15 June. Why has he been absent so many times and not raised the matter before?

Mr. Hattersley

I am afraid that there was so much discontent at what appears to have been a wholly irrelevant intervention that I did not hear what the hon. Gentleman said. If he wants to raise that irrelevancy again, I shall listen to him and try to answer him.

Mr. Devlin

I was wondering why the right hon. Gentleman did not raise those points on a number of occasions in the last few weeks, such as on 11 May, 15 June or 20 June, when he was here but said nothing. If the Opposition are going to raise these matters in debate, they should have raised them at other times, too.

Mr. Hattersley

I am glad that I gave the hon. Gentleman the opportunity to make his point, because it enables me to say what I was not going to say, but is worth saying. Most of these matters were discussed in the House at 12.30 am during the week before last. I conveyed my personal view to the Home Secretary in a conversation behind the Chair that the introduction of the new rules, our prayers against them, and his introduction of DNA testing were not suitable subjects to be debated in the middle of the night. I also conveyed to the Home Secretary my view that, had the Prime Minister either sufficient courtesy or sufficient courage, she would have answered my letter and justified the policy on DNA testing. Although I wrote to her three months ago, I have not yet received a reply. It is for such reasons that the Opposition took the proper decision, and this entirely legitimate chance, to debate this matter in our time. If the hon. Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Devlin) would like me to expand on that theme, I would be happy to do so. [Interruption.]

As the hon. Member for Stockton, South would not, I shall say why I want to deal almost exclusively with one aspect of immigration policy. I repeat that the policy proposals on DNA testing, as set out by the Government, will cause hardship and distress to many British families. I want to emphasise that. The men and women who are asking and have asked for the entry of their sons and daughters into this country are British citizens. They are as British as any hon. Member. We are talking not about our attitude towards alien people, but our attitude towards British citizens. They may happen to be Moslems, or brown or black, or have been born outside Britain or be the children of men and women born outside Britain, but they are British citizens. It is citizens in that category against whom the Government are operating.

The new proposals were set out by the Home Secretary in a written answer rather than in a proper statement to the House and, if I can command the attention of the hon. Member for Stockton, South, that is another reason for this debate today. Those crucial proposals affecting civil liberties were not given in a proper announcement to the House, but by way of an arranged written answer to one of the Home Secretary's cronies on the Conservative Back Benches.

My second reason for concentrating on DNA testing is to illustrate the truth behind the Government immigration policies. When DNA testing is examined, all the talk of matching firmness with fairness is revealed as simple humbug. The Government's immigration policy is not based on any set of consistent and defensible principles. It is not based on any effective criteria against which legitimate rights can be measured.

Too often we describe visitors as immigrants when they are no such thing. Too often they are treated as immigrants who want to settle here when all they want to do is to spend a few weeks with their family and friends. The Government's policy towards those visitors and to immigrants is based on the simple principle of keeping the numbers down to an absolute minimum—at least, keeping numbers down to an absolute minium when those visitors come from Africa, the Caribbean or the Indian sub-continent. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear".] I hear Conservative Members below the Gangway saying, "Hear, hear".

There was a time in the House when even the Tory party would have been ashamed to espouse such attitudes openly. Perhaps the Secretary of State will take this opportunity to disown such opinion. He may want to take this opportunity to disown some of the speeches made in that late night debate.

Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North)

The right hon. Gentleman started his speech, as he normally does, on the basis that the Government are wrong in trying to keep numbers to a minimum. Is he totally convinced that every visitor who comes here is a genuine visitor and that every visitor returns to his home once the time during which he is allowed to remain here has expired?

Mr. Hattersley

Of course I could not be convinced that every visitor is genuine and that every visitor returns to his homeland. What I know as a certainty—it will be confirmed by my hon. Friends who face this problem day by day—is that hundreds of genuine visitors who want to come here for a brief period and who are genuine and honest in their offers to return home at the end of their alloted span are not allowed to come into this country. That is especially true if they come from the Indian sub-continent.

Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Heath)

Would my right hon. Friend care to contemplate that the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) supported the right to citizenship of Zola Budd? She came here and jumped every queue. She gave an undertaking to remain here permanently, but she has now returned to South Africa. She remains a British citizen and, as far as I can judge from the latest Government proposals, she will be entitled to vote at the next general election.

Mr. Hattersley

Yes, my right hon. Friend has highlighted the double standards that are constantly displayed on the Conservative Benches.

The canard about the bogus visitor is easy to express in the House and it is easy for it to be taken up by our worst newspapers. In the past 25 years I have dealt with thousands of visitors who have come to this country for a brief period, before and after the visa system was introduced. In that time I do not believe that the Home Office, the immigration department or the police have had to deal with more than 25 overstayers. If I am in error I trust that the Home Secretary and the Minister of State will prove me wrong by quoting from their records. Most of my experience relates to visitors from the Indian sub-continent and from Pakistan and often those visitors come here for a specific purpose, be it a family party, a wedding or a religious festival. They have every intention of returning home and do so. It does Conservative Members below the Gangway no credit to hiss about overstayers when they cannot provide any proof. They do so because they find it racially satisfactory to continue the rumour.

Mr. John Carlisle

What evidence does the right hon. Gentleman have to prove that such overstaying does not take place? How does he know that all visitors are genuine? Under what system can he absolutely guarantee that such visitors return to their homes?

Mr. Hattersley

What sort of question is that? How do I know that the hon. Gentleman does not cheat on his tax returns? The only way that I know that is because I rely on the authority of Government and on the agencies of Government to abide by the law. How do I know that the hon. Gentleman did not burgle a neighbour on the way here this morning? The only way I know that is because I believe that the Home Office and the agencies of the law operate properly. I know about the integrity of my constituents in exactly the same way as I know about the hon. Gentleman's integrity and, frankly, I would gamble on them with rather more certainty.

Before the hon. Member for Luton, North made his unsubstantiated allegations I said that there was a time in this House when the sort of stuff that we heard a moment ago would have been disowned by a series of Home Secretaries who genuinely believed in a racially equal society. Today the big difference is not in the attitude of the Home Secretary, but in the attitude of the Prime Minister, who colours, dominates and determines such matters.

Yesterday the Prime Minister was asked in the House to justify the new DNA rules. She did not even attempt to justify their objectivity, justice or fairness. She did not even give the sort of apologia that we shall hear from the Home Secretary shortly. The Prime Minister simply said that the reason why we have the new DNA rules was that she was not prepared to allow any more immigrants into the country. That is, of course, unless they can buy their way in at £150,000 a time. That is one of the principles of fairness and firmness applied to immigration by the Government.

Mr. Tim Janman (Thurrock)

The right hon. Gentleman has denounced the Prime Minister and Government policy. He says that it is wrong to allow people to buy their way in. India is another country which operates such a system and its high commission told me: "The Indian Government decides each application on its own merits and the applicant's financial position or sponsorship would probably be taken into account." There are plenty of countries across the world that, intelligently, operate a qualitative sieve of the immigrants that they allow in.

Mr. Hattersley

The hon. Gentleman may hold the view that if the Indian Government do it, it is bound to be right, but that is not a principle to which I subscribe. The idea that, because the Indians do it, we should do it as well is a new dictum in British parliamentary democracy. The Indians are wrong in that particular, just as we are.

It is important to consider the effect of the DNA rules and what they show us about our immigration system. The new DNA rules will deny entry—it is not a matter of dispute or doubt—to men and women who applied to come here as children, believing that they had a legal right to do so, but whose legal right was denied. We now know from DNA testing that some applicants—the numbers are uncertain—who had the legal right were denied entry on the wrong evidence as examined by an immigration officer and subsequently by an adjudicator and possibly a tribunal. Under the new DNA rules, although a child had the legitimate right to enter this country and although his right was proved beyond any doubt or disagreement subsequent to it being denied initially, there will be no redress for the wrong done. The Government will not make up in any way for their initial error.

I find it indefensible that children who were prevented from joining their parents in this country by what was at best a mistake and who have undoubtedly been done a grave injustice should not have that wrong righted. It is worth repeating that they would be allowed in if they possessed £150,000. Notwithstanding that, I am sure that, as I predicted during an intervention, the Home Secretary will tell us of his determination to be fair in the application of immigration policy. He will not be surprised that we do not believe him. I hope that he will consider the evidence suggesting the unfairness demonstrated by the new DNA rules.

The new DNA rules also highlight a complaint which the Opposition have made during the past 10 years. Men and women who are entitled to enter this country, even under the present oppressive rules, are often kept out because of the harsh way in which these rules are implemented. The best that can be said about the implementation of the rules, the way in which they are used at ports of entry and the frequent attitude of officers towards them, is that the Government are so anxious to keep one illegal immigrant out of Britain that they exclude a dozen legitimate applicants just to make sure. That is certainly the result of the primary purpose rule, which divides many genuine families by denying husbands the right to enter this country because they cannot answer the negative question.

Those husbands cannot demonstrate beyond any doubt and dubiety that marriage is their only reason for entering this country. I know from my own experience that there are thousands of women in this country who entered into an honourable, honest and lasting marriage who have been denied the support which a Government who talk about the family should provide by allowing their husbands to enter the country.

I saw that, in his egregious way, the Minister, the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton) shook his head when I criticised the primary purpose rule. All hon. Members know that, if we had said two years ago that many children had been denied entry into this country even though they were related to their parents as they claimed, he would have reacted in just the same way. He would have said that there was no evidence to support that claim, that every genuine child was allowed in, and that every son and daughter whose father and mother were genuinely and properly resident here were allowed in. The Government have been proved wrong over that, and I have no doubt that they are equally wrong in the way that they apply the primary purpose rule and separate legitimate husbands and wives who are party to an honest and honourable marriage.

The obvious conclusion to be drawn from the DNA rules is that the Government cannot be trusted to apply policies on ministerial discretion. When I met the Home Secretary and others to discuss this subject last week, he said that he believed that the best possible protection for the DNA-proven son or daughter whose relationship was once denied, but which had now been incontrovertibly proved, was to allow the Home Secretary discretion to use the compassion which we must trust him to possess. I do not accept that, because I do not believe that the Home Secretary will act with objectivity and compassion, or do anything when presented with individual cases other than use all his power to prevent the individual who has previously been excluded from entering this country.

I shall tell him the reasons for my judgment about his future conduct. I have seen, as have many hon. Members, the Home Office's official working document which constitutes the beginnings of the rules which officers of the Department are to use and apply. It talks about the compassionate entry of, for example, the young man of 20 who should have been allowed in three years ago when he was 17, was told that he was not the son of his father and has subsequently been proved to be the son of his father. When deciding whether he should be allowed into this country, even though he is above the age of 18, the immigration services have been instructed to implement the following rule outlined in the Government-produced document: It will be crucial to hold this line to ensure the concession remains the exception rather than the rule. The discretion based on the compassionate agreement that a man or woman should enter is to be calculated by the arithmetic of immigration. What happens if a majority of the cases involving men and women who should have been let in years ago, were turned down but have now proved the legitimacy of their application, come to him and say, "My father in Britain is frail and needs attention," or, "My mother in Britain is sick and on her own," or, "I am ill and need the help of my parents now living in Britain"? According to his own rules, if a majority of cases are like that, the Secretary of State will say, "Don't worry me about compassion. My rule is that it is crucial to hold the line to ensure that concession remains the exception rather than the norm." To tell us that the rules will be implemented with fairness as well as firmness makes a mockery of the English language and does nothing for the Home Secretary's reputation.

The DNA issue illustrates another point which I have already mentioned: the fallibility of the present procedures for determining the legitimacy of an immigrant's claim that he or she has the right to entry. We have always known that applications for entry which are legitimate under the present rules are turned down at the point of entry. We have always known that the examination of appeals by adjudicators was no guarantee of justice. We have known of those two points because the attitude of port officials when examining an application is unavoidably influenced by the climate created by the Government who employ them. If the officials think that the Home Secretary expects them to be tough or if, having read what is said in the House of Commons, they think that the Home Secretary has neither the inclination nor the courage to repudiate some of the statements made by Conservative Back Benchers, those officials will believe it their duty to use the rules to keep people out rather than let them in.

Mr. Peter Thurnham (Bolton, North-East)

The right hon. Gentleman talked about arithmetic a few moments ago, and referred to the Prime Minister's reply the other day and an immigration level of 40,000 or 50,000. If the Labour party was in government and had repealed the legislation as it says it would, what would the level of immigration be then? Would it not be three or four times as high?

Mr. Hattersley

I urge the hon. Gentleman to focus on the important point, which is to let in people who deserve to be let in and not those who do not so deserve. For example, I think that under the next Labour Government, more husbands will be allowed in and fewer men and women will be allowed to buy their way in at £150,000 a time. One rule cancels out another. Does the Home Secretary agree with the hon. Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Thurnham) if he is saying that we should establish a number and not worry about the merits or care whether those seeking entry are genuine husbands or dependent relatives? That is one sort of immigration policy, but until the Prime Minister gave her answer on Tuesday it was a policy which not even this Government had said they operated.

The Government at least pretend that they do not add up the numbers, but let people in according to the individual merits of the case. It so happens that the Prime Minister blew the gaff last Tuesday. The hon. Gentleman may be pleased about that. Frankly, I am ashamed to be a citizen of a country in which the Prime Minister holds such standards.

The DNA tests demonstrate that the Government and their agencies made mistakes, partly because of the pressure placed on individuals by the Government's attitude and partly because of the adjudicators. The more I read of adjudicators' determinations on immigration cases, the more worried I become, not about immigration, but about adjudicators' standards and forensic abilities. Having made the mistakes, partly because of the atmosphere created, the Government—in the judgment of every reasonable man and woman—have an obligation to provide some redress to those men and women who were wrongly excluded two or three years ago and who should now be allowed in. It is shameful of the Home Secretary to defend keeping out men and women who should once have been allowed in—we can demonstrate that—by inventing retrospectively a new rule about the entry of sons and daughters.

When I saw the Home Secretary last week he told me that the rule governing the entry of sons and daughters was always related to their dependency status. That rule has never been written down anywhere in the immigration regulations and I had never heard it expressed until the Home Secretary invented it to defend what he is doing. Until the DNA testing procedure showed that sons and daughters who should have been allowed in were not, the fact of being a son or daughter of a British citizen and under the qualifying age of 18 automatically meant that a person had a right to enter. Such people had the automatic right when they were turned down, so it is wholly unacceptable in a civilised society that the Home Secretary should say that they may have been dependent at the time of refusal but that they are not now, so the Home Office does not intend to make up for the mistake that it made, thereby compensating them for their legitimate grievance.

Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton)

I want to understand what the right hon. Gentleman is saying. If someone has been excluded—wrongly, as it now seems—but has established a family in his own country, is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting that he should be allowed to settle permanently in Britain with his family, despite having made a life for himself abroad?

Mr. Hattersley

I am. I make no apology for doing so. Governments should be responsible for their mistakes. The hon. and learned Gentleman is hoping to raise the spectre of what is called "paving" in certain circles—that of a man getting in and then bringing his wife and three children—a spectre that some Conservative Members are pleased to welcome. Most of the people who applied to come here did so because they wanted to maintain their links with families in the United Kingdom. Many of them wanted to help elderly parents in their declining years and all whom we have discussed this evening had a legitimate right to enter. The Government cannot deny a person a right which is his in law and then say that, having denied him that right three years ago, they have no obligation to make up for it. The Government are not entitled to say that they may have taken money off a person wrongly but that they do not have to pay it back because that person is well off now.

The Government have made mistakes and they should make up for them now. I have no doubt that if they had made such a mistake in respect of any community other than the Asian community in this country they would have redressed it by themselves. They believe that Asians in general and Bangladeshis in particular can be tyrannised, but they would not do that to anyone else—

Ms. Clare Short (Birmingham, Ladywood)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that this reveals the hypocrisy of the Government in relation to the Helsinki Final Act—the right to family unity applies to some families, but, it appears, not to Asians?

Another example of the Government's double standards is this: before DNA testing became available, someone who was over 18 and who later proved that he had been wrongly refused entry was allowed entry provided that he had not formed his own family. The Government are now going back on that because DNA testing would prove that so many wrong decisions had been taken. So even the Government's former practice is being torn up—they are going backwards.

Mr. Hattersley

I share my hon. Friend's contempt for this continual deterioration of standards in the immigration laws of this country. To put it as kindly as I can, year after year the Government have tightened them up in a way that is intended to exclude rather than to examine on merit.

Of course there must be strict controls and a major policy of immigration which prevents a large number of people who want to enter the country from doing so, but the controls must be based on honest and objective rules which can be defended openly and which are not changed as we go along when the Government see an opportunity to turn the screw tighter and to prevent people from entering who have honourable and legitimate—and previously lawful—reasons for doing so.

I have spoken for rather longer than I intended, largely because of interventions, and I want to give other hon. Members a chance to express their position. I conclude by telling the Home Secretary what we believe should happen.

All men and women who were unlawfully excluded as a result of Government inadequacy, mistakes or incompetence should be allowed into the country now. The idea of allowing the Home Secretary to judge which of them may or may not be allowed in does not seem tolerable, as we have seen the Home Office make such judgments before.

Another issue is that of what should be done about DNA in the future. I shall outline to the Home Secretary what we believe the procedure should be, not all of which divides us from him but some of which differs crucially from the proposals that he has been kind enough to reveal to the House in written answers and from the proposals that we know of from the leaked Home Office memorandum.

First, a man or woman applying for entry to this country as a son or daughter of a British citizen should be offered two alternative methods of proving that relationship. Such people should be allowed what I will call the traditional procedures—arguing on the evidence, supported by interview, that they are related as claimed. I hope that, if nothing else, I have made it clear today that we should like that procedure to be a good deal more objective, exact and dispassionate.

Secondly, such people should be allowed the DNA route of proof as an alternative. Applicants should be allowed to choose which route to follow, and there should be no inference that following one route is a confession of failure. To be precise, no one should think, let alone write down, that if a person was really a man's son he would have taken the DNA test. Both routes should be regarded as legitimate.

Such people should also have the right to switch from the traditional method of interview and evidence to DNA while the procedures are under way, if they want to and if, more importantly, they discover that they can afford to. I hope that the Home Secretary will make it clear in public —I am grateful to him for having made it clear to me in private last week—that if an applicant follows the DNA route and the DNA evidence is conclusive according to the scientists who do the test, that in itself will automatically be enough to ensure the entry of the person who has taken the test.

However, taking the DNA test is, as the Home Secretary knows only too well, only the beginning of the problem. DNA testing can cost, experience suggests, anything from £350 to £600. The figures at either end of that scale are beyond the pockets of many of the applicants who would most need the test. I do not understand the logic or the justice of a system which gives a person the right in law to bring in a son or daughter but prevents him from exercising that right because he cannot afford the proof. That is the very negation of a liberal and free society. It is essential that men and women who cannot afford the necessary proof to establish their legitimate claim be helped to provide the proof by the state, just as other legal systems are subsidised by the state so that other forms of juctice can be obtained by the poor and disadvantaged.

Ms. Mildred Gordon (Bow and Poplar)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it would also be very helpful if people were allowed to have blood tests taken at clinics in rural areas, since otherwise the expense and difficulty of travelling long distances is another disincentive?

Mr. Hattersley

I agree with my hon. Friend, and I go further. I know that one of the great disincentives to immigrants coming here from the Indian sub-continent is that, having turned up in Karachi after travelling overland for a day and a half to have an interview, six months later they get a letter saying that the interview was not conclusive and they have to travel overland again for a day and a half and have another interview. The entire system of examining immigration applications is based on the theory that if we can make it difficult for them to get in, we do so. The day has to come when we end that overt, conscious and deliberate disincentive.

I conclude by saying what it is essential should be said about the cost of DNA testing. It will be intolerable if individual applicants are required to pay their own fees, for that will simply mean that only the rich and never the poor will have conclusive DNA tests. It will be equally intolerable if the cost of this comparatively expensive test is borne by every other applicant to enter this country. That is clearly the Government's intention. In the memorandum that many of us have seen, one paragraph says that the Home Secretary, or perhaps the luckless Foreign Secretary, should make a separate announcement about the cost of the scheme shortly before the scheme comes into effect, to avoid a rush of applications aimed at beating the associated increase in settlement fees.

That can mean only one thing—that the cost of DNA testing is to be spread across every visitor who wants to come here, every husband who wants to join his wife, or every dependent relative. A second conclusion can be drawn, since the Home Secretary said that he has not yet made up his mind how the fees are to be levied, but I am not sure how I could express that conclusion and remain within the rules of order.

What ought to happen is that, as with the whole business of legal aid, which is intended to help poor families to obtain justice, the cost of DNA testing should be a legitimate charge on the state. If it is not, the net result will be a perpetuation of the scandal that caused this debate. Young men and women who are entitled to be in this country with their parents will be denied the right to enter and live here, because they will not be able to afford the DNA test. That is an abomination and I should be more than grateful, I should be delighted, on behalf of my constitents if I heard from the Home Secretary that not even this Government are prepared to go that far.

7.52 pm
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Douglas Hurd)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and add instead thereof: 'commends the Government's determination to operate an immigration policy which is both firm and fair, as evidenced by their new amended and consolidated immigration rules; and welcomes the Government's announcement on the use of DNA testing in immigration cases.'. Although the motion tabled by the Labour party goes wide, quite legitimately, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) confined himself to a narrow illustration of it. I shall range rather more widely, although I shall come to the point that he made. I shall deal also with the general background, and say a word about students, who are involved in the immigration rules changes covered by the motion, and about refugees, as Turkish Kurds are also covered by the immigration rules.

I shall begin by talking about the background, and what I have to say I have for some time hoped to have an opportunity to say in the House. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook and I cross swords on several matters and I have come to the conclusion, rather reluctantly, that this is the one on which we probably differ most strongly. As the right hon. Gentleman said tonight, he regards our policy as arbitrary and prejudiced. I regard the Labour party policy on these matters as being composed of one part idealism and nine parts opportunism and muddle, the most charitable analysis being that the Labour party has not thought it through.

During the 1950s, 1960s and the 1970s, large numbers of people arrived here for settlement and in the early part of that period, there was no let or hindrance to that under the law as it stood. The first immigration restrictions were imposed in 1962 and they were substantially strengthened in 1971. Both those measures were strenuously opposed by the Labour party in opposition, but both were enforced and strengthened by it when in power. Whatever the rhetoric of Opposition, the facts, when they have to be faced, are obstinate but clear. This massive change set—and to some extent continues to set—substantial problems, particularly in our cities. The dangers of resentment and prejudice, which lead to blindness and inhumanity, were and still are very great. I defy any Labour Member who represents a city area to deny the truth of that.

Successive Governments of both parties have had to deal with those dangers and there is no difference between us on that. We believe as strongly as any in working strenuously against discrimination and for equality of opportunity, to encourage members of the minorities—many of whom, as the right hon. Gentleman said, are British citizens—to live in peace and harmony in our cities and to climb, without hindrance or discouragement, all the professional ladders that exist in a free and varied society. I yield to no hon. Member in my desire to see that happen. For example, I am glad that, although the figures are still low, since 1976, when there were 182 members of the ethnic minorities in the police forces of England and Wales, that figure has increased to 1,209. It is still too low, but it is a sign of the progress that we have been making and that we are encouraging.

Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East)

I am fascinated by the Home Secretary's history lesson. I was one of the immigrants who came to this country, on 15 August 1965. The right hon. Gentleman can hear this from me. What causes most fear and resentment in inner-city areas is, first, inflammatory speeches made by politicians such as the one made in 1968 by Enoch Powell. The second cause is speeches such as those made by the Home Secretary and his colleagues recently in Bradford and Birmingham, in which they lectured the immigrant community about being law-abiding citizens. The third cause is the Government's immigration policy, which denies people the right to family unity.

Mr. Hurd

I shall refer to that 1968 speech, the importance of which I acknowledge. However, the hon. Gentleman is an example of the process about which I was talking. I was not going to refer to him because I do not want to be patronising, but I welcome the day, which will not be long delayed, when the Conservative party also has members of the ethnic minorities as duly elected Members of Parliament. That is part of the process about which I am talking, and it is to be encouraged.

A condition of that progress and of the effort for equality of opportunity, however, is firm and fair immigration control. If it were felt by the majority that that control was severely weakened, I promise Labour Members that the patient work that we all do would be undermined and would fail. That is not a hypothesis—it very nearly happened in 1968. I do not wish to go into the merits or circumstances of that speech or of what happened to the Kenyan and Ugandan Asians, but remember that period vividly. I was working for my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) and I remember going to the west midlands with him. I came to the conclusion then, and I hold to it now, that if we are to work seriously for harmony, non-discrimination and equality of opportunity in our cities, that had to be accompanied by firm and fair immigration control.

Of course there should be understanding in individual cases. Of course there should be compassion—I do not shy away from that word. I hope that Opposition Members will say in public what they often say in private—that those qualities are evident in the way in which individual cases are handled by my hon. Friend the Minister of State and his officials. There are arguments about the outcome, but let no one say in public that those cases receive no human understanding.

Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax)

The Minister of State, whom the Home Secretary has just mentioned, refused to stop the deportation of a young man whom he had given a discretionary right to stay. The young man had been left in Pakistan at the age of 14. Eventually, when he reached the age of 21, it was admitted that he could come to this country, and that has been proved conclusively since. When the Minister refuses to stop such deportations, however, attitudes in the community are hardened. The Government's racist approach forges a new feeling.

Mr. Hurd

I do not think that the hon. Lady could substantiate her claim that my hon. Friend deals with individual cases in a racist way, or that there is a lack of understanding of such cases. She does her own cause no justice by making such observations.

So far, I have dealt with the general principle. I have to do that because it is so often neglected, although in my view it is fundamental to bringing about peace and harmony in our cities.

Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)

Before the Home Secretary leaves the general principle, may I ask whether he recognises that his stated objectives of firmness and fairness cannot be achieved if the criteria that inform the Government's policy are those spelt out by the Prime Minister on Tuesday, when she spoke of her unwillingness to allow any more people in? How could that possibly constitute a criterion of fairness?

Mr. Hurd

I have read Tuesday's Hansard. My right hon. Friend talked about annual incoming numbers of 40,000 to 50,000 and said that, in her view, that was enough. What she said was hardly a detailed statement of immigration policy.

The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook did not object to our setting up a DNA scheme. Before we get deeper into controversial waters, let me confirm that for some months now we have accepted the outcome of such a test as a conclusive answer.

Ms. Short

So it should—it provides absolute proof of legal entitlement.

Mr. Hurd

I am giving the right hon. Gentleman the answer that he wanted. The hon. Lady must not spoil the party.

There are two conditions for the admission of relatives under the law and the rules. One is relationship, and the other is dependence. Since 1977, 30,000 people applying to come here as dependants from the sub-continent have been refused on relationship grounds, the entry clearance office concluding that they were not relatives as they had claimed. Of those 30,000, 8,000 were lodging a claim for citizenship. That is a separate argument. If they sustained those claims, the question of relationship would not arise and the claims would be agreed.

A further 14,000 are still under 18 and, if the DNA test established the truth of their claims to relationship, they would be allowed in. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook glossed over that point. He gave the impression that we were excluding children who had now been found to have relatives here, although he did not actually say as much. Let me take the opportunity to deny that. The 14,000 who are still under 18 and who were rejected because their claims to relationship were not believed would be admitted if a DNA test established that their claims were correct, because both conditions would have been fulfilled.

Mr. Hattersley

If I gave the impression that the Government would deny children under 18 who had been turned down before the DNA test was established the chance to exercise their rights by means of that test, I concede at once that I was wrong, although I do not think that I gave such an impression. While we are in this ecumenical mood, however, will the Home Secretary confirm that a child under 18 who had been turned down because no proof had been provided in the traditional way would not, if he or she obtained a DNA certificate proving the relationship, be required to return to what is in many cases an over-long procedure? Would that child obtain a certificate there and then, or would he or she have to wait for years?

Mr. Hurd

I gather that the Foreign Office is considering the procedure. [Interruption.] I am trying to give an accurate answer off the cuff, but my hon. Friend the Minister may be able to spell it out.

Of the 30,000 applicants whom I have mentioned, 8,000 may or may not turn out to have relatives. If they reapplied, the answer might depend on the result of a DNA test. I do not accept the right hon. Gentleman's strictures—I do not think that it makes sense to assume that those 8,000 should be admitted whatever their present circumstances, and whether or not they are in the position described by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence). Although the law provides the assumption that someone under 18 is dependent, it does not provide the same assumption in regard to anyone over that age. If those applicants were admitted regardless, one of the conditions laid down by Parliament would no longer be fulfilled.

Mr. Vaz

Will the Home Secretary give way?

Mr. Hurd

No; I have already given way to the hon. Gentleman once.

I will repeat the conclusion that we have reached in case it is not clear. Some of those 8,000 may apply for a DNA test, and may prove a relationship previously denied, but they are now over 18. We propose to proceed on a case-by-case basis. If the applicant has settled into independent adult life, we see no reason to go beyond the existing provisions of the immigration rules. If, however, he is still dependent on his sponsor in the United Kingdom, and if there are compassionate circumstances, we shall be ready to use our discretion as sympathetically and flexibly as possible. It is a difficult decision to make, but I believe that that is a fair and reasonable way of approaching it.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Hurd

I will give way to the hon. Member for Preston (Mrs. Wise), who rose first, but then I mean to get on.

Mrs. Audrey Wise (Preston)

Leaving aside the question of manifest injustice, may I ask whether any Conservative Members have children over 18? Would they be prepared to say that those children should be compulsorily and permanently separated from their families in this way?

Mr. Hurd

When the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook brought a delegation to see me, one of his colleagues produced the case, which was not argued out in detail, of an elderly lady from Bangladesh living, I believe, in Tower Hamlets in the east end of London. She was frail and receiving income support, but it was said that she had, I believe, three sons who had successively had their relationship to her denied but who were doing well in Bangladesh and would be able to sustain their mother and keep her off income support. It was argued that, for the sake of family unification, it would be sensible to admit the three sons. It strikes me, however, that it would be common sense for that frail old lady to go back to Bangladesh where her sons would be able to maintain her. In such circumstances, I would not accept the argument about family unification put forward by the hon. Member for Preston.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

Will the Home Secretary give way?

Mr. Hurd

No, I intend to move on now.

I shall deal briefly with a point that is included in the rules to which hon. Members are objecting because it is an important test of attitudes. I refer to the student question. The vast majority of overseas students are genuine students and they are welcomed as such, but some people who enter this country as students are bogus students who do not come here to study. They come overwhelmingly from countries with similar regimes to our own. It is important not to stop people coming here as students, but we should say to them, "If you want to come here as a student, you should say so from the beginning—you should not come here as a visitor and then slide into being a student." I regard that as a test of attitudes. It is reasonable that the rules to which the Opposition object should include such a provision.

Mr. Hattersley

Does the Home Secretary believe that that rule should be applied to all students or that it should apply just to students of a particular ethnic origin?

Mr. Hurd

I regard it as reasonable where the mischief has arisen. [Interruption.] If the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook wishes to remain blind to the facts he can do so, but if he wishes to study the evidence of abuse, where it exists, and the proportion of it to be found in those countries where visas are required for entry to this country, we can provide him with it.

I turn to a matter about which we are constantly criticised and which may be dealt with by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling) because it is very close to his heart. I refer to the treatment of refugees, with particular reference to that part of the immigration laws which deals with the Turkish Kurds. The United Nations 1951 convention defines the test of asylum, the granting of refugee status, as owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion or nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. That definition is about 38 years old and it was devised for different circumstances, but it holds up very well. The United Nations draftsmen drafted the definition well and the text is still valid in changed circumstances. Those changed circumstances are very much on my mind as well as on the mind of every Minister who has to deal with these matters.

Large parts of the Third world and of eastern Europe are in ferment of one kind or another, and many people are suffering as a result of disorder or poverty. That puts a responsibility on us, as a substantial power and as a member of the international community, to do what we can to help. For the first time, however—this is the change which has come about—many people who live in those troubled areas have just enough information and just enough money to move to European countries, including this one. That has led to the new phenomenon of middle men. We saw it with the Tamils a few years ago, and we are beginning to see it again with the arrival of the Turkish Kurds. Middle men go to such people and gull them into parting with part of their savings in order to come here or to other European countries. They promise that it is all fixed—that when the people arrive they will get a job and a house and that it will be easy.

In the face of that change, which may continue for a long time, the question that should be argued through in the press and also in this House is whether we should stick to the 1951 convention and the definition that I quoted, or whether we should enlarge it and say that people unfortunate enough to live in countries less peaceful and prosperous than our own should for that reason be admitted. The 1951 convention provides—and we honour it—that every request for asylum should be individually examined. I believe that it is right to stick to the 1951 convention. Again, I believe that it is right to be flexible in individual cases and to make use of the right that I have to grant exceptional leave to remain in this country.

I should like to make the point—it would be interesting to have the Opposition's view on this—that if everyone who asked for asylum were to be admitted, as some press criticism comes very close to urging, the loophole in immigration control would be so wide as to amount to a drastic weakening of our immigration laws. [Interruption.] I have read a good deal of comment in the last few weeks which comes very close to advocating such a policy. [Interruption.] I have read consistent advice to the effect that we should be very much more lax, that we should move beyond the 1951 convention and its definition, which I have quoted, and be much more sympathetic to admitting people who come here not because of any well-founded fear of persecution but because they come from a disorderly or poverty-stricken part of the world. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman would deny that.

Mr. Hattersley

Until his last little flourish, the Home Secretary was wisely redefining his original assertion out of existence. As he wishes to pursue the case, I ask him in terms who has suggested that a person should have the right to enter this country simply because a man or woman designates himself as a refugee, and who has suggested that poverty should be one of the criteria for refugee status?

Mr. Hurd

There is a raft of press cuttings suggesting that in the context of—[Interruption.] I am not saying and I have never said that the right hon. Gentleman has advocated that at any time, but I am trying to coax him into a little strictness of expression about these matters, which I believe to be necessary.

Between May and the time when the visa regime came into effect on 22 June, 3,700 Turks asked for asylum in this country, 140 of whom went back without waiting for examination because they found that the conditions here were not as they had expected them to be. That is not a characteristic of a genuine refugee. So far, 171 have been interviewed, 15 of whom have been granted asylum, while 49 have been granted exceptional leave to remain and 23 have been refused asylum and removed. More than 77 are still in this country and our initial view is that they are not genuine refugees. I give those figures to show the scrupulous nature of the individual examination of such cases. All those who asked for asylum have been or are being individually examined.

Ms. Short

Those figures are interesting, but that is the first group of people who actually got in. Some of them have been found to be genuine refugees, and they have been treated accordingly. But has not the Home Secretary now changed the procedure with the result that absolutely genuine refugees can no longer get in? That is our complaint.

Mr. Hurd

I do not agree with the hon. Lady, but if she wishes to develop the point, the Minister of State—my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton) —will deal with it later. However, I do not believe that that is the case.

Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)

My right hon. Friend will be aware of the concern about the same point which has been expressed on behalf of asylum seekers who have gone through the appeals procedure and have then been sent back to their country of origin. A case involving four Tamils is currently being sponsored by Amnesty International, and that case is being dealt with. Will my right hon. Friend consider that point carefully? Without fully exhausting the appeals system, we may be returning to their country of origin people who could be regarded as being in moral and political danger in that country. There is clear evidence in a few cases that people have been persecuted on their return to their own country.

Mr. Hurd

I do not accept that point. I hesitate to say anything more because the matter is still before the courts, but I do not accept that we acted improperly in any way or in a way that was contrary to our obligations.

It is perfectly understandable that people should have expressed concern about the fact that some of the Turkish asylum applicants were being—and some still are—held in prison. I share the concern about that. At the peak, some 200 were being held in prison. Now there are 59 people being held in prison and 100 more in the accommodation provided for detained immigrants. The examination of their claims is being given priority. The alternative is to let into this country people who have no particular links here, and there is no particular reason to think that we would ever see them again if we did. That is a difficult choice for officers to make in individual cases. I very much hope that we can bring that episode to an end quickly now that the visa regime is in place.

Mr. Janman

I applaud the measures that the Government are introducing with regard to immigration from Turkey, but how will my right hon. Friend deal with the situation in future if Turkey's membership of the European Community is successful?

Mr. Hurd

Without trespassing on the territory of my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary, I can say that that problem is a little way off.

I will give the House the latest general figures on refugees. Last year, we received 5,100 applications for asylum and 3,700 decisions were taken. A quarter of those applying were accepted and 55 per cent. were given exceptional leave to remain. That shows the hon. Member for Ladywood the pattern. The rate of applications this year is about double that for last year. By the end of June, we had received about 5,000 applications.

Returning to the basic problem which the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook set and which was illustrated by the interventions in my speech, it is not enough for the right hon. Gentleman, when challenged by my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Thurnham), to say that he is in favour of immigration control, but that everything has to be considered on merit. We have to proceed by way of rules. Since I have had to study their attitudes, the right hon. Gentleman, his predecessor, and the Labour party have said loudly, particularly during elections—the right hon. Gentleman has also done so today—that they are strongly in favour of immigration control. Then, every time a decision comes up, every time a loophole identifies itself, and whenever any single category comes under discussion, they say that the Government should give way and that admission should be permitted.

That is not a possible way to proceed. It is possible to say that the numbers should be greatly increased and that the categories should be greatly relaxed, but it is not intellectually coherent or respectable for the Opposition to say that they are strongly in favour of immigration control and that they accept that harmony in our cities depends upon it, but that in every individual case they will have nothing to do with enforcing the rules.

I understand the short-term calculation which has led to those attitudes case by case. Control is bound to be unpopular with those who are disappointed by individual decisions. My hon. Friend the Minister of State and I come up against that time and again. We are bound to disappoint people in particular categories. The people of all races in our cities who benefit from strict control are hardly aware of that benefit, but such is life.

Administering control is a thankless task. I do not share the sneers and snide remarks that the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook devoted to those who have to administer the controls. I readily admit that I and my hon. Friend the Minister of State are fair game, but it was grossly unfair to speak in that way of the immigration officers. They do a thankless job but it is a necessary task. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman wants the National Front to triumph in his constituency. The National Front had no candidates at all in the last election. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman wants to see in Britain the changes in public opinion which sent six German MEPs representing anti-foreigner far Right parties to the European Parliament, and a similar number from France. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman wants that, but his attitude towards immigration control would bring that about if it were realised. It would cause suspicion and resentment, and plenty of people are ready to leap on that bandwagon.

My hon. Friend and I will continue to apply a strict but fair system of control, not because we are prejudiced or inhumane, but because we believe that control is needed if all the people who live in our cities are to live together in tolerance and decent harmony.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

Order. It will be evident to the House that many right hon. and hon. Members wish to speak. I hope that we can have very brief speeches.

8.24 pm
Mr. Peter Shore (Bethnal Green and Stepney)

The Home Secretary's speech ranged very widely and it is tempting to follow him, but because I am aware of the brevity of the debate, which has been supplied by the Opposition out of their own time, I shall pursue the matter of most immediate concern to myself, and probably to most right hon. and hon. Members in the House this evening—DNA tests and the so-called over-age reapplicant. Those are people who originally applied for entry certificates when they were children, who were refused because the entry clearance officers were not convinced by the evidence of their relationship to their parents, who have subsequently been vindicated by DNA tests and who are still to be denied entry certificates on the ground that they are now 18 and not dependants. I believe that a grave injustice has been done to them and their families, and instead of being remedied, that injustice will be perpetuated by Government policy.

Before I deal with that major theme, I want to discuss two important but lesser matters relating to the written answer given by the Home Secretary to the hon. Member for Bury, North (Mr. Burt) on 14 June and to remarks made by the Minister of State in the Adjournment debate on 21 June.

My first question concerns the scheme to be introduced later this year for organising DNA testing on a regular basis. In his written answer on 14 June the Home Secretary refers to the implementation of a Government scheme later this year in relation to first-time settlement applicants". Why does it apply only to first-time settlement applicants? Certainly DNA tests will be a valuable and conclusive proof of relationships when claims made on behalf of first-time applicants are in dispute. But the Home Secretary surely knows of the heartache and grievances felt not by first-time applicants, but by those who may have applied several times before, who have exhausted at least once the whole protracted appeals procedure and who have still been turned down. Why should they be excluded from the presumably faster and cheaper DNA testing scheme that the Government are to introduce? I hope that the Home Secretary or the Minister of State when he replies to the debate will answer that question.

My second question refers to the cost of DNA testing. The cost is heavy. My information is that a man and his wife with a family of three children will face a bill of some £2,000 for DNA testing. In his written answer the Home Secretary appeared to recognise that, when he said that it was necessary to strike a balance between not imposing too great a burden either on the individual applicant or on the taxpayer".—[Official Report, 14 June 1989; Vol. 154, c. 463—64.] That clearly suggests a scheme in which there would be a contribution from public funds as well as a fee charged to applicants.

However, in the Adjournment debate of 21 June, the Minister of State said: We made it clear from the outset that any DNA scheme will not be funded out of taxpayers' money. Our policy is that the cost of the entry clearance process should be met by the applicants themselves rather than by the taxpayer. On the face of it, the Home Secretary and the Minister of State seemed to be saying different things, but the Minister of State continued: We recognise, of course, that the tests are expensive, particularly where several members of the same family are applying."—[Official Report, 21 June 1989; Vol. 155 c. 472.] Can we get this clear? Is it the Government's intention that a small family will have to meet the whole cost of the DNA test whereas a large family will be assisted by the taxpayers' contribution to the DNA bill? I hope that the Minister of State will clear that up when he replies to the debate. Better still, I hope that he will agree that all the cost should be borne by the taxpayer. Most applicants come from poor families, and it is wrong that children who have a right to join their families should be denied the opportunity of a DNA test simply because their parents cannot afford it.

Ms. Short

DNA testing appears expensive, but I am sure that my right hon. Friend is aware how expensive existing procedures are. Our staff in the sub-continent are kept at much expense and provided with housing, so there are potential savings in using DNA. It is a cheek for the Government to say that people must pay for DNA tests when it is likely that they will lead to the Government saving money. Instead, the Government will extract more money from poor people for exercising their legal rights.

Mr. Shore

Savings may be made, but we are not in a position to say definitely. It is intolerable if people who are entitled to a DNA test, in the firm belief that it will provide the necessary evidence to join their parents and obtain an entry certificate, are unable to do so simply because they do not have the money. We surely cannot justify such a position. The analogy by my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) with legal aid for poor people who cannot afford our system of justice is surely applicable in this case.

Mr. Lawrence

Is not the logic of the right hon. Gentleman's argument that it is iniquitous that people who cannot afford to come here under their own steam should not be subsidised by having their fares paid by the British taxpayer? Is that not the same argument?

Mr. Shore

I do not think that it is; that would carry the issue to a point that I would not accept. The argument about separating children from their parents because they do not have the money to provide the necessary proof cannot be accepted by any sensible and civilised person who holds the values that should be predominant in our public life.

My main concern is about an applicant being refused entry as a child whose relationship is proved by a DNA test but is over 18 when the new evidence comes to light. Clearly, in such a case a great injustice has been done. I know of many cases in my constituency where the husband has been separated for years from his wife and children because documentary evidence has been judged inadequate. I also know of cases where one member of the family has been separated from his parents and brothers and sisters because, while they have been given entry certificates and come to the United Kingdom, he or she has been denied entry on the ground that in his or her case the evidence is unsatisfactory.

I have no doubt that in most cases those who grant or refuse entry certificates, the adjudicators and the other bodies to which those who are refused entry appeal, are careful and conscientious in their work, but apart from human fallibility we all know that Bangladesh in particular and the Indian sub-continent in general are societies that are under-documented for the purposes of immigration control. The question is what should be done to remedy that injustice, even though the injustice was unwittingly committed.

Mr. Hind

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Shore

No, I will not; I must finish.

In his written answer on 14 June, the Home Secretary said, and he restated it this evening: In many cases over-age applicants are likely to have settled into independent adult life and may also have married and established a family of their own overseas and I do not propose to waive the requirements of the rules in these cases." —[Official Report, 14 June 1989; Vol. 154, c. 464.] Those cases, of course, will include many people who were wrongly refused entry clearance when they first applied. This is a harsh and unfeeling decision. When an injustice has been committed, and when that injustice has been proved by the results of DNA testing, the onus is on the Government to remedy their mistakes and to redress grievances.

I did not understand from the figures given by the Home Secretary how many people will be involved. Perhaps the Minister of State can give a clearer statement about the number of people over the age of 18 who will be eligible. But numbers are irrelevant to the issue of proven injustice. That injustice should be removed, and it can be removed only by giving the entry certificate that was previously refused or by offering a substantial sum in compensation for the hardship caused to the individual concerned and his family.

When considering that question, Home Office Ministers appear to have omitted two immensely important considerations. The first is the strength of links of families from Bangladesh and the Indian sub-continent. Our family structure in Britain is becoming increasingly atomised, with the physical separation of parents from children once they reach adult years and each adult child establishing his separate residence. Families of the sub-continent are very different. Different generations live together; adult members of the same family, even when married, often live with their brothers and sisters and parents or remain in close proximity to them. It is not enough, therefore, to say that once the child has ceased to be financially dependent on his parents it does not matter if they are compelled to live thousands of miles apart for the rest of their lives. It matters enormously. The second factor that should not be overlooked is the adverse affect on the ethnic minorities in the United Kingdom and on our progress towards the fairer system that we all want.

I conclude what was meant to be a brief intervention by saying to the Home Secretary that I seriously hope that he will reconsider DNA testing, but not in the aggrieved spirit that he showed in his speech tonight. I hope that he will have the humanity and courage to come back to the House with a revised decision.

8.36 pm
Sir John Stokes (Halesowen and Stourbridge)

You have asked hon. Members to be brief, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I shall be.

The right hon Member for Birmingham Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) was rather churlish, as he often is. Being his near neighbour in the area, and having known the people whom he represents for some time, I found it astonishing that he did not once mention his countrymen.

Mr. Hattersley

We will only begin to make progress on this subject when people such as the hon. Gentleman realise that the Moslems in my constituency are my countrymen. That is the crucial division between Conservative and Labour Members.

Sir John Stokes

I shall not comment on the speech made by the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore), but it was good to hear him speaking again. We all know what an English patriot he is and we remember his stance on the Falklands war. We only wish that we could hear his views on Europe given from the Front Bench.

It is extraordinary that the Opposition have again tabled such a motion. Anyone listening to speeches by Opposition Members would imagine that we are being unduly restrictive in our rules of entry. If one were to go outside this place and ask someone in the street, "Is that true?" they would say, "No, over the past 25 years this country has been extraordinarily generous in letting many people into this country, some of whom have done very well, and how glad we are about it." We have allowed many people into this densely populated island, with all the pressures that that caused, and about 40,000 or 50,000 people are still allowed to come here every year. Surely common sense says that there must be strict immigration controls, in the interests not only of the indigenous population but of immigrants.

We must control immigration, as it says in the rules, so that visiting students do not overstay and illegal immigration is curbed as far as possible. We must control the plea of marriage to support entry into this country because of the danger of it being used for bogus reasons. We must be careful not to let in people who claim to be refugees but are not really so. In a notorious case some time ago, some clerics made fools of themselves over a man who was not a refugee and went back to his country.

The Opposition do not appear to have a clear policy, except to say, "Let them all come in." They are saying the same thing about the millions of Hong Kong Chinese.

Ms. Short

We are not.

Sir John Stokes

I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on making this change to the rules which will be of benefit to everyone in this country. [Interruption.] I hope that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) will let me say a few words. As my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Mr. Janman) said on 20 June.

Good though the changes arc, they are too late."— [Official Report, 20 June 1989; Vol. 155, c. 293.] In the past 25 years, we have allowed hundreds of thousands of immigrants into this small island so that we now have ethnic minorities of several million people and in some cases, as we all know, their birth rate far exceeds that of the indigenous population. This is primarily a problem for England, as the other countries in the United Kingdom have much smaller immigrant populations.

Why are we English Members of Parliament here today? I ask that question of the Opposition, too. Are we not the trustees of this beloved England for posterity? What is the future of our country to be in another 25 years, even if all immigration is stopped tomorrow? What will be the effect on our religion, morals, customs, habits and so on? Already there have been some dangerous eruptions from parts of the Moslem community. Having served with the Moslems during the war, may I say that I greatly admire many of them and their religion. I also very much like the letter which my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Home Office wrote to Moslem leaders and which was published in the newspapers today. It is foolish to ignore the problems and the fears that those dangerous eruptions engender among the ordinary people whom we are supposed to represent.

We must not allow our feelings of guilt over our treatment of immigrants to cloud our judgment. We in England are a gentle, kind, tolerant and peace-loving people. We have already absorbed large numbers of newcomers. Except occasionally, there have not been the riots and bloodshed that some people prophesied. The burden of receiving and coping with these newcomers in our midst has fallen not on the intellectuals, Labour Members of Parliament and others of that ilk but on ordinary English working-class people. Surely they are entitled to a voice here.

Vast changes have been made in the cities because of the large numbers of immigrants living there. The local English people were never asked about this. They never had to vote on it. They must have views about the future of this influx. They look to us to safeguard their position. Everyone here—immigrant or non-immigrant—wants to safeguard our position. As I said, fortunately we have not had much bloodshed or rioting, and relations generally are good, but as the figures on those who are still coming in are published, more and more people are starting to say, "Will this go on, or can we say that enough is enough?" This is a small attempt to have a little more control, and very wise it is. It should be welcomed by everyone in the House and outside.

8.43 pm
Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)

The Home Secretary began his speech somewhat censoriously by suggesting that the Labour party was using immigration issues in an opportunistic way and then, to justify his Government's policy, reiterated the view that racial harmony depends upon a firm, fair immigration policy. It is by his tests, of firmness and fairness—especially fairness—that it is right to judge the proposals on DNA profiling. In their present state, the right hon. Gentleman has not resolved the doubts about their application. I do not believe that they meet the test of fairness.

The aim in testing only first-time settlement applicants is to avoid the possibility of disputes which, in the past, have been protracted and troublesome to immigration authorities. The repeated application cases most require the assistance of DNA testing. I should like to hear from the Minister of State why he proposes to confine the use of DNA testing in this way. Is it simply on grounds of cost?

Another issue, which I hoped that the Home Secretary would resolve, concerns how the scheme should be funded. The right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) drew attention to the apparent contradictions between the statements made by the Minister of State and the Home Secretary on the extent to which there was to be public funding of DNA testing. There appears to be some intention that certain categories of individual should be assisted by the taxpayer, but it is possible to interpret the Minister's utterances as meaning that the cost is to be borne by all immigrants. That would certainly not be an appropriate or fair test. If the Minister can clear up this point now, I shall be grateful to him.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Tim Renton)

It might be convenient to the House if I clear up that point, which was raised also by the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore). There is no intention that the taxpayer should pay any part of the cost of DNA tests. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and I have said that many times. The only exception lies in the possibility of legal aid for DNA tests. We have said many times that, if we introduced a general scheme for DNA tests—as we are proposing to do on a voluntary basis—the scheme's cost would not in any way fall on the taxpayer.

Mr. Maclennan

The whole House will have been shocked by the Minister's intervention. It is clear that the system cannot be fair unless there is some financial support from the taxpayer. Undoubtedly, the taxpayer will save considerably through the use of DNA testing rather than the alternative methods of verification which are presently employed and which involve searches and expenditure, especially in Bangladesh and on the Indian sub-continent. It is clear that DNA testing can operate only when rich or relatively rich applicants seek to employ it. By no standard can that be regarded as fair.

Mr. Hind

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Maclennan

This is a short debate and many hon. Members with major constituency interests wish to speak, so I shall not give way.

DNA testing can prove, almost beyond peradventure, the paternity of applicants. Should this system be available to those who, it transpires, have been refused entry to this country but are now over the age of majority? Here again, I appeal to the Minister to reconsider the situation. The Home Secretary spoke of the importance of there being rules in giving the assurance of fairness. In respect of this important issue—we have not yet been told precisely how many people are estimated to be affected by it—the Home Secretary is saying—

Mr. Renton

Eight thousand.

Mr. Maclennan

In that case, this is almost a de minimis problem. The question must be answered: what are the rules? It is clear from what the Home Secretary said that it is to be a wholly discretionary operation. By his own test, we should have rules if we want to instill a sense of fairness.

A number of criteria may be prayed in aid by those who wish to argue compassionate grounds, which have been referred to in another place by the Minister's colleague. There are wide circumstances in which it may be possible to argue a compassionate case, but equally, it is possible that those could be construed extremely restrictively to deprive the offspring of those entitled to live here of the right to join their families. It is incomprehensible for a party in government which proclaims the virtues of family life to argue in that way. It will be incomprehensible to many fair-minded people that people whose right to be here can now be established will be denied that possibility because of an exercise in discretion by a Secretary of State.

I am afraid that the great opportunity offered by the perfection of this technique has been missed. There was an opportunity to put an end to much of the misery and uncertainty involved in establishing paternity and family links, which flow from a lack of documentation, especially in the Indian sub-continent. It must be a matter of deep regret to those who wish to see racial harmony fostered and sustained by a fair immigration policy that the Government have thrown away so cavalierly this great opportunity.

8.52 pm
Mr. Andrew Rowe (Mid-Kent)

I want to begin by saying to my hon. Friend the Minister that he probably has the most unattractive job in the whole Government. He is confronted daily with cases of human misery in which he has to take extremely hard decisions, not only on the basis of each particular case, but on the basis of how it fits into the general framework. Men and women all over this country and around the world are accountable to him and are busily engaged in trying to interpret the wishes of this place and of the Minister against a background of similar heartbreak and difficulty. I pay them tribute for the way in which they carry out that task.

I have no personal experience of being an immigrant or a would-be immigrant. I was fortunate enough to be born, strictly speaking, a cockney, and I have never had any doubt about my eligibility to be a British citizen. However, that does not mean that one cannot experience some of the difficulties vicariously. When I was working at Conservative central office, I was the director of community affairs for four and a half years. One of my tasks in that interesting period was to extend throughout the Conservative party mechanisms whereby members of that party could become far better acquainted with the new citizens who had arrived from different parts of the world, about whom, in their ignorance, many members of the party were anxious and towards whom they were hostile.

Ignorance of the law may be no excuse, but in matters of personal relations, there is no doubt that ignorance of custom, language and religion is often a reasonable excuse for feeling strange and, because of the way in which human nature works, consequently feeling condemnatory in one way or another. I believe that the work we did then played a small part in the creation of a wider understanding within the Conservative party—

Mr. Jim Marshall (Leicester, South)

It has failed here.

Mr. Rowe

We were more successful in some parts of the country than in others. I believe that that played some part in changing the climate of opinion. However, there is still far too much prejudice in this country. It is noticeable in many statistics and in the accounts people give to Members of Parliament of the way in which they have been treated. One must, of course, always be extremely careful about the natural tendency of those who belong to a minority, whatever it may be, when they do not get what they want, to assume that their failure to do so is directly attributable to their membership of that minority, when that is frequently not the case. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that there is still too much prejudice and too much difficulty for the minorities in climbing the ladders which at least now exist for them to climb.

Such difficulty is one of the ingredients in the unfortunate riots and protests over the Salman Rushdie book. I believe that the law on blasphemy should be repealed rather than extended. It is flouted to the point where it is absurd to retain it and it is therefore unworkable. It is also philosophically unsound, because it is rooted in theocracy and I believe that theocracy is a recipe for bad government and oppression. A theocratic Government are very different from a society under God.

It is perfectly clear that the pressures are made worse when many people come in at great speed and, as the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) said, there is no division between Government and Opposition about the need for immigration controls. I sometimes think that hon. Members of all parties are rather like small children who, behind the security of their garden gate, poke fun at other small children and then run back into the security of their front hall because they know that the children will not cross the fence that has been erected. That fence of immigration control has been erected by both parties in this House equally. It is salutary for Opposition Members to remember the large part played by their own party in building those walls.

I should like to distance myself considerably from the remarks of my respected and revered hon. Friend the Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Sir J. Stokes), who echoed an argument which I hope is dead, or at least nearly dead. In an ideal world, there would be no frontiers and people could move from one part of the world to another without let or hindrance. Indeed, in our favoured corner of the world that is exactly what we are constructing. This debate has already shown some of the difficulties that we shall encounter if we are successful in that construction. Clearly, this is not an ideal world, and it is essential that we have a firm and fair immigration policy.

In the troubled and worrying debate about Hong Kong, it is important that my hon. Friends, Ministers and others should be sparing in their use of the argument about millions of people; if we are to be a great deal more generous about the numbers of people from Hong Kong whom we eventually receive into this country—and I believe that we have a duty to be generous—that argument will have done no good to those people's chances of having a proper reception here. We should not use massive figures such as 3.5 million or 5 million people, because that will stir up anxieties that we should not invite.

I seek the reassurance of my hon. Friend on one element of the policy. I share the view of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Ground) who, in November of last year, pointed out his anxiety that married couples should be reunited as quickly as possible when it is proved that they have a right to be together. It is a flaw in our immigration policy that, where people have established a bona fide right to be together, they can then be denied that right by administrative procedures stretching over many years.

Do I understand from what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has said that, if children below the age of 18 are proved by the DNA process to have family bonds, there will be no question of the procedures being extended once these children become more than 18, and that their age will not then be used as a pretext for excluding them? If that were the case, it would be grossly improper. It is easy to discover that, by sheer inadvertence or lack, somebody's case has been extended for two or three years by the administrative procedures and that that person has somehow fallen foul of his or her right to enter this country. It is easy to turn that into a matter of policy. I stress that that would be a shabby way in which to proceed.

In conclusion, I turn to the other side of the coin. Unless something has happened to her aeroplane, my wife is in Madras at the moment, where she is working for some weeks with a skilled paediatrician who is still in Madras because of his Christian belief that he has a duty to return to the people of Madras the benefits that he has enjoyed. He is the only member of his class in medical school to have remained in India. That is a commentary on the whole business of immigration. The fact that some countries have too great a readiness to admit foreign nationals can easily lead the home country to become emasculated. That is undesirable—

Ms. Gordon


Mr. Rowe

I shall not give way, as I am just about to end my speech.

It is wholly appropriate to have a firm and fair immigation policy. Where our techniques have improved to the point at which we can remove doubt speedily, I believe that we should turn that speed to the advantage of the applicant and not allow the adminstrative procedures to drag out.

9.4 pm

Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East)

The Home Secretary was hopelessly wrong to make a connection between immigration policy and good community relations in our inner-city areas. If he needs a connection, he should study very carefully the speech by the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Sir J. Stokes) because that was the kind of speech which causes great unpleasantness and distrust and also causes a great deal of damage to good community relations in Britain. That speech echoed sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Janman) in a short debate last week. When the Minister replies, I hope that he will distance himself from the comments which have been made by his two hon. Friends. It is important that in their official policy the Government make it absolutely clear that the extremist statements that we have heard are not part of Government policy.

The Home Secretary's written reply to a parliamentary question on 14 June which set out the Government's policy on DNA testing is a recognition of the success of such tests. As this is our first debate of this length on the subject, we should pay tribute to the work of Professor Alec Jefferies of Leicester university and others who have worked in this area for several years. We should also place on record our appreciation of the work of groups like the Divided Families Campaign, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and the United Kingdom Immigrants Advisory Service which have worked very hard urging the Government to initiate pilot studies and to publish their report.

Three years have passed since a press conference was held on 10 January 1986 at Dhaka airport when the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department first announced the pilot schemes. My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) will recall the number of attempts that he and I made in Committee to press the Minister to publish the report as quickly as possible. Although many promises were made, it was several years before the report was published.

When the report was published, the greatest sigh of relief came from those who had waited in queues and those waiting to have relatives brought to this country. Those are the kind of people who visit me, my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall) and other hon. Members at our surgeries at weekends. Those people waited in hope that the Home Secretary would announce a fair policy which would reunite them with their families.

I am reminded of a quote from the oldest book of all: Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginnings of days, nor ends of life". The orphans of the Prime Minister's immigration policy, they waited in queues. Those people have waited for a statement and they have been cruelly misled. The Home Secretary has let them down in several vital respects.

It is right that we should place this debate in the context of overall immigration control. As the Home Secretary said that the Minister of State was fair game for any criticism, I hope that he does not mind if I mention the unprecedented crisis which now grips the Home Office. There is a crisis at Lunar house, where my constituents must wait up to two years to receive decisions on nationalisation applications, and there is a crisis besetting the passport offices. There is also a crisis besetting hon. Members who, when they write to the Minister, must wait upwards of six weeks for a reply. Those who were present in this House on 16 November 1987 will recall the Home Secretary's statement at column 789 that he hoped to initiate an immigration policy that would provide a better customer service. The reality is quite different. If the Home Secretary, the Minister and the Home Office want to know about that customer service, they should speak to people who wait in the queues at Clive house and Lunar house for decisions from the Minister of State.

I want now to consider the cost of the scheme. I was shocked to hear the Minister's reply to the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan). It is outrageous that poor families will have to pay a substantial amount to satisfy the test criteria. There have been various estimates, ranging from £100 to £130 per applicant. In addition, there is the threat that entry clearance fees will be increased, allegedly to pay for the test. That is an additional economic barrier for those who seek to come to this country.

The taxpayer has benefited and will continue to benefit from the DNA test. There will be an enormous saving of time in the preparation of documents, explanatory statements and other documents before the tribunal, and also a saving of the tribunal's time. A recent answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling) stated that the cost of an appeal was approximately £85. If that is right—I hope that the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—it will result in a substantial saving.

I now refer to over-age applicants. It is manifestly unfair that, now that the Government have acknowledged that thousands of mistakes have been made, people who legitimately and fairly applied to come to this country and who knew instinctively that they were the children of their parents, and felt that not only as a bond of nature but passionately, were told by immigration officers that they were not the children of their parents and that they would have to appeal and wait. They now find that what they have always said was true—that they know exactly who their parents were—but they will not be able to come here as of right.

We are concerned only with a finite number of people. If we are talking about a fair system that can be sold to inner-city areas and is based on family values, surely it is right that those people should be allowed to come to this country without having to rely on the Home Secretary's so-called compassion.

The test should be free for those who wish to use it. The Home Secretary should allow in those who applied before their eighteenth birthday and who were caught by the age limit. As other hon. Members have said, blood sample testing should take place in different parts of the sub-continental countries, and individuals should not have to face the burden of additional costs when travelling to posts abroad. Those who reapply should be given preference and should be put in an expedited queue. It is outrageous to expect them to reapply, sit in queues and, possibly, wait for nearly two years when their cases are strong and right.

What compensation is the Minister prepared to offer those who have suffered because of the Government's mistake? The Minister and the Home Secretary have deliberately delayed the publication of the report for several months, if not years. The Government should compensate those who have suffered untold misery.

We hear cliches when Members of Parliament come to this forum of the nation and talk about constituents who have been waiting for years to be reunited with their families. I am not saying that the Minister is an absolutely insensitive man. He has shown a degree of compassion that has permitted certain of my constituents to remain in this country. We told him that those people had a proper case, delays occurred, but he eventually allowed them to stay. We are not saying that, as an individual, he is without compassion, but we are saying that the policy is without compassion.

The policy will add to the anxiety and the hardship suffered by thousands and thousands of people throughout the country. If we are talking about having good race relations and improving community relations, we should ensure that we treat everyone fairly. We should treat those who come from India, Pakistan and the sub-continent countries with the same affection as we are now treating our colleagues in Germany, France, Portugal and elsewhere in Europe. We should not let them suffer because we are now part of the European Economic Community, which will, of course, allow millions of people to come here as of right.

The Government had a golden opportunity to act as the midwife for family reunion to those who had long given up hope of ever being reunited with their families. Grudgingly, the Government have admitted that the Alec Jefferies test was correct, and grudgingly, they have accepted the campaigns and the hard work of the voluntary organisations. They have accepted that those organisations were right after all. However, the knife in the back of those voluntary organisations and of all those who wait in the queues abroad is the terrible burden of cost that is now being imposed, and the injustice of the age limit. Even at this stage, I appeal to the Minister—as a loving parent—in humanity, in justice and in compassion, to think again.

9.16 pm
Mr. Robert G. Hughes (Harrow, West)

The phrasing of the motion is, to say the least, misleading. I believe that it is designed to be misleading to different groups of the British people. Everyone would accept that tough and fair immigration policies are a necessary part of race relations. It is unfortunate that Members on the Labour Front Bench have sought to mislead different groups in Britain and have in many ways sought to rubbish DNA testing, which can surely be regarded only as an advance in fairness and something that should be welcomed by both sides of the House.

Like many other hon. Members, I wish to concentrate on the last few words of the motion, which concern the effects on Britain of having immigrant populations and people who are black or Asian and British. I believe that that is one of the most important issues facing society.

It is estimated by the Institute of Race Relations that there may be 70,000 racial attacks a year. Certainly, in my constituency in suburban London, I receive a large number of complaints, especially from Asian people, about racial attacks and racial abuse. If we are honest, we will admit that that goes on, but that too many people turn a blind eye to it and just consider it part of the background to British society. But it is not part of that background —such behaviour needs to be condemned at every stage and must be taken seriously.

I ask my hon. Friend the Minister to consider one idea. It is not a new idea, but it is one that I believe would make an important contribution towards dealing with the problem. The Metropolitan police need a racial attack squad, just as they have a serious crime squad, a fraud squad and a squad to specialise in any of the areas of crime which need more than local expertise. They need a racial attack squad for serious cases, to give advice to local police forces, to formulate policy and to teach techniques for dealing with racial matters. I am not saying that the Metropolitan police have not made some advances in dealing with racial harassment and attacks, but they can do more, and I would look to them to do more.

Too many people still consider it acceptable to hold racist views. Such views help to categorise black and Asian people, but strong leadership at all levels will help the emerging middle classes in those communities. They will represent the genuine voice of those communities, and we want to hear it. Everyone in a position of leadership should encourage good race relations. We need a drive against discrimination, but not a re-run of discredited so-called "anti-racist" policies. We need tangible measures that will make a difference.

The Government have an enormous part to play. When Government money is used to fund major projects in the inner cities, the work force should be representative of the ethnic make-up of the area. Any company that wanted such funding would soon get the message and would employ a good proportion of black and Asian people if the Government insisted on considering the ethnic make-up of the companies, and such people would not merely be employed as building workers—they would be employed throughout the company management structure.

The Government could act much more directly through the Civil Service. They must review their employment practices, not just for the lower grades but for those right at the top. Our record for tailoring our recruitment procedures to the true make-up of the population can only be described as pathetic. It is clear that the Civil Service has continued to recruit the same sort of people in the same old way, without regard to the reality of British society outside the narrow class band from which recruits are drawn. Something must be done about that.

My right hon. Friend was right to praise the advances that have been made in the recruitment of black and Asian people to the police, but the record is not stunning. Given that so few black and Asian people are part of our police force, it is not surprising that the police have difficulty policing some areas. I do not underestimate the difficulties of recruiting such people, but if other countries can manage to recruit large numbers of their minority populations, so can we. The minority communities also have an important part to play in this. Improvements will not be made unless the minority communities desist from actively persuading people not to join the police. If the ordinary, sensible view is to prevail, a recruitment push from inside the black and Asian communities must be mounted against the predictable, damaging and regrettably prevailing anti-police view. Only by such assertiveness from ordinary black and Asian people will the majority learn that, far from fearing minorities, Britain has everything to gain from black and Asian British people playing their part at the centre of our community.

The most important ingredient is the contribution that the minorities can make. It is in all our interests to be proud of being British. That means that we must challenge the parrot cry of "Uncle Tom" and recognise that the interests of the majority are not those of a politically motivated minority. It means isolating the extremists. It also means that each black and Asian person should find his role in our society. British society needs their input, not as Asian or black people or as people speaking for a minority, but as individual British people who care about Britain, who care about where they live, and who have a contribution to make and a part to play. This is part of a two-way contract, and no amount of work from one side will make up for lack of effort by the other. The potential rewards for Britain and its people are huge. It is worth the effort not just because of what we can achieve, but because of the consequences of our failure to achieve it.

In common with my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Kent (Mr. Rowe), I wish to dissociate myself from the comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Sir J. Stokes), although I do so for a different reason. I do so because the vision of Britain put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge simply does not exist, probably never did exist and never will exist in the future. It is not right to put forward such an unattainable vision. It is 20 years since Enoch Powell made his powerful but career-ending speech. Many people saw that speech as a self-fulfilling prophecy. It was a callous and deliberately misleading speech which he sought to use as a means of promoting his political career, but it backfired on him—as all who seek to use this issue for their political careers will see it backfire on them.

9.24 pm
Ms. Mildred Gordon (Bow and Poplar)

The hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes) has done something to put right the shameful speeches that we have heard from many hon. Members on the other side of the House. The Home Secretary said tonight that there must be rules, and we have been talking about people who have every right to come to this country within the rules that this Government laid down. Nevertheless, they were branded as liars, as cheats, as people who were trying to get in here by fraud and, in addition to the humiliation that they suffered in this way, they suffered long separation from their families.

I do believe that if this had happened to white people there would have been a demand for compensation. Anybody who has been wrongfully branded, and their character torn apart in this way, has the right to compensation. Yet, they are not even going to be given considerate treatment, from what we have heard tonight.

My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) is quite right to raise the question of people from the EC countries. Nobody ever says that we are going to be swamped by white Europeans coming to this country, and nobody counts the numbers. But there seems to be a lot of political mileage in appealing to the basest instincts of racists by talking about being swamped and playing the numbers game, when we should be talking about dealing fairly with those families from the Asian sub-continent who have been given a very unfair deal indeed.

It seems that the cases of those who apply for re-entry are not going to be expedited and that those who cannot afford to go through DNA testing will find themselves looked upon askance as though that means that they do not have a valid case, and that is a very grave danger. I also feel that the Home Secretary's example was a very shocking one. He talked of an old woman in this country who had three sons who could well afford to keep her although she was living on supplementary benefit—so why should we allow the sons to come here even though they were wrongly kept out? He said that she should go back to her own country. I find echoes in that of the crudest form of racism—one which says, "Get back to your own country." Surely it is easier for the sons to come and start a new life here, than for the old lady, who needs the care and attention of her sons, and who has been settled here for many years, to be uprooted and to go back to a place where she now has no connections. What kind of compassion and what kind of humanity is that?

I wanted to raise another question, but I feel hesitant to raise it in the atmosphere which has been present in this House tonight. That was a question which no one has raised, about men who sponsor a child whom they truly believe to be their own child and are prepared to take responsibility for that child, and the DNA tests prove that they are not the father of the child. That happens, I am afraid, in families in every country. I do believe that judgment should be exercised, if the male sponsor truly believes the child to be his and he has taken responsibility for that child, and that that family should be allowed to be united and the children allowed to come here.

Ms. Short

Before the pilot study was launched, we were given firm undertakings by the Foreign Office that in those instances, which happen in villages in the Indian sub-continent and, I am sure, in the families of hon. Members, there would be honourable behaviour. We were assured that there would be privacy and the whole family would be allowed to come here. I hope that the Minister will reiterate the original assurance that we were given on that point.

Ms. Gordon

We have a very short time and I just want to raise one or two points about the changes in the new immigration rules, to get away from DNA testing, and to talk about how harshly the immigration rules are now being applied and how, strangely, people are often deported on the weekend when they cannot get hold of anybody to help them, and of how sometimes we appear to be cutting off our noses to spite our faces.

I had a frantic appeal from the headmaster of the Cubitt Town primary school about a valuable member of staff who was being told that she must leave because her original permit did not allow her to teach. I had to intervene and fortunately I got that teacher permission to stay; otherwise, another 30 children would have been without a teacher. Yesterday, Conservative Members did not seem too worried that there would be 1,000 children without teachers in Tower Hamlets. If the children had been the children of English middle-class parents they might have been concerned, but because they were the children of Bangladeshis they were not. Fortunately, that teacher was able to stay. If it had happened on a Friday or a Saturday, as in many other cases, she might have been bundled out of the country and those 30 children would not have had a teacher.

I had another case of a Nigerian, a student who had invested a great deal of time, effort and money into studying here. His allowance from Nigeria arrived late so he was late in re-registering. When the money came, he re-registered. Nevertheless, he was told to go and the immigration authorities would not hear any kind of appeal. What is the sense in that? He came here to study, and to take back the benefits of his knowledge to his own country. Why should he be forced to leave in the middle of his studies because of a technicality?

The last thing that I want to point out is the harshness meted out to some families who appeal against deportation orders hoping to win their case and are suddenly informed that their case is lost and are told they have to leave within a few days. No matter if they have children; they are given no time to inoculate them, no time to find somewhere for the children to live and no time to settle up their affairs in Britain. Nowadays, if one appeals on their behalf for an extension of time, one is frequently turned down.

I hope that the sort of changes that have taken place will be noted and that something will be done to ameliorate the position of those unfortunate people. Not only is it harmful and damaging to them, it is harmful and damaging to the reputation of this country, which once stood high as a country that had compassion, a country where people could find refuge and asylum. Now it is beginning to get a reputation for harshness, callousness and inhumanity.

9.31 pm
Mr. Timothy Kirkhope (Leeds, North-East)

I am pleased to be able to make a contribution to this debate. I should like to pay tribute to all in my constituency, in the city of Leeds and in this country who are immigrants or the children or grandchildren of immigrants and who have contributed so largely to the success of Leeds and to the richness of this country. A great many immigrant families live in my constituency and in Leeds. From the highest to the most humble, they contribute at all levels of society. They do so willingly and extremely enthusiastically, and the community responds positively to them. That is the perspective in which race relations in this country today should be put.

I am sad about the Opposition motion because it seems so fatuous. It is contrived out of an attempt to whip up feelings—particularly among immigrant communities—which do not really exist. The leaders of ethnic minorities have told me that they believe it right that this country should have firm but fair immigration controls. Our changes in the rules will make those controls even fairer. Most people to whom I have spoken recognise and welcome that—

Ms. Short


Mr. Kirkhope

I am not giving way, as I do not have much time.

I want first to refer to what I believe is a welcome easing of the rules on husbands of women admitted to the United Kingdom for employment. It is nonsensical for the system to work in one way but not in the other. I am delighted at the change because it will remove many of the difficulties that families here have experienced as a result of the imbalance in the way the system works.

So far, DNA testing has proved successful and, interestingly, where it has been used, 86 per cent. of the tests have proved the applicant's position. It is an important and useful test and I know that most of the ethnic minorities in my area welcome it. I am pleased to see that it will now be made available more generally, although it is to be on a voluntary and not an obligatory basis, and I am sure that many people will take it up.

There remains the issue of whether the tests should be subject to a charge. We have heard what the test might cost, and undoubtedly in some cases that will be a considerable disincentive to poorer people. I was therefore interested to hear what my hon. Friend the Minister said about the possibility of legal aid, or some similar form of funding, to assist with testing.

Ms. Short

It is already available for appeals.

Mr. Kirkhope

I welcome that.

Once there is an entitlement, if a test is taken and the results support the entitlement, there must be some financial responsibility. It is simple to say that the test must always be at the applicant's cost, and in general that is probably right, but in some cases it should be possible for some assistance to be given so that the test can be made and something can be proved which would otherwise be more difficult to prove to the authorities. I hope that something will be done about that aspect.

More than anything else, delays in receiving information about confirmation or even rejection of applications for visas cause difficulty to those who wish to come and have every good reason to do so. I often have to deal with delays. Inevitably, it is difficult to get information from overseas because communications are slow, but once the required information has been provided to our High Commissions we should do our best to avoid delays and to arrange interviews speedily. If people are not to be given visas, it would be helpful all round if they could be told so speedily. They might accept not getting permission, but they would like to know the position as soon as possible.

Under this Government, immigration rules have always been both fair and firm. The changes will clearly make them even fairer in the eyes of any reasonable person. I therefore find the Opposition's attitude incomprehensible. They were responsible for the introduction of immigration rules when they were in Government because they realised that it was important, not just for the country but for the ethnic minorities, that there should be a limit on the numbers coming in. Now, in a hypocritical fashion which I find ridiculous, they are trying to make out that the Government's rules—which, if anything, ease the position and make it fairer—are somehow appalling and terrible. Their attitude is disgraceful and cynical, and unthinking about good race relations and our standing in the eyes of the world.

9.39 pm
Mr. Alistair Darling (Edinburgh, Central)

Listening to the criticism by the hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Mr. Kirkhope) of the Opposition motion, I could not but be struck by the fact that one or two of his points entirely backed up our criticism of the Government's immigration rules and their announcement on DNA testing. I was also struck by his terminology. He referred to the "immigrants" in his constituency. We would all do well to remember that we are talking about the rights of British citizens. It matters not whether they are white or black; they are British citizens, and we must always bear that in mind.

We should also bear in mind that the Home Secretary is wrong to imply that we should either accept the Government's laws and rules or accept none at all. We are talking about the ways in which the Government's regulations and the immigration laws affect British citizens, and the central issue is the double-talk and double standards that the Government are applying when dealing with different British citizens. The leaked Home Office document bears that out. Referring to the timing of last week's announcement of the change in the immigration rules, it states: we see advantage in combining the two announcements"— DNA and immigration rules— thus avoiding two separate rows about immigration issues in quick succession. That tells us a good deal about the Government's attitude.

Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Darling

I do not have time to give way. The hon. Gentleman has not been here for most of the debate.

The Government talk about family unity, but when they are confronted with the spectacle of divided families it is an entirely different story. Asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, Central and Royton (Mr. Lamond) about the rights of those who can now prove their cases through DNA testing, the Prime Minister lashed out—not with the detailed and specific figures that we are used to hearing when she defends her Government's record on the NHS, but with wild figures of 40,000 or 50,000. The Home Secretary has told us tonight, however, that only about 8,000 people are involved.

Ms. Short

That is the maximum.

Mr. Darling

The Government have reluctantly introduced DNA testing because they know that there is no way around it. Applicants, however, still cannot choose DNA testing at the outset, and we are told that, instead of a simple bureaucratic barrier, a barrier both bureaucratic and financial is to be placed in the way of those who wish to prove that they are related to their mothers and fathers.

There has been more double-talk about financing the scheme. The Government say that no announcement has been made, and the Home Office memorandum makes it clear that the announcement will not say how it is to be financed. It states: The intention is to make a separate announcement on the funding arrangements shortly before the scheme comes into effect". The scheme is due to come into effect in November. The Government say that they are only now starting dicussions with manufacturers and the rest, but it is abundantly clear that settlement fees will be introduced. I suspect that the announcement will be made when Parliament is not sitting so that we can avoid one of the nasty unpleasant little rows to which the memorandum refers.

Children are being separated from their parents because of the unfair attitude of immigration officers, yet no sympathy is to be shown to over-age applicants who can now prove that they have relatives here. The Government say that, provided they pass four hurdles, "compassion" can be exercised. The document, however, makes it abundantly clear that it is crucial to ensure that that concession remains the exception rather than the norm.

We can see the hardship that this will cause. Let me give an example. A sponsor had a wife and five children in Bangladesh. Four of the children were admitted; the youngest was refused admission because the immigration officer said that he did not believe the parents. In other words, he said, "You are lying; this boy is not your child." Can hon. Members imagine how they would feel if told that their children did not belong to them, and that they were making it up? This young child can prove the relationship: it has been proved by DNA testing. Nevertheless, he must reapply and his reapplication will not be considered until 1991. Then he may have to come up against the Home Secretary's "compassion", for the Home Secretary, if he is still in his post, will be holding the line rigorously.

That is what we are complaining about—the unfairness and the double standards. Such standards would never be applied if we were dealing with the children of white parents, or those of parents from a different country. They are being applied only to certain countries, mostly those on the Indian sub-continent. The Government's attitude is blatantly discriminatory, and I am sorry that the Home Secretary saw no problem in it. I am also sorry that he does not understand that most parents regard their children as their children whether or not they are over 18. Someone does not cease to be the child of his mother or father simply because he has passed his 18th birthday.

The memorandum makes it abundantly clear that, no matter what is said in public, in private the reality will be quite different and that compassion will be exercised very rarely—I suspect when a horror story hits the front pages of newspapers in order to buy off that problem.

The Home Secretary referred to the fact that the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton) is Mr. Compassion himself. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) complained that he had sometimes had to wait for six weeks for a reply. Recently, I had to wait six months for a reply concerning one of my constituents who had been trying to come to this country to study at an Edinburgh college. Mr. Compassion will be unable to solve the problems of people who are wrongly refused entry to this country—people who are over the age of 18 now, but who know that they are related and who have proved their case. It is no wonder that divided families simply do not believe the Government when they claim that they are operating anything like a fair system.

It is the same story when one considers other aspects of the Government's immigration policy. It is interesting to note that the high moral ground is claimed both inside and outside the House when the position of people living in Hong Kong is considered. Those who claim that high moral ground ought to examine some of the other practices adopted by this country in connection with our immigration regulations. Reference has been made to wives who have been denied the right to be joined by their husbands because immigration officers did not believe that their marriages were genuine. After 1992, however, any EC citizen will be able to come to this country with his or her spouse without let or hindrance. Surely British citizens ought to have the same right, no matter which country their spouse comes from.

The same applies to student visas. The Home Secretary said in his memorandum that there had been cases of abuse, particularly in west Africa. Is he telling us that students from America and Australia do not abuse the system from time to time? Why is it that only an American visitor will be able to become a student without having to return to the United States to reapply for entry? A visitor from Bangladesh or west Africa will have to return home and reapply to become a student in this country. There is no justification for such a broad axe approach. It cannot possibly be said that people from one country are somehow pathologically likely to abuse the system, while people from another country will not do so. By its very nature, that is discriminatory.

The Government attempted to nobble the immigration tribunals. They did so quite blatantly, they were found out and it had to be stopped. The Home Secretary referred to our treatment of tourists and visitors to this country, yet if one goes to Heathrow on any day of the week one finds that when immigration officers interview passengers who have arrived here on a plane from New York their attitude is entirely different from the one that they adopt towards passengers who have arrived here on a plane from Dhaka. To begin with, people who arrive here from Dhaka tend to be referred to as immigrants, whereas people who arrive here from New York are referred to as visitors or tourists. I am afraid to say that such double standards are endemic. What is worse, they are enshrined within the immigration rules and regulations of this country.

Does the Home Secretary not realise the hardship that the visa regime causes when people come to this country because they wish to attend a wedding or a funeral? If such a policy were to be adopted towards visitors from the United States and other similar countries, it would not be tolerated. However, the Government are quite content to adopt such a policy in the case of visitors from the Indian sub-continent and certain African countries.

The Home Secretary suggested in his speech that the Opposition are trying to rake up trouble and prejudice. He should have listened to some of the speeches that have been made by Back Benchers on his own side of the House. We heard this evening a remarkable speech by the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Sir J. Stokes). When we discussed the immigration rules a few days ago, the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Janman) made a speech that was racist, pure and simple. To give him credit, the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes) said as much. However, the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex, did not say that. He thanked the hon. Member for Thurrock for his contribution but said that the hon. Gentleman had gone a little further than he yet wanted to go.

I hope that tonight the Minister of State will join his hon. Friends the Members for Mid-Kent (Mr. Rowe) and for Harrow, West in repudiating what was said by the hon. Members for Halesowen and Stourbridge and for Thurrock and make it clear that their attitudes and views form no part of this Government's policy—if that is the case. Perhaps someone should tell the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge that 250 million to 300 million people will be able to come to this country, if they wish to do so, after 1992 and that nobody will be able to do anything about it once the single European market is in place.

Let us not hear any talk about prejudice or any belittling of our motives in initiating the debate tonight. The Government must realise that the way in which the immigration rules strike at the rights of British citizens is intolerable. If we say that we live in a truly multiracial society, we must realise that all British citizens are entitled to fair treatment. The treatment that is meted out to some of our citizens simply would not be tolerated if it were happening to white people in Britain. The front pages would be full of outrage and Ministers would be standing at the Dispatch Box full of outrage, putting to right the rules that were found to cause offence. Yet that does not happen, despite the way in which the immigration rules are working.

To the Tories, families may be statistics and refugees may be unfortunate problems; but to the individuals involved, parents separated from their children and children who wish to look after infirm or aged parents, it is not a matter of statistics. It is a matter of decency that should concern everyone in the House. The Government simply do not realise that. Conservative candidates say all sorts of nice things and smile at constituents when they are wooing support before an election, but they should remember that the way in which the Government's rules and regulations operate cause a manifest injustice to British citizens in this country. If we are going to claim the moral high ground, the Government should start by accepting that mistakes have been made and injustices have been caused and must be put right if they are to claim to be a decent and humane Government.

9.51 pm
The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Tim Renton)

We have had a useful debate, although we have just listened to a speech of extraordinary ignorance by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling). It was particularly wrong of him, as a lawyer, to make the comment that the Government had attempted to nobble the adjudicators. He knows that that is incorrect and has been answered in a parliamentary answer to him.

Mr. Darling

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Renton

I shall not give way as I have only nine minutes left. The hon. Gentleman should not make such comments.

Mr. Darling


Mr. Renton

I must move on.

I want to thank my hon. Friends and all those who have taken part in the debate. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Kent (Mr. Rowe) for his tribute to the immigration service for the conscientiousness with which it implements decisions throughout the country and at our consulates abroad. Those decisions are taken by Ministers and by Parliament and the immigration service has a very difficult role to fulfill. In answer to my hon. Friend's concern about the delays in dealing with marriage cases, through the speeding up of the backlog—a constant wish of mine in the past two years—we have admitted an extra 1,200 spouses or fiances into the country in the past 12 months. They got their entry clearance through the speeding up of the process.

All those changes in our procedures and determinations to speed them up were voted against by the Labour Opposition. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Mr. Kirkhope) was also concerned about that, and I must stress that, as a result of those changes, the backlog on immigration cases had fallen from about 75,000 to about 30,000, and I hope that it will fall further in the 12 months ahead. The hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) should remember that every time he talks about the chaos at Lunar house. In the light of the changes that we have made and the dent that we are making in the backlog, I sincerely hope that soon—perhaps tonight—the hon. Gentleman will vote for rather than against our changes.

I share the concern expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes) about racial harassment in our towns and cities. I note with great interest his comments about further recruitment of blacks and Asians into the police force. I know that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will agree with those sentiments and I hope that he will have a chance to pursue those remarks on a different occasion, perhaps in a debate about the police.

To my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Sir J. Stokes) I must say that I agree with his remark about Britain's generosity in admitting immigrants. That was a necessary concomitant to our imperial and colonial responsibilities, but immigrants have not come only from the Commonwealth —we have had large numbers of refugees from Vietnam, Chile, Uganda and Poland. Like my hon. Friend, I welcome the success of those immigrants, most of whom are now British citizens, and I wish them well in moving towards integration into our society.

My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East said that he was pleased that 86 per cent. of people who had recently taken the DNA test had passed it. In some measure, I am surprised that the figure was not 100 per cent. as they all volunteered to take the test. My hon. Friend should remember that. One would expect that if they volunteered to take the test they would all pass it. It is significant that so many have recently taken and passed the test.

Against that background, I completely reject the charges of double standards and injustice in our treatment of the DNA process. I reject the comments by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central that we reluctantly introduced DNA testing. The reverse is true. The Labour party should occasionally listen rather than utter its traditional cries of racism, bias and double standards. Over the past month, we have accepted the results of hundreds of DNA tests.

Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Renton

I will not give way to the hon. Gentleman. He had an Adjournment debate on the subject last week, and I have nothing to add. We have accepted the results of the test—

Mr. Madden

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of State has four minutes left to tell hon. Members what they most want to know. How will the DNA scheme be paid for?

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Minister—

Mr. Madden

Will he—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Minister will not have a chance to do that.

Mr. Renton

I was about to reply to that point. As I said in answer to the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) and the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan), we do not propose that the cost should be borne by the taxpayer. We intend exactly the opposite—that the cost should be spread between the generality of applicants for entry clearance. We are working out with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office a proper means of achieving that and, as I said in the debate two weeks ago, we are discussing the cost with the companies involved. As soon as we have reached a decision, an announcement will be made to the House.

I was surprised when the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) so firmly said that he intended to abolish the primary purpose test. He well knows that that test was introduced by the Labour Government in 1978 and that it was aimed against marriages of convenience. Why did the Labour Goverment introduce it? It was aimed against plain abuse of marriage for immigration purposes.

Mr. Short

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Renton

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) was probably working in the Home Office at the time and will know precisely why the Labour Government introduced it. They introduced it to stop abuse.

Ms. Short

That is a totally different matter.

Mr. Renton

We subsequently introduced—

Ms. Short


Mr. Speaker

Order. One at a time.

Mr. Renton

The primary purpose test was introduced to ensure that marriage was not used as a means of obtaining settlement in this country.

The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook, with one of his big gestures—

Ms. Short

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Minister referred to me personally but did not give way. Is that not against all the conventions of the House?

Mr. Speaker

It is up to the Minister whether he gives way or not.

Mr. Renton

The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook said, with one of those big gestures that he tends to make in debates, that the primary purpose test keeps out 12 people for every one that it lets in.

Mr. Hattersley

indicated dissent.

Mr. Renton

That is exactly what the right hon. Gentleman said. I took a note as he was speaking, and it will appear in Hansard tomorrow.

Mr. Hattersley

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Renton

I will not give way. That means that, using last year's statistics, the right hon. Gentleman would be suggesting that about 90,000 spouses and fiances came in one year from the Indian sub-continent alone. It is just that sort of reality that the Opposition could not fulfil. In government they would run away from the policies that they proclaim in opposition.

Mr. Derek Foster (Bishop Auckland)

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 182, Noes 249.

Division No. 281] [10 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Clay, Bob
Allen, Graham Clelland, David
Alton, David Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Anderson, Donald Cohen, Harry
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Armstrong, Hilary Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Corbett, Robin
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Corbyn, Jeremy
Barron, Kevin Cousins, Jim
Battle, John Crowther, Stan
Beckett, Margaret Cryer, Bob
Beith, A. J. Cunningham, Dr John
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Darling, Alistair
Bermingham, Gerald Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Blair, Tony Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Blunkett, David Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Boateng, Paul Dewar, Donald
Bradley, Keith Dixon, Don
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Dobson, Frank
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Doran, Frank
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Douglas, Dick
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Dunnachie, Jimmy
Buckley, George J. Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Caborn, Richard Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Callaghan, Jim Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Flannery, Martin
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Flynn, Paul
Canavan, Dennis Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Foster, Derek
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Foulkes, George
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Fraser, John
Fyfe, Maria Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Galbraith, Sam Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Galloway, George Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Moonie, Dr Lewis
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Morgan, Rhodri
Godman, Dr Norman A. Morley, Elliott
Golding, Mrs Llin Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Gordon, Mildred Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Gould, Bryan Mowlam, Marjorie
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Mullin, Chris
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Murphy, Paul
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Nellist, Dave
Grocott, Bruce O'Neill, Martin
Harman, Ms Harriet Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Pike, Peter L.
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Henderson, Doug Primarolo, Dawn
Hinchliffe, David Quin, Ms Joyce
Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall) Radice, Giles
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Randall, Stuart
Hood, Jimmy Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Richardson, Jo
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Robertson, George
Howells, Geraint Robinson, Geoffrey
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Hoyle, Doug Rowlands, Ted
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Ruddock, Joan
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Sedgemore, Brian
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Sheerman, Barry
Ingram, Adam Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Janner, Greville Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Short, Clare
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Skinner, Dennis
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Kennedy, Charles Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Lamond, James Soley, Clive
Leadbitter, Ted Spearing, Nigel
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Steel, Rt Hon David
Lewis, Terry Steinberg, Gerry
Livsey, Richard Stott, Roger
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Straw, Jack
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Loyden, Eddie Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
McAllion, John Turner, Dennis
McAvoy, Thomas Vaz, Keith
McCartney, Ian Wall, Pat
Macdonald, Calum A. Wallace, James
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
McKelvey, William Wareing, Robert N.
McLeish, Henry Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Maclennan, Robert Williams, Rt Hon Alan
McWilliam, John Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Madden, Max Winnick, David
Mahon, Mrs Alice Wise, Mrs Audrey
Marek, Dr John Worthington, Tony
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Wray, Jimmy
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John Tellers for the Ayes:
Meale, Alan Mr. Frank Haynes, and
Michael, Alun Mr. Allen Adams.
Aitken, Jonathan Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Alexander, Richard Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Allason, Rupert Burns, Simon
Arbuthnot, James Burt, Alistair
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Butcher, John
Atkins, Robert Butler, Chris
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Butterfill, John
Bellingham, Henry Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Carrington, Matthew
Bevan, David Gilroy Carttiss, Michael
Blackburn, Dr John G. Cash, William
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda
Boswell, Tim Chapman, Sydney
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Chope, Christopher
Brazier, Julian Churchill, Mr
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hind, Kenneth
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Colvin, Michael Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Conway, Derek Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Cormack, Patrick Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Cran, James Hunter, Andrew
Currie, Mrs Edwina Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Curry, David Irvine, Michael
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Jack, Michael
Davis, David (Boothferry) Jackson, Robert
Day, Stephen Janman, Tim
Devlin, Tim Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Dorrell, Stephen Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Dover, Den Key, Robert
Dunn, Bob Kilfedder, James
Durant, Tony King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Dykes, Hugh Kirkhope, Timothy
Emery, Sir Peter Knapman, Roger
Evennett, David Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Knowles, Michael
Fallon, Michael Knox, David
Favell, Tony Lang, Ian
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Latham, Michael
Fishburn, John Dudley Lawrence, Ivan
Fookes, Dame Janet Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Forman, Nigel Lee, John (Pendle)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Forth, Eric Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Fox, Sir Marcus Lightbown, David
Franks, Cecil Lilley, Peter
Freeman, Roger Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
French, Douglas Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Fry, Peter Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Gardiner, George Lyell, Sir Nicholas
Garel-Jones, Tristan McCrindle, Robert
Gill, Christopher Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Glyn, Dr Alan Maclean, David
Goodhart, Sir Philip McLoughlin, Patrick
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Gorman, Mrs Teresa McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Malins, Humfrey
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Mans, Keith
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Maples, John
Gregory, Conal Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Grist, Ian Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Hague, William Maude, Hon Francis
Hampson, Dr Keith Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Hanley, Jeremy Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hannam, John Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Mellor, David
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Harris, David Miller, Sir Hal
Haselhurst, Alan Mills, Iain
Hawkins, Christopher Miscampbell, Norman
Hayes, Jerry Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Mitchell, Sir David
Heathcoat-Amory, David Moate, Roger
Heddle, John Monro, Sir Hector
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Morrison, Sir Charles
Moss, Malcolm Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Mudd, David Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Neale, Gerrard Stokes, Sir John
Nelson, Anthony Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Neubert, Michael Sumberg, David
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Summerson, Hugo
Nicholls, Patrick Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Temple-Morris, Peter
Oppenheim, Phillip Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Paice, James Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Patnick, Irvine Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Pawsey, James Thurnham, Peter
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Townend, John (Bridlington)
Porter, David (Waveney) Tracey, Richard
Portillo, Michael Tredinnick, David
Powell, William (Corby) Trippier, David
Price, Sir David Trotter, Neville
Raffan, Keith Twinn, Dr Ian
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Redwood, John Waddington, Rt Hon David
Renton, Tim Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Rhodes James, Robert Waldegrave, Hon William
Riddick, Graham Walden, George
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Waller, Gary
Roe, Mrs Marion Ward, John
Rost, Peter Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Sackville, Hon Tom Warren, Kenneth
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Watts, John
Sayeed, Jonathan Wells, Bowen
Shaw, David (Dover) Wheeler, John
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Whitney, Ray
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Widdecombe, Ann
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Wiggin, Jerry
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Skeet, Sir Trevor Winterton, Nicholas
Soames, Hon Nicholas Wood, Timothy
Speller, Tony Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Yeo, Tim
Stanbrook, Ivor
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Tellers for the Noes:
Steen, Anthony Mr. Kenneth Carlisle and
Stern, Michael Mr. John M. Taylor.
Stevens, Lewis

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 30 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.

MR. SPEAKER forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

Resolved, That this House commends the Government's determination to operate an immigration policy which is both firm and fair, as evidenced by their new amended and consolidated immigration rules; and welcomes the Government's announcement on the use of DNA testing in immigration cases.

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