§ 3.39 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE, HOME OFFICE (LORD STONHAM)
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be read a second time. It proposes the continuance for a period of twelve months of three Acts and parts of four others which would otherwise expire on December, 31, 1964, or in March, 1965. I hope that it will meet your Lordships' convenience if I make only brief reference to five of them. First there are the Furnished Houses (Rent Control) Act, 1946, and the Rent of Furnished Houses Control (Scotland) Act, 1943, which afford some protection in respect of rents and security of tenure to furnished lettings. As your Lordships will be aware, it is the Government's intention during this Session to afford much greater protection to tenants, through substantial amendment of the Rent Acts. It is, however, unlikely that the proposed changes can be brought into force before these Acts to which I have referred expire, and it is therefore necessary to continue them for a further year.
The Accommodation Agencies Act, 1953, makes it an offence to charge a fee for supplying information about houses and flats to let. Here again, it is possible that this protection against fraud may be incorporated later in permanent legislation, but it seems sensible to wait for the report of the Milner Holland Committee before deciding what fresh measure is needed for the protection of tenants, and meanwhile to continue the present Act for another year.
Section 3 of the Emergency Laws (Repeal) Act, 1959, extends the powers 1004 of the Minister of Aviation under the Ministry of Supply Act, 1939, by continuing in force, with amendments, provisions which widen the definition of "articles required for the public service" in that Act and remove the limitations contained in the proviso to Section 2(1) of that Act. It also keeps in force Section 10 of the Ministry of Supply Act, 1939, which gives the Minister of Aviation power to require production of documents and keeping of records.
Part VII of the Licensing Act, 1964, makes provision for licensing planning—namely, for co-ordinating the functions of licensing justices and local planning authorities in the redistribution of licensed premises in areas affected by serious war damage. Of the original 33 licensing planning areas, 15 have been brought to an end in the last eight years. In April of this year the former Home Secretary appointed a Committee, under Mr. J. Ramsay Willis, Q.C., to inquire, among other things, whether there is a continuing need for this machinery. It is hoped that the House will have an opportunity to consider the Committee's Report before we come again to the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. Meanwhile, I hope that your Lordships will agree that the present position should continue for a further twelve months.
The two remaining Acts covered by this Bill are of considerable importance and require that I should state, at some length, the policy of Her Majesty's Government and our reasons for asking the House to agree to their renewal for a further year. The Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act, 1919, provides the only power we have in peace time for controlling the entry of foreigners into the United Kingdom, and their activities after admission. It was passed in 1919 to keep in power emergency legislation introduced in 1914 and has been renewed on a temporary basis every year since. The emergency has lasted half a century.
I think most of us would agree that the word "alien" has a somewhat unpleasant ring, yet there can be few noble Lords who do not owe their presence in this country, and indeed in this House, to ancestors who, in their day, came to these shores as aliens, and probably unwelcome ones at that. My own forbears were Huguenots who came here in the 1005 17th century and, like so many other groups and individuals, have added their own particular skills and qualities to the building of the composite whole which is 20th century Britain. Fortunately, the process continues, and I, at least, dare to hope that it may one day do so without the restrictions which we now feel obliged to impose.
Under this Act of 1919, and the Orders in Council made thereunder, the Home Secretary decides, through his immigration officers, which foreigners should be allowed to enter. Their particulars are recorded and filed on landing cards, and the process is repeated on other cards when they re-embark. We control their employment here, we register their addresses and personal particulars. We have power to refuse entry and power to deport undesirables. During the year ending September 30 last the total number of passengers using United Kingdom ports—that is the "ins" and "outs" combined—was 15¼ million people. Out of this total, nearly 2½ million aliens were allowed to land. I am happy to say that only 3,515 were refused admission—one in 700. These figures are proof, if proof were needed, that our immigration officers carry out their difficult task in a humane and civilised way, particularly as out of the 3,515 only 290—or One in 9,000 of all aliens who were allowed to land—were excluded as undesirable.
The figures also invite the question whether, having regard to the tiny proportion of exclusions, we could safely return to the "open door" of the last century. Unhappily, we cannot. There are already some 400,000 aliens in this country, and 16,000 more are accepted for settlement every year. They all satisfy the present conditions governing entry and settlement, and all are most welcome. But under contemporary circumstances in the world we cannot accept unlimited entry. However, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary is giving serious consideration to a number of valid criticisms: first, the anomaly that the existing powers of control have been retained for 50 years on the basis of annual renewal. The crowded nature of the legislative programme which has already been referred to once this afternoon makes it impossible to give a firm undertaking, but my right honourable friend accepts that some of 1006 the powers contained in the Aliens Order would normally be found in a Statute. He hopes it may prove possible to submit permanent legislation to Parliament.
This would also give the opportunity to consider whether a way can be found to give a right of appeal to aliens who are refused permission to land, and perhaps to make other improvements. It must be recognised that there are many difficulties about giving a right of appeal, some of which it may not be possible to surmount. Obviously, however, we have no chance of making these changes now, within the next few weeks, and for this reason we are obliged to ask Parliament to continue the present provisions. Meanwhile, we do not dissent from the proposition that the treatment of aliens is one of the tests of how a country conducts itself, and whilst maintaining effective control we shall afford the fairest and most humane treatment for everyone who arrives on our shores asking to be admitted. The other Act which I want to discuss at some length is—
My Lords, before the noble Lord proceeds, may I ask him to clarify one point? I think he said that between 3,000 and 4,000 aliens were refused permission, but only 200 or 300 as being undesirables. Could he explain what the others were if only 200 or 300 were undesirable? What about the other thousands who were not allowed in?
§ LORD STONHAM
There were 3,515 who were not allowed in; 290 were regarded as miscellaneous but undesirables—dope addicts, crooks and people like that. Of the others, far more than half either did not have any papers, or their papers were not in order: in other words, they had no right to come at all. Then there were various other smaller groupings. I could give the noble Lord the exact groupings, or I could write to him about them, because we have in fact dissected them. But now, for the moment, I would ask him to take it from me that none of the others, apart from the 290 I mentioned, were rejected because they were thought to be criminals or undesirables, or for security reasons.
The Commonwealth Immigrants Act, 1962, of whose working we have now had 2¼ years' experience, was opposed by the Labour Party when it was introduced— 1007 not because we rejected the control of immigrants but because we objected to the imposition of control without adequate consultation with the countries of the Commonwealth. Now we are asking Parliament to renew the Act for another year, and I will give our reasons. It has been reliably estimated that people from the Asian, African and Caribbean countries of the Commonwealth living in this country now number, including their children born here, some 800,000. The net increase in the number of people from all the new Commonwealth countries and the dependent territories since Part I of the Act came into force on July 1, 1962, is about 124,000, an average increase of rather more than 4,800 a month over the 28-month period. This net increase of 124,000 is, of course, included in that total figure of 800,000.
The Act provides that we should admit immigrants holding vouchers: Category "A", people for whom employers have actually asked; Category "B", those who have special skills such as doctors, teachers, nurses and so on; and Category "C", which is for the others, mainly unskilled workers. Vouchers are issued at a rate determined from time to time by the Government. In recent months they have have been issued at an annual rate of about 20,000, some 1,600 a month or rather more. Latterly this quota has been insufficient to satisfy the "A" and "B" categories alone—the "B" category, of course, being people we actually need who are of great value to our economy. For some time now no vouchers have been issued under Category "C". Indeed, the backlog of "C" applicants reached 300,000 in June of this year and it was then decided to accept no further non-priority "C" applications from India and Pakistan, whence the great majority of such applications come.
In addition to the voucher holders, we admit their wives and children up to age 16. They, of course, have a right to come, but, in addition, we admit other dependants at discretion, generously interpreted. By that I mean a generous interpretation of the term "wife" and a generous interpretation of "the age of 16". We also admit genuine students and a relatively small number of persons able to maintain themselves.
1008 I should like to give your Lordships a few figures, which you will find vary from those which were quoted two weeks ago in another place by my right honourable friend because the figures I now give have been brought right up to date to the end of October. Since the Act came into operation in July, 1962, we have admitted in total nearly 50,000 voucher-holders and 65,000 dependants. That is a total of 115,000, most of whom were legally entitled to come here. But the actual net total admitted during the period was 142,000 of whom 17,000 were from the older Commonwealth countries. There is thus a difference of about 27,000 between the net balance admitted and the total of those admitted as dependants and voucher-holders. Some of these 27,000 we can account for among other small categories of people admitted for settlement, but we are left with a substantial number, about 17,000, which we cannot explain.
If last year's pattern is repeated, the number may be reduced by people going home for Christmas before the end of the year, which is what happened last year. It appears that there may be, or must be, some evasions of the regulations, although the control has not vet been in operation long enough to enable any accurate estimate to be made of its extent. Presumably, the evaders are visitors or students who have not yet returned or do not intend to return home. This is a matter which my right honourable friend is closely watching.
Meanwhile, I would point out that the figure I have given of average intake over the last three years, of 50,000 a year, compares with Australia's hope to attract 70,000 migrants from this country next year. It compares also with about 60,000 Irish who enter into insurance in the United Kingdom every year. If, which Heaven forbid! their countenances were as green as their lovely land, it would put some of our problems in a different and truer perspective. The major problem is not the present number of new entrants, but the 800,000 who are already here. If we cut off the flow, we handicap ourselves economically. Economically we need them, but socially we have failed to cope with their needs. As in so many other fields, regrettably, the Party opposite had done nothing like enough to solve this problem, and we are left to 1009 solve the problem of integrating 800,000 people into our crowded community.
Inevitably, they are gathered in areas where work is readily available, and just as inevitably they are crowded into the decaying parts of cur cities under conditions which frequently constitute an offence to recognised standards. The problem is not basically economic or ethnic, but social, and the longer it is left the worse it will get. As my right honourable friend said in another place two weeks ago [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 702 (No. 14), col. 286.]:It would be quite appalling if in our country, with all its great it tradition of tolerance and fair play … there were allowed to develop some sort of division between citizens in this country according to which they became first or second class citizens.My Lords, it requires a great and combined effort by Government, by local authorities, by voluntary organisations and by ordinary people if we are to find the way to live in peace and charity with those who belong to the Commonwealth, of which our Queen is the acknowledged Head, but who are different in colour and background from ourselves. Let us not forget that it is idle to talk of building a successful multiracial Commonwealth of 750 million people if we cannot integrate a million citizens of that same Commonwealth into a multiracial Britain. We must look at the problem in the round and in its world context.
First, we have to tackle urgently the problems of overcrowding, of schools, of health and of welfare. My right honourable friends the Ministers of Housing, Education and Health are studying the matter and will in due course announce their plans. Housing is generally believed to be the most acute problem, for which the only lasting remedy is to provide more dwellings to let at reasonable rents—a need which is not confined to the immigrants in our community. In the meantime, local authorities have powers, which the Government will encourage them to use, to tackle the abuses which arise from overcrowded conditions. They can control numbers by issuing, directions to prevent or reduce overcrowding in houses in multiple occupation. They can require houses to be kept in reasonable repair, and certain facilities to be provided in them. In the worst cases they can take 1010 over the management of houses. There is also the general power to acquire property compulsorily, if need be, which can be used if it seems necessary in the interests of the community.
Health, too, is important and in relation to the immigrants is not a one-sided problem. Immigrants present some special problems for our health services, but they also make an important contribution to those services and to their development. We should be in great difficulties if we were suddenly deprived of the invaluable help of coloured doctors and nurses. It is sometimes suggested that immigrants are a threat to the health of the community because, it is alleged, they bring disease in with them. I should say, however, that it is apparent from surveys that have been made that much of the ill-health among immigrants is due to the conditions under which they live in this country. It is not to be friend, for example, that every Asian immigrant suffering from tuberculosis has brought the disease here with him.
My right honourable friend the Minister of Health has plans for immigrants to be given leaflets in their own languages on arrival, advising them how to bring themselves within the care of the National Health Service. Also, he is considering, with the medical profession and the local authority associations, arrangements for collecting and sending the destination addresses of immigrants to the appropriate medical officers of health.
As regards education, the schools of this country can obviously play a major part in the absorption of immigrant families. Small children, thank God! are not colour conscious and integration is possible within the school community. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science regards it as important that immigrant children should not be concentrated in particular schools. Serious strains develop where a school contains more than 30 per cent. of immigrant children. It would he an obstacle to integration if particular schools became generally known as "immigrant schools". Experience has shown that the parents will recognise this if the matter is properly explained to them, and be ready to cooperate in arrangements to disperse immigrant children among a number of schools. The presence of immigrant 1011 children, of course, creates other problems for schools, the most obvious being the need to provide special training in the English language. This can best be done through special reception classes for children, and I am sure that no one would suggest that that would constitute segregation. Special classes, of course, require special staffing and my right honourable friend has told local education authorities, that he is prepared to adjust their teacher quotas where necessary to facilitate this.
At this point, I should like to pay a warm tribute to the Commonwealth Immigrants Advisory Council, under the chairmanship of my noble friend Lady Reading. As your Lordships know, the Council has produced three most valuable reports on housing, education and the employment of school-leavers, and we shall listen with interest to what the noble Lady has to say later in the debate.
The second plank in the Government's policy is to evolve a sound scheme based on the number of new entrants we can assimilate within the services we are able to provide, and so avoid the bitter problems which would arise if too many were allowed to come in. Thirdly, we are aware that we shall achieve nothing unless we are prepared to face up to the people who, for political or pathological reasons, will continue to exploit ignorance, fear and hate, and we shall therefore introduce legislation to prevent discrimination in public places.
Fourthly, we shall try to bring the Commonwealth countries into discussion with us on the questions of control. From this I hope will come the realisation that this task cannot be accomplished by Britain alone as the recipient country, but that it should be tackled by the whole Commonwealth as a mutual problem. Finally, we shall act in recognition of the fact that the root cause of the excessive demand for entry here is poverty in the country from which the immigrants come. Most would prefer not to come here but are forced to leave their homes through economic circumstances. The situation will be transformed only by the development of these countries, so that Commonwealth citizens everywhere have in their own country a prospect of worth while employment and fuller living standards. The appointment of the Minister of Over- 1012 seas Development testifies to the anxiety of Her Majesty's Government to tackle this major objective.
In this connection we must not, as I think we do, underestimate the tremendous contribution towards the development of their native land which is being made by immigrants who train here land return, home to important jobs. May I quote in this from my own experience, which I readily acknowledge may not accurately represent the national picture? In the last few years I have presented hundreds of certificates to student nurses who have qualified here as State Registered Nurses. In my experience, in any given batch of twenty at a hospital prize-giving there is a cheer if one English girl comes up to draw her certificate or prize. The rest are from the countries of the Commonwealth. I have always made a point of asking each one of the girls her future plans, and almost invariably after they have done their midwifery they are going home, not merely as skilled persons to places where their skill is desperately needed, but as ambassadors of good will for Britain. I spoke about evaders, but it is often the case when one is at a nurses' prizegiving that perhaps two or three girls out of twenty have married. Sometimes one of the married girls will come up in an advanced state of pregnancy and you realise that there will be not one evader but two evaders in the very near future when we add up the figures. It may be in this way that these figures are reached, but what would one suggest could be done about that?
In my experience many of the ordinary workers who come here also do good work. I am not speaking of students now, but of ordinary workers who come here, particularly Africans. Again I speak from personal knowledge of those who were until a few weeks ago my own employees. The man comes alone and after a year or so he sends for his wife and family. Meanwhile, apart from his daytime bread-and-butter job, he seeks at evening classes a technical or semi-professional qualification so that he can return home as a man of standing and able to teach others. This uncovenanted dividend arising from the entry of Commonwealth immigrants into Britain has a value which can scarcely be overestimated. It immensely 1013 strengthens the Commonwealth as a force for peace in the world, and we should be wise to make sacrifices to ensure its continuance.
My Lords, the Government are convinced that, fully implemented and given a fair run, our policy will prove that the fears expressed in some quarters, that we should be swamped by immigrants, will prove groundless. Meanwhile, we shall not be stampeded into any measures before we have had an opportunity to consider the many complex problems involved. We must also have a full opportunity to discuss this with the Commonwealth. The solution of the social problems will take a long time, my Lords, but we are determined to make solid progress towards the ultimate goal of building in Britain a society which, for fairness and justice to all, and for tolerance o 7 racial issues, will provide a model for the rest of the world. My Lords, I beg to move,
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Stonham.)
§ 4.10 p.m.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, as I understand it, the reason why we have an Expiring Laws Continuance Bill is because there are certain measures which Parliament considers pro tem, but does not wish to have on the Statute Book in perpetuity. A time limit is set on their operation, thus reserving to Parliament the right to have another look at them when they come up for renewal. Now among the Acts that this Bill will renew is the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, and it is on this Act that I should like this afternoon to say something.
No one will deny that there is serious concern in many quarters over the problem of immigration. So far as this side of the House is concerned, we welcome the fact that the Act is to be renewed; and the fact that it is being so represents a remarkable volte-face on the part of Her Majesty's Government, considering that when in Opposition they voted in another place against both the Second and Third Readings of the original Bill and against the renewal of the Bill last year. Such a complete change in policy in such a short time must, even to the least cynically-minded man, raise doubts as to the motives of the present Government in opposing the original Bill.
1014 The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, in proposing the Second Reading just now, said that his Party did not oppose control in principle but that it was only because of lack of consultation. To the matter of consultation with the Commonwealth before the Act was introduced I will come later. My noble friend Viscount Dilhorne—and I am sure that Members on all sides of the House would like to join with me in congratulating him on the honour we read about in this morning's papers—took a very active part in the Second and Third Reading debates in another place when the Bill was first introduced, and, although I cannot, of course, speak for him, it is possible that he will have something to say that may make it a little difficult for the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, to justify the fact that it was not the principle of control but only the lack of consultation to which they were opposed.
My Lords, I had the good fortune to work in the Commonwealth Relations Office for four years, and, as a result, I have a passionate interest in furthering the cause of the Commonwealth, in strengthening its ties and in making a reality of the ideals for which the Commonwealth stands. As the first of those ideals is that all men are equal, regardless of race, colour or creed, it is perhaps understandable that I should be concerned about this Act. Racial discrimination is an odious and barbaric practice, and we in this country are fortunate that the majority of the people are not prepared to see it practised. It is the duty of those who lead this country to maintain conditions so that the number of any minority who might wish to see discrimination on the grounds of race or colour should diminish rather than increase, and this will not be achieved by an ostrich-like attitude to the problem posed by large-scale immigration.
That there are problems, a number of problems, there is no doubt, and to admit that the problems exist does not mean opposition to the principle of immigration to this country; still less does it mean the favouring of racial discrimination. Of course it does not: it is merely facing facts squarely. It is a great misinterpretation to see, as we have seen on occasions, that, because people announce the problems, they are immediately dismissed as avowed racialists. Nothing is further from the truth. Indeed it is the 1015 reverse. Until the problems are faced fairly and squarely, the tensions caused by substantial immigration—immigrant communities being built up in certain areas in Britain—will never be relieved.
Of course, the overriding problem is that of physical numbers. Now I will not weary the House with a mass of statistics, but let it be said that 136,000 immigrants from other parts of the Commonwealth entered this country in 1961, the last full year of uncontrolled immigration, and that it was perfectly clear that demand for passages to this country was continually on the increase. I hope that noble Lords on all sides of the House will agree that the then Government had no alternative but to introduce legislation—reluctantly, I agree, but it had to be done—to control this veritable flood of men, women and children from other Commonwealth countries. We simply could not absorb the ever-swelling numbers of those wishing to come here. My Lords, it was the old, old question of trying to get a quart—or, indeed, even a gallon—into a pint pot.
I should like to join the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, in paying a tribute to those immigrants who have come here. All of us who have any knowledge—indeed, all of us who keep our eyes open in any way at all in our daily lives—can see to what extent this country depends for its national life on our fellow Commonwealth citizens. The noble Lord mentioned hospitals, and made reference to nurses. Indeed, that is true; but there are also a large number of doctors who play a very substantial part in making the National Health Scheme work. Many of our national or regional transport systems would very soon grind to a halt were it not for the labour of these people. I should like to make it absolutely clear to anyone who has a slightly sneering attitude to those who are immigrants, or who indeed treats them with a patronising attitude, that nothing is worse, nothing is more wrong; because they are one of us and, although they benefit from being here, we gain equally great benefits from them. But, as I have said, the problem remains.
There is a long-term problem and a long-term cure, to which the noble Lord made certain reference, and I should like, at the risk of wearying the House, to amplify a little what he said. What we 1016 want to do—and, as I see it, this is the only real long-term solution—is for the rich, developed countries of the West to so help the developing countries to help themselves that their citizens will lose their wish to leave their own countries and will prefer to stay in their own land among their own people. The reason why such a large number of people wish to come here is that there is this appalling, vast gulf between the standards of living in the highly industrialised and developed countries like ourselves in the West, and parts of the developing countries of Africa and Asia. My Lords, it is a shocking thing, but I believe it to be true that there are very many Pakistanis who wish to come here because to them the payments of National Assistance—the bare, perhaps too hare, amount of money on which people in this country can exist; the barest you could have to exist at all—represents riches beyond the dreams of avarice. That is a fact which is true and should be a permanent prick on all the consciences of right-thinking men.
This afternoon I do not wish to dwell on the challenge to the developed countries, to the "have" countries, which the "have not" countries represent. It is outside the scope of this debate. Nevertheless, it is a problem that must be solved, both on obvious moral grounds and because, since poverty is the breeding ground of Communism, and since we as a nation are opposed to Communist oppression, it is in our interest first to alleviate that chronic poverty and then to see it progressively removed as a scar on the face of the earth. I realise that Her Majesty's Government are aware of this problem—and, indeed, as the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said, they have created a new Ministry: that of Overseas Development. I must confess that I am not one who considers that the way to solve national or, indeed, world problems is by creating whole new Ministries to cope with them. I believe that the most efficient Administrations are those with the fewest Ministries, and certainly those with the fewest Ministers. In that I realise that I do not carry Her Majesty's Government with me. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, that we on this side of the House will watch with the greatest interest and the closest attention how this new Ministry develops and works.
1017 There is one other important factor bearing on the long-term cure for this massive immigration from certain developing Commonwealth countries: the immense difficulty posed by the fact that these countries have ever-increasing populations. Comprehensive steps must be taken to encourage and persuade peoples of the emergent countries to curb their alarmingly rapidly growing populations. Otherwise, efforts to improve their standard of living, and ill the help that the richer countries in the world give them to achieve this, will be set at nought. As it is, owing to their over-increasing populations, many countries in Africa and Asia must run very fast indeed to stay economically where they are.
In the last Parliament this subject was discussed at least twice; and, as I said on the subject of development overseas, this is not the time to discuss it again. I would, however, offer just one suggestion. Could not ways and means of helping countries faced with this grave problem be included among the tasks of the Permanent Commonwealth Secretariat to be set up as a result of the deliberations of this summer's Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference? In addition, perhaps, co not funds from the Commonwealth Foundation, also to be set up as a result of that Conference, be provided for an inquiry to be made into the whole subject? But these are long-term cures. We shall be faced with this problem at any rite for the remaining decades of this century. Meanwhile, steps must be taken to tackle the problem at once. In so far as the Act is to be renewed it means that action is still being taken. What I and my noble friends are wondering is whether sufficient steps are being taken, and whether positive action is being done to tackle the real problem.
When this subject was debated in another place on November 17, the right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary made some alarming disclosures. These have been repeated this afternoon, with more up-to-date figures, by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. He gave the alarming information that there are 27,000 Commonwealth immigrants entering this country who cannot be explained away. I will accept that some will be bona fide visitors and that a substantial number may be students, and I am sure that all of us with the Commonwealth 1018 at heart will do all we can to encourage bona fide students to come and learn our ways, have the best of our teaching, and go back not only qualified for the difficult tasks ahead but as lasting friends of this country.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, would the noble Duke allow me to interrupt? He has used, quite rightly, the figure of 27,000, which I quoted; but I should not like it to be thought that that is necessarily the number of people who have, as it were, evaded the regulations. At most, that number would be 17,000 and by the end of the year it might be as low as 12,000 or 15,000.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. On these figures—I may have misheard the noble Lord, and if I have done so, I apologise—I thought that a little later in his speech he said that the number of legal immigrants to this country in the last year had been running at the rate of 50,000. That, of course, is true; but the figure we want to look at is 142,000, which is the total figure. I know that it includes 50,000 who come in on vouchers.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, the figure of 142,000 is for 28 months. I said an annual intake of 50,000 which includes everybody: those who have a right to be here and those who have not.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, I accept that figure. Then, as I see it, for 28 months, the annual legal intake has been 100,000 but the actual intake has been 142,000. It is up by 33 per cent., that is, by one-third. This is a serious matter and it is one to which we should give very close attention. It is clear beyond all doubt that the control of immigration is not working as it should. In the debate on the gracious Speech in your Lordships' House on November 11, my noble friend Lord Dilhorne asked a number of questions of Her Majesty's Government on their policy on immigration. We on this side of the House are still waiting for the answer. The noble Lord, when winding up his speech just now, said that the Government are determined to stick by their immigration policy. I listened closely to the noble Lord's speech; I gave it my best attention; but, to be honest, I am still not clear 1019 what is the Government's policy on Commonwealth immigration.
I tried in the days before this debate to learn something from studying the Labour Party Manifesto at the recent Election and it is true that some vague references were made to the need to achieve with our Commonwealth partners a satisfactory agreement covering immigration, but it was cast in pretty vague terms. If this means that Her Majesty's Government hope to persuade those countries from where there is large-scale emigration voluntarily to take steps to restrict their citizens from leaving, then I feel I must warn the Government that I have the gravest doubts whether such a policy would succeed.
In the opening part of his remarks, the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said that the reason why his Party had voted against the initial Act and its renewal, was that they felt that there had not been enough consultation. I do not think the facts fit the case. For 18 months prior to the introduction of the Bill the then Government tried, and tried again, to come to an agreement with the main immigrant-sending countries: India, Pakistan and the West Indies. It was because of our determined efforts to -try to achieve this without the need of legislation, and by agreement, that the introduction of the legislation was delayed so long until we had an annual figure of 136,000 coming in any one year. The West Indies refused to consider such restriction on their own people from leaving. India and Pakistan made attempts, but in the end it was conclusively clear that they were either unwilling or, more likely, unable to take such a step.
Of course, Commonwealth consultation on immigration is to be welcomed. I hope it will be vigorously pursued. But I do say this: unless it is underpinned by the continuation of the present Act, I cannot see consultation by itself achieving anything. Again, perhaps the services of the Commonwealth Secretariat might be a useful vehicle for the further carrying on of such consultations.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I can assure the noble Duke that although we hope for successful consultations we still agree that control will have to continue.
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
A great many of your Lordships here this afternoon know far more about the art of government than I do, but lesson one I have learned in my experience as a Minister is that decisions which have to be taken are only on rare occasions the simple choice of what is the right, as opposed to the wrong, thing to do. All too often, one has to decide which is the lesser of two evils. So it is in this case. On the one hand, you can argue—and I do not dissent—that it is wrong that we, a rich country, should deny the good things of life here to our fellow, less fortunate, citizens of the Commonwealth. But, to my mind, it is a far greater wrong to allow them to come here in such numbers that all the inherent dangers in large-scale coloured immigration come to the fore. There is the danger of immigrants becoming second-class citizens, the hewers of wood and drawers of water of the nation. There is the danger, owing to their poverty and different backgrounds, of their being prepared to accept housing conditions which are unacceptable to their more fortunate neighbours. In turn, overcrowding brings with it the associated problems of strain on the local health, welfare and educational services, thus causing understandable resentment.
The first aim of this country's immigration policy must be that all those we welcome to our shores should be treated as the equals of our own people. They must be considered one of us. There is a small minority of bad people who would not hesitate to exploit, for their own evil ends, the problems that arise when immigrants do not become assimilated. Certainly so far as good Commonwealth relations are concerned, I have no doubt in saying that it is better to have control, even very strict control, of immigration rather than allow control to become so lax and loose that explosions of racial tension take place. The tragic happenings of Notting Hill Gate a year or two ago did far more harm to the Commonwealth than the imposition of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act.
For these reasons, I would urge Her Majesty's Government to look very closely at the working of the Act, so that the admitted evasions that are taking place can be stopped. Nor should the current rate of issuing visas—I think about 1,600 to 2,000 a month—be regarded as sacrosanct. It might well be 1021 in the interests of all concerned, of the relations between ourselves and our Commonwealth partners and of our own people, that this rate should be reduced. I am not asking that it be reduced, but saying that the Government should not regard the figure as sacrosanct and as one that cannot be reduced. So we must face the fact that, for the foreseeable future, we need this Act. It is for these reasons, which I have tried to outline, that we on these Benches welcome the fact that it is to be renewed.
§ 4.32 p.m.
§ LORD ROYLE
My Lords, although it is over nineteen years since I made my maiden speech in another place, albeit in this Chamber, I approach my first speech in your Lordships' House, if not with trepidation, with hesitancy, and, I hope, with due modesty. I intend to speak only on the Commonwealth Immigrants Act part of the Bill which we are discussing this afternoon. I suppose that it is inevitable that I shall repeat some of the things that have been said by the two noble Lords who have preceded me, but maybe I shall say them in a different way.
Having taken son-le part in the Second Reading and Committee stage debates of the original enactment, I must begin by expressing my utter distaste for this Act. That distaste has not been reduced by the passage of two and a half years. In my view, the Act was introduced under undesirable pressure, with a lack of thought of the details and, in spite of what the noble Duke said, I assert, without full consultation with the Commonwealth countries concerned. Consultation had taken place with regard to the number of immigrants coming into this country, but after conversations with Sir Grantley Adams and other leaders of the West Indies, in particular, I am sure that consultation in regard to the Bill itself was very much lacking. Having said that, I want immediately to add that I appreciate the necessity at this moment for Her Majesty's Government to mark time until greater consideration can be given. Listening to the noble Duke, one would have though that the Labour Party had been in power during the two and a half years the Act has been in force. In fact, it was a Conservative Government that failed to give further consideration during these years to the 1022 problems which have been brought about by the Act. Until consideration can be given and further consultations can take place, obviously Her Majesty's Government must mark time.
About seven years ago, I was concerned in the foundation of the British Caribbean Association, and until last July I was Joint Chairman. Our aim has been to establish a better knowledge and understanding between the West Indies and their peoples and this country. Accordingly, my main interest in the Act has been with its application to West Indians, though I recognise that they are far from being the whole problem, and I admit at once a real bias towards them. My love of the West Indies and its people is only second to my love of my own land and its people.
There are four main reasons why I opposed the Bill when it was introduced in 1962, along with many of my honourable friends in another place. The first is that I know the economic and social conditions under which the West Indians live. Our colonial rule over the years brought many advantages to these territories, but we cannot be very proud of the economic, educational and social conditions that we left, for example, in Jamaica after 300 years. They provided us during those years with essential and luxury commodities, but the people of those islands did not benefit proportionately by that trade. Small wonder, therefore, that the stories of our prosperity brought thousands of them here—a country where they saw prospects of a fuller life and greater opportunities for their children, in spite of their superb climate as against our atrocious winters.
Secondly, they are all members of the Commonwealth family and so have a right to express priorities over other immigrants. My noble friend Lord Stonham told us this afternoon that there are 400,000 aliens in this country and that the numbers are increasing year by year. There are only 800,000 coloured Commonwealth immigrants in the country. Yet we seem to have exercised much more concern about our own family than we exercise with regard to the aliens Thirdly the immigrants have come here to meet the demand for workers in certain sections of our community life. In some places our transport services would have come to a standstill without them; 1023 some of our hospitals might have been closed—or, at least, there would have been fewer beds. An honourable friend of mine in another place told me a story not long ago. He was visiting his constituents, and at one door the lady complained to him that the neighbourhood was deteriorating in every respect because a West Indian family had come to live next door, and the value of their House was falling accordingly. When the door closed, my honourable friend went to the house next door. The door was opened by a West Indian lady, and in the course of conversation he said to her, "May I ask you what your occupation is?" She said, "I am a sister in Bristol Royal Infirmary." That is the sort of thing we have to remember when we hear criticisms levelled against some of the newcomers.
Fourthly, I opposed the Bill because I believe that in many cases immigrants are taking back to their own countries the skills learned here, and in this way are helping in the economy and social services of their own land. As has already been said, many send money home; and that also is a great help to their own countries.
Because I should hate to be accused of bitterness, at any length I resist the temptation to discuss the incidents of Smethwick and Perry Barr, where undoubtedly racial and colour problems were exploited for Election purposes. But I am concerned about the spirit that is creeping in. Perhaps I may be allowed a personal allusion. My wife and I, because of my connection with the Caribbean Association and similiar organisations, have not enjoyed answering the telephone at frequent intervals at all hours of the night to be told by an anonymous yet cultured voice that I was "a bloody nigger-loving bastard", and they were going to "do a Kennedy" on me. This is what is creeping in, my Lords, and this is my deep concern.
These things express the spirit which is developing in this so-called Commonwealth-loving country, and I have no hesitation in saying that it is very largely due to the passing of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act two and a half years ago. This spirit has to be eradicated. Over the centuries we have welcomed to our shores the Flems, Huguenots, Poles, Hungarians, and Jews, many of them 1024 fleeing from persecution and unhappy conditions. They have all, in their turn, contributed to our economy and our culture. Who is to say that our latest newcomers will not so contribute? Or is it that different pigmentation makes a different welcome? We do not see the Europeans: Asians, Africans and West Indians are prominent by their colour. The housing shortage is used as a reason for control of immigration, but it is rather a get-out for the overall shortage: in fact, it has been shown, unfortunately, that many of the immigrants live with more people to a room than we do ourselves.
So many things must happen before another year expires, and I have the nerve to offer one or two suggestions to Her Majesty's Government. First, there must be full consultation at a special Commonwealth Round Table Conference to prove the responsibility of all member Government for a new multiracial family of nations. It is not just a problem of Britain or the exporting countries; it concerns the whole Commonwealth. I learned some facts from the Commonwealth Migration Council. In 1963, Canada accepted 93,000 immigrants: of these, 27 per cent. came from the United Kingdom; 15 per cent. from Italy, 12 per cent. from the United States and 7 per cent. from Germany. I can see no mention whatever of coloured peoples. In nine months to October last, 42,000 applications for entry into Canada were made from the United Kingdom, and so far 25,000 have their documents.
Australia, between July, 1963, and March, 1964, received 50,000 immigrants from the United Kingdom: 9,500 from Italy, 9,500 from Greece, 3,500 from Yugoslavia, 2,500 from Germany and 2,000 from Holland; and they hope, they say, to have 127,000 settlers in 1965. How many will there be from the coloured Commonwealth, I wonder. New Zealand, between April, 1963, and April, 1964, took 16,000 from the United Kingdom. The Dutch population of New Zealand has grown from 128 to 17,800 in ten years. I plead, with all the power and sincerity that I can muster, with these countries to open their arms and their hearts and to share our responsibility and burden.
Secondly, there must be inaugurated at national level a campaign of education in the background of immigrant peoples, 1025 the causes of racial prejudice and the facilities for integration. My noble friend Lord Walston has done great work in this regard by the organisation of week-end schools for British teachers. Thirdly, I believe that there must be introduced, as my noble friend has said, legislation making racial discrimination illegal. I wish we could have succeeded without it, but I am afraid that legislation has to take the place of education and mutual understanding, at all events for the present.
Fourthly, there should be a tremendous effort at dispersal of the immigrants with a view to integration in the general population. The Observer on November 15 pointed out that 33 cities and towns in this country had taken the bulk of the estimated 800,000 coloured immigrants, half of whom are West Indians. These 33 cities and towns have 20,000 or more coloured immigrants in their midst. This situation brings about ghettoes, and the coloured people are very busy. Is it beyond our wit as a nation—I say this to Her Majesty's Government: is it beyond the wit of the Government?—that there should be friendly consultations with immigration officers? Meanwhile, every local authority might have been taken into consultation and asked to co-operate with the local office of the Ministry of Labour in regard to the provision of accommodation and work, particularly in the towns where coloured immigrants have not so far settled. I should not mind, my Lords, if far the time being the accommodation were in the form of hostels. Goodness knows! they would be very much better than the housing conditions from which so many of them have come. Any noble Lord who knows Jamaica and Shanty Town, on the Spanish Town Road at Kingston, knows exactly what I mean. That illustration can be multiplied a thousand times.
On the question of labour, the Guardian pointed out on October 16 that the London County Council Planning Committee estimate that the demand for labour will he greater than the supply over the next year, and this applies to most of the South-East. I am imagining a conversation at the ports. The immigration officer says, "Where are you going?" The immigrant says, "Notting Hill or Birmingham". The immigration officer asks, "Why?", and the immigrant says, "I have a cousin there; he has 1026 been there for two years". I believe that if work and accommodation were to he found and shown to be possible in some other town, almost all the incoming people would be prepared to accept a different place to go to. I use the town as an illustration because it is my old constituency, but let Salford, say, take 2,000; let Lower Slaughter take a couple of families and many others would be ready to move from the ghettoes.
I believe that these have to be the approaches to the problem or we shall find ourselves drifting into the situation which prevails in the United States. These approaches have to be humanitarian ones, and Christian in their outlook. All of us in this country are made up of Romans, Normans, Danes, Picts, Scots and Welsh. It applies even to noble Lords—perhaps more so than anybody else. Should we be much worse off for a dash of darker blood? It may be that the peace of the world will be assured when all of us are coffee-coloured. I apologise for keeping your Lordships so long. I apologise if my speech has been somewhat controversial. I can excuse myself only by saying that this is a matter about which I feel very keenly indeed.
§ 4.53 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LIVERPOOL
My Lords, on the last occasion on which I had the temerity to put my name down to speak in your Lordships' House, I found that on the list of speakers I came next to a noble Lord who was to make his maiden speech. I had the privilege, and, I must admit, the anxiety, of facing the unexpected hazard of congratulating him upon his maiden speech in your Lordships' House. This afternoon I have a similar privilege, again quite unexpected, of voicing the appreciation of your Lordships to the noble Lord, Lord Royle, for his admirable maiden speech this afternoon. He has already reminded us that for nineteen years he represented his constituency at Salford in another place. During that time he had the esteem of all sides of that House, and was for a time a Government Whip. His chief interest has been the Magistrates' Association, of which he has been the Chairman. We are glad to welcome him into your Lordships' House, and if his speech this afternoon is an indication of the standard of what he is going to give us in days to come, 1027 we hope we shall frequently hear him speaking in this House.
My Lords, when the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill was at the Committee stage in your Lordships' House, I was one who expressed fears lest the would-be immigrants should be dealt with officiously and without due consideration to family and other circumstances. From what information I have been able to collect, and that mainly from Merseyside, I am of the opinion that such fears have proved groundless. The Act seems to have been administered with charitable flexibility. Special care has been taken to enable family units to assemble in the United Kingdom. While there are restrictions upon the number of children over 16 years of age who may accompany or join their parents, the instructions given to immigration officers have extended the age limit to 18. In some special cases, sons of 21 and unmarried daughters who have formed part of a family unit are also allowed in without employment vouchers. This flexibility is to be greatly appreciated.
The housing problem, admittedly, is a difficult one, but in places where workers are needed and housing accommodation is scarce the problem would be there in any case, altogether apart from the immigration of coloured people. It is a matter of quantity in the areas where work is available, and at rents which workers, whatever their colour, can afford. There is, however, a strong case to be made for linking housing of coloured immigrants with welfare provisions for them, in order to facilitate their adjustment to British social conditions and standards of house maintenance. An Octavia Hill type of scheme would be valuable. This is a piece of work which Churches and Christian groups could well undertake through setting up housing associations to purchase and manage properties for this purpose, rather than to leave it to doubtful speculators, some of them coloured, to buy and let out dwelling space. Action along these lines could well prevent the establishment of an undue concentration of coloured people. While this is undesirable, some concentration of coloured immigrants is wise to enable them to feel at home. These should not be large groups, and certainly not whole quarters of the slummier areas of our cities.
1028 There is very little colour prejudice on Merseyside, but that is mainly due to local circumstances. The coloured population of the city of Liverpool is a settled one—it has been there for years. It has been accepted as such, and most of the immigrants who land at the port of Liverpool do not stay in the city but go into the Midlands and into heavy industry. Some students on Merseyside have difficulty in obtaining suitable accommodation, but most of them manage to do so in very good university halls of residence, where they are accepted by the other students, and in the hostels provided by the Churches, of which International House, run by the Methodist Church, and World Friendship House, a Church of England hostel, are outstanding examples. Liverpool already seems geared into an acceptance of the fact that a multiracial Britain may be necessary if we are to be the centre of a multiracial Commonwealth.
But that is not so in many parts of the country. Our own economic necessities demand immigration. The economic conditions in parts of the Commonwealth demand emigration. Before either of these conditions can be met by other means, even if that is desirable, we in the United Kingdom have, and will continue to have, a sizeable group of coloured citizens. It is, however, of first-rate importance to prevent any social issue from becoming a racial issue, for once passions of this kind are aroused they become uncontrollably cruel and irrational. The temperature must be kept down even if the number of immigrants has to be controlled to gain time and experience of how to do it. During such a period it will be the duty of every responsible agency in the country dealing with social conditions to decide and state clearly what we mean by integration and by a multiracial society; and, more than that, to persuade people of the virtue of the meaning we proclaim. That is the central concern of the situation as it is to-day.
It would appear, therefore, that continued control of immigration is necessary. The means of control I think could with advantage be re-examined to see whether by consultation it could be better achieved by treaty than by legislation. The control must, however, be accompanied by a continuous, thorough 1029 and deep examination of experience, leading to the formulation of policies and programmes consistent with our faith and experience. Such policies and programmes must be not only both right and just but made acceptable to the very large number; of unreflective people who must be helped to understand the situation as it really is.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ LORD HAILES
My Lords, I should like to add a word in congratulation to the noble Lord, Lord Royle, on his maiden speech, which was, as one would have expected, very sincere and filled with that real interest and love which he has for the West Indians which is common knowledge and which is so deeply appreciated by them. I venture to intervene briefly and shall confine my remarks, as did the noble Lord, to the Commonwealth In migrants Act because. as your Lordship; may know, I spent four and a half years as Governor General in the West Indies, from where so many have come to live among us, and for whose people I cherish feelings of deep affection and respect. I do not think that anyone who has lived among them could possibly have any other feelings. if they have there must be something wrong with them themselves.
Before I went to the West Indies in 1957 I visited several of our cities where immigrants, then mostly West Indians, were living, and although conditions were far from perfect I thought that, on the whole, there was a good atmosphere and even some sense of integration. But of course at that time, compared with the figures of to-day, there were far fewer immigrants living in this country. Therefore, in 1962 when I was in the West Indies I naturally felt regret at the introduction of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill and could share in the hurt resistance it met with in the West Indies, with all of whose problems of poverty and overcrowding I was then only too well acquainted. The Bill was, of course, regarded by the West Indians, as the larger part of immigrants to this country still were West Indians, as a colour Bill in general and a colour Bill against the West Indies in particular.
I might say at this point that, although there were some fiery speeches about turning out the white people from the West Indies, it was extraordinary how 1030 little discourtesy there was and I never met in public or anywhere with any discourtesy, all the time there was that strong feeling. But during the years since 1957 the picture of immigration into the United Kingdom has greatly changed. Subject to correction I think the entry of immigrants (nearly all West Indians) into the United Kingdom in 1957 was approximately 42,000. In the first six months only of 1962, before this Act was passed, the total entry of immigrants—West Indians and Asiatics—was approximately 95,000. Although after the Act there was a sharp drop, from the figures that the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has given us, the figures have now soared out of all recognition.
We know well that the present immigrant population is 800,000 people, and when one considers the position now that the Categories "A" and "B" (those with jobs to go to and with special skills) have quite crowded out the Category "C" applicants, so that there are 300,000 people on the waiting lists, one gets some idea of what the position would be if there had never been this Act.
§ LORD HAILES
I did not know that. However, in view of the figures we have been given (which I will not quote as I might get them slightly wrong, and we have been well supplied with them in another place and by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, to-day) one is bound to conclude, however reluctantly—and the noble Lord, Lord Royle, and I myself know that "reluctantly" means that in our hearts—that some form of control must continue. For if the floodgates were opened, neither could this country contain the numbers involved, nor could the immigrants be contained. Even more tragic would be the real danger of a deterioration of race relations in this country and, most tragic of all, arising out of that, the strong probability of a chain reaction of race feeling throughout the Commonwealth and beyond, which would only give comfort to the enemies of our way of life.
I do not think that as a people we are race conscious, for we are essentially tolerant and understanding and take 1031 pride in the vast multiracial Commonwealth of which Her Majesty is Head. But I think that much of man's unkindness to man in history has very often arisen from fear, fear of the unknown, fear of the unfamiliar. And in an already crowded island when, because of newcomers, jobs, housing, education and so on are at risk, or it is thought that they are at risk, then differences of complexion and of ways of life are called in aid to increase resentment and tension, and are exaggerated, often grossly exaggerated, in the process. This is something which is human nature, but we must see that it never gets out of hand in this country.
Provided, then, that it is agreed, as I think it now is by everyone in this country, that there cannot be a "free for all", I think it should be generally recognised that since 1962, when this Act was first passed, the rate of entry and the administration of the Act has surely not been illiberal. I think we should also make it more clearly known, and I am glad it has been mentioned by your Lordships to-day, how much value we place upon so many of these new citizens, especially the doctors, nurses and teachers, as well as those in the various fields of transport and others, who are playing not only a valuable but an essential part in our economy and bringing with them special qualities of their own, such as Lord Stonham's ancestors did, from which we can all benefit.
The Government have said that they intend to review the working of the Act and perhaps replace it with something voluntarily agreed with Commonwealth countries. But this matter had—although it has not apparently been acknowledged—I thought quite a long history under the former Government; I do not think it is anything new. I wish the present Government all luck, seriously, in that effort, but I am not sanguine, in view of the result of the valiant attempts that have already been made. But if there are to be any changes in the law or changes in administration, I trust that no rigid system will ever be adopted, and that the question of entry of dependants and students, bona fide visitors, and perhaps other categories, will always be ridden with a light rein; and—if this is not incitement—I hope that even the risk of 1032 a little evasion may be taken into account.
It must always be remembered, as I think has already been mentioned by your Lordships, that the immigrants do not come here from choice. West Indians, for instance, do not from choice move from a simple, warm-hearted multiracial society, with the sun ever shining, to a highly-geared, complex, non-multiracial society living in what one noble Lord said, and I agree, must seem to them to be a perfectly ghastly climate. Nor do I suppose immigrants from Asia seek a language difficulty on purpose. They come here because they are compelled by poverty and overcrowding to find a living, and where could they turn except to us? As for their capacity for work, I have often heard people say they do no work. There may be many statistics, but I always think of this interesting fact: that every year approximately £6 million is sent back from here in savings to the dependants of Jamaican immigrants in this country, and if that is not an earnest of seriousness of purpose and good character I do not know what is.
While we hope that gradually economic conditions in those countries from which immigrants come will improve—and, certainly, if we can help we should, but it is not as easy as all that—so that they may find, as they want to do and it is right they should, a living in their own countries, there will none the less always be a substantial so-called coloured population in this country. Therefore, whatever difficulties of integration there are in certain districts—and I fully appreciate those difficulties—I hope everyone will learn to resist the temptation to make the colour of a man's skin a special target for criticism or abuse.
I have always understood that colour is very much regulated by the sun, of which in this country we have a limited amount, both as regards quantity and quality. If the answer to that is that people should stay where they belong, there are two rejoinders to that; first, that we in the past have quite liberally exported our own Nordic complexions over a quarter of the earth's surface, and not least among people with darker skins than our own; and secondly—and these are my last words—that in the course of so doing, while we have conferred very great benefits indeed, we 1033 have also received much from our former Empire and have contracted obligations which we cannot ignore, and which to the best of our ability we should repay.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, the continuation of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act gives us on both sides of the House the opportunity to comment on a situation which I believe is without precedent in the social history of our country. That is, of course, the establishment of a multiracial society. I welcome, as I am sure all your Lordships do, the contributions which are being made in order that we can analyse this situation in a constructive way, because I think we should examine it both in the interests of the people of this country and in the interests of the people of the Commonwealth countries. During the last few years, in order to promote world harmony and remove injustice, we have sought to share our technical knowledge and our technicians with the underdeveloped countries. It seems to me that if this is to achieve the optimum effect we must surely co-ordinate our immigration policy with our emigration policy.
We have heard mentioned the people who have been coming from Pakistan and from India. I would remind your Lordships that in those two countries, and many others, there is a desperate fight against disease and illiteracy. We know about Category "A" and Category "B". Category "A", I understand, includes men who have a skilled training and who are asked for by employers in this country; Category "B" includes people with professional training—let us say, all the health workers and teachers, It seems to me rather curious that it is from those countries, where they, is a very short expectation of life in comparison to ours, a high rate of disease and a high rate of illiteracy, that we are encouraging the professional people and the skilled people they need, to come here. For many years we were blamed for being an imperialist Power and for taking the wealth from the Colonies, and we decided, quite rightly, as I am sure both sides of the Home now will agree, to give the Colonies their freedom. But now, it seems to me, we have put on the Statute Book a law which enables the cream of the trained people in those 1034 countries to come here. Surely that is another form of wealth, a most important form of wealth, a form of wealth which they have been trying to establish for many years. And we say that those people can come here.
We have been told this afternoon—and I have listened very carefully to every speech—that although these countries have been asked not to export so many of their people, they feel that they cannot comply. They cannot stop their people from coming here. But we are in effect inviting them to come here, by saying, "You can come here in Category 'A' if you have a special skill, and you can come in Category 'B' it you belong to a profession." And what is happening in this country? From this country doctors are leaving for America and the Colonies at the rate of 350 to 400 a year, which is the equivalent of about one-quarter of all the students who graduate. Surely it is illogical or hypocritical to promise to help underdeveloped countries while our legislation permits us to drain them of some of their best trained people. I hope I shall not be misinterpreted. I agree with the fact that North of the Wash our hospitals would be closed if we had not Commonwealth doctors. But by encouraging the finest people from these under developed countries to come here, we have encouraged a kind of laissez faire attitude; and we have said, "Well, let them come here and let a quarter of our qualified doctors leave."
We find ourselves in a most curious situation, and I should have thought that before Category "A" and Category "B" were admitted (I am saying this in the interests of their own countries) the immigration authorities should seek assurances from the Ministry of Overseas Development that the country of origin regarded those experts as being surplus to their needs. If we do not do that, in a few years' time the young people in these countries—I say the young people because they are the people who agitate and think; and we are perhaps rather inclined to blame them without too much consideration—will say that we have stopped taking their wealth in another form, but have simply returned to an exploitation of such a nature that it will take them many years to recover.
1035 When my noble friend replies I should like to know whether the five departments concerned—the Home Office, the Ministry of Overseas Development, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour—co-operate in this way in the interests of the underdeveloped countries. Do they, in any perhaps limited form, say to the countries of origin, "Can you spare these key people?" If there is no interchange of this kind, then I say that far from any of us sitting back and saying how generous we are to have this Act on the Statute Book, we are not being generous at all, we are draining these countries of their best citizens. Therefore, do not let us be too smart and hypocritical about this.
§ LORD DILHORNE
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lady one question? Am I to understand from what she is saying that she thinks there ought to be more rigid control exercised, and that the numbers of skilled people allowed to come to this country should be cut down?
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
That is a lawyer's interjection, and one which I am quite ready for. Let me give the noble Lord an illustration. Suppose one takes a large area in Pakistan. I went to Pakistan before independence, and among other places I went to Karachi. Suppose there were a large area which was dependent upon the services of a couple of excellent doctors. Whereas in this country you may have 5,000 patients to a doctor, they have something like 40,000 or 50,000, or even 100,000, to one doctor. If this key person said that he wanted to come here, I would say that it was in their interest, and the interest of humanity, that we in this country should say that his duty was to stay with these people. So when the noble Lord tries to tie me down to a yea or nay, I want him to realise that I am thinking in terms of special situations.
§ LORD DILHORNE
My Lords, I was trying to follow, as best I could, the noble Lady's argument. I thought she was coming to the conclusion that, as is possible under the present Act, which allows for a more rigid control, we should take power to impose a more rigid control and prevent that kind of individual from coming to this country.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, I would say in answer to that point, that I believe control should be selective in precisely the way I have described. But we are not being kind and generous to the people we appear to be helping if we take the cream of their population. That is the case I am putting, and it seems to me logical.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear!
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
I am glad to hear noble Lords say that. I am not here demanding that there should be an exclusion of coloured people from this country. I am saying, let their own people be cared for; let that be the first consideration.
The other aspect of immigration I should like to comment upon concerns integration. Any comment I make upon this so far as facts are concerned, I took from an excellent book, which I recommend to your Lordships, a sociological analysis of the situation, written by Sheila Patterson and called Dark Strangers. I was going to ask the noble Duke a question when he said just now that he believed (he explained quite understandably why he did so) that many people came here because to them, of course, the National Assistance scales represented great wealth. I should like to know from which sociological report he got this information. Or does he perhaps express his own opinion?
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, I am afraid I got it from no sociological report. I got it from many close contacts with Pakistanis during my four years in the Commonwealth Relations Office.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, on a careful analysis, made over a series of years, it was discovered (at least, many people believe this, though I bow to the noble Duke if, perhaps, he has something which he considers as superior in quality to this analysis) that a small minority of migrants do come for that reason, and they are on National Assistance. They comprise mostly single women with young children.
Perhaps I ought to be completely accurate, in that when I say they come for that reason I mean that they may be pregnant when they come here, or they may become pregnant here. According 1037 to the figures contained in this careful report to which I have referred, that is the group which has to rely on National Assistance. And, of course, it is quite understandable. They have nobody to support them they find it difficult to look after their children, and therefore they go to the National Assistance Board. But there is no evidence to support the charge that National Assistance was a major attraction for the majority of migrants. In fact, I would ask the noble Duke, who has devoted four years of his life to the Commonwealth: would he not agree with me that in life, whether it is in Pakistan, in India or here, it is the energetic man and not the lazy layabout who says, "I will change my lot and go to another country and face strangers, different conditions, bad climate and so on"? It is not the lazy man, the man who says, "If I undertake all this, then I may be able to sit back in some cold and miserable slum and take National Assistance."
THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, I think it is fair to say, in reply to the noble Lady, that I would not for a moment quarrel whir her figures. But let us remember that there are something between 150,000 and 200,000 Pakistanis waiting for Class "C" vouchers. As we have been repeatedly told to-day, it is mostly "A" and "B" voucher-holders that we are concerned with. Very few "C" voucher-holders have been admitted. And since he "A" and "B" voucher-holders are those who have a job to come to, they do not, broadly, require National Assistance. I think I may have been technically inaccurate when I said "are here". Perhaps I should have said "who wish to come here", because there are these large numbers of unskilled people who would mostly be in need. That is perhaps the explanation of the difference between my understanding and the noble Lady's researches. But I shot Id like to take this opportunity to say that the last thing I meant was that it was a slur on the Pakistanis. Of course I do not mean that. My reference to the appalling conditions in which, through no fault of their own, large numbers of people in Africa and Asia have to live, and to the fact that National Assistance represents considerable affluence to these people, was no criticism of them but merely a slur on the whole rich Western world.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
Thank you. When the noble Duke comes to read Hansard to-morrow he will see that he did not make those qualifications when he made his speech.
The other point I want to comment upon is this. Although there is a postwar shortage of labour, yet most industries do not employ coloured workers above a quota of between 3 and 10 per cent. This is chiefly because among the workers there is a persistence of old hatreds and fears of all outside labour based, I think, less on prejudice than on private memories of unemployment, undercutting and dilution. I have heard people suggest that after the migrants have been here for some time they return to their own countries. I dissent from that. I think it must be recognised that most of the migrants who are already here will settle permanently, that there will be further additions, and that the initially high birth-rate among the women must he taken into account. I was most impressed by the report of the Medical Officer of Wolverhampton, in which he said that 30 per cent. of the women confined in institutions were migrants.
As has already been said, there is no doubt that employment and housing constitute the two aspects of our social life which tend to cause most ill feeling, and we should be naive if we assumed that unemployment and a shortage of accommodation might not provoke some further incident, like that of Notting Hill. We cannot stick our heads in the sands and establish a large community of coloured people in what was previously, of course, a white town, and say that there might not at some time be trouble. In my opinion, no time should be lost in considering what social action should be taken on a national scale to improve relationships. Of course, the ideal situation is one in which race should not determine rights and privileges, and a coloured skin, like a minority creed, should no longer be associated with strangeness and inferiority. But, unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal society and it is our duty to anticipate race antagonisms.
What is it proposed to do? The Home Secretary proposes to introduce legislation to prevent discrimination against coloured persons in public places. I think we should do our best to ensure that this Act is observed in the spirit as 1039 well as in the letter. I am sorry that the right reverend Prelates representing the Church have gone at this stage. I think we are inclined to underestimate the obsessional nature of prejudice. The most learned can be prone to prejudice as can the most illiterate, and in my opinion no Act of Parliament can offer full protection against discrimination in its broadest sense. I would remind your Lordships that as long ago as 1919 the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act was put on the Statute Book, but there are many women who are still subject to injustice associated with latent prejudice. And although on this occasion we have heard the voice of the Church, and the voice of the Church in the country, on the subject of racial prejudice, I must say quite gently—I was going to say it to the right reverend Prelates had they been here—that prejudice still dominates the thinking of the Church. For, after all, it is the only profession that still keeps its doors closed to women.
My Lords, may I remind the noble Lady that she can at least be a deaconess, which is a very honourable title.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
I know the noble Lord, with his six daughters, listens to these things. I point this out because the Church has on many occasions—I would not have mentioned it if I had not seen the Church well represented here this afternoon—pronounced on this matter, and one cannot help remembering that it is the most prejudiced profession in the country.
Of course, there may he no infringement of an anti-discrimination Act such as the Government are hoping to draft. But we all know that there can he slighting references there may he a disparagement of an individual which can tend to embitter relationships and which can cause trouble in public places. I think that undoubtedly the British who are 1040 native to these islands often reveal an antipathy to strangers. No doubt it is because we are an insular people. This may well be intensified in their relations with coloured people, who suffer from the effect of myths concerning their origin and their customs.
This is what I should like to see done, and I hope that the noble Lord will convey it to the Ministry of Education and Science. Unfortunately, our children are taught from textbooks which entirely fail to present a true and sympathetic picture of the background of the migrants. I do not know what history book noble Lords were brought up on, but my history for the London Matriculation was limited to the Tudors and the Stuarts. I did not know about any other period in history, and certainly I knew nothing about any history apart from the history of this country. If we are going to tackle this problem we must recognise that the children of this country must be taught that the migrants in our midst have a history. I think there should be a complete revision of the school textbooks with a view to presenting these new social trends. I should like to see Margaret Meade's books on anthropology taught.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
I thank the noble Lord for supporting me. Our children should learn the history and geography of the new social trends. I am not now just expressing a pious wish. I believe that it is absolutely vital that this should be done soon if we are going to establish a multiracial society which is a happy society.
Lessons in race and human relations make me think back to my own history lessons. How dry and impossibly dull they were! When I think how colourful lessons can be made and how interesting they can be, I think they could probably he the most interesting periods in the school curriculum. As we all know, the teachers themselves are often in need of instruction because prejudice is not unknown among them. This is rather tragic. and it is not unknown among teachers in those areas where we need more enlightened people. Of course, the work of educating the next generation can be destroyed if the child returns to a home where the old antipathies prevail.
1041 Therefore, we have to face up to the fact that we must educate the adult population. This should take place on television. Surely, television time could be devoted to a little instruction on this matter. Then there are the Press, the trade unions and all those societies and organisations which are interested in this. Unfortunately, clashes which involve some racial element make news, friendly exchanges do not. It is like chastity: there is no place for chastity in the columns of our newspapers, but plenty of place for divorce. Nevertheless, I believe that there are many people associated with the mass media of propaganda who are dedicated to improving race relations. I believe that the Government should approach the television authorities in this matter, the Press and all these various organs. To-day I have simply sought to focus attention on a nationwide effort to promote harmony in our multiracial society in order that the Act which we are asked to continue may operate to the benefit of the whole of humanity.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, we are dealing to-day with a topic that is both extremely important and, I think, extremely difficult and controversial. May I, at the outset of my remarks, join those who have congratulated the noble Lord, Lord Royle, on his maiden speech? Some of us on both sides of the House were his friends in another place and we very much welcome his first speech in this assembly.
My Lords, I have no idea whether I suffer from racial prejudice. I do not know how one finds out. It is rather like impartiality. I always remember the famous remark of my friend the late Lord Hewart, the Lord Chief Justice, when he said:The only impartiality possible to the human mind is that which arises from understanding neither side of the case.Nevertheless, my Lords, I do not think that I suffer from racial prejudice; but I find it far more difficult to be as dogmatic on this subject as so many, both here and in another Place, find it possible to be. Fortunately, the debate in another place the other day—I am thinking particularly of the speeches of the right honourable and learned gentleman the Home Secretary, and my right honourable friend Sir Edward Boyle—and the 1042 speeches that have been made in this House this afternoon make me hope that there may be a large measure of agreement on some aspects.
May I deal at the outset with something which I am glad to say has not appeared in this House this afternoon, but of which examples can be found in the debate in another place and of which examples teem in the Press, both in leading articles and in contributions to their correspondence columns? It is the contention that seems to me to be absurd, that it is wrong for electors to be greatly concerned about this topic and it is wrong for it to influence the way in which they vote. Democracy no doubt has many faults, but, thank heavens, no one can yet dictate to the people what should concern them and what should not, and the criteria on which they should judge the persons or policies submitted for their choice. The people can determine these matters for themselves. I had some twenty years in the House of Commons and have been about the country a little since then, and my own experience is that the people of this country from time to time reach conclusions with which I disagree; but they are at least as wise as their dogmatic critics, and this applies particularly to those dogmatic critics who take what is known as "a high moral line".
My Lords, I see nothing wrong whatsoever in this question of immigration being a matter in which the electors take a very great interest. It will no doubt be said that it would be better if the issues raised were not issues between the Parties. But, my Lords, that must surely depend on what is the attitude of the Parties. I have often thought it would be a good thing if there were no Party issues on Defence. Many of us, on both sides of the House, no doubt think that. Yet we know that there must be Party issues on Defence, because the Parties take opposing lines on important points connected with it.
What about this question of immigration? As we know, and as the electors know, the Conservative Party introduced the measure which it is to-day proposed we should continue. They introduced that measure and believe in it. The electors also knew that it was strenuously fought by the Party opposite; that it was denounced on Second Reading by the then Leader of the Party 1043 opposite, whose early death we all deplore, as, "this miserable, shameful, shabby Bill". Well, my Lords, if those are the known opposing attitudes of the two Parties on the Bill, how can it conceivably be either possible for the electors, or their duty, not to be divided on Party lines if they think the control of immigration under this Bill to be very important indeed?
§ LORD HENDERSON
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? I agree with a great deal of what he is saying, but would he agree that in the discussion of the two different points of view on any issue a slogan like, "If you want a nigger for your neighbour, vote Labour" does not help either side to come to a proper conclusion?
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, I hope the noble Lord knows me well enough to know that I do not consciously or willingly evade any issue. I was not going to come very near to that, because I am frankly ignorant of what took place in the particular constituency and I do not like speaking of matters of which I have no knowledge, but I will approach the topic about which he has questioned me.
I have given the reasons why I think at the last Election there was necessarily an issue, and a Party issue, in many constituencies on this subject. But as I say, the speech of the Home Secretary in another place the other day, the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, this afternoon, and other speeches that have been made, all make it possible that there will be a greater measure of agreement on this topic at a future Election. It is possible. For reasons I will later give, I do not regard it as at all certain, because it is perfectly possible that a really bona fide, honest difference of opinion should persist on what is the right policy, and particularly the right numbers of the immigrants.
I now come to the point that the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, mentioned. I have said that these matters must inevitably be discussed and must be a matter of controversy. I expect that he and I are in agreement in thinking that we would very much rather they were discussed with light rather than 1044 with heat. But I would rather myself even risk the heat, in preference to the alternative policy of sweeping the whole thing under the carpet and pretending that these great issues of policy did not exist. Having said that, I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, thinks the particular remark he quoted is the sort of thing in which I or my friends indulge, but I fought enough elections to know that some pretty rough things are said on both sides. That does not necessarily mean that the electors are very crude or very dishonest, and I have managed, I am glad to say, to preserve great respect for the electors, both of my own Party and my opponents.
But now I come to this strange fact. I quoted what was said on Second Reading of the original measure, "this miserable, shameful, shabby Bill", but now we get the present Home Secretary saying quite categorically that effective control is "indispensable." That was his word, and I think the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said the same thing—and quite rightly—this afternoon. Nevertheless there persists this extraordinary idea, it seems to me, that this measure is somehow very illiberal, or is a denial of human freedom. I do not like quoting the rules of logic, but I wonder what is what we used to call the major premise on which this view is based. Does anybody really think that everybody is entitled to enter and settle in any country, whatever the Government and people of that country think about it? I do not suppose there is any noble Lord in this House who takes that view. My Lords, I say that such a view would not be tenable even if there were many countries which accepted it: but the view becomes preposterously absurd when no other country accepts that view and the only country invited to practise the principle is one of the most overcrowded countries in the world.
My Lords, I cannot help being puzzled sometimes when contrasting what members of the Party opposite say, on different occasions, about population and overcrowding. When they are dealing with such topics as the South East Study—I am thinking of a debate in which there was some agreement between myself and Members of the Party opposite—they seem to have a very different attitude to population and immigration, even into a 1045 part of our own country by our own people, from that which they show when they appear to plead for an increase in immigration by foreigners.
My Lords, if control is to be exercised—and I think we in this House, at any rate, are unanimously of the opinion that control must be exercised—what principles ought to be applied? On the first principle, I am glad to say that I think there is complete unanimity between both sides, both of this House and of another place. We are all agreed that it is absolutely essential to have fair, humane and equal treatment for all who are accepted as residents here. There must be no such thing a; first and second class citizens. On that, I think, there is no difference whatsoever among the Parties. But on the second principle, I think, there is no such great agreement. My second principle is that the numbers that we allow to come into this country must be determined by us in accordance with our conception of the public interest. It is not a task that we either can or are entitled to throw off on to any other Power whatsoever.
My Lords, I desire, as I think every friend of the Commonwealth desires, frequent consultation and the most friendly relations between different members of the Commonwealth, but I do not think it at all fair to ask them to impose a control to carry put our conception of the public interest. I think it is wholly unfair to ask them to do that. I do not think it is possible nor do I think it is a case where there will be any reciprocity whatsoever. The other members of the Commonwealth will not consult us before they determine whether they will allow an Englishman to settle in their country or not. Indeed, I am told that there are some Commonwealth countries that you cannot enter unless you show a return ticket. I do not like that aspect of the policy of Her Majesty's Government which appears to show that they are thinking of what I should regard as shuffling off our own responsibilities. I hope I am wrong. I hope I have misunderstood them; but I have never thought it desirable that we should say that we should not, cannot or will not operate this control, or that we should try to get agreement with other Commonwealth countries for them to operate it at their end. I do not think that is right.
§ LORD STONHAM
We have not said that. We are not seeking to abrogate our responsibilities, but to discuss with Commonwealth countries better ways of arranging for immigrants from the Commonwealth.
§ LORD CONESFORD
So long as it is quite clear that they are not contemplating in any circumstances relaxing their controls, I am glad. I am going to give some reasons why, in my view, they ought to increase their controls and make them even more exclusive than they are. Here, I do not pretend to know whether I am speaking for anybody but myself.
My Lords, what are the principles? I have said that we must operate this control ourselves in accordance with our conception of the public interest. What are the considerations which we ought to take into account? It is perfectly true, as has been pointed out by noble Lords on both sides, that these immigrants perform (and perform, I think, attractively and charmingly) great services in this country, and some services that are certainly badly needed. I am thinking of their services to medicine; I am thinking of their really splendid services as nurses; and there has also been mention of their services in transport. In answer to the noble Lady whose speech immediately preceded mine, and to whom I listened with the greatest interest, I think she had a most interesting point when she described what might be a possible Commonwealth attitude to our receiving these very useful citizens. But I think I am right in saying that, in the case of nursing, at any rate, although they do perform, and perform most excellently, services in our hospitals, they also learn the art of nursing, and I think that many of them thereafter go back to their own countries. I think I am right in that: and that, perhaps, ought to be borne in mind.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
I do not want to be cynical, but I have an idea that many go back because they are better paid in the Commonwealth than they are here.
§ LORD CONESFORD
Good luck to them! That seems slightly to negative 1047 the frightful conditions we have left in the Commonwealth. But, although I admit, of course, frankly, the great services they perform for our economy, I stress this definite view: that economic values must not be sought at the expense of all other social considerations, the most important of which are housing, education and public order, all of which can be threatened if the numbers of immigrants are too great.
Now, my Lords, the idea of limiting immigration, which, on the facts of the case, will apply mostly to coloured immigrants (because from no white country are great masses wishing to enter this country), is sometimes thought to be wholly illiberal and wrong. I confess that I have never taken that view and I do not take it now; but I should like to quote one paragraph from a great liberal who will not be suspected of any of those reactionary sentiments that I know noble Lords opposite probably associate with me. I want to quote from Don Salvador de Madariaga, from the last paragraph of his letter to The Times the other day. He uses the term, "transplantations" to mean transplantations of people of one colour into the natural habitat of people of another. This is the paragraph that I wish to read:New transplantations had better be avoided, for surely we prefer the varied landscape of our day to the dull grey of a monochrome humanity uniformly spread over the planet. Therefore, there is nothing illiberal in either any European country taking measures to keep itself white or any African country taking measures to keep itself black. Indeed, the right of any nation, provided it is free and knows what it is doing to regulate its demographic composition should be considered as sacred by any liberal-minded man.I have quoted that paragraph from a famous liberal thinker. It may be noted that he uses actually the expression any European country taking measures to "Keep white white". I mention that phrase because noble Lords may have noticed that one of the things for which I think some neo-fascists have been denounced here is for saying "Keep Britain white". I mention that, not of course to justify any of these parties or the things they advocate, but to show that that particular idea is not necessarily a disgraceful or improper idea. The noble Lord who made such an admirable maiden speech a little earlier thought that, if we could really manage it properly, by obtaining 1048 a greater flow of immigration we should be performing something valuable for the peace of the world. I wish I shared his view; but I do not. I fear, although I do not for one moment doubt the honesty of his intentions, that a continued flow of immigration even at the present level will do harm to nearly all those causes of progress which we have in mind.
My Lords, I do not wish to deal with so many of those questions that have been mentioned, like assimilation, integration and multiracial society and the rest, because, frankly, I do not know what all these phrases mean, and I think they need more examination than I can now give to them in the short time at my disposal. But the numbers foreshadowed by the Home Secretary and by the noble Lord this afternoon, as coming in, if we let things go as they are going at present, I believe to be more than is desirable for any of the interests that we are rightly considering: our own, the immigrants' or the world's.
My Lords, I would repeat a very wise thing said by my right honourable friend Sir Edward Boyle, in winding up the debate the other day for the Opposition in another place. He said, "We must be careful not to confuse racialism with realism." I agree with that sentiment. I have said that I do not think I suffer from racial prejudice but I cannot be certain, because I do not know how anybody finds out whether he suffers from prejudice. What I do know is that I have endeavoured to give the House the truth as I see it. I sometimes think that the voters of this country on this issue are more far-sighted than any of the political Parties.
§ 6.7 p.m.
§ LORD ELTON
My Lords, I should like to begin by offering my congratulations to the noble Lord who introduced this Bill, on his accession to office. It fell to my lot to speak immediately after the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, in the debate in which he made his maiden speech. I made certain prognostications then and it is pleasant to see them so rapidly and deservedly justified. I am sure he will realise that the strictures I propose to make are directed not to him, nor, indeed, primarily, to his Government, but rather to the situation he has inherited.
1049 I should also like to say as a preliminary that I would echo and share almost everything that has been said in praise of the virtues and the attractiveness of the West Indians—very little has been said about the Pakistanis and Indians—and as to the services which they and other immigrants from the new Commonwealth are undoubtedly rendering to his country. And if I do not discourse on that theme at the same length as other noble Loris it is in the hope of sparing your Lordships' time; and although I shall deal mainly with the darker side of the picture—and I think it is right that the darker side should be presented, and teat it should not be all a matter of mutual congratulation—it is not because I am unaware there is a brighter side.
Eight years ago I moved a Motion in your Lordships' House to draw attention to the problems connected with migration. It was, I think, the first occasion on which your Lordships had debated this subject, and I explained that my object in moving the Motion was to enable the Government of the day to make a considered statement on what was still only a complex problem and had not yet begun to assume the dimensions of a crisis. The Government spokes-man replied, I well remember, with characteristic Governmental caution and in characteristic Governmental phraseology:It is necessary to contemplate the possibility that it may he necessary to think in terms of some measure of control in the interests alike"—as he added very rightly—of the immigrants themselves and the inhabitants of these islands.That was in 1956 when the intake of immigrants from India, Pakistan and the West Indies was 37,000. We constantly get slightly different figures given us in articles and speeches. That is, I think, because different countries are dealt with; I am now dealing with the three countries which are the main contributors to our intake; India, Pakistan and the West Indies.
By 1961 that figure, for my three countries, had risen to 115,000 in the year. In the following year came the Act, which was deplored and opposed by the noble Lords who are now very prudently asking us to renew it. In 1050 this voile face, as the noble Duke called it, and it is indeed a most abrupt voile face, they are undoubtedly reflecting the views not only of their own supporters but of the country as a whole; for towards the end of last summer a Gallup poll reported not only that a majority of the supporters of all Parties were in favour of tighter controls than those in force at present but that the small minority which was in favour of total prohibition came more numerously from the Labour Party than from the Conservatives.
The Home Secretary has told another place that he estimates or conjectures—I am not quite sure which procedure it has to be for a figure of this sort, but, however it is arrived at, we are to assume that about 800,000 immigrants from the new Commonwealth are at present resident in this country; the Economist Intelligence Unit reckons that by the year 2002 (which sounds a long way off but is not so distant as it sounds; some noble Lords present may even live to see it) there will probably be 3½, million. I think myself that that estimate is probably on the conservative side.
Since in common, I think, with the majority of the electorate, as evidenced by that Gallup poll to which I have referred, I take the view that we have swallowed more than we can at present digest, and that we are laying up for ourselves, and still more for our children and grand-children, problems political, economic, social and cultural which there is no evidence as yet that we can solve, and that therefore the brakes should be put on more firmly than they are at present—since I take this view, I should explain that it is numbers rather than colour that cause me and so many more grave and increasing anxiety. My own personal experience, and I am sure that many of your Lordships have shared it, when I see an isolated West Indian or Indian is that my instinct is to go up to him and say that I am glad to see him and that I hope he is prospering in his new country. And when we have had black friends from the West Indies staying in our home, and have taken them round our village, they have been received everywhere with open arms. In fact, if there was any colour prejudice about, it was all too evident that it was prejudice in their favour.
1051 But it would have been a very different story if two hundred of them had taken over a section of the village. The sudden incursion of a large number of strangers with unfamiliar standards and unfamiliar habits, possibly the habit of dancing and singing all through the small hours, is bound to cause shock and resentment. Why, if fifty right reverend Prelates descended on our village and kept their neighbours awake in the small hours by admonishing each other with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, as recommended by St. Paul, there would probably be a riot. And Bishops are easier to integrate than West Indians; and very much easier than Indians and Pakistanis.
The most praiseworthy efforts to promote integration are going on all over the country. The noble Baroness on the Cross Benches is a distinguished example, prominent in that admirable work. Much that one reads and hears said about integration appears to assume that if only these efforts are multiplied and intensified, sooner or later they are bound to succeed. I fear very much that we should be unwise to base our calculations on success within the foreseeable future. Consider for a moment the United States. As your Lordships are well aware, there has never been legal segregation in the North; yet everywhere and inevitably, if regrettably, wherever the blacks move in the whites move out. To take only one, and the most flagrant, of many, very many, examples: the centre of Harlem is 99.5 per cent. black. Even in the District of Colombia itself, under the shadow of the White House and all the rest, 88 per cent. of the children in elementary schools are black—because the whites have been moving out into the suburban districts.
And now the same ugly phenomenon is steadily and increasingly taking shape in Hackney, in Leytonstone, Southall and a score of other British towns. Comparatively few Pakistanis or Indians even desire integration. They have their own ancient customs and religions; and as for the Indians, they have been brought up in the most rigid structure of social segregation known to man, the caste system. There are Indians in England to-day who have been resident here for twenty years 1052 and can still not speak a dozen words of English.
This sad spectacle of the whites moving out as the coloureds move in, which stultifies and contradicts all our efforts at integration, is accelerated by the fact that in so many towns nowadays the coloured can offer a higher price for a house than the native would-be competitor for purchase. In Leytonstone at the moment a would-be coloured purchaser can offer at least £300 more for a £3,400 house than a native competitor, the reason being of course that he can then pack it with so many tenants that he will draw £20 a week in rent. Your Lordships may have seen a description a little while ago in the Sunday Times of a house in North Hammersmith. That house contained eight rooms and it was inhabited by nine families, one of which consisted of seven members. These houses of course are decrepit and insanitary, condemned or ripe to be condemned. In an article in the Sunday Times on Smethwick there was a detailed description of one such house which ended with,It is a little bit of a Karachi slum, unadulterated in its impurity.Such conditions are fair neither to the immigrants nor to their hosts. They are making nonsense of our sanitary regulations. They are making nonsense of slum clearance. They are making nonsense of the Welfare State itself. They are taking us rapidly back to the days of Charles Dickens. Is it surprising that the Labour deputy mayor of Deptford has exclaimed in relation to immigration, "Is it progressive to let the workers of Deptford be dragged back to the conditions we have only just managed to struggle out of?"? And there is many a mayor and deputy mayor, both Labour and Conservative, who will soon be likely to be echoing that cry.
What can the local authorities do? They have not the staff to inspect these places, particularly at night when they are fullest; and if they issue a closure order they will only have to re-house the occupants on some council estate, ahead of native citizens who may have been waiting their turn for several years. It is the unavoidable tolerance by the public authorities of these wholly new and atrocious slum conditions which masks from the public the basic truth that we have at present taken in more than we can absorb; the basic fact that 1053 we simply have not room to house these people decently.
As I said at the beginning, one is always being driven back to the crux of numbers. Numbers, my Lords! Of course, colour, customs, standards and religion all contribute, and contribute greatly, to the problem; but they are all aspects of which would be manageable if it were not for the numbers. So many in such a short time! That is the tragedy. In Birmingham, for example, the resident population of immigrants from the new Commonwealth has risen from 4,000 to 80,000 within a decade—and that in addition to 70,000 newcomers from the Republic of Southern Ireland. So there you have an addition of 150,000 newcomers in ten years, on top of an original local shortage of 40,000 houses.
If the 800,000 immigrants, which is the estimate of the Home Secretary, represent, as I believe they do, an intake too large and too rapid for us to absorb, what are we to expect in the years immediately ahead of us? Well, my Lords, the right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary told another place that the present Government intend to continue issuing vouchers on the scale which they inherited from their predecessors, and I a ink I am right in saying that he gave it as 1,600 to 2,000 per month—although I think this differs slightly from what the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said. That might tempt a simple citizen to suppose, at first sight, that it meant that the maximum intake for the year would be 24,000. But, of course, it does not mean anything of the kind, or anything remotely like it. I will not go into t le elaborate figures that I have prepared, because so much has been said about figures already, but I think we should always bear in mind, when we hear a Government say that they propose to admit such and such a quota, that the matter is largely out of their control. And it is out of their control, first, because of the dependants. After all, the Government cannot decide how many children, or, indeed, how many wives, some of the immigrants are to have. And so, between the passing of the Act and the end of September of this year, whereas 46,000 immigrants were admitted as voucher-holders, 61,000 were admitted as dependants.
1054 Then, of course, there is the much more incalculable and faintly sinister factor of the extent, whatever it may be, of evasion. If your Lordships take the figures from the passing of the Act to the end of last September, the total of voucher-holders and dependants—that is, those admitted legally and officially under the Act—was 107,000; but the net number of immigrants who arrived here was 138,000. This mysterious over-plus of 31,000, owing to lack of the necessary statistics cannot be entirely explained. But the right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary in another place evidently though it was mainly attributable to students and visitors. Well, my Lords, if that is so, it looks a little odd that the size of this over-plus should have increased so startlingly from 1963 to 1964. In the first nine months of 1963 the excess of the actual net arrivals who landed here over the official voucher-holders and voucher-holders' dependants was 16,000. The excess in the first nine months of this year was 29,000. So far as I know, there has been no explanation of why students or visitors from the new Commonwealth should have arrived in such startlingly larger numbers in 1964 as compared with 1963.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, will the noble Lord allow me to interrupt? If last year the end-of-September figure had been taken of the discrepancy it would have been much larger than it in fact was in December, at the end of the year. It is expected that the same reduction will take place this year.
§ LORD ELTON
Of course, that is a matter of speculation. The fact remains that over the period which was measured by the Home Secretary there was this startling increase, which I should have thought cannot be accounted for by any movement of students and visitors from the new Commonwealth. Your Lordships may have seen the day before yesterday, in one of the Sunday newspapers, a detailed account of a racket by which illegal immigrants are imported from Pakistan by way of Southern Ireland. There have been over the last two or three years a number of similar descriptions of black markets in vouchers and rackets of various kinds. So it looks as if there may be a considerable degree of evasion, which we 1055 can only hone we shall be able to measure and check. I would add that a speaker in another place actually estimated that by the end of this year we shall find that the total of immigrants amounts to nearly 100,000. I think that must be an over-estimate, but I am not at all confident that it will be so terribly wide of the mark.
We have not really begun, in my view, to assimilate our immigrants. Tens of thousands of them are living under atrocious slum conditions, and intractable problems are being created. Is this fair either to the immigrants or to our own native citizens? The population of England and Wales (and I was glad to hear my old friend Lord Conesford deal with this question of population) is 790 to the square mile, whereas Australia, which is taking no immigrants of this kind, has a population of 3 to the square mile, and Canada 5 to the square mile. It is reckoned that in less than 40 years the population of this island will he no less than 72 million. Is it wise to add to the mounting problems which spring from over-population—problems of transport, housing and the rest—at this rate and in this way?
And what of the balance of payments, of which we have been acutely reminded in recent weeks? When Western Germany, for example, needs additional labour, what it does, I understand, is to import temporary workers from Italy and Spain, men who come and go. It surely must be a strain on our monetary structure if, when we want a job done, we have to bring in a man for life, who may bring four or five children and a wife with him. Has not the time come when we must say that we have done our best to keep the door wide open; that we shall go on doing our best for those who have come here; but that henceforth, in the interests of all concerned, we shall have to say goodbye to Category "C" (which is at the moment closed down), and take in only Category "A" and Category "B"—that is, those with jobs promised to them, and those with special skills—and scale down even these categories until we show more signs of absorbing what we have, and until there is more evidence—for I etirely agree with much that the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, said—that 1056 their countries at home do not need them there.
I see no objection whatever on religious or moral grounds to tightening the partial controls which we have already imposed. True, these men and women are my brothers and my sisters; and, indeed, many of them, particularly of the West Indians, are Christians from whom we have very much to learn and whose presence here can be of inestimable value to us. But all these considerations are equally true, not a whit the less, of the aliens—the French, the Dutch, the Norwegians—whom we have been excluding for the last fifty years without any religious or moral scruples whatever. True, these are our fellow citizens of the Commonwealth, and we may therefore feel political scruples about tightening the existing controls.
But surely the doctrine, if it be a doctrine, of the indefeasible right of all the 600 million of the new Commonwealth to take up permanent residence in this country is a mere historical accident. In the eighteenth and the early nineteenth centuries, when British citizens were peopling the waste spaces of Australia and Canada, it was evidently proper that an adventurer who had chanced his arm out there and had failed to take prosperous roots should return without let or hindrance to his native country. The tacit assumption that this right has devolved upon every citizen of Pakistan or Nigeria. though wholly irrational, was of comparatively little significance until the postwar transport revolution; but that has changed the world, and our policy should change with it. Should we not revise it so that the conditions of entry which we impose on other Commonwealth countries may approximate more closely to those which other Commonwealth countries impose on us?
§ 6.32 p.m.
My Lords, I think there has been a most remarkable change of thought between the presentation of the original Commonwealth Immigrants Bill in 1962 and to-day. At the time of the original Bill I was one of the few who welcomed it, but I think I was in a pretty small minority. Everybody talked about regrettable possible necessities, and rather queried the necessity part of it. But to-day I think it is quite clear, from the debate in your Lordships' House, that 1057 the sentiment is entirely different; everybody realises that this Bill is absolutely vital to our future, and I should like to say how much I agreed with my noble friend Lord Conesford in what he said.
At the time of the original Bill, I was very apprehensive indeed about the situation should we not have the Bill. I was not worried about the West Indies because they have a very small population. They speak English; they are Christians—in fact, better Christians than most of us—and, barring being noisy, they have few habits which annoy us. My apprehensions were based on the idea of having an unlimited open house, an unlimited free house, to one-third of the world's population, as represented by the Asiatic countries of the Commonwealth.
Moreover, having lived for a number of years in what was then British India, I knew that no one is quicker than the Oriental businessman to see chances of a profit. It seemed to me that there were some obvious prospects of commercial exploitation of immigration. In fact, a lucrative racket was in sight for merciless Oriental capitalists to exploit. I expressed the fear that the in migrants would be exploited; that the landlord of slum property would arrange for their arrival in order to fill up his house, to charge a huge rent; that he would pay no taxes because for hundreds of years he and his ancestors have never paid taxes; that his money would snowball so that he would buy one house after another on this system until whole neighbourhoods were grossly over-populated and turned into slums. Moreover, it would be overpopulation by our standards, but not over-population by tie standards of the people we are talking about, because anybody who has worked in the Oriental quarters of cities knows that the overcrowding and sanitation are not akin to 1964 Britain, but nearer to London before the Fire of London. I feared that their normal life in some ways would cause offence to their Western neighbours, and that this would create hostility which would be called or assumed to he a colour problem, when in reality it was a problem created by difference of up-bringing, habits, and so on.
My fears have not proved groundless. Many illustrations turn up in the newspapers at frequent intervals. This one, if I may be permitted to outline it to 1058 your Lordships, was a case of two Pakistanis who were up before the magistrates in Bradford on November 4. One was charged with bringing in as his own a wife and two children who were not his own; and the other one—which is a more interesting case—was a young man of nineteen who was charged with coming in as a boy of fourteen; that is, free of restriction through a false age. The boy, Ali, his defence counsel said, had been a pawn of an unscrupulous operator. He was a student in Pakistan and his father was approached by a man who invited him to let Ali emigrate to Britain. The man, who was probably one of those deeply involved in the traffic in false passports, arranged for the passport application to he made. Ali did not know that his age had been wrongly stated until he received the passport, and then he was Persuaded it was of minor importance. While in Britain Ali had worked regularly earning £14 a week, but the man who met him in this country allowed him only 6s. a week in addition to his accommodation and food. That is the modern slave trade.
One does not know how many victims the landlord had, but perhaps it was twenty in a house. If he made a clear £10 apiece out of these twenty for even six months, he would be getting something like £5,000 a year out of one house and I think the Inland Revenue are much too young and innocent to be able to charge people of this kind with tax.
What do we get out of it? We get a supply of labour to fill our more unpopular jobs, which means that we are postponing rationalisation and automation which we ought to be doing. On the other side of the card, we have declining standards of housing and sanitation. The noble Lord, Lord Elton, spoke about the days of Dickens, but I should have said that some of the evils were akin to two hundred rather than one hundred years ago. People from a semi-tropical climate are coming here. They are a bad risk for tuberculosis; they may bring with them the seeds of tropical diseases which can he passed on in various ways, and so we may find ourselves faced with the problems of diseases which we thought had never existed in this country.
We face tremendous educational difficulties because, although the adult may 1059 possibly speak English and may in some cases even be able to write English, it is almost certain that the wife and family if and when they follow will be completely ignorant of English, and probably illiterate. We have to teach those children English somehow or other in order to place them in our educational stream. We are possibly laying up the seeds of future racial difficulties which have occurred in all those countries of the world where large Asiatic populations have sprung up, originally from indentured labour, and so on, in places like Mauritius, Natal. Fiji, East Africa, British Guiana, and so on. The answer is that the Indians and Pakistanis have never assimilated themselves anywhere in the world to any other race.
The whole problem leaves a great dilemma: either we have unlimited immigration which, so long as National Assistance exists in this country, means that the influx is only limited by transport possibilities, or we limit it in some way with the result that the limited amount of opportunities for places to come into this country is subject to all kinds of devices on the other side in the shape of bribery and forgery, things we do not like in this country. This Bill, I thought in 1962, was a vital necessity, and to-day I believe that the vast majority of the people of this country would be extremely unhappy if it was not continued and not administered fairly closely.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ BARONESS SWANBOROUGH
My Lords, I feel very diffident at standing up, because my contribution to your Lordships' debate must be at the humdrum and domestic level. My experience is on the ground, at the county borough level, working with local authorities; and, unlike noble Lords who have spoken before me, I have experience of immigrants working at that level as welfare officers, clerks, and a number of immigrants who have been taken into local authority work in order to ease the problem of communicating with immigrants coming into the country.
For just over two years I have had the honour of chairing the Commonwealth Immigrants Advisory Council, which was set up by the Home Secretary of the day, and this Council represents 1060 a much broader variety of views than these Councils usually do. The members comprise both elected members and officials of local authorities, members of industries and trade unions, as well as a member of one of the Commonwealth countries that sends a great number of immigrants to this country, representatives of voluntary societies and so on. We have worked very hard during the time we have been in existence, and have had submitted to us a tremendous amount of evidence. And we have sent reports on three occasions to the Home Secretary which, I must admit, to our great astonishment have been published as White Papers.
We have taken a tremendous amount of technical evidence on the different problems which we thought it was important for us to have if we were to be able to suggest anything to the country which would he of value in absorbing the entrants into the life of the country. As a result of this evidence we have all been tremendously impressed by the efforts that have been made at local level to absorb the people that are coming in, and to deal with the problems which, though obviously various and complicated, are not, to my mind, insoluble.
The problem, my Lords, is one that we have all met before. It is that of entrants of a different culture, speaking a different language, even if it is only in pronunciation, and having different climatic habits, who have to be absorbed into a community. I do not believe that the British people who are going to absorb them have ever even thought of first and second-class citizens. I am not quite so pessimistic as most of the speakers to-day have been. I acknowledge the very great difficulties but I do not think for one moment that great contributions cannot be made to overcoming those difficulties. I do not for a single moment minimise the difficulties, but I do believe—and this has not been mentioned—that this is really, if one can look at it with a very broad view, entirely a localised problem, as problems exist. I do not agree with those who decry the work being done in that it is not sufficient. I believe that what local government is doing at the operational level, to absorb into the life of the community persons coming into the country, is quite staggering when one gets to know of it. At the 1061 same time, I believe that one local authority does not know what the other is doing, and that it is necessary to communicate and find ways of passing on ideas and possibilities from one authority to another.
As I see it, the immigrants of to-day are divided into two kinds of people, coming in under two different sorts of permit: a labour permit and an educational permit. A vast number of those who come in on labour permits either come to stay or decide to stay after a period of time. I was very interested a couple of weeks ago to discover that in a locality where a great number of Pakistanis had come to work, although everybody expected them to go home pretty soon they had found conditions sufficiently good for them to indicate that they would like to make their homes here. If this is true, and if they are to be assimilated into the country (and we need them as workers), a great deal of work has to be done by everybody. This is a question of men and women who have moved into this country, first of all, because of the benefits they get from living here and, secondly, because they think it will make a better life for their children.
I feel that the problem is one of immigrants and no: one of coloured people. Nobody has mentioned the immigrants from Cyprus and others who do not speak the language that we expect them to speak, and who do not, in fact, present less trouble in the way of assimilation than the coloured people themselves. We need all these workers. If we did not, they would not be coming, and I think it behoves us to find out, for ourselves, what we can do to show them the part they can play and to show the community itself what it can do to make the entrants part of the whole community.
The biggest problem, obviously—this has been stated met and over again; and it is at the base of every single trouble—is the problem of housing. Next to that comes education, and then employment. As with so many other situations, housing at the base of most of the difficulties that have occurred, and it has every sort and kind of ramification. Multi-occupation is a vast problem, and I was glad to hear the courageous way in which the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, tackled a side of this problem of which all of us are well 1062 aware and about which we are worried. In its related problems housing goes a very long way, and I was delighted to hear the right reverend Prelate put forward the suggestion that the Churches will really do a practical job of housing of immigrants. If this could go through quickly, well and with great efficiency, this would make the biggest contribution I can think of to the housing of immigrants coming into the country.
The Advisory Council with which I work has made a series of recommendations regarding practical measures, and especially in respect of housing of immigrants, and has urged very strongly that not only should those measures be put into operation as soon as possible, but alongside such measures local authorities and others, who are ultimately responsible, should encourage everyone concerned to use tolerance in every way possible to each other.
I was delighted to hear the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, mention Margaret Meade's book. This is a book well worth reading because of the anthropological study she has made of the American himself, and from it I think we may learn many lessons If we are going to examine the questions that are difficult, next to housing comes the difficulty of language. Pronunciation, intonation and emphasis make some immigrants difficult to understand and almost impossible to converse with on the telephone. This is one of the difficulties which should be tackled speedily, because communications today are so vital, not only in education but also in any sort of employment. We feel that school-teachers require just the sort of help that has been suggested in the way of knowing more about the background of the immigrants themselves. We feel that the employment of school-leavers is also a point which has to be kept in mind, because there are so many different ways in which a particular boy or girl can be helped. But we are convinced that for both youth employment officers and teachers solutions will be much more difficult until they know more about these youngsters: about their country of origin, their culture, the foundations of their habits, and all the other things which are dependent on climatic conditions.
1063 In this direction we should like very much to see a great deal more done in the way of week-end courses for teachers, language laboratories and, in addition, an opportunity for residential schools which would give people who are in authority the background that they require about the people they are trying to deal with. I realise that in the past (and I, like other noble Lords, am a descendant of an entrant: my forbears were all Huguenots, and I am quite sure it was really difficult for them when they first came to the country), the only way they were absorbed was through an effort on behalf of the entire community, and I do not think we are going to achieve this by talking centrally. I believe that what is needed is support at the local government level to undertake, carry through and then pass on the suggestions that have been found useful: this is one of the most important of all recommendations. Today the aim of absorption is entirely, or almost entirely, in the hands of local authorities. They, in their turn, invoke local endeavour in a variety of ways, whether it be voluntary service, school teachers, youth employment officers or whatever it may be. I should like to pay a very real tribute to the support being given at local level, and especially to members of local authority committees who have encouraged so much special work in this direction. But I think that unless more support comes from the centre and unless experiments that are successful are taken up quickly somewhere else, endeavour will fail, enthusiasm will flag and we may have situations in which people no longer want to help.
This country is not an anti-colour country. But it is very well bedded in its habits and in its outlook. It thinks it is right to have roast beef on Sunday. It thinks it wrong to have too strong a smell of curry prevalent in the house, and it is in this sort of thing that the difficulty starts. It is usually thought that a woman is at the base of the trouble. It may be lucky that in many of these cases women are kept under very tight control, but in the long run, unless the mothers of the children learn English, the children themselves, as has -been shown by Margaret Meade, will start looking down on their mothers, which 1064 would be a bad thing, and we should reach quite different difficulties but, nevertheless, very severe ones.
So, my Lords, at the very low level at which I work, I would beg Her Majesty's Government to back those things that will help the teachers, youth employment officers and the local authorities, so that they can do their work amongst the many people within their local bailiwick and in that way begin to solve a difficulty which obviously is a very severe one.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ LORD MILVERTON
My Lords, after so many remarkable speeches, and speaking at this late hour, one must necessarily be brief. But there are one or two points which I would underline. To begin with, I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, on the way in which he introduced the Second Reading of this Bill. I thought, I believe rightly, that he was endeavouring to make a non-political approach to the whole subject, and that is the sort of approach that I feel is very important because this subject is itself of such vital importance. I should like to say, let bygones be bygones, and deal with it now with the impartiality which it deserves. The worst thing that could possibly happen to this problem is that it should become a bone of contention in the arena of Party politics. If ever there was a question on which there ought to be a bi-partisan approach it surely is this one. It is a matter for statesmen and not politicians or sentimentalists, and in my opinion one should approach it stripped of all emotion and endeavour to do, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, also said, what one considers to be right.
I do not regard this as a racial problem at all. To my mind, fundamentally race and colour do not enter into it. But as the noble Lord, Lord Elton, stressed, it is very largely a matter of numbers. But as a majority of immigrants happen at the time to be coloured it is likely if mishandled to become, or to acquire the appearance of, a racial and/or colour question. I should like also entirely to endorse what has been said in praise of the services rendered by immigrants in various activities in this country, but again I think that is irrelevant to the point I am trying to make, which is that 1065 this is a very great world problem which we are facing in this country. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, that one would like to have fairness and justice to all in this country. It has been one of our aims throughout history. But if this question is not regulated strictly and severely, conditions will arise which will preclude the possibility of fairness and justice.
I think the long-term solution, if there is a satisfactory one, is clearly that which was mentioned by the noble Duke at the beginning of this debate—namely, that one should endeavour to give such assistance, on an increasing scale, if possible, to these countries from which the immigrants are coming at present, which would in the future make their own countries sufficiently attractive to take away the temptation to come here for conditions which are so manifestly better than their own. As I regard it, the first duty of a Government—of the Government of this country—is to look after the interests and happiness and welfare of its own people. It is only with that as a basis that we can be strong enough to do for our partners in the Commonwealth all those services which we should like to be able to render, but shall not be able to do unless we have the sure base of a country such as I have pictured. As I see it, it is only by getting one's priorities right that our nation will be in a position to give this assistance to others.
The figures mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, are rather staggering. I do not propose, nor is there time, to go into them, but they underline the need for rigid control in the interests of all parties to this problem. It is also, as the noble Lord, Lord Elton, said, quite clear that the majority of people in this country are in favour of control; only a small minority would open the flood-gates and face the results of such lack of prudence.
I do not propose to deal with all the questions which now have to be considered by the Government—the health and housing difficulties, the distribution difficulties, the assimilation of these people and also their high birth rate, which gives rise to problems. But I should like to mention one point which I think needs to be dealt with. I gather that a Commonwealth immigrant cannot be deported from this country, even if he has all sorts of unsavoury facts against 1066 him, if he chooses to destroy his own identification documents and it is not possible to prove here what is his nationality. I gather that then there is no legal power to deport him.
In regard to the planning of this matter of immigration, I have no doubt that noble Lords are aware that in Trinidad Sir Eric Williams, the Prime Minister, has instituted a system of planning, of sending immigrants to countries such as the United States or Canada which happen to want them; but it is on a definitely stated agreement with those countries that certain types of people are needed, and they are carefully hand picked in Trinidad, given a preliminary training, and then sent as suitable representatives of their country abroad.
May I once more emphasise that this a world problem and we should not recklessly build up in this country conditions which up to date the world has found quite insoluble in other countries which I need not mention. I should like to say once more that it is a subject which cannot be treated emotionally; it should be the object of cool and unbiased study by the Government concerned. Nor will I emphasise the points which have already been made about this overcrowded island obviously having severe natural restrictions upon immigrants of whatever race or colour, or from wherever they come.
There is little more I can say at this hour of night, except to implore the Government to remember that you cannot hurry history, and, if we want to integrate immigrants into this country whose customs and language and habits take a great deal of integration, it has to he done slowly and in adequately regulated and small numbers.
§ 7.6 p.m.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
My Lords, it is not easy at this point of the debate to be original, and I promise to be brief. I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Conesford—I am sorry he is not here to hear what I have to say—twice, and with great disapproval, quoted the words of my late husband, then the Leader of the Opposition. My husband was a passionate opponent of the first Bill controlling immigration because he was a passionate believer in the Commonwealth, and at best this Bill and its Second Reading is an affront to the 1067 Commonwealth, whatever the good reasons for it are. My husband regarded this free association of nations, the Commonwealth, as a real force for good in the world. The noble Lord, Lord Conesford, has an indulgent estimate of his own impartiality and his lack of racial prejudice; certainly his approval of the slogan "Keep Britain White" has a distinctly Nazi flavour.
Immigration control is the melancholy decision of all the political Parties in this country, but all the Parties agree that full integration is Desirable for the immigrants here. I think this is the important thing that we have to discuss. Just to assert this is really not much use. Of course we all want improvement in general welfare and housing; all that goes without saying. But there is a great need for information and facts about these minority groups. We have a great need to know what kind of discrimination exists, say in employment, perhaps in the white-collar jobs, or for coloured children leaving grammar schools. We need to know how much segregation is developing in these neighbourhoods and schools. We need to know how many white people move out of areas where coloured people are moving in, so that we may not get to the point when we have schools with a majority of coloured children. This will happen if this segregation goes on. We need to know whether coloured people pay more for their mortgages or their car assurance, as I am told sometimes happens. We need information as to what immigrants regard as their needs. We need to know the facts in order to educate public opinion; this is the great need.
Many of the noble Lords opposite have taken a really pessimistic view of the whole of this problem. To take this view is utterly defeatist. In regard to what the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, said about electors, if some of the electors in the places where racial prejudice was simmering had perhaps known the facts, had been educated, maybe the result would have been different. We have in existence to-day a Commonwealth Immigrants Advisory Council of which the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, is the illustrious chairman. It has done most valuable work. It was set up by Mr. Henry Brooke, with very limited terms of reference.
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
I am sorry; Mr. Butler. I thought it was Mr. Henry Brooke. It was set up to advise the Home Secretary about the welfare and integration of immigrants and to examine the arrangements made by local authorities in this way, and to say whether further Government action was needed. In fact, it was set up to examine the official and the voluntary efforts involved and to make one annual report, as Lady Swanborough said. Within its limitations it has done immensely good work, but lack of money and lack of a big enough secretariat are absolutely crucial factors in this field.
Something much stronger is needed here. This is inadequate to deal with the scale of the problem, and we have heard the scale of the problem expressed in all the defeatist views of noble Lords opposite. We need a Government body in this field with members of high calibre so that their views can carry really good weight. We need a big enough research staff with sufficiently wide terms of reference. Immigration control, by itself, solves very few problems: it is only a beginning. What we now need is to tackle the problem of integration, which we have not done in the last thirteen years.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ LORD DILHORNE
My Lords, I have heard most of this debate, and it has carried my memory back to debates in another place during the course of the passage of what is now the Commonwealth Immigrants Act. But before I say anything about that, I should like to touch upon one other subject to which Lord Stonham drew attention at the outset of his speech. I think he is the only noble Lord who referred to it in the course of to-day's debate. It is the fact that this Bill proposes to continue in force for yet another year the Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act, 1919. The noble Lord told us, if I got his words right, that under contemporary circumstances those controls must go on.
I do not think anyone would challenge the need for us in this country to have some powers at the present time, and in so far as can be seen for some years in the future, of control over the number of aliens admitted to this country, and 1069 some degree of supervision over them when they are within this country. Most people would accept that, but it is generally accepted by all Parties that the legislation dealing with aliens is most unsatisfactory. The present Home Secretary said this in another place [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 702 (No. 14), col. 252]:I differ from nobody in the Committee in thinking that we ought to have permanent legislation. It is not satisfactory that matters which touch the freedoms of a large number of individuals should be left to delegated legislation consisting of an Order in Council, made under an Act passed in 1919 which, in a rather odd, lopsided way amended a war-time Act passed in 1914.This is one occasion on which I can certainly express entire agreement with the right honourable gentleman. Indeed, he himself was in agreement with his predecessor, Mr. Henry Brooke, who, as Home Secretary in the last Government, expressed the view that it was essential in the next Parliament for Parliament to put this matter on a permanent basis.
I must say frankly to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, that I was disappointed by what he had to say about the prospect of that being achieved. He gave no kind of pledge to introduce any such permanent legislation. All he did was to hold out some slight hope that something might be done. Now, twice to-day we have been referred to the pressure of Parliamentary tine. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, as we know, takes a very keen interest in law reform, and your Lordships will remember the debate which we had in this House on that subject before the Election, in which I referred to the pressure of Parliamentary time. I was somewhat derided on that account. I am not trying to-night to arouse any controversy about this, but I should like to express the hope that the present Lord Chancellor will be more successful than I was in getting a measure of this kind introduced into the legislative programme, for I think there is a real need for it, as I gather he agrees.
I do not know whether the noble Lord who is going to wind up this debate could give me some information about this—I should be grateful if he would. Who is the Minister responsible for this facet of law reform? The Home Office and the Home Secretary have, of course, 1070 a particular responsibility with regard to aliens, but we are now concerned with the reform of the law of aliens, and it must go wider than just converting Orders in Council into a Statute. Who is the Minister who is now responsible for bringing that law up to date? We have heard a great deal said, of some vagueness, about this matter, but I should like to ask whether it is the Home Secretary, or the Lord Chancellor, who has a particular responsibility, or is it the Minister without Portfolio, whose duties have not so far been publicly defined, so far as I am aware? Whoever it may be, I ask Her Majesty's Government to note that the pressure for the introduction of some permanent legislation of this kind comes from all sides of the House, and the Home Secretary has himself recognised this need.
§ LORD STONHAM
Is the noble and learned Lord, in asking his question, referring only to the Aliens Bill? If so, a ready answer can be given by my noble friend. I would point out to him that even the enactment of the present temporary legislation would, in itself, be a measure that would be strongly contested. We think it better to wait until we can perhaps consider other adjustments and then bring in a new Bill.
§ LORD DILHORNE
I am grateful to the noble Lord for intervening to reply to the point I was making. Of course I appreciate that legislation on aliens might—I say, "might" I do not know that it necessarily would: it depends on its content—be highly controversial. But I should have thought it would be far less controversial than the Commonwealth Immigrants Act was.
I appreciate, too, that before a Bill of that sort could be introduced a great deal of hard work would have to be done. I do not know to what extent work on that has been going on in the Home Office—I expect a good deal. I was hoping for something more than a faint hope that something would be done, because it is rather bad that we cannot find time in the Parliamentary programme for a measure of this kind when we realise, as I think everyone agrees, the need for some control in relation to aliens. I merely touched on that, in the hope that what I said on it might lend a little weight to the elbow 1071 of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, if he tried to do a little pushing on his own account to get this law reform advanced.
My Lords, I now turn to what has been the main subject of our debate—immigration. We have had a number of most interesting speeches, and I do not think your Lordships would like me at this late hour to refer to the speeches seriatim. Our debate has been distinguished by one maiden speech, that of the noble Lord, Lord Royle, and I apologise to him that I had to be out of the Chamber just when he was speaking. But I understand, and I am verily informed, that he adhered in this House to the opposition that he expressed in another place to the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, and therefore he deserves credit at least for his consistency.
The noble Lady who spoke just before me referred again to the position when that Bill was introduced. It was, as she said, a Bill that was bitterly opposed. I do not doubt at all the sincerity of the view that was expressed by her: that by those who opposed it it was regarded as an affront to the Commonwealth. But she will also remember, I am sure, that those of us who had some responsibility for its enactment did not agree with that view. We felt (and I think that events have shown us to be right on this) that if the floodgates were left open, and immigrants poured into this country—more than we could assimilate or integrate, if that is the right word—then the consequences, so far as the Commonwealth was concerned, would be far, far more disastrous than the effect of passing that Measure. I think that what has happened has shown that. The consequences to the Commonwealth, which were foreshadowed at that time, have not eventuated at all.
The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, when he spoke, misrepresented the position with regard to the opposition to that Bill. He said that it was objected to by the Labour Party, not because they objected to control (these are his words) but because it was carried into force without adequate consultation. My Lords, it is in the light of such somewhat inaccurate phrases that myths are created, and I would, if I might, even at this late hour, 1072 remind your Lordships of the terms of the Amendment moved by the Labour Party to the Second Reading of this Bill. The following Amendment was moved by the present Foreign Secretary [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 649, Col. 705]:this House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which, without adequate inquiry and without full discussion at a meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers. removes from Commonwealth citizens the long standing right of free entry to Britain, and is thus calculated to undermine the unity and strength of the Commonwealth; gives excessive discretionary powers to the executive without any provision for appeals; will he widely regarded as introducing a colour bar into our legislation; and, though providing for health checks and for the deportation of those convicted of certain criminal offences. fails to deal with the deplorable social and housing conditions under which recent Commonwealth immigrants and other subjects of Her Majesty are living.My Lords, in the face of that Amendment it really cannot be said that this Bill was opposed by the Labour Party not because they objected to control. The terms of that Amendment show quite clearly—it must have escaped the noble Lord's memory—that the Labour Party was opposed to putting on any control over any immigration from the Commonwealth into this country. That was the theme of the debate that took place.
Now, of course, they recognise, and the noble Lady recognises, that this Commonwealth Immigrants Act must go on. The Labour Party having opposed it for many a long hour, line by line—indeed, so much that a timetable had to be imposed—the noble Lord now comes before this House and asks for Parliamentary approval for its continuance. We were told by the present Foreign Secretary at the time of the Second Reading (if I may remind your Lordships) that the Bill contained barefaced, open race discrimination, and that the Home Secretary at that time was advocating a Bill—and again I quote the present Foreign Secretary's words (col. 706)—into which race discrimination is now written—not only into its spirit and practice but into its very letter.That, of course, was not our view, and I think the people who have spoken about how this Act has been operated have paid tribute to the fact that it has not been operated illiberally.
It is interesting that there has been really no criticism in this debate of the 1073 system devised by that Act. There has been no criticism of the "A", "B" and "C" vouchers and the machinery designed. I think that is very satisfactory. But the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and indeed his right honourable friend the Home Secretary, drew attention to the extent of evasion which they suspected, as I gather, had been and was taking place. I must say that that is a matter which I think we must take seriously. It is one thing, of course, for a few students to marry and stay on here and so create a surplus, but I cannot believe that the surplus which has arisen is in any way due only to that happening. I think there must be more than that.
If there is evasion by, for instance, the concoction of forged vouchers and things of that kind, then I think that is very serious, because whit that means is that we are allowing people to jump the queue, assuming they would have been admitted. This is all based on a hypothesis, but if this is happening and there is this type of evasion some people are jumping the queue and getting in front of those who are behaving properly. We may also be getting into this country some who would be refused admission. That is why I am saying that, if there is this kind of evasion, I regard it as serious and unfair. Indeed, I am sure that when the noble Lord comes to reply he will say that, if there is this kind of evasion, the Government will take every step they can to prevent it.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, if evasion through forged vouchers is taking place, and it may well be, those people with forged vouchers are included in the legal admissions because they will be included in those numbers admitted with vouchers. If the vouchers were forged and we detected them the people concerned would not he admitted.
§ LORD DILHORNE
My Lords, it is no use my speculating as to how the present system, however it is being administered, is being evaded. But the figures seem to me to indicate that the evasion is substantial, and I do not think that it is quite explained by saying that a number of people come here as visitors and students and stay on. What I am saying is that, if there is serious evasion, then I think that every possible step should be taken to stop it for the reasons I have indicated.
1074 The next question I want to turn to is this. How are the powers in the Act going to be exercised by Her Majesty's Government? The noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, has suggested that we should in some way secure that there is not a "brain drain" from the Commonwealth territories to this country, of people who could usefully be employed in their own territories. I do not myself think it really would be for us to say who could or should leave those territories. That, I should have thought, would have been a matter for the Governments of those territories. What we have got to be concerned with, surely, is simply that we do not admit to our shores a greater number than we can properly deal with, assimilate, integrate and look after. That, surely, ought to he the governing factor. I do not think it is just a question of educating public opinion. I rather hope it is not, because educating public opinion can take such a very long time. Of coure, there may be something in that; but I agree with the noble Lady who said that immigration control by itself was not enough. I entirely agree with that.
The great and difficult problem—different in character from any we have had before, because of the wide variety of peoples who are coming in—is to secure their proper absorption into the area where they have chosen to reside. I am never very happy, my Lords, about the use of the word "integration". I am not quite sure what it really means. I think that to some people it has a very unpleasant ring; but it is a rather fashionable word. I prefer the word "assimilation". I suppose that if one were trying to put down in one phrase, or to say, what one was trying to secure, it would be that these visitors to our land should be able to reside happily and in peace with their neighbours wherever they might be, and play a proper and full part in our society. But there are so many facets of that problem that I quite agree it is a difficult one—and I thought that the contribution by the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, was of the greatest interest.
The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, gave an account of what had been done in the way of legislation, of the powers the last Government took to prevent overcrowding and to remedy the worst abuses; but here I rather agree with the noble Baroness, 1075 Lady Gaitskell: I am not sure whether the local authorities or the central Government really know quite enough, as yet, where the shoe pinches. It may be that if we are to solve the problem of assimilation or integration we shall have to give some discriminatory treatment or provide some discriminatory facilities, not with any intention of discrimination against individuals, but discriminating for their benefit so as to enable them to have special facilities—for instance, of learning languages.
My Lords, to-night, although we have touched on this subject, it is not really the issue. The issue is: should this Act continue in force? And, second to that, I should have thought: how are the powers under this Act going to be exercised? My noble and learned friend Lord Conesford rather incurred the displeasure of the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell. I will not pursue that controversy except to say that I support his view that one cannot just ignore a problem that really exists and pretend (although the noble Lady does not seek to pretend) that it does not exist, or seek to minimise it by attacking the language or phrases which some people may use, and misguidedly use, in relation to it.
If one starts from the basis—and it was the basis of the Act—that there must be some control over immigration so that we did not get more immigrants coming to this country than we can assimilate and look after, what is the present position to-day? I thought the noble Lord, Lord Elton, made a depressing—I will not use the word "defeatist"; that was the word the noble Lady used—but a very serious speech. He posed the question whether we had already taken in more than we could provide for by way of homes, education and so on; and I think that if we do take in more than we can cope with, then there is a serious possibility of disaster. I think I carry the noble Lord with me on that.
Therefore, if one is to err at all in this very difficult assessment, there is something to be said for taking a chance on being a bit below the figure rather than being above it. I hope I have made myself clear on that. I am not advocating any figure—I am not sufficiently in possession of the facts to do so—but, if 1076 there is too much of an inflow, too rapidly, the risks are so great and may be so disastrous that I should have thought a sound policy for the time being, until we have been able to do more by way of assimilation, might be to take a more restrictive attitude with regard to the admission of those whose admission can be stopped or deferred. Of course, as has been pointed out, there is no restriction with regard to the admission of dependants; nor is there with regard to students—and one would not want to see that. So, really, under this Act, the Government have got power to control only a certain portion. But it would be interesting to know whether the Government's decision, as I understand it is, to adhere to the rate of issue of vouchers followed at the end by the late Government, is based upon their assessment of the present situation or whether it is what I might call a mere holding operation until they have had further time for review. I hope that is not too difficult a question to answer. It is not posed with any animosity, because those of us who have had anything to do in a practical way with this trouble realise how full of complexities it is.
My Lords, as I have said, I am not going to refer to all the speeches which have been made. It was very nice for me to hear the noble Lord, Lord Hailes, make a speech, I having sat with him, or at least having been with him in another place for so long. It is the first speech I have ever heard him make, and I hope—and I am sure your Lordships do—that we shall hear him on more occasions in the future. My noble friend the Duke of Devonshire made, I thought, an excellent speech. I do not really know why the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, attributed the epithet of "defeatist" to my noble friends—and presumably to myself, because she said "all noble Lords opposite". I think that perhaps her disagreement with my noble and learned friend Lord Conesford led her to attach that label to all of us; but I should just like to say that we are not defeatist. We do not want to see relations between the people of this country and the people of the Commonwealth damaged—and it may be irreparably damaged—by the consequences of more people coming over here than we as a country (and I use it in its broadest sense) can look after properly.
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO (LORD CHAMPION)
My Lords, I must start by agreeing with the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, that there have been some quite remarkable speeches in this debate. It seems so often that one starts from this or the other Box by saying that the debate has reached an extraordinarily high level, but I think that that sort of term or phrase used in connection with this debate certainly would be an absolutely true description of the speeches we have heard to-day. I must start by congratulating my noble friend Lord Royle on his maiden speech. I am sorry he has had to go, but it so happened that he had an engagement which he had to keep, as is the case with so many of the other noble Lords who have spoken. But I am glad to add my congratulations to those so felicitously expressed by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Liverpool. I cannot regard the noble Lord, Lord Royle, as a true virgin up to this point, for I remember listening to his maiden speech in another place; and I remember he impressed me later on as being a very accomplished speaker. But, my Lords, however practised one is in the other place, one has to adjust to the different atmosphere here, and this the noble Lord certainly has successfully achieved this afternoon. He is a personal friend of mine and I was delighted by his performance this afternoon. Clearly, he is going to be a very welcome addition to the debating strength on this side of the House. I rather think we shall need it in what I hope are to be the years to come.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Dilhorne, is an old political enemy, but I hasten to add that I have never regarded him as an unfair one. As the Lord Chancellor this House undoubtedly respected him; as a political opponent we shall never underrate his skill in debate for he is pretty formidable. To-day we have had an example of his debating ability and of the formidable speeches that he can direct towards the other side of the House. I would add my congratulations to those already expressed about the honour which Her Majesty has conferred upon him, the announcement of which has appeared to-day. The noble and learned Lord, 1078 Lord Dilhorne, was the only noble Lord to make reference to the Aliens Act.
§ LORD CHAMPION
Yes, my Lords, that is correct: apart from the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. He was the only one after the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, to make any reference to it. He said there is still a failure to introduce permanent legislation on this extremely important matter. As I understand it, the Home Secretary is to study all aspects of this complex subject and formulate his own proposals. I would imagine that when he has done that a Bill would be prepared and presented to the House. Just how soon that will be, I do not know, but clearly the Home Secretary is bound to be in difficulties, as are the Government, because of the shortage of Parliamentary draftsmen: we have not enough to do the work.
I am not going to enter into the continuing discussions between the ex-Lord Chancellor and the present Lord Chancellor which have so much enlivened the House since they have changed places.
§ LORD CHAMPION
I am sure the noble and learned Lord would not expect me to attempt to enter into them. Clearly the position of aliens is a matter which ought to be settled by permanent legislation, and I hope that this will be accomplished very soon. Whether as a result of the action of the Home Secretary or of the Lord Chancellor or of anybody else, it does not matter, so long as we get the Bill before this House.
I would say that if there have been criticisms levelled against this side of the House and against the Government to-day they have been made chiefly by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Dilhorne, and the noble Duke and others in reminding us of our opposition to the 1962 Act. This is part of the game of the "ins" and "outs". Those who are the "ins" are reminded of the things they said when they were the "outs" and the "outs" are rightly reminded of the things they did and said when they were the "ins". I have no fault to find with all this; for it is a salutary reminder that the deeds of the "ins" 1079 are on record, and the words of the "outs" as said to-day may one day be quoted against them. But, to get the record straight on this as I understood it at the time, the Labour Opposition's attitude on the 1962 Bill was that it might do irreparable harm to Commonwealth relations and that if a reduction in the number of Commonwealth immigrants was necessary it would be much better done by negotiation and after consultation with the appropriate Governments.
The fact that we in Government have to face to-day is, first, that the Act of 1962 did not do any irreparable harm to the Commonwealth; although, understandably, there was opposition to it at the time by some of the Commonwealth Governments, and with some of them it still rankles. Secondly, the control made possible by the Act has worked very well. We still feel, however, that so far as it is humanly possible the control of immigration into this country from Commonwealth countries would be better done by agreement with the countries concerned. This is why my noble friend Lord Stonham said to-day that we should try to bring the Commonwealth countries into discussions with us on the question of control. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary said in another place on November 17 [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 702 (No. 14), col. 287]:My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations has, some little time ago, already taken steps to make contact with Commonwealth countries to bring about, when we have been able to carry out such review as we consider necessary of the working of our control, the necessary discussions at which that collaboration can take place between the Commonwealth and this country.My Lords, we do recognise the difficulty here that was mentioned and so much stressed by the noble Lord, Lord Conesford. If the Government are charged, as they clearly have been, with inconsistency by continuing this Act or that Act by the Bill which is now before your Lordships' House, I am bound to reply, to use Emerson's words, thata foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds".I hope we shall not be charged with having little minds. Certainly in this connection we have not been consistent. I think we have done the right thing in the circumstances, which, I suppose, is pre- 1080 cisely what the Government of 1951 said when they continued the National Health Act, despite their having voted against it when in Opposition on both the Second and the Third Readings. I remember the advice that the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, gave some of us on another matter some years ago: "When caught out, come clean, and a tolerant Parliament will understand". To some extent we have here been caught out, and I think by my admissions up to now I have come clean on behalf of the Government.
§ Loin DILHORNE
My Lords, I am sure the noble Lord will acquit me of any desire to rub salt in the wound. I was not seeking to do that.
§ LORD CHAMPION
My Lords, the wound is not too deep. Politicians do become a little thick-skinned, as the noble and learned Lord well knows.
My Lords, I have already said that the Act and the control under it has worked very well. But this is not to say that, if our economic and social circumstances were different, the "open door" would not be better for this, the mother of a great Commonwealth of Nations. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, on this. Of course I do. If our economic and social conditions were such, there ought to be an open door to this mother of the Commonwealth.
The numbers permitted to enter have been just about right for certain grades of labour but, of course, it has not yet been possible to secure complete integration or assimilation of those whom we have permitted to enter. Doubt, fear and resentment exist in the minds of many people when strangers come to live in their midst. This doubt, fear and resentment is added to enormously if the newcomers have different habits, different standards of education, a different culture; and if to that is added a differently coloured skin.
My Lords, before leaving the question of assimilation, may I ask this question? Is it not strange that the Indian and Pakistan communities in overseas countries, of which there are many, have never assimilated themselves with anybody, so far as I know? So that it is not our fault that there is no assimilation, but perhaps the fault of other people.
§ LORD CHAMPION
My Lords, even if we do not succeed, we must at least try to assimilate them; and this, I think, is the task that now lies before us.
I lived through the decade of the depression of inter-war years in Wales, when the only chance of a job for so many Welsh people was to leave Wales for Slough and other English towns. By a great many people in these English towns their coming was deeply resented. They took the houses that were in short supply and stretched to the utmost the educational facilities then available. Their accent was different when they spoke English, and if they spoke their native tongue that was much worse, for then they really were foreigners. Stories grew up that they used their baths for storing coal, and all the rest of the nonsense of their supposed inferiority to the old English inhabitants; just as, to-day, the story of the vice dens of the coloured people in our midst gains wider and wider acceptance. But with the passage of time the Welsh people in those communities have become completely integrated or assimilated; and now, in all probability, they are prepared to join in the resentment at the new strangers in their midst.
The cure for present resentments, as has been said often to-day, is partly time, and partly the solving of the housing, educational, health and welfare problems, as my noble friend said in his opening speech. Action to prevent coloured persons from being discriminated against is foreshadowed, and I think that it will not be long before we shall see a Bill on this vital subject before your Lordships' House.
The problem of the desire of so many to leave their warmer homelands is to be solved only by helping them to solve the problem of unemployment which drives them away. This has been referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Hailes, and by other noble Lords. People really do not want to come into hostile surroundings and into our climate, which certainly does not suit them. All they want is a job. The noble Duke and the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, both said that, despite our economic difficulties, we must accelerate our help, both in money and technical aid, to try to get as rapidly as possible to the point where Commonwealth citizens will not find it necessary 1082 to leave their homelands to come here in search of a job. The sooner this is achieved, the better for everyone concerned.
The noble Duke suggested that the Commonwealth Department might help through various agencies on birth control. This I would regard as being a matter on which we ought to give every help that is possible. Earlier this year the attention of the Commonwealth Governments was drawn to the fact that this country will accept requests for practical assistance in family planning. The Government are fully aware of the importance of the control of births where population explosions are taking place. But, of course, the noble Duke will know this, because he was in the Commonwealth Office at the time when this offer was made.
The noble Lord, Lord Dilhorne, talked about evasions. There is a study proceeding on the whole of this question, including the evasions of restrictions, but a solution is far from easy. As I understand it, we cannot impose on people coming in here from the Commonwealth restrictions that would be less favourable than those imposed on aliens, and this appears to be part of the difficulty. I am sure that the noble Lord knows much more than I do about the difficulties in this field, but I can assure him that the Home Secretary is now studying this aspect, and I hope that flowing from his study will be action both on evasions and on the whole question of the control of immigrants.
My noble friend Lord Royle suggested that coloured Commonwealth citizens in this country should be dispersed. This would be extremely difficult to achieve. For one thing, they want to go, and ought to go, to places in which they can find work; and even if it were right to consider spreading them over the whole country, that could hardly be achieved without some kind of direction of labour, supported by measures of compulsion. To this we would not agree. We dislike direction of labour. We do not like the compulsions that this sort of thing would necessitate.
My noble friend Lady Summerskill made an outstanding but disturbing speech. I am sure that she intended to do precisely that. The point she made, about the way we are draining so many of the Commonwealth countries of the skills and brains which they so badly 1083 need, is a problem which I must admit has disturbed me, as it has disturbed her. The people who come here under the Category "B" Voucher Scheme are clearly draining the brains and skills of these Commonwealth countries, and inevitably this will increase the difficulties of these countries in facing up to the problems which they must face in the future. Frankly, I am bound to admit that I do not see a solution.
But surely this is the sort of point that ought to be discussed with the Commonwealth countries concerned when the meetings which my noble friend and I have foreshadowed take place, and I will certainly do my uttermost to ensure that my noble friend's remarks are brought to the notice of the Ministers who will be discussing this whole question with the Commonwealth Governments. I cannot do more than that. But I certainly agree with my noble friend about the situation created by this brain-drain.
I am not going into the question of the revision of history books, though I would agree with my noble friend on this point. In my early days of study of the economic history of this country, I thought that the history books needed revision in a different direction. I was not so much interested in the kings and queens as in the social history of the people, and I wanted to get the history books turned in that direction. I understand my noble friend's point, which is certainly worthy of consideration.
The noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, told us that her contribution to the debate would be humdrum and commonplace. No contribution by the noble Baroness could be either of those things. I am bound to thank her, on behalf of the past Government, and I am sure of this one, for the work of her Committee, at the centre of which she has been so very much a part. I thank her for the reports. Action has already been taken, I understand, on some of the recommendations of the first two reports—that is, on housing and education. The third report has been but recently received, as the noble Lady knows, and is now in process of being studied. I must say that hers was the sort of speech that I should have liked to make myself. I endorse her welcome of the Church's contribution to the 1084 housing problem for immigrants, mentioned by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Liverpool. The ministry certainly strongly approve of the Church's practical approach to this problem.
I come now to the last point I want to make, and it is on intolerance. Part of the problem of the immigration of these people is that, whilst economically we needed them, socially we were, and still are, unprepared for them. Our hospital services would be in tremendous difficulties without them. London's Underground would be in a sorry plight if the stations and trains did not have them available to ensure that the system kept running. We were unprepared for them physically, and even more so mentally. We tend to pride ourselves on being a tolerant people, and possibly with some justification; but we cannot claim total immunity from intolerance. We have to try to understand the causes of intolerance, and by education and example endeavour to remove them. All of us who pride ourselves on our tolerance must show, by our every word and action, our abhorrence of racial discrimination wherever it is practised.
It is not enough that we say that we deplore apartheid in South Africa, or the colour bar in the United States, at thousands of miles distance. We have simply to educate ourselves out of it on our own doorsteps. The Nazis were intolerant of Jews and carried it to its logical conclusion. It led to extermination and to the horror of Auschwitz. The intolerance of the Africans for the whites, carried to extremes, led to the massacres in the Congo. To learn to tolerate and then to love our neighbour is, as I understand it, the Christian doctrine.
Racial intolerance I can understand, for its roots are deep in history, and if we are ever going to get a peaceful world we somehow have to educate ourselves out of it. To some extent, in this we have to show tolerance even for the intolerant, where that intolerance stems from ignorance, as so much of it does. That is why, to some extent, we want to revise our history books, because intolerance stems from ignorance. But where racialism rears its ugly head for personal profit or for unworthy political ends by people who should know better, then the only thing to do is to stamp it out.
1085 It was exploited, I would say deliberately, for political ends in Smethwick and Perry Barr, and I was glad to see that every responsible Tory leader repudiated it in the, debate in the other place. I would agree with the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, that it is right that electors should discuss this immigration, because it is a matter of importance to them. But to stimulate the feeling that existed in Smethwick and Perry Barr deliberately for political ends was a vile thing; and I very much agree with my noble friend Lady Gaitskell on this aspect. I should have thought it was quite right that this thing that happened in Smethwick and Perry Barr should be repudiated by every decent person. I am sure that what the Prime Minister tried to do, in his speech in the debate on the Address, was to stamp on racialism when it did raise its ugly head. And I certainly do not—and nor would he wish me to—make from this Box to-night the slightest apology for his speech.
§ LORD DILHORNE
My Lords, the noble Lord realises that we have not to-day, and quite deliberately, raised this issue of Smethwick and Perry Barr, which he has raised. If I had known he was going to do so, I should have had a great deal to say. We accept no responsibility for the kind of words the Labour Party have tried to put in our mouths about this. Our position was made plain in another place. When the noble Lord tries to introduce the words of the Prime Minister about leprosy, if he is not prepared to apologise for that, then I think he should think again.
§ LORD CHAMPION
The word "leper" was used c; early as a synonym for outcast, and I should have thought, in the circumstances, it was quite right that it should so be used. I probably should not have referred to this to-day had it not been referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, and others. I do not want to enter into this too deeply to-day, but I felt I ought to say what I have just said about the whole business. We shall have to forget the whole matter that occurred during the last Election as soon as possible. But I want to appeal to everyone to try to ensure that we bring about an integration or assimilation of those people who have come here, because I believe only 1086 in this way can we ensure a continuance of the Commonwealth in which we all believe.
§ LORD DILHORNE
My Lords, before the noble Lord finishes, may I remind him that I put to him some questions about the numbers to be admitted in future? He has not dealt with this point in his speech to-night, and I do not know whether he is in a position to do so. I do not press him to give me an answer to-night, but will he say he will give me some information as soon as he can?
§ LORD CHAMPION
I said that the whole question of the control, which included numbers as well as the other aspect, was under consideration by the Home Secretary.
§ LORD DILHORNE
I am afraid I must press the noble Lord on this point. It was not the whole question of control I was asking about. What I am asking—and I will put it quite specifically—is what numbers are going to be admitted under this Act in the next period ahead. I think that if the noble Lord does not know the answer he should at least find it out, because, if this Act is to be operated, a decision about numbers must be reached. I should like to know what the numbers are, and for what period.
§ LORD CHAMPION
The total numbers will not be available unfit the Home Secretary has completed his study. But I can give the noble Lord this assurance: that as soon as the Home Secretary has arrived at a decision we will try to ensure that it is made available, both to the noble Lord and to the House as a whole.
§ LORD DILHORNE
I really cannot leave it there. Does that mean that no immigrants are being admitted until the Home Secretary has reached his decision? If it is not that, how many immigrants are being admitted, and for what period does this ceiling which is being imposed run? I think the noble Lord must have misunderstood me, but I want that information, if he can give it to me.
§ LORD CHAMPION
My Lords, as I understand it, the Home Secretary is 1087 continuing the figure which existed when the last Administration went out of office, and this will be continued at what, I think, is 400 a week until such time as he has completed his survey.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.
§ House adjourned at eleven minutes past eight o'clock.