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Rights Of Entry (Conditions)

Volume 526: debated on Wednesday 7 April 1954

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38.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies under what conditions British citizens domiciled in the United Kingdom may enter islands in the British West Indies and British West African Colonies, respectively.

As the reply is long, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the undertakings, both financial and otherwise, which these territories require of United Kingdom citizens desiring to go to them are far greater than any undertakings required of peoples of those territories desiring to come here? Secondly, is he aware that the undertakings required of United Kingdom citizens going to West Indian territories are far greater than those required of United States citizens? Should not these matters be brought into line?

What my hon. Friend says is undoubtedly so. In many of these territories the requirements asked of British subjects greatly exceed those which are required by our authorities in respect of immigrants from the West Indies.

Following is the reply:

The matter is in each case one for the Colonial Government concerned. According to my latest information the position is that British subjects domiciled in the United Kingdom who are not prohibited immigrants as defined in the immigration legislation of the territories concerned may enter the islands in the British West Indies and British West African Colonies respectively subject to compliance with the following formalities: —

Barbados

Passports must be carried except by those entering as tourists on visits of up to six months, but they must have some other document establishing their identity which should bear their photograph. Anyone entering the Colony may be required to make a deposit or furnish a security bond. For those from the United Kingdom the sum is $1,500 (B.W.I.).

Jamaica

Passports are required except for those holding return tickets and not staying longer than six months, and cruise passengers departing by the vessel on which they arrive. Visitors, other than those in the categories above, and immigrants may be required to deposit sufficient money to provide for their repatriation, or to furnish a bond in lieu by some property owner in the Colony.

Leeward Islands

Passports are required except for those visiting the Colony for a period not exceeding six months and holding a valid ticket for their return to the country from which they embarked. Any person wishing to enter for permanent residence and/or employment should obtain prior permission. Any visitor not in possession of a return ticket, and any immigrant, may be required to deposit on arrival a sum of money sufficient to provide for his repatriation, or to provide security in lieu of such deposit.

Trinidad and Tobago

Passports are necessary except for those holding return tickets and not staying longer than six months. Visitors should be in possession of a return ticket or be prepared to furnish security either by bond or cash deposit of an amount sufficient to cover the cost of return fare to their country of origin. They must also have in their possession funds sufficient for the period of their proposed visit. Prior application should be made to the Chief Immigration Officer by those wishing to enter for permanent residence or employment. Employees must hold firm contracts, stating the nature and period of employment, the proposed wage, and including an undertaking by the employer to repatriate the immigrant, if necessary, within three years. In such cases the employee will not be required to make a deposit.

Windward Islands

Passports are required except for those holding return or round-trip tickets and not staying longer than six months. None may enter the islands to seek employment. Visitors not in possession of a return ticket, or a ticket to some other destination for which they are properly documented, may be required to deposit enough money to defray the cost of repatriation, plus subsistence, or to give a bond in lieu. Intending residents and employees must seek prior permission to enter, and the latter must hold a firm contract with a locally established employer who must guarantee the immigrant for at least two years.

West Africa

Passports must be carried and entry permits are required by all persons visiting Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone or the Gambia. In all four territories visitors may be required to make a deposit sufficient to cover the cost of their repatriation plus 25 per cent, of that sum, or a bond with one or more sureties may be accepted at the discretion of the Immigration Officer.
None may enter the Gold Coast, Nigeria or Sierra Leone to seek employment. Persons entering the Gold Coast to take up employment must be vouched for by their local employers who should apply for the necessary permits. Anyone entering Nigeria for the first time must obtain prior permission. In the case of an employee the local employer is required to guarantee repatriation and to make all arrangements for entry.

39.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies on what authority financial undertakings are required of persons domiciled in the United Kingdom who desire to visit islands in the British West Indies.

Power to require these undertakings is conferred by the immigration laws of the territories concerned.

Will the Minister indicate whether his Department has any responsibility for these regulations? If it has, will he take steps to vary them?

No. I can make representations from time to time, but most of these matters are within the competence of the local governments.

Surely this is a much more important matter than appears at first sight? Surely British-domiciled citizens, when visiting colonial possessions, ought not to be asked to give undertakings in excess of those given by persons who are not domiciled in Britain?

I have this matter under consideration at the moment. I should have framed the Question in a slightly different way from that in which my hon. Friend has framed it. What has to be asked is whether some reciprocity should not be established in this matter. Naturally, the amount of money required in respect of an immigrant to a very overcrowded Colony may be different from that which would apply in this country. I think that my hon. Friend was really asking for some sort of reciprocity, and that is what I am looking into.

41.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why a visitor to the East African territories has to declare his race on the application form for a visitor's visa.

I assume the hon. Member is referring to the declaration form which every visitor or immigrant must complete on arrival in the territory. The particulars of race asked for in that declaration are needed for statistical purposes.

Is the Secretary of State not aware that this application form is filled in at East Africa House in London? Does not he agree that this is a most pernicious practice? Would not it be sufficient to ask merely for a declaration of nationality? Can he tell the House how a South African subject of the Queen would answer a question of this nature?

I think the hon. Member is making rather more of this matter than is necessary. The form asks for the usual particulars regarding sex, age, marital status and nationality, and specifies five categories of race, i.e., European, Indian, Goan, Arab and "others." This information is required for statistical purposes. If the hon. Member has any other points to raise, I shall be glad to look into them.

For what precise purpose is this statistical information being collected, in view of the fact that we do not seem to require it of visitors to this country? Can he say whether it would be a sufficient answer to the question to write in the word "human"?

If the hon. Member were present more often during Colonial Office Questions—

—he would know that I am frequently asked about statistics of immigrants to various territories. They cannot be given unless this information is obtained.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that this question should be dropped altogether? Can he tell us how a South African subject of the Queen would answer a question of this nature?

I cannot be asked to say what a South African would say to a series of hypothetical questions. It seems to me desirable to know what immigrants there are between these territories, and that information cannot be obtained except by asking questions of this kind.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether other Colonies ask similar questions and have a similar need to collect statistical information?

Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, and Zanzibar all have similar legislation about immigration.