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Colonial British Subjects (Uk Entry)

Volume 527: debated on Wednesday 19 May 1954

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44.

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that substantial numbers of people, mainly without adequate means of support, are arriving in Britain from abroad in search of work; that this is causing public concern; and what steps he is taking to deal humanely with this social problem and, in particular, to ensure that those who fail to find work are enabled to return home.

I understand that some of those who arrive from Colonial Territories either go straight to jobs, or to friends and relatives. Most of them have some means of support. Officers of my Department, in consultation with other Government Departments, do their best to put the remainder in touch with organisations which can help them. Arrangements can usually be made for the repatriation of British subjects from the Colonies who are unlikely to be able to support themselves.

Will my right hon. Friend consider whether territories which impose restrictions on British nationals should have their nationals subject to the same restrictions when they visit this country, so that these matters are dealt with on a reciprocal basis in the meantime?

My hon. Friend is certainly aware of the old tradition that British subjects from any Colonial Territory can come freely to this country. To change from that would be to take a very drastic step, but I assure him that we are aware of the public concern that this matter is causing and that it is receiving very careful consideration.

In view of the fact that many of these men are coming to London, Liverpool and other ports and then drifting throughout the country with no information as to where they are likely to find jobs, could not the Minister set up some sub-department to ensure that at these central points there will be co-ordination of information about jobs suitable for them, so as to enable them to be directed to appropriate places?

This matter involves other Departments than the Colonial Office, but I assure the hon. Member that it is receiving the most careful attention.