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India And Pakistan (Migration To United Kingdom)

Volume 649: debated on Thursday 23 November 1961

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asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations what restrictions have been imposed by the Governments of India and Pakistan on migration to Great Britain; in what way and to what extent these arrangements have broken down; and what consultations he has had about strengthening afresh these voluntary arrangements.

The Governments of India and Pakistan have adopted a number of measures to discourage the emigration to Britain of persons who are illiterate or who have no jobs to come to. It is, I think, generally recognised that these measures, taken in India and Pakistan, cannot be fully effective without complementary measures at this end; and this cannot be done on a voluntary basis.

Does that Answer mean that, before the Government decided on the Bill and presented it as a fait accompli to the Commonwealth, they made no attempt whatever to bring India and Pakistan, for instance, round the table to discuss the strengthening of the voluntary measures which have been in operation so far? Did they just give up at this point and decide to present them with a Bill whether they liked it or not?

As I said in my Answer, measures have been taken by the Governments of India and Pakistan to discourage emigration to this country.

It is all very well for the hon. Gentleman to shake his head. I am trying to answer his question. Perhaps he will listen to me.

Measures have been taken. We consider, and I think the Governments of India and Pakistan consider, that the measures go about as far as it is possible to go on a voluntary basis at one end only. I will give the House the figures in regard to India and Pakistan for the first nine months of this year compared with the same period last year. In 1960, immigrants from India totalled under 4,000. The figure for 1961 is over 15,000. For Pakistan, in the first nine months of last year, 1,000; this year, over 16,000. Obviously, the measures are not fully effective and, as I said before, I think it is recognised that some corresponding measures are necessary at this end.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is not possible to say that those measures are not sufficient unless he has evidence of substantial unemployment among Indian and Pakistani people in this country? Has he any such evidence?

The purpose of the Bill—I do not want to trespass on the broad debates which are taking place—is, of course, not to exclude people from particular countries but to take the necessary powers to be exercised according as the need may arise, to keep the flow of immigrants within bounds.