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Chilean Refugees

Volume 931: debated on Saturday 5 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what complaints he has received about officials dealing with the entry into the United Kingdom of Chilean refugees.

There is no record of any complaints about individual officials of the Immigration and Nationality Department or staff of the Immigration Service at the ports.

But as the Scottish adjudicator, a Mr. Aitcheson, has refused entry to several Chilean refugees on the grounds that he considers them to have too Left-wing Socialist views, that they would simply raise the level of unemployment in Scotland and that they should go elsewhere—to Cuba, for instance—will my hon. Friend take steps now to sack this Right-wing, prejudiced lawyer, who quite clearly is not fulfilling his duties and who would be better deported to Chile where he could see at first hand what a Fascist régime is like?

For the information of my hon. Friend, the adjudicators are not officials. That is why I did not deal with them in my first reply. But neither are they answerable to my right hon. Friend for the way in which they carry out their duties. However, I am sure that they are well aware of the very strong and vocal criticism that has been made of them by my hon. Friends.

Although there may not be many justifiable complaints about the officials who handle such cases, will my hon. Friend accept that there is considerable concern that the Home Office itself is somewhat reluctant to process unhappy cases such as these of Chilean refugees with anything like the speed and magnanimity that it should show?

I know that my right hon. Friend has personally looked at this matter very carefully. Every possible effort is made to process the refugees as quickly as possible. I remind my hon. Friend that the system of entry to this country is quite different from that of most other countries in that we authorise entry at the port of entry rather than after the person has entered the country.

But will my hon. Friend accept that, much as I should like to accept that answer, I find it very difficult in view of the cases I have personally raised with the Home Office, particularly the case of a woman whose surname is, I think, Garcia-Rojas, who has now come to Britain and who made an application two years ago? There were long delays in that case and there are in others.

I shall certainly look again into the case that my hon. Friend has mentioned. I can assure him that in approximately the last six months there has been a great speeding-in in the entry of these refugees.