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Illegal Immigrants

Volume 940: debated on Wednesday 30 November 1977

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I beg to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should be given urgent consideration, namely,

"the Home Secretary's decision of yesterday, first, to extend the terms of the amnesty, introduced by his predecessor in this Government on 11th April 1974, to illegal immigrants who have entered this country before 1st January 1973 by deception of various kinds; secondly, to extend to such former illegal immigrants the right to bring into this country their dependant, now overseas, such as a wife or husband, or children under 18."
The earlier amnesty applied to those who had evaded the immigration control altogether. The present decision should have urgent consideration, because it extends the amnesty to those who gained entry by deceiving the immigration authorities about their identity or entitlement to enter. This deception usually involves the use of a forged or fraudulently obtained passport or other documents, or falsely claiming to have been a dependant of someone lawfully resident in the United Kingdom.

These cases, therefore, involve the breaking of the criminal law and at a time when there is great concern about immigration, it lessens the confidence of people in the Government's will to control immigration, as well as being obviously unfair to those who abide by the rules and do not jump queues.

The additional right to bring in dependants inevitably adds to the problems and responsibilities of local authorities in the crowded immigrant reception areas where there is a shortage of resources—for housing, education and other essential services, as well as serious unemployment. This decision does not help to ease the racial tensions which require urgent solutions to these social problems.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Eyre) gave me notice this morning before 12 o'clock that he proposed to seek an emergency debate on the question of the Home Secretary's decision to extend the terms of the amnesty, announced by his predecessor on 11th April 1974, to illegal immigrants who have entered this country by deception, and, further, giving rights of entry to this country of dependants of those benefiting from this extended amnesty.

I listened carefully to the hon. Gentleman's arguments. The House knows that I do not decide whether this matter should be debated. I merely decide the narrower question whether it takes precedence today or tomorrow over the business set down. I have considered the matter and cannot accede to the hon. Gentleman's request.