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Volume 977: debated on Thursday 31 January 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, further to the statement of the Minister of State, Official Report, 4 December 1979, columns 364–5, if he will state how many male fiances were admitted to the United Kingdom as visitors in 1979.

I am not surprised. Is it not a fact that immigration officers at the ports of entry are reluctant to allow anybody to enter as a visitor if there is even a suspicion of a forthcoming marriage? In view of the statements made by the Home Secretary during the recent debate on immigration, will new directions and new advice be issued to the immigration officers at the ports of entry?

No, Sir. The onus, as always, will be on the passenger to satisfy the immigration officer that he will leave at the end of his visit. I see no need to change the instructions.

Is my hon. Friend concerned about the latest recorded figures of those trying to settle in Britain, which are the highest for years? When does he expect to bring some new, tighter rules before the House?

As I have already said, we intend to publish our final version of the immigration rules in the near future.

Would it not be possible for people entering this country on temporary visits to have their passports withheld and for registrars to be instructed not to marry anyone without a passport?

I shall consider that suggestion and write to the hon. Gentleman. I have my doubts about it.

Is my hon. Friend intending to give a considered reply to the evidence of Lord Scarman to the Select Committee in which he advised that, on the proposal concerning male fiances, we would be in breach of our international obligations?

We have given evidence to that Committee. As I have said, we believe that we have a good case that will stand up to any challenge in the European Court.