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Volume 979: debated on Thursday 28 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a statement on illegal immigration.

The Government take a serious view of circumvention of the immigration control, whether by illegal entry or by breach of conditions imposed on lawful entry. Extensive measures are taken by the Immigration and Nationality Department, including the Immigration Service, and by the police to trace evaders of the control; the effectiveness of the machinery for this purpose is kept under continuing review. Substantial powers exist for dealing with people found to have flouted the immigration laws. The courts may impose substantial penalties and may recommend deportation. Except where in individual cases there are powerful arguments against it, the Government will not hesitate to make full use of the powers available to remove offenders from the country.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether immigrants who are allowed entry under the new immigration rules being dependants over 65 years will be entitled to retirement pension, supplementary benefit or free medical treatment; and whether they have the right to bring in their dependants, for example children under 18 years of age.

The immigration rules do not directly govern eligibility for the matters mentioned in the first part of the question. These are matters for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services. The new rules do, however, state that the sponsor must be able to maintain and accommodate his dependants without recourse to public funds and that he should give an undertaking in writing to this effect if requested—though this requirement does not apply to the admission of the wife or the child under 18 of a Commonwealth citizen who has the right of abode or was settled here on the coming into force of the Immigration Act 1971. In the case of the children of elderly dependants there is the additional requirement that the sponsor must be able to maintain and accommodate not only his parents or grandparents but also any other relatives who would be admissible as their dependants.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his policy regarding the entry of polygamous spouses.

The matter is being kept under review but, as my hon. Friend knows, the extent to which the entry of such wives can be controlled is limited by the interaction of the primary legislation on immigration and nationality with the law on marriage.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will set up a system so that for each port of entry and embarkation and centrally for the whole of the United Kingdom figures are kept on a monthly basis for the recording of the numbers of persons travelling according to country of last embarkation for those entering the United Kingdom and country of first destination for those leaving the United Kingdom.

No. Such a system would involve disproportionate cost. The Office of Population Censuses and Surveys in its international passenger survey has, since 1964, collected data on a sample of all passengers including information on the country of last residence of incoming passengers and the country of destination of passengers embarking.