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Park Royal Estate

Volume 987: debated on Thursday 3 July 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has had regarding the co-ordinated visits to the Bestway cash and carry and other premises in Park Royal Estate on 13 May by police and immigration officers.

We have received letters from the right hon. Member himself and the hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Pavitt) and from the Camden committee for community relations; and my right hon. Friend has, of course, received the delegation led by the right hon. Gentleman.

Will the Minister bear in mind that, whatever comes out of his right hon. Friend's consideration of the representations made by the deputation that I took to him recently, it is unacceptable in our society that there should be blanket raids involving the arrest of large numbers of innocent people in order to bring to justice those who are in breach of the law and that it is equally unacceptable that any system of passport control for identification purposes should be introduced into our society. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] It is the introduction of identity cards and it paves the way to a police State eventually.

My right hon. Friend made clear to the right hon. Gentleman that in carrying out such operations there is a need to strike the right balance between any possible damage to community relations and the need to enforce the law. May I make clear that no blanket raids have been carried out.

May I also make clear that there is no need for anybody to carry a passport with him. The only people who need worry about our immigration laws are those who are in breach of them.

How many of those apprehended during the raids were found to be here illegally?

The figures vary, but of 37 people taken to the police station in the Bestway raid, nine were found to be in breach of the law or charged with being so. At the Main Gas operation, more than 20 people were found to be in breach of the law or charged with being so.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the damage that was done to good race relations in my constituency as a result of the raid on the Main Gas factory in Edmonton?

What advice does the Home Secretary propose to give to my innocent constituents about the sort of documents that they will have to carry in future if they wish to avoid the distressing experiences suffered by other innocent constituents of mine as a result of the raid on the Main Gas factory?

I do not think that the raid carried out in the hon. Gentleman's constituency can be criticised in the way that he has implied. On the other hand, my right hon. Friend has made clear that he is reviewing the way in which such operations are carried out.

Will my hon. Friend not agree that if all those people who were suspected of an offence had an identity card, they would be able to show the identity card as soon as the police saw them and subsequent arrests would be unnecessary?

It might be true, I suppose, that an identity card would serve that purpose. On the other hand, the introduction of identity cards into this country would represent a major step.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of certain parts of the hon. Gentleman's reply, when he misrepresented to the House that there was no blanket raid, I shall seek leave to raise the matter on the Adjournment.