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United Kingdom (Entry Visas)

Volume 22: debated on Thursday 22 April 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have been refused permission to visit the United Kingdom since May 1979.

Between 1 May 1979 and 31 December 1981 some 15,000 Commonwealth citizens and 32,000 foreign nationals were refused leave to enter the United Kingdom. Separate figures are not readily available to show how many of these were seeking entry as visitors.

If this is supposed to be a free country, why are visas being persistently refused to certain North Koreans who want to visit this country? Whatever our views may be on the North Korean regime, is not that exclusion carrying non-recognition too far, especially in view of the oft-repeated assertion that the recognition of a Government does not necessarily mean approval of their policies and the fact that the North Korean Government have been a de facto Administration in that part of the world for over a third of a century?

The question of the recognition of a country is not for me. The Government of North Korea are not recognised by Her Majesty's Government. Persons holding national passports issued by such Governments are not given permission to come to the United Kingdom unless their admission is in the public interest or unless there are compassionate features.

Over the same period, how many people who have been admitted to this country as visitors have subsequently stayed on, in contravention of the conditions of their admission?

As I am sure my hon. Friend will appreciate, it is not possible to give the precise figures of overstayers.

Is the Minister aware that there is increasing distress and resentment among families, particularly among Asian families, who believe that their relatives are being refused permission to visit this country to attend weddings and funerals? Is he further aware that those families now realise that the Conservative manifesto that they may have read in May 1979, which said that there would be special support for the family, was a cruel hoax?