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Immigration Rules

Volume 32: debated on Thursday 18 November 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish a comparison between the immigration rules of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, France, Germany and the United Kingdom with regard to the entry rights of the husbands and fiancés of settled and citizen women.

No, Sir. The information available about the law and practice in other countries is not comprehensive enough to warrant being published.

As the changes in access set out in the White Paper—which I hope will, sensibly, soon be deferred—are not the result of popular demand within the United Kingdom, they can only have come from popular demand from the Indian Sub continent. Does my right hon. Friend believe that it would be useful to see what the access rules are in that part of the world?

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and I have made it absolutely clear that the reasons for changing the rules for husbands and fiancés is that the changes derive from the creation of the new British citizenship. I accept that information is useful and desirable, but the problem is that, owing to the differences in settled status between different countries, it is hard to put it on the same footing.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is nonsense to suggest that only women overseas are worried about those matters? Women are hard done by in this country and they are waiting anxiously for the changes that the Home Secretary announced to the House the other day.

I accept that British citizen women have made the point that they are anxious for the changes to be brought in.

Germany and France have much more stringent rules for their guest workers than we have for our immigrants. Is it not ironic that one of the considerations in the framing of our new immigration rules should be the fear of an adverse ruling by the European Convention on Human Rights, of which France and Germany are the principal signatories?

It is debatable whether the rules about German guest workers are as my hon. Friend has described. We have proposed the changes to deal with the creation of the new British citizenship.

Will the Minister tell his hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) that a settled person is not a guest worker? No civilised country stops its settled women bringing in their fiancés and husbands.

I can only repeat that it is difficult to draw parallels between the different status of immigrants in different countries.