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Mr. Harry Cohen (Leyton) : That is an excellent point. Is not the position worse than that? Is there not an opportunity for entrapment? The immigration officer may ask, "Would you like to study?" The immigrant may reply, "Yes, I would. I would not mind if I had the chance." That person is trapped, whether he intended to study or not.
Recently, I came across the case of a person who was supposed to have made an admission that false representations had been made. When I spoke to the immigrant, it was clear that the command of English was not adequate and the conversation was conducted in Yoruba. Because of that conversation in Yoruba, it became clear that the admissions that were supposed to have been made to the immigration officer in English were unsustainable. If there had not been an intervention on that occasion, the system of supervised departure would have been used and the issue of administrative
custody--detention without trial--would have been raised. The system is deliberately geared so that where there has been even a minor criminal offence, no charge is brought because, if it were, the immigrant would at least have access to a magistrates court and an application could be made for bail.
I condemn the heartless and brutal refusal of temporary admission by the Minister of State, except in what he calls exceptional compassionate circumstances. A family in my
Column 297constituency may have saved for a lifetime to spend thousands of pounds to bring two or three members of the family to this country for a two or three-week holiday. Those people may not be admitted on a temporary basis because the immigration officers say that there are no exceptional compassionate circumstances. That shows heartlessness. In recent changes, the Minister has prevented us, as Members of Parliament, from making direct representations on such matters. I condemn the failure to humanise the operation of the primary purpose marriage rule, which creates an absurdity. If a spouse wants to remain in the United Kingdom, he or she cannot do so, but if they do not want to remain in the United Kingdom, they can do so. That is the absurdity of the primary purpose rule. The judges cannot make sense of it, and seem to lack the courage to expose its absurdity. However, when Mr. Justice Henry recently eroded the harshness of the primary purpose rule, the Home Office immediately sought to undermine his judgment by writing to the president of the immigration appeal tribunal.
It is clear from the cases now before the courts and the tribunal that incontestably genuine love-match marriages-- [Interruption.] Right hon. and hon. Members on this side of the House happen to believe that love in marriage should not be the subject of scorn, though it might be the subject of consideration by a future chairman of the Conservative party. Genuine love matches are being frustrated by the artificial residence test. The rules are harsh and increasingly are being heartlessly applied. I shall vote against the motion.
Mr. Peter Thurnham (Bolton, North-East) : I listened carefully to the speech of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling) in the hope that he would clear up some of the anomalies and confusions surrounding Labour's immigration policy. We know that Labour are pledged to repeal the legislation that they themselves enforced when in power, when the number of immigrants entering this country was as high as 80,000 per year. However, he neither did so nor answered the questions that were asked of him.
The remarks of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central contrast with the Government's action in enforcing existing legislation and with the positive rule changes that are the subject of the debate--which I welcome, and which will reduce abuses and allow genuine applicants to enter the country under a fair and firm policy.
I shall give three examples, two from my own constituency, that demonstrate Government policy in action. I believe that I was the first Member of Parliament to organise the entry into this country of a constituent's son by use of DNA testing. I inherited from my opponent in the 1983 general election a large file on a constituent named Mr. G. M. V. Patel and his son Ishaq. Despite exhaustive inquiries in my constituent's home village in India, no evidence could be found to allow his son's entry to Britain, although Mr. Patel was adamant that he was a true son of the family.
I visited the Home Office and discussed the case at great length with the then Minister of State, Home Office, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Waddington), but no decision to enter could
Column 298be reached. I then read about the work of Professor Jeffries at Leicester university, and after I wrote to him the Patel family arranged for Ishaq to undergo DNA testing. There was a long wait while the Home Office evaluated the long odds that were arrived at by Professor Jeffries, and then great joy when it was announced on 24 August 1986 that, although Ishaq was over age, he would be allowed entry. I am grateful for the Home Office's handling of that case, which illustrates that it applies policy in a firm and fair way. I thank my hon. Friend the Minister for the way in which other cases have been similarly dealt with.
Although I have had no personal experience of Kurds wishing to enter this country from Turkey, the grandson of one of my constituents, an Iranian, was imprisoned in Turkey. My constituent came to see me because her grandson was about to be returned to Iran, where he would face immediate execution. Less than 30 days remained to deal with that case, but with the help of Prisoners Abroad, whose present director is a former hon. Member of the House, Mr. Keith Best, the case was put to the Home Office sufficiently well to allow that individual to enter Britain and to escape the almost certain execution that would have been his fate in Iran. That is another example of the way that the Home Office implements existing legislation fairly and firmly, and allows entry in genuine cases. My last example is rather different : it concerns Hong Kong, which must be very much in our minds. We must do all in our power to press for Hong Kong's plight to be treated as an international problem, and urge the international community to bring all possible force to bear on China both to improve its internal policies and to respect the treaty drawn up in 1984. We must, however, adopt towards Hong Kong the same policies that we adopt towards all other aspects of immigration, and keep our minds open to the genuine needs of genuine cases.
I have just received a letter from some people whom I visited when I was in Hong Kong two years ago, at a remarkable establishment known as the Home of Loving Faithfulness Fellowship. It is run by two ladies, Wendy and Valerie, who had set up a home to care for severely handicapped Chinese children whose families were unable to look after them. They had arranged for a number of adoptions so that children could leave Hong Kong and find homes elsewhere. The letter says how worried they are about the present situation. Although they have British passports, they feel guilty about that distinguishing them from others with whom they work. One of them has been away for 27 years, and they feel that they have no home in the United Kingdom. The letter ends :
"Our own plans are just to go on doing what we have been doing for 24 years here in this beautiful little place called Hong Kong." I ask my hon. Friend to see that as an example of the need to keep an open mind about what is happening in Hong Kong and to put maximum pressure on all other members of the international community to make the Chinese understand exactly how we feel about their domestic situation, and about the importance of their respecting every line of the 1984 treaty.
Column 299discussion between many of us and the Minister of State--being lumped in with a general discussion on immigration rules. I think that DNA deserves a separate debate apart from the Adjournment debate that my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) has obtained for the early hours of Thursday, and I hope that that can be arranged.
The rule changes that we are discussing mark, in most instances, a further tightening of the screw--a process that began with the introduction of visas for five countries and continued with the provisions of the Immigration Act 1988. Now we see a complete ban on nationals of visa countries switching from temporary admission--mainly as visitors--to student status, which further reduces their rights as against those of non- visa nationals. We also see rules aimed at preventing Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin from obtaining asylum in Britain, although, having been nerve-gassed by Iraq and hounded by Iran and Turkey, they are among the most persecuted peoples in the world, and the most deserving of the right of asylum. Under the rules, only Turkish Kurds who escape to a third country can be considered for asylum in Britain, and that must be a tiny handful of those who need it.
I feel that we have a right to relate these rules to our constituency experience, and I wish to raise two specific issues with the Minister. First--although I feel that the issue of Hong Kong should, and undoubtedly will, be debated separately--let me say that we can have little faith in the Government's ability to deal with the problems of three and a third million Chinese in Hong Kong when a woman in Pakistan can obtain neither consistency, compassion nor speed in her application for a visa to visit a grandchild born in Bradford.
The first of the issues with which I want to deal relates to asylum for Sri Lankan Tamils. Last Wednesday my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon) asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs the following question :
"Is the Minister aware that three out of five Tamil refugees who were forcibly returned to Colombo in February 1988 have been tortured? What do the Government intend to do about that?" The Minister replied :
"I am sure that if the hon. Lady can substantiate her assertion we will draw it to the attention of the Sri Lankan Government."--[ Official Report, 14 June 1989 ; Vol. 154,c. 890.]
It is proper to draw the matter to the attention of the Sri Lankan Government, but is it not time that it received the attention of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Home Office? Are we to believe that they are unaware of the circumstances of the case? Are the Government unaware of the fact that the five male Tamils arrived separately in the first half of 1987, that all five were refused the right of asylum and the right of appeal, that while awaiting deportation their case was taken to judicial review in the High Court on 25 September 1987 and that their appeal was rejected, that on 12 October 1987 their appeal against that decision was upheld in the Court of Appeal but that it was again reversed on 16 December in the House of Lords? The five were then deported. Under the ridiculous rules that now apply, after their deportation they had the right to appeal against the refusal of asylum in this country.
Column 300This case--the first of its type--was heard on 16, 17 and 18 January of this year. The appeal of all five was upheld, but they have still not been given the right by the Home Office to come to this country and take up their asylum. The Minister is aware of the fact that Amnesty International has produced conclusive proof that three of the five were tortured. The Government sent them back to Sri Lanka. They would not allow them to appeal here. They are responsible for the torture of those people.
Mr. Renton : The hon. Gentleman knows very well that we do not accept the decision of the adjudicator. We have been give permission to apply for a judicial review of the matter. That is taking place. I am very surprised that the hon. Gentleman makes detailed allegations and comments upon the case without waiting for the final decision of the court.
Mr. Wall : I am sure that the three Tamils who were tortured in the gaols of Sri Lanka will be as reassured by the Minister's comments as he hopes that hon. Members will be, but I am sure that they have not been reassured.
In a recent judgment Mr. Justice McCowan found that the Home Office had unfairly treated Miss Amarasingham. Mr. Justice McCowan therefore asked the Home Office to review her case. I hope that the same decision--to continue fighting the case until this girl is deported--will not be taken in her case.
One of the most quoted remarks of Karl Marx is that
"History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce." I am afraid that I must refer to a farcical case in my constituency. A well-known cricket club in my constituency, Undercliffe cricket club, runs an exchange scheme with Australia and New Zealand and brings over to this country young cricketers from those two countries. The scheme is run by three prominent local business men who are connected with the Undercliffe cricket club. They invite teenage youngsters from Australia and New Zealand to Bradford. They stay with them at their expense and play cricket for that club, at a level depending on their ability on arrival. In April this year they invited an 18-year-old man called Schofield Hewitt from Barbados. Schofield did not understand that he did not need a visas, so went to the consulate in Barbados, and asked for a visa. When he was told that he did not need a visa he became a little uptight and an official stamped his passport, "Visa not granted". When he arrived at Manchester airport, quite reasonably the immigration officer questioned the stamp on his passport. One of the three Bradford business men was called in as Schofield's sponsor. He explained the situation and, quite reasonably, the immigration officer at Manchester airport agreed to grant temporary admission and transferred the case to Leeds-Bradford airport.
Leeds-Bradford airport claimed that he needed a work permit. He is not Leary Constantine, Manny Martindale or Ernest Achone--all West Indian Test cricketers who made the Bradford league, brought enormous pleasure to Bradford people and raised the level of Yorkshire cricket. By bringing young Schofield Hewitt to Bradford, we were only repaying our debt to West Indian cricket. He did not need a work permit and he was deported, despite the fact that he had a return ticket and did not need a visa and despite the fact that Australian and New Zealand youngsters who were white and came from richer backgrounds were allowed to play for the Undercliffe cricket club.
Mr. Renton : I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way to me for the second time. I do not want to delay the House, but it is a very great pity that he did not apply to the Department of Employment for a work permit or come to me for advice. Cricketers coming to Britain temporarily need work permits and are given work permits. We deal with them all the time at the beginning of the cricketing season without any problem.
Mr. Wall : My experience as a Member of Parliament was that when I phoned the Home Office and asked for a stop on the case I was told that it was not urgent or important enough. I wrote to the Minister on 25 April and I am still waiting for a reply. When a young, white New Zealander playing rugby for Bradford and Bingley rugby club overstayed, he was told he could stay on without a work permit because he was playing rugby union and he was white.
The case is a mirror of the unfairness of the Home Department and of the completely inefficient way in which it operates. Young Schofield Hewitt was taken to Manchester airport by one of the three members of the Undercliffe cricket club. He was told when to get there and he arrived with his sponsor 10 minutes early, obeying the laws of the land, to discover that the plane had left two hours earlier. That is typical of the way in which the Home Department is run, its inhumanity and its inefficiency.
Mr. Gary Waller (Keighley) : First, it is welcome that a consolidated version of the rules has been published. It is difficult for practitioners to work with rules which have been amended, sometimes in a quite complicated way, nine separate times. I hope that consolidated rules will be published more often.
I wish to say a few words about over-age applicants and the use of discretion by my hon. Friend. Many applicants who are now over age still reside in Bangladesh. Some of the applicants are over age essentially because their applications were turned down 10 or more years ago. In almost every case, their applications were turned down for reasons of family relationships. As the House knows, documentation in Bangladesh is sparse. To some extent, some applicants or their sponsors brought the problem on themselves because there were false claims for tax purposes for families who did not exist.
Be that as it may, because of DNA testing, it is now possible to prove once and for all whether applications at that time were justified. I understand that, of the DNA tests that have been carried out, 86 per cent. have proved conclusively that the applicants were related as claimed.
It is a matter of natural justice, if a claim failed for that and for no other reason, that those applications should be processed as speedily as possible. In some cases, applicants have waited a long time--many years-- for their cases to go through. Even since the DNA test was carried out, they have had to wait a considerable period. Applications should be dealt with in such a way that there is a presumption that discretion will be exercised in their favour unless there are clear reasons why that should not be the case.
I hope, therefore, that, although this matter is not spelt out in the rules, my hon. Friend the Minister will exercise his discretion fairly. I would find it difficult to explain to my constituents why, if a claim failed many years ago because of the lack of DNA testing at that time, they
Column 302should still be turned down now that it is available. I hope that, when considering such cases in future, my hon. Friend will deal with them compassionately and speedily.
Mr. Paul Boateng (Brent, South) : The debate has been redeemed by the speech of the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Waller) and by the intervention of the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes). One of the most unpleasant aspects of this measure is the way that it brings to the surface all that is basest in our country, and no baser speech could have been made tonight than that by the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Janman). It was vile and venomous in every respect. To suggest for one moment that the birth of a black child in this country is somehow a cause of concern is contemptible beyond belief. The Minister must reflect on the emotions and attitudes that measures such as this cause to rise to the surface. It is a squalid and unnecessary measure, and it has been introduced in a shroud of subterfuge from the Home Office.
Two aspects of the changes in the immigration rules give rise to particular concern. The first relates to students and the terms and conditions on which they may enter and remain in this country and the proposals that are contained in the rules in respect of them. It is worth looking at them in some detail. Underlying the thought that seems to have gone into this measure, particularly this aspect of it, is a common misconception by the Government and the Home Office, which is that the whole world is just dying to converge on the United Kingdom and that every black, brown and yellow person wants nothing so much as to live in the United Kingdom. [Interruption.] One can see from the instant recognition by Conservative Members that that is seriously what they believe. [Interruption.] They honestly believe that we are going to be swamped. That phrase is resonant, because it was with that phrase that, at a stroke, the Prime Minister the right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) sought to capitalise on the racist vote back in 1979. Ever since, we have been living with the legacy of that. Every so often, with an unerring and knee-jerk reaction, the Home Office feels the need to expel from its bowels measures of this nature. It is particularly unpleasant.
I am glad to see the Minister's nose curl up in distaste. My nose and those of many hon. Members curl up in distaste whenever we have to deal with the immigration rules. That happens whenever we are obliged to deal with the Minister and his officials because all these rules stink and the racism behind them stinks. We have good cause to turn up our noses in the way that we do.
Mr. Jeremy Hanley (Richmond and Barnes) : The hon. Gentleman talks about the racist Government since 1979. He must admit that since 1979, over 500,000 people have been given permanent settlement in this country, the majority of whom have come from the Indian sub-continent, from the West Indies and from other parts of Asia and Africa, and there have been 30,000 refugees. Is that not a record of which we should be proud? If we were a racist Government, nothing like half a million people would have been allowed permanent settlement since 1979.
Column 303it in terms of our standing in the world. We must redeem it as a matter of urgency, which is why my hon. Friends and I oppose these rules.
Let us consider the issue of students and the change of status. We say that what is proposed is unfair because of the way in which it discriminates between visa nationals and non-visa nationals. The Government have not produced a shred of evidence to show that there is more likely to be abuse from visa nationals than from non-visa nationals. If there were such evidence, they would be in a position to produce it.
The Minister must know what the impact of these measures will be on genuine students. They will have to leave Britain and return to their countries of origin before being able to apply for entry clearance. They must be aware of the temptation to overstay that that will cause. They must also appreciate the disincentive that measures such as this, being unjust and oppressive, will provide to genuine students to come to this country.
I do not take any heart from the fact that it will be more difficult for students from west Africa and from the Indian sub-continent to come here to study, because all experience--one need only consider the commercial and diplomatic links between our country and those countries, in particular since the movement for colonial freedom began--shows that Britain benefits from students coming here. Despite that, we have imposed a series of increasingly restrictive immigration rules on them, and we have imposed charges in the form of overseas fees that are unconscionable and cause great hardship. Why have we done that? We have done it to keep out a few-- the Home Office does not have the figures--would-be overstayers, a handful of those who would undoubtedly abuse their right and permission for entry. Consider the cost to us of that policy in terms of our reputation overseas, our moral standing and our self-interest resulting from fostering links between students which in turn benefits our commerce and international relations. There is nothing in these measures in relation to students that is in any way warranted. Indeed, the honest student is penalised by the rules. They represent disincentives to comply with them and they are harmful in every way.
Mr. John Carlisle : Will the hon. Gentleman agree that the position of honest students who want to come here to study has been prejudiced by those--however few they may be, and I accept what he says about that--who overstay? Will he further agree from his constituency experience, which by now must be considerable, that some stay on and claim to be students, thereby prejudicing the chances of genuine students who want to come here?
Mr. Boateng : I do not demur from that in any way, save to say that the scale of the abuse does not warrant the measure and that the measure goes over the top and is not merited by the problem that is faced.
In perpetuating a discriminatory measure between visa and non-visa countries, the Government are identifying certain countries in west Africa and the Indian sub-continent--and everybody who comes from those countries- -as a problem. Hon. Members of all parties must have noticed that as a result of that discriminatory tendency more and more countries that are not
Column 304visa-national countries are becoming tainted in the same way. In my constituency experience, I have noticed that those who come from Jamaica are treated as though they are visa nationals. There is therefore a quickening of discrimination and disadvantage in the way in which the rules are administered.
I should like a clear undertaking and assurance from the Minister of State that he will look into the experience of Jamaican nationals currently seeking to come to this country, because there is evidence that they are being treated in a discriminatory way by the immigration service and by the Home Office generally.
Another most important matter is the question of the imposition of a visa requirement on people from Turkey.
Ms. Clare Short (Birmingham, Ladywood) : On the subject of students, has my hon. Friend noticed that the new rules contain a provision that male students are allowed to bring their wives and children to this country, provided that they can all maintain themselves, but that female students are not? Does he agree that it is outrageous that talented women from around the world might win scholarships to our country, but that they are not allowed to live with their spouses and children when men are allowed to do so? Does my hon. Friend not suspect that that is illegal under the European convention on human rights?
Mr. Boateng : It is outrageous, sexist and seemingly in contravention of international law. We look forward to hearing from the Minister of State the advice that he has received so that he can assure the House that we are complying with international law in these rules which seem to fly in the face of the relevant convention.
The imposition of visas on people from Turkey has a particular impact on asylum seekers because--this reality is disguised in the Home Office press statement--it is no comfort for people to be told in the statement that
"the imposition of a visa requirement will not stop any Turkish national who qualifies for admission under the Immigration Rules from entering the United Kingdom"
because, as the Minister of State knows, asylum seekers from abroad are not covered by the immigration rules which make no provision for disputed asylum claims other than those made within the United Kingdom.
I see that the Minister of State is anxious to reply to the points that have been made in the debate so perhaps he will answer this one. One has very much in mind the advice that the Minister has received from his officials that he should seek to speak at the end of the debate. That advice was given to let the Minister off the hook. Well, we do not intend to allow him off the hook so easily.
In conclusion, perhaps the Minister will get his mind around the edition of Echo Sounding, the newsletter that is circulated to all entry clearance staff overseas, which dealt with the position of refugees and asylum seekers, and tell us in what circumstances it will be possible for someone coming from Turkey successfully to obtain asylum in this country. While he is at it, will he also tell us why all callers to Latchmere house today, who were seeking information about Kurdish asylum seekers, were told that the office was not able to give any information and why they had their queries referred to the press office at the Home Office? Will he make a statement about what Kurdish asylum seekers are experiencing at this time, which their lawyers
Column 305and friends may not be told? Perhaps he would tell us. It is no use the Minister nodding and smiling benignly because we know what lies behind that face.
In relation to the Hong Kong potential refugees whose fate has been ensnared in the debate, in the past few days Dame Lydia Dunn has said :
"I believe that the British people will wish their Government to do the honourable thing."
I have no doubt that that is what the British people wish their Government to do, but in this measure, as in so much else, the Government have failed to do so.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Tim Renton) : Unfortunately, the hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng) has left me extraordinarily little time in which to answer either his questions or those asked by other hon. Members. In the eight or nine minutes available to me, I shall do my best to answer the serious questions raised in the debate.
I start by saying that it has been a strange debate. From the protestations of the hon. Members for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling), Norwood (Mr. Fraser) and Brent, South one would have thought that we were introducing earthshaking changes in the immigration rules ; we are not. The rule changes that we have laid before the House are modest. They include two extensions of the visa requirement, to Turkey and to Haiti, and two main changes of general application. One represents a tightening of our immigration control--the prohibition on visitors from visa countries switching to being students after entry.
The other change is a relaxation of our immigration control. Needless to say, that has not been mentioned by any Opposition Member in the debate. I refer, of course, to the fact that we are now enabling a woman working here to be joined by her spouse and children under 18, just as wives and children can already come to join a man working in the United Kingdom.
The rule changes that we are introducing in the new consolidated rules will maintain the effectiveness of our immigration control. They are consistent with our policy of operating a system that is both firm and fair.
Doubtless the Opposition will vote against the improvements just as they have voted against all the improvements of the last two years. What then would be their course of action? We now know from the Labour policy review what Labour immigration policy would look like. It would be unfair. It would be full of loopholes. It would encourage bogus applications. It would give comfort to those who are acting illegally and it wouldlead--
Column 306rules and should not be taking up valuable time that other hon. Members could have used by talking about Labour party policy? He is supposed to be dealing with the rules.
Mr. Renton : This is a disgraceful filibuster by Opposition Members. They know that their immigration policy is full of holes. It would lead to a substantial increase in immigration and they do not want it discussed.
I should like to thank my hon. Friends who have spoken in the debate. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Mr. Janman) for his support for our immigration rule changes, although he would like them to go further than I would at present.
Mr. Darling rose --
I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Thurnham) for his kind remarks about cases that we have dealt with in the Home Office. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Waller) for his remarks, particularly about the DNA tests. We shall be debating DNA testing tomorrow night in an Adjournment debate that has been initiated by the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden). As the issue does not arise in the rule changes, and as time is short, I propose to leave my remarks about it for tomorrow night.
Mr. Madden : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is outrageous that the Minister is saying that he is leaving his remarks on the DNA testing scheme, which the Government deliberately made part of this debate, for an Adjournment debate that I shall introduce tomorrow night.
Mr. Renton : I have come to the conclusion that the opposition are interested only in wasting time on immigration. They are not prepared seriously to discuss immigration changes. The hon. Member for Bradford, West is the worst offender. He will introduce an Adjournment debate tomorrow on DNA testing and yet he is insisting on talking about matters that are not in the rule changes that are before the House.
Mr. Madden : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Minister has made a good case for the Government providing further time to debate the DNA testing scheme. The matter is part of this debate--it was deliberately made so by the Government--and the Minister has not responded to the remarks which have been made about the scheme. I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to consult Mr.
Column 307Speaker and to arrange a separate debate at a reasonable hour so that hon. Members can comment on the proposed scheme.
As for our intention to introduce a visa requirement for nationals of Turkey, I must tell the House--
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. I appeal to the House. These are not genuine points of order. The debate can continue for only a few more minutes. I hope that in the limited time that is available to it the House will listen to the Minister's reply.