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parents, and felt that not only as a bond of nature but passionately, were told by immigration officers that they were not the children of their parents and that they would have to appeal and wait. They now find that what they have always said was true--that they know exactly who their parents were--but they will not be able to come here as of right.

We are concerned only with a finite number of people. If we are talking about a fair system that can be sold to inner-city areas and is based on family values, surely it is right that those people should be allowed to come to this country without having to rely on the Home Secretary's so- called compassion.

The test should be free for those who wish to use it. The Home Secretary should allow in those who applied before their eighteenth birthday and who were caught by the age limit. As other hon. Members have said, blood sample testing should take place in different parts of the sub-continental countries, and individuals should not have to face the burden of additional costs when travelling to posts abroad. Those who reapply should be given preference and should be put in an expedited queue. It is outrageous to expect them to reapply, sit in queues and, possibly, wait for nearly two years when their cases are strong and right.

What compensation is the Minister prepared to offer those who have suffered because of the Government's mistake? The Minister and the Home Secretary have deliberately delayed the publication of the report for several months, if not years. The Government should compensate those who have suffered untold misery.

We hear cliches when Members of Parliament come to this forum of the nation and talk about constituents who have been waiting for years to be reunited with their families. I am not saying that the Minister is an absolutely insensitive man. He has shown a degree of compassion that has permitted certain of my constituents to remain in this country. We told him that those people had a proper case, delays occurred, but he eventually allowed them to stay. We are not saying that, as an individual, he is without compassion, but we are saying that the policy is without compassion.

The policy will add to the anxiety and the hardship suffered by thousands and thousands of people throughout the country. If we are talking about having good race relations and improving community relations, we should ensure that we treat everyone fairly. We should treat those who come from India, Pakistan and the sub-continent countries with the same affection as we are now treating our colleagues in Germany, France, Portugal and elsewhere in Europe. We should not let them suffer because we are now part of the European Economic Community, which will, of course, allow millions of people to come here as of right.

The Government had a golden opportunity to act as the midwife for family reunion to those who had long given up hope of ever being reunited with their families. Grudgingly, the Government have admitted that the Alec Jefferies test was correct, and grudgingly, they have accepted the campaigns and the hard work of the voluntary organisations. They have accepted that those organisations were right after all. However, the knife in the back of those voluntary organisations and of all those who

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wait in the queues abroad is the terrible burden of cost that is now being imposed, and the injustice of the age limit. Even at this stage, I appeal to the Minister--as a loving parent--in humanity, in justice and in compassion, to think again.

9.16 pm

Mr. Robert G. Hughes (Harrow, West) : The phrasing of the motion is, to say the least, misleading. I believe that it is designed to be misleading to different groups of the British people. Everyone would accept that tough and fair immigration policies are a necessary part of race relations. It is unfortunate that Members on the Labour Front Bench have sought to mislead different groups in Britain and have in many ways sought to rubbish DNA testing, which can surely be regarded only as an advance in fairness and something that should be welcomed by both sides of the House.

Like many other hon. Members, I wish to concentrate on the last few words of the motion, which concern the effects on Britain of having immigrant populations and people who are black or Asian and British. I believe that that is one of the most important issues facing society.

It is estimated by the Institute of Race Relations that there may be 70,000 racial attacks a year. Certainly, in my constituency in suburban London, I receive a large number of complaints, especially from Asian people, about racial attacks and racial abuse. If we are honest, we will admit that that goes on, but that too many people turn a blind eye to it and just consider it part of the background to British society. But it is not part of that background--such behaviour needs to be condemned at every stage and must be taken seriously. I ask my hon. Friend the Minister to consider one idea. It is not a new idea, but it is one that I believe would make an important contribution towards dealing with the problem. The Metropolitan police need a racial attack squad, just as they have a serious crime squad, a fraud squad and a squad to specialise in any of the areas of crime which need more than local expertise. They need a racial attack squad for serious cases, to give advice to local police forces, to formulate policy and to teach techniques for dealing with racial matters. I am not saying that the Metropolitan police have not made some advances in dealing with racial harassment and attacks, but they can do more, and I would look to them to do more.

Too many people still consider it acceptable to hold racist views. Such views help to categorise black and Asian people, but strong leadership at all levels will help the emerging middle classes in those communities. They will represent the genuine voice of those communities, and we want to hear it. Everyone in a position of leadership should encourage good race relations. We need a drive against discrimination, but not a re-run of discredited so-called "anti-racist" policies. We need tangible measures that will make a difference.

The Government have an enormous part to play. When Government money is used to fund major projects in the inner cities, the work force should be representative of the ethnic make-up of the area. Any company that wanted such funding would soon get the message and would employ a good proportion of black and Asian people if the Government insisted on considering the ethnic make-up of

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the companies, and such people would not merely be employed as building workers--they would be employed throughout the company management structure.

The Government could act much more directly through the Civil Service. They must review their employment practices, not just for the lower grades but for those right at the top. Our record for tailoring our recruitment procedures to the true make-up of the population can only be described as pathetic. It is clear that the Civil Service has continued to recruit the same sort of people in the same old way, without regard to the reality of British society outside the narrow class band from which recruits are drawn. Something must be done about that.

My right hon. Friend was right to praise the advances that have been made in the recruitment of black and Asian people to the police, but the record is not stunning. Given that so few black and Asian people are part of our police force, it is not surprising that the police have difficulty policing some areas. I do not underestimate the difficulties of recruiting such people, but if other countries can manage to recruit large numbers of their minority populations, so can we. The minority communities also have an important part to play in this. Improvements will not be made unless the minority communities desist from actively persuading people not to join the police. If the ordinary, sensible view is to prevail, a recruitment push from inside the black and Asian communities must be mounted against the predictable, damaging and regrettably prevailing anti-police view. Only by such assertiveness from ordinary black and Asian people will the majority learn that, far from fearing minorities, Britain has everything to gain from black and Asian British people playing their part at the centre of our community. The most important ingredient is the contribution that the minorities can make. It is in all our interests to be proud of being British. That means that we must challenge the parrot cry of "Uncle Tom" and recognise that the interests of the majority are not those of a politically motivated minority. It means isolating the extremists. It also means that each black and Asian person should find his role in our society. British society needs their input, not as Asian or black people or as people speaking for a minority, but as individual British people who care about Britain, who care about where they live, and who have a contribution to make and a part to play. This is part of a two-way contract, and no amount of work from one side will make up for lack of effort by the other. The potential rewards for Britain and its people are huge. It is worth the effort not just because of what we can achieve, but because of the consequences of our failure to achieve it.

In common with my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Kent (Mr. Rowe), I wish to dissociate myself from the comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Sir J. Stokes), although I do so for a different reason. I do so because the vision of Britain put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge simply does not exist, probably never did exist and never will exist in the future. It is not right to put forward such an unattainable vision. It is 20 years since Enoch Powell made his powerful but career-ending speech. Many people saw that speech as a self-fulfilling prophecy. It was a callous and deliberately misleading speech which he sought to use as a means of promoting his political career, but it backfired on him--as all who seek to use this issue for their political careers will see it backfire on them.

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9.24 pm

Ms. Mildred Gordon (Bow and Poplar) : The hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes) has done something to put right the shameful speeches that we have heard from many hon. Members on the other side of the House. The Home Secretary said tonight that there must be rules, and we have been talking about people who have every right to come to this country within the rules that this Government laid down. Nevertheless, they were branded as liars, as cheats, as people who were trying to get in here by fraud and, in addition to the humiliation that they suffered in this way, they suffered long separation from their families.

I do believe that if this had happened to white people there would have been a demand for compensation. Anybody who has been wrongfully branded, and their character torn apart in this way, has the right to compensation. Yet, they are not even going to be given considerate treatment, from what we have heard tonight.

My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) is quite right to raise the question of people from the EC countries. Nobody ever says that we are going to be swamped by white Europeans coming to this country, and nobody counts the numbers. But there seems to be a lot of political mileage in appealing to the basest instincts of racists by talking about being swamped and playing the numbers game, when we should be talking about dealing fairly with those families from the Asian sub-continent who have been given a very unfair deal indeed.

It seems that the cases of those who apply for re-entry are not going to be expedited and that those who cannot afford to go through DNA testing will find themselves looked upon askance as though that means that they do not have a valid case, and that is a very grave danger. I also feel that the Home Secretary's example was a very shocking one. He talked of an old woman in this country who had three sons who could well afford to keep her although she was living on supplementary benefit--so why should we allow the sons to come here even though they were wrongly kept out? He said that she should go back to her own country. I find echoes in that of the crudest form of racism--one which says, "Get back to your own country." Surely it is easier for the sons to come and start a new life here, than for the old lady, who needs the care and attention of her sons, and who has been settled here for many years, to be uprooted and to go back to a place where she now has no connections. What kind of compassion and what kind of humanity is that?

I wanted to raise another question, but I feel hesitant to raise it in the atmosphere which has been present in this House tonight. That was a question which no one has raised, about men who sponsor a child whom they truly believe to be their own child and are prepared to take responsibility for that child, and the DNA tests prove that they are not the father of the child. That happens, I am afraid, in families in every country. I do believe that judgment should be exercised, if the male sponsor truly believes the child to be his and he has taken responsibility for that child, and that that family should be allowed to be united and the children allowed to come here.

Ms. Short : Before the pilot study was launched, we were given firm undertakings by the Foreign Office that in those instances, which happen in villages in the Indian sub-continent and, I am sure, in the families of hon.

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Members, there would be honourable behaviour. We were assured that there would be privacy and the whole family would be allowed to come here. I hope that the Minister will reiterate the original assurance that we were given on that point.

Ms. Gordon : We have a very short time and I just want to raise one or two points about the changes in the new immigration rules, to get away from DNA testing, and to talk about how harshly the immigration rules are now being applied and how, strangely, people are often deported on the weekend when they cannot get hold of anybody to help them, and of how sometimes we appear to be cutting off our noses to spite our faces.

I had a frantic appeal from the headmaster of the Cubitt Town primary school about a valuable member of staff who was being told that she must leave because her original permit did not allow her to teach. I had to intervene and fortunately I got that teacher permission to stay ; otherwise, another 30 children would have been without a teacher. Yesterday, Conservative Members did not seem too worried that there would be 1,000 children without teachers in Tower Hamlets. If the children had been the children of English middle-class parents they might have been concerned, but because they were the children of Bangladeshis they were not. Fortunately, that teacher was able to stay. If it had happened on a Friday or a Saturday, as in many other cases, she might have been bundled out of the country and those 30 children would not have had a teacher. I had another case of a Nigerian, a student who had invested a great deal of time, effort and money into studying here. His allowance from Nigeria arrived late so he was late in re-registering. When the money came, he re- registered. Nevertheless, he was told to go and the immigration authorities would not hear any kind of appeal. What is the sense in that? He came here to study, and to take back the benefits of his knowledge to his own country. Why should he be forced to leave in the middle of his studies because of a technicality?

The last thing that I want to point out is the harshness meted out to some families who appeal against deportation orders hoping to win their case and are suddenly informed that their case is lost and are told they have to leave within a few days. No matter if they have children ; they are given no time to inoculate them, no time to find somewhere for the children to live and no time to settle up their affairs in Britain. Nowadays, if one appeals on their behalf for an extension of time, one is frequently turned down.

I hope that the sort of changes that have taken place will be noted and that something will be done to ameliorate the position of those unfortunate people. Not only is it harmful and damaging to them, it is harmful and damaging to the reputation of this country, which once stood high as a country that had compassion, a country where people could find refuge and asylum. Now it is beginning to get a reputation for harshness, callousness and inhumanity.

9.31 pm

Mr. Timothy Kirkhope (Leeds, North-East) : I am pleased to be able to make a contribution to this debate. I should like to pay tribute to all in my constituency, in the

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city of Leeds and in this country who are immigrants or the children or grandchildren of immigrants and who have contributed so largely to the success of Leeds and to the richness of this country. A great many immigrant families live in my constituency and in Leeds. From the highest to the most humble, they contribute at all levels of society. They do so willingly and extremely enthusiastically, and the community responds positively to them. That is the perspective in which race relations in this country today should be put. I am sad about the Opposition motion because it seems so fatuous. It is contrived out of an attempt to whip up feelings--particularly among immigrant communities-- which do not really exist. The leaders of ethnic minorities have told me that they believe it right that this country should have firm but fair immigration controls. Our changes in the rules will make those controls even fairer. Most people to whom I have spoken recognise and welcome that--

Ms. Short rose --

Mr. Kirkhope : I am not giving way, as I do not have much time. I want first to refer to what I believe is a welcome easing of the rules on husbands of women admitted to the United Kingdom for employment. It is nonsensical for the system to work in one way but not in the other. I am delighted at the change because it will remove many of the difficulties that families here have experienced as a result of the imbalance in the way the system works.

So far, DNA testing has proved successful and, interestingly, where it has been used, 86 per cent. of the tests have proved the applicant's position. It is an important and useful test and I know that most of the ethnic minorities in my area welcome it. I am pleased to see that it will now be made available more generally, although it is to be on a voluntary and not an obligatory basis, and I am sure that many people will take it up.

There remains the issue of whether the tests should be subject to a charge. We have heard what the test might cost, and undoubtedly in some cases that will be a considerable disincentive to poorer people. I was therefore interested to hear what my hon. Friend the Minister said about the possibility of legal aid, or some similar form of funding, to assist with testing.

Ms. Short : It is already available for appeals.

Mr. Kirkhope : I welcome that.

Once there is an entitlement, if a test is taken and the results support the entitlement, there must be some financial responsibility. It is simple to say that the test must always be at the applicant's cost, and in general that is probably right, but in some cases it should be possible for some assistance to be given so that the test can be made and something can be proved which would otherwise be more difficult to prove to the authorities. I hope that something will be done about that aspect.

More than anything else, delays in receiving information about confirmation or even rejection of applications for visas cause difficulty to those who wish to come and have every good reason to do so. I often have to deal with delays. Inevitably, it is difficult to get information from overseas because communications are slow, but once the required information has been provided to our High Commissions we should do our best to avoid

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delays and to arrange interviews speedily. If people are not to be given visas, it would be helpful all round if they could be told so speedily. They might accept not getting permission, but they would like to know the position as soon as possible.

Under this Government, immigration rules have always been both fair and firm. The changes will clearly make them even fairer in the eyes of any reasonable person. I therefore find the Opposition's attitude incomprehensible. They were responsible for the introduction of immigration rules when they were in Government because they realised that it was important, not just for the country but for the ethnic minorities, that there should be a limit on the numbers coming in. Now, in a hypocritical fashion which I find ridiculous, they are trying to make out that the Government's rules--which, if anything, ease the position and make it fairer--are somehow appalling and terrible. Their attitude is disgraceful and cynical, and unthinking about good race relations and our standing in the eyes of the world. 9.39 pm

Mr. Alistair Darling (Edinburgh, Central) : Listening to the criticism by the hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Mr. Kirkhope) of the Opposition motion, I could not but be struck by the fact that one or two of his points entirely backed up our criticism of the Government's immigration rules and their announcement on DNA testing. I was also struck by his terminology. He referred to the "immigrants" in his constituency. We would all do well to remember that we are talking about the rights of British citizens. It matters not whether they are white or black ; they are British citizens, and we must always bear that in mind.

We should also bear in mind that the Home Secretary is wrong to imply that we should either accept the Government's laws and rules or accept none at all. We are talking about the ways in which the Government's regulations and the immigration laws affect British citizens, and the central issue is the double-talk and double standards that the Government are applying when dealing with different British citizens. The leaked Home Office document bears that out. Referring to the timing of last week's announcement of the change in the immigration rules, it states :

"we see advantage in combining the two announcements"

DNA and immigration rules--

"thus avoiding two separate rows about immigration issues in quick succession."

That tells us a good deal about the Government's attitude.

Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington) : Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Darling : I do not have time to give way. The hon. Gentleman has not been here for most of the debate.

The Government talk about family unity, but when they are confronted with the spectacle of divided families it is an entirely different story. Asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, Central and Royton (Mr. Lamond) about the rights of those who can now prove their cases through DNA testing, the Prime Minister lashed out--not with the detailed and specific figures that we are used to hearing when she defends her Government's record on the NHS, but with wild figures of 40,000 or 50,000. The Home Secretary has told us tonight, however, that only about 8,000 people are involved.

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Ms. Short : That is the maximum.

Mr. Darling : The Government have reluctantly introduced DNA testing because they know that there is no way around it. Applicants, however, still cannot choose DNA testing at the outset, and we are told that, instead of a simple bureaucratic barrier, a barrier both bureaucratic and financial is to be placed in the way of those who wish to prove that they are related to their mothers and fathers. There has been more double-talk about financing the scheme. The Government say that no announcement has been made, and the Home Office memorandum makes it clear that the announcement will not say how it is to be financed. It states :

"The intention is to make a separate announcement on the funding arrangements shortly before the scheme comes into effect". The scheme is due to come into effect in November. The Government say that they are only now starting dicussions with manufacturers and the rest, but it is abundantly clear that settlement fees will be introduced. I suspect that the announcement will be made when Parliament is not sitting so that we can avoid one of the nasty unpleasant little rows to which the memorandum refers.

Children are being separated from their parents because of the unfair attitude of immigration officers, yet no sympathy is to be shown to over- age applicants who can now prove that they have relatives here. The Government say that, provided they pass four hurdles, "compassion" can be exercised. The document, however, makes it abundantly clear that it is crucial to ensure that that concession remains the exception rather than the norm.

We can see the hardship that this will cause. Let me give an example. A sponsor had a wife and five children in Bangladesh. Four of the children were admitted ; the youngest was refused admission because the immigration officer said that he did not believe the parents. In other words, he said, "You are lying ; this boy is not your child." Can hon. Members imagine how they would feel if told that their children did not belong to them, and that they were making it up? This young child can prove the relationship : it has been proved by DNA testing. Nevertheless, he must reapply and his reapplication will not be considered until 1991. Then he may have to come up against the Home Secretary's "compassion", for the Home Secretary, if he is still in his post, will be holding the line rigorously.

That is what we are complaining about--the unfairness and the double standards. Such standards would never be applied if we were dealing with the children of white parents, or those of parents from a different country. They are being applied only to certain countries, mostly those on the Indian sub-continent. The Government's attitude is blatantly discriminatory, and I am sorry that the Home Secretary saw no problem in it. I am also sorry that he does not understand that most parents regard their children as their children whether or not they are over 18. Someone does not cease to be the child of his mother or father simply because he has passed his 18th birthday. The memorandum makes it abundantly clear that, no matter what is said in public, in private the reality will be quite different and that compassion will be exercised very rarely--I suspect when a horror story hits the front pages of newspapers in order to buy off that problem.

The Home Secretary referred to the fact that the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton) is Mr. Compassion himself. My hon. Friend the

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Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) complained that he had sometimes had to wait for six weeks for a reply. Recently, I had to wait six months for a reply concerning one of my constituents who had been trying to come to this country to study at an Edinburgh college. Mr. Compassion will be unable to solve the problems of people who are wrongly refused entry to this country--people who are over the age of 18 now, but who know that they are related and who have proved their case. It is no wonder that divided families simply do not believe the Government when they claim that they are operating anything like a fair system.

It is the same story when one considers other aspects of the Government's immigration policy. It is interesting to note that the high moral ground is claimed both inside and outside the House when the position of people living in Hong Kong is considered. Those who claim that high moral ground ought to examine some of the other practices adopted by this country in connection with our immigration regulations. Reference has been made to wives who have been denied the right to be joined by their husbands because immigration officers did not believe that their marriages were genuine. After 1992, however, any EC citizen will be able to come to this country with his or her spouse without let or hindrance. Surely British citizens ought to have the same right, no matter which country their spouse comes from.

The same applies to student visas. The Home Secretary said in his memorandum that there had been cases of abuse, particularly in west Africa. Is he telling us that students from America and Australia do not abuse the system from time to time? Why is it that only an American visitor will be able to become a student without having to return to the United States to reapply for entry? A visitor from Bangladesh or west Africa will have to return home and reapply to become a student in this country. There is no justification for such a broad axe approach. It cannot possibly be said that people from one country are somehow pathologically likely to abuse the system, while people from another country will not do so. By its very nature, that is discriminatory.

The Government attempted to nobble the immigration tribunals. They did so quite blatantly, they were found out and it had to be stopped. The Home Secretary referred to our treatment of tourists and visitors to this country, yet if one goes to Heathrow on any day of the week one finds that when immigration officers interview passengers who have arrived here on a plane from New York their attitude is entirely different from the one that they adopt towards passengers who have arrived here on a plane from Dhaka. To begin with, people who arrive here from Dhaka tend to be referred to as immigrants, whereas people who arrive here from New York are referred to as visitors or tourists. I am afraid to say that such double standards are endemic. What is worse, they are enshrined within the immigration rules and regulations of this country.

Does the Home Secretary not realise the hardship that the visa regime causes when people come to this country because they wish to attend a wedding or a funeral? If such a policy were to be adopted towards visitors from the United States and other similar countries, it would not be

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tolerated. However, the Government are quite content to adopt such a policy in the case of visitors from the Indian sub- continent and certain African countries.

The Home Secretary suggested in his speech that the Opposition are trying to rake up trouble and prejudice. He should have listened to some of the speeches that have been made by Back Benchers on his own side of the House. We heard this evening a remarkable speech by the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Sir J. Stokes). When we discussed the immigration rules a few days ago, the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Janman) made a speech that was racist, pure and simple. To give him credit, the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes) said as much. However, the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex, did not say that. He thanked the hon. Member for Thurrock for his contribution but said that the hon. Gentleman had gone a little further than he yet wanted to go.

I hope that tonight the Minister of State will join his hon. Friends the Members for Mid-Kent (Mr. Rowe) and for Harrow, West in repudiating what was said by the hon. Members for Halesowen and Stourbridge and for Thurrock and make it clear that their attitudes and views form no part of this Government's policy--if that is the case. Perhaps someone should tell the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge that 250 million to 300 million people will be able to come to this country, if they wish to do so, after 1992 and that nobody will be able to do anything about it once the single European market is in place.

Let us not hear any talk about prejudice or any belittling of our motives in initiating the debate tonight. The Government must realise that the way in which the immigration rules strike at the rights of British citizens is intolerable. If we say that we live in a truly multiracial society, we must realise that all British citizens are entitled to fair treatment. The treatment that is meted out to some of our citizens simply would not be tolerated if it were happening to white people in Britain. The front pages would be full of outrage and Ministers would be standing at the Dispatch Box full of outrage, putting to right the rules that were found to cause offence. Yet that does not happen, despite the way in which the immigration rules are working.

To the Tories, families may be statistics and refugees may be unfortunate problems ; but to the individuals involved, parents separated from their children and children who wish to look after infirm or aged parents, it is not a matter of statistics. It is a matter of decency that should concern everyone in the House. The Government simply do not realise that. Conservative candidates say all sorts of nice things and smile at constituents when they are wooing support before an election, but they should remember that the way in which the Government's rules and regulations operate cause a manifest injustice to British citizens in this country. If we are going to claim the moral high ground, the Government should start by accepting that mistakes have been made and injustices have been caused and must be put right if they are to claim to be a decent and humane Government.

9.51 pm

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Tim Renton) : We have had a useful debate, although we have just listened to a speech of extraordinary ignorance by the hon.

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Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling). It was particularly wrong of him, as a lawyer, to make the comment that the Government had attempted to nobble the adjudicators. He knows that that is incorrect and has been answered in a parliamentary answer to him.

Mr. Darling : Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Renton : I shall not give way as I have only nine minutes left. The hon. Gentleman should not make such comments.

Mr. Darling rose --

Mr. Renton : I must move on.

I want to thank my hon. Friends and all those who have taken part in the debate. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Kent (Mr. Rowe) for his tribute to the immigration service for the conscientiousness with which it implements decisions throughout the country and at our consulates abroad. Those decisions are taken by Ministers and by Parliament and the immigration service has a very difficult role to fulfill. In answer to my hon. Friend's concern about the delays in dealing with marriage cases, through the speeding up of the backlog--a constant wish of mine in the past two years--we have admitted an extra 1,200 spouses or fiance s into the country in the past 12 months. They got their entry clearance through the speeding up of the process.

All those changes in our procedures and determinations to speed them up were voted against by the Labour Opposition. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Mr. Kirkhope) was also concerned about that, and I must stress that, as a result of those changes, the backlog on immigration cases had fallen from about 75,000 to about 30,000, and I hope that it will fall further in the 12 months ahead. The hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) should remember that every time he talks about the chaos at Lunar house. In the light of the changes that we have made and the dent that we are making in the backlog, I sincerely hope that soon--perhaps tonight--the hon. Gentleman will vote for rather than against our changes.

I share the concern expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes) about racial harassment in our towns and cities. I note with great interest his comments about further recruitment of blacks and Asians into the police force. I know that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will agree with those sentiments and I hope that he will have a chance to pursue those remarks on a different occasion, perhaps in a debate about the police.

To my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Sir J. Stokes) I must say that I agree with his remark about Britain's generosity in admitting immigrants. That was a necessary concomitant to our imperial and colonial responsibilities, but immigrants have not come only from the Commonwealth--we have had large numbers of refugees from Vietnam, Chile, Uganda and Poland. Like my hon. Friend, I welcome the success of those immigrants, most of whom are now British citizens, and I wish them well in moving towards integration into our society.

My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East said that he was pleased that 86 per cent. of people who had recently taken the DNA test had passed it. In some measure, I am surprised that the figure was not 100 per

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cent. as they all volunteered to take the test. My hon. Friend should remember that. One would expect that if they volunteered to take the test they would all pass it. It is significant that so many have recently taken and passed the test.

Against that background, I completely reject the charges of double standards and injustice in our treatment of the DNA process. I reject the comments by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central that we reluctantly introduced DNA testing. The reverse is true. The Labour party should occasionally listen rather than utter its traditional cries of racism, bias and double standards. Over the past month, we have accepted the results of hundreds of DNA tests.

Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West) : Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Renton : I will not give way to the hon. Gentleman. He had an Adjournment debate on the subject last week, and I have nothing to add. We have accepted the results of the test--

Mr. Madden : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of State has four minutes left to tell hon. Members what they most want to know. How will the DNA scheme be paid for?

Mr. Speaker : Order. The Minister--

Mr. Madden : Will he--

Mr. Speaker : Order. The Minister will not have a chance to do that.

Mr. Renton : I was about to reply to that point. As I said in answer to the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) and the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan), we do not propose that the cost should be borne by the taxpayer. We intend exactly the opposite--that the cost should be spread between the generality of applicants for entry clearance. We are working out with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office a proper means of achieving that and, as I said in the debate two weeks ago, we are discussing the cost with the companies involved. As soon as we have reached a decision, an announcement will be made to the House. I was surprised when the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) so firmly said that he intended to abolish the primary purpose test. He well knows that that test was introduced by the Labour Government in 1978 and that it was aimed against marriages of convenience. Why did the Labour Goverment introduce it? It was aimed against plain abuse of marriage for immigration purposes.

Mr. Short : Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Renton : The hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) was probably working in the Home Office at the time and will know precisely why the Labour Government introduced it. They introduced it to stop abuse.

Ms. Short : That is a totally different matter.

Mr. Renton : We subsequently introduced--

Ms. Short rose--

Mr. Speaker : Order. One at a time.

Column 407

Mr. Renton : The primary purpose test was introduced to ensure that marriage was not used as a means of obtaining settlement in this country.

The right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook, with one of his big gestures--

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