Employment of coloured people

Note sent from W. Clark, the Commonwealth Relations Office representative on a Home Office Committee to Mr Morley, also of the Commonwealth Relations Office, 1st February 1954 (DO 35/5216)


Mr. Morley

Employment of Coloured People in U.K.
Reference Cabinet Paper C (54) 34 by Home Secretary

The Home Secretary’s paper summarises in two pages and a bit what the Working Party took twelve months and twenty pages to say, namely that there is little or nothing that is practicable or politically expedient to be done about this.

2. I served on the working Party on a personal basis and, now it has reported, gladly complete the assignment by passing its final report to you (attached).

3. The Home Office Chairman of the Working Party took the view that it was not the Working Party’s function to indulge in recommendations. It should merely investigate, set out the facts and put the arguments for the Home Secretary’s consideration. But, as the Home Secretary’s paper states, the following were in escapable conclusions:-

(1) It would be out of the question to discriminate openly against coloured people;

(2) It is not practicable to prevent coloured people obtaining employment once they are here;

(3) Such administrative action as is been possible has already been taken to discourage them from coming;

(4) There is no effective means of stopping the influx without legislation to control the immigration of British subjects and to deport them if necessary;

(5) Such legislation would be a complete break with the traditional freedom of entry into the U.K. for British subjects and, also, lay a very heavy burden on the authorities concerned.

Therefore, and since (a) there are only about 40,000 coloured people in the U.K. (b) the rate of entry currently is only 3,000 a year, and (c) no sufficiently evil consequences have yet appeared, the Home Secretary does not consider legislation, directed against immigration of British subjects, justified.

With this view I trust the Secretary of State will concur.

4. The Working Party did, however, draw attention to one aspect of the matter which, in its opinion, justified action. It suggested that powers should be taken enabling the deportation of the “bad hats” e.g. Maltese and Cypriots convicted of living on immoral earnings and West Indians and West Africans who have been on National Assistance for, say, 10 consecutive years. But the Home Secretary is averse even from this.

(1st February, 1954)

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