Gerald Kaufman – 1985 Speech on Immigration

Below is the text of the speech made by Gerald Kaufman, the then Shadow Home Secretary, in the House of Commons on 29 October 1985.

I apologise for not being in my place when the Home Secretary rose to make his statement.

The House will wish to thank in equal measure both yourself, Mr. Speaker, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot), without whom the statement would not have been obtained. Even after the right hon. Gentleman’s statement, and the strange letter sent to me yesterday by the Minister of State, the reckless allegations made by the Minister of State remain unsubstantiated.

The Home Secretary appears to be totally confused about the rules relating to visitors. He said that the Minister of State had talked about the right to enter. The Home Secretary talked about the qualification of visitors —he used the phrase “qualify as visitors”—when most would-be visitors have the automatic right to enter unless deprived of it by the Home Secretary. The huge increase in representations from hon. Members to which Ministers have drawn attention proves that the Minister of State is increasingly withdrawing the right of entry from certain categories of visitor.

We totally reject the claim that there has been no change in the way in which the rules are being administered, and we are worried by the Home Secretary referring in his statement to changes in procedure. Will he categorically assure the House that he has no intention of imposing a visa requirement for visitors or limiting the existing rights of hon. Members?

As for alleged “abuses,” they are not abuses at all. If an hon. Member was confined to taking up cases the full particulars of which he knew, as mentioned by the Minister of State in his letter, we should none of us be able to take up social security or income tax cases, because we take up those cases to get the facts. That is so in these cases as well. If an hon. Member—again, as requested and apparently required by the Minister of State — were ​ confined to taking up only the cases of constituents he knew personally, thousands of people in every constituency would never have any cases taken up.

Other allegations made by the Minister relate to relationships between hon. Members. They are matters, if at all, not for the Government, not for the Home Secretary, not for the Minister of State but for you, Mr. Speaker, and the House.
In essence, the allegations that the Government are making add up to a whine about the actions of hon. Members being an inconvenience to the Executive.

But one of the most essential functions of an hon. Member is to be an inconvenience to the Executive. If the volume of representations is a burden to the Home Office and its Ministers, let me make it absolutely clear that the administration of the rules of entry is a burden to thousands of our constituents looking forward to visits from relatives. The Home Secretary looks upon those people as inconvenient statistics, but they are human beings with warm family feelings, and they have the same right to have visits as any other of our constituents. Our efforts to help them may be a great deal of trouble to Ministers, but we are determined to go on helping them, and that is a lesson that the Home Secretary had better learn.

On Thursday, the Minister of State twice asserted that some hon. Members were “abusing their right.” Yesterday in the exchanges in the House he used the word “abuse” three times. In his letter to me he used the word “abuse” nine times. Today in his statement the Home Secretary did not once use the word “abuse.” Instead, he mentioned 23 hon. Members whose cases, he said, were examples of

“the problems that we are facing.”

We want to know clearly and without equivocation from the Home Secretary whether he alleges that hon. Members have been abusing their position. If he says that there has been abuse, we want the names. We demand the names, because hon. Members have the right to defend themselves against charges made by Ministers in this House. Either the Home Secretary provides the names or he resiles from the accusation. If he resiles from the accusation, the Minister of State should resign.

Gerald Kaufman – 1985 Speech on Inner City Riots

Below is the text of the speech made by Gerald Kaufman, the then Labour MP for Manchester Gorton, in the House of Commons on 21 October 1985.

I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on his appointment to his high office and I regret, as I am sure he does, that his first duty in that new office is to come to the House on such a wretched occasion.

Five people have died in sad and savage circumstances, and the first duty of the House today is to send sympathy to those who are mourning Mr. Kammalia Moliedina, Mr. Amir Moliedina, Mrs. Cynthia Jarrett, Police Constable Keith Blakelock and Mr. David Hodge. We send our concern and best wishes for a speedy and full recovery to Mrs. Cherry Groce, a tragic victim of these dreadful events, and to all others—police, firemen, ambulancemen and ordinary innocent citizens—who have suffered injury in disturbances which have included arson, looting and the dreadful crime of rape.

Many have undergone serious financial loss, and I must first ask the Home Secretary what action can be taken to speed up the payment of compensation under the Riot (Damages) Act 1886 and to expand that Act’s scope to take account of loss of income after the riots.

The House will be debating these matters on Wednesday, and I must repeat the anger that is felt on this side at the failure of the Government to provide time, which has meant that the House will have only half a day on each occasion to debate this profound issue and the crisis in southern Africa.
Grave questions arise from these disorders and it is essential that the country receives answers on matters which have caused profound national concern. These relate to the nature of policing during riots, and such questions come from the populations of the affected areas and from the police themselves. What the Home Secretary said today will not allay any of these anxieties. They relate to the relationship between the police and the community, in the inner cities and elsewhere. They include disquiet over the spreading use of firearms by the police, the background to the riots, mass unemployment, especially among teenagers, bad housing, environmental decay and dereliction and racial discrimination.

The Home Secretary boasted today about funds provided under the urban programme, but such sums are only a fraction of the money that has been taken away from these areas in abolished housing subsidy, reduced rate support grant and rate support grant penalties. It is an absurdity that the Home Secretary boasted at Handsworth of the money going to Handsworth when in this financial year alone more money is being taken away from the city of Birmingham in rate support grant penalty than all those sums given over a period of years.

Only two days after the Brixton disorders, in April 1981, Lord Whitelaw, as Home Secretary, announced to the House an inquiry under Lord Scarman to start right away. After the latest riots, however, the Government stubbornly refuse an inquiry. The Police Complaints Authority inquiries do not begin to be a substitute because, as Lord Scarman in his report insisted,

“It is necessary before attempting an answer to the policing problem to understand the social problem.”

It is all very well for the Home Secretary to boast of the increase in police resources under the Conservatives, but he said nothing about the terrifying crime wave from which the county is suffering and which the clear-up rate shows the police are increasingly unable to combat.

The social problem referred to by Lord Scarman has broadened and deepened. in the four years since his report, and the need for action is that much greater. Lord Scarman warned in his report that

“to ignore the complex political, social and economic factors … is …to put the nation in peril.”

Our fear is that, unless the Governments response is much more far-seeing than has so far been demonstrated, Lord Scarman will have been right in his grim warning that

“disorder will become a disease endemic in our society.”

Those are the dimensions of the challenge which we face and which the nation expects us to meet.

Gerald Kaufman – 2016 Speech to Commons on Queen’s 90th Birthday

Below is the text of the speech made by Sir Gerald Kaufman in the House of Commons on 21 April 2016.

This morning, when I was buying my muffin in Portcullis House, I noticed Elizabeth II on the coin with which I paid. However, today is not about the Elizabeth on our coins; it is about the Elizabeth in our hearts. She is of course Her Majesty the Queen, but today is not a royal occasion, even though it is an occasion about a royal. Turning 90 is a marvellous signpost in life, as I hope to experience myself before long. Not long ago, one of my sisters turned 90 and we had a huge family celebration. Today, the national family is celebrating, and that very much includes those in this House.

I remember the celebrations of King George V’s silver jubilee. I was five years old at the time, and I was in hospital recovering from having my tonsils out. I remember the ceremony of the jubilee being broadcast on the wireless throughout the ward. It was very impressive, even to someone of my age. It was respected, but it was remote. Over the generations, Her Majesty the Queen’s family has had its share of vicissitudes, some of which have been handled with greater adroitness than others. However, over the years, Her Majesty the Queen has sustained and increased the potency of the monarchy. That emerges from her own personality and from the fact that she has been brought up to serve and that it is her instinct to serve and to associate.

The basis of these celebrations today is that Her Majesty the Queen has turned the nation into a united family in a way that has never been achieved, or even attempted, by any previous monarch. We are all together, and that is why people feel so strongly about the celebrations and so happy about them. As shown in the photographs of a recent visit by Her Majesty to my constituency, which I have in my house, people are not only honoured to meet the Queen but delighted to do so. They are honoured by the position, but they are delighted by the person, and that is the reason that we celebrate so gladly today. It is not just “Congratulations, your Majesty”; it is “Happy birthday, Elizabeth.”

Sir Gerald Kaufman – 2015 Speech on Syrian Air Strikes

Below is the text of the speech made by Sir Gerald Kaufman in the House of Commons on 2 December 2015.

There is of course absolutely no doubt that Daesh/IS is a vile, loathsome, murderous organisation, and the attack in Paris—the murder of 130 innocent people—could just as well have been in London. The choice of Paris was a retaliation against French activity in its region, but that does not justify our taking action unless it were appropriate, relevant and, above all, successful. These people claim to call themselves Islamic, and the Prime Minister talked about reclaiming Islam from them—they do not own Islam. Hundreds of millions of Muslims throughout the world are appalled by their murders, their beheadings, their kidnappings—all the abominable things they do. But our loathing of IS and our wish to get rid of it, to defeat it, to stop it is not the issue here today. The issue here is: what action could be taken to stop IS and get rid of it? I have to say that I do not see such an action.

The Prime Minister spoke about getting a transitional Government in Syria and about the situation in Syria. I have been to Syria many times. I did so with some distaste as shadow Foreign Secretary, as I met leading officials in the Syrian Administration—I knew they were murderers. They murder their own people. They murdered 10,000 people in Hama alone. I would be delighted to see them got rid of, but they are not going to go. There is talk about negotiations in Vienna, but the assumption that somehow or other they are going to result in getting rid of Assad and the Administration is a delusion. Putin, one of the most detestable leaders of any state in the world, will make sure that because they are his allies and they suit him, action against them is not going to be successful.

What is the issue today? It is not about changing the regime in Syria, which would make me very happy indeed. It is not about getting rid of Daesh, which would also make me very happy indeed. It is about what practical action can result in some way in damaging Daesh, stopping its atrocities, stopping the flood of people who are fleeing from it and stopping the people who are flocking to it, including, sadly, a small number of people from this country. If what the Government were proposing today would in any way not simply or totally get rid of Daesh but weaken it significantly so that it would not go on behaving in this abominable fashion, I would not have any difficulty in voting for this motion. But there is absolutely no evidence of any kind that bombing Daesh—bombing Raqqa—will result in an upsurge of other people in the region to get rid of Daesh. It might cause some damage, but it will not undermine them. What it will undoubtedly do, despite the Prime Minister’s assurance, which I am sure he gave in good faith, is kill innocent civilians. I am not going to be a party to killing innocent civilians for what will simply be a gesture.

I am not interested in gesture politics and I am not interested in gesture military activity; I am interested in effective military activity, and if that is brought before this House, I vote for it. When the previous Conservative Government came to us asking for our support to get rid of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, I, as shadow Foreign Secretary, formulated the policy that led Labour Members of Parliament into the Lobby to vote for that. I am not interested in gestures; I am interested in effective activity. This Government’s motion and the activity that will follow, including military action from the air, will not change the situation on the ground. I am not interested in making a show. I am not interested in Members of this House putting their hands up for something that in their own hearts they know will not work, and for that reason I shall vote against the Government motion this evening.