The Birmingham Speech and Conservative Party policy

Many members of the Conservative Party tried hard to prove that Powell’s views on immigration were not in line with official Conservative Party policy. However, the Conservative Party’s 1966 Manifesto, Action Not Words, signed by Edward Heath contained the following section:


Ensure that all immigrants living in Britain are treated in all respects as equal citizens and without discrimination.

Introduce a conditional entry system which will control the initial time during which a new immigrant may stay, until permission is granted either permanently or for a further limited period.

Strengthen the arrangements for health checks for immigrants.

Require all immigrants to register the names of any dependants who might at any time wish to join them, so that their numbers will be known. In the case of new immigrants the number of dependants will be an important factor in deciding whether entry will be permitted.

Help immigrants already here to rejoin their families in their countries of origin, or to return with their families to these countries, if they so wish.

Combine stricter control of entry with special help where necessary to those areas where immigrants are concentrated.

Enoch Powell’s three points: strict immigration control, voluntary repatriation, and equal treatment are clearly laid out. Actually, even the 1970 Manifesto, A Better Tomorrow, signed by Edward Heath again, contains these three points.

Race Relations and Immigration

Good race relations are of immense importance. We are determined that all citizens shall continue to be treated as equal before the law, and without discrimination. Our policies for education, health and housing will help to reduce the causes of racial tension. The sooner prosperity returns, the sooner additional resources will be available to tackle the problems of poverty, decay and squalor in our towns and cities. Local authority services are under great strain in many of the towns and cities where large numbers of immigrants have settled. We believe that additional funds should be made available to these local authorities in order that they can deal with these problems effectively without placing heavy burdens on their ratepayers.

We will establish a new single system of control over all immigration from overseas. The Home Secretary of the day will have complete control, subject to the machinery for appeal, over the entry of individuals into Britain. We believe it right to allow an existing Commonwealth immigrant who is already here to bring his wife and young children to join him in this country. But for the future, work permits will not carry the right of permanent settlement for the holder or his dependants. Such permits as are issued will be limited to a specific job in a specific area for a fixed period, normally twelve months. There will of course be no restrictions on travel.

These policies mean that future immigration will be allowed only in strictly defined special cases. There will be no further large scale permanent immigration.

We will give assistance to Commonwealth immigrants who wish to return to their countries of origin, but we will not tolerate any attempt to harass or compel them to go against their will.