The first clause of the Aliens Bill was under discussion
in Committee during nearly the whole of Tuesday's and Wednes- day's sittings. Under this clause immigrants (subsequently defined as alien steerage passengers) are not allowed to land in the United Kingdom from immigrant ships except at ports where there is an officer appointed to inspect them ; and this distinction between cabin and steerage passengers was vigorously attacked by the Opposition as unlikely to be effective in excluding undesirable aliens. During the
debate the Home Secretary admitted that individual aliens could not be prevented from entering unspecified ports,—a damaging admission which led Major Seely to retort that if the infiltration of undesirables could not be checked, the Government had better sacrifice a clause only calculated to harass shipping companies. Mr. Akers-Douglas further promised concessions to prevent the Bill from incon- veniencing immigrants from America to Ireland. Daring the discussion of the Government amendment allowing immigrants to be landed for inspection, Mr. Ascitfith declared that he would undertake to steer a whole fleet of immigrant ships full of undesirable aliens through the clause; but on behalf of the shipowners Mr. Renwick expressed gratitude for the conces- sion, and the amendment was agreed to with a rider moved by Mr. Emmott providing that inspection should take place as soon as possible after the arrival of the ship in port. Before the adjournment an amendment providing that instead of the proposed Board a judicial authority should be con- stituted to deal with cases as they arose was moved by Mr- Atherley-Jones, and defeated by 189 to 145.