Liberal values and New Commonwealth immigration, 1961-1981
Immigration to Britain from the New Commonwealth began in earnest in the late 1940s and the early 1950s. British governments, both Socialist and Conservative, found the issues raised by such immigration difficult to deal. with. This is evident from the succession of immigration control and race relations measures in the period 1961 to 1981. These dates mark respectively the Parliamentary debates on what became the 1962 Commonwealth Immigration Act and the 1981 British Nationality Act. As such these measures delineate clearly the development of this major policy area. One of the noticeable features of this policy area is the recognition by participants of the existence and importance of values and attitudes characterised by the term "liberal". Such liberal values were commonly associated with opinion formers in a wide variety of institutions, but particularly amongst leaders of the Labour and Liberal Parties, the churches and governmentsponsored race relations bodies. This study examines the values and attitudes of such people and suggests that several themes have been predominant in the liberal response to race politics. Five themes are identified and discussed: a social determinist view of human behaviour together with a desire for rationality, equality, pluralism and community. These themes are examined for evidence of any inconsistencies or conflict of values, both within themselves and in relation to each other. The purpose throughout is not to question or criticise such liberal values; rather it is to study any inconsistencies within them.