§ 63. Sir JOHN RANDLES
asked the Home Secretary whether, following his letter of August last, he has seen his way to advise a reduction in the fees charged on the naturalization of aliens, with a 524 view to making the qualification for naturalisation a question of character and conduct, rather than ability to pay a high fee?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member for Mid-Lanark on 17th July last. I agree with the hon. Member that character and conduct are two of the leading considerations in determining the eligibility of an applicant for naturalisation, and the investigations in these cases are directed chiefly to these points; but I am unable, as my predecessors have been unable, to find in these facts any ground for thinking that the present fee ought to be reduced.
§ Sir J. RANDLES
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his predecessor, the present First Lord of the Admiralty, was understood by a large proportion of the electorate to make a promise in 1908 which would have had the effect suggested in my question?
§ Sir W. BYLES
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware, and if so, will he give it effect, that his predecessor, Lord Gladstone, gave almost a pledge to a large and important deputation from Manchester and Salford, that the naturalisation fees should be reduced? Is he also aware that there is now a very large population of Jews in Manchester and Salford, many of them poor men, who would become British subjects but for the prohibitory nature of the naturalisation fees?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I am not aware of any pledge of the kind referred to. As regards the cost, I would remind the hon. Member that if the fees were reduced to any material extent, the cost of naturalisation would exceed the amount charged.