HC Deb 18 October 1945 vol 414 cc1343-7
9. Miss Rathbone

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has considered the need for altering the present practice of granting British nationality to British-born women married to enemy aliens, unless personally unsuitable, while refusing a similar privilege to British-born women married to aliens of allied or other nationalities; and whether he is aware of the resentment caused by this discrimination.

Mr. Ede

The Act passed by Parliament in 1918 provides for the readmission to British nationality of women married to aliens who are the subjects of a State at war with His Majesty; and if this statutory provision causes resentment to women who are married to aliens of other nationalities, I do not think this is a reason for refraining from giving effect to the law and exercising the discretion vested in the Home Secretary.

Miss Rathbone

Cannot the right hon. Gentleman consider the introduction of a short Bill, which would pass without opposition, to right this injustice, particularly as three or four other countries have now done so, including Russia?

Mr. Ede

The difficulty is that the status of British citizens has to be determined not only by this country but by the Dominions. There have been negotiations in the past which have indicated where there was controversy, and we might have difficulty in getting some of the Dominions into line on this matter.

An Hon. Member


Mr. Collins

While my right hon. Friend is waiting for those arrangements to be made, can he see to it that these unfortunate British-born women married to aliens, and now living in France and other countries, are enabled to receive Red Cross parcels?

Mr. Ede

I do not think that that matter arises out of this Question.

Mr. Maclay

Is the Minister not aware what this matter means to a large number of Scottish girls who married Poles? May it not affect the attitude of a number of Poles on the question of going back to their own country?

10. Miss Rathbone

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he can state the future policy regarding naturalisation of aliens, especially whether hope of naturalisation will be given to those who cannot safely or happily repatriate themselves, who have served creditably in the British or allied forces or done useful work in establishing refugee firms or as workers for these or for British firms, as nurses, domestic workers, teachers, doctors or other learned professions, or have acquired British wives and children, or on whatever other grounds of utility or humanity which make such a claim reasonable.

16. Captain George Jeger

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is prepared to offer immediate naturalisation to aliens of good character who served in His Majesty's forces during the recent war.

17. Mr. Lipson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now give favourable consideration to applications for naturalisation from aliens who have served during the war in His Majesty's forces.

27. Mr. Haydn Davies

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the policy of His Majesty's Government with regard to the granting of British citizenship to present and future applicants.

34. Colonel Dodds-Parker

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the present policy of the Government with regard to nationalisation and settlement of alien refugees in this country, and whether it is intended to modify this policy in any way in the near future.

37. Mr. Dumpleton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if sympathetic consideration can now be given to the applications for naturalisation of refugee aliens who have served loyally in the British Armed Forces, or who have performed useful service to this country in civilian occupations.

Mr. Ede

I hope to make a statement on future policy at an early date.

Mr. Lipson

Is the Minister able to make a statement of policy that these men, upon demobilisation, shall not be required to submit to the humiliation of having to register as enemy aliens and of being subject to restrictions?

Mr. Ede

I do not think I can give that pledge, but I hope to make this statement at a very early date. I have it very urgently before me.

Mr. Driberg

Will my right hon. Friend be careful not to make these important statements in answer to Questions which may not be reached orally?

Mr. Ede

Of course I can give no pledge of that kind, because everything depends upon the numbers of the Questions. I would not like to hold up the answer to a Question merely because my numbers happened to be very high ones that week, and I might, if circumstances warranted, ask for the permission of Mr. Speaker that the Question be asked although it was not reached. I have no desire to avoid making a statement to the House in a form which will enable supplementaries to be put.

Colonel Dodds-Parker

Before making the statement, will the right hon. Gentleman take into his confidence other Governments in the English-speaking world so that the burden shall not be confined to this already overcrowded island, but shall be spread over a larger area?

Mr. Ede

That is one of the points which are constantly before me when I am considering this matter.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

Will my right hon. Friend remember that, if these islands were not overcrowded at the time when we accepted these people, they would be considerably less overcrowded now?

Miss Rathbone

I want to give notice, in view of the importance of this matter and the widespread interest taken in it, that I will raise the matter on the Adjournment unless the Home Secretary's statement is made in a form which admits of debate. That applies to all my three Questions.

25. Mr. Haydn Davies

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many aliens have been granted British citizenship since 3rd September, 1939; and on what grounds.

Mr. Ede

Naturalisation was suspended except for certain special categories of applicants in 1940. Since that date there have been 4,030 cases of re-admission to British nationality, mostly cases of British-born women, and 676 other cases, which include some minors, who, though British by upbringing and association, were not British subjects in law, French nationals dealt with under the special provisions in Section 4 of the Act of 1943 and 70 cases where there were special reasons in the national interest for the immediate conferment of British nationality despite the general policy of suspension.

26. Mr. Haydn Davies

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many aliens were on the waiting list for British citizenship when naturalisation was discontinued; and how many have applied since.

Mr. Ede

When it was announced that naturalisation had been suspended there were 6,428 applications outstanding. Since suspension 7,158 further applications have been received. There are in addition many prospective applicants who considerately refrained from troubling the Department with applications, after the announcement of the general suspension of naturalisation was made in November, 1940.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

Would it not be a good idea to start naturalisation again? Is there any particular reason against it?

Mr. Ede

The staff in the Nationality department of my office is totally inadequate at the moment to deal with the tremendous rush of business that would occur if naturalisation were re-opened generally now.

Sir T. Moore

The longer you wait the more there will be, according to the right hon. Gentleman's own statement.