§ 69. Mr. Yates
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in view of the case, particulars of which have been submitted to him, of a demobilised alien ex-Serviceman, who had served in His Majesty's Forces for 5½ years and who, after submitting his naturalisation application on 25th March, 1946, had not been selected for interview by the end of December, 1946, he is satisfied with the method of dealing with such applications; 1102 and if he will take steps to speed up the procedure in dealing with applications for naturalisation.
§ Mr. Ede
I find that arrangements had already been made for this applicant to be interviewed early next month. It has been the desire of the Government that applications from Servicemen and ex-Servicemen shall be dealt with as rapidly as is consistent with proper inquiries, and valuable assistance has been given by the Service Departments. The Inter-Service Naturalisation Board has already reviewed over 4,000 cases out of a total of 7,000, and I hope that it will be possible to deal with the balance within the next few months. The figures which I gave last Thursday show that the rate at which certificates of naturalisation are granted has greatly increased, and it is still increasing.
§ Mr. Yates
Will my right hon. Friend take into consideration the great hardship caused to ex-Service aliens through their inability to get permits quickly, and to obtain employment? Many have made great sacrifices, and I hope my right hon. Friend will consider that point with a view to speeding up this procedure.
§ Mr. Ede
I cannot promise the House that in this matter I can proceed much more speedily than I have been doing during the last two or three months. The figures I gave last week indicated that in the last half of 1946 approximately three times as many people were naturalised as in the first half. Naturalisation is a privilege, and I am bound to take the view that competent investigation must take place. I think that the record I gave last week indicates that we are now proceeding at as great a speed as possible, having regard to the security problems which are involved.