HC Deb 10 March 1948 vol 448 cc1211-2
14. Mr. William Teeling

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why former Sarawak nationals are now required to describe themselves as British subjects by annexation, instead of by cession; and what distinction his Department draws between annexation and cession.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Rees-Williams)

Sarawak was ceded to the Crown by the voluntary act of the Rajah and Councils of that territory. For technical reasons connected with the provisions of the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Acts, it was subsequently formally annexed by Order in Council. The Governor informs me that, accordingly, former Sarawak nationals have been asked to describe themselves as British subjects by annexation when applying for passports. Such a description does not appear on passports now being issued.

Mr. Teeling

Can the hon. Member give any reason at all, other than what he has just said, why, the people have been assured that their territory was being ceded, they should now actually be annexed, which is what was happening all along?

Mr. Rees-Williams

What I said I think explains the position quite clearly. Under the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Acts three categories are recognised: British subjects, British subjects by naturalisation, and British subjects by annexation. There are no other categories. Therefore, in order to come within the provisions of the Acts anyone who applies for a passport from Sarawak has to do so in one of the three categories, and the nearest category is the last one. It is purely a technicality.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Will the hon. Gentleman recommend the Government to amend the Act so that this description is no longer necessary, because many people in Sarawak who did not want their territory ceded are now convinced that it was really annexed?

Mr. Rees-Williams

That is another question, which should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.

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