HC Deb 20 January 1949 vol 460 c316
21. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations why the United Kingdom High Commissioner for India has sent circulars to a number of British subjects of European origin asking them whether they wish to be included in a record of potential citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies; and whether this action was taken on his instructions.

The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker)

In view of the coming into force of the British Nationality Act on 1st January it is the duty of the United Kingdom High Commissioners in India and Pakistan to register those persons whose acquisition of United Kingdom citizenship will depend on registration under Sections 6, 7 and 12 (6) of the Act. It will, moreover, be desirable, for such reasons as the issue and renewal of United Kingdom passports, to have on record as full a list as possible of all United Kingdom citizens in those Dominions, even if their citizenship is not dependent on registration. For these reasons, I instructed the High Commissioners to take steps to bring the provisions of the Act to the notice of British subjects of European origin and to invite them to submit evidence of their qualifications for United Kingdom citizenship.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that whatever the reasons for this action, the intimation to people who have always regarded themselves as citizens of this country that they are now to apply to be regarded as potential citizens has come as something of a shock? Will the right hon. Gentleman instruct the High Commissioners to present the matter to these people in a somewhat more helpful and lucid manner?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I greatly regret the shock, if there has been one. The phrase is a technical one arising out of the Act. I hope that my answer will serve the purpose which the hon. Gentleman has in view. I will also see if there is anything more that I can do.