§ 47. Mr. William Teeling
asked the Prime Minister in view of the fact that the Secretary of State for the Home Department ceased at the end of 1947 to have the authority under the Emergency Laws (Transitional Provisions) Act, 1946, to decide who shall leave the United Kingdom, and therefore who shall be entitled to a passport, which Minister now decides who can leave the United Kingdom and who is entitled to a passport, and on what authority.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
I have been asked to reply. There is at present no general power to prevent any British subject leaving the United Kingdom. Travellers intending to visit foreign countries are obliged by the laws of those countries to be in possession of national passports; and while it is possible in theory to leave the United Kingdom without a passport, in practice it is virtually impossible to do so. The question whether a United Kingdom passport may be granted is decided by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, exercising the Royal prerogative.
§ Mr. Teeling
Does that mean that British subjects who wish to go to Gibraltar or Malta or to the Dominions have also to have a passport? Is it not true that they can travel without passports?
§ Mr. Morrison
I would not like to answer that without notice. It virtually depends upon whether the country at the other end needs such an instrument to admit them. But I am not sure about that.
§ Mr. Teeling
In view of the right hon. Gentleman's reply, can we take it that passports are the right of British subjects and, therefore, cannot be taken from them?