HC Deb 30 January 1956 vol 548 cc573-4
1. Mr. Russell

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will take steps to make it easier for British subjects who were born in countries such as India and Burma, when they were under the United Kingdom Government, to obtain passports.

16. Mr. Hyde

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will take steps to simplify the present inconvenient formalities which British subjects who have been born in former parts of the Commonwealth and Empire are obliged to comply with before they can obtain passports.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Lord John Hope)

Since the coming into force of the British Nationality Act, 1948, United Kingdom passports are issued to persons who are either citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies, or British subjects without the citizenship of any Commonwealth country, or British protected persons; and it is necessary to ascertain that an applicant for a passport does, in fact, possess one or other of these qualifications. Persons who are citizens of another Commonwealth country, except those who also possess United Kingdom citizenship, hold passports issued by the Commonwealth country concerned.

Persons born in India, Pakistan and Burma must produce the same documents necessary to establish their citizenship status as persons born in any other foreign or Commonwealth country. There are therefore no steps which my right hon. Friend can properly take, in view of existing legislation, to make the position easier.

Mr. Russell

Has my hon. Friend seen a letter which was published in The Timesrecently showing that a lady who had been born in Southern India at the time when it was under British rule had to produce not only her father's birth certificate but her husband's birth certificate as well, and that one of these at least was very difficult to obtain? Cannot he suggest some means by which documents which are very difficult to obtain, as those might be, can be avoided?

Lord John Hope

I did not see that letter, but I know that sometimes, with the best will in the world, there are difficulties. Where they can be avoided, they certainly will be.

Captain Duncan

Will my hon. Friend look into this again, as there are a number of Irish loyalists, whose fathers were in the I.C.S., who were born in India and are Southern Irish by one nationality and Indian by another but still are British; they are the most loyal subjects of the Crown in India and yet cannot get British passports?

Lord John Hope

I should like to think over that case, if I may.

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