HC Deb 04 May 1959 vol 605 cc26-8
42. Mr. S. Silverman

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what representations he will make to the United States Government in the case of Frederick J. Williams, a British subject, now 52 years old, who has lived in the United States of America since he was one year old, who until recently believed himself to be a natural-born United States citizen and against whom a deportation order has been made, although he has never been convicted of an offence. and although all his relations, including his father aged 79, his two brothers, his four sisters, as well as his married daughter and two grandchildren, are resident in the United States of America.

Mr. R. Allan

A report has been received from Her Majesty's Embassy in Washington that an appeal is pending at the court in Cincinnati, Ohio. It would be improper for Her Majesty's Ambassador to intervene before a decision has been handed down by this court. He has, however, been instructed to watch this case closely.

Mr. Silverman

While thanking the Joint Under-Secretary for that reply, may I ask whether his attention has been drawn to the judgment of the United States judge, who felt reluctantly compelled by the then state of American law to make the decision he did; and, in particular, to the following short passage from that judgment, when the judge said: If he is deported to a foreign land where he has no relatives, friends or acquaintances, it appears obvious that it would be still more difficult for him to earn a living during his declining years. The record indicates that the plaintiff had an honest belief that he was a native born citizen. Whatever views he acquired "—

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

I think that the hon. Gentleman is treating us to a somewhat prolonged quotation. If he has a question to ask, it would be better if he put it.

Mr. Silverman

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to ask the Minister—and I should have been finished long ago but for the interruptions—whether his attention had been drawn to a particular short passage from the judge's judgment—about three sentences of it altogether—and, with your permission, I should like to complete my quotation. The judge went on to say: Whatever views he acquired as to the relative merits of different"—

Sir H. Butcher

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I respectfully ask whether other hon. Members will be entitled to give somewhat lengthy quotations in their supplementaries?

Mr. Speaker

The trouble is that I cannot really judge the length of the quotation until it is finished. If the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) says that it consists of three short sentences, then, naturally, I accept his word, and I expect his performance to come up to his word.

Mr. Silverman

I said a moment ago, Mr. Speaker, that the quotation consisted of three sentences and that is what it does consist of. The judge said: Whatever views he acquired as to the relative merits of different types of Government came from our public school system, news media and contacts with native born companions. It was but natural for him to assume that he had the right of freedom of thought, freedom of expression, and freedom of association. Had he been born a year later "— and this is the last sentence: he could not now be banished to a foreign land for exercising those rights. Will the Under-Secretary bear in mind that, whatever may be thought on the other side of the House, we on this side would expect the Foreign Secretary and our Ambassador in America to protect a British subject in the exercise of those rights?

Mr. Allan

I am quite sure that my hon. Friends would have the same sentiments—[Horn. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I have read not only those three sentences but the whole of that judgment. It is a very serious document, but I have already pointed out to the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) that this is not a proper moment to intervene. Nevertheless, my right hon. and learned Friend is aware of the case, and has instructed the Ambassador to watch it carefully.