HC Deb 23 October 1972 vol 843 cc768-70
15. Mr. Dykes

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is his latest estimate of the potential number of United Kingdom passport holders in former British territories, other than Uganda.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Reliable figures are impossible to obtain, but the best estimate we can make on the information available is 255,000. I will, with permission, circulate details in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Dykes

Although this obviously excludes Hong Kong, which is still a British territory, and although none of us would wish to foresee another crisis along the lines of the Ugandan Asian crisis, will my right hon. Friend undertake to discuss the question of British passports, which are increasingly anachronistic, with the United Nations and with the Commonwealth, because one can never be exactly sure that such a contingency will not arise again?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

I will consider my hon. Friend's suggestion. We have very orderly arrangements with Tanzania and Kenya and we have reason to believe that the Governments of those countries wish to maintain those. I hope that there will be no danger of a repetition in the immediate future of what we have been through. We always keep this matter very closely under review.

Mr. Callaghan

I have no doubt that in 1954 when passports were conceded it was thought that there was no likely danger of the promise needing to be kept in such numbers. Does not this large potential influx of over a quarter of a million point to the need to go back to the basic question of considering citizenship as the basis for entry and residence in this country? Would it not be better if we were to review once again the Act which was passed last year, when this principle was raised from both sides of the House, and try to determine it so that we avoid getting into these tangles?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The right hon. Gentleman had the opportunity of doing this. I have said that we keep these matters under review.

Mr. Ridley

Is not the difficulty about this situation that the option appears to be open for such a long time? Will my right hon. Friend enter into negotiations with the countries concerned to see whether the option can be terminated in time?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

We can and will review all these matters. It is not desirable at this moment to make statements about these matters. We are in the middle of a very tricky operation with the Ugandan Asians. I can only note what my hon. Friend says and promise that we will keep this matter under very close review. The figures I have stated have been known for a good many years. They have not varied. I have made the latest possible check. The figure varies in only small degree from what was said a year or two ago.

Mr. George Cunningham

In view of the exaggerated statements which have been made about Britain's potential obligations in respect of the so-called Queen's Chinese in Penang and Malacca, will the right hon. Gentleman consider making a statement making completely precise what Britain's obligations are in respect of dual citizens holding both Malaysian and United Kingdom citizenship in Malaysia?

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Yes; I will certainly do that.

Following are the details: The estimated numbers of people with no other citizenship, who are subject to control under the Commonwealth Immigrants Acts and who are resident in former British territories are:
Kenya 50,000
Tanzania 20,000
Zambia 6,000
Malawi 13,000
India 25,000
Pakistan 1,000
Malaysia 110,000
Singapore 30,000
There are also small groups resident in other countries throughout the world. It is impossible to estimate their numbers but they are unlikely to be large.
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