HC Deb 06 December 1973 vol 865 cc1437-8
13. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will introduce legislation to amend the law on nationality to enable men of foreign nationality who marry British women to obtain British nationality.

Mr. Lane

My right hon. Friend has no proposals in mind for such legislation.

Mr. Hamilton

Will the Under-Secretary of State tell the House whether it will be possible to include such an amendment to the Government's proposed legislation on equal opportunities for men and women? Has his attention been drawn to Resolution 696 of the Council of Europe, which was passed in January of this year, to the effect that spouses of different nationalities should have the right to choose their nationality irrespective of sex—in other words, that each sex should be treated in the same way?

Mr. Lane

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will wait for the Bill on equal opportunities. One possible consequence of what he is suggesting is the opening up of another loophole in the immigration control which men might be able to marry their way through. I hope that he is not advocating such a loophole. We shall be able to debate the matter further on another occasion.

Dr. Glyn

Does my hon. Friend agree that this is a further indication that we should be considering not nationality but the definition of citizenship?

Mr. Lane

Yes. We are doing this. I remind the House that very few foreign and Commonwealth countries confer citizenship on men who marry their nationals.

Dr. Miller

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that this is another example of flagrant sex discrimination? Will he give me one good reason why it should be possible for a British male citizen to marry a foreign girl and for the girl to accept his nationality, and not possible for a British woman to do the same thing with a foreign male?

Mr. Lane

I am not accepting any charges of sex discrimination from a party whose Home Secretary in 1969 reversed a rule so that it would operate against that which the hon. Gentleman is suggesting.