HC Deb 18 December 1980 vol 996 cc537-8
5. Mr. Tilley

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he intends to discuss the Nationality Bill proposals with the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Timothy Raison)

Since the publication of the White Paper on British nationality law, I have discussed the proposals with members of the commission, and, in addition, our officials have attended meetings of the commission to explain the proposals and answer questions. The commission has also presented its views to us in writing.

Mr. Tilley

Will the Minister see the commission again, because it is quite clear that recent consultation by the commission with ethnic minority groups has revealed that there is grave concern about the effects of the White Paper proposals? In particular, they fear that a severe racial disadvantage will be created if children born in this country are not automatically British citizens. Will the hon. Gentleman therefore see the commissioner and at least withdraw that proposal from the Bill before it is published?

Mr. Raison

I am always willing to see the CRE and the chairman of the commission. As for the proposal, I ask the hon. Gentleman to await our proposals.

Mr. Marlow

According to a report in The Times today, it seems that the CRE has been trying to bring together the various ethnic minority organisations in a national front against the Government putting forward this proposal, which was in the manifesto submitted to the British people. Is that in order?

Mr. Raison

I think it is in order. I think that the CRE has considerable freedom of action. However, there is a claim going about that our proposals are in some way racialist. Since the majority of them were canvassed in the last Government's Green Paper, if our proposals are racialist so were theirs. They are not, in fact.

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