HC Deb 16 December 1982 vol 34 cc465-6
3. Mr. Pitt

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the average length of time for processing applications for naturalisation.

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

It is estimated that the current average length of time from receipt of an application for naturalisation to issue of the certificate is 23 months.

Mr. Pitt

In view of the appalling length of time between a person first applying for and actually getting naturalisation—I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is aware that in some cases it can take three years—will the Minister institute a proper and effective inquiry into the workings of Lunar House and Apollo House and make them efficient?

Mr. Raison

Sir Derek Rayner has produced an extremely useful report on the workings of our nationality system. That is now being implemented.

Mr. Tilley

The British Nationality Act comes into force in a fortnight's time, so there will be many more applications for naturalisation and registration. Has the Minister increased the print order for the various application forms? If not, he has no answer to the accusation that I have heard in many parts of the country and from my constituents that the Home Office can control the flow of applications only by ensuring that the application forms are not available for ethnic minority groups, voluntary organisations and community relations groups which want to give such forms to the people who wish to apply.

Mr. Raison

I cannot say exactly what the print order is, but I am anxious that the forms should be available promptly.

Mr. Dudley Smith

Is my right hon. Friend aware that from time to time I have received complaints about the rudeness and unhelpfulness of the staff in Lunar House, Croydon? Will my right hon. Friend call the Department's attention to that matter? Does he appreciate that cooperation on the part of the staff is always appreciated by the public and that the staff have a duty in that respect?

Mr. Raison

Of course, mistakes may be made. Civil servants, like other people, are not infallible. The staff at Lunar House and Apollo House work under great pressure. Overall, I believe that they do an excellent job.

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