HL Deb 15 March 1923 vol 53 cc409-10

My Lords, I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether 19,293 aliens, not having abandoned their foreign nationalities and being allowed to retain their foreign passports, have been granted certificates by the Government of Palestine entitling them to vote in the recent Palestine Elections, and how many such aliens have voted.


My Lords, when it was decided in August, 1922, that steps should be taken in the direction of forming a Legislative Council in Palestine which should consist of elected as well as official members, it became necessary to decide who should be qualified to vote in the Elections. Simultaneously with the Palestine Order in Council an Electoral Order in Council was passed on August 10, 1922. This Order provided that every male Palestinian citizen over twenty-five years of age should be entitled to vote at the primary Elections unless he were subject to certain disqualifications. One of these disqualifications was that the individual concerned claimed to be under foreign protection.

No person will technically have the status of a Palestinian citizen until a nationality law has been passed in Palestine; but for the purpose of this Electoral Order and pending the introduction of an Order in Council regulating Palestinian citizenship the following persons were deemed to be Palestinian citizens:— (a) Turkish subjects habitually resident in the territory of Palestine at the date of the commencement of the Order: (b) All persons of other than Turkish nationality habitually resident in the territory of Palestine at the said date who should, within two calendar months of the said date, make application for Palestinian citizenship in such form and before such officer as might be prescribed by the High Commissioner.

In the case of individuals applying under (b) all that could be done was to require from them a statutory declaration at the time of their application to the effect that they intended to apply For Palestinian citizenship when this became possible. Such a declaration was tantamount to a renunciation of any claim to foreign protection, so far as the individual was concerned, even though it might not technically remove him from the protection of his Government. I have inquired of the High Commissioner how many individuals applied for provisional certificates of nationality and how many provisional certificates were in fact given. I am expecting to get the information within the course of the next few days and F shall take an early opportunity of informing my noble friend of the result of my inquiry.


Can the noble Duke tell we whether people who are not of Turkish nationality have to hand over their passports when they have made their declaration? That is the salient point—whether they have to hand over their passports to the Palestinian Government and so deprive themselves of the nationality they had when they entered Palestine.


I am afraid I am unable to answer my noble friend, but I will make inquiries on that point as well.