HL Deb 22 July 1958 vol 211 cc69-71

2.35 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government if, where an officer of the Colonial Service remains in a territory after it has achieved independence and has a child which is born in that territory, there is any difference in the treatment of that child from the treatment accorded to a child born to the same officer in England by any other territory in the world as regards (a) immigration, or (b) employment; if so, what the difference is and whether officers of the Colonial Service are made aware of this fact before they are asked to stay on in territories which are about to become independent.]


My Lords, this is a most complicated question, and I am not sure that I can give an intelligible answer. As I understand it, the noble Lord's Question is directed to ascertaining the treatment accorded by other Governments, including foreign Governments, to the children, born in Colonies, of officers of the Colonial Service. He will appreciate that it is not possible for a United Kingdom Minister to give an authoritative answer to the question of the treatment foreign Governments would in all circumstances grant to such children. The position under United Kingdom law, however, would be that if the father of the child in question was himself a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, by reason of his birth in the United Kingdom or a Colony, the child would be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, wherever born. If the father of the child was himself a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies only by descent, and not by reason of his birth in the United Kingdom or a Colony, the position of the child would depend on the place and date of birth.

I would rather not elaborate on this Answer, but I will, of course, do my best to answer any inquiries the noble Lord may address to me on particular cases. For this purpose I should need to know the place and date of birth of the father and the child.


My Lords, while thanking the noble Earl for the care and attention which has been given to this reply, may I ask, for reasons which are obvious, why it is not possible for the births of British children, in the circumstances named in my Question, to be registered at Somerset House? If that were done, it would obviate the difficulties which have arisen in many cases as to their treatment, either when they wished to emigrate later, or when they wished to enter, it may be, Canada, America or some other country. I should further like to ask, if there were reasons in the past why such births could not be registered at Somerset. House (I understand, in passing, that they are so registered in the case of children of members of the Diplomatic Service), why it is not possible now to have the births of British children of British parents, born in such circumstances, registered at Somerset House?


My Lords, the answer to my noble friend is that arrangements already exist in India, Pakistan and Ceylon for the registration by United Kingdom High Commissioners of the births of United Kingdom citizens. The intention is to extend these arrangements to other Commonwealth countries where Colonial Service officers are employed, and I will see that that is done.


My Lords, thank the noble Earl. I am sure that that assurance will be very much appreciated in the Colonial Service.


My Lords, I think that my noble leader, from his Answer, led us to believe that this applied to all people, not only those in Government service, because, of course others besides members of the Colonial Service are concerned.


My Lords, I was dealing with members of the Colonial Service. If we are to extend the question I think I should need notice.

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