HL Deb 03 March 1964 vol 256 cc31-3

3.50 p.m.

Debate on Second Reading resumed.


My Lords, may I now resume the Second Reading debate on the British Nationality Bill. I should like to start by thanking both noble Lords who have taken part in this debate for the welcome which they have given to this Bill, for which I am grateful. I think that all that remains for me to do is to answer the questions that have been put to me. I am grateful in particular to my noble relative for having given me warning of some of the questions which he was likely to put. If I may deal with those questions first, I think his first was: are there any other Commonwealth countries besides Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda which prohibit dual citizenship? There are. Other Commonwealth countries whose laws contain a complete prohibition of dual citizenship are Ceylon, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, and Trinidad and Tobago. The laws of Ghana and Malaysia provide that a person may in certain circumstances be required to renounce his other citizenship.

The second question which my noble relative asked was: can we estimate the number of citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies living in the various Commonwealth countries where dual citizenship is prohibited? It is estimated that the numbers of citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies of British origin living in Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda are 60,000, 15,000 and 8,000 respectively. Estimates for the other countries are not readily available, I am afraid. It is, of course, not possible to say how many of these people already possess, or may wish to acquire, citizenship of the country in which they are living and thus be obliged to renounce their citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies.

The last but one question my noble relative asked was: are any dependent territories which will achieve independence in the future likely to prohibit dual citizenship? Citizenship is one of the matters discussed when a territory is about to achieve independence, and it is not possible to say in advance of such discussions whether the law of a particular territory will prohibit dual citizenship; but if it does, the provisions of this Bill will automatically apply to persons who are, as a result, obliged to renounce their citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies.

There was one more question, I think, relating to Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland and possibly Southern Rhodesia. Southern Rhodesia is no problem, because it has its own citizenship law which does not require United Kingdom citizens to renounce their citizenship if they possess it in addition to that of Southern Rhodesia. Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland do not yet possess separate citizenships. When they do, the provisions of this Bill will come into play if their laws should follow the example of Kenya and Tanganyika in prohibiting dual citizenship. The Bill is so drafted that it will apply to the situation created by any Commonwealth country which requires United Kingdom citizens to renounce their citizenship, whether such requirement derives from past or future law.

The two questions asked by my noble friend Lord Alport were, first, whether there was some discrepancy between the Explanatory Memorandum and Clause 1. There is no discrepancy. Clause 1 says that the applicant will be entitled to registration if he satisfies the Secretary of State that he fulfils both conditions (a) and (b). As soon as he does so, registration will be automatic. If he fulfils condition (a) and not condition (b), registration will be at the discretion of the Secretary of State. That is where the Secretary of State's discretion comes in.

The other question my noble friend asked was whether this Bill was all right as regards citizens of Tanganyika? Tanganyika has ceased to be a mandated or trustee territory, as my noble friend knows. It is simply an independent country of the Commonwealth, like Kenya or Australia, and is covered by a uniform provision applying to all such countries, on exactly the same footing as all the other Commonwealth countries.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.