HL Deb 23 July 1973 vol 344 cc1607-9

6.29 p.m.

House in Committee.

House resumed: Bill reported without Amendment.

Then Standing Order No. 44 having been suspended (pursuant to Resolution of July 12).


I beg to move, That this Report be now received.

Moved, That the Report be now received.—(Baroness Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie.)


My Lords, I want to raise one issue on the Report stage of this Bill. During the Second Reading I raised the question as to whether the dependants of those who had registered here who came after Pakistan left the Commonwealth, or who may come in the future, will be allowed to become British citizens. The noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, indicated that he thought they would automatically be accepted as British nationals because the heads of their family were already accepted as such. He indicated that he was a little uncertain about this, but that he would give an indication as to what the position was at a later stage of the Bill.

My Lords, I also raised the question of children born in this country to Pakistanis who might not be registered, or who might not be nationals, and it was indicated to me that if they were born in this country they would later be regarded as nationals. The point I want to stress on this Report stage is that it is very important indeed that these issues, and the decision reached on them, should be made clear to the Pakistani community, because within the Pakistani community there is great misunderstanding. I should be glad if some statement could be made about the two points I have raised and if an undertaking could be given that it will be made clear to the Pakistani community what the decision is.


My Lords, this time I cannot possibly complain that I have not had notice of the question. If the noble Lord and the House will bear with me for one moment, I will just see whether I can go through what I think are three categories to see if I can get it right. The noble Lord asked about dependants who came here after Pakistan left the Commonwealth. They will have come here as dependants of a head of household who is already in this country. The first sort of head of household will be one who has already registered and has already become a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies and is being joined by his dependants. Those dependants, as I understand it, are themselves automatically registered as such citizens on their arrival. That is the first category.

There will, however, be others who come as dependants of Pakistan citizens who have been admitted to this country but have not yet registered. There is a fairly large variety of circumstances. If one looks at Schedule 2 to the Bill, one gets some idea of the different types of circumstance that might arise and the different dates upon which people may be able in the future to register, even if they are not at this particular moment qualified to do so. The dependants of those people will also be admitted into this country in the ordinary way, and their fate will follow that of the head of the household. If he registers and is successful under one of these transitional provisions, then as a result of his registration his dependants will become United Kingdom and Colonies citizens as well. He may not succeed in doing it by way of registration; he may have to do it as an alien, by means of naturalisation, because he does not fall within one of the transitional provisions. If he succeeds in that, his dependants will also follow suit. If he does not succeed under either of those heads, then, although his dependants may be here, they will all be here as aliens and they will be treated in the same way as other aliens. But there are fairly generous transitional provisions whereby people from Pakistan who have come here and have not yet qualified themselves for registration will have a period of time, indeed up to 1979, to do so, and their dependants will follow suit with them.

My Lords, as to children, a child born in this country, of whatever parents or at whatever time, is, as I understand it, a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies under the British Nationality Act 1948. I think the noble Baroness, Lady White, asked me that question, and I should have known the answer; but it is clear that that is so. I think those are the answers to the questions the noble Lord asked.


My Lords, if I may speak again, could we have an assurance that this will be made clear to the Pakistani community in leaflets in Urdu and by co-operation with organisations in touch with the immigrants, because there is great misunderstanding about this matter.


My Lords, if with the leave of the House I may answer, I think I said before that we were going to do everything we could to explain as simply as possible to the people concerned, whether by leaflets or by using the good offices of those who are in direct contact with the immigrant community, or through some other media, what the position is. I do not think there is any point in trying to explain every single complexity in this Bill, because that has caused enough difficulty to Members of this House and to Members of another place, and what it would do to the immigrant community, I do not know. But we will try to get the sort of simple explanation the noble Lord has mentioned over to those who are concerned.

Bill read 3a, and passed.