§ Lieut.-Colonel Sharp
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give details of the progress made in dealing with applications for naturalisation; and the number of priority claims received, admitted and approved since 1st March, 1946.
§ Mr. Ede
In the first six months of the present year 1,123 certificates of naturalisation were granted. In the next three months, as the preparatory work began to bear fruit, 1,859 certificates were granted, making a total for the nine months of 2,982. There were 6,428 applicants with claims for priority on the ground that their applications had been made before naturalisation was suspended82W in 1940. Certificates have been granted to 988 of these persons, and another 680 cases are in an advanced stage and certificates will be granted if some minor point on which the department is in correspondence with the applicant can be cleared. Applications for priority on the ground of service with His Majesty's Forces are being made through special tribunals, which have as yet submitted recommendations in about 2,000 cases. 682 certificates have actually been granted, and another 300 cases are in an advanced stage. The claims for priority on grounds of special service in civilian capacities amount to 7,670. The first task of the Home Office was to decide, in consultation with the various Departments concerned, in what order this large number of applications should be dealt with. Some 5,400 of these claims have now been appropriately graded, and consultations are proceeding about the grading of the remainder. The number of certificates actually granted to applicants in this category is 352. As regards many of these cases the rate of progress is limited by the pace at which the police can make the necessary inquiries. The progress of work in the Home Office might also have been improved if the staff had not to deal with so many inquiries about individual cases. I would again remind applicants and their friends that such inquiries, however important they may stem to be to the individuals concerned, inevitably slow down the general rate of progress and in fact often retard the grant of naturalisation in the particular case concerned.