HC Deb 13 November 1972 vol 846 cc24-5W
Mr. George Cunningham

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the extent of Great Britain's obligations towards those persons who possess citizenship both of Malaysia and of the United Kingdom and Colonies.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

The so-called Queen's Chinese are persons of Chinese origin who were born in the former colonies known as the Settlements of Penang and Malacca, now forming part of Malaysia, or whose fathers were born there. During the discussions on the future of those Colonies in 1956–57, representations were made that many of the existing inhabitants, notably those members of the Chinese race whose families have lived there for several generations, attached considerable importance to maintaining their connection with the Crown as citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies. Neither the British Government nor their Royal Highnesses the Rulers of the Federated States nor the future Government of independent Malaya saw any objection to dual citizenship in such circumstances. Conseqently the Republic of the Federation of Malaya Constitutional Commission 1957 (Colonial No. 330) recommended that these people should be permitted to retain their citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies on becoming citizens of the Federation of Malaya. Therefore, the Federation of Malaya Independence Act, 1957, did not provide for the withdrawal of citizenship in such circumstances. Consequently from persons who were connected with Penang and Malacca and the Malaysia Act, 1963, did not withdraw citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies from persons who were already citizens of Malaya before Malaysia Day. Thus they are dual citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies and of Malaysia and it is believed that they now number about 1,000,000. However, children born in Malaya or Malaysia whose fathers were Queen's Chinese born there after 31st August, 1957, will not become citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies by descent.

The entry of Queen's Chinese to the United Kingdom is subject to control under the Commonwealth Immigrants Acts, whether they hold Malaysian or United Kingdom passports. Whilst they retain their present status we are under no obligation to admit them even in the theoretical event of their arrival here under some form of compulsion. Only a very small percentage of the Queen's Chinese do in fact hold United Kingdom passports and the number of them seeking entry to the United Kingdom has always been low. There is no reason to expect any increase.