HC Deb 26 March 1929 vol 226 cc2247-8
30. Colonel WEDGWOOD

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he proposes before the dissolution to take any steps to confer the rights of British citizenship upon Palestinian citizens and upon British subjects the rights to vote, etc., enjoyed by Palestinian citizens in Palestine?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Ormsby-Gore)

No, Sir. Palestinian citizens are not British subjects and can acquire British nationality only by naturalisation, provided they satisfy the conditions of the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Acts. As my right hon. Friend has stated before, it was decided on general grounds of policy to confine the municipal franchise in Palestine to Palestinian citizens. My right hon. Friend does not think it desirable to modify this arrangement.


In the first place, is there no prospect of British citizens getting the vote in Palestine, and in the second place, has not the Colonial Office contemplated the possibility of dual citizenship in the case of Palestinian subjects?


The international status of Palestine is that of a Class A mandate, governed by a particular clause in Article 22, which recognises Palestine, provisionally, as a separate State, subject to tutelage and control by us. The question the right hon. and gallant Gentleman raises now is one of international interpretation, which makes it extremely difficult to do what he proposes.


Will there be any objection whatever among Palestinian citizens to enjoy in England the rights of British citizens? Does not the only objection to the right hon. Gentleman's policy arise out of the four of what some other countries represented on the League of Nations may possibly think?


No, chat is not correct. We have to carry cut strictly the exact terms of the mandate and generally to avoid dual citizenship, but if a Palestinian subject is resident in this country, or in a British colony, for the requisite length of time, he can apply for naturalisation, as any other non-British subject who was born or resides in a British colony.


Will the right hon. Gentleman do his best to get Palestinian citizens back to Palestine as soon as possible?


Including the organiser of the Liberal party.