§ 9. Mr. Ronald Atkins
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects the current review of nationality laws to be concluded; and if he will introduce legislation in the present session.
§ 14. Mr. Durant
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to publish the report of the Working Party on Nationality.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
As I explained on 9th February, following my statement on the Franks Report, my next step will be to publish a discussion paper on nationality law at the appropriate time.
§ Mr. Atkins
In view of the muddle in the present nationality laws, does the Home Secretary agree that urgent action is needed to make the laws clear, comprehensive and as consistent as possible?
§ Mr. Rees
As I indicated the other day, I intend to publish a document soon. It will be a discussion paper, not because of lack of parliamentary time, even though under the best of circumstances that is a difficult matter, but because this is a complicated matter. The reason why I want it to be a discussion document is that any legislation will have to stand the test of time. It will have to translate the transition from Empire, durbars and Queen Victoria into the reality of today, and that will not be easy.
§ Mr. Durant
Is the Home Secretary aware of the urgency of the problem particularly for his officials and other Ministers' officials in embassies and high commissions who have to interpret the existing laws and find it extremely difficult?
§ Mr. Rees
I am not so sure that they are interpreting the nationality laws. I suspect that they are interpreting the Immigration Act 1971, and I am glad that I was not responsible for that Act.
§ Mr. Emery
Will the Home Secretary ensure in his discussion document and his thinking that he takes powers for himself and for other Home Secretaries for special provisions to be made for the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of people whose whole parentage has been 595 born abroad but who have always considered themselves British and who have always been Anglo-Saxon people? It is important to them—[Interruption]—although it may not be to some hon. Members opposite, that they should have the right of British nationality.
§ Mr. Rees
I have no doubt that the hon. Gentleman has read the 1971 Immigration Act. The transmission of nationality is one of the problems that one finds when considering citizenship. Citizenship is not something that one feels ought to be transmitted over the years, otherwise it ceases to be citizenship. Let us not come to a view on the matter now, but let us have a discussion to see how difficult it is to deal with each of these matters.