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Australian Citizens (Uk Passports)

Volume 498: debated on Wednesday 2 April 1952

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware that an Australian citizen domiciled in this country and married to an English wife is unable to obtain a British passport to accompany his family on foreign journeys without surrendering his Australian nationality; and if he will take steps to remove this anomaly which gives pain to loyal Commonwealth subjects domiciled in this country.

An Australian citizen who has been ordinarily resident in this country for one year can apply for registration as a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies and so become eligible to hold a United Kingdom passport.

The Australian Citizenship Act, however, provides that an Australian citizen who acquires the nationality or citizenship of a country other than Australia shall thereupon cease to be an Australian citizen. This applies to the United Kingdom, in which case an Australian's status as a British subject is not, however, affected.

The hon. Gentleman will therefore see that it is Australian and not United Kingdom law which lays down the circumstances in which Australian citizenship is lost.

May I take it from the very courteous answer given by the right hon. Gentleman that he recognises that this is a matter of particular difficulty in our relationship with the Australian Commonwealth, and will he try to devise, in consultation with the Australian authorities, some machinery under which our Commonwealth friends can at least have the appearance of some preference when living in this country, as compared with aliens who have no ties of blood with us?

I feel exactly as the hon. Gentleman feels, which is why I revised the original draft of this reply. It really is not a matter in which we are the authority. This is Australian law, and all I can do for the hon. Gentleman is to expound Australian law. What we can say, and what I have said, is that in any event the status of Australians in this country as British subjects is not in any circumstances affected.

I merely wish to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that his appearance at the Box is the first display of good temper we have had from the Front Bench opposite today.