Clause 3. — (Power of Parliament of Dominion to legislate extra-territorially.)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 24th November 1931.

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Photo of Mr Edward Marjoribanks Mr Edward Marjoribanks , Eastbourne

I must ask the right hon. Gentleman to take a broader view. The whole weight and depth of the opposition is in regard to what will happen on 1st December, and we believe that innumerable results will follow throughout the Empire as a result of this provision. It is a mere legal quibble to say that there is nothing in this Act which would not be affected by a repeal of the British Nationality Act of 1914 by any of the Dominions. That argument is quite unworthy of the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs. I want an answer, "aye" or "no," from the right hon. Gentleman to my question as to whether it is possible for the Irish Free State to repeal the Nationality Act of 1914, and if he says it is possible to do that let me remind him that that would take away the whole protection of the British Foreign Office to the tiny minority in the Irish Free State to whom we owe many obligations.

Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise how terrible it will be for people in Ireland suddenly to find themselves in a hostile atmosphere, separated from the Crown which they served so faithfully for so many years in the past? The right hon. Gentleman says that there is nothing in this Bill to deprive, those people of British nationality, but of course he cannot answer for every Act that may follow this Bill. This Measure is so crowded with possibilities in regard to other Acts that we are obliged to oppose it, and this is not a question that you can get rid of in one day. The Measure which we are now considering is one which may vitally affect the unity of the British Empire.