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minor children already born, who thereupon become British subjects. Similarly, the British minor children of a person (presumably the father, if alive, or, if not, the mother) who ceases to be a British subject, themselves lose British nationality, unless by the law of the new country of adoption those minor children do not become naturalized thereina. But in both these cases the child may, within twelve months of attaining his majority (presumably his majority by English law), by declaration divest himself of British nationality in the former case or re-acquire it in the latter 3.
An unmarried woman can become a naturalized British subject in the same way as a man. There is, however, in addition, the vicarious naturalization of married women: (1) when an alien woman marries a British subject, and (2) when the wife of an alien becoming naturalized automatically participates in the nationality so acquired by her husband. Neither of these women receives any certificate of naturalization, and no provision exists for revoking her acquired British nationality. In neither case can the husband be denaturalized for acts on the part of the wife which, were she an unmarried woman, would call for revocation under section 7 of the Act of 1914, so that she appears to be in an impregnable position. This view derives some support from section 27 (2) of the Act of 1914, which provides that 'where in pursuance of this Act the name of a child is included in a certificate of naturalization granted to his parent...such child shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed to be a person to whom a certificate of naturalization has been granted.' The effect is that he, like his father, is exposed to the possibility of revocation under section 7; but the alien woman marrying a British subject receives no certificate, and the wife of an alien becoming naturalized is not, and does not require to be, included in his certificate, and the absence of any similar provision deeming these women to be persons to whom certificates have been granted is a clear indication that they are not exposed as
1 S. 5 (I).
3 S. 12 (I).
3 SS. 5 (I) and 12 (2).
independent persons to the perils of revocation. So long as their husbands remain British subjects, there is no way (apart from parliamentary intervention) in which we can be rid of them as British citizens, however undesirable and unworthy they may be. We take them, as their husbands do, ‘for better for worse.'
GERMAN LAW OF NATIONALITY. We cannot attempt to review the nationality laws of even the principal civilized nations, but in view of the late war it is worth while spending a few minutes upon the German law at our main point of contact with it, namely the national status of the German subject who becomes or seeks to become a naturalized British subject. Germany revised her imperial and state nationality law by what is termed the Delbrück Law of 1913, a translation of which, together with a Memorandum upon the law by H.B.M. Embassy at Berlin, was presented to Parliament in March, 19141. The new legislation had 'the double object of rendering more difficult the loss of German nationality and of facilitating its recovery.' The fact that it succeeded in these objects must have been a matter for regret to some at least who thought they had ceased to be German subjects, as we shall presently see. By section 13 of this Law a former German, without settling again in Germany, may become naturalized upon application to his former Federal State and upon complying with certain terms more lenient than those applicable to a pure foreigner (section 8), whatever may have been the cause of his loss of German nationality. This represented a great advance upon the Law of 1870 which only permitted the recovery of German nationality without again settling in Germany to former Germans who had lost their German nationality by ten years' mere residence abroad without acquiring a foreign nationality. Now note the effect of these provisions upon the cases of two former Germans, Weber and Liebmann. Weber, born in Germany in 1883, left that country about the age of fifteen for South America. After living there two or three years he came to England, where he had lived since 1901. He had thus ipso facto lost his German nationality under the Law of 1870 by ten years' residence abroad, and but for the Act of 1913 apparently would have been a person of no nationality, and, not having acquired British nationality, an alien though not an alien enemy. The Divisional Court, the Court of Appeal, and the House of Lords held that, having regard to the Law of 1913, he had not lost his German nationality for all purposes whatsoever, for both under section 13 and section 26 he could recover his German nationality more easily than a pure foreigner could acquire it; he could therefore be properly interned as an alien enemy.
1 Reprinted Cd. 7277 of 1915. 2 (1916) 1 K. B. 280, n.; (1916] 1 A. C. 421.
Liebmann's casel is stronger. Born in Germany in 1868, he came to England in 1889, and in 1890 obtained from the authorities of his particular State a document purporting to discharge him from German nationality. He had resided here since, but had never become naturalized. Under the 1870 Law he would have had no special facilities for re-acquisition of German nationality, and he could not have re-acquired it unless, as in the case of a pure foreigner, he had established a residence in Germany. The effect, however, of the Law of 1913 in making it easier for him to re-acquire, than for a pure foreigner to acquire, German nationality made it clear that he had not entirely lost the rights belonging to a natural-born German, and the Divisional Court held him to be an alien enemy. In Weber's case nationality was lost by long residence abroad; in Liebmann's a formal discharge of nationality had been obtained, but the Court did not regard this as a difference in principle.
The effect of these decisions is to draw a distinction between nationality which a person can lose, and the rights of a naturalborn subject which, in the case of a German-born subject, he can never lose. The Law of 1913 ties these rights round his neck for life, and by its retrospective effect radically altered
1 [1916) 1 K. B. 268. See also pp. 52–54, of this book for remarks on the habeas corpus point in this case.
the status of many former German subjects. The rights belong to a former German who has divested himself of his German nationalityl and by naturalization become a British subject. Supposing his naturalization to be revoked, he does not become a mere alien with no nationality, but an alien having certain of the rights belonging to a German-born subject.
We have thus seen that there can be persons of no nationality, and extraordinarily troublesome they can be to diplomatists and lawyers. An alien may have lost his nationality of origin by the law of his native country, and not have acquired British nationality by naturalization. What is his status? He is certainly an alien, but if we are at war with his native country, is he an alien enemy? The Delbrück Law of 1913, in the desire to extend the arm of the fatherland over its erring subjects, has answered the question in the case of Germany. Such persons were recently alien enemies. But in a case where no such law exists, he is a bold man who would assert that such a person is not merely an alien, but is an alien impressed with the national character of his country of origin.
ALIEN STATUS. So much for the questions who is a British subject and who is an aliena. In what respect does the latter differ in status from the former? It is natural and convenient to regard the former's status as complete, and to describe the latter's by way of deductions from it. The alien has full proprietary capacity (except that he may not be the owner of a British ship'), full contractual, testamentary, and procedural capacity, but no parliamentary, municipal, or other franchise, and no qualification for any public office2. He owes local allegiance while within the realm, even when the British Empire is at war with his own country, and thus may be convicted of treason for assisting his own country while remaining in the British Empire. The alien has no right at common law or by statute to be admitted into the King's dominions, and the Aliens Act, 1905, contains provisions for the exclusion and expulsion of undesirable aliens. These are, however, it is believed, purely declaratory, and the Crown can exclude or expel an alien at will. A British subject can neither be excluded nor expelled; and statutory authority was required for the compulsory transportation of convicted criminals from the United Kingdom, although their destination was within the British Empire4.
1 But on and after January 1, 1914, when the Delbrück Law came into operation, a German on becoming naturalized abroad does not lose his German nationality if, before acquiring the new one, he has obtained the permission of the German authorities to retain his German nationality (section 25)—a provision which, if not sinister in intention, at any rate produces a most unsatisfactory state of affairs in practice.
2 A denizen is only partially a British subject. Denization is a process by which the Crown used in former times to (and presumably still might) confer by grant of letters patent a certain measure of nationality, and the royal prerogative has been preserved by section 25 of the Act of 1914. A few denizens may still exist, but so few that their exact status need not detain us.
Lord Atkinson in a Canadian appeals to the Privy Council states that ‘one of the rights possessed by the supreme power in every State is the right to refuse to permit an alien to enter that State, to annex what conditions it pleases to the permission to enter it, and to expel or deport from the State, at pleasure, even a friendly alien, especially if it considers his presence in the State opposed to its peace, order, and good government, or to its social or material interests.'
The Aliens Act, 1905, regulates (inter alia) both the exclusion and the expulsion of aliens. With regard to expulsion or deportation—the latter term is said to connote some control over the destination questions have sometimes arisen upon the claim, amounting almost to a necessity, of the Crown in the exercise of this right to impose a certain measure of extra
1 But see R. v. Arnaud (1846) 9 Q. B. 806, from which it appears that a registered company whose shareholders are all aliens may nevertheless own a British vessel. This is now subject to the British Ships (Transfer Restriction) Acts, 1915 and 1916, until three years from the termination of the recent war have elapsed.
2 British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act, 1914, ss. 17, 18.