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(2) British Subjects by Annexation. Sections 1 (1) (b) and 27 (1) of the Act of 1914 as amended in 1918 draw attention to an important section of British subjects, namely those who become so 'by reason of any annexation of territory.' Generals Botha and Smuts naturally occur as illustrations of this class.
(3) Naturalized British Subjects, either by private Act of Parliament, or (which is the normal mode) by the certificate of a Secretary of State or the appropriate authority in a British possession under a general statute such as the Naturalization Act, 1870, or the Act of 1914 which repeals it, or by the marriage of an alien woman to a British subject, if the latter process may be called 'naturalization' without doing violence to the meaning of that term. The requirements of the new Act (section 2) may be summarized as follows:
(a) Residence in the King's dominions for not less than five years, of which one year must be immediately before the application and the other four within the period of eight preceding the application, or service of the Crown for not less than five years within the same period:
(6) Good character, and adequate knowledge of the English language or (in a British possession) of some other language (if any) which is recognized as on an equality:
(c) Intention to continue such residence or continue in such service:
(d) The taking of the oath of allegiance when the certificate of naturalization has been granted.
It should be noted that under the Act of 1914 the grant or refusal of a certificate of naturalization is in the absolute discretion of the Secretary of State (in practice the Home Secretary) who may withhold it without assigning any reason and without any appeal from his decision. Until 1918 there was no provision by statute or common law to prevent the naturalization of alien enemies during war, and in the early months of the war a number of them were naturalized. Now, however, by section 3 of the amending British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act, 1918, no person who on August 8, 1918, was an enemy subject can obtain a certificate of naturalization
'before the expiration of a period of ten years after the termination of the present war,' unless he served in the British, allied, or associated forces or was 'a member of a race or community known to be opposed to the enemy governments,' e.g. a Pole or an Armenian, or 'was at birth a British subject.' And in the case of a person naturalized during the present war 'who at, or at any time before, the grant of the certificate was a subject of a country which at the date of the grant was at war with His Majesty,' the Home Secretary is obliged by the same section to refer the question of the desirability of revoking the certificate to the Committee constituted by the Act.
REVOCATION OF NATURALIZATION. It has been remarked by some observers that during the last few decades before the recent war insular feeling in England was becoming intensified, and the traditional welcome extended to foreigners who for one reason or another, not necessarily political, did not wish to remain in their native countries was being abandoned. The Aliens Act, 1905, may be mentioned, and the gradually increasing precariousness of British nationality acquired by naturalization points to the same conclusion. The Naturalization Act, 1870, contains no provision for the revocation of a certificate of naturalization, and assumed that the Home Secretary would only grant certificates after adequate consideration. By the Act of 1914, s. 7, the Home Secretary may revoke a certificate obtained by 'false representations or fraud,' and by the Act of 1918, which substitutes two new sections 7 and 7 a for section 7 of the Act of 1914, the following alternative grounds may vitiate naturalization:
(1) Obtaining his certificate by 'false representation or fraud' or
(2) 'By concealment of material circumstances ';
(3) Disaffection or disloyalty 'to His Majesty' by act or speech (whether or not this includes the bona fide expression of republican opinions which is permitted to the natural-born British subject, is not clear);
(4) Unlawful intercourse with the enemy during the war, or association with a business which to his knowledge assists the enemy during war; (5) Sentence by a British court within five
of certificate to imprisonment for twelve months or more, penal servitude, or a fine of £100 or more;
(6) Lack of good character at the date of grant of the certificate;
(7) Seven years' ordinary residence outside His Majesty's dominions otherwise than as the representative of a British subject, firm, company, or institution, or as a servant of the Crown, coupled with failure to maintain 'substantial connexion with His Majesty's dominions'; or
(8) The fact of remaining ‘according to the law of a State at war with His Majesty a subject of that State.'
In cases (1) to (3) inclusive, the Home Secretary when 'satisfied' that a case has arisen, 'shall... revoke the certificate.' In the remaining cases he must also be satisfied that 'the continuance of the certificate is not conducive to the public good.' In any case he may order an inquiry by the committee constituted by the Act, and in cases (1) to (4) inclusive, (6) and (8) he'shall' give the naturalized British subject an opportunity of claiming an inquiry, but no express right is conferred upon him by the Act of attending or being represented at the inquiry.
We are not concerned here with the policy of these provisions, but it is clear that if an alien contemplating an exchange of nationality knows that he is liable at some future time to have his naturalization revoked and to find himself suspended in international mid-air, because at the time of his naturalization his character was not 'good' in the opinion of a committee of whose composition and moral standards he is ignorant, or because within five years of his naturalization he is sentenced (perhaps for an offence involving no moral turpitude) to a fine of £100, he will not regard British acquired nationality as the premier security that it was in the Victorian age; which is probably the result the framers of the Act of 1918 desired to achieve.
The effect of the revocation of a certificate of naturalization is stated by the Act of 1914, as amended in 1918, to be that 'the former holder shall be regarded as an alien and as a subject of the State to which he belonged at the time the certificate was granted1.' In many cases, however, he may have previously divested himself of his nationality of origin before applying for naturalization in which event the effect of revocation presumably is to leave him an alien of no nationality— neither flesh, fowl, nor good red herring. The effect upon his wife and children is discussed later.
Once granted, however, and unrevoked, the certificate “subject to the provisions of this Act' entitles him to 'all political and other rights, powers, and privileges,' and imposes upon him 'all obligations, duties and liabilities, to which a natural-born British subject is entitled or subject'; he acquires ‘to all intents and purposes the status of a natural-born British subject, so that he may say Civis Romanus sum, and if he is a Protestant, may even aspire to becoming Lord Chancellor. The sanctity of the status of British subject, backed up by the prestige of the British Empire, is well illustrated by reference to the case of Don Pacifico2 in 1850, a Jew born at Gibraltar and so a natural-born British subject, who subsequently resided at Athens and by suffering injury at the hands of a mob was the occasion of instructions being issued by the British Government for the sequestration of all Greek ships in Greek ports.
VOLUNTARY LOSS OF NATIONALITY.
In addition to this compulsory loss of nationality by revocation of naturalization, provision exists for voluntary loss. The common law rule was Nemo potest exuere patriam, but, under the Act of 1914 (in this respect re-enacting the Act of 1870),
(i) By section 13 any British subject not under disability may by becoming naturalized while in a foreign State renounce his British nationality-overruling the common law rule-but not in an enemy State at war with this country during such wari.
1 S. 7 A (3).
2 Pitt Cobbett's Leading Cases and Opinions on International Law (3rd ed.), Vol. I. p. 201.
(ii) By section 14 (1) any person, who in addition to becoming a natural-born British subject by being born in the King's dominions, also becomes at the time of his birth, or during his minority, a subject of another State and remains so, may on attaining full age, make a declaration of alienage, and so cease to be a British subject, but until making such a declaration he remains a British subject.
(iii) By section 14 (2) any person who, having been born out of the King's dominions, nevertheless is a natural-born British subject, may on attaining full age make a similar declaration of alienage and so cease to be a British subject.
(iv) By section 5 (1) a person whose name, when a minor child, was included in a certificate of British naturalization, may within one year after attaining his majority make a declaration of alienage and cease to be a British subject.
It will be noted, however, that under section 14, unlike sections 5 (1) and 12 (2) and the provisions of the common law and equity permitting the exercise of certain rights within a reasonable time of attaining full age, there is no time limit.
But a state of war places certain limitations upon the right of the person having dual nationality, British and another, to divest himself of the former in this way. The Court of Appeal construing section 14 summarized above, have stated that such a person 'cannot during a state of war divest himself of his allegiance to the British crown in order to become solely the subject of an enemy State?' So a man who was born in the United Kingdom (and so became a British subject by English law) of parents who were Austrian subjects (so that, as was assumed by the Court, he became and remained an Austrian subject) was held to be not entitled to make a valid declaration of alienage on attaining the age of twenty-one years. He had been compulsorily enlisted in the British Army when twenty
1 R. v. Lynch (1903] 1 K. B. 444. 2 Freyberger's case (1917] 2 K. B. at p. 139.