[ilds] Durrell's British citizenship

Michael Haag michaelhaag at btinternet.com
Fri Jun 1 13:40:40 PDT 2007

OK, two afternoons.

On Friday, June 1, 2007, at 07:54  pm, Marc Piel wrote:

> "something like a billion people
>>> could show up on an afternoon"
> Who is kidding who????
> With an average of 120 people per aeroplane that
> makes 83 thousand aeroplanes, each with 120 people
> on board, (=3458 aeroplanes per hour, or 57,6
> aeroplanes per minute). Sorry about that, but
> somewhere something is not right in this discussion.
> Michael Haag wrote:
>> My guess is that it was a very minor problem.  For those who had been
>> born in what had British India (Pakistan, India and Burma) and were
>> resident in the United Kingdom there was nothing they needed to know 
>> or
>> do.
>> How many British patrials there were resident outside the UK I do not
>> know, nor do I know what efforts were made to alert them to the new
>> law.  I believe that citizens of any country who are living abroad are
>> usually told to keep in touch with their embassy; that the
>> responsibility for being informed lies with the individual.
>> I suppose the safest way of framing that law would have been to ensure
>> that it should not apply to British patrials resident abroad within a
>> certain period of time, that time being the valid life of their 
>> British
>> passports -- so that as one's passport expired, one was obliged to
>> renew it at an embassy or consulate where one would have been told, in
>> good time, that one needed to register under the new act.  Had that
>> been the case, and had Durrell or anyone in his position renewed his
>> passport within that time, the problem would not have arisen.  For all
>> I know the law was framed in that way, and that Durrell failed to 
>> renew
>> his passport when he should have -- one would have to look at his
>> passport, the provisions of the law, etc, to know for sure.
>> Had there been any significant number of people affected by this
>> situation I would have thought that remedial action would have been
>> taken by Parliament.  Nothing I have read in the Foreign Office and
>> Home Office files indicates that there was a wider problem.  I would
>> not be surprised if Durrell was the only one.
>> :Michael
>> On Friday, June 1, 2007, at 05:21  pm, Bruce Redwine wrote:
>>> Thanks, Michael for the thorough explanation.  I'm still puzzled by
>>> British law.  Having recognized there was a problem with the Act of
>>> 1966, why didn't Parliament correct it?  Such as extend the time to
>>> register as a British citizen?  Surely Lawrence Durrell wasn't the
>>> only UK "citizen" suddenly finding himself a foreigner in his own
>>> country, because of some arcane provision in the act.  I guess the
>>> answer is obvious.  Parliament did not consider that a "problem."
>>> This sounds a little like the current debate in the U.S. over
>>> immigration policy.
>>> Bruce
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>> From: Michael Haag <michaelhaag at btinternet.com>
>>>> Sent: Jun 1, 2007 8:56 AM
>>>> To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>>>> Subject: Re: [ilds] Durrell's British citizenship
>>>> Durrell was British and held a British passport; at no point in his
>>>> life was he stateless.
>>>> However, in the 1960s the British woke up to the fact that if 
>>>> everyone
>>>> who had been born in the British Empire chose to travel at once, and
>>>> in
>>>> particular chose to come to Britain, something like a billion people
>>>> could show up on an afternoon.  And so a limitation was placed on
>>>> freedom of entry to Britain based on ancestry (father's birth in
>>>> Britain, I think -- sorry, I do not have the exact details to hand) 
>>>> or
>>>> established residence in Britain.  Durrell's family -- his mother,
>>>> sister and brothers -- were all resident in Britain and were 
>>>> therefore
>>>> British under those previous arrangements and needed to do nothing; 
>>>> in
>>>> fact they were probably entirely unaware of the change in law.  But
>>>> Durrell was living abroad, and he would have needed to register --
>>>> simply by going to his nearest British consulate.  But he was 
>>>> unaware
>>>> of the new conditions.  He only discovered the situation some years
>>>> later when he went to get his passport renewed at the consulate at
>>>> Nice
>>>> (I think it was), and they explained that they could not give him a
>>>> British passport with free right of entry to Britain; instead he 
>>>> would
>>>> have to obtain a visa.  His situation was something like that which
>>>> Bruce describes below.
>>>> Durrell knew the British ambassador to Paris at the time and raised
>>>> the
>>>> matter with him, who in turn raised it with the Foreign Office and 
>>>> the
>>>> Home Office.  I have looked at these papers.  Everyone bent over
>>>> backwards to remedy the situation, but the law had been passed,
>>>> Durrell
>>>> had missed the boat, and it was decided at the highest level that an
>>>> exception could not be made for one man.  What the authorities did 
>>>> do,
>>>> however, was to offer to put Durrell on the British consular payroll
>>>> (again at Nice, I think) -- I am writing this off the top of my head
>>>> without looking at my notes so I am not giving you the precise
>>>> legalities and justifications for all this -- which some how would
>>>> have
>>>> got round the problem; I think it was because it could then be 
>>>> argued
>>>> that this was an extension of Durrell's foreign service employment
>>>> which would have entitled him to automatic continuation as a British
>>>> citizen with a British passport with full privileges.  All Durrell 
>>>> had
>>>> to do was to show up at the consulate very occasionally, once or 
>>>> twice
>>>> a month or whatever, probably have a drink, and then go home again.
>>>> But he chose not to accept that; quite simply he was too busy.  He 
>>>> was
>>>> content enough to enter Britain as a British citizen with a British
>>>> passport but also with the need to carry a visa.  Durrell was always
>>>> British; at no time was he stateless.
>>>> In short, changing times and changing laws.  Until the 1960s Durrell
>>>> was British and enjoyed the full benefits of British citizenship.
>>>> Afterwards Durrell was still British and still a British passport
>>>> holder but with the qualification that he would need a visa to enter
>>>> Britain.  The British government did everything in its reasonable
>>>> powers to make good the situation.  Durrell himself felt unable to
>>>> avail himself of their solution.  There were no bad feelings.
>>>> Incidentally, had Durrell been Irish this problem would not have
>>>> arisen.  The definition of Irish nationality is that one parent or
>>>> grandparent was born in Ireland.  Anyone satisfying that condition 
>>>> is
>>>> Irish at birth (whether they know it or not) and is entitled to an
>>>> Irish passport.  Moreover under British law anyone of Irish
>>>> nationality
>>>> is entitled to live, work and vote in Britain.  No visa is required.
>>>> I
>>>> believe that the same applies in reverse.
>>>> :Michael
>>>> On Friday, June 1, 2007, at 03:00  pm, <richardpin at eircom.net> 
>>>> wrote:
>>>>> I think Michael H can illuminate this - the 'revelation' in 2002 
>>>>> was,
>>>>> I think, in the Guardian newspaper (UK) and explained why LD did 
>>>>> not,
>>>>> in fact, hold a full British passport.
>>>>> RP
>>>>> Bruce Redwine <bredwine1968 at earthlink.net>, ilds at lists.uvic.ca 
>>>>> wrote:
>>>>> <
>>>>> <  Yes, can someone clear up this matter about LD's passport?  I
>>>>> think
>>>>> it's false.  Born of British parents in a British colony and not
>>>>> British?  Sounds absurd.  Moreover, as Lea asks, how could he have
>>>>> worked all those years in the British Foreign Office and not have
>>>>> been
>>>>> a UK citizen?  I know that in Hong Kong, before 1997, people born 
>>>>> in
>>>>> the Crown Colony were issued a special British passport, which 
>>>>> looked
>>>>> like a regular passport but was actually a "travel document."  It
>>>>> enabled the holder to travel as a UK citizen, but it did not give 
>>>>> the
>>>>> bearer all the rights of one.  I.e., the bearer could not claim
>>>>> residence in the UK.  Is something like this the basis of the 
>>>>> rumor?
>>>>> <
>>>>> <  Bruce
>>>>> <
>>>>> <  -----Original Message-----
>>>>> <  >From: Lea Stogdale <leadale at mts.net>
>>>>> <  >Sent: May 31, 2007 9:00 PM
>>>>> <  >To: "'ilds at lists.uvic.ca'" <ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
>>>>> <  >Subject: [ilds] Stateless
>>>>> <  >
>>>>> <  >Durrell's nationless status was revealed in 2002-born in India
>>>>> yet
>>>>> not
>>>>> <  >Indian and never holding British citizenship despite working 
>>>>> as a
>>>>> British
>>>>> <  >civil servant.
>>>>> <  >
>>>>> <  >What passport did he hold?
>>>>> <  >Lea
>>>>> <  >
>>>>> <
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