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Friday, 2 August 1946

Mr CALWELL - Reference was made in the morning press to agreement between the component parts of the British Commonwealth on the nationality of married women. This Parliament recently passed an act establishing that women, British by birth or naturalization, living in Australia, shall not lose British nationality because of marriage to aliens. I received a cable yesterday indicating that a statement was to have been made in the House of Commons yesterday afternoon by the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs in the following terms : -

I am glad to inform the House that agreement has now been reached between the United Kingdom Government and the Governments of Canada, Australia, New. Zealand and South Africa as to the principles on which legislation governing the nationality of married women should be based. The principles accepted by the five governments are that laws should, in effect, provide that a British woman on marriage to a foreigner, whether she does or does not acquire his nationality under the law of his country, shall not lose her British nationality unless she takes active steps torenounce it: and that a. foreign woman on marriage to a British subject shall not automatically acquire British nationality, but shall have the right to apply for it. subject to the exercise by the Minister concerned of a discretion as to the grant or refusal of the application. It is contemplated that a conference of experts should be convened later in the year to examine various questions affecting nationality laws in several countries of the Commonwealth. This conference will afford an opportunity of considering detailed provisions required for effecting the change now agreed upon in the. laws relating to the nationality of married women.

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