Dear First Minister

In the course of my professional duties as a Barrister entitled to practise before the courts of England and Wales I have had occasion to research and become fully familiar with the law of nationality, as a matter of customary international law and treaty law, and from the point of view of United Kingdom domestic law and the domestic law of other Independent Sovereign States and successor states in circumstances of secession, in particular consequent upon the dissolution of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

On any view the subject is one of considerable complexity and one which has a considerable practical and most important bearing upon the lives of many people who find themselves bound up in such an event.

One feature of the law is that successor states, upon the dissolution of a predecessor state, have to define, often in circumstances of some haste, who is and who is not entitled to become a national of the successor state. History tells us that such hasty decisions often lead to grave hardship for those concerned.

It is with considerable surprise, not to say shock, that one finds that the White Paper, on a matter that inevitably must concern the issue of Nationality, is vague to the point of complete and utter silence on what proposals are made for who shall and who shall not be entitled to be a National of a future Independent Sovereign State called Scotland.

This is no mere abstract concern but one which touches upon the lives and legal status of hundreds of thousands of people, maybe even millions, elsewhere in the United Kingdom and overseas, particularly in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States of America but also in many parts of the world that were once part of the British Empire.

I mention my own case as one example, but I am sure that others will soon supply other diverse and far more exotic ones. I live close to Corby in Northamptonshire which, given its Glasgow connections, might offer a wealth of stories more complex and yet more deserving of consideration than my own.

My late father was born in Yorkshire of a long line of Yorkshire born folk. In 1943 he, like so many of his generation, went into the Army and, in due course, was sent to the India where he saw active service in the late war against the Japanese Empire and until mid-1947 was in the service of the King-Emperor immediately prior to Indian independence.

Upon his return to the United Kingdom he went up to the University of St. Andrews to read medicine. My brother, who is a citizen and National of the United Kingdom was born in 1948 at Dundee and I, also a citizen and National of the United Kingdom, was born in 1953, also at Dundee. For my own part I lived only a short while in Scotland and my father, having qualified as a doctor, wished to return to England at the first opportunity.

For my own part I consider myself by upbringing, inclination, culture, education and conviction to be English.

I have a number of questions, therefore.

  1. Why has the First Minister of Scotland begun the process of gaining for Scotland by Referendum the status of a Sovereign Independent Nation State without giving any thought whatsoever to the issue of nationality, as is apparent from the absence of any mention of the subject in the White Paper (save as being a matter reserved to Westminster)?
  2. Does the First Minister realise that his failure to make any mention or proposal concerning Nationality in the White Paper causes fear and distress to those who might consider themselves likely to be adversely affected by Independence, fear and distress that is likely to continue for the many years that will elapse before a referendum is held?
  3. If those of us who are or may be affected by the issue of Nationality in the event of Independence do not like the proposals made, but are not on an electoral register in Scotland, will the First Minister promise that we will nonetheless be entitled to a vote in his Referendum? If not, bearing in mind that we have a significant interest concerning our status in the outcome of such a referendum, why not?
  4. Will he undertake to publish, before the end of 2007, what proposals his administration makes concerning Nationality in the event of Independence? If not, why not?
  5. Will the First Minister undertake that, in the event of a positive vote for Independence, he will negotiate with the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the basis that those born in Scotland shall be entitled to be one of:

(1) A National of the new state of Scotland; or

(2) A National of the successor State to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; or

(3) A National of both the new state of Scotland and of the successor State to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

If not, why not?

I am Sir,

Yours faithfully,

The Huntsman

Advertisements