British Citizenship and Immigration Policy, 1945 - 1962.
This thesis charts the evolution of citizenship and immigration policy in Britain between 1945 and 1962. These years were marked by the movement of small but growing numbers of British citizens and British subjects, Black and Asian, to Britain.
At the start of this period, British subjects from the colonies and Commonwealth, in theory, had the freedom to enter and settle in Britain without obstruction. The British Nationality Act of 1948 reaffirmed this freedom. It introduced a definition of British citizenship which included British-born and colonial-born subjects in the same category, and recognised citizens of independent Commonwealth countries as British subjects.
The passage of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act of 1962 marked the end of this period. This piece of legislation placed formal restrictions on the entry of certain categories of British citizen and subject for the first time. The primary intention of the Act of 1962 was to frustrate the ability of dark-skinned British and Commonwealth citizens freely to enter and settle in Britain.
This project examines why, in the years between 1945 and 1962, Britain's citizenship and immigration policy evolved in this direction. It asks questions about how ‘open’ entry to Britain actually was before 1962 and demonstrates the subtle and surprising ways in which this freedom was illusory.
This dissertation challenges both the temporal and analytical framework of analysis persistent in existing studies. It does so by examining the evolution of British citizenship and immigration policy between 1945 and 1962 through a wider, and longer, lens. It will consider citizenship and immigration policy in more expansive terms, thinking beyond merely the legislative sphere. It also aims to situate these policy developments within their broader imperial and global context, and as part of a longstanding framework of controls on the entry and settlement of non-white British subjects from the colonies.