Letter: Britain's policy towards its dependants used to be dignified

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leader ("Dereliction of duty in the shadow of a volcano", 21 August) rightly points out the shame of the 1981 British Nationality Act, which stripped thousands of British citizens in dependent territories of the right of abode in the UK.

Now a Private Member's Bill, introduced by the Earl of Iveagh in the House of Lords, is seeking to end this injustice and restore full nationality status to the residents of the island of St Helena, and its dependent islands.

When one of these islands, Tristan da Cunha, suffered its own volcanic eruption in 1961, the islanders were evacuated 6,000 miles to the UK until the island was safe to re-inhabit. In those days - when Britain had a more dignified policy towards its dependent territories - the islanders were still full British citizens and were able to choose whether to stay in Britain or return home to Tristan. Only a handful chose to stay.

SAUL BILLINGSLEY

London N4

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