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Immigration Policy History

Home Office1948-06-30

Black Cultural Archives

Black Cultural Archives

In the aftermath of World War Two, definitions of British nationality were re-defined, often to encourage colonial residents to come to Britain to help with post-war reconstruction. The legislation created a legal status—Citizenship of the UK and Colonies—that included Britons and ‘colonial’ British subjects under a single definition of British citizenship, and entrenched their right to enter the UK. Between 1948 and 1962, some 500, 000 non-white British subjects entered under the legislation, despite documented evidence of elite suspicion of non-white Commonwealth migration.

‘The number of black people in Britain in the early postwar years was tiny – less than 0.02 % of the population, who mostly lived in London or the major port cities of Liverpool, Bristol and Cardiff.
Inflation and unemployement in the Caribbean drove British West Indians to seek better prospects in their ‘mother country’, which had guaranteed them UK citizenship by the Nationality Act of 1948. The first boatload of 492 Jamaicans arrived in 1948, and in the mid-1950s the annual flow exceeded 20,000 a year. By 1958 some 125,000 West Indians had settled in Britain since the war. Many of them (87% of the men and 95% of the women) had skills to offer; indeed a quarter of men and half the women were non-manual workers. This document is a report produced a year later by the Home Office on the position of the West Indian workers who arrived on the Empire Windrush ref RC/RF/1/01/E

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  • Title: Immigration Policy History
  • Creator: Home Office
  • Date Created: 1948-06-30
  • Location: London
  • External Link: Black Cultural Archives
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