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Lord Dholakia: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for what he has said. However, he has still not satisfied this side of the House. I am grateful to noble Lords, particularly the noble Lords, Lord Rees-Mogg and Lord Kingsland, for their support. There are some important issues. I know of no country—unless the Minister does—that deprives one of its citizens of his citizenship. We intend therefore, to have one more bite at this cherry at Third Reading. We shall certainly come back to this issue. If we are not satisfied with discussions between now and then, I tell the Minister now that we shall certainly seek the opinion of the House at that stage. However, in the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment Nos. 6 and 7 not moved.]

Lord Filkin moved Amendment No. 8:

"(c) otherwise in the public interest."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, on a happier note, or a less troublesome note, I am pleased to signal that in Committee the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew—who is not in his place today, which is a shame—made an eloquent speech about his worry about the use of the phrase, "of a political kind". In short, I made the response that Minister's do in those circumstances. However, the Government have used the summer to look at it in more detail.

The Government believe that it is possible to find alternative wording which I believe achieves what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, was seeking. Unless your Lordships particularly want me to do so, I shall not go into the technical detail of why we put our amendment rather than simply accepting that of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew. In practice, we believe that it does effect exactly his wish, without a number of disadvantages. I thank the noble and learned Lord for his contribution to the Bill in that respect, as in others. I beg to move.

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Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I rise to say that I had a conversation with my noble friend a short while ago. He expressed his gratitude that the Government had reflected during the summer and returned with this amendment, which he fully supports, as do I.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Filkin moved Amendment No. 9:

    Page 4, line 35, at end insert—

"( ) In exercising a power under section 40 of the British Nationality Act 1981 (c. 61) after the commencement of subsection (1) above the Secretary of State may have regard to anything which—
(a) occurred before commencement, and
(b) he could have relied on (whether on its own or with other matters) in making an order under section 40 before commencement."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, ever since the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914, our law has made provision for citizenship conferred by administrative grant to be withdrawn where the person concerned is found subsequently to have harmed, or posed a threat to, vital interests, as we recently discussed.

In the Bill, such actions are expressed in terms of disloyalty or disaffection towards the Crown, or as unlawful trade or communication with an enemy in time of war. We have proposed that those grounds should be replaced by those set out in Clause 4(1).

The amendment would simply make it clear that in deciding whether there were grounds for deprivation of citizenship under the new Section 40 of the British Nationality Act 1981, the Secretary of State would be entitled to have regard to events occurring before commencement of that section if those events would have justified deprivation under existing Section 40 of the 1981 Act.

Therefore, for example, an act by a naturalised citizen which amounted to disloyalty or disaffection towards Her Majesty for the purposes of existing Section 40(3)(a) of the 1981 Act might, if it had not been by then discovered and acted upon, justify the making of a deprivation order under Section 40(2) of the Act.

I emphasise that the amendment is not seeking to give retrospective effect to any of the new powers in Clause 4 of the Act. Rather, that it will preserve the ability to deprive a naturalised or registered citizen in reliance on the conduct that occurred prior to the commencement of the section, provided that the act that gives rise to the current liability would, if done after commencement, justify deprivation under the new provisions. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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Lord Filkin moved Amendment No. 10:

    After Clause 11, insert the following new clause—

(1) T he following shall be inserted after section 4A of the British Nationality Act 1981 (c. 61) (registration as British citizen)—
(1) This section applies to a person who has the status of—
(a) British Overseas citizen,
(b) British subject under this Act, or
(c) British protected person.
(2) A person to whom this section applies shall be entitled to be registered as a British citizen if—
(a) he applies for registration under this section,
(b) the Secretary of State is satisfied that the person does not have, apart from the status mentioned in subsection (1), any citizenship or nationality, and
(c) the Secretary of State is satisfied that the person has not renounced, voluntarily relinquished or lost through action or inaction any citizenship or nationality."
(2) In section 14(1) of that Act (meaning of British citizen "by descent"), in paragraph (d) for "section 5" there shall be substituted "section 4B or 5"."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary gave an undertaking in another place to reconsider the position of British overseas citizens who have no other nationality. As matters stand, those citizens have no right of abode, either in this country or elsewhere.

The Home Secretary stated the Government's view that we have a moral obligation to them of long standing and that the present unsatisfactory situation represented unfinished business. We have since concluded that a similar obligation is owed to British subjects and to British protected persons without other nationalities.

British overseas citizenship and the statuses of British subjects and British protected persons derive, in the main, from a personal or ancestral connection with a former British colony, or with a foreign place which was at one time under British jurisdiction. Generally speaking, the holders of those statuses failed to qualify for citizenship of a new state at the time of independence and therefore remained British.

The precise number of people in those categories has been difficult to pin down. In 1980, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office suggested in evidence to the Home Affairs Committee that about 1.5 million people would become British overseas citizens under the 1981 Act, of whom approximately 1.3 million people would have another—usually Malaysian—citizenship.

We estimate that there are now about 35,000 British overseas citizens and about 10,000 British subjects and British protected persons who have no other citizenship. However, a wide margin of error must be allowed for those figures. They are based largely on personal contact with our overseas Commissions in the course of applications for passports and other

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consular services. Undoubtedly, there will be other people who have not availed themselves of those services.

The amendments which we now propose will provide British overseas citizens, British subjects and British protected persons having no other nationality, with an entitlement to acquire, on application, and subject to some further requirements—which I shall presently explain—British citizenship.

In doing so, they would also acquire automatically a right of abode here. In other words, they would no longer be subject to United Kingdom immigration controls, but could come and go at will subject to the usual requirements for proof of right of entry on arrival. They would additionally, as EU citizens under the Treaty of Rome, acquire the right of free movement under the treaty.

The requirements for acquisition of British citizenship under the new clause are as follows. First, the applicant must be a British overseas citizen, a British subject or a British protected person. Secondly, the applicant must have no other nationality or citizenship on the date of application. Thirdly, the applicant should not previously have given up an alternative nationality or citizenship, whether through action or inaction on his part.

The latter requirement would exclude those who had lost another nationality through failure to take the steps prescribed by the law of that country for its retention beyond a certain date, as well as those who had lost another nationality as a result of some positive act on their part—such as the making of a declaration of renunciation. Such countries are tolerant of dual nationality in minors but require that on attaining the age of majority, the person must not only renounce their citizenship but also make a declaration of intention as to future residence, and/or take an oath of allegiance.

Therefore, we do not consider it appropriate to extend an entitlement to British citizenship to those who, by their actions or inaction, have given up another nationality, and one assumes the right to reside permanently in the country of that nationality.

The Secretary of State must be satisfied that the applicant has no other nationality or citizenship and has not given up another nationality or citizenship. Our experience in implementing the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1990 suggests that there is endless scope for argument about that. Therefore, the intention is that in most cases the applicant will be required to produce a statement from both the authorities of the country of his birth and those of the countries in which his parents were born, if different, confirming the lack of an alternative nationality or citizenship, and the reasons for any historical loss of such citizenship.

The amendment proposes that those registered as British citizens, under the new provision would be British citizens "by descent" for the purposes of the British Nationality Act 1981. As such, they would be subject to the restrictions imposed by that Act on the ability of British citizens "by descent" to transmit their

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citizenship to a further generation born outside the United Kingdom. That would be consistent with their present position whereby British overseas citizenship and the status of British subject and the British protected person are usually non-transmissible.

Any children born in the United Kingdom following their parents' registration as British citizens would, of course, acquire British citizenship automatically.

For those reasons, the Government hope that your Lordships welcome this further movement prompted, in part, by representations that were made to us. I invite the noble Lords, Lord Dholakia and Lord Avebury, if they are so minded, to withdraw their amendment. I beg to move.

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