The Government has now revised its proposals for dealing with draft the incompatibility of provisions of the British Nationality Act 1981. It has now laid a draft Remedial Order which concerns the right of a child of a British parent to become a British citizen by descent from their British parent, irrespective of whether it is their mother or their father who is British, and irrespective of whether their parents are married or not.
Committee report on Government's previous proposal
The JCHR reported on the Government’s previous proposal on 31 May 2018. In brief, the report concluded as follows:
- It is unacceptable that one’s British nationality should depend on whether one’s parents were married. The Committee therefore welcomed the Government’s decision to use the remedial order process to remedy this discrimination.
- The Committee raised a number of significant concerns about other related areas of discrimination in British nationality law, and invited the Home Secretary to make sure such discrimination was rapidly ended. In particular, the Committee highlighted that:
- British mothers should be able to pass on British nationality to their children in the same way as fathers can;
- Significant discrimination persists in getting British Overseas Territory Citizenship; and
- The Government should act to remedy other discrimination in British Nationality Law as soon as possible.
- The Committee noted the good character requirement for children over 10 and recommended that this should not apply where applications for nationality had been delayed because of the discrimination in the Act;
- The Committee also recommended that the Government should ensure that fees were not paid twice by people previously discriminated against under section 4F applications.
On 14 January, the Minister for Immigration responded to the Committee’s report in a letter to the Chair.
In general, the Government contended that a number of the Committee’s concerns were outside the scope of the Remedial Order and that the Committee’s wider recommendations would be revisited when a legislative opportunity arises. On the same day, the Government laid a revised draft Order.
Send in your views
The Committee is required by its terms of reference to report to Parliament on any remedial order made under the Human Rights Act.
The Committee will report on the draft Order within 60 days of its publication.
The JCHR now seeks evidence on the Government’s revised draft Order. The Committee invites submissions of no more than 1,500 words from interested groups and individuals as to whether the revised Order removes the incompatibility with Convention rights identified by the courts.
In addition, the Committee remains concerned about the application of the good character requirement to children seeking British nationality.
The Government’s position is that
"[c]hildren as young as 10 can and do commit very serious acts of criminality such as murder and rape, and the Government does not consider it appropriate to adjust the good character policy so that such acts would effectively become inadmissible when assessing a minor’s suitability for British citizenship."
The Committee seeks evidence on this specific issue.
Submit your views using the written submission form.
The deadline for submissions is Friday 22 February 2019.