§ 2.54 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Belstead)
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
§ Moved, that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Belstead.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [THE EARL OF LISTOWEL in the Chair.]
§ Clause 2 [Acquisition by descent]:
Lord Spens moved Amendment No. 21:
Page 2, line 36, at end insert ("either both parents are British citizens or").
§ The noble Lord said: There seem to be five ways in which British citizenship can be acquired: by birth within the United Kingdom, which is what we were discussing last week under Clause 1; by birth outside the United Kingdom for some children having British blood in their veins, called citizenship by descent; by registration; by adoption; and by naturalisation. I believe there may be a sixth way, and I shall mention that later.
Clause 2 deals with the acquisition of British citizenship by descent for children born outside the United Kingdom with some British blood in their veins. Jus sanguinis, compared with jus soli, which is what we were discussing last week, to my mind means that British blood is, or should be, thicker than the mere accident of the place of birth. However, Clause 2 as drafted is very narrow and seems to give an advantage to the children of parents who themselves have obtained British citizenship only by adoption, registration or naturalisation, while children of parents where many generations of British blood have come through into their veins may not necessarily have the right to acquire such citizenship by descent. That seems to me to be the effect of Clause 2(1)(a) which reads:
A person born outside the United Kingdom after commencement shall be a British citizen if at the time of the birth his father or mother … is a British citizen otherwise than by descent".
I thought at one time that my own daughter would
be subject to that because she was born in Germany while I was serving with the British Control Commission in that country, but it appears that she is covered by Clause 13(2) and (3) which let out the children of certain people serving abroad:
A person born outside the United Kingdom before commencement is not a British citizen 'by descent' if his father was at the time of his birth serving outside the United Kingdom in service of a description mentioned in subsection (3), his recruitment for the service in question having taken place in the United Kingdom".
The description of service referred to in subsection (2) is:
- "(a) Crown service under the government of the United Kingdom; and
- "(b) service of any description at any time designated under section 2(3)".
§ I believe this is where, possibly, a sixth category comes in, that category of British citizens who at the commencement of this new law are British citizens and therefore carry on being British citizens no matter what their parentage. That covers most Servicemen, so there is no trouble there. However, I believe there are large numbers of British citizens abroad who are having children abroad and who are not covered by Clause 2 or the proviso in Clause 13. They are children with British parents on both sides with 100 per cent. British blood in their veins, but because their parents have been working abroad, possibly themselves have been born abroad and have had their children abroad, those children do not qualify under Clause 2 to become British citizens. I do not know what their numbers are but they must run into thousands. I am told there are 30,000 British citizens working in the Middle East, at least another 80,000 working in the Common Market, and I do not know how many are working in other countries all over the world. So this is not a specialised situation. It is a situation where a large number of children with 100 per cent. British blood in their veins are not automatically to be granted British citizenship.
§ If we look at the other side of the coin, we see that a large number of children with only a modicum of British blood in their veins will be granted British citizenship after being born abroad. Let us consider the example of a person who was granted naturalisation only last week. He might go abroad, become a father, and the child immediately becomes a British citizen. The person in question might in fact marry a foreigner, one who is not British. The couple might go abroad and spend the rest of their lives abroad, but their children would be British citizens, because under Clause 2(1)(a) of the Bill the father is a British citizen other than by descent.
This is really a charter for a multiracial society, but, as I see it, at the expense of the truly British citizen. The effect of my amendment would be that Clause 2(1) of the Bill would read as follows:
A person born outside the United Kingdom after commencement shall be a British citizen if at the time of the birth either both parents are British citizens or his father or mother … is a British citizen otherwise than by descent …".
If the words of my amendment are approved, they will I believe cover a large majority of these cases. I beg to move.
§ Viscount Hanworth
I wish very strongly to support the amendment. It seems to me extraordinary that whereas in the past we encouraged people to go out to various parts of our empire and today we encourage them to earn foreign currency abroad, nevertheless we treat them in the way that we have heard about. I appreciate the problems regarding the Bill. We are trying to make the situation absolutely fair for people immigrating to this country, but important though that is, we have a right to look after our own people first as far as we can. To kick them in the teeth—and that is the only way to describe it—for giving service to this nation and to make them or their children possibly into second-class citizens is simply not acceptable.
§ Lord Carver
I, too, wish to support the amendment. I sympathise with the Government in two aspects of what they are trying to do through the clause. First, they are trying to bring some order into the fantastic situation into which British nationality has fallen, in particular in relation to those born outside this country. Secondly, they are trying to avoid creating an entire new group of people who are entitled to British citizenship by descent but who do not really intend to be runtime citizens of this country. I am very grateful that the armed forces are fully covered by the Bill, and I have no complaint on that score. But like the noble Lord who moved the amendment and the noble Viscount who has already supported it, I believe that in their attempt to draw a line somewhere the Government have drawn it a little too tightly. Here I think of two examples, one of which is a personal one. I recall some years ago when, in the middle of Nepal on a trek, arriving at a most admirable place, the Shining Hospital, in Pokhara. I am fairly certain that the hospital was not manned through any support from the British Government. The devoted doctors there were not working for any organisation which could be said to have a connection with this country. All over the world, including many places where I have been, men and women devote their lives—I do not know what the situation would be in regard to missionaries—to help people of other countries, in particular those of ex-dependent territories, to improve their own lives economically, culturally, spiritually—in fact in every way.
My own son works for the Botswana Development Corporation. He did work for Her Majesty's Government, but now he would not come under any of the categories in the Bill, and so as I see it, if he has children in Botswana, his children would not be entitled to British citizenship. It he wished to establish British citizenship for his child, he would have to return to this country for at least three years during the period of the child's minority. That might not be at all convenient for his employers or for many other people. I cite that example because I know of it from personal experience.
Having served in Asia, Africa, and elsewhere, I know that there are thousands of such people, and I am sure that we should encourage men and women of this country to be prepared to live abroad, to devote their lives to the service of other people and to helping what is sometimes called the third world, without having any worry as to whether or not their children 1002 should be entitled—not at the discretion of the Secretary of State—to British citizenship. I should have thought that the modest amendment proposed by my noble friend seated behind me should provide the Government with a perfectly adequate safeguard against opening the door to a completely new group of people entitled to be citizens of this country.
§ 3.6 p.m.
§ Baroness Trumpington
I do not rise to support the amendment, because with the very greatest respect to the noble Lord, Lord Spens, I do not think that he has got it right. If one has a point to make, it is extremely difficult to know on which amendment to speak, and since I wish to ask my noble and learned friend the Minister a question, I thought I would choose this occasion; you pays your money and you takes your choice. So I shall get my question in now, if I may.
Like many other Members of your Lordships' Committee, I have been made aware of the considerable amount of worry that certain clauses of the Bill are causing British nationals working abroad. For instance, people who are working for the EEC have formed a body called the Association for Rights of Britons Abroad. One of their concerns relates to the fact that children born to them while they are abroad are citizens by descent. I hope that I have been correct in telling them that these children are citizens by descent as of now. They have become so due to the fact that their parents registered their births at the nearest consulate. When the Bill becomes law applications to the Secretary of State will take the place of registering at a consulate for purposes of registration, as stated in Clause 3.
However, a further point arises. What is the position of a girl and a young man, both citizens by descent—I emphasise the word "both"—who marry and have a baby? They might, for instance, be the children of two families whose work is with the EEC. The young couple might well be students at a foreign university and their baby might well be born abroad. I shall be grateful if my noble and learned friend can tell me what will be the nationality of the baby. Would the situation regarding the baby's nationality be changed if the young couple returned to England for the actual birth? The Bill will prevent the babies of foreign students in this country from obtaining instant British nationality, but I shall be grateful if the noble and learned Lord the Minister can clarify the situation regarding babies born of British parents who are both citizens by descent and who happen to be born abroad.
§ Lord Somers
I rather feel that I support the amendment, though I am a little uncertain because, quite frankly, the Bill is so confusing that I cannot quite make out what are or are not the conditions. I, too, should like to ask the noble and learned Lord a question. My two sisters were born in America. My father was naturally an English citizen. However, my mother was American, and I am not certain whether or not at the time she became an English citizen by having married an Englishman. I think that at the time I was given to understand that she did become an English citizen, but as a child I was given to understand many things which later I discovered were entirely untrue. So what would be the position of my 1003 two sisters, they having been born in America and then finally coming back to England to live?
§ Lord Milverton
I should like to support the noble Lord, Lord Spens, in his amendment. It seems to me a very reasonable one; and I think that the noble Lords opposite who have spoken in his support have made their position clear. It is complicated—like many others, one finds it very complicated—but I believe they have a point concerning the children of whom they are thinking. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will give earnest consideration to this amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Spens, and to what has been said in support of it by the other Peers who have so far spoken.
§ Lord Geddes
I, too, should like to support, perhaps not the exact wording of the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Spens, but certainly the principle lying behind that wording. Indeed, I personally mentioned, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Spens, did, on the Second Reading of this Bill, the situation of the generation three child. On further research it appears, just to anticipate my noble friend on the Front Bench, subject to Clauses 31 and 35 and possibly, therefore, Schedule 2, that unless this Bill is materially altered in the context of the right to British nationality in this respect, those thoroughly British children born overseas beyond generation two not only would be (and I use a rather emotional word) disinherited, in that they could not of right claim British nationality, but if they happened to be born in one of a number of countries—I have here a list of 19 countries, and I will mention just one or two by way of illustration—then they would be stateless. So not only have you the position of these children not having British nationality as of right, but they would have no nationality.
Those countries, in no particular order, include Japan, the Philippines, the People's Republic of China, Malaysia, the Bahamas, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Solomons and Saudi Arabia. I think it is an appalling position (to paraphrase the words of the noble Lord, Lord Spens) that genuine British children of genuine British parents could face the situation of disinheritance.
The Lord Bishop of Peterborough
From these Benches (and I speak for myself only; one never speaks for another bishop), I would hope that the Minister can assure us that this point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Spens, is covered in the Bill as it is—and I have tried to work it out, translating it into the Latin to make it clearer. I wholeheartedly support the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Spens.
§ 3.13 p.m.
§ Lord Avebury
In answer to the noble Lord opposite, the provisions for reducing statelessness in Schedule 2 are indeed inadequate in the case that he put; and there ought to be provision in the Bill for ensuring that where children of British descent are born in countries which do not have jus soli, then they do retain the British citizenship of their ancestors. I go that far with the noble Lord, and I think that in underlining that point he shows the evil consequences that would follow if a 1004 large number of countries departed from the rule which Great Britain has so sensibly had in the law for the last seven centuries.
The noble Lord mentioned some countries where it is unlikely that any very large numbers of children of British descent are likely to be born, such as the People's Republic of China and Saudi Arabia. I think that anybody who had a child in Saudi Arabia would be very unwise; and British citizens living and working there would probably be sensible from the medical point of view and come back to the United Kingdom for that purpose. But leaving that aside, the noble Lord has a point in principle: that if the number of countries which did not confer citizenship on children born within their territory were to increase—and we are setting a very bad example in this Bill—then the number of stateless children of British ancestry would, of course, increase as well, bearing in mind, as has been said, the very large number of British citizens who will be living and working abroad.
But I see one fundamental objection to the amendment that we have in front of us; and I think, if I may say so to the noble Lord, Lord Spens, that his case can be taken care of by a combination of other amendments later in the Marshalled List. The objection which I see is this. Provided somebody born overseas continues to marry only a person of British descent, then British citizenship can transmit itself over an unlimited number of generations; and so we shall get building up again, as we have in the past, communities of people overseas who enjoy our citizenship but who have no connection, as the White Paper has it, with the United Kingdom.
I am thinking, for instance, of the community of citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies who live in Argentina and Chile, where many of them do not even speak any English. There was the tragic case, your Lordships will remember, of Miss Claire Wilson, who was tortured in Chile and who came forward to give evidence to the embassy in Santiago. Miss Wilson could not speak a word of English. When I was in Buenos Aires on behalf of Amnesty International in 1976 I went to the women's prison at Villa Devoto, where I met a young lady of British descent with a British name. I had to speak to her through an interpreter.
So I think that if the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Spens, were to be accepted, there would be these communities growing up all round the world of people who did not have any real tie or connection with the United Kingdom; and, therefore, subject to the proviso that the noble Lord opposite has made, that we do not want children finishing up stateless, there has to be a limit on the number of generations of transmission of citizenship by descent to children born overseas. I think this point has not been taken care of by the noble Lord, Lord Spens, but I have a great deal of sympathy with the general principle of his amendment.
§ Baroness Gaitskell
I should like to support the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Spens. Any Bill which is so muddled, so complex and so unfair to its own citizens must be bad essentially. I speak as a first-generation immigrant—and I am British three times over, from the days when Britain was great. I am British by naturalisation, and I am British 1005 twice by marriage. Those were the days when, as I say, Britain was great. I completely support the noble Lord, Lords Spens, in this amendment.
§ Baroness Elles
Before the noble Lord replies, I know that probably many of us will have interests to declare and I have a grand-daughter to declare who was born in Brussels. She is very small at the moment, but her position will come out when we deal with the amendments that my noble friend Lord Bess-borough and I have on the Marshalled List. I wonder whether my noble friend, when replying, would answer this question. Surely the amendment as tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Spens, while I fully appreciate the sentiments behind it, would in fact apply equally to British citizens who have been naturalised and registered, and would not in fact have the effect which he desires it should have?
§ Lord Hatch of Lusby
Before the Minister replies, I wonder whether I might ask him to include in his reply, if he is able to do so, the answer to one question. In drafting this Bill, and following the discussions in another place, have members of the Diplomatic Corps been consulted?—because I have had personal experience of members of the Diplomatic Corps who are very concerned about the future, particularly, of their grandchildren. As the noble Lord, Lord Spens, has pointed out, there are many British citizens in different parts of the world who are doing excellent work, and the value of that work may well be reflected in the desire of their families to settle in those countries, at least for an extended period. What is the position of the grandchildren of a present member of the Diplomatic Corps in many parts of the world, particularly those grandchildren who may marry indigenous spouses and thereby at least put in doubt their claim to a continued citizenship of this country?
§ Lord Mishcon
My heart goes out to the noble and learned Lord the Minister after listening to this discussion and my heart also goes out to the whole of the nation. This discussion and others like it show this Bill to be an absolute maze. I wonder whether the noble and learned Lord the Minister would not only consider taking this amendment back and looking at it but would care to take the whole Bill back and look at it again?
§ 3.21 p.m.
§ The Lord Advocate (Lord Mackay of Clashfern)
In the nature of things any Bill which attempts to deal comprehensively with the subject of British nationality is bound not to be readily understood at a cursory first reading. The subject is necessarily a complicated one and obviously a great number of related questions have to be considered at the same time. It is my hope—and I am sure the hope of the Government—that the discussions which the Committee have had and will have will help to make the Bill even clearer than it is at the present time. Of course, the Government will pay very close attention to all that is said here, and if that is what the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, means by taking the Bill back, then of course I readily undertake to do so.
The amendment that has been moved by the noble 1006 Lord, Lord Spens, concentrates on one particular problem: the child both of whose parents are British citizens by descent. The intention of the amendment is to enable British citizens born abroad to transmit their citizenship to their children born abroad if they are married to British citizens. It is obvious that the main beneficiaries would be British citizens by descent who marry British citizens by descent. Where for instance a man who was a British citizen by descent married a woman who was a British citizen otherwise than by descent—say a British citizen by birth in this country—then children born overseas to such a couple would automatically acquire British citizenship under the Bill as it stands by virtue of the citizenship of their mother. In the next amendment the whole question of principle about the extension of British citizenship abroad will be raised, and it may not be wise for me therefore to attempt to go over the whole ground at this stage. It may be better if I try to concentrate on the problem which this amendment raises.
The Government have taken the view that British citizenship should be transmitted automatically, on equal terms by men and women to the first generation born overseas, but that British citizenship—which carries with it a right of abode in this country, which is a most important matter—should be transmitted to the second and subsequent generations born overseas only where there is a real and tangible link with this country—say where the parent of the child has ties with this country through his or her work. We believe that British citizenship which carried with it a right of abode should reflect a real tie with this country—a tie which is substantial enough to justify the unrestricted right to enter this country freely. We accept that people born abroad to those who hold British citizenship by direct ties with this country can be assumed to have such links, but we do not believe that it is right to assume that the second and successive generations born overseas will necessarily look to this country in quite the same way—indeed, that has already been pointed out.
This amendment, however, would extend British citizenship automatically to successive generations born overseas provided both parents of the child concerned were British citizens. No further qualification would be required. No other tie with this country would be demanded beyond the citizenship of the parents, and it would be quite possible for a child to acquire British citizenship in this way who had only the most remote ancestral connection with this country, and it would happen absolutely automatically. The ties of such a child's family with this country in terms of real attachment and links could be negligible. Yet such a child would have British citizenship and the right of abode in this country automatically.
There is another factor which we should bear in mind and that is the nature of marriage today, based as it is in most cases on a free choice of individuals who seek equal status within marriage. We have recognised elsewhere in this Bill that it is no longer appropriate to confer citizenship simply by virtue of marriage, and it follows, in our submission, that it is not right either that marriage alone should confer special privileges as regards the transmission of citizenship. After all, many of our citizens have married 1007 foreign spouses. But they are not less loyal to this country in consequence, and often continue to have very real links with the country through living overseas.
Surely such persons who have married a foreign spouse could reasonably argue that they are placed at a disadvantage in transmitting citizenship because of their choice of marriage partner, if this amendment were to be approved. As my noble friend Lady Elles has pointed out, this amendment would apply to cover persons who were British citizens originally by virtue of naturalisation. Many questions have been raised and some of them—for example, the question that my noble friend Lady Trumpington asked—will be more appropriately discussed in relation to amendments which raise the EEC situation. Perhaps Amendment No. 71 would be the most appropriate one.
Questions have been asked by the noble Lord, Lord Somers. As I understood the situation, the ladies in question, having been born overseas to a father who was a British citizen by birth, would be British citizens by descent assuming that the provisions of this Bill apply. Regarding the question of the noble Lord, Lord Geddes, the persons to whom he referred, if they are connected with this country in the manner specified, under either Clause 2 or 3, would have the opportunity of passing the citizenship on. There might be cases where these provisions would not apply. So far as the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, is concerned, the question which he raised is best answered by saying that the consular staff association have been consulted about the provisions of this Bill. As I am sure the noble Lord is well aware, the position of the members of the consular service is regulated by the latter part of Clause 2 of this Bill.
The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Carver, raised a question with regard to missionaries. The situation is that they are certainly persons who may well qualify under the provisions of Clause 3 to transmit citizenship to their children. The various questions which have been raised in relation to this matter indicate the difficulty of fixing a satisfactory boundary for citizenship transmission, but in my submission none of them would justify discriminating between a citizen by descent who marries another British citizen by descent on the one hand, and a British citizen who marries a foreign national on the other hand. In my submission that would not be a safe line to take, and I therefore invite the noble Lord not to press this amendment. As he will no doubt appreciate, the full answer to the way in which the Government have developed this particular method of describing citizenship is something that we shall have to return to again in later amendments to this clause.
I must certainly study what has been said by the noble and learned Lord the Minister this afternoon. I do not propose to press this amendment today. I should just like to make one point. The noble Lord talked about discrimination, but surely discrimination is there already? Discrimination is there when a person who was naturalised last week can go abroad and live abroad for the rest of his life, marry a foreigner and their children will become British. I should have thought that that was more 1008 discriminating than any discrimination against 200 per cent. British citizens who happen to be abroad when they marry. Surely an accident in the place of one's birth is much more of an accident than anything else. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 3.32 p.m.
Lord Renton moved Amendment No. 22:
Page 2, line 38, leave out ("otherwise than by descent").
§ The noble Lord said: I tabled this as a probing amendment, in order to find out the true effect of the words: "otherwise than by descent". It is an important matter on which your Lordships' Committee is of course entitled to the usual clear and careful explanation which we have come to expect from my noble friends. I have no intention of dividing your Lordships on this matter. Indeed, after the discussion on Amendment No. 21, which was fairly wide ranging, I wondered whether I really needed to move this amendment; but as some noble Lords may have thought that this was a substantive amendment on which they wished to make representations, I thought it would be wrong of me not to move it, at least fairly briefly.
§ In order to find out what the Bill does about acquiring British citizenship by descent, one has to consider no fewer than six pages of text in the Bill. Those six pages cover Clauses 2, 3, 8 and 13 and indeed one or two cross-references as well. May I say in passing that I am not blaming parliamentary counsel. One should never blame parliamentary counsel unless one has some idea of the instructions which have been given to him. I do not know what instructions were given to parliamentary counsel about this Bill, but one realised from past experience that it could not be a simple matter and that somehow the Bill had to be dovetailed into previous legislation so that when it came into force it would cause the minimum of chaos or hardship.
§ As I see it, the essence of this matter if acquiring British citizenship by descent is that the opportunity to do so is limited to one generation. That is the fundamental point. It is that point which is established by using the words referred to in this amendment, which are: "otherwise than by descent". But there are important exceptions. Some of them have been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Spens, but perhaps I could just summarise them. As I understand the matter, there are three exceptions. The first exception is for the children of those in Crown service. The second exception is for children of those in service associated with Crown service, to be designated by the Home Secretary under the power given to him in Clause 2(3). The third exception is for those in other employment involving a close connection with the United Kingdom as widely defined in Clause 3(3), which will also allow citizenship by descent to be acquired. I will not attempt to define that subsection, but the exception applies if the subject is in "relevant employment" as defined in Clause 3(3).
§ When the Bill was first introduced, and before I had time to fathom it—and I do not claim to have fathomed it completely even now—I was anxious, 1009 like the noble Lord, Lord Spens, lest what I can only describe as traditionally British people serving overseas and doing this nation a great deal of good by so doing, might find that their children were born either as foreigners or stateless. As we have very properly and decisively abandoned at an earlier stage in your Lordships' Committee the jus soli, surely it would be right for us to ensure that the jus sanguinis operates to a fair and reasonable extent without creating the kind of nonsense to which the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, referred when speaking to the previous amendment; or indeed without providing, as it could, an indirect way of circumventing immigration controls. That is a perfectly legitimate point and one that should be considered.
§ There are these two conflicting problems which arise on this amendment and on the limitation to one generation in the acquisition of British citizenship by descent. The problems are that, on the one hand, we want to give fair play to the jus sanguinis by enabling the children born abroad of those British citizens who serve abroad to retain their connection with this country, and, on the other hand, we do not want to return to the kind of nonsense which this Bill is designed to prevent. I look forward to hearing what my noble friend has to say by way of explanation, and I beg to move.
§ Lord Mackay of Clashfern
I am extremely grateful to my noble friend for putting down this amendment and thus affording us an early opportunity, in consideration of the amendments relating to Clause 2, to give fairly general consideration to the situation. I should like to begin by seeking to describe the current arrangements for the transmission of citizenship, because they appear to be both anomalous and confused.
Our present law places no restriction on male citizens born, naturalised or registered in this country from transmitting their citizenship to their children born abroad. But women citizens have no such rights. Beyond the first generation born abroad, male citizens—and male citizens only—may transmit their citizenship to their children born abroad, but they may do so only in certain circumstances. They may do so where, for example, the father is in Crown service at the time of the child's birth, or if the child is born in a foreign but not a Commonwealth country and the child's birth is registered within a limited time at a British consulate.
There is no limitation on the transmission of citizenship to further generations born abroad in these circumstances but, as mentioned in connection with the last amendment, it is important in considering citizenship now also to consider the position with regard to the right of abode. At present the right of abode under the Immigration Act 1971 does not extend beyond the second generation born overseas. So, for instance, though a child born, say, in France or Egypt to a male citizen whose grandfather was born in this country can be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies if his birth is registered at a British consulate, that child will not have the right of abode in this country and will be subject to immigration control.
It is a most important part of the policy behind this Bill to bring together nationality, British citizenship and the right of abode in this country. The 1010 Government believe the time has come to put the arrangement for citizenship by descent on a more rational basis and one which will ensure that where people born abroad have real links with this country they are able to secure British citizenship and the right of abode. Accordingly, the Bill proposes a scheme for citizenship by descent on the following lines. British citizenship will be transmitted automatically to the first generation of children born overseas. Women citizens will be able to transmit their citizenship equally with men, and so the chances of a child born overseas having a parent from whom he can derive our citizenship will be enormously increased. It must be the case that very many of the people who are concerned at the ending of consular registration have nothing to fear, because the wife will have been born in the United Kingdom or their children will marry wives who were born here. The extension of transmission rights to women therefore is not just a piece of window-dressing; it has a very marked practical effect on the extent to which our citizenship may be passed on.
So far then, automatic passing on to the first generation; beyond the first generation overseas, a child born overseas to a British citizen who is himself or herself born overseas will be able to acquire British citizenship on application while the parent of the child is in various forms of overseas employment. The Government have considerably widened the ambit of these in another place, and we believe that any parent who is a British citizen born abroad and who has a reasonable connection with the United Kingdom through his employment will now be able to secure citizenship in this way for his or her children born abroad, and there is no limit on the generations in such cases.
Where the parent is in Crown Service under the Government of the United Kingdom and has been recruited for that service in the United Kingdom, then the child will be a British citizen. In the Government's view, this is reasonable, since in many cases the child will be barred from local citizenship by the nature of the parent's employment and the parent will normally be only on a short-term assignment to the country of the child's birth before returning to the United Kingdom or moving to another posting elsewhere.
The Bill also provides a further avenue for a child born overseas in the second and subsequent generations, where the British citizen parent does not have ties with this country through his work; where the child returns to this country with his or her family and lives here for three years, then the child will be entitled to British citizenship on application.
We believe that these provisions are at least as generous as those which apply at present. They are certainly much more generous than those which apply at present to children born in Commonwealth countries where there is no provision for consular registration. When all the provisions I have mentioned are taken into account they are arguably no less generous than the current facilities for citizenship by consular registration in foreign countries.
However, we are very much aware of the concern that has been felt among our citizens in such countries about the ending of these facilities. We do not accept that this justifies the indefinite continuation of these 1011 arrangements. Those concerned, in our view, have no grounds for expecting that the current arrangements should continue indefinitely. As I have made clear, it is already the case that, while citizenship may be transmitted through successive generations by consular registration, the right of abode is not, and ceases after the second generation born overseas.
None the less, in order to ease the fear of people who may be affected by the termination of consular registration, we have been prepared to continue citizenship by consular registration to a limited extent. As with other entitlements to citizenship which are to be discontinued, we think it is right that those who had a reasonable expectation of acquiring citizenship in this way should not face any special difficulty because of a sudden end to these arrangements. Accordingly, Clause 8 of the Bill preserves for five years the effect of the current arrangements for consular registration for those married men resident in foreign countries at commencement who, but for this Bill, had a well-based expectation of being able to transmit their citizenship to a child who would be eligible for British citizenship.
There are similar provisions which enable children to be registered as citizens of the British dependent territories or as British overseas citizens. We shall have an opportunity to consider those further at the appropriate time and I do not wish to go into details of them now. However, they are a further indication of the efforts we have made to ensure that citizens by descent do not suffer as a result of this Bill.
We cannot perpetuate the inequities of the present system of citizenship by descent. There must be a more logical and rational basis which, however, avoids hardship and ensures that where there is a real link with this country British citizenship and the right of abode which is now to go with it is extended generously. We believe that the Bill achieves that.
As my noble friend Lord Renton has explained, this amendment was put down with the purpose of enabling the position to be explored. We believe that the amendment itself would have very serious consequences, particularly for immigration, because of course it would carry with it to all generations the right of abode in the United Kingdom. I believe it would also seriously devalue British citizenship by conferring it automatically on people who had only very distant links with this country. I believe that the arrangements for citizenship by descent in the Bill which I have sought to outline are much more in keeping with a citizenship that is to be based on a real link with this country and which, by virtue of such a link, carries with it the right of abode in this country. And, of course, we must not forget, when we are thinking of our own citizenship, the situation so far as citizenship of other countries is concerned. It may well be that British citizens by descent would like their children to be linked more closely with the country of their birth rather than with the country of origin of the parent, perhaps at a considerable ancestral distance.
I hope, in the light of what I have said, that your Lordships will feel the basic scheme for citizenship by descent which this Bill embodies is a reasonable and fair one, and that my noble friend will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
§ Lord Renton
I moved this amendment because I felt that your Lordships, and, indeed, many thousands of other people, were entitled to a full explanation from the Government as to the implication of limiting the right of citizenship by descent to one generation. We have had that full explanation, and a very clear one, from my noble and learned friend the Lord Advocate. Accordingly, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 3.50 p.m.
Lord Aylestone moved Amendment No. 23:
Page 2, line 38, leave out from ("citizen") to end of line 42.
§ The noble Lord said: This amendment, which is in my name and in the names of my noble friends, covers much the same ground as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate has covered, and on which he has given us a great deal of information. But I feel that the many thousands of British families abroad, some of whom have written to Members of this House, should have an opportunity of knowing exactly where we stand on this issue.
§ The truth is that, at the moment, without the exceptions and exemptions that can be put into the Bill as now drafted, no child born abroad of British parents will be British unless one of the parents has been born in this country. Therefore, it is quite likely that, after the commencement of the Act, grandparents in this country will have grandchildren born abroad who are stateless. I have said, and I shall repeat, that there is an opportunity for the parents to take some action to prevent that happening, but the children could be stateless, because many countries do not have the jus soli principle from which we ourselves have, unfortunately, departed. Those children would have no state of their own when born abroad, though they may take the opportunity of becoming naturalised in that other country.
§ It is a problem that is worrying many thousands of people who are working—and working for this country —abroad. By tradition, over the centuries many families have been employed abroad and their children have come to this country for their education. This was true in the days when we were much more active in India than we are today. But it was wrong then, and it is wrong now, that the second generation—as they are now described—of children born abroad should not automatically be British, though many will, undoubtedly, take the steps which the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate has adumbrated to enable them to become British citizens. The White Paper, and the Green Paper of the former Administration, had very little difference between them on this problem of second generation children, because they both rejected the idea of extending British citizenship to them.
§ I know that my amendment is faulty. In fact, no amendment drafted by a layman to any Bill has yet been correct. Although my amendment would suggest that British citizenship is passed on indefinitely, I can assure noble Lords that the objective of my colleagues and myself, at this stage at least, is to extend it only to the second generation, so that the grandparents of children born abroad after the commencement of the Act will realise that those children are British. It may 1013 be that they will decide to stay in that other country. It may be that they will marry in that country. Those are personal decisions which they must take.
§ I do not intend to take up any more time, as the whole matter was discussed fairly adequately on the last two amendments. This is a long Bill and we have a long way to go. But if the noble and learned Lord will give me an undertaking to look at the question of the second generation, and no further than that, I shall gladly withdraw my amendment. I beg to move.
§ 3.55 p.m.
§ Lord Mackay of Clashfern
As the noble Lord, Lord Aylestone, who moved this amendment, has clearly indicated, we have already discussed the ground to some extent. The question of where one stops in the automatic conferment of citizenship by succession overseas is certainly a difficult one. But the Government have given very full consideration to it and I fear, therefore, that I am not in a position to give any undertaking that we will reconsider that in any meaningful sense.
It is, of course, clear, as the noble Lord himself has said, that his amendment goes far beyond the second generation and means that British citizenship would be transmitted indefinitely, as would the right of abode. In a sense, that kind of difficulty may be the very reason why it is so vitally important to have citizenship and right of abode together, so that people do not misunderstand and do not get the impression that, because they are citizens, they have a right of abode when that is not the genuine situation. Accordingly, this Bill has as one of its most important objects to make citizenship and the right of abode coterminous, so far as British citizens are concerned. This amendment would mean that the right of abode was carried to all generations born overseas, and I certainly could not invite the Committee to support it.
§ Lord Aylestone
As I said earlier, I appreciate that the amendment is very widely drawn, but I should have hoped that the noble and learned Lord would be able to say that he would take it away and look at it again. I wanted an assurance that the second generation, which is the grandchildren of grandparents who may be living in this country at the moment, who are born abroad would not be rendered stateless, in some cases, and would always have the right of abode in their homeland. As the noble and learned Lord is unable to give us that assurance, I really must divide the Committee.
§ 3.58 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 23) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 79; Not-Contents, 108.1015
|Airedale, L.||Birk, B.|
|Ardwick, L.||Bishopston, L.|
|Avebury, L.||Briginshaw, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Brockway, L.|
|Bacon, B.||Bruce of Donington, L.|
|Banks, L.||Byers, L.|
|Barrington, V.||Carver, L.|
|Chitnis, L.||Mayhew, L.|
|Clancarty, E.||Milverton, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Mishcon, L.|
|Collison, L.||Molloy, L.|
|Cooper of Stockton Heath, L.||Newall, L.|
|David, B.||Nunburnholme, L.|
|Derby, Bp.||Oram, L.|
|Diamond, L.||Peart, L.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Perry of Walton, L. [Teller.]|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Phillips, B.|
|Gaitskell, B.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Gifford, L.||Plant, L.|
|Gladwyn, L.||Rathcreedan, L.|
|Gosford, E.||Reilly, L.|
|Grey, E.||Roberthall, L.|
|Hale, L.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Hatch of Lusby, L.||Seear, B.|
|Hughes, L.||Sligo, M.|
|Hunt, L. [Teller.]||Southwell, Bp.|
|Ilchester, E.||Stewart of Alvechurch, B.|
|Jacques, L.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Janner, L.||Stone, L.|
|Jenkins of Putney, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|John-Mackie, L.||Strauss, L.|
|Kilmarnock, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Kinloss, Ly.||Thurso, V.|
|Lawrence, L.||Truro, Bp.|
|Leatherland, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Lloyd of Hampstead, L.||White, B.|
|Loudoun, C.||Wigoder, L.|
|MacLeod of Fuinary, L.||Wootton of Abinger, B.|
|Airey of Abingdon, B.||Hunt of Tanworth, L.|
|Allen of Abbeydale, L.||Hylton, L.|
|Alport, L.||Hylton-Foster, B.|
|Auckland, L.||Kemsley, V.|
|Avon, E.||Killearn, L.|
|Balfour of Inchrye, L.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Barnby, L.||Lane-Fox, B.|
|Bellwin, L.||Long, V.|
|Beloff, L.||Lothian, M.|
|Belstead, L.||Luke, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Lyell, L.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, L.||McAlpine of Moffat, L.|
|Caccia L.||McFadzean, L.|
|Campbell of Alloway, L.||Mackay of Clashfern, L.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Macleod of Borve, B.|
|Clwyd, L.||Mansfield, E.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Marley, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Minto, E.|
|Daventry, V.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Davidson, V.||Montgomery of Alamein, V.|
|De L'Isle, V.||Mountgarret, V.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Dormer, L.||Moyne, L.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Murton of Lindisfarne, L.|
|Eccles, V.||Norfolk, D.|
|Effingham, E.||Northchurch, B.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Northesk, E.|
|Elles, B.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Onslow, E.|
|Elton, L.||Penrhyn, L.|
|Exeter, M.||Rawlinson of Ewell, L.|
|Faithfull, B.||Redmayne, L.|
|Ferrers, E.||Reigate, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Renton, L.|
|Gainford, L.||Richardson, L.|
|Geddes, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Gibson-Watt, L.||St. Germans, E.|
|Glenarthur, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Gore-Booth, L.||Sandys, L. [Teller.]|
|Gowrie, E.||Selkirk, E.|
|Gridley, L.||Sharples, B.|
|Grimston of Westbury, L.||Shrewsbury, E.|
|Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Halsbury, E.||Somers, L.|
|Home of the Hirsel, L.||Spens, L.|
|Stamp, L.||Trenchard, V.|
|Strathcarron, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Strathclyde, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Strathmore and Kinghorne, E.||Vickers, B.|
|Sudeley, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Swinfen, L.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Terrington, L.||Wynford, L.|
|Thomas of Swynnerton, L.||Young, B.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 4.8 p.m.
§ Lord Aylestone moved Amendment No. 24:
Page 2, line 39, leave out from second ("is") to end of line 42 and insert—
("employed in overseas employment.
(2) For the purposes of this section "overseas employment" means employment under the terms of which the employee ordinarily works outside the United Kingdom.").
§ The noble Lord said: I am afraid that this amendment has been rather widely drawn. Its purpose is to ask the Government to explain why they are extending the facilities for British citizenship to children whose parents are born in Crown service or service of any other description for the time being designated. I have purposely drawn this amendment wide in the hope that the Government will say frankly where this section begins and ends, because there are thousands of British people working abroad who are not in Crown service. It is true that they could be designated by the Secretary of State if the Secretary of State at that time so wished. However, it is important at this stage for the Minister to try to explain to us why it is necessary to exempt some people who are working abroad, such as those in Crown service or the armed forces, but not others. I have no intention of taking this amendment to a Division. We are moving it simply to get a clearer indication of what is in the Government's mind. I beg to move.
§ Baroness Elles
Before my noble friend replies, I wonder whether I could ask him to comment upon two aspects of the clause as it now stands. Why is it that those working in the European Community institutions who are not necessarily recruited from the United Kingdom would not be covered by Clause 2(1)(a) while those sent from the United Kingdom and working side by side with those who have been directly recruited would be covered by Clause 2(1)(a)? I hate the word "discrimination". However, this seems to me to be very unfair to those who are working for Britain in these institutions but who are not necessarily sent to the Community from this country. I wonder whether my noble friend could reply to that point?
§ Baroness White
As chairman of the Select Committee of your Lordships' House on the European Communities, I should like very strongly to support the noble Baroness, Lady Elles. I do so partly on a point arising out of the paragraph which we are now discussing and partly because the question arises later, as the noble Lord, Lord Aylestone, mentioned, in reference to the power of the Secretary of State by statutory instrument to designate certain types of service. I think the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, is herself aware that there has been correspondence about the position of the employees of the European institutions, not only on this 1016 particular point that arises under this amendment, whether or not they happen to have been recruited in this country or otherwise, but the whole situation in relation to the employees of these institutions. The much wider matter of persons born in member states, which is raised under Amendment No. 71, is a quite different matter; it would of course subsume the problems of these particular people. But it does not, under Clause 2 and the related Clause 3, deal with their special standing.
I raise this matter because, in particular, of representations made to me as chairman of your Lordships' Select Committee on the European Communities. I was 10 days ago in Luxembourg and was seen there by a number of people, some of them having served in the service of this House and another place, who are working there in these institutions. Also, I have been approached by members of the European Parliament, and I know the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, is fully aware of this position. Some of them have been in correspondence with Mr. Timothy Raison, a Minister in the Home Office. The fact that he is in the Home Office surely does not make him ignorant of the fact that we, the United Kingdom, are signatories to the Treaty of Rome and we happen to be a member state of the European Community. I am not proposing to discuss the merits or demerits of that, but so long as we are members of the European Community it is surely proper that British citizens who take employment with the institutions of the Community, of which we are active members and under whose jurisdiction we conduct our affairs in many respects, should receive proper recognition. In response to the letter raising this matter, Mr. Raison replied, referring to this clause we are discussing, that Her Majesty's Government, unless they have changed their minds, have no intention of designating service in the European Community as appropriate service. If I may quote from his letter, he says:In addition to the Crown servants there is provision in Clause 2(3) of the Bill for certain types of service closely associated with the activities of Her Majesty's Government abroad to be designated by Order as if they were Crown service for those purposes. We have in mind for designation under this provision the British Council, Crown servants seconded to international organisations in the course of their careers and members of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service".This is the relevant phrase:We do not think it right that employees of the European institutions, who, after all, have voluntarily taken up employment overseas with an international organisation, should benefit from such a provision".Nothing could be clearer than that. What do Her Majesty's Government suppose membership of the European Community means? There may be a situation, later on, when possibly the Government of the day, or the people, may decide it is inappropriate for us to remain members, but at the moment we are members and we are legislating in circumstances in which we are full members of the Community. We are, therefore, inextricably involved in the affairs and the service of the Community. We have members of the European Parliament representing British citizens who have elected them in constituencies under our laws, and who have to be serviced by some of the persons who met me in Luxembourg 10 days ago. It seems to me absolutely incredible that a Minister 1017 of the Crown should reply in the terms that Mr. Raison used in reply to the communication sent to him. I cannot conceive that any Government whose Prime Minister states and restates and emphasises her adherence to the body and purposes of the European Community could possibly approve of a statement which says, "Well, if these people voluntarily go and serve in an international organisation, why should we bother ourselves about it?"
It is, of course, quite true that some provisions are referred to in the following clause, Clause 3, but as those who have communicated with me point out, Clause 3 is a different matter altogether. One cannot claim as of right; under Clause 3 there is a discretionary element which rests with the Secretary of State, against which there is no appeal. It includes certain provisos. For example, if your parent, or both of them, were run over and killed in a car accident, how could you prove that they had the intention of maintaining for you, their child, a close connection with this country?
I feel very strongly indeed about this. If we are in the least in earnest about our membership of the European Community and therefore about our involvement with the institutions, for us to say, in what I regard as the most cavalier fashion, "It is no concern of ours if they choose to go and voluntarily serve in Europe; why should be concern ourselves about the future of their children or grandchildren? ", seems to me the most un-communautaire attitude one could possibly adopt. Although this arises in various other places in the Bill, as far as I could see, in this rather complicated legislation, this is the first point at which I could raise the matter, and this is why I do so now.
§ Lord Drumalbyn
May I put this to my noble friend? I do not know whether this is intentional, but I get the impression from the way in which this clause is drafted that what the Government intend is that this exemption, so far as Crown service and kindred service is concerned, this facility or advantage, will only be extended where the Government have control over the parents concerned. If they are employed by the Crown or by an organisation under the Crown, or in any way controlled by the Crown, that is all right, but if they are controlled by the Commission, for example, it is not all right. In my view, this would be entirely wrong for a number of reasons, not least those stated by the noble Baroness, Lady White. I think we are in some danger of losing the sort of advantage that we have been looking for, among others, by joining the Common market. If we have a weakness in this country, it is our inability to speak languages. It is the greatest possible advantage for our citizens to be abroad learning to speak languages, learning to deal with people in the Common Market on their own terms, and, at the same time, with the Common Market not being all that far away, keeping a close connection with this country. "A close connection" will not, I hope, need to be so close that one must live here or must have a house here. I am sure that that is not what is intended, or it is certainly not what should be intended. Therefore, I put it to my noble and learned friend: Can he say quite categorically that so far as this clause is concerned the facility offered by this clause will not be extended only to parents who are actually controlled by the Government or government agency?
§ Lord Moyne
Following up with diffidence this complicated question, I should like to ask whether a British citizen by descent who takes up a post as a scientist researching, for example, in the United States or as a professor teaching in a foreign university, will be covered or not. If he is not covered perhaps it can be put right by registration and so on. The difficulty may not be so great. However, I am very confused and following what my noble friend has just said I should like to ask whether it is only Government appointments that will get this exemption?
§ Lord Mishcon
I do not want to repeat the arguments that have been so eloquently and logically advanced by my noble friend Lady White. What I do want to do is to add to her argument by saying that many of us who are associated with the EEC, and certainly with the court that sits in Luxembourg, know how important it is that people from this country should go out in the service of the EEC. Your Lordships most likely know that the Court of Justice, for example, is made up of judges who come from the respective members of the EEC, each country being entitled as of right to have a judge who sits at the court.
It is absolutely imperative that we who are so proud of our law and our lawyers and who actually have a judge there—he may, incidentally, be from north of the Border occasionally, but that only adds to his eminence as I am sure the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate will say if he is to reply—should encourage our people to go out there and serve as lawyers or as aides in regard to the Court of Justice. I am giving only one example and I am sure there are other examples that noble Lords could give in departments that they know more about than I do. I really was amazed to hear, although I had in fact pre-warning of it, from a ministerial office of importance that this is not deemed to be a service closely associated with the overseas activities of Her Majesty's Government. That is a most extraordinary position. I hope that the noble and learned Lord the Minister at the very least will say that, having heard the views in this Committee, he will want seriously to consider them and certainly will not in fact turn down out of hand the comments that have been made by the noble Baroness.
§ Lord Gridley
I should like to make one comment on the term "Crown service". I am a servant who was appointed under the Crown and I was recruited by the Secretary of State for the Colonies for service under the Crown overseas. That is my understanding of the words "Crown service". That is all I have to say on what has been said by the various noble Lords who have spoken.
§ Lord Hatch of Lusby
I think that it would be unfortunate if the burden of the argument on this amendment concentrated solely on the EEC. The case for the offices of the EEC has been fully and amply made. However, there are many other international organisations which are serviced by British people. In his reply to my intervention on Amendment No. 21 the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate did not really take the case that I had made about the disturbance which is being caused among the diplomatic service, not as regards their children 1019 but as regards their grandchildren. That point was not met by the noble and learned Lord.
However, do we not want British people, particularly young, British people, to be serving all over the world? Are they not going to be inhibited by the fear that if they stay abroad too long and if their families settle abroad for too long, they will risk the loss of British citizenship? Let me take two obvious examples. First, there are those who are serving with an organisation like Oxfam. Is that an organisation which comes within the purview of this Bill? I do not know and I should like to hear from the Minister whether that is so.
Secondly, let us take the Red Cross. Do we not want young British men and women to serve in the Red Cross? They may not be recruited in this country—they may very well be recruited abroad—but if they are, then they are risking, at least the second generation are, losing British citizenship. It is just not good enough for the Government to say, as my noble friend has already quoted from the Minister, that these are people who are serving voluntarily. Do we not want them to serve voluntarily? Is that not one of the purposes of our education system? Are we not urging young people to go abroad and become part of the world community?
It seems to me that the noble Lord, Lord Aylestone, was absolutely correct when he said that this affects thousands of people. We hope that it will affect thousands more people. However, the clause that we are debating will risk at least inhibiting many people who would like to serve abroad from doing so because of the fear that the future generations of their family will risk losing British citizenship. So may we have a statement from the noble and learned Lord now that the Government have no intention of confining the conferment of British citizenship on people who are employed by the Crown or by the Government? Otherwise, surely the impression made all over the world will be that the British Government at least, if not the British people, are once again showing signs of becoming purely parochial.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Lord Mackay of Clashfern
The noble Lord's amendment would certainly greatly extend the scope of Clause (2)(1)(b) to any kind of employment, and I do not know that I heard any good reason for that. So far as concerns the amendment which the noble Lord has moved, I would simply say that if one accepts the basic principle at all, then to distinguish according to whether or not people are in overseas employment would not seem a sound ground of distinction. However, the amendment has given rise to a number of questions about which I ought to seek to say something. The provisions of the clause are intended to deal in a special way with Crown servants and service of a description which is so closely associated with the activities outside United Kingdom of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom that it is proper to regard that service as being in the same situation from this point of view as Crown service.
With regard to the matters raised, first, by my noble friend Lady Elles and then developed by the noble Baroness, Lady White, there is no question of my honourable friend Mr. Raison, although a Minister of 1020 State at the Home Office, not being very much in tune with the attachment of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister to the Economic Community.
§ Lord Mackay of Clashfern
I can assure the noble Baroness that the harmony on that particular matter very strongly exists. However, the situation is that if, for example, a person is serving the European Economic Community, his arrangements may well come under the provisions of Clause 3, and particularly arrangements of that kind would be referred to under Clause 3(3)(d).
§ Lord Avebury
Then those arrangements are inferior, are they not, to the ones in Clause 2?—because they compel the parents to register the child.
§ Lord Mackay of Clashfern
They are somewhat different from those in Clause 2. I would submit that the mere fact that registration is required does not necessarily make the arrangements inferior because, once you have the certificate, registration carries with it an entitlement which otherwise you have to wait to establish until a suitable requirement or need arises. So the mere fact that it is subject to registration procedure does not seem to me to make the arrangement inferior.
However, the important point as regards Crown service is that two matters apply. First, generally speaking, the children of Crown servants will not be able to obtain citizenship of the place where they are serving overseas. Secondly, of course, the fact of their service and the circumstances of it will certainly be very easily verifiable. As I said, the extension of that treatment to service which is closely associated with the Crown outside the United Kingdom or the Government of the United Kingdom is a very obvious and close connection which justifies the view that citizenship should descend where the parent is employed in such service.
So far as the European Economic Community institutions are concerned—and, indeed, as the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, pointed out, there are many other international organisations of which the United Kingdom is a member—these certainly require consideration. The Government's view on that matter is that the correct way to treat all these international organisations of which Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom is a member, is to treat them by the system laid out in Clause 3, which allows for registration of children to persons employed in that service.
The position of a person who is serving the United Kingdom Government in one of these institutions and the position of a person who is serving these institutions, as it were, for his own sake is, in my submission, a difference which is important, and that is the difference which essentially distinguishes the circumstances of Clause 2 from those of Clause 3. It is not so much a question of control—and in this I seek to answer my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn—as a question of whether or not a continuation of link with the United Kingdom is immediately apparent. That is what, under Clause 2, we say exists in the matters to which Clause 2 properly applies.
§ Lord Mishcon
I do not know whether or not the noble and learned Lord finds this a convenient moment to resume his seat, if he is, in fact, concluding that part of the argument, but surely so far the argument has been fallacious. For example, would one say that a Member of the Parliament of the EEC is not, in fact, serving the people of this country and the Crown? Therefore, if a Member of the Parliament of the EEC is serving the Crown and is elected by this people of ours to serve the Crown and to serve the people of this country, is an employee of the EEC in any different position? Whatever may be the arguments on other employment, would not the noble and learned Lord the Minister concede that the employment is so direct in the service of the Crown, even if it goes through a parliamentary body of which we are a member, that he would want to take this back and consider whether it should be designated under Clause 2, and not under Clause 3?
§ Baroness White
I should like to pursue that. Surely the noble and learned Lord would agree that although we have obligations to many other international organisations, more particularly I would suppose to the United Nations Organisation—and I hate to intervene when lawyers are in dispute—our legal relationship with the European Economic Community is of a different nature from our relationship with other international organisations to which one might refer?
§ Lord Mackay of Clashfern
I am sure that it is the pleasure of lawyers to welcome into their arguments noble Baronesses such as the noble Baroness, Lady White. I certainly agree that the nature of the legal relationships which membership of the European Economic Community imposes on the United Kingdom may, in important respects, be different from the legal relationship which, for example, being a member of the United Nations imposes on the United Kingdom. But I do not necessarily accept that these differences are important in the particular context which we are considering.
§ Baroness Elles
If my noble friend will allow me to intervene on this, will he not accept that one of the difficulties that we have had as members of the Community is precisely because we have not had enough British citizens working within the Community institutions to get us fair treatment, as other countries have jolly well seen to it that they have? Is it not time that this Government, who have been seeking to get redress—and successfully seeking to get redress—in matters of the budget and agricultural reform, should ensure that we have our best people working in the Community institutions? Is my noble friend aware that, if he and the Government take this line, the best people will not go and work in Community institutions because the best people are British and want to be loyal to Britain and want to see their country served adequately, fully and properly? Would he kindly take this discussion back to the Minister and ensure that we get a better answer next time?
§ Lord Mackay of Clashfern
I had finished most of what I was going to say on this aspect of the matter. 1022 I think that it is certainly possible to distinguish between service of the Crown and service of institutions which may serve the country generally. I think that the distinction which I was making is perfectly relevant in this context. I want to seek to answer the question put by my noble friend Lord Moyne with regard to scientists. So far as I am concerned, the situation is that if, for example, scientists are working for a British university on secondment abroad, they would certainly be covered by the provisions of Clause 3(3).
If they have gone overseas voluntarily to work for a foreign institution which itself has no United Kingdom links, they might be in a position later, if they came back, to register their children as an entitlement under Clause 3(6). Obviously the mere fact that one has gone abroad to work may, if the situation continues long enough, produce the kind of separation from the United Kingdom in this area, as in other areas, which would justify bringing to an end the descent of citizenship.
I think it would require to be answered by saying that it is a matter of circumstances; a matter of the links which have been preserved by the person going overseas with the United Kingdom in doing so. The same applies to the circumstances that the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, mentioned. However, the amendment is on a much narrower front than the discussion. Certainly all of the discussion will be brought to the attention of my colleagues, including the colleague in the Home Office who has been referred to.
§ Lord Robbins
May I ask the Minister whether he does not recognise that his elucidations make clear that there is a penumbra of uncertainty as regards eligibility under Clause 3 which there is not as regards eligibility under Clause 2? Does he not recognise that that will tremendously cumulatively increase immobility of the citizens concerned of this country?
§ Lord Mackay of Clashfern
I am obliged to the noble Lord. There is an area to which Clause 3 applies which, in a sense, has to be vaguer than the situation to which Clause 2 applies. The idea of Clause 2 is that it should apply to situations which are instantly verifiable, as it were, and surveys with the Government and with, for example, the overseas Civil Service and by Crown servants seconded to international organisations as part of their careers, and the British Council are of that character.
When one comes to consider the great variety of other possible links with the United Kingdom—and there are a great variety of them, and I am sure we shall hear more of this as the day proceeds—the criteria that one has to use have of necessity to be a bit more general. Therefore, there is, as the noble Lord says, an area of uncertainty. But the uncertainty is produced by the great variety of circumstances, and the differing results which may, on a consideration of any particular case, be properly reached. Accordingly, Clause 3, covering a much wider area, has these characteristics, and in my submission such characteristics are to be expected if one is to have a workable system which can take proper account of the facts of each individual case.
§ Lord Aylestone
In moving this amendment, which I said at the time was wide, the object was simply to find out precisely what the Government meant byservice of any description for the time being designated under subsection (3)".We got a little way in that direction. We now know that there is a possibility (we would not put it any higher) that employees of the EEC may be dealt with under Clause 3. I am inclined to think, having listened to the debate, that the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, was probably closer than any of us; that in fact Crown service means control; it means who pays the salary. I suppose employees of the EEC could come in under that because there is an element in the amount of money we pay to the EEC which pays salaries. However, this is much wider than we thought at the beginning. I am sure that we must return to it at Report stage, and I am particularly anxious to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, has to say. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Jacques)
I call Amendment No. 25. If this amendment is agreed to, I shall not be able to call Amendments Nos. 27A to 31.
§ [Amendment No. 25 not moved.]
§ 4.47 p.m.
Lord Gridley moved Amendment No. 27A:
Page 2, line 45, after("Kingdom") insert ("or Crown service in the Colonies").
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move this Amendment. I have done so because I wish to be assured by the Minister that former officers of the Colonial service, now that they are on pension or have left the service, will, under Clause 2 of this Bill as it now stands, enjoy the rights of British citizenship for themselves and their children, rights which they formerly enjoyed while serving the Crown overseas. I propose to refer in some detail to those rights later in what I have to say.
§ To me it is exceedingly important that this should be so, and that Clause 2 of the Bill should cover these rights. At page 14, in Clause 13(2) and (3) lines 33 to 43, it seems only too clear that on the coming into force of this Bill, despite the rights hitherto enjoyed by overseas officers as officers of the Crown, they are no longer to be considered as British citizens. This is a right, I must make clear, which they enjoyed when serving overseas. Let me explain. Officers serving the Crown overseas were recruited for service by the Secretary of State for the Colonies in the United Kingdom. I cannot believe that any of them did not possess a British passport at the time of their appointment, or that a qualification for their appointment was not that they had to be British subjects by birth. The procedure regarding passports was that if a British officer's passport issued in the United Kingdom expired after 10 years, and this occurred while the servivng officer was overseas, application for a British passport could be made, and was made, by the officer concerned to the Governor, or High Commissioner, in the territory in which the officer was serving, and this was granted.1024
§ I am fully aware that this is a correct statement for it occurred in my case. When I applied for a passport in these circumstances to the late Sir Shenton Thomas, who was Governor and Commander in Chief of the former Straits Settlements in Singapore and High Commissioner for the Federated Malay States, a passport was granted. When that expired I was able, on surrendering the passport in the United Kingdom to the British passport authorities, to obtain from them a British passport, with no difficulty.
§ However, it seems to me in retrospect that under this Bill and under subsections (2) and (3) at page 14 none of this procedure is to be recognised in the future, in spite of the fact that under that procedure I was able to obtain a British passport. I ask particularly, therefore, is it to be recognised under Clause 2; and when that passport expires shall I be able to obtain another new British passport? With reference to my four children, three were born in Malaysia and were registered as British by birth under a certificate granted locally, and as they are now of age they have subsequently, on making application, encountered no difficulty in obtaining a British passport.
§ According to the records we hold in the office of the Overseas Service Pensioners' Association there are 12,000 former officers of the Crown, 9,000 of whom are now in Britain and 3,000 living overseas, and all of these men are deeply concerned that under Clause 2 they and their children should continue to enjoy British citizenship which they obtained in Crown service in the colonies. That is the reason why under Clause 2(2)(a) I wish to insert "or Crown service in the Colonies", to cover the points I have made.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade (Lord Trefgarne)
I shall first deal with the wider implications of my noble friend's amendment and then come to the specific matter he has raised. The amendment would enable a British citizen by descent to transmit his citizenship automatically to his child born overseas if at the time of the child's birth he was in Crown service under the government of a dependency and had been recruited for such service in the United Kingdom. The first generation born overseas of course automatically acquires British citizenship under the provisions of Clause 2(1)(a) of the Bill. We do not think it would be appropriate to extend British citizenship automatically to children born to such officers in these circumstances, great though our regard for their work is, and let me explain why. For one thing, these officers, unlike those serving the Government of the United Kingdom, cannot be said to have a United Kingdom base; their base is the dependency where they are employed, and they cannot be said to be representing this country in their work in the same way. Furthermore, an important reason for enabling British citizens by descent who are in Crown service under the Government of the United Kingdom and have been recruited for that service in the United Kingdom, is that in many cases children born abroad to such officers are barred from acquiring local citizenships by virtue of their parents' occupation: this is the case, for instance, with the children born abroad to British diplomats. If such children could not acquire the citizenship of their parents, they would be left stateless.
1025 But a British citizen by descent who is working for the government of a dependency will normally be working in that dependency. His children will not be barred from acquiring local citizenship by virtue of their parents' occupation; they will normally be eligible for citizenship of the British Dependent Territories. If they are not, because neither the citizen parent nor his spouse are citizens of the British Dependent Territories and they are not settled in the dependency, then under the provision of paragraph 2 of Schedule 2, the child would become a British citizen if he would otherwise be stateless. There is therefore no risk of such children becoming stateless. As citizens of the British Dependent Territories they will have, under Clause 4 of the Bill, an entitlement to British citizenship after five years' residence in the country, which they may exercise at any time. But they will also have, as a general rule, important entitlements to British citizenship in other ways, not least by virtue of their parents' employment with the government of a dependency. A British citizen by descent working for the government of a dependency who has been recruited for that service in the United Kingdom will normally have been appointed by the Crown Agents or by the official representative in the United Kingdom of that government. His employment will therefore be relevant employment for the purposes of Clause 3(2) of the Bill and he will normally be able to secure British citizenship on application for his child under that provision. Furthermore, if the family returns to the United Kingdom and lives here for three years, then under Clause 3(6) of the Bill, the child will be entitled to British citizenship on application.
The Government believe it is important to make a distinction between those who are directly serving the interests of the country and are based here and those who are serving the interests of our dependencies and are based there. British citizens who are working for the governments of the dependencies will, if they were born here, be able to transmit their citizenship to their children automatically under Clause 2(1)(a) of the Bill. Those who are citizens by descent will normally have been able to secure British citizenship on application for their children born overseas under the provisions of Clause 3, and we shall do our best to ensure that the procedure for obtaining citizenship in this way is kept as simple and straightforward as possible. The children of such people will often be citizens of the British Dependent Territories by birth and will have an entitlement to British citizenship under Clause 4 of the Bill, provided they can meet the residence requirements, an entitlement they can exercise at any time. So we do not think that in practice children born to British citizens serving the governments of the dependencies will find any difficulty in acquiring British citizenship.
Former members of the Colonial Service will have served under Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service when of course it was far more extensive than it is now. They would therefore be covered, I am advised, by Clause 2(1)(b) and their children would be citizens otherwise than by descent. They are not of course the same as employees of governments of the dependencies. I hope that those observations, and in particular the last clarification I have given, will set my 1026 noble friend's mind at rest and he will feel able to withdraw the amendment.
§ Lord Gridley
I am grateful to my noble friend for those reassurances on the points I made. I will read everything he said with great care, and at this stage I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 4.57 p.m.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter moved Amendment No. 28.
Page 2, line 45, at end insert—
("( ) service in the employment of a public or private company registered in and operating partly or wholly in the United Kingdom.").
§ The noble Lord said: As the Committee will appreciate, the amendment seeks to raise the question of the discrimination in the Bill as it stands between the children of those who are born overseas to members of the Civil Service and children of those who are born overseas to other British people working abroad. There is no doubt that there is a clear differentiation in treatment between those—and these must be mainly those in the Foreign and Diplomatic Service who work for the Crown abroad—who get the advantages of Clause 2 procedures, and the rest, including those who represent great companies overseas, who get Clause 3 procedures.
Some of your Lordships may recall—though it is always a mistake in your Lordships' House to think that anyone remembers one's speeches except oneself—that I raised the reason for this discrimination on Second Reading and in particular intervened in the winding-up speech of my noble friend Lord Belstead on this point. The Minister gave a reason for this discrimination and I remind the Committee of what was said at that stage. I am reported as saying:
My Lords, does not my noble friend accept, however, that there is a distinction between Clause 2 in respect of Crown servants abroad, where the entitlement is automatic, and Clause 3 in respect of businessmen abroad where they have to apply and where there is a measure of discretion in the Home Secretary?
My noble friend is reported as replying:
My Lords, that is perfectly true. I agree entirely with my noble friend. But the reason for the discretion in Clause 3 is because the whole purpose of the Bill is to ensure that those who are continuing to transmit their citizenship shall retain links with the home country. That is the reason why the basis of the entitlement is set out absolutely clearly in Clause 3. So far as Crown servants are concerned, that is a different matter; and if for no other reason, because we know that Crown servants posted abroad will always return to live at home".—[Official Report, 22/6/81, cols. 950 and 951.]
The Official Report goes on, not altogether surprisingly, at that point to record: "Several noble Lords: No!"
Knowing from one's own personal acquaintances that quite a number of people one knows in the Foreign Service have in fact settled abroad, I tabled a Question to the Government to ask for the information on which my noble friend Lord Belstead's argument appears to have been based. I asked Her Majesty's Government how many former members of the Foreign and Diplomatic Service are non-resident in the United Kingdom, and my noble friend the Lord President of the Council, Lord Soames, replied:
I regret to say that the information requested by my noble friend is not available".
Therefore, it is apparent that the reason given by my noble friend Lord Belstead for this discrimination
between the main body of the civil servants concerned, that is the Foreign and Diplomatic Office staff and the rest of us, is not in fact sustainable by any facts or figures to support his contention that these people are different from others inasmuch as they return home.
§ I do not want to weary your Lordships with any unnecessary argument, but quite a number of us know members of that service who are deterred, either by the British climate, or by British taxation or by affection for the countries in which they have served, and who settle down there. Indeed, from time to time I have a lively correspondence with a former member of the Foreign Service who has settled in Majorca and who, perhaps not altogether surprisingly, writes to me regularly from that address to suggest that Gibraltar should be handed over to Spain!
§ I think this is a point of some substance. It is certainly so regarded by the Confederation of British Industry. Your Lordships are very familiar—and there is no need to weary you with argument about it—with the importance of persuading people to go overseas to represent the interests of British companies, to work on their behalf and to build up both the export trade in general and the invisible export trade in particular, to strengthen the British economy. I speak from experience because my own company has to do this, and it is not always easy to persuade people to leave the familiar setting of their homes in this country and to go to work for their employers, sometimes in disagreeable climates, sometimes in dangerous places, in the work which their employers think necessary for the prosperity of their companies and therefore, hopefully, for the prosperity of the country. It is not always easy to do so and if, in addition, you quite wantonly add a doubt in their minds as to whether, if children are born to them while they are so serving, those children may not necessarily and automatically secure British citizenship, you are adding one more discentive, one more discouragement, to these people to go abroad.
§ I wonder really why it is thought necessary so to do? It really is no use—and I say this with great deference to my noble friend—to say, "Oh well, they have the advantages of Clause 3. They can apply under Clause 3". There is a vital difference between the Clause 2 rights being secured for the Civil Service and the Clause 3 opportunities which may be offered to the businessman abroad. Clause 2 says emphatically and flat-footedly that the child shall be a British citizen. Clause 3 provides that the Secretary of State, if he thinks fit, may order them to be registered; and before he thinks fit he has to be satisfied on no less than four separate matters set out in Clause 3. I do not want to anticipate the discussion on that extraordinarily complex clause but there are then another two pages of matters which he has to take into account.
§ There is here all the difference in the world, and I hope my noble friend will not mind my saying that there is also the fact that all those concerned know that it is not a case of the Secretary of State being satisfied. Unless a case has gone completely wrong, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State will not see the case; it will be dealt with by officials. Again I hope my noble friend will not mind my saying that it will be dealt with by officials of a department which does not 1028 have an unduly favourable reputation for sensitivity in these matters, and therefore this amounts to a very real discouragement.
§ So I stress that if the Clause 2 procedure is right for the Civil Service—and the Government having put it into the Bill, we must obviously accept that—it should be right also for those who go abroad on business. My noble friend may well criticise my amendment. It is a little narrow; it covers only those sent abroad by companies operating and registered in this country, mainly or wholly, and there are a number of other people who, if the Committee decides to accept the view that I am urging, would probably necessarily have to be added. The self-employed, for example; consultants, the academics who were referred to on an earlier amendment.
§ The important thing at this stage is to get established that we are not stopping short at the Civil Service. I was a little concerned when I heard my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern saying something to the effect that it was intended to deal in a special way with those in Crown service. Why? People outside may well say that this is perhaps another example of the capacity of the Civil Service to look after itself. At this particular moment, owing to circumstances which I shall not weary your Lordships by referring to, in people's minds the standing of the public service may not be quite as high as it was a little time ago, but one hopes that it will be again.
§ What argument is there for this distinction? The one that my noble friend sought to justify at Second Reading has now been eliminated, as the answer given by my noble friend Lord Soames indicated. There is no reason to believe that members of the Foreign Service come home in any greater proportion than do people who go abroad on business. That argument has gone. There are many people outside—and indeed perhaps in this House—who care about this. There is a feeling that it is wrong to provide favoured, privileged treatment only for that minority of our fellow countrymen overseas in the public service, and to ignore and give second grade treatment to that rather larger number of those without whose efforts to work for this country abroad any hope of restoring the British economy will be gone. I beg to move.
Lord Bruce of Donington
Before the noble Lord sits down, in putting forward his amendment he mentioned that it might be necessary to include the self-employed. The noble Lord referred to insurance companies and such organisations; and there are medical and professional practices abroad, the partners in which would not be included within the noble Lord's definition. Is the noble Lord aware that the self-employed are in an even worse position, since they are not even incorporated in Clause 3? Therefore, some special provision would have to be made in that regard. Does the noble Lord endorse that view?
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
As the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, will recall, I went out of my way to say that the amendment was deliberately narrowly drawn in order to pose the clear contrast between the employee of business and the employee of the Crown. If, as I hope, the Government can be induced to accept the amendment as it stands—and 1029 here I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Bruce—it would be necessary to extend its scope in order to cover the type of person to whom he refers. I certainly had not appreciated that one of the categories do not receive even the less attractive benefits of Clause 3—I am grateful to the noble Lord for drawing my attention to this point—and that would certainly strengthen the argument.
§ Lord Belstead
I wonder whether it would be convenient to the Committee if I were to say a few words at this stage, after which other noble Lords can speak, and then my noble and learned friend the Lord Advocate will probably answer the debate. First, I owe an apology to my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter. The words that my noble friend read out from the report of the Second Reading debate are of course perfectly correct; I said what is attributed to me in Hansard. I should have said that I was referring to people while they are affected by the provisions of the Bill; in other words, while they are involved in their working lives or their child-bearing lives; I was wholly in error in not saying that.
In making the apology to my noble friend the point I should like to get across is this. I had in mind the fact that those who are referred to in Clause 2 as being Crown servants are sent abroad on temporary postings. My noble friend made some play of the Written Answer of my noble friend the Lord President to a question that he tabled. Statistics there might not be, but I am sure that all members of the Committee would agree that members of the armed forces—my noble friend spoke of the Civil Service, but when I am speaking about Crown servants, the first people who come to my mind are members of the armed forces—are habitually sent abroad on postings, and later return home; that is part of their duty. As I understand it, members of the Foreign Service, as part of the development of their careers, are sent abroad on foreign postings and later return home. Very likely people who have been in the Diplomatic Service retire abroad, but so do other people. That is something that anyone might do after a working life or bringing up children. Therefore, I was in error in not referring to people's working lives and child-bearing lives. I consider that during such periods people in the service of the Crown are, as part of their careers, incontrovertibly under a duty to accept overseas postings, and later to return home. I think it fair to say that we cannot necessarily assume that that pattern will apply to someone who is working for a company overseas, however important the business might be. Such a person might develop a career building up a firm's operations abroad. He will come to the United Kingdom sometimes frequently, but at other times only occasionally. What we are saying in Clause 3, with a very wide scope of criteria, is that if through their work people maintain a connection with the United Kingdom while working abroad, they will have no difficulty in claiming British citizenship for their children.
My noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter asked, "Why have Clause 3 at all? Why is it necessary?" The clause is necessary in order to prevent shams. I hope that I do not sound obsessively suspicious, but if we did not draw some form of criteria—and they are 1030 drawn very widely in Clause 3—it would not be difficult for some people to pretend that they were working abroad for British interests while in fact they were doing nothing of the kind.
My noble friend said that members of the staff of the Home Office belong to a department that is not noted for its sensitivity. I must say to him that in many cases staff of the Home Office daily spend considerable hours looking into extremely difficult personal cases, which I believe they handle with care and certainly with compassion.
That point brings me, finally, to my noble friend's amendment. My noble and learned friend the Lord Advocate will speak in more detail, and in a much better way than I can, but I shall not suggest to the Committee that Clause 3 is in any way perfect. The clause will be closely examined by the Committee, as is the Committee's duty and responsibility. But the clause has a great advantage. It contains criteria that are very generously drawn, and as I say, when we get to the clause, we can look at them. However, I should have thought that my noble friend's amendment is drawn so wide that it would be open to misuse by people who would be evilly intended. When my noble friend speaks again at the end of the debate on the amendment I shall be interested to hear from him a little more on how he believes his amendment would work in practice. I believe that there are real practical difficulties—I shall not at the moment specify them because I think that my noble friend the Lord Advocate will do that—with the way in which the amendment is drawn.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ Lord Avebury
When he speaks about the clause being misused by people who are evilly intended, the Minister seems to equate the attempt to gain British citizenship with mugging or grievous bodily harm. I consider that that is a gross exaggeration and that the noble Lord was not thinking very carefully when he used those particular words. However, I should like to turn to the central point of what the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, is suggesting; namely, that Crown servants should not be in a privileged position vis-à-vis company employees working overseas and contributing to the British economy, as they are constantly being asked to do. It seems to me that if any people are to be in a privileged position, then according to the Government's own philosophy, it ought to be those who are earning money for this country. The Government are always saying that we should produce more, and the Crown servants and the others who are to benefit from Clause 2 are unproductive, they are an overhead. The situation should be the other way around: People who are employed overseas by British companies should be in a privileged position, while the "overheads" who are in the Civil Service should be in a less privileged position.
When during the debate on the previous amendment I intervened and suggested that the procedures contained in Clause 3 were inferior to those of Clause 2, I was corrected by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate. As I understood him, he said that in some ways the registration procedure in Clause 3 is to be preferred in that a person who is registered under Clause 3 is then able to transmit his own citizenship 1031 to another generation. Perhaps I misunderstood the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate, but I understood him to say that once a person was registered, in some ways he was in a better position than a person who had acquired British citizenship through the procedures of Clause 2. Prehaps it would be advisable if that point could be further explained when the noble and learned Lord replies.
The other way by which one could achieve the same objective as the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, is in fact to provide that the civil servants and the others who are in the designated employment of Clause 2 should be required to register their children as is required of those who are working overseas. It seems to me that one way or the other we ought to assimilate the two procedures so that there is no discrimination (as someone put it; I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, himself) between those who are working in the public service and those who are employed by companies contributing to the British economy.
Lord Home of the Hirsel
I see Lord Boyd-Carpenter's purpose in moving this amendment to Clause 2, but I can think of special reasons for being selective in relation both to the armed forces and to the foreign service—and that case has been made by my noble friend Lord Belstead. They, after all, have no option; they are orderd to go. Other people, whether they are self-employed or whether they are in business, can usually exercise some choice; these others cannot. But the point that my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter makes as so vitally important, that British personnel are not only ready but eager to do business, is I think valid, and we should therefore try to remove any obstacle which might make them hesitate so to serve.
I wonder, therefore, whether my noble and learned friend the Lord Advocate, when he replies, could not indicate that the problem posed by my noble friend, which I think is very real, could be dealt with in Clause 3. I have not consulted my noble friend, and he may be totally unwilling to think of that. Nevertheless, I myself would, I think, deal with it in Clause 3, because I see the special case for the armed services and the foreign service and for people similarly engaged.
§ Lord Elwyn-Jones
One of the troubles that we have is the unease which I think exists about some of the provisions of Clause 3. I will not anticipate discussion on one or two matters that I have it in mind to raise, but where there is that difference it really makes one ponder; and I am bound to say from family experience that when you work for the great companies like ICI and others you are liable to be posted to different parts of the world, and you have no choice. At least, you have the choice of losing your job by saying "I am not going"; but it is sometimes as much of a binding commitment to go where you are posted as service in the diplomatic or the foreign service.
What is troublesome about the difference between the two is not merely the cosmetic difference, though there is a cosmetic difference, but the real difference of procedure—the entitlement in the one and the requirement to satisfy the Secretary of State, et cetera, and the problems that arise, under the other. But my own 1032 disposition at this moment is to support the views which have been so elegantly and ably stated by the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter.
§ Viscount Montgomery of Alamein
May I also support the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter? I spend a lot of time travelling overseas on business, and there is much concern by businessmen resident overseas, for whatever reason—and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, has pointed out several reasons—that their progeny may be in difficulties and could lose their entitlement to citizenship. The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, took up a point made earlier this afternoon by my noble and learned friend the Lord Advocate. I would ask the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate, when he comes to reply, to go back to Amendment No. 24, which was argued earlier this afternoon, and perhaps confirm that the registration requirement in Clause 3 does not in any way mean that the citizenship is inferior in quality to that provided by Clause 2; because this seems to me to be the nub of the matter. If it is not, even though it may be onerous to have to register, it is the quality of citizenship which concerns these people resident overseas—and there are very large numbers of them, as there will continue to be; at least, we hope so, in order that our trade may prosper.
§ Lord Drumalbyn
I find myself in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, here. As I understood what he said, he is entirely in sympathy with the attitude taken by my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter, but there are difficulties. For one thing, has not my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter drawn his clause rather too widely? I do not think he meant to say that all employees, wherever recruited, should have the same treatment as those who are in the Civil Service or in the armed forces. I think he meant to say that those who are sent out from Great Britain to do these jobs should have as nearly as possible the same treatment as those in the forces.
We all know that in these large firms who work abroad, whether in manufacture or whatever, they have, as indeed has the foreign service, locally-employed people. I am sure my noble friend did not mean to cover those, even though their parents were British. That is quite a different problem altogether.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
Perhaps my noble friend would allow me to interrupt him, because I think he has misread my amendment. What I am proposing is to put in a new paragraph at the bottom of page 2, and this, of course, would be covered by subsection (1). Therefore, there would be the same limitations as to origin, and so on, in respect of the businessman sent abroad as are already provided in respect of the Crown servant. I do not think my noble friend will find, if he looks at that, that the point which is troubling him really arises.
§ Lord Drumalbyn
I am not absolutely certain of that. I did have that point in mind and I did look at it rather carefully, but I thought it was liable to a different interpretation. I think that what we are all really concerned with is the very strong feeling that a great many people in this country have that they want to 1033 retain the British tradition—British citizenship for their children and their grandchildren. If this is not done satisfactorily, then fewer people will go abroad, and fewer of our better people will go abroad.
I think we shall see, when we come to Clause 3, that the limitations are so great that a great many people in this country would not take the risk. They would not accept to go abroad because of the fear that their grand-children would be disadvantaged in the end because their own children were born abroad. This is the main thing that we have to secure; but I agree with my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel that this is not the clause in which to achieve that.
§ Lord Gifford
I wish to follow the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, in underlining the difference between the provisions of Clause 3 and the provisions of Clause 2, and to support very strongly the widening of Clause 2 which the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, proposes. It is not just a question of having to apply within 12 months to get within Clause 3; it is not just a question of having to comply with the various conditions set out in Clause 3(2), although they are difficult or unclear enough. The prospective employee in overseas employment has to weigh up whether the job that he is doing involves a close connection with the United Kingdom, whatever that means; he has to weigh up whether he has been two years in relevant employment; and he has to weigh up, unless the Bill is changed in the way that I earlier proposed, whether he will be able to satisfy the Secretary of State that all these conditions apply.
But it does not end there, because the person who manages to register his son or daughter under Clause 3(2) none the less ends up as registering him as a citizen only by descent. If Members of the Committee look at the provisions of Clause 13 this becomes clear. Somebody who is registered under Clause 3 becomes a citizen by descent. Somebody who is in Crown service under Clause 2(1)(b)—the category which the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, wishes to widen—is a citizen not by descent but otherwise than by descent. The crucial difference there of course is whereas the citizen otherwise than by descent can transmit citizenship to his or to her children whether born abroad or not, the citizen by descent does not have that right. If we were to ask anyone to choose whether they would prefer their children to be citizens by descent, or citizens otherwise than by descent, there is no doubt that we would all prefer the security of our children being citizens otherwise than by descent, citizens in the full sense of the word. That adds to the various disincentives to which other noble Lords have drawn attention and confirms the real need for a widening of the provisions of Clauses 2(1) and 2(2).
I should like to say a word on this amendment and support the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter. I should like to see this amendment in the Bill particularly because what worries me is that there is no right of appeal. This seems to me to be a very arbitrary way of doing things. Therefore I would suggest that it would be advantageous to have something on these lines—perhaps not exactly on these lines—to protect these people. They have to be in a company registered in this country. We know that a lot of people go overseas, particularly say, to 1034 Saudi Arabia. They have to come back from time to time. They always have an abode in this country because they need it, because the climate being what it is and also they have to send their children back for education. So they would get a right of appeal. What they are nervous about, so far as I understand it, is that their children could become stateless if they happen to be born, for example, in a country that does not give its nationality to those who are merely born there. They may even, in order not to become stateless, be obliged—this would be a great pity—to accept nationality of a country with which they have no real ties.
As I understand it, most European countries allow generations born abroad to retain their parents' nationality through generations and without any limit by descent. However, if it is cut off and there is a cut-off point back one generation, this reduces the difficulties that might arise. Unfortunately, we have overlooked in many ways the reasons for wanting this. We need more trade overseas and we are greatly dependent on all types of persons who have experience in working there. We have a great many firms, for example, working in India. I consider that it is absolutely essential that this work goes on. I am certain that everybody who wants to help with overseas aid wants people to go overseas. I should like to suggest therefore that all British workers abroad for short terms who have children during this period should have the same rights as those born to either diplomats or to those working in the services.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Lord Beloff
One or two Members of the Committee have raised the question of academics and scientists working overseas. There seems to me, from listening to this debate, a very particular problem which is not covered in these clauses. That is to say that from many points of view the universities—at any rate of the English-speaking world are part of a single system. Someone may wish to take up a chair in, let us say, an American university, hold it for a few years with the hope—not necessarily the binding expectation—of coming back to a chair in this country. It would be difficult to define his intention by the circumstances of his employment to say that it is relevant employment, let us say, to be employed by Harvard or Stanford universities; yet at the same time it is obviously desirable for this country's reputation in the learned world that every incentive be given to people to have experience of this kind. The same disincentive about their children's national status would apply and is not met by the references to relevant employment.
§ Lord Belstead
It is not met maybe in the way that the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, thought but it is met by Clause 3(6) which specifically goes out of its way to say that if one—and the noble Lord has given the example—takes a chair in a foreign country, and then comes back with a family to take an academic chair here, the children will then be citizens—and they will be citizens incidentally by birth.
§ Baroness Elles
Supposing that under Clause 3(2) the person had not dared risk coming back home so soon and the child had been registered as a British 1035 citizen by descent, would they then be able to register again as a full citizen under Clause 3(6) when they brought the child home and lived here for three years in an English university?
§ Lord Belstead
If the noble Baroness would like to repeat her question, it would be helpful. It was very difficult to pick it up.
§ Baroness Elles
I apologise to my noble friend. Perhaps I should have given him notice of this point because it comes under the discussion in Clause 3, an I accept this. Since my noble friend said that under Clause 3(6) an opportunity would be available, for instance, for an academic returning to this country with his children to register them as British citizens after living there for three years, supposing this British academic, so loving his country and so anxious that his child should not remain stateless had therefore to bring it back in the boot of his car and had registered it under Clause 3(2), would he then still be able to bring that child back and register it as a full British citizen under Clause 3(6)?
Lord Bruce of Donington
The noble Lord referred to Clause 3(6). Will he state whereabouts the position of the self-employed is dealt with under Clause 3?
§ Lord Belstead
This is a very important point which is going to be the subject of two or three different amendments. I think that I am going to have the rather doubtful pleasure of replying to them when we come to them. It is not the subject of the present amendment. We are going to be in danger of finding ourselves debating the whole of Clause 3 before we have even arrived at it. I am not slipping the question; as I say, I think that I am due to reply on this particularly important point. We must wait until the right moment for that.
§ Baroness Trumpington
I should like to support my noble friend Lord Home because I still feel it to be the case that the children of those people working abroad at the moment are citizens by descent now. It is their children whom one is worrying about—the grandchildren. That comes up under Clause 3. Therefore, I support my noble friend Lord Home on that point. I should like to say to my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter that registration at consulates had had to be an annual exercise. It was not obligatory, but in the interests of the individual it was an annual exercise. If Members of the Committee turn their minds to the British residents in Iran, they will perhaps agree that citizens by descent who in future would have to register only once with the Home Secretary would stand to gain a very considerable advantage.
§ Lord Geddes
May I support very strongly my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter and pick up the points that the noble Lords, Lord Bruce of Donington and Lord Gifford made. The only problem I have with this amendment is that it is not sufficiently wide. The 1036 wording of the amendment, as it is tabled, is narrow. I hope that the principle could be agreed by my noble friends on the Front Bench rather than the wording itself.
May I pick up a point made by my noble friend Lady Trumpington? I am not sure that I understood her correctly but when she said "now" in the context of the second generation, I believe she probably meant under the Bill as drafted. The child of a British citizen born abroad today is, as I understand it, a full citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies.
I should like to ask that question, too, and in fact I did ask it when I proposed Amendment No. 21. I do not believe that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate replied. This happened in the case of my own daughter, who was born in Germany when I was serving with the British Control Commission. Under the 1948 Act she is at present a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by descent. But, apparently, under Clause 13(2), when this new Bill becomes an Act she will cease to be a citizen by descent, so what does she become?
§ Lord Mackay of Clashfern
The Bill distinguishes between British citizens and British citizens other than by descent, so the question which has just been posed by the noble Lord, Lord Spens, does not really arise. So long as one is a British citizen otherwise than by descent, it does not matter by which particular route one has achieved that.
The debate on this amendment has ranged fairly wide. I should like to say one or two words about Clause 3 before I deal with the amendment because I believe that these words are relevant to the amendment, also. Clause 3(2) provides an entitlement on an application for registration, provided that the Secretary of State is satisfied on certain points. In his opening remarks, I believe that my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter referred to the Secretary of State being able to do this or that "if he thinks fit". It is true that Clause 3(1), which deals with the registration of a minor, contains the phrase "if he thinks fit", but when it comes to the provisions dealing with the registration of a businessman employed overseas, if I can use that phrase in a general sense, it is intended to provide an entitlement, as the opening words of Clause 3(2) makes clear when it states, "shall be entitled".
This raises a point similar to that which was made by the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, when he spoke to an earlier amendment, in respect of what is meant by the Secretary of State being "satisfied". We have undertaken to look at that point and that undertaking will also apply in the somewhat different context of Clause 3. The intention of the Government, so far as Clause 3(2) is concerned, is that it shall confer an entitlement to registration if the circumstances set out in that clause are met. I should also like to confirm that what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, that registration under Clause 3(2) produces a British citizen by descent, is perfectly correct. This might give me an opportunity to cover the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury. I said earlier that having a certificate is sometimes better, when a specific occasion arises, in order to prove the 1037 facts. From that point of view, the advantage of Clause 3(2) is that it provides a procedure for registration within 12 months of birth, when the facts which formed the entitlement are still reasonably fresh.
§ Lord Avebury
Why is that better? When speaking to the previous amendment the noble and learned Advocate said that the procedures in Clause 3 were not necessarily inferior to those which were conferred on Crown servants by Clause 2. I still do not understand how a Crown servant is in a less advantageous position when his children obtain citizenship automatically and the people who we are talking about in Clause 3 have to apply for citizenship and have to establish that five conditions are complied with.
§ Lord Mackay of Clashfern
The way that I see it is this. The conditions in Clause 2 also have to be complied with and, accordingly, a person who has any occasion to show that he is a British citizen under Clause 2 will have to demonstrate that these facts obtain. There is some advantage in a procedure for registration under which the facts which the person has to establish are established within a short time of the occurrence of the facts which are in question, whereas under Clause 2 it might be some considerable time before that investigation started. It is a small point, but it does not seem to me to be necessarily inferior to have to go through a registration procedure.
The main point which has been raised by my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter, concerns the situation with which we are all extremely sympathetic; that of a person who is employed by a British company to work overseas in the interests of that company and thus in the interests of the United Kingdom. I am sure that my noble friend will accept my assurance that the Government are extremely concerned that this matter should be dealt with, and that it should be dealt with in an appropriate manner. The question is, what is the appropriate manner?
My noble friend has suggested that the people covered by his amendment should be covered by Clause 2. My noble friend's amendment coversservice in the employment of a public or private company registered in and operating partly or wholly in the United Kingdom".Perhaps I should say in passing that my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn raised the question of whether, as the result of the placing of this clause, recruitment in the United Kingdom is required. As I read the clause as it would be amended by my noble friend's amendment, recruitment in the United Kingdom would be part of the conditions required.
I believe it is obvious—my noble friend has already accepted this—that if this wording were to be inserted in Clause 2 much more would have to be covered. For example, it would be quite unfair to distinguish between a person employed directly by a British company abroad and a person employed abroad by a wholly-owned subsidiary of a British company. I believe most noble Lords would agree with that. Once one begins to see the variety of circumstances under which a connection with the United Kingdom can be created by employment, one also sees (in my position) the necessity for a structure such as that in Clause 3, which sets out the criteria by which the connection 1038 can be determined. My noble friend's amendment as it stands allows the possibility of service in the employment of a company registered in this country which operates wholly here.
In other words, my noble friend contemplates giving the benefits of this clause to a parent working overseas who is employed by a company which has no operations whatsoever overseas. It is very obvious that that line is one which could quickly lead to a company whose employment contracts are a complete sham. The possibility of working overseas for a company with no operations whatever overseas makes that plain. It is practical considerations of that kind which lead the Government to think that criteria of the type set out in Clause 3 are appropriate for dealing with this particular problem. Clause 2, on the other hand, deals with Crown servants in the second part of it, and not only Civil Servants of the Crown but also the armed orces of the Crown. As my noble friend Lord Belstead has already pointed out so clearly, it is a feature of that service that people return from time to time in the course of it to the United Kingdom. There is a very real connection between that kind of service and the United Kingdom, immediately demonstrated by the existence of that service, without anything more. Further, the records of that service will be very readily obtainable. Therefore the circumstances in which a child has been born, for example, to a serviceman overseas, so far as is relevant to the clause, will be very easily understood and proved, if that should be necessary.
There is another point too: members of the Diplomatic Service and members of the armed forces serving overseas will not normally be able to confer on their children the citizenship of the place in which they are serving. In that way they are distinguished from people who are working for commercial companies. It is these practical considerations which, in out view, make it appropriate for the Crown servant and persons in a similar position, under the powers of Clause 2(3), to be dealt with in this very straightforward manner. It is a question of practicalities and the application of them to the circumstances. Therefore, I would suggest to your Lordships that the principle of having criteria to apply to the great variety of circumstances which can arise connecting a person by employment to this country, is the correct approach.
A number of special questions have been raised: rfo example, that raised by the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, about self-employment. That is a difficult problem and it raises the necessity for some form of criterion of its own, obviously. My noble friend Lord Beloff raised the question of university staffs and members of a university abroad not perhaps fulfilling the criteria set out in Clause 3(2) but still, in his view, having a connection with the United Kingdom. That just shows how difficult it is to provide criteria which encompass all the cases which noble Lords would desire to be dealt with. However, in my respectful submission, Clause 3, and in particular Clause 3(2), are the places in which that variety of circumstances is properly dealt with.
I would submit, therefore, that the kind of entitlement which Clause 3(2) gives—and I would emphasise the word "entitlement"—is a reasonable way of arranging for the passing of British citizenship by British citizens by descent to their children. This 1039 provision is required only if the parent is a British citizen by descent. The transmission is automatic if the parent is a British citizen otherwise than by descent; so we are here concerned only with persons who are working overseas and who are themselves British by descent.
Of course, I appreciate the concerns so eloquently put before us by my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter, but I submit to him that the amendment he has proposed, making it automatic that a person employed by a company established in the United Kingdom should be able to transmit, though he himself is a British citizen by descent, British citizenship to his children, is altogether too wide and opens the door to possibilities for the kinds of arrangements for employment which I have mentioned. There is no criterion at all which limits the sort of employment even to full-time employment or to employment which carried with it any kind of link with the United Kingdom. Therefore, under the terms of his amendment, if one wants to secure transmission of citizenship to the nth generation, all one requires is to have some form of contact with some company established in the United Kingdom, and that will be sufficient. I wonder whether my noble friend's purpose will be adequately served by an amendment as broad as that, and I wonder whether, in the light of these considerations, my noble friend would feel that the amendment he has proposed requires at least some reconsideration.
§ Viscount Thurso
Before the noble and learned Lord sits down, could I ask him to clarify something he said just now which, frankly, I do not understand? I think he said that people would be establishing a connection created by employment with British citizenship. Surely what we are talking about is a disconnection and not a connection, because Clause 2(1)(b) states—… if at the time of the birth his father or mother—(a) is a British citizen …"—and then goes on to say that he is serving overseas. What is being attempted here is to add to the categories in which you can serve overseas and get the advantages of Clause 2(1)(b). If that is the case, then there is a connection already. The person is connected by birth to a British citizen, and the service overseas is a disconnection and not a connection. The noble and learned Lord said that people would be trying to establish a connection with British citizenship by serving overseas. I cannot see how this could be done under this clause, unless his parents were incontrovertibly British before he started.
§ Lord Mackay of Clashfern
The situation, as I understand it, is this: a British citizen otherwise than by descent automatically transmits that citizenship to a child born overseas. If the parent is himself a British citizen by descent, he does not automatically transmit British citizenship to his child. Before he can do so he has to establish some further connection between himself and the United Kingdom. Clause 2(1)(b) provides some of these connections, and as I understand the intention of my noble friend's amendment it is to provide that the type of connection described by the amendment is sufficient to enable that transmission to take place. In other words, the parent is a British 1040 citizen by descent and, in addition, in order to transmit citizenship, he must be an employee of the kind described in the amendment. That is what I mean by saying that there is an additional connection required. I endeavoured to say that this additional connection is really inappropriate, for the reasons given, because it encompasses circumstances which I am sure my noble friend would not, as a matter of fact, wish to encompass.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
May I first of all deal with one or two of the points which have arisen in the course of this debate and say that I made no reference to the armed forces, partly because I did not feel so strongly about favourable treatment on their behalf—as the father of a serving soldier, I could hardly do so and I thought I had better leave that aspect of the matter alone—and partly because the problem is one that I think arises more in respect of the Foreign and Diplomatic Service on which, as the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, will recall, our discussion at Second Reading turned.
I cannot pretend—and I think your Lordships will confirm that I did not—that my amendment was drafted either sufficiently comprehensively or sufficiently fully to go into the Bill as a feature of the law. I did not intend it to do so. I intended it as a vehicle to enable discussion to take place and, in particular, to enable my noble friends on the Government Bench to be told how deeply in the business world feelings have been aroused, not so much by the disparity of treatment, although that hurts a little as compared with Crown service, but far more by the substance of the treatment which is proposed for those who go abroad.
The whole Committee is in this difficulty that, inevitably, Clause 2 comes before Clause 3, as my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel pointed out. The object of the amendment—and what it would effect—is to take this category out of the harm, the damage, of Clause 3. Until we have finished with Clause 3, we do not know how intense that harm will be. I should have been happier if my noble and learned friend had indicated a little more easily that when we come to Clause 3 the Government intend to be flexible.
Clause 3, as it stands, has, as I said, aroused great apprehension among a good many of those concerned and many of us feel that that apprehension is fully justified. If the Government are prepared to exercise some flexibility on Clause 3, that will obviously diminish the desirability of pre-empting them by an amendment of Clause 2. I hope I have made that point clear to my noble and learned friend.
The other difficulty is that, though my amendment would undoubtedly resolve the problems of a limited number of those affected, it is, in my own view, as originally expressed too narrow. I was rather surprised that a noble Lord said that it was too wide. In fact it does not cover a good many of the people whom I think all of your Lordships would like to see covered.
So it seems to me that the sensible thing to do, without taking up too much of your Lordships' time is, in a moment, to seek leave to withdraw this amendment on the basis that we will see what happens on Clause 3. If it be that satisfactory solutions can be 1041 found on Clause 3, then there will be no necessity to come back to this on Report. If, on the other hand, the Government prove too inflexible on Clause 3, it will still be open to any of your Lordships to seek to adopt the solution which is tentatively outlined in my present amendment—that is, taking certain important categories of people out of Clause 3 and giving them the benefits of Clause 2—if that be necessary. But I stress that such an amendment would have to be a good deal wider than the one which the Committee has been discussing.
This discussion has been worthwhile, if only because it has shown how, in all parts of the Committee, there are very real apprehensions about the working of Clause 3 and a real understanding that, valuable though the work of the armed forces and the foreign and diplomatic service overseas is, so of equal value is that of those who serve British industry and commerce in the same areas. Also, we have done something to disabuse the mind of the Government of the idea that there is some inherent difference in the way that these people's affairs are conducted.
I could not help noting, if I may for a moment just refer to it, that one of my noble friends said that the foreign and diplomatic service comes home from time to time. So, of course, does almost any representative of a company or a business. Indeed, if he did not come home, and come home to head office for discussions there, he would cease to be of very much value in the overseas post that he was in. There is a real similarity in the problem which, with respect, is not to be shrugged off in that way. Having said that, and expressing the hope that the Government's flexibility on Clause 3 may enable one to avoid coming back to this on Report, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Wootton of Abinger)
I have to point out that, if Amendment No. 29 is agreed to, I shall not be able to call Nos. 30 or 31.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Lord Hunt had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 29:
Page 3, leave out lines 1 to 10 and insert—
("(b) employment with any company or association established in the United Kingdom; and
(c) employment with any company or association established outside the United Kingdom, where the employee's employment with that company or association was arranged by a company or association established in the United Kingdom; and
(d) employment with any company or association established outside the United Kingdom which is associated with a company or association established in the United Kingdom; and
(e) employment under any international organisation of which the United Kingdom or Her Majesty's government therein or a company or association established in the United Kingdom is a member; and
(f) employment under the government of a dependent territory, if the employee's appointment was affected by the Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations or by the official representative in the United Kingdom of that government; and
(g) in respect of which an agreement entered into by the Secretary of State under section 12 of the Overseas Development and Co-operation Act 1980 (power to
meet expenses incurred in connection with employment in overseas territories) is for the time being in force, so long as the employee is designated under that agreement.").
§ The noble Lord said: I hope the Government will take it as an earnest of my desire to help them that I nearly moved this amendment prematurely about an hour and a half ago. I should thereby have spared the Committee an hour and a half's work by completely ignoring the amendments in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, and the noble Lord, Lord Gridley. But having listened to the debate on the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, I think your Lordships will have understood, and will agree with me, that I do not propose to press the amendment in the names of my noble friends Lord Aylestone and Lord Perry and myself.
§ Before begging leave to withdraw it, I should just like to make the point that during the course of the preceding debate the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, and one or two other noble Lords said that the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, was not sufficiently widely drawn. The purpose of the amendment which is in my name was precisely to draw more widely the categories of persons whose children would, if born abroad, have the same rights to British citizenship as those in Crown service. That was the purpose of the amendment.
§ The second purpose, which I know came out clearly in the previous debate, was to deal with the dislike which we who put down this amendment have to the discretion of the Secretary of State or the Home Office in regard to the criteria in Clause 3. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate drew attention to those criteria and called them a variety of circumstances. I think he said that they were matters identifiable as fact. I hope the noble and learned Lord will forgive me if I have misunderstood, but your Lordships need only to look at Clause 3(2) and paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d), to see that whereas questions (a) and (b) are matters of fact, questions (c) and (d) are matters of subjective judgment. It is on those grounds that we share with others a dislike of the discretion which is left with the Home Office to designate whether the children of people employed in the categories under "relevant employment" should be allowed on application to be registered as British citizens.
§ Having said that, it is quite obvious from the debate that has just occurred that there is a good deal more that will be said in the course of discussion on Clause 3, and I should be very surprised if it was not going to be said on Report, because a great deal has come out with which we on this Bench are totally in sympathy. That is why we put down this amendment. Having made those points, there is no purpose in inviting the Government to rehearse all over again the arguments that have been deployed in making the case against this amendment and that of the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter. I beg leave to withdraw our amendment—
The Deputy Chairman of Committees
The noble Lord cannot withdraw an amendment that he has not moved. He must move the amendment.
The Lord Bishop of Southwell
Before the amendment is withdrawn, I wonder whether I may intervene and ask a question. I think the only place where I can profitably ask it is on the wording of this amendment, as it straddles both Clause 2 and Clause 3. It may seem a rather strange point, but I should be grateful if the Government could help me.
My concern is with those persons who are serving abroad in the service of the Church. They are sometimes called missionaries, but in fact it is no longer easy to define them as people sent from this country to another country. They are in the service of the Church overseas and not necessarily in the service of the Church here. As I think your Lordships will appreciate, the particular institution to which I am referring is a very widespread organisation, and it is difficult to know where its authority lies in this world. When this question was raised in the other House, Mr. Raison, speaking on behalf of the Government, suggested that Clause 3 of this Bill should cover missionaries, and probably did so already, but said that if necessary an amendment would be moved at a later stage to put the matter beyond doubt.
The question, therefore, which I ask, as one of those who find this Bill very difficult to understand, is whether or not the children of people serving the Church overseas are covered by the Bill? I personally married into a family in which successive generations went overseas in the service of the Church. A fourth generation is now doing exactly this. In each case the children have been born overseas. I am not quite sure what situation that puts them in, but it is a very complicated one. Are such children going to be British citizens, as they are at present, or are they not? Are they covered by Clause 2 or by Clause 3? Has the point been covered in the Bill as it stands at present, or has an amendment to be made at a later stage?
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ Lord Renton
The right reverend Prelate has made a point which I was going to make on Clause 3 and I hope I shall not be out of order if, briefly, I follow him. I do not think that at the moment the Bill gives him any comfort, either in Clause 3 or anywhere else. If we turn to Clause 3 to see what is meant by "relevant employment" at the bottom of page 3, we find that it is employmentwith any company or association established in the United Kingdom".The definition is broadened slightly in subsection (3) of Clause 3. We find that "an association" means an unincorporated body of persons. I understand that a bishop is a corporation sole. But the clergy serving overseas are not employed by bishops. It is difficult for us in this country to know exactly by whom they are employed. It may be that within the Anglican Church they get the freehold of their church, as they do in this country. The right reverend Prelate shakes his head, so I must be wrong. At any rate, this is a point which does not appear to have been covered by the Bill, and I agree with the right reverend Prelate that it should be. However, we must make sure that it applies only to established Churches and other established religious persuasions, otherwise it could be a means of getting round the provisions in the Bill.
The Lord Bishop of Southwell
It would be a mistake to suggest that all such persons are clergymen. The vast majority of them will be laymen. I take the point which has been made, that there are difficulties in drafting a Bill to make sure that there are no unseemly loopholes, but the majority of persons to whom I am referring are very genuine persons who at present are British citizens. They, like other people who have gone abroad to serve, serve with great devotion the countries to which they go. However, when they retire they will come back to this country because they have gone out in the service of perhaps a missionary society or the Church overseas for a period of time. They are not intending to become nationals of that country. I hope that we shall receive some assurance on this point.
§ Lord Avebury
The only provision in Clause 3 which might conceivably have been in the Minister's mind when he was talking about Clause 3 in another place is subsection (6), a provision which has already been mentioned in relation to professors and other academics attending overseas universities. That provision might be appropriate for academics, providing, as it does, that a person has to be absent from the United Kingdom on no more than 270 days in any one of the three years preceding the date of application. I assume that that figure was selected with a view to bringing in the academics, knowing that the long summer recesses would enable them to come back to the United Kingdom and maintain their entitlement under Clause 3(6). It would be extremely unlikely. I take it, that a missionary who is working in, say, Africa would have such a rich employer that he would be able to send him home every single year and give him as much as 95 days' leave. While it may be very appropriate from the point of view of the academics, I do not think that the honourable gentleman Mr. Timothy Raison has quite fulfilled the undertaking which he gave at the Committee stage in another place to ensure that missionaries were covered.
§ Lord Drumalbyn
May I ask my noble friend whether or not this is exactly the sort of case which might be covered by Clause 3(1):If while a person is a minor an application is made for his registration as a British citizen, the Secretary of State may, if he thinks fit, cause him to be registered as such a citizen".Surely this is exactly the kind of case in which the Secretary of State should think fit.
§ Lord Mishcon
Everybody is trying to help the bishop, and it is right that we should. May I make a simple suggestion: that at the Report stage to Clause 3(2)(c):that the nature or terms and conditions of that employment involved a close connection with the United Kingdom;we should insert the words:or the Kingdom of Heaven"?
§ Lord Mackay of Clashfern
Appropriate as that suggestion is, I doubt whether it would go the whole distance. The answer to the question which the right reverend Prelate has raised must depend upon whether or not the missionary in question is employed by an association established in the United Kingdom. We understand that most of the arrangements under 1045 which missionaries are sent out from the United Kingdom would involve them in being employed by an unincorporated body of persons. Perhaps the best way to take this matter forward would be to have a clearer idea from the right reverend Prelate and the Church generally of the circumstances in which missionaries serve so that we can ensure that the provisions of the Bill, so far as appropriate, cover them. As my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn pointed out, Clause 3(1) provides the Secretary of State with a very general discretion to register any minor if he thinks fit. If by some oversight the position of missionaries was not properly dealt with, I have no doubt that that discretion would be available. However, it may be preferable to try to deal with it in the more substantive parts of the clause, which is what I understood my honourable friend Mr. Raison to have in mind in the reply which he gave. So far as the academics are concerned—
§ Lord Drumalbyn
Before my noble friend leaves that point, may I mention to him that he has spoken about the Church. Would he extend that to "the Churches"?
§ Lord Mackay of Clashfern
In using the phrase "the Church", I certainly had in mind a very wide conception. Certainly I was not excluding—
§ Lord Mackay of Clashfern
I was hoping to be able to offer some such phrase. I had in mind the circumstances of missionaires generally, but in that connection one has to remember what my noble friend Lord Renton said.
The Lord Bishop of Southwell
May I say that I was intending my remarks to apply not just to the Church of England. I am not aware that the Roman Catholic Church sends out any missionaries who would be likely to bear children, but most of the Protestant Missionary Societies do have married missionaries. I hope the Committee realises that I am speaking for all the Churches and not just the Church of England.
I am very glad that the amendment, which I had not intended to move, but apparently had, had a useful ecumenical spin-off. With that I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 6.21 p.m.
§ Lord Avebury moved Amendment No. 30:
Page 3, line 2, leave out ("under subsection (3)") and insert ("in Schedule (Service associated with the activities outside the United Kingdom of Her Majesty's Government)
( ) The Secretary of State may by order made by statutory instrument add to or remove from Schedule (Service associated with the activities outside the United Kingdom of Her Majesty's Government); but no order shall be made under this subsection unless a draft of the order has been laid before Parliament and approved by each House of Parliament.").
The noble Lord said: I beg to move the amendment standing in my name. I would refer, first of all, to the remarks made earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, when he drew the attention of the Committee
to Clause 13(1)(a) which defines the British citizen "by descent" as such a citizen
only if he is a person born outside the United Kingdom after commencement who is a British citizen by virtue of section 2(1)(a) only
et cetera. If one looks at Clause 2 one sees that the person who is a British citizen by virtue of Clause 2(1)(b) is a British citizen otherwise than by descent. This is the important distinction we sought to bring out earlier between persons who receive British citizenship as a result of descent from a person who is in Crown service or service to which Clause 2 is applied by designation of the Secretary of State, and Clause 3 citizenship, on the other hand, which is acquired by means of registration.
§ I think the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, brought out a very important point: that we are not talking simply about differences in the procedure whereby citizenship is acquired when we are comparing Clauses 2 and 3; we are talking about a very real distinction in the nature and quality of the citizenship, because the person whose father was a servant of the Crown or a member of the armed forces or any of the other categories of employment to which this section applies is able to transmit his own citizenship, whereas the descendant of the person employed by the companies to which the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter has drawn our attention is not able to transmit his citizenship. Therefore I was right when I intervened and asked the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate whether there was not something inferior in the quality of citizenship given under Clause 3 as compared with that under Clause 2. Therefore it is extremely important that we should know precisely what kind of service the Government have in mind when they talk about service designated by the Secretary of State.
§ If I may say so, I think it is wholly unsatisfactory that an important matter of this kind should be dealt with by means of private correspondence between the Minister in another place and certain privileged individuals who have been given an indication of the kinds of service which the Secretary of State might have in mind here. The noble Baroness, Lady White, enlightened us earlier on as to what the Secretary of State thought should be employment of the kind designated. Nobody else knows that, or they would not have known it if the noble Baroness had not been good enough to convey the information which was in Mr. Raison's letter. I think the Government should have treated your Lordships rather better than this and that we should have had proper information as to kinds of employment that were going to be designated.
§ The reason for my putting down this amendment is to suggest to the Government that if they have decided to designate Crown servants seconded to work overseas, members of the Overseas Civil Service, members of the armed forces, employees of the British Council and employees of the Crown Agents, the categories of employment which I have heard mentioned this afternoon by the noble Baroness, Lady White, or others, they could be dealt with by means of a schedule so that we should know ab initio that persons in that employment were to benefit from the provisions in Clause 2, without in any way subtracting from the 1047 powers of the Secretary of State under Clause 2 to add to those categories by designation.
§ If we may take with this amendment the draft schedule which is in Amendment No. 86, I tried to put down some representative types of employment which I thought the Government might have in mind. Some of them I obviously guessed correctly, such as the British Council and Crown Agents. From the discussion we had earlier it is clear that the Government do not intend to extend this privilege to any of the employees of the European institutions. I think that is a great shame, because I would agree with the arguments already advanced that service with any of the bodies such as I have mentioned here should qualify. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list; I should have included the Council of Europe, of which the European Commission of Human Rights is a subsidiary body; I might have extended it to other international organisations—the International Atomic Agency, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Inter-Parliamentary Union. One could go on extending it. I see the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, nodding. One of the arguments the Government may be seeking to advance is that you water down this privilege of Clause 2 if you confer it on too wide a circle of people. What I am suggesting is that we could at least establish, to the satisfaction of the ordinary man in the street in a common sense way, what is employment of the kind which is to the benefit of the state and is connected with the purposes of the United Kingdom.
§ I certainly think that, whatever else may be said, European institutions of the kind I have put down as examples, and some of the institutions of the UN, ought to be included in that category. So I am appealing to the Government at this stage, first of all to say that they will in principle be prepared to insert a schedule of this kind, not necessarily exactly the one I have here, and that they will be prepared to state from the start what employments they already have in mind as those to which Clause 2 will apply; and, secondly, that they will think once again about the very important arguments advanced that the European institutions, if no other, should be included in those to which Clause 2 applies. I beg to move.
§ Baroness Elles
In supporting very much what the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, has said, I should like to point out that I believe there would be an anomaly under Clause 2 as it now stands, because of course all the appointments in the European institutions are recruited in Brussels or in Luxembourg and not in the United Kingdom. Therefore, if I have understood the clause correctly, they would not fall under Clause 2(1)(b) as now drafted. Perhaps my noble and learned friend the Lord Advocate would be able to comment on that when he replies.
We have, 9f course, already debated this matter at some length, but I should like to stress the need for able, willing and hard-working British citizens to work on behalf of Britain in the European institutions. I only have to draw attention to my own political group, the European Democratic Group in the European Parliament which, as the noble Baroness, Lady White, pointed out—not only ours but the other members elected from the United Kingdom—are 1048 elected precisely to serve the citizens of this country. We cannot serve the citizens of this country if we do not get the best people to help us do that job to the best of our own ability. Therefore, we draw on people who are willing to leave this country who are, of course, British by birth—I presume that they are, but anyway they are certainly British citizens, they are certainly attached closely to this country and their interests are with this country. Yet, they are now being asked to go and live in Brussels, Luxembourg or wherever—and they are young people who may have children—and they are expected to sacrifice the citizenship of their children by serving this country and us in, for instance, the European Parliament. I, therefore, strongly support the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, in the thinking behind his proposal and I would most earnestly ask my noble and learned friend to look at the matter much more closely than the Government have so far been willing to do.
I also had a copy of the letter from Mr. Raison to members of the Community in Brussels. They have been extremely worried by it and the uncertainty and insecurity in which they are living with their families is causing them great distress and concern. Perhaps I should declare not only the interest that I have already declared of having a granddaughter in Brussels, but also that both my son and my daughter-in-law happen to work in the European Commission. So not only is their present child affected by the results of the Bill, but also any future children that they may have. I say that only in passing because they are by no means the only people affected. Many of their colleagues, young people working with them, feel that the effects of this Bill will be disastrous for the future of their children, particularly in Belgium where, if they do not register their child, the child will be stateless. That is surely something that no British Government should allow to happen. Particularly as we are signatories to the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness to expect British citizens to work for Britain and to allow their children to be stateless is surely something that this House would not tolerate.
§ Lord Trefgarne
I should like to begin by dealing with the last point made by my noble friend Lady Elles. Of course the Bill has special provisions with regard to the avoidance of statelessness which are set out in Schedule 2 which your Lordships will see on page 55 of the Bill. I believe that the anxieties of my noble friend on that account are not well founded.
§ Baroness Elles
I am sorry to intervene, but I assure my noble friend that my fears are not allayed by the way in which Schedule 2 is drafted. If we do not get a satisfactory answer at this stage of the Bill and some encouragement that the European institutions at least will be included in Clause 2, we shall raise the matter again under Schedule 2.
§ Lord Trefgarne
I have a little more to say yet and I hope that my noble friend will take a more balanced view of the problem when I have finished my remarks.
I turn to the opening remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Avebury. As the noble Lord explained this set of amendments is aimed at the power in Clause 2(3) to designate by order any description of service con- 1049 sidered to be closely associated with the activities outside the United Kingdom of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. Under subsection (4) of the clause any such order would be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either your Lordships' House or another place.
We have indicated in another place—and several noble Lords have already referred to this—the categories of service which we currently intend to designate in this way. The first is employment with the British Council. The second is service with an international organisation by Crown servants seconded to such bodies in the course of their careers. Third comes service with Her Majesty's overseas Civil Service. I would observe at this point that the new schedule which the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, seeks to add to the Bill does not, in fact, cover the last category at all, although I recognise that the noble Lord agreed that his schedule might not be a perfect one. Morever, it fails to cover the second group in full, since the schedule does not cover all the international organisations of which we are members. However, I think that the noble Lord recognises that imperfection at least in what he proposes.
Although in those respects the proposed new schedule is more restrictive than the Government intend to be under subsection (3), in other respects Lord Avebury's proposals go wider. He aims, if I understand him aright, to give the children of people working for international organisations the same avenue as Crown servants' children to British citizenship at birth. The Government are by no means blind to the claims of our citizens who represent this country's interests overseas by working for an international organisation of which we are a member. Clause 3(3)(d) provides for an entitlement to registration for them where connections with this country are maintained. We are, however, doubtful whether it would be appropriate to go further than that.
I would ask your Lordships to remember that the people who benefit from the Bill's provisions for passing citizenship through employment are British citizens by descent. British citizens otherwise than by descent would be able to pass on their citizenship anyway to their children born overseas. So we are talking about the power to transmit their citizenship of people born overseas who have chosen to make their careers overseas with an international organisation. However, such employees are in a different position from Crown servants in two respects. First, their job does not dictate, as a Crown servant's normally does, that periods of one's career will be spent in the United Kingdom. I am not pretending that that is an argument which will appeal to my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter, but some others of your Lordships may see the force of it. Second, access to the citizenship of the country of residence will not be barred in the same way as it is for the children of diplomats or visiting armed forces.
In these circumstances, it may well be the case in some instances that the people concerned will prefer their children have the citizenship of the country where they are living. A male citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by descent working say, for the United Nations in New York, has at present to make a choice whether or not he wants a child born 1050 to him there to be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies. If he does, he can register the birth of the child at the consulate. If he does not, the child will solely be a citizen of the United States by birth, which may indeed be more appropriate. Under Lord Avebury's amendment, however, there would be no choice. British citizenship would be acquired at birth and this could in some cases make it more difficult for the child to acquire or keep citizenship of a country where the family will now have been living for perhaps two generations.
I would, therefore, recommend to your Lordships the Government's approach. This recognises that some at least of those citizens by descent born overseas and working overseas for an international organisation may see their children's future as lying overseas rather than with this country. But where they do retain links with this country—and of course I recognise that very many of them will—then the provisions of Clause 3 more than cater for their needs. Employment with an international organisation is specifically mentioned in Clause 3(3)(d) and we have no doubt that the bodies mentioned in the proposed new schedule are all international organisations for this purpose, apart from the British Council and the Crown Agents. The former would be designated under Clause 2(3); the latter would be covered by Clause 3 since it is a company or an association based in the United Kingdom.
My noble friend Lady Elles also of course referred to the question of European Members of Parliament, but I find it hard to imagine that European Members of Parliament would not be retaining some links with the United Kingdom if they were adequately representing their constituency in the European Parliament as, of course, they all do so effectively.
I should like to mention one final point. The noble Lord's amendment recognises that no schedule specifying qualifying service of this nature could be complete. That is why the Government felt that an order-making power was appropriate here, to take account of changing circumstances such as the emergence of new organisations. Indeed, the noble Lord has provided for entries to be added to or subtracted from the schedule, after an affirmative resolution of both Houses of Parliament. I venture to suggest that the Government's proposals here are flexible and suitable to the needs of the situation. It is true that subsection (4)—which I note that the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, has neglected to seek to omit—only provides for the negative resolution procedure. But that procedure would, I suggest, provide a more than adequate opportunity for parliamentary debate, if one is wanted. I hope that these thoughts will persuade the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, not to press his amendment.
§ Lord Mishcon
I very much hope that the arguments will have the reverse effect upon the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, than that for which the noble Lord the Minister has prayed, except that I thought that the approach of the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, was, as usual, a very statesmanlike approach. It was that it might be very sensible to wait until one sees the final form of Clause 3, after the Government have reacted to the various amendments that will be moved, 1051 before seeing how serious the omissions from Clause 2 may be.
Having said that, may I, very frankly, tell the Committee what worries me. I must confess that I am a little worried by an answer to the plea about children being stateless, that the jus soli, one hopes, will obtain in other countries. It is rather an odd situation when the jus soli has been thrown out by the Government as being rather a wrong basis upon which nationality should be based. Apparently, we shall be keeping to the convention—to which the noble Baroness referred—that we have signed in regard to reducing statelessness, in the hope that other countries will not throw out what we have just thrown out.
But what really worries me is this, and having said it, I shall conclude. If I may say so in all humility, I am very worried that a specific amendment about employees of the EEC may have to be put down on Report unless the Government have a second thought. I think that it would be a very great shame—I want to use moderate language—if an amendment, specifically referring to membership of the EEC, is tabled—and that is a very specific case for a reason that I shall give in a moment—is opposed by the Government and, as a result of the Government asking for support from its members, is defeated in this House. I think that it would be extremely and singularly unfortunate at this specific moment—when much is being tried by the Government in regard to showing loyalty at one to the EEC and at the same time asking for reform of certain matters within the EEC—if a specific amendment was put down on this basis and was opposed by the Government.
If I may say so, it would be so easy for the Government to give in on this point of the EEC—and that is one that I am stressing—because there is no other Parliament, other than our own, to which we elect members as a result of a democratic system. Therefore, it is so easy to make an exception of that without walking into the argument that is a favourite one of Ministers, whatever their political complexion may be, that this would open the floodgates. No opening of the flood gates comes as a result of making an exception of employees in the EEC.
Therefore, I am pleading with the Government to have a very serious thought about this and to communicate their view, if they possibly can, on this question of the EEC between now and the Report stage, in order to prevent specific amendments in this connection being put down which, so far as I know, have not been put down at the Committee stage, and very rightly so.
§ Lord Trefgarne
The difficulty is, of course, that the noble Lord opposite is asking, me to give him a view, not on the amendment on the Marshalled List, but on some future amendment which may be tabled at some later stage of the Bill. I am sorry but I cannot give him that undertaking because, of course, I have to see the amendment as proposed. Therefore, I do not think that I could go further than that now. The amendments to which I was addressing my arguments was the wider set of amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, and the criticisms which I adduced of those were the ones that I ventured to put before your Lordships.
§ Lord Mishcon
I will not take up more than a moment of the Committee's time, but my plea to the noble Lord the Minister was directed to a specific subject on purpose. I did not ask for any statement to be made today; I merely asked for consideration of this point to be given by the Government between now and the Report stage in order to save a specific amendment being tabled, the wording of which quite obviously is well within the Minister's mind.
§ Lord Gifford
I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, could turn his attention to the point which has now been raised both by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, and by myself; that is to say, that the people who will obtain citizenship through registration under Clause 3(2), which is the avenue which he recommends for employees of the EEC and of other organisations in the list of the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, will have an inferior citizenship to the citizenship which is obtained under Clause 2(1)(b)? That is because it is a citizenship by descent, as has been confirmed, and not a citizenship otherwise than by descent.
The impact of that is that all the people whom the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, has mentioned, who are working overseas in the service of the European Community, must face the fact that their children will not be able to transmit their citizenship. They are different kinds of citizens from those who are born in this country. They are not only different kinds of citizens, but they can never be upgraded, because the noble Baroness specifically asked whether one could, as it were, rectify the deficiency in one's citizenship under Clause 3(2) by making a second application under Clause 3(6) when one returns to the United Kingdom. The answer given was "No, you are stuck with citizenship by descent by the very fact that you have registered under Clause 3(2)", and that cannot be right. If that situation remains, it is imperative to have a wider schedule of the kind that the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, has proposed, so that you can be absolutely clear that those who ought to have full citizenship without disadvantages should be put into Clause 2 rather than Clause 3.
§ Lord Trefgarne
I am not entirely certain to what disadvantages the noble Lord refers, because the transmission point that he made is not, I am advised, strictly correct in the terms that the noble Lord expressed it. I agree that the citizenship under Clause 3, which we shall discuss in great detail in a moment—and in Clause 3(2) in particular—is, of course, different from the type of citizenship that we are now considering. But I do not necessarily accept—and nor, indeed, did my noble and learned friend accept at an earlier moment in your Lordships' discussions—that this is necessarily an inferior citizenship, although I accept that it is different.
§ Lord Avebury
I am really disappointed at the Minister's reply. I should like to say a few words about the arguments that he has put to your Lordships which I do not think are satisfactory at all; in particular, when he answered the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, by saying that there are no provisions for statelessness in Schedule 2. If we look at the provisions in Schedule 2, we see that in order to satisfy the requirements 1053 there you must bring the child back to the United Kingdom or to one of the dependent territories, and the child must be here for a period of three years before that purgatory has expired and the lack of citizenship can be rectified. So for the first few years of a child's life, in the circumstances that the noble Baroness outlined, that child will be stateless. As the noble Baroness pointed out, that may well happen to some of her own grandchildren. If people are to be requested to go and serve in the institutions of the European Community, of which we are supposed to be a loyal member, I think that they deserve better of Her Majesty's Government.
I am disappointed about the response of the noble Lord to the particular request regarding the EEC. I agree that my schedule is wider than that, but this is where the discussion has progressed. After all, the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, put a specific request to the Minister; he said, leaving aside what is actually in this schedule would the Minister at least give an undertaking to go away and consider the arguments that have been advanced from all sides of the Committee regarding the special circumstances in which people serve the institutions of Europe, and see whether he cannot come back with something on Report stage?
The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, was not asking the noble Lord to give a positive undertaking that he would incorporate the EEC citizens here; simply that the Government should take it into consideration and come back on Report. This is something we are always asking Ministers to do in Committee, and frequently they will say they will have a look at it. But in the absence of any assurances whatsoever, and the direct and blank refusal of the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, to the request put by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, I feel that I have no alternative but to ask your Lordships to divide on this amendment.
§ Lord Trefgarne
Just before the noble Lord decides what to do, I think there may be a misunderstanding. Of course we will listen to, and look at, what has been said in the debate in this Committee. But what the noble Lord is putting to us in his amendment is something much wider. The European point raised by my noble friend and others is certainly something we can look at, but the wider point put by the noble Lord is not something that we could agree to.
§ Lord Avebury
I wish the noble Lord had made that point before, because if he had said that in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, I would have adopted a different tone of voice. I now apply to reverse my stand entirely and say that I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, for adding that, and saving us all from trooping through the Division Lobbies. We will look forward very much to seeing what the noble Lord produces on Report stage for the benefit of people working in the European institutions, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendment No. 31 not moved.]
§ Clause 2 agreed to.
§ Clause 3 [Acquisition by registration: minors]:
§ [Amendments Nos. 32 and 33 not moved.]1054
§ Lord Avebury
Is it convenient to begin Amendment No. 34 now, or does the noble Lord wish to adjourn?
§ Lord Skelmersdale
In that case, I think I might take it upon myself to suggest that it probably is not appropriate for your Lordships to move this amendment now. I suggest that we come back to this Committee stage at a quarter to eight. I beg to move that the House do now resume.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House resumed.