HL Deb 23 February 1981 vol 417 cc968-70WA
Lord Avebury

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why, in answering applications for resumption of citizenship under Section 1 of the British Nationality Act 1964, overseas posts do not inform persons who had neither a father or grandfather born, registered or naturalised in the United Kingdom that they may nevertheless apply and that the Secretary of State may grant the resumption of citizenship to persons lacking the qualifying connection at his discretion; why the notes provided with the applica- tion form R16 do not give this information either; whether the discretion has been liberally interpreted, as predicted by the Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations and for the Colonies in the House of Lords on 28th November 1963; how many registrations there were under Section 1 of the Act in each of the years 1976 to 1980 inclusive; how many in each of those years were at the Secretary of State's discretion, and whether they will amend the present Nationality Bill as so to provide that applicants wrongly advised by British posts overseas that they were not eligible to resume citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies, or that there was no provision in the British Nationality Acts for them to be registered as citizens, should be notified personally of their rights and given an appropriate period of, say, two years, in which to submit fresh applications.

Lord Belstead

I am not aware that overseas posts act in the way the noble Lord suggests. The notes provided with the application form R16 indicate that the Secretary of State may register at his discretion any person who lacks the qualifying connection but who has renounced his or her citizenship in the circumstances specified in the Act. The notes also advise such a person how to complete the application form. In exercising the discretion it has been the practice over the years to look for a degree of connection with the United Kingdom at the time citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies was renounced. The interpretation of the discretion has I think been in the spirit of the remarks made by the Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations and for the Colonies in this House on 28th November 1963. Figures for registration for the years 1976 and 1980 are set out in the table below.

I am not persuaded that there is a need for the British Nationality Bill be be amended as the noble

Naturalisation Registration at discretion(1)
(Section 5A(2) of the BNA 1948)
1978 1979 1980 1978 1979 1980
Number of applications granted 1,755 1,914 5,669 585 501 1,156
Number of applications refused 222 556 1,119 80 81 204
Reasons for refusal(2):
(a) Failure to meet statutory residential requirements etc. 83 217 483 28 9 21
(b) Failure to meet requirement as to character (criminal record, bankruptcy, insolvency, dubious business or other record, deception, etc.) 57 130 249 29 28 77
(c) Failure to meet language requirement 31 114 190 6 19 34
(d) Failure to meet requirements as to future residential intentions 45 109 264 28 28 73
(e) Other reasons 14 8 15 2 7
(1) The initial processing of these applications is different to that of naturalisation applications. Unlike those for naturalisation, these totals of applications refused do not include applications which fail at the initial examination, for example because of lack of qualifying residence.
(2) An application may be refused for more than one reason. The number of applicants refused in any one year will therefore not necessarily agree with the total of reasons for that year.

Information as to how many persons were advised that they should not re-apply for at least two years could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Lord suggests, but I shall be glad to consider any individual case that he may have in mind.


In United Kingdom Overseas
Year Entitlement Discretionary British High Commissions* Colonies
1976 10 1 30 1
1977 11 14
1978 16 30
1979 16 22
1980 14 1 not yet available
* All applicants registered at British High Commissions had the qualifying connection as High Commissioners have no authority to register applicants lacking that connection.
† It is not known whether the applicant registered in a Colony had the qualifying connection or not.