HL Deb 19 March 1985 vol 461 c537WA
Lord Bethell

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are aware that Commonwealth citizens settled in the United Kingdom before 1971 are entitled to register as British citizens for a fee of £55.00, whereas citizens of Gibraltar with a similar entitlement pay a fee of only £5.00; whether they will accept that a substantial number of Commonwealth citizens settled in this country and wishing to apply for citizenship do not do so because they cannot afford the £55.00 fee; and whether they will therefore consider reducing this registration fee to that paid by Gibraltar citizens so that in future anyone from the Commonwealth entitled to apply for registration and wishing to do so may do so irrespective of his or her financial situation.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Elton)

Section 5 and Section 7 of the British Nationality Act 1981 provide respectively for the registration as British citizens by entitlement of citizenship of Gibraltar and of Commonwealth citizens and citizens of the Republic of Ireland settled here before 1st January 1973. Apart from minor clerical work done in this country, all the work of processing an application is carried out in Gibraltar. The Government of Gibraltar levies a local charge, currently £5, for the service. The processing of an application for entitlement registration from a Commonwealth citizen or citizen of the Republic of Ireland is done entirely in this country and the fee of £55 recovers the average cost of processing it.

The possibility of reducing or waiving fees for particular categories of applicants has been considered many times, but cannot be implemented as there are at present insuperable obstacles of cost and administrative burdens.