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Session 2002 - 03
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Crown Employment (Nationality) Bill


These notes refer to the Crown Employment (Nationality) Bill as introduced in the House of Commons on 28th January 2003 [Bill 48]




1.     These Explanatory Notes relate to the Crown Employment (Nationality) Bill as introduced in the House of Commons on 28th January 2003. They have been prepared by the Cabinet Office, with the consent of Mr Andrew Dismore, the Member in charge of the Bill, in order to assist the reader of the Bill and to help inform debate on it. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.

2.     The Notes need to be read in conjunction with the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill. So where a clause or part of a clause does not seem to require any explanation or comment, none is given.


3.     The Bill removes the existing restrictions (under both primary and secondary legislation) placed on the employment of non-UK nationals in civil capacities under the Crown and on the offices they may hold under the Crown.

4.     In place of the current system (described below) the Bill would open up all civil employment under the Crown to applicants of any nationality, apart from such positions as would be restricted to UK nationals under rules made by a Minister of the Crown (or by another Crown officer to whom the power to make such rules has been delegated by a Minister of the Crown).

5.     The Bill does not deal with immigration or work permits and does not affect the requirements for non-UK nationals to get leave to remain and to work in the UK before they can take up work.

[Bill 48-EN]     53/2


6.     The Act of Settlement of 1700 provides, in section 3, that no person born out of the kingdoms of England, Scotland or Ireland or the dominions thereto belonging should be capable of enjoying any office or place of trust, either civil or military, under the Crown. This prohibition does not apply to Commonwealth citizens or citizens of the Irish Republic (see section 52(6) of, and Schedule 7 to, the British Nationality Act 1981) or to British protected persons employed in a civil capacity (see section 1(1) of the Aliens' Employment Act 1955).

7.     Section 6 of the Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act 1919 provides that no alien shall be appointed to any office or place in the Civil Service of the State. An alien is now defined in section 51(4) of the British Nationality Act 1981 as a person who is neither a Commonwealth citizen nor a British protected person nor a citizen of the Republic of Ireland.

8.     Under the Aliens' Employment Act 1955 the prohibitions were relaxed so that aliens could be employed if they were either:

    a)     appointed in a country outside the UK, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man in a capacity appearing to the Minister to be appropriate for aliens; or

    b)     employed in accordance with a certificate issued by a Minister with the consent of the Minister for the Civil Service (this was originally with the consent of the Treasury but the function was transferred to the Minister for the Civil Service by the Transfer of Functions (Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service) Order 1995 (SI 1995/269)). In this connection either there must be no suitably qualified UK nationals available to do the work or the alien must possess exceptional qualifications or experience to do the job. Certificates last for 5 years and must then be renewed.

9.     A list of the certificates issued under the 1955 Act and a statement of the number of persons employed under the certificates must be laid before Parliament by the Treasury. For the year 2001-2002 the number of certificates and persons employed under those certificates was 45.

10.     The European Communities (Employment in the Civil Service) Order 1991 (SI 1991/1221) amended the 1955 Act so as to allow nationals of member states of the European Communities (and their spouses and certain children) to take up civil employment under the Crown apart from "public service" posts within the meaning of the EC Treaty (see Article 48(4) of the EEC Treaty, now Article 39(4) of the EC Treaty, which excludes from the freedom of movement of workers posts in the "public service").

11.     The rights of nationals of member states of the European Communities were extended to nationals of member states of the European Economic Area by section 2(1) of the European Economic Area Act 1993.

12.     In 1996 an amendment to the Civil Service Management Code was made to restrict Commonwealth and Irish nationals (who are not subject to the prohibitions in the Act of Settlement or the 1919 Act) from being employed in posts which were reserved for UK nationals. This put Commonwealth citizens and Irish nationals in the same position as nationals of other member states of the European Economic Area.

13.     The effect of the existing rules, therefore, is that foreign nationals may be employed abroad in any civil post under the Crown (which includes the Diplomatic Service) if the Minister considers it appropriate. As regards civil employment, or the holding of office, under the Crown within the UK, Commonwealth Citizens, British protected persons and nationals of member states of the European Economic Area may be employed in posts other than reserved ones. Nationals of other countries may be employed in UK non-reserved posts only if a certificate is in force.


Clause 1: Removal of restrictions as to nationality applying to civil employment or offices under the Crown

14.     Subsection (1) provides that the general prohibition on the employment of certain aliens in section 3 of the Act of Settlement 1700 does not apply to employment, or the holding of office, in a civil capacity under the Crown.

15.      Subsection (2) repeals section 6 of the Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act 1919 (which, subject to exceptions, prevents the appointment of aliens to posts in the Civil Service).

Clause 2: Power to impose requirements as to nationality in relation to certain Crown appointments

16.     Subsection (1) of clause 2 allows rules to be made reserving specified posts for certain specified nationalities. This would allow certain posts to be reserved for UK nationals where it was thought right that they should be carried out by UK nationals. Any rules made under this power would have to comply with the requirements both of the European Communities and of the European Convention on Human Rights.

17.     Subsection (2) allows the rules to impose requirements as to nationality of persons who are related to, or living with, the person employed or holding office.

18.     Subsection (3) provides that the rules be made by a Minister of the Crown or by such other officer of the Crown to whom the power has been delegated by a Minister.

19.     Subsection (4) allows the rules to exempt persons who were first employed or held office before a specified date and allows the granting of exemptions to the rules in appropriate cases.

20.     Subsection (5) provides that the granting of, or refusal to grant, exemptions shall not be subject to challenge under the Race Relations Act 1976.

Clause 3: Repeals and revocation

21.     This clause brings the Schedule into effect. The Schedule repeals the Aliens' Employment Act 1955 as there is no need for it (or for the provisions amending it) once section 6 of the 1919 Act has been repealed and the scope of the Act of Settlement has been restricted by the Bill. The European Communities (Employment in the Civil Service) Order 1991 is therefore revoked.


22.     The effect will be broadly neutral. The additional costs arising from fewer job applications being sifted out initially and from the carrying out of security checks on foreign nationals are expected to be balanced by the reduction in administrative time involved in operating the current complex rules.


23.     The Regulatory Impact Unit has confirmed that no Regulatory Impact Assessment is required.


24.     The Bill will be brought into force on an appointed day.


25.     The Bill extends to England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Civil servants in the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are employed (or hold office) under the Crown and so the general nationality restrictions applying to such posts will be lifted, subject to the power to re-impose those restrictions in appropriate cases.

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