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8.15 pm

Andrew Mackinlay: None of this material that the Minister is rehearsing contradicts what I said. If he reads the Official Report tomorrow, he will find that I told him the history. He is now getting full marks for getting it correct, having listened to what I said. The issue remains, however, the parity of treatment. The fact is that in one part of the United Kingdom it is possible to opt either way or have both; it is a matter of our relationship with Ireland and the fact that the people born in the 32 counties of Ireland are unique. It is not comparable to the European Union, or to Pakistan and India; it is a one-off. As to all this business about naturalisation, it is a gross impertinence that folk have to go through this long, tortuous and expensive process to do what is simply common sense and perfectly just.

Mr. Woolas: I am sorry that my hon. Friend did not listen to what I, in fact, said rather than what he has assumed I was saying. What I said in respect of his new clause, not in relation to the general policy issue, is that it is not possible to allow those born after 1949 to retain British subject status as they did not have it. That was my simple and logical point, irrespective of one's view on the justice, morality or otherwise of the issue.

My hon. Friend says that those born after 1949 who have emigrated from the Republic of Ireland and come to Britain cannot opt to be British. That is simply not the case. He may not like the route, but the fact is that a child born in the Republic who moved to the UK when a child-presumably with his or her parents-can naturalise as a British citizen under section 6(1) of the 1981 Act, or, if the parent who acquired citizenship was registered as a British citizen when still a child, it can be done under section 1(3) or 1(4) of the 1981 Act.

14 July 2009 : Column 231

My hon. Friend asks what is to stop a person applying in the usual way, and the answer is nothing. What is also different is the fact that the Republic of Ireland is also a member of the European Union, which has changed since 1949, so that represents an important difference.

Sammy Wilson: I think the Minister has missed the point. The new clause is really a request for a reciprocal arrangement to the one that exists for people who live in the United Kingdom and want to claim Irish citizenship. For them, there is an easy route. All the new clause is requesting is that that easy route be available in the other direction. That is why this is a unique situation: people who wish to have Irish citizenship have a method by which they can get it quickly, so to reciprocate in the other direction seems to me to be fairly sensible.

Mr. Woolas: I am sorry the hon. Gentleman thinks I have missed the point, but I think I have exactly addressed the point, by saying that there is an available route. I do not accept that it is a difficult route. Indeed, many hon. Members have made representations to the effect that EU membership citizenship is too easy to get. If that is the case for other EU countries, hon. Members would presumably think it was the case for the Republic of Ireland.

Let me deal briefly with new clause 3. The House will not be surprised to know that I shall ask it to resist the amending provision. We believe that the revised policy on the situation of the Gurkhas meets the concerns of Parliament on the issue. It is not open to civil servants dealing with applications to disregard the published policy; it is established case law that policy must be followed and it would be unlawful not to give effect to it. The policy we now have follows the commitments given by the Home Secretary, following the vote in the House of Commons, and I can confirm that officials are, of course, following it. The policy provides certainty that the Ghurkhas discharged before 1997 will be allowed to apply for settlement.

The proposed amending provision would also have the effect of altering the position of those Gurkhas discharged after 1 July 1997. The logic of the distinction between those who served pre-1997 and those who served after was recognised by the High Court, as it is recognised by common sense. The problem is that the new clause would make the rules for Gurkhas since 1997 inconsistent with those of Commonwealth soldiers. It was that principle that the campaign was trying to establish.

In the context of new clause 5, my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Gerrard) raised the important question of what would happen if an application for probationary citizenship failed. Given that the Bill relates to citizenship-not to settlement, which is covered by other Acts and rules-the answer is that citizenship would not be granted. Status is covered elsewhere, under settlement rules.

As my hon. Friend said, there would be several options for those affected. If a person with permanent residence applies for British citizenship and the application fails, that will not affect that person's permanent residence status. That is probably the category about which he is most concerned. If a person with probationary citizenship
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applies for citizenship, it will be open to that person to apply for permanent residence once he or she has accumulated the right amount of qualifying leave, as set out in clause 41. It will also be open to the Secretary of State to grant further probationary citizenship. What will happen to the individual concerned will depend on his or her settlement rights-backed up by the European convention-rather than citizenship rights.

Hon. Members on both sides of the House have raised the important issue of transitional arrangements. I told the Committee that I would return to the issue. The original clause 39 was found not to be acceptable. I trust that Government amendment 17, tabled in the name of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, alongside assurances that I intend to give the House will address the concerns raised by hon. Members about transitional arrangements. I am also announcing today that, as part of our package of transitional measures, we have decided that to give those who are currently in the UK on a route to settlement time to adjust to the new system, we will allow the earned citizenship provisions to commence in July 2011.

Robert Key (Salisbury) (Con): I thank the Minister on behalf of members of the Malayalee league community in Salisbury, who make a very valuable contribution to the economy of the country.

Mr. Woolas: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that comment.

I believe that I said on Second reading-I certainly said it in Committee-that I support the idea of transitional arrangements. The court ruled on the highly skilled migrants programme. Of course we accepted that, and I personally accept that in such cases there is a reasonable expectation for application for status. That is not the case in the other categories, as we established in Committee. The precedent set in court established that there is no reasonable expectation in law. However, we understand the point that has been made.

New clause 7 attempts to reinstate much of the old clause 39. It would provide for a one-year period after commencement in which migrants may apply for indefinite leave to remain or for citizenship under the current rules. I explained in Committee why part 2 is not an appropriate context in which to deal with applications for indefinite leave to remain. I hope that hon. Members will understand why clause 39 was removed in the first place, and why it is preferable to amend clause 59. I believe that I can provide the assurances that have been sought.

Mr. Gerrard: Can my hon. Friend respond to the question that I asked about what could be in the commencement order?

Mr. Woolas: Yes, I can. Let me explain. This is a very important matter for many of our constituents.

Amendment 23 seeks to deal with those who arrived here on the highly skilled migrants programme. I explained in Committee that the Government would of course honour obligations under the judgments to allow HSMP migrants covered by the judgments of the court to apply for indefinite leave to remain. We do not accept that HSMP migrants have a legitimate expectation to be able to apply for citizenship as amendment 23 suggests,
14 July 2009 : Column 233
but I hope that after I have explained our proposed package of transitional arrangements, the hon. Member for Ashford (Damian Green) will accept that they are fair and will not press the amendment to a vote.

I am happy to accept that some provision in the Bill is desirable to provide sufficient clarity and assurance in relation to any transitional provisions. That is the point on which the hon. Gentleman pushed me. Other matters are set out better and in more detail in the commencement order giving effect to part 2.

Government amendment 17 requires the commencement order giving effect to the earned citizenship provisions in the Bill to set out transitional arrangements for certain groups. We have made clear in legislation that people who apply for citizenship before the earned citizenship provisions are commenced will be treated under the current system-that is, they will not be subject to the earned citizenship provisions. We have also made it clear that people who already have indefinite leave to remain when the earned citizenship provisions commence, and people who apply for ILR before the provisions commence and whose application is successful, will be eligible to apply for citizenship under the current system, provided that they apply within two years of commencement. That deals with the point made by the hon. Gentleman in Committee.

For the avoidance of doubt, let me reassure the House that although Government amendment 17 does not specifically make provision for migrants with a pending application for ILR submitted but not decided before the rules are changed following commencement, those people will have their ILR applications considered under the existing rules. The law requires that. As I have said, the Bill is not the appropriate place to set out transitional arrangements for applications for ILR, and I am making this statement on the record in order to provide clarity.

I believe that, taken together, the Government amendment and the statement I have just made about how we will treat applications for ILR meet the intention behind new clause 7(b). On that basis, I hope that I have satisfied the House that the transitional arrangements are fair.

Finally, there is the issue of continuous employment. I gave assurances to the Committee that sensible arrangements could be made. I said that if people lost their jobs through no fault of their own, they would be given reasonable opportunities-commensurate with employment law, as agreed in the Employment Acts-that would provide the flexibility that they sought.

I hope that I have answered hon. Members' questions and that I have made the proposed amendments that I undertook to make in Committee. My hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow asked me to confirm the situation regarding the commencement order. The amendment prevents us from doing anything more restrictive in the commencement order regarding those individuals whom it covers. It does not prevent us from extending the protection by making further transitionals for other groups. I hope that that satisfies him.

Andrew Mackinlay: With the leave of the House, Madam Deputy Speaker, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the clause, because I am looking forward to hearing about the common travel area.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

14 July 2009 : Column 234

Chris Huhne: With the leave of the House, Madam Deputy Speaker, given the Minister's assurances, we withdraw new clause 7.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): That has not been moved, but I understand what the hon. Gentleman is saying.

New Clause 3

Amendment of the immigration rules relating to Gurkhas

'(1) The Immigration Rules, as laid before Parliament under section 3(2) of the Immigration Act 1971 (c. 77), are amended as follows.

(2) In Rule 276F (requirements for indefinite leave to enter the United Kingdom as a Gurkha discharged from the British Army) omit paragraphs (ii) and (iii).

(3) In Rule 276I (requirements for indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom as a Gurkha discharged from the British Army) omit paragraphs (ii) and (iii).

(4) Gurkhas discharged from the British Army prior to 1997 shall have parity with Commonwealth servicemen in terms of the requirements for indefinite leave to enter and remain in the United Kingdom.'.- (Chris Huhne.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

The House divided: Ayes 189, Noes 270.
Division No. 200]
[8.30 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, Danny
Amess, Mr. David
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Baker, Norman
Barker, Gregory
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burt, Lorely
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, Mr. Dai
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh David
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dorries, Nadine
Drew, Mr. David
Duddridge, James
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Gale, Mr. Roger
George, Andrew
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, Mr. John
Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendry, Charles
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip

Holloway, Mr. Adam
Holmes, Paul
Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, David
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Howell, John
Huhne, Chris
Hunter, Mark
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Key, Robert
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kramer, Susan
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Leech, Mr. John
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Mason, John
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McCrea, Dr. William
McDonnell, Dr. Alasdair
McDonnell, John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Moore, Mr. Michael
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mulholland, Greg
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Price, Adam
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, Mrs. Iris
Robinson, rh Mr. Peter
Rogerson, Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Rowen, Paul
Ruffley, Mr. David
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Alan
Smith, Sir Robert
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Vaz, rh Keith
Viggers, Sir Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Wilson, Sammy
Winterton, Ann
Wishart, Pete
Wright, Jeremy
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Ayes:

Tom Brake and
Mr. Roger Williams

Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Janet
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger

Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, rh Hazel
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, rh Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byrne, rh Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Crausby, Mr. David
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goggins, rh Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, rh John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, rh Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Khan, rh Mr. Sadiq
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, rh Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, rh Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon

Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGrady, Mr. Eddie
McGuire, rh Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, rh Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Lindsay
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, rh Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, rh Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Frank Roy and
Mary Creagh
Question accordingly negatived.
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