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Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, does the statement which the Minister made on international agreement apply also to agreement with our NATO allies, particularly the United States and our European Union partners? The United States has employed private contractors to train the Croatian army and others, leaving some delicate issues for consultation.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): My Lords, a person born in the United Kingdom will become a British citizen automatically and be eligible for a British passport if, at the time of the birth, either parent (or the mother in the case of an illegitimate child) is a British citizen or settled in the United Kingdom. A child who does not become British at birth may qualify for citizenship later; for instance, if a parent acquires citizenship.
Baroness Rendell of Babergh: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that Answer. If under the 1981 Act only the nationality of the father is relevant when the parents are married, what is the case when the parents of a child born in the United Kingdom are living together but not married, and the father is of British nationality but the mother is not? In any case, what part, if any, does the nationality of the grandparents play in all this?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am not aware that the nationality of the grandparents plays a significant part. The determining factor is the citizenship of the parents and the need for a close and enduring connection with the United Kingdom through the parents.
Lord Roberts of Conwy: My Lords, can the Minister inform the House what criteria must be met by applicants who are not born in this country? For example, must they be of high repute in their country of origin?
Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, is the Minister aware that my grandchildren Virginia and Christopher were born in America of English parents and, therefore, hold US passports? In order to qualify for British passports must they surrender their American passports? Had they been born in an EU country, would they have had Italian, German or French passports?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that simple question, of which I should have liked advance notice. I shall reflect carefully on the matter and give the noble Baroness a fuller reply in writing.
Lord Dholakia: My Lords, can the Minister tell the House whether a child born in this country to an asylum seeker who has been given exceptional leave to remain is entitled to a British passport, bearing in mind that the asylum seeker may no longer possess the nationality of his country of origin? Without wishing to become embroiled in the present controversy, can the Minister say how long it takes to issue a British passport following an individual's application for naturalisation?
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, is the Minister aware that many noble Lords appreciate the difficulties to which this Question gives rise and will receive letters afterwards? I have received a letter from a medical student who has been granted asylum and has almost completed the process of naturalisation, having paid the fee and applied for a passport in November. That individual must spend two months abroad for the purposes of medical studies but it appears that the passport will not arrive in time to enable that to happen. Can any other documentation be used to travel abroad in such a case?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the noble Baroness rather suggests that this is not a matter with which I can deal easily at the Dispatch Box. I prefer to deal with the inquiry in writing and forward it to the appropriate part of the Home Office.
Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, I should like to press the Minister further on his response to the noble Baroness, Lady Rendell. Is a child born here of a British father and a foreign mother automatically entitled to British citizenship in right of the father, even if the parents are unmarried?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I should like to take a closer look at the details. I do not want to place on record information which may turn out to be false or misleading. I much prefer to discover the exact position in the circumstances. I shall place a copy of the correspondence with my noble friend in the Library and, according to the usual courtesies, provide a copy to the noble Lord.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, is the Minister aware that these questions illustrate the difficulty that many noble Lords experience in trying to give advice to correspondents on these subjects? To put a simple question, does the Minister recall that when the law was changed so as to provide that a child born in the United Kingdom acquired British citizenship only if one or both parents were British citizens, or, in the case of an illegitimate child, the mother, it was predicted that a number of cases of statelessness would arise? Can the noble Lord tell the House how many children born in the United Kingdom since that change in the law have become stateless and what their ultimate fate will be?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the point that the noble Lord raises was made powerfully in the early 1980s when the 1981 Act came into force. It was thought by some critics that the legislation would lead
How they intend to promote land reform in the transition economies of central and eastern Europe, in the context of their White Paper Eliminating World Poverty: Making Globalisation Work for the Poor.
Baroness Amos: My Lords, we are supporting land reform in several transition countries in collaboration with the World Bank and other donors. The purpose of this work is to help poor rural people to secure the land rights which underpin their livelihoods. We shall continue this work and support access of poor people to global markets through promoting efficient and sustainable land use.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that positive reply. I declare an unpaid interest as a patron of the Terre Initiative which is a non-profit-making organisation that seeks to encourage land reform and property ownership in the transition economies of eastern and central Europe. Is my noble friend aware that paragraphs 90 to 96 of the White Paper Eliminating World Poverty: Making Globalisation Work for the Poor contain what many believe is the first public acceptance by the Government that the acquisition of land rights is part of the battle against world poverty? Does my noble friend accept that, unless the European Union stops regarding land reform purely as a country-specific issue and provides some funding for applicant countries with transition economies on a broad cross-sector basis, the task of extending property rights in those countries will be made immeasurably harder?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, sustainable rural development has been a key part of the programme of the Department for International Development for a number of years. We believe that ultimately responsibility for land tenure and administration lies with national states. However, we support efforts within states to improve access to, and security of, land rights. The European Union deals with applicant country accession on an individual basis.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, this is a Question about the new democracies of eastern and central Europe. The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, is absolutely right to emphasise the immense importance of land registration and restitution to enable those countries to get back on the tracks. Does the noble Baroness agree that expenditure under the PHARE programme is running
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