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Baroness Rawlings: I thank the Minister for that answer. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Redesdale moved Amendment No. 8A:

The noble Lord said: The amendment raises the spectre of the "may" and "shall" argument, an issue that has been raised many times. However, this is a probing amendment; I do not expect the Minister to accept it. I am bringing it forward with a specific intention in mind.

I tabled a number of amendments which, using sneakiness and guile, I managed to get the Public Bills Office to accept before it spotted their inadequacies, when they were immediately thrown out or withdrawn. The purpose of those amendments was to institute British citizenship for British overseas citizens, a group of people which has been specifically and carefully excluded from the short Title of the Bill. As this has been an opportunity lost, I plan to bring forward a Private Member's Bill at a later stage in an attempt to rectify the situation. However, that is a matter outside the terms of the amendment and I obviously understand that the Minister will not respond to it. I beg to move.

1.45 p.m.

Lord Rooker: As the amendment has been moved, I shall respond to it. I understand why it is in the

24 Jul 2001 : Column 1878

Marshalled List. Obviously I shall not comment on the plans of the noble Lord in respect of his proposals for future legislation.

Amendment No. 8A would limit the discretion of the Home Secretary to refuse to register people seeking registration as British citizens subsequent to the commencement of the legislation. As I have said before, some people will inevitably attempt to acquire British Overseas Territories citizenship status after commencement as a stepping stone to British citizenship, and with it the right of abode in the United Kingdom. We need to ensure that those who qualify do so within the provisions of the Act.

As I said before, immigration policy is not in the control of the British Government. This is a devolved responsibility to locally elected governments, who have different considerations in mind when establishing and operating such practices. Limitation of the Home Secretary's discretion could potentially open the way for backdoor entry to British citizenship. In the light of that explanation, I hope and trust that the noble Lord will withdraw his amendment.

Lord Redesdale: I thank the Minister for responding in the spirit in which the amendment was moved. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 9 and 10 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Baroness Rawlings moved Amendment No. 11:

    After Clause 5, insert the following new clause--

The Secretary of State shall by order require that in each British overseas territory the cost of claiming British citizenship, either by nationality registration, naturalisation or the cost of issuing passports, shall not be so prohibitive as to prevent British overseas territory citizens from exercising their right to British citizenship conferred by this Act."

The noble Baroness said: The amendment relates specifically to average income per head, which varies significantly throughout the overseas territories. It would be highly undesirable for a British Overseas Territories citizen to be denied the opportunity to claim British citizenship due to the prohibitively high cost of doing so.

The noble Baroness, Lady Amos, informed the House that:

    "The change in citizenship status will occur automatically for most people and there will be no costs to cover. However, some cases may attract a fee... I confirm to noble Lords that passport fees will be charged on the basis of the fees set by the Passport Agency world-wide. Therefore, the price will not vary".--[Official Report, 10/7/01; col. 1035.]

Any British overseas territory citizen who wishes to benefit fully from the conferral of British citizenship by this Bill will, I assume, wish to acquire an appropriate passport. By "citizens who wish to benefit fully", I mean those citizens who wish to enjoy the right to freedom of movement throughout the

24 Jul 2001 : Column 1879

European Union and so on. Yet the cost of doing so will mean different things to different people in different territories. Let us take, for example, two territories at the extremes of prosperity. The GDP figure in 1999 for the British Virgin Islands was £17,226; in St Helena it was £2,536.

Many existing British Overseas Territories citizens feel a sense of injustice that they cannot travel freely through the European Union; others will welcome the opportunity to visit Britain and Europe to gain valuable skills that they cannot acquire at home. In the White Paper, Partnership for Progress and Prosperity, we are told that the Government anticipate that some people may like to come to Britain for training and work experience, and will be welcome. My noble friend Lord Waddington raised the issue of work experience as a means of achieving more of a level playing field in the employment market.

It is clear that we must ensure that every British Overseas Territories citizen who wants both the identity of a British citizen and the more tangible advantages of this identity can acquire the necessary documents and registration. I should appreciate some assurance that this will be the case. I understand that they will not need a work permit in the UK or in the European Union, but that they will have to abide by all the European Union rules. I beg to move.

Lord Redesdale: I merely want to ask about the situation of those citizens of Montserrat who are living in this country. They are presently suffering financial hardship and the DfID is providing aid to Montserrat. Who will provide the cost of their travel documents?

Baroness Amos: The amendment would have the effect of limiting the flexibility of both the territories and the British Government to set charges that reflect the true costs of registration and the issuing of passports.

British Dependent Territories citizens who become British Overseas Territories citizens will automatically become British citizens with a right of abode in the United Kingdom on the commencement of the provision in Clause 3. Most residents of the territories will not incur additional costs unless they apply for a British passport. The cost of a British passport is the same world-wide when issued from a British embassy or high commission. The fee is governed by the consular fees regulations. Overseas territories citizens will in no way be disadvantaged over other British citizens who acquire their passports overseas.

Perhaps I may remind the noble Baroness that passport fees are the same in the UK for whichever British citizen applies for a passport here. There is no differential that is dependent on where a person lives or on his or her income. We do not distinguish between different groups of applicants according to ability to pay.

The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, asked specifically about Montserrat. It is cheaper to obtain a British passport in the UK than it is to obtain one in a British embassy or consulate. As I understand it, citizens of

24 Jul 2001 : Column 1880

Montserrat are not adversely affected by the legislation. I hope that in the light of that explanation the noble Baroness will withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Rawlings: I thank the Minister for her reply, but we are disappointed. I hoped that the Minister might be able to agree to the amendment and that the humanitarian side of the Government might play a part. The situation is now very different from that of a British citizen residing in the UK who applies for a passport, given the new provisions regarding British Overseas Territories. The amendment is important: the disparities that I have mentioned are grossly unfair and we should like the Bill to be amended. I therefore wish to seek the opinion of the Committee.

1.53 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 11) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 69; Not-Contents, 124.

Division No. 1


Aberdare, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Best, L.
Bhatia, L.
Blatch, B.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Brookeborough, V.
Burnham, L. [Teller]
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Craig of Radley, L.
Dundee, E.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Ferrers, E.
Flather, B.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Geddes, L.
Glenarthur, L.
Glentoran, L.
Greenway, L.
Hanham, B.
Henley, L. [Teller]
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Hogg, B.
Hurd of Westwell, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kingsland, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
Mancroft, L.
Marlesford, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Montagu of Beaulieu, L.
Montrose, D.
Noakes, B.
Norton of Louth, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Peel, E.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Rawlings, B.
Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
Rogan, L.
Seccombe, B.
Selsdon, L.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Trumpington, B.
Vivian, L.
Waddington, L.
Wakeham, L.
Wilcox, B.
Willoughby de Broke, L.
Windlesham, L.
Young, B.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Amos, B.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, L.
Avebury, L.
Barker, B.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Boothroyd, B.
Borrie, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bragg, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Castle of Blackburn, B.
Christopher, L.
Clark Of Windermere, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Craigavon, V.
David, B.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L. [Teller]
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gilbert, L.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Greaves, L.
Gregson, L.
Grenfell, L.
Grocott, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Haskel, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Holme of Cheltenham, L.
Howarth of Breckland, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jeger, B.
Jones, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lockwood, B.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Methuen, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Morgan, L.
Morgan of Huyton, B.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Moser, L.
Parekh, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rooker, L.
Russell, E.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sandberg, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Serota, B.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Simon, V.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Walmsley, B.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Whitaker, B.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L. (Lord Privy Seal)
Wilson of Tillyorn, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

24 Jul 2001 : Column 1881

2.4 p.m.

Baroness Young moved Amendment No. 11A:

    After Clause 5, insert the following new clause--

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