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"( ) Within twelve months of the commencement of this Act, and annually thereafter, the Secretary of State shall lay a report before both Houses of Parliament setting out--

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(a) the number of British overseas territories citizens taking up British citizenship,
(b) the number of disputed claims,
(c) the number of British overseas territories citizens taking up right of abode in the United Kingdom,
(d) the cost per applicant of nationality registration,
(e) the number of new applicants seeking British overseas territories citizenship per territory, and
(f) any other such information in relation to this Act as he shall think fit."

The noble Baroness said: I am sure that the House would welcome a report on the number of new British citizens from the overseas territories. As it is, as yet, impossible to know exactly how many people will benefit from the provisions of the legislation, it seems appropriate that we should find out how many people have been able to acquire British citizenship within a year of commencement.

Similarly, it seems appropriate that the House is made aware of any cases in which an individual's claim to British citizenship is in dispute. That would enable the House to see how effectively the framework for nationality registration and passport issuing is operating, and whether there are a significant number of claims which appear sufficiently tenuous to warrant a dispute.

One of the most desirable aims of this Bill is to enable British citizens in overseas territories to come to the UK, we thought, for education, training and work experience. Those who expressed a particular interest in further education, which we discussed on an earlier amendment, will, I am sure, welcome any information regarding the number of British citizens who have been able to pursue higher education courses in the United Kingdom. Additionally, it is important that we know the extent to which emigration is seen as a viable option within the overseas territories.

To follow on from what I have already said about the cost of claiming British citizenship, I should be interested to know what is the cost of acquiring a new passport once the system is up and running. It would be helpful to know also whether the individual territories believe that the cost of acquiring British citizenship is in any way prohibitive.

In answer to the question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, informed the Committee that the purpose of requiring an individual to claim British overseas territory citizenship, before being permitted to claim British citizenship, is to ensure that a filter operates to prevent illegal immigrants using the new legislation as a stepping stone to the United Kingdom. Registration or naturalisation as a British overseas territory citizen will act as such a filter. Whether that will prove an effective means of preventing those without a legitimate claim to British citizenship from acquiring it remains to be seen. Are the BOTs allowed to give citizenship to whomever they want? What are the rules? Once you are a BOT citizen, can you automatically become a British citizen?

The Bill has commanded widespread support on all sides of the Chamber. I understand that it marks a significant step in the evolution of the new relationship

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based on partnership between Britain and overseas territories. Therefore, I should be interested to hear how the provisions of this legislation have enabled further progress to be made in the areas of human rights, financial regulation and environmental conservation as described in the White Paper of March 1999, and in areas as the Government see fit. Furthermore, what is the right of appeal for someone who has been rejected? I beg to move.

Baroness Amos: Amendment No. 13 would commit us to producing and publishing annual progress reports. We shall, of course, want to monitor implementation of the Bill when it becomes an Act.

Some of the statistics requested in the amendment--namely, the number of people applying for British passports and for British overseas territory citizenship status after commencement--are relatively straightforward to provide. However, others, such as recording the number of disputed claims, will be less easy as we shall first need to decide whether such claims refer to nationality registration or passport applications, and to agree on the definition of what constitutes a disputed claim.

It will not be possible to provide figures for the number of people who exercise the right of abode in the United Kingdom. The new British citizens created by the Bill, who arrive here with full British passports, will not be subject to immigration control. They will enter the country as British citizens. Therefore, no data will be collected in relation to that.

The date of commencement of the citizenship provisions of the Bill will be set by statutory instrument once satisfactory arrangements are in place for processing passport and nationality applications. We shall ensure that those include arrangements for recording numbers where it is possible to do so and that those figures are made available to noble Lords.

It is not appropriate that this should be on the face of the Bill and I hope that, against the background of my explanation, the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness Rawlings: I thank the Minister for her reply. We may well return to this matter at a later stage because it is quite important. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 7 shall stand part of the Bill?

Baroness Young: Perhaps I may raise with the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, a question which I raised on Second Reading. She was good enough to write to me on most of the issues which were raised but the point to which I refer is important. What consultation has there been with the other independent countries of the Caribbean, in particular about the provisions of this Bill, because both the other countries of the Caribbean and the overseas territories are linked closely together in that part of the world?

Baroness Amos: As I explained in my previous answer, there has been a great deal of consultation

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with the overseas territories themselves. The independent Caribbean countries are aware that we want to put in place this legislation, especially as that was flagged in the 1999 White Paper. However, there has been no formal consultation as such with the independent Caribbean countries.

Baroness Young: Is it not a matter of concern that those living in the overseas territories who will now acquire British citizenship will be in a completely different position from those in the other countries of the Caribbean who, of course, would not automatically have British citizenship should they wish to come and work in this country?

Baroness Amos: We are talking about the difference between the independent Caribbean countries and the overseas territories. The relationship is quite different.

Clause 7 agreed to.

Schedule 1 [British citizenship and the British overseas territories]:

Baroness Rawlings moved Amendment No. 14:

    Page 4, line 19, at end insert--

"( ) After subsection (2) there is inserted--
"(2A) Citizenship conferred under subsection (2) on any infant found abandoned in a qualifying territory shall not subsequently be a ground for conferring British citizenship on that infant's parents, guardians or siblings unless they qualify in their own right.""

The noble Baroness said: We believe that it is important to take into account all eventualities. We welcome the provision for infants found abandoned within a British overseas territory. However, it is important to be clear about the conditions of a legitimate claim to British citizenship. If an abandoned infant were to be reclaimed by his natural family or taken into the care of a guardian, under this legislation there is no sufficient grounds for anyone other than the infant to claim British citizenship.

British overseas territories citizenship, under the current regulations, can be acquired only as a result of a connection with one or more territories; for example, by birth, adoption, naturalisation or descent. It should remain the case that an individual can claim British citizenship only if he qualifies in his own right. I beg to move.

Lord Rooker: We do not believe that there is a need for Amendment No. 14. The circumstances in which a child found abandoned in an overseas territory would be deemed to have acquired British citizenship are clear. If it subsequently emerged that the child was born of parents who were not themselves settled in the territory or British citizens at the time of the birth, the child would no longer be entitled to the nationality it had been deemed to acquire.

Parents, guardians and siblings will indeed have to qualify for British citizenship in their own right. That is clear from the Bill as introduced, and from the provisions of the existing nationality legislation. If the parents come forward and are shown not to qualify,

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they could, of course, put at risk the child's own claim. In the light of that explanation I hope that the noble Baroness will withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Rawlings: I thank the Minister for his reply and explanation. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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