New investigative committees in the 2017–18 Session Contents
An ad hoc select committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement
11.This is another issue which has received considerable interest within the House in recent years, amongst Members of all political parties and none. Whilst not an overtly party political issue, it is a matter of topical debate. With recent commentary on social division, particularly since the EU referendum in 2016 and with continuing terrorist attacks in Europe, there is a growing interest in the ways in which society as a whole can be unified and how citizens can be encouraged to integrate and work together. The topic clearly cuts across several departmental boundaries, and could not easily be covered as a whole by any of the Commons departmental committees, or any of the existing Lords committees. Three Members submitted proposals for ad hoc committees in this area. Whilst it is often not possible to combine proposals without ending up with an unwieldy inquiry which would be so diffuse as to be of limited value, in this instance aspects of their proposals could be combined relatively easily.
12. Some of the issues that an ad hoc committee might consider include:
- What does British citizenship mean? Does the definition need clarifying?
- What ‘rights’ are attached to citizenship? Do these need codifying? Should they be promoted more to the public?
- What ‘responsibilities’ are attached to citizenship? Should volunteering, or some sort of ‘national service’, be made compulsory or placed on a more formal footing?
- How is civic engagement manifested in different parts of society and how does public policy help or hinder this?
- What are the barriers to citizenship which affect particular parts of society, such as young people, people from a lower socio-economic background and marginalised communities?
- How do the rights and responsibilities of citizenship compare between:
- UK citizens born and living in the UK,
- UK citizens born in the UK but living abroad,
- UK citizens who were born abroad but have obtained citizenship through naturalisation, and
- How well does the UK educate people about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, particularly in schools, universities, citizenship classes and amongst the wider public?
- Are there differences in the levels of civic engagement between those born in the UK and those who obtain citizenship through naturalisation? If so, what lessons can be learned about how to engage all citizens?
13.We recommend the establishment of an ad hoc committee to consider citizenship and civic engagement, to report by the end of March 2018.