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House of Lords 2nd Reading Nationality & Borders Bill - Recognition of Hard Work of BOTC Campaign

Today, Wednesday 5 January 2022, the 2nd reading took place in the House of Lords for the Nationality and Borders Bill.

We are grateful to Baroness Ruth Lister for acknowledging the hard work done by our campaign (Trent & Dave) to correct the historic injustice that denies British Overseas Territories and British citizenship by descent to black children of British overseas territories fathers and mothers born under specific circumstances. See the summary of the issues below.

Baroness Lister along with the late Lord Eric Avebury are key people who constantly remind the government that the law needed further amendment to correct these hurtful historical anomalies. Also, importantly, Baroness Lister raised her intention to again try to amend the bill to correct another historical injustice; the denial of citizenship by descent for the children, grandchildren & great-grandchildren of Chagossian parents & grandparents who were forcibly evicted from their homeland, the Chagos Islands by a Labor government in the 1970s.

Here is the video of Baroness Lister speaking on this today:

1. Children born before 1 January 1983 to BOTC mothers:

Before 1 January 1983 women could not pass on British nationality to a child born outside the UK and Colonies. Provisions to allow for children born before 1983 to British citizen mothers to be registered as British citizens were introduced in the Nationality, Immigration, and Asylum Act 2002, but were not extended to BOTC mothers. This was because the registration provision was introduced to extend a concession announced in 1979 for the registration of children of UK-born mothers. The aim in 2002 was to cover those who could have been registered as children on the basis of that concession but had not applied in time. The criteria introduced - that the person would (if women could have passed on citizenship at that time) have become a citizen of the UK and Colonies and acquired a right of abode in the UK - aimed to cover those who had a maternal connection with the UK.

The registration criteria were extended in legislation in 2009, but as this was introduced as an unexpected Lord’s amendment there was no time to consult with BOT governments about the implications of doing something for BOTCs, which could have an impact on territory migration.

2. Children born before 1 July 2006 to BOTC fathers

Similarly, children born to British unmarried fathers could not acquire British nationality through their father before 1 July 2006. Registration provisions were introduced for people born to unmarried British citizen fathers before 1 July 2006 to be registered as citizens by section 65 of the Immigration Act 2014. These provide for a person to register as a British citizen if they would have acquired that status automatically under the British Nationality Act 1981, had their father been married to their mother.

Section 65 was introduced at a very late stage in the Bill debates: it was recognised that each overseas territory has its own immigration law, and to create a route for people to become British overseas territories citizens (which could give a right of abode in a territory) would require wider consultation with governors and territory governments, which was not possible prior to the introduction of that Act. Corresponding provisions were not therefore included for British overseas territories citizenship.

3. British Overseas Territories Act 2002:

The British Overseas Territories Act 2002 provided that anyone who was a BOTC on 21 May 2002 automatically became a British citizen. Equally, it allowed for British citizenship to be acquired through birth in an overseas territory or to a relevant parent from an overseas territory. This means that people in the above groups have missed out on both BOTC and British citizenship. The British Nationality Act 1981, therefore, needs to be amended to allow them to acquire the statuses they would have had if the law had not been discriminatory.

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