Written evidence from the United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association (OTS0113)
UKOTA would like to draw to the attention of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the existence of discriminatory provisions within the British Nationality Act in respect of the British Overseas Territories. These were drawn to the attention of the Home Secretary Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP on 31st May 2018 but which to date we have not received a response.
In a letter dated 18th April 2018 the Joint Committee on Human Rights, the Rt. Hon. Harriet Harman MP, drew to the then Home Secretary, Rt. Hon. Amber Rudd MP, that the Committee was scrutinising the proposal for a draft British Nationality Act (Remedial) Order and the use of such a Remedial Order in respect of the discrimination against British Overseas Territories Citizens and asked:
“What does the Home Secretary intend to do to remedy the discrimination (discrimination as between women and men, and also discrimination based on marital status) on the face of the British Nationality Act 1981 in respect of British Overseas Territories Citizenship?”
UKOTA wrote to the Home Secretary on the 31st May 2018 drawing his attention to the above-mentioned letter, supporting the Joint Committee on Human Rights’ call for the discrimination to be remedied in any proposed Remedial Order.
To date we have not received a response. Copies of both letters are attached.
This discrimination continues to affect nationals of the British Overseas Territories and their offspring.
Eric Bush, JP
United Kingdom Overseas Territories Association
From the office of the Chairman
The Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP
Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State Home Office
2 Marsham Street London
31st May 2018
Dear Mr. Javid,
The British Nationality Act 1981 (Remedial) Order 2018
We understand that the Joint Committee on Human Rights is scrutinising the proposal for a draft British Nationality Act (Remedial} Order 2018. We believe this proposed Order provides an opportunity to start the process in remedying discrimination against children, who are now adults, born outside overseas territories between 1947 to 2006 to British Overseas Territories' fathers. These children are denied the retrospective right to claim their fathers' nationality by descent simply for the fact they were born out of wedlock.
In 2014, children (now adults) who were born to British citizen fathers' in the same circumstances i.e. out of wedlock, were given a right to retrospectively claim their father's nationality. The omission of the British Overseas Territories from a Bill (section 65 Immigration Act 2014) which amended the British Nationality Act 1981 granting this right was recognized at its third reading.
At that reading Lord Taylor, for the Government, in response to the late Lord Avery's concern, advised Parliament that "Changes to those provisions require consultation with the territories concerned and this has not been possible in the time available. However, I assure my noble friend that the Government will look for suitable opportunities to discuss this issue with the overseas territories once the provisions are implemented."
We believe the Remedial Order presents such a suitable opportunity. Therefore, we urge the Government to give proper consideration to this matter and remedy this unequal footing under nationality law by providing the same right retrospectively to the children of British Overseas Territories' fathers, as is granted to British citizen fathers'.
Eric L Bush JP