I am grateful for the considered debate today and the interest that Opposition Members have shown in this remedial order.
As I said earlier, the scope of the remedial order is to make changes to nationality legislation and it is therefore narrow. It is limited to addressing the specific incompatibilities that have been identified by the courts. The Government will monitor any remaining potentially unlawful discriminatory aspects of nationality legislation, a point picked up on by Afzal Khan, and will consult as appropriate if it becomes apparent that further changes are necessary.
The Government are committed to ensuring that those individuals affected by the order do not face further discrimination. In its first report on the remedial order, the Joint Committee on Human Rights recommended that those who had citizenship applications previously refused, because of the discriminatory provisions in the British Nationality Act 1981, which this order seeks to remedy, should not have to pay the application fee for a repeat application. I am pleased to say that I have written to Ms Harman, the Chair of the Committee, confirming that I plan to amend the fees regulation at the next opportunity to waive the application fee for this particular cohort.
Turning to the points raised by Stuart C. McDonald, he commented on children having to meet the good character test. This is a requirement for British citizenship as set out in the 1981 Act. It applies to those seeking to register as British who are aged 10 years and over at the time of application. That is because 10 is the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales. Children as young as 10 can and do commit very serious acts of criminality, sad though that is and undoubtedly tragic for their victims. It cannot be right that such offences are disregarded when assessing a child’s suitability for citizenship.