Amendment 63

Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill - Committee (4th Day) – in the House of Lords at 3:00 pm on 16th September 2020.

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Lord Rosser:

Moved by Lord Rosser

63: After Clause 4, insert the following new Clause— “Duty to raise awareness of citizenship rights(1) The Secretary of State must take steps to raise awareness of rights under the British Nationality Act 1981 to register as a British citizen to persons to whom subsection (2) applies.(2) This section applies to any person who has lost rights under section 1 and Schedule 1.(3) Within six months of the day on which this Act is passed, the Secretary of State must publish a report detailing the steps taken to raise awareness of rights under subsection (1), and lay it before Parliament.”

Photo of Lord Rosser Lord Rosser Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Transport)

Amendment 63 would lay a duty on the Secretary of State to raise awareness of people’s rights to register as a British citizen under the British Nationality Act 1981, with the people concerned being those who lose rights under Clause 1 and Schedule 1 of the Bill. The amendment would also require the Secretary of State to publish and lay before Parliament a report within six months of this Bill becoming an Act, detailing the action taken to raise awareness of rights to register as a British citizen.

As I understand it, before the 1981 Act anyone born in the UK was born British. The 1981 Act ended that and laid down who is and who is not a British citizen, and who is entitled to citizenship. Someone born in the UK now is only a British citizen if one of their parents is a British citizen or settled in the UK. Apart from the Home Secretary having a general power to register any child as a British citizen, all registration under the British Nationality Act 1981 is by entitlement. A child or an adult who satisfies the criteria for registration is entitled to British citizenship. The 1981 Act does not give the Home Secretary the decision of whether someone is entitled to British citizenship. This is different from naturalisation as a British citizen, which is only at the discretion of the Home Secretary, and only adults can be naturalised.

The EU settlement scheme, which provides for pre-settled and settled status, raises an issue. Some of those about to lose EU free movement rights in the UK will have rights to register as British citizens that they have not yet exercised, and they would quite probably wish to do so as people of EEA or Swiss nationality or parentage in the UK if the alternative was settled status. Citizenship means much more than settled status, and there being no available evidence of citizenship can have significant adverse consequences if changes are subsequently made to immigration policies, as the Windrush generation have found out.

In the shadow of the Windrush scandal, the Government should not be casual in their attitude to people’s right of access to citizenship. They should be working proactively to ensure that those, including children, who have the right to register as British citizens, with the same rights as all of us, are aware of that right and can access it. With the end of free movement and the focus on the EU settlement scheme, there is a risk of those who have the right to access British citizenship and register as British citizens ending up with at best an immigration status. This amendment seeks to minimise the risk of this happening.

In their response, can the Government update the Committee on what work is being done by the Home Secretary and the Home Office to proactively raise awareness and encourage and assist those who have the right to be British citizens to enjoy those rights? If the answer is that no such work is being undertaken on this citizenship issue, can the Government explain why not? I beg to move.

Photo of Baroness Lister of Burtersett Baroness Lister of Burtersett Labour

My Lords, I shall speak to Amendment 67 in my name and those of other noble Lords who will be speaking. I am grateful for their support. I express support for Amendment 63, moved so well by my noble friend Lord Rosser. Once again, I am grateful to the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens, of which I am a patron, and to Amnesty International UK for its briefing.

Amendment 67 would place a duty on the Secretary of State to encourage, promote and facilitate awareness and the exercising of rights to British citizenship among EEA and Swiss nationals. It would also introduce a positive duty to confirm information known to the Home Office that is relevant to establishing a person’s right to citizenship. I am told that at present such information is all too often not forthcoming—a particular problem for many looked-after children—but there appears to be a greater readiness to check and act on such information when it confirms that there is no entitlement to citizenship.

The intention of the amendment is to shift the Home Office’s mindset, in the spirit of Wendy Williams’s Windrush report. That mindset resulted in the active discouragement of members of the Windrush generation from exercising their rights to British citizenship. As we have heard, there are real fears that the lessons of that review are not being learned when it comes to children of EEA and Swiss citizens who were born in the UK or who have grown up here from an early age. Research by the European Children’s Rights Unit, funded by the Home Office, indicates that Roma children, who are an especially vulnerable group, may be particularly at risk.

More generally, PRCBC gives the example of Matteo, who was born in the UK to Italian parents. He has lived here all his life apart from occasional visits to Italy and a gap year in continental Europe. When he became an adult, he discovered to his great distress that he was not regarded as a British citizen when he was refused inclusion on the electoral register for the general election and was twice refused a British passport. Before contacting PRCBC, he had been given poor legal advice that he should apply for settled status under the EU settlement scheme and be naturalised as a British citizen at a future date. Having established what his situation was, PRCBC was able to help him register his entitlement to British citizenship under the 1981 Act. No one had previously advised him of this right, and he had suffered serious mental distress as a result. A young man in this situation should not have to rely on the chance of finding his way into an organisation like that. How many are not finding their way to such organisations?

Can the Minister explain what exactly the Home Office is doing to proactively encourage the exercise of the right to register citizenship, both directly and through local authorities, to ensure that children and young people such as Matteo are not missing out on their chance of registering as citizens? What steps is it now taking to ensure that no one who is entitled to register as a British citizen is wrongly channelled through the EUSS as an immigrant without being informed of their existing right to register as a citizen? Are any specific steps being taken to ensure that Roma children have the information and support they need? Also, can she give us some idea of the number of children overall likely to be affected?

These are important questions. The right to British citizenship of an unknown number of children is at stake. I and others emphasised the importance of citizenship in moving an earlier amendment, and there was a lot of support in the Committee for citizenship’s importance. The answer to these questions will give us some idea of the importance the Home Office attaches to it, and how far it is genuinely willing to shift its mindset in the wake of the Windrush scandal and the Lessons Learned report on it. In that report, Wendy Williams wrote of the need for “deep cultural reform”. The response to these amendments will serve as an indicator of whether the Home Office is genuinely committed to such reform.

Photo of The Earl of Dundee The Earl of Dundee Conservative

My Lords, I support the amendments of the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, on protecting rights to British citizenship. We have already debated her first one, Amendment 68. This urges that applicants should not be disadvantaged just because registration costs might become too much for them to afford. We are now considering her Amendment 67, which advises that our system should set out to be proactive, helpful and encouraging towards applicants. Correspondingly, Amendment 63, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, correctly argues that in the first place, steps should be taken to raise awareness of available British citizenship rights under the British Nationality Act 1981. I hope the Minister is able to endorse these recommendations.

Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

My Lords, Amendment 67, to which I am a signatory, returns to the issue of citizenship. It is a pleasure to follow both the noble Earl, Lord Dundee, and the noble Baroness, Lady Lister. I was particularly pleased that she referenced the position of the Roma, an issue I raised earlier this week in our previous debates. I hope the Minister will be able to answer the question put to her by the noble Baroness. I also strongly support what the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, said in the context of Amendment 63, but let me add in parenthesis that I think it unfortunate that citizenship is so often viewed through the lens of immigration policy.

Amendment 67 was originally coupled with Amendment 68, which focused on the issue of citizenship fees, as referred to by the noble Earl a moment ago, and which we debated last week. At the conclusion of that debate, the Minister said the Government intended to appeal the decision of the High Court in the case, Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens v the Secretary of State for the Home Department—a case in which, as she knows, I provided a witness statement.

On 10 September, following the discussion we had in Committee, I tabled a Question asking the Government what estimated legal and administrative costs the Home Office had met in that case thus far, and what they estimated such costs would be of any appeal against the judgment. The Question is due for answer on 24 September, but it would help the Committee greatly if those figures could be given today. Not only would the figures enable us to look at them alongside the cost of providing citizenship with charge to groups such as children in care; they would remind us of the lengths to which the Government are going to preserve the income generated above the administrative costs involved. We should be able to weigh one against the other, as I know the noble Baroness would. I would be grateful, therefore, if the Minister would also ask the Home Secretary to consider meeting the movers of Amendments 67 and 68 before embarking on yet another costly legal action, which seeks to perpetuate arrangements that Sajid Javid rightly identified as prohibitively expensive.

This brings me to the main question in Amendment 67: what price do we place on citizenship, or, as this amendment spells out,

“the duty of the Secretary of State to encourage, promote and facilitate awareness … of rights to British citizenship”?

If I have any quibble about the wording, it is that I would rather it went further and added the words, “responsibilities, duties and obligations” of citizenship to the word “rights”.

In thinking about this amendment, I reflected on my 20 years as director of the Foundation for Citizenship at Liverpool John Moores University, where I held a chair and am an Honorary Fellow, and on the central importance of promoting active citizenship and full participation in society. The city of Liverpool has had to wrestle with a painful history and all the tensions and challenges generated by social inequality. But it has refused to become a prisoner of its past. When it describes itself as

“the whole world in one city,” it does so with a confident proclamation of the respect it has for diversity and the enrichment which different cultures have brought to its table. But as well as a respect for difference, its citizens also overwhelmingly cherish our British values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, and they are not ashamed of the patriotic stories of sacrifice that have enabled those characteristics to flourish.

I want people to be proud of being British citizens and am alarmed by alienation, stigmatisation and ghettoisation, which can lead to people following ideologies that threaten our way of life. Parts of Britain feel completely abandoned by the metropolitan elites.

We need a rounded view of citizenship in which we have a respect for customs, laws and institutions that serve the common good and promote social solidarity. In promoting the centrality of the rule of law, we need to share our stories and histories and memorialise the lives which paid for our freedoms and liberties. We need to cultivate a reverence for the generous impulses and altruism which motivate so many who contribute so positively to our society.

The Jewish sage, Hillel, was right when he said,

“If I am not for myself, who will be? But if I am only for myself, what am I?”

Hillel’s fine balance must always be struck. So, I support amendment 67. Without a vibrant sense of citizenship, people living in our midst will not believe they fully belong. They will not share our rights, nor will they fully enter into the responsibilities which are the key to creating a good society.

When she comes to reply, I hope the Minister will be able to answer the question I have put to her about the costs of appealing the High Court decision on an easing of some of the costs involved in securing the right to become a British citizen.

Photo of Baroness Primarolo Baroness Primarolo Labour 3:15 pm, 16th September 2020

My Lords, I shall speak in support of Amendments 67 and 63. I support the comments made by my noble friends Lord Rosser and Lady Lister—she posed excellent questions—and I am pleased to follow the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Alton. Much has been said and I shall make only a few comments.

My first point concerns the crucial question of citizenship, which is of great importance to children. Significantly, it is a matter of identity, belonging and security, including, I regret to say, being free from the Home Office’s immigration powers and controls.

Many children born in the United Kingdom or with lengthy residence here have a right in law, under the British Nationality Act 1981, to register as British citizens—they are British citizens—but, as my noble friend Lord Rosser pointed out, the provisions in Clause 1 and Schedule 1 are in danger of undermining that right. These children include those born in the United Kingdom to European and Swiss citizens, stateless children born in the UK and looked-after children.

I looked at the debates on the British Nationality Bill to see what the clear intention of Parliament was. I would not recommend it as bedtime reading, but it clearly conveys the right to citizenship. It says that it is a right and that it should be given to individuals as specified, according to the intention of Parliament in debating that Bill.

Registering this right has become extremely important, particularly for children. Perhaps in the past much less emphasis was placed on the importance of registering, but, as the debates on this Bill have demonstrated, the hostile environment that has developed over the years means that thousands of children and young people are not being informed by the Government of their right to British citizenship. We know that citizenship means that a child or young adult obtains all the advantages that come with it, including the right to remain in Britain, freedom from immigration controls, and access to student loans, employment, health services and social security. Those are all rights that, tragically, we saw being denied to people in the Windrush scandal, and another generation could be at risk from the actions being taken here. Intentional or not, the outcome is the same.

Many children who were born in the United Kingdom or who have lived here from an early age do not have British citizenship or leave to remain. Currently, at worst, a child or young adult who is not registered is at risk of being removed. As many as 120,000 children, 65,000 of whom were born here, could be affected by this question of citizenship.

However, it is not just children who are not aware of their right. Similarly, parents, foster parents and corporate parents, such as social services, often do not know that these children are in fact entitled to British citizenship. That is not really surprising, given, I regret to say, that the Government do not systematically publicise the right to citizenship and encourage people to register.

As my noble friend Lord Rosser said, the Act does not give the Home Office the power to decide whether someone is entitled to citizenship. It is not a gift; it is a right in law. The role of the Home Office is simply to recognise the child’s legal right and register their citizenship. We do not need confusion around this matter. We do not need young people to be unaware of their rights. We need to ensure that the enormous danger of yet another generation being denied their right to British citizenship does not arise, and the amendment provides a way of doing that.

We cannot allow people to be denied their rights because of incompetent administration, a lack of knowledge of procedures or sometimes, I regret to say, callous responses from the Home Office. Amendments 63 and 67 seek to place a duty on the Secretary of State to raise awareness of people’s rights and ensure that they are able to achieve those rights, giving them security here as British citizens.

I know that the Minister is sympathetic to many of these arguments. I hope that when she responds she will answer the questions posed by my noble friends and that she will also explain to the Committee how, once and for all, this Government will make sure that those who are entitled can become British citizens without barriers or preventions deterring them from achieving those rights. I look forward to her response.

Photo of Lord Greaves Lord Greaves Liberal Democrat

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Primarolo, and particularly her last sentence. It should be written down and put on a banner strung from the balcony here—although, if we did that, we would probably be investigated for terrorism.

I think it was the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, who said that it is necessary to shift the mindset of the Home Office. If it was not her, she should have said it and we should all agree to it. She also thanked all the people who had put their names down to speak in support of the amendment. I always admonish people when they say that, as they should wait to hear what is said before doing so. However, in this case I completely support those who have introduced both amendments, particularly the noble Baroness, Lady Lister.

I am no expert in these areas. Every time I get involved in a citizenship or immigration case, as I do from time to time—either in the past as a councillor or, nowadays, as a Member of the House of Lords, or just as someone people know—I become ever more appalled by the hoops and obstacles that many people have to go through. Not everybody has to do that; some people sail through the system quite easily. That is not always because they are the sorts of people who can cope with systems, bureaucracies, organisations, administrations and so on. It seems random. Some people who seem to be in a similar position to others have enormous difficulty, but others less so.

One problem with the mindset in the Home Office is that, once it has said no or has raised serious obstacles, it does not like to admit that it was wrong. I have found that to be so throughout the culture of the organisation. It might apply to only a minority of people—I do not know—but once people are in difficulty, they just seem to get further and further into the morass.

The costs of achieving citizenship are ridiculous. We should encourage people, not try to rip them off. There is a high degree of bureaucracy involving the provision of documents. If something is slightly wrong with those documents, more obstacles are put forward, whereas very often common sense should dictate that they suffice. For people who want to be naturalised, there is also the utterly ludicrous testing of knowledge of British life, although it would not apply to people who are exercising a right.

One of the cases I was involved in, not so recently now, was that of a young man who lives in Colne. It got a lot of publicity so I can talk about it. His mother was not a British citizen; she was an Australian citizen and was not married to his father. This situation has since been sorted out, but he was old enough for it not to apply to him. Having got a provisional licence a few years ago, with no problem, he applied for a driving licence because he required one for his job. However, now there is all the cross-checking between the Home Office and the Department for Transport. He was issued with the licence but sometime later he got a letter, not from the Department for Transport but from the Home Office.

The first page had two or three paragraphs explaining why he was not entitled to a driving licence. This was all about the fact that he was not actually a British citizen and not entitled to live in this country. This was shocking enough, but he turned the page over and the first paragraph was headed, “What should I do now?”. It said, “You should take immediate steps to leave the country”. This is a lad who was born locally, had lived in Colne all his life, been to school, had a job and so on. He was lucky. He was clearly a Lancashire lad. He clearly had a white skin, and had parents who originally lived in the area, as had their parents. He got support from all parts of the political spectrum; from the Daily Mail to people like me and beyond. It was sorted out but that took several weeks.

What I objected to most was the abrupt and rude way in which a letter to somebody telling them they were not entitled to a driving licence suddenly went on to tell them to get out. Where he was supposed to go, nobody quite knew. That is the sort of attitude and mindset that requires to be shifted. Clearly, the whole process should be a lot easier for people who have been born in and grown up in this country, and who have a right to be British citizens.

Then there are the people who come to live here and decide that they wish to be naturalised as British citizens. Not everybody will; some would like to but do not want to lose their original citizenship, if they come from a country that does not allow joint citizenship. If they want to be British citizens, having come here and contributed to society—paid their taxes, gone to work, raised a family and all the rest of it—we should be welcoming them. We should not have procedures that consist of all these obstacles. We should have procedures that encourage and welcome.

Subsection (1) of the proposed new clause in the noble Baroness’s Amendment 67:

“It is the duty of the Secretary of State

I repeat, the duty—

“to encourage, promote and facilitate awareness and exercise of rights to British citizenship”, should therefore not have to be put in legislation. It should be obvious. Right across the political spectrum, we say to people all the time: “Integrate, take part, get registered, vote, stand for the council, join in, try and understand British ways of living, try and get on with your neighbours, get to know your neighbours, make friends”, and all the rest of it.

I live in a part of the country where, a few years ago, the issue of separate communities was talked about. It is still a problem. There is not enough integration. There are many efforts, but not enough, to get people from different communities to get to know those from other communities. They go to school together and are in the same classes. They go to work together and, after work, they go home into their own communities. We ought to be working to break this down. One way in which people who have come to live here from other countries can do this is by becoming British citizens. We should be cheering and welcoming it, not putting up the obstacles which the mindset of the Home Office does.

Photo of Lord Judd Lord Judd Labour 3:30 pm, 16th September 2020

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, for his characteristically forceful speech, particularly the striking and moving anecdote about the young man who lost his driving licence. I fear that that kind of experience is not unique and is repeated too often, in too many ways.

I put on record my strongest possible appreciation and support for these two amendments. They are vital. I also want to say how cheered I have been by the strength of argument and emotion with which my noble friend Lord Rosser introduced the debate, and by the way that my noble friend Lady Lister backed him up with her commitment. As the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, has just pointed out, the first bit of the Member’s explanatory statement for this amendment says that it

“is to probe the case for a statutory duty to encourage, promote and facilitate”.

These are key words. The statement runs on to say that it is to ensure the Secretary of State

“does not exercise certain of her powers and responsibilities in any way that may impede the exercise of those rights”.

That hardly needs to be said; at the same time, it needs to be underlined because one cannot be altogether certain on that front.

Rights are rights but there are too many indications of considerable numbers of people—young people and children, in particular—who are not really yet switched on to what their rights are and what is necessary to register them under the new arrangements. There may be a host of reasons why they are not acutely aware of what they must do, but that problem exists with a considerable number of people. I would like to feel that we had a Home Office with political leadership that supports civil servants in saying that their job is to ensure that everyone with a right is going to be able to register to continue the fulfilment of those rights. That is the kind of commitment and drive we need from Ministers and civil servants.

In the context of a Select Committee to which I belonged at the time, I was one of those who had the good fortune to attend a couple of briefings, and I also went to the Home Office to be briefed by civil servants on the arrangements that they were making under the necessary processes following the removal of European Union citizenship in Britain. I was impressed then, because there seemed to be a real commitment by the team working on this issue to tackle the situation effectively. Now, however, I have the feeling that there is not so much inertia but more a sense that our job is to provide the facilities and make them as accessible as possible. We have to be more proactive than that, but that is not going to happen on the scale and with the thoroughness that it should unless leadership comes from the top.

I thank my noble friends Lord Rosser and Lady Lister, and all the others who have spoken so effectively and convincingly on this issue. I cannot believe that the Minister, being the sort of person she is and on hearing these arguments, will not find a way in which she can convincingly respond to them.

Photo of Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Green

My Lords, I offer the Green group’s support to Amendments 63 and 67. We have already heard many powerful speeches, so I will be brief.

I want to address Amendment 67 in particular, because it has full cross-party support, in so far as that can be expressed by the procedures of your Lordships’ House. I note that Members from the three largest parties and the Cross Benches have signed it. It struck me in looking at this that perhaps I might make representations about our procedures to show the full breadth of cross-party support in our multiparty age; there might need to be the possibility of more signatures to be available on the Order Paper, but that is something for another time.

I want to focus on some of the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Lister. She spoke about the imbalance between the Home Office’s actions: its clear desire to enforce action against people who it perceives not to be British citizens and not to have the right to be here versus its extreme inaction in informing and educating people about their rights and making sure that they are not excluded from those rights. As many noble Lords have noted, there is not much use in having rights if you do not know about them; that is effectively being denied your rights. I was reflecting on that and thinking that, effectively, the Home Office is defying the will of Parliament in defying the rights that Parliament has granted to people, by failing to inform them. That is not what should be happening, but it clearly is. That is why I think it is really important to support both these amendments, which work in much the same ways, and will push to see them in the Bill.

We saw with the Windrush scandal, which one just cannot avoid referring to in this context, that the Home Office denied people their personal rights. It denied them their life in some cases—the actions taken by the Home Office were deadly.

I also note the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Alton of Liverpool, that all too often these issues are mixed up with immigration, but they are absolutely distinct. We are talking about British people being able to live in their own country and exercise the rights that they enjoy. I commend both these amendments to your Lordships’ House.

Photo of Baroness Hamwee Baroness Hamwee Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Immigration)

My Lords, I have added my name to Amendment 67 on behalf of the Liberal Democrat Benches, because we have all heard too many stories of individuals who did not realise the significance of their rights. Many speakers have stressed the term “rights”, including the noble Baronesses, Lady Primarolo and Lady Bennett, and the noble Lord, Lord Judd, and referred to people who did not know their rights until the crunch point when they encountered the difficulties of proving those rights.

Less tangible is what other noble Lords have referred to: citizenship being about bringing belonging, not just being about arriving—or, in many cases, not about arriving at all, because most people with rights to citizenship are born here. This is not about immigration but about nationality, as the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett, and the noble Lord, Lord Alton, have both stressed.

Last week, my noble friend Lady Ludford and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, both talked about the atmosphere of palpable excitement and anticipation, and then the sense of achievement, when they have officiated at citizenship ceremonies. I witnessed that, probably from the back of the same council chamber where my noble friend officiated, sitting with the husband of a friend who was becoming British—although I made her go back afterwards to arrange with the registrar to correct the certificate, since the omission of an umlaut had previously caused quite enough difficulties. The converse of belonging for the individual is that the state wants people living here to feel that they belong, to have all the rights that go with citizenship and to be able to be good citizens.

Windrush has been mentioned. Subsection (2)(c) raises the spectre of the destruction of records—the amendment seeks to quash it before it can be raised properly—which in the case of Windrush happened simply so that the building could be vacated. Duties to encourage, to promote, to facilitate awareness and to exercise the right of citizenship are all things that we support.

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department 3:45 pm, 16th September 2020

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have partaken in this debate. I do not disagree that people should have their rights communicated to them and generally should feel part of the communities in which they live, as the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, says.

At this stage, it is worth decoupling two distinct matters: one is the end of the transition period and the other is the consideration of whether someone is British or should become so. However, I do not think the latter is at issue. For the former, which is the subject of this Bill, we have made extensive arrangements to ensure that the rights enjoyed by those who have resided here under free movement can continue until the end of this year.

British citizenship, as noble Lords have said, is determined by the British Nationality Act 1981, which sets out how someone may already be British—for example, through their birth here—and, for those who are not, the means by which a person may seek to become so. This might be through naturalisation or registration, depending on the individual’s circumstances and connections. Any applications submitted will utilise information that we already hold on an individual as far as possible, although there may always be circumstances in which further information may be needed. We treat all applications to become British equally, regardless of the nationality that the applicant may currently hold. The important consideration is whether they meet the requirements set out in statute. Equally, our guidance on the application process is published and available to all.

Last year we received nearly 175,000 nationality applications, which indicates that people generally are aware of the application process, the benefits of becoming British and what it might mean to individuals when they are ready to apply. That does not mean that we cannot consider alternative approaches. Noble Lords will remember, and a noble Lord referred to the fact, that the Home Secretary announced on 21 July in a Statement that alongside the Windrush Lessons Learned Review, she proposed—along with evaluating changes to immigration and nationality laws to ensure that they are fit for purpose for today’s world—to make sure that the changes were now communicated effectively where they had not previously been so. Many of the speeches touched upon that aspect of things.

While there has not been a suggestion by noble Lords that it is a change of law per se that is of concern to them—I absolutely get where noble Lords are coming from—but perhaps more general awareness for a group who may have previously not considered becoming British, I am happy to put on record that I will ask the Home Secretary whether raising awareness of citizenship more generally could form part of that ongoing process and to consider ways how that might be achieved. I will also pass on the request from the noble Lord, Lord Alton, to meet the Home Secretary, but any change should be for all people potentially affected, not only those who would lose freedom of movement rights—I do not think he was suggesting otherwise. He also asked how much the legal cost of court appeals had been. He will not be surprised that I cannot recall that off the top of my head, but I do not disagree with the general principle that an awful lot of money on all sorts of sides is spent on court cases. I hope that with those undertakings, the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Photo of Lord Rosser Lord Rosser Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Transport)

I thank the Minister for her reply. I understand from what she said that she has undertaken to discuss the issue of further raising awareness with the Home Secretary. I also thank all noble Lords who spoke in support of the amendments in this group.

I think I am right in saying that the Minister did not respond to the question as to what the numbers are of those who are still entitled to British citizenship under the British Nationality Act 1981 but have yet to apply. If we are not aware of the number, that in itself is a real case. I know that the Minister has undertaken to look at this matter further, but it makes the real case for making sure that we raise awareness as much as possible to people who might be in that situation to urge them to consider exercising their right to British citizenship. Surely we need to ensure that all those entitled to register for British citizenship either have it confirmed that that is already their status or are advised that they can register for that citizenship to which they are entitled under the 1981 Act.

We are, after all, talking about an entitlement—a right—to British citizenship, as I know the Minister has recognised. Surely, as people who are proud to be British, we should actively want to ensure that all those who have that entitlement are made aware of it and encouraged to exercise it, with the key responsibility for doing so and facilitating that entitlement to citizenship resting clearly with the Secretary of State and the Government. I hope very much that the discussions that I believe the Minister has said that she will have with the Home Secretary will lead to further very strenuous efforts to raise awareness of this right. Indeed, I hope that the Government will go further, as proposed in Amendment 67, to encourage people to exercise their entitlement and to do their utmost to facilitate matters so that the entitlement can be exercised with ease. In the light of that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 63 withdrawn.

Amendments 64 to 76 not moved.

Photo of Lord Duncan of Springbank Lord Duncan of Springbank Deputy Chairman of Committees

That brings us on to the group beginning with Amendment 77. I remind noble Lords that anyone wishing to speak after the Minister should email the clerk during the debate. Anyone wishing to press this or anything else in this group to a Division should make that clear in the debate.