Amendment 11

Part of Nationality and Borders Bill - Committee (1st Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 3:00 pm on 27th January 2022.

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Photo of Baroness Lister of Burtersett Baroness Lister of Burtersett Labour 3:00 pm, 27th January 2022

My Lords, I thank everyone who has contributed to this debate. It is fair to say that there is unequivocal support across the Committee—perhaps not for the exact wording of the amendment, but for what it is trying to achieve. Noble Lords spoke very strongly. It is unusual for nothing to be said in opposition to what is trying to be achieved.

The Minister expressed her sympathy and empathy. I am afraid that butters no parsnips when it comes to what the Chagossians rightly want. As other noble Lords have said, this is a question of justice and human rights. My noble friend Lady Chakrabarti asked a pertinent question about the distinction between those who choose to leave a British territory and those who are forced out. The Minister has accepted that a wrong was done. Whichever Government were in power—I know it was my party—we share the shame. Here is an opportunity, not to put it right but at least to do something tangible that will go some way towards putting one aspect of it right.

I am desperately disappointed that the Government are still using the argument that, because the Chagossians are in the wrong place, they are subject to a long-standing principle of British law. What other group of people has been forcibly evicted in this way? As I said, we are not setting a precedent because I assume we are not planning to evict anybody else.

I thank the Minister for the offer of a meeting. Perhaps we could take a cross-party delegation to reflect the strength of feeling across the House. I hope she will think again. If not, I shall want to bring this back on Report.

My noble friend Lady Whitaker has been supporting the Chagossians for many years; I am relatively new to this issue and the legal position is extremely complicated. I may not have it completely right but there is a principle of justice and human rights, which has been recognised across the Committee. We must use this legislation to put it right. As a number of noble Lords have said, there is no better place than this part of this Bill, which is about putting right historical discrimination in nationality and citizenship law. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment for now.

Amendment 11 withdrawn.

Clause 5 agreed.

Clause 6: Citizenship where mother married to someone other than natural father

Amendment 12 not moved.

Clause 6 agreed.

Amendment 13 not moved.

Clause 7: Citizenship: registration in special cases