Clause 4 - Period for registration of person born outside the British overseas territories

Nationality and Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 19th October 2021.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Tom Pursglove Tom Pursglove Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office)

We have been clear that the nationality provisions within the Bill seek to tackle historical unfairness and inequality in British nationality law. As with earlier clauses, this legislation gives us the opportunity to amend provisions for British overseas territories citizens to mirror the comparable requirements already in place for British citizens.

Section 17(2) of the British Nationality Act 1981 provides a registration route for a child whose parent is a BOTC by descent where that parent had been in a territory for a continuous period of three years at some point before the child’s birth. At present, an application to register a child under this route must be made within 12 months of the child’s birth. However, the parallel provision for British citizens, section 3(2) of the 1981 Act, was amended in 2010, replacing the requirement for an application to register a child to be made within 12 months of the child’s birth, with a requirement for the application to be made while the child is a minor.

Clause 4 seeks to amend the BOTC registration route in the same way. Rather than requiring applications to be lodged within 12 months of the birth, the clause would allow an application to be made at any time before the child’s 18th birthday. Consequently, the provision for the Secretary of State to exercise discretion to extend the registration period from 12 months to six years in section 17(4) will be removed as it is no longer needed.

Entitlement remains limited to children with a particular parental and residential connection to the relevant territory. In line with the British citizenship route, we do not propose extending the route to adults. Other adults seeking to become BOTCs, such as by naturalisation, must demonstrate a personal connection with the territory and cannot rely merely on the residence of their parents, and we want to ensure that this amendment remains consistent with other existing provisions. The aim is to ensure fairness across British nationality law, not to create further discrepancies. Clause 4 will bring the provisions for BOTCs in line with those already in place for British citizens.

Photo of Bambos Charalambous Bambos Charalambous Shadow Minister (Home Office) 2:15 pm, 19th October 2021

Clause 4 also refers to an additional aspect necessary to align British citizenship and British overseas territory citizenship. The clause removes a requirement that applications for registering a child as a BOTC must be made within 12 months of birth, amending section 17(2) of the 1981 Act. As the Committee will know, section 17(2) provides a registration route for a child whose parent is a BOTC by descent and had been in a territory for a continuous period of three years at some point before the child’s birth. At present, an application under this route must be made within 12 months of the child’s birth; however, the same provision for British citizens was extended throughout childhood with the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, which replaced the requirement for the application to be made within 12 months of the child’s birth with a requirement for the application to be made while the child is a minor.

Clause 4 amends the BOTC registration route in the same way, so the same extension from within 12 months of the child’s birth to throughout childhood is applied to BOTCs. The Opposition support this clause and would be interested to know how many people will be affected once clauses 1 to 4 have been implemented.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 4 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.