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Citizenship

Volume 124: debated on Monday 7 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will extend by at least six months the date of 31 December by which certain categories of applications to register as British citizens have to be made under the British Nationality Act 1981; and if he will make a statement.

No. We do not believe we would be justified in seeking the necessary powers.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if, in view of the shortage of registration forms for British citizenship and of the delays in acknowledging receipt of completed forms, he will extend the deadline for registration as a British citizen to allow for sufficient forms to be printed and distributed and then completed by those wishing to register;(2) how many forms for registration of British citizenship were printed by his Department; what has been the level of demand; and how he plans to make allowance for any shortfall;(3) why registration forms for British citizenship are being rationed and orders for forms are only being partially met after delays of several weeks.

About 850,000 Forms R and W (the two main forms for those eligible to apply before 31 December 1987), have been printed. Nearly 810,000 have been distributed. Stocks are closely monitored. Although on occasions some orders were partially met pending delivery of reprinted supplies, the position now is that adequate stocks are available. We accept that the large number of applications has inevitably led to some delay in acknowledging receipt of completed forms, but the deadline of 31 December 1987 refers to applications, with fees, being lodged by then, not to their acknowledgement.I see no need to seek powers to extend the deadline.