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British Citizenship

Volume 716: debated on Tuesday 19 January 2010

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what differences would exist between the British citizenship which would be acquired by a solely British National (Overseas) who, immediately prior to 1 July 1997, was a British Dependent Territories citizen by virtue of birth in Hong Kong, and who is registered as a British citizen (a) using Form EM under section 1(1) of the Hong Kong (British Nationality) Act 1997, or (b) using Form B(OS) under section 4B of the British Nationality Act 1981; and what are the reasons for the differences. [HL1234]

A BN(O) born in Hong Kong before 1 July 1997 and registered as a British citizen under Section 1(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981 will become a British citizen “otherwise than by descent”. A BN(O) born in Hong Kong before 1 July 1997 but registered as a British citizen under Section 4B of the British Nationality Act 1981 will become a British citizen “by descent”.

Section 2(1) of the 1997 Act provides that a beneficiary of that section would become a British citizen otherwise than by descent if, before 1 July 1997, he was a British dependent territories citizen otherwise than by descent. This was proposed by Lord Willoughby de Broke in his Private Bill, which was then taken forward by the Government into the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Bill in 1997.

Registration under Section 4B of the British Nationality Act 1981 gives British citizenship by descent. That section was originally inserted by Section 12 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, and conferred an entitlement to registration as a British citizen on British Overseas citizens, British subjects and British protected persons who have no other nationality and have not previously given up any other nationality. That section provided for those registered as British citizens under Section 4B to become British citizens “by descent”. As such, they would be unable to transmit their citizenship to a further generation born outside the United Kingdom. This would be consistent with their previous position, whereby British Overseas citizenship and the statuses of British subject and British protected person are usually non-transmissible.

Provision was made for British Nationals (Overseas) to be registered under Section 4B in the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009. No change was made to the provision that citizenship is acquired by descent.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why Home Office Form B(OS) asks British Nationals (Overseas) to state the certificate number, date of issue and place of issue of their registration certificate when registration certificates have not been issued to British Nationals (Overseas); and whether they will update the application form and guidance notes to reflect the information to be provided by British Nationals (Overseas). [HL1235]

Form B(OS) originally asked British Overseas citizens, British protected persons and British subjects to provide details of their certificate of registration if they had acquired that status by registration. From 13 January 2010 British Nationals (Overseas) are able to qualify under Section 4B if they meet the relevant statutory requirements.

As BN(O) status was acquired by acquisition of a passport, I accept that it may be useful for the form B(OS) to ask for the applicant's passport details.

However, I am confident that BN(O)s in Hong Kong will not miss out because of this omission, as applications are submitted via the Consulate-General who will ensure that the relevant information will be passed on to UKBA. UKBA will revise the application form in this respect.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which application form a solely British National (Overseas) should use to apply for British citizenship if he or she wishes the application to be considered under the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1997, and, should that application fail, to be automatically considered under section 4B of the British Nationality Act 1981. [HL1236]

A BN(O) who believes that he or she qualifies for registration under the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1997 should make an application using form EM. If, on consideration of the application, it appears that he or she does not meet the statutory requirements for that section, UKBA would automatically consider whether there was an alternative entitlement to registration under Section 4B of the British Nationality Act 1981.