Motion to Approve
My Lords, keeping the public safe is a top priority for the Government. Deprivation of citizenship, where it is conducive to the public good, is reserved for those who pose a threat to the UK or whose conduct involves very high harm. It is key to our ability to preserve the UK’s national security. Noble Lords will recall that the deprivation measures in the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 attracted much considered and thorough debate. This House and the other place agreed that in cases where the Secretary of State intends to make a deprivation order on the grounds that it is conducive to the public good, without giving notice, an application must be made to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, which will consider the Secretary of State’s reasons not to give notice.
Implementation of this process requires amendments to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Procedure) Rules 2003, which are made and amended by the Lord Chancellor. To create the necessary power to amend these rules we first need to amend the Special Immigration Appeals Commission Act 1997, which is the purpose of this instrument. Today, we are taking a significant step toward implementing the safeguards created in the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 that this House agreed to. I therefore trust that noble Lords will support the draft regulations and I commend them to the House. I beg to move.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for explaining this statutory instrument. As he said, deprivation of citizenship, particularly without notice, is a very serious issue. We fought hard to get the safe- guards in the Nationality and Borders Act in place. We are concerned about any move away from open justice, but we understand that there may be circumstances where a refusal of entry as a worker may require a hearing before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. My reading of the other regulation is that it is a technical change, and on that basis we support these regulations.
My Lords, we opposed the clause in the Act that sought to extend the power of the Secretary of State to deprive citizenship without giving a reason or telling a person that it has happened. We voted to remove that clause, as we were not convinced by the Government’s arguments that the power they were seeking was just and proportionate. However, we supported significant amendments, as the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, has just pointed out, which were accepted by the Government, to add safeguards to the process. I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, for his leadership on those amendments. As far as that is the case, we accept that the regulations before us today comprise one of those necessary and proportionate safeguards being implemented.
I remind the Chamber that the amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, restricted the range of circumstances in which notice can be withheld, introduced various judicial safeguards and said that the Secretary of State should review those safeguards. The Explanatory Memorandum states:
“This instrument is the first stage in establishing”
the process of application to SIAC and:
“Once the procedure rules are made … applications … can commence.”
We would like to know the timeline for this. How many other stages are there, given that the Government say this is the first stage and given the controversy there was about the introduction of this power and the fact that the House voted for the inclusion of these safeguards, which enabled the clause to be passed? When are all these safeguards going to be put in place? Can the Minister explain what the current procedure is? Is there any use of this power at the moment without these safeguards?
With those brief comments, we support this SI as proposed by the Government.
My Lords, I am very grateful for this short debate. I appreciate the strength of feeling about deprivation of citizenship, but I feel I need to repeat what I said earlier: maintaining our national security is a priority for this Government. On the specific point made by the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, this is very much about the mechanics of how a deprivation decision is conveyed to the individual concerned, and it recognises that it may not be possible to give notice in certain exceptional circumstances. The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, asked specific questions about when it starts. I cannot answer him at this moment, so I will write on that point, and to explain more clearly exactly how it happens now, if that is acceptable.
Absolutely; I am very happy to do that.
Given that we seem to have arrived at a conclusion, to finish, this instrument is the first step in creating the important safeguards which will hold the Government to account in relation to decisions to deprive a person of citizenship without giving them notice. As I said earlier, a separate instrument amending the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Procedure) Rules 2003 will be laid in due course, but for now I beg to move.