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  • Writer's pictureRosy Leveque

Nationality and Borders Bill Volume 818: debated on Thursday 27 January 2022 - Hansard

Amendment 11 - the Chagossian Amendment was debated in House of Lords at Committee Stage, 27th January 2022.

You can read the transcript of the discussions on Hansard, through this link. You can also watch the proceedings on YouTube here. The discussions were nearly 45 minutes long. With cross-party support from Labour, Lib Dem, Crossbenches, Green Party and Conservative peers. We believe this was the longest debate in Parliament on any Chagos issue. For this, we a grateful for all the peers' contributions, for being our voices in Parliament, and for pushing to make amendment 11 be a part of the Bill.

We express our thanks and gratitude especially to:

  • Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Labour)

  • Baroness Ludford - (Lib dem)

  • Baroness Whitaker – (Labour)

  • Lord Horam – (Conservative)

  • Baroness Altmann – (Conservative)

  • Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb – (Green Party)

  • Lord Ramsbotham – (Crossbench)

  • Baroness Falkner of Margravine – (Crossbench)

  • Lord Paddick – (Lib Dem)

  • Lord Rosser – (Labour)

  • Baroness Chakrabarti – (Labour)

We also know that not all peers could speak on this topic, and have already expressed their support to us via email, so we thank them too.

Quoted below is The Minister of State, Home Office's (Baroness Williams of Trafford, Conservarive) response to all peers:

I both sympathise and empathise with the residents of the Chagos Islands about how they were treated back in the 1960s and 1970s. I also agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, that return and citizenship are two different matters in relation to the Chagossians..."
...I must point out the position that successive Governments have expressed on this point. Amendment 11 would undermine the principle in our nationality law that applies to all other descendants of British nationals. Second and subsequent generations, born and settled outside the UK and its territories, do not have a right or entitlement to register as British nationals. I know that the amendment from the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, seeks, as she said, to limit the right to register as a British national to current generations who must apply within a limited timeframe. This does not alleviate the Government’s concern that offering this right is contrary to long-standing government policy. It goes further than the rights available to many other descendants of British nationals settled elsewhere around the world."
...The noble Baroness requested that I meet her and others interested in this matter. I always follow up on requests from noble Lords and I am very happy to meet her. We will consider the point raised by my noble friend Lord Horam about what more we can do to address concerns about the Immigration Rules. My noble friend Lady Altmann raised a point about citizenship. Of course, those without citizenship become overstayers. These are complex issues. As I said in reply to my noble friend Lord Horam, we are happy to consider what more we can do through the immigration system."

The Minister of State's response is once again based on the 'long-standing principle in Nationality law which does not allow 2nd generations born away from a British territory to acquire BOTC and British Citizenship. The Minister needs to re-evaluate the principle on which BIOT descendants cannot be born on their territory. This was due to forced exile of their grandparents. This was not a voluntary choice. This was forced onto them by their own government. This is a unique case, which requires a unique response and a unique solution. The excuse of British Nationality principles does not apply to these children and grandchildren. We hope Baroness Williams will indeed meet with us to speak about this, before this reaches Report Stage.

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