Statelessness knocked on the head: House of Lords’ defeat for the UK Government’s citizenship-stripping proposal
As Steve Vladeck observed in one of his first posts at Just Security, citizenship-stripping proposals are a recurring feature in American politics and public discourse, especially in the aftermath of a recent terrorist incident. Last week, April 7, saw the defeat in the House of Lords of the UK Government’s most recent citizenship-stripping proposal (“the Proposal”). The Proposal took the form of a clause in the Immigration Bill which is presently winding its way through Parliament. By the Proposal, the Government sought to change section 40 of the British Nationality Act 1981. Section 40 provides that citizenship can be removed on two grounds:
(a) from those who have acquired it fraudulently – where the citizenship results from registration or naturalization – and
(b) where the Secretary of State is satisfied that the person has done something seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the UK, provided, as is made clear by section 40(4), that revocation of citizenship would not render him stateless.
The Proposal was, in relation to (b) and in those cases where a person’s citizenship status results from her naturalization, to strip away the protection against statelessness which is provided by section 40(4) – to create, in Hannah Arendt’s words, a pool of people who lack the right to have rights.
- the Proposal was introduced very late by the Government: there was no pre-legislative scrutiny and no consultation.
- the Proposal was not (cf. Steve’s observations about the US experience) a reaction to a terrorist incident. It was, in fact, triggered by an observation in the Supreme Court judgment in Al-Jedda v Secretary of State for the Home Department in October 2013. That (i.e. the limited time between October 2013 and January 2014) apparently explains why the Proposal was not subject to pre-legislative scrutiny and consultation: see the Home Office correspondence with the Joint Committee on Human Rights. … continue »