Friday, December 5, 2008

Borders, Immigration and Citizenship Bill: Children of British mothers

There are important changes to citizenship rules in the news.

I am particularly interested in the part of the Borders, Immigration and Citizenship Bill that applies to children of British mothers (my mother is British):

Implement a firm but fair system - with measures including a new duty for the UKBA to safeguard the welfare of children; and to ensure fairness in nationality cases by removing the historical cut-off point for enabling children of British mothers born before 1961 to become British themselves, and enabling those serving overseas in the armed forces to register their children as British.

This means that children born to British mothers before 1961 (as I was) will be able to apply for citizenship.

This is obviously very welcome news but I'm annoyed that the law won't be changed immediately since it is so obviously discriminatory. Up until 2002, if you had a British father, you got a right to citizenship, but not if you had a British mother. In 2002, they changed that law, but only backdated it to 1961. How on earth they got away with such a discriminatory law to begin with is truly baffling. And even now, it is going to take more time to change the archaic law and make the nationality system fair!

This is from the Home Office website:

Children of British mothers

There have been reports of a change in the law to give British nationality to people born before February 1961 whose mothers were born in the UK. In fact, any change will not take place before late 2009 and the people concerned will need to register with the UK Border Agency before becoming eligible for a passport.

At present, only children born on or after 1st January 1983 can automatically be British solely because of their mother's birth in the UK.



Related posts from my blog:
Children of British mothers: proposed changes to citizenship law!
Guardian's Liberty Clinic - query about British citizenship
Changes to the law on citizenship: Children of British mothers
An Open Letter to my Readers

191 comments:

  1. When I had my kids here in the US, I assumed at first that they would not have the right to be British. I was very happy when I found out they could be - for a price of course. It cost several hundred dollars by the time I was done with the copies of my, the child's and DH's birth certificates, the consular birth certificate and a passport. It doesn't seem fair that when they changed the law they didn't change it for all children of British mothers.

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  2. That's what I can't get over - that a law can be changed but it so obviously discriminates based on gender and age! I was born before 1961 so I am being discriminated against due to my age, and my mother is being discriminated against because of her gender (British men can pass on their citizenship).

    Like you, I was happy to find out that although both my sons were born in England, they had the right to U.S. citizenship. And as you say, it was for a price - I had to pay a fee to report their births abroad and pay for their passports.

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  3. Ok, I've long considered applying for British citizenship. I was born in 1968 in California to a British mother. I've always lived in the U.S. but would like to keep my connection to my mother's homeland. And I've wondered, if I claim my British (dual) citizenship, can my children claim dual citizenship based on me?

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  4. Hi Teri, I don't think you would be able to pass British citizenship onto your children because even though you could claim British citizenship yourself, you weren't born in the UK. The law is very complicated though and I may not be right. Here's a link where you can read more about it and get detailed info:
    http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/britishcitizenship/eligibility/children/britishcitizen/

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  5. Teri - I'm pretty sure Maureen is right. You can only pass the citizenship on if you were born in the UK yourself. So although my kids are British, my grandchildren will not be unless they are born in the UK.

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  6. I remember when you posted about this before.
    It gets me that they can't, or more likely are not prepared to, change this straight away and do away with the charges made. The numbers involved, and the cost, must be relatively minimal.
    Silly me I'm forgetting this is the government we're talking about! xx

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  7. I'm a South African, living in South Africa, but with a British mother, and remaining family members in the UK. On my regular visits, I am often offended at being treated as an "alien" when arriving in the UK - a country that supposedly upholds the principles of gender equity, but applies the most discriminatory practices with regard to citizenship! On what basis is paternity the basis for determining citizenship? And why this strange cut-off date of 1961 to be regarded as "British" on the basis of one's mother's nationality? Are British women who bore children after 1961 more equal than those who had children before this date? Why should some of my siblings be British and others of us not? Very strange.

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  8. Thanks for your comments,Greg. I can certainly understand why you are offended at being treated as an "alien" when you visit the UK.

    I agree that the UK applies the most discriminatory practices with regard to citizenship. Frankly, I don't understand how it can be allowed legally. I'm also baffled as to the cut-off date of 1961. As you say it's very strange. It's also unjust and disgraceful.

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  9. Thanks, Maureen. I gues it is now "watch and wait" for the outcome of the process. The unsettling thing is that the Bill is so comprehensive, and contains so many controversial new provisions that the process could take forever!

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  10. It should be very straightforward but I think they are deliberately dragging their feet on the whole issue. I just hope they don't think of excuses to postpone the bill indefinitely. It does seem like we have no choice but to "watch and wait" as you say, Greg.

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  11. I am Canadian citizen born of a British mother and this is welcome news to me, I pray that it passes. It has always annoyed me that my sister (born after 1961) can be a British citizen but I cannot (being born in 1957). I am really looking forward to become a British citizen, too bad I won't be able to pass it on to my daughter who was born in Canada (I understand however that she will have a right of abode due to her grandmother being a British citizen). It is time that this discrimination is rectified!

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  12. Yes, it's a very unfair law as it stands and I can certainly understand why you would be annoyed that your sister (born after 1961) can be a British citizen but you cannot.

    Unfortunately, the latest news is that they have included the amendment to the bill for changing citzenship by descent with the new Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill. I think this means there will be a longer delay for the bill to go through.

    I think it's extremely unfair that they have tied the bill that ensures British citizenship to children (born before 1961) of British mothers to this new bill. They should be two separate bills!

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  13. Courtney said:

    To Maureen et al..

    I have been through the various Emails & can make some constructive comment on this having been born overseas before the 7th Feb 1961 to a CUKC otherwise than descent and also as I have been embroiled in extensive & continual litigation against the racialist British regime in the British Courts since 2004 on this specific discrimination. It was also filed in the European Court of Human Rights under an application filed by me in August 2006 (still to be determined.


    The bill is currently being debated in the House of Lords and has been through a number of readings. What is clear in respect of §41 (acquisition by descent from a British mother) is that the change will be passed in respect of acquisition through a British mother who was a CUKC otherwise than descent at the time when one was born (this is a foregone conclusion if they are to lift the reservation that the British Government made in respect of Article 9.2 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women). In the House of Lords debate minutes for the 2nd March 2009 reading for §41 of the new Act (see link below for the full debate on this specific section), it appears that they are not going to pass the acquisition of British Citizenship by descent where your mother was also a CUKC by descent as opposed to a CUKC otherwise than by descent. Under the BNA 1948, a male CUKC by descent could register an overseas born child for CUKC by descent within one year of the birth, however a female CUKC by descent could not (hence, once again racial and gender discrimination). It is also quite clear they are playing the game that the aggrieved party must prove a positive i.e. your mother who was a CUKC by descent would have registered you which you can not prove. Hence, they are in effect stating that there are many female CUKCs by descent who would not have registered their children after one year as they did not want to - hence tough luck by their standards. What they are saying also is that you must prove their negative is wrong which will be futile. They incidentally did this type of thing with the Indians born in Hong Kong to ethnic Indians - these children were in effect Stateless by reason of the Chinese takeover. They had been refusing these applications as they said that they could acquire Indian Citizenship. They were refusing these applications on the basis that the applicants had to prove the positive i.e. they could not acquire Indian Citizenship. They had it slapped in their faces when the Indian Government passed a law which stated that overseas born children did not acquite Indian Citizenship if they were not registered within 1 year (they learnt very well from the racialist colonial masters and used it against them). The UK Government has now backtracked and is trying to trace over 1000 of these folks to give them their citizenship.

    Anyway, if anyone has been refused British Citizenship since the April 2002 amendment (see NIAA 2002) was made with the 7th February 1961 cut-off date and where you were born on or before this date and your mother was a CUKC otherwise than by descent, I would be interested in hearing for you as I need some other plaintiffs to join me as part of the putative class in the European Court litigation. They have stated that only a few 100 people are effected which is an absolute falsehood - read the High Court case with Hicks in Guantanamo where they let it slip that they refused 7400 applications under §4C of the BNA 1981. It is obvious that the refusals are not by reason of not having a British mother (one would have to be brain dead to try to apply without a British mother) but because these persons were born before the cut off date.

    Email Contact Address: cdehn@tgeng.com

    House of Lords Debate - Refer to:

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200809/ldhansrd/text/90302-0016.htm

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  14. Thank you for all the info and updating about the bill, Courtney. I appreciate it.

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  15. Thanks for the additional info. I've also been following the progress of the Bill. While the seeming support for the amendment is encouraging, there are also some other aspects relating to "registration" as a British citizen which I find somewhat disconcerting.

    If this legislation passes, we would need to apply for "registration", i.e. it would not be automatic. The Home Secretary would have discretion to decide whether applicants are of "good character". While I would hope that I would not be adversely affected by this, my understanding of the concept of citizenship is that it is a "birthright" based on the objective criterion of the nationality of one's parents - and not other subjective and discretionary criteria. What is becoming increasingly clear is that the authorities are obviously rectifying past wrongs very hesitantly and grudgingly! Prospective applicants may even find the cost of applying prohibitive, and must be prepared for a long wait - nationality applications can take longer than 6 months. Only once this has been completed can one apply for a passport.

    My own circumstances are now more complicated with the recent regulations that now require South African citizens to obtain a visa to travel to the UK - even to transit through a UK airport! This entails filling out a 10 page form (!) and paying 60 pounds. I thought that the concept of globalisation entails taking down walls rather than building fortresses!

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  16. Greg, I agree that the "registration" word is troubling. If it was your father who was British rather than your mother, you would be British and would just apply for a passport. But children of a British mother have to register plus attend a citizenship ceremony. Registration costs £400. That isn't fair and equal. We should just need to provide our mother's long form birth certificate with our passport application, just like the children of the men do - just like any other British citizen applying for a passport, basically.Instead, it seems like the discrimination will be allowed to continue. As you point out, our British citizenship should be a birthright just as it is for children of British fathers.

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  17. Hello,

    Agree with all of you regarding discrimination.

    I was born in 1952 to a British mother & since long living in the UK but could not qualify for a British citizenship, as I could not continue to live at a stretch for 5 years.

    Due to nature of my job (travelling) I am suffering a lot when travelling & applying for a visa of countries I need to visit.

    I am eager for this law to change so that I get my long awaited Citizenship of the UK.

    Good luck to all affectees.

    Javed

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  18. Hello All,

    Fully agree with your views/comments.

    I am also a sufferer, as was born to a British mother before 1961.

    Good luck & best wishes.

    JP

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  19. Thank you JP. Let's hope 2009 will be the year that this discrimination against us will finally end.

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  20. I thought I would let you know that last year I applied to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and they responded by offering to take up my case (my Mother is British) as the discriminatory nature of the current Bill was deemed unacceptable. However, I had to seriously consider going forward as I would have had to pay the British barrister's fees to represent me, when I was notified by the British Government that the new proporsed Borders Bill would remove the 1961 cut-off date. I believe that part of the reason that this change to the Bill of the gross dicriminatory clauses against British women didn't come easily, but was "forced" by the EU's demands on member states for equality before the law for everyone.

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  21. Tim, that's very interesting, and heartening news that the European Court of Human Rights offered to take up your case. I wonder how many others may have applied like you did. I know I was considering doing the same thing. I think it's disgusting that the British government is being "forced" to change the Citizenship Bill by the EU but it's certainly good news for those of us who are being discriminated against! Let's hope the bill goes through without a hitch - and that we will be granted the same rights to British citizenship as children of British fathers are.

    Thank you for sharing the information.

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  22. I am also rather shocked at all the paperwork that will be required and feel the discrimination has still been carried forward but "couched" in a different form. Viz. that one has to have a character reference and pay these exorbitant fees. But I have waited so long for this to happen I will be happy to plod through the process with the hope of that British passport at the end of it all. I do have a question to ask if you possibly know. Last year when I plowing through the Bill and the government web site on the procedures involved in applying for citizenship, I thought I had read somewhere that it was not necessary to have to register separately if one was applying for one's first passport. I seem to recall that only the passport application was necessary. But I now cannot find that reference.

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  23. Tim, this information is from the Home Office website at this link:
    http://www.ips.gov.uk/passport/apply-children-of-british-mothers.asp

    Apply for a passport
    Children of British mothers
    There have been reports of a change in the law to give British nationality to people born before February 1961 whose mothers were born in the UK. In fact, any change will not take place before late 2009 and the people concerned will need to register with the UK Border Agency before becoming eligible for a passport.

    At present, only children born on or after 1st January 1983 can automatically be British solely because of their mother's birth in the UK.

    The passport application pack tells you what documents we need to see to establish your British nationality. If we have to refuse your application the fee is not normally refundable.

    Please visit http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/britishcitizenship/ for specific information on British citizenship.

    and this:

    How do I apply for a British passport?

    If your application for British nationality is successful you will be able to apply for a British passport.

    British passports are issued by the Identity and Passport Service (IPS).

    All adult customers (aged 16 and over) applying for a passport for the first time must attend an interview with IPS in person to confirm their identity. IPS recommends you allow six weeks for your passport application to be processed. You should not make any travel arrangement until you receive your passport.

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  24. Wow !! Cant believe I found this blog site. My mother is English war bride and all my Grandparents other than my father who was born in Australia are British but as I was born in 1952 I can't have a British Passport. Whilst I hold a Right of Abode and have worked in UK for past 4 years+ my work meant I was in and out of UK so 5 years was not consitent. I have written to my local MP in Berkshire, even joined the Conservative party and did letterbox drops for her just so that she would try and get this law amended. She said she took it as far as she could but it was 'in the too hard file'. I wrote to the Queen, took 8 months to get a reply that sent me to the Home Office, they just said Lord Filkin said that there would be too many people wanting citizenship so he did the cut off date at 1961. So women like my mother who were in the Air Force services and survived the horrors of war didn't have their childrens birth recognised.My father went over in the Aust Air Force joining underage to fight for the country of his parents. So annoyed and hurt that the teenage kids born to an English mum in Australia the across the road from us have a passport but I can't..so I also wrote to Prince Charles...zilch no help at all. So the other day I wrote to EU Discrimination Tribunal and got a reply from Chris Fretwell,English Section Press and Information Services Court of Justice of the European Communities and he sent me thru a case that went thru the court in 1990 regarding an Italian woman and Argentian father. The court ruling was that any child born to an Italian Father or Italian mother was considered to be Italian, no matter where they were born. Ireland recognises all children born to Irish mothers worldwide - why on earth doesn't England...so I then wrote to all the Baronesses in the House of Lords ..I am up to Letter G so far but I have had positive replies..most said they will look into it. Just got a reply from Baroness Janet Fookes that sat in on the bill when it was past making 1961 the cut off date, and she said she had no voting rights but thought at the time how wrong it was, and she will now take it up with an Australian Baroness friend of hers...perhaps we could all send emails to her..another Baroness said she wrote to the Minister, so finding your site tonight is like water in a desert ! Thought it was me against the UK Legal system.. if I can do anything to help or you need any more info I can be contacted by email nouveaux9@yahoo.co.uk good luck everyone! Kerry + Malcolm Dooley

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  25. Hello Kerry and Malcolm. I'm pleased you found my blog too and welcome your input on this battle for our right to British citizenship! I am the daughter of an English war bride too.

    I find it very interesting indeed that "Lord Filkin said that there would be too many people wanting citizenship so he did the cut off date at 1961." And because of that concern, they were able to pass a law that so blatantly discriminate based on gender and age!

    I appreciate you sharing the details about your various letters and replies on this matter. I also appreciate your kind offer to help regarding all of this. I'm tempted to wait and see how the bill goes through parliament but then again perhaps we should be demanding the "registration" part be removed before the bill is made law, since it still discriminates against us. Why should we have to register and attend a citizenship ceremony? Children of British fathers don't have to.

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  26. The first thing I want to comment on today is that finding your blog is teaching me a few more lessons in computer gobbildeegook!! Maureen, thank you for all the info on applying for a passport. It looks as though it could be quite a challenge. I would also like to comment on the contribution by Kerry and Malcolm. what a pity we all didn't know we all out there ten years ago! In a letter from the British Government in 1996, in reply to one of my many letters over the years, an offical wrote, and I quote, that “The reasons for your position under British nationality legislation are mainly historical. It was considered, however, that to designate all such children automatically as British citizens, especially if the citizenship was back-dated to their birth, might have caused personal difficulties in many cases and increased the number of British citizens overseas”. I replied how offensive that decision was as the pain came from the fact that I was treated like an alien, not because it would have caused any hardships, plus many other reactions. Good to know you are all out there.

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  27. Tim, I have to agree that it does look like we still a challenge ahead of us. I think the Home Office is making all the steps a lot more complicated than need be and I'm worried that the bill in parliament is not going to be as straightforward as it should be.

    It is a real shame we didn't all know about each other years ago but thanks to the internet, we are able to give each other advice and support now.

    I find it quite offensive that the reason the British government back-dated to 1961 was because it "...might have caused personal difficulties in many cases and increased the number of British citizens overseas”. That is pretty much what Kerry and Malcolm were told. I think it's an insult to all of us with British mothers. Of course there would be more people wanting citizenship but it's more than just wanting it, the fact is that we are entitled to it!

    It is indeed good to know we aren't alone in our battle for our right to British citizenship.

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  28. Hi Maureen,

    I fully agree with you regarding the registeration / attending a citizenship ceremony, matter.
    Hopefully, we may approach collectively to give more weight to the subject matter.

    JP

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  29. Hi Zakia, thank you. I appreciate the suggestion. I'm not sure if we should wait and see what happens to the bill as it progresses through parliament or if there is something we can do regarding the "registration" part.

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  30. Hi Maureen,

    If we take the couse I suggested, then I think we all have to collectly appeal through any lawyer, but not sure if we can directly appeal. Do u have any idea ?

    BR,

    JP

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  31. I don't really have any idea. Sorry.

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  32. Thank you guys for your support - haven't worked out how to do the blog name yet ! I have had some great replies to my letters sent to the Baronesses.. I got this reply from Jane Whitehead (Home Office)as Baroness Andrews sent thru my letter to her for comment - I thought it was just terrible how she rationalised it, particularly as she is a woman..this is part of the reply "The possibility of making the change retrospective was closely examined at the time of drafting the current legislation. It was felt, however, that to confer British citizenship automatically on all children of British mothers born before 1983 would cause difficulties in some cases, especially if the citizenship were back-dated to the time of birth. Some might not have wanted British citizenship; others may have lost the citizenship of their country of birth as a result of acquiring British citizenship. It was also considered to be contrary to the scheme of the 1981 Act by increasing the number of British citizens overseas who had spent their whole lives abroad. Of those who had come to live in the United Kingdom, a number would have already acquired, or would have the option of acquiring, British citizenship by naturalisation or registration."
    Sorry but I feel this is a cop out - there would be no hardship to anyone, and only people who really wanted to come would be applying anyway...having spent this afternoon reading heaps of parlimentary minutes it would seem Lord Avebury is very much on our side in changing this law. Lord Filkin who changed the law to exclude us when he was Minister needs to be beheaded...! This law needs to be passed to include all children of British women with no clauses or exceptions. I don't know if anyone else would like to write to Lord Avebury at House of Lords to say 'keep fighting for us please'..my heart goes out today to the Gherka's who lost their fight. If you want to email Jane W Home Office - her email is jane.whitehead@ind.homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk Take care everyone Kerry + Mal

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  33. Thanks for the update, Kerry & Mal. I agree with you about the letter from Jane Whitehead at the Home Office - her explanation is a cop out. And on top of that, their decision meant the law was allowed to discriminate against us. Thanks for her email address at the Home Office but she doesn't sound like she will be much help.

    I feel badly for the Gurkhas too. They have a long history of loyalty to the British Army and should have earned the right to settle in Britain but instead the Home Office's new rules mean that only around 100 will be allowed to settle. It's a disgrace.

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  34. Hello from Scotland - at last I've found people of similar mind on this subject and can't believe how many there are. I agree totally that it is a pity we didn't know of each other sooner. As far as letters from the UK Border Agency are concerned I concur on their responses, of which I have 2 with the exact same wording. One to me direct last year and one to my MP who was totally ineffectual.

    I am campaigning on behalf of my younger son who was born in 1974 in a Territory of the US (Guam). We came back to the UK in 1976 and have lived here ever since. I find it singularly annoying that he is a home owner, is married to a UK citizen and has paid taxes all these years and is still expected to pay £480 for the privilege of registering instead of simply being able to apply for a UK passport in the same way as his older brother who was born in the UK.

    I will gladly put pen to paper and my voice to all those others in an attempt to have this registration procedure abolished along with the 1961 cut-off date which seems to have been the focus of other campaigns and is now at least in the process of being passed.

    I am also considering petitioning the European Parliament which has been suggested to me by one of the MEPs here in Scotland to see if they can bring any pressure to bear to rectify this inequality in human rights.

    The other injustice in all of this is that if my son chooses for reasons of prohibitive costs not to register he is more or less trapped here in the UK. He cannot for instance take a contract to work outwith the UK for any longer than 3 months otherwise he will be considered a tourist when he returns and the ILR stamp in his passport will be invalid. He then faces deportation if he tries to remain indefinitely thereby forfeiting his home and family and the only country he has known as home for the last 32 years.

    Sorry for the rant but having found this site I just had to register my existence.

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  35. Hello Elizabeth. I'm glad you found my blog and you can join us in our fight for equal rights to British citizenship. It's interesting that one of your MEPs in Scotland suggested you petition the European Parliament about this inequality in human rights. That sounds like an excellent idea. Like you, I'm very annoyed that the bill in parliament has a "registration" requirement.

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  36. Hello again Maureen

    Thanks for responding so quickly. Here's an extract from the MEP's email which gives the information on sending in a petition if anyone else is interested:

    "However, as you write, your situation may also be seen as discriminatory. Equal equality is enshrined in the principles of the EC Treaty of 1957. Article 2 of the EC Treaty, for example, that protecting equality between men and women is one of the tasks of the European Community. Similarly, Article 3(2) calls on the Community to "eliminate inequalities, and to promote equality, between men and women" in the context of an internal market. There are three legal bases in the EC Treaty for EU legislation on equal treatment of men and women: Article 141(3) in matters of employment and occupation; Article 13(1) outside of the employment field; and Article 137 in the promotion of employment, improved living and working conditions.

    You can may be also interested in submitting a petition regarding your case to the European Parliament. Further information regarding submitting petitions on the following website: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/parliament/public/staticDisplay.do?id=49."

    Not sure about those last few characters but I guess if you type in the first bit you'll be able to muddle your way through to the appropriate bit. If enough of us do it who knows it may strike a chord with someone !

    Elizabeth

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  37. Thanks for sharing all the useful info and the appropriate link, Elizabeth. I appreciate it!

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  38. Hi Maureen, Your blog has certainly attracted much interest! Thank you for establishing this forum. I have been watching the progress of the Bill...now finally through the House of Lords, but there have been major divisions over the more contentious aspects - largely the proposed requirement for passports for people travelling between the Republic of Ireland and the UK. (The Government proposals were defeated by the Lib Dems and Conservatives). These issues that are totally unrelated to the matter of belatedly granting us our birthright may now delay the progress of the Bill. It is totally wrong that the process of rectifying a flagrant human rights anomaly is being consolidated with a legislative package that seeks to address a whole range of UNRELATED issues (and which are extremely politically contentious).

    What do issues such as travel requirements; the role of the Border Agency; the treatment of asylum seekers have in common with our issue, other than to delay the process of making good on a highly discriminatory provision of nationality legislation?

    This should ideally be separated from the other matters and dealt with -swiftly - in its own right! If I were in the UK, and had access to MPs, I would certainly be lobbying along these lines. Let them have their part-political fights about all the other matters, but focus on a seemingly "cut and dried" issue of reversing discriminatory legislation as a matter of priority!

    No date has been set down for the first reading of the Bill in the House of Commons. The likelihood that it will be finalised before the long summer recess is very slim, so be prepared for a LONG wait! To track progress, see the link below.

    http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2008-09/borderscitizenshipandimmigration.html

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  39. Greg, I've been astounded by how much attention this particular post has attracted! There are so many people who are affected by this discriminatory law and who are looking for advice and support. I'm so glad that I posted about it now.

    I agree totally with your view about how wrong it is that the amendment to the bill for changing citzenship by descent is included with other unrelated matters in the new Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill. I think it's extremely unfair that they have tied the bill that ensures British citizenship to children (born before 1961) of British mothers to this new bill. They should be two separate bills! I like your idea about contacting our MPs about this. As you quite rightly say, the focus should be on a seemingly "cut and dried" issue of reversing discriminatory legislation.

    And thanks for sharing the link for tracking the progress of the bill. It's depressing how slowly it's progressing. However, perhaps this will give us more time to push for "our" part of the bill to be made separate, as it should have been in the first place. And to remove the unfair registration requirement too.

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  40. Lord Hansards text - http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200607/ldhansrd/text/70718-gc0006.htm is a fascinating insight into the debate of citizenship 2002 -2009. Lord Avebury (Eric)very kindly wrote back to me, he is 80years old and has been fighting so hard for many years to help our cause. His email address is ericavebury@gmail.com and I am sure he would appreciate hearing how much his support means to us all. Thank goodness for your website Maureen! best wishes Kerry + Mal

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  41. Thanks so much for the link about the citizenship debate and also for providing Lord Avebury's email address! I really appreciate it as I'm sure others following this issue on my blog will too. Thank you, Kerry and Mal.

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  42. Hi Maureen (and the many other contributors). Appended below is the text of my e-mail to Lord Avebury. It might be a good strategy to lobby as many decision-makers as possible while we wait for this lengthy process to reach a conclusion!

    "Dear Lord Avebury,
    As a “foreigner”, I have been following the progress of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill with keen interest, and have noted your unstinting support for the removal of highly discriminatory provisions in current nationality legislation. I – and most certainly, many others – are most appreciative of your support.

    One of the (hopefully unintended) consequences of the current provisions relating to children of British mothers born overseas, is that it has split families. In my instance, two of my siblings are British nationals on the basis of my late mother’s nationality. The remaining two are not eligible. By virtue of being born before 1961, we are seemingly “lesser beings” in the eyes of the law. While I do not live in the UK, I am a regular visitor, and find it most annoying to be treated as an alien when I visit my family. As a South African resident, I am even more incensed that I now need a visa for the UK (and to get it means filling out a 10 page form and paying between £60 and £200 for this!) I do not want to live in the UK; however, I want the right to exercise the choice to be British on the basis of my mother’s nationality.

    On the draft legislation, welcome, but long overdue, I am pleased to see the proposals to remove the arbitrary cut-off date of 1961. However, the Bill deals with so many other politically contentious issues, that many people in the same position as I feel that the resolution of our specific issue will be subordinated to so many other unrelated issues.

    The other point of concern (should the Bill eventually be passed by the Commons) is the PROCESS for “registration”. If a parent was born British, but became part of the waves of expatriates that were actively encouraged at the time to bolster British interests in the colonies and dominions, why should a child be required to APPLY for registration (and pay exorbitant fees)? Why should the decision whether one can be British or not, be subject to the discretion of the Home Secretary, on the basis of a subjective judgement of “good character”? The whole thing remains deeply discriminatory.

    I understand the concerns about dealing with matters on a piecemeal basis, but I fail to comprehend what the redress of such a glaringly discriminatory issue has in common with the role of the UK Border Agency; the Common Travel Area; and the complex issues of asylum-seekers. This is something that should be dealt with expeditiously, and in its own right, if there is a genuine commitment to rectify an indefensible anomaly.

    I nevertheless greatly appreciate your work and that of others to right past wrongs."

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  43. That's a good letter, Greg. Thanks for sharing it. It's a useful template for others to use (after adjusting it for their own situation). And I agree with your excellent suggestion that "it might be a good strategy to lobby as many decision-makers as possible while we wait for this lengthy process to reach a conclusion."

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  44. gregw@discoverymail.co.zaThursday, April 30, 2009

    Thanks, Maureen. I've had some time on hand today, so I also wrote to Clare Short (MP, and former Secretary of State for International Development). I have met her before, and she has been a great campaigner over human rights issues. Hopefully, we can create some momentum to resolve a very irksome issue. From my own perspective, the nationality issue doesn't matter too much - it is the principle that counts. Also that so many people are being unfairly prejudiced on the basis of arbitrary and unjust legislation. I hope that the many people who have found your blog will "make some noise" to rectify this situation, and once again laud you for creating this forum! I'm hopefully going to visit my sister in the UK next week, if the authorities will let me in!

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  45. Hi Greg - you have been busy! I'm impressed. Thanks for suggesting another MP we can write to. I think you're quite right - that the more people who make some noise about this unfair situation, the better.

    Thank you - I'm glad if my blog is helping other people and hopefully our joint efforts will pay off with justice for all of us.

    Enjoy your visit with your sister in the UK next week!

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  46. Greg so glad you wrote to Lord Avebury - he is a legend. I wrote to another Lord - Gary Klaukka regarding the registration fee his reply is as follows:-
    "You are quite right in pointing out that there is a registration fee for British citizenship based on your mother's British nationality. As of 6 April, the registration fee is £540, and subject to change. I looked through the Lords debates on the provision, and it did not seem that there was talk of waiving the registration fee. If I have understood the legislation correctly, those born to British fathers automatically became British citizens, so it was not necessary for them to pay a registration fee. However, if applying to register for British citizenship based on one's mother's nationality, the Border Agency appears keen to reclaim costs incurred to them by the registration process.

    In other words, I would personally be surprised if the registration fee were to be waived for all applicants, but as the bill is still in the middle of being debated, the situation can naturally change. It might be a good idea to approach a Member of Parliament over the matter, considering the next section of the debate is in the House of Commons." - it has actually just got more expensive!! Think we need to write to as many MP's as possible to get this cost scraped ! K+M

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  47. That registration fee is outrageous! And totally unfair! This has got be addressed and changed before the bill becomes law. I agree that we need to write to as many MPs as possible about this.

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  48. I'm appalled to read that this Registration fee has gone up from £480 to £540 in a matter of months.

    What makes matters worse is that there is no Registration required for anyone born after 1983 even if the person was born to a British mother ! Obviously I feel it doubly unfair for my son who has lived her for over 30 years, paid tax and NI, is married to a UK citizen and yet he is still discriminated against. He also risks being like so many others, exiled from the only country he has known as home since he was 2 years old if he travels outwith the UK for more than 3 months, risking deportation if he returns after that time to stay longer than a normal visitor would.

    If Lord Klaukka is right when he states that the Border Agency appears keen to reclaim costs incurred to them by the registration process, why don't they just SCRAP THE PROCESS !!!

    I've no wish to dampen anyone's spirit regarding writing to MPs and such but I've written to as many as I can here in Scotland and almost every one of them had the same reply: this is a matter for my Westminster MP and that there was nothing anyone else could do. I did of course write to him and got absolutely nowhere. He simply accepted the Border Agency's reply which was a regurgitation of the one they sent to me, extracts of which I have seen repeated in other posts.

    I'm very willing to continue to lobby where I can but being a novice at this sort of thing don't really know where to begin. Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated.

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  49. Elizabeth, I agree that this registration fee is appalling and totally unjust. I know writing to MPs may not help but I wonder if they get so many letters if that will make a difference.

    I've been trying to think of a strategy for all of us. Like you, I'm open to ideas and advice. I'm sure we could come up with a plan if we all put our ideas together.

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  50. Sorry Maureen, didn't mean to sound defeatist and I agree that we shall try writing to as many people as possible. I'm going to enlist the help of my sons to see if a "younger" fresher minds than mine might come up with something inspirational :)

    I've also thought that living here near the Holy Loch (US Submarine base) where many of my country-women married US servicemen might be another source of people in the same boat as myself who have returned to settle in the UK. One close friend I know of has 3 sons who are all in the same boat and she may have other contacts that she can enlist to help the cause.

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  51. Elizabeth, there's no need to apologize. I appreciate all your input on this matter, even if it's not good news. The more we know about the situation the better so it really does help us when you share your story and let us know what does and doesn't work.

    I think your idea about talking to other people in the same situation is an excellent one. The more people we can get involved in this campaign, the better.

    There must be a way to change this blatant discrimination against us!

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  52. I was reading the Daily Mail today and there was an article written by I.Drury (journalist) on how the Daily Mail has followed the Gurka's from tragedy to triumph (more or less)..it is just my opinion, but think this should become a media thing on the back of the Gurka's story of being forgotten and abused by Britain... if we could possibly do an interview with BBC, or thru a newspaper medium it would be a huge step forward, as we would then have 'a presence' and the MP's couldn't put it in the 'not interested file' as hopefully it would be of interest due to a media write up...anyone have media contacts? I will email this journalist anyway - what the heck! A fab motivational motto I live by is 'If it is to be, it is up to me!'guys we can do this ! Kerry + Mal

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  53. Kerry and Mal, I had considered contacting the media about this but I've been reluctant to stir things up too much. Do you think it might jeopardize our applications for British citizenship when the time comes?

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  54. Hi Maureen

    The process grinds on but every time someone contacts the government I believe there will be someone who hears our call. I wrote to Lord Avebury (at one of your responders suggestions)and he replied to me with some encouraging news. I hope he won't mind me quoting him but on the 27th April he wrote to Lord West of Spithead that "It occurs to me that if our law of the right to citizenship of persons born abroad to one British and one foreign parent had been gender neutral, the beneficiaries of Clause 46 of the BCI Bill would have been able to register free, whereas now it will cost £540. This is not fair, and I would be grateful if on the next occasion when an Order is made on fees, the Government will exempt the Clause 46 applicants from any charge, which is the least we can do for those who will have had to wait so long." He also commented to my query on character references, "We had some discussion about character references during the passage of the Bill, but I'm sorry to say the Government were totally immovable......"
    I believe the British Government should be challenged at the European Court, but who can afford the costs. I cannot. Keep positive everyone. We will win in the end.

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  55. I forgot to mention that I went to the European Parliament website to lodge my petition in repsonse to one fo your responders and one has to me from a member state, and I am not. It seems a bit limiting when the discrimnation is all about denying one from outside to become a member through a birth-right. Any suggestions anyone?

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  56. Maureen, Kerry & Mal
    I think media coverage may actually be a good idea although I agree Maureen that I have been kind of wary of attracting the wrong kind of attention for the same reasons you have.

    That said, a couple of years ago a 78 year old lady from Aberdeen who was born in the States to a British mother and who had lived in the UK since she was 2 was threatened with deportation as they considered her an illegal immigrant because her American passport was not valid when she returned from visiting her daughter in Australia. They gave her four weeks to leave the UK. When the press got hold of the story the UK Border Agency ended up giving her citizenship and refunding the £750 she had sent in with her application for citizenship !

    One of our Scottish newspapers (The Herald) has a contact page for dilemmas and I've sent in an email asking how they might suggest I find people in the same circumstances but on a wider scale. I'm not sure if I'll hear back from them at all but if I do and they give me a route to follow I will obviously not take it any further unless there is a general consensus to do so. I was just exploring other avenues rather than the political route which you will have gathered I don't have much faith in.

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  57. Hi all,

    One way to deal with this would be through one of the many human rights advocacy groups, who have the infrastructure to place pressure on decision-makers. The risk associated with such a strategy is that it could lead to the Bill being completely withdrawn, and the process further delayed indefinitely. As the Bill in its current form is now sceduled for discussion in the House of Commons, I still feel that it would be preferable to write to a number of influential MPs, who would be able to raise our concerns during the discussion of the Bill in the House. By highlighting the fundamental flaws, we will at least be planting a seed in the minds of people who ultimately have to approved the Bill. During the process there is sufficient opportunity for the "offending" provisions to be amended.

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  58. Dear comrades: Since my last message I did some research. There are a number of parliamentary interest groups, comprising MPs with specific interest in a range of issues. Those that would appear most appropriate to our issue would be the Group on Human Rights (chair: Ann Clwyd MP; e-mail clwyda@parliament.uk) and the Group on Sex Equality (chair: Jule Morgan MP; email morganj@parliament.uk). I've written to both of them; text of letter appended below. Hopefully this will at least focus them on the issue. It would be useful for all of us to approach the two Groups.

    Dear Ms Clwyd,
    I am writing to you in your capacity as Chairman of the Parliamentary Group on Human Rights, to express concern regarding certain provisions of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill.
    The specific issue relates to the (welcome) proposals to amend the existing, highly discriminatory provisions of the British Nationality Act, which deny British women the right to pass their British citizenship to their children. Previous amendments to the legislation partially removed this discrimination, by allowing children born overseas to British mothers between 1961 and 1983 to apply for registration as British citizens. However, children born before the 1961 cut-off date have no right to British citizenship. The practical implication of this, in many instances, is that children born to the same mother are treated differently in the eyes of the law! It has undoubtedly been the cause of hardship and grief, as families have been “split” as a result – with some children having the right to live and work in the UK, and others, not.
    I have been following the progress of the Bill through the House of Lords with keen interest, and it is reassuring to note that there is seemingly strong support to remove at least some of the discriminatory provisions within the current legislation. However, the mechanics of the draft legislation remain deeply flawed, and serve to entrench discrimination in a different form. Should the legislation be enacted, children born abroad of British mothers prior to 1961 will have the right to “apply for registration” as British citizens. However, children born overseas to British FATHERS automatically become British citizens in terms of existing legislation. If the objective is to “wipe the slate clean” with regard to gender discrimination, why should this differentiation remain? Ultimately, the decision regarding citizenship of children born overseas to British mothers would rest with the Home Secretary, as applicants would need to apply, pay exorbitant fees, show proof of “good character”; make an oath of allegiance to the Crown at a citizenship ceremony; and be prepared to wait for months for their applications to be processed. This is not applicable to children whose nationality is passed on along the paternal line. In essence, this creates two “classes” of people, based on the gender of their parents: those born of British fathers are automatically regarded as British; children claiming their birthright on the basis of their mother’s nationality need first to be judged as “suitable”, in line with some rather subjective criteria!
    I find this deeply offensive, and a perpetuation of gender discrimination, albeit cloaked in a different guise. I would sincerely hope that members of your Group will take cognisance of this when the Bill is debated in the Commons."

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  59. Wow! I don't have time to reply to everyone's comments right now but I just have to say that I'm so impressed with all the useful ideas and grateful for all the letters you've written. I am beginning to feel a lot more optimistic about our situation now. Thank you, everyone!

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  60. Wow! Aren't we getting good! It is a hard decision to know whether to contact media - however, had the Gurka's NOT had the media coverage then Brown would have gotten away with not allowing them to stay. It is only because they got media and the furore of British people, and I am sure outside of Britain too that they had to bend to the pressure. Even his cabinet went against him in the vote. Ironically we are having a Conservatives function where I work so I can earbash a few MPs here, but like I think I may have mentioned before there is a Michael Turberville who is the leader (similar to Maureeen!)of a group of people like ourselves and their name is CAMPAIGNS - which stands for Children and Maternal Parents Against Immigration and Government Nationality Situations - he has 300 people like ourselves on his data base !! So I will see if I can find him, which maybe I can do from Lord Avebury and I will also ask Lord Avebury if he feels it would be of benefit or detriment to our case...so glad you found Eric to be so beneficial Tim - he is really our Johanna Lumley and they both deserve knighthood! Enjoy your weekend everyone ! Kerry

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  61. Hello everyone, I too initially found Michael Tuberville and think getting all of his campaigners on board would be a great thing. However, I feel slightly in the minority here since my situation is slightly different in that my son and I are resident here and have been for some length of time. We are also more focused on the 1983 date being abolished, in fact all dates being abolished since there surely can be no statute of limitations in removing discrimination. Everything I have read so far is very encouraging and I am keen to stay with it no matter what it takes. I will be petitioning the European Parliament in the same way as I have sought the assistance of my MP, albeit to no avail, at least I am in a position to act from within as it were. Going off for a few days break to Chester so I won't be in touch until the middle of next week but still willing and able to fight the good fight. Hope everyone has a good bank holiday weekend wherever you are !! Elizabeth

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  62. I have written to Michael Turberville, the CAMPAIGNS Chairman and he replied that "It is just a matter of time now, waiting for the long promised bill to become an act and then enacted." I gather he also feels we have to accept the registration fee. This is what Michael wrote to me: "There will always be fees and you are right those children of british fathers born before 83 don't have to pay, but when it was equalised in 81 for all those born after 01 jan 83... they all have to pay fees."

    I'm pleased the bill is progressing but I'm still quite disappointed to hear about the registration fee. I find it unbelievable that the government will be able to charge £540 to claim British citizenship by descent. It seems quite wrong that any fee for "registering" for British citizenship is required but such a high fee seems way out of line to me.

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  63. Perhaps this is when we all should write to Greg's MP contacts (email adresses in his blog)and also get friends and family to get in and email also,it isn't just the £540 cost, but the continued discrimination that still screams sexism by making us pay for registration. For better or worse it is now in the hands of MP's so we obviously need to appeal to their sense of fair play, and hope they aren't all ratbags who are looking at the revenue it will produce. After the rape of heritage rights they have witheld for over 60 years I feel that it is us that should be compensated, not them, and a formal apology given to our mothers who were totally igonored by their country of birth, even though they fought in the British armed forces to save the UK from being part of Germany..Kerry

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  64. Kerry, I agree that we should still try to fight against this registration fee. As you say, it isn't just the cost but the fact that it's still discrimination.

    I'm not ready to give up the battle yet.

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  65. Kerry + Mal,

    I fully agree with your views of involving media as it is very effective way.

    I have been reading valuable comments / opinions of all affectees.

    Request, opinion of all others involved, whether or not we take this route to seek justice.

    Regards,
    JP

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  66. JP, I have a feeling we may have to involve the media however I'm still quite reluctant to. I don't want to jeopardize my application for British citizenship if involving the media backfires on us.

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  67. Greg, I appreciate the email addresses for the Group on Human Rights and the Group on Sex Equality. I agree that it makes sense to contact them because of the specific issues that relate to our complaint.

    I also agree that the risk associated with such a strategy is that it could lead to the Bill being completely withdrawn, and the process further delayed indefinitely. However, I think that is a risk worth taking because as the bill stands now, it is still discriminatory.

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  68. Tim. thank you so much for your encouraging news! I was very pleased to read your reply from Lord Avebury. It sounds like the bill can be amended so that the registration fee will be dropped! Let's hope this will actually be the case. I love the wording: "...which is the least we can do for those who will have had to wait so long." Indeed.

    I'm sorry to hear that you can't lodge a petition with the European Parliament as you aren't from a member state. As you point out (quite rightly), this limits you since the discrimination is all about denying anyone from outside to become a member via birthright. Talk about a catch 22. It's crazy!

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  69. Thank you Zakia - JP for your comment, it is so appreciated. It is my opinion only, but think we are putting too much hope on the MP's to pass this bill. Once again I ask that you think of the Gurka's, of seemingly no importance to anyone that the Govt thought to squash without consequence, and had the world not heard of their plight thru different media avenues it would have been 'all over' for them.
    On the 18th July 2007 in the Hansard texts this comment was brought up in the House of Lords by Lord Avebury ...'I have a terrible feeling that what is really happening is that somewhere deep down in the Home Office an official is determined not to change his mind. It is time for the Minister to get hold of that official, or collection of officials, and bang their heads together'..truly it we don't make a squeek outside of ourselves we won't have a second chance to cry for Help..This person in the Home Office or Ministers Office is more than likely still there.The abuse and neglect of our mothers, and in turn ourselves should give us the gumption to roar like lions ! I will bounce it off Lord Avebury, but truly we only have a few months before the bill ..it literally is now or never - would welcome other comments/thoughts Best wishes K+M

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  70. I agree that we probably don't have long before the bill is approved and we need to get this "registration" part of the bill resolved (requiring a payment for registration is still discriminating against us) but I was hoping we could do so without contacting the media.

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  71. I thought I would comment on the question of the media. I have written to all the leading British newspapers over the years thinking they would be interested but as far as I know, not one of my letters was ever published. I also contacted Jeremy Paxman some years ago, as he had done a programme on immigration. He seemed interested at the time but he never replied to further letters I wrote to him. Maybe the media has changed! I know it can have massive impact here in the US.

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  72. Tim, how sad that all your letters over the years appeared to be ignored. I'm not sure if the media would be interested or not now but we may have to try that route as a last resort to force attention on this issue so we can all get our rightful claim to British citizenship without the continued discrmination by requiring we register.

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  73. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  74. Hi Maureen
    I realy appriciate your work trough this blog. I have one small question please if you can help me with this. My name is Keyur. My date of birth is 26/08/1981. I have Indian Nationality. My mother is British Citizen. She acquitred her Citizen by Birth in British Colonies (Mombasa Africa). Her date of birth is 24-09-1954. At present she is settled in UK with my father holding Indian Nationality. I have never granted permission By British embessey in India dispite of several application.
    My question is will i be eligible to the Citizenship after this law changes.
    Thanking You
    Keyur

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  75. Hello Keyur,
    I'm puzzled about the refusal from the British embassy. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm qualified to answer your question but I can refer you to this page from the UK Home Office website which provides details of how a person born before 1983 to a British mother can register as a British citizen:

    "Can I register as a British citizen if I was born before 1983 to a British mother?"

    http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk/britishcitizenship/eligibility/registration/britishmother/

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  76. Thanking you for your reply. I will look forward to it.

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  77. I am reporting on a new experience for anyone who has to face the same ordeal. I am now required to have a visa to enter Britain, even if I only change planes at Heathrow, for the first time in forty years. I applied on-line and was directed to make an appointment for finger-printing and biometric photographing at one of the listed Application Support Center's here in the USA near to where I am staying. We went there on Wednesday at the appointed time and were very surprised to find it is a US center whose services are used by the British Consulate. It is in a very neat, clean building with the most helpful and friendly people attending. We only waited about ten minutes and then I was "printed" and photographed. This is sent electonically to the British Consulate in New York and I had to then post the stamped appointment form and the application which I had to print off after completing, by post. This cost $112.00 for a single visit visa to Britain. Travel is becoming extremely costly and frustrating.
    Just more about the discrimination we face as children of British mothers who have no rights.

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  78. Thanks for sharing your experience, Tim. It's costly, and as you say it's another form of discrimination against children of British mothers. Absolutely disgraceful.

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  79. Hi Maureen, I'm afraid I'm in the same boat as Tim after June 30...However, an update on progress. The Bill will have its 2nd reading in the Commons on June 2 (at which there will be a debate). I've had some responses to the many e-mails I have sent, and in most instances, it seems that people are completely unaware of the proposed continuing discrimination against children of British mothers. The responses have been overwhelmingly supportive, so I am confident that the issues we have raised will at least be heard in the debates that will follow. The "bad" news is that given the long time lag between the Lords and Commons processes, it would seem to be impossible that the Bill will be passed before the 3 month recess of Parliament in July, so we will have to wait until at least October/November for things to be finalised.

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  80. Hi Greg, Thanks for the update. I'm pleased and encouraged by your responses to your emails. We will definitely have made some progress for our case if the issues about the registration fee will at least be heard in the debates in the Commons.

    I know we have all waited a long time already but I think it will be better for all of us now if the bill takes a bit longer to be finalised - particularly if it means the registration fee will be addressed. Let's hope that is the case.

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  81. So sorry to hear of all the troubles both Tim and Greg are having. Like Maureen I'm encouraged to hear that the subject of the discriminatory registration process might be part of the debate and hope it, and the 1961 and 1983 cut-off dates will all be abolished. I've written again to my MP urging him to raise his voice when the Bill is debated and to vote for all of the discrimination in the Act to be ended once and for all. Still waiting for a response.

    One question I do have is does anyone know what Lord Avebury meant by Clause 46 applicants in his letter to Lord West of Spithead, as mentioned in Tim's post of 2 May ?

    We've had another nonsense here in Scotland where a guy who has lived here for 63 years since he was 3 months old was branded as an illegal alien when he returned from holiday, presumably because he didn't have the ILR stamp in his Canadian passport. His UK born mother was a war bride who came back to the UK after splitting with his father almost 63 years ago. He has been given 8 weeks to produce the necessary documentation otherwise he will be deported.

    The email address of the journalist who wrote the piece is j,mceachran@dailyrecord.co.uk. in case anyone should feel it would do any good to contact him about the discrimination. The guy in the article is Arnold Good who obviously being born before 1961 has no rights whatsoever for the moment.

    I was interested to read in the article a statement from the UK Border Agency that "Those who have been settled in the UK since before 1973 can apply for a document to confirm their entitlement to live and enter the UK without restriction" and that "This is currently free of charge". It may not help in the citizenship/passport stakes but perhaps worthwhile pursuing if anyone meets the criteria.

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  82. Elizabeth, I'm still waiting for a reply from my MP too. It's quite disheartening when we don't even get a reply!

    I checked TheyWorkForYou.com and I found this about clause 46 under Lord Avebury's page on the site:

    House of Lords
    British Citizenship

    Lord Avebury (Liberal Democrat) | Hansard source

    To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will amend the paragraph on the UK Border Agency website page www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk/britishcitizenship/eligibility/registration/britishmother headed "Children of British mothers—proposed changes", to explain the provisions of clause 46 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill affecting the child born abroad to a British mother before 7 February 1961, giving the persons concerned advance notice of their right to register as a British citizen when Part 2 of the Bill comes into effect.

    Lord West of Spithead (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Security and Counter-terrorism), Home Office; Labour) | Hansard source

    An announcement anticipating this change has been on the UKBA website since 16 July 2008. We are in the process of updating this to reflect the current progress of the Bill.

    __________________

    That's absolutely dreadful about that poor man suddenly needing to produce documentation otherwise he will be deported. The way he is being treated is heartless and shameful, especially when it's obvioue Scotland is the only home he knows.

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  83. Thanks for your reply Maureen. On the website of the newspaper running the article there are several comments posted by people who have experienced difficulty getting back into the UK from holiday but I wasn't clear whether any of them were born to British mothers. Still I guess any publicity is good publicity and the more people hear about our plight the better I think. I am concerned that on 2 June they will get so bogged down in all the detail of the other parts of the Bill that any further changes we might want to push through will be forgotten.

    I am also concerned now when reading some of the stipulations on the various different levels of permission to stay in the UK that they will put a time limit on things like the Indefinite Leave to Remain stamp my son has in his US passport thereby forcing him down the route of registration or naturalisation even though "indefinite" should mean just that. These bureaucrats will stop at nothing to save making changes !! Anyway, I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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  84. Elizabeth, I agree that any publicity is good publicity!

    I am trying to remain optimistic about the Bill but as you point out it could get bogged down by all the details of the other parts of the bill.

    I sincerely hope there won't be any time limits put on the ILR stamp because as you say "indefinite" should mean just that!

    Thanks, I hope you enjoy your weekend too.

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  85. I have just received a reply regarding the fees from the Home Office - Jane Whitehead as follows:-
    The amendments to section 4C of the British Nationality Act 1981 have not yet been formalised by Parliament. However, at the current time it is not the Government's intention to dispense with the registration fee in such cases.

    We do not have figures for the number of people who might qualify for registration if section 4C is amended. Of those successfully applying under other sections, we are not able to ascertain how many could have applied under section 4C but for the 1961 cut-off date, as the mother’s place of birth is not recorded. However, the lobby group CAMPAIGNS (Children and Maternal Parents Against Immigration & Government Nationality Situation) has estimated that up to 10,000 could benefit, although we have no way of telling whether this is a reasonable figure. However, even if the number of those who will qualify and apply is a fraction of that figure, this will have a significant impact on UKBA's resources.


    UKBA use a number of factors to determine the fees, working within strict financial limits agreed with HM Treasury. Fees are no longer set on a straightforward cost recovery basis but more flexibly to cover the full end to end cost of the immigration system and by taking into account the value of a successful application in terms of entitlements and benefits to the migrant. The fee levels have been set following extensive consultation and the current fee levels are supported by this research. It demonstrated that British Nationality brings many benefits that applicants value very highly. These include the right to vote in general elections and eligibility to apply for a British Passport which provides the holder with the right of free movement throughout the European Union, removing the necessity to apply and pay for visas to visit those countries.



    The costs of processing an application do not vary according to the length of time a person has spent in the UK or their personal circumstances. The Government thinks it right that the fees are charged to the users of the system who benefit from the services and entitlements we offer. The charging system must balance the interests of those who use the system, in terms of the price paid for consideration of their application, and the interests of the general UK taxpayer, who will continue to support the immigration system that brings benefits and enrichment to this country.



    All those applying for registration or naturalisation as a British citizen are required to pay a fee. The Government does not think it would be right to exclude those applying under section 4C, when others with a connection with the UK , such as British nationals who have lived here for a continuous period or the minor children of British citizens by descent, are required to pay a fee. If they were to exempt this particular group, there would then be pressure to waive the fee for further groups, or for individuals in particular circumstances. This could then result in a situation where certain applicants for citizenship had to meet the costs of others who were not required to pay a fee.
    I am sorry this is not a more welcome reply.

    Jane Whitehead
    Should anyone wish to write to her and tell her that this is a load of rubish and that children of males or females have the right to be equal her email address is :-
    Jane.Whitehead@UKBA.gsi.gov.uk
    Best wishes K+ M

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  86. Kerry and Mal, It's infuriating, I agree. Tim sent me a copy of a very similar (depressing) letter regarding the fees, only his letter was a reply from Lord Avebury about the issue which he forwarded to Lord West.

    The registration fee is obviously to cover all the red-tape involved in granting us our long-overdue right to British citizenship. And the longer the Bill is delayed, the more the fee seems to grow. And why must we pay a fee to cover "...the services and entitlements we offer." What an insult. It's outrageous.

    I'm becoming quite depressed about the way we continue to be discriminated against. It's an absolute disgrace.

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  87. Wow! I read all this weekend's correspondence with (to quote Bush's tactic) "SHOCK AND AWE". I am totally 'gobsmacked' at the attitude being adopted by the British Government. It totally ignores the fact that we are talking about a BIRTH-RIGHT. I am not an alien wanting to benefit from what Britain can offer. I want the same as my siblings have, to be British by Birth. Dare I claim an entitlement? And that is for every child born today, a FREE right with no attached charges. However, as I mentioned in a much earlier comment to you, all the many responses I have received from the British Government over the past 40 years have all shown the same total arrogance to the problem. I would think that the British Government would be looking to offer reparation for their longstanding gross discrimination against their own women, not continue to pile on the damage and insults.

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  88. Here's a challenge for everyone! The explanation by the ILPA (Immigration Law Practitioner's Association of Great Britain)of Clause 46. I have found their website very useful at times.
    http://www.ilpa.org.uk/briefings/BCI%20HL%20Comm/09.03.02%20ILPA%20HL%20Comm%20Common%20Travel%20Area.pdf
    See what you can make of it.

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  89. My apologies but I meant to ask this in my two previous notes. Can anyone recommend members of the Commons that we could write to to press our point about the registration fees?

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  90. Hello K&M. Your response from Jane Whitehead is a regurgitation of the letter I received last year when I wrote to UKBA and my MP received. I will send her an email stating what I've said before, if the numbers of people they refer to will cause a strain on the UKBA's resources, why not scrap the whole registration process which should negate their costs ? I think we need to involve as many people as we can to write to MPs, UKBA, Human Rights etc even if they are only friends or relatives because it seems to me that this government or its agencies do nothing until they are embarrassed into it by the press.

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  91. Elizabeth that was always my thinking but I know Maureen has had reservations about press and publicity. I realise that we are of no interest to a lot of people, but we are people who have been ignored for long enough.We need backing from someone with a voice that won't be ignored like a Joanna Lumley. Lord Avebury has done so much and tried so hard for us that I think he needs to know that we are immensely appreciative - perhaps Tim we should ask Eric (Lord Avebury)who is the best person to target to pursue our rights further...I will try and do a little light reading on the webpage you mentioned also! Take Care K+M

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  92. Hi everyone, I was just amazed by the content of Ms Whitehead's letter to Kerry & Mal! The reference to "entitlements" & "benefits" shock me beyond belief. We must not lose sight of teh principle that is at issue here. The issue is that the evolving legislative regime makes a differentiation in the process of determining the nationality of people, on the basis of paternity or through the maternal line. If the registration procees (and associated fees) were applicable to children of BOTH British mothers and fathers, we would all probably not have an issue with this. The fact that it is directed to the children of British mothers only is hugely discriminatory.
    I would have no problem paying the fees if this was applicable to all children born of British nationals - male or female. However, just because I am claiming my birthright on the basis of my mother's nationality, I do not understand why it should be different to do so on the basis of my father's nationality. These mandarins just do not seem to be able to think rationally!!!

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  93. Tim, I'm finding it difficult to recommend members of the Commons that we could write to to press our point about the registration fees. I've been looking at the TheyWorkForYou site and using their search engine to find out who is involved with the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill, but everytime I think I have a name, it's to do with the other parts of the bill. It makes me mad that there wasn't a separate bill to remedy our situation.

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  94. Elizabeth and K+M, I think writing to MPs and as many others as we can think of is a good idea but it is difficult to know who would be the best person to contact and would be most likely to help us. Asking Lord Avebury for suggestions is a good idea.

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  95. Hello everyone. I have been thinking about asking friends and relatives to write to their MPs so that we could get a lot more people contacting a lot more MPs. I'm not sure if it will do any good but at least we would be highlighting to as many people as we could.

    I agree that we need a Joanna Lumley and did think about asking Michael Turberville if he could contact Guy Siner, the actor who is a member of CAMPAIGNS. You can read all about him and his circumstances on the CAMPAIGNS website. www.turberville.org/IND/campaigns).

    He may not be able to help since it would appear that he is more or less exiled now but it might be worth considering, especially since the removal of the 1961 cut-off date will allow him to at least register whereas before he had no rights whatsoever even though he had lived in the UK for 35 years.

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  96. That's a good idea, Elizabeth. It's worth a try.

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  97. Sent off my letter to Eric (Lord Avebury)so fingers crossed we may hear his views on MP's to target,media contacts etc..Another area I will target is the British Forces as my mother was in the Air Force during the War so perhaps they can lend some weight. Being Australian I was thinking of approaching Kathy Lette (Comedian, Author) she is also married to a Barrister that deals with Eqality in 3 rd countries I think (unless I dreamt that!)Also perhaps Radio Talk shows as you never know who may be listening..Meanwhile this todays happy email from Jane at the Home Office when I asked about children of males paying:-
    Dear Mr Dooley,

    Thank you for your e-mail.

    I appreciate your concerns about having to pay a fee for registration under section 4C. However, when the government introduced section 4C in 2002 they stated that they could only go so far to "right the wrongs of history". At that time they made the decision to provide for the children of British mothers through a registration position, rather than giving them citizenship automatically.

    It will be a decision for Ministers as to whether these registrations should be exempt from paying a fee in the future (although those born after 1961 who can currently apply are required to pay a fee), but the current thinking is that they should pay for the costs of their application in the same way as those applying under other sections.

    I'm afraid there is nothing further I can add.

    Jane

    Jane Whitehead
    Policy Manager
    Nationality Policy Team
    North West Region
    UK Border Agency

    Tel: 0151 213 1870
    Fax: 0151 213 1995
    All hate mail can be directed to the above address..In the words of the wonderful poet and singer America's Harry Chapin.... 'This sucks!' Take care ..Kerry

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  98. Thanks for sharing the letter, Kerry. And your ideas for potential oontacts sounds promising.

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  99. Interesting to note that the media coverage and protests have worked for the Gurkhas! Is there any hope for us "children"? Next reading in The House is 2nd June.

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  100. I wish we had someone famous rooting for us like the Gurkhas did.

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  101. Hi all: I have been in touch with a couple of quite powerful groups who are preparing submissions to Parliament for the 2nd Reading stage debate, and who will certainly be supportive. I'm not too hopeful that we will win this, though. Government seeems insistent on maintaining the "registration" mechanism, because it allows them discretion about whom they will allow to obtain British nationality. The view seems to be that they are making a "concession" to rectify this historical anomaly, and that this is far as they are prepared to go.

    On another note, I'm still concerned that our issue will be put in the shade, given the other highly contentious issues within the Bill (earned nationality; illegal migrants, etc). So it is unlikely that it will receive the attention it deserves. I also think that there is a long road ahead before the Bill is finally passed: highly unlikely before the recess in July. In any event, I still think it will be important for all of us to communicate with as many MPs as possible, just to raise their awareness. From my communications with both individuals and organisations, I have got the impression that very few are aware of the ongoing discrimination that this Bill will entrench - even though I think that the principle will ultimately be sacrificed to political expediency.

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  102. Hi again: Just to follow up on my earlier message. I have had a response from one of the most powerful legal lobby groups, that confirmed my earlier concerns. Their view is that our "issue" really pales in comparison with other issues that the Bill addresses. The fact that it is being remedied through the Section 4C "registration process" would probably be viewed as a good compromise, because the time and attention of lawmakers will be on different aspects of the Bill. So I guess those who want to exercise their rights would need to start saving to pay the registration fees, and be prepared to provide proof of "good character"! It's ironic that if our fathers were British, we would have automatically been judged good enough to carry a British passport. Children of British mothers from our era are obviously not held in the same high esteem.

    The positive view is that at least SOMETHING is being done - even though it falls short of the correct solution. For me, it is a matter of principle (I do not want to live in the UK), but for many people who have found their lives and families devastated by these injustices, the proposed changes will open the doors to allow people to lead normal lives - albeit at a great cost; and at the discretion of the Home Secretary! As I said in an earlier comment: it's now watch and wait. Keep engagaing your MPs!

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  103. Thanks, Greg! I don't have time to reply properly right now but I appreciate all the info you are sharing.

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  104. Greg, thank you for all your information. I find the continuing excuses for charging us, discrimination at its worst. I don't know who they expect can afford to pay the total costs of approximately seven hundred pounds when it is free for any child born today. Like myself, I would imagine many who will qualify are from outside Britain with currency rates against the pound excessive. I am fortunate that an aunt in England recently died and left me enough money to cover the estimated costs.

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  105. Greg, I was worried about the Bill as soon as they lumped us in with the other issues. As you say, the positive view is that something is finally being done but it still isn't fair.

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  106. Hello everyone. I totally agree that the huge fee which seems to be getting bigger all the time is completely unjustified. In my son's case I feel it is appalling since he already contributes a huge sum to the UK by paying all the different taxes related to having a home, driving a car and working here, not to mention the VAT on everything he buys, and he still can't vote or apply direct for a UK passport !! When I see all the scandal presently going on in the Houses of Parliament re expense claims it makes my blood boil even more.

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  107. I never thought about it that way but the way you put it is an excellent way to demonstrate just how unfair the registration fee is, Elizabeth.

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  108. I have written a letter to Phil Woolas and Damian Green (Immigration and Shadow Immigration Ministers) concerning the fees. As I had written to them last year appealing for our rights I felt I could follow up with an appeal against the fees. I quoted Lord West's reason for charging us a fee and concluded, "I wish to bring to your attention that in debating this amendment, hopefully on the 2nd July, you would point out to those supporting the charging of fees and the requirement of references, that we, the children of British mothers, are NOT aliens or foreigners residing in Britain and wanting to benefit from the British system as implied, but children claiming their BIRTH-RIGHT, as the children of British fathers automatically have. It is not for us to pay for the entire immigration system as suggested by Lord West. We have a RIGHT to equality before the law and therefore our registration should be free like any other child born to a British parent and we should not be required to produce character references. We ARE a different group and I find this extremely disappointing to be linked with any other group. I have waited sixty two years for this right and I would have hoped that the British Government would have seen this as a gesture of reparation for the many years we all faced this discrimination, not a way to make money.

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  109. Wow - Tim, I think what you've written is excellent. It will be very interesting to find out what their replies will be.

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  110. Hi all: Let's hope that Tim's letter gets to their attention. I've had a response from Lord West (via the Home Office) that restates their position, but also raises some of the complexities they are trying to deal with. I've also read the "Equality Impact Assessment" that was commissioned to look specifically at the impact of this Bill on equality issues. It totally ignores the impact of their proposals on children of British mothers, other than to conclude that the Bill will go some way towards removing discrimination against women. I was shocked that a report such as this, which was commissioned to inform decision-makers, and obviously cost a fortune in consultancy fees, should fail to highlight the glaring discrimination that will remain after the Bill is passed!

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  111. That's very interesting, Greg. And as you say, it's shocking that the report didn't mention the ongoing discrimination by applying the registration fees.

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  112. I became concerned that my letters to Damian Green and Phil Woolas might not reach them in time so I e-mailed a copy to each Minister. I had a reply from Damian Green thanking me, but no comment, and Phil Woolas was out of office so I will call the number on Monday that his automatic reply gave and try and ensure that he at least gets to read my letter. As I have mentioned before, the feeling I have had over the years of appealing is that no-one really cares and no-one was ever prepared to tackle this issue. As I think most of us know, until one is faced with a situation one never truly understands the feelings of being discriminated against. This is one of two major discrimination issues I face in my life and it is not always easy. But, slowly there is, hopefully, always progress.

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  113. Tim, That's disappointing that you didn't get any comments (other than thanks) back from Damian Green but hopefully you will get a reply from Phil Woolas when he gets back to his office on Monday.

    I'm trying to remain optimistic but I know what you mean. It does feel like no-one (in Government) really cares.

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  114. Isn't it interesting that the people who have been abusing public funds are the very people wanting to charge us exorbitant fees for our birth-right?

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  115. Hi all: Yesterday was the 2nd Reading of the Bill in the Commons. I haven't seen anything about the outcome yet. However, I discovered another disturbing fact. The Home Office mandarins seem to be doing everything possible to delay implementing the clause of the Bill that affects us, once it is finally passed. Apparently, the intention is not to "activate" the provision immediately, but to wait for a "few months" in order to give the Border Agency time to put the necessary processes in place to process our registrations....what next?

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  116. Tim, that thought crossed my mind too.

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  117. Greg, that is a very disturbing piece of news. It's bad enough that we've been discriminated against in the first place and then having to wait for this Bill to be apporoved but to make us all wait even longer while they put processes in place to process our registrations, is just outrageous. They already know this is going through parliament so why aren't they preparing now? It seems to me to be a convenient way to delay enforcing the law even after it is finally amended.

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  118. Tim/Maureen
    Me too on Tim's last comment. Even worse is that it is up to Jacqui Smith to determine if the applicant is of "good character" before being allowed their birth right. What about her good character ????

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  119. It has taken me the best part of today to read the report of yesterday's 2nd Reading of the Bill and I am exhausted!! What can I say? It appears to be a mess. Greg, in support of your beliefs, I quote from an e-mail I received some time ago from the Policy Advisor for the UKBA, "Assuming the Bill passes this summer, the various provisions do not come into force immediately but this happens progressively. The timetable for that will not be known for some time."

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  120. Tim, I agree - trying to read the report of the reading of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill makes for exhausting reading. The trouble is that our particular case barely gets mentioned, it's mostly about borders and immigration issues. And I agree with your conclusion - the Bill appears to be a mess. There are too many different issues to be debated, and I think our discrimination is getting pushed aside while the other issues take precedence.

    And it's truly depressing to think that not only do we have to wait while this bill gets debated in Parliament, but we will have to wait even longer once it is passed while they take time to put it into force. It would seem that the discrimination against us will be allowed to continue for some time.

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  121. Hi all: I've also briefly skimmed through the transcripts of the debate. The positive news is that Government wants to get this through before the long recess. The deadline for the Committee Stage is 18 June, after which the "Report Stage" and Third reading should happen in 2-3 weeks. The annoying part, though, is that we will have to wait for an indeterminate period after the law is passed...

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  122. Greg, yes that's good news although if the Bill gets pushed through quickly, we won't have any chance of the registration fee being addressed.

    And even once the Bill is passed, as you say, the amended law won't be put into effect immediately.

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  123. I too am affected by gender discrimination, but in another way - I cannot get UK citizenship through my British father because my parents didn't marry. The NIAA offered to correct this, but it only applied to children born after July 1, 2006. I too have been following the current Borders bill and will be happy when the cut off date is removed for those born to UK mothers. However, us illegitimate children won't get any glory. Our provision to correct our discrimination was withdrawn during the Lord's stages for the same registration "problems" that could cause. Lies I say!

    I have been in contact with several people, including Lord Avebury, Alison Harvey from the ILPA, and Alison Seabeck. I even received a letter from Jane Whitehead that gives the tired party line about problems with retrospective citizenship, which is all a bunch of excuses. I have passed on the letter to all of the above names I have mentioned.

    Ms. Seabeck is dealing with a case in her own constituency where the Home Office refuses to register the birth of William Watrin Cattrall (google his story) and has kindly addressed the issue of children born out of wedlock to British fathers during the 2nd reading of the Borders bill. I doubt anything will come of it, but hope it creates enough noise to compete with the current provision in the Commons.

    Hopefully, if the UK mothers provision passes, we can then piggyback to get our voices heard, especially since it's an issue of adult registration, which the government is having with us kids born out of wedlock (though I think they really just hate illegitimate children and don't think we're worthy of precious UK citizenship!).

    The problem with this is that we aren't lucky to have as much public support and representation as children born to British mothers currently do. I do hope that you folks keep us in mind as well - discrimination is discrimination. I hope if you all get your UK passports, you don't forget the others who are being discriminated because of their parent's status.

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  124. Hi Tabitha - You are so right, discrimination is discrimination. I hope your cause will get some attention too. The blatant discrimination is mind-boggling!

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  125. This is information for Tabitha. I did mention this in a much earlier comment to this discussion but I know it can be of great help if one can afford the legal fees in the UK. Once your case is set in motion you have to pay any legal fees incurred in Britain. The EU law states (You can find this on the internet) in "The Convention for the Protection for Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as amended by Protocol No. 11, Article 14; Prohibition of Discrimination: The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be procured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status...".

    I wrote to Strassbourg and they took up my case without hesitation. I never continued because the British Goverment announced the change to Section 4C regarding children of British mothers, in the new Borders Bill. The European Court does not tolerate any forms of discrimination in its member countries so do write to them and put your case out there. Their address is
    European Court of Human Rights
    Council of Europe
    F - 67075 Strasbourg
    CEDEX
    France
    Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 88 41 20 18
    Fax.: 00 33 (0)3 88 41 27 30

    It is well worth it as even if you do not go ahead with your claim, you have it on r ecord that you went to the Court of Human Rights.

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  126. Hi: There is potentially some good news for Tabitha: I note that one of the parties has filed an amendment to the Bill that will remove the discrimination with regard to children of unmarried parents. Watch this space!
    On another issue, a monumental fight seems to be brewing with regard to the Government's attempts to bring certain contentious clauses back into the Bill, that were defeated in the House of Lords. No word yet on our issue: however, I note that Ann Begg (one of the MP's I previously gave details of) is co-Chair of the Parliamentary Committee. It would be a good idea to write to her.

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  127. Thanks Tim and Greg! I will definitely digest your posts a little more later. Thanks Maureen for posting my comment. Let's end ALL discrimination against children of British parents! Alison Seabeck MP of Plymouth has agreed to forward my equality website onto the minister (Woolas I believe?). I doubt he'll do anything, but at least he'll know we're out there!

    I must add that Lord Avebury is a love. I haven't found anyone more helpful than he. He's truly a one of a kind person.

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  128. I just discovered that Harriet Harman is not only Leader of the House of Commons but also Minister for Women and Equality, so I faxed off a letter to her hopefully in time for the debates this week.

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  129. Let's hope that will prove useful, Tim! I have also discovered another contact and intend to write to him (his site provides a contact form).

    I was doing a search on Twitter.com about the Bill and found Paul Rowen, the MP for Rochdale has an account and he posted that he is sitting on the committee for the Borders, Citizenship & Immigration Bill. This is his laat "tweet" which was posted June 11th:

    "I am sitting on the committee for the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Bill challenging the Government and Tories about retrospectivity"

    And this is his official site:
    http://paulrowen.co.uk/

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  130. Hi everyone, Tim received a very interesting reply (via Jane Whitehead) to a letter he wrote to Phil Woolas, Minister of State for borders and immigration. Tim sent me a copy of the letter via email because he was having a problem trying to copy & paste parts of it into my blog. I offered to, and Tim agreed that I could share parts of the letter with everyone here.

    These are the pertinent paragraphs:

    "Section 4C is currently a registration provision, and so those making an application are required to pay a fee. The Government’s view is that section 4C should continue to be a registration provision, rather than changing the law so that citizenship would be acquired automatically by the adult children of British mothers. Although this does not put the children of British women on exactly the same footing as the children of British men, it gives the individual concerned the choice as to whether to take up British citizenship. This is because to suddenly bestow British citizenship on a person born in a foreign country before 1961 could cause problems, particularly where a person’s country of birth does not allow dual nationality. (A person might then lose their current nationality, which could have an effect on their right to live, work or own property in a territory).

    The amendments to section 4C of the British Nationality Act 1981 have not yet been formalised by Parliament. However, as you have seen from Lord West’s comments, it is not the Government’s intention to dispense with the registration fee in such cases."

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  131. Tim,

    I was wondering if you have it, if you could forward me a copy of what you wrote to the European Court of Human Rights so I can have an idea of a template to use. I'm seriously considering filing a case.

    Looks like the amendment (new clause 7) to change the law for children born out of wedlock to British fathers was squashed on June 18 in the Commons. I am stunned by the comments made by Woolas, though I shouldn't be considering his reputation.

    Just click on my name above and it will bring you to my website and contact information.

    Thanks,
    Tabitha

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  132. Hi all: I see that the Bill is due for its final stages in Parliament on July 14. For some of us, this may mean a partial redress of past wrongs, but I'm still very disappointed by the lack of interest of decision-makers to go the full course. The attitude seems to have been: "be grateful, at least we are doing something"! And we still have no idea when they will activate the amendment to Section 4C of the British Nationality Act...it is in the hands of the officials at the Home Office, and in previous cases, it has taken YEARS!

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  133. Today is the day that this Bill is being debated in Parliament. I watched all of it very intently but they ran out of time to discuss all the points of the bill. In fact, they never even mentioned chldren of British mothers! At 10pm, they announced that they aren't supposed to debate after 10pm so they suddenly stopped. I don't know when they will continue the debate. Logically it would be tomorrow but I'm not sure if that's the case or not.

    I've posted about the debate in parliament today on my blog:
    http://brilliantbritain.blogspot.com/2009/07/borders-citizenship-and-immigration.html

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  134. I am just amused at the next stage of the Bill being referred to as "Ping Pong". After all the formality displayed in Parliament and the way everyone addresses each other, it is a rather light-hearted break but hopefully it will pass to RA before the end of July.

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  135. Hi Tim, I can't find where the next stage of the Bill is referred to as "Ping Pong" - do you have a link? And what is "RA"?

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  136. If you refer to the "Bills in Parliament" web on http://services.parliament.uk/bills/ click on Borders, Immigration and Citizenship Bill and you will see that the next heading is PP dated for 21 July and the last stage is RA (Royal Assent) not yet dated but hopefully before they go into recess.

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  137. Thanks for the info, Tim! I've looked at that link many times but didn't notice that PP is known as ping pong. And that RA is Royal Assent.

    I wish there would be further debate about the registraton fee. I can't believe we have to pay that. It's so unfair. We wait all this time for the law to be amended and it still discriminates against us.

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  138. I am afraid I empathise with you but I worked for government in my home country many years ago and discovered the wheels of power grind incredibly slowly and are generally much more CONSERVATIVE than one imagines. I joined thinking I was going to make a difference and after five years left as I saw that it generally takes many years to bring real change. Look how long it has taken to bring our recognition. My Mother is more incensed with the fact that her child has never been recognised as a British citizen and some 63 years later some recognition is being given.

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  139. Hi all: The Bill has been passed and is now an Act. But we're still going to have to wait at the leisure of the Home Office before we can make an application. Start saving! Greg

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  140. Celebration. The Bill has Ascended. Even though it is not perfect this is a big step for equal rights.

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  141. Hi Greg and Tim - yes the Bill has passed. Yes, it's a big step in the right direction but it's still very unfair.

    We shouldn't be required to pay a registration fee and have to attend a citizenship ceremony.

    And we have to wait until at least July 2011 before the new rules take effect! I'm disgusted and depressed about the whole thing.

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  142. Congrats all! Good to know the bill has been passed.

    However, Maureen - I don't understand where you say: "we have to wait until atleast July 2011 before the new rules take effect!"

    Does this mean we can only apply in July 2011?

    - Javed

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  143. Hi Maureen: I think the 2011 date is for the "earned citizenship" provisions. Earlier correspondence between Lord Avebury and the Home Office indicated "about 2-3 months". Let's hope they keep their word! Greg

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  144. Hello everyone. Congrats to all those who have been waiting for this for so long. I'm afraid however I'm with Maureen in that the Act is still very discriminatory and totally unfair, especially for those already contributing to the economy of the UK. Maureen, I hope you don't feel that this is the end of the road and I hope also that all those who campaigned for the removal of the 1961 date will continue to campaign to have the registration process and ever increasing fee abolished altogether.

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  145. There hasn't been any official word yet of when the Bill goes into effect but I got the date, July 2011, from this article:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601102&sid=aXUMzf0aN0C8

    If the date is earlier for those of us seeking citizenship by descent, that is something I suppose but I'm still furious that we will be required to pay a fee.

    Elizabeth, I am feeling very discouraged and quite depressed now that this unfair bill has passed. I was hoping it wouldn't be passed since it still discriminates against us.

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  146. Hi Maureen, I hope this will ease your anxiety. I totally agree with you about the continuing discrimination, however, as I mentioned in previous comments to your blog that I found there was no interest in the UK in our plight> I wrote to many people including at one stage Vanessa Redgrave. She sadly never replied. BUT here is the response I received today from Jane Whitehead to my query about when will the Bill become effective.


    "The nationality provisions within the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 need to be commenced by Order. This cannot be done earlier than 2 months after Royal Assent.

    We will be working with lawyers on this, and intend to commence these provisions by early 2010. We will keep our website updated with any progress on this.

    The website address is as follows: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/britishcitizenship/.

    On the right hand side of that page there is a list of news updates. We are currently updating the site to take into account the fact that the Bill has now received Royal Assent."

    We can only hope for a prompt outcome.

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  147. Hi Tim. I also wrote to MPs and never received replies. Most discouraging and also undermines my faith in the political system.

    Thanks for the info regarding the commencement date, and the link. I have been checking that link regularly and noticed it doesn't yet provide a date as to when it will affect us.

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  148. Hi all: We are at the mercy of the Home Office mandarins! The 2010 date is NOT the commitment that Lord Brett made to Lord Avebury in writing! He said it would be a MAXIMUM of 2-3 months. Perhaps, someone who is in touch with Lord Avebury should inform him of Ms Whitehead's letter? Greg

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  149. Has anyone written to Lord Avebury? I would gladly pen him if no-one else has.

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  150. Nice of you to offer, Tim. I don't think it will help but I suppose you could write to Lord Avebury and see what he says.

    I finally got a reply to one of my emails. It's interesting (and extremely disappointing!)that I got a reply *after* the bill had passed.

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  151. Hi all: I received a reply from Lord Avebury. He confirms that the Home Office will only be activating the clause in January 2010, so there is still a long wait ahead for us! Let's hope they don't increase the fees in the interim.....

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  152. I appreciate the info, Greg. Thanks.

    I think the way the Government included our important issue in with the other unrelated parts of the bill was just a convenient way to postpone the change we've all been waiting for.

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  153. Hello all, I have just come to this site recently and feel like a johnny come lately, however may I say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has assisted in this effort. I first investigated British citizenship in the early 80's and was told that while I was welcome to come and work without a visa, having four British grandparents, one British mother and a father who was born a British subject (before the days of Canadian citizenship)-I was not eligible for citizenship.
    I agree that registering and fee paying are not equal under the law. Nonetheless, I will hop the final roadblocks towards claiming my heritage right and honouring my parents. For that I am very grateful.

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  154. Hello Anne, I'm pleased you found my blog! Yes the registration fee is definitely unfair and still discriminates against us but as you say, you will be able to claim your right to British citizenship.

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  155. Hi Maureen, Have you seen the new update to the UKBA website. Registration will commence in January but there is also a public consultation set up by Phil Woolas to discuss charges for immigration and visa fees. Maybe everyone should send in their comments. Just to remind you of the web address;
    http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/newsarticles/2009/september/charging-consultation?area=Citizenship

    Hope everyone is feeling the excitement of finally being granted our birth-right.

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  156. Hi Tim - thank you for posting the link with the update to the UKBA website. That's very interesting that there will be a public consultation to discuss charges for immigration and visa fees. Thanks again for the info!

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  157. Happened to stumble upon this blog, and I am so happy and relieved to have done so. I am only sad that my British mother died almost a year ago and isn't able to share in my happiness that this terrible sexist wrong has finally been changed. Not perfect with all the fees and hoops we, the adult children of British mothers, must go through, but still, this is an immeasurable improvement in our legal status.

    Thanks so much to all of you for fighting the good fight and sharing all this information.

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  158. Hello - you're welcome! I'm so pleased the information on my blog has been helpful to you. As you say, the fees and hoops we have to go through aren't fair but the good news is that we will finally be able to claim our right to British citizenship.

    I'm very sorry that your British mother died and won't be able to share in your happiness.

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  159. Hello everyone. I thought I would let you know that I have sent an e-petition to No 10 Downing Street urging the PM to bring pressure to bear on the UKBA to abolish this unfair and discriminatory registration/fee presently required by the Borders, Immigration & Citizenship Bill. The link is below and anyone resident or a UK citizen can add their name. I've sent it out to everyone in my circle asking them to forward it to anyone else they can think of.

    I'm also waiting to hear if my petition to the European Parliament has been accepted and will update you on that. It did occur to me that if we could ask everyone we know in the UK to petition the European Human Rights people we might get enough people to bring about some sort of action.

    Hope springs eternal :)

    Here's the link to my e-petition:

    http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/UKmothers/

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  160. Wow - Elizabeth, you've been busy! I'm very impressed. I will sign the petition, of course.

    I've been thinking about approaching the European Parliament about the unfair registration fee. I'm really impressed that you've done so already. Well done! I'm not sure how it works. Do we each have to submit a separate petition to the European Parliament?

    Thank you for sharing all this information and such encouraging news. You're a star!

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  161. Hi Maureen

    So glad my post got through. I was having a bit of a problem with it so apologies if it came through more than once.

    As far as the European Parliament is concerned I'm not sure my petition has been accepted yet since it has to go through the channels and if there is another similar petition then it will be rejected so I don't think that will be helpful at the moment. Perhaps once it has been accepted, we can all do the same thing as we've done for the No 10 petition. I'll keep you posted on that one.

    Looking down through past posts I was interested to see that Courtney wrote in March of this year about the European Court of Human Rights and I think it would be great to get as many people as we can emailing them (once I find out what the email address is) so that we can bring pressure to bear on them. Just a thought.

    My son has posted his plight on his facebook and also on his local bikers forum and is getting sign-ups as we speak so hopefully if all those posting on your blog can engage all of their acquaintances then we could be gathering in numbers quite quickly.

    Elizabeth

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  162. Okay, thanks for the additional information, Elizabeth.

    I've posted the link to the petition on twitter and will mention it again regularly to try and get as many signatures as possible. (Twitter is reallly useful for spreading news and asking for help).

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  163. Hello! I'm in the same boat as Tabitha: I am the child of a British father who (for reasons beyond his control, actually) did not (was not allowed to) marry my mother. The denial of my birthright has been a burden to me (and to my father) all my life, and now it is interfering with my right to enjoy family life, since without British nationality I am only the citizen of a country which does not allow me to take my husband's name after marriage. Because I am a second-class child, I am doomed to be a second-class wife. (And yes, I also don't think the change of name should be imposed - it should be a choice, in both directions).

    I have to point out that, having been born in 1978, if I had been the child of an unmarried British mother rather than an unmarried British father, I would have British nationality by now. So as Tabitha said, discrimination is discrimination and it can be wielded against men, not just against women. The legitimate/illegitimate discrimination was mobilised only in the case of fathers (despite the fact that illegitimacy was retroactively abolished in English and Scots law sometime in the 1980s - another incongruity).

    I also have to say that I wish I had the luxury of simply paying a fee, no matter how high, to claim the nationality which is my birthright. I don't even have the option. I would gladly bankrupt myself to claim my birthright, and this is no exaggeration.

    Discrimination is discrimination - we are all in this together, despite the differences in details, so let's not give up the fight. We know we are British. Let them admit it. -Ants.

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  164. I agree with you - discrimination is discrimination and it can be wielded against men, not just against women. This post is about the amendment to the law regarding children of British mothers but you're right, the amendment to the law should have addressed the circumstances such as your situation too.

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  165. Hi Maureen

    I have been travelling for the past two weeks and have just caught up with your blog. This is going to be long as I want to quote from a letter I received from the UKBA. First though I would like to comment on Elizabeth's letter. I wrote to the EU Court in January 2008 and received a reply in late February or early March 2008. As you might remember from an earlier letter to you, they had opened a case file based on my claim of discrimination by the British Government regarding being a child of a British mother. They gave me six months to decide whether I wanted them to go ahead with the case. If I didn't reply within six months, the case would be automatically cancelled. As I heard in time that the law could change in my favour through the new Immigration Bill I did not go forward with the case. Of course it saved me enormous legal fees. Also, as anonymous mentioned, I now feel that I will pay whatever they want just to get my passport. HOWEVER, I have some further news. I wrote to Mr Phil Woolas and received a very long reply from his office. I am re-typing part of the letter as I can't scan and paste so I won't be able to quote the whole letter!!! Here it is: You have asked why you should be required to pay a fee to register as this is about gaining equal rights. Amendments to section 4C are indeed designed to further regularise the treatment of men and women under English law with a view to rectifying the discrimination that was inherent within earlier legislation. However, section 4C will continue to be a registration entitlement requiring those making an application to pay a fee. The fact it is a registration entitlement enables those who will be able to benefit from registration under this provision to CHOOSE if they wish to register. It is the Government's position that section 4C should continue to be a registration provision rather than the law being changed so that citizenship would be acquired automatically. It would be inappropriate to bestow Bristish citizenship on a person born in a foreighn country before 1961 as this could cause legal and technical difficluties, most notably where a person's country of birth does not allow dual nationality. A person might then lose their current nationality, which could have an adverse impact on their right to live, work or own property in their country. (End of quote) hope this throws some light on the issue but I still don't know why we can't pay the normal registration fee of about 69 pounds (I think this is what it costs) rather than the 540?

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  166. Hi Tim - thanks for sharing the information contained in the letter to you. As you point out, quite rightly, why is the cost set so high?

    And thanks for explaining about your situation with the EU Court. I didn't realize there would be legal fees. I (naively) thought the EU provided assistance to people who came forward with a claim. I can certainly see why you dropped your case since it would cost you enormous legal fees.

    I'm still hoping the petition that Elizabeth started will get enough signatures to shame the government into admitting there is indeed still a case of discrimination against us, and that the situation will be rectified once and for all. We deserve our right to British citizenship by descent - and without the required registration and exorbitant fee.

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  167. Hi Tim and Maureen The wording in Tim's letter is exactly the same as the wording in the very first letter I got from UKBA so I'm afraid it's not really new information but just the well thought out blurb that no-one can contest in an attempt to put us off.

    I've heard that in order for petitions to get anywhere we really need something in excess of 20,000 signatures which I'm not sure my sphere of friends will generate but I live in hope. At least I've left it open for a year and hopefully a bit more than 49 names will start appearing on it. I think I may have to put out another email to my friends to remind them to open the email they receive once they have clicked on "sign" and activate their signature. This could be why some people who say they have signed it, don't appear on the list. My son said it took a day or two for his email to come through so perhaps some day soon we'll get a whole bunch more signatures appearing.

    I got a reply from the European Parliament stating that my petition has been forwarded to the Committee on Petitions which will take a decision on its admissibility, i.e. on whether the subject of the petition falls within the sphere of activities of the European Union. I'm not sure it will be admissible because the petitions website states that the European Parliament can't consider any petition against a policy that is purely internal to the member state.

    Again, I live in hope that something will work in our favour and someone will see this discrimination for what it is.

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  168. Elizabeth, it's dispiriting to see we aren't getting more signatures on the petition. I've been posting the link on twitter regularly but I can't seem to get the attention it deserves. I just can't believe the government can get away with such blatant discrimination!

    I was hoping the European Parliament would be our last great hope but now it sounds like we can't depend on them either. I'm feeling very discouraged now.

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  169. Hi Maureen - I'm so sorry I didn't mean to discourage you. I'm just going to hang in there and hope that eventually we might get the publicity and backing we deserve. After all, the fight to remove the 1961 cut off date took years so I suppose it might take a while for them to realise the registration process is still unfair and discriminatory. I only hope that not too many people will cave in and pay the fee which could undermine our stance.

    Unfortunately I can believe this government can get away with discrimination because they are getting away with everything else in this double standard society in which we live. It is so annoying that one of the perpetrators of the expenses scandal was at one time the person who would be deciding whether or not my son was of good enough character to become a UK citizen were he to have gone through the registration process. It just beggars belief.

    Anyway Maureen, don't be too down-hearted. We'll keep plodding on.

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  170. Thanks Elizabeth - you're a star! I appreciate all the hard work you are doing in this battle for our right to British citizenship by descent. I will try to stay upbeat and fight on as you are doing. Thanks again! :)

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  171. Hi all: I haven't been in touch for some time, but see that you are still very busy "pulling the tails" of the bureaucrats and politicians! I was amused to see the text of the letter Tim received. It was identical to a letter I received some months ago from Jane Whitehead. I loathe the prospect of paying for and going through the lengthy registration process, but in my case, it will be better than going though the visa application process every time I want to enter the UK in future (10 page application form and 60 pounds every six months)! It's all just crazy....

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  172. Hi Greg - I agree that the registration and fee will be better for you than going through the visa application process every time you want to enter the UK in future but it still discriminates against us. We aren't ready to give up the battle just yet.

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  173. Hi Maureen: great to see that the "pot is still cooking". I've also not given up: I have written and rewritten to a number of civil rights groups that lobbied about the Act, but with limited success. They all seem more preoccupied with other aspects, such as the points-based system, and migrants and seem to think that a "concession" has already been made to accommodate us. Everyone seems to forget the basic principle - that the Act continues to entrench gender and age-based discrimination. For me, that is much more important than the fee. Why should people in our position go through a protracted process to prove our worth and good character, while those who claim nationality through the paternal line are AUTOMATICALLY deemed good enough? It is deeply offensive, but very few people seem to care. On the fee issue, it is very convenient for the UKBA to use its "captive market" to fund its huge new bureaucracy through registration fees, visa fees, etc. Their statement in the standard letters that we have all received to the effect that the benefits of British nationality should be much greater than the fees we are forced to pay also defies comprehension!

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  174. Hi Maureen, I am travelling again and in SA for a few weeks. I am pleased to know so many people are involved as I felt so alone for so many years. Yes, Greg, I not only have to renew the British visa (I flew through there last week)h, but my US, Canadian and Schengen this month. It is extremely costly and irritating and one of the reason why I will pay the price for my British citizenship. Also Maureen, I forgot to mention in my previous letter that the EU court case is free but you have to pay for your British barrister as the case has to take place in Britain, being a British issue. Hope this clarifies the fees issue. I fully believe we need a spokesperson like Joanna Lumley was for the Gurgas. It definitely worked for them. I don't know if anyone knows a famous person who is affected by our problem. Greetings to you all.

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  175. I have lived in the UK for 13 years with ILR. I am a South African citizen. I applied for Citizenship based on being married to a British citizen for 3 years. Unfortunately, my application has been refused due to not meeting the requirements due to me working abroad on a rotational basis (3 months away/14 days at home). During the past 5 years I have exceeded the allowed absenced days. This is only due to work-related issues. I have only been to SOuth Africa once in the past 13 years.

    Any advice will be appreciated!

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  176. Hi Greg - unfortunately, I think you're right about how civil rights groups seem more preoccupied with other aspects of the Bill. They seem to disregard the gender and age-based discrimination. And I totally agree with you - it is indeed deeply offensive. I have been sending messages out via twitter about all this but so far haven't been able to gain as much attention as I had hoped.

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  177. Tim - thank you for clarifying re the EU court case. It seems that although it is free, it isn't really since it must be quite expensive to have to pay for a British barrister! This isn't right.

    I think you're right - we need a spokesperson like Joanna Lumley. I keep hoping someone will take up our case. < sigh > Discrimination should not be allowed!

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  178. Hello Rudy, I'm sorry but I can't offer any advice other than this website which provides information about British citizenship and other forms of British nationality:

    www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/britishcitizenship/

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  179. GOOD NEWS. I just heard from Jane Whitehead that "the commencement of the new nationality changes will be 13th January 2010". Hope this brings hope to all?

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  180. In general, those born abroad to parents who are British cannot pass on their nationality to their children. If you are born outside the UK, you are a British citizen by descent. So your children aren't automatically British if not born in the UK themselves (same for mothers or fathers, here). There are exceptions, such as children of soldiers, diplomats, etc.

    As an English barrister, I can say that we're not all that expensive (-:

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  181. The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 (Commencement No.1) Order 2009 says the following provision of the 2009 Act shall come into force on 13th January 2010-
    section 45 (Descent through the female line)

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  182. Tim (and "Anonymous")- thanks for the info re the commencement date for the Act.

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  183. Amanda, our concern is regarding specific circumstances - that is being born outside the UK to British mothers. Up until 2002, if you had a British father, you got a right to citizenship, but not if you had a British mother. In 2002, they changed that law, but only backdated it to 1961. This latest law amends that but still discriminates! The Bill requires all those born abroad to a UK mother prior to 1983 to register with the UKBA and pay an exorbitant fee (£540)!

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  184. I realised that Maureen - I was responsing to a couple of comments about passing that resulting citizenship on.

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  185. Okay, thank you for the clarification, Amanda.

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  186. Prior to the coming into force of the British Nationality Act 1981 women were unable to automatically pass on their citizenship to children born abroad.

    The British Nationality Act 1948 made no provision for the transmission of citizenship in the female line; it could and did result in statelessness. The British Nationality Act 1964 (no.2) gave a registration entitlement to such children.

    Though the British Nationality Act 1948 made no provision for the transmission of citizenship in the female line, it did give the Home Secretary the authority to register any child under the age of 18 as a citizen at his discretion and on February 7, 1979 the Home Secretary announced that he would permit the registration of children born abroad to women who were born in the United Kingdom, even if they were not stateless, providing the child's father had no reasonable objections to it.

    The British Nationality Act 1981, which came into force on January 1, 1983, also gave such power to the Home Secretary, and such registrations continued, up until the child's 18th birthday.

    The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 gave an entitlement to registration as a British Citizen to those people who could have benefited from the policy change announced in 1979 but didn't, either because no application had ever been made on the child's behalf or because the child's father had objected to it.

    The Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 imposed a good character requirement on anyone acquiring citizenship in this way.

    With the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 we come full circle, giving an entitlement to registration as a British Citizen to anyone who would have been one today automatically (providing they are of good character, and assuming no distinction had ever been made between men and women in previous legislation).

    Are the fees fair? Perhaps not, but for those who were born stateless and remain stateless because of earlier legislation, no good character requirement exists.

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  187. The previous anonymous reply appears to be an official statement in response to our campaign to rectify the unfair law which continues to discriminate against children born outside the UK before 1961 to British mothers. As it stands, the amended law still does not treat children of British mothers equally to children of British fathers.

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  188. Here Here !! Maureen to your comments about the new policy still being unfair and thanks for clarifying the "anonymous" post, I wondered where that had come from.

    The one very important point missing from the post is the reason why an application might not have been lodged on behalf of the "stateless" child and that is that it wasn't at all well publicised at the time. In 1979 my son would still have been under the age of 18 and I would therefore have been able to register him probably without cost, albeit it would still have been unfair, but I knew nothing of this legislation at that time.

    Also, I have two letters from the UKBA stating that my son will still have to be considered "of good character" by the Home Secretary before his registration will be accepted which is a real slap in the face, since he is considered "of good enough character" to be paying Income Tax, NI and all the other taxes associated with living in this country.

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  189. Thank you for making some very important points, Elizabeth.

    The lack of publicity was very sneaky, indeed. And now this need to register and convince the UK Border Agency that we are "of good character" as well as being charged an exorbitant fee before we can qualify for British citizenship by descent, is as you quite rightly say, a real slap in the face!

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  190. COMMENTS CLOSED

    I have decided to close this particular post. Thank you everyone for your candid comments and sharing all your experiences and information about this matter.

    We tried our best to highlight the continued discrimination in the amended law but despite our valiant efforts the elements of discrimination still continue.

    The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 will come into force on 13th January 2010.

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