In recent years there has been an increasing use of powers to deprive people of their British citizenship and withdraw British passport facilities, particularly in respect of those who may be involved in fighting, extremist activity or terrorist training overseas.Jump to full report >>
The Home Secretary has power to deprive a person of British citizenship in any of the following scenarios:
In the second and third scenarios, deprivation of citizenship is permissible even if the person would be left stateless.
A Home Office Freedom of Information response in June 2016 revealed that there had been 81 deprivation of citizenship orders made in the years 2006-2015. 36 orders were made on the grounds that deprivation was conducive to the public good; 45 orders were made on the grounds that the Home Secretary was satisfied that people had used fraud or false representation to gain British citizenship by registration or naturalisation. In December 2013 the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported a significant increase in the use of deprivation powers in 2013, in part due to British citizens travelling to fight in Syria.
British citizens are not entitled to a British passport. The passport does not confer citizenship; it is merely evidence of it. Passports are issued at the discretion of the Home Secretary under the Royal Prerogative and can be withdrawn through the use of the same discretionary power.
Those who are the subject of a deprivation of citizenship order can appeal to the First Tier tribunal against the Home Secretary’s decision. Appeals must be made to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission where the Home Secretary considers that the information she relied on should not be made public.
As passports are issued at the Home Secretary’s discretion there is no right of appeal against a decision to withdraw passport facilities. However a person whose passport is withdrawn may seek a judicial review of the Home Secretary’s decision.
Deprivation of citizenship entails the loss of the right of abode in the UK. It makes possible the administrative (‘immigration’) detention, deportation and exclusion from the UK of the person concerned. Flowing from the loss of the right of abode are myriad associated and consequential rights, duties and opportunities.
An annex to this briefing paper provides a summary of the al-Jedda case and of the Parliamentary and external scrutiny of the Coalition Government's legislative response to its loss in the Supreme Court.
Commons Briefing papers SN06820
Authors: Melanie Gower; Terry McGuinness