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CONSULTATION BROADLY BACKS GOVERNMENT PLANS FOR NEW CITIZENSHIP CEREMONIES

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Plans for citizenship ceremonies to welcome new citizens have been ...
Plans for citizenship ceremonies to welcome new citizens have been

backed in a government consultation with strong support for the idea

of welcoming new Britons into local communities, the Home Office

announced today.

The consultation shows strong backing for the government's intention

that national symbols such as the union flag and the national anthem

should feature in the new ceremonies, alongside local symbols where

appropriate.

The fees for applying for citizenship will also increase, for the

first time in eight years, in order to cover the costs of processing

applications, provide the new ceremony and ensure local authorities

are not left out of pocket.

Read more the local authority response here.

The first of the ceremonies for new citizens will take place in eight

pilot areas in the new year, before being rolled out around the

country. These are part of wider government reforms to enhance the

significance of acquiring British citizenship.

Home Office minister, Beverley Hughes, said: 'I am very pleased

with the response to the consultation and with the

enthusiasm with which local communities are embracing the

government's proposals and the work of Sir Bernard Crick

and his colleagues on the working group.

'Becoming a UK citizen is an important step and we want to welcome

new citizens with the right balance of solemnity and celebration to

make it a significant day for all involved. The ceremony will

reinforce the obligations as well as the rights of being a citizen.

'I believe it is only right - and indeed what new citizens themselves

will want - that our national flag and national anthem should be part

of this important day alongside appropriate symbols of the local

community and the final guidance to local authorities will reflect

this.

'Several countries around the world already have citizenship

ceremonies. I hope our own home-grown ceremonies will reflect the

national character and offer a warm welcome to those who choose to

make the UK their permanent home.

'Separately we are also considering the recommendations of an

independent group on how to ensure that new citizens have knowledge

of English and life in the UK.

'Helping people to become full and active citizens is a vital part of

our managed migration policy, which benefits both our society and

economy.'

Responses to the consultation made suggestions for music which could

be played alongside the national anthem, and welcomed the idea of

local dignitaries attending. Local authorities will be free to choose

appropriate music and invite dignitaries.

Respondents also agreed with the proposed format of the welcome

speech and suggested adding details about the cultures and traditions

of the local area.

As part of the new ceremonies, which will be a requirement for all

those whose application for citizenship is received on or after 1

January 2004, citizens will continue to swear allegiance to the Queen

but also make a new pledge to uphold the UK's rights, freedoms and

democratic values. The eight pilot areas are Brent, Wandsworth,

Liverpool, Glasgow, Cardiff, Kent, Oldham and Telford & Wrekin.

Different methods of payment are being explored for a range of

immigration fees.

The government's citizenship reforms, laid down in the Nationality,

Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, aim to make the acquisition of

citizenship a meaningful event and to encourage more people who have

chosen to make the UK their home to become full citizens.

As well as introducing ceremonies the Act requires applicants for

citizenship to demonstrate 'sufficient knowledge of English, Welsh or

Scottish Gaelic' and knowledge of life in the UK.

An independent advisory group, the Life in the United Kingdom Group,

chaired by Sir Bernard Crick, has made a numb er of recommendations on

how to take this forward in practice. These are currently being

considered by the government.

NOTES

1. The fees changes are as follows:

TYPE OF CURRENT PROPOSED CEREMONY TOTAL

PROVISION FEE 01/01/04 FEE 01/01/04

6(1) Individual £150.00 £150.00 £68.00 £218.00

6(1) Married £150.00 £150.00 £136.00 £286.00

6(2) £120.00 £146.00 £68.00 £214.00

Reg. Adult £120.00 £85.00 £68.00 £153.00

Reg. Minor £120.00 £144.00 £144.00

Single

Reg. Minor £120.00 £144.00 £144.00

Multiple

Renunciation £20.00 £81.00 £81.00

Naturalisation 6 (1) individual: Country of origin has no historical links with the UK.

Naturalisation 6 (1): As above but joint application by husband and wife.

Naturalisation 6 (2): Overseas national married to a British citizen.

Adult Registration: British overseas territories citizen, British

Overseas citizen and other British nationals, excluding British

citizens, who wish to become British citizens.

Minor Registration: Applications always classed as registration even

if parents are applying for naturalisation.

Renunciation: Relinquishing British citizenship in favour of another

country's nationality, for example, where the other country, does not

allow dual nationality.

2. The consultation on citizenship ceremonies was announced on 25

July (HO press notice 214/2003). In order to qualify for citizenship

applicants must have lived in the UK for five years (or three years

if married to a British citizen). In 2002 there were 120,145 grants

of British citizenship.

3. The full report of the Life in United Kingdom advisory gr oup was

announced on September 3 (HO press notice 234/ 2003) and can be found here.

4. A summary of the responses is attached.

CITIZENSHIP CEREMONIES CONSULTATION - SUMMARY OF RESPONSES

The White Paper, 'Secure Borders, Safe Haven: Integration with

Diversity in Modern Britain', published in February 2002, set out the

Government's proposals for enhancing the significance of the

acquisition of British citizenship. The Nationality, Immigration and

Asylum Act 2002 duly included provisions which, when brought into

force at the start of 2004, will require all adult applicants for

British citizenship to take an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty The

Queen and a Pledge of Loyalty to the United Kingdom at a citizenship

ceremony.

On 25 July 2003 the government published a consultation document

setting out its provisional views on the form and content of the

citizenship ceremony. The 12-week period of consultation ended on 17

October, and 145 responses were received.

Breakdown of respondents

The respondents included the following:

Registration Service 43

Local Authority [England & Wales] 29

Members of Public 26

Local Authority [Scotland] 16

Education/Academia 5

Professional Associations 5

Voluntary Organisations 4

Religious Groups 3

Refugee Organisation 3

Home Office 3

NHS 2

Police 2

Government Departments 1

Press 1

Political Groups 1

Equality Organisations 1

Breakdown of responses

Respondents were invited to consider 8 specific questions, and gave

answers as follows:

Q1: Should national symbols - the Union flag, and the national anthem

- form part of the ceremony? Should some national cultural activity

[e.g. a piece of music, song, poem ] be included at the start or end of

the ceremony? Do you have any suggestions?

Q2: How might a local flavour be imported to citizenship cere monies

in a manner which is in keeping with their purpose?

Q3: Do you have any suggestions on other suitable venues for

ceremonies?

Q4: Do you have any suggestions for suitable music?

Q5: Do you have any views on the content of the proposed welcome

speech by the Registrar?

Q6: Do you agree that it would be a good idea to invite a local

dignitary to address the group at this stage and do you have any

suggestions about the advice which might be given as to the content

of this address?

Q7: What are your views on the standard response? Have you any other

suggestions?

Q8: Do you consider it important for new citizens to have a

commemorative certificate or other gift and have you any suggestions

relating to gifts? What sort of gift do you think would be

appropriate and meaningful memento of the occasion?

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