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Lord Goldsmith recommends new emphasis on the Common Bond of Citizenship
In his report Citizenship: Our Common Bond, published today, former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith sets out reforms that will make it clearer what it means to be a citizen and practical measures that may help to enhance a sense of shared belonging.
Lord Goldsmith said:
"It is easy to imagine that British citizenship should denote a strong connection with membership of the community in the UK; that British citizenship denotes a strong commitment to, and connection with, this country. However, that is not historically the case.
"In effect, the history of legislation on citizenship and nationality has led to a complex scheme lacking coherence or any clear and self-contained statement of the rights and responsibilities of citizens.
"My report discusses measures to address that and makes a range of proposals that touch every stage of an individual's life. My recommendations are intended to promote the meaning and significance of citizenship within modern Britain."
The report contains key findings from a five month investigation into the current condition of citizenship in the UK. To make it clearer who is a citizen and what it means to be a citizen it recommends:
* Abolishing residual types of citizenship, with the exception of
British Overseas Territories Citizenship and British Nationals
Overseas status, to allow people who qualify for those categories
to obtain full British citizenship.
* Providing that only citizens should have the fullest rights to political participation. The right to vote of non-citizens should be phased out while retaining the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and Irish citizens who have Irish citizenship by connection to Northern Ireland.
* Reforming the category of permanent resident as it blurs the distinction between citizens and non-citizens. We should expect people who are settled in the UK for the long-term to become citizens and recognise those who cannot do so (because their country of origin does not allow dual nationality) as Associate Citizens.
* Reform of the law of treason to make the duty of allegiance relevant to modern conditions.
To enhance our sense of shared belonging along all stages of a citizen's journey through life, the report recommends:
* Creating a clear statement of the rights and responsibilities
of citizenship, which we have never had in the UK.
* Developing a new national day which becomes a focus for expressing our sense of shared belonging. The national day will provide a framework in which different communities in different parts of the UK come together to celebrate their common bonds.
* Building the common narrative through citizenship education - which the report proposes should be an element of primary education as well.
* That citizenship education has to be active throughout, consisting in learning through doing.
* Young people should be launched towards full participation in society through a citizenship ceremony at the end of school.
* Reduction in university fees for those who take part in civic activities.
* A new standard to give employers an incentive to promote civic engagement among their workers - Investors in Communities.
* Creating more mentoring opportunities for people at different stages of their lives - including mentoring relationship between young and old.
The report also looks at how to engage newcomers to the UK in UK society. That means:
* Taking new steps to promote the learning of English - including
language loans for people who cannot afford to pay for lessons at
* A mentoring scheme for people aspiring to become citizens.
* Encouraging more people to take a citizenship course through which they will have the opportunity to talk about what citizenship means with other people.
* Using citizenship ceremonies to connect new citizens with the local community - for example, by involving local schools, community organisations and cultural institutions.
Lord Goldsmith was asked by the Prime Minister last year to conduct the review as part of changes proposed in the Governance of Britain green paper.
Notes to editors
1. Lord Goldsmith QC's Citizenship Report: Citizenship: Our Common Bond is available at http://www.justice.gov.uk/reviews/citizenship.htm
2. As part of the Governance of Britain green paper (http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/governanceofbritain.htm), published on 3 July 2007, the Prime Minister asked Lord Goldsmith to carry out a review of citizenship.
3. The review's terms of reference were:
* To clarify the legal rights and responsibilities associated with British citizenship, in addition to those enjoyed under the Human Rights Act, as a basis for defining what it means to be a citizen in Britain's open democratic society.
* To consider the difference between the different categories of British nationality.
* To examine the relationship between residence, citizenship and British national status and the incentives for long-term residents to become British citizens.
* To explore the role of citizens and residents in civic society, including voting, jury service and other forms of civic participation.
This work will include a review of the evidence gathered in government, by among others the Commission on Integration and Cohesion, and non-government sources and will make recommendations. The review will report to the Prime Minister by 31 March 2008.