UK: Citizenship ceremony - oath of allegiance to "Queen and Country"
On 25 July the Home Office a Consultation paper say that immigrants being granted citizenship will have to swear an oath of allegiance to "Queen and country" at a public ceremony. The paper suggests the ceremony would end with a round of applause and the "National Anthem".
Immigrants can apply for citizenship after five years (or three if they are married to a British citizen). At present they simply fill in a form, get the details verified by a solicitor or doctor and apply by post.
Under the new scheme around 100,000 people a year will first have to pass a test in English and show sufficient knowledge of life in the UK before attending the "ceremony" where the person would have to swear or affirm the following words:
That on becoming a British citizen I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her heirs and successors according to law.
I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen.
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:
"People who have a right to become citizens will be asked to forget their own histories and cultures and become "British". It is part of a general shift across the EU from multiculturalism to monoculturalism in the post 11 September climate.
There are thousands, if not millions, of British people who would refuse to take this oath of allegiance. It is based on the premise that we are all subjects of the monarchy (and all its heirs) and not citizens. Moreover, as citizens in a democratic society "loyalty to the United Kingdom" may or may not be forthcoming depending on the legitimacy and legality of the state and governments' actions"
Citizenship ceremonies - consultation document, Home Office, 25.7.03: Full-text (pdf)
Home Office press release: 25/7/03 (214/2003): CONSULTATION ON NEW CEREMONIES TO CELEBRATE CITIZENSHIP
"Becoming a British citizen will be an important and a significant milestone in a person's life and no longer a purely bureaucratic exercise, under proposals in a consultation paper published by the Home Office today.
The paper seeks views on the content of new citizenship ceremonies, including how they can incorporate a local flavour. The ceremonies should reflect local communities and support the social integration of new citizens. They will be trialled in eight areas early next year.
New 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.
Home Office Minister Beverley Hughes said:
Becoming a British citizen should not be about obtaining a bit of paper and a passport. It is something to be celebrated - both by those who qualify and by the wider communities of which they are a part.
Citizenship ceremonies will enable more focus to be placed on the fact that citizenship carries with it both rights and responsibilities. Our reforms also place new obligations on those applying for citizenship to have sufficient knowledge of our language, and of life in the UK, to enable them to fully participate in our society. Sir Bernard Crick's group will shortly publish its recommendations on how this should be taken forward.
The pilot areas are Brent, Liverpool, Wandsworth, Oldham, Kent, Cardiff, Telford and Glasgow.
The Government's citizenship reforms aim to make the acquisition of citizenship a meaningful event and to encourage more people to acquire this status.
The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 requires applicants for citizenship to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic and knowledge of life in the UK."
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