Coffee House

Exclusive: Leaked Lib Dem letter reveals changes to controversial ‘stateless’ plan

7 May 2014

The debate on the Immigration Bill has just begun in the Commons. Many MPs are still trying to decide how to vote on the proposal to render foreign-born terror suspects ‘stateless’. In an attempt to persuade his party to vote with the government, Lib Dem Home Office minister Norman Baker has sent out a ‘dear colleague’ letter to MPs, leaked to Coffee House, in which he says he has amended the legislation to the extent that there is a ‘major shift’ from the Home Secretary.

This ‘major shift’ means the Home Secretary must believe the suspect being deprived of their citizenship will be able to secure alternative citizenship from another country, and that the process can be examined by an independent reviewer.


He then engages in a bit of political strategising, telling MPs that if their party does win a concession from its Coalition partners, this should be reflected in their voting:

‘Politically, if we demand major concessions from the Tories and get them, that should affect how we vote. If it doesn’t, then the incentive for them to give ground and the leverage I have diminishes.’

It will be interesting to see whether this has any sway with MPs worried about the proposals. You can read the letter in full below:

Dear Colleague

Some of you will rightly have been concerned about the proposal to deprive individuals (albeit a very small number) of citizenship. Although the circumstances are tightly defined, nevertheless I recognise there is a point of principle here. Indeed, I share that view myself.

You will know that the Lords rejected that proposal and sought instead to kick it into the long grass by setting up a committee to look at it. Of course there is no guarantee that that committee would not actually come down in favour of the proposal, so in effect it simply delays the decision and gives more leverage to a very small group of peers.

I have therefore been seeking to have the Bill amended in a way that meets the principled and I believe that what is now on offer represents a major shift from the Home Secretary. In essence, there are two safeguards now being offered: first, that the Home Sec must believe that the person will be able to secure alternative citizenship from a different country, and second that the process, including if so wished individual cases, can be looked at by an Independent Reviewer.

I think these two conditions in essence mean that it should not be possible to make someone stateless, and although the formula is not as clean as we might like, I think personally it is sufficient.

Politically, if we demand major concessions from the Tories and get them, that should affect how we vote. If it doesn’t, then the incentive for them to give ground and the leverage I have diminishes. I therefore recommend that colleagues reject the Lords amendment and support the government alternatives that I have helped negotiate. If colleagues really feel uncomfortable, and I hope you now don’t, then I would ask you to abstain.

I am happy to talk to any colleague individually if that would help.


UPDATE, 3.05pm: James Brokenshire confirms this in the Commons, saying the Home Secretary will need to explore whether the person concerned is able to acquire another nationality. Julian Huppert, one of the original rebels, has already says it addresses some but not all concerns about this policy. Another MP asked what would happen if no other nationality is available. Brokenshire replied that if the Home Secretary would then not be able to use this power.

More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us now.

  • Picquet

    Surely those affected – ie: ‘foreign-born’ terror suspects are by definition subjects of whichever nation from which they originate; they have obtained British citizenship by deception in that they very clearly bear no loyalty to the this nation or the Crown.

  • DaHitman

    Whats wrong with just sending the (censored)ers back where they originate?

  • Agrippina

    If the law is drafted in such a way as to be only used in the most difficult of circs there really is no prob at all. In order to render someone ‘stateless’, they will still be represented legally and due process will be followed.

    Quite frankly, if someone hates us so much, as to want to harm us, it is best they leave. Good luck with finding someone else to accept the dross.

    If the morons are not moved by Ralph Vaughan Williams, The Lark Ascending, they were never really Brits, time to move on to some other joy killing paradise here on earth! Vote UKIP and deal with the issue directly.

  • 0rangeman

    It may as Mr Baker alludes to only involve a few individuals but as oft seen in the past he human rights legal fraternity must be salivating over the mountain of taxpayers cash this has the potential to generate their way.

    the poor old tax payer will once again be the aggreived but hapless victim of yet another scam which while eating away at the fabric of our society in that the rights of these noxious individuals trumps common sense and bankrupts us doing so.

    Its time to call a HALT to more madness like this its time for UKIP

  • Wessex Man

    Ah the Liberal Democrats in all their glory, still shoddy sandel wearing opportunists, roll on the General Elections in 2015, oh and the total wipeout for the dears on the 22nd!!!!!

  • you_kid

    Rendering an individual stateless is the last step required to achieve a post-national cosmopolitan society.
    We all become equal before the law – well sort of.

    • Wessex Man

      Did your muummy compose that one for you?

  • jason green

    So, in essence, what we have is a non-policy. One of the virtues of coalition government,

  • Tony_E

    Whether or not an ‘undesirable or dangerous’ person is able to acquire another nationality should not be at issue. Removal of right to remain in Britain should be simply the right of British to protect themselves from potential harm.

    Those we seek to remove should be offered a simple choice, (subject to some legal provisions for review to prevent the Home Secretary acting ultra vires or without correct process) – removal from these islands to a nation of their choosing that will accept them (expenses happily paid), or incarceration in a facility which is seen in legal terms to be ‘not British soil’ so that they accrue no further rights by remaining there.

    I would much prefer removal, rather than some kind of UK Guantanamo. However, while we abide by rules and legal niceties, our enemies seldom do. It is why we currently face disadvantage against every potential foe from the terrorists and insurgents of the Middle East and Africa to the expansionist Russians in Crimea.

Can't find your Web ID? Click here