MPs must oppose “more primitive than torture” citizenship-stripping plans

May 6, 2014

MPs are tomorrow expected to vote on the Home Secretary’s plans for a vast expansion of the Government’s power to arbitrarily deprive Britons of their citizenship, when the Immigration Bill returns to the Commons for the consideration of Lords’ amendments.

Theresa May’s proposals, which would allow her to deprive a naturalised British citizen of his/her citizenship even if doing so would leave him/her stateless, were removed from the Bill in the House of Lords.  Peers instead backed an amendment requiring a committee to be set up to consider whether such a move is necessary.

However, the Government is expected to attempt to reverse this amendment when the Bill returns to the Commons tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday 7 May). 

The Home Secretary’s plans were initially passed by the Commons in January this year, but had only been allowed minimal consideration by MPs as a result of their having been brought forward at the last minute – in a move seen by some as an attempt to see off a rebellion by backbench Conservatives relating to an entirely separate issue concerning foreign prisoners.

Labour’s front bench has since backed the Lords amendment – tabled by (among others) a former Supreme Court Judge, Lord Brown, and Former Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord Macdonald – which would remove Theresa May’s proposals from the Bill in favour of more in-depth consideration.

Similar measures to those proposed by Ms May have been described by the Supreme Court of the United States as “a form of punishment more primitive than torture.”

Commenting, Reprieve Legal Director, Kat Craig said: “The Home Secretary’s plans would expose millions of Britons to a punishment akin to medieval exile – one which even the US Supreme Court has described as ‘more primitive than torture.’   Worse still, they would put huge powers in the hands of the Government to strip people of their citizenship, without the need for any legal due process and without any transparency.  It has to be hoped that MPs will resist any attempt by the Government to push these dangerous plans through Parliament.”


Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell: +44 (0) 207 553 8166

2. The US Supreme Court’s ruling in Trop v Dulles, 1957, can be found here: