This Friday I am looking forward to helping to guide a Private Members Bill through the House. I have only once done a full Friday session before on the Park Homes Bill, although I also did help on the Antartic Bill. This Bill is short but addresses a specific problem - namely the disadvantage faced by members of HM Forces, who are not British born, but who were overseas on the date five years before their application for citizenship. It is not right that they should have their applications refused when the very reason for their absence was that we had sent them overseas to protect our country.
My boss, Mark Harper MP is responsible for the Bill and is very supportive of what was a priority commitment under the Armed Forces Covenant. This Bill which will ensure service men and women are not disadvantaged and allows the Secretary of State to waive the requirement, in Armed Forces cases, for the applicant to have been in the UK on the date 5 years before an application for naturalisation. This requirement could disadvantage a member of HM Forces who was on an overseas posting at the relevant time.
The Bill is supported by a large number of Army and Military charities. The debate starts at 9.30am on Friday