76% of Lib Dem members oppose Government plans to render foreign-born terror suspects ‘stateless’

by Stephen Tall on May 10, 2014

Lib Dem stickersLib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. More than 830 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

Three-quarters oppose Theresa May’s plans to render foreign-born terror suspects ‘stateless’

The Government has proposed in its Immigration Bill that the Home Secretary should have the power to revoke the British nationality of those whose presence in the UK are deemed ‘not conducive to the public good’. It argues that it needs to take all necessary steps to protect the public from those who threaten the UK’s security. Opponents argue that such powers should not be given to ministers, and that those who threaten the UK’s security should be dealt with through the criminal justice system. Do you support or oppose this measure?

    14% – Support

    76% – Oppose

    4% – Neither

    5% – Don’t know

This week saw the Government’s Immigration Bill back in the Commons, including its highly controversial proposal to render foreign-born terror suspects ‘stateless’. Lib Dem home office minister Norman Baker had written to fellow Lib Dem MPs to assure them of the “major shift’ in its wording and appealing to them now to back the legislation. As Isabel Hardman explained in the Spectator, “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.” Not all Lib Dem MPs were wholly reassured – both Julian Huppert and Sarah Teather closely cross-questioned the Government – though in the end only Sarah voted against the measure.

We asked Lib Dem members your view before this new concession was known. But it’s clear from the result – 76% opposing the ‘stateless’ proposal – that it would have been the very least expected. Here’s a sample of your comments…

• No one should be left stateless, however distasteful their views or actions
• Politicians shouldn’t be involved in justice
• I think there are occasions when HMG has to act rapidly and the legal system takes too long.
• Should not be left to Ministers. I personally believe the Home Secretary is ‘not conducive to the public good’. Should I have the right revoke her citizenship?
• I feel strongly that it is important that a party that stands for liberal principles should oppose this measure.
• Government should not have the power to make a person stateless.
• Such actions are despotic. The Nazis did this.
• Using security as justification for sidestepping judicial processes is unacceptable
• This amounts essentially to ‘banishment from the kingdom’. We’re not living in the Middle Ages!
• The Criminal Justice system with a jury should be the only ones to have the powers to revoke.
• It is proably abreach of human rights to deprive a person of their citizenship.
• Should be available in extreme circumstances (ie someone convicted of a serious violent offence, or large scale corruption), but the decision should be made by a judge, not a politician.
• This is the sort of thing totalitarian regimes do
• We should never force people to lose their citizenship unless it was obtained through fraud.
• No person should be able to be deprived of any nationality for any reason other than that they acquired it fraudulently. If it was correctly granted at the time of grant, then it should persist for their lifetime.
• The power is essential, but must not be wielded by politicians.
• These powers will be abused for sure.
• Whilst comparison to the Nazi citizenship laws of the 1930′s is perhaps a little “overblown”. The proposals are unacceptable from a human rights perspective. There is no political case for it and the Lib Dems should ensure it is opposed.

  • 1,500 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 745 responded in full – and a further 87 in part – to the latest survey, which was conducted between 16th and 22nd April.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
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  • * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.