How my rights were eroded

Posted on August 14, 2010


I am half English and Half Bengali, I much prefer the term Eurasian or mixed descent rather then half breed as I find the latter term offensive and derogatory. My parents both met here soon after the war when they both worked for a defence in the Royal Ordnance. My father was a Chemical Engineers and my mother worked as a design technician. When they married back in 1953 they had never thought that they would end up on the other side of the world but they did. My father was a civil servant working for the chemical corporation when I was born in Dacca in what is now Bangladesh in 1960. At that time my mother had my name entered on to her British passport and it was removed from it when she sent it for renewal in 1973. In fact all of our names were removed from her passport by the then British High Commission in Bangladesh stating that because we were not British that our names could not be placed on her passport! So when I was 16 I had to apply for a Bangladesh passport and as I was born there it was allowed and the British High Commission placed a “Certificate of Patriality” on it to show that I had a right to live freely and work in England.

This is what the law said and still is valid to this day.

“All those who are in this Act expressed to have the right of abode in the United Kingdom shall be free to live in, and to come and go into and from, the United Kingdom without let or hindrance except such as may be required under and in accordance with this Act to enable their right to be established or as may be otherwise lawfully imposed on any person.”

When the Certificate of Patriality stamp was placed on my passport I remember being told that it would always be valid and that I could use it whenever I wanted to return to England. Just before my 18th birthday I began travelling and came to England where my older brother was since he was a 17 year old. By then of course he was 21. I then went on to America when I was 19 to start studying there in Utah but I always came back as my mothers family are all from England. Once I had settled down in 1988 I came back to live in England permanently as my affinity and cultural outlook has been more English then it has ever been Bengali.

Over the years I have worked in IT as a developer and in 2007 at the age of 47 I had a heart attack. This is also the time frame when new regulations came out from the UKBA that I was not aware of that infringed on my right of abode. Apparently there had been a half Australian and half English lad who was caught in Afghanistan and was shipped to Guantanamo Bay. Both his parents were English so he also had a right to British citizenship and obviously also had the right of abode by virtue of his descent. According to my research he was granted a British passport in the morning and then it was taken away soon as the laws were hurriedly changed bring in draconian measures that could actually strip a person of their right of abode if the home secretary thought it was not conducive to the public good. There was much argument in Parliament about this and at that I was totally unaware of things as I was busy recovering from a heart attack and working for a consultancy involved in designing an IT system to track noise pollution and compensation for home owners for the BAA authorities for Heathrow airport. Between that and taking care of my heart I did not even once think that the circumstances of my life were going to ever change dramatically. New laws were brought in that effectively gagged me from even having a political point of view of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq as it could be construed to be supporting or glorifying any of the acts of terrorism even though I am not even a believer of any faith either then a very secular view of the world. Apparently to even stand in elections in an opposition party like the Conservatives or Liberals could be seen as not good for the public by the Labour home secretary. Very quickly the Lords ask for guarantees that this would not happen but it was not watered down by much. So it transpired the age old views of mixed and divided loyalties once again surfaced from the age old Raj that children of mixed descent were not to be trusted!

In November of 2009 I soon ran into problems. During this time I had let my passport expire on the assumption that eventually I would either naturalise or if the promises of the reforms actually materialised I could finally be a British citizen by descent something both my younger sisters had as a cut off date of February 07 1961 had been imposed which divided even my brothers in sisters into two groups. Those who were British and those who only had the right of abode. They could travel and work in Europe and I could not freely. However in England I was led to believe I had every single right that a British citizen had so never was too fussed.

The new regulations that were passed by Liam Bryne the then junior minister allowed the UKBA to expire my existing right of abode and start charging a fee. At this time I was unemployed and simply could not afford the new fees being charged and so the great UKBA authorities through their telephone helpline gave our advise that if my certificate on my expired passport had expired they suggested falsely that so too had my right of abode. I have fought this and now at the point of bring a employment tribunal case against the agency who have directly discriminated against me and the UKBA has been responsible for indirectly doing so.

I have been reading up on the law and found there are some inconsistencies in them. The certificate I have on my passport states it is valid for presentation at a United Kingdom port. The UKBA state that my rights have not expired but my ability to evidence this right has expired. This seems a strange attitude. The passport is the same its got my picture the certificate is an original one issued by Her Majesty’s government and I have a new passport so surely it must prove that I am the same person who I claim to be and that even my expired certificate is valid to prove that I have a right of abode. I then looked at the regulations and the law and found that nothing in it said my rights had expired nor did it say that it was mandatory to have a new certificate and finally when I looked at the laws that prevent an illegal persons from working I found clearly that it did not apply to those who have a right of abode. What a paradox I seem to have entered here. All the laws say I am not subject to immigration control or permission by the immigration authorities but all their actions show that they have done just that.

So I waited for January to come in and with it the new bill of 2009 that became law and that finally removed the February 07 1961 cut off date for me to claim British citizenship. I was soon disappointed to find out that this method had also been effectively blocked by the imposition of high fees (£540 at the time of my writing) and I unlike anyone else would have to undergo background checks into my character as well as attend a civil ceremony. I did not recall this ever happening to my two sisters and soon discovered had my father been British and my Mother Asian then I would have been an automatic citizen and no checks or fees would be required. Indeed I found this also to be true for those born after 1983.

So if anybody thinks that all these actions have not discriminated against me and other persons like us then think again. The UKBA and members of its staff have contrived to use every method available to them to give those of us who were born to British mothers between 1948-1961 the hardest of times. Why ? Because of our age and because we are descended from the female line. Today I am still fighting this issue. Even immigrants who hold ILR a status that is subject to immigration control can evidence their on going right to work with an expired passport, but not apparently the children of British citizens who were born here and are of Anglo Saxon descent and of course as we are a pluralist society today of anyone who is a British citizen today.