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3rd Jul 2017 4:18pm News

New House of Lords Committee on Citizenship and Civic engagement

See the list of Lords involved in this committee and their plans.

Last week it was announced that a new Lords Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement has been established for the 2017-18 parliamentary session.

The Committee Chair is Conservative Peer Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts. Former Secretary of State for Education and ACT President, Lord Blunkett of Brightside is a member alonside another former Education Secretary, Barroness Morris of Yardley and liberal democrat peer Lord Verjee among others.

The Committee is due to hold its first session soon and is expected to report by April 2018. The areas of investigation are expected to be wide ranging and include:

  • How well do the UK educate people about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship particularly in schools, universities and the wider public?

The many different aspects of Citizenship and how citizens engage in politics and democracy that the Committee may investigate are of key interest to all in citizenship education.

ACT looks forward to contributing to any call for evidence. The timing of the new committee is welcome in the run up to 20 years since the Crick Report led to Citizenship becoming a National Curriculum subject in England.

The Liaison Committee report on new investigations for 2017-18 sets out the area of interest to the new Committee in more detail.

“This [citizenship and civic engagement] is another issue which has received considerable interest within the House in recent years, amongst Members of all political parties and none. Whilst not an overtly party political issue, it is a matter of topical debate. With recent commentary on social division, particularly since the EU referendum in 2016 and with continuing terrorist attacks in Europe, there is a growing interest in the ways in which society as a whole can be unified and how citizens can be encouraged to integrate and work together. The topic clearly cuts across several departmental boundaries, and could not easily be covered as a whole by any of the Commons departmental committees, or any of the existing Lords committees. Three Members submitted proposals for ad hoc committees in this area. Whilst it is often not possible to combine proposals without ending up with an unwieldy inquiry which would be so diffuse as to be of limited value, in this instance aspects of their proposals could be combined relatively easily.

Some of the issues that an ad hoc committee might consider include:

What does British citizenship mean? Does the definition need clarifying?

What ‘rights’ are attached to citizenship? Do these need codifying? Should they be promoted more to the public?

What ‘responsibilities’ are attached to citizenship? Should volunteering, or some sort of ‘national service’, be made compulsory or placed on a more formal footing?

How is civic engagement manifested in different parts of society and how does public policy help or hinder this?

What are the barriers to citizenship which affect particular parts of society, such as young people, people from a lower socio-economic background and marginalised communities?

UK citizens born and living in the UK,

How do the rights and responsibilities of citizenship compare between:

UK citizens born in the UK but living abroad,

UK citizens who were born abroad but have obtained citizenship through naturalisation, and Dual-nationals?

How well does the UK educate people about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, particularly in schools, universities, citizenship classes and amongst the wider public?

Are there differences in the levels of civic engagement between those born in the UK and those who obtain citizenship through naturalisation? If so, what lessons can be learned about how to engage all citizens? ”