Teenagers face citizenship ceremonies

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Indy Politics

Wide-ranging recommendations to strengthen the significance of British citizenship will be published today.

Former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith is expected to propose wider involvement in citizenship ceremonies brought in by the Government four years ago.

His report is also likely to seek to clarify the legal rights and responsibilities associated with citizenship.

Last October, a preliminary report published as part of Lord Goldsmith's review said that schoolchildren should take part in the ceremonies for foreigners taking British nationality.

The style and content of the events should be "re-energised", perhaps with a rendition by schoolchildren of the pop song We Are The World, last year's report said.

This week it was reported that Lord Goldsmith would recommend that schoolchildren be encouraged to swear an oath pledging allegiance to the Queen and respect for the law.

The study is also expected to suggest a major overhaul of "archaic" treason laws.

It has been reported that laws, such as sleeping with the wife of the heir to the throne, which carries life imprisonment, would be scrapped or reformed because they are regarded as outdated.

Lord Goldsmith has also hinted at updating the national anthem by removing verses which are rarely performed.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown commissioned Lord Goldsmith to lead the review when he stepped down from the Government last summer.

Last October's preliminary document accused senior politicians of lacking enthusiasm for citizenship ceremonies introduced by the Government just four years ago.

Author Mark Rimmer, head of the Brent Registration and Naturalisation Service in London, said he believed no Cabinet minister had attended one of the naturalisation celebrations since they were launched in the presence of the Prince of Wales in February 2004.

He recommended staging the ceremonies in iconic buildings such as Tate Britain, the National Gallery and Edinburgh Castle.

A special ceremony for new British citizens should be held at least once a year - with the first staged at the House of Commons - to recognise those who have made special contributions to their new communities, it added.

Such high-profile ceremonies could be linked to a National Citizenship Day, the paper suggested.

It described how students at the Capital City Academy in Harlesden, west London, had performed songs at one ceremony.

"The song We Are The World seemed particularly appropriate for the occasion," Mr Rimmer's report said.

"People born and raised in this country are often far too cynical about being British and it seems to be a national pastime to put down British institutions and our way of life.

"It is far too naive to believe that initiatives like this will change attitudes but it might at least make some of our young people stop to think about how lucky we all are to be living in a tolerant and free society."