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Last Updated: Monday, 2 February, 2004, 22:35 GMT
First citizenship ceremony due
The plans include a new pledge to the Queen
The first ceremony for immigrants granted British citizenship will be held later this month, the government has announced.

Citizenship ceremonies will include an oath of allegiance to the Queen and the national anthem will be sung.

The compulsory ceremony will apply to anyone who applies for naturalisation this year.

Immigration Minister Beverley Hughes said: "Becoming a citizen of the UK is something to be proud of."

Handbook

The first ceremony is to take place in Brent, London on 26 February.

About 90,000 adult applicants are successful each year in their bid to become British and each will be expected to pay 68 for the ceremony.

A citizenship handbook containing information about laws, getting information and how to obtain help in the UK is being developed.

According to the Home Office, classes in English for potential citizens will also be piloted over the next year.

Pilot schemes will be used establish if there are ways to recoup the costs of lessons for the thousands seeking citizenship.

Integration

Ms Hughes said: "We want to help people becoming citizens to play a full part in our society and encourage those who are settled here to apply for citizenship.

"Research shows that an understanding of English, in particular, helps people contribute more to society.

"However, we need to ensure that we are spending our resources in the best possible way to target those people who need our help to learn English and integrate into society.

"By looking at existing provision around the country we can pilot the content of the classes to find the best way of benefiting individuals and the wider society."

Prospective citizens will be required to show "measurable progress" rather than everyone reaching the same standard in English.

At present the system, whereby people become British citizens, is conducted by post.




SEE ALSO:
UK 'citizenship test' unveiled
31 Jan 03  |  UK News
Blunkett names 'Britishness' chief
10 Sep 02  |  Politics


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