Concern at Home Office's 'test' for children; CITIZENSHIP.
The Home Office is "unduly heavy-handed" when dealing with children as young as 10 who are claiming their right to British citizenship, politicians have warned.
Parliament's Human Rights Committee expressed "deep concern" over the way the department applies its "good character" test under British nationality law.
It has urged the government to act "without delay" to make sure the process was fair and did not discriminate.
The committee, made up of MPs and peers, highlighted concerns in its report on the government's proposed changes to the British Nationality Act 1981.
At present, a minor offence or police caution can mean children who have spent their whole lives in the UK could be denied citizenship, the report said.
The committee felt this was "inappropriate" and did not allow "adequate consideration of the rights of the child".
The committee raised concerns the Home Office had "again been unable to explain or justify why the good character test is applied to children who have grown up all their lives in the UK and know no other country".
It added: "In particular, we are most concerned this is affecting children as young as 10 years old who have lived all of their lives in the UK."
The report said the fees children have to pay to apply for citizenship are "too expensive" and warned the Home Office was "leaving itself open to successful legal challenge" if it did not change some of its practices.
The Home Office was contacted for comment.
"This is affecting children as young as 10"