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Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru


Kirsty: Citizenship process offers ill prescription for Wales and Liberty

2009 Awst 5 10:48 AM

Following Government proposals for a new points-based citizenship application process, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have raised concerns over the confused sense of liberty and identity the new tests will promote. Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said: "Rewarding applicants for becoming Union Members or for Canvassing for political parties has the potential to seriously pervert the citizenship and political process. Firstly, applicants will feel undue pressure to join the current party of government, who also happen to be heavily union subsidised. More importantly, you cannot argue that political canvassing or union membership represents 'active citizenship' when most of U.K. citizens do neither of these things. Active citizenship, in a Liberal Wales means having the right to choose if you join a union, to choose to support a political party or any other group. Of course it would be great if more people engaged in politics but not if the cost is their right to choose to." Commenting on the suitability of the current citizenship test, which asks applicants questions on everything from divorce rights for women, to the number of under 19's living in the U.K. , Kirsty Williams said: "It is worrying that one of the practice questions for the existing citizenship test asks which two groups get free prescriptions, when everybody in Wales does so. An applicant living in Wales could get this sort of question wrong, lose hundreds in application fees and be refused citizenship. If you reduce citizenship to a multiple choice test you make a mockery of the diversity and complexity that makes Wales and the U.K. the great places they are."