THE STATUTE book did not contain the term ‘British citizenship’ until 1981.2 Before then, there were Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKC), British subjects without citizenship (BSWC), and citizens of Commonwealth countries, all of whom were also known as Commonwealth citizens, but there were no British citizens.3 Citizenship rights and obligations have historically been granted to all the holders of British subjecthood (later, Commonwealth citizens), whether they were born in London or Kingston, Jamaica.4 In 1977 the Labour government led by James Callaghan issued a Green Paper in which it admitted that a review of Britain’s citizenship policies was long overdue. In describing the aims of the proposed new nationality bill, it said that ‘Britain [was] no longer an Imperial power’ and that ‘the all-embracing concept of nationality with this role’ had to be replaced by ‘a more meaningful citizenship for those who had close links with the United Kingdom’.5

Even after the creation of British citizenship by the British Nationality Act 1981 (BNA 1981), the most recent piece of major legislation on citizenship, which replaced the BNA 1948, the right of entry to and abode in the United Kingdom is the only citizenship right that is specifically attached to the status of British citizenship.6