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All hon. Members feel very pained by the historical treatment of the Ilois, which was referred to at some length by my hon. Friends the Member for Islington, North and for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) among others. Many of the questions that they raised lie outside the scope of the Bill, but I promise to write to them and answer every single one.
One of the issues that my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow and others have raised does have a direct relationship with the Bill. It concerns whether children born to Ilois since their exclusion from the Chagos islands will qualify for British overseas territory citizenship. The answer is yes, they will for the first generation. My hon. Friend asked about those born between 1968 and 1983 whose mothers, but not their fathers came from the Chagos islands. We are aware that an amendment has been suggested on this. Although I hear what my hon. Friend says, at this stage I cannot speculate on the outcome of our considerations.
Mr. Dalyell: This is an on-going saga, but attempts must be made to resolve it fairly soon. I understand that the Minister does not have direct responsibility for this and that the relevant Minister is Lady Amos in another place, so I plead with her to get the various officials at least to see the parties involved before things get any more sour than they are at the moment. Jaw, jaw really is better than conflict.
Mr. Bradshaw: I can reassure my hon. Friend. My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North asked me directly whether my noble Friend who is responsible for this area of policy would be willing to meet those concerned. She has agreed in principle; it is just a matter of fixing dates.
Jeremy Corbyn: In response to my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow, the Minister mentioned the proposed amendment. I hope that it is debated in Committee and agreed. He also said that citizenship would be conferred only on the first generation of families who are living outside the Chagos islands. However, they have been outside for so long that there is now a second generation. If we are prepared to recognise the Ilois people and negotiate with them, surely any of their children or grandchildren should be recognised in exactly the same way as the first generation.
Mr. Bradshaw: We are getting into even more complicated territory, which we could explore in Committee if my hon. Friend wants. The crucial advance that the Government have made is the recognition of the right of return. If we extended British overseas territory citizenship to future generations regardless of where people live, when they have been given the right of return, we would cross a number of lines and would create difficulties elsewhere.
The hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) asked whether the non-reciprocity in the Bill had been agreed because of the EUthere was a certain amount of obsession about the EU among Conservative Membersbut that is not the case. Neither British citizens from the United Kingdom nor EU citizens will be given rights to go to the overseas territories, and the overseas territories will retain control. The EU is involved because the overseas territories' British citizens will be able to move freely in Europe, but non-reciprocity would apply even if EU citizens were not part of the picture. The small size of the overseas territories means that they could not open their doors to 50 million United Kingdoms citizens, let alone all EU nationals.
The hon. Gentleman also asked what would happen if one of those territories decided to vote for independence in future and whether the House would need to pass separate legislation to settle the nationality issue. He is rightsuch legislation would be needed.
Some hon. Members have asked why there should be a delay between Royal Assent and the citizenship provisions coming into force. That delay is simply intended to ensure that the practical arrangements, such as those for the acquisition of British citizen passports, are in place at the time of commencement. We will not delay bringing the citizenship provision into force any longer than is absolutely necessary. Indeed, we are already in detailed consultation with the territories on the format and the arrangements necessary to train staff and issue passports.
My hon. Friend the Member for Slough asked what we are doing in advance to inform people of what their rights will be. We have issued a leaflet to all the territories' representatives in London, and I hope that they are distributing copies widely in the territories. I am sorry that I have not been able to address all the questions that have been asked.
Peter Bradley: I am grateful to the Minister for the assurance that he, the Foreign Office and the Home Office will do all they can to ensure that there is no undue delay, but will he confirm that there is absolutely no need to delay commencement until such time as the passports can be issued? In those circumstances, is there any reason why commencement should not take place immediately on Royal Assent?
Mr. Bradshaw: As I have said, there is a practical problempeople will naturally expect the rights to be realised on the date of commencement and we might not be able to do that. However, I have told my hon. Friend that I am discussing the issue with my officials, and I shall try to be as helpful as possible.
Many hon. Members have said that the Bill rights wrongs. My hon. Friends the Members for Slough and for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall), who is no longer in his placehe told me that he would have to leave earlydrew attention to the fact that this is the first nationality Bill for 40 years that does something positive; it gives people something, rather than taking something away. All hon. Members can take pride in the Bill, and I commend it to the House.
Mr. Pickles: I agree entirely. "Ill-informed", "rushed" and "botched" exactly describe what has happened. Because the explanatory notes are so inadequate, I will have to ask in my short contribution 12 specific questions that I would not have been able to ask if the notes on such an important order had been even slightly reasonable. In particular, I shall ask one or two searching questions about the amendment that the Government made to the order.
We want to know how quickly Railtrack will come out of administration and we will try to ensure that it will come out as soon as possible. We want to ensure that it will be able to provide vital improvements to our railway infrastructure but, above all, we need to know why it was thought that Railtrack was unable to meet its obligations. That is far from clear from the order or from the information supplied by the Government.
The Government's information seems to be contradictory. We have almost developed a five-point programme for Government information. The first stage is when someonefor example, the chairman of the Strategic Rail Authority, Railtrack or the Rail Regulatormeets the Secretary of State and the second is when they reach an agreement. The third stage takes place when they produce a version of events and the fourth occurs when it is immediately rejected by the Secretary of State. The fifth