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Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): Order. The hon. Gentleman is now moving outside the scope of the Bill. This is a Third Reading debate and he must confine his remarks to the contents of the Bill before the House.
Although we are all congratulating the Government on introducing the Bill, we must look beyond it. We have to consider the other people for whom we have responsibilitythe people of the British overseas territoriesand I hope that the Minister will take on board the points that I have made.
I congratulate the hon. Member for Colchester (Bob Russell) on his steadfast defence of the people of St. Helena. I also congratulate all those who have spoken up for the rights of the people of the British Indian Ocean Territory, and I am delighted that their rights were acknowledged in Committee. This is a huge step in the right direction. I commend the Government on what they are proposing to do at this stage, but I ask them to look at this issue in the longer term, to consider the points made about democratic representation, and to give all British people of the overseas territories the same rights that we enjoy in the British isles. My hon. Friend the Member for West Suffolk (Mr. Spring) suggested on Second Reading that these matters could also be considered in discussions relating to the constitutional reform of the House of Lords, and I hope that the Government will take that point on board.
Mr. Bradshaw: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Please forgive me if I rattle through my speech somewhat. My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Jeremy Corbyn) pointed out that I was feeling a bit under the weather, and I am hoping to get through this before I have to rush out. I shall try to do so without hurrying too much.
I thank all right hon. and hon. Members who have participated in the debate. As ever, it has been excellent, and I am particularly grateful for the constructive and courteous approach adopted by the hon. Member for West Suffolk (Mr. Spring) throughout the Bill's passage through the House. He raised a number of issues that have been raised before in Committee and elsewhere. On higher educationan issue raised by a number of hon. Memberswe have a great deal of sympathy with the citizens of the overseas territories who will become British citizens under the Bill. I can only repeat that the Bill deals with citizenship, not residency. Rights and access to higher education, and help with higher education funding in this country, are dependent on residency, not on citizenship.
That does not mean, however, that the Government are not looking at new ways in which we could help, particularly in the case of some of the more remote territories that have no higher education facilities. Some such schemes are already in operation, and I remind hon. Members that a review of higher education funding is currently going on in Government, to which I hope they will contribute, making the points they have made here tonight.
I should like to associate myself with the comments of the hon. Member for West Suffolk and other hon. Members on the Ilois. That brings me to the role played by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North throughout the passage of the Bill; he has made an outstanding contribution. He is right to say that a terrible wrong was meted out to the Ilois people, and, step by step, we are putting that right. Certainly, as long as I am in this job, I shall continue to listen very sympathetically to any representations that he makes that are similar to those he made this evening. I hope that he will take up the issues directly in a meeting that he is having with my noble Friend who leads on the matter of the overseas territories in the other place, Baroness Amos.
My hon. Friend's question about the yacht intrigued me, so I asked my officials for advice. Apparently, there is nothing to stop anyone from returning to the outer islands. It is just that, at the moment, the Ilois want us to do it for them; they want us to organise a resettlement package. So, in theory, in the unlikely event of an Ilois having the money, they could hop on to one of these yachts and go back. There is no law against people arriving on the outer islands.
The hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Trend) touched on the issue of higher education, and I hope that what I have said will encourage him. I was asked why there was no statutory provision written into the Bill, and I have explained that that is because the Bill is about citizenship, and not about residency, which is what confers rights to higher education funding. The hon. Gentleman also spoke about St. Helena's access problems. He will be aware that the Department for International Development has agreed to fund the lower amount already, and it is discussing helpfully and sympathetically with the St. Helena Government how the difference can be made up between the cost of the airport and the new ship. I promise to give close attention to the letter that the hon. Gentleman has written to me on British overseas citizens, although that subject was outside the scope of the Bill.
The hon. Gentleman and the hon. Members for Colchester (Bob Russell) and for Romford (Mr. Rosindell) expressed their disquiet that the citizens of the overseas territories do not have political representation. They do, however, have such representation in that a lot of them have quite a high level of self-governance. I would suggest that they also have indirect political representation in this House and in the other place. The total population of the overseas territories is about 200,000less than twice the population of my constituency. Given the time that the two Houses spend debating the overseas territoriesquite rightlyand the time Members dedicate to championing the cause of those territories, I think they are better represented than many of our constituencies.
One or two Members pointed out that a review was currently being conducted of second-stage reform of the House of Lords. I urge Members, through their parties or through the usual channels, to make their feelings known about how the overseas territories might be represented in that way; but the suggestion that they are under- represented is, I think, a long way from the truth.
The hon. Member for Colchester picked up a point made earlier by my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Peter Bradley), which I did not catch, about statues. I hope there was no suggestion thatgiven the small role I have played in the Bill's passagethere should be a statue of me. Many others have been involved, not least Lady Amos, the lead Minister on these matters, and my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, who was responsible for the White Paper in which the Bill had its beginnings. My right hon. Friend still shows a great interest in the Bill, and he was extremely helpful in securing the Ilois amendments. Many people, not least in the House of Commons, do a great job in championing the causes of the overseas territories, and would be far worthier subjects of any statues, wherever they might be erected.
I thank hon. Members for supporting a Bill that means so much to so many. In particular I thank my officials, who have done an excellent job in getting the Bill through so smoothly and responding to Members' queries about its details. Those officials will consider what more needs to be done in the light of today's debate. In the meantime, I am delighted that we have agreed that the Bill can be returned to another place for final approval.