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Baroness Amos: In response to the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, I am grateful that some of those noble Lords who are very diligent in dealing with European matters are not here to ask me questions about the Bill.

It may assist the Committee if I deal with the general point concerned with human rights with which the noble Baroness dealt at some length. I shall then go on to deal with the content of Amendments Nos. 2 and 3. A number of issues were raised by the noble Baroness. She also said that a number of issues remained unanswered. We need to distinguish between those issues which it is appropriate to deal with within the legislation and the huge raft of issues which relate to the application of the legislation on the ground. We have sought to deal with those issues by way of a paper which has been sent to the overseas territories. As I said earlier, that document has also been placed in the Library of the House. If having looked at the paper and Hansard there are any outstanding questions, I undertake to write to the noble Baroness.

As to human rights, the Bill will fully comply with the United Kingdom's international obligations. The establishment and maintenance of high standards of observance of human rights is an important aspect of our relationship with the territories. The European Convention on Human Rights was extended to the territories in 1953, with their agreement. Since then, the core UN Human Rights instruments have been or are being extended in the same way. Most territories have fundamental rights chapters in their constitution which protect these rights.

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We have recently commissioned a review of these chapters and a model human rights chapter. These have been sent to the territories to feed into their constitutional review processes. In addition, we have served on foreign and commonwealth offices funding jointly with the Department for International Development a territory-wide project on the realisation of human rights for vulnerable groups; another on children and women's rights in the eastern Caribbean territories and the Turks and Caicos Islands; a major human rights conference in the Cayman Islands, to which all Caribbean territories were invited; and various individual programmes in other territories.

I turn to Amendments Nos. 2 and 3. Amendment No. 2 would in effect deny to British Overseas Territories citizens the rights to freedom of movement in Europe to which they would be entitled as British citizens, and therefore take away an important advantage of British citizenship.

By granting British citizenship to British Dependent Territories citizens we would in effect be lifting the limitations that that status currently carries with it, especially with regard to freedom of movement. The amendment places persons who as a result of the Bill have been granted British citizenship at a disadvantage compared with other British citizens when travelling, working, studying and living anywhere within the European Community.

We are very keen to avoid that. We have made clear that the citizenship provisions of the Bill remove the very restraints, such as exclusion from EU free movement and established rights, which the amendment seeks to impose.

I turn to Amendment No. 3. British Dependent Territories citizens who become British citizens as a result of the Bill will also be British Overseas Territories citizens. Their relationship with their territory of origin will not change, and we expect them to be treated no differently within that territory.

The Bill will not alter the definition of overseas territory "belongership", which is a concept of territory nationality. That confers the right of abode, voting rights, the right to hold public office and in many cases to own land in the territory. This status is automatically acquired by the indigenous population and normally by those born in the territory to people settled in the territory. Under local immigration laws, "belongership" can be conferred on a discretionary basis on long-term residents who meet certain criteria. None of that will change as a result of the Bill.

There will be no compulsion about taking up the benefits of British citizenship. Those who choose to do so will in any case retain their British Overseas Territories citizens status. The noble Baroness's proposed amendment risks creating doubt about the position post commencement, where, as matters stand, there is none.

In the light of this explanation I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Young: Perhaps I may ask a question. My noble friend Lady Rawlings raised a number of very

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important constitutional questions. I recognise that the Minister may not be able to answer them all immediately. I also recognise that these are probing amendments. But one of the issues which very much worries people living in the dependent territories is exactly what their responsibilities and obligations are under the Bill.

My noble friend pointed out a number of really very big issues. Of course one issue is human rights. Indeed, part of the answer about that is set out in the many pieces of paper. However, if one takes the two issues to which my noble friend referred--the death penalty and the decriminalisation of homosexuality--whatever one may think about them, and I am not here discussing their relative merits, they were actually imposed on countries. In the case of homosexuality, that was introduced against the wishes of the government, the opposition and virtually everyone in the territories. Once the Bill becomes law, will the whole panoply of what the overseas territories describe as "European political correctness" automatically be forced on these islands, or are we actually saying that there is a new relationship; that they are entitled to their point of view; and that they will not necessarily have these changes imposed on them? Of course other things will flow if that is the case.

Both these measures were introduced by Order in Council through the Privy Council without any discussion in this Parliament, let alone anywhere else. I ask about this matter because I believe that we should have a very clear explanation of what actually is intended and what is meant. We need to know that, but, much more important, people living in the dependent territories need to be absolutely clear about their rights and responsibilities under this new set up. I am afraid that they are not set out in the Bill. If the noble Baroness cannot answer immediately, I should be very grateful if she would write to all of us on this matter.

Baroness Amos: In my response to the noble Baroness on Amendment No. 1, I set out very clearly the distinction between rights and responsibilities. I made it absolutely clear that we are here talking about the responsibilities of individuals who become British citizens. Once they become British citizens and have the right of abode in the United Kingdom, these matters apply to them if they take up the right of residence in the United Kingdom.

The questions about the relationship of an Overseas Territories Government to the governments of the European Union are a different set of questions. I am quite happy to write to both noble Baronesses about those constitutional matters. But those matters are far outside the scope of the amendments tabled by the noble Baroness.

Baroness Rawlings: I thank the Minister for her reply and for her undertaking to write to us on any unanswered questions. I understand from what the noble Baroness says and also from what is stated in paragraph 22 of her notes that the provision applies to individuals but not to territories. We find this issue

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quite confusing. Therefore, we may well return to the matter on Report. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 3 not moved.]

Baroness Rawlings moved Amendment No. 4:

    Page 2, line 29, at end insert--

"( ) This Act shall not affect any scheme adopted by a British overseas territory, before or after the commencement of this Act, in relation to the naturalisation of any person within that territory."

The noble Baroness said: Amendment No. 4 is a probing amendment. The Minister said at Second Reading that the Bill sets out a new relationship between ourselves and our overseas territories and that the Bill also establishes the acceptance of new responsibilities on both sides. The amendment seeks to establish more fully that new relationship and the new responsibilities concomitant with it. It probes the question of how much control individual territories have over the process of naturalising citizens within their territories. As the Minister explained at Second Reading, those not yet currently holding a British Overseas Dependent Territories passport will need to apply in the first instance for a British Overseas Territories passport and then, should they wish, a British passport.

I should be grateful for clarification on the following points. Do overseas territories currently make their own arrangements for naturalisation? Does that vary from territory to territory; and are the territories free to change this process?

Before the Minister responds, I should explain what we are trying to achieve with the amendment. We seek to establish whether overseas territories, which will no longer be dependent territories, will, in losing their dependent status, gain any independence? I beg to move.

1.30 p.m.

Baroness Amos: At the start of my remarks, perhaps I may confirm to the noble Baroness that the change of name from "dependent territories" to "overseas territories" is a change of name. The noble Baroness asked whether the territories will no longer be dependent. As I said in response to the debate on Second Reading, the Bill seeks to reflect the partnership which exists between ourselves and the overseas territories and also it seeks to recognise that the world has changed. It is no longer appropriate to refer to "dependency" in this way.

Amendment No. 4 would preserve the arrangements whereby responsibility for registration and naturalisation as a British Dependent Territories citizen is delegated to Governors of overseas territories. In other words, it would preserve the territories' autonomy in this respect. The Bill makes no provision for change from the existing arrangements

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and will not affect the present arrangements in the overseas territories; nor are there currently any plans to make such a change.

I believe that the amendment proposed by the noble Baroness is unnecessary and I ask her to withdraw it.

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