New Clause 5 - Report

Part of British Overseas Territories Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 6th December 2001.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) 11:00 am, 6th December 2001

I am afraid that I cannot give the exact numbers that the hon. Member for West Suffolk requested, but it has been said in many places that 200,000 people will benefit from the Bill. It is worth reminding hon. Members, particularly those who have not been involved in previous debates on the subject, that 70 per cent. of the people under discussion enjoy a higher gross domestic product per head than we do. Therefore it is highly unlikely that we shall suddenly face a huge influx of people coming to live in this country, particularly given the difference between our climate and that of places such as the Cayman Islands.

As the hon. Gentleman said, new clauses 5 and 6 would commit the Government to producing and publishing annual progress reports. We shall, of course, want to monitor the implementation of the Bill, and some things that he asked us to do are fairly straightforward, such as publishing the number of people who apply for British passports. I expect that that will be self-financing, because the fee levied for issuing the passport will cover the cost.

The figures for registration and naturalisation will also be published. It will not be possible to provide figures for those who exercise their right of abode in the United Kingdom, because the Bill will create new British citizens who can come into the country on full British passports as freely as Committee members can. They will not be subject to any immigration controls.

As I said to the hon. Member for Windsor, there are many opportunities in this House and in the other place to discuss making a provision for an annual report that would cover the British overseas territories. Such a report goes beyond the scope of the Bill, and I hope that the hon. Member for West Suffolk will withdraw his new clause.