Clause 1 - British overseas territories

British Overseas Territories Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 6th December 2001.

Alert me about debates like this

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

Clause 1 gives legal effect to the decision to change the collective of name of the territories from dependent territories to British overseas territories. This policy was announced in a White Paper in March 1999, and it is intended to reflect the changing relationship between the United Kingdom and these territories.

Clause 1 substitutes ''British overseas territories'' for the old heading ''British dependent territories'' in schedule 6 to the British Nationality Act 1981, and makes that change wherever else the phrase occurs within the 1981 Act. The clause also inserts into schedule 1 of the Interpretation Act 1978 a new definition of British overseas territory, which would be the same as that in the British Nationality Act 1981. These name changes are simply alterations of labels and involve no changes to substantive law.

Photo of Richard Spring Richard Spring Conservative, West Suffolk

First, I welcome you to the Chair, Mr. Butterfill. I know that proceedings are in safe hands.

We have no difficulty with the change described by the Minister. I agree that it updates the language of the definition of our relationship with overseas territories, and we are happy to support it.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North

My concern, which I raised on Second Reading, is the inclusion of the British Antarctic territories in the list of British overseas territories. I acknowledge that nobody lives permanently in the British Antarctic territories, but with climate change one never knows—given time many folk may live there. There are two scientific bases, and although they are not permanently occupied, they are sometimes occupied for 365 days in a year. I realise that this may seem an entirely theoretical point, but I am questioning the inclusion of the British Antarctic territories because of the British claim on them.

Photo of John Butterfill John Butterfill Conservative, Bournemouth West

Order. The hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity to debate that later in proceedings; it is not relevant to clause 1 stand part.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North

I would not disagree with you, Mr. Butterfill, but perhaps I can help you with an explanation. Adopting clause 1 in its current form would not prevent me from making this point when we debate later amendments, but it would mean that the Committee would have approved what we agree to be British overseas territories, and I am at variance with that view. Is it in order for me to proceed?

Photo of John Butterfill John Butterfill Conservative, Bournemouth West

If the hon. Gentleman wishes, his amendments can be grouped with clause 1 stand part and debated now. That would replace their present grouping. I would be happy to permit that, but I should stress that they could not be debated again later.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North

If that is the case, we will come to the issue in due course, when I hope to catch your eye.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.