Clause 2 - Development assistance for

Part of International Development Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 27 November 2001.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development 10:45, 27 November 2001

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Rosindell) for raising the issue. As he will be aware, there are historical reasons for the nature of our relationship with the British overseas territories. As my hon. Friend the Member for South Dorset (Jim Knight) has just pointed out, another piece of legislation is before Parliament which aims to change the position on UK citizenship for citizens of the British overseas territories.

The overseas territories are a disparate group of countries. They range from those with a very high per capita GDP to those that are developing countries—or, to be more accurate, developing overseas territories—in every sense. I accept, and it is reflected in the Department for International Development's policy, that the overseas territories wish to take greater responsibility for their own affairs. When I recently attended the annual meeting of the overseas territories consultative council, that was a clear feature of the remarks made by the territories' representatives. They want to have greater responsibility for governing themselves and to take decisions about their own future.

We wish to support that, but in the context of our continuing assistance, which has to take account of the varying circumstances among the territories. Some have every possibility of economic development and self-sustaining success, while others have very little possibility of that. The Bill will allow the British Government to have regard to particular circumstances in making decisions on assistance. I hope that that is helpful.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.