HC Deb 16 December 1982 vol 34 cc471-2
11. Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what changes he proposes to the British Nationality Act to accommodate the aspirations of the inhabitants of Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, Hong Kong, St. Helena and any other dependency.

Mr. Raison

The Government are not opposed to the Bill introduced in another place, which would confer British citizenship on the Falkland Islanders. We have no proposals for changes in the status under the British Nationality Act of the inhabitants of Gibraltar, Hong Kong, St. Helena or any other dependency.

Mr. Lyon

Since the British Nationality Act was introduced to clear up the confusion between the citizenship of those born here, or those who are descended from people born here, and the citizenship of those in other parts of the former British empire, is it not absurd that we should chip away, bit by bit, at the edifice prepared in the British Nationality Act to give certainty, simply to appease pressure groups in the Conservative Party?

Mr. Raison

No, Sir. We do not intend to undermine the edifice of the British Nationality Act, but the circumstances of the Falkland Islands are wholly exceptional.

Mr. Dan Jones

Among the aspirations of the countries mentioned, one can reasonably assume that their economies are the chief concern. I rise to speak today—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman and I understand each other, because we come from the same valley. He will therefore understand that for "speak" I shall substitute that he proposes to ask a question. He will then be all right.

Mr. Dan Jones

I want to say quite definitely—[Interruption.] Hon. Members might give me a chance to speak. I have had meetings in that area with the Home Secretary about the economy and the discussions have always been constructive. As a result, I am complaining, or asking the Minister—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Well, Conservative Members are really sticking to a minor point, are they not? I ask the Minister to use his undoubted influence in the Cabinet and to make representations to ensure that we guard our aspirations, just as those countries guard theirs. Will the right hon. Gentleman do that much?

Hon. Members

Answer the question.

Mr. Raison

I give the hon. Gentleman my categoric assurance that I shall do that.

Mr. McQuarrie

I am delighted that my right hon. Friend has said that there will be no alteration in the position of the people of Gibraltar. However, will he give an assurance that there is no question of us nibbling away at the edifice—as the hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon) suggested—because the people of Gibraltar are more British than the British and are entitled to British citizenship?

Mr. Raison

We have no intention of nibbling away at Gibraltar.

Mr. Cryer

Will the Minister fulfil the aspirations of those on an island such as Diego Garcia, or is the truth that if the inhabitants are black and are to be thrown off the island because an American air force base is to De built there their aspirations can be put to one side while billions of pounds can be poured in to fulfil the aspirations of the Falkland Islanders, because they happen to be white?

Mr. Raison

That really is another question.