§ 20. Mr. Bob Russell (Colchester)
When he plans to introduce legislation to restore full British citizenship to the people of St. Helena. 
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Robin Cook)
I confirmed in the White Paper last month that we shall be extending British citizenship to all citizens of the overseas territories, including St. Helena. The Government of St. Helena have since expressed their welcome for this. The House will be aware that it is the convention not to announce in advance of the Queen's Speech when parliamentary legislation will be introduced, but we shall seek to do so as soon as practicable.
§ Mr. Russell
I certainly welcome the Government's best intentions to put right the 18 years of wrongdoing by the previous Government. I think that the 5,500 islanders are looking for the speedy passage of legislation. I would welcome any assistance that the Foreign Secretary can give to put right the 18 years of neglect and rejection of the previous Government.
§ Mr. Cook
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the number of times that he has raised this issue, which I 694 know is a matter of interest to his constituents who, as I understand it, share the same patron saint, St. Helena. I am glad for the hon. Gentleman's support and I look forward to it when we introduce legislation. It will be a complex and detailed matter, as any nationality legislation must be. However, I can assure the hon. Gentleman and the House that, having secured the agreement, we intend to act on it as soon as we can to put right the injustice that we inherited from the previous Administration.
§ Mr. Ted Rowlands (Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney)
May I add my warm thanks and my congratulations to my right hon. Friend on making such a decision, not only for the people of St. Helena but for many other people in other overseas territories who wish to take advantage of what is proposed? Does my right hon. Friend have any idea how many citizens in the other overseas territories are saying that they intend to take up this right?
§ Mr. Cook
We would expect that most of the citizens of the overseas territories would take up the right to British citizenship. That does not mean, of course, that they will wish to take up the right to settle in Britain. We should remember that our overseas territories are now so vigorous and successful in terms of prosperity that most of them enjoy a standard of living that is higher than that of the United Kingdom.
It is not immediately apparent why the residents of Caribbean islands with a higher standard of living than that of people in Britain should necessarily choose to leave their home to come to settle in Britain. However, they will find what we propose an important step in demonstrating that we are as proud of them as they are of their British connections. They will welcome the opportunity to travel freely throughout Europe without going through the non-EU channel when they visit other countries of the European Union.