§ 17. Mr. Bob Russell (Colchester)
What action he has taken since the publication of his White Paper on overseas territories to prepare for the introduction of the legislation. 
§ The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Tony Lloyd)
Action to prepare a brief for an overseas territories Bill is under way. It is proposed that the legislation will cover three areas: changes to relevant legislation to reflect the new title of United Kingdom overseas territories; the offer of British citizenship to British dependent territories citizens; and minor constitutional changes. We intend to place legislation before Parliament at the earliest opportunity possible.
§ Mr. Russell
So far, so good. Does the Minister accept that the sense of betrayal in the overseas territories is the same today as it was 18 years ago when full British citizenship was withdrawn by the Conservative Government? While I welcome his proposals, he did not mention the time scale. Does he accept that unless the Government introduce early legislation, the sense of betrayal will continue?
§ Mr. Lloyd
I do not accept that the sense of betrayal is still there. In fact, throughout the overseas territories there has been a warm welcome for the Government's positive tone. I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman, who has valiantly fought this case over more than a few months. There is no doubt that the people of the overseas territories know that the injustice that they felt is in the process of being lifted. They welcome that, and our commitment is that it will happen.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)
On the British Indian Ocean territory, can something be done to help those wretched people who were shoved off their archipelago to make way on Diego Garcia for the biggest American base outside the continental United States? With the welcome seminar on reefs to be held at the Foreign Office next week, can something be done to protect their fishing grounds?
§ Mr. Lloyd
As my hon. Friend knows, there is a long and complex history to the position of the former residents of Diego Garcia. It is not a straightforward question. The issue has been resolved, returned to and re-resolved. While we have considerable sympathy for the plight of individuals, in every case the families of those moved from Diego Garcia received a compensation package. The overwhelming majority are citizens of Mauritius and are therefore not in the same position as residents of the overseas territories, who will now benefit by being given full British citizenship.
§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)
As I am chairman of the Falkland Islands group and an active member of the Gibraltar group, the Minister will appreciate my interest in the answer that he gave the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Russell). Will he assure me and the House that the people of the Falklands, Gibraltar and the other overseas territories will be treated fairly? Will the Minister assure me that the people of Gibraltar will be given the same rights as the people of the overseas territories of France, who are able to vote in the European elections?
§ Mr. Lloyd
The fundamental guarantee that the people of Gibraltar, the Falklands and all the overseas territories seek and have received is that sovereignty will not be transferred without their express and declared approval. The hon. Gentleman raises the question of the right of the citizens of Gibraltar to take part in the European elections. I think he knows that the British Government have worked and will continue to work hard to guarantee that they obtain precisely that right.