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3.41 pm

Mr. Charles Kennedy (Ross, Skye and Inverness, West): On behalf of my hon. and right hon. Friends, it is a pleasure and a privilege to speak in support of the motion moved by the Prime Minister. This is certainly an issue on which the entire House and, indeed, the vast majority of the country are united. We pay tribute to the remarkable 50 years of national and international devotion, which are the hallmark of the Queen's reign.

All of us in the House, in all parties, know politicians from countries outside our own borders and boundaries—Commonwealth politicians in particular—who will attest to Her Majesty's extraordinarily broad and deep knowledge and her commitment over the past 50 years, which have been the hallmark of her approach not just to her duties to the citizens of this country, but to her wider and, at times, difficult Commonwealth duties.

Despite all the Commonwealth's problems and vicissitudes over the years and the changes that have occurred across the globe, it remains a source of dialogue and, therefore, understanding, and accordingly hope. Her Majesty's pivotal presence, which has been the one constant at the centre, has to have been fundamental to maintaining the Commonwealth and to maintaining that dialogue and understanding for the force of good in the world generally. That is very much the hallmark of Her Majesty.

Like the Prime Minister and the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr. Duncan Smith), we put on record our sadness at the two untimely and distressing deaths in the royal family this year, but in some ways that sadness has made people realise all the more what a debt of gratitude exists and what remains to be commemorated later this year.

Like others who have identified the Duke of Edinburgh as a pivotal presence in the life of the Queen in particular and the monarchy in general, I express best wishes for the

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rest of the year and for the future. On a purely personal constituency level, we on the Isle of Skye look forward to welcoming Her Majesty in a few weeks' time.

3.43 pm

Mr. David Trimble (Upper Bann): It is indeed a privilege to express my party's support for the motion moved by the Prime Minister on presenting a Humble Address. As he and the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr. Duncan Smith) have said, in the past 50 years, Her Majesty has fulfilled her promise to the nation.

I can endorse from my own experience the words of the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Inverness, West (Mr. Kennedy). Her Majesty does not fulfil her functions routinely or casually; she pays very close attention, and is extremely well informed on a wide range of subjects. From personal experience gained on many occasions, I can testify to her knowledge of and interest in the issues. That is true not only of her, but of the Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the royal family.

The Prime Minister also referred to the important role that the monarchy plays in the nation as a whole. Not many institutions in our United Kingdom are common to the entire kingdom, but the monarchy is one, and the most important. I make that reflection particularly coming from Northern Ireland, where we occasionally feel forgotten by some of the other institutions of our state, but not the monarchy.

I know that I am speaking not just for my party colleagues, adherents and supporters, but for a wide range of people in Northern Ireland who will also want to associate themselves with this Humble Address as a fitting way to mark Her Majesty's jubilee.

3.45 pm

Hywel Williams (Caernarfon): On behalf of the Scottish National party and Plaid Cymru, may I add our congratulations to Queen Elizabeth on her golden jubilee? Clearly, we are not overwhelmingly convinced of the virtue of the monarchical principle, but it is right that we should acknowledge the achievements of the golden jubilee. Queen Elizabeth has outlasted a succession of Prime Ministers. To borrow a phrase from Sir Robin Day, she has outlasted many a "here today, gone tomorrow"

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Prime Minister, and for that matter many a "here today, gone tomorrow" Leader of the Opposition. That is no mean achievement.

It would be remiss of me as the hon. Member for Caernarfon not to note the connection that the town has had with the monarchy—with the Welsh monarchy, and in its most recent incarnation. Indeed, many Caernarfon citizens, especially from the older generation, would wish me to convey their congratulations to the Queen, and I am happy to do so today.

3.46 pm

Mr. Nigel Dodds (Belfast, North): May I briefly associate my hon. Friends with the terms of the motion proposed by the Prime Minister? In congratulating Her Majesty on the achievement of her golden jubilee, may I, on behalf of her subjects in Northern Ireland, join with the other right hon. and hon. Members who have spoken in expressing our heartfelt gratitude to Her Majesty for her 50 years of devoted service to all the people and to all parts of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland?

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, nemine contradicente,


Mr. Speaker: I have a short statement to make about the arrangements for Tuesday 30 April. The House will meet for prayers at 10 o'clock. I will then suspend the sitting until 2.30 pm. Members attending the ceremony in Westminster Hall should be in their seats in the Hall by 10.30 am. The Speaker's procession with the Mace will enter Westminster Hall shortly before the arrival of Her Majesty the Queen. After the ceremony, the Mace will be returned to this Chamber, so the Chamber will be closed to visitors until the sitting is resumed at 2.30 pm.

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24 Apr 2002 : Column 341

Orders of the Day

Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill

[Relevant documents: The First Report from the Home Affairs Committee, Session 2000–01, on Border Controls, HC 163.]

Order for Second Reading read.

3.48 pm

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Blunkett): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

I had looked forward to complete unanimity on the Bill, but I read in this morning's papers that it is likely to be questioned, in that some of the measures have been misinterpreted by colleagues and opponents alike.

First, I want to put on record the considerable help that was given in drafting the original White Paper on 7 February and the Bill—help given by organisations including pressure groups with a long-standing interest in these issues, and by parliamentary colleagues as well as my office and officials in the Department and Nick Pearce, my special adviser. I say that because, building on the White Paper proposals that received almost unanimous support, it is important that we get the legislation right. From the beginning to the end of the process, we must offer to potential refugees from oppression, economic migrants or other visitors a warm welcome to a country in which the systems can be trusted to operate fairly, competently and robustly.

Today's Second Reading builds directly on the measures in the White Paper, many of which do not require legislation but which require greater competence in the carrying out of our immigration and asylum procedures than has been demonstrated in recent years. I said that on 7 February and I repeat it today, because if we do not get the process right—if the measures put in place are not carried out properly, competently and speedily—it will not matter how we legislate, and we will have to return to the House to seek legislative means of redress.

We need a balanced approach, and I believe that Members on both sides of the House are committed to achieving that. Managed migration allows those throughout the world who have a contribution to make, and who are seeking a better life for themselves, to enter this country through a system of economic migration that is properly organised and trusted by the British people.

The doubling of the number of work permits issued this year must be accompanied by measures to ensure that new forms of economic migration can meet the needs of the service economy and of those who have high skills, so that they can take advantage of the new programmes that were put in place in January. In enabling people to come to this country for a short or a long stay, and to contribute their diversity and strengths to the well-being of our country, we must also strengthen the welcome for those who seek asylum from death and persecution. The new gateways for economic migration and the gateway that we are establishing with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will enable those who face persecution to apply for, and to be granted, such status from outside the country. Those gateways will be crucial

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in ensuring that we avoid scenes—such as those witnessed last summer and since—of clandestine attempts, often at great personal risk, to enter the country through the channel tunnel and via ferries.

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