Angela Eagle: We cannot seize records if no offence has been committed. If an offence has been committed, records are liable to be seized as evidence.
Mr. Allan: I do not want to labour the point, because we have little time. [Hon Members: ''Then don't.''] We will return to the point again, but the Minister has said that the records will not be seized unless an offence has been committed. We accept that an offence will have to have been committed. What we are querying is whether the records belong to the offender. That remains an open question under the existing wording.
In order to facilitate progress, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 120 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 121 to 126 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Amendment made: No. 397, in page 78, line 11, at end insert
Mr. Gerrard: I beg to move amendment No. 13, in page 78, leave out lines 29 and 30 and insert 'Sections 26 to 29'.
The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to take the following: New Clause 2British Citizenship
'Any person who was a British Overseas citizen under the British Nationality Act 1981 or the Hong Kong Act 1985 or a British subject, or a British Protected Person, immediately before commencement of this Act, and who holds no other citizenship, shall at commencement of this Act become a British citizen.'.
Mr. Gerrard: I see that I have a huge amount of time to deal with what I think is actually quite an important subject, so I want to make two or three brief but important points. The question of British overseas citizens was referred to on Second Reading by my hon.
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Friends the Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart) and for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall). The Home Secretary said in response that he recognised that there was an issue that needed to be dealt with. He said that it was a moral obligation, and that we should look for some alternative arrangement to the existing special quota scheme. The new clause is one possible way of fulfilling that obligation. I appreciate that there may be other mechanisms that we could consider.
The Government have said that circumstances have changed. The special quota scheme was set up because of pressures in countries of origin that do not apply any more. It is true that the numbers are now quite small. I would remind the Committee that we created the situation by what we did in the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1968 and the British Nationality Act 1981. We have a moral obligation to deal with what is now a dwindling number of people who are effectively stateless.
Angela Eagle: The Home Secretary's words on Second Reading speak for themselves. I assure my hon. Friend that we are considering how we can act on that. There are ways other than new clause 2 and amendment No. 13, and I hope that he recognises that. We will deal with the matter in due course.
Mr. Gerrard: With that reassurance, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment made: No. 398, in page 78, line 52, at end insert
'Special Immigration Appeals Commission Act 1997 (c. 68)
Schedule 7, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 127 to 129 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
The following Members attended the Committee:
Illsley, Mr. Eric (Chairman)
Winterton, Ms Rosie