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Wednesday, March 17, 1999 Published at 16:32 GMT

World: Europe

Britain restores colony rights

In Britain The Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, has announced that British citizenship will be offered to all residents of dependent territories who wish to take it up.

Many of the inhabitants have been deprived of the automatic right to a British passport - and thus the ability to live and work in Britain - since the early 1980s.

Officials say the restoration of citizenship rights is not conditional, but the Overseas Territories as they will now be known will be expected over time to bring their laws into line with the British legal system on such matters as capital punishment and the legalisation of homosexuality. Britain still has thirteen dependent territories, with a total population of around one-hundred-and-fifty-thousand.

Britain will maintain its development aid programmes for the poorer territories and budgetary aid for the two least developed, Montserrat and St Helena.

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