By Tim Sculthorpe
MPs will debate a petition calling for Donald Trump to be excluded from the UK after it became the biggest ever protest on the Government's website.
More than 568,000 people signed the petition demanding the Republic US presidential candidate be banned from Britain after a series of statements about Britain's 'massive Muslim problem' and his call for all Muslim entry to America to be blocked.
Last week the Government officially responded to the call by outlining its powers to ban individuals from entering the UK.
A separate petition, opposing any ban, will be debated at the same time on Monday January 18 in Westminster Hall. That petition, which has been signed almost 40,000 times, was given an identical response by minister.
Announcing the debate, petitions committee chairwoman Helen Jones said: 'By scheduling a debate on these petitions, the Committee is not expressing a view on whether or not the Government should exclude Donald Trump from the UK.
'As with any decision to schedule a petition for debate, it simply means that the Committee has decided that the subject should be debated.
'A debate will allow a range of views to be expressed.'
Veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn will lead the debate, which will not lead to a vote and cannot implement a ban.
Last week, the Government declared Mr Trump could be banned from entering the UK if he is deemed by ministers to be 'non-conducive to the public good'.
Prime Minister David Cameron said Mr Trump's call to ban all Muslims from entering America was 'divisive, stupid and wrong' and ministers had steered clear of backing a ban on the controversial politician.
The Government used its response to outline its 'very serious' banning powers, warning they are not 'used lightly'.
It said: 'For good reasons the Government does not routinely comment on individual immigration and exclusion decisions.
'The Home Secretary may exclude a non-European Economic Area national from the UK if she considers their presence in the UK to be non-conducive to the public good.
'The Home Secretary has said that coming to the UK is a privilege and not a right and she will continue to use the powers available to prevent from entering the UK those who seek to harm our society and who do not share our basic values.
'Exclusion powers are very serious and are not used lightly. The Home Secretary will use these powers when justified and based on all available evidence.
Mr Trump's claims about Muslims in the UK and in America drove the e-petition to the highest number of signatories ever recorded earlier this month
'The Prime Minister has made clear that he completely disagrees with Donald Trump's remarks. The Home Secretary has said that Donald Trump's remarks in relation to Muslims are divisive, unhelpful and wrong.
'The Government recognises the strength of feeling against the remarks and will continue to speak out against comments which have the potential to divide our communities, regardless of who makes them.
'We reject any attempts to create division and marginalisation amongst those we endeavour to protect.'
MPs will decide whether to debate the petition in the new year.
The petition to the Government read: 'The signatories believe Donald J Trump should be banned from UK entry.
'The UK has banned entry to many individuals for hate speech. The same principles should apply to everyone who wishes to enter the UK.
'If they United Kingdom is to continue applying the 'unacceptable behaviour' criteria to those who wish to enter its borders, it must be fairly applied to the rich as well as the poor, and the weak as well as the powerful.'
Speaking to the Home Affairs committee of MP last month, Home Secretary Theresa May said she would not comment on an individual case.
She said: 'I think we all agree that the comments Donald Trump made in relation to Muslims were divisive, unhelpful and wrong.
'In relation to the question of banning individuals from the UK, given the role I play in making those decisions, I don't comment on individual cases.
The decision on whether to ban anyone from the UK is made by the home secretary on the basis of the evidence at the time.'
Mr Trump has become an unlikely front runner in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, ahead of the contest to replace Barack Obama in the White House next year.
Despite sparking outrage with his remarks, Mr Trump's poll rating has appeared to move ever higher with each controversy.
The tycoon has remained defiant, accusing Britons of 'trying hard to disguise their massive Muslim problem' and said his critics are just 'pandering to political correctness'.
One of his most inflammatory Twitter messages about Britain has been retweeted more than 6,000 times.
In a series of statements he said 'UK politicians should be thanking me' for his claim that some of the country's Muslim communities are no-go areas because of extremism.
He also attacked 'out of touch' MPs who abused him over his demand for an end to Muslim immigration to America, tweeting: 'Everybody is wise to what is happening, very sad! Be honest!'
And he hit back at the hundreds of thousands signing the official petition demanding Mr Trump he be banned from Britain, writing on Twitter: 'They don't know what they're getting into'.
Mr Trump caused worldwide consternation after a string of incendiary remarks about Muslims in the United States.
He said he was 'calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on'.
Justifying his comments later, he claimed that in Britain 'we have places in London and other places that are so radicalised that police are afraid for their own lives'.