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Tuesday, 17 January 2012


British MP Andrew Rosindell
A British MP has called for Bermuda and other overseas territories to be given representation in the UK House of Commons.

In a submission to the UK Parliament’s Backbench Business Committee, Andrew Rosindell said that since the UK makes decisions that can directly effect territories such as Bermuda, the territories should be able to have their own voices heard.

Mr Rosindell, the chairman of the British Overseas Territories All Party Parliamentary Group, said: “We give our 21 territories nothing. All they have is an informal all-party group, of which I am proud to be chairman.

“We have a democratic hole, with hundreds of thousands of people for whom we make laws, whom we ultimately govern and on whose behalf we can declare war, make foreign policy and sign international treaties. We have substantial control over their domestic affairs.

“Those territories that have sterling are bound by much of our own economic policy. In a range of areas, although the Crown dependencies and Overseas Territories are not part of the UK they are substantially influenced and ultimately governed by this Parliament, so it is wrong for them to have no voice at all.”

The Conservative Party MP said other nations, including Australia, Denmark, France and the Netherlands all have external territories, but those territories have representatives elected to external territory committees.

He said he hoped issues related to the overseas territories would be debated this year, noting that this year marks the 30th anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands.

“Perhaps it is an appropriate time to establish the principle that at the very least the UK Parliament gives recognition to our Territories and Dependencies, and that we actually want to debate subjects that affect them, so that is why I have put in for this debate,” he said.

“I have been an MP for 11 years and I do not think there has been an actual debate on territories and dependencies, except when the British Overseas Territories Bill was introduced by the previous Government in 2001-02.

“There needs to be a similar kind of annual debate such as we have on Scotland and Wales. Our 21 territories deserve to be given that kind of recognition, and I hope the Committee will give that due consideration.”

In a recent Government submission to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for a new White Paper on the Overseas Territories, Government called for a greater voice in the UK Parliament on issues affecting the Island.

A section of the submissions read: “This could be done by serving on Parliamentary Committees, for example, where matters affecting Bermuda’s national interest are discussed.”

Mr Rosindell visited the Island last year as part of a three-day fact finding mission, during which he met with Premier Paula Cox. He later told The Royal Gazette they had a frank exchange of views about the relationship between the UK and Bermuda.

He also described Premier Cox as being “cynical” about the British Government’s desire for closer links, comments that National Security Minister David Burch said were disrespectful.

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