UK wants power balance

| 03/10/2008

(CNS): The Leader of the UK constitutional delegation, Ian Hendry, has said that contrary to some suggestions the UK does not view the constitutional proposals put forth by the Cayman Islands Government as a giant leap towards independence but he said the key issue was establishing the appropriate balance between the aspirations of the elected government and the reserve powers to be retained by the UK government.

Speaking at a live televised press briefing to update the public on the progress of the first round of constitutional talks held this week Hendry said that the UK understands thedesire for more decision making power by the elected government, but while the Cayman Islands remained an Overseas Territory which was what the Caymanian people desired then the UK retained ultimate responsibility on the international stage. He said there was work to do in the negotiating process to try and makes sure that the balance of power remained acceptable for both sides and that the outcome was a workable one.

“One of the key areas of this negotiation is the balance between the powers that should reside with the governor and those that reside in the elected government it is a balancing exercise,” he said.

Although he said he did not want to go into the particularities he used the example of the governor’s position currently of being solely responsible for external affairs and internal security. He said during the talks they were examining whether some shared responsibility would be useful and appropriate and acceptable to both sides in both those fields. He noted that some power sharing has been established in other territories.

“This week we have begun to feel our way towards possible solutions in these areas we are not there yet as they are complicated and difficult,” said Hendry. “There are several elements to this and we will come back to them with an open mind but both of these areas are sensitive.”

He explained the sensitivity was on both sides –locally because of the expectations of the electorate and for the UK because when things go badly wrong then the UK is still expected to carry the responsibility for the Cayman Islands. Hendry did his best to explain that the negotiations centred around recognising the perfectly understandable desire by Cayman for more autonomy and decisions making set against the UK’s need to retain reserve powers to protect their responsibility for the territory.

Minister Alden McLaughlin said he was optimistic as the UK had not rejected outright any of the government’s proposals. However, when asked if the UK had agreed to the idea of the Attorney General being outside the Cabinet and the Legislative Assembly, Hendry would not be drawn on specifics but said that the office of the AG was very, very important. He said it was crucial he or she be both independent and in a position to give objective legal advice.

“The advice that the Attorney General gives to the Cabinet and the Legislative Assembly is a vital part of the work of those bodies,” he added. “What we will be discussing and will continue to discuss is an acceptable and appropriate way of ensuring those functions can continue. It is still under discussion we will have to come back to that.”

Leader of Government Business  Kurt Tibbetts said the talks had gone well and the government hoped between now and the first week of December when the next round of the talks convene again, the government and opposition will have reached further consensus enabling the parties to get closer to a finished draft constitution by the second round. Tibbetts said he wanted to see a draft constitution ready by January in order to give the country time to study the finished document before it was put to the referendum.

“We are all going to want to go back to who we represent and talk them through the document,” he said. Before that point however the LoGB said he it was critically important for the opposition to have the will to sit down and talk things through so Cayman could get as close a compromise as possible so London is not confused by the signals.

“After four days of initial talks we have a pretty good feel for what the UK will accept and what they won’t accept. We will now have the benefit of that with any future talks between the opposition, other stakeholders and ourselves. I see absolutely no reasons why we can’t come together to get something that is satisfactory for all,” said Tibbetts.


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  1. Anonymous says:

    Why are we not preparing for Independence. As a voting constituent of this country I am concerned that the UK wants all this power so they can do what with it? Why don’t we have control of our country? We pretty much do now. We pay all the bills, I don’t know that we have had to ask the UK for any financial assistance, if they sent some then thank you but we should be considering Independence. If Caymanians want control of their destiny and their country they have to think this way. However, many don’t want this because then they will no longer be able to manipulate the systems they way they are done now and when trouble brews they suddenly all of a sudden don’t know what to do and where to turn and then the ball gets dropped and a bill price tag comes to fall in our laps. Independence is the only way. No I am not a paper Caymanian, I am a Native Caymanian. I want as a Nation to be weaned from Mother England, it is time we stand on our own two feet and move forward. If we go independence then we can control out own destiny not have itdictated to us and shoved down our throats with a plunger. Thank you the members of the FCO for dropping by, but you attitude and mentality towards the people of this country was precarious to say the least, but typical of what we expected anyway. The FCO couldn’t care less what the people of this country had to say because we mean absolutelynothing to them. They came with all good intentions to tell us we have to do what they say or else. I am happy with the or else part. Next time the FCO visits I hope it is in the capacity of a Tourist. Native Caymanians if you want your country to do what you want it to do, call out for Independence. Take the boldest step you will ever take for the protection of your children’s future. If our futures were thought about by our forefathers many years ago we wouldn’t be in the position we are in today. Under Attack!! For change to happen the Cayman Islands must go independent of mother England. Calling all Native Caymanians to stand together, all PPM and UDP members to unite and come together as we are all Caymanians. Please STOP the bickering, and bashing of each other. If we don’t a mutual ground between both parties we are going to suffer even more. Hon. Minister Kurt Tibbetts our LOGB and the Leader of the Opposition Hon. McKeeva Bush please unite your parties, your native Caymanians no longer want you both to be separate, we want you to unite. Native Caymanians are appealing for you to think of us for the moment and do what is best for our country. Thank you and God Bless these lovely islands.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The head of UK delegation indicated that he took the PPM proosals on face value in that they were not seeking independence.  He also indicated that some of the individual PPM proposals would not be agreeable to the UK and that the approach was on the whole package.  He also reminded the people of our ultimate choices. Should we choose to remain a territory of the UK we have to realize that the UK will want ultimate authority. If the Cayman Islands were responsible for the cointigent liabilities of the UK – we would want ultimate auithority too.




    • Anonymous says:

      Contingent liabilities my foot! When the UK actually had a contingent liability when we were devastated after Hurricane Ivan it did not live up to it. Instead, it hoped that this was our demise as a financial centre. 

      While I do not agree with a call for independence at this time, I believe it is critical that we make advancements in our constitution so that we learn how to govern ourselves and can do so if forced by an unpalatable choice into independence.