UK wants people to have direct say in OT policy

| 28/09/2011

(CNS): The UK’s FCO minister with responsibility for overseas territories is inviting the people of the Cayman Islands, along with all OT people, to submit their thoughts and ideas directly to the FCO on the future of their relationship with Britain. As part of the consultative process towards the creation of a new white paper next year, Henry Bellingham called on everyone in the territories to have their say, when he was visiting Bermuda this week. The Cayman Islands governor said Wednesday that while the premier had appointed a committee to review this, the people could log on to the Governor’s Office website and submit their contributions directly to the UK minister.

Bellingham is encouraging people to join the debate and said he was keen to see the younger generation in particular take part.  “I want this consultation process to include as many people in the Territories as possible,” he said. “I encourage the private sector and the wider community to engage with their government and their governor, especially the younger generation.”

The consultation is designed to identify what the UK can do to improve the functioning of the relationship between it and the territories. Responding to Bellingham’s request for the opinions of the people, McKeeva Bush announced in the Legislative Assembly earlier this month that he would be establishing a committee, which has now been set up and is engaged in the process.

“But the minister is keen that people in the overseas territories also have an opportunity to provide feedback and thoughts direct to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office,” the governor said as he encouraged Caymanians to visit the Governor’s Office website and then click-on Overseas Territories – Have Your Say.

When Bush announced the establishment of a committee, he also revealed that he had concerns about the UK’s wish to speed up the process and bring forward the initial timetable for the new framework being agreed from June 2012 to the spring of next year. “I am seriously concerned that this would prejudice the prospects of territories, including ourselves, to put forward our best position, and accordingly intend to robustly challenge this new timetable,” he had stated.

However, the minister said in his speech in Bermuda that although it was an ambitious agenda, he is keen to progress with the process and will be entering into discussions with government leaders about the issue in a few weeks at the Overseas Territories Consultative Council in November.

The main goal of this process is to replace the existing white paper that guides the relationship between the OTs and the UK, which was put in place more than a decade ago in 1999. The territories had very little say in that white paper and Bush, like other OT leaders, is keen to see more input from the territory governments this time. 

Bellingham said this week that the UK government’s strategy towards this was about having a dialogue on how best the vision and values between it and the territories could be expressed in the new document. He pointed out that the UK’s fundamental responsibility and objective was ensuring the security and good governance of the fourteen territories. 

“We recognised that the Overseas Territories are remarkably diverse; and that policies to meet these objectives need to be tailored to the specific circumstances of each territory. So there’s no question of one size fits all,” he said this week as he launched the dialogue process. 

He pointed out that on the question of independence the current government followed the same policy as its predecessors and that it is for the territories themselves to decide whether they wish to remain connected to the United Kingdom. “Any decision to cut that link should be on the basis of the clearly expressed wish of the majority of the people of the territory in question,” he said.

Bellingham said the aim for the future was for the UK to strengthen the engagement and interaction with the territories, to work with them to strengthen good governance arrangements, public financial management and economic planning where this is necessary and to improve the quality and range of support available to the territories

“We now need to work together to identify what we can do to improve the functioning of the relationship between the UK and each territory,” the UK minister stated. “I am inviting territory governments and communities to make an assessment of the challenges you face and your performance and capabilities, particularly in the areas of good governance, public financial management and economic planning.  I am keen to hear your views on what the UK Government can best do to engage with and support the Territories on these issues.  We believe it is important for the UK and Territories to work together to build partnerships with outside organisations and groups, such as the Commonwealth and the European Union.  We would welcome your views on this too.”
 
The minister spoke too about other UK government departments working with the OTs, not just the FCO, which may mean offering technical expertise or developing the capacity of territory governments.  

“The UK Government proposes to publish a White Paper in 2012 setting out for the wider public our approach to the Overseas Territories … I want to hear about the areas you think we should highlight … The White Paper should help people in the UK and in the Territories understand how we are working to strengthen our partnership,” he added.

There are already partnerships between the UK and OTs involving central and local government, the private sector, non-governmental organisations and professional bodies and the minister said he wanted to see many more.

Bellingham also pointed to the “situation that we are now handling in the Turks and Caicos Islands”, stating that it was one the UK did not want to see repeated and it would be seeking, through the strategy and other mechanisms, to ensure that it didn’t.

Go to “Have your say” portal

Category: Politics

Comments (27)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Seems as if Bellingham knows that Bush does NOT represent the majority of the people.

  2. Anonymous says:

    UK born citizens should have no need for work permits in the terrorities for 5 years,  however this should be tied to free education for the natives of the terrorities in the respective field of education comparable to the UK citizen in the terrority without a work permit.  After the 5 years free work permit if the individual chooses to stay after that time a fee should be paid and they should be allowed to (no need for rollover/PR or status).  This way the islands will benefit from our counterparts and we would have a reliable source of labour and educated individuals in both the UK and terrorities.  This way here will be very limited need for work permits.

  3. Whodatis says:

    Lol! @ the UK pretending as if they are still relevant today.

    Their economy is in a mess, their kids are out of control, crime is rampant, high unemployment, prisons are filled beyond capacity, 20% of their children are being fed, clothed and supported by the (failing) government, they are b-r-o-k-e (hence the removal of the "wicked" Blair-handshaking-partner-in-crime Col. Gaddafi, they are war criminals, liars and murderers … but, they would like to know our opinion on our relationship going forward??

    I'm not sure you want to open that can of worms buddy.

    However, since you asked – how about a neutral sales tax agreement between us OT's and the EU? Personally, that would certainly brighten my day.

    :o)

    Re: "Some factors to think of:
    Corruption
    Fair immigration policies
    Separation of Church and State
    Accountability of all public officials
    Public spending and prudence with the public purse
    Effective Policing and real enforcement of PACE
    Equality, real human rights and the removal of positive discrimination
    Environment
    Development"

    Real world evidence proves that the UK has NO CLUE on how to handle any of the above issues, save for "Separation of Church and State." Don't take my word for it though – just do the research or ask any honest Brit.

  4. Pit Bull says:

    Don't give one penny until they give the votes to Brits.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do NOT give a vote to the likes of Pit Bull. They can keep their money; it is drenched in the blood of the Chagos Islanders in any case.

      • I will settle for the bath towels! says:

        Strange …. I dont believe there was any blood lost during the hand over of the Chagos.

        I think there was a large sum of cash accepted though by members of the local administration in return for the deal, but hey, let's not let the facts get in the way when we can repeatedly tire lever it into a Cayman type argument somewhere

        I seem to remember that recently the official version of events was placed onto a comment on here and the whole Chagos thing went very quiet after that!

        Shame as I was determined to get the George Foreman Grill prize one of these months!

        • Anonymous says:

          "I think there was a large sum of cash accepted though by members of the local administration in return for the deal, but hey, let's not let the facts get in the way when we can repeatedly tire lever it into a Cayman type argument somewhere"

          This is a richly ironic statement since you appear to have no grasp of the true facts but feel compelled to post to vindicate the British Govt. Have a read and stop trying to whitewash the appalling behaviour of the British in this case. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. 

          http://www.chagossupport.org.uk/background/in-their-own-words

          The "large sum of cash" was $1,500 for each person and that was only after they already been forcibly expelled and were living in Mauritius in abject poverty. And there was no "deal". They had no idea what they were signing. Here is an excerpt of their account:

            
          "The truth is that in 1982, when the British Government found out that we were all living in absolute poverty in Mauritius; it decided to grant us some relief by distributing cash for us to be relieved of some of our problems. Each of us got about $1,500, which, for the most part, unfortunately, went into the partial repayment of loans which the Chagossians had taken. The thing is that we were tricked into signing these forms when we collected our money. When we got medicine at the hospital, we were asked to give our thumbprint to acknowledge that we had received the medicines, when we retrieved registered mail at the Post Office, we were again asked to give our thumbprint to acknowledge that we had received the mail. We thought that by asking us for the thumbprints, it was to acknowledge that we had received the money. Of course, we had no problem with this. The truth, unfortunately, is that it was far from just being an acknowledgement form: it was a form, drawn up in legal English, where we were renouncing all our rights as human beings against the UK Government. We totally ignored what we were doing. We placed our thumbprint on the form. A few may have known what they were doing, but they were so poor and so in need of money that, under duress, they would have signed almost anything".

          • I will settle for the bath towels! says:

            Thank you for the lengthy, eloquent reply and looking at the depth that you have gone to research this matter, the following questions should pose no problem to you –

            1. Again, what 'blood' was spilt during this process?

            2. What relevance does this have to Cayman?

            3. Why did their own representatives encourage Independance and then sell out for three million dollars leaving the Colonial Secretary, Anthony Greenwood to pick up the pieces in Mauritius back in thelate 60's.

            4. Why did the people of Chagos get further duped into naiively accepting the money as you have described above, when their own people had already sold them out once for three million?

            I personally,would be more concerned with what is happening in Cayman today and over the next five to ten years than what occurred in 1960, 1965, 1982 in the British Indian ocean territory.

             

             

      • Pit Bull says:

        Actually my money is drenched in Cayman's profiteering from drug money laundering and tax evasion. 

  5. Anonymous says:

    what about all residents having a voice??

  6. Anonymous says:

    People before you engage in this another vision 2008and partnership for progress by baroness scotand, ask yourselves the question, what was achieved by this territory with both of the aforementioned initiatives

    • Anonymous says:

      Ummm, well, full British Citizen passports for a start. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Ummm, Caymanians have that, you just have to apply. And you can go to the UK, get given a place to live and get social security money every week. More than a few Caymanians are doing that now.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This can only be described as a 'referendum lite'!

    Things seem to be happening quicker than I predicted!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well, well.  If we have our own say here we are conspirators, so lets just go straight to the UK and say what needs to be said for the people by the people, because you can be darn sure Bush and his cronie committee are only going to say what they want said, which as we all know now, is most likely not what we want said!

    Some factors to think of:

    Corruption

    Fair immigration policies

    Separation of Church and State

    Accountability of all public officials

    Public spending and prudence with the public purse

    Effective Policing and real enforcement of PACE

    Equality, real human rights and the removal of positive discrimination

    Environment

    Development

    I'm sure you can all add more… but I certainly intend to go direct to Mr Bellingham and not just sit and hope that Mr Bush will for once take a democratic route and pass on the wishes of his people – no sir!

     

  9. The Prophet says:

    Mr Premier, try hurry find this man before they get to him.  Bring him here to wash his feet in seven mile beach water and eat turtle stew with breadfruit and corn bread, white rice and Sorrel vine. Once he eat the food done it done..

  10. Anonymous says:

    We want to have gay marriage here just as the UK is proposing for its own citizens. It's our human rights.

    • LIBRACE says:

      18.48

      Wake up its 2012,Gay people can, and do marry in the UK.

       

    • Anonymous says:

      thats a dream buddy, now wake up.

    • Anonymous says:

      However much I agree with you, unfrotunately as long as the churches control what th egovernment does, it will never happen

    • In All Honesty... says:

      …what should in fact happen instead is that the antiquated concept of marriage be entirely abolished and replaced with a simple contract between two individuals agreeing to share their worth.