UK pledges to represent OT’s interests

| 18/11/2010

(CNS): Following the Overseas Territories Consultative Council (OTCC) in London this week the UK’s minister with responsibility for the territories has promised to represent their interests on the international stage. Henry Bellingham MP a Conservative member of the coalition government said the UK government was determined to improve and strengthen its relationship with the OTs. He also noted that the various departments of the UK government would also now be more closely involved in work relating to the overseas territories. The main council meeting took place on Wednesday when the OT leaders and the UK talked about rising crime, environmental issues and public finances.

In his communiqué about the OTCC Bellingham said the UK government valued its relationship with the Overseas Territories. “I had meetings with all the Territory leaders on Tuesday and chaired my first Overseas Territories Consultative Council on Wednesday. I was pleased to welcome over 250 guests to a reception that I hosted in honour of Territory leaders. Our discussions at the Consultative Council meeting have been wide-ranging, open and at times, frank,” the new FCO minister said.

“This week has been a clear demonstration of the desire of both the UK and the Territories to work closely together towards the security and prosperity of the Territories. I know that view is shared by my Ministerial colleagues. I am glad that no less than seven of my Ministerial colleagues from across Government were able to attend the Consultative Council. This clearly demonstrates that the Overseas Territories are a priority right across the Government, and not just in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office,” he added.

All parties agreed on the need to work together to help the commercial and economic development of the territories during the meeting a release from the governor’s office stated.

During their separate session on financial services and public finances, the UK and the Caribbean Territories and Bermuda agreed the importance of complying with international financial sector standards (on tax transparency, financial regulation and anti-money laundering/counter terrorism financing) and that these standards must be applied without discrimination. They also spoke of the importance of continuing to take action to return public finances to a sustainable footing and to work on a framework for fiscal responsibility.

In the criminal justice session in which all OTs took part there were discussions about rising crime including the issue of drugs and organised crime and about possible UK technical assistance to the territories in these areas. In the session on transport there were discussions about maritime and aviation safety regulations and the importance of meeting international safety standards. Territory leaders raised concerns about the cost of this and about Air Passenger Duty.

The environment was also an important topic of conversation and it was agreed that territory governments and relevant UK departments would work together to help manage the natural environment and the impact of climate change.


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  1. Anonymous says:

    CNS – Wikileaks reveals the way the FCO looks after the interests of the OTs. I thought that you might want to post a link at least to this Guarian story which indicates that some in the FCO still refer to the people of the OTs as "Man Fridays":


  2. Anonynous says:

    It means that they ALL will be keeping a keen eye on us and make no mistake, all in the good graces of the mpyther country. They have had a good practice run with the Turks and Caycos and they are willing to extend the rope a likkle longer. Our Leaders should be very vigilant in their geat ideas and open arms policies as we point a finger at them, 4 are pointed back at us. We need to learn to read between the lines as we are endangering our future generations to follow. If it’s too good to be true, it propably is.

  3. Alan Nivia says:

    Dear Mr. Bellingham,

    Why shy away from the failure of OT’s to comply with the ECHR obligations?  I understand why your Government is too cowardly to complain to China about rights abuse, but to turn a blind eye to breaches in British territory is a disgrace.


    • Anonymous says:

      Obviiously the UK Govt. does not agree that there is a failure to comply with ECHR obligations in the territories. It has ensured that there is direct right of petition to the European Court and that our Bill of Rights gives effect to the ECHR.  

      • Alan Nivia says:

        That Bill of Rights is non-compliant in quite significant areas, especially in carve outs and discrimination provisions.  The UK just went along with the draft for a smoother ride, knowing it will played out in the Courts over time.  After all they were negotiating with people foaming at the mouth (quite literally in a couple of cases) about the prospect that a long term gay couple in a stable relationship might want the protection of enhanced legal rights.

        When you are negotiating with fundamentalist bigots (stress on the "mentalist") there is only so much you can expect.

        • Anonymous says:

          Wrong. You are apparently not aware and have therefore not considered the following:

          1. Section 16 of the Constitution gives effect to Article 14 of the ECHR.   The language is the same: "sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status". What it does not do is extend itself to matters outside the Bill of Rights as does the ECHR which is limited to Convention rights. Protocol 12, which would have extended this non-Convention rights, has not been signed or ratified by the UK and is not binding upon Cayman.  Obviously the fact that "or other status" has been construed to include discrimination based on sexual orientation would not mean that the Bill of Rights does not comply with the ECHR.

          2. There is a ‘margin of appreciation’ in applying Convention rights which obliges the court to take into account the history, culture and philosophy of the state (or territory). The way the Convention is applied in the Netherlands need not be precisely the way it is applied in Cayman. 

          3. Many rights are qualified rights and may be limited if reasonably necessary and proportionate to achieve a legitimate aim. Issues such as residence and employment fall under this heading. It is both necessary and appropriate for there to be such "carve outs". 

          4. The Constitution is a document issued by the UK Govt. If it is in breach of the ECHR the UK would be liable and any action would be brought against the UK. Obviously the UK would not be knowingly in breach simply to appease "foaming at the mouth" bigots as you suggest. 

          5. The Cayman delegation did not behave irrationally as you portray. Its position was informed by advice from leading Constitutional experts (which you are evidently not). 

          6. The European court has recently ruled that the refusal of Austria to recognise homosexual marriage is not a breach of the ECHR  and in particular is not discrimination within the meaning of the ECHR. The right to marry should be determined by national law. Note that UK supported Austria in this position.The court indicated that the right to family life may include homosexual couples and this may require equivalent legal protection and recognition e.g. in terms of civil partnerships. Note that the right to family life is contained in the Bill of Rights. 

          Your argument holds no water.     

  4. Libertarian says:

    CNS:  "the UK’s minister with responsibility for the territories has promised to represent their interests on the international stage. Henry Bellingham MP a Conservative member of the coalition government said the UK government was determined to improve and strengthen its relationship with the OTs."

    That is, the ministers under a coalition government!  I just hope positive responses from all other ministers and Members of Parliaments; especially, from the Labor Party in the UK as well.

    We can’t forget when we under the Labor minister, Chris Bryant – the investigations, the taking over of TCI government, the threats and monkey business they subjected us to with the tax issue and issue of corruption. Now.. a coalition government appears to be a little more on our side. But talk is cheap, and promises don’t mean nothing… we will just have to see.

    As far as I know, the FCO and Members of Parliament, should always take seriously the personal advice from leaders and experts of the Overseas Territories who live in the territories, born and raised there. It takes a deal of humility and respecting the inhabitants of OT’s.

    First, there are laws, I am afraid, that are against the DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATION of the inhabitants of Overseas Territories. Whenever there is a change or transition of power in the UK Parliament, we are back to square one as with a new FCO minister and not knowing his agenda over the people’s of these islands. Even in our Constitution, the Governor can by the advice of special interest or Her Majesty’s Interest, can override his will over the will of the people’s democratically elected cabinet. Although the people put their representatives in power, the UK can disregard the wishes of the majority of the people in the OT’s.

    Maybe the Premier ought to address such issues and seek to amend still "colonial laws" that are a threat to our future generation! With due respect to the FCO minister, your words of promise are accepted; however, action is what we need to see and simply allowing us to BE!  And who knows after you, we get someone who know’s nothing about prudence, justice, wisdom, and being humble.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, maybe you could become a borough of England like Maritnique is a department of France. Then you could have an MP in Parliament for all that’s worth. People you didn’t elect would still be telling you what to do about all kinds of things. Some of them would live in Brussels and speak a foreign language. Or you can become an "independent country" and be no. 201 in the Wikipedia population list (or if you just count "citizens" you can be right after San Marino, but you’ll still be bigger than Vatican City) and you’ll still have people you didn’t elect telling you what to do and every couple of years they’ll change and sometimes your candidate won’t win and you’ll feel screwed.

      You guys are such whiners. Cayman has it great compared to 99% of the rest of the world, including 100% of everywhere else in or bordering on the Caribbean.

      • Libertarian says:

        You miss the point!

        Cleverly the only option Britain has brought to us is either – Independence or Dependent, remaining under her. That’s just it!  Even our options are limited!  They dictate what we can do and what we can’t do even to the point of our self-determination!

        Now, if you don’t see anything wrong with that… then I suggest you study U.S. history or any other place of history as to the reason why they broke from the UK in the first place! And don’t misrepresent me. I am not saying that we should go Independent. What I am saying is  –


    • Pauly Cicero says:

      The UK will prudently, judiciously, wisely and humbly cut Cayman loose.

      • law says:

        "there are laws, I am afraid, that are against the DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATION of the inhabitants of Overseas Territories. Whenever there is a change or transition of power in the UK Parliament, we are back to square one as with a new FCO minister and not knowing his agenda over the people’s of these islands."

        Pauly, I believe in completely what he says!  I don’t think Caymanians should just swing in the hammocks and allow the UK to micromanage them to death or rule over them to an absolute disregard of what is democracy.

        And this thing about scaring people with the issue of "Independence." Alot of countries failed under independence and many prospered like the United States, breaking away from England. But the people should not be intimidated from voicing their opinion or opposing of what they seem to view as an unfair government. The have the right to have their voices heard in Parliament or UN or where ever! 

        This mentality of "independence-fear" is being used as a tool to hush people up! That they can’t do this and they can’t do that!  If you love your home as far as I know, the people should be of first importance! 



  5. Anonymous says:

    CNS why is it that any positive news is placed in small type and never really headlined? If I didn’t scroll down here I would never have seen this. We need to put the positive out front more often.

    CNS: When we are given the opportunity to interview Mr Bellingham and the chance to ask questions about the meeting and the relationship between the UK and the OTs rather than being supplied with what they want to say about it, it will definitely be given headline space.

    The lesson to be learned here is always scroll down the CNS home page.

    • Dred says:

      No one knows if this REALLY was a positive meeting or not. This was only spoon fed portion of the meeting. For all we know the other 90% could have been all negative.