Future UK-OT relations to dominate London meeting

| 18/11/2011

HENRY+BELLINGHAM,MP+AND+PREMIER+MCKEEVA+BUSH+8FEB11.jpg(CNS): The future relationship between the UK and the overseas territories will be top of the agenda at this year’s consultative council which takes place on Wednesday and Thursday of next week (23-24 November) in London. Hosted by the Foreign Office’s OT’s minister Henry Bellingham the meeting includes leaders and elected officials from all of the UK’s territories and will focus on Britain's strategy for the proposed 2012 White Paper. The FCO minister said a lot had happened since the last annual meeting but he was pleased that the UK had a clear plan on engaging with the territories.

“Much has happened since Territory leaders gathered here 12 months ago,” he said from London. “I am delighted that the UK Government has developed and agreed a clear strategy towards the Territories focused on increasing our engagement with them; working together to strengthen good governance arrangements, public financial management and economic planning, where necessary; and developing external support for the Territories. “

Bellingham will not be the only UK government representative as several of his coalition government colleagues will be attending which the minister said was a sign of the strengthening engagement of the whole of the UK government with the territories. 

“I look forward to discussing with Territory leaders their ideas for the development of our partnership which will help us develop our thinking for the White Paper on the Overseas Territories that we intend to publish next year,” he added.

There will be sessions on a wide range of subjects as well as the white paper including: aviation safety, good governance, criminal justice, economic development, and environment and climate change. 

The Cayman delegation which among others includes the premier and the education minister will be leaving for the UK at the weekend as they will also be engaged in meetings with the other OT leaders as well as private sessions with the UK government.

Alongside Cayman the United Kingdom has another 13 territories spread across the globe, the last of its former colonies which have not yet sought independence. They range from the island of Pitcairn with only 47 inhabitants, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, to Bermuda, in the middle of the Atlantic which has a population of over 62,000. The total population of the territories is around 239,000and a significant number of them are in the Caribbean.

The Consultative Council, held annually since 1999, is a forum for discussion of key policy issues between British Ministers and Heads of Overseas Territories' Governments.

The Foreign Secretary announced in September the main principles of the Government’s new strategy towards the Overseas Territories. This included cross-Government agreement, endorsed by the Prime Minister, that each Department should recognise its responsibility to engage with the Territories in its area of competence and expertise. The new strategy is currently open to consultation, which can be found here.


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