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Bermuda could play 'central role' for overseas territories

Bermuda could play “a central role” in defining future relationships between the UK and other overseas territories.Overseas Territories Minister Henry Bellingham today told invited guests in a speech delivered at Bermuda College, that he believed other territories could learn from the Island's successes and mistakes.“I believe that Bermuda is well placed to lead the discussion with other territories,” he said. “Years ago, it was people who, through their innovation and ideas, created the success that Bermuda enjoys today, despite current financial challenges. And it is people like them who today help to ensure that Bermuda maintains its position as a leading and high quality financial services centre. It is new ideas that will shape the territories' relationships with the United Kingdom and promote the mutually beneficial co-operation that our new strategy seeks to capture.“I think that Bermuda, as a sophisticated and high quality business and tourist destination and with a highly devolved and developed government system, can play a central role in defining the partnerships and the future relationship between the UK and the territories.”Mr Bellingham spoke in advance of the UK's White Paper on the Overseas Territories, which is due next year.It is expected to detail the British Government's approach to its 14 overseas territories, of which Bermuda is the most populous.He said: “We believe that at this point in the history of our relationships with the territories, when a decade of constitutional revision is coming to a close, the time is not right to embark on further constitutional change. Rather our strategy is to make sure the constitutional arrangements work properly to promote the best interests of the territories and of the UK, both now and in the future,” he said.The Conservative Party member and MP for North West Norfolk said the UK Government is interested in hearing how territories might partner with it to “contribute specific technical expertise or help develop the capacity of territory governments”.“I have heard about [Premier Paula Cox's] recent initiatives to strengthen governance mechanisms and applaud her for this,” he said. “This is a broad and important agenda.“It is not easy to get this balance right but strong governance mechanisms are vital as we all face the challenges of the very unsettling times for the global economy. The situation that we are now handling in the Turks and Caicos Islands is one that we do not want to see repeated in other territories and we will be seeking, through the strategy and other mechanisms, to ensure that we do not.”