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Inquiry into UK’s relationship with Overseas Territories opens

William Wragg, chairman of the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (File Photograph)

The people of Bermuda have been asked to give their views on the island’s relationship with Britain as part of a House of Commons inquiry into the constitutional arrangements of the UK’s dealings with Overseas Territories.

The inquiry, entitled “The Status of the UK’s Overseas Territories in the 21st century”, will assess whether the relationship is “satisfactory and appropriate” for the modern age.

A spokesman for the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee of MPs, which is conducting the inquiry, said: “While ten of the UK’s Overseas Territories are self-governing, the UK is responsible for their defence and foreign relations.

“The interaction between the Overseas Territories and the UK Parliament and Government was brought to attention during the passage of the Sanctions and Money Laundering Act 2018, where the unusual step was taken to extend the Act to cover their jurisdictions.

“The committee is seeking evidence on how the UK Parliament and the Civil Service engages with the Overseas Territories and across different government departments; how their interests are represented in UK Parliament; and how the rights of British overseas citizens are protected.”

The committee has asked people living in the Overseas Territories to make written submissions.

William Wragg, the chairman of the committee, said that there was no “one size fits all” blueprint for Britain’s relationship with individual territories.

He said: “The UK Overseas Territories are an important part of the UK family.

“With ten territories permanently inhabited by British nationals and all 14 represented at the international level by the UK, we cannot deny their unique constitutional position.

“Each territory has its own legislative processes and bespoke relationship with the UK, but with no official representation in UK Parliament, these constitutional arrangements are often misunderstood or overlooked.

“We recognise that there is no ‘one size fits all’ framework for relations between the UK and the Overseas Territories, but by better understanding how existing arrangements operate in practice, we can better assess whether they are satisfactory and appropriate in the 21st century.”

David Burt sparked controversy last year when it was announced in the Throne Speech in November that the Government had commissioned a $50,000 report into the practicalities of self-governance for the island.

An opinion poll this year found that 83 per cent of people rejected independence for Bermuda.

The committee spokesman said that the inquiry would look into: “What is the UK Government’s relationship with the Overseas Territories?

“What is the UK Parliament’s relationship with the Overseas Territories?

“How is legislation made in the Overseas Territories and what role does the UK Government and UK Parliament have in these processes?

“Are effective mechanisms in place for the interests of the Overseas Territories to be represented internationally?

“Are the rights and interests of British overseas citizens effectively protected by the current constitutional arrangements?”

People wishing to make written submissions to the parliamentary inquiry have until 5pm on September 4 to do so at committees.parliament.uk/call-for-evidence/3109

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Published April 22, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated April 22, 2023 at 8:00 am)

Inquiry into UK’s relationship with Overseas Territories opens

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