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Commons committee launches inquiry into UK’s relationship with OTs

The United Kingdom’s constitutional relationship with its overseas territories in the 21st Century is being explored in an inquiry by the UK Parliament’s Public Affairs and Constitutional Affairs Committee.

The committee is calling for evidence on thoughts of this relationship with its overseas territories, including Gibraltar, going forward.

The inquiry comes at a time when Gibraltar is also debating and exploring what a modern relationship will look like with the UK after Brexit.

For its part, the Committee said that while 10 of its 14 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 said on its website.

“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.”

Meanwhile William Wragg MP, Chair of PACAC, said the UK Overseas Territories are an “important part” of the UK family.

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

“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.”

There are several questions set out by the Committee which will explore various aspects as it invited evidence on this.

The Committee is questioning whether the UK’s current constitutional arrangements as regards the Overseas Territories are “satisfactory and appropriate” in the 21st Century.

It also wants to look at what is the UK Government’s relationship with the Overseas Territories, including whether the UK Civil Service engages effectively with the Overseas Territories; and whether are they appropriately considered within different departments across Whitehall.

The Committee will also consider the UK Parliament’s relationship with the Overseas Territories, including whether the legislative process in the UK currently operates effectively in relation to Overseas Territories, both in theory and in practice.

It will also question whether the interests of the Overseas Territories are effectively represented within the UK Parliament.

It questions how legislation is made in the Overseas Territories and what role the UK Government and UK Parliament have in these processes.

Furthermore, it is asking whether there are effective mechanisms in place for the interests of the Overseas Territories to be represented internationally.

And, finally, it will look at whether the rights and interests of British Overseas Citizens are “effectively protected” by the current constitutional arrangements.

On its website, the Committee asks for the submission to be concise, adding that if one is over 3,000 words, there be a short summary as well.

It also asks that submissions include an introduction to the individual or organisation making the submissions and the reasons for doing so.

It also asks that the submission should not have been published anywhere before, in publications including blogs, newspaper articles, websites and journals.

The deadline for the submissions to committee is 5pm on Monday September 4.

For more information or to submit evidence for the inquiry visit https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/327/public-administration-and-constitutional-affairs-committee/news/194822/the-status-of-the-uks-overseas-territories-in-the-21st-century/

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