Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee puts focus on OTs
The House of Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday launched a sub-committee to examine how the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office manages the UK’s relations with its Overseas Territories, including Gibraltar.
There are 14 UK Overseas Territories with a total population of around 270,000 people, most of whom are British citizens.
Most territories have elected assemblies and their own constitution, and each has a UK Government-appointed Governor who generally holds responsibility for managing external affairs, defence and internal security, often with the power to make or veto laws.
“The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is the lead department for Overseas Territories,” the Sub-Committee for Overseas Territories said in a statement.
“This sub-committee will examine how the FCDO manages its relationships with Overseas Territories and ask how the Government is performing against its priorities outlined in its 2012 Overseas Territories Strategy.”
The sub-committee will hold evidence sessions, roughly every two months, focusing on either an Overseas Territory or a cross-cutting theme.
“British Overseas Territories are part of the British family,” said Conservative MP Alicia Kearns, Chair of the Sub-Committee on the Overseas Territories.
“Yes they are hugely diverse, each with their own unique culture, traditions and ecosystems, but the UK Government has responsibility to them all and Parliament must play its part in holding the Government to account.”
“There has been a lack of parliamentary engagement with Overseas Territories in the past.” “Many other countries have done a far better job than the UK at ensuring that parliaments provide a forum for residents of Overseas Territories to discuss areas of concern.”
“It’s been over a decade since the Government released a paper on its approach to Overseas Territories.”
“Government departments, and principally the Foreign Office, must be held accountable for their relationships with the Overseas Territories.”
“My hope is that this Sub-Committee will go some of the way to addressing the lack of attention that Overseas Territories receive from the Government and Parliament and exploring what the relationship with London means for them.”