On financial transparency, ‘don’t lump Gibraltar with other OTs,’ Commons told
Gibraltar’s constitutional relationship with Britain and its commitment to the highest standards of transparency in financial regulation mean it should not be “lumped in together” with other Overseas Territories in discussions on this issue, the House of Commons was told this week.
The point arose during a Commons debate on a clause in the UK’s Criminal Finances Bill, which is working its way through parliament in Britain.
The Bill seeks to amend the UK’s Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, making new provisions for offences relating to terrorist property and corporate involvement in tax evasion.
But a key concern for Gibraltar was that the wording of one particular clause meant the UK would in effect have been legislating into its Overseas Territories, including Gibraltar.
After a debate on Tuesday, the clause was eventually withdrawn and is no longer part of the Bill.
But Conservative MP Bob Neill, secretary of the Commons all-party group of Gibraltar, used the opportunity to robustly highlight a number of crucial issues for Gibraltar.
“It is important not to lump Gibraltar in with other jurisdictions where there has been controversy,” Mr Neill said.
“I say that specifically - it is important for the House to have this on the record - because I am afraid that some politicians on the other side of the land border in Spain unscrupulously seek regularly to slander Gibraltar and its constitutional and legal arrangements, doing so wholly unfairly to advance an unjustified claim against Gibraltar.”
“I would not want anything said in this House in any way to give comfort to people seeking to do down a loyal and effective British territory, so we need to draw such a distinction.”
During a lengthy contribution, Mr Neill stressed that Gibraltar’s 2006 constitution set out clearly-defined powers for the Gibraltar Government and the Governor.
He told the Commons it would be “undesirable to contemplate legislating, certainly in Gibraltar’s case, because to do so, even by Orders in Council, would have the effect of abrogating the 2006 Gibraltar constitution.”
“The constitution gives Gibraltar, and the democratic and elected Gibraltar Parliament, entire home rule in matters relating to its economy and domestic legislation, save only those matters reserved to be exercised by the Governor on behalf of the British Crown.”
The Tory MP said Gibraltar had already done “a great deal” of what the UK was working toward in terms of transparency.
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