UK Parliament seats for Overseas Territories

 

Abril de 2006


A bill to make provision for the representation of the British Overseas Territories in the European Union and in Parliament was presented this week by Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski from Shrewsbury and Atcham.

Basically the Bill proposes that Overseas Territories be represented in the House of Lords with the appointment of “two, three extra peers” plus extending specific help through the United Kingdom Representative Office in Brussels to overcome the European Union red tape and bureaucracy hurdles in funds allocation.


However the Bill does not go as far as with the other European Union Overseas Territories from France and Holland who participate in the elections for their national assemblies and for the European Union Parliament and are provided all assistance possible to lobby effectively in Brussels.


“As a result, those overseas territories have far more recognition in the EU and secure far more financial assistance than do ours”, pointed out Mr. Kawczynski.
The Bill according to the MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham would do two very important things, “first, it would give our British overseas territories the ability to have representation here in Parliament in the House of Lords. The Prime Minister would be able to appoint two or three extra peers. Those extra peers would represent all 14 overseas territories”.


Secondly, “the Bill would enable us to provide specific help for our overseas territories through the United Kingdom Representative Office in Brussels, to overcome some of the hurdles, in the form of red tape and bureaucracy that the European Union throws in their way in allocating money to them. The money is there, but every time that they want to draw money from their accounts, the EU throws more red tape at them”.
Mr. Kawczynski said Overseas Territories “cannot rely on second hand information passed down from the Foreign Office” particularly since “the 14 overseas territories are affected increasingly by EU law and they need representation there”.


“I hope that this Bill will reverse the dissatisfaction that some overseas territories feel towards the Foreign Office and how it ignores them and their concerns. We need to show more solidarity with our overseas territories and the Foreign Office needs to work more closely with them in the European Union to maximise their benefits”.


“I have met representatives from many of the overseas territories. In fact, this morning I met representatives from the Falkland Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands. I was greatly upset that some of them said that independence is “inevitable”, because I would hate for us to lose any of the remaining 14 overseas territories. They are extremely important to us strategically and historically”.


MP Kawczynski said that thanks to the Labour Government, in 2002 the citizens of the OT were granted full British citizenship, so 220,000 British citizens live in these territories and “we have a duty and responsibility to look after their interests and to promote them here and in the European Union. We also derive tremendous military benefits from these territories. Their allowing us to use their territory and their surrounding waters gives us a huge military outreach that greatly exceeds the outreach that we would enjoy from our own country alone. We lease some of the land, of course, to our principal ally, the United States, and gain significant financial benefit from those leases, as well as good will from our number one ally”.


He also made it a point to name all the “unique and very special to us” overseas territories: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, St. Helena, Turk and Caicos Islands, Pitcairn Island, South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands, British Indian Ocean Territory, and British Antarctic Territory.


Following parliamentary procedure the Bill was then ordered to be brought in by Daniel Kawczynski, Andrew Rosindell, Mr. Tobias Ellwood, Mr. David Jones and Mr. Stephen Crabb and was read the First time, and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 12 May, and to be printed [Bill 168].


MP Daniel Kawczynski together with Dai Harvard, Labour MP for Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney and Danny Alexander, Liberal Democrat MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey were scheduled to travel to the Falklands last February but cancelled the visit because of an important terrorism vote in the House.

 

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