Friend, foe in Britain

A recent debate in the UK House of Commons revealed that the Cayman Islands has both friend and foe in the British parliament, and that the London Government has left Cayman on its own.

While conservative Member of Parliament Mark Simmonds has been standing up for Cayman and much of the Caribbean, another conservative MP, Mr. Tony Baldry, has been seizing every opportunity to bash the Overseas Territories.

‘Let us be clear about that. We are closing Department for International Development offices in Honduras and Lima, so it is strange that wealthy countries such as Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands expect an indefinite contingent liability in respect of the UK,’ Mr. Baldry said in the House of Commons earlier this month during a debate on Caribbean aid. ‘That is the bee in my bonnet, which I shall return to whenever it comes up.’

At the same time, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development Gareth Thomas, made one of the most outright statements that Britain may not be helping Cayman recover from the hurricane disaster.

‘From our initial soundings, our expectation is that the Cayman Islands should be able to meet the recovery costs from Hurricane Ivan in full and on its own, through private sector resources, insurance and possible borrowing. However, a study is being undertaken. We are in close contact with the consultant working for the Cayman Islands Government on that issue and we will receive the work in due course,’ the Government Minister said.

While one MP targets Cayman and the UK Government deserts the islands, another parliamentarian continues to plug for Cayman and other Overseas Territories.

‘This country has a duty to look after and act for those countries internationally,’ Mr. Simmonds said.

He went on to speak of UK bullying tactics with the OTs, contending that if a territory is unwilling to comply with London’s requests, the colonial Government threatens to have its own way through legislation.

Cayman had an experience in this regard in late 2003 and earlier this year on a UK wish for compliance with the EU Savings Tax Directive.

‘The Government have failed to recognise the significant implications of EU laws on the territories. Whether we like it or not British law has become increasingly entwined with that of the European Union. The territories are therefore subject not only to British Law but to those of the EU. That has created serious issues for the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands, which have developed into successful financial centres.’

He made dire predictions for these Caribbean jurisdictions if they are made to apply the proposed EU tax regulations, ‘If the directives are fully implemented, the effects on the territories will be immense, not only economically, but socially and politically’.

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