The third All Party Parliamentary Group for the Cayman Islands wound up this week topping off a very busy visit for the five-member delegation invited here by the Cayman Islands Government.
This year marked a milestone as it was the first time the group went to the Sister Islands, with the group also making a number of other stops including the Eastern Districts, the Turtle Farm and holding numerous meetings with representatives from a number of sectors.
‘We are much more informed, and we will be making a report to discuss how to pursue the issues that were raised,’ said delegation head Labour MP Ian Davidson.
Conservative MP Nigel Evans said since his first visit ten years ago he has seen amazing developments, and was particularly impressed with the growth the tourism sector has witnessed..
‘During our trip, we had the opportunity to discuss a variety of issues, including the White List, tourism and development, and policing,’ said Mr. Davidson.
‘People have been expressing views that were not identical for example on the Constitution, which will inform our future discussions,’ he said.
Mr. Davidson said the group had also been looking to answer their own concerns.
‘For one, the balance to be struck between environment and development,’ he said.
‘We have a much fuller understanding of the issues, but how this is going to be resolved is up to Caymanians themselves. We saw some incompatible views, so we will be waiting to see what happens.’
He also observed the group was interested in learning more about the financial services sector.
‘We observed a general unhappiness with the White List,’ he said.
‘The chair of the APPG for the Cayman Islands will be pushing for Cayman on this matter.’
APPG member Baroness Llin Golding noted that the same week the group came to Cayman, there was a short question tabled in the House of Lords to the Minister about getting Cayman on the White List.
Saying the fact the Cayman had been left of the White List ‘very disappointing,’ APPG member Michael Fallon said the pressure will be kept up to make sure Cayman is put on the list both in the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
‘We now know of the very large international contribution Cayman has made to learning the lessons from the credit crunch, for example, it is as much in Britain’s interest to have Cayman on the list as it is in Cayman’s.’
‘We get very little press here in Cayman about what is going on in the UK, it would be helpful if we had more reporting of what is going on in the UK,’ said Mr. Davidson.
He noted that because there is not much access in Cayman to UK television channels, he proposed doing something about unblocking television channels from being viewed over the internet in the Overseas Territories.
Mr. Evans said the group had been bowled over by the Little Cayman Research Centre housing the Central Caribbean Marine Institute, saying the hope was the work being done there could be tied in with research being done at UK universities for the benefit of both countries.
Mr. Davidson praised the new tourism apprenticeship programme, remarking on its inclusiveness to Caymanians of all ages looking to enter the tourism sector.
‘This is a good use of human capital, and its is clear the government is pursuing this vigorously,’ he said.
Much discussion surrounded Cayman’s new constitution, with the general consensus being that judging on what had transpired with other Overseas Territories in recent years, an amicable solution was likely.
‘The British position is more clearly defined as to our responsibility, but we are not coming into this with a set agenda,’ said Mr. Davidson.
‘You have to make it clear to say what it is you want and you are going to have to resolve where on the spectrum you want to sit.’
He noted that while the Foreign Office ‘plays hardball,’ the Cayman Islands was certainly not a pushover.
He and other members of the group remarked that it was important not to blow perceived possibilities out of proportion, as in the case of human rights in relation to homosexuals.
Urging a mindset of ‘live and let live,’ Mr. Evans said it was worth adopting a view that ‘everyone is different, everyone is equal.’
Mr. Davidson noted that gay rights came about in the UK as a result of a search for fairness in matters such as inheritance.
‘We have to be a little calmer,’ he said.