UK committee opens inquiry into relationship with OTs

Tom Tugendhat, Commons Select Committee chairman

The United Kingdom’s Commons Select Committee is conducting an inquiry into the relationship between the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British Overseas Territories.

According to an announcement by the committee, the inquiry will look into the resilience of the overseas territories, how effectively the FCO manages its responsibilities toward them, and how it envisages their future.

The committee is looking to collect information about the governance and financing of the overseas territories, including the Cayman islands, their adherence to human rights frameworks, and what benefits the U.K. and its territories get from each other.

“The Overseas Territories have a special place in our constitution. They are self-governing but part of the United Kingdom. As our place in the world changes, we need to think about the effect on them and whether the structure of our relationships still works,” said Commons Select Committee Chairman Tom Tugendhat. “The Committee will look at these distant parts of our community and look at how we work to support all our communities.”

The committee stated that this inquiry has been spurred by recent events that have strained the relationship between the U.K. and its overseas territories, including hurricanes, data leaks and Brexit.

“This led some OTs to question the Government’s willingness to support them. Relations have been put under further strain due to high-profile instances of divergence between the UK and some of the OTs on issues such as civil rights and financial transparency,” the committee stated. “In the light of these concerns, this inquiry will consider the resilience of the OTs, how effectively the FCO manages its responsibilities towards them, and how it envisages their future. The inquiry is likely to be structured around overarching themes but may look at individual OTs, as and when appropriate.”

Written submissions about these issues can be made through Sept. 3 online at www.parliament.uk.