Premier Alden McLaughlin said the UK/Cayman constitutional changes are "unstuck."

The UK is set to issue its proposal in response to government’s constitutional changes package.

Premier Alden McLaughlin, speaking in the Legislative Assembly on Friday, said government has managed to get things “unstuck”.

“I am awaiting an imminent letter from Lord [Tariq] Ahmad on the final package of changes that has now been approved. Much time has passed since those initial conversations and those that ensued earlier this year. However, once I have the letter and the approved changes, I will advise this Honourable House and the public,” McLaughlin said in his budget statement.

Talks on the issue of constitutional changes began last year. It was triggered by the UK parliament’s decision to impose beneficial ownership registers on overseas territories.
Cayman and other overseas territories protested what they described as the overreach of the UK parliament to legislate for them.

Last December, McLaughlin had indicated that the constitutional talks with the UK had progressed well.

However, the political upheaval in the UK over Brexit stymied continued efforts. Now, it appears the ball is rolling on the issue once again.

“This is important not just to insulate ourselves against unwarranted interference and overreach by parliament in the UK, but also to ensure that we maintain the ability to grow our economy and control our own political future.

“And we were able to be persuasive across a number of necessary changes, some of which I will mention below,” the premier said in his statement.

He pointed out that the changes are principally aimed at limiting the ability of the UK to interfere locally.

He said the main items proposed by government had some form of initial agreement, but he added that he is awaiting the approved package.

Cayman has proposed safeguards to clarify that it has autonomy with respect to domestic affairs, clarification regarding Her Majesty’s Reserve Powers as noted in Section 125 of the Cayman Islands Constitution, and abolishing the power of the governor to disallow legislation passed in the Legislative Assembly.

The changes also call for the establishment of a new Police Service Commission, renaming the Legislative Assembly to Parliament and abolishing the requirement for the governor to approve Standing Orders made by the House.

“I do believe that most, if not all, of the aforementioned (changes) will remain part of that package. We shall see,” McLaughlin said.

He said that none of changes should be a cause for undue concern.

“They are aimed squarely at strengthening our Constitution in key areas, given the maturity and confidence in ourselves that our Islands have shown over the past 60 years,” he added.

The premier called on his fellow legislators to put aside partisan politics and support the changes when they are brought to the House for debate.