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S.Atlantic : New Future for UK Overseas Territories
Submitted by SARTMA.com (Juanita Brock) 17.09.2011 (Article Archived on 01.10.2011)

UK Overseas Territories in the South Atlantic include Ascension Island, St Helena, Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the Falkland Islands and British Antarctic Territory.

NEW FUTURE FOR UK OVERSEAS TERRITORIES

 

Intro by J. Brock (FINN)

 

UK Overseas Territories in the South Atlantic include Ascension Island, St Helena, Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the Falkland Islands and British Antarctic Territory.

 

A new White Paper due to be published at the end of January 2012 will set out a more refined  plan in the way the United Kingdom deals with their Overseas Territories.  In theory and practice UK Overseas Territories – fourteen of them – have the right to self-determination and handle all their affairs except for Foreign Policy and Defence.

 

However, there are areas – like those where there is little to no population – where policy needs to be honed and refined; and other issues that need attention but it is best to let the law makers do the talking:

 

 

The following is: © Crown Copyright

 

 

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague): In my statement to the House of 10 March I set out this Government’s overall vision for our overseas territories and explained that we were working with Departments across Government on a new strategy to deliver this. The National Security Council (NSC) agreed the main principles of a new strategy in July.

 

The UK Government’s fundamental responsibility and objective are to ensure the security and good governance of the territories and their peoples. The strategy recognises that our 14 overseas territories are remarkably diverse. Policies to meet these objectives need to be tailored to the specific circumstances of each territory. The strategy is designed to provide a framework in which these policies can be developed and implemented consistently and effectively.

 

Much of the Government’s work on the territories is rightly concerned with meeting our responsibilities to the territories with settled populations. Our new strategy aims to ensure that proper attention is also given to the UK’s extensive sovereign territory where there is no settled population. We want to ensure that the significance and value of this territory is better understood.

 

We have reviewed the constitutional status of our overseas territories. Each territory has its own unique constitution. The previous Government launched in 1999 a process of modernising the constitutions of the inhabited territories. We are continuing this work with a view to equipping each territory with a modem constitution. We expect these constitutions to continue to evolve and to require adjustment in the light of circumstances. But we believe that the fundamental structure of our constitutional relationships is the right one: powers are devolved to the elected Governments of the settled territories to the maximum extent possible consistent with the UK retaining powers necessary to discharge our sovereign responsibilities.

 

We believe that at this point in the history of our relationships with the territories, when a decade of constitutional revision is coming to a close, the time is not right to embark on further constitutional change. Rather our strategy is to ensure the constitutional arrangements work effectively to promote the best interests of the territories and of the UK. We are therefore focusing on three practical policy goals:

 

(i) to strengthen the engagement and interaction between the UK and the territories.

(ii) to work with territories to strengthen good governance arrangements, public financial management and economic planning where this is necessary; and

(iii) to improve the quality and range of support available to the territories.

 

The implementation of these policies will take different forms in each territory. We are now engaging in discussion with the territories and our many stakeholders to identify the priorities for action in each relationship.

 

To support this process the NSC also agreed that each UK Government Department should recognise its responsibility to engage with the territories in its area of competence and expertise. Departments will set out in papers by the end of January 2012 how they can support

 

14 Sep 2011 : Column 49WS

the territories. The FCO will retain leadership and oversight of the Government’s policies towards and relationships with the territories and continue to provide advice, where needed, to other Government Departments on engagement with the territories. If ministerial co-ordination is required we will chair a ministerial committee to resolve any issues. This is a clear demonstration that the Government as a whole are committed to the territories.

 

The Government will publish a White Paper on the overseas territories next year, Her Majesty’s diamond jubilee year. The White Paper will set out in detail this Government’s approach to the overseas territories. We will continue to report progress regularly to Parliament.

 

Foreign Secretary announces additional funding for Overseas Territories

10 March 2011

 

"Our overall vision is for our Territories to be vibrant and flourishing communities" said Foreign Secretary William Hague.

 

Our overall vision is for our Territories to be vibrant and flourishing communities, proudly retaining aspects of their British identity and generating wider opportunities for their people.  We want to cherish the rich environmental assets for which, together, we are responsible.

 

We will continue vigorously to uphold the principle of self-determination and to ensure the continued security of all the Overseas Territories. We set this commitment out clearly in the Strategic Defence and Security Review. We want to help the Territories plan their future in a competitive and unpredictable world.  We will help Territories that are struggling economically to avoid unnecessary financial dependence on the UK.  We will help Territories that now rely on UK financial support to reduce their dependence and pursue the path towards economic sustainability. We will ensure a sustained and robust British presence in our uninhabited Territories to protect them for future generations.

 

We are determined that the situation we have found in the Turks and Caicos Islands is not repeated, there or elsewhere.  We therefore want to work with Territories to make sure the right controls are in place to ensure good governance and sound management of public finances.

 

I am clear that, as well as seeking greater engagement with the Territories from all Government departments, the FCO must increase the resources allocated to this important work. Despite our challenging Spending Review settlement I have ensured that this is so. As I informed Parliament on 1 February, I have decided to increase the Overseas Territories Programme Fund to £7m per year. I have ensured the resources available to run the Overseas Territories network are maintained at a level which will permit the upgrading of a number of Governorships which were downgraded in recent years. This will help ensure that we are able to recruit Governors with the skills and experience to do these unusual and challenging jobs.

 

In addition I have reallocated resources in the current financial year to help rectify some of the budgetary weaknesses which have emerged in some territories in recent years.

 

Most importantly, and mindful of the recommendations of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I have approved a discretionary grant of £6.6m to the Turks and Caicos Islands Government to reimburse the costs incurred in the past year pursuing corruption and violent crime. This is for the Special Investigation and Prosecution Team; related civil recovery work; and the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police. My officials have coordinated this carefully with DFID’s work to underpin the Territory’s public finances.

 

This is an exceptional case. Our basic principle remains that it is an integral part of good governance for a Territory government to ensure that the criminal justice system is properly funded. Territories should not look to the UK to fund criminal investigations or prosecutions that they are reluctant to pursue themselves. But the burden in this case has been exceptional.  The fiscal rescue package put in place by DFID should enable future costs to be met from the Turks and Caicos Islands Government public purse in the normal way.

I have also approved the following smaller grants.

 

£1m to the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) Administration to strengthen the Territory’s reserves. This is necessary in the face of rising costs of operating the BIOT Patrol Vessel. These funds will also enable the Administration to support new measures to help Chagossians visit the Territory for humanitarian purposes and to contribute to environmental work in the Territory. In this context I would also like to inform the Committee that the BIOT Administration has concluded an agreement with the Blue Foundation and the Bertorelli Foundation by which the Bertorelli Foundation will donate £3.5m over the next 5 years to offset the loss of fisheries revenue which has flowed from the establishment of a full no-take Marine Protected Area. I am most grateful to these Foundations for their generous support.

 

£1m to the Government of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands to strengthen their reserves in the face of recent reductions in fisheries revenue.

 

£100,000 to the Government of the British Antarctic Territory to enable them to grant a similar amount to the Antarctic Heritage Trust. This grant will be used to support the Trust’s work repairing and maintaining heritage sites in the British Antarctic Territory, as we prepare to mark the many forthcoming centenaries of the heroic age of exploration. Maintaining British heritage sites is part and parcel of demonstrating UK sovereignty in Antarctica.

 

£1m in capital grant to the Ascension Island Government to enable them to replace the harbour crane – a critical piece of infrastructure. This grant will facilitate the restructuring of AIG’s public finances which is necessary to put them on a sustainable footing for the future.

 

I also plan to bring all aspects of the Government’s policies on the Overseas Territories together in a new White Paper in the course of the year ahead. We will want to consult widely on this. I am working with relevant Departments on a new strategy to underpin this Government’s approach to the Territories. I intend to seek agreement to this strategy across Government through the National Security Council and will update the House further once this is complete.

 

I will inform Parliament of the outcome of discussions in the NSC in due course.

 

Legislation (Territorial Extent) Bill

 

CONTENTS

 

1 Duties of the Secretary of State

 

2 Interpretation

 

3 Declaration of compatibility

 

4 Principles of legislative territorial clarity

 

5 Short title, commencement and extent

Bill 10 55/1

 

Legislation (Territorial Extent) Bill 1

 

A BILL TO: Require the Secretary of State, when preparing draft legislation for publication, to do so in such a way that the effect of that legislation on England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is separately and clearly identified; to require the Secretary of State to issue a statement to the effect that in his or her view the provisions of the draft legislation are in accordance with certain principles relating to territorial extent; and for connected purposes.

 

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

 

1 Duties of the Secretary of State

The Secretary of State must, when publishing draft legislation, ensure that the legal and financial effect of that legislation on each part of the United Kingdom is separately and clearly identified.

 

2 Interpretation

For the purposes of this Act— “draft legislation” means primary legislation published before a bill is introduced into Parliament or secondary legislation published before the bill creating the relevant instrument-making power has received Royal Assent,

 

“part of the United Kingdom” means England, Wales, Scotland or

Northern Ireland, “publish” means publication in hard or electronic form, “Secretary of State” includes a Minister of the Crown,

 

“separately and clearly identified” means, with regard to legal effect, that there is a statement in the draft legislation setting out the legal effect on each part of the United Kingdom of each of the clauses and schedules of the bill,

 

“separately and clearly identified” means, with regard to financial effect, that the financial effects of the draft legislation on each part of the Bill

 

2 Legislation (Territorial Extent) Bill

 

United Kingdom are set out in a financial memorandum accompanying the draft legislation, including any impact on Barnett formula allocations (or, should the Barnett formula be superseded, its successor formula).

 

3 Declaration of compatibility

(1)    The Secretary of State must, when publishing draft legislation—

 

(a) make a statement to the effect that in his or her view the provisions of the Bill are compatible with the principles of legislative territorial clarity, or

 

(b) make a statement to the effect that although he or she is unable to make a statement of compatability the government nonetheless wishes to proceed.

 

(2) The statement must be in writing, be published in such manner as the Secretary of State making it considers appropriate and be laid before each House of Parliament.

 

4 Principles of legislative territorial clarity

 

The principles of legislative territorial clarity are that—

(a) every citizen of the United Kingdom has the right to see how proposed

changes to the law will affect them, and

 

(b) Members of the House of Commons have the right to see how proposed

changes to the law will affect their constituents.

 

5..Short title, commencement and extent

 

(1) This Act may be cited as the Legislation (Territorial Extent) Act 2011.

 

(2) This Act comes into force at the end of the period of 3 months beginning with the day on which it is passed.

 

(3) This Act extends to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

 

Legislation (Territorial Extent) Bill

 

© Parliamentary copyright House of Commons 2011 Applications for reproduction should be made in writing to the Information Policy Team, Office of Public Sector Information, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU

 

PUBLISHED BY AUTHORITY OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS LONDON — THE STATIONERY OFFICE LIMITED

 

Printed in the United Kingdom by the Stationery Office Limited

 

To require the Secretary of State, when preparing draft legislation for publication, to do so in such a way that the effect of that legislation on England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is separately and clearly identified; to require the Secretary of State to issue a statement to the effect that in his or her view the provisions of the draft legislation are in accordance with certain principles relating to territorial extent; and for connected purposes.

 

Presented by Harriett Baldwin, supported by

Mr David Davis, Tracey Crouch,

Bob Stewart, Andrea Leadsom, Esther McVey,

Damian Hinds, David Tredinnick, Mr Peter Bone,

Chris Heaton-Harris, Richard Graham

and Mr Charles Walker.

 

Ordered, by The House of Commons,

to be Printed, 30 June 2010

 

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