Published 13th May 2019, 9:40am
The United Kingdom Government has published its response to the Foreign Affairs Committee’s report, “Global Britain and the British Overseas Territories”.
Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin had heavily criticized the Committee’s report when it was published in February. The Committee’s recommendations on registers of beneficial ownership, same-sex marriage and giving all resident UK citizens the right to vote and hold office were described by the Premier as a “shameless and shameful attempt to reproduce neo-colonialism.”
The Premier has welcomed the official UK Government response as “a clear-headed restatement of the fundamental principle of self-government that underpins the relationship between Cayman and the UK.”
On the issue of registers of beneficial ownership, the UK Government response reaffirms the existing understanding of the consultative process to be followed and resists any acceleration of the timetable in advance of the end of 2023.
On same-sex marriage, the UK Government notes the on-going legal action in Cayman but makes clear that the issue “should be one for the territories to decide and legislate on”. The response confirms that “we have no plans to introduce an Order-in-Council on this issue.”
On the critical issue of voting rights, again the response recognises “the fact that immigration decisions are primarily a matter for OT governments” and makes clear that there is no intention to interfere with locally-determined franchise and representational arrangements.
“I said when the Committee’s report was released that these were only recommendations and that we needed to wait for the UK Government’s official response,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “I am very pleased that the UK has clearly listened to the representations that I and other OT leaders have made.
“In the 21st Century, there can be no justification for people 5,000 miles away, most of whom have never even visited these Islands, thinking they know better than we do how we should run our own affairs,’ he said. “The UK Government’s response thoroughly rejects that idea and I am sure it will be welcomed across the Overseas Territories.
“While we in the Cayman Islands and others in the OTs will continue to resist the UK’s attempts to impose public registers upon us in the absence of a global standard, it is positive that the UK Government has pushed back on any suggestion that the current timetable should be accelerated,” he said. “I would like to thank the Governor for the assistance he has provided in representing the views of Cayman back to the UK Government and to ensure that those making the decisions were aware of the grave concern we felt about the Committee’s recommendations.”
“The UK Government’s response underlines their commitment to developing a positive and constructive relationship with the OT’s,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “That commitment has been seen too in the recent talks over the potential Constitutional changes that we would like to put in place in order to clarify our relationship. Those negotiations are nearing a conclusion and I hope to be able to report back to the House and to the country shortly on what has been agreed.”